Upper Left Coast

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

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Joke of the Day

From my uncle, the family comedian:


An atheist was walking through the woods. He said to himself: "What majestic trees! What powerful rivers! What beautiful animals!"

As he was walking alongside the river, he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him. He turned to look, and saw a seven-foot grizzly charge towards him. He ran as fast as he could up the path.

He looked over his shoulder and saw that the bear was closing in on him. He tripped and fell on the ground. He rolled over to pick himself up but saw that the bear was right on top of him, reaching for him with his left paw and raising his right paw to strike him.

At that instant the atheist cried out, "Oh my God!"

Time stopped. The bear froze. The forest was silent.

As a bright light shone upon the man, a voice came out of the sky. "You deny my existence for all these years, teach others I don't exist and even credit creation to cosmic accident. Do you expect me to help you out of this predicament? Am I to count you as a believer?"

The atheist looked directly into the light. "It would be hypocritical of me to suddenly ask You to treat me as a Christian now, but perhaps You could make the BEAR a Christian?"

"Very well," said the voice.

The light went out. The sounds of the forest resumed. And the bear dropped his right paw, brought both paws together, bowed his head and spoke:

"Lord, bless this food which I am about to receive from thy bounty through Christ our Lord, Amen."

Monday, February 27, 2006

Don't dump on Dubai

Citizen Smash has an insightful first-person account of the city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. I'm still not convinced it's a good idea for Dubai World Ports to be running American ports, but Smash's depiction is worthy of consideration.

(HT: TC)

Teachers didn't put us in this handbasket

So says S. Renee Mitchell in this morning's Oregonian. Here's the start of today's column, referring to a column last week in which she defended teachers against charges of unreasonable pay:
I wasn't surprised to get so much feedback about my column on public school funding.

I was surprised at the hostility against teachers -- who, by the way, have to work at least 14 years and get a master's degree before they reach the $60,000-a-year watermark.

And, one of the reasons they have great health benefits is because since 1993, on and off, the district negotiated for benefits in lieu of raises.

So, your salary and pension envy is well-noted, but misdirected. You shouldn't be angry about how much teachers get paid, but how little money most everyone else makes.
So in last week's column, she quoted a teacher named Laura, who is also an employee at a weight-loss facility and needs the extra income to make ends meet. The poor teachers, they're really underpaid -- the vast majority don't make anything close to $60,000 a year, and they have to take second jobs in the summer to make extra income. (Never mind that they have the time in the summer to do so; the rest of us work all year.)

Now, the story is different. Essentially, Mitchell says, the teachers make a decent income, but you shouldn't be mad at them -- you should be mad at society (and I guess, by extension, the big bad corporations), which doesn't pay the rest of us enough. She says we're "economically insecure" because we see the inequities of life:
You see how bureaucracies waste money. CEOs make a gazillion dollars a year. And developers can't build enough million-dollar penthouses.
So bureaucratic waste is an issue, but the real enemy is those evil CEOs and all those filthy rich people buying the plethora of million-dollar penthouses. The real enemy, Mitchell goes on, is the increasing disparity between rich and poor, which has led to children who can't learn. (What's George W. Bush's line? "The bigotry of soft expectations"?)

Well, Ms. Mitchell, I have a little beef with what you wrote, and it's this: we, the taxpaying public working in the private sector, are paid what the market will bear. We get paid what society (and those evil CEOs) is willing to pay for our efforts and our products.

Most of us don't have tenure. We don't have PERS or (in many cases) any sort of retirement plan. Most don't have unions berating our customers when we want a raise, or when we don't want to pay a ten dollar copay. The teachers are paid not what society dictates, but what the union is able to extract from school boards across the state, who are supposed to be representing us. The taxpayers. The customers. The ones who elected those board members.

And your comment that teachers have received great benefit packages instead of raises? I'm willing to bet my next insurance payment (every penny of which I -- as a self-employed American -- pay out of my own pocket) that the teachers didn't forgo raises for the last 13 years. Maybe they got a 2 percent raise instead of a 4 percent raise, but I dare you to look me in the eyes and tell me with a straight face that you haven't received some sort of salary increase in conjunction with those benefit improvements.

Bitter? Me? Maybe. I recognize that the vast majority of teachers are simply trying to make a living while pursuing the noble goal of educating the next generation. I recognize that my ire is properly aimed at a combination of teachers' unions, school boards, legislators, and external forces such as healthcare costs.

I guess I'm just tired of hearing how the teachers are underpaid and overworked. Or, if you listen to S. Renee Mitchell, they're not really underpaid and overworked -- the rest of us are. If public education were subject to the same market forces as the rest of us, and teachers received the same pay and benefits as they do currently, I'd be more comfortable with it. But they don't.

I've said before that a legitimate argument can be made that public schools are underfunded compared to five years ago, but something's gotta give. I see little indication that the people spending our money understand how the people paying the money feel; the taxpaying public is simply left holding the bill, and the calls for a larger bill -- despite the fact that my property taxes for local schools increased 36 percent since 2001 -- continue.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Out of the mouths of babes...

My wife works as a secretary, under the direction of two attorneys. Today, my 7-year-old daughter asked her a question to which she already knew the answer: "Mom, who's your boss?"

Our habit, when a child asks a question they already know, is to repeat the question, so my wife responded, "Who is my boss?"

After a moment of silence, my 3-year-old chimed in with her answer: "Daddy!"

That's my girl. :-)

Thoughts from the Saturday Oregonian

I bought a paper this morning to read while my kids were in swimming lessons, and a few things caught my eye:

Memo to Gov. Ted Kulongoski: If you have to proclaim -- nay, yell -- before a friendly crowd a the Portland City Club that you're a "great Democrat," you're probably not one.

Unfriendly? Outmoded? Give me a break: Paul Allen is bummed because his Seahawks, which just played in the Super Bowl, play in pretty new stadium, while the Trail Blazers play in an "outmoded arena controlled by a bunch of unfriendly former lenders." And oh, by the way, he wants the city to become a partner (read: give money) to Allen's poor business management. Well, guess what, Mr. Allen? That "outmoded arena" will hit its 11th birthday this fall, so spare me the exaggeration about age. And those former lenders are "unfriendly" because, despite the fact that you're one of the top 10 richest men in the world, you stiffed them the money they were owed by declaring bankruptcy. Oh, and that "public-private partnership" you're after? I really hope you keep asking for it, and I really hope you threaten to move without it, because I'll be happy to help you pack. Maybe with the Blazers out of the picture, we can get baseball or football to come, but regardless -- no money from us, Mr. Allen.

