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December 28, 2004

Chicago, Chicago

After 10 days in and around Washington, D.C. visiting my wife's very large (Catholic) and wonderful family, our nuclear unit is now in Chicago, with my parents. I lived in Chicago from 1966 to 1994, minus a few years "Back East" in college and a short stint working on Capitol Hill. So it's always Old Home Day when I'm back here.

A few notes and observations since we landed at O'Hare yesterday afternoon.

My son and I went out to Promontory Point, on Lake Michigan, off 57th Street, where he was enchanted by the layers of ice-covered blocky rocks leading down to the water. We don't really get ice in Seattle, see. At about 25 degrees, it was positively balmy.

There used to be a Cold War era radar site there, next to the park district building where me and my buddies used the great downstairs floor hockey court. I still remember the time one of our older "role models," a great teen athlete and unforgettably charismatic leader of young men named Wally Rose, who sadly ended up working as a delivery guy in a local liquor store, ran into a crusty fellow in the little spiral staircase going downstairs to the floor hockey court, and for some reason called him a "dirty old pecker."

Knowing the upstanding Wally as I did, there was doubtless a good cause. But unfortunately, the geezer got bothered, flashed a piece, and we all sorta freaked for a hot minute or two there. Then Wally smoothed things out, and we played hours of floor hockey downstairs, as per usual, with the real knobby leather hockey gloves, knee pads, hip checks and knockdown-dragout fistfights, just like our hockey heroes on TV. There weren't that many to choose from, BTW, because the NHL then had just SIX teams.....THOSE were the days.

This time around, I also discovered, to my dismay, that where (in the 60s) a store called "Radical Rags" used to peddle obscene candles, incense and especially crummy underground newspapers - in a walk-down storefront on the east side of Hyde Park Blvd., just south of 55th St. - there's now a far more mundane emporium. Shoe repair or dry cleaning, I forget. I guess I was at least hoping for an organic grocery store, where I could buy flax seeds, dried cherries and gluten-free blackberry muffins. Ah well.

And sadly, Morry's Deli, at 55th and Cornell Ave., doesn't do bagels and lox anymore. Nor pickled herring. It's just another fast food joint, unworthy of the name "Deli." Cue the world's smallest violin, I know. At least we later got up to New York Bagels and Bialys on W. Touhy (7200 N.) just east of Cicero Ave. (4800 W.) in Lincolnwood (a near-NW 'burb of Chicago), in a strip mall on the north side of the street. (You can take I-90/94 into 94, a.k.a. Edens Expwy., fr. downtown Chi., to the Touhy exit E.).

The tough-skinned beauties are the real deal - not like the ubiquitous round-shaped, centrally-punctured, flaccid doughy frauds elsewhere (especially my dear Seattle) masquerading as "bagels." At NYB&B, these choice specimens come in all the usual myriad flavors, and the 13th one is free. The difference is they're chewy, tasty, fresh and great.

The Hyde Park neighborhood (on Chicago's SE side, bordering Lake Michigan) where we're staying now, isn't where I lived later on in Chicago, while working as a newspaper reporter/columnist and then a community organizer. That would be Rogers Park, Edgewater and Lakeview.

But Hyde Park is where I grew up. And despite giving the world the very regrettable Carol Mosely Braun, Hyde Park has some redeeming features beyond the Museum of Science and Industry, the University of Chicago, and the Oriental Institute.

For example, Powell's Bookstore, now a world-famous emporium based in Portland, OR, actually began in Hyde Park, circa 1961!

And Lake Shore Drive, Hyde Park's connection to downtown Chicago and points north, is still one great cruise.

This afternoon, we set out in an entirely different direction from Hyde Park, to an Arab neighborhood on the city's southwest side. Our destination was one of the literally dozens of vibrant ethnic enclaves that make Chicago what it is - more so, in my view, than the stunning downtown skyline, pro sports teams, deadly hot and cold weather, blatant political corruption, great museums and live music clubs.

So if you ever have a chance, get on over to The Nile Restaurant, at 3259 W. 63rd.

It's a Palestinian-owned place with first-rate shawirma, kebabs and hand-formed, charcoal-grilled ground-meat and vegetable sausages called kifta. Our feast also included some of the best hummus I've ever had; plus kibbeh; felafel; yogurt and cucumbers; a cucumber-tomato-mint concoction in a tahini-yogurt dressing (Jerusalem Salad); an array of Middle Eastern pickled vegetables; fresh carrot juice; and lots of fresh pita.

The Arabic music videos on the TV were a nice touch as well.

The southwest side Arab "strip" used to run a good two miles on 63rd, from Western Ave. (2400 W. on the Chicago grid system) all the way to Pulaski (4000 W.) It has become foreshortened to about half that length now, as the Western to Kedzie (3200 W.) stretch of this commercial artery is now mainly given over to Black and Hispanic businesses. Perhaps more Chicago SW Side Arabs are moving to the suburbs. There's certainly a template for that kind of urban ethnic out-migration, already. And bully for them, if so. After all, it's the, ah, American Dream. And the public schools are at least somewhat better in some 'burbs, due to imperatives of class......not race.

(You got a problem with that? I sure don't).

Anyhew.....we spent the late afternoon mucking about on and around historic Astor Street in the city's Gold Coast area, where we know some folks. We especially enjoyed the playground at Goudy Square. Perfect after high tea at the Drake Hotel, if you've got little ones in tow.

Dinner at Coco Pazzo Cafe on St. Clair Street was fairly sumptuous. High points included the fried calamari served with lemon and a marina sauce on the side; grilled bass with olives, tomatoes and capers over a bed of spinach; a pea and prosciutto risotto, and the Tuscan fries.

There's only one big gripe about Chicago I have as a visitor - and this was part of why I was happy to leave....for Seattle.....10 years ago. While Chicagoans are more genuinely warm, and far more passionate than Northwesterners, they're also a great deal more unhinged. To drive, or cross the street is to put your life at risk.

That said, I still find myself needing a much bigger dose of Chicago's neighborhoods and city walks than I'll get on this trip.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 06:04 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


December 25, 2004

Used Condoms and Kinky Costumes at the YMCA

A scheduler and executive have lost their jobs, but certain unsavory and essential details are still being left out of most MSM reports of the clash this week between transgendered party-goers and the parents of swim-meet youth at a Chicago YMCA.

The Chicago Tribune's stellar columnist John Kass with the real scoop (free reg. req.):

Parents and children were gathering for a 7 a.m. Sunday morning swim meet. Meanwhile, the participants of an all-night transgender fashion show and ball were still partying at the Y.

...The values clash began as young swimmers arrived to find the locker rooms occupied by leather-clad fashionistas of indeterminate gender. The all-night fashion show--approved by the YMCA--began at 11 p.m. the night before and was to last until 8 a.m. Sunday.

"When I got there with my 7-year-old daughter on Sunday morning, I could sense some bad mojo," said Paul N., a parent of a swimmer...."It might have been the 6-foot-tall gentleman in tight, leather pants and the leather bustier and the handcuffs, or the other men in leather skirts," he said. "But I think it was the used condoms and cigarettes in the women's locker room that got the parents upset."

...And, uh, who cleaned up the used prophylactics? "Not me," he said. The swim-meet parents feel they were unfairly depicted by the media as intolerant bigots.

"It was like they didn't want to see the gay people at all," trans-fashion show security official Kashma Avery was quoted in the Sun-Times as saying. "... The guests started hearing sexist slurs. And an altercation ensued."

..."The comments made us look as if we were anti-gay," Paul N. said. "That's not the case. They can do what they want. Who cares? But to leave what they left in the locker room--a locker room to be used by kids?"

YMCA officials confirmed Tuesday that discarded condoms were found in the women's locker room. "Three were found by our people as they were cleaning up," YMCA spokesman Luis Diaz-Perez told me. "One was unused. The other two were soiled."

Remarkably, in this Chicago Sun-Times story, a Y official says the real issue was the scheduling conflict, not the use of the facility itself for a transgender event. Apparently, the Y's mission of moral and spiritual uplift for young men includes tacit endorsement of transgenderism, transvestitism and overnight parties.

Without condemning transgenderism, I guess I'd urge the Y to forgo institutional affirmation of such, ah, cutting-edge identity politics, especially given the impact on the Y's core constituency. And the organizers of this event should pause to reflect that they do not advance the cause of acceptance - if that is something they really want - with such conduct, particularly in a family setting.

So Blue America's moral values continue their slide into the tiolet. Meanwhile, mystified Democrats championing "diversity" and battling "conservative phobias" are left scratching their heads about their national party's march to oblivion.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:21 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


December 24, 2004

Curry Christmas Greetings

I suppose I was just in my element, cooking Indian food for 15 adults, at my in-laws house in suburban D.C. Here was the menu - it all came out rather nicely, thanks in part to specialty items from Patel Brothers in Rockville.

Dal Stew, a.ka. curried red lentil soup with garlic, ginger, cumin, black mustard seed, curry powder, brussel sprouts and julienned carrots.

Aloo Chat, a.k.a. a room temp. garbanzo and cooked, cubed potato salad, with a dressing of mint, yogurt, sweet tamarind and date chutney, and chat masala (a special spice blend available in Indian grocery stores); sprinkled with fresh coriander leaves and a crunchy Indian snack food called Hot Mix.

Lamb Vindaloo - tender, slow-cooked stew from leg of lamb trimmed of fat and cubed; flavored spicy hot and tart (from an old Portugese recipe adapted by Indian cooks).

Okra and cauliflower in a traditional Indian tomato-onion-ginger-garlic gravy.

Lots of Onion Nan (bread).

I would include the recipes but I don't use recipes, altho I learned a great deal from Julie Sahni's "Classic Indian Cooking." And no, I don't think I'm especially capable in the kitchen, just engaged. I experiment, learn, and go by taste, texture and feel. It usually comes out well.

Last night, one of my brothers-in-law made a great Thai fish soup. I made a Thai/Viet chicken dish. Chicken breasts pan-seared and poached in mango puree with garlic and currry powder, then cooled, skinned, boned and chopped; and flavored with a slow-cooked sauce made from lemon grass, garlic, fish sauce (the classic Thai/Viet condiment), sweet/spicy red pepper relish, and lime juice.

Now, we are opening X-Mas presents, because some family members must leave on X-Mas morning.

Merry X-Mas; hope you had a good Hanukkah; and God Bless The United States of America.

UPDATE: Gifts are given.....Karaoke Machine Madness! Good thing I know these people.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 06:26 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack


December 23, 2004

Next Time, Dino?

The whole thing smells funny and tastes real crappy, but there is no proof of fraud, or of enough disenfranchised R voters to reverse the latest numbers. If that assertion is wrong, let WA R operatives and/or lawyers go forth post-haste and overturn the latest results. But the final recount - or yes, call it a "value-added" re-canvassing, for that's what it turned out to be - apparently puts the deeply-uninspired and uninspiring Democratic Party hack Christine Gregoire into the WA Gov's office.

