Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Thank you, John Kerry

Prediction: Republicans keep the US House of Representatives.

Democrats will look back, crestfallen, and realize that Halloween was the day that ruined their dream, and John Kerry was responsible.

ABC News led with the story tonight, and they even quoted a Democrat congressman (didn't identify him) saying:

"It wasn't enough for John Kerry to blow the 2004 election. He had to blow the 2006 election as well."

Of course, lots of pundits are trying to minimize the damage, claiming that this won't change votes. George Stephanopolous even said that this isn't good for Republicans because "every day that is spent talking about Iraq isn't a good day for Republicans."

Balderdash. Kerry's remark played right into a core Rove/Republican theme for this election: Security. If national security is a big issue, how can you support a party that has such disdain for our soldiers?

Oh sure, they will say Kerry doesn't speak for the party. Fine, then - how many D's are out there condemning his statement and calling for him to apologize? Republicans in tight races get to spend the next week asking their opponents to demand that Kerry apologize to the troops. That will put their opponents in a real tough spot. This will have an effect.

Republicans don't really deserve to keep the House, and if it weren't for their opponents, they would probably lose it.

Thank you, John Kerry!

Update, Nov.1, 11:00 AM

Kerry is the gift that keeps giving. He has refused to apologize. He said that he just "botched" a line in a joke that was meant to attack President Bush.

OK, well what was the correct line, then? I've heard what he said dozens of times, and I don't see how a word or two here or there could transform the statement from a direct insult of the military into a slam on the President. If it was a botched line, Senator Kerry, then tell us what you meant to say!

He has also cancelled all his campaign appearances this week where he was appearing to help close House and Senate races. His spokesman released a statement saying he cancelled the appearances so they didn't want to:

"Allow the Republican hate machine to use Democratic candidates as proxies in their distorted spin war."

Thus ensuring that this issue spends another day in the news cycle. Who is giving this guy his advice? Or is he so arrogant as to not need any? There are seven days to election day. Tomorrow or Thursday he will finally capitulate and apologize, and then the wording of the apology will be dissected for a day at least.

John Kerry's insult to the troops should be at the top of the news into the weekend.

Thank you, John Kerry!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Deceptive ballot title

There's a ballot measure on the Multnomah County ballot that would establish a tax for the "West Multnomah County Soil and Water District."

The language of the "question" is totally misleading. Here is how it reads:

Shall the District have a permanent rate limit of $.0750 (7.5 cents) per $1000 assessed value beginning fiscal year 2007-08

The wording is obviously intended to make it sound like a tax LIMIT rather than a new tax. That's outrageous. Tell them no.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Tram cars arrive!

Sam (the tram) Adams was at the Port of Portland today for the arrival of the tram cars. He said something that totally surprised me. He said that the Tram was "on time and on budget!"

Really? I thought it was about $40,000,000 over budget, but I guess not. Sam must think that if you revise your budget to reflect an actual cost that is several time the original estimate, then you meet that revised cost, that makes it "on budget."

Sam must follow the following advice I once read:

"To ensure you hit the target, shoot first, and call whatever you hit the target."

Saturday, October 28, 2006

A great comment on one of my blog posts

The following was posted as a comment on the blog post where I critique the Oregonian's coverage of Measure 48. I thought it was so well worded and insightful that I should make it its own blog post:

By Anonymous

The Oregonian's Bob Caldwell is a careful and clever speaker whose words are narrowly true.

What is even more true is that the newspaper's local leaders have a pervasive influence that extends far beyond formal relationships. The reporters that get hired, or not hired, the dining out conversations, the social relationships, gossip on who is up and who is down, off-duty social contacts, and friendships in and out of the newspaper are all factors that signal to savvy reporters of where they stand in the complex web of newspaper relationships.

The supervisors who are hired, or fired, plum assignments granted, or withheld: all these reflect power and ideological relationships. All rivers of internal power flow from the top. Newspaper professionals have long had problems in being candid on these aspects of newspapers and their biases.

I suspect that no reporter works long at the Oregonian without understanding that frequent hard-hitting reports on teachers' union power and power abuse are not the way to reportorial permanency and power at the Oregonian.

Few indeed will be the reports on the billions of dollars that non-union Oregonians--that's most of us--have paid due to outsized teacher pay, benefits, and retirements.

Friday, October 27, 2006

A great illustration of why we need a spending limit

I was asked to stand in for Ron Saxton last night at a governor candidate forum at Lake Oswego High School in front of a couple hundred students and parents. Standing in for Ted Kulongoski was the state representative from the area, Greg MacPherson.

During the forum MacPherson made a statement that I still have trouble believing he said it. He was talking about keeping the corporate kicker to put in a rainy day fund, and telling the students how bad a deal Measure 48 would be. Then he explained that "Oregon already has a spending limit." How so? Brace yourself:

"State spending is limited by how much revenue it brings in."

There you have it. If there was ever a more forthright admission that the Democrat philosophy is simply to spend every dime that comes in, I have yet to see it.

When he made this statement I wrote it down so I could read it back when it was my turn. I said that this is precisely the kind of thinking that has gotten us into the fix we are in. If we spend every dime, not only will we never have a rainy day fund, but anytime the pace of revenue growth slows, the government and the school s will be in fiscal crisis.

It think the audience fully understood this rather obvious point, but it seemed lost on MacPherson, who appeared utterly unabahed as I made it.

As I drove home, I thought about the political environment that allows an otherwise intelligent person such as MacPherson, who by all accounts is a bright light in the Democrat caucus, make such a ludicrous statement.

The fact is, Democrats in Oregon can say the most ridiculous things and are almost never challenged. They avoid any arena in which they may be challenged on their positions (such as the Lars Larson Show.) The media literally never makes them defend their illogic. They say outrageous things all the time and never are held to account.

The cumulative effect is that the logical faculties of Democrat politicians are atrophied, or they never get developed in the first place. How else to explain an intelligent guy like MacPherson making such a ridiculous statement and then not even being embarrassed?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Another front page campaign piece

The front page story in the Oregonian today titled: "Educators See Pinch in Money Measures," was another good example of the Oregonian's use of the news pages to promote their editorial agenda.

Last week Bob Caldwell, chair of the editorial board, wrote that there is zero crossover between the editorial staff and the news staff. He wrote:

"Those of us in the editorial department do not participate in the newsroom's journalistic process. We do not assign, edit or write anything that appears on the paper's news pages. We do not decide how to display news stories. We do not attend story-planning meetings or even make informal suggestions about what might be newsworthy."

This may be true, strictly speaking. I've never said that the editorial staff actually intervened in the Oregonian's news coverage to bias the tone and content of the articles.

Rather, the constant bias we see in the news coverage on tax and spend issues comes from reporters who have such an ideological bias that they actually think they are being fair, but their perspective is so tilted that they literally do not understand how their coverage is biased.

Let me use today's article as an example. It is the second front-page-above-the-fold-story-with-large-color-photographs in a week on how Measure 48 would affect the government. Today's story has a little bit more of a bow to telling both sides than the article last week (which I critiqued.) But whole point of the article was to give the government class a forum in which they could tell grim stories about what would happen to their essential service if Measures 48 and 41 pass.

But here's the problem: In the universe of these reporters, balance means talking about the effect of the measures on government, and allowing some of the points made to be refuted by the measures' supporters.

That is not balance. Balance would be roughly equal articles talking about the effect on taxpayers if the measures fail!

Think about this: how many articles over the years have you seen in the pages of the Oregonian that told us what would happen if we didn't pass new taxes or if we voted to limit taxes or spending? Countless.

How many articles over the years have you seen that discussed the effect of various tax measures on the taxpayers? I can't think of a single one!

I'm waiting for the articles on the front page of the Oregonian headlined "Taxpayers see pinch in money measures."

They could interview working families who talk about how the library bond or the Multnomah county tax or the local option or the construction bond or the Metro land grab levy would result in them having less to spend on their kids, their clothes, the quality of their groceries, or their ability to have the mom at home instead of working to make ends meet.

They could interview entrepreneurs who talk about how the Portland BIT and the constant threat of new taxes proposed by government types makes them unlikely to try to expand in Portland.

