"I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors." - Thomas Jefferson (appears in the Jefferson Memorial)

That gangrene on our society called talk radio – it needn’t and shouldn’t be gangrenous, but too typically is – runs to its worst when the effort is to draw lines between the perfectly reasonable “us” and the out of line, irrational, zany “them.” It’s worst when it’s subtle – alert listeners won’t get what’s being done surruptitiously.

Here’s the background story (and the facts happen not to be disputed, because the incident was captured on Tri-Met cameras).

A Portland resident named Randy Albright was pedaling his bicycle (he happens to be an activist on bicycling issues) around Hawthorne Bridge, one of the bridges crossing the Willamette River in Portland. He was not riding in the bicycle lane (most Portland bicyclists are scrupulous about sticking to these) since it had extra garvel that day, but in the main lane.. A Tri-Met bus rolled up and passed him, narrowly, there being little space available. He shook his fist at the bus; he may have swung at it with his fist as well. Then he followed the bus and, when it arrived at its next stop, he tried to get the attention of the bus driver. He apparently either did not, or the driver ignored him. Albright then walked his bicycle in front of the bus and planted himself and it there.

Almost immediately, a man exited the bus, swung at Albright and pushed him back onto the sidewalk. (Albright has said he was battered.) The man then re-entered the bus, which promptly drove off. Albright has filed a complaint against the driver; the activist passenger evidently has not been identified.

Talk jock Lars Larson, whose home station is Portland’s KXL, asks the following on his web site: “Bicyclist suing Tri Met for his own road rage. Was rider [presumably, the bus passenger] unreasonable?”

Notice how carefully this has been framed. The road rage of the bicyclist is highlighted, but that of the bus driver and his passenger is not. Was the passenger unreasonable for beating up the bicyclist? We’re invited (not very subtly) to say that the beating up was perfectly understandable. The bus driver’s responsibility, if any, is not addressed.

Those thin-skinned, highfalutin’ bicyclists! Those put-upon drivers and passengers in motor vehicles!

Given the facts of the case, most sensible people would assess culpability a little more broadly. Albright was asking for more than he was owed when he rode in the motor vehicle lane on a busy, central Portland bridge at rush hour; other options were available. He was pushing it past the point of sympathy; most people driving or riding on that bus would have been ticked. The bus driver, for his part, should have been more careful and he shouldn’t have allowed an evidently violent passenger off the bus – and he shouldn’t have just hauled off after one of his passengers beat up a (then) pedestrian. As for the passenger: Is Larson really suggesting an endorsement of road rage, of beating up people on the streets who irritate us? Is he really suggesting that’s a reasonable thing to do? (He unhooks himself from that one, of course, by merely posing the question – but the rhetorical work has been done.)

There’s plenty of fault to go around in a case like this. But acknowledging that wouldn’t do such a good job of getting our blood boiling at the horrible group of “them.”

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Those porous borders around the Northwest are super-sensitive to legislation, maybe more so than anywhere else in the states. Subtle distinctions can have a big effect on interstate traffic.

As a student at the University of Idaho at Moscow, I would watch from my form window toward the west, to the point where Idaho became Washington, and where cars slipped between the two on Highway 8. Early in the evening, especially on Friday and Saturday nights, I would watch the steady stream of white lights from Pullman – heavy traffic to Moscow. After midright, the lights would turn red, traffic headed back to Pullman, home of Washington State University. The reason? Idaho’s drinking age then was 19, to Washington’s 21.

Change now drinking to smoking, as reports now point to smokers flocking across the border from Washington – where almost all public places, including bars, are required to be smoke-free – to Idaho, where the rules aren’t quite so strict. That’s ironic, since Idaho did toughen its statewide smoking rules considerably just a couple of years back.

So expect to see some altered traffic flows on the Lewiston-Clarkston, Pullman-Moscow and Spokane-Coeur d’Alene lines. The legal marketplace at work.

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Ron Saxton, Republican candidate for governor, is a man pulled in a couple of dstinct directions. His main appeal is as the guy who’s centrist enough to win over voters in the general election. But to get to the general election, he has to win a primary election where most of the voters are conservative.

Ron SaxtonThat makes for a question ticklish in the extreme: How “moderate” – or “conservative” – is Ron Saxton?

All this should be prefaced with our usual disclaimer: Such labels as “conservative,” “moderate” and “liberal” have long since passed any point of real meaning, especially when the most “conservative” politicians in our nation’s capital qualify as the most radical major politicians of the last couple of generations. The terms have more to do with branding and with group self-identification, and there they have real political impact and significance.

In running against two candidates commonly defined as “more conservative” – Kevin Mannix and Jason Atkinson – Saxton has been shorthanded as the moderate in the race. He hasn’t really seemed to push against that definition, maybe because of the general election advantages it could confer.

But he has gotten support from a number of Oregonians who define themselves as very conservative indeed, and that may – with less than four months remaining till primary election deadline – start to send some ripples, and shivers, around the state.

Veteran tax activist Don McIntire is one. But perhaps more immediately notable is the endorsement from Rob Kremer, a conservative Portland broadcast commentator (especially on education). He had no criticism for Mannix or Atkinson, but, in addition to making the general election electibility case for Saxton, he said this:

Before going into my reasons for supporting Ron, I want to address an important issue: lots of conservative bloggers have been trying to paint Ron Saxton as a liberal, or as an inauthentic Republican – a RINO.

Let me put it simply: They are wrong.

Ron is not only the most fiscally conservative candidate running for governor, I believe he has the best grasp of precisely what is wrong about they way Oregon government operates right now and how to correct it.

On social issues, Ron is conservative where it matters: he would sign a ban on partial birth abortion, and he supports parental notification. He may not be as much as an abortion purist as the other candidates, but I have news for you: it doesn’t matter who the governor is – you’re not going to get more than this.

Writing in the left-leaning BlueOregon blog, Kari Chisholm concluded, “Ron Saxton. Conservative. ‘Nuff said.”

How does Saxton define himself? Summing up on his web site’s home page, there is this: “I am the only candidate in this race who is not a career politician. I am a lifelong, common-sense Republican who has valuable private sector experience.
I have a record of success as a fiscal conservative. And I am not remotely interested in maintaining the status quo.”

Note closely that last sentence – it may be be the best key to peeling the onion. And add up these issue-points scattered through his page on issues stands:

  • To promote efficiency, the private sector will be considered to deliver services at all levels of government.
  • Oregon citizens-and Oregon businesses-already pay enough taxes. I support eliminating the tax on capital gains to encourage investment in Oregon.
    I support tort reform.
  • I support Measure 37 and the rights of private property owners.
  • I am committed to expanding education choice and support charter schools, and home schooling.
  • I support pro-family programs aimed at stopping domestic violence, and private sector treatment programs for addicts and victims. Oregonians will know that I am a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights and a supporter of the death penalty.
  • In a Saxton administration, Oregon will stop issuing drivers’ licenses to illegal immigrants and we will enforce the law.
  • Those issue points are a selective, abridged list, not everything he has to say (you can read the whole statement on line). But the overall tenor is certainly nowhere near mistakable for that of a Portland Democrat, or even a coastal or Salem Democrat. His policy statements have the ring of a conservative very much like Mannix and not far removed from Atkinson. By the evidence of Saxton’s written statements, the analysis by Kremer (and Chisholm) holds up solidly.

    Now imagine you are Mannix or Atkinson. What do you want to do next – blast away at Saxton because he’s too much like you? Cry out that he’s been misrepresented? And suppose you are Saxton – how much do you want to play up your philosophical similarities with the other two, and how far not? For that matter, what really are the differences?

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    Spokane’s new mayor, Dennis Hession, must know a bit about how Gerald Ford felt in the late summer of 1974 – a low-key, cool personality taking over in the wake of a mighty storm of chaos.

    Dennis Hession delivers state of the cityIt may be just the right way. Introducing himself (till recently, he’s not been a household word in town), and talking a bit about his upbringing (as a Catholic in Salt Lake City), a family man and a professional with a load of civic involvements, he struck a modest chord as he launched into his first state of the city speech:

    “I believe strongly in open, accessible government. With that in mind, I thought it was important to disclose some information about myself. I’ll understand if by the end you are wishing for less transparency, but here goes.”

    Odds are Spokane wasn’t looking for less transparency at all: The surprise opaque nature of Hession’s predecessor, Jim West, underday the eight months of chaos the city endured before West’s recall on December 6. By starting as he did, Hession gave a nod to the point that civic transparency is good politics as well as good government. (How many in Spokane heard Hession’s opening lines and – just for amoment – cringed and thought: No shockers, please!)

