Upper Left Coast

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

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

McGavick closing hard

(Please see update at the bottom)

I'm last in line to see this, but I still wanted to point it out: according to the latest Zogby poll, Washington state Republican Mike McGavick is closing hard on Maria Cantwell with a week remaining before the election. This would be a huge blow to the Democrats' efforts to take over the Senate.

(I know, it's Zogby, but I'm hopeful the firm's biases mean the GOP is doing even better than the polls indicate.)

Republican control of Congress is critical, unless you're in favor of capitulating to terrorists, raising taxes on all Americans, or holding the nation hostage through political "investigations" and legislative blackmail.

Note to Republicans: I know you're not thrilled with your party, but the alternative is Nancy Pelosi as the most powerful person in the United States Congress. And it's critical to note, as the San Diego paper did this weekend, who Pelosi would put in charge of the House committees:
  • House Intelligence Committee: Rep. Alcee Hastings, an ultra-liberal and at least formerly sleazy Florida Democrat. Hastings was impeached and removed as a federal judge by a Democratic-controlled Congress in 1988-89 on bribery and obstruction of justice charges.
  • Ways and Means Committee: New York Democrat Rep. Charles Rangel. Rangel says he would oppose extending any of the Bush tax cuts past their expiration in 2010 – imposing a huge tax increase on an economy fueled by Bush's first-term tax reductions.
  • House Judiciary Committee: Michigan Rep. John Conyers. Conyers has spent the last few years compiling a case for impeaching President Bush. Pelosi denies that a Democratic House would pursue Bush's impeachment but Conyers pointedly demurred from echoing Pelosi's denial.
  • House Government Reform Committee: California Rep. Henry Waxman, among the most partisan liberal Democrats in the House. No one doubts that Waxman would use his committee and its subpoena power to launch a flurry of investigations of the Bush administration, including its counterterrorism intelligence programs.
Never mind that Pelosi said national security isn't an issue in this election. Never mind that House Democrats have voted against George W. Bush at every turn, regardless of the merit of the propososal -- this includes funding for the defense department, intelligence agencies, and border security.

And you think that's better than a GOP-led Congress?

Get real. And get out there and vote next week.

UPDATE: I didn't realize this was a Zogby Interactive poll, aka an internet poll, so it holds all the weight of a bucketful of John Kerry's apologies. In other words, nothing. Two newer polls put Cantwell up 7 and 8 points, respectively.

That doesn't take away from what I wrote regarding Democratic control of Congress, but the Zogby poll is still worthless nonetheless.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Goodbye, Dad

After holding a brain tumor at bay for almost seven years, my dad joined the bass section of God's chorus last week. He was 62. I wrote this as a tribute to the man who shaped my life in so many ways.

I love you, dad.


Hello, my name is Ken, and I’m an internet-aholic.

I know that’s an odd way to start a memorial service tribute, but bear with me — it’s true. I’m an internet nerd. I spend way too much of my own time reading what people with too much time on their hands decide to write. I even have my own blog, so I can spend my time writing things for others who have too much time on their hands.

Most of the time, I read and write about politics. But shortly after I learned that my dad would soon join the great Barbershop chorus in the sky, the ‘net was suddenly filled with stories of life and death, and of people who managed to fill every nook and cranny of their lives with joy.

I've also been reading a book called Wild at Heart, by an author named John Eldredge. The book’s premise is that men are endowed by their creator with three innate desires — a battle to fight; an adventure to live; and a beauty to rescue.

As I’ve thought over the last few weeks about my father’s life, I’ve realized that I could see those desires in him.

So, since all those writers were so kind to provide material just for me, I’m going to use their wisdom and talent as I attempt to talk about my dad.

Going slightly out of order, I first want to talk about the adventures my dad has lived.

I didn’t realize it until I sat down to write this out, but dad really was more adventurous than I gave him credit. Much of that adventure came before the tumor as a younger, stronger man, but he loved the outdoors and the adventures that the outdoors provided.

Perhaps his most obvious adventure was camping. I don’t know if this activity preceded my mom, but they actually sought out the opportunity to set up camp in the middle of nowhere.

Over the years, we took camping trips all over the western United States and Canada, and I have wonderful memories of those trips, even such simple things as playing Frisbee with my dad, or fishing with him on a Colorado lake while trying not to get carted off by the mosquitos.

As my parents got older, they upgraded a little bit, moving from a tent to a camper to a tent trailer, and finally to the ultimate camping experience — a timeshare. (Is that camping?)

A few years ago, after mom & dad upgraded to the timeshare, my family inherited the tent trailer. This gave me a new appreciation for their efforts; frankly, I don’t know they did it. It’s hard enough preparing for a trip to the beach, much less a 2,000-mile drive to the Rocky Mountains and back. But I firmly believe dad did that because of his love of the outdoors and his love for his family.

There were other adventures as well. Some of you know dad was a soap box derby racer as a boy, and those cars hung in his step-mom’s garage for years before he put them in his own garage. I remember seeing those as a kid and thinking they looked cool and would be fun — now I remember them and I think: “He rode downhill in those? Without any brakes? What was he thinking?”

Another activity was skiing. As a boy, I remember dad waking up at o’dark thirty to join his buddies on a day-trip for skiing in the Sierras. He even took me skiing once as a boy, but I was too chicken to head down the hill. Without showing the frustration I might feel in his shoes, he just stuck me between his skis, and led me down to the bottom.

I’m scarred to this day from the terror of that run, which might explain why I never went skiing with him again until I was an adult. However, I have great memories of that activity in more recent years. The best time was shortly after my nephew Joshua was born. Mom and dad came to Salt Lake City to see their first grandchild, and I flew out for an early birthday present to myself. Dad skied three straight days, the first one by himself, but still skied circles around his boys despite the fact that he was almost twice our age at that point.

After the tumor, these things became more of a challenge. I think this was disappointing for him because he still wanted that life of adventure, but his body couldn’t keep up with his desires.

I was reminded of his adventurous side just minutes after learning of dad’s death. I was in my office at work, so I locked up and walked outside, slowly coming to the realization that the inevitable was now permanent reality. As I walked out into the parking lot, I was almost startled by a gorgeous Fall afternoon. The colors seemed more vibrant, the sunset more stunning, the crisp fall air more soothing. It was as if God was saying, “I know you are in pain. But I am here. I made all this for you. And if you think it’s beautiful down there, just imagine how it looks from your dad’s perspective. Your dad is getting a taste of adventure unlike any he’s ever seen.”

So those were some of his adventures. Now, to the beauty he lived to rescue.

The beauty, obviously, is my mom. Perhaps more than any other character trait, the thing I admired most in my father was his commitment to and love for his wife. There has never been a time — and I do mean never — when I doubted his love for her.

When we were kids, they never argued in front of us, but they always made a point of smooching in front of us, leading to groans from my brother and me.

And it’s been that way practically from the moment they met. Mom told me recently of their courtship, and it made the half-year courtships that my brother and I had with our wives look drawn out in comparison. They met in mid-November, had a first date two weeks later, and were engaged about two weeks after that. Granted, they didn’t get married for another eight months, but they got the important stuff out of the way quickly. By comparison, my brother proposed to his wife after 7-1/2 weeks, and I waited an eternity — four months.

Mom and dad’s love affair started four decades ago, and never stopped. I think Mom always felt part of the adventure, always knew she was dad’s beloved. So it was only fitting that God gave her a little extra time to demonstrate a few final acts of love for her husband — to care for the man who had swept her off her feet 41 years ago next month. And it was an honor for me to be a small part of that.

One feeling I think of when contemplating my parents’ relationship is joy — the joy they took in each other. I read something about that emotion recently while perusing a blog called Sand in the Gears, which is run by a man named Tony Woodlief. Tony and his wife Celeste live in the midwest, and are the parents of three boys — Caleb, Eli and Isaac. But before those three boys, just two days before my 29th birthday, Tony and Celeste gave birth to a baby girl, Caroline. The joy of their firstborn turned dark a few months after her third birthday, when Caroline was diagnosed with a brain tumor on her brainstem. The doctors gave her half a year, and then only with chemotherapy, but she lasted just four short, painful months. She died on Oct. 19, 1999 — just three months before my father was diagnosed with his tumor, and seven years to the day before dad’s death.

I don’t pretend to compare the death of my father to the pain of losing a little girl, even if the cause was similar. But I tell you this to note where paths unexpectedly cross, and so you will understand what I’m about to read. This is a recent piece by Mr. Woodlief about the joys and sorrows in his life. He wrote:
I remember after Caleb was born, and the pain of losing Caroline was still so sharp, that I avoided loving him. It wasn't on purpose, and I only realized later that I had done it, but there it was, a wall to protect against ever facing the terror again.

But that little boy's smiles are like an ocean, and each wave piled into the next until I found myself loving him as fiercely as I had ever loved my daughter . . . I used to think I would never laugh again. I thought there could never be joy again. And yet my house is filled with it.

So we're back to the slow, quiet miracle. Sometimes when I am alone I whisper "thank you," over and over. I never knew it could be this way. And do you know the most exciting thing, the realization that makes me tremble as I consider it? It's the fact that there could be other miracles ahead, slowly building until you or I recognize them for what they are, and find ourselves stumbling about in a world that isn't as dark as we once thought it, whispering: "Thank you."

. . . It's a nice feeling, isn't it, to know that there's joy, even in the midst of sadness? Tomorrow night will mark seven years since she breathed her last in our arms. I realized the other day that I've been deeply sad and soul-weary for weeks, and that it's always this way when the weather cools and the light changes and my body remembers. You think it will fade and then you smell her or hear a squeal that sounds like her and it hits you full in the chest, and you remember that she is etched into you so that it will never not hurt.

But there is this joy, in the midst of it. I think somehow they're intertwined, and I don't understand why. I only know that now, even in this immense sadness like a black lake, I can whisper thanks. Even here there is hope, for me, for you, for anyone with eyes to see it.
Tony Woodlief has found a way to rejoice, even in the midst of incredible, lingering sadness. And I want to tell you that even as we weep over my dad, we have a lot to be joyful about. We can take joy in the fact that my mom had had five extra years with the man she loves, and that his children and grandchildren received similar gifts. We can take joy in the fact that dad is sitting at the throne of heaven, worshipping the Creator, not because of anything dad did on earth, but because the Creator took such joy in his children that he offered a way to spend eternity in paradise. And we can take joy in the fact that — as Mr. Woodlief said — there could be other miracles ahead, miracles that will give us no choice but to recognize that the world isn't as dark as we once thought. The joy and sorrow may fade, but they are etched into us such that they will never fully disappear.

So thus far, I’ve talked about the adventures he lived and the beauty he rescued. Now I want to finish with the battles he fought.

The most obvious was his battle against the thing that eventually took his life. When dad was first diagnosed with the tumor, he did everything the doctors suggested — surgery, radiation, chemotherapy. He dealt with the nausea and the exhaustion because he saw the larger goal.

And then, when the doctors said there was nothing else they could do and that he should say his good-byes within a year, he figuratively stuck out his tongue and gave them a raspberry. He and my mom explored every alternative treatment they could find, and participated in several.

Why did he do that? Because he still had life to live. He was 56 years old, and had every intention of living well beyond 57. He wanted to spend more time with the woman of his dreams. He had grandchildren to play with.

But perhaps just as importantly, he had an example to set. In the words of Winston Churchill: Never, never, never give up.

And it worked. Instead of succumbing to his one-year death sentence, dad lived another six and a half years.

For several years after the initial tumor, I kept track of dad’s surgery anniversary, keeping the deadline in my head, waiting for the message that the tumor had returned. I was so thrilled that my father had outlived the diagnosis, so thankful God had given us more time, that I even called dad to wish him a happy anniversary.

By the fourth or fifth anniversary, I thought about it in passing, but it did not hold the same weight as previous anniversaries. It was becoming old hat. And this year, I’m not sure I even thought about it. I suspect I began to take his survival as a given, instead of the miracle that it was.

That said, it never completely escaped my attention that his continued survival was a blessing, and nowhere was that more evident than the past year. Last Christmas, my parents were at our house. This summer, my parents joined all their children and grandchildren in Utah for a family vacation. My two favorite memories from those times were watching dad play with his grandkids in the swimming pool in Utah, and observing him sitting on the floor with my then-3-year-old daughter at Christmas to help her put together and play with a dollhouse.

I love the fact that my girls have known their Grandpa Tim, even if they don’t always retain that memory, because it wasn’t clear six years ago that he’d be around to see them. I love the fact that God saw fit to allow my mother more time with the man she loved. We were given extra time with the husband, father and grandfather who held the unsurvivable at bay, and he was given more opportunities to touch the lives of his family.

That’s not to say the last few years were easy for dad. The tumor did a number on his ability to remember everyday words, and the constant battle for memory took its toll on dad’s confidence and happiness. Dad always had a keen mind – he could remember dates and events seemingly without effort, he could handle any math problem you threw at him, and he knew how to fix things like he was a walking Home Depot manual. That was always a part of his identity, and when he lost the ability to draw on that part of his mind, his discouragement was tangible.

And yet, he still refused to give up. Until the tumor intervened once again, he was taking a community education course that helped adults with brain injuries learn how to maneuver through life with their new challenges.

Earlier this year, I attended the funeral of my wife’s grandmother, and I noticed that a common refrain was regret — regret over actions taken or not taken, words spoken or unspoken. If I have a regret, it is that he seemed to feel I was lacking compassion regarding his struggles, and I was not very good at expressing the contrary. As he dealt with the limitations imposed by the tumor, I think he came to consider himself old, whereas I looked at 62 as a long way from the finish line — I kept expecting him to act his age, and he kept thinking he was.

His perception saddens me, but I think what he misread as a lack of care was really a choice on my part to rejoice in his continued place in the dinner table of our lives, rather than dwelling on his limitations. I believe we have had much to rejoice in, much to celebrate, and the current pain does not lessen that.

That’s a long exploration of one significant battle, but there were other battles that centered around his desire to lead his family.

Dad was strict, but it was not until well into adulthood that I understood some of the value in that level of discipline. When I was in high school, some friends and I joined a local drum and bugle corps. The group practiced about 20 miles away, so those of us with vehicles took turns carpooling. One night as I was driving home from practice, one of the guys talked me into driving over a traffic cone that was a little too close to my lane of traffic. I hit the cone, we all laughed, and headed home.

Two days later, my dad summoned me to the garage: “Did you run over anything in the car recently?”

Sporting my best innocent look, I answered: “No, not that I know of. Why?”

Dad answered: “Because there’s a dent under the car.”

At this point I’m thinking to myself, “Lordy, does the man do an undercarriage inspection every time I go out?”

Apparently he didn’t believe me, because I was grounded from the car for a while. That became a source of amusement among one of my drum corps friends, who joked: “Kenny has to get more flying time before daddy will let him drive solo.”

That story is a good example of dad’s careful, meticulous nature. This sometimes drove people to the point of pulling their hair out, but I have gained some appreciation for it. When dad started his phone business, I don’t know that he had a tremendous knowledge of telephones, but he had a mind that could easily grasp those things, and he learned quickly. He gained a good reputation because he was thorough, and he could solve problems. I remember going on coin collection runs with him, and it was never a quick stop. He’d collect the coins, check to make sure everything was functional, clean the phone, clean the booth, clean the ground around the booth — heck, he’d clean everything within 10 feet of the booth.

But again, he was setting a great example for me. I don’t think I would have considered moving from employee to business owner in my own life had he not shown me the path. I don’t necessarily have the work ethic of my father, but through him my eyes were opened to the idea of business ownership, and the ethic of serving customers with quality work. That has had a huge impact on my family, as it has given me the ability to work at home, and thus the option of keeping kids out of daycare. (How successful and effective I am as a work-at-home dad is another question...)

Dad unquestionably wanted the best for his boys, and when I decided to study journalism at the University of Oregon, I think he wasn’t entirely sure about that decision. I don’t recall the specific substance of our conversation, but I vividly recall walking around the U of O campus with him at a summer orientation and having to defend my choice of majors. I suspect he knew a little bit about the salary of a journalist, and tried to steer me toward something that could better support a family, such as technical writing. I don’t know if I wore him down, or if he was satisfied with my answers, but he gave me his blessing that afternoon. He was teaching me the importance of a battle to fight, meticulously forcing me to defend my decision, and that blessing continues to be a special memory for me to this day.

Oh, and dad was right — journalism pay is pathetic. That’s why I don’t do it any more.

Well, by now I’ve gone on way too long, so I want to close with another recent piece by Tony Woodlief. In it, one of his sons is in despair over the imminent death of a goldfish. Mr. Woodlief writes:
Caleb came into the kitchen last weekend, sobbing and holding his fishbowl. "My goldfish is dying!" His mother took the bowl and brought it to the counter, where we watched the fish, whose name is Gold Star, alternately puff and roll to his side and float. . . .Caleb buried his head in my stomach and cried the hopeless, dejected sort of cry that we've all experienced, the kind where there's not even the strength to raise your hands to your face, there's just the limp-armed, mournful cry of someone learning that the world isn't as lovely as he thought.

The wife immediately went about trying to resuscitate the fish, which involved putting it in fresh water and telling it to breathe. "Caleb," I asked, "when did you feed him last?"

"I don't know!" There was a fresh round of sobbing. "He's going to die!" From where I stood, the fish was already more dead than alive. The wife took Caleb's hand and told him we should pray for the fish. Great, I thought. Teach him early that there are no miracles any more. So they prayed an earnest little prayer for Gold Star, and I stood there with my hands on Caleb's head, already angry with God for letting him down. When they were done, they looked up to see Gold Star staring at them through the clear glass of the bowl, with that perpetual look of fishy surprise on his face. "God made him better," said Caleb with confidence. Then he took Gold Star back to his room and fed the poor starved thing.

I'm sure it was the clean water that did the trick. Or perhaps all the wailing shocked the fish out of his coma. To Caleb, however, it was a miracle, and when he prays he expects God to move. I confess I don't ever expect miracles when I pray. I don't even expect things to go right. I expect disappointment at every turn. I expect disease. I expect an early death. I suppose one day Caleb's prayers won't be met with a miracle. By then maybe he'll understand what I'm still only learning, which is that the very fact that we have any life and love at all is itself a quiet miracle, one that we usually forget because we are so intensely focused on the one that never comes, the great audacious miracle that will finally set everything to rights. So my question for you this Monday morning -- and I hope you understand by now that my questions are always as much for myself as you -- is simply this: what will you do with your miracle today?
That’s the end of Mr. Woodlief’s story — except, I might add, that the goldfish died the next day. Nonetheless, his point remains, especially for me — what will we do with our miracle today? Despite what I consider an early death, dad’s life was an answer to prayer, and I believe he'd want us to live our lives not with a hopeless, dejected cry, but by remembering that our opportunity to live and love is a quiet miracle.

Suzanne Bonamici makes my choice easy

I got a mailer today for Suzanne Bonamici, the Democrat running for state house District 34. Over the course of roughly 20 endorsements in this mailer, Ms. Bonamici convinced me I should support her opponent, Joan Draper.

Let's run down the list, shall we?
  • Suzanne Bonamici is an attorney. The last thing we need is another attorney in Salem.
  • Suzanne Bonamici is endorsed by four members of the Beaverton School Board. This is the same school board that found it didn't need the second and third years of money from a three-year local option levy in year two, but only declined the last year of income. (Yes, that's better than taking all three, but this voter has a long memory.)
  • Suzanne Bonamici is endorsed by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) -- you know, the people who are paid by our tax dollars. Why would this union endorse her unless they expected her to perpetuate the Democratic Party's long-running spending spree for public programs?
  • Suzanne Bonamici is endorsed by the Oregon Education Association, the Oregon Nurses Association and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) -- all of them unions with a vested interest in extracting a high amount of spending from the legislature.
  • Suzanne Bonamici is endorsed by Planned Parenthood -- do I even need to explain why this is a problem? PP has a vested interest in a pro-abortion legislature, one that won't impose any limitations whatsoever on PP's income stream, regardless of whether the public wants such common-sense provisions as a ban on pulling babies out by their feet and sucking their brains out with a vacuum.
  • Suzanne Bonamici is endorsed by State School Superintendent Susan Castillo, who, I just saw, wants Al Gore to be the next president. What does that say about her judgment?
Now, Bonamici does have some interesting endorsements on the list, including the Oregon Business Association, the Oregon State Fire Fighters Council and the Credit Union Association of Oregon. After all, who could argue with business leaders, fire fighters or credit unions?

Well, in the case of the OBA, its executive director is Lynn Lundquist. Mr. Lundquist served in the state house of representatives, but if memory serves me right, he was not exactly known for his conservatism or for supporting his caucus despite the R next to his name.

The OSFFC turns out to be another union, which endorsed exactly one Republican in the state senate (Salem's Jackie Winters) and only six members of the GOP for the house -- not exactly bipartisan.

I find the CUAO endorsement interesting because Draper worked in the banking industry for years and I (having little knowledge about said industry) would think her background would make her a likely target of support by the CUAO. The information on the CUAO's endorsements is locked up behind a password, so I couldn't find out who else they endorsed, or why. But regardless, that hardly makes up for the long string of union hands stuck out in Bonamici's direction, expecting a handout upon election.

I'm voting for Joan Draper.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The award for the lamest endorsement

It goes to the Oregonian, for yesterday's completely stupid and baseless endorsement of Maria Cantwell over Mike McGavick for the U.S. Senate seat in Washington state.

What does it come down to? Just read the first and last paragraphs:
The Internet, recently explained Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens -- chairman of the committee that oversees it -- is not a dump truck; it's a series of tubes.
. . .
Washington state should re-elect Cantwell to a second term in the Senate. She not only knows that the Internet isn't a set of tubes, but she also has an idea what it connects to -- and where that connection could carry a high-tech state.
No, really. That's the Oregonian's argument. A senator from Alaska doesn't understand the internet, but Maria Cantwell knows a tube when she sees one.

If you read the rest of the editorial, and have a little bit of knowledge about the race, you'll know this endorsement is even sillier than it sounds at first blush.

Cantwell, the editorial says, has a high-tech background, and uses that knowledge in areas like health care and immigration. She works on energy issues, taking on the oil industry and pursuing new energy sources. She supported the Iraq War, but "has done some serious thinking" about that decision and the future of Iraq.

The editorial notes that McGavick ran Safeco Insurance, but doesn't note that he turned the company around, saving thousands of Washington jobs. It notes that he worked for two moderate Republican senators from Washington state, but doesn't talk about the fact that a moderate Republican would be more in line with much of Washington than Cantwell's reliable left-wing voting pattern (Cantwell has never seen a spending bill she doesn't like, and her vote against border security is, at best, curious considering her state has already seen an attempt by a terrorist to cross the border with evil intent). It rejects McGavick because he had "some trouble" explaining his position on Social Security, as if that's a more important issue for the Northwest than border security.

The kicker, however, is this line:
[McGavick] has a good point in calling for less-poisonous partisan politics -- although unfortunately this Senate campaign hasn't reflected it.
That's true, but what's left out of that statement is that much of the poison has come at Mr. McGavick's expense.

The editorial concludes: "Her first term argues strongly for giving her a second one." If this editorial is any indication, then no, it doesn't.

The 'Duh!' Quote of the Day

Today's Oregonian features several articles sharing "horror stories" about women who had abortions as teenagers. The articles seem to be printed as an attempt to show why Ballot Measure 43 -- which would require parental notification before a minor girl could get an abortion -- would be a bad idea.

Many of the "horror stories" seem to ignore the fact that Measure 43's judicial bypass procedure would rectify the horrors. Particularly annoying was this misleading story, which featured A) a girl from another state; B) a father who was clearly abusive physically and emotionally; and C) a girl who was already an adult when she had her abortion, so M43 wouldn't apply. If this girl was a minor in Oregon, she could have sought the judicial bypass to avoid her abusive home situation. So could the girl who was impregnated by her abusive father. So would the girl with an abusive stepfather and another man living in a backyard trailer who acted out scenes from his porn videos with her and sisters.

And if there's some concern that a teen wouldn't reveal her abuse if M43 were in place, who does that implicate? Only one group: Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. If such groups are giving an abortion and either know about the abuse and don't report it, or don't ask about the circumstances surrounding an underage pregnancy, they are complicit in the abuse and deserve every lawsuit and state regulation that might come their way.

But among the many stories in this Oregonian series, there was one (seemingly innocuous) quote that stood out for me. It was from Sophia Sanders, a 17-year-old student at Portland's Madison High School:
The people who are going to be affected really won't be able to vote at all.
Sophia is right, to a point. The girls who would be affected by this measure won't be able to vote on it. However, M43 opponents must assume that the state's parents are innocent (or disinterested) bystanders, while the truth is that a daughter's abortion affects them just like it would any difficulty suffered by their child.

But look again at Sophia's point: the people who are going to be affected really won't be able to vote at all. There's a reason for that. Society does not trust minor children to make intelligent, reasoned, responsible choices with their vote until they are 18. In fact, society doesn't trust minor children to make a variety of choices before that age. Those choices are properly made by adults.

If society doesn't allow minors to vote because they often lack the necessary cognitive reasoning skills, what makes us think they can make a decision about an abortion without the involvement of the adults who are charged with guiding them toward responsible adulthood?

One other thing: I thought Reporter Michelle Cole's bias was obvious in the stories, as she noted that a supporter of M43 wears a "cross on a delicate chain" (a common attempt to suggest abortion opponents are using only religious arguments, while those attempts continuously ignore scientific arguments) while an opponent -- who was raped and then "forced to deal with an angry, abusive mother and shame from her mother's friends from church" -- is depicted in tears for not having the abortion and giving birth to a birth-defected child who she could visit in the hospital only by hitchhiking. I'm surprised it didn't say she had to walk in the snow, uphill, both ways.

Again, the subtle slam at people of faith, as if all such people are angry, abusive and intent on humiliation. Oh, and the latter pregnancy happened in 1972, prior to the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion, so her story -- while heartbreaking -- is largely irrelevant.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Desperate ad

I just saw an ad for David Edwards, the Democrat running for House District 30, that came across to me as lame and desperate.

In it, he shows a picture of Republican opponent Everett Curry pasted next to a picture of the president, and quotes Curry as claiming his favorite Republican is George W. Bush. Not once. Not twice. At least three times in 30 seconds.

You know George W. Bush, don't you? He's the president of the United States. He's not running for president again. He has nothing to do with the Oregon house of representatives. But he's highly unpopular, especially among the "progressive" crowd, so he makes a nice distraction for people in HD 30 who are fed up with (or never liked) the president's policies.

It throws in a jab that Curry's campaign is financed by big business interests. It doesn't mention anything about Edwards' ideas, why Edwards would make a better choice, or even what Curry might do that makes him a poor choice.

It's tarnishment by virtue of association.

Of course, Edwards insists he would never tarnish his opponent based on association.

Nonetheless, it's desperate.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Quote of the Day from Instapundit

aka Glenn Reynolds, who lives in Tennessee:
As I mentioned before, the Republicans don't really deserve my vote -- though as [GOP Senate candidate] Bob Corker hasn't been in Washington that's not really his fault -- but nonetheless the Democrats have blown it again. Not long ago I was thinking that a Democratic majority in Congress wouldn't be so bad; but the sexual McCarthyism from the pro-outing crowd, coupled with the Dems' steadfast refusal to offer anything useful on national security, has convinced me that they just don't deserve a victory with those tactics. That's not [Democrat Senate Candidate Harold] Ford's fault, either, really. But I just don't think the Democrats are ready for a majority right now. We'll see how many other voters agree.


If you think Harry Reid would be a less-than-stellar Senate Majority Leader, just imagine what Dick Durbin would be like.

Very funny ads

I followed a link from Hugh Hewitt's website and found this site that features funny TV ads from around the world. Be warned -- some of the ads from other countries are very risque, rated R material. But this one made me laugh. And this one. And this one.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

More on the Willamette Week endorsements

As I noted earlier today, WW endorsed Jack Roberts for the Oregon Supreme Court. The paper's list of endorsements also included this amusing and surprising endorsement for Tom Cox in the race for a Metro councilor:
Cox is a former Libertarian and onetime candidate for governor who has undergone a bit of a makeover. He's now a Republican and running for a position on Metro. Cox is glib and funny and a bit of a flamethrower. He has no problem taking controversial positions (he likes to talk about Metro's bias against cars and businesses), and the idea of him on the same governmental body as Robert Liberty (a current council member whose liberal bona fides are unimpeachable) strikes us as more fun than a PlayStation 3.

But we think Cox would offer Metro more than just headlines. The agency needs some perspective, and Cox would provide that. He's willing to ask tough questions, would take a hard look at the budget and would speak for local governments in a way that's often overlooked at Metro. His work with the City Club of Portland shows that he can cooperate effectively with political opposites.
"The agency needs some perspective." How many other governmental agencies in Oregon could we say that about?

But as I re-read the endorsements, I realized something -- the paper only endorsed conservatives in races where 1) they were so far ahead of the opposition that there was no point in bothering with the Democrat (Larry George in Senate District 13, where Republicans hold a 14-point registration advantage); 2) the Democrat was left wanting (Bruce Starr in SD 15, where the R advantage is less than 2 percent, but Starr's opponent is "so totally underwhelming that he makes Starr shine"); or 3) the Republican's combination of experience and willingness to oppose his caucus made him palatable (John Lim in House District 50, where Democrats have a 2.6 percent lead, but Lim "doesn't toe the GOP party line" and his opponent "has never held elected office, and her inexperience shows").

That's three people with an R next to their names, plus two more conservative candidates in non-partisan races.

Here's what I took from that list: Willamette Week was willing to throw a bone to conservatives in arenas where "progressives" already dominate the discussion with an insurmountable advantage (supreme court and Metro). However, it wasn't about to risk losing control of the state senate or hurt the potential to gain control of the house, even if those entities might benefit from a new "perspective" -- even in districts with a distinct Republican advantage. The WW editorial board seemed to say, "We wish it so, we wish it so, we wish it so."

This was particularly amusing in HD 26, which holds a 14-point Republican advantage for GOP incumbent Jerry Krummel, who won reelection to a fourth term in 2004 by more than 20 points.

Other "wishing doesn't make it so" endorsements:
  • Chuck Riley in HD 29 -- Democrats hold a 224-voter margin in the district, but Riley won his first term in 2004 when he beat incumbent Mary Gallegos by less than 1,200 votes on the second try, thanks to 1,900 votes that went to Libertarian Tom Cox. (Cox has since seen the error of his ways and re-registered as a Republican before filing for the Metro race.) Riley is taking on Cornelius Mayor Terry Rilling;
  • Larry Galizio in HD 35 -- Voter registration in this district is split exactly evenly -- 12,405 voters in each party. Galizio beat Suzanne Gallagher by 2.8 percent for his first term in '04, and will take on Shirley Parsons this year. Parsons blew it (in my mind) by not showing up for an endorsement interview with WW, but it's not unreasonable to think that the people she wants to reach wouldn't care about a WW endorsement anyway;
  • Bev Backa in HD 37 -- Republicans hold a 7-point registration edge, and the seat is held by Scott Bruun, who won his first election in 2004 when he beat Jim Morton by 8 points;
  • Mike Caudle in HD 39 -- seeing Caudle knock off Majority Leader Wayne Scott would be almost as good as toppling House Speaker Karen Minnis, but this is doubtful. Republicans hold a fairly small (2.6 percent) edge in registration, but Scott beat Doug Neeley by 16 points for his second term in '04 (he squeaked out a 3-point win over Martha Schrader in '02);
  • Ryan Olds in HD 51 -- this is one of the biggest laughers in the list, and it comes down to the fact that WW doesn't like Flores' conservative politics. In fact, they hate her so much that they give the nod to a 23-year-old kid whose claim to fame is in-depth knowledge of baseball trivia and the ability to make a fart sound with his hand in his armpit. "Olds spent one term as a legislative intern and, unless he kills somebody, cannot do worse than Flores," they said. Republicans hold an edge similar to Scott's district, but Flores has won her two elections by 7 points (vs. Kathryn Firestone in '04) and 18 points (vs. Jan Lee in '02).
I've heard some nice things about David Edwards in HD 30 (where the GOP leads by 3.5 points), but I view his endorsement as essentially a good opportunity for WW to slam the rival Oregonian for supposedly getting " 'had and played' by the right" in the kerfuffle over Republican Everett Curry's religion.

And, as noted earlier by Dare at NWR, they made a laughable case for Ted Kulongoski's reelection (ellipses and emphasis mine):
After a productive first two years, during which the former labor lawyer trimmed public-employee benefits, froze wages and helped push a major transportation package, the guv went comatose. That Kulongoski did so little the past two years is not what troubles us. It's that he did so little to excite Oregonians.
. . .
Yes, we're disappointed in Kulongoski, mostly because he has the ability to do far better: He's smart and likable, and after 30 years as a legislator, senior bureaucrat, attorney general and Supreme Court justice, he has vast experience and contacts to draw upon should he desire to tackle taxes, education and health care.

We know Kulongoski has had health issues. We know the Neil Goldschmidt scandal knocked the wind out of him and removed his mentor from the political stage. But we also know that once upon a time Kulongoski was more than a well-intentioned pol. He was a gutsy public servant who seemed to embrace Sartre's comment that 'It is only in our decisions that we are important.' Our support for the governor this election is based on a belief (maybe more of a wish) that he'll again grasp the passion he once had for service and be willing to say no, to strong-arm intransigent legislators, to fire ineffective staff, to attack problems instead of hiding in his office, and to see his job as the extraordinary opportunity it is, rather than a nice 'lifetime achievement award' cap to his résumé.
In other words, we know he's a loser, but even a loser is better than a Republican. Which seems to be the philosophy they employed on more than one occasion.

Thursday shocker: I agree with Willamette Week!

From this week's issue, which lists its endorsements, we have the surprise of the week: a completely reasonable and reasoned endorsement of Jack Roberts for the state supreme court. Why? Because regardless of gender balance, the court already has plenty of people like Virginia Linder, and no one who provides the different perspective that Roberts would add (all emphasis and ellipses mine):
The rap on Roberts, besides his chromosomal challenge, is that the former business lawyer hasn't been an active member of the bar for more than a decade. That shortcoming is obviously worth noting, but we believe Roberts' brainpower and political acumen are more important.
. . .
. . . Without showing disrespect to Linder's impressive pedigree, the Supreme Court already has three justices who spent significant portions of their careers in the attorney general's office, as Linder did. And it has three justices who came from the Court of Appeals, where Linder works now.

Ultimately, the Supreme Court's role is to select those cases for review that justices believe will have the broadest impact. Such work requires a sharp intellect and an understanding of how law affects everyday citizens. The court is stocked with justices who have backgrounds similar to Linder's; it has nobody remotely like Roberts.
And adding Roberts to the court would be a good first step in breaking the ideological stranglehold on the state's highest court.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

If you think our government is wasteful...

...just check out this story in London's Daily Telegraph.

In September 2005, a planning commission in England was hearing testimony on an application to put a mobile home on a farm. During the debate, someone in the room imitated the sound of a sheep, and this so angered one of the councilors that he reported the incident to a standards board, which sent it back to the area council for investigation.

A year later, the council is preparing to issue a 300-page report on the incident, and has spent £10,000 (more than $18,000 US) in the process. (A council spokesman denies the report is 300 pages, but calls it "substantial.") The problem is that the prime "suspect" isn't any longer on the council, so there is nothing the council could do as punishment were it to prove the "crime."

Here's the response of the main "suspect," former Deputy Mayor Denis O'Flynn:
This has been an extremely expensive example of the worst kind of council bureaucracy. The fact that this investigation has cost so much time and money is the height of stupidity.
To say the least. Baaa.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Joke of the Day

Aside from questionable theology, I know there's a parable here, but I'm too tired to explore it. Let me know what you see.


While walking down the street one day, a U.S. senator is tragically hit by a truck and dies. His soul arrives in heaven and is met by St. Peter at the entrance.

"Welcome to heaven," says St. Peter. "Before you settle in, it seems there is a problem. We seldom see a high official around these parts, you see, so we're not sure what to do with you."

"No problem, just let me in," says the senator.

"Well, I'd like to, but I have orders from higher up. What we'll do is have you spend one day in hell and one in heaven. Then you can choose where to spend eternity."

"Really, I've made up my mind. I want to be in heaven," says the senator.

"I'm sorry, but we have our rules."

And with that, St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell.

The doors open and he finds himself in the middle of a green golf course. In the distance is a clubhouse and standing in front of it are all his friends and other politicians who had worked with him. Everyone is very happy and in evening dress. They run to greet him, shake his hand, and reminisce about the good times they had while getting rich at the expense of the people. They play a friendly game of golf and then dine on lobster, caviar and champagne.

Also present is the devil, who really is a very friendly guy who has a good time dancing and telling jokes. They are having such a good time that before he realizes it, it is time to go. Everyone gives him a hearty farewell and waves while the elevator rises.

The elevator goes up, up, up and the door reopens on heaven, where St. Peter is waiting for him. "Now it's time to visit heaven."

So, 24 hours pass with the senator joining a group of contented souls moving from cloud to cloud, playing the harp and singing. They have a good time and, before he realizes it, the 24 hours have gone by, and St. Peter returns.

"Well, then, you've spent a day in hell and another in heaven. Now choose your eternity."

The senator reflects for a minute, then he answers: "Well, I would never have said it before, I mean heaven has been delightful, but I think I would be better off in hell."

So St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell.

The doors of the elevator open and he's in the middle of a barren land covered with waste and garbage. He sees all his friends, dressed in rags, picking up the trash and putting it in black bags as more trash falls from above.

The devil comes over to him and puts his arm around his shoulder.

"I don't understand," stammers the senator. "Yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and clubhouse, and we ate lobster and caviar, drank champagne, and danced and had a
great time. Now there's just a wasteland full of garbage and my friends look miserable. What happened?"

The devil looks at him, smiles and says, "Yesterday, we were campaigning . . .

"Today you voted."

Spelling out the stakes in November

Gullyborg (from Resistance is Futile) is a man of many talents. We learn today that one of these talents is nuclear weapons expert, as Gully explains: 1) Why North Korea did indeed set off a nuclear explosion; 2) Why that should be of particular concern to the Northwest United States; and 3) How this episode should affect our decisions in the November election.

Be sure to read the comments to understand why Gully's in a position to make these statements, but here's the key info:
Given the data that we have right now, I think we can safely conclude that a nuclear explosion did take place, and the North Koreans are capable of immediately going into production of bombs comparable to the Hiroshima bomb. And once they are able to produce devices which can consistently yield 20 kT or more - and it seems they aren't far off - they are literally only a tritium source away from producing hydrogen bombs and increasing the yields another order of magnitude into true absolute city-killing range.

This is a big, big deal.

And considering that Oregon has a useless Governor who fails to understand what Homeland Security really means, considering that Portland has an obstructionist Mayor who undermines Homeland Security by every means possible, and considering that the Port of Portland is one of the most important shipping centers in the world, we should all be very, very afraid of what might happen. It would be very, very easy for Kim Jung Il to put a nuke on a boat and sail it right up the Columbia. And by the nature of nuclear explosions, there wouldn't be much in the way of forensic evidence left to figure out what went wrong.

Keep that in mind when marking up your ballot, and choosing between people like democrat and stalwart anti-Bush obstructionist Peter DeFazio, and Republican and veteran counter-terrorism expert Jim Feldkamp.
Keep that in mind when choosing your governor. Remember that David Wu and Darlene Hooley have, at best, mixed bags in their national security voting. Washington State voters should give a long, hard look at Maria Cantwell's record vs. Mike McGavick's stances. (Hint: Cantwell voted against paying National Guard members who were deployed more than six months; and in favor of cutting billions of dollars from defense appropriation bills to support our troops overseas.)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Something I don't quite understand

In today's Oregonian, the editorial staff has revoked its endorsement of Democrat David Edwards for House District 30, and offered it instead to Republican Everett Curry. This change of direction comes due to what the paper calls a "dirty trick," and that's a good way to describe it.

Two months ago, Edwards' campaign manager sent an email to Curry (an ordained minister in the American Baptist Church) pretending to be an independent voter, and asking Curry about his theology. When Curry offered to meet over coffee, this "independent voter" declined, but the signature on his email ("Seth Prickett, Campaign Manager, Friends of David Edwards") gave him away.

Prickett immediately apologized "for attempting to deceive" Curry, and told Edwards about his misdeed. Edwards apparently declined to fire Prickett only because Curry was willing to forgive and move on.

One could question Edwards' judgment in keeping Prickett on board, regardless of Curry's pardon, but here's the main thing I don't get: if you just read today's editorial, you would think nothing more has happened for the last two months. You would think the O was revoking its endorsement based solely on Prickett's deception.

But if you read David Reinhard's Sunday column, you'd know that Curry's mercy -- and his silence -- was offered in return for an agreement that no similar incidents occurred in the future. According to the column, however, "the campaign shenanigans continued."

What are those shenanigans? Reinhard points to two things: 1) Some District 30 voters recently received a mystical phone push-poll that asked if their opinion about Curry would change if they learned of Curry's religious background; and 2) FuturePAC, the House Democratic caucus, recently sent out a mailer that pointedly announced Curry's Baptist affiliation.

If Edwards' campaign was involved in either incident, such an accusation of shenanigans is appropriate (as is the endorsement revocation). Do Reinhard or Curry have evidence that Edwards' campaign was involved in those, or did something similar? Since Edwards denies any involvement, is this just an opportunity to tarnish his reputation?

Don't get me wrong -- I hinted at this above, but now I'll spell it out: I think Edwards should have canned Prickett on the spot. It's admirable that Curry was so willing to forgive, but this was an opportunity for Edwards to demonstrate the line of acceptable conduct in his campaign. He didn't. Or maybe he decided Prickett hadn't crossed that line. (Either way, it's an important glimpse into what Edwards feels is important.)

Instead, this incident -- combined with the push-poll and the Democratic Party mailer -- comes across as a demonstration of one of the Democrats' greatest shortcomings: an absolute disdain, disrespect and disregard for someone they perceive as holding conservative Christian beliefs. Nowhere was this more evident than in Reinhard's conversation with State Rep. Dave Hunt, a Democrat from HD40 in Milwaukie. Here's how Reinhard recounted it (emphasis mine):
After [a conversation with Curry], I made two calls. One was to Democratic state Rep. Dave Hunt. I called him because Curry mentioned that Hunt was also an American Baptist Church member. I wanted to confirm this and ask his opinion. He argued that the Edwards' campaign and the House Democratic caucus were doing nothing wrong in making an issue of Curry's religion. After that, Hunt called my boss to complain.
According to the things I've read, Curry hasn't said a thing about his religion throughout the campaign. The only mention on his website is that he earned his master's and doctorate degrees from California seminaries; was involved in starting a law enforcement chaplaincy; and was a board member for American Baptist Homes of the West, which provides low-income housing for the elderly.

Yet Hunt saw nothing wrong with making an issue of it and attempting to link Curry to the "Religious Right"? And then he called the Oregonian to complain about it? Smear and whine, you might call it.

Those things are why it's not a stretch to wonder if the Edwards' campaign's "dirty tricks" extend beyond a deceptive August e-mail. And even if they don't, Edwards' decision not to fire Prickett might be enough justification for today's editorial. But there's enough disconnect between Reinhard's column and the editorial staff's endorsement revocation for me to wonder if we're getting the whole story.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

What's wrong with this picture?

Multnomah County, by admission of its presiding judge, has had multiple opportunities to acquire a specific downtown property for construction of a new county courthouse.

It didn't.

And now, after the property (located on Main Street between First and Second Streets) has been sold to a developer for construction of a 16-story office building, with the developer seeking tenants so it can start construction in 2007, the County Commission is trying to figure out how to change history, to cut in line and steal the property before construction begins.

And if the developer won't sell, trade or deal, the commission will consider condemnation. According to Doug Butler, the county's facilities director and leader of a study on potential downtown locations:
The board said to me, "This is our No. 1 site. Do everything humanly possible to acquire it. If you can't get it, come back to us, and we'll decide whether to condemn it."
So in other words, the board knows it screwed up, and the public (or in this case, the developer) be damned as it rectifies that error.

Or, it could spend more than $10 million in taxpayer money to move the westbound offramp from the Hawthorne Bridge, so that land could be available for development. After the way the tram costs exploded, does anyone believe that would be the final pricetag?

And even if the land is available for private development, is this a good use of public money?
Keep in mind that the office building proposed for the Main Street parcel would, according to the developer, lead to an additional $1 million in annual property tax revenue. Thus, it would take more than a decade to pay for itself.

But hey, it's well established that short of extreme idiocy, the commission has no accountability. Why would this be any different?

Monday, October 02, 2006

An important addition to the Saxton blogroll

If I were making a list of people I expected to vote for Ron Saxton, I would not have put Gullyborg, the proprietor of Resistance is Futile, at the top of the list. Before a new job caused him to go mute on many political issues, he was voicing serious (and legitimate) concerns about Saxton, both before and after the primary election.

So I was pleasantly surprised tonight when I did some web cruising and found his name at the top of the Saxton for Governor blogroll. I think it's important to read what he has to say, because Gully is not, if you'll pardon the play on words, a Gullible Gullyborg.

A snippet (all emphases mine):
This was not an easy decision for me to make. I have had concerns about Saxton from the beginning of the primary season. But Saxton's choice to stick with the [immigration] message that won the primary, instead of undercutting the base to reach for the mythical "moderate swing voters" in the final weeks of the election, puts my mind at ease. Saxton must know now that taking a hard stance on immigration won him the primary, and that following through on his promises is the key both to winning the general election and staying in office once elected. It also shows me that Saxton is still listening to conservatives, and that indicates he will be looking to conservatives when it comes time to appoint new state agency heads. This is critical, because the victory of the Term Limits measure will free up a number of incumbent Republicans from their jobs in the Legislative Assembly. If Saxton is, at this critical point in the campaign, sticking with the base rather than pandering to the middle, he will, I am certain, reward the base once in office. That means he will put conservatives into important positions within the Executive Branch.

If he doesn't, he will be a one-term Governor.

And it is the appointment of conservatives, even more than the immigration issue, that matters to me. Fighting illegal immigration is important, but it is only one issue. Conservatives in high places across the administration will shape many issues . . .
. . .
Those who have been reading know that my joining in with the Saxton supporters is a big deal for me. But I do so confident that Saxton will be a huge improvement over our sitting governor. I can now say without hesitation that my earlier worries have proved unfounded.
Well said.