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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.

"The frequency of ads [leading up to an election] is somewhere in the vicinity of four an hour during drive time. This is on urban contemporary radio stations, primarily. If you're white, you just have no idea how potent a medium this is."

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.

Republicans are cross-burners who want to put a semiautomatic in little Jamal's hands and take money way from little LaWanda's public school. For fun on weekends, Republicans drag black men to their death behind pickup trucks with Confederate flags attached to the rear bumper.

Republicans want to racially profile blacks, incarcerate them in high numbers and disenfranchise as many as possible. And so on.

....When Republicans do bother to respond, they turn to outlets like C-SPAN-2 and Fox News. This is like not responding at all.

Sounds to me like Nadler belongs in a room with top Bush campaign honchos, soon.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:50 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack



Viva La Revolucion

These guys at Black Commentator are channeling Fidel. And, compadres, have they got a plan.

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.

If we allow this window to close without taking decisive action, the evolving corporate “model” will crush or swallow every practical social mechanism of resistance. The fatal blow will come when the Black and Latino populations of America’s cities – the only potential mass base of opposition to corporate rule – are dispersed from the urban centers.

It is here, in the geography of the cities, that the line of resistance to the rule of the rich must be drawn. Therefore, we must take the offensive now, while Blacks and Latinos still represent urban majorities, and while the corporate schemes to co-opt and, ultimately, displace these populations are still fragmented and uncoordinated.

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:

We need no more than 20 very good people (the Team) to ignite an organized, mass rebellion of the soon-to-be dispossessed in America’s urban centers. The majority of the Team will not be white. All of them will have amassed a wealth of experience in their respective fields of expertise. They will be backed up by sections of organized labor and a host of activist organizations intimately involved with the problems they will face in the field. And, none of them will die.

We can do this.

The world waits with bated breath. I'll have some of what y'all are smokin,' too.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:40 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack



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."

This has some folks in Wales a bit exercised. And others still, back in the motherland.

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.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:47 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


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.

“This place was a big operation, because it had computers and even American uniforms and ski masks like those used in the Jihad terrorist videos,” a high ranking Major Crimes Unit officer said.

“We received information that this ‘foxhole for terrorists’ was there, so we put down a plan and raided them,” he said. “And by the grace of God, my men performed very well and professionally.

The Major Crimes Unit, instituted a little more than a year ago with Coalition assistance, is a police force unit specifically tasked with countering terrorism, kidnapping, organized crime and money laundering operations. The official reported that the terrorist operation was the largest it had taken down since operations began last summer.

In addition to the weapons and munitions recovery, a series of individual identifications was recovered. One individual was apprehended. All ordnance was turned over to Coalition forces for destruction. The investigation is still underway.

“I think it will improve security dramatically,” the official said, “and it gives us a morale boost to keep doing better.

“This is a big victory for the Iraqi police,” he said.

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.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 07:46 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack


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.

Saucier was furious that some citizens continued to think cops were racists, an instrument of The Man to hold down minorities. As far as he was concerned, racism on the force was nonexistent, and it was time for the public and anti-cop activists to give cops a break.

...Saucier was disturbed that budget cuts had reduced the number of officers working routine patrol to fewer than the cops on the street in 1973.

...I liked all of this straight talk from Saucier....then that damn accident....how unlucky we all were to lose someone public who went through life with so little concern for what the gatekeepers of society thought of him. Civic life in Seattle will be a lot less interesting.

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.

Cross-posted at Political State Report.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 07:57 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack



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.

And so we get Kerry the kitesurfer. Kerry the windsurfer.

Kerry riding a motorcycle onto the set of the "Tonight Show" (Jay Leno standing behind desk). Kerry hunting.

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.

Finally, there's Kerry the space bunny, thanks to inspired poster Marcus Alonzo Hanna at Free Republic.

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.

Cross-posted at Red State.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 07:56 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


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.

Cosby said:

“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.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:53 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack


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.

That’s not the way wars go. Wars are much slower and sloppier enterprises. Iraq is a very typical war and it’s been done well, but I wonder if the public understands or remembers anymore what a well-fought war is like.

I’ve been looking back at World War II recently and remembering, for instance, the Battle of the Bulge. In the Battle of the Bulge, American soldiers were sent to fight in waist-deep snow with no winter clothing, and I’m thinking to myself, “today, that would be reason to hang somebody. What commission is going to attack them for that?”

Look at Iwo Jima. I believe 7,000 men were killed at Iwo Jima. It's a four-mile by two-mile island in the middle of nowhere with no resources. I wonder, would we, in our contemporary worldview be able to look at that and say, "that’s a glorious triumph for the US Marine Corps," or would we say, "somebody’s got to be court-martialed over that screw-up?"

....If you treat a war like a Superbowl, where you blow the whistle, have your three hours and then blow the whistle and go home again, you’re going to be frustrated and disappointed because that’s not the way a difficult war gets prosecuted.

...There is this impression among a lot of these reporters that there was a bad postwar plan or there wasn’t any postwar plan. My experience with combat is that the plan goes out the window about five minutes after the fighting starts. That’s the way combat goes, and that’s the way combat always has gone. If you have this pointy-headed expectation that a war is something you can plan out in advance, write your thesis about and bring to a conclusion, you’re going to be disappointed.

Part of this impression is a reflection of the fact that so few reporters have any contact with military people or military life anymore. It didn’t used to be the case. It used to be that there was a lot of back-and-forth between the elite colleges that produce our top rank reporters today and the military. For example, seven hundred Harvard graduates died in World War II. There was not a Chinese wall that separated the world reporters came out of from the world soldiers came out of.

Today, unfortunately, that’s no longer the case. Most of the reporters I met in Iraq don’t have any friends at all who were in the military. They don’t have any Uncle Louie who served. They have no contact with the military whatever. They have very little knowledge of who military people are or what military responsibilities are, and that often leads them to unreasonable expectations and bad reporting.

So it’s a mixture of factors, but I think the first step is for the media to acknowledge that they’ve got a problem, that they’re not doing a very good job, that the public is recognizing the problem, and that they’ve got to figure out better ways to write about wars in the future.

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.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 02:03 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack



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.

But a century later, black America's main problem is neither overt racism nor subtle "societal" racism. Lifting blacks up no longer depends on getting whites off our necks. We are faced, rather, with the mundane tasks of teaching those "left behind" after the civil rights victory how to succeed in a complex society.

To be sure, racism still exists and must be stamped out. But it has been clearly and distinctly marginalized. And it is simply a fallacy to say that the only way people can achieve is when there is no bias whatsoever against them. The burgeoning of the black middle class has made it clear that societal racism doesn't condemn African Americans to failure.

Yet Mfume and the NAACP's anger-based politics imply that black success can be only accidental unless the playing field is completely level. Instead of insisting on that, they should be working on specific cures to specific ills: creating a culture of achievement among black students, addressing the AIDS crisis in black communities and fostering constructive relationships between police forces and residents of minority neighborhoods.

These real problems are being addressed, but not by the NAACP.

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.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:58 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack



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.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


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.

Sooner of later, Wrigley will indeed go the way of all mortal flesh. And then the politics will really start. I used to live a few blocks away, and on game nights, good luck finding a parking spot. (In case you're wondering, many North Side Chicago renters who eschew high-rises must depend on street parking because monthly garage costs can approach half-again your rent).

Parking problems and rowdy behavior of beered-up fans have both fed organized resistance from Wrigley-weary neighborhood groups. Adding to the carnival atmosphere, some cads in six-flats across the street from the park were selling seats on their roofs. Plus the stadium's small capacity must be an ongoing concern for the Tribune Corporation.

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.

When the White Sox destroyed Comiskey, they chose to build anew right next door. But I don't see that happening, when Wrigley's time comes.

Instead there may one day be a new suburban stadium for The Cubs, or, if the NIMBY protests are too great (as was the case with a proposed suburban facility for the White Sox in the 80s), maybe the Cubs will move to Fort Meyers. Or Phoenix, where there are more retired Chicagoans per capita than about anywhere else on earth. (Many are die-hard Cub fans, and the team holds spring training right next door in Scottsdale).

Just remember, you read it first at Rosenblog.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


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.

She was in Seattle last Friday raising money, her second visit in recent months, and her talents were on full display. With her soft, accented English and stream-of-consciousness style of public speaking, she again projected an unusual--and sometimes, frankly, strange--mix of European earthiness and American therapy-tinged confessionalism.

She combines, in one diminutive package, the hearth-and-home emotionalism of latte liberal motherhood with the unconscious paternalism of the mega-philanthropist. She would be the perfect first lady for Seattle, a town where new money comfortably supports communitarian liberal virtue. Had she been born in the Victorian era, she would no doubt be leading some sort of rich women's crusade to improve the hygiene of the poor or raise standards of sanitation in the slums.

Instead, as she imparted in a rambling, self-revelatory talk at a Kerry fundraiser in May, she is concerned with "broken cities." It is, she continued last week, "amazing, interesting, hard but hopeful work." This rhetorical style, of stringing together emotionally resonant adjectives, is a signature Heinz Kerry trait. Washington is a "progressive, thoughtful, beautiful state." It is important to be "enlightened, hopeful, persistent, and you have to believe in yourself." She talks of "wellness" and "safety."

She loves Seattle because of our beautiful trees, she said in May, a bizarre digression that prompted some of my male colleagues to speculate that she loves certain psychotropic plants as well. They openly worried that this sort of seemingly random, off-the-top-of-her-head wittering might harm the campaign.

My colleagues are right that Heinz Kerry can be weird, but they are wrong to see this as a liability. Women voters will tolerate a bit of strangeness from her, because they believe that the rich are not supposed to be like them, and because Heinz Kerry is always genuine, even when she is occasionally incoherent. She is living proof that in the American electoral process authenticity trumps logical consistency.

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.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:28 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


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...

Kerry-Edwards is yet another flagrant example of what liberals really think of blacks. To the Kerry-Edwards liberals, it is sufficient to show up on the church doorsteps, perform what amounts to a "Saturday Night Live" rendition of "The Old Rugged Cross" or "We Shall Overcome" while smiling and preening like Al Jolson without black face (my apologies to Jolson).

One cannot help but wonder when blacks will realize the only thing black about white liberals like Kerry and Edwards is their hearts. And the only thing they view blacks as being good for is a few million votes in election cycles.

Until their track record for appointing blacks to key national positions improves dramatically, it would be good for them to stop attacking conservatives....What have liberal Democrats done for blacks other than raise the misery index?

Once again the answer is zip, nadda, nothing, zilch – unless one counts delivering pre-packaged messages of inferiority as counting toward something positive.

...Kerry tells black church groups he will encourage their students to study math, science and technology by spending $100 million more of taxpayer's money on scholarships for college with large minority enrollments.

But he offers no insight into his plans to curb black-on-black crime, disproportionate illegitimacy rates, homes without fathers, etc. He offers no insight into the phenomena of black students purposefully failing so as not to be like "whitey."

...I submit the only evil perpetrated upon blinded blacks greater than crack cocaine, is liberal Democrats. Instead of treating minorities with the respect and encouragement they give their own children, they treat them as handicapped retards. And to their impassioned delight, it still works.

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.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:42 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


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.

But THIS is too much. Wrigley Field may be deconstructing, and not in the manner of Jaques Derrida or Michael Foucault, either. Ever the civic watchdog, Mayor Daley II is already on the case.

I tremble. What next?

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 07:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


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.

Boram said the timing of the release is coincidental and the decision of the publisher, Little, Brown.

Jim Keough, a local Republican political consultant, said, "One appearance on national TV will provide far more exposure than 20 'coffees' in your district will. He's in a very close race, and his campaign has not been raising a heck of a lot of money, but he doesn't need to.

"He already has high exposure. This will provide additional high exposure, just as the absentee ballots are being mailed out."

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.

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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.

...While criticizing Cain for having no voting record, Collins joined Cain in repeated attacks on Isakson over abortion. Cain and Collins picked up endorsements from pro-life groups for their “one-exception” stands approving of abortion only when the mother’s life is in danger. In contrast, Isakson also supported abortion in cases of rape and incest.

...Isakson...(noted)...his selection by Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., to chair the House debate that led to passage of legislation banning so-called “partial-birth” abortions.

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.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:25 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack



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.

Sumlin’s clean, sinewy, fills influenced a whole generation of electric guitarists listening to the classic Howlin’ Wolf tunes recorded in Chicago on Chess Records, such as "Built For Comfort,” “Shake For Me,” “300 Pounds of Joy,” “Louise,” “Goin’ Down Slow,” “Killing Floor,” and “Wang Dang Doodle."

Experience Hendrix had already earned my respect for unearthing rare, early-60s European TV footage of Sumlin live with the great blues songwriter Willie Dixon on acoustic bass and Sunnyland Slim on piano, on the recently released DVD, “The American Folk Blues Festival 1962-1966” (Volume Two).

Such a small, mostly acoustic trio, or modulated quartet is still what suits Sumlin’s understated style best. But his cohort Lane, a beefy, 50-ish guy in a faux Jimi outfit (broad-brimmed hat, suede boots with fringe) was determined to have his White Stratocaster heard all the way to Anchorage. Sumlin got a few licks in, including a delicious staccato-phrased, call-and-response solo that sounded like a woman scolding her lover. He said more in those 45 seconds than Lane did all night.

The tour producers should send Lane packing, right off, and get Mr. Sumlin some simpatico backing. This is a lousy way to treat a real-life legend.

Here is Mr. Lane's reply to me:

Hello Mr. Rosenberg.

Your review of my pairing with Mr. Hubert Sumlin was brought to my attention
by a few people, just recently. You were obviously not informed of some technical issues that went on that night...such as the changing of my amplifier at the last minute.

Mr. Sumlin and I have had a long history together..all of my life..as a matter of fact. I have recorded with him as well as mourned family deaths with him. I respect Hubert as a father and was not trying to blow him off stage. The stage techs set the new amplifier too loud. I was displeased...more than anyone there...with that.

You are indeed entitled to your opinion. But please be informed correctly in the future. Oh...by the way...I'm 39...not 50ish. Thanks and take care.

Mr. Jimmy D. Lane

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.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:37 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


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.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack



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.

...gangs have become fully integrated into Hispanic youth culture; even children not in gangs emulate their attitudes, dress, and self-presentation. The result is a community in thrall. Non-affiliated children fear traveling into unknown neighborhoods and sometimes drop out of school for lack of protection. Adults are just as scared.

...Upward mobility to the suburbs doesn’t necessarily break the allure of gang culture. An immigration agent reports that in the middle-class suburbs of southwest Miami, second- and third-generation Hispanic youths are perpetrating home invasions, robberies, battery, drug sales, and rape.

....Open-borders apologists dismiss the Hispanic crime threat by observing that black crime rates are even higher. True, but irrelevant: the black population is not growing, whereas Hispanic immigration is reaching virtually every part of the country, sometimes radically changing local demographics. With a felony arrest rate up to triple that of whites, Hispanics can dramatically raise community crime levels.

..On the final component of underclass behavior—school failure—Hispanics are in a class by themselves. No other group drops out in greater numbers.

....The constant inflow of barely literate recent Mexican arrivals unquestionably brings down Hispanic education levels. But later American-born generations don’t brighten the picture much....Santa Ana police officer Mona Ruiz recounts a joke told by comedian George Lopez: “When a white person graduates, people say, ‘You did good.’ When a Mexican graduates, people say, ‘You think you’re better than us.’ ”

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.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:01 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


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.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 01:28 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack



Raisin' Cain

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.

He has no delusions of appealing to masses of African American voters, saying he would expect to draw some support from black Democrats, but "no avalanche," if he pulls an upset over the front-runner, Rep. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), and makes it into the general election.

...Appealing to the mostly white, rural and small-town audiences that turn out for his speeches, Cain touts his opposition to abortion and his desire to abolish the Internal Revenue Service on damply humid courthouse squares, under century-old oaks, anywhere he can find someone who will listen.

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.

Cain, 58, has used polished television commercials to make abortion the signature issue in the campaign and to establish himself as the aggressor in the run-up to Tuesday's primary. As the primary season progresses, abortion is increasingly becoming a touchstone in races throughout the country.

In the mathematics of Republican politics in Georgia, the question is not whether candidates oppose abortion, but how to quantify how much they oppose it. Cain and Collins adhere to the one-exception rule, opposing abortion except when the health of the woman is in jeopardy. They pound Isakson for being a three-exception man, who also does not oppose abortions in cases of rape and incest.

...Cain rattles off statistics about high rates of abortion in the black population and high percentages of abortion clinics in predominantly African-American neighborhoods. In an interview on his campaign bus, Cain said he considers "plausible" a theory that the abortion rights group, Planned Parenthood, was formed to systematically lower the black population. "One of the motivations was killing black babies," he said, "because they didn't want to deal with the problems of illiteracy and poverty."

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.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:29 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack



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.

But Gonzalez said he was powerless to take action even though the teacher, Carlos Ignacio Loyda, was working another job and missed up to three-quarters of his classes some months. Loyda's position was protected by Mexico's powerful teachers union, Gonzalez said.

...A report by the World Economic Forum ranked the quality of education in Mexico 74th out of 102 nations surveyed, just behind Cameroon. The country's dismal marks contribute to lives of closed opportunities. Half of Mexico's population is trapped in poverty, illiteracy is endemic in rural areas, and the average child abandons school at 14. Success for millions of Mexicans means sneaking into the United States to mow lawns or pick apples.

There's more.

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.

....The relationship between the teachers union and the federal government has long been one of the commanding dramas of Mexican politics. During the 71-year rule of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, the union guaranteed the ruling party votes in exchange for a controlling interest in the education system.

Leticia Barba Martin, a professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico who ran a teachers college for 20 years, said the union "is a political force more than anything. It hurts education because it creates inertia and traditions that don't permit necessary changes."

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.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:00 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack



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.

"I am going to make you officially right now the terminators," Schwarzenegger said. "If they do not pass my budget, on Nov. 2, I want you to go out there and go after those Democratic legislators. They are obstructionists. ... Go out there, vote them out of office, vote them out of office and we'll put new faces in there."
Sunday marked the third straight day that Schwarzenegger traveled to legislative districts where Democrats' grasp is considered vulnerable, to build public support for his budget plans.

On Saturday, he angered Democrats by calling them "girlie men" because "they don't have the guts" to admit they are allied with "the unions, the trial lawyers" in the budget debate. The "girlie men" reference was borrowed from an old "Saturday Night Live" sketch spoofing him.

On Sunday, Assembly Republican leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield downplayed the comments.

"I think what the governor is saying is, you have to stand up to special interests. You cannot be wimps to special interests and you have to push back," he said. "The governor has a sense of humor and I think that's what he was doing."

Many at the Stockton rally said they came to see the governor for his movie-star fame, and brushed off the "girlie men" remark as lighthearted.

"I think it's funny," said Bruce Adams, 24, a political science student at California State University, Stanislaus. "There's too much political correctness in politics and sometimes you are going to offend people."

But Democrats still were not laughing at what they criticized Saturday as juvenile name-calling, offensive to women and gays.

"Certainly it's beneath this governor to be making such an outrageous and irresponsible, demeaning comment," Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, one of two lead Democrats negotiating the budget with Schwarzenegger, said Sunday.

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.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:07 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


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.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:17 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


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.

We started our trip with a ferry crossing to Vancouver Island and then a drive to the northern most tip of the island at Port Hardy. The scenery in the northern part of the Island is quite different than what you experience near Victoria.

The next morning we boarded the BC Ferries "Queen of Chilliwack" for a 13 hour, non stop, ferry ride to Bella Coola which is deep in a fjord of the west coast of British Columbia. This was a ferry ride unlike any I have ever been on. The Captain had no specific schedule for arrival in Bella Coola so we were off on a Killer Whale hunt, and were successful in seeing an entire pod, after a major diversion to find them. The Captain had been in conversation with a cruise liner and got the location of these whales.

After that the bridge was open for the rest of the trip and any who wanted to know how the ship was operated were encouraged to be on the bridge. This boat has no rudders!

The Captain then left the bridge to run the Bingo game!

Mid-afternoon we stopped the boat in mid-waters to let off some kayakers! All were invited to the car deck to see how they are able to launch kayaks from the car deck. The procedure was interesting, as the car deck is about 8 feet above sea level.

About supper time the Captain indicated to us that "at great personal expense" he had retained a humpback whale to do a performance for us and this he did! Breaching, tail flapping, side-flipper work were all part of the show.

We got into Bella Coola about 10:30 p.m. and went to the B&B that we had reserved.

Bella Coola was the closest town to the end of Alexander MacKenzie's epic trip across North America. 12 years prior to Lewis and Clark! The town is a great place to observe bears, both kind, and to learn of the history of the Norwegian settlers that came to the valley in 1895 and "recreated" a portion of Norway. They were actually from Minnesota.

We floated down about 20 miles of the Bella Coola River just as MacKenzie would have done in 1793. Great wildlife observations (bears).

This deep "U" shaped glacial valley had no road out of it until the middle 50s. The province wouldn't fund a road up a wall and so the town folks did it themselves! There's community spirit! The road up the "hill" is still gravel and gives your car a good test of its cooling system. Thirty-four miles of uphill, mostly 14% (grade) or better.

Once on top we stayed at a German guest ranch with some spectacular views of the Coast Range's mountains and glaciers.

Our final days were spent in Barkerville, once the second largest city west of the Mississippi. Only San Francisco was larger. The Gold Rush of 1862 brought many Californians to the Cariboo and Barkerville was the hub of this.

The downtown has never become a ghost town but has now been "restored" to what it was like during the Rush and staffed with actors that portray life in the times of the Rush.

For those of you with a history interest this is a place you have to see. Takes two days to do it right.

Just some thoughts for those looking for something that isn't in every travel book!

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.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:08 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


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?

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 03:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack



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.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 03:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack



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.

Rant off.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:25 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack



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.

The allegations include a staggering 50 cases of sex attacks on minors over the past year, carried out by Monuc, the United Nations mission to the DRC, in Bunia in the north-east.

Among the claims are:

'He ripped off my dress and made me do it with him;'

that young girls have been raped by mainly South African and Indian soldiers, who lured them with sweets;

that soldiers are running child prostitution and pornography rings;

that a South African colonel was sent home after being found guilty of molesting his young male interpreter. He had requested under-18 males to act as his interpreters since the start of the mission.

These scandalous acts have allegedly been going on for months without anything being done. Now the UN has sent a special team to the DRC to investigate the allegations.

....On June 8, a cablegram was sent from the Monuc office in Kinshasa to UN headquarters in New York. The message, a copy of which has been obtained by The Independent, details sexual abuses against minors allegedly carried out by Monuc troops in Bunia.

A week later, a second cablegram was sent, recording four more allegations and adding that special attention should be paid to the behaviour of South African Monuc troops in Kindu, Moroccan Monuc troops in Kinsangani and Monuc troops from Uruguay, Pakistan and Nepal.

On June 14, a UN team from the Office of Internal and Oversight Services arrived in Bunia to investigate allegations of sexual abuse of children. Their probe is "ongoing".

So far this year, 68 complaints against Monuc soldiers have been recorded.

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.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:37 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


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.

The underlying idea - and a tired one at that - is that Cosby ought to apologize for "airing dirty laundry." But he's not backing down an iota, and is drawing widespread support from blacks who really don't CARE what white folks say (could that be a form of liberation?)

Trentonian columnist L.A. Parker says:

...we need to get busy on numerous fronts, especially education.

Luckily, opportunity came my way via parents and family that helped uplift me and siblings out of poverty. We never went hungry. Went to church. Learned to read and write. We wore one another’s clothes and our sneakers cost more like $1.50 than $150. I’m probably sounding like an old geezer who starts every sentence with "back in the day.’’

...Being poor is no easy lifestyle. Staying poor is an invitation for all the crap those circumstances can produce. Drugs, crime, deplorable living conditions, serious health issues and depression are byproducts of poverty.

...Many of Cosby’s insights produced stinging truths and while others scramble to dispute his opinions I support most of them. Baggy pants that hang below the waistline may be a rite of passage for teens, but I don’t buy the explicit rap lyrics or videos that disrespect women or glorify violence.

The ‘N’ word thrown about like an incendiary bomb only adds to the deterioration of the fabric of our African-American culture.

I believe that black-on-black crime contributes to the blight of our existence. I believe that too many black men end up in prison rather than learning institutions. And I certainly believe that we can do better.

However, we arrived in whatever unhealthy or unproductive situation we currently live in, there is certainly a way out. The human spirit is a tremendous entity capable of resurrection from almost any dark place.

Escaping the throes of poverty is no easy task.

But life rarely is.

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.

''There have been statements made that all of us should have a responsibility that these children go to school, stay in school and learn while they are in school,'' said Frank Wallace, 83, from Forth Worth, Texas.

''There's a heck of a lot to be done with parents on the business of raising children.''

Irene Davidson, 13, agreed.

''Ignorance is an in thing with young African-Americans when the goal should be learning what you need to know to get through life,'' she said before the show. ''I just hope he speaks his mind. That's what I like about Bill Cosby — he's straight up.''

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:15 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack



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!

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:25 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack



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.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:47 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


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.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:39 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


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.

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



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.

...The Washington Growers League, which represents growers, packing houses and processors, could find no evidence of widespread sweeps to detain undocumented workers, said executive director Mike Gempler.

But there has been surprise over the more concentrated immigration-enforcement effort over the past few weeks, he said.

"I don't think that's been seen for some time," he said.

You don't say.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:44 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack



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.

On Saturday, July 17th at 11 a.m. at Emerald City Outreach Ministries, 7822 Rainier Avenue South, we will talk about how to reduce crime and prepare for emergencies. We will also talk about how we can help each other and create partnerships that build community and prevent crime.

I will be there with representatives from the police and fire departments, public utilities, and many other city agencies to answer your questions about public safety. Many of the challenges we face can only be solved by departments working together with the community in a collaborative approach. I hope you can be a part of the discussion. Thank you for everything you do to make Seattle such a wonderful place to live.

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.

Sincerely,

Matt

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:49 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack



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.

It is a sign of the times that parents in the Atlanta area are lining up this summer to send their children to Camp Jam...under the direction of Jeff Carlisi, former guitarist for the arena rock band 38 Special...

..Carlisi said..."...I have parents coming up to me and saying, 'I just want to thank you for what you've done for my child. You've changed them.' "

...The truth was, many of these campers looked like they would be more comfortable in Little League. The first time they were asked to stand onstage, said one instructor, some trembled.

That day, the counselors sat together and, in a single, intense hour, grouped them into bands. The rest of the week proceeded like a particularly loud psychology experiment.

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.

"A mulatto," he sang. "An albino/ A mosquito/ My libido."

Sorensen...and Josh were working on anger.

"Remember," she told him, "You're a rock star."

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.

Before the performance, he had warned her she might be shocked by what she would see in him that night.

"He said, 'Don't worry, Mom, I've learned a new song,' " Mary said. "And he asked, 'What's a libido?' "

Josh, Josh: that's Week Two.

Tip: Jack R. Payton.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:20 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


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."

Everyone who's quasi-literate, that is. For apostrophe abuse is a matter of international outrage (evident here, here, here and here).

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."

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 01:30 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack



Laissez-Faire Losers

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.

...The mother, who was travelling with her baby...suggested that a young man seated near her in the train could be of help.

...France was stunned by news of the attack. The brutality of the aggression, its anti-Semitic character and the fact that no one came to the mother’s rescue.

...The woman, with her 13-month-old baby in a stroller, was attacked in a suburban train north of Paris around 9:30 a.m. on Friday, by six young men who, according to press reports, appeared to be of African and North African origin. Some wielded knives.

According to police, the gang, described by the victim as between 15 and 20, grabbed the woman’s backpack, taking her money and credit cards. When they saw that her identification card said she lived in the 16th district of Paris, they told the woman: “There are only Jews in the 16th.”

Police said the suspects then cut off locks of the woman’s hair, opened her shirt with their knives and used markers to draw three swastikas on her stomach.

Guedj said that, according to the young woman, about 20 people in the train were “capable of seeing” what was happening.

Another stain on the soul of a nation in grave moral and spiritual decline.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:34 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack



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.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:05 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


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.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 07:59 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


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.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:33 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack



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.

All three Democrats describe themselves as "pro-choice"...(but) Ross also has voiced support for measures requiring parents to consent to an under-age daughter getting an abortion. He also said it should be illegal under some circumstances to take a girl to another state to evade state consent laws. A bill now in Congress would bar such cross-border trips.

Because of those stands, the Washington chapter of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), calls Ross' position "mixed."

...The other two Democrats condemned such measures as an encroachment on women's rights to decide whether to have an abortion.

"Parental notification is simply a method to reduce women's reproductive health choices," Alben said at Tuesday's debate.

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?"

Alben also won the endorsement from the political arm of the abortion-rights group Planned Parenthood. Ross did not return a questionnaire from that group, said a spokeswoman.

Ross said that while he considered himself "pro-choice," he didn't feel compelled to agree entirely with the agendas of interest groups.

"I rarely line up 100 percent behind any one group because I'm not a robot," he said.

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.

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


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.

Hanson's piece is in collaboration with the National Review Online. Tip via dadblogger.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 01:38 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack



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."

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack



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.

Much of the media is buying into the anniversary hype. Rolling Stone just released a special issue devoted to the musical milestone. So did England's respected Q Magazine. Even TV Guide includes a CD of "That's All Right" in its latest issue.

But something's not all right about this.

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.' "

Yes, M'am.

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.

Also crucial in my book: Johnny "Guitar" Watson, who melded jump blues with early electric guitar pyrotechnics, and carried the Houston blues-rock sound to L.A. Guitar Slim is another seminal figure.

You want to go back a step, try some Robert Nighthawk, Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup, Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters. We'll leave Robert Johnson, Mississippi Fred McDowell and Big Maceo for another time.

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?

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:41 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


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.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:05 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack



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.

After getting students to talk about their greatest fears, the guest instructor and three ad agency colleagues hand out the assignments. These include instructing students to, variously, run naked through a golf course; try to torpedo a wedding when the officiator asks if anyone objects; convince your parents you're gay; play Twister with a trucker; and interview for a job as a stripper.

Now, an even taller tale. What you just read isn't fiction, but reality...

Read the whole thing.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:26 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


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.

...India has the largest number of people living with HIV outside South Africa –5.1 million. But knowledge about the virus and its transmission is still scant and incomplete, and there is concern that many men who have sex with men may be infecting women with whom they also have sex.

..Sub-Saharan Africa is home to just over 10% of the world’s population – and almost two-thirds of all people living with HIV.

..in much of (North Africa and the Middle East) HIV infection appears concentrated among (injecting drug users). There is also concern that HIV may be spreading undetected among men who have sex with men, as male-male sex is widely condemned and illegal in many places.

Eastern Europe and Central Asia continue to have expanding epidemics, fueled by injecting drug use.

..(In) Latin America...the epidemic is concentrated among populations at high risk of HIV infection – injecting drug users and men who have sex with men.

...In Central America, HIV is spread predominantly through sex – both heterosexual and among men who have sex with men.

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."

"...In the black community despite the tremendous amount of homosexuals, a great percentage openly will not admit that they are gay. In fact, they will argue with you and do or say what ever to prove the contrary. Because "we" as black men forever must impose our masculinity and toughness, ...when feelings of homosexuality do arise we hide them deep."

"Though I do not condone homosexuality in the least bit, I realize that in order to aid this growing threat we must (address) the issue. Just about every case of AIDS in black women, if not all, (aside from drug needles) come from their significant other who leads or has led a double life."

"Men, be faithful to your wives! ...women stop sleeping with these good for nothing men who think sagging (clothes) and bandannas are a part of being black. Whether he considers a suit or a tank top to be appropriate for his daily attire you don't need him if he doesn't want you as his wife, or (doesn't want to) see you fit. ....And please, if you don't care enough about yourself and the future of our race, wear a condom. Being passive is past tense, it's history! Assertion in every aspect is our only means of survival!"

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 03:09 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


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?

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 07:55 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack



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").

Not to mention beat up prostitutes, run down pedestrians, bathe in the blood of your enemies and curse like a lobster boat captain who's stubbed his toe.

...The next 12 months could see a flurry of new scrutiny of violent games because three controversial franchises are due to release sequels. They include "Doom," notorious as a favorite of the Columbine killers; "Mortal Kombat," with its calls for a player to "finish" opponents in myriad gruesome ways; and "Grand Theft Auto," which exhorted players in its latest iteration to start a Cuban-Haitian race war.

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.

"There's a culpability here that should be shared by those who are training kids to kill," Thompson said.

Thompson is part of a $246 million case filed last year that accuses Rockstar Games, Sony Entertainment and other companies of causing two teenage stepbrothers to shoot and kill a motorist, and wound another, in Tennessee last year. The boys, who pleaded guilty to reckless homicide, reckless endangerment and aggravated assault, told authorities they were inspired by the "Grand Theft Auto" series; Thompson and another lawyer are suing on behalf of the victims.

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.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:10 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


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.

Without the consensus of large parts of the public on this point, a film like Mark Moskowitz's diminutive documentary, ''Stone Reader,'' could never have provoked the hosannas it has, much less made it into the aisles of Blockbuster.

...The fact is Moskowitz has nothing whatever to say about the books he fondles in shot after lingering shot. It's not about the contents of the books. It's about their fetishization.

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.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


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."

"Bill is saying let's fight the right fight, let's level the playing field," Jackson said. "Drunk people can't do that. Illiterate people can't do that."

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.

Cosby took his chair on stage Thursday morning to talk about his passion -- education -- and the importance of parenting.

"I can talk for 12 hours on this and not have a collection," Cosby joked with Jackson.

....On Thursday, the signs were all around that he didn't need to offer any regrets -- from the standing ovation from the full ballroom to the large piece of cardboard one man carried with the words spelled out in glitter: "Bill Cosby . . . You Don't Need to Apologize."

...Some who were angered by his May remarks had accused Cosby of letting racist institutions off the hook for their roles in high dropout and imprisonment rates among blacks.

But the Rainbow/PUSH crowd offered only support, with a chorus of "Amens" and "Uh-huhs" and bursts of applause.

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.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:43 PM | Comments (19) | TrackBack


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.

Nowhere is this more blatantly the case than in the Bush administration's doctrine of pre-emption against terrorism. The overthrow and capture of Saddam Hussein in Iraq has boosted the commentariat's claims to greater wisdom. Every headline has become, it hopes, another nail in the coffin of George W Bush's re-election chances.

..The American invasion of Iraq (underscores) the consequences of inaction. The examples of Rwanda, Bosnia and Sudan are just some that highlight the need for an effective world policeman committed to the prevention of ethnic cleansing and mass human tragedies.

For a variety of reasons, the UN is unable to fulfil this role. Intervention in the Sudan is prevented because of opposition from two Muslim members of the Security Council, Pakistan and Algeria. Only the US, for all its faults, is capable of keeping the world safe for democracy.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:04 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack