March 31, 2004

Daschle's Very Own Nader?

Don't blame Tom Daschle if he's feeling crabby. The U.S. Senate Minority Leader and South Dakota Democrat will be squaring off against Republican John Thune in November to keep his seat. But now Tim Giago, a prominent Native-American and publisher of the Lakota Journal, has jumped into the contest. As an independent. In a state where Democrats have always relied on Native-American voters to help put them over, this could spell trouble for the Senate's top D. The Rapid City Journal reports:

Bill Richardson, political science professor at the University of South Dakota, said Giago's decision could alter the result of the November general election, which also features Republican John Thune, a former U.S. representative.

'It could influence the race big-time,' Richardson said. 'The obvious possibility is that he will take away votes that possibly would have gone to Tom Daschle.'

The situation is similar to Ralph Nader running on the Green Party ticket in 2000 presidential race and as an independent in 2004, Richardson said. Nader was blamed for costing Vice President Al Gore the presidency by attracting voters who might have preferred Gore to George W. Bush.

'This is as is the case with Ralph Nader in the presidential contest. The only question is how many and how crucial they will be in a close election,' he said.

Citing failed Big Government policies, Native Americans in South Dakota have already begun defecting from the Democratic Party, with an eye on Republican Thune in the fall contest versus Daschle, as I noted here. So, Giago could possibly take some votes from Thune. But he'll take more from Daeschle.

Terry McThoughtless can't be happy about this.

Hat tip to Gary B.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:55 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

U Michigan's Hometown Short on (Political) Diversity

The Ann Arbor News editorial page today tries to goad local Republicans into naming a mayoral candidate, already, though the filing deadline is more than a month off. One local R says the party "may be on life support."

Too bad there aren't non-partisan elections in this hard-core liberal university town (it's where my parents met, by the way). The News notes this'd mean...

.....candidates advocating positions Republicans favor could more easily get elected. But that's not about to happen anytime soon.

Hmmn. Wonder why?

It's not as though the current Democratic city administration exactly has its act together, as The News points out in this editorial on a botched local election.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Getting a Great Education, From the Department of Defense

A little bit of kick-butt discipline and focus apparently go a long way in public schooling. USA Today reports that public schools run at military facilities by the Defense Department inspire "fierce devotion" and outstanding results, notably including minority students.

...Students at the schools consistently rank near the top on federal reading, writing and math tests. And 50 years after the legal end of school segregation, the Pentagon's schools are models of integration and strong minority academic achievement. Last year, black and Hispanic eighth-graders in these schools outperformed their peers in all 50 states in reading.

'I think this is the finest school system in the world,' said Claire Smrekar, an associate professor at Vanderbilt University, who co-wrote a report on minority academic performance at Defense schools.

'There are excellent schools all over this country,' Smrekar said. 'But the consistency with which this school system delivers high performance and produces outstanding outcomes for these kids and their families is unprecedented.'

The military's little-known school system enrolls about 100,000 children — a fraction of the kids in military families — attending 220 schools around the globe. Nearly 30,000 of those children attend the stateside Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools, a system roughly the same size as the Des Moines, school district. The 69 schools that make up the domestic system are scattered throughout seven states and two U.S. territories and Cuba.

Teachers union honchos and their members need to hear more. Instead of wasting time and dues money trying to overturn our state's new charter school law, the Washington Education Association should schedule a presentation to its full membership by Smrekar. Assuming the WEA's "leadership" is actually interested in excellence, as opposed to feather-bedding.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:25 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

From His Pen To Allah's Ear

In a letter made public, a top official of The Muslim Council of Britian urges Muslim religious leaders to tamp down terrorism with "utmost vigilance."

The letter comes from Iqbal AKM Sacranie, Secretary General of the MCB. It was planned after the March 11 train bomb killings of 190 in Madrid by suspected Islamic extremists. It was re-drafted and made public, however, only after yesterday's arrests of eight, British-born Pakistanis linked to a half-ton of explosives material police believe was intended for terrorist attacks in England.

The BBC, in another story today, makes it pretty clear the eight suspects are believed to be Islamic extremists.

BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner said the raids followed the infiltration of alleged extremist Islamist groups.

The message from the Muslim Council to the Muslim faithful comes none to soon, according to some commenters at the BBC's site today (see story link above).

Some samples:

This is crunch time for the Muslim 'community' in the UK. Anything short of outright and voluble condemnation of terrorism constitutes ambivalence. It is time for the much-vaunted but rarely seen 'moderate majority' to demonstrate its investment in British society...Matt, Dubai, UAE

I am a Muslim and totally against violence from any quarter, be it Muslim, Jew or Christian. Terrorists must be punished as they are acting against God's law on peace, tolerance and understanding. Haluk Savas, London.

Working with Muslim youngsters, it is clear to me that there is a deep vein of 'radicalism' within their religion. They separate themselves from their peers and their behaviour borders on arrogance and ignorance. They must realise that they will be treated with distrust and scepticism until they actively integrate themselves into the mainstream British community. Chris, Birmingham.

Despite the MCB denouncing terrorism, Muslims have always given the impression of being equivocal about terrorism. This maybe a reflection of Islam's lack of hierarchy which is both a strength and a weakness.
Steve A, UK.

I am very disappointed, by the activities of these fringe elements to undermine the hard fought and gained cultural tolerance in this country. Not only is it every Muslim's duty to watch their community's activities but we all have to be vigilant and pull together. A bomb in a big city does not discriminate religion. Siltanu, London.

Credit must go to the MCB for this move. It is not easy for the law-abiding Muslim majority in this climate of Islamic terrorism. However this sort of action is just the sort of thing that will reassure the general public that the Muslim community is also doing all it can to combat terrorism. This in turn will help make the Muslim community as a whole feel less persecuted. Richard, London.

I am a Muslim and I consider myself to be a mix of the East and West culture. This can mean at times I feel ousted by both sides and fall right in the middle into no-man's land. Regardless of this predicament I will always say what I consider to be right and fair. I am pleased to hear the Muslim Council of Britain has taken the unprecedented step of making an authoritative voice across Britain. I believe strong, sensible and single leadership for Muslims is what is lacking. In this event it shows to the rest of the country we don't agree with terrorism. Khalid Hashmi, Luton, Bedfordshire.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 07:36 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 30, 2004

Uzbekistan's Freedom Fighters

Reuters scare quotes around the word(s) "terrorist(s)" are nothing new, and you get that here, in their story about 20 Muslim headcases blowing themselves up in Uzbekistan because their government was on to them. But some of the barely-disguised editorializing in the article is hard to swallow. As in:

Western countries and rights groups have criticized the ex-Soviet state for using tough tactics against Islamic opposition, including accusations of widespread torture....Two groups, the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights and the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan, voiced fears authorities 'might take discriminatory and repressive actions' against religious communities and opposition groups.

'Improving human rights in Uzbekistan...could reduce the threat of terrorism,' a joint statement issued in Vienna said.

Yeah, it's true, the authorities there need to use the iron carrot, as opposed to the rod. But not perverting the Koran would go a long way, too.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 06:29 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Washington Post Downplays Links Between Abu Sayyaf And Islam

England, Uzbekistan, The Phillipines: a lousy day today for terrorists. Yet in this round-up, The Washington Post makes a lame attempt to disassociate the Abu Sayyaf figures arrested in The Philippines from Islamic extremism.

The Abu Sayyaf once had a loose connection to al Qaeda, but the group has become known mainly as a small, hard-core bandit outfit specializing in kidnapping for ransom.
Nowhere else in this story is there any discussion of Abu Sayyaf and Islam.

The Post's approach is quite disingenuous. The issue is not merely Abu Sayyaf's connection with al-Qaeda, but with Islamic extremism. That does not begin and end with al-Qaeda, although in fact there are links between the groups.

Some background on Abu Sayyaf here, via those lathered-up conservative wing-nuts at The BBC. (Italicized, parenthetical remarks are mine).

.....The founder of Abu Sayyaf - Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani - was an Islamic scholar. ....Abu Sayyaf is the most militant of the anti-Manila groups and wants an independent Islamic state in Mindanao....(Gee, no connection with Islam there, huh?)

The Philippines Government says Abu Sayyaf has been trying to evict Christians from its Basilan Island base. (Nah, still doesn't sound like Islamic extremists to me...)

Hostage-taking is the latest in a series of (Abu Sayyaf) actions which began in the early 1990s with a spate of bombings, assassinations and kidnappings of priests and businessmen. .....In December 1994, the group bombed a Philippines Airlines plane on a flight from Manila to Tokyo, killing one passenger. But most of its activities have centred on southern Mindanao. An attack on the town of Ipil in 1995 left 50 people dead, and a grenade attack on a department store in Zamboanga in 1998 injured 60.

Analysts say such attacks show the group - which is believed to have a core membership of around 200 - is trying to spark a religious war. (Gosh, what's that got to do with Islamic extremism?)

....As well as suspecting links with the mastermind behind the US World Trade Centre bombing, Ramzi Youssef, Manila believes it is connected to the man who tops America's most-wanted list, Osama bin Laden. Analysts say that Abu Sayyaf has received arms and munitions from Afghanistan.

Unlike The Washington Post, other major publications today had no trouble telling the truth about Abu Sayyaf's Islamist nature.

The International Herald Tribune says Abu Sayyaf is "an Islamic terrorist group."

The Toronto Star: "...the brutal, Al-Qaeda linked Abu Sayyaf group...."

The Abu Sayyaf Islamic terrorists arrested today had 80 pounds of TNT. They were planning bombings of shopping centers and more trains in metro Manila, according to Philippines President Gloria Arroyo.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 03:18 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Selling Proximity to Kerry

Some of John Kerry's neighbors in Boston's swank Beacon Hill neighborhood are behaving in a very, ah, common, manner. Stressing their posh appointments and proximity to the presidential contender's abode, they're placing ads to rent their homes during the Democratic National Convention in Boston this summer. Boston Globe columnist Brian McGrory has more.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:21 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Brits Uncover Half-Ton of Explosives Stored Near Airports; Arrest Eight

Europe might have gotten another jolt of terorrism, but for diligent work by British authorities. They arrested eight suspected Islamic terrorists in connection with a half-ton of ammonium nitrate fertilizer (used in bombs) stored in various locations near the London region's major commercial airports.

The suspects are linked to Islamic terrorism, Sky News said earlier, citing unidentified police....Sir John Stevens, head of the London police force, has said a terrorist attack on London is 'inevitable' and that the bomb attacks in Madrid, which have been linked to al-Qaeda, should act as a 'wake-up call' to Britain and Europe.

...Car and truck bombs have been made using between 80 and 5,000 pounds of the chemical, according to the National Academy of Sciences in Washington. Fertilizer has been used in bomb attacks on New York's World Trade Center in 1993, in Oklahoma City in 1995, London's Canary Wharf building in 1996 and the Indonesian resort of Bali in 2002....The men are being questioned at an undisclosed high-security police station in central London, police said.

Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden ordered a strike on Heathrow airport months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S., the London-based Sunday Times reported in its latest edition, citing transcripts of interrogations of an al-Qaeda operations chief.

Today's operation 'is a timely reminder that the U.K. and its interests abroad remain a target,' Home Secretary David Blunkett said in an e-mailed statement.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:15 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 29, 2004

Rove's Home Surrounded By Activists

Like gay marriage, the issue of in-state college tuition rates for illegal immigrants should be decided state-by-state. The grassroots lobbyists who stormed top presidential advisor Karl Rove's Washington, D.C. home seeking his support for federal legislation mandating in-state rates for illegals, are off base.

Except Rove's boss, President George W. Bush, has sort of bought such fights by backing legal status for illegal immigrants.

Can of worms, W!

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:54 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Killing Terrorists, For Peace

Roger L. Simon has a great post, highlighting the female Israeli blogger Imshin, who says things are good since the assasination of Palestinian terrorist "spiritual" leader Ahemd Yassin. No fear, life goes on in full, along the Israeli Street. Read the whole thing, and bookmark Imshin's blog while you're at it.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 06:23 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Alienating The Pro-Choice Middle

Pro-choice hardliners really goofed last week in opposing legislation passed by the U.S. Senate that would recognize unborn fetuses as victims when they are killed during violent crimes against their mothers. So says Cathy Young, a contributing editor to Reason Magazine, in her regular Boston Globe column today.

Opponents should have pushed for a more constructive compromise, Young opines.

Refusing to recognize a full-term unborn baby as a person is an extreme position that flies in the face of reality. But "Laci and Conner's Law" goes to the opposite extreme, recognizing the fetus as a person throughout the pregnancy and, at least in theory, enshrining the notion that life begins at conception.

