John Frohnmayer Calls for Bush's Impeachment

John Frohnmayer may have just declared his candidacy for the US Senate yesterday, but he's come out with guns a' blazing. The independent candidate has already made news by calling for President Bush's impeachment.

From the Register-Guard:

Frohnmayer, a Corvallis resident, said in his prepared speech text that it's time to put Bush on trial in Congress for his "constitutional abuse." Specifically, Frohnmayer said the president should be impeached because he has issued more than 1,100 "signing statements" in which he proclaims, while signing legislation, how his administration will interpret and apply the resulting laws.

"In defiance of the Constitution, President Bush has signed laws and then said he won't enforce them, or that he will take on himself the judicial function of interpreting them. ... We must respond to this constitutional demolition. If he is not impeached, the same constitutional abuse is available to the next administration."

Among the four declared candidates for the Senate, Frohnmayer is the only one to call for Bush's impeachment. Democrats Steve Novick and Jeff Merkley have not done so, although spokesmen for both candidates said they think the option should remain on the table.

Smith has not considered impeachment as an option, spokesman R.C. Hammond said.

The call for impeachment is sure to appeal to some disgruntled Democrats. Already, some analysts forsee Frohnmayer having a spoiler effect on the race, in Gordon Smith's favor:

Political scientist and blogger Russ Dondero said Frohnmayer faces almost impossibly long odds of winning the Senate race. If he rises to the level of a spoiler role, he posed less danger to Smith than to Merkley, whom Dondero expected to win the Democratic nomination.

"This may be a rather Quixotic campaign that doesn't have an impact," Dondero said. "But if it does have an impact, it has more of an impact for Jeff Merkley than it does for Gordon Smith."

That assessment reflected the results of a survey released last month by Portland pollster Mike Riley. It found Frohnmayer had 7 percent support, with 10 percent coming from Democrats and 5 percent from Republicans.

Read the rest. The Senate race just got that much tougher for the Democratic nominee.

Discuss.

Comments

  • Ed Bickford (unverified)
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    From the cited R-G article:

    "He joined the Oregon Independent Party in April. ... Frohnmayer announced his candidacy at appearances in Salem and Portland. He said he hoped to draw support from the fast-growing ranks of Independent voters, who make up 22 percent of the Oregon electorate."

    Once again the unfortunate naming of the party gives occasion to misconstrue independent (note that it would have properly not been capitalized in the article) voters as Independent Party voters, attributing to the party undue support.

  • Harry (unverified)
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    Ah, yes, a rose (or Rose) by any other name, smells just as sweet (or foul, as the case may be).

    I did rather like Sen Westlund's run for governor as an indie. And I respected his decision to abandon his race when he felt he would only spoil, not win, the election.

    So, what will John do? Will he quit when he gets the memo that he has no chance to win? Or will he pull a Nader/Mobely/Perot?

  • James X. (unverified)
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    As I pointed out at Loaded O, his positions are uniformly Democratic, and often to the left of the candidates. He also supports single-payer healthcare, for example.

    Still, he claims he will take votes equally from moderate Republicans and Democrats. I don't believe it. Check my diary's first comment for some interesting perspectives from others I found.

  • paul (unverified)
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    Wow. We can argue about impeachment, and I think both sides have some valid arguments.

    But impeachment over signing statements?? Frohnmayer might first do his homework.

    A few points from the website.

    Bush has not signed 1100 signing statements--he's issued under 200.

    That "constitutional abuse" has been available for quite a few years. The first signing statements were made by James Monroe.

    Bush's claims that Congress cannot pass a law that conflicts with a "unitary executive branch" is at least a quarter century old--Reagan was the first to make the claim.

    Frohnmayer's standard for impeachment would have applied to Reagan, G Bush Sr., and even Bill Clinton, who issued far more signing statements that Bush Jr.

    Signing statements are an issue for SCOTUS, not impeachment.

  • Harry (unverified)
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    James writes: "Still, he claims he will take votes equally from moderate Republicans and Democrats. I don't believe it."

    I agree with you.

    And I think that John is a smart man. So I am left to wonder what his real agenda is? (He knows about Anderson, Perot, Nader and most recently right here in Oregon, Westlund)

    So, is this a vanity campaign? (Nader)

    Is he looking for better name recognition for another office? (Westlund)

    Does he want to withdraw just before the election, if he can be bought off (I mean, negotiate) for a plum Wash,DC job in the Obama/Hillary administration?

    Or am I wrong, and he is very delusional that he thinks he can actually win this race?

