Here’s some stuff you might like.
Business: The coronavirus has already hammered U.S. stocks as badly as they’ve been hammered since 2008 which you may recall was an, uh, off year for business. Part of the problem is the uncertainty caused by the fact that China cannot be trusted to accurately report even routine economic data, let alone the severity of the disease within its borders. I’ve been on kind of a Chernobyl spree lately – watched the HBO series and read a really good book about it, and it’s hard to avoid the parallels: authoritarian regime lies to its citizens and the world about an event originating within its borders that impacts the health of lots of people outside its borders. Chernobyl blew up in 1986 and the Soviet Union collapsed five years later. Lots of smart people think that’s not a coincidence.
Law: The feds are suing New China, Inc., which owns a Medford restaurant, for sexual harassment. This follows the criminal prosecution of the manager for sexual assault, among other things. A business is in a bad spot when the federal government is suing it, and this serves as your reminder that business owners who catch even a whiff of harassment need to (for moral as well as legal) reasons act swiftly and decisively to address it, even if the business owner is not the person inflicting the harassment.
Politics: A couple weeks ago, we observed that there are now more registered Democrats than registered Republicans in Deschutes County. Well, that news item spawned a national AP story about the decline of the GOP generally on the West Coast (and caused a picture of downtown Bend to appear on the Drudge Report for what must be the first time ever).
The story recounts the erosion of Republican voter numbers and fortunes from Orange County to Bend to the Seattle suburbs, and blames it mostly on the changing demographics of the West Coast; it quotes a former Washington GOP Chairman as saying of the Republican west coast withering, “There is no way out.”
That there is a way out is demonstrated by the premise of the story – that the partisan lean of the West Coast has been changing. The one certainty is that they will continue to change and not necessarily on their current trajectory. In recent decades, we’ve seen significant partisan shifts in other regions too. In the South, from Democrat to Republican; in the Northeast from Republican to Democrat; in Portland from Democrat to the Oh Wow, Really? Party.
Demographics isn’t the only variable affecting geographic partisan preferences. The parties themselves – and the candidates they run – change significantly too. In 1988, the last time a Republican presidential candidate won California, George H.W. Bush was that candidate. In 1992, when California joined Oregon and Washington as a reliably blue state, Bill Clinton was the Democratic nominee. Donald Trump may be an actual antonym to Bush 41 in temperament, and Bernie Sanders would sooner part with one of his three houses than say, like Clinton did, “The era of big government is over.”
Which is to say that the process that leads to partisan outcomes is very dynamic, even to the point that what it means to be a Republican and a Democrat can change significantly. Assuming that trends will always stay the same in an environment like that is a bad idea.
Et cetera: We’re in Newport, Oregon for the weekend. As I type this I’m looking up the coast to the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. A few people are trudging up or down the beach below because it’s the Oregon coast in February and while it’s not (yet) raining, stationary beach activities are best avoided.
Newport’s one of our favorites because it has a blend of beach tourist amenities (especially around Nye Beach) and an actual, functioning economy outside tourism, with its fishing industry and NOAA fleet. Like Bend, it didn’t start as a tourist spot and is still not solely or even primarily a tourist spot. While the higher-end cultural and educational offerings took a big hit with the recent closure of the Undersea Gardens, there’s still lots to do.
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Have a great weekend!