Upper Left Coast

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

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Quote of the Day

From Dean Barnett at Hugh Hewitt's site. Barnett, who is my age, talks about his reasons why he's not thrilled about the possibility that George Allen might be the GOP nominee for president in 2008:
...the only Republicans I’ve consciously seen engage in presidential debates are Ford, Reagan, the Bushes, and Bob Dole. While I deeply admire Reagan and the younger Bush, it’s undeniable that I’ve had to hold my breath during every presidential debate I’ve ever watched...

I look forward to 2008 and having a standard-bearer who won’t give me a constant sense of dread that we’re only one awkward phrase from calamity. Somehow Allen has yet to strike me as the right guy to end the streak.

I must be in a contrarian mood today

But I saw an internet ad this morning that really bugged me. The Flash-based ad was put out by the Republican National Committee, and featured a series of still photos of former presidents. First was Abraham Lincoln, with this phrase:
Here's to the Guardians
Then came Theodore Roosevelt, with this phrase:
Here's to the Protectors
Finally, a picture of Ronald Reagan, with this phrase:
Here's to the Leaders
The ad finished with these words (shown below):
Their Legacy...
Our Duty...
Support the GOP
It's our duty to support the Republicans? Don't get me wrong -- I want the GOP to win widely this Fall. But claiming it's our duty smacks of elitism, of a political party that thinks it deserves our votes instead of explaining to us why it would be privileged to receive our support.

When are they going to claim it's unpatriotic to vote for Democrats?


Stupid is as stupid does

Yesterday we learned that three Oregon legislators -- all Republicans -- accepted expense-paid trips to Maui for the 2004 Oregon Beer and Wine Distributors Association convention. The problem, the story detailed, is that they didn't mention the trip on their annual disclosure forms.

I have no problem with legislators accepting a trip to Hawaii from lobbyists. I don't think this was a malicious, deliberate effort at deception. But I do think this was a stupid move by a veteran legislator -- David Nelson has been in the Senate for 10 years -- and two members of the House leadership (Wayne Scott is the House majority leader, and Derrick Kitts is majority whip and a candidate for Oregon's First District in the U.S. House).

First, why would they take the word of a lobbyist -- even one who has been in the business for three decades -- that they didn't have to report a trip? That doesn't show much common sense. If a lobbyist can curry favor from legislators and keep it out of the limelight, don't you think he would do so? Paul Romain, the lobbyist in question, told the Oregonian:
Romain said he decided the 2004 conference didn't need to be reported to ethics officials because individual distributors -- not the beer and wine group -- paid the legislators' expenses.
He decided. He didn't check. He decided. And so it sounds like an end-run around the rules. And it makes the three legislators sound, at best, naïve. Kappy Eaton from the League of Women Voters said it best:
You, as a legislator, should know where the line is, and if you have a question, you don't ask the lobbyist. You ask the commission. It's the fox in the henhouse.
Second, why -- when they're flying to Hawaii, when they're spending four nights at a hotel that costs more than $300 a night, when they're eating for free, when they're playing golf at more than $100 per round -- would they think that the rules about disclosure don't apply?

The lobbying group probably spent more than $3,000 on their behalf -- each. That's just a smidge more than $144, which was the minimum amount that triggered disclosure requirements in 2004.

I had to laugh at this line in the Oregonian's story, however:
The lack of disclosure could spark an inquiry from the state ethics commission, which regulates the conduct of public officials and lobbyists. A violation carries a $1,000 fine. No paperwork had been filed with the ethics commission Tuesday.
In other words, no one has filed a complaint (hint hint), but if they did (hint hint), we might be persuaded to write a story (hint), and maybe even put it on the front page (hint).

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Quote of the Day

From Max Redline, about today's Tribune story on the Saxtons' efforts to get their child into their preferred school:
Guess what? My child's development supercedes your stupid political views.
I wonder, sometimes, if the education unions would agree.

The sensitive side of Steve Duin

I've been reading the Oregonian columnist since he covered sports for the paper -- when was it, two decades ago? -- and I always enjoy his writing, even when I don't agree with him (which is frequent).

Today, he shows my favorite side of Steve Duin -- the apolitical side -- as he intrudes almost unnoticed into a family's grief and shares the lessons that 6-year-old Jaxon Hagstrand, even in death, can teach a bunch of grownups.
If he'd been dealt a lousy hand, heaven was in the cards. If there was some understandable confusion about the means of transport -- quizzed by his father, Jaxon said, "Well, I think I'll get there by car" -- he was convinced he had the proper escort.

That's why Jaxon once asked the doctor who placed the cool palm of a stethoscope above his heart, "Can you hear Jesus in there?"

And that's why, [Jaxon's pediatric oncologist] says, "Jaxon had a sense of what needed to be done, more so than I did or his parents. He knew when it was time to stop trying to cure the cancer. For a 6-year-old boy to be at such peace, and not have any fear, was amazing to see."

Those who stood watch over the family spent two more hours together at summer's end. "We do not mourn," says Jordan Scheetz, the pastor at Eastgate Bible Chapel, "as those who have no hope."

No, they grieve as those who believe. They believe Jaxon was on to something, the promise and the possibility the apostle Paul was reaching for when he wrote, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."
What they heard through the stethoscope was hope, an amazing emotion in the face of such excruciating pain. They spoke of their amazement that Jaxon had this hope in the midst of his earthly pain, and they shared the family's hope because they knew the pain had been replaced by peace.

Excuse me while I get a tissue.

Bill Clinton's habits when he's lying

Compare this video, when Clinton denies having "sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky":

with this video of Clinton's performance on Fox News the other day (forward to about the 2:25 mark):

Notice any similarity? (Watch his hands)

Sunday, September 24, 2006

US Navy releases Al Qaeda terrorist

The U.S. Navy today announced that it has released a senior Al Qaeda terrorist after questioning him extensively for 27 days while being held prisoner aboard a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea.

In a humanitarian gesture, the terrorist was given $50 and a white 1962 Ford Fairlane automobile upon being released from custody.

The attached photo shows the terrorist on his way home just after being released by the Navy.


Saturday, September 23, 2006

Quote (lie?) of the Day

From Blue Oregon's Kari Chisholm, as quoted in the Oregonian's politics blog:
"A lot of right-wing jerks are posting every day," Chisholm said, "and we don't censor their" comments.
As I can think of at least a couple of "right-wing jerks" who have been banned from Blue Oregon, I smell a rat.

Waiting for the 'perfect' candidate

Several weeks ago, Jim in Klamath Falls posed a question about the upcoming election that touches on some thoughts I've been having (ellipses mine):
It is my opinion (as it is my blog) that the continual compromising on political candidates and political issues is what is to blame for the degradation of morals in our society. What concerns me most with Ron Saxton is his inability to convince me that he is going to do the right thing for Oregon . . . I further believe if the conservative citizens of Oregon elect Ron Saxton - they will be compromising on their core beliefs and further widening the gap between true conservativism and where our state and society are at today.

You can say that I supported Atkinson in the Primary and you would be true, you might even say that I am saddened that he lost his primary race and you would still be true, but you can't say that because Atkinson lost his primary race I am going to bitch and complain about Saxton because I'm unhappy with the choice of the Republican party - that simply isn't a true statement. As I stated above - I have deep concerns that Ron (and Ted for that matter) are going to do the right thing for Oregon. With Ted - he simply panders to the left and to the unions in this state, with Ron, he can't keep a consistent policy and doesn't seem to take a firm conservative stance on the major issues facing the state (Illegal Aliens, State Spending Limits, etc.).

The question I have for my fellow bloggers who are going to vote for Saxton is:
With Atkinson we all firmly believed in him and his views on the important issues, do you feel the same way about Saxton, or are you compromising your values in hopes that he will do the right thing and if you are compromising your values, is that a vote that you will be proud of?
So, to re-state Jim's question: if I vote for Ron Saxton, am I compromising my values? Honestly, the answer is Yes. Ron Saxton's values do not match perfectly with mine (though really, show me a candidate on the ballot who does). So then the question becomes: for what reasons would I would be willing to compromise those values?

I've been giving this further consideration since an exchange I had with someone I would define as an "idealist," someone who goes even farther than Jim by insisting that a vote for Saxton is, in essence, a willingness to cast my principles to the wind and support the devil.

In and of itself, being an idealist is not a bad thing. One definition is "a person who cherishes or pursues high or noble principles, purposes, goals, etc." As a man trying to follow Jesus, it should be my goal to pursue high and noble principles. If, as Jim argues, the "continual compromising on political candidates and political issues is what is to blame for the degradation of morals in our society," then as a Christian, perhaps I should be unwilling to consider any compromise.

But how do I reconcile that with the fact that high and noble principles rarely make their way into the political arena? How many votes can I really say I'm proud of? Was I proud of supporting Bob Dole against Bill Clinton? Bill Sizemore against John Kitzhaber? Kevin Mannix against Ted Kulongoski? (In all three cases, the answer was No, but it was clear who I wanted to win.)

Some would argue that if I can't vote without compromise, it means I should not vote at all. They reason that because Jesus didn't vote, and because he spoke of his kingdom and followers not being part of this world, that we should separate ourselves from worldly establishments such as politics. I dismiss this because such a path would eliminate a significant method of having an impact on my community. I feel that becoming "all things to all men" includes trying to shape my community through whatever political choices are presented to me.

Other definitions of "idealist" use the word "impractical" and describe "a person who represents things as they might or should be rather than as they are." And that last definition is the crux of the matter for me. If I want to be "salt of the earth" in my daily life (and I admit that this may be completely unsound from a theological standpoint), I have to think pragmatically. I have to work with things as they are, not as they might or should be. An affliction of Idealism Syndrome would mean silencing any voice I might have against opposing political forces.

My idealist colleague argued that I should vote for Mary Starrett, because she more closely matches my values -- and on abortion, the idealist is right. One of my beefs with the pro-choice Saxton is that he seems to have embraced some pro-life positions -- partial-birth, parental notice, informed consent -- to get the pro-life community off his back.

But if you look at everything else on Starrett's platform, she suffers from the same Idealism Syndrome I spoke of earlier. She would:
  • Cut all programs not authorized by the state constitution (by Executive order?)
  • Eliminate "any state agency that competes with, or impedes the growth of private enterprise." (So the Department of Education, which competes with private schools, would be eliminated? Is that realistic or doable?)
  • Change the state's environmental restrictions, because "the Oregon farmer should not have to compete unfairly with countries like Mexico, which does not have to abide by the same environmental restrictions and safety laws that we do." (So we should reduce our environmental restrictions to match those of Mexico? Realistic? Doable, when many such restrictions are imposed by the federal government?)
She also employs some interesting rhetoric:
  • She supports the "God-given right of Oregonians to bear arms" (I didn't realize the Second Amendment came from God);
  • "Farmers and Fishermen have two mutual enemies: The government and environmental extremists." Enemies? Nice pandering, and not helpful.
And this doesn't even delve into the line she and her party borrow from Howard Dean to call the Iraq war an "ill-advised, immoral, unauthorized invasion" based on "false premises."

But there's another major difference between Mary Starrett and Ron Saxton, and this is the key: Ron Saxton has a chance to win. Mary Starrett has absolutely no hope. Zero. It's not gonna happen. Those who argue that she can win if enough people vote on principle instead of pragmatism fall under the "things as they might or should be" category.

That's at least part of why Oregon Right to Life gave Saxton its recommendation (not its endorsement) -- because it believes Starrett cannot win. ORTL is dealing in reality, not in what might be or should be.

I'm sympathetic to the argument that we need to maintain high standards in elections, which is why I voted for Jason Atkinson in the primary. But guess what? Jason Atkinson didn’t win. Ron Saxton did. And if I choose to cast my general election vote based only on idealist criteria, my vote will be meaningless and my political voice neutered.

Can you name any Republican you've voted into office who didn't require that you compromise something? Whoever it was, I'm willing to bet he or she fell short of the ideal, but it's likely that he or she was clearly better than the alternative. That's politics. We're not electing God. We're electing human beings.

So, I will choose to vote for Ron Saxton when my ballot arrives in about a month. I want to have an impact on my state, and a vote for Mary Starrett is nothing more than a protest vote against the establishment. I choose to work within the two-party system because I have yet to see that anything outside the two-party system can effect change. Until a third-party vote is more meaningful, I'm unwilling to throw my vote away in the hopes that an anti-establishment uprising will occur.

Am I thrilled with Saxton? No chance. But I'd rather see a marginal candidate win over a bad one, than sit out the election to protest the marginal and end up with the bad. And please, put down the Constitution Party press release that proclaims no difference between the major-party candidates. That is a big joke, and a farce. On taxes, on government regulation, on immigration, on land use and, yes, on abortion, there is a big difference between the Democrat and the Republican. Saxton's positions may not go as far as you like, but that's different than claiming the major-party candidates are carbon copies.

There's one other thing in Jim's argument I wish to address:
If the conservative citizens of Oregon elect Ron Saxton - they will be compromising on their core beliefs and further widening the gap between true conservativism and where our state and society are at today.
Can you tell me the last time a "true" conservative won a statewide election? How about the last time any type of conservative won? Gordon Smith is the only one to come to mind, and while I certainly don't agree with all of Sen. Smith's positions, he's always been preferable to the alternative. Bill Bradbury, anyone?

"True" conservatism hasn't gotten very far in Oregon in recent decades. Some of that is the candidate, but some of it is the electorate -- the Portland area's three counties are home to almost half the state's voters. I still plan to support the closest-to-ideal candidate at the primary level, but I'm prepared to support a general-election candidate who is better than the Democrat (even if he's not close to the ideal) because a third-party candidate will not win. And a Ted Kulongoski re-election victory is no guarantee that the ideal conservative is better positioned for the next election.

So, Jim, the answer is yes, I am compromising. I'm not proud of that decision ("feeling pleasure or satisfaction over something regarded as highly honorable or creditable to oneself") but I'm not embarrassed, either. If we wait for the perfect candidate, we will sit out every future election in our lifetime. And I'd rather see some good come out of politics, than sit it out and watch our state go deeper into the toilet.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Coming up for air

I'm not 100 percent sure, but I think I see the light at the end of the Work Responsibility tunnel. It could be that proverbial train, but if not, I should be back among the living and blogging by early next week.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

'Oh, shoot!'

That's what I keep hearing out of my 4-year-old's mouth. Even though it's not a curse, for some reason it's still kind of jarring to hear it from the mouth of my baby girl.

(When I went to post this, I accidentally hit "Save as Draft," to which I said [mostly] to myself:
"Oh, shoot."
So it's no wonder my kid picks up on it...)

Friday, September 15, 2006

Best. Column. Ever.

OK, probably not THE best, but an incredible column nonetheless from Peggy Noonan in today's Opinion Journal. Every word is important, every thought insightful. She manages to corral a hunch that most Americans (perhaps subconsciously) hold in their hearts -- that we are unsure of, sometimes unhappy with, even exhausted by our president, but the Democrats' Bush Derangement Syndrome eliminates them as an option -- and verbalize it in crystal-clear clarity.

There's no one small section I could sample to provide a sample, but here's the best part (all ellipses mine):
Americans don't really know, deep down in their heads, whether this president, in his post-9/11 decisions, is a great man or a catastrophe, a visionary or wholly out of his depth.

What they increasingly sense is that he's one thing or the other. And this is not a pleasant thing to sense. The stakes are so high. If you woke most Americans up at 3:00 in the morning and said, "Tell me, looking back, what would you have liked in an American president after 9/11?" most of them would answer, "I was just hoping for a good man who did moderately good things." Who caught Osama, cleaned out Afghanistan, made it proof of the possibility of change and of the price to be paid by those who choose terror as a tactic. Not this historical drama queen, this good witch or bad.

The one thing I think America agrees on is that George Bush and his presidency have been enormously consequential. He has made decisions that will shape the future we'll inhabit .. .
. . .
With all this polarity, this drama, this added layer Mr. Bush brings to a nation already worn by the daily demands of modern individual life, the political alternative, the Democrats, should roar in six weeks from now, right? And return us to normalcy?

Well, that's not what I sense.
. . .
. . . I feel the Democrats this year are making a mistake. They think it will be a cakewalk. A war going badly, immigration, high spending, a combination of sentimentality and dimness in foreign affairs . . . and conservative thinkers and writers hopping mad and hoping to lose the House.

The Democrats' mistake--ironically, in a year all about Mr. Bush--is obsessing on Mr. Bush. They've been sucker-punched by their own animosity.

"The Democrats now are incapable of answering a question on policy without mentioning Bush six times," says pollster Kellyanne Conway. " 'What is your vision on Iraq?' 'Bush lied us into war.' 'Health care? 'Bush hasn't a clue.' They're so obsessed with Bush it impedes them from crafting and communicating a vision all their own." They heighten Bush by hating him.

One of the oldest clichés in politics is, "You can't beat something with nothing." It's a cliché because it's true. You have to have belief, and a program. You have to look away from the big foe and focus instead on the world and philosophy and programs you imagine.

Mr. Bush's White House loves what the Democrats are doing. They want the focus on him. That's why he's out there talking, saying Look at me.

Because familiarity doesn't only breed contempt, it can breed content. Because if you're going to turn away from him, you'd better be turning toward a plan, and the Democrats don't appear to have one.

Which leaves them unlikely to win leadership. And unworthy of it, too.
Again, every word is incredible, and you must read the whole thing.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

A 'benevolent dictator,' perhaps?

At Saddam Hussein's genocide trial in Iraq yesterday, a Kurdish witness recounted his conversation with Saddam about family members who disappeared after the government's 1980s campaign to suppress a Kurdish revolt, known as Operation Anfal.

The man told prosecutors that Saddam responded, "Shut up. Your family is gone in the Anfal . . . Don't talk anymore. Get out of here."

(Oh, by the way, previous witnesses said the remains of relatives who went missing during Operation Anfal were found in mass graves several years later. Some recalled how they survived chemical attacks allegedly carried out by Saddam's regime against the Kurdish population.)

In the midst of that testimony, the chief judge and the defendant had this exchange:
Saddam: "I wonder why this man wanted to meet with me, if I am a dictator?"

Judge: "You were not a dictator. People around you made you (look like) a dictator."

Saddam: "Thank you" (bows his head in respect).
Yeah, that's the ticket. All those bad guys around Saddam made him look like a dictator. He had nothing to do with the chemical attacks or the mass graves. He's really a very nice guy. He'd rather drink a latte and cuddle with his miniature poodle than drop poison gas on his opponents. Just disregard the comment he made to Kurdish witnesses that he would "crush your heads." I'm sure he meant that other "crush your heads" phrase.

The definition of Dictator by the way, is "a person exercising absolute power, esp. a ruler who has absolute, unrestricted control in a government without hereditary succession." How could you define Saddam's regime any other way?

The chief prosecutor has called for the judge to step down, but in a phrase reminiscent of those who refuse to acknowledge that their bias might impair their judgment, "Court spokesman Raed Juhi acknowledged in a news conference later that al-Amiri may have misspoken, but it 'does not affect his objectivity' or the outcome of the trial."

Of course not. How could it affect his objectivity or the trial? Impossible.

Nit-picking a reporter's English

The Oregonian's Joseph Rose reports today that Portland City Commissioner is proposing a "no-smoking ban for downtown's Pioneer Courthouse Square."

No, not a smoking ban, a no-smoking ban, complete with financial and incarceration penalties. If a smoking ban implies that smoking won't be allowed, does a no-smoking ban indicate that anyone who doesn't ignite a cancer stick upon entry will be fined and jailed?

Just askin'.

Tonya Harding, my hero

Or so this guy thinks, as he tried to emulate her '94 Olympics shenanigans.

(HT: The Orb)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Congrats to Jack

Jack Bogdanski, that is, who got his millionth hit early Tuesday morning, and got a lovely Sinatra-esque serenade that evening.

You've got to be kidding...

In the wake of Sen. Lincoln Chaffee's 8-point victory in the Rhode Island Republican primary yesterday, National Review editorializes about it here, showing a density I don't often see in the publication's editorial staff.

The editorial talked of the GOP establishment's belief that Steve Laffey couldn't win the general election (thus jeopardizing the Senate majority), so the GOP spent millions in favor of Chaffee, the man USA Today called "the most liberal Republican in the Senate." It also talked about Chaffee's history of voting against the GOP, whether the vote be about George W. Bush, John Bolton, Samuel Alito, tax cuts or the war on terror.

The editorial's conclusion:
Laffey, a capable mayor of Cranston, ran an energetic campaign that mixed conservative and populist themes. His loss was by no means an exercise in futility: Sometimes it’s better to fight and lose than not to fight at all. Two years ago, Pat Toomey nearly defeated Sen. Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania’s GOP primary. Yesterday, Laffey gave Chafee a genuine scare. Both Toomey and Laffey received crucial support from the Club for Growth. Senators are a notoriously risk-averse crowd. And now, for the second election cycle in a row, Republican senators have received a sharp reminder that if they behave too much like liberals, they may not be senators for long.
A genuine scare or not, how is it that two losses equals a sharp reminder "that if they behave too much like liberals, they may not be senators for long"? This is wishful thinking by the folks at NRO and, unless Lincoln Chaffee loses the November election to Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse, it is not legitimate analysis.

What can Oregon learn from Massachusetts?

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gives us the answer in an op/ed he authored in yesterday's Boston Globe. In it, he talked about the desperate status of the state's economy when he took office, and the process he took in making tough choices for budget cuts.

But it also noted that Massachusetts had a rainy-day fund that helped the Commonwealth endure that dry period in state income. A rainy-day fund that -- when the economy improved -- was refilled, and became just one more way to fund pet projects for the spend-happy Democratic-controlled Massachusetts legislature. Here's the significant section of Romney's piece (all emphasis is mine -- be sure to read the sections that are both italicized and boldfaced):
When things are up, it's easy to forget the law of cycles, and to spend like "up" is the only direction the economy will ever go. That's just what happened in this year's budget debate. On June 30, the Legislature passed a budget that spent not only all of the record tax revenues and all of the billion-dollar surplus, but also $500 million from the rainy day fund. The Legislature's bet must be that if the Massachusetts economy keeps booming next year, no one will be the wiser. But there may already be signs that this is a bad bet: Tax revenues are below forecast for each of the last two months. And the law of cycles will not go away. Sooner or later, a downturn is inevitable. The spending spree will lead to deep cuts, big borrowing, a call for higher taxes, or all of the above. The fingers of blame will be pointed in many directions, but spending -- runaway spending -- will be the real culprit.
Every legislator and politician knows this spending can't be justified, so why do they do it? Because it gets politicians praised -- and re-elected. There's no courage involved in spending more money. Drawing a line on spending is hard and fraught with criticism. When I vetoed $458 million of excessive spending in the budget this spring, I knew that community newspapers across the Commonwealth would decry my elimination of local pet projects. And, I knew that the Legislature would over ride most of my vetoes. In fact, they over rode all of them, to a chorus of community acclaim. But someone has to say "no."

This year's budget battle is history, but my concern is that the spending binge will continue unabated. Social service advocates always want more. Last month, I vetoed a bill mandating free pre-school for everyone, which would have cost over $1 billion a year. It's a wonderful concept, but leaders need to know where to draw the line on spending. Government unions will want more. We have attempted to limit increases in state employee contracts to roughly 2 percent annually, unless there are significant concessions. But the unions will be expecting a more generous deal from the politicians they endorse in the fall elections -- and if history is a guide, they'll get it. And, most of all, lobbyists want more. Beacon Hill is alive with hands hired to get government money -- your money -- for their clients.
So how does this apply to Oregon? Well, as anyone knows who has listened for more than three seconds to the state's elected officials, Oregon doesn't have a rainy-day fund. When we plunged into the nation's economic toilet back in 2001, the state's tax income dropped by billions of dollars; the lack of a rainy-day fund established by law, combined with a Kicker Law established by law and reinforced by initiative, meant the state had no money set aside to cover the revenue decreases.

Such a fund helped Massachusetts, yet even the discipline of a Republican governor committed to lower spending was insufficient against a liberal legislature committed to buying the favor of unions, lobbyists and constituents. Did you catch that line from Romney above? The legislature overrode every single line-item veto from the governor's pen. (Of course, Massachusetts Democrats hold a 34-6 advantage in the State Senate and a 138-21 advantage in the House, so it's no surprise.)

Unions will always endorse and campaign for Democrats, and then expect big paybacks in the form of overly-generous public employee contracts. Lobbyists will always want more money for their clients. A governor committed to spending restraint will not always be in office. A legislature looking for more taxpayer money will rarely be unusual.

That's a big reason why I was surprised by Ron Saxton's refusal to back Ballot Measure 48 this year. I choose to believe Saxton when he says he will be "a governor who demonstrates that he is himself willing to responsibly manage voters' tax dollars." Still, Ron Saxton was in his twenties the last time Oregon elected a Republican governor, and the likelihood of consistent fiscal discipline in Oregon's state leadership is only marginally better than in Massachusetts.

The Rainy Day Amendment would set up an emergency fund that -- with voter approval -- would help the state through the next economic downfall. It would also allow budget increases that keep up with population growth and inflation, so the legislature could spend what it needs to serve the state, but couldn't go spend-happy in economic good times.

Because I have not thoroughly investigated it, I'm still not 100 percent sold on the RDA, but Mitt Romney gives us a bushel of reasons why it makes sense.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Joke of the Day: A level playing field

God is sitting in Heaven when a scientist says to Him, "Lord, we don't need you anymore. Science has finally figured out a way to create life out of nothing. In other words, we can now do what You did in the 'beginning.' "

"Oh, is that so? Tell me more," replies God.

"Well," says the scientist, "we can take dirt and form it into the likeness of You and breathe life into it, thus creating man."

"Well, that's interesting. Show me."

So the scientist bends down to the earth and starts to mold the soil.

At this point, God interrupts the scientist:

"Oh no, no, no," He says. "Get your own dirt."

Monday, September 11, 2006

Interesting Priorities

Good thing we have David Wu as our U.S. representative. He really focuses on the important things for his constituents.

Running private business like the government

No wonder the Oregonian is always editorializing in favor of a tax increase and against things like the Rainy Day Amendment -- the paper is run as if it's a government entity with unlimited access to money.

The evidence for this comes in today's Portland Business Journal story about a potential multi-million-dollar drop in advertising revenue as Meier & Frank (one of the paper's largest advertisers) transitions into Macy's. The latter company is expected to spend less on print ads and more on broadcasting -- a potential loss to the Oregonian of more than $2 million.

It's already happened across the country, but The Oregonian sounds like it has its head in the sand, as this paragraph illustrates:
Oregonian Publisher Fred Stickel, through an assistant, said the paper has been given no indication that Federated and its Macy's brand will advertise less than Meier & Frank. In fact, he remained confident the store would increase its local print advertising. The paper has long had an informal no-layoffs policy in its newsroom.
An informal no-layoffs policy? How nice. Doesn't that sound like the government?

Mark D. Roberts on 9/11

Roberts, a pastor in Irvine, California, puts the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001 into proper perspective. Not with a remembrance or analysis, but with a great prayer that -- regardless of your faith -- is worth reading. Here it is in its entirety, with some emphasis by me on the areas where I need His work, or that spoke to me in some way:
Gracious and Merciful God,

As I remember what happened five years ago today, my heart is still heavy with grief. I recall the thousands of people who died in the 9/11 attacks. I think about their loved ones, families and friends who have experienced untold sadness during the last five years, and who will, no doubt, feel an extra measure of anguish today. So I begin this prayer, dear Lord, by asking You to comfort those who mourn today. Draw them near to You and grant them Your peace.

Peace . . . before that tragic day five years ago, it seemed as if peace were in our grasp in an unprecedented way. The Cold War was over. And, though there were places of violence and brutality in the world, the flow of history seemed to be in the direction of growing and lasting peace. But then those planes crashed into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and the ground of Pennsylvania, and the hope of peace seemed to explode along with them. Now we were clearly at war, a different kind of war than ever before, a war where the victims were innocent bystanders rather than official warriors. It was scary, and we felt terror.

Since that fateful day so much has happened in our nation and world: the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; Anthrax scares; increased security measures; bombings in Indonesia, Jakarta, Bali, London, Madrid, and elsewhere; a war between Israel and Hezbollah; seemingly endless terrorist attacks in Iraq, and so on, and so on. Sometimes it seems as if our world is being wrenched apart by violence and hatred. And sometimes it seems as if our own hearts are being caught in the web of these emotions. With enemies so terrifying and vicious, it's easy to give in to hatred.

And so I pray for myself, Lord, and my fellow Americans, and all who seek to oppose the way of violence, that in our effort to secure peace and justice, we might not let our hearts be corrupted by darkness. May Your truth keep us on the right track. May Your love protect us. May Your forgiveness cleanse us.

I pray today that You will bring down all in this world who seek to dominate through terror. Squelch their evil plots. Turn their swords into plowshares. And, though it seems almost beyond hope to pray it, I would ask You to transform the hearts of those who seek to augment their power through bloodshed and fear. Only You can do this, Lord. But You can do it.

Grant Your wisdom, all-knowing God, to those in this world who seek to end the threat of terror. Guide the leaders of our nation and other nations. Show them what they would not be able to see on their own. Give them a commitment to truth and a passion for genuine peace. May they seek, not only to bring an end to hostilities, but also to forge a world of justice for all people. Help them to weigh partisan and national interests in the balance of Your kingdom.

Today I want to pray for all who find themselves in harm's way, knowing that, in one sense, no one is completely free from the threat of violence. But I pray especially for the men and women in our armed forces and in law enforcement, that You would protect and guide them. Grant special grace to those who are separated from their families, and to these families as they pray for their loved ones. I ask for Your protection for innocent men, women, and children in Iraq, Israel, and elsewhere, who daily face the threat of bombings.

Thank You, gracious God, for the safety and security we enjoy in our nation even in the midst of such uncertain and scary times. Yet, may we remember that You alone are our true fortress, our solid rock, our eternal stronghold. May we live each day putting our lives in Your hands, living with You and for Your purposes.

O Lord, the time will come when Your peace will engulf our world. That is our hope, and we claim it with confidence in You. Until that day, we ask for a foretaste of the peace of the future. Even as we pray for Your kingdom to come, we ask also that Your will be done on earth today, as in heaven. Let mercy triumph over vengeance, justice over wrong, hatred over love. May we taste Your peace as an appetizer for the future.

On this day of sad remembrance, as on every day, may we seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness. Work Your will in us and through us, for Your glory.

In Jesus's name, Amen!
And Amen.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Quote of the Day: Saddam & al-Qaeda

This week's Senate Intelligence Committee reports are damning in proving that Saddam Hussein had no ties to al-Qaeda. Or are they?

Thomas Josceyln of the Weekly Standard begs to differ, pointing out that the "evidence" cited in the reports frequently ignores contradictory evidence, or gives unreasonable weight to certain facts. Case in point (emphasis mine):
The committee's staff made little effort to determine whether or not the testimony of former Iraqi regime officials was truthful. In fact, Saddam Hussein and several of his top operatives -- all of whom have an obvious incentive to lie -- are cited or quoted without caveats of any sort. In Saddam's debriefing it was suggested that he may cooperate with al Qaeda because "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." According to the report, "Saddam answered that the United States was not Iraq's enemy. He claimed that Iraq only opposed U.S. policies . . ."

Anyone with even a partial recollection of the controversy surrounding Iraq in the 1990s will recall that Saddam made it a habit of cursing and threatening the United States. His annual January "Army Day" speeches were laced with threats and promises of retaliation against American assets. That is, when Saddam claimed that the United States was "not Iraq's enemy," he was quite obviously lying. But nowhere in the staff's report is it noted that Saddam's debriefing was substantially at odds with more than a decade of his rhetoric.
And, Joscelyn continued, the report insists Saddam Hussein had no ties to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who led al-Qaeda's efforts in Iraq until his recent demise:
The staff cites debriefings which support this conclusion, but do not give any weight at all to testimony which runs counter to it. For example, the Phase I Senate Intelligence report noted that a top al Qaeda operative named Abu Zubaydah "indicated that he heard that an important al-Qaida associate, Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, and others had good relationships with Iraqi intelligence."

Zubaydah's testimony has since been further corroborated by a known al Qaeda ideologue, Dr. Muhammad al-Masari . . . He told the editor-in-chief of Al-Quds Al-Arabi that . . . "Saddam funded Al-Qaeda operatives to move into Iraq with the proviso that they would not undermine his regime."

Al-Masari claimed that Saddam's regime actively aided Zarqawi and his men prior to the war and fully included them in his plans for a terrorist insurgency. He said Saddam "saw that Islam would be key to a cohesive resistance in the event of invasion." Iraqi officers bought "small plots of land from farmers in Sunni areas" and they buried "arms and money caches for later use by the resistance."
A cursory examination of Zarqawi's cell in Iraq reveals that many of his top operatives were once Saddam's military and intelligence officers. It appears, therefore, al-Masari's testimony should be taken seriously. Yet, neither Abu Zubaydah's nor Al-Masari's statements are given any weight by the committee.
Joscelyn concludes:
This reports was never really about investigating the relationship between Saddam's regime and al Qaeda. It was about giving certain senators more ammunition against the president.
By the way, one of the senators on that committee is Oregon's Ron Wyden.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Wal-Mart, the Beavs and 9/11

No, they don't have anything to do with each other, but I'm still pressed for time, so I had to combine things that I saw this morning:

• Wal-Mart officials on Thursday showed more class than their opponents have managed in the last two years. After losing a Beaverton City Council decision based entirely on emotion and completely lacking fact, Wal-Mart officials decided not to appeal the decision to the Land Use Board of Appeals. As a store spokesperson said, "We want to be a part of this community, but having a court battle is not the way we want to enter."

Get that? Wal-Mart wants to be a good neighbor, and doesn't want to pick a fight; even though they would likely win, the fallout would have long-term negative affects.

The response from Wal-Mart opponents? They made it clear that it was all about NIMBY-ism:
Steve Kaufman, Save Cedar Mill's leader, said his community group's protest probably would not follow Wal-Mart's search to another Beaverton site.

The group, formed to fight the proposed Cedar Mill Wal-Mart, will remain focused on the Cedar Mill site owned by the Peterkort family. Neighbors would like to see locally owned stores and restaurants on the land, Kaufman says, places where they can walk to eat or shop.

"This is a big deal," he said. "I don't believe in the adage that you can't fight City Hall anymore. We've energized the community, and we hope that Wal-Mart knows you have to respect a community's vision for themselves."
"Respect a community's vision for themselves"? What rubbish. This wasn't about the "community," it was about the backyards of Steve Kaufman and his compatriots. Wal-Mart has become the favorite target of the intellectual elite, and Cedar Mill folks jumped on the bandwagon because the store isn't classy enough for them. If it was really about Wal-Mart as a store, about the impact the store would supposedly have on the community, Kaufman's group would fight Wal-Mart at every stop.

I will, however, agree that traffic is an issue at that site, but that actually creates a problem for one of the arguments against a Cedar Mill Wal-Mart -- that the site should be focused on non-automobile traffic. Wal-Mart would have drawn more mass-transit use than upscale community stores ever will. Instead, the opponents have a vision of "places where they can walk to eat or shop" (translation: places that are more upscale and won't bring in lower-income Wal-Mart customers). The problem with that is, very few people are going to walk from the Sunset Transit Center to that site, which includes a hike down Barnes Road and across Cedar Hills Boulevard (round trip, more than a mile). Very few people are going to take the bus to "eat or shop." Very few homes are within walking distance. It is a vehicle-oriented site, and anyone who is intellectually honest will agree.

Boise State 42, Oregon State 14. Ouch. That's gotta leave a mark. The Beavers now have more than two weeks to prepare for their second Western Athletic Conference opponent, the Dennis Erickson-led Idaho Vandals (remember him? See the sidebar for a reminder); that's followed by a home game with the California Golden Bears. If the Beavs get out of September with just one win, and that against Division 1-AA Eastern Washington, Mike Riley better start updating his résumé.

Not that a big win against Stanford indicates a quality team, but at least the Ducks started with a victory against a Pac-10 team. If Oregon can win at Fresno State (which has run neck-and-neck with Boise State as the best WAC team over the past several years) this weekend, I think it's fair to assume the Ducks have the upper hand in the Northwest. Oh yeah, there are a couple of Washington schools that might have something to say about that...

• The incomparable Peggy Noonan writes a heart-rending column today on the sounds of September 11, 2001 -- the sound of "a heavy truck going hard over a big street grate" that turned out to be a jet slamming into a 105-story skyscraper; the creaking and rumbling of the earth as those skyscrapers crumbled into a pile of rubble and flesh; and the sound of countless loved ones -- knowing the end was near -- calling their families to say their last goodbyes. Goodbyes based on the love that death tears apart but can never erase, goodbyes that preceded acts of heroism that could not have been imagined just hours earlier in that infamous day. Here's Noonan's conclusion, with my bold emphasis on the most important message:
These were people saying, essentially, In spite of my imminent death, my thoughts are on you, and on love.
. . .
This is what I get from the last messages. People are often stronger than they know, bigger, more gallant than they'd guess. And this: We're all lucky to be here today and able to say what deserves saying, and if you say it a lot, it won't make it common and so unheard, but known and absorbed.

I think the sound of the last messages, of what was said, will live as long in human history, and contain within it as much of human history, as any old metallic roar.
Noonan could have written this column with her eyes closed, because the important part is not so much her prose as it is the thoughts and prayers of people trapped in a burning building or an airplane-turned-missile, and what those sounds reveal about the people and about our nation.

Read the whole thing, and don't forget what united our country that day.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Too dang busy

Buried at work. No end in sight. Very little blogging until I dig out.

I really hate it when I have things to say, but I don't have the time to say them.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

GOP losses should be due to GOOD ideas from Ds

Not lies, innuendo and WOAB ("We're Opposed to Anything Bush") rhetoric. So says Jim Geraghty on his NRO blog, TKS. He essentially says that Bush won the 2004 election because the Democrats never threw anything of substance into the race (Michael Moore, Ben Affleck, lies about the draft or military service, etc.), and little has changed for 2006:
. . . do Democrats get to win back Congress this year, based on the performance they’ve turned in lately?

When their plan on Iraq is essentially, “pull out and hope it gets better,” and their most prominent spokesman wants a rapid-response force based in Okinawa?

When a potential committee chairman said he doesn’t want to take sides for or against Hezbollah?

When they object to the term “Islamist Fascism,” essentially arguing that the guys we’re fighting can’t be fascist because they don’t have spiffy uniforms and a distinctive march? What, are they worried that the label "fascist" will unfairly tarnish the reputations of al-Qaeda, Iraqi insurgents, Nasrallah and Hezbollah, and the Iranian mullahs?

(Judging by the reaction to Dick Durbin last year, Nazi comparisons are okay for U.S. troops guarding al-Qaeda prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, but not okay for the actual terrorists that these guys are guarding.)

When they knock out the one undisputed hawk in their caucus and replace him with a guy who pledges, “America is stronger when we work with our allies and negotiate with our enemies?”

When they’ve spent much of the year beating the drums over a crime that didn’t occur? When they had to abandon the “culture of corruption” argument because members of their caucus had cash in their freezer and took a swing at a Capitol Police officer?

When there’s no chance whatsoever that these folks would really crack down on illegal immigration, and they not-so-subtly suggest that wanting immigration laws enforced is de facto racism?

Look – I can see losing to Bill Clinton. The guy could sell ice to Eskimos, always had the perfect touch on television, and campaigned as the most noncontroversial welfare-reforming centrist ever to kiss a baby. (And, er, uh, other people.)

But these guys? The GOP is going to lose to Nancy Pelosi, Howard Dean, John Murtha, Ned Lamont? The crowd that shares its stages with Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Cindy Sheehan?

Maybe my inclinations are blinding me. And there’s still a lot of campaign season to go. But I just don’t think it’s likely that this crowd is going to seal the deal with a majority of the American people.
And I agree.