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October 2006

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This Month:

2 Patent Pending
9 Stardate: Oct Surprise
16 Press release of the day
17 Malcolm Gladwell in Seattle
18 D'oh!
23 Weep not for Raj Manhas
26 Another one for the toolkit
27 Mean streets
29 Homophone of the year
30 Also ran


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Posted October 30, 2006
Also ran

Ehhhlection '06
Part II of a series of unknown length

One of the things I detest about elective politics are spoilers, and the other is complete no-hopers.

On the ballot: US Rep, WA-7
Mr_Blog votes: McDermott

The sane ones are running on principle. Linnea S. Noreen, running for Congress as an independent in the 7th District, is sane. Unfortunately any logic she possesses doesn't come across in her campaign.

Noreen slams Jim McDermott as ineffective, saying the incumbent picks issues he is unlikely to win, and then doesn't create alliances to make them happen. This is really the only claim we need to examine in order to give Noreen the thumbs-down.

In the 18 years McDermott has been in the House, which party has enforced iron-fisted control over legislation for the last 11 of those years? Pick an issue: how about single payer universal health insurance? It's the right thing to do--and McDermott is a doctor, so it's right that it's his #1 issue. But when the Rs frustrate his efforts, would Noreen have McDermott just give up and move on? Would she have compromised with the majority? Would any single payer compromise acceptable to the GOP be a plan worth having? McDermott fights for what we need, and he should be admired and rewarded for it.

What else would Noreen have done differently? Let Newt Gingrich get away with violating the terms of his ethics settlement? Shut up about Iraq instead of calling Dubya on his deception? 'Compromised' on giving military recruiters access to schoolchildren? Would she have 'done more' for Seattle but less for Africa, another McDermott area of interest?

The fact is that McDermott reflects the views of the majority of the district, and provides excellent constituent service. He is not phony, slick or packaged. He is a lightning rod, but what's wrong with that? The lightning he's catching are attacks from neocon types. It's a sign he is doing his job, and not selling out his beliefs as others might do after nine terms in office.

The best things you can say about Noreen is that she is certainly earnest and well-spoken, and has a good chance of coming in second ahead of token Resmuglican Steve Beren. With a Democratic majority almost a lock and Sunny Jim poised to lead a Ways & Means subcommittee, this year would be a stupid time to remove Jim McDermott from office.

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Posted October 29, 2006
Homophone of the year

Cloudy &
Halliburton -3
Aegis -1.50
Carlyle -2.35

Published every Tuesday in the Green Zone

Iraq IRS inaugurates new Pay By Phone system. "It's so simple, any idiot head of state can use it to pay his occupation taxes," said an IIRS spokesman.
Public approves of a tax on U.S. troops
"This should pay for reconstruction in no time," crows al-Maliki.

(Baghdad) About six in 10 Iraqis say they approve of a tax on U.S.-led forces, and slightly more than that want their government to ask U.S. troops to leave within a year, a poll finds.
The Iraqis also have negative views of Osama bin Laden, according to the early September poll of 1,150. The poll, done for University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes, found:
• Almost four in five Iraqis say coverage of Lindsay Lohan provokes more violence than it prevents.
• About 61% approved of the tax -- up from 47% in January. A solid majority of Shiite and Sunni Arabs approved of the tax, according to the poll. The increase came mostly among Shiite Iraqis.
• Only 13% are enjoying the new fall TV season, with NBC's "Heroes" a rare bright spot among ratings disappointments such as "Studio 60" and "The Nine."
Please turn to D2

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Seattle Night Time Begins *
Posted October 27, 2006

Mean streets

Ehhhlection '06
Part I of a series of unknown length

Keep Seattle Moving (neé Bridge The Gap) has problems, but vote Yes anyway.

The problems with Prop. 1 are

On the ballot: Seattle Prop. 1
Mr_Blog votes: Yes

annoying. In a mailing targeted to northwest Seattle, transportation heaven on Earth is promised, even though the measure's funding will be divvied up city-wide.

  • A map promises new sidewalks "north of NW 85th St.", although the arrow points to North 85th. That Aurora, Greenwood, Dayton, Phinney and other streets are incorrectly labeled "NW" is further evidence of inattention to detail.
  • The cover promises "improved transit service", but on the inside it turns out that really means improved transit corridors. In other words, lane additions/improvements for BRT and traffic, not actual bus service (that's covered by King County Prop. 2--also a Yes). So, another labeling error.
  • Sure, the website promises to "double Seattle's annual investment in sidewalks, trails, and walkways". But this is a case of doubling the number of peanuts-- it's still peanuts. New sidewalks are costing $250,000+ per block; curbs and storm drains are not always included in the estimate.
  • Repairing 360 miles of streets??? Not while there continue to be neighborhoods with no pedestrian facilities!
  • The whole issue of pedestrian safety is something at which elected officials have utterly failed. What it calls for are not feel-good, ineffectual traffic circles, but rather a fundamental policy change. A new section of the traffic code needs to be created covering residential streets that do not have pedestrian facilities. On such streets, speed limits and rules of the road would be altered so as to shift the balance of power toward feet and away from vehicles. We need this kind of policy revolution, because reliance on enforcement and the driver licensing system is not working. But more on this another time.

    Basically, Seattle Prop. 1 is about paying extra for what should be basic needs, such as sidewalks, minor street repairs, street signs and crosswalk paint.

    If I had to do it my way, I'd put each item in the Prop. 1 wishlist on the ballot as a series of mini-propositions, each one adding an increment to the levy rate. I would vote Yes on bridges, Yes on paint 'n' pavement for feet and bikes, No on pavement for motor vehicles. Create BRT lanes with paint--reduce capacity for cars, switch passengers to the bus.

    So why not vote no on Prop. 1? Because that would be stupid. Neglecting infrastructure until it becomes an emergency is the American way, and Seattlites are Americans, baby. We may disagree with the way our taxes have been spent on stadiums, streetcars and developer subsidies, but that is money over the dam.

    But seriously: for the time being special levies are what we have to use to pay for the basics. Don't sacrifice our safety: Vote Yes. Reserve punishment for the leaders who spent money on the wrong things.

    * Remember on Saturday night to turn back your clocks one hour! Resmuglicans only: turn your calendars forward one century.

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    Posted October 26, 2006
    Another one for the toolkit

    Everybody here at K Network and Mr_Blog have just concluded a glorious and hard-working focus group, facilitated by Prokim and our Capper National Laboratory division.

    We are pleased to announce the creation of a new Progressive Term. It is:

    Rectal Reference (©2006 Mr_Blog)*

    It's our new, sardonic label for truthy claims made by right-wing blowhards. Rush Limbaugh claims Michael J. Fox was faking symptoms of Parkinson's? O'Reilly says he knows the Afghanistan situation isn't deteriorating? In the past, we called such claims "pulling it out of one's butt." Or the old-fashioned term "lie."

    But now we can call them Rectal References! It's alliterative and fun!

    But Mr_Blog is not selfish--I am giving all liberals permission to use Rectal Reference completely free of charge.

    Neocons, Libertarians, LaRouchies and Utopian extremists must pay $50 per usage.

    * Rectal Reference is not endorsed by the American Medical Association

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    Posted October 23, 2006
    Weep not for Raj Manhas

    Superintendent Raj Manhas won't be seeking an extension on his current contract, but he'll have plenty of career opportunities, based on his recent success as head of Seattle Public Schools. Just a few of the job prospects awaiting him:

  • Ambassador to the UN
  • Director of FEMA
  • Undersecretary in charge of Iraq Reconstruction
  • Pentagon official for anti-Taliban activities
  • Group Facilitator, multilateral talks on North Korea nuclear proliferation
  • Stage manager for the Jerry Springer Show
  • Vice Principal for Lunchroom, Pathfinder K-8 or Cooper Elementary
  • Arrivaderci, Raj. But who to replace him? Somebody to carry on Manhas's legacy, yet complements the strengths of the School Board. You know: taking decisive action, and never forgetting the organization's #1 priority. I nominate Bill Bavasi.

    Also today: Dry pants for Sen. Talent, please (video)

    Permalink | Comment

    Posted October 18, 2006

    Some now-obvious reasons for some of the Bush Misadministration's biggest disasters:

  • Osama: not an attorney.
  • Didn't send Foreign Relations Committee thank you notes in 2005.
  • Didn't alert DHS to the Pretzel Threat
  • Should have included hurricanes in Axis of Evil.
  • Instead of signing statements, should have crossed fingers (just like the Oath of office).
  • Should have met with Cindy Sheehan. In retrospect, "24" marathon just not that important (could have been rented anytime at Blockbuster).
  • Didn't give Bob Woodward the "Armstrong Williams deal."
  • Iraq reconstruction: Forgot to cut taxes for richest 1% of Iraqis.
  • Follow-up on Oct. 9: I wasn't far off.

    Permalink | Comment

    Posted October 17, 2006
    Malcolm Gladwell in Seattle, 10/10/2006

    How do you solve a major societal problem? At last week's Plymouth Housing Group annual luncheon (attendance 900) the subject was homelessness. But guests who were present to hear featured speaker Malcolm Gladwell ("The Tipping Point"; The New Yorker) took away valuable lessons for all activists, no matter what their area of interest: how some of the major accomplishments of the last century happened, without the blessing of major political or economic forces.

    Gladwell used a number of compelling examples to illustrate how transformative change occurs. People who have the ability to effect such change don't have to have political power, or economic power. What they do have to have is social power. They bridge many social groups, they know people who know people and can get things done.

