Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Thursday, May 31, 2007

No Corridor Development.....EVER!!!!!!!

I called this last week. Not only is Moscow going to quash any Pullman-Moscow corridor development by Whitman County, it is going to stop Pullman from developing in the corridor as well. As tempting as it is to chant "Four more years!!" for Queen Nancy and drive all the businesses across the border into Washington, she and the Aquinuts are really becoming a pain in the ass. Notice the hypocrisy. Mark Solomon has repeatedly stated that municipal water is the way to go in the corridor. The airport reservoir proposal by the Pullman City Council would have done just that, versus the well that the Hawkins Companies is proposing. No dice. It has nothing to do with water. It's all an excuse. From today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Airport board adopts Plan B in regard to reservoir

Group informally selects smaller reservoir to provide water in case of fire

Moscow Mayor Nancy Chaney doesn't want any misunderstanding when it comes to her stance on water.

Chaney, who also serves as vice chairwoman of the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport Board, said the Palouse's water needs to be preserved, and that's why she balked when she was presented with the concept of constructing a reservoir that would provide fire flow to the airport and water for future development on the Pullman-Moscow Highway.

She said the idea was a "shielded proposal" to provide for development, not a sound solution to the airport's water woes.

On Wednesday, the airport board considered ways to solve inadequate fire flow to the airport, which has put any proposed construction of airplane hangers on hold. Fire codes require that 3,500 gallons of water per minute be accessible for up to two hours on the airport property.

A Pullman Public Works Department proposal to build a $2.7 million, 600,000-gallon reservoir to serve the airport and potential growth in the highway corridor was recently denied by members of the airport board. The water would have been provided by Washington State University and piped to the airport through Pullman water lines.

Mel Taylor, an airport board member and Washington State University executive director of real estate operations and external affairs, said the university will not supply water for any kind of development in the highway corridor.

"We can't offer our water for commercial use," he said. "We won't, the university won't, get into the business of selling our water for commercial use. The only thing it can be used for is fire flow."

Instead, the board informally accepted Plan B, which is a $1.5 million, 420,000-gallon reservoir to be built along the north side of Airport Road. If approved, the reservoir will provide water solely for fire flow through a system of hydrants along the airport property.

"It's really important that we provide fire flow to the airport," Chaney said. "That was how it was originally presented."

Board members will report back to their respective entities for discussion of the project. The concept was presented to the Pullman City Council May 22 and informally approved. The board is made up of representatives of airport stakeholders, which include the cities of Pullman and Moscow, WSU, the University of Idaho and the Port of Whitman County.

Airport Manager Robb Parish said he hopes the project moves along quickly, adding that the fire-flow problem needed to be corrected "yesterday."

"From an airport perspective, I don't care what the solution is, as long as there is one," he said.

Parish said he was pleased with the project's headway and noted the airport board is working efficiently as an entity.

"It's pulling the group together to solve a problem, and it's working," he said.

One concept for funding the fire-flow project would be to replace the current 20-year bond for the terminal and terminal improvements, which expires in 2008, with a new 20-year bond for fire flow. The idea has been discussed, but no action has been taken by the airport board.

Exactly which jurisdiction will pay for the water, maintenance and other costs has not been decided.

"Right now, we're kind of in a concept phase," Parish said. "But I think the concept is a good one."

Parish said the timing for the project is good, as the board is currently reading amended airport interlocal agreement drafts, which will provide clarification about the board and provide ease of reference on operation, management and obligation issues.

Hillary's Campaign Song

I understand that Hillary Clinton is asking fans to vote on a theme song for her campaign.

Here's my recommendation.

Oh Lord it's hard to be humble
When you're perfect in every way
I can't wait to look in the mirror
Cuz I get better lookin each day

To know me is to love me
I must be a hell of a man
Oh Lord it's hard to be humble
But I'm doin' the best that I can

I used to have a girlfriend
But I guess she just couldn't compete
With all these love starved women
Who keep clamoring at my feet

Well I probably could find me another
But I guess they're all in awe of me
Who cares I never get lonesome
Cuz I treasure my own company

Oh Lord it's hard to be humble
When you're perfect in every way
I can't wait to look in the mirror
Cuz I get better lookin each day

To know me is to love me
I must be a hell of a man
Oh Lord it's hard to be humble
But I'm doin the best that I can

I guess you could say I am a loner
A cowboy all locked up and proud
Well I could have lots of friends if I wanted
But then I wouldn't stand out in a crowd

Some folks say that I'm egotistical
Hell I don't even know what that means
I guess it has something to do with the way
That I fill out my skin tight blue jeans

He's In!

Fred Thompson to make it official soon.

Fred Thompson is in the Republican race for president.

Fred Thompson's red campaign pickup truck, made famous by his successful 1994 U.S. Senate run, is ready once again to leave the driveway. This time, it's pointed toward the White House.

The actor and former Republican Senator plans to form an exploratory committee in Tennessee, possibly as early as Friday, that will let him start raising funds for a presidential bid, longtime friend and political advisor Tom Ingram said Wednesday.

Thompson confirmed in an interview with USA Today published online Wednesday that he would seek the GOP nomination for president, setting the wheels in motion to transform the Law & Order star from a shadow campaigner into a viable candidate. An official announcement is expected around July 4, according to several published reports.

Hillary: I'm Above Hypocrisy

John Edwards has a competition in the hypocrite of the year competition.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday that she followed all Senate rules when she accepted rides on a private jet from a longtime benefactor.

"Whatever I've done, I complied with Senate rules at the time. That's the way every senator operates," the Democratic presidential contender said in an interview with The Associated Press during a campaign stop in Las Vegas.

Clinton's travel, along with and consulting fees paid to her husband, the former president, have come to light recently in a lawsuit against Vinod Gupta, a Clinton contributor and chief executive of the data company, InfoUSA Inc.

The lawsuit by company shareholders accuses Gupta of excessively spending millions of dollars, including $900,000 worth of travel on the Clintons.

Sen. Clinton, who complained about corporate America's largesse and skyrocketing executive pay during campaign events Wednesday, said she did not believe her message was undermined by her acceptance of the private flights. In line with Senate rules then in effect, Clinton's campaign has said she reimbursed Gupta at the cost of a first-class flight, typically a significant discount off the expense of a private jet.

"Those were the rules. You'll have to ask somebody else whether that's good policy," she said.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Man Bites Dog - No! Really!

The good news is that no American tax dollars were harmed during this "performance."

Ozzy Osbourne has company in Great Britain's queer cuisine circles.

A British artist ate a corgi dog, famous for being Queen Elizabeth II's favourite breed, in protest Tuesday after a group including her husband Prince Philip allegedly killed a fox earlier this year.

Mark McGowan, who has previously eaten a swan as part of a performance art show, tucked into the dog alongside Yoko Ono, the widow of ex-Beatle John Lennon, live on a London radio station.

"I know some people will find this offensive and tasteless but I am doing this to raise awareness about the RSPCA's inability to prosecute Prince Philip and his friends shooting a fox earlier this year, letting it struggle for life for five minutes and then beating it to death with a stick," he said.

The RSPCA (the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is in charge of handing over evidence to British prosecutors in cases where they believe acts of cruelty to animals have been committed.

They said they found "no evidence" that any offence had taken place in January, when the incident took place.

"An independent post-mortem examination was carried out and found that the fox died from gunshot wounds -- and no evidence of other injury or trauma was found," it said in a statement.

"The only witness who could have supported the version of events reported in some sections of the media refused to give a statement."

McGowan said the dog, which died at a breeding farm, tasted "really, really disgusting," and added that Ono "looked a bit strange" as she also tasted the dog.

The queen has owned more than 30 corgis during her reign, which started in 1952, and currently owns four -- Pharos, Swift, Emma and Linnet.

"Planning unit wants more info before setting water flow levels"

From yesterday's Moscow-Pullman Daily News. Still nothing on removing the impaired status of the South Fork of the Palouse River...
The planning unit charged with setting instream water flow levels in the North Fork of the Palouse River has decided to slow down the process to make sure it balances the needs of fish and humans.

The primary reason for the slowdown is that the planning unit wants to make an accurate and fair decision about the water needs of the North Fork for the next 25-50 years. State money to hire a consultant also is running out, and planning unit members don't feel they are ready to make a decision on their own.

