The OC Blog Back Issues Our Mission Contact Us Masthead
Sudsy Wants You to Join the Oregon Commentator

Archive for February, 2009

Senate Wrap-up for 2/18/09

February 19th, 2009 by CJ Ciaramella

Last night Senate appointed people to two vacant seats – Mike Broetzmann to Seat Three and Demic Tipitino to Seat Nine. Broetzmann was voted in 7-1-7. Hilarity ensued when it became apparent that Broetzmann couldn’t be appointed right away because he already held a seat on the Programs Finance Committee. It was determined after several minutes of confused cross-talk that the only way to proceed was: (1) to table the motion to appoint Broetzmann, (2) have a speaker address him and allow him to verbally resign, (3) vote again to put the motion back on the table and (4) finally vote to appoint him. Ladies and gentlemen, your ASUO Senate.

Tipitino was also voted on to Senate 9-1-7. Tipitino is a stand-up guy; he’s involved in the College Republicans and is a strong voice for fiscal conservatism. During his confirmation hearing he said that though Senate had “much more room to be critical in its spending.” He specifically objected to how much money Senate gives to groups for conferences. (Tipitino also had to resign from his Department Finance Committee seat. Speaking of the DFC …)


Oregon Commentator News: 2/18/09

February 18th, 2009 by CJ Ciaramella

This week’s installment of the Oregon Commentator News comes a week late because Drew Cattermole can’t figure out how to work YouTube. Enjoy.

This Just In: ASUO Senators Still Cynical, Money-Grubbing Sleazebags

February 17th, 2009 by Vincent

I was taking a gander at the Daily Emerald blogs when I ran across this post by ASUO report Alex Tomchak regarding the new ASUO “sustainability” committee. Tomchak calls “sustainability”

a muzzy term people generally use when they want to say they are in favor of protecting the environment but don’t want to look like hippies.

Well put, though I’d go further and say it’s a word that’s generally used when people want to justify spending other people’s money. The tidbit that really caught my attention, however, was at the very end:

‘Some senators have also said they want the definition of “sustainability” to be more elastic and oblique, rather than confined specifically to the environment.’

How terribly convenient.

Why, it’s almost like these bottom-feeders want to be able to spend money with few of those pesky “rules” and “regulations” getting in their way.

In any case, it seems to me that the Emerald’s readers might be interested in knowing that certain members of their student government (finding out which ones would be a good start) are angling to redefine the word “sustainability” in order to put themselves in a better position to raid student money.

I’d love to see the Emerald do some more reporting on this, letting the student body exactly which of these senators is proposing redefining the word “sustainability” and asking them to justify themselves.

Ol’ Dirty Guest Columnist: “The JOOS Control EVERYTHING!”

February 16th, 2009 by Vincent

Imagine my surprise when I opened up today’s Daily Emerald, only to find a guest column by one George Beres, Pacifica Forum stalwart and one of Eugene’s more prolific writers of letters-to-the-editor.

For whatever reason, the Emerald saw fit to publish Beres’ latest rant, the somewhat cryptically titled “Fear of subduing conflict discussion“. Evidently unaware of the massive media attention given to protests around the world in response to Israel’s recent “Operation Cast Lead” (including coverage on this very blog and in the printed magazine of the student protest here on campus), Beres starts yammering about how Jews “Zionists” are silencing dissent:

Nothing has been more hotly contested than the policies of the new state of Israel in Palestine. I’ve found it raises a broader question: Can this subject even be discussed? Zionists and Israel sympathizers have said no and silenced such dialogue at some schools, threatening it at the University.

I’ve seen evidence of it – personal experience that suggests a growing pervasiveness of those willing to halt speech to stop such criticism. Much of it has come from the campaign designed by a writer for the New York Post, Daniel Pipes, who encourages students to create an aura of suspicion around anyone who questions Israel’s behavior.


