Saturday, April 14, 2007

 

A (Limited) Defense of Terry Moran

At the risk of incuring the ire of my colleague John Podhoretz, Terry Moran does raise an interesting point in his otherwise harsh rhetorical beatdown of the Duke lacross players:
[P]erhaps the outpouring of sympathy for Reade Seligman, Collin Finnerty and David Evans is just a bit misplaced. They got special treatment in the justice system--both negative and positive. The conduct of the lacrosse team of which they were members was not admirable on the night of the incident, to say the least. And there are so many other victims of prosecutorial misconduct in this country who never get the high-priced legal representation and the high-profile, high-minded vindication that it strikes me as just a bit unseemly to heap praise and sympathy on these particular men.
....

As students of Duke University or other elite institutions, these young men will get on with their privileged lives. There is a very large cushion under them--the one that softens the blows of life for most of those who go to Duke or similar places, and have connections through family, friends and school to all kinds of prospects for success.They are very differently situated in life from, say, the young women of the Rutgers University women's basketball team.
The point about the Rutgers students is irrelevant, though Moran's next point that there are lot of cases of prosectutorial misconduct that the media doesn't cover -- often involving defendants of color.

First of all, one should keep in mind that most of these "double standard" arguments are doomed to failure because rarely are the parallels exact. Yet, it is human nature to see connections in one form or another. And so, the most overused counterargument in the L'Affaire Imus was that "Hip-hop uses the word 'ho', so why should Imus have to be penalized?"

As if, we haven't been taught since we were in children that just because little Jimmy down the streets gets away with stuff that's wrong, it doesn't mean you do. Furthermore, there are certain things that a 12 year old might get away with that a 21-year old wouldn't. In the same vein, certain words coming from a 20-something rapper on a CD are different than similar sounding words coming from a 66-year old radio talk show host who pals around with presidential candidates and congressional leaders.

And, ultimately, the latter is what much of this incident boils down to: Varying power relations within society. It's not that Imus said something that he'd said however many times before; no, this time what tripped up the I-Man was the disproportionate power Imus has in relation to the Rutgers U. players -- as opposed to many political or media targets he subjects to his abuse.

And societal power structure is ultimately what Moran is getting to. It's uncomfortable to think about, but despite the cultural influence that African-Americans may have (in music, fashion, language, etc.), social and class inequities related to race remain a major problem to overcome.

And those inequities can arise in the most unexpected of circumstances -- with at times fatal results.

Look, Moran was wrong to suggest that the Duke players aren't legitimate victims. Let's make that perfectly clear.

But, let's distill what happened to these guys to the barest essence (leaving aside the arguable points that Moran raised and Podhoretz correctly dismissed): Three young Duke lacrosse players (all white) joined with their fellow players to hire the services of women of some questionable virtue (strippers) for a party. This can be considered an immoral, though not illegal act. One stripper, Crystal Gail Mangum, later accuses Seligman, Finnerty and Evans -- of rape. They are indicted by an ambitious district attorney, Mike Nifong, running for re-election. They are smeared and pre-judged guilty by many black Duke professors (and media).

It becomes clear pretty early that there is not much to this case, but Nifong allows the players to dangle in the wind until the state bar lodges ethics charges against him and he removes himself from the case. The state attorney general then acquitted the players last week.

The lacrosse team has its season cancelled; the head coach is fired; the players have their reputations damaged -- and they are put through a hellish legal limbo for a year.

Could there be anything worse in terms of how law-enforcement could treat innocent men?

Well, yes.

Consider the case of three other young men (all black). They decide to frequent an establishment which offers the services of women of some questionable virtue (a strip club) as the concluding event for a bachelor party.

Alas, an undercover police officer was at the club, notorious for drugs and prostitution use, noted a verbal altercation outside the club involving the three young men. Claiming to overhear one of them say that he had a weapon in his car, the cop alerted his colleagues nearby. The three men get in the car. Police officers descend. The undercover cop claims that one of the men in the car reaches into his waist, seemingly for a gun. Minutes later, the car accelerates crashing into a police van; there is a hail of bullets -- 50 in all, 31 coming from one cop.

One of the three men is dead. All three were unarmed.

The cops say that they identified themselves; the survivors say they didn't know that the man coming out of the darkness with a drawn gun was a police officer and they accelerated the car to escape being shot.

This is not a fantastical story. It is a description of what happened in Queens, New York, last November. The dead man, Sean Bell, was the groom supposed to be wed the next day. The other two, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield were seriously wounded.

Now, the actions of the police happened within the spur of a moment and can't fairly be compared to the arrogant abuse of power that the Durham DA is accused of. But, one can only say "seems" because three of the five cops involved in the Bell shooting are under indictment; one is white (the one who shot 31 times); the other two are Hispanic black and African-American. The legal process has to work its way out.

Still, even as the seeming victims in this case, Bell and Co. are, like their counterparts at Duke, on the receiving end of unfounded smears themselves -- coming from NYPD sources: The cops claim that a supposed "fourth man" with a gun ran from the scene. Yet, even despite sweeps through the neighborhoods of Bell, Guzman and Benefield, a fourth man has yet to be found. A last-minute witness was presented to the grand jury -- even as they were deliberating -- who claimed to see the mysterious fourth man. The grand jury evidently found him unbelievable.

Another story came out of nowhere from a convict who claimed that Bell once shot him; he retracted his story a day later.

The point is that in two situations featuring an age-old scenario -- young men seeking strippers -- bad things happened to two sets of three men. The moral errors of three white men ended with them caught in the legal system with a reckless prosecutor for a year; the moral error of three black men ended up with one dead and the others facing long-term physical damage.

The Duke lacrosse players were victims of circumstance and an abusive prosecutor. The Queens black men were victims of circumstance and law-enforcement error -- that may, stress may be criminal.

The Duke players remain victims. But, based on what happened in Queens, it could have been a hell of a lot worse had they been black. One of inequities that American society still has to resolve is that the margin of error in what are everyday events can be much narrower -- with far more drastic consequences -- if an individual is black rather than white.

In that limited sense, Terry Moran has a point.

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Open Thread

Shed your tears, thread your fears.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

 

RAG's Improv & Stand-Up Schedule!!

This is where you can find me this weekend starting tonight -- Friday the 13th (Black Friday as it is known) !

1) Friday, April 13 & Saturday, April 14: Improv at its bet with the talented cast of characters from The Yes Show. If you're a fan of "Who's Line Is It Anyway" -- or would like to figure out what those folks on NBC's "Thank God You're Here" should really be doing -- please drop by.

Location: Stonestreet Sudios, 48 W. 21st Street, Eighth Floor.
Time: 8:00 P.M.
Cost: $15 gets you great improv AND free beer! What a deal!

2) Sunday, April 15: Some bipartisan biting stand-up featuring the good (though deeply misguided) folks from "Laughing Liberally" and their conservative counterparts! Last summer's "Laughing With The Enemy" was so much fun (catch the excerpt right here), we decided to do another go-round. Appropriately enough, it's on the traditional Tax Day (don't worry, procrastinators, taxes this year aren't actually due until the 17th, so you can come see the show! I'll be exploring such diverse topics as the articulateness of Barack Obama and the, ahem, "abortive" presidential campaign of Rudy Giuliani!

On the left will be:
Lee Camp
Costaki Economopoulos
Katie Halper

On the right will be:
Greg Banks
Robert A. George (Oh, yeah, that's me!)
Daniel Nainan

Location: The Tank, 279 Church Street (between Franklin & White) in Tribeca.
Time: 8 p.m.
Cost: $10 (more ruthlessly inexpensive humor -- though I can't promise free beer at this one).

I hope to see you!

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Asians Need Not Reply

Madscribe:
While Certain Ethnic Leaders still wring their hands over a 20-second redneck joke and consider it the biggest calumny and earth-shaking event since the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. (yes, some damned fool actually said that on Hardball, yesterday), it's still open season on some non-black groups, chiefly Asian Americans.


There used to be a time when the National Association for the Acquisition of Coerced Philanthropy actually stood up for the rights of all non-whites facing discrimination. Instead, my legal hero Thurgood Marshall's former stalwart organization is nothing more than a softcore, Nation of Islam-type afro-fascist hangout for low-achieving buppies. Indeed, Justice Marshall's second wife, Cecilia, was an Asian-American. How did he meet her? She was a secretary at the New York NAACP office. (The marriage produce two sons. Thus, son John W. Marshall become simultaneously both the first Black American and the first Asian American director of the United States Marshals Service under Bill Clinton).

All that to say that the current ethnic political calculations of the Democratic Party, which allows an afro-fascist buffoon like Al Sharpton to parade around as if he is the heir apparent to the Marshall legacy, is going to make for some pretty sad, but hilarious politicking in the upcoming year. When Blacks are allowed to use all sorts of foul language and jokes and given a pass on the worst of behaviors under victimology, while Asians, Jews, and Whites are supposed to just "suck it up" and "take it" in the name of righting racial wrongs (real or imagined), it'll be interesting to see how well the multiracial pandering of the DNC will hold up to inter-group demands before election 2008.

For example, where is the NAACP and all the "heart-broken" black folk who care about using Imus to "advance a national dialogue on appropriate language when discussing race" when it's a NON-black group being mocked and ridiculed? For example this pre-Imus Rosie O'Donell Charlie Chan ranting on Barbara Walters' chick chat fest:


If all we can expect over the next year is whiny black people demanding center stage when it comes time for Democratic candidates handing out racial pandering chits, the Republicans may have a post-Bush shot at the White House, after all. Other ethnic and religious groups may tire of accepting the hypocritical deference in civility shown to the worst of African-America's racial ambulance chasers.

(Thanks to my one of my favorite cartoonist, Tak Toyoshima, for bringing up the Rosie issue on his blog and keeping all us non-navel-gazing black guys that actually believe in studying to get ahead rather than victimology, abreast of such matters)

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Privileged Notions

The U.S. attorney firing controversy may be the biggest political scandal in Western civilization as some liberal blogs think. On the other hand, it might be the biggest non-story since Don Imus was revealed to be the father of Anna Nicole Smith's baby (or something like that).

Either way, this question of missing RNC e-mails certainly violates my personal smell test.

Now, being aware that certain issues are not supposed to be discussed in official White House e-mail, is not evidence of a cover-up: Political conversations, by law, shouldn't be made on "official" resources.

That said, this story gets "curiouser and curiouser" as Alice said:
Fielding also wrote that it "remains our intention to collect e-mails and documents" from the RNC and other outside accounts used by White House officials. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved, but did not issue, new subpoenas for the Justice Department yesterday.

Gonzales, meanwhile, has been preparing for a pivotal appearance on Tuesday before the committee, including mock testimony sessions lasting up to five hours a day, officials said.

E-mails from Rove and other White House officials potentially figure in a number of congressional investigations. Democrats are seeking the RNC e-mails as part of an effort to determine the extent of Rove's role in firing the U.S. attorneys and the alleged politicization at the General Services Administration.

The RNC yesterday turned over to the White House
a copy of e-mail records for administration officials still on the RNC server to determine whether any of them are privileged or whether they can be provided to congressional investigators. Officials indicated that they would include post-2005 e-mails from Rove. (Emphasis added).

GOP officials said they are also trying to determine whether they can recover other e-mail that may have been deleted through regular purges of e-mails or by deliberate deletion by White House staff. Waxman said the RNC indicated that it had destroyed all e-mail records from White House officials in 2001, 2002 and 2003.
Sorry, the WH can't have it both ways: Sure, Rove and others should use the RNC account for their "political" work. But, don't then assert some form of executive privelege that precludes that work (separate from "official" duties) from congressional oversight. The RNC -- like the DNC, or the two congressional and senatorial campaign committees -- is a private non-governmental entity. It is not an arm of the executive branch.

These sort of assertions -- plus the fact that many of these e-mails in question have gone a-missing -- just raise too many red flags.

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Friday Trivia! "Friday the 13th" edition

1. On a Friday the 13th in 1307, what group had all their members in France arrested under orders from King Philip IV of France?

2. After today, when is the next occurrence of a Friday falling on the 13th day of the month?

3. Who is the only actor from the original Friday the 13th movie who has his name on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?

4. In the year 13 A.D., who was the emperor of Rome?

5. Which rock band released the album 13 in November of 1970?

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The Last Ho-Down

After ten days when a two-letter derivation of a five-letter synonym for prostitute has dominated the airwaves, the use of the full word has political ripples in Washington:
Rep. Linda T. Sanchez (D-Calif.) suspended her membership in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Thursday afternoon, citing a need for “structural reforms to ensure that the caucus is more equitable and inclusive of all its members.”

She is the second member of Congress to leave the group this year as lawmakers lobbed charges of chauvinism within the group, mismanagement of the group’s political arm and too great an emphasis on seniority.

Sanchez’s sister, Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) resigned earlier this year after accusing the group’s chairman, Rep. Joe Baca, another California Democrat, of referring to her as a “whore” during a meeting in California. (Baca has denied making the comment.)
With this involving California members of Congress, it's far likelier that Baca referred to Sanchez as a Napa Valley 'ho', which is something very different.

Meanwhile, for those of you daring and immoral enough to want to go to bed with your own nappy-headed 'ho, it's easier than you think.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

 

Hello, Imus Be Going

CBS fires Don Imus.

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Rudy & the Discontents of the Right

National Review shares its disappointment on Rudy Giuliani's abortion views. On this major issue for social conservatives, Rudy doesn't get "bonus points" for standing by his previously stated "principles":

The mayor’s rationale for abortion funding is bizarre. Putting his statements together and reading them as charitably as possible, his argument is that so long as the Supreme Court says abortion is a constitutional right state governments have an obligation to help poor women afford it.

Note that governments have no such legal obligation: The Supreme Court, in a series of cases from 1977, ruled that they do not. So Giuliani must (we again assume charitably) be positing some kind of moral obligation to carry out the Supreme Court’s work beyond its writ. Combine this view with Giuliani’s other constitutional musings, and the results get stranger still. Giuliani has said in the past that people should have to show good character and get federal licenses before buying guns. Now he says, without repudiating those past statements, that the courts should read the Second Amendment to protect an individual right to own guns. So should states spend money to let poor people pack heat? Or will women need to show good character
and get federal licenses before they have abortions?

Mayor Giuliani has tied himself in knots. His position makes neither logical, moral, nor political sense. Many conservatives are disappointed, and hope that their disappointment is not going to grow as the campaign wears on.
That last line "Many conservatives...hope that their disappointment is not going to grow..." is the real kicker. The New York Sun's Ryan Sager (more libertarian than the editors of National Review) has been a Giuliani supporter for a long time, yet he is becoming increasingly frustrated by the combination of Giuliani's intellectual incoherence and his campaign's disorganization when it comes to helping elucidate their boss's actual position's. This week, it was a rambling response to a question about Terri Schiavo, asked in St. Petersburg, Florida:
Responding to Mr. Giuliani's comments yesterday, political observers appeared both surprised by his position and confused by his lack of preparation.

"My first thought was, he didn't seem ready for the question," the president of American Values and a former Republican presidential candidate, Gary Bauer, said. "It sounded like he was thinking about his answer as the question was asked.

"I'm happy any time a competitor for the nomination tilts toward the pro-life side," Mr. Bauer said. But he added: "When you put all of it together with his other opinions on life, to be charitable, it seems confused at best."

"That's amateur hour 101," A Republican pollster, Tony Fabrizio, said. "How do you send a guy to the state, and the county, where this took place and expect you're not going to get a question?"

As for the candidate himself, Mr. Fabrizio asked: "How do you, on something like this, on something that was important to the rank and file, not know what your position was? And then how do you try to straddle it?"

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It's Not So Hard Out Here for a Pimp

Madscribe quietly fuming:
Well, I don't know about RAG, but this is my absolute last word on the phony Imus affair (fingers crossed!). By way of blogosphere regurgitation, I recommend
Jason Whitlock's column on the whole mess, which I came across on BookerRising (I still like Shay's site, even if she goes bonkers and Sharpton-like on the issue of Harold Ford, Jr., black men and interracial dating).

It's nice to know that I'm not the only black male in America that thinks this mess was much Hairdo about nothing, and see it for what it really was: a way for poverty pimp Al Sharpton to demonstrate his meager talent of racial huckstering, enabled by
white journalists and media folk whose only concept of black leadership is limited to Sharpton and Jesse Jackson; as well as for talentless black journalists that have nothing better to write or research in terms of important (or UNCOVERED) black news and issues, go for the easy, meaningless water cooler talk of cable news networks. I haven't felt the need to renew my membership in the National Association of Black Journalists, and this whole stinking, anti-First Amendment episode (guess journalists of all backgrounds have forgotten what THAT is) isn't going to make me reach for my check book.

I guess now Sharpton will have to go back to
attacking black filmmakers, and black journalists can continue to whine about diversity and jobs in a dying newspaper and advertising business that is shedding jobs regardless as to race, color, religion or sexual preference.

Update:
Okay, SECOND to last word (told you that I had to cross my fingers). Justine Nicholas at LewRockwell.com makes a pointed libertarian-economic case on why attempts to silence people like Imus will ultimately fail at improving race relations. An English professor at City University of New York, Ms. Nicholas also makes an interesting distinction between two common words in the lexicon of modern black thugs, which have been (unfortunately) much discussed in the past week.

Consider the articles of Nicolas and Whitlock to be the perfect bookends on a very stupid episode in the national dialogue.


Updated Update:
Imus Fights Back. I knew this was coming. Sharpton claims we need to "have a discussion on what is appropriate on the airwaves." I can't wait to see what an unchained Imus, coupled with Opie and Anthony, and a host of others who are starting to feel their Wheaties, will do to confront Herr Sharpton and his Hair-Raising Hordes.

Mother of All Updates:

"Well, Don, when I got fired it took me a whole roll of LifeSavers to get over it ... "
If it helps to cheer folks up, here's a classic slice of Al Sharpton at work. Looking back, all I could think was that the Good Reverend looks like Prince's bass player from the early 1980s after an airhose was shoved up his butt.

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Billy Pilgrim's Final Trip

Kurt Vonnegut rockets off to Tralfamador one last time.

So it goes.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

 

MSNBC-Ya, Don't Wanna Be With Ya

Consider me surprised!

MSNBC announced today that
it was parting company with Don Imus by dropping his simulcast.

Given that MSNBC perenially trails Fox and CNN in every part of the day -- and CNN having its own morning-show upheaval -- this decision to disassociate itself from an individual who produces one of its more successful time periods is stunning. But, it shows what an incredible blunder Imus made -- and the economic ramifications it has had.

With General Electric, Ditech and American Express pulling out as advertisers, MSNBC has to watch its bottom line. Even despite the millions Imus was
reportedly bringing into MSNBC in the morning, it's clear that the cable station believes that showing him the door is the less costly option.

With MSNBC caving, the pressure on CBS Radio to keep him will be very intense.

Even if CBS stayed with him, how many of the political and journalism heavyweights (particularly those from NBC News) will continue to drop by for interviews?

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We Were Ho's Once, And Young

Madscribe Retro Record Moment:
After the media avalanche of intolerance-speak this week, I recalled the first 45-inch single I ever bought as a kid. Sorry that it's not the actual video, but join with me anyway in a bid for national unity, when the word "Ho" had no negative connotation whatsoever.


Give me a "HO" if you got your funky bus fare. HOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue

All charges dropped against Duke lacrosse players. That's obviously a relief to the players, though it won't easily return them their reputations or get them a second chance at the season that was cancelled last year (or their coach his job back).

Meanwhile, given the racial sensitivities that arise in this nation on occasion, consider this cruel irony: One day after the Imus-slapped Rutgers University women's basketball team showed admirable poise and maturity during a press conference covered nationally, the accuser in the lacrosse case is revealed as a young woman who might accurately be referred to as, well, you know...

Meet Crystal Gail Mangum.

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Hagelian War Logic

Jim Pinkerton assess Chuck Hagel's vision of the Iraq war.

He is skeptical of how much change a President Hagel might bring.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

 

RAG on CNN

I will be appearing on Anderson Cooper 360, CNN 10-midnight this evening. I will be in segments in both hours. The topic? What else? Don Imus and related issues (some of which have been discussed on this very blog and its Comments section)!

Tune in, if you can.

UPDATE: A transcript of Cooper's show is available here and here.

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That's What Friends Are For

John Cole has some common-sense observations about why the opinion media big boys stick by Imus, despite his history:
As the TNR notes (via Sully), it will be interesting to see how MoDo and Frank Rich react. Another one that will be interesting to watch is Mike Barnicle, who was, for the most part, thrown out of the “clique” for plagiarism a few years back and was wholly rehabilitated by Imus. He made Barnicle less nuclear. People remember that. People understand loyalty.

But I really do think it boils down to friendships and relationships as much or more than it does to
Digby’s hypothesis about book sales. I listened to the show quite frequently (every morning, actually, up until about a year ago when I just stopped watching, for whatever reason). The guests and Imus generally liked each other- you could tell that they were friends, and yes, they were clubby.

I guess my whole point is that it is, I think, unfair to attack Oliphant, or David Gregory, or Tim Russert, or whoever, because they will defend a friend. I worked in probation for a while, and at every sentencing, people got up and said good things about the convicted. That doesn’t mean that the convicted is any less guilty, and it surely does not mean that those testifying on behalf of the convicted are awful sell-outs. It is just human nature to try to stand up for your friends.
It's interesting. I've also been a long-time Imus listener -- back when he was "Howard Stern" before Howard Stern became "Howard Stern." He was the original loud-mouth, near-foul, shock-jock. Years later, when he became the drop-by guy for various media and political heavyweights -- and was nationally syndicated -- I started listening to him again in Washington, D.C.

But, like Cole, I suddenly stopped listening regularly last year, preferring my morning regimen to go from the local all-news cable station to the "Mike and Mike" simulcast on ESPN2 to CNN. Imus has slipped from the rotation.

An earlier Imus drive-by victim, Gwen Ifill, weighed in this morning
in the Times. She focused less on Imus than on his target -- the Rutgers U. basketketball players. I think they are the reason why this has had a stronger resonance than previous Imus outbursts. They are not "public" figures in the conventional sense. They were just playing in a tournament and suddenly bece the source of obnoxious "humor." As we noted previously, that makes Imus worse than a racist -- it makes him look like a bully.

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And the winner of the Mega Millions Lottery is ...

NO, not THAT lottery. The DNA lottery.

Finally, something to kick Imus out of the news cycle on the cable channels. Unless, of course, Imus turns out to be O.J.'s real killer. Then we're back to square one ...

(Posted by Madscribe. Normally, I put the disclaimer at the top, but the formatting on Blogger made the thread read like I'm a lot luckier than I actually am!)

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RAG on NPR

Driving home late last night (sounds like the beginning of a Country-Western tune), I discovered that the FM NPR station does carry News and Notes ... not that you can't enjoy it from I-Tunes or the NPR site.

Luckily RAG wasn't paired with Elmer Fudd, er, Michael Meyers, but two very intelligent black female journalists, Callie Crossley and Rochelle Riley. Naturally, the combination of two such ladies and our dapper punster made for a lively discussion on Don Imus, among other hair-raising topics.

Enjoy here.

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The Pursuit of Nappyness

Madscribe:

or Much Hairdo About Nothing.

Funny how an innocuous phrase that, heretofore, was an apt description of the uncombed black head is now the latest in a long list of politically incorrect phrases that require "skin privilege" before being bandied about. Being of "red bone" genetic makeup like
another famous Black-Indian mixture, "nappy" was a word I heard quite often as child in the 1970s when my hair seemed to defy both convention and combing, much like Will Smith's son in his last attempt for Oscar glory. For those not in-the-know, "nappy" was and is black folks' terminology for uncombed (or unmanageable) hair.

"Nappy," however, was a fluid word whose usage could also range from playground taunting ("your head's so nappy, it's unbe-weaveable!") to affirmation of African authenticity. It's also inspired some great Black music from the ribald Funkadelic tune, "
Nappy Dugout" (referring to nappiness south of one's navel) to the famous musical number in Spike Lee's sophomore outing, which brilliantly and humorously managed to sum up 400 years of black identification issues and race-class struggles under white supremacy into a five minute interlude that would make Louis Jordan or Cab Calloway proud. My non-Greek Letter organization black friends and I always referred to it as the "Kappas Vs. Deltas" song in college.


Then there's the word "ho" (or "hoe," if your slang spellings were taught to you by Dan Quayle). Unfortunately, it seems as if you can't even get on MTV, VH1 or BET without peppering your conversation with the word as a synonym for "black female." The usage of the word in popular music has probably helped garden tool sales to remain brisk at Home Depot. Even my favorite band, Fishbone, is about to
release their next album with a cut titled "Let Dem Ho's Fight."

Which brings us to the latest non-event that's been ginned up to seem more significant than it really it is by our brain dead media, which continues to prove my military hero
Admiral Rickover correct that "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people." So, allow me to be small-minded for a moment like America's media and consider one Mr. Don Imus. I say "non-event" because such conversations go on daily, hourly, on radio stations all over America from the orifices of potty-mouthed shock jocks and comedians. Why Imus, and not Howard Stern, Opie and Anthony, Carlos Mencia, or a host of others?

Imus and his staff
have said much worse in terms of race-bating humor, and black writer and commentator Ishmael Reed has been calling for the heads of Don Imus and his staff for years while mainstream journalists, black and Caucasian, have virtually ignored Reed. Reed, of course, isn't part of the sycophantic journalist crowd of Beltway Butt-kissers that feign critiques of sitting administrations and national figures while simultaneously buck-dancing for nearness to Pharaoh. Why is Imus now ripe to be trotted out to the village square to be pilloried? Well, on the left, now that liberal media's darling, Barack Obama has been designated the new Black Messiah, no white figure on radio or TV will be allowed to utter anything even remotely hinting at racial sideswiping (regardless as to the distinction of whether the remark is an intelligent criticism, or just redneck roughhousing). On the conservative side, Fox News and Republicans see an opportunity to draw blood from someone perceived to be liberal and anti-Bush (although Imus, by his own admission, is a registered Republican) and receive payback for all the white male Republicans, from Trent Lott to George Allen, that shot themselves figuratively in the foot with their own racial slip-ups.

Sadly, I've just come to accept the cognitive dissonance that passes for "intelligence" among black "leaders," and that black American thought, from the Armstrong Williams of the right to the Michael Eric Dysons of the left, will continue to be (to paraphrase an old Seinfeld episode) unreal and unspectacular.

Don Imus is (rightly) criticized for unwarranted insults against hard-working young, black female college students, yet black journalists and so-called leaders give a pass to all sorts of cultural pollution and degeneracy in the name of "modern black culture," "keepin' it real," "street cred'," or "hip hop/youth culture." Like
Voltaire's alleged motto, I am against politicians, media, or any other "activists," black or white, attempting to curb free speech; but what's sauce for a guy's whose goose is cooked, is gravy for the gander that panders. The black mayor of D.C. rails against circuit court decisions upholding private citizens' Second Amendment rights of legal gun ownership, yet sees no need to crack down on black thugs that use illegally obtained weapons to terrorize other innocent poor unarmed blacks. Black leaders, conservative and liberal, rail against the evils of "big boxes." Wal-Mart, and "white corporations" for their alleged economic sins, and then expect said entities to magically open shop and create jobs from thin air in impoverished areas without regard to (fair or unfair) racial criticism, government regulation, market pressures, and wage demands. In other words, protected speech for protected classes.

A further irony is seeing Mr. Imus being trotted out to answer for his racial sins before, of all people, the modern-day jack leg, Al Sharpton. The Axis of Evil that terrorizes the intelligent modern black mind is public school education, welfare state regulation and politics, and most of all, organized religion. Mr. Sharpton is hardly the clean glass to put beside the dirty glass, considering his history of
slander and his chocolate-coated, Father Coughlinesque anti-Jew rants. Of course, since the mainstream media has already elected Sharpton as the modern, Bizarro heir apparent to the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., gone are any attempts at holding ALL Americans, black or white, to a universally applied standard of justice, decency, and civility.

Two words of advice for Mr. Imus : Satellite Radio. It helped Howard Stern to turn his trashy rants into big cash. It can do the same for you, too!

"Only in America ... "

Finally, there is the question of exactly when is it ever appropriate (or inappropriate) for a white commentator, writer, or artist to appropriate black lingo, history or images? Whether it's the generally lowbrow (and low-IQ) culture of pop media such as Don Imus, or the more intellectual pursuits of white Pulitzer Prize-winning novelists, is there some hard and fast set of rules that creative Caucasoids are supposed to always consult before attempting to put pad to pen, or mouth to microphone? Why does Spielberg take on the mantle of the New Lord Jim for adapting a black feminist novel, but Oprah Winfrey and Quincy Jones are revered for stage interpretations of the same work? Is it okay for all sorts of lyrical sewage to spill forth from the mouth of black hip hop artists, or will become the Day the Universe Stands Still when Justin Timberlake or Eminem utters the unutterable?

Update:
As a side note, the inspiration for the pun headline reminds me of an interview with Mr. Robert O. Carr, CEO of Heartland Payment Systems, in yesterday's Wall Street Journal ("Share The Wealth," by Joann S. Lublin). My favorite film critic, Armond White of the New York Press, considered Will Smith's last magnum opus too much of an urban fantasy, an
African-American appropriation of the quintessential Horatio Alger mythology.

Although I won't deny that racial problems are an undecurrent at any corporate entity (the magnitude and flow of the undercurrent depends upon the company and its leadership), there are some business people who don't see the marketplace as an excuse to grind others into the ground. Mr. Carr believes that corporate success for his company in 2007 entails cutting the salaries and bonuses of top executives, giving free lunches (fresh salads) to employees to encourage weight loss, and sets a base pay of $15 for call center employees. What amused me about this corporate generosity was that it was not inspired by the CEO of Costco or Starbucks, but Ayn Rand!

Personally, even as a libertarian, I find Ayn Rand and her tomes to be monumentally insufferable; but, hey, if Mr. Carr can find wealth and happiness from reading the overwrought Atlas Shrugged---and even more, spread the wealth around to his employees---then who am I to complain?

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Monday, April 09, 2007

 

A Robert George Comedy Weekend!!

Hey, New York, fans!

You have a rare opportunity to catch your sort-of humble host -- politico, pundit & punster -- Robert George, three times this coming weekend (April 13-15) -- in two different comedic formats!

1) Friday, April 13 & Saturday, April 14: I will be performing improv with a talented cast of performers in The Yes Show. If you're a fan of "Who's Line Is It Anyway" -- or would like to figure out what those folks on NBC's "Thank God You're Here" should really be doing -- come to The Yes Show.
Location: Stonestreet Sudios, 48 W. 21st Street, Eighth Floor.
Time: 8:00 P.M.
Cost: $15 gets you great improv AND free beer! What a deal!

2) Sunday, April 15: Robert George returns to the stand-up stage for another partnership with the good (though deeply misguided) folks from "Laughing Liberally." Last summer's "Laughing With The Enemy" was so much fun (catch the excerpt right here), we decided to do another go-round. Appropriately enough, it's on the traditional Tax Day (don't worry, procrastinators, you can come see the show: Uncle Sam has given East Coast folks two extra days to file -- no joke!).

I'll be exploring such diverse topics as the articulateness of Barack Obama and the, ahem, "abortive" presidential campaign of Rudy Giuliani!

On the left will be:

On the right will be:
Robert A. George (Oh, yeah, that's me!)
Location: The Tank, 279 Church Street (between Franklin & White) in Tribeca.
Time: 8 p.m.
Cost: $10 (more ruthlessly inexpensive humor -- though I can't promise free beer at this one).

I hope to see you at least once this weekend!

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RAG Gets Results

Of course, this site takes full credit for MSNBC's decision to suspend the Imus simulcast, which we called for over the weekend.

Right.

No, we don't take credit for it. In fact, I thought Imus was too much of a money-maker for the cable station to blink. Apparently that is more true on the radio side of things, given that CBS is sticking with him. However, the continued likelihood of visuals of Imus with NBC's journalistic superstars probably created too much heat for MSNBC to take. They figure that two weeks from now, hardly anyone will remember this.

In the meantime, Imus managed, I'm sure, to boost Al Sharpton's ratings, a fact that proves God (or Someone) does have a sense of humor (in the sense that the pair make an ideal couple).

Finally, speaking of visuals, given Imus' hair issues, isn't he, like, the last person who should be calling anybody a "nappyheaded ho"?




UPDATE:
Well, CBS Radio announced later Monday that it would also suspend Imus -- beginning April 16th. Huh? That sounds weird: "We're punishing you, but we're waiting until NEXT week?" I dunno. That sounds more like a vacation to me.

As the saying goes, quite appropos here: Stay tuned -- or not, as the case may be.

UPDATE II: New York's NBC station, Channel 4 got Al Roker on tape Monday evening saying that, "Imus has played with fire on this for a while. Eventually, you're going to get burned." As one of the mainstays on NBC's "The Today Show", Roker carries a lot of weight (no pun intended). If he sends a signal that Imus has worn out his welcome, this story could go further than anyone might anticipate. The Rutgers players and their coach have scheduled a press conference Tuesday.

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

 

RT Obsession-Watch Grand Unification Theory

The wisdom of Rudy Giuliani meets the "competence" of Alberto Gonzales:


When former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani urged President Bush to make Bernard B. Kerik the next secretary of homeland security, White House aides knew Kerik as the take-charge top cop from Sept. 11, 2001. But it did not take them long to compile an extensive dossier of damaging information about the would-be Cabinet officer.

They learned about questionable financial deals, an ethics violation, allegations of mismanagement and a top deputy prosecuted for corruption. Most disturbing, according to people close to the process, was Kerik's friendship with a businessman who was linked to organized crime. The businessman had told federal authorities that Kerik received gifts, including $165,000 in apartment renovations, from a New Jersey family with alleged Mafia ties.

Alarmed about the raft of allegations, several White House aides tried to raise red flags. But the normal investigation process was short-circuited, the sources said. Bush's top lawyer, Alberto R. Gonzales, took charge of the vetting, repeatedly grilling Kerik about the issues that had been raised. In the end, despite the concerns, the White House moved forward with his nomination -- only to have it collapse a week later.
Emphasis added.

So, Giuliani overlooks his crony's potential mob ties and recommends him to a Cabinet position (the most important domestic one in the post-9/11 era. Gonzales abrogates the usual vetting process -- with the selection blowing up in the administration's face.

Again, this puts supporters of both Rudy Giuliani and the administration in an awkward position: What's worse, Rudy's blind eye to his employee/colleague's corruption -- or the administration (i.e., Gonzales') negligence in not scuttling the nomination before the announcement? Given this episode, AGAG (Attorney General Alberto Gonzales) 's foul-up with the U.S. attorneys makes even more sense.

With everything that was known (even to the White House) about Kerik before the nomination, isn't it interesting that a failure to pay taxes on a domestic worker was the "reason" he actually withdrew?

Or was it?


"Nanny problem" may be the "legal/political" flip side of the "retiring to spend more time with one's family" coin? If an individual just becomes a political embarassment, they resort to the latter. If there are a number of problematic legal issues associated with a nominee or appointment, heretofore unknown domestic workers will suddenly appear to force a hasty withdrawal/resignation.

Meanwhile, speaking of AGAG, a former House Speaker stated that it was about time he hit the road.

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