Sunday, June 14, 2009

Nickels Follies - 06/14/09 Update

  • Greg Nickels: Giving toughness a bad name.

  • Turns SDOT into a back-biting mess with only 8 years of his quality leadership skills.

  • Apparently a bit of well-known civic lore I missed out on till now - Greg Nickels, college drop-out.

  • In a sad failure we only report now on, the idiocy of Nickels "Car Free Days" obstructing access to neighborhoods and businesses in the name of "green" that started in the summer of '08. Reprised this summer, Nickels hare-brained suggestion deprived already challenged businesses of needed summer revenue in '08, resulted in residents having their cars towed from their own neighborhoods, and screwed up traffic flow for miles in all directions.

  • Recently discovered, Nickels suggestion to school children in 2007 that if people don't use those swirly mercury-laced fluorescent light bulbs, that Santa and the Reindeer may drown.

  • Nickels has managed to alienate even liberal bloggers, an amazing feat for an allegedly liberal (some claim simply megalomanic, a relatively fine distinction).

  • Nickels successfully forces a gun ban provision into all contracts to use city facilities, leaving the contract-holder to enforce said ban against attendees and volunteers, and in turn, the Seattle Police will then act as the contractors agent in enforcing the Mayors ban - in an attempt to sidestep pre-emption.

  • As a result of Nickels skill at throwing major public hissy-fits, he manages to bully the Governor into blessing the obscenely expensive Seattle Version Big Dig as a monument to his arrogance and to the lengths he will go to profit his friends at the expense of taxpayers.

  • Snow. After nearly two weeks of 18+ inches of snow on a non-snow city operating on a plan of "gee, if vehicles with chains or 4x4 can maneuver the compacted snow'n'ice of what used to be considered roads, it's all good" with salt declared "environmentally bad" and plow blades with rubber edges (lest the roads be wounded), even as side streets remain unplowed and various business districts are effectively considered expendable. Local Transit (Metro) routes were cut by more than half, interestingly enough, post event Metro heads complain the Mayors office refused to take their calls. Mayor Nickels gives city response a "B" grade. Excellent article on the aftermath by Seattle P-I's Joel Connelly.
  • Increasingly globular Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels tells us he's not trying to make life inconvenient for Seattleites...a hint that it just comes naturally to him. A partial list of his more spectacularly foolish moments includes:
  • In November of 2008, Nickels (in the face of a formal legal opinion from WA Attorney General Rob McKenna stating in painful detail that mayoral temper tantrums were not exempt from state law) claimed he would go ahead with his shiny new gun ban, as he needed "clarification" of the AG opinion.
  • In the midst of "challenging financial times" Nickels is ram-rodding through the City Council a plan to ban foam containers at restaurants and grocery stores, and impose a 20-cent fee for each disposable paper and plastic bag used in the checkout line at all grocery, convenience and drugstores - with plastic containers/implements/etc banned in July of 2010. In a display of solidarity with less well-off residents that use grocery bags as garbage can liners rather than paying for "extra special" designated baggage, Nickels in an interview said "If you use grocery bags to line your trash can, Nickels says, "that's great, 20-cents."
  • Nickels cronies in the Parks Department, in a triumph of symbolism over sanity decided to take down a long time Seattle tradition, in a sop thrown to "global warming" - beach fires at Alki Beach and Golden Gardens city parks while a factory burns tires for fuel a short distance away. At least until public outcry forced a Parks Department climb down...
  • And then there's that loony notion, "car-free" days on local roads - trapping local residents or barring them from their homes if they have the temerity to make an appointment or try to come home during the "forbidden hours".
  • Under Nickels, a group of bicycle riding hooligans once a month magically ride above the law, engaging in random property damage and - most recently - assault.
  • Nickels, frustrated that the rest of the state won't buy into his delusions, suggested on 4/18 that the Seattle/TriCounty (King/Pierce/Snohomish County) area secede from the rest of the state.

Greg Nickels is running for a third term as Mayor/Petty Tyrant in November 2009 - the next likely opportunity for sane folks to get shed of this nutjob.

King County exec race centers on budget skills

In today's Seattle Times, the article King County exec race centers on budget skills comments on how the County Executive races is less (at least thus far) about expensive "Big Dreams" than about alleged managerial skills, with candidates actually speaking about "cuts" vs. "cuts AND increased taxes".

In an area rapidly becoming famed for the babysitting thoroughness of the local nanny state, the mention of actual reduction of services and such revolutionary concepts of not granting county workers automatic annual pay raises and asking said employees to actually pay for a fraction of their insurance - is nothing short of amazing, and clearly a positive sign.

Now, if only we can get JPG of Expert Witness to consider applying for Seattle Police Chief (a good bet to roll back years of political correctness, management driven by internal political infighting, poor interagency relationships, petty empire building, and a fair amount of political idiocy rammed down said departments throats) given the departure of the deeply unmissed Kerlikowske, one might actually become hopeful for the region - particularly if we ditch Mayor Nickels this fall.

JPG and a clueful Mayor might even dig Seattle out of the last 16 years of idiocy and mis-management.

