Archive for July, 2006

Budget Proposal to the Schools

July 31, 2006

As we begin to think about the ’07-’08 budget for our schools (with anticipated $4-$5 million shortfall again), let’s start thinking about a better strategy.

This year’s budget process went something like this, as far as I can see. The administration proposes a budget to a group of concerned citizens. Unable to navigate the mass of facts and figures, they vote to approve it. On it goes to the school board, where the community rails against it. After making token changes to the budget, the superintendent proposes a revised version, reassuring the community that everything has been done to address their concerns. The school board, unable to see any way to modify the budget, votes to approve it. After all, sending it back for a rewrite would probably take as long as it took to get the original put together in the first place, and the administration would be just as responsive to this request as they were to the last.

Instead, the school board should write the budget. Here’s how they can manage that complex task without spending 80 hours a week for the next year in board meetings.

First, they tell the administration what they want: Options. That is, present each program individually, with information on performance, cost, and benefit. Then, through in a bunch of options. Which programs can we cancel, expand, or continue to fund, and what would the effect be?

The board then takes this information home, which is really parts of a complicated system that can be freely modified. Then they bring back their proposals on how the programs should be modified. Each will propose cutting, expanding, or adding programs. Each will have to balance an expansion or addition with a cut. And if a proposal doesn’t, well, it will be obvious right away.

The board then decides on policy. Which programs do we cut, expand, or adopt? After this step, the administration takes the plan, writes it down, and returns it to the board for final approval.

The beauty of this plan is that the community can really get involved in the budget process. Each cut they want to keep must be offset by taking money from some other program. Angry citizens can be challenged: “Well, you don’t want to lose X. Very well, but show me, in this budget, where you will get the money to fund X? We are not arguing whether or not X is good. I think everyone will agree that X (and everything else) is good. We are arguing whether X is better or worse than Y. You are telling us that X is better than something we have in the budget right now. Well, which item is it better than?”

After all, that is what budgetting is about. It is not trying to decide what we should do. It is trying to decide what we shall not do, in order to make room for the few things we can do. In other words, a budget lists, out of all the possibilities, what will actually be done.

Our homes are run on the same principal. We all want an indoor swimming pool, but we value food, clothing, and our car much more than that. And so we write budgets out that don’t include a line-item for swimming pools.

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Mr. Pirkle’s Challenge

July 31, 2006

Mr. Pirkle challenged his opponents: Tell him why, logically, we should not require that parents sign every test their student takes after it is graded?

He has thrown down the glove, and has expressed his dissatisfaction with the level of discourse his opponents have given. You can’t make logical conclusions based on logical fallacies.

The tactic Mr. Pirkle points out is misdirection. When faced with the challenge of educating children, and when observed that the teachers simply aren’t performing well, the teachers point their fingers at the home. That is, they have shifted the conversation from, “How can we make our schools the best?” to “How can we fix the homes of our students?” Obviously, we can’t do much of anything to fix the homes. And so, the teachers reason, we can’t do anything to fix the classrooms.

This tactic is like the Chewbacca defense of South Park fame. It is simply misdirection. What relation do the homes of the community have on what kind of schools we run? Very little, in fact. We can build a great school that services the poorest and most disadvantaged children in the world, or we can build a terrible school that services children with every advantage possible. Being in America, our situation, in absolute terms, relates more like the latter than the former.

I would like to see an honest attempt to wrestle logically with Mr. Pirkle rather than use misdirection and ad hominem attacks to discredit him. Of course, I won’t be holding my breath. I already know that in the field of logical sparring, he is holding superior ground.

Don’t Forget the Courts

July 31, 2006

As this year’s political contests heat up, let’s not forget the courts as we choose whom to vote for.

Washington State is one of those states where the judges are democratically elected. That means, when it comes to who is sitting on the bench, the people have the final say.

This brings with it tremendous freedom. We are not held hostage by a government that appoints justices to further their grip on power. We have, in effect, a veto over the entire government. If we don’t like how justice is being administered, how our state constitution is being interpreted, or our laws are being upheld or not, then we can elect our own justices who will do what the people want in the courts.

However, it also means it is yet another election we have to pay attention to and make the right decision. Already, we have a ballot that takes two legal pages just to list the races and candidates. Add to that write-in, and the average voter probably feels overwhelmed. Indeed, many ballots are turned in with many races unmarked.

But remember, if we choose not to vote, we are really letting someone else vote for us. If we are one of those average law-abiding, peace-loving Americans, then that means one less average American voter making decisions on which direction our state should go. And we are left hollering at our TV or radio for the rest of the year.

The judge races are potentially sneaky. If a justice gets 50% of the vote in the primaries, they are automatically elected for all practical purposes. This is because theirs is the only name to appear on the fall ballot, and that means that by default, they will pick up a lot of votes from unconscious voters.

If you want to have your voice heard in the courts, then you have to vote in the primaries for the judge positions. But where can you go for information on who is a good candidate and who is not?

With most political races, we have one valuable clue—party affiliation. That is, we may not know a candidate, but we know their party and trust the active party member’s decision to nominate that candidate. And so we end up voting for our favorite party in the obscure races. With judge elections, we have no party identifiers. We are effectively blind in that regard.

And normally the parties don’t endorse a candidate for judge. You won’t find the Republican Party, for instance, endorsing one judge over another. That’s just bad policy, see. People really don’t want political judges. I myself am a very political man, and I would hate to see a political hack as a judge, even if he was a conservative Reagan Republican. I would much rather have someone who would be fair and just in all decisions, even if it means their decision hurts their political movement.

So don’t count on your favorite party choosing your candidate for you. In fact, if your party does endorse a particular candidate, be wary: they could be a political hack intent on wielding the power of the judiciary injustly.

So how should you choose? I use this simple rule of thumb. Pick a few controversial cases, ones where the decision was split 5-4. Ignore the cases with a lone dissenter or unanimous vote. These cases rarely have any kind of controversy or dispute.

Look at these cases and ask yourself, honestly, which way you would have that decision made. Don’t ask which way you wish the decision to come out based on your political preferences. Ask, according to state law, the constitution, and everything else, which was the correct decision? In other words, pretend you were wearing the black robes and everyone were asking you what is the right answer.

The next task is simple: Did the incumbent justice make the same decisions? Looking at the big picture, that is, several key split decisions and not just a few, see how they lined up with your feeling on which was the right decision. If they are batting 1000, then there is no reason to replace them. Vote incumbent. If they are batting less than 1000, then ask if the challenger would make better decisions than the incumbent. If so, then you should vote for the challenger.

Again, unless you really, really trust the judgment of your favorite political party of PAC, then don’t trust their choice for judge. It’s important we get people who make decisions blindly in the name of justice, rather than favorably to their favorite political cause.

What a democrat majority can do to Washington State

July 28, 2006

I’m watching Chicago with wonder. Apparently, they want to single out large stores and enforce an overpaid minimum wage.

Whatever happened to “land of the free”? Apparently, you aren’t free to work for less than whatever the government says you can work for.

Minimum wages hurt the poor, uneducated, and unexperienced workers. It’s a simple matter. Why would I hire someone who is uneducated and unexperienced for a ridiculous wage? It is easier to find some machine or some other way to provide that service. Or, if it cannot be found, just don’t do the business at all.

Let me explain. The only reason people start companies in this country is to make money. Why else would they sacrifice time, money, and effort to do so?

Where do they make money? From giving out less than what they take in. If you made a law that made it impossible to operate a business profitably, then there would be no business done, or it would be done for a higher price.

Common sense economics is not the democratic party’s forte. They work on misinformation and misinformation. If they were really concerned about a “living wage”, then they would lower taxes. With lower taxes, the companies could afford to hire more people at higher wages and still turn a profit. Or, the companies would offer goods and services at a lower price. It all ends up making the average worker richer. On the one hand, they are in more demand and they get paid more. On the other, they find the marketplace priced a little lower.

This is why we need Republicans leading our local community. They understand the heart of the issue. They know that without businesses making jobs and providing goods and services, nothing will get done and we’ll be in a far worse condition than we are in now.

While UN, EU Falters, USA Leads

July 28, 2006

If you’re watching the world-wide view of the conflict in Israel right now, you have probably already noticed a few things.

First, the UN has exposed itself as not only totally unable to complete their mission, but to actually favor the terrorists and fascists. When the leader of the UN, Kofi Annan, comes out and accuses the IDF of attacking UN forces, while ignoring the actual attacks by Hezbollah on UN forces, and refusing to withdraw the UN from areas where Hezbollah is using to attack Israeli civilians, it is a sign that he is no longer a friend of peace. The UN has chosen a side in this conflict. It is not Israel’s side.

EU, Russia, and other proponents of an immediate cease-fire have been shown to be totally unable to put their words to action. A lot of talk, yes. But to what effect? They are now officially a yapping chihuahua.

Meanwhile, Canada, the USA, and Australia have decided to take the hard road. They have said publically they support Israel, and have been using their power to do so. Israel is still fighting. The USA is now the only leader left in the world.

We may not be popular, but leaders don’t have to be popular to lead. We may not be loved, but leaders don’t have to be loved to lead. We may not be trusted, but leaders do not have to be trusted to lead.

We are effective while everyone else is unable to enact their words.

We are the only leaders left.

Give Peace a Chance

July 28, 2006

I’m hearing the left whine about how we haven’t given peace a chance. You know what, they’re right.

Why don’t we try to clear out all the terrorists from the Middle East and give the people who want to actually try out this peace thing a chance?

The Left is Sick

July 21, 2006

I hear our fine Representative Smith has a hard time standing up for the USA and against terrorists. (Votes here and here.)

What is even sicker is that members of his party are happy to see a soldier’s family murdered in Kirkland Washington. (link) I won’t bother quoting what was found by this blogger. Just let me tell you that when you accuse American soldiers of murdering babies, you had better have real evidence, because these kinds of accusations open up our soldiers to these kinds of attacks.

I have an open challenge to the left. Find ONE army, throughout the history of mankind, just ONE, that, when faced with a real war, behaved so extraordinarily professional as today’s US military.  Go ahead and even use US military history. And go ahead and use contemporary armies. I strongly doubt that the US military has anyone to look up to but themselves. I seriously doubt there is an army as professional as our own.

Meanwhile, as Israel is fighting a desperate battle against Hamas and Hezbollah (both who want nothing but to see Israel annihilated), our government, along with many others, has vowed to stay out of the way. Good for us. The leftis governments, including the recently elected communists in Spain, have sided with the terrorists. Even Arab nations are coming out in support of Israel’s right to self-defense!

Before I share the punchline, let me remind our readers that over 1.5 million Japanese soldiers were killed by American forces, while we didn’t suffer nearly that many. That’s 1.5 million young Japanese men that are dead. We also unleashed the most indiscriminate and devastating attack in the history of mankind. Do we run around complaining about the US’s disproportionate response? Heck no. It was justified. We were at war. The point of war is to break the enemy until they can’t fight anymore. If that includes fighting until no one is left standing, so be it.

The left has suddenly determined that in warfare, you can’t do too much damage. That is, if you’re superior militarily, you have to fight with one arm behind your back or something so you don’t kill more people than they’ve killed of you. It’s not fair that Israel has invested billions of dollars and drafted their entire male population to build up their army for self-defense. This is the “disproportionate response” line. It’s the same thinking that says the minority party is entitled to power of some sort by virtue of being in the minority.

But when you cut to the chase, you see leftists taking sides with Hamas and Hezbollah, wondering why they are being attacked and why so many civilians are dying. At the same time, they wonder why somebody doesn’t go in there and stop the fight, as if anybody could do so righteously. (Despite France’s offer to stop Israel, I doubt there is anyone besides the US that could stop them. Even if we tried, we would not win easily.)

It is because the left is sick, mentally and morally. They have lost all bearing on reality. I shall attempt to bring sanity to this argument.

Bottom line: The terrorists (Hezbollah and Hamas) PURPOSEFULLY hide among the civilians. The terrorists PURPOSEFULLY are trying to annihilate Israel by the most evil methods invented in the history of mankind. Lebanon is powerless to stop them. If Israel wants peace, it has to come at the total annihilation of Hamas and Hezbollah. There is NO OTHER WAY.

It is unfortunate that Lebanon is the staging grounds for Hezbollah. But it is not Lebanon’s fault, not Israel’s fault, that Hezbollah chose to invade that country. It is Hezbollah’s fault. Now that Israel is in Lebanon kicking some serious butt, they cannot be held accountable for even ONE civilian casualty.

All Hezbollah has to do is abandon the civilian areas. All they have to do is put on a uniform. All the have to do is drive away the children and women from their strategic bunkers and the civilians deaths will stop. As long as Hezbollah does none of these things, those dying children and women are laid to rest on the shoulders of Hezbollah. It doesn’t help that Hezbollah is actually holding civilians hostage and refusing to allow them to flee.

But somehow, the Left reasons, this is all Israel’s fault. Somehow, some way, dontchaknowit.  The left is sick, sick, sick.

The Left is Sick

July 21, 2006

I hear our fine Representative Smith has a hard time standing up for the USA and against terrorists. (Votes here and here.)

What is even sicker is that members of his party are happy to see a soldier’s family murdered in Kirkland Washington. (link) I won’t bother quoting what was found by this blogger. Just let me tell you that when you accuse American soldiers of murdering babies, you had better have real evidence, because these kinds of accusations open up our soldiers to these kinds of attacks.

I have an open challenge to the left. Find ONE army, throughout the history of mankind, just ONE, that, when faced with a real war, behaved so extraordinarily professional as today’s US military.  Go ahead and even use US military history. And go ahead and use contemporary armies. I strongly doubt that the US military has anyone to look up to but themselves. I seriously doubt there is an army as professional as our own.

Meanwhile, as Israel is fighting a desperate battle against Hamas and Hezbollah (both who want nothing but to see Israel annihilated), our government, along with many others, has vowed to stay out of the way. Good for us. The leftis governments, including the recently elected communists in Spain, have sided with the terrorists. Even Arab nations are coming out in support of Israel’s right to self-defense!

Before I share the punchline, let me remind our readers that over 1.5 million Japanese soldiers were killed by American forces, while we didn’t suffer nearly that many. That’s 1.5 million young Japanese men that are dead. We also unleashed the most indiscriminate and devastating attack in the history of mankind. Do we run around complaining about the US’s disproportionate response? Heck no. It was justified. We were at war. The point of war is to break the enemy until they can’t fight anymore. If that includes fighting until no one is left standing, so be it.

The left has suddenly determined that in warfare, you can’t do too much damage. That is, if you’re superior militarily, you have to fight with one arm behind your back or something so you don’t kill more people than they’ve killed of you. It’s not fair that Israel has invested billions of dollars and drafted their entire male population to build up their army for self-defense. This is the “disproportionate response” line. It’s the same thinking that says the minority party is entitled to power of some sort by virtue of being in the minority.

But when you cut to the chase, you see leftists taking sides with Hamas and Hezbollah, wondering why they are being attacked and why so many civilians are dying. At the same time, they wonder why somebody doesn’t go in there and stop the fight, as if anybody could do so righteously. (Despite France’s offer to stop Israel, I doubt there is anyone besides the US that could stop them. Even if we tried, we would not win easily.)

It is because the left is sick, mentally and morally. They have lost all bearing on reality. I shall attempt to bring sanity to this argument.

Bottom line: The terrorists (Hezbollah and Hamas) PURPOSEFULLY hide among the civilians. The terrorists PURPOSEFULLY are trying to annihilate Israel by the most evil methods invented in the history of mankind. Lebanon is powerless to stop them. If Israel wants peace, it has to come at the total annihilation of Hamas and Hezbollah. There is NO OTHER WAY.

It is unfortunate that Lebanon is the staging grounds for Hezbollah. But it is not Lebanon’s fault, not Israel’s fault, that Hezbollah chose to invade that country. It is Hezbollah’s fault. Now that Israel is in Lebanon kicking some serious butt, they cannot be held accountable for even ONE civilian casualty.

All Hezbollah has to do is abandon the civilian areas. All they have to do is put on a uniform. All the have to do is drive away the children and women from their strategic bunkers and the civilians deaths will stop. As long as Hezbollah does none of these things, those dying children and women are laid to rest on the shoulders of Hezbollah. It doesn’t help that Hezbollah is actually holding civilians hostage and refusing to allow them to flee.

But somehow, the Left reasons, this is all Israel’s fault. Somehow, some way, dontchaknowit.  The left is sick, sick, sick.

Which Side Are YOU On?

July 18, 2006

I have to ask: Who are you cheering for?

Do you cheer for Israeli soldiers, fighting to stop the endless rocket attacks, suicide bombers, and tyrannical threats?

Or do you cheer for Muslims who hide behind children, murder women and children, strap bombs to retarded kids, all in the name of worshipping a God?

And if you are cheering for one side over another, why?

Dan Rather: What you Need to Know About Global Warming

July 18, 2006

I watched on Sunday evening the Discovery channel’s presentation of Dan Rather on Global Warming. The ads were interesting. It made it sound like you would get some real, hard facts and evidence, or at least an interesting debate.

In the end, there was neither.

The scientists asked to participate were uniformly behind global warming. In fact, even though Dan Rather said a “majority” of scientists believe in Global Warming, he didn’t invite a single one of the minority opinion to voice their concerns.

I had a chance to listen closely to the arguments made. I saw past the melodrama and exaggerations and tried to feel for the actual facts they cited.

They did mention that water and other common chemicals were contributors to the greenhouse effect. They did admit that without any greenhouse gases we would be living on a giant iceball. So greenhouse gasses aren’t bad. At least they were able to share that bit of truth. But beyond that, there wasn’t much else they cited as fact.

They mentioned that glaciers are melting across the world. (Interestingly, they didn’t mention Europe, where glaciers are growing.) Of course, living next door to a mountain covered with glaciers, I am not frightened by melting glaciers. That’s what they do in the summer. They melt.

I am not even worried that glaciers are getting smaller. I understand that retreating glaciers leave fertile soil behind. That’s why Washington State is so fertile compared to, say, Arizona. (Yes, rainfall has an effect, although in both Eastern Washington and Arizona irrigation is the major source of water.)

They tried to claim that a giant chunk of ice breaking off of Antarctica was caused by global warming. Doubtful. Glaciers move, slowly of course, but the move and eventually break off into icebergs or melt. That’s what they do.

They tried to claim that the melting polar icecaps would cause the sealevels to rise. Yes, this is probably true. However, they didn’t mention how HIGH the sea levels would rise. In the pictures, though, they showed New York buried under hundreds and hundreds of feet of water. Sorry, you lose. Melting ice caps wouldn’t cause nearly that much water.

They presented an island in the Pacific that floods every year due to high tides. They claimed that the flooding was getting worse and occurring more frequently during the year. They failed to explain why, however. At least they didn’t claim it was global warming (although they certainly wanted us to believe so.) There are many reasons why an island can “sink” beneath the ocean. It happens all the time. One of those reasons is that the island can literally get shorter. Mountains and islands go up and down due to activity under the ground.

They claimed that global warming could destroy the Amazon rainforest. I was actually surprised by this claim. A researcher discovered that drought had NO effect on the jungle there. Apparently, the roots of the trees extended much further than they originally thought. Global warming has had 0 effect on the rain forest, and will probably have zero effect, at least according to what I heard. But they claimed it would turn the Amazon into a giant desert. I know that the Sahara desert used to be a jungle. As the earth changes, the rainfall patterns change. What was once a desert becomes a jungle and jungle becomes desert.

They tried to make me feel sympathetic for the polar bears. Apparently thy are counting about 15% less bears since they started counting. This is probably because the ice is melting faster and so they can’t get enough food in the spring. It could also be because the scientists are chasing the polar bears halfway around the arctic to shoot them with tranquilizers. Who knows? Regardless, what good are polar bears to me? If you wanted to save them, you would find a good use for their fur or meat. We know that cows will never go extinct, as long as we drink milk and eat steak. Perhaps the same could work for the polar bears. (Besides, who wants a polar bear in your backyard?)

They tried to claim that Global Warming causes famine and population displacement and wars. Hey, as if that’s a completely new phenomena. Why don’t people learn to irrigate or live where they can grow food? And what about Global Warming would cause wars? As near as I can tell it if greediness and evil that causes wars.

They tried to claim that hurricanes are caused by global warming. Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans because of Global Warming. Apparently, the broken levies had nothing to do with it. President Bush, call the White House. Of course, they failed to mention that big hurricane bearing down on Florida earlier this year that was snuffed out by a blast of (get this) warm, dry air. So maybe Global Warming is a nice guy after all? And they also failed to mention that with the polar ice caps melted, there would be no cold air to make hurricanes in the first place.

They brought on the scientist with the fancy computer that can actually predict the weather. Well, not exactly, they admit. But they got some things right, so it must all be right, right? Since the scientist believes in global warming, it must be true, right? I found this argument to be the weakest of all. It went something like this. Computers are really cool and fancy thingamajigs. This scientist programmed a computer to predict the weather. It didn’t work. But it predicts global warming. So it must be true, right?

I forced myself to watch the last bit of the show, where they tried to add up how much carbon dioxide the typical family emits. They didn’t count how much carbon dioxide Dan Rather emitted in making the film, nor how much carbon dioxide is emitted by scientists breathing hellfire and damnation about Global Warming. They summed up all the carbon dioxide and showed it as a big black cloud over the city. At about this point I had to laugh. They didn’t count the carbon dioxide consumed by any of the plants or grass or fields used to grow food for that city. They focused solely on production. It seemed like they were suggesting we stop doing everything we normally do because it produces carbon dioxide. This was simply laughable.

I could no longer bear it after that point. What could have been informative and insightful was merely a propaganda piece for the communist party. America is evil, so throw away your materialism and join the commune where we worry about things we can do nothing about and only think the worst is going to happen.

As for me, I refuse to drink the KoolAid. If global warming is real, I will listen to the scientific research. I will criticize what I think they did wrong. I will propose counter-arguments. I will say things like, “correlation does not imply causation” and wag my finger when the scientists propose policy rather than sticking to facts and research. I will mock you when you say, “I believe, so it must be true.” I am, after all, a real scientist. I don’t drink KoolAid until it has been proven that it is the only thing there is to drink.