Day: July 6, 2012

Take a political vacation

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, and Arizona’s immigration laws and the nominations for the presidential race are settled, it’s time to take a breath and enjoy our summer. Let’s put politics on the back burner until September. We can cheer on American athletes at the upcoming London Olympic Games. We can watch for interesting and bizarre Japanese tsunami debris at the beach. We can go camping, fishing, hiking and road tripping. Let the politicians inside the Beltway swelter under a stifling heat wave.  Let the television and radio pundits continue to harp and blovicate politicisms. We should just all relax this summer. The nation’s problems will be there in the fall; we all need to take some time to enjoy our vacations. This is a good time to step back, take a breath and think about what we want from our government leaders. These days American politics is all id. We react to political news with a jerk of the knee; we only want to hear what enforces our own beliefs. American politics can certainly use a little ego to temper our worst impulses. Politics is the art of compromise, an art that is sorely missing regarding the big issues of the day. One of Oregon’s most cherished politicians was Republican Mark Hatfield, who served as governor for eight years...

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Summer of education reform

By KIM THATCHER This summer it’s “out with the old, in with the new”; best wishes to former State School Superintendent Susan Castillo and good luck to the governor’s new education czar, Rudy Crew. That’s not exactly my best poetry but it’s helpful in illustrating that significant education reform is underway in Oregon. In addition to a changing of the guard and other restructuring as to who’s in charge of education programs in Oregon, there’s a mixed bag of new policies that will both inspire and disappoint. There are discussions underway about consolidating or eliminating some of the many education boards we have at the state level. However, at the same time, there’s a push to allow each of the public universities to set up their own boards. The legislature took some important steps I’ve advocated for a number of years including reducing the number of state mandates on schools, and providing parents with more choices for their students to transfer to another district or try online classes. Also approved was the new Early Learning Council; a major consolidation and centralization of programs aimed at better preparing young children for learning when they start school. I prefer local governance, so I’m concerned about this particular strategy.   However, the biggest overall change we’ll see is in how we govern schools. The legislature approved making the governor the State Superintendent...

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Supreme politics

By SUSAN ESTRICH You have to hand it to the chief justice. He saved the health care bill and with it, perhaps, the Supreme Court’s reputation as something other than the third branch of a government that is hopelessly divided along party lines. And he did it in a way that sticks it to the administration by calling it a tax and allowing Mitt Romney (when he’s not defending the similar “tax” he passed in Massachusetts) to attack President Obama as another tax-and-spend liberal. Had the case gone the other way, the court would’ve found itself squarely in the middle of a presidential campaign because of a decision that would’ve been deemed pure partisan politics. The idea of striking down what many view (for better or worse) as the signal accomplishment of the president in the middle of a campaign, with the five Republican appointees outvoting the four Democratic appointees, brings back memories of Bush v. Gore, a low point for the legitimacy of the Supreme Court. Chief Justice John Roberts’ vote might’ve been more political than those cast by the other eight, but if it was (as I suspect), it was also better politics for the court. Thanks to the chief justice, the Supreme Court’s role in the health care debate is over. The justices go off for their summer break having left health care reform exactly where...

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