Sincere Communists

At this late date it startles me when apparently intelligent, supposedly moral, individuals continue to publicly identify themselves as - of all things - communists. Couldn't they choose something less offensive, like identifying as Klan members or pederasts?

After all, when Communists take hold of the reigns of power with rare exception they equal or exceed the worst excesses of most any other form of government you care to examine.

The sort of folks attracted to public leadership tend to range from the elitist (believing, rightly or wrongly, that if the "right folks" were in charge, thing would be ever so much more splendid - and that they are, of course, the "right folks") to the criminal. And often the criminal is cheaper and less harmful, and not terribly rarely, more honest about his/her agenda.

People are flawed, and allowing them near the levers of power doesn't magically make them less flawed. Checks and balances were invented to balance this regrettable fact out, as best as possible. Even more regrettable, letting folks with the stated goal of achieving whole new levels of intrusiveness and authoriteh near the levers of power is never, ever, a good notion - they are precisely who a nation interested in freedom needs to keep far, far, away from higher office than dog-catcher.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

On Knives

June 13, 2009

19 CFR Part 177
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Office of International Trade, Regulations and Rulings
Attention: Intellectual Property and Restricted Merchandise Branch
Mint Annex, 799 Ninth St. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20229

Dear Sir or Madam:

It is my understanding that you intend to modify 19 CFR Part 177 in direct contravention of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, in defiance of the expressed will of Congress, and despite several judicial rulings (all of which take precedence over regulatory authority) that the knives you propose to ban by fiat are in fact not switchblades.

Such regulation is not merely a bad notion, laden with fuzzy thinking at best and open defiance of congressional and judicial authority at worst, but an EXPENSIVE bad idea leading inevitably to a vast amount of litigation (in which the Administration will not prevail).

Assisted-opening folding knives whether by crank, semi-spring assisted mechanism or inertial opening all prove routinely useful as utilitarian tools facilitating independence not merely for average persons, but particularly and specifically for persons with hand or arm disability – or in the case of birth defects or trauma, the simple absence of a hand or limb. Barring them from import (and since many jurisdictions use the Customs definition as the operating definition of switchblades under said jurisdictions ordinances and statutes) possession deprives such individuals of a tool personally and professionally useful on a daily basis for many – in contravention of said American With Disabilities Act.

Further, Congress (whose proper realm any such bar to import falls under) has repeatedly declined to define such knives contraband. It is at best somewhat presumptive for an administrative agency to deign to legislate where Congress has chosen not to tread – and certainly constitutionally questionable.

Finally, courts in such diverse legal climes as California, Texas, Illinois and Michigan have all found the knives you propose to bar as “switchblades” to, in fact, NOT BE SWITCHBLADES. This should be a hint, to even a minimally competent attorney, that regulations to the contrary are an expensive invitation to litigation by the masses – litigation which, like an avalanche, will crush any potential defense.

Moving beyond the legal and constitutional reasoning why this proposed regulatory misadventure is such a very bad idea, we examine economic impact beyond the cost of litigation and damages paid out to injured parties.

Lest it have escaped the Agency’s notice, the kindest possible definition of the U.S. economy at this date is “delicate”. A more accurate description would be “in a deep and worsening depression”.

Consciously setting out to damage an already weak economy by attacking a 5.9 billion dollar industry with 3,881 direct U.S. employees and 19,405 U.S. employees in ancillary operations cannot rationally be considered a positive contribution to the national economy. Keeping those folks employed in their customary occupations, is a good thing.

In a time of unprecedented spending matched only by unusually diminished revenues, such regulation also fails to pass any rational test of economic impact on government revenue – by reducing the production of income to, in turn, be taxed.

Going further, this re-definition has a serious and negative impact on the States and local jurisdictions that depend entirely or in part on sales tax revenue for their economic sustenance. Private individuals who purchase such knives for such tasks as box-opening, portable pry bars, and general utility tools will – by virtue of such ban – not be spending on such items, and as a result, not be generating tax revenue…and are unlikely to, in these times, spend said sums elsewhere.

Additionally, such knives are very popular purchases with fishers and hunters – groups that, combined, spent nearly 65 billion in the last year and that in these economic times, under no circumstances should be discouraged from any of their spending for the foreseeable future. Aside from simple respect of such individuals as responsible adults, that 65 billion in spending is a revenue stream necessary for the survival of many state and local governments.

Exploring practicality, with knives such as your proposed ban would forbid comprising 80% of knife sales nationwide, 90% of law enforcement and emergency services carrying such knives already, a similar percentage (90%) of Active and Reserve military carrying and owning at least two such knives, and the above barely touching on said knives prevalence and utility in American society – not only does enforcement become inherently selective and discriminatory, unusually subject to use as a tool of vendetta against those held in disdain by one irritated government employee or another, but becomes sufficiently ludicrous as to make a laughingstock of the Agency, making said agency the target of such scathing contempt and general defiance as the “revenooer’s” of the Prohibition Era – likely not an agency goal.

I urge the agency to return to its’ role as an enforcement body, and abandon attempts to act as a legislative body. If definitions require change, Congress is capable of making such determinations and changes – and Customs & Border Protection certainly has sufficient to occupy it without usurping said bodies constitutional role.




