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."


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.



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.


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.


Saturday Special on Friday Night

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

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...



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...


See also Convict Vick,


News & Notes on NPR

Earlier today I joined La Shawn Barber and Earl Dunovant along with host Farai Chideya for a weekly segment with bloggers. The audio of the roundtable is here.

The serious topic: The Fairness Doctrine. I had much more to say than I actually said, but I guess that is always true with live radio and TV. I didn't realize that we would only have one shot at each issue. Next time I will filibuster when my name is called...

The not-so-serious topics:

* A really bad public service annoucement running on Black Entertainment Television. When I was waiting my chance I thought to say it looked like a video put out by the Klan but forgot to say it. Did I really say that, based on the video, it looks like black women hide books in their g-strings? I could be one-and-done on the show...

* Videos released by supporters of the presidential candidates: Obama Girl and Hot for Hill.

Some random thoughts:

* Wow, the NPR studio really looks good. My $2.47 in taxes or whatever it is my share of tax money that goes to NPR has really helped out! There is no comparison between the equipment at NPR and XM Radio.

* I had thought about interacting more with the other guests but just tried to content myself with asking the questions. 15 minutes, 3 guests, 1 host--that's not a lot of time for cross-talk.

* It was really easy--after hosting a weekly two-hour radio show for almost three months these short segments are really easy...



Random Roundup of White Suspects

Looking to spice up your next dinner party? Want to give your guests an experience they’ll never forget?

Well, then hire me to pretend to rob all of you!

It would be the latest in party tricks. Make your reservations with me now and you could have me rob you and your guests during your next birthday party, Thanksgiving dinner, and Christmas party, all for the low price of whatever your guests have on them at the time. If the story gets reported in the Washington Post then I get a bonus of $10,000.

I mention that because a few days ago the Washington Post had an article about a thief who had second thoughts. Hopefully they were his fourth or fifth thoughts, because you would hope someone had already had second thoughts about pulling a gun on a group of folks at a house party.

According to the Washington Post: A grand feast of marinated steaks and jumbo shrimp was winding down, and a group of friends was sitting on the back patio of a Capitol Hill home, sipping red wine. Suddenly, a hooded man slid in through an open gate and put the barrel of a handgun to the head of a 14-year-old guest.

"Give me your money, or I'll start shooting," he demanded, according to D.C. police and witness accounts.

But then, after one of the guests offered the criminal a drink—which he drank, and liked—the criminal then asked for a group hug (which they gave him). Unfortunately, they didn’t grab the criminal and hold him down for the police.

A few random thoughts:

1) There is no description of the would-be robber in the story. He took off his hood after deciding not to shoot the kid. It is certainly nice that there was a happy ending to the story, but the next time around, the guests may not have the kind of wine that the would-be robber likes.

2) I would still like for the criminal to be caught. I do worry, however, that some soft-headed people might want the guy to be given some type of a reward for not robbing the folks or shooting the kid.

3) Perhaps the would-be robber will have his own reality series. He’ll pull his gun on small children, but in the end, cook dinner or help his victims decorate their bedrooms.

4) The headline “a gate-crasher’s change of heart,” is just a little too nice, shows too soft of a side of a crime. In the same edition of the Washington Post, on page three, we read, "Man Rapes Woman After Offer Of Ride.”

5) I’m sure the editors struggled with which story to put on the front of the metro section, the story about the thoughtful criminal who decided not to shoot the 14-year-old in the head (which was on B1) or the rapist (which was on B3).

6) I can understand trying to write about such an off-the-beaten path story. Still, it would have made more sense to write the story from the perspective of the quick-thinking guest, not about the criminal's "change of heart."

* * *

Anyway, if you don’t want to hire me to pretend to rob you and your guests, I can always become a state senator in New Jersey. That’s because there will soon be a job opening. A state senator there, Sharpe James, who previously announced he would not seek re-election has just been indicted by a grand jury.

