July 30, 2004
Bigger GOP Paid Media Push Urged Toward Blacks
President Bush sounded all the right themes in a recent speech to The Urban League, but if the GOP is serious about winning more support from black voters, a strong ad presence on major market black "urban contemporary" radio stations is crucial, writes Jason Riley in Opinion Journal today.
Following the 2002 midterm elections, Richard Nadler, a Republican consultant, headed an exhaustive study of what's behind the black voter's fierce fealty to Democrats. "The Democrats coordinate a brilliant, intensive media campaign, particularly on black radio," says Mr. Nadler.
Riley says the ads are often brutal, and the GOP errs in not defining itself to the same listeners.
....Democratic operatives saturate this minority media with a campaign of negativity and misinformation that would make Michael Moore blush.
Sounds to me like Nadler belongs in a room with top Bush campaign honchos, soon.
Viva La Revolucion
We have arrived at an historic juncture in the racial-political-economic geography of the United States – and a critical moment in the African American saga. A convergence of circumstances has provided Blacks and their progressive allies a window of opportunity to seize the political initiative from the ruthless and profoundly racist dictatorship of corporate boardrooms.
The authors then outline their detailed plan, in the linked-above article. Fellow travellers won't want to miss any of it, I'm sure.
Drawing on the wisdom of 60s organizers at the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, the authors finally conclude:
The SNCC-led “Freedom Summer” of 1964 is a useful reference point, as we compare the relative difficulties that we face in creating a new movement – after three-plus decades of no movement at all. A pretty good website describes the launching of Freedom Summer, this way:
The world waits with bated breath. I'll have some of what y'all are smokin,' too.
Dude, It's A Way-Cool Degree Program
Southwest Wales is proud to have the second-best surfing beaches in the UK (quite a claim), and tourism is an integral part of the economy. Employers reportedly say they want qualified people to lead surfing expeditions for tourists. So Swansea Institute is offering a B.A. program in "Surf and Beach Management in the School of Leisure, Tourism and Sport."
However, some academics "praise wacky degrees."
I'd like to join the snorting-in-outrage chorus here, but I can't quite work up to it. Better my Welsh surf tour leader has appropriate, accredited training and credentials to help me surf smart and safe, rather than an iffy, unofficial background. And better he's got a steady paycheck than perhaps being a surf bum. The Welsh coast must be commercially exploited somehow. This seems one fairly sane way to go about it.
July 29, 2004
"Massive Raid" On Terrorist Safe House
It wasn't "the international community" or even the U.S. that pulled off this remarkable feat, though reporters and editors haven't cared much one way or the other.
A ground-breaking Iraqi police raid of a Baghdad terrorist safe house on July 27 - after police "received information" - is, sadly, barely news at all. It does garner a graf under several "other developments," in the distant reaches of a CNN story about the release of an Egyptian diplomat kidnapped in Iraq. That's about it (lemme know if you spot any other coverage).
Granted this bit of fatal cheer has to come first. But, still....
Capt. Steven Alvarez of the U.S.'s Office of Security Transition verified for me today via phone from Baghdad that the following e-mailed news release went out to a long list of U.S. and international media outlets. Too bad so few cared.
BAGHDAD, Iraq – The Iraqi Police Service’s Major Crimes Unit successfully conducted a massive raid on a sophisticated terrorist safe house cell July 27.....The shakedown snared a staggering haul of 21 antitank mines, 25 60mm mortars, 105 rocket propelled grenades, 150 82mm mortars and two enemy vehicles including one wired with heavy explosives. The other was positively identified as a vehicle used in a mortar attack a little more than two weeks ago.
Herd journalism ensures that not only do terrorist car bombings, beheadings, kidnappings and body counts in Iraq get immediate front page headlines and woe-to-the-U.S. spin, but that important events in the gradual dismantling of the Iraqi terrorist network can easily go unheralded.
At least one big U.S. daily has quite recently shown interest in such stories. See this July 23 L.A. Times piece (free reg. req.) on growing trust of the Iraqi Police Service in Baghdad, and several smaller busts they've made after getting tips from locals.
The gradual rallying of the Iraqi people to their own police is one part of a huge, ongoing, and under-reported story. The body-count obsession of media obscures that the societal shifts already underway are paramount.
July 28, 2004
Seattle Loses A Voice of Reason
These days, you could count the number of non-PC, truly public figures in Seattle on one mutilated hand; and the subset who happened to be black on - probably - one finger.
And now, tragically, that voice in the wilderness is gone.
An expert marksman on the firing range, and vocal opponent of knee-jerk, almost-always-bogus racism accusations against Seattle cops, Seattle Police Officers Guild President Ken Saucier died in a one-vehicle accident this past weekend.
He was returning from a national target shooting competition. Authorities report Saucier, 40, the married father of three daughters, grew drowsy at the wheel around 3:40 a.m. while heading home through Idaho. He veered off the road and over-corrected. The vehicle rolled, and he was killed, while a close friend riding with him survived.
What's usually a predictable liberal rag called The Seattle Weekly has this worthy tribute to Saucier by writer Philip Dawdy. A few excerpts:
He’d been on the streets himself, in the South and North precincts since 1986, breaking up rock houses in the South End and patrolling University Avenue on third watch, a beat he told me he loved. He’d been a SWAT member, a firearms trainer, and then, after mouthing off regularly about how cops were getting screwed, ran for and became president of the union—the first African American ever in that position. He was re-elected last December.
In our timid, stereotypically liberal Left Coast burg, where police are automatically assumed to be racist almost whenever a minority is shot or seriously injured by police while commiting a crime, Saucier was a strong and important voice for law enforcement.
Saucier was controversial. It's easy enough to dig up Web-archived news articles with his tough, and sometimes inflammatory pronunciamentos on police oversight, racism allegations, or contract negotiations.
Yet Saucier reminded many people, myself included, that police are our friends, and all too often, are badly and unjustly under-valued.
With Saucier's untimely passing, it's also worth remembering that nearly all members of Seattle's minority communities, like most whites, want criminals caught; justice dispensed; and streets made safer. Except gang-bangers.
Rest In Peace, Ken. You'll not be forgotten.
Live By Photo Op, Die By PhotoShop
After John Kerry's Dukakis moment, pictured in a silly-looking head-to-toe clean suit and crawling forward like a bunny while touring NASA's space shuttle Discovery, his campaign is prolonging the agony. From the WaPo:
Kerry spokesman Phil Singer said Kerry was required to wear the suit. "Given the challenges facing our nation today, you'd think these papers could find something better to write about," he said.
Phil: Given the challenges facing our nation today, you'd think Kerry would find something better to do. Methinks you missed a "no comment" moment.
Kerry's handlers just love photo ops, but only want the good ones. It don't work that way. My inner dime-store psychologist says Kerry's trying to convey a strong identity with all the pix because his words just confuse the issue. W., on the other hand, has no such problems.
Kerry on his $8,000 bicycle. Kerry playing hockey. Kerry fingering a tough chord on a guitar, but looking really stiff. (JFK: see Duane Allman for appropriate guitar-playing demeanor). You've got to lay back into the groove.
Just stick to the half-hearted clenched-fist shots for the rest of the campaign, Mr. Kerry, and MAYBE you'll stay in the game. So long as nobody makes much of this pic: you shaking hands with Daniel Ortega.
July 27, 2004
Hail The Conservative Brotherhood
At the age of 12, in 1970, I found my very white self living in a neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago called South Shore. Though then considered home to the black aristocracy of Chicago, the class spectrum was fully covered. If not the race spectrum. Walking to and from Bryn Mawr Bowl along East 71st Street, and exploring the neighborhood on my bicycle, I came to feel somewhat apart from my surroundings.
I discovered that black people could express immediately racist sentiments toward me without our having exchanged a word first.
There was the black proprietor of fast-food joint who studiously ignored me for 10 minutes, refusing to take my order, though no one else was in the place and he clearly had nothing to do. Another time, a black kid my age saw me ride past his house (a pretty nice one, I recall) and launched into a shouted, profanity-laced racist diatribe.
A bit more nuanced, was the occasion, back across the "border" in the then-whiter Hyde Park district, when a group of black kids saw me coming out of my dad's office building at the University of Chicago. As he and I crossed the street to the parking lot, one said to the others, loudly, his voice dripping with contempt, "Look at WHITE boy, with his DADDY."
That has stuck with me over the years, for it spoke volumes. This was an odd, and white sight to him: a boy with his father.
Hardly the stuff of lynchings and slavery endured by blacks at the hands of racist whites, any of it. But such experiences had an effect. I've never bought the liberal dogma that blacks couldn't be racist because they had suffered. Or that their judgements and personal choices couldn't be as skewed as anybody else's.
