April 30, 2004

Honesty, Manners Only Get You So Far

Some years ago, Readers Digest conducted an experiment. Wallets filled with money and identification were left in public places. More people returned the wallets to their owners in Seattle than anywhere else. The suburbs of Houston and LA, and the cities of Dayton, Atlanta and Las Vegas didn't score too well.

My wife lost a credit card in Seattle, and it was returned by total strangers. I've had my lost wallet returned here. The nice couple did admit checking first to see if my lottery ticket was a winner. Would they have given it back in that case? I didn't ask. My wife and I have also returned a lost wallet: it belonged to a Catholic school teacher. Always stoke the karma.

So, last night. Came 10:30, dishes washed, kids tucked in. I reach for my latest book, Garrison Keillor's "Love Me." It was with the knapsack, right? Right. Where's the knapsack? In the park, it turns out, sitting in the dark right next the bench by the sandbox. My library book still on the bench. Not a chance I'd have been as lucky in my old hometown of Chicago.

Seattle-ites are also notoriously polite. They wait for the "Walk" sign. They stop their vehicles in the middle of the street to let you cross, if in true non-native form, you're jaywalking. (By the way, police issue tickets here to jaywalkers).

All the civility is a bit taxing at times. I must be a bit of a cranky "Back-East-er" because I'd much rather the polite motorists just speed on by, and not patronize me. "No, YOU first, I INSIST (jerk)."

Then again, after having lived in Seattle a few years, we went to Miami's South Beach before heading out to Key West. Stepping off a street corner with the "Walk" sign beaming, I was nearly run over by some idiot motorist. Kinda made me appreciate what we've got.

Still, some believe Seattle's famed everyday civility masks a deep-seated aloofness and unsociability of natives toward non-natives. The local papers have printed letters to the editor from people moving away, who gave just that reason.

The theme also pops up on a couple of fairly pissy anti-Seattle blogs run by locals. One such is seattlesucks.com. Top story as of today, "This Just In: Seattle Still Sucks." Brilliant. Given the few measly posts per month on the site, I guess maybe there's not quite as much suckage as hypothesized.

There's also the "Sick of Seattle" site, currently flogging a planned April, 2003 gathering of sickly sorts. Not to mention "Seattle Schmeng: The Mystery of Why Seattle Sucks." About one post a month, but some funny rants and sometimes, a lot of responses.

Some of the rants hit home. Too many folks in Seattle seem to have a stick lodged in the wrong place. I've noticed that just talking at a normal volume to a companion, say on a park bench, or waiting at a traffic signal, can earn you a dirty look from someone whose delicate equilibrium you've upset. Whisper, and pass the Zoloft!

A local writer named Matt Villano wrote a hysterical piece in the Seattle Weekly a while back about what happens to fans who dare cheer a bit exuberantly for The Mariners at Safeco Field. Major social opprobrium. His big problem: he was from New York.

For our first few years here, my wife and I did find that nearly all the friends we made were from "somewhere else." But that's changing, maybe partly because of my work. Writing a bi-weekly guest opinion column for a daily newspaper, and now doing a blog, I've gotten acquainted with a good number of friendly Seattle or Puget Sound natives. There's hope for them yet, if they'd just talk louder, and cuss more.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:59 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

TNT's Man in Iraq Provides Another Perspective

Kudos to Seattle's PBS affiliate KCTS and "KCTS Connects" host Enrique Cerna for a fair, balanced live show last night on the Iraq War. It included a longer and very useful panel discussion on arguments for and against the war, but began with Cerna's interview of Tacoma News-Tribune reporter Michael Gilbert.

Gilbert spent four months embedded with the Fort Lewis, Washington-based Stryker Brigade, which uses high-tech weaponry.

Gilbert said there was a lot of good news evident: houses being built, commerce and public life flowing. He continued, "The Iraq that I experienced (had) moments of great violence and chaos," but kids go to school, vendors' markets are full of goods, people are going to work, many projects are underway, hospitals are in good shape.

Gilbert added, "As a journalist it's hard not to concentrate on the conflict;" that's where people get the impression it's all chaos, but there's much more going on.

Here's a link to the TNT's ongoing Stryker Series. Gilbert returned to Puget Sound in early March, so scroll back a ways for his on-site stories.

There's also a blog run for family and followers of the Stryker unit. It is not affiliated with any newspaper.


Next week, the Stryker Brigade will be included in an edition of PBS's "Nova" titled "Battle Plan Under Fire." The show will examine whether the military's reliance on high-tech weapons in Iraq is sufficient to defeat terrorist insurgents. Some experts think not. Local listings for Washington and a few other NW PBS stations here.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:30 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 29, 2004

Iraq War Debate On Local TV Tonight

James Na, a gutsy Seattle conservative who's written on international security for a range of publications, will be on KCTS-TV tonight as part of a panel discussion on the Iraq War and weapons of mass destruction.

Na, who often shares his views in the reader comment sections here at Rosenblog, e-mails:

I will be a guest on the live talk show KCTS Connects with Enrique Cerna on Channel 9 KCTS, a local PBS affiliate, on Thursday, April 29th, 2004 at 7 PM. The topic of discussion will be the Iraq War and the role of WMD in the war. As I understand there will be a 15-minute interview with a local reporter who just returned from Iraq, followed by 45 minutes of discussions with Enrique Cerna and four guests (including me).

Na recently wrote a guest piece for The Seattle Times about how the U.S. should deal with intensified conflict in Iraq. My blog item, with link, here. Na also contributed this piece to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, on why the U.S. must assert its influence after North Korea implodes.

I don't watch much TV, but I've seen enough of KCTS Connects to admire the balance, and inclusion of conservative viewpoints. Na will certainly liven the proceedings.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 01:14 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

New Minnesota Gun Permit Law Celebrated, Jeered One Year Later

It's been a year since Minnesota enacted a more permissive "conceal-carry" gun permitting law. As supporters noted at a state capitol rally yesterday, "The Sky Didn't Fall." In fact, the best argument that opponents of the law could muster was pretty weak: "17,000 New Guns Is Nothing to Celebrate."

Some wore T-shirts and buttons proclaiming they were "Minnesotans Against Being Shot." Wanna make a wild guess what political party they belong to?

The old restrictive law, left license issuance largely to the discretion of local authorities. Now, any adult who completes a training course and passes a criminal and mental health background check can legally own a firearm in Minnesota. All qualified individuals should be entitled to armed self-defense, if they choose.

State policy analysts had predicted some 50,000 new permits would be issued statewide in the first year after the law's passage, but only about 20,000 were. State estimates of 90,000 new permits in the first three years are now considered too high, as well.

The U.S. trend is away from overly restrictive state conceal-carry laws. It will be revealing to track how many new permits are issued, and correlate those with increases or decreases in reported gun-related crimes. Data from states with new, less-restrictive measures should (and will) be compared to that in states which have kept more restrictive regulations in place.

Will the media squarely face this challenge?

So far the indications are that more guns do NOT correlate with more crime. Unless conclusive ties can be demonstrated between increases in gun-related crimes and liberalized gun permit laws, there is no reason whatsoever to attack the latter.

I believe restrictive laws will never keep guns from criminals, but can make it harder for law-abiding people to protect themselves. If that qualifies me as a "gun nut," OK.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 28, 2004

Stop Them Before They Legislate Again

The California legislature is mulling a bill to ban smoking by adults in cars when children 18 and under are along for the ride.

Backers say it's necessary because some parents don't know about the dangers of second-hand smoke. I think smoking is a vile habit. And I support smoking bans in indoor public places. But local ordinances in California to ban smoking on beaches, and now this proposal, are overkill.

We know that soda pop boosts childhood obesity, and it has been banned or heavily restricted in lunchrooms and vending machines in some public schools. That's fine. But would we regulate ingestion of soda pop by kids in private homes or automobiles? Or television viewing? All are arguably as bad for kids as second-hand smoke.

Gov. Arnold Shwarzenegger should make good on his goal of scaling the California legislature down to a part-time operation. A ballot initiative would likely pass, some observers say. Even with the state's pressing fiscal challenges, lawmakers have too much time on their hands. And a Nanny State costs more.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:23 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Egyptian Newspaper Editor: All Terrorists Are Zionist Agents

"Zionist Jews" have perpetrated all terrorism, according to the deputy editor of the Egyptian government daily Al-Gumhouriyya.

In a translation issued by the highly-respected Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), the paper's deputy editor Abd Al-Wahhab 'Adas wrote:

If you want to know the real perpetrator of every disaster or every act of terrorism, look for the Zionist Jews. They are behind all the violent and terror operations that have occurred everywhere in the world...after every terror operation they perpetrate, they leave a sign, clue, or traces meant to show that the perpetrators are Arab Muslims.

Damn, I guess The Mossad is even better than I thought.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:45 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bile Isn't Entertainment

The liberal new liberal radio network Air America has lost two top execs and its paid slots in Chicago and Los Angeles. One survivor tells the LA Times it's just a hiccup, not the stomach flu.

Don't bet on it.

About.com's radio industry commentator Corey Deitz nails it in a recent online piece, "Air America Needs Zoloft."

To suggest Air America Radio has a struggle ahead of it, is to be kind....Their reason for being did not emerge from a will to entertain their listeners.

Foremost in Franken, Garofalo, and Rhodes' sights are the Republicans, the President, and the upcoming election. After some listening, it's painfully clear that entertainment has been subjugated to what is mostly a political safari where anger and resentment overshadows all else.

Certainly, the Air America Radio hosts have a right to espouse their views. But, please: keep me awake.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 07:24 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 27, 2004

The Jelly-Donut Paradigm

Are you a conservative, liberal, libertarian or communist? You'll know for sure after you take this test, courtesy of Donald J. Hagen. Pretty funny stuff.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 01:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Mean Girls Break New Ground, And Body Parts

Big splash in U.S. (and even foreign) newspapers yesterday and today stemming from this AP story on 12-year-old Nicole Townes. She was beaten into a coma Feb. 28 by, um, girlfriends. It happened after another girl's boyfriend kissed Townes on a dare at a birthday party.

The most disturbing thing about the whole case: the rival's mother was a primary instigator, telling her daughter to "handle your business" (i.e. defend your honor). No, wait, what's worse is that a meek 12-year-old girl was scapegoated; as opposed to whomever issued the dare, and as opposed to the "boyfriend" himself. The whole thing sounds like a weird set-up.

The AP story gives the impression that Townes has just come out of her coma, but in fact that happened six weeks ago, as this report from WBAL indicates. The Washington Times had the horrifying details of the attack in its March 11 edition, a few days after charges were filed. Afefe Tyehimba's commentary in the Baltimore City Paper closes with a chilling reminder of just how commonplace youth violence has become.

The real value added by AP reporter Wiley Hall's story is the sociological backdrop.

The beating was shocking not just because of its savagery, but because it was meted out by other girls. Authorities say it is symptomatic of a disturbing trend around the country: Girls are turning to violence more often and with terrifying intensity. "We're seeing girls doing things now that we used to put off on boys," former Baltimore school Police Chief Jansen Robinson said. "This is vicious, 'I-want-to-hurt-you' fighting. It's a nationwide phenomenon and it's catching us all off guard."

...Phil Leaf, director of the Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, said society should not have been caught by surprise by the surge in girl violence.

"In retrospect, we can see girls falling prey to the same influences as boys," Leaf said. "A decade or so ago, we were worried about the lack of male role models in the home. Today, there is a dearth of effective female role models as the mothers who used to be there are forced back into the job market or get rendered ineffective through abuse of drugs and alcohol."

Which underscores the need for fathers to be there. Instead, we excuse absent dads. Why expect too much from men, those dumb beasts?

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:48 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

More About New Saudi Blogger

Newly-discovered Saudi blogger Religious Policeman answers some FAQs.

As you'll see, he addresses skeptics who wonder if he really is a Saudi, and a Muslim. You'll have to decide if he's the real deal, or a CIA plant. Look the blog over, come back daily (it's well worth it), and let me know what you think. I'm leaning toward: for real.

I am a Saudi, living in Riyadh. I am married (to my one and only ever wife), have a family, a Filipino maid, and a driver (her husband). Beyond that, I am not prepared to disclose....I'm a great believer in the Internet, and in the power of information to cast a light into the darker corners of our world. I'm addressing an English-speaking audience, in the hope that they will recognize that on the whole we are good folk, just like anyone else, but caught between an ultra-conservative Royal dictatorship on one side, and terrorists on the other. I am hopeful that this will inform their opinions of us. I would also like to encourage my fellow-countrymen to become fellow-bloggers as well.

...The ruling elite would not look kindly upon my efforts. If found out, I would certainly lose my job, as already happens to those who publish critical letters in the press. I might also become a guest of Prince Nayif, until I 'got my mind right.' However I'm not a super-hero; if I suspect that a net is closing, then I will cease blogging.

...All Saudi ISP's are connected to the outside world thru a bank of servers in the KACST (King AbdulAziz City of Science and Technology), where no doubt much listening goes on. However, like many Saudis, I illegally use a satellite link for my connexion. This materializes who-knows-where in the wider Internet. Maybe there is also some form of relay involved. Who knows.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:59 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 26, 2004

Whoopi's Coat Hanger

Whoopi Goldberg brandished a coat hanger at yesterday's huge abortion rights rally in Washington, D.C., saying THIS is what it'll come to again unless we mobilize.

