Upper Left Coast

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

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Eliminate the impure

There seems to be this line of thought in recent years that only pure Republicans or Democrats (read: very conservative or very liberal) deserve a place in our houses of government.

Any deviation from the "party line" means instant withdrawal of support. We'd be better off with the opposite party in that office, or so the argument goes -- at least we'd know what we're getting with them, instead of wondering how "our guy" is going to vote.

Thus, people like Gordon Smith are raked over the coals when they vote for the "wrong" kind of immigration reform, even though a recent Rasmussen poll showed Oregonians are evenly split on which party they trust on the issue. People like Ted Kulongoski are raked over the coals (read the comments on this post) for showing even a smidge of support for the state's soldiers, despite polls showing support for the troops regardless of our feelings about Iraq.

And most recently, someone like Ron Saxton (who won the Republican nomination) is being rejected as worthy of a vote for governor because his positions are too milquetoast for the state's conservatives.

In the latter example, that rejection has led to this morning's announcement at Northwest Republican that the state's Constitution Party (CP) will nominate Mary Starrett for Oregon's governor. Why? Because Saxton is not pro-life. And Starrett -- former Portland TV personality and former Oregon Right to Life education foundation board member -- is passionate enough about the cause to form her own advocacy group, Oregonians for Life.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm not thrilled with Ron Saxton's commitment to life issues either. He may have promised to sign pro-life legislation regarding parental notification, partial-birth abortion, and informed consent, but he is still pro-choice. One of the reasons Oregon Right to Life endorsed Kevin Mannix was because they believed (correctly in my view) that a Gov. Mannix would fight for such legislation, not just consider it once it reached his desk; I think it's safe to say they won't get such dedication from Saxton.

But what, exactly, do the CP and Ms. Starrett hope to accomplish with this nomination? Do they expect to win? I can't imagine they could hold such lofty expectations. After all, as of April 2006, less than 3,000 Oregonians were registered to vote under the CP, which is less than two-tenths of one percent of all voter registrations. (By contrast, the Pacific Green party -- which nominated Joe Keating for governor, to the consternation of Kulongoski's supporters -- had more than 12,000 registrations.)

Just to provide more perspective, the CP nomination convention will be held this weekend at the Lake Oswego Stanford's Restaurant, which has no private meeting rooms (I checked), so they're going to put a few tables together and talk politics over the Dungeness crab cakes. At least the Greens met in a 200-person hall in North Portland.

Because of Starrett's television history, she has more name familiarity; she is also, I'm told, a genuinely nice person. But she paints herself at the edge of the political spectrum for a few reasons: 1) The co-founder of Oregonians for Life is Amy Rabon, a veteran of Operation Rescue, which advocates non-violent lawbreaking (or, as the OR website says, "activities on the cutting edge of the abortion issue"; 2) Starrett has accused ORTL of lying about the pro-life records of the candidates it supports, as well as not fighting harder against state funding of abortions and allowing an abortion exemption in a Laci Peterson-style law. As ORTL is already considered fairly right-wing by a good chunk of Oregon voters, this puts Starrett in the fringes; 3) The OFL website has one link to another pro-life organization, and it is Life Support Oregon, founded by Lon Mabon. Remember him? Not exactly mainstream.

(Note: the information on Rabon came from the OFL website when it was founded a year ago. The website has since been redesigned, the result being that Rabon is not mentioned. You can find other information about her by Googling her name.)

Starrett will not win, but by challenging Saxton from the extreme right, she will largely negate the advantage that Republicans held with the presence of the Green Party's Keating to Kulongoski's left. Starrett might pull a few thousand votes from Saxton in what promises to be a close battle among Saxton, Kulongoski and (assuming he reaches the ballot) Ben Westlund. And those few thousand votes -- even though some of them will come from people who wouldn't have voted for Saxton under any circumstances -- might be the difference between a moderate conservative and a much-farther-left liberal.

Frankly, there are plenty of reasons not to be excited about a Saxton candidacy from a conservative Republican perspective. But any conservative considering a vote for Westlund or Starrett (or considering skipping the election) needs to look seriously at those alternatives. Do you really believe the state will be better off with one of those alternatives at the helm?

Don't fool yourself -- you might be voting your conscience, but the result will be the opposite of your desires. It's like those who voted for Ralph Nader in the 2000 presidential election, or who voted for the Libertarian Party candidate in the 2002 Oregon governor's race. In the former event, Nader probably picked up enough votes from Al Gore to help George W. Bush; in the latter, Kulongoski won the contest by 36,000 votes, but Libertarian Tom Cox finished with 57,000 votes; had Cox not been in the race, many people think most of those votes (and the governorship) would have gone to Mannix.

Did the Naderites receive any concessions from Gore in the hopes that they would switch? No. They pulled votes from the only left-wing candidate who could win, and the result was Bush. Twice.

Did Oregon's small government Libertarians get any concessions from Mannix in the hopes they would switch? No. They pulled votes from the only right-wing candidate who could win, and the result was big-government Kulongoski.

Will abortion opponents get any concessions from Saxton in the hopes that they will switch? Not a chance. They'll pull votes from the most conservative candidate available, and the result will be a pro-choice governor, either Kulongoski or Westlund.

That's like getting dumped by the pretty girl at the dance, and then having the football star kick you in the teeth as you leave. You can't tell enough lies to convince me that's a good tradeoff.

UPDATE: I realized after the fact that I plagiarized this post from Daniel, so my apologies to him.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Bush doesn't care about the environment

Or so the media would have you believe.

But a column in TCS Daily by Duane D. Freese reveals the truth about some of the Bush administration's environmental efforts, efforts that don't see the light of day in the Mainstream Media.

For instance, did you know that in 2004 the Bush administration negotiated a multi-country program called Methane to Markets? Did you know the program promises a reduction in methane -- a greenhouse gas 23 times more powerful than the carbon dioxide that is the focus of most news reporting -- equal to the reductions in greenhouse gases from the more heralded Kyoto Protocol?

How about the administration's efforts to develop the Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate Change (AP6)? Involving China, India, South Korea, Japan, Australia, and the United States, the goal of the AP6 is to address climate change by creating and deploying technologies that emit less greenhouse gas such as carbon dioxide. The latest victory in this area is China's agreement to buy 60 methane generators from Caterpillar Inc. for $58 million. The generators will take in the methane from its largest coal mine, reducing explosions and improving safety and health in the mines while providing 120 megawatts of electricity with reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

The administration understands that upcoming world powers like China and India must be involved or any efforts by the United States -- just like with oil consumption -- will come up woefully short.

How about the 60 federal programs designed to help reduce emissions by 500 million metric tons of greenhouse gases in the next six years? Or the $26 billion in federal spending on climate change programs since Bush came into office, about half of which has gone to researching new technology?

Had you heard any of that? Me either. Guess it doesn't fit in with the MSM's efforts to demonize the Republicans.

Or, don't build it...

From today's Oregonian, on a proposed convention center hotel:
The city must scrape together as much as $79 million in taxpayer money if it wants to entice private investors to fork up the rest of the $150 million tab.

If that's too rich, the city may have to just build and own the hotel itself.
Apparently the third option -- be responsible with city money, which means not trying to do things that belong in the private sector -- never came up in discussions. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, considering the $55 million saga over what Jack Bogdanski would call "The Tram [rimshot]."

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Hilton shareholders won't be happy

Fran O'Brien's, the Washington, D.C. steakhouse that has been giving free meals to wounded veterans from the basement of a Hilton hotel, was forced to close at the end of April when the Hilton wouldn't renew their lease.

This has not, to put it mildly, sat well with the military community. Check out this post by a milblogger called Blackfive, one in a series of posts titled "Operation Perish Hilton." In it, B5 says "I will never do business with the Hilton again."

One guy, even someone high up in his company who makes decisions on conference locations, might not have much of an impact. But read his comments, and you see that is much wider than one conference organizer.

Hilton's stock had been climbing, gaining 25 percent over the last two months. But in the last two weeks, the stock has lost 5 percent of its value. And it looks like more financial trouble may be on the way.

Katrina: grading the government & the media

As we approach the 2006 hurricane season, Jonah Goldberg reminds us that while it's easy to criticize the government's response to Hurricane Katrina, the vast majority of that criticism is wrong. And the media deserves the lion's share of blame for that misinformation.
As I’ve written before, virtually all of the gripping stories from Katrina were untrue. All of those stories about, in Paula Zahn’s words, “bands of rapists, going block to block”? Not true. The tales of snipers firing on medevac helicopters? Bogus. The yarns, peddled on Oprah by New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and the New Orleans police chief, that “little babies” were getting raped in the Superdome and that the bodies of the murdered were piling up? Completely false. The stories about poor blacks dying in comparatively huge numbers because American society “left them behind”? Nah-ah. While most outlets limited themselves to taking Nagin’s estimate of 10,000 dead at face value, Editor and Publisher -- the watchdog of the media -- ran the headline, “Mortuary Director Tells Local Paper 40,000 Could Be Lost in Hurricane.”

