T.A. Barnhart's blog

Background checks hearing: remove the 3-day limit

Did you know: If you submit your background check paperwork to buy a gun and the paperwork isn’t done in three days, you get your gun! What could possibly go wrong?

On Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee will hear a bill (HB 4147) that would remove that three-day time limit, requiring all background checks to be completed before a gun can be legally sold. This is the very definition of “sensible” and “responsible” gun legislation.

If there is a problem with the background check system, the answer isn’t to bypass the system. If legal gun sales are held up because the system isn’t providing background check responses in three days, the system needs to be fixed. Putting the public’s safety on the line is not the right answer.

I don’t know what the extent of the problem is; that’s probably something that will be made clear (or not, depending on who is testifying) at the hearing. But I’m pretty certain it’s not a huge problem or the gun “rights” extremists would be calling for the entire background check system to be dismantled. My assumption is that it’s working fine as it is. And in terms of a system this large, “fine” means “occasional glitches”.

But if it isn’t, hoping that the person who gets their gun without the check being completed isn’t someone who should be denied the permit is too big a risk. The system exists to protect those of us on the other side of the gun. If we require all permits to be completed, even if it takes more than three days because the system isn’t working properly, then we at least have that level of assurance.

The onus isn’t on gun safety advocates to prove that someone whose check doesn’t get done in time will use...

The mind of the evangelical

Here’s some “insider baseball” on being an evangelical Christian, based on my experiences as a young man. Most liberals/progressives have a flawed, incomplete understanding of evangelical ideology; I’d like to help expand that understanding.

Politics was not part of my evangelical experience initially; I grew up a Democrat, voted for Jimmy Carter, and kept my liberal sensibilities throughout. I think it was my grounding in liberalism, passively shared by my mother, that eventually led me to question and then abandon my faith. But i think this could help some of you not familiar with evangelicalism to understand that mindset.

As a born-again Christian, you are taught two things (beyond fundamentals of sin and salvation). One, that because of your faith, the “world” hates you and thinks you are foolish. In fact, you’re taught it’s the world’s beliefs that are foolish because of their sinfulness.

Second, those who hate you because of your faith are going to hell forever. And you, as one of the redeemed, will rule with the Messiah over them for eternity.

In short, to be born-again is to combine self-hatred, paranoia, and narcissism. Fortunately, proof of what you believe is irrelevant: faith is its own justification. Evangelical Christians, of course, are not unique in this mindset; it is common to any binary belief system. Plenty of lefties, in fact, believe in this way, albeit without the “I’m gonna live forever” element.

Humans want to believe they are right, beyond any doubt, because that makes life easier to live.

The world proves to evangelicals, over and over, that these basic tenets are correct: gays, abortion, sex, liberalism in general, hostility from other religions (ignoring Christianity’s historic role in fomenting that hostility), and so on. Add to this a slew of creative interpretations of...

History lesson: Federal lands belong to all U.S. citizens.

Let’s review history.

In 1789, the United States Constitution became, not just the law of the land but the basis for the laws of our land. At that time, there were thirteen states and the “western” territories – i.e., all the land that extended to the “frontier”, the Mississippi River.

in 1803, President Jefferson bought the Louisiana Purchase from France. This vast territory became the property of the federal government.

In 1848, the United States the Oregon Territory was created, following on a series of treaties with Great Britain. Also in 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo led to the U.S. gaining most of the territory that would become California and other states, as well as giving Texas its final border configuration.

And of course there were the smaller additions, like the Gadsden Purchase, and the purchase of Alaska as well as the theft of Hawaii. Every bit of this territory became property of the United States government – of the people of the United States.

Every time the federal government purchased or took new territory, they opened that land to settlers and the railroads. There was not a consistent plan that was followed over the years. At times, settlement was used to determine which territories would be free and which would be slave. Lands granted to the railroads were done in a strange “checkerboard” manner that continues to be a bane for ranchers as well as state and federal land managers.

Eventually, new states were created. By the time of the Civil War, there were 34 states, including California and Oregon on the Pacific coast. The 48 continental states – today’s map of the nation, excluding Alaska and Hawaii – was complted in 1912 with...

Spoiled & armed

I understand: the feds don’t want any martyrs to come out of Harney County. Bloodshed of any kind would be a disaster, and confrontation could easily escalate into gunfire. Some of the out-of-state seditionists at the refuge are itching for a fight, and that’s what the feds do not want to give them.

But I don’t understand why that means they still have electrical power and they get deliveries from FedEx. I don’t understand why they get to meet with the media and plan public events. They are criminals, without question, but apparently a special class of criminal – the kind law enforcement lets set the terms of engagement.

To which I say, Hell no!

I don’t know how much say Gov Kate Brown has in what’s going on, but she needs to pressure the feds to stop treating these guys like honored guests. Senators Wyden and Merkley need to add to that pressure. (Greg Walden, who represents that area in Congress, hasn’t the guts to do anything beyond being mealy-mouthed, but that’s what his Beltway masters pay him for.) Stop letting these thugs act like they’re on vacation at MilitiaWorld.

Cut the power to the site.

Blockade the roads.

No delivery vehicles. No media. Jam their cell phones.

If these guys want to be bad-ass armed “liberators”, they need to act like it. They need to deal with the consequences of committing criminal acts against the federal government, and they need to do it without whining for snacks and socks.

I might have a modicum of respect for these guys if they were acting like Western Men, but they are acting like spoiled thirteen-year-olds. They begin their arguments with “I have lots of guns” and where can reasoned dialogue go from there?...

Frozen Veggie Medley

Let me try to explain what a primary is and why refusing to vote for the other candidate in the general election is the worst possible choice.

Let’s say you have a family of ten people, and they are deciding what to do about dinner. Five of them want burgers; four of them want chicken. These nine are at an impasse, and the tie-breaker goes to Mom who has promised to make her “Frozen Veggie Medley with Cream of Mushroom Soup” along with “Extreme Jello Suprise” for dessert.

No one wants “Frozen Veggie Medley” but if they can’t come to an agreement, then dinner is going to be a nasty affair for everyone but Mom who has been in a very pissy mood of late. Either the four accept burgers – the majority vote – or they can either sulk dinnerlessly or inflict Dinner Hell on everyone.

Ok, not a perfect analogy, but I hope the intent comes through: Hillary or Bernie – or Trump?

A primary is where voters affiliated with a political party select the person they want to be their candidate for office. Because a primary is contested, voters won’t agree with one another. Duh. Many voters will be glad to vote for the winner even if their candidate lost in the primary. They understand that, all differences aside, their party’s nominee is a better choice than the other party’s. They may be disappointed their candidate lost, but they’re willing to suck it up and vote for the person they felt was second-best.

This doesn’t always happen, of course. In some cases, the division between primary opponents, not to mention their supporters, is stark. A campaign can get nasty. For a number of reasons, some supporters may feel resentful, angry,...

How not to do public participation

Engagement. Activism. Citizenship. Great words; hard to put into practice, as we know. In most elections, a majority of voters don’t bother. And when it comes to the on-going work of government, ever fewer Americans get involved.

Here’s one good reason why. This was submitted to Nextdoor.com, my “Mill Park” version (you sign up for your particular neighborhood). An invitation to participate in an important decision the City of Portland will be making. Here’s the web post (see image for screenshot):

Public hearings on draft 2035 Comprehensive Plan begin this week!
4h ago
Community Service Aid Chaise Jonsen from City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

City Council will hold first hearing on Thursday, November 19. 

2 – 3 p.m.: Testimony will be taken on the Economic Opportunity Analysis, Growth Scenarios Report and other supporting documents. 
3 – 6 p.m.: Testimony will be taken on the Recommended Draft Comprehensive Plan. 

You must sign up to testify. Testimony sign-up sheets will be available one hour before the start of each hearing. 

Additional public hearings are scheduled for Thursday, December 3 and 10. Please check the City Council agenda to confirm dates, times and locations for all hearings.

Shared with all areas in City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability in General

So many problems here; so many barriers to public understanding, much less participation. Let’s start at the top.

“draft 2035 Comprehensive Plan”.

Thank you and good night. Who the hell is going to come within 20 feet of this other than a policy wonk or an insomniac looking for any relief? What a great way to drive away 99.9% of Portlanders: name this event in a way that scares holy hell out of them.

But even if you...

Blood money update

A few days ago, I posted an article on BlueOregon.com stating that I thought Democrats in the Oregon Legislature should not only take no money from gun groups but should donate what they had received to funds set up for victims of shootings. Two outcomes.

One, someone organized gunnists to comment-bomb the post. Which they did. About thirty people commented, few if any of them BlueOregon regulars, not to mention a number from out-of-state. The comments were predictable, a hodge-podge of talking points and nastiness. No actual threats since BlueOregon requires a legitimate login via Facebook. Comical more than anything else.

Second, and disappointing, almost no response from Dems on the proposal itself. One person, and he said he was fine with NRA money being diverted from other campaigns and purposes. As if the NRA has any shortage of funds. I've shared the post a couple of times on Facebook, to a deafening silence. What should I take from that?

Should I accept that Democrats in the community aren't bothered by their electeds in the Leg taking money from gun groups? Or that I'm the only one who thinks this is a problem? It's not like Dems have a shortage of money or that gun money is a large part of their coffers. But I'm a fervent believer in the power of symbolism. And to me, Democratic lawmakers taking any money from organizations that oppose common sense gun safety laws is absolutely wrong.

I intend to keep pushing this until I get more of a response than I have so far (which is limited to one member of the House privately chastising me for attacking colleagues, which I did not do). (Well, yes, Jeff Barker, but he's someone I couldn't support for a number of reasons, not merely the money...

No more blood money for Dems

Politicians not only take money from the NRA, they kowtow to that organization’s demands in fear. I don’t expect any amount of bloodshed will change this behavior with Republicans, but Democrats have to do better. They not only need to refuse money from extremist organizations like the NRA, Oregon Firearms Federation (OFF) and Oregon Gun Owners (OGO); they need to return what they’ve already received.

Or even better, donate that money to funds for the victims of the violence made possible by the gun manufacturers and their lobbyists. It will still be blood money but perhaps it can be purified somewhat by helping those harmed so terribly, and needlessly, by gun violence.

Lucero Alcaraz, 19Lucas Eibel, 18Rebecka Carnes, 18

In the big picture of Oregon’s piss-poor campaign finance laws, the money donated by the extremist gun organizations isn’t that large: $25,550 donated to 16 Democratic legislators since 2008 by the NRA, OFF and OGO. Former House Majority Leader Val Hoyle received $1,500 from these groups between 2010 and 2014; in contrast, she raised over $133,000 in 2014 alone. The $250 she accepted from the NRA had no impact on her decision to support the background checks bill (SB 941) with everything she had.

Which begs the question: why take it? It’s blood money, pure and simple, and Democrats need to wash their hands of this money, accepting no more and donating what they have received to those harmed by gun violence.

No Democrat takes more gun money the Rep Jeff Barker. His reputation of being “tough on crime” and his position as Chair of the House Judiciary Committee,...

Martin O'Malley - my current "ABH"

martin o'malley is challenging hillary clinton from the progressive left for the democratic presidential nominationI want to vote for someone – some Democrat – other than Hillary Clinton. Like many, I'd love to see Elizabeth Warren run; I also want her to have a long, influential career in the U.S. Senate. I believe she's going to pick the latter option, so the question is: who can challenge Hillary? (The question for some, of course, is: who can seriously challenge Hillary?)

I think Martin O'Malley, the former governor of Maryland and mayor of Baltimore is a serious challenger. I see him like Howard Dean twelve years ago, but with more familiarity with "big time" politics. O'Malley is taking advantage of Warren's refusal to run by adopting her stance on the issues. I think he agrees with her on the issues and is riding in her wake, so to speak. She created the space for a Democrat to challenge Hillary's presumed assumption, and O'Malley's the one who has stepped up.

And now he's starting to get the kind of media coverage that can convert a long, long shot into a, well, not necessarily a contender (yet) but someone to take seriously. This article from TownHall.com is a good introduction to O'Malley. If you also want to at least consider other Democratic candidates and not just accept the inevitability of HRC, here's a good place to start to learn about the former Governor. He's more liberal than Hillary, and he is probably just as electable when it comes to running against the GOP clown show....


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