Heard at this moment on the Hugh Hewitt show:
Rumors are circulating in Sacramento that Cruz Bustamante may be dropping out of the race. Dan Weintraub confirms that he has heard this, but is reluctant to post this on his blog because he has no independent confirmation of its validity and believes that it may have been planted by the Davis camp, which would prefer that Bustamante drop out. The strongest validation of the rumor is that Bustamante didn't make any campaign appearances today. This is on top of his recent stumble in the polls and trouble over campaign finances.
So there you have it. This is a rumor heard on national talk radio that may or may not be true.
Today's Blog of the Day is Tal G. in Jerusalem. Read it for Tal's first hand reports and analysis of events in Israel. Whenever you read a clueless mainstream media piece about Israel that makes you want to bang your head against the floor, the antidote is to immediately read a blog written by an actual Israeli, living in Israel. It'll save your head. Tal's is one of the very finest of the Israeli blogs.
Lutz Kleveman is a freelance journalist from Germany, now based in New York. He e-mailed to tell me about his new blog which he describes:
In my new foreign policy/current affairs weblog “On the road” (www.kleveman.com/blog) I discuss mostly issues of international affairs and U.S. foreign policy, particularly in the regions I often report from: the Middle East (esp. Iraq), Central Asia (esp. Afghanistan), the Caucasus (Chechnya), West Africa and the Balkans. When out on assignment, I also plan to do some first-hand web reporting.I first encountered his work last year when I translated his very interesting interview of the leading Pakistani Islamist politician.
Kleveman's blog tends to favor the side of the media over the U.S. administration in the "how bad are things in Iraq" debate. But that's to be expected, he's from the media and writes mainly for a European audience. I don't buy all of his analysis (the Q-word and the I-word make their appearance as early as his second post) On the other hand, he and his co-bloggers are over there doing primary reporting and I'm not. So read his reports along with other reports and make up your own mind.
Tom Friedman in Sunday's New York Times: 2 Servings of Reality, Please
The war to oust Saddam Hussein was always a war of choice (a good choice, I believe). But democracies don't like to fight wars of choice, and, if they do, they want them to be quick sprints, like Bosnia, Kosovo or Grenada — not marathons. Knowing this, the Bush team tried to turn Iraq into a war of necessity by hyping the threat Saddam may have posed with W.M.D...President Bush is deeply morally unserious when he tells Americans that we can succeed in this marathon and still have radical tax cuts for the rich and a soaring deficit, and the only people who will have to sacrifice are reservists and soldiers. And the Democrats had better decide: What is their party going to be about? Wallowing in the mess, endlessly criticizing how we got into Iraq, or articulating a broader, more realistic vision for successful nation-building there?I think he's mostly right, although there is no clear line of demarcation between war of choice and war of necessity. Sometimes, the distinction is apparent only in hindsight. A pre-emptive war can be necessary if the goal is to avert a more calamitous war of necessity down the road, as was the case here. The administration did not "hype" the threat, it acted on the assumptions about Iraqi WMD programs that it inherited from the Clinton Administration, and which, to this day, Clinton officials such as Madeleine Albright still stand on.
Tom Friedman, on the PBS Newshour last week, repeated the same argument that he made in a recent op-ed: Palestinians in the disputed territories are going to ask for a "one-state solution", i.e. equal rights in Israel. (My father dismantled that argument here).
Reading the transcript of the interview, I'm struck by how certain concepts and assumptions about the Middle East have been congealed into the collective unconsciousness. For example, this portion of the exchange between Friedman and Margaret Warner:
FRIEDMAN: ... as the wall began to be built, it wasn't built on the border. It was built inside the West Bank -- in some cases just a few hundred meters, in some cases more.In fact it wasn't the '67 truce line. The '67 truce line was at the Jordan River. The "border" in question was the 1949 armistice line. As such, it was never really a recognized border, it was merely the line at which the sides agreed to stop fighting at that moment. The so-called border was elevated in status only after the 1967 war which Israel didn't start, didn't want, tried to avoid, won, and after which it unsuccessfully tried to sue for peace. The very same United Nations -- which stood around with its collective thumb in its tukhes and watched, silently hopeful, as the Arabs tried to solve the problem of the Zionist entity -- suddenly bestowed unprecedented legitimacy on the old border only after Israel rendered the old border obsolete.
MARGARET WARNER: By border, you mean the old '67 truce line after the '67 war that separated --
THOMAS FRIEDMAN: Israel from the West Bank.
Meanwhile, real borders are created by facts on the ground. Borders and fences can always be moved when it's to both parties advantage to do so. Maybe the Palestinians should start asking themselves what realistic steps they could take to stop the borders of their prospective state from shrinking?
I went on the Atkins diet only twelve days ago and I've already lost 10 lbs. I broke 180 for the first time in years. I have to tighten my belt an extra notch.
Atkins is highly controversial. Some people swear by it. Many dieticians declare it to be bogus. I'm not qualified to judge the scientific claims, and it's not going to work for everybody, but I can say that it's helped me so far. I've tried in the past to lose weight through the traditional low-fat low-meat approach. Lite this, lite that. Nothing ever tasted good or left me feeling satisfied, I could never stick with it. I would always break down within a few weeks and treat myself to a bacon double cheeseburger as a reward for losing a pound or two. The Ben and Jerry's would inevitably sneak into my grocery cart somehow and then it was all over. On the other hand, if I get to choose between giving up fats OR carbs, the choice is an easy one. A simple intuitive explanation is that it's very easy to overeat carbohydrates, but a lot harder to overeat on fats and proteins -- think about how many cookies, crackers, pieces of bread, gummi bears or glasses of Coca-Cola you can pour into your face without having any idea how many calories you're adding to your waistline? A lot, in my experience. On the other hand -- how many hard boiled eggs or pieces of smoked mackerel can you eat before saying "I'm full, thanks!"? Not very many. By eating a little more meat/fish/eggs/butter/cheese than I normally would, I feel full more quickly and can avoid eating a whole bunch of sugar and crap that I didn't need but would eat anyway without much thought. And I'm making a point of exercising more. In time, I'll let myself eat a more balanced diet, but hopefully I've learned my lesson to cut most of the junk out of my daily intake.
Arnold Kling has a column in today's Tech Central Station headlined "Bleeding-Heart Libertarianism". He starts out by quoting my very first blog post, where I introduce myself as a "bleeding heart libertarian". He cloaks himself in this label and proposes the intriguing idea of abolishing the welfare state and the current tax code and replacing them with a universal (and in some cases negative) consumption tax. That's not exactly what I had in mind for bleeding heart libertarianism, but a thought provoking proposal nevertheless. Read the whole thing.
Eric Devericks, Seattle Times, Sept. 25, 2003
The Shark Blog's Blog of the Day returns today, with a nod to Glenn Reynolds. He earns this honor today of all days for mentioning my recovery from last week's server crash. On the other hand, he deserves to be a Blog of the Day pretty much everyday, as he is the nexus of blog media. If anything newsworthy happens, you are certain to find his own insightful comments on the subject, along with a treasure trove of links to relevant reports and commentary. But you probably knew that already. If you didn't, now you do.
Who else but Reuters could give the world such a beautifully logical sentence as this one:
Palestinians regard Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as major obstacles to peace and have regularly attacked them.
Hat tip: Yoseph Malkin
As Jews around the world this weekend celebrated the creation of humankind, Palestinians also celebrated. They celebrated Yasser Arafat's creation of a fabulously stupid uprising that has left thousands dead and injured; and that will postpone peaceful co-existence and Palestinian aspirations for years if not decades:
Palestinians marked the third anniversary of the outbreak of their uprising, or intifada, by taking to the streets today in support of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat...Witnesses reported that about 4,000 people marched in the West Bank city of Nablus, carrying pictures of Arafat, chanting slogans and beating drums
The Shark Blog is now back in operation after a catastrophic hardware failure Monday morning that put my business webserver out of commission for almost two days. I had to buy and configure a whole new server and the business went back to normal on Wednesday. Fortunately, I keep good backups. If you're not good about keeping backups, you should do a better job of keeping backups. It's more important than brushing your teeth. If your teeth fall out, at least you can get dentures. If your computer dies without backups, there is no substitute product, you are perfectly hosed.
The Shark Blog took a nice vacation while I put everything else back in order and figured out how to get Movable Type working on the new machine (Hint: the blog/db directory and all of its files have to be chmod'ed writable by everybody, so nobody can write to them, doh! That's a UNIX pun, in case you missed it). The blog is now tanned, rested and ready to once again shower my goodness upon you all. Just in time for Rosh Hashana. Shana Tova, everybody.
The winner of the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize will be announced two weeks from today, Friday, October 10 at 11am Oslo time.
While the Nobel Peace Prize Committee occasionally makes an inspired choice (Lech Walesa and Elie Wiesel come to mind), the Committee typically favors those who promote not peace, but appeasement, unilateral disarmament and apologia for tyranny ( Yassir Arafat, The United Nations and Viscount Cecil of Chelwood come to mind)
As an answer to the hilarious award of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize to Jimmy Carter, I devised the Sharkansky Peace Prize. Unlike the Nobel Prize, the Sharkansky Peace Prize recognizes those who have made tangible contributions to preserve peace, maintain the national security of democracies, and extend human rights, whether through non-violent means or through the appropriate application of military force. For example, last year's co-winners were Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice, for the liberation of Afghanistan and realignment of US national security priorities. I also awarded the Prize retroactively for many of the years in the 20th century, see the table
I will award the 2003 Sharkansky Peace Prize on October 10 after the Nobel Committee announces their prize. Please help me by nominating your favorite peacemaker [post a comment]. Who will it be -- George W. Bush? Tommy Franks? Ariel Sharon? Jacques Chirac? Janeane Garofalo? You nominate, I decide.
Arnold Roth has an op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal Europe
Last December, I traveled to Brussels as a member of a small contingent of Israelis. Each of us had experienced the loss of a family member by terrorism in the past two years. My daughter, Malka Chana, 15, was killed by a Hamas terrorist cell. She was a high school student, a talented musician, a volunteer passionately dedicated to the care of disabled children. When her murderer exploded himself in a Jerusalem restaurant in August 2001, he massacred 15 innocent civilians, mainly children and teenagers. Hundreds were injured.Patten has a history of ignoring evidence that the PA abuses its foreign aid. But Roth cites last week's San Francisco Chronicle interview with Abu Mazen
Chris Patten, the EU's Commissioner for External Relations, plays a central role in the provision of EU financial aid to the Palestinian Authority. I intended to ask him in that visit whether he was aware of evidence that EU money, channeled through his office to the PA and so necessary to improving Palestinian lives, was being diverted to fund terrorism. Did he believe a just peace could be achieved when teachers paid from EU grants to UNRWA (U.N. Relief and Works Agency) teach Palestinian children that Israel has no right to exist and that their martyrdom is a glorious part of the ethnic cleansing of Jews from the Middle East?
Unlike the other senior EU figures we approached, Mr. Patten declined to meet us.
Palestinian Authority officials' salaries are paid by the European Union, but Arafat or his cronies were skimming off up to 15 percent in income taxes and using it for their own causes, Abbas suggested. "Personally, I don't know where those funds go," he said. "When we wanted to cancel them, they said: 'You're harming the intifada.' "Go read the rest of Roth's op-ed
UPDATE: For those without a subscription to the WSJ, Roth's open letter to Christopher Patten, upon which the WSJ op-ed is based, is posted here
For example, three of five members of high schools' National Honor Societies today are girls. Girls outnumber boys 124 to 100 in advanced-placement courses. As recently as 1987, boys outnumbered girls in those classes.I blame institutional sexism.
Girls also tend to make better grades. A survey of U.S. high-school seniors who took the SAT in 2000 found that 44 percent of the young women reported A averages. Among men, 35 percent did. And a count of Philadelphia-area valedictorians last spring turned up 106 females and 64 males.
McGaw attributed the growing gap to a kind of obstinacy in boys, especially boys in lower-income families.Maybe it's time to offer single-sex education for boys, too.
"Working-class boys define themselves as 'not girls,' " McGaw theorized. "So, if the girls value education, that's what boys don't do."
An audit of the Palestinian Authority revealed that PA Chairman Yasser Arafat had diverted $900 million in public funds to a special bank account he controlled and most of the money was later invested in Palestinian assets, an International Monetary Fund official said Saturday.
Nobel Peanut Prize winner Jimmy Carter, in an interview this week with NPR's Bob Edwards, blames the failure of the Middle East peace process entirely on Israel and says that the United States should not be Israel's ally. Here are his exact words [portions of the quotes in italics were only in the extended version posted on the website, not in the broadcast]:
EDWARDS: The focus this week is on a single individual. Is Yasser Arafat the main obstacle to peace as the US and Israeli governments describe him?This news article is pretty typical of the news coming out of Ramallah these days:
CARTER: No, I don't think so. [As a matter of fact, the Carter Center was instrumental in conducting the election where Arafat was chosen president when Palestinian governing authority was done]. In the last few years as you know, Arafat has been almost completely isolated in one small building and hasn't been really in charge of things on the ground. [But there's no doubt one of the provisions was to have a prime minister appointed. Now that's been done and another has been put forward] But I think it's just kind of an excuse to blame everything on Arafat who has practically no authority even among his own people.
Incoming Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia has asked Yasser Arafat and his Fatah political party to select most of his new cabinet in a move that would leave Arafat firmly in control of the government.Not bad for a guy who has practically no authority even among his own people!
EDWARDS: What would happen if Israel carried out its threat to expel him from the West Bank?A lot of other things are specifically prohibited in the "road map" -- such as terrorism. But Peanut Boy, who wants to be invited back to bless the next Palestinian "election", doesn't seem to mind the terrorism.
CARTER: Well, this is specifically prohibited in the `road map' that there would be any expelling of people from the West Bank and Gaza. I'm sure that when that sentence was put in the `road map' by President Bush and others that they weren't thinking about Arafat. So this would be another very blatant violation of the principles of the `road map.'
EDWARDS: What's your assessment of Ariel Sharon?Not only does Carter imply that Sharon is not now a man of peace, but Sharon is the only figure on either side of the conflict that Carter singles out for criticism. The only issue in the conflict that Carter mentions in the entire interview is the so called "colonizing" of the disputed territories. No mention of terrorism or the Palestinians' refusal to give up their claim on all of Israel through the "right of return".
Mr. CARTER: [tells a positive anecdote about Sharon during Camp David] So, in those days, Sharon was in favor of peace. I think the main issue is whether or not Israel insists upon the colonizing of the West Bank in Gaza or whether they will withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza as is required by United Nations resolutions and as is required also under the so-called `road map' for peace.
EDWARDS: Last week, candidate Howard Dean said that there should be more even-handed American policy in the Middle East. Senator Lieberman and others went after Dean saying he was threatening to undermine long-standing US relations with Israel. What do you make of that?So Carter believes that Israel is morally equivalent to, and no more of a US ally than, say, Syria or Hamas and that the United States shouldn't take sides.
CARTER: Howard Dean was absolutely right. You know, the word even-handed may not have been a good choice but the United States has to take a balanced position between Israel and the Palestinian or other adversaries of Israel, that you can't just have the United States and Israel forming a coalition as though they were in opposition to the other side.
Also in the interview Carter demonstrates his Pollyanna-ish ignorance of Palestinian history:
I think the Palestinians would go back to non-violence which they did 25 years ago and subsequently even with the Oslo agreements.These charts (here and here) illustrate that the Palestinians continued the violence both 25 years ago and also with the Oslo agreements.
The UN General Assembly has placed itself squarely on the side of Terrorist Warlord Yasser Arafat.
Circumventing a US veto in the Security Council, the vote in the assembly was a lopsided 133 to 4, with 15 abstentions, on a resolution demanding that Israel not carry out a plan to "remove" the Palestinian leader."Non-aligned"? Non-aligned with justice, apparently.
Arab and non-aligned nations asked the 191-nation assembly to act after the US killed a virtually identical measure in the 15-nation Security Council on Tuesday.
The resolution does not condemn Arafat's illegal use of human shields, which is an explicit violation of the Geneva Conventions.
The session was part of the "10th Emergency Special Session" on "Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory". Take a look at the UN's nine other "Emergency Special Sessions" since its founding and you will get a sense of what the UN General Assembly considers to be an "emergency", and through their absence from the list, all of the world's crises that the UN does not consider to be an emergency.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports on an alleged grade-fixing scandal at a local public high school
Three of Franklin High School's four counselors apparently changed grades improperly last school year to inflate the academic records of about 50 students, Seattle Public Schools officials said yesterday...The changes to student transcripts affected mostly seniors with grade-point averages close to the 2.0 threshold for a diploma, officials said. But some students with higher GPAs also benefited -- getting false credit for honors courses...Interim district Superintendent Raj Manhas and district lawyer Mark Green said hundreds of grades were changed, apparently through unilateral action by the counselors altering computer records. It's not clear why the counselors changed the grades, they said... The district does not plan to restore the improperly altered grades to the original marks, Manhas said. "We have no intention of hurting our students for adult behavior," he saidInstead, they will hurt the students by permitting them to go out in the real world without a decent education.
The district did not name the counselors linked to the tampering, but sources identified them as Acie Dubose, Kory Kumasaka and Jolyon Raymond. None could be reached yesterday for comment.It appears that racism might be involved:
Kumasaka is the son of Seattle School Board member Jan Kumasaka, the sources said.
Earl Riley's son was a senior last year, but because he didn't earn a 2.0 in a couple of classes, he didn't graduate and he's now working to get those credits.
"I just wanted to ask if there was a pattern of ethnic groups," said Riley, who is African American. "It wasn't given to my son."
Baghdad blogger Salam Pax was interviewed today on Fresh Air with Terry Gross.
The punchline:life in Baghdad is returning to normal, not as chaotic as the American media sometimes portrays it to be. He says:
Yes, I would say we are freer now, of course, and we are definitely moving on the right way to a truly free liberated Iraq, it's just going to take a bit time, we need patience.His advice to Americans: hire more translators, do a better job of communicating.
Listen to the whole thing.
The Economic Opportunity Institute has laid off most of its staff, hasn't yet filed tax returns for 2002 and ended up spending tens of thousands of dollars to try to persuade voters to approve Initiative 77I guess they don't create much economic opportunity for their own employees and vendors, after all. But they do keep well-paid campaign consultants fat and happy:
Last week, boxes, cabinets and computers were being moved out of the group's spacious 4,000-square-foot ground floor office in the University District to a 1,000-square-foot space above Gas Works Park.
The organization donated nearly $51,000 to the Early Learning and Care Campaign -- the formal name of Initiative 77 -- and now has about $150,000 left in the bankThe organization is funded by labor unions and campaigns for higher taxes and increased regulation, so you'd think that they would be a shining example of how to play by the rules. On the other hand --
The agency did file a 2001 report, but failed to include nearly $20,000 in lobbying expenses -- an error [executive director John] Burbank says will be corrected.I have no doubt they will do only great things with the remaining $150K that they skimmed off the union dues of working people.
The institute also failed to renew its license as a non-profit corporation with the Washington secretary of state.
The corporation has been on "inactive" status for a year, according the secretary of state's Web site. The filing fee is $10.
Here is the first of today's two Modest Proposals © to reform the political process: Campaign Time Reform.
"Campaign Finance Reform" is all the rage among certain people. The theory being that rich people have an advantage in influencing politics not available to the rest of us. Limit the amount of money one can contribute to political campaigns, the theory goes, and government will serve the general good instead of only special interests. I've explained elsewhere why this theory is completely broken, but if we're going to regulate campaign finances, it's only fair to also regulate the time people are allowed to spend on political activity.
Time is money, right? And if having a lot of money is considered an unfair political advantage, why shouldn't, say, having too much time on one's hands also be considered an unfair advantage? Just think about all those people who have nothing better to do with their time and spend hours and hours that most of us don't have so they can attend meetings, ring doorbells, stuff envelopes, or make annoying phone calls on behalf of their candidates? I don't have the time to do very much of that, I have a business to run and kids to raise. Invariably, those who put the time into political activity do so not out of a sense of civic duty (watch out for those who say they do!), but because they want to gain an advantage over the rest of us, who, recall, have other things going on that prevent us from defending ourselves from those who have more time than we do. And that just ain't fair.
Furthermore, having money to spend is usually an indication of talent, industry and productivity. For the most part, people obtain money (except by outright theft) by creating economic value for somebody else. That's a good thing. On the other hand, having a lot of time on one's hands is often an indication that one is indolent, incompetent or unemployable. And why should the least talented and productive members of society have disproportionate influence over the rest of us? Or take retirees, who may well have been productive in their prime and have earned their free time -- why should they get to spend their days conspiring and organizing to confiscate more of the wealth that belongs to those of us who are still working and don't have time to organize and fight back?
Therefore, I propose strict limits on the amount of time one is permitted to contribute to political campaigns, rallies, meetings, etc.. Say an hour or two a week, tops. Just imagine how much less unnecessary government we'd have if people weren't allowed to spend as much of their time agitating for more government!
Here is the second of today's two Modest Proposals © to reform the political process: The More Taxes You Pay, The More Votes You Get
For the past several decades, our society has been less of a democracy than a majoritarian kleptocracy. All it takes is 50%+1 of those who bother to show up at the polls, and BAM! another chunk of your property will be taken away from you. If the motorcycle-less majority wants to impose a tax on motorcycles, the motorcycle-owning minority has no choice but to pay the tax, even though none of them voted for the tax and none of those who voted for the tax have to pay the tax. Those who stand to pay have no greater voice than those who stand to benefit. That's probably not what the founding fathers had in mind.
An even greater perversion of the concept of "one man, one vote" is the income tax. The U.S. federal income tax as we know it wasn't introduced until 1913. Currently, federal tax receipts are roughly 20% of GDP. Prior to 1934, that figure was less than 5%. (That does not include state income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, etc) The income tax is progressive, so the more you earn, the more you pay. But it doesn't matter how much you pay in taxes, you still only get one vote.
When the republic was founded, it was probably unimaginable that (a) the government would be such a large part of the economy, (b) the government would draw so much of its revenue from an income tax and (c) the burden of the tax would not be shared equally by all citizens. The basic concept of "one man, one vote", although applied imperfectly at different times, has evolved into a fundamental principle, having originated in the days before the progressive income tax and the welfare superstate. Is "one man, one vote" still the fairest way to apportion political power? Of course it is. Provided, however, that you are a net recipient of government spending.
The arguments for progressive taxation are (a) altruism -- those who can afford to pay more to help the less fortunate should do so, and (b) fairness -- those who have more are said to benefit proportionally more from some of the goods, such as protection and land improvements, provided by the government. I can agree with that. On the other hand, it would also be a simple matter of fairness and reciprocity to give those who pay more taxes a larger role in determining how their taxes should be used.
For example, every person would get one vote, and everybody would also get one additional vote for every thousand dollars they pay in taxes. If you pay $50,000 to the IRS, you get 50 extra votes for Congressman, Senator and President. If you pay $10,000 a year in property taxes, you get an extra ten votes in local races. Here in Seattle, senior citizens get a 20%+ discount on property taxes. I don't have a problem with that. After all, not all seniors are wealthy (though some are) and it would be cruel to kick low-income seniors out of their homes. On the other hand, those who accept the discount should show their gratitude by proportionally reducing their voice in community decisions. After all, they won't have to experience the consequences of their votes for the same length of time as the younger working people who get to pay full price for the privilege of living here.
And what better way could there be to deal with the wealthy tax-dodging blowhards like Arianna Huffington and Robert Scheer? Tell them that they either pay their fair share of taxes or lose some of their influence. At the same time, what better and fairer way could there be to restrain runaway taxation and lousy government than to simply give the government's best customers more input over all those wonderful services that the government forces them to buy.
Last night I went to see a screening of Various Positions, the award-winning film by Vancouver film-maker Ori Kowarsky. It was a very good film, which depicted the relationship between an Orthodox Jewish college student and his alluring but troubled and not very Jewish girlfriend Cheryth. Family crises and relationship turmoil ensue. After the film we had a Q&A and a reception with Ori, where we learned about the differences between interlaced video and 24 frame-per-second film, and also that every guy in the audience has dated someone like Cheryth.
Do try to see the film if it's showing in your area. If you happen to be involved in selecting Jewish films for organized events, you should consider the film for your program.
I look forward to Ori's next effort! And to more film events organized by The Warren Report
The Seattle Public Schools are in the process of revising the high school graduation requirements. Among some of the proposed new requirements is the following:
Areas of proficiencyI haven't seen any specific proposals that explain how one might demonstrate he is "proficient at diversity", so I'm not sure what they mean. I think about my son David, who should be in the high school class of 2020. His paternal grandfather is a Jewish Israeli, his maternal grandparents were born in Korea, his half-sister is 3/8 black and 1/8 American Indian. I'll be fascinated to see what the Seattle Public Schools are going to teach David about being proficient at diversity.
The student will demonstrate competency in targeted skills in each of the following areas of proficiency. These demonstrations will take the form of exhibitions, projects, portfolios or performances.Communication (2008) Quantitative and Scientific Reasoning (2009) Democracy, Diversity and Community Stewardship (2010) Career Awareness and Life Skills (2011) The Arts (2012)
In the meantime, among the other essentials the Seattle Schools might want to add to its graduation requirements:
* Safe and responsible firearm use
* Capitalism and the free-market
* How to be a self-sufficient member of society who doesn't expect the government to satisfy his every whim.
My father, Hebrew University political scientist Ira Sharkansky, responds to Thomas Friedman's latest column
As of 11:08 pm, King County Election Division reports that with 97% of precincts in:
The latte tax has been vaporized, 68% - 32%, while the marijuana initiative has passed 59% - 41%
The top two vote getters in each city council race will run off in November. Most notably, septuagenarian former Seattle Times gossip columnist Jean Godden beat out the three best people in the race to topple Judy Nicastro.
|Alki Foundation||Rosencrantz||Pageler|| |
|Seattle Times||Min |
Meanwhile, in the school board races, barking lunatic anti-chocolate milk activist Brita Butler-Wall pulled off a regrettably strong finish. The November school board race will be at large.
|Alki Foundation||Peterson||Flynn||Waldman||Stewart |
|Seattle Education Ass.|| |
|Shark Blog||Peterson||Brown||Waldman|| |
The unchallenged Kool-aid drinkers will remain in control of the Seattle Unpopular Monorail Authority. If you want to help me kill this boondoggle, more of you will have to write in my name in the November election.
Tuesday, September 16 is election day in Seattle and King County. It is my first election since moving here. Lots of local offices and a few initiatives are on the ballot. In the postings below I compare endorsements from local newspapers and institutions and offer recommendations of my own.
As a guide to compare other people's endorsements -- I've found that the Seattle Times is right more often than it is wrong, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is hardly ever right, the alternative weeklies Seattle Weekly and The Stranger are reliably on the lunatic-fringe left, the Alki Foundation (the political arm of the Chamber of Commerce) is generally trustworthy, while an endorsement from the Seattle Education Association should be viewed as the kiss of death.
Although I have hundreds of readers around the US and around the world, I have no idea how many of you actually live in Seattle. Let me know if any of this is useful. Do you agree with my endorsements or am I off the mark? Post a comment or send me an email
The Seattle City Council is in terrible shape, a civic embarassment. Among the fiascos in the last few years were resolutions to ban circus animals, breach dams in Eastern Washington, keep Saddam Hussein in office, and promote unlawful immigration. Oh yeah, and then there was the massive deficit in the government-owned power utility. Most recently we had a "scandal" fabricated by the media about a strip club parking lot, where the council members didn't do anything wrong at first, but then completely mishandled the misplaced criticism. If any public corporation had such an inept board of directors it would be ripe for a hostile takeover. I don't know, maybe Bellevue can buy us out. In the meantime, we have some incumbent council members to unelect: Nicastro, Wills and Compton, the Strippergate 3. Especially Heidi Wills the elephant queen, and Judy Nicastro, the student politician who never grew up and still believes in rent control. It's time for them to go.
Seattle happens to have the nuttiest system for electing council members that I've ever heard of. There are nine numbered seats and every seat is elected at large. No, there are no districts (as in most cities), and no, it is not the case that the top nine vote getters all win seats (as in San Francisco). Each candidate chooses a seat to contest and everybody in town votes for each seat separately. So we have nine people all elected at large by more or less the same thin majority coalition, pretending to represent the entire city. And who does one call if one has an issue with city hall, especially if you are of an underrepresented minority (e.g. Republican small business owner) that nobody seems to want in their coalition?
Four of the nine seats are contested in this primary. A table of endorsements is below.
Most of the attention is on Seat #1. Judy Nicastro appears to be the least responsible and most vulnerable member of the council. Unfortunately, the three best candidates in the entire field are all challenging Nicastro, while two seats don't have any attractive candidates.
he thinks the city's housing crunch should be first addressed through changes in the land-use code that allow for increased housing density and smaller lots.Well, yeah.
Robert Rosencrantz has the most solid pro-business credentials in the entire field.
While I'd be happy to see both Smith and Rosencrantz on the council, my personal support in the race goes to Kollin Min. Kollin happens to be a neighbor and our families have become friends. He's more liberal than I am on a number of issues, but he has many good ideas and admirable personal qualities -- he's bright, hard-working, decent, approachable -- and I think he will raise the level of professionalism and seriousness on the council. In his stump speech, he campaigns against the council's circus animal/dam breaching/foreign policy hijinx, and he talks of the need for the city to diversify the economic base and to relax some of its counterproductive zoning regulations. Among his notable accomplishments, he has raised millions of dollars for the Cascades Conservation Partnership, which protects environmentally valuable land the smart, sustainable way -- by buying it for preservation. We can use more of that market-oriented win-win thinking around here.
Margaret Pageler seems to be the most sensible of the incumbents, not having been associated with the council's silliest excesses.
I hesitate to endorse anybody in races #7 and #9, but I'm voting for the least objectionable challangers only to send a message to incumbents Wills and Compton. Hopefully, better candidates will rise to the occasion next time.
|Alki Foundation||Rosencrantz||Pageler|| |
|Seattle Times||Min |
Seattle schools are in crisis. There is a $35 million deficit (being successfully closed, apparently) and the superintendent who created the deficit was thrown out on his ear and yet to be replaced. Many of the local schools have earned a "No Child Left Behind" failing grade. My family moved to Seattle because it is one of the few big cities that still has a few good public schools. I want that to still be the case when my son David is ready to start school in a few years. I would like to say get rid of the bums who were asleep at their desks while the superintendent ran up the deficit. Unfortunately, most of their challengers seem to be even worse.
I get to vote only in District 2, where the race is between incumbent Steve Brown and challenger Darlene Flynn. Flynn is endorsed by just about everybody in town, including groups that are normally at odds, so she must be some kind of a white knight. Either that, or she's done a good job at fooling somebody, we just don't know whom. The biggest red flag is the endorsement by the Seattle Education Association. The schools exist to serve public school children and their families, using the community's resources wisely. Teachers should be supported as professionals and valued employees, but the relationship between the teachers' union and the school board is inherently adversarial. Looking to the teachers' union for school board endorsements is like asking France and Saudi Arabia to help pick undersecretaries for the U.S. State Department. I will not vote for a school board candidate who accepts a teacher union endorsement. If you are running for school board and you do not understand who you work for and that accepting teacher union support is a fundamental conflict of interest, then you should not be in charge of the school system.
There are four open spots on the school board. The following table shows who is endorsing whom. The candidate that the lunatic left is most excited about this season is Brita Butler-Wall. She is also the one most likely to inflict long-lasting damage on the school system. A barking mad Green Party activist, her priorities are to prevent high school students from (a) drinking chocolate milk and (b) joining the military. The Seattle P-I applauds her as "an outspoken activist on school commercialism" and the Stranger calls her a "mature realist". Enough said. The other favorite liberal candidate is Theresa Cardamone, who is best known as the lady who
has delighted some observers at School Board meetings and appalled others by her performances with her young daughter of Broadway show tunes rewritten to lampoon [former Superintendent] Olchefske and the board.
|Alki Foundation||Peterson||Flynn||Waldman||Stewart |
|Seattle Education Ass.|| |
|Shark Blog||Peterson||Brown||Waldman|| |
The two ballot initiatives are:
I-77, the "espresso tax", which would impose a 10¢ a cup tax on all espresso beverages sold to pay for childcare programs. Vote NO. Although it has been sold as a way to fund early education for low-income children, the text of the initiative makes clear that only a fraction of the funds would be earmarked to benefit low-income families, most of the money would be used to subsidize childcare for other families, including high-earning dual career couples. The burden would be borne mainly by low-margin small business owners, their employees and those who happen to drink espresso beverages instead of other forms of coffee. Indeed, the promoters of the initiative have a largely underreported hidden agenda, which is to raise wages for and to unionize childcare workers. (HINT: if you want to make a service more available to low-income people, do not start by raising the cost of the most significant input). A list of the initiative's financial backers tells the story. 25% of the money for the campaign comes from outside of Seattle (i.e. from folks who won't share in the burden of the tax). 38% of the money comes from the Economic Opportunity Institute, a union funded think tank that is involved in the movement to raise wages for and to unionize childcare workers. Other major contributors include Seattle Education Association, Washington Education Association, King County Labor Council, Washington State AFL-CIO, Washington Federation of Teachers and the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, a Washington, DC-based union-oriented PAC.
There may well be a case for municipal funding of childcare for low-income families, but taxing only certain beverages to pay for everybody's childcare while simultaneously unionizing daycare workers is a hideous idea and should be soundly rejected.
I-75, which would require the police to make enforcement of marijuana possession laws (for personal adult use) the lowest priority. Vote YES. The police surely have more important things to worry about. Some object to the initiative because it's symbolic and won't have much of a practical impact. So? Others object on the grounds that it's not appropriate for the public to tell the police how to do their jobs. No, it is appropriate for the public and council to both make laws and to set priorities for law enforcement.
Summary: YES on 75, NO on 77
There are so few Republicans in local government here, and it's just not healthy for any community to let one party dominate everything. Especially when that one party is the Democrats.
Vote for Richard Pope, Republican for King County Assessor.
You would think that The Port of Seattle, which operates a major international shipping port along with Sea-Tac airport, should be a self-sustaining operation as are most major port authorities. But it's not. It is subsidized by property taxes:
One of the biggest issues of the past year was the commissioners' decision to raise property taxes 37 percent. Nordquist voted in favor of the tax, but Edwards didn't. Nordquist defended the commission's 4-1 vote, saying the Port needed more tax revenue to keep down the cost of borrowing money for investments in the airport and seaport.
Vote to keep Bob Edwards, who opposed the tax increase.
Vote for Alec Fisken to replace Clare Nordquist, who supported the tax increase.
A year ago, Seattle voters narrowly approved a monorail system with the goal of reducing freeway congestion. You will note, however, that the system covers only a small portion of the city, and the only neighborhoods that it would serve are, uh, far from the freeways anyway. Hint: probably won't do much to reduce freeway congestion. The monorail is funded by an ad valorem tax on automobiles registered in Seattle, meaning that the people who are forced to pay for the monorail are precisely the set of people who the least likely to ever ride the thing. And the more people who love the monorail enough or hate the tax enough to get rid of their cars -- the less money is available for the monorail.
Wait, it gets worse. The people behind the initiative misunderestimated the available auto tax revenue by several millions of dollars annually (The guy most directly responsible for the bogus estimates is appropriately named Malarkey). And then the monorail board tried for a while to cover up the deficit. So now the project doesn't have enough funding to be built. Without placing an additional burden on the taxpayer. Which you know they will try to do. So it's time to shut the thing down.
There are two board seats up for election. In spite of the fact that only 23% of registered voters bothered to say "Yes, we need a monorail" last year (and on the basis of phoney numbers, no less) NONE of the candidates in the running want to pull the plug. They're all a bunch of Kool-aid drinkers who think the monorail is really, really neat, even though it is FUBAR.
Don't vote for any of them.
Write in my name. If elected, I promise to pull the plug on the monorail.
My King County Council representative is Cynthia Sullivan, who has held the seat for 20 years. That is too long for anybody to hold such an office. Her challenger is a perky young man named Bob Ferguson, running on the slogan "Time for a Change". Bob is a former head of the King County Democratic Party, so I doubt he would change all that much, but I was inclined to vote for him, if only to freshen the ideas circulating on the county board. But then I read this recent report:
A telling moment came during candidate interviews when Ferguson repeated an earlier call for the council to pass a resolution condemning the Iraq war. A more practical Sullivan said, "Not on my watch."That Ferguson is nutty enough to be nostalgic for Saddam Hussein is one thing, but that he campaigns for the King County Council to take a stand on the issue is another. And while County Councilman Bob Ferguson is off crafting U.S. foreign policy, who does he think is going to be keeping an eye on the King County budget? Condoleezza Rice?
You lose, Bob. I'm sticking with Cynthia Sullivan.
Here's what I learned from Canada today --
a) The best way to get people to stop smoking marijuana is to put the government in charge of growing marijuana.
b) The best way to get people to not watch movies is to put the government in charge of producing movies.
Tune in to the next installment of "Things we can learn from Canada" where we ponder the question: "What is the best way to stop people from getting suitable medical care?"
What would we do without U.N. envoys?
U.N. Envoy: Mideast Talks Break Down
The chief U.N. envoy to the Middle East declared Monday that the Israeli-Palestinian peace process has broken down(yes, I stole the "What would we do without...?" device from Best of the Web)
Activist Watch: In the article linked above, look for the picture of the "activists" with the caption:
Activists from the Fatah movement stand under tents they pitched in Arafat's compound, saying they would serve as human shields to protect Arafat from a possible Israeli raidIf "activists" are people who risk their lives to defend murdering terrorists, should I be equally fearful of the damage that can be done by, say, "public transportation activists"? In fact, I should be!
People with too much time on their, uh, hands:
Two Bellingham women set world record for teeter-tottering
Brandi Carbee and Natalie Svenvold of Bellingham set a world record for teeter-tottering on Sunday — 75 hours after they plopped down for the challenge.At least they're striving to fulfill an ambition and not just, say, sitting around on their asses.
The Ninth Circuit has put the recall election on hold:
A federal appeals court postponed California's Oct. 7 gubernatorial recall election, ruling the historic vote cannot proceed as scheduled because some votes would be cast using outmoded punch-card ballot machines.That's funny. The ACLU didn't seem to have a problem with the punch-card ballots a month before last year's vote when Davis was up for re-election. Presumably because Davis had a comfortable lead in the polls. Good old American Civil Liberties Union, fending off all those civilians to uphold the liberties of the entrenched political elite.
In what was the last of about a dozen legal challenges trying to delay or thwart the recall to unseat Gov. Gray Davis, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Monday it is unacceptable that six counties would be using outdated punch-card ballots, the type that sparked the "hanging chads" litigation in Florida during the 2000 presidential election.
The appellate panel agreed with the American Civil Liberties Union that the voting machines were prone to error and that Davis' fate could be decided later.
It doesn't sound like there would be much of a downside to killing Arafat, at least according to Saeb Erekat, who admits that a major terrorist organization would be "killed" but that at most only one other Palestinian would be killed in the resulting turmoil
Erekat, an Arafat loyalist, said the death of
the Palestinian leader would lead to anarchy in the PA. "Deportation would lead to killing Arafat, and if Arafat is killed then the Palestinian Authority is also killed," Erekat told Army Radio. "Probably the first thing they will do is come to my house and shoot me, and kill me and kill all Palestinian moderates."
Seattle goes to the polls for a primary election on Tuesday. Watch this space for endorsements and whatever the opposite of endorsements is. Here at the Shark Blog we cover all the important races: Latte Tax (you're kidding, right?), Pot smoking (the police surely have more important things to worry about ), city council (throw the bums out!), school board (keep the bums in, the challengers are worse!), monorail board (shut the whole thing down!), port commission! county council! More democracy than anybody knows what to do with!
Hans Ze Beeman from Aachen explains Why the German Gutmensch doesn't understand 9-11
Ze'ev Schiff, always worth reading, says that the Sharon government's threat to remove Arafat was a dead end maneuver.
No predictions from me, but given the international outcry on Arafat's behalf, I think it would be difficult for Israel to act against Arafat in the absence of a new provocation. You'd think that the last pair of suicide bombings would have been sufficient provocation, not to mention all the other terrorist attacks since the "Oslo peace", or for that matter, all the terror attacks before Oslo. But, given that the Jews are the Chosen People -- chosen, apparently, to stand down from defending themselves when attacked -- the window of world sympathy after an attack is measured in minutes. So if Israel were to act against Arafat, the time to do it would be immediately after the next serious terror attack.
Put yourself in the shoes of Yassir Arafat and his closest advisors. You are deranged and bloodthirsty, but not altogether stupid and you have a talent for self-preservation if nothing else. You would probably conclude along with your insurance underwriter that the single biggest threat to your own longevity is another terrorist attack. You might bet that American pressure, threats to target all Israelis (now how is that different from the status quo?), and using cute little girls as human shields will prevent the Israelis from killing you. Then again, that might not. In a nut shell, you have a gun to your head. You get to save face by having a block party, but you are under house arrest and you have a gun to your head. Wouldn't you try with everything you have to make sure that there aren't any more terrorist attacks for a while?
That's no guarantee that some Al Aqsa Martyrs dude won't try to be a "hero", but I'd be surprised if Arafat weren't trying to clamp down on his people.
And if I were Sharon, the next time there was a terror attack, I wouldn't announce my intentions, I'd just go and take Arafat out while the TV networks are still broadcasting scenes from the funerals of his victims.
I have been graciously inducted into the Bear Flag League, a tightly-organized and well-disciplined branch of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, consisting of various conservative, neo-conservative and libertarian bloggers from California. I was admitted under a special exemption for former Californians who own California corporations, pay California taxes and host their websites at California data centers. Plus, I write about California issues (Robert Scheer! Ruth Rosen! Cruz Bustamecha!) and I'm always careful to follow the script handed down to me by my commanders at VRWC headquarters.
The list of the flag-bearing Bear-Flaggers is in the blogroll.
Colin Powell September 14, 2003
Israel would incite rage not only among Arabs but also Muslims everywhere by exiling or executing Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday
This sounds familiar. Oh, yeah...
Hosni Mubarak March 2003
Egypt's president said he could not stop U.S.-led warships from crossing the Suez Canal toward Iraq, and warned a drawn out war would lead to increased Islamic militancy throughout the world.
"If there is one (Osama) bin Laden now, there will be 100 bin Ladens afterward,"
In These Times Autumn 2001
In bombing Afghanistan, George W. Bush has handed Osama bin Laden a major victory... The United States has reacted to September 11 just as bin Laden and his ilk hoped it would: Bush has given the radical mullahs a new weapon with which to inflame the Muslim street.
Sadly, Muslim rage seems to be caused by things other than defensive actions taken against Afghanistan, Saddam Hussein or Yassir Arafat.
Today's asinine headline from the Ass. Press:
Palestinian schoolchildren express support for Arafat.
But this is not as much an "expression of support" as it is child abuse and state-sponsored truancy:
The Ministry of Education asked teachers in Ramallah to bring students to Arafat's office yesterday, which is normally a full day of classes.That is also a violation of the Geneva Conventions' prohibition on human shields
"With our souls and our blood we defend Abu Ammar," the children shouted, using Arafat's nom de guerre.
The presence or movements of the civilian population or individual civilians shall not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations, in particular in attempts to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield, favour or impede military operations.Where are the international human rights monitors when Palestinian children need them most?
I had quite a fun day yesterday, went hiking at Mt. Rainier for the first time. Weather was glorious, scenery spectacular and no flying lava!
For dinner I went to Georgia's Greek Restaurant to see friends (and Shark Blog readers!) Hank Bradley and Cathie Whitesides play Greek music with co-star Yanni Novakis. They played Misirlou and Hava Nagila. Lechaim! Efkharisto! And the halibut was excellent.
Then the belly dancers came out. Yow. I'd like to be able to tell you that somebody kept handing me shots of something and pushed me out on the floor with the belly dancers, that I don't remember anything more about the evening; that I didn't wake up until noon -- on my front lawn, with a splitting headache, an empty ouzo bottle lying next to me and an unfamiliar tattoo on my left buttocks. But that would be a tall tale. I woke up at 8 and how would I know whether or not there was a tattoo on my backside?
This is an unconscionable example of the federal government undermining a parent's authority in his own home.
The Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission [a more apt name would be the Appeasement and Injustice Commission] voted to support a Congressional resolution to investigate Rachel Corrie's accidental death. On the other hand, the commission rejected a proposed amendment that would also demand an investigation into the deaths of American citizens who were murdered in Hamas suicide bombings. This is not mere moral equivalence, it is moral inequivalence!
The Berkeley City Council voted to accept the recommendation of the Appeasement and Injustice Commission. A letter will be sent, in the name of the people of Berkeley, to President Bush, Senators Boxer and Feinstein, and Representative Barbara Lee, calling for an investigation into the since closed issue of Rachel Corrie's self-inflicted accidental death while interfering with an Israeli defensive operation. In the streaming video of the council meeting, one can hear the squeals of joy from audience members applauding the council's vote to condemn, in essence, Israel's right to defend itself.
The Northern California Jewish Bulletin has more of the story.
The Appeasement and Injustice Commission provides contact numbers for the commission members who supported the resolution. Presumably because they seek feedback from the public. Why not help them out and give them a call to let them know how you feel about their vision of "peace and justice"?
Chair Anne Wagley (510) 204-9505
George Lipmann (510) 843-1160
[hat tip: Moisey Assiq]
Commentary from my father, Hebrew University political scientist Ira Sharkansky
Why is it that all those who try to stick up for MEChA come off so ... unconvincing? The latest attempt to defend MEChA comes from Los Angeles Times Associate Editor Frank del Olmo: Mechistas? It's Mucho Ado About Nada [registration required. There is also a copy here]
It shouldn't surprise anyone who reads this column that I was active in the again-controversial Latino student group MEChA during my college days.He claims that as a student and MEChA activist at UCLA and Cal State Northridge all he wanted was to "help get more Latinos into college" and that turning the Southwest United States into a Chicano homeland was not on his agenda. Fair enough.
But that has not stopped some folks from trying to equate MEChA with hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan. Some of these claims are based on genuine confusion, such as attributing offensive political slogans once used by other Chicano groups ("For the race, everything. Outside the race, nothing") to MEChA.Is he seriously denying that MEChA has ever used the "For the race..." slogan and that any overblown MEChista rhetoric is only from the past.
Of course, the rhetoric some then-Mechistas used was overblown.
All Nationally recognized MEChA chapters understand that our founding documents are the fundamentals to MEChA. They not only guide us through difficult every day conflicts but they are also useful tools that help define our role in institutions of higher learning.These documents include El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán, which contains the phrase: Por La Raza todo. Fuera de La Raza nada, along with a bunch of other bizarre stuff such as "We do not recognize capricious frontiers on the bronze continent". So maybe it's easy to see why so many would be genuinely confused into attributing the "offensive political slogan" and "overblown rhetoric" to today's MEChA instead of to some other organizations from the 1960s.
Frank del Olmo is the Associate Editor of the Los Angeles Times. From his prominent listing in the editorial directory, I assume that's a fairly responsible position. How does one explain that such a senior journalist would make statements that are both central to his argument and so blatantly and verifiably false? Either he lied, he wasn't observant enough to pick up on what was happening around him in MEChA, and/or he failed to do the most basic research. Whatever the cause, it's a pretty sorry reflection on MEChA, del Olmo and the Los Angeles Times.
Vancouver filmmaker (and regular Shark Blog reader, I learned!) Ori Kowarsky e-mailed to let me know that his award-winning film Various Positions will be shown in Seattle next Tuesday. The film tells the story of Orthodox Jewish Josh and his roller-coaster relationship with the "alluring and troubled - and not quite Jewish - Cheryth", and more.
The film won the PRIX DE MONTREAL last year for best feature film by an emerging filmmaker.
I'm excited to go see this film, next Tuesday, September 16 at 7:30 at the Seattle Art Museum. Ori will be fielding questions from the audience after the screening, with the help of Warren Etheridge.
Ralf Goergens emailed with a head's up on a Neo-nazi terror plot that was foiled by German authorities. Four skinheads were arrested Wednesday at a Munich apartment in possession of guns, explosives, hand grenades and Nazi propaganda. They were apparently planning to blow up the groundbreaking ceremony of a new synagogue / Jewish community center and museum on November 9. November 9 is of particular significance as it is the anniversary of the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch and the 1938 Kristallnacht pogrom.
Something is about to happen to Yassir Arafat. The Palestinians are getting nervous
A senior Palestinian security official condemned Israel's decision in principle on Thursday to exile Yasser Arafat, saying such a move would destabilise the Middle East.Well yes, and that's the whole point. The existing "stability" isn't working very well.
That great prognosticator Hosni Mubarak is also worried:
Mubarak said an expulsion of Arafat would be a "grave mistake" that would create a "dangerous situation" that could end in terrorist attacks. He said at a news conference in Rome after meeting with Italy's leader that Arafat still "has the capacity" to help reach Middle East peace.Mubarak, recall, is the fellow to whom the United States pays billions of dollars in foreign aid, apparently for his always-wrong one-note pony advice about the Arab world: (Mubarak, September 2002):
"I welcome President Bush's statements on Iraq and his leaving the door ajar for a vital role to be played by the United Nations, especially the Security Council," Mubarak said in an interview with the official MENA news agency.(Mubarak, March 2003):
"This would hopefully help find a way out, which would spare all parties negative repercussions which might be spawned by the escalation, and will also retain the sovereignty and integrity of Iraq," he stressed.
Egypt's president said he could not stop U.S.-led warships from crossing the Suez Canal toward Iraq, and warned a drawn out war would lead to increased Islamic militancy throughout the world.Israel probably won't act in opposition to the United States, but the US has reiterated only its disapproval of expelling Arafat, not its opposition to killing him:
"If there is one (Osama) bin Laden now, there will be 100 bin Ladens afterward,"
At the State Department, spokesman Richard Boucher again said the Bush administration was opposed to expelling Arafat.
``Our view of Mr. Arafat hasn't changed,'' Boucher said. ``Our view is that he is part of the problem, not part of the solution.''
However, the spokesman said, ``we think it would not be helpful to expel him because it would just give him another stage to play on.''
What are the root causes of the shocking and tragic assassination of Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh? Not a cowboy gun culture, apparently. I blame knives, socialism and universal healthcare. Michael Moore, call your office!
Mrs. Shark left me this morning, taking David with her. She went to California for a week to help her mother, who is recovering from surgery. As far as I know, they'll back next Wednesday. Still, this is almost the longest separation we have suffered in more than six years. I am helpless. Back in the San Francisco house, I knew where everything was. It was my house before we were married, I set it all up. The wife worked and I had to share in the household chores. Here in Seattle, Irene is taking a break from work and has been an effective homemaker while I toil away at my business. I know nothing about taking care of the house or where anything is. Dishtowels? Mayonnaise? Toilet paper?
Blogging might be heavy, as I may have difficulty finding other ways to entertain myself.
More noises that Israel is planning a major move against Arafat in the coming days.
According to [an unnamed Israeli official], the cabinet would discuss Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's role in the recent violence, as he is viewed as "the one mainly responsible for the current situation."As I mentioned yesterday, many Israeli officials believe that expulsion would only give Arafat a world stage upon which to cause trouble. From his part, Arafat has long insisted that he will not accept expulsion and would rather die as a "martyr"
This, the official said, was in addition to his responsibility for many years of "bloodshed and other acts of cruelty."
The official added that some of the ministers are expected to demand the expulsion of the PA chairman.
"No one can kick me out," Arafat said at his West Bank compound. Asked if he would leave of his own accord, he said, "definitely not."I never make predictions, but I will observe that an Israeli attack on Arafat's muqata with the pretext of expelling him would almost certainly lead to a gun battle in which there would be few Palestinian survivors.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer wants to reform the United Nations:
There are plenty of reasons why we need the United Nations -- and why its reform is worth pursuing.As I read this, I thought, "great!", maybe someone at the P-I has access to a set of clues after all. But that was before I read this line:
The United Nations could (like most governments) be improved on a number of levels.[emphasis mine].
Oy. The UN is not a government, it is an arena for international cooperation. It has never been a government. It should never be a government. The Seattle Post Intelligencer might like the idea of delegating US sovereignty to a collection including, say, Iran, North Korea and Zimbabwe, but most of the rest of us will say "no thank you!" to this proposal.
The UN does need reform -- in the direction of reducing its clout and lowering the expectations we have of it, not in the direction of trying (and naturally failing) to turn it into a "government".
As I read between the lines of today's Ha'aretz online, I wonder whether Israel might be on the verge of finally killing Yasser Arafat.
This column, by cabinet minister Yosef Paritzky, explains why the oft-discussed proposal to exile Arafat is not a good idea:
The expulsion would bestow upon Arafat status as an exiled ruler, as a kind of martyr cast out of his homeland by a cruel conqueror. There would be no better way to confer to Arafat such vaunted international status, precisely the image he so badly craves. The elite corridors in Europe would open up to him; international media would regularly interview him; and such success would be nothing, compared to the way Arafat's stock would soar in the Arab world. Have we become so witless that we would, on our own initiative, grant Arafat such lofty stature?On the other hand, unnamed senior Israeli officials say:
Israel's response to the bombings would be harsh and swift. The source said that a response was expected during the course of the coming weekend.and
Asked to respond to the growing calls for the expulsion of Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, a senior member of the Israeli delegation to India said that "a decision will have to be made about him. Arafat is the main hindrance to the peace process, and we have seen how he brought about the resignation of Abu Mazen. Arafat continues to advocate a strategy of terror as a means of exerting pressure during negotiations, and he will not be allowed to succeed."So keeping Arafat under virtual house arrest has not worked and exiling Arafat will not work. What would be the other options for removing him from the scene?
Please, no wagering.
Here is a brief comparison of academia in Israel vs. academia in Arab countries. Israeli academics dedicate themselves to investigating difficult scientific problems in order to discover things that can benefit all of humanity. For example, Israel is one of the world's leading centers of stem cell research and is making progress treating severe spinal cord injuries.
Egyptian scholars, on the other hand, dedicate themselves to investigating this sort of thing:
An Egyptian lawyer said on Wednesday he was planning to sue the world's Jews for "plundering" gold during the Exodus from Pharaonic Egypt thousands of years ago, based on information in the Bible.Investigate away, boys.
Nabil Hilmi, Dean of the Faculty of Law at Egypt's al-Zaqaziq University, said the legal basis for the case was under study by a group of lawyers in Egypt and Europe.
"This is serious, and should not be misread as being political against any race. We are just investigating if a debt is owed," Hilmi told Reuters in a telephone interview.
The San Francisco Chronicle is all over a local television journalist for supporting a political candidate:
A San Francisco Bay area television station's business editor contributed $1,000 to Arnold Schwarzenegger, breaking an old industry taboo against reporters supporting political campaigns.Meanwhile, the San Francisco Chronicle's editorial page publishes advertorials for the other side:
Brian Banmiller, business editor for KTVU Channel 2 News, asked the Schwarzenegger campaign to return the money Tuesday after inquiries from The Associated Press, said Ed Chapuis, news director at the Oakland-based station.
The contribution violated no station policy, though the station is developing guidelines for its employees, Chapuis said.
A FEW WEEKS AGO, Arnold Schwarzenegger was clearly the candidate to beat on Oct. 7. With his Hollywood charm seducing the camera, he almost succeeded in acting like a serious candidate.No word yet whether Ruth Rosen will return the salary the Chronicle paid her for writing Gray Davis brochureware.
Since then, he has demonstrated how unprepared he is to run for governor.
Aside from his cowardice, Schwarzenegger is a candidate who has little to offer as governor:
At the same time, I want to remind Californians why they should vote "no" on the recall...
David probably had the best time in Victoria out of all of us. Here are some shots of David:
Trying on daddy's sunglasses
Driving the tour bus
Stopping to smell the flowers in Butchart Gardens
I guess it's not only MEChA that does not recognize the borders of any colonial nation-state. That is also the official position of the Metropolitan King County Council!
The Shark family has returned from our brief and overall pleasant excursion to Victoria, BC. We took the Victoria Clipper directly from Seattle to Victoria. The boat goes through a body of water called the Strait of Juan de Fuca. When the boat captain made his announcements over the loudspeaker, I thought he was saying "Strait of Want-to-Puke-a", which is exactly what the choppy seas on the way up made us feel like. Once we arrived we had a glorious time. The weather was perfect, Victoria is a quaint and laid back place, the Butchart Gardens are gorgeous. The ride back was a lot smoother. Stay tuned, there will be photos. More snarky sharky goodness is on its way, too. First I have to catch up on some business.
In the meantime, go read these articles from today's National Post, which I saw at the hotel this morning:
1) Ottawa under fire over Sampson (about the just released William Sampson, a Canadian who was jailed and tortured in Saudi Arabia for a crime he did not commit).
2) Friend could hear Sampson screaming [in Saudi jail]
The print edition is also running a series of articles by Sampson himself on his 31-month experience with the Saudi "justice" system. Unfortunately it is not available online.
While local officials all over Washington state are actively encouraging illegal immigrants to inflitrate our borders, some Washington state officials are finally starting to get tough on at least some forms of illegal immigration:
Untold numbers of ship operators are lying, cheating or simply misunderstanding state rules designed to keep them from introducing invasive snails, crabs and other foreign species into Washington waters, according to a recent survey.Native species in every legislative district are calling on their elected representatives demanding action.
State rules adopted to prevent ships from accidentally transporting millions of nonnative species are so toothless that regulators plan to ask state lawmakers in January for the power to board and inspect ships to verify they're being followed.
On Sunday there was a rally protesting Seattle ballot initiative I-77 -- the "latte tax", which seeks to tax espresso beverages to fund childcare programs. I-77 is falsely being sold as a fair tax on a "luxury item" to fund childcare for low-income people. In fact, it would impose an unfair burden on any coffee house or restaurant that serves espresso (mainly small businesses that would have an unfunded mandate to install expensive new accounting systems to keep track of the newly taxed items) in order to subsidize childcare for more well-off dual income families than low income families. Yes, the proposal really is that stupid and hostile to small business. The latte tax is so obviously idiotic that even the Seattle Post-Intelligencer came out against it.
The rally was organized by the owners of my neighborhood coffee house, Zoka Coffee and Tea, in the theme of the Boston Tea Party. They rented a horse and covered wagon, dressed up in 1770s clothing, and led a procession through the neighborhood to Green Lake, complete with fife and drum.
The people in the crowd were mainly owners of various neighborhood coffee houses and their barristas. They chanted slogans such as "Yes on Education, No Unfair Taxation". "What do we want? Coffee! How do we want it? Tax free!"
The climax of the protest was when two of the guys threw fake bags of coffee out of a boat into the lake.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has a report on the protest.
The No on 77 website is here
The Associated Press reports on Israel's failed attempt today to exterminate the leadership of Hamas:
an Israeli warplane dropped a bomb through the window of a third-story apartment where top Hamas leaders had assembled to plan more attacks, Israeli officials said.Interestingly enough, the word ghoul is of Arabic origin. According to my Hans Wehr Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic, the word ghoul[ غول], whose Arabic spelling is identical to that of the last name of the escaped man, means:
Yassin was slightly wounded in his right hand, and 15 people were also hurt. Deif, the top fugitive, survived Israel's third attempt on his life; his assistant, Adnan Al-Ghoul, also got away, Israeli security officials said
a desert demon appearing in ever varying shapes (m. and f.); evil demon; monster; oger; (f.) witchThe noun ghoul is from the same root as a verb which translates as
to take (away) unawares, snatch, seize, grab; to destroy; to assassinate, murderIn addition to Adnan al-Ghoul, we are also familiar with former Hamas "activist" Muhammad al-Ghoul who murdered 19 people when he blew himself up on a Jerusalem bus last year.
This Halloween, when you think of ghouls and ghoulishness, think of Hamas!
MEChA doesn't have a national spokesman, but some of its activists and patrons are trying to defend both the group and its erstwhile member, Cruz Bustamante, from recent media criticism. I doubt that any of these statements will do either MEChA or Bustamante much good. This page at a MEChA-friendly website has the links.
First, there is an article by UC-San Diego professor and "former mechista" Jorge Mariscal: The Smearing of Bustamante: The Far Right and Anti-Mexican Racism . Instead of honestly addressing the concerns that many people have about MEChA, Mariscal changes the subject and demonizes MEChA's critics as "nativists" "anti-Mexican hate groups" and "racists". (Following Mariscal's logic, those of us who also criticized the segregationist tendencies of Trent Lott would simultaneously be "far-left anti-White racists") Mariscal dismisses Joseph Farah's concerns about Aztlanist separatism with
The fear of a brown planet so muddles the neo-con mind that Mexican Americans move easily from being radical separatists to covert al-Queda operatives.Oh, wait -- here's an article written by a former member of a Latino prison gang: Alleged 'Dirty Bomber' and I Would Have Been Prison Buddies
In federal custody, I knew a Mexican mafioso named Qeto who fasted for Ramadan as an expression of solidarity with Palestinians. He wasn't Muslim, but in his mind the Palestinians had their homeland stolen and were oppressed in much the same way as Mexicans.Acuna, professor of Chicano Studies at Cal State Northridge, also tries to defend MEChA in Fair and Unbalanced Racism. The article is full of spelling and grammar mistakes and factual errors -- a little disappointing for a tenured professor in a department whose mission includes teaching "Communication skills and critical reasoning"
Qeto fancied himself a Marxist revolutionary of the Che Guevara stripe. He was committed to a reconquest of the U.S. Southwest -- the mythical birthplace of the state of "Azatlan." He passed out Chicano scholar Rudolfo [sic] Acuna's book "Occupied America" to semi-illiterate Mexican gang members.
Acuna espouses the separatist gospel that "Anglo control of Mexico's Northwest territory (the U.S. Southwest) is an occupation." In Qeto's imagination, he and the Palestinians had a similar "stolen lands" quarrel with all imperialist governments of the world.
Fox News and OReilly also mistakenly say that MEChA's motto is "for the race, everything. For those outside the race, nothing." Again, they have gotten wrong [sic]; actually the motto of MECHA is "La union hace la fuerza" (Unity creates power). Further the gaggle charges that MECHA has 300 chapters in universities across the U.S. making the false assumption that they have a national organization with a national office. MECHA is a student organization with no formal central body, it has no national office, it has no budget, and it has no constitutionThis is evasive wordplay. While it may be correct that MEChA's motto is "La Union hace la fuerza", every chapter website that I've seen cites the "for the race..." slogan as among its fundamental principles. Acuna says nothing more about that slogan. Furthermore, MEChA certainly does have a national constitution [Hint: go to google and search for MEChA constitution] . Nearly every chapter website that I've seen cites the national constitution as the basis of the chapter constitution.
Ralph de Unamuno is a UCLA graduate student, "a MEChA alumni [sic]" and a "former advisor to a University MEChA chapter" who was recently quoted as a MEChA expert in a Los Angeles Times article. De Unamuno called charges that the group is KKK-like and wants to return the Southwestern United States to Mexico "extremely slanderous"
"It makes everyone feel pretty bad because, if you talk to most people in MEChA, most of their time is spent mentoring high school students or doing cultural events on campus," he said.De Unamuno has written a longer defense of MEChA, titled The Facts Behinds the Myths: Fox News, the GOP, and MEChA (this version is attributed only to Ralph U., other versions have appeared on the web under his full name)
Myth #1 MEChA’s motto is: “Por La Raza Todo, Fuera de La Raza Nada!”Like Acuna, De Unamuno doesn't address the ubiquitous "Por La Raza" slogan, he simply tells us that it is not the motto
Fact: MEChA’s motto is: “La Union Hace La Fuerza”
Myth #2: MEChA is a racist organization because its constitution is “El Plan de Aztlan” and its sole aims are to implement the goals printed in El Plan de Aztlan.More evasive wordplay. Nearly every chapter website that I've looked at says that "El Plan Espiritual de Aztlan" and its national-socialist principles are "fundamental" to MEChA.
A. MEChA has a formal constitution; “El Plan de Aztlan” is a document that was written before MEChA was in established
Myth #3: MEChA’s goals are to give the southwest back to MexicoYes, the correct interpretation is that MEChA does not recognize the borders of the United States.
Facts: ... we are internationalist in scope, and stand in solidarity and support the aboriginal rights of all the Indigenous peoples of the Americas and we no longer recognize the borders of any Colonial nation-state.
Myth #4: MEChA wants to create a separate nation-state only for Chicanos.Yeah, and jihad is not an armed struggle, but an internal struggle
A. MEChA refers to the liberation of Aztlan as the liberation of our people from oppressions and ignorance--- a spiritual liberation.
According to the US Census Bureau, California and Texas, for example, are each about 32% Hispanic. That is a large minority, but exactly that, a minority.
B. Unless you lived under a rock for the last 15 years, you should make a note of this: the southwest is already Chicana/o-Latina/o!
C. MEChA does not believe in nation-state borders… “We didn’t cross the borders, the borders crossed us!”In case you missed it the first time, MEChA does not recognize the borders of the United States.
Myth #5: MEChA is a violent organizationIt would be helpful if Ralph could explain why a non-violent organization requires as its logo an eagle holding a stick of dynamite.
Facts: MEChA is a non-violent organization
Myth #6: MEChA is affiliated with The Voz de Aztlan website.There is no indication that "MEChAs all over California" have denounced The Voz de Aztlan for its rabid anti-Semitism
Fact: MEChAs all over California have denounced The Voz de Azltan [sic] for its rabid homophobia.
Myth #7: MEChA is a radical & militant organizationIf that were all that MEChA stood for, it would win my applause, not my censure. But MEChA stands for quite a few other things.
Fact: If you think that getting Chicana/os and Latina/os to graduate from High School and obtain advanced degrees at colleges and Universities is a radical idea ...
MEChA seems to be recognized as the mainstream Mexican-American ethnic club at many dozens of schools, enjoying official and semi-official support and financing. Hopefully, more campus administrators and mainstream journalists will begin to realize that this might be a problem.
The House of Representatives narrowly approved (205-203) private-school vouchers for poor District of Columbia students today. Who were the 203 that would deny educational opportunities to some of our nation's most disadvantaged children? They include House Democrat Leader Nancy Pelosi and Seattle Democrat Jim McDermott, with support from Eleanor Holmes Norton:
Norton, the city's nonvoting delegate in Congress, said residents there don't want to be the subject of a national experiment.That's odd, Milwaukee has been running a vouchers experiment for years, and it's so well regarded that everybody in town wants to expand the program. Everybody, that is, except for some public school administrators and the teachers' union. Imagine that.
According to my dictionary (The Hans Wehr Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic), hudna translates as:
calm(ness), quietness, peace, tranquility,stillness; pause, intermission, cessation; truce, armisticeIt also seems to mean "Uncle!"
Hamas said on Friday it had met a Palestinian delegation in Cairo in recent days and was ready to discuss any idea - including a new truce - to stop what it called Israeli aggression against Palestinians.
Hamas, under relentless Israeli air strikes that have driven leaders underground, is facing its worst crisis with threats of instant assassination from the sky, loss of funding at home and abroad and a showdown with a reformist Palestinian Authority committed to a U.S.-backed peace plan.
The foreign ministers of the 15 member states of the European Union will convene on Friday in ItalyAt least we Jews can take consolation in the fact that we are not the only ones whom the Europeasers have chosen to forsake. The EU will also not be protecting zalzett, xkunvat or qaghaq tal-ghasel
to consider a proposal to place the political wing of the Hamas movement on a list of terrorist organizations
Italy, currently holding the rotating EU presidency, Great Britain, Germany, Holland and Luxembourg are pushing to rub out the distinctions between Hamas' political and military wings and designate the entire organization a terror group. Austria, Greece, and Ireland oppose this change.
Nevertheless, diplomatic sources in Israel say that France's position is not final.
Not a good omen for democracy in a future Palestinian state:
At the start of the parliamentary session, about 200 activists in Arafat's Fatah movement demonstrated in support of their leader. Seven masked men from the crowd broke down a door to the building and smashed windows before unarmed guards forced them out.Maybe the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is simply to make all those Palestinian "activists" take an anger management seminar.
It would be fascinating, I think, to observe a day in the life of our favorite Canardmeister, Robert "Three-Home" Scheer. In the meantime, I have to make do with my mental image of him -- waking up at the crack of noon, groaning and scratching himself as he fumbles his way out of bed. Still in his underwear, he opens the front door to look for the newspaper and has to walk all the way out to sidewalk to get it because that's where the never-been-tipped paperboy tosses it now. Peering at the newsprint through the smudged lenses of his spectacles, Scheer makes out only the words "Bush", "Iraq" and "mislead". "Aha!", he says to himself, "I knew Bush was lying", and then he sets his Canard-o-matic to "800 words", presses the PRINT button and crawls back into bed for his afternoon nap.
I can't think of any other explanation for Scheer's latest column: Bush was all too willing to use émigrés' lies, which cites a Los Angeles Times story that the case for war with Iraq was largely based on lies
Bush is such a master at deceiving the American public that even now he is not threatened with the prospect of impeachment or any serious congressional investigation into the possibility that he led this nation into war with lies.Yes, Bob, but whose lies were they? Robert Scheer artfully omits an important piece of context that was in the Times article:
officials say former Iraqi operatives have confirmed since the war that Hussein's regime sent "double agents" disguised as defectors to the West to plant fabricated intelligence. In other cases, Baghdad apparently tricked legitimate defectors into funneling phony tips about weapons production and storage sites.Ah. So it wasn't Bush who lied, but a miscalculating Saddam who lied. You wouldn't know that if you relied on Scheer's interpretation of the LA Times story. Then again, there are a lot of things you wouldn't know if you rely on Robert Scheer to explain the world to you.
"They were shown bits of information and led to believe there was an active weapons program, only to be turned loose to make their way to Western intelligence sources,"
Hussein's motives for such a deliberate disinformation scheme may have been to bluff his enemies abroad, from Washington to Tehran, by sending false signals of his military might. Experts also say the dictator's defiance of the West, and its fear of his purported weapons of mass destruction, boosted his prestige at home and was a critical part of his power base in the Arab world.
Hussein also may have gambled that the failure of United Nations weapons inspectors to find specific evidence identified by bogus defectors ultimately would force the Security Council to lift sanctions imposed after the 1991 Persian Gulf War. U.S. officials now believe Hussein hoped to then covertly reconstitute his weapons programs.
Finally, Robert Scheer shows off his knowledge of all things piscatorial:
American soldiers standing guard over the White House's imperial ambitions — a new Middle East as linchpin to a new world order — are now being shot like fish in a barrel.Skipping past the silly Leninist trope about "imperialism", are our soldiers being "shot like fish in a barrel"?
According to the Scripps Howard News Service, out of the 140,000 troops in Iraq, 70 have been killed in combat since the President declared an end to "major combat operations" on May 1. Those are 70 American soldiers I wish were still alive, but they represented 1 in 2,000. If you're shooting into a barrel of 2,000 fish and only manage to hit 1 of them, either you are not a very good shot, or the fish are doing a reasonable job of protecting themselves.
Ha'aretz (unarchived flash) quotes Colin Powell
If Palestinians don`t like the road map, I don`t know what they will likeI think I have a pretty good idea what they would like.
Here is a picture of the Chicano Room Mural at the University of Washington Ethnic Cultural Center, which serves as the campus MEChA chapter's headquarters.
I don't speak Spanish, but I believe "Somos Aztlan" means "We are Aztlan". (Somebody correct me if I'm wrong).
The artist's description of the mural refers to:
our drive for self-identity and self-determination.and says the mural is symbolic
of the nation within a nation we wish to build.Can you think of many of other immigrant groups (e.g. Jews, Poles, Irish, Koreans) who speak in terms of self-determination, of building a "nation within a nation" and equating their identity with a particular part of the United States? I can't. Put this mural and the Aztlan movement in the broader context of: demands for bilingual education, demands for preferential treatment in hiring and admissions, demands for full privileges for illegal immigrants; not to mention Mexican irredentism.
Yes, I think there is a significant separatist movement among Mexican Americans. I don't know how many Mexican Americans support it and to what extent, but it seems to be enough of a force that it should be taken seriously and actively rejected. Cruz Bustamante has failed to renounce it, and is therefore encouraging it. He has in my view, disqualified himself as a viable statewide official.
But the problem goes beyond Bustamante. The separatist movement is being encouraged and nourished in the public universities at taxpayer expense. Okay, the UW mural above is 30 years old. But that's not an excuse for the university to continue to celebrate it. Public policies that encourage separatism will inevitably lead to something like this
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer laments private initiatives that address the failures of state socialism:
As schools open, parents are digging deeper to support public schools. That's good of them, but it's unfortunate.God forbid that parents should actually do something to help their own kids instead of waiting for politicians to solve every problem.
The shift to private funding is part of a larger trend toward privatizing too much of what traditionally have been Americans' shared responsibilities. It's particularly worrisome when it results in damaging schools and their critical role preparing young people to act as citizens.
Eleanor Holmes Norton, Washington DC's non-voting delegate in the House of Representatives never wanted the United States to use its military to liberate Iraq because
Today we have a volunteer army whose race and class composition speaks to the absence of equal opportunity in civilian society. The middle and upper classes, for the most part, no longer serve and will not be on the front lines. African Americans are 25% of the U.S. Army, Hispanics are 9%, an army more than one third of whom are people of color.[aside: Hispanics are 12.5% of the U.S. population, so they're actually underrepresented in the military] Others have made similar claims that minorities are bearing a disproportionate share of casualties in Iraq.
It appears, however, that young African American men from Washington, DC might be safer going to war than staying at home.
According to this week's story from Scripps Howard News Service, there are 140,000 troops in Iraq, and there have been 286 fatalities from all causes since the war began in March (about 24 weeks ago). That gives us an annualized death rate of 443 per 100,000. Only about half of these deaths (147) were in combat, for a combat death rate of 228 per 100,000.
According to Center for Disease Control / National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, there were 21,836 young black men (age 18-30) in Washington DC in 2000, the latest year that mortality data is available. The total number of deaths in this group from all causes was 132, with 95 homicides. i.e. the death rate for this group was 604 per 100,000 and the murder rate was 435 per 100,000.
In other words, a young black male soldier from Washington DC would have been 36% more likely to die by staying at home than by serving in active duty in the Iraq war, and almost twice as likely to be murdered at home than to be killed in combat. Yes, that's horribly sad, but it puts a few things in perspective.
Meanwhile, what is Eleanor Holmes Norton doing to save the lives of the young men in her district who would be better off going to war than staying at home? She is fighting against school choice. Yeah, that'll do it.
While the rest of the country is fixated on the California recall, Seattle goes to the polls on Sept. 16 to elect a host of local officials.
The most serious candidate in the race is Cindi Laws, director of the Rainier Institute, which is described as a "non-partisan progressive think tank" ("non-partisan" in the sense that is "non-Republican"). Although the monorail is funded by a tax on automobiles[sic], Cindi Laws' main qualification for the job is that she rides the bus.
"I make less than $50,000 a year," she said. "I came from a background off and on public assistance."Better put her financial acumen to work overseeing the Monorail's multi-billion dollar budget.
Laws' best known opponent, on the other hand, is no idiot. Stan Lippman has earned a B.S. in physics from New York University; a Ph.D. in physics from Johns Hopkins University; and a J.D. from the University of Washington. He's not a dummy, but he is a lunatic. His prior experience is that he
has entered local races on a platform of opposing mandatory vaccinations. Regarding the monorail, Lippman said the region would be best served by a 200-mile elevated system that uses frictionless, magnetic-levitation train technology.Maybe Spacely Sprockets can win the contract.
Last week I posted a jpg of the MEChA logo (eagle with dynamite and sword) that I found at the University of Michigan chapter's website. It's a crude image, maybe it's just a photo of some relic left over from the 1960s that somebody is fond of for sentimental reasons.
Then I found this MEChA logo over at the University of Washington chapter's website. It looks like a relatively new computer graphic logo, very skillfully done.
[click on the image for a full-size version and notice how sharp and clear the stick of dynamite is. I guess that dynamite is important to whomever created the image. I wonder why? ]
In the upper right hand corner of the web page is a photo of Fidel Castro with Che Guevara:
Anybody want to guess what kind of government the Mechistas aspire to install in "liberated Aztlan", or in, say, the State of California on the off-chance that one of them gets elected governor?
California gubernatorial candidate Cruz Bustamante said
The students who are in MEChA today are just like the students when I was there, pretty much they are trying to get an educationOn the page linking to MEChA's national and UW constitutions, there is a photograph of what appears to be a child soldier from the Mexican Revolution:
UPDATE It looks like The University of Washington gives MEChA office space in a university building! Would they do that for the KKK or the Aryan Nation? You would think they'd have the good sense not to, but now I'm not so sure.
But as of yesterday, Francisco Franco's brother-in-law / foreign minister is no longer still alive.
Ramon Serrano Suner, a Spanish minister under dictator General Francisco Franco who negotiated a "non-belligerency" pact with Hitler, died on Monday aged 101Imagine that, a man lived for more than a century and the one thing we remember about him is that he appeased evil.
Oh wait, here is a news story from the year 2041:
Jimmy Carter, a former President of the United States who negotiated a "non-belligerency" pact with North Korea, died on Monday aged 117.
No, really, a watch. I still think that if you want a fictional character on your faceplate, Mickey Mouse does a better job than St. Rachel of Gaza, patron saint of flagburning.
Mike Silverman has an easy online quiz to help you figure it out in case you're not sure.
Today's asinine news article from the Ass. Press:
Israel has been waging war on Hamas in retaliation for a deadly suicide bombing that killed 21 people on a Jerusalem bus Aug. 19.Asininity #1: The word "retaliation" in a news story should always receive closer scrutiny. The Oxford English Dictionary defines retaliation as:
the return of like for like; repayment in kind; requital, reprisal.The targeted elimination of terrorists is not repayment in kind for the murder of innocent civilians. It is a defensive action to prevent future attacks.
Asininity #2: The Aug. 19, 2003 suicide bombing is not the only cause for Israel to attack Hamas. Hamas is constitutionally committed to destroying Israel and puts its dynamite where its mouth is. For example, Hamas has been launching suicide bombings since 1994 and has killed and maimed hundreds of innocent people.
California gubernatorial candidate Cruz Bustamante remains steadfast in his refusal to denounce MEChA, which he joined as a university student.
For anybody who is still wondering why this is such a big deal, herewith are key quotes from MEChA's founding document El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán (cited by many MEChA university chapters as being "fundmental" to the organization) juxtaposed with the Nazi Party's founding platform ("The Twenty-Five Points", which were first read in public by Adolf Hitler on Feb. 24, 1920)
4. None but members of the nation may be citizens of the State. None but those of German blood, whatever their creed, may be members of the nation. No Jew, therefore, may be a member of the nationEl Plan Espiritual
Por La Raza todo. Fuera de La Raza nadaTwenty-Five Points:
7. We demand that the State shall make it its first duty to promote the industry and livelihood of citizens of the State. If it is not possible to nourish the entire population of the State, foreign nationals (non-citizens of the State) must be excluded from the ReichEl Plan Espiritual
Aztlán belongs to those who plant the seeds, water the fields, and gather the crops and not to the foreign Europeans.Twenty-Five Points:
8. All non-German immigration must be prevented. We demand that all non-Germans, who entered Germany subsequent to August 2nd, 1914, shall be required forthwith to depart from the Reich.El Plan Espiritual
economic control of our lives and our communities can only come about by driving the exploiter out of our communities, our pueblos, and our landsTwenty-Five Points:
13. We demand nationalisation of all businesses which have been up to the present formed into companies (Trusts).El Plan Espiritual
14. We demand that the profits from wholesale trade shall be shared out.
Cultural background and values which ignore materialism and embrace humanism will contribute to the act of cooperative buying and the distribution of resources and productionTwenty-Five Points:
17. We demand land-reform suitable to our national requirements, passing of a law for confiscation without compensation of land for communal purposes;El Plan Espiritual
Lands rightfully ours will be fought for and defended. Land and realty ownership will be acquired by the community for the people's welfare.Twenty-Five Points:
23 (c) It must be forbidden to publish papers which do not conduce to the national welfare. We demand legal prosecution of all tendencies in art and literature of a kind likely to disintegrate our life as a nationEl Plan Espiritual
We must insure that our writers, poets, musicians, and artists produce literature and art that is appealing to our people and relates to our revolutionary culture.Twenty-Five Points:
24. We demand liberty for all religious denominations in the State, so far as they are not a danger to it and do not militate against the moral feelings of the German race.El Plan Espiritual
Nationalism as the key to organization transcends all religious, political, class, and economic factions or boundaries. Nationalism is the common denominator that all members of La Raza can agree upon.Twenty-Five Points:
The leaders of the Party swear to go straight forward - if necessary to sacrifice their lives - in securing fulfillment of the foregoing Points.El Plan Espiritual
Self-Defense against the occupying forces of the oppressors at every school, every available man, woman, and child.Back to the question in the title: What are the differences between MEChA and Nazism?
Answer: The Nazis were German, the Mechistas hail from Mexico. The Nazis were fixated on Jews, the Mechistas don't seem to like any white people. The Nazis came to power and achieved (for a time) many of their stated goals. The Mechistas have helped establish "Chicano Studies" departments, but (hopefully) will never achieve many of their other goals. The leading Republican candidate for California governor is the son of a former Nazi and has unequivocally denounced Nazism. The leading Democratic candidate for California governor was an active member of MEChA and continues to defend the organization.
UPDATE: Some might apologize for MEChA by saying that its adherents see themselves as members of an oppressed, impoverished and humiliated people. Okay, but the same held true for the Nazis.
Some have suggested that MEChA is just another ethnic pride organization and that its Nazi-like founding documents (e.g El Plan Espiritual de Aztlan) are just a historical relic from the 1960s.
Well, no. Browse the multitude of MEChA chapter websites, like the one at UC Berkeley and you will find that many (if not most) claim that the founding documents are "fundamental" to the organization. Berkeley also indicates that it holds "orientations each semester to educate our membership on MEChA philosophy". What is MEChA philosophy? There is this widely posted document titled "Philosophy of MEChA" which states:
Both El Plan de Aztlan (EPA) and El Plan de Santa Barbara (EPSB) served as the historical foundation for the establishment of a viable Chicana/Chicano Movimento and are therefore fundamental to the M.E.Ch.A. PhilosophyThe document confirms that this is all still living, breathing stuff:
This document was last changed or amended in whole or in part by a 2/3 vote at the 1999 National M.E.Ch.A. Conference at Phoenix Community College.
Cruz Bustamante, in defending his former participation in the group, said
The students who are in MEChA today are just like the students when I was thereFair enough, but what are the students in MEChA like today? I found the personal website of one recent college graduate and MEChA member. He writes poems, such as this one, called “I am that Chicano”: ( http://students.seattleu.edu/prendej1/chicanoart.html ):
I fought for the US in Vietnam and I will fight the US for AztlanAztlan, recall, is what the Mechistas call those parts of the southwestern United States that they plan to "liberate" from the United States.
Chicanismo is in my veins, it pumps mi corazon, the corazon of a true Chicano
my soul is puro Raza, my past is of the Mexica
and this Chicanos future is Aztlan!
Here is a picture from a recent MEChA conference in Berkeley (source: http://students.seattleu.edu/prendej1/berkeley.html)
If Bustamante doesn't renounce MEChA soon, "The Road to Aztlan", could just as well be Bustamante's campaign slogan. It would be more apropos than, say, "The Road to Sacramento"