July 31, 2004
Free-to-Hate Zone

The Seattle Times reports on a campaign to get more Muslims to vote:

Jama is heading a voter-registration drive on behalf of Hate Free Zone Campaign of Washington, a civil-rights advocacy group, and the Seattle branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Seattle). The groups are hoping to reach as many as 10,000 Muslims statewide — either new voters or those who've registered but are not on the mailing list of either group.
The so-called "Hate Free Zone"
was formed as an immediate response to hate crimes and discrimination from individuals and government policies targeting Arabs, Muslims, South Asians and other communities following September 11, 2001.
Fair enough. But the group approaches its mission with an inappropriate hysteria. The home page has a prominent link to this article
Hate crimes surged last year against people of Islamic faith and those of Middle Eastern ethnicity in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, the FBI reported Monday. Incidents targeting Muslims, previously the least common involving religious bias, increased from just 28 in 2000 to 481 in 2001 -- a jump of 1,600 percent.
Only thing though, is that the report, issued in 2002, was succeeded by the 2003 report which showed that the number of anti-Muslim incidents in 2002 fell to 155. But this reassuring drop-off is nowhere mentioned over at the Hate Free Zone. (As a point of comparison, the annual mumber of anti-Jewish hate crimes, also reported by the FBI but nowhere mentioned by the Hate Free Zone, is relatively stable in the range of 1,400 - 1,600 per year). The Hate Free summary of the FBI report also informs us that:
Whites made up the vast majority of known offenders for all cases, at 6,054, followed by blacks at 1,882
Those hateful whites! But alas, one reason that the "vast majority" of hate crimes are committed by whites is that the vast majority of Americans are white. A comparison of hate crime statistics with population statistics shows that the percentage of white people among hate crime offenders is the same as the percentage of white people in the general population. But the Hate Free Zone doesn't bother to put the "vast majority" number in this context.

In addition to whipping up hysteria about the imaginary epidemic of anti-Muslim hate crimes committed by white people, the other thing that is weird about the "Hate Free Zone" is that their voter-registration drive recruits Muslims exclusively and is in partnership with the local chapter of CAIR. What kind of political activity does the local CAIR group encourage? Its proudest accomplishment was inserting a plank into the county Democratic platform that singles out Israel for condemnation. That sounds like a form of hate to me.

A better name for the "Hate Free Zone" might be the "Free-to-Hate-Whites-and-Jews Zone".

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 04:41 PM
And they're off!

The Washington State candidate filing period has ended. A list of the state legislative candidates is here. Follow the links at the top to see the other state, federal and judicial candidates on the ballot. Our own district's Mark Griswold gets a nice mention in today's Seattle Times article about the candidate filings.

Republican Party Chairman Chris Vance said the GOP is being equally aggressive. "Republicans are poised to have a big, big year," he said ... Vance noted his party even has a Republican candidate, Mark Griswold, running against state House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle. State records show this would be the first time Chopp has faced a Republican opponent since he was elected in 1994.
Knock Chopp's block off, Mark!

Several other Republicans filed this year to run for Seattle legislative seats that seldom have even token Republican challengers. I credit Mark Griswold for blazing the trail.

Meanwhile in the gubernatorial race, Democrats Ron Sims and Christine Gregoire have been joined by a candidate who is no less qualified than they are to be the state's chief executive: Mike the Mover. There are even two candidates duking it out in the primary to be the Libertarian standard-bearer in the general election. Now that's a title worth fighting for!

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 02:54 PM
Aaron Schwitters

Today's Seattle Times has a nice profile of young GOP activist Aaron Schwitters, who aspires to elective office some day:

It's 7:30 in the morning. Aaron Schwitters is shaking hands and grinning broadly outside the kickoff breakfast for George Nethercutt's Senate campaign. He was at the ballroom in his crisp blue suit at 6 a.m. to help set up chairs.

Schwitters is only 21. But he's already done dozens of these political events, speeches and fund-raisers here and in Washington, D.C.

"Everyone knows Aaron Schwitters," Kristina Morris, a fellow young activist, said recently.

Heh. I know Aaron Schwitters too.
[Schwitters] has his own critique of Republicans: The party, he said, has too many pessimists and culture warriors. He believes Republicans would be better off talking optimistically about free-market policies at home and democracy abroad.
He's my kind of Republican. I hope he goes far.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:42 AM
July 30, 2004
Who would want to repel a shark?

I'm a little offended by this: "Shark Repellent Deemed a Breakthrough"

Researchers say they finally have found a potent repellent to drive away sharks, after testing off Bimini island in the Bahamas. It's a goal that's eluded scientists for decades.
Sharks aren't easily repelled. We're a pretty tolerant bunch, after all. The question is, who are the intolerant ones who want to send us away?
The repellent, called A-2 because it was the second recipe tried, is derived from extracts of dead sharks that Stroud gathered at New Jersey fish markets and piers.
Ah, the bottomless depravity of the intolerant.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:32 PM
What would new technology do without Microsoft?

AP headline: "Microsoft says new technology will be key"

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:16 AM
The Party of the Helpless

John Kerry, in his nomination acceptance speech:

As President, I will not privatize Social Security
...
America can do better. And help is on the way.

What does it mean when Deborah Kromins from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania works and saves all her life only to find out that her pension has disappeared into thin air – and the executive who looted it has bailed out on a golden parachute?

It means that we should teach our people to manage their own affairs instead of persuading them to become helpless sheep who have no choice but to trust in the benevolence of paternal institutions. It also means we should privatize Social Security.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:12 AM
July 29, 2004
The Party of The Hopeless

Twelve years ago the Democrats introduced the Man From Hope.

This year the Democrats are giving us the Man From Hopeless: "Edwards' promise: "Hope is on the way"", but apparently they don't have any yet.

Earlier today AFL-CIO boss John Sweeney spoke to the convention. He introduced three people who were out of work and unable to find the jobs of their dreams. But hope is on the way:

It’s time we elected a president who will bring back those dreams.
The Democrats would do better to advertise the successful recipients of the programs they've created than to paint themselves as the party of despondent losers.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 09:57 PM
It's in the P-I

Steve Niva, one of the Evergreen State "College" "professors" who instructed Rachel Corrie to throw herself in front of a moving bulldozer, wants us to believe that he and Yasser Arafat care more about Israel's security than do the millions of Israelis who feel safer with a large impermeable barrier between themselves and the next potential grocery store suicide bomber.

The essay is as ludicrous as any op-ed that has appeared in the P-I since, well, since the last time we checked.

So why would the Seattle Post-Intelligencer waste so paper in order to bring Steve Niva's urgent message to the world? You have to wonder what the P-I's editors hate more -- Jews or trees?

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:26 AM
July 28, 2004
This just in ...

Reuters headline: "Democrats to Nominate Kerry, Cheer Edwards"

Who knew?

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 03:21 PM
Meet Dino Rossi

Join me this evening at the 43rd District picnic for Washington's next governor, Dino Rossi. In Seattle's Woodland Park, Shelter #2, today, Wednesday, July 28 at 6:30pm.

Hot dogs and beverages will be served. Bring your own sides and salads.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 01:13 PM
Life imitates the Onion

From The Onion: "Kerry Makes Whistle Stop Tour From Deck of Yacht"

From The Associated Press today: "Kerry, Former Crewmates Sail Into Boston"

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:49 PM
Suppression of Dissent in Ashcroft's America?

The Seattle City Council voted this week to suppress dissent:

In an effort to save money, the Seattle City Council Monday approved reducing the maximum number of words in this year's city voter pamphlet and pushed for a livelier publication by eliminating rules that prohibit candidates from mentioning their opponents.

"We welcome the hurly-burly of political speech," said Councilman Jim Compton.

Council members made it clear that they want the full word count restored next year for candidate statements and initiative arguments. The Seattle Ethics and Election Commission said it could save about $10,000 a year on average if it could reduce the size of the pamphlet.

This year, the principal statements for initiatives will be limited to 200 words, and the rebuttal may be no longer than 75 words. Candidate statements would be limited to 150 words. There are no City Council elections this year.

A more informed electorate was the argument for restoring the number of words candidates will have next year to 400. Initiative statements will also be allowed a maximum of 400 words, with a rebuttal of 150 words.

What's interesting about this is that the only city initiative on the ballot for the September election is the so-called $117 million "Families and Education Levy" proposal, which was created by the Mayor and City Council. [The Monorail Recall initiative is expected to appear on the November ballot]. The city has dedicated hundreds of staff hours and other public resources to developing and promoting the F & E levy proposal. The voters' guide will contain the entire text of the initiative (2,962 words), a "ballot title" summary of the initiative (79 words) and a statement from the City Attorney (258 words). The ballot title and City Attorney statement are both favorable to the proposal in a misleading sort of way. The proponents also get a 200 word argument for the levy, and a 75 word rebuttal to the opposition argument. The opposition gets only a 200 word argument and a 75 word rebuttal to the proponents. 3,574 words to 275. Not to mention all the other city resources that are working for the proponents, but not for the opposition. Indeed, the Families and Education Levy is the only city issue on the September ballot and the only reason the city is spending thousands of dollars to print and mail a September voters' guide in the first place. [I'll post the exact cost of the voters' guide once I get a reply to my inquiry from the city elections agency]. It wouldn't save $10,000 this election to trim 550 words from the voters' guide. In fact, all the report says is that the cost impact is $10,000 per year [The elections agency explained that this was an average over the last several years]. In 2004 there are three elections in Seattle (February special, September primary, November general). So it seems that the incremental cost per initiative is somewhere in the $1,000 - $5,000 range. That seems like a perfectly reasonable price to pay to give the opponents twice as much space to educate the public about a $117 million tax increase. You have to wonder whether the City Council is afraid of what those opponents might bring up and wants to stifle their dissent, or simply doesn't have the integrity to ensure that we have an adequate debate.

I understand this particular issue very well. I'm a member of the group that is writing the official opposition statement for voters' guide (along with fellow blogger Andy MacDonald). It's tough enough in this town to have to explain why we shouldn't spend another $117 million to re-up a program that has a politically-correct name, but has been a scandalous failure for 14 years and has slid by all this time without adequate press scrutiny. But to do so in only 275 words instead of the traditional 550 makes our job that much harder.

Deliberate or not, the effect is a suppression of dissent. And I thought that liberal Seattlites only blamed Ashcroft for that sort of thing.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:20 AM
What would we do without ...

What would we do without The View from Boston?

"The View From Boston: Conventions clearly showcase party differences" -- Joel Connelly, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

What would we do without reviews?

"Review: Hospital errors are major cause of death"
-- Seattle Post-Intelligencer headline

With a nod to James Taranto, who are taking a break from posting redundant headlines this week so they can report on the convention. And happy fourth anniversary to Mr. Taranto and their column. What we do without our daily dose of humorous political commentary written in the first person plural?