The planning unit is made up of Whitman County staff and elected officials, local landowners and representatives from the Palouse Conservation District and the city of Pullman.

Whitman County Commissioner Michael Largent said the planning unit will request help from outside agencies that have experience dealing with the instream water-flow process. The goal is to assess how much actual water is needed to sustain development and native habitat.

Whitman County makes up the majority of Water Resource Inventory Area 34. The state is forming water-use plans to determine how much water is available and how much is being used. The instream water-flow process will be used for the WRIA's long-range planning. It is designed to protect senior water rights in a watershed, give instream plants and fish enough water to protect their habitat, and determine if sufficient water remains to allow future domestic water rights.

At the planning unit's last meeting earlier this month, state agencies tried to get the planning unit to agree on a reserve number that would allow for future growth. The county threw out 1 cubic foot of water per second for a water reserve.

Largent said that number is mostly useless without an in-depth understanding of what it means.

Largent plans to contact a Washington Farm Bureau lawyer who helped write the legislation for the WRIA process and has dealt with instream water flow processes.

The WRIA group has relied on the Washington Department of Ecology and its consultant for advice. Now, it wants some other opinions.

"The county isn't out to rape and pillage its resources, contrary to many beliefs," Largent said. "We want to balance the needs of fish and humans."

Largent hopes outside perspectives will help the unit reach a water reserve that will allow for growth and preserve native habitat.

Rob Buchert, with the Palouse Conservation District, which is facilitating the process, said money also is a huge factor in the group's decision to slow down.

Ecology gave the planning unit $15,000 to hire an outside consultant to help the unit with its planning. The money pays for four meetings, and the planning unit already has had three.

By asking for help from experienced people in the state, the planning unit hopes to have a better idea of what it needs and optimize the last meeting.

"We're trying to make a $100,000 decision with $15,000," Buchert said. "We are faced with making a decision on limited information on something with long-reaching implications. We want to make darn sure we have the best information available and make accurate interpretations of that information."

Some people have begun to link the conservation district with Ecology, but Buchert said they are separate and unique entities.

The conservation district is chaired by five local farmers who set the goals for the district. Buchert said the board has determined that water-planning issues are important and that is why the Palouse Conservation District is facilitating the WRIA process.

Ecology and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife would set flow rates and determine water allocations if Whitman County, the conservation district and other entities and individuals were not involved.

Largent and Buchert said that could be harmful to the area because the state entities would have to develop their plans based on worst-case scenarios.

The planning unit will meet June 11 to discuss the problems and attributes of setting water flows based on mean water-flow data.

Part of the operating rules for Ecology in determining instream water-flow settings is that it considers groundwater and surface water to be directly connected. The planning unit wants to know how they are connected and how long it takes for water to penetrate the soil and reach the stream.

Largent said people could pump groundwater during a dry spell and not have a sudden impact on stream levels.

"We just don't know at this point, and it's hard to set policy on that," Largent said. "But we have to move forward so we are going to look to other people that have experience for advice."

Largent said the planning unit needs and wants to use the area's water, but it also wants to be wise and not limit growth unnecessarily.

The planning unit had hoped to determine its minimum water-flow settings by year's end. It is unclear whether it will be able to make a decision by that time.

If You Think John Edwards Is Vain....

Of course, we all know that John Kerry spent a fortune on his perfectly coiffed hair. We just don't know how much because he paid his stylist with Theresa's money rather than campaign funds, as John Edwards does.

But, we do know how much money John Kerry spent "pimping" his ride in 2004

The campaign paid nearly $225,000 to install a telephone system on Edward’s plane and more than $63,000 to apply decals to the side of Kerry’s, according to the auditors, who argue the general election campaign should pay for the customizations. They assert that since the decals identified Edwards, who is seeking the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, as Kerry’s running mate “they clearly referred to the general campaign, as the Democratic Party’s presidential and vice-presidential nominees, and not to Senator Kerry’s primary campaign.”

Hat tip: The Blogfather

Even the New York Times Has Had Enough of Michael Moore

The US healthcare system would be in much better shape, if not for greaseballs like Michael Moore.

When the New York Times stands up for the American health care system, you know that Michael Moore has gone too far.

CUBA works hard to jam American TV signals and keep out decadent Hollywood films. But it’s a good bet that Fidel Castro’s government will turn a blind eye to bootleg copies of “Sicko,” Michael Moore’s newest movie, if they show up on the streets of Havana.

“Sicko,” the talk of the Cannes Film Festival last week, savages the American health care system — and along the way extols Cuba’s system as the neatest thing since the white linen guayabera.

Mr. Moore transports a handful of sick Americans to Cuba for treatment in the course of the film, which is scheduled to open in the United States next month, and he is apparently dumbfounded that they could get there what they couldn’t get here.

“There’s a reason Cubans live on average longer than we do,” he told Time magazine. “I’m not trumpeting Castro or his regime. I just want to say to fellow Americans, ‘C’mon, we’re the United States. If they can do this, we can do it.’ ”

But hold on. Do they do it? Live longer than, or even as long as, we do? How could a poor developing country — where annual health care spending averages just $230 a person compared with $6,096 in the United States — come anywhere near matching the richest country in the world?

But here's my favorite part - the reasons why Cubans might have a life exptancy as long as the US:

Dr. Butler said some of Cuba’s shortcomings may actually improve its health profile. “Because they don’t have up-to-date cars, they tend to have to exercise more by walking,” he said. “And they may not have a surfeit of food, which keeps them from problems like obesity, but they’re not starving, either.”

Cuban markets are not always well stocked, but city streets are dotted with hot dog and ice cream vendors. Bellies are full, but such food can cause problems in the future, as it has in the United States.

Dr. Butler has just completed a study that shows it is possible that because of the epidemic of obesity in children, “this may be the first generation of Americans to live less long than their parents.”

In other words, if the US life expectancy is not as long as we'd like, then the primary reason is that we have too many fat pigs like Michael Moore.

Apparently, ABC News doesn't bother to do much research. They don't even read the Times

Monday, May 28, 2007

Democrat Racism

With Bobby Jindal leading the polls for Lousianna governor, Democrats have resorted to race baiting. After all, he's not as white as his name would suggest.

Mention the name "Bobby" in Louisiana political circles these days and most everyone will assume you are talking about Bobby Jindal, the popular second-term congressman now running at the top of the polls for governor.

But some Democrats would like to remind voters that Bobby Jindal has another name: Piyush.

In news releases, interviews and small talk, they frequently refer to Jindal by his Indian, given first name. Last week, "Piyush" popped out of the mouth of former Sen. John Breaux, D-La., who briefly considered running for governor.

Democrats say it's a way of throwing back the curtain on what they say is a "manufactured candidate" who has carefully crafted a public image that doesn't measure up to reality.

Jindal brushes it off as a "silly schoolyard tactic." Others, however, say it is a blatantly racist appeal that seeks to score political points by stoking biases many had hoped were on the wane in the Deep South.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Remember Our Fallen

"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."

- George Orwell
Today, let us remember some of those "rough men" from Whitman County who died on our behalf:

Staff Sergeant Travis W. Nixon, 24, of St. John; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, NC; died from injuries sustained October 29, 2005 when his patrol was attacked by enemy forces using small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades north of Lwara, Afghanistan. SSGT Nixon, who had served in Afghanistan and Iraq previously, was awarded the Silver Star posthumously for his heroism in protecting the members of his squad.

Army Sergeant Jacob H. Demand, 29, of Palouse; assigned to the 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, Fort Lewis, WA; killed September 14, 2004 when his patrol was attacked by enemy forces in Mosul, Iraq. SGT Demand was a month away from coming home when he was killed.

Army Sergeant Damien T. Ficek, 26, from Pullman, died December 30, 2004 in Baghdad, Iraq, when his patrol was attacked by enemy forces using small arms fire. Ficek was assigned to the Washington Army National Guard's 1st Battalion, 161st Infantry Regiment, Spokane, WA. SGT Ficek was a WSU student in the athletic training education program.

"Union betrays its own members"

Dynamite column by Froma Harrop today:
The American working class has few friends, and that sad situation is never more apparent than when the issue is immigration. The fat cats want unlimited supplies of cheap labor. It makes sense. That a giant union purportedly serving low-skilled workers would further that end does not.

The Service Employees International Union is backing a proposal to greatly expand the supply of low-cost labor pouring into the United States. The reason why is close to crazy.

Under the Senate immigration compromise, at least 400,000 two-year visas would be issued a year to unskilled foreigners. The visas could be renewed two times, but to ensure that the guest labor is truly temporary, workers would have to leave the country for a year between each stint. The SEIU apparently has a problem with the part about the workers being temporary.

First off, any self-respecting union would blow its top at the very suggestion of a massive new guest-worker program. The AFL-CIO adamantly opposes the idea. Its president, John Sweeney, complains that the program gives employers "a ready pool of labor they can exploit to drive down wages, benefits, health and safety protections, and other workplace standards."

There are temporary jobs – for example, harvesting crops. But these new visas are designed to provide cut-rate labor to fill permanent positions in such businesses as meat processing, restaurants and motels.

The SEIU covers many of the very people who take these jobs. It seems curious that the union does not mind adding another half million workers a year to compete with its own members. Its Web site contends that America has a shortage of 10 million workers and that "nearly half of all jobs created from now until 2012 will be held by workers with a high school diploma or less."

Duh – but don't worker shortages cause wages to rise? The wages of "workers with a high school diploma or less" have been crashing through the floor. Or hasn't the SEIU noticed that its contract "victories" are not that fabulous?

It's hard to believe that the SEIU's leaders are dumb. Rather, they ignore the law of supply and demand to cover another agenda. Thus, one can't be sure whether the SEIU aspires to be a union representing workers or an arm of the National Council of La Raza, a group that claims to further the interests of Hispanics – and does a lousy job of it.

Democrats who think they can get away with throwing blue-collar America to the wolves in return for new immigrants' votes should think again. Many Latinos who are native-born or legal immigrants – however sympathetic to fellow Hispanics who want to come here – do understand how the labor market has been rigged against them. The open border is why median wages are higher in Alabama than they are in Texas.

And there are other low-income groups who fancy their interests matter. T. William Fair, head of the Miami Urban League, appears in ads calling amnesty for illegal workers "a slap in the face to black Americans" and "an economic disaster." Some predict a new coalition of working-class blacks, whites and not a few Latinos questioning certain Democrats' loyalty to their cause. (Cheap-labor Republicans are already on notice.)

Controlled immigration is a good thing, and a little wage competition is an acceptable price for bringing new blood and energy into the country. But the numbers really do matter. If some unions and Democrats choose to deny the economic realities, they should at least be open about their motives. It would be highly risky to assume that everyone else is stupid.
The SEIU, as you may or may not know, is the force behind Wal-Mart Watch. Wal-Mart watch has had the temerity to attack Wal-Mart over undocumented workers and outsourcing American jobs.

This hypocrisy proves that union thugs are only interested in more dues, not the workers, to maintain their lavish lifestyles and buy power and inlfuence in D.C.

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Now That's a Big Hog!

Story here.

UPDATE FROM TOM: If that's .50 cal and a revolver, it must be the Smith & Wesson Model 500. "Considering this is a .50 magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world and will blow your head CLEAN OFF, you need to ask yourself a question... 'Do I feel lucky?'... Well, DO ya, PIG?"

More on Rachel Carson, DDT and Malaria

From a victim.

The 2007 World Health Assembly is wrapping up and people are commemorating the birthday of Silent Spring author Rachel Carson. Meanwhile, millions of Africans are commemorating still more deaths from a disease that the chemical she vilified could help control.

I just got out of the hospital, after another nasty case of malaria. I've had it dozens of times. I lost my son, two sisters and three nephews to it. Fifty out of 500 children in our local school for orphans died from malaria in 2005.

Virtually every Ugandan family has buried babies, children, mothers and fathers because of this disease, which kills 100,000 of us every year. Even today, 50 years after it was eradicated in the United States, malaria is the biggest killer of African children, sending 3,000 to their graves every day.

In between convulsions and fever, I thought about the progress we're making – and about those who would stop that progress. I ask myself, why do some people care more about minor, hypothetical risks to people or animals than about human life?

The Funeral of Officer Lee Newbill

Officer Lee Newbill

I have the somber privilege to attend Officer Lee Newbill's funeral today. Starting out around 0800 hrs this morning

I made my way to the staging for the procession which was at the old Tidyman's in Moscow's East side. I arrived with the parking lot about half full of police cars from all over Idaho, Washington, and beyond. Police Officers who did not know Officer Lee Newbill and those who did were gathering for this event. Fire engines and other fire rigs from Pullman, Colfax, Lewiston, Moscow, Whitman County Fire District 12 and others were also there to pay tribute to this man.

Police Cars fill the Tidyman's parking lot

Patrol cars from Latah County and Moscow fill nearby parking lot

A couple of the fire department rigs lined up on the street

A close up of the officers waiting from the procession to start

At about 10:00 AM the procession started. It was long enough that as my vehicle was pulling into the parking of the Kibbie Dome the last cars were leaving Tidyman's. Along the route people were standing on the sides of the streets and police officers on Motorcycles where blocking intersections. There were people who had their hand over their heart, American Flags, signs of support, and cub scout troops along the way.

We arrived at the Kibbie dome where a Lewiston Ladder truck and Moscow Ladder truck had their ladders crossed with a huge American Flag blowing in the breeze. We walked into the Kibbie Dome and made our way to the seating on the floor. There were about 800 chairs on the floor. Over the next two hours officers from the various agencies mingled with one another.

Officer Walk to Kibbie Dome with American Flag in the Background

Then Glenn Johnson asked everyone to the seats as the funeral was about to get started. By this time many people from the public had made their way into the Kibbie Dome, nearly all the available seats were taken with both police officers, EMS workers, and the public.

Moscow Police Chief Weaver talked about Newbill and his qualities. He got a couple laughs when telling a story about Officer Newbill and Moscow's purchase of a Segway Scooter.

It was Officer Newbills who was testing it out riding it around the UI campus and to the police station. An event was held to show off the scooter to the public and the media. Part of the rules were that the officer riding the scooter had to have a helmet on. While Newbill was riding the scooter he crashed it, only as Officer Newbill could. Later as the public were making comments, one elderly lady said "It is nice to see the police are hiring the handicap".

The children of Officer Newbill got up to speak. His two daughters went first, both telling some stories about their dad. Some more laughter was heard from the crowd. Then Officer Newbill's son, who is in the military like his father was, and plans to be a police officer, spoke. He quoted a poem from the Officer Down Memorial Page. Following the poem he was getting choked up and could hardly talk. He was in his Air Force uniform. He turned to his father shrine on the stage and saluted. That caused a lot of emotion from the crowd. I could see people starting to wipe tears. I could hear people sniffling. It was touching.

The flag was presented to the family and a 21-gun salute was given. That is when Whitcom (the dispatch center) got on the air. So soon as people hear the sound of the mic keying up, I saw heads quickly drop. We all knew was coming.

"149 - Moscow"
(the police emergency tones go out)
A couple words are spoken in honor of Officer Newbill then it was said:
"149 out of service".

Following the funeral a large number of bikers were outside near the ladder trucks each one holding an American Flag.

Bikers Line up with American Flags

Department of Ecological Fallacies

I have been astonished (sarcasm intended) that none of the important developments concerning water in the corridor have been covered by the Daily News. Yes, I know the Moscow shooting coverage has dominated the news, but there have been stories this week about the Deary fire hall and the Garfield-Palouse prom.

I have stated before that we don't need Moscow trying to stop development in the corridor, our own state's idiot bureaucracy is doing a great job on that front already. Last Friday, KMAX reported that the Whitman County Water Conservancy Board meeting scheduled for two weeks ago Monday was canceled because it had been determined that the Hawkins Companies stormwater plan might reduce the flow of Paradise Creek below Department of Ecology limits. Hawkins' plan was to have no runoff by catching all the stormwater in a large basin. I guess DOE's concern is that whatever rain that falls in that field currently won't make it into the creek. Talk about damned if you and damned if you don't. On the one hand, DOE says Paradise Creek has too much turbidity from runoff. So when Hawkins mitigates that, now DOE says there won't be enough runoff. There will not be another Water Conservancy Board meeting until Hawkins revises its plan.

In another major development, KQQQ reported that DOE is recommending that the South Fork of the Palouse River in Whitman County be removed from "impaired river" status and DOE is taking comments on the decision until June 22. Unfortunately the city of Pullman will still be required to comply with the much stricter stormwater licensing requirements.

