12/13/07

Another surge is working

It shouldn't be news, but in D.C. it is--nobody got killed last weekend.

The headline on the Washington Post article: "D.C. Has Weekend Free of Shootings: Violent Crime Falls As 3,500 Officers Deploy During Blitz"

CJL

Shutting Down Unneeded D.C. Public Schools

D.C. Mayor Fenty and Schools Chancellor Rhee have put forth a plan to shut down 23 public schools. As is the usual case, families and activists are fighting back.

It doesn't matter how few kids are in a particular school, there are some who never want to see a public school closed. The student population of DC public schools has fallen from about 150,000 in 1969 to less than 50,000 now. Yet, every attempt to shut down public schools has met resistance. If some parents had their way, there would be a similar number of schools open today.

Just a few years ago, former city council member Fenty was leading the charge to spend billions renovating schools. Now as mayor Fenty, he is leading the charge to shut down schools.

In a briefing paper I wrote for the Cato Institute a few years ago, I suggested that Mayor Williams should appoint an independent commission to recommend which public schools should be shut down. That's because I didn't think a D.C. mayor would ever have the political will to shut down surplus schools--but Mayor Fenty and Schools Chancellor Rhee have made it clear that they are willing, ready, and wanting to do so.

* * *

From a Briefing Paper I wrote for the Cato Institute in 2003: "School Choice in the District of Columbia: Saving Taxpayers Money, Increasing Opportunities for Children," Cato Briefing Paper No. 86, September 19, 2003.

According to C. Vanessa Spinner, acting director of the D.C. State Education Agency, the District’s public school system is barely operating at half capacity. The system can accommodate 120,000 students. There are about 66,000 students currently in the system.21

Numerous underutilized facilities are being kept open, even when they are not economically feasible. Superintendent Paul L. Vance said at a December 2002 news conference that the public school system had 14,000 open work orders and needed money to pay for repairs.22 The D.C. public school system needs to consider closing its most decrepit schools rather than continuing to spend money on repairs to schools operating under capacity.

With almost 150 public schools in a system that has been losing students, the D.C. public school system could merge several schools to save taxpayer money. In October 2002 Mayor Anthony A. Williams suggested establishing a commission to determine whether some schools and other city buildings should be closed because of underuse.23 Sixty school buildings have been declared surplus within the last few years, yet the District is building more schools.24 Instead of closing or merging schools operating at half capacity and cutting back on operating costs, city leaders have sought to renovate every school, at a total cost of $2 billion over the next 10 to 15 years.25 The city and the school system should close schools with the fewest students and most in need of renovation.

Charter schools in the District, which must currently acquire their own facilities, could use buildings currently underutilized by the public school system. Other facilities could be given to or auctioned off to private entrepreneurs who agreed to operate them as schools. Because of the political sensitivities that come with closing schools, army bases, or fire stations, an independent group should determine which schools should be closed.

FOOTNOTES
21. Connie Spinner appeared as a guest on WOL 1450-AM, discussing the impact of vouchers in
the District of Columbia, June 11, 2003.
22. Yolanda Woodlee and Justin Blum, “NE School’s Woes Leave Staff, Pupils Cold; Balky Boiler, Broken Windows Make for Chilly Conditions at Taft Junior High,” Washington Post, December 3, 2002, p. B3.
23. “D.C. Schools Get a Lesson in Economics; Cost of Renovations Is Far above Projections,” Washington Post, October 2, 2002, B1.
24. “Mayor Illegally Blocks Schoolhouse Door,” Washington Times, September 18, 2002, p. A16.
25. Justin Blum, “Despite Sinking Enrollment, Proposal Calls for Rebuilding,” Washington Post, December 7, 2000, p. B2.

CJL

12/2/07

Iowa Heartland Presidential Forum....live blogging

This is now the third time I'm live blogging a presidential forum. This one has been the toughest. The previous two times I blogged at the invitation of the Media Bloggers Association. Bloggers were in one room watching the action. The focus was on the candidates. This time, it is at the invitation of TV One. The focus is as much on the questioners as it is on the candidates.

What makes this one more challenging is that the "real people" at the microphone tell their "real stories" to the candidates. Such stories apparently aren't meant to be questioned or challenged. One of the points Stephen Carter has made (in his book Reflections of an Affirmative Action Baby) is that when he was a young radical, he and his fellow activists believed that their stories were not to be debated. That explains much of the mindset of community activists today. They will bring out people to tell their personal stories as victims--based on their race, income level, family status, etc. The stories are presented as "truth" that is not to be questioned. If you question it, then it means that you are against that person and the particular issue they are discussing.

When you aren't allowed to think about stories you are told, then why bother to think? Even as the mean guy I am, I have over the years even struggled with this. In most cases, I find myself tuning out when people give personal anecdotes that are not meant to be examined. If it isn't meant to be examined, then I won't do so. But I won't also take the anecdote as fact worth repeating.

Once the tears start, which presidential candidate is going to give a "real" response, giving the type of advice that got the candidate to where he or she is today, and the type of guidance they have given to their own loved ones? You could hear each candidate being very careful not to offend the speakers discussing their personal woes. When you are brought a lineup of victims--who are then asking you to do something about it in the future, and to make specific promises about it now--then it is tough for candidates to do anything other than to agree with the speakers. Admittedly, I didn't listen to every syllable uttered, but did any of the candidates disagree with anything they had heard? If so, it would have been to show just how much more radical they were in demanding that something be done to aid the victim.

The candidates answer in pandering platitudes, making you wish they would get specific. But when they get specific, they make you wish they would stick to the platitudes.

The good thing about this forum is that the candidates were able to speak for extended periods of time, without immediate rebuttals from other candidates. I'm not saying debates are useless, but it is good to give candidates adequate time to make their case or to hang themselves.

The even better thing about this forum is that the candidates demonstrated just how dangerous they would be as president. Instead of being a presidential forum it did seem more like a town hall meeting hosted by candidates running for mayor.

Surely, it was well done! I've never met Cathy Hughes, I don't really recall ever seeing her in action. She was dignified, humorous, engaging--and clearly in control! Unlike many moderators who seem to be concerned about interrupting speakers, I had the sense that the candidates for the presidency of the United States would have stopped speaking in mid-sentence if she raised her index finger.

* * *

John Edwards
is the first candidate speaking. His BIG point is that BIG corporations must be deputized as agents of the government, if not completely shut down. So many Americans speak out against corporations and the control they have over Americans, but there isn't a single corporation that can put anyone in jail. People fear corporations and businesses that offer goods and services, yet look for salvation from the government that can imprison them.

It is hilarious to hear Edwards denouncing big companies foreclosing on poor people.

I guess he would know. According to CNN earlier this year: "Democratic presidential contender John Edwards has investing ties to subprime lenders who are foreclosing on victims of Katrina, according to a report published Friday.

The Wall Street Journal said there are 34 homes in New Orleans that face foreclosure from the subprime unit of Fortress Investment Group. Edwards has about $16 million in Fortress (Charts), a hedge fund and private equity manager, the newspaper said."

Edwards complaining about big companies foreclosing on poor people is like a criminal returning to the scene of the crime and denouncing criminality.

There was plenty of other nonsense from Edwards. Raising the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour, as Edwards suggested, would harm the very people he talks about so often. Unfortunately, even in a forum where the candidates can speak for extended periods of time, none of the Democrats are going to discuss the pros and cons.

One of the most popular phrases on talk radio is that people must speak "truth to power." For some reason, it is assumed that powerless people have the "truth." I won't quibble with that, but at what point can people in power answer? Edwards mentioned environmental racism in passing. Of course he implied that it is corporations targeting poor and black people. But companies are probably seeking the same thing poor people want: cheap land.

But few politicians, especially Democrats, are going to speak "truth to the powerless."

The only thing that can make Edwards look good? Dennis Kucinich is the next speaker.

* * *

Dennis Kucinich has made his way to the stage.

I am convinced that Kucinich didn't just see a UFO--he's an alien. While it is unlikely that John Edwards will be elected president of the United States in 2008, I'm willing to bet any and all takers that Kucinich will never be president of the United States. If so, you might as well as take my money while you can, because Kucinich would come and get most of it anyway.

I'm trying to follow Kucinich as he speaks. I agree with Kucinich on so many social issues, but I'm in deep disagreement with him when it comes to economic issues. I have disagreements with Republicans on social issues, but the reality is that while Republicans are trying to stop me from marrying a man or from an abortion, Democrats remind me of that Capital One commercial: What's in your wallet? Not only do they want to know, but they want half. For Democrats and liberals, it is great for me to engage in voluntary activity in my social life, but once I start making economic decisions on my own, they are ready to arrest me.

Kucinich is a funny guy in so many ways. On the one hand, he constantly denigrates just about anything having to do with business, but then discusses full employment. Democrats and liberals often attack "big corporations," but they must know that those "big corporations" are also Big Employers!

In one sentence Kucinich threatened to scrap just about every American trade agreement.

He renewed his call that VP Cheney should be impeached. Until the day Bush and Cheney are leaving office, there will be some Democrats calling for them to be impeached.

The best way to summarize Kucinich's comments is that he wants to pass laws against bad weather and unhappiness.

* * *

Next up: Hillary Clinton, via satellite.

Every candidate is being asked if he or she will make the hard decisions as president to help the country or community. What else could they answer? No, I'm going to be wishy-washy and hope to get re-elected by not upsetting anyone during my term.

Her first real person started to cry.

The focus of the questions for H Clinton is health care. Blah, blah, blah.

But now! Immigration! Finally a question that could have been posed by a Republican...

H Clinton was asked if she favored comprehensive immigration reform. The audience booed her response that the president can only do so much. Politicians who try to bring political reality to such discussions may as well as read from the Congressional Record.

This is one of the issues I wish the Democrats were stronger on. As I've previously mentioned, I'm in favor of making it easier for people to legally come to America.

Surely it is another blow to the H Clinton campaign to have community activists boo her at a forum--and that she was the only candidate to get booed. Not even the hostage taking at her campaign office was enough to shield her from the boos.

* * *

Christopher Dodd is now up. Of course the first story teller started to cry. It seems that one thing we have learned about real Americans in the heartland is that they cry when telling their personal stories. Audience members were told to hold their applause and cheering, but they haven't done so. It seems like an Oprah Winfrey show is being held at a pep rally.

Okay...another real person is about to start crying. I'm not one of those folks who says no one should ever cry, and I don't mean to demean anyone, but seriously, we've got a problem if we've got so many Americans who are so wrapped up into government policy and candidates.

I don't mean to ignore Dodd, but Barack Obama is next...

* * *

Barack Obama

The first real person talking to Obama discussed how her daughter benefited from SCHIP. She was about to start breaking down.

The forum lasted much longer than I expected so I only heard part of what Obama had to say. I will listen later and may add more comments.

* * *

CJL

12/1/07

Blacker Than Thou--or American Like You

Fellow TV One blogger La Shawn Barber cites a new book by Shelby Steele about Barack Obama. She mentions that she read in a book review that Obama, who grew up somewhat privileged, must exaggerate black America's oppression so he can appeal to black voters.

Obama definitely has been walking a fine line--appealing to Americans in general, but also trying to keep it real with black Americans. And keeping it real with black Americans has meant trying to keep the black talk show hosts, activists, academics, and preachers from attacking him. The best way to do this is to become "blacker-than-thou." That is, he'll become more radical than any other black person in the room so that there will be no question about his race loyalty and identity.

Politicians are infamous for appealing to the audience they are with at that particular moment. But in Iowa those two worlds are about to come together in one forum--in the heartland of Iowa, which is 95 percent white, at a forum hosted by TV One, a black-focused network.

I'm sure some will say that you can be both Blacker-Than-Thou and an American. Anyway, let's see if Obama will do both in Iowa.

CJL

Illegal Immigration at Heartland Presidential Forum

Faye Anderson, another TV One blogger for coverage of the network's coverage of the Democrat Presidential Debate, writes that illegal immigration is sure to be one of the issues to come up during tomorrow's talk-fest.

Admittedly, I don't pay much attention to debates or politicians unless I'm covering them for an event. Meaning, this is now the third time this year that I've paid attention to the debates.

As people often point out to me, I'm almost always in the minority when the issue is illegal immigration.

1) I oppose punishing private employers for hiring illegals.
2) I support taking laws against such hiring practices off the books.
3) I don't oppose laws preventing the various levels of governments from hiring illegals.
4) If the various levels of government are serious about punishing illegals, then they should prevent them from receiving government services or benefits.
5) It isn't the government's job to protect you against competition for jobs, products, spouses, etc.
6) There is no right to have a community of a certain demographic makeup. If you want your neighborhood or community to stay predominately black or predominately white, then buy up the property around you. Perhaps you need racial covenants on the houses near your home?
7) Of course, there need to be safety and health checks. To steal a line I heard from a friend: You're welcome, but don't forget to sign the guest book.

We can't count on closing the border as a way to keep competition out. There was a time that people said, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." But now, we must consider, "Rome has come to you." Wherever you are, people are trying to sell stuff to you, buy stuff from you if you have something worth selling, trying to hire you if you have skills they want, or competing with you.

If you're going to run a race, you can't train based on potential competitors being kept away from the starting or finishing line. We can't be sure what wave of people or technology is coming along, and should stop acting as if we have people in government smart enough to figure out which people should be let into the country.

CJL

TV One's Presidential Forum


I am now officially one of the bloggers covering TV One's Heartland Presidential Forum: Community Values in Action. The event will be moderated by TV One and Radio One Chairwoman Cathy Hughes. You can watch the live Webcast at TV One's Website starting Saturday, Dec 1., at 3 p.m. ET.
The other superstar bloggers are Faye Anderson, Michael Fauntroy, La Shawn Barber and Megan Cosby.
CJL

Cell phones don't kill people. People do.

The shocking story out of South Korea that an exploding cell phone had killed a man has turned out to be fake. Instead, it turns out that the man was killed by a co-worker.

Here's the Reuters report, less than 1 mb at Rapidshare.com.

The killer must have read a BBC report about a cell phone killing a Chinese welder.

What I love is the expert analysis provided by the Dr. Kim Hoon. According to various media outlets:

Kim Hoon, a doctor who examined the body, said the death was probably caused by an explosion of the battery.

"He sustained an injury that is similar to a burn in the left chest and his ribs and spine were broken," Yonhap news agency quoted Kim as saying.

I'd say that Dr. Kim should never again be allowed to provide expert testimony.

I suspect that Dr. Kim is one of the Korean doctors who says that "fan death" is real and that South Koreans die from playing video games.

Of course, those who enjoy urban legends may not be convinced by the co-workers confession and anyone looking to "connect the dots" might point out that I'm a former LG employee.

CJL

11/30/07

Black Murder Victims: A National Tragedy

Driving home last night I listened to much of Chris Plante's radio show on WMAL 630 AM about Sean Taylor and the black murder victim crisis. It was a great and engaging show, the type that I hope I occasionally had when I was a radio host on XM.

From Plante's show, according to the WMAL site: Chris wants to also know why no "so-called" black leaders like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are talking about or taking action in this area. "Why am I talking about this and not Al."


CJL's answer: Sharpton and Jackson DO talk about talk about black-on-black crime, and it hasn't been a recent thing. For example, in 1984, the Associated Press distributed an article titled, "Jackson calls for end to black-on-black crime." According to that 1984 AP dispatch: "I want blacks who kill and maim other blacks ... to go to jail," Jackson told about 250 people at the headquarters of Operation PUSH, the civil rights organization he founded."The blood keeps flowing," Jackson said, alluding to a series of recent gang-related killings and other street crimes, one of which ended in the death of high school basketball star Ben Wilson.

In 1994, Jackson led a major conference of black leaders focused on black-on-black crime. I haven't followed Jackson's actions in detail, but I'm sure he has given other speeches and done things he could point out to show he has acted to reduce black-on-black violence. He has done other things, such as personally led kids to schools to encourage them to stay in school. Again, I'm not presenting this as an exhaustive list.

I don't say this as an advocate of Jackson's. I say it because Jackson's critics who say that black leaders don't talk about black-on-black crime are wrong. Jackson has led demonstrations, delivered speeches, and rhymed many a time in denouncing black-on-black crime. I suspect that it is much deeper than what Jackson's critics suggest, and it is much more terrifying than the idea that Jackson and others ignore black-on-black crime.

In short: Jesse Jackson doesn't know what to do about black-on-black crime. He may talk about afterschool programs, highlighting achievement, fully funding No Child Left Behind, black role models, diversity, multiculturalism, having black history month year around, community policing, affirmative action, health care, workers' rights, ending police brutality, the minimum wage, etc., but when you get right down to it, Jackson, Sharpton, and others really don't know what to do to prevent black-on-black crime.

Many of Jackson's critics seem to believe the hype that if he would just try a little harder and focus on black-on-black crime, he could do something about it. If only that were true...

That isn't meant to be criticism of Jackson, that's just the way it goes. I'm reminded of something that Thomas Sowell wrote in Knowledge and Decisions about expertise, and I'm paraphrasing and putting my own spin on it: 'If you are a farmer, and we say that you can milk a cow, that means that if we send you to a barn with a bucket, you can come back with some milk from a cow. On the other hand, if we say you are an expert on crime, we can't send you out to Detroit, and expect you to come back with less crime in the city.'

There's a difference about expertise in doing something and expertise in talking eloquently about something. This is the right moment for me to point out that Jesse Jackson speaks passionately about lots of issues. Another example of this is Michael Eric Dyson. He apparently responded to criticism from Juan Williams that he was just criticizing Cosby, and decided to lead a march against violence in Philly. Before the weekend was over, four more people were killed in Philly, including a five-year-old black girl sitting in her mother's car. Dyson may have some ideas about black-on-black crime, but he can't come back with less crime in Philly.

Another place that I part company with Jackson's critics is that as much as I may criticize him, I bet that if he knew how to come back with less black-on-black crime, he would do it! As great as MLK was, he didn't do that! Jackson shakes down corporate America, yes, but the money would be flowing to him even faster if he could go city-to-city to reduce crime and make it safe for businesses to do business...

More from WMAL's site: A Few Statistics: The 8,000 number for one year is higher than the amount of casualties in six years of combat between Iraq and Afghanistan.

Based on the normal figures, 66 African-Americans have died since Sean Taylor's death. That is an amount that is more in two days than the total amount of people who died last month in Iraq.

Locally as well, about 9 out of 10 murder victims in DC this year are black.



CJL: I have also focused on this issue. I had come across a statistic showing there were more black men killed by other blacks in a typical year than the total number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq so far. When I had a radio show on XM, my co-host Eliot Morgan and I had a semi-regular feature titled, "The Black Race Can't Afford You No More." We would focus on some black criminals who had harmed other black people. The main point we were trying to make: If you are black, and have engaged in criminal activity, you should know in advance that you can't call on black people unrelated to you to defend you.

On WMAL last night, Chris Plante asked a great question: Why isn't the homicides of so many black people a national crisis? As cited in the statistics above, Plante pointed out that more black people die every year than have died FIGHTING IN A WAR ZONE in Iraq. Yet, we've got the Democrat Party, which gets about 90 percent of the black vote, fiddling around with a bunch of nonsense issues.

Of course, I'm sure there are several reasons that Jesse Jackson and Sharpton prefer to engage in street theater, and some were mentioned on Plante's show. One thing I did not hear mentioned is something discussed in a slightly different context by Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy: Black people are tired of hearing bad news about black people.

In the mid-1980s I came across a column by Milloy (who is left of center). He was discussing the reactions of other blacks to his writings. His time of development was during the civil rights movement when leaders, activists, and reporters would highlight problems among blacks to press for change. When he became a reporter and later a columnist, he followed that strategy.

By the 1980s, however, some of his readers were complaining that he was being too negative. So he shifted gears and started telling positive stories about blacks. Later, Milloy checked in with his readers, and he was surprised that they weren't impressed by the positive stories. The reason? They weren't just looking for good news about black people--they also wanted bad news about white people. They wanted to hear more about white drug dealers, criminals, wife-beaters, etc.

I found this to be true when I was hosting a black-issues radio show. A common complaint from black callers was that bad news about blacks wasn't presented in context, that there wasn't "balance" in coverage.

By focusing too much on black-on-black crime, without context, without wrapping the medicine inside candy, Jackson, Sharpton and other activists would be seen as being no better than conservatives.

CJL

linked by Booker Rising, the Chris Plante Show

11/29/07

NPR Roundtable

Yesterday I was on NPR's Bloggers' Roundtable Discussion segment on the show News and Notes. I just listened to the show again--of course, while it was going on, I felt that I was stumbling over my words, but listening again, it didn't seem that way. Of course, I didn't make all of the points I had in mind.

This is always the challenge with these live shows. As a writer and researcher, I write and revise. But on live radio, that's it! You've got one shot, no time to reflect on things.

The other guests were Debra Dickerson and L.N. Rock of African American Pundit.

The first topic was a new survey by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies about black voters preferring Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama.

It doesn’t really matter who blacks vote for in the primary. Democrats can count on them during the general election. My former radio co-host, Eliot Morgan, makes the point that the black vote is as mysterious and as unpredictable as who is in Grant’s Tomb.

After every election in which 80 to 90 percent of blacks vote the straight Democrat ticket, we hear that next time, the black vote shouldn’t be taken for granted, that blacks need to be active in both parties. But we can see that according to the Joint Center that almost 90 percent of blacks will be voting in the Democrat primaries. I don’t see any reason that blacks, if they vote, won’t go 80 to 90 percent for Democrats again.

I don’t know when is the last time the black vote has been in doubt in the past four decades.

I was going to admit my bias: I seriously doubt that I'll be voting for any of the Democrats running. When I hear them talking, I'm reminded of the Capital One commercial: What's In Your Wallet? Not only do Democrats want to know what's in your wallet, but they want at least half. That's not to say that I'll be voting for any of the Republicans running. As economist Stephen Moore has pointed out: Republicans were put on earth to do one thing: Cut taxes. And they can't even get that right.

* * *

The second topic was about Obama discussing his use of drugs and alcohol as a youngster. The first question was on whether or not Obama's answer was too honest!

Wait...a politician being too honest? As I mentioned on the show, we should not attack that endangered species--politicians being honest--when it shows up unexpected.

While those of us in the chattering class are constantly seeking greater meaning out of the actions of politicians, I suspect Obama had some strategic moves in mind:

1) He is drawing a direct contrast to the first black president's declaration that he did not inhale. As of late, Clinton and Obama have been chippy with each other.

2) Obama is still trying to prove that he is really black, that he's not a Magic Negro, so he may be trying to prove he has some street cred. Of course, that street cred was probably smoking week in an Ivy League dorm room...

I'm one of those folks who still doesn't understand why people have more credibility on an issue because they've experienced it. I'm not saying experience is irrelevant. But I guess if I want to go on a speaking tour discouraging kids from not using drugs that I apparently I need to start using them and get arrested.

* * *

The final topic was Jesse Jackson saying that none of the Democrat candidates have the right social justice message. In April, Jackson endorsed Obama, but he is now calling him out. Jackson now says that Edwards is the only candidate with the right social justice message.

As usual, Jackson is more impressed with words rather than actions--and the actions he wants would devastate black Americans. As much as Jackson talks about the importance of personal responsibility, you can be sure once there is government policy actually putting responsibility on individuals to take care of themselves that Jackson will be out in front in opposition. The example that comes to mind immediately is welfare reform of the mid-1990s. Jackson was being alarmist talking about America turning its back on the poor.

John Edwards opening his campaign in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans looked to me like a criminal returning to the scene of the crime. He talks about addressing poverty, just as a company he is affiliated with is foreclosing on poor people.

CJL

11/2/07

Thank God for the Atom Bomb

Paul Tibbets, the pilot who dropped the first A-bomb on Japan in 1945, just died at the age of 92.

I agree that the dropping of the A-bombs was a proper and effective way to end WWII. The best defense I've read is Paul Fussell's "Thank God for the Atom Bomb."

A couple of random thoughts about Paul Tibbets.

1) His certainty is striking. It is now so hip to be a moderate or wishy-washy. The media in particular seems to enjoy stories about American soldiers torn over the need to obey orders to fight. Tibbets would be loved today if he had expressed anguish over what he had done. In today's climate, he might even be Time Magazine's Man of the Year if he dropped the bomb in an ocean rather than obeying orders to drop it on the enemy--except that the environmentalists might then protest glorifying such an environmental hater..

2) Soldiers who actually do their jobs—that is, eliminate the enemy—seem to play second fiddle to soldiers who get captured and must be rescued by other soldiers. A few years ago I suggested that the monument to the 21st century American soldier should be a statue of a female soldier holding her hands up with a gun pointed at her.


3) Tibbets was right that the A-bombs saved the lives of many people. More than 140,000 Japanese were killed by the two bombs. Two weeks before Tibbets dropped the bomb on Japan, 123,000 Japanese and American soldiers killed each other on Okinawa. Millions of people lived because Tibbets and his crew dropped the bomb on Japan. I guess we can blame Tibbets for the post-WWII baby boom in America and the coming implosion of the Social Security system. Many of those soldiers would have died fighting in Japan.

CJL

“Having found the bomb, we have used it . . . . We have used it to shorten the agony of young Americans."
--Harry S. Truman

10/5/07

My brother's keeper and NPR

As I mentioned, I was on a Blogger's Roundtable Discussion on NPR's News and Notes, hosted by Farai Chideya. Here's the archive and blog of the show with a link to the audio.

Anyway, some random thoughts:

And I'm not responsible for the bad checks Megan Williams wrote, either...

* If I told you that six people had kidnapped and raped a woman for a week, would you need to know the race of the people involved to know just how outraged you should be? It seems that many racial activists and members of the chattering class need such information...

* White people in West Virginia are apologizing for the alleged abduction and rape of a 20-year old black woman by 6 white people. I feel absolutely no responsibility for the actions of criminals and lunatics, regardless of their race. As I said on the show, if I am really my brother's keeper and I am somehow responsible for what he does, then I want him checking in with me every 15 minutes so I'll know what he's doing. After all, I don't want to pick up the newspaper or get a phone call at 3 in the morning to find out he's in jail and wants me to bail him out.

* Let me be clear I: I don't mind that white people want to apologize for crimes they had nothing to do with. I just hope no one tries to hold me to the same standard when it comes to black criminals. Let me cut this off at the pass: No such apology is forthcoming.

* Let me be clear II: I don't mind that you might somehow feel responsible for the actions of lunatics and criminals who look like you.

* Let me be clear III: I have never cared for analyzing the "root causes" of crime. Criminals commit so many crimes for so many different reasons that it is a waste of time. And so many of them lack an explanation for what they did, I don't see how the alleged crime specialists, psychiatrists, and chattering class think they can figure it out. But I'll play along with it...Let's lock up the criminals for an extended amount of time, and let them explain to us why they did what they did once they get out...

* By the way, Chris Rock has the best explanation about why people commit crimes: "Why can't people just be crazy? Why does there need to be an explanation?"

* One thing that I hate about being a commentator is that I'm expected to comment on a bunch of stories that I have only passing information about. That's one reason I respect radio talk show host Ambrose I. Lane Sr. He is a socialist who would put me under house arrest if he had any power, but...during the Duke fake rape case, he didn't utter a word about it and rejected requests that he address it. As he stated, it was ongoing and once the case has been decided, there would be plenty of time to talk about it. But then, if you've ever listened to Lane's show, you know that breaking news to him is that a scholar has uncovered documents related to the 1898 Spanish-American War.

JOHN EDWARDS: The Criminal Returns to the Scene of the Crime

Among many things, the guy opens his campaign by starting his poverty tour in New Orleans, then it is revealed that he has a lot of money invested in a company that is foreclosing on poor people in the area. It seemed that his poverty tour was a case of a criminal returning to the scene of a crime.

He has now made a fool of himself by saying: "We start with the president of the United States saying to America, we cannot build enough prisons to solve this problem. And the idea that we're just going to keep incarcerating, keep incarcerating, pretty soon we're not going to have a young African-American male population in America. They're all going to be in prison or dead, one of the two."

I know the presidential candidates talk so much that they are bound to say silly things, so I guess I should cut him a break. But that is so patronizingly stupid that I won't...

As I concluded on the show: "Just one thing, if there are black men out there listening, please, the quality of your life should not depend on who is president of the United States. It shouldn't depend on which government programs he's able to implement. You're going to have to make your own way in this life."

Given more time, I would have added: And please don't listen to any damn fools--presidential contenders or commentators--who tell you otherwise.

* * *

A-ha! statistics

We were rushing through the final topics...but another thing we discussed is a new study finding that there are more black and Latino men in prison housing than in college housing.

This is a "try-try again" study. I recall a similar one finding that there were more black men in prison than in jail/prison...then someone else actually looked at the numbers and debunked it...

But taking them at their word...

this is the ultimate A-ha! statistic. The statistic is a random connection between things that have nothing to do with one another...unless you think those people in prison were on their way to college, and just got on the wrong bus...

There is no real finding. Nothing that explains how the prisoners and students got to where they are....just....A-ha!

* * *

Morehouse College

The final topic that we addressed briefly was about the new president at Morehouse College expecting the incoming freshmen to dress well. He didn't make it a pop quiz, he even gave them the type of jacket he wants them to wear...

I hope he also said, "And don't forget to study."

CJL

10/4/07

NPR Roundtable

I was on NPR's News and Notes again yesterday. The archive and blog about the show are here.

I'll try to post some random thoughts later on.

CJL

9/28/07

Iraq & Darfur

Senator Brownback just mentioned that we must be realistic about the war in Iraq.

Professor Paul mentioned nothing that would lead to something that Duncan Hunter mentioned about Iraq: Victory!

Democrats have made it clear that they won't pull the troops out of Iraq...they want president Bush to do it so they can blame Republicans for the disaster that would follow...

CJL

DC Voting Rights & National ID cards

Tancredo told it like it is...if DC residents really want to have Congressional representation, then they have their areas become a part of Maryland or Virginia again...

Keyes also pointed that DC was created to be a separate area to represent the entire country...if you don't like it, move!

Immigration is the one issue Republicans lose me on. I'm often mistaken for being an open borders supporter--I guess it depends on one's definition...I support allowing anyone into the country who can pass basic health tests and a criminal background check.

CJL

I ain't never been to jail!!!!

The topic is now the Jena 6. I happened to be in New Orleans the same day that Sharpton and company were there protesting the Jena 6 case. I still haven't quite gotten the details of the case, and based on the informal poll that I took while I was there, black people who are outraged about the case don't know the details either.

I guess Sen. Brownback just identified with the black audience...he announced that he has been to jail.

I agree with the candidates who pointed to the drug war as a major problem for black Americans. Professor Paul said we must repeal the entire drug war! Excellent! Too bad he'll never be president!

CJL

Candidates who won't be president...

I don't even have to look at the polls to know that Ron Paul and Alan Keyes will never be president of the United States.

I'll be softer on Paul because he cited professor Walter E. Williams on the minimum wage law. Still, Paul is an example of an academic pretending to be a politician. He'll always be 2 or 3 points ahead of me in the national polls.

And I was going to point out that Keyes will never be president of the United States, but I enjoy when he is at the microphone! He may be the Republican version of Farrakhan and he probably won't get a vote from anyone in the audience tonight, but he can energize even an audience that thinks he is a damned fool.

CJL

Your legacy

Brownback just mentioned that he would make sure the African American history museum gets built on the mall.

As a reminder: Calvin Coolidge signed legislation creating a black history musem his last day in office. That was March 4, 1929. Malcolm X was almost 4 years old. Martin Luther King, Jr., was two months old. The museum still hasn't been built.

If I were a conspiracy theorist, I would suspect this museum is a rope-a-dope...

If the first person who thought of this idea of a black museum had put $50 in the bank every year after the idea was first proposed in 1915, in 1928 when the legislation passed Congress or in 1929 when Coolidge signed it, the interest in 78 years would have been enough to pay for the museum without a dime of government money.

I'm not opposed to the museum, by the way. But the reality is that the museum would be get built faster if it were a Jazz Museum. There won't be any of the drama about how much to highlight slavery or white guilt; it would highlight a great part of black history; and it would still give off the lovely fuzziness that a museum on African American history supposedly would.

CJL

Talking about talking

If any publicity is good publicity, then the Republicans not here at the Morgan State University debate are getting plenty of good pub...

Four didn't show up, and they are getting talked about!!! They've all but talked about their mommas making the mistake of having children who wouldn't show up to such a debate...

Ron Paul has pledged to attend every debate. He didn't say it that way, but he said he showed up because he was invited. Huckabee apologized and Brownback apologized that the other candidates weren't there...instead of regretting it, I would celebrate that I had more time to talk.

CJL

Who says that racism doesn't exist

I'm here blogging at Morgan State University. This time around it is the Republicans discussing black issues.

Talk show host Tom Joyner started off the night with a straw man: that some pretend that racism doesn't exist.

I hear plenty of people saying that racism doesn't exist, that some pretend racism doesn't exist. But the people who say that the most often are the people who say there are others saying that racism doesn't exist. Is there anyone serious who actually says that racism doesn't exist?

The issue isn't whether or not racism doesn't exist--rather, is it still an actual barrier to progress? If you're a student living in a lousy neighborhood attending a lousy school, then the issue of racism is just a rumor as you try to make it through this world...

CJL

9/4/07

You are Invited!

This Saturday, Sept 8. I'll be speaking to National Capital Area Skeptics about Memorandum 46.

The location is the Bethesda Library, from 2 to 4 p.m., 7400 Arlington Rd.

Here's the link to the FLYER.

More info HERE.

CJL

8/24/07

Walter E. Williams hosting Rush Limbaugh tomorrow

Professor Walter E. Williams will be hosting the Rush Limbaugh Show on August 24, 2007.

Here's the archive of Professor Williams getting interviewed by me and Eliot Morgan on the Casey Lartigue Show on XM 169. April 28 and June 9. We discussed reparations for slavery and the minimum wage mandate.

CJL

8/22/07

Radio, speech

In a few hours, Eliot Morgan and I will be interviewed on the Paul Harris Show 3-7 p.m. EST. Here's the archive from Harris's site.

On September 8, I will be speaking to the organization National Capital Area Skeptics.

I've also been invited to speak at the University of Maryland, but the date hasn't been set yet.

CJL

8/10/07

Eliot & Casey are bad guys=Memorandum 46 is True!!!

Rev. Walter Fauntroy has responded to a column that Eliot Morgan and I published in the August 5 edition of the Washington Post. Unfortunately, some people are more focused on me and Eliot than they are on determining whether or not Memorandum 46 is a fraud. I'll concede that we are mean guys with bad personalities...does that mean that Memorandum 46 about black Americans is real?

Anyway, a couple of observations and comments about Rev. Fauntroy's response:

1) WHERE'S THE FOIA REQUEST?

On June 12 or 13, talk-show host Joe Madison invited Rev. Fauntroy on his show for a discussion about Memorandum 46. At that time, Rev. Fauntroy said that they (apparently the Congressional Black Caucus and colleagues) asked for--and were granted--a Freedom of Information request for Memorandum 46.

You would think that, in a commentary of more than 2,200 words, that Rev. Fauntroy would have mentioned the FOIA request that must have been stamped with FOIA on it to prove that Memorandum 46 about black Americans was real.

After I heard Rev. Fauntroy on the air with Madison, I e-mailed Rev. Fauntroy, Madison and Randall Robinson on June 14 asking for any information that could help me independently verify the authenticity of Memorandum 46. Madison had replied to an earlier e-mail about this, to the production director, but I never received a response from Rev. Fauntroy, Madison, and Randall Robinson. I do know that Madison received the e-mail because the programming director at the station angrily told me about it before we were dismissed!

I'd be happy to send the audio of Rev. Fauntroy and Madison discussing Memorandum 46.

2) MEMO TO JOE MADISON: PUT THE RIGHT FAKE DOCUMENT ON YOUR SITE!

On May 30, Madison said that the Congressional Black Caucus held hearings on Memorandum 46 and that Memorandum 46 was mentioned in the Congressional Research Service. Rev. Fauntroy didn't mention any supporting documentation in that regard in his response. A colleague of mine did a search of the CRS and couldn't come across a mention (although, I must admit that he was laughing out loud so hard about Memo 46 that he may have missed something).

You would think that with the Congressional Black Caucus, Randall Robinson, and Rev. Fauntroy all on the case that Joe Madison would be able to do better than to have a copy of the Memorandum on his site with Brzezinski's name misspelled!!! Just search for "Brezinski" on Madison's Web page.

I also have the audio of Madison discussing Memorandum 46 and will send it upon request.

3) HE CAN'T FIND MEMO 46, BUT LOOK AT WHAT HE KEPT!!!

Finally, it is incredible that Fauntroy and company would go through the process of submitting a FOIA request, and then not even hold onto to a top secret document with the government admitting a major plot against black Americans and Africans! Did he toss that out with the Sunday morning newspaper coupons?

Rev. Fauntroy cites the Church report, COINTELPRO, and the investigation into the death of MLK as circumstantial evidence bolstering the case for Memorandum 46's authenticity. If he was so aware of those things, and linked them to Memorandum 46, then what in the hell was he thinking when they allegedly got back the FOIA request documenting that Memorandum 46 was a real government document? He would not have had to bother with circumstantial information and dot-connecting.

Of course, it has been almost 30 years, I don't expect people to hold on to every document. I will note, however, that while Rev. Fauntroy may not be able to locate the FOIA version of Memorandum 46, he did keep track of many documents in 58 boxes, archived at George Washington University:

A random sampling:

Box 5 Folder 19: Invitation, Open House for Walter E. Fauntroy 1970

Box 5 Folder 20: Invitation, National Conference on Nonprofit Housing Organizations 1970

Box 5 Folder 21: Invitation, Ebon Meritorious Award Ceremony 1974

Box 5 Folder 22: Invitation, Birthday Celebration for Walter E. Fauntroy 1975

Box 5 Folder 23: Invitation, Reception for Walter E. Fauntroy at the National Democratic Club 1976

Box 5 Folder 24: Invitation, "Holiday Warm-Up" 1977

Box 5 Folder 25: Invitation and Ticket, Mardi Gras Masquerade Birthday Ball 02/16/1979

Box 5 Folder 26: Invitation, "A Valentine Gala", 47th Birthday Party for Walter E. Fauntroy 1980

Do you really believe that such a meticulous guy with many years of government service would not have held on to a top secret document outlining a high-level government plan against black Americans and black Africans acquired through a FOIA request?

There is plenty of nonsense in Rev. Fauntroy's response, but the more time I spend on it, the more I feel that I'm investigating Santa's existence based on first-hand accounts from children...
CJL

8/7/07

Media for Memorandum 46

Today I will be on NPR's Tell Me More hosted by Michel Martin from about 3:30 p.m. EST. I'll be on with the programming director who pulled my show off the air after we argued over program content.

I will also be doing Paul Preston's Ed Talk from 9 p.m.

I've had a few other requests but I haven't confirmed yet...

Who would have ever thought that a questionable 1978 Memorandum would be worth discussing in national media? Speaking of conspiracies...I'll be discussing Memorandum 46. If you look at the address for NPR's Tell Me More, you'll see that it is show number 46...

I want to thank those of you who have been sending me e-mail messages. Unfortunately, I can't respond immediately but will do so when things slow down. I didn't expect to get so much attention for the article and have some commitments I can't break.

CJL


Linked by La Shawn Barber, SuperNatural News, Ed News, Beyond the Digital Decks, Common Sense Wonder, Dark Star Spouts Off, Beth's Contradictory Brain, Mark Lerner, Political Correctness Watch, Bill's Blog, Denialism, media bistro: FishBowlDC, Ragged Thots, Bearing Drift, Ascent Speaks, Neural Gourmet, Political Mavens, American Renaissance, Michael Fauntroy, Reid Blog, Sunny and 75 Degrees, Negrophile, Joe Madison, Snopes, Sacramento Bee, Walter Fauntroy's response, Modern Tribalist,

Linked, but not a permanent link: Lucianne.com, urbaninsite, Radio Daily News, DCRTV, Black Electorate, Conversations with Brothers and Sisters,
You can also check here for links.

8/4/07

Forgery or conspiracy? Memorandum 46

Here's an article I co-wrote that will appear in the Sunday Outlook section of the Washington Post. We'll be updating this page over the coming days. So check back for updates.

Memorandum 46 timeline, as compiled by us.
Audio from our last show on XM 169 before we got fired. That audio is divided into segments, this one is one large MP3.

Who says Memorandum46 is true?
Former rep. Cynthia McKinney presents Memo 46 to the United Nations and defends it in a speech.
Joe Madison presents Memo 46 at the annual Congressional Black Caucus gathering.
Former D.C. delegate Walter Fauntroy, on the Joe Madison show on XM 169 (audio available, upon request) and on Michael Fauntroy's site
Boyd Graves (see Exhibit 10 of his lawsuit against the government)
The Final Call, with Brzezinski's name misspelled.
Len Horowitz
Blackelectorate.com
Millions for Reparations
Various discussion forums or discussants, such as: Greekchat, Jahness,

Who says Memorandum 46 is a forgery?
Brzezinski, former national security advisor to former president Jimmy Carter and the alleged author, in an e-mail to us.
Eliot Morgan
The Carter administration.
Paul Lee, consultant to the Malcolm X movie, in a 2002 Michigan Chronicle piece
Cliff Kincaid

Who is suspicious that Memorandum 46 is a forgery

Casey Lartigue

* * *

To contact us:
Casey Lartigue's e-mail
Eliot Morgan's e-mail

Also, on the Washington Post site: Excerpts from The May 19 edition of the Casey Lartigue Show. The topic was Malcolm X.

CJL
Linked by La Shawn Barber, SuperNatural News, Ed News, Beyond the Digital Decks, Common Sense Wonder, Dark Star Spouts Off, Beth's Contradictory Brain, Mark Lerner, Political Correctness Watch, Bill's Blog, Denialism, media bistro: FishBowlDC, Ragged Thots, Bearing Drift, Ascent Speaks, Neural Gourmet, Political Mavens, Michael Fauntroy, Reid Blog, Sunny and 75 Degrees, Negrophile, Joe Madison,
You can also check here for links.

7/23/07

Random Thoughts

You Can't Take It With You, But We'll Still Send It!

According to today's Washington Post: The U.S. Department of Agriculture distributed $1.1 billion over seven years to the estates or companies of deceased farmers and routinely failed to conduct reviews required to ensure that the payments were properly made, according to a government report.

In a selection of 181 cases from 1999 to 2005, the Government Accountability Office found that officials approved payments without any review 40 percent of the time.

It is good to see our government being so proactive in catching people who are defrauding the government!

Can We Retroactively Help Out the Stage Coach Driver and Iceman?

According to the Washington Post: Under a Senate bill to be introduced today, computer programmers, call-center staffers and other service-sector workers who make up the vast majority of the nation's workforce would for the first time be eligible for a generous package of income, health and retraining benefits currently reserved for manufacturing workers who lose their jobs to international trade.


As I mentioned yesterday I hate it when government comes up with benign sounding legislation that hides what it is really doing. If you don't believe me, try this: Randomly ask 10 people to tell you what the Trade Adjustment Assistance program does. Even if they happened to read that Washington Post article they probably won't be able to tell you...

But a young Hank Aaron would be sitting on his couch today

In the last few months there has been some attention focused on the deceased percentage of black men playing Major League Baseball. There were even some complaints about MLB setting up playgrounds in other countries while ignoring urban America (and, with Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards all focused on urban America, that could become a campaign issue). Gary Sheffield had suggested that he knew plenty of black players who could be playing in the major leagues, if not for the number of Latinos (of course, he didn't name any names).

In today's Washington Post there is a passing reference to Hank Aaron and what he had to go through just for a shot to play MLB. "Born during the Great Depression, Mr. Aaron learned baseball by hitting bottle caps with a stick on the streets and sandlots of Mobile, Ala. He attended segregated schools and suffered racial ostracism as a minor leaguer in the Deep South during the early 1950s."

Wait, wait, wait! Aaron was "hitting bottle caps with a stick" and we've got activists and others complaining today that MLB isn't building them playing fields or recruiting in urban areas?

Hard Cases Make Bad Law

I read an article about the 23 South Korean Christians kidnapped by the Taliban. Of course, I have trouble having sympathy for them because they were in Afghanistan, armed apparently only with the Lord's book. But then, I read that they were from a church in Bundang (spelled with a "P" when I lived there).

Bundang? Yeah, Bundang! I actually lived there for almost a year back when I lived in South Korea.

But I read that the South Korean government is considering passing a law banning civilians from going to Afghanistan. Why not tell folks--you're on your own if you go there without our permission. You will have to depend on your friends and relatives to save you if you choose to go voluntarily to a warzone.

Of course, we can only hope that the Taliban is civilized for just a short time and allows the folks to return to South Korea. Either way, I'm sure president Bush will be blamed...

(Killing) Expertise at the United Nations

According to the Post: In 1997, the United Nations began urging new mothers with HIV to use formula wherever supplies could be provided safely and reliably. Botswana, with an extensive public water system, good roads and a legacy of competent governance, joined the UNICEF-led effort and agreed to pay for the program as a standard service to new mothers.

A decade later, and the results are in: "A decade-long, global push to provide infant formula to mothers with the AIDS virus had backfired in Botswana, leaving children more vulnerable to other, more immediately lethal diseases, the U.S. team found after investigating the outbreak at the request of Botswana's government.

"The findings joined a growing body of research suggesting that supplying formula to mothers with HIV -- an effort led by global health groups such as UNICEF -- has cost at least as many lives as it has saved. The nutrition and antibodies that breast milk provide are so crucial to young children that they outweigh the small risk of transmitting HIV, which researchers calculate at about 1 percent per month of breast-feeding."

CJL

Fairness Doctrine

As I mentioned on Wednesday, I participated in NPR's discussion on the Fairness Doctrine.

Kim Pearson has a comprehensive post on the issue.

Some random thoughts:

1) Like Pearson, I had expected Prometheus 6 to come out stronger in favor of the Fairness Doctrine. Instead, he said there should be an "Honesty Doctrine." That's all well and good, but I seriously doubt that the government would be any better at enforcing an "Honesty Doctrine" than it would be at enforcing a "Fairness Doctrine." One major criticism of the Fairness Doctrine is that it made stations less likely to air some opinions because they then would have to air opposing opinions. When the result is "damned if you do, damned if you don't" with the government watching, the most logical approach is to do nothing. By doing "something," you give the government a reason to investigate you. But would the FCC investigate a station that aired no opinions. That's right, better to be damned if you don't without having any evidence...

2) Speaking of the term "Fairness Doctrine." I like it when government is clear about what it is doing. But "fairness"? Fairness to the Klan? To the Nation of Islam?

I like something David Boaz of the Cato Institute wrote last year about vague government terms: "The first restrictive immigration law was the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. (Ah, for the days when Congress gave laws honest names. These days, a tax scheme is called Social Security and a grab bag of civil liberties violations is dubbed the USA Patriot Act. Back in 1882, when Congress wanted to exclude the Chinese, they called it the Chinese Exclusion Act.)"

I'm adding that if Congress wanted to exclude the Chinese today, they'd name it the Chinese Residential Act of 2007. So when I hear vague terms like "Fairness" used by government I'm suspicious to begin with.

3) Believe it or not, but I was in the "moderate" role on Wednesday's show. I guess it is appropriate in some ways because I'm not a conservative, liberal, Democrat, or Republican. And that's why a big part of the Fairness Doctrine debate is boring to me. Pearson highlights the things that conservatives have said and attempts to rebut those things.

But this is an issue of government control, not just about ideology. It was Dan Rather, hardly a conservative, who helped sink the Fairness Doctrine.

As Rather testified in 1985 before the FCC: When I was a young reporter, I worked briefly for wire services, small radio stations, and newspapers, and I finally settled into a job at a large radio station owned by the Houston Chronicle. Almost immediately on starting work in that station's newsroom, I became aware of a concern which I had previously barely known existed--the FCC. The journalists at The Chronicle did not worry about it; those at the radio station did. Not only the station manager but the newspeople as well were very much aware of this government presence looking over their shoulders. I can recall newsroom conversations about what the FCC implications of broadcasting a particular report would be. Once a newsperson has to stop and consider what a government agency will think of something he or she wants to put on the air, an invaluable element of freedom has been lost.

Pearson and others may think the Fairness Doctrine is no big deal because it allegedly only enforced in a few cases, but based on what Rather said (and, yes, I'm always cautious about what Rather says), the folks on the ground and on air were more concerned than those in Ivy towers.

Another interesting angle is that it was the Eagle Forum, Accuracy in Media, and some other conservative organizations that wanted the Fairness Doctrine extended. From my reading of this a few years ago, conservatives feared that without the Fairness Doctrine in place that their opinions would be completely shut out of the media.

They probably had no idea that their thinking was short-sighted--and, of course, they probably had no idea that the Internet would take off the way it has and that conservative talk radio would dominate as it has.

Of course people are concerned with correct information being disseminated, but asking the government to monitor the "fairness" or "honesty" of media would be the equivalent of having Barney Fife wave down traffic on the superinformation highway...

4) Pearson does point out that the Fairness Doctrine is not applied to cable. And I'll add: Let's keep it that way! As tempting as it would be to slap the Fairness Doctrine on universities or the Daily Kos, I still say it is better to keep the government from getting involved in information dissemination. If there must be a Fairness Doctrine, limit it to the Big 3 networks and government sponsored media outlets.

CJL

7/22/07

Universal education and its consequences

I've heard numerous speakers and commentators point out that newspaper reporters write their articles so they can be understood even by elementary school students. It often seems that those are elementary school students at a particularly bad elementary school...

So I don't mind admitting that I tripped up on the word "paroxysm" in today's Washington Post. What's that doing in a newspaper? In case you were wondering, here is how you use the word "paroxysm" in a sentence, as demonstrated by today's Washington Post: Police officials said that the paroxysm of violence was "very unusual" and that they had no indication that the shootings were related.

I wonder--how long have newspapers dumbed down their content? A few years ago when I was doing research I read some editions of the North Star published by Frederick Douglass from 1847 to 1860. As a reminder, Douglass was a former slave who never spent a day attending school. Here is a sampling of Douglass's writing in the North Star.

Over the years I've heard people blame public schools for the dumbing down of education. I have nothing to say to counter that argument. But I would add that newspapers may have also played a role in this...

We have advocates literally begging people to read, even when those folks show no interest in reading. I guess that newspapers desperate to sell newspapers to anyone have to keep the content at a level that even an elementary school student can understand what is in the paper...

By the way, as I mentioned, I was a panelist on NPR's News and Notes a few days ago. One topic we discussed was a PSA on Black Entertainment Television brow beating black people into reading...

They say, "read a book," but it sounds like it is okay if you read a comic book or the phone book rather than a magazine like New Republic or National Review.

CJL

Taking crime to the suburbs

According to the Washington Post, "Metro Transit Police have arrested four men for allegedly breaking into more than 50 vehicles in a Fairfax County Metrorail station parking garage, officials said."

Some random thoughts:

1) This occurred in Springfield, VA, which is about 17 miles south of Washington, DC. According to the Post: "The two arrested June 25 are Maurice Conyers, 22, of Southeast Washington, and Darryl Walker, 20, of Hagerstown. The two arrested July 13 are Randy Smith, 19, and Kevin Wilson, 22, both of Northeast Washington."

Three from DC, one from Maryland. So these guys apparently took the Metro out to Virginia to steal cars? I'll remember that the next time I hear suburbanites getting criticized for opposing the Metro line to their area.

2) I've always thought "parking attendant" was a misnomer. "Attendant" is stretching it since they really just seem to be cashiers who also park your car and leave the door open long enough after they bring it back so you can tip them. But I've never trusted that those guys were paying attention...

3) The Post also notes: "Police say the four broke into 52 vehicles in June and stole more than 100 items, including Global Positioning System devices, car televisions, car stereos and cellphones as well as a sport-utility vehicle."

Wait, wait, wait! They stole a GPS device? For years (okay, at least 2 decades) I've said that I can understand someone hungry stealing food to eat. And by understand, I mean that is one of the few times I think someone shouldn't get the death penalty for touching someone else's property. But a GPS device?

4) I also like one other thing from the article: "The men were selling some of the stolen items at pawnshops and to family members, Smith said."

I'll admit it. I have some relatives that I would call the cops on if they showed up with a GPS device.

CJL

Saturday Special on Friday Night

"If you miss the first button hole, you will not succeed in buttoning up your coat."
--Anonymous

Colbert King of the Washington Post goes through some logical gymnastics to compare Barack Obama to an abolitionist. In short, he compares some public policy statements from Obama with the actions of D.C. abolitionist Leonard A. Grimes.

A few random thoughts:

1) His entire comparison is off from the beginning. It makes no sense to compare the latest push for a war on poverty with slave abolition. Slaves were being held in bondage. They just needed the law to protect their same right to individual liberty that other law-abiding individuals had. That is different from trying to get people to stop being trashy and violent. If there is a comparison of Obama with abolitionists, it would be to what abolitionists went through after slavery in trying to help the freemen. In both cases, the group in need of assistance is free but not ready to take advantage of opportunities.

2) It makes more sense to compare Obama to former President Lyndon Baines Johnson. LBJ also went through this exercise of trying to figure out how government could end poverty.

3) On an unrelated note: I have an original 1990 copy of the issue of the Harvard Gazette when it was announced that Obama would be editor of the Harvard Law Review. Think I can make any money selling it on EBay?

4) John Edwards is also on a poverty tour. I've had enough of people talking about ending poverty--instead, why not focus on development? It is fine that Obama goes to poor areas to deliver a sensible speech about poverty--but southeast D.C. would be better off with a flood of businesses. As I mentioned on XM Radio a few months ago, I recently read that there is only one sit-down restaurant in all of Ward 7. That's for a population of about 70,000. I guess the rest are all takeouts and Pizza delivery places (at least, those places not afraid to deliver to all parts of Ward 7).

5) Here's a place Obama, who was in a violent part of D.C. a few days ago, and Edwards can start their poverty talk. According to today's Washington Post: "6 Shootings in 2 Hours Stir Worries About Violence." So I suppose the problem is that there aren't enough jobs programs? That enough of us aren't concerned? There would be fewer shootings if more kids in poor areas had access to Head Start? A slogan from the 1850s was "Open a school, close a jail." How are we doing so far?

6) Looking at that headline above: I'd like to welcome those of you who weren't already worried about violence.

7) Caption for the photo: Jeffrey Hall lives near the scene of a shooting Thursday night on Ponds Street NE. He and his wife were watching a movie about 10:45 when they heard gunfire. He said it was the second drive-by there this summer. "People don't have a value on life anymore," Hall said.

8) But I guess that will change once Obama is president. And I wonder, as Mr. Hall and his wife were watching that movie, if they thought about Obama's recent speech...

9) The title of this post is "Saturday Special." For the young, uninformed and forgetful people, there was a time that criminals bought guns to do their business on Saturday night. But I guess the folks in this Washington Post article couldn't wait until Saturday night to start shooting...

CJL

7/20/07

From Michael Vick-tory to Michael Con-Vick!

Football star Michael Vick has been indicted by a federal grand jury. Apparently he loves dog fighting. And hanging dogs. And killing dogs.

Some random thoughts:

1) Michael Vick is my favorite player in the Madden Football video series. The 2008 version of the game will be coming out next month. I suppose that if he does actually serve six years that Vick will be the best player on the All-Madden Prison Team.

2) The Washington Post article sums it up: "Michael Vick and three other men...."

Three other men? Nobody but their momma and perhaps their momma's boo cares who those three other men are. This is about Michael Vick. That's why Vick is such an idiot--he's a celebrity. I bet he was the only one at those dog fights with a $130 million contract.

Didn't Michael Vick learn anything from Paris Hilton? The courts, media, talk show hosts, the man on the street were all determined that she serve time.

And they'll be determined that Vick serve time. That's what happens when you sign a 10 year, $130 million contract.

3) In case you've forgotten, Michael Vick's brother, Marcus, is also an idiot. Marcus was suspended after his freshman season for having sex with some young teens and for various criminal violations. Then, after playing his junior year, he was completely kicked out of Virginia Tech after (a) giving the middle finger to spectators at a game (b) stomping on the leg of a player on the ground (c) getting caught speeding on a suspended license. He later pulled a gun on some teens in a McDonald's parking lot.

What is funny is reading comments from Michael Vick saying that Marcus was focused on becoming more mature. If Michael really did take Marcus under his wing then I guess we can understand why Marcus kept flying in the wrong direction...

4) Another "have you forgotten..." at one point, Michael Vick was the underdog who became a superstar. He's gone from the underdog to a dog killer.

Coming out of high school, it was Ronald Curry who was destined to become an NFL superstar. Vick, from the same area, was overshadowed by Curry in high school. In college, Curry had a decent although unspectacular college career while Michael Vick flourished. Curry was a late-round draft pick whereas Michael Vick was the number one draft pick.

Curry, a high school and college quarterback, is now a wide receiver for the Oakland Raiders. He has had a decent career. I wonder if Vick does serve six years whether Curry will look him up.

5) Looking at today's Style section of the Washington Post, here are more reasons to believe that Vick will actually serve time.

A) He won't even be able to tell his story on Oprah. As the Post reports: Oprah writes in her mag's new issue that she's still mourning the May death of her 2-year-old golden retriever Gracie, who choked on a plastic ball belonging to 12-year-old cocker spaniel Sophie. (Hmmmm . . . ) The pup taught her to live life to the fullest: "Everything in life happens to help us live."

He won't have a chance if Oprah comes out against him.

B) A woman named "Emily" writes to Ask Amy about people who leave their pets in hot vehicles. She writes that she called animal control when she saw a dog in car--animal control showed up and broke a car window to save the pup.

If Emily was willing to call the dog police, and dog cops were willing to break into someone's car, what do you think they would have done to Michael Vick?

Michael Vick just must not have realized how much people love dogs. Vick would have more sympathy if he had robbed his local 7-11 or committed a hate crime...

6) I suspect that the folks in South Korea who eat dogs are probably wondering why this is even a story. The dogs are typically beaten to death as they hang like a pinata.

7) Of course, it is possible there were other athletes participating. Vick can't be the only one risking his millions...

8) A friend of mine raises a question--could this be a cultural conflict? Vick grew up in a poor neighborhood. My friend's thought is that dogs aren't as respected in urban areas as they are among middle class people. I'll add...where Vick grew up, human life may not be that highly valued.

9) As if nothing else I've said has made anyone angry: I hope Vick doesn't miss a single game because of this. If he doesn't escape jail because of the technicality, then I hope the NFL can come up with a work-release program so Vick can suit up every Sunday...

10) "What's up, dog?" is a common greeting among black people. You might want to keep your distance from NFL quarterbacks who address you like that...

CJL

See also Convict Vick,