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.
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?
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.
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.......
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.
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.
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.
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."
I hope to hear about more such independent, Bush-friendly ads on black and Hispanic radio and TV, especially in swing states.
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.
They'll appeal, but they're not very appealing.
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.
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.
August 12, 2004
Can A Gay Politician Still Oppose Gay Marriage?
The question cuts to the core of free inquiry, it seems to me.
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.
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.
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.
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?
I wonder what public school this poor guy attended.
Hat tip: Charlie Hoff.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
....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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.).
......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.
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.
Read it and bite your nails, Mr. Kerry.
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.
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.
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.
|Site design by Mystic Sludge Design©|