In all of Louisiana, not just New Orleans, the total dead from Katrina was roughly 1,500. Blacks did not die disproportionately, nor did the poor. The only group truly singled out in terms of mortality was the elderly. According to a Knight-Ridder study, while only 15 percent of the population of New Orleans was over the age of 60, some 74 percent of the dead were 60 or older, and almost half were older than 75. Blacks were, if anything, slightly underrepresented among the dead given their share of the population.

This barely captures how badly the press bungled Katrina coverage. Keep in mind that the most horrifying tales of woe that captivated the press and prompted news anchors to scream—quite literally—at federal officials occurred within the safe zone around the Superdome where the press was operating. Shame on local officials for fomenting fear and passing along newly minted urban legends, but double shame on the press for recycling this stuff uncritically. Members of the press had access to the Superdome. Why not just run in and look for the bodies? Interview the rape victims? Couldn’t be bothered? The major networks had hundreds of people in New Orleans. Was there not a single intern available to fact-check? The coverage actually cost lives. Helicopters were grounded for 24 hours in response to media reports of sniper attacks. At least two patients died waiting to be evacuated.
But in the race to prove the federal response incompetent, the “real journalists” missed some important details. As Lou Dolinar exhaustively documents, the National Guard did amazing work in New Orleans. From the Superdome, the Guard managed some 2,500 troops, a dozen emergency shelters, more than 200 boats, 150 helicopters (which flew more than 10,000 sorties moving 88,181 passengers, 18,834 tons of cargo, and saved 17,411 survivors), and an enormous M*A*S*H operation that, among other things, delivered seven babies.
Goldberg adds that the government certainly made mistakes (including, I might add, some stupid comments from the president -- "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job!"), but the urban legend of legion incompetence belongs more with the media and Louisiana leaders than it does with Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Why parents drink

That's the title of a joke my uncle sent to me. It goes as follows:

One of the company's most valued employees was absent, and his boss wondered why he had not phoned in sick. Having an urgent problem with one of the main computers, he dialed the employee's home phone number and was greeted with a child's whisper: "Hello?"

"Is your daddy home?" he asked.

"Yes," whispered the small voice.

"May I talk with him?"

The child whispered, "No."

Surprised and wanting to talk with an adult, the boss asked, "Is your Mommy there?"


"May I talk with her?"

Again the small voice whispered, "No."

Hoping there was somebody with whom he could leave a message, the boss asked, "Is anybody else there?"

"Yes," whispered the child, "a policeman."

Wondering what a cop would be doing at his employee's home, the boss asked, "May I speak with the policeman?"

"No, he's busy," whispered the child.

"Busy doing what?"

"Talking to Daddy and Mommy and the Fireman," came the whispered answer.

Growing more worried as he heard a loud noise in the background through the phone, the boss asked, "What is that noise?"

"A helicopter," answered the whispering voice.

"What is going on there?" demanded the boss, now truly apprehensive.

Again, whispering, the child answered, "The search team just landed a helicopter."

Alarmed, concerned and a little frustrated, the boss asked, "What are they searching for?"

Still whispering, the young voice replied with a muffled giggle . . . "ME."

Monday, May 22, 2006

Reagan on immigration

Yesterday's Opinion Journal had an interesting piece on Ronald Reagan's views of immigration, and it flies in the face of those who claim Reagan would have sided with the Tom Tancredo crowd. Here's one quote from the Gipper, from about a year before the 1980 election:
Some months before I declared, I asked for a meeting and crossed the border to meet with the president of Mexico. I did not go with a plan. I went, as I said in my announcement address, to ask him his ideas -- how we could make the border something other than a locale for a nine-foot fence.
The piece also mentions the issue of migrant workers and Reagan's support for some sort of amnesty program, and ends with these provocative paragraphs:
Yes, times change, and it's impossible to know what precisely the Gipper would do at the current moment. But judging from these quotes and so many others across his long career, we feel confident in asserting that Mr. Bush and those who support more open immigration are far closer to Reagan's views than today's restrictionists are.

The current immigration political panic is not unlike many in America's past, including a couple while Reagan was in public life. He always avoided the temptation to join them, no doubt realizing that they were short-sighted politically, and, more important, inconsistent with his vision of America as the last best hope of mankind.

Friday, May 19, 2006

If you're a fearful flyer, don't read this

But this story on OpinionJournal.com is a funny recap of a Wall Street Journal writer's experience with a plane mishap on a trans-Atlantic flight to New York, including some of his past experiences. To wit:
As a longstanding flier on Aeroflot (and its various ex-Soviet offspring), I usually feel invincible on a clean modern jet like this New York-bound Airbus A340. I remember once flying over Crimea in a twin-engine Aeroflot workhorse called the Antonov 24. When a fire ball emerged from one of its propellers, the impatient stewardess waved me off with a "normalno." I didn't ask again. Normal, too, were goats in the aisles above the Caucasus, drunk pilots who disembarked before their passengers and landings like the one a decade ago in Moscow, when our Tupolev 154 slammed down on the runway so hard that the seats detached themselves from the floor.

On a small Yakovlev 40 jet from Kiev to Odessa early in the post-Soviet era, a man in a captain's uniform plopped down next to me soon after takeoff and stayed there for the whole flight, right through the smooth touchdown. I shared a taxi into town with a young biznesman whom I hadn't noticed onboard. "I gave the captain $100 to let me fly the plane," he explained to me with a straight face. Just for the fun of it.
Mental note to self: Make sure you never fly on anything remotely related to the Soviet Union.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Quote of the Day

From Jack Bogdanski on the Democrats' prospects for the 2008 presidential race:
. . . it's looking bleak. Hillary? Dean? Neither could be elected POTUS, and Obama wouldn't help. My man Johnny Edwards will be in the mix, I'm sure, and I'd love to see the country behind him, but he couldn't get it done last time. And if Kerry or Gore dare act like candidates, they ought to be floated out to sea on a barge with Fat Teddy and Al Sharpton, and sunk.

Here's why I hate 5¢ bottle deposits

You have to save up way too many before you actually get some decent cash.

And those outdoor return stations? Don't get me started...

Let the general election deceptions begin

While Ted Kulongoski waited all of a few hours before lobbing the fall election's first volley against Ron Saxton, an attack of a different kind was happening at roughly the same time. And this attack was blatant in its partisanship and deception.

In the span of nine paragraphs, the Oregonian's editorial on the upcoming Supreme Court runoff labeled Jack Roberts:
  • An opportunist -- "Some Oregon lawyers spend their whole careers hoping to become judges. They dream of it, scheme for it and carefully position themselves for it. Jack Roberts, however, fell into it." (How do they know Roberts hasn't held this as a long-term goal?)
  • Substituting proper qualifications with money -- "[Virginia] Linder is more qualified and experienced, but Roberts has the money, name recognition and political experience to win this election. Linder's only hope is to make sure voters know who she is -- and who's paying for Roberts' campaign." (It couldn't be that, gasp, a Republican would be qualified for a seat on the state's highest court; he must be trying to buy the election!)
  • Lacking ethical standards about campaign contributions -- "She's no politician, however. Like many judges, she's slightly horrified by the idea of selling oneself to voters. And as a sitting judge, she faces ethical limitations in the money she can accept. Roberts has no such qualms or constraints. As a former labor commissioner and gubernatorial candidate, he is accustomed to self promotion and fundraising. He raised more than $370,000 for the primary from backers including Oregon Right to Life; the American Justice Partnership, an out-of-state group that supports lower jury verdicts; timber groups; and eccentric millionaire Loren Parks." (That last sentence was quite a feat -- tying Roberts to the state's leading pro-life organization, "out-of-state" special interests and Loren Parks in the span of just 36 words.)
  • Preferring "partisan activism" to "judicial restraint" -- "Roberts is a good candidate, no question. He's smart and nimble, and he's got a way of boiling complicated issues to their essence. The question is whether he can let go of noisy partisan activism for the quietude of judicial restraint. The other question is whether Linder, a consummate professional who is utterly prepared for this job, has any chance against a big-name Oregon politician with ambition to spare." (A nice job of raising questions about Roberts' political history when there's no evidence to suggest he would be a "partisan activist." It's kind of like asking, "Jack, when did you stop beating your wife?")
  • An unprofessional slacker with no support among the state's legal community -- "She won the bar poll in this race, earning more than five times the votes from the legal community as Roberts did. She enjoys the support and respect of legions of her peers . . . Linder is backed by at least eight district attorneys -- including several from conservative and rural counties." (Um, two problems here: 1) the legal community, aka the Oregon State Bar, is notorious for its liberal leanings; and 2) the state has 36 counties, which means that roughly 28 district attorneys -- including several from conservative and rural counties -- have not expressed support for Linder. I might add that one DA who does support Roberts is a self-identified Democrat and the most high-profile DA in the state, Clatsop County's Josh Marquis.)
I might also add that the O's choice of words in its opening paragraph -- "scheme for it" -- was appropriate for the myriad candidates who resign early in order to allow 25 years of left-wing governors appoint their lawyer friends to the bench. Among those who got a judicial seat through such an appointment was Virginia Linder.

