Upper Left Coast

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

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Quote of the Day: Jeremiah Wright & the Black Community

Today's quote of the day comes from Jonah Goldberg on NRO's The Corner, talking about issues of race as they pertain to the kerfuffle involving Barack Obama and his pastor:
First, it is complete nonsense that Jeremiah Wright speaks for the entire black community or the black church, whatever that is.

But, second and more important, if that were true then shame on the black church and the black community too. I am so sick of hearing talking heads saying that Wright's sermons are nothing unusual in black churches as if that somehow makes what he says ok. It's as if something disgusting and untrue is outrageous if one person believes it, but it's suddenly respectable if lots of people — or lots of black people — believe it. Hogwash.

(Funny how it's not a defense of evangelical Christians to say of Pat Robertson's blather "that sort of thing is said in white churches every Sunday.")

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Back from the dead? Or separated at birth?

Every time I see a picture of Wes Soderback, candidate for the Multnomah County Commission:

I think of the late Calvert DeForest, aka Larry "Bud" Melman from the Letterman show:

It's possible, isn't it? Take off DeForest's glasses and a hairpiece and you've got the man who wants to succeed Maria Rojo de Steffey.

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'Did we mention he's a Republican?'

That's the question that Willamette Week asks about House District 1 candidate Joel Haugen, as the alt-weekly lends its support to Haugen in the race for David Wu's seat in November.

It's no secret that WW has rarely met a Democrat it didn't like, and the paper endorses Haugen because he holds a variety of non-conservative positions. And yes, the O offered a one-sentence endorsement of Haugen, calling him an "articulate moderate."

But just to make it clear, a memo to Mark Zusman, Bob Caldwell and their friends: Haugen may be registered as a Republican. He may be running in the Republican primary. But he's not a Republican, moderate or otherwise.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

This story made me cry

The Oregonian's website headlined it, "The best tale of sportsmanship you might ever read," and I concur.

In a game abounding with playoff possibilities, a Western Oregon University softball player named Sara Tucholsky hit a 3-run home run against Central Washington University on Saturday. It was the first collegiate homer for Tucholsky, a career .153 hitter in her final college season. But before she could even touch first base, she tore the ACL in her knee and could barely reach the first bag, much less round the bases.

The umpires (mistakenly, it turned out) said her team could put in a pinch runner, but she'd be credited only with a 2-run single, not the home run. No one on her team could help her, or she'd be called out.

Just when it seemed there was no way to credit Tucholsky with the homer, in stepped the unlikeliest of problem solvers -- Mallory Holtman, a senior for Central Washington and the conference's all-time home run leader.

Could the other team, she asked, help Tucholsky around the bases?

The umpires said there was nothing in the rule book that said otherwise, so Holtman and junior teammate Liz Wallace picked up Tucholsky and walked toward home plate, stopping at each base to let her touch the bag.

At this point, it's best to let the main characters tell the rest of the story:

"We started laughing when we touched second base," Holtman said. "I said, 'I wonder what this must look like to other people.' "

Holtman got her answer when they arrived at home plate. She looked up and saw the entire Western Oregon team in tears.

"My whole team was crying," Tucholsky said. "Everybody in the stands was crying. My coach was crying. It touched a lot of people."

And WOU won the game 4-2, so the difference was Sara Tucholsky's first-ever -- and, because of her injury, last-ever -- home run. A home run helped by two incredibly generous and beautiful women with different-colored jerseys.

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Quote of the Day: civil liberties after the bomb

Speaking before the National Press Club in August 2007, Newt Gingrich gave a clarion call to those who might mistakenly think the United States is well on the road to defeating terrorism. The key line comes at the very end, as he discusses the possibility that we will see an American city destroyed in a nuclear fireball:
I am genuinely afraid that this political system will not react until we lose a city, and nobody in this country’s thought about the threat to our civil liberties the morning after we decide it’s that dangerous and how rapidly we will impose ruthlessness on ourselves in that kind of a world. I think those of you who care about civil liberties had better be thinking through how we win this war before the casualties get so great that the American people voluntarily give up a lot of those liberties.
And "winning this war," Gingrich said, does not include pulling out of the Middle East.

(The entire speech and transcript are here.)

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Re-registering as a Dem

Victoria Taft is encouraging Republicans to re-register as Democrats in order to vote for Hillary Clinton in the presidential primary, thus continuing the family feud embroiling the Dems.

With all due respect to Ms. Taft, I don't like the idea -- if the shoe were on the other foot and Dems were re-registering as Republicans in order to mess with our primary choices, I'd be resentful and angry. That's why I hate (not just dislike, but hate) the idea of an open primary. In blue Oregon, it essentially takes away my ability to support conservatives (which, I think, is what the open primary proponents want).

That said, I'm seriously considering re-registering as a Democrat for the primary election. Not in the hopes of messing up the Democrats' presidential primary process, but because of crap like yesterday's Oregonian editorial supporting Kate Brown for secretary of state. Here's the part that really made me gag:

Brown will need to take extra precautions to avoid the appearance of partisanship after so many years as a party activist. She already has pledged not to be involved in Oregon political campaigns, a difficult but smart move for her.

As secretary of state, her political future would depend almost entirely on her ability to set aside party and work for every voter, every taxpayer, every time.

Yeah, right. Set aside her party? Please. She'll be just as able (and willing) to do that as current office-holder Bill Bradbury.

Yes, I know Rick Dancer is running as a Republican, and I have hopes that he'll turn out to be a viable and attractive candidate. But if not, I'll take Vicki Walker (or even Rick Metsger) over Kate Brown every day of the week.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Abortion is no big deal

That's what the extreme pro-abortion forces would have you believe. But check out the lead from a story in today's Oregonian:
The attorney of a former Multnomah County employee who stole nearly $39,000 from the county argued that his client shouldn't be sent to prison because a breakup with her boyfriend, an abortion and the death of "her longtime companion, her dog" sent her deep into a depression shortly before she began to steal.
Wait, let me get this straight: an abortion helped send her into a deep depression? How could that be? It's just another medical procedure to remove a mass of tissue, right?



Understatement of the Day: Carter's Hamas trip

From today's Oregonian editorial on Jimmy Carter's recent talks with Hamas:
[Carter] is entitled to his point of view, but this time, he did more than write a controversial book: He conferred legitimacy on a group that declared last year (and many times before and since): "We will not betray promises we made to God to continue the path of Jihad and resistance until the liberation of Palestine, all of Palestine."

This is not to say that Israel hasn't answered violence with violence, nor that it has shown sufficient compassion for the grievances and suffering of Palestinian civilians. But the conversation on grievances cannot begin with one side's insistence that justice requires the other side's elimination.

There must be some desire for an outcome that will benefit Jews and Arabs and Israelis and Palestinians. It's not clear that Jimmy Carter's talks have advanced that objective.

The conversation on grievances cannot begin with one side's insistence that justice requires the other side's elimination. That is why I cannot take seriously the extreme position of support for the Palestinians. That is why Iran's goal of nuclear weapons must be taken seriously -- deadly so. And that is why I have my doubts that this conflict will ever be resolved peacefully in my lifetime.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Jimmy Carter: best as a former president

This is admittedly a little late, but last Friday, an editorial from The Oregonian caught my eye. It sang the praises of new elections in the country of Nepal, which could end 240 years of monarchal reign and create a representative democracy.

The winners appear to be the Communist Party of Nepal, which had carried out a decade-long insurgency against the monarchy -- an insurgency that claimed tens of thousands of Nepalese lives.

What caught my eye wasn't so much the O's rhapsodic praise for the elections -- which fit quite well into our country's foreign policy aims of democracy abroad -- but its kind words for one of the election observers:
Jimmy Carter, who continues to model what a former president should be, joined hundreds of international observers to monitor an event utterly unprecedented in the annals of democracy.
I had two issues with that sentence: first, I would only call it unprecedented if you ignore the historical elections in the country of Iraq, oh, about two years ago.

Second, Jimmy Carter models what a former president should be?

Would that be the same Jimmy Carter who has made error after error, deception after deception about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

The same Jimmy Carter who has accepted millions of dollars from Arab sources, including bigots who call Jews the "enemies of all nations" and say the Holocaust was a "fable"?

Or the Jimmy Carter who has claimed in his books that he "attempted in every way possible to minimize the number of abortions," despite the fact that as Georgia governor he supported family planning programs including abortion, wrote that he favors a woman's right to abortion, gave encouragement to the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the state of Georgia to overturn its abortion laws, and hired as a White House staffer the lead attorney who argued for abortion in Roe v. Wade?

How about the Jimmy Carter who hailed Yugoslavia dictator Marshall Tito as "a man who believes in human rights"? Or who said he and Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu had similar goals: "to have a just system of economics and politics . . . We believe in enhancing human rights"? Or who praised Syrian dictator Hafez al-Assad and Ethiopia's Mengistu Haile Mariam, and told Haitian dictator Raoul Cédras that he was "ashamed of what my country has done to your country"? Or who was so impressed with North Korea's Kim Il Sung that he said, "I don’t see that [the North Koreans] are an outlaw nation"?

Yeah, a model former president. Maybe they meant that it was best that Jimmy Carter is a former president, rather than a current one.



Friday, April 11, 2008

Let me think...what party is he from?

Today's Oregonian announces that a minimum sentencing measure has qualified for the November ballot, and it only takes four paragraphs for reporter Tony Green to point out that it was sponsored by "Republican Kevin Mannix."

(In the Breaking News blog last night, it was actually in the second paragraph.)

Not former legislator Kevin Mannix. Not former gubernatorial candidate Kevin Mannix. Not even Salem attorney Kevin Mannix. But Republican Kevin Mannix. Because, you know, his party is entirely relevant to this ballot measure.

So if and when Initiative No. 109 is certified for the November ballot, I look forward to reading that it was sponsored by "Democrat Phil Keisling."

Think it will happen?

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

What's a little genocide among friends?

I spent an hour watching video of the Willamette Week endorsement interview for U.S. House District 1's Republican candidates, and came away not exactly sure that either William Chappell or Joel Haugen will get my vote.

I also came away with the distinct impression that David Wu will win the November election in a cakewalk, much like he did in 2006 (a 29-point margin over Derrick Kitts).

Both Chappell and Haugen are opposed to the war in Iraq. That's fine -- I think reasonable people can differ on that issue. But the most troubling aspect of the interview came when Chappell explained that no argument was sufficient for maintaining troops in the country (emphasis mine):
There’s no good reason -- there’s not a good enough reason to say, ‘Well, we went in there, we made a mistake, but now we have to stay.’ It’s time to leave. If it can be done in a way in which we can create, leave the least amount of damage, then we’ll pursue that, but I don’t think it can. I think that we’re just going to have to go. We’re going to turn it over to the Iraqi people and hope for the best. But, you know, the best didn’t happen in Vietnam, it was genocide, but I don’t want to be there now.
So he acknowledges that the United States pullout from Vietnam resulted in the murder and displacement of millions of Vietnamese people. But if that's what happens when we pull out of Iraq, that's the way the cookie crumbles. Chappell wants to pull our troops out of Iraq, and will accept the wholesale slaughter of Iraqi civilians to accomplish this goal.

This should be an unacceptable conclusion, regardless of whether you have a D, an R, or an I on your voter registration card.

On most issues, the 32-year-old Chappell sounds like what he is: a Ron Paul disciple. He's a libertarian running as a Republican.

He's big on eliminating government influence, and wants to cut government (he seeks the elimination of the Department of Education, and votes to return education funding and decisions to the state and local levels).

He's no fan of a proposed border fence ("I don’t want a fence locking me in this country or locking anybody out. It reeks of Communist Germany") and believes we need to encourage people to come here to become Americans, rather than people from other countries who come here to gain the benefits of American citizenship without the commitment or responsibility (though he didn’t say that very well). He prefers a hands-off approach, however: "If we have an economy that is running the way it’s supposed to be running, we’re not going to care that there’s other people here illegally doing jobs that we don’t want to do." (Somehow, I doubt those who carry immigration as their key issue will agree.)

Chappell sounded reluctant as he indicated he will support John McCain for president.

Haugen might as well be a Democrat -- in fact, in the interview, Haugen admits:
I agree with [Wu] on a lot of his policies. I agree with him on education, I agree on technology, and to some extent with health care, although I have some opposition on some of those issues, but I basically agree with him.
To reinforce that stance, he said he will support Barack Obama for president over McCain, but it sounded like he'd take McCain over Hillary Clinton.

Haugen's website lists his positions on several other issues, and many of them are not exactly consistent with the Republican Party. In addition to abortion on demand in the first six months (less than 1 percent of abortions are done in the last trimester, so his opposition to last-trimester abortions sounds good but accomplishes nothing), he lists some potentially big-government ideas that are so vague as to be worrisome:
  1. Mandatory public service for everyone in the 18-26 age range, as part of an education overhaul (let's allow the government to dictate the lives of millions of young Americans);
  2. Expanding the Endangered Species Act (I guess he must think it's currently too balanced in favor of people);
  3. Leading an international coalition to address population growth (why be OK with abortion on demand, and yet want government to tell us what we should do with our reproductive lives?)
  4. National health care (Hillary care, here we come?)
  5. Reductions in fossil fuels (does this mean he'd be part of the Rex Burkholder school against mechanized transportation?)
  6. A pro-United Nations approach to foreign policy that he calls "globalization," which includes maintaining "an official dialogue with hostile nations" (nothing wrong with that, unless, like the Bush administration with North Korea, you get taken for a ride while the other side continues its oppression and games);
  7. Stem cell research (wanna bet whether it involves destroying human embryos?)
Overall, Haugen sounded like someone who had a lot of ideas, but couldn't articulate any of them very well -- he was a bit scattered, and didn't do particularly well when Chappell challenged him on some positions. Haugen's only government experience is a planning commission and a parks and recreation board in his native Scappoose.

Chappell sounded like someone who had a better grasp on his principles, but was a bit naïve about the possibility that any of them might be implemented, much less that he could be elected in his first attempt at any public office.

And neither gave me much hope for Republicans in Oregon's First Congressional District.

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Innocence lost

The tooth fairy found (along with a tooth) the following note under our 9-year-old daughter's pillow last night:
Dear Mom, or Dad (Whoever takes my tooth)
I love you so much.
P.S. I hope you gave me $3 and 32¢
Don't ask
I think the cat's out of the bag.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

My mind is in the gutter

My Kindergartner has a worksheet that requires her to read a sentence and fill in the blank with the most appropriate selection from three options. One of them read:
Did you ___________ the wood?
The options for the blank were Chop, Shed and Chin.

I, however, read it as:
Did you ___________ in the woods?
And I looked for that thing that bears do in the forest.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

If I do nothing, what will happen to him?

I heard a sermon recently in which the pastor spoke on spiritual apathy, which he equated with the Deadly Sin of Sloth. As part of that sermon, he referred to the story of the Good Samaritan on the road to Jericho, equating the inaction of the Priest and Levite to today's believers who are so out of tune with their surroundings that they fail to see the needs of their neighbors.

And it reminded me of a speech given by Martin Luther King Jr. on the night before he was killed, a speech in which he urged his listeners -- as true in 1968 as it is today -- to ask not what might happen to me if I act, but to ask what will happen to my neighbor if I don't act. Here's the relevant section:
Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness. One day a man came to Jesus; and he wanted to raise some questions about some vital matters in life. At points, he wanted to trick Jesus, and show him that he knew a little more than Jesus knew, and through this, throw him off base. Now that question could have easily ended up in a philosophical and theological debate. But Jesus immediately pulled that question from mid-air, and placed it on a dangerous curve between Jerusalem and Jericho. And he talked about a certain man, who fell among thieves. You remember that a Levite and a priest passed by on the other side. They didn't stop to help him. And finally a man of another race came by. He got down from his beast, decided not to be compassionate by proxy. But with him, administered first aid, and helped the man in need. Jesus ended up saying, this was the good man, because he had the capacity to project the "I" into the "thou," and to be concerned about his brother. Now you know, we use our imagination a great deal to try to determine why the priest and the Levite didn't stop. At times we say they were busy going to church meetings -- an ecclesiastical gathering -- and they had to get on down to Jerusalem so they wouldn't be late for their meeting. At other times we would speculate that there was a religious law that "One who was engaged in religious ceremonials was not to touch a human body twenty-four hours before the ceremony." And every now and then we begin to wonder whether maybe they were not going down to Jerusalem, or down to Jericho, rather, to organize a "Jericho Road Improvement Association." That's a possibility. Maybe they felt that it was better to deal with the problem from the causal root, rather than to get bogged down with an individual effort.

But I'm going to tell you what my imagination tells me. It's possible that these men were afraid. You see, the Jericho road is a dangerous road. I remember when Mrs. King and I were first in Jerusalem. We rented a car and drove from Jerusalem down to Jericho. And as soon as we got on that road, I said to my wife, "I can see why Jesus used this as a setting for his parable." It's a winding, meandering road. It's really conducive for ambushing. You start out in Jerusalem, which is about 1,200 miles, or rather, 1,200 feet above sea level. And by the time you get down to Jericho, fifteen or twenty minutes later, you're about 2,200 feet below sea level. That's a dangerous road. In the day of Jesus it came to be known as the "Bloody Pass." And you know, it's possible that the priest and the Levite looked over that man on the ground and wondered if the robbers were still around. Or it's possible that they felt that the man on the ground was merely faking. And he was acting like he had been robbed and hurt, in order to seize them over there, lure them there for quick and easy seizure. And so the first question that the Levite asked was, "If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?" But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: "If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?"

That's the question before you tonight. Not, "If I stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to all of the hours that I usually spend in my office every day and every week as a pastor?" The question is not, "If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?" "If I do not stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?" That's the question.
Twenty-four hours later, Dr. King was dead, and his call for selfless action was drowned in a sea of violence and despair. My prayer is that God would teach me, through the words of Jesus and his servant Dr. King, how to set aside the fear of what I might lose, and instead to focus on what my neighbor might lose if I do nothing.



Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Quote of the Day: 'enthusiasm' for McCain

National Review's Ramesh Ponnuru, responding to a reader who expressed reservations about John McCain because of the latter's lukewarm stance on life issues, hits the nail on the head:
Short answer: McCain needs 270 electoral votes, not 270 enthusiastic electoral votes; and pro-lifers need him to veto the Freedom of Choice Act, not to veto it enthusiastically.

For a longer answer, let me draw an analogy to the civil-rights movement. (I know pro-choice folks hate this analogy, but I’m not using it here to draw a moral equivalence.) John F. Kennedy does not seem to have cared much about the issue; it was a check-the-box question for him. (Bobby Kennedy was reportedly a different story.) It would nonetheless have been a setback for the civil-rights movement if the Democrats had nominated someone who wasn’t at least nominally committed to the cause. And one reason the civil-rights movement was able to get an ally as president was that it did not insist that the president had to have an emotional attachment to the cause.

Would I prefer it if McCain brought to the life issues the passion of Sam Brownback? Sure. But a country capable of electing a Brownback president wouldn’t need him.