When I see these stories, then I will happily congratulate the Oregonian for being unbiased.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

First Election

My 18 year old daughter, Jessica, got her first ballot in the mail today. It is fun to watch as she becomes civically involved, discusses the candidates and issues and comes to her decision on the questions of the day.

As a parent, of course, I have spent the last 18 years indoctrinating her in the values that I deem important. Any parent who says otherwise is either lying, or is not a very good parent. I use the word "indoctrinating" intentionally, even though I know a lot of folks would read it and think: "Parents shouldn't indoctrinate their kids, they should bring them up with good values and let them make up their own minds on the issues of the day."

Guess what? They are saying the same thing I am, just not as honestly. I'd ask these people: "Do you make an effort to teach your children about the values you deem important?"

That is indoctrination. Teaching your children the doctines by which you live, hoping they will also live by them. If that is not the job of a parent, I am not sure what is.

Does that mean my daughter is an ideological clone of me? Nope. I understand that I am only one of the many influences on her views of political and cultural isses of the day. She is taking her responsibility to cast informed votes seriously (another value of mine I've successfully indoctrinated her in!) and so she is finding he own path and coming to her own conclusions on the candidates and issues on this ballot.

But I can tell you, as a father, when she saw her ballot envelope on the dining room table today, recognized what it was, looked at me and smiled, I knew what she was thinking, and I was thinking the same exact thing. We shared this brief, unspoken moment. We both knew what it meant: she'd arrived at another signpost on the road to adulthood.

She has a vote. It's hers. She values what I think, but she will vote her mind. She can disagree with me, cast her vote, and not even tell me. And she knows that is A-OK with me. It is what growing up is all about.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Betsy Hammond responds

Betsy Hammond, author of the front-page story on the lessons Oregon should learn from Colorado's experience with Tabor which ran yesterday, and which I critiqued, sent me the e-mail below objecting to my post. I post it here with her permission:


Today's article is fully and factually reported. I talked to all three budget directors who have implemented Tabor in Colorado at length. and I am confidence the piece is correct about what happened in Colorado and, when taking into account the Q and A, is correct about how Oregon's spending limit would be the same and different.

As my article says, there is no requirement under Measure 48 that the Legislature save any revenues that come in over the limit, rather than rebate them or lower tax rates or create tax breaks so the money doesn't come in in the first place.

To say that money would always be there to patch up spending in a downturn is simply unsupported by the facts, Rob.

To say that the article did not give the positives of Tabor.... come on. It says it delivers government that costs less. It points out that Coloradoans got more than $3 billion in rebates. It says the typical household got $400 a year for four straight years. It quotes Owens about reining in spending during a boom. It quotes Hopkins about reasonable vs. inordinate growth of spending. It quotes Caldara about thinking outside the box. It says most people in Colorado aren't even aware there is a spending limit. It says community colleges managed to patch together some excellent programs and instruction on low budgets. It says that flagship universities remained strong. It shoulds that private sector development is thriving at Lowry.

The fact of it is, however, that the business community and most seasoned Republican budget writers have turned over-the-top negative on this thing. In fact I toned down what Brad Young, Bill Kaufman, Tom Clark, Rocky Scott, etc., had to say about a state spending limit. And these guys aren't sideline nutcakes. They're respected conservative and centrist leaders in Colorado.

Who exactly did you want me to quote that I did not as far as talking up the positive aspects of Tabor? A majority of the people I quoted are Republicans who like Bill Owens.... did you want me to interview a bunch of angry lefties or something?

I am copying reader [name deleted] on this email, because he just sent me an email that picked up much of the language and critique from your blog, Rob, and I think he should have this same info/perspective (rant?) that I am sharing with you.

Both of you guys can quibble with some of the headline, photography, packaging, etc., if you want. I didn't do that part. I will own up to the fact that we try here at The Oregonian to make things look vaguely interesting. But the content of the article and the charts and graphics is mine and it is complete and fair and accurate.

The spending limit promises less government, lower government costs and less services in some sectors of state government and that is what it delivers. It puts the decisions about what will grow and what will be cut in the hands of legislators, whose decisions we cannot predict (not precisely anyway) but whom we know will be constrained by voter mandates, federal rules and political reality.

The article does not say or imply that life would come to an end in Oregon under Measure 48. But it does imply we would notice, and that certain areas would really feel it. Whether the trade offs are worth it are up to readers/voters/citizens/researchers/whoever to decide.

Finally, regarding the ratchet, let me quote from an email I sent earlier to another reader on this subject: (The "you" and "yours" refer to that reader, not to you, Rob; I am just trying to save myself the time of rewriting the same content.)

Beginning to quote myself here:
The key error you make is to assert that Oregon's spending limit would not have a "ratchet" effect. In fact, Oregon's constitutional spending limit would do what Colorado voters now have fixed: Tie each of the state's budgets to the previous one.

(Reading directly from the text of the measure: "Any increase in total spending by the state from one biennium to the next shall be no greater than... population plus inflation....") That means that, if one Oregon budget happens to plunge (due to recession, Legislators' discretion, tax cuts or whatever) the limit for the next and subsequent budgets is reset at the new, lower limit. (Colorado last year fixed that problem, by tying the limit henceforth to whichever of the five years of revenue collections during this period of unlimited spending is the highest.)

You are correct that, to the extent our Legislature opts to create a state savings account, the odds are reduced that spending will plunge as sharply as Colorado's revenue did in 2001-02, because our lawmakers could use the savings account to prop up spending in a downturn. But creating a state savings account is optional under Measure 48, and our Legislature doesn't exactly have a track record of saving up big bucks.

It would be wildly inaccurate to say Oregon would always manage to spend up to the "popuflation" limit, even in a recession. And, if the Legislature does not come up with enough money to spend to the limit, the new limit would be "ratcheted" down to rise from that lower starting point.

You assert repeatedly that spending "can't" go down under Measure 48, which is patently false. The law would prevent spending from being greater than a certain figure each biennium, unless two-thirds of the Legislature and a majority of Oregon voters agree, but it would not prohibit spending from falling below any certain level.

Also, briefly:
- My article is correct when it asserts that the central premise of both limits, restraining the rate of government growth to population plus inflation, is identical.
- My article does point out that under Measure 48, Oregon is likely to sock money into a state savings account.
Ending my quoting of myself there.

If there are particulars of the article you take issue with, I am happy to address them.

Rob, your assertion that Colorado did not have a budget crisis in
2001-02 like every other state is so laughable that I won't even get into it. Hello????? If I hadn't spent two hours talking to the state budget director from that period maybe I wouldn't be so snide.... but believe me, it was ugly --- more so than in many states because they had to pay out $1 billion in Tabor refunds the same year their revenues plunged (order of magnitude here) 18 percent.

My article was rigorously reported. Your slam against me does not appear to be so. I have covered state tax policy and spending full time for a year now, and had analyzed PERS and state education spending in detail before that. ("new" to the beat?) My bias is toward math that adds up, evidence over rhetoric, facts and clear-headed analysis.

As you can probably tell, I feel your blog posting is extremely unfair and not supported by the facts.

-Betsy Hammond

Defining the narrative

Perhaps the most important task in a political campaign - indeed, in any public relations effort - is to "define the narrative." Once you have successfully defined the narrative, and the media and commentators have bought into it, the victory is pretty much in hand.

It's not, however, easy to do, especially for a Republican in Oregon where there are significant institutional obstacles. There's no formula. It's hard to know ahead of time which message will catch on and define what the race is all about.

As I watched the debate last night and thought about it afterward, I realized that Ron Saxton has defined the narrative in this campaign. It is his version of what the race is about, his version of Kulongoski's performance as governor, his version of what is wrong with the state that has been accepted and has set the terms of the race.

That is why I think Ron will win.

Remember the 1992 presidential race? Bill Clinton won because he got to define the narrative and the media bought into it. President Bush 41 was toast, because he was on the defensive from the start. The narrative then was that we were in the "worst economy in 50 years." Remember Carville's phrase: "It's the economy, stupid."