To still today enshrine blacks as persecuted and irreproachable, unable to bear responsibility for their own actions and decisions has always struck me as far more than paternalistic - it is undeniably racist. Yet it is the way many whites - especially those in the 2004 "Blue State" urban enclaves - remain conditioned to think.
After beginning a three-year stint as a guest opinion page columnist for The Seattle Times in April 2001, I felt little discomfort writing honestly about Seattle's bogus, retrograde racial politics; about guilty white liberals and their insidious soft bigotry toward blacks; and about dysfunction in the black family tied to crime, education, and economic advancement. (At Rosenblog, you'll see links to some of these under "Freelance Opinion Pieces;" they'll be obvious by their titles).
I've been told by one black community leader in Seattle, even as she was cooperating with me on a column I was writing about a grassroots black self-help campaign she helped launch, that such matters were really not my business in the end, because I was white.
I thought, but did not say, that if I had been writing about white oppression of blacks, she likely would have had no objection. I replied that if we all extended her logic - thought, commentary and discourse would become completely balkanized.
Only blacks could talk about blacks; whites about whites; Asians about Asians; Muslims about Muslims. Or perhaps, I imagined later, some social arbiter could define the "oppressed"' races and classes, and decree that they, and only they, could speak about other groups with impunity.
Hold on. Is that not what media have done?
I am generally skeptical of talk about "public conversations." In my beloved adopted home of Seattle, they embody the art of avoidance, the offloading of personal responsibility, the celebration of "institutional racism," the sensitive salving of white guilt with theraputic gab.
I am more attuned to results than process. But there is a new and important chapter today in America's "conversation" about race; a new openness about black self-responsibility, about the emptiness of blaming Whitey first and always for broken families, high incarceration rates and poor achievement in school.
Writers like Shelby Steele and Thomas Sowell - and later, John McWhorter - have paved the way. And Bill Cosby busted the door wide open last May, saying things publicly that he and other blacks have been saying to each other for decades before. Of the more than 200 comments left so far at one of my blog posts on Cosby's remarks, many are from self-identified blacks. Some revile Cosby, some respectfully differ, and a great many agree - strongly.
Like those black respondents to my blog, black bloggers with their own sites are also advancing honest, open discussion on personal responsibility, race, and the role of government.
One important web portal to such bloggers is the Conservative Brotherhood. One member, D.C. Thornton, observes that President Bush acknowledged recently in a speech to the National Urban League that the Republican Party “has got a lot of work to do” to win the trust of blacks who would otherwise vote Democratic by default.
However, Thornton adds that, "the black community also has a lot of work to do to encourage the diversity of ideas, and discourage those who threaten such intellectual diversity.....(Yes) The Black community has always had intellectual diversity. (But) by and large, the black community prefers that it stays in the closet, on the down low." (The full post and comment string, here).
This commenter at Thornton's site offers some sage advice for Bush.
"What (Republicans) should do is to continue the thankless, dirty-work that needs to be done to boost the safety, security, performance and self-reliance of the black community - from serious standardized testing, to tough crime controls (where black VICTIMS are actually the focus not felons), to serious vouchers, to “heartless” spending reductions on ineffective programs."
In a recent Detroit radio interview, Cosby made a crucial point about community-based programs to help economically-disadvantaged blacks. Such efforts can succeed if, and only if, the family is involved. They can augment, but not replace fully engaged parents.
“Our young people need mentoring, but it needs to be in an organized manner,” he said. “We need the organizations (to help), but it’s no good unless the lower economic people also take on a role themselves. There are young women with children that need to be taught how to parent. Mentoring could really help them.”
I suspect Karl Rove and George Bush are paying very close attention to the limited-government, self-help message coming from a growing chorus of black Americans today. These include less traditional "black leaders" such as Bill Cosby, plus black entreprenuers, the growing black middle-class, and even conservative black bloggers.
If Rove is smart, he's got a meeting scheduled with Bill Cosby. And now that Cosby - in a series of high-profile speeches and media appearances - has championed the decisive power of the black individual, he needs to mull and then reveal which candidate he believes can best help blacks left behind help themselves.
The NAACP is in its own wax museum, along with Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and The Democratic Party. The question is not whether, or even how, Republicans will begin to capture a greater share of the black vote, but how soon?
Cross-posted at Red State.
July 26, 2004
War In An Age of Instant Messaging
At the great daily political news commentary blog reaclearpolitics.com, co-host Tom Bevan has his own separate opinion page. And he's got a must-read post today, with tremendous insights from an interview with Karl Zinsmeister on U.S. media coverage and opposition to the Iraq War.
Zinsmeister is a top conservative writer and editor. His work includes the recently published "Dawn Over Baghdad." In the RCP interview with Bevan, he beautifully captures something I've been noticing for a while now. Liberal critics of the war, and the media in particular, somehow imagine that establishing a free society in Iraq, and pre-empting global terrorists bent on destruction of the United States should be as easy and perfectly executed as dialing out for Domino's Pizza. Journalists fall into this trap because so many are so removed from the military, Zinsmeister argues. It wasn't always this way.
Zinsmeister notes the...
....desire for instantaneous results in the American public generally, not just in the press corps. We’ve gotten used to these kind of painless, antiseptic, immediate-gratification wars. We’ve been spoiled in the Balkans and Grenada and some other places and we’ve started to think about war the way we think about the rest of our life: you pick up the cell phone and you dial in the request and it’s delivered to your front door and two days later you move on to something else.
Again, there's much more from this interview at Bevan's post (second link from the top here). Excellent stuff. Every single metro-daily foreign editor and ombudsman - especially at papers so carelessly fond of snatching up the latest anti-U.S., anti-Bush "reporting" on Iraq from the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and New York Times - should read the whole thing, then think long and hard about Zinsmeister's analysis.
The NAACP IS Obsolete
Black conservative author and commentator John McWhorter writes that the NAACP is painfully irrelevant.
The NAACP is stuck in a mind-set that worked 30 years ago but makes little sense today. (President Kweisi) Mfume and NAACP Chairman Julian Bond boast that the organization is committed to "speaking truth to power," continuing the whistle-blowing tradition that the organization was founded upon in 1909. This was urgent in an America where lynching was commonplace and segregation was legal.
A real-life illustration of how times have changed comes from Waynesboro, Virginia. Moreko Griggs, a black high-school valedictorian, found he had to share the stage with two white co-valedictorians after their parents appealed his selection.
The reason? The school district decided to use grades from the last three weeks of classes to calculate final GPA, and that put the two whites on equal footing with Griggs. But in the past, grades from the last three weeks had never been factored in.
This little procedural tweak reveals discomfort with having a black valedictorian.
I find the district's actions highly suspect, race-based, and perhaps even somewhat racist. And also fairly insignificant, in the larger scheme of things.
Consider the epilouge.
...NAACP national board vice chairwoman Roslyn Brock (compared the episode) to an academic "lynching" at a banquet in Staunton last month.
What about the student himself?
Griggs ruled out filing a lawsuit, saying he was trying to put the issue behind him. He will study engineering at Rice University in the fall and plans to go to medical school.
Smart kid, and not just becasue of his GPA. If the NAACP wishes to avoid extinction, it must not only stress self-responsibility, parenting and family cohesion over shop-worn victim politics. It must also change its awful name. The bigoted phrase "colored people" is a throwback to a long-gone era, in which the NAACP still wallows.
All Sing Together Now
ChronWatch is a worthwhile conservative site that includes critiques of news and commentary in The San Francisco Chronicle. (I should add I've praised The Chron here for op-ed page political diversity). ChronWatch also includes original commentary, such as this excellent piece by regular contributor Joe Mariani.
He trots out for examination - and evisceration - ten of the most popular anti-Bush talking points. The sound bites seem straight out of the DNC playbook, or one of those insufferably-smug salon-type "citizens" dialogues held in Seattle every 16 minutes by kayak-betrothed Democratic hacks masquerading as earnest "public" intellectuals.
Except, the apparent Democratic Party critique is actually authored by the Communist Party USA. Clearly, W. is a uniter. That includes the nation's various leftist cells. They all loathe Bush viscerally - the soaring rhetoric in Boston aside.
Democrats better pray that Democrat Zell Miller is wrong.
July 25, 2004
The Fort Meyers Cubs?
Seattle was perfectly happy to blow up The Kingdome after less than 30 years. In Chicago, Wrigley Field is finally starting to show signs of age after 90 years (they built ballparks better back then). As the saga unfolds, Mayor Richard J. Daley continues to accuse The Chicago Tribune of bias in covering the alarming falling chunks of concrete at the home of the eternally bumbling Chicago Cubs.