    The balance of his speech was not wildly remarkable stuff, but the emphasis was notable. For a variety of reasons, the West battle being only a small piece, Spokane has had some emotional doldrums in the past few years. (Part of the reason the West situation was so damaging that it put a hold on the healing process.) Hession made little reference to any of that, and never mentioned his predecessor by name. But he did point out that amid all the strife, quite a bit of useful work got done on the city’s part in 2005. And he pointed to a number of advanced, in transportation, construction, economic development and city growth, poised for the months ahead. Most notable, maybe, was his proposal for rethinking the city’s boundaries.

    Create a strategic plan for expanding the City’s boundaries.
    o This is about providing urban services in urban areas and complying with the State’s Growth Management Act and our own comprehensive plan.
    o We will immediately initiate the first annexation in the North Metro area.
    o The Strategic Plan will identify all potential areas of annexation, determine the economic impact of each annexation and categorize the land use and zoning, and prioritize the list of potential annexations.
    o We recognize that any annexation has financial and other impacts on Spokane County and other jurisdictions, and we will explore ways to mitigate those impacts
    o At the same time, we’ll pursue our center-focused growth plans so that we continue to build our community in a smart, sustainable way.

    In a year when Spokane will want to take a deep breath and get along more peacefully, it might happen.

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    Oregon went for simplicity in its preferred design for a state quarter, opting for a basic view of Crater Lake over more complex sets of images. In looking at designs for something as small as a quarter, that makes sense: Less can be more.

    Will Washington go the same way?

    Quarter design 1Quarter design 2Quarter design 3

    When Governor Christine Gregoire gets to make the choice for her state, she’ll have a similar option: Clearly, one of the designs – the salmon and mountain look to the left – says the state more swiftly and cleanly than the others. The middle design, of a tribal rendering of a fish, is simpler graphically, but also subtler – it would probably leave a bunch of people scratching their heads.

    What’s the popular choice? The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has put the designs on its web page and asked readers to vote. Of the more than 3,100 votes so far, more than half (51.8%) went forthe design at the left, just 19.9% for the design in the middle, and 28.3% for the more complicated design to the right.

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    Before any Northwest politician makes pronouncements in this campaign year – and most of them, of both parties, will – about how wonderful their state’s economy is, they had better first read and take into account the new report Searching for Work that Pays: 2005 Job Gap Study.

    Job Gap studyIf they have any real interest in how real people in their states really live – not just an unfortunate sliver of people either, but most of them – this study by the Northwest Federation of Community Organizations should have a strong sobering effect.

    Consider this key finding and then ask how much our “booming economy” is doing for actual Northwesterners: “Of all Northwest job openings, 34% pay less than a living wage for a single adult and 79% pay less than a living wage for a single adult with two children, as shown in the chart below. It is important to note the distinction between jobs and job openings. Not all jobs come open during the course of a year, but some jobs may open repeatedly during a year due to turnover or seasonality of the work. Job openings are of particular interest because they provide employment opportunities for people looking for work.”

    The days of all boats experiencing a lift clearly are over. And yet the problem, and solutions, have to do with more than job pay in itself.

    The matter of definition: “A living wage is a wage that allows families to meet
    their basic needs, without public assistance, and that provides them some ability to deal with emergencies and plan ahead. It is not a poverty wage.” But then, working full time is not commonly assumed to equate to poverty.

    The problems for those on the working side of the equation starts with the odds of getting any job at all: In Idaho, there are two job applicants, on average, for every job opening, and three to one in Washington, and four to once in Oregon. The numbers get, roughly, doubly worse when it comes to finding a job that pays a living wage – and worse yet if the job seeker is supporting one or more children.

    (Family values tend to vanish from discussion when family pay enters the picture.)

    Broken down:

    • In Idaho, for each job opening that pays at least the $9.30 an hour living wage for a single adult, there are two job seekers on average. For each job opening that pays at least the $20.28 an hour living wage for a single adult with two children, there are eight job seekers on average.

    • In Montana, for each job opening that pays at least the $9.07 an hour living wage for a single adult, there are five job seekers on average. For each job opening that pays at least the $18.46 an hour living wage for a single adult with two children, there are 14 job seekers on average.

    • In Oregon, for each job opening that pays at least the $10.77 an hour living wage for a single adult, there are six job seekers on average. For each job opening that pays at least the $22.37 an hour living wage for a single adult with two children, there are 21 job seekers on average.

    • In Washington, for each job opening that pays at least the $10.77 an hour living wage for a single adult, there are four job seekers on average. For each job opening that pays at least the $22.35 an hour living wage for a single adult with two children, there are 12 job seekers on average.

