Sunday, October 31, 2010

Public divorce and custody matters, e.g., Horman case

Accusations fly in Horman case

This has all the earmarks of a typical divorce. Much is alleged without one bit of evidence. And, it must be remembered that divorce is a civil matter where the courts have no jurisdiction over criminal matters. If there are pending criminal matters relevant to the divorce or child custody - the civil matter is routinely delayed as to those matters. 

Ordinarily the media wouldn't give two hoots over a divorce or custody matter - but the disappearance of Kyron Holman makes it different. His father Kaine has used the media and is using the civil matter to accuse Kyron's stepmother in the disappearance. And when one bothers to read the comment portions of any of the media reports - Terri Horman is guilty in the court of public opinion .

Printing as a sign of the uneducated

Most college students print as cursive writing starts to disappear on Oregon campuses | OregonLive.com

There was a time not long ago when an educated person wrote cursively and the less educated printed. Those without any education had only a mark for their signature. What has computers, gadgets and social networking generation wrought?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Catlin Gabel School in the news again

Catlin Gabel (CG) is a Beaverton, Cedar Mill, with a Portland address, private school that made news in May 2010 because two of the finalists in the Intel Science Talent Search were a product of this school. It made news again, October 28, 2010, when Phil and Penny Knight (Nike) announced a multi-million dollar gift to the school. The school is using it in part to fund 4 scholarships for freshmen.

Why was this school able to produce not just one but two finalist in a national search? The CG students were the only two from Oregon to become finalists. What does the success of this school say, if anything, about the public school system? 

There is something for everybody. If you believe in teacher to student ratio – then CG's 7:1 ratio may put a knowing smile on your face. And, if you believe that it is wealth that makes the difference – you too are nodding your head. Also if believe that it is culture or family attitudes - you can nod your head too. And, finally, those who believe private school perform better than public schools – have a claim to being right.

Thomas Friedman, New York Times columnist, writing about the Intel Science Talent Search, says that success rests with Asian students that are a product of legal immigration. You see a majority of the 40 finalist "hailed from immigrant families, largely from Asia." He apparently derived that conclusion from the list of names.

Mr. Friedman: "I think keeping a constant flow oflegal immigrants into our country [...] is the key to keeping us ahead of China. Because when you mix all of these energetic, high-aspiring people with a democratic system and free markets, magic happens." Hogwash!

Arguably, the two finalists from CG are culturally split, i.e., only one is an Asian. And what from what culture does the other student come from? Difficult to say from his last name - Ellis. But in diversified US - those of Asian decent (often based upon the last name) however far removed from their predecessors' country of origin - are Asian. The rest are culturally deficient - American. 

My point is that these students, whatever their last name or from what country they may be able to trace their ancestors - are a product of American schools and are Americans. Isn't it rather ignorant to point to immigration or to a particular culture as the factor in student's success. CG's finalists makes the point.

Of course there is some truthiness that the Asian culture is more demanding of its students and consequently are better students. And it does appear that many students in Asian countries score better than the US students. So how did this country produce so much technology?

I believe that Catlin Gabel proves the point that it is high expectation that is the real success factor. It is more accurate and fair to state that students from families with high expectations of their children do well in schools that also have high expectations of their students. 

Covert FBI war - dark memories

Covert FBI war against Americans leaves dark memories - RT

The article is probably bent too much to the left - just filter it out and there is a decent recap of the "good old days" when the FBI was bent to the right. Heady days.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Building in China falls on its side

See more images and why it happened.


Governor's race - $15 mil fundraising by Tweedledee and Tweedledum

Wasteful spending: Fundraising in governor's race tops $15M | kgw.com

Are these candidates the best that Oregon can produce? Neither Dudley nor Kitzhaber sparks excitement, hope or anything positive. What differentiates the two? One was a professional basketball player and the other was the governor. The latter's record as a governor is lackluster, and besides, he had his chance.

Dudley obviously lacks experience as a public servant, if politicians can truly be called public servants, but he appears to match Kitzhaber in political skills as well as other abilities.

Looking at what each stands for - an improbable determination from the public record - there is little difference. E.g., take a peek at a question and answer session published in the Daily Journal of Commerce.

$15 million spent for Tweedledee and Tweedledum - doesn't that speak to campaign reform?.

Random event?

Shots hit Pentagon; Police label it 'random event' - Yahoo! News

10/19/10: "Five to seven shots probably from a high powered rife were fired into the Pentagon building, an unoccupied portion, without penetration." And that is a random event?

Update 10/29/10: FBI urges gunman in DC-area shootings to surrender - Yahoo! News

"As authorities investigated a fourth nighttime shooting at a Washington-area military building, the FBI urged the unknown gunman to surrender before someone is hurt."

Not so random. Sounds purposeful. DC-area gunman may have grievance against Marines - Yahoo! News


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Who would have thunk?

First Sub Officer Assignments for Women

How is this going to work? Won't there be sexual problems? I mean mixing men and women is such close quarters - won't the men and women want to have at to the detriment of the boat's (submarine is a boat) morale?

I am being sarcastic for the obvious reasons.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Filling in the hole left by the Port of Portland

Back in August 2006 the Port was considering a consolidation move from its 121 NW Everett Old Town location to its new airport facilities. In 2007 the Port of Portland announced their move from Old Town. In early 2009 the Old Town property was sold to and leased backed from a Seattle company; and the office space was leased to the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA).

In May 2010 the majority of the Port's employees had moved to the airport headquarters. It is my impression that they have now moved from Lake Oswego to Old Town with 300 employees.

Who is NWEA? "Northwest Evaluation Association incorporated in 1977 and provides educational testing services to more than 3,400 educational partners, namely school districts and education associations. An estimated 4 million school children take its exams. It has offices in Indianapolis, Ind., and Pottsboro, Texas." [Portland Business Journal (PBJ)].

Fix US first

One Laptop per Child (OLPC): Mission:

"The mission of One Laptop per Child (OLPC) is to empower the children of developing countries to learn by providing one connected laptop to every school-age child. In order to accomplish our goal, we need people who believe in what we’re doing and want to help make education for the world’s children a priority, not a privilege."

I am not quite sure why I am bothered by all the non-profits that are essentially structured to help anyone other than those within the United States that also need the help. Aren't there areas of the U.S. that are much like that in developing countries? Is it just easier to acquire the donations when the mission is other countries? Isn't it turning a blind eye to our own needs - a reluctance to admit our failures?

No Second Thoughts - NYTimes.com

No Second Thoughts - NYTimes.com

David Brooks is just about in the center - his politics seem to be not really right nor left. Maybe he could be described as moderate but he is spot on in his analysis of the democrats.

". . . and the party may be heading for a historic defeat, but Democrats have done a magnificent job of maintaining their own self-esteem. This is vital, because even if the public doesn’t approve of you, it is important to approve of yourself."

"In short, it’s hard not to be impressed by the spirit of self-approval that Democrats have managed to maintain this election. I say that knowing it may end as soon as next Wednesday, when, as is their wont, Democrats will flip from complete self-worship to complete self-laceration in the blink of an eye."

What are Oregon voters angry at?

Beats me. It isn't clear that Oregonians care enough about anything to get angry. That seems to be especially true of Portlanders. Voter turnout for this off-year election might be interesting, I suspect it will be lower than usual.

What makes others made as hell and they won't take it anymore: "It stems from being totally fearful that the people representing them are incompetent. They think they're all a bunch of scoundrels. And who could argue with them?" [SFGate] Oregonians by their apathy.

Here some things that all of us - even Oregonians - ought to be angry about.

Old Town's Block 8

Ryan Frank reports that the Naitos - Bill Naito Company - is meeting with Commissioner Saltzman to discuss a height variance for their Old Town project on Block 8. He actually implies that the Naito Company owns the property, but I don't believe that is accurate.

I don't think that any portion of this block is owned by the Bill Naito Company. It was acquired by PDC for the Ankeny Burnside project that failed. There has been planned development by the Naito Company for the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine site ever since; but although it was speculated that the Naito Company would reacquire the land - it doesn't appear that it has.

It would be for good reasons that the Naito Company would not want to reacquire the land until the project appears feasible. This is not the first go around on a height variance. And development in Old Town  faces many obstacles, e.g., those often raised by the historical preservationists. Thus, ownership would leave the Naito Company paying property taxes on property it has been deterred from developing.

A goal of urban renewal is more property tax revenue.

Money talks

Long-time and Big-time Democratic Contributor Writes Rare Check to Republican | Willamette Week

This guy is some kind of poster child for campaign reform. “I’m a strong supporter of a sales tax and upset about the irresponsible campaigning House Democrats have engaged in,” McCormack says. “This is a warning shot to the House caucus to stop it.”"

It is unclear just how this person's dollars might actually influences the politicians - but he obviously believes it does. Votes have a much better impact and his political preferences means nothing to me. But, if I were writing checks for $1 mil I would expect someone to listen.

Oregonian -a message from your own paper

On matters of race and culture, we should listen before we judge | OregonLive.com

Leonard Pitts, Jr., writes a syndicated column that appears in the Oregonian. It was the Juan Williams' firing by NPR that gave rise to his post carried in the Oregonian. An Oregonian editorial on the firing had failed to look before leaping into the fray. [See my post.] This is just another column by Mr. Pitts that calls attention to the obvious.

"There's a moral to that experience: Few issues are more in need of serious discussion than race and culture. And while we should be vigilant against those who would drag that discussion into the mire of bigotry, we also owe people the courtesy of listening to what they've said before judging it. After all, a subjective line is still a line."

Disappearing booksellers

Downtown Borders Books Closing in January | Willamette Week

This closing doesn't appear to have a Portland connection, i.e., downtown crime, parking, city policies, etc. Just a little Google research demonstrates that Borders has been suffering for quite some time. E.g., a March 2008 Washington Post article: "Unable to Compete, Borders May Sell Chain."

Print media is going, going and almost gone. Small booksellers were put out of business by the likes of Borders, now it is easy to surmise that the likes of Amazon.com is putting them out of business. Amazon has virtually any book one might desire and with their free shipping on a $25 order it is often less expensive and nearly as quick as going to Borders or Barnes and Noble. 

And with Amazon's Kindle and its computer software that essentially gives Kindle capacity to your PC, MAC, iphone, etc. -  one can easily surmise that once the present older generation passes on - the demand for books, or anything print, will be substantially less 

Can Powell's Books be far behind? Is their niche quantity sufficient to guarantee its survival?

White Stag Block receives national recognition - who gets the credit - who paid?

White Stag Block receives national recognition � Daily Journal of Commerce

"The University of Oregon’s newest Portland campus has received the Preservation Honor Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation." This award was for the restoration of the White Stag Block which in fact is not a block, but 3/4 of block 9. The other 1/4 is the Blagen Building owned by John Beardsley.

Two of the three White Stag buildings
Blagen Building
The restoration of these buildings have produced excellent results. The White Stag buildings were empty for way too long.

But, a couple items need mentioning. John Beardsley's building doesn't get the credit and attention that it deserves.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Contrived news - Oregonian

The Oregonian has focused obsessively on the divorce aspect of the Kyron Horman story. It is clearly valid to focus on the finding of Kyron, but it seems that divorce documents are being used to create a story. From the media and apparently many others - Terri Horman is guilty of something to do with Kyron's disappearance June 4, 2010. Over 4 months later - thus far there is not one bit of evidence and not one arrest.

Monday, October 25, 2010

It wasn't a free speech issue

NPR CEO apologizes for handling of Williams firing - On Media - POLITICO.com

I stated in an earlier post that "[i]t isn't a free speech issue. A news organization's credibility rests in its employees like Mr. Williams, thus, news media have a duty to maintain that credibility - by employee termination if necessary." NPR CEO Schiller apologized for the timing, but not the firing.

She stated in part: "Juan Williams’ comments on Fox News last Monday were the latest in a series of deeply troubling incidents over several years. In each of those instances, he was contacted and the incident was discussed with him. He was explicitly and repeatedly asked to respect NPR's standards and to avoid expressing strong personal opinions on controversial subjects in public settings, as that is inconsistent with his role as an NPR news analyst."

I had noted also that Juan Williams was a conservative in liberal clothing. And the fact that within 24 hours of his firing he signed onto Fox News for a lucrative three year contract for nearly $2 mil only reinforces that assessment. He belongs on Fox News. But news media like the Oregonian  (blog aggregator) wanting to exhibit their diversity credentials leaped without looking into the fray with an irrelevant bias accusation against NPR.

Political correctness serves no one.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Portland’s top cop talks gangs

Portland’s top cop talks crime, gangs, budgets, and priorities — in Powellhurst-Gilbert | East PDX News

For a while there had been no shootings outside the "gang areas" so the city's anti-gang activity had been undetectable. Not surpassingly when it seems that the only goal is containment, i.e., as long as the gang activity is limited or cooled down, the city is not so concerned.

However, a recent October 23rd shooting, 1 dead & 3 wounded, hasn't produced any immediate "concerns" from the mayor's office or the police bureau. But, it is the weekend. Interesting - the shooting took place in Powellhurst-Gibert neighborhood that Chief Reese gave his September 19th talk.

It seems though that the primary concern of the city is public relations. When events raise the eyebrows of the denizens of Portland -  the city and police department make the appropriate noise until the media focus goes elsewhere. Case in point - take a peek at the Portland Tribune article in January 2009: "New police mission takes aim at rising gang violence."

It is an article that is re publishable on a reoccurring basis. Change the date and the name of the police commissioner- and no one would know the difference. E.g.: "The task force is expected to boost patrols in some areas using officers from the Portland Police Gang Enforcement Team HotSpot Enforcement Action Team, the East Metro Gang Enforcement Team, Multnomah County Parole and Probation and Metropolitan Gang Task Force. The group also will coordinate with social services and others to provide young people who are at risk of gang affiliation alternatives that steer them away from violence."

That was from Commissioner Saltzman who was the then police commissioner. But it gives an inkling that he hadn't clue, maybe repeating Chief Reese's ideas. And based upon his neighborhood talk it seems that the chief hasn't a clue either.

Sadly, but not unexpected, is that the first thing out of his mouth to anyone willing to listen is how safe Portland is and implicitly, if not explicitly, takes credit for low crime rate. Of course this ignores the fact that crime is down all over the country and that gang violence is on the rise and so too what is described as livability crime, drugs and alcohol.

However, he moves on to talk about gangs.blaming the problem on gentrification. And contrary to the text in the article - one has to read the whole paragraph - he sees urban renewal as a solution: "We’ve got to have that same kind of urban renewal out here, also. We need to create economic wealth for everyone in our community. We need to have jobs, and safe places for everyone to live." Hogwash!

He simply ignores the New Columbia, Portsmouth neighborhood, an urban renewal failure. See Oregonian, July 23, 2010 article: "Killing spurs increase in security at Portland's New Columbia." E.g., "There were 10 aggravated assaults committed with guns in New Columbia’s Portsmouth neighborhood in 2009, according to Police Bureau statistics. There was also one attempted murder with an unknown gun."

In his presentation,the chief states: “We want to identify those people who are involved in gang activity. We want to reach out and touch them and their family. We’re working with Parole and Probation, [imposing restrictions] so they can’t be out late at night, and restricting them from being in certain geographic areas that we’ve identified as ‘gang hotspots’."

It is also interesting that a 2006 Inside Community Justice article "Tracking New Gangs in Oregon" (scroll down) mentions that the county seems to have already been identifying, reaching out, working with, etc.

How is that working out for you chief? Police Sgt. Simpson makes this comment in the Oregonian's coverage of the recent shooting: "gang violence is happening all over the city." It ought to be clear to everyone that gangs are no longer the stereotypical Bloods and Crips and are not neighborhood specific. See Black Street Gangs in Los Angeles: A History for an interesting take; see too Federal Indictment accuses 20 linked to Asian gangs with drug trafficking and Sham marriage conspiracy

The top cop apparently sees gangs as composed of deluded youths selling drugs and stealing. "If you have no hope, you probably get into a gang or get involved with other behavior that is not positive. But if you see an opportunity for education or for jobs, you will become part of our community rather than someone who needs to be removed from society."

That analysis seems rather pedestrian. The recent shooting seems to run counter to that line of thinking. But, isn't there a lot more to it than just education and jobs. Will this be like homes for the homeless? All we have to do is to provide them an opportunity for an education and jobs? But don't "we" already do that? And, aren't there many who never go beyond high school, if that, and never have a decent paying job but never turn to gangs and violence?

Portland spends bundles of money on consultants for development projects - maybe it is time to spend money on consultants to aid the police in solving a gang problem that is expanding and operates contrary to established stereotypes. 

Let sleeping dogs lie II

In an earlier commentary I wondered why the spouse of Justice Thomas would bring up the Anita Hill testimony - why after 19 years would she call Anita Hill and request an apology? We will probably never know but a couple of subsequent articles points out why it is best not to wake up the dogs.

Clarence Thomas' wife dials a wrong number has a list of others that Justice Thomas' wife should have called first. The point made is that if Anita Hill is a liar then those who in one way or another substantiated Ms. Hill's testimony are liars too.

Supremely Bad Judgment: "And now into the circus comes Lillian McEwen, an old girlfriend of Thomas’s(sic)." She apparently had similar experience as Ms. Hill, but New York Times' Maureen Dowd goes beyond the myriad of other women with stories to be told to the behind the scenes of the Senate testimony.

E.g., "Joe Biden, the senator who ran those hearings, was leery of the liberal groups eager to use Hill as a pawn to checkmate Thomas. He circumscribed the testimony of women who could have corroborated Hill’s unappetizing portrait of a power-abusing predator."

Much attention is focused on Virginia Thomas conservative (can you say right wing?) activities. And there is too an uncomfortable connection between Supreme Court Justices - Thomas and Scalia with Koch Industries a large donor to "far-right cause." And there is much, much more.

Ms. Dowd rightfully raises other concerns that go to our democracy. The Supreme Court's decisions of In Bush v. Gore, where "the Supreme Court chose the Republican president;" and in the Citizens United decision that "gave corporations, foreign contributors, unions, Big Energy, Big Oil and superrich conservatives a green light to surreptitiously funnel in as much money as they want, whenever they want to elect or unelect candidates."

But, maybe Virginia Thomas did us a favor after all. The right is becoming all too prevalent.

Email scams

Laura Gunderson - Oregonian - had an all too brief article on scams. The featured scam found its mark via a classified ad that wasn't so transparent as the email get rich ones.

I never quite understand how anyone can be duped by the email scams. However, it seems clear that they must have some success because they never stop. Recently my spam folder has seen a spate of would be scams. One that seems to just keep on coming is one from Mrs. Maple Bohiri.

It is one of the better sad stories that attempts to make it seem legitimate by requiring the recipient to give part of the money to charity. She is "a patient of oesophageal cancer and my doctor says that I have just few months to live. I wish to will my late husband’s money to a trust worthy person that will help me use it to help the less privilege children and the orphanage since I will not be able to do it my self due to the illness."

See here for the full text and a site (one of many) that specializes in exposing the email scams. Notice that it is better written than most of the other email scams. E.g., this from banker Ahmed Derick: "This message might meet you in utmost surprise, however, it's just my Urgent need for foreign partner that made me to contact you for this transaction."

I suspect that the content was purposefully designed to sound a little bit ignorant to appeal to American "superiority," i. e., he is,after all, an African banker from OUAGADOUGOU - BURKINA-FASO.

It is so easy to check these emails and scams out. The Oregonian gives a couple of sites, but for the most part all one has to do is to use Google search and type in the name of the sender.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Intel's new jobs in Hillsboro

A rather long blog post by the Oregonian's Mike Rogoway wherein he attempts to determine who will fill those jobs. See also the BeaverJournal. See my earlier post. While it is clear that there is an unemployed pool from which to draw workers, but it isn't addressed how many will be hired locally in Hillsboro or how many might  be Portlanders.

The graph to the left demonstrates that depending on the reference point the construction industry is suffering, but this is not necessarily reflective of the particular parts of the industry that will be involved at Intel.

There was a peak of construction jobs at about 115,000 to 70,100 today. A drop of 44,900 jobs - about a 40% loss. A large drop too with the Hi-tech jobs. From a peak, about 2001 -02, of approximately 50,000 to today's 34,400 shows about a 33% loss or about 15,600 jobs.

The advertised number of workers to be hired: construction workers 6k to 8k and manufacturing hi-tech jobs 800 to 1,000. While it appears to be a much needed shot in the arm, in fact, it may only help ease the unemployment situation of 10.6%. The construction workers will only start to be hired next year and the remainder after the facility is completed. And some of these workers will be for the Arizona facility.

It appears that the construction jobs will be filled out of the local Hillsboro union hiring hall. Thus, unless there are more jobs than unemployed union members - non union workers may be out of luck. E.g., Mr. Rogoway built his article in part around an unemployed construction worker, but it would seem that unless he is a union member, we are not told, he will not necessarily find a job when the work commences next year.

Mr. Rogoway states that Intel "fills existing research factories with a mix of skilled manufacturing staff and engineers trained at the world's top research universities." In the past, according to Mr. Rogoway "Intel has also drawn on Portland Community College and the Oregon Institute of Technology for trained factory technicians." But most extant position at Intel "require a two-year associate's degree."

It doesn't sound promising except maybe for a few. Are there many with the necessary qualifications ready to go to work? Apparently it is thought that those "experienced tradesmen and tradeswomen with experience in fab construction" that worked on Intel's current research fab that opened in 2003 will be available as a pool for new hires. That is 7 years ago - are any of them needing work or even available?

Please read the article, but it seems that there will be a limited in state pool for hi-tech workers and the construction jobs will be union members thus making it difficult, if not impossible, for non union workers to find a job. Mr. Rogoway's featured unemployed construction worker may still be unemployed next year.

I had wondered too in the earlier post about the state and local governments financial involvement. Mr. Rogoway notes that "Intel enjoys tremendous tax advantages in Oregon, which exempts the company's manufacturing equipment from the property taxes other businesses pay. That saves Intel close to $40 million a year." And that "[c]hanges in how Oregon calculates corporate income taxes, first approved in 2001, cut Intel's Oregon income tax bill by at least as much."

Oregon is clearly a good business climate for Intel, but while it will provide needed construction jobs, temporary by nature, and will provide hi-tech work for a relatively few Oregon workers - it will do little towards easing the unemployment rate of 10.6% .

The $10,000 list - money talks and politicians listen

The Week published a "Grip and Grin" list of 39 donors who gave $10,000 to be seen with the president. The president was helping to raise money for Mr. Kitzhaber, but some of the money went to defray the cost of the president's appearance. Most of the people are not immediately name recognizable. While they are listed individually, some were apparently spouses representing $20,000 donations.

I did a Google search for just a few - here are selected results.
Eric Lemelson
Danton Wagner
Leland Larson 
Michael Powell 

One of the Week's readers noted that one person must have been a guest because she works for a non-profit. It is unclear why that would limit a donation, but it is not clear either that the company Life by Design NW is a non-profit. See Oregon Business Registry, Business Name Search. Moreover, if non-donating guests were permitted the list would have been longer. But apparently children with donors were given a free pass.

It is clear that there are those that can easily part with $10,000, if for no other reason, bragging rights. And of course, there is an advantage to hanging out with others similarly situated. In any event - one can understand an expectation that where $10,000, or part thereof, is given a phone call will be taken. It buys access.

Politics and fund raisers send a clear message - money amplifies your voice. But don't be mislead - $5 will get you nowhere.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Legal limits to blogging

Court to Google: Tell NYer who posted about her | kgw.com

Posting anonymously may be protected by "free speech," but blogging still has responsibilities. The Internet is just another form of communication with the rights and obligations found in other communications. The cause for concern was not mere words but posting of "denigrating comments and unauthorized videos."

I support the ability to blog anonymously because the overall good it does and not because of any "free speech" issues. Many have valuable opinions that would not otherwise be heard, but it is hard to argue that most of the anonymous postings I see in the local media are valuable opinions.

Too many are postings that would not be published if their identity were known. And, it is not a whistle blower philosophy. It is content that is too often just rank name calling and attempts to disparage others for the sake of pure meanness. But, dialogue, even that some find offensive, is necessary in a democracy.

Aptly stated by Attorney Bennet G. Kelley: "There's a tension there — there's a First Amendment right to be able to speak anonymously, but there's no First Amendment right to violate the law."

It is really quite sad

Obama Visit: Mayor Adams Was 'In the Motorcade' | Willamette Week

Portland is the major city in Oregon and the mayor was dis-invited to be with the big boys greeting the president. With any other big city mayor - if the mayor and president didn't at least shake hands - it would have been played in the media as a snub by someone.

And, this is a large Democratic city with a decidedly liberal bent. The president and state leaders would normally be looking to seek the mayor's support. But he was ignored.

Worst yet - since he was not invited - the mayor tagged along anyway pretending to be somebody while riding along with the police chief.

There is no sympathy here for the mayor. He made his bed and he must lie in it. But it is Portland that suffers.

The self-righteous editorial board

A brouhaha over a few dozen words | OregonLive.com

The Oregonian editorial board sees itself as the arbitrator of free speech. It knows what should be said and not said. Juan Williams words read in context should not be taken to be anti-Muslim.

Isn't political correctness and the fear of offending somebody more often the cause of problems? Isn't a democracy a forum for discussion? Can we never say anything because it may offend somebody else, even if that isn't the intention? Is what we said to be valued on excerpts? Are our words only to be judged by the listener's biases?

Whether Mr. Williams should have been fired is between him and his employer. But, Mr. Williams has expressed a valid alternative rationale for his firing - NPR was looking for a way to disassociate him from NPR because of his Fox News activities. [See New York Times]. There is little in common between Fox News and NPR and one can understand how there might be problems at NPR with Mr. Williams also working for Fox. And, firing with cause most likely has financial benefits for NPR.

But rather than this incident remaining something between NPR and Mr. Williams, a choice made by NPR, it became a free speech issue with unexpected support from Fox News: "He’s an honest man whose freedom of speech is protected by Fox News on a daily basis.” [New York Times].

One can easily argue that support for Mr. Williams is coming from the bigoted political right, but it is just as likely this is more of a battle between the conservatives and the right against the liberals and the left: Fox News vs NPR.

But when the listener selects only part of Mr. Williams conversation with Mr. O'Reilly's to find fault - it becomes a free speech issue or its dreaded corollary - censorship. Political correctness has evolved to censorship with the ironic twist of journalists defending political correctness instead of free speech.

Ironic too is the Oregonian's claim that it isn't an issue of free speech or political correctness in defending NPR's right to fire Mr. Williams. Ok - I am with them so far - but then the Oregonian labels Mr. Williams as a bigot and details why he should not have said what he thought. It is okay to think those thoughts but don't express them - priceless.

Whatever happened to this censorship concept: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." [Wikiquote]. Now it seems to be that I will defend your right to say what I want to hear.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Political correctness serves no one

NPR fires Juan Williams over anti-Muslim remarks

I am not a fan of Juan Williams. He seems more like a conservative cloaked in liberal clothes, but as it seems to be the case with today's media - an isolated comment is presented as anti-Muslim but isn't when the surrounding text is read.

It didn't help that he was appearing on the Bill O' Reilly Factor whose host can reasonably be said to blame Muslims for 9-11. Thus, it wasn't the comment, but where it was made. If made on the Daily Show - unlikely any issue. And it doesn't help that he is a regular Fox analyst and commentator.

It isn't a free speech issue. A news organization's credibility rests in its employees like Mr. Williams, thus, news media have a duty to maintain that credibility - by employee termination if necessary. One may have the right to stand on street corners, or wherever, and proclaim their biases, but they are not protected from being fired.   

But when one makes a statement - it is not unreasonable to expect that the context of that statement be considered. It is only fair to be judged on the meaning found in the full text. Mr. Williams' words when viewed in total covey the opposite to the isolated text seized upon by NPR.

Sadly, news organizations, even NPR, are preemptively offering sacrificial lambs to appease some minority group that might voice even an ignorant claim.

Let sleeping dogs lie

Anita Hill Asked to Apologize by Justice Thomas’s Wife - NYTimes.com

US Supreme Court Justice Thomas is not regarded as a legal scholar. My guess is that he will not be remembered well for his role on the court, but thanks to his wife he is being remembered for the assertions of sexual harassment against him by Anita Hill.

October 1991, she testified against him in Senate hearings for his confirmation. Her claims arose from the time that she was an employee reporting to Clarence Thomas when they worked at the Equal Opportunity Commission. Thus, her claims of sexual harassment was especially interesting.

And it is not just the claim that makes it memorable - it is the graphic testimony that might, among other things,  make one think twice about drinking a Coke. Two excepts:

"One of the oddest episodes I remember was an occasion in which Thomas was drinking a Coke in his office, he got up from the table at which we were wording, went over to his desk to get the Coke, looked at the can and asked, "Who has put pubic hair on my Coke?""

"On other occasions he referred to the size of his own penis as being larger than normal and he also spoke on some occasions of the pleasures he had given to women with oral sex."

Not surprisingly Anita Hill doesn't see a need to apologize. 

Virginia Thomas' apology request has not only raised forgotten testimony but has also focused attention on potential ethical issues for her husband as a Supreme Court Justice, e.g., claiming the health care law is unconstitutional. See the backpedaling. But make no mistake, she is not a Christine O'Donnell tea partier. 

It is important to note this from the New York Times: "A federal law requires justices to recuse themselves in a number of circumstances where real or perceived conflicts of interest could arise, including in cases where their spouses could have a financial interest. But the decision to step aside is up to each justice; there is no appeal from the nation’s highest court."

Why did Virginia Thomas raise the Anita Hill issue again?

Intel's Hillsboro expansion - if it were only the city of Portland's

Intel goes public with plans for Hillsboro expansion � Daily Journal of Commerce

Absent from the article are the statements by the politicians, like the governor, asserting their role in obtaining the expansion. Can one possibly assume that there was no state and county tax incentives or zero interest loans? Or is this project so dollar large that such that public incentives might be insignificant?

All skepticism aside - this project should bring Hillsboro and Washington County substantial financial benefit even after the construction is finished. 1000 new permanent jobs brings with it numerous indirect jobs. But see this touch of reality from a KGW story:

"University of Oregon economist Tim Duy (doo-ee) says that if the state had an announcement like that once a month for the next decade, that still wouldn't restore all the jobs lost in Oregon during the Great Recession." Oh my!

The news media, the Daily Journal is not alone, leave out things that seem important. E.g., the new hi-tech positions would seem not likely to be filled by locals, not even Oregon locals, so will these jobs be filled by out of state hiring? And, where will the individuals for the construction come from? More to the point how many Portlanders will have an opportunity for a job?

It would have been interesting to know more about the decision process in Intel's selection of Hillsboro for expansion when their Arizona location must have been in the picture. Were in fact Oregon state and local officials involved?

Let's hope that this is the trend: “We believe investing in America isn’t only the right thing to do,” Holt said. “It’s essential to building a workforce that sparks future innovation.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Canada commander admits sex attacks - Americas - Al Jazeera English

Canada commander admits sex attacks - Americas - Al Jazeera English:

"Officer in charge of largest air force base pleads guilty to two murders, two sex attacks and scores of burglaries."

Between the rock and . . . .

Military recruiters told to accept gay applicants - Yahoo! News

The government is apparently going to appeal a decision by a federal judge that essentially deleted the don't ask don't tell policy. Where will the new openly gay recruits be if the government wins their appeal?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Irresponsible journalism and assertion: Nazi sympathizer

The Nazi individuals responsible for the holocaust were the worst of humanity. It is impossible to reconcile what they did to people basically because they were perceived as not as good as themselves.

That image to the left is one that everyone should have in mind when they start making accusations. [See Nazi Concentration Camp Pictures.]

"The European Jews were the primary victims of the Holocaust. But Jews were not the only group singled out for persecution by Hitler’s Nazi regime. As many as one-half million Gypsies, at least 250,000 mentally or physically disabled persons, and more than three million Soviet prisoners-of-war also fell victim to Nazi genocide. Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, Social Democrats, Communists, partisans, trade unionists, Polish intelligentsia and other undesirables were also victims of the hate and aggression carried out by the Nazis." [The Holocaust Victims].

There is no more serious label one can affixed on another than that of having sympathies for the Nazis. Without demonstrable proof - responsible journalists and other individuals should not affix that label to anyone. It is defamation with the most devastating effect. 

Journalists in particular have a duty to not to make such assertions without proof. While the Oregonian is not alone - it is still the newspaper in Oregon. Sadly though it has become more of a blog aggregator without the obligation to the truth

Participating in WWII reenactments, collecting memorabilia, or putting up plaques does not rise to proof of Nazi sympathies. See Vicious attack by the Oregonian and Nazi sympathizer? Not likely.

Wrong concern re Jefferson High

The Portland Tribune: What about arts at Jefferson?

My, my, my. What about arts? Take a look at Jefferson High School's poor test results here and here.

Take a peek at the school's profile: Student-teacher ratio: 13:1; Teachers’ average years of experience: 12.1; Teachers with master’s degree: 67.7%.

This school ought to be doing much better, and the fact that it isn't signals that something significant is amiss. Once the basic - reading, writing & math - test scores become acceptable, the school and others might start to worry about the arts.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Employment negative net: lose 55 gain 50

We see that Silver Eagle Manufacturing will begin laying off 55 workers December 17th, just in time for the holidays. There is no doubt about the layoff, but the news of hiring of 50 by the solar company MEMC is not all that positive. Apparently the growth will take place over the next year, but sad state of affairs is that it is a net step backward in the employment picture.

I wonder whether the layoff is the result of the probable expiration of a 5 year military contract in 2004 that was to have added 25 - 75 jobs. [See Portland Business Journal.] I wonder if the company ever added the jobs? We will never know because follow up is just not done.

Where will the 55 laid off find new jobs and from where will the solar company hire its 50 employees?  The solar company is not an Oregon company but based in St. Peters, MO. In July it purchased Solaicx, Inc a Santa Clara, CA company that owned the Portland facility. Does Portland have 50 with the necessary skills sitting around to be hired?

Vicious attack by the Oregonian

An Oregonian's editorial is mean spirited and is unethical in its attempt to accuse and label a police officer as an anti-Semite and supporter of the holocaust. According to the Oregonian - the police officer is a Nazi sympathizer. By the deliberate choice of words - the Oregonian equates German soldiers to Nazis. It is fallacious argument: some German soldiers were Nazis, therefore all German soldiers are Nazis.

The Oregonian fails, by choice, to acknowledge that people like Charles Lindberg and Henry Ford were accused of being Nazi sympathizers. And they fail to recognize that many WWII German soldier are recognized for their military exploits, e.g., Erwin Rommel.

And they ignore that "[t]he Nazis were members of high society." [New York Times]. Many German firms with recognizable names used slave labor during WWII, e.g., Daimler-Benz. "The firm avidly supported Nazism and in return received arms contracts and tax breaks that enabled it to become one of the world's leading industrial concerns."

The Oregonian never gives its readers even a glimpse of what the plaques state, but are sure that they were "[l]ionizing these Nazi officers." The Oregonian repeats its use of "monuments" rather than plaques to give it the feeling of "veneration for mass murderers." One might note here that the Oregonian carefully avoids stating that the officer supports the holocaust by using "mass murderers," but its meaning is clear nevertheless.

Never mind the Oregonian has only mentioned two officers in an earlier post - neither were Nazis. Keep in mind that Nazi: "A member of the National Socialist German Workers' Party, founded in Germany in 1919 and brought to power in 1933 under Adolf Hitler." "Nazism: "The ideology and practice of the Nazis, especially the policy of racist nationalism, national expansion, and state control of the economy."

But for the Oregonian you are a Nazi if you participate in WWII enactments as a German soldier. There are many people who participate in these events as well as those that take the role of German soldiers in war gaming. Hobby shops are full of German military soldiers, vehicles, planes, etc. E.g., see Hobbylinc.com. 

But by the time one gets to the point in the editorial where the Oregonian begrudingly admits that Officer Kruger "[t]o be sure, Kruger has inspired great loyalty in his commanders; police chiefs have consistently promoted him" the calculated damage is done.

While the city police department has apparently followed the same logic as the Oregonian, it is wrong to make these accusations against anyone especially a police officer. It should not go unnoticed that the Oregonian isn't clamoring for police department documents. No need to when the conclusions appear to agree with the Oregonian's intrinsic bias.

It is this type of reasoning by the Oregonian determining that officer Kruger is a Nazi sympathizer that led to the support of Japanese Americans' internment during WWII. It is the same "thinking" that connects Muslims, even American born Muslims, with 9-11: the hijackers were American hating Muslims, therefore, all Muslims hate Americans.

The Oregonian's editorial is defamatory and not consistent with principles of journalism.

Show case of company wares - rescue Chilean miners

After the rescue was finished, I took a quick Google look for post coverage. It was amazing the credit various sites, representing a variety of interests other than Chilean, were taking for the rescue effort. Mostly it was Americans taking credit for even the most tenuous connection.

Ironic though that in 1973 Salvadore Allende, a democratically elected President of Chile was overthrown by a CIA backed military coup d’état. It was the notorious General Pinochet that established a military dictatorship until 1990. [Wikipedia].

"By the time of [Pinochet's] death on 10 December 2006, around 300 criminal charges were still pending against him in Chile for various human rights violations, tax evasion and embezzlement under his rule and afterwards. Pinochet was accused of having corruptly amassed a wealth of US$28 million or more while ruler of Chile." [Wikipedia].

"Pinochet's name will forever be linked to the Desaparecidos {forced disappearance}, the Caravan of Death {Chilean Army death squad}, and the institutionalized torture that took place in the Villa Grimaldi complex {buildings used for interrogation and torture}." [Wikipedia quoting Thor Halvorssen, President of Human Rights Foundation; items in {} added; links from Wikipedia.]

Americans through their government bear responsibility for the Pinochet dictatorship and its reign of kidnapping, murder and torture of Chileans. But Americans are disposed to ignore their and their government's role, except when things go right. On can be assured had the miners not been rescued - all would have been quite. 

Some of the links:

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Energy-efficient home - at what cost?

Energy-efficient home in the Wine Country

This is another 'passive house" success story. See my May 2010 post: Passive House. See too Passive House Arrives in North America: Could It Revolutionize the Way We Build?

This "success" came at a hefty price tag affordable only by those in a very small group - the quite wealthy. The home owner, a retired Wall Street Hedge Fund manager, expended $1.2 million for the renovation of a 2,400 sq. ft. home in Sonoma California.

I put "success" in quotes because there is little data that would suggest success except an expectation: "When [the home owner] starts paying electricity and gas bills - she moved in last month - they'll total about $10 a month."

Of course, the journalist did not provide comparative cost information on extant utilities bills, the number of people residing there, etc. From the article though - it can be inferred that the only occupants are the owner and her small dog. But clearly, $10 would be astoundingly low.

There will be a missed opportunity to assess the cost benefits of a passive house. Thus, the question of whether $1.2 mill investment is paid back by energy cost savings over the lifetime of the house will never be answered. And, it is not just the dollar savings to the home owner but the total savings even as to the carbon footprint.

The article mentioned that a "nonprofit Community Land Trust Association of West Marin completed a $220,000, 750-square-foot, one-bedroom home for low-income renters in Point Reyes Station." But again we are given no comparative data. Is there a cost benefit?

It seems clear though passive houses are only for a limited few.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sad state of journalism and politics

The most trusted journalist in America now is a comedian – media critic - RT

The Russia today article contained an interesting view by Rory O’Connor, a media critic, journalist and filmmaker, on journalism in US: "But I think that we have a big problem in this country when the most trusted news person in the country is a comedian named Jon Stewart. And I think it tells us a lot about our system when the comedians are more trusted than the journalists, and the journalists are functioning as comedians and clowns."

Partial comment by Mr. O'Connor on money and American political system: “Money has infected the entire American political system and our democracy is threatened by it.” {I]n order to be elected you need a lot of money to buy television and to buy all the media you need. So the politicians go and they ask corporations for money. The corporations give them money. Then the politician turns around and passes legislation on putting regulations that give even more money back to the corporations."

Who won? That question is the problem

Bill O'Reilly vs. Joy and Whoopi: Who won? - The Week

Who won - is that a or the story? I like The Week (it is not the Portland Willamette Week which I like too) but their headlines suck. They often convey misleading or worrisome information of little importance. And sometimes their article content is frivolous at best.

Frankly the same could be said about Huffington Post. While it has the liberal bent that I prefer - the stories seem to be more about gaining readership through writing found in England's tabloids.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Now that is funny

Illinois Candidate's Name Misspelled As 'Rich Whitey' On Electronic-Voting Machines | TPMDC (via Bojack)

“Save Our State!” says the Week

The Week has submitted its endorsement list for the upcoming November election. But, take a look at the individuals in the list irrespective of whether you can or would vote for any of them. How many of them do you believe identify with you on any basis e.g., politically or socially?

Are these people you might enjoy some conversation over a beer - with you paying? How many of them would you expect to sit down with you even over a cup of coffee and share a conversation? When and if they are elected will they seek out your views?

A substantial majority in this list are wealthy - significantly more so than most Portlanders or Oregonians. Are the wealthy the only ones capable of political leadership? Are they the only ones with ideas and solutions? Looking at the electoral process demands a yes answer.

Obama - taking the political expediency route

Obama considers fast appeal of gays-military order - Yahoo! News


These stories reflect another example of a political leader looking to re-election rather than to exert decisive leadership and fulfill campaign promises. See Obama's campaigning blitz: It's about 2012, too - Yahoo! News .

He was elected based mostly on those promises which included ending the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, yet he has wavered. From all outward appearances, he has insulated himself from the public and their concerns.

As to the issues of the "gays," it is clear that the populace is far more tolerant and supportive than the political leadership. See too the Economist's "Agnostic about gay marriage; Attitudes to gay marriage among religious groups in America."

Obama failed to capitalize on Obama mania to bring about the promised "change," now the supports wanes. Of course it is rather easy to give him leeway because the party leadership is comprised of out of touch politicians that consume their time too by constantly running for re-election. But, Obama's political naiveté is prominent and his leadership is strangely absent.

It seems as though the Democrats will get the re-election they deserve. It is being handed to the Republican Party on a silver platter.

It is not an either or situation

Ohio Attorney General Takes Strong Stand on Crisis - NYTimes.com

The Ohio Attorney General sues Wall Street firms to return "money to investors, pension funds, schools and cities. " “We see what Washington doesn’t: the houses lying vacant, the eyesore stripped for copper piping with mattresses out back.” "We bailed out irresponsible banks, but we forgot about everyone else.

[Update 10-13-10, Officials in 50 states launch foreclosure probe - Yahoo! News: "Officials in 50 states and the District of Columbia have launched a joint investigation into allegations that mortgage companies mishandled documents and broke laws in foreclosing on hundreds of thousands of homeowners."]

[Update10-14-10, Banks Ignored Signs of Trouble in Foreclosures - NYTimes.com: ". . . interviews with bank employees, executives and federal regulators suggest that this mess was years in the making and came as little surprise to industry insiders and government officials."

Critics argue that his action doesn't effect change and that it should be let to the federal regulators. It seems clear that many businesses see paying settlements as a cost of doing business. Maine's former state attorney Mr. Tierney: “Is state action as effective as a federal regulator going after these companies? Absolutely not.” “But when regulators are too worried about giving offense, there’s no reason an enterprising attorney general can’t go in there.

A sample of what the Ohio Attorney General obtained in settlements: "a $475 million Merrill Lynch settlement, $400 million from Marsh & McLennan and $725 million from the American International Group." Recently, he sued GMAC Mortgage because of the "filing fraudulent affidavits in hundreds of Ohio foreclosures."

See this BBC story for more on fraudulent foreclosures. It cries out for state action. "JPMorgan Chase and Ally GMAC Mortgage have suspended foreclosures in 23 states. At issue are claims that foreclosure documents were signed off without proper checks and people were wrongly evicted."

There is something warm and fuzzy about the state suing these companies.Will it effect change in corporate practices? Probably not - but that is where the feds ought to excel. But if the federal regulators are not getting money back for the states - states ought to act. They are not precluded.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Just when will it spill over - or has it already?

Sheriff says Mexican investigator was decapitated - Yahoo! News

"A Mexican police commander investigating the reported shooting of an American tourist on a border lake plagued by pirates has been decapitated and his head was found in a suitcase, a Texas sheriff says."


Falcon Lake Texas


See this travel alert by the Australian government. It would appear that the US states that border Mexico have not been directly affected by the violence occurring in the war between Mexico's government and Mexican drug czars. But what has it cost to fortify the local US police departments in those states? What effect has it had on the local areas in the US?



A nearly universal statement of political reality

Russia Today's story about Germany and the euro contained a statement that reflects reality of political structures, even democracies: "The political class is firmly behind the euro [insert your own item], so in this case it does not matter what the population is thinking.”"

Without a sense of humor

Dudley Says He "Was a Minority"; Black Lawmaker Disagrees | Willamette Week

It is difficult to see the point of this article in the Week. Mr. Dudley from all appearances made a humorous remark (receiving appropriate laughter), and the Week , maybe unintentionally, turned it into something bordering on racist comment. State Representative Frederick who took offense needs to take a long hard look at himself. He sees the world without shades - only black and white for him.

Mr. Dudley may not have ever suffered discrimination as Mr. Fredericks whines about but as a white rich guy who made it in life on basketball skills he is the target for a substantial majority of people. Very few people have anything good to say about the rich, me included, but he didn't become successful because he cheated, stolen, or otherwise behaved illegally, immorally or unethically.

The issue ought to be - is a candidate likely to provide leadership and espouses policies best for Oregon. Dudley sounds better and better.

Here is a couple of quotations Mr. Frederick ought to ponder.

A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done Dwight D. Eisenhower.


I think the next best thing to solving a problem is finding some humor in it. Frank A. Clark.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Religion and politics don't mix

Alliance With a Rabbi Has Risks and Rewards for Paladino - NYTimes.com

Politics ought to be about serving all - not some minority. The infusion of "religious" views from virtually every religion into the campaigns for candidates and ballot measures trade on prejudices and fears produced by those prejudices.

It would seem to that in most of the 'angry at Washington' campaigns there is strong anti-gay agenda just below the surface. In many cases it appears as nudge nudge wink wink. Mr. Paladino, candidate of New York governor, exercising his free speech has taken a different approach - while using epithets (yelling fire in crowded theater) to demonstrate what can be best described as anti-gay hateful speech and attitude - he wants you to believe that he would protect the rights of gays. He says he would hire gays - now would anyone want to work for him?

Mr. Paladino seeks out the endorsement of a religious group that do not represent the religion as a whole but only a minority part. Of course, his Catholic background seems to reinforce his vile anti-gay views. Fortunately, the other candidate Mr. Cuomo is not so influenced.

While New York Archbishop Dolan reminded the NY Times "that the church’s teachings that all human persons are to be treated with respect,” it appears he didn't convey that message to Mr. Paladino in their conversation. Needless to say the church doesn't believe gays have a chance to reach heaven.

There is a certain irony in this Jewish - Catholic candidate union against a minority, i.e., gays. As in the case of  Jews during WWII - there is ample evidence that the Catholic Church stayed silent while Jews were persecuted. Ironic too in that the Catholic Church has its share of gay clergy and lay people.

One has to wonder why in a country that has the separation of church and state as one of its pillars of foundation, its leaders are strangely quite in what seems to be a growing trend in homophobia. While politics may stifle political outrage - don't want to offend minority voters - I have notice too that local Portland media have been very quite.

However, the recent attack in New York, Bronx, on those perceived as gay has clearly raised an outcry from political leadership, but one has to wonder why it should take such depravity for them to voice their outrage?

Partisan politics ruining the country

Nobel-winning economist: Still unqualified for the Federal Reserve? - The Week

"But Republicans — particularly Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) — have been blocking Diamond's nomination on the grounds that he doesn't have enough experience."

Russian military transparency - yes Russia

Russia’s Defense Ministry reveals its costly secrets - RT:

It is the demand of modern society,” independent military analyst Sergey Lebedev told RT. “Society needs an explanation. And the government is ready to explain to people on what the money is spent.”"

Someday

"The antigovernment-types perpetually cry less, less, less. The loudest liberals cry more, more, more. Someday there will be a political movement that is willing to make choices, that is willing to say “this but not that.”

Op-Ed Columnist - The Paralysis of the State - NYTimes.com

Monday, October 11, 2010

How the rich stay that way

Jack Bog's Blog had the headline "More tax troubles for Dudley." but it is really about how the better-off, much better, monetarily benefit even when making a charitable donation. The story originated in the Lake Oswego Buzz.

"The Dudley campaign produced an appraisal backing up Dudley's claimed deduction of $250 per bag of garbage. The appraisal, which Ginsberg [campaign manager] claimed was "conservative," computed the value of the refuse by valuing the amount of time that Dudley family members took to produce it. The appraiser estimated that each bag consumed 25 hours of family time, and that the time was worth $10 per hour."

Two things from this article give an insight into Dudley's values. The first is the manner in the giving. The "donation" benefited Mr. Dudley, and the charitable benefit is merely incidental. Arguably, the rich want to be paid to give to charity. And the second is that apparently he believes that the "living wage" is too high. 

"When asked whether the appraisal signaled that Dudley thought $10 an hour was a living wage, Ginsberg responded, "He thinks it's high, but he won't do anything to lower it."" Great sentiments coming from a Dudley representative. It is unlikely Dudley has any knowledge in the least concerning a living wage. 

See too Mr. Dudley's other charitable donation making the news. From Jack Bog's Blog: How could Dudley's house have been worth $350,000?  And, from the Oregonian:  "Republican Chris Dudley took a $350,000 tax deduction for allowing Lake Oswego firefighters to burn down a house he owned -- and planned to demolish . . . .

I will let you read Jack's explanation why, assuming that the tax strategy itself was valid, the building was not worth $350k. Jack, a tax lawyer, essentially notes that Mr. Dudley ducked the IRS bullet.

Just more proof that elections are often a Hobson's choice. Maybe not technically, after all one can vote for him or vote for Kitzhaber - but while the packaging may be different the content is still the same - nothing of substance. It is another box on the ballot that doesn't need to be marked.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Recession is over - really?

BBC News - US sees 95,000 jobs lost in September

New York Times: ". . . hiring by businesses has slowed while government jobs are disappearing at a record pace." "[And] over all, the economy lost 95,000 nonfarm jobs in September, the result of a 159,000 decline in government jobs at all levels. Local governments in particular cut workers at the fastest rate in almost 30 years."

"President Obama has repeatedly called for additional measures like infrastructure projects and tax incentives, which have been met with opposition from Republicans over deficit concerns." [Times] Therein lies the problem. It is a federal problem, state budgets can't cope. [See earlier post.]

Nazi sympathizer? Not likely.

A slanted and biased Oregonian article attempting without one shred of evidence to label a Portland police officer as a Nazi sympathizer. Maybe though ignorance (not likely) the author doesn't realize the import of that allegation. While I found it interesting that an Internet search shows that the term is not well defined. But a  common meaning:

"A nazi (sic) sympathizer is someone who agrees with the belief the nazi party in germany (sic) during WWII were spouting about the idea of a "master" race... in their case they believe that the aryan (sic) race was this group. But further definitions add more substance." [Yahoo Answers]

Nazi: "A member of the National Socialist German Workers' Party, founded in Germany in 1919 and brought to power in 1933 under Adolf Hitler."  "Nazism: "The ideology and practice of the Nazis, especially the policy of racist nationalism, national expansion, and state control of the economy."

And Nazi sympathizer is more often defined in terms of the allegations made against those who were thought to have been secret supporters for Germany in the WWII era. E.g., Charles Lindberg and Henry Ford were accused of being Nazi sympathizers.

What did the police officer Kruger do in 2001 that deserves to be labeled as a Nazi sympathizer? He put up five "memorial" plaques commemorating five German soldiers' exploits during WWII. He also took them them down later during the federal litigation [see below] and gave them to the city district attorney.

Apparently for this author the following demonstrates Mr. Kruger's Nazi sympathies: "Kruger, in court records during that litigation, acknowledged he owns Nazi memorabilia and has worn German uniforms to World War II re-enactments sponsored by the Northwest Historical Association. But Kruger denied he espouses any views of the Nazi party."

The "court records" are from federal litigation, 2002 - 2005, involving claims of excessive force by Officer Kruger during an anti-war protests. Two of three suits were settled for $300,000 by the city and a third thrown out. Of course a settlement is the same as a conviction for the anti-police brigade.

One wonders what the charges would have been if Mr. Kruger had participated in Civil War re-enactments.Would he or anyone participating as a Confederate soldier be accused of racism or being pro slavery? Yeah - I forgot - it is Portland the conscience of the world.

But the crux of the Oregonian's story is the ""memorial plaques" of five Nazi soldiers as a shrine to a tree on the east side of Rocky Butte Park sometime between 1999 and 2001. . . ." The author states that "Kruger was a Portland officer at the time, but was not on duty when he erected the plaques. Kruger called the memorial "Ehrenbaum" or "Honor Tree.""

It isn't clear that connection of Ehrenbaum to an honor tree. While a memorial is "something serving as a remembrance," the author does her best to make it sound like a "shrine" or high respect for Nazi ideology rather than a "memorial" to the military exploits of  five German soldiers.

We are told two of the five soldiers that were named on the plaque but not what event or events might have been depicted. One, Michael Wittman, was connected to the Waffen SS, but the author chose to apply the broad stoke of the Nazi brush rather than one readily available on line that depicts his military exploits.

Harald von Hirschfeld was the other one mentioned and has been connected by the author's link to war crimes, i.e., German massacre of the Acqui Division of the Italian army. It would appear that the 98th Gebirgsjäger Regiment, a part of the battlegroup commanded by Hirschfeld, was responsible for the massacre. But Major Hirschfeld was never tried for any role in that event. Interesting - the author's link to the war crime makes no mention of Hirschfeld.

From the material available, the two German soldiers mentioned had in common the receipt of the "Knights Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves [recognizing] extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership." [See Wikipedia]. Erwin Rommel was also a recipient of the Knights Cross.

However, it is not too difficult to imagine that someone in Portland might be offended by the plaques. And it seems that Comdr. Famous believes that it is enough that the plaques "could alarm a member of the public familiar with these historical events."

It would have been better had the Oregonian included images or some rendition of the plaques' content. But I would agree that at least from the paucity of information contained in the Oregonian - Officer Kruger should have not put the plaques up in the first place. But that was nearly ten years ago and it hardly seems like it is or even ought to be an issue leading to discipline.

And, certainly Mr. Kruger's 2001 conduct does not amount to being a Nazi sympathizer. But the Oregonian doesn't mind tar and feathering the police.