Thursday, June 28, 2007


Salmon, Smith, Water, Votes, and various...

The Washington Post, and well as the blog Blue Oregon ( have some coverage of how the Republicans, notably Cheney and Rove, climbed into the dispute over who gets the water from the Klamath River, and exploited it for votes in the last presidential election. I've ranted about this issue before.

The Klamath Basin is a big subsidized irrigation project, that over-uses water from the Klamath River for the benefits of farmers. The people downstream, Indians, commercial fishermen at the mouth of the Klamath, sport fishermen, suffer. What galls me is that the river water is guaranteed, by treaty, to the Indians along the river so they may have decent salmon runs, also treaty guaranteed. The farmers, though, are just that: farmers, traditional supporters of the Republicans. A few years back, during a major dry spell, the farmers raised hell that they weren't getting enough water because the EPA said the river had priority.

The Republicans made sure the farmers got enough water. It got ugly down in the basin, with all sorts of crazy Montana patriot types, scads of flags, talk about how farming is a sacred act, and so on. Incidentally, what they farm is mostly hay and sugar beets—with a whole lot of water subsidized by fact, the whole basin is a government project, paid for by you-know-who. Sugar beets and hay. Wow.

Oregon's junior senator, Gordon Smith, apparently was a party to the ruthless politicing by the party political officers (commisars, really), Rove and Cheney. Smith comes off as a good guy, moderate, clean, and concerned. He often appears with Jeff Wyden, the senior (and Democratic) Oregon senator. Teamwork. Uh-huh. The problem is that the politicing was done on company time, which ain't allowed. If you or I had a government job, and hustled votes for one side or the other while we were working and on the clock, we'd be in trouble. However, those that have the gold, make the rules, in case any of us forgot.

The Democrats are preparing to challenge Gordie Smith in the '08 election. A lot of energy and talk, if you look at the progressive blogs, about who might be electable. I hope somebody is. But, Smith could be worse. As an example, I bright up Oregon's 2nd District Congressperson, Greg Walden. Walden is beloved by loggers, developers, miners, and ranchers. During the bruhaha down at Klamath, he was right there with the militia/patriot types, waving the flag, and promising water for the farmers. More water than was, or is, available, actually... Walden has a conservation vote record that's way way down close to zero. He cultivates extractive industry money with a D-9 Cat. Super conservative, super exploitation-oriented. I'd like to see somebody come along and give Walden a run for the money.

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