Upper Left Coast

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

Friday, February 29, 2008

Quote of the Day

From former state labor commissioner and gubernatorial candidate Jack Roberts in today's Oregonian, speaking about the state of the Oregon Republican Party:
We've been spending so much of our time arguing about who is more Republican, and the voters are electing people who aren't Republican at all.

Happy Birthday

Today would have been my dad's sweet 16th birthday -- his 64th year on this earth. Having a parent with a leap-day birthday was always something of a novelty -- we had a big bash for his 10th birthday (which seems ages ago, but now I'm at the same stage in my life) and a more intimate one for his 15th, perhaps knowing subconsciously that he might not make it to 16.

I'm guessing his Happy Birthday song today is amazing because everyone becomes a great singer as they walk through the Pearly Gates. Imagine the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir multipled times several hundred trillion.

I was going to link to the BTC web page, but then I found a random BTC video that was perfect. Check it out (along with the lyrics) at the bottom. It's a great reminder to me that even as we continue to grieve his departure, my dad is sitting amongst the angels, contentedly singing bass harmonies of endless praises to his Creator; it's also a reminder that when I'm singing praises -- in church, in the car, wherever -- it should not be "just something we do," but should be preparation for my reunion with dad as we stand before God's throne.

Happy birthday, Dad. I miss you.

In this house we've built of make believe
Loved ones go long before, seems it's time to leave
But we will learn how to grieve, to forgive and receive
'Til we see them there in that city

Span of stars overhead as we walk this road
While this darkness remains, I will bear your load
And together we will tend the seed He's sown
As we walk along that road to that city

On that day we will sing "Holy, Holy"
On that day we'll bow down in the light
And then we'll rise and turn our eyes
To the Lord, Jesus Christ, on that day

Though my eyes can't see what is waiting there
Though my mind can't conceive all that He's prepared
There the blind will see the sun, what was old will be young
And the lame, they will run all over the streets of that city


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Keeping Oregon from becoming Canada

Mark Steyn, writing in the January issue of Imprimis magazine, provides a strong reminder to Oregonians about the direction of our state under the socialistic tendencies of the Democratic Party.

Comparing his home country of Canada to the United States, Steyn notes several (primarily economic) differences between the countries; he could, however, be predicting the future of Oregon, and it's not pretty for those who believe the government shouldn't be handing out cash like candy at a piñata party.

Luckily, a new opportunity exists to fight for those goals of limited government and personal responsibility, and it's critical that it succeed lest the out-sized dreams of American liberals push our state into economic peril (more on that in a moment).

Steyn writes that a third of the Canadian workforce is unionized, whereas the U.S. percentage is 14 percent; the state with the highest percentage (New York at 26 percent) is close to Canada's least unionized province (Alberta at 24.2 percent), and only three U.S. states are higher than Alberta. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that the unionized percentage of Oregon's workforce was 15.4 percent, tied for 13th in the country. It was one of 23 states whose percentage increased last year, jumping 8 percent from the previous year.

Why is this a problem? After all, unions keep management from taking advantage of the working class, right? I would argue that in most cases, that is no longer the case. Labor laws exist to enforce the rights for which unions fought, and unions' only accomplishment today is to hold the public hostage by securing unreasonable pay and benefits that the private sector can only dream about. The more unionized the workforce, the more the workforce assumes that government exists to be their sugar-daddy, and the sooner the government must raise taxes on the workforce to pay for these unreasonable contracts available to the minority.

As an example of the proliferation of unions and the mindset that believes government is the solution, Steyn writes:
Not that long ago, I heard a CBC news anchor announce that Canada had “created 56,100 new jobs in the previous month.” It sounded like good news. But looking at the numbers, I found that of those 56,100 new jobs, 4,200 were self-employed, 8,900 were in private businesses, and the remaining 43,000 were on the public payroll. In other words, 77 percent of the new jobs were government jobs paid for by the poor slobs working away in the remaining 23 percent.
Steyn's second difference is Canada's protectionist tendencies. As an example, he noted a California bookstore owner who was so sick of America that he wanted to open a bookstore in Vancouver, BC. The only trouble is that it's illegal for foreigners to own a Canadian bookstore.

If you don't think this applies to Oregon, consider this: the Democratic Party of Oregon believes it's OK for private employers to pay higher taxes, regardless of the impact on jobs or the state economy, but it particularly advocates revoking the corporate kicker from out-of-state compaies, regardless of the fact that the entire reason those corporations get a kicker refund is because they offer employment to Oregon citizens and they pay Oregon taxes at both the corporate and employee level.

Steyn's third point is that Canada’s economy is more subsidized, noting that protesters at the 2001 Summit of the Americas in Canada received time off from school and $300,000 for travel expenses to the riots protests.

Oregon, meanwhile, can and does subsidize anything environmental -- biofuel, wind power, hybrid cars, etc. -- regardless of any indication of its viability or cost-effectiveness.

Steyn's fourth point is that the Canadian economy is significantly more centrally planned, recalling a government program to offer fast-track immigration status to exotic dancers because it perceived a shortage in that area. "What governmental mind," Steyn asked, "would think of an exotic dancer immigration category?"

What mind, Mark? Why, it's the same mind that thinks we need a multi-million-dollar tram, a multi-million-dollar convention center expansion, a multi-billion-dollar light rail system, etc. etc. etc. And all without -- or in spite of -- a public vote. The government knows what you need, regardless of what you say.

Finally, Steyn notes that the Canadian economy is more heavily taxed: almost 40 percent more when comparing portions of GDP. That includes the darling of the left, government-run health care, but at what cost? How about the ridiculous waiting times: six months for an MRI, a year for a hip replacement and -- in what Steyn calls "the absolute logical reductio of a government monopoly in health care" -- 10 months for the maternity ward.

If you scoff at the idea that our tax burden could approach that of our neighbors to the north, just consider what happened last year with the Oregon legislature under universal Democratic control: a 20 percent increase in spending over the previous biennium. Consider the afore-mentioned tram, rail and building projects. And don't forget the more than $200 billion in spending promises made by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

And that brings us back to the new opportunity to fight for limited government and personal responsibility. It's called the Conservative Majority Project, spearheaded by Rob Kremer and Jared McKinney. In its introduction, the CMP homepage says:
The Oregon Republican Party desperately needs new blood and new leadership. The Conservative Majority Project, with your help, will identify and elect this new leadership.

The Party needs people who believe in conservative principles, can articulate them, and defend them. People who believe in the principles of Individual Responsibility, Limited Government, Constitutional Democracy, Property Rights, and The Free Market.

The Republican Party desperately needs skilled and courageous people to step into the arena of ideas and challenge both the "Certified Smart People" and the establishment class who are running this state.
After watching the Oregon Republican Party mostly flail about in the wilderness for the last decade, I'm cautiously encouraged by this effort, mostly because I hold a high level of respect for Kremer. I think they've got their work cut out for them -- both to find quality candidates that fulfill the principles they espouse and to raise the money needed to elect them in Oregon's political climate -- but reading through their list of principles makes me salivate to have candidates in that mold. It says it will support candidates who are:
Dedicated to improving educational quality through school choice. A strong belief that parents know how to make the best decisions for their children, instead of bureaucrats and unions is essential.

Dedicated to limited government. One of the first questions in any elected officials decision-making process should be, "Can this problem be solved in the free market?"

Dedicated to lowering taxes and cutting government waste. We recognize that your money is a reflection of your time and creative energy. Every elected official should treat all fiscal decisions with this principle as a guidepost.

Dedicated to preserving Oregonians First and Second Amendment Rights. The right to keep and bear arms is essential to the survival of any republic.

Dedicated to preserving and protecting traditional family values. The family unit is the core of our society. It must be preserved.

Dedicated to stopping illegal immigration. The Oregon worker has been immeasurably harmed by a system that allows those who are in this state illegally to drive down wages. This problem places a growing burden on schools, and hospitals, transportation, police, and fire departments.

Dedicated to protecting private property rights. The right to control your own property is a fundamental pillar in a free society. You have worked hard to call your property your own. You should not be forced to fight with state and local governments who look for reasons to devalue your property.

Dedicated to protecting your civil liberties and your initiative freedoms. State politicians, public employee unions, and bureaucrats have been waging a 15-year war against the initiative process. Whether it is by limiting your ability to petition your government, or by circumventing laws that the people of Oregon have voted on, this is an issue that can no longer be over looked.
So to Kremer and McKinney, I say: good luck and God speed.



Friday, February 15, 2008

The 'science' of global warming

That "science" is on full display on the front page of today's Oregonian, where Michael Milstein writes about the "dead zones" in the ocean off Oregon's coast. I'll say up front: I'm no scientist. But Milstein uses such sweeping generalizations that the opposite conclusions could be drawn.

For example, here is Milstein's lead (all emphases in this post are mine):
The eerie "dead zones" that suffocated marine life off the Oregon coast in recent summers are unlike anything recorded over the past 50 years and could be driven by stronger winds that might reflect global warming trends.
Could be. Might. But remember, the debate on global warming is over. There's no doubt. We have an overwhelming consensus.

Here's a rewrite that seems equally valid:
Despite claims that they are a recent phenomenon, the eerie "dead zones" that suffocated marine life off the Oregon coast in recent summers have been known to local fishermen for many years. In addition, there's little evidence that the zones are tied to global warming, much less that stronger winds are somehow tied into warmer temperatures.
Even though Milstein is quoting an article in the journal Science, he calls it a "conclusion" despite its lack of certainty.

I do credit the headline writer for ignoring Milstein's lead and telling the truth -- " 'Dead zones' off coast tell no tales" -- and give Milstein points for including Lincoln County Commissioner Terry Thompson in the story. Thompson, a commercial fisherman and three-term state Democratic legislator, told Milstein that he's skeptical about the zones being a recent phenomenon. "Fishermen have known for years that you don't fish in that area in the summer. We just didn't go there," he said.

As we keep reading, we see that the waters off the Oregon coast "may be coming to resemble other areas of ocean off South Africa and Chile -- where low-oxygen, or "hypoxic," conditions are more common and may themselves be worsening."

So isn't it equally fair to say they may not be coming to resemble other low-oxygen areas, and may not be worsening?

We see that lead author Francis Chan searched 50 years of records to find previous evidence of such zones, and "found little evidence before 2000 of such severe low-oxygen conditions along the undersea shelf that traces the central Oregon coast, and no evidence of the conditions pressing so close to shore."

But that means he did find some evidence that this has existed in the past. What is that evidence? Why has it been discounted?

We see that in 2006, crabs crowded coastal bays, "probably to escape the low-oxygen waters."

So is it fair to say we don't know why crabs crowded coastal bays?

And finally, in two of the last three paragraphs (#16 and 17) of Milstein's story, we see this:

Global warming is expected to heat the air over land more than over the ocean, creating the potential for the increased differences in temperatures to drive more winds, [Jack Barth, an OSU professor of oceanography and co-author of the research] said. That might fuel more upwelling, although it remains difficult to blame any single phenomenon on global warming.

"We don't have proof of the climate change signal, but the physics is consistent," Chan said.

In other words, we can't find a link to global warming, but we're going to push for that conclusion because it fits with the "overwhelming consensus."



Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Interesting Stats of the Day

The percentage of Africa that is wilderness: 28 percent
Size of Africa: 11.6 million square miles (20 percent of the world)
Total African wilderness: 3.25 million square miles

The percentage of North America that is wilderness: 38 percent
Size of North America: 9.4 million square miles (16 percent of the world)
Total North American wilderness: 3.56 million square miles

Monday, February 11, 2008

'Want' vs. 'Need'

Hold on to your pocketbooks, Portland taxpayers. The government wants more -- a lot more -- of your money.

As noted in today's Oregonian, the November election ballot will not just be the opportunity to select our next president. It will also be chock-full of wish lists from our friendly neighborhood governmental agencies. Everything from a new elephant habitat at the Oregon Zoo to a Hillsboro community center. Housekeeping items such as street and bridge repairs. Wish lists such as green spaces and education expansion.

But there were two things that really stuck out for me. One could be explained by reporter Andy Dworkin's lackadaisical word choice (emphasis mine):
Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation general manager Doug Menke, for instance, needs millions of dollars to buy and spruce up paths and parks in his rapidly growing Washington County district.
Uh, no, Andy, Mr. Menke and the THPRD don't need millions of dollars; they may want those millions, but there's no need. However, something tells me this was more than reporter error. I suspect that Mr. Menke and his board really believe they need such a windfall, and they presented it to Dworkin in that fashion.

The other thing that stuck out for me was a comment from Washington County Commissioner Roy Rogers, whose government plans to ask for a new public safety levy, a new fee on developers for street construction, and another tax on property owners for additional road improvements. Rogers argued that area governments should proceed with their myriad tax proposals so voters can pick and choose:
"If you go into the grocery store or department store and need 10 things, and you can afford five, it would be presumptuous of us to say which five things you get," Rogers said.
There's that word again: need. Mr. Rogers apparently thinks that the hundreds of millions of dollars in tax increases expected on this year's ballots are genuine needs, equivalent to the things we need in the grocery store. I wonder if he realizes that pulling hundreds of dollars in additional taxes out of our pocketbooks will make it that much harder to afford the 10 things we might genuinely need at the grocery store. You know, things like food.

Doesn't that sound like a wonderful day in Mr. Rogers' neighborhood?

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Why I will support McCain in November

Conservatives have their knickers in a knot over the possibility that John McCain will be the Republican nominee for president in November -- and not without reason.

In a response to this post, Coyote spelled out many of the reasons why McCain leaves us cold:
McCain has said (though he is arguing that he didn't the evidence and historical record seem to counter his claims) that justice Alito is too conservative.

That is a huge deal killer with me.

It's already clear that I don't agree with McCain voting against the Bush tax cuts.

It's already clear that I don't agree with McCain that we should tie our hands behind our backs with regard to aggressive interrogation techniques.

It's already clear that I don't (really really) agree with McCain and his approach (or non-approach) to ANWR and global warming.

It's already clear that I don't agree with him on the first amendment...or the second.

It's already clear that he is diametrically opposed to my position on illegal immigration.

But the one area I might hold my nose and vote for a bad Republican is if I think he will appoint solid judges.

Take that point away and add in there his propensity to "stick it" to conservatives whenever he can (on all the above issues) then I have to believe that he probably would, on purpose, appoint a liberal judge.
I understand completely. But I'm just saying: if it comes down to McCain or Hillary Clinton (or, for that matter, Barack Obama), are you really prepared to pass on McCain and unleash a Democrat in the White House?

Instead of McCain's willingness to support Justice Roberts, his concerns (if true) about Alito, and the possibility of a squish like David Souter or Anthony Kennedy, you'll get more blatant in-your-face judicial legislation of Ruth Bader Ginsburg or John Paul Stevens. Knowing that someone will appoint a Supreme Court justice in the next four years, would you rather have a young Ginsburg on the court for the next 30 years, or a young Kennedy?

Instead of McCain's opposition to tax cuts based on the lack of concurrent spending cuts (or, in some stories, based on their benefit to the rich), you'll get the elimination of all Bush tax cuts, and tax increases on everyone -- especially the business community and the wealthy people who have come out of and/or created that business community (and who already carry the overwhelming majority of the tax burden). That doesn't even go into all the government programs that Democrats would expand/create under a liberal president.

Instead of McCain's opposition to waterboarding (which, I think, good people can disagree about) and a toughness on the war in general, you'll get the release of all prisoners of war from Guantanamo and elsewhere, a general willingness to follow the United Nations' corrupt and ineffective foreign policy prescriptions, not to mention a squishyness on the WOT by thinking we can sweet-talk our way into the hearts and minds of al-Qaeda followers.

Instead of McCain's opposition to ANWR and support for solutions against global warming, you'll get crippling taxes on traditional energy firms, devastating regulations on American business, and a belief that America is solely to blame for any climate issues without considering the myriad global players.

Instead of McCain's squishy record on the first and second amendments, you'll get the return of the Fairness Doctrine in the hopes of destroying conservative media, the implementation of thought police measures similar to those in Canada, and far more extreme gun control measures than McCain's relatively innocuous remedies such as gun locks and gun show background checks.

And, instead of McCain's position on illegal immigration (which, as noted here, is not what the base may like, but is very consistent with 25 years of GOP presidents) and his willingness to secure the border, you'll get not just defacto amnesty, but outright amnesty -- families who are brought here because one family member is already here, legal or not; a clear path to citizenship regardless of legal status; and, the availability of every government program under the sun, regardless of a person's legal status or need.

(Self-admitted caveat: I have difficulty arguing the immigration issue because I think I am closer to McCain's position than, say, Huckabee's. I also note that the Democrats have more immigration specifics on their websites than McCain by a longshot, so it's unclear exactly what a President McCain would do.)

Oh, and this doesn't even cover the protection that would be offered to innocent pre-born children under McCain vs. either of the Democrats.

To conclude, I'm not arguing that conservatives shouldn't be wary of McCain as the nominee or the president -- indeed, we should stay on top of him in the same way that we pushed back on President Bush over issues such as Harriet Miers. But there are so many differences between McCain and a Democrat that I think it's suicidal for conservatives to sit out the election because McCain is flawed.

To paraphrase Don Rumsfeld, you go for the White House with the candidate you have, not with the candidate you might want or wish to have at a later time.



McCain is an extension of the GOP's last 25 years

So says Victor Davis Hanson on the Corner this morning:
It is understandable to lament the absence of conservative purity, but ahistorical to suggest that any recent Republican president would have met any of the litmus tests now demanded, given the dependency of the middle class on entitlements and its touchy-feely worldview.

Reagan, and Bush I and II all adjusted to that unfortunate reality. A Democrat did not appoint Souter, O’Connor, or Kennedy, nor raise payroll and gas taxes in the 1980s, nor sign amnesty and de facto open-border legislation in 1986, nor, later, increase federal spending well past the rate of inflation, or offer amnesty again in 2007...

Reagan’s pragmatism on taxes, amnesty, new federal programs and government expansion, was continued by both Bush I and II. In that regard, McCain seems a continuum, not an abject disconnect...

... in terms of judicial appointments, foreign policy and the war, and federal spending, [McCain] is not much different from any of the prior three Republican presidents, and might well prove tougher, given his age and occasional contrarianism. We worry over his immigration stance, but his former mistaken position was Reaganite to the core and reflected the Bush consensus. His new stance of closing the borders first would be a radical departure, and a conservative remedy.
Read it with a grain of salt, as Hanson has all but admitted his support for McCain, but read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Mark Levin strongly dissents from Hanson here.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Quote of the Day: the GOP race

From today's Peggy Noonan column, all the way at the end (emphasis in original):

Mr. McCain seems to me to have two immediate problems, both of which he might address. One is that he doesn't seem to much like conservatives, and never has. They can't help admire him, but they've disagreed with him on so many issues, and when they bring this up his demeanor tends to morph into the second problem: He radiates, he telegraphs, a certain indignation at being questioned by people who've never had to vote in Congress and make a deal. He's like Moe Greene in "The Godfather," when Michael Corleone tells him he's going to buy him out. "Do you know who I am? I'm Moe Greene. I made my bones when you were going out with cheerleaders." I've been on the firing line, punk. I am the voice of surviving conservatism.

This doesn't always go over so well. Mr. Giuliani seems to know Mr. McCain is Moe Greene. Mr. Huckabee probably thought "The Godfather" was kinda violent. Mr. Romney may be thinking to himself, But Michael Corleone won in the end, and had better suits.