Your Weekend Reader for June 1-2

by | Jun 1, 2024 | Weekend Reader | 0 comments

Welcome to June, Weekend Readers! Seems like it was May just yesterday. How time flies!

Here’s something that probably didn’t occur to you in the wake of Donald Trump’s conviction this week on 34 felony counts: The convictions may give a boost to efforts underway nationally to restore voting rights to felons.

Meanwhile, what did members of Oregon’s congressional delegation — and candidates for those seats — have to say about the Trump verdicts? If you were a Democrat, plenty, or so reports Jamie Goldberg of The Oregonian/OregonLive. Oregon Republicans, unlike their national counterparts, generally kept their mouths shut.

The $64,000 question here, or maybe the 270-electoral-votes question, is how (or if) the convictions will affect the November election. To paraphrase The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman — arguably the journalist who knows Trump the best — the answer is, nobody knows, and anybody who tells you they do is not telling the truth. But Nate Cohn makes a valiant effort to read the tea leaves of polling.

Speaking of the fate of democracy, as we just were, more or less, here’s an interesting interview from The Poynter Institute with Kira Lerner, head of the democracy desk at the Guardian US, about what she’s learned covering the democracy beat. (Many larger newsrooms launched similar beats after the Jan. 6 uprising.) One of the better points Lerner makes involves keeping a watchful (and sympathetic) eye on election officials, who increasingly are the targets of misinformation.

Nieman Lab has a piece tracing the rise of the phrase “fact-based journalism.” As it turns out — and this will shock you — the phrase, which now is being bandied about by legitimate news sources like The Associated Press, rose to prominence at about the same time as we started hearing officials in the Trump administration talking about “fake news.” But the authors of the piece argue that “fact-based journalism” raises a troubling issue: “To describe one form of journalism as ‘fact-based’ is to tacitly acknowledge that there is also such a thing as ‘non-fact-based journalism,.’ they write. “And there isn’t.” True enough, but I think that I still prefer “fact-based journalism” over some of their suggestions, such as “legitimate journalism” or “authentic journalism.”

It looks like that very tight race to elect a successor to Dan Rayfield in Corvallis’ House District 16 will be won by Sarah Finger McDonald. Benton County updated its election results this week and McDonald was holding a 181-vote edge over Sami Al-Abdrabbuh. (Remember, elections officials can count mailed ballots postmarked by the deadline that arrive in their offices for up to a week after Election Day.) What remains are 300 or so challenged ballots — these are ballots in which, for example, the signature on the envelope doesn’t match the one on file — that voters now have a chance to cure. Typically, only about a quarter of voters do so, and that wouldn’t be enough to change the results. In fact, even if all 300 of those voters cured their ballots, they would have to break roughly 250-50 in Al-Abdrabbuh’s favor to swing the race to him, and that seems unlikely.

As for Rayfield, he’s leaving the House of Representatives to run for attorney general, and — of course — he is the favorite in the race in heavily Democratic Oregon. But it may not be a cakewalk — perhaps shockingly, Republicans have nominated a candidate, Will Lathrop, who brings a solid resume and decent funding to the campaign. Lathrop also has the advantage of actually being a lawyer — something which some previous GOP candidates for the position could not claim. (Actually, the law does not require the attorney general to hold a law degree, but you can see how it could be a plus for the job.)

In this opinion column from the Oregon Capital Chronicle, writer Randy Stapilus takes a look at primary races in Multnomah and Yamhill counties and wonders if the results signal a desire among voters for candidates who are steering clear of ideological extremes and focusing instead on providing effective governance.

California is pondering following Oregon’s lead and legalizing the use of psychedelics in certain controlled conditions. It’s interesting that we haven’t heard much lately about how the rollout of psychedelics is going in Oregon, but I suspect that might be because the prices are such (and insurers are reluctant to start covering their use) that the therapy is out of reach of most patients. But I also suspect that will change over time: The evidence continues to say that psychedelics can be useful in treating depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction, and other mental health conditions.

Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft could yet launch into orbit this weekend, but Saturday’s scheduled launch was called off because a door fell off. No! Just kidding! It’s not clear at this writing exactly why automated systems put a hold on the launch with four minutes to go. The launch, which must occur within a one-minute window to rendezvous with the International Space Station, could still take place on Sunday — and would be a much-needed boost for Boeing. But the Starliner project has been plagued with difficulties for years, as Marina Koren explains in The Atlantic.

Are you worried about the lackluster box-office performance thus far of the biggest summer movies, with seemingly can’t-miss titles like “The Fall Guy,” “Furiosa,” “IF” and even “The Garfield Movie” performing below expectations? No? That’s probably the correct answer, as Shirley Li of The Atlantic explains in this story: Li talks to various experts, who outline all the odd (and unlikely to be repeated) factors that led to Hollywood’s chilly summer. But a couple of titles still waiting in the wings — “Deadpool & Wolverine” and “Inside Out 2” — could heat up the box office in a hurry.

That’s it for this weekend. Maybe I’ll see you at the movies — I want to get out to see “Babes,” if time allows, but the movie I’m really looking forward to, “Hit Man,” debuts next week on (of course) Netflix. We’ll compare notes next weekend.

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