February 29, 2004
Haiti in Flux
The money quote from the Post's editorialists:
There is much to be learned from the last U.S. effort at stabilizing Haiti a decade ago. U.S. forces left too quickly, and they provided too little training and aid to the police they left behind. Not enough was done to help Haitians build democratic institutions....Without a more concerted effort at nation-building -- comparable to that which the United States has supported in the Balkans, or Iraq -- the pattern of crisis and foreign intervention in Haiti will not be broken.
On hand in Haiti is young blogger closerstep:
Today is a new day in Haiti. Jean-Bertrand Aristide fled the country early this morning. Now Haiti and the international community (are) left to pick up the pieces of a shattered government.
From Iraq, blogger Alaa (The Mesopotamian) says we must seriously beef up the Iraqi civil defense forces so they can take the initiative against what he describes as Baathist-led terrorists. This is especially crucial, Alaa says, in the months leading up to the Coalition hand-off of control to Iraqis.
The balance of forces is quite worrying. If the Coalition forces were not there, I would say that the forces of the New Iraq would be in trouble, especially in the Center. The important point though, is to think of the necessary course of action, especially in the next few months before the hand over of authority.
Exactly how to strengthen the anti-terorrist Iraqi forces is the question. Send thoughts, and links.
Alaa closes his post with a reminder of what's at stake.
....what we say is motivated by zeal and concern that the mission should succeed, because our life, future and the good of the whole of humanity depend on that.
That's about the size of it.
Played: media "consumers." Players: grassroots media makers. And blogs are at the center of it, says Jeff Jarvis.
I was just thinking how wrong the word "consumer" is today -- especially in the world of news, information, and media. For we don't just consume anymore; it's not a one-way world now. We produce. We report. We write. We edit. We improve. We amend. We remix. We comment. We argue. We correct. We distribute.
Jarvis' blog buzzmachine.com is one at the center of the blogging revolution. If you haven't checked it out yet, do - there's a great mix of stuff on politics, media, gizmos and global democracy. Jarvis - former TV Critic for TV Guide, founding editor of Entertainment Weekly, former SF Chron columnist and much more - is the guy who encouraged one of the leading pro-democracy Iraqi bloggers, Zeyad (of Healing Iraq), to start blogging.
Now, among other things, Jarvis is encouraging, keeping track of - and has abundant links to - Iranian bloggers. They're giving crucial first-hand perspective on that country's struggle with the ruling, anti-democracy, mad mullahs. One Iranian blogger you'll especially want to check out is Hoder. His blog's name says a lot: "Editor: Myself."
February 28, 2004
A Good Dragnet is Hard to Beat
Sure, he's Canadian. But he's also a self-described "dyed-in-the-wool liberal." And Dan Ackroyd tells the NY Daily News' Rush & Molloy that he'd like to see four more years of W.
'There's a tremendous initiative in law enforcement [that] may be reversed if Bush is not re-elected,' he said. 'Let this administration finish this war and this fight against terrorism.'
Right on, Dan. But could you please do something about that Canadian restaurant chain called the "White Spot" ? I've really got some issues there.
In '08, Ackroyd hopes Hillary runs and wins. Hey, if she's strong on national security, I'd at least listen to the rest of what she'd have to say. 'Course if Rudy runs, I'm in his camp from the get-go.
February 27, 2004
No Sex, No Problem
Suzanne Fields isn't too broken up about the end of HBO's "Sex and the City."
For all the show's wit and stylishness - and many of the earlier episodes had an abundance of both - it was never the feminist celebration that the critics said it was, unless feminism is about female freedom to exploit sex in multiples of various kinds. It's hardly a victory for feminism, it seems to me, for women to do unto men as they have been done unto.
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
"Rock Against Bush" concerts are going on all over the country, it turns out. Guess that beats "Rock for Kerry," huh? And to think Kerry once played drums in a rock band. Time for another photo-op, methinks.
Funny how here in the political sign and bumper sticker capital of North America, I've seen just one sign so far for Kerry. Hell, I've seen more dogs in raincoats.
Now, that calm voice of reason, U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Seattle), is going to lead a Howard Dean be-in tommorow in Westlake Plaza, past scene of Dean's greatest Seattle group grope. Today's Seattle Times reports, "The rally is designed in part to remind voters in Super Tuesday states they can vote for Dean even though he has suspended his campaign." Sure, and then in the general, they can cast another symbolic vote, for Nader.
UPDATES: Stefan Sharkansky says the planned Seattle Dean-iac gathering tommorow reminds him of the original "cargo cult."
Other Rosenblog visitors sound off:
KEN J. - "I hope Rock Against Bush is as fabulously succesful as Rock Against Reagan was."
TOM R. on Seattle's lukewarm feeling for Kerry - "I have also been struck by the paucity of pro-Kerry signs. I live in a neighborhood once bristling with Dean and Kucinich yard signs but have yet to see my first Kerry eruption. Apparently even the people voting for him don't find him all that inspiring. Whoever dubbed Kerry the Resume Without A Cause has it about right."
Of Slacker T-shirts And Mind Control
Youg lefties including Conan Neutron are in a dither because of a t-shirt being sold at Urban Outfitters. It says, "Voting Is For Old People." Well, yeah, unfortunately, it mostly is. Now who's gonna change that? And what does it have to do with a t-shirt?
Or as one commenter to Neutron's above-linked Live Journal item puts it:
It's an Onion article waiting to happen. And if someone's gullible enough to not vote because some trucker-cap adorned quasi-hipster's t-shirt told them to, maybe it's not such a loss!
While we're at it, what kind of name is Conan Neutron, anyway?
February 26, 2004
You Can't Say That!
Writing in The Nation, no less, Todd Oppenheimer pops the bubble about school computers helping poor kids.
...most computer technology has been sold to schools--especially poor schools--on little more than hype....Most employers say their priority is what are sometimes called "soft" skills: a deep knowledge base; the ability to listen and communicate; to think critically and imaginatively; to read, write and figure; and many other capabilities that schools are increasingly neglecting. ...In reality, the schools' new technology riches have taken the real divide between rich and poor children--the educational divide--and widened it.
February 25, 2004
Mad Mullahs R Us
Iran has announced a new proxy voting system: no need to actually vote. The, um, authorities will do it for you. OK it's Scrappleface, making things up again. And perilously close to the truth, as always.
Now the NYT reports our CIA says the recent elections - in which thousands of unsuitable candidates were removed from the ballot beforehand by ruling clerics - heralds a new era of repression and inflexibility.
Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Hoover Institution fellows and Stanford University political scientists Michael McFaul and Abbas Milani aren't quite so downbeat. Of course, they're not trying to cover for Bush. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Even after the election, the prospects for a democratic breakthrough are greater there (Iran) than anywhere else in the Middle East......President Bush...must make public statements to assure Democratic forces inside Iran that the U.S. is still on their side. (He) should meet publicly with Iran's genuine democratic leaders....
Former U.S. Ambassador to Hungary Mark Palmer, vice-chairman of Freedom House, vice president of the Council for a Community of Democracies, and author of "Breaking the Real Axis of Evil," writes, "The reawakening of Iran's tradition of student activism, a predominant force in the 1979 revolution, cannot be lost on (theocratic dictator Ayatollah Ali) Khamenei. In the end he will have to step aside for this growing wave of opposition, or be swept away as it clears the way for a post-theocratic Iran."
February 24, 2004
Love or Confusion?
CONCERT REVIEW – Experience Hendrix; Sunday, 2/22/04; Paramount Theatre, Seattle.
The spirit of Jimi lives, almost whenever I put on some tunes. Last night, it was channeled via New Jersey-based pedal steel guitarist Robert Randolph, on his new gospel-blues-rock CD, “Unclassified.” The chill-inducing quote of Hendrix’s “Voodoo Chile” at the end of Randolph’s tune, “Nobody” was just a formal nod. The whole song cycle is suffused with late electric guitar god’s omniverous, celebratory mojo.
Some Hendrix licks aren’t too hard to learn, but the trick is how they’re played. It has been said Jimi played on, over and through his guitar, which becomes clear in concert footage. He would have somehow deconstructed and re-assembled a clarinet’s possibilities in the same spirit, had he played that instrument instead.
This helps explain why performers ranging from The Kronos String Quartet, Ellen McIlwaine and Stanley Jordan have all covered Hendrix songs. The astounding technique is always in service of the melody, the composition, the blues, and the soul. Easy reference points include classic Hendrix hits such as “Hey Joe,” “The Wind Cries Mary,” the studio version of the slow blues, “Red House,” and Hendrix’s turbo-charged cover on "Electric Ladyland” of New Orleans r&b guitarist Earl King’s 1962 gem, “Come On.”
I’d been to a real mess of a Jimi Hendrix tribute concert at Seattle’s Bumbershoot festival in 1995, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect Sunday night. It was the debut of the “Experience Hendrix” West Coast mini-tour, at Seattle’s beautifully restored Paramount Theatre. There were cathedral ceilings, intricate design elements everywhere, and huge hanging chandeliers; a splendid place.
With so many name acts on the bill, I figured there’d at least be a few high points. And there were, along with some clear indications about what needs to be fixed before the concert producers hired by Jimi’s estate take this show national, as is the stated aim.
They’ll want to get it right, because in May, Experience Hendrix LLC releases a major Hendrix tribute CD featuring Eric Clapton, Sting, Santana, Prince, the late Stevie Ray Vaughn, the late John Lee Hooker, and, of all people, the aforementioned Robert Randolph.
Cover tunes are highly marketable, but risk triviality. There are bar bands doing note-for-note versions of songs by Hendrix, The Beatles, Doors, Stones, ZZ Top, and countless r&b oldie groups. Fun, but who needs ‘em, really? The enlightened artist uses the cover tune as a starting point for a journey to who-knows-where.
