Saturday, April 30, 2005

The United Nations is a Mess - Zimbabwe

The UN is a mess. It provides a place for dictators to strut and send their children so they can play in a world-class city while having diplomatic immunity. But it does not do what it is intended to do - to provide a place for countries to come together to solve problems that affect everyone. So should we send Barbara Boxer to New York City to be nice to everyone? Or should we send someone who will ask questions and push to clean it up? Like John Bolton. Look at what is happening right now -
  • Zimbabwe was elected to the UN Human Rights Commission. Elected. This is happening now - April, 2005. More about Zimbabwe below.
  • The UN supervised the Iraq Oil-for-Food program and turned it into a massive illegal kick-back scheme for Russia and France. And huge illegal kick backs to the UN's favored people - Kofi Annan's son. And, incredibly, the UN allowed Saddam Hussein to subvert the program and take food out of the mouths of his people and use the money for his 30 "palaces."
  • UN peacekeepers instead of protecting the people they were sent to protect, are raping and killing them. In the Congo the Belgians have been caught doing terrible things. (I need to look up a source for this.)
  • Even when the UN admits that its "peacekeepers" are harrassing, raping and killing people, it won't do anything. The people sitting in their palace in New York City sit and enjoy themselves, but do nothing. See "Henry Dowa in Kosovo" below.

Zimbabwe on the Human Rights Commission - Elected

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) was dismayed:
"The Government of Zimbabwe has consistently disregarded the rights of its people, repressed political dissent and quashed any and all opposition. Far from earning a role as a protector of human rights, their membership renders the Commission illegitimate and irrelevant. A real and credible UN Human Rights Commission would be condemning the current regime and its activities. I deplore their selection as a Commission member, and hope that this outrageous appointment will help inspire UN members to enact extensive and meaningful reform of the Commission."
Roger Bates covers the story at Tech Central Station For the UN to have voted Zimbabwe onto the UN Commission for Human Rights it had to ignore the following:
  • the 20,000 members of the opposition that Mugabe ordered killed in the 1980s
  • the destruction of half of the economy in the past five years to maintain power; the regular physical abuse encountered by any opposition to his regime (and that includes just saying nasty things about the leader)
  • • the lack of free media
  • food allocation used as a political weapon
  • helping wage a war in the Congo so that Mugabe and his cronies make millions from conflict diamonds
  • the neglect of the entire health system so that life expectancy has dropped from 55 to 33 years in the past decade.
This shows how arrogant the collective UN is. That the countries vote to place another human right abuser to the Human Rights Commission. Other recent members - Libya and Sudan.

Henry Dowa in Kosovo

Even when the UN admits that its "peacekeepers" are harrassing, raping and killing people, it won't do anything. Roger Bate goes into one example:
In 2001 a Zimbabwean policeman with a reputation as a serial torturer was seconded to the UN police force in Kosovo. Not minding whose human rights he abused, Henry Dowa carried right on torturing and was eventually asked to leave in 2003. He is now back in Harare committing more offences against the powerless populace of Zimbabwe's capital. The human rights group, REDRESS, recently published a report on Dowa -- it makes grisly reading. According to the report, the UN acknowledged the gravity of the allegations made against Dowa. But here's the kicker: "However, after very careful consideration and in consultation with UN Headquarters, we have with regret concluded that UN…cannot pursue criminal prosecution of the officer in Kosovo…[as the UN] has a very limited number of international judges and prosecutors to whom the case would have to be referred."
The UN sent a known criminal to "protect the people of Kosovo." And now it won't prosecute Dowa for what he did while wearing a UN uniform. It's broken. Send John Bolton to so something.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Revising History - Operation Iraqi Freedom

The people who prefer peace with genocide over taking risks for freedom have told themselves their spin about President Bush's decision to free Iraq so many times that now they believe it. Preventing Saddam Hussein from using the weapons of mass destruction he had was one of the prime reasons for the war against Saddam. And it wasn't fiction; it was based on the intelligence available. And it wasn't the only reason. Hyperactive Glen Reynolds, the Instapundit, did a review on April 14 of the broader case for freeing Iraq. OK... it required an invasion to do it.
Must've missed the 2003 State of the Union address, where Bush said: Different threats require different strategies. In Iran we continue to see a government that represses its people, pursues weapons of mass destruction and supports terror. And tonight I have a message for the brave and oppressed people of Iraq: Your enemy is not surrounding your country, your enemy is ruling your country. And the day he and his regime are removed from power will be the day of your liberation. . . .
... these remarks by President Bush to the U.N. General Assembly from 2002: The United States has no quarrel with the Iraqi people; they've suffered too long in silent captivity. Liberty for the Iraqi people is a great moral cause, and a great strategic goal. The people of Iraq deserve it; the security of all nations requires it. Free societies do not intimidate through cruelty and conquest, and open societies do not threaten the world with mass murder. The United States supports political and economic liberty in a unified Iraq.
And Bush titled it "Operation Iraqi Freedom." Remember? Reynolds has much more.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Nuclear Power is Green

With the cosmic concern over greenhouse gases and global warming people are starting to notice that there is an overlooked power source that produces no CO2 - nuclear power. The Independent of the UK shows that it would be much cheaper than renewable energy sources:
Building a new generation of nuclear power stations would be a much cheaper way of meeting the UK's ambitious targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions than persisting with an expansion of renewable energy, according to research published today. The analysis, by the economics consultancy Oxera, calculates that a new nuclear programme would cost the taxpayer just over £4bn whereas continuing to rely on green energy such as wind power would require £12bn of public support.
The UK has very challenging targets to meet.
The Government has set a target of reducing the UK's carbon emissions by 60 per cent by 2050 and producing 20 per cent of the country's electricity from renewable sources by 2020. However, Oxera calculates that by 2025, the UK will be running 40 to 60 per cent short of its carbon-reduction targets, based on past economic performance, unless there is a much bigger shift away from fossil fuel electricity generation than currently envisaged. Robin Smale, Oxera's managing consultant, said: "At the moment, the two options available are increasing the amount of nuclear-generated energy or increasing renewables at the taxpayer's expense - neither of which will be popular. From the point of view of the taxpayer, nuclear energy may be a strong contender given its costs relative to wind power."
And the government is preparing to take the nuclear route.
The research comes as Tony Blair prepares to seek backing for the construction of up to 10 nuclear power stations should he win the election next week. A consultation document setting out the case for a new nuclear programme is expected within weeks of a Labour victory.
There are more details in the story.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Washington Legislature - the Good, the Bad and the Worst

The Washington Legislature is expected to wrap up today, Sunday. Despite increased tax collections and good projections, the Democrats had made a lot of promises and needed much more. The final numbers are not yet in. But it is expected that spending will increase 12%. 12% is well above the increases in costs and population. The worst of all. The Legislature slapped the voters in the face twice on spending and taxes. In 1993 the voters approved Initiative 601. 601 limits state spending growth to the increase in inflation and population growth. And 601 also requires a 2/3 majority to increase taxes. The Legislature said "we know better than you" and overrode the 2/3 majority requirement by a simple majority vote. And we already saw that in increase in spending is huge. (I don't know what the 601 limit would be.) Jason Mercier of Evergreen Freedom Foundation observed them put the pieces in place in March. The good is mostly bills that didn't pass. The Democrats and Governor pro tem Gregoire pushed a big-government agenda. So the big fights were to stop nanny-state interference and the huge growth. Good bills that passed:
  • Update: Not so sure about this. Voting - requiring identification to vote. Of course, like buying cigarettes or flying.
  • "Empowering" the Secretary of State to purge voter rolls of felons and dead people. It's probably requiring it. But Sam Reed is the Times' favorite Republican and they didn't want to report that the Legislature is telling him to do his job. Oh, just kidding. But... could be!
  • Update: Not so sure about this. Performance audits of all state agencies. Good! We have been fighting for this for years. But it saddles the state auditor with an oversight committee. That is an unnecessary requirement, because the auditor is elected state-wide and is personally responsible for the audits he conducts. The only reason for the oversight is to interfere with his audits.
Good that these did not pass:
  • Paid family leave. An irresponsible proposal. It would pay you to take time off work to care for a family member. Paid by the state; supported by an income tax. The claim is that it wouldn't cost that much. But that is on the assumption that you and I won't accept time off supported by the taxpayers. I will, won't you? As soon as the program started it would be broke and require a tax increase. But the sponsors don't forsee what people will do. And they have good intentions.
  • School levies to pass with a simple majority. I would support this if the school vote were at the November general election. But they will never agree to that; they have their own little election in February when the turnout is low.
  • Ban on cellphone talking while driving. We already have that law - reckless driving is illegal.
  • Seattle Sonics - tax support for the multi-millionaires. An absurd request for a huge facility with a large fan store. College admissions based on race. The voters made this illegal by voting for Initiative 200 a few years ago.
  • Phony clone-ban bill. The bill purported to ban human cloning. But it had an imaginative definition that accomplished the opposite. It allowed cloning, but didn't allow full development. It required killing the fetus before birth, therefore the clone was not born.
  • Encouraging voting by mail. Mail voting is the easy way to cast a ballot when you are not qualified or to vote 2 or 3 times. This is a step backward - sponsored by Sec. of Sate Sam Reed.
  • Mental-health parity. Requiring equal coverage for mental illness. It is well established that every time the government places a restriction on medical insurance, the insurance gets more expensive and people lose their coverage.
  • Prescription drugs from Canada. This is the way to reduce the research for new medications that provide relief never before available. Less research and fewer new medications, because it is in the US that most of the research takes places. Irresponsible.
  • Apprenticeship required. 15% of all work on major public-works projects would be done by apprentices. Another plum for the labor unions. If this were a good idea they wouldn't have to force it by a law.
  • Public records. Public agencies can now deny the public access to records by claiming "attorney-client" privilege." Oh? Who is the client? I thought you public servants worked for us. But now when the Attorney General advises you his person is "your" personal attorney. Smells bad.
  • Life Sciences Discovery Fund. The pet project of now-Governor Gregoire. Remember the state's settlement with the tobacco companies. We needed big cash for medical expenses and education. The Legislature raided it 2 years ago and Gregoire did it again to support biotech research.
  • 9.5 cent per gallon increase in the gasoline tax. This passed on Sunday, so I don't have full information yet.
  • California emissions standards for new cars. This will cause an increase in prices and quite likely fewer choices. I will buy in Idaho.
  • Unemployment insurance roll back. Two years ago Washington decided to get more competitive and get its unemployment insurance not so far above the national average. They rolled it back for seasonal workers in construction and farm work. Great deal - work half the year, then get your next-door neighbor to pay you.
  • Tax increases. Everywhere for everything. But the one that hurts most is the Death Tax. Families have to sell the business they built in order to pay estate taxes. Local examples: a highly regarded company you might not have heard of: Frank Russell Co. is a 70-year old investment company overseeing $2.3 billion in Tacoma; the family had to sell it due to estate taxes. And Ben Bridge Jewelers, same story. The Supreme Court ruled against Washington's estate tax, so they did it again.
If things change tonight or they go into an extended session we will keep watching.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Binding Arbitration - a Surpise?

A feel-good idea that doesn't work. In Hawaii the state budget is being thrown far out of balance to the benefit of the state bureaucrats. The tool - binding arbitration as described in an editorial in the Honolulu Star Bulletin. Binding arbitration sounds like a good idea. If the negotiating parties can't reach agreement, then give it to an independent third party. And let the arbitrator make the final decision. But Hawaii's legislature foolishly gave up its responsibility to set state employee pay. They did this because the employee unions told - I mean asked - them to. The Republican Governor Linda Lingle vetoed it, but her veto was overridden. So in a time of tight budgets the white-collar employees are getting 5% increases - far above inflation. The employees union pulls the simplest trick on the arbitrator: they decide the raise they want, then double it. The arbitrator after much talking, research and anguish (OK, I'm projecting here) and a hand-wringing decision decides to cut the employee request in half. So they ask for a 10% increase - how do they do that with a straight face? And they get 5%. Politicians like to avoid taking heat. But they should get a double temperature for pushing off their responsibility. Oh, they are saying "It's out of our hands.... We didn't know this would happen." How do they say that with straight faces? A group of seventh graders could have figured that out. We call this a "perfectly predictable surprise." (I am trying to recall the source of this phrase.) I am watching this because Washington's recently enacted collective bargaining for state employees has some similar features. (BTW: the reason for tight budgets in Hawaii during this time of economic growth: Hawaii has the most bloated state government on a per capita basis. There is no second place.)

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Social Security - one step forward

The public debate does not favor enacting President Bush's ownership reform of Social Security this year. But to make large changes requires the public debate and we are having it now. And I think we have made one step toward reform. It is becoming known and some who knew it all along are now admitting - that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. The money I have been putting in has not been saved. There is no trust fund. Some of it went to send the checks to current recipients including my in-laws, parents and step mother. But most of what I pay in - hundreds per month - goes to pay for a dead-end freeway in Pennsylvania named after the Congressman who won the arm wrestling match for the pork. What we pay is not saved for the future, but is spent this year for pork. This is a Ponzi scheme. See Wikipedia Where the salesman says that what he is investing your money is so profitable that he can promise a huge return. And to prove it he shows you happy customers who got the promised pay out. But all he does is take the next sucker's money to pay off the sucker before. And when he no longer succeeds in luring new suckers the money inflow stops and the whole thing collapses. "But Senator XYZ says there is a trust fund; that in Scranton, PA, there is a drawer with Treasury bills in it." That T-bill has no value of its own. It is only a promise that the US government will in the future pay. But how will it pay? Not from saved money. NO. The government will tax the future workers to pay off the T-bill. "Paul Krugman says that T-bills are the most trusted investment in the world" That is true as an investment. But there is a huge difference here. That is as an obligation to pay the person holding the bill. But this is an obligation to self. The government is not obligated to pay your Social Security benefit. Taxpayers have claimed ownership of what they paid to SS. But the Supreme Court said "No, you don't own anything. Just the government's promise." So that T-bill is not owned by you, but by the US Government. It is not an obligation to you. So we are back to the Ponzi scheme. What you pay SS today is spent. When you start receiving SS benefits the government will raise taxes on your kids. You have been sold a bill of goods. I think the lie of the Ponzi scheme is now in the open. That is progress. Tip: Megan McArdle aka Jane Galt has a good explanation. Social Security Choice is a group blog about options for reforming Social Security. It has some big guns including Herman Cain, past CEO of Godfather's Pizza (corrected), Stephen Moore of the Club for Growth, and Donald Luskin the very busy fact checker for Paul Krugman.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

60 Years Ago - Nerd Nights in Boston

Yesterday 60 years ago. The US was stunned by the Pearl Harbor raid. Then Japan marched across the Pacific; US defeat in the Philippines resulted in the Bataan Death March. A creative US Navy officer, Captain Duncan, devised a plan to bomb Tokyo, the capital. The Japanese knew we had no aircraft that had the range to reach Tokyo, but he found a way. On April 18, 1942. Under the command of Jimmie Dolittle 16 Army Air Corps B-25 were loaded on the aircraft carrier Hornt. A History Site in NC

At some Boston nightspots, nerds rule

"It may be the jocks who have made headlines for Boston, with their World Series triumph and talk of a Super Bowl dynasty. But nerds are the real lifeblood of this city. ''There are so many nerds in Boston," said Chris Balakrishnan, a postdoctoral fellow in biology at Harvard University who organizes monthly Nerd Nite gatherings for like-minded, well, nerds. ''It's just remarkable." "Bar and restaurant owners are getting wise to nerd power and the fact that geeks pay. Across the city, venues have opened their doors for events such as Nerd Nite and reaped the financial benefits of a city population that, thanks to numerous universities, will never suffer a drought of studious overachievers. "The nerds have brought thousands of dollars on nights when business was generally slow. Nerd Nite, which initially was held on Wednesdays, became so popular during the last year that the owners of the Midway Cafe in Jamaica Plain agreed to let the nerds take over coveted Friday nights and fill the stage usually reserved for bands with their laptops and slideshow presentations." Restaurant review in the Boston Globe

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Endangered Species - I don't recommend this solution

Solve this problem. At Bonneville Dam on the Columbia river 40 miles east of Portland the sea lions - Californian interlopers - have discovered that it is easy pickings at the fish ladder. To enter the fish ladder the reutrning salmon have to funnel to the entry. So have lunch is quick and easy. And a couple have even entered the fish ladder itself. Story: Snacking sea lions scarfing up sparse Columbia chinook run The salmon are an endangered run of chinook salmon. The sea lions are not endangered, but they are protected by the US government. Why are they protected? I have never heard a reason, but they are cute! A problem for the class: An endangered species is..... correction.... Not an endangered species.... An endangered population is being exterminated by a nonendangered species/poplulation. What do you do? Answer: You wring your hands and watch until all the salmon are gone. Why don't the well-paid authorities do something? Because it would look bad on TV to shoot the guilty. And besides they are just animals. And so the large, well-paid staff sets off fireworks and maybe sonar - but that might cause damage like those dolphins that ran agroud somewhere. And they plan on building gates. Why didn't you design and build them last year?

Failure in Seattle

In the early 1990s we had the same problem at the Government Locks fish ladder in Seattle. But we don't have the problem anymore. The expert explains their success: "The run we were trying to protect essentially doesn't exist anymore," said Steve Jeffries, a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist who worked with sea lions at the Ballard Locks and has consulted on the Bonneville situation." (See "Failure at Ballard Locks in the same Sea Times story.) So there you have your solution: Allow the nonendangered California sea lions to eat the Columbia River Chinook population until there are no more left. Then they won't do it anymore. Another lesson from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Cross posted at Sound Politics.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

No Patent for PBJ

Now try to keep a straight face. Smuckers lost a big one. They can't get patent protection for their "exclusive" crustless peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
A federal appeals court rejected J.M. Smucker's effort to patent its crustless version of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Smucker's bought the idea for the "Uncrustable" sandwich, which it sells frozen and in roughly the shape and size of a pierogi, from its North Dakota inventors in 1995. Smucker's won patent protection for the treat in 1999. Before long, though, smaller operators were trying to nibble at its share of the crustless PBJ market, which generated an estimated $27.5 million for Smucker's last year. When the company tried to expand its patent, the U.S. Patent Office turned it down, saying the process of making Uncrustables wasn't unique, pointing to evidence in a cookbook and a recipe printed in a newspaper. Smucker's countered by noting that it sealed its PBJs with a special process, rather than by "commingling the two bread slices into an amorphous homogenous mass" as other cooks might do. A federal appeals court was not impressed. "It is a patent that never should have been issued," Adam Jaffe, economics professor at Brandeis University, told the Wall Street Journal earlier this week. "This is a technology -- if you can call it that -- that has been around in many forms for many years."
Wall Street Journal Requires subscription

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Election Townhall in Shoreline

The townhall meeting was sponsored by King County Council rep Carolyn Edmonds and the League of Women Voters. Council rep Bob Ferguson was in the audience. Attendance was at least 200. It was tightly structured to the chagrin of many. There was a 1-minute limit on the public comments/questions period and most people were cut off. I was surprised that the host Carolyn Edmonds was not involved in the give and take. She did the welcome and such - before I arrived. But I thought as an elected official she would be involved in addressing the problems. It was her chance to show she was part of the solution. I guess she didn't want to appear to be part of the problem! Logan had 30 minutes to show every fact that made him look good and skip those that didn't. He couldn't leave out the fact that there are still 1800 more ballots than voters. But in several other areas he made mention of the problem and "don't worry I am taking care of it But he kept forgetting to tell how bad the problems were: How many ballots were enhanced improperly obscuring the voter's original markings? How many provisional ballots were counted before being validated? He just forgot to say. When Dean Logan made his bold declaration that the counting was as good as it can be the guy seated next to me cupped his hands and shouted "Bull bleep." He was just sitting next to me; I don't know him. Well, actually I do; but he's usually kind of quiet so I was as surpised an anyone. And a lot people agreed with him and were upset. A representative of Ron Sims (out sick with the flu) quickly covered Ron Sims' "independent review panel." That got a very big laugh and several pointed comments during the comment time. How can a panel appointed by Sims be independent? It can't. I don't take detailed notes. But some of the items that really stuck out - - 1800 more ballots than voters. Who cast them? That is a big problem five months after the election. - King County does not verify citizenship during registration. If you sign the registration form then he assumes you are a citizen. He says that federal and state law preclude him. It's broken. - A mathematician said the expert statisticians tell him that an election is just a sampling of the population. So you use sampling techniques and don't expect an exact result. I disagree: an election is the complete enumeration of those people who participate; so the expected result is exact tabulation of the count. - The rush to certify the election, even when the controls don't match. Logan said he had to certify the election in 15 days, so he did, despite knowing there were problems. There was push-back from the audience. During the comment time Stefan Sharkansky said that Logan was wrong: the law says you only certify if the counts match up. - A woman who was an observer of the recount said that there were tables that no one could get within 20 to 30 feet of. So it was not possible to verify that the ballots were correctly tabulated. - Stefan held up the mail vote report done by Logan. An employee said that information in it was false. When will it be corrected? Logan mumbled an acknowledgment that there was a problem. Well, his words weren't mumbled, but the meaning was. Stefan: when will this report be corrected? No promise. - How many absentee ballots were returned in the mail? Logan doesn't know. The evening ended on a comical note. A man asked about homeless people who give the King county administration building for their address. When anyone registers the elections department mails a confirmation. If the confirmation is returned then the person is taken off the voter role. But if a homeless person gives 500 5th Avenue what do you do with the mail for him/her. Logan's answer: "Oh, yes, the political flyers start arriving and we shred them." Question: But how about their confirmation? Logan: "Oh, that's different." With the one-minute limit it took the guy 3 turns through the line - short by this time - to finish exploring this question and it sure made Logan's process appear to be ad hoc. It was both funny and sorry.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Confirm John Bolton as Ambassador to the UN

Update I sent a different letter to Senator Patty. I included fewer facts and more politics. I reminded her that the Democrats lost the Senate in 2002 because they obstructed the President. She should remember that - she was the senator in charge of their reelection effort as head of the DSCC. And in 2004 Tom Daschle got sent back to his Georgetown mansion because he did nothing but obstruct. I'm not quoting the text, because it's on my other Mac which is not real reliable right now. But I just wanted to give Patty the thought that maybe passing the judge nominees to the floor would be good for both Democrats and Republicans. * I just learned one of Tommy Daschle's dirty tricks today. He dismissed the Senate for something over 30 days because when there is an interruption of 30 days or more all judicial nominations are killed and have to start over. There was no reason to dismiss the Senate. He did it just to stop judges who would be confirmed if voted on. He got his reward. Source: Daily Thoughts Original post: I sent the following letter to my US Senator Maria Cantwell: The United Nations is a mess. The Iraq Oil-for-food program was so incompetently run that Saddam Hussein was able to subvert it and get $ billions for arms and his palaces. What body administered it? The UN. The official next in rank to Kofi Annan himself was implicated and, by coincidence, it was immediately after he had quit his office. The staff is known to be losing patience with Kofi Annan, since he got himself entangled in the "oil for food" scandal. More: Countries ruled by dictators outnumber those with representative governments and have a lot of say in setting the agends. - The worst abusers of human rights were elected - elected - to the Human Rights Commission - Libya, Sudan. - Kofi Annan did nothing to stop the massive massacre in Rwanda. If we send a rah-rah person, then nothing will happen, which means the UN will sink deeper and deeper in ineffectiveness and corruption. We need to send someone who can look at the UN with a critical eye and say "What is the purpose? How can the UN be changed to attain that?" John Bolton has the reputation of being skeptical and asking hard questions. He has been confirmed by the Senate for high offices 4 times. He has served under 3 presidents. And there has been no hint of scandal in his work or life. Please lead the move to confirm Bolton as Ambassador to the United Nations. Truly, Ron Hebron

Meet Dean Logan in Shoreline Tuesday

My King County person has been very quiet during the election kerfuffle; I mean silent. Now Carolyn Edmonds states that she is "committed to ensuring a secure, trusted, accountable elections system" and has invited Dean Logan and the League of Women Voters for a town hall meeting. Elections Town Hall Meeting Tuesday, April 12 at 7:00 p.m. Shoreline Center, Mt. Rainier Room, 18560 1st Ave. NE in Shoreline. Take I-5 to the N 175th St. exit. (Exit #176.) Go west. Turn right on Meridian. Turn right on NE 185 St. The meeting rooms are along the 1st Avenue side of the complex. Come to seek the connection between her goal and her guest. Have your questions ready. Update: Dean Logan has attained household name recognition as King County Director of Elections. He proudly oversaw the massive bungling that still has 900 more ballots cast than voters. A far larger number than the victory margin for temporary governor Gregoire.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Google Satellite Photos

Warning. This is addictive!

Hot new feature. Mapquest had satellite photos for a while, but they are long gone. But Google bought Digital Globe and now is making their photos available. Google Maps Navigate on the map to your area of interest, then click "Satellite" in the upper right. It's easier to navigate on the map, except for rivers, which only show if they are very wide. A few of my favorite spots. To get a better perspective when viewing the satellite photo push the slider down to zoom out, then click on "Map" in the upper right. The drive north from Vancouver, BC to Squamish along Howe Sound on the way to Whistler in Canada is spectacular. Satellite - St. Mary on the east edge of Glacier National Park, Montana. The approach on the west side is more heavily traveled, but foothills block the view. On this east approach you get the expansive view of the Rockie Mountains both from the town of St. Mary and from the prairies to the east. Satellite - Dry Falls in eastern Washington, just south of US Highway 2. The site of a cosmic flood at the end of the last ice age. A waterfall 350 feet high and 4 miles across - but for only a day or two. The dark serpentines at the center are the shadows of the high cliffs. Satellite

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Priorities at the Legislature

I-601 limit on spending.

Evergreen Freedom Foundation discovered - discovered that the Democrats have disclosed that they intend to violate the voters' wishes in two ways. I-601 is an initiative that limits state spending. It was passed immediately the last time the Democrats ran everything. In 1993 Gary Locke helped then-Gov. Mike Lowrey to fund every program anyone came up with. Of course that required huge tax increases. It was thrown back in their faces; I-601 signatures were gathered within months. Then in November of the same year the voters passed I-601 to limit spending. I-601 limits state spending to the growth in population and inflation. It can only be exceeded by a 2/3 vote of the Legislature. And tax increases require a vote by the public. The Democrats intend, first, to push money around to raise the limit. Then they intend to get rid of it anyway. Instead of passing a bill that kills the spending limit, they intend to explicitly set it aside for two years. And they will do it with a majority vote, not the 2/3 required. Can they do it? They did it in 2003.

No phony ban of human cloning

Senate Bill 5594. Other people have covered this thoroughly. Robert the Mulatto Advocate got there first. Wesley J. Smith of Discovery Institute is the expert who knows it inside out. His article. It not only does not do what it purports to do - ban human cloning. But It allows cloning in which the human fetus MUST be killed. It hangs this on a false distinction about the purpose of the cloning being for therapeutic use. When what is important is what is done - the cloning.

Election reform

This unbelievable. We elected and reelected Sam Reed, a Republican, to oversee elections. He gets much blame for the mess in King County and the State for the November, 2004 election. He literally did not do his job. This has been well documented at So does he propose requiring showing photo identification to vote? No. He proposes making things worse, instead of better. HB 1754/SB 5744. He proposes going 100% mail voting. It is much easier to vote illegally with mail voting. Indeed, with mail voter registration a person can establish a false ID, then get a mail ballot and vote in every election. At each election the poll workers will do only one check - to compare his signature to the one on file, which will of course match. So anyone will be able vote - noncitizens, felons, everyone. And anyone will be able to vote 2 or 3 times. Sam Reed.... there is only one term for a person who does the opposite of what is required when he swore the oath of office - he is a fool. And the news is even worse. HB1754/SB 5722 have both passed! Both the Senate and the House have already passed the bills to allow all voting entirely by mail. One of them has to vote to accept the other's bill - routine. I am sure they will say that this does not require all-mail voting, just allows it. There is much more going on. These are just 3 low spots.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Headline: The New Republic defends Bush

"If George W. Bush were to discover a cure for cancer, his critics would denounce him for having done it unilaterally, without adequate consultation, with a crude disregard for the sensibilities of others. He pursued his goal obstinately, they would say, without filtering his thoughts through the medical research establishment. And he didn't share his research with competing labs and thus caused resentment among other scientists who didn't have the resources or the bold--perhaps even somewhat reckless--instincts to pursue the task as he did. "And he completely ignored the World Health Organization, showing his contempt for international institutions. Anyway, a cure for cancer is all fine and nice, but what about aids? "No, the president has not discovered a cure for cancer. But there is a pathology, a historical pathology, that he has attacked with unprecedented vigor and with unprecedented success. I refer, of course, to the political culture of the Middle East, which the president may actually have changed. And he has accomplished this genuinely momentous transformation in ways that virtually the entire foreign affairs clerisy--the cold-blooded Brent Scowcroft realist Republicans and almost all the Democrats--never thought possible...." Those are not the words of Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh or any big Bush supporter. It was written by Martin Peretz the editor of The New Republic. Pretty good! A liberal giving President Bush credit! (Not as choice as if it were The Nation, as I was thinking.) (I had to register to read this story. Free.) Thanks to Ron of Horologium for the correction.
Giving George W. Bush His Due on Democracy - the Politics of Churlishness

Pulitzer No Prize

I don't know how the winners of Pulitzer Prizes are decided. But the committee had a huge blind spot this year. Claudia Rossett of the Wall Street Journal doggedly followed every lead on the Iraq Oil for Food program run by the United Nations. She was the first to put in print the clues that something was wrong. (As far as I know.) And something huge was wrong. Billions were misused. The intention was that Iraq would be allowed to sell oil, but only to feed its people. Not for weapons, not for Saddam's limosines and palaces. A special management and auditing program was set up to make sure the money was used correctly; using contracting companies and run by the UN. But the UN bureaucrats allowed Saddam Hussein to divert billions away from food to serve all his power needs - favors for the people who ran Iraq into the ground for him; was it 30 palaces? And some of those "palaces" were compounds of hundreds of acres with a dozen or more buildings. And, yes, weapons from Russia and Germany. (France, too?) The UN is shaken to the foundation. The UN staff - a large portion - have lost their respect for Kofi Annan. The Volcker report says Annan was remiss - at least by not recognizing the conflict of interest of his son being hired and paid by one of the mangement companies. Kofi says the report exonerated him, but he knows it didn't.This is the biggest thing to shake the UN in years. So Claudia Rossett definitely deserved the Pulitzer for International Reporting. I am sure the winners did good work. But her work was more important and she did a first-class job on it. Her latest article is a good example of her work. She reports that Kofi Annan has proudly announced a "reform" proposal for the UN that uses lofty prose to say: "rearrange the chairs and spend lots more money." (This link is to her latest article, so it is subject to change.)
In Deep Trouble -Kofi Annan's idea of "reform" is more of the same--and lots more money.
Update - Jim Miller of Sound Politics on his own blog calls them the "Pulitzer Reprimands," because the only way to get one is to be anti-American. Jim Miller Michelle Malkin has more. And John Hindraker of Powerline Blog shows how horrible the winning cartoons were.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Living Life movie premiere April 8

Living Life is the debut movie by 19-year-old Jesse Harris, a graduate of Seattle's Ballard High School. He wrote, produced and directed it.
He has a beautiful girlfriend, great friends and his whole life in front of him. At least...he thought so! After weeks of experiencing stomach pain he develops serious symptoms and is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. With the power of magic, love and family, one boy's struggle defines a generation.
Living Life opens at the Landmark Metro theaters in Seattle's University District on Friday, April 8. If it is successful in attacting an audience it will go into national distribution. Tip: Scott Cummins.
Living Life

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Pope John Paul II

John Paul II was one of the great world leaders of the 20th/21st Century. His daring support for the church in Poland weakened the hold of godless Communism. He reached out around the world. He even got Fidel Castro to invite him to Communist Cuba. He astounded the world by the attraction of young people to him. The Pope a star? For teenagers? And he held the line on the established Catholic values, despite the insistence of American and European leaders that the faith be updated, that is, watered down.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Discovery Institute and Intelligent Design

The Seattle Times's Linda Shaw had a front-page story about Stephen Meyers of Discovery Institute and their work in intelligent design.
Does Seattle group "teach controversy" or contribute to it?.
4/3 - I like Discovery's approach. They are saying there are questions about Darwinism. More on the questions in a bit. Since there are questions students should be told - first tell the teachers. So don't present Darwinism as a closed book, but look at the current situation - "the controversy" says Discovery. Questions: First the origin of the earth and life on it is history, not science. Science involves making a hypothesis, then setting up experiments to test it. It's water under the bridge. There is no way to do experiments on the atmospheric conditions at the time life first appeared. And the famous Miller-Urey experiment in the1950s that generated some amino acids came no where near to creating the necessary ingredients for life. The proteins have to be either left- or right-handed, not both. But the experiment produced a random mix. Second, much of what we learned about evolution is not true. The famous example of the moths in England evolving to be darker in color when coal pollution darkened the vegetation was fraud. The perpetrator glued the moths to the trees to produce the evidence. See the book Of Moths and Men: An Evolutionary Tale: The Untold Story of Science and the Peppered Moth by Judith Hooper. There are more examples of things we learned that are not true - the development of the human embryo going through evolution; Darwin's finches - in Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth? Why Much of What We Teach About Evolution is Wrong by Jonathan Wells. Link So it makes sense to teach students about evolution, and that the book is not closed; there are questions. Teach the students to look at the controversy for themselves.