Monday, March 26, 2007
I have a new hobby .. collecting former synagogues. Here is the first. Temple Adas Israel was built a block from my home when we were the ONLY Jews in the neighborhood! Nice having it nearby but I could never understand why it was built so far from other Jews. I still remember stealing Purim candy from the bima! I also remember when the addition was made .. an odd addition to this elongate, characterless structure.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Do not confuse Bush's incompetence with the Publican's real threat.
What are the REAL threats of the right wing in the USA?
Is the Democratic Party really able to take on these challenges?
1. Classism: Reward the rich, build a world economy, export jobs whilem retaining capital.
Classism is NOT limited to the Publican party. Just try revising the tax code to balance wealth with income. Can anybody here spell death tax or WA state income tax?
Al Gore is doing many wonderful things, but would he be willing to give up his estate and live a more modest life so that others can go to college?
2. Education: The USA is the ONLY major country that makes education expensive. Not only that, we also have developed a unionized teacher core that insists on dumbed down curriculum ... exept in the special schools for the upper classes.
Which part is more likely to support national standards?
3. Health Care: We spend twice as much for our health care and get no better results overall for the population (classism again). We can not fix this without fixing the classist tax system.
Is either party willing to take on the oncoming issue of paying for Medicare?
4. Immigration: Errr ahhh .. who is the "liberal" here??? Bush, Kennedy, and McCain or ??? What is liberal anyway? Bringing in a large corps of slave labor? Compensating for our fucked up education system by brian draining India???
Do you know any Dems who support a strict immigration policy? Or one bent toward our real needs as an employer? Or one that demands Americans (a labor draft) take jobs?
And how many Dems are ready to deal with the sort of ethnic issues that have arisen in Europe? Can we be tolerant of the Isam described by Ayaan Horsi Ali? Are we ready t legalize polygamy? Female (voluntary) subjugation?
5. Gay "Marriage": I have no idea what Bushie believes really, but I do know that most Americans want equal rights for sig. others but NOT doing away with the term marriage. Are Democrats as tied up in jargon as Publicans?
Is the party of Bill Clinton ready t declare that there is no special realtionship between a Man and a Woman?
6. Affirmative Action: Has any Democrat notices that the average skin tone in the Bush White House is rather err ahhh dark?
Clarence Thomas SHOULD have taught Dems a lesson ... skin color is a lousy measure not only of competence but of ethnic identity. Is the Democratic party ready to divest itself of Farrakhan and Sharpton? 7. The Draft and Taxes: Bush has done huge damage to our national security. We may well need a draft now to deal with this and the taxes t support a draft. The middle class rules the ballot box and the upper class fuels the political campaigns!
Pogo said, "We have met the enemy and he is us!"
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
On Tuesday Mar. 20 I attended a meeting of the 43rd Democrats to hear about the search committee for the Superintendent for the Seattle Public Schools. Turnout was pretty crummy but three folks spoke representing the District, the PTSA and the City Council. .
Cheryl Chow, assured us that after much work, the Board she chairs as Council President, had arrived at four key qualities. While I did not take notes, I recall her "truths:"
1. The appointee must be committed to education for all kids
2. The appointee must be able to work with students and teachers
3. The appointee must be able to represent the District to the Public.
4. The appointee must understand the financial limitations of the District.
Whatever these truths, I remember them as more than a bit trite. To make matters worse, later she added that the new Superintendent must be an educator BUT he or she must not bring his or her own ideas about education because the District already has a successful academic policy and a chief academic officer. Also, she made it very clear that there would be NO priority for evidence of administrative or other excellence in non academic spheres.
Lets see .....
these criteria would have ruled out John Stanton, probably the most impressive Superintendent we have ever had. The criteria would also rule out Barak Obama, Dan Evans, Bill Gates, Hyman Rickover, Colin Powell, and of course Norm Rice as potential superintendents of the Seattle Public Schools. On the other hand Ms. Chow, a moderately unsuccessful former principle and administrator in the District, would be well qualified as would several of other recent failures as Superintendent. CHOW for Super?
