There’s No Fool Like a Political Fool

I am generally an aficionado of irreverent humor particularly when it is used to pillory public figures and those who demonstrate a remarkable level of stupidity. It is the reason that one of my favorite television shows was All in the Family with its ubiquitous bigot Archie Bunker. It can be uncomfortable but most often it is gently humorous and reminds us all of our human frailties.

Too often today what is justified today as irreverent is just mean spirited. It is meant not debate but rather to debase and demean. So-called comedians such as Samantha Bee, Kathy Griffin, Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel fit that mold. (Please note the absence of Jon Stewart and Bill Maher with whose politics I disagree but yet still find that razor’s edge to make us all think twice.)

But the irreverence of today’s comedians pales in comparison to the real thing and it appears that Portland, Oregon is ground zero for that remarkable level of stupidity. It spills over into Oregon state government which is populated by other Portland politicians. It is characterized by elected officials who stumble from one catastrophe to another, proud of decisions that everyone but them knows will lead to disaster and stunned when it does.

We’ve always had lovable dolts. Back in the 1920’s they had Charlie Chaplin as the The Tramp, followed by Lou Costello, Maxwell Smart (Don Adams), Chance the Gardner (Peter Sellers), Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks), The Jerk (Steve Martin) and even Jeff Spicolli (Sean Penn) from Ridgemont High. While they bumbled along overrun with foolishness, it always seemed to turn out all right. Even the mess they may have left along the way was minimal and often reminded us to laugh again.

But not so in Portland. These are people who cause real damage – damage from which they have immunized themselves but which falls heavily on the ordinary citizens and businesses in Portland. You may have thought that this phenomena began with the current Mayor Ted Wheeler but he is simply the latest in a line of mayors beginning with Sam Adams and progressing through Charlie Hales – each one being worse than the previous one. You may want to include former Mayor Bud Clark who is famous for a picture/poster showing him flashing a statue of a nun in downtown Portland entitled “Expose Yourself to Art.” But while Mr. Clark was a colorful character who preferred to be known as “Mayor Whoop Whoop” he did not sow calamity and tragedy everywhere he went. He may have been a precursor to these dummies but he was hardly a member. You may want to also include former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt who during the time he served as Portland mayor carried on a serial rape of his thirteen year old baby sitter and then covered it up for decades with the help of the Oregonian and a whole cadre of the Democrat and business power elites in Oregon. But I digress.

Mr. Adams is best known for pursuing a teenage male intern through the public bathrooms of City Hall and then co-opting the willing Oregonian into suppressing the story during Mr. Adams initial campaign for mayor. As a result Mr. Adams was elected but spent a significant amount of time trying to tamp down the scandal. Mr. Adams is also know for leading Portland through a series of IT failures first as chief of staff to a former mayor and then as mayor himself. Each one of them involved the Portland politicians insistence that they always had a “better way” and steadfastly refused to consider successful IT systems serving other communities of comparable size – opting instead for their “one off” better way. Each failure not only cost taxpayers more money in redoing the project but in the case of the city’s water system it also cost in the form of lost billing data for existing users.

Mr. Hales is best known as the primary proponent of Portland’s exhaustive light rail system and the resulting traffic jams that it has caused in downtown Portland where seemingly every other street has given way in whole or in part to yet another branch of the light rail system. Portland has become expert in mining the federal treasury for money to construct these fragile lines even in the face of voter rejection of a series of these lines extensions. But the long term maintenance has now begun to fall on the city residents. The light rail does not work during snow storms or freezing rain or even heavy rain where there may be standing water on the tracks. The light rail has become a multi-billion albatross from which there is no easy retreat. So, Oregonians make sure that your wallets are wide open because they are going to make their third attempt of extending light rail to Vancouver by making a new Columbia River crossing grossly more expensive without adding any car lanes at mid span – but it will accommodate the light rail and Portland’s beloved bicycles. 

But Mr. Hales sealed his identity at a doofus as described in this quote in his Wikipedia page:

Hales was criticized as failing in oversight of the Portland Police and effort to gain accountability. In an editorial summarizing his single term, The Oregonian called Hales ‘imperious and clueless’ and wrote Hales squandered opportunities to support public oversight, picked an unwinnable fight with a Federal judge, failed to streamline the city’s ‘byzantine’ police-accountability system, and failed to discipline police chief Larry O’Dea, who while drinking and playing with a gun shot an acquaintance.

“Hales received public criticism during his 2012 campaign for voting eight times in Oregon while a Washington resident. From 2004 to 2009, he claimed tax residency at his wife’s Stephenson, Washington home. Oregon taxes income in Hales’ bracket at 10.8 percent, while Washington has no income tax.”

But it is Mr. Wheeler that takes the cake. He turned the city streets of Portland over to the Antifa thugs with the resultant nightly burning, looting, and destruction that comes with mob control. In its simplest terms Mr. Wheeler with the cooperation of the other members of the Portland City Commission steadfastly refused to allow the police to confront and control the mob. And the reason may well be that the far left elements of the Democrat Party embraced the hatred of President Donald Trump so completely that anyone carrying a sign or shouting a slogan that denounced Mr. Trump was found to be an honorable and heroic figure regardless of the destruction they caused. If you opposed anything the anti-Trump mob did then you were considered the enemy and in league with Mr. Trump. In Mr. Wheeler’s case he suffered humiliation at the hands of the Antifa thugs who mocked him and spit on him when he tried to join in one of their nightly ransackings of Portland. He was forced to move out of his downtown condo when the thugs lit fire to the building. And yet through all of this he placated them, identified with them, and generally held them blameless. And along the way he supported the Defund the Police movements and regularly criticized the police when they tried to control the mob or protect property in Portland. Most recently Mr. Wheeler imposed upon the police a position of “neutrality” that kept them from intervening in violent face-off between the far right Proudboys and the far left Antifa thugs. The result was a predictable catastrophe and for which Mr. Wheeler merely shrugged his shoulders and noted that his decision didn’t work very well. That is the moral equivalent of watching two trains approaching on the same track and deciding the best thing to do was shut off the signaling system. To refer to Mr. Wheeler as a “moron” is to defame morons elsewhere.

But there are two elements of this continuing catastrophe that need to be addressed. The first is that no matter how bad these mayors have been, their likely successors are even worse. In the last election Mr. Wheeler won by a narrow margin over a woman with no political or organizational experience and who simply identified herself as the “Antifa candidate” and she is organizing already for another run. So when you think that it is “always darkest before the dawn” know that that time has not yet arrived.

The second element is that these fools have been elected under a democratic system. It’s not like they forced their way into office. They were elected and most often by sizeable margins. As such it speaks very poorly of our politicians and the media that is supposed to keep us informed. I can understand that the foolishness of Mssrs. Adams and Mr. Hale may have gone unnoticed amongst people who are busy trying to maintain their jobs or their business, educate their children and keep a roof over their heads. But when you are witness to politicians who allow their beautiful city to be burned and looted, who side with the thugs who are causing the destruction and blame everyone else but the perpetrators for the damage done there is something materially wrong with you.

In the end we know that there is no one as entertaining as a movie or television fool or as dangerous as a political fool.

Please feel free to add to the list of political fools because this phenomena is not limited to Oregon.