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:28 AM
It's in the P-I

Out of all the op-eds the Seattle Post-Intelligencer could have published today, it chose this one:

What if we took a modest slice of the state budget -- say, one-quarter of 1 percent of state spending, about $50 million per year -- and spent that money on foreign assistance?
Our state is facing a budget deficit that is projected into the billions over the next few years, so now is the time to start our own foreign aid program? Um, whatever. [Here is a picture of the guy who wrote the op-ed, by the way]

On further reflection, this might not be as bad of an idea as I originally thought. Nobody would even miss the money if we just redirected the funds that are earmarked for Evergreen State College.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:09 AM
July 27, 2004
Speaking Truth to Ketchup

I caught Mrs. Heinz Ketchup's convention speech on the radio. A few of her comments were worth remarking on:

Thank you, Christopher. Your father would be proud of you and your brothers.
He would also be at the other party's convention.
And tonight, as I have done throughout this campaign I would like to speak to you from my heart. Y a todos los Hispanos, los Latinos; a tous les Americains, Francais et Canadiens; a tutti Italiani; a toda a familia Portugesa e Brazileria;
Four Romance languages, and this is diversity? She could at least have given us a little Germanic: "Schieb das!", or some Slavic: "В жопу!"
My father ... only got the right to vote for the first time when he was 71 years old. That’s what happens in dictatorships.
She should tell that to the 25 million Iraqis who get to vote for the first time thanks to the war she opposed.
an idea of America that is all about heart and creativity, generosity and confidence
It's easy to be generous and confident when you have your own billion dollar endowment.
We sent men to the moon, and when that was not far enough, we sent Galileo to Jupiter, we sent Cassini to Saturn, and Hubble to touch the very edges of the universe at the very dawn of time.
And then the John Kerry campaign sent its man to NASA and made him look like an idiot.
He believes that alternative fuels will guarantee that not only will no American boy or girl go to war because of our dependence on foreign oil,
Question: What would President Kerry do if the Saudi branch of Al Qaeda kidnaps large numbers of Americans working in the Kingdom and threatens to behead them unless all U.S. citizens leave Saudi Arabia immediately?
Isn’t it time we began working to give parents more opportunity to be with their children, and to afford to have a family life?
Does this mean that the childless among us will have to work extra hours in order to give everybody else time off?
With John Kerry as president, the alliances that bind the community of nations and that truly make our country and the world a safer place, will be strengthened once more.
Translation: President Kerry will follow France's lead.
The Americans John and I have met in the course of this campaign all want America to provide hopeful leadership again. They want America to return to its moral bearings. It is not a moralistic America they seek, but a moral nation that understands and willingly shoulders its obligations; a moral nation that rejects thoughtless and greedy choices in favor of thoughtful and generous actions; a moral nation that leads through the power of its ideas and the power of its example.
She should tell that to the Iraqi amputees who got their hands back because of the war she opposed.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:15 PM
Washington Democrats: "We Don't Care"

A report on the Washington State delegation at the Democratic Convention:

some delegates skipped the warm-up speeches and didn't show up on the convention floor until about 7 p.m. The problem with that, state party chairman Paul Berendt explained, was the empty seats made Washington look bad, especially since the delegation is seated near the front: "It looks like we don't care."
Well, the WA Democrats don't care about the same things that regular people care about. But they do care about all kinds of goofy-assed nonsense.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 02:02 PM
9th Circuit Upholds Constitution

This just in:

A federal appeals-court panel has again rejected use of race as a tiebreaker in assigning students to Seattle schools, holding the practice violate constitutional guarantees of equal protection.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 01:55 PM
Axis of Evil

Item: The Lebanese Hezbollah (Arabic for "Party of God") has deployed long-range missiles capable of hitting Tel-Aviv. The missiles were supplied by Iran and Syria with the complicity of Syria's puppet government in Beirut.

Item: The Sudanese government continues to tolerate the genocide in Darfur.

Item: The Holy Land Foundation, a Texas-based Muslim "charity", has been indicted on charges of providing financial support to Hamas.

Item: Who are those unnamed foreign leaders who want John Kerry in the White House? One of them is Yassir Arafat

Item: And then there is the Washington Education Association

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:26 PM
WEA Delenda Est

The Evergreen Freedom Foundation has chronicled the recent crimes and misdeeds of the Washington Education Association in its series "Marysville Teacher Strike - Lessons Learned".

Read all five installments (about one page each) --

1: "Washington's courts repeatedly rule that teacher strikes are illegal"

2: "Attorney General’s poor advice prolongs strike" [that would be the same Attorney General who now wants to be governor]

3: "WEA’s real objective: Survival!"

4: "WEA harms children and teachers"

5: "WEA pressures districts to ignore state salary law"

After you finish reading the series, please come back and post a comment and explain to me: (1) what important benefits the WEA offers the people of Washington? and (2) why we should permit the WEA to skim $700+ off the salary of every public teacher in the state?

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 09:54 AM
July 26, 2004
Don't Stop Thinking About 12 Years Ago

My reactions to the Clintons' speeches at the DNC. Hillary characterized the 9/11 attacks as a "tragedy". Her solution:

We need to fully equip and train our firefighters, police officers and emergency medical technicians-our first responders in the event of a terrorist attack.

We need to secure our borders and our ports, as well as our chemical and nuclear plants.

She couldn't bring herself to admit that the attacks were an act of war by an implacable enemy who seeks to destroy our way of life and whom we must defeat. 9/11 was like a bout of nasty weather, for which the solution is more unionized local government employees.

That's a pretty good synopsis of the Democrats' approach to national security, which from the 1993 Trade Center bombing to the 2000 bombing of the Cole helped set the stage for 9/11. These people aren't serious about the world we live in.

Then Bill pranced on stage to the theme song of his 1992 nomination: "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow". Is there nobody at the DNC who vets these things for irony?

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 09:36 PM
A Joseph Wilson Sighting!

Discredited former Ambassador Joseph Wilson was spotted this weekend giving a re-election campaign kick-off speech for Washington Congressman Jay Inslee

Inslee looks extremely foolish appearing with a man that even the Kerry campaign has dropped like a glass of radioactive mint tea. Not that it will hurt Inslee -- this time -- he faces only token opposition from a political novice. A stronger Republican should take note of Inslee's embrace of Wilson and use it against Inslee two years from now.

Then again, the Wilson implosion is getting so little coverage in the national media and even less in Seattle that maybe there aren't that many people who even know how badly Inslee discredits himself by tying himself to Wilson.

UPDATE: Kirkland blogger Jim Miller, who lives in Inslee's district, wrote Inslee to ask him to "correct the record and disassociate himself from Wilson". Inslee's reply was less than satisfying.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:16 AM
Put him on in prime time

Seattle's favorite street-corner lunatic / Congressman-for-life "Baghdad Jim" McDermott is quite a hit at the Democratic National Convention.

McDermott's appearance in Michael Moore's blockbuster documentary has made him a star among liberals.

Yesterday, while waiting to speak to the College Democrats, he was recognized by young people from all over the country, asked to pose for photos and received thanks for agreeing to be interviewed by Moore.

The newly increased fame seems only to have intensified the symptoms of McDermott's psychiatric illness, including (a), the hallucinations:
"Everybody in this room who is 17 years old should know that the likelihood of a draft in a second Bush administration is almost a certainty," McDermott said.
and (b), the delusions of grandeur:
In getting [Fahrenheit 9/11] made, distributed and seen by so many, McDermott said, "We really saved the Constitution and the Bill of Rights."
The Democrats should really give this guy the national prime time exposure he deserves.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:52 AM
Lucky is the man who can afford to be a liberal

Today's Seattle Times profiles Internet bubblionaire Rob Glaser, who is by far the state's largest contributor to political (= liberal Democrat) causes.

Glaser declined to be interviewed for this story. But those who know him well say his giving reflects his goals of transforming mass media, improving health in the Third World and changing America's measures of progress and prosperity.
...
He has served on the board that oversees Mother Jones, a left-wing muckraking magazine often as hard on Democrats as Republicans. Four years ago, he gave $2,000 to Ralph Nader's Green Party campaign, twice what he gave to Al Gore. Glaser and Nader are friends, Cantwell said.

At Yale, Glaser's politics were "slightly to the left of Che Guevara,"


Glaser owns over 51 million shares of RealNetworks, with a current market value of about $285 million. That's not bad for a company that makes most of its money by giving away free software. Among Glaser's various homes is an estate in the gated community of The Highlands just north of Seattle with assessed value $2.1 million [it's listed on the tax rolls in his wife's name].

Mr. Glaser is entitled to spend his fortune trying to change the world into a socialist paradise where the unfair accumulation of wealth is impossible. But couldn't he at least wait to change the world until the rest of us have a chance to get our mansions too?

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:32 AM
Girlie Men

More proof that Democrats are "girlie men". NPR reports on John Kerry's performance throwing out the first pitch at yesterday's Red Sox-Yankees game at Fenway Park. After his introduction was "drowned out by a mixture of cheers and boos"

Kerry leaned back, stepped forward and pitched the ball in a slow arc that hit the ground and bounced.
Two little boys who were seated in the front row gave their assessment of Kerry's pitching:
He threw like a girl.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 07:20 AM
July 25, 2004
Take this job and shove it

I interpret this story to mean that First Lady of Ketchup Teresa Heinz Kerry is issuing a cry for help:

"We need to turn back some of the creeping, un-Pennsylvanian and sometimes un-American traits that are coming into some of our politics," the wife of Sen. John Kerry told her fellow Pennsylvanians on Sunday night at a Massachusetts Statehouse reception.

Minutes later, Colin McNickle, the editorial page editor of the conservative Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, questioned her on what she meant by the term "un-American," according to a tape of the encounter recorded by Pittsburgh television station WTAE.

Heinz Kerry said, "I didn't say that" several times to McNickle. She then turned to confer with Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and others. When she faced McNickle again a short time later, he continued to question her, and she replied, "You said something I didn't say. Now shove it."

She's not acting like someone who really wants to be First Lady of the United States.

UPDATE: The Ketchup Queen's "shove it" video is here. I guess Mrs. Ketchup's husband's promise to always talk to people who disagree with him didn't apply to his wife.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:04 PM
Seattle Blognic

Today's Puget Sound blognic was quite the good time. Several of your favorite local bloggers and their families were there, including yours truly, co-hosts Matt "Rosenblog" Rosenberg, Brian "Medved Fans" Crouch, the lovely and talented Ambra Nykol, the soon-to-be-married Timothy "The Flag of the World" Goddard, the eponymous Andy MacDonald, Kevin "Reason and Mechanism" Leo and Ron "Horologium" Timekeeper , Orbus the Orbusmax and Steve "Steevak" Steve (I hope I'm not forgetting anybody).

Many regular blog readers were there too, including some local dignitaries. Among them: Washington State Senator Stephen Johnson, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, who gave us a pep talk about supporting November ballot referendum R-55 (a YES vote will approve the charter school legislation signed into law by the governor but challenged by the teachers' union); Charlie Hoff, one of the state's few elected school board members who supports charter schools; Both Republican candidates for the Attorney General nomination, Mike Vaska and Rob McKenna; Mark Griswold, challenging Speaker Frank Chopp for the State House of Representatives seat in the 43rd district; Public disclosure advocate and Ron Sims' worst nightmare Armen Yousoufian.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 09:36 PM
July 24, 2004
Public Finance for Dummies

The Port of Seattle, a taxpayer-subsidized authority responsible for Seattle's airport and sea port, is contemplating an unrelated venture in the hospitality industry miles away from any port:

The Port of Seattle could pay for nearly half of the proposed expansion of Bellevue's struggling convention center and still make money on the deal in the long run, according to an initial study released yesterday.

But the Port, which is trying to improve its own finances, would probably lose money for at least the first 17 years before seeing any substantial return on its $25 million share, the study shows.

"make money on the deal in the long run"? Wasn't there also a study once that said that in the long run we're all dead? Nevertheless, some of the stewards of the public purse believe in miracles:
The financial projections do little to settle a brewing debate over whether the Port should join Bellevue in paying for Meydenbauer Center's long-anticipated $55 million expansion
What part of "would probably lose money for at least the first 17 years" do these brewing debaters not understand?

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:29 PM
Oh, That Pissy Media

More pissing and whining from the media. This time aimed at the Democrats: "Media Upset With DNC Restroom Facilities"

As the majority of the print reporters arrived Saturday at the FleetCenter for the Democratic National Convention, tongues clucked when they saw the restroom facilities that they will be using for the next week.

Twenty portable restrooms, like those used on construction sites, are lined up in front of the media pavilion to service nearly 1,200 members of the print media who will be working around the clock. That's about 60 serious coffee-drinkers per toilet.

"That's absurd," said Jim Drinkard, a political reporter for USA Today, when he heard of the ratio of toilets per media member. "This is not the type of planning you'd expect out of someone trying to be a good host."

Drinkard, who is also the chairman of the Standing Committee of Correspondents ...

Let me guess, Drinkard's female counterpart has the title "chairwoman of the Sitting Committee of Correspondents".

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 06:46 PM
July 23, 2004
Jeopardy!

My neighbor recently fulfilled his lifelong dream of appearing on Jeopardy!. Unfortunately, he was matched against this guy.

Speaking of Jeopardy!, this is the tenth anniversary of my own appearance as a Jeopardy! contestant. Around the same time I was a party in a civil litigation. I came in second in both contests. The second prize on Jeopardy! was a trip to St. Thomas. The second prize in the litigation was less exciting. It dawned on me that there were certain odd parallels between the two experiences. In case you haven't seen this yet, I give you "Jeopardy! vs. the American Legal System"

All together now: Nah, nah, nah, nah; Nah, nah, nah. Nah, nah, nah, nah, NAH, na-na-na-nah nah...

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:02 PM
What would we do without ...

With a nod to James Taranto --

What would Al Qaeda do without Kean?

Reuters headline: "Al Qaeda Bent on Causing Mass Death in U.S. -- Kean"

What would GOP do without Bush?

AP headline: "Bush: GOP Must Work to Appeal to Blacks"

What would unsafe people do without 9/11 reports?

Seattle Times headline: '"We are not safe," says 9/11 report'

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:52 PM
What liberal bookstores?

I asked my wife to pick me up a copy of Hugh Hewitt's new book this afternoon from the Barnes and Noble near the University of Washington. It's a large and normally well-stocked store, but not a copy of the Hewitt book in sight.

The University of Washington Bookstore ("170,000 titles") doesn't carry Hewitt's book either. But guess whose 1,008 page tome is the featured selection this week/month/year... Silly me, I thought universities were supposed to be about exposing people to a variety of viewpoints.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 05:39 PM
July 22, 2004
Nickels out the wazoo

Now I know how the guy got the name of "Nickels"

Seattle Center continues to lose money and its mounting deficit will reach nearly $9.4 million by the end of the year, according to a report delivered to the City Council yesterday.

The city-owned Center hoped to pull out of a financial tailspin and land in the black this year under a recovery plan drawn up by Mayor Greg Nickels.

$9.4 million is 188 million nickels.

Mayor Nickels is also promoting several other harebrained schemes to spend a lot more nickels on projects that the city government has no business doing.

The Lake Union bio-tech streetcar (10 billion nickels)

The "Families and Education Luau" (2.3 billion nickels)

Expanding Sound Transit (26 billion nickels and counting!)

Why even worry about dimes when you can be Nickeled to death?

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:22 AM
Judith Billings: Champion of Evil

Former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Judith Billings, is running for her old job as the Washington Education Association's puppet

Debra Carnes, a WEA spokeswoman, lauded Billings' efforts to improve public education and noted that the union recently gave her its annual "Friend of Education" award.

"She's certainly been at the forefront of education for a number of years," Carnes said. "She's been a champion for kids, and the state needs that."

Now really, anybody in their right mind knows that the WEA doesn't give a rat's ass about either "kids" or "education". The only thing the WEA cares about is expanding its monopoly on public education spending. Let us translate the WEA statement into English:
Debra Carnes, a WEA spokeswoman, lauded Billings' efforts to improve public education protect the WEA's rapacious monopoly and noted that the union recently gave her its annual "Friend of Education Unaccountable Bureaucracy" award.

"She's certainly been at the forefront of education unrestrained wasteful spending for a number of years," Carnes said. "She's been a champion for kids ignoring children's needs, and the state WEA needs that."

Billings gives an example of her support for sacrificing children's futures in order to make life easier for the incompetent teachers whose jobs the WEA wants to protect:
"Everybody does not need to be a math whiz. Everybody does not need to be a spectacular writer."
Fair enough, not every child can achieve excellence. But Billings' definition of "math whiz" is someone who can pass the WASL. Here is the question #1 from the state's sample for the 10th grade Math WASL
Look at the chart below.
Which planet has the largest mass?
A. Mercury
B. Venus
C. Earth
D. Mars
Planet Mass
Mercury 3.30x10 23 kg
Venus 4.87x1024 kg
Earth 5.97x1024 kg
Mars 6.42x1023 kg
The day your state superintendent of public instruction thinks it takes a "math whiz" to answer this problem is the day you should give up and slit your wrists. But Billings does want to spend more money in order to lower our educational standards out of existence.

UPDATE, Aug. 18: Judith Billings has won the WEA's endorsement.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:46 AM
It's in the P-I

Today's Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports on a non-partisan gubernatorial forum, featuring candidates of at least three parties. The headline and lead:

Sims, Gregoire widely split
Both seeking Democratic nod

By ANGELA GALLOWAY
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER

TACOMA -- Both Democrats are running for governor. But sometimes it seems like they're campaigning for different elections.

To be fair, Republican candidate Dino Rossi couldn't be at the event and was represented by a surrogate. Nevertheless, the article was almost entirely about the Democrats competing for the party's nomination, as if the P-I believes that is the only contest that matters.

The most honest and self-aware quote in the whole story was uttered by Democratic contender Ron Sims:

"You can't grow your economy with stupid, unskilled people," Sims said.
Which is exactly why neither Ron Sims nor Christine Gregoire can be trusted with the keys to the governor's mansion.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:27 AM
Kill that Moronorail

Finally, a P-I headline that I like: "Monorail-killing measure advances". Yes, the Monorail Recall Campaign has qualified to get the initiative on the November ballot, turning in more than twice the number of required signatures.

Needless to say, the various useless Monomaniacs, who without their jobs on the Monorail Agency payroll may well only be able to find work that involves full frontal nudity, are fighting like caged hyenas to suppress the democratic process.

Anne Levinson, the monorail's deputy director, argued that the signatures gathered under the original petition title aren't valid and shouldn't be counted. That's the issue the monorail has taken to the Appeals Court.

Also, the monorail has argued in a separate King County Superior Court lawsuit that the recall initiative was illegal to begin with because it didn't follow a state law that spells out how the monorail could be stopped and disbanded. A hearing on that suit is set for Aug. 13.

"In no way should it be assumed that they have to come anywhere close to getting the number of signatures one would need to put a measure on the ballot," Levinson said.

Get lost already, the people hate you.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:09 AM
I-5 is falling apart

The Seattle Times reports that the region's main traffic artery is falling apart:

The region's main artery since it opened in 1967, I-5 is in crisis: The pavement is rutted and pockmarked from billions of tires, especially studded ones. There's movement between the panel joints. Water collects in the holes, wearing away the concrete and causing cracks. The deterioration poses safety risks for drivers and causes wear and tear to vehicles.
Not that any of this is new to the millions of people who risk their lives to drive on the thing. Possible solutions:

(1) Spend $2 billion to repair the highway upon which hundreds of thousands of vehicles depend every day.

-or-

(2) Spend $7 billion on a new train that would divert hardly any passengers off the highway.

You know which option they've chosen, don't you.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 09:56 AM
July 21, 2004
Judith Billings

Washington's former Superintendent of Public Instruction, Judy Billings, has decided to run to get her old job back.

This appears to be mainly driven by a likely endorsement from the Washington Education Association:

The WEA is one of the groups working to repeal the charter-school legislation that passed last spring. Billings recently said she also opposes charter schools, even though she was co-chairwoman of the 2000 initiative campaign to allow them in the state. She said voters' defeat of that measure was part of what prompted her change of heart.
It's hard to find anything good to say about a cynical politician who betrays children in order to win a teacher union endorsement. But at least she doesn't pretend that standing in the way of educational opportunity is somehow good for the children.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 05:07 PM
And he also had a big blue ox

This story hardly sounds plausible:

Iyad Allawi, the new Prime Minister of Iraq, pulled a pistol and executed as many as six suspected insurgents at a Baghdad police station, just days before Washington handed control of the country to his interim government, according to two people who allege they witnessed the killings.
Allawi has denied the report.

Nevertheless, anti-liberation foreigners are using this rumor to discredit Allawi, while many Iraqis think the urban legend gives their new prime minister street-cred.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 04:52 PM
Mad City Update

A bid to unite Madison, Wisconsin and Rafah, Gaza as "sister-cities" failed to win approval at last night's Madison City Council meeting.

The proposal fell two votes short of the 11 votes required for passage. But it's still a poor reflection on Madison's City Council that a 9-8 majority voted for solidarity with a terrorist city.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:27 AM
Shark Radio

I will be on Republican Radio, a local weekly talk show, this Saturday in the 11am - 11:30 time slot. The topic: "The Political Blog".

Listen on KTTH 770AM in Seattle and on other Northwest stations listed on the show's homepage.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:53 AM
July 20, 2004
E-mail of the Day

A reader e-mails:

After spending (wasting) about ten minutes plowing through various pages on your blog (I got a hit looking for Alice Woldt's campaign page), I conclude:

* you are basically libertarian, but when it comes to Israel/Zionism, nothing else matters;

* your blog is full of ad hominem, guilt by association, confusing cause and effect, appeal to ridicule, personal attack, and numerous other logical fallacies. (see http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/ );

* my drifting away from Judaism makes sense in light of the material spewing from organized religions (there is a fallacy or two here on my part--can you ID 'em?); and

*you have nothing better to do with your time (that's a question?).

Toby Thaler

p.s. Let me know when you've convinced your fellow Republicans to represent the interests of a majority of people (not to say their best interests, because who knows what that is). I mean in office, not campaign blather.

To answer your question, Toby, no, that wasn't a question, but I'll pretend that it was. The only better way to spend my time that I can think would be to read blogs that I think are a waste of time and then e-mail their authors to ask whether they have nothing better to do with their time.

Thanks for your letter and please write again soon.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 01:33 PM
We're at war!

Washington Attorney General / desperate gubernatorial candidate Christine Gregoire has declared war:

"This is war, a war with an individual who says his budget is compassionate," said Gregoire, who had a double mastectomy to beat breast cancer last year.
(The item appeared in a small-town newspaper that apparently can't afford to hire a non-sequitur editor).

Rival gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi, the man upon whom war was declared, prefers to make love not war. In an as yet unposted press release, Rossi sticks a daisy in the barrel of Gregoire's rhetorical machine gun:

“The Attorney General may view her campaign as a ‘war’ against me, but I view my campaign for governor as an opportunity to have new leadership in our state and to get our economy back on track,” said Rossi.

“You don’t get things done in state government by declaring ‘war.’ You get things done by cooperation and with mutual respect – even with people in a different political party. Yes, I have strong beliefs, but I’ve always tried to value everyone’s position and to work with Republicans and Democrats alike. That’s the kind of governor I want to be for the people of Washington.”

Gregoire is entitled to call her failing paleo-liberal campaign a war if she wants to. But if you take a look at her campaign finance reports, you will see that it is a war waged by East Coast feminists against the regular people of Washington State.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:32 PM
July 19, 2004
Kerry advisor under investigation

Sandy Berger, a chief foreign policy adviser to presidential candidate John Kerry, is now the focus of a criminal investigation .

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 06:50 PM
911°F Fever

Newspaper movie critics be damned, regular Americans understand how perfectly silly Michael Moore's movie Fahrenheit 911 really is:

Mary Wilt, 87, tried to get several Republican friends to come with her, but they all turned her down. After seeing it, she called the movie "the dumbest thing I've ever seen."
And then there is this item about Linda Ronstadt's performance at the Aladdin in Las Vegas :
Before singing "Desperado" for an encore Saturday night, the 58-year-old rocker called Moore a "great American patriot" and "someone who is spreading the truth." She also encouraged everybody to see the documentary about President Bush.

Ronstadt's comments drew loud boos and some of the 4,500 people in attendance stormed out of the theater. People also tore down concert posters and tossed cocktails into the air.

Ronstadt was then escorted off the premises. Some will undoubtedly call this a "suppression of dissent", but as the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports, Ronstadt was apparently involved in a dispute with the Aladdin's management and might have simply found a clever way to get revenge:
Linda Ronstadt apparently got what she wanted -- to be 86'd from the Aladdin.

In a bizarre performance notable for its bridge-burning comments, Ronstadt inflamed more than her Aladdin audience on Saturday by taking potshots at Las Vegas and dedicating "Desperado" to "Fahrenheit 9/11" filmmaker Michael Moore.

When her show was over, the Aladdin had her checked out of her room and escorted off the premises.

Many walked out during the show, one concertgoer tossed a cocktail on her poster, others defaced her posters and the box office was "a mob scene" of people seeking refunds, according to an Aladdin spokeswoman.

Poor, poor pitiful Linda.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 02:03 PM
Bienvenue, Juifs

This should help clear up any confusion whether or not France is a bastion of anti-Semitism -- "Chirac Says Sharon Not Welcome in France"

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 01:01 PM
The Seattle Times support for Patty

More "news reporting" in favor of Patty Murray on the front page of today's Seattle Times. There's too much of this going on for there not to be some kind of institutional agenda favoring Murray. I wonder what it is.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:42 PM
Girlie Men

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is being criticized for having called his Democratic opponents in the state legislature "girlie men".

I agree that the phrase "girlie men" is a bit inflammatory. I think a more palatable way to describe the Democrats would be "metrosexual".

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:11 AM
The face of government

I'm sure all the Washingtonians in the audience will be as reassured as I was to discover that

these are the people who are performing the essential work of our state government.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:02 AM
July 18, 2004
Picnicmania!

A couple of upcoming picnics you will want to attend --

Sunday, July 25: Puget Sound Blogosphere Family Potluck Picnic in Seattle's Seward Park. Meet your favorite local bloggers and fellow readers. RSVP required. Details here.

Wednesday, July 28 at 6:30pm. The 43rd District Republicans invite you to meet Washington's next governor, Dino Rossi. In Seattle's Lower Woodland Park, Shelter #2. Hot dogs and beverages are on the house. BYO side dishes.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 03:48 PM
July 17, 2004
Party Time in Palistan


Palestinian partygoers demonstrate against the appointment of Yassir Arafat's nephew as chief of security in Gaza.

Photo credit: Al Jazeera

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:08 PM
In tears over Teresa

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports on Teresa Heinz Kerry's fundraising speech in Seattle yesterday, claiming that the Ketchup Queen left "some at Democratic fund-raiser in tears".

The thought of Teresa adding the title "First Lady of the United States" to her portfolio as First Lady of Ketchup makes me want to cry too.

The P-I reporter was unable to peer through her own tears long enough to see the facts:

With stories from her own life -- as a child living under apartheid in Mozambique ... -- Heinz Kerry wowed many of the folks who paid $50 to attend.
Mozambique never had apartheid, a strictly South African phenomenon. But Mozambique was a Portuguese colony where the Portuguese treated themselves well and the native Africans badly. And Maria Teresa Thierstein Simoes-Ferreira Heinz Kerry was just as much a member of the oppressor privileged elite back then as she is today.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 07:59 PM
Nepotism

My Oxford English Dictionary defines nepotism:

[ad. F. népotisme (1653) or It. nepotismo, f. nepote nephew: see -ism.]
1. The advantages, or opportunities for advancement, pertaining to a pope's nephew. Obs.
2. The practice, on the part of the Popes or other ecclesiastics (and hence of other persons), of showing special favour to nephews or other relatives in conferring offices; unfair preferment of nephews or relatives to other qualified persons.
b. Fondness for one's nephews.
Then there is this.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 01:36 PM
A wall on the wild side

Arafatistan has declared a Hobbesian state of emergency:

The announcement came in the early hours of Saturday, shortly after gunmen freed four French citizens and a Palestinian colleague they had been holding hostage in the southern town of Khan Yunis.

Hours earlier, the Palestinian police chief in Gaza and the director of military coordination in the southern sector of the Strip were abducted in separate incidents.

The UN's solution to the chaos: Make it easier for the hostage takers to start grabbing Jews
The United Nations General Assembly held an emergency session Friday to discuss a draft resolution demanding that Israel comply with last week's International Court of Justice non-binding ruling that the West Bank separation fence is illegal and must be dismantled.
The UN might as well pass a resolution demanding that Israelis remove the front doors from their houses.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 07:00 AM
July 16, 2004
Appalling disregard for the international community

The President is thumbing his nose at the United Nations again.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:26 PM
Ketchup Queen Crimes

Teresa Heinz Kerry is campaigning in Seattle this week. Yesterday she spoke at a cancer research center:

Heinz Kerry, meeting with doctors and patients yesterday at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, sharply criticized the Bush administration for its restrictions on stem-cell research, calling it a "crime" to "deny people who are so sick."
I personally oppose the Bush administration's restrictions on stem-cell research. I think it's stupid policy. But a "crime"? If the First Lady of Ketchup thinks it's a "crime" not to allocate money to specific stem-cell research projects, then by her own definition, she's as much of a "criminal" as anybody else. The Howard Heinz Endowment, of which she is chairman, and which, with its affiliated endowment, has net assets of $1.2 billion and gives away about $70 million a year, gives no money to support stem-cell research. Not a dime. Zilch. No support for the limited but still valuable stem-cell research in this country and no support for the unfettered stem-cell research in foreign countries that don't have the Bush administration's unfortunate restrictions.

Along with its many other worthy grants, The Heinz Endowments recently gave $150,000 for "development of research and education for white-tailed deer management" and $50,000 for "a documentary film on the [Pittsburgh] Convention Center Design and Construction". I like white-tailed deer and documentary films about convention centers as much as anybody, but I wish some reporter would ask the Ketchup Queen why she denied that $200,000 to the "people who are so sick".

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:55 AM
July 15, 2004
It's in the P-I, and then it's not in the P-I

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer was all excited about the Joseph Wilson / Valerie Plame scandal -- until it was discovered that Wilson and Plame were the perpetrators of the scandal and not its victims. Now, the P-I seems to have forgotten about the whole thing.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 01:49 PM
Chaos-free zone

Israel is drawing up contingency plans to head off the

chaos that might follow the death of Yasser Arafat
as opposed to the law and order that reigns in Arafatistan today:
A Muslim "Peeping Tom" who photographed a Palestinian Christian woman in the changing room of a clothes shop sparked a night of rioting near Bethlehem, witnesses said yesterday.

At the height of the riot, hundreds of Muslims and Christians fought each other with metal rods and stones in the streets of the West Bank town of Beit Sahour, adjacent to Bethlehem

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 01:02 PM
Proof of Fools

Joseph Wilson, discredited African uranium investigator/Kerry campaign advisor, was in Seattle last month speaking on the topic Truth & POLITICS IN THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION.. This was Wilson's second such appearance this year for an organization calling itself "Foolproof Performing Arts"

The Joseph Wilson appearance is part of Foolproof's new series American Voices – a provocative new forum for informed opinion, lively discourse and fresh thinking on the crucial national issues of our time.
and
American Voices is a forum for ideas, people and viewpoints that are under-represented or excluded from the national political and media mainstream.
May every author be as excluded from the mainstream media as Wilson was.

The organization doesn't explain why it calls itself "Foolproof", but it does seem to be proof of the existence of fools.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:42 AM
He could start by asking a staffer to answer my e-mail

John Kerry now promises that

as president he will always talk with people who disagree with him
Yesterday I both called and e-mailed the Kerry campaign to seek an explanation of his easily refuted statement that "there are more African Americans in jail than in college".

A good start on his promise to "always talk with people who disagree with him" would be to ask one of his staffers to answer my e-mail.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 09:25 AM
WEA Delenda Est

By way of Eduwonk, we learn that Oregon charter school David Douglas Arthur Academy is having terrific results boosting student achievement:

Last fall, the 20-student 2003-04 kindergarten class, on average, scored in the 35th percentile in reading in the national test; by spring they finished in the 88th percentile. Math scores jumped from the 46th percentile to the 77th percentile during that same period.
Please give me one good reason why I'm wrong to use the word "evil" to describe the people who are working to make this success illegal.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 07:00 AM
July 14, 2004
College Enrollment in Black and White (part 2)

Here's an update to my recent posts inspired by the factually unsupported statements from John Kerry and Jesse Jackson that "there are more African Americans in jail than in college".

This file of U.S. Census data (dated October 2000) has more detail on "college" (all post-secondary) enrollment broken down by age, ethnicity and sex. (Thanks to various comment posters for the link).

First point: Some have attempted to explain the Kerry/Jackson canard by saying that they were actually referring to African American men. This claim is more plausible, but also not fully supported. The October 2000 Census data puts the number of black men in college at 814,000. The nearest U.S. Justice Dept. reports (June 2000 and June 2001 put the number of incarcerated black men as of 791,600 and 803,400 respectively. It's possible that the number of jailed black men has surpassed the number of black men in college in the interim, but this conclusion is not obvious from the available data.

Second point: In another recent post I observed that blacks were proportionally represented in college at higher rates than whites. This is not so cut-and-dried, because it depends on the choice of age range. If you look at what most people think of as the typical undergraduate age group of 18-24, then non-Hispanic whites are indeed better represented than blacks. On the other hand, this age group only counts 62% of all post-secondary students. If you also include the census cohorts of 25-29, 30-34 and 35-44 you get to 93% of all post-secondary students. If you consider the entire 18-44 age range, blacks are in post-secondary education at a slightly higher percentage than non-Hispanic whites.

  % of age group in college % of college pop. in age group
  18-24 18-44 18-24 18-44
Total
35.5%
13.1%
61.7% 92.9%
White
(non-Hispanic)
38.7%
13.3%
63.1% 92.3%
Black
30.3%
13.7%
56.2% 93.7%
Asian/Pacific Islander
56.0%
19.9%
60.9% 95.6%
Hispanic
21.7%
9.1%
63.0% 94.8%

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 05:31 PM
Butler Report

The Associated Press is wildly distorting the conclusions of the newly released Butler Report on British pre-war intelligence.

Not that this should be a surprise.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:34 AM
Poor Baghdad Jim

Seattle Congressman "Baghdad Jim" McDermott is "disappointed" he wasn't invited to the White House for a bill-signing ceremony.

President Bush signed into law yesterday an African trade agreement long championed by Seattle's lawmaker, U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott.
But McDermott was not invited to the White House signing ceremony, a disappointing cap to years of effort.

"It's too bad that kind of thing has to happen," said McDermott's spokesman, Mike DeCesare, who added that his boss was "disappointed."

It's time to play a tune on Taranto's tiny violin. The White House probably wouldn't have snubbed McDermott if he didn't go around talking like a street-corner lunatic:

From Saddam Hussein's Baghdad, Sept. 29, 2002:

"I think the president would mislead the American people" [in order to bring about war with Iraq]
July 1, 2003
The deputies of the Bush Terror Posse -- Donald Rumsfeld, Tom Ridge and John Ashcroft -- are conducting a deliberate campaign to frighten us.
July 3, 2004
There are already rumours circulating that Osama bin Laden is being held somewhere already and it's only that they are trying to decide what day they should bring him out
And if McDermott has a paranoid fear of the President, why should he be disappointed that he wasn't invited to the White House?

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:01 AM
July 13, 2004
Jesse Jackson repeats the canard

Jesse Jackson in today's Chicago Sun-Times column "Poor can't afford GOP's higher ed"

More and more children realize that even if they merit a college education, they may not be able to afford it. That surely contributes to the fact that there are more African Americans in jail than in college
Facts are tricky things, Jesse.

I just e-mailed Jesse Jackson (his address is in the column) to ask him how he would explain the other facts that there are more than twice as many blacks in college than in prison and that the percentage of blacks in college is slightly higher than the corresponding percentage of whites .

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 05:54 PM
A swinging headline

"Same-sex marriage stirs politics of swing states"

I'm sure it's especially stirring to those who swing both ways.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 03:44 PM
College Enrollment Numbers in Black and White

Here's an interesting follow-up to last night's post debunking Kerry's claim that there are more blacks in jail than in college (In fact, there are more than twice as many blacks in college than in jail)

Compared to their proportions in the overall population, blacks are slightly overrepresented in college, while whites are somewhat underrepresented.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau (2000)

Total
Black
White
Population (> age 3yrs)
270,076,176
32,734,511
12.1%
203,756,357
75.4%
College/grad school enrollment
17,483,262
2,224,181
12.7%
12,502,749
71.2%
Of course these numbers don't tell us about the relative success and completion rates of black and white college students, respective amounts of time spent in post-secondary education, or the relative success at leveraging post-secondary education into remunerative employment. But these figures were surprising to me. They do seem to challenge a lot of commonly reported assumptions about race and post-secondary education.

Hat tip: Gene Expression.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 02:17 PM
Suppression of Dissent in Ashcroft's America

The Moronorail Recall campaign has apparently gathered enough signatures to put the initiative on the November ballot. Nevertheless, the Monomaniacs will stop at nothing to quash the dissenters:

The Seattle Monorail Project, along with pro-monorail environmentalists and landowners, is continuing to fight the initiative with two lawsuits.

One suit contends that city-issued permits to build the proposed monorail are land-use decisions that cannot be overturned by an initiative. In the other case, the agency is trying to void the first 9,600 anti-monorail signatures because they were collected before a judge reworded the petitions for greater clarity on June 18.

"Even if they have their signatures, I think there's a lot of hurdles left to overcome between now and getting on the ballot," monorail board member Cindi Laws said.

Totalitarian bastards. I blame Ashcroft.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 07:00 AM
Bad terrorist, no state

U.S.: 2005 deadline for Palestinian state 'increasingly unlikely'

As White House emissaries Steve Hadley and Elliott Abrams prepared to meet senior Israeli officials Tuesday for talks on the disengagement plan, outposts, settlement constuction and West Bank fence, the State Department said it was "increasingly unlikely" that a Palestinian state will be created by 2005.
Or as James Taranto might put it "What would 2005 deadlines do without U.S.?"

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:21 AM
July 12, 2004
Kerry Lied!!!!!!!!!!!

John Kerry:

"We've got more African Americans in jail than we do in college. That's unacceptable," he added.
In fact, it seems that there are more than twice as many African Americans in college than in jail.

U.S. Census Bureau (2000): African Americans in college: 2,224,181

U.S. DoJ Office of Justice Programs: "Prison and Jail Inmates at MidYear 2003" (p.11): "Table 13. Number of inmates in state or federal prisons or local jails" -- Black Americans in jail: 899,200.

Those nearly 900,000 incarcerated African Americans still represent a tragic waste of lives and potential. But fortunately, things are not nearly as gloomy as John Kerry wants to believe they are.

It's possible that Kerry is basing his claims on other data, but it would be interesting to learn what his sources are.

UPDATE: As a commenter notes below, this Kerry howler was already debunked a month ago. But then why is Kerry still making the same claim today? What kind of an echo chamber is his campaign that none of the staff read Kerry's sharpest critics? Not a good sign for those who look to Kerry to improve intelligence capabilities or cure government agencies of their dysfunctional groupthink culture.

FOLLOW-UP: A deeper examination of census data reveals the surprising (for me, at least) observation that blacks are proportionately better represented in college than whites are.

FOLLOW-UP 2: Jesse Jackson is also repeating the canard that "there are more African Americans in jail than in college"

FOLLOW-UP 3: Even the qualified claim that "there are more African American men in jail than in college" doesn't seem to hold water either.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 08:18 PM
pro-Murray / anti-Nethercutt bias at the Seattle Times

More indications that the Seattle Times is biased for Patty Murray and against George Nethercutt.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 05:08 PM
Welcome Gay Conservatives

They say that a conservative is a liberal who's been mugged. Today's Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports on a group of newly minted gay conservatives. "Marchers support man beaten outside gay bar"

Members of Seattle's gay and lesbian community are angry and demand that the men who beat up Micah Painter in a hate crime face justice.

That's the message that was delivered yesterday to about 150 demonstrators who gathered at Westlake Center in support of the 23-year-old who was attacked recently outside a gay bar.

"We are pissed!" rally organizer Michael McAfoose told the crowd. "Folks, I'm so outraged," he said. "We are going to watch this case and make sure that it is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We've got to be vigilant."

It's outrageous that anybody should be assaulted the way that Micah Painter was, whether as an anti-gay hate crime or for any other reason.

Now that more members of Seattle's gay community are speaking of the need for law enforcement to be tough on crime (and presumably also for the need of ordinary citizens to own and carry weapons to defend themselves), I hope we'll see more "tough on crime" gays coming over to the Republican Party.

(And by the way, ending the Democrats' near-monopoly on the gay vote with a larger contingent of gay Republicans is also the surest way to counter the regrettable strength of the Republicans' homophobic factions).

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:47 PM
Libraries for Trivializing 9/11

Today's Seattle Times reports on an organization called "The September Project" which enlists public libraries in an effort to trivialize the 9/11 attacks. Participating libraries will dedicate this September 11 to programs designed to change the subject from the mass murders that took place three years earlier.

In the midst of the war on terrorism, and in the heat of a presidential campaign, The September Project has a simple goal: Start a national conversation about democracy, citizenship and patriotism.
The September Project web site says nothing about the actual events of September 11, 2001. The subtext is clear. The significance of 9/11 is not that 3,000 people were slaughtered or that Islamic extremists declared war on us. The significance is the (fictitious) suppression of civil liberties in Ashcroft's America, and especially the hysteria that libraries are being targeted.
"People are so eager to talk to someone, anyone, to figure out what's going on," said Marsha Iverson of the King County Library System.
Other librarians are planning to use the day to trivialize the Constitution:
"This seems like a wonderful way to use the tragedy to get something positive going," said Jean Pollack, a children's librarian
...
Pollack had been wondering how children perceived the 2001 terrorist attacks, and if she could do anything to ease a discussion into it. Now The September Project has her focused on the task. Perhaps the children could recite the Bill of Rights while juggling?
The Seattle Times report mentions that The September Project's founder is Prof. David Silver of the University of Washington. But for some reason it doesn't mention Silver's anti-military agenda. His faculty home page contains the single word, "peace". Follow the links and you get to his report on the Feb. 15, 2003 protest to keep Saddam in power:
It was one of the most peaceful, pro-America anti-US government foreign policy protests possible. It was 80-100,000 people marching, drumming, pouring through the streets of downtown Seattle, Washington. There were thousands of red, white and blue signs reading "No War in Iraq," Impeach Bush," "Say 'No' to Hoily War," and "Drop Bush, Not Bombs."
I hope somebody tells Prof. Silver and the librarians who participate in The September Project that the now liberated libraries in Iraq will finally have the same freedoms that the libraries here can only pretend are being taken away.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:17 PM
Desperately fleeing Canada

Today's Seattle Times reports that "North border crossings born of desperation"

Into the predawn blackness sailed a Pakistani man, his pregnant wife and their 1- and 3-year-old children, another Pakistani, three adults from India and the Canadian man allegedly hired to deliver them to the United States, a half-mile across the [Niagra] river.
The article doesn't say why these people were so desperate to get out of Canada, but whatever it was must have been pretty bad. I blame universal health care.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:31 AM
July 10, 2004
A Bloggy Picnic

Regular readers of the Shark Blog are cordially invited to the Puget Sound Blogosphere Family Potluck Picnic that I'm organizing with other area bloggers. Come meet and mingle with local bloggers, blog readers and our families. Kids are welcome. Rumor has it that some blog-aware political and media celebrities will be joining us.