    Plymouth's elevator-talk mission is to end homelessness in ten years. A nice soundbite. But Gladwell challenged his audience to look past the conventional wisdom.

    Gladwell stresses that conventional thinking can be an impediment to solutions. Using this razor, Gladwell made Plymouth's mission scale down to a manageable size.

    The conventional wisdom frames homelessness as a huge and intractable problem. Gladwell cited a study of homelessness in New York City that showed, in fact, that there were only 2500 homeless without families, support structures and homeless all year round.

    Second old frame: Homelessness is cheaper to manage than solve. Wrong: the homeless utilize expensive emergency medicine; a typical annual cost per person can be $50,000-100,000. (More on this)

    The third old frame: Solving homelessness is a moral obligation. Gladwell disagrees: it's practical--for homeless people can still make a contribution to society.

    Another example involves David Sarnoff, who was perhaps most responsible for the success of commercial radio. Up to then, radio had not been going well. Sarnoff's bosses, the conventional thinkers, had been trying for years to make radio a success. They had been saying, you SHOULD buy this big giant box of tubes because it will bring you news. A poor sales pitch--in those days cities had six daily papers and a newsboy on every corner.

    Sarnoff was not a bigwig at RCA. The management didn't know who he was. He had no budget. But he had social power: he knew people who knew people who could get him a transmitter; he knew a guy who knew a guy who could talk about boxing; he had salesmen who could get radios setup in public places. He was able to take those inputs and transform them into the world's first live radio sports broadcast. It was 1921.

    Management didn't get the point of Sarnoff's live broadcast. Their attitude was What good could that possibly do? In fact, people for the first time saw what radio was good for--it brought the world to into their living rooms. People started buying radios. In the succeeding year, 1,100 companies entered the radio business.

    Another example: Fall of the Berlin Wall.

    The old frame: It will take years, millions of dollars, and probably a war. In fact, it took a month, no (government) money, and no war. A protest erupted in Leipzig; the police for some reason did nothing. The next town over noticed, had a bigger protest, and again the police did not act. This continued until, a month later, crowds gathered in Berlin to protest, began tearing the Wall down, and the police just stood and watched.

    Our world has many serious problems, some of such magnitude that it is tempting to think them intractable. Many groups are working on solutions and each thinks its efforts, by all rights, should be successful. But it takes more than just telling people they should do A, or that B is the only way to solve a problem. Sometimes all it takes is to offer a different way of understanding the issue--reframing--to get a critical mass of opinion to agree to take action.

    Or that there is another way, C, of approaching the problem in an innovative way. Take heed, whether your issue is education, social services, the environment, transportation, or the war.

    Earlier version of the speech

    Gladwell's opening joke: When he comes to Seattle, Gladwell tells the driver to take "the back way" from the airport. In most cities, you come in on Main Street. In Seattle, you take Marginal Way.

    Also today: Did Bush's signing of the detainee/torture bill exceed the pocket veto window? Alas, no:

    The Senate passed the bill in question on September 28. But according to Thomas it wasn't actually formally presented to the president until yesterday [Oct. 10]. Source

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    Posted October 16, 2006
    Press release of the day

    glorious democratic people's republic relations
    a kimdex company
    pyongyang • tripoli • beverly hills • washington, d.c.

    Oct. 16, 2006
    Contact: Park Jong-Ril

    (Pyongyang) Kimdex Inc. today announced its entry into the designer nuclear weapons niche market.

    "Successful testing in the last two weeks has allowed our experts to verify the reliability and market-readiness of two introductory products," said Herb Walker Bush III, Kimdex's Assistant Vice President for Product Development.

    The new product line is called kim Boom238, or kBoom238 for short.

    There will be two versions for the 2007 model year: Nano, a low-yield sub-kiloton tactical device; and PlacéboMB, the world's first boutique nuke with no detectable radiation. Bush called PlacéboMB a breakthrough in deterrent technology.

    "It's perfect for the hardline dictator on a budget," said Bush. "The IAEA will never be able to verify anything. 'Do they or don't they?' That will be the question that will stymie would-be arms controllers."

    "The launching of the kBoom238 line is an exciting time. Our dealers are standing by to receive orders from private customers," Bush said. "And for a limited time, we are offering an introductory financing rate of 1% APR through Kimdex Credit Corporation," added Bush, "so we expect to see a lot of customers in our showrooms."

    About Kimdex

    For over fifty years, Kimdex has been the industry leader in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, dominating every sector of the economy including agriculture, toilet paper and military parades. Kimdex is a top exporter of counterfeit dollars, and over the years has imported a number of Japanese and South Korean citizens for reeducation. In addition, Kimdex is also a world leader in diplomatic incidents and motion picture production.

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    Posted October 9, 2006
    Stardate: Oct. Surprise

    A message from the President of the United States:

    My fellow 'Mericans. I have axed the major television networks for air time in order to speak to you about this morning's grave news. But the major networks tell me they cannot spare the time, as they are in the middle of launching their new fall seasons. And Fox has baseball. Congratulations to Sammy Sosa and the Detroit Tigers, hope you go all the way. Invite ya to the White House.

    This is why I'm appearancing to you now on Versus, the network of sports competition. I thank Versus for giving me this five minutes during "Off The Hook." Love fishing. Best moment of my Presidenting, catching that fish in my lake.

    But before I return you to the rundown of the new 2007 outboard motors, I want to provide you with the latest intelligence on the news that is no doubt on everyone's minds. It is this:

    The British Government® has learned that Islamo-fascists® are plotting to attack us with deadly asteroids.® Intelligence® tells us they are seeking materials to construct a fleet of of unmanned space-tugs.® The jihadists plan to ronday-vooz with deep-space asteroids, change their orbits, and send them on courses to crash into swing districts in the United States.

    I call upon the United Federation of Planets to authorize a resolution, promising dire truth or consequences if the Islamo-fascists® cannot prove they do not possess space-tug® technology.

    The information is troubling. The endangering is real. And our course could not be less unclear. The atmosphere no longer protects us. We must fight them in space, so we don't have to fight them here on the Earth. And we must act now, we cannot wait for the evidence, until the smoking gun comes in the shape of a giant, smoking space rock streaking across the skies.

    Thank you, and good night. Stay tuned for bronco-bustin', on "Pro Bull Riding," sponsored by Ford, later tonight only on Versus. That should be-- gotta set the Tivo.

    "Warm up the agony booths"

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    Posted October 2, 2006
    Patent Pending

    Once again, the state of Washington leads the way for the nation!

    When Resmuglicans are in trouble, what do they do? No more lawyers; no more spinmeisters. No, now they have the Mike! McGavick Defense.®

    First it was Rob Ney, and now today's fresh example: Freshly resigned Rep. Mark Foley (FL-16) has announced he has checked into alcohol rehab. In other words:

    I sent the naughty emails
    because I was drunk.

    If only Mike! could collect royalties. It would make up for the fact that Foley did not thank Mike! for showing him the way. But maybe he was drunk, and it slipped his mind.

    Let's all raise our glasses: to the Washington State Resmuglicans--Setting the Example on Personal Responsibility. *CLINK*

    Blarchive: Foster Brooks for US Senate (9/5)

    Exclusive! Mark Felt, in a meeting in an underground parking garage across the street from Chez George Allen (best venison in Northern Virginia), divulged to me Boeing's plan to safeguard America's border with Mexico. Good news is, the plan will rely on proven methods, verified over decades of use at Boeing facilities.

  • Miles and miles of cyclone fencing topped with barbed-wire.
  • Gatehouses every 300-500 yards.
  • Each gatehouse staffed by 1-2 armed rentacops.
  • No unwieldly top-down administration, gatehouse staff will be semi-autonomous: attractive females will be waved through; frequent crossers will be subjected to ID checks and searches.
  • Guestworkers must wear temp badge with expiration date prominently displayed.
  • You will walk your bike across the border, or the armed rentacop will bolt out of the guardhouse and scream at you.

    What excuse will she use?

           Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she cannot recall then-CIA chief George Tenet warning her of an impending al-Qaida attack in the United States, as a new book claims he did two months before the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
           "What I am quite certain of is that I would remember if I was told, as this account apparently says, that there was about to be an attack in the United States, and the idea that I would somehow have ignored that I find incomprehensible," Rice said. Source: AP, 10/2

    Maybe she was drunk?

    Permalink | Comment

    There are 4 comments
    October 27, 2006 - 09:10
    Subject: Another one for the toolkit

    Excellent! I'll use that.

    You can add to your list Karl Rove's reference to the his "secret pollsters," the pollsters that predict the Republicans clinging to powers, the pollsters that are targeting "value voters" when nobody else seems to be able to find them.

    Definitely a 'Rectal Reference' (c), 2006, Mr_Blog.

    Seattle Teacher
    October 24, 2006 - 08:13
    Subject: Weep not for Raj Manhas

    It's the math, stupid! These Seattle School District Administrators have driven math scores into the toilet. Raj was the ultimate "Yesman" to the School Board's moronic decision to support failing math programs at Middle School (emphasis on "fail"). His legacy? Children who will never see algebra.

    October 24, 2006 - 09:24
    Subject: Weep not for Raj Manhas

    Don't know the man, but perhaps Secretary of Defense?

    October 17, 2006 - 09:27
    Subject: Press release of the day

    Awesome! Who do I have to contact to get one?

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