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January 31, 2005

"The End of Sunni Hegemony"...And Then?

Iraq's landmark, free and open elections this weekend couldn't have happened without the U.S.-led invasion of the country and our toppling of Saddam Hussein. In the Jerusalem Post, Shlomo Avineri celebrates "The End of Sunni Hegemony," but wonders: what next?

Will the majority of the Sunnis accept their minority status, renounce their claim to hegemony, isolate the more extremist and terrorist elements in their midst and cooperate with the Shi'ites and Kurds in the rebuilding of what could be one of the richest Arab countries? Let's hope so. But the alternative is also possible – that the Sunnis will continue their violence and make the establishment of a legitimate, coherent Iraqi body politic impossible.

On the other hand, will the Shi'ite majority, split between more clerical-oriented groups and secular supporters of interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, be capable of establishing a majority regime that will not turn Iraq into a theocracy and will give its minorities a place in the sun?

Already there are indications that the Shi'ites are unhappy with the virtual veto given to the Kurds in the interim constitution. This document views the country as a binational, Arab and Kurdish state and it is obvious that the Kurds – who have enjoyed a de facto autonomy for the past decade – are not going to give it up to another centralizing and possibly oppressive Baghdad-based Arab regime, Shi'ite or Sunni. The Kurds also control the only effective indigenous fighting force in Iraq – the peshmerga – and it is unlikely they will give it up.

Additionally, the transformation in Iraq has far-reaching regional consequences. After the Palestinian elections, here is a second case of relatively free elections in the Arab world, something that may make the non-elected rulers in Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia feel a bit uncomfortable.

Parents and loved ones of slain U.S. soldiers, like all our Armed Forces and millions of Americans, knew all along that hope for the future of Iraq; for the Middle East; for Islam; and for The West justified our coalition's intervention in Iraq. The future is unsettled, as it must be now. We will not beat a hasty retreat. The violence will continue, and we will keep training Iraqi soldiers and police so they can stand on their own when the time comes. The elections show that the desire of most Iraqis for self-determination is a powerful weapon.

Lying in tatters now is the faux-utopian paradigm of the U.S. Left regarding Iraq, which held that every unanswered question about the future, every doubt and worry, every planning failure, every setback, and every death was proof of the mission's futility and a keening arrogance on the part of George W. Bush.

Fatuous rot, all of it.

Of course, there are no guarantees it will all work out. But that distinct possiiblity now exists where it did not before, in a key Middle East nation, and the very cradle of civilization. Can anyone sanely doubt this is a juncture worth having arrived at?

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



Conflicting Gitmo Rulings Require Clarification

Two of the more sober assessments of today's court ruling on the constitutional rights of 50 enemy combatants being held by the U.S. military at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba come from The New Zealand Herald, and Fox News.

According to today's federal court ruling, the 50 suspects - part of a larger group of 540-plus Gitmo detainees drawn from the ranks of The Taliban and Al Qaeda - can challenge in court their indefinite confinement as enemy combatants. This, as opposed to facing military trials, procedures for which are being reformulated in response to a separate court ruling. The judge today said the suspects must be allowed their Fifth Amendment right "not to be be deprived of liberty without due process of law..."

More from the Fox story:

Judge Joyce Hens Green, handling claims filed by about 50 detainees at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay (search), said the Supreme Court made clear last year that they have constitutional rights that lower courts should enforce.

Actually, Green may be overeaching. The Supremes said last year the Administration does not have a "blank check" (4th graf, here) to indefinitely detain enemy combatants. Exactly what more the Court might intend in that respect has not yet been made clear.

Green also ruled that hearings set up by the government to determine if the prisoners are "enemy combatants" are unconstitutional. Those hearings, called Combatant Status Review Tribunals had been criticized by civil rights groups because detainees are not represented by lawyers and are not told of some of the evidence against them — including some information that the judge said may have been obtained by torture or coercion.

....The decision conflicts with a ruling two weeks ago by another federal judge in the same court who considered a similar lawsuit brought by a different group of detainees. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon found last year's Supreme Court ruling did not provide Guantanamo detainees the legal basis to try to win their freedom in American courts.

At the White House, presidential spokesman Scott McClellan took issue with the ruling, noting that it was directly at odds with the earlier one and saying the Justice Department "will review this matter."

An article in Tomorrow's Palm Beach Post says, "appeals of both decisions are virtually certain, and the subject could again land before the U.S. Supreme Court."

DOJ and the Bush Administration have been very concerned that public exposure in a court of law of evidence against terrorist suspects will compromise national security. And they likely believe the principles underpinning Leon's decision should have applied in Green's ruling today. Sounds like the White House may be spoiling for an appeal of today's decision. Fine, and if they ultimately regain some lost legal ground, I won't be bent out of shape, as will be civil libertarians. The Gitmo detainees are by and large, and perhaps almost entirely without exception, terrorists who wish to see our country - and paradoxically, the many freedoms and rights it grants - destroyed.

All the more reason they should be able make a legal bid for civilian court review of their cases. Like DOJ and W., they will have to live with the final outcome when all appeals are exhausted. Our system is working as it should.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 04:58 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


January 30, 2005

The Perfect Coffeehouse: Cramped and Vibe-y

Bashing franchises ain't my thing. Caterwauling about the hegemony of Starbucks or the corporate ethos of Wal-Mart is silly. Customers, like employees, vote with their feet.

True, I avoid Starbucks if at all possible. Further, their coffee is over-roasted, their baked goods outsourced, and their merchandise-crammed stores programmed to within in an inch of their bleeding lives. Starbucks operates not coffeehouses, but revenue-generation units slathered with a veneer of community, and hipness.

When I watch a Tom Cruise movie, he is always so busy being Tom Cruise, his character portrayal fails, utterly, no matter how hard he tries. Likewise, in Starbucks, the Starbucks "experience," and brand, is overbearing.

But I'm not about to get all lathered up about that (as you can plainly see). You go where you want for a latte, and so will I. If I'm arranging a meeting with someone, and they want to hook up at a Starbucks, no problema. I'll take a Chai, please.

My idea of a proper coffeehouse is not one with overstuffed chairs and a fireplace by fiat to impute coziness (think Tully's). It's where there's barely enough room to sit; some unsafe music blaring (I walk out the door if I hear Gyspy Kings); plus distinct decor and feel.

Like Cafe Lladro on Upper Queen Anne and in West Seattle. Or especially Uptown Espresso in Lower Queen Anne, a cozy spot crammed with gilded mirrors and antique furniture, a kind of baroque - or would it be rococco? - coffeehouse.

These are local, small franchises, and I daresay I have higher hopes and expectations for them than for national franchises of any sort.

So it was dismaying and dissonant, to say the least, to discover yesterday that Uptown Espresso ("Home of The Velvet Foam") has opened a sprawling antiseptic outpost in my part of town (West Seattle).

It's in..........a former fish and chips franchise. Yes, they've moved into the old Skipper's, at the daunting confluence of Erskine Way SW, Edmonds Street SW, and California Avenue SW, in the southern end of West Seattle's neighborhood downtown, known as the "The Junction." For the boulevardier, the site stands trickily apart from the long commercial strip on California Ave.

Moreover, it's just too big inside, and even the walnut-stained furniture and antique-y pictures on the wall don't help. Nor does the green wall-to-wall carpeting. I feel like I'm in, well, a failed franchise restaurant masquerading as a coffeehouse. Whereas a storefront that used to house an accountant's office or even a pet grooming service doesn't have the same iffy karma.

Former IHoPs, Burger Kings, or gas stations turned into something else always carry a whiff of failure and confused identity in their next lives.

The Cavernous Antispetic Place That Used To Be Skipper's is close to the pending Seattle Monorail Green Line, which will run 14 miles from Northwest Seattle through many neighborhoods and downtown, then deep into Southwest Seattle (known as West Seattle). It begins operation in 2007.

So perhaps with the coming of the monorail, and the many commuters who will be boarding and debarking at The Junction, The Cavernous Antispectic Place That Used To Be Skipper's will make a lot of money.

If they stay open that long.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:27 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


January 28, 2005

Anaheim, Anaheim....

...doesn't quite have the ring of "Chicago, Chicago," OR "New York, New York." Still you work with what you've got. Up to a point. The City this week was still pondering whether to pursue a trial after losing a second court round to prevent the Anaheim Angels baseball franchise from changing their name to The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

If you want a major league name for your town, hire major league lawyers. That's my advice to Mayor Curt Pringle. The city has spent about $200,000 so far on the case, and taking the matter to trial could cost a million dollars or more, according to this LA Times report yesterday.

Pringle sounds like he's laying the groundwork for moving forward:

We're sepnding money for a purpose that is right and to defend the economic value of our name.

Only problem: the lease agreement the city has with the baseball team to use the stadium requires only that "Anaheim" be somewhere in the team's name, but not necessarily right next to "Angels."

As noted in this LA Times piece, courtesy of the blog Can't Stop The Bleeding:

It was standing-room only in the lobby of Anaheim City Hall, with civic leaders and baseball executives gathering for a celebratory news conference. The Walt Disney Co. had agreed to buy the Angels, keep them in town for decades and pay for most of an ambitious and costly stadium renovation.

And, as city officials happily noted on that sunny afternoon in 1996, their team no longer would be known as the California Angels. The city would contribute to the renovation, and in return the team would be called the Anaheim Angels.

“After being known as California for the last 30 years, this team is now going to be called Anaheim,” Mayor Tom Daly said then. “That’s huge.”

Not so huge, however, for the city to insist upon contractual language that would force the team to call itself the Anaheim Angels or market itself using that name. The stadium lease agreement demands only that the team name “include the name Anaheim therein,” providing (ed.-new) Angel owner Arte Moreno with a potential loophole to exploit should he decide to call his team the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

“There’s no question the city could have written a lease provision that would have given the team no wiggle room. This provision does give the team some wiggle room,” said Robert Jarvis, professor of law at Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and co-author of a sports law textbook.

Save the million-plus on a futile lawsuit, Mr. Mayor. That'd be a Big League move.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 03:04 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack



Your Message Here

I am SO on the cutting edge. Just the other day, I reported that people are selling advertising space on their foreheads and other body parts. Now, from today's news, we learn the Washington state Supreme Court has reversed a Kitsap County judge's ruling barring roadside advertising on raincoats.

Across Puget Sound from Seattle, now-defunct Mattress Outlet in Silverdale used waving roadside workers clad in oversize raincoats that hyped the store's name, phone number and a half-price sale. The lower court banned the practice, finding it constituted use of an "off-site sign without a permit," and contravened a county ordinance.

Sorry, said the Supremes, the ad-laden raincoats are a protected form of commercial speech.

And so raincoats can now be slathered with advertising all across Washington state. Puget Sound bloggers should leap at the opportunity to publicize this ruling; it plays so well into the dreary, rainy Seattle meme. Which has doubtless helped control population growth.

But. As I mentioned in the comment string to my post on forehead ads; how does the advertiser know they're getting what they paid for? It's the same problem faced by small local businesses that hire kids to distribute advertising flyers in a residential neighborhood. The kids might distribute a few of the "doorhangers," as they're called, ditch the rest in a dumpster and vamoose.

Maybe there's an emerging market for third-party verification consultancies.

Here's my own proposal to all advertisers buying space on anyone's forehead, other visible body parts, or raincoat - in or around Seattle. Supply me with a copy of your contract, and for just $75 per hour, payable in advance by cashier's check only, I will verify you're getting the exposure you were promised.

A warning: my summer rates are higher.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:41 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


January 27, 2005

Today: My First Blogiversary

It was one year ago this very day that - after a few friendly phone conversations with a Seattle blogger and IT consultant named Howard Hansen - I went to his home, where he kindly sat me down, and we fired up Rosenblog.

And looking back at the archives, apparently, I was a bit fired up that day. I posted items on:

San Francisco's whack local politics, courtesy of Adam Sparks in the SF Chron;

the desire of Iraqis for self-determination and democracy;

the importance of grassroots media, via blogging;

and, a warning to John Kerry, via Zell Miller.

It's been quite a year, and I've not only been able to continue as a work-at-home-dad caring for two kids (thanks to my marvellous wife); but also as a freelance journalist getting paid actual money to write about stuff that captures my fancy; and as a contributor to the two great group blogs. Those are Sound Politics and Red State.

Rosenblog's SiteMeter numbers only kicked in in early June '04, when I installed the feature. And the numbers are subject to certain limitations, which I won't go into just now. More generally, mine happen to leave out not only my first four months of traffic (Feb-May, '04) - but as well, the daily average figures fail to factor in two site crashes of a few weeks each. I'll adjust the numbers soon, I hope, to the best of my calculations.

But the June '04-to-now numbers still show more than 100,000 page views and approaching two-thirds as many visits. Piffle compared to the uber-bloggers of course, but as some of them and others note: it's not all about that. Not at all. And to a modest blogger such as myself, it's fairly thrilling to see that on some days 500 visitors come here, or on other days 800 or 900.

I've taken some pride and pleasure in mentoring other bloggers, around the U.S. and here in Puget Sound, and serving as an unoffical blogging evangelist. I'm glad to say I've helped draw some folks in, and give them some advice along the way.

My strengths are writing and news mining, not site graphics, as you can probably tell. Though I am happy to report that a Rosenblog site makeover is in the works, with the help of a very talented Portland, Oregon Web designer.

At any rate. The thing about blogging - I've found - is to keep at it. On top of which: Follow the news, mine unique material, know what you want to do, and don't be afraid to reveal something of yourself. That last part is pretty essential, I'd say.

My thanks to everyone who has visited and especially y'all who've left comments. Please continue to disagree with me, and/or add your own perspectives.

Or bow down in supplication if you wish; but actually that makes me slightly uncomfortable.

Slightly.

If you haven't joined in the fray here yet, please do.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:34 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack



Don't Forget The Little People

Pseudo-journalists Armstrong Williams and Maggie Gallagher get paid by the Bush Administration to flog, respectively, education and marriage initiatives in their nationally-distributed columns, but they, ah, forget to let their readers know.

Tacoma News Tribune columnist Peter Callaghan has a better idea. He's blatantly shilling for some editorial payola from local mucky-mucks who might need a spot of good coverage.

So at least there'll be full disclosure.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack



Prosecutors: Van Gogh Killer In Islamicist Plot

The alleged killer of notorious Muslim critic and Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh wanted an Islamic theocracy in place of the Dutch government, and was part of a group of "like-minded fanatics" aiming for holy war. This from prosecutors as Mohammed Bouyeri's trial opened yesterday. The AP report ads:

He and 12 others face separate charges in connection with an alleged plot to kill politicians and for allegedly belonging to a terrorist group known as the 'Hofstad' network.

Bouyeri's personal story is more than that of a reportedly wild-eyed ideologue, as noted in the Ian Buruma New Yorker article on the Van Gogh case, which I linked to in this post titled, "God Killed Theo Van Gogh." He might've turned out differently. But this report today nonetheless indicates Bouyeri started skidding off the tracks at least several years ago. He was sented to 12 weeks in jail in 2001 for assaulting police officers with a knife.

Meanwhile, a planned Sunday showing of Van Gogh's last film has been yanked from the Rotterdam Film Festival, where it was to be the centerpiece of a debate of free speech.

Submission Part One is a ten-minute film about a Muslim woman forced into an arranged marriage where she is beaten by her husband, raped by her uncle and finally accused of adultery. Explaining the decision to withdraw it, the film's producer Gijs van de Westelaken said: "We do not want to take any chance of endangering anyone else who participated in the film."

A Somali-born Dutch woman lawmaker and female genital mutilation victim named Ayaan Hirsi Ali with Van Gogh co-wrote "Submission," a previous film about cruelty to women under Islam. That work is what reportedly got him killed by Bouyeri. Hirsan Ali fled the country to an undisclosed location after Van Gogh's assassination, but has returned from hiding for the current session of parliament. She is under tight security.

Hirsi Ali is now calling for several other high-profile Dutch politicians who have also been previously targeted to join her in formulating a policy against Islamic extremism.

Brave woman. I hope she's not next.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:16 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


January 26, 2005

Location, Location, Location

People are selling ad space on their foreheads. And on other body parts. Some are finding takers, some aren't.

Via Doc Searls, here's a link to the e-Bay market for forehead ad space.

I mean, it had to come to this. Didn't it?

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



Santa Cruz's "Millionaire Tax" For Mental Health

I missed this news last November, but thanks to a report in today's Santa Cruz Sentinel, I can tell you voters approved a measure to tax millionaires 1 percent of their income for more mental health services in Santa Cruz County.

The new revenues could double the number of the mentally ill treated in Santa Cruz, the paper reports today.

Sticking millionaires with the cost of increased and new mental health care treatments, via a ballot proposition, strikes me as a particularly egregious form of political cowardice. Work it into the county budget or propose a more broadly distributed revenue measure? Nah, add a special income tax for the rich, that'll work.

It sets a crummy precedent. What happens next time the county board finds itself unable to muster up the courage to say no, or cut other services when faced with a perceived "need" for more social and health services? Another ballot measure to tax millionaires? I can't see any reason why not, now.

I also have questions about the mentally-ill population in Santa Cruz County. If you've ever hung out in the heart of downtown Santa Cruz, you'll know the vibe is set by armies of young vagrants, many in dreadlocks, congregating for free food and herbal companionship. I believe that after toking on several hundred fatties of BC Bud, many of them undoubtedly qualify as officially mentally ill. But it is largely their own doing.

I wonder how many of them are receiving mental health "treatment" and other forms of public assistance. The more services and handouts offered, the more they flock to town, and make life miserable for people who are pulling their own weight, like small business owners downtown.

Conditions in downtown Santa Cruz have deteriorated badly, as The Sentinel reported last month.

Urine and human feces on the porch. Broken windows. Empty beer bottles. Burglaries. Drug deals in broad daylight. Graffiti and vandalism. Tattered rose bushes. Photographer Willis Campbell has had enough. For the 28 years, his studio has been located in a quaint Victorian house on the corner of Union and Cedar streets, he says no time has been worse for crime and the nuisance of transients than now.

"The drug deals go on right here," Campbell said Tuesday, pointing to the sidewalk and public parking lot across from his business. "Police don’t do anything about it. We feel like hostages in our own town."

Next door to Campbell’s business on Union Street is the private Georgiana Bruce Kirby School, an exclusive school serving students in grades six through 12. Last winter, people camping on the roof set a fire, causing damage to the school, said Stephen Royal, dean of students. Marijuana smoke from people lighting up on the school’s sidewalk has wafted into classroom windows, he said. Also, he said, the school has been victimized by a couple burglaries during the past year. All of the incidents add up to an ongoing problem of crime and vagrancy that Royal says "makes it hard to run a school."

...Dr. William Christie, a dentist on the corner of Center and Union streets since 1973, has been the target of repeated vandalism. Twice in recent years the wooden sign in front of his office has been torn down and ripped to pieces, he said. Often, he said, he arrives to work in the morning to find syringes, needles, bongs fashioned from soda cans, and cigarette butts strewn in the bushes around his office. But, nothing he said, tops what happened in April when he discovered a sleeping bag with human feces left on the front porch and the fire the next day that started in a trash can, destroying the back side of his building.

.....Campbell, the photographer, has added lights to his porch and put a chain rope across his driveway to discourage people from camping.

"Twenty years ago it wasn’t this way," he said. "Fifteen years ago it wasn’t this way."

Hmmm. I wonder what's changed?

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 05:08 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack



The Wild West

AP reports that the FBI's Special Agent in Charge in Oregon says:

"We have people here in Oregon that have trained in jihadist camps in bad areas. In the bad neighborhoods of the world," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert Jordan.

Asked what he meant by "bad neighborhoods," he said Afghanistan, as well as several other countries he would not specify...He said the FBI knows "they've trained overseas, taken oaths to kill Americans and engage in jihad," but the challenge is "to prove those things."

....Discussing his office's participation in the ongoing war on terrorism, Jordan said that last fall FBI agents in Oregon took part in an analysis of crop-dusting aircraft across the country. U.S. officials had received intelligence that al-Qaida intended to use a crop duster to spray biological or chemical weapons on American targets, he said.

Beth Anne Steele, spokeswoman for the FBI's Portland office, said it was the second time since Sept. 11, 2001, that FBI agents had interviewed owners and pilots of crop-duster planes. The purpose is not just to make an accounting of where the aircraft are, she said, but also to encourage people who use the planes to contact the FBI if a suspicious person inquires about buying such aircraft.

Unlike "civil libertarians" harrumphing about "profiling" of terrorist suspects and "Orwellian" surveillance, I am very glad the FBI is on the case. As we learned after 9/11, they need to more vigilant, rather than less so.

Oregon already has achieved a degree of notoriety, in terms of attracting sociopaths who see mass poisonings as just another hammer in the toolkit. Perhaps you have heard about the religious cult that poisoned 10 salad bars in The Dalles, Oregon, in order to help candidates it favored win a local election. No kidding.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 02:47 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


January 25, 2005

It's An Open-Source World

Linux News reports today that a Feb. 1 opening is set for the "Open Technology Business Center," a business incubator to boost the growing collaborative (or "open source") software and computer technology industry. The center is funded by the Portland suburb of Beaverton, The State of Oregon, and a company named Open Source Development Labs. For laymen, "open source" is a very different way of developing software: developers collaborate on the Web; early on, everything is available free to users online; and is subsequently improved and customized for further public review without lawyers and accountants getting in the way. Eventually some really useful, less bugg-y products make their way to market.

It's not like what, say, Microsoft is used to. They certainly do software testing and work closely with a community of developers beyond Redmond. But not anyone can "look under the hood" before, during or after the product is developed, and then produce an improved version for review and further tweaking by a far-flung digital community. Which is one reason Microsoft co-founder and chairman Bill Gates has been known to call "open source" collabortation "communist."

More on that from Paul Andrews who also notes Gates has used software giveaways - combined with a practice known as "bundling" - to Microsoft's advantage.

"Open Source" doesn't mean unprofitable, or forever free. And this method of manufacture is becoming decidedly capitalist, so it can't be too "communist." As software, servers and desktop computers are developed through open source collaboration, marketable products eventually emerge. The Open Source technology market is expected to reach $40 billion by 2008, according to Linux News.

Even though most blogs aren't now offered up with the idea of profit, and many never will be, there are interesting parallels between the development of "Open Source" software and computer technology on the one hand, and blog-centric "Open Source" journalism on the other.

By reacting to and critiquing the news, and by occasionally generating headline-making original content, blogs have played a major role in the emergence of what's now being called "citizen" or "Open Source" journalism. As newspaper circulations continue to level off or decline, and as TV and radio viewers tire of biased and slickly packaged fare, bloggers are poised to continue their rise as an alternative media source, thriving on open collaboration with online allies including other bloggers, old media content providers, and the many blog readers who add their own digital and intellectual capital into the mix.

Just as a software colossus like Microsoft must adapt to more nimble and hungry competitors, old media companies will survive declining impact and audiences only by heeding their own nimble competitors (such my Sound Politics blogging colleague Stefan Sharkansky) and the citizens media revolution in which blogging plays such a central role.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 05:51 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack



Nanny State Horror In British Columbia

Are tensions boiling over in the penultimate modern-day welfare state, or make that province, of British Columbia? In the second attack on a provincial government social worker within several days, 62-year-old John David Bland, a vocational therapist for mental patients, was fatally stabbed in his work parking lot in the Vancouver suburb of Richmond, after going off duty last week. Roy Dalen, 49, of Richmond (UPDATE: a former client of Bland's) has been charged with murder, according to this report. Days before, a BC provincial social worker was injured in a stabbing at a rec center.

Union officials expressed growing concern about violence against their members, while the goverment sanctimoniously warned against a rush to judgement.

Cindy Stewart, president of (the Health Sciences Association of BC, or HSABC), is calling for a review of workplace safety for health-care workers. "This can't be seen as isolated," Stewart said. "This needs a broader review." An estimated 5-10% of claims filed by health care workers and accepted by the Workers Compensation Board are related to workplace violence, Stewart says.....Provincial government officials have asked the public not to draw any conclusions as a result of the incidents.

A former mental health patient stabs his former vocational therapist. My "conclusion" is if the clients repeatedly do violence to the state's representatives, as the union official states above, it may be time to re-evaluate the extent of the state's role.

As it happens, Bland was reportedly two shifts away from retirement.

Meanwhile, elderly victims in Vancouver's notorious cesspool known as the Downtown Eastside, are under attack from drug addicts. The Vancouver Sun reports six members of an organized gang of young drug addicts have been arrested in a sting operation after a rash of attacks and robberies to facilitate drug purchases. The neighborhood - I might add - is known for its government-approved and operated "supervised injection site" where heroin is legally dispensed and injected by addicts. (See UPDATE/CORRECTION, below).

From The Sun:

Vancouver police say there have been six recent incidents in which seniors were violently attacked by a group of men and women, but there may be more unknown victims because some are afraid to report the assaults. In an amateur video of one attack, a number of people in their twenties and early thirties surround an elderly man and beat him almost to unconsciousness. The bleeding senior appears too weak and disoriented to resist as his attackers rifle through his pockets, stealing his money and possessions.

VPD Head of Operations Inspector John McKay says police were outraged by what they saw on the tape. "When you see the video it's really disturbing, because you can clearly see that the victims are helpless anyway," he says. "And it's really nasty. It's horrendous what they have done here." McKay says the alleged attackers are drug-addicted residents of the Downtown Eastside. "They're very violent. They usually work in a pack, like a wolf pack," McKay says....."The goal is to get the money so they can buy more drugs."

By the way, the government has been considering a "safe inhalation" site in the area, for crack addicts.

Oh, Canada.

UPDATE/CORRECTION: Commenter Fay corrects me: the current Vancouver "safe-injection" site allows heroin users a place to inject their own heroin, but does not supply them with heroin. They have to bring their own, and do. On further investigation, I was reminded that it is the now-pending, government-sponsored North American Opiate Medication Initiative (NAOMI) site that will be legally supplying heroin to some addicts in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, as part of a 21-month study. The doors are set to open in a few weeks, and there remains considerable controversy. More here from the CBC, and here (second item down). I will also post the full text of this CBC link in the comments section, because the links, in Canadian papers especially, for some reason, tend to expire fairly quickly. The second link shows that a key academic working with the planned NAOMI heroin-dispensing center is also participating in an evaluation of the existing "supervised injection" site.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:39 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack



Sudan Peace Deal Not Done Yet

Will the Islamic hardline regime in Khartoum ratify the Sudan peace deal now that rebels in the South have given their blessing? Deliberations in the northern national capital begin Saturday, and the stakes are high, as the Associated Press reports.

Once ratified, the accord calls for the drafting of a new constitution and formation of a government in which insurgents will receive 30 percent of seats. In six years, southern states will have an opportunity to vote on secession.

The 21-year war has pitted the Arab Muslim-dominated government in Khartoum against rebels fighting for greater autonomy and a larger share of the country's wealth in the largely African Christian and animist south. More than 2 million people have died, mainly from war-induced famine and disease, and at least twice as many have fled their homes.

U.N. and U.S. officials hope the deal will help end Sudan's other conflicts - a 23-month rebellion in the western Darfur region and a low intensity insurgency in the eastern Red Sea Hills.

Tens of thousands have been killed and nearly 2 million displaced in Darfur, where pro-government Arab militiamen have attacked African villages in a campaign of burning, looting, raping and killing. The conflict erupted in February 2003, when two African rebel groups began fighting for more power and resources in the arid region.

More than 70,000 of the displaced have died of hunger and disease since March, though no firm figures exist for the direct toll of the fighting.

The rebel leaders in the south have not exactly been Boy Scouts through the 21-year civil war: there have been rivalries and intra-necine power stuggles, violence and killing. But the southerners were put in the position of fighting for their lives, for their religious freedom, and for their economic self-determination by the despotic, hateful and greedy Arab Muslim regime based in the North.

The above-linked AP article - as it appeared in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer at least - hardly makes that clear. Darfur is pinned on Khartoum, and rightly so, but the civil war is portrayed as morally neutral when it is not. Khartoum's atrocities against the South over the 21-year conflict have been rooted in: a) theological and racist assumptions of Arab Islamic supremacy over Christian and animist blacks; and b) keening obsession for control of revenues from oil fields in the South. Along the way, Khartoum managed to give cover to al-Qaeda and funnel business to Osama bin Laden. I still wonder if the parliament in Khartoum will really ratify the deal because there's only one outcome likely in the envisioned secession vote six years hence.

More background on Khartoum's bloody hands here, here and here; from previous Rosenblog posts.

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


January 24, 2005

This Explains A Lot

"Study: Bay Area Counties Rank Low In Mental Health."

Which would account for a lot of stuff. Like this, this, this, this and this.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:14 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack



Them Poor Lil' Indians Just Can't Hack It

Native American children's identities are under "assault" daily, and they cannot be successful students unless teachers build their self-esteem. This according to course catalog language for the "American Indian Education" minor at Humboldt State University in Arcata, California.

The American Indian Education minor provides learners with an understanding of the special educational needs of American Indian students along with the skills to apply methodologies and classroom practices conducive to academic success and the validating of cultural identity and values.

Having a positive self-identity and strong cultural affirmation is key for the success of any student in school and in life. But American Indian students face assaults on their identity and culture on a daily basis.....ITEPP's Curriculum Resource Center provides students, teachers, and community members with curricular resources and materials to facilitate the study of American Indian cultures, provide curricular assistance for K-12 schools, mitigate cultural miscommunication, and facilitate cultural inclusion and understanding for all people.

Silly me. Here I thought something like reading immersion might be a good place to start.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:43 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack



Why I'm Not A Gardener

Today's cheery news: potting mix can kill you.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:24 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack



The Politics of Meaning

Conquering heroes return to Eugene, Oregon.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack



A Probing Summation

The story has spread from Vancouver to New Zealand and Arizona, but so far the two best heds are:

"Do NOT Give This Man Batteries," (Reuters);

and the hands-down winner, "Mounties Seek Dildo Thief," (Vancouver Sun).

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:58 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


January 23, 2005

The Dense Fruitcake That Is Arcata

You expect all the usual hijinks on an occasion such as George W. Bush's second inauguration. Students at Seattle Community College tearing up the pamphlets of an army recruiter, forming a shouting mob and driving him away from his information table under a security escort. Far Left Seattle "hacktivists" taking over - albeit briefly - conservative Web sites with an atrociously written diatribe. But even here, in Sodom On The Sound, there are certain lines not crossed.

While members of our city council have pondered the presence of nuclear submarines at our annual SeaFair gala; deliberated the fate of circus elephants; and spent an ungodly amount of time fiddling with the wording of a meaningless resolution in support of our troops in Iraq, they have not, to date, officially called for President Bush's impeachment.

Apparently they are happy to leave such bleeding-edge posturing to the council of the U.S.'s densest fruitcake of a municipality, Arcata, California, a place where vagrants who smear feces on the windows of local businesses are said to be "oppressed."

This Thursday past, on inauguration day, Arcata City Councilman Dave Meserve - who last October got the council to pass a resolution demanding Bush's impeachment, spoke out once again on his favorite subject during a "Not One Damn Dime Day" spending boycott/anti-Bush rally. Among the signs visibile: one stating "Bush is Satan." (Yeah, we knew that already).

Meserve must be an inspiration to other would-be council members in Arcata. Such as Andrew Lord, one of six candidates vying to fill a current council vacancy.

Sitting in a local cafe, Lord said he wants to be a part of the City Council's progressive tradition, including leading the nation on issues like nuclear-free zones and taking a stand against the Patriot Act.

"It seems to me the City Council is a great place for an individual to create positive change not just on the local level, but on the national level, and I think that can be done without negating local issues," he said.

But all this tilting at windmills may not be in the City of Arcata's best interests. I have an odd hunch judge J. Michael Brown, who just stuck it to the city on a matter seemingly unrelated to Arcata's symbolic politics of the absurd, may harbor a bit of a grudge.

Justice works in mysterious ways.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:32 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


January 22, 2005

La Tristesse

C'est officiale. Les Francais sont tres malheureux.

Quelle domage.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:12 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack



The End Of Civilization As We Know It

OK, so I'm driving away from Alki Beach in West Seattle yesterday afternoon, me and the kids all worn out and sandy from mucking about in the surf (yep, another one of those great days in the middle of winter, that we try not to talk about too much).

And there, parked in front of the Alki Bakery is a.......stretch Hummer. I must not get out enough, because although I've seen Hummers, I don't recall having seen, or even knowing about, stretch Hummers. This thing took up about half a city block or so.

I'm a free-market capitalist, and I think most rich folks who didn't inherit their money probably earned it. I bear them no grudge at all. As for "regular"-sized civilian Hummers here in Seattle, and elsewhere, I don't get bent out of shape about them, the way some sensitive folks do.

But.

A.

Line.

Has.

Been.

Crossed.

I'm appalled at the sight and the very idea of stretch Hummer limos, and was reminded quickly that it's not actual rich people who ride around in them, but essentially, Yahoos.

I had slowed down to gape and was thinking I might park, get out and find out who either owned or had rented this gross montrosity, and why, when a young woman in the back seat leaned out the window and stated to me, "you want to get in, but you can't afford it."

Yeah, right, dollycakes.

Now, it's true I used to drive a limo, a way back when, in Chicago. A stretch burgundy Lincoln, in fact, but about half the length of the stretch Hummer I saw yesterday. And it had....a built-in 8-track player in back. Yeh, baby.

We do odd things when we're 22. But one thing I liked about Seattle when I moved here 10 years ago, was the laid-back pace and low-key customs. Hey, you could barely spot a limo of ANY sort in Seattle in the mid-90s. That sort of ostentation was considered low-class, and I can appreciate why, even if now we must bear poltroons with Miami sensibilities here.

So, let me put it plainly: Ya wanna ride around in a stretch Hummer, DO IT IN L.A.!

Coming soon: Botox parties in (parked) stretch Hummers.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 03:50 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


January 21, 2005

I Left My Heart On The Zamboni

Good grief. If it weren't for Archie Bennitz, I wouldn't have even known there was a National Hockey League work stoppage. Bennitz got some ink today even though he's dead. He directed a son to use his newspaper obituary to blast NHL and players' union officials for coming to loggerheads and depriving him of televised hockey.

I used to be a great hockey fan back in the 60s, growing up in Chicago. The first time my dad took me into Chicago Stadium, long since torn down and replaced by something called United Center, I thought I was in a magic kingdom. To see Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita (Blackhawks greats) and Gordie Howe (Red Wings), was immense. So was the hulking machine that smoothed the ice in between periods; it was called a Zamboni. I wrote to all the Blackhawks, even the benchwarmers, for autographed pictures, and they sent them to me. Opening the mailbox at 5421 S. Cornell Ave. every day after school was pretty exciting there for awhile. They're probably still in a shoebox somewhere back in Chicago, maybe worth some dough on e-Bay now.

Back then, the league was six teams: Chicago, Detroit, New York, Boston, Montreal and Toronto. Like all professional sports in the U.S., hockey was undermined by hooliganism and runaway expansionism.

Not to mention absurd ticket prices. As Bennitz's son David told CBC Ottawa:

When he saw the price of tickets, he could never believe that people would actually pay $100 to sit at a hockey game, or how they could afford it, David says.

"Considering he was someone who worked hard his whole life, lived through the Depression, World War Two ... he couldn't see someone having that much money to pay to see hockey."

What gets me, apart from ticket prices for all pro sports, is there are so many teams in all the leagues that the playoffs are almost as long as the season.

Archie Bennitz still loved hockey anyway, and may his soul rest in peace.

Myself, I'd rather go skating.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 02:42 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack



The Norwegians Were Right

"Hook 'Em, Horns." Yeah, sure, Mr. President. You're not fooling those Norwegians for one hot second. They know you ARE Satan, and not just thanks to your devil-worshipping salute during yesterday's inaugural festivities. No, they've read all about it, here and here.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 02:13 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


January 20, 2005

Malay Satay Hut Rules!

Great conversation and food today at lunch in Seattle with my friend and fellow blogger James J. Na, the caped (South) Korean-American Crusader For Truth, Enlightenment, and the marriage of capitalism with Islam.

At James' suggestion we went to the Malay Satay Hut, a favorite of mine and just about anyone in Seattle who loves superb Asian food. There are two locations, one in Seattle's "Little Saigon" near 12th and Jackson, and another, really stylish spot in Redmond, not far from the Microsoft campus. Malaysian is one of the world's truly great cuisines; a combination of Chinese, Indian and Thai immigrant influences.

In fact James and I both agreed that if either of us were subjected to the cruel and unusual punishment of having to eat every meal for the rest of our lives in one restaurant, it would be MSH. The Seattle Times' justifiably esteemed restaurant critic Nancy Leson (whom I got to know a bit, albeit over the phone, when I was covering the budget eats beat there as a freelancer a few years ago), also loves MSH.

Today, James and I shared Sambal Squid, Spicy Silver Noodle Soup, Chicken Satay, and Roti Canai. Other favorites include Hokkien Mee, and Buddhist Yam Pot, and Dry Curry Crab. The menu is much bigger than this online version, but you can click on each dish shown to get a beautiful close-up.

For dessert, James ordered us some "ABC Ice Kachang," which sounds to me like a DJ from Singapore. Actually, it was a big bowl of shaved ice suffused with sweet red bean milk (or some such liquid) atop pearls of tapioca, other squiggly jellied stuff (some of it black), peanuts, and corn. I know, I know. Sounds utterly, irretrievably sick. It was delicious.

My culinary horizons, already achingly wide, have been expanded.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:10 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack



Why They Make The Big Bucks

Think it's easy investigating tips about reported terrorist plots? Imagine you had to check out a report - from an anonymous Mexican smuggler of immigrants - that he helped several Chinese illegally cross into the U.S. near San Diego, and they indicated they were on their way to Boston to take part in a "dirty bomb" explosion plot.

Phew. What a script.

More from the San Diego Union-Tribune. Of course, like many such tips, it could prove untrue. But, what if.......

And......if there's something substantial there, but the feds derail it, do you think we'll ever really see the details reported?

No, and that's probably just as it should be. It also means that the public necessarily has very little idea of what successes may be occuring weekly, in the realm of domestic terrorism prevention.

Which, again, is not to say this bizarre story will prove largely accurate. But that's not quite the point, in the end. The point is this: an awful lot has to go through the intelligence sieve these days. It's damn hard work, and we should ensure it's properly funded, and appreciated.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:49 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack



The FBI Is NOT The Enemy

A thick thread in the current agenda of the American left is the "Big Brother" meme. The feds are thought to be scrutinzing everything we do, malevolently spying on ordinary citizens and ethnic minorities under the guise of anti-terrorism and homeland security, thus threatening our constitutional rights. The collapse of the very Republic may be at hand.

And so, as TechNewsWorld reports:

A group that defends civil liberties on the Internet has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to determine if the government is secretly gathering information on the surfing habits of citizens.

In a copy of the FOIA obtained by TechNewsWorld, the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) said, "Although Internet users reasonably expect that their online reading habits are private, the DOJ will not confirm whether it collects or believes itself authorized to collect URLs using pen-trap devices."

"Pen registers" or "trap and trace devices" are technologies used by law enforcement agents to collect numbers dialed on a telephone or e-mail and IP addresses.

"The DOJ has refused to answer the public's very simple question: 'Can the government see what I'm reading on the Web without having to show probable cause?' Yet the public's interest in an answer to that question, which implicates the most profound constitutional rights, is inestimable," the EFF FOIA asserted.

At least the reporter used the word "asserted." I believe the public's interest in the question is very estimable, and I estimate that interest to be very low. While groups such as the EFF and the ACLU get a lot of mileage in the press from finding a conspiracy of intrusiveness under every rock they turn up, ordinary people realize if they aren't doing anything illegal on their telephones and computers, they have nothing to worry about.

If the FBI decides it wants to come visit me because, let's just say, hypothetically speaking here, I have done a Google Search for "FBI+anti-terrorism+surveillance+strategies," you know what? I'll deal with it. But having checked out my background before they come calling, they'll probably NOT come calling in the first place. Yet if I did the same Google search and was a Saudi Arabian student in the U.S. on a temporary visa, I might get "interviewed." Or, if I was frequenting web sites of Muslim extremist groups, or found to be posting jihadist screeds on same, I might get interviewed, charged and hauled into court.

No one should have any problem with any of this.

The enemy is not our domestic law enforcement apparatus, and the probem is not their latitude in surveillance. The enemy, and the problem, is radical Islam. Self-important "digital rights watchdog" groups like the EFF too rarely seem to grok that.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:37 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


January 19, 2005

Beware Airplane Water

The joke used to be that Evian spelled backwards is Naive. Haven't heard that one in a while. You could have guessed this already, but now the people from the gubb'mint are here to confirm your suspicions. Water on airplanes really IS disgusting.

CBS News reports the U.S. EPA tested the water available to passengers (via the bathroom sinks AND kitchen galleys) on 300 planes over six months and found that in one out of seven instances, federal pollution standards were exceeded. Coliform and e-coli bacteria associated with human feces is the big problem.

Water is pumped onto commercial jets via hoses that are hard to clean, but what's not quite clear is what goes through those hoses besides water. The not so faint implication from the story is that sewage is pumped out of some planes on the same hoses that water is pumped in on. That is almost too outrageous to even contemplate, but the suggestion is clear, though unaddressed, in the CBS story. A little follow-up is in order from the crew at Black Rock, I'd say. Get to the bottom of it, so to speak.

I'll put out my own call, to the teeming hundreds who visit this site daily: Anyone out there who works in aviation ground maintenance have any information to share?

For the meantime: bottled water, and no coffee or tea on planes. And don't wash your hands in the plane's bathroom, you may be making them germier. Anti-bacterial towelettes or gels are the order of the day. For you folks who already open bathroom doors in cafes with your elbows, this is no big deal.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:52 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack


January 18, 2005

Or, Pan-Fried Oysters In Whiskey Sauce?

Hot off the presses from PRNewswire: even tho Presidential Inauguration Day party-goers in Washington DC will be snarfing up fancy vittles such as oysters and lobster, a NEW SURVEY commissioned on behalf of KFC (formerly Kentucky Fried Chicken) finds that, most unexpectedly, more Americans would rather eat fried chicken at their own Inauguration Day parties than the foppish fare to be served in our nation's capital.

Still, us proles in the outlands can get into the spirit of things, while keeping it down home. I suggest an oyster Po Boy, or Lobster Roll.

Wash that down with a nice Oregon Pinot Gris, and you're set.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 04:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack



Is There Any Fixing Vancouver's Gastown?

Moving to Seattle from Chicago was one of the smartest things my wife and I ever did. For me, as a writer, Seattle's nutty politics is a constant source of inspiration. It's a great place to raise kids - assuming that if you live in the city you can work around the lousy public schools. And, you get to explore the Northwest. We've enjoyed mountains, water and especially cities; including San Francisco, Portland and Vancouver.

Our favorite Vancouver neighborhoods include the funky commercial districts of Kitsilano, and the Commercial Drive strip, aka "The Drive." The southern suburb of Richmond has some of North America's best Chinese food, plus (in the southwest part of Richmond, away from the roar of airplanes landing at Vancouver's international airport), great waterfront hiking and biking paths. Right there in the Steveston district are also restaurants, shops, and a sprawling fish market where you actually walk out on the docks to inspect boats full of catch before you buy. It's called Steveston Heritage Fishing Village; and here are 100 things to do there. Surrey, another suburb, just a bit further south, has a great, expansive, hidden-away beach. Back in the city, there's Stanley Park, a marvellous, bayside facility packed with a U.N.'s worth of jabbering tongues, a place that totally captures Vancouver's international feel and gorgeous setting.

But one place I never, ever go in Vancouver is Gastown, a sadly tacky and downtrodden tourist trap, full of historical buildings and social pathology bleeding over from the neighboring Downtown Eastside District, where socialized heroin-injection parlors, rampant street drug sales, and prostitution have drawn one of every two miscreants in a thousand-mile radius.

Now, the Globe and Mail reports today, there's a plan afoot to fix up Gastown.

In 1971, Vancouver's Gastown was declared a historic district by the province of British Columbia. In the years following, its many turn-of-the-twentieth-century buildings on and around Water Street were given a much needed facelift. The district, gussied up with art galleries, antique stores and ethnic restaurants, quickly became one of Vancouver's prime tourist attractions.

By the 1990s, however, Gastown had lost its lustre. Gastown abuts the Downtown Eastside, by then notorious for its high unemployment rate and drug dealing, and many former businesses lay empty, disfigured by graffiti. Chic boutiques had given way to tacky souvenir shops, and Woodward's, the iconic century-old department store on West Hastings Street (it borders the Downtown Eastside and Gastown), closed its doors.

Specifically, the City of Vancouver is pushing a "Heritage Management Plan" to bring Gastown back to life, with grants to repair and restore historic buildings, and property tax exemptions of up to 10 years for participants. There are 11 development proposals on the table.

I wish 'em luck. But two things. First, as a discerning tourist, even a spiffed-up Gastown is still going to be a tourist trap that does not reflect the real feel of the city, historic buildings notwithstanding. Two, the bleed-over from the Downtown Eastside scum parade means Gastown will always be hurtin.' Too much tolerance breeds dystopia. They need more jail capacity, more policing, and an end to Vancouver's unofficial Full Employment Act for social service workers. But that's not the Canadian way, eh?

Vancouver, which celebrates its "progressive" approach to heroin addiction with government-approved "safe injection sites," will find, that as with addicts, in Gastown as well they are treating the symptoms, not the problems.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:43 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack



New To The Blogroll, Chapter Two

This title is misleading, as I've been adding to my blogroll here ever since I started Rosenblog a year ago. But recently, I put up my first actual "New To My Blogroll" post - to highlight some recent additions. Now here's another, to serve as a convenient sampler. On an ongoing basis, you'll be able to locate these blogs in the designated sections of my blogroll, in the right-hand column here.

Northwest/West: Orblog (companion site to the great NW newslinks-only Orbusmax site, this one with actual commentary); Rick's Miscellany; Western Washington Unraveled.

Uber-bloggers: Becker-Posner Blog.

Unsung Heroes: Bosh Tang; Conservapost; Cydney; Drambuieman; Error Theory; Freedom Dogs; het2blog; Local Liberty (Claremont Institute's local government blog); Random Nuclear Strikes; and Skiritae.

Humor: Eyes On The Ball.

More to come.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 01:33 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


January 17, 2005

Intellectual Diversity in San Francisco

I remain impressed with the diversity of thought in the opinion section of the San Francisco Chronicle. In addition to locally-based, nationally syndicated conservative stalwart Deborah Saunders, the Chron features two bi-weekly online op-ed columnists of conservative bent.

One is Jennifer Nelson (her latest column here; previous Rosenblog posts about her work here and here). Another was Adam Sparks (a column by whom was in fact the subject of my very first Rosenblog post nearly one year ago; here's another post of mine which links to a Sparks column).

Now it appears Sparks has been succeeded by the very able Cinnamon Stillwell, who earned her conservative credentials in the trenches at one of the most egregiously Left-biased institutions of higher learning in the country, San Francisco State University. In a recent Rosenblog post, I linked to her Chron column, on anti-conservative and anti-Jewish bias at SFSU.

Liberal ideologues never rest in SF. As in Seattle, they are digging their own graves deeper each and every day. Case in point: the San Francisco Board of Supervisors wants a fall public vote on whether to "outlaw" handguns in the city and county of San Francisco, as I noted in this post. Today, it so happens, Stillwell weighs in on the topic, with an excellent Chron column titled, "Gun Control, By Any Means Necessary."

San Francisco's Board of Supervisors is up to its old tricks again, trying to control violent crime by penalizing law-abiding citizens. In their infinite wisdom, the supervisors want to ban private citizens from owning handguns, while the very criminals they seek to undermine are free to purchase them on the black market.....they plan to put the misguided measure on the ballot in November, and, considering San Franciscans' propensity for supporting feel-good laws with little thought for the long-term consequences, it could very well pass.

....Little thought seems to have gone into the practical elements of this drastic ban, such as enforcement and possible ramifications....because there's no public gun registry for the City, let alone for California, how will San Francisco start its collection efforts?....At a time of crippling budget problems, the City could find itself in the awkward position of having to reimburse gun owners for their property.....San Francisco can ill afford such additional expenses.

According to the proposed ban, gun owners will be given 90 days to relinquish their handguns....Do the supervisors really imagine that gun owners will just start pouring into local law-enforcement offices and surrendering their handguns? And if they don't comply, how will the law be enforced exactly?

....what about the wisdom of leaving citizens defenseless? Although the media rarely report such incidents, countless crimes are prevented every year by legal gun owners standing up to criminals.....The reality is that criminals will continue to have access to illegal weaponry no matter how many restrictions politicians place on gun ownership. In fact, not only does gun control not stem crime, it may actually increase it. Such has been the case in both Australia and England, both of which instituted handgun bans, only to encounter skyrocketing crime as a result. Here in the United States, Washington, D.C. enacted a ban on handguns in 1976 (which is being repealed), only to become the murder capital of the country. Is San Francisco next?

....Whatever happens, San Francisco's position on the political fringes of the country will only be cemented by this attempted ban. If that's the legacy the Board of Supervisors want to impart, so be it. San Franciscans are awfully fond of threatening secession these days, but self-destruction would be a more apt description.

Dead on, Ms. Stillwell. Keep writing. And, uh, hey, why don't you start a blog?

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 04:10 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


January 16, 2005

Feces Ain't Fun: Downtown Arcata Hurtin'

Like Santa Cruz, the city of Arcata, California is literally going into the crapper, thanks to the homeless, who say they are "oppressed." The city council has appointed a task force, but the retiring city manager says they're off base: social services for the homeless are the county and state's responsibility. The larger discussion has to do with individual responsibility.

More here in an insightful feature from North Coast Magazine. Read the whole thing and you'll see the homeless get their say. But the writer isn't exactly bound and gagged by political correctness either.

IT'S NOT UNCOMMON, SAID ONE DOWNTOWN ARCATA business owner last week, for her to start the workday by contemplating the human feces someone plastered to her storefront the night before.

The woman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear that her business would suffer, said that she didn't believe herself to be the victim of anyone holding a grudge -- unless the grudge is one against business in general. She was not the only business person so targeted, she said.

"This has happened in the front of Jambalaya, too," she said. "They poop right in front of your doorway and they smear it up your window."

In the two years that she has had her business, she said, she has conducted a citizen's arrest on someone who urinated on the side of her building in the middle of the day. She has had to roust people sleeping in front of her door. She has continually endured the smell of marijuana smoke drifting into her office from the street.

Lately, she said, she has employed desperate tactics in trying to get the city to address the problem. "The way I deal with this when I go to City Council, I deal with it as a health and safety issue," she said. "There is a health problem in this town, and this is how diseases get passed around."

For her, there is no mystery who is responsible for the various insults to her business -- the destitute, the disturbed and those young folks who choose to live on the streets as a form of social protest -- who together make up Arcata's homeless population. And she's frustrated by city government's inability to either get them off the streets or make them behave.

That would involve law enforcement, and worse, judgement. Bummer, man.

She is not alone. Earlier this year, Arcata MainStreet, an advocacy group for downtown businesses -- polled its members for ideas that would help improve the atmosphere in the town. Business owners were asked to list the things that they believed would help improve the business climate in Arcata. Far and away, the No. 1 suggestion was to clean up the downtown -- clean up human waste, panhandling, noise, drugs and all other "aggressive intrusions upon shoppers, visitors and community members." ("One respondent offered the rallying cry, `Take The City Back From The Bums!'" MainStreet noted in the official report of the survey's results.) The next two priorities cited can be read as versions of the first -- build public restrooms and put more police on the Plaza.

At a recent public forum, a top city official went against the grain.

By the end of the discussion, City Manager Dan Hauser was visibly frustrated. Perhaps because he is set to retire next year, he chose not to mince words. In its zeal to right the world's wrongs, the council appeared to be assuming responsibilities that the state of California and Humboldt County are mandated to address.

"What the council -- and, apparently, a great deal of the public -- does not understand is that the city has neither the legal mandate nor the funds to provide social and welfare services," he said. "I'm afraid we're giving them the expectation that we're going to do something when it ain't there for us to do."

As the article makes clear, there may still be some practical things the city can do, such as installing more public restrooms, and allowing camping on vacant land (typically a controversial move, if the "Tent City" battles in and around Seattle are an indication).

But what too often gets short shrift in these conversations is: what's the plan for these homeless individuals to get back on their feet? When did we graduate to the idea that government intervention, as opposed to personal responsibility, is the essential ingredient here? Or do many of the homeless, in fact, intend to live on the streets the rest of their lives, or for the forseeable future? And how long will small business owners and local residents continue bearing the costs of incivility rooted in personal failures and individual shortcomings?

The homeless aren't owed dignity by society and government. They owe it to themselves.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 07:51 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack


January 15, 2005

Last Days of The Kool-Aid Quaffers

Here, according to our Sandinista alternative weekly, The Stranger, is the burning political question in Seattle right now; apart from whether Dino Rossi will win his court case seeking a new election against Christine Gregoire for Washington Governor.

When George W. Bush was sworn in four years ago, protesters took to the streets in Washington, D.C., New York, Seattle, and other cities. Local activists are planning to protest Bush's second inauguration--but will anyone show up this time?

I'm biting my nails about it as I blog, verily.

OK, actually I'm not.

As I've noted here before, Seattle specializes in the empty politics of symbolic resistance. That nourishes the flowering of a moderate-right political culture. Not only in the suburbs, but also within the City of Seattle (something that is already underway thanks in part to some of the unindicted co-conspirators involved in the noted blog Sound Politics).

So I made pleased clucking sounds upon reading further, in The Stranger, that:

UW students are planning to wear black armbands on January 20, walk out of class at noon, and rally in Red Square. (Similar protests are planned at Seattle University, Seattle Central Community College, and at least five area high schools.) After a march through campus, the students plan to take Metro busses to Capitol Hill to join students from other schools for a rally at Seattle Central.

But here's the rub, says The Stranger. The crucial ingredient for protest is anger, and there's just not a lot of right now, compared to after the 2000 election. (Never mind that anger and protest aren't how The Left will gain influence. That realization isn't even their radar).

For lefties who became political activists for the first time in their lives last year, the realization that their hard work didn't turn Bush out of office has translated into feelings of grief, frustration, depression, apathy, and denial--but not anger. Anger can inspire people to protest. Depression and denial lead people to hibernate, drink, and check out of politics.

Denial of what, one might ask? The Stranger doesn't say. Denial that Bush, in fact, IS the anti-Christ? Or denial that a public group grope on the "issues" of the day is again necessary for the betterment of the Republic?

This year, activists are cramming their fliers and rally speakers' rosters with a laundry list of causes and issues: The Green Party wants a few minutes to talk about voting irregularities in Ohio. Gay rights groups want to talk about marriage. ANSWER and NION (ed. - "Not In Our Name") plan to talk about the war. Labor leaders want to talk about sub-par wages and benefits. And Arab American groups will be on hand to discuss post-9/11 racial profiling. That's enough issues to motivate--and attract--just about everyone.

"We want people to bring all of their concerns. There's so, so much, it blows my mind," says UW's (Ashley) Miller.

Yes, Ashley, your mind IS blown. But that's not a good thing.

What's truly pathetic about The Stranger is that they offer up a simplistic sort of "sports coverage" approach to rally turnout, as though that were penetrating political analysis, and AS THOUGH THAT ACTUALLY FRICKIN' MATTERED. Worse, a fair share of their idiot, pierced, green-haired vegan readers lap it right up. (The rest of their idiot readers don't, but only because they're too drunk or drugged). The Stranger's flaccid Lefty drivel has has previously led me to hypothesize that Seattle's "it" weekly is actually part of a sinister GOP co-intelpro campaign.

Which apparently may also explain this howler of a correction appended to The Stranger's article.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly implied that a pink flier with the phrase, "Start a fire, blow up a bank, block a street... converge at Westlake Park," was affiliated with NION. Though the poster in question uses the national NION organization's web address and rally slogan, and directs people to NION-Seattle's rally at Westlake Park on Thursday, NION-Seattle alerted The Stranger after publication that NION-Seattle did not sanction the poster. In a statement released today, NION-Seattle said, "We call on anyone posting these flyers in NION's name to cease immediately."

In a statement about the mysterious "bomb a bank" flyers issued in their name, Not In Our Name goes a step further, saying:

We believe the flyer....to be the work of an individual or government agency with the intent to sabotage the protest and set up Not In Our Name for political attack.

Right. Because they're such a potent force.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:56 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


January 14, 2005

Bite My Red Fire Bar, Please

Relax, I'm just talking about chocolate. Red Fire Bar is one of three exotically flavored dark chocolate bars made by Vosges Haut-Chocolate of Chicago and New York.

This one features ancho and chipotle peppers, Ceylon cinnamon and dark chocolate. The chocolate is good, and the spice flavors are definitely there, but just a notch past subtle, and only on the aftertaste. They also make Naga Bar (sweet Indian curry powder, coconut flakes and dark chocolate) and Black Pearl Bar (Japanese ginger, wasabi, black sesame seed, dark chocolate).

These three varieties were going around, to rave reviews, at my in-laws' house in suburban D.C. over X-mas vacation, thanks to two of my sisters-in-law who are big fans. They got rave reviews (the candy, not the sisters-in-law).

(Hey, just kidding, you guys are all great).

I declined to indulge then, but we got a care package today from one of the instigators (thanks, Lisa!), including a Red Fire Bar. So I tried a bite. And then another. Nice......just the thing to top off a dinner featuring barbequed brisket with my secret smoky sauce.

Our youngest, Ava (almost 5), says she really liked the Red Fire Bar, so that tells you it's not too strange. Great stocking stuffer. Or bring to a dinner party with a bottle of Port. Or Drambuie.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:54 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


January 13, 2005

Ol' Dirty Bastard Felled By Cocaine, Pills

When the "loveable," "unpredictable" and "goofy" rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard - ex of the Wu Tang Clan - died suddenly in the recording studio last November the MSM encomniums were numerous, glowing, and of a piece. A typical example of the coverage comes in this earlier post of mine which links to a Boston Globe profile.

Smiley faces for his jokey welfare-cheat stunt pulled with admiring MTV cameras in tow.

Painstaking avoidance any comment beyond bare facts regarding his fathering of as many as 12 (according to The Globe) children by several different women.

Faint amusement recalling his impromptu, uninvited, apparently drug-addled ambush of award-winner Shawn Colvin's acceptance speech at the 1998 Grammys ("Wu-Tang is for the children," ODB declared into the podium mike to a puzzled audience).

The cause of death for ODB (real name Russell Jones) wasn't known. And MSM follow-up has been nil, except for a New York Post report in early December he died with small bags of cocaine in his stomach (abridged summary from archives here).

While The Post (a shameless tabloid unbound by PC strictures) got that scoop, it is the online music press that further reported the details (although it's still not clear why ODB would swallow cocaine bags, unless he feared a sudden in-studio bust). And it is the online music press that dared to register commentary. After The New York Medical Examiner's Office reported ODB OD'd on cocaine and a prescription painkiller, mp3's "Rolls Off The Tongue: The Weekly News As Is" said what someone in the MSM should have, especially given all the pre-autopsy MSM speculation on whether drugs were involved:

The news of the cause of death is unfortunately not shocking. ODB was no stranger to drug abuse. In 2000, his well-documented usage landed him in a drug rehabilitation facility, which he escaped from two months after admittance, and then prison. Upon his release in May 2003, ODB made several public announcements regarding his being drug-free. Sadly, his death proves his profession of sobriety a falsity.

There's more distressing post-autopsy news. ODB's mother, and the first four of his seven confirmed children have been left out in the cold in the estate settlement. So his mother Cherry Jones and her partner Jared Weisfeld (who is also ODB's former business manager) have formed a new music label to produce an ODB tribute CD, and they're hoping to cash in.

"Dirty's legacy will continue though this album, his music, his DVD and his clothing line for all eternity," Weisfeld said in a statement.

Funny thing, Jared, I'd have thought his legacy might have something to do with his children. As opposed to his clothing line. And I imagine his "legacy" will not quite be for all of eternity, but rather a part of it. A very small part, actually.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack



Peggy Noonan: Truth, Cacophony Intertwined

Think Rathergate, and Rossi-Gregoire: Peggy Noonan on indispensable blogger soapboxes and the end of MSM hegemony. From the Wall Street Journal.

...the mainstream media's monopoly on information is over. That is, the monopoly enjoyed by three big networks, a half dozen big newspapers and a handful of weekly magazines from roughly 1950 to 2000 is done and gone, and something else is taking its place. That would be a media cacophony. But a cacophony in which the truth has a greater chance of making itself clearly heard.

.......Is there a difference between the bloggers and the MSM journalists? Yes. But it is not that they are untrained eccentrics home in their pajamas. (Half the writers for the Sunday New York Times are eccentrics home in their pajamas.) It is that they are independent and allowed to think their own thoughts. It is that they have autonomy and can assign themselves stories, and determine on their own the length and placement of stories. And it is that they are by and large as individuals more interesting than most MSM reporters.

Remember the movie "Broadcast News"? The bland young reporter played by William Hurt who yearned to be a star and a member of the establishment would be a major network anchor or producer now, his hair gone a distinguished gray. The character played by Albert Brooks--the bright, mischievous and ultimately more talented journalist--would be a blogger now.

Now anyone can take to the parapet and announce the news. This will make for a certain amount of confusion. But better that than one-party rule and one-party thought. Only 20 years ago, when you were enraged at what you felt was the unfairness of a story, or a bias on the part of the storyteller, you could do this about it: nothing. You could write a letter.

When I worked at CBS a generation ago I used to receive those letters. Sometimes we read them, and sometimes we answered them, but not always. Now if you see such a report and are enraged you can do something about it: You can argue in public on a blog or on TV, you can put forth information that counters the information in the report. You can have a voice. You can change the story. You can bring down a news division. Is this improvement? Oh yes it is.

.....The most successful bloggers aren't bringing bluster to the debate, they're bringing facts--font sizes, full quotes, etc. They're bringing facts and points of view on those facts that the MSM before this could ignore, and did ignore. They're bringing a lot to the debate, and changing the debate by what they bring. They're doing what excellent reporters would do.

Bloggers like my outstanding Sound Politics colleague, Stefan Sharkansky, whose work has revealed fundamental and disturbing questions about the legitimacy of the Washington Governor's election, which is now being contested in court.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:50 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack


January 12, 2005

Wanted: "Democratic Capitalism With Islamic Characteristics"

My friend, the scholar and gentleman James J. Na, has yet another outstanding op-ed piece in The Seattle Times today. It's titled "How To Define Success In The War On Terror."

The first thing to realize, he says, is it's not a war on terror or even terrorism. While strengthening homeland security and hunting down terrorist cells globally are important, he reminds us this a war of ideas - of modernity against a socio-political primitivism intertwined with twisted theology, though neither of the latter two need define Islam today.

The fundamental issue...is one of ideology. ...The problem of extremist Islamic terrorism is the problem of the broader Middle East, the failure to establish a prevailing pluralistic ideology.

Before the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, the two dominant governing ideologies in the Middle East were corrupt monarchism (Saudi Arabia and Iran) and repressive, socialist dictatorships (Iraq and Syria). Given the absence of any attractive ideology in the region, the appeal of religious purism harnessed to extremism turned out to be irresistible to the many disaffected, including those from privileged backgrounds.

Thus, success — or failure — in this war will not depend on whether we can conduct better passenger searches or kill terrorist bands. It will depend on whether we can help to establish a competing ideology — of democratic capitalism with Islamic characteristics — in the Middle East. That is why the upcoming January elections in Iraq are so singularly important.

If we are able to help Iraqis — situated in the heart of the Middle East and bordering six major Islamic societies — to establish a synthesis of Western democratic capitalism and Islamic traditions, such an ideology will prove to be even more irresistible than religious purism-turned-extremist.

On the other hand, if we are unsuccessful in this endeavor or recoil from it, we will have to live with a continuing cycle of intrusive homeland-security measures and costly preemptive conflicts — a war without an end.

Na is a senior fellow at Seattle's Discovery Institute, and a stellar addition to the regional and international blogospheres. Visit his site, Guns and Butter.

Fish and chips are on me next time, James.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 04:45 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack



Take That, Cuban....$ More Weds. Links

Jake, at Smack My Booty, is all over Mark Cuban.

Skor Grimm is all over the naked pigs of Snohomish County. But in a good way, trust me.

Booker Rising's Molotov supports Social Security reform, and adds a black perspective toward the end of her post.

Stanley Crouch on the top black women's magazine Essence going after misogyny in hip-hop.

Damn, Ambra got dooced. That is, sacked for something she wrote on her blog. More here in my post at Sound Politics, this a.m. Bright future for this fine Seattle-based blogger, writer and cultural agitator. Perhaps even brighter now, actually.

South Korea gets it, by using outsourcing as a competitive tool, writes Seattle-based global affairs expert James J. Na.

Via the truly cool local blog Ann Arbor is Overrated comes news of this kinda lame-o contest sponsored by the Ann Arbor Ad Club: "Capture The Cool" of Ann Arbor in an advertisement. Some big hints from the organizers: winning themes should highlight diversity, perhaps ancient holistic healing arts, and that Ann Arbor is "incredibly progressive."...........Ah, not THAT progressive, actually. OR quite so diverse as some think. But it IS where my parents met as students, and got married.

And The Shark gets his due in the local fishwrap.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:51 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


January 11, 2005

Brian Maloney Speaks

Brian Maloney has the "other side" of the "other side" of the story on his firing as a radio talk show host by KIRO-AM in Seattle (a CBS affiliate owned by Entercom).

Cliff Notes version: the initial story that he was sacked for blasting Dan Rather was challenged by some who said other KIRO hosts were also critical - on-air - of Rather's botching of the Bush-TANG memo episode. I blogged the story at the time, and you'll see that refutation in one of the comments appended to the post.

Not so fast, says Brian at his new blog Radio Equalizer. Read Brian's post.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:32 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack



A Healthy Investment?

What's involved in a Presidential bicycle ride? Now you know. The Leader of the Free World must remain fit, and all security provisions are warranted. But, sheesh, it makes ya wonder if a stationary bike wouldn't be more cost effective.

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



Into The Abyss, Comrades

More symbolic gnashing of teeth from the Angry Left. BushBlackOut.com is urging lefty bloggers and Web site masters to black out their sites on inauguration day, Jan. 20, to protest the "death of democracy." Never mind the cute picture at their site of W. snapping off a Nazi salute; that's just window dressing.

Boy, Patrick was right.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:53 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack



Florida Gay Adoption Ban Upheld

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld a lower court ruling supporting Florida's ban on gays and lesbians adopting children. This may encourage some other states to consider such laws. The big mistake here would be for gay rights activists to assert the Florida law, and the high court decision, are fuled by homophobia and bigotry.

Which is exactly what we'll be hearing from them. Such rhetoric is polarizing and fails to acknowledge that reasonable, non-bigoted people, can disagree on controversial cultural matters such as gay marriage and gay adoption.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:31 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack


January 10, 2005

New To My Blogroll....

....today are:

(Northwest/West) Brian Maloney's Radio Equalizer (former KIRO-AM talk host), The Rant (College Republicans at Pacific Lutheran U.), Ridenbaugh Press (NW political news and commentary), and Soylent Content (media, technology, culture, politics).

(Unsung Heroes) Begging to Differ, Sounding The Trumpet, Binary Circumstance, Tapscott's Copy Desk, and Private Radio.

(Black) Jimi Izrael.

(Mar-Com) Steve Rubel's Micropersuasion.

Expect more additions in various categories soon, and on an ongoing basis. If you know of a good site not listed here, let me know. I'm more interested in suggestions about sites other than the proverbial 800-pound gorillas of the blogosphere (i.e. Volokh, Vodka Pundit, Wonkette, etc.).

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 05:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack



"The Personal Is NOT Political"

Symbolism-happy slackers are dragging the Ds down a rathole, says a Seattle grad student named Patrick, who I've exchanged e-mails with, and who has a Live Journal page you might want to keep an eye on. In an age when rebellion has become commoditized and the personal over-politicized, Democrats too often don't organize; they buy the latest Al Franken book instead, Patrick writes.

Here's more from his post, "The Rebel Sell."

We rebel by buying Eminem CDs and Hot Topic vinyl pants with a small naval ship's worth of metal dangling from them, dying our hair blue and shelling out money for concerts. Our rebellion isolates us from family, friends, community, work, religion, life itself - leaving us alone and vulnerable. Not free. It's a form of infantilism - we don't want to grow up, so you see the sad spectacles of balding hipsters and graying punks, forever acting out an idealized version of high school where they may forever exclude the unhip and uncool.

...So we buy. We buy as a substitute for political action. We think that buying organic vegetables from the local co-op has the same effect as writing your congressman.

Or we do silly things like protest with signs. Or vote for Dennis Kucinich. Or any of a host of other things that are utterly meaningless and ineffectual in the real world.

We've traded effective politics for a kind of New Age-y politics of the personal. The personal is not political. This was the ultimate sin of the 1960s - the Man didn't care about you doing acid and running around in tye-dye. The Man was all too happy to sell you your Volkswagen bus and Doors records.

.....Here, I think, is the key as to how Republicans have won elections. While liberals have started turning in on themselves, Republicans have done the dirty, boring, unglamorous work of mobilizing get-out-the-vote drives, of writing letters, of signing petitions, of electing people to school boards. Democrats, while starting to wise up in some places, simply don't do these things to the same degree. It's more typical of Democrats to buy the newest Al Franken book than to organize.

Grrrrr.

Maybe this is what we need - a politics of happiness. Are you happier now than you were 4 years ago? If not, what are you going to do about it? We talk about dark, looming forces - the System, the Establishment, the Man, the Religious Right, whatever - that lurk beyond the horizon, making futile any action but symbolic assaults to assert one's individuality. But maybe these forces aren't what they seem. Maybe they're made up of people like you and me.

Maybe, then, it's our responsibility to do the hard and unglamorous work. Engage much as people used to engage. Work. If those forces aren't invulnerable, then it's our responsibility to engage them. We no longer have the luxury, the excuse of powerlessness.

'Cause this fake rebellion's getting real old, real fast.

Bob Shrum and Terry McAuliffe, MoveOn.org, and the entire Seattle "peace and justice" community: you need some face time with this guy.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:41 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack



The Judge Says You'd Better Floss

The court has spoken: you really DO need to floss. The ruling upholding the importance of dental floss, and the practice of flossing, results from a suit filed by Johnson and Johnson (floss makers) after a Listerine ad campaign. The ads claimed, "Listerine antiseptic is clinically proven to be as effective as floss at reducing plaque and gingivitis between the teeth."

Denny Chin, a U.S. District Court Judge, said in a decision that he'll direct Pfizer, the company that makes Listerine, to cease such claims. More from The Houston Chronicle.

..."Dentists and hygienists have been telling their patients for decades to floss daily," Chin wrote. "They have been doing so for good reason. The benefits of flossing are real — they are not a 'myth.' Pfizer's implicit message that Listerine can replace floss is false and misleading."

I just wish my dentist had told 'ol clueless me a little sooner that flossing is about 100 times easier if you use that toothbrush-handled thing-y with disposable snap-in and snap-out heads, containing a a short length of floss stretched across the little U-shaped bracket. Because, I'll tell ya, the old-fashioned way just doesn't work very well.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 07:31 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


January 07, 2005

Better Off Unplugged

The Internet is like a gun. It all depends how you use it.

Consider the case of this deranged Philadelphia Phillies fan living in California. He was so upset with his team's performance that he hijacked the e-mail addresses of several sportswriters and began sending out huge volumes of venemous anti-Phillies e-mails, so many of which bounced back to their "senders" that entire corporate computer systems were disabled.

Though he moved away from the Philadelphia area 18 years ago, Allan E. Carlson's obsessive interest in the Phillies - and his hostile opinions about the team's management - only increased with time.

Sitting in his apartment in Glendale, Calif., Carlson, 41, spent 70 hours a week hacking into other people's computers and using their e-mail addresses to spread his baseball gripes on the Internet.

.....Carlson, who is unemployed, said his main gripes were that Phillies management was spending too little money to build a winning team and that sports reporters and columnists in Philadelphia were not holding the team bosses accountable.

Among other things, Carlson used the e-mail addresses of sportswriters to send ranting messages to tens of thousands of random e-mail addresses. That triggered masses of return e-mails to the writers whose names were used. One columnist received 60,000 returned e-mails, some with angry replies.

Carlson also sent what Levy described as a racist e-mail to staff members at The Inquirer in 2002 in the name of Walker Lundy, the newspaper's editor at the time. Lundy testified as a prosecution witness.

Carlson's lawyer, Mark T. Wilson, said in his closing argument that his client's behavior was "reprehensible" and maybe "crazy," but not criminal. "There is no evidence that he knew damage was occurring," Wilson said. "Nobody came back to him and said, 'Yo, you've got to stop this.' How does he know that all this damage is occurring?"

Defense lawyers. Gotta love 'em. As it happens, tho, hours after the above-linked story ran, Carlson was convicted. He could get up to 41 months in jail.

If so, a memo to the warden: no computer access for the prisoner.

And some advice for Mr. Carlson. I know it's hard. But I got over the Cubs. You can get over The Phillies. They are NOT in your DNA, OK? You need a new hobby. Something outdoorsy, wholesome, relaxing and rewarding. Maybe gardening?

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 12:17 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack



Transgression 101, Denver Style

Several hundred protestors are on trial in Denver now for loitering and failure to obey lawful orders, because last fall they disrupted the city's Columbus Day parade. As the Denver Post reports, they believe Christopher Columbus was "a slave trader responsible for genocide in the deaths of up to 10 million American Indians."

The trial is moving along about as you might expect. Two witnesses who were about to be sworn to tell the whole truth, etc...apparently wanted no part of that bible-related ritual, and so proposed to take the oath by placing their hands on a ceremonial pipe. Such symbolic cultural matters, like the parade itself, are apparently top priorities for Denver-area Native Americans when it comes to expending their political capital. A judge, somewhat peeved, said the pipe would be fine, and so, for that matter, would a ham or baloney sandwich. Further, and elevating, public discourse on the matter ensued.

The trial has also included assertions that teen girls on a float during the parade, tossing candy to the crowd, actually hurled candy at the protestors, constituting an act of racist intimidation.

I don't know about you, but once again, I am grateful for the American system of jurisprudence, which allows parade spoilers to use the cultural bias defense.

Hat tip to the invaluable blog, Tongue Tied; which blog readers should bookmark immediately, and bloggers should blogroll immediately, if they have not already.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 11:50 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack



About That "Stupid" Ship Bush Sent, Franz

Blogger Varifrank works in the IT industry, and at a recent meeting with colleagues, a sniggering Euro he's calling "Franz" griped - to much supportive laughter - that Bush was "'stupid" for sending an aircraft carrier to help in recovery efforts following the massive Asian tsunami disaster.

Well, Varifrank lost it, just a bit, and we should all be glad. Here's part of what he said, as a nervous hush fell over the room:

Hmmm, let's see, what would be the ideal ship to send to a disaster, now what kind of ship would we want?

Something with its own inexhuastible power supply?

Something that can produce 900,000 gallons of fresh water a day from sea water?

Something with its own airfield? So that after producing the fresh water, it could help distribute it?

Something with 4 hospitals and lots of open space for emergency supplies?

Something with a global communications facility to make the coordination of disaster relief in the region easier?

Well "Franz", us peasants in America call that kind of ship an "Aircraft Carrier". We have 12 of them. How many do you have? Oh that's right, NONE. Lucky for you and the rest of the world, we are the kind of people who share. Even with people we don't like. In fact, if memory serves, once upon a time we peasants spent a ton of money and lives rescuing people who we had once tried to kill and who tried to kill us.

Do you know who those people were? That's right Franz, Europeans.

There is a French Aircraft carrier? Where is it? Right where it belongs! In France of course! Oh why should the French Navy dirty their uniforms helping people on the other side of the globe. How Simplesse...

The day an American has to move a European out of the way to help in some part of the world it will be a great day in the world, you sniggering little fucknob..." (Ed.-I am leaving this preceding word in, against my usual policy, as in this particular instance it is not gratuitous).

The room fell silent. My (Ed.-Hindu) friend (Ed.-and co-worker, who had lost his family in the tsunami) then said quietly to the Euros:

"Can you let your hatred of George Bush end for just one minute? There are people dying! And what are your countries doing? Amazon.com has helped more than France has. You all have a role to play in the world, why can't you see that? Thank God for the U.S. Navy, they don't have to come and help, but they are. They helped you once and you should all thank God they did. They didn't have to, and no one but them would have done so. I'm ashamed of you all..."

He left the room, shaking and in tears. The frustration of being on the other side of the globe, unable to do anything to assist and faced with people who could not set aside their asininity long enough to reach out and help was too much for him to bear. I just shook my head and left. The Euros stood speechless.

Later in the breakroom, one of the laughing Euros caught me and extended his hand in an apology. I asked him where he was from, he said "a town outside of Berlin". He is a young man, in his early 20's.

Via Baldilocks.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:28 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


January 06, 2005

The Case For Partial Privatization of Social Security

Columnist David Reinhard of The Oregonian talks in a clear and compelling manner about the need to reform Social Security. If after reading Reinhard's whole piece, you think he's missing something, add a comment here. I know this much: when someone miraculously writes about this topic in Plain English, I get interested.

President Bush had a holiday assignment for the media kvetchniks who were grilling him on Social Security reform at a news conference right before Christmas: Read the "Moynihan Report."

Granted that's probably not the best way to sell a partial-privatization plan for Social Security. Although it is worth saying again and again that a liberal Democrat of Daniel Patrick Moynihan's stature endorsed partial-privatization as a way to save Social Security, Bush will have to distill and popularize the report over the coming months if he's to be successful....So let's take our first look at the Moynihan report.

....If you were designing a Social Security system today, would you create the same system President Franklin Roosevelt and the New Dealers came up with in the mid-1930s to ensure that Americans save for retirement?

....The current Social Security system is a prisoner of demographics: declining birth rates and longer life expectancies. Fewer workers are and will be supporting more retirees living longer. (The Moynihan Report says) "As an income transfer system, Social Security works best with a high ratio of workers to beneficiaries. When the United States had a rapidly growing work force supporting a small elderly population, Social Security seemed sustainable. But when fewer new workers are paying into Social Security and more new beneficiaries are collecting from it, the burden placed on individual workers must inevitably rise."

Declining birth rates means fewer workers. And declining U.S. birth rates have a lot to do with self-absorbed Blue City Liberals, busy eating Stilton and taking trips to Provence, all the while moaning that today's world is just too dicey - or precious natural resources too scarce (hah!) - to have any children, or more than one.

Yet the levelling off of social security's workforce funding base need not be fatal. Reinhard also observes we're increasingly a nation of investors, and that part of the retirement system for federal employees actually provides a working model of partial privatization of social security for the rest of us.

...Mutual funds have allowed small savers to pool their investments over a range of stocks and bonds. In May 2001, the report notes, 93.3 million Americans -- 52 percent of all households -- owned mutual funds, and 29 percent have household assets of less than $50,000.

A market-based, worker-owned model for Social Security reform came into being in 1986. It's the Thrift Savings Plan that's part of the retirement system for federal employees. They can put their retirement savings into three funds (short-term non-marketable U.S. Treasury securities, a commercial bond index and an equity index fund). One measure of the program's success is that 86.6 percent of all federal workers participate. They're not participating because it's a bad investment.

Why shouldn't Social Security participants be able to save and invest -- and own their retirement nest egg -- in a similar way and outstrip the current Social Security's system's pathetic returns?

(President Franklin D.) Roosevelt seemed to understand that Social Security would always be a work in progress. As he said in signing amendments to the Social Security Act just four years after its enactment, "We must expect a great program of social legislation . . . to be improved and strengthened in the light of additional experience and understanding."

And "improving and strengthening" social security may well require a smaller government role.

Hat Tip: The Mighty Orbusmax, news sentinel of the Northwest.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 04:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack



Toddler Helmets! Yikes!

And here you thought four-year-olds in strollers was cause for clucking.

Welcome to the Brave New World of Thudguard, brightly decorated head protectors for your precious young 'uns. Those Brits.

Via Not On My Watch.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:35 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack



Andrea Yates Still Did It

This is a farce (I wish). Convicted, jailed Houston-area mom Andrea Yates, who drowned her five children in a bathtub at home in 2001, then called police and confessed, will get a new trial because a witness cited as a partial causal factor a "Law and Order" TV drama episode that didn't exist.

That Yates - who suffered from schizophrenia and post-partum depression - may or may not have been partially motivated by a TV episode that showed a mom drowning her child in a bathtub, is just about entirely beside the point. Yates killed her five children and admitted it. The debate, such as it is, has really been about a provision of Texas law which allows the mentally ill to still be given hefty sentences if they know the difference between right and wrong.

I know that to bleeding heart liberals and social workers, the concepts of "right" and "wrong" are fraught with epistemological peril, but really: tough macadamias. Ms. Yates, what you did was wholly monstrous. And a society unwilling to punish you, or at least - as now - willing to waste more taxpayer dollars for a new trial based on an ultimately meaningless technicality, is not a prudent or moral society.

The debate over Texas law really gets me here. Imagine your own children the victim(s) of a killer. And then imagine the court or jury decides: "oh, doesn't really count, the perp is sick, see. But here's a treatment program for him, and a grief counsellor for you."

Every now and then, something just, and right, happens in an appeals court. But the new trial for Yates will produce no such revelations.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:25 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


January 05, 2005

Pomegranate Juice Pronunciamento

My pal Jeff Brazill is wondering if he should change the name of his blog to "Conservative With A Ponytail," as that aptly describes him. Looks like that's not gonna happen. But it has got me to thinking. Can I call myself a "Kefir-Quaffing Conservative" instead of "Crunchy Conservative"?

It'd sure give me an excuse to tell you about what may be the healthiest drink in the world, a deceptively simple, stir-it-up "smoothie" (no blender required) made of a fermented milk drink called kefir, and pomegranate juice.

Let me give credit (sort of) to Dr. Nicholas Perricone, whose new book, "The Perricone Promise," I was browsing through recently in a Chicago bookstore. He alerted me to this elixer for long life (a fair label assuming you also have no unhealthy habits or life-threatening genetic defects; plus you DO have several healthy habits apart from diet, such as exercise and oh, say, a good approach to stress management).

The kefir-pomegranate juice blend tastes great (albeit a bit tart) and here's the kicker: kefir's a real kick in the pants, health-wise. More here on kefir from Wikipedia. You may not find kefir in your national or local grocery chain store, but any halfway decent health food grocery that carries dairy products oughtta have it. There are flavored varieties, but for this, stick with the plain.

Because what you mix into it - pomegranate juice - is thought to be one super antioxidant. Meaning it helps your body guard against free radicals, the nasty molecules that contribute to accelerated aging, cancer, Alzheimers, cancer and heart disease.

And so I have begun the new year with a new routine of a kefir-pomegranate smoothie every morning. The only catch is that pomegranate juice can be a bit pricey. If you've ever eaten a pomegranate you may recall all the work required to get the seeds out, and you can probably imagine how labor-intensive it would be for a machine to get juice off the thin blanket of flesh surrounding each seed.

Now, it just so happens there's a tasty new pomegranate juice product line out, enjoying a marketing push, called Pom Wonderful. Perricone mentions it by name in his new book, saying it's the brand he uses to mix with his kefir each morning. Dunno if he's got some arrangement with these guys or not. Anyway, you may have seen the POM billboards, and the unique, double bulb-shaped 16-ounce plastic bottles in the cooler section of your grocery. As a stand-alone, snacky, thirst-quenching indulgence, I would buy this stuff instead of an Odwalla juice 3 or 4 times out of 5, now that I've tried it. It's frickin' delicious: light, tart and untainted with crud like corn sweeteners.

But. Two things. First, recently at least, the only bottles available in two local stores in West Seattle (one a major local mainstream grocery chain, and the other a major local health food grocery chain) were Pom varieties blended with other fruit juices. They make a pomegranate-only version, but I haven't been able to find it yet. No surprise there, as their own web site shows four of the five varieties are blends. Based on their pomegranate-cherry, I'm sure they all taste great. But using blends, you get less of the super-healthy pomegranate juice than when you buy it pure, whether from Pom or another maker.

And the blend I tried was, in fact, more blended than the front label led one to believe. The (very empty) Pom pomegranate-cherry bottle I've got right here reveals only in small print at the bottom front and rear that it's actually a THREE juice blend: pomegranate, cherry and pineapple.

Plus, at $3 to $4 for 16 oz., Pom's just not gonna work for me on a large-consumption scale. If their prices are better for their 24 oz. bottles, I'm interested, but the stores I shop only have the 16 oz., and only the blends.

As far as I'm concerned, Pom's falling short on distribution and pricing so far. But it took me a little more field research to come to that conclusion. First, I went to my local health food grocery - where I get my kefir - and blithely plucked a 32 oz. bottle of some organic pomegranate juice off the shelf, only to discover later I'd paid $7.29 for it. Ouch. Not very good price-wise either.

Then I called Trader Joe's, which has 32 oz. bottles for $3.99. You can guess where I'm headed next. If there are any commercial sweeteners or other fillers in it, I'll pass, and let you know - but I believe they said not, on the phone.

The quest for affordable pomegranate juice continues. If anyone in Puget Sound wants to start a pomegranate juice bulk-purchasing collective, or if one already exists, let me know. We need some greater economies of scale here.

And FYI, there's another miracle juice coming, this one from berries grown deep in The Amazon forest.

UPDATE, 1/06/05: Yes, the Trader Joe's "Just Pomegranate" ($3.99 for 32 oz.) is all that, no filler at all. And a nutritionist/buyer at a big-time, upscale Seattle grocery, whom I spoke to on the phone today, says TJ's is what she always gets, because a) it's the real deal, and b) no other brand can even come close to competing on price, due to TJ's buying power.

She recommends blending pomegranate juice with blueberry and cherry (100 % only) to stretch it......as even at TJ's price of $3.99, it's still not cheap. Point taken. I bought 8 bottles of "Just Pomegranate" plus some of TJ's "Just Cherry" and pure blueberry juices, which are also quite high in antioxidants. The "Pom" brand has the same idea with their blends, but the prices of the indv. components are better at TJs, and there's no pineapple juice in the mix - as with the Pom "pomegranate-cherry" juice - to drag down the antioxidant count.

The nutritionist also says Perricone's new book is flying off the shelves, and her customers are abuzz about pomegranate juice, AND Acai - pronounced a-cee-aye - berry juice, as well. That's the other "miracle" juice to which I referred above, made from the Amazon palm tree-derived berry which Perricone also recommends.

It doesn't hurt that Oprah has been promoting all this and has had Perricone on her show. And, it turns out some other brands of Acai berry juice, such as Zola Acai, are already available in stores now.

Finally, be aware that readers have varying views of Perricone's latest book, and some of the everyday reviewers at my amazon.com link for "The Perricone Promise" (in 3rd graf of this post) say that they have no interest at all in some of the expensive supplements he's trying to sell. But others feel he has a lot of other good advice, nonetheless. You'll want to scroll down quite far in the above-mentioned link to get to the reader comments, but they're there in abundance, and worth a scan if you're thinking of buying the book.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:16 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack



God Killed Theo van Gogh

"Tolerance" for the angry, violent and unassimilated sub-sector of Moroccans in The Netherlands has plummeted, both before, and now especially after the assassination of Dutch filmmaker and political provacateur Theo van Gogh. He had been at risk because of his outspoken criticism of anti-social Muslims, particularly through an 11-minute film of his about abuse of Muslim women in The Netherlands. It was titled "Submission, and a collaborator on the project was Somali-born Dutch parliament member Ayaan Hirsi Ali, herself a female genital mutilation victim, and outspoken critic of modern Muslim extremists.

In the wake of van Gogh's murder by a young Muslim man apparently gone mad (Mohammed Bouyeri), the whole ethic of "diversity" in Holland is being radically recalculated, even by liberals. This fine piece of on-site reportage by Dutch-born author and journalist Ian Buruma in The New Yorker drills down deep. Read the whole thing, but here's a taste, from the conclusion.

...Although Theo van Gogh was Dutch and was killed by a Dutch citizen, in the end this is not just a Dutch story but a Middle Eastern one imported to the heart of Europe. Mohammed Bouyeri and hundreds like him, have plugged into a wider world of violent Web-based rhetoric and terrorist cells. The integration of Muslims in the Netherlands has not been a greater failure than anywhere else. But the country may have been less prepared for the holy war.

...especially since the nineteen-sixties, the Dutch prided themselves on having built an oasis of tolerance, a kind of Berkeley writ large, where people were free to do their own thing. Liberated, at last, from the strictures of religion and social conformity, the Dutch, especially in Amsterdam, frolicked in the expectation that the wider world would not disturb their perfect democracy in the polders. Now the turbulent world has come to Holland at last, crashing into an idyll that astonished the citizens of less favored nations. It’s a shame that this had to happen, but na´vetÚ is the wrong state of mind for defending one of the oldest and most liberal democracies against those who wish to destroy it.

It was raining when I said goodbye to Paul Scheerder (ed.- Scheerder is a convert to Islam and ex-journalist who's married to a Moroccan and runs a home for abused women and children in a heavily Moroccan neighborhood of Amsterdam). The streets of Amsterdam-North, though bleak, looked peaceful enough. I said as much to Scheerder, who smiled thinly. “There is a lot of grief behind closed doors in this neighborhood,” he said. Then he mentioned a news segment about Theo van Gogh on Moroccan TV, and an interview it had featured with a Moroccan immigrant in Amsterdam. I asked Scheerder what the man had said. He thought for a moment and spoke softly: “He said that his death was just, and that he was punished by God.”

Hirsi Ali had been marked for death as an apostate even before van Gogh was slain. According to this report today in the Borneo Bulletin, she actually left The Netherlands in November, and will return for the reconvening of parliament on Jan. 18. Let us pray for her safety, while remembering that her crime is exercising the right of free speech, which to Muslim extremists is blasphemy. (Anything wrong with this picture?)

Like the Madrid train bombing, the van Gogh murder reminds Europe that it too has a stake in fighting Muslim extermism. So notes the Boston Globe, fleetingly, in this piece today on declining international troop support for the U.S.-British-Iraqi campaign against Islamic terrorists in Iraq.

While remaining opposed to the Iraq intervention, France and Germany, The Globe reminds us, ARE providing support for the NATO stabilization effort in Afghanistan.

''This isn't a trade-off; it's a transition to a whole different issue," said a veteran US congressional aide. ''The Europeans have woken up to the terrorism challenges we face."

Make that, "are slowly waking up."

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack



Parent of the Year

THIS is twisted. A north suburban Seattle mom was sentenced for plying with alcohol and porno films her son (13), her daughter (15), and a female friend (17); then filming them having sex. The mom is 34. Yeesh. I wonder what HER childhood was like.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:29 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


January 04, 2005

Wringing The "Soaked Seattle" Meme Dry

In Seattle, it rains all the time. Move here, and thanks to the constant grey and drizzly weather, you will become morose, withdrawn, overweight, undersexed and suicidal.

At least that's what we'd like you to believe - so as to stem the flow of new arrivals in Puget Sound and keep this increasingly imperfect piece of paradise to ourselves. The MSM often echoes the "Soaked Seattle" meme quite reliably.

But the facts are somewhat different.

Seattle has less annual rainfall than many U.S. cities, as this chart shows (scroll down to the third section). Many places in the southern and Mid-Atlantic regions get more rain, plus some in the Northeast. Even Tulsa is wetter than Seattle.

The chart also shows that Seattle has more days with rain than any other U.S. city but one. Once again going against the exclusionary interests of fellow Puget Sounders, I must point out: So What! While some rainy Seattle days stay that way, many do not. Smart locals capitalize on "sunbreaks," hitting parks and beaches for brisk strolls, while newbies from Philadelphia and L.A. cower at the window wondering if they dare head outside.

Moreover, Seattle winters, while somewhat moist, are rarely cold, and have a healthy share of 40-degree-plus days, some drenched with sun and clear skies. Right now, it's frigid (20s and 30s) with completely clear and sunny skies, and gorgeous snow-capped mountains visible 70 miles away. Today's Seattle Times features a story about the cold snap, and the likelihood of snow, which is about as frequent here as antlers on a crested grebe.

I suppose if Seattle does have one heinous weather-related flaw, it's the way some locals react to snow on those rare occasions when it falls around the city and suburbs. Always a huge event, prompting breathless reportage, and the closing of schools and workplaces. This is because there are a lot of hills, making driving somewhat treacherous. And snow, like noisy people from "Back East," disturbs the drowsy equilibrium of this distant backwater, where grey is a civic and societal behavioral model, as well as the color of the sky.

Seattle snow hysteria always cracks me up. I grew up in Chicago, and still fondly recall building real igloos with my little pals in the alley between Cornell Ave. and Hyde Park Blvd. during the famous blizzard of '67. Another cherished memory was Chicago's crippling snowstorm in '79, when all public transit was stymied, and I turned my taxicab into a jitney of sorts, making the 151 Sheridan Road to downtown bus run over and over with five or six passengers at a time. (I even had a makeshift "151/Sheridan" sign in my side window). Boy, was I raking it in!

The plus side of Seattle's frequent drizzle:

a) plants and flowers of all kinds grow, and grow, and grow;

b) one learns not to depend on external factors for fulfillment or happiness - in turn engendering a healthy imperviousness to the ephemera of life, man's condition, and modernity itself;

c) the moisture is good for your skin;

d) rain fosters reading, and eating in;

e) rain boosts coffeehouse culture, and Wi-Fi therein;

f) you get to smirk at gringo touristas who strut around Seattle wearing $800 Burberry raincoats and carrying umbrellas, unaware that the native attire is fleece outerwear and - when the drizzle stiffens - The Seattle Weakly carried over one's head.

However, if you are considering moving here from drier climes I must warn you to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Despite being Jewish, I am a hopeless optimist. None of these ameliorative circumstances I have just described are likely to cheer you. In all likelihood, you will be utterly miserable.

Don't chance it.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 10:05 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack


January 03, 2005

Blogging Cops...& More Tuesday Links

Cerberus, a blogging cop from the U.S., and a fine writer to boot, has discovered a couple of British cop bloggers. Follow his links, and check out some of his other entries, too.

At his site Sunbreak City, Seattle blogger/writer/guitarist Doug Anderson admires the contemplative reverence of Muslim pilgrims, and concludes there is no place in Allah's Kingdom for Islamo-terorrists. Someone better tell them.

Australian blogger Arthur Chrenkoff has this outstanding, link-rich round-up in Opinion Journal of good news from the "other" Iraq, one rarely portrayed by the MSM.

In The Daily Star (Lebanon), David Ignatius lauds U.S. Middle East Central Command leader Gen. John Abazaid for his clear articulation of why the "long war" matters.

Patrick Ruffini, who was central to Bush's blog efforts in campaign '04, has had a blog of his own for a while now, and he says regional political blogs such as Sound Politics are at the leading edge of the blogosphere. (SP link here).

Montana's new governor, Brian Schweitzer, is the first Democrat elected to that office since Ted Schwinden won a second term in 1984. I suppose Blue State Democrats would assert it's no coincidence the Germanic (and thus faintly White Supremacist-sounding) "Schw" prefix is common to the two Dems most recently elected Governor in this rather Red state. I suppose it didn't hurt that Schweitzer ran with a Republican on the ticket (for Lt. Gov.). In addition to receiving the requisite salute from bagpipers, they both joined a Native American drumming circle at the inauguration.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 03:44 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack



Puppets of The Left

It's good to know The Left has its priorities straight. Here's an article from today's WaPo on protests planned for Bush's second-term inauguration.

The Jan. 20th inauguration -- shaping up to be one of the most heavily secured and expensive in history -- will be the scene of small and large demonstrations. Organizers from dozens of local and national groups are planning marches, rallies and acts of civil disobedience on Inauguration Day and the days before and after.

.....The battle between protesters and authorities has already begun. One group, International ANSWER, is preparing to sue the National Park Service over access to the Pennsylvania Avenue NW inaugural route. Demonstrators also are complaining about Secret Service restrictions on parade-route signs and displays, including a ban on puppets, papier-mache objects, coffins and signs more than three feet wide, 20 feet long and a quarter-inch thick.

....the antiwar cause is one banner among many. Bush has been a popular target for left-leaning activists since he took office. Their anger has not subsided over the years, and the administration's policies at home and abroad have galvanized activists in antiwar, anti-globalization, pro-environment, pro-labor, abortion rights and AIDS movements.

Some protesters said they are coming to Washington to oppose what they consider U.S. efforts to overthrow democratically elected leaders in Haiti, Venezuela and elsewhere. Some are coming because of the administration's support of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Others say their main reason for attending is opposition to the USA Patriot Act or alleged Election Day fraud.

....Other organizers are hoping a simple, silent gesture gets their message across. At least 10,000 protesters are expected to stand along the parade route and turn their backs as Bush goes by, said Jet Heiko, 31, national organizer for the Turn Your Back on Bush event. "It's something that's universally understood as being a symbolic statement of defiance," Heiko said.

And symbolism is what this is all about, isn't it?

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 09:40 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack



Sayonara, Matt Gonzalez....& More Monday Links

The Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club wants U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) to mount a challenge to W's victory. Hmmmmm....Wellstone. Wasn't he killed by the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy?

San Francisco Board of Supervisors President and unsuccessful Green Party SF mayoral candidate Matt Gonzalez is leaving office tomorrow. Beyond mounting a strong challenge which pushed moderate Dem winner Gavin Newsom to the left (most notably on gay marriage), Gonzalez leaves quite a legacy. It includes an effective ban on elephants at the city zoo; curbs on chain stores in SF; boosting the mimimum wage locally; and turning loose in his government office a graffiti "artist" who tagged the walls with the words, "Smash The State." True to that sentiment, Gonzalez also tried but failed to gain approval for granting voting rights to non-citizens in local school elections.

An envisioned entertainment scheme involving sex-positive store-window pole-dancing gals in skimpy Santa skirts recently set off a furor in Santa Cruz, where all manner of folks have entirely too much time on their hands. The San Jose Merc-News with the latest, (free reg. req.). Please bring peace to the neighborhood.

A SF Chron op-ed suggests school children may continue to be targets of terrorists, as in Beslan. One more reason to hunt down, lock up, and otherwise peremptorily confiscate until further notice the civil rights of suspected Islamicist vermin.

The Boston Globe reports that some Massachusetts towns are having trouble reaching 30-year-old court-ordered racial "parity" goals requiring minority population levels be reflected in the staffs of local police and fire departments. Social engineering's ugly face is again revealed.

By one estimate (albeit based on a poll by Dr. Phil) a third of parents wouldn't be...if they could start afresh. Ever imagine a childless life? Say, while looking longingly at a store window fill of dog tutus - such as that I espied this Friday past at a canine style casa amidst the botox parlors and soap emporiums of (800 to 1000 W.) Armitage Avenue in Chicago?

If you have chosen children over dogs or cats, fear not. Hispanic maids are there to lend a hand, and teach your kids the right values, writes Ruben Navarette, in his commentary on the movie, "Spanglish."

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 08:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


January 01, 2005

Alleged Perv's Victims Sue Elmhurst College

Could this ugly tale still somehow deserve "frivolous lawsuit" status? Here's the link (above) in The Chicago Tribune (free reg. req.); and the answer, I believe, may be at least half a "Yes."

In DuPage County, west of Chicago, two Elmhurst College students are suing the school and one Michael J. Suits, after the school - with no on-campus housing available for the two - referred them to an apartment complex where Suits, an already convicted and released sex offender, lived. He gave the young women a clock radio as a welcome gift. They placed it in their (shared) bedroom, according to the Trib story, but one later discovered it had a hidden camera. If true, WHAT a sick loser Suits is.....huh?

However, according to the Trib's report, Suits had not registered as a sex offender under state law, despite an earlier conviction for aggravated criminal sexual abuse of an individual under age 13.

So, then......just whose fault was his failure to register and thus provide public notitification of his status? Elmhurst College's? Nope. The housing complex management's? Nuh. The State of Illinois? Um....yeah......getting warm.

Perhaps the lawyer representing the two women figures the college will countersue the state. Who knows? Nonetheless, with Suits not registered as a released sex offender - it's difficult to know how the school could arguably be held responsible for what reportedly happened.

A liitle bit of common sense goes a long way, as well. In an age when Seattle City Council members must ignominiously ride to the rescue of "upskirt photography" victims, women should also beware of total strangers bearing consumer electronics devices as gifts.

The larger issue is the ongoing attempt to "mainstream" repeat sex offenders. Can these guys - and they are almost always guys - ever really be "cured?" I must be a heartless law-and-order Republican, because when it comes to sex offenses, my instinct is something along the lines of "Two Strikes and You're Out," i.e. life, no parole. Naturally, Washington state courts champion the rights of repeat sex offenders rather than those of their victims, mandating rehabilitative "solutions" that verge on faux-utopian insanity.

Of course, were common sense and a tougher brand of justice to prevail, a lot of social workers and therapists might be out of work.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 02:38 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack



Shame On Fremont For Its Tribute To Lenin

(Seattle Times) Editorials & Opinion: Wednesday, July 04, 2001

"Shame on Fremont for its tribute to Lenin"

By Matt Rosenberg
Special to The Times

Imagine a statue in Westlake Plaza of Hitler, who stoked ethnic and class hatred to inspire extermination of six million Jews. Unthinkable. Yet, under the insidious, value-neutral rubric of "provocative art," Seattle proudly displays a larger-than-life sculpture of a man equally abhorrent.

His focus on strict adherence to the bloody principles of revolutionary class war led to a vastly greater death toll than that of Hitler. There's much to the ugly truth about Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, whose likeness shamefully stands in a public square in Fremont.

Respected historians agree Lenin laid the ideological groundwork for 50 million to 100 million murders in the name of 20th-century Communism. Still, some local media observers have suggested our Lenin is cloaked in "ambiguity" and the statue deserves a pass because he inspired solidarity among our Wobblies in their heyday, or because a democracy-promoting fragment of the Berlin Wall has been considered for installation nearby.

Such blithe rationalizations and the labored explanatory text adjoining the statue itself betray worries we're condoning something awful. We are. It's finally time for Seattle's limousine liberals and bicycle-riding bohemian bourgeoisie to face Lenin's real meaning. There just aren't two sides to it.

In "Fifty Million People Dead: The Grand Failure - The Birth and Death of Communism in the 20th Century," former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski details "the catastrophic legacy of Lenin" in Russia, Eastern Europe and Asia. He writes that Lenin exemplified the "concentration of power in just a few hands and reliance on terror."

Estimates from leading Soviet and European scholars in the "Black Book of Communism" are of some 85 to 100 million dead at the hands of 20th-century Communists. Here again, Lenin is strongly implicated as the founding father of Communist mass murder.

Reviewing this years-in-the-making 800-page work, the noted biographer of Soviet dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Michael Scammell, wrote in The New Republic about the book's "suffocating torrent of fresh evidence from newly opened Soviet archives" of murderous excesses under Lenin. These included mass exterminations by the "Cheka" secret police Lenin founded (renamed the MVD and later the KGB), and torture.

One internal report from Lenin's time noted, "orgies and drunkenness are daily occurrences. Almost all the personnel of the Cheka are heavy cocaine users. They say this helps them deal with the sight of so much blood on a daily basis."

Scammell observes, "the 'Black Book of Communism' lays to rest once and for all the myth of the 'good' Lenin versus the 'bad' Stalin. . . . Lenin blazed a path of tyranny and bloodshed not only for Stalin, but also for Mao, Ho Chi-Minh, Pol Pot, and a century's worth of psychopaths at every level of the Communist chain of command, from dictators to bureaucrats."

Then read "Black Night, White Snow," by the late Harrison Salisbury, the New York Times' Pulitzer Prize-winning Russian correspondent. Guiding Lenin were these, his own words: "We must stick the 'convict's badge' on anyone and everyone who tries to undermine Marxism, even if we don't go on to examine his case. When you see a stinking heap on the road you don't have to poke around in it to see what it is."

The recent biography, "Lenin," by British scholar Robert Service of St. Anthony's College in Oxford, confirms his place in history as "a rebel whose devotion to destruction proved greater than his love for the 'proletariat' he supposedly served."

Lenin's disturbing legacy persists. A State Department report estimates some 100 killings last year of members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement, considered a threat by Chinese communist leaders. Aware of Falun Gong's plight early on, Seattle Mayor Paul Schell in late 1999 issued a proclamation saluting the group, but quickly rescinded it after protests.

Local media references amusedly note Lenin stands amidst Fremont's groovy capitalism, guarding a burrito stand, no less. Detached modern irony abnegates the taxing responsibility to thoughtfully employ free expression (a basic human right Lenin killed people to deny).

Our breezy attitude puts us in distinguished company. A fancy Las Vegas eatery, Red Square, also installed a statue of Lenin for arty, edgy atmosphere. Appropriately enough, someone excised his head.

But it was recovered and then frozen in a block of ice used in the restaurant's sub-zero designer vodka "locker." Customers would don a Russian fur coat and hat, march in and snort a few premium Stolys chilled on Lenin's frozen cranium. Then back to their tables for caviar, blinis and the house specialty, "Siberian Nachos."

What good, campy fun! Forward, comrades, to the baccarat tables!

Seattle's Lenin statue isn't illegal. But it is unconscionable. A man from Issaquah brought it from a Poprad, Slovakia, junk heap after the Iron Curtain fell. That's where it belongs.

Matt Rosenberg is a Seattle writer and regular contributor to the opinion page of The Times.

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