Wednesday, May 30, 2007


I've been distracted from blogging for awhile, because this time of year I have so much fun watching my son play baseball. He is a sophomore at Lake Oswego High School, and plays catcher.

Their season just ended in the second round of the state playoffs, where they lost 4-2 to North Medford (who will play in the finals this Saturday.)

This picture is his second at-bat in that last game. He hit this pitch - a high curve on an 0-2 count - for a double to left field.

Summer = Baseball

Thursday, May 24, 2007

I didn't see my choice listed

Over on Hillary's official campaign website there is a contest to vote for Hillary's campaign theme song.

I don't see my choice.

Maybe we can do a write in campaign.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

What he learned in school

Did you see the story about the graffiti artist on the front page of the "In Portland" section on today's Oregonian? He can't restrain himself from tagging every building he sees, so he is going to jail for a couple years.

Explaining how he justifies defacing private property with his spray paint, he said:

I was taught in school how buildings produce pollution and damage the land. So painting them is no concern for me."

He can probably barely read, but he has the environmental agenda down pat.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

So much for the consensus

Looks as if a whole slew of climate scientists and researchers are changing sides on the man-made global warming question.

Take a look at this list, just the tip of the iceberg of the many scientists who bought into the alarmist side of things, only to see that the science is simply not there, so they have become skeptics. It's quite a list of heavy hitters - I can't wait to read how each and every one of them was seduced by big oil money.

This of course won't stop the shrillness we hear from the Al Gore crowd - if anything it will get worse as they try to drown out the growing opposition.

The O helps Bradbury secure speaking arrangements

In the Science section of today's Oregonian there's a full-page story with color pictures telling us what a great guy Secretary of State Bill Bradbury is for touring the state giving Al Gore's global warming propaganda.

The story itself is precisely what the Oregonian has been offering for years now: one-sided, agenda driven, and almost wholly without news value.

The centerpiece of the story is a picture of a laughing Bradbury on stage, with a huge blue earth on a screen in the background. The picture is surrounded by a list of all the places that Bradbury has given the presentation, and then a helpful caption telling us how we, too, can book Bradbury for our group.

Of course what is missing is any real critical analysis, perhaps of why our Secretary of State is spending his time doing this in the first place. Is this what he was elected to do? It would be interesting to at least ask the question.

The money quote from Bradbury, talking about opposition to the global warming agenda: "What is it that people really want to refute? I'm mystified..."

Oh, gee, I don't know Bill. Maybe the fact that you and Al Gore are trying to scare people with over-hyped cataclysmic predictions so we will accept a draconian controls on energy consumption so that government types like you can control things?

Maybe the fact that every key point of the presentation you are giving has been refuted in the scientific literature, including the claim that CO2 is actually at record highs in the first place?

Of course we can't expect our daily newspaper to really do any good faith investigation of these things. No, their idea of balanced reporting is to quote Lars Larson.

I guess we should consider ourselves lucky. It's the day after election day - otherwise I am sure this would have been front page "news."

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Election Day

I opened my ballot this weekend to cast my vote. After scanning it, I realized that there was absolutely no reason to vote this time around.

I'm usually very conscientious - I may have missed a vote here or there over the years, but I almost always exercise my franchise. But this time around there really was no reason to do it. It would have been a waste of 39 cents.

I live just outside of Portland in unicorporated Multnomah County. My ballot had a grand total of two contested races, both for Multnomah County ESD. Every other race - local school board, fire district, water district, etc. - was either blank or had one candidate.

It simply doesn't matter who in on the Multhomah ESD board. ESD's shouldn't exist in the first place as a seperately funded governmental entity with an elected board. The board position is simply a stepping stone into elected office for wannabes, or a place for busybodies to feel as if they have some power. I know zippo about any of the candidates and there is no reason at all to spend any time to learn about them, because the ESD board position has no policy-setting impact at all.

So, for the first time in my life, I decided NOT to vote.

Monday, May 14, 2007

How to be the toast of the Oregonian

Did you catch the not-so-subtle propaganda in the Saturday Oregonian, in the nauseating article about the Willamette University graduate whose legacy at the school is the volunteer bike repair shop she got started on campus?

The article breathlessly reports how the young lady wants to change everybody's lifestyles so that they don't use cars. And her aspiration is to go work for a local government so she can do so much good using the coercive powers of government to change people's behavior.

From the article:
Selser wants to make mass transit -- buses, trains, streetcars, subways -- sexy enough to make Americans drive less. If that doesn't sound sexy, listen to Selser.

"It's so much more than putting a (transit) line there. It has to be planned well. There have to be workplaces along the lines. You have to make the stops attractive. . . .

"It needs to be a lifestyle change. For people to change their lifestyles, they need to have the infrastructure."

Her post-college aspiration?

She would love to work for the city of Eugene or the Lane Transit District, "where I can actually start doing something," she says.

I shudder to think what it means for this young woman to be "doing something."

Can you imagine the Oregonian ever writing such a fluff piece about a young college graduate whose aspiration is to start, say, a manufacturing company and employ people?

The house of cards revealed

The global warming hypothesis is that increasing CO2 levels causes increasing temperature. The IPCC says that average CO2 concentrations have risen from about 280 ppm to 385 ppm. All their models predicting catastrophic results of warming use the 280 PPM as the base CO2 level.

But wait a minute - what if the average pre-industrial CO2 level was higher than 280 ppm? A new study shows that the IPCC faked the data by cherry picking the CO2 data they got from the various ice core samples.

The real pre-industrial level is at least 50 ppm higher, and there were three periods since the year 1800 when CO2 concentrations were higher than they are today!

Uh, this pretty much decimates the whole anthropogenic global warming hypothesis.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Is $700K higher than $0?

The Portland School District closed the Smith Elementary School last year, and the building has stood vacant ever since. It's a georgeous facility in a great little SW Portland neighborhood.

Parents whose children went to Smith decided to start their own chater school. Portland denied the proposal, but they appealed to the state, and a week ago the State Boarad of Education approved the school.

The charter school made an offer to the district to lease part of the vacant school building for just under $700K over five years. The district rejected the offer as "not financially sufficient."

Huh? They are getting nothing from the property now, and they have to still maintain it. Another rationale was the bureaucratic runaround that they've given for years: they want vacant space on hand as they see how all their recent school reconfigurations hash out.

This is the same song and dance the district has done virtually since the charter school law passed. While the district is closing schools, charter schools are opening, yet the district refuses to lease any of the vacant school facilities to the charter schools.

The public should be furious. The district should be required to GIVE the schools to the charter organizations. These are public school facilities paid for by the public for the purpose of educating public school kids. Charter schools are public schools, and their students are public school students.

By what moral standard does the district let a facility sit vacant rather than allow it to be used for the purpose that the public paid for and built it?

I have asked this direct question to current board members and to Vicki Phillips, and none of them could answer it. Truly, there is no answer, other than the obvious:
The district views charters as competition, and they don't want to help their competitor. It has nothing - zero - to do with the kids. They could care less about the kids.

The back story of how Kulongoski got re-elected

I heard this story from someone who is in position to know....

During the governor race, shortly after the primary, when Ron Saxton was looking very strong, the public employee unions had a little pow-wow with the Governor.

Remember, they backed Jim Hill in the primary, so peturbed they were about Kulongoski leaving the plantation on the PERS reforms and the pay freeze for state workers.

They said to the governor: We want to support you, but we don't trust you. We have a $3 million check here for you, but this is the way it's gunna be - we run the show. When you win, we put our guys in place and you do nothing without their approval. [This, of course, is a paraphrase.]

And that is how we got Chip Terhune and Tim Nesbitt as the top dogs in the new administration. They call all the shots, because that is the deal the Governor accepted.

So now, the unions directly run the executive branch of Oregon state government, and the Democrats run both houses of the legislature.

God have mercy on us.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Good news on SB 621

It appears as if, at least for now, the union-backed bill that would have significantly harmed the charter school movement in Oregon is dead.

In its original form, SB 621 would have required all teachers in charter schools to be members of the union and licensed by the state. In addition, the bill restricted how many students could cross district boundaries to attend a charter school (a way to stifle the competitive effect of charters) and it would have capped, at 10%, the number of students in any district who could attend charters.

In the Senate Education Committee hearings, charter school supporters objected to all of these provisions. The Chair, Senator Walker, listened to the reasoning behind the objections, and got the OEA to withdraw most of the offending provisions of the bill.

