May 31, 2004
Old Bolshi Croaks
60s hero and stalwart anti-war protestor David Dellinger recently died at age 88. Here's his mug shot, after refusing to register for WW II. Shoulda picked yer battles better. Dude!
"Conscientous Objector?" More like, "Unconscious."
Education blogger and blonde psychometrician Kimberly Swygert takes down an NYT critique of blogs, with some help from Bill Quick. Check out her links.
Bravo. Look at the numbers, indeed.
The revolution is being blogged.
Meanwhile, OJR weighs in.
Saudi Blogger: Al Qaeda Terrorist Rampage Warms (Too Many) Saudi Hearts
Saudi authorities have no authority. As Reuters reports:
KHOBAR, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) - Al Qaeda's daring attack at the heart of Saudi Arabia's oil producing region has exposed glaring security gaps and raised fears of a mass exodus of Westerners from the kingdom, analysts said.
Meanwhile, the stellar Saudi blogger who sardonically calls himself "Religious Policeman" says a near-majority of his countrymen are pleased with recent developments. And he's appalled.
I'd like to be able to say that the overwhelming majority of my fellow Saudis totally condemn this terrorism. Sadly, that is just not true. There is a substantial minority, if not verging on a majority, who applaud any action that discomfits a royal family whom they perceive to be "unreliable" in religious terms, and to be too friendly with the US. So they support any action against them, regardless of who dies. And I see this support for the terrorists all around me, both in furtive conversations and more overt celebrations, the smiling jokes among friends, the victory fist punched in the air.
Religious Policeman had to go on hiatus at the end of April, fearing another Internet crackdown. But he couldn't stay away long, and began posting roughly once a week, first at an Internet cafe. In the last several days, he's been posting more often, for obvious reasons. Hope he keeps at it. RP reminds the rest of the world there are decent, moderate Saudis who reject warped Muslim extremists, a complaisant public, and the corrupt, divisive royal family.
Drive all the foreigners out, and who'll actually do the work? There is no indigenous Saudi working class. Physical labor is beneath them.
Upside: this assault on the Saudi oil industry is good for mass transit projects in the U.S.
You like obits? You'll LOVE this.
Freedom: You Can Just Taste It
Western values and food are ascendant in Eastern Europe, 15 years after Communist regimes were extirpated.
A good thing, too. Apart from the usual overcooked meat, potatoes and dumplings; delicacies under The Reds included spaghetti made of limp noodles, ketchup and shredded cheese. Pizza was "thick yeast cake topped with vegetables and ketchup." Another favorite: fried cheese with mayonnaise.
Now: grilled salmon with strawberry sauce; herbs and spices; avocados; and exotic items such as asparagus and broccoli.
Before long: piroshky filled with sea urchin; and Slivovitz tastings.
Abu Ghraib Wasn't "Horror"
The media are riding the Abu Ghraib story "like a Triple Crown winner," although as atrocities go, it ranks fairly low. So says military officer K.B. James in a letter to The Tacoma News-Tribune. Here's an excerpt, but read the whole thing.
As a military officer, I can assure you that no one is angrier over the abuse of Iraqi prisoners than members of the U.S. military....However, the media are riding this story like it is a triple crown winner. Every few days we dish out a few more repulsive pictures - the more sensational, the better. And if the pictures aren't sensational enough, the headlines are, such as Friday's News Tribune headline - "New prison horrors." When you utilize phrases like that, where do you go if it gets worse?
Toward A Modern Islam in Pakistan
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf wants religious reform in his country: Islam of the 21st Century, not the 16th. There's hope, although it's slow going. More in this excellent SF Chron op-ed.
Progressive forces in Pakistan, a country often derided in the international press as an impoverished backwater overrun with gun-toting wackos, are fighting hard for changes in the education curriculum here that have the potential to bring Pakistan more in line with Western secularized modern education systems and make it a role model for other Islamic countries struggling to progress in the 21st century.
Recent government attempts to reform curricula in religious schools (madrassas) were met with stiff resistance in parliament, the media and mosques.
...pro-modern, tolerant, worldly forces found themselves on the run as the government backed down.....Many of the textbooks used in government schools are based on a syllabus created 10 to 15 years ago -- before the end of the Cold War and the advent of the Internet. All are infused with dictates of former military dictator Gen. Zia ul-Haq, who embarked on an Islamization program that spawned thousands of willing recruits for military campaigns in neighboring Afghanistan and Kashmir and fomented serious divisions inside Pakistan.
UPDATE: Turmoil in Pakistan continues, with a suicide bombing at a Shi'ite mosque in Karachi today killing 15 (now 19, and three more in related riots). The blast occured just one kilometer from where a Sunni cleric was assassinated yesterday. Earlier in May, a suicide blast at another Shi'ite mosque in Karachi killed 23 and injured 100.
May 29, 2004
We Can Work It Out
Some of my best friends have roots on the sub-continent. Alright, one; my wife's maid of honor Kausar, her high-school best pal. Kausar's family is Pakistani. And boy, was her wedding to a super-cool white guy from Menlo Park, CA (Hi Dougmeister!) something else. They met on a Greek island.
Naturally they live in The Mission, in SF. We've visited them there several times, and hope they'll join us this summer in Mt. Shasta as we stalk the ancient lost tribes of Lemuria.
I greatly respect Indian and Pakistani cultures. (We get to reform of Pakistani madrassas in another post). Indians and Pakistanis stress education, family, food and music. A lot like my people, the Jews, in those respects.
But there are some things about Indian culture that are foreign to me. Such as arranged marriages. Yeah, I saw Fiddler On The Roof. Jews did this too, perhaps still do. Other groups as well.
My late Grandpa Jacob (may his soul rest in peace) almost didn't attend our 1987 wedding because I was marrying a shikse. That's Yiddish for Gentile woman. In the end he came, and enjoyed himself.
I'm thinking about all this because I stumbled across a site devoted to helping arrange marriages between men and women of Indian descent. Shaadi.com is a "matrimonial services provider."
See this lovely couple, especially the bride. Yet in the first picture here, does not the groom appear to have had a few too many Pimm's Cups? That crown doesn't help, fellah.
And what's up with "Chemicalbrother" and Minaya? He works for Upjohn, or Pfizer? Shouldn't he give his real first name, not a disrespectful alias? Especially given he's a honky? Is the site in the mail-order bride business, too, along with traditional matchmaking?
Hope this one isn't some kinda Green Card for money or sex deal. Must be some other reason the bride's staring at the floor so hard. Right?
U.S. Deaths in Iraq: A Historical Perspective
I'm very pleased to run this thought-provoking guest essay by James. J. Na. He's the Foreign Policy Fellow at the Discovery Institute, a Seattle think-tank. I'd welcome comments here at the blog, and James' e-mail address is at the end, too.
By James J. Na
This April was the deadliest month for the US forces in Iraq. According to a site that tracks American military fatalities there, 140 Americans soldiers died in April. During fourteen months of combat operations between March 2003 to April 2004, the total number of fatalities was 741, making the average 53 deaths per month.
Even in the deadliest month of April, the death toll was 140, making it substantially smaller than even the anomalously low Gulf War rate. When overall population growths are factored in -- for example, during World War I, the total US population was only a little over 100 million while today it exceeds over 260 million -- the death rate for the current war shrinks still in comparison to the others.
There was no talk of a "quagmire" as thousands of American died on the beaches of Normandy in one day and as thousands more died in the jungles of the Pacific, facing suicide attacks from a fanatical foe. No one was accused of hyped intelligence when the actual German atomic weapons program turned out to be substantially less advanced than estimated. Instead, the families of the Greatest Generation, already having survived a crippling Depression, quietly endured the deaths and supported the military endeavors to defend American interests and to extend the boundaries of freedom.
James J. Na is the Foreign Policy Fellow at Discovery Institute. His writings have appeared in the Asian Wall Street Journal, Defense News, Naval Institute's Proceedings, the Seattle Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
ADD YOUR COMMENTS HERE, AND feel free to contact James at firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 28, 2004
No Viagra For The Brain, Sorry
Maybe you've heard the popular theory that we only use 10 percent of our brains. Bunk, writes Barry Beyerstein of Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, B.C. In this brief explanatory essay from Scientific American, he blames the myth partly on Lowell Thomas' intro to the famous Dale Carnegie book, "How To Win Friends and Influence People."
One unanswered question in this informative piece: just how much of our brains, or brain power DO we actually use - assuming no injury? Any brainiacs out there have an answer?
Hat tip to Lorna.
The Independent: U.N. Peacekeepers Sexually Exploiting Teen Girls in Congo
Teen-age rape victims who've become mothers and vulnerable refugees in Congo's ongoing fighting are being sexually exploited by U.N. "peacekeepers."
At night girls from the Internally Displaced Peoples (IDP) camp in Bunia, Congo, slip under a fence to liase with the U.N. soldiers, mostly from developing nations.
In return, they get a banana or piece of cake to feed their infants, The Independent reports.
This despite the U.N.'s "zero tolerance" pledge on peacekeeper abuse of refugees and a U.N. investigation of same, in Congo.
Sounds like the reporter has pinpointed one place where the "investigators" should, um, investigate.
Meanwhile, more U.N. "peacekeepers" have arrived in Congo, from Uruguay, to help the wobbly Congolese army beat back ethnic Hutu hardliners who were expelled from Rwanda for their role in the genocide of 800,000 Tutsis. Got that?
More background on the mess in Congo, and the role of the diamond trade in financing terrorist organizations in this earlier Rosenblog post.
May 27, 2004
A Teacher Speaks
I've been hearing from Howard Wolf for a while, in connection with my guest op-eds that have appeared in The Seattle Times, and my blog, which I started in late January. Howard sent this along today, and with his permission, I'm sharing it here. Seems apropos to a lot, including the Cosby story.
For out-of-towners, Howard's closing reference to John Stanford is about a widely-admired ex-Army General and ex-Fulton County, Georgia Chief Executive who came to Seattle in the mid-90s as our new public schools superintendent. Stanford, an African-American, energized everybody, convincingly stressing a core belief that all children really were capable of high achievement. The buy-in was palpable. He seemed poised to lead a real turnaround of our town's deeply troubled public schools, which have been losing market share for years. But then he tragically died of leukemia. We haven't recovered the momentum since.
(From Howard Wolf, Seattle). I was a teacher for thirty years; seven were in Daly City, California and twenty-three were in Seattle. As far back as the early seventies I encountered children who already realized that the “race card” was more potent than the personal responsibility card. It trumped responsibility by cowing many teachers and administrators with the often trumped-up charge of racism.
Comments on Howard's contribution are welcome.
Am I Blue?
Netscape (remember them?) still has an online news digest. I'm not sure they should. This summary of a study on the benefits of listening to music shows they need better editors.
First, they say listening to music will do a lot of good things for your mood, including "vanishing" feelings of sadness. Then, right after that, they say listening to music won't erase a number of problematic emotions, including the afore-mentioned "sadness."
Which is it, guys?
I'd hazard that it all depends on the music. Gimme some Latin jazz or Township Jive from South Africa to chase away the blues. But not blues. Unless it's really upbeat, and about drinking. Which of course causes short-term euphoria followed by.....sadness.
Cosby Coverage Slowly Building on West Coast
(LAST UPDATED 6/7). Slowly (very slowly at first) West Coast newspapers have offered commentary or coverage of Bill Cosby's controversial remarks to the NAACP in mid-May on self-responsibility for lower-income blacks. With two exceptions, noted below, the West Coast daily newspaper coverage of the Cosby controversy cited below has been exceedingly lame.
Here's what I've come across.
San Jose Mercury News columnist Joe Rodriguez proffers this accusatory, would-be takedown of Coz.
And the Seattle Times' Jerry Large has a worthy piece warning against "either-or" thinking (racism vs. black self-improvement).
The Oregonian, Portland's big daily, had this bare-bones transcript of some of Cosby's remarks, via the WaPo.
And 12 days after the event, The Tacoma News-Tribune offers this formulaic, decidely non-local AP reaction story.
Fifteen days afterward, the SF Chron ran this week-old rebuttal of Cosby's remarks from an NAACP official.
In the third week, a few more West Coast dailies chimed in. The Alameda News-Star and the Tacoma News-Tribune ran this same (and strong) syndicated piece on Cosby's message, by black conservative Star Parker.
The beginning of Week Four following Cosby's May 17 speech saw this excellent op-ed in The Seattle Times on the Cosby furor. It's by Oscar Eason, Jr., head of the NAACP State Conference (covering Oregon, Washington and Alaska). Note the link above, to the earlier Jerry Large piece in The SeaTimes.
FYI, Cosby reiterated his views in a speech at Stanford University, and also sat down to talk things over on Tavis Smiley's PBS television show. (Transcript here).
Thank Goodness for Officials
May 26, 2004
SF to LA Bullet Train: Yeah, Baby!
Picture this. Bullet trains going 220 mph, from San Francisco to LA. By 2013. And for only $37 billion. Arnold wants to delay a planned '04 bond issue for the first $9 billion-plus 'till '06, given the state's fiscal situation. Sensible. But, as one source points out in this San Jose Mercury News story, highways and airports alone won't be able to meet future inter-city travel demand in the corridor.
Environmentalists are worried - it's their job. Give 'em a few inches, but not a mile. This needs to happen.
And now, I go off the deep end. If the NW has half a brain, we'll muster the collective political will for something similar, from Portland to Seattle, and perhaps one day to Vancouver B.C.. That last part's if, and only if, the Canadians ever get a handle on the terrorists slipping in and out of their country.
Several clear obstacles for a Portland-Seattle bullet train would raise the stakes: grade crossings, crummy track that has to be replaced, and paralyzing NIMBY-itis in each affected en-route locale. But just as for needed highway, bridge and ferry improvements in WA, the longer we wait, the costlier it gets.
My blue sky clouds up worse still: politicans always playing defense against WA tax-cut initiative king Tim Eyman are scared to articulate a vision for anything other than getting elected.
Fact is, for a whole bunch of reasons, we need our own super-charismatic, thoroughly modern, direct appeal go-getter for Guv up here. Sadly, no Arnold in sight. (Maybe Jay Buehner?) Nah, we're too damn bland and timid for anything like that.
At least, could we dare to hope that top '04 WA candidates for Governor -Christine Gregoire and Dino Rossi - might offer some substantive thoughts before Election Day on intra-city high-speed rail in the NW.
(Free registration required at Mercury-News, for story).
Fidel: Here's an Idea
See how much play THIS gets in the press.
Hot off the server from the Coalition Provisional Authority.
The Iraq Property Claims Commission (IPCC) office has opened in Basra to help citizens reclaim houses and land seized by the former regime.
It's a Wrap
Do Phish begin to smell after two decades? Trey Anastasio and crew think so. The popular jam-band will call it quits after this summer's tour. They reeled off some tasty licks in their time, but know their shtick is played; no matter how many Deadhead wanna-bes follow them around the country.
I've got one Phish CD. I like it. And it's plenty, thanks.
UPDATE: In the comment string to this post, Naarski reminds that a creepy incident just last August involving Phish bassist Mike Gordon can't have added to the veteran band's mojo very much. Here's what was reported. Backstage at a Jones Beach, New York Grateful Dead concert, long-time film and photo buff Gordon disappeared into a dark, secluded nearby boathouse with the nine-year-old daughter of a Hell's Angel to take what he later termed "art pictures."
The girl's absence from backstage was noticed, she and Gordon were found, and he was beaten up by Hell's Angels. Gordon was charged with endangering the welfare of a minor and trespassing, but the case quietly died. Naarski offers a tongue-in-cheek "conspiracy theory," including this: Hell's Angels controlled the drug concession at Phish concerts, and wanted to keep the peace after administering their own brand of justice to Gordon.
For more, see this post from Chronic Murmuring, a blog by "a recovering theological prick." Nota bene the comments.
Now THAT'S Pro-Life
Arkansas mom has her 15th kid; dad's name is Jim Bob. Kids are home-schooled. Mealtimes must be a kick.
THIS family could run a farm at a profit, in a few years. Or start a white gospel choir?
They want to procreate again. A good thing? At this point, I'd have to say, emphatically, YES!
May 25, 2004
"Soul Plane" Off Course
Sing happened to see an extended trailer for a new film called "Soul Plane," and was appalled. So are some other folks, now organizing a campaign against it. Sing writes:
When I see trailers of a film like 'Soul Plane', and I recently had the chance to see an extended trailer, I see individual people who are black, reduced to the exact same racist stereotypes that blacks were subject to fifty years ago with shows like Amos 'n Andy...only with total cooperation of black people! From what I saw of 'Soul Plane', blacks are shown as shallow, rude, and always ready to dance or get laid. Black women are portrayed as either loud or obnoxious or as hos; mere objects for the sexual gratification of men. Black men are portrayed as lazy, unsophisticated, and in some ways cowardly.
In a recent comment string at Rosenblog on Bill Cosby's controversial and right-on remarks to the NAACP, Larry Evans, an African-American from Seattle, expressed deep concern about clown-ish, disrespectful images of blacks on TV and in movies. But he stressed - rightly, I think - that whites play a big part in producing and consuming this stuff. Evans also posits that whites who like to see a black portrayed as clown, pimp or ho in make-believe, also like to see blacks as victims in real life.
...there are those who want many blacks to have the superficial, materialistic, violent, exploitive, comedic, shallow practices exhibited on white-owned BET (Black Entertainment Television)....As black people, we have a great deal of work to do. But whites need to actually try to do what you are telling us to do - look in the mirror and take responsibility for your own actions, including the kind of images of blacks you reject, and accept. When black men in the media are buffoonish clowns, they are accepted by mainstream America. When they are thoughtful and serious, they make many whites uncomfortable. When Chris Tucker was a weed smoking, bug-eyed, clown in many of his movies, he was always working. Then he went to Africa with Bono and came back with a thoughtful, serious mentality that he spoke about while accepting an award for Rush Hour. The brother hasn't worked since.
Starbucks Isn't Evil, Their Coffee's Just Crummy
Nothing gets my day off to a crappy start like a crappy cuppa Joe. In a moment of weakness at Target not long ago, I bought a bag of Starbucks French Roast. I was out of coffee, it was there, it was easy. Too easy. I noticed an immediate drop in quality compared to the stuff we usually bring home form the local coffeehouse down the street, but decided to tuff it out. I spent the money, I'm Jewish, case closed.
Then vacationing neighbors gifted us with some Nickybeans Kona from Maui Coffee Roasters. Shazzam! Mild yet rich, smooth, succulent, cerebral and scintillating. I'd paste this stuff all over a T-bone steak and grill it, I would!
Perversely reverting to thrift this morning, I decided to make a dent in the rest of the Starbucks. Oy! After getting acclimated to the Nickybeans Kona, the taste wavered between fish entrails and burnt plastic.
And yes, Starbucks PR people, I recently DID have a free sample of your new Hawaiian product, foisted on me by some smarmy manager with a ceaseless spiel. Best I can say: less burnt than your other varieties.
My perspective on coffee is consumer-driven, and fiercely apolitical. Just because Starbucks java is crud; just because their outsourced food leaves me cold; just because they've got incredibly lame signs boasting their food is "oven-warmed" (as opposed to what, microwaved?); NONE OF THAT means for one tiny second that I support the anti-globalization and anti-corporate protests directed against the company. I don't.
It's true that accretion of capital, expansionism, mass production and marketing can vault second-rate products to the top of the heap. But it's we the hornswoggled consumers who make the choices.
Thanks for the reminder, guys.
May 24, 2004
Gregory Clay: Cosby The Code Breaker
One of the stronger opinion pieces I've seen so far on the Cosby-NAACP affair popped up on Google News after my earlier update this morning. It's by Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service editor Gregory Clay. He attended the D.C. Brown vs. Board do, and lauds Cosby as a "code breaker" for his speech there.
Here's a bit of Clay's op-ed, including an interesting aside about similar, earlier comments from ex-NBA star Charles Barkley.
During the reception, the champagne flowed. When the program started, the bright lights glowed. And when the festivities ended, actor-comedian-philanthropist Bill Cosby had provided the spark that shocked us back to reality.
Again, read the whole thing. It'd be beneficial to society if this piece ran in all, or at least many, Knight-Ridder and Tribune Co.-affiliated newspapers. Any particular reason that shouldn't happen?
Love Me, Baby
Sounds like gabby, scattered and lonely Bill Clinton really needs a personal coach. (Hat tip to Lorna).
Perhaps the conflicted ex-POTUS should run for President of France. Apparently, he could.
"People of Mass Destruction"
That's what Thomas Friedman calls the suicide bombers in Iraq. And no one should cite their actions as evidence of Iraqi opposition to the U.S. presence.
...reports suggest they are coming from Europe, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria and Saudi Arabia...
Hat tip to Tom Rekdal.
For at least the third time in recent weeks I've received this e-mail from Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; even though I categorically have NOT e-mailed him.
This serves as an immediate means to acknowledge my receipt of your message. I am currently experiencing a large volume of e-mails, and your questions will be answered as soon as possible.
Jeb, dude, my only question is why you keep sending me this whack e-mail.
Actually, I've got a comment, too. If I HAD been seeking an answer from you, by now I'd be fairly pissed that all I get is this same form e-mail telling me you're too busy to reply.
If you'd like a top-to-bottom audit of your gubernatorial communications apparatus - which you seem to need - I will be happy to respond to an RFP. If minority contractor criteria are a concern, I believe I qualify, as a Ukranian-Irish Seattle conservative work-at-home father.
Coverage of Cosby Controversy: Update #4
As I predicted, Leonard Pitts steps up to the Cosby controversy. Also today, veteran Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg zeroes in on the media's timidity toward the story of Cosby's hard-nosed remarks on black self-responsibility, which he made last week at the NAACP's Brown vs. Board commemoration.
I always thought of Bill Cosby as just an avuncular, low-key comedian in a fancy sweater. But he said some very sharp, very candid remarks last week at a celebration....marking the 50th anniversary of Brown vs. Board of Education. So sharp that most newspapers and media outlets ignored them. But the Washington Post didn't, and I wanted to pass some of his words along to you, both for the sentiments he conveyed and as a reminder that black leaders do actually say these things. It's we, the media, apparently, who tend to miss them.
The last link (from my post yesterday), includes more from the tape-recording of Cosby's speech, as reported by WaPo columnist Richard Leiby. He originally broke the story. In the comment string of the first Rosenblog link above, note the frank and lengthy response to Cosby's message from Larry Evans, a 46-year-old African-American from Seattle.
A week later, STILL no coverage of Cosby's shot across the bow in any West Coast dailies, according to my search on Google News. (Let me know if you discover something).
We really ARE The Left Coast, huh?
May 23, 2004
How Bahrain's Elected Parliament Got Screwed
I've blogged twice in the last few weeks on the pro-reform petitioners who were thrown in jail in Bahrain. As many as 20 faced life in prison on absurdly trumped-up charges. See my posts here and - after Human Rights Watch issued a condemnation - here.
Just two days after HRW sounded the claxon, 14 of the petitioners were supposedly released, according to this otherwise unconfirmed and typically cryptic report on the recent goings-on.
Still, the underlying problem of a disenfranchised Sh'ia majority (sound familiar?) remains. And as an aspiring exemplar of Mid-East democracy, Bahrain needs to do better. Sacking the Interior minister after police routed anti-American protestors the other day is a nice gesture, but hardly enough.
In tommorow's Daily Star (Lebanon), Abdulhadi Khalaf gives the backstory on how the elected Bahraini parliament (which includes Sh'ia office-holders) has been effectively squashed by the King and his own appointed council. As it happens, this is exactly what the petitioners were trying to change. One flaw in Khalaf's informative op-ed is that it fails to even mention the April 30 jailings, although that may be because it had to be submitted beforehand to the Arab Reform Bulletin, where it was first published.
Outtakes From Cosby's Speech to NAACP
12/3/04 UPDATE: After you read this post, click here to read "Cosby For NAACP Head?"
Still not Dribble One in West Coast daily newspapers about Bill Cosby's in-your-face exhortations to black parents who aren't doing their jobs. (UPDATE; 5/27, 5/29 and 6/1: OK, now a few West Coast dailies are acknowledging the story, but not many. Most are just trying to get it off their plates. And it took them long enough).
Coz's remarks came at the NAACP's Brown vs. Board shindig last week in D.C. The story was originally broken by WaPo columnist Richard Leiby. The delayed-reaction, liberally-filtered NY Times article on the ruckus ran yesterday, now making the story safe for general consumption.
Chicago Tribune syndicated columnist Clarence Page wrote about Cosby's remarks today, and the UK Telegraph joined in, with a statement from Cosby that he belives his remarks pertain to urban blacks in England as well. (Free registration required for both pieces).
And in today's Washinton Post, "Reliable Source" columnist Leiby transcribes more of Cosby's taped remarks. Mind you, Coz is a bit worked up. (Free registration required).
In fiery remarks last week in Washington, Bill Cosby took the black community to task for parental failures that he says have led to high dropout rates, crime and other social ills. After we published brief excerpts of his cultural critique -- delivered at a gala marking the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education desegregation ruling -- several readers called for more. Conservative broadcasters seized upon Cosby's remarks, but he was unrepentant in an interview yesterday with The Post's Hamil Harris: "Do I not make a move to speak to the people that I love?" he said.
Finally, Cosby has issued a press release strongly underscoring his concerns; but also stressing he was speaking out in the context of the high (high-school) drop-out rate among blacks.
UPDATE: 7/2/04. Cosby lays it out again, in Chicago, confusing some headline writers, but drawing strong support from his audience.
And join this string on AIDS and personal responsibility.
May 22, 2004
A Skittish Print Media (Slowly) Warms to Coverage of Cosby-NAACP Controversy
Still no coverage in West Coast newspapers of Bill Cosby's pointed remarks on black self-responsibility, made at the NAACP's Brown vs. Board gala in D.C. earlier this week. However, several days after Washington Post columnist Richard Leiby broke the story and WorldNetDaily then picked it up, the NY Times has finally deigned to take notice.
There's plenty of editorializing disguised as reporting from writer Felicia R. Lee, such as labelling Cosby's common-sense remarks "inflammatory." And Lee disingenuously attempts to frame the controversy as something that has received wide coverage on not only the Internet and talk radio, but newspapers too. (Wrong, very wrong on the last count; and that's a real problem, Ms. Lee).
But Lee's piece also includes a valuable follow-up interview with Cosby. And the NYT story is getting picked today in other U.S. metro daily papers, tho again, none on the West Coast (based on results from Google News). Let me know if you see the real story - including Cosby's remarks about language, literacy, materialism and incarceration - in a West Coast daily. I'm guessing by tomorrow, a few will dare to run the official, liberally-filtered NYT version. That's just how this stuff goes, right?
Several columnists weigh in today on the Cosby flap, including Colbert I. King in the WaPo, Cary Clack in the San Antonio News-Express, and (lame) Eugene Kane in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. (Free registration required in all cases).
Any day now in his nationally syndicated column, Leonard Pitts will weigh in, and white editorial page editors will breathe a sigh of relief, absolved from addressing Cosby's remarks directly.
May 21, 2004
Cosby's Tough Message at NAACP Gala Censored From West Coast Daily Papers?
Probably no big surprise that Bill Cosby's tough message about black self-responsibility, literacy, parenting and crime went over like a lead balloon at the NAACP's Brown vs. Board bash in DC earlier this week, as Richard Leiby reported in his Washington Post column (2nd item). Leiby's blurb far outdid the toned-down AP report, as James Taranto noted in Opinion Journal yesterday (6th item down).
But there's more to it than that. Coz's hard-nosed bootstrap message to fellow blacks (points commonly acknowledged all the time by blacks, though not usually in the presence of whites) can't seem to get any play in West Coast U.S. daily newspapers, or much of anywhere else.
What you DO get, searching for "Bill Cosby" AND "NAACP" at Google News, apart from the few pick-ups (as of today) based on Leiby's column, is a whole lot of pre-event press release-puffy newspaper pieces about Cosby being honored at the shindig for his educational philanthropy.
Even then, it took WorldNetDaily, a conservative online publication, to highlight Leiby's report. Odd. Or not? Certainly hundreds of newspaper editors and commentators around the country regularly scan Leiby's lively, D.C.-based column.
The problem: Cosby was saying something most editors dare not print: that contrary to what guilty white liberal Nanny-Staters think, blacks, like everyone else in America, are responsible for their own fate.
Here's the entire Cosby segment from Leiby's column (italics mine).
Bill Cosby was anything but politically correct in his remarks Monday night at a Constitution Hall bash commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision. To astonishment, laughter and applause, Cosby mocked everything from urban fashion to black spending and speaking habits.
Anyone sees this pop up in a major West Coast daily newspaper, let me know. I'll gladly give credit where it's due.
Original tip on story from Seattle blogger P. Scott Cummins, "The UrbaneR."
Blog Management 101
I'm not much of one for posting tech-talk related to my blog; I'm just learning as I go and diggin' it. BUT, I do need to mention two things.
One, apologies if you came to Rosenblog this a.m. and got a very truncated version. I discovered that mysteriously, the entire right-hand column had disappeared. No blogroll, search box, quick links to recent visitor comments, nothing. On top of that, instead of the usual 15 or so visible posts, things were cut off in the middle of about the third one.
Discovering that all my code was still in the main templates box, and all the posts likewise still there at the back end, I did a simple rebuild of main templates, and everything was back to normal. This is probably super-basic site repair, but I guess I'm the tiniest bit proud that I managed to suss it out on my own.
Two, let me register my profound disgust with the porn site blog trollers out there. They dig up an old item from a legitimate blogger's archive and then make some utterly useless comment, only so that they can leave a link to their putrid site.
Because - like many bloggers - I have links to recent visitor comments near the top of my page, the despicable trollers potentially get a minute or two of exposure if someone clicks on their comment and then on their name-to-site link at the end of the comment, if they have a site, that is. Granted, it's unlikely anyone would be curious enough to do that after reading their utterly vapid remarks (i.e. "it is so very nice here, I can't think of a better place to be").
Regardless, their "comments" and site link are excised ASAP, and each new transgressor will be IP banned to hell, at least here.
However, I'm NOT going to remove the comment feature, or the optional posting of commenters' website URLs. Blogging is an organic process. The vast majority of commenters and commenter web site links are on the up-and-up, and add to the ever-thickening and tasty stew that is the blogosphere. The rest will continue to be quickly weeded out, to the best of my ability.
May 20, 2004
This is Canada On Drugs
Vancouver has so encouraged the hard-drug and commercial sex trades in the Downtown Eastside neighborhood that law enforcement has no traction there. A "safe-injection" site has been established for junkies, and pending a government study, a new clinic will legally distribute heroin and methadone.
As Vancouver's progressive solons promote drug addiction and prosititution under the guise of compassion, Statist progressives have unfurled their latest plan to help Vancouver's most wretched save themselves.
Local booksellers, a major publisher and Simon Fraser University have joined forces so local prostitutes can get free copies of a book written by an ex-Vancouver hooker about, well, their lives.
The idea seems to be that government-sanctioned needles, drugs and "treatment" for addicts - including sex-trade workers - won't be enough. But if they hear from an ex-peer about the hidden yearnings and brutal treatment of other drug-addicted sex trade workers in Vancouver, THEN they'll pull themselves up out of the muck.
Yet the risks are already clear. In a gruesome case that has been all over Vancouver newspapers, radio and TV, as many as 31 Vancouver prostitutes were abducted, slaughtered and buried on a pig farm east of Vancouver. Charges have been filed in more than 20 cases so far; some 60 women had gone missing.
Perhaps the whole descent into depravity, Vancouver-style, will be replicated in quaint, tourist-bethronged Victoria, just across the water on Vancouver Island. The city's addict population has finally reached the desired critical mass, and a "safe injection site" is now under consideration. Presumably, a bit aways from the ladies in lace going to afternoon tea.
Pointing The Finger at AP Hand-Hacking Story
Here's what's unaccountably missing from the AP story on the seven Iraqi men who got new prosthetic hands in Houston the other day, years after Saddam's thugs hacked them off. 1) It happened at Abu Ghraib - gosh, that wouldn't have any relevance to current events now, would it? 2) It was videotaped and used to intimidate other Iraqis - ditto! 3) There were nine men mutilated in that instance, not just seven, (and countless thousands more on other occasions).
Their alleged crime was dealing in foreign currency.
If you missed the tepid - or should I say "amputated" - AP piece; here it is.
Now the real scoop, naturally from a 'tabloid' paper many respectable journalists sneeringly dismiss, and then quietly read anyway to see if they've been skunked. Former journalist, and documentary filmaker Don North, who does rate a passing mention in the AP sketch, lays it out in this NY Post op-ed.
North's pursuit of the story began after seeing a video of the same seven men recently fitted for prosthetic hands in Houston - and two others - each undergoing surgical removal of a hand at Abu Ghraib.
It wasn't hard to track the men shown in the video. The incident was well known in Baghdad and the tape had been widely circulated to terrorize other merchants who might dare to deal in foreign currency...I went looking for the men in the video. Of the nine who lost their hands in 1995, six were still in Baghdad, one had died, one escaped to Germany and one to Holland. I tracked them down and proposed I make a documentary incorporating the brutal amputation scenes, while telling their story to the world. They agreed.
Read the rest of North's remarkable inside story, which has been all but ignored in recent media accounts.
May 19, 2004
Owning Up to Abu Ghraib: The Beginning of a "Lesson in Democracy"
A lesson for the Arab world in accountability and Western justice is just beginning to unfold. With about a dozen Iraqi and other Arab reporters taking notes, Specialist Jeremy C. Sivits pleads guilty to four charges in the first court martial proceeding against American soldiers involved in the torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib.
A telling part of Dexter Filkins' NYT dispatch won't be much appreciated by the Hate-Bush, Hate-America Left, but must be acknowledged by all:
'I think this could have been seen on television,' said Baktiar Amin, the Iraqi Human Rights Minister, after he watched the court-martial.
Sivits was actually a mechanic at Abu Ghraib who escorted a prisoner to a cell, saw abuses and failed to report them. Three other, more central figures were arraigned Wednesday and face court martial proceedings. We're also facing up to chain-of-command failures that allowed early reports from the Red Cross of Abu Ghraib abuses to be ignored.
Can you imagine any of this happening if an Arab nation had made the same mistakes?
A Profile In Cowardice
More junk science from the racial profiling police, says Heather McDonald in today's Boston Globe.
She takes on a recent study by researchers at Northeastern University in Boston; it is based on the usual shoddy methodologies.
To the claim that the police stop 'too many' members of any given demographic group, the question must always be: 'too many' compared to what? ....Crime rates differ across racial and ethnic groups; evidence suggests that driving behavior might, too....Different levels of equipment violations, such as broken taillights and missing vehicle registration tags, must be accounted for as well. Poor people have to defer required repairs more often than the affluent, and poverty is concentrated in minority populations. No word from the Massachusetts study on this factor, however.
Next Year, Loaves and Fishes?
Kind of nice to hear there were some very low-key Christians who infiltrated Berkeley's Pagan Pride festivities. They were passing out free water.
Baroud: Arab World Must Shape Up
In the Daily Star (covering Lebanon, Egypt, Kuwait and the Middle East), pro-Palestinian journalist Ramzy Baroud opines the Arab world must shape up - without using U.S. or Israeli policies as an excuse to forestall reform.
For one, Arab countries are in urgent need of overreaching change, change that fundamentally refurbishes their political, economic and even cultural institutions......the realization among many Arabs that the U.S. government is seeking to further its strategic goal in the region can hardly diminish the quandary.
May 18, 2004
Drawing The Line in Duluth
I believe we can manage to uphold religious faith on our own, without seeking any stamp of approval from government. So do some folks in Duluth, Minnesota.
According to a recent federal court settlement, a monument of the Ten Commandements will have to leave City Hall grounds in the old home of Bobby Zimmerman (a.ka. Bob Dylan).
Duluth will never be the same. Blame those big-city slickers from the St. Paul ACLU, and hard-headed Duluth atheists.
The real market test comes now: will a private buyer rescue the monument, and move it to a suitable spot? Like, say, on a church's grounds?
Human Rights Watch Protests Treatment of Pro-Democracy Petitioners in Bahrain
Finally, some Western media attention to the appalling persecution of pro-democracy Bahraini petitioners. They're threatened with life in jail after seeking greater authority for the country's elected parliament - a body forced to share power with the King's hand-picked assembly. An estimated 20 petitioners are still imprisoned, and now, Human Rights Watch is sounding the trumpets.
This blatant suppression of freedom of speech and association flies in the face of the government’s proclaimed commitment to democratic change. The right to petition peacefully is fundamental, and this petition addresses an issue that lies at the heart of democratic reforms.
Given the HRW hook, Rueters is getting into the act. Good for them. More big media should follow, especially given the vague, weak reporting on the matter by Bahrain's timid newspapers. (Three blogs to track are to the right on my blogroll, under "Bahrain").
I've said it before (in the lively comment string appended to this post) and I'll say it again: just because the petitoners are Shi'a doesn't mean they're woman-hating monsters - as two other commenters claim, in the string. In fact, I wonder if democratic reforms might not up the ante for treatment of women in Bahrain. Things sound pretty crappy for them at present, as this post from the leading Bahraini blogger Mahmood shows. It's a commentary about a sexual harasser/member of parliament getting off easy at trial because he had "immunity," and Mahmood is rightly surprised the piece slipped in to the normally flaccid Gulf Daily News.
All told, if Bahrain's stated aspirations to modernity and democracy are more than a public relations sheen for foreign investors, they've got to grant social justice to women; let the 20 prisoners out; and begin the reform process in earnest.
Here's Human Rights Watch again, with some background on the jailed petitioners and suggested first steps for political reform (italics mine).
Bahrain does not permit political parties, but the government has tolerated limited political activities by several 'societies.' Four of these, including Al-Wifaq, which has a substantial following among the country’s majority Shi`a population, began the petition effort as part of a campaign to modify the constitution issued by royal decree in February 2002. Under the constitution, limited legislative authority is shared by an elected national assembly and an appointed consultative council of 40 members each.
A Gun-Totin' Gay Texas Conservative With Some Things On His Mind
Blogger Paul, at Right Side of the Rainbow, describes himself as a "right of center, gun-owning gay Texan." And he's not real enthused about protestors in London linking social justice for gays with Palestinian terrorism.
May 17, 2004
Pro Forma White Guilt
Enough paint-by-numbers stuff already about Brown vs. the Board of Ed, as discussed in this link. Thanks, Burton Terrace for the heads up about about more shameless pandering by John Kerry - ever seeking symbolic gravitas, and ever the lost, pompous fool.
One More Blow to America's Image
Yet another International Debacle. I'm not sure how we'll live this one down.
Clueless On Both Sides?
The Bush administration and its critics come in for a good, informed roasting on Iraq courtesy of novelist and contributing editor Mark Helprin in today's Wall Street Journal. Here's the piece, free of charge, via WSJ's Opinion Journal. I think he's dead on the money, and while I support Bush, knee-jerk loyalty does no one any favors. I'd like to know what you think after you read the whole thing. A few highlights:
When soldiers are killed because they do not have equipment (in the words of a returning officer, "not enough vehicles, not enough munitions, not enough medical supplies, not enough water"), when reservists are retained for years, and rotations canceled, it is the consequence of a fiscal policy that seems more attuned to the electoral landscape of 2004 than to the national security of the United States...Once the Army and Marines were rolling, their supply lines were left deliberately unprotected, and are vulnerable to this day.
And so? Spend more on homeland security, Helprin says; it's eminently justified. Overall, muster courage to price the whole shebang.
The military must be reconstituted so that it has a surplus of power without having to choose between transformation and tradition, quality and numbers, heavy and light: All are necessary. This is expensive, and would require more plain speaking and less condescending manipulation from those who govern, but would allow for the quick and overwhelming application of force, unambiguous staying power, coverage of multiple contingencies, and, most importantly, deterrence. It is always better to deter an enemy than, by showing weakness, to encourage him to take the field.
May 15, 2004
Dinosaur Bob Lumbers Out The Door
"What took NPR so long?" to get rid of old shoe "Morning Edition" host Bob Edwards, asks the operations director of a Washington, D.C. AM news-talk station.
I have to agree with Randall Blomquist's assessment in Opinion Journal. Journalists and fans gnashing their teeth over Edwards' ouster as host are in denial.
Mr. Edwards, for all his virtues and basso profundo voice, was a dinosaur, a majestic radio beast who lumbered mightily through his era and, alas, too far beyond it. ....Information-based morning shows typically succeed on the strength of their personalities, content and pacing. Mr. Edwards had a strong appeal, but he had become an old shoe--familiar, comfy and unlikely to bring in a lot of new customers. Need proof he had plateaued? His signature segment--the thing his fans still rave about--was his weekly visit with sportscaster Red Barber. Barber died in 1992.
Tell Us Another One
The secret to W.'s success, says Joshua Wolf Shenk in Mother Jones, is good storytelling - a talent liberals lack.
The right wing has an elemental and appealing narrative--the ideological equivalent of a Jerry Bruckheimer film or a Tom Clancy novel, the sort that’s hard to turn away from, even if you suspect you’re being suckered. Stories operate on our primitive, reptilian brains....
Bush as comic-book action hero. Kerry as............?
Take It From Her
Canadian nanny Mandy Lam killed a seventh-month-old, after throwing the baby at a chair, in frustration at the behavior of two other children she was also caring for. Lam has been sentenced to two years and community service - teaching new mothers or child care workers how to prevent child abuse.
Lam is fluent in Cantonese, not English. Just as well, perhaps.
'It's like closing the barn door after the horse is gone,' says Louise Otteson, supervisor at the Grant MacEwan Demonstration Child Care Centre, when asked to comment on the community service order. 'I don't understand the motive behind it. Are the child-care workers supposed to talk to her and educate her or is she supposed to be educating us which would be ludicrous. I find it mind-boggling. There must be a better way for her to perform community service.'
May 13, 2004
Jose You Can See
I like his title. A bit ambitious, while befitting a Nobel winner. Yet, Ramos-Horta's no starry-eyed idealist. He supports the Iraq war, and has backed a range of other armed interventions in despotic, dictatorial climes.
The consequences of doing nothing in the face of evil were demonstrated when the world did not stop the Rwandan genocide that killed almost a million people in 1994. Where were the peace protesters then? They were just as silent as they are today in the face of the barbaric behavior of religious fanatics.
Spot on, sir. And kudos to Greg not only for his post about this, but his lively, updated-daily blog, The Smoking Room. Keep at it, Pipesman.
Death by Photoshop
From Abu Ghraib, on flows the latest anti-U.S. feeding frenzy, replete with doctored photos in British and U.S. newspapers.
A British tabloid, The Daily Mirror, gets caught running bogus pics of Iraqi prisoner abuse. The Boston Globe runs a story it never should have, about a local politician and black activist who claimed they had photos showing rape of Iraqi women by U.S. military personnel.
The story itself, by reporter Donovan Slack, was appropriately skeptical about the authenticity of the pictures right from the get-go.
But in early editions of the Globe, there was a picture of City Councilor Chuck Turner and local black activist Sadiki Kambon displaying the photos, which were rendered large enough in the accompanying newspaper picture to clearly see the purported sex acts. In later editions, the picture was less blown up and the acts in the displayed photos much less clear.
Worldnetdaily.com, which claims to have uncovered the same doctored photos online last week, actually interviewed reporter Slack, who questioned whether The Globe should even have run the story (she was assigned to it, and had no choice). Today's WND story also notes:
Kambon, who is director of the Black Community Information Center, said at the news conference he received the photographs by e-mail from Akbar Muhammad, a representative for the Nation of Islam.
May 12, 2004
Shame, Challenge For The Arab World
The Arab world really blew it with the decapitating of American civilian Nick Berg in Iraq, says the Daily Star, a major English-language Middle East newspaper.
How quickly events in the Middle East overtake what was yesterday's headlines....the beheading of Berg has eclipsed the shame and failure of the US and its allies over the Abu Ghraib scandal....the region's kings, princes and presidents need to learn a valuable lesson from this abhorrent incident: that fractured societies produce real-life theaters of shame like the Berg murder in a systemic manner, and that similar fractures are infecting their own societies.
The U.S. faces its own grave challenges: dealing with Abu Ghraib fully; advancing real solutions to the Arab-Palestinian conflict; and developing a winning strategy leading to orderly self-rule in Iraq (a huge task, especially if lacking the political will to win).
But, as the Star editorial stresses (read the whole thing), the Berg execution was not only savage, but a huge tactical and public relations blunder by the other side.
UPDATE: Take a look at these three letters to the editor of the Washington Post.
May 11, 2004
Any Lemon Won't Do
We cannot respect each other if we do not respect our produce. Something happened today which concerned me. I was at a neighborhood produce stand I often frequent. I'll call it Marco's (not the real name).
As I was rounding up my Fuji apples, Yakima asparagus, Romaine lettuce, Vidalia onions, garlic, bananas, peaches, strawberries and mangos, a guy about 65 or so was looking over the lemons. So was I, because Chicken Vesuvio was on the menu (it turned out smashingly, by the way).
I could tell he was looking for some good ones, but didn't know how to tell. Sure enough, he shouted out, "Marco, how do I pick a good lemon, anyway?"
And then Marco said, "Close your eyes and pick one."
I puckered instinctively, having just seen that most there were quite unsuitable.
I'm no lemon nut, but my mother was - still is, actually.
She squeezes about one whole into each of her many cups of tea. Which may explain why, early on, our firstborn used to suck raw lemons until they were completely dry, with great, great relish. Freaky I know, but now at age 7.66 he only eats crackers, juice, yogurt, steak, tuna, baked oysters, shrimp, corn, grapes, apples, bananas and strawberries. (Actually, that's not so bad, is it?).
Well anyway. Every time Mom sent me to Pete's grocery store, on E. 55th Street, between Cornell Blvd. and Hyde Park Blvd. in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood, back in 1960-something, there were only a few things on her list.
Too often calf's liver, but that's another story (or perhaps not). If I was lucky, V-8, Triscuits and Fritos might be included (our family's version of decadent snack food). One thing was for sure: lemons, usually about a dozen. IF their condition warranted, and only if.
Mother's lemon specifications were very exacting, and as it turns out, utterly, completely correct. Thin skins, and some real give on the flesh when you squeeze. Thick-skinned, hard lemons were to be avoided at all costs.
SO, I shared this hard-won knowledge with the man at Marco's, who was quite receptive. I tried to be tactful, briefly explaining to Marco, who was listening in, that I had a bit of a history with lemons, although not really by choice.
Marco said nothing, but shortly afterward re-asserted control (he is known to do that). He called me over, and trimmed four ears of sweet white corn, insisting I take them home for just $1. Which I did happily. He's basically a good guy who runs a pretty good produce stand.
And I'm sure he really knows better about lemons.
Of Butchery, Beheading, and Backing Down
Quite a day. A few reminders of who and what we're dealing with.
Palestinians paraded through Gaza with what they claimed were body parts from some of the six Israeli soldiers killed in a bomb blast.
Al-Qaeda claims it's behind a videotaped beheading of an American civilian in Iraq.
Meanwhile, pesky Iraqi Shi'ite fundamentalist flame-thrower Muqtada al-Sadr, holed up in Najaf, begins to wonder if the jig is up. Writing from Chicago, at his blog "Iraqi-American," a plugged-in guy who calls himself "Baghdadi" has more:
It is the beginning of the end for Muqtada: I talked with people in Najef today and I heard that the locals in Najef gave Muqtada till Friday to leave the city or they will kill him themselves. I also heard that the coalitions got a petition from 150 Shia leaders to finish Muqtada before the dead lines. The more Muqtada and his people speak the more it is evident that they are thugs who worked for the old regime and they want their jobs back. Their jobs were terrorizing the people of Iraq, stealing from the local population, and making sure Iraq and the Iraqis do not move forward.
Europe: All Dressed Up For Its Own Funeral
Daniel Pipes wonders:
Europe has simultaneously reached unprecedented heights of prosperity and peacefulness and shown a unique inability to sustain itself...Is it inevitable that the most brilliantly successful society also will be the first in danger of collapse due to a lack of cultural confidence and offspring?
All but inevitable, says Pipes in today's New York Sun.
'Europe becomes more and more a province of Islam, a colony of Islam.' So declares Oriana Fallaci in her new book, La Forza della Ragione, or, "The Force of Reason." And the famed Italian journalist is right: Christianity's ancient stronghold of Europe is rapidly giving way to Islam.
Unless, says Pipes, there's a "resurgence of Christian faith, an increase in childbearing, or the cultural assimilation of immigrants,...Muslim modernization..(or) immigration from other sources," such as Latin America.
Pipes, of course, always sets the Thought Police howling. He raises uncomfortable yet vital questions most mainstream commentators painstakingly avoid. Nearly every week or two now, extremist Muslims tied to terrorist groups are arrested in Europe, either for blowing something up, or planning to. As the costs of policing against anti-Western hatred escalate, we still rush to ask, "What did we do to upset them?"
Even if most Western Muslims harbor no violent aims, they also do little overall to counter their brethren's contempt for a civilization which offers them the freedom to grow and prosper; or to hate and destroy.
Leftists love to trot out tired comparisons between Islamicists and home-grown European or U.S. terorrists (i.e. McVeigh, or Basque separatists). Absurd. No comparison in scale and implications. And if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were settled tomorrrow, not a thing would change.
Given current circumstances, much tighter immigration screening and a revisiting of quotas is a rational response in Europe, and the U.S. From what nations do the highest percentages of terrorists convicted for crimes against the West come? We know the answers, but political cowardice prevents a strong response.
Hat tip: Tom Rekdal
May 10, 2004
WaPo Exposes Another Bush-ite Plot
Citizen groups in Ohio, Arkansas and Oregon are collecting signatures for November voter initiatives on state constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage. In a number of other states, lawmakers are still debating parallel measures, which would also require voter approval. Lucky for us, The Washington Post is here to explain that it might well be a Bush-ite plot.
Critics, incuding some quoted in this WaPo story on the proposed Ohio measure, suspect a nefarious strategy to draw Bushies to the polls, and help swing the results his way. After all, they point out, many of the states already have laws in place against gay marriage. So who needs a constitutional amendment?
Except, as proponents of the amendments note, state laws can be challenged and overturned in court. David Langson, attorney for a Cincinnati group gathering signatures, tells The Post:
The reason we're pushing for a constitutional amendment is so we can take the issue out of the hands of a judiciary that we believe has gone completely haywire. . . . The reason I do what I do is to protect marriage.
At least this is a wedge issue based on solid predictions of the alternative scenario. Kerry's alarmist stuff on abortion rights carries no smack whatever, and more and more women know it.
And like it or not, plenty of Americans who (ATTENTION, GAY ACTIVISTS) are NOT homophobic bigots happen to oppose gay marriage. They have every right to oppose it as best they see fit, just as proponents do to advance it.
However, the balkanized and frankly desperate approach of gay marriage advocates is backfiring. For the most part, all they can find are little pockets of support, because opposition is relatively widespread outside The Soviet of Massachusetts.
I'm neutral on the subject, personally, and have highlighted a pro-gay marriage argument by the incomparable Banji Realness. However, procedurally, I believe that gay marriage should be decided by the states. I've written here before in favor of a vote on a federal constitutional ban, because it would have to meet stringent requirements to pass - approval by two-thirds of U.S. House and Senate members, and then three-quarters of the country's state legislatures.
A federal amendment might meet the second threshhold; the first is tougher. So, it probably won't happen at all. In which case, there should be little surprise, or outrage, that proposed state-by-state constitutional bans are bubbling up. After all, mere legislation isn't worth the paper it's written on anymore.
MLB Beaned By Wild Pitch
Major League Baseball bought a really hare-brained idea: a special promotion for the movie release "SpiderMan 2," with Spidey's image on the bases, pitcher's rubbers, and on-deck circles of big league stadiums the weekend of June 11-13.
Fans, including Washington Republican Congressman and U.S. Senate Candidate George Nethercutt, cried "Wild Pitch," so MLB backed down.
Wonderful, says Lakeland (FL) Ledger columnist Mike Cobb. But expect more, and worse. Cobb notes:
..sponsorships in sports..will...become more invasive...Teams rely on corporate sponsorships and signs at stadiums to pay the bills. They would go out of business without it....Teams play at Coors Field, Minute Maid Park, Tropicana Field and PETCO Park....Someday soon, we may see ads on chest protectors, helmets and bats. We'll probably see them on the uniforms, too.
Still, this spoof might be a bit far-fetched. At least for now.
John Kerry: At War With Himself
In case, perchance, you labored under the impression John Kerry wasn't an utterly duplicitous, self-abnegating fraud, Mark Steyn is here to set you straight - with Kerry's own words.
Hat tip to Lorna.
May 09, 2004
UN Workers Investigated For Sexual Abuse of Refugees In Congo
Refugee women and children are especially vulnerable to forced exchanges by relief workers of food, goods or money for sex.
The United Nations last week quietly announced its beginning of an official probe into allegations of sexual abuse against refugees (including minors) by UN mission personnel in the un-aptly named Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire).
The U.N. has been generally aware of such problems since at least last October, as this report issued by the UN News Centre shows.
"Under-Secretary-General Jean-Marie Guéhenno of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) told the Security Council in an open meeting on women and peace and security...."
Grave allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation of refugees and internally displaced women by some humanitarian and peacekeeping forces strengthened DPKO’s resolve to uphold a “zero-tolerance” stance on the problem, which not only violates human rights but undermines the very core of peacekeeping...
Perhaps you noticed the remarks in this link by an official specifically from the UN mission to Congo, talking about the need for more women in relief worker positions.
I'll say it again. Seems pretty damn clear the UN knew they had a problem there no later than last October. So why wait seven months to begin an investigation? And where's the U.S. media on this one? Asleep at the switch.
The investigation of the UN workers is dwarfed and yet magnified by the lay of the land. As Adam Hochschild writes for Amnesty USA, Congo is where you'll find:
...mass rapes by HIV-infected troops, arms hacked off with machetes, schools and hospitals ravaged, killers jubilantly draping themselves in the entrails of their victims, 10-year-old soldiers bearing AK-47s and hand grenades.
Gold, diamonds and timber have drawn in other African nations on both sides of the conflict. In "Breaking the Real Axis of Evil," Freedom House Vice-Chairman Mark Palmer writes, "Some investigative journalism has asserted that there are strong links between Congo's resources and international terrorist organizations, such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and al-Qaeda (Douglas Farah, "Digging Up Congo's Dirty Gems," Washington Post, Dec. 30, 2001). The democratic world, including the United States, needs to provide the necessary resources to fill this vacuum with UN forces (an expanded mandate...) to buttress the fragile peace process and to protect mines and forests that have provided plunder to the militias..."
France, UN To The Rescue In Ivory Coast
More than a year-and-a-half after a failed coup attempt led to civil war in the Ivory Coast, a French-brokered coalition government has splintered, and French peace-keeping forces are badly faltering. Their former colony, the world's largest producer of cocoa, is still a bloody mess. Meanwhile the United Nations has fallen far short of providing the promised 6,000 troops to relieve the French. Oh, and the government has killed 120 members of the opposition (representing the Muslim north) for planning a rally.
The UN last week issued a report detailing the execution of the 120 in March , by government security forces and allied militias.
More on the roots and repercussions of the conflict in this BBC backgrounder.
May 08, 2004
A Clinton-esque Moment For Bush?
I guess you could call it that. Difference being it wasn't calculated.
Read the story and look at the picture of W. intimately and spontaneously comforting an Ohio teen who lost her mom on 9/11.
Kinda leaves you with the impression that the guy is actually for real. There's none of Pappy's lame "Message, I Care," verbage here.
As editors tell novelists: "Show; don't tell."
George showed what he's about in this moment.
Now if he would just turn loose the horsepower AND strategists to take care of business in Iraq. No, I don't believe it's not winnable.
Hat tip to Gary B.
May 07, 2004
Workers of the World Unite!
An "eco-friendly and liberal" Berkeley grocer is charged with unfair labor practices. Wouldn't shock me if it turns out to be true. Let's see how it shakes out.
UN Report Decries Arab Muslim 'Reign of Terror' Against Sudanese Black Civilians
Better late than never. The United Nations is finally facing up to widespread, ongoing crimes against humanity in Sudan. The U.N. seems to think negotiations, commissions of inquiry and reparations can make things all right. Those steps are necessary, but an, ahem, multilateral armed intervention may well be required first.
A U.N. report issued today details and decries "disturbing patterns of massive human rights violations" against black African civilians in Sudan's Darfur region by the Arab Muslim "Government of Sudan and its proxy militia, many of which may constitute war crimes and/or crimes against humanity. According to information collected, it is clear that there is a reign of terror in Darfur."
An estimated one million Sudanese blacks have been internally displaced; they are referred to as IDPs in the paragraphs that follow. Others have been forced to flee across the border to Chad. The murders, rapes, lootings, and destruction of property have not yet been fully catalogued in this latest, sorry chapter of a 20-year Arab Muslim reign of terror against blacks in Sudan. The proxy militia of Arab mercenaries, or Janjaweed, are in the employ of the Arab Muslim regime, in Khartoum. Doubtless, peace-loving Arabs and Muslims join the growing chorus worldwide sickened by these atrocities.
Here are some key excerpts from the U.N. report.
"Numerous...refugees interviewed in Chad and who came from areas in North Darfur close to the Sudan-Chad border, described a pattern of attacks beginning with air bombardments using an Antonov military plane. They said that bombs were sometimes dropped on crowded areas such as markets or communal wells; homes, shops, and fields were also destroyed. Some refugees alleged that they were the object of such aerial attacks, sometimes by helicopter gunships, even as they were fleeing. These attacks terrorised the population. In every instance recounted to the mission, there was no warning that an attack was coming.
Refugees in Chad reported that invariably bombardments were followed by ground assaults by the military, the Janjaweed, or by combinations of the two. The Janjaweed were uniformed in khaki and those interviewed could not distinguish them from the regular armed forces except by the fact that they often travelled on horses or camels, with the military using mechanised transport. In the eyes of many refugees, there appeared to be little or no difference between the regular army and the Janjaweed.
Refugees said that these forces indiscriminately attacked those who had not fled, such as the elderly and disabled. The testimony also suggests that men and boys were particular targets. Several individuals interviewed reported that their spouses, children and/or members of their extended families were killed by the Janjaweed. In some instances the Janjaweed returned to villages several days later and carried out additional attacks on those remaining.
...While it was difficult for the mission to ascertain whether there were armed rebels in the vicinity of those areas which were attacked, a considerable majority of those who were attacked were civilians: women, children, and the elderly. It is also clear that the armed forces and their proxy militias punished certain populations collectively for belonging to the same ethnic group as the rebels, and inflicted terror amongst them.
Many refugees and IDPs reported that they had fled without being able to bury their dead. It is unclear how many dead there are and how these corpses, in many instances, have been dealt with.
...There are consistent reports among refugee and IDP women from various locations that “men in uniform” raped and abused women and young girls. Most allegations were against the Janjaweed...Rape and other forms of sexual abuse by the Janjaweed was widely alleged to be continuing inside and around IDP sites. Women often reported that they would be kidnapped and raped if they went any further than one and a half kilometres away from their camp to collect wood or to tend their vegetable gardens in their home village. Rape represents a policy that is employed to intimidate and humiliate the IDP population and to prevent them from leaving the vicinity of the IDP sites.
..Destruction of private homes, huts, crops and agricultural areas, wells, shops and entire civilian locations appears to have systematically taken place without military justification. Food stuffs and livestock appear to have been systematically looted or destroyed. Almost every person interviewed by the mission reported the pillage and looting of his or her private property. Many reported that they saw their homes being torched. Many have lost their entire life possessions.
...The mission visited a number of villages in Darfur that had been burned. Those living in these villages had fled. In two locations, however, the mission was able to find a few individuals who had stayed on; they were either too elderly to leave or, in one case, were compelled to return to their village to irrigate those crops which constituted their families’ only means of sustenance. Those interviewed told a consistent story of attacks by a large number of uniformed men on horses or camels, who killed, destroyed, and looted. It will be almost impossible for people to return to these locations until security and protection are fully established and effective programmes of compensation, rehabilitation and reconstruction are put in place.
...The inevitable consequence of the killings, rape, burning and looting of villages has been massive displacement, within Sudan and across the border to Chad. These policies appear to be directly aimed at preventing the villagers from returning to their homes or being in a position to provide any support to the rebels.
...These policies have resulted in a dire human rights and humanitarian crisis. Humanitarian agencies report that there are currently some one million internally displaced persons in Darfur. Humanitarian assistance to these IDPs has been severely restricted.
The Government of Sudan should, at the highest levels, publicly and unequivocally condemn all actions and crimes committed by the Janjaweed and ensure that all militias are immediately disarmed and disbanded. Violations of human rights and international humanitarian law must be thoroughly and swiftly investigated and perpetrators must be brought to justice.
Humanitarian workers must be given full and unimpeded access to Darfur...The Government of Sudan should pursue a policy of national reconciliation for Darfur, end impunity and promote the rule of law based on non-discrimination, the effective protection of minorities and indigenous populations, as well as the participation of all in public life and the active promotion of development programmes for Darfur.
...Refugees and displaced persons should have the possibility of voluntarily returning home without fear for their lives and personal security. They should be able to reacquire their lands. Restitution, or fair compensation and reparations should be extended to all victims of the conflict in Darfur with particular attention paid to the situation of women victims of gender-based violence, to children, the elderly and the disabled. The Government of Sudan should implement an appropriate programme for the reintegration and return of the population to Darfur.
...The Government of Sudan should put in place measures to ensure that such human rights abuses, war crimes and crimes against humanity, are not repeated in the future and that the rule of law is restored in Darfur in conformity with internationally agreed standards.
...An international Commission of inquiry is required given the gravity of the allegations of human rights violations in Darfur, and the failure of the national legal system to address the problem. To be credible, such a Commission must be, and must be seen to be, independent. The Government of Sudan should cooperate with this Commission."
AND IF THEY DON'T?
The Governor Invited Blackmail
If you had an affair with a 14-year-old girl while mayor of a major city, would you later run for Governor, hoping no one would find out?
For Neil Goldschmidt, former Mayor of Portland, former Governor of Oregon, former U.S. Transportation Secretary under President Jimmy Carter, former Nike exec, and current Oregon power broker, the answer was yes.
Goldschmidt's legacy is badly stained not because anyone is all that shocked by a politician who can't keep it in his pants; but because he compromised his office and constituents by making himself susceptible to blackmail. Whether or not that ever happened (and who really knows) isn't the point.
The Oregonian story linked to immediately below notes, rumors "about the relationship" were floating about when Goldschmidt successfully ran for governor in 1986. It lasted from 1975 to 1976. After he took office in 1986, the woman was speaking about it in public, Goldschmidt says now. So he met with her, and continued to talk to her on the phone, or meet with her when others were present.
No one spilled the beans. There was a quiet legal settlement in 1994; Goldschmidt established a conservatorship for the woman.
I wonder: when he was running for Governor, and after he was elected, what did Goldschmidt's political and media advisors ask? How much did Goldschmidt tell them?
Power is the greatest aphrodisiac, Henry Kissinger said. Goldschmidt's reprehensible violation of public trust was part of a larger pattern of adultery, according to The Oregonian and the man himself.
Throughout his political career, rumors of extramarital affairs circulated around him. Goldschmidt tacitly acknowledged Thursday that the rumors had merit.
There are repercussions for public policy right now.
His sudden withdrawal from public life, just months after being named president of the state Board of Higher Education, throws a planned overhaul of the state's university system into disarray. He has resigned from the board and taken a leave of absence from his consulting firm, Goldschmidt Imeson Carter.
Here's his statement on the affair with the underage girl, as published in yesterday's Oregonian, with links to related news stories.
Portland blogger Jack Bogdanski has a post; check out the comments.
May 06, 2004
Stick A Fork Into Cold, Shifty Kerry?
John Kerry is looking more and more like a candidate who's D.O.A., argues Reason magazine's Editor in Chief Nick Gillespie in this piece.
Damn good writing, and link-rich. Read it, link through to all of Gillespie's finds, and lemme know watcha think.
One contrary theory out there: Kerry's "moulting season" has just begun. He's laying low, figuring out how to present himself to voters, and will come on strong, post-convention.
Entirely possible. And Ds had better hope so.
If current news doesn't sink Bush, nothing will.
Courtesy Real Clear Politics.
Scandal In Bahrain Ignored By World
This is potentially worse than Abu Ghraib, in that life imprisonments on utterly bogus charges may result for more than a dozen people.
But recent developments in Bahrain have received almost zero press, because the U.S. or Israel didn't do it. Fourteen activists petitioning on behalf of so called "election boycotting societies" for democratic reforms in the "constitutional monarchy" of Bahrain face life in prison if convicted on charges of "calling for change to the political system, provoking hatred and trying to destabilize public security." (Scroll down to second item in link).
Their sin: first, they are Shi'ite Muslims, and the ruling family is Sunni. Second, they had the nerve to advocate constitutional amendments putting the parliament's elected assembly on equal footing with one appointed by King Hamad.
Bahrain is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th fleet, professes alliance with the U.S. in the war on terror, and touts itself as a tourist-friendly exemplar of emerging democracy in the Middle East.
The pro-reform Bahrainis are being held without bail. The BBC now says 19 are in custody; a London-based advocacy group called Voice of Bahrain says the number is actually 26; that excessive force was used; petitions and tents thrown away; and prisoners abused. These reports are not verifiable. (The VOB report has a Manama dateline of May 1, but says the arrests occured Friday May 30; I think they mean Friday April 30).
Reportedly, authorities say the activists should have pressed their case first in the courts. Yet the arrests and charges still seem awfully draconian.
Bahraini blogger Mahmood has more, including these choice words:
The government sees that the actions of the boycotters are challenging their very existence so they do their best (or worst) to head them off and put whatever is in its bag of (legal) tricks to get them to fall.
Mahmood suggests a way out, however. Read his whole post, and the comments beneath it.
UPDATE: If the pro-reform activists are vile anti-fem scum, as one commeter below suggests, this post from another Bahraini blogger, fails to elucidate that contention. However, it IS very much worth a look.
There's something going on here. I, for one, would be grateful if the "establishment" media could see fit to delve deeper into what's already been reported.
We'll keep ya posted, of course.
UPDATE II: Today's Gulf Daily News describes protests on behalf of the pro-reform prisoners. The picture of protestors includes several Islamic women in chadoors. The story also reiterates Mahmood's post that there are four organizations involved in petitioning for democratic reforms. There is no mention they were seeking to rescind voting rights for women, as one of our commenters below asserts. Our second link from the top here says they want the country's elected assembly on more equal footing with the King's.
I would still like to see documentation that their petitions specified stripping women of voting rights. If this is true, why would the authorities not provide such evidence to the lap-dog press, in order to really discredit the petitoners?
How About A Rockery?
I always knew it wasn't just the noise that bugged me. Los Angeles wants residents to get rid of gas-powered lawnmowers, which can yield 43 times as much pollution as a new car. Good idea. The NY Times reports:
The South Coast Air Quality Management District, which sets emission rules for the Los Angeles basin, announced a program on Tuesday to take 4,000 soot-belching gasoline mowers off Los Angeles lawns.
Watch the Arnold guy. He'll get that done, too.
May 05, 2004
Evil and What To Do About It
All's not fair in love and war, even when trying to "break" detainees. Ruben Navarrette offers a good baseline for what must be done about the torture and humiliation of Iraqi war prisoners by U.S. military and security contractors: don't scapegoat underlings in the reserves because high-ranking military intelligence officers may well bear ultimate responsibility.
Some sick sh** went down.
Sgt. Stryker has more . Disbanding the 372d Military Police Company is worth discussing, but destroying the Abu Ghraib facility would send an even stronger message to the Arab world.
That said, it's an infintesimal percentage of U.S. miltary and contractor personnel who've been fingered for the disgusting abuses of Iraqi prisoners that've been reported.
I say - and this is hardly original, but it is heartfelt - Bush's people must not only investigate, and dispense harsh and deserved consequences. They must take steps to ensure this kind of stuff never happens again. And take pains that no other recent or future reports of any remotely similar abuses are surpressed from public purview, even for a few hours.
At the same time, a splash of cold water is necessary for the media and Big "D" Democrats, foaming over Abu Ghraib.
Let's do ALL the math.
How many prisoners have been taken into custody overall in Iraq? And then, how many reportedly abused?
How many U.S. soldiers and contractor personnel have handled prisoners; versus how many have been fingered for even suspected abuse?
Same questions at Gitmo.
Now: how many were tortured and killed by Saddam? By Mao; Stalin; Pol Pot; Idi Amin and Robert Mugabe? Just for starters, that is.
And does anyone want to talk about Sudan?
By all means, let's give all the Abu Ghraib hoodlums their due. But let's look at the big picture while we're at it. Or is this most of all an exercise in vilifying the Bush administration?
May 04, 2004
T-Bone Medium Rare and a Maker's Mark, Neat
The Guardian reports on bad vibes at the campus of Maharishi University in Fairfield, Iowa, where followers of the former guru to The Beatles learn "yogic flying" to engender world peace.
At 7pm Shuvender Sem, a 24-year-old from Pennsylvania, sat down in the university dining hall with fellow students to eat his organic vegetarian dinner. Suddenly Sem stood up, took a knife from his pocket and plunged it into the heart of 19-year-old Levi Butler.
Sem is charged with first-degree murder. But it turns out that - using a pen - he'd stabbed another student in the face the same day, in a "Teaching For Enlightenment" class. Seven stiches were required. He was sent to a dean's apartment to chill, where he got the knife he used to kill Butler. The college did not report the first attack, according to The Guardian and school officials. If they had, the killing might have not occured.
Quick to offer a strong defense, The Maharishi pins blame for the murder on "society" and George W. Bush.
The Maharishi himself is reported to have blamed the violence on US foreign policy. Dr. Craig Pearson, executive vice-president of Maharishi University, said: 'Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has made one comment regarding this event. He said that this is an aspect of the violence we see throughout society, including the violence that our country is perpetrating in other countries.'
May 03, 2004
What A Dump
National Forest Service lands near Pecos, New Mexico are being treated disgracefully, reports the Sante Fe New Mexican.
Rotting animal carcasses, hypodermic needles, dirty diapers, used condoms and rusting car skeletons are not things usually associated with nature, but all of these items can be found while taking a walk on National Forest Service land in the Pecos area.
It's not all bad news. Clean-up efforts in the area are on the rise, along with use of the county transfer station, which requires a small fee. Though readers say it's not just the NFS lands near Pecos getting trashed, but the town, too (see comments after story).
When visiting places such as the Lopez Island or Moclips in Washington State, or the town of Mt. Shasta in California, city slickers like me are reminded that door-to-door trash pick-up doesn't pencil out with lower population densities. People have to haul it themselves.
In the sticks, you pay one way or the other for your garbage: with time, plus either a fee or special tax assessment. Or like some in Pecos and elsewhere (including the "green" Northwest) you can dump on the fly; which costs everybody more in the end.
I give local Greenies a big hat tip for helping spread Clean Community standards in bucolic settings - where it can so easily go the other way, thanks to heedless individualists. Ya gotta love the legendary town dump on Lopez, where cast-off items of all sorts find new owners instead of space in a landfill or meadow.
University of Michigan students are pawns of the consumerist society many of them doubtless protest. The Ann Arbor News reports on the staggering amount of, uh, stuff, they leave behind in their dorm rooms at the end of the school year.
Each year, U-M collects roughly 10,000 pounds of clothing, 2,100 pounds of shoes and 1,700 pounds of bedding and blankets left behind by students moving out of campus residence halls.
Wonder how much of this detritus is made outside the U.S.? And how much ends up in landfills? Would it be so hard for dorm-dwellers to donate their left-behind clothes, shoes, sheets and blankets to charity?
May 02, 2004
Fear No Chicken
I'm sorry I suppose, but I still remember chortling inside when a dear friend cooked me a perfectly nice dinner of pasta and red sauce, salad and garlic bread - and consulted a cookbook every step of the way.
Perhaps that's because I began my forced culinary education at the age of 11, in Chicago. It was the same summer I almost died in a poorly-attended oxygen tent while hospitalized with pneumonia - and later in two huge gulps read "Ball Four," Jim Bouton's hysterical baseball-insider tell-all (mostly set in Seattle, by the way).
I learned to cook early because my Dad's repertoire was limited to a few specialties: salmon patties, meatloaf, and some faux-colonial mish-mash called "Colonel Rosenberg's Curry" (green peppers, onions and sliced hot dogs fried in oil with curry powder). It tasted better than it sounds. There was also "salad:" lotsa Iceberg with about a half-jar of Hellman's.
Dad has changed his diet for the better, and eats out all the time now. No wonder there's still a 34-year-old, properly sealed Ball Jar of dill pickles in his kitchen cupboard, that I made in junior-high home economics class. The dill leaves are still green, and never fail to undulate most attractively. The mustard seeds are still that nice pale yellow. I wonder if the pickles, in fact, might yet taste really great, like a finely aged wine. But I don't want to chance it.
Every time I go back to the old homestead, I'm nonetheless drawn to the cupboard to check on the pickle jar, which to me signifies the order of the universe. I think I'll eventually donate it to the Museum of Science and Industry, in Chicago, where I worked as guide-lecturer summers during high-school.
Anyway, I started with Hamburger Helper. Years passed, and I kept cooking. Intuitively, after a while. Occasional failures still, but I've been pretty good for a while now.
Cooking seems to me a fundamental part of life. Here I bow in respect to the French, Italians, Spanish, Mexicans, Brazilians, Cubans, Chinese and Indian peoples - plus many other ethnic groups.
They understand what fewer and fewer Americans do: that the family table is as sacred a place as church, synogogue, or mosque. And that garlic is an essential life force.
So this weekend, reading the delightful, meaty biography of French master chef Jacques Pepin, "The Apprentice," I found myself inspired all over again. As a young chef in training, he worked in a restaurant kitchen with a huge old wood-fired stove. No marked temperature settings, no recipes. All was by touch, feel, and tradition.
I've always said, "feel your meat." As Pepin notes, the thumb method is unsurpassed. Reading his ode to the perfect roasted chicken and sauce, I deployed my Weber grill in a special way, instead of the oven. It turned out nicely.
What follows is not a recipe per say, but try it out sometime.
Get your Weber going. No gas grills allowed, or lighter fluid. Use one of those special metal cylindrical devices with a big handle, and newspaper scrunched into the bottom compartment to light the charcoal briquettes above.
Get a nice free range chicken, rinse, dry, and spinkle generously all over with salt, fine black pepper and Herbes de Provence. Stuff with about six peeled garlic cloves and two sweet onion quarters. Toothpick the cavity closed, tuck the wings under. Place the chicken in a rectangular, disposable heavy-duty foil baking "dish" (two for $1.99 at the grocery store) that's just big enough - wiping the dish first with an olive oil-moistened paper towel.
ROASTING THE BIRD: When the coals are ready, spread them around the perimeter of grill's bottom platform in a circle, and then put the next layer in (the one upon which the meat usually goes). Place a thin, rectangular triple-fold of foil down for a bit of insulation, then the foil baking dish right on top, with the chicken's breast side up. Cover the grill, making sure to rotate that little wheel on the cover so the smoke comes out. This is called the "indirect" method of grilling on the Weber: it simulates an oven, but imparts a subtle, smoky flavor. A very nice way to go.
Cook for an hour-plus, checking occasionally by pressing. The top will be nicely golden even before you're done, so listen to your thumb.
ZE SAUCE: Lay out a small, wire colander. Make a quick and dirty chicken stock: saute the chicken liver and neck that were packed in the chicken's cavity in some olive oil with salt, pepper, onion stems and skins, plus Bay Leaf - in a small saucepan. Add water to cover and simmer about 20 mins. Melt a few T unsalted butter in a pan, turn off. When chicken is fully cooked on Weber remove to 205-degree oven in kitchen, but first strain pan juices into melted butter. Raise to medium simmer, then add 2 T flour, whisk often for several minutes until the roux is light gold in color. Then add strained stock, a few T white wine. Heat to medium-high, then immediately lower to a light simmer and reduce to medium thin consistency. Add more stock if necessary (from your pot, a can or carton). In last 3 mins., add fresh green herb such as lemon thyme, thyme, tarragon.
TO SERVE: Remove chicken. The outer flesh will have a nice, slight pink tinge. That's a sign of smokiness, not undercooking, assuming you've done things right. Cut into quarters or eighths with cleaver. Serve on platter with the roasted onions and garlic; sauce in gravy boat on side. Baguette and Ceasar salad, too.
THIS is living.
Invasion of the Bobos
Hard times for Santa Cruz surf bums, says author Fred Reiss in his new book, "Surf.com." Clueless, monied newbies lack proper surf etiquette. And, says Reiss, the whole town is being overrun by:
the yoga-and-body-movement-summer-Shakespeare-arts-and-craft-and-wine-festival-jazz-and-blues-concert-art-gallery-author-poetry-book- reading-university-seminar-lecture-series-performance-artist-National-Public-radio listening-candle-vigil-tribal-elder-MSG-free crowd.
Liberals all, these humorless culture vultures.
It's All About Public Health
Good to know that in Vancouver's government-sponsored heroin shooting gallery (oops, "safe injection site"), there's no smoking allowed.
(Scroll to 2nd news item).
The International Zionist Plot Silences a Saudi Blogger
More militants on the rampage in Saudi Arabia, and what does Prince Crown Prince Abdullah say? Zionism made 'em do it.
The Saudi Press Agency on Sunday quoted Crown Prince Abdullah as telling a gathering of princes in Jidda that 'Zionism is behind terrorist actions in the kingdom.' Zionism had misled 'some of our sons,' he said without elaborating.
Could be he's been reading Egyptian newspapers. Nah, the Saudi royals and sheiks are in charge of the black helicopter squadron, aren't they?
Meanwhile Saudi blogger Religious Policeman says after the latest shoot-em-up, there's a lot of "unusual activity" (i.e. government surveillance) and he's laying low for a while. Let's hope this brave Saudi citizen is blogging again soon. In the meantime, check out some of the 66 comments on his last post; and the other post in our link, on the harsh plight of Saudi women.
Failing Radio Talk Show Hosts, and the People Who Enable Them
Al Franken is thinking of running for the U.S. Senate, from Minnesota. YOU supply the punchline.
May 01, 2004
Thanks to All/Saturday Blog Round-Up
This morning Rosenblog reached a modest milestone, but one I'm proud of, and which could not have occured without you, dear participants. (I use that word intentionally, as opposed to "readers").
We passed 400 comments (at 402 now as I write). Given that I started this blog in late January, it's been operating essentially for three months. So I guess that comes out to about 133 comments per month. Not earth-shaking by any means. Many uber-bloggers and others get that many in a day or two, or a week. Some single posts on certain blogs get more.
But it's a start. As you can tell, comments are part of what keeps me going here, so keep 'em coming, and never fear to disagree.
I'd also like to salute all the Seattle bloggers, and others around the country (and even world) who have linked to, and/or cited Rosenblog items. One of my hopes is to see the Puget Sound, Washington and Northwest blogging communities continue to grow and prosper.
SATURDAY BLOG ROUND-UP
Young Seattle blogger Greg Piper is a thoughtful, interesting writer, and pretty damn funny sometimes, too. Here's a neat item about our cultural obsession with thinness. Cool hed, Greg, even if it took me a minute to get it.
Stefan Sharkansky has an excellent post about the Italian peace march demanded by hostage takers.
Via stellar education blogger Joanne Jacobs comes this great essay from the blog of the U.K.-based Adam Smith Institute. Dr. Madsen Pirie demolishes the argument (also common here in Seattle) that the that parents of bright students should put them in schools with low-performing students, to engineer higher performance by the laggards. (It doesn't work). This type of thinking examplifies what we call "diversity" here in Seattle, but because intellectual diversity is discouraged, it's difficult to discuss.
Dadblogger links to a Foreign Affairs piece on "how terrorists might undertake a nuclear attack." (It's the second item down, see the other links, too).
Check out Slant Point, a blog by a hip NYC conservative named Scott. Lots of interesting posts, and a blogroll well worth exploring. Also, Suburban Blight, a classy, funky blog from Kelley in Atlanta.
Green Girl (at What Kind of Sick Weirdo Are You?) reports on the eventual debunking of a story about women organizing to give U.S. soldiers a real send-off.
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