WUI (Writing under the influence)

Somebody once said we are all Americans, sometimes born in the wrong places.
On a warm autumn day in 1986, while enjoying beer with my college buddies,
I decided to join my new homeland.

I've come to appreciate the ideals that helped create this great country.
Liberalism, political-correctness, multiculturalism and moral equivalence
are destroying it.

This old house Grovenet Wal*Mart Visiting Poland American wine better than French.

Thursday, March 30, 2006


Why is this even possible?

I said in this post that the liberal guilt was mostly to blame for the unbelievably pathetic attitude many on the left (and even on the right) have exhibited over the past couple of days.

It all started with this infamous quote from a known lefty:

[...] "illegal immigrants" are simply returning to the land that was once theirs (meaning crossing the current border), before the US stole it "fair and square" in an unjust war [...]
Of course, I'm not the only one who thinks that the combination of liberal guilt and some past grudges are causing what amounts to uprising of some kind in American streets. Ed Morrissey of Captain's Quarters says this, for example:

The rallies in Southern California only ripped the lid off of a well-known dynamic in the culture that mixes native guilt with radical illegal-immigrant activism to fuel the La Raza dream of Aztlan, the reconquest of the the Southwest and its return to Mexico or existence as a separate nation. This radical notion has been around since 1969 and plays a part in the fringe politics of the Southwest. However, the increasing sense of entitlement for illegals in the area has led this impulse out of the shadows and into the forefront of the amnesty movement by enabling people to argue that the illegals are returning to their own land and that the US lacks the sovereignty to declare otherwise.
So it's "native guilt with radical illegal-immigrant activism" according to Captain Ed. If true, this would be even more important reason to oppose this particular type of illegal immigration than the usual economic and fairness rationale.

A reader left this comment on my blog the other day:

[...] My wife, who is a mestizo immigrant (legal) from Mexico, supports enforcing immigration laws but across the board. That would include the one in seven coming from Canada. Somehow this inflow is ignored. Could it be because they are not brown?
I didn't answer right away because I didn't think that restating my usual position would have been good enough anymore.

[For the record, my reason to oppose illegal immigration from any country has to do mostly with economics and simple fairness, and, let's not forget, that pesky thing called the law. As far as fairness is concerned, the illegal immigrants are on the receiving end of the social contract we have in this country. Freeloaders are everywhere and that's already a good reason to oppose many of the social programs we already have. But because they are not going away, one way to eliminate potential abusers is to eliminate illegal immigration. If we go back to the times when the US welcomed almost everybody and when there were no income taxes, government schools, guaranteed health care, subsidized housing, etc., I won't complain as much.
IBD has a good editorial on this subject here.]

But the growing awareness that illegal immigration from the South may be after more than just economic opportunity, makes me worry less about fairness and more about this country. So the only answer I can give today is a quote from liberals' most favorite president courtesy of Rob and his Say Anything blog:
In the first place we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the man's becoming in very fact an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag, and this excludes the red flag, which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization, just as much as it excludes any foreign flag of a nation to which we are hostile...We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language...and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.
One country, one culture, one flag, one language...

Sunday, March 26, 2006


Nation of immigrants?

What founding fathers really said about (legal) immigration to the US.
· George Washington, in a letter to John Adams, stated that immigrants should be absorbed into American life so that "by an intermixture with our people, they, or their descendants, get assimilated to our customs, measures, laws: in a word soon become one people."

· In a 1790 speech to Congress on the naturalization of immigrants, James Madison stated that America should welcome the immigrant who could assimilate, but exclude the immigrant who could not readily "incorporate himself into our society."

· Alexander Hamilton wrote in 1802: “The safety of a republic depends essentially on the energy of a common national sentiment; on a uniformity of principles and habits; on the exemption of the citizens from foreign bias, and prejudice; and on that love of country which will almost invariably be found to be closely connected with birth, education, and family.”

· Hamilton further warned that "The United States have already felt the evils of incorporating a large number of foreigners into their national mass; by promoting in different classes different predilections in favor of particular foreign nations, and antipathies against others, it has served very much to divide the community and to distract our councils. It has been often likely to compromise the interests of our own country in favor of another. The permanent effect of such a policy will be, that in times of great public danger there will be always a numerous body of men, of whom there may be just grounds of distrust; the suspicion alone will weaken the strength of the nation, but their force may be actually employed in assisting an invader.”

· The survival of the American republic, Hamilton maintained, depends upon "the preservation of a national spirit and a national character.” "To admit foreigners indiscriminately to the rights of citizens, the moment they foot in our country would be nothing less than to admit the Grecian horse into the citadel of our liberty and sovereignty.”


2,500 sq ft lots will not create traffic (UPDATE)

The Forest Grove City Council in its progressive wisdom has approved super high-density housing developments. The new lots will be as small as 2,500 sq ft with only 6 ft between houses. I don't care. I will not live there.

What I find really curious is that the same people who support high-density developments, light-rail and otherwise cramming as many people as possible into small houses on small lots oppose Wal*Mart. I don't get it. I thought they were opposed to increased traffic. But I guess I was wrong. So the only good thing about this latest "judicious" decision is that the councilors and whoever supported them can't possibly use the traffic argument against Wal*Mart anymore.

Obviously, it was clear from the very beginning that most opponents didn't care about traffic. It was about opposing a successful, American, red-state company.

When the social engineers create more traffic, it's to punish people who cherish their freedom to driver whenever they want and wherever they want, alone in their big SUVs. In other words, it's a good thing. But when a private company wants to build a store and do what other private companies do in a free market system like ours -- compete and deliver cheaper goods for their customers -- the social engineers object because the common folk will be able to buy their stuff cheap and spend the extra money on SUVs, which will cause the common folk to pressure the social engineers to build more roads, which the social engineers don't want to do because that would be too much like, you know, American way of life. And, you know, we have to be more like Europeans.

So this decision and the complete lack of any coverage by the local paper -- until after the final decision was made -- simply clarify things a bit.

Speaking of the local paper. The latest edition was not online yet hence no links.

UPDATE: The FGNT story and editorial board take on it have been published on the web.

Bob Browning, a Forest Grove lawyer who represents the owner of one of the properties reviewed Monday, told councilors that three factors now make such developments feasible in Forest Grove.

First, he said, low-interest rates have kept the housing market hot, allowing developers to get the prices they need for high-density homes. (Representatives for two of the developments said their homes would start at about $250,000.)

Second, Browning said, the amount of land suitable for subdivisions has almost disappeared in other cities around Portland, making Forest Grove property more attractive.

Finally, he said, homeowners tastes are changing, as they look for a starter home or a place to downsize as they get older.

"The market today is more accepting of a single-family home on a small lot," said Browning, the city's former development director. "People don't want an apartment. They don't want to give up their house, but they don't care about the yard."
Browning worked against Measure 37. He also believes in something he calls social contract, which means: if you have money, I want to tax it and give it to somebody else. It is ridiculous for him to day "The market today is more accepting of a single-family home on a small lot" when people don't really have any choice in this respect. Because of people like him there is no buildable land left. So if people don't want to live in apartments -- something I agree with -- they are forced to live in single-family home on small lots. Bob Browning and other social engineers like him have taken the possibility of leaving on more than a postage stamp size lots away from us.

One paragraph from the editorial:
On Monday night, Kidd called for more discussion. The mayor said that in travels to other cities, he's seen high-density developments that have fallen into disrepair. If Forest Grove isn't vigilant, he warned, "What we have done tonight is to develop a slum 20 years from now."
It's forgone conclusion as far as I'm concerned. Whenever you put a lot of people into crammed spaces, the result is always the same. This is something social engineers just don't want to understand.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Quotes of the day

Quote 1
Both the U.S. and Israel, after all, are immigrant nations, founded and originally settled by people who, for various reasons, got the hell out of Europe. One can see why Europeans who stayed behind, and whose societies are considerably le/ss dynamic than either ours or Israel's, would resent those who rejected the European way.

Further, World War II left Europe owing an incalculable moral debt to both America and the Jews: America because it saved Europe from its own savagery, Jews because they were the primary victims of that savagery. European anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism are often hard to tell apart, and it may be because they both reflect a self-loathing aspect of the European psyche--a neurotic need to compensate for an overwhelming sense of historical guilt.

Quote 2
Vietnam-style defeatism, it seems to us, is an ingrained impulse of aging hippies, politicians and journalists. We don't think think this bunch of losers really speak for America.

Best of the Web Today


Let's (not) be more like France

Would you hire a punk just after college if you knew you could never fire him again? Me either. So the unemployment among the college graduates in France is 23%. But it may not be caused by the current strict and punishing employment laws the French government is trying to relax. It may be caused by the utter stupidity (or as IBD calls it politely "French paradox) of said graduates.
Parliament pushed through a plan to make it easier for companies to hire workers under age 26. How? By making it easier to fire them.

Students at the Sorbonne and other institutions of higher learning, untutored in basic economics, thought they heard double talk. They squawked. They poured into the streets. They rioted.

No wonder the French universities are one of the worst in the world. I wonder how those college graduates feel when they read job reports coming from the US where there is no job security yet US college graduates are about to enter one of the best job markets ever.

Monday, March 20, 2006


"Why aren't those people who claim to speak for black America mad as hell about illegal immigration?"

John Derbyshire has some thoughts on NYT's cognitive dissonance.

I've already posited that the reason could be the immense hate for the US many on the extreme left have exhibited during the past few years.

Or could it be that the left can't possibly concede that human suffering in today's world is caused by anything but the US and free markets? How much more evidence does NYT need to admit that socialism, moral relativism, and corruption have destroyed entire generations and keep countless millions in virtual slavery?

BTW, the article about urban blacks is especially depressing given this report.
U.S. college graduates are facing the best job market since 2001, with business, computer, engineering, education and health care grads in highest demand, a report by an employment consulting firm showed on Monday.

"We are approaching full employment and some employers are already dreaming up perks to attract the best talent," said John Challenger, chief executive of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

In its annual outlook of entry-level jobs, Challenger, Gray & Christmas said strong job growth and falling unemployment makes this spring the hottest job market for America's 1.4 million college graduates since the dot-com collapse in 2001.

It's all Bush's fault! Damn tax-cuts!

Saturday, March 18, 2006



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Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Grovenet's peace-mongers exposed?

I think that for the most part I know why lefties say things they say and do things they do. But I'm often puzzled about their attitudes toward illegal immigration. Most of them oppose Wal*Mart because of its labor practices. Critics insist that low wages and lack of benefits force tax payers to support many of Wal*Mart's employees through state-sponsored social programs. But the same people who are so vocal about Wal*Mart are either completely unaware of the real impact of illegal immigration on society, or, in fact, believe that illegal immigration is beneficial. When hospitals close because of unpaid bills, when crime goes up, when schools become overcrowded and unmanageable because of language barriers, behavioral problems, etc., they don't want to blame illegal immigration but instead blame Republicans for not raising taxes to pay for everything.

And so I wonder why, seemingly intelligent, albeit misguided people, would insist that the most obvious solution -- stopping illegal immigrants from crossing our borders -- is out of the question.

A few days ago, this post on Grovenet started a very interesting discussion.

The opinions on what should be done ranged from most rational -- close the borders and enforce existing laws, punish employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants, and change the laws if necessary -- to the usual tripe -- we need them, without them everything would be more expensive and businesses would fail, etc., etc., etc.

But the most interesting posts came from a few far-lefties who, unknowingly maybe, exposed the true motives of what I would consider the unpatriotic wing of the extreme left.

First came a blame-America-first post:
We are the richest country on earth, and we flaunt our wealth. We drive through Mexico with our motor homes, splash our cash everywhere we go, as the vast majority of Mexicans live in poverty in a country which is controlled by (what is the number?) about ten wealthy families. They have no chance at home. Why are we surprised they want to come north? Wouldn't you? And by what legal means can they aspire to "get what we have"?

So it's our fault that we enjoy the fruits of our labor when we visit Mexico and spend our hard-earned dollars in that hell hole of a country. What would happen to Mexican tourist industry if we stopped going there? Or should we go and just pretend we are poor?

The most revealing post however came, not surprisingly, from the professor himself:
I read or heard somewhere that the "illegal immigrants" are simply returning to the land that was once theirs (meaning crossing the current border), before the US stole it "fair and square" in an unjust war, as Teddy Roosevelt said of the Panama Canal Zone.

This is it! We live in a stolen country. We shouldn't even be here. Whatever laws we may have don't apply to the proper owners. And if we have to spend our taxes on additional social programs for illegal immigrants, that's only just. It's part of reparations surely to come sooner or later.

This wasn't the first the professor espoused similar ideas. It's enough to search through the Grovenet archives to discover that the worst thing that has ever happened to the world is the existence of this country. If it hadn't been for the US, communists, fascists, or, more recently, islamists would rule this world undisturbed spreading their version of justice. This is the same attitude that makes this man root for "insurgents" in Iraq. This is the same man who wants Bush to be impeached. Lest we succeed again in shaping the world's history for the better of all man kind.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


This old garden: day 12

I woke up on Saturday with a beautiful weather outside and with my sons playing only late afternoon games. So things moved along smoothly and I should be done with the remaining material on Sunday and driving back to Lowe's for more Sunday night. Posted by Picasa
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This old garden: days 7-11

Bad weather didn't allow me to make much progress until Saturday. This is how things had progressed through last week. Posted by Picasa
A view form the other side. Yes, that is a cat trap. But it's not set yet. Right now, I'm having problems with dogs sh...ing on my front loan. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Good bye

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This isn't good time to be a lefty, part 2

First, this.

DeLay Revels in an Easy Primary Victory


HOUSTON, March 8 — Fresh from his rout of three challengers in the Republican primary on Tuesday, Representative Tom DeLay released a statement Wednesday headlined "DeLay Delivers an Old Fashioned Texas Whoopin'."Final figures from the Texas secretary of state's office gave Mr. DeLay 62 percent of the vote, a ratio of more than two to one over his closest rival, Tom Campbell, a lawyer, who received 29.9 percent. Two other contenders, Mike Fejtland, a lawyer, and Pat Baig, a teacher, received 4.6 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively. Mr. DeLay rolled up 20,558 votes. Mr. Campbell had 9,937; Mr. Fejtland, 1,550; and Ms. Baig, 1,115.

And how about this one? (From e-mail I got this morning from The Club for Growth.)
Early this morning, Club members and the Club for Growth PAC won a historic victory. Congressman Henry Cuellar turned back an intense challenge from former Congressmen Ciro Rodriguez in a Texas Democratic congressional primary.

It's historic because Cueller was the first Democrat ever endorsed by the Club's PAC. No Republican was running for this seat, so Cuellar's win was tantamount to reelection. And what a win! Cuellar is a pro-growth Democrat who supports repeal of the Death Tax, extending the Bush tax cuts, and is a strong advocate of free trade.

On the other hand, Ciro "the Zero" Rodriguez (in honor of his 8 straight "F" grades from National Taxpayers Union) had the full support of organized labor, MoveOn.org, liberal bloggers, Democracy for America (the group founded by Howard Dean), and over $100,000 in advertising from environmentalists. Even Sen. John Kerry backed Ciro Rodriguez with a check. And of course, he had backing from trial lawyers too.

In the other corner backing Cuellar and his pro-growth policies stood Club members and the Club for Growth PAC. And we won!

Thank heaven for the members of the Club for Growth. Unlike the Far Left which uniformly got energized about this race, it was only Club members on the side of pro-growth policies who put real muscle into this race.

Club members have now proven that they can have a huge impact not only in GOP primaries, but in Democratic primaries too. Club members donated more than $170,000 through the Club's PAC to help Cuellar beat the Angry Left. The Club's PAC also ran an intensive phone bank that made over 50,000 calls to turn out pro-growth voters for Cuellar.

There are important lessons from this election for leaders in both parties in Washington. Democratic leaders need to understand that just because the loudest voices on the Left are shouting for higher taxes, more spending and greater government control over people's lives doesn't mean that's what voters -- even Democratic primary voters -- want.

Taxes and spending in Washington have gotten out of control because too many Republicans think they need to let tax cuts expire, oppose trade agreements, and bring government pork back home to get re-elected. But if a Democrat can successfully campaign on tax relief and free trade, then Republicans -- supposedly the party of limited government -- should be able to as well. And promoting such pro-growth policies is what the Club is all about.

We congratulate Henry Cuellar on his victory and encourage others to follow his example of supporting policies that will create economic growth.

And we thank all of the Club members who donated to Cuellar's campaign.

This isn't good time to be a lefty, part 1


It's bad enough when they are incompetent or lazy

It's another matter when they simply steal from us.
Delivery trucks would roll up to the shop, loaded with thousands of dollars worth of new equipment, tools and building materials. However, rather than bringing the items into the shop, however, district employees would take the tools and supplies from the trucks and load them into their personal vehicles.

Expensive new tools, still in their boxes, would come off the truck and be loaded directly into employees’ trucks and vans. No one seemed to pay any attention.
This happened in the City of Portland Parks Bureau. And this is just one example.


Job security in academia

I often wonder how certain professors can stay employed by a university like PU when they demonstrate willful ignorance of the most basic economic, social, historical, and even scientific facts.

This TCS article by a philosophy professor tries to answer that question.
As long as upper middle class parents are happy to fork over forty thousand dollars for a year of oppression studies at Harvard, the status quo will go unperturbed. Read: as long as consumers collude with providers, what they consume will be certification, not education.

Parents don't know. What we need is more students willing to expose their professors' incompetence.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


Wal*Mart as city square

Whenever I'm forced to travel to the Old Europe, which I try to avoid like a plague, one thing that I do find rather practical when I'm there are town squares. Even though town squares can be found in any Italian city, I find those in small towns especially charming. Sitting in a bar, sipping local white wine can't be beat by anything available to us in Forest Grove.

This is why I think that one of GroveNet's most prolific posters got it right when he wrote:
Almost the whole city block downtown bounded by Main Street, A Street, Pacific and 19th Avenues is up for sale. The only parts that are not are the bank building on the corner of Pacific and Main, the building occupied by the Scooter Shop at Pacific and A streets and the city parking lot in the middle of the block. I'm not sure about the vacant lot at the corner of Main and 19th.

What a nice place for a town square right in the middle of town! A place with a slope for an amphitheatre, room for things like the Renaissance Faire, the July 4th Event and endless other possibilities for town gatherings for not just locals but to bring in outsiders as well to enjoy special events. Lots of grass for folks to rest a bit, have a picnic and for children to play. How about a Gazebo for the city band and other entertainers to enjoy?

I've seen other towns like ours where the city square was filled daily with parents watching children at play, people reading, sketching, painting and talking over a cup of coffee or a picnic lunch. A busy, vital part of the town at almost any time. Even in the middle of winter, it's the focal point for the community holiday celebrations.
I agree. Would I be wiling to pay more taxes to pull it off? Of course not. The usual busy bodies in Forest Grove would quickly impose their own ideas of how the square should look like and what purposes it should serve.

But there is hope for the idea. And it may come from the most unlikely of sources.

Just when things looked their worst, a Wal-Mart executive came to her restaurant, and, over a meal of chorizo and eggs, told her the company was preparing to take over the space vacated by Broadway. He asked Armstrong if she would like to move her restaurant into their store, the first Wal-Mart in Los Angeles and the first two-story Wal-Mart in the nation.

That she did, and now Mis Amigos is a fixture in the store and the community. So is Wal-Mart. The store has become a gathering place for seniors and a first job for teens who might otherwise be roaming the streets. Armstrong sees up close every day a truth that politicians such as Delgadillo don't seem to understand: Everyone working at the store is there because they decided the job was better than any other alternative available to them.

"In this community we have a lot of school drop-outs," she said. "They have a job. They're smart. They can do so many things if they put their minds to it."

Armstrong is not the store's only fan. According to published reports, other small retailers in the area saw a surge in business after Wal-Mart opened and brought traffic, and life, back to the neighborhood. Even Delgadillo says that gang crime in the area has declined and a national theater chain that opened a cinema complex nearby is doing a booming business, though he attributes those successes to the redevelopment of the former automobile plant.

Delgadillo is still proud of his role in bringing the theaters to town, but wants forgiveness for his Wal-Mart sin. Yet Wal-Mart provides more jobs, better chances for advancement and probably better benefits, too. Both employers serve the same purpose for most of their employees: an entry into the work force and a chance to learn skills before moving up.

Monday, March 06, 2006


Maybe we need our own Katrina

From The Times-Picayune:

When the Orleans Parish School Board gathered last month and voted to fire virtually the entire work force of 7,500 teachers, custodians, bus drivers and kitchen staff, union brass might have been expected to clamor loudly in opposition.

Instead, but for one or two nonunion gadflies who spieled and sat down, you could practically hear the crickets.

Of course, in a fundamental sense, the union position was already a lost cause. Katrina scattered thousands of teachers and school staff workers across the nation, destroying their homes and many of the schools where they spent their careers.

The union's death blow came in November, when the Legislature voted to sweep 87 percent of the system's schools into a state-run recovery district, annulling the collective bargaining agreement that for years had given United Teachers of New Orleans the exclusive right to negotiate most school employees' contracts with the School Board.

The largest union in the city before Katrina, UTNO for years played a major role charting the course of public education and making and breaking political careers, particularly through its endorsements of School Board candidates. Although the union had not called a strike in 16 years, intermittent walkouts during the previous decades had emptied school buildings, sometimes for weeks at a stretch. Critics accused the union of coddling incompetent teachers and stifling moves toward a more innovative curriculum.

Supporters saw the union as a necessary resource for employees of a highly dysfunctional system that routinely lost paychecks and was so cash-strapped it almost failed to make payroll before a private management team was brought in last year. Today, with its Paris Avenue offices gutted, the union that once represented employees at 117 schools has members at only four campuses.


This isn't good time to be a lefty

The local lefties must be pretty down these days. First, after 15 months, the Oregon Supreme Court has finally affirmed people's will and their private property rights. Even if more challenges will follow, the dream about socialist utopia has taken a big kick in the ass.

Then, the Cornelius City Council decided that an American retailer that employs a lot of people and allows even more people to save a lot of money is welcomed in their booming town. The defeat to the anti-free-market forces was so big that the editor of our local paper started crying in public.

A few days later, the US Senate voted overwhelmingly to rebuff Peter Truax of the Forest Grove City Council (together with many other city council all over the country,) West County Council for Human "Dignity" and many peace-mongers on GroveNet. All of them supported so called "Patriot Act Resolution" and lobbied their representatives to kill the Patriot Act. How sweet it is to see the anti-American, pro-terrorist forces slighted by their own representatives confronted with the realities of upcoming elections.

Today, the US Supreme Court added an insult to the injury already inflicted by the US Senate and unanimously reminded all the peaceniks in Forest Grove and surrounding areas that federal money comes with certain strings attached. The Supremes rejected the free-speech nonsense presented by some law schools demanding my money and telling me to stuff it if I want something in exchange. But most importantly, "Justices ruled even more broadly, saying that Congress could directly demand military access on campus without linking the requirement to federal money." Did you hear it? Congress would be within its Constitutional rights to impose recruiters on all schools, public and private alike, to fulfill its responsibility in the time of war to defend this country. Peaceniks of Forest Grove be damned!

And let's not forget that a new legal battle has just started in South Dakota where a sweeping abortion ban was signed today by Governor Rounds (2016?) It may take 10 years as with the Salomon case but eventually the US Supreme Court, completely remade by President Bush, will overturn Roe V. Wade and return at least part of the Constitution to its original meaning.

No, it's not a fun time to be a lefty in Forest Grove. Maybe November will bring more joy. I can only hope not. For the country's sake.


The editor comes clean. Sort of.

I noticed some time ago that the Forest-Grove News-Times had been publishing rather one-sided "news" reports and even more one-sided editorials against Wal*Mart.

Finally, after the Cornelius city council handed the opponents what seems like the final defeat, the editor of the News-Times went on record as the opponent of Wal*Mart.

It’s time for me to come clean.

Last week's Cornelius City Council vote greatly boosts the odds that Wal-Mart will end up in this neck of the 'burbs, If so, what would I do?

As editor of the News-Times, I'd see that the event gets covered. As publisher of the News-Times, I'd gladly accept any advertising dollars that Wal-Mart wants to spend with this paper.

As a consumer, however, I doubt I'd part with much of my own money there.

That's partly because I share some of the concerns raised by Wal-Mart critics concerning its employment practices and the effects it has on small competitors and its own suppliers.

But, to be honest, my main reason for shunning Wal-Mart is the same reason I avoid any big-box retailer: I don't enjoy spending my money there.

I've never really been a big shopper and after years of comparing prices and watching for coupons, I now value service and convenience over price.

When our washing machine finally made its last spin cycle, I didn't even bother looking at the big-box ads. I stepped into Van Dykes and asked Pete what he recommended.

When my daughter needed shin guards last summer, we didn't check the specials at the national chains. We walked over to Frye's, picked up a pair and got some free soccer tips to boot.

I buy my milk three blocks from the office, at Hello Market where Gonghui Zheng uses small, local distributors to stock his shelves.

As a result, his bread comes out of Milwaukie, his butter is produced by a farmers' co-op in McMinnville and that gallon of two-percent in my refrigerator started out at a family-owned dairy in Silverton.

I realize that it is a luxury not to have to watch every penny. And should Wal-Mart set up shop down the road, there will be many families who will be able to save a few needed dollars on their shopping bill.

No kidding. But because you have found a "better way" everybody else has to now suffer the consequences of your enlightenment. How typical. How... lefty.

However, I have to say that it was somewhat refreshing to see Mr. Schrag come out as an anti-Wal*Martite. Even though I had long suspected it, it's nice to see some in the liberal media admitting their anti-capitalistic bias.

Unless, of course, this was Mr. Schrag's last attempt to garner last-minute popular support for any upcoming appeals. Maybe he thinks people will see how noble his shopping preferences are and will follow him to the bitter end opposing what may be a chance for many to find employment and save some money.

In that case, it was simply pathetic.

Lastly, I will have more respect for him when he comes clean on his unrelenting refusal to "analyze" the impact of illegal immigration on our area. When he gets enough testicular fortitude to do so I may re-subscribe to the paper.

Friday, March 03, 2006


Fully invested and about to double down

Those pesky Iraq files are not going to disappear. Sooner or later more of them will be released and hopefully once and for all we will know what Hussein was really up to. Of course, some of us who are fully invested in the Bush-lied meme are praying very hard right now that those files never see the light of day.
And therein is another danger of vesting too much power in an office. It's not just the office holder who may presume too much, it's the people who believe in him (or her) as well. Just look a the "true believers" who still think there were WMD in Iraq?? Their first rule is, "If the President said it, it's so!"

I guess it's because we have no reason not to trust our president (unless it's our borders, but that's another matter.) But we are trying to stay informed by staying away from BBC because it has that nasty way of obfuscating the truth, which leads some to very rushed conclusions.


I feel your pain

The president has been accused numerous times of not carrying about black people. Most recently when he didn't pray hard enough to stop the hurricane Katrina from hitting New Orleans. But one doesn't have to care about one particular group of people to care about that group of people as well. Sometimes, good policies, like cutting taxes, result in robust economy that lifts all people, including blacks.
The economy grew 3.5 percent last year despite the war on terror, sky-high oil prices, and hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma. For those with lower incomes, the bottom tax rate is now 10 percent rather than 15 percent. Meanwhile, higher-level tax-rate reductions leave more money in black middle-class pockets.

At this writing, the unemployment rate is 4.7 percent, its lowest level since July 2001. The bad news is that black unemployment is 8.9 percent. The good news is that it is down from a 10 percent average under President Clinton.

Meanwhile, with white unemployment at 4.1 percent, there is a 4.8 percent gap between white and black joblessness. That gap averaged 5.5 percent under President Clinton and 6.9 percent over the last 30 years. So, despite howls of Democratic protests, Bush's tax cuts have helped create the best black employment picture in a generation.

There are many more examples of why blacks should consider themselves more fortunate under Bush than under Clinton, and why they have been slowly moving to the right in their voting patterns since 2000, and why the trend may continue despite what has been said about what happened in New Orleans (including AP's levee fiasco.)

But some dead-end Clintonistas will insist until their graves that Clinton was so much better because he felt everyone's pain.

Compare the response of Bush to that of Clinton when Tim McVey blew up the building in Oklahoma. Oklahoma is very definitely R territory. But, when I think of that event, Clinton comes to my mind as someone who really cared. I think they and the country felt his sincerity.

The only thing I remember from Oklahoma was Clinton biting his lower lip. I wonder what he really felt when those children were burning in Waco...


Have thesaurus?

Should a professor of English at Pacific University know the difference between a breached levee and an overrun one? Of course, he should. Unless he is also a professor of so called peace studies. In that case, any thesaurus becomes useless because his hate for the president is just to blinding.

UPDATE: It seems that after several days even AP has finally understood the difference. OK, so I am generous here: AP knew the difference from the very beginning and decided to muddle the waters. Nothing else sticks so why not go back to that story from last summer. But why doesn't AP just tell us how it really feels about the president?

Clarification: Katrina-Video story


WASHINGTON (AP) _ In a March 1 story, The Associated Press reported that federal disaster officials warned President Bush and his homeland security chief before Hurricane Katrina struck that the storm could breach levees in New Orleans, citing confidential video footage of an Aug. 28 briefing among U.S. officials.

The Army Corps of Engineers considers a breach a hole developing in a levee rather than an overrun. The story should have made clear that Bush was warned about floodwaters overrunning the levees, rather than the levees breaking.

The day before the storm hit, Bush was told there were grave concerns that the levees could be overrun. It wasn't until the next morning, as the storm was hitting, that Michael Brown, then head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said Bush had inquired about reports of breaches. Bush did not participate in that briefing.


If I have to give, make it fair

I didn't like student segregated fees for two reasons. First, I had to work and borrow to pay my way through 9 years of higher education. Second, both University of Washington and University of Wisconsin-Madison awarded segregated fees funds to the most wacky left-wing organizations imaginable.

So although belated, this news is welcomed, especially because an organization I still support financially will also benefit.

The University of Wisconsin Roman Catholic Foundation has been awarded nearly $150,000 of student segregated fees through the Associated Students of Madison. This decision was made after months of appeals over whether the student group could fund a religious organization.

This is still under review by the University chancellor but one thing is sure. A successful Supreme Court case brought by a former UW law student in 2000 cleared the way for this group and possibly other religious and right-wing groups to receive part of those funds.

BTW, isn't it ironic that UW lost the case because one of its students actually paid attention in the constitutional law classes?


Solutions for public schools

As the news about American public schools gets worse, the same question is asked over and over by thousands of worried parents:

So what are my options?

They could revolt.

Or they could play the system to their and their children advantage.

Even as taxpayers pour billions more dollars into public schools, performance continues to falter. Test scores remain flat, at best, while conditions worsen.

One way to improve public education is from within the system. Charter schools, which are public schools that operate independently of local systems, often succeed where conventional public schools fail.

Charter schools thrive in large part because they are free from much of the tangle of rules and regulations that burden public schools, giving teachers some latitude to innovate. In some states, charter schools are fully exempt except for health, safety, special education and civil rights regulation.

This freedom typically provides parents with greater opportunities to be involved in their children's educations. At the same time, students usually get more individual attention and a chance to focus on the subjects they excel in and enjoy the most.

Apparently freedom works. Test scores at charter schools are "rising sharply," according to Danielle Georgiou of the National Center for Policy Analysis. Students at these schools, she adds, "are more likely to be proficient in reading and math than students in neighboring conventional schools, achieving the greatest gains among African-American, Hispanic and low-income students."

And who builds those charter schools? Free market. And this is why the left hates them so much.

Charter schools are usually located in urban areas and are often launched by the efforts of churches, community centers and nonprofit organizations that receive a charter from an authorizing body. That means, yes, they are accountable. And they tend to serve large numbers of students from lower-income and needy families.

But startup costs often present a lofty hurdle for groups that dream of charter schools in their communities. Developers can bridge this gap by building new facilities or renovating old ones and turning them over to schools.

The practice makes perfect sense and is increasingly becoming a tool for commercial — and sometimes nonprofit — builders to lure young families into urban and suburban housing developments. It's the free market at work solving one of the country's most intractable problems.

Given how well charter schools perform, it's no surprise they can be a strong attraction for parents who are making decisions about moving. Chicago-area builder Cambridge Homes, for instance, says it added a charter school to a northeast Illinois housing development because it's part of a "quality of life package" that people are looking for.

From Florida, where Fernando Zulueta put a charter school in a housing development in 1997, to Aurora, Colo., where nearly a dozen developers are essentially creating a new school system from a network of charter schools, developers are meeting the needs of parents and students who want a better education than conventional public schools can deliver.

Thursday, March 02, 2006


This old garden: day 5

I can only work 1 hour a day while there is still some daylight left. Not much to show so far. Maybe this weekend...
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