The full gamut of emotions

Thanks Ron, for pointing this out. It made me sad, but I'm sure it is cathartic for those that send them in.

A 'successful' legislative session

The state legislature had a great session this year. Flouting the will of the people on multiple occasions (I-601 gutting, gas tax increase); election reform "requiring ID", ID being a utility bill or paycheck; fighting meth, fighting meaning "requiring ID" to purchase cold medicine, ID being a state issued photo ID.

The only success I see is that it is now harder to buy fight a cold than it is to vote.


NEA Wackiness

The No Education Anywhere National Education Association has filed a lawsuit against FedGov's lack of funding for the No Child Left Behind Act. From the CNN article,

The suit, citing a series of cost studies, outlines billions of dollars in expenses to meet the law's mandates. They include the costs of adding yearly testing, getting all children up to grade level in reading and math, and ensuring teachers are highly qualified.

To cover those costs, the suit says, states have shifted money away from such other priorities as foreign languages, art and smaller classes. The money gap has hurt schools' ability to meet progress goals, which in turn has damaged their reputations, the suit says.

Apparently, the NEA thinks learning French is more important than being able to read a job application and being able to tell the difference between Manet and Monet is more important than being able to balance a checkbook.

As for damaged reputations, any school that doesn't produce people that can read, write and mathematically compute at a functional level deserves a bad rap.



Today, CNN notes completion of the restoration around the base of Yosemite Falls.

I LOVE Yosemite. In my opinion, it is the most beautiful place on Earth. My parents spent their honeymoon there. I fell in love with photography there, at the age of 12.

But some environmental groups aren't happy with the restoration. CNN quotes Joyce Eden of Friends of Yosemite Valley, "This is way, way overdone. It degrades the natural environment as well as the visitor's experience -- the quieter experience that's more connected to nature."

The Friends of Yosemite Valley was founded by three climbers with the "specific purpose is the protection of the climbing heritage and the natural environment of Yosemite Valley on behalf of past, present and future climbers, and on behalf of the public generally" from a lawsuit filed by the group and its founders. From its website, “Yosemite is a living natural wonder, and it belongs to you and all Americans.” But, based on a news story from MetroActive, Eden and her friends think "that catering to the commercial needs of park visitors should be secondary to the park's primary mission of preserving the natural habitat."

Based on the 1980 Yosemite General Management Plan Eden is right in her assessment of the park's primary mission. The GMP goes even further, calling "to remove all automobiles from Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove and to redirect development to the periphery of the park and beyond..." which seems to be in direct conflict with the National Park Service's mission to run all national parks "in such manner and by such means as to leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations."

By removal of all automobiles from Yosemite, it will be impossible for all people to enjoy its wonders. The handicapped, children, the old, and the infirm will all be denied access if vehicle access is restricted. I love Yosemite; I believe that it should be protected...to an extent. We all have the right to see the wonders of Yosemite, we all pay taxes to support its operation. To limit access to only those who are able enough to hike in, or wealthy enough to be helicoptered in is unfair.

In the end, Mz. Eden and her friends feel that places like Yosemite should be their own taxpayer funded wilderness playgrounds. Over 1106 square miles of the 1189.5 square mile park is already wilderness, and thus inaccessable to anything but pack animals and foot traffic. Now the Friends of Yosemite Valley want more. They don't want normal people to have easy access to areas like these because they think their right to a "quieter experience that's more connected to nature" outweighs everyone elses right to share in the beauty that is Yosemite.


And the beat goes on

Today, Governor Chris Gregoire signed into law a bill that guts I-601. I-601, which became RCW 43.135 specifically required a two-thirds majority vote of each house to raise state revenue above the level of economic and population growth. So much for the will of the people.

During her campaign, Gregoire wanted to start "Making State Government More Efficient, Effective, And Accountable to Taxpayers." Hey Mrs. Gob'na, so much for being accountable to the taxpayers.

I'm currently drafting a letter to Mrs. Gregoire, and my state senators and representatives informing them that my wife and I intend to take our incomes elsewhere as soon as possible. I'll post it when I get it done.

More silliness from the Governor

Governor Gregoire plans to change King County from honoring former Vice President William Rufus DeVane King because the Veep supposedly owned slaves (if they knew for sure he was gay would they still rename it?). If that's the sole reason, as stated by the 1986 King County Resolution, then shouldn't we be renaming the entire state of Washington?

Why is 'bipartisan' a good thing?

I'm getting real tired hearing about bi-partisan this and bi-partisan that. Why is that a good thing? I'm not a democrat or republican. While my fedgov views turn toward the conservative, I consider myself a little 'l' libertarian. Smoke pot if you want, be gay, just stay out of my pockets. So this bipartisan crap really bothers me.

