Mossbacks mental closet was a little more cluttered than I thought: Its turned into Zenos spring-cleaning project. Last week, I reached the halfway point; heres the first half of the next half:
Lafayette, You Suck
Does it strike anyone else as odd that while were trashing the French, were launching the first war during which our troopsfrom Gen. Tommy Franks on downare wearing berets? The U.S. military style has long been influenced by French and German fashion. In the Civil War, we fielded officers in kepis and Zouave uniforms based on French Algerian military attire. In the late 19th century, we tried Prussian-style spiked helmets; and todays combat headgear is similar to the German helmets of World War II. By embracing the beret and the German helmet, were wrapping our fighting forces in the garb of two expansionist colonial empires. What could we be thinking?
Meanwhile, French fries have been tossed from the dining rooms of Congress. But why not complete the cultural cleansing? Surely well soon be hearing about the crusade of superpatriots and their lobbyist pals to remove chandeliers, entrepreneurs, foi gras, caviar, and champagne from our nations capital.
The Law Isnt an Ass After All
I think Thurston County Superior Court Judge Gary Tabor was right to toss the Eyman is a horses ass initiative last week because, however amusing, we the people dont have the right to stigmatize and otherwise tar and feather folks via the ballot box. Its for laws, not smear campaigns. But the dumbest thing about the initiative is that if it actually got on the ballot, it would almost certainly lose, thereby forever giving Tim Eyman documentary proof that he was in fact not a horses ass. Why would it lose? Because Eymans ballot initiatives arehello!incredibly popular and most have won by large margins. If Eymans an ass, so are the majority of voters, and they arent going to repudiate their judgment just to please some sore-loser Seattle liberals.
Part of the problem with education reform is that most conservatives and liberals arent willing to admit the truth: The public education system in this country is a disaster, designed to turn out a nation of drones who will do the bidding of the corporate masters. And thats when its successful. For the most part, its a cross between juvenile prison and nanny state day care, a dead zone where parents can dump the kids while they work the two or three jobs necessary to survive; where powerful psychotropic drugs (like Ritalin) are routinely administered to chemically straightjacket the frisky; and where everyone is focused on raising test scoreseven if it means cheatingto keep their jobs and their funding. No matter that testing doesnt teach squat.
Working within our screwed-up system, I am for teacher raises and smaller class sizes, and I believe uniform testing should be junked. I also think one of the most important reforms is to increase choice within the public system and to promote educational experimentation, variety, entrepreneurship, vision, and boldness. Thus, I applaud the state Senates passage of a modest charter-schools bill last week. This is so long past due its pathetic. The Olympia Democrats who have blocked charter schools over the years have done Washington students and parents a shameful disservice. Lets hope the charter bill sails through the House.
Not Sleeping in Seattle
The resignation of monorail board member Nick Hanauer, who switched his voter registration from his home in Shorelines the Highlands to a Seattle condo in order to qualify for service on the board, is a good thing: That kind of fiddle is exactly the opposite of what the Seattle Popular Monorail Authority is supposed to stand for. That said, its too bad he cant serve. His resignation points up a flaw: The monorail is too parochial. Technically, a resident of the Highlands isnt a Seattleite, even though its right on the citys northern border. But the real Seattle sprawls well beyond the city limits. Tens of thousands of peopleme includedcommute into town each day and spend most of our waking hours here; many will ride (and finance) the monorail. The monorail ought to be allowed to develop more regionally and draw on talent for its board from anywhere in Greater Seattle. Who cares where board members sleep if their hearts are in the right place?
Did you see that David Duke, the former Louisiana state legislator and onetime presidential Kandidate from the Ku Klux Klan, is heading to jail April 15 (oh, irony) for cheating the IRS and allegedly bilking his followers out of tens of thousands of dollars? David Duke, cheating his white-supremacist supporters out of their money: Doesnt that qualify as a victimless crime?
Blethen in Disguise
The transformation of Seattle Times publisher Frank Blethen from local monopolist into working-class hero is notable. Blethen was once a fierce competitor determined to dominate the Seattle market, expand his company (hes the out-of-town chain owner in Maine, where the company owns three dailies), and rid his company of employees who dared to rebel on his newspaper plantation during the newspaper strike of 2000-2001. Now hes the poster boy for local ownership. His company is a self-proclaimed rare and valuable gift to Seattle. And he is applauded by local lefties for opposing loosening the FCCs TV-newspaper cross-ownership rules. Hes positioned himself as the money-losing underdog in his joint-operating-agreement battle with Hearst, the company that owns the competing paper that Blethen himself essentially runsand is perhaps running into the ground. Blethens moral authority for all this hangs by the thread of a single percentage of voting stock in his company not owned by Knight Ridder. What is the Chinook word for chutzpah?