Upper Left Coast

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

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Quick thoughts on potential presidents

I know, it's still 706 days until the next president is elected, but there are a couple of potential GOP candidates I've been thinking about recently:
  1. Newt Gingrich: the former speaker of the House may be an impressive policy wonk, good leader and inspiring speaker. His role in the 1994 Republican takeover cannot be ignored. But I pray to God that he doesn't run. From his involvement in the Clinton impeachment, to the many ethics issues, to the circumstances surrounding his two divorces (serving divorce papers on his hospitalized first wife, ending the second marriage due to infidelity), his positives would be hard-pressed to overtake his negatives. He'd probably be a good addition to any White House, but not as the occupant.
  2. Mitt Romney: A lot could change, but I should note that at this point, Romney is my favored candidate. That said, he's done a couple of things recently that leave me a bit dismayed, the evidence of which can be found in the press release archive of Romney's Commonwealth PAC website:
  • November 29, 2006 - Two top economists and President Bush’s tax cut architects have agreed to join Governor Mitt Romney’s Commonwealth PAC the organization announced today. Glenn Hubbard and Greg Mankiw will act as co-chairs of the PAC’s Economic Advisory Council. Additionally, Cesar Conda has agreed to be a Senior Economic Advisor for the PAC . . . In 2001, Hubbard was appointed Chairman of President Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) . . . Greg Mankiw followed Hubbard as the Chairman of the CEA from 2003 to 2005 . . . Most recently, Conda headed the domestic policy staff in the Office of the Vice President as Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief advisor on domestic and economic policy issues.
  • November 27, 2006 - Governor Mitt Romney’s Commonwealth PAC today announced that long-time South Carolina political strategist J. Warren Tompkins, III has joined the PAC in a Senior Advisor for the Southeast region . . . In 2004, Tompkins was the Atlantic Region Chair for the Bush-Cheney ’04 campaign. [And one other thing the press release doesn't note: Tompkins was a senior Bush strategist in 2000, when someone allegedly smeared John McCain as an adulterer, and McCain's camp suspected the Bush campaign.]
  • October 26, 2006 – Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s Commonwealth PAC today announced Ann Woods Herberger is joining the PAC team as a National Finance Advisor . . . Herberger started the Woods Herberger Group whose clients included both Bush-Cheney presidential campaigns in Florida . . .
    Five people who have been deeply involved in the current administration. And that's just in the last month! Couldn't Romney find people without such strong ties to George W. Bush? Or is it the nature of the beast that the strongest people work with the current White House occupant, regardless of who that is?

    Either way, I wish Romney would make his own mark instead of bringing in a group of Bushies.

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    Tuesday, November 28, 2006

    From the mouths of babes, part 2

    As my 4-year-old daughter and I were watching City Slickers this morning (there's a lot more cursing than I remembered, but hopefully it all went over her head), we got to a scene where Curly is lighting up a cigarette. My daughter watched him suck in the first breath of smoke, and said:
    He's gonna die.
    Then, after about a five-second pause, she added, almost under her breath:
    Why people think those are cool...
    I couldn't see her face, but I wouldn't be surprised if she shook her head as she made that last comment.

    From the mouths of babes, part 1

    From my 4-year-old daughter, yesterday:
    How come dads are stronger and moms are smarter?
    My wife insists she's said nothing of the kind to our girl. I suspect otherwise . . .

    Monday, November 27, 2006

    Quote of the Day: Mark Steyn on our future

    In yesterday's Chicago Sun-Times, Mark Steyn noted that the future of the free world is leaning over the precipice of a Muslim society that is willing to blow up 64-year-old grandmothers in the name of jihad. Who is helping tip the free world in that direction? Symbolically, Scarlett Johansson (ellipses mine):
    Like every other sad middle-aged loser guy, I fell in love with Scarlett's fetchingly pert bottom in the opening of "Lost In Translation"...In a bit of light Bush-bashing the other day, she attacked the president for his opposition to "sex education." If he had his way, she said, "every woman would have six children and we wouldn't be able to have abortions." Whereas Scarlett is so "socially aware" (as she puts it) she gets tested for HIV twice a year.

    Well, yes. If "sex education" is about knowing which concrete condom is less likely to disintegrate during the livelier forms of penetrative intercourse, then getting an AIDS test every few months may well be a sign that you're a Ph.D. (Doctor of Phenomenal horniness). But, if "sex education" means an understanding of sexuality as anything other than an act of transient self-expression, then Scarlett is talking through that famously cute butt.
    Others skewered by Steyn's pen, er, keyboard, include the new Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori. In an interview with the New York Times, Schori said that Episcopalians "tend to be better educated and tend to reproduce at lower rates than other denominations," because the denomination encourages its members "to pay attention to the stewardship of the earth and not use more than their portion."

    Which is why the views of Fatma An-Najar, the aforementioned suicide-bomber grandma, are likely to gain a firmer hold than those of Schori and Johansson.

    Saturday, November 25, 2006

    Oregon State 30, Oregon 28

    I always wanted to be a kicker. I wonder if I have any eligibility left?

    Congrats, Beavs. You have a helluva kicker, and we, obviously, have hell for a kicker. (Photo by Thomas Patterson of the Salem Statesman Journal)

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    Thursday, November 23, 2006

    Every man dies. Not every man really lives.

    That's one of Steve Duin's Top 10 Lines from the movie Braveheart. I particularly liked No. 8, spoken by William Wallace:
    You're so concerned with squabbling for the scraps from Longshanks' table that you've missed your God-given right to something better. There's a difference between us: You think the people of this country exist to provide you with position. I think your position exists to provide these people with freedom. And I go to make sure that they have it.
    I also laughed at No. 4 just because it's not often you see the F-word (be it ever so misspelled to emulate the Scottish dialect) in a family newspaper's website.



    Wednesday, November 22, 2006

    Quote of the Day: on Robert Gates

    During Hugh Hewitt's interview yesterday with Victor Davis Hanson, Hewitt asked Hanson if, considering the new congressional makeup, the president had the ability to continue fighting the war. Hanson answered:
    I think he does, but let's be candid, Hugh. The problem right now isn't...it may be the left wing Congress, but he's got another problem, and that is he's bringing in Robert Gates, and he's bringing in the Baker realism, and that doesn't have a good record. That's the people who said don't talk to Yeltsin. Let's stick with Gorbachev. Let's not go to Baghdad. Let the Shia and Kurds die. Let's arm the Islamisists to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan and then leave. It's not a good record. It's short-term expediency at the expense of long-term morality. And it's not in the interest of the United States to do that, to cut a deal with these countries.
    I don't know enough about Robert Gates to make a judgment on Hanson's assessment, but I thought his comment about "short-term expediency at the expense of long-term morality" was
    interesting considering that seems to be the left's modus operandi in all things war-related.

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    Wednesday, November 15, 2006

    I'm an angry Republican

    No, that's not a redundancy. But a couple of things have ticked me off today.

    Topping the list, Senate Republicans today elected Trent Lott for minority whip. You remember Mr. Lott, don't you? He's the one who sang the praises of segregationist Strom Thurmond, and the resulting firestorm of criticism led to his resignation as Majority Leader in 2002.

    That was not even four years ago! And now the Republicans -- who lost what was considered a safe Senate majority -- are electing him to leadership? Gee, can we bring in David Duke as an advisor?

    Is the Republican Party really that tone-deaf? As Jim Geraghty said today, "Aw, hell, the GOP can just concede 2008 now."

    The other issue raising my blood pressure a few points: In a story in today's New York Observer, New York's Chuck Schumer assumes the role of God. Here are the first three paragraphs:
    More than the inability to influence Iraq policy or the President’s tax cuts, Chuck Schumer says that the single greatest failure of the Democrats as an opposition party was allowing Samuel Alito to join the Supreme Court.

    “Judges are the most important,” said Mr. Schumer, who orchestrated the implausible Democratic takeover of the Senate last week. “One more justice would have made it a 5-4 conservative, hard-right majority for a long time. That won’t happen.”

    From now on, all the President’s judicial appointments will need to meet the requirements of Mr. Schumer, the Park Slope power broker who has happily accepted the mantle of chief architect for the Democrats’ effort to build a majority for the 2008 elections and beyond.
    What incredible arrogance! Apparently, the Democrats slipped a Constitutional amendment past the American people when we weren't looking; it now reads that the president will appoint judges "by and with the Advice and Consent of Chuck Schumer."

    I will be especially curious to see two things: 1) How will a Democratic Senate majority affect the president's judicial nominations, especially if there's a Supreme Court vacancy; and 2) Can the Democrats keep all 51 senators in line to vote against said nominations?

    If the answer to the latter is yes, that means the Democrats don't have to filibuster, and the Republicans' cries about how Democrats won't allow an up-or-down vote are pointless. Even the cries about deference to the president -- how Ruth Bader Ginsburg was confirmed 96-3 because the Republicans chose to play ball instead of resorting to a filibuster -- will be ignored.

    However, if even one Democratic senator (and that includes Joe Lieberman) bails on the caucus, they'll have to filibuster. The GOP hasn't shown the cajónes to make such obstruction a major issue, but they'd better learn how if they hope to regain the majority.

    Tuesday, November 14, 2006

    Election 2006 myths

    National Review Editor Rich Lowry runs 'em down in today's column. Among the standard fare that doesn't hold water in his book:
    • Republican losses were in keeping with typical setbacks for a party holding the White House in the sixth year of a presidency. Gerrymandered districts have made this a much smaller factor in the last 20 years -- Reagan lost five seats in 1986, Clinton gained a few seats in '98 (even though he got smashed in '94) -- so for Democrats to win 29 seats despite the advantages of incumbency is "a big deal."
    • The conservative base, discouraged by the GOP’s doctrinal impurity, didn’t show up at the polls. In 2004, conservatives were 34 percent of the electorate and liberals 21 percent, and this year's numbers were very similar. "The GOP didn’t lose the election with its base, but with independents, who broke against them 57 percent to 39 percent," Lowry said.
    • The GOP was too socially conservative for voters. Voters continue to vote for socially conservative issues such as gay marriage bans, even in greater numbers than they gave to Republican candidates. The key for Democrats, Lowry said, was that they "went out of their way not to antagonize social-conservative voters this year."
    • The election was a great victory for conservative and moderate Democrats. There were a few (e.g. Heath Schuler of North Carolina) but this year's class of Democrats is still overwhelmingly liberal. "[O]nly about five of the 29 Democratic winners in the House can be considered social conservatives," Lowry said. "They will be lonely."
    • President Bush now must give up on the Iraq War. Less than one-third of voters favor withdrawal, and a New York Times poll found that 55 percent of the public favors sending more troops to Iraq. It's an unpopular war, yes, but the election was hardly a referendum on withdrawal.
    Lowry does a poor job of trying to explain away another myth -- Republicans lost because they weren’t fiscally conservative enough -- by asking what one thing they could have done to display fiscal discipline. But the issue wasn't one vote -- as this graph at Oregon Catalyst shows, it was a series of decisions over the last six years that gave Republicans pause about Congress.

    Sunday, November 12, 2006

    The Oregon governor's race by county

    For what it's worth, here's Kevin Mannix vs. Ted Kulongoski in 2002:

    and here's Ron Saxton vs. Kulongoski this year.

    The darker the color, the more heavily the vote went to the winner. Thus in '06, Kulongoski won Multnomah County with 68.4 percent of the vote, while he won Marion County with 46.6 percent; Saxton won Harney County with 72.7 percent, but took Polk County with just 46.3 percent.

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    Saturday, November 11, 2006

    A pointless thought on Ted Kulongoski

    In Tuesday's election, the governor won Tillamook County by 600 votes. In light of the governor's comments regarding the flooding, do you think there are 301 voters in Tillamook County who might regret their vote?

    According to today's numbers at the Secretary of State's website, he won the state by 102,217 votes; do you think there might be 51,109 voters statewide who might think twice about voting for a man who criticized the media for over-hyping a flood that destroyed homes, shut down businesses and cost a life? Who dismissed home losses as the "price to be paid" for a view?

    (On the state-wide question, probably not -- if Democrats are willing to ignore legitimate questions that the governor knew about Neil Goldschmidt's sexual escapades with a teenage girl, they're certainly not going to vote against him for dissing a homeowner picking pieces of his house out of the turf.)

    By the way, the weather must have been fairly bad, because he said it was too dangerous for him to take a helicopter tour. Too bad he wasn't willing to reveal the true Ted Kulongoski until the day after the election...

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    Friday, November 10, 2006

    It's a great time to be a Democrat!

    Except for the fact that I'm not one.

    Others have spoken about the election in a more timely manner, but I don't hear enough dealing with reality. Face it, Republican friends -- we got our hind-ends handed to us this week. I like to read and listen to Hugh Hewitt, and agree with him much of the time; but, I find that as elections draw near he tends to see GOP victories where there is no victory, and he predicts Democrat defeats where there is no hope.

    Tuesday night -- even as Rick Santorum and Mike DeWine and Michael Steele and Tom Kean and Mike Bouchard and Jim Talent were all falling short of the lofty expectations laid by Hewitt over the previous 48 hours -- Hewitt was insisting this was no Democratic wave. I suppose if you want to define a wave as the Democrats picking up 54 House seats (a la 1994) and a filibuster-proof Senate majority, then it's not a wave.

    But when the best story of the night is that Joe Lieberman beat Ned Lamont in Connecticut, when you consider that the Democrats won all but one closely-contested Senate race (the win was Tennesee's Bob Corker, who beat the self-imploding Harold Ford by 3 points when the polls gave Corker a 6-point lead) . . . that sounds like a wave to me. Regardless of the fact that the election results were close around the country, they were still close in favor of the Dems. As President Bush said in his press conference Wednesday:
    Look, this was a close election. If you look at race by race, it was close. The cumulative effect, however, was not too close. It was a thumping.
    Others who are much smarter than me have speculated on the reasons behind the wave: the war, government spending, scandal, John McCain, etc. And I'm sure all those are true to an extent.

    But I want to focus on the landslide in Oregon, which saw the re-election of a vulnerable Democrat governor, the Democratic takeover of the legislature, and the rejection of every conservative ballot measure. Can we attribute that Democratic slaughter to a national wave of anti-Republicanism? Perhaps partially, but I'd argue that the national picture was not solely responsible for the local landslide.

    So what happened? I'm not an election analyst, but I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night, so here's my two cents:

    First and foremost, Ron Saxton did not inspire the electorate. Polls showed Ted Kulongoski was among the most vulnerable incumbents in the nation, but I don't think Saxton ever found a way to explain why voters should vote for him instead of against the governor. Saxton never hit any heart issues -- cutting government 10 percent may be attractive to some, but it doesn't rally the troops when the ballots arrive. That's not to say Gov. Kulongoski was better at putting out a vision (in fact, he was pathetic in that regard, just like his entire first term) but Saxton didn't inspire swing voters to consider him.

    I think that mindset trickled down to the legislative level, as Republicans appeared to take their House majority for granted, while the Democrats were fighting tooth and nail for every fingerhold they could find. Why the GOP would take the majority for granted in blue Oregon is mystifying, but that's how it seemed to me.

    In this way, it was similar to the national race. The Republicans never did a good job of putting forward bold ideas, instead relying on the Democrats-would-be-worse meme (not to say they had no ideas, they just never found any that stirred the heart). The GOP campaign -- like Saxton's -- was more about asking the voters not to vote for the other guy.

    I'm not smart enough to identify what Saxton should have done differently, but I suspect he did all he could with who he was. And that clearly was insufficient. Along those lines, I also think this election put to rest the idea that a moderate urban Republican can win in Oregon. Ron Saxton had all the "right" credentials -- a Portlander, experience in education, moderately pro-choice, not an extreme right-winger.

    And yet, the county numbers show a Republican bleed across the state. Unlike the 2002 election, the 2006 Kulongoski campaign took Washington, Clackamas and Marion counties from the Republicans, including a 9-point majority in Washington County that stuck a dagger in the heart of Saxton's goals.

    Saxton lost votes in 19 counties compared to Kevin Mannix's numbers, and Kulongoski gained votes in all but six counties. Just in the Tri-County area alone, Kulongoski gained more than 20,000 votes over his 2002 totals; half those votes came in Multnomah County, where Saxton also lost almost 7,000 votes (and where Mannix earned 29.3 percent of the vote compared to Saxton's 25.3).

    The biggest shocker, however, was Marion County, where Saxton lost nearly 10,000 votes compared to 2002, while Kulongoski's numbers stayed static and he won a slim plurality in the county. Voter turnout in this county was 9 percent lower than 2002, and it was all Republicans! This makes me think 1) Saxton's messages about cutting spending and PERS hit home with all those government employees in Salem, and 2) Republicans didn't think much of Saxton's message.

    And basically, that sums up the entire election: liberals may not have been thrilled with Kulongoski, but they'd sooner hire Mark Foley as a babysitter than vote for a Republican. They know where their bread is buttered.

    Unlike 2002, the 2006 results cannot be blamed on a third-party candidate. Even if you combined the totals for Constitution, Libertarian and Pacific Green candidates and gave those votes to Saxton, it wouldn't make up his deficit.

    There was also very little on the ballot to inspire conservative turnout. The parental notification measure was about it, and that really doesn't have the star power of, say, same-sex marriage as an issue.

    So what's the lesson? My fear is that Hasso Hering of the Albany Democrat-Herald is correct:
    For anybody seeking statewide office, the practical lesson is plain to see: Forget it unless you embrace the liberal platform. But as long as we have partisan primaries, candidates with a liberal platform are never going to win a Republican nomination for statewide office again. So Democrats have a lock on these offices — governor, secretary of state, labor commissioner, superintendent of public education, and probably all the spots on the appeals courts too — for as long as the eye can see.
    However, Hering goes on to argue that Oregon Republicans of yesteryear were "progressives in one way or another," and asks if that lesson will sink in with Republican primary voters. I'd argue that primary voters gambled on that lesson with Saxton, and that gamble drew snake eyes.

    I'm too young to remember Republicans like Hatfield, McCall or Atiyeh, but I'm not sure you can compare politics of the 1960s and '70s with the politics of today. I do fear that Hering speaks the truth about a Democratic lock on statewide offices, especially with the power that unions hold over the Democratic Party.

    However, we're so afraid that liberals will tarnish a true conservative with the "extreme" label (regardless of whether the shoe fits) that we run to the first moderate Republican we see. Maybe, just maybe, the answer is not to select a Republican who embraces a "liberal" platform, however Hering might define that term. Perhaps it's time to stop worrying about what the left thinks of us and find the best person to hold the conservative banner. Maybe the answer is to nominate a solid conservative who can clearly communicate conservative ideals with some charisma, who isn't tainted with scandal or questionable loyalties, who isn't already a lightning rod for left-wing attack dogs (e.g. Bill Sizemore), and who gives Oregonians a reason to vote for him instead of against his opponent.

    Some would argue that selecting a "solid conservative" would just put us in the wilderness for another gubernatorial term. And it might. But the closest we've come to Mahonia Hall in recent history is Mannix in 2002, and he was the closest thing to a "solid conservative" in the last 20 years.

    I know, I don't ask for much. But I think he's out there.

    Tuesday, November 07, 2006

    A poster girl for the 'wrong side of the world'

    An Australian singer named Beccy Cole penned a beautiful song in response to fans who were critical of her trip to Iraq to entertain her country's troops, nicknamed Diggers.

    My favorite lines, directed at those fans:
    I admire the burning fire
    that causes you to fight
    I only wish the wrong side of the world
    had the same rights
    And, to a fan who told her he wouldn't keep her poster on the wall or listen to her music:
    If unlike me you feel no pride at all
    then go ahead and take me off your wall
    'cause I prefer to be a poster girl
    on the wrong side of the world.
    And I found a good article in The Australian about how her trip to Iraq cemented her feelings about the conflict:
    I didn't know exactly what my stance was until I went over there. People are quick to judge these situations without knowing fully what it's about. Prior to that I think I would have said I'm staunchly anti-war, but aren't we all?

    Hat tip: Terrance

    Monday, November 06, 2006

    I changed my mind

    On Measure 42, I'm voting no. Reasons:
    1. After reading the arguments for and against, I decided I wasn't willing to risk the potential insurance premium increase;
    2. I figured a No vote just keeps the status quo, so there's nothing gained or lost;
    3. When the only arguments in favor are four by sponsor Bill Sizemore and one by Loren Parks, that raises a red flag.
    I admit, not the most electrifying arguments I've ever put forth, but there you go.

    The Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy

    The gas prices at my neighborhood station went up almost a dime overnight. It must be the VLWC springing an election-eve surprise to drum up Democratic votes.

    A warning on the election

    From Hugh Hewitt:
    Jerry Ford had a huge amount of momentum in the closing days of the 1976 campaign, so much so that Time Magazine had to prepare two covers for the post-election issue, one for each presidential candidate. But not enough. The result was Jimmy Carter and Carter's legacies in Iran and North Korea.
    So, Republicans -- you may have the momentum, but don't get cocky; you are not in a position to be cocky about anything. Keep working through tomorrow night. Coming close won't get you a thing, other than a party in leadership that is trying to hide its true intentions until Nov. 8.

    David Wu came to my house! And has no clue...

    I must admit I was impressed to open my front door Saturday afternoon and find U.S. Rep. David Wu, along with some lady running for the Oregon House (just kidding, Suzanne!) approaching my front door.

    I have to give any politician credit when they're willing to knock on doors on a rainy weekend day, even if it was in the middle of a good football game. That said, I'm not sure why Wu was there -- it seemed he was simply accompanying Ms. Bonamici.

    We had an interesting, spirited discussion in which I think it was clear I wasn't supporting either candidate. However, there was one answer from Wu that stuck in my head all weekend, an answer that meant he was either lying through his teeth, or he was sorely misinformed about his own caucus. I asked him about the argument that Democratic control of Congress would mean politically-driven investigations and impeachment proceedings.

    He responded by saying that wouldn't happen. Any crimes should be pursued, of course, but the Democrats were more interested in "moving forward," he said.

    Baloney. I'm going to give Rep. Wu the benefit of the doubt and assume that he really wants to "move forward," but even his answer left open the possibility of investigations. He also displays either an ignorance of his party, or the knowledge that speaking the truth about this subject would hurt the party's cause: if the GOP loses control of the House tomorrow, control of the House Judiciary Committee would go to Michigan Rep. John Conyers, who has spent years compiling a case for impeaching the president. And guess what? The judiciary committee is where impeachment proceedings would start.

    I thank Rep. Wu for coming by, but he's either being extremely naïve, or he's was playing me for a fool. Either way, he has no business in the majority party.

    I just wish I would have thought to ask him why he has such disrespect for his opponent and for the voters that he refuses to debate the issues.

    Saturday, November 04, 2006

    Little-known vote-by-mail facts (to me, anyway)

    According to today's Oregonian:
    It doesn't matter whether you use blue pen or pencil to fill out the ballot or sign your envelope. However, don't use a black pen. Some black pens also have red in their ink formulas, which is not picked up by the scanner used to count votes.
    Each county elections office provides privacy booths for voters who wish to vote there or for persons who need assistance voting because of a disability.
    And finally some questions based on the O's info:
    People do occasionally report receiving two ballots, especially if they've moved or changed their registration. But only one ballot per voter is counted.
    Really? How do we know only one ballot is counted? There's enough evidence of dead people voting that I find it difficult to believe a duplicate ballot isn't counted...

    OK, two more related questions:
    • Q: My husband says he doesn't want to vote. Can I fill out his ballot, sign his name on the envelope and turn it in?
    • A: Not unless you're ready to go to jail. It's a Class C felony to sign another person's name on the ballot. The penalty: as long as five years in prison and a $125,000 fine.
    • Q: Can only U.S. citizens vote in this election? Or can non-citizens vote in local races and school bonds?
    • A: You must be a legal U.S. citizen to vote in any race. Anyone who falsely claims U.S. citizenship on a voter registration card risks going to jail for five years and paying a $125,000 fine.
    Considering how stringent our elections division is about proving citizenship, it seems to me that a wife wanting to vote for her husband could do so without much fear of prosecution.

    Can you say fraud?

    Friday, November 03, 2006

    Everett Curry runs a lame ad

    About two weeks ago, I criticized Democrat David Edwards for running an ad that tries as many times as possible in 30 seconds to tie his opponent to President Bush.

    Unfortunately, his opponent -- Everett Curry -- has done his best to droop down to Edwards' level with an ad I just saw.

    In the TV commercial, Curry's campaign quotes the Oregonian editorial in which the newspaper revokes its endorsement of Edwards because of "dirty tricks." I don't fault Curry for using the endorsement revocation to his benefit, but in the course of doing so, the commercial says Edwards offers only "intolerance, divisiveness and dirty tricks."

    I would argue that anyone who calls their opponent intolerant, divisive or a player of dirty tricks is not displaying tolerance, inclusiveness or fair play. It's sad how this campaign has gone; I can only hope that the winner will show more class when he gets to Salem.

    How I'm voting -- as if you care

    It seems to be the thing to do in the blogosphere -- explain how you plan to vote. I think this is highly overrated, but just in case my mom was interested, here it is:

    Governor: Ron Saxton.
    I explained why in this post.

    U.S. House of Representatives, District 1: Undecided
    I will probably hold my nose and vote for Derrick Kitts, because I'd love to retain Republican control of the House (not that such a vote will achieve that), but I may not vote at all. From an agenda standpoint, Kitts is certainly better than David Wu, but I have difficulty getting past Kitts' fratboy image, which he's done very little to dispel during his two terms in the Oregon House. I have a real problem with Wu's refusal to discuss the issues with Kitts, but that's just one of many issues I have with Wu. In the end, it won't matter, as Wu will win this race in a cakewalk.

    Oregon Senate, District 17: No vote
    My current representative, Brad Avakian, will roll over Piotr Kuklinski and two third-party candidates for Charlie Ringo's senate seat. I like Avakian, not because he and I have a lick of issues in common, but because he's respectful of my opinion; that said, his personality doesn't make up for the fact that he's a liberal Democrat, and I would vote for a decent Republican. (Kuklinski might be a decent Republican, but getting any information about him is, um, a challenge; he won the May primary because he was unopposed in securing 639 write-in votes at the last minute.) Even if the Republicans could find a decent, well-publicized candidate, he or she would have a difficult time winning the district, which has a 9-point Democrat advantage.

    Oregon House, District 34: Joan Draper
    I met Joan at the Washington County Fair this summer and can't say that I came away bowled over by her knowledge of the issues. I like it when I think my representatives are listening to their constituents, but she seemed too willing to listen and not all that willing to give her opinion. That said, I really think she's a smart lady, and knows more than she discussed. She's clearly a better choice than her opponent, Suzanne Bonamici, which I explained here. Her business background is particularly important (especially her record of turning around failing businesses), as opposed to her opponent's background as an attorney (ugh). A Draper victory will be a challenge with the Dems' 4+ point advantage in the district, but it's do-able.

    Oregon Supreme Court: Jack Roberts
    As I said here, I agree with Willamette Week: the Supreme Court already has plenty of justices with cookie-cutter résumés, but Roberts' intelligence and everyday understanding of our state put him head and shoulders above his opponent. As WW said, "The court is stocked with justices who have backgrounds similar to [Virginia] Linder's; it has nobody remotely like Roberts." For more on Roberts, read here and here.

    Washington County Circuit Court Judge: Charlie Bailey
    This is a no-brainer, as I explained here. The judicial branch has enough trouble remembering its britches are no bigger than yours and mine, and Bailey's opponent Vincent Deguc gives me no indication he'll be a departure from that.

    Metro: Tom Cox
    This is for many of the same reasons as my vote for Roberts. Metro is full of left-field "visionaries" (read: pursuing utopian ideas without regard for the people who pay for them) like David Bragdon, Rex Burkholder and Robert Liberty. The last thing it needs is more of the same. As Jack Bogdanski said of this race, Cox's opponent Kathryn Harrington "has all the money, from the developers, the unions, etc." In other words, all the typical players who usually throw their money around in the hopes of buying elections. Yet another reason to vote for Cox.

    Measure 39, Property Condemnation: Yes
    I have a good friend who works in the property development world, and he told me there really are good reasons why this should not pass -- particularly in situations where the overall good of the community (e.g. job creation) might be hindered by a property owner who was holding out for more money than his property was worth, or who just wanted to be ornery. My friend noted that the public sometimes forgets that the owners of condemned properties are paid a fair price for their property. That said, he thinks M39 will win handily, and I think he's right. There are probably areas where it makes sense, but I can't stomach the vision of Ma & Pa getting kicked off their property with a check and a swift kick to the butt, just so a wealthy developer can become wealthier.

    Measure 40, Judicial Districts: Yes
    As I said above, the judicial branch is getting a bit big for its britches, and part of the reason for that is that the vast majority of judges are selected from the Willamette Valley. Thus, they apply the law with little understanding or concern for how it would affect a farmer in Boardman or a rancher in LaPine or a blue-collar family in Coquille. The opposition argument -- that this would bring special interests into judicial elections -- is laughable; it really means, We don't like this because we would have competition for our liberal monopoly on the judiciary. The other argument is that we couldn't attract the most qualified judges to the bench, but again, that depends on your definition of "qualified." They define it narrowly as experience in the attorney general's office or a lower court; the rest of us use a broader definition that includes life experience and familiarity with how the law affects the common man.

    Measure 41, Income Tax Deductions: No
    This is a close call that may come as a surprise to my conservative brethren, but I've decided that I'm not ready to take more money out of the state treasury until I see what Gov. Saxton would do with the budget. (Obviously, if Ted Kulongoski is re-elected, I will probably regret this vote, and recent polls do not give me hope.) That said, I'm tempted to vote for it because of two reasons: 1) Oregon law (if I remember correctly) allowed this deduction until the legislature decided to negate the federal tax cuts in 2003 by eliminating the deduction. Thus it was, in effect, a tax increase on Oregonians, and the state economy lagged the federal recovery by about a year because of it; 2) I grow tired of hearing how the sky is going to fall when the next tax decrease takes effect, and the sky is still there the day after. Still, I want to wait and see what happens, particularly when combined with Measure 48.

    Measure 42, Credit Scores for Insurance: Yes
    I've heard the arguments that this will cause my insurance rates to increase, but I'm not sure I buy it. Those arguments are coming from insurance agents. This makes me think the insurance companies are charging significantly more to those with poor credit, and they're worried about a loss of income because they know they can't increase everyone else's rates enough to cover the difference. Do I have any proof of any of this? Nope. I'm just saying, when my insurance agent tells me my rates might go up because of a ballot measure, I treat it with the same suspicion I would if the Oregon Education Association told me class sizes would double as a result of Measure X. Neither party is an uninterested observer.

    Measure 43, Parental Notice of a Minor's Abortion: Yes
    Another no-brainer. Lots of misinformation on this, as I wrote here. Let's put it this way: if this ballot measure said that minor girls should get their parents' permission before consenting to medical care, and provided an exception for medical emergencies and abortions, it would probably pass with 75 percent of the vote. Very few people would have the guts to argue that a 15-year-old girl was competent to approve gall bladder surgery without her parents' involvement. But because this is dealing with the left's sacred cow -- unlimited abortions for anyone, any time -- it's "not simple, and not safe." Baloney.

    Measure 44, Prescription Drug Coverage: Yes
    Does anyone really plan to vote against this? No financial impact, no organized opposition, just the occasional crank who doesn't want government to fund anything. Get real. I agree with the Oregonian on this: the only reason to vote against this is if "you're a cruel, cold-hearted misanthrope."

    Measure 45, Term Limits: No
    I understand (and even accept, to a point) the argument that politicians in office are like diapers -- they need to be changed on a regular basis because they get too smelly. But I also buy the argument that says politicians need some time to get their footing and learn the process to really be effective. I recognize that the power of incumbency provides a built-in obstacle to voting fresh blood into office, but that's really the voters' fault, not that of the politicians. We already have term limits -- we're going to have another one on Tuesday -- and I don't like the idea of forcing a legislator I admire into early retirement simply because he's been a three-term representative or a two-term senator.

    Measures 46 and 47, Campaign Finance: No
    Truth be told, I haven't taken the time to thoroughly research these measures. But when I see that Planned Parenthood and Oregon Right to Life are both opposed, that raises a red flag. Other red flags: the legislature can make any change to campaign finance law with a three-fourths vote; an individual can only contribute $50 per year to a "small donor committee" (even my family gives more than that, and we're not big givers); and "an entity" could not independently support or oppose a candidate or party (what exactly is an "entity," and how can you constitutionally eliminate that involvement?).

    Measure 48, State Spending Limit: Yes
    When I first got my voter's pamphlet, I read that the measure "would reduce money available to fund state services by an estimated $2.2 billion," but that it "does not directly reduce state revenue" -- and that's if the measure took effect in the next biennium. Well, besides the fact that it's confusing, it turns out that's not exactly the most accurate answer. In truth, Measure 48 would allow more than an 8 percent increase over the current budget, which amounts to a $2.6 billion increase in the all-funds budget, and nearly a billion-dollar increase in the general fund budget. While I said I was voting against Measure 41 because it takes money out of the budget, I'm voting for M48 because it allows growth without letting the legislature go hog-wild in good economic times. And those who try to link M48 to Colorado's TABOR are either not being honest, or they're misinformed. Unlike TABOR, the Rainy Day Amendment allows for the creation of a rainy-day fund, and the size is set by the legislature, so any funds beyond that fund limit could be refunded to taxpayers; during an economic downturn, the RDA allows for additional spending beyond the cap with voter approval.

    Washington County Measures 34-126, 34-127 and 34-133 -- Library Services, Law Enforcement and Fire Service: Yes
    All causes I'm willing to spend my tax dollars to support.

    Metro Measure 26-80, Preserving Open Spaces: No
    They want me to approve $227 million for open spaces I'll likely never see? Bwah hah hah hah! That's funny!

    Beaverton School District Measure 34-139, School Construction: No
    This is not an easy choice, as I recognize the need, and I only made my decision in the last couple of days. However, as I noted in this post, a couple of years ago the Beaverton School Board found it didn't need the second and third years of money from a three-year local option levy, but only declined the last year of income. Certainly, that's better than taking all three years, but it still sticks in my craw. When the district shows me it can treat the taxpayers with respect, perhaps I'll be more inclined to respect their requests for my money.

    Thursday, November 02, 2006

    Funny political ad

    It always bugs me when a politician shows his daughter in a commercial, and she spends her 30 seconds talking about what a great guy Dad is (as if the daughter would say anything else).

    However, this ad from Michigan Republican Mike Bouchard does it with skill and humor. As a dad of two daughters, I laughed out loud.


    My most un-favorite time of year

    is actually February, but this is a close second.

    In February, football is over and baseball has not yet begun. I couldn't care less about hockey. The rain has been falling for more than three months and I'm tired of it. All we have is basketball and mold. And I don't like either.

    In November, the rain has begun to fall (and with it, the leaves from my neighbor's big oak tree). Baseball is over, and basketball has started.

    At least we still have football.

    Lies and damn lies

    It's bad enough when opposite sides of a ballot measure stretch the truth to promote their opinion. It's quite another when the state's leading newspaper repeats the same lies and presents them as the truth, leaving out part of the story in an effort to paint one side in negative terms.

    Today's Oregonian has a story titled "Abortion issue foes trade accusations." In it, Oregonian reporter Michelle Cole writes about Ballot Measure 43, which would require parental notification before a teenage girl could seek an abortion. Just two paragraphs after a Measure 43 opponent says "There's a lot of misleading information being put out," Cole writes:
    With less than a week before Election Day, the proposal's language concerning rape and incest and its judicial bypass provision have emerged as the main points of contention.

    Measure 43, which applies to 15-, 16- and 17-year-olds, makes an exception to parental notification in medical emergencies. But the exception does not apply to teens who become pregnant as a result of rape or incest. Instead, teens who have suffered abuse and other teens who seek an abortion without a parent knowing must apply to an administrative law judge for a judicial bypass.
    In a true medical emergency, something must be done or the girl's life is in danger. In cases of rape or incest, what's best? Is it best to abort the baby immediately in order to save the girl the trauma of carrying a child forced upon her by an unwelcome man? Or is it better to maintain the evidence inside that girl and report the rape or incest so the man pays a price?

    If a girl impregnated by rape or incest can run straight to the nearest Planned Parenthood clinic and abort the child, the evidence of rape is aborted along with it. And, there is no guarantee that the clinic will report the crime. (There is already plenty of evidence from around the country that such clinics do not always report sexual crimes, particularly statutory rape. In Oregon, a 15-year-old girl who has sex, even if consensual, has been statutorily raped, which is a class C felony; it does not matter if the male partner is 15 or 50.) Whereas an administrative law judge, as a member of the law enforcement community, would be compelled to report such crimes.

    If you think a girl is reluctant to tell her parents about her pregnancy, just imagine how reluctant she would be to tell authorities that her dad is raping her. The judicial bypass gives her a way around that land mine.

    As an example of why a judicial bypass is important and helpful in cases of rape and incest, check out the Eastern Oregon University student handbook. It includes a section on what students should do if they are raped (caps in original, ellipsis mine):
    • Go to a safe place or call someone to help you. It is important that you protect yourself from further assault. Consider contacting the police for protection if necessary.
    • DO NOT URINATE – Especially if you think you might have been given a date rape drug.
    Note: These are important because evidence can be gathered at the scene by the police, and on your body and clothes by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner . . . to be used in legal proceedings.
    And that's for girls who are already adults in the eyes of the law! Can you possibly read through that and tell me you think it's a good idea that (under current law) abusers or rapists can force their victim to abort the evidence of the crime without any accountability?

    So why do I think Cole's reporting is dishonest? After all, she's right -- the measure doesn't say anything about rape or incest. But it clearly applies to those victims, allowing them to move on from the abuse and the pregnancy. Just like the parental notification measures in 35 other states, which also have judicial bypass provisions. That's why the story is dishonest -- it paints the measure as forcing teen victims of rape and incest to jump through acres of administrative hoops, when the reality is that the bypass is simple, and it allows the law to catch up to rapists and abusers.

    Let me say it again: the judicial bypass is not difficult to maneuver. How hard is it to pick up the phone? If a teen girl knows the choice is telling her abusive dad that she's pregnant or making a phone call, which one do you think she'll choose?

    Oh, on a related note, I have to make a few quick comments on Susan Nielsen's Sunday column on this law. In the fifth paragraph, she writes:
    Under Oregon law, teenagers are considered old enough at 15 to consent to nearly all medical care, including abortion, without parental involvement. (They still need permission for getting pierced ears, which is a cosmetic procedure, or taking aspirin from the school nurse, a government employee.)
    Nielsen seems to be saying:
    1. It's appropriate to require permission for cosmetic procedures like ear piercing, but there's no need for such permission when it's just internal surgery. In and of itself, that statement is rediculous because it's clear that abortion is much more serious than a pinprick in an earlobe;
    2. Just because Oregon law allows 15-year-olds to consent to "nearly all medical care" doesn't make it right. If 15-year-olds can't vote, drive, drink or consent to sex, who is it that thinks they should be able to give their OK for surgery?
    3. Nielsen says that requiring permission for a school nurse to give aspirin is appropriate because the nurse is a "government employee." According to Nielsen's logic, it should also be appropriate for that nurse to seek parental permission every time she talks to that girl about birth control or makes a referral to an abortion clinic. (Think that's gonna happen? Me either.)
    But Nielsen's arguments, just like Cole's reporting, are great examples of the intellectual dishonesty of the No on 43 campaign.