May 31, 2004
The Monorail goes down in flames


No, really. The old monorail caught fire Monday afternoon. KOMO-TV has more pictures. Fortunately, nobody was seriously injured. But just imagine the potential for disaster if there were ever a fire on the proposed monorail that aspires to transport 69,000 riders a day. As Jacqueline Passey observes, the proposed monorail would be even higher off the ground than the historic monorail, and rescuing passengers in the event of such a fire would be even more difficult, if not impossible.

Why risk your life in the Moronorail? Now, more than ever: Monorail Recall.com.

UPDATE: The P-I has an impressive Monorail-up-in-smoke photo gallery

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 09:07 PM
Memorial Day

Please join my wife and me this Memorial Day in supporting these charitable organizations which help look after the surviving spouses and children of fallen American soldiers.

The United Warrior Survivor Foundation provides education assistance and counseling to the surviving spouses of Special Operations personnel killed in the line of duty since 9/11.

The Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund offers scholarships for higher learning to dependent children of active duty service members who have died or were permanently disabled in the line of duty, or who are POW or MIA.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:12 AM
A difference between Republicans and Democrats

Here's just one difference between Republicans and Democrats. The King County Democrats (Dhimmicrats) added a plank to their platform singling out Israel for condemnation. At first the condemnation was direct

"withhold U.S. tax dollars from Israel while it is in violation of international law"
But then the Dhimmis backed down and now the one-sided condemnation stands in a more oblique form:
No U.S. tax dollars should be given to any nation while said nation is in violation of international law as determined by the United Nations
The Washington State Republicans, on the other hand, know whose side they're on. A friend who attended the state convention this weekend sent this section from the platform:
SECTION 2: NATIONAL DEFENSE/WINNING THE WAR ON TERROR -
[First caption] Superior military strength is vital to our national security
...
[Second caption] In defense of Israel...
Israel, as a sovereign state, has the right to self-defense against foreign enemies and state sponsored terrorism. The Bush Doctrine clearly includes supporting Israel, which is being targeted by terrorists. For a peaceful, democratic Palestinian state to exist, we must support Israel in winning their war against terror in their homeland.
The Washington State Democratic convention is next weekend. I can only hope the state Democrats will repudiate King County's silliness and adopt as strong a statement in support of Israel as the Republicans did.

UPDATE (6/10): They didn't.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 09:56 AM
May 30, 2004
What are the Monomaniacs afraid of?

The Seattle Monorail Project officials are seriously frightened of the Monorail Recall initiative, now gathering signatures to qualify for the November ballot. The Seattle Times reports that Monorail officials ask for recall initiative to be tossed. It's more than a little sad that the rulers of the "People's Monorail" are telling the unhappy people to sit down and shut up.

Unfortunately for the Monorail, but fortunately for the regular citizens of this city, the One-Track Minds who oversee the Monorail are politically tone-deaf. This ham-handed attempt to shut down the discussion of the Monorail's viability (using the taxpayer's money no less) is certain to backfire. Just like the Monorail's use of tax dollars on its expensive and dishonest ad campaign that had to be terminated prematurely after it generated a negative reaction.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:13 PM
Unsound Transit

You'd think that the financial black hole called "Sound Transit" would be under federal scrutiny for swindling the taxpayers out of billions of dollars, but the unaccountable rogue agency is under review for something, at least:

The Federal Transit Administration has begun a broad review of Sound Transit's compliance with government "Buy America" requirements after discovering that foreign steel was used illegally in the construction of a Sound Transit project in Kent.

Sound Transit acknowledges $9,500 worth of Canadian steel tubing was used to build a foot bridge between its Kent commuter-rail station and a parking garage.

Anybody who bothered to pay attention in economics class knows that "Buy America" rules are idiotic. Any public project that's worth doing is worth doing with the best quality materials for the lowest price no matter where they're made. Not to mention that that's also the most effective way to keep the most Americans gainfully employed. Nevertheless, Sound Transit officials lamely attempt to defend their worthless agency:
"The FTA takes it (Buy America) very seriously," said Sound Transit board chairman and Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg. "We take it seriously, too."
It's a sad indictment of Sound Transit's leadership that they fail to recognize that "Buy America" rules are contrary to the public's interest while they also fail to implement their own misguided policies anyway.

Do what you can to support the Trust and Transit initiative (I-894) that will force a revote on the unaccountable and sadly mismanaged multi-billion financial black hole of Sound Transit.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:41 AM
May 28, 2004
Put a fork in it

Seattle Weekly columnist Knute Berger says Put a Fork in It. The monorail is done. Or it should be.

Big transportation projects like the monorail usually start out well, and then devils emerge from the details. The system as planned now is less good than the one drawn on the slate of our imaginations; as it progresses, it will become more problematic and more expensive. Despite good-faith efforts to reduce expenses and stay within budget, costs will balloon farther down the track. The monorail isn’t going to get prettier or less expensive with age.

That being the case, it’s time to cut our losses. Let’s prove that the monorail is really better than Sound Transit and stop it while we still can.

Indeed.

Meanwhile, today's P-I reports (as I did a week and a half ago) that the Monorail Car Tax is optional again

State officials have temporarily stopped requiring drivers to list their primary residence when they renew their annual car licenses, a move that could again lead to evasion of the Seattle monorail tax.
This should be a devastating blow to the Moronorail's finances, as it no longer has an enforceable revenue collection mechanism for at least 5 months. Nevertheless, the Monomaniacs are in denial:
[Monorail finance director Jonathan] Buchter said he doesn't think the change "will have any impact (on monorail finances), because I assume people are going to follow the rule" and list their primary residence.

Even if people try to evade the tax in the meantime, "in the worst-case scenario, it means I wait five months to collect the tax" because even would-be tax evaders will have to list their primary residence and pay it again in November.

Assume away, Monoman. But the quote implies that anybody who re-registers their car between now and November will have to confirm their primary residence in November and if applicalbe, pay this year's Monorail Car Tax at that time. That is simply not true. If you re-register your car outside of Seattle between now and November and avoid paying the Monorail tax, you will not have to do anything in November. Your current registration and tax will be valid for an entire year. (I phoned the DOL spokesman who's quoted in the P-I article and asked him myself).

If any Monomaniac tells you otherwise (like the Board member I spoke with last week), he is either ignorant or dishonest or both.

Either way, it's time to put a fork in the Moronorail.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:24 AM
Christine Gregoire is running amok

Washington's Democratic Attorney General / gubernatorial candidate Christine Gregoire is on an out-of-control power grab, attempting to take over entire functions of state government not under her purview, even as she fails to manage her own office. An "advisory" issued by Gregoire's office yesterday notes:

Attorney General Christine Gregoire has sent a letter to Gov. Gary Locke urging him to delay the July 1, 2004 implementation of a new state rule that could affect health care for thousands of needy children in Washington.

The rule would require Medicaid families whose incomes are more than 150 percent of the federal poverty level to pay monthly premiums to help control rising costs of the program.

In the letter Gregoire noted the Office of the Attorney General's role in protecting the health and welfare of our State's children and from that experience she views access to health care critical for low income children.

Protecting the "health and welfare" of our State's children is a noble goal, but somewhat outside the Attorney General's mission statement.

Some free career advice, Chris: focus on doing your own job properly before you take on new unassigned responsibilities. This advice will be especially useful when you have to take a real job in the private sector, to which you will be returning after you lose the governor's race in November.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:37 AM
May 27, 2004
King County Dhimmicrats

The King County Democratic Party finally released its "2004 Platform".

The version of the platform adopted at the recent county party convention generated controversy, when it was reported that it contained a Muslim-inspired plank to:

withhold U.S. tax dollars from Israel while it is in violation of international law
The version of the platform now posted on the county party website backs off from this overt anti-Semitism, and instead includes one new reasonable plank:
The United States should commit to vigorous, serious and persistent, engagement in a peaceful resolution of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, promoting negotiations that lead to a viable two state solution and ensure security for the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.
along with one new less inflammatory but still highly idiotic and effectively anti-Israel plank:
No U.S. tax dollars should be given to any nation while said nation is in violation of international law as determined by the United Nations
It's awfully sad that the KC Democrats think we should submit our foreign aid budget to the UN's unelected panjandrums for approval. Especially since the UN has long been captive to the most vicious anti-Semites on the planet, we can expect the UN to determine that Israel is in violation of international law, even when the true criminal states are not. And the King County Dhimmicrat Party Central Committee members certainly know this. Shame on them.

Will the local Congressmen and candidates repudiate this part of the platform? Patty Murray? Maria Cantwell? Dave Ross? Alex Alben? Jay Inslee? Which side are you on?

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 02:45 PM
John Kerry, Snobby Snubber

John Kerry was in Seattle yesterday for a $1,000 a plate dinner, advertised by the Dems as "Please Join John Kerry for Dinner".

But the snobby John Kerry snubbed even his most loyal fans (who can't afford healthcare, we're told), but can afford to pay $1,000 to eat dinner with politicians. The Seattle Times reports:

[John and Teresa Kerry] left last night's $1,000-a-plate fund-raiser at the Westin Hotel and had dinner at Canlis, overlooking Lake Union.
First he doesn't want to be nominated at his own nominating convention, now he doesn't want to eat dinner at his own fundraising dinner.

I hear that Canlis is a wonderful restaurant and I hope Senator and Mrs. Kerry enjoyed their dinner. I have a hunch the French-looking Massachusetts Democrat and his wife might have ordered the "Vegetable Napoleon".

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:36 AM
Christine Gregoire Meltdown

Things keep getting worse and worse for Washington's Democratic Attorney General / gubernatorial candidate Christine Gregoire:

ITEM: A federal judge has sanctioned and fined the lawyers for Attorney General Christine Gregoire for failing to turn over documents in a lawsuit brought against the agency by a former employee.

ITEM: Six years after the Legislature approved the development of a statewide computer system to monitor ex-convicts, the program remains on the shelf and indefinitely on hold -- a victim, say some of the plan's supporters, of mismanagement within the office of Attorney General Christine Gregoire.

And today, even the hippie-dippie liberal Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorial page is kicking at the carcass of Gregoire's gubernatorial bid:

These allegations are not against Gregoire herself, but against her staff. But good public officials have good staffs. And one measure of a public official is quality of the people she recruits and the skill with which she manages them.
Ouch.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:39 AM
May 26, 2004
Seattle Welcomed John Kerry

The Seattle Times online reports that

Thousands of John Kerry well-wishers braved a rainy morning at the Seattle waterfront this morning to see the Democratic presidential candidate blame the Bush Administration's foreign policy and energy policy for record-high gas prices.
Well-wishers? As in tossing pennies into the wishing well? In any event, the wish-wellers were not the only ones who came out today to give a big hello! to the man who finally decided to accept his party's nomination at the nominating convention. At least until he changes his mind again. Reader Carol G. bravely attended the Republican reception for Kerry. Here is her report
Fun was had by all. I guess this was organized by the College Republicans, who I happened to run into in the Pacific Place parking garage. They shared signs and buttons and stickers and even had flip-flops to share but I had brought my own. Someone was dressed as Flipper which was quite amusing, although we were wondering if people were getting it as they drove by.

