Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Obama's next problem

Barack Obama is in a world of hurt. He's unleashed Pastor Wright, who is now enjoying the national stage where he can put his kookiness out front for all to see.

So yesterday Obama threw Wright under the train. But that just creates another problem: Wright will no doubt strike back in anger. How better to strike back but to shout from the mountaintops how close he and Obama were over the years, how many dinners they shared, talking philosophy, politics, and world views.

In other words - paint the picture that Obama knew full well all about Wright's extreme views.

If a newly scorned Wright wants to take down his stray parishioner, that is all he has to do. After Obama spent the last couple days distancing himself from Wright, saying he had no idea his pastor and spiritual advisor and mentor thought this way, imagine how damaging it would be for Wright to come out and say: "Barry knew all about it - we discussed it all so many times, he never even indicated he thought my views were controversial."

And the superdelegates would flock to Hillary.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Another revealing column by Duin

I got the biggest kick out of Steve Duin's column today.

The great thing about "limited world view" liberals like Duin is that they often write from a presumptive starting point, absolutely certain that any normal reader will share the values reflected in that presumption, because, well, there are only two reasons why someone wouldn't: either he is stupid, or he is evil.

The column was about the diverging paths two Washington High grads took in their careers and their politics. On the one hand is Dianne Linn, and on the other is a guy named Stephen Bradbury, who is now an assistant U.S. Attorney General. They were great friends in high school, but now, they are so politically different!

Duin seems astounded by how someone could travel the political path that Bradbury has taken. There's lot's of wierdness in Portland, says Duin in is opening sentence, "but you'd have a difficult time topping this:"

I'm thinking, reading it: OK, what is coming? What is the wierdest thing that has happened in Portland, according to Duin?"

This Stephen Bradbury fellow, who grew up in Portland's Sunnyside neighborhood ("a mecca of social justice and progressive politics") actually argues that waterboarding is not torture, and once even worked for Clarence Thomas!

That pretty much takes the cake! How could anything be wierder than that? "It makes absolutely no sense to me," he quoted Dianne Linn as saying.

In Steve Duin's world, there is no legitimate argument about these things. That a person could grow up in Portland, have Dianne Linn as a close friend in high school, and then diverge so dramatically from the "progressive" path is just so .... inexplicable! It pretty much blows the mind. There can be almost no explanation.

Dianne Linn - she's the right kind of person. Grew up in liberal Portland, went to liberal Portland State, and maintained her liberal values. We won't mention that she is an incompetent disaster as a manager, a politician, and and in her personal life. We won't mention the Vulcan interpreter, the snow day pay, the same-sex marraige rebuke. We won't mention being drummed out of office in a landslide by the very same liberal voters in Multnomah County.

No, in Duin-world, Dianne Linn is the beacon of virtue. It doesn't matter how much of a mess she has made of literally everything she has touched. This guy Stephen Bradbury -- Stanford Grad, Michigan Law, U.S. Attorney - no, HE is the one to have scorn heaped upon him, because remember: there are only two reasons someone would not share those progressive values - he is evil or he is stupid.

Stupid is off the table on this guy, obviously. So he must be evil. And why would Steve Duin need to be fair or nice or even so much as presume good faith about someone who is evil?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Oregon's biggest religious holiday

Happy Earth Day!

Ironic, isn't it, that The Funny Paper lead editorial today lectures us (once again) on the pending doom of global warming, while the REAL news is the likely fruit crop failure all over the state due to the late spring freeze and record low temperatures.

Over at the Wall Street Journal, one of the founders of Greenpeace writes an op-ed piece about how the environmental movement ignores science in pursuit of their political agenda. And the BrainstormNW Magazine cover story this month exposes the carbon credit trading system scam.

But for adherents to the state's largest religion, things like data and evidence and logic don't really matter. As former U.S. Senator from Colorado and Clinton's Assistant Secretary of State for Global Affairs said to Science Magazine in 1991:

"We've got to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing, in terms of economic policy and environmental policy. "

The point, of course, is that it literally doesn't matter if man is actually causing the planet to warm. It is the policies they want - global warming is just a pretext.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Mark Steyn

If you haven't read anything by Mark Steyn, this is a good place to start.