This decision ceomes out of the ongoing TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) study. DOE has found certain persistent chemicals are showing lower levels over the past decades. However, water temperature and fecal coliform continues to be an issue that DOE will require Whitman County to manage.

State Environmental Policy Act requirements are not expected to change significantly due to this particular report. And water availability issues will continue to be a more restrictive element to development in the corridor than water quality issues.

A quick analysis of the 117 page report brings up some screwy things:
The fish fauna in the Palouse River is limited with respect to species generally considered desirable as food. The predominant species of catchable size are large-scale suckers, northern pike minnow, smallmouth bass, and chiselmouth.
However, the Washington Department of Fish and Game PAYS people to fish for and kill the Northern Pikeminnow because they eat salmon eggs and young salmon!

We are cleaning up our river at great cost as directed by DOE to improve habitat for a fish that destroys salmon runs, which is supposedly DOE's biggest priority. Insanity.
Fish tissue concentrations of dieldrin and PCBs have decreased by 2 to 3 orders of magnitude over the past 10 to 20 years and will continue to decrease without further action being taken. However the actions outlined in the previous section will assure that the levels of these pollutants continue to decline and may even accelerate the timeframe when the Palouse River will reach water quality standards for dieldrin and PCBs.
So, we can do NOTHING and we will still achieve approximately the same results as with the restrictions and costly measures.

I Feel Pretty

A little off the top.

Will Bin Laden Make Amnesty International's Poll Next Time?

In and absurd exhibition of Bush Derangement Syndrome, Amnesty asked the question: Who's worst - Darth Vader, The Green Goblin or Dick Cheney?

actually, Amnesty International took its poll down, apparently realizing how adults were veiwing it. But, do you suppose Amnesty International will have anything to say about Al Qaeda's torture manual?
I'm not holding my breath.

Rachel Carson's Lethal Legacy

Who was responsible for more deaths - Adolf Hitler, or Rachel Carson?

Tomorrow millions of people will celebrate the 100th birthday of one of the most lethal human beings in history. No, I’m not talking about neo-Nazis recalling Adolph Hitler’s birth. And, I’m not taking about nostalgic communists reminiscing about Lenin, Stalin, Pol Pot, Fidel Castro, Che Guevara or Mao Zedong - although all certainly rank among the most murderous despots of the 20th century.
No, Sunday will be dawn with environmentalists lighting candles and reciting poetry in remembrance of Rachel Carson, author of “Silent Spring.” Silent Spring described a supposedly steep decline in bird populations she attributed to the excessive application of the most effective insecticide man has ever invented, DDT.
Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane, otherwise known as DDT, was deadly to bugs but harmless to humans. DDT was an essential tool for the eradication of malaria from North America and Europe. Malaria was well on its way to becoming an historical footnote worldwide before its use was effectively banned with more inflexibly than any of the “thou shalt nots” found in the 10 Commandments. Recently fear mongering environmentalists have raised the specter of malaria spreading into the North America as consequence of global warming. In truth, before it was eradicated with DDT, malaria was common in the United States centuries before the first SUV hauled kids to soccer games. If and when malaria creeps back up the Mississippi River, environmentalists will have more to answer for than Big Oil.
Silent Spring became the bible for the modern environmental movement and made Rachel Carson the messiah for uncompromising environmental fundamentalism. The religious fervor of the modern environmentalism has stifled progress that would actually make the earth cleaner and its people healthier. Environmental inflexibility prohibits self-defending genetically modified crops from being sown and actually forces farmers to use more pesticides than they otherwise would have to. The only tangible result of r-BST free milk is a higher price. We belch far more carbon into the atmosphere because of environmental fundamentalists’ reflexive opposition to building nuclear power plants.
In noting her upcoming birthday anniversary, The Washington Post earlier this week admitted that “numerous” deaths were directly attributed to the DDT ban and Rachel Carson’s prose. Numerous is a delicate choice of words considering that by the time you finish reading this column, several children will have died unnecessarily from malaria, a disease that was nearly eradicated before DDT was banned. In sub-Saharan Africa, children under the age of 5 years perish unnecessarily from malaria at the rate of about one every 30 seconds. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly a million children under the age of five succumb to malaria annually. Indirectly, malaria kills far more than that. The number one risk factor for premature death around the world is poverty. And malaria imposes a monstrous economic burden on sub-Saharan Africa as even its survivors are left too weak to work.
Without DDT, high tech solutions have turned to genetically modified mosquitoes that out-compete native species, but do not transmit malaria. In addition, the US Army has been investigating novel vaccine regimens. The highly evolved biology of the malarial plasmodium parasite permits it to evade immune defenses and so far frustrated traditional vaccine strategies.
But we should not throw up our hands in frustration until we can relax DDT restrictions or come up with biotech solutions to malaria. There is something we can do today to help. Nothing But Nets is a mission of the United Methodist Church, the National Basketball Association, Sports Illustrated magazine, The Mark J. Gordon Foundation, Major League Soccer, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Nothing But Nets purchases insecticide-treated bed nets and distributes them in malaria-afflicted areas of the world.
While HIV/AIDS gains the greatest media and political attention, malaria kills far more people worldwide. And while most HIV is still transmitted the old-fashioned way, through promiscuous unprotected sex, malaria is contracted during unprotected sleep. A net for a child will greatly improve that child’s chances of growing into a healthy adult.
You can learn more about this worthy campaign by navigating your browser to http://www.nothingbutnets.net. There you will learn what you can do to help fight this dreaded disease. Every minute you hesitate means that two more children will die.
And, if you are among those shedding tears for Rachel Carson tomorrow, you bear the greatest moral burden to help out.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

"Retail requires 'vastly more space'"

Nice to hear from Don Pelton again in today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
The Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development bases much of its anti-Wal-Mart rhetoric on the planned size of the Pullman store. PARD refers to Wal-Mart's about 225,000 square feet as an "ugly behemoth box" unfit for our small community. I have done some analysis of Pullman's future Wal-Mart in relationship to other businesses.

For example, the 1930s size of Dissmore's Grocery Store which was then located along Main Street was about the equivalent of the space now occupied by Bella Dolce Cafe, or about 2,500 square feet. The present Dissmore's on North Grand Avenue measures about 45,000 square feet plus more than 200 parking spaces. Thus, this one big box just for food-related products plus a pharmacy is about one-fifth the size of the new Wal-Mart. But, Wal-Mart is a department store with at least 22 additional departments plus food and drugs. Wal-Mart follows the model of a Macy's or a Target store as a marketing device.

In the 1930s Dissmore's was but one of six grocery stores downtown. Today, there are still six grocery stores downtown. They are: Chevron Food Mart, beverages and snacks; Baskin-Robbins ice cream; the International Store, imports; the Nutrition Store, food supplements; Lick's Unlimited, candy; and The Old Post Office, wine and cheese. The products of these wonderful food specialty shops are each given but a partial aisle in big-box Dissmore's.

The point is retailing has changed so much that it requires vastly more space to satisfy our wants compared to PARD's naive model of small shops.

Did you know that in 1960 there were five new-car dealerships and two department stores in downtown Pullman? That is another letter.

Don Pelton, Pullman
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Dell to sell computers at Wal-Mart

Attention elitist snobs; start your boycott of Dell. After all, Wal-Mart only buys from sweatshops and only sells junk to undesirable elements of society.
DALLAS — Dell Inc. plans to sell personal computers at Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, in a departure from Dell's approach of selling machines only directly to customers.

A Dell spokesman said Thursday that the computer maker will begin selling two of its Dimension desktop computers in about 3,000 Wal-Marts beginning June 10.
Dell spokesman Dwayne Cox said the Wal-Mart deal "represents our first step" into global retail.

"Customers want more and new ways to buy our products, and we plan on meeting their needs on a global level," Cox said. "Offering Dell Dimensions in Wal-Mart is a great example of this approach."

Cox said Dell will announce additional moves into retail in the coming quarters, but he declined to give specifics.

The desktops will be sold at Wal-Marts in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.
Since its founding in the 1980s, Dell has relied on selling PCs and other products directly to consumers and business customers over the phone and Internet. It viewed direct sales as an important cost advantage over competitors who sold computers through retailers.

The strategy worked, helping Dell become the world's leading PC maker. But recently, the Round Rock-based company has lost its lead to a revitalized Hewlett-Packard Co.
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"Pullman takes airport reservoir off the table"

From yesterday's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Pullman city officials have hit a snag in their efforts to extend water to the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport.