The part that survived was the teacher certification requirement, although it was scaled back from 100% to 65% (charters are now required to have 50% of their teachers hold a state license.)

Senator Kruse, who sits on the committee, was able to get a minority report out along with the bill. The minority report kept the licensure requirement at 50% and kept some other stuff in the bill that was acceptable to everyone.

The bill was sent to the Senate floor last week, but instead of getting voted on, it kept getting held over to the next day - a sure sign that they were having a hard time lining up enough votes to pass it. Three times it was held over, and yesterday it was sent back to committee - which, at this stage of the session, means it is likely dead.

There are a few very interesting elements to this:

1) Charter schools are now in the mainstream of public education in Oregon. The importance of this cannot be overemphasized. If the teachers union is not able to muster enough votes on the Senate Floor, with a 19-11 D/R advantage, to pass a relatively modest re-regulation of charters, that means that Democrats no longer consider charter schools to be a partisan issue.

Why the change? My guess is that most of these legislators have charters in their districts, and know that the people in them are hardly the right wing. Most charters are run by liberals/Democrats! And that is wonderful. I have personally assisted on many charter school projects that have a progressive theme as part of their founding principals. So I think that Democrat legislators see that charters are not a partisan issue, they are an economic issue for an interest group. And they were unwilling to turn their backs on these schools, even at the behest of this economic interest group.

2) This marks the coming of age of the charter school movement as a political force in its own right. With 70 schools and 8,000 students, a fairly large army of foot soldiers can be assembled when legislation is proposed that puts them in peril. For the first time this session, these soldiers were mustered. We filled hearing rooms and overflow rooms, and we filled e-mail boxes. We rallied at the capitol with 500 screaming kids. These voices were heard.

3) The Democrats in the Senate are not robotron union shills. This is really good news. I think the argument of "what problem is this bill trying to solve?" made sense to them, and there were not enough of them satisfied with the answer the union gave.

4) Senator Vicki Walker, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, is a thoughtful, reasonable, and honest person. She listened to testimony by opponents of the bill and made changes to the bill to correct problems that the testimony highlighted.

Although I still opposed the bill after the changes, because it consitituted a net loss for charters, the fact that Sen. Walker treated the issue with such fairness and responsiveness needs to be pointed out. She is nobody's tool and nobody's fool. She is tough, fair minded, and has a maverick streak in her that I really appreciate.

Though I disagree with her politically on most issues, I have a ton of respect for her, and personally, I like her very much.

Lastly - nothing is truly over until sine die. So even though this bill might be dead, that doesn't mean something similar might pop up in the waning days of the session. So we can breathe a sigh of relief for now, but until that gavel comes down, there will be no relaxing.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

The "How Dare They" campaign

I listened to a good part of the floor debate on HB 3540-A, which asks voters to completely gut Measure 37.

I won't go into all the ways in which the bill is a radical departure from the intent of M37. Others have done that in a comprehensive fashion, far better than I could.

But the Democrats, who voted unanimously for the bill on the House floor, are claiming that the bill is a "clarification" and a "fix" for M37. What a pantload.

The only thing they are fixing is an artificial problem they caused while trying to torpedo the measure. The Attorney General has decided that, unlike virtually any other development right a landowner has, the M37 rights do not survive transfer of the property. So a landowner who files a M37 claim can't sell the property until the development on the claim is finished.

Why would this be? If a landowner files for and is granted a variance to a land-use rule, it survives transfer. Same with a conditional use permit. Why would a M37 claim be treated any differently?

Duh - because the ruling elite of this state want to do anything they can to stop Measure 37, and if that means cheating, just like they did when Measure 7 was thrown out in court in a conspiracy between the Governer and the AG's office, so be it.

So with great fanfare, the Democrats all talked on the floor of how the bill "fixes" the transferability problem. Gee thanks.

Of course it also exempts Metro rules from M37 claims. You know, the Metro that recently put an environmental overlay on the region that said all treed areas were protected. And the Metro that cooked up the "Healthy Streams Initiative," that restricted what you can do with your property if you live within 200 feet or so of a stream.

Here's the good part of all of this: The Democrats have overreached big time.

