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Hot Air Society

January 5, 2017

Republicans Donald Trump and Dennis Richardson do not lack chutzpah! Both the recently elected president and the recently elected Oregon secretary of state were already making headlines prior to their coronations. 

Trump’s carnival of cabinet picks and the UN-Israeli ruckus speak volumes about what we’re about to hear under Republican control in Washington, D.C. for the next two years. Breitbart News reports that Trump now intends to appoint El Chapo as the next head of the Drug Enforcement Agency.

December 22, 2016

Dear reader, I’ve missed you. We each made our own decisions prior to Election Day regarding what we might do based on the outcome. I voted by mail and chose knee replacement surgery before the election. My doctor then placed me on planet Norco 5, otherwise known as Vicodinville, for eight weeks of recovery. Apparently, something big happened while I was gone.

October 27, 2016

As you know, dear readers, the Hot Air Society is not only a social drinking club; we are also a 527 Super-PAC. We secretly authorized the distribution of Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones to the Donald Trump, Bud Pierce, Art Robinson and Dennis Richardson campaigns. The incendiary phone has been blamed for one house fire, a burning Jeep and several alarming moments on airplanes. We felt it was the least we could do for them.

October 13, 2016

Two things happen in Oregon in even-numbered years. We hold a general election, and invasive alien biennial weed species (Lawnsignicus obnoxicus) appear in the Willamette Valley. These weeds first blossomed near Creswell on a local site known as Idiot Hill, for some reason. Suddenly there they were, crowded into their limited ecological niche, a dairy farm. They apparently thrive in cow poop. Four signs of the time: Trump/Pierce/Robinson/Richardson all held up by the same wooden stakes. Birds of a feather flock together.

October 6, 2016

I don’t know about you, dear reader, but the political season always makes me nervous behind the steering wheel.  Every two years here in the 4th Congressional District, I used to have an involuntary fight-or-flight reaction to any vehicles sporting an “Art Robinson” bumper sticker. I’d slam on the brakes and elude, just in case the driver was preparing for the Rapture at any moment. 

August 25, 2016

“Truth is stranger than Fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.” — Mark Twain

This issue of EW comes out 10 days before Labor Day and 10 weeks before Election Day. 

July 21, 2016

When I was in the Oregon Legislature 20 years ago, I wrote an “insider baseball” perspective for EW on how ideas become bills, and how bills become laws. Out of office now for 12 years and retired for a year, some bills still piss me off.

June 23, 2016

Finally the insane national primary season is over; we have “presumptive” candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. We also have upcoming conventions in Cleveland and Philadelphia that might not be presumptively conventional. 

June 2, 2016

The scene for Oregon’s November general election just got clearer with the primary results. Although I haven’t seen detailed demographics, one statewide fact sticks out: Democrats turned out; Republicans didn’t. According to the Oregon secretary of state’s office, Dems turned out more than 66 percent of their party members, while R’s turned out less than 58 percent. Doesn’t sound like much of a margin until you consider that statewide the D’s turned out more than 230,000 more voters than the R’s. 

May 19, 2016

OK, you won’t read this until after the Oregon primary results are in, and I’m submitting these notes on the Monday before the election. As I’ve mentioned before, turnout in Oregon’s primary will be another opportunity to read the tea leaves in this sci-fi political year as we move toward November.  

May 12, 2016

I see all 19 loyal readers of this senile soliloquy heeded my request last column to quickly register to vote in the May 17 Oregon primary. In fact, between new motor voters and locals who switched parties to vote in closed primaries, the R-G reported that 12,000 Lane County residents received two ballots in the mail! 

April 21, 2016

One man alone can be pretty dumb sometimes, but for real bona fide stupidity, there ain’t nothin’ can beat teamwork. — Edward Abbey

I confess I may have too much time on my hands as a geezer/retiree. These days, instead of plowing through unemployment cases as I did in my last 12 years with the state appeals board, I’ve gone back to enjoying some of my favorite desert rat ecologists. 