Like many, including Independents and even some Gregoire Democrats, I have found the WA D's "Keep Counting 'Till We Win" approach off-putting and grasping in the extreme. But whaddaya expect, really, given the razor-thin margins all along? And what now is Rossi's campaign reduced to? Same thing, unless class, restraint and the long view take hold.

I believe that in the end, a defeated Dino Rossi would come back even stronger, perhaps to challenge and beat U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell in '06. If a whole lot of uncounted military votes are out there now, fine, count 'em, if at all possible. But post-11/2 postmarks aren't gonna be worth jack, are they now?

Moreover, extended legal challenges will ill-become WA Rs. The second recount was legal, and the State Supreme Court upheld the counting of King County ballots that supposedly were improperly not counted beforehand. Republicans and their supporters (and I was a Rossi supporter from early on) should be careful not to come across as shrill and unsubstantiated in their claims. Suspicions, however well-founded, do not equal wrongdoing. Prove malfeasance in court, very soon, or - respectfully - please shut up and move on.

Kinda like we what we say to the nutcake conspiracy theorists still bellyaching about the Ohio '04 presidential count, no?

Gregoire's victory will prove Pyrrhic for WA Dems, if it holds.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:20 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack



Santa, The Republican

Disagreeing with his hippie brother-in-law, Douglas Kern argues at Tech Central Station that Santa lives in a Red State of Mind.

Kern notes that:

Santa Claus is a self-employed Caucasian male who's been married to the same woman for several centuries. It appears likely that he is a churchgoer, insofar as he is a Catholic saint and a former bishop. Is not Santa's political affiliation perfectly obvious from his demographic profile alone?

...Santa's aggressive adherence to a binary naughty/nice list suggests an impatience for nuanced moral positions that betrays his Republican preferences.
...Santa's mere willingness to define individuals along a naughty/nice axis demonstrates his indifference to the philosophical stance of, say, The New York Times. And note that no canonical or extra-canonical Clausian text indicates that Santa ever attended college or, God forbid, graduate school.

....Santa is clearly a proponent of the Patriot Act. He sees you when you're sleeping. He knows when you're awake. He doesn't bother with warrants or court orders or international conventions controlling satellite surveillance, so be good for goodness' sake.

...As Santa invades American air space every year without retaliation from F-16s, it is clear that Santa has established a good working relationship with NORAD and the Air Force.

There you have it. Santa is indisputably a Republican. Naturally though, a Zogby Poll reaches the opposite conclusion.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:00 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack



Stingy Blue Americans

Residents of Democratic-leaning Blue States may favor Big Government and social welfare programs for low-income households, but they're loath to step up and make charitable donations themselves. For the eighth year running, The Catalog For Philanthropy's annual report finds that charitable giving as a percentage of income is highest in poorer, Southern and Great Plains "Red States" and lowest in Northeastern, Western, and Midwest "Blue States." This CSM article has more, including a revealing map.

At this time of the year, charities of every shape and size are hunting for the most generous donors. To find them, the Catalogue for Philanthropy has a counterintuitive suggestion: Look in the nation's poorest states. That's because the Catalogue's Generosity Index for 2004 shows that giving as a percentage of income is highest in states where folks have the least to give. Mississippi - the nation's poorest in terms of average household income - ranks No. 1 in generosity, followed by Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana.

By contrast, residents of the nation's richest states appear downright Scrooge-like. Connecticut claims the highest average household income but ranks 44th in terms of percentage of income donated to charity. New Jersey and Massachusetts seem even stingier, ranking 47th and 49th respectively in giving, despite their second- and third-place rankings in income.

What puzzles some researchers is not just the parsimony of the wealthy states, but also the pattern. The same Northeastern "blue" states - those labeled Democratic at election time - have appeared near the bottom of the list in every year since the index began keeping track in 1997. And the same "red" - or Republican - states are always near the top. So is there something about geography that influences both voting and giving patterns?

Actually, it may have more to do with culture, especially religious habits.

Or perhaps it has to do with the hypocritical, ultimately self-absorbed nature of too many Blue State voters - who profess empathy for "oppressed" minorities not out of any genuine concern, but mainly to salve their middle-class guilt. How many of these same people sported virulently anti-Bush bumper stickers, but failed to vote, or, as important, to volunteer for the Kerry campaign? I don't know, but I do wonder.

Beware the impotent politics of self-absolution: i.e. the "Don't Blame Me, I Voted For Gore," and "I'm Sorry" (Bush Got Elected) memes propogated by the U.S. Left in '00 and '04, respectively. Excusing one's self from responsibility is not to be confused with taking responsibility.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:22 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


December 22, 2004

Take It Like A Man

If you choose to change your gender to female, you should bear the consequences like a man. That's my take, anyway. Tracey Nicole Sturchio, whose lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is proceeding, has another view.

According to a brief overview of Sturchio's case from the Human Rights Campaign (10th item down):

...a transgender woman employed by the U.S. Border Patrol since 1991, (Sturchio) sued her employer in April for compensatory and punitive damages, as well as mental anguish and emotional distress, for gender identity harassment. Sturchio was allegedly denied access to the women’s bathroom, prevented from wearing female attire to work, and subjected to harassment, including a survey of her co-workers about their perceptions of her physical condition and appearance.

While this has little to do with the government's attempt to dismiss the case, I believe that if you beg the question of changed gender identity, you had better get ready to bear the consequences. No matter what anyone says, there is something inherently disruptive when a co-worker decides to have his male organ removed, and makes that choice known. To think that co-workers will not notice, or have comments, is utopian. If I were Sturchio, and I shudder at the thought, I'd use a combination of wit and aggression to repel any comments or actions from co-workers I found to be offensive.

Unfortunately, in this day and age, "victims" like Sturchio hold their employers responsbile for the expected and imperfect human reactions to things such as sex-change surgery.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 07:55 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack



Dems: Here's a "Moral Values" Issue For Ya

Regular SF Chron guest op-ed columnist Jennifer Nelson is one of my favorite Blue City conservatives, that special breed who opine to a generally unsympathetic populace, which badly needs to hear another perspective. Nelson writes about a topic on which right-leaning commentators seem to have taken the lead: overly sexualized commercial culture aimed at kids and tweens. The Left forfeits leadership on such issues due to innate and crippling moral relativism, but as Nelson observes, liberals should be able to find common cause with conservatives here. Especially, I'd add, given the role of socially-irresponsible corporations, a favorite liberal target.

Nelson thinks when 12-year-old boys are instructed by their female classmates to buy thong underwear for the girls as Christmas gifts, that, yes, there's actually a problem.

Of course, with retailers like Abercrombie and Fitch around, why wouldn't young people think exchanging underwear for the holidays is normal? Marketing professionals and authors Kevin Clancy and Peter Klieg appropriately have nominated Abercrombie and Fitch for their marketing 2004 Hall of Shame award.

Over the years, Abercrombie and Fitch has angered parent groups with their racy quarterly "Field Guide" catalogue. The 2003 Christmas edition featured the headline "Group sex and more!" and included dozens of pictures of naked young men and women in various sexual poses. The retailer eventually bowed to public pressure and stopped selling the magazine early in the holiday season.

The company earned the Hall of Shame nomination not only because of its provocative circular but also due to other controversial marketing efforts, such as parading teen models in underwear to promote the opening of a new store in Boston and stocking little-girl-size thong underwear labeled with provocative slogans. You have to wonder about the thought process of corporate executives who gave the green light to selling skimpy underwear aimed at children.

....It's tough for parents, especially families in which both parents work full time, to stay on top of who their kids are hanging around with and what they are doing, as well as monitoring what they see and hear on the radio, television and computer.

...One of the problems with modern-day families, (...David, chair of Tufts University's Department of Child Development and author of "The Hurried Child,") Elkind adds, is that parents overschedule their kids. Our kids become a reflection of our competency -- of course they can play soccer, take flute lessons, practice karate, join a book club and learn Spanish, all at the same time! Elkind, believing that a little boredom can help kids develop healthy imaginations and reduce stress in their lives, advocates for fewer programmed activities in children's lives. I'll be interested to pick up his new book, "No Time for Play: The Over-Programmed Child," when it is released in 2005.

....kids today spend an average of 47 hours a week viewing media, compared to 17 hours a week spent with their parents.

...the concern...transcends political ideology. Advocating new social behaviors, a change in mass media aimed at kids and encouraging more family time sounds dangerously like the mind-set of a red-state voter. The reality is these issues, however, can be addressed while protecting political speech and individual freedoms, common concerns for people left of center. In fact, this issue may be the common ground by which to unite red-state and blue-state people.

...American kids may not have books, puzzles and wooden blocks on the top of their wish lists, but, by purchasing such presents, parents can help them discover their imagination and an ability to entertain themselves without any media influence.

I am now in a house full of parents and young children in Potomac, MD. With the exception of the odd Monty Python video (both meanings intended) the kids are watching no TV and spending no time on the computer (one blogging Dad is, however). There is not a handheld video game in the house. The kids are filling up coloring books, playing Battleship, listening to stories on CD, and running around making up their own games. There has been no special campaign to get them to engage in old-fashioned play. This is just what's going on. I'm betting the X-Mas presents will include a lot of books for the kids.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 07:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


December 20, 2004

Ken Mehlman's Textbook Win

Great profile of new RNC Chairman and Bush campaign general Ken Mehlman in the current issue of The Economist. One thing that jumps out regards tactics and the resulting outcome. Kerry's bunch outsourced their GOTV work, while Bush's campaign team - led by a savvy, patient, commited Mehlman - kept that work for the faithful, of which there were many.

In the last election, the Democrats seemed to take the more modern managerial approach: they contracted out much of the grunt work of politics to outside “527” organisations and made extensive use of paid canvassers to register and turn out voters. Trade unions paid 5,000 people to work full-time on the election, for example. By contrast, Mr Mehlman slowly built up a volunteer army of 1.4m loyal Republicans.

The volunteers made much better salespeople than the Democrats' paid hacks. (“Who do you find more believable?” asks Mr Mehlman. “A paid worker from outside or a friend and neighbour?”) They also operated under the political radar; the Democrats systematically underestimated the Republican effort. And they allowed Mr Bush's campaign dollars to stretch much further: in Ohio, the Bush-Cheney campaign had only a couple of hundred paid staff but 80,000 volunteers.

Yet this volunteer army also required an inordinate amount of management. Mr Mehlman dug up Republicans in the corners of America that campaign managers often overlooked—especially the new exurbs. He used all sorts of business metrics: marketing data to find potential supporters, performance measures to make sure they were doing their job and rewards to keep them motivated (successful volunteers were invited to Mr Bush's rallies, for example). He bristles at the idea that Democrats like Mr Dean won the internet wars. The Democrats used the internet primarily for fundraising, he says. The Republicans used it for organising, with 7.5m e-activists.

....the political terrain still looks better for the Republicans. Mr McAuliffe's successor will have to concentrate on shoring up his party's defences: hanging on to core Democratic constituencies such as blacks and Latinos. The Republicans are flourishing in almost all the fastest-growing bits of the country. If the biggest challenge in American politics is reinventing parties for the age of the internet and the exurb, then the Republicans are streets ahead of the opposition.

This from The Economist - hardly the GOP House organ. And all true, to boot.

Meanwhile, embittered Dems are sniping (here, here and here, among other places) that Mehlman may be a closeted gay, drawing this rebuttal from Powerline. Would that Dems put the same energy and passion into homegrown GOTV. Perhaps they are just not serious about winning anymore on the national stage?

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:11 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


December 16, 2004

Intelligent Design: The God Cooties Won't Getcha

Michigan-based uberblogger Dean Esmay says the more he learns about them, the less worried he is by the Seattle-based Discovery Institute. DI is a conservative think tank engaged, among many other things, in advocating the Intelligent Design theory of creation, a.k.a. ID.

While the idea that Darwinian theory doesn't explain everything in this realm clearly sets off alarms for some, Esmay counsels calm. He writes:

Why are some people so afraid of this discussion? Do they think they're going to get God Cooties or something? Will peer review be destroyed? Are we going to go back to burning heretics?

The debate over intelligent design is gaining steam in academic circles, among the public, and in the mainstream press. All of which is a fine thing, unless questioning authority makes you nervous.

In today's Seattle Times, Discovery Institute fellow and new entrant to the blogosphere Jonathan Witt lays out the case for ID.

....(a leading, now-former atheist named Anthony Flew has recently noted that).......even if Charles Darwin's theory of random variation and natural selection can explain how organisms evolved, the theory does not explain one crucial question: Where did a living, self-reproducing organism come from in the first place?

......If we trace evolution backwards, we reach a primitive single cell from which nothing simpler could survive and reproduce. How did it come to be? This first cell must be produced by something other than natural selection — a point Darwin readily conceded.

....in the 20th century, scientists were able to open that black box and peek inside. There they found not a simple blob, but a world of complex circuits, miniaturized motors and digital code.

......The amazing complexity of even the simplest cell; the information-bearing properties of DNA; the exquisite fine-tuning of the laws and constants of physics that make organic life possible; the Big Bang of the cosmos out of nothing — these signs of intelligence do not compel our belief in a God who thundered from Mount Sinai, lay in a manger or hung from a cross. But the evidence does have metaphysical implications, drawing us to a still place of wonder where such notions can be reasonably entertained.

Offering an opposing view on the same page of The Times is Huntington F. Willard, of the Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy at Duke University.

He concludes:

It is incumbent upon us to educate policymakers, integrate evolution into our science curricula, educate our children about the nature of scientific reasoning, distinguish between the natural and the metaphysical, and recognize those teachers and mentors who do communicate scientific ideals to their students and the public.

Allowing personal and non-scientific ideology into our science classrooms would do profound damage to the future of science and medicine.

I think the interplay between science, philosophy and religion is fascinating, and that this sort of crossover exemplifies a good liberal arts education. I'd rather see my kids - or anyone else's - going at just such thorny issues than glomming on to Gender Studies, Textual Analysis, Deconstructionism, or Imperialism 101.

True, in environmental and other disputes it can be wise to raise the cudgel of science, particularly where "junk science" or unfounded assertions are being proferred. But pure science is not the only prism through which to view, debate and ponder the origins of man and the universe. While science has enriched our health dramatically, and our lives in many other ways as well, it may well not explain all the mysteries of the universe.

To attack this premise, as Willard does, is to be ultimately unreflective. And to me, that is a far worse epithet than unscientific.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 05:41 PM | Comments (23) | TrackBack



San Francisco Gun Ban Would Further Isolate National Dems

The utopian visionary fruitcakes who run the City and County of San Francisco Tuesday submitted a planned Nov. '06 ballot proposal to ban handguns.

Listen, I love San Francisco, and visit often, staying with friends in The Mission, and going all over town with my kids on public transportation. I've explored just about every neighborhood in the city. And I'll even share the names of some great ones usually overlooked in the paint-by-numbers write-ups. Explore Portero Hill, The Richmond, Bernal Heights, and Inner and Outer Sunset, for starters.

I've walked from one end of the city to the other, met strangers, found amazing little restaurants and especially playgrounds and parks for the kids. There's no place like SF. But I'll tell you one thing. If there's one city where you should be able to exercise your right to carry an equalizer, it's this one. (Alright: LA, DC, Chicago, Detroit, Miami, Philly, Newark and NYC, too).

If this makes the ballot, SF's addle-brained electorate will certainly approve it. Afterward, the measure might be overturned in court, but that's no certainty. Washington, D.C. has a gun ban in place now. If the SF measure passes, it will only further cement the perception that the city and Blue America in general are completely disconnected from reality. And THAT will damage the Democratic Party even more.

Supes, here's the deal, and I don't belong to the NRA: if voters choose to "outlaw" guns, only the cops and criminals will have them.

And there are never enough cops. The problem is the criminals with guns, not the guns themselves, or the law-abiding citizens who have guns for self-defense. With a gun ban, they will be easy meat for the hoodlums. That will be shameful, and will hasten the city's further decline.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 02:50 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack


December 15, 2004

Intolerance, Zealotry Reign At San Francisco State

Writing in the Chron, San Francisco State University grad Cinnamon Stillwell says the recent turmoil there caps a 10-year campaign of liberal intolerance directed (now) toward campus Republicans, and (previously) Jewish students.

San Francisco State University has been in the spotlight lately, and the picture that has emerged is not a flattering one. Following last month's nationwide elections, members of the SFSU chapter of the College Republicans were confronted by an angry mob simply for setting up a table and handing out political literature. Members of the International Socialist Organization, the General Union of Palestinian Students and others surrounded the Republican students, shouting at them to "get out" of SFSU.

...SFSU has a reputation for intolerance that goes back at least 10 years. In this case, Republican students, clearly a minority at SFSU, were the targets. But in the past, such animosity was directed mostly at Jewish students or those seen as supporting Israel. Jews at SFSU have been spat on, called names and physically attacked, as well as censured by the administration for defending themselves, even as their attackers went unpunished.

The case of Tatiana Menaker, a Russian Jewish emigré and former SFSU student, is an example of the latter indignity. After committing the "crime" of responding verbally to another student's anti-Semitic epithets during a 2002 rally, she found herself...pulled into a kangaroo court, threatened with expulsion and ordered by the university to perform 40 hours of community service (but specifically not for a Jewish organization), ...(then)...later exonerated after seeking legal assistance from the Students for Academic Freedom and the local Jewish Community Relations Council. But the damage was done.

....In 1994, the Student Union Governing Board commissioned a mural to honor the late Black Muslim revolutionary Malcolm X....the finished product ...(included)...Stars of David juxtaposed with dollar signs, skulls and crossbones, and the words "African blood"... on May 26, 1994, under the guard of police in riot gear, the mural was sandblasted......

Stillwell also remarks:

...The flyers hung all over campus in April 2002 displaying a Palestinian baby on a soup-can label and the words "Palestinian Children Meat, slaughtered according to Jewish rites under American license" hardly constitute legitimate criticism. Then there was a "Peace in the Middle East" rally, organized by the SFSU Hillel chapter on May 7, 2002. This seemingly innocuous event was beset by pro-Palestinian protesters bellowing such enlightened statements as "Zionists off the campus now," "Go back to Germany, where they knew how to deal with you" and "Hitler should have finished the job."

....As for SFSU, it remains to be seen whether the administration will exorcise the cancer of extremism on campus or allow it to fester. While pontificating about "free speech," ....the SFSU administration continue(s) to underestimate the growing radicalism in their own backyard. As a result, what began with attacks on Jewish students has now spread outward to any students who don't share the liberal politics of the majority.

I'm all for vigorous debate of controversial issues. And I have little use for self-appointed or institutional "hate speech" police, even if it's Jews or Republicans being abused. People, even those not quite yet at the cusp of adulthood, are best left to sort these things out on their own. This can include, but must not be limited to, the court of public opinion. I lament that so many students today at radical hotbeds like SFSU put their passion for identity-badge protest and activism over learning, when they still have so much to learn. A smart person knows how much they don't know.

At campuses such as SFSU, mandated multiculturalism has smothered free inquiry and civil discourse. One's quest for knowledge, like one's quest for good music, should be catholic ("comprehensive, universal, broad in sympathies, tastes or interests" - Webster's).

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 04:39 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack



Dutch Society Crumbling; & Links

At Peeve Farm, Brian Tiemann highlights a Telegraph article on the breakdown of Dutch society and the beginnings of a middle-class exodus.

Coddled young Japanese women are moving to Paris with ridiculously idealized expectations, and then freaking out, Expatica reports. Hat tip: Right Thinking From The Left Coast.

Skor Grimm doesn't want 500 channels. No, not at all. Rants like this are one reason I like Skor. You will also like Skor. You should read Skor, often.

The Portland Tribune offers a revealing profile of a homeless mom. Link via Portland blogger Jack Bogdanski, who TODAY is holding his second annual Buck-A-Hit charity fundraiser. For every visit to his site by midnight (as measured by SiteMeter), he and his wife will set aside one dollar, with the total to be divided among the Oregon Food Bank, the food pantry of St. Philip Neri Parish, and the Daybreak Shelter for homeless families. You should visit Jack's site anyway, so why not today? It's a fine mix of Portland-area and Oregon news and commentary. Jack's a tax law professor, so if so he happens to blog in his pajamas, I don't really care, OK?

Finally, Robert Hayes at Let's Try Freedom on Why Rumsfeld Should Stay.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 07:42 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


December 14, 2004

Tragicomic Lady Boxer Seeks Match

You might not think this story is really about education, the will of man, and the corrupting force of celebrity culture. But I will peevishly insist that it is. Ex-Olympic figure skating hopeful Tonya Harding, widely believed to have arranged the 1994 knee-bashing of her rival Nancy Kerrigan, is now a professional boxer.

And she's looking for an opponent in her scheduled Jan. 19 fight in the Philadelphia area: man or woman, 125 lbs. or less. In a previous match, Tonya defeated Paula Jones. Supposedly she's a tough cookie. I don't doubt it. She's got a lot to be angry about.

This is all so ineffably sad. That Ms. Harding should have so few other options would tug at my heart, if I didn't believe she were ultimately responsible for her own plight.

At the same time, Tonya's sorry saga highlights the seamy underside of our media-fueled, celebrity culture - now open to all, thanks to reality TV. The main thing is to be noticed, no matter how degrading or banal the requirements. Media scribes and TV "entertainment beat reporters" insidiously play along, with ultimately witless commentary (pro or con) on the latest reality TV shows and episodes. Will this show get high ratings? What's it missing? Who will get voted off the island or out of the group house tonight, or fired by The Donald? Who will eat more ants and lick more greasy spark plugs than the rest? Who will most convincingly abase themself before a stranger with some implausible story? (Winner to be determined by instant online poll -- this is what "community" means now).

We join in the chatter over the water cooler, and then shrug and chuckle over stories like Harding's.

What next Tonya, after your current freak-show run ends? Female mud-wrestling in dives near airports? Hope you're working on a Plan B. The longer you're addicted to the spotlight, the narrower it's going to get. And the more wretched your life will become.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 01:40 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


December 13, 2004

Golden State Anomie

Departing San Francisco Board of Supervisors member and failed Green Party mayoral candidate Matt Gonzales has permitted a graffiti "artist" to spray paint the words "Smash The State" on his office walls.

What next for this "male, tan swan"? The possibilities seem endless.

Down the road just a piece in Santa Cruz, thanks to anti-social vagrants who've been encouraged by local mores to adopt expulsive self-entitlement as a religion, downtown is in the crapper. Literally AND figuratively.

Howsabout a nice orderly.......WAL-MART on the outskirts of town? Could be time, methinks.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 01:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack



Self-Actualization in Seattle

Aggrieved Dems are dealing with four more years of Bush The Antichrist in various ways. By now you've certainly heard about the Post-Election Stress Trauma, or PEST therapy sesssions being run in Boca Raton, Fl., replete with all manner of unseemly venting. (The last link is David Reinhard's satirical PEST column in The Oregonian, free reg. req., and well worth it). Though the Washington Times (FWIW) claims PEST-like confabs are afoot in Washington State as well, I've not been able to Google up any such evidence, using a range of keywords.

Nonetheless, perhaps some Seattle PEST workshops would be better - and more cleansing - than what Seattle liberals ARE doing this week, in the wake of November.

More Nader meetings. Whites fighting "institutional racism." Calling people "grinches." Holding "peace vigils." "Women in Black" silenty protesting U.S. policy in Afghanistan. A "Poets Against The War" circle jerk at a liberal bookstore. "Radical women" meeting to watch a Rupert Murdoch takedown flick and eat vegetarian food. A pilgrimmage to hold immigrants above the law. And a pro-choice organizing workshop for teens.

More courtesy of the venerable Seattle Community Network online bulletin board of "Peace and Justice Events". (For additional information, click through to the SCN link above and scroll down). From a purely anthropological perspective, some of these select events may be well worth attending.

Parenthetical, italicized comments after entries are by yours truly.

MON DEC 13, and subsequent Mondays, 7 - 9 pm, at Cascade People's Center, 309 Pontius Ave N, Seattle near downtown REI; Stand Up! - Seattle, formerly NADER/CAMEJO 2004 Seattle meeting. Entire community is welcome.

(Hope they've got a big room!)

TUES DEC 14...7:30 - 8:30 a.m...Woodland Park Aurora pedestrian overpasses, meet on the northernmost overpass in Woodland Park, Seattle; PHINNEY NEIGHBORS FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE. Cover the three pedestrian overpasses in Woodland Park with Peace Signs and Banners.

(Bush operatives are already cringing in anticipation!)

TUES DEC 14, 9 - 11:30 a.m., at King County Bar Association, 1200 Fifth Ave, Suite 600, Seattle; Justice Works! Prisoner/Ex-prisoner Support Team participates in Re-entry and Transition Reform Coalition, an organization whose mission is undoing racism in the criminal justice system as experienced by African Americans.

(And as articulated by guilty white liberals).

TUES DEC 14, 6 p.m., at Local 6, SEIU - 150 Denny Way, Seattle, entrance in back; Join JOBS WITH JUSTICE as we celebrate the holidays with our 10th annual `Grinch Of The Year Party'; Bring Potluck Desserts. $5. Children free. No one turned away for lack of funds. All proceeds to benefit WA State Jobs with Justice.

(What, no Santa of the year? You guys are so DOWNBEAT!)

WEDS DEC 15, and subsequent Wednesdays, 7 - 8:30 a.m., at 60th Street pedestrian overpass on I-405, Kirkland; join Evergreen Peace and Justice Community, in a WEEKLY PEACE VIGIL, Theme: No War, Good Morning Vietnam, US Out of Iraq, Quagmire, The War was based on Lies, End the Occupation.

(You left out: "Respect Saddam's Civil Rights").

WEDS DEC 15, and subsequent Wednesdays, 5:30 - 6:30 p.m., at NW Market St and 22nd NW, Seattle; WEEKLY PEACE VIGIL IN BALLARD, started by two women who felt compelled to express their dissent about the Iraq war. The focus is on ending the war, the occupation, prison abuse, and the theft of our country's wealth for military purposes. Ballard Peace Activists (BPA) has been vigiling now at this location for more than a year and a half. Please join us for this interactive vigil/ discussion....open to all points of view.

(You mean you'll let me stand next to you, on public property, even if I voice pro-Iraq War and pro-Bush views? Big of you!)

WEDS DEC 15, and generally 3rd Wednesdays, please confirm, 6 p.m. potluck, 6:30 p.m. meeting, at University Friends Meeting Social Hall, 4001 9th Avenue NE, Seattle; meeting of The Coalition of anti-racist whites, a community-based organization, working to undo institutionalized racism. We work toward that goal through both education and action. We strive to be accountable to and actively support groups led by People of Color.

(But do they return your phone calls?)

THURS DEC 16, and subsequent Thursdays; 5 - 6 p.m., at Westlake Park near 4th and Pine, Seattle; PEACE VIGIL to protest U.S. policy in Afghanistan, Palestine/Israel and Iraq with silent/visible presence, leaflets, and info table, by Women in Black, Women wear black; men welcome to stand at the sidelines or to leaflet; a peace group in the tradition of the women who vigil weekly in Israel /Palestine; Seattle Women in Black have been standing every Thursday for nearly three years, and have passed out more than 40,000 leaflets opposing war, violence, hatred and prejudice.

(Keep on leafleting, sisters! I'll keep on recycling!)

THURS DEC 16, and subsequent 3rd Thursdays, 7 p.m., at Third Place Books, 20th NE and NE 65th, Seattle; POETS AGAINST THE WAR meeting with a short business and discussion period and a poetry reading, with a data base of over 14,000 poets who contributed antiwar poems to the web site in the last 4 months from poets all over the world, has a Seattle group meeting. All poets are welcome! And friends of poets too. They are planning to stay organized and continue to write poetry, with the thought of expanding their name to Poets For Humanity, info Beth Coyote....

(And I am starting Electric Guitarists For Killing Terrorists).

THURS DEC 16, 7:30 p.m., at New Freeway Hall, 5018 Rainier Ave S, 4 blocks south of S. Alaska St. on the #7 bus line; RADICAL WOMEN Meeting with free screening of "Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism." Dinner with Vegetarian Option at 6:30 p.m. for $6.50 donation.

(What's the meat option? Chicken?).

THURS DEC 16, 5 - 7 pm, begins at the old I.N.S detention building, 6th Ave S. and Airport Way in downtown Seattle; The Comité Pro-Amnistía General y Justicia Social is planning and organizing an action. The event will be a short march with stops at four sites in the form of the Latino Christmas celebration of Posada commemorating the journey of the parents of Jesus to their home town during a Roman census. Their inability to find lodging resulted in their sheltering themselves in a simple animal stable for the birth of their child. Even though this is the main idea, we hold this event to be ecumenical and open to all religious and non-religious beliefs in favor of immigrant worker rights. This Posada demonstration is one of many others across the country on the same date, organized by the National Coalition for Dignity and Amnesty. The motive for this holiday action is to draw attention to the journeys and plight of millions of immigrant workers that contribute socially and economically to the United States and who still continue seek refuge, security and human rights in this country. Here in Seattle and in many parts of the country, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office (I. C. E.) of the Homeland Security Department is conducting 'sweeps' of local areas of immigrant concentration, for the stated purpose of locating persons with either criminal convictions or deportation citations.

(We certainly wouldn't want law enforcement to take into custody any immigrants with arrest warrants, criminal convictions or deportation citations, would we?)

FRI DEC 17, and subsequent Fridays, 6:30 pm until ? pm, call to verify, at The Major Visibility Project office, 915 West Blaine, on Queen Anne Hill, Best parking is on 9th or 10th Ave W, Seattle; the famous "Friday night buzz", NADER POTLUCK AND WORKPARTY. This is where we get our materials together and have some fun doing it!

(Get your Nader materials together for.....what, exactly?)

FRI DEC 17, 7 pm, at UW Campus, Kane Hall Rm 210., Seattle; Opposing U.S. Empire, Forging International Solidarity....Noted Latin Americanist and critic of neoliberalism and imperialism, James Petras. Sponsored by African Youth United, American Friends Service Committee, Community Coalition for Environmental Justice, Draft Nader 08, EveryWorkers Movement, People For Fair Trade, Peoples Coalition For Justice, Peoples Institute NW/Coalition to Undo Racism Everywhere and Seattle Young People's Project.

(Ah, now I see. Draft Nader '08! THERE'S a plan!)

SAT DEC 18, 10 am - 4 p.m., at University of Washington Campus, Seattle; NARAL PRO-CHOICE WASHINGTON'S YOUTH LEADERSHIP SUMMIT for High School and College Students is your chance to learn valuable advocacy skills and find out what you can do to help protect the pro-choice future we all need and deserve.

(Because, as you know, looming Bush appointees to the Supreme Court will "turn back the clock" on federally-protected abortion rights).

So many choices. So much to fear and loathe. So many hamster wheels in the gilded cage. See ya at the Nader potluck.

UPDATE: Howard, at Oraculations, has done some digging and can find no evidence of the existence of the organization sponsoring the FL PEST sessions. He wonders if the PEST therapy meetings (which ARE documented) are less institutionally sanctified than thought; and ponders some related suppositions.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:16 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


December 10, 2004

Dem Warns Against Democratic Bigotry

A Northeastern U.S. Democrat with Seattle roots is worried about Democratic bigotry. Ira B. Shapiro lets it fly in yesterday's Seattle Times. According to the tagline to his guest op-ed, he not only sold pizza at the Seattle World's Fair in 1962, he was also later the founder and president of a photography, graphics and art publishing company; the co-founder of a video-game company; and associate publisher of an acclaimed photo boook about the lives of Soviet citizens. He currently resides in the vicinity of Litchfield, Conn.

Shapiro shares an anecdote about Republicans who became too intense with him in some political discussions on a vacation tour of Uruguay. Fair enough, and duly noted. But he saves the majority of his space to offer some observations about what he fears is ideological bigotry on the part of fellow Dems. Here's some of what he says:

I was a guest at a dinner party a month later in which all of us were Democrats. I was uncomfortable with some radical ideas proposed and some anti-Bush invectives spittled out. At one point, I mentioned a thought that a Republican friend might have offered had he been there, and I was confronted with an astonishing question:

"How do you know a Republican?"

I guessed the intelligent former journalist and book author was putting me on.

"Is that a serious question?" I asked him.

"Yes, I really want to know."

"Well, the farmers, carpenters, plumbers, some shopkeepers; I know a couple of lawyers, doctors, all four boards I've been on are predominantly Republican. Do you really not know any?" He said he did not.

Nor did a 35-year-old market researcher in Chappaqua I questioned. A 72-year-old violinist in the Upper West Side of Manhattan knew two — one the doorman to his 100-plus unit co-op.

At a local symposium about "Iraq and the Media" that was attended by maybe 50 mostly gray-haired Democrats, I asked a question and mentioned that a "Republican I know... " The room was instantly silenced and frozen.

The hostility and suspicion I felt was palpable. I was more than a trespasser — I was a spy from the enemy in the camp of these liberal thinkers.

Afterward with a cookie in hand, the journalist from the dinner party asked me "if I would introduce him to a Republican." He still did not seem to be teasing me.

Weeks later at another dinner of six couples, one artist admitted that she "would never have a Republican in her house for dinner" and clearly wrote me off for doing it myself. When I explained that one Republican friend was a college roommate, she and her husband admitted that old friends might be an exception, "but how could you talk with him? What would you have in common?"

I thought liberal meant open to new ideas and respecting others' opinions. These liberals I've met recently seem close-minded, insulated and living in a very dark vacuum. Isn't that how bigots behave?

Kudos to Shapiro for stating what too many people have forgotten. As a moderate conservative living in Seattle, surrounded by Democrats, I've been living Shapiro's advice for quite some time. Most of my closest friends are Democrats. Although partly through blogging I have started to become friendly with some very cool folks from Seattle and nearby, who are independents, Democratic hawks, or lean Republican. Big surprise for Seattle libs: they're not NASCAR fans or Jesus freaks, but predominantly techies, writers, and artists.

Meanwhile, upholding the harsh orthodoxy of The Left, the current Seattle Weakly has a long article wondering, "Is Bush The AntiChrist?" You'll especially appreciate the graphic of W., replete with cloven hooves and little pointy horns.

Plus ca change, plus la meme chose, n'est ce pas?

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 04:48 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack



We're All Animals

It's always distasteful when adult authority figures force kids into warped social engineering experiments. I still remember one night at summer camp when my counselor sprung this: he mandated that our cabin full of 11-year-old boys would hold a lights out encounter session, where we all had to share our totally honest feelings - all relevant details required - about each cabin-mate, whether we loathed them or liked them. And he tape recorded it, to boot. Kids have a way of making their feelings toward each other clear enough, without adults orchestrating things.

Weird stuff happens in schools, too. Like this story from today's Seattle Times: a Tacoma elementary school teaching aide served up dog food to pre-schoolers on paper plates this Monday, and is now on paid leave while the district investigates.

The preschoolers were part of an early-education class at Northeast Tacoma Elementary School, where they had been moving between "learning goal stations" around the room Monday afternoon, said Tacoma School District spokeswoman Patti Holmgren.

A family-service worker, who usually supervises the class, had stepped out of the room and left a teaching assistant in charge, Holmgren said.

When a few of the students pretended to be puppies, getting down on their hands and knees and barking, the assistant attempted to encourage their playacting by fetching "props" from next door: a packet of dry dog food and some sunflower seeds that she poured on paper plates and placed on the floor, Holmgren said.

Some of the students ate the sunflower seeds, and a few allegedly nibbled on the kibble — although the district maintains they spit out the dog food and that no one suffered any ill effects.

The dog food had come from a display intended to teach the preschoolers "what not to eat," Holmgren said.

.....Brenda Dattilo, whose 4-year-old daughter is in the class, said she was appalled by the incident. "It's completely inappropriate and inexcusable," she said.

While she appreciates encouraging child development through imaginary play, "I don't see any educational value in running around acting like dogs, eating dog food off paper plates on the floor," Dattilo said.

Holmgren said playacting is developmentally appropriate for preschoolers, but acknowledged that giving the children dog food "was not a good judgment call."

"No harm was intended," Holmgren said. "[The teaching assistant] thought she was being creative. ... It just didn't turn out very well."

Guess I must be some kind of Nazi parent. If my four-year-old gets on her hands and knees and starts barking like a dog, she gets one warning and then a timeout if she keeps it up. Same deal for her shrieking monkey impression, too. I'm really not very fond of it, wonderful child though she is. She does plenty of much healthier play-acting while managing to maintain as much dignity as a four-year-old can.

As for the dog food served to the students, it echoes another incident this year. Near Tacoma, in the town of University Place, a sixth-grade public school student was forced against her will to eat meal worms by a teacher as part of a "Fear Factor"-like class exercise. And it was captured on video.

I'll tell you exactly what's going on (you expect no less, right?) The radical animal rights agenda is seeping into public schools, dribble by dribble (or is that kibble by kibble?) as educators subtly, and not so subtly indoctrinate impressionable kids. Sure you can eat worms! Birds do it! Play like a dog! Get down on your hands and knees and bark! Now let's see if you're smart enough to eat the "right" food off a plate on the floor! Good kiddie! (...kitty, puppy).

The not-so-hidden message: We're all animals, and conversely, animals have feelings and rights just like humans. Such propoganda is increasingly plausible to leftist public educators in an age when Meat is Murder, there's a chicken Holocaust On Your Plate and a Fish Empathy campaign.

Heads up to the Tacoma school district: I've got a great "play-acting" exercise for the pre-schoolers at Northeast Tacoma Elementary. Best of all, it involves units of measurement, tactile sensations, teamwork, heat conduction, attention to detail, manners, and role-playing as provider and nurturer. Have them use a recipe to make themselves some nice, well-cooked.......hamburger patties.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:20 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


December 09, 2004

David Keenan Vs. Rick Steves; & Links

Read every last word of this contextual, passionate, and beautifully-written post by Seattle Sense's David Keenan, rebutting Rick Steves' recent "we must understand the terrorists" plaint in the Seattle P-I. David: you should start submitting some guest op-ed pieces to the Seattle dailies. Serious.

Yet more high-quality conservative entrants into the Puget Sound blogosphere. Courtesy of Bill Hobbs, all the way over thar in Tennessee, I've discovered The Witts. Jonathan Witt is a former literature professor and now Senior Fellow and Writer in Residence at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute's Center For Science and Culture. His wife Amanda is a Ph.D and is currently home-schooling their children. Together they have started Welcome to Witting Shire. And this post, written by Amanda, contemplates what's behind the grim faces so often worn by so many Seattleites.

The sea of blogs has many islands of sanity, we told each other. Was there really any need for yet another? The answer came, appropriately, during a trip across the Sound.

Wednesday morning we woke the kids early and took them across the water on the ferry to spend the day in Seattle. Jonathan walked to his office while the kids and I shopped at Pike Place Market, then hiked back down to the waterfront to spend the afternoon at the Seattle Aquarium.

Downtown and the waterfront were gilded with sparkling lights and dancing fountains; savory smells wafted from restaurants, as did an eclectic array of music--Pachelbel, Charlie Brown’s Christmas, Louis Armstrong. Our boys leaped from square to square on the sidewalk, determined not to step on cracks, pausing impatiently when their sister oohed at yet another window display of strange instruments, exotic animals, glittery jewels. It was a lovely day, teeming with wonder.

Yet as best as I could tell, we were the only ones on the street or in the stores enjoying ourselves. The panhandlers, of course, were angrily demanding their rightful fees, but it was more than that. The shopkeepers seemed anxious, the clerks morose, and the crowds of holiday shoppers grim as they shouldered past tables piled with local artwork. Almost everyone wore chic but mournful black; almost everyone looked harsh and guarded. Indeed, only once did someone smile a genuine, wholehearted smile when we made eye contact.

What was wrong with everyone? On the ferry home, studying our miserable fellows, I put that question to Jonathan.

He shrugged. “Their ideology is finally seeping into their souls.”

This is what he meant: If you believe that man is nothing but a random collection of atoms, geared only toward self-preservation and bound by no moral imperatives, there comes a point when all your loud demands for justice and equality begin to ring hollow in the void of the universe.....But what if all those miserable people are mistaken? Perhaps the world is a sensible place, shining with meaning and morality that is, blessedly, not dependent upon us. Perhaps after all there is something to smile about.

This blog is dedicated to restoring our sense, and with it, our sense of humor.

Apparently, they live somewhere across Puget Sound. Welcome, Witts. FYI, another Discovery Institute Senior Fellow and fine local conservative blogger (not to mention frequent guest op-ed contributor to The Seattle Times) is James J. Na, who writes primarily on national security and foreign policy. His blog is Guns and Butter.

Via Booker Rising comes this frank column from black conservative writer Gregory Kane, regarding black-on-black violence. That's a topic I covered as a white journalist in Seattle, including in this Seattle Times column (free reg. req.). Somehow, I was the only journalist at this particular, well-publicized community event. Can't imagine why. (Follow-up forums involving the same organization HAVE gotten broader play). Kane asserts that blacks who slap the "Uncle Tom" label on black conservatives obscure the real threat to their communities: the angry, violent "Bigger Thomases" (after a character in Richard Wright's Native Son) who hurt and kill other blacks.

Tom Elia at The New Editor is cracked up by The Houston Chronicle's interview with Texas gubernatorial candidate, singer-songwriter and whodunnit writer Kinky Friedman. The Kinkster is one of a kind.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 01:14 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack



Bush-Bashing Scottish Labour MP Rejects Eagle As National Bird

Conservative and Labour members of a parliamentary committee in Scotland have been clashing over whether to name the golden eagle Scotland's national bird. One leading Labour MP said she was opposed to the eagle, intimating it symbolized America's war-mongering imperialistic tendencies as personified by George W. Bush. Never mind the difference between bald eagles and golden eagles. She wanted the dove of peace, instead.

Here is the transcript from the committee hearing. (The following excerpt can be located more quickly if you dial up "Bush" on your browser's highlighter).

(Conservative MP and Golden Eagle backer Annabelle Goldie)......If the Parliament was minded to consider any bird as a national emblem for Scotland, it has to be something that, at first sight, is synonymous with and is already an icon of Scotland. However meritorious the dove might be—

(Labour MP) Helen Eadie: But the eagle reminds people of Bush and all the worst aspects of aggression. The eagle is one of the emblems of America.

Miss Goldie: It does not. If I may say so, that is an unfortunate ornithological lapse. The committee member is confusing the bald-headed eagle with the golden eagle. As a Scot, my blood rises and courses through my veins to think that there could be any possible confusion. The golden eagle is, of course, an indigenous Scot and a dramatic, heroic and fine example of all the best qualities of Scotland.

Tell it, Miss Goldie!

The country's leading daily newspaper, The Scotsman, editorialized (third item, bottom):

Due to a division of opinion that could be seen as a challenge to the eagle’s political correctness, the committee is to write to the Scottish Executive urging it to get involved in the decision. How could the choice of national bird be politically contentious?

It all started when The Scotsman began a public campaign in favor of the golden eagle. Also throwing weight behind the golden eagle was Scotland's version of the Audobon society, known as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

One Duncan Orr-Ewing (God, dontcha just luv names like that?) of the RSPB put it nicely:

The Scottish people have voted and chosen the golden eagle as our national bird. We hope the Scottish Parliament public petitions committee will now endorse this proposal.

The majestic golden eagle, regarded by many as ‘the king of birds’, is a fitting ambassador for Scotland and is embedded in our culture - eagle feathers were worn by clan chiefs as part of ceremonial dress. Scotland has one of the most important golden eagle populations in the world, in terms of number of breeding pairs, and everyone recognises this species as typically Scottish, a symbol of beautiful and rugged landscapes.

Unfortunately, however, for Duncan Orr-Ewing and other golden eagle backers, the decision is, ah, up in the air, and not just because an ornithologically-challenged Labour MP sees the golden eagle as Bush's bird of war. A recent RSPB poll has found the humdrum robin is the favorite birds of Scotsmen (er, excuse me, Scotspersons).

Sad to say, though, the robin is already the national bird of England, according to this BBC Scottish politics round-up (last paragraph in link). Scotland's ongoing identity crisis as a stepchild of the UK will surely not be lessened by adopting Mother England's national bird as its own.

The most recent (Dec. 1) news reports on the turnabout were curiously silent about any further action by Parliament or the Executive one way or other.

To them I say: Dither no more. The eyes of the world are upon you. Let the Golden Eagle fly.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


December 08, 2004

Canadian Freedom Fighters, and Links

Top secret Canadian commandos of Joint Task Force 2 were awarded the coveted U.S. Presidential Unit Citation by George W. Bush yesterday in California. It's for their work helping U.S. forces oust the despotic Taliban regime of Aghanistan, which gave aid and cover to Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda. Link to today's Toronto Sun report via Canadian blogger Kate, at Small Dead Animals. Kate hopes the awardees aren't given the cold shoulder by their countrymen, as happened recently to some Canadian recipients of the U.S. military's Bronze Star.

Bonnie, at the always arresting blog "What Kind of Sick Weirdo Are You?," links to the Jewsweek 2004 holiday gift guide. Pretty funny stuff, and some good gift ideas for the Jews in your life (what, there aren't any?).

My favorites are the Aish HaTorah membership including an iPod loaded with Torah lessons; and then, for interfaith couples, Labradoodles. Gotta say, tho, I don't really think much of the "Santa Hates Jewish Kids" t-shirt.

Even jokey-jokey-like, that kinda victim stuff chafes; the same way it's possible for Jews like me to grow tired of the ceaseless Holocaust Remembrance meme. Yes...it happened, yes it was despicable, and yes there are plenty of morons who want to deny it, and obviously hate Jews.....but we're not going to change their minds.....so MOVE ON! And if some of them happen to be Islamofascist terorrists bent on killing Jews, Americans and sundry other Westerners, well we're already taking these bastards on for reasons far beyond the mere preservation of Jewdom.

The political, the cultural and the everyday are always much on Seattle-ite Ambra Nykol's mind at her highly-regarded blog, Nykola. Here a few of Ambra's observations on a recent trip to the mall:

There is a running competition among 15-year-old girls to see who can wear the least amount of clothing in the lowest degree weather. It's currently a tie.

Salespeople should be required by law to wait at least 3 nanoseconds before abruptly asking, "Are you looking for something special today?" Why yes I am Suzie. I'm looking for you to ease back just a smidge, thanks.

Kimberly Swygert, the famous blond psychometrician (hey, she's OK with the term - see the comment string in this post) is a fine education blogger as well. Kimberly writes today that griping aside, the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act are really taking root on a state-by-state basis. That's a good thing.

Now, rather than continue contemplating a lowered "pass" threshhold on NCLB-mandated WASL tests in Washington state, our education movers and shakers should consider adding 11th and 12th-grade WASLs, and their successful completion, as a high school graduation requirement. The final 10th-grade WASL is insufficient to measure whether graduating 12th-graders have the necessary skills to succeed in college or anywhere else. That would seem obvious and perhaps it is, but apparently self-esteem is more important than preparation.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:11 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack



Is Your Dinner Sexy?

I'm always happy to hear from my Sound Politics colleague and veteran Puget Sound-based blogger Jim Miller. He wonders if a beef roast can really be termed "nubile," a label I applied in this post yesterday.

Jim notes that the original meaning of nubile is "marriageable."

My reply to Jim's most worthy e-mail was as follows:

Jim, actually I am a dirty old man. Another, perhaps-related meaning for nubile, acc. to my Webster's, is "well endowed, sexually." Which in usages of "nubile" I have seen over the years in fiction etc., has morphed, in my mind at least, to a more general, "sexy," "comely," or "attractive." Which to a food lover like me, certainly can apply to a succulent roast. But while I love a good roast, I must admit I cannot see one as "marriageable."

Though perhaps with the right court ruling that could change.

BTW, it was a rump roast.

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



Beeb Reaches Out To Provinces

Anyone who finds the U.S. MSM too obsessed with the politics and personalities of America's culturally-dominant metropoli (NY, DC, LA) will find this tidbit of interest.

The Scotsman (free reg. req.) reports that not only is the BBC cutting staff by almost 10 percent, and its budget by 15 percent, it is also re-locating some programming-related staff from London to Manchester in order to connect better with listeners in the provinces.

BBC staff were also told that 1,800 employees would be transferred to Manchester, over the next five years, in order to build up a new regional centre. This is designed to counter the image of the BBC as London-centric and will mean the transfer of BBC Sport, Radio 5 Live and children’s TV and radio.

(BBC Director General Mark) Thompson said the new BBC media centre in Manchester would help the corporation reconnect with communities across the UK: "It will change our tone of voice and open our doors to new talent and perspectives."

I'm just a war-mongering Yank, but I think The Beeb could certainly stand a change in "tone of voice." I recall hearing it piped onto Seattle's KUOW-FM public radio station days after our 2003 entry into Iraq and was jarred by the unctuous and sneeringly anti-American tone of the announcers, one after another.

On the plus side, I have to say that as a blogger, I've been impressed with the BBC's web news side. I'm sure I'm forgetting about some or another black eye that division has suffered, but it's often been a solid resource with valuable background links and first-rate on-site reporting and commentary. One example being The Congo.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:29 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


December 07, 2004

Natalists and Links

Got a nice e-mail from fellow ex-Chicagoan Tom Elia, who runs an excellent and aptly-named Austin, TX-based blog called The New Editor. You must check it out. Tom writes about and today links to a whole lotta good stuff, including this piece I had missed. The NYT's David Brooks picks up on the Joel Kotkin meme of Red America breeders as a growing force in national politics.

Brooks calls these folk "natalists" (I like that), and writes:

Natalists are associated with red America, but they're not launching a jihad. The differences between them and people on the other side of the cultural or political divide are differences of degree, not kind. Like most Americans, but perhaps more anxiously, they try to shepherd their kids through supermarket checkouts lined with screaming Cosmo or Maxim cover lines. Like most Americans, but maybe more so, they suspect that we won't solve our social problems or see improvements in our schools as long as many kids are growing up in barely functioning families.

More links for a Tuesday morning, then it's down to the Tenzing Momo herbal apothecary at Pike Place Market for chopped licorice root, peppermint, lemon verbena and kava; plus a nice, nubile, First Night of Hannukah roast beef from Don & Joe's, Seattle's finest meat market.

At his blog Au Fait, a computer progammer living deep in heart of Red America (Lynchburg, VA) argues we're not a divided nation in the least: it's just that Dems are letting the wrong folk hold the microphone. You're sure right about that last part, Jeff, and if the new U.S. Senate Democratic Leader, Harry Reid, can somehow arrange for the silencing of the Michael Moore-Whoopi Goldberg-Alec Baldwin wing of the party, then I'll KNOW he's a master politician. Anyway, warm up that ackee and salt cod for me, OK? Or maybe jerk chicken? (I'll bring the Lancer's).

At Sunbreak City, Seattle's Tough Love Democrat Doug Anderson has some sage words for his party:

The Democrats must lower the mote and leave Crazy Castle and wade into the areas of their traditional expertise. And they must tell themselves this: The bulls*** stops. We've got one last shot to do something real or we are goners.. Now go into the schools and do something to make a difference. Figure out a way to make American kids more proficient in math at younger ages. A whole generation of Asian graduates are poised and ready to eat our technological lunch. Take another look at the welfare system you put in place during the Great Society and try to get some real results. Bush has got his hands full in the international sphere; take some domestic issue and get real results. And stop sitting around accusing Republicans of wanting to see 9 year olds selling flowers on street corners at midnight.

You'll have to click through to the link to see exactly how Doug weaves some classic Chinese poetry into this very same post.

At Gut Rumbles, the genuine Southern bon vivant and addled miscreant Rob explains why steroid-enhanced baseball sluggers are of no concern to him. I think he has a point. If botox and boob jobs for actors, why not steriods for athletes? A freak show is a freak show is a freak show.

Rob has a highly comestible grill recipe, to boot.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:29 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack



The Write Stuff Elusive

I've long been disturbed at the inability of many kids, teens and adults to write comprehensibly.

It's a poor reflection on American education that cogent writing is increasingly regarded as some esoteric specialty, like programming in Perl. The state of our popular culture is a factor as well, with its emphasis on flash and immediacy. Many businesses are discovering that vital communications via e-mail are increasingly garbled because of poor writing skills, costing time and money. Certainly employees are rushed and overworked, which adds to the problem. But fuzzy "messaging" just makes more work.

Here's Sam Dillon, writing in today's New York Times (free reg. req.) on "What Corporate America Can't Build: A Sentence."

R. Craig Hogan, a former university professor who heads an online school for business writing....received an anguished e-mail message recently from a prospective student.

"i need help," said the message, which was devoid of punctuation. "i am writing a essay on writing i work for this company and my boss want me to help improve the workers writing skills can yall help me with some information thank you".

Hundreds of inquiries from managers and executives seeking to improve their own or their workers' writing pop into Dr. Hogan's computer in-basket each month, he says, describing a number that has surged as e-mail has replaced the phone for much workplace communication. Millions of employees must write more frequently on the job than previously. And many are making a hash of it.

"E-mail is a party to which English teachers have not been invited," Dr. Hogan said. "It has companies tearing their hair out."

A recent survey of 120 American corporations reached a similar conclusion. The study, by the National Commission on Writing, a panel established by the College Board, concluded that a third of employees in the nation's blue-chip companies wrote poorly and that businesses were spending as much as $3.1 billion annually on remedial training.

That's some cost. So this isn't just some nitpick-y, judgemental, elitist thing, apparently.

"It's not that companies want to hire Tolstoy," said Susan Traiman, a director at the Business Roundtable, an association of leading chief executives whose corporations were surveyed in the study. "But they need people who can write clearly, and many employees and applicants fall short of that standard."

Millions of inscrutable e-mail messages are clogging corporate computers by setting off requests for clarification, and many of the requests, in turn, are also chaotically written, resulting in whole cycles of confusion.

Here is one from a systems analyst to her supervisor at a high-tech corporation based in Palo Alto, Calif.: "I updated the Status report for the four discrepancies Lennie forward us via e-mail (they in Barry file).. to make sure my logic was correct It seems we provide Murray with incorrect information ... However after verifying controls on JBL - JBL has the indicator as B ???? - I wanted to make sure with the recent changes - I processed today - before Murray make the changes again on the mainframe to 'C'."

The incoherence of that message persuaded the analyst's employers that she needed remedial training.

"The more electronic and global we get, the less important the spoken word has become, and in e-mail clarity is critical," said Sean Phillips, recruitment director at another Silicon Valley corporation, Applera, a supplier of equipment for life science research, where most employees have advanced degrees. "Considering how highly educated our people are, many can't write clearly in their day-to-day work."

....Even C.E.O.'s (Ed. - note to author: does that apostrophe really belong there?) need writing help, said Roger S. Peterson, a freelance writer in Rocklin, Calif., who frequently coaches executives. "Many of these guys write in inflated language that desperately needs a laxative," Mr. Peterson said, and not a few are defensive. "They're in denial, and who's going to argue with the boss?"

Now that guy's a real phrasemaker!

I'll bang an old drum here, one I'm not about to stop thumping. At home, kids need to read books much more than play computer or video games. And put a lid on instant messaging right from the git-go. If your pre-teen is in a school where status depends on belonging to an instant messaging "buddy" network, you need to sit down and have a long talk about why you're saying "No" to that, and all it represents. Little decisions have cumulative impacts on the development of literacy skills.

We are too often seduced by our culture without even realizing it.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:39 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


December 06, 2004

You Don't Mess With Texas

In Texas, volunteer cowboys patrol against airport "perimeter incursions" and shoulder-mounted missile attacks on commercial flights in Houston. I wholeheartedly approve. Clamdiggers around Boston Logan are assisting in a similar program, according to a publication for security executives.

So I guess it's not a Red State vs. Blue State kinda thing, huh? More here.

Texas lore is filled with cowboys and rugged individualism, but the state is also home to patriotism and community spirit. Just witness Houston's Airport Rangers. About 700 volunteers, including off-duty police officers, are approved to mount their horses and patrol the perimeter area of the 11,000-acre George Bush Intercontinental Airport.

Faced with post-9/11 perimeter intrusion concerns and obligations to create a shoulder-mounted missile mitigation plan, airport security put equestrians to good use. Although shoulder-mounted missile attacks on airplanes have not occurred in the United States, incidences in other countries have been widely publicized. Concerns of intrusion into the area are great since much of the airport land is heavily wooded and isolated. "We've made a very unpopulated area much more populated," says Mark Mancuso, deputy director of aviation for the Houston Airport System's division of public safety and technology.

The Texas program is similar to the program at Logan International Airport in Boston, where clam diggers assist airport security efforts on nearby beaches.

Volunteers must undergo criminal background checks, as well as training. Once approved for duty, they are given ID badges and license to ride during the day. They must carry a cell phone, call into a dispatch center to check in, and report suspicious activity. Mancuso considers it a win-win situation. Although some have criticized the program as inadequate, Mancuso says, "I believe in layered solutions for security. This is not the only way to secure the perimeter; this is just one of our programs."

Oh, and the Democratic Mayor of Chicago, Richard M. Daley, is pushing ahead with an expanded program of public surveillance cameras to help identify potential terrorist suspects. There are already 2,000 public cams in places like schools, transit stations and busy traffic intersections. But another 250 will be added at "high-risk terrorist targets."

You go, King Richard II. After all, this stuff can only be labelled "Orwellian" when Republicans do it.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 04:09 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack



Burglars! Hie Thee to Britain!

England and Scotland are funny places. If a burglar invades your home, you can get thrown in jail for shooting him. You are supposed to somehow presciently divine the extent of his capability to harm you and your family, and then respond proportionally, using "reasonable force." I wonder, if he has a knife, is your use of a gun then "reasonable force?" Or are you only allowed to use a knife so the fight is fair and square?

How utterly....European it all is.

This idiocy has the head of a Scottish police superintendents association somewhat concerned. More in this article from The Scotsman. The same protection of what I call "perpetrators rights" extends to burglars in England, as well, where legislators and now a top law enforcement official also support greater leeway for homeowners defending themselves from home invaders. Including the use of a pistol.

Underlying this absurd state of affairs is the British handgun ban of 1997, prompted by a tragic Scottish school massacre. Not that criminals are terribly concerned with such prohibitions, or reluctant to violate one's person or property using their knives, guns or other weapons. If the police officials, and the legislators who support police and at-risk citizens do prevail, the gun ban will be modified. As well it should be.

Icing on the cake: the Scots don't want to keep chronic re-offender burglars, car thieves and other "petty" criminals in jail. The Justice Minister is unveiling a plan to "reintegrate" them into society with stays at special transitional living facilities and a battery of social services, including debt management counseling.

Those Scots: always a step ahead of the game.

UPDATE: Micajah, at Croker Sack, has written about this, too.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:09 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


December 04, 2004

Kotkin's Prescription For Dems

Democrats must embrace suburban families and their concerns, or the party is toast. So says Joel Kotkin, with co-author William Frey, in the current issue of The New Republic.

Kotkin is a widely-respected author, scholar, demographer, futurist, speaker and consultant. He's got solid MSM journalism credentials as well, including posts as a regular contributor to liberal pillars such as NYT and LA Times. (Here's his bio).

His TNR piece with Frey, "The Parent Trap," is (thankfully) posted free at Kotkin's personal site (so you can eschew the pay-to-read section of the TNR's site). Read the whole thing, but here are some excepts that capture what I've been feeling for quite some time about the worldview of clueless urban "progressives" and their dysphoric "alternative media" enablers.

...in their rush to focus on religion and war, pundits have overlooked what may have been the single most important predictor of the GOP's victory--not Bibles or bullets, but diapers.

....the U.S. is one of the only industrialized countries to enjoy an increase in its fertility rate since the 1970s....Other signs--rising marriage rates, declining divorce rates, and an overall increase in the number of child-bearing families--all point to a strengthening of the American nuclear family. These are welcome developments for our society. But they could spell doom for the Democratic Party. And until progressives develop a more family-friendly voice, they are likely to spend many more lonely nights in November wondering what went wrong.

Last month, Democrats swept the largely childless cities--true blue locales like San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Boston, and Manhattan have the lowest percentages of children in the nation--but generally had poor showings in those places where families are settling down, notably in the sunbelt cities, exurbs, and outer suburbs of older metropolitan areas.

...But the problem for Democrats isn't that they are losing among families now. The real problem is that the electoral importance of both nuclear families and the communities where they are congregating is only growing. According to Phillip Longman, a demographer at the New America Foundation, Bush states had a 13 percent higher fertility rate than their blue counterparts, whose base, as he puts it, is essentially "non-replicating."

....Republican regions...have continued to grow, in large part because they have become more attractive to families. These include places like Douglas County, Colorado, the nation's fastest growing county, which also has the fourth highest concentration of white children as a percentage of the population of any county in the nation. Located in the Denver suburbs, the county voted two to one for Bush. The same phenomenon can be seen in other fast-growing suburban counties--also mostly white--near Minneapolis (Scott), Dallas (Rockwall, Collin), Washington, D.C. (Loudon), Atlanta (Forsyth), and Columbus, Ohio (Delaware). All have growing populations and all went between 56 and 83 percent for Bush.

....across the country, areas with high levels of homeownership tended to vote more heavily for Bush than areas dominated by renters, according to economist Susanne Trimbath. If Latino voters continue to move into the middle class, buy houses, and relocate to more conservative areas--in other words, if they replicate the patterns of white nuclear families who are leaving behind the childless city-centers--Democrats may have a hard time holding on to them.

....Perhaps more than anything else, Democrats need a change in style. Democratic legislators too often seem hostile to suburban concerns, and indifferent to the aspirations of those who would like to buy a home and a small green place to call their own. In Albuquerque, for example, planners working for the local Democratic regime advocated banning backyards, an essential part of the middle-class family lifestyle. One even told a local developer that his having four children made him "immoral." A small--and probably extreme--example? Undoubtedly. But it speaks to a stereotype that Democrats have been battling for years now: that they disdain suburbia and the families who live there. It is long past time for Democrats to start undoing that perception.

Finally, Democrats might want to consider a change of venue for their next convention. They have held their last four gatherings in four of America's most liberal cities--New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Boston. Maybe next time, they should hold their convention in Houston, Orlando, or Phoenix, where families are growing, people are moving, and the future of this remarkably fertile nation is being nurtured. It's worth a try, because, after all, Democrats have little choice. Demographics will not save them. On the contrary, the Democrats' task now is to try to save themselves from demographics.

Yes, it's true. We're outbreeding the libs, and after our children are done with their rebellion phase (if any), they'll likely have families; settle in the 'burbs (because who but rich empty nesters, singles, or the very poor will be able to live in Seattle or San Francisco or Boston then?); and vote Red, too. The political ramifications of today's "breeder" culture (as gays call it), are huge, and not to be, uh, misunderestimated.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 04:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


December 03, 2004

Rossi-Gregoire Update

See my post at Red State.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:17 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack



Cosby For NAACP Head?

Bill Cosby is a distance runner. He continues his high-profile campaign for black self-empowerment. Most recently in comments this week to the National Caucus of Black Legislators, in his hometown of Philadelphia.

Bill Cosby - TV star, comedian, educator and native Philadelphian was back on home turf bringing his "tough-love" talk to the the National Caucus of Black Legislators.

He told them to get their act together and start fixing some of the problems afflicting black communities around the country.

"There are too many young men killing each other over irresponsibility," Cosby said at the opening session of the group's convention at the Wyndham Philadelphia at Franklin Plaza yesterday.

"You men, you African-American males, you've got to reach down and grab these boys - and some of these boys are 50 years old - standing on the corner. You need to go out on the streets and face these boys....

....Cosby also said he was tired of people complaining about a justice system that gives "more time to the black man selling crack than to the white man selling cocaine."

"Tell the boy not to sell drugs! That ought to take care of it right then and there."

.....In introducing Cosby, State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams commended the actor, who has been criticized this year for being too harsh on poor, urban communities, "for saying what a lot of others have been thinking."

Syndicated columnist Clarence Page thinks Cosby would be a great choice to head the NAACP, now that Kwesi Mfume has stepped down as the organization's President and CEO. Page writes:

....opportunities abound for those who are able and willing to take advantage of them. The struggle for equality involves more than civil rights. It also involves preparing our young people to take advantage of opportunities that the civil rights movement has opened up for them.

America's leading civil rights groups have been searching for new agendas since the 1960s. Meanwhile, the gap has grown larger between formerly poor blacks like me who have benefited from civil rights advances and those who have been left behind in poverty and despair.

It is this gaping contradiction that inflamed Cosby at a 50th anniversary observance of the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation decision earlier this year in Washington. Infuriated by continuing black-on-black violence related to poverty, he unfurled a monologue on self-reliance, personal responsibility and other moral values that need to be pounded into the heads of black youths and families.

Now, with Mfume's departure, says Page, the NAACP must "launch a new search for a new leader. I suggest Bill Cosby. He might not jump at the opportunity but he seems to have his priorities straight."

Unlike the NAACP itself.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:32 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


December 02, 2004

Thumbs Down on Gregoire "Telethon"

Seattle blogger David Keenan didn't think much of narrowly-defeated WA Democratic gubernatorial candidate Christine Gregoire's pitiful second recount fundraising shtik on local TV news tonight.

Here's why.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:27 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack



Halfway Home

I started Rosenblog in late January, 2004. And today, for this, my 600th entry, I have a tale of hope. Which has the added advantage of being true.

In August of this year, an imprisoned New Zealand career criminal suffering from "gender dysphoria" had a bilateral orchidectomy, or removal of his testicles, at taxpayer expense in Wellington Hospital. That's the first phase of a sex-change operation. The clinical diagnosis was that being trapped in a man's body, subject to the corrupting influence of testosterone, had caused the former Jon Michael Enright, now named Joanne Martin, to remain distraught and tortured, and commit repeated trangressions. Some 157 convictions over 20 years, to be precise - 87 of them for burglary. Another for stabbing and leaving near death a security guard, in a burglary gone wrong.

On a more practical level, Martin says (s)he was burgling to raise money for sex-change procedures which (s)he could not otherwise afford. So perhaps, one might argue, if the government pays for Martin's sex change, the cost to society would ultimately be less than if her crime spree continues. (She's just 35, mind you).

Martin was released Sept. 15 and had burgled again by Sept. 18. In October, several months after the bilateral orchidectomy at taxpayer expense, Martin was granted bail. Then just two weeks ago, on Nov. 19, a judge delayed until March sentencing for Martin, who had admitted to the September crime, and one more. Prompting one police source to tell reporters the whole thing is....

....a bloody disgrace. Her charmed run continues. Us taxpayers paid for her sex change and now she beats a jail term she totally deserves. Something's gone wrong when a criminal with 100-plus convictions gets free surgery while decent citizens wait on a list for a hip replacement."

Now, something else is wrong. Yesterday, Martin was taken into custody yet again, for alleged burglaries commited Nov. 8 and Nov. 30.

If these last charges are proven true, particularly the Nov. 8 incident, then the Nov. 19 postponement of sentencing for the Sept. 18 burglary will look especially foolish. You might even then go so far as to say the court authorities are hapless fools, Kiwis on Krack, what-have-you. You might say that. But, hinting at the complex analytical skills which have earned me glowing encomiums from the global elite of journalism, plus a vast fortune in writing fees, Krugerrands and derivatives, I will not say that. Not yet.

Further, I will disagree with the paper's police source, and play (for me) a rare Big Government hand. Martin is only halfway home, as it were. The hypothesis has not been fully tested. Clearly, life as a Phase One transsexual has not ameliorated Martin's "gender dysphoria," should that arguably be at issue here (and if you have not walked a mile in her flats, hold your tongue).

Taxpayers need to ante up one more time so that Martin, reportedly quite talented at circumventing electronic security systems, might be all that she can be. A well-known, heavily-bonded and ankle-braceleted security consultant, for example. It'll be cheaper in the end if it works. And if not, lock her up and throw away the key.

For now, I'll not even ask how do you don't get jailed for life after 157 convictions. Maybe legislators should get tough, New Zealand-style, and pass a "160 Strikes And You're Out" anti-crime measure.

New Zealand. Actually a great place in many respects, I hear. Always wanted to take a holiday there. Hope I can one day. But I think I'll hold on to my property here in sober, sane Seattle.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 01:14 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack



A Bright Light in Sunbreak City

Doug "Democrats for Bush" Anderson, a guitarist, poet and writer who lives in Seattle's very cool, and exceptionally multi-cultural Mount Baker neighborhood, is back to blogging at his main site, Sunbreak City.

Take a look. It's more geared to literature and culture than his campaign-season blog (first link, above), but Doug's refreshing political perspectives seep through nonetheless. Any Seattle artiste-y type who links to Mark Steyn and Booker Rising is my kinda guy. Especially if he's got the guts to "come out" for W. to his Seattle-lib pals, and can actually write, to boot.

After I linked yesterday to Doug's pro-Bush blog in my latest post on Puget Sound's alterna-bloggers, and later e-mailed him about a secret plan to foment cultural revolution in Sunbreak City, Doug shared some additional thoughts about the recent presidential campaign. Which he has kindly given me permission to share with you.

I hugely enjoyed the feeling of solidarity with Bush supporters of all stripes. Even amid a thicket of Kerry signs....I only had one or two seconds of doubt that Bush would win. I'm only sorry now I didn't know any bookies with whom to place giant bets on my - our - man. (Ed. - actually Doug, there WERE some blokes over in England taking many wagers that W. would win). I think I'm just now sliding down and leveling out from the great euphoria of our win.

At the same time I'm glad for a bit less intensity in daily life; I see myself reverting to my old slug-self of letting our elected leaders just do their job. I think the Democratic party will implode or shatter (name your favorite verb of destruction) since it has not had the courage or focus to concentrate on real confrontation with a real enemy. I don't mean enemy as in war but as in opposition - something any party needs to survive. Once the Democrats started calling Bush and the Republicans Hitler and Goebbels, et. al., I knew it was over for the party. When you don't even have the basic focus to concentrate on real confrontation (as opposed to fantasy figures from history) I knew the Dems had completely lost their way.

All of which is to say..hmmm... what? I'm not really sure what to do about (my) Dems for Bush site, other than just leave it there as a reference. I'm not confident that I have a lot to contribute on the political front. I'm very interested in literature and how the imagination will process the world after 9/11. We are in a Grade A crisis and God knows the official novelists have not even tried to understand what is going on - beyond calling us Bush supporters morons & a*******. Probably I'll shift to more cultural commentary over at the Sunbreak City site.

I'll be reading regularly, Doug. Keep on posting.

And in case anyone is wondering, "sunbreaks" are a hedge-y term weatherpersons use here in Seattle. As in "sunbreaks likely today, along with scattered showers." Kind of covers all bases, without making any real commitment. Akin to the drivers of Subarus with nine different "progressive" bumper stickers, that I see all the time in the parking lot of the Seattle organic grocery where I buy my millet, spelt, amaranth, cherry juice, chevre and naturally raised pork.

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


December 01, 2004

Blatant Self-Promotion Alert

Since deciding to take a break from my regular, bi-weekly guest opinion page column for The Seattle Times (which I did from 4/01 to 5/04) I've been doing more magazine writing. I enjoy the work tremendously - writing is my THANG. And it helps pay for my kids' private school tuition in Seattle, where the public schools are just too iffy.

Lately, I've had a number of pieces published. Here's a rundown. I have the cover story in the new, December issue of Parent Map, a glossy regional parenting monthly. And bless 'em, they've got it up at their web site. It's titled: "Spirituality: A Light That Shines Brightest At Home." I love working with the people at Parent Map; this is my second cover story for them. I did one in June titled, "Myths and Realities of Fatherhood." You can find Parent Map at coffeehouses, medical offices, parks and recreation facilities, schools, certain toy stores and bookstores, and other kid-oriented locations all over Seattle and the Eastside. It's packed with good stuff for parents.

As regular Rosenblog readers may already know, I've also got a sizeable feature article in the December issue of Seattle Magazine, our region's glossy city monthly. It's titled "Blog On," and is about the Puget Sound blogging scene, and why blogs are increasingly important. Here's a link, thanks to the wonderful Ambra Nykol and her scanner.

In the November issue of Washington CEO is my piece on the recent troubles and future prospects of retail banking giant Washington Mutual. That's not online yet, but my October piece for Washington CEO, on the pioneering online residential real estate marketing firm Housevalues Inc., is.

At press right now is another lengthy feature for the January issue of Seattle Magazine. I won't disclose the topic presently, but let me just say: pick it up when it comes out. You won't be disappointed.

This summer, I got a number of other pieces published, including three nationally. They were "Bill Cosby and The Blogosphere," in the National Review Online; plus "Educational Landscape By Dali" and "Hardline Humor About Prez Reveals a Lot About His Opponents," both in the Jewish World Review.

All the above-referenced placements, and other newspaper and magazine works of mine which are linked to in the right-hand column of this blog under "Freelance Opinion Pieces," represent just a small portion of my total print output since becoming a freelance journalist here in 1998. There are some other ones I'd love to post, but they were never put online, so I'll have to see about getting them scanned.

Let me know if you have any reactions to the links above.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 01:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack



Blue City Conservatives, Unite!

One interesting - and to me, promising - development stemming from the recent election season is the continuing emergence of conservative bloggers in and around Seattle. There are more that I've come across since this recent entry at Rosenblog (warning: not all listed in this link are "conservative" or even political, but most are - you'll be able to tell by visiting their sites).

Here's another: a grad student named Patrick, whose Nov. 30 takedown of The Stranger's "Urban Archipelago" Blue City Isolationist Drivel really caught my eye. As did his link to official election stats from a New York City blogger, showing Bush actually made sizeable gains in and around the Big Apple compared to 2000. And the Staten Island numbers: Whoa! Damn near Bush Country now! But then I should have guessed, after my ex-liberal pal Martin from Staten Island weighed in.

The rise of 20- to 40-something, Blue City conservative-leaning political bloggers is an outlier. There's even greater penetration of conservative values (here's what that phrase means to me) in suburbs and ex-urbs among people in the same age cohort. Many don't even go to church, either. Shocking, I know.

The recent Washington gubernatorial election cliffhanger has brought a great deal of attention - and deservedly so - to the Puget Sound-based conservative blog Sound Politics. I'm proud to be a contributor there, but want to doff my hat to the incredibly energetic Stefan Sharkansky, who founded the site and has worked tirelessly, doing reporting, statistical analysis and commentary on the Gregoire-Rossi election. Overall, Shark's work on this story has rivaled, if not surpassed most of the regional MSM coverage of same.

Sound Politics is now one focal point for Seattle-area conservatives, not to mention readers and commenters from all over the country, who see that there are large fissures in the wall of Seattle's political monoculture. Expect to see those fissures grow in months and years to come.

Especially, if more guys like this Seattle Democrat for Bush keep blogging. His name is Doug Anderson, and he lives in Seattle's oh-so-progressive Mount Baker neighborhood (a wonderful place, BTW, I take my kids to the city park and playground there frequently). Here's how Doug described his mission, and himself (atop his blog) pre-election:

A life-long Scoop Jackson Democrat, I support President Bush and the way he is prosecuting the War on Terror. Does that make me a Republican? I don't think so. I'm a Seattle poet, writer and musician.

And here's part of what he wrote after the election:

I LOVE THE SOUND OF BEING CALLED A MORON IN THE MORNING. IT SOUNDS LIKE...SOUNDS LIKE...

VICTORY!

Doug says his very own Democrats for Bush blog is now closed, and so be it. I hope he comes back to the blogosphere, though. These are the voices of resistance from within the Soviet of Seattle. We LIKE it here, despite the goofball politics of the majority. And we're NOT leaving.

UPDATE: As I live and breathe, here's yet another. 24-year-old Gonzaga grad and former Gonzaga campus newspaper columnist Jason Hagglund, of suburban Seattle (Bothell) has an excellent blog I should have known about already: Write Wing Conspiracy. More about Jason here. Keep at it, young man.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 07:44 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack