Political News Roundup

Jeff Alworth

News: Republicans for Kerry

About a dozen influential Republicans launched a new group Thursday. They gathered in Portland's Waterfront Park to announce the Oregon Republicans for Kerry Steering Committee.'

Comment: The Reagan Democrat is now the Kerry Republican.


News: Nader backers say they've got just enough

Still, the Nader campaign appeared to have cleared its highest hurdle at 4:35 p.m., when it delivered to the Oregon Elections Division what it said were 17,911 signatures that had been ruled as valid by more than a dozen county clerks. Later, Anne Martens, spokeswoman for Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, said the Nader supporters turned in 18,186 names. Either total would exceed by more than 2,000 the 15,306 valid signatures required to place Nader's name on the Oregon ballot as an independent, alongside those of Republican President George W. Bush and Democratic Sen. John Kerry.

Comment: The Nader progressive is now the anti-Bush progressive. With a gaping ravine opening up between Kerry and Bush numbers, it hardly matters whether Nader makes the ballot or not.


News: Number of families in poverty increases

In Oregon, the two-year average for median household income in 2002 and 2003 was $42,199, the census figures showed, down from $42,825 the year before. That decline was within the survey’s margin of error, meaning that statistically, incomes have remained flat since last year.

During a longer period, however, the drop was indisputable. Oregon median incomes dropped $3,000 from a peak of $45,100 in 1999 and 2000, the figures showed.

Comment: Good thing Oregonians received that hefty tax cut from Bush. They hardly miss their old jobs.


News: Democrats move to limit lobbying

House Democrats laid out broad proposals Wednesday to curtail lobbyist spending on behalf of state lawmakers and their families, along with other reforms meant to limit special-interest influence.

The proposal would limit the amount of gifts from lobbyists to public officials, close reporting loopholes, bar legislators from becoming paid lobbyists for one year after they leave office, and require three days of public notice before public hearings. Speaker of the House Karen Minnis ridiculed the plan.

Comment: Dems offer a wholesome meal of public accountability but the GOP says, "let them eat cake."


News: Coalition launches drive for new state budget process

A coalition of Libertarians, tax activists and a pair of Republican legislators kicked off an effort Thursday to make the state budget process more transparent to taxpayers and to limit spending to actual revenue.

The key, said Tom Cox, a Libertarian Party House candidate and former state party chairman, is a one-page budget to be passed by the House -- with spending details to come later.

According to the New Budget Coalition's proposal, the House also would require that every spending bill fit within the confines of the summary budget, or it could not come up for a vote.

The focus, Cox said, "would be on the budget process rather than on budget numbers."

Comment: Shorter Cox: "Bush proved that budget numbers don't matter. We won measure 30; this is our due." (Apologies to Dick Cheney.)


News: Prosecutor who attacked Kerry admits lying to boss

Clackamas County prosecutor Alfred French, who called Sen. John Kerry a liar in a political commercial, acknowledged Thursday that he lied to his boss when confronted about an extramarital affair with a colleague.

Hours later, the Clackamas County district attorney's office said French had been placed on a 30-day paid leave while it conducts an investigation into his conduct

Comment: I'll let you fill this one in....

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    Medford Mail Tribune reports on an vet who back Kerry's story that the swiftboats were under fire. (Vet doesn't plan on voting for Kerry)

    Note: link will take you to my original 527 post. Scroll down to the bottom for quotes from the AP article. (Couldn't directly link as the site requires a password)

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    Of course, the SEIU reports that Nader's petitions are faulty. It's my experience that election law tends to leave a lot to discretion. From the Oregon AFL-CIO newsletter:

    An outside review of the signature sheets submitted by the Ralph Nader for President campaign in Oregon shows that the candidate may not have enough legal signatures to make the ballot.

    The review, commissioned by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), found that the petition sheets delivered to the Oregon Secretary of State include at least 1,755 pages that do not meet state election requirements. If all of these sheets are disqualified, it is highly unlikely that the campaign would have enough valid signatures to secure a place for Nader on Oregon’s ballot.

    The pages in question were not numbered by the campaign, suggesting that they were submitted directly by individuals to county elections officials, rather than by the Nader campaign organization. Such submissions would violate state elections laws.

    The unnumbered pages also raise the question of whether outside groups illegally collected signatures to help Nader qualify for the ballot.

    SEIU has filed a complaint with the State Elections Division requesting that the illegal sheets be removed. To read the SEIU news release: http://www.workingfamiliesvote.com/cgi-bin/display.cgi?page=SEIU82604

  • brett (unverified)

    There were no major statewide figures among the 21 members of the newly formed Oregon Republicans for Kerry group.


    Hmm, yeah, I guess Kerry is so popular that he is drawing support from Republicans.

    "While 3% of voters who called themselves Republicans said they would vote for Kerry, Bush drew 15% of all Democrats, and 20% of Democrats who consider themselves moderate or conservative, the poll found."


    Oops, never mind. I'm so glad that my tax dollars pay for OPB.

    It's pointless anyway -- Oregon is a lost cause for Bush.

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    I'm so glad that my tax dollars pay for OPB.

    That old saw doesn't sing anymore. The state cut all funding to OPB after the fiscal collapse a couple years ago.

  • Pedro (unverified)

    I guess Brett has been drinking Lars Larsen's coolaid. OPB has been completely off the dole for a couple of years at least and State support was declining rapidly for several years before that. Lars still complains on the air that his tax dollars are supporting OPB and a call to his producer a couple of months ago didn't get him to stop his disinformation. I actually like the fact that OPB isn't under the thumb of Karen Minnis and her wrecking crew any more.

  • Marcello (unverified)

    Brett, on the subject of people who voted for Bush and are now supporting Kerry, did you see the endorsement of Kerry by the Seattle Times?


    "Four years ago, this page endorsed George W. Bush for president. We cannot do so again — because of an ill-conceived war and its aftermath, undisciplined spending, a shrinkage of constitutional rights and an intrusive social agenda.

    "The Bush presidency is not what we had in mind."

  • Suzii (unverified)


    Oops, never mind. I'm so glad that my tax dollars pay for OPB.


    Brett, are you implying that oregonlive is related to OPB?

  • brett (unverified)

    I'm glad to hear that OPB doesn't get funding from Oregon any more -- I didn't know that. But it does from the feds:


    and I pay a lot more in federal taxes than state ones, as do all of you.

    suzii: No; the original article quoted by Jeff was from OPB. I wouldn't expect it to be objective anyway.

    It just struck me that a bunch of moderate Oregonian Republicans - surely more liberal than millions of Democrats in the South - could make news by supporting Kerry.

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    Not to belabor the point, but grants are available to a huge range of organizations--which, if Americans got to vote, would all be cut. If your beef is with government spending on things with which you don't agree, this is an argument against the basic foundation of democratic governments. Obviously, as a pacifist, I have a far larger criticism of where my dollars are spent. But that's how it goes in a lovely country like we have.

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    Nader Attorney Acknowledges Petition Problems Told Court About Invalid Signatures On PA Nomination Papers


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    Nowhere else to put this at the moment, so: KOIN 6 News reduced attendance at the NYC protest to there simple word "thousands" -- despite the fact that at this hour the most common reported figures are "more than 100,000" with late AP and Washington Post staff reports putting it at "more than 200,000" and the New York Times using "hundreds and thousands" and reported that it's the largest demonstration at a political convention ever. KGW meanwhile reported on the air using the "tens of thousands" phrase -- even though (1) their own website is using the "more than 100,000" figure and (2) they know full well that using "tens of thousands" makes people think 30-40,000 people or thereabouts.

    The root in the word "news" is the word "new" -- so what's new about this event? Well, perhaps what the Times reported: That it's the single largest demonstration at a political convention in American history.