March 31, 2016

Wolf update: Gov. Kate Brown signed HB 4040 into law on March 15. Opponents of the original de-listing (and this bill) believed the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) previously broke the law when it removed state endangered species protections from gray wolves; so they sued. They contend de-listing was premature and not supported by independent scientific review: bad science, bad bill. That case against de-listing is currently before the Oregon Court of Appeals (COA).

March 24, 2016

OK, enough about Oregon’s February legislative session. Nothing happened except the minimum wage increased and Oregon banned coal as an energy source. Democrats bragged about those issues and about fixing Portland’s affordable housing crisis. In their press releases, Republicans described February as “the most destructive month in Oregon legislative history,” and predictably bragged about their obstruction and attacked the “one-party” Democrats. Whatever. I’m still pissed that the Democrats used a Trojan Horse bill to make Canis lupus a sacrificial lamb. Bad biology, governor.

March 10, 2016

Warning: This column contains graphic depictions of political sausage-making and may cause an involuntary gag reflex.

March 3, 2016

Just when you thought our Oregon Legislature couldn’t get any more dysfunctional than it was — it did. Senate Republicans took a page from the old Democrat playbook and refused to meet last Wednesday, denying the Senate a quorum. The immediate feedback even from Republicans was that their minority leader Ted Ferrioli’s latest move to obstruct the process backfired from a public relations standpoint, making his caucus look clownish and incompetent. Worse than our Republican U.S. Congress even — a sad comparison.

February 18, 2016

Just when you thought that the only strange birdwatching this time of year occurred at the Malheur Refuge — two strange red and blue flocks were spotted last week at the state Capitol. 

February 11, 2016

When I returned from my last visit to Malheur in early January, my friend Gail Hoelzle told me about another Cottage Grover named Jessica Campbell, who was over in Burns during the occupation, working as a community organizer for Oregon’s Rural Organizing Project (ROP). Gail’s description of what this young woman has been through was compelling. What follows derives from two interviews I did with Jessica Campbell.

January 28, 2016

My, how the world of Oregon politics has changed in two years. Twenty-two months ago The Oregonian reported that John Kitzhaber, then preparing to run for an unprecedented fourth term in November 2014, held a press conference to announce a “grand bargain.” In a series of backroom meetings, Dr. John had persuaded rival union and business groups sponsoring several competing proposals to back off from going to the November ballot two years ago.

January 21, 2016

The Pacific Patriot Network (PPN) issued a press release Jan. 10 regarding a “Proposal for Resolution of the Peaceful Occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge by Citizens for Constitutional Freedom.” This is the armed convoy that disrupted the press conference I attended Jan. 9 while out in Burns checking out the Malheur occupation. 

January 7, 2016

Welcome back, students, to the cold wet winter of your discontent, otherwise known as the dark term before spring break 2016. It’s time to shake the shards of sugarplum fairies out of your sensory-savoring limbic systems and pay attention to politics. The Oregon Legislature returns to Salem in less than a month. Beware! 

December 3, 2015

Thanksgiving is a time for reflection. Hopeful, bloviated thankfulness is in the air. As a Democrat, for example, I am incredibly grateful to the Republican Presidential Debate Club for designing that cute circular firing squad format. This nation of immigrants welcomes their wholehearted endorsement of Latino displacement and Syrian xenophobia. The math is so simple: We deport 11,000 illegal immigrants and we refuse entry to 2,000 immigrants fleeing genocide — 13,000 reasons to demonstrate America’s continued commitment to human rights. 

September 17, 2015

Hope everyone’s had a great summer. Since our state Legislature left Salem in July, I’ve been mostly readin’ and snoozin’ and tending to my garden. 

July 16, 2015

The Oregon Legislature fizzled to a halt as expected. Now the real fun starts. You think paid sick leave for workers and carbon emission standards will not exact a price at the ballot box in 2016? The lack of compromise and the partisan fights over a transportation package and the minimum wage now spill over into the next initiative season, and it’s going to be an expensive ride.