August 20, 2004

Bush Pulling Close in CA

National polls on Kerry vs. Bush are fairly worthless, because it is a series of winner-take-all state votes - and the resulting electoral votes from each state - which determine who wins the presidency. States with larger populations, and thus more electoral votes, are the real prizes. One of the biggest is California, thought to be a Kerry stronghold.

Not if a poll done this week by SurveyUSA is any indication. The survey of 589 likely voters (a far better measure than registered voters) shows Kerry with 49 percent, Bush 46, other 3, undecided 3. Margin of error: plus or minus 4.1 percent.

Bush leads by 11 percent among men, by 21 points in the Central Valley, 23 points in the Inland Empire; Kerry by 16 percent among women, 25 points in the San Francisco Bay Area, and 16 in greater Los Angeles.

FYI, SurveyUSA is a highly-regarded non-partisan outfit which does NOT include political campaigns among its clients. SurveyUSA's public opinion work is done for major- and mid-size-market TV stations.

So......Bush within three points (give or take) in California.


Hat tip to Mike Krempasky at Red State.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:30 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 19, 2004

The New Hispanic Math

The University of Arizona has been awarded a $10 million federal grant to come up with more culturally-sensitive math instruction for Hispanic students.

A gentleman at AU named, ah, Marx says the way U.S. schools teach math and other subjects favors the linguistically-privileged.

"Historically the dominant culture of the country has been western European and English. Curriculum materials reflect (those) cultural patterns, which isn't good or bad, it just means that kids from those kinds of backgrounds tend to have more advantages because the content and the way it is delivered matches the way their culture represents the world and what they learn at home," (UA College of Education Dean, Ron) Marx said.

Yes, U.S. culture and schools do tend to "represent the world" in the English language. I had not previously understood how riven this is with socio-political meaning, and bias. Thanks to Marx, I am now re-educated.

It seems clear: we've already got a hugely-expanding Spanish-speaking immigrant population, many of whom have no interest whatever in learning English, and no need. There's Univision, ATM and voice mail instructions in Spanish; plus bilingual classes in our public schools so Hispanic kids can put off learning to really read and write - and compute - in English for years on end. Why not a new push for more-Spanish-centric math teaching then, too?

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:16 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Dangerous Dino

The likely Republican nominee for Governor of Washington, Dino Rossi, is actually a slick huckster whose carefully-manicured image as a likeable suburban moderate - and experienced state legislator - masks an extremist conservative soul.

At least, so writes Sandeep Kaushik in Seattle's funky alternative weekly, The Stranger.

A lot of things about Rossi give Kaushik indigestion. Here are several. Hold on tight, and have the Maalox handy.

*Rossi doesn't believe it's government's job to "curb the social dislocations caused by the hard realities of capitalism." (Damn, he's not a socialist. Yep, that could sure cost him votes aplenty in the fertile suburban crescent).

*Rossi stands for traditional values. (Another killer. Um, at least in the GOP stronghold of Seattle).

*Rossi's for law and order (when in fact, lawless disorder is so much better; a la WTO '99, and our '01 Mardi Gras riots).

*He believes in "black and white delineations of right and wrong." (There goes the deconstructionist vote).

*He's opposed to abortion, with just a few exceptions. (Like some Democrats, are too. This is a deeply personal issue, and the politically savvy Rossi - if he does manage to get elected - might sign a parental notification law affecting minors seeking an abortion, in the unlikely event GOP legislators were actually cut loose to vote their consciences on this one. But he'd not go much further. Besides, Roe v. Wade is a federal matter).

*He's against "affirmative action." (Unlike more sophisticated "progressive" liberal white Democrats, who understand that blacks can't compete in school or the workplace without preferential treatment).

*He admitted, in front of what had up to that point been a positively-disposed bunch of UW law professors, to actually reading Ann Coulter's "Treason." This dismayed them greatly. (There goes the UW law professor vote).

He doesn't believe in government as a jobs creator. (Hasn't he heard about "the social dislocations caused by the hard realities of capitalism?").

This is the best the Washington state Democratic spin machine can come up with. No wonder liberal Seattle-Post Intelligencer columnist Joel Connelly writes:

Democratic strategists claim confidently they will blow Rossi out of the water. They've yet to lay a glove on the guy.

Kaushik sounds the alarm well enough for worried liberals, writing that Rossi has "John Edwards star power," a "1,000 watt smile," and "is for real." And there's this: Rossi outpolled both Democrats in a recent, independent poll by Elway Research, and was within six points of their combined total.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 03:42 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

August 18, 2004

Jerry Brown's Oakland: A Work In Progress

By most accounts, former Democratic California Governor and three-time presidential candidate Jerry Brown has been a forceful mayor of ever-troubled Oakland since his election in 1998.

But it's a tough job, and now, prompted by term limits, Brown is making for the exit, already beginning his run for California Attorney General in 2006. Meanwhile, Oakland is still grappling with big challenges. Crime, quality-of-life, and economic development, to name but a few.

Despite the occasional off-topic mayoral lapse - here, and here - into his past "Governor Moonbeam" persona, the Yale Law-degreed spirit-seeker who lived in a commune and once dated Linda Ronstadt has made things happen.

Downtown revitalization is underway. Voters approved added library funding, and made permanent a strong-mayor form of government. Brown successfully pushed for a military-style charter school. He also shook up city government without flinching, and even cashiered an eccentric, long-time aide.

Some of of Brown's initiatives have carried a whiff of desperation. Or would that be, creativity? One tentative proposal for an in-town casino near the airport, appears likely to be trumped, with news today of a proposed mega-casino in San Pablo, 15 minutes northeast of Oakland. Perhaps the huge mixed-use development would bring some spin-off spending to Oakland, but the proposed deal would also bar any competing casino facility within 35 miles.

Brown's biggest downtown plans are a $61 million developer "incentive" for 1,000 dwellings, some retail and a park. But I guess if the Berkeley Daily Planet says it's an injustice, a cynical giveaway to curry favor with political donors, then there's probably some merit to it.

Another piece of the puzzle is crime-fighting. Voters this fall will decide whether to fund 63 more cops, who might bring a bit more peace to Oakland's deadly streets. A ballot measure targeting street violence failed in March; the emphasis was on social programs.

There's also a new anti-murder ad campaign on billboards and at bus shelters, showing a grieving family around a coffin.

Sometimes, you get the feeling nobody really gives a damn in Oakland, writes John Fall in the Sunday San Francisco Chronicle. He volunteers in Oakland's Peralta Hacienda Historical Park, which he describes as "a microcosm of Oakland and of the problems seemingly endemic to large swaths of the city."

Drug deals, mean glares, drug use, truant teens, crack addicts, a spray-painted path, trash cans "burned into melted hunks," discarded old appliances, household junk, broken glass, picnic refuse, used condoms and diapers: that's what Fall sees in Peralta Hacienda Historical Park. He offers:

This is the physical and mental state of Oakland. Having lived in the far northern, forgotten reaches of Manhattan in the mid-1980s, I can attest that the situation in Oakland today is worse. In New York City, most citizens wanted their city to be livable, habitable and friendly. Now, it is all of those things. There is little of the same desire here, and without a majority working toward a better city, one will not materialize.