    The most pertinent part of the study, though, probably isn’t the statistics but the profiles of the working poor scattered throughout – these provide a look into exactly why the levels of pay are inadequate, and the consequences. The biggest single issue on the plates of many of these people is health care: Over and over, they point out that a single substantial health care bill throws them into a tailspin, if not bankruptcy. And thee’s little they can do about it.

    A focus on attracting high-pay jobs clearly is one important part of the equation. But there are others, too, and the region’s cheerful political leaders would do well to consider a wide range of issues that so deeply affect so many of their constituents.

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    In the Watch for More file: That conversation between Oregon Senator Ron Wyden and now Chief Justice John Roberts.

    In the decision released yesterday on Oregon’s death with dignity (assisted suicide) law, Roberts wound up in the minority along with Justices Scalia and Thomas. The question: To what extent did that comes as a surprise to Wyden?

    The reason for the question (as has been noted elsewhere) is that after Wyden and Roberts conversed last summer, in advance of the Senate vote on Roberts’ confirmation, Wyden gave the impression that he had the impression Roberts would not vote to overturn the Oregon law.

    An Oregonian story from August 10 noted, “Wyden said Roberts’ comments on personal liberties and other issues of constitutional law left him hopeful that, if confirmed by the full Senate, Roberts would rule to protect Oregon’s law allowing physician-assisted suicide. … Roberts told Wyden that he would look closely at the legislative history of federal laws and would be careful not to strip states of powers they traditionally have held — such as regulating the practice of medicine, Wyden said. ‘You don’t get the impression from how he answered that he’d let somebody stretch a sweeping statute like the Controlled Substances Act,’ Wyden said.”

    As the current confirmation process continues, what does that suggest about the level of honesty involved – either the official players with each other, or some of them with us?

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    Yes, it’s a competitor – to Wal-Mart – speaking, but also a business leader, calling for greater corporate responsibility.

    And Craig Cole has the grounding to speak. His Washington-born and raised grocery business has been losing ground, and shutting stores, in the face of a growing Wal-Mart presence. And a significant part of the reason, he says, is that while almost all of his Brown & Cole grocery employees receive health insurance benefits, most Wal-Mart workers do not. In changing the shape of our economy and culture, Cole suggests, Wal-Mart has become a kind of “social pollution.” The Danny Westneat column spelling it out is worth a read.

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    This afternoon’s U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Oregon’s Death with Dignity law may bring that subject up again for national debate, but it seems more likely to ease it in Oregon.

    Supreme CourtOregonians have, after all, faced the law on the ballot twice (it was first passed in 1994), and approved it twice. And for all the concerns, there’s been no evidence of actual abuse in the one state where physician-assisted death is legal: Just about 30 cases or s0 per year (a total over nearly a decade of around 200), in a state of more than three and a half million people. Those few, though, have some powerful stories to tell about the freedom they have in Oregon, but nowhere else in the nation.

    In theory, this should have been a case supported by a states-rights-oriented Bush Administration: The Supreme Court’s specific rationale was that “The CSA does not allow the Attorney General to prohibit doctors from prescribing regulated drugs for use in physician-assisted suicide under state law permitting the procedure.”

    It also was conservative in another sense, arguing that you can’t (or in this case, John Ashcroft couldn’t) locate things in federal law that aren’t explicitly put there. The controlled substances law was designed to bar some substances from public consumption altogether, and to regulate the medical flow of some others; it didn’t define proper medical practices. In this case, the majority said, “The idea that Congress gave the Attorney General such broad and unusual authority through an implicit delegation in the CSA’s registration provision is not sustainable. ‘Congress, we have held, does not alter the fundamental details of a regulatory scheme in vague terms or ancillary provisions – it does not, one might say, hide elephants in mouseholes.’”

    And extending that point (and pointing out the even larger significance of this decision): “Under the [federal] Government’s theory, moreover, the medical judgments the Attorney General could make are not limited to physician-assisted suicide. Were this argument accepted, he could decide whether any particular drug may be used for any particular purpose, or indeed whether a physician who administers any controversial treatment could be deregistered. This would occur, under the Government’s view, despite the statute’s express limitation of the Attorney General’s authority to registration and control, with attendant restrictions on each of those functions, and despite the statutory purposes to combat drug abuse and prevent illicit drug trafficking.”

    Chew on that cud for a bit.

    (The 6-3 Court breakdown, by the way: majority was Kennedy (author), Stevens, O’Connor, Souter, Ginsberg, Beyer; minority was Roberts, Scalia, Thomas.)

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    Just got around to actually reading former Governor John Kitzhaber’s statement on his decision not to run for governor this year, but press his call for health care reform in other ways.

    The whole thing is worth your attention, but these two paragraphs called out for a repost:

    … our politics today have become largely transactional – “lower my taxes and I will vote for you;” “give me prescription drug coverage and I will vote for you.” And it works the other way around as well – “vote for me and I will cut your taxes;” “vote for me and I will fund schools first.” The problem is that these transactions are all about “me” – and have nothing to do with “us.” They are all about what I can get, not what I can give. They neither foster a sense of the larger public interest; nor do they do advance the common good.

    And the fact is that we cannot solve the crisis in our health care system – or in our school system or in our economy or our environment – through this kind of transactional politics because they erode any sense of common purpose and foster the belief that if we can just elect a new governor; a different legislature or a different congress – all our problems will be taken care of. And that is simply not true.

    A really re-activated Kitzhaber could have an effect on Oregon policy and politics beyond health care; the points he makes reach there, but also much further.

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    Easy advice for a politician who can see disaster lying in wait just a mile or two down the road: Go public, and put your own spin on it, before the train wreck happens. Some of the leading lights in downtown Portland are on the verge of missing that advice before it’s too late. They’ve been given a bit of a chance, though, thanks to the blogosphere.

    OSHU tram, downtown viewThe subject concerns one of the more ambitious ideas proposed recently for central Portland, the Tram. Portland’s downtown is located close to the Willamette River waterfront. Its medical university and central health care center, the Oregon Health & Science University, is located not far southwest of downtown, but steeply uphill, centered on Marquam Hill (aka Pill Hill). That has long meant a disconnect between OHSU and the general downtown area, a frustration to a number of civic players.

    The current solution in mind, greenlighted jointly by the city of Portland and OHSU, is the Tram, an aerial carrier that would – like a ski lift gondola – link the campus with South Waterfront, a gentrifying area (with, importantly, semi-decent parking and Tri-Met bus connections) immediately south of downtown. South Waterfront has seen investments of about $2 billion in recent years, much of it connected, if sometimes loosely, to concurrent development at OHSU. We are talking Major Money involvement here, and strong support from the Portland Establishment; the external signal there has been the enthusiasm on the Oregonian‘s editorial page.

    The Tram would prospectively pick up people every five minutes and unload them three minutes later at the other end, up to an estimated 980 people an hour on two 79-passenger train cars. It sounds like a neat idea, though it has its skeptics.Planners still say they want it up and running by this fall, though that seems unlikely.

    One reason is the cost, a figure that has gotten ever more slippery; numbers like $15 million were floated at one time, while figures like $60 million waft around now. The Tram web site does say that most of it the money will come from OHSU development funds and other partners, and little from the taxpayers: “At the present tram budget of $45 million, OHSU and its development partners pay all but $3.5 million of it. The $3.5 million of public funds (which is about 8 percent of the total project cost) does not come from general fund money that could be used to pay for police or city services. Instead, it will be collected over time from the rising property values spurred by the redevelopment of the South Waterfront.”

    Those assurances aren’t convincing everyone.

    The Oregonian‘s maverick and gutsy columnist Steve Duin has raised questions. But most of the questioning has happened in the neighborhood organizations and in the non-establishment blogosphere, notably in places like Jack Blog’s Blog.

    Meanwhile, Oregonian editorials have been strictly stay-the-course, stick-with-the-deal. There was this, for example, on Sunday: “All who suspected the number was faulty should have spoken up, repeatedly if necessary, and ensured that a more accurate number was put before the public. The problem, unfortunately, is that people wanted to believe this estimate.” (Well, some people did – but not the critics who have been raising questions for some time now.)

    Jack Bog’s resposte: “So there, you see, Lair Hill neighbors and others who fought this monstrosity? It’s really your fault. You didn’t speak up loudly and repeatedly enough. Portland is truly living up to its name as The City That Works You Over. You bitterly oppose a project — spend weeks of your life fighting it. Then after you’re overruled by the West Hills moneybags, and you turn out to have been right that it’s a horrible mistake, it’s your fault.”

    All of that has been brewing for some time. Here’s the kicker, known to any number of downtown people but probably not widely as yet: The new OHSU director of news and publications, Lora Cuykendall, is formerly an editor at the Oregonian – but (and this is what’s getting the attention) still the spouse of Oregonian Editorial Page Editor Robert Caldwell.

