Writings and observations

Maybe not so many years ago, Initiative Petitions 22 and 25 might have made the Oregon ballot. But not now, and it evidently wasn’t close.

The effort to put these measures – both anti-abortion, one declaring “personhood” for unfertilized eggs and the other sharply limited abortion coverage – on the November 2012 ballot started more than a year ago. A lot of petition signatures (116,284) were needed by July 6 (tomorrow) to achieve ballot status, but then they would have needed many more than that to pass.

A description from a draft ballot title: “Measure guarantees right to life for persons, embryos and fetuses, beginning at fertilization, excluding any person sentenced to death for aggravated murder. Measure prohibits abortion without exception for the woman’s health or safety, and certain birth control methods; restricts withdrawal of life support, stem cell research.” It would have amended the state constitution, if passed. A description from Planned Parenthood of 22: “This extreme measure could have resulted in outlawing birth control, in vitro fertilization and abortion even in the case of rape and incest.”)

This is part of the same national Personhood effort that lost in Mississippi, and has had trouble gaining traction elsewhere.

The curiosity is why the attempt in Oregon. Several other nearby states might yet be more fertile ground.

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Barrett Rainey
Second Thoughts

Sitting here in the shady Southwest Oregon forest, something has recently been pushing its way into my consciousness that seemed implausible at first – if not downright impossible. It’s this: for Oregon, the Northwest and about 40 of the 50 states – the presidential election of 2012 is over. Finished. Kaput.

Many factors point to that conclusion. Presidential candidate polling in our multi-state neighborhood is one indicator. The numbers haven’t changed much in recent months. Not since Romney became the Republican nominee-apparent. Things move a point or two depending on who had a good week – or a bad one. But overall, pretty static.

Another factor has been all those fancy computer projections showing where the races will be won or lost nationally. Oregon and its neighbors have been put into the “red” group or the “blue” group, meaning statistical sampling has shown each state is in the column where polling and past voter trends have put us and the “experts” don’t expect enough of us to change our minds between now and November to be reassigned. I hate that! Though it’s often pretty accurate.

Then there’s the fact the whole shebang will be decided in about eight states where none of us live. And where it’s still up for grabs. That makes us supporting players. We’re irrelevant. So, again, the election is really over for us. Nobody will care when our fat lady sings.

Fourth, seems to me last week’s U.S. Supreme Court upholding the new federal health care law sort of put a cap on it. For those who think that law is a good thing, they’ll line up behind B. Obama ‘cause they don’t want to take a chance of anyone screwing with it. For those opposed, they’ll likely go with M. Romney who has promised to repeal it. He can’t. But that’s what he’s promising.

Finally – and most distressing personally – most Republicans and Democrats seem “locked in” regardless of the real issues beyond health care or, like a lot of Independents, they’re mad at one or the other of the major candidates and seem destined to vote against one by voting for the other. Useless and a poor way to run a democracy. But I’m picking up a lot of that.
Now, you may disagree with all this. After all, that’s your right under the Ridenbaugh Press Reader Contract Agreement. Says it clearly, right there in digital black and white. But, before exercising that option, let’s take this theory of mine one step further.

Suppose – for the sake of conversation – that I’m on to something. That most minds are made up, voting trends will continue their inexorable paths and the vast majority of the electorate is about locked in. What, then, about all those hundreds of millions of dollars being spent by the SuperPacs? Who are they appealing to? Whose votes will they capture with all that bloviating? How many minds are still open to persuasion? Who’s listening to the gaseous hate of the Koch brothers, VanderSloot and that guy who uses women’s knees and aspirin for birth control?

If I’m right about trends, computer projections and the blind, unreasonable hatred extant in our nation’s politics, seems to me the billionaires are going to get an awfully small return on those hundreds of millions of dollars invested – cost per vote as it were. If I’m right, Frank and Charlie et al could have bought Forever stamps, waited a few months for the next postal increase, cashed in and been further ahead.

I’ve bashed that damned Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court giving corporations the rights of individual free speech more than most. It stands alone in modern jurisprudence as the most wrong-headed ruling five justices have come up with in our lifetimes.

But maybe – just maybe – there’s an irony here that has been overlooked. It just could be that in this election – this one polling of a most divided electorate and the monetary excesses wrought by a bad legal decision – the ability of corporations and billionaires with their own ideas for a radical change in our social and business climates – could yield the poorest return on a buck they ever got.

That is my hope. Until someone – or many someones – are successful in neutering Citizens United.

In the meantime, let’s watch that “cost-per-vote” tally. Could be the worst investment those bastards ever made. Wouldn’t that be great?

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What did the founders intend for the Constitution to do – what did they intend for it to accomplish?

We don’t have to guess. They told us, right at the beginning, in words that should trump any narrow or extreme interpretation of the specific provisions in what followed:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

That’s what they had in mind. That’s what they intended our government do.

As we move on from Independence Day, ask: How are we doing?

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