August 31, 2003
Telling Headline

The Seattle Times gave this telling headline to a New York Times article about the race for the Democratic presidential nomination: "Democrats worry about crowded 2004 field".

Yes, you would have to be a Democrat to be worried about a competitive marketplace.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 09:22 PM
August 30, 2003
Nuclear Blackmail

Fiskie Award nominee the Seattle Post-Intelligencer thinks it's a good idea to submit to nuclear blackmail

The words from Beijing yesterday confirmed a worst-case scenario: North Korea has nuclear weapons -- and plans to test them.
...
Our best hope is to bring North Korea, a step at a time, into the global community. But that won't happen as long as that country's leadership feels threatened.
Yeah, that'll work. And since the P-I's editoris enjoy yielding to extortionists, here's an offer they won't be able to resist:

If the P-I pays me $1 million I promise not to make fun of it any more. If it pays me $10 million I promise to keep my promise.


Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 06:05 PM
Campaign Finance Reform

When a politician says he supports "campaign finance reform", you can bet it means he wants to put limits on his opponents' campaign spending, but not on his own. Take, for example, California gubernatorial candidate Cruz Bustamecha:

Bustamante also faced questions about the propriety of his fund-raising methods after receiving a $500,000 donation from the Pechanga Band of Mission Indians.

The state's Fair Political Practices Commission contends he is violating the spirit of laws that limit donations to $21,200 per donor. But Bustamanate lawyers said it's legal to donate significantly higher amounts to a campaign committee that existed before the rules changed.

Bustamante has received $1.1 million in four separate donations in recent days to his 2002 lieutenant governor's campaign account. The money is then being shifted to a new committee raising money for his candidacy in the recall election.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 05:52 PM
People We Like

Here are some people we like and examples of why we like them.

Why we like Roger L. Simon

Someone emailed me to ask what I thought of Arnold's wild past. Answer: I'm jealous.
Why we like Mark Steyn
If Kofi got his hands on Iraq, as world opinion so devoutly wants, the Cambodian scenario would be more relevant than the East Timorese. The most determined obstructionists in this case would be Iraq’s Arab neighbours: Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia and co. don’t care whether the country winds up under another Baathist psychotic or a rent-a-rant mullah, or even a restored Hashemite as long as he’s at least minimally repressive. But they object very strongly to the idea of the Iraqi people living in liberty under a representative government with a free press, etc., because that’s not the kind of thing they want catching on. Putting the UN in charge of Iraq is a vote for ‘stability’ in the Middle East — the fetid cesspit stability of the Assads and Ayatollahs that, as argued in this space many times, is the principal ‘root cause’ of the region’s problems.
Why we like James Lileks
Why not nuke North Korea’s nuke test? They’ve said they’re going to have a test; I presume we know where that will be. So we nuke it the day before. There’s a big explosion, a mushroom cloud; they blame us. We say what are you talking about? You said you were going to light one off. And you did. No! You did it! Right. We nuked your nuke test. And that makes sense . . . how, exactly? It would certainly keep them off their game. And just after we nuke the test - and every subsequent test, of course - we put a call to Li’l Kim’s cellphone, and someone with a Texas accent says oh, I’m sorry, wrong number. I was tryin’ to reach a live man.
Why we like Tim Blair
Students at Cornell University pay anything between $14,000 and $29,000 per undergraduate unit. That’s a hell of a lot of money to have your brains sucked out through your nose:

Cynthia McKinney, Georgia's first African-American congresswoman, and John Pilger, investigative journalist, author and Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, were appointed Frank H.T. Rhodes Class of '56 University Professors at Cornell in July. Their appointments run through 2006


Those are just some of the reasons to like the people we like. We like a bunch of other people too.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:43 AM
August 29, 2003
Religion of Flying Toilets

Soon-to-be-dead Pediatrician-of-Death Abdel Aziz Rantisi isn't having any of that "Religion of Peace" nonsense:

Writing on his web site Tuesday, Rantisi urged ordinary Palestinians to help the wanted men. ``Protecting the fighters and to offer them support is part of our religion, is part of the holy war,'' he said.
Imagine that.

And what are these warrior-supporting sacred rituals? An e-mail from my family in Jerusalem offers a clue into Palestinian liturgical customs:

A soldier recently in Nablus reports that troops searching for bomb workshops must cope in narrow alleys with Palestinians who throw stones and fire bombs, and drop whatever they can from the roofs of buildings, including bricks, cinder blocks, bathtubs, furniture, and toilets.
Next thing you know they'll be blaming Israel for the surprising puddles of indoor sewage.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 07:00 AM
Most Children Left Behind

Washington students improved

their scores in reading, writing and math on the Washington Assessment of Student Learning last spring, but only about one in three children is meeting state standards.
The smiley-faced press release from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction says:
Washington student achievement is up by any measure
WASL scores show gains for all grades in reading, mathematics and writing, and new federal accountability rules punctuate the need for breakthrough performance in the years ahead
Without the new federal accountability rules, who could have figured out that "breakthrough performance" would be needed? Those who get past the content-free press release and read the linked Powerpoint presentation [3MB] should notice the spoor of massive system-wide failure.

We learn, for example, that only 39.4% of all 10th graders meet the state's standard for proficiency in mathematics (only 14.4% of Black 10th graders meet the standard) which is an improvement over last year's results -- 37% of all 10th graders and 13% of all Black 10th graders met the standards in 2002. But it's not much of an improvement. It also falls well short of the "No Child Left Behind" "Adequate Yearly Progress" targets, which were for 24.8% of every subgroup of 10th graders to meet the math proficiency standard last year, and 31.1% to meet the target this year.

All this testing and measurement has been a valuable exercise. Now it's time to let parents opt out of failing schools. Vouchers, please.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 07:00 AM
August 28, 2003
Cruz Bustamante, MEChista

The multi-culti-friendly mainstream media continues to let Cruz Bustamante cruise on by without serious challenge over his youthful membership in, and ongoing support for, MEChA. MEChA is a Chicano student organization that preaches Nazi-style racial superiority and promotes violent revolution. The more reliable media such as Michelle Malkin, Fox News and the Blogosphere continue to hammer on Bustamante's MEChA connection, which should be taken as seriously as, say, Trent Lott's affiliation with segregationists.

Here is the MEChA emblem, as it appears on the website of the group's chapter at the University of Michigan.

The emblem is defined in MEChA's National Constitution.

The official symbol of this organization shall be the eagle with its wings spread, bearing a macahuittle [sic] in one claw and a dynamite stick in the other with the lighted fuse in its beak. The acronym MEChA shall be above the symbol with the phrase "La Union Hace La Fuerza" below.
[A macahuitl was a sword used by Aztec warriors].

MEChA's El Plan Espiritual de Aztlan lists the group's "Organizational Goals", including:

economic control of our lives and our communities can only come about by driving the exploiter out of our communities, ourpueblos, and our lands and by controlling and developing our own talents, sweat, and resources. Cultural background and values which ignore materialism and embrace humanism will contribute to the act of cooperative buying and the distribution of resources and production to sustain an economic base for healthy growth and development Lands rightfully ours will be fought for and defended. Land and realty ownership will be acquired by the community for the people's welfare. Economic ties of responsibility must be secured by nationalism and the Chicano defense units.
(The "our lands" include, for example, California, Texas and Colorado) It's nationalism! It's socialism! It's national socialism! It's where Cruz Bustamante got his start in politics!
"I think the actuality of what takes place in those organizations is to provide student leadership. For me, and many, many others, we were running for student government. That's how I got here today."
And that's also why you shouldn't go any farther, Cruz.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 04:14 PM
They didn't name him "Howard Dean"

An Iraqi couple has named their 6-week-old baby boy George Bush to show their appreciation for U.S. efforts to force Saddam Hussein out of power.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:39 PM
The Education Establishment

This article confirms my suspicions about teacher union / Democratic Party opposition to school choice and vouchers. Yes, of course they're willing to sacrifice the educations of poor minority children in order to preserve jobs for middle-class white Democrats.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:30 AM
All politics are local

King County has a Primary Election on September 16. The voters' pamphlet should appear on the King County website sometime after the election is over. In the meantime, here are the highlights from the printed version [indented text is from the candidates' own statements]:

Clarke Fletcher is running for Port of Seattle Commission on the Anti-Vampirism ticket:

Like most of you I have spent my adult life toiling as a beast of burden, while the fat cat developers and corporations suck our blood.
Jean Godden is running for Seattle City Council as "that zesty old lady"
I'm a widow, a mom of two terrific sons, and a mature woman who still manages to get to aerobic classes each week.
Godden asks the question that matters most in this election:
Have the neighborhoods lost their pizzazz?
Incumbent City Councilwoman Judy Nicastro promises to give away other people's money to low-income seniors, low-income disabled people, vulnerable seniors, low-income families, the firefighters union, the neediest seniors and low-income people from other cities whom she wants to pay to move to Seattle. But unlike a saleswoman who would go out of her way to make her customers feel special, Nicastro tells her clients: "everybody else is special, but you're nothing special":
Judy is not afraid to stand up to entrenched special interests when Seattle's citizens are not being served.
Seattle City Council candidate Mike Thompson is fighting to ensure that his fellow Washingtonians will have their credit cards taken away from them:
I am sponsoring and paying for state initiative 291, which would cap credit card interest rates at 12%
Seattle City Council candidate Angel Bolanos wants us to know that
Angel holds a Masters of Public Administration, International Affairs, from the Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington.
Some free business advice, Angel: If you're going to spend $20,000 and two years of your life to have your head filled with styrofoam, you might not want to brag about it.

Socialist David Ferguson is running for Seattle City Council in order to help the world's criminals. He is for

restoring voting rights to those who have been convicted of felonies
and he
opposes threats against Iran, North Korea and Cuba
Finally, Seattle City Council candidate Robert Rosencrantz shoots himself in the foot by advocating a position that won't find many takers here in taxaholic Seattle:
Robert will make sure Seattle taxpayers receive value for their dollars. It's your money. Let's spend it wisely.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 07:01 AM
August 27, 2003
Libraries for None

In 1998, Seattle voters approved a $196 million bond measure called "Libraries For All", for the upgrade and construction of neighborhood branches, and for a new $119 million central library to be designed by superstar architect Rem Koolhaas. The central library is due to be finished later this year at a final cost of $165 million.

This week, the entire Seattle Public Library system is shut down due to a budget shortfall. Instead of "Libraries For All" this week, we have "Libraries for None". This is the third such one-week closure in 2 years. There are two dozen or so library branches around the city, you would think it would be possible to maintain a basic level of service while saving money through staggered closures, reduced hours and staff cuts. But no, the Library Board chose to punish its patrons with the most drastic and dramatic inconvenience it could think of, presumably designed to produce enough public outrage to lead to a budget increase.

The entire Library Board should be replaced over this.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 04:15 PM
Big Deals and No Big Deals

Bruce Ramsey writes in today's Seattle Times that the recent strip club campaign finance "scandal" was really no big deal

Is it a rip-off of the public?

Actually, no. It is a request by a company to park eight cars on its own property.

On the other hand,
What is outrageous ... is that a matter as trivial as a zoning waiver for this dinky piece of land becomes the biggest election issue in a city of 550,000 people.
The main reason this became the biggest election issue is that the agenda-setting Seattle Times has kept the story on its front page since early June. Credit is due to the Times for printing a self-critical editorial, however oblique it might be.

Meanwhile, the front page of today's Seattle Times trivializes what really is a big deal. The nominal big deal is that

Seattle City Councilman Jim Compton acknowledged yesterday that he flew on a private jet owned by Paul Allen and that the free flight and complimentary ticket to an NBA game "may have created an unfortunate impression."
But this isn't the real big deal. The really, really big deal is buried on page 2:
[Paul Allen's company] owns almost 50 acres in South Lake Union and hopes to develop a biotechnology hub and housing in the area. It is seeking city improvements to roads, electricity, transit and sewers that could cost taxpayers over $500 million
Jim Compton has come out in favor of the boondoggle, which the Seattle Times pretends I'm not going to have to pay for.
Much of the money would likely come from regional, state and federal sources, not Seattle taxpayers
I'm relieved to learn that as a Seattle taxpayer none of my money goes toward regional, state or federal sources.

Hopefully, the Times reporters will take a clue from Bruce Ramsey and change the subject from trivial non-issues like basketball tickets, and start asking the really important questions -- like where will the $500 million come from, what will it be spent on, and what are the people of Seattle going to get out of it?

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:14 PM
Carol Moseley Braun emerges as front-runner

Never mind all the buzz surrounding Howard Dean. A pair of key endorsements has catapulted Carol Moseley Braun into the lead.

The National Organization for Women's Political Action Committee and the National Women's Political Caucus made the unusual early endorsement as they cited Braun for her long-standing support for their issues
The National Organization for Women speaks for all of the women in the country, so we can expect at least half of all Americans to vote for Carol. I'm looking to the National Organization for Men to anoint a candidate for the rest of us.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 08:09 AM
The UN's roosting chickens

Defense attorney Alan Dershowitz finds the UN guility of nurturing the terrorism that struck the UN in Baghdad last week

For more than a quarter of a century, the U.N. has actively encouraged terrorism by rewarding its primary practitioners, legitimating it as a tactic, condemning its victims when they try to defend themselves and describing the murderers of innocent children as "freedom fighters." No organization in the world today has accorded so much legitimacy to terrorism as has the U.N.
...
There are numerous occupied peoples around the world seeking statehood or national liberation, including the Tibetans, Kurds, Turkish Armenians and Palestinians. Only one of these groups has received official recognition by the U.N., including observer status and invitations to speak and participate in committee work. That group is the one that invented and perfected modern international terrorism — namely, the Palestinians.
...
The bottom line is that the U.N. has served as an international megaphone for the perverse message that any people who feel that they are occupied have the right to resist occupation by randomly murdering innocent civilians anywhere in the world.

