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Friday, January 11, 2008

Macpherson takes a hard left

My friend and ex-partner, Greg Macpherson, who's running for Oregon attorney general, sent around an e-mail newsletter yesterday that's uncharacteristically outspoken for the Lake Oswegan pension lawyer and legislator. In it, he declared:

Some conservatives like to talk about "states' rights." But over the last few years, we've seen that they really only believe in the concept when it furthers their right- wing ideological agenda. When states try to enact progressive protections for their citizens, "states' rights" get treated like any other inconvenient truth.

In the last decade, Oregonians have seen that happen at least three times. First, it was our Death with Dignity law, which Washington-based religious zealots felt they had the right to try to overturn, even though it was passed by a majority of Oregon voters - twice.

States' rights? Only when the right-wingers agree.

Then, late last year, the Bush Administration refused to recognize the validity of clean air laws passed by 13 states - including Oregon - to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Supreme Court will almost certainly overturn the decision.

States' rights? Only when the right-wingers agree.

Now, there's yet another troubling instance. Last year, I helped pass a domestic partnership law, designed to provide same-sex couples, who are ineligible to marry, with the same rights and responsibilities that married couples have.

To me, the issue is simple: the Oregon Constitution guarantees equal privileges and immunities to all citizens.

Unfortunately, after the legislative session, opponents gathered signatures to try to place a measure on the ballot repealing the domestic partnership law. Although I disagree with them, they are within their rights to do so. But in October, Oregon's Secretary of State determined that the referendum petitions contained too few valid signatures. The law was to take effect January 1, 2008.

But on December 20, the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), an out-of-state fundamentalist religious organization, went into federal court, challenging the Secretary of State's determination that the referendum attempt had fallen short.

Oregon election law is clear: petition signatures are tested for validity by random sampling. Instead of validating every signature, which would be far too expansive and time consuming, the Secretary of State evaluates a random sample of the signatures submitted, and then determines whether enough valid names have been provided. Over the years, dozens of initiatives - progressive and conservative - have been placed on the ballot (or failed to make the ballot) using this technique. But for the ADF, Oregon's election laws and practices were interfering with their anti-gay agenda. So they sued in federal court, trying to invalidate the random sampling process. Once again, states' rights go out the window whenever it suits their needs.

On December 28, the federal judge granted a temporary restraining order blocking Oregon's domestic partnership law until a February 1 hearing. The judge will then consider the ADF's request to keep the law from taking effect until a vote on the referendum in the November general election.

The judge's ruling is disturbing because it concluded that ADF and its local allies would suffer "irreparable harm" if the domestic partnership law took effect.

"Irreparable harm?" From giving people their Constitutionally-mandated rights? That's the kind of logic that could only come from a right-wing ideologue.

Fortunately, Oregon's Attorney General is vigorously defending Oregon against the ADF challenge. The outcome of this case will have a crucial impact on our initiative and referendum system - and the civil liberties of our citizens. Let's hope reason - and states' rights - prevail.

Calling a federal judge "a right-wing ideologue" isn't something you'd expect a buttoned-down fellow like Greg to say, but all's fair in a tough campaign, which he's definitely being dealt by my current colleague, John Kroger. Perhaps Mac's trying to paint himself as a card-carrying ACLU member so as to distinguish himself from Kroger, who as a former prosecutor is talking much tougher on crime. Of course, there's no mention of Kroger in the e-mail -- indeed, it doesn't allude to the attorney general race at all -- but it's hard to ignore that particular 800-pound gorilla.

Comments (36)

Macpherson Oregon election law is clear: petition signatures are tested for validity by random sampling. Instead of validating every signature, which would be far too expansive and time consuming, the Secretary of State evaluates a random sample of the signatures submitted, and then determines whether enough valid names have been provided. Over the years, dozens of initiatives - progressive and conservative - have been placed on the ballot (or failed to make the ballot) using this technique.
JK: Random sampling is OK if the result is that the measure failed by a wide margin, but if it failed by a narrow margin, then you need to look at the error bands: the probability that the actual result is within a stated margin of error. We saw an example of that in the Bush-Gore race where some polls put Bush ahead by a point and other Gore by a point - what was actually happening is that they were, so to speak, bouncing around within the error bands.