    But no, local news would rather report "tens of thousands" in a nearly blase manner, if not the utterly incorrect "thousands" (but we already know that KOIN 6 News stands by its lies-as-reporting technique anyway), rather than actually report in any way that reflects the actual significance of the event. Presumably because they're been whipped into submission out of the fear of being see a biased, even in cases where what they'd actually be doing is reporting on reality.

    Feh, and a pox on them all.

  • raging red (unverified)

    Presumably because they'[v]e been whipped into submission out of the fear of being see[n] a[s] biased, even in cases where what they'd actually be doing is reporting on reality.

    Unfortunately, given the media's recent record, this isn't "news" either. See: the Swift Vets. As they so expertly satirized on The Daily Show last week: "Those incontrovertible facts [Kerry's and the SBVT's own military records] are only one side of the story," rather than being the end of it. I am left to wonder, what the hell are they teaching in journalism school these days anyway? Or maybe it's just that all of the "media whores" were the C students, like our current President. I second the pox.

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    The real question will be how critically the press follows what is sure to be the most disengenuous convention in history. While the GOP rolls out moderates and faces of a diverse America that doesn't actually support them, Bush and Co. will continue with radical right-wing policy. Interesting thing is: will the press report the facts--what four years of a Bush record demonstrats--to contextualize the spin or merely parrot back the lies the GOP offer.

    I doubt anyone will give very good odds to the former.

  • Tim (unverified)

    Just to put some numbers behind the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Funding:

    Federal Government Budget in 2003 from http://a255.g.akamaitech.net/7/255/2422/02feb20041242/www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/fy05/pdf/budget/tables.pdf

    $1782 Billion

    Funding for Corporation for Public Broadcasting from http://www.cpb.org/about/funding/appropriation.html:

    $362.8 Million

    For a whopping 0.02% of your Federal tax dollars going to support Public Broadcasting.

    And from http://a255.g.akamaitech.net/7/255/2422/02feb20041242/www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/fy05/pdf/budget/agencies.pdf

    The FCC gets $273 million in licensing fees with a budget of $293. You could argue that some of that $273 should be applied to further reduce the expenditures on the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

    Now how much of that goes to OPB? That info is not readily available, but OPB has to compete with 1000 other grantees. That 0.02% would be pushed down by at least an order of magnitude.

    I venture to say if you don't support the corporate welfare of the military industrial complex spending, your rights are much more infringed than by not supporting the meager spending on public broadcasting. Why do we always end up discussing the expenditures that are insignificant amounts of what your tax dollars go to but we can never discuss true fiscal responsibility and review the largest expenditures? Sounds like blind ideology to me.

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    Interesting that you should mention this, Tim--that's sort of the point I made on yesterday's post. We talk about minor issues (right now, the GOP convention is a masterwork of discussing minor issues--and avoiding the issues that the GOP will actually force down our throats after the election) because these are the "controversial" issues. Transfering federal funds from programs that benefit the middle class to pay for tax cuts to the wealthy is, strictly speaking, not controversial. Better to talk about abortion--an issue already long established in law that will occupy exactly 0% of policy discussions after the election.

  • Tim (unverified)

    I have recently finished reading "What's the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America" by Thomas Frank. (http://www.powells.com/cgi-bin/biblio?isbn=0805073396) which incidentally you can also check out from the Library.

    Frank makes a convincing argument about how abortion drives the new(er) hard right conservatives. The idea is that many new conservatives of the Christian middle America variety vote primarily based upon non-winnable cultural issues, the most prominent which is abortion. This despite the fact that there is little if any chance of outlawing abortion in the short term. Republicans then pander to those social beliefs while ramming through an economic agenda that actually hurts the very working class people who are supporting them. Moderates are marginalized on both the local and national levels.

    So the summary is pander to culture war issues. A recent example is Bush suggesting a gay marriage constitutional amendment that he knows can't pass and therefore he will not have to expend any political capital on. Yet he can tout this to religious conservatives as his commitment to a blind Christian right/wrong view of the world.

    Anyway, Frank has some interesting theories on the roots of modern conservatism. It's a quick easy read too.


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