May 15, 2010

Oregon Election - WW's Recommendations

When trying to make sense of the candidates for the May 2010 election, I turned to the Willamette Week's endorsements as they have always been a good place to get some solid insight into the candidates. This hasn't made them too popular with some of the politicians, but it has always been a benefit for the public.

They judge the candidates after conducting extensive interviews which they tape and provide online so the public can make up their own minds. Their criteria for endorsement?

WW’s endorsements are far more art than science. There is no litmus test of issues candidates must pass in order to win our blessing. What we seek is actually quite simple. We tend to favor candidates who have 1) a basic understanding of the job they want and the body of government where they hope to work; 2) something in their political or professional past that evidences some ability to accomplish something; 3) an ability to think independently and a willingness to deviate from political orthodoxy of any stripe; 4) passion; 5) collegiality; 6) integrity. If a candidate emerges passing five out of those six, that’s damn good.

I'd say this year they've done a good job in the recommendations except for one which frankly was astonishingly bad.

They thought the current incumbent for Public School Superintendent had been bad enough that it was time to pick the other guy. But -- and here is where I was flabbergasted -- the other fellow, Ron Maurer, doesn't have the basic requirement I look for in anyone who seeks to influence our public education system.

[H]e’s torn between faith and science. “I am not a supporter of creationism,” he says. “I am not a supporter of evolution.”

The last thing Oregon needs as a Superintendent of Public Education is someone who is reality-challenged. Too many Republicans today are bad for our country not because they are bad people, but because they do not engage with reality. They start by denying scientific evidence on evolution, proceed to denying the scientific evidence pointing to catastrophic climate change due to man's use of carbon-based energy, and end up believing practically anything because they cannot trust scientists or other policy experts. Oregon needs teachers and students who understand critical thinking and how to base intelligent decisions on real empirical data if we are to have a chance of solving the very real problems that face us.

Electing someone who "doesn't support evolution" is tantamount to picking a blind man to drive the car down a dangerous mountain road. So what does that mean to not support evolution? It's not a question of support, it's a question of looking at the evidence.

Frankly, I am shocked that the WW's editors didn't get this.

Update: Did you know there is a great site where can you go to get good information about the judicial candidates?

Posted by Mary at May 15, 2010 01:06 PM | Education | Technorati links |

"NEW YORK — US actors and liberal intellectuals joined a list to be published Friday of nearly 2,000 people accusing President Barack Obama of allowing human rights violations and war crimes.

“Crimes are crimes, no matter who does them,” the statement reads over pictures of Obama and his predecessor George W. Bush due to appear in the New York Review of Books.

The statement, published as a paid advertisement, accuses Obama, who was elected in 2008 with the enthusiastic support of US liberals, of continuing Bush’s controversial approach to human rights in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in domestic security.

It takes aim especially at Obama’s decision — reported by US officials — to authorize the killing of a radical Islamic cleric and US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, who is accused of ties to Al-Qaeda in Yemen.

“In some respects this is worse than Bush,” the statement says. “First, because Obama has claimed the right to assassinate American citizens whom he suspects of ‘terrorism,’ merely on the grounds of his own suspicion or that of the CIA, something Bush never claimed publicly.”

Among the signatories are linguist Noam Chomsky, “L.A. Confidential” actor James Cromwell, actor Mark Ruffalo and prominent Bush-era anti-war protestor Cindy Sheehan. By midday Thursday there were 1,804 signatures."AFP

Worse than Bush now Mary, where's your outrage?

Posted by: peter at May 15, 2010 09:19 PM

It's good that there are websites that give voters the chance to know their candidates. But we should also clarify and verify whatever we read online because not everything in it is reliable.

Posted by: Mark @ Israel at May 16, 2010 10:01 PM

I doubt it's possible to really be so firmly on the fence re evolution vs creationism. Which suggests Mr Maurer has views he doesn't want a section of the electorate to know.

Posted by: Paul Black at May 18, 2010 01:24 AM

Yeah, Mary, the guy is trying to have it both ways - appeal to the magical thinkers while not pissing them off with a definitive answer. I dunno, does it work on the electorate? The sick thing is that they're trying to infiltrate schools and textbooks to undermine education in general. A dumb populace is an easily frightened and manipulated populace. These guys want to instill American exceptionalism while making the next generation unable to compete in the world market. Like the Alabama teacher who thought using a presidential assassination scenario would be a good way to teach geometry. Of course, that is Alabama, home of the moron.

Posted by: Twinky P at May 18, 2010 08:16 AM