RAD would like to suggest a modified de-Americanization plan for Iraq which combines ideas from Congressman John Murtha (D, Penn) and Senator Joe Biden (D. Delaware). Since there is absolutely no evidence that the American puppet government within the Green Zone has any capacity to govern Iraq we need to face the facts life on the ground.
The only type of government that has a chance to rule Iraq is a confederation of sub-regional states composed of Kurdish, Shiite and Sunni populations. Will this bring peace to Iraq? Your guess is as good as mine. But then again, the status quo is clearly failing so what do we have to lose?
In reality since the first Persian Gulf war in 1991 the Kurds have established a de facto nation-state in the north. So, you have one regional entity with self-government and popular support.
If the rest of Iraq is partitioned into two other sub-regional states - for the Shi'ites and the Sunnis - there is hope that empowerment of ethnic/religious based regional states might succeed.
Roughly, northern Iraq would be a semi-autonomous Kurdish state. Central Iraq would become a Sunni semi-autonomous state and southern Iraq would be a Shi'ite semi-autonomous state. Somewhat like Washington D.C. - Baghdad should be governed by a council composed of representatives from the three semi-autonomous states.
We have experience with the management of this in the former Yugoslavia. However imperfect - a NATO imposed peace and regional self-government has ended ethnic cleansing, war and brought stability. Why couldn't a similar scenario work in Iraq?
The sticky wicket in Iraq is the politics of oil and border security. The solution appears to be creating a transnational based oil authority which manages oil production and distributes the profits of such to each subregional federation on a formula basis. In other words, oil cannot become the monopoly of any federation.
Secondly, to keep Iraq from becoming a long term assembling ground for terrorists - border control must be established. Here's where coalition forces supplemented by troops from Arab states must play a role as a phased troop withdrawal of US troops occurs.
US and allied troops should be withdrawn and be replaced by a scaled back coalition force deployed for border control and supplemented by troops from Iraq's neighbors - Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Turkey.
RAD hopes that the Iraq Study Group headed by James Baker and Lee Hamilton will come up with something along these lines which will force the West Wing off its current losing course. If not, this issue will become the centerpiece of Campaign '08. If so, Hillary will not be able to play hide and seek on the war issue.
Here's the Oregonian's take on Ron Saxton's campaign promises to cut the state's bureaucracy by 10% and to lower taxes by a phase out of inheritance and capitol gains taxes: "Saxton relies almost exclusively on strong increases in state revenues from a growing state economy. He has declined to attach specific numbers to his proposals and acknowledges the savings would be too small to accomplish the high spending he proposes. The tax cuts he supports would reduce his spending options even more." To be it more simply, Ron Saxton doesn't know what he's talking about! He helped run Portland's school system into the ground, now he wants to repeat this on a state wide level.
Dubya and his GOP political ghouls want to scare you on election day. The problem is that they are the scary ones because they have mismanaged the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, lost their focus on capturing the terrorists who planned 9/11 and have made the world more dangerous by their posturing about the so-called "axis of evil."
Who but Dubya and friends could turn a myopic tin horn dictator in North Korea into a world class geo-political chess player? Who but Dubya et al. could allow Iran to run the geo-political table from Tehran to Beirut, from Baghdad to Gaza? And then who could have a host of other political ghouls from Libby, Abramhoff, Delay, May and Foley?
It only proves that the "culture of corruption" is at work at home and abroad. Don't forget who botched up Katrina leaving New Orleans a shattered city and a living nightmare. You might watch a pro-football game there, but you wouldn't want to live there! Ask those who aren't coming back to the Big Easy.
Now these wizards of political witchcraft want you to blame the hapless congressional Democrats for the mess we are in. They hope to play the national security card as a last ditch targeted TV blitz to save their ever shrinking majority in the Senate and House. Don't be suckered by the GOP's "trick or treat" campaign scheme. Some of the scariest dudes in the world occupy the West Wing and the halls of Congress. Throw the bums out November 7th!
By Russell Sadler
Ballot Measure 40 requires judges of the Oregon Supreme Court and Court of Appeals to be elected from geographic judicial districts like legislators, instead of statewide like such officeholders as the Governor, Secretary of State and State Treasurer.
Oregon voters rejected a similar initiative in 2000. The same special interests who pushed the idea then are back again, funded by national conservative organizations determined to pack the state judicial system with the same sort of “conservative” activist judges they have been packing the federal courts with since the 1980s.
To understand the problem Measure 40 creates we need a little background taught to all first year law students.
Trial courts try the facts -- did someone actually do what they are accused of doing? What is the evidence? What are the facts? Did it actually happen that way?
Appellate courts try the law. Did the judge interpret the law correctly. Did the trial follow accepted procedure? Did the judge instruct the jury, if there was one, correctly?
Trial courts do business in a nearby county seat. Oregon’s 36 counties are organized into 27 judicial districts. Trial judges are elected locally to serve the people of that district and live in the district where their court is located.
Decisions of these trial judges are appealed to the Court of Appeals and the Oregon Supreme Court. They are collegial bodies serving all Oregonians. The judges are elected as statewide officeholders to represent the whole state.
They do their daily business at the seat of governor -- Salem. So appellate judges typically live either in Salem or within commuting distance -- Portland and its suburbs or Eugene.
Measure 40 forces appellate judges to live in their districts in Eastern, Southern and coastal Oregon. Yet the judges would have to really live in Salem where they do their daily work This is a real financial burden, especially for younger judges with families.
At statehood in 1859, Oregon’s Supreme Court judges were chosen from districts. Between 1840 and 1860 about 54,000 people migrated to Oregon by ship or on the Oregon Trail. Most of them settled in the Willamette Valley.
With such a sparse population, there was no need for full time appellate judges. Oregon’s Supreme Court judges “rode circuit” for much of the year, conducting trials in various county seats. A couple of months a year, the Supreme Court assembled in Salem to hear appeals.
As the state grew and more people sought judicial resolutions of their disputes, the Legislature created trial courts, elected to represent the districts where they lived. Supreme Court judges became statewide elected officials representing the whole state and met at the seat of government in Salem.
The seven-member Supreme Court was a hardworking appellate court. The Legislature did not create an intermediate Court of Appeals to lighten the Supreme Court’s workload until the 1970s.
There is another reason that appellate judges tend to come from Salem, Portland or Eugene. Appellate law is a specialty. The trial lawyers conservatives love to hate rarely conduct their own appeals. Trial lawyers, like trial judges, try the facts. Trial lawyers hire specialists to conduct their appeals.
There are two kinds of appellate lawyers. Some are sole practitioners who specialize in appellate work. They tend to have their offices in Salem. For example, former Secretary of State Norma Paulus specialized in appellate law before she ran for statewide office.
The other appellate lawyers are in big law firms that can afford the luxury of specialists. The only cities in Oregon large enough to support law firms large enough to have specialists in appellate law are Portland and Eugene. Appellate judges typically come from this pool of appellate lawyers.
So why are supporters of Measure 40 so eager to replace a system that elects trial judges from district where they conduct their trials and elects appellate judges statewide to represent all of Oregon and encourage the law to speak with one voice?
Privately, they will tell you the present system makes Oregon appellate courts too “liberal.” That is ideological nonsense. The best to be said for Oregon’s appellate courts is that they are competent and orthodox. And competent orthodoxy is likely to remain the standard of Oregon’s judiciary as long as the present system for choosing judges remains intact.
Measure 40 is a stealth plan by national conservative ideologues to smuggle members of the radically conservative Federalist Society -- like Supreme Court Justice Anton Scalia -- into Oregon's orthodox judiciary.
The national conservative ideologues bankrolling Measure 40 hope that by choosing Oregon’s appellate court judges by districts smaller than the state as a whole, it will be easier to elect conservative -- read revisionist Federalist Society -- judges.
In the spirit of Halloween's trick or treat tradition Oregonians will again face a gauntlet of state wide ballot measures to sort out. As RAD has said before, many times, the initiative and referendum process has been hijacked by special interests (often outside Oregon) and/or by partisans who frustrated by the legislature - take their ideas to the voters. Either way we end up with poorly crafted measures vetted via a barrage of negative ads at election time which confuse more than they inform. To help you harried voters - here's RAD's take on the state wide measure up for a vote on November 7, 2006:
Measure 39: Prohibits Public Body from Condemning Private Real Property... This measure comes out of the experience on the east coast where older low income mixed commercial/residential neighborhoods under eminent domain laws have been condemned by local governments then sold to developers to build upscale commercial and/or condos to increase the tax base of a local community. This is an over-reaction which could jeopardize future efforts to improve local infra-structure and tax bases of deteriorating inner city neighborhoods. Vote: NO
Measure 40: Requires the Election of Oregon Supreme Court and Appeals Court Judges to be Elected by District... This measure is designed to place more conservative jurists on the two most important courts in the state under the ruse of getting more rural representation on the court. While it is true that all members of the current Oregon Supreme Court live in the Willamette Valley - they didn't all grow up there. RAD's fellow Whitman alum and Supreme Court Justice Mick Gillette hails from Milton Freewater. You want the "best and brightest" not some form of regional quota. Vote: NO
Measure 41: Allows an Income Tax Deduction Equal to Federal Exemptions Deduction to Substitute for State Exemption Credit... This would decrease income tax revenue for the General Fund dramatically. This would mean less money for K-12, higher ed, human resources, corrections, state police et al. This measure designed by outsiders is designed to starve state government of needed tax dollars. Vote: NO
Measure 42: Prohibits Insurance Companies from Using Credit Scores in Calculating Rates or Premiums... Such practices are a de facto tax on the working poor and young people who often have poor credit ratings. If allowed this practice would raise the cost of car insurance and health insurance even higher for the most needy among us. But this initiative is brought to you by Bill Sizemore and friends. It doesn't pass the "sniff" test. Vote: NO
Measure 43: Requires 48-Hour Notice to Unemancipated Minor's Parent Before Providing Abortion... This is a parental notification law. On it's face it seems very reasonable. However, the real goal is to restrict access to abortion services by increasing the fear factor among teenagers. It assumes, wrongly, if a teen knows Mom & Dad will be informed - they won't engage in risky behavior. Anyone who has raised a teenager knows that logic is not in play all too often. The measure turns medical professionals into police. This will revive back alley abortion clinics who wouldn't abide by such a law. Vote: NO
Measure 44: Allows Any Oregon Resident Without Prescription Drug Coverage to Participate in Oregon's Prescription Drug Program... This allows the state to enlarge the pool of Oregon residents to bulk purchase drugs, hence lowering their costs and then passing the savings on to low income Oregonians. If Wall Mart and Target can do it - so can Oregon! Vote: YES
Measure 45: Limits State Legislators terms - Six for House members; Eight for Senators; Fourteen year maximum... The is the term limits initiative. We had it in 1992 and it was such a dud that even GOP members realized it was a bad idea. Being an effective legislator takes time - years of service. We have elections every 2 years - that's enough term limits. This is really the lobbyist and agency empowerment bill. Vote: NO
Measure 46: Regulates Election Contributions, Expenditures adopted by Initiative or 3/4s of both Legislative Houses... This is part one of a complex attempt to control campaign contributions. It and Measure 47 are simply too complicated to be rushed through in this manner. This part is really a Trojan Horse - a constitutional amendment which allows laws like Measure 47 to pre-empt previous Supreme Court rulings against such laws should it pass. Vote: NO
Measure 47: Revises Campaign Finance Laws; Limits or Prohibit Contributions and Expenditures; Adds Disclosure; New Reporting Requirements... This is part two following up on Measure 46. It's a well intended but poorly designed effort to stop PAC money from polluting Oregon's political scene. However it is so complex, if not Byzantine, that it's unworkable and may do more harm than good. It's another example of the initiative system gone bad and being driven by well healed and/or self-appointed zealots of the public good. Vote: NO
Measure 48: Limits Biennial Percentage Increase in State Spending to Percentage Increase in State Population, plus Inflation... As with Measure 41 this measure is designed by outsiders in the national anti-tax scene to use Oregon's initiative process as a guinea pig in a campaign to "starve the beast" of government. If passed it will force immediate cuts in the current 2005-07 budget and throw the state into fiscal crisis. It's the evil clone of Measure 5 but worse! Vote: NO
PS: For more info go to your Voters' Pamphlet. RAD always checks out who is "for" and "against" a measure. Trust your friends and allies. When in doubt vote NO.