Like former Earth, Wind and Fire guitarist Sheldon Reynolds. Joined by Kid Rock guitarist Kenny Olsen, he got the show into gear early with a great version of Hendrix’s “Who Knows,” a bluesy jam Jimi recorded live on “Band of Gypsys,” New Years Eve 1969 in New York. They traded solo choruses; Reynolds throwing in some fine scat phrasing; and were complemented by a great ARP synth solo from one of Reynolds’ two keyboardists.
Next, guitarist Mato Nanji and the Native-American group Indigenous tore it up, doing the classic Hendrix power ballad, “Little Wing,” and the long blues jam, “Hear My Train A’ Comin.” A good showcase for these guys – I’m going to check out their CD now. Veteran blues-rocker Eric Gales followed, oozing attitude, and turning “Purple Haze” inside out most admirably.
Then, a train wreck. The great Chicago blues session guitarist Hubert Sumlin was sabotaged, by his pairing with guitarist Jimmy Lane.
Sumlin’s clean, sinewy, fills influenced a whole generation of electric guitarists listening to the classic Howlin’ Wolf tunes recorded in Chicago on Chess Records, such as "Built For Comfort,” “Shake For Me,” “300 Pounds of Joy,” “Louise,” “Goin’ Down Slow,” “Killing Floor,” and “Wang Dang Doodle."
Experience Hendrix had already earned my respect for unearthing rare, early-60s European TV footage of Sumlin live with the great blues songwriter Willie Dixon on acoustic bass and Sunnyland Slim on piano, on the recently released DVD, “The American Folk Blues Festival 1962-1966” (Volume Two).
Such a small, mostly acoustic trio, or modulated quartet is still what suits Sumlin’s understated style best. But his cohort Lane, a beefy, 50-ish guy in a faux Jimi outfit (broad-brimmed hat, suede boots with fringe) was determined to have his White Stratocaster heard all the way to Anchorage. Sumlin got a few licks in, including a delicious staccato-phrased, call-and-response solo that sounded like a woman scolding her lover. He said more in those 45 seconds than Lane did all night.
The tour producers should send Lane packing, right off, and get Mr. Sumlin some simpatico backing. This is a lousy way to treat a real-life legend.
A mini-set featuring a couple of Seattle rock icons worked nicely. Former Alice in Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell was joined by former Heart vocalist Ann Wilson for “Hey Joe” and “Manic Depression.”
The late 80s pop-metal group Living Color, led by guitarist Vernon Reid, just about stole the show. Reid came up playing outside jazz in the early 80s with groups such as drummer Ronald Shannon Jackson’s Decoding Society, and later co-founded The NYC-based Black Rock Coalition to promote, well, black rock. Most recently, Reid has been into freaky, beat-heavy soundscapes; as on his Yohimbe Brothers CD with DJ Logic. Reid’s playing Sunday was a bit less reined-in than in Living Color’s MTV heyday: he created dense, shifting tone clusters; Coltrane-esque sheets of sound.
Yet Reid still knows when to step back and let the song happen. With dreadlocked, peripatetic uberfunkbassist Doug Wimbish, manic vocalist Will Calhoun and a solid drummer, Living Color captured the r&b heart of Jimi’s “Power of Soul” and then busted it up into spiky shards. “Crosstown Traffic” turned into a monstrous funk jam, Calhoun invading the balcony and threatening to jump back down to the ground floor. Now that’s entertainment.
Young blues guitar phenom Kenny Wayne Shepherd, using nary an effects pedal, managed to top Living Color, bringing an intense, Stevie Ray Vaughn Texas roadhouse swagger to “Come On” and “Voodoo Chile.” By his last number, “I Don’t Live Today,” he was playing in tongues.
This was followed by the Buddy Guy debacle. The blues legend has a stellar career, going back more than 40 years. He’s played on two of the best blues records ever: Junior Wells’ “Hoodoo Man Blues,” and "Buddy Guy and Junior Wells Play The Blues." In recent years, the recording studio has been his salvation because his flakiness can be papered over. He’s got a string of awards and nightclub in Chicago called “Legends.” And there’s the problem. Watching him onstage, you can see he’s become a legend in his own mind.
Somewhere along the way, Buddy lost it. He’s still got a fine voice, and can snap off bluesy runs on his guitar. But for a good while now, his live performances have been highly erratic. I saw it again Sunday at the Paramount. Guy won’t keep to a beat; stops, starts and digresses; leaves dead space in the middle of a song; and relies on an old, old trick of playing so softly you can barely hear him, then cranking it up to 11. There’s no continuity in his solos, he’s just spewing out licks here and there. Every tune was a slow, plodding dirge.
The man was essentially lost, barely in there. His accompanists were clearly struggling to follow him, always a bad sign.
Guy’s current act would never pass muster in the West Side Chicago blues clubs where he first made his name. Yet this sad shtick passed for blues genius before an undiscerning, wildly enthusiastic Seattle crowd Sunday night. Seattle audiences are like this for any big-name act, afraid of seeming unappreciative and thus unsophisticated. Call it a boondocks mentality - that persists despite our (sullied) international cachet.
Experience Hendrix does a disservice to the music that inspired Jimi – the blues – by allowing Buddy Guy onstage, and worse, making him the star attraction.
Guy's antics are well-known. Here's a "teaser" from the program guide of The Madison (WI) Blues Festival:
Buddy Guy: He’s the king of Chicago blues, the multi-Grammy-winning heir to mentor Muddy Waters’ throne, and he’s becoming a Madison Blues Festival regular. Which is fine by us — so long as he stays on track and doesn’t cut off songs just when they get a-chuggin’. Despite his often erratic stage behavior, the 66-year-old Guy remains the godfather of electric-guitar blues, exerting more energy than players half his age and still releasing quality new material.
Jason Koransky puts it even more plainly, reviewing for Centerstage Chicago a bogus show Guy put on at his own club, for cry-yi, Legends.
Buddy has his tricks. Walking into the audience. Throwing a few "What the f*** are you doing?" remarks to the crowd between songs. The trademark orgasmic smile and a drum stick to the guitar. Signs of a rock star, and if he played a full two-hour, soulful, focused set, then all this would be warranted. But starting and stopping nearly 10 songs....the show turned into more of a disjointed practice session than a $25 ticket affair....Throw in a crowd applauding these insincere antics (and the contingent yelling at the top of their lungs about stock trading), and, well, try to unload your tickets (if you've already bought them) to someone who does not read this review.
So true. Been there, been there, been there. Cambridge, Massachusetts, early 80s; Chicago, too many times to count, in the 80s and early 90s. Word's been out for a good while about Buddy. How could Experience Hendrix not know? Or not care?
Another problem Sunday: momentum was difficult to maintain with so many changes of the guard on stage. The emcees were left to natter while the audience called for more music.
There are two big things that threaten obsolescence for tribute tours and even tribute CDs to legendary, ever-vital artists such as Hendrix.
One is a slavish devotion to doing covers. Buddy Guy’s set at least was blues standards, not Hendrix covers, but was so poorly and embarrassingly executed that the point was lost.
The second threat to Hendrix tributes specifically, live or recorded, is electricity – strange as that may sound. I say this as one who fetishizes the electric guitar in all its glorious forms. I own two (a ‘63 Vox Super Ace, and a beautiful knock-off of a hollow-body model called the Gretsch Tennessean).
But Sunday’s concert was just too loud; and too uneven. Before the Experience Hendrix tour goes national, and perhaps global, a few changes are required.
Lose Buddy Guy fast; do far better by Hubert Sumlin; and bring in a few artists more capable of nuance, and shading. Add to the mix a few jazz guitarists, a piano and sax-led group, and someone really fresh, such as Robert Randolph, or another of the wailing, very contemporary pedal-steelers now on the loose. Whatever. But the spirit of Jimi far transcends the genres of just blues and rock: that message was lost Sunday.
To not fix what was broken at Sunday’s Experience Hendrix concert in Seattle would be to disrespect the rich legacy Jimi has left to us all. He deserves better, and so did the customers paying up to $44.50 a seat.
Even if many of them seemed not to know it.
In Praise of Moderate Muslims
Jeff Jacoby returns to a favorite topic of his - and mine - the courage of moderate Muslims who speak out about on the crying need for reform in Islam.
It is a sad irony that the world's freest Muslims — those who live in liberty in the West — are so unwilling to publicly condemn the world's worst Muslims — the militant Islamist fascists who believe in violent jihad, intolerant theocracy, subjugated women, and hatred of Jews and Americans....All the more reason, then, to applaud those outspoken moderate Muslims who do lift their voices against the hatred and violence of the extremists. "
Jacoby cites Irshad Manji's best-selling book, "The Trouble With Islam: A Muslim's Call for Reform in Her Faith," and notes that:
Manji, who calls herself a 'Muslim refusenik,' has received a good deal of well-deserved publicity. She has also received hate mail, vitriolic insults, and death threats serious enough to require her to have a bodyguard. Muslims who insist on talking bluntly about contemporary Islam and its failings don't have it easy. That is another reason there are so few of them.
Deciphering terms such as "moderate" can be difficult, writes Jacoby.
It isn't always easy to distinguish between militant Islamism and genuine Islamic moderation. Some Muslim leaders and institutions claim to believe in pluralism and oppose intolerance, yet attack those who expose extremism as bigots and "Islamophobes." Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum says that often the only way to tell the real moderates from the fakes is by asking questions — not vague queries ("Do you condemn terrorism?"), but specific, hard-to-duck ones. Such as:
A good smell test, indeed.
February 23, 2004
A Jewelry Shop Owner's Best Friend
OK, no more kvetching about how the media never report the good news about guns and self-defense. Here's a story about how a West Seattle jewelry shop owner saved his bacon by shooting an armed robber.
Experts disagree, but by some estimates, personal firearms are used as many as 2.5 million times a year in the U.S. for self-defense. We'll never know for sure, because many who repel threats of violence with firearms don't want to file a report with police.
Can't say as I blame them. You're threatened, you respond, what's left to do, until the next time around? Case in point: this incident occured in the main neighborhood shopping district (known as The Junction) in West Seattle; itself a friendly outpost of about 90,000 people within Seattle city limits.
Despite an increased Seattle Police foot presence in The Junction (which I heartily applaud) this kind of stuff just keeps happening. Seems every month - sometimes every week or two - there's a bank robbery in The Junction. Sometimes the robbers get away, sometimes the dye packet explodes and they're caught. Another jewelry store in The Junction has been hit several times; this winter someone was robbed in a passage-way leading from an arterial street to a parking lot.
On the upside, The Junction is more vibrant than ever. You can barely get into a restaurant on a Friday or Saturday night. More foot traffic will help deter crime. So do legal firearms. Target practice anyone?
February 22, 2004
bin Laden's Hours Numbered?
The Arab Times joins the many other newspapers that are right now trumpeting a London tabloid's report U.S. and British special forces have cornered Osama bin Laden in a Pakistani hideaway. Supposedly, a "U.S. intelligence source" says he's "boxed in" with "up to 50 fanatical henchmen." That very last part is easy enough to believe, at least. Guess we'll see.
Iraqi Sculptor Salutes U.S. Soldiers
According to Iraqi blogger Omar, an Iraqi sculptor who used to fashion likenesses of Saddam has melted down some of those to make a piece in tribute to fallen U.S. soldiers in Iraq. Picture included, take a look.
Thank You, Ralph...Thank you, Thank you, Thank you
Democrats are worried now that Ralph Nader has jumped into the Presidential race as an independent. They should be.
From today's online Weekly Standard (link above):
But will Nader draw as much support this year as he did in 2000? Probably not. After all, plenty of progressives feel that Nader cost Gore the election in 2000. But in a political environment as highly polarized as today's America, says one anti-Nader progressive, just a few thousand--or a few hundred--votes for Nader in select states could cost the Democrats the White House. Again.
CalPundit says fellow Dems and bloggers should just ignore Nader. Many will. But a certain percentage will do more than not ignore Nader: they'll vote for him. Karl Rove couldn't have set things up any better. Now the Deaniacs will have someone to vote for, after all. All Hail The Democratic Wing of The Democratic Party!
UPDATE: Rosenblog reader Lorna Lou sends along this chuckle-worthy Andy Borowitz column on Nader's candidacy, from Jewish World Review. Borowitz doesn't seem to think Nader's much of a threat to anyone but himself.
February 21, 2004
Atlanta Crime Cover-Up Aided '96 Olympics Bid
Man, this one smells bad. The City of Atlanta routinely fudged crime reports to help win its bid to host the 1996 Olympics, according to a city audit.
Police in this relentlessly self-promoting city of the New South routinely altered or suppressed thousands of crime reports in a concerted effort "to improve Atlanta's chances for selection," the audit said, citing interviews with several officers.
Police reports were deep-sixed or permanently misplaced, including at least 22,000 in 2002. An estimated 4,281 of those would have been violent offenses.
Even with years of underreporting, the city was ranked first or second in violent crimes for nine out of the last 10 years, according to FBI data. Atlanta has avoided the overt racial tensions of cities such as Los angeles and New York in recent decades. But officials say it's drugs that have been fueling violent street crime. Not exactly the picture of this progressive Southern city many folks had.
February 20, 2004
We Pay, They Don't
Rick Anderson does a yeoman's job in The Seattle Weekly with this piece on the stunning largesse dispensed by the state legislature via business tax breaks and exemptions. He's outraged, but in a reasonable manner. Of the $64 billion per biennium that's lost (oops, "invested" in economic growth and jobs creation), he highlights just $13 billion in suspended retail and use taxes that are most deserving of collection.
...the certainty of not paying some taxes—sales, property, business, and other levies—is legally guaranteed for an ever-growing, record number of Washington recipients, most of them businesses and corporations. It's kind of a dirty secret, a fact not heard over the caterwauling about Washington's supposedly regressive and unfair business-tax structure.
The $3.2 billion tax incentive package approved to keep production of Boeing's new 7E7 Dreamliner commercial jet in Washington has raised many hackles, but not mine. There's quite a bit that's distasteful about the deal but politically, no governor and legislature could afford to let the project get away from what is still Boeing's "home state" for airliner assembly. However, as Anderson's article suggests, there should be some discrimination in Olympia. Now, every Tom, Dick and Harry with a lobbyist is getting theirs.
There is no compelling evidence most tax breaks in Washington State create much in the way of jobs. That's particularly true for high-tech and bio-tech business tax breaks, according to state sources cited in a strong Seattle Times story by David Postman last year. There's this nugget about two particular high-tech tax breaks:
"We can't prove they work," said Mary Welsh, the Department of Revenue's assistant director in charge of research. "That doesn't mean they're not working. We just can't find any evidence they are."
Such uncertainty isn't limited to high-tech and bio-tech tax breaks in our state, as Postman reported.
It's been equally difficult to judge other tax programs.
Bottom line: government tax incentives and government spending both deserve far better scrutiny. Don't make fiscal policy based on the "benefit of the doubt." Really empower the auditors and fiscal analysts, and turn 'em loose.
February 19, 2004
Botulism in the Social Services Cafeteria
The Associated Press reports the feds give WA state an F in caring for abused, neglected and vulnerable children. A federal Health and Human Services Administration evaluation says our social services bureaucracy responds poorly to reported child mistreatment; doesn't consistently provide services to prevent child abuse; doesn't do well enough in giving foster kids permanent, stable homes; and doesn't provide sufficient mental health treatment for kids in need. Turns out the many other states evaluated so far aren't doing too hot either, but we're especially ineffective.
Probably all true. But here's my question. Why do we always focus on treating the symptoms, rather than the causes? The root issue is parents who've effectively abandoned their children. I'm no "abstinence only" zealot on sex ed, but am continually amazed and dismayed at the number of people (many in their 20s, NOT teens) who become parents, and then blow it off as though kids were dogs to be left at the pound. The role of popular culture in promoting casual sex is given only lip service, likewise the need for more unmarried 20-somethings to consistently use contraception, or abstain.
A far more comprehensive national public information campaign on the realities of parenting should be initiated, with greater federal, non-profit and corporate support. Let's call it, "Wait 'Till You're Really Ready." Maybe if we put a few hip-hop thugs and teen tarts in front of the cameras, it'll work. And how about some clergy in charge of state social services, instead of bureacrats? They don't have to mention religion at all. It's still OK to talk about morality and personal responsibility, though. Right?
I know this: the social services cafeteria approach is insane. And the chunk of the state budget eaten up by this stuff is considerable. For years, Washington State Auditor Brian Sonntag, and a Democratic State Representative from Federal Way named Mark Miloscia have been pushing legislation for comprehensive performance audits, so we can see what programs are meeting their goals and which are wasting money. Last year, it seemd the bill might go somewhere, then it quietly died.
Few in Olympia really want performance audits because a lot of government employee union members might find themselves out of work. No need for the liberal establishment of Washington State to ponder why Tim Eyman's tax-cut initiatives are so popular with voters.
February 18, 2004
All We Have To Fear Is.....
He's The Bomb
There were four unique factors in the calculus involving Saddam Hussein and his so-called weapons of mass destruction: (1) Saddam Hussein had petrodollars to buy such strategic weapons; (2) He had acquired and stockpiled such arms and used them in war against Iran and in peace against his own people; (3) He had a long history of aggression against the United States — from Gulf War I to trying to assassinate an American president; and (4) His Baathist police state had a systematic policy of hiding such weapons, from both the United States postwar intelligence gatherers and the U.N. inspectors.
Most of the U.S. electorate essentially agrees; one reason the "absence" of WMDs isn't a winning issue for Kerry.
Props to Burton Terrace, keeping an eye on Cuba and more.
The Bush Attack on Kerry
Bushies are plotting how to take down Kerry. USA Today with the latest, drawn from interviews with "a dozen Bush insiders in the White House, the campaign and key states:"
Researchers....have examined Kerry's tenure as Massachusetts' lieutenant governor from 1982 to 1984, the 6,500 votes he has cast since he was joined the Senate in 1985....Kerry has left no footprint on Capitol Hill. Kerry has sponsored 371 bills. Nine became law and six of those were more ceremonial...
I think I know who's going to be standing up when that's done.
February 17, 2004
WA State Very Bloggy
At Globe of Blogs, you can search for blogs geographically. The great Evergreen State of Washington, it turns out, has more blogs listed with this indexer than any other U.S. states except California, Florida, Massachusetts and Illinois. Here's a link to Globe of Blogs' Washington State links. There are eight pages worth. Let's see what great undiscovered Washington State blogs lurk in the blogosphere. And how many are the dreaded: student diaries.
UPDATE 2/18: Downer. Yes, bloggers should know who they are, and not be afraid to let it show. But that's not the basis for a blog. Unless it is, unfortunately. Typical blog descriptions from Globe of Blogs' WA state links: "A half-Asian chick in Seattle;" "a gay boy in college;" "all about me and my daughter;" "daily mental meanderings of a geeky hyperactive vegan hippy girl;" and "personal Web log of a 20-something dealing with life."
Then there's "Lonely Latina--All About Me" (relationship drivel); someone else "yapping about stuff that you probably don't care about" (nailed that); another blogger "rambling about nothing" (ditto); "one Leatherperson's view on life and continual exploration" (not going there, thanks); the life of a 21-year-old's struggle for independance (sic)" (seen the movie); and a blog at lustyphonegirls.com. Plus blogs on knitting, promotional novelties, and how to be a Pagan Goddess (isn't that innate?).
YES, I actually looked at all of these, and more like them, via the Globe of Blogs WA links.
CONCLUSION: As with good 'ole Web sites, the free-form anarchy, indulgence and triviality of blogs is an inevitable outcome of free speech and technology. Where there's gold there's tin, too. And there are shortcuts to worthy blogs that reference the outer world, not just a tritely-expressed inner life. But who benefits from "rambling about nothing?" This isn't China, where we might actually need what I call "Trojan Blogs" to complicate matters for government Internet censors (see following item).
Chinese Internet essayist Du Daobin has been formally charged with subversion, for writing what he thinks. An ongoing problem, not getting any better. Or is it?