Of course, in New Jersey, getting indicted by a grand jury is a resume enhancer. James has been charged, among many things, with using city credit cards for more than $58K in personal expenses during trips to such drab locations as Martha’s Vineyard, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Rio de Janeiro. I’ve never looked into buying a yacht or a Rolls-Royce, so I don’t know if it is crazy for James (who earns $49,000 a year as a state senator and collects an annual pension of about $125,000 from screwing up Newark as its mayor for three decades) to have a home on the Jersey shore with a yacht, a Rolls-Royce, and more than $1 million in a retirement account.

But I guess that having a million in a retirement account could help explain why James, who is 71, was accompanied by eight different women on the trips.

* * *

By the way, if you’re someone who believes that the Washington Post ignores crimes committed by white people…then the Friday the 13th edition is for you! Based on the crimes, we could even say that white people are having a long, hot summer!

Man Rapes Woman After Offer of Ride

According to the Post: “Police said the suspect is a white man of about 33 with a heavy build. He told the woman that his name is John.”

Taco Bell Robber Posed as Health Inspector

“The robber was described as a white man about 35 years old, with blond hair and hazel eyes and wearing a dark green suit, white shirt and blue tie. He did not leave a business card.”

By the way, who ever said that reporters don’t have a sense of humor? The criminal “did not leave a business card” as a piece of news?

Assault on 9-Year-Old Investigated

“Police described the man as about 30 years old, 6 feet tall and weighing 170 pounds, with a dark complexion and slight facial hair.”

Oops! Dark complexion? How did that get in there? Oh, well, so dark doesn’t necessarily mean black or Hispanic, but perhaps dark in a Hollywood kind of way...



Walter E. Williams hosting Rush Limbaugh tomorrow

Check your local listings!

By the way, my co-host Eliot Morgan and I interviewed Professor Walter E. Williams on the Casey Lartigue Show on April 28 and June 9. We discussed reparations for slavery and the minimum wage mandate.

To access the clips above at rapidshare: 1) scroll down to the bottom, hit the "free" button. 2) scroll down to the bottom, type in the password, hit download, then listen...

Or, you can download the clips from yousendit, available for one week:

June 9, WEW, segment 5

June 9, WEW segment 6

April 28



Random Hit and Run

Miers in contempt of Congress--Joining the rest of us...

According to the Washington Post: "President Bush's former counsel Harriet E. Miers yesterday rebuffed a subpoena demanding her congressional testimony, as former White House political director Sara M. Taylor told the Senate Judiciary Committee she did not speak with President Bush about the administration's plans to fire a group of U.S. attorneys last year."

* * *

Legislate? Or Investigate?

I heard on the radio last night that Congressional Democrats are currently conducting about 300 investigations of the White House. If Democrats could be passing bills they would be doing that. I guess I should have been paying better attention--Democrats must have said they'd have 100 hours of legislation, then spend the rest of the term investigating...


A legitimate crackdown on immigration

According to today's Washington Post: Prince William County supervisors voted unanimously last night to approve a resolution that targets illegal immigrants by attempting to curb their access to public services and increasing immigration enforcement by local police."

1) Although I'm not an open borders supporter, I'm often mistaken for one.* That's because I do support making it much easier for people to come to America. The only restrictions I support are for health and safety. You're not welcome if you're bringing in the Bubonic Plague or the government has reason to believe that you want to blow stuff up. Despite that:

2) I don't oppose what Prince William County in Virginia is doing. After all, if government doesn't want to provide services to illegal immigrants, that is fine with me. Bar them from using the public schools, prohibit them from using welfare, don't provide bilingual services. My problem is when government prohibits the rest of us from interacting with others.


* I don't mind when people label me an open borders supporter. But I've talked to real open borders supporters who think it isn't the government's business that you are here and don't even see why anyone needs a passport...


"Thomas turncoats in school desegregation decision"

That's the headline on a "news" article in the latest issue of the Washington Afro-American.


The Black Race Can't Afford You No More: Chester Turner

"A pizza deliveryman was sentenced to death Tuesday for murdering 10 women and a fetus during the 1980s and '90s in Los Angeles neighborhoods plagued by a crack cocaine epidemic," according to the Associated Press.

If all goes well, Chester Turner, 40, will be executed soon.

Apparently all of his victims were "women of color."

* Back in September 1989, he strangled Regina Washington, 27, with an electrical cord behind a vacant house. She was 6 1/2 months pregnant.

* He killed 29-year-old Andrea Tripplett, when she was five months pregnant, in 1993.

The article has a sorrowful quote from their relatives.

In all, he killed Paula Vance, 38; Annette Ernest, 26; Anita Fishman, 31; Regina Washington, 27; Mildred Beasley, 45; Andrea Tripplett, 29; Desarae Jones, 29; Natalie Price, 31; Brenda Bries, 31; and one unidentified woman who appeared to be in her 20s.

By the way, I mentioned the other day that I support the widespread use of DNA testing when someone may face prison time or the death penalty. In this case, Turner is suspected of four other killings. He was charged with 10 killings because his sperm was found on the bodies of the victims.

According to the article: "David Allen Jones, a mentally disabled janitor, was convicted of three of them but was freed after DNA evidence cleared him, prosecutors said. Jones, 44, was released in 2004 after 11 years in prison and was awarded $720,000 in compensation."

Turner does have a lawyer. His defended his client in at least 2 different ways:

1) Turner's attorney, John Tyre, told reporters after the preliminary hearing that the DNA evidence did not prove his client murdered the women, most of whom were prostitutes killed in or near downtown Los Angeles. "If it is his DNA, then it indicates he had sex with these women sometime prior to them dying," Tyre said.

2) California spends a lot of money to put someone to death," Tyre said. "That money would be better served educating people (about crime) so things like this could be prevented."


Smoking killed Charles Lane....

...70 years later.

The Associated Press notes the following in the obit for late actor Charles Lane, who passed away yesterday: "When it came to alcohol, he was a lifelong teetotaler. But his son noted that his father smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for 70 years, quitting only when he became short of breath."



The Black Race can't afford them no more...

But these people -- the ones up here in the balcony fought so hard. Looking at the incarcerated, these are not political criminals. These are people going around stealing Coca Cola. People getting shot in the back of the head over a piece of pound cake! Then we all run out and are outraged: “The cops shouldn’t have shot him.” What the hell was he doing with the pound cake in his hand? I wanted a piece of pound cake just as bad as anybody else. And I looked at it and I had no money. And something called parenting said if you get caught with it you’re going to embarrass your mother." Not, "You’re going to get your butt kicked." No. "You’re going to embarrass your mother."
--Bill Cosby, May 17, 2004

Inez J. Baskin, the pathbreaking black female reporter who covered the civil rights movement during the 1950s, passed away late last month. According to her Associated Press obit in the Washington Post, she was quoted in the Advertiser in 2005 as saying: “There wasn’t very much you could read about blacks at that time, unless they were really famous. The rest of us only ended up on the front page if we stole a can of sardines and a box of crackers.”

I’m sure that Ms. Baskin was, in her older years, looking over some foolishness from those times. She was born in 1916, but even before then W.E.B. Dubois documented a bunch of foolishness among blacks in Philly. But even if she was looking back too fondly, compared to today...those must have been the days! Black people getting featured in the news for stealing sardines and crackers! If only we could go back to those times, minus Jim Crow’s boot on our necks.

I’ve heard similar statements from other older blacks. When I interviewed Professor Walter E. Williams on the radio a few weeks ago, he discussed saner, safer times. As he has also written in columns, there was a time that blacks felt unsafe in white neighborhoods, and that they didn’t feel safe until they got back to the black area. He has also written that when he was a youngster, troublemakers in schools played hooky, passed notes in class, or chewed gum. A young person being killing someone was very rare.

* * *

Sunday's Washington Post had an article about a black man accused of shooting and killing a 13-year old black girl. According to the article, just before midnight on June 29, something named Kevin Mark Warren allegedly shot into an ice cream truck, killing the child.

Yes. He shot into an ice cream truck. Somebody want to check into reports to see if anyone has held up a newspaper delivery boy recently? Warren should be a suspect in any other recent particularly stupid crimes.

There may have been stories about blacks in the past robbing ice cream trucks--but shooting and killing in the process?

I’m not saying that criminals are dumb—but I will clearly state that they are criminals. You would think that even a criminal would know that he probably wouldn’t be able to get much cash from an idle ice cream truck ‘round midnight. This isn’t to teach criminals about the appropriate time to steal from an ice cream truck—the message is don’t steal!

I say this to point out that if you are willing to rob an ice cream truck, and with a child present, there isn’t much you aren’t willing to do to get a few bucks.

You are a menace to society.

I’m not saying that criminals are moral—but I will point out that they are criminals. A few years ago I got into a discussion with one of my close relatives about crime. As I recall, a black man had just gotten caught robbing a nursery school or some other type child focused facility. My relative was shocked that a criminal would rob a nursery school. Ever heard the phrase “stealing candy from a baby?” A real criminal is probably more concerned about the opportunity to steal something from someone, not about the place. As I heard when I was growing up, there are some people that will steal the gold out of your teeth and the sugar off a cake. If a criminal is willing to shoot up an ice cream truck, why wouldn’t he shoot up other things?

* * *

A month or two ago when I was hosting the Casey Lartigue Show on XM radio, I tested out a feature called “The Black Race Can’t Afford You No More.” That phrase may have a long history, but the first I heard of it was in the movie A Soldier’s Story. There are truly some black people that the black race can’t afford. While activists and intellectuals like to focus on folks like Clarence Thomas or Ward Connerly, the black people that need to be eliminated are the thugs who make black neighborhoods unbearable to live in, uncomfortable to visit, and unpalatable to conduct legitimate business.

Back during the Million Man March of 1995, Louis Farrakhan criticized business people who go into bad neighborhoods to conduct legitimate businesses. Well, he didn’t call them business people, he called them bloodsuckers.

But I say that the real bloodsuckers are the thieves, murderers, and rapists who devastate black communities and truly harm black families and individuals.

There is something wrong with you if you rant about Clarence Thomas but fear giving aid and comfort to white racists by complaining about black hoodlums. The white racists are always going to find a reason to indict blacks. But black neighborhoods will remain unsafe as long as black hoodlums are allowed to remain free. A black criminal should fear the wrath of a black community more than we (or they) fear racists. If we must lose a debating point with whites by locking up another hoodlum, so be it.

That’s one reason that the drama over Don Imus was laughable, pitiful, and a complete waste of time. There are black women—and black girls like the 13-year old in the ice cream truck—who are harmed by black men every day, but our leading activists don’t spring into action until a case involves white criminals, alleged or otherwise.

The fake Duke rape case is another example of this. Jesse Jackson’s organization offered to pay college tuition for the black stripper who said she had been raped by the lacrosse players at Duke. Of course, Jackson’s organization is free to burn up its money, that’s not my point. But wouldn’t it make sense to help people who have actually been harmed?

* * *

My co-host Eliot Morgan and I talked more about The Black Race Can’t Afford You No More features than we actually did. It wasn’t for a lack of material! It was too easy, in fact. One week, there was a story about a young black thug, Deontae Edward Bradley, in Detroit who beat up black WWII veteran Leonard Sims. I thought about mentioning that story again as XM 169 celebrated the 82nd birthday of Malcolm X on May 19. After all, if Malcolm X were alive today, and living in Detroit, he might have gotten bopped on the head like Rosa Parks was a decade earlier by a thug named Joseph Skipper. Or beaten up, like the WWII veteran did a few months ago. It may sound like a joke or a cynical comment, but based on some of the mayhem, how could you say with any confidence that it would not have happened.

* * *

Assuming that the facts of the case as have been stated in the ice cream truck shooting, it is truly sad. Here’s a black family that had a business selling ice cream. According to the Washington Post, Briona Jasmine Porter, 13, and her mother and aunt were out shortly before midnight testing the machine’s operations.

They probably thought Warren was joking when he demanded money. I mean, who robs an ice cream truck? With their goofy music and trucks, the business selling ice cream has to be one of the least threatening on the planet. He’s selling ice cream!!!

According to a different article, the mother tried to drive off. In retrospect, comfortably typing at my computer, I’ll say that was probably not a good move. I’m no longer 19, but I still think I could outrun an ice cream truck, at least for the first 40 yards. Warren opened fire, shooting into the truck several times, killing the 13-year-old Porter.

As I was reading the obit on Baskin this morning, I was wondering—if she had ever met Warren, he would have tried to rob her. He was willing to rob an ice cream truck, and to shoot at its occupants when they didn’t give him money they probably didn’t have, so who knows what he would have done to an old lady, even one who used to hang out with Martin Luther King, Jr.

People, rightly, quote Bill Cosby's "Pound Cake" rant. But I was touched by the intro--that Cosby was angry as he looked up at the older blacks attending the 50th anniversary of the Brown decision, thinking that they had fought so hard for fools who would steal a pound cake and for leaders willing to defend them. We can now add the ice cream killer as a footnote...



Live Earth--is anyone there?

According to AFP's report on Al Gore's Live Earth held today in Washington, D.C.:

"A few hundred spectators turned out for the concert, which began at 10:30 am (1430 GMT)."

A few hundred? I guess that it isn't such a good idea to hold a concert in the summer in Washington, especially shortly after a holiday. Gore, as a former senator who has lived much of his life in and around D.C. should have known that.


Myth about Marshall

Cruising the Internet, I came across the following about Thurgood Marshall on the anniversary of what would have been his 99th birthday.

Marshall's application to the University of Maryland School of Law was turned down in 1930 because he was African-American. So he went to Howard University instead, graduated, and returned to Maryland where he represented another deserving young Black would-be law student -- Donald Gaines Murray -- and won.

A similar thing was mentioned in USA Today a few years ago. The Washington Post also mentioned during Black History Month earlier this year. The New York Times mentioned it in Marshall's obit.

It has been repeated in other places but it isn't true that Thurgood Marshall applied to the University of Maryland Law School. At least, not according to Juan Williams in his book Thurgood Marshall: An American Revolutionary. See the start of chapter 5. There, Williams writes: "He never even bothered to apply to the University of Maryland Law School."

Of course, it was the 1930s, so Marshall knew he would be wasting his time applying. He would be a trailblazer eventually, but not then.

In the footnote, Williams notes: "No, I never applied there," Marshall told the author Richard Kluger in 1973, Brown Collection, Yale Univ. He reiterated it during my 1989 interview.


DNA testing for crimes

1) I'm very much in favor of the use of the death penalty for violent offenders. There are some violent and dangerous people who just have to be eliminated.
2) I'm very much in favor of DNA testing of the accused.

There was a time that I was concerned about the use of the death penalty--I didn't trust the government to find the right perp to bring before a jury. But the more that I hear about DNA testing being able to connect perps to crimes, the more I find myself supporting the death penalty.


Quote of the Day

"Last month I returned to my alma mater, Dunbar Senior High, to deliver the commencement address to the Class of 2007. No white graduates were present. My Class of 1957 had the same look."
--Colbert King, July 7, 2007

"We" are Black Like Hillary

During arguments it is understandable when people say "Blacks are more likely than whites to be CEOs at Fortune 500 companies" or "whites are more likely than blacks to be incarcerated." Most people generalize from time to time to get to a point. Such generalizations shouldn't halt the conversation or get us discussants off the main point.

It isn't a distinction without a difference when I explode when I hear people say "we" believe certain things. The reality is that it is the speaker and perhaps some of that speakers friends and relatives who are that "we."

Whether or not you are factually correct is secondary. I don't care if you say "we" believe Air America is a lousy network or "we" believe Air America is a great network. I don't want people including me in their agenda. It is no longer a generalization--it is then saying what I'm supposed to believe certain things.

In today's Washington Post, Amina Luqman tells me what I think about Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. In short, according to Amina Luqman, I believe that Hillary Clinton is the black candidate in the race, that I'm proud of Obama but also hurt that he is avoiding speaking out on issues, and that I'm walking a tightrope at the office between being myself and scaring white employers.

I would believe all of that--if I were Amina Luqman.

The reality is that neither Hillary nor Bill Clinton is black, no matter how they speak out on issues. I don't feel neither pride nor shame about Barack Obama. And I've had more trouble with black supervisors rather than white supervisors--especially the ones who try to tell me what to think or say.

* * *

Over the years I've had white and Asian people ask me what blacks thought about various issues. A good friend of mine bristles at the question. I don't! I tell them: "We" blacks support school choice, capitalism, and playing Madden football video games.

Some have disagreed with me about that, but I told them I'm pretty sure that blacks support the above as much as I do...


Also check out: Big Stupid Guy, Too Sense,


Just say Gore...

According to various newspapers: Al Gore III, 24, was driving a blue Toyota Prius about 100 miles an hour on the San Diego Freeway near the Crown Valley exit in Laguna Hills when he was pulled over by an Orange County sheriff’s deputy at about 2:15 this morning, a sheriff’s department spokesman, Jim Amormino, said.

Some random thoughts:

* Gore III should be a spokesperson for the Toyota Prius. There are many people, Rush Limbaugh included, who may be greatly surprised to hear that the Toyota Prius can go 100 miles an hour...

* Wouldn’t now be a great time for Al Gore, Jr., to launch a “Just Say No” to drugs campaign?

* I’m constantly amazed by politicians like Al Gore, Jr., trying to get their hands on the machinery of government to force the rest of us to live as they see fit, yet, they can’t even take care of business at home.

* I agree with Al Gore III—drugs should be legalized. He didn’t say so in a policy statement, but he has with his actions.

* I suppose St. Albans, Sidwell Friends, and Harvard University are all feeling proud today. Gore attended St. Albans and and graduated from Sidwell Friends, and graduated from Harvard University two years ago.

* Al Gore Jr, who says he doesn't anticipate running for president again, is quoted in the Washington Post today as saying that "I've kind of fallen out of love with politics." Al, politics fell out of love with you a long time ago...

* Even though the sheriff's department accepts personal checks and credit cards, Gore III was left in jail for more than 10 hours. That's just what would have happened to me when I was growing up, even if bail had been $20, not $20,000...



Mayor Fenty "hugging up" on white people

The Washington Post reports on criticism that DC Mayor Adrian M. Fenty has not selected enough black people to lead the city. This is the same charge that was leveled again former DC Mayor Anthony Williams.

"Since taking office six months ago, Fenty (D) has replaced African Americans with non-black people in four of the city's highest-profile jobs: city administrator, police chief, fire chief and schools chief. Among those who hold arguably the 10 most influential positions, five are white, three are of Asian descent and one is Latino. Only one -- Neil O. Albert, the deputy mayor for planning and economic development -- is black.
"In a city that is 57 percent black and has a predominantly black government workforce, the mayor's choices have not escaped criticism."

These are the money quotes:

"During the whole campaign, he was hugged-up on black people," said Michelle Erway, 26, a black federal government contractor from Northeast, whose 3-year-old son will enroll in a charter school this fall. "Now that he's in office, he's hugged-up on white people. I lost a lot of respect for him after he was elected."

At Eaton's Barbershop on U Street NW, Troy M. Johnson, 72, who is black, said he's willing to give Rhee a chance. After all, he said, African Americans have been in charge of the system for so many years without success.
"I feel like African Americans had the school board all along," Johnson said. "Adrian Fenty is the best thing that has happened because this ain't no Chocolate City no damn more."



Juan Williams on SCOTUS ruling on race

Juan Williams writes a very good piece in the New York Times ("Don't Mourn Brown v. Board of Education") on the Supreme Court's ruling on race.

He argues:
1) Brown's time has passed
2) Desegregation "does not speak" to high dropout rates among black and Hispanic students.
3) Doesn't address the racial gap.
4) Despite Brown's presence, America's public schools have re-segregated
5) Parents want to focus more on quality education rather than on integration
6) He even has a kind word for NCLB
7) The court has come full circle--race can't be used to move kids around.


Washington Post letters on vouchers

Today's Washington Post features the good, the bad, and the ugly in 3 letters to the editor on the progress of the Opportunity Scholarship Program.

1) The good

Former D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams continues with the broad-minded approach that helped the voucher program pass--that the mayor of the city must do all he can to help every child in the city get educated, whether or not if they are in public or private school. Back when I was at Fight For Children, we started to use the slogan "All Schools, One City." Unfortunately, because folks were content to talk matters to death, some talked themselves out of using that slogan.

2) The bad

James Forman, co-founder of the Maya Angelou Public Charter School, argues...well, he is kind of all over the place. His main points seem to be that voucher programs need to be rigorously assessed and that voucher proponents haven't kept their "promise" that vouchers would raise test scores. If Forman really knows anything about education research then he'd know that researchers will never really come to a consensus about findings from research. If capitalism or free trade had to be evaluated by researchers, we'd still be waiting for the findings...

3) The ugly

Eleanor Holmes Norton

Also see Mark Lerner's rant about Delegate Norton.


Not the face of DC schools that activists want

If Michelle Rhee can suffer fools gladly, then she just may be the D.C. schools chancellor. Tomorrow she will be going before the D.C. Council to be confirmed.

She may be confirmed but if the vote were taken now it would be close. For one thing, Rhee apparently hasn't lined up many people to testify on her behalf. If this is true, she can expect to have a lot of hostile witnesses--and thus give the council "evidence" that there is widespead opposition to her. She may--naively--believe that her confirmation hearing is about the job she would do.

A few random thoughts:

1) In a city in which power is more important than performance, the D.C. Council may be ready to show whippersnapper mayor Adrian M. Fenty that it is boss. Fenty surprised the council by firing superintendent Clifford Janey and selecting Rhee without consulting it. Fenty kept Janey on the line from late last year when he announced he was going to take over the schools, then abruptly cut him off a few hours before he gained control over the schools. Fenty has already pulled this gag a few times on the council (the selection of the police chief-a white female--without consulting others also upset many people) so this may be the time that the council tries to put him in his place.

2) In a city where race is more important than results, Rhee may have a tough time getting support from activists. Based on chatter from talk radio and from community activists, there is going to be a pushback against Rhee before the council is expected to vote on July 10. Several people have noted that Rhee may not be able to run a school system in which a majority of the students are black. According to an e-mail I received a while back, the DC chapter of the NAACP allegedly will investigate Rhee and create a system to monitor the promises made in the take over legislation. I didn't realize the NAACP-DC would engage in such activity and wonder what took them so long, considering the long-term failure of the school system. I suppose it took appointing an Asian woman to head the school system to get them off their butts...

3) In a city where the above is true, then it will be tough for the council to vote "yes" for Rhee and give Fenty another victory. But then, if there is evil genius to Fenty and not just power-grabbing as it appears, Fenty would also be putting the council in a tough position. They could end up looking like pandering racists if they do reject Rhee. That may be why the council members are questioning Rhee's resume...


The photo above is courtesy of DC Watch.
Today's Washington Post has an in-depth feature on Rhee. I will point out that the cutline below the photo is wrong--unless they held the news conference yesterday, it is probably a photo from June, not from "this month."

Demand for bean-counting

Victor Reinoso, nominated by DC mayor Adrian M. Fenty's choice to be Deputy Mayor of Education, had an interesting exchange with former DC Mayor for Life and current D.C. City Council member Marion Barry, as retold by the Washington Post.

Barry criticized Reinoso for having one black man on his staff of 13 -- highlighting a growing concern of some city leaders that the Fenty administration has failed to place African Americans in high-profile positions in a majority-black city.
Reinoso struggled to offer specifics on the race and gender of his staff and said he does not count his employees that way.
"You better start counting. The voters count," Barry said.

1) How long until some people start wondering whether or not Adrian Fenty is "black enough" to be mayor of D.C.? Former D.C. mayor Anthony A. Williams got hit with the charge just a few weeks after he was inaugurated.

2) Reinoso and Mayor for Life Barry share at least one thing in common: they've both gotten robbed in DC. In Barry's case, he hosted a youth summit in his kitchen with two thugs who wanted his money.