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Has nothing to do with politics, everything to do with Portland


For Labor Day weekend, we figured we ought to profile a Senate race featuring someone who's friendly to labor, and when we remembered this is the week of the big ol' Wonkette Drinky Thing in Portland, there was our answer: Yr Dok Zoom's native state, Oregon. We haven't been back since we moved away at the age of 13 to the godforsaken wastelands of Arizona, but we have always had a warm, if damp, place in our heart for the Rain State, where Sen. Ron Wyden is as close to a lock for reelection as anyone is this crazy election year, especially in a solid blue state where Republicans thought it a fine idea to raffle off a rifle to honor Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King.

So, this Ron Wyden guy: We like him! He's been in the Senate since 1996, when he won the special election to replace old sexual harassy Bob Packwood, who may have been the last Republican to properly resign in disgrace. Wyden was among the strongest opponents of the Patriot Act and, later, the NSA's phone surveillance program. He was not at all happy when he learned the CIA had hacked Senate computers while the Senate was preparing its torture report. He actually thinks privacy is a real thing that needs to be protected, which is a good thing. He's big on the universal health care idea, and when Republicans were sooooo angry at the Obama administration because it didn't have a plan ready to put in place just in case the Supreme Court gutted the Affordable Care Act on a technicality, Wyden was among the Dems who pointed and laughed at the hypocrites who had been pushing the case:

“I find it ironic for Republican senators to argue that the federal exchange subsidies are illegal and then demand that the administration explain how it plans to repair the damage that will be done if their argument is successful and the Supreme Court rules in their favor,” said Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the senior Democrat on the Finance Committee. “It’s like throwing gasoline on a fire, then indignantly asking the administration for its plan to put out the fire.”

Happily, Obamacare survived (again!). Wyden is for more fundamental guarantees of universal care; back in 2008, Wyden proposed the Healthy Americans Act, which would have transitioned away from employer-provided health insurance to insurance subsidized jointly by employers and government, with the goal of providing coverage for all Americans that was at least as good as that received by members of Congress. It didn't go anywhere, of course, because the U.S. Senate is not Oregon. In 2010, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer (detected early, treated successfully) but stayed in Washington the weekend prior to his surgery so he could vote to repeal "Don't Ask Don't Tell." And of course he's got all the high ratings from progressive groups you'd expect, with a string of 100% scores from Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice, the ACLU, and the Human Rights Campaign. And yes, since it's Labor Day weekend, he's got a whole lot of high scores from unions (and "zeroes" from a "right to work group").

Running against Wyden is Republican Mark Callahan, one of those folks who may as well have "perennial candidate" officially added to his name. Oregon Public Broadcasting puts it pretty succinctly:

If it’s an election year, Mark Callahan’s name is probably on the ballot in Oregon. Since 2010, he’s run — and lost — in races for county commission, school board, state House and U.S. Senate.

You'll notice the lack of any offices actually held there. Even so, Mr. Callahan, a techie sort of guy who says he's running against Oregon's liberal media as much as against Wyden, actually has the distinction of being just dickish enough to have already starred in a Wonkette story, so he has that going against him. When he was running (unsuccessfully) in 2014 for the seat of Oregon's other senator, Jeff Merkley, Callahan had him a big old hissy fit during a group interview of the Republican primary candidates by the alternative weekly Willamette Week. About an hour in, Callahan noticed that instead of dutifully copying down every word of the bafflegab one of the phone-in candidates was saying to avoid taking a position on global warming, reporter Nigel Jaquiss was instead writing "blah blah blah blah” in his notebook:

Callahan got a tad pissy, saying to Jaquiss,

I see what you’re writing down there. You just wrote down “blah blah blah blah” for everything that Jo Rae said. Jo Rae [Perkins] is a respectable woman. Why are you not respecting her by writing “blah blah blah blah” in your notepad?

After all, reporters are the same as court stenographers, aren't they? Callahan tried to push the issue of R-E-S-P-E-C-T, but instead, Editor-in-Chief Mark Zusman asked him if he thought that climate change was real, to which Callahan promptly answered, “It’s a myth.” Jaquiss, ever the disrespectful cur, shot back: "Where are you on the Easter Bunny?” O The Indignity! Those mean reporters weren't taking his informed unscientific opinion seriously, so Callahan lectured them some more:

Are these really the questions that I was called here to answer? I called you out for putting “blah blah blah” on your notepad on now you’re asking me questions like this? Really? Really, are we talking about this now?

As we noted at the time, Callahan refused to take a firm position on the Easter Bunny, either. The editor, Zusman, tried to move on to another candidate and advised Callahan he'd be asked to leave if he interrupted again; Callahan scoffed at the imperious liberal newspaper editor who was running the candidate interview, “Who do you think you are?” We're going to bet Zusman thought he was the newspaper editor. Callahan was asked to leave, and on the way out muttered about the "thin-skinned liberals" who weren't even letting him run the meeting. And now he's running for Senate!

The "blah, blah, blah" moment is just about the only thing Callahan's actually known for in Oregon, which might be just as well considering he supports such awful ideas as a flat tax and huge modifications to federal land ownership, which he says is "unconstitutional." In text that no longer appears on his campaign website's issues page, Ballotopedia cites Callahan's original position on federal lands:

The Federal Government has not been following the U.S. Constitution, nor the O&C Lands Act in regards to Federal lands. 53% of Oregon is “supposedly” owned by the Federal Government. I was recently in Nevada, and 90% of Nevada is “supposedly” owned by the Federal Government. This clearly indicates that the Federal Government is not following the U.S. Constitution.

This sounds remarkably like the Bundy family's "manifesto" on public lands, which we discussed during the the recent unpleasantness at the Malheur Federal Wildlife Refuge. Wonder why Callahan backed off from that? As far as we can tell, he also still thinks global warming is a myth, although that's not listed on his issues page either. He might be a bit allergic to the topic.

Update: Alert Wonkette Operative "Jamoche" found the earlier version of Callahan's "issues" page via the Wayback Machine, and it's even more nuts than the excerpt on Ballotpedia. In addition to the excerpted text, Callahan adds a point made repeatedly by the Bunditarians (and which is nonsense):

Article 1, Section 8, clause 17 of the U.S. Constitution clearly states what the limits are for the Federal Government in terms of Federal lands. It basically boils down to Ports, Forts, and 10 Miles Square. That is it! I pledge to help restore the lands to the States, and to the people of Oregon.

Dude is flirting with sovereign citizen bullshit there. See also his definitive three-paragraph refutation of all climate science, which you just know will be good since the heading is "Climate Change: Also Known As Weather." Time to summon Neil deGrasse Tyson and his doggie again!

Ah, one last anecdote to help you see what a stand-up guy Mark Callahan is: Back in 2010, he ran for the state House on the Green Party ticket in an unsuccessful attempt to draw liberal votes away from the eventual Democratic winner. So he can add "unsuccessful ratfucker" to his resume as well.

Let's say it together: He seems nice. And we'll go out on a limb and wish Sen. Wyden a happy fourth full term.

Want to make sure Ron Wyden keeps his seat? Sure, he's taking donations. Want to help Yr Wonkette count down all of this year's U.S. Senate races? The Doktor Zoom Coffee and Zantac Fund is right here! And DON'T FORGET TO COME SEE YOUR WONKPALS THIS WEDNESDAY, PORTLAND! Special mystery guests should be arriving in their special mystery bus any old day.

[Project Votesmart / Politico / Oregon Public Broadcasting / Oregonian / Willamette Week / Darth Vader with Flaming Bagpipes is Portland semi-institution The Unipiper]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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