The prochoice movement might have been able to avoid this debacle with a compromise solution: a bill recognizing the unborn child as a homicide victim after viability. (That, incidentally, is the law in Massachusetts; only 16 states make fetal homicide a crime from conception.)

For assaults that cause a miscarriage before viability, more severe penalties could apply without making the fetus a separate victim.

Why was such an option not even proposed?

Unfortunately, many abortion-rights supporters really are ideological zealots who oppose any restrictions on abortion any time in the pregnancy. Yet most Americans, including most who consider themselves prochoice, occupy a middle ground on the wrenching issue of abortion.

In this conflict, extremism is a ticket to defeat.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 05:24 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

The Soynuts For Bureaucrats Act of 2004

A California State Senator has introduced legislation that would require healthy food in state office building vending machines. Is that even possible?

There's a round-up of a few other odd bills now in play in the state legislature. I like better the ones to simplify consumer product rebates (often fine-print rip-offs); and license young motorized scooter riders.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:54 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Eyes On The Big Picture

The strategic masterminds running John Kerry's blog are upset someone in New York State couldn't get a customized license plate saying, "DUMPBUSH."

Yep, that woulda clinched it for Kerry.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:00 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Charter School Opponents Self-Destructing In New York State

Washington isn't the only place where charter school opponents are making fools of themselves. Via today's Ithaca Journal, the Associated Press reports these Empire State developments:

In Buffalo, the teachers' and the administrators' unions refused to participate in an annual fund-raiser for field trips and classroom supplies because charter schools would participate. The 'Carnival in the Park' had raised about $400,000 since 1999, but now faces a drop by as much as half in the number of participating schools.

The state Education Department has had to enlist the state Comptroller's Office to deduct per-pupil aid from several districts statewide that refused to transfer their state aid to charter schools, according to the state Education Department. Charter school advocates say as many as nine of the state's 700 districts may have been forced to comply with the law at least once, delaying state aid to charter school classrooms by three or more months.

In Riverhead, the school board sued the state Board of Regents' approval of a charter school. A state judge dismissed the suit in 2001 and the school district's appeal was rejected in 2003.

In Schenectady, charter school parents said district officials have called and written to them urging them to leave charter schools, even hinting that they could bump ahead children on waiting lists to the most coveted district schools.
'Now they are willing to do it,' said Nalene Vanderpoel, mother of two charter school students in Schenectady who she couldn't get into preferred district schools a year ago. 'That bothered me.'

In Albany, school administrators and teachers from around the state have held press conferences to blame charter schools as a main cause for local tax increases.

The big cause celebre recently, though, has been five black violinists from a Buffalo charter school who weren't allowed to perform at a school district concert, supposedly because they hadn't registered and were wearing the wrong shirts.
Buffalo News columnist Donn Esmonde writes:

What's next, charter school foes kicking kittens and telling young mothers that their babies are ugly? 'The...kids put a face on the issue,' said marketing expert Bob Carr. 'You can't do something that hurts kids, especially kids who are trying to achieve. That's when people start choosing sides.'

They're choosing, all right. The violinists have since performed on Channel 2 and been invited to play at the Tralf, the Botanical Gardens, a church, a school and on the radio. Superintendent Marion Canedo apologized for the mix-up. Bill Phillips, head of the state charter schools association, was on Tom Bauerle's WBEN radio show Thursday, telling thousands of listeners about charter schools.

'Charter schools got a chance to tell their story because of this incident,' Carr said. '"You can't buy that sort of opportunity.'

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:48 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 28, 2004

French Lawyer To Defend Saddam, Natch

Naturally, a French lawyer will be representing Saddam at his war crimes trial. The BBC reports:

Jacques Verges defended Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie, Carlos the Jackal and former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic....He will be supported by a dozen other French lawyers to mount a defence case.

...Mr Verges, now 79, was born in Thailand to a French father and a Vietnamese mother, and grew up on the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion, where he is said to have acquired his fiercely anti-colonialist views...

In World War II, he joined General Charles de Gaulle's Free French forces, but later he became a Communist.

During the Algerian war of independence he defended Algerians accused of terrorism against France, and married one of his clients who was jailed for planting bombs in cafes in Algiers.

Later, in the 1970s, he became the champion of extremists from both left and right, defending Palestinian violence but also neo-Nazis and he leapt at the chance to expose what he saw as establishment hypocrisy at the trial of Klaus Barbie.

Just the man for the job.

Hat tip: Gary B.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:28 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Nachos, Not Nuance

A top-flight, French-born, U.S.-based image consultant and presidential scholar says John Kerry needs a Crawford, Texas makeover. Kerry forgets how "adolescent" we Yanks are, and must pander accordingly, according to Clotaire Rapaille. Known to his friends as "Clote."

Hat tip to Gary B.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:01 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Marin Law

When is three strikes not three strikes? When you can scam a mushy-headed Marin County judge with a touchy-feely self-actualization saga.Here's the tale of a life-long criminal whose 21-year sentence was cut to two-years. According to this story, that will actually translate to three or four months, plus probation, counseling, etc.

Wonder if the pontificating perp will make good on the restitution ordered for all those he burgled to support his drug habit?

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gay Marriage: A State Affair

The common sense backlash continues against activist local elected officials trying to issue licenses for gay marriages. Here's the latest from New Mexico.

A state district court judge has issued a temporary restraining order against the Sandoval County Clerk, who wanted to issue gay marriage licenses because there is no state law against it.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the judge's order....

said the legality of same-sex marriages should be settled statewide, not county by county.

'Sandoval County is not an island unto itself,' his order states.

That's why a vote on President Bush's proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage is actually a good idea. If it DID pas the U.S. House and Senate with the required two-thirds majority; it would then still have to be ratified by three-fourths of the country's state legislatures. If the amendment failed - as it well might - it would be clearer still that the issue needs to be settled by states, not localities.

And if the amendment somehow passed that daunting threshhold, it would be clear the decision was the will of the states. Either way, the states decide. The proposed amendment would likely include language for civil unions between same-sex couples.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 07:28 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 27, 2004

WA State Teachers Union To Seek Voter Veto of New Charter School Law

The Seattle Times reports the Washington Education Association will mount a signature-gathering drive for a voter referendum to overturn newly-approved charter-school legislation in The Evergreen State.

After a 10-year struggle, the most modest of charter school bills was finally passed here in Washington this month, and signed into law by Governor Gary Locke. There are thousands of charter schools across the country - they are public schools with greater flexibility, a special contract (or charter) with sponsors, strict oversight, and strong emphasis on academic rigor and college preparation. Many minority students who attend charter schools - and their parents - are passionate supporters.

Charters will provide a crucial bulwark against the crippling, lowered expectations for African-American, Hispanic, Asian-Pacific Islander and Native-American students in Seattle's public schools.

It is utterly pitiable that the teachers union feels so threatened by the charter school bill that it will now seek to overturn the legislation. Charter teachers don't have to belong to the larger state union. This is about hoarding dues, and quashing competition.

Again, kids come last for the union.

Meanwhile, minority non-profits are already eyeing charters, and a major charter school conference is planned in Seattle April 16-18. One likely charter operator in or near Seattle would be the highly-regarded, San Francisco-based Knowledge Is Power Program, or KIPP.

Even if the WEA wins, they lose.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:43 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 26, 2004

Stepping In It (Again)

DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe's got a real sense of what works on TV. In a segment with CNN's Judy Woodruff that aired, he pauses to wipe his feet on a doormat decorated with a picture of President George W. Bush.

Via cablenewser - hat tip to Gary B.

Robert writes in with a question: 'Why has there been no flack regarding the tour Judy Woodruff took with Terry McAuliffe yesterday afternoon of the new DNC Headquarters? Before entering his office the camera panned down to get a closeup of his doormat which has a picture of President Bush. McAuliffe made a point of wiping his shoes across the picture of Bush and laughed like it was very funny and not a bit disrespectful. It was stunning. Ms. Woodruff caught her breath and walked around the mat so as not to step on the president's face. Hmm...is it enough to be a 'scandal of the moment?'

At least McAuliffe is staying on message: Kerry's positives aren't a winning hand.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 02:58 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Vote For Blog

No, not this one - we're not trying to win some contest. We're talking about Tom Blog. He's running for a Sante Fe County Commissioner seat. And naturally, Blog's got a blog. A little advice, Tom: more links and updates - what, you've got a life, or something?

That said, if I lived in his jursidiction, I might very well vote for him. He's committed to transparency in government (as a Blog perhaps that comes naturally); and has some good policy ideas.

Bloggers should contribute to Blog's campaign and help get him elected to Congress one day, doncha think?

The Seattle phone book, alas, lists no individuals named Blog; just one Blogg.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 02:24 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Fighting For The Right To Get Skunked

That's quite a liberal-arts education at least three students must be getting at the University of Wisconsin-Madtown (er, Madison). They're suing 24 local taverns for voluntarily ending weekend drink specials. The businesses ended the practice partly at the urging of the UW-Madison chancellor. The attorney for the three students says they intend to sue the University as well.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:49 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Keeping Berkeley Safe for Criminals

A police advisory commission in Beserkeley has voted 6-3 against the police department's request for a canine unit to help track down criminals.

Currently, Berkeley Police have to borrow dogs from neighboring jursidictions when needed, but they're often not available.

Doubtless the idea of a police dog was just too Ashcroft-ian for the advisory board.

Fortunately, the City Council can still approve the police request.

FROM JEFF comes this woeful story, in a similar vein. Corrections Canada doesn't want its prison guards to wear stab-proof Kevlar vests, as it might send the wrong message to prisoners.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:43 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Keystone Assassins

Another lousy day for Palestinian terrorists, The Guardian reports.

Hamas on Friday delivered new threats of revenge for the assassination of its founder, but had trouble carrying them out: Israel foiled a seaborne attack on a settlement, shooting dead two attackers in wet suits, and a militant was killed in the West Bank when his explosives blew up prematurely.

The wanna-bes are looking kinda pathetic, too, if you ask me.

In Nablus, a few hundred men in black ski masks and military-style dress carried elaborate models of missiles. At one point, they torched a large rickety model of an Israeli bus and trotted in a circle around it.

Boy, that ought to strike the fear of God into the hearts of Israelis.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:28 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Would You Advertise On This Network?

The liberal talk radio network, Air America, debuts next week in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. It will feature one funny Bush-hater, Al Franken, and one un-funny Bush-hater, Janeane Garofalo. Plus earnest bore Robert Kennedy, Jr., (maybe) rapper Chuck D. (formerly of Public Enemy), and some no-names.

Yet before even taking the air, the liberals have managed to alienate blacks (surprise, surprise). In metropolitan New York, Air America will reside at WLIB-AM 1190, which has been an "Afrocentric" station. One critic says:

...they've got a couple of whites who just really want to go after Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and all the others. You can't convince me that that's going to be something good for Black and Hispanic people."

Some opponents plan an April Fool's Day protest against racism in the radio industry. Gosh, sounds like great fodder for Air America's, um, liberal, commentators.

In fact, ratings were weak at WLIB-AM. The black and Caribbean radio boosters may have a chance to reclaim their station before long, if what David Skinner says in today's Weekly Standard online is correct.

Franken has signed only a one-year contract and has made it clear that his real goal is simply the unseating of George W. Bush. Maybe it's possible that he can charge away, on the air for three hours every day, for a few months. But, after the fuel of Election Day runs out, what? Other talent will have to break through, and on the double. Because anti-Bush venom is a pretty shallow pool from which to draw a large popular audience, reminding one of perhaps the darkest omen for the Air America Radio Network: the fate of the Howard Dean campaign.

Bush-bashing isn't likely to draw much in the way of advertising revenue, is it? Especially in places like NYC and Chicago, where many support the war on terrorism. The more you look at Air America, the more it DOES look like an election-year project.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:39 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 25, 2004

Palestine's Suicide Wish

Hamas' military wing is now promising "earth-shaking" rocket attacks on Haifa, Jaffa and Ashkelon to avenge Israel's killing of their terrorist "spiritual" leader Ahmed Yassin. I'd hate to see anyone else die, but hey, maybe it'll mean a quicker end to delusional thinking by the Palestinians, and the resulting bloodshed.

Rocket attacks or some more suicide bombings by the Palestinians will guarantee another crushing Israeli response. Eventually, the Palestinian leaders are going will realize what many everyday Palestinians already know: you f*** with Israel, you pay.

And the Palestinian martyr pool is getting pretty thin, if the latest news is any indication. Some poor, befuddled teen - perhaps developmentally-disabled if his brother's assessment is correct - all but gave himself up after personnel at an Israeli military check-point began a search based on a tip about a suicide bomber.

