Back in America, 4 days and counting

I got back a few days ago, I'm still unpacking...

Some of the highlights so far:

* Friday morning I was in the audience for a CNN/The Root discussion about being Young and Black in America. As a veteran of so many of these Washington talking events I am less than enthusiastic about them these days. Still, I bumped into a few friends, some of whom are neither young nor black. The discussion seemed so 1980s, with the panelists trying to figure out how to politically empower young black people. I guess it was appropriate then that the head of the NAACP was there. His most irrelevant concern was about hate talk radio...or I guess Rush Limbaugh being on the air all these years explains the high level of black-on-black crime.

20 years later, how is the Stop the Violence movement working out?

The highlight of this particular panel was running into old friend David Plotz, who is now editor of Salon Magazine. I don't think I've seen him since college but he recognized me. I forgot to get his contact info, I'll have to follow up.

Suzanne Malveaux, CNN White House correspondent and moderator of this particular panel, was college roommates with one of my best friends. I said hello to Malveaux, took a picture with my cell phone that didn't come out. I thought to remind her that I knew her back when she knew me, but skipped it because she was (predictably) in a hurry to scoot out of there.

* Friday evening I went to a Congressional Black Caucus reception hosted by two black congresswomen I don't like very much. Anyway, it is always fun networking and eating the finger food at such events. I took photos with a couple of folks, including the ambassador to Nigeria.

The reception was sponsored by several big oil companies.

I do always enjoy hearing Congressional Democrats from Texas saying sweet things about oil companies that happen to be located in their districts.

* Saturday morning I got up early to hand out leaflets publicizing a rally for DC School Choice this Wednesday. It is pretty clear that the program will get killed, thanks to the inaction of Mayor Fenty and the City Council, and the actions of President Obama and Congressional Democrats.

I have mixed feelings about this, as someone who actively pushed for the legislation five years ago. Fenty, Obama and the Democrats should roast in hell for this (and many other things). The public schools in DC remain lousy, the various levels of government would do better to allow children a choice to find schools that work for them.

On the other hand, five years later, it should be parents, not advocates, who are handing out leaflets and holding rallies. Still, I will be at the rally this Wednesday holding a protest sign.

*Sunday morning I got up early again, this time to meet with some people talking about Malcolm Gladwell's book The Tipping Point. Whereas some people will only show up to talk about a book that is currently on the New York Times Best Sellers list, I enjoy discussions where perspective and time allow us to more fully evaluate a book. In many cases at forums about recently released books, most people haven't read it/have read only reviews about it.

It was a good reminder that Gladwell made many good points in the book. One of the main things that caught my attention was his point that there are three kinds of people: Connectors, Mavens, Persuaders.

This week I will try to resume swing dancing, someone I finally got into when I was in South Korea. I still have some actual work to do while I'm here so I'll try to get to it.

Speaking of the 1980s, here's one of my all-time favorite videos.

Self-Destruction from 1989!