Upper Left Coast

Thoughts on politics, faith, sports and other random topics from a red state sympathizer in indigo-blue Portland, Oregon.

Friday, December 30, 2005

My favorite 2006 predictions

John Derbyshire:
  • During a press conference to announce plans for a series of movies based on Philip Pullman's anti-Narnia books, the press conference venue will be struck by a massive bolt of lightning, and all inside will perish.
Carrie Lukas:
  • At least four states will enact new school-choice programs; several prominent Democrats will break with teachers' unions to support school choice.
Cliff May:
  • John McCain will recognize another major problem, speak out about it honestly and devise a solution that will not solve the problem but rather will make it worse.
John Pitney:
  • The California branch of the American Civil Liberties Union makes a shocking discovery: Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, and San Francisco have Spanish names meaning "The Angels," "Holy Cross," and "St. Francis." It sues to rename them "The Angles," "Cruising," and "Frank."
Ned Rice:
  • Brokeback Mountain becomes the first winner of a new Academy Award category, "Gayest Movie." Winners note that it's fabulous just to be nominated, girlfriend.
  • John Kerry announces that he's running for president. Puzzled, a reporter shouts out, "Of what?"
(All from the NRO Symposium on 2006 Predictions)

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas!

When Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple to do what the Law of Moses says should be done for a new baby, the Spirit told Simeon to go into the temple. Simeon took the baby Jesus in his arms and praised God,
"Lord, I am your servant,
and now I can die in peace,
because you have kept
your promise to me.
With my own eyes I have seen
what you have done
to save your people,
and foreign nations
will also see this.
Your mighty power is a light
for all nations,
and it will bring honor
to your people Israel."
Luke 2:27-35 (CEV)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Quote of the Day

Earlier this week, West Virginia Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (ranking minority member of the Senate Intelligence Committee) released a letter he wrote in 2003 to protest the Bush Administration's warrantless surveillance program. That prompted today's quote of the day, in the form of a statement from Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, chairman of the Intelligence Committee:
"In his letter . . . Senator Rockefeller asserts that he had lingering concerns about the program designed to protect the American people from another attack, but was prohibited from doing anything about it. A United States Senator has significant tools with which to wield power and influence over the executive branch. Feigning helplessness is not one of those tools.

"I have no recollection of Senator Rockefeller objecting to the program at the many briefings he and I attended together. In fact, it is my recollection that on many occasions Senator Rockefeller expressed to the vice president his vocal support for the program."
The most recent occasion when Rockefeller expressed support, according to Roberts? Two weeks ago.


to the Senate Democrats, along with Republicans Mike DeWine of Ohio and Lincoln Chaffee of Rhode Island, for refusing to lessen our dependence on foreign oil. They successfully filibustered the budget bill today because of the provision to drill for oil in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge.

Oh, not all Democrats: voting against the filibuster were both Hawaiian senators, Daniel Akaka and Daniel Inouye, along with Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Ben Nelson of Nebraska. Please note that those in favor of drilling in ANWR included both Alaska senators, Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski. The final vote fell three votes shy of ending the filibuster.

Like it or not, our reliance on countries like Saudi Arabia and Venezuela for our oil supplies is a matter of security as well as economics. As long as we buy 43 percent of our oil from OPEC (including 12 percent each from the Saudi Royal Family and loose cannon Hugo Chávez), we lose some leverage against those countries to cooperate in the war on terror.

Would ANWR erase our energy dependence? Of course not. But it would reduce the need, and would buy us more time to explore alternative energy sources so that we could be independent. We import about 4.8 billion barrels of oil annually, so we could completely eliminate oil imports for 1-3 years (depending on the ANWR supply), or we could reduce our imports by, say, 1 billion barrels a year for 5-10 years and spend that time investing in alternative sources.

The Democratic Party — with help from DeWine and Chaffee — once again has proven it is not credible about our nation's security. All because the Democrats will take any opportunity to oppose the president regardless of the issue.

Big salaries at Goodwill

If you told me the head of Goodwill Industries International was making more than $800,000 a year to run the non-profit, I might have raised an eyebrow. But it's a multi-million-dollar enterprise, so I probably wouldn't have given it much more thought.

If you told me the head of Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette (the Portland-area chapter, GICW for short) was pulling in that kind of salary, I probably would have said that was too high, and would have given serious consideration to supporting other charities such as the Salvation Army.

But the beauty of that statement lies in who makes the decision. If I don't like the actions by Goodwill, I can take my support elsewhere. Instead, we have the state attorney general's office sticking its nose into the mix, conducting an audit to decide what the chief executive at GICW should be earning. According to The Oregonian story, federal laws and regulations allow nonprofits to compensate their executives based on pay at similar nonprofit or for-profit companies.

I would be in favor of forcing non-profits to publish its salaries (particularly at the executive level) so the public can make an informed decision about its charitable giving. But I don't like the idea of Hardy Myers taking the role as Chief of Compensation. That should be a market-driven decision.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Impeach the president!

From Andrew McCarthy on NRO today:
What makes this president think he can invade the privacy of Americans without a warrant? I don't know. Could it be the powers, long recognized by federal law, to:
  • Detain American citizens for investigative purposes without a warrant;
  • Arrest American citizens, based on probable cause, without a warrant;
  • Conduct a warrantless search of the person of an American citizen who has been detained, with or without a warrant;
  • Conduct a warrantless search of the home of an American citizen in order to secure the premises while a warrant is being obtained;
  • Conduct a warrantless search of, and seize, items belonging to American citizens that are displayed in plain view and that are obviously criminal or dangerous in nature;
  • Conduct a warrantless search of anything belonging to an American citizen under exigent circumstances if considerations of public safety make obtaining a warrant impractical;
  • Conduct a warrantless search of an American citizen's home and belongings if another person, who has apparent authority over the premises, consents;
  • Conduct a warrantless search of an American citizen's car anytime there is probable cause to believe it contains contraband or any evidence of a crime;
  • Conduct a warrantless search of any closed container inside the car of an American citizen if there is probable cause to search the car — regardless of whether there is probable cause to search the container itself;
  • Conduct a warrantless search of any property apparently abandoned by an American citizen;
  • Conduct a warrantless search of any property of an American citizen that has lawfully been seized in order to create an inventory and protect police from potential hazards or civil claims;
  • Conduct a warrantless search — including a strip search — at the border of any American citizen entering or leaving the United States;
  • Conduct a warrantless search at the border of the baggage and other property of any American citizen entering or leaving the United States;
  • Conduct a warrantless search of any American citizen seeking to enter a public building;
  • Conduct a warrantless search of random Americans at police checkpoints established for public-safety purposes (such as to detect and discourage drunk driving);
  • Conduct warrantless monitoring of common areas frequented by American citizens;
  • Conduct warrantless searches of American citizens and their vessels on the high seas;
  • Conduct warrantless monitoring of any telephone call or conversation of an American citizen as long as one participant in the conversation has consented to the monitoring;
  • Conduct warrantless searches of junkyards maintained by American citizens;
  • Conduct warrantless searches of docks maintained by American citizens;
  • Conduct warrantless searches of bars or nightclubs owned by American citizens to police underage drinking;
  • Conduct warrantless searches of auto-repair shops operated by American citizens;
  • Conduct warrantless searches of the books of American gem dealers in order to discourage traffic in stolen goods;
  • Conduct warrantless drug screening of American citizens working in government, emergency services, the transportation industry, and nuclear plants;
  • Conduct warrantless drug screening of American citizens who are school officials;
  • Conduct warrantless drug screening of American citizens who are school students;
  • Conduct warrantless searches of American citizens who are on bail, probation or parole.
These could conceivably be some of the things that the president is thinking about, though certainly not all. I neglected, after all, to mention the long-established "inherent authority" of the president to "conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence information," recognized by federal appeals courts and assumed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review in 2002.

Where does this president get such crazy ideas? Obviously, he should be impeached.
None of this matters to the Kool-aid Left, of course; why bother with facts with you can blather on about Howard Dean's latest rant.

Who said this?

It might not be who you think:
The Department of Justice believes, and the case law supports, that the president has inherent authority to conduct warrantless physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes, and that the President may, as has been done, delegate this authority to the Attorney General.

It is important to understand that the rules and methodology for criminal searches are inconsistent with the collection of foreign intelligence and would unduly frustrate the president in carrying out his foreign intelligence responsibilities.
The answer?

Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick, testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee on July 14, 2004. She went on to say that the president believed he had the power to order warrantless searches for the purpose of gathering intelligence, even if there was no reason to believe that the search might uncover evidence of a crime.

"Intelligence is often long range, its exact targets are more difficult to identify, and its focus is less precise," Gorelick said. "Information gathering for policy making and prevention, rather than prosecution, are its primary focus."

Quote of the Day

From today's Wall Street Journal (aka OpinionJournal.com) editorial on the president's recently-revealed wiretapping program (emphasis mine). Must reading is the center section that talks about all the oversight this program has had -- oversight you'd never know about by listening to the media parroting the Democrats' talking points:
The usual assortment of Senators and media potentates is howling that the wiretaps are "illegal," done "in total secret," and threaten to bring us a long, dark night of fascism. "I believe it does violate the law," averred Mr. [Russ] Feingold on CNN Sunday.

The truth is closer to the opposite. What we really have here is a perfect illustration of why America's Founders gave the executive branch the largest measure of Constitutional authority on national security. They recognized that a committee of 535 talking heads couldn't be trusted with such grave responsibility. There is no evidence that these wiretaps violate the law. But there is lots of evidence that the Senators are "illegally" usurping Presidential power--and endangering the country in the process.
The mere Constitution aside, the evidence is also abundant that the Administration was scrupulous in limiting the FISA exceptions. They applied only to calls involving al Qaeda suspects or those with terrorist ties. Far from being "secret," key Members of Congress were informed about them at least 12 times, President Bush said yesterday. The two district court judges who have presided over the FISA court since 9/11 also knew about them.

Inside the executive branch, the process allowing the wiretaps was routinely reviewed by Justice Department lawyers, by the Attorney General personally, and with the President himself reauthorizing the process every 45 days. In short, the implication that this is some LBJ-J. Edgar Hoover operation designed to skirt the law to spy on domestic political enemies is nothing less than a political smear.
As for power without responsibility, nobody beats Congress. Mr. Bush has publicly acknowledged and defended his decisions. But the Members of Congress who were informed about this all along are now either silent or claim they didn't get the full story. This is why these columns have long opposed requiring the disclosure of classified operations to the Congressional Intelligence Committees. Congress wants to be aware of everything the executive branch does, but without being accountable for anything at all. If Democrats want to continue this game of intelligence and wiretap "gotcha," the White House should release the names of every Congressman who received such a briefing.
Get ready for the calls of impeachment to increase in volume to a whiny scream.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

I have no interest in a publicly-owned PGE...

...but if ever there were an argument in favor of such a plan, this would be it.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Saxton's Republican friends

Remember what I was saying about Ron Saxton and his support for "moderate" Republicans? Today comes more evidence of just how "moderate" they are.

Today's vote against the Patriot Act included four Republicans, including Larry Craig of Idaho, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, John Sununu of New Hampshire and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Yes, that's the same Lisa Murkowski who received $1,000 from Mr. Saxton.

Seeing our country's history through the bill

From the Cheezer, an excellent post about the symbolism of the dollar bill.

A snippit:
If you look at the left-hand circle, you will see a Pyramid. Notice the face is lighted, and the western side is dark. This country was just beginning. We had not begun to explore the West or decided what we could do for Western Civilization.. The Pyramid is un-capped, again signifying that we were not even close to being finished. Inside the capstone you have the all-seeing eye, an ancient symbol for divinity. It was Franklin's belief that one man couldn't do it alone, but a group of ! men, with the help of God, could do anything.

"IN GOD WE TRUST" is on this currency.. The Latin above the pyramid, ANNUIT COEPTIS, means, "God has favored our undertaking."
Read up.

My college football playoff proposal

Let me offer this disclaimer from the beginning. This is probably identical to thousands of others' proposals, and I'm not claiming original thought here.

That said, here's what I'd like to see in a playoff system for Division I college football:

Take the champion from each Division IA conference and give them an automatic berth. That would mean the following teams would be in the playoffs:
  • ACC: Florida State (8-4)
  • Big 10: Penn State (10-1)
  • Big 12: Texas (12-0)
  • Big East: West Virginia (10-1)
  • Conference USA: Tulsa (8-4)
  • Mid-American: Akron (7-5)
  • Mountain West: TCU (10-1)
  • Pac-10: USC (12-0)
  • SEC: Georgia (10-2)
  • Sun Belt: Arkansas State (6-5)
  • WAC: Boise State (9-3)
In the case of the Sun Belt and WAC conferences, there was a tie for first place and no league championship game. I broke the ties by by assuming you had to have a winning record (leaving 5-6 Louisiana-Monroe out of the Sun Belt) and with head-to-head matchups (Arkansas State beat Louisiana-Lafayette 39-36, and Boise State beat Nevada 49-14).

That gives you 11 teams. Then use the BCS system to determine the five at-large berths. They go to:
  • 4. Ohio State (9-2)
  • 5. Oregon (10-1)
  • 6. Notre Dame (9-2)
  • 8. Miami, FL (9-2)
  • 9. Auburn (9-2)
No more instant berths to independent teams. If you finish among the top five at-large teams, you get in. If not, you don't.

Once the 16 teams were determined, I would use the BCS rankings for seeding into two divisions. With the non-BCS-ranked schools, I seeded them based on final record. So, USC is the No. 1 seed and 6-5 Arkansas State is the 16 seed.

In the Rose Bowl Division, the seedings are:
  1. USC
  2. Penn State
  3. Oregon
  4. Georgia
  5. Auburn
  6. TCU
  7. Boise State
  8. Akron
So the matchups, with locations corresponding to some of the mid-range bowl games.
USC v. Akron -- San Diego
Penn State v. Boise State -- Nashville
Oregon v. TCU -- El Paso
Georgia v. Auburn -- Atlanta

In the Sugar Bowl Division, the seedings are:
  1. Texas
  2. Ohio State
  3. Notre Dame
  4. Miami, FL
  5. West Virginia
  6. Florida State
  7. Tulsa
  8. Arkansas State
Thus the matchups:
Texas v. Arkansas State -- Houston
Ohio State v. Tulsa -- Memphis
Notre Dame v. Florida State -- Shreveport
Miami, FL v. West Virginia -- Tampa

Second-round games would be played at the Fiesta, Capital One, Gator and Cotton Bowls. Semi-finals are at the Sugar and Orange Bowls, and the championship game is at the Rose Bowl. Locations for the championship game (and probably other rounds as well) would rotate.

Of course, as in any playoff system, some good teams will not get in. They include (with BCS ranking):
  • 10. Virginia Tech (10-2)
  • 12. LSU (10-2)
  • 13. Alabama (9-2)
  • 15. Texas Tech (9-2)
  • 16. UCLA (9-2)
But that's the way the cookie crumbles. I thought about just taking the top 16 BCS teams and creating a playoff, but in my mind, it's more unfair to exclude the "mid-major" conferences every year than to reward the bigger schools based entirely on "tradition."

Once the playoffs were announced, any bowl not used in the playoffs could do their own National Invitational Tournament with the remaining teams. Virginia Tech v. LSU wouldn't be a bad game. Or, we could just exclude all bowls and let them fight among themselves.

Is it perfect? No. My Ducks end up playing the first round in the backyard of their opponents. I'm still torn about inviting Arkansas State and leaving out 10-2 teams Virginia Tech & LSU. But I spent less than 90 minutes coming up with this. How hard would it be for college football to put some real brainpower into the project for a couple of months, and finally determine a true national champion?

Thursday, December 15, 2005

I hate Peggy Noonan

because she writes so dang well. Today's entry in the Wall Street Journal, asking if America has turned a corner on Iraq, is no exception.

A few snippits:
No matter what Mr. Bush chose [about removing Saddam Hussein], what decision he made, he would leave some angry and frustrated. No matter what he did, the Arab street would be restive (it is a restive place) the left would be angry (rage is their ZIP code, where they came from and where they live), and Democrats would watch, wait, offer bland statements and essentially hope for the worst. Imagine a great party with only one leader, Joe Lieberman, who approaches the question of Iraq with entire seriousness. And imagine that party being angry with him because he does.

Mr. Bush chose to remove Saddam and liberate Iraq from, well, Saddam. And maybe more. Maybe from its modern sorry past. Pat Buchanan said a few months ago something bracing in its directness. He said a constitution doesn't make a country; a country makes a constitution. But today, in the voting, we may see more of the rough beginnings of a new exception to that rule. News reports both in print and on television also seem to be suggesting a turn. They seem to suggest a new knowledge on the ground in Iraq that democracy is inevitable, is the future, and if you don't want to be left behind you'd better jump in. One senses a growing democratic spirit. A sense that daring deeds can produce real progress.

'Tis devoutly to be wished, and all of good faith must wish it.
All of good faith must wish it. This was left unsaid, probably deliberately by Ms. Noonan, but what does that say about the good faith of the Democratic Party?

In his speech yesterday the president said the obvious: that the intelligence received in the buildup to the war was faulty. He asserted that Saddam's past and present history justified invasion nonetheless. This left me thinking again about a particular part of the WMD story. I decided my own position in support of invasion after Colin Powell warned the U.N. in dramatic terms of Saddam's development of weapons that were wicked, illegal and dangerous to the stability of the world. It is to me beyond belief that he was not speaking what he believed to be true. And I believed him, as did others.

Later Howard Dean, that human helium balloon ever resistant to the gravity of mature judgment, said of the administration that they lied us into war. He left no doubt that he meant they did it deliberately and cynically. But there seems to me a thing that is blindingly obvious, and yet I've never seen it remarked upon. It is that an administration that would coldly lie us into Iraq is an administration that would lie about what was found there. And yet the soldiers, searchers and investigators who looked high and low throughout Iraq made it clear they had found nothing, an outcome the administration did not dispute and came to admit. But an administration that would lie about reasons would lie about results, wouldn't it? Or try to? Yet they were candid.

Wouldn't it be good if our serious journalists and historians looked into what happened to weapons that Saddam once used and once had? He abused weapons inspectors who came looking, acting like a man who had a great deal to hide. And wouldn't it be good for our serious journalists and historians to look into exactly how it is that faulty intelligence, of such a crucial nature and at such a crucial moment, came to America and Britain? It is still amazing. Oh, for journalists and historians who would look only for truth and not merely for data that justify their politics and ideology.
A human helium balloon ever resistant to the gravity of mature judgment? That has to be my favorite line about Howard Dean.

Also, she claims that "an administration that would coldly lie us into Iraq is an administration that would lie about what was found there." That brings up another question I heard recently -- if Bush lied us into war, wouldn't he know he'd get caught? Why would he bring that upon himself? And spare me the crap about Bush's intelligence -- you can't simultaneously be the biggest idiot on the face of the earth and steal two straight national elections.

And finally, another reason I like, er, hate Peggy Noonan. She's a conservative, but when the Republican administration is being stupid, she's not shy about telling them:
I have been thinking about what hasn't worked, in the year since the 2004 election, about the president's communication of his aims and efforts in Iraq. Or rather why it didn't work, why it seemed unpersuasive, why his statements seemed more repetitive than memorable. The president's focus was fractured, and by a number of things. By ill judgment -- deciding Social Security was the new No. 1 issue. By bad luck -- Katrina, etc. And by tone deafness, from "You're doing a heck of a job, Brownie" to Harriet Miers. The Iraq picture got blurred. But when a political picture gets blurred, people wonder if the blurring isn't deliberate and diversionary, a way of taking everyone's eyes off the facts. Skepticism grows.

And there is I think another part. It is that this White House believes way too much in spin.

David Brooks noted last Sunday on "Meet the Press" that in private Bush aides are knowledgeable and forthcoming about the war--this is working, this isn't, we made a mistake here and are fixing it in this way--but that in public they rely too much on platitudes and talking points.

It's true. The Bush White House treats the message of the day as if it were the only raft in high seas. Hold, cling, don't let go. Their discipline seems not persuasive but panicky.

They think their adherence to spin is sophisticated and ahead of the curve, but it is not. What is sophisticated is to know that the American people have been immersed in media for half a century and know when they're being talked to by robots who got wound up in the spin shop. They are not impressed by rote repetition, cheery insistence or clunky symbolism. They see through it. When you have the president make a big speech and he's standing under the sign that says VICTORY, the American people actually know you're trying to send an unconscious message: Bush equals victory, Bush will bring victory, victory is coming. It's not so much nefarious as corny.

There is the sense sometimes with this White House that they learned more from Bill Clinton than from Ronald Reagan. What did Mr. Clinton and his spinners and handlers and media mavens and compulsive line-givers teach us? "It's all about Bill." He's the man, he's at the center, he's so brilliant. He had a tough childhood, he's building a legacy, it's Bill Bill Bill.

The Bush White House--and the president--have in the same way made Iraq a Bush drama. Bush won't cut and run, Bush has personal relationships, Bush is like Harry Truman, Bush will hold to his word. Look, he's landing on an aircraft carrier. It's all about Bush.

Modern White Houses think the man has to be the emblem of the actions. But thinking this way is not helpful, not in any serious way, and the Bush White House should stop it. Because it's mildly creepy; because it puts too much on your guy, which means he has to be lucky for everything to work, and nothing's worse to rely on in politics than luck. And most important because it's actually not about Bush, it's about America.

Ronald Reagan fought a war, but he didn't think it was about him, he thought it was about America. He didn't think it was about his principles; he thought it was about America's. He didn't land on aircraft carriers; he built them.

This war isn't about Bush, or shouldn't be, or can't be if it is to have meaning, and to end in success. It's bigger than that. It's bigger than him.
It's actually not about Bush, it's about America. The sooner everyone -- Bush, the Republicans, the Democrats and the world -- understands that, the sooner we can have a serious conversation about the challenges of our country instead of debating the president's IQ.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Today's sign that the apocalypse is imminent

The Idaho House of Representatives commends the makers and the host city of the movie Napoleon Dynamite (which my nieces would use as evidence to show that I have no sense of humor as I thought it was quite possibly the stupidest movie in the history of mankind).

Once you get through the first four Whereas clauses to the "meat" of the matter, you too will be looking to the skies for Christ's return:

Be It Resolved by the Legislature of the State of Idaho:

WHEREAS, the State of Idaho recognizes the vision, talent and creativity of Jared and Jerusha Hess in the writing and production of "Napoleon Dynamite"; and
WHEREAS, the scenic and beautiful City of Preston, County of Franklin and the State of Idaho are experiencing increased tourism and economic growth; and
WHEREAS, filmmaker Jared Hess is a native Idahoan who was educated in the Idaho public school system; and
WHEREAS, the Preston High School administration and staff, particularly the cafeteria staff, have enjoyed notoriety and worldwide attention; and
WHEREAS, tater tots figure prominently in this film thus promoting Idaho's most famous export; and
WHEREAS, the friendship between Napoleon and Pedro has furthered multiethnic relationships; and
WHEREAS, Uncle Rico's football skills are a testament to Idaho athletics; and
WHEREAS, Napoleon's bicycle and Kip's skateboard promote better air quality and carpooling as alternatives to fuel-dependent methods of transportation; and
WHEREAS, Grandma's trip to the St. Anthony Sand Dunes highlights a long-honored Idaho vacation destination; and
WHEREAS, Rico and Kip's Tupperware sales and Deb's keychains and glamour shots promote entrepreneurism and self-sufficiency in Idaho's small towns; and
WHEREAS, Napoleon's artistic rendition of Trisha is an example of the importance of the visual arts in K-12 education; and
WHEREAS, the schoolwide Preston High School student body elections foster an awareness in Idaho's youth of public service and civic duty; and
WHEREAS, the "Happy Hands" club and the requirement that candidates for school president present a skit is an example of the importance of theater arts in K-12 education; and
WHEREAS, Pedro's efforts to bake a cake for Summer illustrate the positive connection between culinary skills to lifelong relationships; and
WHEREAS, Kip's relationship with LaFawnduh is a tribute to e-commerce and Idaho's technology-driven industry; and
WHEREAS, Kip and LaFawnduh's wedding shows Idaho's commitment to healthy marriages; and
WHEREAS, the prevalence of cooked steak as a primary food group pays tribute to Idaho's beef industry; and
WHEREAS, Napoleon's tetherball dexterity emphasizes the importance of physical education in Idaho public schools; and
WHEREAS, Tina the llama, the chickens with large talons, the 4-H milk cows, and the Honeymoon Stallion showcase Idaho's animal husbandry; and
WHEREAS, any members of the House of Representatives or the Senate of the Legislature of the State of Idaho who choose to vote "Nay" on this concurrent resolution are "FREAKIN' IDIOTS!" and run the risk of having the "Worst Day of Their Lives!"

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the members of the First Regular Session of the Fifty-eighth Idaho Legislature, the House of Representatives and the Senate concurring therein, that we commend Jared and Jerusha Hess and the City of Preston for showcasing the positive aspects of Idaho's youth, rural culture, education system, athletics, economic prosperity and diversity.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we, the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate of the State of Idaho, advocate always following your heart, and thus we eagerly await the next cinematic undertaking of Idaho's Hess family.
A tribute to e-commerce? Promoting entreprenuerism and self-sufficiency? The positive connection between culinary skills to lifelong relationships? Actually, now that I read the whole thing, I think that was way funnier than the movie. Anything that calls elected officials "Freakin' idiots" can't be all bad.

Quote of the Day

From Portland blogger Jack Bogdanski, on the news that Erik Sten will run for reelection to the Portland City Council:
Given all the grief I've given Sten on this blog over the years, readers might expect me to be ready to endorse his opponent. Unfortunately, his only credible challenger is Ginny Burdick, a state legislator who's gone over to the dark side at Gard and Gerber, the official p.r. firm of the West Hills Mafia. It's a classic showdown between incompetent socialism and highly effective corruption. I'd have a hard time voting either way.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Ron Saxton's campaign giving

Felix Schein, a campaign consultant to Ron Saxton, wrote a response to Northwest Republican last week. In it, Schein defended Saxton (a Republican candidate for Oregon governor in 2002 & again next year) as a "lifelong Republican" who has given generously to Republican causes. NWR quickly determined that several aspects of Schein's piece were lacking in factual backing (i.e. they were wrong), but there was one piece that bugged me.

Schein wrote:
Over the last fifteen years, Ron Saxton and his wife Lynne have contributed more than $20,000 to Republican candidates and causes. Among those who have received contributions; President George W. Bush (2000 and 2004), Senator Gordon Smith (multiple contributions), Congressman Greg Walden (multiple contributions), Senator Mark Hatfield (multiple contributions), The Republican National Committee (multiple contributions) and the Oregon Republican Party.
. . .
So, while it is true that as Chairman of the AterWynne law firm, Mr. Saxton and the firm contributed to Democrats running for local office, it is misleading and incorrect to suggest that those contributions were made by Mr. Saxton personally or exclusively to Democrats – or that his history of supporting Republicans is more questionable than that of Mr. Atkinson or Mr. Mannix.
There were two things that seemed worthy of review in that statement: the claims of strong support for Republicans, and the suggestion that any donations to Democrats were simply part of doing business at his law firm.

So, off to the web I went: The Institute on Money in State Politics and OpenSecrets.org. And what I found confirmed some of what Schein wrote, while seeming to refute other parts.

After examining the records, I think the message I took from Saxton's campaign contributions was twofold: Saxton does give to conservatives, but seems to like giving to "moderate" Republicans and Democrats at least as much as to conservatives; and if you're a lawyer, you have a better than average chance of receiving contributions (though most Saxton contributions came just days before or after the election, thus doing little except helping to retire campaign debt).

Schein is right about this: Saxton has given almost $21,000 to Republican candidates and committees since 1990. He has also given just over $6,000 to Democrats in that time, but the last donation to a Democrat was $500 to Earl Blumenauer's campaign for the U.S. House in June 1999. He also gave $1,000 to Ron Wyden's campaign for the U.S. Senate in April 1998. Other gifts to Democrats, all in 1996 or earlier, include:
  • Ginny Burdick, state senate: $250
  • Blumenauer*: $500
  • Democratic Party of Oregon: $250
  • Randall Edwards, state house: $100
  • Phil Keisling, secretary of state: $250
  • Ted Kulongoski, attorney general: $500
  • Kevin Mannix, attorney general: $200
  • Norma Paulus, superintendent of public instruction: $1,250
  • Wyden*: $500
* In addition to those listed in the paragraph above.

The gifts list Saxton's name specifically, and list his occupation as "Ater Wynne," which is the law firm at which he's a partner. Only occasionally does it list his occupation as "attorney."

By contrast, several other contributions are listed as coming from "Ater Wynne," without an accompanying attorney's name, implying that the donations are firm-sanctioned. The firm's donations include $40,000 to Saxton during a three-month period in the 2002 primary (less than a year after he was the firm's chairman). Also on the firm's list from the last six years are a variety of (mostly) Democrat and Republican candidates:
  • Hardy Myers (D), attorney general: $2,000
  • Ted Kulongoski (D), governor: $10,000
  • Senate Republican Leadership Fund of Oregon: $500
  • Thomas Balmer, Oregon Supreme Court: $1,950
  • Senate Democratic Leadership Fund of Oregon: $500
  • Jim Hill (D), governor: $100
  • Majority of Oregon (R): $250
  • Oregon House Democrats/Future PAC: $1,500
  • Paul DeMuniz, Oregon Supreme Court: $1,000
  • Randall Edwards (D), governor: $250
  • Gary Bruebaker (D), state treasurer: $300
Is it reasonable to assume that donations with Saxton's name are Saxton's donations, and donations with Ater Wynne's name are the firm's donations? I think so.

But also of interest is the Republicans that Saxton has chosen to support.

They include people I would classify as conservative, including Keith Parker, who lost an Oregon House race by 40 votes to Jeff Barker in 2002; Bill Witt, who served two terms in the state house before losing to Charlie Ringo for a senate seat in 2002; and Lynn Snodgrass, who lost to Bill Bradbury for secretary of state in 2000. (I'm going on memory here, so correct me if you disagree with my labels.)

At the federal level, Saxton has given $5,000 to George W. Bush (including a $2,000 gift from Saxton's wife), $4,500 to Sen. Gordon Smith, and $2,200 to Rep. Greg Walden. He also gave $1,000 to the Oregon Republican Party.

Other federal giving in the last 10 years included:
  • Lisa Murkowski (R), U.S. Senate, Alaska: $1,000
  • Molly Bordonaro (R), U.S. House, Oregon: $250
But Saxton's giving targets also include people that Lars Larson would affectionately call RINOs, including:
  • Max Williams, a Tigard Republican who was whisked out of the legislature by Gov. Kulongoski to head the state corrections division. While in the state house, Williams proposed a 5 percent sales tax (together with reductions in the income, inheritance & capital gains taxes); favored the income tax increase that was defeated by voters in January 2003; and was questionable on property rights.
  • Lane Shetterly, a Dallas Republican who was whisked out of the legislature by Gov. Kulongoski to head the state Department of Land Conservation and Development. For more info, see Max Williams. Where Max goes, Lane seems to show up. And vice versa.
And both are attorneys, along with Murkowski, Parker, Witt, Mannix & Randy Miller.

Here's a list of Saxton's state contributions over the last 10 years:
  • Parker (R), state house: $100
  • Mannix (R), governor: $300
  • Williams (R), state house: $100
  • Shetterly (R), state house: $250
  • Witt (R), state senate: $275
  • Majority of Oregon (R): $940
  • Mannix (R), attorney general: $250
  • Snodgrass (R), secretary of state: $250
  • Williams (R), state house: $100
  • Tom Hartung (R), state senate: $100
  • Randy Miller (R), state senate: $200
  • Anitra Rasmussen (D), state house: $100
  • Jim Westwood (Natural Law), Oregon Supreme Court: $150
  • Jeannette Hamby (R), state senate: $100
  • Jack Roberts, state labor commissioner: $200
  • Ginny Burdick (D), state senate: $250
  • Jane Lokan (R), state house: $200
  • Beverly Clarno (R), state treasurer: $200
  • Mannix (D), attorney general: $200
  • Randall Edwards (D), state house: $100
  • Phil Keisling (D), secretary of state: $250
(I'm hoping someone can fill me in on the Majority of Oregon. I couldn't find much in a Google search.)

So to sum up, Saxton definitely has been a Republican supporter for the last six years or so (which is, coincidentally, when he probably started thinking about running for governor), but he also has a clear history of supporting Democrats and "moderate" Republicans over the last 15 years. And I have trouble buying the argument that it was a law firm decision — if so, then why not list it solely as an Ater Wynne contribution?

I'm inclined to cut Saxton some slack because I didn't vote for anyone with an R next to their name until 1994. However, there are two problems with that: Saxton is more than 10 years older than me, and I'm not running for governor. Schein and Saxton can't conveniently ignore or dismiss Saxton's history of support for Democrats if they hope to win the Republican primary in five months.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Quote of the Day

From Victor Davis Hanson, writing in today's NRO:
Contrast the Democratic reactions [to Iraq] to respective advice offered by Congressman [John] Murtha and Senator Joe Lieberman. The former is a respected but not nationally known Democratic figure; the latter ran for the vice presidency of the United States. The Democrats gushed over Murtha’s bleak Dean-like assessment that the war is essentially lost and that we must leave as soon as possible. But then when a vote was called on the issue, they voted overwhelmingly not to follow the congressman’s prescription.

In contrast, when Lieberman returned from Iraq and gave a cautiously optimistically appraisal that our plan of encouraging elections, training Iraqis, and improving the Iraqi economy is working both inside Iraq and in the wider neighboring region, he was shunned by Democrats — who nevertheless by their inaction essentially agreed with Lieberman and so made no move to demand an immediate withdrawal. How odd to be effusive over the Democrat whose advice you reject while ignoring the spokesman whose advice you actually follow.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Abortion news that makes you say "Hmmm..."

Bet you won't read this in your morning paper:
A leading expert on the morning after pill admitted at a National Press Club forum [Tuesday] that "real world" experience of easy access to the drug has not reduced the numbers of pregnancies or abortions.

Kirsten Moore, president and CEO of Reproductive Health Technologies Project, there is no evidence that easy access to the morning-after pill reduces pregnancies or abortions, as pro-abortion groups have claimed.

The claim has been a rallying point for abortion advocates who want the FDA to approve the drug, which sometimes causes an abortion, for over the counter sale and wants mandates forcing pharmacists to fill prescriptions for it.

"I think it's an honest question, the experts had estimated that we would see a drop by up to half in the rates of unintended pregnancy and the rates of abortion. And in fact in the real world we're not seeing that," Moore said.
. . .
Advocates for Plan B have based their claim on a hypothesis asserted by the Alan Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of Planned Parenthood. Yet studies, including one by a Planned Parenthood medical director in San Francisco, find the morning after pill does not reduce abortion and pregnancy rates the way AGI claimed.
The Reproductive Health Technologies Project, by the way, is obviously a huge advocate for the morning-after pill, so this admission should carry significant weight. Wendy Wright, the executive vice president of Concerned Women for America and one of the panelists with Moore, said "the studies she's seen show an increase in the rate of sexually transmitted diseases, which the drug is not intended to prevent."

So to sum up, we have no reduction in pregnancies, no reduction in abortions, and an increase in STDs. But the FDA -- and by extension, the stomp-on-women's-rights Bush administration -- is forcing the religious right down our throat by denying over-the-counter availability? Sounds like good science to me.

Cool site of the day

According to this, my name was already waning in popularity by 15 years when I was born, though it was still ranked 21st in the 1960s. My wife's name dropped precipitously in the decade she was born, ranking her in the top 40 in that decade. And my kids were both gaining rapidly when they were born (one kid was the No. 2 name last year, and the other made a huge jumped in the 90's to a top-100 ranking over the last 15 years).

Be sure to put your mouse over the top of the chart to see where your name ranks.

Quote of the Day

I was starting to think I might never type these words, but Portland Mayor Tom Potter is actually making some sense.

In today's Oregonian, we learn that negotiations on a new contract to operate PGE Park didn't include money for a "fair wage," which the city defines as at least $10.28 per hour. Without the fair wage provisions, all those hotdog vendors and ticket takers will likely make minimum wage (which increases to $7.50 next month).

It's not until the 16th -- and last -- paragraph of the story that we read Potter's comments:
"I think it's going to be an interesting discussion (at today's city council meeting), but I'm not convinced we need it," Mayor Tom Potter said. "I have strong feelings about providing good jobs. But these are part-time jobs, seasonal jobs."
Exactly. Part-time, seasonal jobs. Not living wage jobs. Many of which, by the way, are filled by school teachers looking for a little extra summer income. The Oregonian story tries to imply that the "fair wage" is necessary by suggesting that those poor schoolteachers are just scraping by:
Back when they borrowed $38.5 million to refurbish the old Civic Stadium, Portland leaders talked about making millions of dollars each year from the ballpark. That gave them the freedom to promise a fair wage to ballpark workers, many of them schoolteachers who relied on their stadium jobs for extra income. But the ballpark has proven a boondoggle, at least so far.
(The average school teacher salary is somewhere north of $40,000 a year, by the way.)

Regardless, is it really the city's responsibility to chip in another $350,000 for "fair wages" for such jobs? Especially when the city has lost millions upon millions in the park in the last five years?

Coyote called it

Gotta love it when your sources are right.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Quote of the Day

From Multnomah County Commissioner Serena Cruz to County Sheriff Bernie Guisto, on the reason the commission (at least temporarily) won't give Guisto more money for jail operations:
You’ve said it’s a resource-balancing issue, and what I think is that it’s a resource-management issue.
Oh, that's rich. When is the last time you heard Cruz or any other commissioner argue that more money was unnecessary if the government agency in question would just manage its funds more responsibly?

Pot, meet kettle.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Nitpicking today's Oregonian editorials

The O writes two editorials today that I take some issue with: the parental notification case at the Supreme Court yesterday, and legislation regarding Oregon's concealed handgun permit process.

On the parental notification issue, the O asks retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor to "write fast" so that Samuel Alito (if confirmed) doesn't get a chance to participate in the ruling in the case of Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood:
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard its first major abortion case in five years. The issue at hand is the constitutionality of a New Hampshire law requiring young women to notify at least one parent before getting an abortion. The law makes no exceptions to protect women's health -- not even to avert a severe health crisis.

Doctors could bypass the parent or judge only if the young woman would die without swift medical intervention. If this law sounds harsh, it was meant to be. The New Hampshire Legislature decided that the common exception to protect young women's health created too big of a "loophole."
There are a few assumptions that bug me here:
  1. How do they know O'Connor would support Planned Parenthood in this case? Her rulings have been all over the map, and voiding a parental notification case is no sure thing.
  2. How do they know Alito would support New Hampshire on this case? Yes, he wrote in a job application that he opposed Roe v. Wade. But his rulings and writings have been as an appeals court judge and as an advocate for the Reagan administration. I am no legal scholar (obviously), but interpreting the Constitution strikes me as a little bit different than interpreting Supreme Court precedent.
  3. As the O acknowledges, a 5-4 decision will cause the case to be reargued with Alito (or whomever follows him) in O'Connor's seat. So again, what difference does it make if she "writes fast"? (Maybe if O'Connor and Alito differ, the Democrats can use the opinions as another rhetorical weapon against the president.)
  4. Abortion supporters love to champion this "health exception" as a way to paint abortion opponents as thinking only of the child, not the mother. The trouble is that this "health exception" can be invoked simply by saying, "I'm pregnant and it's depressing" or "I'm pregnant and it's given me a headache." Those are not appropriate safeguards that should override a parent's right to guide his or her child.
Which leads me to my biggest gripe. The editorial concludes:
. . . the [Ayotte] case helps illustrate the most troubling difference between O'Connor and the man who may replace her.

One is a very smart conservative who tends to treat women as full citizens with privacy rights under the Constitution.

One is a very smart conservative who doesn't.
I'll leave aside the suggestion that O'Connor is a conservative...

Part of the O's editorial deals with Alito's 1992 ruling about spousal notification, but the meat of the column deals with Ayotte. That's why their comment about treating women "as full citizens with privacy rights under the Constitution" doesn't apply -- teenage girls don't have the privacy rights of adults, and it's dishonest and misleading to claim otherwise.

On the handgun issue, the editorial discusses what sounds like an inadvertent legislative language error that has made it more difficult for law enforcement to revoke the concealed handgun permit of "angry people."

That sounds like a somewhat arbitrary standard -- it refers to a permit holder who "left more than a dozen threatening messages in the voice mailboxes of state and telephone company employees," but doesn't further define the threats -- but I'm not a big Second Amendment guy and don't know the concealed weapon laws. (Maybe Gully could shed some light on this?)

As I understand it, very few crimes are committed by concealed permit holders; rather, they are a deterrent to criminals. So the thing that bugged me was the veiled insinuation that permit holders are a threat. The editorial concludes:
While sheriffs say they know of a few people who have concealed handgun permits they'd like to revoke, so far, thank goodness, none of them has hurt anybody. Assuming the 2007 Legislature fixes its apparent mistake, the sheriffs can improve the odds of continuing that record of safety.

In the meantime, it's in the community's interest to make sure the almost 93,000 holders of Oregon concealed weapons permits wake up each day with smiles on their faces. Don't cut in front of them at the mall, don't gesture angrily at them in traffic and above all, don't send them any fruitcakes this season.
Is there such as thing as a class-action libel lawsuit? Because I think the Oregonian just stepped up to the libel line by suggesting that one in every 40 state residents are a potential danger to society.

Don't send them any fruitcakes? Ha-frickin'-ha.

ULC beats the Corner

For probably the only time in my blogging life, Upper Left Coast beat The Corner to the punch. Woohoo!