Slant 11-1-2012

• Will your vote bring back the unicorns? Probably not right away. But not voting might bring back the dinosaurs. A few zombies are also on the ballot, hoping voter apathy will allow them to rise and feed. Mmm. Brains. Deadline for voting is 8 pm Tuesday, Nov. 6, and white ballot boxes can be found around town and on campus. Many of the races and issues in this election are too close to call. This is a time when an individual can make a difference. 

Staggering millions from corporations are being pumped into state races in the hopes of swinging the Oregon House to Republican control, and anything goes, including outright lies. Republican Dwight Coon is campaigning with deceptive TV ads and mailings against incumbent Rep. Val Hoyle in District 14. Coon’s campaign even sent out a letter claiming Coon, not Hoyle, deserves credit for the Junction City hospital and prison projects, which “have actually been harmed due to Val Hoyle’s involvement.” The letter drew sharp criticism from Gov. Kitzhaber, Rep. DeFazio, Sen. Courtney and others involved in the projects. “Oregonians should reject Dwight Coon’s fantasyland attacks,” DeFazio says. Kitzhaber says Hoyle’s leadership has been key to keeping the projects alive. Coon, meanwhile, has been caught on tape bashing Oregon’s minimum wage for agriculture workers. Bad for business. 

More craziness can be found in the John Lively vs. Joe Pishioneri open race for District 12 where the Republican Pishioneri couldn’t find any substantive issues to raise so he’s aligned himself with the anti-gay, anti-choice and anti-government voters in the district, maybe hoping the national ballot will bring out the shrinking number of neo-cons in Springfield. 

• It’s ironic that broadcast coverage of Hurricane Sandy gets interrupted by ads for “clean coal” and the benefits of natural gas fracking. Fossil fuel industries generate mind-boggling profits each year and they help reduce their taxable income by spending millions on advertising. Americans are being brainwashed to think everything will be just peachy if we keep drilling and mining. Why isn’t Obama pushing harder to make climate change a defining issue in this election? The issue probably doesn’t play well in focus groups. Despite the growing evidence, Americans are less concerned about climate change than they were a decade ago. Many of the fossil fuel TV ads end with an actor saying, “I’m an energy voter,” reinforcing the idea that energy policy is a political choice, rather than an issue of rational, scientific necessity. Adding to the disconnect, the mainstream media continue to ignore climate change as they report on increasingly bizarre, climate-related disasters.

Bethel School District Measure 20-209 deserves a “yes” vote and we’ve added that measure to our endorsements this week, thanks to reader feedback. This measure authorizes $49.5 million in bond sales to replace two 1950s-era elementary schools, Fairfield and Malabon, and do repairs and upgrades, including new textbooks and computers. Earlier bonds are being paid off so the tax rate for Bethel residents will remain the same. 

• Here’s a suggestion for Barack Obama when he returns to the White House, please. Send Timothy Geithner and his buddies back to Wall Street. Bring in Robert Kuttner and Phil Angelides, both recent speakers in Eugene under the “Capitalism and the Common Good” theme of the Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics at the UO. Founder of The American Prospect magazine, Kuttner wrote A Presidency in Peril in 2010, a book that should have stirred Obama to listen to this powerful progressive voice. Angelides, former state treasurer of California, flew east at the invitation of Nancy Pelosi to head the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission in July 2009. Speaking in Eugene Oct. 29, he noted “very little change … business as usual” on Wall Street four years after the crisis. Both Angelides and Kuttner are strong supporters of Obama rather than Romney, but they speak with urgency about the need to curb Wall Street’s power.

Oregon footballers have flown past all the competition this season, but that should change when the Ducks head for USC this Saturday. USC has lost two games and may appear to be struggling, but USC is still USC and still attracts elite athletes. Oregon has relied on better, faster athletes to whip teams this year. Against USC, Oregon won’t have that advantage. Every USC recruiting class over the past four years has been ranked substantially higher than Oregon’s. USC’s passing game combines experience at quarterback and talent at receiver, so look for USC to throw the ball all over the field. Playing at home, USC’s athletes and experience will push the Trojans past the Ducks by seven.