HERE’S WHY I READ THE WALL STREET JOURNAL AND THE WASHINGTON POST EVERY DAY

PERSPECTIVE FROM THE 19TH HOLE:  This is the title I chose for my personal blog, which is meant to give me an outlet for one of my favorite crafts – writing – plus to use an image from my favorite sport, golf.  Out of college, my first job was as a reporter for the Daily Astorian in Astoria, Oregon, and I went on from there to practice writing in all of my professional positions, including as press secretary in Washington, D.C. for a Democrat Congressman from Oregon (Les AuCoin), as an Oregon state government manager in Salem and Portland, as press secretary for Oregon’s last Republican governor (Vic Atiyeh), and as a private sector lobbyist.  This blog also allows me to link another favorite pastime – politics and the art of developing public policy – to what I write.  I could have called this blog “Middle Ground,” for that it what I long for in both politics and golf.  The middle ground is often where the best public policy decisions like.  And it is where you want to be on a golf course.

There are at least three reasons for the commitment in the headline:

  • In the Wall Street Journal, I get a center-right perspective on the days’ news, especially in politics.
  • In the Washington Post, I get a center-left perspective.
  • And, in both, I get solid journalism.

Nowhere was this comparison more evident than this morning when both outlets commented on Senator Kamala Harris as the choice running mate for Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Here are excerpts:

FROM WALL STREET JOURNAL

“In choosing Kamala Harris as his running mate on Tuesday, Joe Biden checked the essential boxes his party had demanded—a woman, a minority, and a progressive who has moved left as the Democratic Party has. We’ll see how the California Senator plays in the swing-state suburbs that Biden needs to defeat President Trump.

“Biden’s choice is especially important because he would be the oldest President on Inauguration Day at age 78.  The actuarial tables and his declining mental acuity suggest he wouldn’t run for re-election, assuming he lasts a full term.  Americans who have watched Biden on the campaign trail—and the way his advisers protect him from media questioning—are smart enough to know that in voting for Biden they’re also voting for his running mate as a likely President.

Harris is most appealing as an example of American upward mobility, especially for immigrants. Her father is a Jamaican-born Stanford economist. Her Indian-born mother was a breast cancer researcher at the University of California, Berkeley.

“Biden may have backed himself into the corner of having to choose Harris.  He limited his choices by promising to select a woman, and the black Democrats who saved him in South Carolina pressed for a black woman.  Then the Sanders wing pressed for a progressive, and Ms. Harris is a safer choice by far than Elizabeth Warren.

“In this sense the choice is revealing about the unusual nature of Biden’s candidacy. He won the nomination as the last-ditch, anti-Trump alternative to what would have been the suicidal selection of Bernie Sanders. More than any recent nominee, Biden is a party figurehead, more than a party leader.  In adding Harris to the ticket, he has underscored that a vote for Biden isn’t merely a vote to oust Trump. It’s a vote for the coastal progressives who now dominate the Democratic Party.”

FROM THE WASHINGTON POST

“From the moment former vice president Joe Biden became the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee for president, one qualification has loomed as most important for his running mate: that she or he be prepared to serve as president. Senator Kamala Harris, the California Democrat whom Biden announced Tuesday as his selection, meets that test.

“Of course, in theory, that should always be the primary consideration for a vice president.  Too often, though, candidates have been more influenced by electoral college arithmetic.  There’s good reason to think that Harris, a gifted politician, can help lift the ticket, but California is not a state where Biden needs help.

“At 78, though, he would be far and away the oldest person to be sworn in as president, and demographic reality dictated a choice of someone who could plausibly step in.

“Harris is such a person.  She has been elected statewide three times in the nation’s most populous state.  As California attorney general, running what amounts to a parallel Justice Department, she earned executive experience and respect for her savvy and administrative skill.  As senator, she gained Washington experience.  And as presidential candidate last year and this, she faced the pressures of the campaign trail and the debate stage.

“It is a plus for the nation that the qualified person whom Biden settled on, after a fairly lengthy process, is also a woman, as he had promised, and a woman of color, the daughter of a mother from India and a father from Jamaica. Identifying as an African American, she would be the first woman and the first Black woman to serve as president or vice president. It is about time.

“Running to replace a president who has celebrated incompetence and elevated incompetents, Biden needed to choose a running mate who respects public service and has served well. I n Harris, he has found such a partner.”

See!  That’s why I read both.

And, my view?  With these editorials in mind, it is that Harris was not safest or conventional choice – she was the best choice.  And I hope she helps Biden do what he must do for the future of the country – beat the worst U.S. president in history, Donald Trump.