The skittish would-be martyr could barely wait to have his suicide bomb pack removed by an Israeli army robot. "I don't want to blow up," he said. Yeah, pal, kind of like the rest of us. Guess the bit about about 72 virgins waiting for him in paradise wasn't too convincing. Israeli authorities said the youth's mission was to kill Israeli military, specifically at the checkpoint; but there were 200-300 Palestinians there, too. Apparently, his handlers didn't care about that.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 03:00 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Horse Heaven

Oh, Canada! Bastion of social progressivism, or is that progressive socialism? I dunno, but it seems a provincial government-run "safe injection site" for heroin addicts in Vancouver isn't enough. No, after those right-wing fascists at the U.N. griped the site sanctions illegal heroin purchases, the North American Opiate Medication Initiative (NAOMI) is proposing a downtown Vancouver clinic where they'll supply addicts with pharma-grade smack. With approval from Canada's federal government, it'll all be legal.

Oh, there'd be methadone too. And some studies. Then, in a few years, I'd expect government-sanctioned "safe housing" for heroin addicts. Maybe a gated community one day.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:06 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Get Me Web Services!

Boy, here's a newspaper home page that's a total mess. Lemme know what you think. And feel free to send along links to well-designed daily newspaper home pages.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:10 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Seamy Side of Day-Care

Day care gets smellier every week, and not because of ballooning diapers. Allegations of child abuse and financial fraud keep piling up. Most cases aren't witch hunts, either. Reputable day-care providers should be up in arms about all the "bad apples" sullying their profession.

A Santa Rosa, California day-care operator was convicted yesterday for bilking two county agencies out of tens of thousands of dollars, by submitting phony reimbursment claims for six low-income children who were never in her care. She said, "I went about this in the wrong way."

An Indiana couple that received $130 million under a state contract to qualify low-income children for day-care vouchers is facing trial this week after paying themselves $6 million over three years; and buying expensive homes and luxury cars while thousands of unserved kids languished on waiting lists.

UPDATE: They've been ordered to re-pay $4 million; their lawyer plans an appeal.

State officials are investigating numerous fraud allegations in Mississippi tied to fatherhood initiatives, after-school care and child-abuse prevention programs that got $89 million in government grants.

We have received innumerable complaints from employees and former employees alleging improper use of funds and our department's failure to properly audit, monitor and account for both funds and property," said (newly-appointed Mississipi Dept. of Human Services) Executive Director Don Taylor.

Some of the loot was reportedly spent on overseas vacations and luxury cars. The inquiry is still unfolding, but authorities have arrested (on fraud charges) a man who received grant funds to run a day-care center. Authorities believe he may have used the money for a down-payment on a Jaguar. He's also been charged with four counts of statutory rape.

Earlier this month, a 13-year-old Keizer, Oregon boy pled guilty in juvenile court to sexually abusing four young girls at his mother's day-care center. In an "unrelated" case, an employee of the same business pled guilty a week prior to sexually abusing a 22-month-old girl there, and was sentenced to four years. The facility lost its license, but the owner is appealing.

In Florida, a teen convicted of sex crimes against children - which reportedly occured at his parents home day care center - was in court earlier this week. His lawyer was a seeking a reduction in his client's 20-year sentence. The lawyer said, "The look of shock on his, and my face, when the judge entered that sentence-it keeps me up at night, quite frankly." Yep, that's what to lose sleep over, alright.

A Tigard, Oregon day-care worker was charged this week for having sex with minors. At least it wasn't at the office. He formerly worked at a YMCA.

A home day-care operator in Long Beach, California was taken into custody earlier this week after a five-month-old girl at her facility was shaken so severely she had surgery for blood clots in the head.

Here's one that's personal. Though not tragic, it sticks with me. At a family Christmas gathering the year before last, a sister-in-law told me she left her young child in a home day-care center where English was not the primary language, and he got fleas from the dog in residence. Fortunately, the child's father now works at home.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:06 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 24, 2004

Dog's Best Friend

Maybe you've got a problem with seatbelt laws - as opposed to seatbelts, that is. Then how about this? Sante Fe, NM is considering a city ordinance requiring restraints for dogs in vehicles.

Next: smoking bans in off-leash dog parks.

Hat tip to Gary B.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 06:17 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Democrats For Bush: Paper Tiger or Not?

"Democrats For Bush" held a rally today in Washington, D.C.

U.S. Sen. Zell Miller (D-Georgia) takes the helm of the organization. According to this AP report....

Miller....criticized (Democratic Presidential nominee John) Kerry's view that more diplomatic channels should have been explored first through the United Nations before moving almost unilaterally (into Iraq).

'I cannot imagine the great Democratic Party leaders of past generations waiting with their hands in their pockets while a bunch of dithering diplomats decided the future of the world,' Miller said. 'That is the worst kind of indecisiveness. That is the wrong kind of leadership at this critical moment in our history.'

DFB says it will unveil other Demo backers of Bush in weeks and months to come. Goodness knows they're out there. Apparently, there's going to be a new and more serious Democrats For Bush blog, but it's not quite open for biz yet. The one I've seen so far (Democrats For Bush-Cheney '04) has only been updated once in the last month.

Following Miller's speech today, Kerry's campaign fired back with this. But trotting out some nice things Miller said about Kerry a few years ago, and noting some similarities in their voting records doesn't really answer Miller's contention that Kerry's out of step on the economy and national security. Guess Kerry's people are worried.

In Washington State, Sen. Tim Sheldon (D-35th) is heading Democrats and Independents for Bush. He tells The Olympian:

'I'm looking for more prominent elected officials. I'm trying to say it's OK to be a Democrat and to be very concerned about national defense. I think this is going to be the most important issue in this campaign.'

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:02 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Giuliani For Berkeley Mayor

Berkeley's homeless youth are "quite visible, begging downtown and up by the campus in shaggy packs, sleeping on the pavement," according to the SF Chron.

What to do? Get volunteers to wash their feet, naturally. More here.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:20 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Cue The Violins

Violinists in a Bonn, Germany orchestra are suing for more pay, because they have to play more notes. From BBC, via Fark.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:38 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Gaza Palestinians Warn Against Revenge For Yassin Hit

Who says Reuters is always biased toward The Left? Here's a story that's not politically correct at all: following Israel's assasination of terrorist godfather Ahmed Yassin of Hamas, some Gaza Palestinians say retaliation is dumb. They fear the hardliner replacing Yassin atop Hamas will just cause more bloodshed.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Hate and Jihad Guide Hamas

Hamas' charter is here, and it's a doozy.

There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors. The Palestinian people know better than to consent to having their future, rights and fate toyed with....The day that enemies usurp part of Moslem land, Jihad becomes the individual duty of every Moslem.

Except the sons and daughters of Palestinian "leaders."

We also learn that Zionists have inflitrated the Rotary Club and Liobs Club, and that Zionists are "behind the drug trade and alcoholism.."

The Zionist invasion is a vicious invasion....relies greatly in its infiltration and espionage operations on the secret organizations it gave rise to, such as the Freemasons, The Rotary and Lions clubs, and other sabotage groups. All these organizations, whether secret or open, work in the interest of Zionism and according to its instructions. They aim at undermining societies, destroying values, corrupting consciences, deteriorating character and annihilating Islam. It is behind the drug trade and alcoholism in all its kinds so as to facilitate its control and expansion.

I left out the stuff about Jews being Nazis, but it's there.

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March 23, 2004

Syrian Kurds Killed, Persecuted

Kurdo's World has more on Syrians oppressing Kurds. That's got the U.S. State Department pretty steamed. And Kurdish residents of Puget Sound, as we reported here via Timothy Goddard the other day.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 02:29 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Some Martyr

The young Iraqi dentist Zeyad (Healing Iraq blog) reports this reaction from his breakfast cook to Israel's assasination of Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin:

'How many young men did this @#%$ send to death by brainwashing and fooling them into carrying out suicide attacks? How many innocent people had he killed?' he shouted to the doctor. 'And how many thousands of dollars did he get in his Swiss bank accounts by pimping on the Palestinian cause? If he was truly such a hero and a believer in Jihad how come he didn't rig his wheelchair with explosives and blow himself up at some Israeli checkpoint? I say f* him.'

Um, yeah.

Jerusalem Post Editor-in-Chief Bret Stephens writes that the hit on Yassin will more likely deter - not provoke - additional Palestinian suicide bomber attacks against Israelis. He even has some numbers to back it up.

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Constitutional Amendment Banning Gay Marriage: Put It To A Vote!

U.S. Rep Barney Frank (D-Mass.) says gay marriage advocates are jumping the gun.

Frank supports gay marriages, just not the ones in San Francisco. Those were not legal marriages but acts of civil disobedience, he says, a mass 'spectacle' that accomplished only one thing: increasing support for President Bush's proposed constitutional amendment to limit marriage to unions between men and women.

What they should have done, he says, was do it the legal way and wait for Massachusetts to start issuing licenses to gay couples in May.

That's still too fast.

Efforts continue to craft language on a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, but now perhaps allowing same-sex civil unions.

Outraged opponents of the proposed amendment don't often mention that it would require a two-thirds vote in Congress, and approval by three-quarters of the nation's state legislatures.

As this Reuters story notes.....

Amending the U.S. Constitution is a difficult task. It can take years to win the support of two-thirds of the U.S. House of Representatives, two-thirds of the Senate and ratification by three-quarters of the 50 states.
Gay marriage proponents should welcome the chance to defeat the gay marriage ban amendment, if not in Congress, then by blocking passage in just enough states. They're proposing something pretty radical here; yet the burden of majority support is squarely on amendment supporters. If the amendment won't fly, then state-level attempts to establish gay marriage can proceed, with one big obstacle removed.

Can gay advocates possibly have imagined that the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling in favor of gay marriage, and the subsequent flurry of gay weddings in San Francisco and elsewhere, would NOT invite attempts to sort out the issue more deliberately?

At a Congressional hearing today Rep. Frank spoke out against the amendment favored by President Bush; other Democrats claimed there weren't enough votes to pass it. And then there was this:

Teresa Stanton Collett, a professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minnesota, argued Congress should approve the amendment and then send it to the states for ratification. Three-fourths of the states would be needed.

"It is the people who should determine the meaning and structure of marriage," Collett said.

Right. State by state. Not city by city, or county by county.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

H.L. Gates: What's 'Authentically Black' Is A Matter Of Life and Death

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., chair of the African and African-American Studies Department at Harvard University, isn't giving White America a pass, by any means. But, as Courtland Milloy notes in this WaPo piece, Gates says more blacks have to step up to their responsibilities. Gates recently published a new book, 'America Behind the Color Line: Dialogues With African-Americans,' which looks at how blacks have fared here since the assasination of MLK.

There was good news, such as the quadrupling of the black middle class. But Gates was in no mood to celebrate. The percentage of black children in poverty had remained about 40 percent since 1968, and the devaluation of black traditions -- such as the quest for literacy -- seemed likely to hamper progress for generations to come.

In Chicago, for instance, where Gates did much of his research on poverty, 45 percent of black men ages 20 to 24 are out of school -- most without a diploma of any kind -- and out of work. Even among high school graduates, he noted, 'a huge percentage are functionally illiterate, meaning they can't read the front page of the local newspaper and pass an exam about it.'

One in five black men in their twenties in the Windy City is in prison, on probation or on parole, and single women head 69 percent of all black households. The average life span for black men in Chicago is 59 years, and during any given week there, only 45 percent of black people 18 and older are gainfully employed.

Milloy writes that according to Gates, it's time for...

a behavioral change among black people, which includes a renewed interest in education and less of an interest in the misogyny, homophobia and violence that are the hallmarks of rap and hip-hop culture.

'Here's something that's curious about hip-hop to me,' Gates said. 'Seventy percent of hip-hop culture is consumed by suburban whites. What's the difference between white kids and black kids?'

'The popularity of hip-hop trades off of voyeurism, right? So you're watching something illicit in a keyhole. The white kids watch illicit sexual activity in the keyhole, and they go back to their rooms and do their algebra and go to Harvard. The black kids, somehow, are trying to crawl through the keyhole. What I'm trying to figure out is why our kids, metaphorically, want to crawl through that keyhole and embrace those modes of behavior as authentically black. It is killing our people. And it makes me sick.'

To combat the problems, Gates has called for a new civil rights movement within the black community. For that to succeed, the 'talented tenth' -- meaning college educated blacks -- must address and correct self-defeating behavior, in themselves and others.