  • Big Barton (unverified)
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    I am astonished that John considers Bush's signing statements an impeachable offense. Although hortatory signing statements date from President Madison, modern usage began with Reagan (allegedly the idea of a staff attorney at the DOJ Office of Legal Counsel named Sam Alito). Every subsequent President, including Clinton, has issued them. Granted, Bush 43 issues signing statements with unprecedented frequency, but this is hardly an impeachable offense.

    The proper venue to challenge the "constitutional abuse" of signing statements is the judiciary, not Congress. I know that John knows this, so I am puzzled by this argument and would appreciate clarification.

  • Big Barton (unverified)
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    Sorry to rehash your argument, Paul.

    And you're right, they date back to Monroe, not Madison.

  • James X. (unverified)
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    I really don't know, Harry. I posted the comments from others not because I necessarily believe them, but because I think they're honest attempts to understand the situation and are worth some consideration. I read another commenter who thought Frohnmayer was still essentially a Republican, spoiling the race to keep Smith in office. But what I've read seems to indicate Frohnmayer's always been to the left of the GOP rank-and-file, and isn't inclined to be overtly used as such an agent of the party apparatus. I think a combination of Nader and Westlund could make some sense: run to the left of the Democrats, get some name recognition, get some favors to drop out and endorse the Dem. I don't claim to know, but it makes more sense than thinking you can win a statewide majority in Oregon as an independent with these positions, when there's already a guarantee of a progressive Democrat in the race.

  • Jamais Vu (unverified)
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    Um...Paul? Where've you been the last couple of months? Signing statements are the primary Constitutional violation being cited from Bill Moyers to Charlie Savage as grounds for impeachment.

    You're correct that Bush isn't the first to use signing statements, but he is arguably the first to use them as a new form of veto and law creation by fiat; both of which violate the Constitution in the opinion of most legal scholars and Supreme Court decisions.

    There's a good report by the American Bar Association Task Force on Presidential Signing Statements and the Separation of Powers Doctrine from August 2006 that is worth looking at for a complete history of signing statements and the case against Bush's use of them.

  • Big Barton (unverified)
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    JV,

    A person with standing should challenge the constitutionality of his signing statements. If we learned one thing from the late 1990s, it is that Congress should not launch impeachment proceedings cavalierly.

    The courts, not Congress, provide the appropriate forum to adjudicate this controversy.

  • Eric J. (unverified)
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    Why should we impeach when he is going to be gone by next year anyway? If we do impeach him, Cheney takes over and that would be worse. If there is any impeachment to be done, it should have been done years ealier, not now.

    Just because the Republicans impeached Clinton in such a manner does not mean we should do the same to Bush. Although I do not like Bush, I do not think we should sink to a Republican level and do the same impeachment tactics. Just let him go away as he will when his term is up.

    An eye for an eye leaves you with just one eye left to ask why you retaliated in the first place.

  • Don Beal (unverified)
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    Has Frohnmayer said which party he would caucus with and who he would support for majority leader should he win?

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    Paul,

    My understanding is that many of President Bush's signing statements have differed substantially from those of his predecessors. The earlier ones involved stating the interpretive gloss under which the president was signing, presumably to have an influence on court interpretation of the meaning of a law in the case of dispute.

    Many of Bush's signing statements I believe are more analogous to a line-item veto. That is, Bush claims to be exempting himself from enforcing provisions of the law that he claims are unconstitutional.

    The impeachment argument is that this violates his oath of office regarding faithfully executing the laws. I suppose the counter-argument at that level would be the part about "preserving, protecting and defending."

    If the president thinks something in a law is unconstitutional, the burden should be on him to bring it to the Supreme Court, or he should enforce it and leave it to a party who claims a harm to bring a case.

    Instead, with the signing statements, he fails to faithfully execute the laws, and shifts the burden onto Congress to get the actions before the Court -- probably to be opposed on ground of lack of standing. Private parties harmed by non-enforcement of a law probably would have a harder time getting standing than parties harmed by its enforcement.

    My view of impeachment is that I want the hearings. In this case, I don't care if they're called impeachment hearings or not, but we need hearings on the signing statements with a view to getting them before the Supreme Court, sooner rather than later.

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    Eric J,

    You answered your own question. Congress impeached Clinton, but did not remove him.

    In this case I'm not sure it would even get as far as an impeachment floor debate or vote. It starts with committee hearings.

    It is important to challenge the many illegal, unconstitutional and abusive things Bush and Cheney have done while they are still in office, so that they can be further contested and reversed later. Waiting for a Democrat to get into the White House isn't good enough, because it might not happen and because frankly they can't be trusted to try to return the illegitimately claimed or seized power. The office has institutional interests that affect all holders. That's why there is separation of powers and why it is up to other branches of government to take this on.

    Starting the impeachment process against Cheney and Bush would be nothing like the impeachment of Clinton -- not taken lightly (actually delayed overlong), and in response to numerous high crimes and misdemeanors with weighty consequences if allowed to stand.

    They should be fought in the courts too. These are not alternatives. The abuses need to be fought with all available tools to prevent them becoming lasting precedent.

  • Big Barton (unverified)
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    If the president thinks something in a law is unconstitutional, the burden should be on him to bring it to the Supreme Court

    I agree with you, Chris. Similarly, if a person with standing thinks the President's signing statements are unconstitutional, that person should challenge the President's actions in the US District Court for the District of Columbia. Under normal circumstances, the appeal would go to the DC Circuit and then to the Supreme Court. However, the Supreme Court could choose skip the DC Circuit and hear the appeal directly, but this only happens in exceptional circumstances, such as US v. Nixon.

    Trust the judiciary to do its job. Impeachment hearings would only create a partisan confrontation and further polarize the country.

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    This would be the now-politicized judiciary?

    At this point, impeachment investigations would not polarize the country anymore than it already is, and the message that would be sent to future executives is well worth the effort.

  • Big Barton (unverified)
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    Call me naive, but I believe in the separation of powers, and I trust the judiciary to do its job.

    Besides, Alito would probably recuse himself, given that he invented the modern signing statement.

  • LT (unverified)
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    It is my position that this campaign should be fought on specific issues, not generalities. For instance, if one is suspicious of Frohnmayer wanting impeachment over signing statements, go out and campaign for your choice of Steve or Jeff.

    Notice this quote from the post: "Among the four declared candidates for the Senate, Frohnmayer is the only one to call for Bush's impeachment. Democrats Steve Novick and Jeff Merkley have not done so, although spokesmen for both candidates said they think the option should remain on the table.

    Smith has not considered impeachment as an option."

    Recently a friend emailed a response from Cong. Hooley on the subject of impeachment. "I've heard from many Oregonians who are frustrated about how we got into the Iraq war, how the war's been mismanaged, and how the Bush Administration has abused its power whether it regards warrantless wiretapping or stonewalling Congress.

    I will soon be introducing a resolution that calls on the President to encourage all relevant parties that have been subpoenaed to testify and not hide behind Executive Privilege. Transparency is key to our democracy.

    Oversight must be followed by accountability. Impeachment is in the Constitution and should never, ever be off the table for any President. "

    Perhaps the Novick and Merkley campaigns should post here at least a 1-3 paragraph statement on impeachment more specific than the "spokesmen for..." quote in the post.

    It bothers me, however, to read statements like "Will he quit when he gets the memo that he has no chance to win? "

    Harry, who would write such a memo and send it to John? And are you saying that no one here should give John Frohnmayer the time of day because we should all have faith in 2007 polls?

    Which 2005 polls (same time in the 2006 election cycle) accurately predicted the Democratic victories in 2006 nationally (Walz, Webb, Brown, Murphy (D-PA), Sestak, etc.) or the Oregon results from Clem getting such a large victory margin to Gilbertson stunning those who thought by definition no Democrat could possibly come within a couple hundred votes of winning in District 59?

    There have been questions on this and related topics about why some people view partisanship as toxic. It is not the direct insult to Merkley or Novick the way some people seem to believe.

    It is the whole "cut and dried" nature of too much of politics--no one should be inspired by anyone not leading in the polls in the 2nd half of the year before the election?

    Whatever happened to "we the people"? Are we all just supposed to turn everything over to "political professionals" and never think for ourselves?

    How many remember the 3rd party candidates in Jan. 2006? There was a memorable one whose name I think was Karen something and I think she was the American Party candidate. She was in one of the debates with Smith and Wyden and the comments I heard afterwards from ordinary folks (grocery store conversations, etc. ) were along the lines of "didn't she strike you as someone you might know?" and other compliments for a person who seemed down to earth and not just a garden variety politician. Were people wrong to express such opinions because it is our duty as Oregonians to only consider candidates from major parties? That strikes me as about as "toxic" an attitude as anything I have ever heard.

    I am an old friend of Ron Wyden and had his bumper sticker on my car in Jan. 1996. But I never would have told anyone they were required to choose between Smith and Wyden and never even consider the other candidates. As I recall, Wyden won in Jan. 1996 the way G. Smith won in Nov. 2006--the number of people voting 3rd party was a larger margin between the R and D candidates.

    If someone wants to be angry, if I were on the Novick campaign I would be angry at Dondero saying that Merkley will probably win. I'd want to ask him who he predicted would win the 1992 US Senate primary.

    For those of you who put your faith in polls, the day before that primary the Oregonian published polls on 4 contested races on their front page. ALL 4 POLLS WERE WRONG! Could that have been why the US Senate primary ended in a recount? There was a 3rd candidate in that primary--is it his "fault" the primary turned out the way it did? Is it the Oregonian's "fault" for printing the polls on their front page the day before the primary? (As I recall, the Oregonian changed pollsters after that.)

    I believe hearings should be held to investigate all the issues which might lead to impeachment hearings. HOW THE GOOD GUYS FINALLY WON by Jimmy Breslin is an indepth look at impeachment done seriously and successfully.

    How is this "you're only supposed to look at major party candidates and all others should drop out lest they throw the election the wrong way" attitude different than so many nationally famous people in politics or media saying "Hillary is the front runner and Obama is giving her a serious challenge, but no other candidate has a chance"?

    I saw Chris Dodd do an hour (half hour each of 2 nights) with Charlie Rose, and I have seen Biden and others do similarly long interviews. http://www.charlierose.com/ should have video.

    I may well give my US Senate vote to the candidate who strikes me as having an equally strong grasp of the details and serious approach to answering questions as I have seen from Dodd and Biden. If that wrecks the plans of those who had the whole Merkley vs. Novick campaign organized in their own minds and think Frohnmayer is a monkey wrench, such an attitude will not get my vote for either Jeff or Steve. I will decide who I vote for next year.

  • naschkatze (unverified)
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    Steve Novick, one of the Democratic contenders for Smith's seat, said " it's 'questionable' for someone who could end up sitting on an impeachment panel 'to prejudge the process'. (The Oregonian, 9/13/07) If Frohnmayer were to win the election, impeachment would be a moot point at that stage with Bush leaving office. But wouldn't Novick's illogical reasoning be the death of all impeachments if no congressman or senator could ever call for impeachment because it would 'prejudge the process'? In some bizarre way this reasoning works hand in glove with the Cheney/Bush assumption that their executive is beyond the reach of the Congress and the law.

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    Posted by: naschkatze | Sep 13, 2007 3:03:43 PM

    Difference between House and Senate. Senate acts and jurists in an impeachment trial. House members are somewhat analogous to a DA seeking an indictment from a grand jury.

    The point Novick made is interesting, since that is something I pointed out when Merkely first called for Gonzales' impeachment, when I said it wasn't likely to hear sitting Senators to call for impeaching anyone, because of the role they play as Senators as jurists in any such impeachment proceeding.

  • James X. (unverified)
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    LT, I don't look at the poll Riley did to figure Frohnmayer won't win. I look at the fact that he's running to the left of progressive Democrats in a statewide race. I think he's aiming for something other than being our next US Senator.

  • LT (unverified)
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    As someone who remembers the mid-20th century definitions of "left" and "right" (Communism and socialism were LEFT, fascism and other such dictatorships were RIGHT, Hubert Humphrey was seen as the definition of liberal and Barry Goldwater as the definition of conservative), I don't believe all Oregonians view politicians through an ideological prism.

    Obviously some are skeptical of anyone who doesn't run in a major party. But am I some kind of subversive because I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt to an author whose book I thorougly enjoyed reading?

    Are we seeing evidence on this and similar topics of people saying "you should think the way I think"? Let me make myself clear. If anyone is upset at John Frohnmayer for running as an Independent, they have a right to that point of view. But they do a greater favor to the Democratic candidates if they channel that emotion into either the Novick or Merkley campaign than if they try to persuade those they disagree with that the almighty polls will decide what happens in 2008 or that all Oregonians view ideology as having the power they claim it has.

    I took an 18 year old friend to see Steve Novick speak, and her reactions afterwards were to a speaker named Steve, not to any ideology. I asked her at one point if the word liberal meant anything to her, and it didn't.

    Jeff and Steve are supposed to be very intelligent, and either would do credit to the US Senate.

    But I don't see how supporters saying no one has the right to even look at anyone else, and how dare John have the gall to declare as a non-major party candidate, gets either Steve or Jeff elected as US Senator. I think it is a misuse of energy from supporters (both campaigns need all the passion and volunteer time they can get) to vent against John Frohnmayer.

    And no, I don't believe anyone can predict what the 2008 result will be by using 2007 polls. Voters are persnickity--sometimes they vote in ways no one predicted.

    Perhaps those who believe in polls can enlighten the rest of us about the track record of the various polls in 2005. Did they accurately predict: Gov. race (primary and general election)? Clem's victory margin? how close Evans came to carrying Polk County? closeness of the House Dist. 24 and 59 contests? or any other results that the general public would not have believed possible this time 2 years ago?

    If people want to take polls as an article of faith, that is fine with me. I don't, and no one will gain my vote for Jeff or Steve with rhetoric like "but the polls say...".

  • paul (unverified)
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    JV,

    Thanks for the reference. It was very helpful, but with all due respect, I think the ABA statement supports my own and BB's position.

    The ABA document outlines the ongoing controversy over the historical roots of the theory of the "unitary executive." It also points out--as two posters here note--that the Bush Administration has been particularly aggressive in promoting this doctrine.

    It lauds Clinton for relying on the White House Counsel because this provides a legal record of the reasoning Clinton relied upon. But also note this statement from Clinton's first counsel: In a 1993 memorandum, the then head of OLC, later acting Solicitor General Walter Dellinger, justified on historical and constitutional bases, a President’s refusal to follow a law that is “unconstitutional” on its face.

    In short, while Bush's view of expanded executive power is more expansive than any of his predecessor's, the report also does not question that Bush "acted in good faith" (ABA's langauge) and does not recommend, in any way shape or form, impeachment.

    But let's get back to the point of this thread:

    1) Frohnmayer misstates by at least 25% the number of signing statements.

    2) As Steve Novick points out in today's Oregonian, it is odd for someone who is supposed to act as a jury on a trial to pre-announce his position. To Steve's great credit, he is unwilling to make a statement about impeachment, even as he is pressured by activists, because he realizes this runs contrary to his constitutional responsibilities and his personal principles.

    Good for you, Steve!

  • naschkatze (unverified)
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    lestatdelc at 3:13:36 p.m. I am well aware that the House impeaches and the Senate tries, acquits or convicts, but a call for impeachment is a call for an investigation and does not necessarily indicate that the person calling for the impeachment has reached a forgone conclusion of guilt. Any citizen, whether in the Senate or without, should be able to call for an investigation to be opened.

  • trishka (unverified)
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    i'm a'feared that might be a subtlety that is lost on lots of people, though, sadly.

  • Big Barton (unverified)
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    I give 2-1 that Paul is a lawyer.

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    Harry, before you throw Perot in with Nader, what's your take on the Oregon Health Plan? Without Perot's support, Clinton would not have needed to take a position in the debates, and the necessary Federal rider might never have come. (This is a paraphrase of John Kitzhaber, see here for more.)

    Point being, these races are about much more than merely who wins. Campaigns are opportunities to engage the public in the democracy they own, and to shape and influence the thoughts and positions of all candidates. A presupposition that the "spoiler effect" will take place, or that it's the most significant part of the picture, is undemocratic in my view. Might as well throw our hands up in the air and just let the "insiders" decide what's best for the rest of us.

    I believe John Frohnmayer is in it to win, so that he can do his part to improving our government; I also believe he has good judgment, and is unlikely to proceed in a way that ensures a terrible Senator like Smith victory – and to avoid being a negative force in any number of ways. I make no prediction of what will happen as the race shakes out, except that I find it hard to believe that Frohnmayer will act in a way that will disappoint his supporters.

    Paul, you make excellent points as always, but a couple things seem a little off: a correction about the number of signing statements is appropriate, but I don't think it has much substance as an evaluation of Frohnmayer's position. At this stage, the character of the signing statements seems most vital, not the specific number. Of course accuracy is important, but at this stage of the campaign it looks to me like "no harm, no foul."

    As for Novick's comments, I think nas. has a very good point - calling for impeachment does not equal presumption of guilt. In addition, none of the candidates but Smith will get to cast a vote on the impeachment of Bush or Cheney - he'll be gone by the time they're in office. Let's hope that Smith has the chance, though - and rises to the occasion. We can always dream, right?

  • jimsagiant (unverified)
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    Do any of you all hear the rush of wind out the door as former democrats rush to put as much room between themselves and every thing that has happened in the last 8 years. I have never played 'good german'. I know now why people voted for Ralph Nader. I wish I had. If we are not going to play these games with fairness, personal integrity, and with moral sensibilities, I don't have to make it fun for you. This Frohmayer idea works for me and my party afiliation is about to change.

  • Urban Planning Overlord (unverified)
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    So much for Frohnmayer being "the voice of reason."

    I take back all the nice things I said about him on the previous post.

    We need leadership for 2009, not pointless impeachment proceedings in 2008.

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    Frohnmayer appears to be marginalizing himself with his reckless statements. Somebody please send him to candidate's school before he shoots himself in the other foot.

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    what Merkley has said about impeachment is not that it should be on the table but that it's never off the table -- it's in the Constitution.

    and it's pointless to ask Senators about impeaching anyone because it's up to the House to impeach. calling for Gonzo's impeachment was a no-brainer; he lied before Congress on frikkin' national tv. hard to pre-judge that one. i wish i could say Bush's lies that led to war were in the same category, but it's clear that to most Americans, however much they now oppose the war, they have not figured out that we're in it because Bush and his people lied. so the evidence to impeach Bush is not, in the public eye, as clear-cut for Bush. (me? send him to The Hague for international war crimes & crimes against humanity. but only after we end this horrible war.)

    Frohnmayer may mean what he's saying, but i have no doubt about it's real outcome: pull in the votes of the most rabid anti-Bush people. another hit at the Dem base. looks like Gordo's found his running mate.

  • MCT (unverified)
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    Send him to candidate's school? See THAT's why we have a crisis of leadership....that sort of thinking. Those who run for office are handled and spun into the political equivalent of a Madison Avenue wet dream. If elected, they are too timid to voice an opinion without consulting their PR firms and running a poll or three.

    Impeach, indict, prosecute, and convict. Are any of our leaders true patriots? Bold thinking, and brave moves are in order to reclaim our constitution. Damn the torpedoes.

  • James X. (unverified)
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    LT, are you saying my assessment of what's left and right is wrong? Isn't single-payer a form of socialism, and isn't impeachment anti-fascist?

    And, LT, while I believe pro-Merkley/Novick talk is good, I don't think it precludes anti-Smith/Frohnmayer talk. Frohnmayer will take votes from otherwise Merkley/Novick voters, because of his positions. So there will be anti-Frohnmayer talk until or unless we give him a ball and he takes it and goes home.

    (Also, I'm thinking more and more that Frohnmayer had to have been inspired by Westlund.)

    And Pete, you're perfectly entitled to your position, but I don't think you're going to win over converts around here by saying voting for Nader would be better than a President Al Gore.

  • LT (unverified)
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    If someone wants to say single payer is a form of socialism, that is fine. My point is that if you say that to someone under 35 it might result in a blank look on their face.

    Recently I was talking to a friend who was our Dem. county chair decades ago. Part of our conversation was about communicating with potential voters under 35. He said his daughter is in that category and he agrees how important it is to reach those people. Don't forget that a young Karl Rove got his start saying "people our age can reach other people our age better than someone over 35 can reach them--Chris Matthews showed Dan Rather an old video tape of a young Rather interviewing a young Rove (with Rove's hair falling in his face) about the time Rove announced he was leaving the White House.

    My point was that labels are fine between 2 people who know what the labels mean. But just as a computer sales person is going to be more successful selling a computer to an older non-techie type person by using plain language instead of tech speak, labels are in the jargon category and not always effective communication. If a voter doesn't recognize the term "single payer" health care, why would calling it socialism earn their vote?

    I know lots of people who vote every election but are not always up on all the jargon. One of them (who has always voted for Gordon in the past) said some months ago that if the case could be made, "Gordon, you're not the guy we thought we elected to go to DC", that would be a valid reason to look at other candidates.

    The point of a campaign is to win over voters, and if labels don't work with certain voters, smart campaigns don't use labels in talking to those voters.

    And if a voter says "I am looking for a candidate who states the affirmative, gives specifics on issues, is candid, civil, common sense and perhaps has a bit of wit", I don't see how anyone wins the vote of such a person by saying "So there will be anti-Frohnmayer talk until or unless we give him a ball and he takes it and goes home." anymore than Gordon Smith got himself elected in Jan. 1996 with "we're all real tired of career politicians".

    I do think this debate is weeding out those who are strongly supporting their candidate from those who are simply angry that their applecart (2 party Senate race) has been overturned and the political landscape has changed.

    My memory of 1968 is this: It was as if there was an established political system much like a completed jigsaw puzzle on a card table. Then the events of 1968 came along and it was as if the card table went crashing down and the puzzle pieces went flying through the air. I have been thinking for sometime that 2008 could be the same, and what I hear so far about Frohnmayer sounds like the establishment folks angry at those of us who were able to register and vote for the first time in 1968 and didn't think or behave in established patterns. If one campaign inflicts their ads and rhetoric on the general public while another campaign engages in dialogue and Q & A to open (anyone invited) town hall meetings, my sympathies are with the second campaign. Period. No matter who it is.

  • jimsagiant (unverified)
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    Why even talk about heath care when you have such a sucking chest wound like the 'war on terror'. Good luck with anything domestically. I wouldn't turn this mess over to democrats unless I had an interest in it's continuation.

  • James X. (unverified)
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    For the record, I am a "someone under 35." By a significant margin. But I agree that labeling something socialism isn't a winning strategy, even if people don't realize they like socialist programs such as public education, Social Security, municipal drinking water.... I was just asking how your definition of "left = socialism/communism, right = fascism/dictatorship" conflicted with my assessment that Frohnmayer is to the left of the Democratic candidates.

    Also, I don't have a candidate. I'm frankly surprised that many people have committed to a candidate so quickly. And I'm not angry at Frohnmayer. I think he has every right to run. But I really don't see a winning strategy in his positions. Impeachment, single-payer, global warming, labor ... what was that we were saying about socialism? If there wasn't already a guarantee of a progressive Dem in the race, these positions would be workable. But since he's either going to be sharing the field with Novick or Merkley, he's not going to get a majority, he's just going to split the left.

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    James X said:

      And Pete, you're perfectly entitled to your position, but I don't think you're going to win over converts around here by saying voting for Nader would be better than a President Al Gore.

    I'm sorry, was there some guy named Pete around here praising Nader? Sorry I missed him, sounds like an entertaining fellow. I'm sure he appreciates your permission to hold his position, though!

  • LT (unverified)
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    Regarding the possibility of impeachment in the current Congress.... I just saw (in a documentary) the calling of the roll for a vote on Articles of Impeachment for Nixon. Lots of names and faces young people probably never heard of. Then they got to someone still very much involved in Congress--Cong. Charlie Rangel.

    If he took any public move (like holding hearings) or private action (getting together with others to discuss how to start impeachment proceedings), that would be a sign that impeachment efforts had gotten serious. He's one of the few remaining members to understand all the work involved in impeachment done right.

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    James,

    Single payer isn't socialism, not by a long shot. It is a form of social insurance, which is different.

    The British have socialized medicine. Under British socialized medicine, the state owns most of the hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities. Most doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers are government employees on salary, i.e. not reimbursed by number or specific nature of procedures. There are very small and marginal private practices that cater to the wealthy.

    Medicine in the U.S. would be socialized if we provided it the way we provide public education or public safety services. The V.A. system is the closest thing we have in the U.S. to socialized medicine.

    Single-payer is a form of social insurance. It combines the whole population into a very large risk pool. But services are still provided by mostly private and some public providers, at mostly private but some public facilities. Medicare is a single-payer system. The most active current proposal for national single-payer is H.R. 676, sponsored by Congressman John Conyers of Michigan, which basically calls for opening Medicare to anyone regardless of age.

    In Canada, the single payer is the government, and its funds come from general taxes. Neither of those facts need be true of a single payer system.

    The single payer could be a non-governmental non-profit organization, comparable to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting or Amtrak. In Germany, they do not have a single payer, but multiple non-profit "sickness funds" that all have to meet very extensive minimum benefits established by law, which creates broad uniformity in the system.

    Funding could come out of general tax revenues. It could come out of dedicated payroll taxes like Social Security and Medicare (whose joint contribution system was inspired in part by the German healthcare model, established under that well-known socialist imperial chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, in 1884). In Germany, there are joint contributions to sickness funds by employers and employees, but they are not taxes paid to the government, but mandated payments directly to the non-profit NGO sickness funds. In principle one could do the same thing with a single payer.

    The basis of payment also can vary. Canada pretty much has a similar system to the U.S., a "fee-for-service" model. Germany has a modified version in which a physician's organization in each federal state negotiates rates with the sickness funds (not sure how frequently) and has mechanisms for investigating and potentially fining or not reimbursing doctors who exceed average expected procedures for number of patients by a substantial percentage (though doctors can show they were medically necessary). N.B. this is the doctor's orgs policing themselves, not the state directly.

    So there can be three basic levels of state role: state provision of healthcare services (socialized medicine), state provision of universal health insurance (social insurance), or state legislative requirement of universal insurance and regulation of required benefits (social mandate and regulation). Senator

    Wyden's bill is a fairly decent version of the social mandate type, because of the strong minimum benefits it requires and limits on exclusions and very high deductibles, though not so great on income criteria for eligibility for subsidies. HB 329 passed by the Oregon leg. this year would be similar, but it is not clear yet if it would provide strong minimum benefits, or would permit lemon insurance made "affordable" by having many exclusions and high deductibles.

    Overall public satisfaction with the healthcare system is very much higher in Canada, France (somewhat different single-payer than Canada, with larger private sector in areas beyond basic & preventive care I believe), Germany and Japan (which is something like Germany) than in the U.S. Satisfaction in the U.K. is substantially higher than in the U.S. though below the others. Satisfaction with the V.A. system among participants is much higher than general public satisfaction with the U.S. system as a whole.

    (This information is based on an Oregon MPH course on Health Systems Organization, plus some personal research into Conyers' & Wyden's bills.)

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    As Steve Novick points out in today's Oregonian, it is odd for someone who is supposed to act as a jury on a trial to pre-announce his position.

    The role of a U.S. Senator differs from that of a jurist as the U.S. Senate also serves the function of oversight over the executive branch. Steve is misreading both history and the constitutional role of the Senate if he believes that sitting U.S. Senators have not taken it as part of their role for call for the House of Representatives to impeach.

    Besides, if the Democrats in the House won't move for impeachment or censure while Bush is in office, they won't move for it when he is out of office. Even if he wins this race, Steve Novick will never be in a position to "sit on the jury".

    As for this business about John "marginalizing himself" with calls for impeachment. 36 percent of Americans and, we believe, a significantly higher percentage of Oregonians support impeachment.

    Who is representing the interests of those people?

  • James X. (unverified)
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    Wow, sorry Pete, I read Jim's comment and somehow thought I was still reading you. ("I know now why people voted for Ralph Nader. I wish I had.") Again, apologies.

    And just so I'm not confusing anyone, I'm in favor of single-payer.

  • Former Dem Voter (unverified)
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    "We need leadership for 2009, not pointless impeachment proceedings in 2008."

    If the Democrats wanted leadership in '09, then they should have shown some in '07 and '08. By leadership, I mean it in the broader sense than simply chairing committees. As an old school Democrat, I think we need to fire the entire crew we have now, and that is how I am going to vote. Reelecting the losers we have now will just make them think they're doing a good job.

    A lot of real Democrats are feeling very betrayed by Congress. I think that's something Democratic candidates are going to learn about in '08.

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    It amazes me once again to see people on BO foam at the mouth when those of us who don't agree with the group have dissenting opinions. Certainly since Merkley has gotten into the race, many people on Blue Oregon have been nasty regarding any aspect of the US Senate race(let me preface that with saying some of the Novick supporters have been pretty nasty as well), including the arguments about measure 50 which Merkley is staking his future on. As I've said, I'm deeply disappointed at the level of debate regarding some of these things, which pushes me further from either of the D nominees.

    A perfect example is how some reacted to Frohnmayer's candidacy. As I said on another thread, I don't know much about John Frohnmayer, but I am very willing to keep my eyes open and watch what he does between now and next year. Certainly as a very active D, I would have been willing to help one (or both D campaigns). Too bad I guess.

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    David, I'd suggest talking to people at each campaign face-to-face or on the phone, looking at positions and inquiring about intended actions if you intend to work on a campaign and are choosing.

    At any rate, don't decide on the basis of reactions to the 40-odd (some very odd ;-) ) people who write on BO, out of the apparently more than 2000 who read it.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Chris, on an earlier controversy, I had a more intelligent response directly from Steve Novick by email than by some of his supporters here.

    To keep things civil, we need to adopt your tone. One wonders how many campaigns the really nasty people have worked on not to realize the old adage "yesterday's enemies may be tomorrow's allies".

    There are some of us who have been active Democrats but were raised in Republican families and have been registered NAV.

    There have been some people here bent out of shape sounding like they were saying that word one in favor of John F. or questioning partisanship were directly insulting Jeff or Steve.

    There is a guest opinion in today's Oregonian by Ted Ferrioli mourning the death of Big Look although apparently there was no one from the Farm Bureau (and only a couple of people in agriculture)on Big Look--lots of local officials, though.

    This is an interesting time for Republicans--caught between the long time farmers who support 49 as protecting their livelihood, and developers who want to keep 37 without any changes. When talking to one GOP caucus office about that column, I said "I was raised in a Republican family, and have been kind of like John Frohnmayer--registered R, D, NAV at some time in my life. There are more people like that than partisans want to admit".

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    Chris,

    My point is, while supporters don't necessarly represent the candidate direcly, they do indirectly. People should keep that in mind when posting. What comes out of some bloggers mouth, can indirectly hurt a candidate they support even though it may not be intended.

    I've tried to keep my mind open with both Merkley and Novick. I had a chance to hear Merkley speak at a DL meeting last week and have not yet had a chance to hear Novick speak.

    Like I said, I'm more willing now to at least listen to what Frohnmayer had to say then before. Certainly I don't discount him as a possiblity like others have.

  • James X. (unverified)
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    LT, I really wish, when you accuse people of things like attacking Frohnmayer because of polls, or being hostile to people because they're interested in Frohnmayer, you'd bother to quote one of them. I've noticed you use quotation marks around phrases sometimes, but you aren't actually quoting anyone. It's annoying to be on the side of all these unreasonable people you're talking about without being able to see who they are. Same with David at 3:17.

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    I give 2-1 that Paul is a lawyer.

    <h2>Barton, I'll take that bet. (Of course, I already know that Paul is a professor, not a lawyer.)</h2>
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