PUBLIC POLICY NEGOTIATING HAS FALLEN ON ITS FACE; THERE IS AN ALTERNATIVE

PERSPECTIVE FROM THE 19TH HOLE:  This is the title I chose for my personal blog, which is meant to give me an outlet for one of my favorite crafts – writing – plus to use an image from my favorite sport, golf.  Out of college, my first job was as a reporter for the Daily Astorian in Astoria, Oregon, and I went on from there to practice writing in all of my professional positions, including as press secretary in Washington, D.C. for a Democrat Congressman from Oregon (Les AuCoin), as an Oregon state government manager in Salem and Portland, as press secretary for Oregon’s last Republican governor (Vic Atiyeh), and as a private sector lobbyist.  This blog also allows me to link another favorite pastime – politics and the art of developing public policy – to what I write.  I could have called this blog “Middle Ground,” for that it what I long for in both politics and golf.  The middle ground is often where the best public policy decisions like.  And it is where you want to be on a golf course.

[Note:  This a going to be as lengthy blog because, given current event, the subject deserves full exploration.]

 To state the obvious, I am not sitting at the negotiating table as Members of Congress and the Trump Administration try to hammer out a deal on the next of virus relief, if, in fact, they are still negotiating.

I write the word “try.”

Because they have failed.

So, Trump has signed executive orders extending unemployment benefits, stalling evictions and, on top of both, stopping payroll taxes from being placed on employees.  All of the actions may not be legal.

Perhaps taking unilateral executive action was what he wanted to do all along so he could try to get credit.  He wasn’t at the negotiating table, leaving the task to his staff.  And there is little doubt but that he will turn a deaf ear to pleas from organizations such as the Washington Post to avoid just settling for his executive actions.

Who knows what will happen next, even as the Post’s economic columnist Robert Samuelson says, “admit it, we are in a pandemic depression?”

At the same time and over time, Trump has depicted himself as a supreme negotiator, which, in his lexicon, if he has one, is that he always gets his way in what he calls “the art of the deal.”

Given the public policy negotiations I went through during my experience in and around Oregon state government for more than 40 years – including, for example, when I spoke for state management during two state employee strikes – several key credentials in negotiating stand out to me.  I list them in this blog.

First, however, I asked a business consultant friend of mine about the principles he would advise in negotiations.  On the fly one morning, he provided this solid list:

  • A WILLINGNESS to reach a decision that satisfies both your needs AND the needs of the other party. Call it a compromise.
  • SEEK TO UNDERSTAND the real needs of the other party.
  • LETTING GO – are you willing to create the negotiating “starting point” with the other party without just asserting your own perspective above all else?
  • ESTABLISH COMMON GROUND early so you can focus on areas of disagreement.
  • EXHIBIT AUTHENTICITY – be willing to back up and admit uncertainties over arguments you may not understand.
  • PROVIDE THE “WHY” OF YOUR PERSPECTIVE, NOT JUST THE “WHAT”
  • BE READY TO DISAGREE without putting the other side down.

To this, I would add:

  • Bring credible relationships to negotiations, which assumes you have such relationships.
  • Operate with an ethic that “your word is your bond,” and, during negotiations, because you no doubt will have to change your position, take initiative to explain that change because doing so will add to your credibility.
  • If winning is setting out to denigrate the other side, then that is not real negotiating.
  • Giving and getting is part of the process, so work hard to find what I call the “smart middle,” which means be open to compromise.

Let me cite just one example of how negotiations worked well in my past service as a lobbyist.

In 1997, voters passed an initiative at the polls, making Oregon the first state in the country to allow assisted suicide.  That was a problem for my firm’s client, Providence Health & Services, the state’s largest health care provider which was affiliated with the Catholic Church.

As Providence’s lobbyist, following up on instructions from my client, I set out to advocate for a “conscience clause” to enable Providence to avoid having to engage in a practice it considered unethical.

That set up a negotiation over such a clause with various interests at the table, including me for Providence and a representative of Oregon Right to Die, the prime advocate for assisted suicide.

Through often intense negotiations, Providence and other religiously-affiliated organizations won the right to prevent assisted suicide from being performed (1) on their grounds, (2) by their employees or (3) by contractors within the course and scope of their contracts.

In return, Providence had to agree to refer patients who wanted assisted suicide services out to an accredited provider.  I put the word “refer” in bold fafce because it was a deal that went down hard.

To a Catholic, “agentry” (in this case, referral) is just as bad as the deed itself.  So, the Catholic Conference opposed the compromise.  Providence, as a health care system affiliated with, but not owned by, the Catholic Church advocated for the deal, and it was approved.