Now the chickens have come home to roost.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Danegerus the Dangerous Dane linked back to this post, adding an apropos UN graphic!

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 07:31 AM
Seattle P-I for Idiotarian of the Year

I was delighted to see that Charlies Johnson has nominated the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for the second annual Robert Fisk Award for Idiotarian of the Year (aka the "Fiskie"). The first Fiskie was awarded last January to Jimmy Carter.

The world has no shortage of deserving Idiotarians, but the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is especially noteworthy. Not knowing any better, I signed up for a subscription to the P-I when I moved here in May. The main op-ed in my first issue was by ... Robert Fisk! That was an auspicious omen.

It didn't take me long to switch to the Seattle Times, which has its faults and biases, but is at least a credible newspaper. Although I won't give the P-I any more of my money, it continues to supply plenty of easy fodder for the blog (click here to see a listing of my entries about the P-I). A recap of some of the P-I's recent contributions to Idiotarianism:

1) An editorial equating bulldozer shahida Rachel Corrie with the Americans who were murdered by the suicide bomber at the Hebrew University last summer.

2) An editorial that claimed that

The constitutional standard for warfare is for the United States to face a "clear and present danger."
The P-I refused to retract this astonishing fabrication.

3) An editorial that both equated flag-burner Rachel Corrie with Pfc. Jessica Lynch, and also made the unfounded claim that "photographic evidence" contradicted Israel's conclusion that Corrie's death was an accident. The P-I refused to retract their fantasy about the photographic evidence.

4) Last Monday (August 18), the day before the UN's Baghdad headquarters were bombed, the P-I published an editorial with the headline: "Time is Right for UN Role in Iraq".

While the competition for the next Fiskie will be fierce, I will take it upon myself to champion the P-I for this honor. The impending dissolution of its JOA with the Seattle Times could cause the P-I to go out of business. May it survive only long enough to receive a Fiskie.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 07:00 AM
August 26, 2003
But some terrorism will be tolerated

President George W. Bush pledged today that the United States will not relent in its war against terrorism

"No nation can be neutral in the struggle between civilization and chaos," Bush told thousands of cheering veterans at the 85th annual American Legion convention here.
But some nations can be sacrificed
The United States will forge ahead with the violence-ripped "road map" because the peace plan is the only way to bring "durable peace and security" to the Middle East, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said yesterday.

She also called on Israel to carry out its "responsibilities" to help achieve a "peaceful change."

"Responsiblities" in this case seems to mean not fighting back while civilians are being blown to smithereens.

Don't these people understand that the Islamofascists who terrorize Israel are just another branch of the same Islamofascists we're fighting in Iraq and elsewhere? Don't they understand that a lame defense of Israel only emboldens our enemies and only makes it harder for us to defeat them?

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 03:25 PM
Speakeasy.net

I don't get excited about unsolicited e-mail very often, so I thought I'd share the e-mail I received today from my DSL provider, Speakeasy.net:

Speakeasy is excited to announce that we will be reducing the base monthly pricing for your Speakeasy 1.5/768 ADSL service by 10% - which translates into $10 in savings per month! This price reduction will provide a better overall value and allow us to remain committed to excellent customer support, open networking policies, priority data routing and customer privacy.
I've had service with Speakeasy for 2 1/2 years, in two different houses in two different cities. Their service has been reliable, with few outages, they answer their phones promptly, and now they lower their prices when you least expect it! www.speakeasy.net

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:45 PM
Weekly Canard

Robert Scheer, the L.A. Times' own tax-dodging Communist real-estate mogul, is using this week's column to campaign for Cruz Bustamante.

Bustamante has the training, experience and track record required to work with the Legislature to produce a budget come January.
What kind of training does Bustamante have that makes him uniquely capable to run the world's sixth largest economy? A report in today's Christian Science Monitor says Bustamante was
A C-average student in high school ... He once studied to become a butcher, and though he started college some 30 years ago, he didn't finish until this May.
Just what California needs -- a butcher school dropout. How will he cut spending if he can't even figure out how to cut meat?

Scheer thinks it is dishonest to say that California's taxes are too high:

Schwarzenegger is betraying the public trust -- and sounding like a typical I'll-do-anything-to-win politician -- when he insists that Californians are overtaxed and promises to alleviate that condition without cutting any programs.
I managed to lower my total tax (on the same pre-tax income) by several thousand dollars simply by moving from California to Washington. My quality of life here is at least as good as it was in California and unlike San Francisco there are public schools here that I can send my kids to. What did all that money I used to mail to Sacramento buy me? I have absolutely no idea.

But Scheer pretends that the State of California is run as efficiently as possible and asks sneeringly:

Where is the fat in K-12 education or emergency-room care that Schwarzenegger will terminate?
Some examples may be found here.

Bustamante, meanwhile, thinks he can restore California's greatness by giving its productive class another reason to flee:

He wants to repeal the tripling of the car tax signed by Davis - but only for cars valued under $20,000. Then, he plans to make up the difference by increasing taxes on the rich.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:45 AM
Bad Cop, No Donut

An Israeli military court has convicted Raed Sheikh of the intentional killing of two IDF reserve soldiers during a lynch in Ramallah almost three years ago. At the time of the murder, Sheikh was a member of the Palestinian Authority police force.

According to court papers, Sheikh was among a group of both armed and unarmed Palestinian policemen who initially saw the two Israelis approach the police station in their car. After the soldiers, one of whom was in uniform, said they lost their way, two officers pointed Kalashnikov rifles at their heads and led them inside.

An angry mob armed with knives, sticks and metal pipes began gathering as the two were taken to the station commander's office. Sheikh allegedly urged the mob to wait until the soldiers were taken out of the station in a car, "and then they could kidnap the soldiers and kill them."
...
Sheikh and other policemen who took part in the murder later fled the station. The commander, Khalil Hassan, told officers not to confess to their role and claim the Israelis were killed by the mob, prosecutors said.


Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:39 AM
A Correction

In some recent postings I mentioned an incident where

Israeli troops on Friday fired at three Palestinian fugitives hiding on the roof of a hospital
My father e-mails from Jerusalem:
Aha! An error on your blog. According to Israeli radio, they were not hiding on the roof of the hospital, they were shooting from the roof of the hospital.
The Shark Blog regrets the error.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 07:02 AM
Radio Lileks

Lileks did a terrific job hosting the Hugh Hewitt show last Friday. In Monday's Bleat, he recounts the experience and dangles an intriguing possibility

That sort of radio just does itself, really. You almost feel guilty taking money for doing it. Good thing I didn’t take money! I worked for a baseball cap. And of course the chance to show I could do this sort of thing. What comes of it - well, stay tuned.
On today's Hugh Hewitt show (in addition to a history-making interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger) Hewitt mentioned a dinner at Jasperwood attended by himself and Michael Medved. And then something about Lileks deserving his own show.

Is a Lileks radio show in the works? Now that would be very cool.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 07:01 AM
Australian Balance Corporation

The taxpayer-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation is all about balance. I mentioned last year that when the ABC offered to interview Australian Israeli Arnold Roth, whose daugher Malki was murdered by a suicide bomber, it insisted on "balancing" Roth's story by interviewing the proud father of the murderer. Roth refused. Piers Akerman of the Australian Daily Telegraph gives us an update

Does [the ABC] believe there can be some "balance", some symmetry, some moral equivalence in presenting the father of a murdered teenager who spent her school holidays providing care for severely handicapped children and the father of a young man who believed it was his religious purpose to murder innocent people?
The ABC apparently does believe this
Last week, Mr Roth, who has set up the Malki Foundation to raise funds to assist families with severely retarded children in memory of his daughter's passion, arrived in Melbourne from Israel to find a message from an ABC radio producer, who had earlier asked him to be a guest on a morning program.

The note said: "I'm writing to let you know that unfortunately we are going to have to cancel arrangements to interview you Friday morning on our programme.

"Given the coverage we gave on today's programme to the latest explosion in Jerusalem, my executive producer and I agree that we will have to cancel.

"This morning we devoted considerable time to representatives from both Jewish and Palestinian organisations, and always seek to put both views forward.

The Malki Foundation helps both Jewish and Arab families.
Mr Roth says the Malki Foundation (www.kerenmalki.org) is his retaliation at those who killed his daughter.

"These people, Hamas, radiate hate," he said. "We cannot out-hate them but we can help Palestinian Arabs and show them that their strategy of hate has failed. If they choke on our aid, so be it.

"They are non-entities, when they murder they will be forgotten, but my daughter will live in the memories of those we help."

In the warped ABC culture, however, Malki Roth will be forever marked as the equivalent of murderous "martyr" Izzadin Al-Masri – all in the interests of "balance".

The Malki Foundation is at www.kerenmalki.org.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 07:00 AM
August 25, 2003
Imagine That!

1) Anti-semitism has been discovered in the upper echelons of the Catholic church.

2) Yassir Arafat has appointed a new "security advisor" in order to undermine Abu Mazen. Nevertheless, Arafat has displayed "no sign of a major clampdown on militants".

3) Al Qaeda has claimed responsibility for bombing the UN headquarters in Baghdad.

4) Indian police suspect an "outlawed Muslim students group" in today's Bombay explosion that killed 46 people.

5) Britain has detained Iran's former ambassador to Argentina for his role in the 1994 bombing of the Buenos Aires Jewish community center. As a result, Mullah #3 says Britain owes Iran an apology.

6) A North Korean "journalist" beats up a South Korean defender of freedom. North Korea asks South Korea to apologize.

7) The Seattle Post-Intelligencer thinks the President should dump the most effective member of his cabinet.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 01:22 PM
Clueless in Seattle
[source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer]Democratic presidential front runner Howard Dean was welcomed in Seattle yesterday by thousands of the most thoughtful and intelligent Democratic activists in the country
The former Vermont governor told the crowd he would offer health care to every American citizen, as many European countries do.
Perhaps Howard Dean wants a European-style health care system, like the one that killed 10,000 old people in France this summer, because he thinks it would help reduce the burden on Medicare and Social Security.
Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:02 AM
Europeaser Watch

The Europeaser Union says it will "review Hamas status"

The EU urged Israel and the Palestinians Monday to stick to the "road map" peace plan, saying it would soon decide how to deal with the militant Palestinian group Hamas which has resumed attacks.
but
There was no indication the EU was ready to put Hamas on its list of terrorist groups.
The EU has placed Hamas' military wing on the list of terrorist groups, but not the rest of Hamas, which the Europeasers say runs "clinics and schools". Yes, but clinics that are used to repair injured terrorists, and clinics that are used as terrorist hideouts:
Israeli troops on Friday fired at three Palestinian fugitives hiding on the roof of a hospital
The schools are used to train terrorists:
A second occupant [of the car full of terrorists that was destroyed in an Israeli attack Sunday], according to both Israeli and Palestinian sources was also a fairly senior Hamas operative; Palestinians identified him as Walid Alhumas and noted that he also chaired the Student Association at Gaza's Islamic University.
The Europeasers are "divided" whether to add Hamas to the list of terrorist groups
France says that blacklisting Hamas will only make negotiations with the group impossible.
Once can only imagine what sort of "negotiations" France is holding with Hamas. e.g.:
Sheikh Yassin: Our blan is to kill all the Jewish beoble by 2006.
Dominique de Villepin: Perhaps you could kill only 'alf of ze Zhews by 2006 and ze ozer 'alf by 2009?

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:36 AM
Dead Man Talking

Soon-to-be-dead Pediatrician-of-Death Abdel Aziz Rantisi says

Hamas's gloves were off.

"I see no chance of restoring the truce. Israel did not respect our initiative," he said. "So now we are returning to square one. Israel will really pay the price for this crime (killing of Abu Shanab)," Rantissi said.

"Sharon made a big mistake. He thought we were weak. No. Believe me, we can go ahead in this conflict forever."

Trash talk all you want, dead boy.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 07:00 AM
August 24, 2003
Hudna by the Numbers

David Frankfurter writes from Jerusalem:


The IDF just released some interesting statistics. Between September 2000 and August 17, 2003 there were 18,413 attacks recorded. Of these, 282 were carried out since the now defunct hudna.

In fact, the statistics proved that I exaggerated when I said in previous notes that there had been 'daily attacks' since the declaration of the hudna. The IDF statistics show that on August 7, 2003 there were no attacks. On every other day from June 29, 2003 until August 17, 2003 there were between one and 16 attacks. An average of 5.8 attacks a day.

While one could rightly say that the hudna reduced the number of attacks to one-third of the previous level, that is still a far cry from the Roadmap requirement:
Palestinians declare an unequivocal end to violence and terrorism and undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere.

In fact, immediately after declaring the full adoption of the Roadmap, Palestinian Prime Minister, Abu Mazen, declared that he would take no action against terrorists or their organisations, would not collect weapons, and would make no arrests.

The Roadmap can be added to the string of solemn commitments that the Palestinians have made and then willfully ignored.


Frankfurter sent along this graphic, which illustrates the number of daily terror attacks. It was updated on Aug. 17, before the latest bus bombing.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:58 AM
The Big One

Tom Friedman has the right answer to those who say that "the U.S. invasion of Iraq is a failure because all it's doing is attracting terrorists to Iraq and generating more hatred toward America."

The truth is exactly the opposite.

We are attracting all these opponents to Iraq because they understand this war is The Big One. They don't believe their own propaganda. They know this is not a war for oil. They know this is a war over ideas and values and governance. They know this war is about Western powers, helped by the U.N., coming into the heart of their world to promote more decent, open, tolerant, women-friendly, pluralistic governments by starting with Iraq — a country that contains all the main strands of the region: Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds.

In short, America's opponents know just what's at stake in the postwar struggle for Iraq, which is why they flock there: beat America's ideas in Iraq and you beat them out of the whole region; lose to America there, lose everywhere.

But, Friedman cautions:
We may fail, but not because we have attracted terrorists who understand what's at stake in Iraq. We may fail because of the utter incompetence with which the Pentagon leadership has handled the postwar. (We don't even have enough translators there, let alone M.P.'s, and the media network we've set up there to talk to Iraqis is so bad we'd be better off buying ads on Al Jazeera.) ... We may fail because to win The Big One, we need an American public, and allies, ready to pay any price and bear any burden, but we have a president unable or unwilling to summon either.
Ouch. I think Friedman's criticism that the Pentagon needs to do a better job is appropriate. But I wouldn't single out the president here. I also think that most of the Democrats and Friedman's colleagues in the media are doing their best to undermine not only the president but also public support for winning the Big One.

At the same time, I think some of Friedman's arguments and criticisms also apply to the administration's silly and half-hearted attempts to install Abu Mazen as the solution to Palestinian terrorism.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:46 AM
August 23, 2003
Fifty Million Frenchmen can be wrong

Theater afficionado Mark Steyn sings Cole Porter's "I Love Paris" (in the summer when it sizzles):

France isn't on the edge, it's in the abyss. When I motored round Iraq a couple of months ago, the hospital wards were well below capacity. Yet in France the entire health system – or that percentage of it not spending August at the beach – is stretched beyond its limits (35 hours a week, 44 weeks a year). Why aren't Médecins Sans Frontières demanding to be allowed in to take over?
...
In Paris this spring, a government official explained to me how Europeans had created a more civilised society than America - socialised healthcare, shorter work weeks, more holidays. We've just seen where that leads: gran'ma turned away from the hospital to die in an airless apartment because junior's sur la plage. M Chirac's somewhat tetchy suggestion that his people should rethink their attitude to the elderly was well taken. But Big Government inevitably diminishes its citizens' capacity to take responsibility, to the point where even your dead mum is just one more inconvenience the state should do something about.
Read the whole thing.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:24 AM
Another way of looking at the road map

Ze'ev Schiff gives us Another way of looking at the road map

The behavior of the Palestinians since the publication of the "road map," and particularly after the achievement of the cease-fire between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, arouses the suspicion that Israel is a partner to laying the foundations of a terrorist state to be called Palestine - a state that will in fact reach an agreement with Israel, but will continue the war against it by means of various Palestinian organizations, claiming that the conflict has not ended.
If the road map can be salvaged, it will have to be fixed:
The necessary amendments: No transition from one stage of the "map" to the next without Israel's agreement - and not the agreement of the Quartet alone. Second, whatever hasn't been implemented in one stage is not to be transferred for implementation in the next stage. Third, a Palestinian state will be established after the basic problems have been solved. And primarily, that the establishment of the state will be considered part of the elimination of the "right of return" to Israel, which is defined as a Jewish state.
Read the whole thing.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:09 AM
August 22, 2003
I have a dream...

Next Thursday marks the 40th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, where he spoke the immortal words

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character
This weekend, racial preference militants from across the country will celebrate Dr. King's vision by demanding a return to policies that judge people not by the content of their character but by the color of their skin.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 01:22 PM
Killer on the Roof

"a-way above my head, I see the strangest sight":

Israeli troops on Friday fired at three Palestinian fugitives hiding on the roof of a hospital, killing one and seriously wounding two, witnesses said.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:13 PM
Europeaser Terrorism Watch

This just in:

The Bush administration on Friday froze the assets of five European-based organizations it says raise money for the radical Palestinian group Hamas
The Treasury Dept.'s press release with the names of the organizations is here. The list includes organizations based in France, Switzerland, Britain, Austria and Lebanon. I guess the French and the Austrians, in particular, are still reluctant to confront Jew-killers in their midst.

We also learn from the press release that the White House has named the following individuals as "Specially Designated Global Terrorists":

  1. Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the leader of Hamas in Gaza.
  2. Imad Khalil Al-Alami, a member of the Hamas Political Bureau in Damascus, Syria.
  3. Usama Hamdan, a senior Hamas leader in Lebanon.
  4. Khalid Mishaal, head of the Hamas Political Bureau and Executive Committee in Damascus, Syria.
  5. Musa Abu Marzouk, Deputy Chief of the Political Bureau in Syria.
  6. Abdel Aziz Rantisi, a Hamas leader in Gaza reporting to Sheik Yassin.
What took so long?

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:38 AM
It's in the P-I

Yesterday's unsigned editorial in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (I paraphrase): "We enjoy sympathizing with Jews when they're being slaughtered, but we don't like it when they do anything to defend themselves."

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:52 AM
Must-Hear Radio

Today's radio treat: James Lileks is hosting the Hugh Hewitt Show, filling in for the bereaved Mr. Hewitt. A list of local stations and airtimes is here. It'll be like three hours of a spoken-word Bleat!

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:41 AM
Strange, but true

Israel urged the White House on Thursday to work with Al Qaeda and the remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime to crack down on Iraqi terrorism as a new wave of violence threatened efforts to stabilize Iraq.

"The United States has a right to defend herself but the U.S. needs to take into account the effect that actions they take have on the reconstruction of Iraq," Israeli spokesman Dore Gold told reporters.


Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 07:00 AM
Ruth Rosen, Psychic Medium

Ruth Rosen continues to bolster her losing arguments by having conversations with dead people. In Thursday's column, Ruth Rosen reports on her seance with California Governor Hiram Johnson, the Republican who introduced the popular referendum and the recall election back in 1911. Ruth Rosen says that Hiram Johnson told her he would oppose the recall of Gray Davis:

Although Hiram Johnson would have condemned Davis, he would have insisted on a populist recall -- not one purchased by independently wealthy Republicans conservatives intent on hijacking an election they previously had failed to win.
Sorry Ruthie, but the recall really is populist. The latest Field Poll shows that 58% of likely voters would vote to recall Davis, including 59% of non-partisan voters and 58% of those who describe themselves as neither Conservative nor Liberal, but "Middle-of-the-Road".

Next week, we can expect Ruth Rosen to have a chat with Samuel Gompers, who will tell us that his famous quote "We want more schoolhouses and less jails" means that he would support a governor who increases the prison budget while cutting education spending.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 07:00 AM
August 21, 2003
Lemony Goodness

What do you do when life hands you a warm paper cup of insipid fake lemonade? Pour it on the sidewalk in front of the kid who sold it to you for a quarter, and then go eat a real lemon.

Hat tip: The Relapsed Catholic

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 06:46 PM
Schwarzenegger proves Mencken right

H.L Mencken is attributed with various statements along the lines of: "No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public" and "There is no underestimating the intelligence of the American public"

Arnold Schwarzenegger made his fortune starring in films such as "Junior", "Kindergarten Cop" and "Conan the Barbarian"

Arnold Schwarzenegger will probably be elected governor of California by campaigning on the following platform:

[Schwarzenegger] contended in response to questions that he did not have to be specific before the election.

"The public doesn't care about figures," he said. "They've heard figures for the last five years, figures and graphs and percentages and all those kinds of things. What the people want to hear is, 'Are you going to make the changes? Are you tough enough to go in there and provide leadership?' That's what this is about, and I will be tough enough."

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 01:52 PM
Asinine Headline File

I've long known that the word asinine means silly, foolish or idiotic. (Webster's defines it as "marked by inexcusable failure to exercise intelligence or sound judgment" giving the example of "an asinine excuse". But it was only today that I discovered that the word literally means "having the qualities of an ass".

Today's asinine headline from the Ass. Press reads: Hamas Abandons Truce After Israeli Strike.

Gosh, I thought they abandoned the "truce" before Wednesday's bus bombing for which they took responsibility. No, wait. They abandoned the "truce" before last week's suicide bombing for which they took responsibility. Hold on, they actually abandoned the "truce" a month ago when they announced their refusal to disarm. Oops, I'm sorry, they never abandoned the "truce" because there never was any "truce". It was only a three-month hudna (=chance to regroup) before starting another killing spree. But these guys are apparently too addicted to Jew-killin' to hold it in for even that long.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:17 PM
Seattle Times Hypocrisy Watch

Yesterday I mentioned a Seattle Times editorial that bemoaned Seattle's segregated neighborhoods and called for racial discrimination in school assignments on the grounds that

Colorblind school assignments would render our schools as segregated as our communities
(emphasis mine) I chided editorial page editor James Vesely for writing this editorial at a time when he traded in his house in an overwhelmingly White suburb for an even Whiter subdivision of the same suburb. Well, it turns out it was unfair of me to single out James Vesely. Similar observations would apply to all of his colleagues on the Seattle Times editorial board.

Seattle, recall, is 70% White and 8% Black. On the other hand --

Publisher and CEO Frank Blethen lives in Mercer Island (84% White, 1.1% Black) in a census tract which is 79% White and 0.9% Black.
Editorial Page Editor James Vesely lives in Mercer Island in a census tract which is 86% White and 1.2% Black.
Robert Blethen and William Blethen both live in Bellevue (74% White, 2% Black) in a census tract which is 87% White and 1.1% Black.
The only editorial board member who actually lives in Seattle is Carolyn Kelly, who lives in a census tract which is 89% White and 1.1% Black.

(How do they get away with referring to Seattle's schools and neighborhood as "our" when only one of them actually lives here? -- Ed.)

But it's not just the White folks who run the paper who praise integration while living in segregated neighborhoods. Jerry Large, an African-American columnist who frequently writes about race issues, also laments segregated neighborhoods and favors racial discrimination to achieve integrated schools:

We are as self-interested as the next family, but part of our self-interest is the health of the overall society. There is a trade-off. Because we see racial integration as a positive, we are willing to make a sacrifice in order to gain for the society the benefits of greater integration.
But the Larges, as much as they claim to favor racial integration, choose to live in a neighborhood that is 37% White and 27% Black. It serves integration for a White person (but not a Black person) to move into such a neighborhood (think about it this way -- if all the Black people lived in neighborhoods where their representation was three times their proportion in the overall population, then 2/3 of the neighborhoods could not have any Black residents at all). If the Larges really wanted to help integrate the city, they would settle in one of its many predominantly White neighborhoods.

Of course, the Blethens and the Larges have every right to live wherever they want, and for whatever reason -- whether it's for the view of the lake or because they're simply more comfortable living around people who look like themselves. I don't care one way or another where any of these folks choose to live. But since they all chose to live in racially lop-sided neighborhoods or suburbs, they look pretty silly calling for state-sponsored discrimination to integrate schools in a city where few of them even live.



Sources: King County Recorders Office, US Census Bureau

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 07:00 AM
August 20, 2003
Generalissimo Davis

Gray Davis has been behaving like the dictator of a South American banana republic.

August 20:

Venezuela's Hugo Chavez on Wednesday brushed off demands for a referendum on his controversial presidency and called the drive by his opponents to oust him a "mockery."

In an interview with The Associated Press, Chavez challenged the legitimacy of a new petition for a recall vote, saying many of the signatures were forgeries.

July 15:
The campaign to oust Gov. Gray Davis moved into its second critical stage Monday: Recall supporters announced they have collected nearly double the signatures needed, and Davis' allies vowed to file a lawsuit today challenging how they were gathered.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 01:50 PM
Rule of Law, Palestinian Style

Palestinian "Prime Minister" Mahmoud Abbas and his "cabinet" met today to discuss a "response" to yesterday's suicide bombing in Jerusalem.

The Palestinian Cabinet did not announce a decision after its two-hour session, except to say the rule of law in the West Bank and Gaza Strip would be enforced. The final say is up to Yasser Arafat and top PLO officials, who will meet later Wednesday with ministers.
Part of the problem might be ceding to Yasser Arafat and the PLO the ad-hoc authority to determine "rule of law".

One can always hope the Israelis will offer a solution to this problem:

Israeli officials chose to strike militants regardless of what the Palestinian Authority does, a security official said on condition of anonymity. The raids were expected to begin later Wednesday. A column of 13 Israeli tanks was seen lining up outside the West Bank town of Ramallah
A good place to start might be here.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 01:05 PM
Don't Blame Me

I wasn't even in California when this happened.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:14 PM
Smart Cartoon

I don't have the opportunity to say this very often, but here is an editorial cartoon which demonstrates an accurate understanding of the Middle East.

from Eric Devericks of the Seattle Times

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:08 PM
Predictions

It is always risky to make predictions, but I'm going to go out on a limb here and make a few predictions.

News Item: A suicide bomber on Tuesday killed 20 people at U.N. headquarters in Baghdad
Prediction: Ariel Sharon will not issue a public call for Kofi Annan to act with restraint.

News Item: Bob Ferguson is running for King County Council on the slogan "Time for a Change"
Prediction #1: If elected, Bob Ferguson, the one-time Executive Director of the King County Democratic Party, will not make any noticeable changes. Neither will any of the tens of thousands of other candidates for offices great and small who are all campaigning on the "time for change" platform.
Prediction #2: There will not be any candidates this season campaigning on the slogan "It's time to keep everything the same".

News Item: Palestinian-American Sam Bahour opened a new shopping mall near the West Bank city of Nablus this week.
Prediction: We will not see any religious Jews dressed up as Arabs blowing themselves up in the entrance to the mall.

News Item: The Seattle Times editorial page bemoans the fact that "Seattle continues to be a city marked by racially segregated neighborhoods" and calls for racial preferences in school assignments, because "Colorblind school assignments would render our schools as segregated as our communities". Meanwhile, editorial page editor James Vesely apparently thinks that integration is an exercise best left to his readers. Vesely lives in the Seattle suburb of Mercer Island, which, according to the US Census Bureau, is 84% White and 1% Black -- a bit more, uh, segregated than Seattle, which is 70% White and 8% Black. Vesely moved into a new home earlier this year. Census data suggest that his old block had 5 Black residents, while his new block doesn't have any Black residents at all.
Prediction 1: The Seattle Times will continue to call for racial preferences to integrate the Seattle Public Schools.
Prediction 2: None of the Seattle Times' White editors will move his or her family into a predominantly Black neighborhood this year.

News Item: House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi calls Bush's tax cuts a "reckless tax-cutting binge" and says that this policy "shortchanges working families to help the wealthy"
Prediction: Nancy Pelosi and her fellow House Democrats will not be donating their own tax rebates to the Bureau of the Public Debt.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 07:00 AM
August 19, 2003
Weekly Canard

In this week's column, Robert Scheer takes on California's Proposition 13, the 1978 ballot measure which strictly limits property tax increases. Headline: A higher tax on all your houses. A more honest headline might be "A higher tax on all my houses", because Robert Scheer and his wife own at least three houses, while most of the rest of us own at most one house. Prop. 13 is in the news again, because Warren Buffett, in his role as Arnold Schwarzenegger's economic advisor suggested last week that California's property taxes are too low.

There are legitimate criticisms of Prop. 13. As a recently former California homeowner, I agree with those who say that Prop. 13 gives the state a silly property tax structure. Not so much for the aggregate amount of tax revenue collected, but for the way the burden is unevenly distributed. Because property values are reassessed to market value only at the time of a sale, there is an enormous advantage to long-term owners at the expense of those who enter or re-enter the market. It is precisely a form of rent control with the same undesirable side effects. Do you want to give young entrepreneurs with growing families a reason to leave California to start their businesses elsewhere? Prop. 13 is the solution for you!

Scheer, inexplicably, resorts to the politics of resentment and class warfare:

Proposition 13 must be changed because it mainly benefits the rich -- most of whom are now running for governor, it would seem. The proposition was sold as salvation for poor widows, but the law makes no distinction between commercial and residential properties, thereby artificially lowering the tax on profitable enterprises. Leave the tax break for homeowners with low and fixed incomes, but Buffett is right -- guys like him should pay more taxes than they do.
Since Robert Scheer brought this up, I think it's only fair to observe that although he plays a populist class warrior on television, Robert Scheer is actually one of those rich people who benefits as much from Prop. 13 as anybody else in the state. And if Robert Scheer believes that guys like himself should pay more taxes than they do, why doesn't Robert Scheer start by paying more taxes himself?

A peek into the public property records of Los Angeles and Alameda counties shows that Robert Scheer and his wife, Narda Zacchino, own the following properties:
a) A 3 bedroom, 3 bath 1902 sq. ft. condo on 15th St. in Santa Monica, purchased in 1992 for $555,000, with a current assessed value of $664,345.
b) A 3 bedroom, 3 bath 1722 sq ft. condo on W 1st ST. in downtown Los Angeles, purchased in 2000 for $380,000 with a current assessed value of $395,351.
c) A 10 bedroom, 4 bath 3754 sq ft. "single family dwelling converted into a boarding house" on Forest Ave. in Berkeley, purchased in 1979 with a current assessed value of $198,564

I'd say that Bob has done pretty well for himself. Especially since the fair market value of his properties is probably closer to $2 million than to their assessed value of $1.26 million. And even though he sounds vaguely envious of those who

take out the untaxed increased equity in their homes through low-interest refinancing and second-mortgage loans
the public records show that Mr. and Mrs. Robert Scheer have refinanced their various homes on numerous occasions.

I don't begrudge Robert Scheer his success. On the contrary, I read his own descriptions of his early life -- he was born to a poor, unwed immigrant mother, and he was dismissed in school as "dumb and slow" back in the days before his dyslexia was well understood -- and I think what a great country that someone who faced such challenges early in life could grow up to be a famous journalist and the owner of three houses. That's as good of a true-life Horatio Alger story as any I've ever heard. Not least because Scheer has been able to buy real estate in Berkeley since at least as early as 1969 when he only 33 years old and earning what was presumably a meager salary as the editor of an underground Communist newspaper.

One would think that Scheer would use his bully pulpit to find something nice to say about the United States and its capitalist system which has given him so much in exchange for so little. Or that he would at least drop his class warfare shtick long enough to tell his readers honestly, "Yes, I own millions of dollars worth of property. I'm grateful for my good life.". Or that if he wants the rest of us to pay higher taxes, he could set an example and voluntarily donate some extra money to the government along with his tax payments.

Or at the very least he could pay all the taxes that he owes, on time and in full. The Los Angeles County Treasurer tells us that he owes some back taxes on the Santa Monica condo; Alameda County tells us that he had a federal tax lien back in 1976 (released later the same year) and that he still has an unreleased city tax lien from 2000.


Sources: Alameda County Clerk, Alameda County Treasurer, Los Angeles County Assessor; Robert Scheer's various addresses may be found by doing a WHOIS search for robertscheer.com and by searching the Yahoo! white pages

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 04:44 PM
Nice job, Bill

I'm getting hammered today by virus e-mails and also showing an unusually high number of scans for TCP port 135. All of this is courtesy of the World's Most Valuable Software Company. If you consider this stuff a form of pollution and also look at the other externalities caused by Microsoft, the net economic value of Microsoft is somewhat less than its lofty market cap would suggest.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:01 PM
A joke that is more sad than funny

From a recent Jerusalem Post editorial

"Cannibals capture three hunters an American, a Briton, and an Israeli," begins a classic Israeli joke. The first two hunters make last requests typical to their nationalities, then it is the Israeli's turn. He asks that he be punched in the face.

The surprised cannibal grants the wish, at which point the Israeli pulls out a gun, shoots the chief, and frees himself and his friends. The American and Briton, furious, demand to know why he prolonged their terrifying experience when he had the power to free them all. The Israeli replies: "What? Are you mad? The UN would have condemned me as the aggressor."

Read the whole thing.

And then go check the Jerusalem Post home page for the latest update on the "Roadmap to Peace".

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:48 AM
Bring on the Blue Hats?

Well I guess this puts the kaibosh on the Seattle Post Intelligencer's visionary scheme for the UN to play a larger role in Iraq.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:09 AM
Cod Piece

Codfish biographer Mark Kurlansky has an op-ed in Monday's Los Angeles Times, but his argument is a bit fishy.

Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia bears a warning: Superpowers that turn bully risk self-destruction
Fair enough, but why the conclusion that
If the Bush administration ever wanted to reflect on history, it might think about this.
He doesn't tell us how Bush's foreign policy resembles Brezhnev's foreign policy, but everyone except the Scheerians in the audience should quickly grasp the difference:
Suddenly, Czechoslovakians were free to travel, their press was free to report on what it wanted in the way it wanted and their labor unions and agricultural associations were free to criticize government policy. What they had in mind was the creation of a Communist democracy, Marx's ideal made real. It came to be called the Prague Spring.
Yes, Brezhnev had his Prague Spring and Bush had his Baghdad Spring. But the difference is that in Prague, all those freedoms led to the invasion, while in Baghdad it was the other way around.
When the Soviet Union finally came apart more than 20 years later, Western observers were shocked. They had already forgotten 1968. But at the time of the invasion even Time magazine predicted its fall: It was the end of heroic Russia. A country widely admired because it had dared to stand alone and build a socialist society, because it protected other socialist countries, because its citizens had been sacrificed by the millions to rid Europe of fascism had become, simply, a bully that crushed small countries.
The Soviet Union may have been "widely admired", but that doesn't mean it wasn't a bully decades before 1968. Kurlansky closes:
A superpower that no longer stands for anything, that no one believes in anymore, that is seen only as a bully, will fall despite its military might. If the Bush administration ever wanted to reflect on history, it might think about this.
A "superpower that no longer stands for anything" should find itself in trouble, but the United States stands for a great many things. Like freedom of the press, in Baghdad, as well as in Los Angeles, where Mark Kurlansky can write whatever he wants in his op-ed, even if it is silly or wrong. Soviet Russia was never that heroic.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 07:00 AM
August 18, 2003
An expensive way to say "Hi"

NPR's Kate Seelye reports on "Hi" magazine. Hi is a new Arabic language magazine, published by the State Department and marketed in the Arab world, with the aim of shaping a more positive view of the United States in the Middle East. The State Department is spending more than $4 million on the project, but as you might expect, Arab consumers (or at least the ones that Kate Seelye was looking for) are not fully impressed.

In a working class neighborhood of Beirut, several college students perused the magazine outside a local snack shop. Twenty-year-old Hassan Moustafa said the content seemed rather familiar and not terribly challenging. "I would be more interested if the magazine talked about why Americans support Israel or why they did what they did in Iraq."
Good point. The State Department doesn't have to spend $4 million to do this. All they need to do is to translate Lileks [scroll down and look for "Israel"] into Arabic.
Moustafa says it's clear to him that Americans know nothing about Arabs. He says what's really needed is not another magazine marketing American culture to Arabs, but rather a publication which informs Americans about the Arab world.
Another good point. Fortunately, such a resource already exists.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 05:13 PM
Gray Davis Charm Offensive

The Washington Post reports that Davis Turns On a Charm Offensive

Shadowed by the threat of being thrown out of office in a historic recall vote, Davis is constantly bounding into public view these days to court stalwart but disenchanted Democratic constituencies across the state with a relentless, and rare, charm offensive.
Among other charming give-aways, Gray Davis
is reversing position on other divisive issues -- saying, for example, that he now supports giving driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants, which delights Latino leaders
But most other California voters, I suspect, would consider that sort of "charm" offensive.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 04:32 PM
Bring on the Blue Hats!

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has not yet seen the evidence that the United Nations is not the world's repository of competence and virtue. Yesterday's editorial: Time is right for U.N. role in Iraq

The Bush administration decided that the United States didn't need the United Nations to wage war on Iraq and seems to have also decided that we don't need U.N. help to rebuild Iraq. Both decisions seem increasingly wrong.
If the Bush administration had decided that the United States needed the United Nations' approval to remove Saddam Hussein from power, then Saddam Hussein would still be in power. Perhaps that is why the Seattle Post-Intelligencer feels that it was wrong to remove Saddam Hussein from power over the United Nations' objections.

If the United Nations were to rebuild Iraq with the same virtue and competence that it has demonstrated in other troubled parts of the world, we could expect that:
a) UN personnel would be involved in the sex trade, as they were in Bosnia and East Timor
b) UN personnel would moonlight as black marketeers, as they did during the siege of Sarajevo
c) UN "troops" would sit on their hands while hundreds of thousands of civilians are massacred, as happened in Rwanda.
d) UN "troops" would stay on the sidelines and watch a group of terrorists infiltrate a border and kidnap some people. They would also suppress the evidence, as they did in an incident at the Israel-Lebanon border.
e) The UN would keep displaced people and their descendents in "refugee camps" for more than 50 years, and sit and watch while the "refugees" turn the "refugee camps" into terrorist camps, as they have with the Palestinians.
f) The UN would appoint a member of the Ba'ath Party to head its security committee.
g) The UN would appoint a human rights abuser to be its human rights watchdog.

Okay, maybe I'm being too harsh on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Maybe they're not a bunch of ignorant dopes. Maybe they're familiar with the United Nations and approve of all of the above accomplishments.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:18 PM
Carpe Diem

The Zayed International Centre for Co-ordination and Follow-up is closing. Damn. I knew I should have gone there pretending to be Jürgen Möllemann when I had the chance.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:57 AM
Site of the Week!

A big thank you to Joseph Alexander Norland and Israpundit for naming the Shark Blog Site of the Week. Read Norland's interview of me, in which I tell all and also say flattering things about Charles Johnson, Joanne Jacobs, Tim Blair, James Lileks, Kesher Talk, Imshin and Die Zeit. I also mention Robert Scheer and the San Francisco Chronicle.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 07:00 AM
August 17, 2003
But some terrorism is okay

Fred Lapides is intrigued by this BBC report .

Saudi clerics condemn terrorism
Leading clerics in Saudi Arabia have issued a religious ruling, or fatwa, saying that terror attacks by Islamic extremists are "serious criminal acts".
Sounds great! The Saudi clerics are our new allies in the war against terrorism! Well, not exactly. A careful reading of the piece also reveals that
The Council of Senior Clerics said it fully backed the Saudi authorities in their campaign against those who were carrying out acts of sabotage, bombing and murder in the country.
By implication, we should assume that acts of sabotage, bombing and murder outside of Saudi Arabia are okay. Go and re-read my earlier correspondence with a Saudi official and you'll see what I mean.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:16 PM
August 16, 2003
Oh, That Liberal Media

What sort of journalist other than a viscerally liberal journalist would deem it "controversial" for a Republican candidate to have expressed admiration for other Republican politicians? Peter Hartlaub, of the San Francisco Chronicle writes:

Some of [Schwarzenegger's] more controversial statements have delved into politics.

"When I came to this country, I was in heaven, because Richard Nixon was president and Reagan was governor of California," Schwarzenegger told Playboy in 1988. "I said, 'This is great. This is right up my alley.' "

Perhaps Hartlaub thinks it is controversial that someone in 1988 would have praised Nixon, who resigned in 1974 because of Watergate. But all Schwarzenegger did was to describe his feelings upon his arrival to the United States, years before Watergate and at a time when Nixon had wide support.

On the other hand, the one part of the statement that really was potentially controversial -- a factual error -- seems to have been lost on Hartlaub. Nixon was not, in fact, the President when Schwarzenegger came to the United States. Schwarzenegger arrived here in 1968. Nixon became President in 1969.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:53 AM
Marion the Disciplinarian

The new town librarian in Concrete, Washington turns out to also be the town dominatrix

Shahan, hired in June to run this little town's new library, made headlines earlier this week when her private life as Lady Jane Grey was made public in the Skagit Valley Herald.

Lady Jane Grey, Shahan's alias, is the star of a kinky Web site that describes her as "sadistic, yet caring" and promises "she will transform you into a weak-willed toy for her pleasure."

The kinky Web site has since been taken off line. The people of Concrete question whether a person with interesting sexual habits should have educational responsibilities
"If she can keep that business to herself, and her private life doesn't interfere with her job, that's one thing. But if she associates with kids." McAdam paused. "I don't know if I'd want to see children influenced by someone with that kind of behavior."
Relax, Mr. McAdam. In our country, people with all kinds of questionable backgrounds are given educational responsibilities. For example, the ranking member of the United States Senate's education committee was expelled from Harvard for cheating and went on to kill a woman with whom he was having an extra-marital affair. He now makes only positive contributions to the world of education.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:05 AM
Libya

The Associated Press reports:

The Bush administration will maintain U.S. sanctions against Libya despite the country's acceptance of responsibility for the bombing of a Pan Am jetliner in 1988.
Despite? One would think that establishing Libya's culpability in an act of mass murder would strengthen not weaken the case for maintaining sanctions.

Libya, which has been implicated in several other acts of terrorism, including the 1986 bombing of a Berlin disco and the 1989 bombing of a French airliner, was recently elected chairman of the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 07:00 AM
August 15, 2003
Cleveland, City of Light

Cleveland faces worst-ever water crisis

CLEVELAND -- From beauty salons to homes to hospitals, people relied on bottled water Friday after an epic power outage sparked one of the worst water crises in the city's history.
At least the water isn't likely to catch fire this time.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 06:56 PM
Steal this newspaper

The Hearst Corp. offered the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for sale Thursday but said it still hopes to retain ownership of its 140-year-old newspaper by prevailing in a dispute with the Seattle Times over the Joint Operating Agreement. Unfortunately,

The chances of finding a qualified buyer in Seattle are similarly slim, according to experts in the valuation and sale of newspapers.
As far as I can tell, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is currently being run by a whole building full of unqualified people. If Hearst is a motivated seller, why should they raise their standards all of a sudden?

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:57 AM
What color is your backhoe driver?

It is an explicit violation of Washington law to award public contracts and jobs on the basis of race, but that's exactly what the prime contractor for Seattle's new light rail system has been required to do.

Kiewit initially awarded work totaling 0.2 percent on one contract and 0.3 percent on the other contract. After board members and the black community indicated their dissatisfaction, Kiewit increased it to 0.8 percent on both contracts, or about $800,000 worth of work.

Since July 24, when the board declined to award the contracts, Kiewit added three more black firms to its roster, adding $2.4 million. The total now going to black subcontractors is $3.2 million, or more than 3 percent of the work.

In other words, about $3 million in public funds will now be going to firms that failed to meet the objective standards for receiving sub-contracts.

In addition, there is also a "project labor agreement" with several labor unions, in violation of a presidential executive order.

Kiewit said it would voluntarily adhere to the agreement anyway. The labor agreement calls for a minimum of 21 percent of the work to be performed by people of color and 12 percent to be performed by women.
But the adherence isn't exactly voluntary, because Sound Transit had refused to award the contract without it.

My only question is, what happens if there aren't enough willing "people of color" available to fill the quota? The only solution that comes to mind is a little, uh, old-fashioned.


Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:13 AM
Who will they sue?

First, they sued Philip Morris for giving cancer to unsuspecting smokers.

Now, they are suing McDonald's for causing obesity in unsuspecting cheeseburger eaters.

Next, are they going to sue La-Z-Boy for causing laziness in unsuspecting couch potatoes?

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:30 AM
NERC

Here's a man who's getting to, uh, enjoy his fifteen minutes of fame:

"We will get to the bottom of this and fix it," Michehl Gent, president of the North American Electric Reliability Council, told ABCNEWS' Good Morning America today. "We will not cover anything up. We'll name names [to] find out what happened."

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 09:43 AM
Emperor Arnold

I came back from lunch on Thursday all excited to make fun of a hysteroid editorial by Knute Berger in the Aug. 13 Seattle Weekly

What's going on in California has to be seen in context...I am not imagining that our crazy times are being made crazier by those who are trying to stamp out dissent and remake this country in one image.

It is no less than an effort to turn America into the tyranny of a single mind, a single purpose, a single voice, a single party. It is the domestic version of the new imperial foreign policy ... The California recall isn't about the candidates, it's about disrupting democracy when it doesn't give the "right" answers.

It takes a special kind of person, I thought, to attribute the California recall to Bush's "imperial foreign policy", instead of, say, spontaneous popular disgust with the Man in the Gray Flannel Hairdo who concealed a $35 billion budget deficit.

And then I get an e-mail from the Combustible Boy who alerts me to this Aug. 8 editorial by Mao-enhanced Berkeley professor emeritus Franz Schurmann: California Recall Shows America's One-Party Politics of Empire

Since the previous presidential election of 2000, the USA has morphed into an empire. As a result, the political stakes are even higher than before. Now, for the American empire to function optimally, the winning party has to win it all -- the presidency, both houses of Congress and governorship of most of the states, especially the big ones. California leads the pack.
Did Knute Berger plagiarize from Franz Schurmann, or is it par for the course that a professor who's been at Berkeley for 47 years should write the same essay as an editorial writer at a B-list alternative weekly newspaper?

FOOTNOTE: Franz Schurmann has an impressive track record. In April 2002, he trumpeted the Jenin "massacre", along with the rest of the Arab media. He later ignored the finding that the Jenin "massacre" was actually a hoax, along with the rest of the Arab media. Immediately post-9/11 he wrote that including the Taliban in the global coalition against terrorism

could become the most significant move towards global unity since the United Nations Organization was created in San Francisco on June 26, 1945
Indeed it would have.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 07:00 AM
August 14, 2003
Happy Birthday, Fidel

Today's Associated Press story, published by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Charleston Post and Courier and elsewhere is headlined Fidel Castro marks 77th birthday as unchallenged Cuban leader

Unchallenged? Not exactly. He has many challengers, and he responds to his challengers with Communist hospitality.

The P-I's version of the story tells us who helps Fidel defend himself from his challengers:

The EU is Cuba's largest trade, aid and investment partner.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 05:08 PM
Power Outages

Early CBS radio report of major power outages in the Northeast affecting New York, Detroit, Toronto, Ottawa, Cleveland, Toledo, Albany, Syracuse and other cities. Reports of a fire at a Con-Ed plant in NYC. No information on the underlying cause.

Terrorism? Who knows yet, the Great Northeast Blackout of 1965 wasn't caused by terrorism, but this is a different world.

CNN now has has a report.

Subsequent CBS radio reports say most likely cause is overloaded grid, no indication of terrorism or foul play.

FERC says "no terrorism".

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 01:59 PM
A fine DeLay

Today's Seattle Post-Intelligencer carried Jan Jarboe Russell's column DeLay poisons Mideast peace process Russell says that:

DeLay, a fundamentalist Christian who is by definition unreasonable, is not interested in any modern maps of the Mideast
as opposed, I suppose, to the reasonable fundamentalist Muslims whose modern map of the Mideast looks like this one.
When DeLay went to Israel and spoke to the Knesset, he criticized Bush's proposal for a Palestinian homeland. In addition, he compared the Palestinians' current capital to Auschwitz, Pyongyang and the Gulag.
Hey, give DeLay more credit. He also appropriately compared Ramallah to Havana, Tehran, Beijing, Baghdad and Damascus.
[DeLay] also supports what Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon calls the "transfer" of Palestinians from the West Bank, a provocative move that many Arabs compare to ethnic cleansing.
It's funny how Russell associates the concept of "transfer" to Ariel Sharon, because even though Ariel Sharon calls "transfer" "transfer" he does not support "transfer". Kind of like when Jan Jarboe Russell calls "Tom DeLay" "Tom DeLay" even though she doesn't support Tom DeLay. On the other hand, Tom DeLay may or may not support what Jan Jarboe Russell calls "transfer". I can't find any public statements where Tom DeLay expresses his support for "transfer", only a number of loony-left opinion pieces that stem from a single news article which reported that Tom DeLay gave a speech at an event where one of the subsequent speakers expressed support for "transfer".

Perhaps Jan Jarboe Russell is most disturbed by the fact that DeLay is one of the rare American politicians who is unafraid to be realistic about the Middle East:

"In my opinion, you've got to change a generation before you can have a peaceful state that can live side by side with Israel," DeLay declared.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:35 PM
Imagine that!

Ha'aretz reports that Security sources question hudna's viability

Security sources in Israel on Wednesday appeared somewhat pessimistic about the continuation of the hudna after Tuesday's suicide bombings in Rosh Ha'ayin and Ariel. "If the current trend continues, the hudna will merely have been a temporary interlude before the next round of violence," a senior source said. "At the moment, the likelihood of another round seems high."

The major reason for pessimism, apart from the continual erosion of the cease-fire, is the Palestinian Authority's obvious weakness. Israelis are becoming increasingly frustrated by the fact that Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and his security affairs minister, Mohammed Dahlan, are not able to "deliver the goods."


Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 07:00 AM
Islamic Diplomacy

Ha'aretz reports that

An Argentine judge on Wednesday ordered the arrest of eight Iranian officials implicated in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center that killed 85 people, court documents said.

Federal Judge Juan Jose Galeano asked Interpol to arrest the eight - including Hadi Soleimanpour, Iran's ambassador to Argentina at the time of the car bomb attack - after seeking the capture and extradition of five other diplomats earlier this year.

And here I thought that diplomats were the people responsible for portraying their government in the best possible light. Then again, that's exactly what these guys did.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 07:00 AM
August 13, 2003
Take a stand, George

Spokane Congressman George Nethercutt, the presumptive GOP nominee to challenge Sen. Patty Murray next year, is afraid to take a firm stance against racial discrimination. When Nethercutt was asked this weekend whether he voted for I-200 [the successful 1998 ballot measure that banned racial discrimination by Washington government agencies], he replied:

"In my congressional career I have always been inclusive."

Asked again, he said: "I don't know if that is important. That was four years ago. I'm not a quota person."

Asked a final time, he said: "I don't think it's anybody's business how I voted."

Nethercutt would probably be a better senator than Patty Murray, but it's hard to believe that in 2003, a representative of the party of Lincoln could be that reluctant to denounce racial discrimination.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 03:20 PM
Jihadis Without Borders

Today's Seattle Times reports that

Two Pakistani men are being held in Seattle after an airline employee at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport found one of their names on a terrorism-related no-fly list Saturday night.

One of the men, 36, carrying a British Columbia driver's license, paid cash for a one-way ticket to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport. After the airline employee called 911, the man left the counter, abandoning his ticket.

The other man, 29, who had a New York driver's license, also paid cash for a one-way ticket to Kennedy Airport on a different airline, police reports show.

After their arrests, the men told investigators they paid to be smuggled into [Washington state] from Canada last month, two sources said.

Some friendly advice to all aspiring al-Qaeda sleepers: After you successfully infiltrate into the United States, avoid getting on airplanes where you might be detected. Instead, why not hang out in Seattle, where the city government will celebrate and protect you.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:59 PM
Latte Tax

Among the loonier ballot initiatives to inflict a major city of late is Seattle's Initiative 77, which seeks to impose a 10¢ a glass tax on espresso beverages to fund nursery schools (drip coffee, diet colas and hot cocoa remain untaxed, statutory public education remains underfunded).

Should this measure succeed, we can expect a whole slew of hilarious non-sequitur taxes, such as:

A 5¢ per spud tax on Yellow Finn potatoes to give women, minorities and undocumented immigrants free oil changes (for their automobiles).

A 68¢ per mile tax on nude bicycle racing to support programs that teach single mothers how to defend themselves from falling lava.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:10 PM
Santa Claus Healthcare

Today's Seattle Times reports on a group of physicians who seek to eliminate all forms of rationality from the US health care system:

The doctors back abolishing health-insurance companies in favor of a single-payer public-health plan, phasing out all for-profit hospitals and clinics and using tax money to give all Americans an insurance card entitling them to medical services and prescription drugs without copayments and deductibles.
And maybe Santa Claus will pay for it all.
[John Geyman, professor emeritus of family medicine at the University of Washington] and his fellow authors are mounting a vigorous defense against what they called propaganda that equates national insurance with rationing and subpar medical quality.
I'm sure he can dispel all that propaganda with reams of data from Canada and Britain.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:27 AM
Fools, 192 Proof

Here in Seattle, I just learned, we have an organization called Foolproof Performing Arts. The Foolproof 2003-2004 lecture series includes Molly Ivins, Michael Moore, and Bill Clinton. How are any of their fans going to get into the fool-proof auditorium?

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:02 AM
People in White Hoods
Palestinian women from the radical Islamic group Hamas march during a rally calling for the release of the Palestinian terrorists held in Israel, in the West Bank town of Nablus, Wednesday Aug. 13, 2003. (AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh) Ku Klux Klan members in Oxford, New Jersey
Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 09:13 AM
August 12, 2003
Weekly Canard

Robert Scheer devotes this week's column to the California recall election.

"Take him, he's yours."
That was my initial response to the California recall, aimed at a conservative Democratic governor who often has betrayed the state's large progressive base of voters -- the same folks who held their noses to elect and then reelect him.
Gray Davis was endorsed in his first gubernatorial primary (1998) by the ultra liberal Americans for Democratic Action. Those "progressives" for whom Gray Davis is too "conservative" consist mainly of Robert Scheer and a handful of other geriatric hippies from the Kim Il-Sung fan club.

Scheer goes on to blame George W Bush and the Republicans for the California energy crisis, which, as we discovered a few weeks ago, took place while Gray Davis was governor and Bill Clinton was president.

He also blames California's budget woes on Republican tax cuts. On the other hand, while Robert Scheer earns a fine income by writing that other people should pay more than their fair share of taxes, Robert Scheer doesn't always pay his own taxes. (Go to the Los Angeles County Tax Collector Delinquent Tax Roll page and look up Robert Scheer's condominium at 837 15th St. Unit C, Santa Monica, Assessor ID #4281-008-056)

Next, the not very Christian Robert Scheer gives us some surprising reasons why he is supporting Gray Davis over Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Ironically, Schwarzenegger is as "liberal" as Davis on the hot-button issues of abortion, gun control and gay rights. And can anyone suggest that Hollywood bon vivant Schwarzenegger better typifies Christian values than squeaky-clean Davis
The fact that many California Republicans support Schwarzenegger is consistent with the observations that (a) not all California Republicans are Christian conservatives, and (b) not all Christian conservatives vote solely for other Christian conservatives. This demonstrates that the openminded diversity of the California Republicans is exceeded only by the shrill hypocrisy of Robert Scheer, who also reminds us that Gray Davis was
a decorated officer in Vietnam when his peers were demonstrating in the streets
along with Robert Scheer.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:48 AM
Seattle Strip Club Saga

The Seattle City Council voted yesterday to overturn its previous vote that would have permitted a strip club to expand an existing parking lot.

10,000 foot recap -- the council members voted to approve the parking lot after receiving an unusually large amount of campaign contributions from the strip club owner and his friends. Council members insist that the campaign contributions did not influence their votes. Council members capitulate to pressure from the local media anyway, return the campaign contributions and rescind their original vote, which they had earlier defended as the right thing to do.

I'd say that the rescindment doesn't dispel but only confirms the suspicion that the original votes were cast solely as a quid pro quo for the campaign contributions.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:48 AM
Nancy Pelosi, Party Girl

We learned last week that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi may be an even better party hostess than she is a party leader. Fool's Blog brings us a photo of Nancy in a very, uh, Martha Stewart-like pose.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 08:49 AM
August 11, 2003
Trifecta of Scholarship

In the last few weeks, Seattle newspaper readers have been blessed with a trio of op-ed pieces written by current and emeritus faculty members from the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington. These three public policy scholars, entrusted with the noble duty of training our state's future policy makers, have flooded the media with their commentary in an apparent attempt to show off their scholarly brilliance and comprehension of public affairs.

On July 25 in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, former Evans School dean Hubert Locke reviews a book that he didn't bother to read and shares his initimate knowledge of secret White House discussions:

the nation's secretary of defense, I'm told, has written a book titled "Rumsfeld's Rules." I've not found occasion (or reason) to read it but, apparently, it contains such gems as "It's easier to get into a situation than to get out of one" or words to that effect. Clearly, it's a piece of advice he didn't share with his commander in chief before they decided to invade Iraq.
On August 1 in the Seattle Times, professor emeritus Walter Williams claims that George W Bush is the only President who has ever aggressively sold his policies to the electorate
He is the first president to use propaganda as the main weapon in selling his policies
and he wants to impeach President Bush for saying something that the President never said:
Bush mixed misinformation, distorted allegations and unsubstantiated rumors to persuade the public of the imminent danger posed by Saddam Hussein
Williams is also the author of the forthcoming book Reaganism and the Death of Representative Democracy. [Hold on, didn't Reagan get re-elected in one of the most representative landslides in U.S. history? -- Ed.]

On August 8 in the Seattle Times former dean Margaret Gordon calls for making the American media more like the BBC, in part because she believes that private sector media companies are the financial equivalent of perpetual motion machines:

Meanwhile, the push for corporate profit margins much higher than those of average American businesses goes on — with 40 to 100 percent in the electronic media
[I have more on Prof. Gordon here]

Jim Miller, on the other hand, isn't terribly impressed with the Evans scholars. Miller asks:

Why is the Seattle Times publishing all these pieces that discredit the professors who write them and academics in general? Could editorial page editor, James Vesely, a sharp journalist, share my view that our universities are in great need of reform? Is he publishing these columns to demonstrate just how poor some of the thinking is at our universities?

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 02:28 PM
It's in the P-I

Today's lead editorial in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says:

President Bush last week marked the 100th day since military operations ended in Iraq.
What Bush actually said was:
Friday of this week was the 100th day since the end of major combat operations in Iraq.
The P-I could just as plausibly respin the same quote into "Bush declares an end to major operations", in order to tell the story that he's about to shut down Medicare.

The P-I goes on to say that:

The connection between Iraq and terror remains to be seen
Google claims to have 1,330,000 documents containing the words "terror" and "Iraq". Only a few of these are editorials by Saddam supporters pretending that the connection between Iraq and terror remains to be seen.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:15 PM
Do not steal my bandwidth

Folks, if you happen to like any of the graphic files on my web site and wish to incorporate them into your own web pages, copy them, but do NOT steal my bandwidth by sticking a URL to my files into your <img> tags without permission or at least a link back to me. If you try to abuse my bandwidth, here is a cautionary tale of what I will do to you.

BlackElectorate.com is a Nation of Islam website that, among other things, offers lectures on something called "The Jewish Economy". Today's BlackElectorate.com front page links to an article about Kobe Bryant, with the caption When a Tyson, O.J. Simpson, and now Bryant is charged with crimes, many Blacks swiftly circle the wagon and shout loudly, "racist double standard." They incorporated a picture of O.J. Simpson off my site. I don't own the copyright to the photo, I simply use it under "fair use". But Black Electorate.com is cheerfully stealing my bandwidth.

Just for kicks, I changed the picture at the end of the URL (http://www.usefulwork.com/shark/ojsimpson.jpg). Instead of pointing to a picture of O.J. Simpson, it now points to a giant picture of Mark Chmura. Go over to blackelectorate.com and take a peek.

Of course, to really have some fun, I may rotate a few other pictures into the mix along with Mark Chmura. John Wayne? The Lubavitcher Rebbe? Indira Gandhi? A map of Peru? Please submit your suggestions.

UPDATE (1:23 pm) The fun is over, BlackElectorate.com finally figured it out, and they swapped out Mark Chmura for a photo of Kobe Bryant stolen from somebody else.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:43 AM
Arnold and the Professors

Arnold Schwarzenegger might not be a Nobel laureate, but some of his business partners are:

Schwarzenegger also holds a significant ownership stake in Dimensional Fund Advisors, a Santa Monica-based mutual fund company that manages $40 billion. The highly rated fund management is unusual in that it is overseen by academic theorists, including University of Chicago economist Eugene Fama and two Nobel Prize-winning economists, Myron Scholes and Robert Merton.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:13 AM
Here Come the Guv

The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

A motorcade carrying Gov. Gray Davis did 94 mph on a 55-mph stretch of Central California road known locally as "Blood Alley" for its many accidents, it was reported Saturday.

A California Highway Patrol officer spotted two unmarked cars speeding along Highway 46 in San Luis Obispo County on Aug. 2 and chased them for five miles, CHP spokesman Tom Marshall said.

The pursuit ended when a CHP officer in the motorcade contacted a dispatcher, identified himself as a member of the dignitary protection detail and asked the pursuing officer to "back off," Marshall said.

The CHP officer in charge of the motorcade was reprimanded, but no traffic citations were issued.

Was this episode (a) an instance of an elected official who believes he is above the law and so desperate to get to his next campaign appearance that he is willing to endanger the safety of everybody else on the highway? (b) a (failed) Francis Urquhart-style attempt to obviate the need for a recall election?

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:03 AM
Our Palestinian Allies


A Palestinian youth pastes posters of Saddam Hussein and Yasser Arafat above those of Saddam and his sons Odai and Qusai, in preparation for a traditional condolence ceremony, officially mourning the deaths of Saddam Hussein's sons, in the West Bank town of Jenin, Saturday, Aug. 9, 2003. The poster below reads: 'The Local Commitee for the support of Iraq, and the National Islamic Movement in Jenin mourn the death of Iraq and Palestine.' (AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 07:00 AM
August 10, 2003
Ruth Rosen: Baathist, Plagiarist

Ruth Rosen is worried about Executive Order 13303, which shields the Development Fund for Iraq and its business partners from lawsuits, in order to facilitate the reconstitution of Iraq's oil industry. In fact, Ruth Rosen has such a Jones to slam the Bush administration that she cribbed her entire Friday column from Thursday's Los Angeles Times. (To be fair to Prof. Rosen, she didn't plagiarize all of the Times' article, she was careful to leave out the bits that provided balance).

I'll admit that the Executive Order appears to be a little, uh, generous in protecting American oil companies from liability related to their Iraqi oil business. The Treasury Dept., on the other hand, insists that it is not intended to be applied as expansively as some read it. And I'd be surprised if the judiciary would actually apply this in such a way, as Ruth Rosen suggests,

These are the kind of legal protections that most corporations could only dream of enjoying. If, for example, a U.S. oil company engages in criminal behavior in California, and its assets can be traced back to Iraqi oil, it could be immune from any kind of prosecution.
Yeah, wake me when that happens. Still, when it comes to George W Bush, Ruth Rosen always fixates on the worst potential scenario
It is a blank check for corporate anarchy, potentially robbing Iraqis of both their rights and their resources.
Funny though, Saddam Hussein was not potentially robbing the Iraqi people of their rights and resources, Saddam Hussein was actually robbing the Iraqi people of their rights and resources. And Ruth Rosen took to the streets last winter in order to help Saddam keep robbing.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 07:00 AM
August 09, 2003
Roadmap Report

An Israeli correspondent e-mails:

Reading the weekend papers, I once again read that Israel is accused by Palestinian groups of being in breach of the hudna [e.g.here -- Ed]. The concept is a bit strange to me. If the hudna was declared unilaterally and without conditions by the Palestinians, to further their own interests, how can Israel be in breach of it?

And if we make that leap of logic, how well are the Palestinians sticking to it? One need not quote the daily list of violence. It is enough to ask the US State Department. Friday's Hebrew press reported that the State Department has refused to lift its travel advisory on Israel. Clearly the US does not think that the Palestinian implementation of the hudna is adequate. Just as the Roadmap is measured by actions - so should US assessments.

Although the issue is security and safety, there is further signifance in the State Department travel advisories. As long as they are in place, US travellers to Israel are unable to get adequate travel insurance. That not only is a huge problem for Israel's tourist industry, but also severly depressses the business sector, as a local visit is critical to closing many potential deals.

So when you see Americans pressing Israel for some sort of reciprocity for Palestinian concessions, remind them that not only are the concessions far less than the Roadmap requirements, but that the US State Department is not willing to risk a short stay by its citizens. Should we take greater risks?

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 01:49 PM
August 08, 2003
Vox Populi

On Wednesday, the Seattle Times printed five letters to the editor in support of Israel's security fence. On Thursday, the Times found it necessary to balance reason, facts and good sense by printing a letter full of blood-libelous fantasies. Patrick Fay of Kirkland writes:

I believe Tony Auth's editorial cartoon of Aug. 2 is a very good and accurate description of the reality of the "fence."... Israel always states it cannot withdraw or do its part in the agreements because the Palestinians will not stop their terrorist acts. This day will never come because if this reality ever gets close the Israeli army will just go out and kill three young Palestinian boys walking to visit their friends in broad daylight and then lie about them having weapons or bombs.
I'd be careful there, Patrick, I understand that the Mossad likes to assassinate people who write silly letters to newspapers. Tune your tinfoil hat radio to channel Z and you'll hear all the details.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 01:38 PM
"American media should be more like the BBC"

Today's Seattle Times has an op-ed by University of Washington public policy professor Margaret Gordon: "American media should be more like the BBC"

What sort of person would want to remake our free and diverse independent media into the unaccountable and confiscatory BBC at a time when British trust in the BBC is plummeting? Perhaps a one-time dean of a public policy school who is both viscerally antagonistic to and ignorant of free enterprise:

It seems clear enough that the market/profit mentality has won out, especially in electronic news, and to a considerable extent in the print media ... Meanwhile, the push for corporate profit margins much higher than those of average American businesses goes on — with 40 to 100 percent in the electronic media and 12 to 45 percent in the print media common during 2003.
[A 100% profit margin could exist only in the unlikely sort of business that didn't have any operating expenses. According to the Marketguide database, of the 37 publicly held print media companies of any consequence (market cap > $100 million), the weighted average profit margin is 5%, the max is 18%. For the broadcasting industry, the average profit margin is negative, and if you look only at the more stable companies in the S&P1500, the weighted average profit margin is 3% and the max is 16%]
Rather than bemoaning this issue further, I believe we — Americans who worry about these issues — should probably finally accept the reality that nearly all American television is market driven, will only become more so as time goes on, and as such cannot be counted on to provide news that American citizens need to evaluate their governments and communities, or to use as the basis of their civic participation in voting and other democratic activities.
Translation: It is difficult for Margaret Gordon to accept the fact that individuals get to decide how to spend their own time and money on the media which is most meaningful to them.
In my view, the nation needs for the sake of its highly touted democracy to develop and support a nationally broadcast British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)-type channel (or two) of television news, a fully supported National Public Radio, and methods for supporting and rewarding courageous, high-quality and responsible print media.
Translation: democracy means forcing people to pay for media that they would not pay for or consume if left to make their own choices.
Why hasn't such a system evolved in the U.S.? Our feeble attempts — PBS and NPR — are so underfunded, with continuous funding threats from Congress, that it is virtually impossible for them to be thorough and courageous, and beholden only to the public. Local station leaders seem to be full-time development officers whose programming decisions reflect fund-raising strategies more than their communities' information needs.
I happen to like both PBS and NPR, even though both make mistakes. I also recognize that their failure to attract a broader audience is the cause of their funding situation, and not vice-versa. Margaret Gordon doesn't tell us how the public media would be accountable to the public and also free of funding cuts from the public's elected representatives; and she doesn't tell us how the public media would determine each community's "information needs" in the absence of funding signals from the information consumers.
We need a stronger, more viable system, and should give the BBC model a try. We can't lose; the result can't be worse than what we have now.
Oh, yes, Margaret, it could be worse. Not only would we expect to get lousy unaccountable media, we'd also all have to pay for it. Like they do in both Britain and Australia.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 01:17 PM
A more serious fundraising scandal

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer commits a rare act of sanity today, changing the subject from the not-really-a-scandal "strip club campaign contributions scandal" to a much bigger civic disaster waiting to happen. Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen, through his venture arm, Vulcan Ventures, is begging for some of the people's money to help build his next questionably profitable enterprise:

Vulcan owns almost 50 acres in South Lake Union. Along with other companies and institutions, Vulcan is working to transform the neglected neighborhood into a center for biotechnology.

To do so, Vulcan is asking for $500 million in improvements from the city that will include transportation upgrades and an electrical substation to power the research center. Vulcan also needs zoning changes to allow the unique biotechnology buildings and laboratories.

$500 million is nearly $1,000 per Seattle resident. Will this vaunted biotechnology center "create new jobs" in Seattle? When, if ever, will it generate enough new tax revenue to recover the public "investment"? Nobody has any idea, but I do know from private conversations that it will move some jobs from the eastern shore of Lake Washington to its western shore. Woop-de-doo.

Still, Paul Allen has proven himself to be adept at playing the political game well enough to get more than his fair share of the people's money to help pay for his boondoggles, such as a new stadium for his Seattle Seahawks. The easiest way to obtain $500 million in city money is to have, uh, friends on the city council, so Paul Allen is helping his friends.

When the latest campaign contribution reports are filed Monday, a few will likely include generous donations -- some estimate a total of $15,000 at least -- from a fund-raiser Vulcan co-sponsored July 29 for incumbents Jim Compton, Margaret Pageler and Heidi Wills.

The get-together was held in a vacant building owned by Vulcan on South Lake Union, and was attended by about 150 Vulcan employees, associates and other supporters of the South Lake Union development plan.

That's not any different from what the strip club owner did. On the other hand, all he wanted was permission to use his own land for a parking lot. He wasn't asking for a $1,000 giveaway from everybody in town.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:51 AM
August 07, 2003
Clueless in Seattle

The Seattle School District faces a $35 million budget shortfall and the need to recruit a superintendent. The Seattle Education Association's response to this crisis includes endorsing Brita Butler-Wall for school board. Butler-Wall's main objective is to ban all sweetened beverages (including chocolate milk) from the public schools. She is also in favor of putting limits on military recruiters in the high schools because

Many veterans have found that joining the military may open up a new career, but it also may result in injury, disease or death to oneself or to the citizens of other nations. The second possibility was not mentioned in any of the recruiting materials found at Garfield High School recently.
And unless every brochure mentions these points, how else would a high school senior know what the military does?

Meanwhile, the Seattle Education Association continues to address serious issues (such as the gap in educational achievement between different ethnic groups) in ineffective ways:

Throuhout [sic] the 2002-03 School Year, our members have made varying degrees of progress in their comfort about being frank and honest about their questions about racial differences and willingness to explore white privilege.
Yes, the only way to be honest about race is to "explore white privilege". (If white privilege were so automatic why is it that whites are so underrepresented in the nation's leading universities, both public and private?). But certainly many white people are privileged, which helps explain why the student body of the Seattle School District is 40% non-Hispanic white, while the population of under-18-year-olds in the city of Seattle is 50% non-Hispanic white, and in King County outside of Seattle that number is 69%. [US Census] In other words, large numbers of Seattle's white parents (presumably many of the most affluent and best educated), are opting out of Seattle's public schools for private schools and the suburbs.

One way, obviously, to narrow the "achievement gap" in public education is to drive the highest achieving students out of the public schools. The Seattle teacher union's focus on chocolate milk and race-baiting is not going to do very much to reverse that trend.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:49 PM
Topless in Seattle

The three Seattle city council members who recently accepted noticeably large campaign contributions from a strip club owner and his friends, while simultaneously voting for a rezone that would enable said strip club to expand a parking lot, have agreed to return the donations. The council members have also announced that they will revote on the controversial rezone.

Personally, I don't think anybody did anything wrong here, except for a small number of the donations that were made without adequate disclosure, which should be returned. Strip clubs are a legal but unpopular business and its owners have every right to support candidates who treat them fairly, just as other legal but unpopular interest groups (e.g. labor unions and telephone companies) do. It's only the fact that this particular business happens to be a strip club that gave the blue noses at the local newspapers an excuse to fantasize this into a "scandal".

Naturally, when the rezone comes up for a revote the council members will have to revote their original vote with the explanation that it was the right thing to do all along, without regard to the campaign contributions. If they change their vote, it really would look like they only voted for the money. The strip club owner wins twice. He gets his parking lot (which he probably deserved anyway) while he and his buddies can thank the editors of both the Times and the P-I for arranging their campaign donation refund!

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:18 AM
Judicial Inactivism

Four Seattle magistrate judges went to Maui last fall for a judicial education conference at city expense, but didn't attend all of their classes. The city has ordered the judges to reimburse the city for some of the costs of their Hawaiian junket.

DeVilla and Wilson signed separate settlement agreements yesterday. DeVilla agreed to pay the city $500, and Wilson agreed to pay $200, for exercising "poor judgment when (they) failed to attend portions of the September 2002 judicial education conference which had been sponsored with city funds."
One wonders about the judgment the judges exercise when judging the citizens that come before them.
The conference, which the magistrates attended to fulfill requirements for continuing legal education, included classes on jury reform, recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions, as well as one on judicial burnout.
Maybe it's time to appoint some new judges who are already tanned, rested and ready to judge.

In the meantime, presiding Municipal Court judge Fred Bonner, who was not one of the four Maui judges, could not be reached for comment as he is "attending a National Bar Association conference in New Orleans".

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:43 AM
August 06, 2003
Success vs. Admiration

The Seattle Times contributor Floyd McKay reminisces about the year 1953. Buried in his recollections is this nugget:

Israel was the success story of the era, and we read of its kibbutzim and women soldiers with admiration. No one had even heard of Palestinians.
Israel is still a success story as, for example, Christopher Reeve could tell you. I think many people still read about Israel with admiration, unfortunately the press doesn't often write about Israel with admiration. The Palestinians, as a national movement, still aren't a success story. Okay, they succeed at one thing. And it takes a very special kind of person to write about the Palestinian liberation movement with admiration.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 05:01 PM
Arab Democracy

Arab League snubs Iraq council

CAIRO, Egypt — Arab League members decided yesterday not to recognize Iraq's U.S.-appointed Governing Council, saying they will wait until a government is elected.
The article doesn't pose or answer this question, so I will offer it as a contest for my readers: How many of the 22 member states of the Arab League have genuinely elected governments?

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 01:31 PM
But her hair was perfect

An Australian reader emails:

A "home" magazine here in Australia by the name of "New Idea" has published an article about suicide bomber women called "Dressed to Kill". I don't know when it was published but my daughter saw it last week in a hairdressing salon. A person I know, coincidentally last week also, saw it in a doctor's waiting room.

The article is disgusting because it equates feminism with suicide bombings. I attach it for your interest.

The idea of putting up a web page is apparently too new of an idea for New Idea, but we have a scanned image of the full article [large jpg]. The text isn't entirely uncritical of the suicide bombers, but it portrays them with inappropriate glamour and sympathy. I excerpt:
Dareen Abu Aisheh was dressed to kill on a cold February night last year. Wearing an open-necked blouse and leggings, her face delicately shaded with mascara and rouge. Dareen had dressed carefully for what would be the most important night of her life
It also turned out to be the most important night in the life of the policeman she maimed.

Then we learn of Wafa Idris

Like Dareen, Wafa Idris lived in a refugee camp in the West Bank.
We learn nothing about the Arab intransigence that has kept Wafa Idris' family in a "refugee camp" for 55 years.
On January 27, 2002, Wafa, 28, travelled to Jerusalem with her face made up and her hair done up in curls. And like Dareen, Wafa wore explosives that killed herself, one bystander and wounded 100 more.
One only wonders what her victims were wearing. How does New Idea rationalize the suicide bombers' fetish for death? With an obviously out-of-context quote from an anonymous Israeli
'The phenomenon of suicide bombing in the Palestinian arena is motivated by desperation, coercion and an acceptance that there are no pleasures on earth that can match the rewards of someone who dies for Islam,' an Israeli officer says.
Wafa Idris' twisted mother gets the last word:
'She is a hero' [Wafa Idris' mother] says, her face full of pride. 'She is a martyr'.
Read the whole sick article (on an empty stomach). Comments may be sent to michelle.endacott@pacpubs.com.au

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:23 PM
My letter in the Seattle Times

Today's Seattle Times published five letters to the editor critical of the paper's coverage of Israel's security fence. Three of the letters mentioned Tony Auth's grotesque Star of David cartoon. My letter is at the top of the page, they added the headline "'Fence' cartoon has strong links to Nazi propaganda" My original unedited letter:

I was dismayed to see in Saturday's Times the Tony Auth cartoon that depicted the Star of David as a fence imprisoning Arab civilians. This is an apparent reference to the security fence which Israel has determined is necessary to construct in order to prevent terror attacks from the West Bank.

In fact, the fence does not "imprison" Palestinians, it merely secures Israel's eastern boundary with the West Bank. Although the fence restricts some movement, legal Palestinian passage through official gates remains completely free. By ignoring the fence's justification as an anti-terror measure, the cartoon shows an utter lack of context.

Sadly, falsely depicting the Star of David as a prison is neither clever nor innovative. As you can see from this image of a Third Reich propaganda poster, the Nazis published such images long before the Seattle Times ever did [source: Powers of Persuasion: Poster Art from World War II, by Stacey Bredhoff ]

Perhaps the Times might also publish the Nazi poster -- not to endorse it, of course, but in order to put Tony Auth's anti-Semitic statement in its proper perspective. And in the future, I hope the Times will show better judgment when selecting editorial cartoons for publication.

Thanks to Mike Silverman for sending me the image and citation for the Nazi poster, and to Honest Reporting for information about the fence.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:46 AM
Dumb and dumber

Dumb politicians pitching dumb proposals to dumb voters: Democrats Seeking Labor's Backing Call for More Health Benefits and Less Free Trade

Mr. Kucinich and Mr. Gephardt were the most direct in professing their support for labor's goals. Mr. Gephardt noted that he had voted against Nafta in Congress and that others on stage — among them, Mr. Kerry, Senator Bob Graham of Florida and Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont — had supported the trade pact, even as they expressed reservations about that support in the course of a Democratic nomination process where labor plays a critical role.
Only one candidate had the beytsim to tell the union bosses the truth:
Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, who has portrayed himself as the most centrist candidate, sought to stand out tonight as he refrained from offering unabashed endorsements of union positions.

At one point, the senator was booed when he said he would establish a pilot program to provide poor students with vouchers to attend private schools, a position strongly opposed by teacher unions.

"I'm going to speak the truth," Mr. Lieberman said. "I'm going say what I think is best for America regardless. This is an experiment. Try it for three to four years, limit it to poor children, don't take any money out of public school budgets."

And for this they booed him. No, it's not the labor union members who are dumb. It's the union leaders who think that representing their members means preventing poor children from getting a decent education.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 07:01 AM
The Ungrateful Ruth Rosen

Ruth Rosen was just in my neighborhood and she didn't even bother to drop me a line:

On a recent vacation, I spent a week hiking with family and friends around Mt. Rainier National Park in Washington
Hey, I publicize her column almost weekly and give her access to a global audience, the least she could have done would have been to stop by for a cup of coffee so I could fisk her in person.

Ruth Rosen tells us that she loves Mt. Rainier so much that she wants it under the exclusive control of civil servants, no matter how ill-equipped they are to manage the resource

This much is clear: The National Park Service is woefully under-funded. Visitors have increased 50 percent while the department's budget has declined by 25 percent. Still, like the Smithsonian museum, these wilderness areas are part of our country's heritage and must be protected and preserved for future generations.
Agreed -- Ed. Maybe we can start by raising admission fees and rents from concessions and outsourcing certain services?
But privatizing the National Park Service is not the answer. The reason there is a scarcity of public funds is that tax cuts for the wealthy have starkly reduced money for government services. That is why the Bush administration says we are too poor to support what we used to call, not so long ago, the common good.
The National Park Service has been underfunded long before George W. Bush became President. Clearly, federal government is not the ideal way to fund the upkeep of the park system. But Ruth Rosen is so enamored with taxes and bureaucrats she would rather see the parks dwindle away than to explore economically viable solutions to preserve our natural heritage.

Meanwhile, Ruth Rosen also tells us she is so violently opposed to business that she would rather risk thousands of deaths in terror attacks than to see our national security agencies engage in innovation:

That the Pentagon would even think of using a business tool to predict terrorism boggles the mind.
Next week, Ruth Rosen will call for prohibitions on all "business tools" anywhere in the federal government. No more issuance of "bonds" to finance the debt, no more "telephones", "staplers" or "hole punchers" in federal offices and no more using "money" to pay federal workers.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 07:00 AM
August 05, 2003
Radio Roger

Roger Simon will be on the Hugh Hewitt Show today. Don't miss it!

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 01:41 PM
Weekly Canard

Robert Scheer is on a roll. Last week, for the first time in months, I detected a single shred of sense in one of his columns. This week, I have to say I agree with most of what he has to say. No, really. But before you declare that the Shark has gone soft in the head, and then click off to go read Right Wing News or something, I'll explain why I mostly agree with Scheer this time, and then go on to explain why Scheer's sensibleness this week is, in the context of his broader body of work, evidence that Scheer is as soft in the head as they come.

In a nutshell, Scheer is campaigning this week on behalf of marriage or civil unions for gays, and criticizing Bush for opposing such unions. Scheer is wrong to demonize the President's Christian faith, but overall I can't disagree with his main point to extend civil unions to same-sex couples. Speaking as a happily-married monogamous heterosexual male husband (with a female wife) and as a father of young children, I have not yet heard a compelling reason why I should oppose gay unions. Maybe it's just me, but I don't understand how a law (e.g. the Defense of Marriage Act) which prevents other people from getting married, is going to do very much to help me to defend my own marriage. I always thought that the only two people on the planet who are in a position to defend my marriage are my wife and I. And if a serial wedding addict like, say, Elizabeth Taylor deserves to obtain civil protection for her marriage (and God bless her next attempt to find happiness), then why not, say, the two lesbians down the street who have been together for decades and have bought a house and raised children together.

Having said all that, I still think that Robert Scheer is a big doofus. Why? Because if gay rights is an important issue to you, which regime would you trust to make more progress on tolerance for gay people, and which regime would you support in a food fight?

a) The United States of America, where, for example, the sitting vice-president has an openly gay daughter and has employed an openly gay spokesman; and where the Supreme Court (including a majority of the Republican appointees) recently voted to overturn the last vestiges of anti-sodomy laws?

b) Saddam Hussein's Iraq, where homosexuality was recently promoted to a capital crime and where people were routinely imprisoned, tortured, raped and/or killed at the drop of a hat?

We all know who Robert Scheer chose to support.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:51 PM
More Racism at the Seattle Times

The voters of Washington passed a law against racial discrimination in public contracting, yet the Seattle Times is calling on the Sound Transit agency to discriminate anyway, and at an unnecessarily high cost to the taxpayers.

Kiewit Pacific, the lowest bidder to build a maintenance base and lay the first mile of tracks, is on notice to include more minority subcontractors, particularly African Americans.

This page opposes the light-rail project, but if it is to be built, it must be done with the whole community building it.

In other words, since we're going to pay for an expensive and unnecessary boondoggle, we might as well enjoy some extra cost overruns in order to let uncompetitive businessmen who happen to have dark skin feed at the trough.
By all accounts, [Kiewit] has been one of the most successful construction companies in reaching out to small and disadvantaged businesses.
It's clear from the context that the Times is using the phrases 'disadvantaged business' and 'black-owned business' interchangeably. How is that not racist? Oh wait, here's an article about a successful self-made man whom the Times might call a disadvantaged billionaire.
Despite the chilling effect of I-200, Sound Transit's board members are showing creativity and ingenuity in pushing for greater minority participation.
Yes, even with an anti-discrimination law that chills the practice of discrimination, those who are addicted to discrimination will always find creative ways to discriminate, and they can depend on the support of the local media!

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 07:00 AM
August 04, 2003
Mullahs with Nukes

The Los Angeles Times reports today that Iran nearly has ability to turn out nukes [republished by the Seattle Times, which doesn't require web registration to view articles]

After more than a decade of working behind layers of front companies and in hidden laboratories, Iran appears to be in the late stages of developing the capacity to build a nuclear bomb.

Iran insists it is only building commercial nuclear reactors to generate electricity for homes and factories. "Iran's efforts in the field of nuclear technology are focused on civilian application and nothing else," President Mohammad Khatami said on state television in February. "This is the legitimate right of the Iranian people."

But a three-month investigation by the Los Angeles Times — drawing on previously secret reports, international officials, independent experts, Iranian exiles and intelligence sources in Europe and the Middle East — uncovered strong evidence that Iran's commercial program masks a plan to become the world's next nuclear power.

The country has been engaged in a pattern of clandestine activity that has concealed weapons work from international inspectors.

Technology and scientists from Russia, China, North Korea and Pakistan have propelled Iran's nuclear program much closer to producing a bomb than Iraq ever was.

Read the whole thing.

My immediate responses are:
1) Osirak
2) Isn't it fortunate that we now have bases in both Iraq and Afghanistan, which border Iran on either side

UPDATE: Here's another interesting aspect of the story. Much of the information about Iran's nuke program came from French intelligence, which corroborates other sources and is cooperating with US intelligence. Now I wonder, for all those who whine about how the US "alienated its allies by going alone in Iraq and jeopardized allied support in the war against terrorism" -- the fact that the US showed its willingness to do the right thing in Iraq with or without France -- might that have had something to do with France's desire to be on the right side of history this time and join forces with the US to contain Iran?

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 05:01 PM
Darwin Award Aspirant

Professor commits 'bonehead' parachute stunt, police say

A parachutist attempting a jump from a radio tower in Shoreline early this morning hit one of eight guy wires and dangled for three and a half hours 150 feet off the ground before firefighters rescued him.

The man was unhurt in the fall, but did suffer hypothermia and circulation problems in his legs, King County spokesman Kevin Fagerstrom said. The sheriff's office would not release the man's name, but said he was a 43-year-old professor of business administration at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
...
"We clearly want to make the point this is not fun and games," Fagerstrom said. "This is a serious incident and those firefighters were placing their lives in direct risk to rescue this guy for his bonehead stunt."


Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 01:27 PM
Colin Powell To Step Down "If Bush is Re-elected"

Headline from today's Washington Post

State Dept. Changes Seen if Bush Reelected
Powell and Armitage Intend to Step Down

Today's Seattle Times re-headlined the same story as:
Powell signals he won't serve if Bush elected for 2nd term

That would leave open the possibility for Colin Powell to remain as Secretary of State under the following scenarios:
a) Bush dies in office.
c) Bush loses the election.
b) Bush cancels the election and declares himself President for Life.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:25 AM
A Seattle Welcome

We had a lovely open-house party on Saturday. One of my neighbors, while sitting in my living room, eating my food and drinking my wine, remarked half-jokingly that "A Republican wouldn't be welcome in the neighborhood". Ha ha ha. Lucky for her she didn't joke that Black people, homosexuals, Muslims or Communists wouldn't be welcome in the neighborhood, because somebody might have thought she was a simple-minded bigot!

More importantly, we were joined by many wonderful people who really did make us feel welcome!

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:49 AM
August 03, 2003
Tony Auth's Inspiration

Now I know where Tony Auth got the idea for last week's cartoon where he depicted the Star of David as a prison fence. He plagiarized from the Nazis

[click on either image for a full size version in a separate window]

[hat tip: Mike Silverman. And while you're perusing Mike's blog, be sure to note his observation about Pope John Paul II and evil]

UPDATE: The Seattle Times prints my letter to the editor condemning the cartoon.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 09:44 PM
August 02, 2003
Did Saddam Bluff?

This Associated Press report confirms my own hunch about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction:

A close aide to Saddam Hussein says the Iraqi dictator did in fact get rid of his weapons of mass destruction but deliberately kept the world guessing about it an effort to divide the international community and stave off a U.S. invasion.
The strategy, which turned out to be a serious miscalculation, was designed to make the Iraqi dictator look strong in the eyes of the Arab world, while countries such as France and Russia were wary of joining an American-led attack. At the same time, the aide said, Saddam retained the technical know-how and brain power to restart the programs at any time.
The article goes on to misrepresent the administration
If true, it would indicate there was no imminent unconventional weapons threat from Iraq, an argument President Bush used to go to war. Although the search for chemical, biological and nuclear weapons continues, none have been found.
[Bush never called Iraq an "imminent threat", as I discussed here] The "bluff" explanation, in my mind anyway, passes Occam's Razor as the plainest answer to the question: "Where are the WMD?". It also more than justifies both US intelligence's apparent misassessment of the existence of weapons and the removal of Saddam from power.

Let's imagine how events would have played out had Saddam succeeded with his bluff: No weapons would have been found, and the inspections would have ended, with the White House having been discredited. There would no longer be any justification for US military pressure on Iraq and the UN sanctions would also have to end. With the inspectors gone and Saddam's freedom of operation restored with the technical capability and know-how still in place, Iraq would be able to reconstitute its weapons. And who would listen to American concerns about Iraqi weapons at that point? Fast forward to the time when Iraq has fully operational weapons and really does pose an imminent threat to the US and/or our allies. Naturally, it would be all that much harder for us to defeat Saddam than it was this year.

Congressional Democrats and those who squawk "Bush lied" (but never squawk "Saddam lied") might be satisfied with the above scenario, but I'm glad we dismantled Saddam's regime when we had the chance.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:44 PM
Big Media Anti-Semitism

Here's an anti-Semitic cartoon that the Seattle Times deemed worthy of today's op-ed page:
Oh sure, the Jews are building a fence to imprison Arab children and old people just for fun. For some reason the cartoon doesn't portray any of the Palestinian murderers with guns and bombs or the bodies of the dead Israelis which made the fence necessary.

UPDATE 1 Charles Johnson shares some letters to the editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, where the cartoon first appeared.

UPDATE 2: Mike Silverman found the source from which Tony Auth apparently plagiarized.

UPDATE 3 (Aug. 6) The Seattle Times prints my letter to the editor condemning the cartoon.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:19 AM
August 01, 2003
Scheer Moment

Robert Scheer on Mickey Kaus:

You'd have to be thick-skinned or foolhardy to take Kaus on. Or you'd have to be Robert Scheer. "There's something brutal and insensitive to the whole Mickey Kaus approach," says Scheer, whose syndicated column appears in the Los Angeles Times. "The problem with Kaus is, I don't know what real-life experience he's got. He's someone wet behind the ears, who doesn't get into the streets too often to see how things play out.
A lot of people also wonder what "real-life experience" Robert Scheer's got.

Oh, wait. Robert Scheer's "real-life experience" is that he goes out to dinner with famous movie stars, like James Woods:

I had dinner once with that communist guy Robert Scheer, and he was actually salivating. Christ, this guy. If I were casting a potential presidential assassin, I would just have taken a photograph of him salivating with hatred for George Bush and said to the casting director, "Get me an actor who can play this horrible, hateful, vicious emotion" -- and he's a journalist! A journalist who wishes he had a gun with a telescopic sight, that's what he is.

[sources: Glenn Reynolds and Damian Penny]

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 02:36 PM
Well-known Democrat Challenges Davis

Things are looking tougher for Gray Davis now that well-known Democrats are throwing their hats in the ring

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 02:26 PM
Shark Radio

The Shark is being interviewed live at this minute on WBIX 1060 in Boston! The subject: Mutual fund expenses

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:24 AM
How to Be a Democrat

Here, in a nutshell, is the distillation of 40 years of American domestic policy, mostly (though not entirely) the fruit of Democrat innovation. If you want to be a Democrat, here is what to do:

a) Continually remind the minority of African Americans who are in the chronic underclass that because of the grave historical injustice that was inflicted on their forbears, the current generation is not responsible for taking control of their own lives and should always look to the government for more.

b) Always endeavor to raise the minimum wage, even though it prices the poorest and least educated Americans out of the job market.

c) Of course, there is still a lot of unskilled labor that needs to be performed, and for which the market will not pay the artificially inflated minimum wage. In order to be able to tell labor unions that no American or legal immigrant is permitted to work for less than the minimum wage, tacitly encourage a large number of migrants to enter the country illegally in order to do the work that Americans are unwilling to do, or are prevented from doing by the minimum wage laws.

d) Shower the above immigrants with political spoils that were never available to earlier groups of immigrants, e.g. bilingual education and racial preferences.

e) Meanwhile, for those already in this country who cannot find work at the artificially inflated minimum wage -- insist on paying them for not working anyway.

f) Fight to maintain the status quo of teacher-union dominated public schools; refuse to permit any innovations of parental choice and competition that would improve the quality of education for those who have been left farthest behind.

g) Promote standards-lowering racial preferences in higher education, which do nothing to help those who have been left behind in failing primary schools (see (f)), and only teach those who do not need extra help that they aren't expected to succeed on their own merits like everyone else.

h) Many of those in the underclass will inevitably choose to ameliorate their misery through self-medication. Therefore declare self-medication to be a crime. This will create an extra-legal market in the banned substances, raising their price, encouraging theft for the purpose of financing drug habits, and requiring criminal violence as the means of regulating commerce in the banned substances. [granted, the Republicans probably had more responsibility for the "war on drugs" than the Democrats, but many Democrats have kept it going too]

i) Put a large number of those who engage in the activities described in (h) into prison for as long as possible, diminishing even further their chances of ever becoming productive members of society.

j) Sue the companies who make the products that happen to be used to enforce disputed transactions in banned substances (see (h)).

k) Regarding those drugs that for various reasons are considered legal -- confiscate wealth from younger working people to help older, wealthier, retired people pay for their drug habit. Finally, impose draconian price controls on sanctioned drugs, thereby discouraging pharmaceutical companies from investing in research and development of new drugs.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 07:00 AM