Speaking of stiffing someone: A groom leaves his bride at the altar, leaving the bride's father with the wedding bill of almost $65,000. I sympathize with the bride, as she gave birth to the couple's child last month, but you can bet that the groom will be paying child-support whether he decides to marry the woman or not. The story says "the bridal couple did not cut corners," and quotes the attorney of the bride's father as saying "Their tastes in picking nice things left no stone unturned." You think? Sixty-five thousand dollars?! Jeez! My bride and I spent about $6,000, including a week-long Hawaiian honeymoon. I thought maybe you could blame it on youthful indiscretion, but this couple are both in their late 30s. I blame it on a dad who couldn't say no to his baby girl, and now wants someone else to pay for his weak backbone.

Flooding in . . . Indonesia

You know the horrible news about a village that was swallowed up by a mudslide in the Philippines? Well, unless you read, say, BBC's Asia-Pacific edition, you probably wouldn't know that the rains, flooding, and related problems were more widespread than the Filipino people.

We have friends living in Indonesia, and they sent a few pictures from their neck of the jungle. On the first one, note the water line about five feet up the wall. On the second, note what's being poured out the window -- the stuff all over the ground, which was all over the floor of the house. (Click on the photos to see a bigger version.)

Friday, February 24, 2006

The perfect remote (for a man)

Thanks to my uncle, the family comedian.

All life is important

And this video from CBS News is an example of why.

(HT: Jack)

Sen. Clinton's sudden interest in port management

Andrew McCarthy is consistently one of the most astute writers on national security and law enforcement, and today's column at NRO is no exception. In it, he notes with interest that Hillary Clinton -- seeing an opportunity to emphasize her supposed "centrist" tendencies -- has suddenly taken an interest in the security of the nation's shipping ports.

This is ironic because it assumes, in McCarthy's words, that Sen. Clinton has to hope for a case of collective national amnesia in order to make her case.

In 1992, Bill Clinton made the growing threat of China a campaign issue, but upon winning the election, turned a blind eye to the Chinese "threat" -- and oh, by the way, China now controls several West Coast port operations.

Here's how McCarthy ties the Chinese issue into the United Arab Emirates:
Of course, in the Clinton years, when anyone had the temerity to suggest that maybe it wasn’t such a hot idea to give away the store to thuggish, democracy-crushing Communists, we were told such troglodyte notions were insentient to the alchemy of “constructive engagement.” This was the very “why make friends when you can let them buy you?” philosophy that led these super-competent, obsessed-with-national-security Clintonistas to sell $8 billion worth of F-16s, anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles, other advanced weapons, and sundry munitions to — guess who? — The United Arab Emirates.

That happened in early 2000. For those keeping score, that’s less than two years after al Qaeda blew up our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. It is one year after the Clinton administration had Osama bin Laden targeted at a camp in Afghanistan … but called the strike off because the al Qaeda chief was in the company of high UAE officials, including an Emirati prince. A few months later, while the Clinton folks were getting the UAE its new military hardware, the regime’s friends at al Qaeda were blowing up the U.S.S. Cole.

So why do I have this crazy feeling that, in a new Clinton era, we’d be apt to find a lot more “engagement” than exclusion of the UAE (not to mention other dubious “partners”) at our ports? In any event, now that Senator Clinton is all over this port thing, it’ll be interesting to hear how she plans to tackle those dread Chinese foreigners managing California’s coastline — not to mention her explanation of why the administration in which she figured so prominently thought it was okay to sell lots of stuff that goes boom to a country apparently not even fit to run a port terminal.
As McCarthy notes later in the column, this does not mean the port deal is a good idea. After all, the UAE :
  • Has been a hub for international narcotics trafficking and money laundering;
  • Operates under Sharia law, which makes it an imprisonable offense for a Muslim woman to marry a non-Muslim man, or to urge Muslims to convert to other faiths;
  • Believes in the idea of eliminating Israel from the map, and "may well be funding" terrorism in Gaza and the West Bank;
  • Was a key supporter of the Taliban government in Afghanistan.
  • Has been a "transfer-station for nuclear components" sold by the A.Q. Kahn network to Iran, North Korea and Libya.
All this makes the Clinton administration decision to sell weapons to the UAE look even more foolish. Beyond that, McCarthy is right on two major points: Sen. Clinton was a key player in the executive branch from 1992-2000, and the history of national security under that executive branch leaves Sen. Clinton's current position on the ports issue looking like political posturing for a presidential run.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Quote of the Day: Michael Totten in Iraq

If you're not reading Michael Totten on his journey through the Middle East, you're missing out. Today on his blog, he has a fascinating glimpse into life with the Yezidis, who make up a small segment of the Kurdish world in Northern Iraq.

Michael got to "interview" Baba Sheikh, the Yezidi version of an Imam or chief priest, in which Baba Sheikh made several distinctions about Muslims; these included a statement that the Christians were wiser than Muslims because the Muslims tried dozens of times (unsuccessfully) to conquer the Yezidis, while the Christians had not.

Later, Michael asked his translator (a Muslim) about the words he'd heard:
I asked Birzo if he found Baba Sheik’s comments about Islam and Muslims offensive.

“Of course not,” he said. “I understand his mentality and he understands mine. It’s okay. We are Kurds. Kurds don’t get upset about religion. We aren’t like Arabs. We believe in arguments based on reason, not emotion. If people don’t agree with me about something, I’m not going to get mad at them. We will just have different opinions.”
I, and much of our country, could learn a few things from these peaceful, (dare I say?) simple people.

The Constitution: "Living" or "Enduring"?

Jonah Goldberg writes an interesting and insightful column on the Liberal (with a big L, not a little one) invocation of the "Living Constitution" when it suits their purposes. The whole kerfuffle over the NSA wiretap issue is Exhibit A, and Goldberg's entire argument is summed up in the last three paragraphs:
Let's stipulate for the sake of argument that Bush's wiretapping is both corrosive to liberty and flatly contradicts the original intent of the founders. Well, in an age when the Constitution is made of flubber, that hardly makes it indefensible. I know that liberals think "evolution" has an inherently positive connotation; that if A evolves to B, then B must be better in some way than A. But, as any conservative will tell you, "evolution" and "improvement" are hardly synonymous.

For the first time in decades, liberals are grasping that the "living Constitution" can grow into something tyrannical. They had no problem with the Constitution's blob-like expansion into areas conservatives cherish (nor did they care much when Bill Clinton used the Constitution in ways the anti-Bush crowd now defines as Orwellian). But now that the shoe's on the other foot, they suddenly see genius in those old fusty white men.

The problem is, you can't switch back and forth from living Constitution to dead and keep your credibility. The whole point of constitutions is that the rules remain the same when convenient and inconvenient, which is why justices like Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia often rule contrary to their political preferences. But liberals ask the Constitution to play dead when convenient, and then, when the temporary crisis has passed, they want it to burst forth in living Technicolor. In other words, the Founding Fathers are only right when Al Gore thinks they were right. All other times, they're irrelevant old white men.
Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Oh. My. God.

Tell me I'm mis-reading this. Tell me it's all a misunderstanding. Tell me that Jimmy Carter isn't defending this.

Never mind. Because it's all too real. Is it my imagination, or is the world getting more whacked by the second?

I've gotta say

This is pretty funny.

(HT: Asher)

Saxton wants a 35% increase in school funding?

I was reading some information from the 2002 Republican gubernatorial primary recently, and saw that Ron Saxton was a co-founder of the "Coalition For School Funding Now!" which is an education advocacy group. In the online voter's pamphlet from that election, Saxton lists the CFSFN among his contributions to community service.

Unfortunately, the domain name for the group must have expired about two days after I read this, but I copied this from their website (emphasis mine):
The Coalition supports full implementation of the Quality Education Model. The Quality Education model determines the level of state-wide resources needed for schools and students to meet the quality education goals established in law. The Coalition advocates that the Governor and State Legislators use it as a tool to develop the K-12 public education budget. Further, the Coalition advocates full funding of the QEM.
What is the Quality Education Model? According to the Oregon School Boards Association, the QEM was set up to determine the level of funding needed to help 90 percent of Oregon students meet state standards. For the 2005-2007 biennium, the QEM recommends $7.1 billion for education; the legislature approved $5.24 billion. Providing full funding for the QEM would mean another $1.86 billion for the ’05-07 biennium, or a 35.5 percent increase.

Another way to look at it: the CFSFN advocates taking a quarter of the state's non-education budget and shifting it into education.

I think a legitimate argument can be made that public education in Oregon is underfunded compared to budgets of five years ago, but regardless, the questions must be asked: Does Saxton still believe that the QEM should be fully funded? If not, what level of funding would he advocate? How would he pay for it? I believe he's pledged not to raise taxes, so what would he cut?

Government has been whining that it doesn't have any more waste to cut, which a part of me finds difficult to believe, but please don't tell me that Saxton can find almost $2 billion in government inefficiencies to pay for it.

Count me surprised

because Measure 37 has apparently been upheld by the Oregon Supreme Court. Now if the legislature will quit trying to neuter the intent...

Monday, February 20, 2006

"Oregon grads struggle in college"

So trumpets the lead headline from the story in today's Oregonian.

My goodness, I think, is school funding slipping so low that our grads can't keep up at the next level?

Then I read the lede:
One in five Oregon high school graduates who entered the state's public universities in fall 2004 dropped out before their sophomore year of college, new state figures show.
OK, so it's not all Oregon graduates, or even most. It's 20 percent. Actually 19 percent, but we don't learn that until the fourth paragraph.

But still, 20 percent is a lot of kids -- more than 1,300 people from the class of 2004 who might struggle to earn a living because, the story insinuates, their high school failed to properly prepare them for secondary education. Our educational system must be failing, the story wants to scream out, if so many kids are dropping out of college before Year Two.

From there, the Oregonian article goes into a long section that describes how academically rigorous schools are better for students' collegiate aspirations, noting Sunset High in Beaverton (89 percent made it to their sophomore year) and Tualatin High (87 percent) as examples. It also talks about how a high percentage of student dropouts never earn a four-year degree or even return to school.

Finally, in the twenty-eighth paragraph, buried on page A6, we read that nationwide, 75 percent of enrollees in public universities make it to their sophomore year. So Oregon, at 81 percent, is actually above average.

But, the chancellor of Oregon's higher education system says, "20 percent is too high an attrition rate."

And you know what? I agree. Twenty percent is too high. But the Oregonian would have you believe that Oregon's high schools are failing. It's not until you read the fine print that you understand what's really going on.

As an aside, I think this is a dangerous measurement to put a lot of stock in when it comes to smaller schools. There were seven schools with perfect scores in this test, all of them with 11 or fewer graduates in state schools: Bonanza (6), Chiloquin (7), McLoughlin (5), Myrtle Point (8), Oakridge (11), Rainier (6), and Reedsport (8). A change of just one student would change their score from anywhere between 9 percent and 20 percent.

Likewise, there were seven schools with scores of less than 60 percent: Dayton (27 graduates, 52%), Enterprise (8, 50%), Grant Union (9, 56%), Jefferson of Portland (23, 52%), Kennedy (12, 25%), Roosevelt (21, 57%), and Wahtonka (7, 29%). Dayton would be above 60 percent if just three more students stayed in school; Jefferson would need two more; Roosevelt just one more. Even poor Kennedy would need only five more.

As another aside, I'm not sure I buy the Oregonian's math. They claim in the story that private schools are only 2 percent better than public schools, with 83 percent of graduates reaching their sophomore year at a public university. On the Oregonian's website, you'll find a PDF filethat lists every Oregon high school, the number of graduates who attended public colleges, the dropout rate, and GPA info. As near as I can tell (and I might have missed some), here are the private schools on the list, along with the number of graduates who went to public colleges, and the percentage who reached their sophomore year:
  • Blanchet Catholic: 13 graduates, 77 percent (10 who made it to sophomore year)
  • Cascade Christian: 8, 75% (6)
  • Central Catholic: 79, 81% (64)
  • Jesuit: 92, 87% (80)
  • La Salle: 41, 80% (33)
  • Marist: 45, 93% (42)
  • Santiam Christian: 15, 87% (13)
  • St. Mary's (PDX): 24, 75% (18)
  • St. Mary's (Medford): 10, 80% (8)
  • Valley Catholic: 31, 90% (28)
  • Westside Christian: 15, 87% (13)
When I do the math, I come up with 373 graduates who went to public colleges, and 315 who went on to their sophomore year. That's almost 85 percent. OK, just a difference of a percentage point or two, but it's simple mistakes like this that make me question what else isn't quite right.

And remember, this is just graduates who went to public colleges. The students who went to private colleges probably had better grade point averages, and were probably more prepared for college. If you really want to compare high schools, let's include those kids, too.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Ben Westlund is right

No, I'm not talking about that "right." I mean, he's correct.

