Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Finally, just one week left

Mitt wishes you a Happy Halloween
If there is any good news out of "Frankenstorm" that pounded the eastern seaboard is that it kept politics off the top of the evening newscast.

One of the worst things about our democracy is the seemingly interminable presidential election cycle.

From the TV ads to the debates to the newscasts devoid of any real substance, this election just begs to be over.

Almost all of the $2 billion raised by the Republicans and Democrats goes towards TV advertising.

In order to keep that revenue flowing, TV news stations hype the presidential race to ridiculous levels rather than give viewers information that is useful.

Yes, the presidential race is close, if you look at the national polls of the popular vote, with Mitt holding a slight edge.

As we learned in 2000, though, the popular vote means nothing compared to the electoral vote (EV) count. The winner needs 270 EVs.

And, we know that there are three battleground states (Ohio, Florida and Virginia), but that Ohio is the key to it all.

And, in Ohio, about four counties will decide the next president of the United States. Those counties have balloting machines owned by a company with ties to Romney by way of Bain Capital.

News events, including Hurricane Sandy, probably will have little impact on the race, unless the power is still out.

With that said, President Obama still has a tenuous lead in Ohio. Republicans appear to be turning out better in early voting than they did in Ohio in 2008. Conversely, Democrats appear to be doing much worse than they did 2008 in early voting there.

And yet, the number crunchers at Real Clear Politics, a right-leaning website, give President Obama the edge to claim 281 EVs.

A professor with a civil engineering background in Orange County, Calif., used his computer model to forecast President Obama's reelection. He thinks Obama will get 286 EVs. Predicting this in one of the most Republican areas of the country could put the professor's life in jeopardy.

The Intrade gambling folks, who only care about money, still show President Obama with better than a 63 percent chance of winning.

At fivethirtyeight, Nate Silver, who is a left-leaning numbers guru, is still giving President Obama about a 73 percent chance of winning with 294.6 EVs.

Meanwhile, the Princeton Election Consortium sees Obama taking 305 EVs.

We can only hope.

Still, many right-wing blogs are predicting a 5 percent to 7 percent Mitt victory. They claims the polls are biased because they under-represent Republicans.

Commenters on political stories on the Wall Street Journal and Fox News websites are confident that Mitt will blow the president away. Whenever the Journal runs stories that suggest perhaps the president has a slight lead, these ranters accuse the Journal of being another left-wing rag.

Progressives, though, are nervous.

I think both sides can agree that the sooner this thing is over, the better.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Why do corporate czars hate Obama?

Thrifty rental car bumper sticker
Check out this story on how corporations have done better under President Obama than all of our presidents in history since 1900.

And yet, corporate honchos are threatening their own workers if they vote for President Obama.

They even have bumper stickers to show their disdain for a president under which they have made record profits. Check out this story about bumper stickers on Thrifty rental cars in Buffalo that say: "Vote for the American."

Well, we know that since American corporations would rather see millions of Chinese have jobs that once went to Americans, we know who is a real American and who is not.

Republicans say that regulations have stifled corporate America.

Well, guess what, America could soon overtake Saudi Arabia as the world's largest exporter of oil. 

Obviously, President Obama's policies have NOT stymied oil companies from record output and record profits.

That hasn't stopped oil companies from taking all that cash they've gouged from drivers and pumping it into GOP's coffers.

American corporations claim that they alone create jobs. They do. In China.

If you want a real American, re-elect President Obama.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Not much of an early turnout in Deschutes County

We've had our ballots for a week now and the Deschutes County Clerk's office is reporting just a 19 percent return rate. My ballot is in.

Statewide, the Secretary of State's office is showing the turnout by party as 16.4 percent by Democrats, 15.8 percent by Repubicans and 9.5 percent by non-affiliated voters.

Oregon, of course, was the first state in the nation to go to all-mail balloting in 1998.

Consequently, Oregon has one of the highest turnout rates for presidential elections at over 80 percent. It was nearly 86 percent in 2008.

Still, the turnout so far suggests a lack of interest compared to four years ago.

In fact, the primary last May had the lowest turnout since 1960.

That was to be expected since President Obama was the nominee for the Democrats and since the Republican field was so weak and weird with Willard (Mitt) Romney the presumptive nominee.

It doesn't seem, though, that the get-out-the-vote efforts from either party are producing big results in Oregon.

The Beaver State is not considered a toss-up state, but President Obama's expected margin of victory should be less than it was in 2008 or in the 5 percent range.

That doesn't mean Oregon voters are smitten with Mitt. In spite of a sizable Mormon population in the state, particularly in Bend, the Mitt-wit does not energize the GOP here.

He's a one-man, voter-suppression machine.


'My party is full of racists'

The truth hurts.

Below is the story from the Huffington Post about the reaction from a retired Army colonel about the Republican response to Colin Powell's endorsement of President Obama:

Colin Powell's former chief of staff condemned the Republican Party on Friday night, telling MSNBC's Ed Schultz, "My party is full of racists."
Retired Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson made the comment in response to Mitt Romney campaign surrogate John Sununu's suggestion on Thursday that Powell's endorsement of President Barack Obama's re-election was motivated by race. Wilkerson, who served as Powell's chief of staff when the general was secretary of state during the first George W. Bush term, told Schultz that he respected Sununu "as a Republican, as a member of my party," but did not "have any respect for the integrity of the position that [Sununu] seemed to codify."
When asked by Schultz what, if anything, the remark said about the attitudes of the Republican Party, Wilkerson said:
My party, unfortunately, is the bastion of those people -- not all of them, but most of them -- who are still basing their positions on race. Let me just be candid: My party is full of racists, and the real reason a considerable portion of my party wants President Obama out of the White House has nothing to do with the content of his character, nothing to do with his competence as commander-in-chief and president, and everything to do with the color of his skin, and that's despicable.
The retired colonel also said that "to say that Colin Powell would endorse President Obama because of his skin color is like saying Mother Theresa worked for profit."
Powell, a Republican, endorsed Obama for the second time on Thursday morning --he also backed the president in 2008 -- saying on CBS' "This Morning" that he was "more comfortable with President Obama and his administration" than with Romney on a host of issues.
Sununu, no stranger to incendiary rhetoric this election cycle, reacted to the endorsement on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight," saying that "when you take a look at Colin Powell, you have to wonder whether that's an endorsement based on issues or whether he's got a slightly different reason for preferring President Obama."
Obama himself dismissed Sununu's suggestion on Friday, telling radio host Michael Smerconish:
Any suggestion that Gen. Powell would make such a profound statement in such an important election based on anything but what he thought was what's going to be best for America doesn't make much sense.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Positive news on polls

It's hard to make sense of all the polls that show conflicting results for the same race and state.

Like Ohio.

President Obama continues to lead in Ohio, but the advantage is either within the margin of error or above that same margin.

Well, here's an article that helps explain the differences between the polling methods used today.

Some outfits, like Rasmussen, use "robo-calls" of "likely voters," as opposed to "live" calls of likely voters.

Likely voters apparently are more valid than "register voters."

Robo-calls are computer generated. Live calls are people calling people.

The big difference between the two methods is that robo-calling cell phones is prohibited by law, but live-calling is not.

Live-calling of likely voters evidently yields the most valid responses.

This makes sense since virtually no one under the age of 35 owns a land-line these days.

Conversely, robo-calls target older voters who tend to vote Republican.

Anyway, President Obama holds a larger lead in Ohio, about 4.5 percent, with live calls.

This is critical, because if President Obama wins Ohio, it is all over for the Mitt-wit.

So, this is good news for President Obama's chances of winning re-election.

However, as noted in the previous posting, a company with close ties to Mitt owns the voting machines in the key counties in Ohio that will decide the entire election.

It's crucial for the media to be vigilant of "irregularities" in voting results in those Ohio counties.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Trouble on election front

While the presidential election remains incredibly tight, there are some good and bad trends for President Obama.

The Intrade numbers are moving in his direction again, roughly 62 percent to 38 percent as of Thursday night.

Nate Silver at fivethirtyeight still gives Obama a 73 percent chance of winning even as the national polls show a dead-even race.

Obama is fading a tad, though, in Florida and Virginia, but retains a slight lead in the polls in Ohio.

However, the voting machines used in certain key counties in Ohio are owned by a company with ties to Mitt Romney.

It worked in 2004 when a Bush buddy at Diebold skewed results in Ohio in favor of Bush over Kerry.

Also, states with Republican governors or legislatures, from Pennsylvania to Florida to Virginia to Colorado to Ohio have worked hard to slant the election toward Republicans by repeatedly purging voter rolls, even of citizens who are entitled to vote. They also tried to suppress the vote by passing voter I.D. laws that most courts said were discriminatory.

Republicans are the first to cry "voter fraud" because they are the ones who are practicing it. Almost no one else is committing voter fraud.

The company that the GOP hired to register voters was fired because it committed actual voter fraud in Florida. 

It's gotten so bad that an affiliate of the United Nations is sending people, from countries with their own problems with democracy, over here to monitor our election.

And, if this isn't enough to hand the election to the Mitt-wit, he's got his buddies in the corporate world to threaten their workers if they vote for Obama.

Judging from these episodes, it doesn't appear America is that exceptional after all.

Monday, October 22, 2012

We rue the day

Ben Affleck directed and starred in 'Argo'
Having just seen "Argo," the entertaining movie of the astounding rescue of six Americans from Iran in 1980, it's time to look back at those emasculating times and wonder what it means today.

There are no direct comparisons with the takeover of the American Embassy in Tehran in 1979 when 52 Americans were held captive for 444 days until the day Ronald Reagan was inaugurated, to anything today.

Six diplomats escaped during the embassy takeover on Nov. 4, 1979.

They hid at the home of the Canadian ambassador for a couple of months before they were rescued by Tony Mendez, a CIA agent, on a ruse that they were scouting locations for a sci-fi movie called "Argo."

It was nice to be at the theater to hear almost a full house erupt in applause as the Americans, against rapidly diminishing odds, got out on a Swiss Air flight.

I'm sure there are a few who would equate the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya last month to the Iran-hostage situation.

Well, they aren't that similar at all. The murders of our ambassador and three others were tragic. The Iran-hostage crisis was one prolonged nightmare that still haunts us today with our continuing problems with Iran.

But, there are definite parallels to our invasion of Iraq.

In "Argo," the American embassy workers are portrayed as wimpy nerds. With their oversized glasses, ridiculous haircuts and elitist attitudes, they don't appear worthy of saving at all.

The CIA operatives, as portrayed in the film, are clueless, having been completely wrong about the Iranian revolution.

And the military, well, the few defenders at the embassy in "Argo" are simply ill-prepared and overwhelmed.

In our 2003 invasion of Iraq, the CIA found no evidence of weapons of mass destruction, on which the invasion was premised.

The military was ill-prepared to deal with improvised-explosive devices and scores of Americans were blown to bits.

And, the diplomats? Well, let's just say their attire and grooming improved, but they were as elitist, condescending and clueless as their counterparts were in 1979.

Yeah, let's disband the Iraqi military and ban former Baathist party members from having any say in the new American-imposed government.

That didn't work out too well.

What is also impressive about "Argo" is how it deals with the uncomfortable facts about how America laid the groundwork for the Islamic revolution, that's still sweeping the world today, by deposing a democratically elected leader and installing the Shah in 1953. We still rue that day.

Dictatorships don't work out too well, particularly when you torture and imprison thousands of your countrymen and women. But, that's what the Shah did, to our nodding approval.

Afterall, we got oil out of the deal. That's all we ever wanted.

We invaded Iraq for the same reason.

And, look what that has done to the Middle East. It's less stable now than any time in history.

The Arab Spring will do what it should: Allow self-determination of each country, from Libya to Syria.

They may choose Islamic governance, which is not good, but in the long run, it simplifies the potential conflicts. Instead of fighting a word like "terrorism," we would be fighting a country like Egypt or Syria or Libya.

It would be nation against nation and it's a battle we can win decisively and swiftly.

As President Obama debates Mitt Romney tonight, we should think of "Argo" and Iraq.

The president was handed a devastated economy and, for good measure, a complete mess on the international front. It will take years to undue the harm.

President Obama is on the right track. Mitt would takes us backwards to the Bush era.

We must move forward with President Obama.

If not, we'll rue the day.

Will Armstrong lose CCC title?

Now that disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong has been stripped of his seven consecutive Tour de France titles, will organizers of the Cascade Cycling Classic in Bend take away Armstrong's CCC title from 1998?

One can only hope. That's what happens when you dope.

The CCC is the longest, consecutively run stage race in America.

Armstrong won the CCC the year before he went on his unprecedented record run in France.

A former teammate of Armstrong's testified that he and his wife heard Armstrong admit using performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) as early as 1996.

As we all know now, Armstrong was not only using PEDs, he was also a ring-leader among his many teammates over the years. By getting them involved, Armstrong bet he could keep them silent.

Well, obviously, that strategy failed as many of his former teammates spoke out against him.

Armstrong is wealthy beyond most measures. His former racing teammates are not.

I always thought that Armstrong used drugs to get a competitive edge, so I wasn't terribly surprised when his sordid past caught up with him. I figured most of the racers were using PEDs.

Unfortunately, getting that "racer's edge" has always been a part of sports and always will be. Sometimes that edge is legitimate, many times it isn't.

Drugs or not, it is still impressive what Armstrong "achieved" especially after surviving testicular cancer.

In 25 years, I won't be surprised at all if performance-enhancing drugs, particularly the ones Armstrong used, are considered legal.

That's how the bicycle rolls.

Until then, yank Armstrong's CCC title.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Progressive voters' guide

The ballots are in the mail. We got ours today.

By mailing your ballot in sooner, rather than later, you'll be able to avoid all those annoying phone calls urging you to vote.

Below are my recommendations for the Nov. 6 election:

President: Barack Obama. The Mitt-wit promises to return this country to the halcyon days of the George W. Bush administration. No thanks.

Secretary of State: Kate Brown. Knute Buehler, her challenger, is a RINO and hypes the phony issue of "voter fraud." The only voter-fraud that has occurred recently is by Republicans.

House District 54: Nathan Hovekamp. His opponent, Jason Conger, is another GOP extremist who is anti-public education. He favors slashing government revenue, which would force more shortened school years.

Senate District 27: Geri Hauser. She would be far better than Tim Knopp, an extremist who supports gutting public education at all levels by supporting repeal of the state inheritance tax that rewards the few at the expense of almost all Oregonians.

Deschutes County Commissioner: Alan Unger. He's one of the best public servants we've had here. His opponent, Tom Greene, is a real-estate agent who gambled big on the local housing market and lost big. He now desperately needs a high-paying government job, which is a terrible reason to run for office.

State treasurer: Ted Wheeler. No competition.

Attorney General: Ellen Rosenblum. No contest.

Representative 2nd District: Anyone but Greg Walden. He'll win easily, but he's just an errand boy for the GOP.

Commissioner of Bureau of Labor and Industries: Brad Avakian. Again, no credible competition.

Supreme Court, Position 5: Nena Cook. We need more eminently qualified women on the state high court like Cook.

Court of Appeals: Tim Volpert. He's got a great list of endorsements. Check out his website.

Circuit Court Judge, 11th District: Beth Bagley. She easily beat all competitors in the primary, but must now win the runoff.

Bend City Council, Position 1: Barb Campbell. A weak lineup here, but she's better than her opponents.

Bend City Council, Position 2: Doug Knight. Not a strong slate here but Knight knows our local city government better than the rest.

Bend City Council, Position 3: Sally Russell. The incumbent, Kathie Eckman, has long overstayed her time on the council.

Bend City Council, Position 4: Jim Clinton. He's the only one on the council with brains and integrity.

Measures 77 and 78: House-keeping measures long overdue. Yes on both.

Measure 79: NO! Stop Realtors from increasing property taxes.

Measure 80: Yes and No. Sooner or later marijuana will become legal, as it should. But this Oregon measure is too open-ended to survive. A more limited measure in Washington will likely pass and Oregon should follow that lead. Not in favor of promoting vices, but if we tax marijuana to the hilt maybe the state can profit from it someday.

Measure 81: Yes. End use of gill-nets on the Columbia River.

Measures 82 and 83: NO on both. We don't need anymore casinos in Oregon.

Measure 84: NO! Keep the inheritance tax. We don't need to further slash funding for education including the fledgling OSU-Cascades.

Measure 85: YES! Corporations don't even care about getting a "kicker" refund. Let's fund education instead. It's our best way out of our current troubles.

Measure 9-86: NO! It's the wrong time for the Bend parks district to ask voters to spend $29 million on non-essential upgrades. Wait until the economy turns around and most in Bend will support it.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Do newspaper endorsements matter?

Salt Lake City Tribune endorses President Obama
Not really.

Maybe they had an impact 50 years ago, but newspaper subscriptions have plummeted since then.

In cities where you once had three daily newspapers, you're lucky to have one left that publishes every day of the week.

And yet, newspaper endorsements still get a lot of airplay in the digital age.

The most shocking endorsement, so far, occurred today when Utah's largest daily newspaper, the Salt Lake City Tribune, endorsed President Obama over Mitt Romney, a loyal Mormon, BYU grad and the "savior" of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

In an editorial titled "Too Many Mitts," the Tribune states:

"In considering which candidate to endorse, The Salt Lake Tribune editorial board had hoped that Romney would exhibit the same talents for organization, pragmatic problem solving and inspired leadership that he displayed here more than a decade ago. Instead, we have watched him morph into a friend of the far right, then tack toward the center with breathtaking aplomb. Through a pair of presidential debates, Romney’s domestic agenda remains bereft of detail and worthy of mistrust.
Therefore, our endorsement must go to the incumbent, a competent leader who, against tough odds, has guided the country through catastrophe and set a course that, while rocky, is pointing toward a brighter day. The president has earned a second term. Romney, in whatever guise, does not deserve a first."
It's worth reading the entire editorial and, of course, the apoplectic comments afterward.
I expected this editorial in the New York Times, but in Utah's largest daily newspaper?
Not in a million years.
This does not mean that President Obama will win Utah. No, he'll lose by 80 percent to 20 percent or worse, so the Obama endorsement doesn't matter.
But, Mitt will lose, by wide margins, the state (Michigan) where he grew up, the state (Massachusetts) where he governed and the state (California) where he's adding an elevator for his cars at his seaside mansion.
Yet, the earthquake the Salt Lake City Tribune delivered with its take-down of Mormon Mitt is likely to reverberate across the landscape. 
It also means that the Tribune did itself no favors in trying to hang on to its declining readership. In fact, this endorsement could put the Tribune out of business.

Knute Buehler is a RINO

Did you know that "Republican" Knute Buehler held a fund-raiser for Democrat John Kitzhaber when he was running for a third term as governor in 2010?

Here's a graph from a recent story in The Oregonian

"Neither Patty, who is an ophthalmologist, nor Knute, an orthopedic surgeon, have been lifelong Republicans. In 1992, while working 100 hours a week as residents at Oregon Health and Sciences University, the couple also worked for independent candidate Ross Perot's presidential campaign. Sometime after that, Knute Buehler says, he joined the GOP. But that didn't keep the couple from holding a primary fund-raiser at their home for Democrat John Kitzhaber when he was making a campaign for a third term."

Also, getting endorsed by The (Eugene) Register-Guard and Willamette Week is total proof that Knute is a RINO.

Of course, being a Republican in Name Only or RINO could help Knute be the first Republican elected to a statewide office as secretary of state in Oregon in more than a decade.

But, being a RINO in Bend has its pitfalls. 

Chris Telfer learned this the hard way when the sitting state senator was ambushed by a cabal of male legislators from Central Oregon and lost the GOP primary last spring to extremist extraordinaire Tim Knopp.

Tom DeWolf, former Deschutes County Commissioner, was chased from office in disgrace by outraged Republicans because DeWolf was a RINO.

Buehler should watch his back because if he doesn't pass the local GOP litmus test of being anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage, and if he stoops so low as to work with Democrats like Gov. Kitzhaber, then he will be toast in Bend.

That's not the only problem for Knute. His ads make it sound like he's running for governor, when he is just running for secretary of state.

Knute, like most Republicans, claims that government can't create jobs but is running on a platform of "creating jobs." 

Evidently, he plans on hiring a boatload of people at the secretary of state's office. That's the only way he'll be able to create any jobs. 

Knute, though, has jumped on the voter-suppression band-wagon that Republicans nationwide drag through the states like a bum on skid road.

There is almost no evidence of voter fraud in this country. Yes, a handful of cases have emerged nationwide in the past decade, but that is hardly a "crisis."

The only recent cases of "voter fraud" are linked directly to the Republican Party, first in Florida and secondly in Oregon.

It's obvious that those crying "wolf" about "voter fraud" are engaging in voter fraud themselves.

Sorry, Knute. Kate Brown deserves to serve as secretary of state for another term.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Why Mitt's unfit to lead America

First off, Willard "Mitt" Romney does not support our troops.

No one, including himself, his immediate family, not his five sons, nor any descendants on his mother's or father's side of the family, has ever served in the U.S. military.

This includes:

The Civil War
World War I
World War II
Desert Storm

Yet, Mitt says he supports the military enough to send other American sons, daughters, husbands, wives, mothers or fathers off to harm's way. Just not his own.

Secondly, Mitt evades supporting our troops with his considerable wealth by shielding it from American taxes in accounts in the Cayman Islands and in Swiss banks.

If the future president of the United States does not believe in this country enough to keep his money here to support our troops in combat, or encourage his sons to serve this country, then he is unfit to be commander in chief of those troops.

Thirdly, Mitt claims he will make life easier for small businesses.

Well, let's look at his record.

The Mitt-wit's greatest claim to fame is that Bain Capital helped create Staples, the office supply, big-box company.

The fact is that Staples helped wipe out all those small office-supply companies in every town throughout the country. Those companies were owned by small businessmen and women. Instead of having family-wage jobs, those individuals and many more were left with minimum-wage jobs at Staples.

The point is this: If you have a small business that hasn't been destroyed by corporate America, it will be under Mitt Romney. You can bank on that.

Fourth: The 47 percent. Mitt truly believes that nearly half of the people in this country are bums trying to scam a living off of the government. What he really means is that he will do everything he can to prevent that 47 percent from letting the other 53 percent from scamming a living off of the government through tax breaks and giveaways to the wealthy.

Fifth: Mitt has no core beliefs. He was for abortion before he was against it, because he desperately needed the social-issue wingnuts of the Republican Party behind him. He passed "Romneycare" in Massachusetts before he was against "Obamacare" nationally, because he needed the support of teabaggers. He signed anti-assault weapon legislation in Massachusetts before he was against such legislation for the rest of America because he needed the backing of the NRA.

Sixth: Mitt claims he was a job-creator as governor. In fact, Massachusetts ranked 47th out of 50 states in job creation by the time he left office. Maybe that's where he got that 47 percent figure of Americans he considers moochers.

Seventh: Mitt wants to limit the rights of women in equal pay, in equal access to opportunity and in control over their own bodies. Mitt is a former Mormon bishop and stake president in Boston. We all know that Mormons treat women as second-class citizens. Afterall, Mitt once had "binders full of women."

Eighth: Mitt promises to restore the policies of the Bush Administration, which brought this country to its knees.

Mitt is a kneeler, not a leader.

Mitt has no business representing this country.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Support education: End the corporate kicker

Oregon has a ridiculous "kicker" law that kicks back money to individual taxpayers and corporations whenever revenue from two-year-old economic projections exceeds 2 percent or more of estimates.

Naturally, when revenue slips below 2 percent or goes into negative territory, taxpayers and corporations don't have to make up the difference.

No, we just cut services, which in Oregon means cutting funding for education at all levels.

Ballot Measure 85 is simple: "Amends Constitution: Allocates corporate income/excise tax 'kicker' refund to additionally fund K through 12 public education."

Measure 85 doesn't touch the "kicker" paid to individual taxpayers.

Corporations have done well during the Great Recession. Nationally, they're hoarding cash in excess of a trillion dollars.

Oregon corporations don't even notice the "kicker" refund.

Here's a graph from an Oregonian story in the late 1990s:

"Jim Gaffney, a Portland accountant who handles corporate tax returns, said many companies didn't particularly notice the kicker money, even when there was a 50 percent tax credit last time.The reason is that the state's corporate rate is relatively low, and the amount of the onetime rebate does not have a big effect on a company's operation."

If the "kicker" doesn't matter to corporations, why are we giving it to them?

It certainly matters to public education in Oregon where we've had to repeatedly shorten the school year over the past decade to handle declining revenue.

If Oregon is going to cope with the international economic demands of the 21st century it has to invest more in public education. If we don't, we all lose.

Vote Yes on Measure 85, which ends the corporate "kicker" refund.

Hating Obama: GOP's losing strategy

This Getty Images photograph was taken
 Friday at a Romney/Ryan campaign
 event in Lancaster, Ohio.
What seems to drive support for Mitt Romney is the unbridled hatred for President Obama.

Such hatred existed for President Bush in 2004.

Hate didn't win then, and it doesn't seem like it's going to work now.

But, let's look at why people hated Bush in 2004 and why people hate Obama now.

When Bush took office in 2001, he was handed a budget surplus. He quickly whacked taxes down to erase the surplus.

After repeated warnings, Bush ignored the threat posed by al Qaeda, and consequently, 9/11 occurred.

In 2004, Bush changed our "war on terror" from Afghanistan to Iraq, which had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11. He did so without much help from our allies, which ended the international goodwill we enjoyed after 9/11.

Al Qaeda remained alive along with Osama bin Laden.

America had become known for practicing torture.

We now had two wars paid with credit cards issued by China, plus a continued tax cut. Oh, and a prescription drug benefit for seniors that was also put on a credit card.

Well, the deficit took off and running. Dick Cheney responded to critics of out-of-control spending by saying, "deficits don't matter."

Later, after winning in 2004, Bush presided over the greatest economic collapse this country had seen since the Great Depression.

It's easy to see why people hated Bush. He was inept, reckless and destroyed our standing in the world. He essentially handed over the federal treasury to Wall Street.

To say that President Obama was left a mess of staggering proportions is putting it mildly.

It was a disaster.

On the night President Obama was inaugurated, Republican lawmakers plotted to thwart any initiatives by Obama, no matter how good they were for the country. The GOP refers to this as "bipartisanship."

Let's see, President Obama was supposed to fix the economy in the first few months, according to Bill O'Reilly.

He was supposed to end the wars immediately upon taking office while simultaneously ending all terrorism directed toward the U.S.

He was supposed to close GITMO in Cuba without bringing detainees to the U.S. mainland.

He was supposed to balance the budget without raising taxes.

No stimulus was needed to prop up the failing economy.

Let American automakers go bankrupt, Romney said.

And we sure didn't need universal health care, his critics cried, even if it was paid for by the citizens themselves.

Well, Obama did pass a stimulus bill without any Republican support. Same with bailing out the auto industry. And "Obamacare."

He ended our invasion of Iraq and is now drawing down forces in Afghanistan after an initial surge of troops.

Oh, and Seal Team Six, at President Obama's order, got Osama in Laden.

The hate started piling up.

But, the economy is still not perfect. Could it ever be?

Even though the private sector has been adding jobs for months now and the jobless rate is the lowest since President Obama took office, and even though the auto industry is rebounding, Team Romney claims we're going backwards.

President Obama is also hated because he respects women enough to sign, as his first bill, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. He believes all women, regardless of faith, should have access to contraceptives from their insurer, if they choose to do so. They still have to pay their insurance premium so, no, taxpayers aren't footing the bill.

The uber-rich hate Obama because he wants them to pay a couple percentage points more in taxes than they're doing now. In essence, Obama believes the rich aren't doing enough and this has hurt their feelings.

Of course, Obama believes we could all do more to help our country and the world. And, he's right.

And then, there is the federal deficit.

For the first time in American history, the national debt is supposedly the most critical issue facing our nation. Coincidentally, it is the first time we have a president of African-American descent.

Yes, the deficit is a problem and yes, the Obama Administration has contributed to it, but at a slower pace than his predecessors. (See chart below)

But, that is what Americans really want. They want everything that politicians promise without having to pay for them.

With Obamacare, it is the first piece of legislation since Medicare in  the 1960s that asks Americans to help pay for it through a mandate.

And that really brings out the hate: Demanding people pay for something they need or want.

Of course, the hate lingers from the asinine assertions that Obama is a Muslim or wasn't born in America.

Let's hope that hate loses in November. Vote for President Obama.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Does the 1 percent need a tax break?

Obviously not.

But, that is what Oregonians must face on Nov. 6, when out-of-state interests believe they know what's best for Oregonians in pushing an initiative that further enriches the few at the expense of the many.

Clearly, out-of-state interests do not know what's best for Oregonians.

Measure 84, which repeals the state inheritance tax that targets less than 1 percent of Oregonians but negatively affects 99 percent of Oregonians, faces voters next month.

Like many states, Oregon is broke. It's contribution to public higher education has plummeted from around 70 percent 30 years ago to less than 10 percent today. Consequently, higher education is becoming out of reach for many middle class families let alone lower class families.

Repealing the inheritance tax, which only affects estates worth more than $1 million, would only make this trend worse. It would also imperil the nascent OSU-Cascades.

Plus, the idea that any American would prefer a long-discredited, European-style feudal state is ridiculous.

One of the founding principles of our nation was to reject the practice of wealth transference to relatives who have not earned it.

Why would we want to return to an era that produced revolutions upon revolutions?

The local daily paper, naturally, came out in favor of rewarding the 1 percent at the expense of basic services to 99 percent of Oregonians.

The daily has long argued that reducing revenue leads to growth. Well, the daily now must lay off more than 10 percent of its workforce because it no longer has the cash cow of government-mandated foreclosure notices to balance its books. Clearly, reducing revenues or income does not lead to growth.

The main argument against the inheritance tax, which affects less than 1 percent of Oregonians, is that it taxes income twice.

That is complete horse-pucky.

For those rare few who have inherited mega-millions from their parents, you have not paid 1 cent of taxes on those millions. Your parents did.

There is no documented case anywhere in the country where a family farm was lost due to the inheritance tax.

As Mimi Dudley Casteel, a second-generation family farmer, writes in the Voters' Pamphlet about Measure 84:

"It won't do anything to benefit family farms. Family farms worth up to $7.5 million are already exempt from the estate tax. The average farm in Oregon is worth less than $900,000 (including equipment) -- which is far below the threshold."

If Oregon is prevented, by passage of this measure, to collect taxes on unearned mega-income, then all Oregonians lose.

There will be less money for education at all grade levels, there will be less money for health care for all Oregonians, and there will be less money for public safety for all Oregonians.

Do Oregonians want to enrich the 1 percent at the expense of everyone else?

I hope not.

Let's ensure that the inheritance tax for the super-wealthy stays intact.

Let's ensure that all Oregonians have a shot at higher education, health care and a better way of life.

Vote No on Measure 84, which rewards the wealthy at the expense of everyone else.

Don't they have enough already?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Stop Realtors from increasing property taxes

A No vote on Measure 79 ensures that property taxes won't escalate even faster than they should.

Realtor organizations in Oregon and nationwide have pumped in close to $5 million promoting an initiative that is completely bogus.

There is no real estate transfer tax and no plans to enact a statewide transfer tax, which is imposed on sales of real estate.

Real estate agents rake in a ridiculous cut, up to 7 percent, on each sale of a home. A real estate transfer tax cuts into the Realtors' profit so they are vehemently against it.

A real estate transfer tax, if we ever had one, would be worthwhile because it would help temper the extreme spikes in the marketplace. Realtors helped cause the real estate market meltdown because they participated either directly or indirectly in the speculation game. Some real estate agents, like Deschutes County Commission candidate, Tom Greene, gambled big and lost big. That's why he is running for a job that pays double the state average. He needs the dough.

But, there is no real estate transfer tax and likely never will be.

We shouldn't, though, take the option off the table. Measure 79 prohibits any local government from ever enacting one, even if it would benefit the community.

By not having the option to diversify or broaden the tax base, it leaves property taxes as the only avenue for revenue. And, when that happens, property owners become rightfully irritated and tend to vote no on local bond measures even ones that would be in their best interests to pass.

And, when property owners vote no often enough, the community suffers in the long term.

When the community suffers, so do property values. When property values decline, so do the incomes of Realtors.

Don't let Realtors and their deep pocket organizations destroy our communities.

Vote NO on Measure 79.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Bad timing for parks bond measure

Park district wasted $8 million on new admin building
The abundance of parks in Bend make this place special. The recreation offerings add to the allure.

Who wouldn't want more parks or trails or recreational opportunities?

We'll see in November, but right now, with the economy still fragile in Bend, with a foreclosure rate that dwarfs the rest of the state and with other, more important bills on the horizon, a nearly $30-million parks bond will have to wait.

The Bend-La Pine School District is going to ask voters next year for nearly $100 million for new schools and improvement to others.

The city of Bend is upgrading its water system to the tune of at least $63 million.

Notice your water and sewer bill lately? I know one senior citizen who lives alone in a home on a city lot. Her water/sewer bill in August was more than $120. And, she had no guests during that month.

I know someone else who lives on a smaller city lot with one other person and they, too, have water/sewer bills over $125 a month during the summer.

In the last 10 years, Bend's water/sewer bill has increased each year at a clip that triples the rate of inflation.

In essence, the average homeowner's water/sewer bill has nearly doubled in the past 10 years. It's clear, with all the money the city is spending on upgrading the water system, that the average water/sewer bill will top $200 a month within the next 10 years.

This is the cost homeowners have to bear to subsidize developers and now our burgeoning beer industry  which threatens to overwhelm the sewer system.

The household income pie is only so large. It hasn't expanded much in the past 30 years, but the bills keep escalating. Throw in gas prices that drain the monthly budget, and there isn't much left over for luxuries like more parks and recreational offerings.

In addition, the park district, without asking voters, squandered $8 million on an administration building that added little value to the patrons of the park and rec district.

And, the park district has done a poor job in meeting the needs of seniors. After taking over the new Senior Center, it jacked up fees so high that it priced most seniors out of participating. Also, the park district won't even listen to the grievances of the senior citizens.

Sorry, park district. Water and school's are more important. And those bills are eating away at what the average homeowner can pay to the district.

Vote no on Measure 9-86.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Hovekamp for state rep

If Oregon House District 54 does indeed have more Democrats than Republicans, then it's time to restore some sanity in Bend and elect Nathan Hovekamp.

Hovekamp, an educator and former school board member, knows this community well and what it needs.

It doesn't need current Rep. Jason Conger, who is more interested in limiting the rights of women than he is in creating any jobs. Conger conspired with Tim Knopp to drive the only female legislator from Central Oregon, fellow Republican Chris Telfer, from office. That was shameful.

Conger is an extremist on social issues and is out of step with most Oregonians including most of the people who live in his district.

Also, Conger claims he is pro-public education yet he home-schools his kids.

Conger backs repeal of the estate tax which will cost Oregon millions of dollars, further damaging public education at all levels.

Conger backs Realtors as they try to push an increasing property tax burden on homeowners by banning any attempt by the government to even consider a real estate transfer tax. The transfer tax eats into a Realtor's profit and so they are vehemently opposed to it. Naturally, there is no real estate transfer tax in Bend and there are no plans to institute one.

By supporting measures that cripple the government's ability to raise money to pay for higher education or an expanded sewer system in Bend, Conger is anti-growth.

Also, by banning revenue streams that could offset higher property taxes, Conger favors saddling property owners with skyrocketing property taxes.

End the hypocrisy of Conger by voting Nathan Hovekamp as Bend's representative in Salem.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Four weeks away from E-day

As the presidential race tightens, Democrats are stunned to learn that President Obama squandered most of his lead after the first debate.

A new poll by Pew Research shows Mitt Romney up by 4 points nationally.

Likewise, a new poll from Gallup of "likely voters" rather than "registered voters" shows Romney up by 2 points nationally.

While these numbers give hope to Romney supporters, the national poll numbers are largely irrelevant.

The only polls that matter are in the swing states and there are only three left: Ohio, Virginia and Florida. Yes, those states are considered dead-even in a statistical sense, but Obama is leading, however tentatively, in Ohio and Virginia.

As I've noted before, Ohio is ground zero for both campaigns. If Romney loses Ohio, and I think he will, he loses the election. It does not matter one iota if he has a million more votes nationally.

As we discovered in 2000, when Al Gore had about 600,000 more votes than George W. Bush, the national popular vote means nothing.

It's all in the electoral votes (EV). This is where President Obama has the advantage. Nate Silver at fivethirtyeight.com still projects President Obama winning about 296 EVs. You only need 270 EVs to win.

Still, if President Obama performs as poorly in the second debate as he did in the first, and there is concern he could, then he would be in big trouble.

Also, don't overlook the voter-suppression efforts of the GOP. There were a number of "irregularities" in Ohio in 2004 when the exit polls showed a clear John Kerry victory. Look for similar shenanigans from the Republican party in 2012.

In the meantime, here's a piece about how the Romney campaign mismanages its money. Where Team Obama spends $500 for a TV ad buy, Team Romney wastes $2,800 for the same time-slot.

Clearly, Romney is no economic whiz.

This is what mega-millionaires do. They piss money away, because they can.

Imagine, what Romney will do with your tax dollars. He'll throw them away and force you to give him more.

Time to shelter your money in the Cayman Islands before Mitt gets his mittens on them.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Leave Pilot Butte open for all

Crumbling roadway is main hazard on Pilot Butte
There's been a little chatter recently about the potential, given all the foot and vehicle traffic, for a tragic accident on Pilot Butte State Park.

Some have suggested closing Pilot Butte to cars.

Well, after recently joining the 300-mile club on Pilot Butte, I don't see such a huge problem.

Yes, some cars go too fast up or down the butte and are too aggressive around those on foot. Slow down. The posted speed limit is 20 mph.

Yes, some hikers, bikers and people with strollers don't pay enough attention to others on the road and believe they have every right to be in the middle of the road. A courtesy sign in the beginning suggests walking up the shoulder.

First off, there is a road that goes up the butte. Cars are allowed and pedestrians should be watchful as they are on any street. It's wise to get out of the way of moving vehicles.

Secondly, the road, due to icy conditions, is closed for about half the year anyway.

Thirdly, not everyone is capable of or has the time to climb the butte.

Fourthly, while pushing a double-wide stroller up the butte is impressive, it comes with risks.

Fifthly, there is a dirt/gravel path alongside the roadway that accommodates most of the pedestrian traffic. However, it has some pebbles/rocks that make it difficult to push a stroller up or down it.

There is also another dirt/sandy/rocky path that parallels the road, but it's not good for strollers or bicycles.

Just as the few who don't pick up after their dog on the butte give all dog-owners a black eye, so do those occasional drivers, who believe they can just race up the butte, taint all drivers. Again, slow down and be respectful of others on the road.

One problem I see on the butte is the crumbling roadway, particularly on the east-facing side. Pieces of asphalt break off like cookie crumbles on the outside edge, which make the roadway even more narrow than it is.

This, in turn, can be really hazardous when cars cross each other at the same time as people are walking the butte.

The state needs to take better care of the road.

And everyone needs to be a little more considerate of their fellow traveler.

Friday, October 5, 2012

K-nope on Knopp for state office

Loren Parks, Tim Knopp's sugar daddy
Got a postcard flier in the mail the other day from "Common Sense for Oregon PAC" that supposedly gives a thumbnail sketch of the two candidates for a state Senate seat in Bend.

The flier asks you to mail the postcard of your preferred candidate to the PAC's office in Salem.

Well the mailer is another hit job from Republican Tim Knopp (yes, it rhymes with nope).

He's the master of dirty politics in Bend.

Last spring, he made a shocking entry into the GOP primary at the last possible moment and blindsided the incumbent, Chris Telfer.

It is extremely rare for Republicans to challenge a capable and accomplished office-holder.

But, Telfer had the misfortune of working with Democrats in Salem to pass legislation. She put the interests of the citizens of her district and the state instead of the interests of the GOP.

This mirrors the national trend. Republicans refuse to work with Democrats for the good of the country.

It's always party first for Republicans.

Well, Telfer got smeared by Knopp and was abandoned by other GOP legislators in Central Oregon.

Knopp, who previously served in the Oregon House of Representatives, has a big war chest of money in which to defeat Democrat Geri Hauser, a newcomer to elective politics.

He won't need much money because Republicans hold a substantial lead in voter registrations in the district.

This doesn't stop Knopp from slinging mud. He loves it. Afterall, he is a "family man."

Well, there was a little debate earlier this week in which Knopp got a taste of his own medicine.

One of Knopp's benefactors is a character named Loren Parks, the single biggest donor to mostly conservative causes in the history of Oregon politics.

But, Parks has a seamier, kinky side as reported here. In essence, Parks runs Psychological Research Foundation in which he has hypnotized several women to have sex with them.

Well, to her credit, Hauser pointed out in the debate that Knopp was a hypocrite for taking money from such a creep as Parks and still claim he's a "family man."

Basically, Knopp doesn't care where the money comes from. His standards are that low.

We don't need Knopp back in Salem. We don't need a hypocrite who puts party loyalty above all else.

Vote for Hauser.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

First take on first debate

Debate moderator Jim Lehrer of PBS, which Mitt said he would put out of business
Mitt Romney now says he won't cut funding to Medicare, education, the military or anything except taxes.

So, he's saying he'll increase spending while decreasing revenue.

This is the Reagan Revolution redux. It's what has brought us to our current fiscal cliff.

In essence, Romney is echoing Dick Cheney: "Deficits don't matter."

The federal deficit will explode under Mitt.

In order to pay for all this, Mitt will borrow even more from China.

In order to borrow more from China, Mitt will ensure that more American jobs are shipped to China.

Romney touted his years as governor in Massachusetts, but Bay State voters know Mitt well and he'll lose that state by 20 points in November.

Mitt will get a bump in the polls, but the electorate is dug in. It matters less to attract the "independent" voter than it is to bring our your base. In this respect, Mitt helped his cause tonight.

The Intrade numbers have already bounced toward Mitt. He's up to 32 percent.

But, 32 percent is a far cry from victory. Also, voting has already started in some states.

It may be too little, too late.

Vote No on grungy 'Grange'

This is not a casino. It's a Grange hall.
The first ad for "The Grange" talked about all the jobs it would bring to Oregon and all the money it would pay for schools.

The ad barely mentioned that "The Grange" hopes to be, pending voter approval, the first non-Indian casino in the state.

First off, how in the heck did they get away with stealing the name "The Grange?"

As stated on the The National Grange website, "The Grange, is a family, community organization with its roots in agriculture. Founded in 1867, the Grange was formed as a national organization with a local focus. Our members are given the opportunity to learn and grow to their full potential as citizens and leaders."

Grange halls still dot the rural landscape across Oregon. My wife and I celebrated our first snowy Thanksgiving here in 1985 at the Grange hall east of town.

"The Grange," however is a gambling mecca to be built in the Portland area, the most urbanized area in the state.

"The Grange" stands for everything that the real Grange is not.

"The Grange" is anti-family and anti-community. It takes money from the gullible and ships it to its underworld backers either here or abroad. The jobs it will provide are minimum wage and dead-enders.

Another ad from backers of "The Grange," claim that it will be the first casino in Oregon to pay taxes and that 25 percent of the gross profits will go to schools, police and other social services.

What a laugher.

You can be sure "The Grange" will never show a gross profit and will never pay any taxes to the state for anything.

That last thing this state needs is another casino.

It certainly does not need "The Grange."

Vote No on Measures 82 and 83.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Five weeks out: Quitting on Mitt?

David Horsey/L.A. Times
The betting crowd at Intrade is quitting on Mitt Romney.

He's attracting about 25 percent of the action, which is up three points from the weekend.

Last week, Mitt was at 27 percent.

But, that's just chump-change.

Apparently, the big donors are bailing on Mitt in favor of House and Senate races, according to the Fox Business channel.

Also, the polling numbers, particularly in the swing states where the election will be decided, keep favoring President Obama.

With substantial leads in Ohio, Florida and Virginia, it appears that Obama, barring some unforeseen calamity, could have this thing wrapped up early on Nov. 6.

If the election were held today, the networks would be calling this election for Obama a few minutes after the polls close on the West Coast.

The key is Ohio, where Obama has his biggest lead of 5.5 percent, according to the poll average at Real Clear Politics. On election night, focus on Ohio. When that state is called, hopefully for Obama, the election will be over.

All the votes in all the other states won't matter as much as they will in Ohio, where voting started today.

The other polling news out today shows Obama with a yawning 18-point lead among women voters.

While it is true that Mitt's lead among male voters is 10 percent, that number becomes less significant because far more women than men actually bother to vote.

In other news, Mitt's mate, Paul Ryan, claims only 30 percent of Americans want to live on welfare, as opposed to Mitt's 47 percent. The point is that these two men, should they be elected, will be looking to screw over the 47/30 percent of Americans. Now, that's leadership, at least the GOP variety.

Meanwhile in Pennsylvania, a judge thwarts the voter-suppression efforts of the GOP.

Republicans are always on the warpath about voter fraud, when there is little evidence that it exists at all in any significant numbers.

Except, where Republicans are attempting to commit voter fraud. The GOP was forced to fire its only vendor for registering people to vote in the swing states after substantial fraud was uncovered in Florida.

Somehow, that's not surprising.