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The Republican’s Circular Firing Squad


Democrats in the Oregon Legislature are demanding an apology from Republican Senator Dennis Linthicum. What was Linthicum’s transgression?

Dennis issued a statement pointing out that exorbitant taxes on cigarettes in New York contributed to the death of a man on Staten Island who was selling individual cigarettes.

The man, Eric Garner, died while being arrested for selling the cigarettes to people who presumably could not afford to buy whole packs because of New York’s high taxes.

In his original statement, Linthicum said : “Eric Garner’s death shows us exactly how disproportionate and abusive state power can become.”

Linthicum’s statement was clearly a commentary on the unintended, but very real consequences of out of control government actions.

So what was the problem? Well, the man who died while being arrested was black. And so, in the predictable and twisted minds of Oregon’s Democrats, Linthicum’s statement had to be…you guessed it, “racist.”

Never mind that Senator Linthicum was bemoaning Garner’s death and its needlessness.

Democrats, as is so often the case, ignored Linthicum’s obvious points in an attempt to smear him.

Linthicum responded with a follow up release in which he said:

“The attempt to shut down an honest conversation about the disastrous impacts of flawed public policy and abusive power of the state is doing a disservice to Oregonians, especially for the people who are disproportionately harmed by the nexus between the two. I am welcoming a rational conversation about tax policy, and the tragedies like Eric Garner’s needless death because we need to fix a broken system in our state that is hurting underprivileged communities.”

But “rational conversations” no longer have a place in Salem.

Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick immediately issued  a news release saying:

“Earlier this week Senator Dennis Linthicum released a statement that outrageously connects the tragic death of a man of color in New York with the existence of a high cigarette tax. When he was called on his callous behavior, Senator Linthicum doubled down, arguing in a second release that his comments should lead to a ‘rational conversation.’ His statements are reprehensible and an insult to  all Oregonians, who deserve better from their elected leaders. Senator Linthicum must apologize now.”

House Majority Leader Jennifer Williamson wrote :

“The invocation of Eric Garner’s tragic death for a press release on taxes is completely abhorrent. Unequivocally, Eric Garner did not die because tobacco taxes are too high in New York. He died because law enforcement officials engaged in an act of brutality against a black man and then watched him die on a sidewalk as a direct result of their actions…  This press release is a low point. I think Sen. Linthicum owes everyone an apology and explanation.”

Senator Linthicum is one of the most thoughtful and honest people ever to serve in the Oregon Legislature, so it is no surprise that the Democrats would seize on any opportunity to silence him. That is to be expected.

What is a surprise, and a disappointment, was how quickly “Republican” leaders jumped on the bandwagon.

As soon as Burdick’s mindless attack was made available, a “joint statement” was issued  by Senate Minority Leader Herman Baertschiger, Jr. and Senator Jackie Winters.

Was  it a defense of their colleague and fellow Republican? Was it a request that members of the legislature engage in a thoughtful exchange of ideas?

No. Baertschiger and Winters doubled down on Linthicum and joined in the baseless and politically motivated bashing. Their press release said :

“Senator Linthicum’s recent rhetoric has no place in Oregon politics, and does not reflect the opinions or beliefs of the Oregon Senate Republicans. Using the death of a human being to make a policy statement is offensive and serves no purpose. We are deeply saddened by the death of Mr. Garner, and would like to apologize for any additional pain or suffering this may have caused.”

Republicans in the Oregon House chimed in too.

“We are prepared, because it’s horrific,” said Greg Stiles, a spokesman for the House Republican Office. No purpose is served in relating a cigarette tax request to the tragic death of a man of color,” their official statement reads. “At best, the remarks are unsavory and offensive. Such a comparison is indefensible and has no place in Oregon political discourse.”

(It’s interesting to note that even the deceased man’s widow believed that his death had nothing to do with his race.)

At at time when the Republicans are struggling to have any relevance, when the Democrats have total control over committees and process and are cutting Republicans out of any chance to represent the people who elected them, when they are steam rolling policies that will send this state further into a downward spiral, when they have announced their plans to make the lives of gun owners a legal hell, the Republican “Leadership” is crucifying one of the most committed, pro gun members of their party.

Please consider sending a message to Republican leaders telling them to back off.  Their obsequious pandering to the Democrats is not helping Oregonians retain their rights.

Please use the link below to  let them know you expect them to stand up for people who are actually working to protect those rights. If they won’t, what do you think they will do when the Democrats come for your guns?

Thank you.