The Democrats arriving for the dinner created quite the little mess in traffic as they persistently pulled up and blocked lanes waiting to get into the Westin's driveway. We did wonder why the crowd of police officers didn't do anything about directing traffic. I guess they were just there to escort.

It was amazing that all these members of the party of caring and compassion drove only expensive foreign cars, mostly Audi and Mercedes, and really humongous SUVs. Sure, Republicans drive these vehicles but we aren't hypocrites about it.

We were flipped off so many times that we decided that the universal sign of intense dislike and disagreement should be the Official Hand Gesture of the Kerry campaign. Please alert the media.
I guess that's how the Democrats think they will "restore diplomacy" and "rebuild our shattered alliances all across the globe".

UPDATE (June 1) Apparently it's not only Kerry's supporters who flip their fingers at Kerry opponents. NewsMax reports that Sen. Kerry himself gave the middle-finger to a fellow veteran at the Vietnam War memorial on Memorial Day.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 09:28 PM
Laura Ruderman for Secretary of State

I've become a solid Republican activist in my descent into middle age, but I'll still keep an open mind and might occasionally support a Democrat from time to time.

In this case, I've decided to throw the enormous clout of the Shark Blog behind Democrat Laura Ruderman for Washington Secretary of State.

I'm endorsing Laura Ruderman because of one very important issue. The Republican incumbent Secretary Sam Reed has been a big advocate of the proposed "Top Two" primary system, where only the top two finishers in the primary election would go on to the general election, regardless of party. As I've written before, this is a terrible idea, as it would essentially destroy the state's political parties, and favor incumbents and other candidates who enter a race with enough money and/or name recognition to build their own ad hoc party-like organization.

Laura Ruderman opposes the Top Two primary. As a state representative this year she did vote for legislation that would have established the Top Two system. But there was a lot of gamesmanship surrounding that vote, as many legislators expected Gov. Locke to veto selective portions of the bill to eliminate the Top Two system leaving a "Montana"-style system in its place. So I e-mailed Laura Ruderman recently to ask what her current position on the primary was. Her reply:

I was absolutely in support of the Governor's partial veto. I think that the way that the current Sec. of State wrote the "Top Two" bill would have led to huge opportunities for the parties to game the system. I think that the Montana is the best compromise (although actually, the way I understood it, Arizona's model might have been even better).
The Arizona model includes optional party registration, while the Montana model does not, so Ruderman makes a good point.

Laura Ruderman has been one of the more moderate Democrats in the legislature. She understands the private sector, having held senior positions at Microsoft. She was the first Democrat ever elected from her Republican-leaning district, so she knows how to represent moderates and conservatives. She was among the minority of House Democrats who voted for charter schools. The Association of Washington Business rates her voting record in the top 25% of her caucus.

While I would normally prefer a Republican, Laura Ruderman is a very decent alternative to Sam Reed, who has let his fellow Republicans down. Please join me in supporting Laura Ruderman for Secretary of State.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:29 PM
May 25, 2004
Trust and Transit

This advertisement [large PDF] for the Trust and Transit initiative will appear in Wednesday's Seattle Times, Post-Intelligencer and King County Journal. The ad starts:

WHY DO PEOPLE FEEL LIKE THEIR VOTE DOESN'T MATTER?

WHY ARE THERE SO MANY ANTI-TAX INITIATIVES?

WHY WON'T PEOPLE SUPPORT ADDITIONAL TAXES FOR TRANSPORTATION?

Maybe it's because agencies like Sound Transit are allowed to go many billions of dollars and years over what was approved by the voters.

Indeed.

The KC Journal will include official petitions you can use to collect signatures to get the Trust and Transit initiative (I-894) on the ballot. We need to collect 200,000 signatures by July 2. This is probably our last chance to make a decision on Sound Transit. If we fail to get I-894 on the ballot, we're certain to be stuck with the mega-billion dollar Sound Transit black hole that falls far short of its promises to the voters and whose price tag only seems to keep going up. There are many effective alternatives to light rail, but if so much of our transportation budget goes to light rail, we won't have the resources or the political will for more effective alternatives. It's that simple. Either we get I-894 on the ballot, vote down Sound Transit once and for all and make some sane decisions about transit, or we keep paying through the nose while our transportation problems only get worse. Please do what you can to help put the Trust and Transit initiative on the ballot.

Afraid of Ron Sims

One of the Trust and Transit campaign insiders sent me the ad copy Tuesday morning, but asked me not to post it until late Tuesday evening. Her concern was that

Sims will have the news union folks toss our petition inserts if they get advance notice
I have no idea whether this fear is grounded in any actual experience with Ron Sims and his supporters, but it does suggest that there is a widespread perception that Ron Sims is, for lack of a better word, "Mugabe-esque".

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:59 PM
Sims City

The town of Bothell, WA now has a "tent city" homeless encampment, courtesy of King County Executive / gubernatorial candidate Ron Sims. The good people of Bothell have been reassured that the presence of a Sims City in their backyard would not lead to an increase in crime. Oh, wait:

Less than a week after a homeless camp pitched its tents in town, police here have arrested two of its residents.
Ron Sims, meanwhile, is telling Seattle Times columnist Nicole Brodeur that Tent City is the sort of leadership that best demonstrates his qualifications to be governor. Some will disagree with my characterization of Ron Sims as "Mugabe-esque", but Brodeur opens her column with the line:
You leave Ron Sims alone, a friend warns me.
Hmmm.

hat tip: Brian Crouch

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 02:42 PM
Ed Murray replies

My state representative, Ed Murray, apparently found the various blog entries I have written about him (here, here and here). He posted this comment in one of the archived entries. It's only fair to give his remarks a larger audience:

Just a few comments, first don’t believe everything you read in the media. The reporter only gave part of my comments. The entire statement “It has been years since I have significantly door belled in my district because I am doorbelling for democratic candidates in swing districts.” In addition I pointed out to the reporter that when I do doorbell I meet moderate Dan Evans republicans who live in the 43rd. Again an indication that I do door bell. In addition the public record shows that I hold numerous campaign events in my district during election years. This year we already held a meeting on gay and lesbian issues that was attended by 500 people.
Finally as I told the reporter that, candidates left unchallenged is not a healthy thing for democracy, which includes me. I have both lost and won elections, but that is why we have them. Besides what is the worse that could happen, I could get a job that helps to really support my family and have evenings and weekends off.
On charter schools: First the comments of an anonymous member, unless you can tell me who it is, it is hard to know the context of the conversation. But forgive me for fully considering an issue, hearing all sides, before making up my mind. In the end based on the information I had in front of me I did not vote against the bill. [sic] I will be honest I still not sure if it was the correct vote (a statement that has overwhelmingly angered most on the constituents I have heard from on this issue). I am happy if you are interested in discussing my reasons in more detail (remember this is a part time gig, so give me some time to reply).
In regards to the comments made about transportation, I disagree with them, believe they misrepresent my positions and statements and again willing to provide more information if anyone is interested.
Finally regarding comments like pasty face, it has been years since I have been attacked for my Irish (and growing up Catholic) heritage. But on behalf of my pasty faced non tanning family, what a jerk….ooops…..I forgot Seattle politicians are not suppose to talk like that
I second the part about not believing everything you read in the media. The same reporter quoted me just as selectively once, so I would give some credence to Rep. Murray's recollection of his interview.

I stand by my remarks about his statements on transportation. I heard them myself.

I never thought of "pasty faced" as an attack on anybody's Irish heritage let alone Catholic faith, just a physical description. But clearly, the main issue should be Rep. Murray's actions, not his complexion. So instead of "pasty faced", how about "thin-skinned"?

UPDATE: Rep. Murray posted a comment below. His remarks are worth posting more prominently (reformatted slightly for readability)

Just two examples of how you got it wrong on transportatiion:

1) You wrote:

Julia Patterson promised that any new transportation projects would be guaranteed to be inline with what the voters approved, or they would have to be revoted on.
Julia refered to the RTID legislation that requires just that. Legislation I help to write (perhaps if I had been in the legislature when RTA was created I might have had a chance to add the language).

2) In regards to my Sound Transit reform legislation, you only talk about last year. This year it passed the House (and merged all 6 puget sound transit org. into a single org. with an elected board) Died in the senate along with the house public/private partnership bill that would helped us sart updating how we finance transportation in this state.

First of all, I thank and commend Rep. Murray for taking the time to comment on my blog. I challenged him to engage with his constituents more and that's what he's done here.

Regarding the substance of his comment, he didn't explain how I was wrong in (1), instead he affirms that my report of Julia Patterson's remarks was correct. As for (2), I wasn't able to find press references, so it would help to know which specific bill(s) he's talking about and what else they included that would have been unacceptable to the Senate.

But the main point I was making in my earlier post is that while Rep. Murray along with Councilmembers Ferguson and Patterson have expressed support for the principle of strict accountability in the abstract or in relation to future projects, they are unwilling to apply those principles to the real and very serious problem of Sound Transit light rail as it exists today. As it stands we have a light rail system whose construction will disrupt traffic and neighborhoods for years to come, that costs many billions of dollars (and billions more than was approved by the voters), yet will serve a much smaller number of riders relative to some of the more cost-effective alternatives. Unless our current elected officials are willing to shut down this unaccountable and unsalvageable disaster (and they're not) they shouldn't be surprised that so many of their constituents seem so disgusted and untrusting of proposals for new transportation projects.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:28 PM
Madison and Rafah - Sister Cities?

The Madison, Wisconsin City Council is debating a proposal to become a "Sister City" with Rafah, Gaza Strip.

The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project appears to be a coalition of hippie-dippie "peace" activists, rabid anti-Semites, and suicidal Jews. The resolution in front of the City Council says:

the mission statement of the municipal government in Rafah reflects a democratic vision that corresponds to the values of Madison’s political leadership,
and
the communities of Madison and Rafah, despite many differences, share such common goals as developing green space, improving the environment, balancing urban growth with the preservation of farmland, and enhancing transportation networks
In fact, the municipal government in Rafah is Hamas, whose stated goals are all about killing Jews and have nothing to do with bicycle paths or mandatory recycling.

The Madison City Council will consider the proposal on Tuesday, June 1. I was born and raised in Madison, so it saddens me to see the City Council engage in this sort of idiocy. If you still live in Madison, please contact the City Council, and explain to them that endorsing the bloodthirsty Islamist Jew-killers in Rafah won't do much to improve the quality of life in Madison.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:46 AM
May 24, 2004
Unsound Transit

Last Wednesday I attended a "town meeting on regional transportation issues" sponsored by my King County Councilmember Bob Ferguson. The unstated but probable purpose of the meeting was to rally support for a proposed regional transportation funding package. But the RTID package was declared R.I.P. the morning of the meeting, which instead turned into a fiesta of navel-gazing as to why Seattle's mass-transit cargo-cultists can't reach agreement on transportation funding with highway-dependent suburbanites. (I'll leave the answer as an exercise to the reader).

Ferguson's co-panelists included two other Democrats, King County Councilmember Julia Patterson and my state Representative Ed Murray.

