April 2005
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Posted April 29, 2005
HTML Tables Day

Idiot King Wind-Up Inaction Figure. A few random observations about 43's press conference:

Last NightComment
"My administration is doing everything we can to make gasoline more affordable. ...we will continue to encourage oil-producing nations to maximize their production. ...We must address the root causes that are driving up gas prices." How do we reduce dependence on foreign oil by encouraging more pumping? How do we become "conservers" by increasing supply? By getting developing countries to do the same by encouraging them to adopt economies that consume just like ours?
Why not use your most favorite policy instrument, the tax cut, to actually reduce consumption? How about a tax credit for telecommuting? For buying a bicycle? For having only one car? For having NO cars?
Social Security Essentially the same crap he's been spouting the last 60 days that have been driving him down in the polls.
"So I propose a Social Security system in the future where benefits for low-income workers will grow faster than benefits for people who are better off." It's the Means Testing third rail! Define "better off." Basically, he's talking about a system just for the poor: Social Security gets "Medicaid-ed."
"any reform of Social Security must replace the empty promises being made to younger workers with real assets, real money... opportunity to receive a higher rate of return on their money than the current Social Security system can provide." God, he's still trying to fool people into thinking Social Security is an investment program.
"...give younger workers the option - the opportunity - if they so choose, of putting a portion of their payroll taxes into a voluntary personal retirement account." They already do, it's called a 401K. Like I said, the same crap.
"I propose that one [private account] investment option consist entirely of treasury bonds" You mean those "empty promises" of "worthless IOUs"?
"I'm not an economist" But you have an MBA. Which... I'm sure you earned.
"John Bolton is a blunt guy. Sometimes people say I'm little too blunt." No, actually we say you're not too sharp.
"I think [Gen. Richard Myers] went on to say we're winning, if I recall." "Bombs Kill At Least 24 in Iraq" --CNN, today
"[Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari] understands the need for a timely write of the constitution." Oh my god.
"We had people graduating from high school who were illiterate... It wudn't working." JAY-zus

Ken Hutcherson's NFL Career Statistics. Rev. Ken Hutcherson, anti-gay pastor of Antioch Bible Church located near Microsoft, played professional football. In fact, he was one of the original Seattle Seahawks in 1976. Wanting to know how good a player he was, I've been searching and searching for his statistics, without success. Until now:

Ken Hutcherson, LB
Univ. of West Alabama
All American 1972, 1973
GSC Defensive Player of the Year, 1972
NFL: Dallas, San Diego, Seattle
Solo tackles:257
Forced fumbles:13
Passes intercepted:16
Grabbing-ass penalties:19
Intercepted passes dropped due to gay panic:25

Blarchive: Too many hits to the head
Real News this week: Hutcherson says Microsoft is lying

Air America ratings in Seattle are getting better. Most recent KPTK 1090 ratings, versus wingnut talk stations:

StationWinter 05Autumn 04
KPTK ↑1.21
KTTH ↓3.23.4
KVI •3.43.4
KGNW •0.50.5

KPTK began getting local advertisers in March. Could one or two local hosts be in the near future?

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Posted April 28, 2005
Enterblogment Tonight

And we're back. Coming up—espresso machines of the stars! But first, here's Tim Snide and the Slam Book®. Welcome, Mr_Snide.
Thanks Mr_Blog, it's good to be back.
Yes, it's been quite a while.
Well I heard your green room does a much better hors d'oeuvres tray now.
How Snide of you!
Yes it is. I'll start with last weekend's Army report clearing senior commanders of wrongdoing in the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal. Quelle surprise! I guess the lesson the government can take from all this is: blame the woman.

I turned on the NPR this morning to hear the President proposes to double the hybrid vehicle tax credit. Gee, I seem to recall that in the 2000 campaign Bush heaped scorn on hippie-dippy granola tax credits for hybrids, as well as for small scale solar systems. Oh well, what's one flip-flop. Or 42.

Also from the NPR: Interior Secretary Gale Norton is to hold a press conference announcing the rediscovery of the ivory-billed woodpecker, thought extinct since the 1940s. Norton praised the Nature Conservancy team that made the discovery, and announced a special ivory-billed hunting season will be held in June.

Speaking of 42, Douglas Adams's "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" is finally coming to multiplexes, starring Martin Freeman and Mos Def. Americans have been clamoring for a wide-release motion picture with dry, ironic British jokes about Brownian motion—and Hollywood has heard their pleas!

And how about Alabama State Rep. Gerald Allen's bill to stop public school libraries from buying plays or books by gay authors, or about gay characters? Give me a break. I'd like to see this guy's Netflix list, because you KNOW what this kind of guy is watching:
The Hunger, Mulholland Drive, Wild Things, and Embrace of the Vampire starring Alyssa Milano.

Finally, a shout-out to Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels. I saw you working the velvet rope last night in front of Paul Allen's new Discovery Center. You looked good, Your Girthness, the polyester blue blazer and walkie-talkie suit you. It's a smart political move for the Mayor: it's reelection year, so working front door security for minimum wage makes him look humble for all the yuppies who came to sip sauvignon blanc and gawk at the Center's gentrification exhibits.

It's been fun. I'm Tim Snide, and that was the Slam Book®.

Blarchive: Clare Peploe's Triumph of Love (10/21/2004)
Also today:Hear Bill Gaytes read from official company talking points

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Posted April 27, 2005
Bill Gates in bed with Ralph Reed Link This
Not that there's anything wrong with that

Microsoft can claim that their withdrawal of support from a state anti-discrimination bill had nothing to do with pressure from fundamentalist bigots, even though they gave one of our region's more obnoxious torch-carrying pitchfork-wavers a seat at the table. But when it turns out Microsoft is paying one of the chief bigots (the "right hand of god") $20,000 a month as a "consultant," the plausibility of the denials shrinks to the size of an angora sweater after an accidental ride in the dryer.

Microsoft defends ties to Ralph Reed
Microsoft Corp. is paying social conservative Ralph Reed $20,000 a month as a consultant, triggering complaints that the well-connected Republican with close ties to the White House and to evangelist Pat Robertson may have persuaded the company to oppose gay rights legislation.

Reed, who got his start in politics by running the Christian Coalition for Robertson and who had a senior role in President Bush's 2004 campaign, is a leading figure in the social conservative movement that spearheaded opposition to gay marriage, stem cell research, abortion, gambling and other issues.

Microsoft spokesman Mark Murray said the company has hired Reed on several occasions to provide advice on "trade and competition issues." He said Reed's relationship as a consultant with the software company extends back "several years." Source

You know, we can joke about how Apple is Gates's R&D division, but I thought Microsoft was supposed to be about innovation. Innovation is progress; Reed and the Christianists are anything but.

Just my opinion, but I'd say Microsoft has lost its way. Well if maintaining their virtual monopoly is so important that Microsoft isn't bothered by throwing in with the theocrats who are trying to destroy America ('specially when the theocrats are trying to create a judiciary unfriendly to antitrust cases), then this means war. Hey you liberal investors! Listen up you socially responsible investment funds! Is Microsoft in your portfolio? For how much longer?

Payments sully Microsoft

A Phone Rings in Redmond

Bill Gates: Hello?
Ralph Reed: Bill? It's Ralph.
G: I hear and obey.
R: What???
G: Just kidding. [Sotto] Sort of.
R: Bill, I'm calling because we have another problem.
G: Another one? But I already took back our support of the anti-discrim—
R: Ah ah ah...
G: Sorry, the 'gay rights—'
R: No...
G: Uh, the 'Democrat Party Sodom & Gomorrah Act of 2005'. Still not used to the new terminology.
R: You'll pick it up.
G: And Ballmer's feet are sore from all the tapdancing he's had to do.
R: Bill, Tony Perkins called me with some worries he has about one of your products.
G: My products? Which one?
R: Specifically... gosh, this is tough. It's hard for me to even say it. OK... "Longhorn".
G: The new version of Windows XP? What's wrong with it?
R: Oh, the software itself is fine, what do I know. It's the name.
G: Longhorn?
R: Oooh! It gives me a chill. It's... suggestive. It makes me want to do things. It gives me ideas.
G: You sound like an ad a light-FM station from around here used to have—
R: 'Horn.' 'Long'. 'Lonnnnnng'. 'Horrrrrrn'. I mean, just say it a few times and it sounds lasciviously—
G: Right, I think I get the picture. But this is my core business. I gave you and your Hutcherson puppet what you wanted on the—
R: Careful.
G: —on the 'Democrat. Party. Sodom. &. Gomorrah. Act. Of 2005.' So just leave the programming to us and hold up your end of our deal: Keep Justice's antitrust squad off my back, for good.
R: Bill, you know I can't do that.
G: What?
R: By doing our bidding you made a pact. Your soul belongs to Him now.
G: Him? HIM Him?
R: That's right, Him: James Dobson.
G: [Really agitated now] Listen, I didn't drop out of Harvard, buy and relabel another company's DOS system and ride a cheap knockoff of the Mac OS all the way to 95% market domination just so I could take orders from a smug pissant like you.
R: Is that right? Well tell it to new 9th Circuit Federal Court Judge Linus Torvalds.
G: L-L-L-Linus?
R: As-in-Linux.
G: *Sigh* I hear and obey.

TravelScam® update:

Rail almost ready for DeLay ride
House Speaker Dennis Hastert, leading a Republican retreat, said today he stands ready to scrap controversial new ethics rules, possibly by day's end.

"I'm willing to step back," Hastert told reporters after a closed-door meeting with members of the GOP rank and file.
Democrats charge that rules changes pushed through the House by Republicans earlier this year were designed to shelter Majority Leader Tom DeLay Source: AP 4/27/2005

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Posted April 26, 2005
First Look: New Jaguar Swims Link This

Mr_Blog's connections come in handy every so often.

Woodland Park Zoo here in Seattle has a new Bolivian jaguar, that came into town in March.

The new jaguar exhibit, opened in 2003, has a pool, but the original cat does not seem to like the water. The new resident is more of a swimmer; here are the first photos, a semi-exclusive (photos by Ryan Hawk)--

The Plunge
Dog paddle?

According to Woodland Park, this is the first underwater viewing of a jaguar in a zoo anywhere in the world.

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Posted April 25, 2005
Today's TravelScam® update

The airfare to London and Scotland in 2000 for then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, R-Texas, was charged to an American Express card issued to Jack Abramoff, a Washington lobbyist at the center of a federal criminal and tax probe, according to two sources who know Abramoff's credit-card account number and to a copy of a travel invoice displaying that number.

DeLay's expenses during the same trip for food, phone calls and other items at a golf-course hotel in Scotland were billed to a different credit card also used on the trip by another Washington lobbyist, Edwin Buckham, according to receipts documenting that portion of the trip.

House ethics rules bar lawmakers from accepting travel and related expenses from registered lobbyists. DeLay, who is now House majority leader, has said his expenses on this trip were paid by a nonprofit organization.

He also has said he had no way of knowing
that any lobbyist might have financially supported the trip, either directly or through reimbursements to the nonprofit organization.
The invoice for DeLay's plane fare lists the name of what was then Abramoff's law and lobbying firm, Seattle-based Preston Gates & Ellis.

Multiple sources, including DeLay's then-chief of staff Susan Hirschmann, have confirmed that DeLay's congressional office was in direct contact with Preston Gates about the trip itinerary before DeLay's departure. These contacts raise questions about DeLay's statement that he had no way of knowing about the financial and logistical support provided by Abramoff and his firm. Source

Who holds lapdog Hastings's leash?

...chairman of the House Ethics Committee earlier this year, [Rep. Doc] Hastings [WA-4] has become a central figure in an intense political knife fight, a struggle being played out on a national scale involving Majority Leader Tom DeLay, the second-most-powerful Republican in Congress.

The committee is so torn that Democrats have refused to allow it to organize, arguing that new rules pushed through by Republicans in January weaken -- or even eliminate -- the committee's ability to investigate wrongdoing.
...[Hastings] offered an "ironclad" assurance that Republicans would not abuse the rules to let violators off the hook... He promised that if Democrats allowed the committee to operate, it would commence a formal investigation into various ethics charges against DeLay.
[Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif] said this about his offer: "Let me be very clear. What Mr. Hastings was presenting was a sham.

"What the Republicans did in the ethics process was outrageous. They gutted the rules -- they purged the committee. ... They're destroying the process. It's outrageous. It's outrageous. And the fact is, is that whatever Mr. DeLay's problems are, they're almost minor compared to the abuse of power of the Republicans in terms of the ethics process, which is a bigger issue than Mr. DeLay," she said.
[Speaker Dennis Hastert raised the possibility of 'poison pill' Ethics Committee investigations of Democrats,] Washington Democrat Jim McDermott [WA-7] is likely to be among them, congressional aides said. Source

Background: Gingrich taped violating terms of Ethics settlement
McDermott blew whistle
House GOP out to get McDermott for years


Dobson, Perkins intend to defund courts
Frist cameo on Dobson-Perkins's "Justice Sunday"

Ballmer tries to install patch. After last week's PR debacle over Microsoft's withdrawal of support for a state anti-discrimination bill, capo di tutti capo Steve Ballmer repeated company claims that the Big M didn't withdraw support, it "narrowed its priorities to issues more directly related to business". And furthermore, "Both Bill and I actually both personally support this legislation that would outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation," Ballmer wrote from the pair's secluded retreat in Key West, Florida. "But that is my personal view, and I also know that many employees and shareholders would not agree with me." Intolerant religious fringe elements determine Microsoft corporate policy?

I suspect Ballmer is about to find out that many more people disagree with the company's strange kow-towing under pressure from Rev. Hutcherson, the fundamentalist ex-football player. If Ballmer and Gates caved under that kind of pressure, just wait until they experience a dose of worldwide condemnation. Link This

Ahhahaha: Group asks Microsoft to return "corporate vision award"

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Posted April 22, 2005
Here comes the attack on Medicaid

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan says a combination of the current deficit and the unpredictable aspects of health care entitlement programs could put future federal budgets on an "unsustainable path."

He says entitlement-program spending must be restrained and suggests that Social Security's finances may not be the biggest problem the government faces. Source (Realaudio)

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Posted April 21, 2005
Too many hits to the head Link This

The new Stranger has a lengthy new piece about civic cowardice by everybody's favorite little Redmond software company, written by God-like investigative reporter Sandeep Kaushik. Seems a self-important fundamentalist wingnut (is there any other kind?), whose main claim to fame is that he was a Seahawks linebacker, threatened a boycott against M*cros*ft for its support of proposed state gay rights legislation. And the Big M totally caved.

In a move that angered many of the company's gay employees, the Microsoft Corporation, publicly perceived as the vanguard institution of the new economy, has taken a major political stand in favor of age-old discrimination.

...last month the $37-billion Redmond-based software behemoth quietly withdrew its support for House bill 1515, the anti-gay-discrimination bill currently under consideration by the Washington State legislature, after being pressured by the Evangelical Christian pastor of a suburban megachurch. The pastor, Ken Hutcherson of Antioch Bible Church in Redmond, met with a senior Microsoft executive in February and threatened to organize a national boycott of the company's products if it did not change its stance on the legislation, according to gay rights activists and a Microsoft employee who attended a subsequent April 4 meeting where Bradford L. Smith, Microsoft's senior vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary, told a group of gay staffers about Hutcherson's threat. Hutcherson also unsuccessfully demanded that the company fire two employees who had testified in favor of the bill.
[Smith] characterized the shift as part of a broader general review of company policy designed to more precisely formulate criteria for determining when Microsoft should involve itself in "social issues"...
That one of the world's best-known corporations, synonymous with cutting-edge workplace innovation, would reverse its stance on such a basic piece of legislation because of threats from one minister seems to be yet another sign of the ongoing reverberations of last November's presidential election, when "moral values" voters were widely--if probably erroneously--perceived to have played the role of kingmaker in ensuring the reelection of President Bush.

"The pastor of a megachurch gets a meeting in two weeks with one of the top executives at one of the world's most powerful corporations. He makes these idle threats and he gets everything he wants," the [gay and lesbian employees group] member who reported Smith's comments says. "Microsoft just got taken to the cleaners on this issue."
According to... Smith... Hutcherson told the Microsoft general counsel that 700 Evangelical Microsoft employees attend his church, and all of them oppose H.B. 1515. He added that if Microsoft did not withdraw its support of the bill, he intended to organize a national Evangelical boycott of Microsoft. He further demanded that Smith fire... the two Microsoft employees who had testified [to the Legislature] in favor of the bill. ...Smith told Hutcherson that because Microsoft had no set policy restricting employees from testifying on political matters, he would not fire the two employees. He did, however, decide that Microsoft would change its stance on the bill by adopting an officially "neutral" position.
On March 22, Hutcherson testified against the bill in the senate Financial Institutions, Housing, and Consumer Protection committee. He bragged there about his success in moving Microsoft. "You won't hear about Microsoft standing behind H.B. 1515 because I'm dealing with Microsoft on that issue and will be dealing with Gates on that issue..." he said.
[State Rep. Ed] Murray... believes the company was faced with a "profound" moral test, which it failed. The backpedaling "sends an incredible message of weakness and shows a lack of moral backbone," he says. "I mean, what is this? Is this the 1930s, and are they Krups [sic]?"

The official claim of political pressure strains credulity. How can a boycott threat have any impact on an effective monopoly? Because that's what M*cros*ft is, in case you've forgotten. I don't care how large the group of religious bigots is, they're still far less-than-majority.

Maybe there's another reason: Guess which party gets the big donations from blue Puget Sound's richest man? Clearly, for M*cros*ft business is business, and civil rights have to be convenient. And maybe Redmond's #1 Nerd didn't inherit all of his father's progressive values.

MS caves on gay rights
Follow Bill Gates 98052's money
(98105 is dad)
Hutcherson: "We're a force to be reckoned with"
History: Krupp AG facilitated Nazi rise, used forced labor

2 Depublicans doom rights bill: Gay rights bill defeated by "Little Liebermans"

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Posted April 20, 2005
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Rubber Stamp
or Senate Dems grow balls

Yesterday was supposed to be the day Dick Lugar stopped the bleeding on the John Bolton nomination to be UN Ambassador. Word was out that Senate Foreign Relations Democrats were planning to seek a closed session to raise additional new claims by anti-Bolton whistleblowers. Lugar's marching orders were to dispose of the motion, and then vote to send the nomination to the full Senate ASAP. With a 10-8 majority, it seemed inevitable. And then the unexpected happened.

Sit up and take notice moment. As Lugar proceeds without debate with a vote on the motion for closed session, the mic picks up grousing Democrats: "This place has lost every bit of-", "Stunning," "Unheard of."

Best use of props. Chris Dodd's mural-sized State Department org chart, with a huge red arrow showing the chain of command Bolton stepped over to intimidate an analyst.

Best Spencer Tracy moment. Biden, arms waving, reads back transcript of Bolton's testimony: Go to CIA to get someone fired? Gosh no, I just stopped by on my way home. Then shows from Bolton's office log that the visit occurred in the morning during a series of Langley meetings. "Long way home, guys."

Funniest moment. Norm "Bugs" Coleman mouthing "Oil For Food," but what comes out is Karl Rove's voice.

Best Montgomery Burns moment. Barak Obama, faux wide-eyed innocent: Aw gee whiz Mr. Chairman, what's the harm in discussing the charges now? Lugar, venom dripping from his frozen smile: Relax sonny, we'll still be able to investigate and have our staff gather information; let's just vote now. I could almost hear Karl Rove screaming it in Lugar's secret cochlear transceiver. Followed immediately by...

Most heroic moment. The GOP majority becomes so much black smoke up the Vatican chimney. As Lugar again tries to call for the final vote, George Voinovich (R-Ohio) weighs in: "I've heard enough today that I don't feel comfortable about voting for Mr. Bolton."

CSPAN video (be patient, it's REALLY popular)

Also today:

"Five-star living" at five-star prices: Allenco's "condo showroom" opens
Mayor to take Public Safety Plaza private
Publicists for NBC's Revelations hard at work

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Posted April 18, 2005
The † Files

Things I learned from watching NBC's "Revelations":

Psychokillers are scary.
Don't go out dressed Like That.
God hates little girls.
Mulder's other sister is a Sister.
Catholic: Official Church of the Last Days.
If God doesn't speak to you, it's because you didn't take Latin.
The Eileen Ford Modeling Agency must recruit from convents.
Astrophysics grad students are socially awkward.
John Rhys-Davies. Whoa, is he sick?
Scientists don't know everything.
Doctors don't know everything.
YOU can have a career in the Catholic Secret Service.
Bureaucracies sometimes overlook the needs of the individual.
People who read the Left Behind books have Nielsen boxes.

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Posted April 14, 2005
Qui observe l'observateur? Vous!

Today's Seattle Times has an article about a conference on sousveillance. Today's small, cheap and readily available electronics make it possible for the average person to document their own actions and whereabouts—of obvious benefit to the individual as we move toward an all-seeing Security State--with functionaries as prone to error as the rest of us.

Keeping watch now goes both ways
Concerned about Big Brother watching you?

Why not watch back?

With cameras getting smaller and cheaper all the time, and showing up on everything from cellphones to lapel pins, round-the-clock surveillance is becoming available to average citizens.

As much as some may recoil against the thought, experts headlining a four-day conference in Seattle said yesterday putting one's own life on record could prove the best defense against growing government and corporate incursions into privacy.

Speaking at the Association for Computing Machinery's Computers, Freedom and Privacy conference, Steve Mann termed the process "sousveillance"--pronounced soo-veillance and roughly French for "to watch from below"--in contrast to surveillance, or to watch from above. In general, the term refers to using a wearable or portable video camera to record your every action.

Using sousveillance, conference panelists said, police-brutality victims or protesters at a rally would be able to record illegal actions taken against them by police.
Ultimately, tactics like sousveillance could lead to "an increase in the professionalism and effectiveness" of law enforcement, said David Brin, author of "The Transparent Society."
The conference, which runs through tomorrow at the Westin in Seattle, is dubbed "Panopticon" after a prison design by 18th century philosopher Jeremy Bentham, where a central tower monitors inmates who never know for sure if they're being watched. Source

Imagine if Brandon Mayfield, the Oregon lawyer the FBI wrongly fingered--not a pun--in the Madrid train bombings, had had a sousveillance set-up.

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Posted April 13, 2005
What happened to the war on terror?

Terrorist with CIA ties enters US illegally, seeks asylum

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Posted April 11, 2005
"Bugs" is an excuse and a cartoon rabbit

My policy hero Neal Peirce has a new column about two studies that address two nettlesome issues of urban life--the costs of trains and parking your car. One study, from the American Planning Association, says ridership projections for new rail systems

are highly, systematically, and significantly misleading (inflated)

and thereby cost billions more than planned.

Peirce contrasts this with another study, also from the APA, that says that "free" parking is actually a subsidy that cost $127-374 billion in 2002:

The parking we think is "free" really isn't--it's built into the cost of every house or apartment we buy our rent, every purchase we make in a store, every restaurant meal or movie. Why? Because of rigid off-street parking requirements, mostly copied blindly in codes from city to city, or based on national surveys of peak demand at suburban sites devoid of public transit or pedestrian amenities.

What's more, parking is built into taxes we pay because cities and towns provide vast amounts of totally "free" parking, or metered parking at a fraction of market rates in commercial garages.

And everyone ends up paying all the inflated costs and taxes-- whether they drive or not. Plus, parking gobbles up space and makes walking perilous or impractical, feeding sprawl.

This latter report acknowledges a problem (which we pretty much already knew) and proposes solutions: market-pricing of on- and off-street parking, and directing the higher revenues to street maintenance and amenities.

In contrast, the first report is criticized by the APA's own leadership--the conclusions are antithetical to the APA, because planners live for grand transit plans. They believe that trains are something a city has to have to be modern and 'world class.' But the next time you read a story praising the benefits a new light rail system will bring, take note of how much emphasis is placed on redevelopment (i.e., gentrification); moving people (you know, transit) will barely be mentioned, if at all.

The critic of the rail study quoted by Peirce proposes no solution, because he admits to no problems. The data, he says, are old. And furthermore,

cutting the ribbon for a rail project is different from a new highway... because only starter segments are included and it takes a while to iron bugs out of new rail cars and control systems.

Hold on! I thought the chief selling point the agency/industrial transit cartel uses to promote new streetcar and commuter rail systems is that they are 'proven technologies.' You can't have it both ways--well, I guess you can if you have an effective monopoly.

Background: Mayor's list of benefits doesn't include good transit
The monopoly: Who doesn't want you to know about new transit technologies

Literacy test for Congress? The Social Security banner near the bottom of the News Page of Tom DeLay's Congressional web site reads "Promoting Prosperity • Gauranteeing Benefits".

News page at

Chop it off now. Speaking of Tom DeLay, I've been hearing arguments in the last few days over whether the Left should force out the House Majority Capo over Travelscam® sooner rather than later. The Sooners, still not over last November, want Vengeance Now. The more politically astute (or cynical) Laters want the man from Sugarland to twist in the wind until next year, for maximum Democratic benefit in the midterm election.

Mr_Blog says we can have our blood both ways. Do all we can to get rid of him ASAP; that would be cathartic. But we'll still have him to kick around in Fall 2006: the Congressional hearings and subsequent criminal trial will take at least a year. Better still, it will force Dubya to issue a pardon for DeLay with an election imminent, or risk DeLay cutting a deal in exchange for telling where all the (hopefully figurative) bodies are buried.

And you know Dubya will pardon him--he thinks god has made him invincible.

Mine must be lost in the mail. Also today:

Mayor Nickels's election year 'non-campaign' campaign mailing--using tax dollars

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Posted April 7, 2005
Change home page, alter reality Link This

Last week we noted how Sound Transit has taken its Long Range Plan off its website, deleted inconvenient language (i.e., promises) and issued drafts of a "revised" version, apparently hoping no one would notice.

Now we point out a sincere form of flattery over at ST's more elevated cousin, the Seattle Monorail Project. Just like, the SMP's has also undergone a makeover. And it has something missing too: gone is the little box that proclaimed "X days until Opening Day December 15, 2007".

The 2007 opening, of a short initial segment, was abandoned by the SMP last summer. Today, if you dig hard enough in the FAQs, you'll find a timeline (see how fast you can find it—no Googling!) that shows the "Monorail Green Line open and operational" sometime in 2009.

There's nothing embarrassing about 2009; that's when the full line has always been scheduled to open. If SMP were committed to that date, you'd think they'd keep the web site's Opening Day box and just update it to 2009. If they were committed to it. If not, the little box becomes a smudge on SMP's rose colored glasses.

And so today's news that SMP may delay the monorail's opening a year comes as no shock. Director Joel Horn says it may have to borrow more than planned (maybe $190 million more), but that the lone bidding group, Cascadia Monorail, has committed to a firm, "bonded" construction price—but the amount is a secret! Can you call it a commitment if you keep it secret? Honey, I'm going to make an honest woman out of you—just don't tell anyone.

International diplomacy is a proper arena for secret negotiations. A public works project needs no such dispensation—unless Cascadia has The Bomb.

New monorail could be delayed a year

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Posted April 6, 2005
Today's Choreographed Scare

Because who needs a bond market or Full Faith & Credit?—

Bush calls Social Security trust fund '"just IOUs" in a filing cabinet.' (NPR, choose audio)

Let's Call it 'Travelscam®.' Seattle law firm Preston Gates & Ellis tied to DeLay ethics investigation—

A 3rd DeLay Trip Under Scrutiny
Will be played by Henry Czerny in the movie

Fair's Fair: If Frist gets to change Senate rules to make it easier to end Democratic filibusters, then House Democrats ought to be able to override Presidential vetoes with a simple majority too.

Who Else Doesn't Get It Today. What other politician phoned a Seattle charity, asking to be comped to its fundraising breakfast?

Also today: The Spicoli Doctrine

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Posted April 4, 2005
More news involving feeding tubes

I like a well-prepared foie gras--thick cut, not quite as firm as jello, and lightly seared. I'm also choosy about where the ducks and geese come from. For me, they have to be Free Range and Natural, if not Organic. This is the standard for all the meat I buy. It's better for the animals, results in a better quality product, and is consumer action that pressures more in the industry to adopt humane practices.

So it's been with some dismay that I've been reading that the loonier of my fellow lefties are using distortion to further the cause of a foie gras ban. Activists (vegans, probably) say the foie gras-ization of liver is cruel. Restaurants are being pressured to stop serving it; bans have been enacted in some nations and US states. Governor Ah-nold, who once pumped up his own self by artificial methods, has just signed a law that could extend the ban to California in 2012.

Two problems with the pro-ban argument.

First, it is claimed there is force-feeding, that it is cruel to force enormous amounts of food into the gullet. But have you ever seen ducks or geese in the park walk away from free food? They just don't stop eating. Furthermore, I've seen seagulls swallow entire flounders whole. Birds can indulge this way because the anatomy of their throats makes it possible. Why? Evolution.

Second, if there is a ban on growing a bird specifically for a fatty liver, this opens the door to bans on any type of farming based on politically-targeted practices, instead of the existence of cruelty. Keeping ducks in pens? Hey, that interferes with their migratory instincts. Breed a cow specifically to produce Kobe-style beef? Sorry, that's got to be cruel.

Here's my animal-rights compromise. Keep watchdogging all farms for provable inhumane practices, and study bird anatomy. Meanwhile, I will continue to seek out Cage Free/Natural/Organic foie gras. In fact, to further the cause of humane farming I resolve to eat more of the stuff. And I have this recipe for organic turkey liver paté with bourbon...

Why are vegetarians and vegans so concerned about meat anyway? They don't eat it. If I were them, I would be up in arms about engineered, hybridized soybeans. Don't they know that many allergies and digestive disorders are thought to be caused by varieties of grains and vegetables that did not exist during human evolution?

Article: Foie gras leaves activists with a bad taste
Site: Sonoma Foie Gras
Google: food allergies/disorders, hybrid grains and evolution (less than 600 hits)

Who Doesn't Get It Today. What politician phoned a Seattle charity, asking to be comped to the group's fundraising breakfast?

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Posted April 1, 2005
Ford to scrap Volvo name Link This

(Detroit) Six years after acquiring Swedish automaker Volvo, Ford Motor Co. will be giving the brand a complete makeover—starting with the name. In a splashy media event held at Detroit's Renaissance Center and beamed live to Volvo headquarters in Goteborg, Sweden, Ford CEO Bill Ford Jr. announced Ford's Volvo subsidiary would be renamed Fjord.

"We chose 'Fjord' because it embodies everything that is best about Volvo," Ford said. "It conjures in people's minds the outdoors, depth, grace, and pristine beauty--and as solid as a glacier-carved cliff. In short, the hopes and dreams we all have to discover unspoiled country and explore it by automobile."

Auto industry analysts gave thumbs up to the change. "Bill Ford has turned the company around since becoming CEO in 2001," said Todd Lassa, Detroit editor for Motor Trend magazine. "He's reenergized the Ford line and proven he can remake the old, such as the Mustang and Thunderbird, as well as come up with something new like the Escape hybrid. He'll do the same for Volvo." Lassa said.

Aaron Robinson of Car & Driver agreed. "Fjord is a solid choice, it definitely suggests the environment. People who drive gas guzzlers but feel guilty about it will be the target market," said Robinson. "In many ways it's similar to the naming strategy used by Toyota, which named the Tacoma small pickup so as to evoke clean, mountain air," he said.

Sweden watchers were not so sure. "It's like Liv Ullman changing her name to Britney," said Assistant Prof. Rembert Hueser of the Department of German, Scandinavian and Dutch at the University of Minnesota. "Volvo is as much a part of Swedish cultural identity as lutefisk, the King and Bergman. To take it away or rename it is a slap in the face. What's next, a Steven Spielberg remake of The Seventh Seal?"

Ford stock was down 3% today in early trading.

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