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'Command' Approach Damages Legislature Role in Building State-Needs/Based Laws, Major RulesOp-Ed by Henry Clay Ruark for Salem-News.com
Oregon ALEC-Leader Whisnant Built 23-Year Air Force Career in World's Largest, Most Costly "Command-Driven" Background. Part 5 in a continuing series.
(SEASIDE, Ore.) - From long effort for "objectivity" in any report I do, I refrain from 'googleing' the background of the key persons involved --to make sure any odd information does not influence my own judgment of detailed impact on reported events. I much prefer to focus on what they do in the situation/circumstances so reported.
But when the report is written, then I check out the persons involved by any handy search method, having learned long ago (and painfully !) that is the wisest way to avoid surprise.
When Google-time arrived a day or two ago for Rep. C. Gene Whisnant, in re his massive insistence on ALEC as choice contact organization producing "model legislation" to guide Oregon's Legislature, his honorable Air Force record of 27 years, leading to retirement with the rank of Colonel, surely made him one of our unsung heroes whose active service in dangerous, complex and demanding assignments make world peace possible.
His assignments, in addition to those inherent building to retirement including both diplomatic duties abroad and Pentagon service on a very tough assignment heading up audiovisual and photographic developments demanding skills and knowledge built from his early degree in journalism -- have been exceptionally demanding.
His journalism degree is from a fine, strong, famed university and surely included emphasis on straight truth in reporting. He holds an advanced degree in international relations from U/Arkansas.
He is also well-trained and experienced in distorting and perverting mechanisms and methods involved in evaluating and creating propagandistic messages, too. That undeniably goes "for sure" for anyone with Pentagon experience at his level and assignments abroad.
Then I realized he has been ignoring two other tested-and-proven organizations with fine long-term records --both with NO CORPORATE-side VETO and both with NO or very little CORPORATE/PRIVATE-INTEREST involvement in dialog, detailed development and final vote on key products of that process demanded as Oregon's needs in this current worldwide climate-near-chaos continue to be heavy and entirely different than in the past decades.
Regardless of that unquestionable fact, it is completely clear also that those very same experiences --living by, with, through, surrounded by, and acting only-- on the basic Armed Forces "command is all" structure erected some potential difficulties involved in his current role as civilian, citizen, volunteer, elected Representative seeking, by oath of office, the commonwealth good rather than the personal/professional rapid-choice demanded by that "command attitude" --and any personal political views.
Research on this whole general problem of the difficult shifts involved for anyone in that particular psychological, protocol, practice and problem-bind is scarce, and runs to the generalized themes one would expect from coverage of enlisted and lower-ranked officers, returning to peaceful life while suffering, often undetected and unknowingly, from a variety of difficulties so-created.
What does emerge (from entirely too-fast, too-shallow, too-narrow) search clearly indicates, however, that for most persons involved in the higher-command levels, the very demands so created force rapid decision amidst complex situation-components, often even at life-threatening stages, and occurring suddenly and surprisingly, despite any action to prepare for them.
When further shaped by "diplomatic" and "negotiating" major experiences such as depicted in detail in his military record, we begin to get the image of a very determined, skilled, dedicated person seeking to absolutely guarantee that his particular choice of instrument, group or mechanism to achieve what seems right to him are both extraordinary and perhaps open to some question on the place of corporate influence.
He seems to have forgotten or overlooked what Ike Eisenhower famously said about corporate impact on governmental affairs:
"In the councils of goverment, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist". (Farewell address, Jan. 17, 1961)
It then follows, it would seem, that perhaps that is what has shaped --and perhaps distorted somewhat-- the ALEC-connected decisions for which Rep. Whisnant stands responsible.
Basically, it seems to have been his decision --according to his own statement made to the Eugene WEEKLY in response to an article exposing ALEC deficiencies-- to make OF ALEC the chosen instrument for review, reform, redevelopment and forward progress on major state problems such as budgeting process and practice and privatization of major resources and agency actions, as well as other key Legislature areas --as outlined in his own article proudly published in the major ALEC magazine.
It should be noted that it was those particular and specific continuing actions which won him currently the major ALEC Award of Legislator of The Year 2011 demonstrate precisely the strong impacts he seems to have allowed for the ostensible "model legislation" developed through the ALEC-process now under such serious and even devastating attack by a whole group of national organizations.
Surely a trained command-level officer with a quarter/century of experience should understand that since Ike's Farewell Address the disastrous rise of corporate power in this nation is among the most commanding of changes in our society, and demands every possible way in which we can offset and remedy and remove it from our Constitutionally-imposed governmental system.
We do not --perhaps cannot-- really know the stresses, strains and pressures felt by one who --used to instant obedience due advanced rank-- now finds himself forced to make sure every step he takes, every action involving others now of equal rank as citizens, is NOW shaped, supported and governed by entirely open, honest, democratic dialog, leading to the legal consensus demanded for action by any legislating agency.
What evolves without question from the current national organization mutual exposure of the ALEC-process distortion and possible perversion of far too many state laws during their Legislative development must greatly concern every citizen.
Those laws, become the rules of life and sometimes even of death when properly enacted via Constitutional and Legislative plan, patter, protocol and long-tested and proven procedures, control. reward and punish what ordinary people do in both ordinary and extraordinary circumstance.
The project, protect, propound and provide the everyday, every-way rules of the road and of the society by which people must live.
Even with the best of intent, and properly administered process for pure development as needed within each state, to build the best of laws requires the best of process, to be proven by undistorted/unperverted product precisely and near-perfectly tuned to what was determined as needed by the Legislature in each state.
I.e. by elected representatives chosen to explore, dialog, find consensus and plan together for action --all in full concentration on commonwealth concerns.
WHY would Rep. Whisnant settle for solid, continuing, extremely concentrated attention to ALEC affairs and influence on Oregon law-making, when these two other groups stood as ready and surely as willing to assist in a broad utilization of their resources, singly, mutually, or in any combination ??
HOW revealing is it that he writes --in the ALEC magazine yet-- admiring and detailing his own administering of the ALEC Budgeting Tool Kit; and HOW it has guided recent approach to Oregon budgeting in the Legislature.
He also outlines specific Oregon legislation into which he has built materials from the ALEC models.
WHAT may be the results of Oregon laws shaped to interests and values of the corporate and private-interest groups so strongly evident in ALEC ?
That's the final question posed inevitably by this whole situation, demanding further state-level attention not only from many Oregon citizens, now well informed re ALEC and its exposed distortions, but also from the Legislature and state agency officials.
Whether or not there have been distortions and/or perversions built into any current Oregon law should surely demand exploration and review by the state's top leaders and divisions.
Other states are already at work reviewing recent-year legislation for undue and perhaps legally questionable corporate influenced action.
If Oregon is really to "Fly With Her Own Wings", we surely should not be the last to act.
At 21, Henry Clay Ruark was Aroostook Editor for the Bangor, Maine DAILY NEWS, covering the upper 1/4 of the state. In the ‘40s, he was Staff Correspondent, then New England Wires Editor at United Press-Boston; later Editor for the Burlington, Vermont 3-daily group owned by Wm. Loeb, later notorious at Manchester, New Hampshire UNION LEADER for attacks on Democratic Presidential candidates.
Hank returned to Oregon to complete M. Ed. degree at OSU, went on to Indiana University for Ed.D. (abd) and special other course-work; was selected as first Information Director for NAVA in Washington, D.C.; helped write sections of NDEA, first Act to supply math, science, foreign language consultants to state depts. of education; joined Oregon Dept. of Education, where he served as NDEA administrator/Learning Media Consultant for ten years.
He joined Dr. Amo DeBernardis at PCC, helping establish, extend programs, facilities, Oregon/national public relations; moved to Chicago as Editor/Publisher of oldest educational-AV journal, reformed as AV GUIDE Magazine; then established and operated Learning Media Associates as general communications consultant group. Due to wife’s illness, he returned to Oregon in 1981, semi-retired, and has continued writing intermittently ever since, joining S-N in 2004. His Op Eds now total over 650 written since then.
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