Election News, 5 Days Out

Jeff Alworth

A little slow today; presumably everyone's taking a seat and catching their breath before the last great push (that, and the fact that 40% of the ballots are already in).

Voter Fraud
Nice to see that good, civic minded folk have taken the opportunity that increased voter interest affords them to ... rip off unsuspecting would-be voters.

Our tale comes from Oregon college campuses, where smiling students were greeted by folks representing themselves as petition-gatherers. But they were actually GOP-paid canvassers:

Many local college students unwittingly registered to vote as Republicans this month when they thought they were signing petitions to reduce car-insurance rates. Similar complaints about fraudulent voter registrations are emerging from around the state, and some people are wondering whether they can be traced to canvassers paid by the Republican Party. The canvassers are paid for each GOP registration card they collect.

Ah that Kevin Mannix, he's a real upstanding citizen, he is (and a guy who knows his ways around fraud laws).

The O ran a "Q&A" with Bush and Kerry about the environment today. By this time, if you don't know that Kerry is one of the greenest politicians and Bush one of the brownest, you're probably not reading BlueOregon. Still, a couple of interesting nuggets (highlighting mine):

4. About 10 percent of the Pacific Northwest's original old-growth forests remain. Should any or all of it be available for logging?

BUSH: The 2003 Healthy Forests Restoration Act protects big, old, fire-resistant trees -- so old growth will be protected. Restoration such as thinning will return unnaturally dense forests to more natural conditions, so they can mature into healthy old-growth stands.

11. U.S. taxpayers spend $600 million a year on salmon recovery in the Pacific Northwest. Should we continue this or consider changes, including the removal of hydropower dams?

BUSH: Dams stay in place. Salmon recovery is a top priority. Seeking $10 million more for the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund to assist states, tribes and local governments with projects; and reviewing federal hatchery policies.

13. The successes of the Endangered Species Act are few, and the law is expensive to enforce. Does it need to be repealed or rewritten?

BUSH: ESA must be updated so funds can be devoted to helping wildlife instead of fighting lawsuits. Greater success will come through voluntary programs that encourage stewardship by private landowners while respecting property rights.

Jim Feldkamp: part of the reality-based community?
DeFazio, feeling the heat:

Of the three "safe" congressmen, DeFazio is the only one facing a well-funded opponent.

As of Oct. 13, [DeFazio's Republican challenger Jim] Feldkamp had received $393,594 in net contributions. DeFazio's 2002 opponent, Liz VanLeeuwen, had raised $69,658 at the same point in that campaign.

Feldkamp said he thinks his chances of beating DeFazio are "pretty good."

Permit me a rant. The hot word of the election season is "surrogate." Everyone associated with a campaign, whether a volunteer, a supporter, an operative, an ally, or a member of the staff may be rendered as a "surrogate" in the press. Definitionally speaking, surrogate means "one that takes the place of another; a substitute." I don't actually mind the misuse of the word as much as the parroting of the word echoing throughout the mediasphere. For god's sake, people, is it possible for you to write a column without using a trendy cliche, demonstrating that you are merely regurgitating found news?

Ah, sorry--rant over. See you tomorrow.

  • Ivan Maluski (unverified)

    Bush's claim that he has protected old growth forests through the Healthy Forests Restoration Act is simply not true. One of the flaws of the Oregonian's Q & A approach is that actual policy issues were not analyzed and Bush was allowed to just repeat misleading information, unquestioned.

    While the Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HFRA) had some language protecting some of the largest trees in projects administered under the Act, it is simply wrong and misleading to claim that old growth is now protected because of the HFRA. Old growth logging under the Northwest Forest Plan is not part of the HFRA, and rollbacks of the Northwest Forest Plan as well as other Bush forest policy rollbacks have in fact made it much easier to clearcut old growth across the Pacific Northwest

    Meanwhile, the Healthy Forests Iniative (not to be confused with HFRA) is an extensive and confusing series of administrative changes of questionable legality that were enacted without Congressional approval. The HFI has opened up old growth trees in backcountry areas to accelerated logging under the 'healthy forests' rubric, including expanded use of 'emergency' logging rules to cut old trees down in controversial timber sales before a judge can hear the legal merits of a case, and the expanded use of 'categorical exclusions' to clearcut up to 250 acres in some cases with no environmental analysis.

    Finally, the HFRA itself has been largely unfunded by the Bush administration with most of the HFRA projects in Oregon being planned for backcountry areas far from the nearest community or home, according to a recent report by the US Forest Service.

    While old growth logging is moving forward rapidly under HFI and other rollbacks, Bush trumpets the weak old growth protection language in the HFRA as the end-all be-all on old growth logging - which is a complete fabrication. Of course, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), who cosponsored the HFRA, has been completely unhelpful here, trumpeting the same success as Bush in protecting old growth for his own reelection bid, while failing to highlight Bush's numerous attacks on our old growth, roadless areas, and environmental laws. Wyden effectively handed Bush a reelection issue at a critical time for our country, and has been silent when Bush has misled the public on his commitment to protect our environment.

    Here is an extended version of a letter I submitted to the Oregonian today in response to Bush's claim to have protected our old growth.

    To the editor,

    I was outraged to see President Bush’s false claim that he is protecting the last 10 percent of Oregon’s old growth forest (What about the environment?10/28/04). President Bush has systematically accelerated old growth logging and weakened bedrock environmental safeguards for the benefit of his timber industry campaign contributors. This administration has always favored cutting down the last of our old growth trees and logging our roadless wildlands.

    Bush never mentions that he tossed out the core rules of the Northwest Forest Plan that protected old growth dependent wildlife, wild salmon and clean water from destructive clearcutting. The Healthy Forests Act has nothing to do with the old growth logging Bush has increased by gutting the Northwest Forest Plan and through other rollbacks, which have accelerated conversion of healthy and diverse old growth forests into flammable tree plantations.

    Even under ‘healthy forests,’ old growth trees far from the nearest home or community have been cut down under Bush’s new ‘emergency’ logging rules.

    Rather than offering misleading information and half-truths, Senator Kerry’s answer that old growth will be protected and off-limits to logging was clear and straightforward.


    Ivan Maluski Portland, Oregon

  • Kent (unverified)

    On the subject of students being registered as Republicans. In the spectrum of voter fraud stories that I've been reading lately, I'm not sure if this ranks very high. I'd be pissed if I was one of those students and it would certainly sour me on the party if I was undecided. But when it comes down to voting, your party registration doesn't control who you vote for, at least in the general election. I'm not sure how Oregon's primary elections currently work. But for the general election, all those students are free to go vote for Kerry. So no real harm done except that the GOP is forced to pay for registrations that probably do not result in votes for Bush.

    I didn't read the link. Were the students actually registered to vote or was this a case of their registration cards being thrown away?

  • (Show?)

    I have a little election news to add - the news is actually good.

    84% voter turnout predicted this year. I'm not sure where the other 16% will be - presumably trapped under something heavy. But 84% is an awesome number. Projected 4% higher than 2000. Man we love to vote here. lol. 40% of ballots returned already. As everybody knows - when people vote, Democrats win.

    And this one surprised me - M36 too close to call at 50-46 w/ 5% undecided (hey, that math doesn't add up - that's what KATU is reporting anyway). And hopefully those who are undecided live by the "when in doubt, vote no" ideology. We could actually win this one. Anybody remember where 9 and 13 were polling this time in 92 and 96? I don't know how indicative those numbers would be but they're the closest I can think of.

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