Clinton's campaign defined the narrative, and even though it wasn't really true (the economy was in recovery well before the election, and by the time Clinton took office, GNP growth was almost robust) the die had been cast. The media played along. Every piece of economic news that supported the narrative was on the front page. Items that contradicted it were generally ignored.

In this governor race, it hasn't been clear to me up until now who was winning the battle for the narrative. It's easy to see what each side wants the narritive to be, but it was not yet apparent which one was catching on.

For Ron Saxton, the narrative is "Kulongoski has failed and everybody knows it."

For Kulongoski, it is "Ron Saxton is an elitist."

It wasn't until last night that I saw clear evidence that Ron's narrative has won out. I thought Ron won the debate, but that is almost secondary to what I saw play out in the debate. Remember some of the questions? They implicitly supported Ron's narrative:

"Governor, why are you having such a hard time getting Democrats to support you?"
"Governor, your base is holding its nose to vote for you"
"Governor, does it concern you that newspapers have endorsed Ron?"

Ron, for his part, hammered away at this theme at every opportunity, reinforcing the narrative. Which is exactly what he needed to do, and is why I think the debate swung in his favor.

But what happened last night is far more important than who won or lost the boxing match. It was a watershed moment, a point in this campaign that the question of whose narrative defines the terms of the race was settled.

It was broadcast statewide, and ballots go out Friday. The timing couldn't have been better. I don't want to sound overconfident, but I really like the way this feels.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

KGW Debate

Ron Saxton looked like the front-runner in the debate tonight. Calm, hitting his points, sidestepping potential problem issues, focused and constantly returning to his themes, and putting Kulongoski constantly on the defensive.

The Governor, I thought, was not nearly as effective. Now I may just be a total homer, but I really do think that the viewer takeaway in this debate was overwhelmingly in favor of Ron Saxton. The Gestalt of the debate was that Saxton was calling the question on Kulongoski's four years in office, and Kulongoski's defense was, well, defensive.

Three weeks out and tonight might be looked back upon as the point that Ron Saxton took the lead for good.

Governor Ron Saxton. Has a ring to it.

Taking bias to a new level

The Oregonian outdid itself today.

We've all seen the O regularly uses its news stories to support and advance the agenda of its editorial positions. But usually the news stories make at least a small genuflection in the direction of journalistic fairness. Today's front-page, two-color-picture, 60+ column-inch article on Measure 48 took the art form of "editorializing disguised as news" to a new level. The story completely dispensed with any pretense of journalism, leaving it front and center as an unabashed advocacy piece.

The point of the article was to tell us how bad off Oregon would be if we passed Measure 48, by recounting the experience of Colorado's "Tabor."

You would expect any such article, if the author was a serious journalist, would do a few things:
1) provide an honest balance of pro and con views as to what happened in Colorado, both good and bad; and 2) explain any substantive differences between Measure 48 and Tabor that might mitigate the supposed negative effects that happened in Colorado.

The article fell laughably short on both fronts. Its sole gesture to "balance" was a three column-inch quote by Governor Owen of Colorado defending Tabor. It went on to spend about 30 inches slamming Tabor for a litany of supposed ill effects.

Nowhere to be found was there any mention of the fact that Colorado, unlike virtually every other state in the nation, did not have a budget crisis during the 2001 recession. There was no mention of the fact that Colorado's rate of economic growth over the time since Tabor was passed far exceeded Oregon's, and that its unemployment rate was and still is quite a bit lower than Oregon's.

None of this is to say that Tabor is the correct way to limit state government growth - but certainly any honest journalistic attempt to use Colorado as a "lesson" for Oregon just might want to mention that there were some positive results to go along with the negative. And it might want to spend a little time quoting folks who could talk about the positive.

An honest piece of journalism trying to draw parallels between Tabor and Measure 48 might also want to explore the differences between the two measures. It might want to ask and answer the question: are these two things really similar enough so that we could reasonably expect what happened in Colorado would also happen in Oregon if voters pass Measure 48?

Far from asking and answering these questions, the Oregonian article seemed to intentionally obfuscate them.

It explained Tabor's "ratchet" effect, which it described (I think correctly) as a design flaw. The "ratchet" in Tabor means that if tax receipts in a recession results in, say, a 5% reduction in the budget, the next budget is based on the prior budget. That was what really sunk Tabor. After the recession of 2001, where the state tightened its belt to survive like every other state, it was prevented from making up the spending when the economy recovered because the next budget was limited to the recession budget level, plus popuflation.

Was this pointed out in the Oregonian article? Not at all. Nowhere was it even mentioned that Measure 48 does not have the same "ratchet." Not even in the sidebar Q & A where one questions was : "What are important differences?"

The truth is, Measure 48 is so different from Tabor in this respect that it actually looks something like a guarantee of state budget growth rather than a spending limit.

Under Measure 48, as the Oregonian did point out, it is spending that is limited, not tax receipts. In Colorado, any receipts over the popuflation limit are sent back to taxpayers. Under Measure 48, the state's spending is limited to popuflation, and if receipts are higher that that, then the money would accumulate in state coffers. (The legislature would decide what to do with the money. It couldn't spend it. Choices are: 1) send it back; and 2) keep it. Any guesses?)

So, Measure 48 would almost certainly immediately result in a large savings fund. The Oregonian says that this savings would be $2 billion right away, after the 2007-09 budget was limited by the measure.

And this is the difference in the "ratchet:" under Measure 48, if we have a recession where receipts are down 5%, the savings account fills in the balance so that the state government grows at the poluflation rate! No ratchet!

Does the Oregonian so much as mention this feature? Nope.

So here we have it: a huge front page article plus an entire interior page devoted to comparing Colorado's Tabor to Measure 48 to see what lessons we can learn, and the most important difference between the measures, a difference that would completely prevent the ill effects the article goes to such lengths to illustrate - is not so much as mentioned in the article!

The author, Betsy Hammond, is new to the political beat. For years she was on the Oregonian's education team, where she wrote many an article that in my opinion had similar glaring biases. I occasionally pointed them out to her and we would get in some fairly heated exchanges.

When I read this kind of article, which is becoming more and more common in the pages of the Oregonian, it doesn't just anger me, but it also saddens me. Every time the Oregonian allows its place in the firmament of Oregon media to be used to so overtly support its editorial agenda, its credibility as an honest broker of information takes another hit.

That is not good for anybody. We need a statewide newspaper that takes seriously its franchise. The Oregonian is not going to lose its virtual monopoly as Oregon's only statewide daily newspaper anytime soon, and even though I find myself on the other side of the Oregonian on many ideological questions, it is important for everybody that it remains a credible source of unbaised information.

It is not in our interest - even though we conservatives disagree with the Oregonian's editorial stances more often than not - that its credibility as an honest broker of news and information completely erodes.

Articles such as this one by Betsy Hammond erode that credibility a great deal. I hope someone at the Oregonian will, for all of our sakes, take an honest look in the mirror.

Monday, October 16, 2006

How you can help

Want to do something concrete to help get Ron Saxton elected? Do you have three hours you can contribute?

Help Ron with his phone bank, calling Republicans and Independents who have not yet turned in their ballots, any time between November 3rd and election day. If you think it's low value labor, you are wrong. This election is likely to turn on GOTV. The campaign best able to make sure its core supporters actually vote will be the winner.

Democrats traditionally have the huge advantage in races that come down to GOTV, since they have the public employee union infrastructure at the ready to do the phone banking and precinct walking. So for Ron to win, we will have to provide that infrastructure for his campaign.

Three hours. Calling voters and reminding them to turn in their ballot. Choose any day: Friday November 3rd through election day, and any shift 9-12, 12-3 etc.

To sign up email james.anderson@votesaxton.com or call 503-224-7722

When you sign up, post a comment here telling us that you did.

Ron has run an incredibly impressive campaign. It's up to us to help him put this thing in the end zone. I'll be there working the phones with you.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Back in town

I'm back after a week long junket to play golf on the east coast.

It's interesting to leave for a week in the middle of campaign season, and come back with a fresh perspective uncolored by the week's political manueverings and controversies.

The Oregonian endorsed Saxton today. Believe it or not, I expected this. My co-host, Marc Abrams, and I agreed that the O would likely endorse Ron; we discussed it several times. Ron has always had a very good relationship with the Oregonian editorial board, and he has made a convincing argument for change.

If there was a surprise in the text of their endorsement, it was that they declined the opportunity to rough up Ron even a little bit. I expected they would mention their discomfort at what they would say was Ron's "shift to the right," and his focus on the illegal immigration issue during the primary. But they didn't.

Will this help Ron? Yes. It will help him far more than it would have hurt him had they endorsed Kulongoski. Will it make the difference in the race? It well could.

Less than a week before the ballots go out. Re-emerging after a week out of the fray, and looking back over the week's news, the City Club debate, and the various issues that played out during the week, I think Ron is in good shape.

Kulongoski still has no message. How a guy with his political experience and his incredibly experienced staff can get to this stage in the race and not have found a defining message for his campaign is just beyond me.

Of course it could still go either way. Oregon is a blue state, which seems to be what Kulongoski is counting on. The question is whether Oregon is so blue that there is no set of cirumstances that would make it elect a Republican governor.

I like the feeling of what is going on. Ron has done what it takes to win, and if Oregon still votes D, then it truly does not want to be competitive in the world economy.

PS: for those interested in golf - I played some of the most incredible courses on this trip:

Friars Head - a new Ben Crenshaw design on Long Island. Totally natural layout on a beautiful peice of property right on Long Island Sound. Crenshaw believes in letting the golf course emerge from the natural landscape with minimal artificial interference. It is still very new (the clubhouse is not yet done) but I can assure you it will grow in reputation as it becomes known.

National Golf Links of America - a 100 year old course designed by H.B. Macdonald, perhaps the most storied golf course architect ever. Currently it ranks as #9 on Golf Digest's top 100 courses in America. MacDonald built this course as his lasting monument to the game. He searched for years for the right property to build a course of 18 holes, each inspired by one of his favorite holes in Scotland, his birth country. When I finished on the 18th hole, I walked off the green an almost bumped into Arnold Palmer, who was standing all by himself on the first tee, waiting to tee off.

Garden City Golf Course - Another old original on Long Island, truly one of the finest courses in the country. Ranks #46 on Golf Digest top 100. I had my best round here, shooting 3 over par 76.

Gulph Mills Golf Club - A Donald Ross layout outside of Philly. We were originally going to play Merion, but that fell through. One of our hosts at Garden City arranged for us to play Gulph Mills, and we were pleasantly surprised. Classic Donald Ross, who designed Pinehurst #2 and many other very famous tracks around the country. Greens reject all but the best shots, which requires a good short game, chipping from all sorts of lies and stances around the greens.

Oakmont Country Club - I've played quite a few of Gold Digest's top 100, including #1, Pine Valley, and #4, Cypress Point. Oakmont is listed as #5, but in my book it is the best golf course I have ever played. We teed off at 9:00 am in 40 degree weather with winds at 20 mph (gusts to 30.) The high temp that day was 48 degrees. Despite the conditions, I had more fun playing this course than any I can remember. The golf course kicked my butt. The greens were rolling about a 13 on the stimpmeter. Oakmont has hosted 6 U.S. Opens, and will host it again next summer. They actually have to slow down the greens when the Open comes!

It was a great week. Everything from the guys I went with to the weather to the food at these magnificent clubs to the guys who hosted us at each course - an incredible week.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

No blogging for a week

I won't be blogging for the next week.

In the meantime, maybe someone can answer a question I asked on my radio show today:

"What was the last tax increase or bond issue that the Oregonian did not support?"

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Hastert and Kulongoski

Am I going to be the first to point out the obvious parallel?

In Washington DC, Speaker Denny Hastert is under the gun because he may have been made aware a year ago of some inappropriate messages Rep. Foley sent to congressional pages. Lots of folks, most of them Democrats, are calling for Hastert to resign.

The parallel?

There is credible evidence, reported in the Oregonian and the Willamette Week, that in the early 1990's Governor Kulongoski was told about Neil Goldschmidt's rape of a 14 year old girl, and not only did he do nothing, he appointed Goldschmidt to the State Board of Higher Education as soon as he became governor!

Kulongoski, of course, denies that he knew about the rape.

According to the Oregonian, the person who "told Ted Kulongoski about Goldschmidt's secret repeatedly during the early 1990s, including when Kulongoski was state attorney general" was Fred Leonhardt, Goldschmidt's speechwriter, who was told the secret by none other than Bernie Guisto.

In addition, in 2001, when Kulongoski was planning his run for governor, Leonhardt told the secret to Kulongoski's senior political aide Steve Schneider. Schneider denies it, but Leonhardt recalls the precise time and place he told him.

If Denny Hastert is asked to resign because he was told about some inappropriate e-mails and did nothing, shouldn't we apply that same standard to Governor Kulongoski?

After all, prior to the Goldschmidt scandal breaking, Ted Kulongoski was basically the figurehead for the second Goldschmidt term as governor. NOTHING happened without Goldschmidt's approval. His business partner, Tom Imeson, was head of Kulongoski's transition team. E-mail records show that time after time Kulongoski cleared key decisions with Goldschmidt.

If Ted Kulongoski looked the other way after hearing that his political patron was a child molester, isn't that something we should know? Shouldn't Ted Kulongoski be required to answer the same questions that Speaker Hastert is answering?

I think it is time for this question to be asked, investigated, and put to rest.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Riley Poll

Mike Riley released a poll today showing a dead heat, Saxton at 39% and Kulongoski at 37%, with 20% undecided.

This is obviously good news for Ron Saxton. The poll was conducted between September 20th and 29th, which was pretty much the same time frame as three other polls - the Hibbitts and the Rasmussen showed Kulongoski with a 5% lead, and the Zogby showed him up by 2%.

Are these differences significant, or just statistical noise?

It seems logical that the difference between the Hibbitts poll and the Riley Poll is due to different methodologies in qualifying "likely voters." Hibbitts polled "2/4" voters, which means he called from a list of registered voters who have voted in two of the last four elections.

Riley used a different system. He called from a list of registered voters who have voted in at least two of three specific elections - the 2006 primary, the 2004 and 2002 general. He then went on to qualify the most likely voters by asking how likely they were to vote. Anybody who responded "somewhat unlikely" or "highly unlikely" were excluded from the sample.

On its face, this seems like a more rigorous way to poll only those people who are actually going to vote. I am not a pollster, although I have talked with Tim Hibbitts about his "2/4" methodology. He defends it as the most accurate predictor of who will vote, especially compared to the method some of the automated polls use, which is to call all registered voters and then ask them how likely they are to vote. As I recall, Hibbitts believes that there is a bias inherent in relying on the respondents to honestly and accurately tell whether or not they are going to vote.

But Riley's method is a hybrid - it uses both the voters' own history (albeit with a modification from the usual "2/4") and the respondent's answer to the "likely" question.

Is that more accurate than the simple "2/4?" I don't know. It would make intuitive sense that Riley's method would be more accurate in identifying those people who will actually vote.

I talked to Mike this morning. He said that "very few" people responded "unlikely" to the qualification question, which means that the difference in Hibbitts result and Riley's result is probably due to the difference in the "2/4" and the "modified 2/3" qualification methodology.

In any event, it seems obvious that we have a very competitive race on our hands.

The C&E reports yesterday showed that Ron Saxton has far outraised Kulongoski, but Saxton has about half as much cash on hand as does the governor. Of course fundraising is hardly finished.

Saxton has started running an ad on the illegal alien issue. It is an effective ad in that it highlights the drivers license issue - which I have to think has broad appeal even among voters for whom illegal immigration is not their biggest concern.

I do wonder if it is wise to change the subject at this stage, after the "tax" ads had worked so well to bring Ron to within a few points of Kulongoski. The Governor just handed Ron the sales tax issue on a silver platter. I'd be shouting from the mountaintops that Kulongoski wants a sales tax.

The question is whether there are still undecided voters who will vote for Ron based on the illegal immigration issue, or does Ron already have those votes locked up? The other question is whether there are undecided voters who will vote Saxton based on Kulongoski supporting a sales tax.

I don't pretend to know the answers - but I'm pretty confident that Felix Schein and the Saxton team do.