The paper's parent corporation also owns the ball team. And the headline in the above-linked Trib story (free reg. req.) doesn't exactly undermine his assertion. It seems to try hard to rebut the first expert quoted. He says:
"Falling concrete is not a good sign," said Sidney Guralnick, a professor of civil engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology, who is not involved in the inspections of Wrigley. "These things happen. (Stadiums) are not immortal. Nothing that man touches is immortal."
The Trib headline writer sees it quite a bit more hopefully: "Wrigley's woes not uncommon - Others, like Yankee Stadium have had similar probems, but are back in business after repairs." Yes. And others still, like, oh, The Chicago White Sox's Comiskey Park, were torn down after structural risks became too great.
Building the inevitably larger, louder and more garish on-site replacement would provoke a bitter political conflict, one I suspect the owners would rather avoid.
July 24, 2004
"The Perfect First Lady For Seattle"
Imagine for a moment you could accurately say the following things about the wife of the Republican candidate for the U.S. presidency.
Her personal net worth is actually thought to be between $1 billion and $3.2 billion, according to the Los Angeles Times.
She was a member of the opposite political party until her husband decided to run for president.
She has five homes, worth at least $30 million.
She often speaks to audiences in a rambling, barely coherent manner.
I imagine Laura Bush and her husband would be mercilessly pilloried in the press were such things true about her.
When applicable to Teresa Heinz Kerry, however, these same traits are lauded by liberal sympathizers such as Sandeep Kaushik, political writer for the alternative weekly The Stranger, in Seattle.
At least Kaushik lays it out plain to see, allowing readers to understand just how far out of the mainstream is Heinz-Kerry.
She is the closest thing we have to an aristocrat in America....Her ability to forge an emotional bond with voters--particularly upscale, liberal, feminist, educated women, the sort who flock to Patty Murray's annual Oprah-esque Golden Tennis Shoe fundraisers--is in marked contrast to the policy-heavy speechifying of her husband.
With her "unconscious paternalism," the "aristocratic" and "strange" Heinz Kerry would indeed be "the perfect first lady for Seattle."
Couldn't have said it better myself. May she make many, many appearances in many, many places before Election Day.
July 23, 2004
Bwana Kerry Speaks
Black conservative commentator Mychal Massie, of Philadelphia, says Kedwards and the Ds offer nothing to blacks but presumption and soft bigotry.
...Democrats are only able to choose white liberals for national and key party positions. Kerry seems to have taken this to a whole new level, having to first be reminded that he had no blacks in key campaign positions...
Whew! Tell us what you really think Mr. Massie! Can't say he's really off the mark, though. Even if Kerry did just add a few Democratic Establishment blacks to his campaign team (Vernon Jordan, Alexis Herman).
Speaking to the National Urban League in Detroit yesterday, Kerry pitched more spending on drug treatment, mentoring, tutoring and job training programs to curb big-city gang violence among young black males. He remarked, "We need to send young people a strong, clear message that there is another path."
Right, with more social programs. Because the parents aren't capable of delivering that message themselves. Damn, Massie IS right.
I wonder who Bill Cosby is voting for.
July 22, 2004
A Little Piece of Heaven - On Your Head
Growing up in Chicago, I came to revere Wrigley Field and the jokers upon the green: my then-beloved Chicago Cubs. Great place, beautiful losers. In '69, '84 and '89 they raised hopes so high, only to be dashed. Then the Big Fade - after running up a 3-1 lead over the Marlins last fall in the NL Championship Series. The penultimate Cubbies choke job.
I can handle all of that. It's in my DNA, I guess.
I tremble. What next?
July 21, 2004
Reichert's Congressional Bid May Get Boost From True Crime Book
As a King County detective, Dave Reichert became lead investigator when the first bodies were found south of Seattle in 1982 in the notorious Green River killer case. Reichert had become King County Sheriff by the time Gary L. Ridgway was finally arrested in late 2001. Ridgway later confessed to killing at least 48 women, as part of a controversial plea bargain approved by flip-flopping King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng, and was spared from the death penalty. He is serving a life sentence without parole.
Now a candidate in the GOP primary race for retiring Jennifer Dunn's 8th District Congressional seat, Sheriff Reichert has penned "Chasing the Devil," his take on the Green River killer case. It will be published by Little, Brown and released next week. The Seattle Times has more:
Reichert's campaign manager, Bruce Boram, acknowledged yesterday that the book — as well as expected book signings and national television appearances — probably will help the campaign. Reichert is scheduled to fly to New York City in early August to be interviewed by CNN and Court TV.
Reichert will donate the book proceeds to a non-profit. He squares off against three other contenders in the GOP primary: Conrad Lee, a Bellevue City Councilman; Luke Esser, a state senator; and Diane Tebelius, a former federal prosecutor.
The front-runner for the Democratic nomination is popular radio talk show host Dave Ross.
Cross-posted at Political State Report.
Cain's Far-Right Bid Fails in Georgia
Anytime a credible black conservative runs for office, the cause of political diversity is advanced.
But the strident pro-life shtik and abolish-the-IRS plan didn't pan out for Herman Cain, a millionaire black conservative candidate in Georgia's Republican primary yesterday. He was competing for a shot at the U.S. Senate seat held by retiring conservative Democrat Zell Miller.
It may not have helped that Cain was attacked (accurately, if the article below is right) for having no voting record.
One other GOP contender (U.S. Rep. Mac Collins) and Cain - formerly the CEO of Godfather's Pizza - were defeated in the primary yesterday by Georgia Republican Congressman Johnny Isakson. By getting more than 50 percent of the vote, Isakson avoids a run-off for the Republican nomination. His Democratic opponent will be decided in a run-off three weeks hence.
Here's a report from the Gwinnett Daily Post.
Cain, 58, portrayed himself as a Washington outsider offering bold solutions to problems while the current members of Congress are content to tinker around the edges. The wealthy former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza focused primarily on replacing the complicated federal tax code with a national sales tax and preserving the financial viability of Social Security by letting younger Americans invest part of what they pay into the program in private savings accounts.
Sounds like Isakson had his flanks sufficiently covered on abortion for Georgia GOP voters. Cain's opposition to abortion even in case of rape or incest is too far right. Likewise, replacing the federal tax code with a national sales tax might warrant some discussion, but is a politically DOA proposal.
Conservatives should only very rarely indulge their Inner Zealot.
Jimmy Lane Answers a Critic
Yes, the Internet is a remarkable thing. I know that because today in my e-mail in-box was a reply from guitarist Jimmy Lane, whose performance at a big-deal February '04 Hendrix tribute concert in Seattle I panned in a review that ran at Rosenblog and ifeminists.com.
Lane played in a segment of the all-star show that also featured longtime Howlin' Wolf guitarist Hubert Sumlin - a legend among blues and rock afficionados. Here's the passage in question:
Then, a train wreck. The great Chicago blues session guitarist Hubert Sumlin was sabotaged, by his pairing with guitarist Jimmy Lane.
Here is Mr. Lane's reply to me:
Hello Mr. Rosenberg.
OK, Mr. Lane. I wish you well in all your endeavors, and you can tell because I didn't put a smart-ass headline on this entry, like "It Was The Stage-Tech's Fault, Really!" But even if you'd had your own amp (and presumably, a more bearable volume level) I felt that your rock-guitar-hero stylings were greatly at odds with Mr. Sumlin's more low-key approach. It just wasn't groovin'. Of course, Buddy Guy had an even worse night.
July 20, 2004
Ross Hammered Again on Abortion
I've got my first post up at Political State Report, a national, group blog I'm happy to have joined as a regular contributor. The post is about suburban Seattle congressional candidate Dave Ross and abortion politics. It's titled "Ross Hammered From Both Sides on Abortion."
Take a good cruise around the PSR site - there's a lot to delve into.
Open Borders and Hispanic Gangs
Don't miss "The Immigrant Gang Plague" by Heather Mac Donald in the new issue of the fine quarterly City Journal. It includes deep field research and policy analysis, a trademark of Mac Donald's always-peerless work. City Journal - the great "fool-killer," as Tom Wolfe said - is essential reading. Some excerpts follow, but read the whole thing.
Hispanic youths, whether recent arrivals or birthright American citizens, are developing an underclass culture....Hispanic school dropout rates and teen birthrates are now the highest in the nation. Gang crime is exploding nationally—rising 50 percent from 1999 to 2002—driven by the march of Hispanic immigration east and north across the country. Most worrisome, underclass indicators like crime and single parenthood do not improve over successive generations of Hispanics—they worsen.