Don't get me wrong. When it comes to politics, I suspect that Mr. Westlund -- who was a marginal Republican at best, and shed his party label recently with the announcement that he'll run for Oregon's governor as an independent -- and I disagree on a variety of topics.

But he's right that the state of politics in Oregon, just like much of the nation, is dysfunctional.

The blogosphere, in many cases, is both a result of that dysfunction and a contributor to it. How many times have you read a blog that not just disagrees with someone, but accuses that person of lying about the subject at hand? Maybe it's not just coincidence that after I started collecting thoughts for this post, the inestimable Jack Bogdanski implemented Nice Week at his blog, saying "We've gotten too negative again, people."

For example A of Blogosphere Dysfunction, go read the comments on this post at Northwest Republican. Here's just one entry, about Jason Atkinson's alleged comments on immigration (bad language alert):
Jason Atkinson DID blame America. Not only that, but he went on and on about how poor and unprivledged the poor illegal aliens are and so we have to understand their plight blah blah blah. No I don't have to. This is the same argument we hear about other criminals from liberals...it isn't their fault, their mom raped them and their dad drank too much and they come from a bad neighborhood and its the system's fault. It's the same crap we hear about terrorists...oh, they don't have power so in order to rage against injustice in their land, they don't have military might, so they had to fly planes into our buildings and blow up our soldiers. Bullshit. They are adults. Either you respect the rules, pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, or you don't. Am I sorry that Mexico is a shithole? Yes. But you know, in America, when our country needed to be lifted out of a morass, we had patriots who dumped their own blood out on the ground to make it happen. Mexicans need to do the same.

So no, Jason Atkinson, I am not going to be moved to think I am at fault for their unwillingness to follow our laws, or to fight the good fight in Mexico to help lift their neighbors out of poverty.

He most certainly blamed us, and that guy who stood up and called bullshit on him was dead on right to do so.

Of course, it's broader than the blogs. Read here about how someone in the audience stood up and hollered at Jason Atkinson for his comments. Take in a few letters to the editor. Go listen to talk radio for a few minutes -- on the left or the right -- and see how long it takes before at least one person is yelling.

Leonard Pitts of the Miami Herald thinks it's because people don't actually put any thought into their arguments -- they just spout the latest (take your choice) DNC/RNC/Daily Kos/Free Republic talking points and proclaim them as God's truth:
It's increasingly the case that there's no such thing as the truth. Rather, we have truths, separate but equal. We choose the one we need, based on which best validates our preferred worldview. We get these truths from radio talk shows and Internet forums that manufacture them according to our political alliances and warn in dire tones against trusting truth that comes from ideologically impure sources.
Now we have designer facts, facts that aren't facts but that gain currency because somebody wanted to believe them. The thing is, facts that really are facts, truth that really is true, doesn't always validate your beliefs. Sometimes it challenges and confounds them. That's probably the problem.
I agree with Pitts from the standpoint that sometimes truth is too messy to completely validate your perspective, though I'll add that Pitts doesn't allow for someone to be misinformed -- he assumes the misinformation is deliberate maliciousness.

Pitts is also stuck in a pre-internet Mainstream Media mindset when he suggests that previous generations had a better grasp on the truth, asking, "Where have you gone, Walter Cronkite?" Pitts seems to assume the longtime CBS newsman set the standard for truthfulness, when he really set the standard for a news monopoly that disseminated its version of truth, regardless of whether it was any more accurate than today's version.

There is an argument to be made that different political parties -- with distinctly different visions about the future -- are a healthy thing. That idea becomes moot, however, when the game of politics becomes one of "gotcha," one of screaming about the other's alleged failings instead of highlighting our own beliefs.

We also have to ask the question: who keeps putting these politicians in office? It's the voters, silly! If the elected are sitting at the extreme reaches of the political spectrum, what does that say for the electorate?

People like Westlund think the reason is that primaries "elect the most democratic Democrats and the most republican Republicans and then we send them all to Salem and wonder why they can’t get along." As a solution, he and Phil Keisling are pushing the Open Primary idea, which would eliminate primaries by political party, lump everyone into the same primary and take the top two vote-getters for the November general election. Westlund thinks this will put "ideas before ideology and people before politics."

I agree that something has to be done, though I'm more than a little wary of this idea. In statewide elections in blue Oregon, I fear two liberals would win, effectively disenfranchising conservatives, and the contest would be one of name familiarity instead of ideas. (Of course, one might ask how that's different from the current setup.) If such a system were in place this year, there would be at least 11 people on the gubernatorial ballot, which is too many names to provide any opportunity for evaluating perspectives -- the top two vote getters would probably be Ted Kulongoski and Ron Saxton, the people with the best name recognition, not the people with the best ideas.

Sure, it would help the legislature work better together -- just like the Multnomah County Commission, which fights not over conservative vs. liberal ideas, but over who can out-stupid the other.

(See, I'm not exempt from the dysfunction -- I just called the Multnomah County Commissioners "stupid." Not that I'm backing away from that label.)

Much of the problem with the state's political dysfunction, I think, has to do with the leadership displayed by the inhabitant of Mahonia Hall. The current governor, Kulongoski, has been a no-show in this regard; his leadership -- any leadership! -- could have pushed the legislature to greater accomplishments. The previous governor, John Kitzhaber, was known as Dr. No because of his unwillingness to work with the Republican-controlled legislature. He simply vetoed bill after bill throughout his eight years.

I think Westlund has a good argument that an independent governor might more easily work with both sides of the aisle than someone with an R or a D next to his name, though I think that argument fails with Westlund because he's a former Republican, so Democrats don't completely trust him, and he was never a strong Republican, so conservatives don't completely trust him.

This idea of leadership from the state's chief executive is one of the reasons I like Jason Atkinson -- yes, he's a conservative (and yes, that's one of the reasons I like him). But he has a perspective that looks for solutions to problems, rather than pointing fingers. He shares the weariness that Oregonians feel toward politics as usual. And frankly, after 20 years of Democrat governors, it's time to look elsewhere.

That leadership from the governor has to include some recognition that both sides of the table bring legitimate concerns. It has to include a willingness on the part of legislators to hear the concerns of Oregonians -- separate from the screams of the special interests -- and work to find solutions. Among the things I'd like to hear:
  • Healthcare may not be a "right," but its importance cannot be underestimated for those who don't have it.
  • Oregonians voted against same-sex marriage and their desires should not be trampled by Basic Rights Oregon and its allies, but that doesn't mean it's appropriate to marginalize the humanity of gays and lesbians.
  • Ditto for illegal immigrants.
  • Taxes are not (and should not be) the end-all and be-all solution to society's problems and government must gain a common-man understanding of the burden that taxation places on families, but that doesn't mean there is no place for taxation in society.
  • Government workers should not be figuratively burned at the stake for the name on their paychecks or the provider of their benefits, but neither should they receive sweetheart deals that the private sector never dreams about, much less receives.
  • There is a place for common-sense land-use laws, but government should never forget that a man's home is his castle and there are very few reasons for the government to have more say over its use than the owner.
Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

Yes, this is for you, Kate Brown, Peter Courtney & Jeff Merkley. Oh, and you too, Ted Ferrioli, Karen Minnis & Wayne Scott. (Not to mention Bill Frist, Harry Reid, John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi.)

Are you listening? Oregon is eager to hear your answer.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Quote of the Day: Nukes in Iran

Victor Davis Hanson, writing in NRO today, on why Iran is particularly troubling as a potential nuclear power:
. . . there are a number of rogue regimes that belong in a special category: North Korea, Iran, Syria, and Cuba . . . When such renegade regimes go nuclear they gain the added lunatic edge: "We are either crazy or have nothing to lose or both — but you aren't." In nuclear poker, the appearance of derangement is an apparent advantage.

. . . there are all sorts of scary combinations — petrodollars, nukes, terrorism, and fanaticism. But Iran is a uniquely fivefold danger. It has enough cash to buy influence and exemption; nuclear weapons to threaten civilization; oil reserves to blackmail a petroleum hungry world; terrorists to either find sanctuary under a nuclear umbrella or to be armed with dirty bombs; and it has a leader who wishes either to take his entire country into paradise, or at least back to the eighth century amid the ashes of the Middle East.

Just imagine the present controversy over the cartoons in the context of President Ahmadinejad with his finger on a half-dozen nuclear missiles pointed at Copenhagen.
Hanson, while second to none in his knowledge and wisdom, is sometimes long-winded; today's entry, however, is worth the time.

George Will is wrong about the NSA issue

And Andrew McCarthy shows why, in yesterday's excellent re-summation of the arguments in favor of the National Security Agency's wiretapping program.

Will's column, which McCarthy calls "an embarrassing magpie of hyperbole and error," is here; McCarthy's answer is here.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Quote of the Day: Shotgun-gate II

Also from Mary Katharine Ham on that same post at HH:
You know why they're mad, right? You know why David Gregory did everything but need a diaper change on national TV the other day?

It's because a small-town reporter at the Corpus Christi Caller-Times got the story before they did. David Gregory needs a binky because the adorable Kathryn Garcia got the story before he did.
I hope David Gregory and his cohorts continue their meltdown, because it only lends credibility to the perspective that mainstream media is losing its grip. Fast.

Understatement of the Day: Cheney v. Press

From Mary Katharine Ham on HughHewitt.com, on Shotgun-gate:
It's not at all that I think shooting someone is no big deal. Very big deal. It's just that there are degrees of seriousness that I think are lost on folks whose shoulders have never nuzzled the butt of a shotgun. Most of the press corps, I think it's safe to assume, are those kind of folks.
Ya think?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

David Wu: delivering the pork

Today in the mail, I received a lovely full-color mailer from my congressman, David Wu. This piece proclaims that Wu "Is Making Sure Oregon's F1rst District Comes F1rst."

Below that statement is a map of the First Congressional District, with callouts listing the money Congressman Wu has steered toward his constituents. Included in the list are some worthy items (and some not), such as:
  • Tsunami education and preparedness;
  • Public safety/law enforcement;
  • Transportation, including highway widening and mass transit;
  • Steering government purchases toward local businesses.
Notable sums include $31 million ("to date") for Washington County commuter rail; $16 million for the Transportation Research Center at Portland State University; $17 million for jetty repair at the mouth of the Columbia River; $11.25 million (over seven years) for repairs to the East Astoria Boat Basin; and $27.5 million ("to date") for the Highway 99W bypass around Newberg and Dundee.

All told, Congressman Wu has sent more than $133 million to the district. (It doesn't say if that's this year, throughout Wu's four terms, or some other timeframe.)

As an aside, I'm guessing Congressman Wu's office spent close to $100,000 to print and mail this piece. It's a large piece (25 x 11), printed in full color, folded and mailed. With almost 700,000 residents in the First District, I figure he's printed something close to 200,000 pieces. I have a little bit of experience with producing printed materials (though not at those quantities), and I wouldn't be surprised if something like this would cost at least 25 cents apiece just to print, nevermind the design, mailing list and postage. Oh, and it was printed in a union-operated shop, so the price is instantly higher than a non-union shop. As it says on the outside: "This mailing was prepared, published and mailed at taxpayer expense."

But remember: earmarks and pork are solely a problem with the corrupt Republicans.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Blue Oregon smokes what?

The laugh of the day comes courtesy of Blue Oregon, on which Steve Bucknum predicts that Greg Walden is "vulnerable" in Oregon's Second Congressional District. He even throws in Tom Delay's name as evidence that Walden is out of touch with his constituents.

Among the amusing statements:
The level of interest in beating Walden here by the Democrats at the grassroots level approaches the level of interest in the presidential elections.
And you know that level of interest makes up for a heavy Republican registration advantage in the district.
We aren’t anti-environment, but rather are for people maintaining their livelihood without being forced out of the area due to regulations. In other words, balance is important.
And I'm sure that any Democrat being promoted by Blue Oregon would embrace such a balanced approach.

Dear Mr. Bucknum and your BO friends: sorry, but it's time to wake up and smell the organic coffee beans. Let's browse through Walden's last four election results:
  • 2004: Walden beat Democrat John McColgan 72 percent to 26 percent.
  • 2002: Walden beat Democrat Peter Buckley 72-26.
  • 2000: Walden beat Democrat Walter Ponsford 74-26.
  • 1998: Walden, in his first attempt at the office, beat Democrat Kevin Campbell 62-35.
It's like saying that a Republican has a shot at Earl Blumenauer (70.9 percent in 2004) in the third district. Not gonna happen.

Valentine's Day: a Hallmark Conspiracy

Or so I told my wife before we got married. How stupid is it, I asked, that society has to tell men to love their women. Aren't we capable of being romantic on our own, without a conspiracy of companies set to make big bucks off the notion?

What's next? Mother's Day?

God bless her, she took it in stride. I'm not sure she believed me, but she just nodded her head and gave me her best June-Cleaver-like response: "Whatever you say, dear."

But after eight years of marriage, I've realized I'm fighting a losing battle. (I learn quickly, wouldn't you say?) Don't tell my wife -- I still maintain the opposition as a matter off principle -- but I know it's a hopeless endeavor. Hallmark isn't going away. Area florists are still going to rake in a mint by selling roses today. Mr. Hershey and his confectionery compatriots will continue to tease our tastebuds with their finest chocolat.

And last year, I ruined any credible opposition I might have established -- I bought my wife a few hours at a spa. I was reminded of that when I read Brian's story this morning about his gift to the Fearless Redhead.

(As an aside, he's a much smarter man than me. Long before I knew my wife, I dated a girl who worked for a florist, and I never bought her flowers because she was always bringing them home from the shop. Not smart. As Brian said, his wife -- a spa employee -- could trade for spa services any time, "But I realized, if I pay for it, it would be more special." Doh!)

Now, don't get the idea that I'm sending the missus to the spa every year. My task now is to do something pretty nice often enough (both on Feb. 14 and at other times throughout the year) that I can get away with a card on V-day at other times.

But maybe Valentine's Day isn't so bad after all.

(I love you, honey!)

Friday, February 10, 2006

The courts are watching...

My goodness.

In the last seven hours, I've had 25 -- yes, twenty-five -- visits by one or more people at what I think is the administrative offices of the United States Court of Appeals for the ninth circuit. They all want to read my post about Milan Smith's rumored upcoming nomination to the court.

Welcome, y'all. Wanna tell me why you're so interested? The email is upperleftcoast (at) comcast (dot) net.

Vote for Jason, er, the candidate of your choice!

Go to the Portland Business Journal and cast your vote for the next governor (cough**JasonAtkinson**cough) of Oregon.

Congrats to Gully...

at Resistance is Futile, for hit No. 200,000!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Gordon Smith's brother headed to Ninth Circuit?

Over at NRO's Bench Memos, Ed Whelan reports that the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit currently has four vacancies. President Bush has submitted names for three of the four positions, including yesterday's nomination of Sandra Segal Ikuta. The final position, according to Whelan, will soon be offered to Milan Smith, brother of Oregon's U.S. Senator Gordon Smith.

This Law.com article from November also lists Milan Smith as a contender, along with Idaho State Court Judge N. Randy Smith.

In Googling Milan Smith, I didn't see anything particularly alarming, but nothing particularly impressive either. There seems to be a thought, which repeated itself in several places, that Bush will nominate Milan Smith because he's milquetoast enough to satisfy California Senators Boxer & Feinstein. (In other words, California's Terrible Twosome would likely blueslip a strong conservative nominee, which Smith is not thought to be.)

Over at The Right Coast blog, Thomas Smith (no relation) notes:
Curiously, one of the Smith's, one Randy Smith, is a state district judge in Idaho, as was my father, also a Smith, before he retired. However, none of we Smith's are Mormons, as I gather Judge Randy Smith probably is, having gone to BYU. The California Smith, Milan Smith, also went to BYU, and may also be LDS, which is fine with me, but calls himself "a conservative with a heart," a term I find objectionable. [Ed: The "conservative with a heart" comment can be found in that Law.com article.] As presumably a liberal would find "a liberal with a brain" objectionable. Or a communist would find "a communist with a conscience," objectionable, in which case you would be shot. I fear "having a heart" for a judge means not letting the law get in the way of promoting some disastrous, but well-meaning social policy dreamnt up by some badly educated person in the 1920's and reworked many times since. (My nomination chances being nil, I might as well be frank.) One senses the hand of Senator Hatch in these potential picks. Has the White House just given up on trying to get right-thinking sorts on the 9th Circuit, or is the idea that anyone who went to BYU law school automatically right-thinking? It may be so, the same way you assume someone who went to Yale thinks diversity jurisdiction has to do with civil rights.

Years ago I thought about applying for a job teaching at BYU law school, and even had sort of an interview with some BYU alums. I skipped the usual beer with lunch. I read some materials about the place and inferred I would not be able to keep my beard and neither to drink spirits. If I shaved my beard my lovely wife Jeanne would kill me, and if I could not drink, I would kill myself, so it was out. All that being said, I am overall pro-Mormon. However, after Hariett Miers, I am not willing to take religion as proof of judicial reliability.
Anyone know anything more?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Quote of the Day: Immigration

The Oregonian's S. Renee Mitchell wrote today's column on the topic of illegal immigration, and summed up my feelings perfectly:
You know why it's so hard to have an honest conversation about illegal immigration?

It crosses people's borders. You know that thin line between common sense and lunacy?

Every time I read about this topic, it's like having a conversation where you feel the issue is never fully vetted without folks getting emotional and, at times, illogical.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Class warfare against the rich

In today's Oregonian is a story covering New York Times reporter David Cay Johnston's speech on our country's tax code.

If you can get past the ridiculous hyperbole -- a "progressive" tax system is a bedrock principle of democracies, and the U.S. system is so skewed to the rich that the government may not survive -- you might see a hole in Mr. Johnston's rant. You know, the one about how the rich don't pay enough in taxes.

Let's take this paragraph from the story to illustrate:
But in the past decade, Presidents Clinton and Bush enacted huge tax cuts skewed toward the rich, he said. As a result, the United States now has a tax system that requires the richest 400 people in the country -- people who make an average of $176 million a year -- to pay only 17 cents in taxes for every dollar they take in, Johnston said. That is barely more than the 15 cents paid by the average U.S. taxpayer and is the same rate paid by families earning $100,000 to $200,000, he said.
I will operate under the assumption that Johnston's numbers are correct. Let's do the math.

If I make $176 million every year and pay 17 percent of my income to the federal government, that's $80,000 shy of thirty million dollars that goes to pay for our supposedly-collapsing federal system.

If I make $200,000 a year, I pay $34,000 a year to the feds. Who's paying more? I bet I could ask my second-grade daughter and she'd know the answer.

Let's assume that the average taxpayer earns $40,000 a year, and thus (according to Johnston) pays 15 percent of his or her income to the IRS. That's $6,000. Which is more -- $34,000 or $6,000? Again, not a difficult question.

And this doesn't even count what those people pay in state and local taxes.

Yes, I understand that in each of those examples, they are left with a decent amount of spendable cash -- $146 million, $166,000 and $34,000, respectively. Yes, I understand that the lower the income, the less take-home pay that's left, and that could be a big burden for low-income households. I sympathize. I've been there. Not that long ago. And frankly, our tax code takes that into account.

My point is this: those who claim the rich aren't paying their fair share don't think about the fact that the rich are paying a boatload of taxes that a typical schmoe like you or me will never see as income, never mind tax burden. When's the last time you wrote a $30 million check to the IRS?

It's kind of like those people who chastise society for not supporting schools. They don't think about the fact that society is already paying to support schools, and may not want to pay more. But that's another story for another time.

Monday, February 06, 2006


Boze Noze over at Eugene Rant calls for Lars Larson to apologize to Jason Atkinson. Why? Because last week when Lars was beating Jason over the head for his supposed softness on illegal immigration (which led to Lars' bizarre retraction of his endorsement and even-more-bizarre embrace of Ron Saxton), Boze says Lars was reading from a 2-year-old policy statement that the president has since changed.
Lars et al need to do some research on current policy and stop beating Jason over the head with out of date sound bites and press clippings. No wonder Jason was flabergasted, he is looking at the President's current policy of NO AMNESTY and Lars is telling him it is code for amnesty. It was like arguing in English who was answering back in Chinese.
If Boze is right, Lars does indeed owe Jason an apology. However, that would require two things: for Lars to admit he was wrong; and for him to show some humility.

Not gonna happen.

UPDATE: Daniel links to the document here (PDF in link). Guess what? It's dated Jan. 7, 2004. John Kerry was a nobody in the Democratic primaries at that point. Do you think it's possible that the president's immigration policy might have changed a bit since then? I do.

Boze is sounding more correct all the time.

UPDATE #2: For those who say Atkinson isn't answering the question, go read his press release on the issue, which Vonski has reprinted here.

Friday, February 03, 2006

What differentiates Jason Atkinson and Lars Larson?

You can trust the word of Atkinson. I'm not sure you can say the same about Larson.

Strong words? You bet. Let me explain why I say them.

As Atkinson was explaining his position on immigration on today's show, he said he supported the president's immigration policy because the president specifically said he wanted a guest worker program that "rejects amnesty."

Was Atkinson wrong? Yes. The document sent to KXL after Atkinson's interrogation proves it (this is a close paraphrase):
The President is calling on Congress to develop legislation to offer temporary worker status to undocumented workers currently in the United States.
Will Atkinson think twice before again taking the president's word on immigration? Probably, and with good cause. But Atkinson took George W. Bush at his word, which I find admirable. It shows he puts a premium on his word and the word of others.

Furthermore, he said (by Larson's own admission) about 15 times: "I do not support amnesty." He said almost that many times that if the president's plan does include amnesty, he would not support that.

Did Larson take Atkinson at his word? No. He called him dishonest. He said Jason wasn't answering the questions, even suggesting that he was engaged in Clintonian word games. Apparently, someone's word isn't sufficient for Larson -- he must still follow the age-old journalistic credo: if your mother says she loves you, check it out.

Larson would like to think he wasn't rude -- and some callers were all too happy to blow smoke up his butt to that effect -- but these quotes from today's show indicate he knew exactly what he was doing:
  • "I don't care if people think I'm rude, because I want answers."
  • "I don't want to be rude to people."
  • "Jason wasn't answering the question. He wasn't being honest with himself."
Well, actually, Atkinson answered the question time and time again. Larson chose not to listen because he was looking for a fight. He refused to take Atkinson at his word. Atkinson has reason not to take GWB at his word, having done so and gotten burned by it; Larson has no previous history (that I know of) that should cause him to distrust Atkinson's word.

And frankly, Larson is holding Atkinson to a different standard than Mannix and Saxton. If Larson is right that a national program that provides legality for immigrants would preclude the governor from withholding state benefits, that would apply to any governor, not just Atkinson. Essentially, Larson is imposing his dislike of the president's program upon Atkinson.

At least he was willing to let Atkinson's campaign manager get a word in edgewise, but he couldn't resist distorting Atkinson's position again. When Matt Evans explained, in response to the above-mentioned White House document, that Atkinson wouldn't support that program (which was the exact same thing that Atkinson had said less than an hour earlier), Larson's response was: "Your candidate doesn't think that." Never mind that the entire discussion with Atkinson came before the White House document arrived. Never mind that Atkinson specifically said on numerous occasions that he wouldn't support the president's plan if it included amnesty.

I'll trust the word of Jason Atkinson long before I believe Lars Larson.

Rapidly shifting loyalties

Over the last 24 hours or so, I have been a bystander to a passionate debate about Jason Atkinson's position on immigration. Apparently, Jason stumbled over an answer on the Lars Larson show yesterday, and there were two results:
  1. At least one of Atkinson's opponents jumped on it by claiming Atkinson is "soft" on illegal immigration and their guy is the "only candidate who is willing to stand up to illegal aliens!"
  2. Several Atkinson supporters started rethinking their support for him based solely on this issue.
As someone who does not consider immigration to be the end-all and be-all issue in the Republican Party (or any party, for that matter), I'm having a hard time understanding the hubbub. (Please, before you lecture me on my naïvete -- I do understand why it's important, I just don't lose sleep over whether Politician A has proposed a program to give all immigrants a full-time job with no tax obligations, while Politician B plans to send them all home and build a 600-foot barbed wire fence around our country.)

However, I certainly do understand how one issue would make me rethink my support for a candidate. For me, that issue is abortion. If I learned today that Jason Atkinson secretly supported abortion on demand, that Planned Parenthood was one of his biggest supporters, and that he'd been making up a pro-life perspective to gain my vote, I would dismiss him as a candidate -- as soon as I verified the facts.

You see, Atkinson's track record doesn't support such a switch on abortion, so such a revelation would be worthy of investigation and explanation, but it would not mean I would immediately withdraw my support. Not until I verified the information. Not until I heard directly from the candidate. If I didn't hear from the candidate, that would be enough to drive me away.

Earlier, I said immigration isn't my most important issue, but it's not my intention to dismiss those who feel passionate about it. If someone told my I shouldn't put abortion so high on the priority list, I would probably dismiss them outright. I would just say this: just as Atkinson's record doesn't jive with a sudden pro-abortion position, it also doesn't support the idea that he would be soft on immigration. If he stumbled over an answer, he would be obligated to explain himself at the next opportunity. And anyone who held immigration as the top issue would certainly be within his or her rights to withdraw support if that explanation was insufficient.

But how to approach that discussion? Do you assume he's guilty of your worst fears, and it's up to him to convince you otherwise? I'd argue that such a perspective is unproductive. That perspective is for people who have a track record that differs with yours but who suddenly display a primary-season conversion (cough**ron saxton**cough), not a single mistake in the course of a long campaign.

Frankly, I'm surprised such a mistake hasn't happened prior to yesterday (and maybe it has, but I wasn't paying attention at the right time). These guys criss-cross the state, speaking several times a day, putting tens of thousands of miles on the campaign vehicles, sleeping too-few-hours in small hotels or crashing on a friend's couch. If I held that kind of schedule every day for six months, I'd be lucky to figure out my name, much less have a coherent answer to a question from a radio host who seems constantly to be looking for a fight.

But back to the question: how to approach this discussion? Rather than making demands, spreading rumors or immediately pulling my support, I would rather:
  • Contact the campaign directly and ask, respectfully, if he can clarify my concerns;
  • Hold off on snap judgments;
  • Listen with discretion to those who share my passion, but don't necessarily have all the facts.
Some people will read this and feel like I'm lecturing them, and I acknowledge that it does come across a bit in that way. I apologize to them -- I don't necessarily like to be lectured at, either. This is mostly my effort at venting some steam after a long day of listening to venting from all corners.

Final questions: if you're not going to support Jason Atkinson over this, what's the alternative? What happens when the next candidate disappoints you? What if that candidate wins, and then disappoints you?

To paraphrase someone I respect: I have offered my support for Jason Atkinson because I believe he is the best candidate of the three Republicans. Not just in pro-life issues, not just in immigration issues, but in several areas. That support came after thinking about it for a while (I think I was No. 16 on the Blogs for Jason list, which now has almost doubled). I didn't offer that support contingent on Jason running a perfect campaign. I didn't offer it contingent on my whims. I offered it for the long-term. And a misstep or two along the way is not reason to take my toys and go home.

Are you in it for the long-term?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

John Danforth: Rebel Without a Clue

That's the sub-head on today's Best of the Web, in which James Taranto quotes from a Washington Post profile of the former Missouri senator. In the profile, Danforth decries conservative stances on recent issues such as the Terri Schiavo issue ("an effort to appease the Christian right"); same-sex marriage ("he believes most people would say no if asked, 'Do you believe we should just be nasty and humiliate people and degrade them because of sexual orientation?' "); and displaying the Ten Commandments ("Talk about much ado about nothing").

I thought Taranto's response was spot-on:
Whatever one may think of the merits of each of these issues, Danforth is bizarrely clueless about the context of all of them. He doesn't seem to understand that there is another side to each of these issues, a side that is every bit as aggressive, if not more, in pushing its views.

On the Terri Schiavo case, for instance, some of us who aren't religious were appalled by the zeal of those who supported an adulterous husband's campaign to end his disabled wife's life over the objection of her blood relatives. As for same-sex marriage, has it escaped Danforth's notice that the effort against it is purely defensive, a response to activist courts in several states that have tried (successfully, in Massachusetts' case) to impose it on an unwilling population? And if Ten Commandments displays are "much ado about nothing"--a position with which we sympathize--why is the ACLU always filing lawsuits seeking to banish them, and why do the courts take such suits seriously?
And when did John Danforth go from a solid conservative to a Lincoln Chaffee clone?

Quote of the Day: SOTU

From Peggy Noonan in Opinion Journal.com:
It was the first State of the Union Mr. Bush has given in which Congress seemed utterly pre-9/11 in terms of battle lines drawn. Exactly half the chamber repeatedly leapt to its feet to applaud this banality or that. The other half remained resolutely glued to its widely cushioned seats. It seemed a metaphor for the Democratic Party: We don't know where to stand or what to stand for, and in fact we're not good at standing for anything anyway, but at least we know we can't stand Republicans.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Joke of the Day

From -- who else? -- my uncle, the family jokester:
A man enters a bar and orders a drink. The bar has a robot bartender. The robot serves him a perfectly prepared cocktail, and then asks him, "What's your IQ?" The man replies "150" and the robot proceeds to make conversation about global warming factors, quantum physics and spirituality, biomimicry, environmental interconnectedness, string theory, nano-technology, and sexual proclivities. The customer is very impressed and thinks, "This is really cool."

He decides to test the robot. He walks out of the bar, turns around, and comes back in for another drink. Again, the robot serves him the perfectly prepared drink and asks him, "What's your IQ?" The man responds, "about 100." Immediately the robot starts talking, but this time, about football, NASCAR, baseball, cars, beer, guns, and breasts.

Really impressed, the man leaves the bar and decides to give the robot one more test. He heads out and returns, the robot serves him and asks, "What's your IQ?"

The man replies, "Er, 50, I think." And the robot says . . . real slowly:
"So . . . . . . . . . ya . . . gonna . . . vote . . . for . . . a . . . dem . . . o . . . crat . . . . . again??"

Jason Atkinson: understanding real people

One of the criticisms of Jason Atkinson is his youth. But thanks to Nick at the Cheezer, we have audio of Jason that shows his youth is an asset, because he understands the future of Oregon; he understands the attributes and challenges of today and tomorrow.

The file is 5 mb, so I wouldn't download it without a high-speed connection, but it's well worth the time. Here's my favorite part, transcribed by yours truly:
If you graduate high school, you know what you can't do when you get done? Get a job.

Let's say you want to go to college. Do you know it's cheaper to pay out-of-state tuition than it is to go to Oregon State University? Do you know that if you go to Oregon State University -- if you're lucky enough to go to school here -- and then you're going to make a huge, critical error, because you know what happens, what your average debtload is when you get out? It's thirty thousand bucks.
You're 22 years old, and you've played by the rules, and you've done what most people didn't do, you stayed here. Do you know what you can't do in Oregon, is get a job.

And you know what? If you do get a job, you're going to make $36,000 a year. That's a good starting first job. Right?

And then you know what you can't do in Oregon with $36,000 and one car payment? You can't buy a home. So you have two Oregons -- you have the renters and the owners.
My job as governor is to wake up each morning and worry about that one kid that wants to have a job, about that one kid that wants to go to school, and about that kid who wants to become a homeowner. Until I solve that crisis, the rest of this stuff doesn't matter. Because you know what? You know how you actually build a community? You build it through home ownership and work.
If you want more information about Oregon's next governor, go here and give here. If you want to join the ever-growing Atkinson for Governor Blogger Network, go here.