Unity through the elimination of dissent in WA State

It’s happening elsewhere in the country, why not here?  WSJ Opinion catches up

The BIAW recently won a court battle over whether it could continue to use profits from its workers’ compensation program to support Republican Dino Rossi for Washington state Governor. Attorneys allied with Democratic Governor Christine Gregoire filed a class action suit that was nakedly aimed at robbing the BIAW of its free-speech rights. State Judge Christine Pomeroy refused to bar the BIAW from spending.

…..

The losers are voters, who are stuck reading about frivolous lawsuits, and, should the Gregoire activists succeed, will lack the information that the BIAW’s ads provide. Mark it down as further evidence that the goal of campaign-finance “reformers” is to muzzle political speech.

Preceding commentary is here, from September 26th: Money and Speech….

This isn’t the first assault on BIAW. In 2000, Democratic Governor Gary Locke’s state labor department altered workers’ comp rules specifically to cap what BIAW could earn for political campaigns. A judge ruled the change “arbitrary and capricious.” Unions and liberals speak about the need to “de-fund” the BIAW. Now they’re siccing the state’s courts on the group.

The trial firm found two left-leaning BIAW “members” who claim their First Amendment rights have been violated because BIAW uses workers’ comp money for political causes they don’t support. The lawyers filed in federal court, but when that appeared headed for defeat they went to state Judge Christine Pomeroy, who will rule today on their demand for an injunction barring BIAW from accessing the money it intends to use to support Mr. Dino’s campaign.

Yeah, never mind the Washington Education Association(WEA) and their naked partisanship.

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My Day at PAX 2008

Starting with a neighbor’s Atari 2600 and, later, my own Commodore 64, I’ve always loved gaming.  And, up until a few years ago, I’ve always tried to “keep up” with the industry.  But, even then, I was never into consoles; only PCs.  Now that more consoles have more collaborative/collective gaming (Guitar Hero, Rock Band, most things Wii), it is a bit more tempting to get one.

I still try to keep up on some games, though, especially my favorite type: First-Person Shooters.  To that end, I decided (very late this summer) to attend the Penny Arcade Expo in downtown Seattle on Saturday.  It was the second of the three days the convention spans.

The number of people there were ovewhelming.  I know lots of folks don’t like that, but I didn’t mind.  I was just disappointed that I didn’t get to attend some of the major talks (previews/chats with the designers of Fallout 3 and Far Cry 2).  Those were in the main convention meeting hall/theater.  If you didn’t camp out there at the beginning of the day, then you would never get in there, basically.  They don’t force everyone to leave between sessions/meetings.  Irritating, but I understand, and I suppose it wasn’t that big of a deal.  Those games will be out soon anyway (September and October, respectively).

The few sessions my friends and I got into included: “Game Developer Parents: RaisingOur Kids on Games” and “Sex in Videogames: A Comparative Study”.  The first one was terrific, espeically since I am a proactive parent that is trying to establish ground rules on “screen time” before my kids really start caring.

The second one started out well (going over the history of the inclusion of sex in U.S.-based games).  And, yes, clearly the Japanese took it, and still take it, much further than we did and do.  Once that was out of the way, it felt like a bash-America’s-prudish-values fest.  So just because we have a higher tolerance for graphic violence than graphic sex makes us, essentially, backwards and evil?  I’ll leave it to you to decide.  All I know is that I don’t have a problem with it being in games, even if they get the allegedly dreaded AO rating (Adults Only) from the ESRB.  I say, let it have its place in the market, but parents HAVE to be involved and SHOULD be involved in the video game purchasing process so such titles are appropriately avoided.  Kudos go to retailers who help enforce the rating system and are looking out for the kids.

The problem lies with folks, parents especially, of all stripes not being educated on what these game ratings mean.  People can grasp the MPAA rating system; it’s been around for decades (roughly 40 years in various forms).  The ESRB: only 14 years.  And over the last 14 years, video games, and their content has changed and grown more diverse and involved.  All I can say is: parents keep up.  I know it seems daunting, but just git’er done.  The information is there waiting for you.

Anyway, back to PAX.  My friends and I spent a healthy amount of time at the core of the expo: the booths.  Booths touting released and soon-to-be-released games.  We scored swag, beta-testing codes, and entered some contests.  It, like everything else, was packed, but we had a good time.  It was fun to see the die-hards dressed up as their favorite characters.  My favorite — always a classic —  was the fellow dressed up in fully-detailed Darth Vadar garb with a contingent of Storm Troopers. 🙂

I also caught a glimpse of Wil Wheaton.  I think Felicia Day was there the day before.  She even performed Still Alive with Jonathan Coulton in the early morning hours of Saturday.  Here is one of the better videos of the performance (slow loading).  You can find other faster loading ones throughout YouTube:

Hilarious!

So, I would recommend PAX to gamers of all stripes.  Early-early bird registration starts in the spring.  If you register that early, total 3-day admission cost is $40!  Well worth it.  Pick what you want to see and be willing to stick it out in line.  Or, if you’re up for challenges, there are tournaments all over the place… even for card and board games.

Whither Seattle? [UPDATED]

Just another fun Summer in Seattle:

…Thank goodness for our barn-burning tech sector.

The irony is best laid out by a commenter on this blog post by Seattle Times food writer Nancy Leson:

I don’t think the “tax” makes any sense, especially since the money will apparently be going towards increased advertising about the city’s recycling/composting program, which,in essence, means they’ll be spending the money on a bunch of printed materials that will invariably end up in the trash. Oh, the irony!

Ironic indeed.  Intelligence like would take a village; a village made up of those inhabiting Seattle City Hall.

At least the Green Fairy is making a comeback.  Pacific Distillery will be introducing Pacifique by Christmas.  Thank God… after November elections I’m sure we’ll need it around here.

Critical Stupidity

Let me make this very clear: I like bicycles and I like the idea of biking to work/elsewhere without having to use gas and getting/staying fit in the process.  In fact, I would REALLY love to start riding to my local Park&Ride instead of driving (it’s only 4-5 miles away).  However, I DO NOT like Critical Mass.

Critical Mass originally existed to draw attention to how unfriendly cities were to bicyclists.  It has now become a way to simply intimidate and piss off drivers.  This is most recently evidenced by a report in today’s Seattle Times.

Just after 7 p.m. Friday, the group of at least 100 bicyclists was moving en masse down East Aloha Street when a man and his girlfriend in a Subaru station wagon tried to pull out of a parking spot, said Seattle police spokesman Mark Jamieson.

For years, Critical Mass has held monthly public bike rides through Seattle to demonstrate for bicyclists’ road rights. The riders commonly engage in what they call “corking,” in which several bikers block cars while the mass of riders passes.

According to Jamieson, witnesses told officers that as the Critical Mass group moved down the street blocking traffic, some riders got in the way of the Subaru and prevented it from leaving. Some bikers sat on the car and were banging on it, he said.

“The driver was pretty fearful that he was about to be assaulted by the bicyclists,” Jamieson said.

There is an alleged eyewitness account of the rider of that smashed bike.  It’s in the Seattle Stranger (aka Seattle’s Sex Rag), so you have to take it with a grain of salt.  If it were in the Seattle Weekly, I’d give them the benefit of the doubt.

Other eyewitness accounts point out pretty clearly, to me, that the guy was being illegally detained and intimidated.  He just wanted to move on and likely didn’t understand what was going on… not that he was required to know what was going on.  Sure he may have been yelling, but he just wanted out of there.  He probably grazed a cyclist.  I’ve heard of these CM participants going ape and kicking idling/waiting cars, so you can imagine the tizzy some might be sent into if they *gasp* were bumped by an evil vehicle they were detaining.

The whole thing clearly flew apart at some point.  Whatever the driver did, it did not justify ANY other cyclists smashing in his windows and assulting him through a window.  That is vigilantism and certainly not civil disobedience; much more like anarchy.

Anyway, my message to cyclists: we are aware of you. I spend most of my time downtown as a pedestrian and I get to observe many cyclists, drivers, and their interactions.  Their interactions are mostly good.  I see both run red lights, both occasionally going the wrong way down streets, and both, at one point or another, have nearly run me down/over when I have a clear right of way.  What else I see cyclists doing: flying from street to sidewalk to street (something cars can’t casually do), yelling at cars as they’re cutting them off (drivers typically do this other drivers), flying through red lights long after it has turned (traffic cams now issue citations – can’t do so for cyclists).

Congratulations: you have nearly reached parity.  Enough demonstrations.

Sound Transit Arrogance

Back from an extended vacation. Enough national-level ranting. Time to set upon some local nut burgers!

Here in the Seattle area we have a cluster &#@% a transit authority known as Sound Transit.  Sound Transit is years behind and billions over budget on what they have agreed to deliver.  Their arrogance has always shone through, but this is ridiculous (emphasis mine):

Sound Transit parked a new train next to Interstate 5 at Tukwila, where the public would see the agency’s progress toward next year’s grand opening of the light-rail system.

Trouble is, the site was also a prime showcase site for taggers.

The vandalism was reported to transit officials early today. The train is to be cleaned by Sunday, said spokeswoman Linda Robson.

It has been parked on an elevated guideway near the southbound freeway lanes — just north of exits to Southcenter and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. It’s a conspicuous place where 131,000 vehicles pass each weekday in the southbound direction alone.

A passer-by, Mike Muller of Tacoma, said he phoned Sound Transit several days ago to complain that the train looked like a prime target, and was assured the agency has 24-hour security. He worried that taxpayers would be stuck with a cleanup bill, he said.

But Sound Transit invested up front in paint-removal equipment and training, so its own crews will clean the damage at “minimal” cost, said Robson. “It’s one of the things you plan for when you operate an urban transit system.”

Dori Monson, a local talking head that the local libs here don’t like (surprise), unloaded:

Here’s what makes this story particularly outrageous: On June 19th, a listener to my show contacted Sound Transit and expressed concern that this train car could be vandalized. Here’s the e-mail that Mike Muller sent to Sound Transit nearly three weeks ago:

On 6/19/08 at 4:49 PM Mike Muller wrote:

I have noticed a new Sound Link Train sitting dead on the tracks near
S. 144th Street and I-5.
Curious this is sitting there at nite (12:45 AM) instead of being taken
back to the main ST building? Seen it there more than once. I have heard ST has the tunnel done and some testing being done, but leaving a train in that area at nite?

I would think vandalism could occur.

Do you have security on this train sitting there all nite?

Thanks
Mike Muller

Here is the response Mike got from Sound Transit:
On 6/23/08 at 8:05 AM Doering, Carol wrote:

Thank you for your inquiry Mr. Muller. In response to your inquiry sent
Thursday, June 19th, please know that safeguards are in place to insure
that the light rail vehicle is secure while maintained at the present
site. Link Light rail is now in its testing phase and you will be
seeing more light rail cars on the track as testing progresses.

Our outreach staff is now scheduling briefings and will be present
throughout the community at fairs and festivals to educate the public
about light rail safety. Please let me know if you would like someone
from our staff to visit your community to learn more.

Carol A. Doering
Sound Transit

So here you have a citizen raising a legitimate concern about security of a public asset – and he was told “safeguards are in place to insure that the light rail vehicle is secure while maintained at the present site”. Two weeks later, the train is hit by taggers.

What were the safeguards? And if there were safeguards in place, why were vandals able to do thousands of dollars worth of damage? Was ST simply lying to a citizen whose concern obviously had great merit? I find it amazing that Mike was able to anticipate the results of ST’s stunt – but all of the six-figure salaried employees and elected officials who oversee the agency could not. But, what the heck, it’s just a few thousand more tax dollars – there’s plenty more where that came from.

According to one of the commenters, apparently the guard on duty had a ridiculous distance to traverse in order to inevitably hit the head.  That’s completely unconfirmed, but would fall inline with ST’s brilliant record of safeguarding not only taxpayer assets, but money, as well.

We’ll see how this plays out; not that I expect the local media to do much digging.  Public transit and those that work in it are holy, blameless creatures.

As much as I love public transit and improving on it, this particular transit authority needs to be replaced.  Taxpayers shouldn’t just lamely expect waste and $#!& to happen, they should demand excellence and accountability.  That means, when thing frack up, heads roll, just like they would in the REAL world.

Like that’s going to happen any decade soon.

Bruce Ramsey hits bottom, continues to dig

Nobody ever said he wasn’t persistent (“Appeasement” Again)…

I grew up facing the prospect of nuclear death from the Russians, and also the specter of world Communism. Well, we talked to the Russians. It didn’t solve everything, but it did lead to a nuclear test ban, and a red telephone, and a few useful things. And finally, Communism went away.

I lived through the time when China was “Red China,” and we didn’t talk to it. Well, Richard Nixon opened the door. It was a good thing. It didn’t settle everything with China, but it lowered tensions. The Chinese government, dictatorial as it was, was not totally unreasonable–and over the years it has become somewhat more reasonable. We have businesses there, and academics there, and tourists there, and thousands of Chinese students here. Talking to China, and trading with it, was a good idea.

It is said we can’t talk to terrorists. Get beyond the “terrorist” label, which is another device for barring communication. You have to ask: do these people represent the political aspirations of a large group? if they do, you’d better talk to them, because they’re not going away. Find out what they want. You don’t have to knuckle under. But talk. Hear them out. Have them hear you out.

Wrong. We bankrupted the Russians. Capitalism will beat communism all week long and twice on Sunday in the spending game. Russia simply could not afford to maintain such an immense military infrastructure and to continually advance it to meet or supersede our challenge/response. AND, like China, they simply wanted to live. This is completely unlike our modern day Islamic terrorists and terrorist-backing regimes. They have no desire to live; in fact, they find greater glory in death. THE HAVE NO HONOR. Screw them.

Oh, and I reprinted the meat of the article here JUST IN CASE BRUCE CHANGES THE ARTICLE ON US AGAIN. Yes, he did. Read the excerpt in my last post and then re-read what it says now. Total CYA just because he felt his point was getting across. And because he was getting his far-left backside handed to him.

If you can’t take the heat, Bruce… well, you know what to do.

Bruce Ramsey: ‘Hitler’s Demands Were Not Unreasonable’

Bruce Ramsey of the Seattle Times — my wonderful hometown rag — is so in the bag for The Left (especially Obama) that he was willing to rehabilitate the Third Reich in order try to disassemble President Bush’s speech at The Knesset. Of course, Obama was never specifically mentioned, but that didn’t stop The Obamassiah’s perception that the speech was targeting him. An excerpt follows from Ramsey’s piece (please do read the whole thing)…

The narrative we’re given about Munich is entirely in hindsight. We know what kind of man Hitler was, and that he started World War II in Europe. From the view of 1938, what Hitler was demanding at Munich was not unreasonable, according to the prevailing idea of the nation-state. His claim was that the German-speaking areas of Europe–and ones that thought of themselves as German –be under German authority. He had just annexed Austria, which was German-speaking, without bloodshed. There were two more small pieces of Germanic territory: the free city of Danzig and the Sudetenland, a border area of what is now the Czech Republic.

Wow.

He comes to life later in the comments[@ 4:19 PM, May 16, 2008] trying to pull his own Obama (..er, you didn’t understand… what I meant was….).

This appears to be the same judgment and reason Bruce used to defend his choice to not print the Danish Mohammad cartoons.