February 2006

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PRT Is a Joke
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Posted February 24, 2006
Master & servant

Seattle Animal Control is holding a Fabulous Felines cat adoption event tomorrow, Feb. 25th, at the Miller Community Center (330 - 19th Ave E).
You WILL bow down before me.

Check it out, and maybe a discriminating cat will allow you to take it home. Do it for the love. Do it for the late-night hairball alerts, the dead birds on your doorstep, and the ankle scars. Do it for the fur-covered duvets. Do it because there are veterinarians with student loans to repay. Do it because digital photography means you can take as many cat pictures as needed, without having to pay for film processing.

Also: Ports deal bigger than previously reported.

(UPI) A United Arab Emirates government-owned company is poised to take over port terminal operations in 21 American ports, far more than the six widely reported.
...P&O Ports North America, which leases terminals for the import and export and loading and unloading and security of cargo in 21 ports, 11 on the East Coast, ranging from Portland, Maine to Miami, Florida, and 10 on the Gulf Coast, from Gulfport, Miss., to Corpus Christi, Texas, according to the company's Web site.

Marc Maron's new show is now scheduled to debut Feb. 28 at 10pm, on KTLK (Los Angeles). Let's hope their audio stream is working.

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Posted February 23, 2006
Still crony after all these years

The more I hear about the Dubai Ports World deal, the surer I am that the impact on port security is not the main thing we should be worrying about.

It's putting liberals in the negative position, The Arabs are coming to control our ports! I've listened to the rhetoric and read the research, and my gut still tells me there is nothing (yet) to definitively link this company to terrorism. Whereas Prime Minister Bush gets to take the reassuring high ground: Don't worry, 'Merica, I won't let anyone hurt you. Listen to this report from NPR this morning; tell me the Rove spin machine isn't humming on this.

In fact, I'm convinced that the Bushies are perfectly happy to engage the left on these terms, because I don't think they would have responded as they did during the first 24-36 hours if they weren't confident the deal could be defended on security grounds.

The real issue, the central reason the DPW deal reeks is the same as with FEMA, the same as with Energy, the same as with Medicare D, and on and on: it's the cronyism. I'm glad the left started talking about it more yesterday. It's Treasury Secretary John Snow. It's Maritime Administrator David Sanborn. Like everything else with the Resmuglicans, it's the money.

That's why most Tamestream Media® stories aren't really emphasizing Snow or Sanborn. The newscorps are still defining the controversy as Security. It's up to the independent media, it's up to Air America, it's up to blogs to keep digging, and keep attacking on the crony angle.

Sanborn, DPW exec, nominated (UAE item)
Port of Entry
(Frank Gaffney)
Carlyle Group sold some port ops to DPW in 2004
Carlyle buys Snow's CSX for $300M, sells for $650M
Blarchive: Do be Dubai do

Also: The property taxes on my crappy 880-square-foot one-bedroom bungalow are up 23% over last year.

Let me see if I understand this correctly. If KPTK preempts "The Randi Rhodes Show" for WSU Cougar sports, as it seems to do at least twice a week, and I can't stay up for the 11 pm online repeat, my only alternative now is to buy the podcast at Air America Premium? Hasn't Danny Goldberg heard of advertising supported podcasts?

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Posted February 21, 2006
Do be Dubai do

Some caution, fellow liberals, on the borderline hysteria cropping up in connection with Dubai Ports World acquisition of Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation. I know we are eager to be strong on domestic security, but we must choose carefully when pointing fingers.

Yes, Dubai seemed very popular with the 9/11 hijackers. Two lived there. They used Dubai as a transit point. Using the airport shouldn't cast suspicion on Dubai and the United Arab Emirates though, especially since, on at least once occasion, the UAE authorities detained, questioned and released a 9/11-connected suspect, at the request of the CIA. The Agency denies this--so to me (pending further evidence) it's a wash.

Yes, U.S. port security needs to be a concern. But as we know port security is spotty now and, as pointed out by georgia10 at Daily Kos, foreign companies already are heavily involved in the American maritime industry (including port operations). So we need to keep demanding better security. We should even make a big deal about the "selling off of America," as Thom Hartmann called it this morning (which is a more important issue, since it involves more than just ports and shipping). But we have to be consistent and rational. To suddenly get bent out of shape when it's Dubai smacks of racism.

Dubai seems to be one place where jihadists go to transact business. But wait--Dubai is a banking center. We can't assume on this basis that Dubai is officially aiding terrorists, that would be like saying Switzerland harbors corporate criminals. We go after the criminals, not the Swiss banks, and we don't stop the Swiss from doing business in the U.S.

The biggest reason an official Dubai connection to terrorism doesn't make sense to me, intuitively, is that it would run counter to the Emirates' economic interests. Have you seen what Dubai looks like now? They are remaking themselves as a modern center for finance, business services and tourism. All the tourists, all the dollars and euros, all the U.S. and European companies doing business there, would evaporate if Dubai were to be linked to terror. If anything, Dubai's westernization makes it a target for jihadists. The biggest port security risk would seem to be how much profit Ports World shareholders are willing to give up to pay for port security. Again, nothing to do with the company's Arab-ness, but rather a U.S. policy question--what steps are Congress and the White House going to take to prevent terrorism, no matter which companies are running the ports and airports?

What should be of interest in this story is that cronyism is again a factor: in January Prime Minister Bush appointed David Sanborn, a former executive with Dubai Ports World, to head the US Maritime Administration of the Transportation Department (AP, Feb. 11). The current Ports World deal was cleared by Treasury; in 2004 Sec. John Snow sold the port operations of a company he chaired to Ports World.

Debating the Dubai Deal (Daily Kos)
Complete 9/11 timeline

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Mr_Blog WeekendFebruary 17-20, 2006
Who killed Au Bouchon restaurant?

Flushing the W.C. — When walking by Wallingford Center, like me you've probably thought What, ANOTHER vacancy?. Or maybe But I LOVED that shop/restaurant etc., I can't believe it's gone.

It's been a puzzle to me for years the reason why the well-located building at N 45th & Wallingford Avenue would have such high turnover in its commercial tenants. "Rents keep going up," is what Wallingfordians have been saying for several years.

The culprit, says one neighborhood resident, is the Center's management company, Lorig Associates.

Interlaken School... closed in 1981, and was reopened in 1985 as Wallingford Center, a mixed living and commercial space with 24 top-floor apartments and 38,000 square feet on the main floor and in the daylight basement for retail stores and restaurants. Source

...Lorig Associates was ...granted a 99-year lease (by the Seattle School District) to preside over the property. Source

Lorig's 99-year contract to manage the Center for the Seattle Public Schools had an interesting clause. At the end of a 20-year period, Lorig would have the option to buy the property outright from the District--at pennies on the dollar--if the property was underperforming economically. Such a clause wouldn't make sense if Lorig were only the management company. Lorig was in fact a partner, investing millions in converting the building from school to retail/residential. The county currently values the site at $5,266,800 land value $637,500 improvements (which seems really low for a classic school building).

Our source, a Wallingford resident who has followed the Center's travails, believes that the 'escape clause' gave Lorig every incentive to NOT make the retail portion of the Center a success, to create as much revenue-killing instability as possible by raising rents, churning tenants and keeping a high vacancy rate. For the most recent year, the School District received only $67,545 in Wallingford Center lease revenue. That's equal to only one percent of the current valuation.

1985 + 20 = 2005, and Lorig could now prepare to exercise its option to buy Wallingford Center. Last year rents rose again and the stream of exiting tenants became a Katrina-magnitude flood. More than a dozen businesses left by August, including Imagination Toys and Au Bouchon, for my money the best French bistro in town. Shortly after, simmering merchants and neighbors confronted the head Lorig, Bruce, in a September meeting The Stranger described as "rowdy". Our source called that characterization

"a little tame... Mr. Lorig was visibly shaken by the anger of the neighborhood; I think he was planning on a nice little PR session. He looked like either a liar or a fool, depending upon how you interpreted his remarks."

Tenants won some rent discounts the following month, but one doubts those came out of Lorig's end.

A $3 million makeover began last summer, which now appears to be winding down. Most of the shop windows on the Wallingford Avenue side are empty. A huge new For Lease sign may indicate Lorig is staying the course, but our Wallingford resident says different:

"At the neighborhood meeting in September, Mr. Lorig had emphatically said that his company was not planning to convert the building to condos, or to bring in a major retailer. However, at a Wallingford Chamber of Commerce meeting in December, he said that Lorig [Associates] was "very excited" about either possibility."

This is not an isolated case: Lorig turned to so-called "public/private partnerships" to save his bacon during the construction downturn of the late 80s. In a similar purchase option deal, by which Lorig gained ownership of the old Queen Anne High School, the School District's cut was a mere 12% of the property's value. How much is the School District going to give up if it sells Wallingford Center to Lorig?

Who is responsible for this giveaway of a nearly-$6 million public asset? Here are the questions for investigators:

  • Who negotiated the original agreements with Lorig?
  • What relationship (if any) did they have to Lorig?
  • Where are they now?
  • What oversight--if any--does the School District exercise over Lorig and the property?
  • What are the exact terms of the lease agreement between Lorig and the School District?
  • If you put your ear to the ground, you can hear the approaching thunder of luxury condos and you-can't-afford-it haute boutiques.

    This story will continue.

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    Posted February 16, 2006
    The Bitterest Pill

    I also take responsibility for making decisions on... intelligence that led me to come to the conclusion that it was necessary to remove Saddam Hussein from power. -G.W. Bush, 7-30-2006

    I take full responsibility for the decisions. -Tony Blair, 8-28-2003

    Katrina exposed serious problems... to the extent that the federal government didnít fully do its job right, I take responsibility. -G.W. Bush, 9-13-2005

    I'm accountable and accept responsibility for the performance of the entire department. -Michael Chertoff, 2-15-2006

    I am the guy who pulled the trigger. -Dick Cheney 2-15-2006

    Ever feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders? Major decisions getting you down? Do you feel like your every misstep is closely scrutinized? Hi! I'm Peter Graves for Responsibility, the new anxiety-reducing medication from Neoconpharm®.

    Scientists at Neoconpharm have spent years developing Responsibility as the powerful new drug for making criticisms over petty concerns like faulty intelligence, disaster relief, and alcohol-related hunting accidents seem like feathers floating on a warm summer breeze.

    Normally, guilt is caused when the brain's Judgement Center releases Irresponsibility chemicals, which are picked up by Accountability receptors. The result is a sudden chilling effect accompanied by immobility, followed by the urge to promise a full investigation and appear on "Larry King Live" for the full hour. Serious attacks of guilt have been known to lead to Oprah.

    Responsibility works naturally, by putting your body's own chemistry to work! When you take a full or partial dose of Responsibility, it blocks your Accountability receptors. Lacking stimulation, the receptors enlarge the Rationalization pathways to the short and long term memory centers, altering your recollection of who did what and when, and to whom. When you take Responsibility you are able to relax, identify fault lying with other people, and your anxiety is relieved.

    So do what some of the most powerful world leaders do: take Responsibility!

    Avoid operating mountain bikes, shotguns, nuclear footballs or economies when taking Responsibility.
    Stop taking Responsibility if you experience side effects like Consequences.
    Responsibility may cause denial.
    Consult your Attorney General before taking Responsibility

    Responsibility, ©2006 Neoconpharm, a Cayman Islands corporation.

    Alexander Hamilton Commits Suicide (Salon)
    Also today: Time for a Judy Nicastro comeback

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    Posted February 14, 2006
    Dear Leader
    by Kim Jong Il

    Dear Leader,
    A friend and I have known each other for a long time. He's been one of my biggest fundraisers and an important party leader. This of course means he knows all my secrets, and because of my low self esteem I can't stay with anyone who keeps reminding me of my faults. Especially now, when I'm already the most unpopular politician on three continents. I tried to quit him on Saturday, but it didn't go well. Now my main man is very angry. What should I do?
    Signed, Dick.

    Dear Dick:
    What the hell has happened to you??? You've always been my favorite Machiavellian power monger, but based on your recent record we're going to take away your stripes at the next lodge meeting. The number one rule of any behind-the-throne puppetmaster is Damage Control, and the second is Erase the Evidence. You've violated both rules.

    First, you didn't intimidate the press into sweeping the Texas Funeral Service Commission scandal under the endangered bearskin rug. Any idiot with a computer, other than in North Korea, can look up dirty laundry on you and your friend. It doesn't take much advertising to keep even a shoestring counterrevolutionary agitprop website going. And don't even get me started on the bloggers! Blogging requires little or no cash at all--how can the hard-working proletariat believe anything that comes from such cash-poor information sources? This is further evidence that free markets and dictatorships don't mix. Hey, that should be a puppetmaster rule too.

    Second, why is this "friend" still breathing smoggy air? "Ventiliating" someone is supposed to be a euphemism! You were out in the middle of nowhere surrounded by party members and your own secret police, conditions don't get much more controlled than that. It was even your finger on the nonmetaphorical trigger! I just added the existing box sets of "The Sopranos" to my video library, and if they've taught me anything it's this: when you decide to make someone disappear they need to stay disappeared. And never date a woman who reminds you of your mother. Also, never give orders through your nephew if he's a smack junkie.

    Pull yourself together. You're the consigliere. Your main man counts on you.

    Coming soon: Movie-lover Kim Jong Il goes on the road to the 78th annual Academy Awards.

    Blarchives: Dear Leader by Kim Jong Il

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    Posted February 13, 2006
    Video of shooting accident

    Cheney steps up war on lawyers
    U.S. Vice-President accidentally shoots hunting buddy

          Dick Cheney, the Vice-President of the United States, accidentally shot and wounded a 78-year-old hunting buddy while hunting at a Texas ranch this weekend.
          Mr. Cheney, 65, was out with friends at a private ranch in Kenedy County late on Saturday afternoon when he accidentally sprayed an elderly companion with shotgun pellets at about 5:30 p.m.
          "It appears he was peppered with a shotgun while hunting for quail," Peter Banko, an administrator at Christus Spohn Hospital Memorial, said in an interview.
          "He was turning, facing the Vice-President, but turning to the right, and it sprayed him across the right side of his face, his shoulder, his chest and along the rib cage area," [ranch owner Katharine Armstrong] said. Source

    (WMV format)

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    Posted February 8, 2006
    Easy being green

    Last week I mentioned I was participating in Open Space Seattle's Green Futures charrette (Feb. 3-4). The problem in writing about such an event is that there is just plain too much to write about.

    What was impressive was the community crossection. Planner and architect types were represented, but average citizens and activists dominated the teams, which were divided according to geography. The visions that were put on paper were amazing, showing the degree to which Seattlites have clear, creative ideas about what they want the city to look like.

    At first some aspects of these visions seemed very conventional: trees and water? Attractive homes with character? Walkable neighborhoods? Neighborhood focal points? Recreation? Yes, we all want that. But that so many see these things as still a vision shows the degree to which large portions of Seattle still lack these basic needs. Or the degree to which we have lost them, which I guess is the point. But there was also a rich vein of outside-the-box thinking: how can you argue with a Sodo lagoon, Salmon Superhighway, or Champs d'Aurora?

    It was also interesting how people view technology and what is, will be, or could be possible (or desirable) in the future. Remember, the charrette asked us to plan for the next 100 years. And yet many of the design concepts still showed today's tech: freeways, light rail, and the classic street grid. But imaginative ways were found to give people easier access to shorelines, such as funiculars and gondolas. One sketch showed a futuristic elevated "transport conduit" replacing I-5 by 2100; the conduit would run along the tops of artificial hills (which would have homes and parks), freeing up the land now occupied by freeway. Personal Rapid Transit even made two appearances, one team calling it "transit pods," while my team called it a "light peoplemover network."

    Luckily, pictures are still worth a thousand words (850 words Canadian):

    Official charrette photo albums

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    Posted February 6, 2006
    Party Line

    On the phone, Frances and Yola learn about the National Security State:

    Yola: ...So anyway, my daughter-in-law Ruthie brought the most interesting vegetable dish to Sunday dinner.
    Frances: Is she the one who takes cooking classes at the community center?
    Yola: That's the one. What she brought were some kind of greens, kale or chard, mixed with nuts, sun tried tomato, and shallots.
    Frances: Oh, I like shallots.
    Yola: So do I, you betcha. But there was something else, something tangy. I don't know what it was.
    Frances: I bet it was the tomato. Or tomato sauce.
    Yola: No, I don't think so. I know, I'll ask Steve!
    Frances: Who's Steve?
    Yola: Steve is my War Against Terror® Fone Friend.
    Frances: Fone Friend? What's that?
    Yola: It's a person from the Federal Government who's there for you, whether you know it or not. Right, Steve?
    Steve: That's right, Yola.
    Frances: Oh my goodness.
    Yola: Steve is one of the nice young people who listen to my phone calls to protect me from the Evildoers.
    Steve: I'm here to serve. And the answer to your question: tamarind paste.
    Yola: Tamarind paste! Of course!
    Steve: By the way Yola, some al Qaeda terrorists escaped from a prison in Yemen. You haven't heard from any of them, have you?
    Yola: Oh my. No, I sure haven't.
    Frances: I haven't eith-
    Steve: That's okay Frances, Gina already told me you have nothing to hide.
    Frances: Is Gina-
    Gina: I sure am, Frances! Your new Fone Friend, that is!
    Frances: Well it's very nice to meet you, young lady.
    Gina: Likewise! By the way, your prescription is ready for pick up at Wal-Mart. You know, I think you should ask your doctor whether you should go up to 20 milligrams.
    Frances: Really? I'll be sure to mention that to him. Thank you.
    Gina: Anytime, Frances.
    Yola: Well, I have to go now, I'm picking up my grandson from his swimming lesson.
    Frances: All right, I'll call you later. Goodbye Yola.
    Yola: Goodbye Frances.
    Gina: Goodbye Frances.
    Frances: Goodbye Gina
    Yola: Goodbye Gina.
    Gina: 'Bye Yola! Hope your grandson made it to Dolphin level!
    Steve: Goodbye Frances! Goodbye Yola.
    Frances: Goodbye Steve.
    Yola: Goodbye Steve. Thanks for everything.
    Steve: No problem. I'll be listening.

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    Posted February 2, 2006
    The Pendulum

    First, a swing... to the right. After reading the Weekly's history of the Discovery Institute's five-year plan to kill evolution, I can only repeat my call for Discovery to be systematically shunned and shut-out by local governments and the civic activism network.

    Then, a swing... to the left. Friday and Saturday I will be participating in Open Space Seattle 2100's Green Futures charrette. The goal is to create a bold, integrated 100-year plan for a citywide network of open space--envisioning a healthier, livable Seattle that balances our economic, social and ecological sustainability.

    If the exercise is as productive and interesting as I expect it to be, perhaps an event journal will appear here next week.

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    Posted February 1, 2006
    State Of The Union SG-1

    Did he know where he was? Was he drinking? That was one of the strangest State of the Unions ever, the time has finally arrived where not even Prime Minister Bush's best speechwrights could cover for the fact that he has lost touch with reality. Or the reality that he has lost touch with fact. One of those, you choose. Some excerpts, from my notes:

    "Health care. We're going to re-FORM the health care SYStem, in order to make it more re-spon-sive to the MAR-ket and pre-SERVE CHOICE. Accordingly, I urge Congress to act to expand Med-i-cal Savings AcCOUNTS, to give 'Mericans the CHOICE to spend MORE of their OWN money on their health care. Wait for applause."
    < clip >
    "The e-conomy is growing and we have created millions of jobs. Those jobs are in India, China and Malaysia, and 'mericans should send in their resumays. Travel. See the world."
    < clip >
    "In the days after September the Leventh, I authorized our intelligence community to perform surveillance of international phone calls between 'Mericans and Terence. Now this is contervershal. Opponents say it is against FISA. Well FISA, that was in 1978. We're discussing this in 2006--different world. Fighting Terence in the different world means we hafta go back to the rules of 1977. Or 1973. 72."
    < clip >
    "One of the people enjoying their new freedom is with us tonight. Mr. Faruz Ga-mal al-Rahman is the first Iraqi perFORMance ar-tist. In his three hour one man show Mr. Rahman dips his entire nekkid body in purple ink, to sym-bo-lize the full-bodied exercising of Iraqi de-MO-cracy."
    < clip >
    "We are too adDICted to oi-el. Addiction is sumpin I know about. Plus, the oi-el comes from destabled parts of the world. I destabilizered these places, and during that hard work one thing became abunnantly clear. We need more alcohol. Based fuel."

    See what I mean? Drinking! It got to be so unwatchable, I switched over to the Food Network for a while.

    When I switched back to the State of the Union things had gotten even weirder: Bush, now wearing an Air Force general's uniform, was ordering some kind of commando team into a secret wormhole space-portal contraption. It seems he thinks Earth is being threatened by religious fundamentalist space aliens called "Ori," who want to subjugate the galaxy to their will so they can live off our bio-energy. Luckily there are many other alien races out there helping in this struggle--chief among which are the "Ja'fa," a former slave race which overthrew their masters, the "Goa'uld."

    The big surprise is that Colin Powell is Ja'Fa! His real name is Tealc, and he has a neato golden tattoo in the middle of his forehead. He is engaged in a delicate diplomatic initiative to unite a Ja'Fa alliance. So I guess that's the only aspect of Bush foreign policy that is working.

    It seems American space-commando teams are going through wormholes all the time on intelligence gathering and combat missions. None of these activities are authorized, can you find any Congressional approval on the Web? Because I can't. Such a program must cost billions, and still Bush insists on making the tax cuts permanent.

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    There are 2 comments
    Kim Jong Il
    February 17, 2006 - 03:50
    Subject: re: Dear Leader

    Dear Kvatch:

    Imperialist dogs have only so many teeth, you can make this work for you.

    First, recruit a disgruntled exile to be your disinformation conduit--for the sake of discussion let's call him "Bahmed Balabi." You give him a neato code name like "Spitball." Imperialists love the sports motif--bread & circuses and all that. Spitball tells them that a country they don't like has... aluminum centrifuge tubes; nerve gas; mobile gas labs; precursors. It doesn't matter which country, so long as it's not YOUR country.

    The imperialists invade that country--"Biraq," let's say--and get bogged down in a quagmire. They can't invade you, all their forces are committed.

    Then if they try to start an air war against you, all you need to do is get OPEC to cut off their petroleum. If you have them by the barrels, their hearts and minds will follow.

    -The Kimster

    February 16, 2006 - 13:53
    Subject: Dear Leader,

    I have acquired sufficient plutonium to provide fuel for many nuclear bo--uhhh--power plants, that will only be used for peaceful purposes. How can I prevent the imperialist dogs from bombing my country back into the stone age?



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