I interviewed author John Mearsheimer on his book about Israel’s brutality in Palestine. It was at a news conference in the Portland Hilton prior to his public talk there. Not one other reporter attended. Mearsheimer told me he was not surprised, having seen Zionists influence the news media against him, as well as object to his campus appearances.

It’s a Jewish “Zionist” conspiracy, you see. And they’re in the media, orchestrating smear campaigns against their foes.

At the risk of being identified as part of the Jewish “Zionist” conspiracy, let me be the first to publically chastise the Emerald for seeing fit to publish such blatantly anti-Semitic rubbish. And let’s be clear here: what Beres is saying is anti-Semitic. Maintaining that Jews are part of shadowy conspiracies, pulling the strings behind the curtain to control the media and silence critics, and having dual allegiances are classic anti-Semitic tropes.

The Emerald, of course, has every right to publish whatever it pleases, and it’s certainly not for me or anyone else to say that the shouldn’t. One only wonders if their editorial policy would be so open-minded if it were instead a white supremecist talking about Muslims.

George Beres on Free Speech and Tinfoil Hats

February 16th, 2009 by CJ Ciaramella

In today’s ODE opinion page there is a guest opinion by none other than crazy ol’ George Beres. He is a former member of the Pacifica Forum and firmly believes that we’ve all been brainwashed by an insidious “shadow government.” As you might imagine, his opinions on the Israel/Palestine conflict are nothing short of comedy gold:

College campuses nationwide have become the hottest battleground over the question of freedom of speech. That once would have seemed unlikely because free expression on all issues is a basic precept of higher education […]

Nothing has been more hotly contested than the policies of the new state of Israel in Palestine. I’ve found it raises a broader question: Can this subject even be discussed? Zionists and Israel sympathizers have said no and silenced such dialogue at some schools, threatening it at the University.

I’ve seen evidence of it – personal experience that suggests a growing pervasiveness of those willing to halt speech to stop such criticism.

Ah, yes. The Zionist entity suppressing free speech. That must be why students at San Francisco State University are calling for the SFSU College Republicans to be punished after they held an anti-Hamas rally.

Oregon Legislature Wants to Increase Beer Tax by 1600%

February 16th, 2009 by Vincent

It’s not often that I write approvingly of anything posted at Blue Oregon, but to give credit where credit is due, this post by Jeff Alworth is right on the money:

The one thing left to conclude is that this is some kind of moral stand against beer, an intentional effort to damage the industry.  Sinners taxed to reduce the sin, not its cost.   I can’t see any other purpose here.  As good liberals, we consider how solutions like taxation will solve certain problems.  This bill has no clear idea what the problem even is, much less what the cause might be.  Worse, the effect would be to crush local business and damage a beloved part of local culture.  I can imagine reasonable ways in which the state assesses the cost of alcohol, determines who’s responsible for reimbursing the state for this cost, and decides what a reasonable tax would be.  House Bill 2461 is none of these things.

The Oregonian has more:

Never before, it seems, has the climate been so ripe to raise taxes on sin. Democrats command supermajorities in both chambers, which means they can increase taxes without Republican votes.


[Ben Cannon (D-Portland), chief sponsor of the bill] says he’s willing to talk about the size of the tax and how it should be used. And he’s open to discussing whether legislators should risk even more heartache by going after the tax on wine.

The Oregonian notes that Kulongoski is also pimping an idea to bump the cigarette tax to $1.78 per pack. While I’m disappointed that the outrage at Blue Oregon over the proposed beer tax hike doesn’t seem to be extended to the idea levying an even higher sin tax on smokers, it’s nice to see Jeff Alworth piping up in opposition to this absurd new legislation.

For its part, the Oregon Commentator pledges a campaign of terror and mayhem if this law passes.

Happy Birthday, Oregon

February 14th, 2009 by CJ Ciaramella

The Daily Emerald ran an article yesterday with the headline “Oregon celebrates 150th birthday,” but when I read it, I was greeted by this lead:

Walking through the aisles at gift shops, students may become overwhelmed with cards containing pictures of hearts and messages of love. However, students won’t find Hallmark cards depicting working settlers sweating over fields, Native Americans being forced into reservations or freed slaves being banned from Oregon on the front of cards, as Feb. 14 celebrates another important holiday: Oregon’s admission into the union.

What the hell, ODE? Oh, I get it. It’s the ol’ “you can’t celebrate things because they used to be bad” angle. Congratulations on jumping the shark there. Anyways, in honor of Oregon’s sesquicentennial and the ODE’s douchebaggery, I thought I’d list some of the really cool things about Oregon:

  • The beaches are public: I know, I know. It’s heresy for me to support public ownership, but it’s not like you can build anything on sand anyways (or so that Jesus guy said). Just south of Florence there is 50 miles of unbroken public beach and dunes. And that’s pretty cool. Thanks, Tom McCall.
  • Speaking of which, we had one of the coolest governors ever, Tom McCall. He once said in an interview (no doubt addressing the state of California): “Come visit us again and again. This is a state of excitement. But for heaven’s sake, don’t move here to live.”
  • Oregon held the only state-sponsored rock festival in U.S. history in 1970. Thanks again, Tom McCall.
  • Oregon drinks more Pabst Blue Ribbon than any other state. And we’re talking pure volume, not per capita.
  • Portland has more breweries than any other city on earth. Up yours, Cologne!
  • Portland has more strip clubs per capita than any other city in the U.S.
  • We have the only ski lodge in North America that is open year-round.
  • We have Crater Lake, which is a lake on top of a mountain. That’s pretty cool.
  • And let’s not forget the Oregon Vortex!
  • We’re not California.

OSPIRG Addendum

February 13th, 2009 by CJ Ciaramella

As Editor Emeritus Ossie “Spiderweb” Bladine noted in a comment thread below, we’ve actually been sticking it to OSPIRG since our very first issue. This is from the inaugural edition, October 24, 1983:

[Editor Richard] Burr argued that OSPIRG’s political activities such as lobbying for state legislation violates a principle Thomas Jefferson voiced in 1777: “To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”

To put it in context, the article was about the ASUO Constitution Court striking down OSPIRG’s request to have its budget reviewed every two years instead of one. The decision was largely due to the protest of Burr.

As you can see, OSPIRG always has and always will try to shield itself from actual scrutiny. That’s why it tried to have a bi-annual budget, and that’s why it recently moved to be an ASUO contracted service. Contracted services aren’t required to have a line-item budget, meaning OSPIRG doesn’t have to show exactly how it spends its money.

Cutting tickets

February 13th, 2009 by Scott Younker

The Emerald reported today that the ASUO is considering cutting the contract for student tickets.

The discussion began when members of the budget committee that administers the ticket purchases asked senators for their suggestions. Sen. Cassandra Gray then asked her colleagues what they thought of “moving this completely off of the contract for the ASUO,” which she said would be fair to students who have no interest in attending Ducks games.

I just want to ask a couple questions and point out some stupidities here.

The question:

I realize that money is tight and blah, blah but when did the Senate think to themselves, “You know taking away free student tickets to football and basketball games won’t backfire at all. We won’t upset a majority of the campus in doing so. In fact, I bet we’ll make people very happy.”


Because there is no way that taking student tickets away won’t blow up in their faces. Now, I realize that they offered some compromises like not offering tickets to pre-term games but Gray’s initial suggestion seems like the least thought out suggestion to ever grace the lips of an ASUO senator.

The killer part of their argument is really that last quote though. It would be fair to students who don’t care about Duck sports, wouldn’t it?

If that’s the logic we’re taking here, I’d like to suggest that we defund the LTD contract, remove all the student unions, also the contract student lawyers, I don’t use the craft center either, LGBQT doesn’t need money because I’m not gay so I don’t need their services. Fortunately, if we use this logic OSPIRG gets the axe too (but other more logical reasons should get them cut anyway).

