Day: August 26, 2016

Cheap populism helps no one

By MICHAEL GERSON With defeat now the likely outcome for the Republican presidential nominee, the blame shifting has begun early and in earnest. To some partisans such as Sean Hannity, the responsibility for the expected loss—as well as for Hillary Clinton’s Supreme Court picks and “whatever illegal immigrants do” —lies with Never Trump conservatives. Whether or not Hannity is the sharpest knife in the drawer (a matter of recent controversy), he leaves Occam’s razor rusty from disuse. Isn’t it more likely that Republicans are losing because their candidate has committed enough gaffes to torpedo 10 campaigns? Because he has premised his appeal on prejudice? Because he displays no appreciation of constitutional values and offers himself as a strongman? Because he has no knowledge of, or interest in, public policy? Because he is an erratic narcissist with a compulsive need to crush and humiliate his critics? Holding Never Trump forces responsible for all this is akin to blaming the spectators in Lakehurst, New Jersey, for the Hindenburg disaster. The pointing and gawking did not cause the flames. For the record, I am in favor of the Davos set becoming more sensitive to the struggles of their countrymen. But all these fat cats at Coca-Cola, Monsanto, Pfizer and Microsoft deserve at least a bleat in response. They are leading participants in an economic system—with its global supply chains, freely moving capital...

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Restructure school chief’s job

There are matters about which I feel like shouting, “There’s got to be a better way!”  For example: the way we spend our tax money on our local schools, in this instance, the Salem-Keizer School District. One reference in particular has to do with the apparent knee-jerk need by members of the school board to raise the salary of the superintendent.  Now really, what has this relatively new person in the job done accomplished to warrant an increase in direct pay salary of $17,000 from the current $204,000 to $221,000 per annum plus all the retirement benefits and other perks provided her and other large district superintendents these days? Much of the need to raise superintendent salaries has to do with the mindless need to keep up with other districts. This false premise is an effort to scramble, like the old “keeping up with the Joneses,” leads most of us to reach for a barf bag.  In the first place, how many public employees among us have any basis for an 8.25 percent raise?  They do not, specifically when available money remains scarce for everything that’s truly important.  Just one priority is enough money in mid-Willamette Valley treasuries to hire sufficient numbers of police officers in the state’s cities and counties to keep after the ever-swelling number of the criminally-minded.  Multiple other examples of public money needs can be readily cited, the homeless and their deprived children just one. Now, take a little time to consider the S-K superintendent’s...

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Measure 96 is big boost for veterans

By PAUL EVANS This November, Oregonians have an unprecedented opportunity to assist our veterans who struggle to return and reintegrate into our communities. Ballot Measure 96 represents the most consequential investment in veterans’ outreach and services in Oregon history. It is imperative we make the most of this opportunity: it is imperative that we all stand up for all those who have stood for us.    The unfortunate reality we face is that America has not kept faith with the troops we send into war. We embarked upon a global campaign without a clear plan for victory, a means of sustaining our efforts, or a system to care for those we sent.  These choices leave lasting consequences. Every day over twenty veterans accept suicide as their fate. Of these wounded warriors, at least one served in Afghanistan or Iraq—or both. We have a significant number of homeless veterans:  in Oregon at least 5,000 veterans must search for a safe place to sleep each night. Each year we witness an increasing number of incarcerated veterans, and we have a growing schism between the society that sent troops to war and the men and women struggling to survive.  Too few understand the real price of combat. We are currently engaged in three conflicts, and our military members face multiple deployments and significant long-term stresses resulting from their time in uniform.  We...

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