Mac Donald's conclusion:
Immigration optimists, ever ready to trumpet the benefits of today’s immigration wave, have refused to acknowledge its costs. Foremost among them are skyrocketing gang crime and an expanding underclass. Until the country figures out how to reduce these costs, maintaining the current open-borders regime is folly. We should enforce our immigration laws and select immigrants on skills and likely upward mobility, not success in sneaking across the border.
July 19, 2004
Marsupial Mayhem Mounts
Drought-crazed kangaroos, as tall as five-and-half feet and weighing as much as 154 pounds, have overtaken Canberra, the national capital of Australia.
On the prowl for food and water, they're endangering humans with aggressive behavior, and gobbling up vegetation near Googong Dam - causing parched soil erosion into the water supply and raising pollution levels.
So the government has hired commerical kangaroo shooters to, ah, reduce, or cull, the population. Which in turn, has animal rights protestors quite upset.
Sorry, I'm with the Soldiers of Fortune on this one.
Herman Cain, a rich black conservative Republican, is running for U.S. Senate from Georgia. More from the Washington Post.
Cain, a former Burger King executive who owned Godfather's Pizza for 15 years before selling the chain in December, has chosen the most unconventional of stages for his political debut. In a state where more than half the Democratic voters are black, he is bidding to become the first African American elected to the U.S. Senate from the Deep South since Reconstruction by running as a Republican -- and a highly conservative Republican at that.
Cain is seekng to fill the seat being vacated by retiring conservative Democrat Zell Miller, who supports President Bush's re-election bid.
Georgia is among five southern states where Senate seats held by Democrats are coming open this year. Republican leaders are confident they can win the seat in Georgia, in light of the state's recent shift toward the GOP after more than 130 years of solid Democratic control. Democrats seeking the nomination include first-term Rep. Denise L. Majette and millionaire businessman Cliff Oxford.
Though I'm pro-choice, it is not with any great enthusiasm. I agree with Cain that the culture of easy abortion is pernicious. But he goes overboard in positing that Planned Parenthood may be motivated by a black genocide plot. Rather than pandering to the right, he should make sure another message is inescapable: that he has a serious plan for dealing with the "illiteracy and poverty" among blacks that he decries.
And the abolish-the-I.R.S. plank only adds to his nutcase aura. What's his alternative?
I'm no Georgia political consultant, but my hunch here is that the "rural and small-town audiences" aren't going to get Cain through the GOP primary. If he wants to win, he'll have to reach GOP moderates in suburban Atlanta by talking less about the evils of abortion, and more about national security, priorities of government, public education, the federal budget, and the U.S. economy.
Teachers Union Runs Amok in Mexico
Mexico's education system is a shambles, and the teachers union is a big part of the reason. The Washington Post explains.
Jose Luis Gonzalez, the principal of a local middle school, received an unusual letter from a group of ninth-graders last semester. "Our teacher doesn't show up to class," the children wrote, begging him to replace their math instructor.
Many Mexicans blame their teachers, or more precisely the National Education Workers Union, which represents 1.3 million educators. The trade union, the largest in Latin America, has created what critics describe as a monstrous system of perks and patronage, including a practice that allows teaching positions to be inherited and sold for cash.
Sounds like the National Education Association, in the U.S. And the NEA's vituperative Washington State arm, the Washington Education Association. WEA allies have advanced to the fall ballot an initiative to overturn recently-enacted state legislation for public charter schools. Competition and accountability terrify the leaders of big teachers unions.
Much Ado About Arnold
The chattering classes are all atwitter because California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger - frustrated with slatemated budget negotiations - labelled as "girlie men" the state's special-interest-beholden Democratic legislators.
As viewers of the old "Saturday Night Live" know, that's a reference to the popular "Hans und Franz" skit - based on Schwarzenegger himself - in which two faux Austrian macho body-builders preen and trade insults.
This was no casual slip of the tongue however, but part of a calculated direct appeal by Arnold to voters in swing districts where Democrats are considered vulnerable in the November elections. The Governator continued his offensive Sunday, a day after ruffling feathers with his "girlie men" remark. The Sacramento Bee reports today:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger pressed ahead Sunday with another shopping mall attack but avoided repeating the reference. The Republican governor didn't soften his theme otherwise, nor shy away from plucking famous lines from his movies to thrill the crowd, as he urged thousands of fans jammed into a food court to unseat Democratic legislators in November if they do not agree to his version of a state spending plan, now 19 days late.
Nunez offers a different reaction to the New York Times, including this:
"The truth is I don't feel bullied by this guy," Mr. Nuñez said. "I don't have any insecurities about myself. I don't take that stuff personally."
Now that's taking it like a man.
July 18, 2004
Puget Sound Blog Round-Up
It's time. Let's check in with just a few of my favorite Puget Sound bloggers.
Girl Hacker reports the U.S. Air Force is looking for an accordion player. But not just any accordion player. (Third post down; check out other entries and bookmark this fine, non-political blog which has been up and and running "almost daily" since November, '99).
Steevak highlights a training camp for Palestinian kids who are taught to abduct and murder Jews.
Brian Crouch notes Taser stun guns are really working for police in Miami, as an alternative to shooting bad guys with old-fashioned bullets. And Tasers are gaining acceptance in many other police departments. So he wonders why Amnesty International is calling for Tasers to be banned.
Jim Miller links to a WSJ op-ed piece (free, no reg. req.) about John Edwards' dubious past as a personal injury lawyer hoodwinking juries into deciding that maternity ward missteps caused cerebral palsy.
Greg Piper says, Hey, what about the 50 Worst Beers? And I thank him for that.
Stefan Sharkansky says there's a charter school in Oregon we should know about.
James J. Na is pleasantly shocked to see this pro-American piece in Asia Times Online, extolling our nation's entrepreneurial drive.
Here's a bunch of stuff from Ambra Nykol's excellent blog. Make sure to check out the 10th of these recent, archived posts, "Hi, I'm Charles Dickens and I'm Overrated." Nykol channels the late author for a conversation; and posts reader feedback on the most overrated authors and novels.
July 17, 2004
Splendiferous British Columbia
Since moving from Chicago out here (to Seattle) in 1994, my wife and I - and later our kids - have explored the Great Northwest as often as time and budget have allowed. Some of our favorite spots are in British Columbia: Vancouver; Vancouver Island (especially Tofino, on the West Coast); and the Gulf Islands (here's my Seattle Times piece on one Gulf Island, Hornby, free reg. req.)
While contributing a regular guest op-ed column to The Seattle Times from April of 2001 to May of 2004, I met and wrote about another BC lover, Charlie Hoff, although my focus was on his strong advocacy of greater rigor and focus in Washington's public schools. In addition to exploring North America, Charlie serves as school board vice-president in Federal Way (a booming south suburb of Seattle, and the state's seventh-largest city). He has also worked as a public school assistant superintendent, and assistant headmaster at a private school.
As it happens, Charlie and his wife Marilyn just came back from a great trip to BC, and Charlie sent this e-mail, which sure gets me juiced to go where they've just been. See what you think. (FYI, I've just worked in a few basic, get-you-started links about the highlights).
By Charlie Hoff
The past ten days have been a very wonderful experience for Marilyn and I as we have discovered the "Cariboo-Chilcotin" of British Columbia. I suspect that few of you have been there.
Charlie closes his e-mail with this quote, which I cannot resist including.
"Education is hard work, not play, and its rewards are a seriously informed, wide-ranging attitude towards real life, and the beginning of a great adventure." - Robertson Davies.
July 16, 2004
77 Congo Children Dead From E-Coli
Expected reforms leading to 2005 elections in the hopefully-named Democratic Republic of Congo - formerly Zaire - haven't materialized. President Joseph Kabila has merely shuffled lower-level cabinet ministers, not begun the serious house-cleaning needed to instill confidence in the shaky coalition government that assumed power after a five-year civil war killed three million.
Sounds like a brand-new, top-flight, apolitical health minister is needed: 77 children are dead and 2,600 more infected after an outbreak of gastroenteritis linked to e-coli in Kinshasa, the nation's capital. Reading the story, it seems pretty clear - between the lines - that the water supply is suspected.
Such murderous Third World incompetence invites more despair, and turbulence.
Imagine what we'd be saying if this had happened in Iraq. But the plight of Congo's children can't be laid at the feet of George W. Bush. So who cares?
Slim-Fast Trims Whoopi
Diet potion hucksters Slim-Fast have sacked Whoopi Goldberg as a celebrity spokesperson after her recent potty-mouthed rant at a Kerry-Edwards event, Right Thinking from the Left Coast reports.
But it's not about Whoopi. No, the real story is the quashing of free speech, and systemic racism, as you'll see in the link above.
Meanwhile. Los Angeles-based "media psychologist" Robert R. Butterworth wants to replace Whoopi in Slim-Fast ads. Here, he explains why.
Whoever takes Whoopi's place: don't wear this button in public.
No Smoking On Beach: Downtown Next?
Nanny Statists on the Santa Cruz City Council are poised to ban smoking on city beaches. This is the latest political fad to germinate from California's many "progressive" coastal towns.
Now, don't get me wrong. I like most of these places a lot. Take Santa Cruz. I love the sea lions at the pier (yeahsure, tell me they're choking on butts). I root for the fighting UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs; how could you not? I quaff endless pitchers of third party-certified organic Santa Cruz Raspberry Lemonade. It's made in Chico, but there's something about the label....
I even live in an overgrown socialist utopia called Seattle - something I'm quite happy about despite our Leftist Hick ethos, and self-congratulatory salmon idolatry.
As it happens, I have no objection to - and even support - indoor smoking bans. BUT, the proposed beach smoking ban in Santa Cruz is ineffably dumb. You can see where such overkill leads: more overkill. One supporter is quoted in the above-linked story saying smoking should also not be allowed in the city's central business district.
Sure. And then likewise outside of malls, libraries, supermarkets, and anywhere else with a lot of al fresco foot traffic.
Here's another thing. Folks favoring the beach smoking ban always say there are too many butts on the beach (the short, stubby, nicotine-stained kind). There sure are. But littering is already against the law. And no one is enforcing the local littering ordinances, just like dog-poop and dog-leash regs are rarely enforced. Ever taken a walk around Key West? (Tip: don't wear sandals!)
So, who's really going to enforce the beach smoking ban? The same community service officers who are stretched too thin to police beach litterers? In Seattle, I see plenty of pop cans and food wrappers on the beach at Alki. Should we ban hamburgers and soda pop from the beaches, too?
"Progressivism" - from California beach politics to Bush-bashing - is increasingly a series of empty, feel-good gestures.
South African "Peacekeepers" Linked to Ongoing U.N. Sex Scandal - No Relief in DRC
New and ever-more damning reports on sexual abuse of refugees by United Nations "peacekeepers" in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
And South African soliders are at the heart of it, aided and abetted by detached U. N. officials who've been aware of sexual abuse there since at least late-October, 2003. Instead of clamping down, they've allowed it to worsen.
South African soldiers have been accused of involvement in a massive sex abuse scandal in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where they are on peace-keeping duties.
Perhaps sometime before the next 68 complaints of sexual abuse are lodged, the U.N. will take action to prevent its "peacekeepers" from raping and sexually exploiting refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
July 15, 2004
Cosby's Support Holding Firm
The Bill Cosby furor still rages in the media, even if an awful lot of black people continue to express their agreement with his tough comments about self-responsibility, parenting, education, speech and comportment in the black underclass.
...we need to get busy on numerous fronts, especially education.
At a Cosby comedy concert before the NAACP's 95th annual convention in Philadelphia earlier this week, audience members gave him a standing ovation, and told reporters they supported his accountability campaign.
Many of the people attending the convention said his comments were sporadically discussed among attendees.
Na Na Na, Hey Hey Now
One of Seattle's leading conservative intellectuals on foreign policy, James J. Na, has just started his very own blog, Guns and Butter. James is not only a heckuva swell guy who knows good Merlot from bad, but his dogs are very well-behaved. He's a Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy for Discovery Institute in Seattle.
Na came to the U.S. from South Korea, and decided to stay. His background includes degrees from Brown University and Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh. He has also worked in several high-level positions in the defense industry.
Na is an incisive, refreshingly uninhibited and deeply informed observer and analyst of current events and history. He says his blog will cover "news from around the world, international relations, national security and military affairs, politics and economics."
His writings have appeared in the Asian Wall Street Journal, Seattle Times, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Defense News and Naval Institute's Proceedings.
Here's a link to an excellent piece Na penned for Rosenblog titled, "U.S. Deaths in Iraq: A Historical Perspective."
Welcome to the blogosphere. You Go, James!
A Victim of Poor Choices
This is getting played as a typical "spurned, abusive mate goes berserk" story, but I wonder if it's not just as much a "stay in school" morality play.
Antigone "Mona" Allen, 18, of Pierce County, Washington, was burned to death along with her three young children after they were doused with gasoline and set afire by her boyfriend Genaro Garcia, 24. They were asleep in his car at the time.
According to news accounts, Garcia, 24, who also killed himself, battered his wife and was excessively controlling. But by dropping out of school at age 15 to have three babies in the next three years, Allen set herself up for this relationship from Hell. She was still a child, as other episodes also indicate. Gleaned from the front-page story in today's Seattle Times (link above) are the following:
Antigone Allen dropped out of school at age 15 to have Christine, and did not have a high-school diploma. She had pleaded guilty to a juvenile misdemeanor charge of assault after hitting a fellow middle-school student, according to court records. At the time of her death, Allen was facing misdemeanor charges for a fight at a swap meet in July 2003.
Allen had left Garcia eight times, but always came back. The last time was hours before she and her children were murdered by him.
....Why did Allen go back the last time? Her sister says Allen, had few options. "She wanted to make things work for her family. It's hard to be 18 years old with no job, no resources and three kids."
It sure is. And while there is no excuse for Garcia's monstrous actions, to sidestep the roles of Allen herself and her parents in this tragedy is dishonest.
Why did she drop out and get pregnant at age 15? Where were her parents then? Was Garcia the father of all three of her children? What was the immigration status of this "roofing contractor who came into the U.S. from Mexico" and who - according to what Allen told police earlier - was involved in a "criminal proceeding" in California. What proceeding? And if true, was he a witness, or as an alleged perpetrator? What is his entire criminal record, if anything beyond one arrest related to a domestic dispute with Allen?
Inquiring minds want to know.
UPDATE I: The P-I reports that according to Allen's sister, Garcia was an illegal immigrant. The P-I claims Garcia was also the father of all three children whom he killed, though the Times (below) indicates that may not be true. Not only was Allen a teen mother, the P-I reports, so were her sister and mother.
UPDATE II: This 7/17 Seattle Times story says it's not clear if Garcia fathered all three of the children he killed, that even (the 18-year-old mother) Allen's friends and family weren't sure. A friend is quoted saying one child was fathered by someone else, and one by Garcia. Unsure about the third. So far in both Seattle dailies, no in-depth story on Allen's parents. We do know her mother was a teenage mother herself. Which sadly, may explain a lot. Her mother's and father's tales need to be told. That's the real backstory here.
July 14, 2004
Ditka Stays on Sidelines
Former Chicago Bears coach and Super Bowl winner Mike Ditka has decided not to run for U.S. Senate as an Illinois Republican. He's worried he's too tempermental and conservative.
He'd been thinking seriously about jumping in, and there was a major "Draft Ditka" movement in Illinois. This all came about after the spectacular flame-out of expected GOP nominee Jack Ryan when his unsealed divorce papers revealed allegations by his actress ex-wife Jeri Ryan that he pressured her to have sex in front of strangers at swingers clubs in New York, Paris and New Orleans.
The more mainstream Ditka, in contrast, has hawked erectile dysfunction medication on TV.
I remember Ditka well, because I lived in Chicago when he led the Bears to a victory in Super Bowl XX, following the 1985 season. "Punky" QB Jim McMahon, speedy wide receiver Willie Gault, and the stolid William "Refrigerator" Perry. What a team. And what a rap video: "The Super Bowl Shuffle."
Mostly, I remember Ditka beginning every other sentence with, "In Life....."
Let's just say, he's got his eye on the big picture. Or else he's compensating for a perceived lack of perspective.
Ditka calls himself an ultraconservative, and his shoot-from-the-hip style has some real appeal, in this era of programmed, packaged pols. However, Ditka was notoriously short-tempered with sports reporters. You've got to wonder - as apparently he did, too - how'd he'd handle life in the fishbowl, including disagreements with media, and Senate colleagues.
The hapless Illinois GOP will come up with someone, certain to be mowed down by the smooth Democrat (and current state legislator) Barack Obama. Maybe even the disgraced Ryan, who as of yesterday had not filed papers to remove his name from the ballot yet, AP reported (here via Chicago Trib, free registration req.).
For now, ponder some of the wit and wisdom of "Chicago's Philosopher King," presented by Chicago Sun-Times metro columnist Mark Brown.
A shame Ditka backed down. This could have been a personal growth experience for "Da Coach." And the electorate.
July 13, 2004
French "Hate Crime" Was Hoax
The reported French hate crime - where a young mother on a commuter train claimed to have had swastikas drawn on her body after being robbed - was fabricated. Or so it now appears. Shame on the so-called "victim."
The vile anti-Semitism ascendant in France must be eradicated, but not with lies.
See No Illegals, Arrest No Illegals
Apparently it is not enough that illegal immigrants from south of the U.S. border are let into our country and allowed to stay scott-free, draining government resources despite their illegal status.
No, we must also now ignore any additional crimes illegals commit, or risk being branded racist. Now that timid U.S. immigration officials have dared to apprehend some illegals believed to have violated other laws too, they are being accused or waging a race war.
The Associated Press reports from Yakima:
Dozens of Latino residents in the agricultural Yakima Valley marched yesterday to protest rumored immigration sweeps by the federal government....Bearing signs that read "Stop the War Against Hispanics" and "No More Racism," more than 100 people walked from St. Joseph's Catholic Church to a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Yakima.
Except it's not true.
Just four people have been picked up in the Yakima Valley in the past two weeks as part of an effort to arrest illegal immigrants who have been involved in crime or ignored deportation orders, said Mike Milne, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman in Seattle.
You don't say.
Cops: Our Friends
In a Seattle Times op-ed piece yesterday, former Seattle police detective Timothy Burgess sounded the alarm about police and fire understaffing in Seattle.
Little more than 24 hours after the piece appeared - and doubtless a TOTAL coincidence - Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels sends out notice of a community meeting on how we can all pull together to fight crime and build bonds in our communities. Here is an edited version:
Dear Matt: I know that having a safe and healthy neighborhood is important to you, and it is one of my priorities as mayor. I want to invite you to a neighborhood forum to share your ideas about improving the safety of our community.
Dear Greg: Sorry, but I can't make the meeting. Saturday morning I'll be cleaning up dogsh**, discarded diapers and litter on the playground at Seattle's Roxhill Park, where my children love to explore the great wooden labyrinth donated by a local community service organization.
But here are my non-collaborative suggestions. Hire more cops and firemen. Cut back sharply on social services and social engineering. Get live human beings to answer the phones at City Hall, not machines. Enforce the leash ordinance in Seattle parks, or rescind it. Currently it's a joke, and I'm tired of dogs bigger than you confronting my kids when they play hide and seek.
And stop nibbling around the edges on our city's crappy public schools. Advance an accountability initiative requiring the mayor to appoint the superintendent and school board.
Thank you Greg, for everything you do to make Seattle such a wonderful place to live.
Now I'm Gonna Sniff Some Glue
Real punk-rockers don't need no education, but suburban Atlanta booomer parents are paying $495 a week so their kids can learn to shred, snarl and brood onstage. The L.A. Times reports (free registration required).
...along the halls of a Jewish day school outside Atlanta, children of the suburbs were being instructed in speed-metal, death-metal, ripping, shredding, maniacally insane guitar solos, and jumping onto the bass drum for dramatic effect without hurting yourself.
Hey, what are kids for?
This part is priceless.
....Josh Bell, 11, stood in front of vocal coach Felicia Sorensen, singing, in the voice he had cultivated in a church choir, "Smells Like Teen Spirit," Kurt Cobain's grunge anthem. He sang in the sweet tenor you might expect from a young Harry Potter.
Later at a performance for parents, Josh is transformed.
...fronting the band Sheep, he sang "Smells Like Teen Spirit" — "I feel stupid, and contagious/Here we are now, entertain us" — with such an aggressive roar that the crowd came to life, hooting and clapping. From her seat on the bleachers, his mother, Mary, wondered aloud if he might be possessed.
Josh, Josh: that's Week Two.
Tip: Jack R. Payton.
July 12, 2004
The Beginning of The End
I'm unsure what our pro-funetik speling frendz would have to say about this.
But I'm a-p-p-a-l-l-e-d. At the West Seattle Hi-Yu Festival Saturday, I came across a couple in a trailer who make those cute little wooden signs many families have near their mailbox or front door. You know, the ones that say "The Smith's," or "The Anderson's," or "The Fox's."
The distinguishing characteristic being that misplaced apostrophe, apparently meant to signal (as Dave Barry once tartly observed) that "an 's' is coming up."
Sadly, the domocile cannot be "The Anderson's" unless it belongs to one person named "The Anderson." The sign should read "The Andersons," or "Anderson."
I related this to "The Sign-Maker's," and they sheepishly said they'd heard all about it, and had even been read chapter and verse by an outraged school teacher. But they're not about to do it any differently, they insisted, because this is "what everyone wants."
It is also the subject of a surprisingly readable book by one Lynne Truss, titled, "Eats, Shoots & Leaves - The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation."
Truss explains, "...when other girls my age were attending the Isle of Wight Festival and having abortions, I bought a copy of Eric Partidge's 'Usage and Abusage'.." Truss writes that her book "...gives you permission to love punctuation" and understand it, rather than quickly skate by it in fear. Naturally, it became a bestseller in Britain.
I'm hoping the folks who run the "Sharis" family restaurant chain in Washington and Oregon will pick up a copy. Their website uses the apostrophe in some instances, but their logo and restaurant signs do not. This although the chain is named after one of the orginal owners - a woman known as "Shari."
The latest anti-Semitic hate crime in France is pretty heinous, partly because commuters who witnessed it haven't yet come forward to assist in identifying the warped miscreants responsible.
The Scotsman reports:
Police stepped up a search today for six men who scrawled swastikas on the stomach of a young mother as she travelled on a suburban Paris train, and officials appealed for some 20 witnesses who may have seen the attack to step forward.
Another stain on the soul of a nation in grave moral and spiritual decline.
One Bitchin' Patrician
Does anyone really buy this lame "Two Americas" stuff John Edwards has been peddling?
Seems to me there's One America, and almost infinite possibilities - from abject poverty; to making a living; a fortune; or marrying a ketchup heiress.
And unlike other conservative critics, I'm pretty damn impressed by John Kerry's $8,000 bicycle.
July 10, 2004
Keep Your Tongue to Yourself, Matey! Your Cigar, Too!
Seattle's not quite as close to the sea as some think. In his new book, ex-Prez Bill Clinton quite inaccurately refers to the 1993 APEC meeting site on nearby Blake Island as "off the coast of Seattle" (scroll down to the last item in the link).
"Off the coast of Seattle?" That's about what you'd expect from a clueless patrician tourist in an $800 Burberry's raincoat. Which you see regularly at Seattle's Pike Place Market. ("Yeah, wrap up that salmon and Fed Ex it to Alexandria, wouldja?").
As it happens - Chicago emigre speaking here - we're on an inland waterway called Puget Sound. A glorious thing it is, too. But the real "coast," as in Pacific Coast, is many miles to the west, around the bend of the big-thumbed Olympic Peninsula. Hop a damned dinghy if you must - or better yet a kayak - and take a look, Billy-Bob.
Yet still, if anyone cares to just "move on," Ol' Lothario's got an excuse. Again. After all, our football team is named The Seattle Seahawks. Plus, every summer since 1955 we've had a big, and still muy-retro, weeks-long shindig called SeaFair. So, you'd suppose that where there's an alleged sea, there must be a coast - though to me, "sound" and "shore" are the more accurate terms.
SeaFair's lame name aside, the event means The Blue Angels, which is great. And thousands of folks congregate on the shores of Lake Washington to watch the hydro-boat races. Which isn't. To each their own, but you couldn't get me near that sprawling awful mess of humanity for any price - local rube traditions be damned.
And it all kicks off with the landing of the SeaFair Pirates at Alki Beach, which we witnessed again, today.
The pirates are usually pretty well lubricated by the time their boat comes ashore, and it seems every year there's this guy with the tongue out, and an eye for the babes. He set course for my wife today, but due to to my manly and imposing presence, was unable to get his tongue into gear at all.
Still, I had to straighten him out a bit, as he began putting well-practiced pirate moves on the comely mother of my progeny. "Aaaarggghhh. She's MY wench, matey," I bellowed. He backed down quickly enough.
Music was provided by Miles From Chicago, who kicked things off with a beguiling lounge jazz/surf rock version of Van Morrison's "Moondance," the Space Needle as a distant backdrop. Not as in this picture of the group playing at the Alki pirate landing a few years back. (Shssssh, but that's actually Yoko Ono, second from the left).
Ran into lots of amigos down at the beach, always a nice part of living in cozy West Seattle. Then later, up to the Hi-Yu Festival in West Seattle's "Junction," our neighborhood downtown, so named because streetcars used to run through there years ago.
We got rained on a whole lot, but it let up, and we stuck it out. Ava, four, had her t-shirt streaked with popsicle juice, and got pretty wet besides, but had the time of her life. Her brother Max, too. Pony rides, obstacle course, Hawaiian shaved ice, all that. Something liberating about walking around in the rain, and not caring.
I enjoyed Yerba Buena, a Cuban charanga dance music group, featuring two vocalists, three percussionists, two violinists, flute, bass, and keyboards/guittaron. Outstanding stuff, and locals to boot. Nice classy addition to the proceedings. Looking forward to the West Seattle Jazz Festival again, post-Labor Day.
It's wonderful when geezers with kids can score free live music, before sunset! Ah, summer.
July 09, 2004
Bush Shore Cain't Talk Purty
Another day, another article about polarization in American politics. But this one is special, featuring as it does the insights of one Lee Bondurant, from suburban Seattle.
"I don't like Bush," said...Bondurant, a political independent who was laid off from his job at Boeing in 2002 and now teaches computer-aided drafting to college students. "Because he ain't got no smarts. Just listen to the way he speaks."
Was that a Bondurant-ism?
Bush-loathers have also been fighting the good fight for George near Seattle on tony Bainbridge Island. In a July 4 parade there, a young Iraq war vet got a bilious reception from the crowd. Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist Robert Jamieson wrote about it today. Puget Sound blogger Brian Crouch has this value-added post.
Pro-Abortion Extremists Sully Themselves Again
It probably doesn't matter much to voters in the end, but 8th Congressional District Democratic candidate Dave Ross - formerly a well-known Seattle radio talk show host and CBS Radio national commentator - has managed to incite pro-abortion mouthpieces even though he himself is pro-choice. How'd he do that?
By voicing his support for parental notification legislation for minors seeking an abortion. The heresy!
A prominent abortion-rights group has taken aim at...Ross, saying he isn't entirely aligned with them. Ross' two opponents, Alex Alben and Heidi Behrens-Benedict, have sided with abortion-rights advocates and hope their stance could give them an edge in the September Democratic primary.
What rot. This guy's candidacy is flailing to begin with, after party leaders brought in the higher-profile, more charismatic Ross in hopes he'd emerge from the primary to challenge likely Republican nominee (and popular King County Sherrif Dave Reichert) for the retiring Jennifer Dunn's seat.
Then to compound matters, Alben tries pandering to the Far Left on parental notification in a district that practically defines moderate, nuanced suburban politics. Stupid. As for perennial candidate Behrens-Benedict, you coulda stuck a fork in her years ago. She was done before she even started, this time around. And the last, and the time before that, and....You need to run in SEATTLE, Heidi.
Ross' stances recently prompted NARAL's (Washington Executive Director Karen) Cooper to send roughly 500 local leaders an e-mail criticizing his positions, headlined with the statement: "Candidate Dave Ross ... Pro-Choice?"
In this respect at least, Dave Ross is my kind of guy.
And by the way, I'm pro-choice, but still not wildly enthusiastic about abortion.
July 08, 2004
State Consequences Now For Another 9/11
We're repeatedly warned that major terrorist strikes are coming again to the U.S., yet our leaders seem utterly disinterested in making known any sort of pre-emptive deterrent to the countries that would aid and abet the shadowy attackers, worries Victor Davis Hanson. He has an idea.
...inform hostile countries right now of a (big) list of their assets — military bases, power plants, communications, and assorted infrastructure — that will be taken out in the aftermath of another attack, a detailed sequence of targets that will be activated when the culpable terrorists' bases and support networks are identified and confirmed. We would have to draft a formal declaration of war — as we should have against the Taliban, bin Laden, and Saddam Hussein — against those countries that harbored or even aided the next 9/11-like cell. Both sides should anticipate the consequences should another 3,000 Americans be incinerated at work.
The Few, The Proud, The Seedgivers
What with all the flying shrapnel from the enemy's improvised exploding devices, is there any reason the U.S. Marines shouldn't be deploying Kevlar shorts in Iraq? I can't think of any.
Tip from P. Scott Cummins, Seattle's own "Urbane R."
Standing at the Crossroads
Monday, July 5 was the 50th anniversary of the invention of rock 'n roll, according to the hype machine at BMG Records, which owns the Elvis Presley catalogue. The Boston Globe reports:
What's so special about that spot on the calendar? Elvis recorded his first single, "That's All Right," on that day in Memphis.
And this entertainer gives the lowdown.
"I think Elvis was given a lot of credit for introducing rock to the masses because he was white and gorgeous," says singer Sheryl Crow. "Not to take anything away from him, but I think you could easily trace the true beginning of rock back to the late '40s and early '50s with artists like Big Joe Turner, who did `Shake, Rattle & Roll,' which was undoubtedly a rock song, as well as Ike Turner with `Rocket 88.' "
If you want to hear some of what launched rock, pick up some old (we're talking 1940s or 50s) Ike Turner (yeh, him, before he went upside Tina's head). You can hear the future of rock pretty clearly here.
Equally important were "jump" or "race music" combos led by Wynonie Harris; Louis Jordan, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, and Jay McShann, among others - who came out of the earlier and somewhat stiffer jazz big band tradition.
My Desert Island proto-rock CD is "Jelly Roll King" by Mississippi harmonica player Frank Frost (you may have seen him playing in the movie, "Crossroads"). It's a dusty, drivin' Delta juke joint masterpiece, the first dozen tunes of which were recorded in 1962 in and around Memphis.
Finally, a novelty item available from various online used LP merchants: Bill Cosby's 60s blues album, "Silver Throat." I found my shrink-wrapped copy for a song, in a second-hand shop years back. It's pretty good, actually. And, um, yeah, Cosby really DID live the blues, growing up.
COMING SOON: Can white men sing the blues?
July 07, 2004
Time for Precision Drones Over Khartoum
The Arab Muslim Government of Sudan still has not stopped its militias from displacing black villagers in an ongoing scorched earth campaign in the western province of Darfur. G.O.S. is also failing to deliver on promises made last week to Colin Powell and Kofi Annan to ease roadblocks for humanitarian workers.
More than a million displaced people from Darfur are barely alive in refugee camps, thanks to the Arab Muslim government-backed Arab janjaweed militias. They have killed as many as 80,000 black Sudanese in recent months (earlier estimates topped out at 30,000); systematically gang-raped the women of Darfur, and burnt countless villages to the ground. All this on top of a 20-year civil war that has left some 2 to 2.5 million black Christian and animist Sudanese from the south dead, at the hands of Khartoum.
The Scotsman sums up the latest developments well in this story, titled, "Killing Goes On, as Sudan Lies to World and Defies U.N."
The African Union is looking to deploy 300 more "peacekeepers" to Darfur, but there'd have to be a peace for them to keep, first, wouldn't there? This article from The Economist suggests that even if Khartoum had the will to stop the janjaweed, it lacks the ability. Which realistically would leave direct military intervention, led by, um, international forces. Let's see now, who'd pull that together?
The A.U., on the other hand, today called for Khartoum to crack down on the murderous militias.
Maybe first - just to see what the G.O.S. really can do when properly motivated - a precision drone ought to deploy a few projectiles over Khartoum. And the first one should have President Omar al-Bashir's name on it. We know just who'd actualize that.
Matt in Today's JWR
I've got an opinion piece in today's Jewish World Review titled, "Educational Landscape by Dali." It begins:
Here's a phantasmagoric tale. One of the global advertising industry's leading lights is teaching an advertising workshop at major university's school of journalism and communications. The theme is "creatively facing fear" by doing something transgressive, and capturing it on video.
Read the whole thing.
July 06, 2004
AIDS and The Self
Common sense and personal responsibility would go a long way toward curbing the spread of HIV and AIDS, now on an alarming upswing worldwide.
There's no denying horrific instances in Africa where AIDS-infected soldiers rape and infect village women. A serious lack of public health information also hinders AIDS prevention in Africa, and to an extent, elsewhere. But much is known by now, and it's harder to ignore the role of individual behavior and decisions.
The United Nations isn't good for much, but today is an exception. The U.N. issued its "2004 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic". Consider these excerpts from the Executive Summary.
In Asia, the HIV epidemic remains largely concentrated among injecting drug users, men who have sex with men, sex workers, clients of sex workers and their immediate sexual partners.
In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control continues tracking HIV/AIDS cases by cause. Scroll down to "Cases by Exposure Category" here, and you'll see that men having sex with men, and injection drug use account for the vast majority of cumulative AIDS cases diagnosed in America through 2002. (The CDC data stretches back to the early 80s).
You'll also want to look at this chart from the CDC, titled, "Estimated numbers of diagnosed cases of HIV/AIDS, by race/ethnicity, sex, exposure category, and age category, 1999–2002—30 areas with confidential name-based HIV infection reporting."
It shows that male/male sex is an increasing cause while injection drug use is slightly declining or holding steady as a cause; that heterosexual sex is the cause for a significantly higher percentage of black women who get AIDS than for white or Hispanic women; and that Asians/Pacific Islanders hardly figure into the U.S. data at all.
In "AIDS: Darkening in America," an article in the current issue of U.S. News and World Report, Susan Brink notes that while blacks are just 12 percent of the U.S. population, they account for half of new HIV cases reported here.
Part of the discussion, especially about black women getting AIDS from sex with black men, has to do with "down-low brothers," or secretly bisexual black men. As author E. Lynn Harris, a former "down-low brother," says:
..with large numbers of African-American women being diagnosed with HIV—72 percent of all new female cases...women’s lives today depend on their knowing who’s sleeping with whom.
I began researching an AIDS update after hearing from Rosenblog participant Argus Milton, a 23-year-old graduate student from Atlanta. He has some views he'd like to share on HIV/AIDS and the black community, which are ever the more timely given recent news. Argus writes:
By no means is AIDS just a black problem. It affects millions of people around the world. With that said I would like to comment on the dramatic increase of infections amongst our own....Whites overall attach less of a stigma towards the "host" of the disease, meaning homosexuals. Because of that, they were able to combat the disease better because they were more open to discuss and face the fact that a large number of white men were gay."
July 05, 2004
We're From Berkeley And We're Here To Help
Activists from uber-lefty Berkeley, California and environs are working in Florida to help black people transcend their state of perpetual oppression and remember that, uh, it's important to vote.
....Erin Brandt, a peace and conflict resolution major at UC Berkeley and a Florida native (said), “They have other problems to deal with and it’s hard for them to make this a priority. They don’t trust the system because of the last election.”
Never mind that even if the ineptly-punched and other discarded ballots had been counted, Bush still would have won Florida in 2000, and thus the presidency, according to those heedless right-wing shills at the New York Times (free registration required).
The real problem here is the patronizing assumption that black Floridians need to have representative democracy explained to them by anyone, let alone a "peace and conflict resolution major" from UC Berkeley.
Where does such an individual get a real job after graduation? The United Nations?
Torch The Nanny State
At first smack, it's easy enough to say, "there ought to be a law" to protect kids and teens against stuff like this:
In video games these days, you can strangle someone with a garrote ("Manhunt"), pop off an enemy's head in a shower of gore with a sniper shot ("Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy"), and direct a teenage girl to shotgun a demon dog ("Silent Hill 3").
Naturally, politicians can't help themselves: they want to legislate bans or restrictions on violent video games.
Here's what the long arm of the law CAN accomplish. Impressive, huh?
In Britain, the makers of the "Resident Evil" series were made to change the color of blood from red to green, while the creators of "Carmageddon" had to make the people you run over in your car look more like zombies than average pedestrians.
Efforts at restrictive video game legislation in the U.S. keep running into legal troubles. Yet who can doubt personal injury attorneys are watching this case with bated breath?
Among games' most vocal critics is Jack Thompson, a Florida lawyer who has tried, so far without success, to argue for acquittal of defendants in violent crime cases in which he believed that games made them do it.
Right. the killers were brainwashed. They're not responsible, nor their parents. No, it was Rockstar, Sony et al.
So-called children's advocates agitating for restrictions on video games are a bit less odious. But only a bit. They're actually working against the interests of impressionable kids and teens by letting parents off the hook. Parents need to be the content cops with video, Internet and entertainment.
And the stronger the values you impart while raising your children, the less policing you'll have to do once they have access to vile stuff. There are no toy guns in our house. No handheld video games. No cable television. There are lots of books, colored pencils and paper.
To impose a government role in monitroing video games for kids only sends a message parents can't or shouldn't take full responsibility.
July 03, 2004
NYT: Dangerous Books Bend Weak Minds Toward Bush
Careful! Books can make you boring, sanctimonious, malleable and politically incorrect, according to the New York Times. Sheesh. What evils must lurk in newspapers, then, too?
There's a new piety in the air: the self-congratulation of book lovers....To be a reader these days is to be a sterling member of society, a thoughtful and sensitive human being, a winner.
Good point. But then, while appropriately warning against substituting the judgement of books for your own observations, writer Cristinia Nehring just has to slip in some Bush bashing.
Perhaps the best lesson of books is not to venerate them -- or at least never to hold them in higher esteem than our own faculties, our own experience, our own peers, our own dialogues. Books are not the pure good that the festival crowds are sometimes told: you can learn anything from a book -- or nothing. You can learn to be a suicide bomber, a religious fanatic or, indeed, a Bush supporter as easily as you can learn to be tolerant, peace-loving and wise.
Or, indeed, yet another fatuous liberal essayist in the New York Times. I wonder if books did it to her.
July 02, 2004
Cosby Speech in Chicago Bollixes Hed Writers
Bill Cosby continues his right-on crusade about challenges facing some lower-income blacks, again sparking important dialogue between people of all races with frank comments to the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition yesterday in Chicago. He talked about domestic violence, illiteracy, education, career choices, incarceration, and teenage pregnancy. And no, Whitey's not to blame.
As after a similar Cosby speech to the NAACP in Washington D.C. in May, many in the media feel a need to pigeonhole Coz's tough love as inflammatory. What's different this time around, is more coverage right away, and, a bit more comprehension.
Not right here though: Associated Press writer Don Babwin's's piece began, "Bill Cosby went off on another tirade against the black community...."
Suitably cued, headline writers left and right are editorializing that Cosby "rips;" "berates;" "rails" against (LA Times, free reg. rqrd); "jabs;" "slams" (Toronto Star); "blasts;" or "has harsh words for" the black community (Newsday).
The LA Times and Newsday pieces are edited to the point of outright dishonesty, by removing parts from the very same AP feed which showed up in other papers. These sections underscored support from the audience and attending notables, such as long-time race-baiter and shakedown artist Rev. Jesse Jackson.
The less-censored AP version, which ran in the San Francisco Chronicle, noted Cosby's speech was...
"interrupted several times by applause," and that "Cosby appeared Thursday with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, founder and president of the education fund, who defended the entertainer's statements."
It gets interestinger. The AP's Babwin also filed an alternate version of the story, with a lead based on reporting, not misplaced editorializing. It ran in the Detroit Free Press, and a few other papers. Here's how it began:
Bill Cosby told a room of black activists Thursday that too many black men are beating their wives while their children run around not knowing how to read or write.
Nah, let's go with the "tirade" lead. The terror of most newspapers editors when confronted with honest talk about lower-class black social pathologies, is - of course - deeply racist.
So give extra credit to the Chicago Sun-Times: reporter Cheryl V. Jackson's story is the definitive one so far on Cosby's Chicago speech.
He strutted across the stage and gripped the hand of his fraternity brother, the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, then Dr. William H. Cosby Jr. held the entire room in his hands as he preached the tough love that has gained headlines -- and for which he offered no apologies.
This brief local reaction piece in the Boston Herald is also a refreshing alternative to the Cosby-as-bull-in-china-shop slant.
A lot of reactions (many from African-Americans) to Cosby's campaign in this Rosenblog string, Outtakes From Cosby's Speech to NAACP.
July 01, 2004
Who Will Turn the Screws on Khartoum?
Government of Sudan-backed Arab Muslim militiamen are systematically raping thousands of Sudanese black Muslim women they've driven from their homes, all the while denigrating their blackness.
Widespread, racially- and politically-motivated gang rapes are just one part of the ongoing tragedy in Sudan. As many as 30,000 black Muslims have been killed in recent months in Sudan's western Darfur region by Arab Muslim janjaweed militias. Another 1.2 million are homeless after brutal janjaweed raids and in dire need of relief and medicine.
They need security most of all, so they can return home, as U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell noted yesterday in a visit to Darfur.
But Powell's hope that the U.N. can help bring Sudan's murderous government into line is misplaced. Consider the U.N.'s past record, as outlined by Joe Mariani today at ChronWatch.
Sudan and Iraq both illustrate the need for a strong U.S. role in keeping the world safe for democracy, argues the National Business Review of New Zealand, in an editorial from tomorrow's edition.
It is a strange but true phenomenon that the commentariat -- that powerful worldwide body that professes to know more about running the world than elected politicians -- urges state intervention in a wide range of affairs, particularly business and tackling issues such as poverty, disease and global warming, But curiously they draw the line in foreign affairs.
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