The Real Lesson of the Palm Springs Trip

By Thomas Crawford of Portland, Oregon. Thomas is a full time student and part-time politics junkie at the University of Puget Sound, where he studies U.S. Politics and Creative Writing. Previously, he contributed "House Democrats Win Big in Independent Party Primary".

It seems that the Oregon House Republicans have returned to the days of the smoke-filled back rooms, where men of power gathered to discuss the course of the country’s leadership in days gone by.

I’m betting that there was significantly more glitter this time around.

In case you missed it, seven Oregon House Republicans recently went to a topless bar while on what amounts to a leadership retreat in Palm Springs .

Many op/eds have been written decrying their behavior, and offering analysis of what it all means. Carla Hanson authored a piece on this blog that argued that this highlighted an Oregon Republican problem with women, and she's not wrong: Republican lawmakers and women have a serious disconnect, but there's more to it than the fact that "GOP female representation is pathetically meager."

Republican lawmakers were staying in a $1 million mansion, lounging on luxury golf courses, and paying to watch strippers in Palm Springs while Oregon homeowners are fighting foreclosures and a rate of 8.4% unemployment. The big disconnect Republicans have is with the middle class, regardless of gender.

These are the same Republicans who have pushed for big tax giveaways for the rich and out of state corporations while cutting schools and other state services.

These are our supposed leaders, who we elect to defend our interests. I sincerely doubt “2-for-1 lap dances” made it on to either party’s platform, so it’s curious that the Republicans would choose to take their leadership retreat in such an opulent setting. Since I highly doubt this trip was intended to be a motivational experience, I would instead call this an abject failure on the part of an Oregon Republican leaders to keep focused on the issues that matter.

We should look at this as a prime example of exactly how out of touch Republicans are with the needs of Oregonians, as well as a barometer for how hard they are working to help their state. Education is underfunded, working wages don’t go as far as they once did, and this boy’s club is off swilling champagne surrounded by topless women. As an Oregon voter, regardless of political affiliation, it’s time for Oregonians to reassess whether or not these members of the House of Representatives actually represent our interests.

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      Carla, you have every right to be pissed off about the condition of public services in east Portland. And I guess it was nice that all those Democratic notables were willing to take a couple of hours for the tour. But, really, there hasn't been a Republican in any position of political power in the City of Portland or Multnomah County for decades, so blaming the GOP for the allocation decisions that were made by the city and county seems pretty far off the mark. It's not Republicans who are making the choices about how the city and county spend their resources; it's the same people who went on the tour and then did absolutely nothing to improve your situation.

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    Who is the owner of the $1 million mansion?

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    Hi Carla,

    Your friends at the City of Portland and Multnomah County have plenty of money for the things they care about--bike lanes, economic development, trains, unfunded pension liabilities, even water flouridation apparently--just no money to pave your streets. There is not an unlimited amount of tax revenues, no matter how high or low rates are. Their job is to make choices, and their choices don't seem to care much about you. If more money "trickled down", it still wouldn't trickle down to east Portland. But feel free to keep on supporting them.

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        Carla, if the Koch Brothers and all the other "bad guys" you lament went away (I'm surprised you didn't name Emmanuel Goldstein too), and the federal and state governments jacked up taxes on the "rich" like you want, and every Republican crawled back into the holes we came from, shut up and paid whatever you told us to pay, I'm pretty sure the streets of east Portland (and every other one-party big city in the land) would still be terrible. And the fact that the politicos who made the trek out there and tut-tutted about how bad it was (and probably never went to a strip club in their life) doesn't change a thing, because you'll keep voting for them no matter what they do.

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          OK, now you are just being silly...

          "Jacked up taxes" - current proposal is to raise marginal rate taxes (above $250k) a whooping 3 1/2 percent from 35.5 to 39% (ie. ending the Bush break on rates above 250k. ALL taxpayers would retain Bush tax breaks for first 250k.)

          Comparison point: Middle class has lost an average of 40% of their wealth since the bust.

          Koch Bros Evil ? Yep, pretty much:

          " Koch Industries, which the brothers own, is one of the top ten polluters in the United States — which perhaps explains why the Kochs have given $60 million to climate denial groups between 1997 and 2010.

          The Kochs are the oil and gas industry’s biggest donors to the congressional committee with oversight of the hazardous Keystone XL oil pipeline. They and their employees gave more than $300,000 to members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in 2010 alone.

          From 1998-2008, Koch-controlled foundations gave more than $196 million to organizations that favor polices that would financially enrich the two brothers. In addition, Koch Industries spent $50 million on lobbying and some $8 million in PAC contributions.

          The Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs accused Koch Oil of scheming to steal $31 million of crude oil from Native Americans. Although the company claimed it was accidental, a former executive in this operation said Charles Koch had known about it and had responded to the overages by saying, “I want my fair share, and that’s all of it.”

          A Huffington Post source who was at a three-day retreat of conservative billionaires said the Koch brothers pledged to donate $60 million to defeat President Obama in 2012 and produce pledges of $40 million more from others at the retreat.

          Since 2000, the Kochs have collected almost $100 million in government contracts, mostly from the Department of Defense.

          Koch Industries has an annual production capacity of 2.2 billion pounds of the carcinogen formaldehyde. The company has worked to keep it from being classified as a carcinogen even though David Koch is a prostate cancer survivor. "

          So, if you prefer I concisely spell it out, the Koch Bros have enuf obscene wealth (est. 50 billion between the both of 'em), to buy the candidates, government and the policies that favor their interests.

          But then, YOU'LL probably keep voting for their boys.

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    Bob Wiggins:

    You are experiencing the functional limit to the adage that you can hone a sharp edge against a dull stone.

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      Carla has responded to Bob with reason and facts. I understand those are difficult concepts for many on the right to deal with, having read many right-wing blogs and listened to talk radio.

      Republican leaders pretend that they care about ordinary folks, but their actions don't match their rhetoric.

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    I pointed out that his actions don't match his rhetoric to my former Rep. Patrick Sheehan one day. I was chatting with him about legalizing marijuana, of course and he said, "Yeah, but I have kids..." And I cut him off and said, "Yeah, but it's not my fault you're too stupid to figure out birth control. You had time to lay down and spread your legs and make a baby, don't tell me pot shouldn't be legal because you are too lazy to teach the child you made your family values. It isn't about "you have kids", it's about "you have a parental responsibility". Teach YOUR kid YOUR values and if you live up to your basic parental responsibility and teach YOUR kid not to do drugs and not to trespass and not to steal, it won't matter how many pot plants I have in my yard, because YOUR kid will know not to do drugs, or steal or trespass, huh?" "Well, I never thought of it that way." "Well maybe you should: family values start at home. You want to tell somebody how to live, start with your own kids."

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