Upper Left Coast

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

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Counting the chickens?

Mitt Romney needs to stop worrying so much about what Hillary Clinton is doing, and worry more about telling me why I should vote for him instead of supporting Fred Thompson or Rudy Guiliani (or even Mike Huckabee or Duncan Hunter).

When Romney goes to the effort to criticize Clinton (or any other Democrat) in September 2007, his arrogance -- that he expects to be the Republican presidential nominee -- starts to show.



Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The beginning of the end for Joey Harrington

I love Joey for what he did for my Oregon Ducks, but after starting 0-2 for the Atlanta Falcons, this is a bad sign that Joey will soon be a permanent backup for the remainder of his NFL days.

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Quote of the Day: the state fair

Tony Woodlief, who lives somewhere in the state of Kansas, took his family to the state fair. Twice. And then wrote about it:
No Kansan is too good for the state fair. In fact, nobody is too good for the state fair, period, though perhaps the state fair is too good for some people. If you find it beneath you to get elbow to elbow with people who have not enough money and too many kids, and folks who work the earth, and greasy-fingered, shiny-eyed cheerful miscreants operating the rides, then perhaps you have too high an opinion of yourself, because we are all made of the same suspect dust, it seems. And if your mistaken opinion of your social position prevents you from getting a fresh corn dog and a hot steaming plate of sugary funnel cake, then it serves you right. Go content yourself with a pseudo-cosmopolitan meal in your favorite faux Euro-bistro with the cheap furniture, and pretend you live in New York. As for me and my household, we'll take the fair.

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Quote of the Day: on Gen. Petraeus

From Peggy Noonan's column this morning, on the general's testimony earlier this week (italics in original, boldface mine):
In a way, David Petraeus won the day when MoveOn.org came forth with its famous "General Petraeus or General Betray Us?" ad. They shot themselves in the foot and deserve to be known by their limp. Republicans enacted fury (Thank you, O political gods, for showing the low nature of our foes!), and Democrats felt it (Embarrassed again by the loons!). No one--no normal American--thinks a U.S. Army four-star came back from Iraq to damage our democracy by telling lies.
Which makes virtually every single Democrat in Washington an abnormal American.

However, two other thoughts from Noonan were right on the money, albeit not supportive of this administration:
Thus a seeming illogic in the general's presentation: For the first time in years we're making progress, therefore we should reduce troop levels to the same point at which we made no progress.
As for the president's speech on Thursday night, it managed to seem both wooden and manipulative, which is a feat.
I support the idea of leaving our troops in Iraq until the Iraqi government and law enforcement can take care of themselves. But I also love the idea of troops coming home because their success in Iraq has created an atmosphere that makes such a withdrawal feasible. However, President Bush's speech came across as a schoolboy who sees the popular kid do something that gets a laugh, so he tries to duplicate it and gets laughed out of the room. ("Petraeus was a hit -- I need to capitalize on that good buzz!") I hope he isn't doing that with the troop withdrawal -- grabbing onto this idea simply to go along with the tide -- or his previous stumbles in Iraq may pale in comparison to what happens in next few years.



Thursday, September 13, 2007

An interesting Google search

Here's one that caught my eye.

Maybe he's feeling left out and wants to take on Gordon Smith too?

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When you pay a toll, what are you paying for?

My post yesterday about reconstructing the Interstate Bridge and converting it to a potential toll bridge (which I thought fairly innocuous) has attracted more than 50 visits from the Washington State Department of Transportation, the state attorney general's office and a, um, interested party.

As a follow-up, however, I see today that Coyote at Northwest Republican has quoted from Wendell Cox at the Heritage Foundation regarding tolls, and it turns out that only 60 percent of tolls goes to road projects. At least half of the remaining 40 percent goes to transit projects that those government planners (who are oh-so-much smarter than us) claim will reduce congestion.

But that Heritage study shows that, in Portland, "a smaller share of people in Portland take transit to work today than before the light rail line[s...were] built. Portland's traffic congestion has increased at a rate well above the average for large urban areas."

So, when the Interstate Bridge gets rebuilt, not only will Vancouver drivers pay more than their share of tolls due to the government's interest in "variable charges," but they'll be paying at least 20 cents out of their dollar for transit they likely don't use and that doesn't help, and which is used by less than 5 percent of the commuting public.

Why doesn't it work? Cox's comments spell it out:
The problem with transit is that, on average, 90 percent of jobs are not located in downtown areas. Those 90 percent of employees area spread over an area more than 500 times as large as the downtown areas. No transit system can serve this type of demand at a speed that is competitive with the automobile.
Cox makes clear that transit has a role -- in New York, 70 percent of workers travel to the central business district on transit, while Chicago, San Francisco, Boston and Philadelphia sit at 50 percent. But in a city like Portland, the jobs are too dispersed for transit to take the place of the automobile, no matter how many light rail extensions are built.

But shhhh . . . don't tell Rex Burkholder. Not that he'd listen anyway.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Tolls: coming soon to a bridge near you

Today's OregonLive.com announces that the Interstate 5 bridge connecting Oregon and Washington has been selected as a Corridor of the Future, smoothing the way for billions of dollars in federal construction money to solve the bridge bottleneck.

But if you read the story carefully, it's interesting to note the subtleties. Even though reporter Dylan Rivera mentioned the possibility of light rail ("The costs of undertaking a bridge makeover -- whether by addition of a span for more lanes or the creation of multiple spans for highway and light rail traffic -- can be staggering") in paragraph 4, you won't see much reference to the mass transit option from local officials. Even anti-car Metro Councilor Rex Burkholder makes no mention of it -- he simply says, in essence, that it's about time the feds realized they need to fork over the dough.

Rivera again notes light rail in paragraph 10:

The Columbia River Crossing project could replace the existing six-lane bridge with new spans containing five or six lanes in each direction, plus room for either light rail or bus rapid transit. Toll charges might apply. Or the existing bridge might be re-employed, though its two outmoded spans date to 1917 and 1958, respectively.

Wait, did you catch that? Toll charges might apply.

It turns out that the I-5 bridge was selected as one of the six Corridors of the Future because, according to a Federal Highway Administration spokesman in paragraph 17, "the potential use of tolls, and the possibility of variable charges, helped make the Columbia River Crossing stand out." (Translation on "variable charges": the feds liked that local officials were willing to consider higher tolls during rush hour.)

So that bridge may get built -- though probably not for nearly a decade -- but it will mean that Vancouver residents who work in Portland will pay the lion's share of crossing fees. And if they have to cross during rush hour? Well, too bad, so sad. Get out your debit card.

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Quote of the Day: Michael Totten on the Surge

OK, it's actually a quote from almost two weeks ago, but I just saw it today. It's from the New York Daily News, and is an op-ed by Portlander Michael Totten, who recently traveled to Iraq to see how the military surge is working. The short story: it is. And it isn't. But it needs more time to determine which side wins.
...what I saw was overwhelming, undeniable and, like it or not, complicated: In some places, the surge is working remarkably well. In others, it is not. And the only way we will know for sure whether the tide can be turned is to continue the policy and wait.
this much cannot be denied: There are powerful winds of change in Iraq, and not enough time has passed to determine how they will transform the country.

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Let the bad NFL programming decisions begin

I was excited to get home from church today with the knowledge that the National Football League would be on TV, and specifically the teams with the two best records from last year would be playing.

It seemed like a no-brainer that we'd watch the San Diego Chargers (14-2 last year, with the league's best running back in LaDainian Tomlinson) against the Chicago Bears (13-3 and the Super Bowl runner-up).

But no.

Instead, we got the Seattle Seahawks (9-7 in '06) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12), I guess because Portland is too weak to have its own team and Fox Sports thinks we want to watch the team from 175 miles up the interstate.

I called KPTV to complain, but their recording specifically says (in paraphrase), "If you're calling about the game that's being broadcast, we don't have any control over that. If you want to complain, call Fox Sports." Of course, the recording also says that KPTV makes requests about the games it wants and frequently gets those games, so my guess is that they request Seattle.

How incredibly pathetic and stupid. It's almost enough to get the Dish Network. Almost.

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