There is an article in the Oregonian today that anticipates the campaign for this referral. It says both sides will run a campaign that tries to "tug at voters' heartstrings."

Wrong. The campaign to defeat this measure should not debate the issue - we already had that vote twice and won it both times handily. This campaign should be a referendum on a legislature that will not listen to the voters, and is so arrogant that even after voters tell them they want something TWICE, at an increasing volume, they give voters the middle finger and ask them one more time.

If I was designing this campaign, I would find all sorts of clever ways to make that point, and do it in a way that pits the voters against the legislators who made this happen. My imagination spins with how many clever and pointed ways yo can get this across in radio or TV ads.

Call it the "How Dare They" campaign.

HOW DARE THEY ask you one more time if you really want Oregon's land use system to be fair.
HOW DARE THEY stick their finger in the eyes of 1 million Oregon voters.
HOW DARE THEY tell Oregon voters how stupid we are.


And the good part of it is, there will be a spillover effect on lots of legislative seats with an incumbent democrat whose district voted 65-70% in favor of Measure 37.

This could be the ditch they die in.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Why is it still OK to be a Marxist?

In the shadow of May Day, the Portland Tribune publishes a story about the work of a proud Portland Marxist who has just published a book that chronicles the radical movement in Portland circa 1930s.

Whenever I read some puff piece on a local Marxist/communist (which really are not all that uncommon) I wonder why is it that it is still considered socially acceptable to be associated with an ideology that resulted in the government-sanctioned murder of 100 million souls?

Can you imagine how outraged people would be if any newspaper published a glowing story about "Portland's last Nazi?" Can you imagine joking comments about how one of our prominent local colleges is a bastion of Nazis, and indoctrinates students in that ideology?

Well, when it comes to government sanctioned murder, the Nazi's were just pikers compared to the Communists. So why is it still considered OK to be a Marxist? Why is being a Marxist still considered to be quaint and charming? It is the most murderous ideology ever to darken the globe, yet guys like the one in the Tribune story are feted, not discredited.

Marxism/communinism/socialism are all collectivist ideologies. The United States was founded on the principle of individualism. The history of the 20th century can be best understood as a near 100 year clash between these two world views.

One resulted, wherever it prevailed, in totalitarian societies, devastating poverty, and mass murder by the governemnt. The other resulted, wherever it prevailed, in wealth and prosperity and freedom of its people.

Yet for some reason the people who populate and control the cultural institutions in our country - the mainstream media, the entertainment industry and both K-12 and higher education are overwhelmingly collectivist in world-view.

So the collectivist worldview gets perpetuated and celebrated, and the monumental disaster that the ideolgy has brought wherever it took root is covered up.

Read Matt Wingard's piece today at Oregon Catalyst for a good analysis of how and why this happens.

It is outrageous - and I think people who still adhere to the foundational values and principles of this country - individual, rather than collective, rights -- should be far more vocal in pointing out the disaster that was the communist/collectivist ideology.

It is about time Marxism was discredited as badly as Nazism.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Maybe teachers ARE underpaid!

After all, at almost $70K, I'd probably have to do this too.

Economic Illiteracy at the Oregonian: What's new?

You probably read the recent news about Oregon's lagging per-capita income. Despite a strong national economy, Oregonians' wages just aren't all that robust, running at 93% of the national average.

The Oregonian today explained why this has happened, and managed, in their explanation, to avoid entirely any mention of business environment, regulations, capital formation, taxes, transportation, or anything else related to encouraging and growing the private sector.

No, viewed through the lens of the Oregonian's editorial board, the reason wages have lagged is because troglodyte Oregon voters have repeatedly failed to sufficiently fund government programs (except jails, which they think shouldn't be funded.)

They trot out all the usual bugaboos as causes of the low per-capita income, and use the list to scold us for being so short sighted: Measure 5, Measure 47 and 50, Measure 11, lack of spending on higher ed and community colleges, and lack of government funded job training, plus their holy grail: our refusal to add a sales tax.

Nowhere in the editorial is there a SINGLE mention of anything that has to do with business environment. They didn't swerve anywhere close to discussing what Oregon just might be doing to discourage high-wage jobs from being created here.

It's amazing. Can they truly be such socialists?