Friday, June 12, 2009

Big Adventures

In the last week, I've found myself joining a bunch of organizations that - while I've continued to work with, support, and say nice things about - I've allowed my memberships to lapse over the years, primarily due to economics.

I'm now an active member of Washington Arms Collectors, the National Rifle Association, and finally, a newly minted life member with the Second Amendment Foundation - all in one week.

Why? And why those membership levels?

Well...WAC, since I'm proposing to show Electric Cars there (even if I can't afford gun-shopping just presently, dammit) it's just POLITE to be an active member when you show up as a table vendor - especially when they are being INCREDIBLY NICE and giving you lotsa tables at a discount. Failure in this would be rude.

The Second Amendment Foundation because they hew closer to my values and preferred political approaches than most 2A advocacy groups - they don't mess around, they pick their battles (and do it well), and they aren't hesitant to meander into a courtroom and deliver a litigious smackdown as needed - and are gracious when other, to remain nameless, groups attempt to steal their thunder. And I *know* the folks over on the other side of the lake, and they're a good bunch.

Finally, the NRA. Lots of folks seem to have issues with them, and I agree that the organization is not adapting with entire grace to the modern age and that it has made some notable mis-steps - however, it's the only 900lb gorilla in the room we've got, and might occasionally be, it's OUR 900lb gorilla, and vastly better than being entirely without. I'm looking to work with and support them on a number of fronts in the future, and with that in mind, even if I can't kick loose for a $1000 life membership just presently - I can at least cough up for the 5 year special as insurance against the administrations worst excesses.

It's kind of odd, picking up this many memberships in one fell swoop (and I'm sure there are other worthy orgs out there) but I suspect I'll muddle through. If you haven't joined at least one of the above (SAF or NRA) I'd suggest you they focus our voices in legislative chambers and courtrooms across the land to vastly greater effect than any of us might have as individuals.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009


This morning the Seattle Times published an article on one response to Referendum 71, currently at the petition signature gathering phase. Referendum 71 would repeal Washington's new "Domestic Partnership = Everything except the WORD marriage within the boundaries of the State of Washington" law, passed by the 2009 legislature and recently signed by the governor.

The response, by group , is to propose making a public record PUBLICLY ACCESSIBLE on the internet, in the form of a SEARCHABLE DATABASE (i.e., an actually useful format).

In comments to the Times Article, the overwhelming (and vastly ignorant) reponse is to characterize this as some kind of horrifying new sort of invitation to intimidation and harassment.

And then Michelle Malkin chimed in, suggesting in essence that in the face of either defeat or opposition, the LGBT community should just bend over and take it, using pumice for lube. "What, what? They have the temerity to express dismay through protest, economic means, and public derision towards their opponents?"

Which saddens me, as Michelle seems a talented writer and analyst the vast majority of the time on almost any other isue - just on the "how dare they not bow their heads and simply give up?" thing, with vast regularity, she routinely seems (t0 me) struck temporarily mad. Fortunately, once jarred off that topic, she seems to return to the land of the rational.

Given that the signatures have always, on every single Initiative and Referendum have always been public to begin with (public documents the second they are submitted to the Secretary of State), it's kind of hard to characterize this as particularly innovative. Only ease of acces changes. My response was as below....

The petition signatures are publicly accessible and for good reason - if you aren't prepared to publicly stand behind your signature on a petition, then you really shouldn't be signing it!

The fact those signatures are public and may deter fence-sitters from signing is one of our few defenses from the "herd mentality" and/or pretty-sounding random idiocy.

If you can't take the heat, don't sign. Grow a set. And if folks cross the line into criminal conduct, then - call your friendly local sheriff or police department, or in case of immediate threat to your life or physical integrity, take what action may be necessary to avert such threat.


Monday, June 1, 2009


In recent news, a blogger found herself jailed (and under threat of being jailed again) for failure to promptly surrender her computer in an ongoing defamation case. Apparently, such legal bullying is becoming more common as lawyers discover that the laws written to regulate traditional press - just aren't a good fit (though a very profitable bad fit, if you play your cards right, apparently) for the blogging world.

In this instance, what appears to be yet another repugnant player (there appears to be no shortage) in the Anna Nicole Smith quagmire was publicly criticized by the blogger du jour - and proceeded to sue said blogger and as far as I can tell, everyone else in sight. Sort of a variant on the Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) concept, to my eye, the player appears to be using litigation as the legal equivalent of a baseball bat to massage the crania of those who would utter disliked phrases.

Somehow, though, I think that holding individuals expressing their personal opinions and perceptions (barring actual malice) liable to the same standard of liability that a traditional media organization (at least VERY LOOSELY) adheres to, is less than entirely just or practical.

True, having a blogger running about the 'net declaring one is having illicit orgies with goats and gerbils is - annoying. But well before the full threat and majesty of the law is brought to bear, we need to consider such threats chilling effect on the First Amendment and beyond that, if any actual malice was involved in the given case.

This isn't the most profound or detailed post...more of a "gee, perhaps we should all think about this - particularly as we yet again near a polling place"...