I'm actually pro-choice; small government conservatives have no right to dictate what a woman does with her body. The emotionally charged "abortion is murder" stuff is morally grounded and within the parameters of free speech. But it kills any attempt at finding a middle ground, which perhaps is the point.

That said, I still think it's sad today's liberal-left women frame the issue in terms of fear Roe v. Wade will be overturned. The alarmists actually know, but can't say publicly, that GOP strategists and Congressional leaders would never allow confirmation of a series of Supreme Court nominees likely to trash Roe. The minute they do that, the party loses huge swaths of moderate suburban Republicans for good, especially women. Political suicide.

Choice advocates also emphasize the key role of the government, including local school districts, in providing abortion-related counseling, and contraception. OK, I'm not inherently opposed. But even though abstinence for teens often gets emphasis in writing, it only gets lip service beyond that.

More and more swing voters understand that while choice is an established legal right that should not be rescinded; abortion is usually an avoidable tragedy. We've talked about that here before.

The Left needs to harp as much on personal responsibility and family solidarity, to make sure more young women who do not want to have babies, or are not equipped to raise children, do not become pregnant. Instead, we get condoms in junior high-schools. Abortion rates have been declining according to Centers For Disease Control data, however their numbers are incomplete and haven't been updated recently. Thousands of abortions are still performed daily in the U.S., scores more globally.

In "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness," Peggy Noonan writes that she asked a friend, "a smart, thoughtful liberal," why, "if liberals are appropriately concerned about troubled teenagers getting pregnant, don't they talk to those kids about not having sex?"

Here's her liberal friend's blistering answer: "..you're missing something. It's what I call F***ing as an Entitlement. F***ing has become another entitlement to urban liberals. They think twelve-year-olds are incapable of any restraint, that little girls are ready, period. They think you can f*** without remorse, without responsibility...A lot of the these kids don't have...functioning parents..."

If Noonan's liberal friend was saying that no later than 1994 (when the book was published), small wonder Hillary Clinton was left to acknowledge yesterday that many women just aren't rallying around the choice flag anymore.

Throughout the day, speakers urged marchers to use the power of their vote to preserve abortion rights.

'There were 50 million women in our country eligible to vote who did not vote in the 2000 election,' said Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y. 'I want you to start asking people around you if they're registered to vote.'

Small wonder too that pro-choice campus feminists have so little traction.

Acknowledging recent polls showing an erosion of support for abortion rights among college-age women, (21-year-old senior and president of Northeastern University's Feminist Student Organization Adrianne) Ortega said apathy was a greater problem than dissent. She noted that of 10,000 students on campus, only 100 were members of her organization.

Because they don't buy the Chicken Little act on abortion rights; and know they're already empowered to control their destinies.

A February CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll found abortion ranked second-to-last in importance as an issue to voters, trailed only by gay marriage. A new Gallup poll shows Americans are almost evenly split on abortion, and most do not favor unrestricted abortion. More info on both polls here.

Whoopi and Gloria Steinem are leading The Lemmings of The Left over a cliff.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:57 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

April 25, 2004

The Zen of Horse Dung

Almost exactly 10 years ago, my wife and I, and our (now late) cat Owsley, flew from Chicago to Seattle one-way, on (now defunct) Mark Air. We settled in near Lowman Beach in West Seattle. I had a new job. Leaving Chicago for here was the smartest thing I've ever done, aside from getting married in 1987, and becoming a dad nine years later.

Anyhew, when I undertook my first Seattle reconnaisance mission in early April '94, with job offer in hand, I was pretty intent on exploring the region. Chicago is flat, and Lake Michigan gets old fast.

One of the first great places I went was Key Peninsula, southwest of Seattle and Northwest of Tacoma. It's a long, long, wide finger of land, bucolic and strange and wonderful.

Utopian, socialist, free-love practitioners settled there in the late 1800s, and it's still just a bit off the map of the mind, somehow. Ancient spirits lurk amidst the canopy of tall trees on the drive out past the oyster farm near Burley, along two-lane Key Peninsula "Highway."

Seattle liberal stiffs will hardly notice all the American flags and pro-Bush bumper stickers, it's so cool.

We went there again today, across Puget Sound on a ferry to Southworth, and then to Joemma Beach State Park, on the peninsula's southwest shores.

What a spot! If you're ever visting Greater Seattle (the late anti-growth newspaper columnist Emmett Watson would doubtless rotate in his grave at that phrase), or live here, but haven't been to the South Sound, hie thee to Joemma ASAP.

Today was summer, and there were just 20 people on the beach, even with the great western exposure. For some reason, the much-less impressive Penrose Point State Park on Key Peninsula draws many more visitors (probably clamming and oystering). Joemma Beach goes on forever, assuming you know to ignore the "private property" warning signs. There are no homes visible for a long way, just sheer sandstone bluffs. To boot, it's very sandy at low tide.

Walk west along Joemma Beach, and the glorious Olympic Mountains come into full view, from the south end of the range to the north. Sand dollars, scallop shells and submerged spouting clams are everywhere. Pack a picnic and some beach chairs. We had focaccia sandwiches, feta-stuffed peppers, taboulleh, Mineola tangelos, roasted turkey, crackers, Odwalla juices, and water. No to mention the all-essential pails and shovels.

You know your karma is in order when THIS happens, and you just chuckle. A horse that's been tromping about on the beach for an hour or two comes back toward you. The rider says Hi, you admire the steed. Then, the critter looks at you carefully, steps just around behind you -sitting there reading your piquant crime fiction - and offloads a fresh, steaming mass of dung.

It was meant to be. You contemplate the inevitability of horse dung, and recall fond memories associated with childhood and horses. The lovely day goes on.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:55 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 24, 2004

United Nations Condones Genocide in Sudan

Europe doesn't care about the current genocide in Sudan because it's being perpetrated by the ruling Arab Muslims. An EU bloc on the United Nations Human Rights Commission watered down a resolution on the current horrors in Sudan, deleting language condemning the genocide that Human Rights Watch and other observers have clearly identified.

Arab militias paid by the hard-line, Muslim-controlled Sudanese government have killed about 30,000 black Sudanese in the Darfur region in recent months, according to the U.S. About 900,000 have been displaced internally, more than 100,000 across the border to Chad. Gang-raping of women has been widely reported as well.

Here is how Human Rights Watch describes things in a report issued this month.

Using indiscriminate aerial bombardment, militia and army raiding, and denial of humanitarian assistance the government of Sudan and allied Arab militia, called janjaweed, are implementing a strategy of ethnic-based murder, rape and forcible displacement of civilians in Darfur as well as attacking the rebels.

The African or non-Arab Fur, Masaalit, and Zaghawa communities, from which the rebels are drawn, have been the main targets of this campaign of terror by the government. Almost one million Darfurian civilians have been forced to flee their homes in the past fourteen months and many have lost family members, livestock and all other assets.

The janjaweed militias are drawn from Arab nomadic groups. Their armed encroachment on African Zaghawa, Masaalit and Fur pastures and livestock in past years resulted in local armed self-defense measures by the targeted communities when they realized the government would not protect them. Instead of quelling the friction, the Sudanese government has increased its backing for the Arabs. Khartoum has recruited over 20,000 janjaweed which it pays, arms, uniforms, and with which it conducts joint operations, using the militias as a counterinsurgency force.

While many of the abuses are committed by the janjaweed, the Sudanese government is complicit in these abuses and holds the highest degree of responsibility for pursuing a military policy that has resulted in the commission of crimes against humanity.

All this comes as an end was in sight to a 20-year civil war in which the ruling Arab Muslims of north Sudan killed 2 million black Christian and animist south Sudanese, displaced scores more, forced children into slavery and engaged in widespread human rights abuses.

The U.S. and Australia were among the minority opposing the weak U.N. measure, which called for further investigation of the situation in Sudan.

Quite a bit of investigating has already occured.

Here's the link to the damning report from Human Rights Watch.

The U.N. Human Rights Commission doesn't deserve its name.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 03:41 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Saudi Blogger: Latest Terror Strikes There Are a Wake-Up Call

Courtesy of Jeff Jarvis' buzzmachine comes this link to one of the few known Saudi bloggers, who ironically titles his blog The Religious Policeman. In this post, he fears the current terrorist attacks in his country, against other Saudis, could foreshadow "the second Saudi civil war."

Now, all of a sudden, they are attacking Saudis. OK, Saudis from the ruling tribes, part of the security forces. But we all look the same. And suddenly we are the targets. The terrorists are not going to leave us alone, because we're not part of the government apparatus. And now we are faced with the sudden realization that we should have done something about this a long time ago.

Religious Policeman also blogs a story about a Saudi religious leader who condemned the recent Saudi terrorist killings of their countrymen with these words: "God will damn those who kill other Muslims, they will burn in hell.” RP's take:

EXCUSE ME? Are we only condemning those who kill Muslims? Is that why you said nothing after 9/11, and in May 2003, and November 2003?

(The last two were the dates of terrorist attacks that killed Westerners, mostly Americans, in Saudi Arabia).

This blog is fascinating. There's plenty of "root cause" stuff, things commonly known back here but brought to life through RP's news summaries and commentary. Through RP's eyes, we learn about the role of the corrupt royal family, oppressive religious strictures, public beheadings (jncluding pictures), and the learned men of the cloth aiding and abetting anti-U.S. terrorism. This is all leavened with lighter but important observations on technology, dating, and more.

It's a first-hand insider's picture you're unlikely to get from a foreign correspondent or Saudi papers. This shows why blogs will eventually re-make journalism. (That's already started, of course).

Suffice it to say, you'll want to bookmark the site.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 02:12 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 23, 2004

It's (Not) All Good

Frost my Johnnycakes, please.

Whenever stasis rears its ugly head, there's always Fark.

Recent highlights include a story about this unevolved CA bank robber who retired to a bar in the very same strip mall where he did the deed. Quaffing a beer and holding his sack 'o loot, he was collared shortly thereafter.

And here's an Earth Day Special, via AP and Newsday.

Two gay lovers - a man in a black dress and a boy in only a pair of shorts - protested their families' lack of understanding for their relationship by climbing a Central Park tree on Thursday, stripping, performing lewd acts in front of onlookers and refusing to come down for hours.

This has got to piss off straight (and I don't mean "closeted") gays.

Oh, Blue America is so...blue. In San Francisco, a man caught relating to a corpse in a most vile manner wasn't charged with necrophilia because - it turns out - there's no law against it in CA. However, he HAS been commanded to stay away from the funeral home.

Then there's working-class hero Michael Moore. He's outsourced his web site design and server to Canada. Maybe he could outsource himself, while he's at it.

And you'd suppose that if the NY Times ran a picture of a guy identified as a KKK member and murderer of a black sharecropper, they'd manage not to mistakenly put up the mug of Colorado U.S. Senate candidate Pete Coors. You'd be wrong. Jayson Blair is running the photo desk now.

But what bugs me most about the whole thing is that Coors' spokeswoman is named Cinamon.

I think I'll just hitch a ride on a concrete canoe.

Drew, you rock.

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

Payroll Jobs, Labor Force Up In Washington, Unemployment Down

The Bureau of Labor Statistics just today released state-by-state March numbers on non-farm payroll jobs, labor force size, and unemployment rates. These come following data reported earlier this month, that nationally, a strong 308,000 non-farm payroll jobs were added in March.

You'll have to scroll down alphabetically to see, but in Washington, non-farm payroll jobs increased by a modest 8,700 last month. The figures are preliminary.

March payroll employment in Washington was up in construction, trade/transportation/utilities, the financial sector, professional and business services, education and health services, leisure and hospitality, and government. It was down in manufacturing.

The labor force continued to grow in Washington, while unemployment continued to drop.

I'll look forward to the next data sets from the government's Household Survey, which includes non-payroll jobs.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:19 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Attack of the Nibblers

In The Nation's current profile of "The Beat Bush Brigades," you sense the visionary agenda from the start: restoring protectionist tariffs so laid-off U.S. steelworkers can get their jobs back.

The informative piece goes on to discuss the Democratic Party's "withered apparatus" and consequent emergence of a "shadow party" of (Section 527) "independent" political groups funded by environmentalists, trial lawyers, labor, abortion advocates, and the NAACP (among others).

Meanwhile, less overtly political non-profit and community groups are organizing voter registration and education drives to boost turnout for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry and down-ticket Ds. For instance, Women's Action for New Directions is reaching out to local organizations that pushed symbolic "Cities For Peace" anti-Iraq War resolutions on local governments.

Why not also target the principled activists who got the Seattle City Council to pass a resolution against a nuclear submarine from a nearby Navy base participating in our annual Seafair flotilla? Or the sages who almost got our council to ban circuses with elephants from city-owned venues because of alleged cruelty to the critters by their trainers?

The whole approach is just brilliant. Utterly brilliant. Bring together all the overwrought doomsayers and trivial nibblers. All those who react and oppose; who complain, blame, fret and fear. Those whose rallying cries now run the full gamut, from "Anyone But Bush" clear over to "Impeach Bush" and "Bush Sucks."

No wonder Democrats have lost mindshare across a huge swath of the country.

The 2002 election results were a wake-up call for progressives. It was no surprise that Democrats had been outspent, but what was surprising was the level of coordination between Republican media and grassroots initiatives and the strength of the GOP's get-out-the-vote push....Those 2000 maps that showed so many states colored red for Bush were starting to look less like anomalies and more like a fate Democrats would have to resign themselves to.

The party apparatus has withered in much of the nation. Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic National Committee chair, promised a "rural initiative" to move resources and staff into states such as North Dakota and Montana, but the money never really flowed. You can now drive for hundreds of miles across the Western United States without touching a county where the party has a viable local organization.

...One of the biggest challenges involves the delivery of a coherent message. "During the primaries, the issue for a lot of Democrats was 'Who can beat Bush?' Now, the message has to evolve," explains former Congressman Jim Jontz, who runs the "Regime Change" campaign of Americans for Democratic Action....And there remains the very serious question of whether the infrastructure is in place to turn passion into practical politicking....

Other strategists fret about whether too much money is going to television and too little to the grassroots, and about whether outreach to young nonvoters and other traditionally disengaged groups is striking the right chords.

Give The Nation some credit for laying it out. Bush and Republicans stand for unified core values. (Examples I'd give include an agressive national defense and foreign policy; economic stimuli; and high expectations in public schools). And the GOP has built a muscular national grassroots network. Meanwhile, the potential Democratic base remains fragmented and badly out-of-tune with flyover country.

Maybe that will change by November, but I wouldn't bet on it.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:24 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 22, 2004

Plumbers Beware

Recently, I blogged an item about an attempt by Louisiana state legislators to ban adult movies from in-vehicle video players, on the grounds occupants of some passing mini-van might get a glimpse and be morally compromised. Well, them good ol'boys are at it again. They're now considering a bill to make low-hanging pants illegal, such being a clear threat to the sanctity of the populace. I suppose halter-tops are seditious then, too; maybe even open-toed sandals?

Courtesy What Kind of Sick Weirdo Are You?

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:37 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Kelley's Phony Contrition

An investigative panel's report lays blame for extensive journalistic fraud by fired USA Today reporter Jack Kelley squarely on the paper's management.

The veteran scribe was found to have plagarized 100 passages, and faked parts of 20 stories. His misdeeds date as far back as 1991. Editors should have acted on early warnings but didn't, according to the report.

USA Today has aired the dirty laundry, and a top editor resigned earlier this week. And while you can't fault the paper if they played a part in wringing the following statement out of Kelley, as a journalist (even a disgraced one) he must know how lame this sounds. The words would've never been uttered if his scam hadn't been exposed.

...in a statement issued to the paper through his lawyers, Kelley (said)....'I recognize that I cannot make amends for the harm I have caused to my family, friends and colleagues. Nor can I make it up to readers who depend upon good journalism to understand a chaotic and confusing world. I can only offer my sincere apology to those I have let down,' Kelley said.

The latest journo-fakers nailed include Jayson Blair (NY Times - book deal), Stephen Glass (The New Republic - book and movie), and Bart Ripp (Tacoma News-Tribune restaurant reviewer and features writer - uh, any takers?). Dunno whether Kelley will be shopping a deal or not. Perhaps a fictional treatement, like Glass?

Anyway, USA Today is still a good read; although there's now one less reason that's true.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 03:28 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Bring On The Wiretaps!

Daniel Ruth of The Tampa Tribune is ready to spike his tofu smoothie with Stoly after the city council approved a meaningless resolution against parts of The USA Patriot Act.

Ruth could sure hit the ground running if he ever wanted to write about Seattle politix.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 03:15 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Mugged By Reality

Living in Northeast Portland is no walk in the park.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 02:51 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

U.S. Military Should Pick Its Battles More Carefully

Tami Silicio of Edmonds (a Seattle suburb) has been fired from her job with a U.S. government contractor at Kuwait International Airport for taking and making available to The Seattle Times this picture of Americans killed in Iraq, in sealed, flag-draped caskets, as they were being loaded onto a cargo plane for the flight home. The picture ran in Sunday's Times and, because of the objections of the military, and now Silicio's firing, it has created a pretty big controversy.

The U.S. military was upset because the photo's publication contravened an official policy barring pictures of remains until they reach their final destination. However, the paper and many, many people who support the decision to publish the photo argue that it was a powerful, real image that showed the real, human cost of the war.

I strongly support the war in Iraq, Bush's war on terror and the publication of the photo. (The last part has nothing to do whatsoever with my role as a regular guest opinion page contributor to The Times, I assure you).

By raising strenuous objections to the picture's publication, the military is playing into the hands of Iraq War and Bush critics who make the utterly specious argument that the current administration has no comprehension or appreciation of the human sacrifices inherent in an effort such as this. The military is prolonging the latest scandal du jour.

Most military families say their loved ones who perished in Iraq were doing what they wanted, believed firmly in the cause, and were fully aware of the risks. There are certainly legitimate criticisms of our tactics and planning, which have resulted in poor security and fatalities. That does not mean we should turn tail, as the socialist cadre believes.

The photo - and the larger difficulties - underscore the need for the Bush administration to do whatever is necessary to restore order in Iraq. And indeed, more troops are being committed. Our military presence will continue well past the hand-off of the provisional government to Iraqis on June 30.

The real debate is about stuff like this: how many MORE troops might we need? What, if anything, can the U.N. really do to help? What tactical changes are necessary to stabilize Iraq (given leaving is not remotely an option)? How can Iraqi security forces be strengthened? And so forth.

The military should pick its battles more carefully.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:39 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

April 21, 2004

Charter Schools Gaining Momentum, Despite Continued Hostility From Organized Labor

A very dear old friend from Boston visited recently, a die-hard liberal (actually he calls himself an anarchist). We used to do college radio together. Chuck was an awesome buddy to our two kids that night, and we partied hearty. We also jousted over Bush and Iraq, and all that. He's a former public school bus driver, and at one point asked (hopefully, I think) if my son attended a public school. I reported no, he goes to a non-denominational private school because my wife and I feel the public schools in Seattle are just too dicey. Chuck raised his eyebrows slightly, but said no more on that topic.

A few weeks later our soul-pals Mark and Ellen visited from Weehawken, NJ. Another great time, and more spirited disagreements about Bush and Iraq (I'm pro-George, they're definitely not). One twist, though. Their eldest is in a public charter school, which they swear by. Without it, they said, they'd be essentially screwed. That some parents and educators far removed from The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy support charter schools is something I've seen here in Seattle, as well.

As the following news and commentary round-up shows, charters continue gaining momentum around the country.

The Boston Globe's Scott Lehigh today shoots down two canards about the very special, and demanding public schools called charters: they they supposedly skim the cream (best students only) and don't serve special needs kids. He goes a step further and argues that public charter schools in Massachusetts should be expanded, over the entrenched opposition of the teachers union.

My respect for tennis star Andre Agassi is immense after reading this piece in today's NY Times. It's about a charter school he started in his hometown of Las Vegas. The school district is the nation's sixth largest and among the lowest-performing. At the Andre Agassi College Prepatory Academy, the student body is 96 percent non-white and the school day is eight hours, not six.

...Agassi Prep students are required to wear uniforms and repeat a 'code of respect' daily. Both parents and students must sign 'commitment to excellence' contracts.

'We expect a lot from our children,' Mr. Agassi said. 'And when you expect a lot from a child, it means that you think a lot of that child. I think that our standard of expectations teaches these children that they should expect a lot from themselves.'

There've been a few administrative snafus, now being worked out, and test results show definite progress for kids who would have otherwise been left behind.

In California, a state legislative committee has just passed a bill that would allow universities and colleges to serve as sponsors of charter schools. Nationally, that key role is too often granted only to local school districts, many hostile to charters. The Sacramento Bee editorial board is all for the bill, but worries - appropriately - it contains too many restrictions, as currently drafted.

Still, charter backers and proponents of high-stakes testing are driving the debate on bringing America's public schools up to global speed. Charter opponents standing on the sidelines and crying 'foul' are marginalizing themselves.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:32 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Kerry's Ship Foundering

John Kerry's campaign is hitting the wrong notes for Boston Globe columnist Derrick Z. Jackson, who's clearly no fan of George W. Bush. A recent Kerry campaign-funded mailing from Demo strategist James Carville left Jackson scratching his head.

What was striking about the letter was that the entire first page was about how Bush misleads, but not a single sentence about how Kerry would lead. Even as Bush flounders in self-righteousness, you have to wonder if the ABB (Anybody But Bush) crowd is lulling themselves into a reverse trap. Letters like this make you wonder if ABB also means All But Blind.

The reality is there is a core on folks on the right who believe Bush is an appointed guardian of unilateral American might. There is a core of people on the left who believe Bush is still not their president. But if it was so obvious to Americans outside the elite east and the Bay Area that Bush was a scoundrel, then the polls should not be merely even - Kerry should be ahead by a landslide.

Kerry's weak Washington State effort is dismaying, especially given strong GOP grassroots efforts here for Bush, says Josh Feit, liberal columnist for the Seattle alternative weekly The Stranger. In last week's piece, "R Is For Ready," he noted:

...be forewarned all you Ds who were so impressed with yourselves for waking up early on a Saturday morning and showing up at your caucus on the heels of the Howard Dean adrenaline rush: The Rs are fired up too. They're itching to defend their man.....

The R energy also grabbed my attention because, well, John Kerry has not. I'm willing to swallow Kerry's lame position on gay rights and his dumb corporate tax break just to get Bush out of office, but Kerry's anemic campaign is all the more troubling when my Seattle bubble is disturbed by the news that in every county in the state, Bush has his base in high gear.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:55 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Rome Burns, We Fiddle

The headline on this story from e-marketer today sends a chill down my spine: "Kids Dig Mobiles (as in phones) and Money."

According to the new study by Taylor Nelson Sofres, two-thirds of all 6- to 14-year-olds say having a lot of money is very important.

This figure will surely grow, and another: the 30 percent of kids in that age range who already have mobile phones. The TNS study (charts in the article link above) shows that next to calling or text-messaging parents and friends, kids with mobiles use them to: message or call TV shows or contests; and to download games, ring tones, pictures, take photos and use the Internet.

I wonder how much of this occurs during classes, or school "study" periods.

I must be an old fuddy-duddy. All things considered, mobile phones should be banned from schools. Logisitical arrangments can be made without them, and were, for decades.

And parents should make sure their kids spend their spare time reading, pursuing the arts or athletics, or in safe, unstructured play. If only they would.

The plethora of mobile phones - and the materialism of young kids - points to too many single-parent households, or situtations where both parents work away from home and the kids are adrift, in more ways than one.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:19 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 20, 2004

Next Victim: The "International Community"

Dennis Prager has had it up to here with "world opinion" that's never outraged about anything but wrongs imputed to Israel and the United States.

Read the whole thing, and you'll see the many examples Prager gives of evil conveniently overlook by blindered arbiters of geo-political morality, in European capitals and global media. Here's his overview:

I cherish and admire countless individuals, but I have contempt for 'the world' and 'world opinion.' 'The world' has never cared about evils inflicted on human beings......In sum, I feel that I am living in a world that is morally sick. Good is called bad, and bad is called 'militant,' 'victimized,' 'misunderstood' and 'the product of hopelessness,' but rarely bad. Only those who fight the bad are called bad.

I played my own riff on this last weekend, when Israel killed the latest terrorist in charge of Hamas, and "world leaders" issued their usual condemnations.

Bully for Prager.

And a hat tip to Lorna.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:59 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Blogdaughter's A.M. Playlist

Most weekday mornings after we drop blogson at school, blogdaughter and I eventually head downstairs to work. Under the stern, framed gazes of Eugene McCarthy and Eraserhead, I work on my regular guest op-ed column for The Seattle Times, the occasional magazine article, and blog. She draws pictures and letters; makes cut-out creatures hailing from inter-planetary dimensions; builds forts and cities; pages through favorite books; and dances and sings.

This morning, before we went down, Ava, 4, asked a question which convincingly demonstrated her advanced developmental state.

She said, "Daddy, can we play some blues and jazz and rock and roll?"

So here's the a.m. playlist:

Blues - Albert King, "Let's Have A Natural Ball."

Rock and Roll - Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise, "Time to Discover."
(CD review/interview/Seattle concert preview piece I wrote for Seattle Times here).

Jazz - Duke Ellington/Charles Mingus/Max Roach - "Money Jungle."

She's liking it all. I think I'm going to encourage her habit of scat singing. (UPDATE: She's scatting again, right in tune with a blues by Duke. Maybe I'm biased, but it sounds pretty good).

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:15 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Bad News in Iraq = Bad News For Kerry

The worse things go in Iraq, the better Bush's chances for re-election, says Jeff Crouere at Bayou Buzz. The sooner Coalition and Iraqi forces get things under control, the sooner U.S. media attention shifts to the domestic agenda, where Kerry has a better chance of toppling Bush, according to Crouere. I'm with him on the first part, but I'd love to see the campaign unfold with Iraq stabilized and a domestic focus. I think Kerry'd still manage to tank.

Meanwhile, in today's Seattle Times Philip Gold - a local think-tank honcho, author, and national resource - argues the entire presidential campaign will be a waste of time unless the media ask much better questions (he gives examples) and voters really consult with each other.

On the topic of dumb questions, syndicated columnist John Leo has a hum-dinger of a piece on last week's Bush press conference.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:39 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

I Hate Myself

When The LA Times calls bull**** on liberal "hate crime" hoaxes, the problem must be about 100 times worse than reported. Student "victims" often perpetrate phony hate crimes against themselves; some thinking that they're advancing a progressive agenda anyway, the paper reports today. Of course, they're doing just the opposite.

Via the California Association of Scholars.

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

April 19, 2004

Smelliest Common Denominator

America IS a great place - so open, so non-judgemental, so addled. I know this thanks to The Sacramento Bee, which today in a big feature story alerted me to a book called "Walter The Farting Dog." It spent 40 weeks on The NY Times best-seller list for children's hardcovers, and there's a new sequel published by a Penguin imprint. The Canadian author appears in Sacramento Thursday, thus the big noise in The Bee.

The first "Walter" book, The Bee informs, was meant for four- to eight-year-olds, but attracted readers of all ages. Must have been the set-up. The Bee notes:

Walter's family is about to return him to the pound because of his antisocial habit. Walter understands people-speak, and he tries to hold in his gas. Just as he is about to explode, two burglars enter the family home, and he blasts them away with a heroic burst.

The oeuvre was rejected again and again over 10 years, until a Berkeley, CA publisher took the plunge. As author Glenn Murray explains to The Bee:

Something happened in those 10 years. Walter's time had come. Kids know a lot more than we'd like them to know..You've also got to give kids something they want to read..We use the word 'fart' because we know it attracts attention.

My only question: Why no Walter movie yet, or Walter action figure? The first Walter book has already got to be in a lot of public school classrooms.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 05:12 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Beneath The Hard Shell, Tough Meat - Subject To Gentle Persuasion

Armadillos sleep more than 17 hours a day, and can eat 40,000 ants at a sitting. Females always give birth to four identical offspring. For these and other reasons, man should have no compunction about eating armadillos. There are many delicious armadillo recipes.

These include armadillo meatballs, BBQ armadillo, and hickory smoked armadillo; not to mention Sally's Armadillo Something or Other, and smoked armadillo chops.

From a WSU Cougar's file, there's armadillo 'n rice. And don't overlook High-Desert Wild Life Chili with armadillo, rattlesnake and javelina, from Oregon State University's Department of Fish and Wildlife newsletter (go to p. 8).

The premier online armadillo links are here.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 01:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Run, Jesse, Run

Sure, he turned into an irascible crank after a winning third-party bid for Governor of Minnesota, and became so reviled by state lawmakers and voters he slunk away after one term. But now, Jesse Ventura is bearded, re-invigorated and ready. To launch an independent bid for President in 2008, just maybe. Seems a stint as a visiting fellow at Harvard (yeah, really) has energized the former Navy Seal and later, pro wrestler known as "The Body."

I'd love to hear his foreign policy. Only problem: in a Rudy-Hillary-Jesse showdown, he swings it to Hillary.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 18, 2004

Where Are Arnold's Critics Now?

If every cheap-shot print hack who teed off on Arnold Schwarzenegger when he ran for Governor of California in the Gray Davis recall vote had the guts to track his performance since election and write an update, he'd be positively drowning in good press.

As it is, he's not doing too bad with the media. In this L.A. Daily News editorial, he's praised at length, and dubbed 'Gov. Reformator.' And he's faring well with California voters, who give him a 61 percent approval rating, after a busy few months (only 22 percent disapproved of his performance).

As columnist Lou Cannon notes in the LA Times, Schwarzenegger has spearheaded voter passage of a debt-financing initiative; another ballot measure enacting a modest state spending cap; and recently - by threatening another voter initiative - maneuvered lawmakers into passing a long-avoided worker's comp reform bill.

Uber-liberal media critics who wasted barrels of ink carping that candidate Scharwzenegger was an empty suit now might want to hop on the cluetrain, with a hand from one of The Golden State's top DEMOCRATIC politicians.

'Arnold's a superstar,' says John Burton, the skilled and combative Democratic Senate leader.... Schwarzenegger's stardom goes beyond celebrity, says Burton, a liberal politician from San Francisco with a profane manner and a progressive record. The Senate leader...believes he can negotiate with him on difficult issues, as he did as an assemblyman with Gov. Reagan. 'Arnold's not afraid to get his hands dirty and become engaged,' says Burton. 'He's comfortable in his own skin, and he knows the problems aren't just going to go away.'

Some of Schwarzenegger's friends say that his determination to succeed, not his celebrity status, is the key to his accomplishments. 'Arnold's not a success because he's a celebrity,' contends Sacramento lobbyist Bob White. 'He's a celebrity because he's a success.' White, chief of staff under Gov. Pete Wilson, says that Schwarzenegger is doing in Sacramento what he has done throughout his life: setting goals, engaging people and competing in an effective way. 'He's got the best gut, political instinct of anyone I know,' White says.

UPDATE: Arnold is getting some flack from the right. Adam Sparks, an excellent conservative guest opinion columnist for The SF Chronicle (another is Jennifer Nelson), lambastes the Guv for indicating he'll cave and allow driver's licenses for illegal aliens. MORE STILL: John Fund, via Opinion Journal, with an interesting column on Arnold's advocacy of a part-time state legislature for California, instead of the current full-time deal. One source cited by Fund says such a voter initiative would certainly pass.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 02:49 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

The Slippery Slope of Privacy Posturing

"Privocrats" on the right and left are subverting the war on terror, says Heather MacDonald in the spring edition of City Journal. More data-mining and "pattern analysis" are necessary; we need to counter the widespread intimidation of info-tech wizards who can build high-tech analytical capabilities to identify terrorist suspects for closer surveillance, MacDonald argues. Read the whole shebang, it's titled, "What We Don't Know Can Hurt Us." She concludes:

Proposals for assessing risk in such areas as aviation do not grow out of an omnivorous desire to 'rank citizens' but out of a concrete need to protect people from a clear threat. If the government assigns different security risks to an Iowa music teacher traveling to her high school reunion and to a Pakistani-American funder of Islamic madrassas and host to radical sheiks from Morocco, it is not out of a passion for 'hierarchy' but because of the reality of Islamic terrorism.

Information technology can help government in its constitutional responsibilities to protect the nation; indeed the congressional joint inquiry into September 11 found that 'a reluctance to develop and implement new technical capabilities aggressively' was a cause of the pre-9/11 intelligence failures. The report added: 'While technology remains one of this nation’s greatest advantages, it has not been fully and most effectively applied in support of U.S. counterterrorism efforts.'

The privocrats will rightly tell you that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty; trouble is, they are aiming their vigilance at the wrong target.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 01:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A Primer For Canadian-Based Terrorists

How bad is Canada at preventing terrorists from setting up shop? So bad someone has written a how-to book on the favorable climate for terrorists in Canada. It's available courtesy of good 'ol Loompanics Press, in Port Townsend, WA. According to the online blurb at Loompanics, Mike Pearson's "Waging War From Canada" reveals:

Why Canada is an ideal base for terrorist activities.

The four basic methods terrorists might use to enter Canada.

Five examples of the blundering incompetence of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) -- and how this helps terrorists.

Spying on the United States from Canada -- who does it and how they get away with it.

Why Canada is perfectly suited to use as a base for terrorist fundraising.

"Spoofing Citizenship:" The best way for a terrorist to acquire foolproof Canadian I.D.

What terrorist's (sic) do when a deportation order is issued against him

And much, much more.

Always good to know our friends to the north are on the ball.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 17, 2004

Another Palestinian Terrorist Leader Vaporized By Israel

Israel has assassinated Abdel Aziz Rantisi, co-founder of the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas. Good riddance. Documentation here from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs on his close involvement in the Palestinian terrorist campaign against Israel (see II - "Rantisi - A History of Terrorism").

The strike came only hours after a Palestinian suicide bomber killed one Israeli soldier and injured several others.

With the Rantisi hit, and the Israeli assasination of Hamas' "spiritual leader" Sheik Yassin, it's increasingly clear Israel's own war on terror will not abate. Perhaps the Palestinians will get it through their thick heads they can never win their anti-Israeli jihad. Certainly, after Yassin's killing last month, some savvy Palestinians observed that elevating the even-more-hardline Rantisi to Hamas' leadership was dumb, and would only elevate hostilities further.

Guess they were right.

While we're at it, maybe Palestinian "leaders" - should re-consider their knee-jerk rejection of the latest plan put forward by Israeli prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and backed by U.S. President George W. Bush. They may get no better offer in the future. Israel comes from an ever-greater position of strength.

Seventy-two virgins in paradise isn't payback enough; all the would-be Palestinian suicide bombers now NOT stepping forward must still want the promise of $25,000 to their families from Saddam Hussein, only Saddam's checkbook is, uh, closed. And even if they were doing their usual schtik, where would it get their brethren?

"World opinion" against the Israelis is fatuous dribble. The Israeli-Palestinian dispute will not be decided in any way by the chattering classes or the assorted stuffed shirts strutting around European capitals. The sooner the Palestinians fully disavow jihad, the sooner there can be a binding agreement.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:11 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Take an Aspirin, Howard

Given his position, the noted media critic for the Washington Post Howard Kurtz almost has to be obsessed with "inside baseball" news items the rest of the country couldn't care about less. Yet even he manages to really step in it, with his claim today that footage in a DNC web ad mocking part of Bush's press conference earlier this week, "would seem to provide irresistible ammunition for a television ad.."

Consider the footage, and context. Bush was asked to identify his biggest mistake as president, so far. He replied:

'Hmm. I wish you had given me this written question ahead of time so I could plan for it,' the president is shown saying, slowly. 'You know I just, uh, I'm sure something will pop into my head here, in the midst of this press conference, with all the pressure of trying to come up with an answer, but it hadn't yet. . . . You just put me under the spot here, and maybe I'm not as quick on my feet as I should be on coming up with one.'

I heard the response, and thought it was either honest and unvarnished, or alternately, down-home cagey. However anyone looks at it, Bush didn't take the bait from critics hoping he'd perversely join in their Bush-bashing. That must be frustrating indeed for the DNC, White House press corps and Howard Kurtz.

Bush was in much the same situation as a job interviewee asked to discuss their greatest weakness. You have every right to decline an opportunity for self-immolation. Looking at the whole speech and press conference, two strands were glaringly evident: Bush advanced his agenda forcefully, and when repeatedly asked to find fault with himself, declined.

To Washington reporters who believe in the transforming power of psychotherapy, he's doubtless an odd duck.

Kurtz is right about one thing, when he qualifies his assertion by saying the footage would SEEM to offer irresisitible footage for a TV ad. "Seem" to you, Howard, and the losers who run the DNC.

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

April 16, 2004

Regime Change in Iran Crucial to Iraq's Fate

Michael Leeden of the American Enterprise Institute says despite denials from our State Dept., it's very clear that ruling religious fundamentalists in Iran are closely allied with Iraqi Shi'ite rebel leader Muqtada al-Sadr, whose followers have provoked some of the worst fighting in Iraq since the U.S. intervention there last year. Iraq can't become secure until fundamentalists are neutralized and liberty prevails in Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia, argues Leeden.

...it is an open secret throughout the Middle East that Sadr has been receiving support--if not precise orders--from the mullahs in Iran for some time now....the war being waged by Shiite militants throughout Iraq is not just a domestic "insurgency."

...Iraq cannot be peaceful and secure so long as Tehran sends its terrorist cadres across the border....The only way to end Tehran's continual sponsorship of terror is to bring about the demise of the present Iranian regime. And as it happens, we have an excellent opportunity to achieve this objective, without the direct use of military power against Iran. There is a critical mass of pro-democracy citizens there, who would like nothing more than to rid themselves of their oppressors. They need help, but they neither need nor desire to be liberated by force of arms.

Above all, they want to hear our leaders state clearly and repeatedly--as Ronald Reagan did with the "Evil Empire"--that regime change in Iran is the goal of American policy....we can reach the Iranian people by providing support to the several Farsi-language radio and TV stations in this country, all currently scrambling for funds to broadcast a couple of hours a day. We can encourage private foundations and individuals to support the Iranian democracy movement.

...This sort of political campaign aimed at toppling the Iranian regime--allied to firm punitive action within Iraq against terrorists of all stripes--will make our task in Iraq manifestly less dangerous. Ultimately, security in Iraq will come in large measure from freedom and reform in Iran (as well as in Syria and Saudi Arabia). This is a truth that we should not hide from, nor be fearful to take on.

Via Opinion Journal.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 01:50 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

The Incredible Shrinking School System

Seattle may close up to 11 public schools due to declining enrollment and "excess capacity." This shoots a huge hole in claims by the Washington Education Association that our state's new charter school law will bleed money from public schools (as students opt out for charters) while overhead costs remain the same.

The WEA is set to gather signatures for a statewide ballot initiative to overturn the new charter school law, approved by the legislature after a 10-year struggle. The union is leaning heavily on the "less money, same overhead" argument in its spiteful campaign to undo the new law, and deny public school students greater educational choice.

Yet here we see that in Seattle, even before the first charter school has opened, there's already clear recognition from school district officials that as enrollment continues declining, you have to consider closing more facilities. That'll sure cut total overhead costs, won't it?

And if, as even charter opponents concede, public charter schools cause more students (and the state money that follows them) to leave traditional public schools, further consolidation might make sense, too.

If public schools - and especially the wretched WEA leadership - would actually focus on meeting the bracing challenges posed by more rigorous public charter schools, they might be able to expand, not contract.

The handwriting has been on the wall for some time in Seattle, where low expectations, political correctness and excuses are the norm in public schools. Consider this:

Enrollment has fallen from 86,000 students in 117 schools in 1970 to 47,000 students in 100 schools today, officials say.

So obviously, we should stifle innovation, as the WEA urges.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:26 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 15, 2004

Here's To You, Dad

On April 15, my father celebrated another birthday. I again paid quiet respects to the Gods, and some very good heart surgeons who performed triple-bypass surgery after I rushed him to the hospital on a sub-zero Chicago Christmas Eve in 1984. You’re awesome Dad, but remember to eat your vegetables, and keep riding that stationary bike, OK? Glad you quit smoking.

Milton J. Rosenberg is the son of immigrants from Ukraine who left because Jews were denied a good education, and sometimes rounded up and killed, for socio-political sport.

His mother, my late Grandma Rae (short for Rachel) spoke six languages, but had no formal education in the U.S. She emigrated with her husband Jacob after he first came alone to America, and then returned to Ukraine to woo her while arranging to send hog-hair bristles here for the manufacture of paintbrushes.

They settled in Brooklyn to raise a family. Grandpa Jack made his way – quite well it turned out – as a house painter, and then a building contractor. My dad was the water boy for the paint crews for a while. Jack and Rae’s two kids became professors. My dad is recently retired from that, but has been hosting a nightly radio talk show in Chicago for 30-plus years. I not so jokingly gave him the nickname “World Book” many years ago, because he knows absolutely everything under the sun. (Before Encarta, there were hardbound encyclopedias). Now at least I can crib items from his blog.

Snapshots and audio-tapes of Milt at the University of Michigan in the 1950s reveal a nerdy young rake in a fashion-forward outfit of tee-shirt, shorts, dress socks and wingtips! (Talk about self-confidence). He’s wooing my mom with Leadbelly-like tunes (or is that Big Bill Broonzy?) on a guitar tuned to Open D.

Like all good present-day neo-cons, my folks once hung with dippy socialists and faux commies - and so were all the more equipped to celebrate the glorious fall of the Iron Curtain.

Yet, our family experienced some minor abuse at the hands of conservatives and Woolly Mammoths, I must report. In the 60s we lived in Columbus, Ohio. Once, my mom was interviewed on the radio about an anti-Vietnam War march she was organizing. Somehow, the next day on our front lawn there magically appeared about twelve dozen pieces of dog feces.

And in Columbus, I had a playmate, a nice little girl, whose mom was perfectly happy to let her come to our house. But I wasn’t allowed in their home, because I came from a Jewish family.

I won’t go into the anti-Semitic hate mail my dad has received over the years in connection with his radio show. You’ve got to have a thick skin. Unless someone is burning a cross on your lawn, firing bullets, or overtly screwing you out of a job or home loan based on race, ethnicity or gender, let it ride - fer Crissakes. Life’s too short.

Another Columbus reminiscence: My dad had the temerity to not give passing grades to certain Buckeye football players who were flunking a psychology class he taught. He was called on the carpet because the famed football coach Woody Hayes wanted him to, ah, play ball, but he refused. During an administrative proceeding, an irritated Hayes kept calling him “Professor Rosenthal,” a common type of “mistake” by borderline anti-Semites, or the socially maladept (I suspect Hayes may have been in the first category).

Anyway, my dad made sure to call him, “Coach Hughes” in return. I always liked that story. Readers of a certain age (sheesh, I never thought I'd be lapsing into that) may recall Woody heaving a first-down marker along the sideline once, like a javelin, when he became upset with a referee’s call. Some fellah, he was.

I also remember my dad walking me through Chicago’s Lincoln Park during the 1968 Democratic Convention – I was 10. Activists of all sorts were camped out, doubtless smoking dope, screwing furiously and plotting death to the squares. Chicago undercover cops in cheesy polyester slacks hovered on the park turf in their standard-issue, “unmarked” sedans, looking both edgy and clueless amidst the gathering throng. That picture stays with me.

The whole world was watching, as the nation’s bastion of urban Democratic politics degenerated into chaos, and a police riot, shortly afterward. And so we got Nixon, Watergate, Ford - and in 1976 – just in time for my first visit to the ballot box – Jimmy Carter. That seemed a time of great hope. I was just off to college, and proudly cast my vote for him. Carter made a great contribution in the end, and I’m not talking about bringing those dumb sweaters he wore into the mainstream. He helped elect Reagan, who in turn hastened the crumbling of the Soviet bloc. Admittedly, it took me a few years to understand Ronnie wasn’t the dumb, evil bastard all my college pals said he was.

Anyhow, back to Dad, the only real Renaissance Man I happen to know personally.

Milt’s long tenure on the radio is remarkable in a business famed for quick turnover and frequent format changes. Over the years, he’s interviewed every imaginable luminary: Kissinger, Carter, Margaret Thatcher, Bob Woodward, and too many other authors, journalists, poets, tenors, scientists, seers, master gardeners, paranormal debunkers, cops, priests, mob informants, utopian visionaries, cooks and criminals to list here. There’s a whole lot more I could say about Milt, but for now, I’ll just leave it at this: I’m really proud of you, Dad. Keep it up!

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:45 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

bin Laden Feeling The Heat

I'm having a hard time grokking the claim by one expert cited in this AP story. He says it's not surprising bin Laden has offered to call off the dogs in Europe if European nations will eschew all involvement in Iraq and cease other supposedly hostile actions against Muslims. I imagine that last part includes following through on the recent arrests of terrorist suspects in England and Spain.

The story says al-Qaeda's leader is just being "opportunistic," as might be expected. I say the man's worried, and playing his cards badly. Can he possibly imagine, after the post-Madrid arrests tied to new terrorist plots in Spain and England, and the busting up of terrorist cells in Turkey and Italy, that he can essentially threaten Europe with more terrorism unless it "...does not carry out an onslaught against Muslims or interfere in their affairs."

Methinks he's pissed the French helped U.S. and Pakistani forces trying to capture him and top lieutenants recently in rough mountain terrain near the Afghanistan border. Meanwhile, Germany is helping train Iraqi security forces, and Italy is seething over the killing of a Italian civilian by militants in Iraq. And I don't think Iraqi Shi'ites can be too pleased at reports al-Qaeda paid a former Iraqi intelligence officer to arrange the bombing deaths of 180 pilgrims last month.

Osama's ploy - which was firmly rejected by European leaders - suggests: a) he does still pull the strings for Islamic terrorists, to a very significant extent; b) he's disturbed by growing unity bewteen the U.S. and Europe against terrorism; c) terrorism is its own worst enemy; and d) Bush is now even more correct than before that the war to liberate Iraq is part and parcel of the war on terror.

Thanks for clearing all that up, bearded one!

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 04:48 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 14, 2004

Everything You Know Is Wrong

"What The World Needs Now is DDT" screams the headline in last Sunday's NY Times magazine. Author Tina Roseberg (no relation) says DDT is highly effective in preventing malaria in Africa, if used judiciously. But myopic global do-gooders object, and so African children and adults die.

...what really merits outrage about DDT today is not that South Africa still uses it, as do about five other countries for routine malaria control and about 10 more for emergencies. It is that dozens more do not. Malaria is a disease Westerners no longer have to think about. Independent malariologists believe it kills two million people a year, mainly children under 5 and 90 percent of them in Africa. Until it was overtaken by AIDS in 1999, it was Africa's leading killer. One in 20 African children dies of malaria, and many of those who survive are brain-damaged. Each year, 300 to 500 million people worldwide get malaria.

During the rainy season in some parts of Africa, entire villages of people lie in bed, shivering with fever, too weak to stand or eat. Many spend a good part of the year incapacitated, which cripples African economies. A commission of the World Health Organization found that malaria alone shrinks the economy in countries where it is most endemic by 20 percent over 15 years. There is currently no vaccine. While travelers to malarial regions can take prophylactic medicines, these drugs are too toxic for long-term use for residents.

Yet DDT, the very insecticide that eradicated malaria in developed nations, has been essentially deactivated as a malaria-control tool today. The paradox is that sprayed in tiny quantities inside houses -- the only way anyone proposes to use it today -- DDT is most likely not harmful to people or the environment. Certainly, the possible harm from DDT is vastly outweighed by its ability to save children's lives.

Funny how various First World foundations and non-profits can decide vaccines, condoms (and oh yes, a bit of "public education") are what's need to eradicate AIDS in Third World nations, but when it comes to a proven prophylactic strategy for malaria prevention, who cares? I guess it's a lot sexier to fight AIDS (albeit quite ineffectively) because the stipulated causes are racism, sexism, classism, and imperialism. Fighting mosquitos has no socio-political cachet.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:37 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Our Systematic Hobbling of U.S. Intelligence-gathering

Prodded by mushy-headed civil libertarians, Democrats in the White House and Congress have for years hobbled the CIA and FBI's efforts to fight terrorism, with especially dire consequences on 9/11, says Andrew C. McCarthy. His must-read piece from the current issue of Commentary is titled, "The Intelligence Mess: How It Happened, What To Do About It." McCarthy is the former chief assistant U.S. attorney in New York, and led the 1995 terrorism prosecution of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman tied to the first World Trade Center bombing.

You should read the whole thing, but here are some excerpts.

Intelligence-gathering is something of a square peg in the round hole of contemporary political morality...It is about assuming and preparing for the worst in an era that sees "bad" as an outmoded adjective for "different," another dash of enlivening spice in a rich social stew.

Now, however, that foreign pathologies long denied have visited their excesses upon us, many among the benignly tolerant have turned overnight into the equivalent of ambulance-chasers. In particular, they have confidently laid at the door of America’s intelligence apparatus the success of America’s enemies on September 11, 2001....This has now become conventional wisdom, accepted on all sides...A ramified system of multiple agencies having similar missions and chasing the same budget dollars will inevitably produce rivalry; rivalry begets pettiness, and pettiness begets failure.

...But is it true that inter-agency rivalry is the problem everyone claims it is?
..like many facts that appall at first blush, internecine warfare is only, at best, half the story...rivalry—overall—is a virtue...

..The real problems..are..structural and philosophical....As with much else in our national life, the bacillus now grown to plague America’s intelligence apparatus took root in the unrest of Vietnam and the upheaval of Watergate...For a generation of activists soon to take up positions of influence in politics, academia, and the media, the antiwar movement inculcated a lasting aversion not only to the exercise of American military power but to the agencies tasked with assessing threats to our national security, not to mention the real-world grunt work of intelligence.

..(With) President Jimmy Carter’s acquiescence in the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)...for the first time, Congress and the courts undertook to regulate the gathering of national intelligence, particularly by electronic eavesdropping, against agents of hostile foreign powers....the executive branch would not be allowed to use whatever tactics it, as the branch with the most expertise and information, determined were necessary to protect the nation.

Rather, it would be compelled to go to a federal FISA court newly created for the purpose, and, as with the procedure for criminal wiretaps, it would need to establish probable cause that the target was an agent of a foreign power. Electronic surveillance would be permitted only if the judges approved.

The impact on intelligence collection was serious....The insanity reached its apex in 1995 with the "primary purpose" guidelines drafted by the Clinton administration: henceforth, a firewall would be placed between criminal and national-security agents, generally barring them even from communicating with one another.

The damage from the firewall and the impediments to FISA has been incalculable.....in the waning weeks before the September 11 attacks...Zacarias Moussaoui, who had paid cash for pilot training (and was reported to authorities when his bizarre behavior—including intense interest in how cabin and cockpit doors worked—could no longer be ignored), was detained by the immigration service. Worried FBI intelligence agents were desperate to search his computer, but were turned down by supervisors who decided there was insufficient evidence to go to the FISA court. His al-Qaeda membership and numerous connections to the hijackers were not uncovered until after the attacks.

And the Moussaoui travesty itself pales in comparison to the story of Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, excruciatingly recounted in Slate by Stewart Baker, general counsel of the National Security Agency during the early Clinton administration. The pair, who had trained to pilot planes, lived in California. In August 2001, an astute FBI intelligence agent was trying to find them, and asked the criminal division for help. But FBI headquarters stepped in and insisted that the firewall not be breached: criminal agents were to stay out of the intelligence effort. A few weeks later, al-Midhar and al-Hazmi plunged Flight 77 into the Pentagon, their manifold ties to Mohammed Atta and the other hijackers kept safely under wraps.

....U.S. law and tradition (strenuously supported by many of the same politicians who today bluster about the CIA’s lack of dot-connecting skills) rig intelligence as if it were Russian roulette: the agency whose raison d’Ítre is to counter foreign threats to our national security is precluded from participating in investigations once they cross into our nation, while the agency that is expected to pick up the ball and run with it from there does so without the CIA’s depth of knowledge and expertise.

The ill-conception of this arrangement has become increasingly patent. With the info-tech revolution, al-Qaeda operatives seamlessly share information across borders with the click of a mouse, enabling them instantly to construct a complete picture of their prey. By contrast, the forces charged with keeping us safe from them are expected to complete awkward hand-offs as persons and information roam in and out of the country.

The windfall beneficiary is, ironically, the terrorist operative who happens also to be an American citizen. Such an operative is not only protected by the full panoply of constitutional rights wherever in the world he travels but is radioactive to the CIA, which is no less fearful of the perception that it is spying on Americans than the Justice Department was about the appearance of misusing FISA.

...Bin Laden struck us repeatedly in the eight years leading up to September 11. From the thousands in al Qaeda’s swelling international ranks, we plucked about 40 and indicted them, bathing them in all the rights of American defendants, and arming them with information from our intelligence files to prepare their defenses.

Was September 11 the worst intelligence failure in our country’s history? Or was it, rather, a national failure, the failure of a country that allowed its sense of decency to overwhelm its instinct for survival and that effectively convinced its enemies that they could strike with impunity?

A political class that appreciated the stakes involved...would not hasten to dub every episodic setback an intelligence failure without asking searchingly whether we have set our agencies up to fail. It would have the necessary perseverance, through the inevitable torrent of catcalling, to retrace a quarter-century of missteps. And it would construct its remedies on the basis of a correct diagnosis of the disease. Right now, when we need it most, this is not the political class we have.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:55 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 13, 2004

"We're Carrying Out A Decision That Has Already Been Made"

Strong speech and press conference tonight by Bush, on Iraq, despite the snarky kneecap job here from the Washington Post. The WaPo is reduced to griping about Bush's syntax during Q&A (boy, THAT'S big news) and - get this - his "absolute certainty" that he's on the right course. I guess we need tangled Kerry-ish self-contradictions on Iraq from our President, instead.

Bush'll certainly never be confused with Churchill or FDR, but he radiated conviction; and even when occasionally fumbling a bit to answer hostile questions from self-important White House correspondents who dine on foie gras and Glenlivet, honesty. Bush has the added advantage of being right. Here's the text, and some choice excerpts.

As a proud, independent people, Iraqis do not support an indefinite occupation, and neither does America. We're not an imperial power, as nations such as Japan and Germany can attest. We're a liberating power, as nations in Europe and Asia can attest as well.

...We will not step back from our pledge. On June 30th, Iraqi sovereignty will be placed in Iraqi hands. Sovereignty involves more than a date and a ceremony. It requires Iraqis to assume responsibility for their own future.

....Our coalition is standing with responsible Iraqi leaders as they establish growing authority in their country. The transition to sovereignty requires that we demonstrate confidence in Iraqis. And we have that confidence. Many Iraqi leaders are showing great personal courage, and their example will bring out the same quality in others.

The transition to sovereignty also requires an atmosphere of security, and our coalition is working to provide that security.

We will continue taking the greatest care to prevent harm to innocent civilians, yet we will not permit the spread of chaos and violence. I have directed our military commanders to make every preparation to use decisive force if necessary to maintain order and to protect our troops.

Bush also zeroed in on why it all matters so much.

..A free Iraq will stand as an example to reformers across the Middle East. A free Iraq will show that America is on the side of Muslims who wish to live in peace, as we've already shown in Kuwait and Kosovo, Bosnia and Afghanistan. A free Iraq will confirm to a watching world that America's word, once given, can be relied upon, even in the toughest times. Above all, the defeat of violence and terror in Iraq is vital to the defeat of violence and terror elsewhere and vital, therefore, to the safety of the American people.

...The violence we are seeing in Iraq is familiar. The terrorists who take hostages or plants a roadside bomb near Baghdad is serving the same ideology of murder that kills innocent people on trains in Madrid, and murders children on buses in Jerusalem, and blows up a nightclub in Bali and cuts the throat of a young reporter for being a Jew.

We've seen the same ideology of murder in the killing of 241 Marines in Beirut, the first attack on the World Trade Center, in the destruction of two embassies in Africa, in the attack on the USS Cole, and in the merciless horror inflicted upon thousands of innocent men and women and children on September the 11th, 2001.

...the enemy has seen, over the last 31 months, that we will no longer live in denial or seek to appease them...The terrorists have lost the shelter of the Taliban and the training camps in Afghanistan. They have lost safe havens in Pakistan. They lost an ally in Baghdad. And Libya has turned its back on terror.

They've lost many leaders in an unrelenting international manhunt. And perhaps more frightening to these men and their movement, the terrorists are seeing the advance of freedom and reform in the greater Middle East.

A desperate enemy is also a dangerous enemy. And our work may become more difficult before it is finished. No one can predict all the hazards that lie ahead or the cost that they will bring....We will succeed in Iraq. We're carrying out a decision that has already been made and will not change. Iraq will be a free, independent country, and America and the Middle East will be safer because of it.

During Q&A, Bush broadly hinted he'd approve Gen. John Abizaid's request for at least two more combat brigades of U.S. troops, and also conceded we've got to whip Iraqi security forces into shape.

(More troops are)...up to General Abizaid, and he's clearly indicating that he may want more troops. It's coming up through the chain of command. And if that's what he wants, that's what he gets. Generally, we've had about a 115,000 troops in Iraq. There's 135,000 now as a result of the changeover from one division to the next....I talk to General Abizaid quite frequently. I'm constantly asking him does he have what he needs...And if he makes the recommendation, he'll get it.

In terms of how long we'll be there, as long as necessary, and not one day more. The Iraqi people need us there to help with security....Once we transfer sovereignty, we'll enter into a security agreement with the government to which we pass sovereignty, the entity to which we pass sovereignty. And we'll need to be there for a while.

We'll also need to continue training the Iraqi troops. I was disappointed in the performance of some of the troops. Some of the units performed brilliantly. Some of them didn't. And we need to find out why. If they're lacking in equipment, we'll get them equipment. If there needs to be more intense training, we'll get more intense training.

Bush's appearance won't quiet his critics, but it was gutsy, sincere, and on the money. I've got my own disagreements with the guy on a few matters, but it all pales compared to what we're up against these days. The guy's strong, a leader, a straight shooter. How could anyone even contemplate Kerry?

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Walk to Wal-Mart!

Anti-Wal-Mart activists don't get it, I opined here recently; price rules, and old downtowns have to adapt to ever-shifting regional economies, anyway. Now, the Minneapolis suburb of St. Anthony is really adapting, by tearing down a mostly defunct old mall called Apache Plaza, and building more than 600 homes on the site. But get this, Wal-Mart haters; there'll be parks and footpaths to a new retail complex with a......Wal-Mart.

"There will be people out there who say, 'that's horrible,' " said Kelly Doran, the developer in charge of the retail portion of the new Silver Lake Village. "But a nonvocal majority made Wal-Mart the No. 1 retailer. And what that does is create energy. They're the engine that pulls the passenger train. Without them it doesn't work."

The other big anchor will be a Cub Foods, a chain of huge grocery stores.

St. Anthony's current Cub at the Apache site will undergo an extreme makeover to try to make it fit, Doran said.

"We're modifying the facade, changing the parking lot, adding landscaping, adding lighting at the pedestrian level, adding patterned and colored sidewalks, widening the sidewalks. It's still going to be a building with a big parking lot in front. But that doesn't mean it has to be ugly."

....(the project could be) transformative for St. Anthony, especially as it prepares for the possibility of commuter trains gliding past the former shopping center, whisking residents to plays at the Guthrie Theater in downtown Minneapolis.

...The goal, (St. Anthony Mayor Randy) Hodson said, is to "reclaim the excitement people used to feel about Apache Plaza, and make this site part of the village again as opposed to just big boxes that aren't. Who knows, maybe we'll even get to the point where we get healthy again because we're out walking in our community."

As far as I'm concerned, Wal-Mart can build new stores wherever they get permission, and is more than entitled to battle new local zoning restrictions, that are sprouting up nationwide to keep them from doing what they've always done. The throngs of customers speak for themselves. But the company would also do well to see where else it can replicate the St. Anthony model.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:07 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

George, Listen To The Comic

Yesterday in the Weekly Standard online, Larry Miller urged President Bush to speak to the nation and reiterate we're in it for the long haul in Iraq. Miller has a few more good talking points for Bush: what's happened in and around Fallujah shouldn't shock anyone; that landing on the air carrier and declaring victory was a really dumb stunt; and we're still going to win, dammit!

Tonight, as it happens, Bush addresses the nation on Iraq.

Here's a bit more from Miller, a writer/comic/actor from L.A. who writes regularly for the magazine.

...anyone who ever reads past page two has known since President Bush landed on that aircraft carrier that Fallujah was the...core of everyone who ever worked and killed for Saddam Hussein....it might as well be called Tortureville, or Saddamfield, or Baathburg....What in the world did anyone imagine was going to sprout up there in the last 12 months? A chamber of commerce? A garden club? A band shell for Sunday programs of Sousa?

...I MENTIONED the president and the aircraft carrier for a reason...I hated it. I support what we've done the whole way; I think we've started to crack the hardest granite in history; I think we're in World War Three, Four, Five, and Six-through-Ten combined--and I think we should be--but I hated that landing so much....It was an end zone dance, and I hate end zone dances...the game isn't over by a long shot.

Miller then gives us what may be a sneak preview of Bush's speech tonight:

..what he should have done then..is what he can still do now (is)....A speech. A big one. A grave one. Say that the world is a very bad place and has been for a long time, and that we're going to stop it in its tracks and make it better because we have to, and because, as Tony Blair said when he spoke to Congress, 'It's your destiny.'

..Most important, say, 'It may happen before, during, or after the election, but I don't care, I'm doing it because it's right, and if I'm president again next year, I'm going to keep doing it.'

And then win....Win. Stopping building schools. Win. There's plenty of time and need for hospitals, but first . . . Win...If I have to listen to one more administration spokesperson say, 'The overwhelming number of Iraqis is with us, it's just a small percentage of cranks causing all the trouble,' I'll be tempted to say something I swore I never would: 'Du-uuh.'

A small percentage, huh? About the same size as the few thousand Bolsheviks who took over the 100 million Russians in 1917? More? Less?

UPDATE: The online arm of The Australian, that country's leading national daily, claims that in his speech tonight, Bush is expected to announce more U.S. troops in Iraq. We'll see. (The head of U.S. Central Command, Gen. John Abizaid, has requested at least two additional mechanized combat brigades for Iraq, which would mean anywhere from 10,000 to 14,000 more troops).

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:07 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 12, 2004

Wouldn't Mandatory Tinted Windows Do The Trick?

I've always loved Louisiana: the food; the music; New Orleans; the bayou; all the cool little towns with historical flavor Seattle can only dream about.

But my favorite thing about Louisiana is its exemplary politicans. And they're at it again: proposing legislation to ban porn on car video players.

Times-Picayune columnist Chris Rose observes:

There are many ways to interpret the meaning of House Bill 640, currently circulating through the corridors of power in Baton Rouge.

....(one) way to look at the proposed law is to call it a complete waste of time and energy, a red herring, a feel-good charade, an empty gesture in the name of family values and a misguided effort to stop the two people in Louisiana who actually drive their cars with porn on while our schools go down the toilet, corruption consumes the state....and young men die in our streets every night.

Of course, that would be a pretty cynical way to look at it.

Yeah. Guess so.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 04:27 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Minneapolis Day-Care Scammer Gets Five Years

Another day, another day-care operator nailed for ripping off taxpayers.

Zhia Vang ran a Minneapolis day-care center, and worked up phony applications from, and phony employment verification forms for "low-income" parents "seeking" government-subsidized day-care, and food and nutrition funding for their children.

She was then able to get government funds distributed through Hennepin County and the Greater Minneapolis Day Care Association. A few problems: the parents weren't low income, nor were most even aware of Vang's actions. She rarely cared for the children, and spent the loot on personal property such as cars and homes. Vang was sentenced to five years and four months in jail, and will have to repay $660,000, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Time for some asset divestiture, I'd expect.

It would be nice if this were an isolated case of malfeasance among day-care operators. Unfortunately it's not, as this recent Rosenblog post illustrates.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:55 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Dems Wipe Out Once More

Grassroots Democratic activists are doing their best to ensure George W. Bush is re-elected. Like this sweet, but stupid 72-year-old great-grandma from the The People's Republic of Eugene, Oregon. She's peddling her very own T-shirts and buttons declaring, "Pull Cheney, Flush Bush: It's A Healthy Movement for America." (Scroll down to the second item).

In case you don't get it, there's a big toilet in the middle of the picture.

And to think she once worked as a marketing director.

You might suppose that Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe would get the word out to the rank and file that John Kerry's positives need more emphasis than crude japes at Bush. Then again, McAuliffe is the genius who wiped his feet on a Bush doormat on national TV, as we noted here earlier.

"John Kerry. He's Not Bush." Yeah, I DO like the sound of that.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:35 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

April 11, 2004

Teens Desperately Seeking Self

Amy Jenniges of Seattle's alternative weekly, The Stranger, surveyed blogs of students at Newport High School in suburban Bellevue for clues about a 16-year-old classmate who put a gun to his head at school late last month. He was disarmed by an alert teacher and expelled.

But Jenniges says peers claim the troubled youth was feeling persecuted because he had pink highlights in his hair; always wore black trenchcoats; and sported cat ears and a fake tail. Some students claim the student was believed to be gay because he "went to homecoming with a guy;" and was harrassed for perceived gay-ness.

As Jenniges properly notes, who knows about any of this stuff for sure, the teenage rumor mill being what it is. Yet it's a mistake to sweep what she found under the rug. For the sake of discussion, we need to consider, at least momentarily, that there's some basis in fact for what Jenniges reports.

That said, here's where I diverge. Jenniges' piece implicitly assumes it's right and good that a 16-year-old high-school student does things such as highlighting their hair with pink, wearing cat ears, fake tails and black trench coats to school.

Freedom of expression being the tantamount right for youth today.

Myself, I think the whole "personal style" thing has reached the point of absurdity in many public high schools today, and society at large - not just because I can't picture a fake tail over, or under, a trench coat. And no, I don't propose fashion police. But walk down Broadway, or University Ave. in Seattle. I've never seen so many pierced, Mohawked(!), fluorescent-haired young self-doubters, all so clearly intimidated by their God-given skin.

I was talking about the Bellevue incident with a mom from nearby Issaquah, at an Easter egg hunt in Tacoma today. She said - and I agree wholeheartedly - that kind of acting out is a cry for attention; attention not given by parents.

What kids need to be taught by their parents, among many other things, is that real individuality comes from within. Parents have to ensure they develop character and individuality through academics, hobbies, the arts and perhaps a few other carefully chosen extra-curricular pursuits.

And whether the kid was really gay or not, there's another point to be made. The emphasis in junior high schools and high schools on exploring and declaring one's sexual orientation is absurd. Parents, teachers and administrators need to counter, not acquiesce to, today's hyper-sexualized youth culture. To assume that can't or shouldn't be done is utter liberal claptrap.

If our public schools remain sprawling warehouses of mean-spirited, materialistic teenage Nazis fixated with fashion, status and sex, then we need even more more small schools AND charter schools than imagined.

And mind you, Bellevue public schools really ARE among the best in metro Puget Sound; with Newport High considered quite strong academically. Yet even there, youth culture's poison seeps through.

Here's my across-the-board prescription. Put 'em all in uniforms; drop athletics; and let the parents teach sex ed, tolerance and diversity.

End of rant.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 06:55 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 10, 2004

Charter Opponents: Students Are Cash Cows, Keep 'Em Penned In

The Washington Education Association (teachers union) is filing a ballot initiative to overturn a new state law allowing public charter schools, stressing that students are cash cows that help pay for overhead.

WEA spokesman Rich Wood said charter schools will siphon money from existing public schools. For instance, if a student from an existing grade school transferred to a charter school, an estimated $5,000 to $6,000 in state funding would follow the student to the new school.

The student's former school would still have the same overhead, but it would receive $5,000 to $6,000 less money for each student who transfers to the charter school, Wood said.

Note the plain admission that some students in existing public schools would indeed leave for charters. This is because charter schools typically have less bureaucracy, more discipline and stronger academics.

The WEA is living in the old Soviet block. They want us all to have freedom from more choice in public education, not more freedom of choice.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:34 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Civilian Ambushes in Iraq Change The Rules

Guerilla attacks by Iraqi insurgents too chicken-hearted and vicious to engage properly on a field of battle call for a stronger U.S. response: if civilians die, so be it, says James J. Na in an incisive Seattle Times guest op-ed.

Na, of Seattle, has written on international security for the Asian Wall Street Journal, Defense News and the Naval Institute's Proceedings Magazine; and occasionally comments on items here at Rosenblog. Here's some of what he says in his Times piece.

...we do not need more troops. What we need instead is a change of perception that will be brought about by a change in our methodology.. On a clearly defined conventional battlefield, the American military has no peer in the world. Yet.. the vastly superior American military is clearly struggling to pacify the country.

..insurgent Iraqis ...now clad in civilian outfits..are unafraid to ambush even (the U.S.'s) high-ranking commanders....these insurgents clearly understand something that many anti-American ideologues do not: Americans are not to be feared precisely because we are not evil, bloodthirsty imperialists. This lack of fear is a tremendous hindrance to our efforts, because in the cold reality of that region, to elicit no fear is to be powerless, and the powerless do not command respect.

To be successful in Iraq..mean(s) overwhelming military responses to insurgents even in the face of serious collateral damages, as well as collective communal punishments such as reduced electricity and water rations for harboring insurgents.

Conversely, it means rewards for cooperation such as communal security self-management, economic aid and reconstruction. Most importantly, we need to adhere strictly to the promise of sovereignty transfer, the ultimate reward for 'good behavior.'

The unbending promise of sovereignty and vigorous military responses were the main reasons, for example, why the British were able to defeat the Malayan insurgency in the '50s, by taking away the main justification for taking up arms for 'liberation' while punishing 'misbehavior' severely.

...In order to achieve the clearly noble purpose of establishing a stable, democratic Iraq in a region full of totalitarian regimes, it will be more effective, and certainly more humane in the end, to exercise seemingly harsh methods in the short-term than to risk a long drawn-out guerrilla war.

...So the question is: Do we now have the courage to be harsh in order to be humane in the end? Only an affirmative answer will be the indication that, finally, we have overcome the so-called Vietnam syndrome once and for all.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:53 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 09, 2004

All Hail The Big Box

The crusade against Wal-Mart is misiniformed and doomed to fail, argues Steven Malanga in City Journal.

The McKinsey consulting firm best summed up the cumulative impact of the company’s influence in a report entitled 'The Wal-Mart Effect,' which estimates that the retailer’s focus on low prices and its constant stream of money-saving innovations accounted for up to one-quarter of the entire U.S. economy’s prodigious productivity gains in the 1990s boom—when inflation held steady despite a soaring economy. Savvy investor Warren Buffett even declared that Wal-Mart—not Microsoft or some other technology company—has contributed more than any other business to the health of the U.S. economy.

Because Wal-Mart represents the leading edge of this American business revolution, the Left’s crusade against it is more than just a battle against a single company. It is instead a clash of worldviews, as unions and their allies, representing a narrow band of special interests masquerading as a populist movement, try to convince the public that super-efficient discounters like Wal-Mart lower workers’ standard of living even as they actually raise living standards by offering goods to so many at such low prices.

As a consumer, I want the best deals for our family. If I can find lemonade juice pouches, bottled spring water, child car seats, film, telephones and CD players for substantially less than the same items in a downtown or neighborhood store, I'm going to Wal-Mart, or Target.

For the same reason, l regularly drive across the West Seattle Bridge to Beacon Hill and load up on fresh produce at McPherson's. I'm really happy for the unionized workers, with their great benefits, at my neighborhood grocery store. But I long ago tired of paying for their health care by purchasing overpriced strawberries.

The accusation that Wal-Marts kill neighborhood and small town business districts is a total canard. These enterprise zones have to specialize and adapt to survive in today's regional economies, anyway. I don't expect to buy a DVD player, or even clothes in The Junction (West Seattle's central commercial hub). But the two pet shops, non-violent toy store, book and CD stores, fish market, health clubs, restaurants and varied small businesses there are thriving.

A Ben and Jerry's is coming in soon. Hate their phony populism, love their ice cream.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:59 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

India-based Software Firm "Outsourcing" New Jobs To U.S.

A report from today's Oakland Tribune shows outsourcing cuts both ways.

INFOSYS Technologies, India's second-largest software maker with U.S. headquarters here, said it is investing $20 million to create nearly 500 consulting jobs in the United States. The new company, called Infosys Consulting, will be based in Fremont and will provide business consulting to American corporations. The consulting company has already begun 'aggressive hiring in America,' Infosys chief executive officer Nandan Nilekani told reporters Thursday.

....'It's very exciting around here,'" said Lisa Kennedy, a spokeswoman for Infosys in Fremont. 'I've been flooded with resumes already.'

Kennedy said the Fremont-based Infosys Consulting also will have offices in Boston, Dallas and Lake Forest.

The Wall Street Journal reported last month that according to the U.S. Commerce Department:

..the U.S. posted a $53.64 billion surplus last year in trade in private services with the rest of the world.

Global outsourcing is a boon to the U.S. information technology industry and the U.S. economy, according to a recent study released by the Information Technology Association of America. From the study's executive summary:

The benefits of free trade - lower costs, higher labor productivity, and more efficient production - induce businesses to leverage offshore resources....(this)..lowers costs, frees domestic resources to pursue other productive ends, yields high quality software and services, and increases labor productivity among end-users. These benefits flow through to lower prices, lower interest rates, and higher spending throughout the economy.....As the benefits compound over time, the U.S. economy creates more than twice the number of jobs than are displaced, and increases the average wage.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 08, 2004

"Win The War, Then Worry About Winning Friends"

Back in the late 60s, as a middle-schooler, I got a rush of righteous pride marching against the Vietnam War with a crowd of thousands in Chicago's Daley Plaza. Vice-President Spiro Agnew had recently made headlines blasting anti-war student protestors as "bums." So, clever kid I, fashioned a sign reading "Bums For Peace." It was a big hit.

Years later, what bugged me most though, was our lack of resolve in defeating the North Vietnamese Communists who control South Vietnam today. Go spend some time among the South Vietnamese of Orange County, California - or Seattle for that matter, and ask them if we did right in pulling out.

The jihadists and hoodlums of the Iraqi "insurgency" must have their heads handed to them.

We need more troops and firepower, analysts say in this Newhouse News Service piece.

The Iraqi uprising against U.S. military authority, stretching across Iraq's major cities and towns, signals an abrupt shift in the conflict that requires a corresponding shift in occupation strategy: Win the war -- then worry about winning friends.

That means the enemy must be defeated in combat before the work of developing the country can go on, U.S. military officers and analysts say. ..."'Hearts and minds' is not applicable during a military campaign; that's a long-term solution," said Army Lt. Col. Ray Millen, a West Point infantry officer and a fellow at the U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute.

...U.S. military forces can win -- but the war will be long and bloody, requiring more U.S. troops than have been thrown into battle, the military officers and analysts say.

"It's going to be a hard thing, but not, I think, impossible," said Robert Scales Jr., a retired Army major general and former commandant of the U.S. Army War College.

"You need to break the back of the terrorist cells," said Scales, author of several books on combat, including a history of the first phase of the war in Iraq. "You'll never be able to destroy them, but you find those in charge and kill or capture them, and that lowers the level of violence when the cities can return to some semblance of order."

He added, "There are situations where you want to apply overwhelming firepower with tanks and artillery, A-10 (strike fighters) overhead, and situations where you want to be more surgical, kicking the door down."

In Fallujah, Marines ordered the airstrike on the Abdul-Aziz al-Samarrai mosque compound after their fire teams came under attack from several dozen insurgents firing from inside....."If they use the mosque as a military machine, then it's no longer a house of worship, and we strike," Marine Col. Brennan Byrne told The Associated Press.

Although such tactics may anger Iraqis and dismay the global audience, military officers said they are absolutely necessary.

"We cannot afford to be weak," retired Army Col. Robert Killebrew said. "This is not a part of the world that understands turning the other cheek."

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld signaled resolve. "The stakes are high," he acknowledged Wednesday in a news briefing. "The United States will stay the course."

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:41 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

April 07, 2004

Pipes: Militant Islam Must Be Destroyed

The indispensable Daniel Pipes cites a new Rand Corporation publication on modernizing Islam: that objective is as crucial, if not more so, than tactical counter-terrorism, he says.

Cheryl Benard is the author, the title is "Civil Democratic Islam: Partners, Resources, and Strategies." Here's a direct, Rand link to order the print version, or download the whole thing for free. Pipes writes:

Benard recognizes the awesome ambition of the effort to modernize Islam: If nation-building is a daunting task, she notes, religion-building ''is immeasurably more perilous and complex.'' This is something never tried before; we enter uncharted territory here.

Civil Democratic Islam covers three topics: rival Muslim approaches to Islam; which approach contributes most to a moderate version of Islam; and policy recommendations for Western governments.

...Benard then proposes a strategy for religion-building with several prongs:

*Delegitimize the immorality and hypocrisy of fundamentalists. Encourage investigative reporting into the corruption of their leaders. Criticize the flaws of traditionalism, especially its promoting backwardness.

*Support modernists first. Support secularists on a case-by-case basis. Back traditionalists tactically against fundamentalists. Consistently oppose fundamentalists.

*Assertively promote the values of Western democratic modernity. Encourage secular civic and cultural institutions. Focus on the next generation. Provide aid to states, groups and individuals with the right attitudes.

Pipes concludes:

I agree with Benard's general approach, doubting only her enthusiasm for Muslim modernists, a group that through two centuries of effort has failed to help reconcile Islam with current realities......

Instead of modernists, I propose mainstream secularists as the forward-looking Muslims who uniquely can wrench their co-religionists out of their current slough of despair and radicalism. Secularists start with the proven premise of disentangling religion from politics; not only has this served the Western world well, but it has also worked in Turkey, the Muslim success story of our time.

Only when Muslims turn to secularism will this terrible era of their history come to an end.

Via Real Clear Politics.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:04 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 06, 2004

Poll: Minnesotans Favor State Constitutional Amendment Banning Gay Marriage

More and more, gay marriage is looking like a tough sell. The latest from Minnesota: a Minneapolis Star-Tribune poll finds 58 percent of likely voters say they'd vote for a proposed state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. A current state law against same-sex marriage could still be challenged in court, without such an amendment.

Let's keep in mind Minnesota has a long tradition of progressive politics. The state elected the late uber-liberal Paul Wellstone as Senator (before the Tri-Lateral Commission arranged for his plane to crash, that is). Minnesotans also elected as Governor (much to their later regret) former pro wrestler and third-party candidate Jesse Ventura.

So the renewed sentiments of Minnesotans against gay marriage can't be written off by backers as though Minnesota were, say, Oklahoma. It's not.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 05:04 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Tiptoeing Into Trouble

The U.S. has been paying for its timidity in Iraq, both before and after last week's atrocities against us in Fallujah, argues Ralph Peters in today's NY Post.

When U.S. forces arrive in a troubled country, they create an initial window of fear. It's essential to act decisively while the local population is still disoriented. Each day of delay makes our power seem more hollow. You have to do the dirty work at the start. The price for postponing it comes due with compound interest.

On the day of the ambush and mutilations in Fallujah, we made another inexcusable mistake. The Marines...failed to respond immediately. The generals up above seconded the decision. The chain of command was concerned about possible ambushes and wanted to let the situation burn itself out.

....Our failure to send every possible Marine and soldier, along with Paul Bremer's personal bodyguard and a squad of armed janitors, into the streets of Fallujah to impose a draconian clampdown created the impression - not entirely unfounded - that we were scared.

....Instead of demonstrating our strength and resolve, we have encouraged more attacks and further brutality - while global journalists revel in Mogadishu-lite.

To possess the strength to do what is necessary, but to refuse to do it, is appeasement. Since Baghdad fell, our occupation has sought to appease our enemies - while slighting our Kurdish allies. Our attempts to find a compromise with a single man - the Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani - have empowered him immensely, while encouraging intransigence in others.

If the administration lacks the guts to do what must be done, free Iraq will face a dismal future. As vicious as they are, our enemies have the courage of their convictions. Do we?

Tell it, Ralph.

UPDATE: Today's Wall Street Journal editorial echoes much of what Peters says.

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Our Youth, Our Future

Things have really slud on the literacy front. On a bulletin board in a Port Townsend pizzeria yesterday, I came across this notice from a would-be babysitter.

I'm a femail teenager that needs some mony and have had lots of experiance whith kids.

But not much with spelling.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 02:43 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 05, 2004

The Noble Resistance

Zeyad at Healing Iraq has an update on the latest conflagrations, and a few choice words about the Iraqi "resistance." Here's the money quote:

Iraqis know very well who those 'pious' people are. They are gangsters, rapists, murderers, thieves, kidnappers, looters, and criminals. They are only using religion as cover. I can't even dream of what would happen if those people were left to make trouble on our streets that way without punishment. I believe that it's now time for Al-Sadr to experience a very bad accident soon. We will be sorry for him I assure you. 'Oh poor fellow, what a terrible misfortune, what a great loss,' we would say to each other knowingly. It's scenes like these that make me sometimes wonder to myself if Saddam wasn't justified in assassinating all those clerics. Get that new Mukhabarat working.

Two comments. 1) Any bets on whether U.S. and European media continue to play up the "resistance" as noble and principled? 2) Bush should think twice about the 6/30 deadline. The political fall-out of it all going to hell after a 6/30 pull-out is greater than the gibes from The Left at extending the stay.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:03 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 04, 2004

Marrowstone Musings

Blogging from Marrowstone Island, on vacation. No, I'm not THAT sick a puppy; I took yesterday off. Perched here in a sweet cedar home on a bluff (please don't worry Dad - there's a thick row of hedges and the kids WON'T fall off). We're overlooking Admiralty Inlet, with a huge, awesome view of Mount Baker to the NE.

Kids drawing pictures at the kitchen table, Danny Gatton's "Redneck Jazz" on the boombox. Cargo ships gliding by, herons, and now, sun! Time to head out to Dungeness Spit, in Sequim, maybe stop at Trollhaven on the way, in Gardiner, for another look at the giant, weird trolls and purple castle.

Marrowstone is one of those undiscovered gems across The Sound, home to Fort Flagler State Park, secret beaches, and The Nordland Store, an old, wood-floored place with a continual soundtrack of jazz and bluegrass.

To get here, you go past the naval ordnance depot at Indian Island. A constant stream of empty, open-bed cargo trucks was leaving the depot yesterday, presumably having dropped off lots of, um, naval ordnance. Makes me feel just fine, dunno 'bout y'all. I have staked out a position in favor of naval ordnance.

More peaceable pursuits....

Yesterday at The Big Pig, a thrift store in Port Hadlock, we scored a copy of "Birds of Seattle and Puget Sound." Paging through, I realized the language of birders offers some choice invective.

Next time you need to truly disparage someone, try one of these fine insults.

Bufflehead! (A type of small duck).

Common Snipe! (Shorebird).

Red-necked Phalarope! (Shorebird).

Western Screech Owl!

Common Yellowthroat! (Wetlands Warbler).

And I imagine lefties could come up with some entertaining usages of "Bushtit."

We're in the middle of Bushtit season, by the way.

Any thoughts about naval ordnance, or bird-related insults, please post in "comments."

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:41 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 02, 2004

Get Smart on Transit Anti-Terror

Even before the Madrid train bombings of March 11, it was clear terrorist attacks on public transit systems in the U.S. could happen. After Madrid, the possibilities grew greater. Last week, in my regular guest op-ed column in The Seattle Times, I talked about the potential vulnerability of Seattle's 14-mile elevated commuter monorail to terrorism.

It's scheduled for completion in 2007. But because the monorail is collecting 30 percent less money than projected - from a local vehicle license excise tax - I suggested the monorail board seek voter approval of car rental tax of up to almost 2 percent. That's allowed under state law, and would provide extra funds for security police, explosives detection teams, and the like.

I bring all this up again right now, because just this morning comes more news emphasizing the vulnerability of commuter transit to terorrism.

One is the discovery of explosives on a major inter-urban high-speed rail line in Spain. Early indications are that it's the same type of stuff al-Qaeda-linked terrorists used to kill 190 in Madrid on 3/11. If today's plant is the work of Islamists, that won't say much for Spanish voters, who elected a naive, appeasing socialist regime days after 3/11, in hopes of calming the terrorist threat in Spain.

The second story strikes closer to home. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security are warning police of possible terrorist attacks on U.S. urban transit sytems, including buses and railways.

'We assess that buses and railways could be targeted,' said the message from the FBI Counterterrorism Division in Washington.

'The plot calls for the use of improvised explosive devices possibly constructed of ammonium nitrate and diesel fuel concealed in luggage and carry-on bags to include duffel bags and backpacks,' the message said.

The 'law enforcement sensitive' message obtained by CNN and some other news outlets was sent to all federal, state and local police agencies through the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System, and was not designed as a public announcement.

'Al Qaeda and other groups have demonstrated the intent and capability to attack public transportation with conventional explosives, vehicle-prone bombs and suicide bombers,' the message said.

The message reminded police that in addition to the recent Spain railway bombing, that bus bombings have been carried out in Greece, Israel and Turkey.

The message noted as well that this week in London, authorities seized a thousand pounds of ammonium nitrate and that eight British citizens of Pakistani origin were arrested on suspicion of being involved in terrorism.

I argued in my column (above) that the monorail Green Line will be especially iconic for Seattle, and a rich potential target. I stand by that, and urge the Seattle Monorail Project board to seriously consider putting the car rental tax to a public vote. The extra money will be needed for top-flight security.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:57 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 01, 2004

Drawn Like Flies To.....

This is rich. The Turkish and Italian Marxist revolutionaries busted today included a fellow committed to aiding the Iraqi "resistance." The L.A. Times reports:

...authorities said the operation that culminated in today's arrests exposed the significant cross-border ties between groups with similar goals, if unsimilar tactics.

'This consolidates the hypothesis that individuals or groups of Italian subversives, pushed by common anti-American and anti-Western views, can contact and collaborate with international terrorism,' Italian Interior Minister Giuseppe Pisanu (said).

...Among the Italians in custody is Moreno Pasquinelli, spokesman for a radical Italian group called the Anti-Imperialist Camp. Pasquinelli, on his group's website and in publications, has been attempting to raise money for 'the Iraqi resistance.' In an interview with the Times in February, Pasquinelli said that by 'resistance' he meant political parties that would govern a sovereign Iraq. He said that he was not involved in providing weapons to Iraqi fighters; there were already plenty of weapons in Iraq, he noted. At that time, he said he'd only raised about $13,000.

But the BBC said Pasquinelli told that news organization in an interview last year that he supported the 'armed struggle' in Iraq and that Iraqis could use his money to 'buy weapons, Kalashnikovs or medicines for people.'

As the summer Olympics in Athens approach, European authorities will be making more such busts, and world opinion will begin to consolidate against terrorism and the causes it supports. President Bush will reap deserved political benefits, at home and abroad.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 04:34 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Medicate This Guy, Fast

Here's why Chicago needs tighter gun controls, according to esteemed public policy analyst and Democratic Chicago Alderman Richard Mell: gang members get money from drug sales, spend some of the proceeds on guns, and sometimes kill innocent bystanders during their shooting wars.

More often they kill each other, which is a fairly efficient form of social justice. But having lived in Chicago for many years, I can say that nonetheless, armed self-protection is a very reasonable priority for law-abiding citizens.

Mell's comments came before the Council approved an advisory measure supporting state legislation to ratchet up gun controls.

Alderman Mell's son-in-law is Illinois' Democratic Governor, Rod Blagojevich. And as it happens, the Gov. believes in legal, armed self-defense.

Mell mentioned billions of dollars being spent in Afghanistan, Iraq and on Mars but did not mention...Gov. Blagojevich's support for a bill to lower from 21 to 18 the age a state resident can obtain a gun permit without parental support.

Was he sending a message to his son-in-law with his speech?

'No, no, no, no,' Mell said. "I didn't even read the (city council) resolution. I just thought it was about the assault weapons ban."

And this guy is considered a major player.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 03:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Psychic "Visions" Advertorial; Gets Results

Due to vibrations caused by the bellowing sea lions under the pier, Santa Cruz has always enjoyed a paranormal aura. And so, the home of the UCSC Banana Slugs is just the place for a "psychic" who charges $225 per 45-minute private reading to get a big, free commercial masquerading as an article in the local paper.

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

Iraqi, Pissed, And Determined

As always, turn to pro-democracy Iraqi bloggers for what Big Media downplays: courageous resolve in the face of stuff much worse than the latest nasty story which unfailingly gives Western appeasers the heebie-jeebies and U.S. conservative bloggers license to swear like, um, Ivy League-educated Marines.

Ali, posting at Omar's blog Iraq The Model, is sounding like Bush. It's a long post: here's the nub of it, at least to me.

This is not between Isalmists and the west, not between Saddam loyalists and America, this is between good and evil, light and darkness.. I call for serious measures upon such channels that provoke hatred and celebrate terror and show it as a heroic action. I say, 'nuke' Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabia, the terrorists and all dictators in the world. It’s either us or them”....This is not journalism, its terror propaganda.

I don't think there's a need to change the coalition strategy in Iraq in a radical way, it's a very good one, but needs some fine adjustments...we go on with our plans to build a new free and democratic Iraq and show the people the benefits and beauty of freedom, but at the same time..deal firmly with those who act only in response to hatred and fear and have no respect for any law or human values....and even eliminate when it’s necessary, those who don’t fit in the society.

We have suffered enough to get our freedom, thanks to our friends who sacrificed much to achieve their peace and ours, and we can’t turn back and we will never accept slavery again. No, better to die free than live as slaves for our fears.

Oh wait, I forgot. This guy's obviously a nut. The Iraqi people, and the Middle East, just aren't capable of democracy. Right?

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Big Green Swan Song

Almost-San Francisco Mayor Matt Gonzalez must be peeved at victor Gavin Newsom's fake bouquet to The Left on gay marriage, because he's quitting politics altogether. The Green Party stalwart has stunned supporters by announcing he won't seek re-election to his very secure seat representing Haight-Ashbury and adjoining neighborhoods on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

His considerable appeal to supporters is pretty well summed up here.

At Adobe Bookshop in the Mission District, where Gonzalez frequently browses -- and where there's a photo of him by the front desk -- Gonzalez recently appeared to read the premiere of his lyrical 'My Green Manifesto.' It's a list of four dozen reasons why he joined the Green Party, each prefaced by, 'I shall vote Green because...'

The list includes the rejoinders, 'I read the Communist Manifesto and I liked it,' to 'I love asparagus' to 'Federico Garcia Lorca loved Green.' To supporters it embodies Gonzalez: a politician bold enough to publicly embrace Marx, whimsical enough to adore asparagus and literate enough to drop Garcia Lorca.

A framed copy of the Manifesto was auctioned off for a fund-raiser.

"I think he's like a male, tan swan,' said Katrina Morrow, a 25-year-old Mission District resident who has written two poems and an essay about Gonzalez, one since the election. 'Swans are mythical, and stubborn and independent. And he's all of those things. That's what gives him his charisma.'

Ah well, at least he left the city with a visionary piece of legislation, approved last week by The Board of Supes. It bans chain stores in the Hayes Valley neighborhood, and restricts their establishment elsewhere in the city. That's some legacy.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:46 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack