Friday, July 27, 2012

Why Mitt Romney Shouldn't Even Be Taken Seriously

Fact: Mitt Romney has refused to release more than two year's tax returns.

Conjecture: What is concealed within them is more embarrassing than the steady drum beat of Republicans calling on him to make them public.

Fact: Mitt Romney began his primary campaign with an advertisement showing Obama quoting his previous rival, John McCain. Though the ad didn't make this clear, the Romney campaign defended this deception when it came out, claiming that they were trying to point out that Obama was now doing what he'd criticized McCain for doing last time around.

Conjecture: The ad made no attempt to show that Obama was doing something he'd previously criticized. Consequently, the ad is deceptive, and the campaign followed it up with another lie.

Fact: Romney has recently been using a similarly out-of-context quote to beat up on the President. Ironically, the speech Obama actually gave, pointing out that business people don't build their fortunes completely on their own, is almost a mirror image of a speech Romney gave to Olympic athletes, telling them they didn't make their way to the Olympics on their own.

Conjecture: As that Lewis Black clip points out, both candidates distort the facts and edit in ways that benefit them politically. But I can't help but think Black is making the mistake we too often make here in our polarized country, thinking that the only way to be honest is to be balanced. Even this article in Slate slamming the Republicans for their  war on facts stumbles at the gate with this bit of unsupported "balance": "Someday political scientists will try to date the decline of reasoned discourse in America to the moment when the left and the right began to invent their own facts." It then goes on to make the case that "The real end of civic discourse can be traced to the new conservative argument that facts themselves are dangerous." [Italics are theirs, bold is mine.] Romney's deception is an order of magnitude more severe and out-of-bounds than anything I've seen from the Obama campaign so far.

Fact: In 1994, Howard Stern ran for Governor in the state of New York. Though he ran on the libertarian ticket and and many questioned whether he was even serious, he did catch the public's attention and many political pundits took his candidacy seriously. Then he dropped out of the race because he didn't want to disclose his personal finances as required by law. "I spend 25 hours a week telling you all the most intimate details of my life," Stern said. "One fact I've never revealed is how much I make and how much money I have . . . it's none of your business."

Conjecture: I don't think Stern was ever serious. He's too smart a man not to have known that state law required him to divulge his finances in order to be considered, so this was an easy out for a publicity stunt, or perhaps a face-saving gesture when it became clear his candidacy wasn't viable.

Howard Stern's stunt candidacy might seem like a non sequitur, but it's not. When considering which political candidate I'll vote for, the decision-making model I like to use is that of a job interview.  This reminds me of the fact that candidates are trying to get a job, helping me separate the cult-of-personality emotional component from their reasoned arguments about their ability to perform that job's functions. It also reinforces the idea that We The People are really in charge of this country; we make the hiring decisions. Our interview panel is very large, and that complicates things, just as it does in the private sector. Sitting on a large interview panel, if I like a particular applicant but know that no one else does, I have to compromise and recognize that we may have only a few viable candidates. That's why I haven't voted for third party candidates, but I would do that rather than refusing to vote. I want to be a participant at the table. That's a professional responsibility in the hiring of an employee, and a civic responsibility in the context of an election. I may have some significant areas of disagreement with our President, but unless someone better qualified comes along, I'll do my civic duty at the ballot box.

So, has someone better come along? At this point, I'd argue no one has come along. In Mitt Romney we have a candidate who started out his campaign lying to us, then lied about lying, and is continuing to lie. It seems the media's best defense of this kind of behavior (in their continued effort to be balanced rather than honest) is to say, "Well, Obama has been somewhat deceptive in his advertisements as well." To me, that's pretty weak tea. First of all, Romney opened the gate on this kind of behavior. Second, he's been more disingenuous. To my mind, significantly more, not just picking out statistics that are true but without some qualification, but intentionally clipping soundbites to deceive the viewers of his advertisements. Third, he's applying to take someone's job. He has to show he'd be better. This doesn't mean he has to always take the high road, or that he's prohibited from criticizing his opponent, but it does mean that he can't afford to be the bigger liar when he's trying to get an interview, because the other employee has already demonstrated that he can do the job.

But this is the reason Romney really isn't an option: He refuses to fill out the whole application. When Howard Stern decided that his finances weren't going to be made public, he had the decency to drop out (or he decided he wanted to drop out and therefore didn't reveal his finances). Mitt Romney has essentially picked up a job application from our establishment, written, "It's none of your business," in a number of the fields, and then brought in the application, expecting to get an interview. I've sat on a number of interview panels, in college, in the business sector, and now in the public schools, and I can't imagine a single one overlooking an answer like that and giving the person a chance to make their case that they should have the job.

Now, I understand that there are lots of people in this country who dispute the notion that Obama has been doing his job satisfactorily. For them, the whole point of this interview process is to find someone to replace him. For some of them, anyone would be better, even an applicant who outright lies to them, then refuses to answer their interview questions. Let's not forget that the Romney campaign has been intentionally vague about specific policy proposals as well. For example, they want to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, but won't describe what they want to replace it with. There will always be some distance between what politicians promise and what they can deliver, but this kind of intentional vagueness is a recipe for disaster. I can't imagine a situation in which an applicant for a position would actually do a better job, even than a bad employee, after refusing to say what he'd do better, fully explaining why he's qualified, or demonstrating that he's trustworthy. No matter how badly you think our current President has botched the job, why would you take it on faith that someone like that would do better?

Romney may reveal his tax returns. I would presuppose that they'll show nothing illegal, but plenty of things that are sketchy and even more that distances him from the common voter (those of us who have to work for money, rather than letting money work for us). At the very least, they'll put a firm number on the percentage of his income he paid in taxes, and since he's proposing to lower taxes on the wealthy, that's a legitimate interview question. But if he's not going to reveal them, calculating they are going to do more harm than good, then we all have a responsibility to remind everyone else on the interview panel that he's not even a real candidate for the job. We can listen to what he has to say for only so long, then remind him that we have a busy schedule, politely shake his hand, and see him out. As soon as the door is closed, we have to say to one another, "Remember everybody, his application is incomplete, and he won't answer our questions, so he's not even under consideration."

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Liberal’s Defense of Gun Ownership

In the wake of the shooting in Colorado, my mom voiced a question I expect many people are asking right now.

 "Can someone please tell me why the NRA would defend anyone's ‘Constitutional Right’ to own two 40-caliber Glock handguns, a Remington 870 single-barrel pump shotgun, and a Smith and Wesson AR-15 assault-style rifle? Benjamin Gorman, I just don't get it!"

I owe my mother an explanation, partly because I'm her son and she asked, partly because I'm a gun owner who was raised to fear and detest guns (especially handguns), but mostly because, when I got my concealed-and-carry permit and they asked me for the name of reference, I wrote down my mom's name. I think she deserves a reply.

Mom's question is actually three questions. Why should anyone have these guns? Should this be a right? And, if it is a right, why should the NRA defend that right?

First off, let's address those guns specifically. I don't own a Glock because there are specific things I don't like about them, but I have a Ruger 9mm semi-automatic handgun. I don't have an AR-15, but I have a carbine which some people would call an "assault-style" gun. I own a .22 and a youth 410 (that will be my son's when he's old enough). I don't own a pump action shotgun, but that's the next thing on my gun buying list. There are myriad reason for owning firearms, and I can't speak for all of them. Personally, I had multiple reasons. First and foremost, I started researching guns because I write novels (nothing published) and I wanted to be able to write as knowledgeably as the story demanded. The more I learned, the more I realized there's a whole world of knowledge I was unaware of. Could I have done all my learning simply by reading about guns? Certainly. A decent writer could also write believably about bicycles without ever riding one, and a moral writer should be able to write about murder without committing one, so if I felt that gun ownership was wrong, then my writing would be no excuse. But I'd also come to believe that gun ownership is not immoral. Few question a hunter's right to own a gun. Even fewer question a police officer's right to carry one, even in an urban setting. We allow these people to carry guns because we believe that most of them will be responsible. They will use these firearms to feed their families and to protect themselves, and us, from those who would do us harm. Implicit in this permission is an acknowledgement that there are those who would use guns to dangerous ends. Not only are there hunters who misuse guns (and police officers, too) but there are those who would use guns to do us all harm. Consequently, as I see it, we have three choices: We could try to create a society without any firearms. We could allow people to have guns and hope they will be responsible citizens. Or we could have some mixture in which guns are regulated but those who prove themselves responsible (mind you, prove themselves to some government official) are permitted to have guns.

I used to argue for a society without guns. When my in-laws first heard I'd never fired a handgun, their jaws dropped to the floor like something out of a cartoon. But even after firing some of my brother-in-law's guns, I would argue for strict handgun bans by saying I would give up that enjoyable experience to bring back just one innocent child killed by a handgun someone irresponsibly left sitting on their coffee table. That was a pretty effective (emotionally manipulative) argument, but it rang more and more hollow in my own ears as I grew older. Taking guns away from people responsible enough to follow the law doesn’t bring back the dead, and it might not prevent future tragedies. Certainly every accidental death caused by firearms is a tragedy, but would I give up my right to own a gun if it meant I couldn't protect my own son's life? And do I have the right to make that choice for anyone else? Even a world with no guns at all wouldn't entirely alleviate this concern. Sure, I'm no ninja super-hero myself, but do I get to tell a five-foot tall, 100 lb. mom that she has to defend her children from a much larger armed assailant without a gun? (My wife is one of these five-foot tall, 100 lb. moms. I wouldn't dare tell her what she couldn't do in defense of our son.) Plus, can we please admit that the notion of an America without guns is painfully naive? As a liberal, I'm horrified by the notion some hold that we should round up 15 million illegal immigrants and deport them on cattle cars. To me, the idea of police breaking into and searching every house in America in search of guns that haven't been voluntarily turned over is equally repellent, and even more impractical. There will be guns. And let’s remember that a word without guns wouldn't necessarily be a safer one. This guy in Colorado may have killed a dozen innocent people with his guns, but Timothy McVeigh did a lot worse with a van and garbage cans full of fertilizer. The terrorists who killed all those people in the Tokyo subway system lived in a country that's a model for handgun control. And the 9/11 terrorists used box cutters.

(Now, if I’m being totally honest about my motivations, I should also confess that, despite my ridicule of the paranoia of the right, I also harbor concerns some would dismiss as paranoia. Though I maintain my commitment to a kind of open-minded skepticism, I find supernatural apocalyptic scenarios exceedingly unlikely. I’m not concerned with the Rapture, the return of Quetzalcoatl, or the misreading of a Mayan calendar, but I do worry that our civilization is more tenuous than we like to admit. Possible man-made causes, like Peak Oil, a series of severe natural disasters precipitated by global warming, or even massive currency devaluation caused by a shaky international monetary system could potentially lead to circumstances that would make government overreach look like the better alternative. In that chaos, I’d like to know how to use a gun safely and effectively to protect my family. To me, this seems just as sensible as having a fire extinguisher or a first aid kit, but I know that even speculating about the fall of our civilization would cause some people to dismiss me as a kook. Oh, and then there’s always the potential Zombie Apocalypse…)

So, if we acknowledge the reality that we can't get rid of all the guns we already have, we could adopt a complete laissez faire attitude toward guns. I think that might be the position of the NRA, or at least of many of its members, but it's not mine. If the rationale for gun ownership is based on this free-for-all attitude, and is inspired by the Founders' idea that people need guns to defend themselves from their own government, then people should be able to have any weapon accessible to the military. That's madness. I may be comfortable with my neighbors owning guns, but I don't trust any of them with nuclear weapons, least of all the kind of neighbor paranoid enough to get into an arms race with his own government.

Since we can't get rid of guns and shouldn't take away a person's ability to defend him or herself in a world with guns, but also can't allow anyone to have any weapon they want, we need to find a balanced approach that preserves ownership rights for those we find to be most likely to handle the responsibility, while keeping guns out of the hands of people likely to misuse them. We also need to be reasonable about what guns we allow people to purchase legally. This tragedy in Colorado doesn't shed much light in the latter question. The guns he had were not only legal, but should be legal within such a balanced framework. Glocks are self-defense weapons, the most popular choice of police departments. The AR-15 is certainly a military grade weapon, but semi-automatics are practical for home defense, too; you wouldn't want to have to rack a round between each shot if you were being attacked. Lastly, the pump action shotgun, in my opinion, is the best weapon for home defense because it has the added feature of producing a universally recognizable sound that can ward off an intruder before a single shot is fired. As someone who hopes to never fire a gun in the direction of another human being, I find that very attractive, and I would expect that those favoring gun regulation would, too. Unfortunately, this particular act could have been carried out if the man had carried in a coat and belt full of loaded six-shot revolvers from the late 1800s. Though this instance doesn't tell us much about what guns to outlaw, it certainly tells us that we need to beef up our mental health services. I don't know anything about this assailant yet, but I can perform a layman's diagnosis and assert that he was ill. Now, I have heard concerns from more ardent gun-rights supporters who are even leery of limiting the rights of the mentally ill. Their rationale is that a corrupt government could use the pretext of mental illness to systematically take away gun owner's rights. I find this unpersuasive. Any government that had the ability to systematically separate massive numbers of people from their guns without the consent of the majority wouldn't need any pretext at all. Conversely, a government still beholden to its people couldn't successfully convince them that all gun owners were diagnosably mentally ill without broadening the definition of severe mental illness so much that it would be meaningless. Consequently, I have no problem limiting the right to bear arms to prevent the severely mentally ill from purchasing guns, much as we prevent felons from doing so. I know our purchasing systems are porous, and unlike some on the more extreme fringe, I don't have a problem with background checks, waiting periods, and other measures that keep guns out of the hands of criminals or (potentially) the ill.

But even that relies on a certain trust in the government's commitment to the right to own guns. I think gun-rights advocates undermine their own case when they go too far, always presupposing the worst form of tyranny. If the right to bear arms is to be protected, it's most easily done by working within the system, with the government, to show the people that gun rights are designed to help law abiding citizens. All the "from my cold, dead hands" rhetoric presumes a government that wouldn't be cowed by a constitution anyway. As long as gun owners want to maintain a legally protected right, rather than having it obviated by an anti-gun majority, we should seek to promote, enforce, and maintain the kinds of regulations that keep guns out of the hands of the kinds of people who would turn the majority against gun ownership.

But that's political tactics and policy, not the underlying principle. Most fundamentally, we do have the right to bear arms (just ask President Obama, the first democratic president and former constitutional law scholar to assert that he interprets the second amendment to guarantee an individual's right) and furthermore, we should have that right. Beyond hunting and self-defense, a well-armed populace is a check on the government. Our government has been beholden enough to its white, male, land owning citizens, that it's easy enough for some of us to forget some of its excesses and injustices. But think of all the Americans who haven't been afforded the most basic rights. We have to acknowledge that those rights could be removed again. After all, Japanese Americans had their rights suspended during the internment. So, since we know it's possible, we should also acknowledge that the government is far less likely to do something like that again knowing so many of its citizens are armed. It's a raw check on government overreach, I'll admit. It has none of the beauty of crisp, fresh, free newsprint , none of the biting wit of satire, none of the nobility of an independent judiciary, none of the simplicity of the ballot box. It's not my favorite check on government power. It's not even the most efficient. But it is the last check.

If it's a right worth having, it's a right that needs defending. In just the last few years, we've seen what happens when people won't stand up for the right to habeas corpus; extraordinary renditions, parallel courts, torture. You might not like gun owners any more than you like people accused of being in Al Qaeda, but just as those people deserve to have their rights protected, gun owners deserve to have theirs protected, too. And for the same reason: Just as you could someday be falsely accused of a crime and be protected by those brave enough to stand up even for accused terrorists, you could someday find yourself in a position that causes you to second-guess your decision not to own a gun, and those supposed villains who defended the rights of this crazy guy in Colorado would instantly become the heroes who defended your rights, too.
Now, as for the NRA, I can't speak for them specifically. As much as I respect those who stand up for all our rights, I can't stomach the NRA’s complete submission to the Republican Party. I also don't understand their irrational antipathy towards President Obama. He's actually been very good to gun owners, not only asserting the individual right to bear arms, but opening up federal lands to hunters under their individual state laws. I'm not positive, but I'm pretty sure he opened up more previously restricted land to guns than any president ever. So why are they so devoted to getting rid of him? Partly it's the paranoid style of the American right which always assumes that, despite any evidence, the other shoe is about to drop and the communist plot will be revealed. Also, they hate this new UN restriction on the illegal international firearms trade, despite the fact that it explicitly allows for the import of any guns that meet the laws of the receiving country. Personally, I think that’s pretty weak, since some of the receiving countries would turn those guns over to terrorists immediately, but then we don’t look to the U.N. because of its track record of strong enforcement. There’s some concern among gun owners that the ban will create bottlenecks in the legal supply chain, but this presupposes that some of that chain depends on the illegal import and export of firearms, something that should be curtailed anyway. Beyond these fears, the ban plays into paranoia about some evil UN led “One World Government,” the kind of conspiracy theory I find ridiculous because politicians and bureaucrats, in my experience, just aren't smart enough or well organized enough to pull something like that off.

Despite my disdain for the NRA, I am a card carrying member of the Liberal Gun Club, and I'm glad there are people on both sides of the aisle protecting our right to bear arms. Tragedies like the one in Colorado, much like the events of 9/11, incline us to make reactionary decisions based on our horror and our fear of our own inability to explain the circumstances. Those who want to prevent violence would do well to take a deep breath and remember that such snap judgments all too often lead to even greater horrors. After all, we responded to thousands of deaths on 9/11 by killing or displacing a million people in Iraq. Since murder rates in this country have been consistently declining for decades, we can’t allow our outrage at this anomalous event in Colorado to motivate us to do anything, especially curtailing our most fundamental rights, without carefully weighing all the potential consequences. 

Addendum: Apparently my fellow liberals aren't the only ones who are inclined to be reactionary when it comes to guns. Here's a great take-down of one of Bill O'Reilly's uninformed rants: "Bill, You Ignorant Slut" by Robert Farago. 

Addendum II: And I'm not completely opposed to this proposal, either, though I don't think it would have had any bearing on the events in Colorado. "Regulate Guns Like Cars"


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Solid Modern Parenting

Today, while playing Words with Friends, I was startled when my son, Noah (age 7), hopped up and took off down the hall. While in transit, he groaned, "I'm about to have some massive butt issues!"

I immediately exited out of Words with Friends.

He shouted from the bathroom, "You're not putting that on Twitter, are you?"
"Of course I am," I yelled back.

"But Dad! It's about my butt!"
"And it was funny. You say funny stuff about your butt, it's going to end up on Twitter!"
"Fine! Then I'm not going to talk about my butt anymore!"
That, my friends, is solid parenting.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Dennis Richardson, Skip the Next Apology and Resign in Disgrace

Here in Oregon, we have a state representative named Dennis Richardson who has been causing quite a stir by sending out spam emails. His first offense involved sending out heavily slanted emails to all state employees using the state's email lists. The use of those email addresses was wildly inappropriate, verging on the illegal, since what he was sending was, in essence, a push poll. We're not allowed to use the state's email system for political purposes, and a push-poll is political rhetoric masquerading as open and genuine inquiry. The most famous and insidious example of a push poll came from none other than Karl Rove, who had a bunch of people make phone calls during the primaries in 2000 when George W. Bush was running against John McCain. The callers asked questions like, "Would you be more likely or less likely to vote for John McCain for president if you knew he had fathered an illegitimate black child?" Of course, the callers didn't mention that John McCain and his wife adopted a Bengali little girl, but the question itself swayed voters' opinions. Personally, I think this is one of the dirtiest tricks a politician can pull. It's also legal. But it's political, so if someone were doing it using state email addresses in which they were prohibited from politicking, that would be illegal. Dennis Richardson certainly crossed the line, and barely apologized after thousands of state workers replied in anger. This isn't the first time Richardson has embarrassed himself and our state, either. He once compared the Virginia Tech Shootings to the passage of legislation protecting the rights of gays and lesbians.  In that case, he did not apologize. Richardson is an embarrassment to his district and to the state of Oregon.

The nature of Richardson's first push poll was to ask state workers for ideas to make the state government leaner and more efficient, like a private business. The implications were that: a) the state was inefficient, and b) the state should be run like a business. But, like Rove's poll, there's no way within the poll to argue against those loaded assumptions.

I immediately sent Richardson an email reply. I wrote:

Rep. Richardson,
If the state wanted to follow the lead of the private sector, it would behave like a business and try to simultaneously cut costs and increase profits. That would mean tax increases to raise revenue. Now, you might not want to increase taxes during a recession, but if that's the case, don't pretend you are trying to emulate a business. Or, if that's how you think businesses should operate (all cost cutting and no increased revenue) then Heaven help the businesses in your district. I look forward to your reply.

To his credit, he did reply. Sort of. He wrote back:

Ben – I was focused more on how private businesses find ways to operate more efficiently, not suggesting the state raise taxes. 

Despite the curtness of his reply, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. I wrote a thank you letter back, saying:

Representative Richardson,
Thank you for your reply. My concern is precisely the emphasis on efficiency with private business as a metaphor. Government cannot and should not function as a business. Although it should be concerned with spending taxpayer dollars wisely and efficiently, this talking point is overused to a dangerous degree in times of tight budgets because it sounds better than cost cutting or reductions in services. I understand that phrases like those are politically unpopular, but the danger is that the public will actually come to expect the government to function like a business; to put profit before the public good, the short-term bottom line before the long term health of the state. Perhaps I am reading more into your request for input than you intended, but I got the sense that all the emphasis was on cost cutting. If that's the case, level with us, and acknowledge that shortfalls will not be managed by efficiencies alone. We need reductions in services or tax increases (probably both), and we need to have a grown-up conversation about that. Inexact metaphors only muddy the waters, putting off that conversation and making it more painful when the time comes. Personally, I think a healthy balance would involve maintenance of education spending (the long term health of the state), the elimination or reform of the kicker (something any economist would tell you is ridiculous) and an increase in the corporate minimum tax (corporations will not leave the state as long as we show them we place a high priority on providing them with highly educated employees who demand lower wages than people with commensurate education who live in places with much higher costs of living). I'm interested to know how you would strike that balance.
Again, thank you for your time and your reply.

What I didn't realize was that, by replying, I was now on Richardson's email list. Even when the state forced him to purge the emails he'd obtained improperly, I was still on there. So I was blessed with an even more infuriating email from Richardson the next month. This time he was railing against the teacher union in his own district, which was going on strike. Richardson wrote, "The union, on the other hand, is working for its members and not the students. This is what unions do. One official involved with the negotiations recalled that when an issue came up that would have cost $100,000, the District said there was no money to pay for it. The union representative’s response was the District could just lay off a teacher. Once again union representatives take the position, if you have to lay off teachers and cut school days to get the public to raise taxes and spend more money on education, then that is what you should do."

Furious, I responded immediately.

This is shameful. You are free to weigh in and bash teachers if you feel like it, but please don't think that people will be fooled when you assert that unions work against students. Teachers unions, from top to bottom, are composed of members. Members are teachers. Do you really believe teachers, people who have committed their lives to serving students, work against students? You may not understand that forcing a district to lay off a teacher rather than cut salaries is ultimately better for students, but it is; if districts keep cutting salaries, eventually they can't attract talented teachers and that hurts kids. When they fire teachers, as much as that is painful (it hurts other teachers as much as students, since it both increases every other teacher's workload and takes away one of their beloved colleagues) it creates a short term problem districts are motivated to fix, rather than a long term problem that can hurt kids for years. Unions (made of teachers) make these hard choices and always have kids in mind, even if the general public doesn't understand. Once upon a time, people trusted that teachers had their kids' interests in mind. That trust made our schools safer, more orderly places, and ultimately strengthened our communities. Now we have politicians actively disrespecting teachers in mass emails, then wondering why our schools can't command the same respect of parents that they once did. 

As I said, you are entitled to your views, and if you think teachers are villains out to hurt kids, that's your prerogative. But please don't believe you can hide behind the false distinction between teachers and the unions made up entirely of teachers. We're one and the same. If you want to maintain the respect of the teachers who are your constituents, you owe everyone on your mass email list an apology for your generalizations about all unions. 

Ben Gorman
Proud Public High School Teacher
Proud Union Member

This time I did not get a reply. However, thanks to the group Our Oregon, we now know what an apology letter from Dennis Richardson would look like. This is how he replied to someone who shared my concerns:

Do you realize that you are not in my district and cannot vote for me.  If my motives were political, I would not waste my time contacting those who cannot vote in my district.  For just a moment stop and consider that I may be sending this information to you for the benefit of informing Oregonians about what is taking place in our state.

Your email address will be deleted, and it will be your loss not mine.  Too bad your skepticism overpowers your ability to accept information from one who offers it for free and expecting nothing in return.

Best wishes and good bye, Dennis R

I have taken a moment to stop and consider Richardson's attempts to benefit us all. He has given me information about what is going on in my state. Unfortunately, what is going on is embarrassing, and he's the cause. Now, if Dennis Richardson wants to continue to benefit the people of his district and the people of Oregon, he should skip the next apology and just resign.