Upper Left Coast

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

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Pre-vacation bleg

Attention Blogosphere!

I'm headed out of town with the family for a few days of Spring Break R&R (attention thieves -- I have a really big dog that can chew the limbs off small children . . . or at least their stuffed animals), but I have an assignment for you:

I need as many Oregon examples as you can think of, dating as far back as you want, on situations where the voters clearly spoke about something, and then the legislature or some other governmental body overrode the voters' wishes.

Example: voters turned down bonds for expansion of the Oregon Convention Center, only to see Metro fund the expansion anyway.

Please leave the examples, with details if you know them (or where to find them), in the comments section.

Thanks, and happy Spring!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Atkinson blogger mentioned on Hugh Hewitt

Congrats to DANEgerus, who was just quoted on the Hugh Hewitt show for his comment about an interview that Hewitt did with Time Magazine's Michael Ware:

"Narcissism is not candor."

Check Radio Blogger later tonight for the transcript of this interesting interview, in which the Aussie Ware claims he has no bias and no axe to grind against American politics, but repeats every Democratic talking point against the war. Note especially his dodge around Hewitt's attempt to compare Soviet dictators of the past with Iraqi dictator Hussein.

UPDATE: The interview is posted at Radio Blogger.

Lyn Nofziger, RIP

Nofziger, who served as press secretary and political advisor to Ronald Reagan, died Monday at the age of 81. In honor of his passing, I found this quote from him on the Corner, referring to Reagan's observation that the rights of Americans are given by God, not by men:
That, he insisted, is one of the great differences between the United States and other nations. In most other nations, he noted, rights are granted by government and therefore are at the mercy of government. In the United States, rights, such as freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom to keep and bear arms, and many others enunciated in the first ten amendments, cannot be taken away by government…because they are not granted by government; they are the individual’s as a matter of God-given right….

Interesting, isn’t it, that the rights of atheists, America-haters and rabble rousers are all protected because the Founding Fathers turned to God for guidance as they sought to give themselves and those who would follow after them a more perfect union?
More is available at Nofziger's website.

Monday, March 27, 2006

The decline of liberalism

Today's quote of the day belongs to James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal's online opinion page, OpinionJournal.com. In his daily Best of the Web, Taranto notes a letter in the Yale University newspaper, which observes that left-wing "nonchalance" to the admission of a former Taliban spokesman to the school is brought about by the fact that the main opponents are conservative.

Taranto concludes:
During the past several years liberalism has come to be defined less by what it stands for than by whom it stands against. "The enemy of George Bush is my friend" might as well be the credo of American liberals at this moment in history. And since George Bush is the leader of our country, it follows that "the enemy of my country is my friend."

Correcting this may require waiting another three years, until Bush is out of office. In 2009 either a Democrat or a different Republican will be president. In the former case, liberals will have to act responsibly; in the latter, they will be forced to face the reality that hatred of Bush is not sufficient to win elections. Until then, brace yourself for more of the same.
Let's take the two possible 2009 outcomes in reverse order: If Republicans retain the White House, will Democrats admit that their "anything but Bush" mentality is hurting them? Not likely. I think they're so wrapped up in their hatred and in their blind Pied Pipership behind groups like MoveOn.org that they will only grow that much more shrill and irresponsible if they fail in '08.

Oh sure, there will be voices on the left crying for moderation and responsibility, but they will be drowned out by the Cindy Sheehans on the Democratic left; these far-left flame throwers will be trumpeted by a liberal media still looking for the next Bush National Guard story. (As an example of how difficult this will be for liberals, read the next section of Best of the Web, which notes Katrina Vanden Heuvel's Washington Post column calling for an end to labeling political opponents with Nazi terms, followed within hours by Vanden Heuvel's appearance on an ABC news show in which she equated Congressman Tom Tancredo with Neo-Nazi David Duke.) If you're currently annoyed by far-left tactics like filibusters from Switzerland and calls for full troop withdrawals in the next three days, just wait until the Democrats lose another national election. Their poor sportsmanship and statesmanship will know no bounds.

If Democrats win the White House, will they act "responsibly"? Likely moreso than they have over the lifespan of George W. Bush's White House occupancy. With the future of the country in the balance, they will have to find someone who can be a grownup. But responsibility does not necessarily equate to responsible leadership, as some of Bush's domestic decisions have shown. Will "responsibly" mean handing nuclear technology to North Korea and Iran in exchange for some meaningless commitment? Abandoning Iraq to whatever forces are strongest among the Kurds, Shiites, Sunnis, al-Queda and whoever else is hanging around? Ending the tax cuts that have been key to the economic recovery? Refusing to acknowledge -- and even legislating against -- the importance of the marriage between one man and one woman? Walking in lockstep with the most extreme elements of abortion on demand?

If you're as frightened by this prospect as I am, it's time to Paint the Map Red. Don't let the media tell you that 2006 is a lost cause for the GOP -- go out and fight for a permanent Republican majority. A good way to start would be by casting your vote for Jason Atkinson in the GOP race for Oregon's governor. Ballots go out in a few weeks.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Those annoying voters

The quote of the day belongs to Portland City Councilor candidate (and Democratic state senator) Ginny Burdick, who was one of four council candidates at a City Club of Portland forum Friday. As noted by Oregonian columnist Steve Duin:
[Burdick] slammed Sten and the rest of the City Council for failing to adequately fund Portland schools, an especially cynical riff for a seasoned pro at the Oregon Legislature, the organization responsible for school funding and one that has failed Portland schools for the past 15 years.

"The voters," Burdick finally said when reminded of that, "have made it very difficult for the Legislature to do our legal and moral duty for our schools."
Yep, it's those darn voters. It's not our fault. Really. If they'd just send all Democrats to the legislature, we could tax the voters to our hearts' delight, and all our utopian dreams would be paid for.

Until the burden of taxation caused the state to implode.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Media coverage in Iraq: too negative?

Through Best of the Web, I caught a USA Today story that asks that question. In particular, my attention was grabbed by this quote from John Burns, Baghdad bureau chief for The New York Times:
"Have we undercovered the good news? We probably have. But there's nothing willful about it. I would enter a plea of mitigation that we are overstretched."
I would question how unwillful it is, considering this email from an ABC producer and this memo from an ABC political director (maybe it's just ABC?) and these comments from a CNN news executive and . . .

But I digress. If the press really is "overstretched" in Iraq, despite their huge news budgets, this comment from Burns tells me that the overstretched reporters take the easy way out by covering whatever blows up, and ignoring the things that actually take some effort to explain.

If they are really overstretched, doesn't it seem likely that a variety of stories would fall through the cracks, not just the "good" news? If the violence is as widespread as they claim, wouldn't an overstretched press corps translate into some stories about violence that we don't hear about? (One might ask, if there are stories we don't hear about, how would we know if we don't hear about them? Does a falling tree make noise...)

Sorry, I don't buy it. Reporters make a choice about what they cover. We have plenty of examples of reporters who choose to cover the positive as well as the negative, but unfortunately, those examples are not in the mainstream media.

The heart & commitment of Jason Atkinson

I stumbled upon a Washington-based blogger a few days ago, who had a great story about Jason Atkinson. DunnerMeister, out of Redmond, Wash., runs a blog called Delta Mike Charlie, and has a personal experience with Oregon's next governor:
[Atkinson] came to a court hearing in Washington State for my brother-in-law who was his constituent at the time and was in legal trouble in Seattle. Yep, a seven hour butt-busting drive to stand by a constituent in a criminal hearing where Senator Atkinson thought justice wasn't being served. And this wasn't a big campaign donor or even a close long-time family friend. It was a constituent who wasn't getting a fair shake and he hoped his testimony could make a difference. Even though he wasn't successful, it shows his devotion to serve those who sent him to Salem. Now that's commitment!
Wouldn't you like that kind of commitment in the Oregon governor's mansion? Vote for Jason Atkinson!

UPDATE: I see I wasn't the first person to notice DunnerMeister's post. See the very end of this post by Sailor.

Swatting Helen Thomas

Jonah Goldberg, always among my favorite conservative writers, has an interesting column today on National Review about the many reasons we invaded Iraq. His general point is that the Bush administration, gun-shy after the WMD story turned up wrong, has been too reticent to defend itself and instead has turned to democracy as the main criteria.

The whole thing is worth reading, but the last two paragraphs are great:
In the 1990s, Hussein tried to kill a former U.S. president and tried to shoot down British and American planes enforcing the "no-fly" zone. The Clinton administration -- not the George W. Bush administration -- established "regime change" as our policy toward Iraq. In the years that followed, the Iraqi regime openly celebrated the 9/11 attack. And when we tried to get Hussein to come clean about a weapons program we (and his own generals!) had every reason to believe existed, he played games. After 9/11, calling that bluff wasn't a "choice," it was an obligation.

One reason Bush is down in the polls is that he's giving the impression that he's trying to change the subject from "our mistaken invasion" to "building democracy in Iraq." Building democracy in Iraq is vital — and entirely consistent with the highest aspirations of liberal foreign policy. But he would serve himself and the county better if he simply explained that he's been right all along. Swatting Helen Thomas is a start, but it will take a lot more.

Discriminating against 'discrimination'

Last summer, the Oregon State Bar decided not to accept advertising from any military organization because of the military's policies toward gays and lesbians. (This OSB policy, by the way, doesn't seem to have been discussed in any OSB publication -- at least that I could find. According to one letter to the OSB, members learned about it in an August 21, 2005 Oregonian article.)

There were a few letters written to the Bulletin, the OSB's monthly magazine, in favor of this, but a surprising number of letters came out against the policy. Here's my favorite, appearing in the February/March edition and written by a gentleman named Sean Madden:
I graduated from the University of Oregon School of Law in 1993 and have spent the past 12-1/2 years on active duty in the United States Marine Corps. Whenever anyone asks me what it was like to go to school in Oregon, I always tell them that, as far as my classmates and professors at the U of O were concerned, I may as well have joined the Ku Klux Klan or the Nazi Party as serve my country — such was their disdain for military service. I remember one classmate in particular who, during Operation Desert Shield, proudly stated that she refused to give blood because doing so would ultimately support the military!

So you may imagine my surprise when I saw a soldier on the cover of the Bulletin and read Janine Robben’s article which focused a good deal of attention on the Military Assistance Panel and pro bono work being done for military service members. "Things have changed in Oregon!" I thought to myself. Then I read the letters to the editor supporting the OSB’s shameful but largely irrelevant decision to ban military advertising. I was wrong.

I could swear I learned something in Con Law about viewpoint-based restrictions on speech being bad...

Anyway, I’m gratified to know that there are still a few proud Americans in the Oregon legal community willing to give so generously of themselves for service members in need. Frankly, though, I’m surprised that the thought police at OSB allow it. Maybe it was just an oversight on their part. I’m sure they’ll get around to banning it sooner or later. Since Oregon attorneys who assist military service members pro bono are ultimately assisting the military services themselves (force multipliers in military jargon), shouldn’t such attorneys be disciplined? And shouldn’t Oregon lawyers like myself who don’t buy-in to OSB’s moral stances be disbarred or at least sent to re-indoctrination camps? I demand that my name appear in the next disciplinary section of the Bulletin! The crime? Dissent!

You can keep your ban (though you’d drop it in a heartbeat if it affected your funding). As long as men and women of character continue to be admitted to the practice of law, a precious few of them will find their way to our ranks. That’s all we need.
It brings me back to my days in Eugene -- except back then (which was a little bit before Mr. Madden appeared on the scene), I was likely to be one of the people holding the ridiculous and embarrassing idea that there was a link between Nazis and the United States military.

I especially liked that line about Constitutional law classes that teach "about viewpoint-based restrictions on speech being bad," because it highlights the contradiction among the politically-correct crowd: they are willing to pass rules against groups with which they disagree, not realizing (or willingly ignoring the fact) that such rules are, in and of themselves, discrimination.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Hitchens: the media helps terrorists

I've been meaning to post this since I heard it yesterday on the Hugh Hewitt show, but forgot. Christopher Hitchens -- who is much smarter than me, and certainly no conservative -- was on Hewitt's show, and he wrapped up the interview by relating a conversation he recently had with "a very senior person at a well-known network."

This person was talking with Hitchens about the media's coverage of Iraq, and specifically how that affects the terrorists who are fighting against democracy:
He called me the other day. This is not a guy who's in any way a conservative, and said you know, we've known each other for a bit. He said you know, I'm beginning to think you must be right, because it really worries me what we're doing, when we are giving the other side the impression that all they need to do is hang on until the end of this administration. Do people know what they're doing when they're doing this? One doesn't have to make any allegation of disloyalty, but just...if it worries him, as it really does, I think it should worry other people, too, and it certainly worries me.
He also described the Democratic Party's attitude toward the war as "a sort of fatalism, the feeling that if you can say a war is unwinnable, you've also said it's wrong. In other words, that you would desert the side you were on if you thought things were going badly. That's a moral degeneracy of a different kind."

Quote of the Day: a male Roe v. Wade?

Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe writes today on a proposal that some are calling the male version of Roe v. Wade: "As a matter of equal rights," Jacoby explains, "men who don't want a child should be permitted, early in pregnancy, to get 'a financial abortion' releasing them from any future responsibility to the baby."

The proposal, drafted by the National Center for Men, was created by a Michigan resident named Matt Dubay. Jacoby continues:
The culture used to send a clear message to men in Dubay's position: Marry the mother and be a father to your child. Today it tells him: Just write a monthly check. Soon -- if this lawsuit succeeds -- it won't say even that. The result will not be a fairer, more equal society. It will be a society with even more abortion, even more exploitation of women, even more of the destructiveness and instability caused by fatherlessness.

And, in some ways saddest of all, even more people like Matt Dubay: a boy who never learned how to be a real man.

When will Kulongoski wake up?

With his track record, probably somewhere around December.

As if his recent losses in the union endorsement race weren't enough, we get word today that Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski has the sixth-worst approval rating of any governor in the country. According to Survey USA, Kulongoski has the approval of just 36 percent of Oregonians, compared to a 56 percent disapproval rating.

The governors below him include Taft of Ohio, who is in the middle of a scandal; Blanco of Louisiana, who -- how shall I say this? -- wasn't exactly stellar in her Hurricane Katrina performance; and Schwarzenegger of California, who is in the midst of a bruising reelection campaign in the deep-blue sunshine state.

What should really frighten Kulongoski is the numbers out of Portland, which are only a few points better than the state as a whole -- 38 percent approval, 55 percent disapproval -- and the numbers among independents (34-55). Those are George W. Bush numbers.

It seems the perfect political storm is brewing, and with hard-left Democrat Jim Hill sounding like a plausible alternative to Kulongoski, Jason Atkinson is the likely beneficiary.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Quote of the Day: Drinking from the Willamette

From Jack Bogdanski, on the dust-up between the city of Portland and the Tualatin Valley Water District, the latter of which claims it will skip out on buying Portland water in favor of the Willamette River:
Anyone who would drink the Willamette (except maybe upriver from Eugene) is nuts. Everything from human waste to radioactive sludge is in there. I'm sure the engineering geniuses will tell you that they can filter out enough of the bad stuff to make it safe, but "safe" is just an opinion, and you are the experiment.
Gee, I always wanted to be a guinea pig...

What happens if we bail on Iraq?

The lead editorial in the Wall Street Journal's OpinionJournal.com (free registration required) asks that question today, and provides some interesting answers:
  • • The U.S. would lose all credibility on weapons proliferation.
  • • The Mideast would face broader instability.
  • • We would lose all credibility with Muslim reformers.
  • • We would invite more terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.
The whole thing is worth reading. Check it out.

And yet more good stuff for Atkinson

John Gizzi, the political editor of Human Events Online in Washington, D.C., calls the Oregon governor's race one of the Top 10 in the country this year.

And in his Gizz-ette blog on the Human Events site, he's provided some nice exposure for State Senator Jason Atkinson, who is a candidate for Oregon's Republican gubernatorial nomination. The Gizz-ette entry from Monday is more of a wrap-up on the three Republican candidates, as well as a short history of Oregon Republican politics. One interesting note is that Atkinson's campaign has raised half a million dollars, which means he's probably received close to 10,000 donations.

The entry from Friday, March 17 is even better. It starts with a philosophy on conservative politics that Gizzi inherited from a former editor:
You don’t have to trim your conservative sails for a particular state. As long as the messenger is pleasant and articulate, like Ronald Reagan, the message doesn’t have to be watered down.
As examples, Gizzi cites Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Washington almost-Gov. Dino Rossi, both of whom stayed true to a conservative message in their respective blue states. And that's what Jason Atkinson is doing. Atkinson has said all along that who he is in the primary is who he will be in the general election. He is not, unlike some other candidates, planning to move hard right to win the primary and become more centrist for November.

Gizzi argues that the Oregon banner of Reagan's "bold colors, and no pale pastels" philosophy is increasingly falling on Atkinson's low-body-fat shoulders. Atkinson makes no apologies for his conservatism against opponents who either are or were "moderates" (read: Democrats). He is showing the momentum in the stretch run toward the May 16 primary, and that momentum is bringing out veterans of recent conservative victories against same-sex marriage, tax increases and property restrictions.

What's that sound? I think it's Oregon's next governor coming through on his political bike tour. Wanna jump on board?

(HT: Coyote)

My pet peeve

I sometimes get email with a beautiful story or life lesson, and at the end it says something like, "You have a choice -- you can send this to as many people as possible, to brighten their day, or you can delete it. You know which choice I made."

It doesn't matter how nice or important the message; I hate being guilted into something. Guess which choice I make?

Does that make me a bad person?

More positive national exposure for Jason Atkinson

This may have already been pointed out, but I just found this on the blog of the Club for Growth. Dated March 6, it's titled, "A Rising Star for Oregon Republicans?"
Oregon’s gubernatorial race is turning out to be an interesting one to watch. State Sen. Jason Atkinson is surprising a lot of people with his appeal among party activists, and is doing better than you’d expect in the polls in a statewide match up.

The postings on an Oregon blog showed he turned a lot of heads this weekend at a debate among Republicans running for the post.

Atkinson is running in part on “working to repeal job-killing taxes” such as the capital gains and death taxes.

This is an important state for Republicans, and this race bears watching.

And if he wins, he’s got to be the first professional bicycle racer to be elected governor. Hey, if a bodybuilder can do it, why not a bike racer?
In the 2003-2004 election cycle, the Club for Growth raised $22 million for issue advocacy, candidates, and operations, and it has a track record of success. Just think what they could do for Atkinson in the general election?

Quote of the Day: Saxton on Roe v. Wade

As quoted in the Medford Mail Tribune on a Salem debate last week:
Saxton said he doesn’t support limitations on Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.
Some in the Saxton camp have suggested that Saxton would favor a ban on partial-birth abortion -- a position held by a large majority of Americans -- but that quote doesn't sound like someone with a common-sense perspective on abortion.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

How is this news?

From today's Oregonian:
A Portland lawyer suspects that federal authorities executed warrantless searches of his Lloyd Center office to collect information about a client who is the subject of an international terrorism investigation.

Tom Nelson, who represents Saudi national Soliman al-Buthi, previously filed a complaint that alleged warrantless interception of phone and e-mail communications between al-Buthi and his other lawyers.

"We allege in our complaint not only that they intercepted communications without a warrant, but they used the interceptions to the disadvantage of the client," Nelson said.
That's the first three paragraphs. Skip down to the end and read the final paragraph:
"I have no proof the government's doing these things," he said. "I just have a very healthy suspicion they are."
I suspect the government is secretly -- without a warrant to get into my backyard -- taking cat food from my cat's bowl; after all, I put out much more food than the cat can eat, and the next morning, it's all gone. I only have one cat. It must be the government. I don't have any proof, but I have a healthy suspicion.

When can I expect the news media to write about my scandal?

Monday, March 20, 2006

A blogger who falls through the cracks -- but shouldn't

I have my usual daily regimen of blog reading, but there are several bloggers who fall through the cracks because I just don't have the time to get to everything I want to read (or I forget). One is Mark D. Roberts, who has more wisdom in his little toe than I'll ever have, total.

Another is Joe Carter at Evangelical Outpost. He wrote a great piece last month about the debate over civil unions in Colorado, which includes a proposal endorsed by James Dobson that would create reciprocal-beneficiary contracts and streamline arrangements which are already allowed under Colorado law:
Some conservatives and libertarians may see no need for the government to expand the definition of civil unions in any manner. But the political reality is that the change is inevitable. The issue is no longer when civil unions will be recognized but what form they will take. (The Colorado bill is competing with a domestic partnership proposal from Democratic lawmakers.) By desexualizing the issue we preserve the government’s purpose (a social institution that brings stability to our society) without endorsing behavior that many of us consider immoral.
And then a couple of days ago, he had a funny, insightful (even if mostly obvious) response to a man who couldn't decide between his "soul mate" (who was married to another man) and his fiancé (of whom he says, "I love her but I don't necessarily feel 'in love' with her"). The best quote comes near the end:
The key to choosing who to love is to narrow the circle of choices down until you find the right one. A good place to start is by excluding married women. You don't get involved with another man's wife for the same reason you don't buy underwear at Goodwill – such an intimate relationship was never meant to be passed on to another man.
He ends with this wise observation:
If the married woman is your “soul mate” and she stays with her husband, then you are out of luck. If she leaves her husband to be with you, then she can't be trusted to be faithful. Either way, everyone loses. As for your fiancé, if you love her you should cut the girl loose and let her go find her own “soul mate” who, hopefully, will also be a Manly Man.
I gotta find the time to read Joe more often.

I wish someone had told me this

From Jonah Goldberg in today's G-File:
If you’re in college and want to be a journalist, do not study journalism or even English. The former is a waste of money, the latter a waste of time — if you want to be a journalist. Learn a language, get some expertise about something other people don’t know about. Even if you want to be the conservative Walter Lippmann, studying how to write instead of learning interesting stuff to write about is a waste of time. If you must, you can always go to one of the clubhouse j-schools after college. Knowing stuff is the best way to get opinions about stuff. More importantly, it makes your opinions more interesting.
I wish someone had suggested this before I spent thousands of my (parent's) dollars on a journalism degree. Of course, I'm not sure that the 18-year-old version of me would have listened anyway.

Quote of the Day: USC bashing

From Hugh Hewitt, on his efforts in the Los Angeles Marathon (he finished in the top third out of 25,000-plus runners, in a time of just under five hours):
There were far too many USC ruuners on the course, wearing "Fight On" dry fit shirts. They ran like the Trojan band marches, all over the place without much precision. This obstructed many paths for many people until I figured out a solution. As I approached, I'd shout out "Vince Young," and they'd all get out of the way.
As a former marching band geek who was frequently annoyed by the unearned praise of the USC marching band ("The team just lost three yards on third down? Let's play the fight song!"), this made me laugh.

Friday, March 17, 2006

The military had a strategy all along!

So says NR's Rich Lowry in today's Corner. He quotes David Ignatius of the Washington Post, who takes the military to task because it is "finally becoming adept at fighting a counterinsurgency war in Iraq," but should have "mastered" that skill before it started the war.

Lowry writes:
[Ignatius] argues that we finally have an effective counter-insurgency strategy in Iraq. A lot of people have written this lately, usually with the implicit suggestion that this is some sudden development, that out of nowhere these fairly effective Iraqi troops are appearing and contributing to a better counter-insurgency effort. But the strategy that is now beginning to bear fruit has been in place for a long time, as anyone would know who actually listened to what the administration was saying over the last year or more. All during the long, long period that the administration was scored for having no strategy in Iraq (a charge, I regret to say, echoed in this very Corner), the strategy that is now being recognized was in place. It just took time to take hold. Apparently few people anymore have enough patience to realize some things take time.
The whole thing -- as well as Ignatius' column -- is worth a read.

As a stay-at-home dad...

I only occasionally feel like this:


Our news sources affect our worldview

Listening to National Public Radio last night, I heard a couple of stories on Iraq that I thought notable. One story was about a poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press; the other was a news story about a group of employees at an Iraqi security company who were kidnapped and killed.

The story on the Pew poll was predictable -- it stated that public support for the Iraq war, as well as support for President Bush, was low and continuing to fall. The thing that caught my ear, however, was the poll's exploration of the partisan divide in views toward the war. According to Pew, 74 percent of Republicans (down from 83 percent in December) and 34 percent of Democrats (down from 39 percent) believe the U.S. will succeed in Iraq. A similar divide is found when asking if we're making progress in:
  • Training Iraqi forces (76-46);
  • Rebuilding the infrastructure (74-44);
  • Establishing democracy (77-34);
  • Preventing a terrorist base for attacks (67-29);
  • Defeating the insurgents (61-20);
  • Reducing civilian casualties (46-16); and
  • Preventing a civil war (41-12).
Why is this divide so pronounced? I think the other story on NPR provides some answers, and it has to do with where people get their news.

First, note that the headline on NPR's website reads: Iraqi Forces Kidnapped, Killed Security Employees. Maybe that could be read generically, as in "Some group in Iraq kidnapped, killed security employees," but I think the suggestion is clear by NPR that members of the US-friendly Iraqi army are responsible.

But then, if you listen to the story by Anne Garrels, you find out that white pickup trucks, "the kind used by the Shiite-led interior ministry police," pulled up in front of this security company. You find out that "armed men dressed in the uniforms of the police commandos," got out and took away roughly 50 people. You also hear that officials of the interior ministry denied any involvement, blaming it on "terrorists dressing themselves up as policemen." Garrels continues:
On background, however, Iraqi ministry officials insisted, such an operation had to have had some sort of official backing. How else could so many vehicles travel heavily-patrolled city streets? Why else, they said, would guards at the security company not fight back?
To wrap up that portion of the report, she notes (emphasis by Garrels):
The police commando units in particular are largely made up of members of Shiite militias loyal to the most prominent Shiite political parties. The security company which was raided was run by Sunni Arabs, many of whom had worked in the intelligence divisions of Saddam Hussein.
So there is some evidence of Shiite involvement against Sunnis, but the incident is not as clearcut as the headline would lead you to believe. (By the way, one has to question the accuracy of Garrels' reports when she admitted here that when she's in Iraq "she rarely goes out on her own anymore. She relies heavily on her Iraqi staff.")

For about the last third of the report, Garrels then launches into a negativity spree about the new Iraqi government (emphasis by Garrels):
All this comes against the background of escalating sectarian violence and an inability to form a new government. Three months after elections, Iraq's new parliament was finally sworn in today, but with political parties still deadlocked. The first session was little more than a formality. As the oldest member of parliament, Adnan Pachachi, opened the session, he described a country in crisis, saying the danger of civil war is still looming. The head of the Shiite alliance tried to stop him, but Pachachi continued. Today's parliament session was over after less than half an hour, with no indication when it will meet again. There is no agreement among the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds on the key posts of speaker, president and prime minister.
Are we depressed yet? It's no wonder the American public wants U.S. troops to come home.

But remember what I said about news sources? Maybe Republicans are more optimistic about Iraq because we don't listen solely to the mainstream media. Here's the report by Omar at Iraq the Model (Omar lives in Iraq and, it's a fair bet, gets out a whole lot more than Garrels) on the first day of parliament:
The new Iraqi parliament met for the first time a few hours ago marking the birth of the constitutional state in Iraq. An incomplete birth and a stumbling child but it is a step that hopefully will become a bridge over the current political and security mess.

The session was not more than a ceremonial one and it was limited to gathering and reading the oath and short speeches from the chairman of the former National Assembly and from the eldest member of the new parliament Adnan Pachachi who didn't set a deadline for the next session but said in a later statement to the press that the next session will commence after the major blocs reach an agreement on the key issues of dispute which are the structure of the three main councils (presidency, premiership and chairmanship of the parliament).

Almost all the statements given by various prominent politicians to the press after the session ended were optimistic and they all spoke about consensus on forming a government of national unity yet some of them admitted that there's a serious trust issue between the major blocs.

Jafari-and in an earlier time Talabani-expressed their confidence that forming the government will not take more than another month. Jafari also said something that can be regarded as a preparation for an honorable retreat when he said that "if the people asked me to step down, I shall do that".

Meanwhile meetings among the major blocs continued in Baghdad and several members of these blocs said that meetings are discussing the government posts and their corresponding jurisdiction rather than the people who are going to occupy these posts which I think is a smart alternative because it is easier to reach compromises this way and I must say that I feel that our politicians are submitting to the guidelines stated by the constitution and are doing their best to find solutions but the problem is that I doubt their best is good enough because most of them are not qualified to handle the responsibilities they're entitled to.

But that's not the politicians' mistake, it's in my personal opinion the people's mistake for they have elected those unqualified politicians and now the people must accept the fact that they will have to live with a government below their expectations for four years but I have hope that the people will learn from this experience and make better choices when the next time comes…that's if Iraq survives these four years and I believe it will.
Rose-colored glasses? Certainly not. It's realistic. It notes the challenges still ahead. But it's not the gloom and doom that Garrels and her MSM friends would lead you to believe.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Why wouldn't it be called "womenopause"?

From today's Best of the Web on OpinionJournal.com:
Thanks for the Tip!--LIV
"Health Tip: In Men, It's Called Andropause"--headline, HealthDayNews, March 15

Wednesday Roundup

So many things to read, so little time. Here are a few things that caught my eye this morning:

Jay Bozievich, writing on Oregon Catalyst, gets the Duh award of the day for pointing out the elephant in the room: Oregon government is growing faster than revenues that support it, and something must be done to rein in costs:
So, to review, we have base salary rates that increase above the rate of inflation, health insurance premiums rising at double-digit rates, and PERS rates well over 20% of base pay and increasing. Is it any wonder that the cost of government is increasing at 6% or more when labor is such a high percentage of the budgets?

The problem is that the tax base to pay for this rate of increase is growing at less than half that rate. The tax base for Oregon is our state economy and unfortunately it is not growing at a rate that can sustain the cost of government growing at 6%.

One measure of Oregon’s economy is total personal income. The growth of total personal income in Oregon is just over 2%. Even if we increase the percentage of the income taken to support government, that amount will still grow slower than current expenses unless we do something about the expense growth rate.
And frankly, I don't give a rat's patootie whether the Oregon Education Association likes it or not. As the Oregonian said in yesterday's editorial about the OEA endorsement meeting:
In our view, no responsible, electable candidate for governor could fully satisfy the teachers union today and still win the office in November. It can't be done. Not if the teachers union holds to its general position that nothing ails Oregon schools that more money would not solve. Meanwhile, most Oregon taxpayers and many elected officials have decided that as long as public pensions and health-care costs eat through a big share of every new dollar that goes into schools, they aren't willing to send more money.
Is there a more dysfunctional governmental body in Oregon than the Multnomah County Commission? Or should I say, the girls on the Multnomah County Commission? And yet, Multnomah County voters keep bringing them back. How do you say, "Get a clue" in Klingon?

How many times this election season have we heard of someone filing for reelection, then backing out after the filing deadline to leave the seat for a buddy? Arden J. Olson, an attorney with the firm Harrang Long Gary Rudnick, notes that sort of manipulative move in a Lane County judgeship this year. His solution? A panel of people (probably appointed by the governor) to select some choices for each position, with the governor making the final selection.

All I have to say to that is: hell no. The selection of judges needs some help in Oregon, but imagine if a panel appointed by Ted Kulongoski developed a few choices for Ted Kulongoski, and then Ted Kulongoski appointed one of them? I shudder. To avoid manipulation like that noted above, maybe we could force the offending party to retire immediately, and replace him or her with a special election any time such a thing happened?

The subject of abortion has been in the news recently because of the South Dakota law. Even though some of my pro-life friends would disagree, I have some sympathy for the argument in favor of a rape exception. However, here's a common argument in favor of abortion, as written in a letter to the editor of today's Oregonian: "Women in all states deserve the right to control their bodies." Agreed. If it's just your body we're talking about. When you refuse to acknowledge the fact (not religious belief, but fact) that another life is involved, and you callously dismiss that life in favor of your own short-term comfort, I tend to discover that the sympathy I mentioned above is suddenly difficult to locate.

The most important thing you'll read on NSA wiretaps

Whatever you're doing, stop. Go immediately to this column by Byron York, and read why Russ Feingold and his far-left Democrat friends are so incredibly, stupifyingly, frighteningly wrong about the NSA surveillance issue.

What are you waiting for? Get along now.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Ron Saxton wants to violate the constitution?

That's what it sounds like, according to this post at Resistance is Futile! Go read Gully's entry, and then follow his advice at the end.

Who is Og?

Brian at Memento Moron answers this important question in a funny post. Here's my favorite part:
Og, contrary to popular belief, did not woo women by whacking them over the head with a club and dragging them into his cave. He wooed women by dragging a mammoth carcass to their cave, whence they would cook it, and while he ate, hit him over the head with his own club and drag him into THEIR cave. To this day, this is the way men prefer it.
Check it out.

Jason Atkinson's political comrade

A relatively fresh face in politics made quite a splash recently.

Oh, he has plenty of political experience. He grew up in a strong Republican household, watching his father's example. After making his mark in the private sector, he jumped into politics in the minority party, learning to reach across the aisle without compromising his principles.

He has a strong faith, but does not throw it in people's faces -- it is his guiding light, but not a foghorn that tells people to get out of his way.

With that background, he's reaching for higher office. He's pursuing a more powerful position, but it's clear he's not hungry for power -- he's into service. He believes he can -- with the help of the people, by empowering people instead of special interests -- make a difference.

He's still got a ways to go, but he got a boost out of a recent conference's straw poll. He was not expected to do particularly well, considering the conference typically draws attendees who would consider his faith a detriment. In addition, the poll was conducted in the backyard of one of the main candidates, virtually guaranteeing the hometown boy would win.

And yet, this fresh face finished second in the poll. Yes, the hometown boy placed first, but the fresh face impressed delegates with his human touch, with his focus on important Republican themes.

Also in this straw poll was another candidate -- the one who was running again, the one who seemed to think he should be coronated for his second try -- who made a dismal showing in the poll.

So who am I talking about? Jason Atkinson?


But also Mitt Romney. You know him? His father was a candidate for president in 1968. He made his mark in the private sector by successfully running the Salt Lake City Olympics. Even as a Republican, he was elected governor of deep-blue Massachusetts, having to work with a huge Democrat majority in the state legislature.

Last weekend in Memphis, Tennessee, delegates to the Southern Republican Leadership Conference gathered to hear from several main contenders for the Republican presidential nomination. Bill Frist, the senate majority leader from Tennessee and rumored presidential candidate, was expected to do well in his backyard. Virginia Sen. George Allen had high hopes because his name comes up often in such discussions and because Virginia and Tennessee share more than 100 miles of common border.

Romney, who hasn't even declared his presidential intentions, was not expected to do as well because of those factors, and because many doubted that a Mormon could earn support in the Bible belt. (By contrast, the Dorchester Conference was considered a collection of moderates, many of whom are not religious, and among whom Atkinson was not expected to do well because of his conservative politics, his faith, and his lack of name familiarity.)

And sure enough, Frist won with almost 37 percent of the vote, although less than one in five Frist votes came from out of state. Romney was second with 14 percent, and Allen was four points back in third.

Sen. John McCain, who ran for president in 2000 and is listed (mostly by McCain supporters) as a leading contender in 2008, tried a bit of trickery to downplay his lack of support by urging people to write in George W. Bush for the straw poll. Kevin Mannix is no McCain, but certainly there are correlations between the would-be president (who finished a distant fifth in Tennessee) and the would-be Oregon governor (who was a distant third in Seaside).

In neither case is the straw poll a scientific example of political momentum, but as Romney told talk-show host Hugh Hewitt yesterday, "It's a lot better than a kick in the teeth, and I was very, very pleased that folks down there were pleased with me, and ended up voting for me, which . . . obviously, this is very early and not very meaningful, but of course, it's nice to have a few people think that you're a pretty good guy."

And both have attracted the attention of the blogger community. By reading this, you probably already know about the Atkinson Blogger Network. Romney, too, has his blogosphere supporters; Americans for Mitt includes supporters in 26 states, including Nancy French at Tennesseans for Mitt, which was instrumental in rallying the troops to Mitt's support at the SRLC.

Am I suggesting that the accomplishments of Atkinson parallel those of Romney? Certainly not. That's why Atkinson is running for governor, while Romney is considering the presidency. But the energy being generated by these two men -- on opposite coasts, for very different positions -- is very similar.

Why the push for Arab democracies?

John Podhoretz, taking the role of savvy political observer in today's New York Post, provides some important illumination on the Bush Administration's continued appeal for democracy in the Arab World.

Podhoretz writes as a follow-up to a Rich Lowry piece in the current National Review (only available by subscription) about the "to-hell-with-them hawks." Lowry describes them as "conservatives who are comfortable using force abroad, but have little patience for a deep entanglement with the Muslim world, which they consider unredeemable, or at least not worth the strenuous effort of trying to redeem." They dismiss the president's explanation that freedom is a common longing throughout the world as "ludicrous sentimentality . . . Muslims don't want it and they don't deserve it and we shouldn't be trying to give it to them," Podhoretz writes of the hell hawks' position.


Here's Podhoretz's conclusion, which reminds us that immediate withdrawal and isolationism are not options, that there really is no alternative:
What's missing here is what has been missing from the most hard-headed discussions of Iraq since the end of the 2004 election, and that is an understanding of just why President Bush formulated the freedom doctrine.

The problem is that the policies advocated by the "hell hawks" and by defeatist Democrats offer no real possibility of an end to the war against Islamic radicalism. It will go on forever.

And if it does, it seems certain that at some point in the next few decades, millions of people are going to die in a successful terrorist assault using weapons of mass destruction.

Why? Because there is no way to stop the delivery of such a weapon if the delivery system is a single person willing to die to get it done. The only way to prevent it is to change the terms under which such people live, to offer them something to hope for besides virgins in paradise.

Seen in this light, the Bush freedom doctrine isn't simply a starry-eyed exercise in ludicrous optimism. It's a real-world solution to a real-world problem.

The only real answer to the Bush freedom doctrine is the one posed by those who believe there is no real War on Terror. They range from the Michael Moore, Bush-may-have-been-involved types to ex-neocon Francis Fukuyama, who states plainly that Bush & Co. overestimated the threat from terrorism.

Fukuyama basically believes 9/11 was a fluke, a lucky shot. It would be nice if he were right. But it would be reckless to the point of insanity for any American policymaker to count on it. Just as it would be for any American policymaker to adopt the view of the to-hell-with-them hawks.
The Democratic Party, which will oppose Bush on any issue, continues to demonstrate its failure to grasp this important point -- and for all of Bush's failures, the fact remains that this country will be more vulnerable with the Democrats in control.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Comic relief on immigration

From the March 13 version of Mother Goose & Grimm:


Thursday, March 09, 2006

Measure 37 claim filed in Beaverton

Steve Biggi, part of a family that owns a fair amount of property in central Beaverton, has filed a Measure 37 claim against the city of Beaverton, the first such claim to go to a hearing in the city.

Further information is available on the city's website (scroll down to the end of the "Central Beaverton" section, or do a search on the page for "Biggi"), but here's the gist:

Biggi owns property northwest of the much-maligned The Round (see pink area on map below). The properties -- which consist mainly of parking for adjacent office space, along with a couple of restaurants and a small office building -- run up against Beaverton Creek, and Biggi is claiming that various restrictions (many of which sound like they are related to the presence of the creek) have reduced the value of his land by more than $1.7 million.

The hearing on March 20 (at 6:30 in the council chambers) will decide if Biggi's claim has validity, and if so, whether the city will pay his claim or waive the restrictions.


Oregon: a microcosm of national GOP politics

In the comments of a post over at Don Diesel's site, Dare!PDX (of NW Republican fame) makes an interesting observation about Oregon's three main Republican gubernatorial candidates:
If you look, we have each of the main ideologies currently tugging at the national Republican party running for governor of Oregon.

Mannix the neo-con (reformed democrat who is legislative happy and though is socially conservative all ideas begin and end with government).

Saxton the Rockefeller Republican (socially liberal leanings with a soft spot for the potential of what good government can do leaves him capable of reforming government but likely to negotiate away potential reform for conservative redux of liberal programs).

Atkinson the Reagan Republican (Grounded in an ideology of personal responsiblity and self determination. Dedicated to transforning a new-deal government into one limited to that of necessity and therefore able to align ourselves for a free-er and therefore much more productive society. His rhetoric is towards removing the shackles of unnecessary taxation, family farm crushing land use laws, and counterproductive legislative games.)
I think that's a very fair, even-handed, and illuminating glimpse into the choices we face on May 16. Which one would you choose?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The most dangerous man in Oregon politics?

No, it's not Ron Saxton. According to Gullyborg at Resistance is Futile!, it's Gene Hallman, who is a candidate to replace Oregon Supreme Court Justice Wallace Carson. In order to grasp the nuances, you'll have to read Gully's summation of a Hallman speech, but suffice it to say that the meat of Hallman's danger lies in the last three words of this sentence:
The great thing about appellate practice is that it gives you an opportunity to change the law.
Those are Hallman's words, not Gully's. And the last time I checked, it wasn't the judiciary's role to change the law, regardless of what Ted Kennedy might say otherwise.

Remember, Hallman is running against Jack Roberts, who would bring some sanity back to the Supreme Court.

A great military slide show

I've watched this twice, and I've ended up as a sniffling idiot both times. If you can get through it without so much as a damp eye, you'd better check your pulse.

This is dedicated to our military, who -- whether you like the Iraq situation or not -- are sacrificing so you and your family can have the freedoms that only our great country affords.


Monday, March 06, 2006

Republican No. 8

Just filed today, for the Republican nomination as Oregon's governor, one Bob Leonard Forthan.

Never heard of him.

UPDATE: Link (hopefully) fixed

Another interesting Dorchester observation

Jay at MAX Redline, noting my post from last night, makes another interesting observation that's worth passing along:
One thing that I noticed during the debate was a hint of potential alliance:

Early in, Kevin mentioned that his experience, coupled with Jason's drive and creativity, would be a great combination for the state. Toward the end, Jason noted that when he was really having a down time, it was Kevin who opened the door to his Senate office, walked in, sat down, and asked, "What can I do to help?"

I sensed great opportunity then, and sense it now.
I may not think Kevin Mannix can win the governership, but that shows some class. It gives me hope that Gully's prediction will play out, to the benefit of Atkinson as well as the state.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Carnival of the Atkinson-ites

(Hopefully, that's not a play on a copyrighted phrase that will invite a nasty letter from my friendly neighborhood intellectual property lawyer.)

So I missed all fun this weekend. While I was taking the kids to swimming lessons, working on a project for the office, and sneaking off to go bowling with the Sunday school class, some of my blogger friends (some of whom I haven't met, but still consider friends) were playing at the beach. At the Dorchester Conference in Seaside, more specifically.

And what a time it was (or so it sounds). Most importantly, Jason Atkinson came out of the weekend with a big boost. The final straw poll results for governor were:
Ron Saxton - 42% (162 votes)
Jason Atkinson – 39% (151 votes)
Kevin Mannix - 17% (64 votes)
Other - 2% (9 votes)
Yes, Ron Saxton won the poll. Considering the conference's proximity to Portland, and the fact that Dorchester typically draws from the more moderate wing of the Republican Party, this was not a surprise. The surprise was twofold: 1) Atkinson, who keeps getting mentioned as a conservative and has been working for this nomination over the last six months, came 11 votes away from beating a man who has been campaigning for this job for the last five years; and 2) Mannix, who would likely be governor today if not for a third-party candidate in 2002 and was considered the front-runner going into the race, finished third. Not just third, but a dismal, depressing (if you're Mannix), eye-opening third.

And we're still 72 days away from the primary.

So in (hopefully) true Carnival style, here's a roundup of impressions:

At Ridenbaugh Press, Randy Stapilus had a very even-handed review of the event, and some very interesting reactions to the three candidates. The whole thing is worth reading, but here are some key points:

. . . everyone already knows you, and, well, are voters getting tired of you? His response -- noting that Oregon has a history of defeating candidates for governor before electing them -- made coherent sense but may have fallen short as a convincer . . . Still, a lot of people there liked him, and there seemed to be some real affection growing out of his recent tenure as state party chair.
Later, after the straw poll, Stapilus noted, "Mannix came in a distant third; our thought is that his explanation of how his multiple losses can lead to a win now just didn’t satisfy."

Atkinson was asked about his "alternative" campaign approach, and whether that suggested a lack of money, organization or name familiarity:
Atkinson’s response to that was [ed: I think he meant "wasn't"] necessarily a great convincer, either. But Atkinson, though relatively new as a candidate on the statewide stage (and considerably younger than Saxton or Mannix) had something else: Major campaign skills and charisma, and a deft sense of addressing a broad audience. He easily had the strongest campaign skills of the three candidates, and you got the sense that if he loses this race, he could easily still go places in the years ahead.

There was another curiousity about Atkinson. Though he and his father (a former state Republican chair) have a long history of social and religious conservatism, not a smidgen of that was in evidence Friday - in fact, based on his appearance at Dorchester, you’d guess he was the most moderate of the three candidates.
Saxton, who Stapilus said sounded the most conservative even as he was being promoted as the most moderate, was asked this question:
In 2002 you ran against the PERS retirement fund issue, and this time against illegal aliens. Are you running the risk of having the Republican Party tagged as a group of blamers of unpopular groups? It was a great question (and one directly suggesting a Democratic strategy in response), and one Saxton didn’t ever quite answer - he said his criticisms were about failures of leadership rather than attacks on groups, which didn’t quite resolve the matter. Saxton had another problem: Probably in an attempt to very carefully walk a more conservative line this election than he did in 2002, while not abandoning the rationale of why he could still appeal to the great middle, he came across as bland. All that said, he still clearly has some of the mystique of the winner-that-might-have-been-last-time. The prospect is still tantalizing: Is this the guy who could do it?
Several bloggers noted the rumor that Saxton bused in supporters for the straw poll last year (in which he finished third behind Mannix and non-candidate Greg Walden), and was supposedly going to do the same this year, but word got out and he nixed the plan. A Mannix campaign spokesman was quoted by the AP (and noted by Rino Watch) as saying Saxton "packed the hall" with his supporters so they could vote for him in the straw poll.

By far, the best roundup of the whole weekend came from MAX Redline, who had 13 different posts over the weekend. Here's my favorite quote from him:
. . . I've never been involved in politics at all. Like most of you, I imagine, I've voted - but it's always been a matter of pinching my nose and selecting the candidate I thought smelled the least. For me, that all changed when I encountered Jason Atkinson.

I'd always thought, "politicians are all just lawyers and snake-oil salesmen". And then, I somehow ran across Atkinson. A guy with business experience and a desire not to be your governor, but to serve as governor. A guy who really seems to speak from the heart, not from what the cue-cards in the acting classes that they make lawyers take. And yes, Saxton and Mannix both come across as caring guys when you bump into them - but they're both lawyers. They got the training. Atkinson just seems more real. Meet them all once, at least, and talk briefly with them before you decide.
At Resistance is Futile, Gullyborg makes a prediction: by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Mannix will drop out of the governor's race and endorse Atkinson. If so, the next question is: will Mannix run for the Oregon Supreme Court instead?

Capitol 3 Republicans has some nice photos of the event, including a few of the bloggers listed here.

Michael Smith from Corvallis, who is a moderate Republican running for president in 2008, has some interesting reactions to the event, starting with the meaning behind the straw poll: "It’s probably only an indication of each camp’s ability to fill a venue in Seaside." As a self-described moderate, it's no surprise that it sounds like Smith is leaning toward Saxton because of a "good balance of business/organizational experience and creative ideas," he said. "I think he can bring focus to Oregon’s challenges and doesn’t carry as much of the right’s social agenda that might alienate a state-wide constituency."

(Is he talking about the Ron Saxton who was in favor of abortion rights before he was against partial-birth abortion? Or maybe the one who was against illegal immigration before supporting a guest worker program? Or perhaps the one who supported tax increases before he opposed them?)

Regarding Mannix, Smith echoes the observation of Ridenbaugh Press, saying he was "turned off" by the argument that people should support Mannix because he was so close before. "The argument can be reversed to say the people have spoken twice, now move on," he said.

Smith claims he's still considering Atkinson, while expressing concern over the "zealousness" of his supporters, and linking that somewhat negatively to Atkinson's Christian faith. What Smith calls zealousness, I call excitement. It's not too often that a political candidate inspires such a thing.

I'll finish with the Oregon Catalyst blog. The OC's coverage of the event was good because it showed the strength of the Blogosphere: real-time reporting. But the thing that caught my eye was a comment at the end of a post titled, "Who won the Dorchester debate?" Here's "Leyla" on why she voted for Atkinson in the straw poll:
Disclaimer: While I voted for Atkinson in the straw poll, I was undecided at the debate - leaning toward Saxton or Atkinson.

Five bucks says the Mannix campaign sent their volunteers to the OregonCatalyst booth at Dorchester to blog that he won the debate.

Said volunteers, by the way, are wrong.

By my count, and the current and former elected officials and operatives sitting around me (even those who have endorsed Saxton) agree with me, Atkinson won four out of five questions. Saxton won one. In case you were counting, that means Mannix won none.

I was still undecided while sitting at my table this morning, looking at my ballot. The mics were open and Saxton's supporters were doing a good job of talking up their candidate. Atkinson was at my table, and I was watching him for his reaction. For most of the open mic time, he was pretty laid back, talking with the people at the table and laughing at the jokes of those speaking. Then, during a barrage of Saxton-supporting comments, he looked down, and I could tell he was worried. The next minute, he looked around the table and held up his hands.

They were shaking.

It was the most personal display of emotion and caring that I had witnessed from any of the candidates.

Atkinson cares. He connects with audiences - and you can tell he means what he says. He's not making any bold promises about what he's going to do as governor, because he knows it's not easy to capitalize on those promises given the current political situation in Salem.

I voted for Atkinson because he doesn't want to be a politican - but he believes he can make a difference, and I think he can.
That says it all. You can call it touchy-feely if you want, but if you don't believe the word of a candidate, there's no point in ad nauseum policy proposals.

Friday, March 03, 2006

The hypocrisy of Peter DeFazio

Earlier this week, 55 Catholic Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives -- including Oregon's Peter DeFazio -- signed and released a "Statement of Principles." Originating in the office of Rosa DeLauro from Connecticut, it was re-posted on the Democratic Party's website under the heading, "Catholic Democrats Release Statement of Principals."

(I'm tempted to ask why a bunch of principals are making a statement to the Democrats, but I know they meant "principles," so I'll just say I'm glad to hear they have them. Principles, that is.)

Throughout this post, I will probably print most of the statement, but you can read the whole thing at one of the links above if you wish -- it's pretty short. It begins:
As Catholic Democrats in Congress, we are proud to be part of the living Catholic tradition -- a tradition that promotes the common good, expresses a consistent moral framework for life and highlights the need to provide a collective safety net to those individuals in society who are most in need. As legislators, in the U.S. House of Representatives, we work every day to advance respect for life and the dignity of every human being. We believe that government has moral purpose.
So in 81 words, these House Democrats say they are part of a Catholic tradition that "expresses a consistent moral framework for life" and "advance[s] respect for life and the dignity of every human being."

They continue:
We envision a world in which every child belongs to a loving family and agree with the Catholic Church about the value of human life and the undesirability of abortion -- we do not celebrate its practice. Each of us is committed to reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies and creating an environment with policies that encourage pregnancies to be carried to term. We believe this includes promoting alternatives to abortion, such as adoption, and improving access to children's healthcare and child care, as well as policies that encourage paternal and maternal responsibility.

In all these issues, we seek the Church's guidance and assistance but believe also in the primacy of conscience. In recognizing the Church's role in providing moral leadership, we acknowledge and accept the tension that comes with being in disagreement with the Church in some areas.
This statement makes convolutions that would make a Twister competition proud: We agree with the church on the value of human life...but only when we agree with the church. (Oh, and to say the church believes that abortion is "undesirable" is like saying Saddam Hussein was not that great a guy.)

Certainly, you can't discount conscience. After all, God gave all of us the ability to accept or deny him, to follow his teachings or not. Catholics may disagree with me on this, but even the Pope, as a human being, is fallible. My problem with the statement above is the cherry-picking. How can you be committed to "creating an environment with policies that encourage pregnancies to be carried to term" and simultaneously believe that ("so-called") Partial-Birth Abortion doesn't conflict with that? How do they think improved access to children's healthcare and greater paternal and maternal responsibility will help a woman considering the termination of her pregnancy? How do they believe advancing "respect for life and the dignity of every human being" squares with pulling a child out of the womb by the heels and sucking his brains out?

I bring up PBA because 35 of the document's signers (according to Kellyanne Conway) also voted against a PBA ban. Mr. DeFazio is a three-time violator, having voted against it in 1995, 1997 and 2003.

In the next section, this document hints at a typical argument against government intervention in abortion-related issues: the point at which life begins is a matter of faith, and therefore the separation of church and state prohibits us from legislating based on that information. This gets my hackles up, because it's wrong wrong WRONG! I recently made this point in the comments of another website, and wrote about it last year. Let's leave faith out of it -- there's plenty of hard science that proves human life begins at conception.

There was another part of that section that bugged me: after invoking the church/state separation, they say: "We believe the separation of church and state allows for our faith to inform our public duties." In other words, we can't vote in favor of abortion-related legislation because it's a faith issue, but we can use our faith to make legislative decisions on healthcare or education or poverty or defense issues. What a double standard!

But the clincher is the last paragraph, which sounds innocuous on its face -- until you look further into the issue they raise. It reads:
As Catholic Democrats who embrace the vocation and mission of the laity as expressed by Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Exhortation, Christifideles Laici, we believe that the Church is the "people of God," called to be a moral force in the broadest sense. We believe the Church as a community is called to be in the vanguard of creating a more just America and world. And as such, we have a claim on the Church's bearing as it does on ours.
As a Protestant, I had to look up Christifideles Laici. Guess what I found? It turns out that Christifideles Laici (which was written by Pope John Paul II in 1988) includes this section (italics in original):
The inviolability of the person which is a reflection of the absolute inviolability of God, finds its primary and fundamental expression in the inviolability of human life. Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights -- for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture -- is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination.

The Church has never yielded in the face of all the violations that the right to life of every human being has received, and continues to receive, both from individuals and from those in authority. The human being is entitled to such rights in every phase of development, from conception until natural death; and in every condition, whether healthy or sick, whole or handicapped, rich or poor...

If, indeed, everyone has the mission and responsibility of acknowledging the personal dignity of every human being and of defending the right to life, some lay faithful are given a particular title to this task: such as parents, teachers, health care workers and the many who hold economic and political power.
So these 55 Democrats (60 percent of which voted against the PBA ban) agree with Christifideles Laici -- it says so right in the statement! -- but only when it coincides with the Democratic Party platform. Otherwise, despite their positions of political power, they apparently believe they have no obligation to defend the right to life that is called for in Christifideles Laici. They believe that government has a moral purpose, but they can't invoke morality to affect their votes on the unborn. And they are proud Catholics, unless they don't like what the church teaches.

What rubbish.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Zogby's Iraq poll: fact or fiction?

In 1996, pollster John Zogby predicted that Bill Clinton would defeat Bob Dole by 8.1 percent, which was three-tenths of a point off the actual margin. Ever since, Zogby has been hailed as a political genius.

He came pretty close in the 2000 election (he called it 48-46 for Gore, and Gore won the popular vote 48.4-47.9), and he's earned a reputation for non-partisanship, but that reputation is being questioned, particularly in light of a poll supposedly showing that 72 percent of servicemen in Iraq think the troops should come home by the end of the year.

Why the reconsideration of reputation? Try these:
  • Zogby International predicted that John Kerry would win the 2004 presidential election with 311 electoral votes, but Bush won 286-252. Even if Kerry had won Ohio, which would have earned him the presidency, he still would have had 272 EVs to Bush's 266.
  • In December, Zogby found that a majority of Americans believe Wal-Mart is bad for America. However, Mr. Zogby failed to disclose that was paid close to six figures to testify as an expert witness for people suing Wal-Mart.
  • Zogby donated his services to Tom Delay's opponent in 2002 to provide a "fresh challenge" to Delay.
In general, one of the big criticisms of Zogby is that, miraculously, the results of his surveys mirror the beliefs of the client paying for those surveys:
  • A survey for the Cato Institute found two-thirds of Americans support at least partial privatization of social security
  • A survey for the Doris Day Animal League found a slim majority of Americans think "primates are entitled to the same rights as human children." (One had to dig deep into the results to learn that responders had just four possible answers: they could say that chimps ought to be treated "like property," "similar to children," "the same as adults" or "not sure.")
  • A Newsmax.com-funded poll in 1999 found that two-thirds of Americans wanted Congress to consider a second impeachment proceeding against President Clinton.
And in each case, the media could point to Zogby as the source, making it seem objective.

A related criticism is that Zogby refuses to identify the clients, saying, "The credibility is in the numbers, not the sponsorship." This is despite the industry's code of professional conduct that says (this from the National Council on Public Polls), "You must know who paid for the survey because that tells you -- and your audience -- who thought these topics are important enough to spend money finding out what people think. This is central to the whole issue of why the poll was done."

And that's one of the big issues in this Iraq poll, because he admits it was funded by a wealthy war opponent (I'm tempted to say George Soros, but it could be half of Hollywood, too), but he refuses to identify who wrote the check. And miraculously, the poll shows the military is opposed to further involvement in Iraq.

And oh, by the way, he describes himself as a "very left Democrat," and his brother James was an advisor to Al Gore in 2000. And this Christian Science Monitor story notes that the Zogby brothers (James is the president of the Arab American Institute, which is clearly no ally of the current administration) have jointly participated in polling about that part of the world, which should make one wonder how much influence James had on this poll.

And after all that, when people question the Iraq poll, he tells us to trust him. He says he can't disclose details because of the security situation.

But unfortunately, he hardly has a trustworthy track record, unless you're looking for a way to validate a pre-established perspective.

(This 2-year-old story in the American Prospect, while falling into a liberal whine near the end, is a source of much of the information in this post. I also pulled stuff from here, here, here, here, here, and here.)

What American city are you?

Hmmm...I think I must need to take this quiz again. Sexy and beautiful? A little spicy and a little exotic? Totally high energy?


Oh well, I've always wanted to go to Florida.

You Are Miami

Sexy and beautiful, you turn heads wherever you go.
A little spicy and a little exotic, you're fully aware of your unique appeal.
Totally high energy, you keep the party going early into the morning.

Famous Miami residents: Anna Kournikova, OJ Simpson, Enrique Iglesias

(HT: Gully)

Those darn fundamentalists won't cooperate!

Mark Steyn, writing in National Review last week, had a hilarious takedown of the Academy Award nominees in general, and George Clooney specifically. The piece is now available on his website.

In it, Steyn talks about how this year's Best Picture nominees have the lowest grosses in 20 years, and he speculates why that is; this part in particular made me laugh:
Maybe it’s because Americans are homophobes. Or maybe it’s because these films are not as “controversial” as Hollywood thinks. The more artful leftie websites have taken to complaining that the religious right deliberately killed Brokeback at the box-office by declining to get mad about it. Look at Tinky-Winky in the Teletubbies: those fundamentalist whack-jobs denounce him as an obvious fruit and the guy never looks back – he’s at his beach house in Malibu sipping margaritas and eyeing up the poolboy. But make a film that’s hailed as a gay masterpiece and Pat Robertson can’t even arrange a lousy multiplex in Dubuque that gets struck by lightning just for showing it.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Everything you ever wanted to know about Ron Saxton, most of which Ron Saxton would likely not like you to know, can be found at Northwest Republican in this post by the ever-busy Coyote. Check it out.

The greatest blog entry ever written?

John Podhoretz, writing at the Corner, linked tonight to an entry by a blogger named Tom McMahon. JPod said it "might be the greatest blog entry ever written."

I alternate between thinking JPod is man of astute political observations and thinking he's a pompous jerk. Regardless, in this instance, he may be right. McMahon's observations come from 15 years of being a father to a son with a serious brain injury. For me, there were several meaningful points:
  • You gotta play out the season;
  • If all you look for is the bad and ugly, you'll never see the good;
  • Everybody will have a story. And yours is not the worst story.
But the meat is in McMahon's conclusion:
When Ryan was in the hospitals for those 6 months, I was working in a group of 18 people at UltraGlobalMegaCorp. Guess how many cards I got from my group in those 6 months? Approximately? All of a sudden, don't you remember somebody you need to send a card to? Or make a phone call to? Or visit? You don't need to be brilliant, or wonderful, you just have to be there. You can do this. Off you go now!
Read it. Read it again. Find something you can pull from it. Off you go now.

Quote of the Day: VDH on Iraq

Victor Davis Hanson writes a typically-smart column in today's Opinion Journal, regarding the situation in Iraq vs. what the media tells us. Yet, even though the military likely hears the misconceptions presented in print and over the airways, it keeps making progress.

Here's the money quote:
Each time we are lectured that the looting, Abu Ghraib, the embalming of Uday and Qusay, the demeaning oral exam of Saddam, unarmored Humvees, inadequate body armor or the latest catastrophe has squandered our victory, the unimpressed U.S. military simply goes about what it does best--defeating the terrorists and training the Iraqi military to serve a democratic government. They stay focused in this long war, while our pundits prepare the next controversy.
Hanson's recent trip to Iraq brought about this excellent report, which is worth reading a few times to grasp the nuances that Hanson includes. Today's Opinion Journal entry just adds to the story.

Will you accept a collect call from the Taliban?

From Reuters:
President George W. Bush began his first visit to South Asia on Wednesday with a surprise stop over in Afghanistan, where thousands of American troops are still engaged in hunting down the architects of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The Taliban deputy leader and former defense minister Mullah Abdullah Akhund said on Wednesday that Bush's "secret visit" showed the Taliban had a strong control over Afghanistan.

"If the American president's visit had been announced in advance, the Taliban mujahideen would have greeted him with rockets and attacks. But Bush proved his cowardice by coming on a secret visit as a thief," he told Reuters by satellite telephone.
The most remarkable thing about this story is not that the American president made a surprise visit to Afghanistan. It's that a couple of Reuters reporters have the phone number for the Taliban. Maybe I'm just being naïve -- after all, this is the news network that refuses to use the word "terrorist" when describing suicide bombers.

I don't know where reporters Steve Holland and Sayed Salahuddin are based, but I hope the National Security Agency makes a point of tapping their phones, and aims a Cruise missile at Mr. Akhund the next time they speak.

(HT: HH)