If the Oregonian wonders why its credibility is falling into a sewer hole, it should look no further than the partisan hack job it printed in today's editorial page.

Why a Senate GOP majority is always crucial

From Hugh Hewitt today, speaking of Supreme Court justices:
Just because Justice Stevens seems intent on never retiring and has been blessed with great health doesn't mean that this is the rule for all justices. Retirements and illnesses can change this court in an instant, and if the Senate's GOP majority has diminished or even vanished, the course of the country's history will be dramatically altered.
. . .
And if you were a vocal opponent of Harriet Miers, please explain why that battle mattered so much, but the Senate majority/margin doesn't.
Yes, the Republican majority has disappointed all too often; but the alternative is potentially so much more crippling to the country's future that it's not worth contemplating the idea of sitting out elections.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Quote of the Day: anti-Christian rhetoric

Writing on the Corner today, National Review's Jonah Goldberg hits on something I've been thinking about lately: the increasing proliferance of anti-Christian rhetoric from the left. Goldberg deals specifically with those who would denounce Christian beliefs such as the resurrection of Jesus while simultaneously promoting the spirituality of the nearest rock:
There are vast numbers of people on the left who hold two positions simultaneously: 1) that organized religion is a sham and a source of evil in the universe and 2) that there are rich mystical, spiritual and supernatural forces at work in the universe working apart from traditional religions. A great many feminist theorists endorse a hodge-podge of faiths from Wicca to Gaia theory. Make-believe Budhists and Kabbalists snort and guffaw at traditional religion while at the same time they worship crystal rocks and blather on about how they were a scullery maid in the 14th century.

Now, there is nothing inherently contradictory between belief in some alternative spiritual or supernatural system and radical animosity to traditional religion. But, that's not the pose so many of these people take. They see nothing wrong with "proving" that God doesn't exist or with mocking people who believe in the Bible, but they also see nothing wrong with claiming that other, often more bizarre, supernatural theories are plainly true.

In other words, they use the language of reason to belittle and mock traditional religion and morality, but they are not in fact champions of reason themselves. They are moral irrationalists, by their own definitions, who want to replace one moral system with another more to their liking — one which usually champions their pet political and cultural priorities.

Theologically, they are closer to pagans denouncing the "false" God of the Bible than they are principled atheists or secularists. On what grounds do they claim that, say, the story of Jesus' Resurrection is an obviously absurd fairy tale, but the mystical healing power of crystals or the "obviousness" of reincarnation are plain for all to see? I am not saying that people who offer the cliché "I don't believe in religion, I believe in spirituality" are necessarily hypocrites. But I am saying that quite a few of them are. If you're going to be an atheist when it comes to traditional religion, fine. But don't let me catch you playing with voodoo on the side if you want to be taken seriously.
"They want to replace one moral system with another more to their liking." Exactly. They demand open-mindedness, so long as they're the ones defining the term.

Fast Times at Promised Land High

This video, which takes scenes from the classic "Ten Commandments" movie and recuts them into something resembling a teen Summer hit, is hilarious. (Watch out for the F-word at the end, however.)

(HT: JPod)

Saxton wins. Saxton wins. Saxton wins...

OK, so sue me. I'm not excited about Ron Saxton.

But there are a few interesting thoughts (interesting to me, at least) rattling around in my head this morning that surprise me.

I think Jason Atkinson's third-place finish demonstrates the importance of name recognition. I believe many of the people who supported Atkinson did so because, when they were exposed to him and his ideas, they were excited about the new face of Oregon conservatism and the energy it could provide to the state. He just couldn't get his face in front of enough people to overcome the name recognition that Kevin Mannix and Saxton had from the '02 campaign, not to mention Mannix's stint in the state GOP and Saxton's mug on KATU. That translated into dollars, or a lack thereof.

For Atkinson to do as well as he did in spite of his name recognition and fundraising says he is something special, and will have an important impact on the future of Oregon Republican politics.

While I am saddened that Atkinson finished where he did, I find myself relieved that Mannix did not win. Do I have some animosity toward Mannix? No. Do I think Saxton would be a better governor than Mannix? Not necessarily. But I think a Mannix-Kulongoski rematch would have guaranteed four more years of Teddy K. Sorry, Kevin -- I appreciate the efforts you've made toward bettering the state, but I think your time is up. Your name recognition is now a detriment.

While I'm not excited about Saxton's victory, I'm also not in despair. Saxton sounded some good themes in this campaign, and if he holds to those themes, I will support him. There are several people who supported Saxton who have my respect -- people like Rob Kremer and Dave Reinhard -- and I am willing to give Saxton further consideration out of respect for them.

Despite his inaccurate diss on Atkinson ("he has neither a record nor an agenda -- he's all young attitude"), there was one thing Reinhard said in his Sunday column that stood out for me. He said, "I'll confess. I once feared Saxton was a Portland liberal -- or, at least, a RINO (Republican in name only). But that was before I met him."

As I said above, Atkinson earned his support (including mine) because when people met him and heard him, they were excited about him. I have met Atkinson. I have met Mannix. I have not met Saxton. So when someone of Reinhard's stature says they held some of the same fears I held, but those fears were alleviated by speaking with Saxton, that means one of two things: either Reinhard (and Kremer and a host of others) are easily duped by Saxton, or he's more impressive in person. And I'm willing to give that due consideration.

However, there is considerable evidence to suggest that Saxton is much more, um, moderate than his '06 campaign would suggest. From his last-minute emphasis on capital gains tax relief to his sudden hardline stance on immigration, Saxton paints himself as a political opportunist, swaying whichever way the political winds are blowing. He has also held more liberal policy positions in the past. It is for those reasons that I approach any support for Saxton with some hesitation; I will be listening to Saxton throughout the summer and fall to see if he's really a conservative or if he's been blowing platitudes up our rear-ends.

If it's the latter, I may consider supporting Ben Westlund (assuming he gets on the ballot), but it will be a tougher sell -- Westlund supports universal health care, same-sex marriage and a sales tax, and while I recognize the need to address health care and the tax situation in Oregon, his positions don't impress me.

In the wake of Saxton's victory, some conservatives are already lining up against Saxton for this reason or that one, including some people I respect. I can respect some of their reasons, but there's one that I cannot quite grasp: because he has held more liberal positions in the past, he presents too big a risk that he'll turn into a liberal once in office. I'd rather, they say, support someone I know will be a liberal (Kulongoski) than someone who might end up promoting some liberal positions.

Even assuming that Saxton is the Portland liberal so many fear, do you really think Saxton would be more liberal than Kulongoski? If you believe that, you need to refill the prescription on your meds. Is he going to pull left in the upcoming campaign in order to appear more moderate? Of course. Despite his insistence that he's always held the same position on the political spectrum, no one else believes that -- maybe not even Saxton. But he'd have to pull hard left to match up with Teddy K.

But hoping that Kulongoski wins in order to "teach those impure Republican conservatives a lesson" is insane. The whole reason our state is adrift is because of more than two decades of Democratic "leadership" in the governor's mansion; those who argue that four more years of a Democrat is preferable because the Republican alternative isn't "pure enough" are, quite simply, in need of a reality check.

Will a Gov. Ron Saxton be a consistent voice of conservatism? I doubt it. But if it comes down to a Democrat who will consistently oppose our principles vs. a Republican who will likely support some of our principles, it's no contest. I will support a wobbly Republican over a consistently-liberal Democrat any day.

To November we go.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

John Podhoretz, a voice of immigration reason?

His post this morning on The Corner is a must-read, if only to consider where our rhetoric will take us:
The immigration debate is a very heated and passionate one, and the heat and passion on the part of those on the restrictionist side have been useful tools for pushing the conversation in your direction. But there's a difference between heated disagreement and the insistence on lock-step uniformity. Suddenly, immigration restriction has become one of those issues about which one is not permitted to disagree, because to disagree is to join with the forces of Evil. Those who favor a less restrictive policy are said to be bought and paid for by Big Business, to want to oppress poor American minorities who can't earn a decent wage, and to seek the cultural destruction of America. Chief among these villains, it appears, is the president of the United States, whose efforts on behalf of conservative causes — from faith-based policies to stem-cell research to a strict-constructionist judiciary to entitlement reform and massive tax cuts — have all fallen down the memory hole. He is not a conservative, my e-mailers tell me. He is Jorge Arbusto, an agent of the Mexican government. And neither, by the way, am I, a former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan and someone who left mainstream journalism to toil in the fields of conservative media when conservative media weren't cool, to put it mildly.

This inability to stomach disagreement on a hot-button issue should be troubling to anyone and everyone who has found an intellectual home on the Right — in part to avoid the kind of crippling self-censorship that has afflicted the P.C. Left. We can see it at work, sadly, at the once-fine website Polipundit.com, which has served as a Big Tent for all sorts of conservative opinion over the past few years. Its proprietor, Polipundit, has become one of the most aggressively hostile voices of restriction in the blogosphere even as some of the posters there, like Lorie Byrd and DJ Drummond, have remained more firmly in the president's camp.

Last night, Polipundit informed his fellow bloggers that he would no longer permit any postings on immigration with which he disagreed, a move that effectively kills his group blog. It is certainly his right to do so. I can even understand why he would do so on an issue he cares so deeply about. If I were a proprietor of a blog where some of those I had invited to join me began, say, writing anti-Semitic dispatches, I would not be able to countenance it. But the fact is that a more expansive view of immigration policy has long been part of the mainstream of the conservative movement — indeed, Ronald Reagan himself held such an opinion. We are moving into very dangerous territory here — territory in which it has been declared that there is to be no debate, no discussion, and no heterodoxy any longer. This is how political-intellectual movements become diseased and sclerotic. This is how they die.

Monday, May 15, 2006

More on PERS & why Jason Atkinson should win

I got a very interesting email today from Jesse Villarreal, Jr., the founder of PERS Help and a vocal advocate for reforming the public retirement system before it sucks the state dry.

Specifically, Villarreal was responding to criticisms of the governor candidates' forum held last Wednesday, and of Villarreal's support of Jason Atkinson as the gubernatorial candidate with the best plan for PERS reform.

Keep in mind that Villarreal has been trying to work on PERS reform for four years, and works to get accurate and timely information to PERS members without charging for his services. He makes it clear that "I do not like politics or the games involved. I do not understand why if I show up with a box of factual information . . . why or how we can't get PERS fixed."

That said, he hosted the forum with State Rep. Linda Flores (R-Clackamas) to allow the candidates to vocalize their positions on PERS. Atkinson, Kevin Mannix and Ron Saxton were invited, but only Atkinson and Mannix showed up. Villarreal said Saxton sent as many as four representatives to the forum, but they "said nothing." Atkinson and Mannix were given identical questions, and Mannix was actually allowed more time to answer each question, he said.

As far as a recap of the candidates' plans: Mannix's plan would take five years and at least $3 million to implement, but is still "incomplete and leaves the problems of PERS in place," Villarreal said.

Conversely, Atkinson’s plan would take seven months and cost $300,000, yet it is "comprehensive, protects members and taxpayers from the legislature, PERS agency, PERS Board and the Oregon Investment Council. It is a plan that will save taxpayers up to $500 million annually while protecting member’s earned benefits."

Saxton's plan? It turns out he doesn't have one, Villarreal said. Villarreal has been accused of supporting Atkinson's plan because he's campaigning for Atkinson, but he responded, "The only misrepresentation that was discovered as a result of the PERS Forum was to learn about a candidate’s claim to have a plan to reform PERS, to claim knowledge of a plan and in reality to be caught with neither."

Why does Villarreal think so highly of Atkinson? He said Atkinson worked on several PERS-related bills during the last session, all of which were stopped by Sen. Kate Brown and Gov. Kulongoski.

"When I heard Atkinson announcing his plans to run for Governor I knew I could trust him because of all his efforts to reform PERS during the regular session," Villarreal said.

"I have literally grabbed reporters at the capitol to get this information out to the public. Reporters continue to claim this issue is too complex for the general public. Atkinson has taken the time and learned the nuances of the plan. He is the only candidate that has a detailed strategy to improve PERS."

Why I didn't vote for Vincent Deguc

This is a little late, considering the election is tomorrow, but I said in an earlier post that I'd expand on my reasons for not supporting Vincent Deguc for a Washington County judge.

Mr. Deguc ran for a county judge position in 2002, and I met him at a community event where he was handing out literature for his campaign. I greeted him and asked him what it was about him that made him a better choice than his opponent.

Maybe he was having a long day. Maybe it wasn't fun because he'd been standing in the rain. But in his response, he clearly (to me) seemed to be fighting off the urge to tell me, How dare you question my qualifications? The response was full of arrogance and entitlement -- essentially, I've spent my life in the law and I'm so better qualified than my opponent that I shouldn't have to explain this to a peon like you. Why, the Oregonian even endorsed me!

Now, is that what he said? No, I think he explained why he was a better choice, but I don't remember the substance of the answer. What I remember, almost four years later, is the attitude behind the answer.

And that's not the attitude I want in a courtroom, whether I ever appear there or not.

The consequences of sitting out elections

As a follow-up to his post on Friday (which I noted here), National Review's Jim Geraghty spells out in stark terms the consequences of any efforts by conservatives to sit out the 2006 elections out of disgust with the GOP:
Your effort to re-conservativize the Republican Party in Washington by staying home this year will have the effect of massacring the actual conservatives and empowering the moderates who you disdain. Perhaps we can call this counterproductive maneuver “RINO-plasty.”

But that’s okay, the staying-at-home-conservatives insist. The GOP will win back the House and Senate in 2008, establishing a true conservative majority.

Maybe. But as I mentioned, what kind of lengths do you think the Democrats will go to in order to keep power once they’ve got it? Does the “Fairness Doctrine” ring a bell? You think Pelosi and Reid wouldn’t try that tactic to hinder conservative talk radio? How about McCain-Feingold 2.0, with a particular focus on controlling “unregulated speech” on the Internet and blogs?

Think the MSM was cheerleading for Democrats in 2004? How much more fair and balanced do you think they’ll be when their task is to defend Democratic House and Senate majorities AND elect President Hillary Rodham Clinton? My guess is, they’ll make the CBS memo story look accurate and evenhanded by comparison.

Think the GOP can prevail in close races once they’re out of power? Ask the members of the military who had their ballots in Florida blocked. Ask Doug Forrester how well his anti-Torricelli campaign worked when he suddenly faced Frank Lautenberg at the last minute. Ask Dino Rossi. Ask Democrat Tim Johnson if he’s glad the last county in South Dakota to report its results just happened to have enough of a Democratic margin to put him over the top in 2002.

Once the Democrats regain control of Congress, a GOP takeover is going to be exponentially harder than it was in 1994. You’re never going to catch the Democrats as flatfooted again.

Why are so many conservatives hell-bent on cutting off their nose to spite their face? Are they really willing to throw away a decade’s worth of work and go back to square one?

We usually like looking at the Daily Kos crowd insisting for an immediate pullout of the troops or impeachment hearings right this second and we laugh at them for their ludicrously unrealistic expectations.

But apparently the Kos are not the only ones with an all-or-nothing mentality. Sometimes in life you have to use the West Coast offense, nickel and diming your way down the field instead of going for the long bomb. If I want a more conservative government, I get it by electing the more conservative of the two choices, even if he isn’t as conservative as I would like. I do not get it by sitting on the sidelines and pouting, and letting the less conservative guy take the reigns of power.
Yes, I know there is disgust with the GOP for its spending, for its wimpyness on borders and judges and the Democrats in general. But think again about Jim's question: Are you really willing to throw away a decade’s worth of work and go back to square one?

Friday, May 12, 2006

Which candidates are taking shots at opponents?

In today's opinion section, Hasso Hering of the Albany Democrat-Herald tries to make an argument for his endorsed candidate, but inadvertently makes the case for Jason Atkinson as the next governor of Oregon.

Hering criticizes Kevin Mannix for attacking Ron Saxton with "one distortion after another," and asks, "is that the kind of politics we want?" He answers his own question:
According to what voters usually say, they are sick of the political games, especially negative attacks on opponents that barely avoid falsehoods but are built on distortions and unwarranted associations.
That's hilarious. Mannix is criticized for ads linking Saxton to Neil Goldschmidt ("as though most people in public life in Oregon were not at one time on good terms with the former governor," Hering says), even though those ads were funded separately from the Mannix campaign. But he gives Saxton a pass for his ads (paid for by the Saxton campaign) linking Mannix to Loren Parks. Both could be defined as "negative attacks on opponents that . . . are built on distortions and unwarranted associations."

Hering finishes by suggesting Saxton has run a positive campaign, has been someone who "tries to bring people together and look for solutions," because he didn't say anything negative about Mannix in an Albany appearance earlier this week. As if one appearance is a microcosm of the campaign. Never mind those unfortunate ads about Parks.

It is Hering's conclusion that makes the case for Atkinson:
Which candidate would make a better governor, do you think? Which one, as leader of the state, would have a better shot at getting the factions in Salem to work for solutions instead of taking shots?
Um, gee Mr. Hering . . . could it be the one who hasn't taken any shots at his opponents? The one who has the best ideas on PERS? The one who has stayed true to his ideals while others are shifting right to win the primary?

Yep, that's right. It's Jason Atkinson. You can choose one of the other two and reward the "political games" that Hering rightly criticizes. Or you can vote for Jason Atkinson, and make a statement that character matters, both personally and in the campaign.

On punishing the bums by sitting out an election

One of the reasons I like Jim Geraghty is that he and I share a pragmatic element, and that's on full display on TKS today:
By the way, put me down as one of those guys who cannot comprehend the argument that conservatives ought to sit out this election to “punish” the GOP so that they’ll “learn a lesson” and get better/more conservative in the future.

To advocates of this position, I must respectfully ask… are you out of your flippin’ mind?

By what logic does a constituency become more influential and powerful by becoming less active, and demonstrating less capability to turn out the vote and influence elections?

Let’s say Congressman Tom Tancredo represents your views on illegal immigration. You’re angry at the GOP leadership for not espousing his positions; you’ve concluded that they don’t listen to him. Do you really think the ball will get moved in your direction by throwing the party that has Tancredo out, and replacing it with the party that doesn’t have a Tancredo figure in it at all?

Do you really think a Democratic Congress will get tough on illegal immigration? Yes, Howard Dean has said, “The first thing we want is tough border control.” He’s also talked out of another orifice about gay marriage on the 700 Club and blamed conservative Supreme Court justices for Kelo vs. New London when the four most conservative ones voted against it. (For that matter, you’re a conservative. Why the heck are you listening to and trusting Howard Dean?)

Or let’s say you’re unhappy about high federal spending. Your solution is to give Congress to Democrats, who have a long and well-established reputation for flinty tightfistedness on public spending and an ironclad commitment to spending taxpayer’s dollars wisely… oh, that’s right, they don’t! To deal with a Republican Congress that spends too much and a Republican President who won’t veto enough, your solution is to replace them with a Democratic Congress almost guaranteed to spend more, coupled with the President that doesn’t veto enough. How is that a win?

Yes, let’s punish the GOP for too much pork and earmarks by dis-empowering the Tom Coburns, John McCains, and pork-busting GOP House members. Sen. Robert Byrd will get a handle on this once he’s chairman of the appropriations committee!

And that's not even getting to the topics where conservatives are happier with President Bush. What kind of Justice is likely to get on the Supreme Court between January 2007 and January 2009 if Democrats control the Senate? The John Roberts and Sam Alito kind, or the David Souter and Sandra Day O’Connor kind?

What kind of foreign policy statements do you expect from Democratic Majority Leader Reid and Speaker Pelosi, or Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Biden, and majority committee members John Kerry, Russ Feingold, and Barbara Boxer? How about “President Ahmedinjiad, we can work this out”? “Mr. Zarqawi, you can have Iraq, because we’re outta there”? “Kofi Annan, you're doing a heck of a job!”

How big a fan of impeachment are you, since the rage of the left-wing blogs will drive Pelosi and Judiciary Chairman John Conyers to try to simultaneously impeach President Bush and Vice President Cheney?

Yes, yes, I know the “I’m going to not vote, that’ll show ‘em” crowd is very, very angry. They also appear to be very, very under the influence of mind-altering drugs.
And, I might add, a similar principle applies if your preferred candidate doesn't win the Oregon gubernatorial primary. I'm not saying you must support the Republican candidate, whomever he is. I'm saying, you need to vote. Don't sit on your a** and think that's going to resolve your issues.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Ron Saxton fails the PERS test

Since before he finished third in the 2002 GOP primary, Ron Saxton has been claiming status as the idea man in the battle to rein in Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) costs.

Not so fast, Kemosabe.

As Coyote reported tonight on Northwest Republican, Saxton and his opponents were recently invited to a candidate's forum on the PERS issue; the forum was hosted by Jesse Villarreal, Jr., founder of PERS Help and author of a recent article in Brainstorm Northwest about the damning lack of transparency in the PERS system.

Jason Atkinson showed up at this forum. Kevin Mannix showed up. But Ron Saxton -- the man who supposedly brought the PERS issue to the forefront and supposedly has the monopoly on good ideas -- was nowhere to be found.

As noted in his column in Oregon Catalyst today, Villarreal said that Jason Atkinson was the best candidate to put PERS on a path to self-sufficiency, transparency and accountability. Villarreal said it was "evident Atkinson has studied PERS and has developed a comprehensive plan to protect PERS members from PERS and save Oregonians from excessive fees, loopholes and self-dealing."

Specifically, Villarreal noted these aspects of Atkinson's plan:
  • • Replace PERS with a defined contribution plan, otherwise known as a 401(k);
  • • Eliminate loopholes that award some PERS members with more favorable benefits;
  • • Stop "double-dipping," where a PERS member can retire from his job and start earning PERS retirement checks, yet go back to work for a state agency and pull in another check;
  • • Provide the opportunity for private fund managers to oversee PERS investments, thereby improving efficiency and eliminating both the monopoly aspect and the inherent conflicts of interest;
  • • Request that the attorney general audit the PERS system;
  • • Require the PERS board and members of the Oregon Investment Council to carry insurance that would protect the state against fraudulent activities and penalize those involved in fraud.
Villareal not only expressed frustration that Saxton chose to skip the forum, but said Saxton "has not developed a plan to reform PERS."

Of course, that's not what you'll hear from Saxton. His PERS commercial says Saxton "has fought to reform PERS for years." That's funny, considering the only thing about PERS on his website is buried at the end of a section on controlling state spending and taxes, and all it says is that he'll reform PERS "before it bankrupts our state."

His commercial expands on the issue by promising no changes to retirees or earnings to date, and pledging to "replace PERS with a retirement plan similar to what you have available in the private sector."

That's it. Deep, isn't it?

Of course, Saxton's trademark idea, floated last year in Brainstorm Northwest, was to fire all PERS employees and rehire them in order to void the contractual issues with PERS. Never mind that it would result in what Villarreal called "tens of millions of dollars in lawyer fees and decades of court battles."

If you're reading this and think it's a good idea to vote for Ron Saxton because he has the best chance to win in November, read this comment from Villarreal and think again:
If Saxton and Kulongoski were to face each other in the general election this fall, Saxton would face the wrath of at least 311,000 PERS members, plus one family member, plus at least one friend which would be one million people voting against a man who claimed to have a plan but simply didn’t do his homework.
One million people voting against Ron Saxton. In 2002, 1.26 million Oregonians cast votes -- total. How does Ron Saxton have the best shot in November when 80 percent of likely voters will want no part of a Saxton administration?

In his commercials, Ron Saxton likes to say "all the candidates for governor are career politicians, except Republican Ron Saxton." Well, maybe a little time as a politician would help him understand PERS.

UPDATE: This has been updated to reflect Villarreal's column in Oregon Catalyst.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Quote of the Day: Willamette Week on Saxton

Did you know Willamette Week endorsed Ron Saxton for governor? Here's what the paper said about Saxton today:
He runs to the right to win the primary. That's OK as long as he scrambles back to the middle this November.
"Back to the middle." Even the far-left Willy Week knows Saxton is no conservative, but is temporarily positioning himself to the right as a facade to win the primary.

Watch for the new (positive) ad for Jason Atkinson

The new, positive, ad for Jason Atkinson starts running today on stations throughout the state. Did I mention it's positive? As opposed to what his opponents are slinging?

A recent poll show that two-thirds of Republicans and a plurality of Democrats agree the state is on the wrong track. To right the ship, who would you rather have in Mahonia Hall? Someone who throws mud at an opponent in the hopes that something will stick? Or someone who refuses to stoop to negative attacks, choosing instead to discuss the challenges of our state?

For me, the choice is clear. Jason Atkinson is the only candidate who has run a positive campaign, is the candidate who should win the Republican nomination on Tuesday, and is the Republican who can win back the governor's seat in November.

Vote for Jason Atkinson!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The common sense thing to do

Voting for Jason Atkinson. So says Troutdale City Councilor Robert Canfield.

What the Iranian president really said


He has secured the official translation of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's 18-page screed to President Bush. Here's the key section:
. . . Jack Bauer will not be able to save you this time, my friend. If there is an attack on our country we will double our aid to the Iraqi patriots, double our funding to Hezbollah and its female auxiliary wing Sisboombah, and double again our attempts to secrete through your borders weapons both chemical and biological.

Ah – er, reduce everything I said in the previous paragraph by half. We will START doing those things. Yes, that is the thing that is the ticket: start. We will also use our fearsome weapons of unspeakable lethality to destroy your planes before they are even built, let alone launched. We can sink your mighty aircraft carriers by shouting in unison, so great is our national will.

. . . Seriously, when I came to the UN and you didn’t even send a fruit basket, it hurt. Did you not see how well I was received? Did you not see the light of God that surrounded me when I spoke, how no one blinked as I related our message, how doves came out of my mouth and the pants of all were filled with flowers. Did you not note how the exact number of letters I spoke divided by the sum (in Euros) we paid the Chinese engineers was the winning lottery number the following week? Including the Powerball? And you seek to confound my work to bring back the Messiah and bring the world once more into the arms of Islam? Including all penguins?

What are you, nuts?

Sincerely and Death to America,

Mahmoud, descendant of Xerxes, 34th degree Mason, personal valet of the hidden Imam, and not just a member of the Hair Club for Men – I’m also the President! Death to America.
One other key section:
. . . Our people glow with pride over our nuclear efforts, sometimes literally. I repeat that the enrichment is for peaceful purposes only, and we seek only peace, and peace is our goal, and there is nothing more we love than peace. Except death. Sorry; forgot. Death is definitely number one. In third place of things we love, well, there were those nice ice-cream desserts they had at this little place in Tehran. When I was Mayor I had them brought in on Fridays. Good times, good times. But once I found a hair.
Good times.

(HT: HH)

Quote of the Day: Jonah Goldberg

In discussing "populism in today's NRO, Mr. Goldberg writes a very un-Jonah-like column today: one that's difficult to get through. The column -- which refers to a Simpsons episode in which Homer runs for sanitation commissioner and proclaims that “Animals are crapping in our houses and we’re picking it up! Did we lose a war? That's not America! That's not even Mexico!” -- made me laugh when I finally reached the concluding graph:
It is the first duty of conservatives to say “that’s not a good idea” and “calm down.” It is the first duty of liberals to come up with some whacky idea about how every child should be born with an air hockey table and a lifetime supply of Ho-Hos. When life is unfair to some, we can expect the liberal to blame dark and unseen forces rigging the system against the little guy. It is the conservative’s obligation -- when the truth is on his side -- to say “lighten up Francis” and “life isn’t fair.” And when would-be voices of the people claim that 2+2 is whatever-the-hell-we-say-it-is or that “the man” should be cleaning up our pets’ messes, it’s the job of the conservative to calmly say -- no matter how unpopular or “unenlightened” it may be -- no, 2+2=4, now and forever, and pick up your own damn crap.
Though I wouldn't mind the air hockey table.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Jason Atkinson: no mudslinging here

When Jason Atkinson was running for the state senate, his campaign produced several television spots that ran in his southern Oregon district. One of them has been updated for the race for governor, and it couldn't be more appropriate, as it demonstrates what has been true throughout the campaign: no matter what his opponents sling at him or at each other, he will turn the other cheek and continue to run a positive campaign.

It's one of many reasons why I will vote for Jason Atkinson as Oregon's next governor, and I hope you'll do the same.

The image above is a couple of screen captures from the video, but you can watch the whole 30-second spot by heading over to Vonski's site and clicking on play.

A compelling argument

Daniel makes one here, which I'll sum up like this:

If (theoretically) I must be a United States citizen in order to vote in Oregon; and,
If (theoretically) I must learn English to be a United States citizen; then,
Why would it be necessary to print ballots for the upcoming Oregon primary election in Spanish?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Workin' the night shift

John Dunshee, the guy who posts over at Just Some Poor Schmuck, works at a 9-1-1 center in the Willamette Valley. Here's his hilariously understated description of the night shift from yesterday:
Things started getting interesting when we found out about a rave out in the country that we hadn't been invited to. They had posted flyer's around but gave lousy directions. So we had carloads of people cruising aimlessly around the countryside looking for the party.

You know when you don't invited the cops they get their feelings hurt and come anyway. Or at least hang around the area. A word for those attending a rave. If you're going to be driving there, it is considered a good idea to have a valid drivers license. I might not hurt if you had insurance and didn't get smashed before you go.

It's amazing how many people forget these simple rules

Later in the evening we talked with several people that also neglected to have valid drivers licenses and some who had only had two beers. I gotta find out where they're serving these beers, they must be huge.

Out latest contestant was a wrong-way driver on I-5. This guy was serious about his business. First he was going northbound in the southbound lanes, then when he realized his mistake, he changed over and started back south in the northbound lanes. After noticing the cars behind him with the bright flashing lights, he again changed direction and headed back north in the southbound lanes again.. In a sudden flash of inspiration he realized what the problem was and changed to going northbound in the northbound lanes. He should have been home free since he had recognized his error and corrected it, but cops have no sense of humor in that regard and thought he should go to jail.
He's worth a read more often than I head over to his site.

(HT: Jack)

Friday, May 05, 2006

An endorsement for Jason Atkinson

From today's endorsement by W. Clark Gallagher in the Hillsboro Argus:
It may seem a bold move to recommend a 36-year old state senator for the governor of Oregon, but on this stage it fits. Of the three serious Republican candidates to face Governor Kulongoski, he's the freshest. Ron Saxton, Kevin Mannix and Jason Atkinson all agree: Oregon is broke. But it's Atkinson that veers the farthest from the political babble. He realizes Oregonians have lost respect for their government mainly because of partisan politics.
Jason Atkinson is to the point. He has a 100 first-day's agenda. Pass Jessica's law, fund kindergarten through 12th grade and eliminate the capital gains tax are tough starts. But through some tireless grass routes campaigning with Senator Bruce Starr (R-Hillsboro), Jessica's Law slid through the special session. K through 12 and capital gains will face a tough battle, but an admirable one. He believes partisan politics is a byproduct of lobbyists, true. Oregon health care costs need to be driven by people not programs. ODOT needs to concentrate on moving freight and adding lanes - hello. PERS reform has left us with a "PERS light," and we need to regionalize the Land Use and Development Commission. But he is most succinct in his actions against illegal immigration. "All a governor can really do is keep them from getting a driver's license, keep them from voting and going to the emergency room for routine care."

So the battle rages on. Attack ads have Mannix and Saxton locked in "he's a Democrat" partisan finger pointing. Atkinson's position mirrors Reagan's 11th commandment: "Do not speak ill of fellow Republicans." He is above this fray. As we said at the beginning of this diatribe, Oregonians have lost respect for government because it has been bogged down in partisan politics. With Jason Atkinson that respect could change.
With Jason Atkinson, that respect will change. When you cast your vote for the May 16 primary, choose a new direction for Oregon. Choose Jason Atkinson.

(Thanks to my friend AC for forwarding the link.)

A sure-fire way to decide on judicial elections

I've found it. A clear way to discern who is the best candidate for any judicial position in the state.

Just go to the Oregon State Bar website and click on the "Oregon State Bar Judicial Voters Guide to the May Primary." From there, click on the Judicial Preference poll results (PDF in link) and it will show you who members of the state bar prefer for the various judicial openings around the state.

With that information in hand, vote the opposite of what they say. For instance, in the Oregon Supreme Court race, the OSB members voted this way:
  • Virginia L. Linder: 1,693 votes
  • Gene Hallman: 1,273 votes
  • Jack Roberts: 317 votes
So Jack Roberts gets the nod.

Or how about the Marion County Circuit Court?
  • Paul Lipscomb: 415
  • Ross Day: 86
So Ross Day gets the vote.

It really helped me with one of my races, for the Washington County Circuit Court. The OSB tally was:
  • Kevin W. Luby: 103
  • Vincent Deguc: 71
  • Charlie Bailey: 56
I already knew I wasn't voting for Deguc, one reason having to do with his arrogance (I'll explain in a future post), but wasn't sure about Luby or Bailey. Now I know I'll vote for Bailey.

Easy, eh?

Regrets, I've had a few...

Back in February when Jason Atkinson had his falling-out with the Mouth of the Northwest, I wrote a piece suggesting that those people who were concerned about Atkinson's position on immigration should check with the campaign and use some discretion before jumping to conclusions. Here's what I wrote:
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.
Flash forward three months, and unfortunately, I find myself not following my own advice.

On Wednesday, I wrote of my displeasure with Oregon Right to Life because, in my opinion, they were giving Ron Saxton a pass on his pro-choice positions because he agreed to a few pro-life agenda items. I'm still not happy with ORTL, and stand by many of my criticisms from that post.


As a Christian, I believe in the Holy Spirit, and believe he sometimes nudges me with a troubled heart when I've wronged someone. Usually with me, I will feel the troubled heart long before I realize (or sometimes am willing to address) the cause for the nudge.

I've had that troubled heart since not long after I hit "Publish Post" on that piece. And I've realized that I wronged Oregon Right to Life.

Tops on the list is the headline of that post: "Caving in on principles." On my blog and at Northwest Republican, "Andy" took me to task for that phrase, calling it "outrageous and only calls THEIR dedication to the cause into question."

I know my own heart and am satisfied that my dedication to the cause is not questionable. I also believe in ORTL's dedication to this cause. But I can understand Andy's reaction: it's the same one I might have if I were in his shoes. That unfortunate phrase suggested, as I said in the comments at NWR, "that they were making a deliberate, malicious decision in conflict with pro-life principles." I went on to say that I don't think it was malicious or even deliberate. But the damage was done.

I know one person at ORTL well enough that I can contact her. When I read the Oregonian article that prompted this whole imbroglio, I should have called her. I believe she would have given me as much information as she felt she could, within the bounds of confidentiality.

Instead, I reacted. I jumped to conclusions. I acted like, well, a stereotypical blogger, not the reporter I used to be.

So here's the bottom line: I wish ORTL would simultaneously fight for their endorsed candidate and fight against pro-choice pretenders, and yes, I think Ron Saxton is a pro-choice pretender. I believe Ron Saxton met with ORTL because he feels he was hurt in 2002 by ignoring them, and he made a few concessions with them in the hopes that they would leave him alone. I believe ORTL is going too easy on Saxton. (And by the way, I obviously wish the endorsement went to Jason Atkinson, but the ORTL post really wasn't about Atkinson at all -- it was about the relationship between ORTL and Saxton.)

But among the things I didn't consider or didn't give sufficient thought: maybe ORTL didn't want to oppose Saxton because they wanted to avoid negative politics (which is why, much to my chagrin, they apparently told Kevin Mannix not to use their endorsement against Saxton); and maybe ORTL chose not to put a lot of money into the governor's race because their priority is gathering signatures for a parental notification measure they hope to put on the November ballot.

I reject the idea floated by one of my commenters that people on the same team shouldn't have disagreements and shouldn't fight through those disagreements. But I recognize in hindsight that I should have done more homework before airing this disagreement in public.

So to ORTL, I apologize.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Governor's race poll

Less than two weeks from election day, KATU has just released a poll (PDF in link) that shows Ron Saxton holding a 3 point lead over Kevin Mannix in the Republican gubernatorial primary, with Jason Atkinson 11 points behind the front-runner.

The poll, done by respected Portland firm Davis Hibbits & Midghall, Inc., shows Saxton at 26 percent, Mannix at 23 percent and Jason Atkinson at 15 percent. It still shows 35 percent of likely Republican voters are undecided, with 4 percent leaning toward Saxton, 3 percent toward Atkinson and 1 percent toward Mannix.

Tim Hibbits of the polling firm told KATU:
Jason Atkinson is on the verge of making this a three-way race. . . . he has been moving up in the polls, so you cannot dismiss him as a possible upset winner. Again, I want to emphasize it's a longshot, but . . . any of those three gentlemen can still win.
When pollsters asked for an overall impression of the candidates, 44 percent had a "very favorable" or "somewhat favorable" impression of Saxton, compared to 47 percent for Mannix and 22 percent for Atkinson. However, almost one out of every four voters had a "somewhat unfavorable" or "very unfavorable" impression of Mannix, compared to 13 percent for Saxton and 4 percent for Atkinson.

One in four listed Saxton as "neutral," while Mannix and Atkinson each had 18 percent in that category.

The biggest challenge for Atkinson right now is his lack of name familiarity. Fifty-five percent of those polled were not familiar with Atkinson, which mirrors a SurveyUSA poll that showed 57 percent name unfamiliarity for Atkinson. (Note, however, that SurveyUSA also showed 10 percent favorable and 15 percent unfavorable for Atkinson, much different than the Hibbits numbers.)

One interesting thing about this poll is how the Oregonian (a partner with KATU in commissioning the poll) listed the results. It said the race is "way too close to call," but went on:
The poll shows Saxton at 31 percent in favor or leaning towards him, 2002 primary winner Kevin Mannix at 24 percent in favor or leaning, and Sen. Jason Atkinson at 18 percent in favor or leaning.
So in order to create the appearance of a bigger lead for Saxton (7 percent over Mannix vs. just 3 percent), the Oregonian combines the numbers for those in favor and those leaning toward each candidate. This seems a bit of a stretch to me.

Also interesting is how Davis Hibbits did in the 2002 primary. The final poll showed
  • Mannix: 32 percent
  • Saxton: 29 percent
  • Jack Roberts: 19 percent
  • Undecided/other: 20 percent.
The final vote was:
  • Mannix: 36 percent
  • Roberts: 29 percent
  • Saxton: 28 percent
  • Other: 7 percent
What do we learn from this? Voters had made up their minds about Saxton, but Mannix picked up another 4 percent, and Roberts surged into second with an extra 10 points. The KATU reporter, Melica Johnson, quoted Hibbits as saying Saxton and Mannix need to be wary of Atkinson:
Hibbits says negative ads by outside parties bashing Saxton and Mannix could lead undecided Republicans to that third choice.
With his limited funds, it will be difficult for Atkinson, but if those undecideds go to Atkinson as an alternative to the negativity between the front-runners, if Atkinson pulls a Roberts and picks up significant ground in the last two weeks (keep in mind that the undecided numbers are much higher this time, so there are more voters to pull from), it will be an interesting election night.

Gas Gougers? Not.

Numbers from ExxonMobil for the first quarter of 2006, according to a conference called that included Mary Katharine Ham at HughHewitt.com:
Total earnings: $8.4 billion
U.S. earnings: $2.3 billion
U.S. tax incurred: $3.7 billion
In other words, ExxonMobil earned more than six billion dollars, or almost 73 percent of total earnings, from sales outside the United States (because of high demand in developing countries like China). They paid 60 percent more in taxes than their total US earnings. Over the past five years, ExxonMobil has paid $22.2 billion more in US taxes than it's received in US earnings. Now that's a windfall . . . for the US government.

Oh, and by the way, ExxonMobil is the nation's largest oil company, but produces just 3 percent of the world's oil. It owns and operates about six-tenths of one percent of the service stations in the country.

But those oil companies, they're stroking the US consumer. They must be colluding. Tax them until they bleed.

"Every American should see this movie"

So says my mom about United 93, which she and my dad went to see last weekend. I thought her comments were so poignant that I asked her permission to post them here:
I have been riding the fence lately about whether we should continue with the efforts in Iraq but this was a good reminder of why we are there and that our future security is at least partially dependent on the success of that effort. I think the movie addressed four things:
  1. An entire religious group can be brainwashed to believe something to be true when it is not (God wants us to kill the Americans).
  2. We can become victims or victors in the hands of terrorists (or anyone else) -- we can choose to be victims due to fear as they carry out their goals or we can be victors and stand up against them as a group or nation and thwart their goals even if it costs lives.
  3. Cherish every day you have with the people you love and remember to tell them often that you love them because you may not have another opportunity.
  4. Our government is not as prepared to provide protection on our own soil as it is to provide assault on foreign soil.
I found that even after almost 5 years I was emotionally struck by the sight of the planes flying into the World Trade Center. The film ends rather suddenly and I think it left the audience stunned. There was complete silence and no movement at all.

As we sat there in the darkness with the credits rolling, someone spoke up and said something to the effect that if we continue to leave our borders unprotected we can expect to see more acts of terrorism in our country like what we just experienced. Someone else responded that they came to the movie to be entertained, not for a political lecture. I happen to agree with the first voice and I think the person behind the second voice represents all those who don't want to face the reality of the threat our country faces.
Well said, mom!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Ten thousand hits

My 10,000th hit came this afternoon at 3:39 p.m., when a reader from Seattle was referred to me by (appropriately enough) Northwest Republican. I'm sorry, dear reader, that you couldn't stick around, but thanks for putting me into five-digit territory! It only took a year and two days to reach this milestone (though hits 5,001-10,000 took just over three months).