'Our leaders are geniuses at jumping on white racism when it manifests itself. And believe me, I don't want anybody to be confused -- when anti-black racism by anybody manifests itself, I'll be right there pouncing on it, too. But unless we do the second, necessary, act of leadership, which is to critique pathological forms of behavior with any African-American community, our people will be doomed . . . '

If blacks can talk about this openly, can whites too, without being labelled racist? In places like Seattle, liberal whites are scared ****less - so much easier to hold seminars on their failings in race relations. There IS institutional racism practiced by whites against blacks, but it usually takes the form of low expectations, lower standards, and excuse-making. This is particularly true in public schools.

Writing on white guilt (here) and black self-responsibility (here and here) in my regular guest newspaper column, I've been contacted by African-Americans who agree completely with what Gates is saying, and who are already working for change along the lines he suggests.

One of numerous black commentators and activists deserving wider mainstream exposure is Tacoma author and cartoonist Les Taha, who penned this exemplary op-ed, Hip-hop fuels the fire that ravages our community. Taha is also the author of the book, The Architects of Rap: Poison in Our Culture.

WaPo column via Americans Against Discrimination and Preferences.

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March 22, 2004

Spanish Muslim Cleric on Rules For Wife-Beating

A Spanish Muslim cleric outlines how wife-beating can be acceptable, in this report issued today by MEMRI on his book.

On January 14, 2004, Sheikh Muhammad Kamal Mustafa, the imam of the mosque of the city of Fuengirola, Costa del Sol, was sentenced by a Barcelona court to a 15 month suspended sentence and fined € 2160 for publishing his book 'The Woman in Islam.' In this book, the Egyptian-born Sheikh Mustafa writes, among other things, on wife-beating in accordance with Shar'ia law.

On pages 86-87, Mustafa states: 'The [wife-]beating must never be in exaggerated, blind anger, in order to avoid serious harm [to the woman].' He adds, 'It is forbidden to beat her on the sensitive parts of her body, such as the face, breast, abdomen, and head. Instead, she should be beaten on the arms and legs,' using a 'rod that must not be stiff, but slim and lightweight so that no wounds, scars, or bruises are caused.' Similarly, '[the blows] must not be hard.'

Mustafa noted in his book that the aim of the beating was to cause the woman to feel some emotional pain, without humiliating her or harming her physically. According to him, wife-beating must be the last resort to which the husband turns in punishing his wife, and is, according to the Qur'an, Chapter 4, Verse 34, the husband's third step when the wife is rebellious: First, he must reprimand her, without anger. Next, he must distance her from the conjugal bed. Only if these two methods fail should the husband turn to beating.

In his verdict, the judge said that Sheikh Mustafa's book contained incitement to violence against women, that today's society is completely different from society 1400 years ago, and that the sections of the book in which the sheikh wrote of wife-beating constitute a violation of the penal code and of women's constitutional rights. In his defense, Sheikh Mustafa's attorney argued that his client was not expressing his personal opinion, but only reiterating the writings of Islam from the 13th and 19th centuries.

The book, which sold around 3,000 copies in Islamic cultural centers across Spain, was removed from the shelves.

MEMRI, in case you're wondering, is the Middle Eastern Media Research Institute, a highly-respected organization often cited by major U.S. media.

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Loving The Death of Innocents

The Laissez-Faire Left reaches a new low with this placard declaring, "I (Heart) New York Even Better Without The World Trade Center." From the big peace rally in San Francisco last Saturday.

Via Baldilocks.

More arresting pix here from the same photographer, via Little Green Footballs.

Here are a few choice declarations from other signs in this online photo album.

"Death to America."

"Support Resistance in Iraq."

And one to warm Terry McAwful's heart: "Your Gut Should Churn Nov. 2nd If You Vote For Kerry, But Consider How Much Sicker The World Will Feel Nov. 3rd If You Don't."

Finally, there's the guy in the Viet Cong T.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:30 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Nasty Butts On Beach Spur Lawmakers

I've said here before I have NO problem with indoor smoking bans, but think outdoor bans are overkill. Now, two California towns have banned smoking on beaches, and more may join in soon, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

Successful beach smoking-ban advocates are playing the litter card: the discarded butts are voluminous, icky, and non bio-degradable.

'I don't smoke and I don't like the smell, but I have never in 20 years of living on the beach heard anyone complain about second-hand smoke or cigarette butts,' says Wayne Eggleston, one of two (San Clemente) city council members who voted against the measure. He says more cigarette butts wash up from storm drains or are flicked by passing drivers than are left by smokers in the sand.

And, he says, if officials wanted to get serious about litter, they would prohibit soda cans and candy wrappers, which he says present far more of a problem. 'I was really quite astounded by this vote,' says Mr. Eggleston. 'I just think there is a limit to what government should dictate to its citizens.'

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March 21, 2004

Downsize the Doubletalk, Senator

John Kerry and his wife Teresa Heinz Kerry are pretty heavily invested in outsourcing, despite his condemnation of the practice. More here.

UPDATE: Citing our item, Kerry supporter and blogger Gary Manca isn't a happy camper. He remarks:

How embarassing. I'm growing weary of explaining away all of the inconsistencies between John Kerry's rhetoric and his reality.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 03:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Assad's Secular Despotism A Tough Sell in Syria

Baathist dictator Bashir Assad of Syria might be history within a few years. This story provides an interesting overview.

A year after Saddam Hussein's Baath Party regime was toppled next door in Iraq, Syria's Baathist regime is facing the greatest challenge to its power since it took over 41 years ago this month.

Economic reform has stalled. Reformers are pressing for democracy. Washington is applying new pressure. And conservative Islam is making a comeback - outside of politics - in this once staunchly secular Arab nation.

In interviews, more than a dozen professionals and activists, some of them with close ties to the government of President Bashar Assad, said Assad and his ruling Baath Party must make fundamental changes to Syria's ossified economy and politics or risk losing power in the years ahead.

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Seattle Protest Against Syrian Regime

Minnesota blogger Timothy Goddard is visiting Puget Sound and sends along this item and photo of a smaller protest in downtown Seattle yesterday: against the Syrian regime's treatment of Kurds there. The big event, of course was an anti-Iraq War gathering.

Scroll down an item or so in the permalink.

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March 20, 2004

John Kerry and Self-Responsibility

So John Kerry is snowboarding down this mountain, see. A Secret Service agent assigned to protect him runs into him and knocks him over. According to this Washington Times report, Kerry curses, and later makes sure it's clear he was knocked over, as opposed to falling. The next day, he wipes out six times on his own and blames the snow.

Yeah, that's the guy I want in The White House.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 02:25 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Over-hyped Tap Water in a Bottle, With Contaminants Added

Big problems for Coca-Cola with its Dasani brand of bottled water. The Guardian reports. Spring water for me, thanks.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 02:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 18, 2004

Black Centrism On the Rise

African-American author and scholar John McWhorter again defies the "perpetual victim" mindset of the NAACP and other black leftists, with an op-ed in The Los Angeles Times, "As Racism Recedes, More Blacks Shift to Political Center."

....Al Sharpton's sad showing in the Democratic primaries is partly because of a desire among many to choose the more electable John Kerry in order to oust President Bush....Pulling stunts like grilling Howard Dean on the black representation on his staff when he was governor of a state that had a mere 3,050 African American residents in 2000 (0.5% of the state population), Sharpton shows he is old school, not a sign of the times.

...For the true believer, a paradisiacal future is the focus, which requires that the present be remorselessly condemned regardless of actual conditions. Hence the black "victicrat's" insistence year after year that "most" black Americans remain mired in misery.

....To be sure, we become Pollyannas at our peril. We must blow the whistle loud and long when 45 blacks in Tulia, Texas, (16% of the town's black population) are rounded up on trumped-up drug charges by a racist detective. But we do not have to insist reflexively that putting time limits and work requirements into welfare programs is an "anti-black" act morally equivalent to vetoing anti-lynching legislation.

It's OK to look back, as long as you do not stare. Here's hoping that ever more we will place our votes according to how we actually feel — left, right and center, with our eyes on the complexities of getting ahead in an imperfect but promising world.

Seattle African-American community activist, minister and discrimination-case consultant Wayne Perryman has recently published a book titled "Unfounded Loyalty," in which he lays out a historical case for why blacks should not presume the Democratic Party necessarily represents their interests better than Republicans. More here
(scroll down a bit).

An important African-American conservative group nationally is Project 21.

The mainstream media need to develop relationships with such sources instead of merely parroting the latest racism allegations from the NAACP.

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Al-Qaeda's Number Two Man Cornered?

Reuters reports there's a helluva gun battle going on right now, and al-Qaeda's Number Two may be surrounded.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Market Speaks

For every story about the latest explosion in Baghdad, there ought to be at least one more on what's going right. Like this, from Knight Ridder.

Pepsi is rebuilding its old bottling plant. Mitsubishi is planning a new car dealership. A Kuwaiti firm envisions a $500 million hotel and shopping complex in the heart of Baghdad.

Nearly a year after bombs, tanks and looters wrought devastation on Iraq's already awful economy, the country is teeming with commerce, real and anticipated. Stores are filled with new products, foreign investors are circling, and unemployment - while painfully high - has fallen by half.

'It may not be palpable, but Iraq is booming,' said Maria Khoury, chief of research for Atlas Investment Group, a Jordanian investment bank. 'We're seeing a big increase in consumer goods flowing into the country.'

Though still very low, Iraqi living standards are higher than at any time since the 1990 Gulf War, economists say, despite the ongoing bombings and killings.
Oil revenues, which fund the government and its social safety net, are near prewar levels. The World Bank estimates that the economy will grow by 30 percent this year, after shrinking last year.

There are still PLENTY of challenges on the economic front in Iraq, as the full story (link above) makes clear.

.....Then there's the Sultan Center, which operates some of Kuwait City's biggest malls. That firm is answering a request for proposals by Iraq's trade ministry seeking plans for a shimmering hotel and shopping complex, complete with a modern cinema, in Baghdad's al Monsour neighborhood.

'We think this can be open in two years,' said Muthunna Darwish, the Sultan Center's Iraqi-born company representative, who is betting security will be much improved by then. 'We see huge potential here.'

Via Iraq The Model.

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March 17, 2004

Don't Pipe This Into The Madrassas

Behold Blender's preview of the 25 sexiest music moments on TV. Just a few of the 25 here.. you'll have to buy the current issue of the trendy music title from lad rag Maxim's publishers for the rest. Nice change of pace from Foreign Affairs, or Robert Caro's LBJ doorstops.

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Rice Cakes With Mugwort Yup For Dear Leader

Very dishy, the insider tome from North Korean despot Kim Jong Il's former sushi-meister. This WaPo article, here via the SF Chron, has tasty tidbits galore. Such as:

For North Korea's ruler, Kim Jong Il, the latest tell-all book on the shelves in Japan is the rawest of betrayals: the confessions of the Dear Leader's own sushi chef.

Lured to Pyongyang from the sushi bars of Tokyo in 1982 by a Japanese trading company and a $5,000-a-month contract, the 56-year-old Japanese chef caught the eye of Kim Jong Il a few years later and for more than a decade catered to Kim's exotic tastes.

Today, he is back in Japan, and under his pen name, Kenji Fujimoto, he wrote a best-selling memoir, 'I Was Kim Jong Il's Cook.' While North Korea is dependent on international food aid so that millions of its people do not starve, Fujimoto described Kim -- a despot to some, demigod to others -- as a sushi chef's dream: the ultimate gourmand.

'He particularly enjoyed sashimi so fresh that he could start eating the fish as its mouth is still gasping and the tail is still thrashing,' Fujimoto said. 'I sliced the fish so as not to puncture any of its vital organs, so of course it was still moving. Kim Jong Il was delighted. He would eat it with gusto.'

...Fujimoto tells of an episode in 1994 -- the year Kim became head of state after the death of his father, Kim Il Sung -- when he was invited to attend one of Kim's notorious 'pleasure parties.' Holding court while sporting his trademark bouffant hair and chunk heels, Kim beamed with excitement as his top aides boogied to American dance music with shocked young women who had been ordered by Kim to strip naked. There were strobe lights and a disco ball hanging that evening from the ceiling of the Dear Leader's lavish Sincheon guesthouse south of Pyongyang.

'Kim Jong Il told the women to take off their clothes,' Fujimoto said. Kim pointed at senior aides one by one, commanding them to dance. "You can dance, but don't touch. If you touch, you are thieves," Kim told the aides, according to Fujimoto.

'Mr. Kim himself would not dance,' Fujimoto said. 'Kim Jong Il liked to watch.' Fujimoto said he was dazzled by Kim's huge liquor cellar, stocked with nearly 10,000 bottles. There was Johnnie Walker Swing scotch and Hennessy XO cognac. To satisfy the Dear Leader's demanding tastes, Fujimoto was sent on international shopping trips, hauling back winter melons from China, pork from Denmark, caviar from Iran and Uzbekistan, but especially the finest sushi from Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market, the largest in the world.

Fujimoto said Kim had once dispatched him to Tokyo's upscale Mitsukoshi department store to pick up $100 worth of his favorite rice cakes filled with mugwort yup. The trip itself, including airfare through Beijing -- there are no direct flights between Tokyo and Pyongyang -- and hotel expenses, cost roughly $1,500.

Chauncey Gardener meets Odai Hussein.

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Playing to Bush's Resolve

Another terrorist attack in Baghdad, this one claiming the lives of foreigners in a major hotel. Best way to re-elect Bush is to give the White House sound bites like this:

'This remains a time of testing in Iraq,' White House spokesman Scott McClellan said in Washington. 'The stakes are high. The terrorists know the stakes are high. But they will not prevail. We will meet this test with strength and with resolve.'

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 02:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Unrest Bubbling Up Again in Iran

Portland blogger par excellence Michael Totten highlights reports from Iranian bloggers of major unrest there. Totten says right now, Western big media is giving the story short shrift. When the mullahs suddenly find themselves in the dustbin of history, many will ask, 'how'd that happen?'

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 01:50 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 16, 2004

Overseas Kerry Relative Says Nominee Is "...Serious, Smart and Quite European..."

Here's the lowdown on John Kerry's roots, as reported by The Boston Globe.

Michael Kerry and John F. Kerry live an ocean apart and have never met; but they have a lot in common. They share the same last name, the same birthday, the same great-grandfather.

And as Senator Kerry gains international renown as the man expected to challenge President Bush for the White House in November, his second cousin Michael is paying close attention.

'People are saying to me, `Wow, you are going to be related to the president,' said Michael, 42, a product manager at the T-Mobile telecommunications company who in some aspects resembles John Kerry in his younger days -- with a pronounced nose and chin, for instance. 'One friend has even started calling me Mr. President.'

....'I wish him all the best from the bottom of my heart, and I am sure that he will beat Bush,' Michael said. 'We like him. He has a serious, smart, and quite European style.'

...the family history in Europe also includes older generations scarred by war and anti-Semitism, and at least two relatives who died in the Holocaust....Like many immigrants, members of the US branch of the Kerry family lost contact with the European branch after leaving the old country.

John Kerry's grandfather, Fritz Kohn, was born to a Jewish family in the Austro-Hungarian town of Bennisch, now called Horni Benesov and part of the Czech Republic.

Kohn moved to Vienna in the late 1870s, changed his name to Frederick Kerry, and converted to Roman Catholicism in 1901. He arrived in the United States with his wife, Ida, in 1905. Sixteen years later, he committed suicide in a Boston hotel washroom. John Kerry's father, Richard, was 6 years old at the time.

When Fritz Kohn changed his name and converted, he was following the lead of younger brother Otto-Franz, who was baptized in 1896 and changed his name a year later, according to Gundacker.

Read the whole thing.

Via my dad the blogger.

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Let's Make a Deal, Osama

Here's the "Dear Osama" letter Spain might just as well send to bin Laden. From the Daily Ablution.

....in the spirit of compromise, we're willing to take the following steps: homosexuality and adultery will be punishable by stoning; women will be unable to leave the house unless accompanied by a male relative; teaching Christianity will be punishable by death; music will be outlawed; education for females will be banned.

Of course, compromise is all about give and take, so we expect some concessions from you too. So, in exchange for the above, we're asking you to reduce the scope of your next "project" by 50%.

.....We know we're asking a lot from you here, and we hope we're not being too unreasonable. In fact, as a gesture of good faith, we are - at no obligation to you - eliminating the right of women to vote, effective immediately. All we ask is that you consider our offer.

Drop a tape off at al-Jazeera and tell us what you think.

The Western World

Hat tip to Gary B.

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It's Lonely At The Top

We may as well face up to it: we're more alone than not in our fight against Islamic extremism and terrorists.

At least we've got the courage to face what must be faced, says Victor Davis Hanson in an essay at his new Web site.

I can sympathize with the administration diplomats when they insist that we are not alone in Iraq. But they are only right to a degree.

We, with the exceptions of some English-speaking allies and eastern Europeans, are in fact absolutely alone in our larger struggle for Western civilization and have been all along well before Iraq, which was merely the latest excuse for ongoing European appeasement.

The Spanish will never go after the killers of their own citizens, much less the countries who provided them support and succor, just as the Western Europeans did nothing to stop Mr. Milosevic, just as they sent a token force to Afghanistan, and hardly any to Iraq, and just as the Greeks will do nothing if their Olympics are destroyed by waves of Islamic terrorists.

We should not like all this, but we also should not deny that it is so.

Hat tip to Baldilocks.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:27 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Too Close To The Story

It's kind of hard to cover the gay marrriage beat in California if you're a journalist who recently married your same-sex partner.

That's the conclusion of supervisors at the San Francisco Chronicle, and a public radio station, who've made some changes.

Here's the AP report.

At KQED, Scott Shafer AND his editors were uncomfortable with him continuing to report on gay marriage after his wedding, though he may do occasional on-air interviews about the topic.

The Chronicle reporter and photographer who had been covering the gay marriage controversy and then were joined in a same-sex wedding reportedly disagreed with the paper's decision to take them off the story.

Via Usual Suspects - a site well worth bookmarking for SF politics and news.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bush Urged To Lay Low on China-Taiwan Dispute

Bush is kowtowing to Beijing on Taiwanese independence because we need China to help rein in North Korea and its nukes. That's one assertion in this informative Cato Institute Foreign Policy Briefing on Taiwan. A big referendum in Taiwan comes Sat. March 20. It regards beefing up military capabilities against the very aggresive Chinese - who mistakenly think Taiwan is still theirs.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 07:51 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 15, 2004

France In Hunt For bin Laden

All is not despair in the war against terrorism, after the horrid al-Qaeda train bombings in Madrid, and the resulting ascension to power of head-in-sand Spanish socialists.

Gotta love this: the FRENCH are helping us track down Osama bin Laden, and we're getting even closer, according to the latest from the NYT. If an al-Qaeda bomb went off in the Paris subway, I wonder if the French troops would dash back home? Somehow, I think not. True, nailing bin Laden hardly ends al-Qaeda, but the value of his capture shouldn't be underestimated, either.

Meanwhile, Pakistani Prez Pervez Musharraf continues exhorting tribal leaders to also help rid the boonies of bin Laden and his ilk. Here's the story from tommorow's Pakistan Daily Times. An exceprt:

Addressing a jirga from all the seven tribal zones at Governor’s House in Peshawar, President Musharraf said that between 500 and 600 foreigners “from different countries” were living in the areas. The president called these people a serious threat to the future of Pakistan. 'You give any name to them, Al Qaeda or not, but I will say we will not allow these foreigners to stay in our Tribal Areas and create problems for us,' the president said.

'We will not allow them to get training in our tribal areas, store explosives and go back to Afghanistan to kill their Muslim brothers. We will stop this practice.'

He said, 'We have to remove the impression by certain elements that Pakistan is pro-militancy,' the president told the jirga. 'If we fail, it will not be in the country’s interest.'

Musharraf, of course, also survived an assasination attempt Dec. 25 by a Libyan with al-Qaeda ties.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 03:28 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Best Defense......

Jay Reding says Spanish voters misunderstand al-Qaeda, and by implication so do the socialists they've just elected on an "out of Iraq; reduce our risks" platform. Surrender is not safety.

Last week's Madrid train bombing, now tied to al-Qaeda, may have occured in a country that has been a prominent member of the Coalition intervening in Iraq. But, notes Reding:

Of the last few attacks, many of them have been placed in countries that were uninvolved with the war on terror or even opposed to it.

For example, Turkey specifically refused the US the right to launch a northern front against Iraq - and yet Turkey has been the victim of several Qaeda-sponsored attacks. Saudi Arabia has been tacitly supporting al-Qaeda in order to prevent attacks against them - all to no avail. Tunisia is not a major player in the war on terrorism - and yet al-Qaeda attacked synagogues in Tunisia killing 19.

Al-Qaeda's demands are simple - embrace shari'a or be attacked sooner or later. Believing that doing what al-Qaeda wants is a smart move is not buying safety, it is showing weakness - and weakness is exactly what al-Qaeda will always try and exploit.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 03:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Short and Sweet

Who says gun-rights advocates have no sense of humor? From Jake Ortman's blog, Utterly Boring; in Bend, Oregon. Dunno if it's quite fair to Southerners, tho.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 14, 2004

Start Smoking Today!

I'm not sure about this marketing approach.

If you don't smoke cigarettes, would you turnabout just because the price point got better? Huh?!

Yet some spam I received this afternoon was titled "Start Smoking Today," and featured a list of prices for cases of different brands.

Then a link lead-in worded (again) "Start Smoking Today!" Followed by a URL I would not post here under any circumstances, even the threat of losing my entire LP and CD collection. (That'd be a big deal!)

Back in my young and foolish days, when I did occasionally smoke cigs, my favorites were Dunhills, and gaudy numbers called Shermans - way too long, and wrapped in bright colors (fine tobacco, tho).

Smoking: truly a habit that can't be sustained. I'll add this; I have NO objection to any kind of anti-smoking laws relating to public spaces.

Any attempts to ban smoking in private homes are beyond the pale, however.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 05:16 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Fear and Loathing in Spain

Prominent blogger and mystery writer Roger L. Simon heard today from a Spanish friend shortly after the socialists won in the big election. (ChannelNewsAsia report here). Their victory was fueled by voter resentment at the "price" Spain paid for backing the U.S. on Iraq; namely the horrid commuter train bombings of last week that killed 200 and are now believed linked to Islamic extremists from Morocco. Simon's correspondent said:

I am ashamed of being a Spaniard. We have just surrendered on behalf of the whole West. This is a real tragedy for all; now they know what works.

Check out the long comment string appended to the Simon link above. Here's one entry that's especially pertinent:

And now who is going to get serious about terrorism? The socialists in Spain and John Kerry?


Maybe they'll do what the leader in the Guardian suggested today, a
conference. That should do it.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 02:15 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 13, 2004

Arrests in Madrid Terrorist Bombings

More on the Madrid train bombings that killed 200 last week.

Islamic extremist links are starting to look more plausible, but it's still not totally clear.

Spain’s interior ministry announced Saturday that five suspects — including three Moroccans possibly linked to extremist groups — were arrested in the Madrid bombings that killed at least 200 people.

...The five were arrested in connection with a cell phone inside an explosives-packed gym bag found on one of the bombed commuter trains. The other two suspects had Indian passports, a ministry spokesman said. Also being questioned were two Spanish citizens of Indian origin.

....The Spanish radio station Cadena Ser, which is close to the opposition Socialist Party, quoted sources at the national intelligence agency CNI as saying agents were '99 percent sure' that Islamic militants, not Basque separatists, were behind the attacks.

The agents believe a 10-15 member cell placed the bombs on the trains and may have fled the country, Cadena Ser said, quoting unnamed sources at the CNI.

But CNI director Jorge Dezcallar denied the report, telling the news agency Efe that agents do not favor one line of investigation over another.

And more:

Investigators were focusing on a stolen white van found in the town of Alcala de Henares outside Madrid hours after the blasts. Police found detonators and an Arabic-language cassette tape with Quranic verses inside. Alcala de Henares is the town where three of the four bombed trains originated.

A doorman told police he saw three young men carrying knapsacks toward the station in Alcala de Henares, a senior police official said Saturday on condition of anonymity. Officials have said the bombs used in the train attacks were concealed in knapsacks.

The doorman saw the men get out of the van and 'walk toward the train carrying backpacks and he was struck by the fact that they were wearing ski masks when the weather was not suited for that kind of clothing,' the official said.

...A London-based Arabic newspaper...received a claim of responsibility in al-Qaida’s name that called the attack 'part of settling old accounts with Spain, the crusader, and America's ally in its war against Islam.'

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:50 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Milblogs Still On The Rise

Blogs by members of the U.S. military provide an authentic voice on Iraq, Afghanistan and the war on terror in ways the mainstream media cannot, says Hugh Hewitt in The Weekly Standard online. Bookmark a few if you haven't yet (some good links in the Hewitt's piece here). And see if Hewitt's predictions come true:

THE SKYROCKETING POPULARITY of the milblogs guarantees that it won't be long before two things happen.

First, major media will figure out that they want to link to one or more of these folks as a way of adding authenticity to their sites. I hope Pentagon regulations allow these folks to get paid when the professional link people arrive. After all, any site that wants traffic must know that these sites are climbing quickly up the daily traffic rankings.

Second, some mid-level Pentagon type will decide that troops and officers speaking their mind is a threat to the tradition of a military detached from politics. Here's hoping Secretary Rumsfeld squashes that with a pre-emptive snow-flake that notes this development is critical to the public's understanding of the sacrifices and contribution of America's military.

