Tuesday, May 31, 2005
  Tense times in River City


Tonight the City Council voted to ask Gayor West to resign. As before, there was considerable public comment and considerable smarm by the council. This time, Grand Lion Eugster got into the act.

Along with asking West to resign, Council is also amending the city charter to gain some impeachment power, because the current setup (in which council can't do anything to a mayor) clearly led to the current unresolvable mess.

Former councilman Eugster, who wrote the current charter, tried to take control of the proceedings several times, and narrowly escaped being forcibly removed.


Eugster vs the world (3 mb WMV clip, captured from public access cable a few minutes ago)


Eugster is a supreme megalomaniac, an absolute populist purist and an expert demagogue. Needless to say, he ended up comparing the council to Hitler.

Aside from the demagoguery, his basic point is simply wrong. As a defense lawyer, Eugster sees the world in terms of due process. He fundamentally misunderstands politics, which has everything to do with reputation and very little to do with due process.

West himself seems to share the same misunderstanding, from a different angle; he somehow believes that all will be okay if he can answer the charges. Trouble is, he's answering the charges on national TV, while refusing to speak to the council.

Council is ridin' for the brand, trying to preserve civilization. It doesn't matter whether a court would find West technically guilty or innocent. It doesn't matter if the Cowles newspaper acted unethically in conducting a sting (which it probably did). At this point, preserving the city requires removing West from office, and that's what the Council is trying to do by all available means.
 
  Aphasia can be fun

Listening to President, this morning's press conference on Fox.

In answer to a treasonous question implying that we should listen to the enemy organization Amnesty International, Pres said "These detainees are people who have been trained to disassemble." Wrong word? No, right word.



If this ain't some expertly trained disassemblin', I don't know what it is!

Toward the end, Pres was really on a roll. Described his job of pushing Congress as "like water cutting through rock." Great image.
 
  Room 101



Mainline conservatives generally miss the point of moral relativism. It's not just (as Rush says) to normalize folks who would otherwise feel abnormal. That's a nice unintended side effect, which holds the loyalty of the already orthodox.

As always, look to Orwell for the real point. In his essays explaining "1984", Orwell maps out the leftist method, and it has been refined considerably since then. You start by locking the target into Room 101, where he is put face-to-face with his worst fears. With poor Winston Smith, it was a cage full of hungry rats placed against his face. (For me, it would be ANTS, no doubt about it!) With modern conservatives, it's a cage full of kinky sex.

For extra spice, modern Orwellians mix in several gallons of cognitive dissonance, usually known as outing or hypocrisy detection.

If you can get the target to think "I hate this / I am this" simultaneously, you're well on the way to victory. Cognitive dissonance, simmered in a sauce of relativism, leads the mind into a flashing state of total confusion and ultimately to burnout. At that point the target has a raised razed consciousness, and is ready to be retrained (Brocked).

So the ultimate purpose is not "Anything goes." That's just the first stage, which may be enough when dealing with younger folks who have already supplied their own dissonance by natural rebellion against parental authority. After the independent mind is tenderized, it can be re-crystallized with the Party's own moral code. That's the goal. Not just to believe that 2 + 2 = 5, but to believe that
2 + 2 = [Whatever the Party says it is RIGHT NOW],
and then to generate your own slogans and reasons for believing this.

 
Monday, May 30, 2005
  .....



"Victory is not won in miles but in inches. Win a little now, hold your ground, and later win a little more." --- Louis L'Amour
 
Sunday, May 29, 2005
  An old song

The Battle Hymn of the Republican Senator
 
Friday, May 27, 2005
  Random notes

I've been short on blog this week. Been working on a little commission job for the publisher that sells my anatomy software. Nothing creative about this piece of work; it's just compiling and organizing the graphics for a book in a related field. Caused me to realize that the pure authorly life isn't entirely fun. Every now and then, plain old work for immediate pay feels good! (There's a pleasant sense of being 'in harness' that doesn't come with open-ended work.)

-----

Frugality and generic brands supposedly go together. Though I'm a full-fledged miser, I've found that store brands are usually not worth the few saved pennies. Good example of that rule last night. My living-room "night light" burned out as I was getting ready for bed, so I replaced the bulb with a store-brand. The new bulb immediately fizzled; I unscrewed it and noticed it was cracked. Placed it very gently in the wastebasket, and it shattered as soon as it touched the old bulb.

Shivers.

What if it had broken while I was unscrewing it? Would have been pure disaster. From now on I'll stick with the non-reject brands, and I'll also wear a glove when changing bulbs, even if it makes me look like the King of Pop for a few seconds.

-----

Speaking of whom, I have to wonder why he's called the King of Pop. Does anyone in this country actually listen to his songs? The last time I heard his voice coming from a car radio or a house stereo was in 1970, when he was still part of the Jackson Five.

-----

And on a related subject, an update on Spokane's Gayor West: he's still, um, gutting it out, as more and more of the establishment turns against him. The Chamber of Commerce and the Convention Bureau have publicly asked him to quit.

I simply don't understand the mind of a power-seeker. Strange mix of innocence and megalomania ... perhaps Freud would explain it as a failure to form ego boundaries, failure to realize that those other moving objects out there are separate humans, not simply extensions of The Universal Me. The power-seeker goes around saying "I am the Best Thing On Earth. You know you want me; if you don't know it yet, you will sooner or later."

Did I ever think that way? Not within memory. I've always been a cynical melancholic, fully cognizant that those other moving objects want nothing to do with me. This may not be strictly accurate, but long experience shows it to be pretty close.

-----

Newt's latest crusade is distinctly interesting. He acknowledges that he's more or less running for '08, but he's also doing something deeper: trying to plow the political ground at a different angle. The usual tug-of-war approach to politics leaves many important questions outside the realm of discussion.

This has been obvious in any Internet forum for many years. Whether the subject is Mac vs PC, Windows vs Linux, Jesus vs Darwin, Universal Health Care vs Free Choice ... you name it, you'll find exactly two teams, and each team has a standard playbook of permitted opinions. As long as you stick to the playbook, you'll get cheers from your side and jeers from the other. But if you ask a deeper question, or (worst of all) favor side A for the wrong reasons, you'll be thrown out with remarkable alacrity and consonance.

By linking hands with Hillary, Newt is trying to bring some non-teamed questions into better focus.

Today on C-Span, Newt was answering questions from a high-school class in a wealthy DC suburb. The students were prepared, had read some of his books. One predictable Gotcha question: You obviously believe education is important. What do you think about evolution vs creationism?

Newt's answer was fairly mild, and not really off the playing field. He said that he would prefer to keep creationism out of the public schools, but we really need to put our effort into the basics instead of worrying about one particular theory.

I'll take that ball several yards farther beyond the chalk lines.

(1) Having spent most of my career in various aspects of science education, I've seen what works: starting with daily experience, formalizing it into experiments, and then offering theories for background. This is the reverse of most American science and math classes. If you start with the notion that theories are foundations, of course you're going to worry about which theories are taught. But this is not the way science works, nor the way life works.

(2) Scientists who actually and directly work on the origins of life and matter are so rare you can just about name them in one breath. Such prodigies never get near a public school, and even if they were forced by dumb parents to attend public school, they would have been reading and thinking far beyond their schoolwork by the age of 9. Whatever happens in the schoolroom is just a waste of time for such folks. (In fact, when I tried to name some of them mentally, I realized that none of them grew up in America anyway, which says that our stern reliance on teaching evolution hasn't helped us to produce such prodigies!)

For any kind of practical application, the origin question is simply irrelevant. You can catalog comets or synthesize genes with equal skill, and even with equal awe, if you believe they came from God or from unknown and undefined sources.

If you're using math or science for any practical application, from auto mechanics to genetics, you know that a vanishingly small percentage of your knowledge was acquired in public school anyway. As Newt says, THIS is the problem, not whether we offer ONE or TWO alternative theories in one particular subdiscipline.
 
Monday, May 23, 2005
  Polistra and the Senatroids, Episode 2



Inspired by tonight's 'No Nukes' press conference, in which the Senate narrowly avoided the Nuclear Option aka the Constitutional Option aka A Fate Worse Than Death aka obeying the law.
 
  Wash Gov recount case

Just for variety, I'm going to live-blog the Wash Gov election recount case, now being shown on state public-access cable TV. The Repub party is asking for a new election. This will be shorthand-ish.

---------

Opening statement by Repub lawyer:

Each recount increased Gregoire share in King dramaticaly
Orig: Greg 59.
1st recount: Greg 59 -> 63
2nd rec: Greg 63 -> 66

"This is not sloppy, this is a case of election fraud by the upper management of
King county elections."

[Objection by Dem: overruled]

Even before the election, Nicole Way[sp?}, official in charge of mail ballots wrote an email to her supervisor, saying that the computer system (nicely named DIMS) was not working in any respect. None of its reports agreed with reality.

King County counted 875 more absentee ballots than absentee voters. That is enough by itself to overturn.

After the election, Way and her boss agreed knowingly to send a false report. "We discussed how to fill out this report because we didn't have an accurate count of ballots returned." So they added in a fake number.

Good phrase: "This election was stolen by a bizarre combination of illegal voters and bungling bureaucrats"

Hundreds of provisional ballots went unchecked: they were supposed to be placed in a separate box where officials could later verify them, but instead the voters just stuck them directly in the regular box, where they were counted normally.

Showed specifics of several dead voters, and several who voted both here and in Calif.

King cty has admitted that it allowed 785 provisional votes to be directly cast. About 400 more are known but not officially admitted. Total 1155. We will prove all of these are illegal, but not that all were just shoved into machine.

Law requires county auditors to keep paper trail on absentee ballots: Number received must equal number counted + number rejected. King submitted a report which didn't do this.

Failing to track absentee is not just illegal, it opens the door for ballots to be removed or added before counting.

We will show that these removals and additions are not random.

The stats will show that in the precincts with highest Greg, more votes were counted than were cast; in the precincts with highest Rossi, fewer votes were counted than were cast.

Long discussion of why it's neither necessary nor possible to connect each vote to one voter; ballots are secret, which means that the law does not and cannot require such precise links to overturn an election.

Showing detailed court record of one felon, which concludes with "this defendant is not entitled to restoration of rights." He voted in King. "We have hundreds of records like this."

King has started (after the election!) to purge such records, and has already sent out 504 such letters of revocation, which shows that the invalid vote is not just by our say-so.

People must have faith in the election itself, must also have faith that the system, when informed of massive fraud, can adjust itself.

End opening statement by Repub lawyer.

-----

My comment: This guy is a good speaker and good explainer.

-----

Opening statement by Dem:

Your evidence about felon voting concentrates on King; felons also voted in other counties. We will show that even under petitioner's unsound statistical inference model, Greg won.

"Election contests should not follow close elections".

[My comment: Tell that to Al Gore, please.]

Law requires contest to show that errors *did* change result, not that *could* change result.

Why didn't R actually count those irregular absentee ballots? They're still sitting in a warehouse.

R can give no evidence of how each individual vote was voted.

R relying on sweeping allegations, not specific proof.

We will bring in actual voters to testify; R didn't depose any voters, observers, precinct workers, etc.

R didn't make discovery: didn't deliver list of illegal voters to D, which is required by law before introducing them into court.

We will disprove the method of statistical inference, and show that even if the method were good, if applied to all counties it would show no change in vote results.

Cites one specific felon who was interviewed: though he lived in a precinct that would have been presumed Dem, he showed us his Republican party membership card, and records of his campaign contributions to Rossi. Though we can't see his ballot, this seems like a better method of inference than just location.

We will show illegal voting in all counties, not just King; the illegalities in R counties more than balance the King irregularities.

Lists a set of irregularities that occur in every election. [My comment: True, but irrelevant; vast majority of elections aren't close. Good argument for cleaning things up in general, which we might have been able to start doing if this distraction hadn't been forced.]

Just a numerical discrepancy in accounting for abs ballots is not sufficient evidence of fraud.

"At the end of the day, R has little more than the fact that King was struggling to implement a new computer system at the same time that it was managing the largest turnout in history."

End D opening statement.

-----

I've said before that the state R party shouldn't have played this game. Now I'm more convinced than ever. The case will most likely fail. If it fails, R party has been wasting its energy and publicity on this useless effort for many months, instead of pointing out Gregoire's bad agenda. She has been able to raise spending and taxes easily because the opposing party has been totally distracted. If the contest succeeds, the state will be thrown into doubt and turmoil. R should be the party of merit, free markets and laws by legislation. Let the Dems OWN gimmickry and rule-by-courts. Don't try to grab it from them!!!!!

 
  Poor foofie Saddam redux

Lee Harris at TCS weighs in here on the basic question whether the Brit tabloid should have published the pix of Saddam. He says no.

I'm not so sure. If I were running a competent Western intelligence service, British or American, and I needed to sort out the Baathists from the 'foreigners' in the insurgency, I'd get a tabloid to publish embarrassing pictures of the Baathist leader. A sizable number of his extreme followers would then obligingly riot, demonstrate, and generally pop out of the woodwork. And even if I hadn't arranged the publication, I'd sure as hell take advantage of the consequences.

Do we have competent intel? I suspect the Brits do.
 
Saturday, May 21, 2005
  PowerLine misses a point

I don't usually dig inter-blog interchange; seems a little too convoluted and incestuous. Normally I'd put this as a comment, but PowerLine doesn't do comments. So it's sort of pointless to write this, since Powerline has a half-million readers and I have a half-dozen. (Yes, I know you're there, and I do appreciate you!) Still, the topic is important and PowerLine seems to have misfired.

Here, PowerLine discusses a nasty accusation that the Left has been using for several decades against the charismatic section of Christianity. They quote an op-ed by James Watt, who was the personal target of the attack:

-----

The religious left's political operatives have mounted a shrill attack
on a significant portion of the Christian community. Four out of five
evangelical Christians supported President Bush in 2004 ... Political
opportunists sought a wedge issue to weaken the GOP's coalition of Jews,
Catholics and evangelicals and shatter its electoral majority.
They passed over obvious headliners and landed on a curious but cunning
choice: the environment.

-----

The Left's standard line is that Pentecostals and Charismatics believe there's no point in conservation because the end is coming soon. This is false, but the wedge issue still works. Why? Because a sizable faction of the end-timers do focus on environmental issues as a key sign of the immediate conclusion. If you Google for Hal Lindsey or Jack Van Impe, you'll see who I'm talking about.

These environmental end-timers basically agree with the Left's passive view of apocalypse, not the supposedly active version imputed to Watt. So they are easy targets for a "peel-off" by the religious left.

I've seen this happen with an old friend named Larry, who played a large part in leading me out of leftist darkness in the '80s. Larry has been Pentecostal for a long time, but in more recent years he's fallen into the enviro-apocalyptic tendency. He now listens more to NPR than to Rush (for instance), because NPR hits the same themes as Hal Lindsey.
 
Friday, May 20, 2005
  A stray thought

Just got to thinking... what would happen if I did my programming work in the style of a Senator? Well, first I'd make a lot of noise while accomplishing nothing. Then I'd rig up a mechanism (a set of rules) by which I could bring the whole programming world to a screeching halt to satisfy My Sovereign Will.

So I wouldn't just be useless. I'd be a hacker.

-----

Late, watching Fox News. The 'crawl' says
SPECTER: NUCLEAR OPTION WILL RENDER SENATE INOPERATIVE

Hmm. It's not often a leader admits his organization can only operate by violating the law. Did Ken Lay give a news conference saying that obeying securities laws would render Enron inoperative? Did John Gotti ever say that obeying any law at all would render the Mafia inoperative?

Trouble is, there's simply no way to do anything about this admission. Article 1, section 6 basically says "What happens in Congress stays in Congress." The only specific kickout provision is section 3 of the 14th amendment, which requires Congress to eject traitors like Jim McDermott and Patty Murray. But there's no penalty for failing to eject.
 
  Poor little foofie Saddam.




Via Michelle Malkin, Saddam is getting fairly decent treatment, even if he has been paparazzi'd in a way that will undoubtedly excite certain mayors of certain American cities. (Incidentally, certain mayors blithely showed up for work today, thus keeping certain cities hopelessly tangled in Ick.)

This afternoon, John Gibson on Fox News was wondering if Arabs are aggrieved that their prisoners are getting worse treatment than Americans give to their own. Well, I can speak from (admittedly ancient) experience on that point. Back in 1969, I spent most of a year in Mansfield. Picture above, taken from a good museum site, shows the range where my little nest was located.


So let's compare. (Quoting Malkin on Saddam)

Saddam gets hair dye, "to keep his mane youthful-looking."

I got a haircut once a month; the barbers always gave me a buzz cut, helpfully marking me as a sissybitch. Further luxuries: a shower and rape once a week.

Saddam gets three squares a day, a fluffy pillow, and full-air conditioning.

I got three squares a day (pretty good food, actually); a metal bunk, and no heat or air-conditioning.

"Saddam can exercise in a 4,300-square-foot back yard while razor wire keeps out would-be attackers. He tends a small garden in a nearby courtyard."

I could have used the exercise yard if I wanted bonus rapes; since I didn't elect that privilege, I stayed inside. Some protection from attackers would have been welcome.

Saddam gets regular medical exams by the Red Cross.

If I got sick, I could report to Infirmary, where I could wait several days for attention by the prison "doctor", who was actually a retired mortician.

As for embarrassment by guards, anyone who has done time will laugh at the "abuses" of Abu Ghraib. I only got in trouble with the guards once, by flying paper planes through the cell door toward the windows you can see above. They took me into the guard room, gathered all the guards and made me spend an hour making more planes and flying them for their private amusement; then I had the privilege of mopping the entire ground floor of both wings.

Granted, my crime was considerably more severe than Saddam's or the Abu Ghraib prisoners. I possessed a few seeds and stems of a forbidden plant, while Saddam only killed 300,000 people. So the difference is understandable.
 
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
  Ward keeps giving



Via NRO: Ward Churchill's only written credential of Ind'n People Authenticity has been destroyed by the Keetoowah Band of Cherokees, based in Tahlequah.

---
The chief said his tribe had decided to honor
Churchill with the associate membership because
Churchill had promised to write the tribe's
history and had pledged "to help and honor the UKB."

"To date Mr. Churchill has done nothing in regards
to his promise and pledge."
---

Surprise, surprise.

This tribal group is interesting in itself. Most North American tribes have either assimilated or stayed on the reservation; in Oklahoma, as I've observed before, Cherokees have done a better job of assuming middle-class values than the Appalachian white folks.

The Keetoowah Band is different. At some point they decided to de-assimilate and go back to the old ways, something like Tridentine Catholics rejecting modernity. So the self-Constructed Ward must have felt a certain affinity, but the tribe seems to have understood him better than his colleagues did.

My picture, of course, is not Ward. It's Kate Smith, proudly showing off her honorary chief headgear while she endorses a 1934 Studebaker Dictator Regal, at a time when honorary chiefdoms (along with just about everything!) were less fraught with Identity Politics and Subjectivism. Pretty good Rohrschach test, I think. If your eyes start rolling and your brain fills with thoughts of evil God-Bless-AmeriKKKa fat broad, wearing Endangered Feathers and Fur, daring to assume the role of Noble Savage while endorsing a Polluting, Gas-Wasting product of KKKapitalism ... Oops, can't call her fat unless she's an Authentic member of the Fat Acceptance Movement, in which case she's privileged to call herself Fat .... Well, if you're in the middle of that confusion, I'll just let you boil over. It'll be fun to watch.

-----

For completeness, I should 'key' the other end of the Rohrschach spectrum. Above I listed the response of a modern leftist, whose lifetime mission is to be offended at words, songs, and symbols. (We used to describe this species as a Victorian Bluenosed Prude.) The opposite response is to look at the picture and see consequences, not symbols. I see a big solid woman who gave lots of enjoyment to lots of Americans, and kept up their morale in wartime. She's standing next to a big solid car that gave good service to Americans, made by a company that gave secure employment to six generations of craftsmen and paid secure dividends to many others. If your response comes from this angle, you're either a GWB-era conservative or an FDR-era leftist. (Not really different types.)


 
Monday, May 16, 2005
  Local action inaction


City Council had some fireworks at tonight's meeting. It's clear that Gayor West is not going to stay out of the spotlight; though he is on vacation for a few weeks, he keeps popping up with unbelievably stupid public utterances, giving Jay Leno's jokewriters a daily bonanza. Some potential businesses and conventions are starting to back away from the city. (This is interesting, because the usual Commie organizations and media always want us to believe that the only way to lose conventions is by being insufficiently gay.)

So the council president proposed a resolution calling on West to take a leave of absence for a specific period of two weeks; this would be better than vacation because it would put the president into the official position of acting mayor.

After considerable smarmy discussion and considerable public rowdiness, the Maverick Councilwoman revealed that West's lawyers had pre-approved the resolution. A vote was called immediately, and it failed 3-3. Any resolution would have been purely symbolic anyway, since Council can't force a mayor to do anything.

Vengeance is mine, saith the Cowles.

-----

Sidebar ... Only one citizen filed a petition to start the recall process, a young single mother who said that she wanted to set an example for her son. The Cowles Empire promptly exposed her past: former meth addict who had served time for participating in manslaughter. Her petition was amateurish, and was rather gently rejected by the judge tasked with examining such things. I had been expecting some of the 'professional' city hall types (former councilmen, etc.) to file petitions, but no go. Assumption: the insiders are waiting for results from the FBI inquiry, which could take care of things more quickly and firmly than a recall.

-----

Update 5/19: The abovementioned citizen, Shannon Sullivan, truly deserves to be recognized as a hero. She fixed the flaw in her petition and refiled; this time it was accepted. Interviewed on TV, she said: "Yeah, I'm getting lots of support. Everybody is behind me. WAY behind, watching with binoculars."
That's Spokane in a nutshell; can't be said any better!


 
  Diversity in Flags




Inspired by reading about the evolution of Georgia's flag, I think we should start using flags for a wider variety of purposes. For instance, here's a well-known magazine proudly [?] flying the Flag of False Accusations.
 
Sunday, May 15, 2005
  Happy Henry


The ghost of Henry J. Kaiser can stop spinning for a while. Or at least slow down. The Defense Department is offering significant money for new technologies. Here's a neat little battlefield rescue robot, developed at Oregon State University.

Cute video

Main page of the OSU project
 
  Same old song

I posted this a few days ago, then sort of backed away from it. Now I can see it's uniquely appropriate, and is hereby
dedicated to Michael Isikoff of Newsweek.


Still thinking of WW2 ... What would have happened if Ed Murrow had revealed (falsely or not) that we tortured German POWs by flushing their copies of Mein Kampf? Impossible to imagine. Murrow was working on the American side. Better analogy: try to imagine Lord Haw-Haw spreading this kind of story.

What? You say we didn't let the Krauts have copies of Mein Kampf in the first place???? How horrible! What an atrocious violation of human rights!

Hmm. Could we learn something from that? Nah.


-------

Update: Hey, Mikey! Here's a scoop for you, anonymously sourced, of course. This text came from an unknown document that I found in my pants. See if you can figure out where it came from (bet you can't!):

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.


More seriously, I think it's time for a 'Reciprocal FOIA' law. Any organization or news agency that wants to get info from the government must publicly announce all of its own info and sources first.
 
  Polistra salutes the 'Rose Revolution'




If you think Americans put too much value and complexity into flag symbolism, look here for a history of the Georgian flag.

Seems like a pattern is emerging in these former Soviet republics. Immediately after independence, a new government takes over, made of the same people who ran the old Marxist regime. Then, only in some countries, a wave of revulsion leads to a bloodless switchover, about 14 years later. I strongly suspect that these 14-year locusts will be the successful ones in the long run, while those who fail to pupate will descend back into Soviet gloom.

Something similar happened here, of course; 14 years after our war of independence, disgust with the original pattern led to the Constitution.

Sidebar: If you want to be an annoying Constitution-otaku, insist that the first American President was John Hanson. Washington was actually the 14th, which means GWB is actually number 57. Hanson, and 12 other equally obscure men, were annually chosen President of Congress under the Articles of Confederation.

 
Friday, May 13, 2005
  BRAC

BRAC is a terrible idea. First, we don't need any loss of jobs at a time when the economy is delicate and the internal Commies are just waiting to pounce on this point. Second and more important, it's just fantastically idiotic to remove military facilities in the middle of a war.

I'll allow that some rearrangement was needed in the early '90s. We were focused mainly on halting a Russki land advance through Berlin, which was somewhat less likely after Germany was re-united and became our enemy again.

But Rumsfeld is fixated on leanness to the point of anorexia. Every time he looks in a mirror he says "We're still too fat! Need to eat less! Need to vomit more!"

No, no, no, no, no.

Military operations are BY DEFINITION wasteful and fat.

The best military is 100% inefficient: when we "waste" huge amounts on fortification and soldiers without ever needing to use them, we know our defense is adequate.

We spent the last 60 years building up muscles and bones in the form of troops and bases. The troops are, of course, "renewable", but the bases aren't. Each base we lose means less flexibility, not more. An existing set of buildings and equipment, even if obsolete, is ready to use immediately for some purpose, even if only to store things in a protected perimeter.

You might say: Oh, we can just buy a few square miles where we need it. That was true in 1940, before the state-sponsored terrorist organization named EPA took control of all US property transactions, and before historical preservation, endangered species, wetland preservation, hidden asbestos, groundwater leakage, aquifer protection, Superfund, brownfield racial effects ... I'm sure you can name a dozen more.

Because of all that bullshit, a sane property owner will take great pains
to hold onto every square inch of improved land. Lose it, and it's gone forever. In many cases it can't even be taken over by non-military users, because of the tyrannical restrictions in the above list. So it just rots.
 
Thursday, May 12, 2005
  F & B

A fair and balanced addendum to yesterday's Hmph post.... I shouldn't blame Spokane authorities for the dangerous barriers. A couple years ago, when I saw the problem, I wrote to my favorite non-corrupt councilman. He replied that he also saw the problem, but there wasn't anything the city could do about it. The arrangements were designed and ordered by Homeland Security.

Do we see a pattern here? Remove all possible weapons from good people on airplanes so they have no chance to defend themselves, but carefully avoid screening Arabs. Guard the borders -- except for the 75% we don't guard -- and then criticize citizens who attempt to revive genuine Civil Defense. When cities and libraries interfere with enforcing the Patriot Act, do nothing about it.

The worst thing about Homeland Stupidity is that it gives rational justification for leftist questions about our motives. Are we really fighting a serious enemy, or are we just looking for ways to spend lots of money? I'll admit it here and now: Sometimes I wonder.
 
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
  Just for smiles, no particular purpose.

Josephine, played by Rico Martelli's orchestra in 1936.
 
  Hmph.

Few thoughts on the latest private plane alert.

Transparency is good, I suppose. A micro-smidgen of common sense would be better. Organized civil defense would be best.

"Run, run, go outside!" .... Yes, by all means, go outside, where the small plane can spray all of you with anthrax or Ebola.

Surely the important buildings have bunkers and subbasements; wouldn't that be better security against the range of threats posed by a Cessna?

CNN covered the incident best, but included an earlier tape showing how the fighters are scrambled, including the radio code that indicates a hijack.

In WW2, the govt used entertainment media to encourage proper wartime behavior.

Listen

Can you imagine today's popular singers assisting their own country? Or even missing an opportunity to assist the enemy and incite treason?

-----

De-Hmphing just a little. Even if today's entertainers were willing to help, such an obvious bit of propaganda wouldn't work now, and that's a good thing. I really wouldn't want to return to the pre-1980 setup where Americans had a binary choice: believe Walter Cronkite or pursue dark private paranoia. Competition is good.


-----

Later: Watching footage of Washingtonians scrambling in the streets to go -- somewhere? -- where? -- but not getting there fast enough because they have to squeeze through the slots between concrete barriers. More stupidity. These barriers, meant to stop Tim McVeigh, are instead creating panic points.

Something similar happened here in Spokane. Thankfully, the authorities have stopped doing it; probably just forgot, because I can't assume they acquired any common sense. Every time the federal tint changed to Orange, our police blocked the nearest lane around the Post Office like this.



Can you see the opening? I'll bet a suicide bomber could see it too, provided he was somewhat smarter than a Spokane official. Which isn't saying much. So the barriers wouldn't have stopped a real bomb, but they did create a terrible chokepoint on one main evacuation route, and would have choked emergency vehicles as well. Each time the barriers went up, they caused a true gridlock at lunch hour, which is not typical or normal in Spokane.
 
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
  Glad it's over


I'm happy Gayor West took himself out of the spotlight quickly. Spokane has enough problems without a daily eeeeewwwwwwfest on national news. Also, I felt obligated to write something about it, and I was running out of ways to avoid unpleasant double-entendres. (The recall process is long and hard....)

I make no claims of wholesomeness -- in fact, my mind is usually in the gutter.



But I must have skipped Let It All Hang Out 101 during The Sixties. Never have been comfortable with constant discussion of sexual matters. All of TV and radio is consumed with it. Right-wing talkers [with the notable exception of Rush] talk endlessly about kinky sex with an attitude of lip-smacking prurient disapproval. Left-wing talkers like Howard Stern talk endlessly about kinky sex with an attitude of lip-smacking prurient approval. In the ratings game, attitude isn't the point, of course; subject matter is everything.
 
Monday, May 09, 2005
  More on the Wild West

What makes this especially frustrating is that Spokane was finally beginning to dig itself out of the Cowles pit. When I moved here in '90, the first thing I noticed was the sheer incompetence of city govt. I had lived in big and small cities, rich and poor, and all of them did a better job on the basic stuff (streets, trash, crime) than Spokane. Here, the city poured millions into planning huge projects that went nowhere, while letting essential services deteriorate.

Sidenote: this casts doubt on the oft-stated notion that corrupt city regimes keep the trains running on time. That may have been true of Daley's Chicago, but it's not true of any modern city machine I can think of.

Starting around '97, local radio hosts (including the redoubtable Detective Fuhrman) focused attention on the Cowles corruption. At one point the Wall Street Journal's Dorothy Rabinowitz brought the matter some national publicity. It took three elections, but finally the Cowles-owned councilmembers are all gone.

West was not among the reformers; he was in the state legislature during that period. For what it's worth, I didn't vote for him, because he seemed like a carpetbagger and his motives were unclear. I voted for a liberal councilman (Corker) who had done the hard work of pushing reform, and who had taken some Cowles arrows.

Ultimately we'll learn why the Cowles Empire decided to pull the string on West now, instead of during the campaign when the information could have helped the voters to reject West. Maybe it's mercenary, maybe just pure vengeance. (You wanted to get along without us? Okay, we'll show you what you get when you reject the Empire!) The newspaper's main reporter on the story, Karen Dorn Steele, is a hard-line leftist who has publicly stated her withering contempt for the Unenlightened Masses, so she's certainly a good choice for the latter motive.

Hmmmm.... Here's a page-27 story that may explain the 'why now' question, though it doesn't answer 'why not before the election'. The children of the previous mayor, a Cowles subsidiary named John Powers, just got off easy on a charge of burglary and assault. A very strange story, and under normal circumstances it would have been the biggest story in town.

Powers story


Update: Yarrrggh. Now West is pulling the McGreevey card, whining that the Cowles paper is against him because he's "a gay man", and "living a double life is hell." Come on, Jimbo, that won't help you in any possible direction. You're not a Democrat, and this isn't New Jersey, and the paper is solidly and consistently pro-homosexual. (Redundant, I know; like saying "this particular dog is strongly quadrupedal.")

As for living a double life, ever hear of self-control? I've been trying not to dive into the icky-pool, but I'll do it just this once: Bedsheets don't talk to reporters. People do.


BREAKING 4PM: West has finally given in; he will take a "leave of absence" to "gather my thoughts and prepare my defense." In other words, he's gone.
 
Sunday, May 08, 2005
  Random notes


In the yapping about filibusters, the commies are trying to say that extended debate is critical to the legislative process. Total bullshit. Anyone who has watched C-Span knows perfectly well that debate is not actually debate. Actual debate is a contiguous set of statements and responses, intended to persuade. The noise emitted by Senators serves only two purposes: (1) Impress the yokels back home; (2) Damage Republican appointees. In the current situation, extending the noise means nothing more than extending the damage to R appointees.

Meaningful discussion happens between legislators and lobbyists, and it consists of checks, not words. I'm not complaining about this; it's the best way to get things done in a large country. The notion that each individual deserves to have his voice heard is absurd. If you have an interest that needs to be pushed in Congress, you can be dead sure that many others share the interest, and that some organization is already lobbying for that interest. Make your voice heard by working through the appropriate organizations.

If your interest or advocacy is truly unique, it's either crazy or obsessively selfish. In either case it doesn't deserve to waste the time of a government that must serve 300 million people.

(This notion of 'individual voice' is a hippie-era idea, not part of the original American design. The founders understood mass interests perfectly. Oddly enough, I think the Internet will help to restore the older concept. By participating in various online forums, I've come to realize that even my most cherished idiosyncrasies are shared by many others around the world.... and I've come to meta-realize that this realization is also shared by many others.)

-----

Locally, the icky mess around Mayor West continues to metastasize, as the Cowles newspaper continues to pull out past incidents. West is hanging tough, which is the worst possible outcome for the city. There is no provision for the council to impeach a mayor, and the recall process is lengthy and difficult.

This is the logical outcome of Good Government with its emphasis on non-partisan candidates. The state of Washington has a long history of Good Government, begun in the '30s by the Grange organization. Our primaries have been open since then, with party control minimized at all levels. City elections are strictly non-partisan.

Strong party organizations work hard to maintain the brand, because they want to hold or regain their own power. They reject a blackmailable candidate for obvious reasons: he will either serve the opposition to maintain their silence, or he will be exposed and splatter the EEEEEWWWWW factor all over the party.

Apparently West was known to be blackmailable, but in a partyless setup his personal money-raising ability was enough to get into office.

 
Friday, May 06, 2005
  Polistra meets the Senatroids





A semi-animated comic strip....

 
Thursday, May 05, 2005
  A Good Day.
I can't remember a week with more good news on such a wide variety of fronts.

In no particular order:

1. Osama's #3 captured.

2. New oil in Utah.

3. Blair re-elected.

4. Federal forestry regulations open up more logging.

5. Fed budget shows surplus for quarter; one economist thinks we've turned the corner from deficits.

6. Volcker exposed as Kofi's good buddy; one of Volcker's deputies quits, blows whistle to Congress.

7. Little bomb in NYC, apparently planted by member of UN's WMD analysis staff. (Obviously this isn't good news for those who were scared by it, but it belongs in the long-term good column because it leaves no excuse for anyone to deny that the UN is an enemy of civilization.)
 
  Local action
Spokane's Republican mayor is getting hit by a dramatic set of sexual revelations in the local paper. Apparently these things have been known by insiders for a long time. Some of the older charges are dubious, but there's plenty of new and factual stuff which the mayor has admitted today.

A couple of weeks ago (mentioned here, 4/26) the city council passed an ordinance giving benefits to domestic partners; it struck me as a bit odd and hasty, with vague undertones of blackmail. Now the haste may be explainable.

The state Republican Party organization should do a better job of filtering out candidates with messy pasts. A party's job is not just to elect anything that breathes! Dems can afford to do that because they own the media, but Reps have to defend the brand more effectively. As I've said a hundred times, they need to understand the enemy; they also need to consider the effect on other party office-holders. When a Rep official is exposed like this, the whole party is damaged.

Story link: see the contained link to Spokesman-Review story as well.

-----

Bit of background on Spokane politics: For most of the 20th century, Spokane was essentially owned by the Cowles family, which still runs the newspaper. Their hold was gradually loosened through the last decade, partly due to the efforts of local talk radio hosts who exposed the various links between politics and money. As of last year, the city council was entirely non-Cowles for the first time in living memory. And in the last couple of weeks, the council has "closed the books" on a wildly complex deal that bound the city to pay the Cowles family even more millions.

I have no idea what goes on behind the scenes, but given the way things have worked in the past, I wouldn't start with the hypothesis that this outing is coincidental. The Cowles outfit previously made life exceedingly difficult for politicians who opposed them; they used their newspaper to make such folks look ridiculous, and actually sued two councilmembers for daring to oppose the imperial dynasty in public.

 
  Gusher!



I think this story deserves more attention than it's getting. A small company in Utah bought some old and supposedly used-up leases from Chevron, and took the time to explore more seriously. They believe they've found a huge new pool of oil; not as large as ANWR, but plenty big. Significant because it's generally believed that no new "easy" oil remains in the 48 states; existing fields are producing but the next step would have to involve tar sands.

Story link
 
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
  What were they thinking?



Loretta is a 28-time loser. (Not a typo; her criminal record exceeds her IQ.) She decided it would be cool to fake killing her husband, and used firecrackers and red hair dye to put together a convincing scenario. What was she thinking? Did she think the cops would just accept her statement, when her husband was plainly alive and well? Did she think she would become a celebrity?

Chris is the head of the Washington State Republican Party. He decided it would be cool to request a new election after his candidate lost by 129 votes in the third recount. What was he thinking? Did he think the Democrats would just lay down and accept it? Did he think his candidate would look clean and fresh when surrounded by ambiguous evidence of fraud on both sides?

I'm really not sure who is stupider. No doubt Loretta is lower on the scale of basic mental power. But if stupid means failing to use your native equipment and experience to serve your own interests, Chris wins hands down.
 
Monday, May 02, 2005
  Google guarantees leftist bias.


Google is preparing a new 'reliability check' on news services. The process will examine size of company, how long the company has been in business, number of news bureaus, number of bylines on articles, and similar measures, to give an overall reliability index. This will supposedly be more useful than the current sorting by direct use of phrase and by date. [Reported in 4/30/05 issue of New Scientist mag.]

Disingenuous and sneaky.

If we were talking about cars or pharmaceuticals, company size and age would be valid measures of reliability. A company gets to be big and old by keeping its customers. A big old manufacturer also has more resources and 'corporate memory' to aid in research. News is a peculiar business, though. The older firms are known to be the most orthodox followers of Party line, and the only reputation that counts is the Lenin Pulitzer Prize.

 
Sunday, May 01, 2005
  Balancing point




The standard commie talking point this week is to complain that the Republicans own 3 sections of the government; why should they be allowed to have the 4th (courts) as well?

Must admit this sounds like a good argument. I think the govt worked pretty well with R congress and D president; congress was encouraged to pull to the right in order to make partisan points, and congress put more energy into investigating executive excesses.

But the current arrangement has exposed several things that were overshadowed by the Gingrich-Clinton boxing match. On the good side, we can see about 40 nominal Dems in the House who never had a reason to break party discipline in the previous arrangement, but who now migrate to the conservative side on every economic question. So it turns out that for most purposes the House is about 2/3 conservative. On the bad side, we can see far more clearly the unbroken power of imperial judges. When one district judge can write, modify, or repeal any law she wants, and the combined forces of Congress and the Presidency have absolutely no will to overrule her, the situation is still unbalanced. No matter how many R's we put in the right basket, they still won't balance the power of a Phyllis Hamilton ... unless and until they evolve from bottom-dwelling tubeworms into vertebrates.

-----

Spokesmodel says this 'learning exercise' doesn't help settle the question, but she likes the T-shirt anyway.

 
  Toldja so.
Back in December (when I was using LiveJournal) I noted that the Wash State Republicans were stupidly walking into the usual leftist briar patch by contesting the gubernatorial election. It's no use getting into the ring with leftists unless you know the Alinsky moves and are prepared to counterpunch. Republicans always assume that their opponents will play nice, and they always lose.

The relevant Alinsky rule:
"Make the enemy live up to his own book of rules. You can kill them with this."

The latest move: In response to Republican complaints about felons voting for Gregoire, state Dems have found 400 felons who [presumably] voted for Rossi. Surprise, surprise.

"Story link"

"Where I toldja so"
 
  Fakery: Coming to a neighborhood near you




Neighborhood near me, more precisely.

This lady figured that fake police reports were all the rage among the elite, so she decided to get in on the game. Using firecrackers and red food dye, she faked killing her husband. Neighbors called 911 after hearing the firecrackers; when police arrived, she ran out and met them, shouting "I've killed the old man!"

Unfortunately, she was too drunk and too dumb to perceive the vast gulf between herself and someone like Jennifer Wilbanks ... If you want to make it onto the national news, you can't be too thin or too rich, as the old saying [almost] goes. Wilbanks has issues and must be loved and forgiven. This lady has excess avoirdupois and will only be derided and forgotten.

Seriously, we need to punish fakers, and we need to show the punishment as well as the glamour; aristocratic crimes always get imitated in lesser neighborhoods, where both perp and victim are less able to recover.

Story link: http://kxly.com/common/getStory.asp?id=43646

 

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Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

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