When it comes to respecting people’s right to petition, it is important to get it right. A 90% chance that the effort failed is NOT GOOD ENOUGH (just look at the Florida debacle to see the importance of a few votes). We need to get the error band well below the number of deficient signatures & I suspect that is not being done. (I’ll let the statistics experts tell us what that is.)

Macpherson But for the ADF, Oregon's election laws and practices were interfering with their anti-gay agenda. So they sued in federal court, trying to invalidate the random sampling process. Once again, states' rights go out the window whenever it suits their needs.
JK: In case you didn’t notice, the decision was NOT ABOUT GAYS - it was about voting rights. It is simply amazing how quickly people like you will sacrifice ALL OF OUR RIGHTS to get a specific result.

Macpherson "Irreparable harm?" From giving people their Constitutionally-mandated rights? That's the kind of logic that could only come from a right-wing ideologue.
JK: No, it is from someone, apparently unlike you, who thinks the rule of law is important. What office are you running for? And how does changing the meaning of law on a whim affect your fitness for that office.

Having said that, it is an outage that the government picks and chooses who can participate in certain government programs like marriage. Every bit as much an outrage as the government saying that your land should be a viewscape, so you can’t build on it - you just lost the $100k you paid for it. The government simply should not be making these sort of decisions.

Then there is Macpherson’s knowledge of Oregon’s open meeting laws:


McPherson misunderstands "legal rights" theory, making him completely unfit for the A.G. job. Progressives should take note of the threat posed by this ignorance.

Only individuals have "rights" and governments are instituted to protect them.

In order to provide for this collective protection of our individual rights, we delegate some of our rights - granting "authority" to governments for that purpose.

Perhaps McPherson is really concerned about federalism - the dynamic balance between federal and state authority, within the individual rights doctrine. I doubt it.

Scoring this as left-turn is sloppy short-hand because the term "states rights" has been established by the left as anger-speech code for the concept of state-sponsored racism.

McPherson is so far left that he harkens back to the authoritarian roots of modern American 'liberalism' ... check out the NY Times Book Review on the new book (hailed by Tom Wolfe) "Liberal Fascism".

It's nice to know that MacPherson will defend the State of Oregon should the Legislature or voters ever pass a statute outlawing abortion in defiance of Roe v. Wade. States rights, you know.

I know Mr. MacPherson is an attorney, and thus should be careful with his words, but I can't help but think that his "right-wing idealogue" comment was a misstatement that he probably didn't intend to apply to a federal judge. To do so would paint him as a fool (even in the eyes of a solid liberal) and would be a horrible election tactic, even in Portland (I would hope).

a statute outlawing abortion in defiance of Roe v. Wade

Except that Roe, whether you agree with it or not, articulates a federal constitutional right. The issue of supremacy at that level was, I think, settled with the Civil War.

I'd say he's showing his true colors, but I don't really know that. More likely he's doing exactly what he's excoriating "right-wingers" for - purporting to have "core beliefs" but adjusting them whenever expedient.

In his case, to better conform to the dogmas of the loony left here in Oregon.

Sad, but not surprising.

Only individuals have "rights" and governments are instituted to protect them.

This sensible principle has been tarnished by elastic interpretations of the 1886 case Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, a low point in Supreme Court history that has enabled corporate rights to equal or exceed the rights of individuals.

It seems to me to be foolish/reckless for a practicing attorney to call a reasonably well-respected Federal Judge "a right-wing ideologue." I wonder if any of his fellow attorneys at Stoel Rives that will have cases in front of this judge are happy with his statement.

I whole-heartedly support the civil unions law and I am upset that folks from outside of Oregon are meddling in our business (again!). But blaming the current situation on this particular federal judge, especially when a final judgment by that judge has not been issued, seems reckless for someone who may have to represent Oregon (or at least lead those who are actually representing Oregon) in front of this judge in future cases.

It would be interesting to hear a debate about the Judge's political leanings, but I also suspect that Rep. Macpherson did not intend to refer to the judge, but instead intended to refer to the plaintiffs who were making the argument.

He's got my vote. The states' rights hypocrisy of the far right has bugged me too.

And hey: "Loony left"? "Liberal fascism"? Snap out of it, guys. Turn off the talk radio and get out of the house once in a while.

I fully support equal rights for everyone and personally denounce those who would foster their moral agenda on us. Having said that, I have been deeply troubled by the tactics employed by gay rights supportors to gain what should be their right by law. The anti democratic tactics from the Multnomah county fiasco to this issue demonstrate to me that in their mind the end justifies the means. I see no difference between this and the Bush agenda, for both strip away the only mechanisms (political dialogue and the right to vote)we truly have to maintain our democracy and to ensure the rights of all of us are protected.

And hey: "Loony left"? "Liberal fascism"? Snap out of it, guys. Turn off the talk radio and get out of the house once in a while.

And hey: "...hypocrisy of the far right..."? I'd say: "Lay off the Daily Kos for a couple of days." but I try not to presume that others can't think for themselves. Even if it's soooo easy.

Call me hypocritical.

I think I like Kroger better already. At lease he seems to be adressing crime instead of some nebulous "states right" issues. Yes, I realize we need to be aware of this, but prosecuting criminals should be top of list.

He may want to take Steve Duin's article off his WEBsite, that may be the kiss of death right there.

I'd love to hear Mr Bog's contrast of the two since he knows both parties. I am open.

Call me hypocritical

Now, wouldn't that be superfluous, and even redundant?

Back to the issue of Voter Rights, I hope that Macpherson has no relatives with Parkinson's Disease, or other similar health issues, or aging, that may alter their signatures.

Then to have a Secretary of State apply random sampling to throw out 10 or more signatures based on a broad interpretation by someone in the elections division if a signature is valid (with no notification required to the signer), the issue of Voter Rights becomes legitimate when the separation is only 100 signatures out of 18,000.

Excuse me, 180,000 signatures.

Why is anyone surprsed at MacPherson's latest?

Sadly, for a guy who started out his career as a state rep with a lot of smarts, a lot of practicality, and an apparent minimum of ideological blindness, MacPherson has devolved into a shrill partisan hack -- a polished shrill partsan hack, but a partisan hack none the less.

Mac has been my state rep since whenever he first ran; he's been the recipient of campaign donations, I have campaigned for him, and he's been a social guest in my house.

But he no longer gets my support.

One need but look at the process MacPherson followed on the Measure 49 referral, and it is apparent, as another poster already mentioned, that MacPherson is untrustworthy, and will do whatever he can to further his ideological goals.

This stunt is a very transparent attept to pander for votes in what will be a tough primary.

In that way, MacPherson is no more than a left version of Alberto Gonzalez.

And neither MacPherson, nor Gonzalez, have any business being Attorney General of anything.

P.S. Regarding Judge Mossman's decision to grant a TRO and schedule an evidentiary hearing on the ballot measure issue -- where were all the folks who cry "foul" at the "interfereance" with the state's legislative process when other udges were rouinely invalidating right wig ballot measures passed in Arizona and California in the last 10 - 15 years?

Just curious.

I apologize in advance.

Call me hypocritical.

Now, wouldn't that be superfluous, and even redundant?

When has that ever stopped you?


The fact is, Judge Mossman IS a right wing ideologue who worked in the Reagan administration and has a record of being anti-gay.

For the record It's Judge Michael Mosman and he's *probably* a right -wing ideologue. He's been connected with many anti--xxxxxx (you fill in the blank) decisions. Nevertheless, the fact that Macpherson is opposed to him and refers to him as a right wing hack strengthens my resolve to help get Kroger elected. Macpherson is a one-trick pony who knows private pension law, but little else. We need an AG who knows THE law, not one who dabbles in the *the law*. Go Kroger.

So, what we have here is one leftwinger jockeying to out-leftloon the other leftwinger, believing that to be the winning strategy, and with those being posited as our choices for AG. As Yakov Smirnov might say if he lived here, "what a state!"

Let me be the first to say what I was thinking before, but kept my powder dry, before Neil Goldschmidt, before Ted Kulongoski, before Diane Lynn, before Eric Sten, before Tom Potter, before Randy Leonard, and before several others too, that we really ought to be looking at other things besides whether this candidate or that is sufficiently left enough. It even helps to have some rightwingers inserted in there. Believe it or not, the system would work much better.

It even helps to have some rightwingers inserted in there.

The only place right wingers are likely to be "inserted" around here can't be mentioned.

That Zeb can characterize Kroger as a "leftwinger" to be "out-leftlooned" just shows that Zeb doesn't know the candidates.

Jim Karlock:
How do you take that episode to be a measure of someone's knowledge of Oregon's "public meeting" laws, since it happened at an event that was not a public meeting subject to those laws?

Allan, it was my understanding that the video was from a "open house" that Macpherson was sponsering to get public feedback on issues before the State Legislature's Land Use Fairness Committee. Many times state legislators sponsor forums such as this outside of Salem to converse with the electorate. I would think that this would fall under Oregon's "public meeting" laws. Where is your evidence that it doesn't?

ORS 192.610. That all got pretty thoroughly hashed over at the time.

Allan, I reviewed the hashings at the time and I don't recall that the consensus leaned to your thinking, nor the law.

I think the constitution is clear about what jurisdiction the federal govt has versus the state government. By and large, the states are supposed to have most of the law-making authority. It is the left who has tried, mainly, at least in the beginning in the southern states, to impose their will on other people from afar. Sounds like Mr. Macpherson wants it both ways. When it's the right he wants to "contain" the feds should move right in, but the left should have free reign, as in Oregon, to be as unconstitutional as it wants to be.

I don't recall that the consensus leaned to your thinking, nor the law.

You could look it up.

Makes me glad to be moving out of Portland, where the ideology is thick as a brick. I was surprised to see something in the big O the other day about a member of "Not Dead Yet", a disability rights group that can see problems with our "Death with Dignity" law. There are always nuances; I am tired of Left Coast Cool, and anyone with questions being dubbed "contrarian" and in possession of "strong opinions" when the opposite is more obviously the case. Out in "redneck" country, necks are red from working in the sun,and one is more likely to come in contact wiht "on the ground" common sense instead of holding up a "lefter than thou" image. I will vote for Kroeker and hope he has the willingness to investigate problems lurking at or near the top of the AG and some of the DAs offices. Smart and vetsatile is better than canny andC doctrinnaire imho.

Jim and lw are both correct; Allan is wrong here, regarding that sorry episode of the public meeting.

But for a politician to make such a stupid spectacle of himself was also very telling, regardless of if the meeting was public or private. He is a buffoon. Or maybe a bozo, I am not sure.

I believe Allan L. had it right. The definition of a "public meeting" is in the statute:

192.610 Definitions for ORS 192.610 to 192.690. As used in ORS 192.610 to 192.690:

* * *

(3) “Governing body” means the members of any public body which consists of two or more members, with the authority to make decisions for or recommendations to a public body on policy or administration.

(4) “Public body” means the state, any regional council, county, city or district, or any municipal or public corporation, or any board, department, commission, council, bureau, committee or subcommittee or advisory group or any other agency thereof.

(5) “Meeting” means the convening of a governing body of a public body for which a quorum is required in order to make a decision or to deliberate toward a decision on any matter. “Meeting” does not include any on-site inspection of any project or program. “Meeting” also does not include the attendance of members of a governing body at any national, regional or state association to which the public body or the members belong. [1973 c.172 §2; 1979 c.644 §1]

Representative MacPherson, when he's conducting a meeting by himself and not sitting as part of the legislature or a legislative committee for which a quorum is required, is not a "governing body" and the videotaped meeting was not therefore a "meeting" as defined by Oregon law.

That doesn't mean that he handled it well, just that he didn't break the law.

Nice try, Isaac, but all you have to do here is make bald assertions, and you win the argument.

The statute that you cited and I quoted, however, does lend an air of verisimilitude to what would otherwise be a bald and unconvincing narrative.

Thanks for that. I still puzzle over this. A guy comes in with a video camera and basically takes over your meeting, brazenly lying about his legal right to do so, and everyone defends him, excoriating the meeting organizer for trying, politely, to determine whether the other attendees might object. It seems totally upside down. Not that I want to re-open the debate; it was ugly.


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C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 5
At this date last year: 3
Total run in 2017: 113
In 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269

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