This lengthy piece in the Asia Times stresses there are really two digital Chinas. One is rife with censorship of political thought; another is supposedly booming with online commerce and ever-so-useful public information from the government. Some observers say Beijing's Net censorship is becoming more subtle, and cannot be sustained, over time.
So what gets censored?
...material cutting across substantive categories, but with special emphasis on regional political issues (Taiwan, Tibet, etc), on religion, on tourism to other countries, on health, and other topics........Today, China's technologies not only block forbidden information....but they also give the state the power to investigate, prosecute, and sanction those who seek and/or receive forbidden information.
Yet a pair of Harvard researchers quoted in the article say Internet censorship in China could be a lot worse - as in Cuba, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates or Iran.
One observes that:
The Chinese experiment now revolves around 'blocking out individual pages rather than whole sites, automatically blocking web searches containing certain search terms, or simply encouraging the use of Internet cafes rather than individualized connections, so usage can be monitored by passersby.'
The more Chinese bloggers, the better. Trojan bloggers, too. Perhaps the censors just won't be able to keep up with them all.
Blogging from Haiti....
...is closerstep, as the bloody battle between rebels and the corrupt, dysfunctional Aristide regime continues to unfold. He's got a mobile camera, and hopes the time for democracy has come. closerstep is no starry-eyed optimist, though. If the rebels take full control, will they empower Haitians to build the political, economic and social infrastructure needed? Or would the new bosses be as bad as the old ones?
if Cap Haitian rebels... then Aristide is finished. If that is the case, then, let us pray that someone who really cares about the country will step up to lead with honor and dignity. The opposition and outrage are well founded. Aristide has done much in the last 10 years to digress the state of the country. The country is the poorest it has been in many decades. The exchange rate it about $8.5 to $1 USD. Aristide has stalled the senate and house elections and has neglected (to) reschedule (them). Thus, Aristide rules by decree.
The coup is verging on civil war. Great news just now, though: Kofi Annan says the U.N. may step up its role in Haiti. At least the U.S. knows to stay out of this one. Had we not put Aristide back in power in '94, it wouldn't still be Groundhog Day in Haiti.
February 16, 2004
Banji Realness Speaks
Since you asked, here's the black drag queen take on gay marriage. I'm not SAYING I agree, just read it.
Wow! Could you possibly buy a computer from Dell after reading this?
The Arcata Eye performs a public service for computer consumers with this guest opinion piece by a local doctor. Caveat emptor! Dude.
When I upgrade - and ahem, that may need to be pretty soon - I'm going to my local indie computer shop. They do a good job, have a good reputation and a real storefront I can go to any day. They've treated me right on repairs, and the owner, as it happens, lives around the corner from me. The antithesis of the faceless mail-order machine I might otherwise choose.
Blogging Down The Good Ole' Boys Club
As blogging becomes more widespread, insurgents will shape local politics and media in new ways, writes David St. Lawrence in his blog, "Ripples."
Once there are hundreds of thousands of bloggers putting down real-time observations about life on this planet, we have a different kind of history being written. I feel it will be much harder to bury news and rewrite history, as blog records are almost permanent and can be instantly recalled for many years.
Of course, people actually have to be paying attention. Remembering what makes blogs different from web sites will help: frequent updatings, new and varied links, and viewable comments. Localized, well-promoted blog portal sites might help, too.
St. Lawrence provides an interesting example of a blogger challenging the status quo: Dave Louthan. He's the guy who killed the first U.S. Mad Cow, and he's got a lot to get off his chest.
All Fake, All The Time
Angry Chinese Blogger says the culture of counterfeited consumer items is holding back the Chinese economy.
All of this has lead to a culture of mistrust, you know that the seller is not widely dishonest but that you are buying a fake. There is more concern and distrust of stores here than in any developed country, it is now a part of the culture and is serving to hold back the emergence of a truly and open free market economy. People are so used to merchants trying to sell low quality goods as high quality merchandise that when something genuine comes along it is often lost amongst the crowd of counterfeits. People aren’t willing to pay the extra for the genuine article because they don’t believe that they are genuine, or that the quality is any better than the quality of the counterfeit items. This perpetuates the cycle of piracy by making genuine CDs, clothes and other goods hard to sell and hard to make a profit from. People would rather buy cheap pirates knowing that they will get what they pay for in quality, rather than buying something that is more expensive, and in their eyes is probably a fake, but at a higher price.
February 15, 2004
That Near-Death Buzz
Three Puget Sound men were killed by an avalanche last week while on an annual ice-climbing trip in the Canadian Rockies. They were climbing an ice waterfall, and one of them was an avalanche safety instructor.
When avalanche safety instructors start getting killed by avalanches, maybe it’s time to re-think the whole winter “extreme sports” paradigm. This is a matter of personal judgement, not government intervention.
Protests of “he died doing what he loved” can’t be too much salve for say, the five- and three-year-old daughters of a Washington State Assistant Attorney General who was killed by an avalanche last winter while backcountry skiing in British Columbia. Another victim in the same party was the founder of an outdoor gear company.
Another batch of avalanche deaths last winter claimed seven lives, including that of a noted “back-country” snowboarder. Officials said, “we don’t know” if his party triggered the fatal avalanche. There had been a forecast of “considerable danger” of an avalanche in the area that day.
The same day this very latest tragedy made the front page, there was another story about a self-described Washington “extreme skier” having portions of his legs amputated several weeks after an unplanned, four-night misadventure. Earlier this winter, three snowboarders were killed in a Utah avalanche. Last winter’s toll also included seven Canadian teens; backcountry skiers and snow-boarders.
But it’s snowmobilers that account for almost half of all U.S. avalanche deaths; well ahead of backcountry skiers and snow-boarders. In California, the U.S. Forest Service has taken to air surveillance and ticketing of “scofflaw snowmobilers” who penetrate off-limits areas.
The quest for “fresh powder” has gone too far. Sure. How can you live in the West or Northwest and not get out, and just maybe, push the limits a bit, in a sailboat, kayak, hiking, or skiing? The mountains and waterways make our region a spiritual oasis. There might be something to that tale about the Lemurians living inside Mount Shasta.
I love a good 12- to 14-hour summer day hike in The Cascades, with up to a 4,000-foot elevation gain. But I stay on-trail, and know when to come home. Like last April, when all of a sudden there was way too much deep, soft snow as I got higher up on a hike off I-90.
One outdoor industry backer of a Western Washington avalanche safety educational group praises the organization’s agenda as “a grassroots attempt to give kids a fighting chance at making good decisions at the right times…”
That’s some aim: a “fighting chance” at not dying in an avalanche.
February 14, 2004
Take a Stroll Through My Right Brain
As DadBlogger so pointedly asked, what's up with all the CD links, anyway? Answer: the amazon.com item-specific connects in the right-hand column (you'll see them as you scroll down) are carefully-considered favorites from a long-time music hound, former DJ, radio station music director and amateur musician (me). No filler on these CDs. Click through on any listed item and see amazon customer comments, and access audio samples.
Music matters to me. I believe that politics and culture are inextricably linked. Young and middle-aged conservatives (and I count myself in the latter category, with some qualifications) are reaching each other and driving U.S. politics partly because they're not the white-bread Church Ladies that liberal fossils imagine.
So listen to some old Johnny "Guitar" Watson, some Derek Trucks, Robert Randolph, Sun Ra, Boyoyo Boys, and Natacha Atlas, while you're reading The Weekly Standard and City Journal......
We'll get into jiggy Islamist dance tunes another time. Or actually, see the item below!
And down the line maybe we'll have the whole "content delivery" discussion (i.e. downloading off the Internet, iPods, etc.).
Butcha know what? It's the content itself, not the delivery system, that rules. Add comments.
QUALITY ASSURANCE on book links, too. What I've begun posting here - right above the CD buy links - will be arresting reading, if you like Rosenblog.
February 13, 2004
Hate Video and Free Speech
British rapper Shaikh Terra has a hit about "Dirty Kuffar" (Unbelievers). The music video is posted on the website of a Saudi exile in the U.K., Muhammad al-Massari, and selling like hotcakes. In the video, Terra says he wants to see Bush and Blair "thrown on the fire."
Osama bin Laden is praised, 9/11 celebrated, and Rice and Powell referred to as "still slaves." al-Massari, who runs the Committee for the Defence of Legitimate Rights in Saudi Arabia, says not to worry, though. "I believe the lyrics are only metaphorical. It is not like this is a fatwa."
Aljazeera reports the video "finishes with images of the hijacked planes flying into the World Trade Centre towers in New York with sounds of the rappers laughing." Sounds pretty metaphorical, all right.
Via Burton Terrace.
Modern Renaissance man John Perry Barlow (Harvard scholar, digital democracy agitator, ex-Grateful Dead lyricist, ex-Wyoming cattle rancher) will be filmed by The Discovery Channel as he attempts to defy death by getting seriously back in shape at the posh Canyon Ranch spa. More here, in his latest post.
Doubtless he's thought about what a steady diet of chili dogs and worse did to Dead icon Jerry Garcia.
BTW, noted liberal Barlow set off a blogstorm in January when he issued a year-end post declaring The Left was becoming too insular and vituperative toward Bush and Bushies. While Barlow's posts are often lengthy, sometimes weeks apart, and - obviously - not always about politics, he's been a strong voice of late against what some call the "silo effect" of blogging. The comment string of the post above shows he hit a responsive chord.
Rigid partisanship drives the "gotcha" fixation of East Coast big media.
Blogger R. Scott Cummins is another man in the middle. He's a real Seattle Republican who says he knows in his heart Rush Limbaugh really IS a big fat idiot.
(Here's my earlier item on Barlow, and Portland blogger Michael Totten, including some interesting Barlow-related links).
February 12, 2004
Viet Vet Blasts Kerry in AJC
John Kerry's record on Vietnam - which includes much more than his service there - is going to blow up in his face, says decorated 'Nam vet Terry Garlock in this Atlanta Journal-Constitution op-ed. If Bush has to prove he wasn't AWOL from the National Guard, I guess maybe Kerry has to prove these charges are false. Haven't heard that yet, though. Serious stuff.
(Thanks to Rosenblog reader Howard Wolf for the tip).
Some Public Schools DO Get It
The Arizona Republic reports students in Mesa are loving a demanding college-prep curriculum called AVID in local public schools. (Via Federal Way, WA school board member Charlie Hoff).
Nearly half the students in the Mesa program are Hispanic, and most will be the first in their families to attend a four-year college.
Smart tack for Mesa's schools. As Joanne Jacobs reports - even with new exit requirements, a high school diploma means just about nothing now.
FYI, Jacobs is a former San Jose Mercury-News columnist doing a must-read education blog. From her home page, link to the NPR discussion titled, "College Prep For All." Other top education bloggers include Kimberly Swygert and ReformK12.
Viva La Revolucion!
Cuban "dissidents" have unveiled a new proposal for Fidel Castro's regime. They'd just like a few little things: free speech, private business ownership and labor unions. They'd probably even be willing to forget about Internet censorship, for now. Too bad freedom in Cuba now means floating to the U.S. on a waterproofed, pontoon-bedecked 1950s American car.
February 11, 2004
The Soul of a Seattle Republican
Blogger P. Scott Cummins is an out-of-the-closet Republican in Seattle. Brave guy!
His essay, "Why the Urbane R?" is worth reading in its entirety.
Here it is.
I am a great source of amusement to my many liberal friends. They, having chosen Seattle, see our city as a shining citadel of progressive ideals. No “Cafeteria Democrats” in our town, picking and choosing from what they wish. Political progressives have flocked to Seattle because they find the kind of commitment which fuels their passion: a solid determination to do and be better than the place from which they came. They came here and met me: Republican, even a staunch supporter of the party. Yet, perplexingly, at the same time liberal by any measure outside of the Seattle-Berkeley-Greenwich Village perspective. How strange. How can you, they ask while busting-up laughing, pick and choose among different issues, yet still be part of “your” movement, they wonder. Where is your passion, your commitment, if you find yourself at odds with conservative ideology regarding abortion, the environment, and corporate welfare? How can you be a Republican and know in your heart that Rush Limbaugh is a big fat idiot?
Here's Cummins' site.
TV Punditry 101
Wanna be a TV political pundit? Here's how, from ABC News' political tipsheet, "The Note."
President Bush's biggest problem right now is ____________ (noun).
He is still quite popular with the Republican base, but it would be nice of the economy would create, say, ____________ (number) jobs before he faces the voters.
Dan Bartlett's television appearances in the last few days make us think of a ____________ (barnyard or circus animal), but Scott McClellan's ____________ (adjective) daily briefing yesterday gave us ____________ (involuntary, violent action).
"Strong Leadership in Times of Change" is a fantastic campaign slogan because it ______________________________ (long, wonky but clever explanation).
BC04 spokesgal Nicole Devenish's position that the Bush campaign took their ad-like video off of the campaign Web site after NBC complained about the use of "Meet" footage because "it's important to have good relationships with the people who are going to cover us this year" would be best taken to heart by ____________________________ (Kerry staffer who should know better).
Sen. Kerry now has ____________ (big number, size depending on which network you trust) delegates, which is around 1/4 of the total he needs to ____________ (verb) the nomination.
The thing most Democrats say Kerry lacks in order to put himself in a position to beat George Bush is a ____________ (noun), while others think he requires a ____________ (adjectival noun or body part) transplant.
Lucky for him, he will have the ____________ (adjective) David Wade with him on the road to help figure all this out.
Although Dean and Edwards will continue their campaigns until ____________ (cliché), ____________ (number exceedingly close to 500) of the Gang of 500 will now turn their focus to the Bush-Kerry match-up.
But ____________ (member of Gang of 500) thinks that a candidate who chooses to stay in the race "after the lights have gone out" shares the logic of ____________ (favorite children's book character).
Bush-Kerry will make the archive of the Yale Daily News ____________ (adjective), and the Bumiller-Betts relationship ____________ (adjective).
Garry Trudeau, on the other hand, will now become ____________ (mysterious adjective).
General Wesley Clark's campaign can be best summed up as ____________ (song title). Sen. Kerry's campaign can be best summed up as ____________ (movie title).
Maureen Dowd will say that Kerry is a ____________ (brand of car). The discussions within the Kerry campaign about how much access to give MoDo to Sen. Kerry will be ________________________ (adjective) and ___________________ (more intense adjective).
When asked about his military service in the 1970s, President Bush has replied ____________ (adv.) that he was in ____________ (name of desirable place).
Democrats now think that the Administration has ____________ (verb) jobs to ____________ (name of desirable place).
The 1972 Alabama National Guard has moved ____________ (proper noun) to ____________ (violent verb).
John Edwards' ____________ (noun) has moved ____________ (plural noun) to ____________ (soothing verb).
President Bush will tell his staff that ____________ (noun or man's name) would have to ____________ (verb) ____________ (adverb/pronoun) before he would agree to let the Commission on Presidential Debates dictate the terms and number of fall debates -- in fact, he will agree to just ____________ (very low prime number).
As for Kerry, to prepare for the debates, he will study tapes of Al Gore debating Bush, and resolve never to ____________ (verb other than "sigh").
The Bush-Kerry battle will also be fought over the airwaves, with both candidates making appearances on unconventional television show, with the President guest-staring on ____________ (WB or UPN program), and Kerry making a cameo on ____________ (second-rate reality show).
The press will begin to speculate about things such as the Kerry summer White House in ____________ (exotic place), and which one of them will somehow get into print the next off-the-record Bill Clinton dinner party talk about Kerry, with an emphasis on Kerry's ____________ (noun).
For Kerry, the campaign will be all about ____________ (noun), ____________ (noun), and Bob Shrum's ____________ (noun).
For Bush, it will be all about ____________ (noun), ____________ (noun), and Maverick Media's ____________ (adjective) ____________ (noun).
Bob Shrum has written ____________ (number) speeches in the last year. His best was delivered by ____________ (name of presidential, gubernatorial, or senatorial candidate).
Shrum, Devine, Donilon, would ____________ (adverb) beat the Glover Park Group at "It's Academic," but the folks at GPG would ____________ (verb) Shrum, Devine, Donilon at __________________ (intense competitive physical activity).
Both Bush and Kerry will trot out cross-party supporters -- besides Zell Miller -- with Kerry bagging ____________ (prominent left-leaning Republican) and the President winning over the support of ____________ (more prominent centrist Democrat).
"90210" is to ____________ (name of current primetime "drama") as 527s are to ____________ (noun).
Rep. Kucinich is so ____________! (name of favorite soap star).
Karl Rove is so ____________! (name of adult cartoon character).
The ____________ (adjective) Republican convention will be held in ____________ (adjective) New York, where the press will focus on _______________ (colorful metaphor). The ____________ (adjective) convention will be held in ____________ (adjective) Boston, where the press will focus on _____________________ (noun).
The Yankees will ____________ (verb) this season's World Series.
Sen. Kerry's eventual running mate will say the Red Sox and the Yankees are ____________ (plural noun /expletive).
On election day voters will base their decisions on ____________ (noun) and discount ____________, ____________ and ____________ (nouns).
Voters will come to see that the trait the two men running for President share above all else is ____________ (shocking noun).
On to the delegate tote board!
(Site link here.)
Get Back on the Meds, Dr.
This remarkable performance by Howard Dean was detailed in today's Chicago Tribune, by veteran political reporter Rick Pearson.
Howard Dean has not exactly been flush with political success on the campaign trail. But that didn't stop Dean, a physician by trade, from sharing his knowledge with a Longfellow Middle School science class in LaCrosse, Wis., on Tuesday.
But they can't vote.
Pro-choice but not Pro-abortion
Outstanding piece by Wendy McElroy at ifeminists on being pro-choice, but still seeing abortion as tragic. Not quite as tragic though, says McElroy, as government telling a woman what she can or cannot do with her body.
Here's some of what she says.
I am pro-choice in the full realization that it is a terrible thing to take a human life. The closer a fetus approaches viability, the closer to terrible abortion becomes. I weigh a fetus' potential against the woman's actuality. I also realize that if a woman cannot say "everything under my skin is 'me' and mine to control," then there is no foundation for individual rights. If people have no right to control their own bodies, then such rights as freedom of speech become non-sequiturs. And, yet, to the core of my being, I dislike abortion.
February 10, 2004
...many of the same folk that wouldn't admit to shaping perceptions of reality for the Black community are falling over themselves for a chance to cash in on their ability to shape fashion. Simmons, Jigga, and the like won't fess up that their music can influence minds when it comes to drug use, violence, sexism, and materialism, but will try to sell you a pair of fifty dollars jeans with their name on it.
On Iraq and Punk Rock
Two great posts from Portland blogger Michael J. Totten. The first, on Iraq, has this indispensable bit of wisdom:
Iraq is critical for strategic reasons. The Middle East will continue cranking out terrorists until its political slum has been renovated. We are not going to be safe as long as the Middle Eastern status quo is tyrannical. Slum-clearance had to start somewhere, and no dictator in that region had as pernicious an influence as Saddam Hussein.
The second Totten item that caught my eye today was about a "sensitive war-mongering" punk-rock musician and blogger named Dr. Frank. He's with The Mr. T. Experience, and started a well-known war blog, The Blogs of War. Now Frank's got a new blog, "Dr. Frank's What's-It." Read his thoughts on touring, politics and more. You can also download his song, "Democracy Whiskey Sexy" - inspired by one Iraqi's post-invasion take on the U.S.
San Francisco Planning "Dream Schools:" Union Fears Changes
San Francisco public schools Superintendent Arlene Ackerman wants to make her system a lot better for under-achieving minority students - and that's got the teachers union in a dither.
The Chron reports Ackerman has unveiled plans for 15 "Dream Schools" in the next two years. Located in or near minority populations, they'll emphasize college prep courses. Students will wear uniforms, the school day will be longer, and (according to another story I've seen), parents will be required to sign contracts committing to serious involvement in their child's education.
Oh, and this, which has the union spitting nails: principals, teachers and teachers aides will have to re-apply for their jobs because Ackerman wants only the best, most committed educators at the Dream Schools.
Like this guy, who spoke to The Chron's Heather Knight.
But not all teachers are concerned about Ackerman's plan. Eric Walker, a seventh and eighth grade social studies teacher at Twenty-First Century, said he will gladly reapply for his job. He said he hopes the rigorous academics envisioned by Ackerman convince his students -- who are largely African American -- to dedicate themselves to school.
Would that the Seattle School Board had the guts to open 15 Dream Schools in SF's mold. Interesting Seattle ties here: support for the Dream Schools plan is coming in part from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. And Ackerman is a former Deputy Superintendent for Seattle Public Schools.
Via The Usual Suspects.
A Woman and her Gun
A 53-year-old Sacramento-area woman, Carolyn Lisle, fetches her gun to repel a parolee trying to break into her home. And what does a local academic "expert" on gun control have to say?
She still might be an idiot.
"...said William Vizzard, chair of the criminal justice department at California State University, Sacramento...'we tend to see ourselves as heroic rather than idiotic.'
February 09, 2004
Seattlesucks.com Fading Fast
Nobody wants to say it, but somebody has to: seattlesucks.com sucks! This local blog built some buzz via mainstream media coverage, but the Pony's one trick is a distant memory now. Seattlesucks.com encourages venting about our city's shortcomings - the idea being to make this great place even better still.
I'm all for that, and have a few peeves of my own. These include: more Italian restaurants than actual Italians; skittish locals who jump out of their skin when you're standing behind them at a pedestrian crossing downtown and actually talking at a volume greater than 35dB; and finally, the narrow tastes of supposedly hip music writers at local alternative weeklies.
But Steele, dude, your two or three measly posts a month just don't cut it. Despite your site's well-catalogued publicity in local and out-of-town publications, it seems your 7.5 seconds are up! If you can't live up to your blog's title, just pull the plug!
Maybe Money DOES Grow on Trees
Bush is getting his conservative base steamed, writes Quin Hillyer of The Mobile Register, via the SF Chron Sunday opinion pages. Hillyer says the President isn't fighting for his judicial nominees; and has abandoned any attempt to control illegal immigration from Mexico, in order to win votes. He's also spending like a drunken sailor; and playing politics with tariffs, subsidies and corporate incentives, charges Hillyer.
Actually, putting a man on Mars is a wonderful idea and a worthy long-term project. But not if it can't be paid for while we're fighting terrorists on Planet Earth. Is there anything at all, pray tell, to which this president will say no? This second President Bush might be far better, on foreign policy and on taxes, than his father was. He's certainly better than any of the Democratic alternatives. But when it comes to other domestic concerns, he's positively Johnsonian and Nixonian: Politics first, and all fiscal concerns blithely ignored in a quest for re-election. As Richard Nixon once told his Cabinet, so too does George W. Bush choose to operate: Whenever in doubt, "Go spend some money."
So, where's a real conservative to go?
The Hamlet Factor
Hugh Hewitt lays out why Kerry can't beat Bush. It's pretty simple, actually.
Kerry seems set on a strangely nostalgic course: An anti-war campaign by a Senator who voted for the war. Which is a bit like the war-hero who came back from war only to testify --falsely-- to the war crimes he and his colleagues committed. I get the sad sense that Kerry's going to be campaigning against himself for the next nine months, the sort of self-indulgent psycho-drama that the self-absorbed among the boomers love but which the rest of us view as narcissism.
Via Power Line.
February 08, 2004
The Estimable Boingo Ouvre
Outside the Tractor last night, we met a guy who's planning to produce an Oingo Boingo tribute album. Maybe you remember this tepid 80s pop-rock band. Then again, perhaps you don't. (Last year, O.B. earned #16 on the 50 Worst Bands list of Blender. That's saying something: Blender is a hot new music mag from the publisher of ever-tasteful Maxim. You'll understand the whole Janet thing a lot better if you click thru).
So a Boingo tribute album. Has it come to this? 'Scuse me, I'm putting on some Hasil Adkins.
The Soviet of Washington Speaks
Some revealing numbers from yesterday's Washington Demo caucuses and the Michigan primary. Not only did Howard Dean get 30% in WA versus 17% in MI; here in the Evergreen State Dennis Kucinich bested John Edwards and Wesley Clark (8%, 7% and 3% respectively). That's got to be a huge blow to Clark's Puget Sound crew, who foolishly thought they were on to something.
C&W Gangsta Rap, & much more
A mandolin-playing co-worker of my wife's said we HAD to see the Asylum Street Spankers when they came to Seattle. So last night we did. I was dubious because they were described as somewhat vaudeville. I was pleasantly surprised. This acoustic septet from Austin proffered plenty of vaudeville mannerisms but also slinky jazz ballads, blues, Django Reinhardt-esque swing guitar, and a mind-bending gangsta rap/country-and-western-murder-ballad fusion called "Hick Hop." Another high point: the great, uber-bluesy cover of Muddy Waters' "Got My Mojo Working," with a front line doing ersatz Motown guy-group choreography.
A shout out to Seattle's primo roots music venue, The Tractor Tavern. Not only for booking the Spankers, but for offering an early show attractive to 40-something geezers paying a babysitter.
BONUS EXTRA: From the Spanker website, here's the link to a Swiss sheep farm they've visited. Look at the picture. Don't you wanna go, too?
Ex-Boston Globe writer: the South is still odious
Maybe John Kerry was right: he doesn't need the South to win the Presidency. So says Curtis Wilkie in today's Boston Globe. The prototypical Southern voter isn't a pick-up driving good 'ol boy waving the Confederate flag, but a socially conservative Rotarian, says the ex-Globe political writer and Mississippi-based journalism scholar. Let the GOP play to this religiously-motivated base; against gay marriage, and against choice on abortion, and for firm gun rights and the death penalty. A few Buchanan moments could result at the GOP convention. Something like that would disgust enough swing voters to vault a Democrat into the White House as in 1992, says Wilkie.
(Mmmm, if Kerry's success hinges on that level of GOP stupidity, he really may be crisp and buttered).
And Wilkie's description of the real South today still seems a charicature of small-town life. Atlanta, Charlotte, Houston, Austin, and Dallas are full of Northern transplants, secular humanists, immigrants from all corners of the globe, even gays.
The prevailing winds in the South have always been conservative, but Southern conservatism no longer reflects an allegiance to the Confederacy or a red-necked, know-nothing opposition to racial integration. Southern politics is now dominated by a faith-based devotion to the values taught in the fundamentalist Protestant churches that occupy important street corners in every town. In the ministry of these white Southern churches, gay rights are abhorrent and no woman is entitled to the right of abortion. The death penalty is an Old Testament-proven means of punishment. The Constitution's Second Amendment, which speaks of the right to bear arms, is preferable to the First, which guarantees freedom of speech. Drinking is forbidden, and dancing skirts close to the sins of the flesh. Biblical injunctions against race-mixing are occasionally cited to justify private church schools that enable local whites to circumvent integration in the public schools. At the same time, separating the affairs of church and state is thought of as a Godless device designed to deny schoolchildren prayer. The fundamentalist doctrine is strong and sometimes administered by angry preachers as fevered as Middle East mullahs.
Phew! Wait a minute, did this guy cover seven presidential campaigns for an, uh, Boston, paper? Wilkie says his socially-conservative Southern Babbit is better than a "Deliverance"-style redneck, but not by much, it appears.
If Kerry's going to write off the South, he'll have to unclench his butt and mix it up in the Plains states and the Southwest. More gun photo-ops, JFK! And how about a coherent stand on Iraq, terrorism, and national security?
February 07, 2004
On to the Slaughter
Bring it on, as Dubya might say. Bush beats Kerry in November, barring another 9/11. His-less-than-perfect record aside, Bush knows who he is and what he believes in. Kerry is a blow-dried stiff, an aristocrat in search of an image, who doesn't know what he's about. A tip to George, though: ditch Cheney. He deserves it, and it'll make the going easier. Give Rudy a call.
Mugabe the Berserk
Zimbabwe's only independent newspaper, The Daily News, has ceased publishing. This follows a Supreme Court ruling that newspapers cannot publish nor journalists work without a government license. Dictator Robert Mugabe's fingerprints are all over this. The Guardian (UK) has more.
The Daily News is Zimbabwe's most popular newspaper with a readership of 1 million. It is the country's only daily newspaper that gives voice to the opposition and to civic society.
Australia shares with America certain maladies of the modern age, such as work-stressed parents stressing their kids when they come home at night. The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Grumpy, bad-tempered, stressed-out parents are the bane of children's lives. As new Australian research emphatically shows, we have been asking the wrong questions all these years, at least of mothers.. Via ifeminists.
February 06, 2004
Government the Benevolent
The blanket libertarian approach to governance is shot all to hell by the National Do Not Call Registry, something legislators actually did right.
I waited too long but finally registered last fall, and the tele-hucksters are out of my life for good. (It takes three months to kick in).
But then yesterday, one of the vermin phoned. Some oily-sounding 50-something guy peddling auto glass or aluminum siding or roofing (I forget).
He called me "Mr. (my wife's last name)," and started his spiel. I just said, "Gee, we've been on the Do Not Call Registry for quite some time now."
Shuffling, scrambling sounds; phone mouthpiece gets covered; he hangs up in a panic. He had already mentioned the name of his client, of course, so under law, I could file a complaint. But his distress was re-assuring.
A FLIGHT OF FANTASY
Speaking of government the benevolent, I'd like to see more federal health/safety oversight of poultry, cows, and commercial airplanes. Long arm of government, burdensome compliance initiatives? Peachy! Homeland security? Spend whatever it takes, but spend it smart. A larger army, AND better weapons and warplanes (I'm thinking helicopters especially) are also on my wish list.
As long as we're way up in the blue, blue sky, here's more.
Spending cuts: about 25 to 33 percent of federal government and programs over the next decade, in stages. The President and Congress, by law, set policy priorities, and assign each one a given percentage every budget cycle. They adopt the budget. THEN the fun begins.
A Congressionally-empowered, blue-ribbon federal performance audit commission trims each budget according to the 10-year plan, adopted Congressional budget priorities, and the best available evidence on demonstrated effectiveness (or lack of same) of the proposed expenditures. Best practices only.
Top-flight staffers get six-figure salaries, massueses, gourmet take-out, on-site exercise facilities, hot tubs and conjugal visits. It takes a three-quarters vote of the House and Senate to prevent the audit commission's recommendations from becoming law.
Against odds, bloggers - and then big media - push the cause. A visionary presidential candidate champions the plan, or something similar, in 2008, and wins. Races for Congress and Senate likewise cotton to this issue.
A few thoughts about the revenue side: give the same type of scrutiny to corporate tax breaks - prove which types really stimulate investment and new jobs, ditch the rest. No methodological BS allowed.
Tax breaks for the middle class are good.
Our household's refund checks the last two years went straight into the regional economy.
February 05, 2004
On the Rebound
Real Clear Politics not only blogs the day's dozen or so best opinion pieces on their homepage, they also do their own commentaries elsewhere on their site. Here, some choice RCP insights on Howard Dean, John Kerry, and - oh yes - John Edwards.
Despite Kerry's big victories last night and the widespread support he's winning from all types of Democrat voters, I can't help but feel we're witnessing more of a shotgun wedding than a love-at-first-sight, happily-ever-after type of commitment. After all, just six weeks ago 80 to 90 percent of Democrats wanted nothing to do with John Kerry whatsoever. Now they're rushing forward to sing his praises.
Winner as Loser
Pretty decent Feb. 6 Boston Globe piece by local writer Eli Sanders, on Kerry vs. Dean in the Saturday Washington State caucuses.
But could it be the kiss of Washington caucus participants is also the kiss of death? Consider this salient factoid, from Sanders' piece.
Gary Hart swept Washington's 1984 caucuses. Michael Dukakis won in 1988 and Paul Tsongas won big here in 1992.
Bad Baby Names Aplenty
Rosenblog reader Alex Bensky says I shouldn't get too happy about the apparent decline of pretentious, WASP-sounding last names used as first names for kids. There are still oodles of truly horrible baby names being slapped upon unsuspecting newborns. Take a look at this array of links to bad baby names, and related discussion, at Not Without My Handbag. (Thanks for the tip, Alex).
Here are some standouts, from present and past: Wren, Zavary, Toka, Orion, Oleo, Cinsere, Rodana, Bow Hunter, Kaliope, and DeVodka.
UPDATE: these comments from visitors.
Alex Bensky notes: "My favorite from this site--by no means the worst, but still my favorite--is 'Espn,' pronounced 'Espin.' Yes, somewhere out there is an unfortunate little boy whose parents named him after the cable sports channel."
(Ed. - Alex, you're right, this is a truly horrid thing).
Seattle-ite Greg Piper (see my blogroll link to his site), adds: "What's so bad about DeVodka? Your kid's education could be sponsored by Absolut."
A Tacoma Parent for Charter Schools
Rosenblog reader Scott D. of Tacoma e-mails about why he'd love to see charter schools allowed in Washington (legislation is alive in Olympia right now). Scott is a public school parent and PTA member, by the way.
"I would love to have my kid in a charter school where the teacher had a little bit more say in who stays in their class room. My kid has three unruly children in his 1st-grade class. Two of the three have had suspensions this year and one of them was delayed coming into school, (having been) suspended last year.
Damn, right on, Scott.
BTW, there was an outstanding guest opinion piece about charter schools in today's Seattle Times from Robin J. Lake, Seattle parent and Associate Director of the UW's Center on Reinventing Public Education. She reveals how little opportunity for charter-like innovation is possible without charters here, and how innovators are leaving for out-of-state charters. This brain drain must be reversed.
Rossi’s No Stiff
Watch out for Republican Dino Rossi; he clobbered the competition in a recent WA gubernatorial debate. At least that’s the take from one savvy Democratic state legislator, who I’m going to ironically call “Political Insider” or "PI." Earlier this week, PI watched TVW’s broadcast of the Jan. 30 GovGabfest in Seattle, sponsored by the Associated General Contractors of Washington.
Attendees included purported frontrunner, Democrat and current State Attorney General Christine Gregoire; Democratic competitor Phil Talmadge (a former State Supreme Court Justice and legislator); and the “no-chance” Republican Rossi (former State Senate Ways and Means Chair).
Here are PI’s e-mailed impressions, which ought to worry the hell out of Democrats.
“Amazed at how real and smooth Rossi is. Great packaging. Upbeat, and talking like a person might actually want to be talked to. Very convincing on how government must do better. Clintonesque.
Again, this is from a DEMOCRAT.
The debate will be re-broadcast on TVW this Saturday, Feb. 7 at 8 p.m. An audio archive should be available at TVW's 2004 Campaigns and Elections Archive. The "listen" link wasn't up right now, but they tell me it will be soon.
February 04, 2004
Let it Flow
Iraq's oil industry is rebounding impressively, but sabotage by terrorists - oops, "insurgents" - is still a big problem. The story, from SF Chron reporters in Kirkuk. A few highlights below.
"An industry that was incapable of moving a drop of oil in April now is close to producing at prewar levels....Since June, (American advisor Robert) McKee said, Iraq has exported 220 million barrels, earning $5 billion. The money goes to a fund controlled by the occupation authorities, who use it to buy food for Iraqis, rebuild damaged oil equipment and buy supplies for security forces.... By the end of this month, the number of guards is expected to increase to 14,500. The extra security is beginning to pay off. Last month, guards at Daura refinery foiled intruders and uncovered 80 containers of explosives."Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 04:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Don't Step on the Plover Eggs
Stupid people will stomp on, or otherwise damage Western Snowy Plover eggs in beach nests - so close parts of beaches from March to September to protect breeding grounds. Otherwise this "endangered species" could become extinct. That's the result of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ruling in 1993, for Surf and Ocean Beaches in Santa Barbara County.
Now, the City of Morro Bay and a local citizens group concerned about tourism spending impacts are challenging what they call the "junk science" behind the decision, in a new lawsuit. More here from the Contra Costa Times.
Maybe some protective signage, a broader public information campaign, and a more faith in human nature would suffice to protect the plover eggs.
While there may not be any endangered species habitats on Seattle's Puget Sound beaches, there are very prominent warnings posted against removing marine life. I've stopped several young "adult" know-nothings from illegally poaching live bounty off the beaches here, and heard countless parents give similar warnings to their children.
It seems pretty draconian that portions of public beaches - the lifeblood of many waterfront communities - should have to be declared off limits based on the assumption that man and nature cannot co-exist.
Dr. Dean, Your Ride Awaits
WA State Dem Down on Dean
Washington State blogger Mitch Ratcliffe is very intent on seeing George Bush defeated, but skewers Howard Dean as unable to take responsibility for his campaign's fading hopes. Ratcliffe says "uncommited" is the best vote right now at Washington's Saturday Demo prez caucuses. I couldn't get the permalink to the item to work (sorry, Mitch), so the link above is simply to Mitch's blog - one well worth bookmarking.
Here's a brief excerpt from his take yesterday a.m. on the Democratic race.
The "I have a scream speech" showed that he (Dean) was willing to ignore most of America; it is the fact that he didn't turn his attention to the national audience when he had it—when he could speak to ordinary Americans—that betrays a failure of imagination.
Hat tip to Doc Searls' Weblog for the find.
Blog scores sleaze scoop
So what media outlet got the goods first on the Janet Jackson breast-baring "wardrobe malfunction" at the Super Bowl halftime show? A decidely non-mainstream blog, reports online journalism blogger Adrian Holovaty. Given the event's seismic - and beneficial - repercussions, alterting us all to the entrenched culture of sleaze we so gliby tolerate on most days, that's quite a piece of work. Here's Holovaty's report. Via Jeff Jarvis' buzzmachine.com.
February 03, 2004
Fey kid monikers fading
Dunno about you, but I'm oh-so-tired of kids named Tyler, Carter, Winston, Madison, and such. Even the "nature" line (i.e. Sierra, Dakota, etc.) isn't as bad.
It's the WASP thing. I'm waiting for (or more likely missed) the movie scene where some parent introduces their four kids and they all have those icky last-names-first, and it sounds just like a Philadelphia law firm.
You ever hear of a kid with a JEWISH last name as a first name? "Hi, this is my son, Klein Rosenberg." Sure. (Never mind Strauss Zelnick, he's an anomaly).
So...I guess I'm mostly heartened by this news, courtesy of MSNBC, that naff WASP-y names are on the outs. Only one makes the top ten for girls, Madison (sigh); and just one for boys, Carter.
FYI, our son is named Max. We needed something short, punchy, classic, and Jewish-last-name-compatible. I still can't believe my wife wanted "Fiona" for the girl. Lovely name. But with "Rosenberg?" I suggested "Nola", but my mom said no, sounds like a New Orleans hooker (not good).
So we chose Ava, a lovely name if I say so myself. "So Eastern European," my mother-in-law said, of both our kids' names. Yes, I suppose so.
Strongman plays ball
You don't hear boo about Arnold Schwarzenegger in the national media now, because the easy gibes have to be tested against his actual performance. And while obviously it's still early, he's been impressing players in Sacramento as engaged in his job, smart and serious about his agenda. East Bay conservative opinion columnist Jennifer Nelson, a regular online contributor to the SF Chronicle, has this report.
He's asked the legislature for a major worker's compensation reform plan by March 1. On March 2, Californians vote on The Governator's borrowing measure to help dig out a bit from the state's deficit; and on a Democratic-sponsored initiative that would require fewer legislators' votes to approve the state budget and raise taxes.
Whatever happens in March, the fiscal conservative CEO and tax-friendly lawmakers will be doing serious battle. Nelson concludes:
I hope Schwarzenegger is looking for a house with a pool, because Sacramento's summers are long and hot -- especially when you're spending days on end locked in a room arguing budget policy with people who won't recognize their addiction to government spending.
Anti-depressants for teens: Ecch!
Putting teens on anti-depressants is about the most utterly crackpot thing imaginable. It's a horrid substitute for more engaged parenting. Thanks to Big Pharma, the Food and Drug Administration has to "study" whether it might dare give stronger warnings to doctors about anti-depressant side-effects for teens, such as suicidal thoughts or actions, hostility and violence.
Now, the NYT reports, the head of an FDA advisory panel says the agency should go ahead right away and stress the potential side effects more strongly to doctors. Seems like the least they could do.
Here's an excerpt from the Times article:
In December, British drug regulators told doctors to stop writing new prescriptions for children under 18 for six newer antidepressants because the potential risks outweighed benefits. Use of the drugs might still be warranted in some cases, the regulators said, and they exempted Prozac from the order.
On the bus for education
Eugene, Oregon might name a new school after almost-local boy made good/bad/ugly Ken Kesey. Then again, they might not. So he took a lot of hallucinogens. He also wrote two great novels, raised kids (that must have been interesting), took some really cool rides up and down the Left Coast in a wildly-painted bus, and played the nose flute (I experienced this last part personally). So how's this: The Ken Kesey Academy of Higher Learning? Hat tip to OddBlog.
Slavery isn't over
Seattle blogger Greg Piper (nice blog, Greg!) has an item about beggar-kids who are actually working for slave masters. There's a link to the must-read National Review Online piece. Modern-day slavery is alive, and all too well. (That includes the U.S., by the way). Here's the U.S. State Department's 2003 "Trafficking in Persons Report." The American Anti-Slavery Group is doing great work against global slavery.
Dr. Bill on Bush ticket?
Getting Cheney off the '04 ticket is a good idea. If not Rudy Giuliani, how about U.S. Sen. Bill Frist? The doctor-politician with major mojo - and now, ricin - is being mentioned as a possibility, by rumor-mongers at the Above Top Secret News Network. Via Just Playing.
Portland bloggers in the house
Some Portland and Oregon blogger links here, courtesy of Oregon Live, which is affiliated with The Oregonian, Portland's daily newspaper. Check 'em out, let me know who you like and why. I'll be doing the same. One ace national blogger linked to from the list is Portland writer Michael Totten. Give him a look.
February 02, 2004
Humboldt lefties want their BBC
From the erstwhile Arcata Eye, comes this:
Humboldt County residents oppose potential new ownership and format changes at KZPN-FM, a regional radio station that broadcasts U.S.-bashing BBC news, twice daily. They're aghast that the BBC could be replaced with "corporate-sponsored" NPR news. (That NPR, a real tool of the establishment, alright!)
The activists have an idea, though, if the BBC segments must go the way of Saddam: replace The Beeb's cultured commissars of containment with "other countries world news services, like Canada, The Netherlands, Cuba..."
Well.....Arcata is where the City Council gladly spent weeks on public forums regarding a proposed measure to condemn the Iraq War.
Maybe Radio (Not So) Free Fidel would be a great fit!
A Democratic war on terror
To win the presidency back, Democrats will have to outflank George Bush with a tougher stance on national defense, and less ambiguity over Iraq, writes Walter Russell Mead in the LA Times. (Free site registrartion required).
To win the White House back, it may not be enough for Democrats to go along more or less reluctantly with Bush's war policy. They may need to articulate an even tougher policy against our terrorist enemies and the countries that aid them. For example, Democrats in Congress could introduce a bill to make it harder for immigrants from countries that condone terror to enter the United States. Or one that would make it easier for the families of terror victims to sue, say, European and Middle Eastern banks and other companies that have done business with terrorist organizations. They could announce a strategy for the war on terror that is more comprehensive than anything the Bush administration has offered — and they could attack the administration for lacking a strategy for victory.
Mead is on the money. Too bad the Democrat best-suited to take his advice, Joe Lieberman, is fading fast.
Except for Lieberman, John Edwards is probably the only current Democratic presidential contender who could credibly advance the hard line Mead sensibly recommends. It's not that you can't Google up some Edwards wishy-washiness on Iraq, for instance. You can. But he's dissembled a lot less than Kerry on that.
Bush has angered Democrats to the point that the party is willing to unite behind an electable moderate. But are Democrats angry enough to challenge Bush's war strategy as too weak? Until they are, they may not be mad enough to win.
Mead's piece comes via realclearpolitics.com, which blogs opinion pieces from leading U.S. newspapers and magazines, daily. Bookmark that site!
Hands Across Taiwan
Citizens of Taiwan are flexing muscle - again - in their push for greater independence from China.
This AP report in today's Chicago Sun-Times says 70,000 Taiwanese formed a 40-mile human chain to protest China's continued strong-arming of the rival, island nation. It's a warm-up for an even longer human-chain protest on Feb. 28, of 190 miles. In a March national referendum, Taiwanese will vote on strengthening their defense capabilities if China won't withdraw almost 500 missiles pointed at Taiwan.
The story quotes former Taiwanese President President Lee Teng-hui telling a crowd, ''China has not eased its ambition to take over Taiwan, and we have to show our objection.''
To provide a better standard of living for its own people, China must make friends and influence people globally. That means a less aggressive foreign policy until China's Communist dictatorship permits essential freedoms at home.
A little too easily,President Bush is playing to China, by opposing the referendum and parroting China's "One China" line on Taiwan.
Perhaps from a larger geo-political perspective, it makes sense for the U.S. to tread softly here with the Chinese. They're a huge force to be reckoned with, the thinking goes, and over time, economic ties between China and the West will grow. This in turn should help pave the way for democratic principles to better inform China's domestic and foreign policy. Why get China cheesed by voicing support for Taiwan's full independence?
Perhaps Taiwan could ultimately accept a formalized unification if China becomes truly Democratic. That's one point made by Mark Palmer in "Breaking The Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust The World's Last Dictators by 2025." Palmer is former U.S. ambassador to Hungary, and serves of the boards of Freedom House and the Council for a Community of Democracies.
The Palmer book's strategic vision for promoting global democracy is valuable; likewise its nation-by-nation rundown of the 40-plus despots still in power around the world. Palmer's overview on Chinese dictator Jiang Zemin is pretty sobering.
China needs to gets its own house in order before aspiring to empire.
UPDATE: Here's a December piece from the lefty online publication alternet by G. Pascal Zachary, saying Democratic presidential candidates should highlight Bush's appeasement of China at Taiwan's expense. Is this really about a tougher line on global democracy, or just tweaking Bush? I'm not sure, but Bush - while he'll probably get my vote - needs to get a bit more exercised about the trampling of democratic principles by China and Saudi Arabia.
February 01, 2004
New SF Mayor Newsom: one to watch
Newly-elected San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is coming out of the gate strong on what's probably the dominant issue in local politics there: the city's intractable homeless population.
This Sunday SF Chron article lays out what he's up to; real progress may occur. A key policy objective is low-cost "supportive housing" for the 60 to 66 percent of the local homeless population NOT defined as "hard-core."
I don't know what impressions conservatives and moderates have of the City by the Bay. But despite its pockets of squalor, I find it one of the most magical places around.
I say that having traversed almost every last inch of (three-quarters) of San Francisco on foot, and via public transit in the last several years; sometimes with one or two of our kids in tow.
(My first visit was in The Summer of Love, although I was a bit too young to get in on the action).
More here and here on my impressions of San Francisco and the body politic, from my regular, alternate-Wednesday, opinion section guest columns in The Seattle Times. (Reminder - the free Times registration is easy, so just do it!).
I prefer Seattle as a home, and place to raise kids. But SF's pulsating vibe is like few other U.S. cities. As in Seattle, you have to get away from the usual tourist haunts. It's all about the neighborhoods. Bernal Heights, Portero Hill, The Mission District, Noe Valley, Sunset, and the tree-less, multi-culti splendor of The Richmond. I could go on.
One great spot, north of Geary Blvd., way out west, is Ansel Adams' old neighborhood, Sea Cliff - with great Bay, Marin headlands and Golden Gate Bridge views, from China Beach. Unfortunately, we have no friends in Sea Cliff, or Pacific Heights.
Some SF friends of ours live right in the Mission. They love their neighborhood and city, but aren't too crazy about the discarded needles and gunfire in the alley behind their over-priced, cramped home.
Former Board of Supervisors member Newsom was a key political ally of termed-out Mayor Willie Brown, a classic wheeler-dealer hated by "progressives" for his coziness with developers and his oily political personnae. Yet Newsom, though also supported by the city's business establishment, is no Brown clone. And he's young.
Watch Newsom. I think he's ready to take names, kick butt, and make this great city even greater.
Gavin's got to be eventually charting a course to higher office. And he's a Democrat who managed to survive a Gore endorsement, beating rabid Green Matt Gonzalez in the final December run-off.
Maybe Newsom dukes it out with The Governator in a few years?
There'd be a contest. I like Arnold so far. He's really trying. Who, exactly, keeps all their campaign promises, anyway? To skeptics, I say, track his performance, outreach and coalition-building. Then the results. Same with Newsom.
The Amish Street is paved with?
OK, this could be really interesting. A reality TV show featuring Amish teens on the prowl, off the rez. They'll be making sure they really want to commit to the Amish way of life.
Any suggestions about where they might go to experience the essence of Western Civ, U.S. style?
Now that I think of it, I remember seeing groups of Amish folk at The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago in the 70s, when I worked there high-school summers as a guide-lecturer. And you do see Amish groups navigating cities, occasionally.
I respect their willingness to go outside their comfort zone, and draw what they can from another world (and it IS another world, altogether). Perhaps we can all learn from that.
Some Amish burghers have gone too far, however (for Amish people, that is), getting heavily into modern ways, money and limousines. This according to a helluva Wall Street Journal article a year or two ago, impeccably researched and sourced, like so much of their reportage. I'll see if I can dig it up and post it here later.
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