Here's to another year. Thanks for reading.


Caving in on principles

UPDATE: please read this post in conjunction with what I wrote below.

From today's Oregonian, we learn that abortion is an issue in the Republican gubernatorial primary. We also learn that Kevin Mannix is trumpeting his endorsement from Oregon Right to Life (ORTL).

No surprise in either case. Abortion is frequently an issue in politics, and Mannix has every right to use that endorsement to his advantage. What surprised me was how Ron Saxton impacted the ORTL endorsement process, and what it says about ORTL. Yes, I mean it the way I said it -- Saxton impacted ORTL, not so much the other way around, and (from my perspective) not for the good.

In 2002, Saxton shrugged off ORTL. As the story in the O indicates, Saxton didn't even bother filling out the ORTL questionnaire. (According to Northwest Republican, Saxton said in 2002 that he would oppose limitations on abortion, including partial-birth abortion.) As a result, not only did ORTL endorse Kevin Mannix for governor, but it actively opposed Saxton. One could argue that Mannix had a built-in advantage because he was the only pro-life candidate among he, Saxton and Jack Roberts, but regardless, Mannix won and Saxton was third.

This year, ORTL acknowledged that Jason Atkinson was a solid pro-life candidate, but the endorsement again went to Mannix because ORTL felt he had a better organization and a greater chance of winning the primary. However, Saxton apparently learned a lesson from '02. He knows his pro-choice position hurt him in the primary, and he wanted to make sure that didn't happen in '06. Even though he had to know he wouldn't get the endorsement, he met with the organization this year and (while maintaining that he is essentially pro-choice) pledged to sign pro-life legislation on partial-birth abortion, parental notice, and informed consent/waiting periods.

And because of that, ORTL decided it wouldn't fight so hard in the 2006 primary because "We were afraid of him winning" in 2002, Atteberry said of Saxton in the Oregonian story. "We're not afraid of him this time." Atteberry taped a message for Mannix to use in a phone campaign, but said her organization is not putting as much money into this year's race for governor.

So essentially, pro-choice Ron Saxton told Atteberry just enough to get Oregon Right to Life to go easy on him.

One could argue that ORTL is making a conscious choice to be a positive player in Oregon politics, and I would count that in their favor -- after all, one of the things I like about Jason Atkinson is that he's refusing to stoop to negative campaigns while his opponents are flinging mud.

But I guess I question the priorities of Oregon Right to Life when they give Ron Saxton a pass. They seem to essentially say, despite the fact that Saxton is pro-choice and others have raised multiple questions about his position on pro-life issues over the years, they will support him should he beat the pro-life candidates. They are essentially saying, "Ah, he's not that bad," because he threw a bone to them.

That's a position to take in the general election, not in the primary. The primary is the time to make clear the distinctions among Republican candidates who are asking for the votes (and the cash) of Republican voters, many of them pro-life.

If Oregon Right to Life is a pro-life organization (and I know they are because -- full disclosure -- my family is a financial supporter of the organization), then it needs to do everything possible to promote pro-life causes. That includes endorsing the candidate who they feel is the strongest ally to their cause, but it also includes explaining in specific terms why the other candidates are not preferable. In my opinion, by leaving the pro-life Atkinson out to dry and ignoring the pro-choice Saxton, they are allowing politics to hold priority over principles. They are tacitly giving Saxton their approval.

Don't get me wrong -- I tend to be a pragmatic voter. I understand the urge to vote for the person who seems most likely to win. But I'm not sure Oregon Right to Life, which is funded by people who believe strongly enough in pro-life issues to lighten their own pocketbooks, is in a position to be that pragmatic. Their role should be to promote the pro-life perspective, and ignoring Ron Saxton because he says he'll do things a little bit differently than he's indicated in the past is like handing your wallet to a convicted thief and believing him when he says he won't steal your cash. Maybe he won't, but that's the sort of thing that needs a little more proof prior to extending that sort of trust.

I saw an interesting story in yesterday's Los Angeles Times that provides another clue into ORTL's thinking. The story talks about the fact that the Sierra Club has been so prolific in handing out endorsements -- it's supporting both Democratic candidates for California governor -- that the endorsements have become almost meaningless. The multiple endorsements demonstrate, the story said, that advocacy groups and unions are more interested in earning favor with candidates than in providing voters with useful guidance.
"It really is about not wanting to annoy someone who might win," said Barbara O'Connor, director of the Institute for the Study of Politics and Media at Cal State Sacramento. "They don't want to make enemies for their future efforts. But I don't think it's a valuable thing for a voter."
Obviously, this is different than the situation in Oregon -- Oregon Right to Life has endorsed one candidate -- but I think Barbara O'Connor's comment is applicable to this race: Oregon Right to Life doesn't want to annoy Ron Saxton in case he wins.

Unfortunately, that means giving Saxton a pass, and hoping he doesn't steal our figurative wallets.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Quote of the Day: Immigration

Jim Geraghty, from National Review's TKS blog, sums up my thoughts on immigration:
I think the protesters continue to shoot themselves in the foot. America is not a hateful nation. We love immigrant success stories. We don’t like whiners who protest, “give me something (citizenship) and ignore the fact that I’ve broken the law.” I’m all for a two step process – get control of the border, build a fence if you have to, beef up border patrols, etc. (Another thinking-out-loud thought – if you’re worried about the Minutemen violating the law when they encounter an illegal immigrant, then deputize and regulate the Minutemen. We have volunteer firemen and auxiliary police; why not utilize volunteer and auxiliary border patrol?) Once Americans feel that the 11 million or so illegal immigrants currently in the country aren’t just the crest of a wave of millions upon millions more, then they’ll feel less angry and punitive about dealing with the ones who are here. When people perceive that the situation is under control, they’ll be willing to let the hardworking guy who has no criminal record, wants to learn English and support his family and who’s willing to pay his back taxes and a fine for entering illegally get on a path to citizenship.
It's more or less what I wrote here.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Celebrating my first year

Today marks the completion of my first year as a member of the Blogger community, so, of course, I have to write about it! (Whether you choose to read about it is another question...)

In the midst of the 2004 presidential campaign, I discovered blogs. One of the first ones I discovered was Hugh Hewitt, who continues to be an everyday read for me. He, along with Jim Geraghty at the Kerry Spot on National Review, became regular staples for me -- coffee, Hugh, Jim, breakfast. In that order.

The more I read blogs, the more I thought I would like to be a blogger. I bought Hewitt's book "Blog," and started reading a wider variety of blogs, all of which contributed to my desire to join the fray.

But deliberately, I put it off -- I had lots of things I could have written about during the campaign, but would I still feel like blogging after the election? As it turned out, the answer was yes, and two months after Bush was re-elected, I started blogging with a piece of software called iBlog, chosen because it interfaced with the Macintosh computers and iDisk I use. However, the limitations of the software were such that four months later, I migrated to Blogger. Not that Blogger has been fabulous, but the price is right. (I no longer use iDisk, so my iBlog writing is no longer available online -- and that might not be a bad thing!)

Somewhere in the iBlog timespan, I discovered another blog: Northwest Republican. It was Coyote (along with Hewitt) who I count as most instrumental in my desire to blog. At Northwest Republican, I saw the impact that a regional blog could have, and that furthered my desire to write about a combination of national, regional and local items. As it's turned out, I probably write more about national topics, but my involvement in the Atkinson Blogger Network has given me a great opportunity to focus on topics more specific to Oregon.

So why do I blog? I earned a journalism degree and worked as a reporter for almost six years, and I enjoyed parts of it immensely. However, I also realized that even if I had the talent, connections and luck to land a job at a daily paper, I would be working weird/long hours for crummy pay. And if I ever got married, such a job would not be conducive to family life.

Please understand: it's not that I think I have some great insights that other people need to read. But I like to write. I think I'm a decent (not fantastic, but decent) writer. And having a blog allows me an outlet for my writing.

I've especially enjoyed writing about judicial nominations, abortion (especially these three posts), faith, the media, the afore-mentioned Atkinson campaign, and other random topics. And every once in a while, I write something that I'm amazed came out of my head.

The challenge now is to find a balance between blogging and everything else I do -- work, family, church, etc.

I was hoping that by the time this day arrived, my site meter would have clicked over 10,000 unique hits. I fell short, but not by much -- somewhere this Wednesday or Thursday, I should hit the milestone. Compared to some, 10,000 is small potatoes, but it's meaningful to me.

So, to Hewitt and Coyote, thanks for spurring me to pursue this, even if you didn't know you had any impact on me. To those of you who have stopped by, whether you agree with me or not (yes, Andrew, you're one of them), thanks. Please keep checking in.