The result was a solid negotiation that produced an agreement no one viewed as perfect, but which was an acceptable addition to Oregon law.

One hopes parties in the Nation’s Capitol would find the same kind of wherewithal as they deal with the pandemic crisis.

A SIGN OF THE TIMES

PERSPECTIVE FROM THE 19TH HOLE:  This is the title I chose for my personal blog, which is meant to give me an outlet for one of my favorite crafts – writing – plus to use an image from my favorite sport, golf.  Out of college, my first job was as a reporter for the Daily Astorian in Astoria, Oregon, and I went on from there to practice writing in all of my professional positions, including as press secretary in Washington, D.C. for a Democrat Congressman from Oregon (Les AuCoin), as an Oregon state government manager in Salem and Portland, as press secretary for Oregon’s last Republican governor (Vic Atiyeh), and as a private sector lobbyist.  This blog also allows me to link another favorite pastime – politics and the art of developing public policy – to what I write.  I could have called this blog “Middle Ground,” for that it what I long for in both politics and golf.  The middle ground is often where the best public policy decisions like.  And it is where you want to be on a golf course.

Given my background in journalism, I always have been a person who wanted to get his hands dirty reading a real newspaper.

But in the last few years, something has happened.

I have taken to reading newspapers on-line. 

An incredible change for me, one I never would have predicted years ago with ink-stained hands.

Why the change?

It’s easy to read newspapers on line –= newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and, yes, even the Oregonian, now only a faint example of its stronger past.

To this, I add that I read Oregon Public Broadcasting and Salem Reporter news on-line because both offer quality journalism.

All of this just indicates, I guess, that, as you age, stuff changes.

THINGS I THINK ABOUT WHEN I HAVE TOO MUCH TIME ON MY HANDS

PERSPECTIVE FROM THE 19TH HOLE:  This is the title I chose for my personal blog, which is meant to give me an outlet for one of my favorite crafts – writing – plus to use an image from my favorite sport, golf.  Out of college, my first job was as a reporter for the Daily Astorian in Astoria, Oregon, and I went on from there to practice writing in all of my professional positions, including as press secretary in Washington, D.C. for a Democrat Congressman from Oregon (Les AuCoin), as an Oregon state government manager in Salem and Portland, as press secretary for Oregon’s last Republican governor (Vic Atiyeh), and as a private sector lobbyist.  This blog also allows me to link another favorite pastime – politics and the art of developing public policy – to what I write.  I could have called this blog “Middle Ground,” for that it what I long for in both politics and golf.  The middle ground is often where the best public policy decisions like.  And it is where you want to be on a golf course.

In retirement, amplified by the Coronavirus, I have a lot of time on my hands.  Some of it is spent in the car heading to Oregon Golf Association tournaments to the north.

So, without commending my thoughts as being worth considering, here some of my random impressions.

ANOTHER GOLF RULES QUESTION THIS TIME FROM FRIEND JEFF GLODT:  My friend is a good golfer, but he and I could not agree the other day on this golf rules issue:  If your golf ball is off the green, but close to the green, are you allowed to fix a divot off the green that might be in your line of play?  The answer is, I think, no.

But, more specifically, does the rule distinguish between a divot your golf ball has made or one made by another player’s golf ball…if you, in fact, you can tell the difference?

See, I told you – these are major issues facing all of us these days!

IMPEACHMENT STUFF:  Washington Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt asked a probing question earlier this week.

Given that President Donald Trump barely escaped an impeachment earlier this year, has the experience chastened him?

Here’s how Hiatt wrote about the issue:

“President Trump’s contempt for the Constitution is deepening at an accelerating pace.

“How can I tell?

“In a June 28 column, I updated the articles of impeachment, imagining as a thought experiment that the Senate had postponed action at the beginning of the year rather than voting to acquit. Based on Trump’s behavior in the intervening five months and what we had learned of his earlier actions, I argued that at least four new articles were warranted.

“Now, only four weeks later, there’s enough misbehavior to lengthen the indictment just as much again.

“To be clear:  I am not suggesting that the House should again impeach the president. It’s up to the voters to render judgment, and we will have our chance soon enough.

“But the thought experiment is valuable as a measure of whether Trump was chastened by becoming only the third president in history to be impeached, as some Republican senators assured us he would be — and as a warning of what we might expect if he is returned to office for a second term.”

Trump chastened?  No.  Such a natur4al human thought clearly is beyond him.

THE WORD CORNERSTONE:  In a LiveStream service held by our church, Salem Alliance, in Salem Oregon, the lyrics of this song struck a chord with me – actually two chords:

My hope is built on nothing less

Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness

I dare not trust the sweetest frame

But holly trust is Jesus’ name

 

Christ alone, Cornerstone

Weak made strong in the Savior’s love

Through the storm

He is Lord

Lord of all

The first chord is that Christ is the cornerstone of our lives, a strong foundation that that allows us to build well.

The second may seem strange, given the first one – and, of course, it is far less significant.   It is that Cornerstone Communications would have been a good name for the public relations and lobbying firm two partners and I started more than 25 years ago.

We considered various names, then settled on using our own names – Conkling Fiskum @ McCormick, which grew to become just the initials, CFM.  One of my partners suggested calling our new firm The Talisman Group, but we rejected that suggestion, if only because we wanted to emphasize hard work and results, not some kind of magic.

Had I thought of Cornerstone Communications 25-plus years ago, it likely would have made the final cut in choosing a name.

ABOUT TRUMP

PERSPECTIVE FROM THE 19TH HOLE:  This is the title I chose for my personal blog, which is meant to give me an outlet for one of my favorite crafts – writing – plus to use an image from my favorite sport, golf.  Out of college, my first job was as a reporter for the Daily Astorian in Astoria, Oregon, and I went on from there to practice writing in all of my professional positions, including as press secretary in Washington, D.C. for a Democrat Congressman from Oregon (Les AuCoin), as an Oregon state government manager in Salem and Portland, as press secretary for Oregon’s last Republican governor (Vic Atiyeh), and as a private sector lobbyist.  This blog also allows me to link another favorite pastime – politics and the art of developing public policy – to what I write.  I could have called this blog “Middle Ground,” for that it what I long for in both politics and golf.  The middle ground is often where the best public policy decisions like.  And it is where you want to be on a golf course.

He’s unethical.

He’s immoral.

He’s a liar.

He’s a cheater.

He’s a fake.

He’s a narcissist who sacrifices the well-being of the country for his own self.

And, incredibly, he’s the president of the United States of America.

And, now he wants to delay the election.  Guess why?  He’ll lose.\

Enough said!

 

THOUGHTS ON CAPITALIZING THE LETTER “B” IN THE WORD “BLACK”

PERSPECTIVE FROM THE 19TH HOLE:  This is the title I chose for my personal blog, which is meant to give me an outlet for one of my favorite crafts – writing – plus to use an image from my favorite sport, golf.  Out of college, my first job was as a reporter for the Daily Astorian in Astoria, Oregon, and I went on from there to practice writing in all of my professional positions, including as press secretary in Washington, D.C. for a Democrat Congressman from Oregon (Les AuCoin), as an Oregon state government manager in Salem and Portland, as press secretary for Oregon’s last Republican governor (Vic Atiyeh), and as a private sector lobbyist.  This blog also allows me to link another favorite pastime – politics and the art of developing public policy – to what I write.  I could have called this blog “Middle Ground,” for that it what I long for in both politics and golf.  The middle ground is often where the best public policy decisions like.  And it is where you want to be on a golf course.

Washington Post editor Fred Hiatt asked the following question in a piece that ran on-line this morning:

How much controversy can there be about whether to capitalize the first letter in a word?

In the case of word black/Black, the answer is a lot.

Those who favor capitalizing the word could believe that doing so underlines the importance of recognizing racism, even subtle racism, and doing something about it.

Those who oppose capitalizing the word could believe it is not worth the time and energy around such a minute, irrelevant  detail, including that many of these individuals could believe racism is an overblown issue in today’s society.

Further, there is also an issue about whether the word “white/White” should be capitalized if the word Black is.

Here is how the editor Hiatt framed the issue in his column today:

“The social justice movement that gained force in the wake of George Floyd’s brutal killing under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer has spurred calls to start capitalizing the word “Black.” Many news organizations have shifted their style; The Post is considering the question.

“But if you capitalize ‘Black,’ what about ‘white’?  A capital W can evoke the odious writings of white supremacists, so many people resist that change.

“Historian Nell Irvin Painter did, too, at first — but she has reconsidered while also cautioning: “One way of re-making race is through spelling — using or not using capital letters. A more potent way, of course, is through behavior.”

Painter is right.  The most potent way to express anti-racism is through improved behavior, not through just spelling.

Still, as a former journalist – someone who followed elements of writing style throughout my professional career – spelling, including capitalization, is important, at least to me.

So, here are excerpts from the Painter essay that appeared in the Washington Post:

“Restructuring policing in ways that matter will take years, and many more Confederate monuments remain standing than have come down. But in these past few earth-shaking months, one change has advanced with startling speed:  All this social upheaval has suddenly and widely restored a capital B to the word ‘Black.’

“I say ‘restored,’ because that capital B appeared in the 1970s.  I used it myself.  Then, editors, uncomfortable with both the odd combination of uppercase ‘Black’ and lowercase ‘white,’ and the unfamiliar, bumpy ‘Black and White,’ took off both capital letters. ‘Black’ returned to ‘black.’

“In the wake of massive George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests, however, media outlets and journalist associations are re-embracing the capital B.  The Associated Press, New York Times, Los Angeles Times and many others took the step. (The Post has said it is considering the change.)

“Even Fox News joined the crowd. The most common motive can be summed up as respect. To many, the case for capitalizing ‘Black’ seemed obvious, whether as an ethnicity or a racial designation.”

But, Painter asks, what about “white”?

He adds:  “My initial thinking:  When I compare the cultural, intellectual and historical heft of the three categories, ‘Black’ comes out well ahead of ‘white’ and ‘brown.’  We have whole libraries of books and articles about ‘Blackness,’ world-beating traditions of music and literature, even entire academic departments 30 to 50 years old specializing in African American/black studies.

“Compared with blackness, whiteness and brownness are severely under-theorized.”

So, if this issue is important to me, what would I favor?

If it were up to me as king for a day, I would favor capitalizing any color – White, BlacK, Brown or any other – that referred to a race of people.

It is simply one small thing I can do to express my commitment that all races are equal, including and especially in the eyes of God.

If, by such action, someone were to believe that I was expressing something more profound about racism than just capitalization, so be it.

Also, in the end, the essayist Painter has the best point, this:  The most potent way to express commitment to equality is through behavior.

TRUMP, THE KING OF LIES

PERSPECTIVE FROM THE 19TH HOLE:  This is the title I chose for my personal blog, which is meant to give me an outlet for one of my favorite crafts – writing – plus to use an image from my favorite sport, golf.  Out of college, my first job was as a reporter for the Daily Astorian in Astoria, Oregon, and I went on from there to practice writing in all of my professional positions, including as press secretary in Washington, D.C. for a Democrat Congressman from Oregon (Les AuCoin), as an Oregon state government manager in Salem and Portland, as press secretary for Oregon’s last Republican governor (Vic Atiyeh), and as a private sector lobbyist.  This blog also allows me to link another favorite pastime – politics and the art of developing public policy – to what I write.  I could have called this blog “Middle Ground,” for that it what I long for in both politics and golf.  The middle ground is often where the best public policy decisions like.  And it is where you want to be on a golf course.

I was toying this morning with what to write in a new blog post – or whether to write anything at all.

Then, as fate would have it, I read a column in the Washington Post  by one of its opinion writers, Michael Gerson.

He has credentials for his task.  He is the author of “Heroic Conservatism” (HarperOne, 2007) and co-author of “City of Man: Religion and Politics in a New Era” (Moody, 2010).  He appears regularly on the “PBS NewsHour,” “Face the Nation” and other programs.

Gerson serves as senior adviser at One, a bi-partisan organization dedicated to the fight against extreme poverty and preventable diseases.

Until 2006, Gerson was a top aide to President George W. Bush as assistant to the president for policy and strategic planning.  Prior to that appointment, he served in the White House as deputy assistant to the president and director of presidential speechwriting and assistant to the president for speechwriting and policy adviser.

So, it should come as no big surprise that I chose, instead of writing something myself, to post Gerson’s excellent column as he skewers President Donald Trump.

Here’s the column.

President Trump, who constantly and falsely claims superlative achievements in every field of human endeavor, has every right to one historical claim: He is the king of lies. Trump’s presidency has offered up an endless Las Vegas buffet of completely shameless, sometimes laughable, often malicious, always self-serving falsehoods.

Among the most relentless chroniclers of this record have been The Post’s Fact Checker staff: Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo, Meg Kelly and Sarah Cahlan. Their use of a Pinocchio scale to rate the truthfulness of political statements has become a Washington tradition. Its application is meticulously bipartisan. But for the past five or so years, Trump has been the predominant source of content. Now the president’s prodigious Pinocchios have been gathered into a thick volume, “Donald Trump and His Assault on Truth.”

The authors present not just a paper trail but an avalanche of confirmation for their thesis. They recount Trump’s deceptions about his academic career, his business accomplishments, his enemies, his achievements, his sex and corruption scandals. There are lies that might amuse you (like his false claim to be a Swede), or appall you (like his revision of a National Weather Service map to justify a false claim), or anger you (like his slanders against John McCain, former FBI director James B. Comey and former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III), or frighten you (like his invented claims of electoral fraud).

There is a kind of truth shading that normally attends politics. And when a public official intends to deceive, journalists sometimes debate whether to term this a “lie,” or whether to call its author a “liar.” We are far past this point with Trump. This is not a case of omitting inconvenient truths. It is deception as a lifestyle choice. It is compulsive violation of the Ninth Commandment. The president is a bold, intentional liar, by any moral definition. A habitual liar. A blatant liar. An instinctual liar. A reckless liar. An ignorant liar. A pathological liar. A hopeless liar. A gratuitous liar. A malevolent liar.

Trump fans may support him despite his lies. They may support him because he lies. But they cannot deny that he is a liar. That is the definition of a being a delusional, partisan crackpot.

The systematic presentation of the president’s deceptions serves an important public purpose. With Trump, these are not regrettable exceptions. The lies are the shape of the man. Their composite reveals a type of truth about his goals and character.

Why does lying really matter? There are, of course, compelling moral reasons. Lies exploit and abuse the trust of those around us. They sever relationships. They poison love.

But there are also practical and compelling civic reasons that truth makes a difference. As the pandemic has shown, we need reliable information to make rational, healthy choices. Deceptive optimism, distrust of experts and the circulation of myths have a human cost — measured in lost lives and delayed national recovery.

More broadly, Trump engages in a particularly ambitious form of political deception. With the help of a compliant right-wing media, he uses repeated falsehoods and conspiracy thinking to create an alternative mental universe for his strongest supporters to dwell in.

Trump’s lies purposely and effectively disconnect a portion of the public from political reality. In this manufactured world, the United States is on the edge of ruin by scheming subversives. Political opponents are not fellow citizens but traitors plotting against the country. Political dialogue and shared democratic purpose become almost impossible. Such distortions are the dangerous culmination of polarization — the polarization of truth itself.

Trump’s lies are especially destructive because they are often designed to encourage dehumanization. Immigrants and outsiders are frequent targets. When he falsely charges some American Muslims with celebrating after the attacks of 9/11, or falsely accuses Mexican migrants of a disposition toward rape and violence, Trump is harnessing falsehood in the cause of bigotry. These are slanders against whole religions and ethnicities. In politics, there is often a tie between deception and malice. Lies are particularly useful in the manipulation of fear.

Reading “Donald Trump and His Assault on Truth” is an exercise in civic awareness. This is what happens when a great many Americans ignore character and dismiss deception. We can’t expect our leaders to be perfect men and women.

But we have every right and reason to demand that they are honest and decent. Fortunately, an election result, like a lie, can be corrected.

 

ANOTHER “WORDS MATTER” POST

PERSPECTIVE FROM THE 19TH HOLE:  This is the title I chose for my personal blog, which is meant to give me an outlet for one of my favorite crafts – writing – plus to use an image from my favorite sport, golf.  Out of college, my first job was as a reporter for the Daily Astorian in Astoria, Oregon, and I went on from there to practice writing in all of my professional positions, including as press secretary in Washington, D.C. for a Democrat Congressman from Oregon (Les AuCoin), as an Oregon state government manager in Salem and Portland, as press secretary for Oregon’s last Republican governor (Vic Atiyeh), and as a private sector lobbyist.  This blog also allows me to link another favorite pastime – politics and the art of developing public policy – to what I write.  I could have called this blog “Middle Ground,” for that it what I long for in both politics and golf.  The middle ground is often where the best public policy decisions like.  And it is where you want to be on a golf course.

I have always thought there were three kinds of people in this world – those who like numbers, those who like charts and graphs, and those who like words.

Of course, there is crossover among those categories.

But, put me in the “I like words” camp.

So it is that, in this blog, I write about one of my favorite subjects – words.

First, consider the word “sanction.”  It has two meanings – and they are the reverse of each other.

According to the dictionary, the word sanction means:

  • Permission or approval, as for an action.
  • Supporting an action, condition, something that gives binding force, as to an oath, rule of conduct.

So, if you are sanctioned, it could mean that the person doing the sanctioning intends to give you permission for an action.  Or, it could mean you are being punished for an action.

Strange this English language.

Second, consider the word “admit.”

When I was a journalist in my past, I always was cautious about the use of the word because I thought it could contain some hidden meanings.

If, for example, I was quoting a local official in Astoria, Oregon where I worked for the Daily Astorian newspaper, I could write this:  “The member of the City Council admitted he misunderstood the specifics of the issue before the Council.”

Probably would been better to write, “The member of the City Council said…”

The word “said” is more neutral.  The word “admitted” suggests he agreed he was guilty of something.

Clearly, all of this means more in today’s journalism when bigger issues are at stake than a relatively small matter before a local city council.

But, in this case – and others – words matter.

Finally, the following is list of word-phrases that I drew on during my 40-year career in government, including 25 years as a “lobbyist” – a word, frankly, that can carry negative connotations these days — but, I add, not for me.

Here are the phrases:

  • Legislators behaved as if they were in a “circular firing squad”
  • Legislators often portrayed this strategy – “ready, shoot, aim”
  • The bad bill was like “a camel’s nose under the tent”
  • Or, the bad bill was “the first step down a slippery slope”
  • There often is a truth in lobbying – “what goes around comes around,” which means that most single issues are related to other issues so keep your powder dry
  • And, I say with an appropriate does of modesty, one of my credentials as a lobbyist was “your word is your bond”

See, now you know – words matter!

GOLF RULES FIASCO HAPPENS AGAIN

PERSPECTIVE FROM THE 19TH HOLE:  This is the title I chose for my personal blog, which is meant to give me an outlet for one of my favorite crafts – writing – plus to use an image from my favorite sport, golf.  Out of college, my first job was as a reporter for the Daily Astorian in Astoria, Oregon, and I went on from there to practice writing in all of my professional positions, including as press secretary in Washington, D.C. for a Democrat Congressman from Oregon (Les AuCoin), as an Oregon state government manager in Salem and Portland, as press secretary for Oregon’s last Republican governor (Vic Atiyeh), and as a private sector lobbyist.  This blog also allows me to link another favorite pastime – politics and the art of developing public policy – to what I write.  I could have called this blog “Middle Ground,” for that it what I long for in both politics and golf.  The middle ground is often where the best public policy decisions like.  And it is where you want to be on a golf course.

There was another golf rules fiasco in a pro tournament last weekend.

It’s too bad because such issues can take away from well-played golf as happened on the  Jack Nicklaus famed Memorial Golf Course in Dublin, Ohio.

This time the situation dealt with an issue that I thought had been solved a couple years ago.  It was this:  Should television video coverage which happens to spot a potential rules violation be used to issue a final ruling?

My answer is no.

And I thought the TV stuff had been removed totally.

Not so.

In this situation, the leading golfer in the Memorial Tournament, Jon Rahm, had a shot from the rough just over the 16th green as he headed toward the finish line.

The TV camera took a close-up as he addressed the golf ball.  To me and no doubt many other viewers, it looked like the ball could have moved, though it was in deep grass.  To my eye, though, the word “moved” is wrong: the ball oscillated, but it appeared to stay in its original position.  Further, Rahm did not improve his lie.

About two years ago, the USGA and R&A put in place two rules — known as Decision 34-3/10 – supposedly to stop television and viewers from having a role in calling golf penalties.

Under the rules, a player would not be penalized:

  • When video evidence reveals things that could not reasonably be seen with the naked eye, and
  • When a player has made a reasonable judgment about a golf rules situation.

After what happened to Ladies Professional Golf Association player Lexi Thompson two years ago at the ANA Inspiration tournament in the California desert, those in charge felt something had to be done.  Thompson was penalized four strokes during her final round because a viewer at home e-mailed in about Thompson mis-replacing her ball on the green in the third round.

Video evidence did seem to show that Thompson put her ball in a space other than where her marker was (by a short distance), and Thompson was hit with two penalty strokes for the incident and two for signing an incorrect card.  Infamously, she was assessed those penalties in the middle of her final round.

That was just the latest in a long list of viewer call-ins and emails. One of the most famous ones happened during the 2013 Masters when Tiger Woods dropped his ball farther back than he should have on the 15th hole and was penalized going into his third round based on calls from viewers.

The first portion of Decision 34-3/10 is relatively simple.  If you could not have reasonably seen your error (i.e. a ball moving one millimeter) and it is only revealed after a zoomed-in video reveals the mistake, you will not be penalized.  This is a good thing and will be more or less easy to apply to the game.

The second portion of the new rule is a little more vague.  Here is what the USGA and R&A say about it:

Players are often required to determine a spot, point, position, line, area, distance or other location on the course to use in applying the rules.  Such determinations need to be made promptly and with care, but often cannot be precise, and players should not be held to the degree of precision that can sometimes be provided by video technology.

A “reasonable judgment” standard is applied in evaluating the player’s actions in these situations:  So long as the player does what can reasonably be expected under the circumstances to make an accurate determination, the player’s reasonable judgment will be accepted even if later shown to be wrong by the use of video evidence.

So, what happened in the most recent example in involving Jon Rahm who won the Memorial Tournament?  We don’t know for sure, but, on the basis of the information above, he should not have been penalized.

It appears that Rahm and a senior golf rules official went into the scoring tent/building, viewed the TV footage and came away with a two-stroke penalty – which, I add, did not change the outcome.  Rahm still won.

Unfortunately, before going into the scoring area, tournament officials allowed Rahm to be interviewed by CBS-TV and the interviewer showed the bad form to ask Rahm about the possibility of a two-stroke penalty. The question was first he knew something was up.

To me, TV footage still appears to have played a huge role in this situation and that, despite the new rules, remains a problem.  Just think how many other situations a TV camera missed during the four days of play.  Then, one close-up produces a penalty.

Not good for the game of golf.

THE DEPARTMENT OF “JUST SAYING” IS OPEN AGAIN

PERSPECTIVE FROM THE 19TH HOLE: This is the title I chose for my personal blog, which is meant to give me an outlet for one of my favorite crafts – writing – plus to use an image from my favorite sport, golf. Out of college, my first job was as a reporter for the Daily Astorian in Astoria, Oregon, and I went on from there to practice writing in all of my professional positions, including as press secretary in Washington, D.C. for a Democrat Congressman from Oregon (Les AuCoin), as an Oregon state government manager in Salem and Portland, as press secretary for Oregon’s last Republican governor (Vic Atiyeh), and as a private sector lobbyist. This blog also allows me to link another favorite pastime – politics and the art of developing public policy – to what I write. I could have called this blog “Middle Ground,” for that it what I long for in both politics and golf. The middle ground is often where the best public policy decisions like. And it is where you want to be on a golf course.

This, remember, is one of three departments I run with a free hand to manage as I see fit.

The others are the Department of Pet Peeves and the Department of Good Quotes Worth Remembering.

The items below could fit in any of the departments, but, remember, I get to choose which departments are open and which are closed.

So, here are “Just Saying” items:

THE STATE OF OREGON BUDGET: State government leaders are preparing for another special legislative session later this summer and, this time, the subject will be the state budget, which must be in balance by the end of the two-year budget period next June.

Beyond health issues, the virus means a lot less revenue in personal and corporate income taxes, as well as lottery revenue.

The Oregonian newspaper included this paragraph this morning in a story on the subject:

“In a 13-page framework, the budget co-chairs — Representative Dan Rayfield, Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward and Senator Betsy Johnson — said they tried to ‘protect essential investments in public education, health care, child welfare, housing, economic development, and other critical areas during this unprecedented public health and economic crisis.’”

JUST SAYING, why is the word “essential” used in the co-chairs’ report? Shouldn’t all government programs be “essential.” If they are not “essential,” why fund them in the first place?

THE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberley Strassel wrote this morning that the presidential campaign has begun in earnest. Her words:

“Yet that (the campaign) began to change this week, with a contrast of the sort that could redefine this race. On Tuesday Biden released his $2 trillion climate-change plan—one of the few times he’s produced a detail on anything. It is radical—no surprise, since it is the product of a task force co-chaired by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

“Biden vows to outlaw all use of coal and natural gas to generate electricity within 15 years. He’d ban oil and gas production on federal land and offshore. He’d drive to ‘zero emissions’ cars. He’d apply ‘aggressive’ new ‘appliance- and building-efficiency standards.’ He’d create a new ‘Environmental and Climate Justice Division’ of the Justice Department to mete out ‘jail time’ to corporate officials whose businesses ‘continue to pollute’ communities.”

JUST SAYING that, given Strassel’s report, not to mention other issues, the best approach for Biden may be to remain sequestered in his basement.

The fact that he gives standing to Ocasio-Cortez to propose anything is stunning. On the extreme far left, she operates just like Donald Trump on his side of the political spectrum, if he has a side at all. She rarely reads anything. She doesn’t know what she is talking about, yet she talks. She does not have the best interests of America at heart.

She should stay in New York where her main claim to fame is that she convinced Amazon not to make a huge investment in a headquarters location there – and her advocacy prompted Amazon to take its million dollar investment and 50,000 jobs elsewhere.\

SPEAKING OF OCASIO-CORTEZ (AOC): She made more waves the other day when she want after a Latino businessman who has made, not just money, but jobs for real people.

Here’s the way columnist William McGurn wrote about the issue in the Wall Street Journal:

“None of it matters to AOC and her comrades. In the same way it is futile to try to persuade mobs tearing down statues to distinguish between Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant, the progressives targeting Goya (the Latino businessman) aren’t interested in facts or debate.

“They aren’t interested because they don’t build, they only tear down.”

JUST SAYING that McGurn is right about Ocasio-Cortez and her ilk. Like Trump, “they don’t build, they only tear down.”