Wyden hits town hall #600. That's one every 9.45 days, for 15 years.

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

During his 1996 special election campaign, Senator Ron Wyden pledged to hold a public town hall meeting in every single one of Oregon's 36 counties every single year.

In part, it was an effort to demonstrate that he was going to be a Senator for all of Oregon, not just for Portland - where he'd served 15 years in Congress. It was one of those pledges made in the heat of an election campaign that not a lot of people took seriously at the time.

But Senator Wyden's stuck to it, and today he's hosting his 600th town hall - in Fossil, the site of his very first town hall meeting back on February 17, 1996.

Consider the math: As of today, Senator Wyden's been a U.S. Senator for 5671 days. With 600 town halls under his belt, that's one public town hall every 9.45 days. For more than 15 years.

Check out the video that the Senator and his team put together. It's kinda cheesy, but the photos tell a great story about all the places - big and small - that he's stopped to talk with Oregonians.

“In 1996, I pledged that if I was chosen Oregon’s first new United States Senator in almost thirty years, I would throw open the doors of government and hold an open-to-all town hall meeting in each of Oregon’s 36 counties, each year,” said Senator Wyden. “While this journey began as a special pledge to Oregonians, 600 town hall meetings later, I realize it has been Oregon’s gift to me.”

Having hit #600, he's not stopping. Tomorrow is #601, in Moro, Oregon.

This post has been corrected. The original version said tomorrow's town hall was in Morrow.

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    Full disclosure: My firm built Senator Wyden's campaign website. I speak only for myself.

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    Yeah, Mitch (I didn't mean to make my comment a reply to Kari's disclaimer), I've seen people try it, too, but it doesn't resonate with voters.

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    600 town halls hosted by Wyden. It seems he's accessible. On the other hand, I have, over the years, written him about a dozen times and phoned his office about the same number of times, always asking the same, simple question:

    According to the 4th Geneva Conventions (which state that a sovereign state may not expand its boundaries through military conflict), and UN res. 242 & 338 and a decision from the Int'l Court of Justice, who has legal jurisdiction over the (entire) West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip?

    Wyden has never given me an answer. No surprise there.

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    Someone thinks the answer is obvious and that Senator Wyden is somehow deliberately ignoring the issue. In truth, however, the answer is exceedingly complex. Legally speaking the West Bank is occupied territory which Jordan abandoned in 1988. The Israelis always claimed all of Jerusalem (regardless of the armistice line), and the partition plan of 1947 isn't binding on the Israelis because the Arabs rejected it, gambled on war, and lost.

    Now of course none of this means that Israel should be doing what they're doing. In fact, I rather hope they are struck by a terrible episode of common sense. But this issue can only be solved in the court of public opinion in Israel and nascent Palestine, not the powerless pseudo-courts which lack jurisdiction and all measure of credibility.

    And all of this is foreign policy, which is the purview of the President, not Congress. Senator Wyden is wise not to interject himself in that.

    (Oh, and by the way, the 4th Geneva convention says nothing remotely close to "a sovereign state may not expand its boundaries through military conflict". If it had, the Soviets, who annexed about half of Poland through the auspices of the puppet government they had installed, would have never signed it.)

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    @Stephen Douglas Maurer: I suggest you read Article 47, the first paragraph of Section III, of the 4th Geneva Conventions, which has to do with what is not allowed as a result of military occupation.

    And, what, do you think the USSR government was somehow honorable and/or thought itself to be constrained by international law, even agreements it itself had signed?

    And, Israel itself signed onto and agreed to implement UN res 242 just after it was enacted. And we see the Israeli government is like the USSR government when it comes to honoring agreements.

    Doesn't the USA go to war against countries that violate Security Council resolutions?

    And we all know why Wyden will not answer. Something called The Israel Project, of which he's a member, which advises AIPAC.

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      I suggest YOU read it, Mr. Amy. Here is article 47 in full:

      Art. 47. Protected persons who are in occupied territory shall not be deprived, in any case or in any manner whatsoever, of the benefits of the present Convention by any change introduced, as the result of the occupation of a territory, into the institutions or government of the said territory, nor by any agreement concluded between the authorities of the occupied territories and the Occupying Power, nor by any annexation by the latter of the whole or part of the occupied territory.

      In short, Article 47 says, that if you annex territory, you can't alter the fundamental "benefits" of the people who are living there; they are still covered under the convention.

      It does not say you can't annex the territory.

      Now please, go away and quit embarrassing yourself.

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    No, Mr. Maurer, I will not go away, at all, because the passage that I mentioned and that you quoted refers to what is to be guaranteed to those who live under occupation- annexation is completely out of the question as to be totally unallowable. The fact of illegal seizure of property (which happens all the time in the West Bank and East Jerusalem) makes this into an annexation, which is beyond the framework of this document and, therefore, is inherently illegal. And such outrages such as restrictions on freedom of movement would in themselves be a violation of the document.

    Sorry your man Wyden supports this.

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      I "Wyden supports this" then why do you keep asking him?

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      Annexation is "totally unallowable"? Article 47 not only allows it, it presumes it, only placing some safeguards on the practice.

      And no, maintenance of property rights are not included in those safeguards. Again, communists would have never signed a document which said what you think it says. They did not cotton too much to the idea of ownership at all, much less ownership in perpetuity.

      Neither did we, actually. During our occupation of Japan, General MacArthur rather famously took 5.8 million acres of land (about 38% of all of Japan's farmlands) through forcible "purchase" from absentee landlords, and redistributed it to the peasant farmers who actually worked it. Again, not illegal, no matter how much some of the land's previous owners were unhappy with that action.

      So again, let me be blunt, Mr. Amy. You continue to embarrass yourself with your complete ignorance of history, law, and international relations. I'm sure you mean well, but these kinds of conflicts are only solved through politics and negotiations, not in courtrooms - especially not in unaccountable politicized pseudo-"courts" which have no legal or moral standing to address all sorts of thorny issues.

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    @Mitchell Gore: I keep asking him because if Israel could be made to follow international law then this whole conflict could be ended. Even Hamas talks about "hudna", which is an open-ended ceasefire (likely permanent) if the occupation is ended. Provided a poll of Palestinians supports it, which they would, Hamas would support it. And of course the Arab League supports it. Even the USA, both GOP and Dem admins. say they support ending the occupation, along at least some approximation of the 1967 Green Line.

    So, those who preach peace but in reality continue to support the Israeli practice of illegal occupation and annexation must have it thrown in their faces.

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    @Stephen Douglas Maurer: so a document that establishes guidelines for life under occupation somehow presumes annexation? Interesting logic. I thought "occupation" was temporary.

    And I thought resolutions that are passed by the UN Security Council (242 & 338) do indeed, traditionally, carry the weight of international law. At least the USA seems to think so.

    Anyway, you ought to read about the positions taken by your man Wyden and his organization "The Israel Project." Start by googling an article entitled, "Senator Wyden's The Israel Project Attacks Opposition to Settlements" (published by Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights).

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      It doesn't "somehow presume" it. It explicitly states that people are to be protected when it legally happens. This is quite the opposite of what you originally stated, which is that it says that it is illegal.

      As an analogy, your reading of a law that said "police shall not abuse suspects when they confiscate illegal drugs and weapons from them" would be "it is illegal for police to confiscate drugs and weapons from suspects". Sorry. Doesn't work that way.

      In terms of the UN Resolutions 242 and 338, there was some significant word-smithing that was used (Israel was to withdraw from territories, not "all the territories", etc). But I won't bother you with the subtleties of it - given that you clearly interpret things to have the exact opposite meanings to what they actually say when it suits you.

      Finally, I went ahead and read that little screed, about "Ron Wyden's" The Israel Project. Why is it "his project"? Because he, along with 14 other Senators, and another 20+ Congressmen, is on the board of "advisers", not the board of directors. Clearly it's his sole brainchild - through some bizarre thinking.

      I will, however, bring this up to Senator Wyden the next time I see him. He may not be aware of how that group has strayed into a counterproductive pro-settlement position. And I would hope he might nudge them, with a little "advising".

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    And I'll embarrass myself all I want, thank you!

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    @Steven Douglas Maurer: check this link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/mar/07/israel-palestine-eu-report-jerusalem

    From this link: "However, the EU says the Fourth Geneva Convention prevents an occupying power from extending its jurisdiction to occupied territory."

    So, apparently, the legal opinion of the European Union happpens to diverge from that of the great Steven Douglas Maurer. Who would have thunk it?

    And lots of details, too, about the Israeli theft of the property of East Jerusalem.

    And I believe Wyden knows all about what The Israel Project is up to.

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      Only in your own world Mr. Amy, would an anonymously written leaked internal memo be the same thing as a fully vetted legal opinion held by an authorized governing body (speaking for all sovereign nations within that state) that claims jurisdiction over such a dispute.

      Further, "the EU says that" is an entirely unsupported statement in the article you quote, and in fact - is false. Because if it were true that EU government went through all the steps necessary to officially take such a stand, speaking on behalf of all sovereign states that make up the EU, it would be big news indeed, reported internationally, not just as a single phrase in an otherwise unremarkable article. (Just as if the EU took such a formal international position declaring that Tibet is not actually a part of China, which it has not - despite the fact that Tibet was never a threat to China, much less started a war to try to wipe them off the map as the Arabs tried to do with Israel.)

      Again, Mr. Amy, if you search long and hard enough, I'm sure you can find all sorts of half-said or poorly made characterizations of some anonymous person's opinion to support your foregone conclusions on this topic, but at this point you have really become entirely reminiscent of creationists and their similar tactics when faced with overwhelming evidence to the contrary of their position - picking and choosing out of context quotes, pasted together by stubborn belief, and quite frankly, not a small dollop of juvenile anger unbecoming of an adult.

      The worst part about this is that I believe, along with President Obama, that Israel's current course is not good for their long term interests. But such opinions as you hold are only going to keep giving Israel's conservatives an external enemy to rally against, prolonging a just resolution of this issue. So as Jon Stewart always does when some liberal is caught making an ass of themselves, let me hold up a proverbial sign which states: "You're Not Helping".

      I think we're done here as well. After a time, you have to stop arguing with creationists. Facts and logic mean little to them. They know they're right, therefore they are.

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    Okay, then, Mr. Maurer insults me, repeatedly, and then claims that it is I who has been exhibiting anger unbecoming of an adult.

    And, BTW, which war are you referring to, which you say the Arabs started? (Let us find out what your knowledge level is on this...)


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