    “You talk about your conflicts of interest,” writes Bojack. And Oregon Media Insiders has been weighing in on this as well.

    More to come, explosively, if the air isn’t let out of the balloon soon. Gently.

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    Among the issues standing foremost among the hardy perennials of time, immigration just about stands alone – as a never-ending source of discord, and as a topic that never goes away, anywhere. People have been moving around since people have been on the planet. In this country alone, immigration has been a hot topic since English settlers in the mid-Atlantic complained about all those damned Germans moving into Pennsylvania. (We don’t know what compaints the native Americans had a century before that, but they had the biggest cause of legitimate complaint: The first European newcomers were the only ones who really did bring massive death, disease and destruction.)

    There are two ways of looking at immigration: Mindsets, really. One is the fearful, the xenophonic, the alarm about the alien “then” – formerly southern Europeans or the Irish, most recently people from south of our borders. The panic-attack mindset sees these people as as a threat, or worse, as an invasion, putting us real Americans in peril.

    Not a few people think that way, but most Americans probably take a calmer view. Immigration, after all, has been happening in this country since before it was a country, and while not everyone arriving here has necessarily been a model citizen, these arrivals have helped keep our nation vital, energetic and on our toes; they help us avoid complacence. This larger attitude isn’t a “throw open the doors” mentality; most Americans want non-porous borders. But most Americans probably take the view that immigration is a matter of approach, that it should be managed, rather than a slam-shut final answer which would (presumably) aim at closing the borders. People should be allowed to come in, but to the point and in such a way that the country receives more benefits than problems.

    All of which is a long way around to the debate between two of the Republican candidates for Idaho’s 1st House district seat, Robert Vasquez and Sheila Sorensen.

    Robert VasquezVasquez has made immigration – especially of the illegal kind – his primary issue. (It was long before he entered the race for Congress.) In his view of the matter, words like “invasion” and “disaster” and even “treason” have gotten tossed around. He and another Canyon County commissioner have pressed a RICO racketeering case against local businesses they maintain may have employed illegal aliens. The front page of his website concludes, “America’s very existence hangs in the balance of illegal immigration overwhelming our social and economic resources.”

    Our history, of course, suggests otherwise; the nation has been more resilient than that in absorbing wave after wave of warned-about “invasions.” But Vasquez’ appeal is to emotion, which in politics usually trumps reason. That probably is why so few of the other candidates for the congressional seat have specifically countered Vasquez, which until recently had the effect of letting his argument stand.

    Sheila SorensenOne candidate has gone visible with a direct counter-argument: Sheila Sorensen. From the standpoint of strategic politics, this may not be the wisest move; in a large candidate field, most fire should (theoretically) be aimed at the front runner, which Vasquez is not. (Conventional wisdom at least is that Vasquez is among the candidates least likely to prevail.) But Sorensen’s take may have other, larger, effects.

    Her view on immigration is closer to the mainstream view: An approach, not an absolute.

    First, she goes after the RICO cases (which have been thrown out, then appealed, in federal court): “Slapping employers with lawsuits, as Canyon County Commissioners have done, will not solve the problem. The commissioners are setting themselves up to drive businesses and jobs away from Canyon County and cripple the economy.” She seems to be suggesting too that using loaded language isn’t helping.

    Second, she suggests some alterations in the law she would support, some of which already have backing from the Bush Administration and elsewhere:

    Give employers, including farm-labor contractors, the tools they need to ensure every one they hire is eligible to work in the United States.

    Give enforcement agencies — including border patrol and workplace enforcement — the tools, technology and manpower they need.

    Expand the temporary worker VISA program so businesses can be assured that legal workers are hired and guest workers that overstay their welcome are deported.

    Expand and enhance detention and deportation systems, so those who have entered America illegally or have overstayed Visa permits — are quickly and effectively deported.

    Oppose any legislation which grants amnesty to illegal immigrants.

    This is hardly a give-the-store-away approach. It also is no guarantee of solving the issue “once and for all” – clearly it wouldn’t do that. But something along these lines could help bring more rationality to a system now evidently broken; much more than that is beyond realistic expectation. Most Americans probably have intuitively known that immigration is more an ongoing circusmtance than it is a crisis demanding immediate and final resolution.

    Sorensen’s approach doesn’t have that satisfying emotional appeal some people take from Vasquez’. But, if Sorensen continues to address the subject in such a calm way, other congressional candidates ma be tempted to follow suit. And that could change the tenor of the immigration debate in Idaho for some time to come.

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