WHERE: Seward Park in Seattle
WHEN: Sunday, July 25 from noon - whenever
WHAT'S PROVIDED: We'll provide communal barbecue and supplies. Donations requested to help cover shared expenses.
WHAT TO BRING: BYO beverages (alcohol prohibited in city parks) and a side dish to share.

RSVP required. Please RSVP to me by e-mail at your earliest convenience:

I hope to see you there!

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 05:24 PM
911°F Fever

Paul Krugman's latest complaint about the liberation of Iraq is that:

... many jobs at the C.P.A. went to people whose qualifications seemed to lie mainly in their personal and political connections — people like Simone Ledeen, whose father, Michael Ledeen [is] a prominent neoconservative ...
Simone Ledeen takes Krugman apart. Among her observations is that:
The kind of political "reward" Krugman describes doesn't put you in a flak jacket and a Kevlar helmet and expose you to roadside bombs or rocket attacks. Nor can I imagine any parent celebrating the arrival of his child in a war zone.
Silly me, I thought the complaint of the Krugman/Moore set was that
Mr. Bush's policies favor a narrow elite at the expense of less fortunate Americans — sometimes, indeed, at the cost of their lives.
Not enough war supporters are sending their own children to Iraq at the same time that too many are!

Yeah, whatever.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:45 AM
July 09, 2004
You are not alone

Andy MacDonald links to this recent editorial about Seattle's anti-Republican political monoculture. Andy adds:

How did Seattle get this way? It's a matter of feedback: Seattle today is welcoming to Democrats, so more move here and the city becomes even more welcoming. Meanwhile Republican ideas get less credence and now Republicans tend not to settle here.

But this can be reversed and balance restored. If the Republican party wants to keep from becoming extinct in the city, it needs a higher profile -- not just on national issues, but on local ones. People who want lower taxes, more parental control in schools, and cooperation with national authorities on anti-terrorism measures must know they have compatriots in Seattle, that if they settle in Seattle they will have an organization to work on their concerns. Local Republican organizations should band together to advertise their existence so no one thinks the term "Seattle Republican" is an oxymoron.

There's a lot of work to do, but Seattle Republicans are on the way back. We even have a logo:

A good place to meet other Seattle Republicans is the picnic with Dino Rossi, Wednesday, July 28th at 6:30pm

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 05:40 PM
They're not peace activists ...

... they're on the other side.

Hat tip: Brian Crouch

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 05:13 PM
The new New Republic is not the old New Republic

I was an avid fan of The New Republic back in the 1980s when its masthead included Charles Krauthammer, Fred Barnes, Morton Kondracke, Michael Lewis, Michael Kinsley, Andrew Sullivan and Mickey Kaus. Today's TNR is waxing indignant and accusing the Bush administration of cooking up a "July surprise "

This spring, the administration significantly increased its pressure on Pakistan to kill or capture Osama bin Laden, his deputy, Ayman Al Zawahiri, or the Taliban's Mullah Mohammed Omar, all of whom are believed to be hiding in the lawless tribal areas of Pakistan. A succession of high-level American officials ... have visited Pakistan in recent months to urge General Pervez Musharraf's government to do more in the war on terrorism
Question #1: Would TNR prefer that the administration applied less pressure on Pakistan to help capture Al Qaeda leaders and/or didn't care if the Pakistanis did less in the war on terrorism?
This public pressure would be appropriate, even laudable, had it not been accompanied by an unseemly private insistence that the Pakistanis deliver these high-value targets (HVTs) before Americans go to the polls in November.
Question #2: Would TNR prefer that the Al Qaeda leaders be captured after the election, in light of warnings that Al Qaeda is planning attacks on the United States before the election?
Another official, this one from the Pakistani Interior Ministry, which is responsible for internal security, explains, "The Musharraf government has a history of rescuing the Bush administration. They now want Musharraf to bail them out when they are facing hard times in the coming elections." (These sources insisted on remaining anonymous. Under Pakistan's Official Secrets Act, an official leaking information to the press can be imprisoned for up to ten years.)
Question #3: Has TNR considered that these anonymous sources might have a domestic political agenda to embarrass Musharraf that that would motivate them to, say, tell lies to credulous reporters?
according to this ISI official, a White House aide told ul-Haq last spring that "it would be best if the arrest or killing of [any] HVT were announced on twenty-six, twenty-seven, or twenty-eight July"--the first three days of the Democratic National Convention in Boston.
Question #4: Why would the best time to announce a success against Al Qaeda be more than three months before the election and not, say, right before the election?
the Pakistanis fear that, if they don't produce an HVT, they won't get the planes. Equally, they fear that, if they don't deliver, either Bush or a prospective Kerry administration would turn its attention to the apparent role of Pakistan's security establishment in facilitating Khan's illicit proliferation network. One Pakistani general recently in Washington confided in a journalist, "If we don't find these guys by the election, they are going to stick this whole nuclear mess up our asshole."
Now that's a heck of a suppository!

Question #5: The theory is that capturing the senior Al Qaeda leaders would help Bush win re-election. So if the Pakistanis fail to capture the senior Al Qaeda leaders before the election, the Bush administration will be out of office and unable to stick even non-nuclear items up the Pakistani fundament. And why would the incoming Kerry people be inclined to punish the Pakistanis if, like TNR, they don't want Osama captured before the election anyway? The only situation the Pakistanis would have to worry about is if they fail to capture Osama, but Bush is re-elected anyway. But if that happens, why wouldn't the Bush White House just count their blessings and pressure the Pakis to keep Osama in his cave and pull him out just in time for the 2006 midterm elections?

Martin Peretz, call your office.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 04:34 PM
Inexplicable Tax Bloat

The Seattle City Council yesterday voted to raise the "Families and Education Levy" ballot proposal from the $69 million that was approved in 1997 to $116 million. The levy funds, if approved, would go to a variety of social service programs that serve public school students and their families; These include after-school programs, school health services and counseling for at-risk students. I'm sure that some of these programs are worthy of community support. I give of my own time and money to a local after-school program and in much greater amounts than this levy would add to my property taxes.

But when the government asks for a tax increase I expect both the revenues and expenditures to be well justified, and I've yet to see a very good explanation for the significant increase in the levy amount. The levy is needed, the City explains,

because a significant number of students, mostly children of color and children from low-income families, are not performing at grade level and are dropping out of school.
and
The levy focuses on children and youth who need the most academic help. Many immigrant and refugee children and youth are not doing well in school, in part because they don’t speak English
It's undeniable that many students are doing poorly in school, and School District resources have to be directed to address this. But we should be wary of the sweeping generalizations in the way the problem is framed. The theory that academic success is determined by parental income, skin color and native language (and not, say, by specific behaviors and attitudes that are independent of language, ethnicity and economics ) is a fine liberal mantra, but one that has a large number of counter-examples. Seattle School District statistics show, for example, that Vietnamese students have the highest rates of Limited-English status, and nearly the highest rates of poverty in the district, yet also graduate high school at higher rates and with better grades than white students.

But even taking the levy promoters' claims that the main focus of the levy should be on low-income, non-white and limited-English students, it's still hard to justify the massive growth in the levy. Even adjusted for inflation, the proposed increase is still a whopping 43%. During the same period, however, enrollment in Seattle public schools has declined by 1.5%. And the groups of students labelled "high risk": low-income, non-white and limited-English are all shrinking faster than overall enrollment. Here is a table I derived from Seattle School District "Data Profiles". You probably won't find anything like it from the City or in the major newspapers.

  1997 present Change
Levy amount
$69 million
$116 million
+68%
Consumer Price Index (Seattle)
165.0
194.3
+17.8%
Levy amount adjusted for inflation
$69 million
$98.5 million
+42.8%
Enrollment in Seattle Public Schools
47,457
46,730
-1.5%
Number of Students eligible
for Free/Reduced Lunch
20,009
18,323
-8.4%
Number of Limited English Students
6,203
6,010
-3.1%
Number of "Students of Color"
28,186
27,230
-2.0%
So why do need a massive increase to support a shrinking clientele? I haven't seen a good answer to that one yet.

It's not like we have any proof that all the money we've already been spending actually does any good. The new levy proposal promises that success of every recipient program must be measured, but this doesn't seem to have been the case for earlier levy grants. It's good that we recognize the need for accountability and measurement, but why increase funding before we have any performance measures?

The people who want me to vote for this levy have a lot more questions to answer and explanations to offer before they earn my vote.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:10 PM
The Moronorail is doomed

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Joel Connelly reports on a recent public opinion poll of Seattle residents. The Moronorail is doomed

despite its recent advertising blitz. A total of 43 percent view the project favorably: 50 percent reacted somewhat or strongly unfavorably to it.

If a recall election were held, 48 percent would vote to terminate the Seattle Monorail Project, 44 percent to keep it.

Good riddance.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:07 PM
911°F Fever

Washington's First Couple, Gov. Gary and Mona Locke, invite you to the state premiere of The Hunting of the President . An e-mail from the local chapter of NARAL ("Fight Bush's War on Women") quotes Gov. Locke as saying The Hunting of President

is a great companion film to Fahrenheit 9/11
I don't have a link containing this quote, but the Washington State Democratic Party home page also promotes both movies.

I understand why NARAL, the Lockes and the State Democratic Party oppose Bush's policies on abortion and I share some of their concerns. But if they think that the war the President is waging is on "Women", then they must also think that the women in Iraq and Afghanistan would have been better off if the President had listened to Michael Moore and left the Taliban and the Hussein Brothers in office.

I'm sure they have an explanation for this and I'll bet it's a good one.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:21 AM
July 08, 2004
The pro-Evil Candidate

Washington's former Superintendent of Public Instruction, Judith Billings, is threatening to campaign to get her old job back with the apparent support of the Washington Education Association:

It's no secret, said political consultant Cathy Allen, that both the WEA and Billings have been looking for candidates to challenge [incumbent Superintendent Terry] Bergeson, as have some members of the state Parent Teacher Association.

The WEA did not endorse Bergeson this year, citing concerns about her support for a charter-schools bill that passed this spring and about the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL).

Billings, however, recently won the WEA's "Friend of Education Award."

When the WEA says the worst thing you can do is to support parental choice and accountability then the E in WEA doesn't stand for "Education", it stands for "Evil". Rewrite that last quote to read:
Billings, however, recently won the WEA's "Friend of Evil Award."

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:32 AM
How to start a charter school

Joanne Jacobs has a terrific article in the Christian Science Monitor about the founding principal of a new KIPP charter school in San Jose:

[Sehba] Zhumkhawala, at 28, is idealistic, ambitious, and eager to shake up the system. Before she can run her new school, however, she has had to create it from scratch - sell the community on the idea, raise money to supplement state funding, find a site, hire teachers, and, now, hardest of all, persuade parents to trust her with their children.
Imagine the improvements we'd see if principals and teachers in existing public schools also had to treat the parents like customers.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:10 AM
Moronorail to break another campaign promise

The Seattle Moronorail Project is about to break yet another of its campaign promises, today's Seattle Times reports. During the 2002 campaign its promoters were saying:

It will be up and running quickly, with its first phase operational by 2007
To this day, the Moronorail agency's official project schedule says:
• FIRST SEGMENT OPENS DECEMBER 15, 2007
But as today's Times reports
The Seattle Monorail Project is considering whether to ditch its goal of opening a portion of the 14-mile Green Line by the end of 2007.
...
Trouble is, a two-phase project requires multiple rounds of train testing — one for the first segment and another for the entire line — at a cost of millions of dollars. It also could complicate the work flow for crews installing the columns and tracks.
One can only wonder what other campaign promises the Moronorail will have to break in order to deliver anything at all and what the final result would look like and cost.

I also wonder how the Moronorail agency plans to defend itself from the flood of breach of contract suits:

Shortly after voters approved the Green Line, linking Ballard and West Seattle to downtown, the agency handed out refrigerator magnets for residents to use as free-ride tickets on Dec. 15, 2007.
UPDATE: And what's going to happen to the advocacy group (of unknown funding) Monorail NOW, whose slogan is "Building Momentum for 2007"? Will it have to be renamed "Monorail Eventually -- Building Momentum for 2056"?

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 09:48 AM
July 07, 2004
The definition of chutzpah

The people of Iraq have been disenfranchised by the community of nations:

Although it formally regained political power this week, Iraq cannot yet resume voting at the United Nations because it has fallen far behind in its U.N. dues payments, the General Assembly said Thursday.

Baghdad must pay at least $14.6 million to regain its vote, the 191-nation U.N. assembly said in a report to Secretary General Kofi Annan. Under U.N. rules, member states lose their vote if their dues go unpaid for two or more years.

Could the U.N. not take the $14.6 million as an advance on the $10 billion that the U.N. should repay Iraq from the Oil-For-Palaces scandal?

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 05:25 PM
Christine Gregoire Meltdown

Washington gubernatorial candidate / Attorney General Christine Gregoire finally settled the lawsuit over her office's botched appeal and subsequent scapegoating of an innocent employee. The story was buried by announcing the settlement on the Friday before the Fourth of July. Another several hundred thousand of your and my tax dollars went flying out of the state treasury because of Gregoire's mismanagement.

"I consider this a compassionate and reasonable settlement to a very unfortunate mistake," the attorney general said.
A more compassionate and reasonable settlement would be for this incompetent gasbag to drop out of the governor's race and spare us from having to listen to her any more.

Even the P-I says that Gregoire is full of it:

Attorney General Christine Gregoire called it a "good deal" for the taxpayers ... Capps' attorney calculates the tab at $350,000 upfront and a total of $1.5 million over the remainder of Capps' career. We still don't know who was responsible for the mistakes made on the original case.

So the "good deal" for taxpayers was what -- that the state didn't spend another $500,000 at trial, lose and have to pay out the $3 million in damages Capps asked?

Whoopee.

Gregoire is finished.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:08 PM
Moronorail gets a yellow light

The Seattle City Council yesterday approved an important agreement with the Moronorail agency, adding a number of safeguards to protect the people in the likely event that the Moronorail continues to spiral totally out of control:

The deal protects the city by requiring a $54 million removal bond to dismantle columns and tracks in the event the line can't be completed.

It also requires an independent financial review and another City Council vote to affirm the monorail project can raise enough cash to finish the $1.75 billion line.

The Moronorail still has no enforceable mechanism for collecting its revenues, so the latter could be a bit of a stretch.
Councilman Richard Conlin, a skeptic, called yesterday's vote not a green light but a "flashing yellow," because the monorail's future depends on how the financial review turns out.
You know it will turn out as well as they want it to turn out.

Meanwhile, some people say it's not enough for Seattle to have two unnecessary and overpriced public transportation boondoggles, they now want to build a third!

A proposed South Lake Union streetcar is starting to look like the Love Train, thanks to a public-relations campaign that's roped in support from a Native American group, an African-American group, an Australian-themed restaurant and many more companies and organizations.

Armed with a new study that details ridership and cost projections, boosters are gearing up to get the Seattle City Council on board the streetcar project and overcome concerns that the city has more important priorities, such as a $500 million maintenance backlog for streets, sidewalks and bridges.

Oy.


Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:14 AM
Kerry's "flatulently vapid" rallying cry

Andrew Sullivan fisks John Kerry's speech introducing John Edwards as his running mate. Sullivan concludes:

We're going out of here to fight for a mighty dream that will let America be America. If you know of any rallying cry more flatulently vapid, please don't let me know.
Read the whole thing. My favorite line in the speech:
this is about having a president who fights as hard for your job as he fights for his own job.
Sounds good to me! I guess that means that every other day between now and the election Sen. Kerry will take a break from campaigning and spend the day making sales calls to find me some more customers. What a guy. He gets my vote for sure.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:12 AM
A dispatch from the Heart of Darkness

The Education Intelligence Agency reports from the NEA annual convention. Wicked stuff (both the NEA itself and EIA's droll reportage)

Item:

A dose of the patrician liberal Kerry may not be enough to stir the blood of the real fire-eaters in the crowd. For them, there is a special screening of Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11” immediately after Kerry’s speech, with the proceeds of the $20 tickets going to NEA’s political action committee.
Item:
The delegates were then welcomed to Washington by U.S. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton. The mayor of the host city usually performs this chore, but since DC Mayor Anthony Williams supports school vouchers, he was nowhere to be found.
Item:
Delegates passed NBI 12, which requires NEA opposition to the passing of “barrier tests” for grade promotion or high school graduation.
Item:
* Delegates refused to consider NBI 20, which would have required NEA to “take a position of ‘no position’ on issues pertaining to abortion.” This action was inevitable, if illogical, since NEA already claims it takes no position on abortion.
Item:
NEA President Reg Weaver’s keynote address was noticeably less angry, and contained many of the same elements of last year’s address. Most of his remarks concerned NEA’s opposition to the No Child Left Behind Act. Weaver talked about NEA’s attempts to work with the Bush administration. “We have had meetings with members of the President’s staff, and with the Secretary of Education, and despite our best efforts there seems to be a continued lack of acceptance of the professionalism and the expertise that this organization brings to the table,” he said.
Imagine that.

Read the whole thing and then send me your suggestions as to what we might to do liberate our public schools from the NEA.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 07:00 AM
July 06, 2004
Nicolas Hanauer Scandal

Last month I mentioned the gathering scandal involving Nicolas Hanauer, the mega-millionaire investor who has paid $185,000 to get Washington state initiative I-884 on the November ballot (44% of the campaign's warchest). I-884 seeks a billion dollar a year increase in the state sales tax to fund public education, while Hanauer is a director and investor in a company called TeachFirst that would be a direct beneficiary of I-884's statutory spending. It is not necessarily a scandal that a businessperson with a financial interest in a ballot initiative would pay to get the initiative on the ballot. The scandal is that the state's media has not reported on Hanauer's financial stake in I-884, even though (a) the newsrooms are aware of Hanauer's financial stake in the initiative and (b) they are otherwise scrupulous about reporting on the financial interests of initiative campaign backers. Perhaps this scandalous lapse in reporting is attributable to the fact that the major newspapers have all but endorsed I-884 (see the Seattle P-I and the Seattle Times)

But this is not the first time Nick Hanauer has been at the center of a campaign finance scandal. Two years ago Hanauer was the largest individual donor to the Seattle Monorail campaign. But it's been years since Hanauer even lived in Seattle. At the time of the November 2002 Monorail vote until the present, he has lived in a gated community called The Highlands in the northern Seattle suburb of Shoreline. According to public filings, Hanauer and his wife contributed $18,000 to the Monorail campaign. After the election, the newly formed Monorail agency appointed campaign contributor Hanauer to its board. His board membership was challenged when it was discovered he didn't live in Seattle and was therefore ineligible to serve on the board. He then changed his voting address to a Seattle condo owned by his brother, but ended up resigning the Monorail board anyway in light of the controversy.

The above is all published news from more than a year ago. But I've also discovered some additional unreported details that raise some serious questions about Hanauer's ethics and integrity.

First, official campaign filings from the 2002 Monorail campaign give Hanauer's address as The Highlands, Seattle, even though his home is very clearly in Shoreline. This misstatement was made in multiple filings to both the state Public Disclosure Commission (here and here) and to the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission here. Why would he misstate his own city unless he wanted to mislead people into thinking that he lived in Seattle? Was the Monorail board seat which required a Seattle residence a pre-planned quid pro quo?

Second, although he might have changed his voter registration to a Seattle condo at some point last year, the latest county voter file shows that he and his wife are currently registered at ... The Highlands, Shoreline. Now it was awfully generous of the Hanauers to donate all that money in order to impose a multi-billion dollar tax hike on the good people of Seattle. But if their official residence is Shoreline, they don't have to pay the Monorail tax, and I'd be surprised if they would go to the trouble of bypassing the vehicle registration rules just to pay a tax they're not required to pay. If they think the Monorail tax is such a good idea, why don't they register to vote and register their cars in Seattle so they can pay the tax along with the poor shnooks who never wanted the tax in the first place?

And I hope the newspapers start to pay more attention to Nicolas Hanauer and his role in the campaigns he so generously funds.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:07 PM
Axis of Evil

The National Education Association has endorsed John Kerry. No surprise, the NEA has only ever endorsed Democrat presidential candidates.

Speaking of the NEA, which, by the way, is not a terrorist organization, the Evergreen Freedom Foundation today released its devastating exposé of the union, titled "Barrier to Learning": How the National Education Association prevents students and teachers from achieving academic and professional excellence. From the introduction:

We are late to the war, we defenders of “public” education. It is a war declared by education unions almost four decades ago when their leaders decided they wanted complete control of the system from top to bottom, and they wanted state and federal laws to protect them in this pursuit. The money used by union leaders to wage this war was taken from the paychecks of unwilling teachers who have been treated as little more than cash cows.

Union leaders got the monopoly they were seeking. As a nation, we got an education system that is now sliding into mediocrity and worse. It suffocates our best teachers and rides roughshod over top-notch principals, all the while generously compensating its own bureaucracy. We got a system that, in the true fashion of monopolies, costs too much and ignores the needs of its customers.
...
What will it take for us to institute true public schools, where parents and students are once again thought of as customers; where the best and brightest can satisfy their calling as a classroom teacher; where American students are prepared once again to guide their country as leaders of the free world?

It will require moving the National Education Association and its state affiliates back to the place they belong. That place is not in the driver’s seat.

Our country’s future depends on the American combination of intellectual rigor, creativity and our unique free enterprise system. This requires excellence, not mediocrity. For example, new data released from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology show that a big majority of American students are only partially proficient or below proficient in math and science. Before 2010, it is projected we will trail developed nations, competing for roficiency with emerging thirdworld countries. Our country’s standard of living and our ability to remain a free nation will be severely compromised.

The NEA might as well be a terrorist organization for all the lives it destroys. Read the whole thing. And if you want to help support the NEA then, by all means, vote for John Kerry.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:18 AM
Adding another John

John Kerry has taken the advice of anti-NAFTA anti-Semites and Ralph Nader and picked John Edwards to be his running mate. This match wasn't exactly made in heaven.

Several Kerry advisers say the Massachusetts senator is skeptical about Edwards's strength as a running mate, saying he appears to lack the clout with Southern voters that he often brags about being able to deliver. Edwards's inability to win more than a single primary state thus far may give him the aura of a loser in the general election, these Kerry aides said. And Kerry himself recently noted with a touch of derision that, according to opinion polls, President Bush would defeat Edwards in his own home state of North Carolina.

Kerry is also said to be unconvinced that Edwards is experienced enough to step in as a wartime president should something happen to him. National security credentials are the most important assets that the Democratic presidential front-runner would use to choose a running mate, these aides said.

Edwards, meanwhile, has dismissed talk that he would accept anything other than the Democratic nomination and has said he would not want Kerry to consider him for a running mate.

It looks like I'll have to add John Edwards to my page of lying liars.

At least the Democrat campaign bus now has another John.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 05:35 AM
July 05, 2004
The M-word

A refreshing op-ed in Sunday's Seattle Post Intelligencer -- "The M Word: Cultivating a culture where math comes alive for children":

Want to know why fewer than 20 percent of fourth-grade students in Seattle's Central District elementary schools pass the math section of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning in any given year?

As a black man who grew up in the Central District, graduated from Garfield High School and now teaches math in the Seattle and Lake Washington school districts, I do not offer race or money as explanations for the failure. Nor do I fault Washington state's standardized test. No, these kids and others in environments like theirs fail because they have virtually no exposure to math outside of the limited time they spend learning it in the classroom. What these students need -- and what students in other parts of the region get -- is a math culture at school supported by parents.

Read the whole thing,. The writer, Norman Alston, started the organization Explorations in Math to help elementary students succeed in math. The program encourages schools and parents to supplement the school math curriculum with math-intensive games and other activities to get young children to use more math outside the classroom.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 08:21 AM
July 03, 2004
Human Rights in Palestine

The Palestinian version of "due process":

Mohammed Rafiq Abdel Razek, 42, was gunned down in a public square in the West Bank village of Qabatiya by militants from the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a violent group loosely affiliated with Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement.

Militants had hustled Abel Razek into its main square before several hundred townsfolk and asked him: "Are you a collaborator with the Israeli intelligence?" He said: "Yes."

He was also asked if he had sexually molested his two daughters, now 13 and 16, as reported by relatives who said they had disowned him. Abel Razek answered, "Yes."

A gunman turned to the crowd pressing around and asked: "What should his sentence be?"

"Execution!" roared the throng. "Kill him, kill him!" they chanted.

Witnessed by a Reuters news team, the militants pushed the cowering Abel Razek to the ground, riddled him with automatic fire, got into a car and sped off.

The all-male crowd lingered over the body until an ambulance arrived to remove it.

Some spectators looked dazed but many expressed satisfaction, saying, "He deserved it."

Jamal Abu al Rob, a local Al Aqsa leader, said Abdel Razek had been abducted by the group from a nearby hospital, where he was being treated for injuries when a relative stabbed him over the alleged abuse.

"I feel honor for me and my people," al Rob said.

This is not an isolated incident. But Human Rights Watch is mysteriously silent about the Palestinian "criminal justice system". Meanwhile, Amnesty International's #1 priority for the human rights in the Middle East is that Saddam Hussein's trial must be fair.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 09:42 PM
Immigrants Then and Now

Irving Berlin, immigrated from Russia, 1893:

God Bless America.
Land that I love
Stand beside her, and guide her
Thru the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies ,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America
My home sweet home.
Reuf Kazic, immigrated from Bosnia, 1998. Profiled in today's Seattle Times:
"I can't say I like everything about America all the time, but I like far more than I hate."

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 04:19 PM
July 02, 2004
Institutional Racism

Bill Cosby yesterday:

Cosby elaborated Thursday on his previous comments in a talk interrupted several times by applause. He castigated some blacks, saying they cannot simply blame whites for problems such as teen pregnancy and high school dropout rates.

"For me there is a time . . . when we have to turn the mirror around,'' he said. "Because for me it is almost analgesic to talk about what the white man is doing against us. And it keeps a person frozen in their seat; it keeps you frozen in your hole you're sitting in.''

The Seattle School Board, on the other hand, is happy to keep handing out the analgesic of "institutional racism", which its members promise to eradicate even though they have yet to provide the public with a coherent definition or persuasive examples of institutional racism in the Seattle schools. (As at least one commenter in the latter link suggests, that's not to say that racism does not exist in the Seattle Schools, only that the School Board is seriously misguided about it).

Fortunately, the School Board also believes in transparency. As Director Sally Soriano says in today's Seattle Times regarding a different School District scandal

"The new board, the four of us, ran on the issue of transparency," Soriano said.
That is good news. Even though none of the Board Members adequately reponded to my requests for documentation about their plans to eradicate institutional racism, no doubt they will respond to the formal request I just made under the Public Disclosure Act for comprehensive information about the "anti-racism training" the Board and senior staff received from The People's Institute for Survival and Beyond.

Stay tuned.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 02:09 PM
Fahrenheit 9/11

I went to see Fahrenheit 9/11 yesterday. I wasn't expecting to like it, having read unfavorable reviews from Christopher Hitchens, Jeff Jarvis and others, and having seen Bowling for Columbine. I wasn't thrilled about paying to see a movie I wasn't expecting to like, but I wanted to see it for myself because it's such a big topic of discussion these days. The most interesting thing about the experience was that my own reaction to the movie was different from the reaction I expected to have.

I was expecting the movie to make me angry, but the main emotion it produced was not anger but pity and sadness.

The movie was too poorly executed to make me angry. It was aimless and incoherent, a sequence of disjoint images devoid of logic, factual integrity or a narrative story line. The only unifying theme was hatred of the Bush family. Every moment in the film seemed intended only to be some kind of criticism of the President, his family and his administration. Even when the context of a scene wasn't clear, I could tell it was trying to cue the audience to react by blaming and hating the President.

I saw the film in Seattle's University District in the heart of "Baghdad Jim" McDermott country. Yes, when Baghdad Jim appeared on screen most of the audience applauded, even as he made his nutty bug-eyed facial-ticked paranoic insinuations of sinister Bush/Ashcroft conspiracies.

There was a scene about silly airport security measures where the passenger was told he could carry four, but not five, books of matches onto the airplane. The hippie-dippie marijuana-smoking audience giggled about how dumb this limitation was. But the joke was on them, the point of the scene, we learn a moment later, was not that four books of matches is a dumb limit, but that four books of matches is a dangerous hole in security that was created for the benefit of the tobacco industry. The point here is that the movie has no point.

But I couldn't get angry at any of this, because so much of the movie was similarly perfect nonsense. [Read the reviews mentioned above (Hitchens and Jarvis) for more detailed critique of the film's content. And be sure to check out the Fahrenheit Fact blog, which also fisks the film.] I only felt sorry for all of the people who are so emotionally invested in the movie and especially for all the otherwise serious Democrats who are pinning their hopes on the film as a substitute for legitimate political debate. The movie's popularity and the traction it's having with major league Democrats can only be seen as a symptom of the vacuum at the core of today's Democratic Party.

The Democrats have formulated no coherent and serious alternative to the administration in the war against miltiant Islam. The only message that Kerry and the Democrats have been able to articulate is one of Bush-bashing and little else. And that's too bad. Our system works best when there's a vital opposition that offers a substantive alternative and raises the bar for the party in power. Kerry and the Democrats aren't delivering that, which is why the vacuum is being filled with the silliness of Al Gore and the dishonest and incoherent hatred of Fahrenheit 9/11.

Fahrenheit 9/11 is a signal that the Democrats will lose the election and that they know they will lose. As a Republican, I'm happy to feel more confident that my side will win this election. But unless and until the Democrats regain their collective senses and start to function like a useful opposition party, the whole country loses, including those of us who lean Republican.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 01:35 PM
July 01, 2004
Meet Washington's next Governor

Washington's next Governor will be Dino Rossi. Come meet Dino on Wednesday, July 28 at 6:30pm when the 43rd District Republicans host a picnic dinner for him at Lower Woodland Park, Shelter #2 in Seattle. Hot dogs and beverages will be served.

Today's article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer helps explain why Dino Rossi will be Washington's next Governor. The leading Democratic contender is Attorney General Christine Gregoire, whose campaign seems to be in a perpetual state of meltdown. Today's P-I:

Gregoire, who enjoys the implicit backing of [retiring Governor Gary Locke], joined him in his conference room at the Capitol to jointly announce "measurable improvements in the way state government manages liability risk."
Nonsense. As a result of Gregoire's mismanagement, the state's liability profile has ballooned.

The unserious Democratic contender in the race is Ron Sims, who wants to tax your ass off. He's already declared his intention to violate the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment.

Dino Rossi, on the other hand, is on the side of ordinary people against the uncontrollable bureaucracies as personified by Ron Sims and Christine Gregoire:

Rossi said state government is larded with overreaching and oppressive regulations and paperwork requirements that dampen the state economy, particularly small businesses that can't afford armies of compliance officers... Rossi said if he's elected, he will create the Gov.'s Office of Regulatory Reform. The cabinet-level office would scrutinize regulations from every agency, looking for any that curb economic growth, contradict or duplicate each other, or are "just plain unnecessary," he said.
Naturally, any questioning of unncessary and uncontrollable bureaucrats throws the Democrats into uncontrollable spasms.
"This is scary stuff from Dino Rossi," said state Democratic Chairman Paul Berendt.
Rossi's team gets the last word.
Rossi's spokeswoman, Mary Lane, replied, "Oh, please. More nonsense from status-quo Democrats who apparently think it's OK to have a terrible business climate and one of the worst unemployment rates in the nation. To the Democrats, anyone who's involved in business is evil."
With opponents like Gregoire and Sims, a sensible plan for regulatory reform, and spokeswoman Mary Lane, Dino is unbeatable.

Come meet future Governor Dino Rossi, Wednesday, July 28th, 6:30pm, Lower Woodland Park, Shelter #2.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:27 AM
Letters that were never printed, and some that were

The Seattle Times has made a few regrettable choices lately as to which letters to the editor get printed and which don't.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:07 AM