Fixing a city's many "broken windows" means other things get fixed too, as Rudy Giuliani understood. Researchers reported at an American Psychological Association convention that their study of students at three Oakland middle schools suggests the children of parents less interested in "community belonging" were more likely to engage in delinquent behavior and contemplate suicide.

Sometimes what sounds like community belonging isn't. Some so-called reformers in Oakland are more interested in raiding their non-profit's cookie jar than in making things better. Such as the police watchdog group.

Yet even growing up amidst dysfunction, some Oakland kids make it out - whole, and clearly on the path to success. This impressive young man sounds like he might even want to return one day, because it's home, after all.

But what kind of home? As John Fall says, "without a majority working toward a better city, one will not materialize." The next mayor of Oakland must be a charismatic leader who stresses that community development isn't just bricks and mortar; it's also rooted in the power of the individual. A person somewhat like Brown, but more focused.

So, ah, Rudy, listen, after this Mexico City thing.......

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 07:52 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 16, 2004

Berkeley Voters To Weigh In On Legalizing Prostitution In City, State

It really IS time to divide California in two; or probably, three. The swath from Santa Cruz way north up the coast to Arcata - and the patch jutting across the San Francisco Bay to Berkeley - should be joined together in the new state of Nutopia.

I say this for many reasons. Such as: The Sex Workers Outreach Project has placed an advisory initiative on the November ballot in Berkeley urging the city "repeal" local laws against prostitution and "support efforts toward the statewide repeal of prostitution laws."

Measure 10, also known as Angel's Initiative, stems from concerns about crimes committed against prostititutes. SWOP argues that because hookers fear prosecution for their illegal work, they are scared to come forward to police if they are victims of a crime themselves.

The Measure also asserts that ".....the State of California, and the City of Berkeley face a severe financial crisis, and should not allocate precious resources for the senseless enforcement of victimless crimes."

Some Berkeley residents - although unfortunately perhaps a minority - are more concerned with the social costs of prostitution in their neighborhoods, and want to see more enforcement, rather than less or none. Here's columnist Chip Johnson in today's San Francisco Chronicle.

As noble an undertaking as it sounds, the prospect of unpoliced street prostitution along the San Pablo Avenue corridor...scares the socks right off West Berkeley residents already dealing with a steady wave of libido-driven street activities.

...And while it may come as no surprise to most people, except perhaps... (Berkeley Commission On The Status of Women) members, the neighborhood residents who already navigate past rocking cars and working girls think it's a really bad idea.

Even when activity is light, there is...the residuals of prostitution activity: Syringes and condoms litter the sidewalk, and the remnants of smashed liquor bottles are strewn across the neighborhood -- not a good environment for a neighborhood that hosts a school for deaf children.

...(One resident says) "if the city becomes known as prostitute-friendly, Berkeley is going to have a big problem on its hands, and it's going to be right in the middle of our neighborhood.''

Tax-paying homeowners increasingly come last in urban Blue America. This attempt to enshrine - at their expense - the streetwalker "victims" of Berkeley, is only one example.

Prostitution is a stupid personal choice, undoubtedly made after a series of other stupid personal choices. Anyone who enters the trade understands the trade-offs: potentially high earnings, and uh, "flexible" working conditions; versus the possible consequences of criminal activity, plus exposure to assorted thiefs, batterers and serial killers.

The Sex Workers Outreach Project is treating the symptoms of poor choices by the parents of women who got into the sex trade, and by the women themselves. If SWOP really cares about prostitutes, it should dissolve and redirect its resources toward grassroots advocacy stressing the importance of birth control, education and parenting.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:37 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 14, 2004

Anti-Kerry Ads on Black Radio

Recently, I blogged a Jason Riley Opinion Journal piece suggesting Republicans need to fight years of negative political ads on major market black radio.

The WaPo reports an independent political committee is doing just that, targeting John Kerry's campaign for President. And it turns out school choice is actually at the root of it.

First, though, The Post wants us to be appalled that:

...The D.C.-based group, People of Color United, has substantial financial backing from J. Patrick Rooney, the former chairman of Golden Rule Insurance Co. and the founder of a new firm, Medical Savings Insurance Co. Both firms specialize in medical savings accounts, created by Republican-backed 1996 legislation, and health savings accounts, which were created by President Bush's 2003 Medicare prescription drug legislation.

One of the radio ads addresses Kerry's failure to vote on a bill to extend unemployment benefits for 13 weeks: "It needed 60 votes to pass. Ninety-nine out of 100 senators voted -- Kerry did not! It lost by one vote! Maybe Kerry thought the more of us who are unemployed and hurting, the more likely we would vote Democrat."

Another ad attacks Teresa Heinz Kerry, who, at the Democratic convention last month cited her birth and upbringing in Mozambique and who has described herself as African American. In the radio commercial, the announcer says: "His wife says she's an African American. While technically true, I don't believe a white woman, raised in Africa, surrounded by servants, qualifies."

....Rooney....gave $30,000 for People of Color United's radio ads that are being aired in Cleveland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Kansas City and other urban areas with large minority populations.

Down a ways in the story, the Post finally gets close to the real heart of the piece: school choice is a serious concern to a growing segment of the black community, and Democrats, including Kerry, have yet to demonstrate Bush's huge commitment in that area.

In all, the group has spent $70,000 to buy air time on black radio stations for ads designed to undermine African American support for the Democratic presidential nominee, according to Virginia Walden-Ford, a Republican advocate of school vouchers who runs People of Color United. She described Rooney as the largest donor, adding that her group has received other "smaller contributions."

Walden-Ford said she was disturbed by conversations with people in the black community who said they plan to vote for the Democratic ticket "because we [African Americans] are Democrats. I think that is a bad way to vote. I want people to be informed."

Rooney, she said, has been an active supporter of her efforts to create a school voucher program in the nation's capital. "Pat is a good friend, an ally in the school choice effort," she said.

I hope to hear about more such independent, Bush-friendly ads on black and Hispanic radio and TV, especially in swing states.

Via Americans Against Discrimination and Preferences. Check out their blog, Right on Race, too.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 13, 2004

Judge Rules Against Monorail Recall Initiative

A King County judge has declared illegal the initiative for a recall vote on the voter-approved Seattle monorail project. The Seattle Times reports:

The measure, which has collected enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot, seeks to block construction of a new monorail on city streets and sidewalks.

Gonzalez found that the I-83 campaign was an attempt to have what he called a revote or an "end run" after voters narrowly approved the 14-mile Green Line two years ago.

The judge said the initiative would also violate the state Growth Management Act because the monorail is considered an "essential public facility" under other state legislation and is therefore not subject to repeal now by a voter initiative.

Attorneys for the opposition to the monorail are discussing whether and how to appeal the ruling.

They'll appeal, but they're not very appealing.

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CBO Study: Even After Bush Tax Cuts, The Rich Are Still Getting Soaked

Big Media is all over a newly-released Congressional Budget Office study, and the spin is - of course - that with his tax cuts, Bush has been sucking the toes of billionaires and stiffing Joe Lunchbucket.

I'd like to say they're cherry picking a few damaging facts, but I don't want to give cherry pickers a bad name. This stuff is practically criminal.

The New York Times article today - which of course sets the tone for Reuters, CNN and dozens more - pays no heed to the main finding of the study: that under current law, the highest-earning American households are paying, and will continue to pay, a dramatically larger share of federal income taxes than the lower-earning quintiles.

The Times instead comes up with these laughable criticisms, none daring to address which income-sectors of households (there are five such groups in the study) are paying what proportion of federal income taxes. Again, that was the central point of the study. The Times is reduced to bemoaning that:

*One-third of tax cuts benefit the richest 1 percent of households;

*the richest 1 percent of households got a much larger tax breaks than those in the middle 20 percent;

*Two-thirds of the benefits from the '01 and '03 tax cuts went to households in the top-earning quintile (top 20 percent).

Which leads to the Times' assessment that "the calculations...confirm the long-held view by independent tax analysts that the tax cuts, enacted in 2001 and 2003, have heavily favored the wealthiest tax payers."

At least the paper also notes in passing that the wealthiest taxpayers "pay a disproportionate share of federal income taxes." So why not include some numbers (see below). A hint is where the Times story is placed, in today's online version: the "campaign" section.

UPDATE: As you'll see in this post's comment section, U.S. Census data indicate that the share of income earned by higher-earning households is significantly exceeded by their relative share of federal income tax revenues paid.

It's great the CBO study is a "campaign" issue as the Times indicates. But the paper's "reporters" belong in the stands, reporting the thrust of the study's findings, not on the playing field peddling marginalia as damning truth.

Editorialists and opinion writers get more latitude, but also have a responsibility to report on the central thrust of the study (relative income tax burden after Bush's tax cuts) and explain why, if they believe so, it is somehow less important than the statistical effluvia being extracted from today's new CBO study to bash Bush.

By failing to include study data on relative tax burden by household income (which we relate below, as summarized by staff at the Joint Economic Committee), the Times reveals once again, a strident anti-Bush bias.

Which suits Reuters just fine of course, as it parrots The Times' money quote, some of the data, and throws in more trivia, like this:

*a middle-earning quintile of households actually saw their taxes increase this year.

Ooomph! I'd be just about ready to chomp the long-neck off my bottle of Rolling Rock (Latrobe, PA) right now, if I didn't know better. So, please - to another view.

The CBO Study is titled, "Effective Federal Tax Rates Under Current Law, 2001 to 2014." Here's the link (pdf). And here's what policy analyst Sean Davis of the (House-Senate) Joint Economic Committee says about its findings.

"A new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report produced at the request of Congressional Democrats confirms that tax cuts since 2001 increased the share of federal income taxes paid by the highest earners while decreasing the tax share of lower- and middle-income groups. The CBO analysis...shows that the income tax remains highly progressive, with the top 5 percent of earners paying more than half of all federal income taxes.

As a result of the tax cuts since 2001, all taxpayers face lower effective federal income tax rates than they would have without the tax cuts.

While many characterize the CBO report as evidence that the tax cuts shifted the burden of taxation to the middle class, CBO data show precisely the opposite effect. The tax cuts actually made the tax system more progressive. The highest 20 percent of earners now pay a larger share of federal income taxes than they would have without the tax cuts, while the share of income taxes paid by all other income groups fell.

The overwhelming majority of federal income taxes are paid by the very highest income earners. The top 1% of income earners pays 31.6% of all income taxes, the top 5% pays 51.4%, the top 10% pays 63.5%, and the top 20% of income earners pays 78.4% of all federal income taxes. The bottom four-fifths of income earners pay just over one-fifth of all federal income taxes.

Some analysts cite total effective federal tax rates, as opposed to effective income tax rates, as the best measure of the effects of the tax cuts across income groups. This method can be misleading because it measures the burden of payroll taxes without accounting for the highly progressive Social Security and Medicare benefits to which payroll taxes are linked."

Maybe Bigfoot Media types should call Mr. Davis, and put the real story in the Sunday news, not Saturday's. His phone number is 202-224-5334.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:19 AM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

August 12, 2004

Can A Gay Politician Still Oppose Gay Marriage?

The question cuts to the core of free inquiry, it seems to me.

Ahead of an anticipated sexual harrasssment lawsuit from a former male subordinate, the anti-gay-marriage Governor of New Jersey, James E. McGreevy, has resigned from office.

The married-with-kids Democrat was not only reportedly facing a (same-sex) harrassment suit, but also acknowledged having had a sexual relationship with a man.

According to the MSNBC story linked above, he said he feared his sexuality and his violation of matrimonial bonds left his office vulnerable.

That remark seems a barely-coded reference to gay marriage activists who - had he stayed in office and rode out the suit, certainly an option - presumably would have tarred him as a hypocritical closeted gay against gay marriage for political reasons.

Yet a hugely discordant note is McGreevy's claim that "I am removing the threats by telling you about my sexuality." Huh? If he truly felt the threat was removed, then why resign? Simply because of committing adultery? Hard to believe in this post-Clinton era.

McGreevy, who signed a state domestic partnership law for same-sex couples, now becomes a willing victim of the pro-gay-marriage political McCarthy-ites, the same folk who've derived glee from the online campaign to "out" gay Republican staffers on Capitol Hill.

What rational individual could buy into the retrograde view that opposition to gay marriage betrays either hypocrisy (if you're gay), or bigotry (if you're straight).

If this is in fact what's going on, McGreevy should not have bowed to the gay marriage activists who would have used that club against him. The fact that he was a closeted gay, and an adulterer, does not mean his opposition to gay marriage could not have stood - and in fact did not stand - on firm principle.

Apparently, McGreevy lacked the fortitude to rebut the arguement. Or is he really admitting his stance against gay marriage was just a political ploy to help him stay in office? In that case, maybe New Jersey really needs a gay Libertarian for governor.

Perhaps instead, his resignation is an early exit strategy because there's even worse stuff coming out, that might tie him more closely than before to a developing corruption scandal in his office.

I almost hope so, because so far, this doesn't quite add up.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 02:41 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Adopt a Roo

Since I alerted readers to the drought-crazed, starving kangaroos wreaking havoc in the vicinity of Canberra, Australia, you've all doubtless been awaiting an update.

So here it is.

Hired hitmen have completed the "cull" of 800 roos at Googong Dam successfully, protestors notwithstanding.

Good job, lads.

The marsupials had been snarfing up grass, mucking about, and causing major soil erosion right into the dam, polluting the water supply for Canberra. They'd been reported behaving aggressively toward people and pets, as well.

And reports of rampaging roos persist. One drowned a dog, a second "savaged" a woman, and a third attacked another victim, although her dog gets some of the blame.

It seems domesticated roos are far more loving toward humans, and will even save their lives, as this story indicates. Perhaps if the drought continues, more Aussies should consider adopting roos. You'd need a large yard, huh?

I want to know, where exactly are the protestors of the cull near Googong Dam on this? If they don't want roos overrunning the suburbs of Canberra, why don't they each take one home?

Only problem: roos are up to five-and-a half-feet tall and can weigh as much as 154 pounds. Could get expensive to feed 'em, especially with a few teenagers in the house already. Then again, animal rights protestors don't usually have children, do they?

Anyway, I guess I'm lucky. Here in the wilds of West Seattle, we've got occasional racoons and wasps, but that's about it, as far as unwelcome critters go.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 01:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Oregon Public Schools Under Fire

Two hundred Oregon schools are failing to achieve adequate yearly progress in standardized test scores, as mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The state is one of a very few that overall isn't showing overall progress, according to today's Oregonian.

Unlike many other states, Oregon saw its schools do worse this year against the federal standards. Educators blamed budget cuts, which led to the largest class sizes in a generation in the 2003-04 school year, in part for the sagging achievement.

Among high schools, ratings plummeted. One-quarter of the state's high schools got a clean bill of health this year compared with more than 40 percent last year.

The school ratings come a week after state test scores showed stubbornly low reading and math achievement in high schools.

"Here we are getting another report that shows us we have work to do," Oregon Schools Superintendent Susan Castillo said. "We have some serious concerns about what is happening in our high schools. We need to dive into this data and learn everything we can from it so that we can work differently."

Some schools are on the list not because of widespread problems, but instead, for low performance among, or failing to test, a relatively small sub-set of students.

Public school defenders also point to Oregon's chronic problems with school funding, and resulting larger class sizes, as a major factor. I'd hazard to predict that winning trust and an infusion of new state funding for K-12 education from cantankerous Oregon voters will require better results first, and even then might be a tough sale.

Saying it's impossible without more money is: a) false, and b) will alienate voters further.

And the NCLB-driven accountability push will only intensify.

Supporters of the law say it is important to hold schools accountable for the performance of all their students rather than rely on averages. Too many schools have exempted many students from achievement tests or hid the low performance of some groups of students behind a schoolwide average, they say.

....In general, to hit the performance targets, Oregon schools must get 39 percent of students to pass state math tests and 40 percent to pass reading and writing tests, both schoolwide and for minority, low-income, special education and limited-English students. They are given leeway -- with the passing targets as low as 20 percent -- depending on the number of students in a group.

The federal law, derided as underfunded and unfair by most teacher groups, is not going away, said (director of the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Education Policy, Jack) Jennings, whose center has closely monitored the impact of No Child Left Behind.

The law's popularity has been bolstered by the rising test scores and school ratings this year in many other states, he said. The higher ratings in those states result partly from improvements in achievement due to teachers' hard work....Jennings said.

The performance targets currently allow 60 percent, and in some cases, up to 80 percent of students to fail while the school is still given a passing grade. The slow phase-in of higher performance targets is more than reasonable. It's up to parents of low-performing students to crack the whip. No excuses.

Parents: Remember them?

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 07:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

LOL, #1

I wonder what public school this poor guy attended.

Hat tip: Charlie Hoff.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 06:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 11, 2004

Khouri: Arab Malaise Tied To Tolerance of Violence, and Disenfranchisement

The Arab masses have been suckered out of the political process by power-hoarding leaders and desensitized to inhumanity such as that perpetrated by the Muslim regime in Sudan, writes Rami G. Khouri, executive editor of the Lebanon-based Daily Star.

The Arab silence on...Darfur (and) Sudan...reflects a wider malaise that has long plagued our region: Arab governments tend to stay out of each other's way when any one of them is accused of wrongdoing, and most Arab citizens have been numbed into helplessness in the face of public atrocities or criminal activity in their societies.

The modern history of the Arab world over the past 50 years has been defined by two broad trajectories that are intimately related: the concentration of economic and military power in the hands of small numbers of people who form the governing power elites, and that governing elite's steady provision of basic services and job opportunities to the citizenry.

...This basic governing contract explains much of the silence and acquiescence by otherwise decent Arabs in the face of atrocities or criminal activity carried out by fellow citizens, or even by their own government. Darfur in Sudan is only the latest in a string of violent domestic episodes within Arab countries that have been largely ignored by other Arab countries. The long and depressing list includes rebellions, civil wars, repression and other forms of violence in key Arab countries like Algeria, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Palestine, Iraq, Egypt and Libya.

The more troubling consequence is that small groups of bombers and terrorists have exploited this state of Arab helplessness, seeking public support for their militancy. Thus large numbers of ordinary, decent Arab citizens instinctively reject the atrocities against fellow Arabs in Darfur, but do not speak out or act to stop them; and equally large numbers of Arabs - majorities in troubled lands, the polls tell us - similarly do not speak out when Arab terrorists bomb Arab, American or other targets.

A troubled Arab citizenry's silent acquiescence in violence and passivity in the face of homegrown atrocity, is today the single most important, widespread symptom of the malaise that plagues this region...a troubling sign of Arab mass dehumanization and political pacification at the public level, which are largely our own fault due to our acceptance of poor governance and distorted Arab power structures over a period of decades.

Herein lie the economic and moral failures of Islam, and the roots of terrorism. To think that this weekend, over champagne and canapes at a reception for an emerging local artist, I was listening to an unreconstructed old Jewish Marxist ascribe terrorism to rapacious American capitalists and the CIA.

And he was from Manhattan, not Seattle!

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 04:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 10, 2004

Bush, The Education President

George W. Bush really IS the education president, says Sol Stern in the summer issue of City Journal.

Though now pilloried by many Democrats and educrats, Bush's landmark No Child Left Behind Act not only advances smarter reading instruction, and accountability, but also contains an important "sleeper" school choice provision becoming known to more and more parents, says Stern.

One key component of the Bush-driven NCLB legislation is more solid, phonics-based reading instruction over the lax "whole language" approach. Stern notes:

....All 50 states have submitted proposals to the Department of Education requesting Reading First grants and vowing that they will use the funds only for science-backed phonics instruction, and they have already received more than $2 billion. Though it’s too early to say that the nation’s schools are “hooked on phonics,” the schools are more aware than ever that scientific evidence, not ideology, should guide decisions about reading instruction.

State-driven proficiency testing of students in core subjects was, of course, another key component of NCLB - with results broken down by demographics. So too, the hammer allowing students to leave schools not making "adequate yearly progress" on test scores. But in urban school districts such as New York or Washington, D.C., Stern points out, there aren't enough places in better public schools for those left behind at chronically underperforming facilities.

Which is one place school choice rears its head. While vouchers were politically D.O.A. due to Democratic resistance when NCLB was being formulated....

...a major advance for school choice did make it into the act: Supplemental Educational Services (SES). Largely unnoticed by most commentators at the time of NCLB’s signing, the SES provision has turned out to be the new law’s school choice sleeper.

..(it) gives disadvantaged students in schools that have failed for three straight years a voucher—worth up to $1,700 in some states—to buy tutoring services from licensed providers, both public and private, including religious institutions....more than 110,000 children across the nation received SES tutoring in 2002–03....that number will surely climb as reform organizations rush to get the word out.

Tom Carroll, a seasoned school choice activist in upstate New York, thinks that over time SES will whet parents’ appetite for more reforms. “What parents are willing to accept from their public school districts will change when they see that there are private groups and churches that may be doing a better job of raising their kids’ academic performance,” Carroll says...

This - along with the more pressing threat of competition posed by public charter schools - is precisely what the National Education Association and its state and local affiliates fear. The Washington Education Association has even managed to get on the fall ballot Referendum 55, to rescind an exceedingly modest charter school bill passed by our legislature last spring.

The WEA worries public charter schools will bleed money from existing schools due to declining head counts, though in Seattle enrollment has declined to the extent officials are mulling the closure of 11 schools. More consolidation would surely result from real choice, and over time, competition would spur improvements in Seattle's troubled system.

Yet the WEA's retrograde stance should come as no surprise: the leader of one of its local chapters, in south suburban Seattle, earlier this year accused charter school backers of using Nazi propoganda tactics.

Such is the fruit of a government-funded monopoly which puts its own entitlement ahead of society's mandate to properly educate children.

As Stern reports, the federal government has fed $200 billion to local school districts over the last four decades. In addition, he writes:

...combined "state, local, and federal expenditures on K-12 public education have tripled in inflation-adjusted dollars since 1960 and are nearing half a trillion dollars a year. The nation today spends from 30 to 80 percent more per pupil than other industrialized countries. Yet the U.S. usually comes in around 15th in international comparisons of student performance in math and reading."

The system is broken, and Bush has launched a serious effort to begin fixing it.

There's a long way to go, and it is President Bush who will best utilize the White House's bully pulpit to further champion effective reading instruction; accountability; and school choice.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 07:59 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 09, 2004

Iraqi Resistance? Or Last Gasp?

Omar at Iraq The Model transmits the other half of the story on the "uprising" in Najaf; the news you're barely getting from Western media. And it ain't good for the insurgents, er, Islamic terorrists.

Additional perspective came recently from Zeyad at the noted Iraqi blog Healing Iraq. He had this update Friday. Not exactly the same bleak spin you get in the U.S. press.

Alaa, at The Mesopotamian, says:

...patience is required to see this thing through. The Iraqi Government may not be perfect, but still if it succeeds in resolving the security issue this will be the key to subsequent positive developments. Now we are witnessing hopeful signs that this Government does not lack backbone, and it is struggling together with the fledgling new security forces who are beginning to demonstrate increasing determination and morale to impose Law and Order and combat criminals, terrorists and general lawlessness in the country.

His full post here.

Now more than ever, stay tuned to Iraqi blogs. The politicization of U.S. news coverage on Iraq is becoming especially egregious, with the presidential election drawing nearer.

Some good Iraqi blogs are on my blogroll here, under "Iraq."

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 07:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

1,000 SF Activists To Join Convention Protests in NYC

Today's San Francisco Chronicle reports that a thousand-plus freewheelin' Bay Area protestors are among those expected to descend upon New York for the Republican Convention later this month. If NYC cops are perceived on national TV as getting too rough with anti-GOP troops, it could hurt Bush. Firm, but calm must be the byword for New York Police.

I'd rather that authorities err in the other direction, of, ah, tolerance, letting the Left Coast contingent and their fellow travellers act up a bit. The more that swing voters can see and hear the Hate-Bush Left for what it really is, undistracted by gruesome footage of busted heads, the better W's prospects.

Given proper exposure, this California contingent and their ilk could easily do Bush some good.

The Chron:

Over the next few weeks, more than 1,000 Bay Area activists and artists will head to New York to raise a ruckus around the upcoming Republican National Convention....the GOP convention is a must-go, Woodstock-like convergence of outrage for the region's progressives.

...Yet most aren't going to New York to show their devotion to Kerry, the Democratic nominee. His candidacy elicits little more than a shrug from most, and a few activists loathe electoral politics so much that they won't even vote in November. For most, the four-day convention that begins Aug. 30 is all about venting their marrow-deep disdain for the Bush administration.

..a handful of leaders from Bay Area-based antiwar organizations (have been)living in New York since early this summer, planning events and fund-raisers for their protests, the largest of which is expected to draw 250,000 people.

With luck, Whoopi Goldberg will speak.

Still and all, this is going to be very delicate. "Keep cool" advisories from cell leaders aside, many anti-Bush protestors WILL be trying to incite NYC police. Some of them will be from the anarchist hotbed of Eugene, Oregon, whose denizens went wild in the streets of Seattle at the '99 WTO confab.

Such Seattle-style passivity is - thank goodness - unthinkable on the part of NYC's finest. But restraint must be their byword.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:28 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 08, 2004

Makes Me Wanna Holler

After the Blue Angels show today in Seattle, we went to Capitol Hill, a once-hip neighborhood which, when I moved here in '94, seemed the place to go. The attraction wore off fast.

How many nose-pierced, purple-Mohawked, black-booted snarling miscreants; and how many dreadlocked, smelly, panhandling, uber-stoned white boys do I need to be accosted by, anyway? How many needles discarded by junkies in the neighborhood park do I need to step on? How many used condoms...OK, you get the idea.

And, the restaurants are crummy, too.

However. The coolest CD store in all of Seattle, Wall of Sound, moved from Belltown to the very western edges of Capitol Hill a year or two ago, a.k.a. the Pike-Pine corridor. And apart from amazon.com, this is where I buy my music, now, against credit for traded-in vinyl and CDs.

As usual, I walked my dear spouse and children into a nearby coffeeehouse, set them up with refreshments and then went over to Wall of Sound.

On the way out, I couldn't help noticing the "Bowl Against Bush" poster on a street light pole. The event is on Aug. 11 in Seattle (second item down, in link). It's $40 a head, and sponsored by "No Vote Left Behind," an independent, Seattle-based PAC of music industry and club folk devoted to excising W. They've got talented graphic artists: there was a nice picture on the poster of W's smiling head atop a wobbly bowling pin.

Lots of garbage on the sidewalk, too, epitomizing Democratic community values.

At Wall of Sound, I had a meager $22 in credit. I bought "Alan Lomax's Southern Journey - Remixed."

The famed ethno-musicologist's field recordings of black folk and gospel vocalists from the American south, 1947-1960, are remixed with soundtracks laid down by top-notch r&b, blues and jazz musicians. It gets off to a middling start, but quickly kicks into gear. I'm pretty picky about my tunes - and this one's a winner.

So, pick up a copy, AND a maybe a ticket for "Bowl Against Bush" (see event link, above). Doncha think some Puget Sound Republicans should crash it, and whip some anemic Democrats at bowling?

Myself, I once rolled a 224. At age 12, no less!

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:47 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 07, 2004

Playing Politics With Jobs Data

When looking at monthly jobs numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it's important to consider the so-called "household survey" along with the "establishment" or "payroll survey." Editors with an anti-Bush agenda can - and do - carelessly cobble together reports that somehow manage to leave out the specific data provided by the latest "household survey."

That's convenient, because while the payroll survey results may or not be impressive in a given month, the household survey shows a whole 'nother sector, experiencing significant growth: including self-employed, non-payroll workers.

Today's New York Times explains:

July was a poor month for job creation in the United States.

July was an excellent month for job creation in the United States.

That tale of two employment reports is true, and it continues a trend that has persisted for two and a half years. The discrepancies have made it possible for Republicans to herald a job recovery and for Democrats to deny one exists.

Both sets of statistics were issued by the government's Bureau of Labor Statistics, but they come from very different surveys. One, the establishment survey, which questions 160,000 employers, paints the bleak picture. The other, the household survey, which questions 60,000 people about whether they or other family members are working, paints the better picture.

Which is right? Because of its smaller sample size, the household survey is always more volatile, and month-to-month changes can be deceptive for that reason. So economists normally pay more attention to the establishment survey. But the fact that they differ so drastically may mean that reality lies somewhere in between.

Over all, the household survey now shows that employment has risen by 1.9 million jobs, or 1.4 percent, since President Bush took office, while the establishment survey shows employment is down by 1.1 million jobs, or 0.8 percent.

...The household survey, on a seasonally adjusted basis, showed a gain of 629,000 jobs in July. Before seasonal adjustment, the gain was an even larger 839,000 jobs.....

The household survey is used to calculate the unemployment rate, which fell to 5.5 percent in July, the lowest figure since October 2001.

....the two surveys have fluctuated, but the establishment survey has continued to paint a bleaker picture than the household one.

Making it fairly essential, in the interest of unbiased reporting, that editors give equal play to both major BLS surveys when the monthly jobs figures are released.

Considering the political volatility of econmic news in this crucial election year, newspaper ombudsmen might take a bit of time away from fatuous puff pieces to delve into their paper's real record of reporting on the always-ballyhooed BLS monthly data.

And front-page and national editors would be well-advised to ensure the full story is told each month, not just the part that fits their own political biases.

If the shoe fits, wear it.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:10 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 06, 2004

Santa Cruz'n Into The Abyss

It's tough work, but somebody's got to keep the blogosphere current on the mission-creep of the Santa Cruz City Council. Sad to say, the town that gave the world the most inspired sports team mascot ever - the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs - is run by a bunch of socialist utopian nut-jobs.

Previously, I've called attention to a report on the council's wild menu of public policy objectives, including Rumsfeld-bashing, Bush-bashing, NASA oversight, and genetically modified foods.

More recently, I've warned the council's consideration of a beach smoking ban is encouraging talk of a total outdoor smoking ban in Santa Cruz.

But now....now....the Council might get into the movie ratings business. And yes, it has to do with smoking. Again.

SANTA CRUZ - The City Council was set...to discuss a resolution that seeks to put R ratings on all movies that show people puffing on cigarettes. But supporters of the resolution will have to wait until September, when the council returns from its summer recess. Mayor Scott Kennedy asked for the item to be postponed so more people can have a chance to comment on it.

....The UC San Francisco Center For Tobacco Control Research and Education proposed the resolution, which is intended to curtail teen smoking by diminishing teens’ exposure to smokers in films, particularly those that glamorize cigarettes or include tobacco product placements.

The center is asking that any movie with smoking in it get the R rating unless the person smoking is an historic figure, such as Winston Churchill, who had a cigar habit.

How about TV and cable shows, and teen cohorts who glamorize smoking? Will the Santa Cruz City Council slap an "R" rating on them, too?

What's next: city-funded health care for the sea lions under the pier downtown?

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 01:25 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Avoid "Women's Rights Trap" in Arab Nations

Greater women's rights in Arab societies are no substitute for more robust democratic institutions, writes Marina Ottaway in the Arab Reform Bulletin. Her essay, "Avoiding The Women's Rights Trap," spells it out.

Under the prevailing conditions in the Arab world, promoting women's rights does not constitute promoting democratic reform....The unchecked power of Arab presidents, kings, sheiks, and emirs, and the absence or weakness of institutions that could limit that power, are the real problem. Parliaments tend to be docile, often dominated by the ruling party or by handpicked appointees. Judiciaries are rarely independent. Islamists dominate the best-organized opposition groups. Giving women the vote or training women to run for office does nothing to address these core issues.

...Arab countries will become more democratic only when rulers are confronted by well-organized opposition parties, strong parliaments, and independent judiciaries, not when women can vote like men for powerless parliaments, extricate themselves more easily from abusive marriages or when more girls attend school.

One step would be term limits for Arab presidents, suggests Rami G. Khouri, executive editor of the Daily Star.

Middle-East scholars and journalists often seem more interested in Arab reform than Arabs. How it all bubbles up remains a mystery to me. Ten years from now, it may well be clear Iraq's successful makeover - with Iraqis in charge - was more than worth it, and had begun to inspire more energetic, bottom-up democratic reforms in other Arab nations.

Taking the long view, such an attempt has everything to do with stemming global terrorism. As long as so many Arabs are denied political rights, literacy and economic opportunity, they will hate their lives, themselves, and the modernized world.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:05 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 05, 2004

A Republican Governor For Washington?

Republican candidate for Governor of Washington Dino Rossi is ahead of both Democrats and within 6 points of their combined total. Well-regarded, veteran independent pollster Stuart Elway did the poll for his monthly newsletter, The Elway Report.

The July 24-27 Elway Poll of 405 registered voters had a margin of error of plus or minus five percent. Republican Rossi got 35 percent; Democrat and current Attorney General Christine Gregoire 26; and Democrat and current King County Executive Ron Sims 15 percent. The remainder were undecided.

Elway told me this morning, "the bottom line is it looks like we're going to have a more closely contested governor's race than in a long time."

He also noted, "Rossi's got to be fairly happy he's within six points of the total Democratic vote. That's not a bad place to be."

A few caveats. The poll is of registered, not likely voters. And Elway observes that Rossi's 35 percent is a baseline figure for Republican gubernatorial candidates in Washington. You get that just for having an "R" next to your name. But Rossi's got 90 days to build on that, and, says Elway, "He's probably justified to be optimistic."

Especially given that his and Sims' Elway numbers have been rising, while Gregoire's have been staying flat.

Top Dem contender Gregoire, a career public servant, stepped in when two-term incumbent Democratic Gov. Gary Locke announced he wouldn't seek a third term. She hasn't exactly set the barn afire so far. One other Democratic candidate, former state senator and former state Supreme Court justice Phil Talmadge, dropped out of the primary for health reasons. Sims is running hard to the left.

The last two times around, Republicans fielded weak candidates for governor: Christian conservative Ellen Craswell in '96, and talk-show host John Carlson in '00. Rossi, a realtor and former state senator who chaired the Ways and Means Committee, is selling himself as a moderate.

He's relying on his engaging personality, and key role as a Senate committee chair, reaching compromise with Democrats in delicate state budget negotiations. Democrats are emphasizing his pro-life stance and high ratings from various conservative interest groups.

Yet even one of Seattle's most prominent liberal journalists, Sandeep Kaushik of the fangs-bared alternative weekly The Stranger, writes of Rossi's appeal. Here's Kaushik's July report for The Boston Globe.

....neutral observers have also been impressed by Rossi, who has drawn comparisons to Senator John Edwards, Democrat of North Carolina. In March, The Wall Street Journal dubbed Rossi a "state-level star," profiling him alongside Democrat Barack Obama....Last week, National Journal's Hotline, a Web-based subscription service for political insiders, highlighted Rossi's appeal in ranking Washington state a plausible GOP pickup among the 11 gubernatorial races this year.

National Republican leaders are thrilled with Rossi...(and)...sense a golden opportunity to shift a traditionally Democratic-leaning swing state into President Bush's column this November.

The state remains close to evenly divided despite having not supported a Republican presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan's landslide reelection in 1984 -- or elected a Republican governor since 1980.

Rossi's been wowin' em back home for a while now, as made clear in these impressions a prominent Washington Democrat shared with me after a candidate forum earlier this year.

Finally, it doesn't help Gregoire that her campaign spokesman Morton Brilliant, isn't.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 07:54 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 04, 2004

Seattle Weakly Readers: No "Best Conservative"

That's according to the their "Best of 2004, Readers' Picks."

They do nominate tin-foil hat king U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott as "Best Liberal," though. And for best activist: David Goldstein, a guy who gained fame (Seattle-style) deriding tax-cut initiative honcho Tim Eyman as a "Horse's Ass."

That's watcha get from The Weakly's 20- to 50-something readership of hemp-wearing, bicycle-riding, tofu-snorting, childless, 113-pound Trustafarians, and unreconstructed Deaniacs.

Hey, y'all! Icky, scary OTHERS are all around you, even in Seattle! They've just tended to keep their heads down, lest they be pelted with seitan cutlets. Less so these days though, praise Ja.

Here are a few tips, Weakly readers, for "Best Local Conservative" next time around.

Let's start with the obvious: a couple of excellent local conservative newspaper columnists, who never fail to get local lefties in a fierce froth: Bruce Ramsey and Collin Levey. Plus youngblood Chris Collins.

Local think tanks: Discovery Institute and the Washington Policy Center.

Local bloggers: Stefan Sharkansky, Brian Crouch, Andy MacDonald, Jim Miller, and James J. Na.

Not to mention Timothy Goddard and P. Scott Cummins.

And local black conservative bloggers: Ambra Nykol and Kevin Leo.

Last but not least - a pedigreed conservative I know and admire - even if I don't always agree with everything he says: local think tank potentate, author and ex-military officer Philip Gold, who published this anti-Iraq-war, anti-Left piece in the, ah, Seattle Weekly.

UPDATE: There is another Seattle-area black conservative blogger - Robert, of The Mulatto Advocate. Good site; check it out. Thanks, Ambra.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 07:42 PM | Comments (21) | TrackBack

GOP Vote Fraud Plot Brewing?

Betcha didn't know corporate malefactors and local election officials may already be plotting to steal the election from John Forbes Kerry. Never mind, I suppose, that those notorious Republican and corporate lackeys at the New York Times concluded Bush really won the famous "stolen election" of 2000.

No, the future is bleak, and ceding nothing to Michael Moore, The Nation explains the finer workings of the latest GOP plot to steal your vote.

On November 2 millions of Americans will cast their votes for President in computerized voting systems that can be rigged by corporate or local-election insiders. Some 98 million citizens, five out of every six of the roughly 115 million who will go to the polls, will consign their votes into computers that unidentified computer programmers, working in the main for four private corporations and the officials of 10,500 election jurisdictions, could program to invisibly falsify the outcomes.

....About 61 million of the votes in November, more than half the total, will be counted in the computers of one company, the privately held Election Systems and Software (ES&S) of Omaha, Nebraska. Altogether, nearly 100 million votes will be counted in computers provided and programmed by ES&S and three other private corporations: British-owned Sequoia Voting Systems of Oakland, California, whose touch-screen voting equipment was rejected as insecure against fraud by New York City in the 1990s; the Republican-identified company Diebold Election Systems of McKinney, Texas, whose machines malfunctioned this year in a California election; and Hart InterCivic of Austin, one of whose principal investors is Tom Hicks, who helped make George W. Bush a millionaire.

It gets worse: there are some Republicans on The Hill who aren't falling all over themselves to issue federal legislation mandating a paper-ballot confirmation of each computer-counted vote. God forbid leaving the matter to the states!

Maybe famed Lefty rag The Nation is on to something. After all, Democrats know a thing or two about stolen elections. The 1960 presidential race was the last one before 2000 where extensive fraud was seriously alleged. It turns out both parties were guilty, but the Dems were better at it.

As the WaPo put it:

In Chicago, where Kennedy won by more than 450,000 votes, local reporters uncovered so many stories of electoral shenanigans--including voting by the dead--that the Chicago Tribune concluded that "the election of November 8 was characterized by such gross and palpable fraud as to justify the conclusion that [Nixon] was deprived of victory."

....Americans will probably never know for certain if the Democrats stole the election of 1960. But Earl Mazo is pretty sure they did.

"There's no question in my mind that it was stolen," he says. "It was stolen like mad. It was stolen in Chicago and in Texas."

Back in 1960, Mazo, now 81, was the Washington-based national political correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune. After the election, he kept getting calls from reporter friends in Chicago who told him wild stories of election fraud there.

"They were in effect chastising me," he recalls, "saying, 'You national reporters, you're missing the story, why don't you come out and look?' "

So Mazo went out and looked. He went to Chicago, obtained lists of voters in precincts that seemed suspicious and started checking their addresses.

"There was a cemetery where the names on the tombstones were registered and voted," he recalls. "I remember a house. It was completely gutted. There was nobody there. But there were 56 votes for Kennedy in that house."

At the urging of Chicago Democrats, Mazo went to Republican areas downstate and looked for fraud there. He found it.

"In downstate Illinois, there was definitely fraud," he says. "The Republicans were having a good time, too. But they didn't have the votes to counterbalance Chicago. There was no purity on either side, except that the Republicans didn't have Daley in their corner--or Lyndon Johnson."

Now, The Nation would have us believe the electronic voting companies and local election officials are in the GOP's pocket. A fairly insulting proposition to companies and public servants increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. What's most important here is reasoned public discourse, advocacy, and resulting measures to boost the reliability of electronic voting.

But Chomsky-esque conspiracy mongering on this and other topics only discourages public engagement and voting. That's an outcome nobody should want.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:07 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 03, 2004

Roll On, Blogosphere

Time for a blogsphere round-up.

Cerberus proffers, "Democrats Biggest Money Man Has Mob Connections." Lots of natty links.

Tongue Tied reports, you decide: Racism rears its ugly head in Indianapolis?

Southern Appeal with this: an Australian abortion clinic operator that protested a nearby child-care facility. Eventually, they worked things out. But....sheesh! Via No Watermelons.

At Dispatches From Outland, Roy Jacobsen bemoans the Nanny Statism at the bottom of the Food Pyramid and a lot more.

Monica Lewinsky orders a foot-long hot dog and is inexplicably aghast when it arrives. Thanks to Bonnie, at What Kind of Sick Weirdo Are You?

And now Yasser Arafat has a Ph.D. Via Israelly Cool.

Finally, make sure to check out Red State, where I'm now a Contributing Editor. I'm flattered to be included in that group, with top-notch conservative bloggers such as Pejman Yousefzadeh, Michele Catalano, Bill Hobbs and others. The site's founders are no slouches, either. You'll espy links to the personal blogs of Red State Contributors, Founders, Friends, and so forth. Though just a few weeks old, Red State is already getting 4K visitors a day.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I'm True Blonde, Hear Me Roar

The Internet is a soap box, and sometimes it gets a little slippery. Witness the site Blonde From Birth. Webmaster Carole Cox is on a mission:

...to spread awareness of blond haired people and increase their rights in today's society. We have goals of promoting awareness and of ending the racist stereotypes of blondes that the Media propagates with the assistance of hair dye companies.

Up to now the fakes get the press while we are muted....Our society has the increasing need to promote the image of the sex-freak, dope-head, or ‘passive person’. Unfortunately, the common symbol that has been chosen for these groups is Yellow Hair. This has created a burden upon those 'blond from birth people' who do not want to be seen as members of the weirdo club.

Uh, tell it, Goldilocks! And let's not forget the enviro-carnage, either.

The disposal of billions of bottles of hair dye down the drain is polluting the water systems of the Earth on a large scale. The ingredients in hair dye are basic industrial solvents that have no business on someones’ head. Hydrogen peroxide was used by the Nazis as rocket fuel, not as a cosmetic! It is hazardous waste and should be treated as such.

Then, an impasioned summation, and an ameliorative public policy initiative.

Our world is corrupt, and corruption and sex freaks seem to go together. The spread of the sex freaks is an indicator to the spread of Corruption. Fight the dye-jobs and fight corruption at the same time.

If that is too much to ask, at least change the symbol. If you are a prostitute, you can use green hair (the color of money). Homosexuals can have pink (it’s festive and fun), while bimbos can use blue (like their frozen brains). Pop stars can choose from any of the above combinations.

I think that about covers it. Except to note that if you click through to this essay at the site you'll find a derogatory term for gays.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:19 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Jewish World Review Commentary

OK, I'm going to brag just the tiniest bit. I'm really proud to again have an opinion piece in Jewish World Review, one of the premier online conservative publications. Here it is, from this morning's edition. It's titled, "Hardline humor about prez reveals a lot about his opponents."

This is my third nationally-published piece since early June. You'll see links to the other two, on the right here - under "Freelance Opinion Pieces."

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 06:56 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 02, 2004

Dem St. Paul Mayor Endorses Bush

Democratic Mayor Randy Kelly of St. Paul, Minnesota has endorsed President Bush for re-election. He cites the moral vacuum of the Hate Bush left; the need for Bush's continued leadership against terrorism, and on Iraq and the U.S. economy.

Here's the text of his speech, from yesterday's Pioneer Press (free reg. req.).

Some excerpts:

......The economy has been tough, and a lot of people have been hurt. But it's going in the right direction. There's no reason to believe a change of course will produce better or quicker results.

The war in Iraq was won in blinding speed — the peace has been a much greater challenge....The reality is: almost 150,000 of our troops are in Iraq today. We'll get them home a lot sooner and with a better outcome if we don't try to bring in a whole new leadership team to run the show. We must stay the course.

I agree with the President that we must see this thru and not turn tail and run, and give our enemies the message that we lack resolve.

And the war on terror is a huge, ongoing struggle. If we changed presidents at this juncture, there is just no question that it would confuse our friends and encourage our enemies. In a war, you just can't afford to do that. Continuity and resolve is critical.

...The common good will be better served on the path we're on than with an abrupt change of direction, especially one paved in part with political hatred.

...I am more determined than ever to send the message to my sons — and to the sons and daughters of other Moms and Dads in St. Paul, Minnesota and America — that we can, we should and we must stop — now — this poison partisanship that threatens to destroy the national will to come together to win the War on Terror here, at home, and across the world.

Attn: Terry McAuliffe.

More from Democrat Kelly.

...Americans are looking for strong, steady, and principled leadership. They crave politicians who stand for something, rather than rally us against someone. The American people I know — the ones I represent in St. Paul — care about leaders who stand steady in difficult times, who do not waver nor bend to the wind. They want strong, determined leadership — and, I believe George Bush provides us that leadership today at this point in our history.

I’ve been a Democrat all my life and after this announcement I’ll continue to be a Democrat. But I believe I have a higher loyalty to what's best for my country and our city than to party.

So this November, George W. Bush has my endorsement for President of the United States.

...Whatever the cost of this decision is to me, the expense of remaining quiet in this election year is of far greater consequence to me.

Read it and bite your nails, Mr. Kerry.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:00 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Democrats at Sea

In western Washington state, the reminders are everywhere: for all the fervent activism of the Democratic base this year, hate is still what's on their minds.

Example One: I'm coming out of a store in West Seattle's central shopping district early Saturday evening and getting back into my car. Three white guys in their late 30s/early 40s are walking into a local sushi restaurant. A nice place actually, I eat there myself. I overhear this bit of conversation.

....and the sticker said, "Bush is a lying sack of s**t." Hearty chuckles all around. They go in the door.

Example Two: I'm at a birthday celebration for a close friend Saturday evening. As is usually the case in Seattle, every one else there is a Democrat. I'm used to this, and have some good conversations with people, including some civil talk with one Democratic party animal who quite obviously doesn't share my support for Bush or the Iraq effort one iota.

Then another guy offers this. It's a joke, but revealing. He's got the perfect way to kill Republicans. A special gun that shoots golf balls. The operator will hide in a tree in golf courses and pick out victims. No one will know it's the work of a sniper because the cause of death will seem a plausible accident each time, he explains. His preferred target: Bush.

Multiply such natterings ten-thousand-fold daily and you've got the heart and pulse of Kerrydom. Which highlights Kerry's need to articulate a clear vision and pull enough swing voters into his column to win.

That didn't even begin to happen last week, says Oakland pastor and Internet commentator Byron Williams at the lefty rag Working For Change. He says Kerry's performance at the Democratic Convention last week was uninspired; reminding him that Kerry was chosen by Democratic primary voters for his resume, above all.

Practically every speaker reminded the faithful that John Kerry was a war hero. The speeches given by the retired generals supporting Kerry (were) powerful, but they were not carried by network television....There wasn't much talk about the legislation he has authored because there is not much to speak of. The Democrats nominated Sen. Kerry because of the perception that he could win.

It has been 44 years since a senator -- John F. Kennedy -- ascended directly to the White House. The myriad riders attached to legislation make any senator who has been around for a while vulnerable to charges of voting on both sides of an issue.

On the heart-and-soul meter, my nonscientific polling places Kerry's nomination speech no higher than sixth among those at the convention, easily trailing Kennedy, Obama, Rev. Al Sharpton, vice presidential nominee John Edwards and, of course, Clinton.

Williams then frankly concedes the intellectual and political poverty at the heart of the Kerry effort.

Conventional wisdom suggests the "anybody but Bush" strategy may not be the most effective one. If the Democratic National Convention is any indicator, for all of the unity, nostalgia and patriotism that was on display, "anybody but Bush" may be all the substance they have.

This year, however, it may be all they need.

Democrats had better hope the Kerry campaign is shooting higher.

I talked this weekend with a second Democratic politico from Washington State, who's been in the game for quite some time. He says Kerry's middling performance last week was part of a conscious strategy. People aren't likely to be paying much attention to grand themes right now, so why go there? The point of the speech, this loyal D believes, was primarily to innoculate against perceptions of Kerry's weakness and equivocation on Iraq, and terrorism.

I pressed him: what are Kerry's core values? None are glaringly evident right now, the D replied, but that's OK. He explained the Kerry campaign will be looking for opportunistic hooks for their message in swing states, such as bad economic news that will resonate in Ohio. That's the kind of stuff that could put Kerry in the White House, he said.

Undecided voters in the presidential election ARE going to be much more influenced than the base on either side by breaking news; whether it's another terrorist attack on the U.S., the thwarting of same, the capture of Osama, or something dramatic on the economy, which I don't expect.

So this Washington State D may be on to something. But it's a thin, thin string to clench. Likewise Williams' hope the "anybody but Bush" theme consitutes a winning message.

It still comes back to this. With Bush, you know what you've got. Kerry remains the international man of mystery.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:37 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack