Tuesday, February 28, 2006



Thanks to friend Joe for this article!

by Matthew Daly
Albany (Oregon) Democrat-Herald

The Bush administration called recently for the Bonneville Power Administration to reverse its longtime policy of using surplus revenue to lower electricity rates for Northwest consumers and instead use the money to pay down the federal debt.

The administration called the proposal “consistent with sound business practices,’’ but lawmakers from the region called it yet another attack on the Oregon-based regional power agency and Northwest consumers. They said the change could raise electricity rates by as much as 10 percent.

“Energy prices are already through the roof,’’ said Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. “Now the administration is trying to squeeze extra dollars out of Northwest businesses and families, just when our economy can least afford it. This is nothing more than a billion-dollar tax hike on the Northwest economy, and I intend to fight this proposal at every opportunity.’’

Reps. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., Greg Walden, R-Ore., and Doc Hastings, R-Wash., also vowed to defeat the plan, which they called “a disguised rate increase.’’

The proposal, part of the president’s budget request for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, follows the administration’s call last year to charge BPA customers based on market rates rather than the cost of producing electricity — a change Northwest lawmakers ultimately defeated.

Under federal law, BPA has authority to sell surplus power to customers both inside and outside the Northwest. The revenue from surplus power sales is then used to lower BPA’s electricity rates throughout the Northwest.

Under the administration’s proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, any surplus revenue above $500 million would go to pay down federal debt, rather than lower power prices for BPA customers.

According to budget documents, the plan could raise Northwest power rates by an estimated $924 million over the next 10 years, depending on the amount of surplus power BPA sells and the market price of power.

The BPA said in a statement that the proposal would not affect rates in 2007, but did not rule out rate hikes after that.

“This administrative action will both reduce the federal deficit and provide BPA with needed financial flexibility to invest back into energy infrastructure and to pay down debt,’’ the statement said.

Bonneville, the federal power marketing agency based in Portland, Ore., supplies nearly half the electricity in the Pacific Northwest, most of it from a system of federal dams along the Columbia and Snake rivers.

Alex Conant, a spokesman for the White House budget office, said the plan would let the BPA make capital investments to improve service and reliability while making future rate hikes less likely.

But Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., called the plan “government loan-sharking’’ and compared it to a mortgage lender requiring higher payments from those who earn above a certain income.

“This is a significant change that’s going to raise the power rates of customers in the Pacific Northwest by almost $1 billion in the next few years, and I will not let them do it,’’ Wyden said.

Monday, February 27, 2006


I love the state of Oregon, and I don't want to see it trashed by power-hungry right-wing fundamentalist politicians. Oregon is a state which has "closed primary elections", meaning that if you are going to vote in a primary you can only vote for people running from the party with which you are registered. So, a few years back, I changed my registration from Democrat to Republican so I could vote against a particularly obnoxious GOP candidate.

The race was for a state legislative position. One candidate was a former beauty queen who married into a fairly wealthy family, got elected into state government, and proceeded to help grease a land deal for a "mega-church" she attended, who brayed on and on about "moral values", school vouchers, how bad our government is, etc. The other candidate was a more traditional conservative who was a friend to public education. He looked sort of like Ichabod Crane, and he had a rather low-key, country/folksy way about him. I felt I needed to help protect my state from the former candidate and show my support for the latter, so I became a Republican in order to give him my vote. Although I was a Democrat, I liked this candidate./ He lost, but not by much... and I believe I did my part for good. I changed my registration back to Democrat after my wife told me she wouldn't tolerate living with a Republican. Let's say I heeded her advice, pronto.

This time, through love for the county in which I live (Union County), I will be changing my registration once more to Republican, so I can vote in the upcoming primary elections this spring. There are two GOP candidates for the office of county commissioner. One is a more traditional conservative who has served nicely as the county clerk for years. The other is a guy who is very likeable but who represents the new breed of conservative; he is a strong Bush supporter, and from what I can tell, his party comes first in many matters. The county clerk has come under fire lately by a local "watchdog" group over her travel expenses, which do not appear to be exhorbitant or misused by any account. WHAT A COINCIDENCE this "issue" has come up at the SAME TIME the incumbent is up for re-election against a person with such a positive countywide reputation that she just might get enough votes to BEAT HIM. So, in order to help save my county from the "new conservative" approach of the incumbent, I will briefly become a Republican in order to throw my support behind the more traditional of the two. I am aware I will be doing this at the expense of the local Democratic party, because I know they need their party's votes in order to select their most electable candidate.

Then again, it's pretty tough for any Democrat to get elected around here nowadays, regardless of what office they're running for. If I chose to run for city sanitation engineer, the "watchdogs" would probably come up with some false allegations, or my opponent would suggest that because I was a Democrat my real agenda was one of hate for my community and that I would be likely to allow Al-Qaida to have access to the city's sewers.

So don't worry, I will only be a Republican for a few weeks. I will let you know when it happens. I will fill you in on a daily basis as to what it is like to be a Republican, what kind of symptoms I start to develop, the sudden changes in attitude I encounter. It will be a dangerous move on my part, but as long as I have Kit around to remind me she won't live with a Republican in our house, I shouldn't end up having to be deprogrammed.

Friday, February 24, 2006


I say "Bravo" to Monte Wolverton on this one. I see similar comparisons when it comes to being "pro-life" and "pro-death penalty", or in the over-emphasis of rights for the pre-born and the dying while not emphasizing policies which promote a higher quality of life for millions of Americans from birth to old age.


I'm in a period of end-of-winter blahs, and I can't think of anything to write about that won't just be a depressing rant about the sad state of our nation (due to lack of judgment, among other things, by the Bush administration)... or that won't just be a laundry list of complaints (various miseries) related to other things.

I am going to be fairly busy for the next couple of days, but if I can get the Blogger thing to work correctly I'll post some good cartoons. That may be problematic, as Blogger hasn't been letting me post pictures the last few times I have tried.

As I was mentioning to Sheryl in an e-mail, I think it's time to have my computer's hard drive wiped and then the basic programs reinstalled. For all the memory and speed our computer is supposed to have, it seems to do very little anymore. It has no video-playing capability, and it won't let me load video-viewing or music-listening programs. It won't allow me to process movies from our digital camera into DVDs, it won't let me burn discs, etc. ad nauseum. I think I'll save what I need on a Zip disc, get Kit and Katie to do the same, and take the damned thing to the shop. My hunch is that even though viruses have been removed in the past, what got in there might have gummed up the works in a mighty way. So, Jim and Dave and others, all those fun video clips you have sent are being saved for when I get the stoopid computer working correctly. Anyway, I need to take a more pro-active and less Stone Age approach, and get the accursed thing cleaned out. I'll let you know how that goes, if and when I get around to doing it. In the meantime, I may try and post a few pictures or cartoons using other computers.

I'm certain that a visit to J. Marquis of "Are We There Yet?" and David Downing of "A Fly On The Sill" next week in Seattle will give me some inspiration. Those guys are smart, funny and best friends of mine. Plus, there will be some filmmaking (see info at the link to "A Fly On The Sill") which I believe will be very enjoyable.

More as more happens.

Monday, February 20, 2006


Lawmakers at odds over Arab control of ports
Members of Congress, Bush administration disagree on security question

Associated Press
Feb. 20, 2006

WASHINGTON - Members of Congress and the Bush administration are at odds over whether security is compromised by an Arab company’s takeover of operations at six major American seaports.

Some lawmakers expressed concern Sunday that the safeguards are insufficient to thwart infiltration of the vital facilities by terrorists.

At issue is the purchase last week of London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co., by Dubai Ports World, a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates, or UAE. Peninsular and Oriental runs major commercial operations in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff defended the U.S. security review of DP World in various television interviews Sunday.

“We have a very disciplined process, it’s a classified process, for reviewing any acquisition by a foreign company of assets that we consider relevant to national security,” Chertoff told Tim Russert on “ Meet the Press .”

The government typically builds in “certain conditions or requirements that the company has to agree to make sure we address the national security concerns,” he said, but added that details were classified.

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said later he wasn’t as sure.

“I’m aware of the conditions and they relate entirely to how the company carries out its procedures, but it doesn’t go to who they hire, or how they hire people,” King told The Associated Press.

“They’re better than nothing, but to me they don’t address the underlying conditions, which is how are they going to guard against things like infiltration by al-Qaida or someone else? How are they going to guard against corruption?” King said.

Critics have cited the UAE’s history as an operational and financial base for the hijackers who carried out the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. In addition, they contend the UAE was an important transfer point for shipments of smuggled nuclear components sent to Iran, North Korea and Libya by a Pakistani scientist.

A Miami company, Continental Stevedoring & Terminals Inc., has filed suit in a Florida court challenging the deal. A subsidiary of Eller & Company Inc., Continental maintains it will become an “involuntary partner” with Dubai’s government under the sale.

Michael Seymour, president of the North American arm of Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation, said in a statement that company lawyers would have to examine the lawsuit before he could comment on it.

He noted, however, that his company “is itself a foreign-owned terminal operator that has long worked with U.S. government officials in charge of security at the ports to meet all U.S. government standards, as do other foreign companies that currently operate ports in the United States.”

“We are confident that the DP World purchase will ensure that our operations continue to meet all relevant standards in the U.S. through ongoing collaboration between the port operators and American, British, Australian and port security officials throughout the world,” Seymour said.
Lawmakers from both parties questioned the sale as a possible risk to national security.

“It’s unbelievably tone deaf politically at this point in our history,” Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Most Americans are scratching their heads, wondering why this company from this region now,” he said.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., told CBS’ “Face the Nation”: “It is ridiculous to say you’re taking secret steps to make sure that it’s OK for a nation that had ties to 9/11, (to) take over part of our port operations in many of our largest ports. This has to stop.”

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Arab journalists Friday at the State Department, that it was “the considered opinion of the U.S. government that this can go forward.” She pledged to work with Congress because “perhaps people will need better explanation and will need to understand some of the process that we have gone through.”

At least one Senate oversight hearing is planned for later this month.

“Congress is welcome to look at this and can get classified briefings,” Chertoff told CNN’s “Late Edition.” “We have to balance the paramount urgency of security against the fact that we still want to have a robust global trading system.”

Snave's notes: I say NO WAY to this sale. I read at J. Marquis' site "Are We There Yet?" that the amount of money the U.S. would make is $6.8 billion. I think there are better ways than this to raise money. If Chertoff is willing to o.k. this kind of sale in order because "we still want to have a robust global trading system”, despite the U.A.E.'s dubious record, I think he needs to find a different line of work. Maybe this sale wouldn't make it more likely that WMDs could be smuggled into the U.S. by terrorists, but on the surface it sure seems like it would. Sorry Dubya. Find a different way to raise your money. Maybe rescinding some of your tax cuts would be a way to start.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


While I still refuse to make fun of Cheney for accidentally shooting a hunting partner, I am going to be critical of his response to the incident. I know the guy doesn't like the media, and tends to shun them, but not making a public statement or appearance in which he deals with what happened makes it look like he doesn't care about it.

Lots of hunting accidents happen every year, but the reason we don't hear as much about all the other accidents (and we are hearing more about this one), is of course because Cheney is our Vice President. It appears the accident victim will live, although doctors are having to keep a close eye on him. Meanwhile, Cheney hasn't said much of anything. Whether this is in spite of (or because of) his being devastated by what happened should be beside the point. Because of his position of leadership, I think he needs to face the media and make an apology.

Bush has allowed this guy to become way too powerful and have far too much sway over the way our government has operated during the last five years. I suppose I should like the fact that he isn't saying anything about the accident because it will allow the Democrats to make hay... but it pisses me off that he has remained silent. Making an apology in this case isn't just something that would be politically expedient for Cheney... it would be the human thing to do.


Well, I won't give Cheney a full "hats off" for admitting he was at fault and expressing his remorse, because he was doing what most anyone would have done, but I will say I believe he ultimately did the right thing. Did I actually say that? That I thought Cheney did something right? Hmmm. I had better go take my temperature! Heh!

I'm glad Cheney did speak up, but I am having some difficulty with the way in which he did it. I wish he would have spoken a bit sooner, and that he had chosen to provide the interview on a network other than FOX "News". Because he is a neoconservative Republican, I can see how he would have chosen Brit Hume and FOX, as those are the kind of conditions in which he would probably feel most comfortable discussing something as unpleasant as what happened (and because of possible political ramifications). That doesn't mean I think his choice of FOX was a good choice, because I don't like FOX at all. I'm just saying I can see how Cheney might view that as the best choice for himself.

As for the timing of the dissemination of (and/or acknowledgement of) information, that's something the Bush administration seems to have a problem with. In this age of instant information, I think the public will be more likely than ever to jump on the White House for not providing us with what we want to know, NOW! I think that's just a sign of the times. However, the problem with not acknowledging incoming information quickly enough does seem to be a problem. But that's probably for a future soapbox.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006



I only got four out of ten correct. I think I had better study my Bible a bit more, lest my flesh be poured out as dung!