I came to the meeting to make the statement that the biggest obstacle to investment in effective transportation is the multi-billion dollar black hole of Sound Transit light rail that doesn't deliver what the voters approved back in 1996 (not that it would make economic sense even if it did).

The panelists' allegiance to Sound Transit was surreal.

Before I had my turn to speak, Julia Patterson promised that any new transportation projects would be guaranteed to be inline with what the voters approved, or they would have to be revoted on. Another audience member raised some issues about Sound Transit's massive cost overruns and the fact that the voters are stuck with something that was never approved. Ed Murray made a sympathetic face, acknowledged problems with Sound Transit's enabling legislation and let us all know that he's been a big critic of Sound Transit, but hey, it's not his fault, he wasn't in the legislature when the enabling legislation was drafted. Bob Ferguson reminded us that was a big critic of the way Sound Transit used to be run (he ousted an incumbent last November primarily by blaming her for Sound Transit's mismanagement)

When it was my turn to speak, I said (in a nutshell) that we won't be able to make much progress on transportation in this region until we shut down the financial black hole that is Sound Transit and use the money for public transportation that is actually going to accomplish something. I thanked the panelists for their respective criticism of Sound Transit and support for accountability in government and keeping promises to voters and asked, "So I assume you'll all be signing the Trust and Transit petition to require a revote on Sound Transit"?

Sadly, none of them could be bothered to actually hold Sound Transit accountable for its failures.

Patterson: "I disagree that it's a black hole".
Murray: "It was approved by the voters".
Ferguson: "It's too late, they've already started digging".

The next time any of these sleazy clowns ask for more money for a transportation project, the answer should be (literally) "take a hike". Because they simply can't be trusted to build anything that moves or to hold any agency accountable to keep its promises to the voters.

And speaking of the "not a financial black hole":

Sound Transit has unveiled a new, preliminary cost estimate for building light rail north from downtown Seattle to the University District — and it's actually higher than one produced by one of the agency's harshest critics.
Julia Patterson, call your office.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 01:10 PM
Ed Murray needs to get out more

Among the dreary Democratic functionaries I met at last week's transportation town hall, the most notable was my own state Representative, Ed Murray, who is also chairman of the House Transportation Committee.

Murray, who was appointed to the House in 1995, has been re-elected to his position with a suspicious 100% of the vote every two years since. He himself admits:

"It's true, it's been years and years since I've knocked on doors or spent any time campaigning in my own district," Murray said.
And it shows!

The dull, pasty-faced Murray is less a politician or even a "representative" than he is a Kremlin-style career bureaucrat, appointed by one committee to advocate its interests on another committee.

In addition to his ineffectual hand-wringing over Sound Transit the other night, I've documented other instances of Murray's arrogant duplicity.

And then there is Murray on the Monorail. We were all milling around after the formal meeting the other night and another member of the audience came up to Murray and asked him to do something to put the kaibosh on the Monorail. Murray expressed the same sort of sympathy about flaws with the Monorail that he did about flaws in Sound Transit and said:

"There's nothing we can do in the legislature to stop the Monorail. I looked, but there's nothing we can do."
To which I responded:
But with all due respect, sir, you were the main sponsor of the House bill that would have given the Monorail its only enforceable way to collect revenue.
Murray:
That's right. I believe that people should have to pay the taxes they approve. But unfortunately it failed in the Senate, so it's not going to happen.
Me:
But the Monorail measure that the voters approved didn't include any kind of enforceable collection mechanism. How can you say that there's nothing you can do to stop the Monorail when you acted to give it new powers that the voters didn't?
Murray, who apparently hasn't spent enough time with the real people in his district to have learned how to suffer constituents who don't suffer fools gladly, turned a pasty shade of red and snarled back at me: "It's not going to happen."

Some free political advice, Ed: Ringing doorbells in the district this summer would be time well spent.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 01:10 PM
Seattle welcomes John Kerry

John Kerry, the haughty French-looking Massachusetts Democrat who voted both for and against the $87 billion, doesn't own his own family's SUV, and can't decide whether or not he wants to be nominated at his own party's nominating convention, will be in Seattle this Wednesday. The city's most liberal denizens (liberal with their own money as well as everybody else's) will be paying $1,000 a plate for the privilege of being bored to tears by the Democratic Party's least inspiring candidate since John Davis lost to Calvin Coolidge in 1924.

For those who don't have a spare $1,000 to blow on the fancy-pants dinner at the Westin but still want to welcome John Kerry to Seattle, there will be an unsanctioned but spirited, uh, welcoming party across the street from the Westin's main entrance in the triangle park this Wednesday, May 26 from 4:30pm - 6:00 pm.

Come give a big Seattle hello! to John Kerry. Bring your flip-flops, your waffles, your douchebags and dress up as an effete elitist Frenchman if you dare.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 09:53 AM
May 23, 2004
Big fat bookdoggle

Seattle's new downtown library opened today. The $165 million dollar edifice, designed by überarchitekt Rem Koolhaas, and dubbed "pure bling bling" by the New York critics, was approved by the voters in 1998 with the stated purpose of creating:

a legacy of literacy and lifelong learning for everyone in our community
But sadly, the new library has less to do with actual books than it is a temple to the idea of books. The Seattle Times, which has been embarrassing itself with over-the-top library boosterism this week, admits as much in today's editorial:
A bookish city like Seattle deserves a shrine to its favorite pastime. With today's opening of the stunning new Central Library, the community will have such a place.
Yes, the new downtown library is a rather stupid way to give people access to books (too far away and inconvenient for most city residents to get to, hours too limited, closed on 12 holidays plus two entire weeks every year), but it sure is a gorgeous "shrine to books".

The public library as we know it is a dinosaur, a relic from more than a century ago, in those pre-paperback days when owning books was beyond the means of many and when the definitive reference work was the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and before TV, radio, phonographs and movies were widespread or even invented. Now that the most up to date reference works are digital, most consumer entertainment is audio or video and books and magazines are relatively cheap and widely available, the public library no longer has the economic justification that it did when Andrew Carnegie was building them.

Public libraries can still serve important functions that no other institution can perform as well, e.g. -- a repository of community archives for historians, a popular access point to expensive databases, a literary resource for children and upwardly mobile lower-income people. But you don't need a $165 million inconveniently located building to put that in. I love books and I love to read and one of the first things I did when I moved to town was to obtain a library card. But I hardly ever actually go to the Seattle library. There are three branches within walking distance of me, but they're all open the same inconvenient hours and closed the same holidays, and they seldom have the materials I'm looking for. When I need to look something up I can almost always find a reference by way of google, and when I want a book I go to the local Barnes and Noble (open 9-11 every day), to one of the many fine independent new or used bookstores in my part of town, or I order it from Amazon.com.

So I really hope somebody gets good use out of our new "shrine to books", because I obtain my own literacy and lifelong learning from more competent institutions, but I get to pay thousands of dollars for the new shrine anyway.

UPDATE: Jacqueline Passey says the new library is REALLY REALLY UGLY! and won't do her much good either:

I think I will stick with my normal habits of just requesting the books I want online and picking them up at my local branch.
Sadly, the $165 million that was spent on steel, glass and fancy European architects will not help buy books or keep the local branches open.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 09:37 PM
May 22, 2004
Fiction, non-fiction, what's the difference?

Seattle just spent $165 million on a new library building. The money would have been better spent hiring librarians who can tell the difference between fiction and non-fiction. An item in today's Seattle Times (print only) says that the "most popular non-fiction book" checked out from the Seattle library last year was Michael Moore's Stupid White Men ...and Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation!.

Non-fiction would have to be the opposite of fiction. My Oxford English Dictionary defines fiction as

That which, or something that, is imaginatively invented; feigned existence, event, or state of things; invention as opposed to fact.
In other words fiction is when somebody makes shit up, kind of like what Michael Moore did when he wrote that book.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 01:48 PM
A nominating convention for the purpose of not nominating

John Kerry, the haughty French-looking Massachusetts Democrat who voted both for and against the $87 billion, is now pondering whether or not the Democratic party should nominate him at its nominating convention:

Campaign officials confirmed they're actively considering an extraordinary plan under which Kerry wouldn't be nominated formally at the Democratic National Convention in late July and instead would be designated as the party's nominee weeks later, around the time of the Republican convention.
This really would be extraordinary, since the purpose of the Democratic National Convention is to, uh, well don't believe me, believe the Democratic National Convention's own F.A.Q. page:
What is the purpose of the Convention?
The Convention is the event, held every four years, where the Democratic Party nominates its candidates for President and Vice President.
I've kept a copy of the Democratic National Convention's F.A.Q. page here, you know, just in case.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:46 AM
More atrocities against Palestinian civilians

Yet another case of Palestinian civilians brutalized in an appalling war crime. The UN Security Council will undoubtedly pass a resolution condemning this. And the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is already working on the editorial!

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 08:54 AM
May 21, 2004
King County Dhimmicrats

Are the Democrats turning into Dhimmicrats or just plain Anti-Semocrats? The King County Democratic Party is on the verge of civil war over an anti-Semitic platform plank that singles out Israel for condemnation. The plank was promoted by the jihadi fifth-columnists from CAIR, with the blessing of Seattle Congressman "Baghdad Jim" McDermott.

As radio host Michael Medved wrote:

2004 might be the year that America's Jewish community finally reconsiders its traditional loyalty to the Democratic Party and if so, Republicans should thank the Democrats of King County.
Indeed. Although King County Democratic chair Greg Rodriguez "expressed embarrassment on [Medved's] radio show over one-sided Israel bashing by his party cohorts", and is reportedly trying to undo the damage to the platform, the forces of jihad are regrouping and it could be an ugly fight. At bottom is an e-mail that is being sent to local Democratic activists calling to "defend" the anti-Semitic platform plank at next week's meeting.

Even though I'm now an active Republican, I was once a Democrat and I would prefer to see two strong parties that both espouse American values, including support for Israel. So I call upon the local Democrats, including the local U.S. House and Senate candidates, to take action and preserve their party's moral values, remove the anti-Semitic plank from the platform and purge the jihadi fifth-columnists from their ranks. (Patty Murray? Dave Ross? Alex Alben? Jay Inslee? Which side are you on?) If this attempt fails, I would encourage every Democrat who supports the United States and Israel in the war against militant Islam to turn their back on the Democrats and join the Republicans.

I know that a lot of Democrats and swing voters are attracted to much of the Republican platform, but are turned off by some of its social conservatism. Indeed, that was the main reason why I couldn't bring myself to become a Republican for so many years. It might even surprise some of my regular readers to learn that I've voted for Mondale, Dukakis, Clinton and Harry Browne for President but I've never supported a Republican for President until this year. But I've since learned that the Republican Party is trending to de-emphasize the party's fixation on social issues and focusing more on bread and butter issues such as rational economic policies and sensible national defense. Many Republicans (myself included) are actively working within the party to make it more inclusive. The Democrats on the other hand, are trending more and more toward unsustainable economic nuttiness, a foreign policy of weakness and appeasement, and perhaps saddest of all, embracing anti-Semitism.

The choice is clear: fix the party or leave it. And there's no time to waste.


A Call to Action from members of the Arab and Muslim Community in King County

Your presence is needed next Tuesday, May 25th. Stand up for your rights and prevent those who speak in the name of "civil rights" from trampling upon yours! Details are below. We look forward to seeing you Tuesday, May 25, Seattle Labor Temple, 2800 1st Ave. Hall #1 at 7 pm.

Over the past year our community has learned a number of important lessons. We have learned that through determined effort we can continuously push the ceiling of what we can accomplish. We have learned that we can organize and work within the political system by getting an unprecedented number of delegates elected at the precinct and legislative caucuses of the Democratic party. Through this effort, we also managed to pass important resolutions about Palestine, Iraq and Civil Liberties which strongly advocate peace and justice for all. Most recently and most significantly, members of the Arab and Muslim community, with many other supporters passed an amendment in the King County Democratic Party Platform that states

our tax dollars should not go to Israel while it violates international law.
In this last accomplishment lies one of the most important lessons to be drawn: that our pro-justice position is not a fringe voice held by only the most extreme liberals as some might have us believe, but rather, it is the voice of the majority.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Seattle) made mention of this success at their banquet that evening, and it was printed in an article about the banquet in the Seattle Times the following day. It appears the demand that Israel respect international law made some people very upset, and the following day a right-wing radio talk show host made this a topic of his show. He hosted Greg Rodriguez, the Chairman of the King County Democratic Party, who in theory is supposed to represent King County Democrats. Unfortunately he failed in that role and he spent the whole show repeating how much he supports Israel and in effect apologizing for having left-wing and Muslim community "elements" in King County which he identified as the cause for having this amendment pass.

While it is most disturbing that Greg Rodriguez used his position as Chairman of the King County Democrats to express his personal beliefs and discredit King County's official platform, of greater concern is his effort to repeal the platform amendment and violate the democratic process by which it was adopted. He will most likely attempt to do this at the next meeting of the Central Committee of the King County Democratic Party on Tuesday, May 25, Seattle Labor Temple, 2800 - 1st Ave. Hall #1 at 7 pm.

**What needs to be done next:**

Supporters of this amendment and the democratic process need to attend the meeting next Tuesday to ensure transparency in this process. We will not look away as certain individuals seek to break rules simply because they didn't get what they want or are too arrogant to accept the views of the majority.

For everyone in our community who has worked in the various presidential campaigns, attended the community banquet and felt the energy in that room, attended the caucuses, ran for delegate positions, and passed resolutions across the state, we all know the power we possess when we work together. For those who have yet to participate, now is the time to make a small effort to preserve our victories in the cause of justice while our political opponents are on the defensive.

We look forward to seeing you Tuesday.

Signed by:

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) - Seattle chapter
Arab-American Community Coalition (AACC)
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) - Seattle chapter

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:33 AM
It's in the P-I

No decent person wants to see civilian deaths in wartime, but the Shi'ittle Post-Intelligencer gets its hijab in a twist and protests only when Israel is conducting defensive operations.

The loss of life in the Gaza Strip is tragic. But the deaths of children from tank fire in the area of a demonstration was the direct, if unintended, result of the Israeli leadership's decision to launch a dramatic military incursion in a heavily populated area it is supposedly abandoning.
Why doesn't the P-I unleash any of its oh so righteous outrage at the Palestinians who deliberately sacrifice their own children by throwing them into the middle of a firefight? And why hasn't the P-I printed a single word about the brutal murder of the pregnant Tali Hatuel and her four children?

I think we all know the answer.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:19 AM
Mark Griswold is in the Times

Danny Westneat has a nice profile today of Mark Griswold, who's running as a Republican for the 43rd district Washington House of Representatives seat currently held by Speaker Frank Chopp. Griswold is the first Republican to run in the district in at least a decade, hence the headline "Republican stirs breeze of change"

Politics in the heart of Seattle is like the old Soviet Politburo: rigid, stagnant, lacking any meaningful debate. On "Election Day," voters often get ballots with only one candidate — a Democrat — listed for each state legislative office.

Consider the 43rd District of the Wallingford, Capitol Hill, Fremont area. Its two state representatives have gotten vote totals that would make a dictator blush — 100 percent — in every general election since 1996.

The only choice available for voters has been to scratch out the Democratic candidate and write in someone else.

Until now.

It's a fair profile of Mark Griswold, although I suspect this line might have been sexed up a tad:
the [43rd district GOP ] chairman begged me not to print his name. He runs a business that contracts with Seattle government, and fears retribution if it's known he's a Republican.
Mark Griswold and the 43rd district GOP chairman were both at my table at last week's George Nethercutt campaign breakfast. Names and photos here! And all the GOP district chairs have their names listed on the King County Republican website (scroll to the bottom right corner). We're not a secret society.

I wrote about Mark Griswold earlier, here.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:01 AM
Christine Gregoire Meltdown

Washington Attorney General Christine Gregoire's gubernatorial campaign melted a little bit more this week with yet another serious allegation that her office has been withholding public documents:

A federal court judge yesterday scolded lawyers for the Attorney General's Office for apparently failing to ensure that it complied with his April deadline to produce records in a lawsuit by a former employee.

...

U.S. District Judge Thomas Zilly said in court yesterday that he was so "shocked" by the most recent allegation that he may punish the state by denying its request for a quick resolution to a long-running court battle.

Of course, "punish the state" can only mean "punish the people of the state". And if the people are going to be punished for Gregoire's corruption and/or incompetence, shouldn't the people punish Gregoire by choosing somebody else for governor?

The P-I reminds us that Gregoire has an impressive track record of withholding public records:

A South King County community group, originally formed to block now-shelved sex-offender housing from their neighborhoods, has a pending case against Gregoire's office, alleging it improperly withheld public records. In the past, the Building Industry of Washington has filed several such suits against Gregoire.
Gregoire is not fit to be governor.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 09:28 AM
May 20, 2004
Another soldier abuses civilians

The Arab street will surely be outraged. Quick, somebody call Al-Jazeera. And NPR.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 06:04 PM
One on One with a Monomaniac

I had a surreal Monorail experience last night when I attended a community meeting and an elected member of the Seattle Monorail Project Board of Directors unwittingly sat down next to me. I followed his lead and introduced myself, but he gave no glimmer of recognition as in "Oh, so you're that Shark Blog fellow who wants to obviate my sinecure".

I didn't have the heart to tell him that I spend hours of my time hurling (factual) abuse at his pet organization or that I've been gathering signatures for a petition to vote the Moronorail out of existence. But I did open the conversation with a friendly

"So what do you guys think about the Department of Licensing backing down from their administrative rule that is the only source of your revenue?"
He stared back at me with an oddly disturbing leering grin
Oh they're not backing down. It will only affect a small number of people who are already registered at P.O. Boxes and nearly all of those are outside of Seattle.
In fact, the DOL's own announcement says:
DOL will enable citizens who want to get their vehicle-related mail at an address different than their primary residence to continue using their mailing address until DOL completes the computer system upgrades required to allow both a residential and a mailing address. ... DOL will encourage, but not require, vehicle owners already using a primary residence address to complete a declaration form required by the primary residence address rule.
The DOL has no way of knowing whether a particular address is a primary address or a mailing address, so the rule is inoperative. Clearly the gentleman responsible for delivering the Monorail was not in control of the facts. The One-Track Mind persisted:
Monoman: It's still the law that you have to register your car at your primary residence.

Me: It's not the law, it's an administrative rule. The legislature declined to pass it into law.

Monoman [who claims to be an attorney and should know better]: Rules are laws

Me: No they're not.

Monoman: It's a Class C felony

Me: Only the perjury part

[The whole point of this exercise is that the DOL no longer requires a declaration under penalty of perjury]

Monoman [leering with a sadistic grin]: Isn't that enough? You could still go to jail.

Maybe we should just hold elected officials to tell the truth at all times under penalty of perjury.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:20 AM
May 19, 2004
Bomb falls on Monorail

Metaphorically, at least.

Serious allegations were aimed at the Seattle Monorail project Wednesday as a prominent engineering firm that was bidding to be one of the subcontractors decided to pull out, saying there are serious design flaws.
This is the second time an engineering firm has removed itself from contention to build the Monorail.

Soon, there will be nobody left who's willing to build the sorry thing except maybe this guy.

UPDATE: More here:

Magnusson also said he was concerned about parts of the monorail being planned using only a single track, or beam ("When a train breaks down on the single beam, what do you do? The whole system comes to a halt"). Parts of the monorail are being planned using outdated seismic design criteria, he said, and he was also worried about the lack of planning regarding monorail "droppings," or debris created by the overhead trains raining down on pedestrians below.
Heh. Maybe the title of this post should have been "Bomb falls from Monorail"

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:48 PM
Optional Driver Licenses

A solid majority of the hippie-dippie sub-mediocrities of the Seattle City Council have voted to stop impounding the vehicles of drivers with suspended licenses. Although those who drive with licenses suspended for the most egregious violations, such as drunk driving, could still have their cars impounded, many dangerously incompetent drivers will be effectively liberated to wreak havoc on city streets and cause more accidents:

A $100,000 study commissioned by the city found that drivers with suspended licenses were 2.5 times more likely to get in auto accidents than drivers who hadn't lost their driving privileges.
Nevertheless, all six members who voted at yesterday's meeting of the City Council's "Public Safety, Civil Rights & Arts Committee" [sic] apparently don't give a damn about public safety.

The six are: Nick Licata, Jean Godden, Tom Rasmussen, David Della, Peter Steinbrueck, Richard McIver.

One can only hope that there won't be an increase in crippling and fatal traffic accidents. But if anybody you know is maimed or killed on Seattle streets by a driver with a suspended license, be sure to invite the above City Councilmembers to their hospital room or funeral.

And the Seattle Times, as is often the case, is happy to help spin the impound law as a racial issue.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:10 AM
May 18, 2004
Monorail Car Tax

It's once again easy to avoid paying the nutty but optional Seattle Monorail Car Tax. After less than a month of draconian enforcement of an unlegislated rule, the Washington Department of Licensing is suspending its administrative rule to require vehicle registration at the primary residence.

the DOL vehicle database cannot currently accept both a primary residence address and a second mailing address, which has caused concern for many vehicle owners who worry about the security of residential postal delivery.

Responding to these concerns, DOL will enable citizens who want to get their vehicle-related mail at an address different than their primary residence to continue using their mailing address until DOL completes the computer system upgrades required to allow both a residential and a mailing address. These upgrades will be completed in early November 2004

You'd think the dorks who run the DOL would have figured this out before they changed the procedures, but you'd have too much confidence in state government to think that. I'm thankful at least that incompetence trumps arrogance!

The punchline: There is absolutely no requirement to pay the Seattle Monorail Tax. If you want to blow hundreds of dollars of your hard-earned money on the Moronorail, you are perfectly free to do so! If you want to spend your own money on something sensible, you can do that too. Just be sure to register your car outside of Seattle. It's not only your legal prerogative, it's your civic duty!

UPDATE: A well-connected friend e-mails that the part about the "computer system upgrades" was a face-saving excuse and in reality the DOL backed down when legislators and business groups persuaded them that the unlegislated rule change doesn't hold water. Interesting that the DOL would prefer to save face with an admission of incompetence than with an admission of arrogance. And isn't the "early November 2004" date a clear admission of a stupid political mistake?

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:43 PM
Optional Driver Licenses

Some members of the hippie-dippie Seattle City Council have resumed their crusade against public safety by trying to make driver licenses optional:

Five years after Seattle began its controversial practice of taking away the cars of those who drive without a valid license, the City Council is poised to make some dramatic reforms to its impoundment program.
...
But if City Councilman Nick Licata, a longtime impoundment foe, has his way, the city won't wait to see whether a federal judge dictates changes to Operation Impound.

Taking advantage of the open-mindedness among the newly elected council members about the issue, Licata has put forward a new proposal that the city stop impounding the cars of those with third-degree license suspensions -- suspensions that result from failure to pay tickets for parking violations, speeding or driving without insurance, or for missing court appearances for traffic violations. These cases account for about 87 percent of all suspended license impounds

The P-I seems to be sympathetic to those who insist on driving without following the same rules as the rest of us.
Late one fall night in 2002, Marilyn Bloom decided to drive a few blocks to a nearby 7-Eleven to satisfy a craving for licorice.

When a police officer pulled over the disabled woman in her light blue, 26-year-old 240-D Mercedes, she learned that her license had been suspended because she had failed to pay a ticket for driving without insurance. Bloom, who lives on $565 a month in Social Security disability income, said she had not been able to save the $400 to pay it off.

I don't understand why it is relevant that this woman is disabled. Are disabled people supposed to be exempt from obeying the law? Or is being disabled supposed to be such a good thing that we are to encourage the creation of more disabled people by letting incompetent drivers on the streets so they can cause more accidents?

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:12 PM
Nethercutt Breakfast

Here are some snapshots of our table at the George Nethercutt for Senate campaign breakfast last week:

The Shark (left) with Hank Bradley.

L-R: blogger Erik, Ron Hebron, blogger Andy MacDonald and Mark Griswold, who is challenging Washington House Speaker Frank Chopp in the 43rd district.

L-R: Mark Griswold, blogger Jim Miller, 43rd district Republican chair Steve London, Yair Griver.

Our table also included Paul, who comments here regularly under the name "Wilinsky". Unfortunately, the snapshot of his corner of the table was underexposed and unusable.

The Seattle Times wrote about the breakfast last week under headlines: "Nethercutt launches longshot US Senate campaign" and "Nethercutt launches Senate bid with mix of criticism, support" (those were supposed to be news headlines, not editorials).

Nethercutt's kick-off speech is posted here. He drew several strong distinctions with the incumbent Patty Murray: as an old-fashioned liberal who likes to increase taxes and regulations, she has destroyed jobs. She voted against curbing excessive medical malpractice awards which are driving doctors out of business. She voted to cut intelligence spending which has harmed the fight against terrorists. And she seems to think that Osama bin-Laden is some kind of humanitarian hero. Nethercutt made this point deftly:

every soldier in service to America will know that they have a friend in the Senate as I work to support our military, and consistently vote for a stronger fight against terrorism, proudly praising our country, never praising those who terrorize us.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:06 AM
May 17, 2004
Vaseline Man

I can understand the need for Vaseline. But 14 jars??

hat tip: Matt Rosenberg.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 07:46 PM
Trust and Transit

The Trust and Transit campaign to recall the $7 billion Sound Transit link light rail boondoggle has hit the ground running. $60,000 has been raised and paid signature gatherers are already pounding the pavement. So are volunteers, myself included.

I spent several hours in the last few days collecting signatures at Green Lake. Most people who walk the park are there for exercise and couldn't be bothered. But I did get quite a number of signatures from citizens who are upset about the unaccountable Sound Transit pork barrel fiesta. I tested a number of opening lines, the one that worked best was:

Would you like to sign a petition to revote on Sound Transit? It's billions of dollars over budget, years behind schedule, and a lot shorter than what was promised to the voters. We want to use the money for more effective public transportation
Incredibly, some people said no to that (do some people actually like expensive mediocrity?) but many were enthusiastic to sign.

One common objection was along the lines: "We need to do something to get people out of their cars and it might not be perfect, but we have to start somewhere". But doing something shouldn't mean doing anything and light rail is one of the worst things we could do (most expensive, fewest benefits). This fascinating document "Great Rail Disasters" [545k PDF] by John O'Toole gives the sorry history of modern urban rail systems in the US -- why they're a nightmare, and why the politicians love them anyway (hint: pork). This refreshing document from the Coalition for Effective Transportation Alternatives offers transit solutions that are both more effective and more reasonably priced.

Trust and Transit needs 200,000 signatures statewide by June 30 in order for the initiative to appear on the November ballot. Do what you can to help. There's an organizational meeting Tuesday, May 18 at 6pm in Shoreline. Email me here for details.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 06:03 PM
May 16, 2004
Be grateful for the "ceasefire"

On Ha'aretz online this morning --

Palestinian officials say they are ready for cease-fire

Palestinian officials said Sunday that they are ready for a cease-fire with Israel as a first step toward reviving the stalled road map peace plan. Militant groups Islamic Jihad and Hamas told Egyptian mediators they are ready to commit to a cease-fire, Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Sha'ath said.
Security forces on high alert in J'lem due to terror warning
Security forces in the northern part of Jersusalem went on extremely high alert Sunday night in response to warnings of the intention to carry out terror attacks ... The security establishment is currently aware of 43 warnings to carry out terror attacks inside Israel.
It's frightenting to imagine how many more warnings of terror attacks there would there have been without the ceasefire.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:05 PM
May 15, 2004
Unsound Transit

Today's Seattle Times reports on yet another cost overrun for Sound Transit link light rail. The lowest bid to build a tunnel through Beacon Hill will cost $41 million more than originally expected. Sooner or later this will add up to real money:

The Beacon Hill bids reinforce opponents' belief that a total of $7 billion will be needed to finish 24 miles of light rail from Northgate to just south of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, said John Niles of the Coalition for Effective Transportation Alternatives, which favors express buses.
This page explains the $7 billion estimate, which is double what the voters were sold in 1996.

Sound Transit itself estimates that it will eventually serve 160,000 riders a day. What they really mean is 160,000 rides a day, or 80,000 round trips. Bear in mind that Sound Transit has a habit of badly overestimating their ridership. But if the goal is to get 80,000 people off the freeways at rush hour, for $7 billion you could just pay 80,000 people $87,500 each to either move closer to their jobs or leave town altogether. Ridiculous, yes. But it would be just as ridiculous to spend the same amount of money to build a rigid and disruptive train system that barely makes a dent in reducing traffic congestion.

It's seriously time for a revote on Sound Transit. Do what you can to help the Trust and Transit campaign get the revote on the November ballot.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 04:08 PM
Terrorize your enemy

Yassir Arafat reminds us that Palestinian nationalism is not so much about having a Palestinian state as it is about preventing the Jews from having a state. He also admits that it is about terrorizing people.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 03:45 PM
May 14, 2004
Trust and Transit

Trust and Transit, the campaign to force a revote on the financial black hole also known as "Sound Transit light rail" is now collecting signatures to qualify for the November ballot.

The Sound Transit that was approved by the voters bears little resemblance to the Sound Transit that is actually being built. Unless the voters reassert control over this rogue agency, we'll end up blowing billions of dollars on a dinky underperforming train system that does very little to ameliorate road congestion.

Trust and Transit needs your help to get its initiative, I-894, on the November ballot. 200,000 signatures within the next 7 weeks, either by volunteers, or by paid gatherers at $2 a head. That's the deal: $400K and/or a few hours of a lot of people's time to put this on the ballot to shut Sound Transit down, or many billions of dollars flushed out of the state's productive economy. It's a no-brainer to me, but time is of the essence. I'll be out collecting signatures this and every weekend until the deadline. Please do whatever you can to help.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 04:29 PM
Zero Tolerance for News

Two San Diego high school teachers have been removed from their classrooms while school officials investigate allegations that images, sound and video from the Nick Berg decapitation video were shown in class.

The teacher allegedly saw the video and made a comment to the effect of "This is why we don't go to war," the station reported.
Wrong interpretation, but shouldn't high school students, only a few years away from military age, be taught the realities of what our nation is facing?
[Superintendent] Ryan said that the district has sent a memorandum to all teachers stating that showing students the video of Berg's murder is innappropriate and will not be condoned. He said that psychological counseling is being made available to student who may have seen the video.
Instead of "psychological counseling", these students (not to mention teachers and administrators) should be assigned to read some columns by Victor Davis Hanson.

hat tip: Citizen Smash

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 03:46 PM
Gerry Alexander, Chief Injustice

Gerry Alexander, nominally the Chief "Justice" of the Washington Supreme Court, should really be called the Chief Injustice.

Gerry Alexander authored yesterday's majority opinion that eviscerated the state's Public Disclosure Act, making it even easier than it already is for government agencies to hide important documents from the public.

Alexander has sided with government agencies against the citizens in numerous rulings (permitting school districts to selectively apply racial preferences in violation of I-200, permitting Sound Transit light rail to defy the voters' wishes and drastically underdeliver with no fiscal restraint)

Gerry Alexander is out of control and should be removed from the bench (he's up for re-election in 2006). Other evisceraters of the Public Records Act whose judicial careers should be eviscerated: Faith Ireland (retiring this year), drunken embarassment Bobbe Bridge (up for re-election in 2008), Susan Owens (2006) and Mary Fairhurst (2008).

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 01:13 PM
It's in the P-I

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorial page today tries to prevent Seattle from making an important decision by wearing us down with a withering barrage of moral equivalence. On the one hand, it whispers only tepid criticism at the Seattle Moronorail Project for its unethical spending of millions of dollars on advertising but also urges the taxpayers not to defend themselves through a recall of the rogue Moronorail. Both sides should exercise restraint!

But the P-I isn't only about moral equivalence. Sometimes it actually chooses sides.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:06 AM
May 13, 2004
Moronorail Propaganda Backfires

Public outcry has caused the Seattle Moronorail Project to discontinue its disinformational advertising campaign. I suspect that the decision is partly driven by blowback from the one part of the "education" campaign that was actually true:

Monorail board members had endorsed a large public-education effort last winter, after surveys showed a lack of public awareness about the proposed Green Line route, connecting downtown to Ballard and West Seattle. Many were unaware the agency intends to break ground this fall
The Moronorail ads reminded the public that "the agency intends to break ground this fall", and that seems to have energized the opposition. But the Monomaniacs will continue their propaganda campaign by indoctrinating impressionable young citizens held captive by government workers:
the agency will continue its popular grass-roots promotions, such as volunteers distributing leaflets at sporting events and festivals. Board members have also discussed providing materials to classrooms.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:48 PM
Sims City

Ron Sims, the Mugabe-esque King County Executive and trailing Democratic candidate for Washington Governor, is forcing a "tent city" for homeless people down the throats of a community that doesn't want it. The anti-Mugabe faction on the county council calls the move an illegal use of public land. No, I'm not accusing Sims of committing all of the sorts of crimes that Mugabe has committed, only some of them.