Congress and the media continue to force this silly two party system down our throats. Government was never intended to be run by two competing blocs. As we see every day, it limits discussion and prevents meaningful legislation. George Washington warned us against political parties in his farewell address. He talked of the very things we see today in national debate.

As a Libertarian, or Green, or Socialist Worker, do you really feel your beliefs are accurately represented by a "bipartisan commission" made up of Republocrats? I know I don't.

I get joy out of hearing about politicians like Dave Reichert (formerly King County Sherriff and the man that put the Green River Killer behind bars) crossing party lines. In Mr. Reichert's case, he went against his Republican Party and voted against intervening in the Shiavo case. Republican or Democrat, the media beats up those that don't vote with the party. I think the media, instead, should be vilifying those legislators that don't vote with their constituents. That is by far the greater evil.


Quick Civics Lesson

A Letter to the Editor of the Seattle times today needs a lesson on the three branches of government:

They v. the People

How deep can we sink?

They (U.S. House Appropriations Committee) threatened to cut off funding for the U.S. Supreme Court?

I thought there was a limit to the depth they (the Bush administration) would stoop to get their way, but I was wrong. There is no limit!

— Ki Punches, Everett

Ki, three branches of government, my friend. The executive does not control the budget, despite the way the media makes it sound.

The Wonder (as in what the f) full (as in of it) WEA

Since T-rav’s girlfriend is going to be a teacher in Washington State, I started kicking around to try and find the state pay scale. Instead I found something better, the WEA Continuing Resolutions. Some things in it really bothered me. First was the specific section in direct violation of state law:

The Washington Education Association believes that when local school directors and/or elected state legislative and executive officials fail to respond to the needs of students, educators, or support personnel; and when bargaining in good faith does not exist, it is the right of members of local affiliates to vote to authorize a strike.

The Association also believes its right to call upon WEA members to authorize a statewide strike when the state legislature and governor fail to adequately meet the needs of education.

However, RCW 41.56.120, titled PUBLIC EMPLOYEES' COLLECTIVE BARGAINING states:
Right to strike not granted. Nothing contained in this chapter shall permit or grant any public employee the right to strike or refuse to perform his official duties.

The next thing that bugged me was the things that have no business being the focus of a teacher organization. For example,


The Washington Education Association supports health care reform that is designed to control costs, ensure equitable access to comprehensive health care services including mental health parity for all, and fairly distributes the costs of health care throughout our society.

This is, sadly, a federal discussion right now. A state employee organization should not be worrying about this. Furthermore, their health care is already provided by the state. Perhaps if they worried more about doing their job, our children would be better education. More on that in a bit.


The Washington Education Association believes that elections are a public good, that our representatives should first and foremost be accountable to the people and their will, that support from voters, not ability to fundraise, should be the criteria by which a person should be judged fit to be a candidate for public office and that a system of public campaign financing should be enacted in Washington state to further these ends.

People that identified themselves as teachers contributed over $47,000 to the candidates for Governor in the 2004 election. Nearly $40,000 of it was donated to Democrats. Nearly $1,500 was donated by WEA employees to 2004 Gubernatorial candidates. None of it went to Republicans. While the disparity may indicated that a high majority of teachers and WEA employees think Democrats are the better candidates, why are their members contributing so much to these candidates if the important qualification is “not ability to fundraise”?

Additionally in 2004, WEA-PAC lobbyists spent over $150,000 in contributions. The Seattle Education Association spent another $21,000 in contributions. I wonder what the WEA would think of campaign finance reform that eliminated all PAC’s…

Next are the things that just really make me wonder. The WEA should be concerned, first and foremost, with the education of our children. I know they’re a union, so I know that their true purpose is to celebrate mediocrity. Find as many ways as possible to say they want education to improve but not support in any way any idea that may actually achieve that goal…Things like these.


The Washington Education Association believes standardized tests are acceptable when they meet the following criteria:

12. Test scores must not be used for school-to-school comparisons.

You’re joking right? What should be used to compare schools or the quality of the education they provide? The WEA doesn’t say.

The Washington Education Association supports the efforts of members to demonstrate excellence in teaching by obtaining National Board certification.

The Association also believes National Board certification should remain a voluntary process. It should not be used as criteria for continuing employment, state certification, renewal of state certification, evaluation, dismissal, or promotion. Members choosing not to participate will not be negatively impacted.

So our members should demonstrate excellence, but if they choose not to be excellent, that should not hurt them. The WEA talks a lot about quality education and quality learning environments, but this is the only place that they give specific criteria for quality teachers. Then they tell us that we really shouldn’t use it as criteria for anything related to the job…

The Washington Education Association believes that testing must not be used for recertification of certificated personnel. The Association also believes that pencil and paper type tests must not be used as a condition of employment.

The WEA does not believe that its employees should be tested. For anything. Not for mastery of subject matter, which should be a job requirement. Not for teaching ability, which is a close second to subject mastery.

Once again, the WEA supports nothing that would actually get rid of bad teachers. It quickly becomes apparent that the teacher’s union is only concerned with keeping their membership base intact.

The Washington Education Association believes that the salary policy of any school system should be based on clearly defined factors which are applicable to salaries for all professional services and responsibilities.

Professional salary schedules for certificated employees must:

17. not be based on employee evaluation;

So the WEA doesn’t want objective standards such as teacher testing or national certifications to be used in teacher evaluations or salary planning. They don’t want salaries to be based on teacher evaluations. Since pay shouldn’t be based on employee evaluations, merit pay logically follows…


The Washington Education Association opposes merit pay as a basis for determining salary increases.

The WEA spends a lot of time spouting off to the voters that teacher pay needs to be increased. They say how important it is to retain good teachers. Maybe if they would lobby for things like merit pay the people would start supporting them and we could retain those good teachers. But the WEA wants bad teachers to be paid the same as good teachers.

Near the end of the document, the WEA starts to get real contradictory. Sections CR G-1 ACADEMIC FREEDOM AND CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES and CR H-3 STUDENTS' RIGHTS, RESPONSIBILITIES, AND ACADEMIC FREEDOM make statements such as, “The Washington Education Association believes that academic freedom is a professional right to investigate, research, publish, or teach any subject matter free of censorship.” They also make the statement, “The Association opposes any and all efforts to limit the availability of competing political ideas and beliefs peacefully presented.” And this, “The Association also believes in the right of students and teachers to have free access to information without regard to content.” And in section CR I-11 PROMOTION OF CIVIL AND HUMAN RIGHTS, “The Association also supports programs and instruction that encourage individuals to seek greater understanding of other people's perspectives and experiences in an atmosphere of respect and dignity.” As to student academic freedom they state, “The Association also believes its affiliates should work to ensure that the students in the schools of the state of Washington have the right to:
1. study issues, which have political, economic, scientific, or social significance;
2. have free access to all relevant information including the materials that circulate freely in the community;
3. hear and assess in the classroom or in general assemblies student speakers with points of view that may be at variance with those of the majority of the citizens in the community;

Then, in sections CR I-8 EXTREMIST GROUPS and CR I-10 INSTITUTIONAL DISCRIMINATION, they state “The Association opposes and condemns the philosophy and practices of extremist groups and their efforts to recruit young people in our schools,” and “The Washington Education Association opposes any participation in a program sponsored by or using facilities of an organization which denies membership to certain segments of our society on the basis of age, creed, disability, ethnic background, gender, marital status, national origin, political activities or beliefs, race, religion, sexual orientation, or size. The Association also opposes the action of affiliates who form any type of liaison with such organizations.

First off, define extremist groups. Are Republicans extremists? Are Libertarians? Is the Washington State Cattlemen’s Association? Does the WEA think that students or teachers should not watch The Masters golf tournament because Augusta denies membership to women? What is their view on schools for the deaf or blind since they limit their enrollment to “certain segments of our society on the basis of…disability”? Would they be offended by the KKK coming to campus since they believe students have the right to “hear… speakers with points of view that may be at variance with those of the majority of the citizens in the community”? Since they oppose participation in a program sponsored by “an organization which denies membership… on the basis of… ethnic background”, would they refuse to participate in a program by the NAACP during Black History Month?

Do they really want academic freedom for teachers and students or only academic freedom that agrees with the views of the organization?

So what we have is an organization that openly advocates violation of the law, addresses issues that it has no organizational interest in, avoids responsibility or objective standards for its members, and advocates "freedom" as long as it agrees with their sensiblities. Will the WEA label itself an extremist group?


Oregon Governor doesn't care what people think

Gay marriage is, without a doubt, a state issue, not a federal one. My personal position is one of apathy. I don't really care either way.

But the people of Oregon have already made their decision. They passed Measure 36 which defined marriage to a man and a woman. The specific text of the measure states:

"It is the policy of Oregon, and its political subdivisions, that only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or legally recognized as a marriage."

Apparently Governor Kulongoski, whose job it is to enforce this change to the state Constitution, hasn't read the measure.

The wording of the amendment makes clear that Oregonians do not want the legal rights and priveledges of marriage extended to gay couples. Still, Kulongoski thinks they should be.

Ted, do your job. Let the legislature and the voters do theirs.


When blogs die...should Dax get a royalty?

I was going through my useless little blogger profile (click on the me link on the right), clicking on my favorites to see who might like the things I like. When I clicked on Dax Johnson I had two realizations. The first was that it bugged me that only four other people listed Dax as a favorite.

I'm not surprised if you haven't heard of Dax. He's a self taught pianist that makes the piano do weird things. You think it's synthesized or there are instruments hidden somewhere. Until you see him live and watch him stick his arm under the piano lid...

The second thought was would I really blog for the forseeable future. My reaction, I guess, is yes. I may not do it as often as I would like, or should, but I'll probably always do it. It at least gives me the illusion that someone out there is listening to me rant about things...like damn people doing TCP and UDP scans on my ports. I've had 24 events in the last 90 minutes. It's pissing me off.

I guess I'll always wonder what will happen to those poor orphaned blogs. Probably nothing, at least until Blogger starts charging. At which point I'm sure they'll begin recycling those after a certain amount of time.


Non-citizen Voting

Today's Seattle Times editorial regarding a new election challenge states, "State election officials are not aware of a single documented instance where a non-citizen voted in the governor's race." Oh really? SoundPolitics.com has documented at least two cases. Sharkansky discussed this with King County no later than March 15th (over two weeks ago). Apparently King County has not informed the state...

UPDATE: Sound Politics just posed a rebuttal to the above quote.


Democrats = Socialist...yeah, but openly???

While doing a little more research on Amtrak I found this. Isn't at least remotely frightening that a site run by two "by two veteran Democratic consultants" prominently displays a stylized picture of Vladimir Lenin? Frightens me...especially living in a county that's 85% Democrat.

More on Moedritzer

A Google search on Mr. Moedritzer shows that he’s an architect.

Amazingly, one of the projects Mike worked on used wood in its construction. Since Seattle is a “sustainable” community, I’m sure all the wood must have been harvested, cut, and prepared within the city limits…

Mike is also an energy conscious guy. Here he’s concerned about the Mariners wasting energy by turning on the stadium lights during sunny days. Oh yeah, Seattle is “sustainable” so all that electricity for the stadiums, not to mention all the office buildings and homes is generated in the city limits. What, there are no wind turbines or dams or nuclear plants in Seattle to generate all that power? But I though Seattle was “sustainable”.

He also likes to play baseball. I’m sure the grass he plays on was grown from seeds raised in Seattle. I’m also sure that the fertilizer put on that grass was made in Seattle. I’m sure that the leather of his glove, cleats and ball were made from animals raised in the city limits.

He won’t even go to Cooperstown because they didn’t show Bull Durham. He’d have to drive or fly and that would use foreign oil which we know isn’t “sustainable”.

Mr. Moedritzer, the world is far more complicated than your isolated view allows. A sustainable environment implies a certain level of self-sufficiency. Unfortunately, Mike, urban areas will never be sustainable...no matter how much you like to tell yourself they will.

Sustainable urban areas?

There was an interesting Letter to the Editor yesterday in the Seattle Times.
"Subsidies for the boonies
Why is it always people living out in the hinterlands in places like North Bend or Snohomish or Gig Harbor who whine the loudest about high taxes in their letters to the editor?
If their taxes are indeed high these people should take a look at themselves. They're part of the problem. In no small measure people living in the low-density boonies are a greater burden on state and local governments to provide schools, roads and highways, sewer, water, police and fire protection, etc.
It costs way more than they are paying to sustain that far-flung low density. The reality is that we who live in efficient, sustainable, denser urban communities subsidize outer-suburban and ex-urban development with our tax contributions.
If people living on the fringes want that lifestyle, they should quit crying. They're getting off easy in not having to pay for the true cost of that choice themselves. It is city-dwellers who should be complaining!
— Mike Moedritzer, Seattle"

Mike Moedritzer is complaining about all the people in the “hinterlands” complaining about their taxes being too high. He uses “sustainable” and “urban” together in the same sentence.

Urban centers are sustainable, huh? Funny, considering the city of Seattle essentially produces zero agricultural products. How can any urban center be “sustainable” when it produces none of the food it consumes?

Mike seems to think that Seattle could exist completely cut off from the outside world. I guess he doesn’t realize that starvation would set in rather quickly. When he hasn’t eaten for a few days, maybe he’ll realize that if he wants that lifestyle then he “should quit crying.”