Case in point: Hook's penultimate post: It concerns his 9-year-old son who won't be seeing his dad for a few months while dad is off taking the fight to the terrorists. That post alone does more to convey the crucial message to the civilian world eager to debate the level of prescription drug benefits.

Bookmark a few of the milblogs as a guarantee against complacency. And as an assurance of great commentary and good humor as well.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Someone To Look Up To

Poor Britney Spears.

She needs a sabbatical in rural Afghanistan.

From this morning's Seattle Times review, by Pamela Sitt, of her concert last night at Key Arena:

It's official: Britney is the new Madonna. Only Madonna did it better the first time around.....

Spears, 22, did her best to follow in her mentor's footsteps last night...at one point writhing nearly nude in a clear bathtub while crooning her self-fulfillment song, 'Touch of My Hand.'

That was the highlight - if you can call it that - of Spears' 90-minute show.

Then this, which kind of says it all:

Spears....told the audience 'there's a young generation out there that's wanting to believe in someone, and they need someone to look up to.'

Presumably, this person is not Spears, who moments later cavorted on a bed in a pink bra, panties and fishnet stockings.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:37 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 12, 2004

A Nazi Plot to Undermine Our State's Schools

The news is upbeat, following passage earlier this week of charter school legislation for Washington State. This editorial, too. So I almost hate to do this, but it can't go unreported.

A suburban Seattle teachers union leader has written that Washington State charter school backers are on the same page as the Nazi Party.

The article is titled, "The Forces Fighting For Charter Schools Won't Give Up." It's in "Update," a newsletter published earlier this month by The Federal Way Education Association. Federal Way is the state's seventh-largest district, just a bit south of Seattle. FWEA President Michael Comstock has the byline, and he writes:

The forces for destruction of our public schools as we know them are on the march and we, as public educators, must form the first wall of defense...we must educate our parents, our legislators, our neighbors...To paraphrase what Joseph Gerbles (sic), the Nazi propaganda minister said, 'Repeat anything enough times loudly enough, no matter how untrue it is, and people will begin to believe it.' That is what we are beginning to see now.

I verified with the FWEA's office the newsletter and contents were for real. My message for Comstock was returned by Charlie Haase, President of the Washington Education Association, who called Comstock's Nazi analogy "inappropriate" and "not helpful."

Comstock also mistakenly wrote in the article that:

There is now a bill before Congress that will allow anyone off the street to declare they are highly qualified to teach a subject even if they haven't graduated from high school....(by taking)...a fill-in-the-circles test...

Not true, said Haase; there is no such bill before Congress. The federal Department of Education has been promoting initiatives on alternative teacher certification, but they "don't envision it for someone without a degree," Haase said. Some states are exploring such options, as well.

I'm also a bit surprised that as a teacher, Comstock misspells Goebbels (his contribution to history was pretty significant) and the name of charter backer Chris Whittle ("Widdle").

Perhaps most revealing in Comstock's page-and-a-half screed, though, is this:

this is about money to be made by getting the last big government-run monopoly that can be privatized out of the government's hands and replacing them with privatized schools nationwide.

Everyone knows how effective government-run monopolies are.

Turns out Washington charter schools will be public schools, as elsewhere. There's a pretty wide gulf between Comstock and his school board and superintendent, who supported charters with a resolution and legislative committee testimony this year.

And the Federal Way School District already runs what may be the closest thing to a public charter school in Washington state, the rigorous college-prep Federal Way Public Academy. There's a lottery to get in every year.

Guess all those parents and kids don't know it's part of Nazi plot.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 03:26 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Bad Math Skills Boost Off-Shoring

We can't always just blame lower wages for off-shoring of American jobs. Worker skills matter, too.

And without much better math education in American schools, expect more and more U.S. jobs to head East, according to this excellent op-ed in today's SF Chron by David Eisenbud of the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in, yes, Berkeley.

Eisenbud says hostilities between enemies of liberal "fuzzy math" and opponents of "drill and kill" may be overstated; there's a lot of common ground on how to better math ed.

The "Draft Disarmament Treaty for the Math Wars," from the University of California's New Standards Project, "might help show the way," says Eisenbud. Students should:

add, subtract, multiply and divide integers, decimals and fractions accurately and efficiently without calculators;

understand the mathematics they study and use;

use the mathematics they know to solve problems with calculators and computers;

be fluent with the symbolic language of algebra, and understand how to use the basic laws of algebra when solving mathematics problems; and

explain and justify their claims and critically evaluate the reasoning of others.

The "Draft Disarmament Treaty" also urges that:

All students should have copies of basic instructional materials (textbooks, handouts, etc.) to take home.

Math teachers should continue to learn mathematics throughout their careers.

Spending money on the last two items certainly becomes more palatable when administrators , teachers and parents are united on rigorous outcomes like those suggested above.

The essential lesson applies to other other core subjects, too.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:33 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Europe Versus Al-Qaeda?

Andrew Sullivan says if it was al-Qaeda behind the Spanish train bombings that killed almost 200 yesterday (and that's looking likely), there could be more to come in Europe.

The upshot, says Sullivan: Euro-peasers of militant Islam had better begin to GET what Bush and Blair have gotten all along.

Somehow this evil puts everything else in perspective, doesn't it? If it is the beginning of an Islamist terror campaign throughout Europe, then we will witness a cultural and military war on that continent not seen since the last world war. We can only hope it won't transpire, that we have managed to keep al Qaeda at bay. But if it does, we can equally hope that the democratic nations of Europe will begin to realize what Tony Blair and George Bush have been warning about for so long. The enemy is clear. The question is not whether it will strike, but whether the West can strike back and decisively defang and defeat it. It's up to Europe now. Maybe now they'll get it.

Via Right Thinking From the Left Coast, a fine Bay-area blog.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 07:31 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 11, 2004


Whew! This has pulp novel written all over it, if true. Someone "charged with conspiring to act as an unregistered agent of the Iraqi Intelligence Service and with engaging in prohibited financial transactions with the Iraqi government," Susan Lindauer, was a former Seattle-area journalist, and Democratic congressional aide. Her father ran for Alaska Gov. and later pleaded no contest to certain charges described in this story.

So, anyway, charges are made. Let's see how this one actually shakes out. If two-thirds of what you read in the link above turns out to be true......yikes!

That would mean there are snakes among us who are just plain vanilla, uber-liberal Democrats! (Yes, in Seattle, that term makes sense, unfortunately).

Perhaps just one more reason to OK 4MORE YEARS of Bush-Cheney-Ashcroft! (Prayers to you, John!).

Here are few key grafs from the KOMO (Seattle) television and radio online report linked to above:

'I'm an anti-war activist and I'm innocent,' Lindauer told WBAL-TV outside the Baltimore FBI office. 'I did more to stop terrorism in this country than anybody else. I have done good things for this country. I worked to get weapons inspectors back to Iraq when everyone else said it was impossible.'

She was charged with conspiring to act as an unregistered agent of the Iraqi Intelligence Service and with engaging in prohibited financial transactions with the Iraqi government. The indictment makes no mention of her congressional staff work. She was not directly charged with espionage.

She could get up to 10 years in prison on the most serious charge.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 04:26 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

al-Qaeda Links Possible in Spain Train Bombing?

Basque separatists in Spain known as Euskadi ta Askatasuna always phone in warnings before their terrorist attacks, says a source in this MSNBC report, and that didn't happen before the Madrid train bombings today that killed an estimated 190 people. Yet Spanish officials say they still suspect the ETA, which MSNBC says "has killed nearly 850 people since 1968, typically using car bombs or shootings."

Some wonder if al-Qaeda is behind it, instead. (UPDATE: here, I'm posting around 6:05 PST, fr. UPI, adds additional weight to that diagnosis). Too early to say, of course, but here's more from today's earlier, and quite meaty MSNBC report.

....the leader of an outlawed Basque party linked to the separatist group denied the deadly explosions were the work of ETA and he suggested 'Arab resistance' elements were responsible.

Arnold Otegi told Radio Popular that ETA always phones in warnings before it attacks. Spanish officials said earlier there was no warning before Thursday's attack.

'The modus operandi, the high number of victims and the way it was carried out make me think, and I have a hypothesis in mind, that yes it may have been an operative cell from the Arab resistance,' Otegi said.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw declined to speculate when asked if the militant group al-Qaida, blamed for similar simultaneous bombing attacks against British interests in Turkey in November, was responsible.

Britain and Spain were leading allies in last year’s U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

.....Factors pointing toward some kind of al-Qaida link include: the scale of the attack; the lack of anyone taking credit; the simultaneity of the multiple attacks; and the fact that Ayman al-Zawahiri, a senior al-Qaida figure, on his last tape said Spain and other Iraq coalition members would be targeted.

If it turns out to be al-Qaeda, it will only add impetus to their ultimate demise.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:38 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Very Presidential, Mr. Kerry

Bloggers were all over this within hours yesterday. Today, the Washington Post plays ketchup, so it must be real. In what's being called by some an "unguarded moment," Democratic Presidential nominee John Kerry told factory workers in Chicago yesterday that Republicans were "the most crooked, you know, lying group I've ever seen."

What I really like is this defense from a Kerry flack:

Earlier, Kerry campaign spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said the Democratic candidate had no regrets about his characterizations of the opposition. "Not at all," she said. "There's been a pretty high level of Republican attack machine working for the last four years for the sole purpose of smearing the Democrats. We're trying to make this campaign about issues; Republicans are making it about attacks."

Funny, here I thought it was mostly the other way around.

Anyway, classic Democratic reasoning: the individual is never responsible, larger forces are.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 07:27 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 10, 2004

Yee Ha!

OK, the charter schools bill that passed the Washington State House this afternoon has also passed the Senate. Hot damn!

Look toward the very bottom, here: the confirmation on Senate approval as well, is from the state legislature's site. It was 27-22 in the Senate.

So, 45 charters allowed over six years; local districts as primary sponsors; regional districts (ESDs) and state superintendent as alternate sponsors; state supe and mediators involved in resolution of certain potential disputes, only as defined.

Not a perfect bill, but a worthy and encouraging start to helping under-served minority students get a more rigorous education in public schools.

Doubtless Gov. Locke has pen in hand. Here's his press release of two days ago championing several education bills, including the charter schools legislation.

Congratulations to all involved, with a big hat tip to the Federal Way School District, the only public school district in the state to testify in favor of the bill at House hearings earlier in this year's session.

Message to Seattle School Board and the teachers union: fear doesn't sell!

It's a new century. Are you ready? Seattle minority non-profits are waiting in the wings as charter operator applicants.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 06:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Charter Schools Bill Heads to State Senate

Stefan Sharkansky at Sharkblog, as ever, on the case for charter schools. Here's his update: the bill passed the House today, on to the State Senate. With one day left in the session.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 02:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Rossi on a Roll

The race for Washington Governor has barely started, but it's getting more interesting anyway. If the latest Elway Poll is any indication, the personable suburban conservative is gaining steam against the liberal, long-time public servant.

Trumpets GOP candidate Dino Rossi's Web site:

A new poll released by Elway Research, Inc. shows significant upward momentum for Republican candidate Dino Rossi. In a four-way head-to-head matchup, 26% of respondents chose (current WA Atty. Gen.) Christine Gregoire (D) for Governor, compared to 25% for Rossi (R), 9% for Ron Sims (D) and 3% for Phil Talmadge (D).

“After being crushed for two elections in a row, the Republicans look to have a legitimate shot at the Governor’s mansion this year,” wrote pollster Stuart Elway.

In a previous Elway poll conducted November 20-23, 2003, Gregoire received 24%, Rossi 8%, (King County Executive) Sims 5% and (former State Senator and State Supreme Court Justice) Talmadge 4%. Rossi increased his total by 17% since November, while the other candidates have remained static.

(Well, Sims DID gain 4 points).

This poll was conducted Feb. 18-21, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent. There are some caveats. In November, Rossi had not officially announced his candidacy. And there are doubtless plenty of undecideds. Still, things are a lot tighter than in the earlier Elway poll, or an Emily's List poll also done late last year.

There are reasons Rossi has a serious chance, as we've discussed here before.

At 3 percent, even conceding polls are just a snapshot in time, you've got to wonder why Talmadge is even sticking it out. Principle, I guess. King County Executive Sims, a smart and very decent guy, is similarly doomed.

Gregoire is likewise bright, decent, and well-respected by many. But something about her candidacy rubs me the wrong way: my instincts say "career politician waiting in the wings, looking to all the usual Democratic constituencies: old-line feminists, labor, etc." Ick!

Rossi's stands on some issues are a bit far to the right for me, probably because I'm a SEATTLE moderate-conservative (pro-transit, anti-sprawl, pro-choice). But he doesn't act like he's just going through the motions. So much of this stuff is gut reaction; little to do with white papers. And that's fine.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:05 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

A Changed Tikrit

Saddam's Tikrit tribesmen are glad he's gone: they've been nudged toward self-actualization, and nation-building. And there's quite a bit less money going to terrorist insurgents now that he's caught, according to the provincial governor. From the (London) Telegraph's article today:

...since Saddam was captured last December in a hole in the ground not far from the town, the attacks have faded away and the population is getting on with the dour business of trying to make a living in the new Iraq.

According to Falah al-Nakib, the governor of Salahadin province, it was Saddam's money that was funding most of the trouble.

"His capture has definitely reduced the finances that were supporting many of these gangsters," Mr al-Nakib said. "There were also some who thought that one day he might come back."

The violence had the tacit support of some local religious leaders, he added. There was also strong animosity towards the coalition from former Tikriti military officers who were heavily represented in Saddam's forces.

"We had a problem with Islamic leaders who were supporting these kind of operations," Mr al-Nakib said.

"We have discussed it with them and now they have come to accept that these actions were not good for Iraq. Now the majority of religious and tribal leaders and former officers have agreed to work together to rebuild our country."

This, from within the "Sunni Triangle." Hmmn.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 07:52 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 09, 2004

Call A Vote on the Charter School Bill, Speaker Chopp

"Give the green light to charter schools," says the Tacoma News-Tribune editorial page today to Washington House Speaker Frank Chopp (D-Seattle). I agree. Blocking a vote on HB 2295 would be cowardly. It's a very modest proposal: up to 45 charter schools over six years; school districts as the main sponsors. (It IS 2295, not 2195, as in the editorial).

I have a hard time with how hot-potato legislation that manages to win passage in its primary committee still gets deep-sixed without a floor vote, in Olympia. One oft-used line is that most of the majority party's caucus isn't behind a bill, so a floor vote shouldn't be called. (Who really knows until it happens? This is institutionalizing political cowardice). That lame argument was used this session to bottle up the charter school bill in the House. A complementary strategy is to stash the bill away in the Appropriations, and then Rules committees until the very end of the session. That also happened to HB 2295 this time around.

What's been so scary, Speaker Chopp? That the charter schools bill will pass? Or revealing that your "progresssive" Seattle Democratic House members don't want to give minority children an excellent option to faltering public schools, because - like you - they're nervous about going against the teachers union and all its campaign cash?

There's still time for Chopp and House Democrats to at least call a vote. The bill is on the floor calendar right now, and there's a 3 p.m. deadline for amendments. I'm told a vote is possible tomorrow, or Thursday, the last day of session.

Of course, Chopp knows that by waiting so long, there's barely any time left to reconcile the weaker House bill with a beefier Senate version (up to 70 charters, universities included as sponsors). If HB 2295 is called, and passes the House, Senate Republicans - who rightly favor the stronger version - may have to just sign off on the House Bill. That's acceptable. Sadly, the legislature is no place to stand on principle, and time's running out - yet again. Let's get going already on public charter schools in Washington State.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:02 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Celebrating The Icy North

A gorgeous series of photos here, taken at the 2003 Harbin (China) snow and ice festivals by R. Todd King. My favorites include the mock Great Wall (of ice), and the Thai Temple, also made of ice. The snow sculptures are outstanding, too. Thanks, Lorna!

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 08, 2004

It's Not Black & White

Are school security guards too hard-assed, and sometimes racist to boot? Or are they usually just dealing with reality? More today on a recent controversy near Seattle, from the King County Journal.

The three black students in the Kent schools and the Seattle chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People made a $10 million claim against the district, alleging physical and psychological abuse by security officers, behavior that they believe is supported by Kent administrators. The NAACP claims the three students were slammed into lockers, kneed in the back, pepper sprayed and handcuffed.

NAACP chapter President Carl Mack acknowledged that the three students had other disciplinary actions in the past, but he said the district has not responded to his request for information on how many times students have been handcuffed in the district.

The district denies the accusations, saying the students were not mistreated, but late last week declined an invitation to have the three security guards in question talk about their actions.

While not commenting specifically on the claim against the Kent district, Chuck Lind, senior deputy prosecuting attorney with King County who handles juvenile cases, said parents would be 'shocked' at the types of assaults by students on teachers in schools and even school officers.

'The type of violence within public schools and the level of behavior that is treated as acceptable would surprise the public if they were aware of it,' Lind said.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 04:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

NAACP To Consider Morals of Award Nominees

Don't nominate for an "image award" an entertainer indicted on child pornography charges. That was the message from Project 21, a leading conservative African-American group, to the NAACP after the NAACP included R. Kelly as a contender for one of its coveted "Image Awards," in the outstanding album category.

Now, Project 21 and member Mychal Massie are praising the NAACP for indicating moral conduct will be factored into future award nominations.

Project 21's update today includes this:

This year's Image Award winners were announced March 6 and the awards ceremony will be broadcast live on Fox on March 11. Luther Vandross won the award in the best album category.

As E! Online reported March 7: "Vandross' win for best album avoided a potentially embarrassing moment for the NAACP. The civil rights group had been under fire after R. Kelly, who is facing child-pornography charges in two states, was nominated for his 'Chocolate Factory.' Critics complained that Kelly's nomination tainted the whole idea of the Image Awards -- which are given out to artists who reflect a positive image of African-Americans and other ethnic minorities in show business -- leading to NCAAP President President Kweisi Mfume to call for a change in how contenders are selected."

We should add here that of course, indictments don't equal convictions. But even though positive images include many possibilities, proposing to honor someone indicted on child-porn charges probably is not one of them.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 07, 2004


Greek election results in! Conservatives have taken from socialists the prime ministry and a majority of seats in parliament. Socialists had run the show for the last 10 years. The new prime minister is Kostas Karamanlis, a U.S.-educated lawyer. Reuters downplays it, as though Greeks were simply opting a for a new brand of Feta. Sure - socialists, conservatives, whatever.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:12 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Economic Policy 101

Again demonstrating profound wisdom, the government of Egypt is trying to ban performances by foreign belly-dancers.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Grickle Grass Grows No More

Don't miss this incisive piece about the marketing of Dr. Suess "within an inch - maybe beyond - of his reputation," by Leisure and Arts features editor Eric Gibson in The Wall Street Journal.

This week marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Dr. Seuss--Theodor Seuss Geisel--the great children's author and the father of such immortal figures as the Cat in the Hat, the Grinch, Horton, the Lorax and, lest we forget, the Sneetches. Tuesday, the author's birthday, marked the launch of the "Seussentennial," as his fans are calling it.

The tributes are wide and various....But exactly which Dr. Seuss is being celebrated? Is it the literary Seuss, creator of charmingly anarchic, oddball characters whose adventures are recounted in ingenious nonsense verse? Or is it the Seuss of Hollywood and myriad product tie-ins who has been "interpreted" and marketed and theme-parked within an inch--maybe beyond--of his reputation?

...if the literary Seuss is Edward Lear, the Hollywood Seuss is "Saturday Night Live"--adult-themed humor that gets its laughs by pushing the envelope and trading in adolescent versions of sex, violence and scatological humor. The characters themselves are slightly frightening, as if in the grip of dark impulses.

....We think of innocence now as a kind of addle-headed, Pollyanna state, something to be mocked or disabused. But it is of course an entire realm--physical, emotional, psychological--with a strange wisdom of its own. Earlier generations, Geisel's included, saw it as their obligation to preserve that realm, especially for children. Indeed, Dr. Seuss made it jump to life.

...And now, through this month's celebrity canonization, Geisel himself has become a commodity. But he doesn't need a postage stamp or a star, or more cheesy souvenirs. He needs to be left alone, like innocence itself, so his writings can speak for themselves."

Amen, Mr. Gibson. And thank you.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:24 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 05, 2004

Sovereignty, Yes; Big Brother, No

Some Native-Americans - including high-profile figure Russell Means - are dissing the Democratic Party, in South Dakota. With Republican John Thune challenging incumbent Democrat and Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle in November, core values are Topic One.

Bruce Whalen is a college student who speaks his beliefs with conviction, but his message aims to turn the political status quo on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation on its head. The Pine Ridge man's mission is to persuade people to do something they don't do here: Vote Republican.

...Whalen, 41, grew up in Pine Ridge, moved to Utah as a teen, and returned to South Dakota to raise his family and try to build a career. He is one semester away from a business degree. In Utah, Whalen said he realized the Republican Party more closely mirrored his traditional Lakota values than the Democratic Party: respect for life, limited government, sovereignty and local control.

Whalen believes government-funded programs and tribal politics that dole out the money are the root of the reservation's poverty, alcoholism, abuse and other problems. 'I see how the social programs are devastating the people around here,' he said during a recent break from classes at Pine Ridge Oglala Lakota College. 'The Democrats are hurting us.'

...Though Indians in South Dakota traditionally vote Democratic, Thune's campaign has picked up some well-known support.

Indian activist-turned-politician Russell Means is campaigning for Thune and telling Indians the virtues of becoming truly sovereign and free from government rule. The Democratic Party helped establish a system that makes Indians beholden to the federal government, and Daschle helped create such an environment, Means said.

'I mean, it's pure communism, and it's an abject failure - just like it was in the Soviet Union. It's failure. You've created a dictatorship by the Bureau of Indian Affairs,' he said.

Another early warning here. More often, African-Americans, Latinos, and now perhaps Native-Americans, are beginning to question the Big Government approach to every social ill. Many African, Asian and Caribbean immigrants to the U.S. share similar values. Before long, the Mule's national constituency may shrink to Labor, Hollywood elites and the Hate-Bush Left.

Article via Rapid City Journal (free registration required).

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:24 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Waitron, There's A Thumb-tip In My Salad

I think I'll be eating at home for the forseeable future.

Seems a severed thumb part turned up in a salad at a Red Robin burger and spirits emporium in Ohio.

A search for the word "thumb" on the Red Robin web site yielded no results.

There was this, though, about the corporate values of the major chain operation, which opened its first restaurant in Seattle in 1969:

Our VALUES create an “Unbridled” culture where Team Members use honor, integrity, seeking knowledge and having fun to deliver unprecedented service to Guests.

Sometimes extraordinary things happen as a result of our “Unbridled” philosophy, we call these “Unbridled Acts.”

I don't think this is what they had in mind.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:31 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 04, 2004

The Way to a Man's Heart....

In Afghanistan, they just love Claxton Fruitcakes from Claxton, Georgia.

Lieutenant Colonel Glenn Bramhall of Spartanburg, South Carolina, commands a unit training Afghani soldiers on armored fighting vehicles and tanks, and got a package from home. Two Claxton fruitcakes. The Tapei Times reports that at tea one day, a slice proffered by Bramhall went over big...

...with an Afghan general, who devoured it and demanded to know which 'secret' bakery in Kabul baked the cakes, because his people had never had such a delicacy. Bramhall gave him his second cake and promised more....In the end....70kg of fruitcake -- or six cases (were delievered) -- to Bramhall in Afghanistan. 'The delivery caused riots, fights,' because everyone wanted some, Bramhall said. Bramhall has since e-mailed Claxton to let them know that their fruitcakes have been part of the "peace-keeping" effort in Afghanistan.

Maybe we should be airlifting Krispy Kremes to Baghdad.

Hat tip to Jim Miller.

ADDENDUM: Claxton fruitcakes clearly have iconic status in the South. When a Savannah radio station held a contest in which fruitcakes were launched, catapulted and dropped - to see just how well or not they'd splatter - no Claxton fruitcakes were allowed to be used.

Place your online orders here: the one soaked in Kentucky bourbon could be fun.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 03:29 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Silliness: A Serious Problem

How to know if someone is silly? Hugh Hewitt identifies telltale signs.

Silly people listen to Michael Moore. Silly people issue marriage licenses to couples ineligible to receive them because they feel that it is important to do so. Silly folks think Dick Cheney is still running Halliburton and that Halliburton is running the war. Silly people make ads for websites that feature George W. Bush morphing into Hitler. Silly people think we've got Osama bin Laden stashed away in a cave waiting for a September debut. Silly people look to Maureen Dowd for insight into the world.

Read the whole thing, from today's Weekly Standard online.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 02:10 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Darwin Award Nominee?

You're driving your wife and two kids in a car rented under someone else's name. You've got no license. You're already a suspect in a drug probe. AND you're carrying five ounces of crack cocaine. Naturally, you take precautions. You have your wife put the big crack baggie in the little one's diaper. Smooth move, or not?

