Monday, September 25, 2006



I asked Rick Browne, a Firedoglake community member, to give us a run-down of the difficult race in his Oregon district between a shining progressive, Carol Voisin and a truly hideous and venal reactionary incumbent, Greg Walden. Rick, an independent, has never been involved in a political campaign before. He is a social studies teacher with a passion for current events and, like so many Americans, he has been thoroughly turned off by the corruption and money that goes into divisive elections.  Feeling that no one is watching the watchers, he became motivated to volunteer for two reasons: the backwards direction the GOP government is leading the United States; and, Carol’s passion and commitment to right the ship. He is a believer in the Apollo Project and the George Lakoff model of properly framing our values, and he is horrified by the systematic shredding of our Constitution. "George Bush says the terrorists hate us for our freedoms," Rick pointed out to me, "yet it is our President who seems intent on destroying these freedoms." Rick, like many of us, refuses to live in fear and believes the best response to these tactics, from within or without, is to proclaim our rights, our values, and our ethics not through empty rhetoric, but through actions that show we care about every human being on the planet. I hope you will find his report on OR-02 as enlightening as I did. And if you do, I hope you'll join me in making a contribution to Carol's campaign. It's a campaign for all of us.
Carol Voisin is running against Greg Walden in Oregon's 2nd district. It is an absolutely beautiful region of this great country: Cascade Mountains and lakes, dormant volcanoes, salmon-spawning rivers, lush old growth forests, glacier-carved valleys, and flora and fauna who's diversity rivals any in the country.   Needless to say, this prized beauty and diversity is also in need of protection, and yet Clinton’s designation of the  Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument was fought every step of the way by Walden. 

Our district is one of the largest districts, geographically, in the entire country. It is mostly rural, sprinkled with small towns that are suffering economically. Go back and read the first half of  this Down With Tyranny post on Pete Goldmark about rural farms and it describes perfectly the situation in eastern Oregon. Statistics show that this economy Bush keeps bragging about is really benefiting the very few at the top end of the income scale, and that inequality is magnified in our district. These small towns are dying a slow death, jobs are few and low paying. There is still an underlying sense of division here between the once-robust timber industry and the environmentalists trying to save the last strands of old-growth forest. Health care is a major issue as 600,000 Oregonians don't have health insurance and in eastern Oregon that rate is highest with 25% of its citizens lacking basic health coverage.
Bend and Medford are the biggest towns in the area, holding about 60% of the population of our district. These cities have done better economically than the outlying areas, largely due to the computer industry and the housing boom, but the economy statewide has been hard hit in the last 5 years (imagine that!). However, the soaring housing prices are largely due to non-Oregonians moving here and now many locals are priced out of the market. As yesterday's Medford Tribune explained:  A majority of Oregonians are not making a "living wage."
So what has 4-term incumbent Greg Walden done about the problem? Well, he's voted 94% of the time with the Delay GOP Corruption Machine including all those tax breaks that went to the  wealthiest 1-2%. These tax breaks have clearly not benefited the vast majority of the hard-working people of our district. He positions himself as working for the middle class yet according to the Drum Major Institute he gets a big fat 0, an F, on his middle class voting record.
He also pretends to care about the environment yet his voting record doesn't support his rhetoric.  The Republicans for Environmental Protection give Walden a lousy 12% rating, and the independent  League of Conservation Voters gives him an even worse 11% rating-- and that's his highest rating yet! He is proud of his Orwellian "Healthy Forests Act" that Bush signed into law despite all the  science that rejects their pro-logging position. Flatly, it is a bill that is a giveaway to Big Timber at the expense of our precious shrinking old growth forests. As if that wasn't bad enough, Walden has now pushed an even worse bill,  HR4200 through the House and is awaiting Senate action. This bill is opposed by scientists, hunters, fishers, firefighters and conservationists.  It is yet another giveaway to his corporate donors.

Walden also sponsored a bill with the corrupt Dirty Dick Pombo (R-CA) to gut the Endangered Species Act. No surprise here, but his votes actually support his biggest contributors: Big Oil, Big Agribusiness, and Big Pharmaceuticals.  Why voters would support someone who does not want to protect and preserve the very land we prize for its life-giving sustainability is a mystery.

On the other hand, the Sierra Club has enthusiastically endorsed Carol Voisin.

Walden has also voted for cuts to rural health care, education, college loans, veterans benefits, and he has voted against a $1,500 bonus for our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, against improving fuel standards on cars, against investigations of wasteful spending and has failed to push for any level of oversight or accountability... You can see his whole disgraceful record  here.  So not only does Walden vote against our interests economically, he votes against taking care of the very veterans he voted into war, he votes against clean drinking water, clean air, and affordable health care for the very people he "represents."  Actions speak louder then words Mr. Walden, and it is clear your professed values are not borne out in the votes you make as our congressman.
The facts declare that Greg Walden deserves the title, “Rubber Stamper,” as much as anyone in Congress.  Walden's newsletters and mailings trumpet "Real solutions for today's problems" yet the only thing he actually talks about is how many times he flies back to our district. No mention of Iraq, Afghanistan, health care, the deficit, the economy, global warming... nothing.  Despite all these frequent trips home none of his constituents seem to be able to find him.  "Where's Walden?" is a refrain heard frequently here.

As one of his constituents I have lost count of the number of unanswered emails, letters and phone calls. Just yesterday, 9/18/06, I called about the Voter ID act (which would require a $97 passport and has a 6-week waiting period!), and the aide said Walden hadn't taken a position on it. She took my name and number and said she'd call me back. On 9/19/06 he voted for this awful piece of legislation, and I am still batting .000 in constituent responses from Greg Walden. He needs to go back to running his Rush Limbaugh-playing radio stations (he owns five of them), or possibly something a bit less divisive and of a more beneficial nature to the community at large. Don't hold your breath.

As for Carol Voisin, she meets all the criteria of a true progressive, someone for whom ethics and faith is a core value. Carol is a trained Methodist theologian with a Master of Divinity degree and a doctorate in Theology who currently teaches college freshmen "Ethics in the Twenty-first Century." She is intelligent, full of passion for the tasks ahead, and compassionately concerned about this country's direction. As our congresswoman she will work tirelessly for ALL of her constituents.  In Senator Ron Wyden's words: "Carol Voisin is a champion for restoring fiscal discipline at the federal level, improving public education, ensuring access to quality health care for all, and ending a too-costly war in Iraq. She brings fresh ideas to some of our nation's toughest challenges."
If you go to Carol's home page you will find her mission is straightforward and focused. 
Providing affordable and accessible health care for everyone
Ending the Iraq War responsibly and soon
Fast tracking research and development of renewable energy and alternative fuels
Reforming our public school system based on regional needs and resources
Protecting our ports, nuclear reactors, and chemical plants from terrorists
Balancing the budget and reducing our national debt
Representing my constituency and their needs, not big corporations and their greed.

We need a government that is paying attention to the needs of ordinary middle class Americans. We have record deficits, record bankruptcies, record uninsured Americans, and more citizens cycling downward into poverty every year under an all-Republican government.  It is time for a new direction.  There is nothing "conservative" about the national debt we are leaving our children, nor is there anything "compassionate" about 45 million Americans that can't afford health insurance and the fundamental respect that it affords. I am a firm believer in the values and common sense of a national health care program and Carol is ready to champion that cause. It makes sense economically and it makes sense ethically.  We need leaders who are actually ready to lead on health care for all Americans, and that means making critical changes to the status quo.
Carol lists the Iraq War as "the major issue facing our country today."  Staying the course in Iraq is killing 1,000 soldiers per year, Baghdad alone averages 30+ deaths per day, and yet where is Bush's and his rubber stamp Congress' solution? Troop deployments are increasing not decreasing, and the treatment of the boots on the ground is deplorable-- both in the war theater and when they come home. All the while, the GOP's biggest donors, like Halliburton and Bechtel, are raking in billions of dollars on unfulfilled reconstruction contracts. Yet there is no oversight, and a complete lack of realistic solutions from the governing party. They got us into this mess yet they have no plan to get us out.

Carol's is a 100% volunteer true grassroots campaign paid for by individual donors like you and me. Carol's campaign has a strong netroots presence. After winning the primary, she started with the traditional campaign model, but became frustrated by lack of support from the DCCC and other central democratic institutions, and wanted to find out how to engage with the creative netroots and grassroots energy like Ned Lamont's campaign was doing. She happened to meet a Roots Project member who had just returned from Ykos, and asked him to help her campaign become part of this new force. Her campaign makeover was completed when she asked him to take over management of the campaign at the beginning of September.  Several other Roots Project members have joined the team, and have worked to improve her website and create the tools to reach volunteers. We have essentially “Crashed the Gates” and Carol has embraced us! This is as pure a citizen's effort as you can get, and despite the late start and the huge financial disadvantage we face, this team of volunteers is getting out the word and making sure that the voters have a clear choice in the election.

We are here because we believe in Carol. She is beholden to no corporate donors, and vows to stay that way, but that means we need your help. You can donate to Carol's campaign through ActBlue  here.  Even better, if you are an Oregon resident, the first $50 ($100 for a joint return) is a straight tax deduction. We want to help Carol Take Our Country Back. She will serve Oregon's 2nd district with equanimity and candor, and she will serve all of America as part of a Democratic House of Representatives that will demand accountability from the Bush Administration and provide much-needed oversight on an ever more secretive and overreaching executive branch. Thank you for your support. Vote Voisin!

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At 2:38 PM, Blogger hemo said...

Where does Greg Walden even stand on the issues that affect our district and nation? Iraq? Immigration? Health care? Global warming? It's pretty sad that I can find out more about where Walden stands on issues by visiting Voisin's site than I can visiting his.

At 2:39 PM, Blogger hemo said...

Where does Greg Walden even stand on the issues that affect our district and nation? Iraq? Immigration? Health care? Global warming? It's pretty sad that I can find out more about where Walden stands on issues by visiting Voisin's site than I can visiting his.

At 3:28 PM, Anonymous Allen H. said...

Great post, Rick. Carol's campaign has a lot of great volunteers like Rick and needs more. Greg Walden has to be defeated. Hemo asked where Walden stands on Iraq, Immigration, Global Warming, etc? The answer is he stands wherever his corporate sponsors say he stands and votes the way they tell him to vote. Voisin needs your help.

At 8:36 PM, Anonymous W. browne said...

Good Job Rick, well said and written. Appears you did your homework on this.

At 7:35 AM, Anonymous Elizabeth said...

A clear presentation of information from your meticulous research, Rick. Bravo!

One of the great things about this race is that it's not a choice between the lesser of two evils. Voters get to choose between Carol Voisin, a smart, honest, hardworking, caring woman of integrity; and Greg Walden, whose political career demonstrates that he sells his soul to the highest bidder and ignores the needs of his constituents.


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