I can't figure out Sims' overall strategy. He has vaporized whatever miniscule chances he might have had of getting elected governor. Imagine the Republican ads: "A vote for Sims is a vote for a homeless camp in your neighborhood". I think Sims could be a legitimate contender to succeed Baghdad Jim McDermott someday. But if that's the case, why would he intentionally torpedo and piss off the other Democrat in the gubernatorial race? One possibility is that he wants to position himself as the bigman of the Seattle Democrats' Mugabe/Castro faction and succeed Baghdad Jim as the standard bearer of the totalitarian left. The other possibility is that he's simply a clueless buffoon.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:55 AM
May 12, 2004
Religion of Peace

This is the horrifying and sickening but indispensible image that was missing from the front page of your local newspaper this morning.


From the video titled "Abu Musab az-Zarqawi Slaughters an American".

We must never forget that this war is about defending our civilization against the depraved barbarians who can joyfully cry "Allahu Akbar" ("God is great") again and again while they butcher a man as if he were a goat, and then display his severed head like a trophy. Many in the media would rather pretend that this is not the case, but we must never forget.

With condolences to the family of Nick Berg, zikhrono levrakha.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:08 AM
May 11, 2004
The fruits of Democrat appeasement

Hugh Hewitt spent much of yesterday's show discussing recent statements about Iraq made by leading Democrats, such as pronouncement of Ted Kennedy on the floor of the United States Senate yesterday:

Shamefully we now learn that Saddam's torture chambers reopened under new management, U.S. management.
Shameful of Kennedy to characterize it that way, but wow.

Or Sen. Carl Levin's allegation that:

"This is not just a few guards in some kind of an aberrant conduct. This is a much more systemic problem here," Levin said. "And the military intelligence, including I believe the CIA, ... have got to be held accountable, right up the chain."
Hugh worries that such statements will validate and inflame potential Jihadists.

I don't worry about offending Jihadists. Their opinions and feelings are driven by their own internal illogic, that has little if anything to do with what we do or so. If the implication is that we can enrage them with mischosen remarks, then we can also appease and placate them with carefully chosen words. Nonsense. The only way to appease an end to Jihad would be for us all to surrender and convert to Islam. The real worry, in my opinion, is that statements like Kennedy's and Levin's will invite attacks by signaling division, foolishness, gullibility, weakness and a willingness to surrender.

The Democrat Party is only too happy to repeat the endless self-flagellation and brainless appeasement that Victor Davis Hanson warns about not repeating [Check out the Carter-Osama-Kerry photo juxtaposition].

Meanwhile today the non-Iraqis from Al Qaeda claim to have beheaded an American civilian who was working in Iraq. Such an action is not only appallingly inhuman, but it serves absolutely no strategic purpose. Except to someone who has reason to believe that the other side is weak enough to be defeated by it.

UPDATE: Over at Oh, That Liberal Media I question why the news reports have deliberately not linked to an online video of the purported beheading. I suspect it's because they believe that such a video would strengthen American resolve instead of weakening it.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:41 AM
The most over-educated city in America

Seattle is one of the most college-educated big cities in the nation, according to a survey released Monday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The 2002 survey shows that 48.8 percent of Seattle's 25-and-older population has at least a bachelor's degree, compared to a national college graduation rate of 25.9 percent.
I'm still wondering how Seattle's high concentration of college graduates explains such phenomena as eight-term Congressman "Baghdad Jim" McDermott, the Moronorail and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Are the people of Seattle really smarter than the rest of the country? Or is there a systemic failure in our higher education system?

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:22 AM
Where all the children are above average

The Washington State Academic Achievement and Accountability Commission has responded to the crisis of low passing rates in the state's WASL standardized test by once again lowering the scores needed to pass.

The changes will go into effect this year for fourth- and seventh-graders, giving them a little better chance to pass the two subjects than students in those grades had last spring.

If they'd been in effect last year, the adjustments would have raised the passing rate by 7 to 8 percentage points in seventh-grade reading and math, and by about 3 to 4 percentage points in those subjects in the fourth grade.

Now everybody can declare victory, except for the children who are being hoodwinked into thinking they are getting a real education.

Nevertheless, the teacher unions engaged in their usual paroxysm of outrage that the WASL is still too hard and, by the way, the state isn't pouring enough money in their direction. Fortunately, one of the commission members had a comeback:

"I need to know from WEA what you really want," asked Jim Spady. "If there's nothing we can do to satisfy you, then why should we care what you say?"
Why, indeed.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:06 AM
Proof of Fools

Spike Lee spoke in Seattle last Saturday as part of something called the "Foolproof Performing Arts series". The Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Robert L. Jamieson, Jr. gives us a recap: "America needs Spike Lee's message".

On Disney's decision to pull distribution of Michael Moore's new film, "Fahrenheit 911," which discusses links between the Bush clan and the family of Osama bin Laden: "I'm surprised (the Bush administration) hasn't killed him yet.
Spike Lee is probably surprised whenever he discovers that not everybody shares his favorite method of dealing with people he disagrees with.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 09:52 AM
May 10, 2004
The overlooked lesson of Abu Ghraib

Many in the international media, the anti-American world community and in the American Democratic Party continue to wallow in the Abu Ghraib story, fixating on the so-called damage to America's standing in the world and to the effort to liberate and democratize Iraq.

But these folks have completely missed the point. First of all, the unauthorized mistreatment of the Abu Ghraib prisoners was unfortunate, but small beer compared to what routinely transpires as a matter of official policy in prisons across the Arab world. More importantly, President Bush denounced the mistreatment as unauthorized and unacceptable, apologized for the incidents and his administration is prosecuting the offenders. Such a statement respecting human rights and the rule of law is unprecedented in the Arab world. In essence, Bush threw down a challenge to the Arab street to demand the same from its own leaders and for those leaders to follow his example.

I can think of only one instance where an Arab leader has publicly accepted responsibility and apologized for an act that was committed by one of his subjects. In 1997 King Hussein of Jordan apologized to the families of the Israeli school girls who were murdered by a Jordanian soldier who crossed the border into Israel. (I don't count Arafat's hilarious "sorry, we meant to kill a Jew instead" non-apology to the family of Jerusalem Arab George Khoury, who was shot dead by gunmen whom Arafat supposedly can't control.)

No Palestinian official has ever apologized for the slaughter of hundreds of Israeli civilians. Libya's Qadhafi has never apologized for the Lockerbie bombing, he only paid a large settlement while insisting on his innocence. No Egyptian or Saudi official has apologized to the American people for their own subjects implicated in the 9/11 attacks, or for their own media's persistent hateful anti-American propaganda that would have helped incite the attacks. The examples are too numerous to list here.

But not only has no Arab leader, except for King Hussein, ever apologized to western victims of Arab abuse -- no Arab leader has ever apologized to his own subjects for his regime's official abuse, torture, arbitrary detention, lack of free speech or elections, or for that matter for any mass killings: No Syrian official has ever apologized for the occupation of Lebanon or the massacre at Hama; No Palestinian Authority official has apologized to the Palestinian people for its own impoverishing corruption, for the lynching of merely suspected collaborators; No Saudi official has apologized for the incineration of the scarfless school girls. The examples are also too numerous to list here.

President Bush delivered a profound lesson about human rights and the rule of law. The Arab world should demand the same from its own leaders, who should follow Bush's example and clean their own prisons and treat their subjects like true citizens with human rights. If they don't, the failure is entirely theirs, not ours. And it's at best a disgrace for our media and the Democratic opposition to spin it any other way.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 01:52 PM
Las Vegas Moronorail

Las Vegas' $650 million 3.9 mile Monorail system is months behind schedule and a menacing threat to life and limb:

The opening, originally scheduled for Jan. 20, was postponed to March — and then to sometime this summer. The delays came after a drive shaft fell off a train during testing in January and technicians detected a glitch in a computer control system in February.
The proposed Seattle Moronorail is nearly 4 times as long and more than twice as expensive as the Las Vegas Monorail, so we would expect have about 16 times the overruns, delays and glitches. Bombardier, the builder of the Las Vegas Monorail, is one of only two potential vendors for the Seattle Moronorail.

The Monorail Recall campaign e-mails that petitions for collecting signatures to put the recall on the ballot are expected to be available this Thursday. Do what you can to help put this initiative on the ballot: make a donation to the campaign and/or help collect signatures. monorailrecall.com

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:45 AM
Christine Gregoire Meltdown

Washington gubernatorial candidate and Attorney General Christine Gregoire had been endorsed by every labor union under the sun, but in light of her campaign's meltdown over the botched appeal scandal, even organized labor is turning its back on Gregoire:

In a minor victory for King County Executive Ron Sims, the Washington State Labor Council declined yesterday to endorse any candidate for governor, halting a streak of endorsements rung up by his Democratic opponent Attorney General Christine Gregoire.
Nevertheless, the Gregoire people are spinning this humiliating repudiation as a victory:
Gregoire campaign manager, Tim Zenk, characterized the outcome as "a loss for Ron Sims" and said "we have by and large received all the endorsements there are to get."
It's a tacit admission by labor that Gregoire is severely tainted, but they're not going to come out and say that because they already have too much invested in her and because Sims is even less electable than Gregoire.

Advantage: Dino Rossi and the people of Washington State!

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:25 AM
Queers for Palestine

The Palestinians are now using transgendered people as ordnance:

Israeli security forces thwarted a suicide bombing planned for Tel Aviv when they arrested a Palestinian hermaphrodite armed with a 15-kilogram bomb in the West Bank, Palestinian sources said.
No official reaction yet from the Queers for Palestine Contingent.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 08:30 AM
May 09, 2004
John Kerry is not a douchebag

As Nick Gillespie hypothesizes:

Kerry may well be the first presidential candidate in history whose supporters—yes, supporters—have likened him to a feminine hygiene product.
He's referring to this website: www.johnkerryisadouchebagbutimvotingforhimanyway.com. I can understand why some might believe that Kerry is a hopelessly inadequate candidate and would make a terrible chief executive -- Mark Steyn gives us some reasons here, so does this limp WaPo attempt to portray Kerry as not such a bad guy after all.

But a douchebag? Come on.

Surely there are other feminine hygiene products that describe Kerry more accurately. How about any one of the following --

a) a Tampax
b) an antipanti
c) a tube of Monistat 7
d) a disposable nursing pad
e) a Magic Clean bidet

But to be perfectly honest, this comparison with feminine hygine products is just plain insulting and dumb. All of the above products (douchebags included) deliver important health benefits to millions of women every day. A more apropos metaphor for John Kerry would be an annoying and/or dangerous medical condition. For example --

a) a urinary tract infection
b) an ectopic pregnancy
c) morning sickness
d) pre-menstrual cramps
e) acute mastitis
f) a bleeding hemorrhoid

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:01 PM
King County Dhimmicrats

The Seattle Times reports that the Jihad-promoting fifth columnists at CAIR are insinuating themselves into the local Democratic Party and that the Democrats are only too eager to become Dhimmicrats:

U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Seattle, was ... given CAIR's public-official-of-the-year award for his support of the Muslim community.
By "support of the Muslim community", I take that to mean Baghdad Jim's Oil-for-Food funded mission to try to prolong the regime of Saddam Hussein.

CAIR has also persuaded the Dhimmicrats to scapegoat the Jews:

Samia El-Moslimany, CAIR vice chair, announced "tremendous news."

She told the crowd that the King County Democratic Party, meeting earlier in the day elsewhere within the Convention Center, had voted into its platform a commitment to "withhold U.S. tax dollars from Israel while it is in violation of international law."

"This is a memorable day," said El-Moslimany.

...

Following El-Moslimany to the podium, McDermott said that passage of the platform commitment should encourage all American Muslims to get involved in the political process.

God help us all.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 06:07 PM
May 08, 2004
Monosphincter

Today's Seattle Times profiles a Moronorail lover whom it portrays as the biggest asshole in town.

"I simply love the monorail," he says
Unfortunately, the love is unrequited. Current plans call for the train to run right outside his window, depriving him of sunlight:
Now Inshetski is considering whether to join a campaign to repeal the monorail plan.

"They affected not just all the residents, but one of their most faithful workers," he says. "If they could do that to a volunteer, then how would other people feel?"

Other people would feel that unless you think about the thousands of other people who are negatively affected by the Monorail and unless you spend as much time and money fighting to kill the Monorail as you spent campaigning for it -- whether or not your own selfish concerns are mitigated -- then the newspaper is not unfairly portraying you as an asshole.

For more information on fighting the Moronorail: OnTrack and monorailrecall.com

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:55 AM
May 07, 2004
"A regular, run-of-the-mill guy"

Brandon Mayfield, the Muslim convert from Portland, Oregon who has been arrested as a material witness to the Madrid train bombing, has been described as a "regular, run-of-the-mill guy":

Portland attorney Tom Nelson, who described himself as a mentor, said he received a call Thursday afternoon from Mayfield asking for help.

"His wife was in tears because of the way the search was conducted. The FBI apparently hurt things in the house, left things in disarray," Nelson told reporters outside Mayfield's home. "He is a regular, run-of-the-mill guy."

That is not as strange of a characterization as it might at first appear. Maybe Tom Nelson regularly associates himself with bomb-making Jihadists. Oh, wait.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 04:19 PM
Voter Education Committee

Yesterday I got one of those annoying computer-generated phone calls from a sham group calling itself the "Voter Education Committee", urging me not to sign any ballot initiative petitions from a paid signature gatherer, on the grounds that

some of these paid signature gatherers have been convicted of forgery, signature fraud and other crimes. They may say anything to gain your signature.
The Seattle Times reports that the "Voter Education Committee" is an unregistered fictitious name for the Washington State Council of County and City Employees and that
Chris Dugovich, the union's president and executive, acknowledged it is not known that any signature gatherers involved in current petition drives have been convicted of crimes. But he said the union wanted voters to be aware of the potential for abuse when people gather signatures for a living.
It's nice of the public employee unions to be concerned for your welfare, isn't it?

The recorded phone message doesn't mention this, but the public employees are mainly concerned about stopping I-864, a property tax reduction measure sponsored by Tim Eyman.

There are, however, petitions for other ballot initiatives in circulation, including some that will create more jobs for public employees. For example, I-884, which would raise the sales tax and shovel a billion more dollars a year into the unaccountable black hole of the public education system, and Referendum 55, which aims to outlaw charter schools in order to keep more low-income children trapped in the underperforming and unaccountable black hole of the public education system. DO NOT SIGN EITHER PETITION.

Signature gatherers for R-55 and I-884 could steal your identity, break into your home, kill your spouse, rape your dog, give you the Ebola virus, defecate in your kitchen sink and install kiddie-porn on your hard drive. We do not yet have bullet-proof confirmation that all of these signature gatherers have been convicted of cannibalism, but the public employee union folks have demonstrated that they don't have any integrity, so why take a chance?

In the meantime, please be sure to sign the petitions for the following worthy state initiatives, all of whose signature gatherers are decent, law-abiding citizens:

I-864 to lower property taxes.
I-894 "Trust and Transit" to force a revote on Sound Transit.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:10 AM
Nethercutt Breakfast

U.S. Senate candidate George Nethercutt is having a campaign kick-off breakfast in Bellevue on May 14. Tickets are $35. Joining Congressman Nethercutt will be special guests Sen. Elizabeth Dole and former Senator Slade Gorton. John Carlson will be Master of Ceremonies.

I met George Nethercutt at a small group dinner a couple months ago and found him to be warm and engaging. Washington needs a new Senator to replace the worn-out ultra-liberal Patty "Osama Mama" Murray. I know George Nethercutt will be a terrific Senator.

I'm organizing a table for the event. So far there are 11 of us, so we have a full table and the start of a second table! Please join us to support George Nethercutt's campaign. E-mail me here if you're interested.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:10 AM
May 06, 2004
Moronorail Catblogging


Even Mr. Foxy has enough sense to oppose the Seattle Moronorail.

Sadly, a majority of Seattle's City Councilmembers have less common sense than Mr. Foxy has and they've approved a controversial part of the route without adequate input from the public. Fortunately, we voters can still stop the mono-strosity.

Do your part to help save Seattle from the Moronorail: www.monorailrecall.com. Do it for Mr. Foxy.

UPDATE: While the monorailrecall.com group has launched a ballot measure to kill the Moronorail, another group, OnTrack, has the stated goal of ensuring that "the Seattle Monorail Project keeps its promises". This is a tall order. OnTrack has a treasure trove of facts and analysis that raise serious concerns about the project and information on lobbying the City Council to express concerns about the Monorail's impact on the community. It also has some lighter stuff that skewers the Monorail: A hilarious cartoon, a Harper's style "index" of Monorail numbers and a Swiftian "modest proposal" for a Monorail Pentathlon.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 04:46 PM
Oracle DBA Needed

I am seeking to hire a first-rate Oracle DBA consultant for a small project.

Entails installing a new Oracle configuration on a Linux server, migrating an existing Oracle database to the new installation, establishing backup and maintenance procedures (but not actually doing the backups); being available for consultation in case of rare emergency.

Most work can be done remotely and outside of normal business hours. Moonlighting okay. I would consider someone EITHER near Fremont, CA -or- in the Seattle area.

Feel free to forward this notice to acquaintances with suitable qualifications. If interested, please contact me here

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 01:34 PM
Christine Gregoire Meltdown

Washington gubernatorial candidate and Attorney General Christine Gregoire continues to melt down over concerns about mismanagement, cover-ups, investigation tampering, blame-shifting and now flip-flops in the matter of the botched appeal that cost the state tens of millions of dollars.

Gregoire claimed in a recent television interview that in spite of accusations that she attempted to interfere with an "independent investigation" into the botched appeal, the interference was appropriate because the investigation was not supposed to be independent:

On KING 5 News Up Front, Gregoire said she saw nothing wrong with making suggestions because she never saw it as an "independent" investigation.

"I wasn't asking for an independent investigation. That phraseology was something that came afterwards. I was asking her, 'Tell me what happened, because I'm going to court,'" she said.

Sadly for Gregoire, she left an audit trail. KING 5 News discovered a letter to a newspaper where she claimed that there was an independent investigation:
Please allow me to explain what we have done since first learning of the missed appeal deadline. First, we immediately requested an extension from the Court of Appeals. Simultaneously, we appointed an independent investigation of the circumstances to determine how thid could have happened. We have acted upon the findings of the independent investigator.
Gregoire's campaign manager struggled through this response:
By an independent investigation, I think when she was responding to your question, was more thinking in terms of was this a criminal investigation, and the answer is no, it wasn't a criminal investigation ... But it was an independent review to give her the best information possible so she could go then and inform the court what the circumstances of the error were.
Got that? I think what he means is that it depends on the definition of "is".

Gregoire is either incompetent or dishonest or both, and she will not become the next governor of Washington. But it's pretty funny to watch all those out-of-state feminists blow hundreds of thousands of dollars on the surreal hope that she will.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:06 PM
It's in the P-I

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer is calling for Donald Rumsfeld to be relieved of his job over the unauthorized abuse of Iraqi prisoners by a few rogue members of the U.S. military whom Rumsfeld will investigate and no doubt discipline as appropriate.

The same Seattle Post-Intelligencer called for Saddam Hussein not to be relieved of his job in spite of having ordered far worse abuse of Iraqi prisoners, whose abusers he no doubt rewarded handsomely for their service to his regime.

Is the Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorial board really concerned with prisoners' rights, or are they simply on the other side?

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:10 AM
May 05, 2004
Praise for Jim McDermott

I'm going to break with conventional non-liberal opinion and agree with Rosenblogger Matt Rosenberg that Congressman Jim McDermott did something reasonable for a change:

U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott is finally on the side of truth, justice and the American way.

The liberal Democrat from Seattle was leading the House of Representatives in a routine recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance last week, and had the temerity to silently pause while most other members said the words, "under God."
...
After the incident, McDermott backtracked a bit, sensing political damage to his party. But his critics are wrong. Religion has no place in the daily machinery of government.

Indeed.

I find this so-called controversy over the Pledge of Allegiance to be painfully lame. As one who feels that expressions of religious faith are a deeply personal matter, I would prefer that the Pledge of Allegiance not include "under God", but it's not something I'm about to pick a fight over. On the other hand, I respect many of those who see their faith in God and love for country as intertwined. But I doubt they'll be at a loss to express their faith in God without a government formula to remind them when to mention his name.

So here's my compromise: those who wish to acknowledge God in the Pledge of Allegiance may utter the words "under God". Those who prefer not to, not. Yes, it really is that simple. And if Jim McDermott helped bring us closer to this compromise so we can devote more attention to the urgent issues of the day (like the war), then good for him.

Meanwhile, "Baghdad Jim" should always remain an easy target for his critics. Take yesterday's floor speech, for example, a deplorable bit of rhetoric designed to undermine our progress in Iraq and bring about our surrender and/or defeat.

And do read all of Matt Rosenberg's column, which has lots of interesting thoughts about faith (of various kinds) and politics.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:40 AM
Moronorail

After reviewing all of the reader entries to my query: "What should be the Shark Blog's official name for fervid believers of the Seattle Monorail cult?", I have reached a decision.

The Shark Blog's official name for the "Seattle Monorail Project" will be:

The Moronorail
We will not, however, limit ourselves to only one official name for the Moronorail's giddy cultists. They will be known alternately as:

"One-Track Minds"
"Monomaniacs"
"Mono-Raelians"
or simply as
"Morons"

Thanks to all who sent in their comments, and especially to Steve Skubinna for proposing the winning name "Moronorail"

Ramsey Trashes the Moronorail

Seattle Times columnist Bruce Ramsey today sticks his editorial pen deftly into the eyes of Seattle's two delusional railroad schemes: The Moronorail and Sound Transit:

What we have now are two rail-transit agencies, each with the urgent will to live, which is to say, each unwilling to take their hands out of our pockets. Each offers a starter project, and each has clearly said it will ask for more money for more projects later on. These agencies are rivals, and they are incompatible.

One of them has to die. Maybe both of them. But one of them, for sure.

I say both for sure. Even my pro-life friends should agree that abortion should be permitted in the case of saving the public from having to give birth to a braindead boondoggle.

Seattle needs sensible transit solutions. Neither of these schemes will reduce automobile congestion enough to justify their costs and environmental impact. Do what you can to help the ballot initiatives to abort these wasteful projects. To stop the Moronorail, visit www.monorailrecall.com. To kill Sound Transit, visit www.trustandtransit.com

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 09:43 AM
Military Sealift Command

I received this e-mail from blog reader Steve Skubinna, who gave up an office job in Seattle to join the Navy's Military Sealift Command. I hadn't known anything about the MSC or its important role in naval operations. I encourage you to read Steve's e-mail and join me in thanking him for his service.


Well, after 9/11 I decided I wasn’t really cut out for a normal work life and daily commute. Being too ancient to return to the Navy, I joined the Navy’s Military Sealift Command as an Ordinary Seaman. I am now an Able Seaman, and loving every backbreaking, messy, exhausting, nasty minute of it!

MSC is a command of the Department of the Navy and among other things, operates Navy owned support ships with civilian crews. You probably have seen some of our ships without realizing it – whenever a major news media organization shows footage of naval activity in the Gulf, you generally see an overhead shot of a carrier steaming alongside another ship, connected by wires and hoses, and perhaps flying helicopters back and forth with cargo suspended beneath them. The other ship is us – we have AOs (fueling ships), AFSs (general stores and provisions ships, AEs (ammunition ships) and have just taken over the Navy’s four newest AOEs (fast, multiproduct replenishment – “one stop” resupply ships). MSC fleet support ships look like Navy ones and many were originally built for regular Navy operation. They are painted gray, but have blue and gold bands around the funnel top.

Since our individual mariners usually have much more experience than our Navy counterparts, we can operate these ships with considerably smaller crews. Also, we are not subject to the operational tempo restrictions the Navy puts on their regular ships so can spend many more days at sea a year. Thus, the Navy saves valuable personnel, plus gets more use from their underway replenishment ships. We’re what the buzz word aficionados like to call a force multiplier.

I spent Gulf War II aboard USNS Shasta, an AE in the Persian Gulf. I am still assigned to Shasta but am currently on a month’s leave (and down to four days before having to go back… somehow that doesn’t depress me as much as I think it ought. While I spend much time away from my house and no longer have evenings and weekends and holidays at home, and work under very arduous and hazardous conditions I feel so much more alive and relevant than when I was commuting to Seattle daily. If you’ve ever seen the movie Office Space, I feel like the main character Peter does at the end of that film – every day.

Oh, as to what I personally do, I am in Deck Department. My duties include working on replenishment rigs (the wire and winch contraptions that send and receive cargo), handling, inventorying, stowing, and breaking out ammunition on deck and in the magazines, driving forklifts, working on the flight deck, or performing maintenance and preservation of deck equipment and superstructures. I am also ship’s armorer and have to maintain custody of weapons and the ship’s allowance of small arms ammo. I am qualified to stand watches on the bridge, where I would be lookout, helmsman, or roving security. I am a team leader of our reaction force as well. Many and varied duties, nonroutine work, world travel… all this and a paycheck too!

Apologies for being so prolix, but I suppose I want to spread my own sense of well being, contentment, and personal satisfaction. I believe that my worst day at sea is always better than my best day at the District Court. In fact, it occurred to me after I left the Court that the high point of my work day was spending fifteen minutes every morning at the SBC on the corner, chatting with the baristas and sipping my double short mocha. No daily visits to SBC anymore, and I hardly notice the loss.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 09:15 AM
May 04, 2004
Shi'ittle City Council

The Shi'ittle City Council is imposing firm measures to uphold the Sha'aria prohibition on naked ladies:

In what's become an annual rite, the Seattle City Council yesterday extended its moratorium on strip clubs ... Meanwhile, City Attorney Tom Carr has been working on regulations that would impose stricter rules on Seattle's clubs, such as a law in Bellevue that strippers have to stay 4 feet away from customers
I suppose Seattle police officers will be ordered to start carrying yardsticks, which should also come in handy for flogging the violators.

"Jihad Jim" Compton

I always wondered why Councilmember Jim Compton never answered any of the emails I sent him about important city matters. It turns out he's too busy calling radio talk shows. And watching Al Jazeera on his office television. Here is what Jihad Jim said when he called a KUOW talk show this morning [Starts at 47:50. This quote at 49:40]

No I don't think it's a battle of propaganda at all. I think that Al Jazeera which pulls no punches and has been very one-sided in its coverage is in this case just reflecting what Arab and Muslim societies feel about the United States. We are no longer liberators. We are occupiers and we're turning out to be vile occupiers. We're turning out to be profane occupiers. And that's what's so frightening to me and that's why you know I'm a Democrat and I'm a politician but I think we've never needed regime change in this country as much as we've needed it now.
"reflecting what Arab and Muslim societies feel"? Compton worked as a journalist before he became an ethically challenged politician, so you'd hope he'd understand that the role of the media is to inform instead of simply regurgitating prejudice, but that's probably too much to hope for. Nice rhetorical use of the phrase "regime change", though. Bush = Saddam. They're equally vile. Saddam was always condemning and investigating human rights violations in Iraq too. Just like Jihad Jim did.

hat tip: Erik of the Wax Tadpole.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 09:15 PM
This sounds like a winner

Al Gore is launching a "bold and irreverent" cable news network for young adults by buying Newsworld International

Newsworld International is a 24-hour channel broadcasting international news produced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. ... Following its acquisition by Gore's company, INdTV Holdings, the programming will continue to be provided by CBC, it was announced Tuesday
That'll take the MTV market by storm. The always hip Al Gore offering Canadian programming that is so hip that even Canadians refuse to watch it unless they're required by law.

But at least we can trust GoreTV to be scrupulously objective:

"This is not going to be a liberal network, a Democratic network or a political network," Gore said at a news conference.
It's obviously the enormous profit opportunity that motivates Al Gore. And this greedy capitalist bastard is milking every last nickel out of the thing -- by exporting American jobs to Canada. I can't wait until the Democrats make an issue of this.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 01:20 PM
I'm Back

An interruption in my hosting center's "uninterruptible power supply" yesterday fried my database server and interrupted my business operations and blogs for several hours. A more or less smooth transition to a stand-by database with everything now more or less back to normal. Now to catch up on that which I would have been doing if I hadn't had to deal with this. See you later.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:59 PM
May 03, 2004
Mark Griswold for State Representative

I live in Washington State's 43rd Legislative District, surely one of the most fervidly Democratic districts in the entire United States (as a point of reference, "Baghdad Jim" McDermott represented the 43rd in the state legislature before he took his talents to the U.S. Congress). Not only are all three of the 43rd's state legislators Democrats, but no Republican has ever even run for the legislature from the 43rd in more than a decade. Both of our representatives, Ed Murray and Speaker of the House Frank Chopp, have run unopposed, Fidel Castro-style, in all of their respective races since the mid '90s. Until this year.

A fine Republican named Mark Griswold is challenging Frank Chopp in November. Mark allies himself with the Mainstream Republicans. His campaign is focused on freeing the economy from burdensome regulations; fiscal responsibility in education, and smarter public transportation -- all issues on which Frank Chopp has failed.

Mark worked for the Senate Republican Caucus in Olympia last session and was encouraged to run by leading Republicans in the legislature. His colleagues describe him as "fearless", which is what you have to be to challenge a sitting Speaker. There is a precedent around here for such an electoral coup d'etat -- last November the young Bob Ferguson challenged 20-year incumbent Cynthia Sullivan for County Council, and won. It could happen again.

Of course it's a long-shot, but voters deserve a sensible alternative to the failed stale statist status quo; Frank Chopp deserves to be challenged on the issues, and Republicans in the 43rd deserve to know that they're not alone.

Join me in supporting Mark Griswold for State Representative.

If you're near Green Lake tomorrow morning, May 4, Mark will be having a Krispy Kreme Fundraiser, 730AM – 9AM at the Corner of Ravenna Way & NE 70th St (near Gregg’s Greenlake Cycle). I'll be there from about 8:30 on.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:59 PM
Big Fat Bullies

A new study links kids' obesity to bullying risk

Overweight adolescents are more likely than normal-weight children to be victims and perpetrators of bullying, a study found
The victim part doesn't surprise me, but I had never really considered that overweight kids would be more likely to become bullies.

But the observation does help explain both this lady and a certain famous celebrity:

[overweight boys] were more than twice as likely to make fun of others and spread lies and rumors than normal-weight boys.
Was it just me, or did anybody else immediately think of Michael Moore?

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:02 PM
Crapette

I rarely choose to be this mean, but I have stumbled across the canonical example of boring insipid overrated crap.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:48 AM
May 02, 2004
Monomania Contest

Here at the Shark Blog we seldom run polls or contests, but today we are running a poll/contest.

What should be the Shark Blog's official name for fervid believers of the Seattle Monorail cult?

* Monomaniacs
* Monomythologists
* One-Hundred-Million-Dollars-A-Mile Guys
* Monotheists
* Monoxide Snorters
* Monstrosity Mongers
* Mongoloids
* Monorchids
* Monocrats
* One-Track Minds

Please post a comment with your vote. New suggestions are welcome.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 03:15 PM
E-mail of the Week

This is the best e-mail I've received all week:

Mr. Sharkansky, it is with some interest and delight to read that you have relocated to the Emerald City. Now it is your duty to slam the doors on others from California or elsewhere wanting to move up here. Remember the advice a correspondent gave you about always mentioning the constant rain here.

I had read your blog a bit before I left my employment in Seattle to return to sea in early 2002. While working in Seattle, I loved reading The Stranger every week for my dose of angst and fury, but had to quit shortly before the 2000 election when they went completely off the rails at the imminent possibility of a George Dubya presidency. They went beyond frantic to spittle flecked incoherency. It was too pathetic to watch them screw themselves into the ceiling every issue. They supported the monorail – not because they actually believed it was a solution to traffic congestion, but because it was cool.

Currently home on leave (across the Sound from you, on the south shore of the Hood Canal), I hope to check on your blog from overseas in the future. Your updates on the monorail foolishness are a treat, not least because they permit me to revel in smug shadenfreude. Glad I don’t have to pay for the (probably) bong fuelled mandatory gyrations of the Seattle City Council and their coterie of painfully earnest buffoons. A friend, who has houses in both West Seattle and on the Canal, has registered all of his cars over here because he doesn’t see why he should pay an extra thousand or so a year to fund that homage to the Jetsons.

Thanks for an entertaining blog

Thank you too!

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 02:52 PM
Intelligent Design

Today's NPR Weekend Edition had a story about "Intelligent Design" theory, which is an attempt to challenge the theory of evolution with the hypothesis that life was designed rather than evolved.

It's certainly a legitimate avenue of science to examine phenomena that are not adequately explained today by the theory of evolution. At the same time, I pose for your consideration phenomena that are not adequately explained by the theory of intelligent design:

1) Jennifer Lopez

2) Margarine

3) The Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 02:43 PM