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:12 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Catchy, Very Catchy

There go the Ugly Americans again. Into Haiti, now. Time for a new bumper sticker; and the bloggers at Who Knew have an idea. Take a look here.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Walks Like a Duck, Quacks Like a Duck

You'd think that Democrats would be smart enough to hold their 2004 national convention somewhere like say, Kansas City, or Dallas. But no, they opted for Boston.

Which prompted Republican former House Majority Leader Dick Armey to say last year, "If I were a Democrat, I would feel a heck of a lot more comfortable in Boston, than say, America."

Now, in the current issue of Boston Magazine, Armey is apolologizing. Except, as the magazine reports, he was essentially correct. Boston is very different. The magazine researched the matter and found that:

...Bostonians are more likely to have university educations, are far more likely to have Ph.Ds, are more likely to read daily newspapers, make more money, buy more books, listen to more classical music, have the highest attendance rates at cultural events, own fewer guns, are less likely to be obese or smoke cigarettes, are more likely to work out, and are less likely to shop at Wal-Mart.

In other words, they're effete liberal fops, with no comprehension whatever of essential stuff like barbeque, Merle Travis, and target practice.

Armey was right the first time around.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 07:48 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

March 03, 2004

Get Blessed by Sacred Steel

You do NOT, I mean NOT, want to miss this exceptional gospel-rock-blues experience tommorow night at one of Seattle's coolest music venues for grown-ups, The Tractor Tavern. I'll just let my man Dan Tyack tell it:

Steel guitarist Darick Campbell, of the acclaimed gospel group The Campbell Brothers, will perform in his first Seattle appearance at the Tractor Tavern in Ballard on Thursday March 4th, starting at 8:00 pm. He will be accompanied by Seattle’s own Unsanctified Gospel Revival.

Darick Campbell is the youngest brother in the award winning group the Campbell Brothers. The Campbell Brothers are the foremost practitioners in the Sacred Steel tradition: rockin’ African-American gospel music featuring the pedal and lap steel guitar. The Campbell Brothers have recorded 6 albums on the Arhoolie and Rope-A-Dope labels and have taken their music everywhere from the Hollywood Bowl, to the Kennedy Center, to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, to the Festival of World Sacred Music in Morocco. Darick has amazed audiences all over the world with his emotionally powerful lap steel playing, and is excited about bringing his music to Seattle for the first time.

The Unsanctified Gospel Revival is a collection of phenomenal Seattle musicians from varied backgrounds. It was founded by steel guitarist Dan Tyack, a musician with a background which ranges from playing the Grand Old Opry to Carnegie Hall with artists such as Asleep at the Wheel and Vince Gill. Dan has recorded and toured with the Campbell Brothers, and formed the Unsanctified Gospel Revival to bring the Sacred Steel musical message to the Northwest. For this concert, the band includes local legend Orville Johnson on slide guitar, members of Skerik’s Crack Sabbath (Mike Stone on drums and Ron Weinstein on B3), and Maktub guitarist Thaddeous Turner.

Modern pedal steel guitar music is a refreshing change from grunge, pop, emo, folk, country, straight-ahead blues, and any other style you can name. Often drawing heavily from Pentecostal Praise music which employs lap steel- or pedal steel-led combos, it is reaching a growing audience. Darick Campbell IS great; I've got a Campbell Brothers CD and they absolutely wail. THIS is soul music, OK? If you're reading Rosenblog in Puget Sound, come on down to The Tractor Thursday night, and party.

Here's the Tractor Tavern's site, with address, phone number, and a link to buy tickets online (scroll down a ways). You can also take your chances and buy tix at the door, if they're not at capacity: cash or check only. For more background: Campbell Brothers site; Tyack's, and a 2000 Seattle Times piece I did on Tyack.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:37 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

March 02, 2004

Former Top Editor: Women's Mags Sell Fear and Knee-Jerk Liberalism

Myrna Blyth, former editor of Ladies' Home Journal, lets it rip in 'Spin Sisters: How the Women of the Media Sell Unhappiness and Liberalism to the Women of America.'

She gets pretty fair treatment today in the New York Times.

Naturally though, The Times has to include some nasty scraps from aggrieved industry insiders (read the whole article). Here's the filet.

In the book Ms. Blyth indicts a whole category of magazines as politically tendentious and editorially alarmist. 'Deep down, most of our Spin Sisters are just good old-fashioned left-wingers, wired for a liberal response to every issue,' she writes. Ms. Blyth suggests that this reflexively liberal bent stems from the conceit that women are victims. 'Do we spend our days worrying whether antiperspirants cause breast cancer or wondering if a long airline ride will cause a fatal blood clot?' she writes. 'Or are we just observing today's favorite media technique to paint women's lives to women audiences as a picture of accumulated woes?'

...Ms. Blyth, 64, was editor of Ladies' Home Journal for more than two decades, arriving in 1981 from Family Circle to turn around a foundering magazine. In 1998 she helped conceive More, a magazine for women over 40, one of the most successful new magazines in recent years. She retired last July from the Meredith Corporation, which also publishes Better Homes and Gardens and other women's magazines.

Ms. Blyth said she had written 'Spin Sisters' both as a corrective and a penance. 'I was a Spin Sister,' she said during a recent lunch. 'I used the female fear factor to sell magazines.'

....Ms. Blyth has always been an odd fit in the magazine sisterhood. She said she often attended events or parties where she was the only Republican in the room. And she said it was women's magazines, not her, that had done most of the changing.

'It became convenient to tell women about their stress, their fears, their woes in the 90's,' she said. 'I lived through 30 years in the industry, and I did not like what these magazines had become.'

....Ms. Blyth contends that women's magazines use over-the-top cover headlines to compete on the newsstand and to create insecurity that makes women the willing consumers that advertisers crave. Articles about stress, a hardy perennial, are mostly conjured, she argues.

'A woman comes home from work and she has to choose between Domino's and Hamburger Helper, and that becomes stress," Ms. Blyth said. 'It's silly.'

Ms. Blyth finds pathology everywhere she looks in the magazine rack. To judge by the articles, she said, women are always in danger of being hunted and killed by the opposite sex. 'He is going to kill me! Is anybody listening?' read one Glamour headline. The perils are everywhere. 'The Health Hazard in Your Handbag' read the headline on another article.

So much of this just seems stuff to wrap around ads, but is really about buying into a clientized, consumerist society. A great antidote to the big-time women's magazines is, naturally, online. Check out ifeminists.

Times story tip via I Want Media.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:19 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 01, 2004

3 to 9 million U.S. Blogs, Pew Center Says

American Internet users have started some 3 to 9 million blogs, and about 600,000 personal web sites in the U.S. (many of them blogs) are updated several times daily. This compares to fewer than 1,500 daily newspapers. All this from a meaty summary by veteran journalist, professor and blogger Bob Stepno of the newly-released Pew Center report, "Content Creation Online." Stepno notes that while the numbers aren't stunning, AP's take that blogging is still infrequent needs re-consideration. He asks, infrequent compared to what? Not daily newspapering.

Of course, most serious bloggers couldn't exist without the print press. For all the legitimate criticism major daily papers get, they get an awful lot right, too. A healthy, free press is crucial to any democracy, and civil society. The blogosphere is in its infancy, and there are too many blogs - for my taste - that are trivial and self-absorbed. But many are excellent, and as their numbers grow, blogs will become less exotic and attract a growing percentage of news participants - or what used to be called readers, listeners and viewers.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 04:20 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Kerry's Post-Vietnam Conduct Unbecoming, Slain Vet's Daughter Says

Laura Bartholomew Armstrong's dad died fighting in Vietnam when she was eight years old. And she remembers Vietnam Veterans Against the War quite well. This does not play to John Kerry's advantage with her. From today's Opinion Journal:

As the kid of a real war hero who did not come back, I'd like to comment not on Kerry's service, but his postservice activities. Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Mr. Kerry's organization of choice when he returned from his shortened tour of duty in Vietnam (and his springboard to fame), was known to me even as a child. The organization, while providing a place for angst-ridden vets to land after coming home, had an awful effect on those of us who lost our fathers.

It was bad enough to hear our dads criticized by those who hated the military, but to hear vets allege rampant war crimes and call their fellow soldiers evil before all the world really twisted the knife. Mr. Kerry led the way, proud in the company of Jane Fonda and others we believed had caused the deaths of good men. This group's testimony tarnished honorable actions. After taking the oath to preserve and protect, they grandstanded, throwing service awards in a show of defiance that diminished each sacrifice. Their stories dominated while the stories of thousands of honorable vets went untold. I don't hold it against them after so many years, but I'm dead sure I don't want their darling Kerry, the man who voted against funding our guys in Operation Iraqi Freedom, to be our next commander in chief.

In 2004, nothing is more important than continuing to protect America and fight terrorism. President Bush has led, not perfectly but earnestly. He has put much on the line to do what he believes is right. And he needs our continued support in the months to come.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Give Saddam What's Due - Now!

My seven-year-old son keeps asking me when Saddam's trial will start. He's not terribly fond of the guy. I give him my best (but still somewhat lame) answers: after they've gathered all the evidence, and worked just out who will try him. Then I go into the required song and dance on due process, EVEN for Saddam.

But there's another tack, with strategic and moral justification. Just kill Saddam. That's what writer and Portland blogger Michael J. Totten argues in this Tech Central Station opinion piece. Due process is not the issue here, says Totten. The facts are already clearly known. Nor is this about the death penalty, which, Totten says, he hates.

The first order of business is establishing peace and security in Iraq. Saddam's very existence obstructs that process. Saddam Hussein is no Jeffrey Dahmer. He has comrades loose in the streets; murderous, terrorizing, suicide-bombing fanatics. They murder aid workers and civil servants. They kill humanitarian envoys from the United Nations. They impale themselves on coalition forces, and massacre their own Iraqi countrymen. They are thugs and terrorists who declared open war on their country and civilization.

If Saddam Hussein lives he will call to them. If Saddam Hussein lives he will rally them without speaking a word. You can bet your bottom dollar they will demand his release. They could do what a Chechen death squad did in Moscow: take 700 hostages in a theater, wire it tight with explosives, and -- as Christopher Hitchens would put it -- demand the impossible, and demand it at gunpoint.

Saddam Hussein is a danger as long as he breathes.

Totten has a point.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:59 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Ditch the Stiff

It's not easy work preserving Lenin's corpse "entombed in a granite-and-marble mausoleum in Red Square," acccording to this article in the Jewish World Review. (Thanks, Lorna Lou).

...his curator...Yuri Denisov-Nikolsky....(reports)...the body is sealed in a glass sarcophagus, cooled to 61 degrees, with the humidity between 80 and 90 percent. Some say Lenin appears to be sleeping. Others compare him to waxed fruit. With the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Russian government stopped financing the preservation of the body, Denisov-Nikolsky said. Private donations pay the meager salaries of his 15-person staff at a research lab called Medical Biological Technologies. The physicians and professors on the team, he said, earn $200 a month.

The mausoleum staff also visits Vietnam to check on the body of Ho Chi Minh, on display in Hanoi. Denisov-Nikolsky was on the Soviet team that secretly embalmed "Uncle Ho" in a North Vietnamese jungle cave in 1970.

So how DO they do it?

Specially filtered lighting gives Lenin's face a warm glow. Botox, collagen and modern cosmetics aren't used, Denisov-Nikolsky said, with a polite harrumph. A mild bleach is employed to combat occasional fungus stains or mold spots on Lenin's face. The skin is examined closely each week, using precision, Russian-made instruments that measure its moisture, color and contour. Dehydration - and time - are the principal enemies. Lenin gets an extreme makeover every 18 months or so. The mausoleum is closed for two months and the body is immersed in a bath of glycerol and potassium acetate for 30 days. The skin slowly absorbs the solution, regaining its moisture and pliancy.

Yet, most Russians under 50 would prefer to ditch the stiff. Might be something to do with Lenin's role as spiritual godfather to at least 65 million mass murders by 20th Century Communist regimes worldwide.

A poll last month by the Public Opinion Foundation in Moscow found that nearly 60 percent of Russians younger than 50 want Lenin to be removed and buried. 'Only people over 50 more frequently reply that they're against Lenin's burial,' said foundation President Alexander Olson. This age group views 'suggestions that the body be removed as blasphemous.'

Others argue that an emerging democracy - even if it's a democracy in name only - shouldn't maintain monuments to a dictator responsible for decades of suffering and millions of deaths.....

I'll say.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:21 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

GOP Pin-ups

Who says Republican women are dour Church Ladies? Not me! Especially now that you can buy a Babes For Bush 2004 Calendar, and other BFB merchandise. All proceeds to Bush-Cheney '04.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:57 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack