The Oregon Blog
Under grey skies, self-medicating with black coffee

Sunday, July 18, 2004  

Here Lies
The Oregon Blog
January 16, 2003 - July 18, 2004

Back in late 2002, Trent Lott eulogized Strom Thurmond by musing that if the former segregationist had won the presidency in 1948, we "wouldn't have had all these problems."  The mainstream media--hell, all media--ignored the comment, and Lott prepared to take the position of Senate Majority Leader.  On the very distant periphery of the internet, however,  a bunch of surly bloggers--a heretofore unknown noun--kept harping about the egregious racism of the GOP's top dog, until Paul Krugman picked up the story.  Thus did I learn of the existence of this media underworld.  A month later, I started the Oregon Blog.
My objective with the Oregon Blog was to talk about Oregon news and the issues confronting Oregonians.  This state has long set the standard for civic involvment, rational discourse, and the innovative solutions that emerge from them.  I was entranced by the prospect of this emerging medium and what effect it might have on a dialogue I've seen become disturbingly weakened by polarized ideologies.  Oregonians need more discussion, less narrow-minded lectures.  Blogs, although they are still read by nearly no one, are a perfect medium for discussion.
In the 18 months the Oregon Blog was active, those discussions were frequent.  I'm thankful that a diversity of people commented and kept the conversations lively.  During that period, other bloggers joined in the conversation, and at last check, there were some 351 blogs listed at ORblogs, the Oregon blogs directory.  The conversation is growing.
During my time writing, along with Ignatius Reilly and
Fred Henning, my biggest accomplishment was interviewed mayoral, city council, and legislative candidates.  I hope there were some enjoyable posts along the way.  At its height, about 100 readers were checking in daily.  My thanks.
Although the Oregon Blog has now run its course, its mission will carry on at Blue Oregon.  I hope everyone who enjoyed this site will go join the discussion there.  And not to worry: old blogs never die--they just sit on a server somewhere in Mountain View, CA.

posted by Jeff | 1:12 PM |

The new generation of blogging is officially--if not broadly--live.  I am happy to join Kari Chisholm and Jesse Cornett in helping launch Blue Oregon.  We've got a group of very interesting voices there, including (currently): 
Jack Bogdanski
Chris Bouneff
Leslie Carlson
John Doty
Jason Evans
Lew Frederick
Charles Heying
Isaac Laquedem
Randy Leonard
Mari Margil
Anne Martens
Erika Meyer
Wendy Radmacher-Willis
Pat Ryan
Chuck Sheketoff
Andrew Simon
Sean Smith
Kim Stafford
Kenji Sugahara
Rachael Vorberg-Rugh

No doubt you recognize a few names there--and others I hope you will soon recognize.  We're going to try to do regular blogging, perhaps a little original journalism (B!x having set the bar high), some insidery rumor-mongering, advocacy, criticism, and a lot of chat.  We've been live 24 hours and Randy Leonard's already in the house--with six comments!  So is Jack Bogdanski, the now reclusive Blogfather.  Call that an exclusive.
So go check it out:

Blue Oregon

posted by Jeff | 12:13 PM |

Wednesday, May 26, 2004  

Consider this an official announcement: the Oregon Blog is on hiatus. There are several things you can do about this:

1. Visit Notes on the Atrocities, my national blog, where I will be writing about Oregon issues.

2. Contact me and become a contributor to the Oregon Blog to help keep it going (emmasblog [at] yahoo [d0t] com).

3. Check back the third week of June, after which I will have returned from a swing through NY and Vermont, and see if I'm blogging. (Announcements to follow.)

4. Visit any of the dozens of great Oregon Blogs that are still active and which, to be honest, have had better content over the past three months than this one.


posted by Jeff | 1:16 PM |

Monday, May 24, 2004  


Well, things are busy presently. No idea when I'll be blogging more regularly. It's possible the Oregon Blog is nearing the end of the road...

posted by Jeff | 2:49 PM |

Friday, May 21, 2004  

[GOP Watch]

Listen to this and tell me if it seems a little ... off.

"We believe Asians share a lot of Republican principles; from hard working, entrepreneurship, lower taxes, family values, and quality education, to fighting for our liberty and freedom. Our party is the only party defending those principles. It is natural for our party to reach out and to invite more Asians to join our party," said Solomon Yue, ORP National Committeeman.

Nothing like a little racial stereotyping to build a rich, diverse party.

posted by Jeff | 12:53 PM |

Thursday, May 20, 2004  

[National Politics]

Hey, Kerry didn't thank us! Below is an email Kucinich sent out this morning thanking Oregonians. Such a good guy--

Hello Oregon,

Thank you for the great support that you gave our primary election campaign. Because of you we'll be going to Boston with more delegates to the National Convention. Because of you we were able to travel the length and the width of Oregon to be able to visit community after community to see not only what is going on in the state, but to see Oregonians' aspirations connect with the aspirations of all Americans. What a great state you live in, and what a great opportunity we have with your help to take our country in a new direction.

I want to thank you so much for welcoming me to the Beaver State, for giving me the opportunity for me to meet so many of you. For turning out at my rallies and meetings, and for your friendship and your support.

I thank you so much and I look forward to meeting with you again in our common effort to make this not only a better state, but a better world.

Dennis Kucinich

posted by Jeff | 11:18 AM |

Wednesday, May 19, 2004  

[Primary Election Analysis]

Another winner: Erik Sten. In what looked like a pretty risky venture, the Councilor decided to endorse Tom Potter. If Francesconi wins and becomes mayor, Sten has already given him the vote of no-confidence--not a delightful way to start a working relationship. On the other hand, if Potter wins...


$22.20 - cost per vote spent by Jim Francesconi
$1.36 - cost per vote spent by Tom Potter

posted by Jeff | 3:05 PM |

[Primary Election Analysis]

Whooee, whoever said this was going to be a boring primary didn't take into account the upsets. Although very serious results were at stake about our leadership, I have to admit, going into this election, there wasn't much excitement. Ameri-Phillips seemed intriguing, the fifth district race between Winters and Zupancic, the Portland mayoral race, Portland City Council and ... well, that was about it. Ah, but then the results came in. Let's go through some of the big winners and losers of the night.

Grand prize goes to Tom Potter, the little mayoral candidate who could. With a mere 75 grand in the bank, could he possibly force a run-off against Jim Francesconi, finanicial behemoth? A better question would have been whether Francesconi could. At various points last night, Potter crept toward 50%, raising the specter of an outright win. He may have only raised 75k so far, but expect Potter to run as the favorite in November. Shocking.

Goli Ameri was a tight second with a crushing victory in the First District, the supposedly "hotly contested" primary with Tim Phillips. In a three-way battle, Ameri almost won a majority and gets a shot at David Wu in what will be a battle royale.

The Portland City Council had a similar battle between Nick Fish and Sam Adams. It was supposed to be close, but Fish gave a sound thumping and almost got an outright win.

Darlene Hooley was supposed to beat Andrew Kaza, but I don't think anyone expected her to crush him.

Ron McCarty, running against Lisa Naito for Multnomah County Commissioner, ran such a tepid campaign that the Oregonian failed to endorse him--and they were trolling for any candidate they could find to punish the commishes for their gay marriage decision. Nevertheless, he forced a run-off.

Sara Gelser, trying to oust incumbent Kelley Wirth in Corvallis, didn't win, but she came close.

The neighborhood rebellion died on the battlefield. Hey Randy, you have a mandate now.

David Wu, whose seat is never safe, has to look at Ameri as his biggest challenge ever. She's organized, professional, well-financed, and an immigrant from the Middle East. He's got his work cut out for him now.

Vera Katz was wise not to run. If the failure of Sam Adams is any indication, people are damn tired of the old mayor.

Jim Francesconi's financial supporters. Whoops--you backed the wrong horse, folks. Are you going to keep riding him to a November defeat, or will you put the smart money on the people's choice? Oh right: you can't. He only takes $25 checks.

Phil Busse was in the right place at the wrong time. After major candidate after major candidate decided not to run for Portland mayor, Jim Francesconi started looking like he was running unopposed. Busse jumped in to offer some competition. He ran a solid campaign, excited a portion of the electorate that's been completely forgotten, and forced some interesting ideas into the discussion. Unfortunately for him, the Smarty Jones of candidates decided to join, too.

In the battle of the little kings, Al King managed to win the nomination against Ron Wyden. That's a big victory for Al King, but if you're wondering who the hell Al King is, you know what the result is going to be in November. Good going, Al. Now duck, there's a buzz saw headed your way.

posted by Jeff | 9:16 AM |

Tuesday, May 18, 2004  


Well, here we are in the national denoument--electing a nominee whose already been elected. I can't complain too much, though--at least Dennis Kucinich is still on the ballot. It's rare that I get to actually tick the box with the candidate I supported before Iowa.

Here's a question: should the primaries be held on a single day? (They won't, because the parties and the states don't want it. But I'm talking hypothetical here. Adopt the position that the health of the democracy is more important than the pissing rights of a few small constituencies.) Clearly, the current process means that very often the election is complete by the end of voting in the New Hampshire primary. It was this year anyway.

(Robbing a paragraph from Notes here.) The Democratic candidate was selected by two states whose populations voted 907,932 to 904,865 for Bush. Or put another way, 1.7% of the votes cast in the 2000 election by moderate-right rural populations decided the nominee for the entire country in 2004. Had California (53% Gore), New York (60% Gore), or Illinois (55%) been one of the first two states, it's quite likely my choices today would be Dean instead of Kerry.

Instead, we get Kerry. And I mean "get" in the sense of "inherit," "have no control over." While the state of Oregon may be instrumental in deciding who gets elected President, we certainly have no role on who gets to run for the job. That's undemocratic, unrepublican, even. It's just crap.

But what's a better system? In the more distant past, the primaries didn't determine the nominee--electors did, at the convention. Sometimes they went against the will of the people, too, which is itself somewhat antidemocratic. But that's not so much an option now, while the general elections are decided by attack ads.

So what, a national primary? That would cost a ton of money, severely penalizing the underfunded candidates. How about primaries by party rather than state? Why exactly must the Democrats and Republicans both start in Iowa? Maybe the Dems should find the five "most democratic states" and let them go first. That'd cut down on the whining. Or how about waves, but rotating states, so that a place like Iowa doesn't always get all the glory?

I don't know what the solution is. But I'll tell you what--we live in a state wherein almost every voter can tell you the downside to the current system.

posted by Jeff | 3:28 PM |

Monday, May 17, 2004  


Celebrating Brown

Despite Portland's multicultural values, Oregon's history with race is pretty grim. Here are a few of the key watersheds in our history.

Slavery was outlawed in 1844 (good), but lest black Americans feel too encouraged to move west, the "lash law" is passed. It required all blacks be whipped twice a year until they "quit the territory." Later reduced to forced labor.

Free Oregon land is offered to all but blacks.

As Oregon moves toward statehood, Southern Oregon residents--mostly from the South--push to legalize slavery.

Oregon passes the 13th Amendment banning slavery, but not the 14th, which gave them citizenship. Oregon also fails to pass the 15th, giving black men the vote. Oregon's law banning the practice is overruled by the federal law.

1880s and '90s
Cali and Washington make strides on black rights; Oregon languishes as the least free place for blacks on the West Coast.

Oregon finally passes laws repealing exclusion laws and laws denying the right to vote.

The ban on interracial marriage is lifted.

At long last, Oregon ratifies the 15th Amendment.

After the NAACP charges Portland with having racially segregated schools, PPS begin integration.

Sources: Oregon Trail Foundation and the Oregonian.

posted by Jeff | 5:37 PM |