I think he is one of the smartest, funniest opinion writers of the day. Kind of a cross between George Will and Dave Barry.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Obama's troubling sense of moral equivalence

In the Pennslvania debate last night, Barack Obama onc again put on display his odd tendency to brush aside his close association with people who do and say outrageous things, justifying it with a wierd moral equivalence.

You remember when he made his famous speech on race, and said he could no more disassociate himself from Rev. Wright for his racist and anti-American rantings than he could disown his grandmother because she once told him she was “uncomfortable” when she saw a black man near her on the street.

Oh yeah, those are the same thing.

Last night he was trying to explain why he as maintained a close relationship with Bill Ayers, who as part of the 1970’s radical Weather Underground, placed bombs in the Pentagon and other buildings. A terrorist. An unrepentant terrorist, who after 9-11 said he wished they had done more.

Obama rolled out his warped moral equivalence again. He said that he is also friends with U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, who once said he thought the death penalty maybe should apply to abortionists. Should he disassociate himself with Coburn, Obama asked?

Are those the same things? A terrorist planting bombs on both military and civilian targets, and a politician who suggests that a certain criminal due process maybe should apply to people he thinks are acting illegally? Really?

Obama is clearly well-versed in the post-modernist ethos of moral relativism. This is a dangerous man.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

They can't BS Nigel

For a good laugh you ought to go to Willamette Week's website and watch some of the endorsement interviews for city council candidates. It takes awhile to get to the good parts, but when the talk turns to the emerging "sustainability cluster," it gets laugh out loud funny.

One by one the assembled candidates spew their BS, and Nigel Jaquiss challenges them, revealing their understanding of economics and business to be that of, well, Portland politicians.

The top two bullshit artists were Nick Fish and Jim Middaugh. Nick has run twice unsuccessfully for city council, and Middaugh was Eric Sten's chief of staff. These two consummate insiders are no doubt used to be able to talk circles around the lesser brains at The Funny Paper, the City Club, and other Portland institutions. But when Nigel challenged them they pretty much just stammered the same thing again and again and then stared blankly, wondering why it wasn't working here.

Starting at the 58:30 mark, Middaugh made the claim that Portland can "justifiably claim" that it has reduced carbon emissions to 1990 levels. This is such unadulterated crap. They faked the numbers from whole cloth, got caught by Cascade Policy Institute, and then years later they still repeat the lie. They NEVER MEASURED carbon emission. The claim of reduced emissions was mostly based on less gasoline being purchased inside the city limits. That, of course, is a result of higher gas taxes in the city, and the fact that the city has spent the last 20 years making sure there are fewer gas stations. A complete fabrication, repeated again by Middaugh. What a liar.

Then Middagh goes on to tout the "sustainability cluster." All you have to do is replace "sustainability" with "biotech" and the rest of the promises sound just the same. "The future of our job growth and family wage jobs," Midaugh says. Right. Here's a guy who spent his entire adult life working in politics and environmental movement, and I am going to believe what he says about the next big industry. Sorry.

His feet under him, he rolls out the litany: green building, Gerling-Edlen, renewable energy.... Nigel interrupts, challenges him, tells him all thisgreen building stuff is uneconomic, doesn't pencil. Where's the benefit?

Middaugh is taken aback. Huh? He obviously doesn't have to justify mandating bad investments in his circles. He claims that the payback for green building is in "heathier buildings." "Lower health costs" (yeah, I'd love to see his proof of that. I'm sure that claim is based on very rigorous empirical analysis.) He says in the long run there is reduced energy use and a smaller environmental footprint.

Well there ya have it!

Builder: "Mr. Banker, I want a loan to build this keeno-neat new green office building. It will save a bunch of energy."
Banker: How much more will it cost to build?
Builder: "About $2 million."
Banker: "How much energy cost will it save?"
Builder: "About $10,000 a year."
Banker: "Sorry. Try the PDC."
Builder: "But the environmental footprint will be a lot smaller!"

Middaugh claimed all these new jobs will come from "research and development," "higher end construction," "new insulation technology," and "all those things that we will be able to export internationally."

Oh brother. I think he actually believes it. Here we go, Biotech redux.

This guy is PERFECT for Portland.

But he can't bullshit Nigel Jaquiss!

And The Funny Paper's credibility ratchets lower still

Oh – another thing: The Funny Paper has been once again caught flat footed with the SoWa crash. Flat footed, with their pants down around their ankes.

Really – how bad do they look? They have cheered every single lie about SoWa on for years, never ever doing their job by asking a single skeptical question or revealing that nothing - literally nothing –was happening according to plan.

For years the critics have been pointing out all the ways in which SoWa is failing, and The Funny Paper stonewalled. Now, nine years after the plan was concocted, every single criticism has come to reality.

And The Funny Paper proves once again that it is not a real newspaper, but rather, simply a propaganda rag.

South Waterfront is bankrupt.

Over at Jack Bog's blog, there's a video of Sam Adams admitting, in a question/answer forum, that the infrastructure projects in South Waterfront are totally unfunded. Basically bankrupt.

First, kudos to Jim Karlock for not only asking the question Adams had to answer (which was so clearly and specifically worded that Adams couldn’t BS his way through it,) and also for videotaping the entire exchange.

Adams had to admit that the money has run out, so all sorts of the “improvements” the urban renewal bonds were supposed to pay for are now not going to be completed unless there is some kind of bailout. These “improvements” are little teeny details like taking care of the traffic choke point at Macadam that will prevent the ingress/egress points from clogging up for ten hours each day.

Adams basically shrugged his shoulders in his answer, and tried to make some lame claim that ran something like: “Yeah, it’s true that this thing is way underwater, but if we didn’t put all that density in South Waterfront, we would have to put it in your neighborhood, so you shouldn’t complain.”

What a pile of crap! The only reason for higher density in Portland is because the smart growthers like Sam Adams have mandated it! So it is a bit disingenuous for him to claim we should be happy that South Waterfront is absorbing it all.

Unfortunately, because of the format of the Q/A, Adams never had to answer the obvious follow-ups.

1) Sam, critics of the South Waterfront plan said before this fiasco started that the estimates for the budgeted improvements were a fantasy, yet they were completely ignored. Then, as the projects were in process, there were never any revised estimates produced, even though members of SoWa’s Urban Renewal Advisory Committee time and time again asked for the revisions and pointed out that projects were all way over budget.

Where were you when this was all going on?

2) You are the head of PDOT. According to ODOT, under the best case scenario the SoWa district will create a new traffic choke point bringing about F ratings effecting I-5, Barbur, 43/Macadam, Ross Island Bridge and the Selwood Bridge. Why would we vote for you for mayor when you sat idly by and let this fiasco happen on your watch?

3) Whose heads are going to roll at PDC, the Portland Planning Commission, and in other parts of the Portland bureaucracy for this fiasco?

There are lots of other questions that could be asked. Bottom line, though, is the fact that nobody will ever be held accountable for this mess.

We all told them from the jump that this thing would fail miserably. Every single element of SoWa was built on a lie – from the original rationale of “10,000 biotech jobs” to the ridiculous idea that we should subsidize the construction of a bunch of high end condos.

Now, it is finally admitted that every single thing the critics shouted about have come to pass. Every last one. And what do we have?

A thousand empty condos, $300 million remaining in unfinished infrastructure, almost $300 million in tax revenue already bled off for in-favor developers.

And the cheerleader of it all will be the next mayor!

Once again, my motto for Portland:

Portland - Where nothing succeeds like failure

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Does Barack Obama hate America?

Read this article.

The company a person keeps reveals a lot. Barack Obama has a long history of close associations with some very troubling people. Communists and terrorists. No kidding.

This is going to be so much fun, when John McCain starts bringing it up.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Our first post-modernist President?

For some time now I have been mystified by the allure of Barack Obama. I get that he’s attractive and articulate. But I’ve been waiting for his rhetoric of change and hope to be backed up by something more than words. So far it has not.

As far as I can tell, here is the rhetorical argument Obama makes for his candidacy:

“Yes we can!” We can what?
“Hope!” Hope for what?
“Change?” What kind of change?
“Change we can believe in!”

There’s nothing there. The logic is circular, at best. Truth is, the pitch isn’t a logical argument in the slightest – it’s entirely emotional.

The few times Obama has talked specifically about policy, he’s trotted out the most mundane, goody-bag list of government program proposals that have been standard faire in Democrat political circles for decades.

If that is the change he is selling as something that will unite people, he better stop being specific.

So I’ve been wondering when would his legions of supporters start to look under the hood of their shiny new sportscar and see the 1200CC four cylinder motor. But that hasn’t yet happened.

I think I now know why.

Obama is inspiring millions of young voters, kids who are mostly a decade or less out of school. For the last 15 or so years in the public schools have been striving to teach “critical thinking skills.”

What’s wrong with that, you ask? Well, just what is “critical thinking?” They never really do define it, and believe me, I have asked dozens of educrats what they mean when they use the phrase.

In classical education, kids are taught logic. Logical thinking is the “grammar” of rhetoric. Any argument, any educated thought process, has its basis in the fundamentals of logic. Without logic, there is no rationality.

So why would the public schools not want to teach logical thinking? What do they mean by critical thinking, anyway.

If you really drill down and investigate the origins of the phrase, it comes from the post-modernism “critical theory” movement that has been all the rage for literature and history professors in our universities for a couple decades.

“Critical theory” throws logic out the window. It assumes, as its point of departure, that any text, any argument, any event, has no independent meaning other than what is perceived by the recipient. So when analyzing literature, critical theory assumes that it is futile try to understand what the author is driving at, because that does not matter. What matters is what the text means to the reader, and in arriving at that meaning, there are no logical boundaries. It can mean anything the reader wants it to mean.

I know that sounds crazy, but it is true. And this is the philosophical underpinning of what our kids have been taught about “critical thinking skills” in public school. What matters is how they feel about something, not what that thing actually means.

An example of how this philosophy has wiggled its way into our popular and legal culture, just look at sexual harassment policies and laws. Many state explicitly that what matters is not what the accused harasser intended by his actions, but how those actions made the victim feel.

So how does this apply to Barack Obama? Millions of young voters spent their formative years being steeped in this “critical theory” nonsense. Barack Obama makes them feel hopeful. They have been trained to elevate these feelings over and above any logical impulse they might have to analyze them.

So they simply do not subject Obama’s inspirational words to any logical test to see if they make sense. They have been trained not to. His words mean only what they want them to – no more and no less.

So, will Obama be our first post-modernist President? Could be.

Dorothy English, RIP

Well, the government successfully ran out the clock on Dorothy English’s pursuit to win back her property rights. I can’t express how angry this makes me.

I honestly do not understand how anyone can support the government having the power to simply destroy the value of your real estate, and have no accountability for it. And then to cynically use every available legal and bureaucratic roadblock to delay things long enough until the plaintiff dies – this is simply immoral.

In my view, a government that acts in such a way has lost its claim to legitimacy. It really is that simple.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Did she finish high school?

Front page Funny Paper article today about the spike in high school dropouts. State Sup't Susan Castillo was quoted:

"There is no way a student can expect to be successful in the future if they do not graduate from high school today," said Oregon schools Superintendent Susan Castillo.

Anybody else see the glaring grammatical error? Kind of ironic, isn't it, for the leader of our public school system to give such a quote when discussing dropouts.

Update: I was curious whether this quote was given in an interview, or if The Funny Paper took it from a press release, so I went to the Oregon Department of Education website to check. Sure enough, the press release is there, but the grammatical error is not. Which left me to wonder: did The Funny Paper transcribe the quote wrong? Or was the error in the original press release, and then changed after it was pointed out.

Odds are, it was the latter. Whoever writes her press releases needs a grammar check.

I reminds me of when I was running against Ms. Castillo, and her campaign website actually misspelled the word "Superintendent." No kidding!

Update #2: It would be unfair of me to not fess up to a grammatical mistake of my own that happened during my campaign back then. It was in an interview with the Statesman Journal, talking about my early fundraising success. The reporter couldn't believe I had raised so much money so soon, and asked if I had loaned the money to my campaign. I said something like "There's no loans...".

He made sure that the grammar misake was not just printed in the story, but also was a pull quote, prominently displayed.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

More propaganda

The Funny Paper has become a leading global warming propaganda sheet. It seems as if every single day there is some story that pushes the Al-Gore-Alarmist viewpoint.

Often they have to really stretch to create "news" that supports the narrative. Yesterday is a case in point.

The story was about a "panel discussion" that was part of "Public Health Week," a weeklong seminar/symposia put on by the Oregon Department of Human Services. The event itself is a perfect example of useless government activity. Governor Kulongoski issued a proclamation declaring April 7th to 13th to be Public Health Week, and the bureaucrats then get to have a conference so they can listen to each other pontificate about ways to empower themselves.

So of course, the government bureaucrats decided that the single most pressing "public health" issue of the day was ..... not sexually transmitted diseases, not Type II diabetes, not methamphetamine abuse, but (drumroll please) ..... global warming!

The theme for the week is: "Climate Change: Our Health in the Balance".

The story reported in The Funny Paper was about the panel discussion by a gaggle of certified smart folks who claim that a warmer Earth will create a health crisis. Read the story - it zigs and zag from the absurd to the easily refuted, then back to the ridiculous.

Featured in the story is Dr. Mel Kohn who tells about the public health disaster that will surely happen if the Earth heats up. More deaths from heatstroke. More allergies, because ragweed and poison ivy thrive on CO2. (Guess what? ALL plants thrive on CO2!) He said diminished snowpack means more wildfires and less water for farmers. (Meanwhile, record snow levels in Oregon's mountains!)

But the best part was the scariest thing I have ever read about the danger of global warmng: specter of spoiled potato salad at our picnics! Oh. My. God. He actually said: "If there's more sun, we're probably gunna see more spoiled potato salad." Sacre Bleu!

The solution to this crisis? You would have never guessed it. Honestly, who would predict that the crisis can be averted by "getting people out of their cars?"

I mean, what are the odds? Here we have a brand new risk to our health, and the solution just happens to be precisely what all the certified smart people have been advocating for years and years! They really ARE smart!

The Funny Paper did its sworn duty reporting this non-news event, without, as usual, so much as asking a single skeptical question. Such as: "Are there any positive health benefits to a warmer climate?"

It would seem that this would be an obvious question to anyone who was making claims that global warming was a huge public health problem. The panel itself, stacked with folks like Rex Burkholder and other members of the choir could hardly be expected to actually discuss the issue honestly - they have an obvious agenda, and the entire even is centered around giving them a forum to advance it.

But if we had a real newspaper rather than a propaganda sheet, we would have a reporter writing the story to whom it might occur that there might be a skeptical question or two to ask.A reporter who might actually look into the issue that was being discussed, and who might find, if such a reporter was actually serious about being a journalist, the following:

  • A study by Stanford researcher Thomas Gale Moore found that warmer temperatures were related to lower mortality rates, not higher. Lots of reasons for this, one being there are far more col-related deaths than heat-related deaths.
  • A 1999 book called "The Impact of Climate Change on the U.S. Economy" found that warmer temperatures would increase GDP, due to more productive agriculture and recreation sectors.
  • Many other positive benefits from warmer winters: fewer highway deaths, lower heating bills, reduced energy needs, more usable land, and a slew others.

But I had to search high and low to find this stuff. Couldn't really expect a journalist to do that kind of research on deadline. After all, it took hours and hours to type "benefits of global warming" into Google, and find all of these things on the very first page.

Is there any doubt whatever that The Funny Paper is simply a propaganda sheet?