City Supervisor John Sherman explained to the City Council during its Tuesday meeting that a plan to construct a $2.7 million, 600,000-gallon reservoir to provide water for fire protection to the airport has been put on hold because some airport stakeholders are opposed to the project.

He said Washington State University, which initially was expected to provide the water to the airport through city water lines, has recently expressed its disinterest in the project. The project also was expected to potentially provide water to some future development in the Pullman-Moscow Highway corridor.

"We began to run into opposition," Sherman said, noting that members of the airport board also questioned the project. "Now knowing we can't use WSU, that option is dead."

Inadequate fire-flow to the airport has put any proposed construction of additional airplane hangers on hold. Fire codes require that 3,500 gallons of water per minute be accessible for up to two hours on the airport property. Water piped to the airport currently has a 1,000-gallon-per-minute capacity.

Sherman encouraged the council to re-evaluate other options discussed in February, such as the construction of a $1.5 million, 420,000-gallon reservoir across from the airport along the north side of Airport Road.

Councilman Keith Bloom said the city should move along with Plan B - and fast.

"The immediate issue is fire-flow," he said. "Let's get the fire-flow going first. If we don't get fire-flow, we're stuck."

Councilwoman Ann Heath agreed, noting concern for the future.

"I just want to make sure we're putting down what we'll need 10 to 20 years in the future," she said.

Sherman said more infrastructure is needed to link the reservoir to Pullman's water sources, and without financial assistance from WSU, the city may have to run a bond to pay for the project.

"Obviously, this is a complicated issue," he said. "There are some things that we'll have to look at."

In other airport-related topics, City Attorney Laura McAloon brought the council up to date on her plans to amend the airport interlocal agreement. Pullman, along with the city of Moscow, Latah County, WSU, the University of Idaho and the Port of Whitman County all have stakes in the airport and pay yearly contribution fees.

The agreement will provide clarification about the board and provide ease of reference on operation, management and obligation issues.


The council also approved an amendment to the 2007 budget, as proposed by Finance Director Troy Woo. The requests account for nearly $4.5 million in expenditure amendments, most of which will be reimbursed through grants. Amendments include $2.25 million to establish the 2007 bond fund for construction projects; $15,000 by the planning department to pay for the College Hill study, a cost that will be shared by WSU; and $27,500 for the library in benefits, materials and travel.

Woo also presented the council with a first-quarter financial summary through March 31, which showed that expenditures were at 21 percent - about $3 million - of the amended budget. General fund revenues sit at about $2.3 million - an increase of more than $300,000 from last year, Woo said.

Increases in sales tax, liquor profits and service charges account for the increase. Sales taxes are higher due to construction activity, Woo said.

"It's pretty much what we expected," he said.
First, I have been informed by highly reliable sources that the airport water reservoir project is still going to happen. By law, WSU's water supply is not allowed for private use and the city had planned to use some of the water for corridor development. So, the council plans to move the location of the water tower and not share the water. Too bad. The city council knows the corridor is key to our future development.

Secondly, it's interesting to go to these council meetings and hear what doesn't get reported. For example, one of the alternatives presented to a reservoir was digging a well out by the airport. But we have all seen what Moscow's reaction has been to the Hawkins Companies proposed well. The council joked about how a proposed well in that area would be received and decided it was bad idea. It's also not hard to guess which "members of the airport board also questioned the project" to provide water to the corridor. Let's be clear. The city of Moscow is going to fight ANY AND ALL development in the corridor, whether from Pullman or Whitman County, using any excuse they an come up with. Moscow does not share and play well with others.

On the budget issue, two major points were completely ignored by Hillary Hamm that Michelle Dupler used to always mention (Michelle clearly understood the important issues, while Hillary clearly does not.) First, building permits for 1Q 2007 are way down from 1Q 2006. The big building boom in Pullman is slowing down. As a result, Troy Woo warned that 2008 could see dramatically lower sales tax revenues. The only big construction project currently planned for next year is the new WSU biosciences bulding, from which the city of Pullman will not receive one penny of sales tax or property tax revenue. The roller coaster nature of construction prompted council members, the mayor and the city supervisor to comment on how Pullman needs a large, reliable, and sustainable source of retail sales tax revenue. No one used the "WM word," but everyone knew that is what they meant.

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Jacques Chirac's Secret Fortune

Anybody wanna place a bet on how much of this came from Saddam Hussein?

LONG-STANDING rumours that the former French president Jacques Chirac holds a secret multi-million-euro bank account in Japan appear to have been confirmed by files seized from the home of a senior spy.

Papers seized by two investigating magistrates from General Philippe Rondot, a former head of the DGSE, France's intelligence service, show Mr Chirac opened an account in the mid-1990s at Tokyo Sowa Bank, credited with the equivalent of £30 million. It is not known where the money came from, nor whether it is connected to various kick-back scandals to which Mr Chirac's name has been linked over the past decade.

Last year, Mr Chirac "categorically denied" having a bank account in Japan.

The seized documents have been described by the magistrates as "explosive" and are believed to contain copies of the former president's bank statements.

A magistrate close to the investigation told the satirical magazine Le Canard Enchaîné: "Subject to verification of the documents, there is enough material to open a new judicial investigation for breach of trust or for possession of money received from corruption. Moreover, the investigating judges have everything necessary to trace the network back to its ringleaders."

Mr Chirac, who was succeeded by Nicolas Sarkozy last week after 12 years as president, looks certain to be questioned about the account - as well as several other alleged corruption scandals dating from his time as mayor of Paris - when his presidential immunity runs out on 16 June.

The alleged evidence was discovered by judges Jean-Marie d'Huy and Henri Pons after they seized 112 bound files and numerous other documents from the home of Gen Rondot in connection with their inquiry into an alleged smear campaign. Dubbed "The French Watergate", it centred on whether Dominique de Villepin, the then prime minister, had asked Gen Rondot to dig up dirt on Mr Sarkozy, then interior minister, who had been wrongly accused of receiving kickbacks from the £1.4 billion sale of French frigates to Taiwan in 1991.

Claims of Mr Chirac's secret nest egg first came to the attention of the French authorities in 1996 when his friend Shoichi Osada, a Japanese banker, decided to invest £500 million in France, so triggering a routine investigation by the DGSE, which is said to have stumbled upon the then president's Japanese account.

Thrown into a panic, Mr Chirac is said to have summoned Gen Rondot in 2001 and ordered him to destroy all DGSE evidence of the account. Unfortunately for the president, the spy simply removed the notes and memos about the affair to his home, where they were seized in March last year by Mr d'Huy and Mr Pons. Since then, the judges have been discreetly pursuing an investigation, interviewing 20 intelligence officers about the affair.

Mr Chirac is reported to have struck a deal with Mr Sarkozy, whereby the latter will push through judicial reforms ensuring the ex-president escapes prosecution. However, the magistrates are expected to move before the reforms are passed this summer.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Pullman City Council Votes to Restrict Parking on Larry Street

Of all my political experiences, this one was probably the most rewarding, since it involved my own neighborhood. 73 people signed the online petition. 12 residents showed up at the council meeting. 3 of us addressed the council. It was grassroots activism at its purest and finest. It's not that "you can't fight city hall." You don't have to fight city hall when you can work together with them.

Pullman is no Vienna, or even Obersnobeurosocialistburg. But for my money, we have the best mayor, best city supervisor, and best city council around.

From today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
In other business, the council passed a motion to restrict parking on Larry Street's south side and possibly allow parking on a restricted basis, under police direction. A handful of Military Hill residents gathered at the Tuesday meeting to present the council with nearly 80 signatures from an online petition stating their concerns about traffic in the area.

Public works employees recently restriped the street, allowing for wider parking spaces on either side, but neighbors didn't feel the restriping adequately solved the safety problem.

Pullman High School sporting events, such as baseball games, lead to dense traffic and parking issues, which neighbors and police say may lead to serious accidents. The Pullman School District soon will begin constructing a path from the underutilized high school parking lot to the baseball field, allowing for safety and convenience.

Public works Director Mark Workman said the south side of Larry Street could be posted as "no parking" as early as next week.

John Edwards Not the Only Hypocrite

Guess what? If you're a liberal Democrat and you've got money, you don't have to live by the rules you set for everyone else.

The Benefits of Following Jimmy Carter

George Bush hails Jimmy Carter as America's best former president.

"I think history will judge Jimmy Carter's post Whitehouse tenure favorably," said Mr. Bush, "As a former president, Mr. Carter has overseen the nation's longest period of growth and expansion of opportunity."

Sleeping With The Enemy, Our Soldiers

I remember reading some time back that the reason that "news" organizations were no longer embedding reporters with the military was that it made the reporting too sympathethic to "the other side," meaning that the reporters who were embedded actually wanted the US to win.

How awful!

Well, a Wall Street Journal story seems to confirm this. After spending time embedded with US soldiers, foreign journalists are coming away with a great admiration for our troops as they learn that they are not the bloodthirsty monsters protrayed in our own press

It doesn't matter how skeptical of the war a journalist might be, according to an Army public affairs officer who spoke with me about it on condition of anonymity. "So often, they come out of that experience and--even if their opinion of the war hasn't changed--they're completely won over by the troops."

"I was one of those," admitted Mr. Beriain, speaking broken English and blinking away tears. "No matter what you think of the war, or what has happened here, you cannot be around the soldiers and not be completely affected. They are amazing people, and they represent themselves and the Army better than anyone could ever imagine." A retired Army officer concurred, telling me that "young troops are some of the best goodwill ambassadors we've ever produced. It would never occur to one to not tell you what he's really thinking, and they are so earnest" that it is almost impossible not to be won over by them if given enough time.

The most spectacular recent case of a journalist with an antiwar mindset being completely overwhelmed into a change of heart by American soldiers, according to the public affairs officer, was a Greek public television reporter who had been embedded with an infantry unit that became entrenched in a 45-minute firefight with insurgents. Yanked out of the line of fire by a soldier who put the journalist's life above his own, he waited under cover and in fear of his life for the almost hourlong duration of the battle, with the best view possible of American soldiers in action against an armed and murderous enemy. He credits his having lived to tell the tale directly to those young troops.
"He had tears in his eyes as he talked about it," said the public affairs officer. "He just kept saying, 'They saved my life, they saved my life. . . . These are great men; they are heroes.' Even after telling it several times, he couldn't get through the story without choking up--and this was a man who had arrived here with all of the disdain for the Iraq mission and for the American soldiers who he [like seemingly most Europeans] had seen as the bad guys in this fight."

While embedding may be decried by some for causing journalists, who claim the utopian titles of "objective" and "neutral" for their reportage, to lose their cold detachment and actually begin to see the soldiers they live alongside as humans, it is that very quality that makes the practice of embedding reporters with military units so beneficial to both parties. Rather than observing events from a safely detached distance--and thus being able to remove the human element from the equation--embedded reporters are forced to face up to the humanity of their subjects, and to share common experiences--often of the life-and-death variety--with those they are covering.

I find it interesting that our own media believes that they have to maintain a level of ignorance and distance from events to report upon them.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Wal-Mart Hating Snobs: Racism, Classism, and Super-Snobbery

Speaking of snobbery, there was great exchange on Fox News The Cost of Freedom between Neal Cavuto, Ben Stein, Charles Payne, Jerry Bowyer, Laura Schwartz, and Pat Powell:
Head to Head: Wal-Mart-Hating Snobs?

Neil Cavuto: People who block Wal-Marts from coming to big cities like New York are just snobs who hurt Middle Class Americans. That's what Ben Stein thinks. It's time to go "Head to Head." What do you mean, Ben?

Ben Stein: Well, I mean that Wal-Mart is an incredible benefit to any community. It makes all the people around it richer because their paycheck can go further and they can buy more. It's essentially like getting a raise. But, upper middle class, snobby upper class, people who watch movies with subtitles… and I watch them, too…are saying Wal-Mart isn't good enough for us. But something else is happening. It's racism. I know people who say, "We don't want Wal-Mart in our community because it draws in the African Americans, it draws in the Hispanics, and it draws in people whose faces are not the same color as ours. We don't want them in our neighborhood." Racism has a lot to do with the dislike of Wal-Mart. I hate to say it because it's a very strong accusation, but I've heard it over and over again.

Charles Payne: I think the snobbery does play a role. It's really interesting, particularly in Manhattan, because the average apartment costs $1 million, and certainly Wal-Mart doesn't bring up the property value, it probably brings it down in part to the racism thing Ben was talking about. Certainly there's a serious problem between snobbery and the unions in these large cities. In New York, you can't build a bird cage without union approval. I think it's a combination of both. Certainly the image of Wal-Mart does not fit the image of classy, urban areas like Park Avenue or Fifth Avenue or anywhere in Manhattan for that matter. Ben is on to something there. I think it goes beyond race and onto elitism.

Ben Stein: It's racism and classism, and super-snobbery is the main heading.

Charles Payne: Let me just say one thing. The real sad thing about it, particularly with the liberals, is that whenever they have a chance to help people, they don't. You know, they wouldn't mind a Wal-Mart in New York, as long as it's in the Bronx; it can't be in Manhattan.

Jerry Bowyer: I think Ben and Charles are both right. I think it's kind of a class-snobbishness. I don't know about the race side of it. It's plausible. But, it's also bad for the middle class in terms of employment opportunities. It's not just a consumer thing. We have friends of the family who work at Wal-Mart. Sometimes people without a college degree or professional certification can come into a Wal-Mart at an entry level and work their way up. I think that Wal-Mart ought to be allowed any place where people are willing to work at it and buy the products.

Ben Stein: Nobody's forced to work at Wal-Mart. People do it freely.

Laura Schwartz: I know snobs who shop at Wal-Mart. They may go there at 2:00 in the morning, but they do. Everybody likes a good deal. That's what Wal-Mart gives.

Charles Payne: But they don't want it in their neighborhood.

Laura Schwartz: But, you know what? You have to look at the fact that this is not snobbery-driven. This is politically-driven. It's the unions. When it comes to New York and LA, huge union towns, there's no way. But in Chicago, where I come from, Mayor Daley worked it out. Wal-Mart is now on the south side. The area has a higher percentage of lower income folks, but it's allowing them to get access to goods and services they can afford.

Pat Powell: I think she's on to something. I think it's politics and not snobbery. I think it's a politics of deflection. If you have a health care crisis in this country, it can't be your fault. It's gotta be Wal-Mart's fault. If you don't have high paying jobs, it's gotta be Wal-Mart's fault. There's somebody to blame, and who are you going to blame, but the great American success story?
What some of those commentators failed to realize is that it's both: It's union politics AND crass snobbery and racism; the unholy alliance of fringe lunatics and drawbridgers that I have written of so often. The unions have very few sympathizers. The majority of Wal-Mart hate is just pure classism and racism. PARDners like Deirdre Rogers play to that with code words like "Wal-Mart will lead to the the intrusion of undesirable social classes"

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Pie in the the Sky Island

There's another laughable, elitist, self-absorbed, solipsistic piece of Marxist excrement by Chuck Pezeshki in today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
It’s interesting spending a week in a big, European city, especially after Pullman, with its sky island feel. I’m in Vienna this week, setting up collaborations for our students in engineering, with the intention of giving them the necessary experience to succeed in the global marketplace. This means that I have to succeed in the global marketplace — something that is not as easy as it used to be.

Vienna is an interesting city, in that it is relatively large — more than 1 million people live in and around Vienna — but feels small. The Viennese want their living spaces to be livable, and they have laws here that, while they would never make it in the United States, work together to make a city that is manageable on all levels. You can reach literally everywhere on the U-bahn, the subway system, and the trams. One ticket bought for a week costs only $15. The Viennese understand that if you want public transit to work, it has to be frequent, affordable and convenient. And because of this, buses and trains are always filled. You can even find parking downtown most of the time if you choose to take your car. Contrast this with our own situation, where we do nothing but cut back on the availability of public transit, and then wonder why it doesn’t work.

Because space is tight, stores are small. Grocery stores have a reasonable variety of items. The local Billa chain has everything you need, and it is of high quality. But there is only one way into the store, leading you past all the items, and only one way out. Beer is cheaper than soda pop. And because the stores are relatively small, there are lots of them—all within walking distance from somewhere. They’re not the only chain in the world to use the idea of walking availability to make a buck. Walgreen’s in the United States uses the same principle with their drug stores, so the notion of having hyper-sized stores to stay profitable in the U.S. market just isn’t supported by the evidence.

Even where space is available, super-sized stores don’t exist. We visited the small town of Murzzuschlag, two hours outside of Vienna, with Jutta, the young woman who arranged our business meetings. Murzzuschlag has 40,000 people, and by our standards is able to support multiple Wal-Marts. But they don’t exist. The largest store is a garden store — about one-quarter the size of our big-box stores. Zoning as we know it also doesn’t exist, and the steel plant sits on the edge of the business district. It is clean, because the citizens won’t tolerate living in a degraded environment. Surrounding the valley are neat, small, very alpen-style homes. I asked Jutta where the poor people lived. “We don’t really have poor people like you do in the States,” she replied. “If someone loses their job, they are supported by the government until they find another one.” She seemed not to show any judgment toward those people, giving me the impression that Austrians like themselves as a nation a whole lot more than we do.

Looking back at our own local battles across the sea, it’s clear that Austrians have some sense of what they want their future to be. They’re aware that change is coming, and they are planning for it. They know that automobiles aren’t going to be around forever, and while they use them, they don’t plan their cities around them. They know that parts of their cities should work together — and in order for that to happen, things have to exist in an appropriate scale. It’s impossible to imagine a fight over Wal-Mart here, because such a thing as a Wal-Mart doesn’t exist. Austrians aren’t extravagant spenders, and they’ve decided that living in the space that they have, and using it wisely is a better choice than the end alternative of running out of space — war.

As we Americans scale up everything that we do, with bigger freeways, bigger big-box stores, and bigger houses, we might stop and ask ourselves where the trajectory is really leading. Or where it has already led us. And we might ask, as our own wars drag out, if any of this is really worth the price.
I'm going to resist the temptation to rebut Pezeshki's ridiculous contentions of how "Sky Island" Pullman should be like a European city, or bring up the fact that for much of the time since WWII, Austria has been dominated by a socialist government, or the even more vile assertion that somehow American's love of Wal-Mart and big-box stores leads to war (it was an Austrian, by the way, that took the world into war over lebensraum, or living space: Adolf Hitler.)

No, I'm much too busy with more important things to do that. Instead, I'm going to quote yet again from Gregory Hand's superb column "Snobbish tendencies:"
Where do these people come from? Visit a college campus today and see what is going on there (not most of the professors, who tend to be culture snobs, to be discussed next.) No, the faux intellectual snobs, while including some professors and graduate students, are the teenage and early twenty something undergraduate students. These are the ones who are so brilliant as to be enlightened (indoctrinated) by the liberal orthodoxy taught at most schools today, but ironically not intelligent enough to realize that with all these rights that are demanded come corresponding responsibilities.

Look at the hooligans who just rioted at the G-8 Summit in Genoa, Italy. It is true that many Europeans participated in the mêlée that ensued. The poor unfortunate chap who was shot dead thinking the Italian police would allow him to hurl a large fire extinguisher at them unchallenged was Spanish. But there were also large contingents of Americans as well, completing their parentally funded summer tours of Europe with a little bit of last minute rioting before heading back to the yacht club. I supposed it is something to tell their unfortunate colleagues at the posh private schools in the fall who didn't get to hang out in Europe on mommy and daddy's credit card. Isn't it just amazing the number of rich white kids who travel the globe lamenting the capitalism that allows them their nice homes, their fancy cars, and the extensive travel that they enjoy so much? Are they that ignorant?

To answer the question, yes, they are; and they are because of this supposed superior intellect that has given them an enlightenment that most dolts like you and I don't have, protesting for a variety of inane causes (Free Mumia! Save the suckerfish! Stop global warming!). It is unfortunate, but their grasp of the issues, despite their strenuous arguments to the contrary, is rudimentary at best. They have no realistic idea, beyond their utopian pipe dreams, of the ramifications of the policies that they advocate. It is difficult to rationalize with them, because they immediately snobbishly dismiss any opposing arguments as inferior ones coming from intellectually substandard people.

The most rapidly rising class of snobs are the cultural/society snobs. These are people who go to symphonies, operas, wine tastings, foreign films, coffee houses and various other stylish venues not because they necessarily enjoy it, but because they like to be seen at such events, and they enjoy bragging about going to those who did not attend. On the flip side they also get pained looks on their faces when discussing amusement parks, NASCAR, public beaches, Wal-mart, chain restaurants and any other place where Grubman's 'white trash' might be hanging out. How déclassé.

They tend to congregate either in San Francisco or LA on the West Coast or New York, DC or Boston on the East Coast, as anywhere not attached to an ocean is 'flyover country.' They love the words 'diversity' and 'culture,' and often praise both lovingly just because it makes them look more sophisticated to be discussing such things.

Like the intellectual snobs, the cultural snobs are part of the 'hate America' crowd, albeit for different reasons. The intellectual snobs hate America because they are all socialists and communists looking to create some naïve workers paradise and destroy capitalism. Cultural snobs, on the other hand, hate America only because it looks better when they travel to Europe to put down other Americans, and to lament to anyone who will listen that France is better then America because it is more 'diverse' and has better 'culture.' Besides, who are snobbier, and therefore can appreciate the attitude, than the French?
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Barbecues of Mass Destruction

The Department of Homeland Security is trying to de-weaponize propane.

'Weaponizable' Gas for Your Backyard Barbecue

By Cindy Skrzycki
Tuesday, May 22, 2007; D02

It seems like something from a James Bond film, with code names like Top Screen and "tiered security risk." Yet for the propane gas industry and thousands of other chemical facilities, this is no fiction.

Starting June 8, makers and sellers of the colorless, odorless, flammable gas and other chemicals face a new Department of Homeland Security rule requiring them to complete a secure online survey assessing whether they are a high-risk target for terrorists. If so, they must make security fixes or face $25,000-a-day fines or be put out of business.

The rule is the latest, and one of the most sweeping, of more than 150 the department has issued since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The complaints of propane manufacturers illustrate the delicate balance the department must maintain as it tries to terror-proof the nation without prohibitive expense for the industries. The department figures it may cost companies as much as $3.6 billion over three years to secure the facilities.

The rule will "reduce the safety of propane customers, hurt the environment and needlessly cost American businesses hundreds of millions of dollars on a paperwork exercise that will not improve our country's national security," said Philip Squair, senior vice president of the National Propane Gas Association. The Washington trade group represents 3,500 propane-related businesses.

Some 40,000 facilities across the nation would have to go through the initial screening, according to regulators' estimates. That's based on the 344 "chemicals of interest" listed in the appendix to the 59-page rule published last month.

The propane industry said the government estimate was too low. According to its calculations, about 144,000 propane facilities alone would be affected.

Some trade groups, including the International Dairy Foods Association (concerned about anhydrous ammonia in refrigeration systems) and the American Feed Industry Association (urea used in animal feed that could be used to make explosives), also have told federal regulators they don't present much security risk.

On the other hand, the American Chemistry Council, which speaks for 130 chemical companies including Dow Chemical, said it supports the rule. Members already have spent $3.5 billion to protect their facilities against terrorism, said council spokesman Scott Jensen.

"The interim final rule was a step forward in improving chemical facility security," he said.

Jensen suggested some smaller companies covered by the initial screening may be overreacting, since it's unlikely they will end up in the pool of 300 to 400 facilities the government thinks will have the highest risks. The risk is based on elements that include the nature of the substance and the facility's proximity to large populations.

Though other companies officially say they support the mission of the department, their preference often has been to seek voluntary compliance or stress that existing state and local storage and security requirements are sufficient.

In the case of propane, the association asked the department not to include the gas in the rule because it is "non-weaponizable." It has already been exempted from similar security requirements by the Environmental Protection Agency for accidental releases of chemicals, the trade group said.

The cost and benefits of many of the department's previous rules have been hard to assess since it is almost impossible to predict an attack, or whether one will ever occur, said Veronique de Rugy, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. The center supports free-market approaches and limited government.

Predicting the cost of the new rule is particularly difficult, because it's hard to gauge which risk level facilities will fall into. That will determine how much companies will have to spend.

It took five years to issue the chemical facility rule, even with prodding from Congress and public pressure. The department said its intent was "to work aggressively with chemical facilities presenting the very highest security risks first."

Critics said parts of the chemical industry are comfortable because it allows high-risk facilities to figure out how to meet a particular standard, rather than having the government tell them exactly what to do.

Groups critical of the rule wanted the government to mandate that companies use less-risky chemicals, instead of emphasizing security measures. They also wanted clear assurances that the federal government wouldn't overrule New Jersey and other states that already have chemical security rules in place.

"It provides cover to the chemical industry," said Clayton Northouse, information policy analyst with OMB Watch, a nonprofit group in Washington that monitors the regulatory process and openness in government. "It's woefully inadequate."

OMB Watch thinks more information about the program should be disclosed to the public and even more companies should be included in the initial screening.

The propane industry argues that it shouldn't be on the list at all. Squair said the department has dramatically undercounted the number of propane facilities that sell or store at least 7,500 pounds of the gas. (By comparison, the standard tank attached to your backyard grill is 20 pounds, containing about 4.3 gallons of gas weighing 17 pounds when full.)

Large retailers in the propane industry, such as AmeriGas Partners in Valley Forge, Pa., and Ferrellgas Partners in Overland Park, Kan., would have to use the Top Screen tool. So too, Squair said, would small businesses, hospitals, nursing homes, campgrounds, farms and homeowners who might have two big tanks in the backyard to heat a large house and a pool with a Jacuzzi.

Homeland Security regulators were nonplussed about pleadings for leniency. The government's position is that the need for a comprehensive picture of what facilities are at risk outweighs some industries' unhappiness, one official said.

Department spokesman Russ Knocke declined to comment.

More Fred Thompson Realism

Gosh, I wish someone in a position of authority would speak as bluntly as Fred Thompson.

Thompson, speaking at the National Restaurant Association annual show, said the bill will not win the support of the American people because they don't trust senators' promises to block illegal immigrants from crossing the Mexican border into the U.S.

"Nobody believes them. It goes to the bigger issue of the lack of credibility our government has these days," said Thompson, who was greeted with hoots and applause from the 2,300 convention attendees who filled a ballroom at the McCormick Place convention center.

Thompson also was harshly critical of China, saying the military and economic threat the country poses is among the critical issues - along with untamed growth in entitlement spending - that are not being dealt with while the U.S. is fixated on the war in Iraq.
"I call it 'The Day After Iraq,' " Thompson said. "It's not a pretty picture."

He said China is "making deals with every bloodthirsty dictator they can" to feed its growing economy's need for energy.

Thompson made the meatier comments during the question-and-answer session with audience members, which followed a 45-minute tale of his path from Tennessee lawyer to Watergate prosecutor, to actor and Republican senator.

Dressed in a black suit, the towering Thompson casually leaned into the lectern and wandered away from it as he spoke in a laid-back style that was almost inaudible at times. Other times his responses were somewhat jumbled. But the crowd of restaurant professionals ate it up, giving Thompson a standing ovation as he entered and another when his remarks ended.

Kevin Mundy, who works for a Maryland restaurant company, said he thought Thompson was "being real."

"It's just what the country is looking for - somebody who is going to cut through the political jargon and get to the point," Mundy said.

Rebecca Eastham, a hotel management teacher at Oklahoma State University, found Thompson "genuine and down home."

The crowd even cheered when Thompson admitted to a questioner that he didn't know much about Indian gaming and "wasn't going to soft-shoe" on the issue.

Among the loudest ovations came when the possibility of Thompson running for president was mentioned.

On that subject, Thompson remained coy, while saying he was not being coy. Current speculation has Thompson making a decision in mid-June, a timetable that he did not dispute when one of his questioners suggested it.

The idea that it was too late to get into the race that now has 10 Republican candidates is "baloney," he said.

But he conceded that, to have a chance as a candidate, he must enter the race "in a decent time."

Thompson's next speech is scheduled for June 3 at a Virginia Republican Party gala in Richmond, two days before the next GOP presidential debate in New Hampshire.

An Anachronistic Democrat (Pro-American that is)

Bob Kerrey is likely to find himself excommunicated (much as Joe Lieberman has been) if he continues to make sense in public.

American liberals need to face these truths: The demand for self-government was and remains strong in Iraq despite all our mistakes and the violent efforts of al Qaeda, Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias to disrupt it. Al Qaeda in particular has targeted for abduction and murder those who are essential to a functioning democracy: school teachers, aid workers, private contractors working to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure, police officers and anyone who cooperates with the Iraqi government. Much of Iraq's middle class has fled the country in fear.

With these facts on the scales, what does your conscience tell you to do? If the answer is nothing, that it is not our responsibility or that this is all about oil, then no wonder today we Democrats are not trusted with the reins of power. American lawmakers who are watching public opinion tell them to move away from Iraq as quickly as possible should remember this: Concessions will not work with either al Qaeda or other foreign fighters who will not rest until they have killed or driven into exile the last remaining Iraqi who favors democracy.

Read it all - especially if you're a Democrat.

Fred Thompson Hits Another Home Run

I honestly believe that Republicans would still hold a large majority in both houses of Congress, George Bush would have approval ratings in the 70 percent range and he would be free to prosecute the war a agressively as he saw fit if only he would make his points as uncompromisingly as Fred Thompson.

One reason that I'm increasingly enthusiastic about Fred Thompson presidential candidacy is that he doesn't pull his punches. Here's another example.

I'm never particularly surprised when the United Nations seems to oppose human freedom rather than promote it. At least a third of its member nations aren’t democratic themselves. Many that claim to be, are only barely so.

An organization that treats democracies and dictators equally cannot be expected to be a pure force for good. When Fidel Castro and Kim Jong Il have as much say in U.N. matters as the entire populations of Poland and New Zealand, you’re going to have problems.

One was the Oil-for-Food scandal. We ought to remember that the U.N. let Saddam steal tens of billions of dollars — money meant to be spent on food and medicine for his own people. Much of that money was used to pay off U.N. officials and buy support for Saddam’s regime.

Still, people keep telling me that the U.N. is a force for good — and I’d like to believe it. The world could use an organization capable of dealing with international problems like slavery. According to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, an estimated 600,000 to 800,000 people are sold across national borders annually. More are enslaved within nations. Most are women; about half are children, and the majority are sexually abused.

That’s why accusations made by former U.S. ambassador John Miller are so disturbing. Miller accuses the United Nations of promoting human trafficking by failing to punish U.N. officials and peacekeepers who have engaged in the trade.

Often, the offenders trade U.N. food and aid to desperate people for personal gain. Such incidents and the weak response to them, Miller says, cripple U.N. efforts to end human trafficking.

U.N. officials disagree, of course. They say they’ve instituted reforms; but we’ve heard this sort of thing for over 50 years. I didn’t see many resignations or firings over Oil-for-Food, so I think I’ll wait for some evidence.

Monday, May 21, 2007

A Plan To Eliminate Poverty

We could eliminate poverty with John Edwards' agent.

We need to get every poor person on the public speaking circuit. John Edwards charges $55,000 to talk about poverty. I would think that a genuine poor person could talk more authoritatively on the subject.

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, who as a Democratic presidential candidate recently proposed an educational policy that urged "every financial barrier" be removed for American kids who want to go to college, has been going to college himself -- as a high paid speaker, his financial records show.

The candidate charged a whopping $55,000 to speak at to a crowd of 1,787 the taxpayer-funded University of California at Davis on Jan. 9, 2006 last year, Joe Martin, the public relations officer for the campus' Mondavi Center confirmed Monday.

That amount -- which comes to about $31 a person in the audience -- included Edwards' travel and airfare, and was the highest speaking fee in the nine appearances he made before colleges and universities last year, according to his financial records.

The earnings -- though made before Edwards was a declared Democratic presidential candidate -- could hand ammunition to his competition for the Democratic presidential nomination. The candidate -- who was then the head of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina -- chose to speak on "Poverty, the great moral issue facing America," as his $55,000 topic at UC Davis.

That could cause both parents and students to note some irony here: UC Davis -- like the rest of the public University of California system -- will get hit this year by a 7 percent tuition increase that likely hits many of the kids his speeches are aimed at helping.

We wondered if this is Edwards' going speaking rate, and how come he didn't offer to do it gratis for a college, particularly a public institution.

Breck Girl Can't Even Take Responsibility For His Own Haircut

Apparently, John Edwards wasn't even there when he got a $400 haircut.

Believe it or not, John Edwards is claiming that wasn't inolved in his own haircut.