I wonder what kind of protests, if any, would happen if they actually decided to go through with a full cut.

The Whole, Ugly Scoop on OSPIRG

February 12th, 2009 by CJ Ciaramella

Last week OSPIRG had it’s annual budget hearing, and students packed into the room to speak out for and against the group. After nearly three hours of listening to presenters, the ACFC (which controls OSPIRG’s budget) adjourned the meeting without a vote. There will be a second budget hearing sometime next week.

As I mentioned earlier, the Commentator has opposed OSPIRG for most of our history, so I thought it might be useful to dig through the archive and give some context to the whole thing. You see, this has been going on for a long, long time.

But before I move on: Last year, the Daily Emerald ran a very good article, “The OSPIRG you can’t see,” that goes over much of the same material as this blog post. If you think we’re distorting or twisting facts, I would advise reading it. Many OSPIRG supporters accuse us of opposing the organization’s goals and trying to stop campus activism, but, as the aforementioned article says, “it’s all about money, visibility and tangible results.”


From the Department of “We Told You So”

February 12th, 2009 by Vincent

A few months ago, we covered the predictable cheerleading by progressive types over the then-impending minimum wage hike. Well, the raise in the minimum wage has come and gone and the Eugene Weekly is reporting that things are basically working out the way anyone who wasn’t political invested in pointless exercises in populism assumed they would:

When minimum wage rose 45 cents at the beginning of this year, Jerry James knew that while the increase wouldn’t allow his family to get ahead, it would at least give them a leg up with rising costs.

“It’s good,” James said. “But with the cost of food, it sort of weighs itself out.”


The 2009 wage increase will allow full-time minimum wage workers to increase their annual income from $16,536 to $17,472, an extra $936 a year. Still, the extra $3.60 a day might not be enough to keep up with the rising cost of food. [emphasis added]

In other words, the price for consumer goods has risen right along with the increase in the state-mandated minimum wage. Who could’ve predicted that?



In Other News…

February 12th, 2009 by Vincent

I have to admit that I found this funny*.

(Via: Instapundit)

*(It’s the entry at the top)

According to Newsweek America is turning French

February 11th, 2009 by Scott Younker

Since the last few posts have been, essentially, about the economy and the pending stimulus bill I thought that I’d share this recent article from Newsweek.

Thomas and Meacham are arguing that because of Bush practices and predicted Obama ones the United States is starting to look more and more like Europe (I doubt this but we’ll see). 

All of this is unfolding in an economy that can no longer be understood, even in passing, as the Great Society vs. the Gipper. Whether we like it or not—or even whether many people have thought much about it or not—the numbers clearly suggest that we are headed in a more European direction. A decade ago U.S. government spending was 34.3 percent of GDP, compared with 48.2 percent in the euro zone—a roughly 14-point gap, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In 2010 U.S. spending is expected to be 39.9 percent of GDP, compared with 47.1 percent in the euro zone—a gap of less than 8 points. As entitlement spending rises over the next decade, we will become even more French.

What this is truly pointing at is that since Reagan, and if you really want to all the back to Nixon, the Republican party has been spouting the party line but spending like Democrats (although, I assume many of you knew this already). It’s interesting to actually here a columnist, media of any kind really, finally come out and say that Bush was somewhat socialist in his policies and promoted big government over little. 

Personally, this is an article, among many, that allows me to shove it down the throats of those who blame deregulation on the current economic collapse. I blame it on an increase in regulation in certain sectors (banking, realty, etc.) and the what the article above calls:

Much of that economic growth was real, but for the past five years or so, it has borne a suspicious resemblance to Bernie Madoff’s stock fund. Americans have been living high on borrowed money (the savings rate dropped from 7.6 percent in 1992 to less than zero in 2005) while financiers built castles in the air.

Or irresponsible spending by Americans during an economic high.

I’m not arguing that one has to disagree or agree with this article but I think that for the current arguments that are being made in this country about the economy, big government, and socialism that this short piece happens to have some very cogent points that you don’t see in the mainstream media very often.

That Sound You Hear is Adam Smith Laughing Uncontrollably

February 10th, 2009 by Vincent

There isn’t much to be said about Alex Conley’s latest opinion piece in the Emerald that hasn’t been summed-up here, but I figured that it’s my duty as a Commentator staffer to at least point out a few of his more cringe-worthy pronouncements.

Conley, you see, has decided that “that the capitalist ideals to which we hold so firmly, even in our time of hardship, are no longer suitable to a 21st-century United States.” To wit:

When our nation was young, it was known as “the land of opportunity,” a place where, if you worked hard, you would eventually be able to live a prosperous life and find happiness. However idealistic that may have been, today, even if you work your hardest, there’s no guarantee in the least that you will be able to get by, much less prosper.

Conley, evidently, has confused the definitions of the words “opportunity” and “entitlement” because at no time in the history of this country has anyone been guaranteed prosperity and happiness. I mean, it’s right there in the Declaration of Independence*: Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

But American history isn’t the only subject in which Conley comes up lacking. Take, for instance, this authoritative statement: “The key element in capitalism is the idea that ‘you get what you work for.'” Wait, wait! Don’t tell me! That’s Hayek, right? Von Mises?

The balance of the article consists a sentence or two blaming the current economic crisis on “our vaunted free market” (Do tell…), a rousing call to lock arms and march together toward a better future in which we all help one another, some cookie-cutter stereotypes about living in an “every man for himself” society, and a concluding paragraph prescribing the abandonment of capitalism because “the world has changed” since the beginning of the 20th Century. Or something. And stuff.

For what we are to leave behind capitalism is never quite mentioned; One can only presume that Mr. Conley hasn’t been paying attention to socialist Europe’s own financial problems. To be honest, I’m not sure Conley himself really understands what he’s talking about, beyond a few fuzzy ideas and shopworn stereotypes.

But hey, this is the Ol’ Dirty we’re talking about. Considered ideas on their opinion page aren’t exactly their stock in trade.

* Since I linked to the Declaration of Independence, I might as well link to the Constitution, too. We don’t link to the Constitution enough around here.

It’s All So… Stimulating… [Updated, 02/16]

February 10th, 2009 by Vincent

Just thought I’d throw out a quick link to this post at Reason detailing some of the lovely stuff that’s included in the handout stimulus bill that passed the Senate today.

No doubt some will argue that each and every one of the things included in the bill involves a transfer of money from one party to another and so constitutes a “stimulation” of the economy, but the bulk of this stuff looks like plain old fashioned pork.

Added thought: Is anyone else getting tired of legislators justifying every law and every massive spending increase with the word “green”?


According to the Register, Californian Senator and all-around waste of space Diane Feinstein is trying to use the stimulus bill to sneak through language that would let ISPs snoop on network traffic, a clear violation of privacy*:

Obama’s stimulus bill sets aside between $6bn and $9bn for expanding American broadband into rural areas, and Senator Feinstein hopes to augment this Broadband Technology Opportunities Program so that it “allows for reasonable network management practices such as deterring unlawful activity, including child pornography and copyright infringement.”

Despite Obama’s laughable promises to clean up Washington, the massive handouts he’s promising are encouraging every lobby to try to get in on the action. Moreover, the President’s apocalyptic doomsaying, promising “catastrophe” unless the legislation is rammed through Congress at as fast as possible, is making it that much easier for utter rubbish like this to get attached to ostensible “stimulus” items and avoid any real scrutiny.

The whole thing is a monumental screw.

* Never mind that there are good arguments why spending money on broadband is a waste of time in the first place.

(via Slashdot)


Slashdot is reporting that Feinstein’s amendment apparently did not make the final cut, a conclusion that was reached by searching for her name in the final text of the legislation, rather than trying to actually read through the whole document.

Speaking of which, one wonders how many of the people who voted for it actually read it. My bet’s on “not many.”