The other speakers were, perhaps, worse. I had never heard David Della before, but we pay this man about 170,000 dollars a year as a Seattle City Councilman. I had heard good things about David Della. He is a former labor activist and I would guess well intentioned. Past record aside, Mr. Della was dressed in pinstripes, looking for all the world like a salesman at a BMW dealership. Like a car salesman, Della echoes platitudes, reinforcing Chow and assuring us that the City was devoted to focusing ITS resources on helping the underprivileged children who, seemingly, represent a majority of the Seattle School kids. When asked if he knew what proportion of our high school age kids are in the public Schools, Mr. Della had no idea. I have been told it is less than 25% overall and nearly zero in the affluent neighborhoods. The city governed by mr. Della is committed to creating new, costly neighborhoods with NO schools. Can little David spell S-E-G-R-E-G-A-T-I-O-N? Does he think the folks living in 3-4 million dollar condoes in SLU will want to pay taxes to support "kids of color?"
I will not say much about Ms. Carr. She is a striking look-alike for Meryl Streep! I kept expecting weight comments. I honestly can not tell you what Ms. Carr (President of the PTSA) believes except that kids deserve an education. She did seem bored a lot of the time and I gave her some points for that. Oh, by the way, she is very pale. I found it hard to print her skin tone!
Words missing from any of the presentations were: leadership, imagination, commitment, track record, knowledge .... It seems we were being reassured nothing would change.
The image these three gave was of a district comprised ONLY of poor kids whose best chance might be to pass the WASL (our state test to gradyate High School). We were reassured that the Superintendent would not contest with the Teacher's Union or the Principal's Association or any of the activist groups. The bottom line message to any parent was, we know best, we want a superintendent who represents Ms. Chow's constituency (whoever that may be), we have no interest in middle class kids, you should feel guilty if you think your kids deserve the best education THEY can get, etc etc.
Where does this go? It goes to a SSD for and only for the poor. A highly segregated district where outstanding achievements, other than perhaps achievements on the athletic field, is not a goal. Where the assumption is that half of our kids are somethnig called "kids of color" and, I presume the rest are a pale background (like Ms. Carr?). Of course within this tapestry, there are no Koreans or Japanese, Guyanese, or Ethiopians just needy kids pale people can help.
Someone needs to tell Ms. Chow that this sort of condescension helps no one. Educational needs are hardly divided (only) by skin tone. A District meant to serve only the most disadvantaged will offer severely limited horizons to the young lady "of color" who aspires to be an engineer or business leader.
Oh, and someone REALLY needs to tell Ms. Chow that "people of color" is a racist term. We, the pople of Seattle are of several cultures. Some of us do have special problems as a group ...l certainly we still have a lot of poor African Americans and the plight of the urban Salish peoples is a major challenge. The same is true for children (regardless of paleness) of broken homes and some recent immigrants who may or may not have darj skin.
Her use of "people of color" is as much a code word for Black as is the less well intended term used by the comedian Michale Richards. BUT, equating all African Americans with the educationally disabled is racist. And, Ms. Chow, your own ethnic group, those of yellow color do rather well in our schools! Her term is not ill meant, but it is dishonest. To make this point VERY clear the one African American in the room got to ask ms. Chow one of the last questions. Ms. Chow may have answered, I could not tell. She was as condescending as possible, assuming that this man (we were in the University District) could only be concerned with the poorest kids. The speaker is the guy in the LA cap in the picture to the left. I do not know this fellow , but Chow's assumption reminds me of the time in a New Orleans hotel lobby when someone asked a friend of mind, a "person of color" to carry her bags. My friend politely refused and I was emabarased. I wonder how she would react if the man in the LA hat were found to be a Vice President at Washington Mutual?
To be fair. I do not think Ms. Chow is a racist. I think she means well. The problem she and the District faces is a hard one and our unpaid board probably selects against many parents and leaders with too much talent to have the time to serve. She reminds me of a liberal vesion of GW Bush. An overwhelmed ideologue.
The new super needs to be more honest and more effective than Ms. Chow. The alternative is a sort of combined District and Poor House, at the mercy of tax payers whose own kids go to private schools and well meaning but not superb folks like Ms. Chow. Am I being as condescending to Ms. Chow she was to the 43d District?
And the super? What is the chance that anyone of quality, irrespective of colored vs pale, will want a job as described by Ms Chow?
Monday, March 19, 2007
This link is to a very important report on BHO's commtiments to Israel AND the reactins of both Muslim and Jewish communities, I intend to say mor elater, but for now wanted to be sure I posted the link.
Image: Ethiopean church in Seattle in what I suspect was once a Jewish synagogue.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
I understand that the need for my people to defend Israel often means moral compromises that are difficult to reconcile with our traditions of liberalism. Alliances with fundies and even with South Africa make my skin crawl. But, faced with extermination what should we do?One thing, however, is VERY clear. We should never give the moral high ground to others. No issue is more clear in this regard than the virtual apartheid we impose, for good reasons, on the Palestinians in Israeli controlled areas. Showing compassion for our Palestinian brothers and sisters is the right thing to do AS WELL as making strategic sense.
A failure to understand the power of being strong and showing compassion was the source of the tragic reaction of many Jews to Jimmy Carters new book. "Apartheid" correctly compares the life of Palestinians to the life of Bantu people in South Africa's bantustans. This important point of view outraged many irredentist Jews, who need to see everything in stark colors. They were a bit correct. Mr. carter in trying to help us all see the pain of these people, fails to place blame and responsibility of their own leaders. Is there anyone more desirous of Palestinian well being than the (Jewish) PeaceNow movement. We need to pursue peace while being strong. compromises obviously occur, but they should never occur with the loss of compassion for people in pain.
Now there is the following insulting and stupid letter to Senator Obama. Apparently Adelman and other AIPAC members want to hem in Mr. Obama. This is worng headed and NOT in the interest of Israel. I WANT Mr. Obama to be elected and to use his talents as a leader to bring peace to the much scarred semitic peoples. How in all hell can Mr. Adelman hope for Israel to survive without solving the problem recognized by Mr. Obama?
Yitzak Rabin once said he shook hands with Arafat because there was no other choice. if Rabin could shake hands with a momser like Arafat, surely all of us can show compassion for the people suffering the most because of all this.
Dear Senator Obama,
I am writing to express my concern with your comments in yesterday’s Des Moines Register (Up-close Obama urges compassion in Mideast; He backs loosening restrictions on Palestinian aid).
As an Iowan, democratic precinct caucus attendee, and leader in Iowa’s Jewish community, I am greatly concerned about the situation in the Mideast and your views on this matter.
I find your statement in yesterday's Des Moines Register that "nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people,” deeply troubling. I would greatly appreciate a response clarifying your statements.
The Palestinian people democratically elected their leadership, part in which, Hamas is recognized as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union. It fails to recognize the right of Israel to exist and encourages terrorist attacks against innocent Israeli Jews, Christians and Arabs.
Again, I respectfully ask for clarification on what you believe needs to be done to bring peace to this region of the world.
Iowa Democrat and AIPAC member, David Adelman
Monday, March 12, 2007
Seattle is voting in a non-binding ballot about whether to rebuild a shoreline highway through the down town or replace the current (falling apart) viaduct with a tunnel. Neither option has any clear financing or idea about how it would impact the city. Instead, the politicians are b;abbering about Seattle's status as a World Class City. Why do we want Seattle to be a "World Class City?" For that matter what is a "World Class City?"
Lets see ...
Do we want to be:
Tokyo ... or Kyoto?
Rotterdam or Leiden?
Munich or Frankfurt?
New York or San Francisco?
It sems to me that the current Mayor equates WCC with lotsa folks living in high rises, I LIKE that idea. I LIKE the idea of Seattle developing an urban, high density culture t fgo along with our traditional neighborhood/Ballard Ya Shure Betcha culture.
But the key words here should be "Seattle" and "Culture." The current growth of high density housing in Seattle has all the urban planning one expects of Marvin Gardens on the Monopoly board.
Look at South Lake Union? No plans for schools, no plans for magnet retail areas, no plans for parks .... forgive me Mr. Allen, but the only reason I can see that anyone would want to live there is a fantasy that this is part of Seattle or, perhaps, the Western end of Manhattan.
How does all tis apply to the tunnel kerfuffle? Other than the surface option and Ron Sims' wise comments, no one has offered a serious plan for the water front. It seems ot me that the City Council cold help by passing legislation requiring any traffic plan in Seattle to include a cultural impact statement, explaining how the work would fit into our overall plan for urban development. Of course this means we need a plan! But why in hell not? Why do we discuss the viaduct as if it were independent of the issues in Rainier Valley or South Lake Union?
Lets look at some of the successes and goofs of the past. The stadia, aside form all other issues, have pretty well destroyed Pioneer Square. Surely, as part of the deal with Allan and the Mariners, an investment could have been required in development of this desirable property? At the other extreme the loverly convention center WORKS because it was panned with the hotels neighboring the freeway. Other examples abound. The Pike Place Market and the stairs project worked very well. Seattle Center works when and only whenb it fits into Queen Anne and serves the downtown, etc etc.
Back at the via duct .. this vote is stupid. We need planning and better leadership. UPDATE .. the citizens voted both options down.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
This is a link to a dreadful schtick by Lewis Black, a comedian whose talent for dengrating his own people .. the Jews, has all the charm of the nigger/hinkley slingers we see in the African American community.
The sad thing is that this link appeared on HorsesAss, the blog run by David Goldstein. David is a wonderful, thoughtful rational person. But, like many Jews, he has bought into the general concept that we are just another people and the acceptance of self deprecation. Black is a sad example of our failure as people to stand up for what WE have top offer.
I am not opposed ot Jewish humor. I loved Victor Borge and Mort Sahl. Jewish humor, sarcastic Jewish humor is part of our persona. Mort Sahl aggressively attacked the McCarthy/Eisenhower era conceptions of morality and did so openly as a Jew. Black is no replacement. Mort Sahl he ain't, hell ... Black is not even Al Franken or John Stewart. Black is gross like the black comics who try to make a living off of calling folks niggers and honkeys. Black makes me want to call him a kike!
What purpose does this diatribe serve ... other than to denigrate Judaism along with Christianity? This reminds me of other puerile humor .. such as the Gay group that dresses like nuns, they remind me of Ann Coulter,
Before anyone here misunderstands, I am a very uptight Jew. I think fundies of all kinds are committing blasphemy in an era where Science, call it God if you want, provides a powerful vision of Reality. I think antisemiut5ism is intrinsic to Christian history. Any exclusivist, any dogma that teaches that all other beliefs lead to Hell is despicable. Indeed one thing I am very proud of is that Judaism has rarely shown this sort Christain/Islamic bigotry. Jews are actually taught, that the goyem can more easily please the Diety because the Unnamed One has made special demands on "His" people.
While even Jewish fundamentalism teaches respect for pious goyem, the reward from the Islamic world and Xtian world is to diss my people. Try as he might, even John XXIII, could not dissipate the smog arising form the idea that the Jewish God was bad and needed to be supplanted by the human sacrifice of the crucification. Millions of Jews (and Muslims and Pagans and ... have dies for that cross.
If Black had decried that, as part of his speech seemed to, I would have been very pleased. Instead, his fowl mouth merely adds to bigotry. Gak,
Thursday, March 08, 2007
The central issues in this debate are the need for the Region to move traffic N and S and the need for Seattle to develop its downtown.
The NS issue effects a lot more than I99. In fact I99 is a lousy solution! What dimwit would want to use any sort of I99 .. that is Aurora with tis dstop lights and cross traffic .. to transport a widget from Everett to Vanc WA? A real plan would address the regional needs. What does this mean? 405 and a new "ring road" .. a "605," should be taken seriously. So should rail based solutions.
The Seattle part of the equation changes once when addresses the NS issue this way. The parameters are fairly clear:
1. Seattle needs to maintian or expand its capacity for NS traffic between commercial districts on the N and the S side of the city. Part of the solution should be a COMMERCIAL toll road that would only be open on a limited hours basis to the rest of the drivers. Another part may be other NS traffic, esp. martin Luther King. Currently connections on the east side of the Seattle peninsula are terrible. You can easily get into the Central District from the North via Montlake or the South via MLK, but these routes do not interconnect in any efficient manner. Finally, esp., North of the canal, there is no good way of getting across Seattle.
That brings us to the real idea .. creating a NS waterfront boulevard. This debate would be a lot easier if the damn Seattle newspapers would publish some realistic numbers on costs. Mayer Nickels' claims about costs are fanciful. We need to know what the thing would really cost. That said, we also need to know the benefit from all this to real estate developers and ow best ti optimize their efforts in terms of both the k,ind of city we get and their willingness to contribute $$ to the effrot.
The obvious example is Allantown ... or Vulcan Villas, my nasty name for South Lake Union. Vulcan/Allan are engaged in a classical visionless development. There is no regional plan for Vulcan Villas, no plans for amenities, very limited retail, no transportation plan (other than the silly street car), and certainly no plans for families to live there 9aka schools). In Vulcan's defense, access to and from SLU is horrible. Mercer s unusable most of the day and the current way the viaduct works makes access form Aurora almost impossible,. This issue grows immensely if we are to take seriosly Vulcan's claim to want mixed development with commercial and residential properties.
So, by going regional and figuring on the benefit to Vulcan and other developers, we could three very important questions:
1. how does all this development effect all of our taxes?
2. If improved transport will help Vulcan make $$, what should Vulcan contribute to the costs?
3. How does the viaduct issue effect the region and how should the region help defray the cost of NS traffic?
Monday, March 05, 2007
I hesitate to show this image. Years ago I discovered that my inner thoughts emerge in my photography. This is the hard to explain idea of the photograph as an equivalent of what we see. The idea developed by Minor White, my long term inspiration. Minor taught us that the discipline of photography could teach us to see .. to see what we would later print. To see what was there in our minds.
Often I am surprised. Well, this last weekend we were in San Francisco to attend the Scleroderma Research Foundation Meeting. I am funded by the SRF, in part because I very moved by the paradox of this disfiguring disease and the Foundation itself.
Sclerodrma means hardening of the skin and the disease is like a diffuse scarring after being burned. The paradox is that the Foundation was founded by a very beautiful woman, a dancer. I only knew her at the latter stages of her disease. Somehow, through her scarring, came the vision of the beautiful dancer. I do not understand the paradox, her disease made her very beautiful. I wish I had had the courage to photograph her. Is this a lesson about transcendent beauty?
Anyhow, as I walked on Jefferson Street, after the meeting, I heard a street musician playing a lute. The music was wonderful. This is what I "saw." The player had affixed what looked like elongate nails to his fingers and was making music with these bizarre fingers. I tried and tried to find a good exposure, but no matter what I did the camera would only overexpose his normal hands, turning them into these white washed objects. The camera made me angry, yet ..this is what I saw too. You read the image for me!
The Publicans DO NOT HAVE a candidate! For better or worse, Bush, Rove and company have redefined the party. How can one be Publican and oppose the Xtian Right Agenda? This makes as much sense as Jesse Jackson ... or for that matter Dan Evans .. running as a Publican!
Ironically, the MOST credible Christian candidates now are all demos! Obama has a story (and a life) that inspire Xtians ... hold that up against Guiliani! Look at what happened in Virginia! ... A devout Xtian beat a posturing Xtian! Hillary, by the way, has spent the last six years attending the fundamentalist prayer breakfasts in the senate. Quietly! Do you suppose McCain was there? Richardson is a devout Catholic with a record of service that has claimed Christian inspiration.
Romney? A believer in Jesus living on as an American Indian? A believer that all people can become God? Running as Christian? Leaving aside dirty campaigning, the fundies are serious folks, they are not going to vote for someone who is a polytheist.
This smells a but like the Reagan era in reverse. It is not hard to imagine that Southern baptists, who have been trying to heal the wounds of the civil war and Civil Rights,
will find a natural alliance with their African Baptist colleagues. Imagine Obama speaking to a Baptist convention where ALL colors are present? Hmmm. Obama, a Christian by choice, a monogamous man with two wonderful (Christian) daughters, running against multiply divorced McCain, Guiliani, or worse .. Gingrich!
Ironically, the closest match to Carl Rove's ideal Publican candidate would have to be Hillary or James Webb or even John Edwards! Any of these people fit the Karl Rove formula better than a divorced catholic who lives with gays, a former house speaker who left under rumors of abusing a past wile, a believer in many Gods, etc. The only believable Christian Republican in John McCain .. or maybe Obama? Lets see .. fiscal conservative, patriotic, 20 year marriage, CHOSE to be a Christian, did voluneter service AFTER being a Harvard success, can EXPLAIN his stands on abortion and prays regularly. Sounds like a compassionate conservative to me.
I smell a new Demo coalition. Built on patriotism, service, America-firstism, and fiscal responsibility. oh yeh, on respect for other nations, jobs, education, jobs, fair taxes, jobs, ....