GTA4 is the most immersive game I've played since Oblivion, and I've only put in 3 hours.
Being Niko is a whole lot more easy, mature and realistic so far, than being CJ back in San Andreas. GTA4 has an organic quality to it, unlike the paranoid frenetic pace of San Andreas. In Niko, you get to see the bottom of the pile of Liberty City, but it is not preternaturally dangerous. You ease into the dark life. My Niko is not there. I've just started. I got about 150 bucks in my pocket, I walk the streets a bit. I bought a pair of boots from the Russian market. I met this girl named Michelle and we went bowling. I sat down in my filthy apartment and watched Katt Williams on TV. I got into a fight to save my cousin from some Albanian loan sharks, but I got my ass kicked by a guy with a knife four times before I actually got through it. It feels like the pace of a real life, day turns to night and sometimes it rains.
Carjacking is stupidly easy in this world - easier that hotwiring a vehicle, but that's part of the fun. The driving engine in GTA4 is an order of magnitude more refined and subtle than any urban shoot 'em up game before, and the hand to hand combat engine defies button mashing of the sort that powers Bully. It makes a world of difference. I figured I could just knock over these fat thugs with some cool moves. No such luck. My Niko was basically spent after 50 punches. If you have to fight three men, you had better have a weapon.
As before, the music is crackling. The audio talent and variety in GTA4 is the benchmark against which all ghetto ambiance in the gaming world must now be judged. That too shows some mastery on the part of the Rockstar crew. I can't tell you how quickly stupid and repetitive comments just destroyed True Crime despite the ripping sound track. Once again, Rockstar has put together some excellent radio parodies and now added television parody as well.
The art direction is spot on. I am transported to Brooklyn and Queens in Liberty City. The light, noise and shadows under the tracks, the wooden clunk of my shoes on the boardwalk, the weeds and garbage cans under the light in the alley at night. GTA4's Liberty City is a completely intelligent and sophisticated riff off the American urban underclass. It is both exploitive and serious. This is to gangster gaming what the Sopranos was to gangster stories on TV. It has been more than evolved, but revolutionized and humanized with a deft touch. I really truly expect academics to take a close look at this representation of urban life. So far, it is utterly convincing.
But none of that prepared me for being drunk. Yes drunk. My Niko took his cousin out to a bar and then I get drunk. The experience is extraordinary. Niko stumbles trying to walk straight, the entire view is fuzzed and wobbly. I can't even get in a car to drive because I nearly get run over in the middle of the street. Before I can get to the curb I can hear cops coming, and then my head starts spinning harder. I had to laugh out loud it was so uncanny.
I approached GTA4 with more than a bit of trepidation. I have a difficult time being the criminal, but I'm emotionally sympathetic to Niko. It's more than just the date with Michelle and the relationship with cousin Roman, it's the whole world.
EC writes that we need to be smarter and I agree. But how will a smarter society evolve? What will be the forces that will help determine the shape of the smarter future society? I happen to think that America is the only place where the cauldron of experimental change will show the world what is possible.
Nulan knows that there's something wrong with a middle class which is defined by suburban land use and automobile transportation. I can remember living in Atlanta and hearing something about smarter land use from Al Gore back in the day. Atlanta has extraordinary problems with water and land use - the land is too damned cheap and developers went haywire building a glut of suburban and exurban homes that Northeasterners like myself were gobbling up on the cheap. A big migration to the South and Sun Belt in the 90s helped define what David Brooks accurately named 'Patio Man'. All with polo shirts, cargo pants, sunglasses, brown shoes and SUVs. There were millions of us, well, I didn't wear the polo shirt.
The something wrong is that we Americans fall short of Americanism. Given a chance to improve our lot, we don't. We consume lazily, we learn and read lazily, we raise our kids lazily. We are seduced forward instead of planning smartly forward. We are consumers, basically. But we have so much here, and we could save so much energy, land and money if we would only discipline ourselves and out-think the commercial 'seducation'. (seductive education). It's an American thing to do both.
I agree with Victor Davis Hanson that our liberal arts education is a failure. EC's words are worth repeating as are VDH's:
Hanson: American universities are rated the world’s best only because of our sciences and engineering—and thus despite, not because of, our failed liberal arts curriculum.
Hopkins: My number 1 issue will be significantly improving the quality of U.S. public education. Because if Wright's comments, and nothing else, will make our nation pick Hillary over Barack or McCain over Barack then that will signal to me that our public education system is criminally inadequate, churning out far too many robot-like zombies and far too few responsible citizens capable of thinking independently or well.
America is a liberal society. We are unusually susceptible to social engineering. We have 'lifestyles' because we fundamentally expect to. It is a consequence of both our affluence and our mindsets. I've already categorized the downside. But the upside is, of course, that we will be willing and able to change as the world changes and as our economic and geopolitical situation changes. The entire thrust of liberal politics is to try and get the US government to be on the proactive side of that change. The idea of change is not always necessarily wrongheaded, It just happens that today's liberals want to punish us into a better future through radical policy shifts and taxation. Nevertheless, Americans will change. It's a question of who we think is smart and righteous enough to demand it from us. But that's just the local picture.
The American society is under pressure to change its energy policy and consumption patterns precisely because the people of the developing world want to follow our middle class example. So a fundamental question that needs to be asked is whether a global middle class is achievable and once achieved would it be robustly sustainable? I think the answer is maybe, but if a model develops anywhere, it will be in America precisely because of our liberal society. So there is a fundamental question of what liberty is affordable for Americans and the world. The answer is here.
What is your part of the answer? What kind of Americans have to die so that the future global middle class will live?
I say that it is a given that there is a certain necessary 'seducation' required and that few pluralities of the emerging world will eschew the benefits of first world clothing, eating, health care, education, etc. That is to say that the prospect of the first world standard of living is irresistible. Everything that's wrong with Bling on MTV is the excess to be avoided, and a good dose of basic Protestant work ethic is all that's required. Only America can live like Shaq, and only for a little while longer, but all of us could live like Lance Armstrong indefinitely.
The price of gasoline is beginning to be a pain in my butt. I'm paying $4.17/gallon and I'm commuting 120 miles every day in a car that gets 17 miles per gallon. I'm not freaking out, but I'm beginning to shop smarter for gas. I hate it when life makes me scrimp, but that's just me. So how long am I going to have to deal with this? Where is the silver lining? Well, here's a theory that I like:
But what happens if a global recession drops demand by 5%? Then prices can fall in half or even more, as they did in 1999. Note that the Asian Contagion recession was limited in global terms; the world's largest economies, the U.S. and Europe, were growing robustly even as southeast Asian economies suffered currency and credit contractions.
Even this limited downturn caused oil to drop from over $35/barrel to under $15/barrel. That begs the question: what would happen to oil prices if the major global economies actually shrink rather than grow?
I know, I know, recessions have been officially banned by the Federal Reserve and the other central banks. Uh, right. But let's say the Fed can't stop the U.S. sliding into recession, and the rest of the world declines behind it.
The whole thing sounds a bit hinky to me - a little wishful thinking thrown in for good measure. However, this is not the first time I've heard this theory. The other time? Just last week, listening to Richard A. Muller.
Muller certainly understands that the bulk of the uptick in the price of oil has everything to do with demand in Asia, China & India specifically. So what happens if China has a civil war? I happen to be one of those people who believes that China will have a civil war as their rich get richer and their middle-class inevitably connects with the rest of the world. China is still largely functionally illiterate. But my point is that a lot of things can and probably will go wrong in China. Their economy cannot sustain its current rate of growth. I think they're going to throw a piston. When that happens, watch out.
Aside from that, if we are to have a global recession, Americans will not starve. We'll just forgo some of our back-to-school and Christmas shopping, have another school shooting and buy more weed. But nobody's going to starve. If that's the total cost of kicking off a global recession that lowers the price of gasoline, I think a lot of Americans would be on board.
The other side of this though, is money that is being (or not being) sunken into the extraction of oil from shale. So is the smart money in Canada or not? That's the question, and it's tied to stuff way beyond the horizon. I think there are a number of oil bears who are having a field day as their Peak Oil Scenario is psychologically gaining traction because of woes at the pump, but oil bulls, we haven't heard from.
In the long term, I think it is much more likely that some economic or war event will affect the demand for oil long before the Peak Oil doomsday scenario plays itself out. Last month, demand for gasoline decreased 3% in the US. I sure as hell ain't gonna be driving 120 miles a day much longer.
The more that Jeremiah Wright talks, the better for Obama.
This morning's abstracts of his speech to the National Press Club has begun a wave on the Right of both more concentrated dismissal of him and desparate linking of him to Obama. The first was Laura Ingraham who's now telling jokes about him but recognizing his talent (mutual shill appreciation society) and noting that Wright is going to be doing a Martha Stewart Show. The second was Dennis Prager hanging up on a caller who refused to admit that the Wright-Obama connection is so very legitimate for political debate. The third was some wag at the NYT or WaPo, I forget which, giving some details with incredulity, especially on the Zionism question. The fourth was Andrew Sullivan backtracking his tangential support.
All this says to me is that Wright has finally been given his chance to shine and has revealed himself to be exactly what he is. The more he becomes a living breathing representation of himself, and the less he becomes a series of extrapolated soundbites, the more Obama can breathe. That's because it gives him plenty of time to diss Wright in realtime, which ultimately matters.
Wright has gone ahead and done himself in as trying to represent The Black Church. It's only going to bring more approbation on his head, if the theological discussion takes off at all. Now finally the media and the conversation has gotten to where I suggested it should have gone six weeks ago. What is the black church and how should it be interpreted? Specifically, what kind of spiritual person is Obama and what does it mean for his politics? All this hooey about 'judgment' has been piling on, as I said.
Reasonable people, clearly in the minority, who may have been skeptical about the '20 years' litany, will now have to take a nationally exposed Wright's comments against a nationally exposed new dismissal from Obama. That will work in Obama's slight favor, depending on how long Wright himself can stay in the spotlight. Again, I'm predicting a politically astute Obama doing the right thing for his campaign. If he's smart, he can start highlighting actual members of his policy wonks on a point by point review of Wright's boners, ala -- "people like Rev Wright think X about Israel, my policy wonk Joe has been working with the Israeli government for 20 years etc. and this is how I will deal with opposition to my Israel policy..." Blam. Let's see if Barry is that smart.
Next I'll be listening closer to Wright himself and see exactly where in the rabbit hole he has gone.
I found a YouTuber whose video was attached to mine, a young man who was in the midst of questioning his faith -- getting out to the origins of the universe and all that. He's on the verge of giving up religion entirely - he sees it as a crutch.
I can recall the gripe of youth, and I still gripe about the fact that lots of people pray instead of act. But fortunately my ego was big enough for me to explain such people away. Everyone prays at the end of their personal ability. First people get uncomfortable and then try to avoid the problem, and then if they can't avoid it, they try to get somebody to handle it for them. That's whining. Then when they realize they can't get help, they start cursing. I take cursing to be the leading indicator of a man at his limit. Then comes rage, then comes prayer.
In watching the final episode of John Adams, I kept thinking about how painful it must have been for the man whose lifetime of sacrifices and excruciatingly high standards met with so few rewards, and how he lost his children. To Providence he cast his fate. He had every reason to complain, but did not. Very New England that, I recognize it in my father and in myself. Adams was a man of great faith in himself and also a man of God. I recognize also in him something my father never taught me which is how to extract the right amount of backbone from the words of the Bible.
You see in matters of faith, man seeks to defy death. Faith enables courage, and a wise man's faith gives rise to courage which is neither arrogant nor foolish and yet just as defiant of mortality. To recognize one's value in death as in life is to make the most of one's humanity. It is the essence of honor.
So what I wished to express to the young man losing faith through the skepticism of his fellows' shallow faith is to ask exactly how far the faithless might go, and how much a strong man of faith might go. I asked him to consider the Atheist Soldier. The man who believes in no God, no afterlife. What must he believe in if he were to put his life on the line? He must certainly believe in the works of his life. We speculate in the abstract, but there are surely people of reflection who nevertheless steel themselves for mortal combat - who can face the bullet. That is the power of faith, it makes us vessels of spirit. And which spirit would you be a vessel for? How are you called to duty? Who do you serve?
One who dies so that others might live... I don't need to go on about such heroism. We recognize how it echoes across human time and space. The faith of great men is expressed in their works and in these works they transcend death and might live in spite of temptations. In men of great ability, great faith is required. For the rest of us, yes, faith is little more than a crutch, the last whimpering of a coward who finds no way out.
As most Cobb readers know, my brother Doc is an LAPD officer, and I'm generally pro-cop. I also have a beef with the folks I call 'The Coalition of the Damned' which are, more or less, the folks that show up to make noises against the 'police state' which is 'perpetrating genocide' against black men.
I've looked at this thing from many angles and I think I've made my points coherently. In fact, that's generally the case for all of my conservative politics. I think I've done so well that I am concerned about the quality of my opposition. I have with the Democrat nominees taken some time to evaluate who I thought would make the best candidate. In my estimation it was Bill Richardson, who has recently come over to Team Obama. (Too bad the media cares more about Wright than Richardson, but more on Wright later). In order for my thoughtful and principled arguments to make sense, they must be contrasted with a credible opponent's that make sense. As a side dig, I was waiting to see which of the commenters in the Bell thread would be the first to mention any of the cops by name and make judgments based upon their individuality. It happened to be a defender. So I'm wondering how much of this Sean Bell stuff is signal and how much is noise.
So my question is rather, now what?
I played some Aretha Franklin yesterday to get me in the mood for church. Man that woman could wail. On one of her cuts, it was the Rev Jesse Jackson's unmistakable voice introducing Aretha and her sisters. I didn't even know that Aretha had a bunch of sisters. But I do know that I haven't heard Jackson's voice in some time. He'll be 70 soon. Who is going to back him up?
I've been thinking for some time that the most salutory effect of the candidacy of Barry Obama is that he will have set a standard for black politics that will disqualify an entire class of pretenders. It's not him alone, there are certainly others from Michael Steele to Cory Booker who have raised the bar as well. Certainly it will be a long time before we see another Kwame Kilpatrick as well. Black politics is moving on up to the big time. My question today is how tight is the rear covered?
For some people there is no black politics but the angry sort. That stereotype is based in reality but it's nowhere near the whole picture. What interests me is whether ghetto politics in particular, the strain of complaint that originates from the substandard living and substandard treatment that has been the legacy of a significant number of blackfolks for generations. To my mind, the efficacy and quality of ghetto politics lacks very much the same way today's R&B singers compare shamefully to Aretha in talent and depth.
As I have been considering the Bell case in the ghetto context, I can't help but speculate about the extent to which the ghetto is more likely to replicate men like Bell rather than men like the officers. Neither is to be a paragon of black manhood, but we all know that the cop gets the benefit of the doubt by the system, as it should be. As African America grows and improves, those left behind in the ghetto.. well the talent pool shrinks. I wonder out loud how long the ghetto will remain part of the black lexicon, and I say so in a sort of romantic way. The ghetto we know today will go the way of Moms Mabley and Pigmeat Markham. In a generation we may not understand what's even being said.
Nobody can predict that accurately of course. I recall Ridley Scott's vision of Los Angeles in Blade Runner. Not quite as urban Asian as he predicted. The Asians headed toward their own suburbs like Carson and Cerritos. Hmm. I've been thinking if I might be the man to take the place of Ofari or Joe Hicks here in Los Angeles. But I think things will deflect in a whole new way. The post-civil rights era of black politics was surprised by Barack Obama, but not at all by Jeremiah Wright. Obama will survive and Wright will not. I think there are many more such surprises to come.
As Sixoseven and DJ Dad, I've been mixing music and making compositions on and off for a decade. It basically started because I need to keep knucklehead music out of my kid's ears. So I got some music software and let them in on the fun - making dance, ambient and hiphop tracks. I've recently started up again and I'm burning my fifth album. This one is called Rendition. So I wanted to share a few tracks with y'all. Why? Because I'm keepin' it right.
Check out Bhangra Chubb. I dare you not to bop your head.
Here's another groove, called Groove 74 which is straight for the Smooth Jazz station.
I was looking for a clip on YouTube for that little piece of Chris Rock's act where he talks about the baby on the corner selling crack. I was going to try to inject a little humor into Sean Bell thing. I never did find it, but what I did find was his thing about hiphop being hard to intellectually justify. Then he went on to do something from a Little John song about 'skreet-skreet'. I had no idea what he was talking about. It has been a long time since I listened to hiphop on the radio on the regular. I seem to recall Da Brat, Bone Thugs and Craig Mack as the very last radio hiphop I ever listened to on purpose. Was that 95? Of course everybody loved Lauren Hill and Wyclef and them. And for a while I was always always playing Raggasonic and Chant Down Babylon. Then I started making my own stuff in '97 or so and really that was the end of it.
Still I was impressed by Chris Rock saying he really loved hiphop, and I consciously tried to recall the heartbreak of the whole thing. It has been so long that I only vaguely recall the pain. Besides, starting around the same time, actually the first season of MTV's Real World to be precise, I jumped into alt rock with both feet. It was the Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgarden and Green Day that got me going, and then Blink 182, Offspring, Papa Roach, Linkin Park, Rage Against the Machine, Soul Coughing and Modest Mouse that kept me coming back. Funny, I remember hanging out in Austin and trying to listen to the entire Crash Test Dummies record and I kept saying, no way. It turned out that they were one hit wonders after all.
Now I think about it, I think there was a brief period when I did the Silicon Valley thing that I made some drunk night exceptions for DMX and Ice Cube in his Don Mega period. Good thing I didn't get into any fights in strip clubs.
These days I mostly pay no mind to the man behind the hiphop mask although I've been told that not knowing Mos Def, Common and Kanye West means I'm missing what it means. Eh. What's good will last and I'll catch it it five years on the downstroke. No biggie. I don't miss the dancing or the club at all, and I basically have all the beats I love already. I mostly look at hiphop as badass music and it works nicely on occasion for precisely that mood. But I never really got into the lyricism that deeply. I mean for example, I can think of no finer example of hiphop than Steve Coleman and Metrics. It would have to rank as probably the best hiphop album ever, right up there with Nation of Millions, Miseducation, Stakes Is High & A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing.
The kids listen mostly to the crossover R&B/Pop crap - basically from Black Eyed Peas to whatever derivatives issue forth from that derivation. They have suburban middle school tastes in music (High School Musical, Reliant K), appropriately, although they all recognize a full broad range, and Boy does have a special fondness for New Orleans Jazz and Journey, (and Korn on the DL.) Scholar knows every pop song in the universe. It's freaky. Sprite has awful taste and an awful voice too. So I'm not bumping up against any hiphop other than that kid Chris Brown and whatever breaks into the pop charts. Yech.
Still, I can't tell you how satisfying it is to crank up the beat mixer and put together some tracks. Whenever I get the urge, I can take the verbal poison out of a rockin' beat, and I probably will in the near future as I get going again on the new album. In the meantime, enjoy these track and don't try to sell them for money.
What is the difference between community expectations of black men who happen to be at strip clubs at 4 in the morning? Should they expect them to be cops or johns? That's a tough question in today's political environment. I say we are suffering some deteriorating standards when something like this case raises outrage. I really don't have a lot to say except to raise some points that don't seem to be raised. In particular, what duty does the community have?
From that perspective, and as you might suspect, my sympathies are with the police who were involved in the undercover operation investigating the criminal element that ran the strip club in question. And I am dismayed at the appearance of community members (but who knows where all the protesters came from?) who didn't seem to care whether or not cops put their lives on the line.
Obviously there is no reasonable way to say that Bell deserved to die, because of what we have learned about him in all after the fact. But one does have to weigh the privileges of partying with the responsibilities of law enforcement. Bell's life is not a reasonable price to pay, but I believe everybody walked into this situation with their eyes open.
One more thing. I haven't weighed in on race vis a vis law and order since the Philadelphia black militia. I haven't heard anything updating that situation. But I wonder, in the zeal that many folks had to have black men do some self-policing, what their attitude might be in this particular situation vis a vis policing. Would the strip club be considered off-limits?
Sprite asks (as expected) the most classic kinds of questions. Recently it was whether or not two people can claim to be seeing blue but one actually sees red. How do you know that the blue you see is the same shade as the thing everyone else sees?
Some folks have said this is unprovable. I say it's rather obvious when you think about it evolutionarily. Which is to say what is an eye and why do we have them? What is a brain and how does it work? We don't have to really answer that, but we must certainly recognize that they are not different things in different people. Why would they evolve differently? Which is to say what is the likelihood that some individual would evolve a different kind of vision and what is the evolutionary reason why? If two people have perfectly healthy eyes and correct vision, why would that diverge into a different interpretation of color, or shape, or distance or any other aspect of eye function? There would have to be a biological reason for having red to look blue and a social reason to perceive blue as red.
I argue that it's possible for the premise of red being interpreted as blue but that would be considered a human mutation. The mutation would likely be in the optic nerve. Now I would allow that perhaps some variability in the number and density of rods and cones, like with taste buds, or eardrums would give rise to some actual perceptual differences, and certainly sensitivities would vary in people. But the assumption is that there is no defect, that a standard capable sense, in this case vision, would invert the values of blue and red.
Why would only blue be red? Wouldn't it be more likely that all colors would be inverted? Wouldn't somebody who saw blue as red similarly see black as white? Wouldn't their vision interpretation to be consistent see negative? If they actually saw one color differently, they would have to see all colors differently, primary colors and secondary colors. If red + yellow = orange in normal people then for our mutants, red + yellow would equal green.
Still, we have no objective way of determining the content of another person's thoughts, and only someone who was truly consistent in this regard would be considered the proper mutant.
McCain, apparently, and not that I've been listening or am much concerned at the moment, dissed some Republicans in North Carolina for airing a 'racist' ad. I haven't looked any closer because I expect the story has no legs, except for the following reported at Patterico:
It’s fair to call someone who votes against Obama solely because of his race a racist but there are other reasons than racism someone might vote for McCain. There are people like me who will vote for McCain because I don’t like Obama’s liberal policies, his lack of experience, and his questionable character. That doesn’t make me a racist, except perhaps in David Plouffe-world.
The irony is that this was a throw-away line in the interview. Plouffe was conceding that Obama has lost some voters to McCain, and it’s telling that Plouffe thinks votes have been lost because voters are racists. Clearly Plouffe believes that a segment of McCain’s support comes from one-dimensional racist voters.
That’s a sad and one-dimensional view of the electorate Obama craves to serve. As President, I don’t think Obama the uniter will be motivated to connect with racist McCain supporters … unless they happen to remind him of a racist old uncle.
The full National Journal interview is here.
Limbaugh was mouthing off against McCain on the matter this morning. I turned him off. McCain, I think, is guilty of either pandering or being more stupid than I thought. I tend to believe the former, and I'm not particularly saying much - I think that level of pandering (wrt McCain) on both 'racism' and 'global warming' is basically required to get the attention of a certain fragment of the American electorate.
What's a bit more interesting is that I don't see the pieces as aggregated. That is to say there are very few single issue racial or climatic voters. Rather, all of us have some fraction of our decision weighted on race or climate and a certain amount of pandering gets a certain amount of our support.
The fact that McCain will not get attributed any significant gain among 'the black vote' is demonstrable proof that 'the black vote' is racially motivated. It doesn't mean much only because there's not much meaning anyone can take from this kind of babble. Still it is a consistent indication that we're not really talking about people who aggregate into block bodies, rather that the lot of us angle towards or away from candidates according to these block-like ideas.
As usual, I give McCain the benefit of the doubt, and as usual I am sick to death of all the blather surrounding Jeremiah Wright. As for the Weather Underground? I'll deal with that separately.
Celebrity House Watching
I have a new guilty pleasure and hobby. That's following celebrity real estate deals in Los Angeles. David Geffen, Tom Bosley, Robert Duvall a whole boatload of others are buying and selling their mansions all over the country. This blog takes note. It makes for entertaining reading.
Who? Seriously, I wonder how much the crowd is going to jump and shout over this affair. It is, perhaps, an opportunity to make an interesting point about black police officers, but I'm not going to make it. Such stories shouldn't rise to the level of politics. Support your local police.
I have a physics question. If you get a pound of uranium or some radioactive element, and you know its half-life, why isn't it already half (or more) decayed? The only answer that I can think of is that as the element decays, it becomes something else. I can't remember why I can't remember this.
Of course it was Cecil Adams that made his name answering questions with a wry hand in a thousand syndications. It was one of the many loves of my young adult reading life, a love sparked by the necessity of snappy answers in a stupid world. The world doesn't get any smarter but smart people tend to find each other.
I've had the good fortune to find Richard A. Muller, physics professor, researcher and national security expert lecturing at Cal Berkeley. His lectures are so good that I have temporarily stopped reading Ian Banks and rerouted all of my ipod stuff, as well as my interstitial work surfing. He has a class, Physics 10: Physics for Presidents in which he explains all of the concepts of the important areas of physics without getting down into the math. It plays like the very best documentary ever, except some of the bratty students won't shut up.
I've sent a copy to the little Bowens about what an exciting college course would be like. Scholar, well, she's basically outgrown that nickname and refuses to answer to it. We are on the cusp of Change. I'm thinking Clueless will be her next nickname. Sprite's attention span is not up to snuff, and Boy looks at it just long enough to show he either might actually be interested or he's testing my satisfaction. Fine. I have no geek issues. I'm deep into it.
I highly recommend you take a peek at all of the classes at the Berkeley Webcast page.
This is an entry for reference. It used to come up a lot:
The Curse of Ham (also called the curse of Canaan) refers to the curse that Ham's father Noah placed upon Ham's son Canaan, after Ham "saw his father's nakedness" because of drunkenness in Noah's tent. It is related in the Book of Genesis 9:20-27.
The "curse of Ham" had been used by some members of Abrahamic religions to justify racism and the enslavement of people of Black African ancestry, who were believed to be descendants of Ham. They were often called Hamites and were believed to have descended through Canaan or his older brothers. This racist theory was widely held during the 18th-20th centuries, but it has been largely abandoned since the mid-20th century by even the most conservative theologians.
From Jeremy Pierce:
It was an early Muslims who first (as far as we know) developed the idea that Ham was cursed. I found a quote in Edwin Yamauchi's Africa and the Bible from a Muslim who wrote in the late 7th to early 8th centuries, and the whole view is right there. Noah cursed Ham (not Canaan) by imposing slavery on Africans whenever the descendants of Shem would come across them. It attributes their hair type to the curse as well (but not, interestingly, their skin color, though it does mention their skin color). A 9th century Muslim does bring in a change of skin color because of the curse, and Yamauchi mentions other sources attributing natural slavery to black Africans because of this curse, a view that I'm pretty sure doesn't become entrenched in Europe or the Americas until the slave trade was well under way.
Its first appearance in the colonies isn't long after the British occupied American territory and started importing slaves, but it had been in Europe before that. Various versions of it appear even before the Reformation, as early as the mid-15th century, but that was in formerly-Muslim Portugal regarding the now-enslaved Moors. European theologians generally resisted the idea, and it probably didn't take serious hold until the modern concept of race came into existence through the work of Immanuel Kant and his contemporaries who sought to explain differences in physical features by means of biological essences of different races.
So Muslims, a very dominant form of which has an awful lot of problems with human rights even today, seem to be the initial impetus behind one of the key justifications of European and American slavery of blacks. This doesn't excuse the Europeans and Americans who did it, but Muslim writers were originally responsible for the idea, and it came to the colonies and Europeans via the cotton trade. I think it's time to stop blaming this on Christianity even if there were plenty of Christians who have held this view that originated in Islamic slavery. It's silly enough to blame Christianity for a view that hasn't held sway for most of Christian history but only appeared late and lasted only a couple hundred years before going the way of the dodo except in offshoot groups like Mormons. But if the view originally came from another religion entirely and has been dominant in the members of that religion's justification of slavery, while Christians steadfastly resisted it for centuries before falling sway to it for a few hundred years, I think it's justifiable to claim that those who blame this on Christianity are relying on historical ignorance.
I was kind of shocked to hear about the recently discussed 'psyops' program initiated by the Pentagon. It's a meme flying through the 'sphere as we speak. Apparently, as I read it, a bunch of 'ex-military' heads had been funded to speak to particular media outlets with the answers that the Pentagon wanted out there.
The existence of this program was certainly predictable, what's unusual is the designation of 'psyops'. What is it? Basically spin, and talking point coordinated from a unexpected source, the US Military itself.
In the blogosphere, a number of us wouldn't be writing if we didn't believe that the 'liberal media' or the 'mainstream media' was doing its job. It's certainly the case for me. I saw the necessity of an independent 'black voice' many years ago in the wake of the LA Riots. Actually before, but I turned up the heat afterwards. Just recognizing the difference between what my people knew and thought, what got into local newspapers, what made it to the LA Times and what made it to the NY Times was sufficient to show me clearly that half the story is never told. Part of that is because most people are not subjected to any editorial criticism or review of their opinions outside of the barbershop, and secondly because journalists and academics think that they are the only ones who are. In fact, anybody with an opinion on a sports team could conceivably apply that same critical intelligence to other parts of their life. They could..
Some folks have obviously taken advantage of the various conundrums of information theory and moved to exploit French intellectual theories about 'regimes of truth'. And the internet has accelerated the phenomenon. What is fascinating is how it is taking so long for somebody of the stature of say Bloomberg (of Murdoch for that matter) to step in and go highbrow. Into that gap, opportunists of all capabilities and motivations are offering their 'expert' opinion and insight. We are all somewhat on our own to get what facts and analysis we can handle. I happen to both like and distrust the ensuing chaos.
From my perspective, I have always rather expected what's going on. After all, I grew up in Los Angeles, the most non-hierarchical city in Western Civilization. Everyone here is expected to have their own mythologized personality - their own take on reality and their own neighborhood of that flavor. As you drive from one end to the other, you are expected to deal with people with different cultures, different languages, different means. This is a town of earthquakes, it simply doesn't support large hierarchical structures. You have to navigate the flatlands. I've fallen out of several hierarchical trees, and I trust my legs from running between them with some pity for those in the higher branches who have atrophied theirs. But I don't have the patience to run from pillar to pole just to hear it's all relative. Instead, I'm climbing big old traditional trees.
Information fights. Knowledge is pain.
Barnett again reinforces his view that Obama would be a lot less likely to confront or countermand David Petraeus. This is a tough bit to swallow, and I wish I knew the entire scope of Barnett's Obama narrative, because the fact of the matter is that I like Petraeus more than I like McCain.
(from the archives)
right in the middle of black history month. what a coincidence. we do always need to be reminded. first of all, there are no caps here. why? get over it.
i suppose some folks think that democracy is all about getting elected officials to listen to what ordinary and extraordinary folks have to say when they have been reflective and come forward with a fine idea. and so far, from what i have read in the context of this event, i see that folks are being expository. me, i'm going to try and be conversational because i believe democracy begins with people listening to each other.
i must say that i have had a hard time getting up the energy for this cyber-event. and even though i was one of the privileged of the priveleged that heard about this bit of activism before the general privileged got word..
in other words, just like with being black in black history month, i was absorbed with practicing democracy rather than writing about idealized froms. but i decided to get in under the deadline for the 24 hour democracy virus. why? because i want a lot of people to visit my website. why? because it is fundamentally aimed at the guts of democracy - thinking, speaking out and organizing & because it's easier than visiting my neighborhoods. why visit my neighborhoods? because that's where the people are, and democracy begins with listening to each other.
other than being busy, i have also been cynical. i recall the last time i was privileged to be invited to speak-out at a speak-out. it was this rally thing in san francisco. actually i was just generally invited. at the moment, i'm no particular celebrity voice (because i'm busy!) and my speaking out generally goes on in lower case. i was dissatisfied with the results (we got an indecent proposal) and i felt even more marginalized as i stood up on a park bench in my business suit surrounded by the glitz of multimedia gulch than i did in my anti-gulf war protests. it's no fun being right and unknown. it's even worse when it's pitifully obvious. plus our side lost. but of course, aluta continua.
i also remember this gnarly thing that a cool cat named malamud invited me to. congress was going to go online and listen to us. that time i had prepared a nice rant about direct representation . but then there was some complication involving sprint and the whole thing collapsed. so i've decided that e-rants to congress in general are a waste of bits, besides i'd rather talk to you.
i have decided not to try and impress you with my ability to quote sages. most of them don't hang out in usenet ghettoes, so they are not accustomed to being told that they are a bunch of whining monkeys. which leads to my first soundbite:
nobody has any authority to change the character of discussion unless they are present in that discussion at all times.
doesn't sound very impressive does it? i guess i can't figure out a simple way to express the common thread i see as a problem in our democracy, which actually has little to do with the materiality of cyberspace, but more with the difficulty involved in understanding what motivates people to get involved in politics in the first place.
i have concentrated over the past few years in trying to understand how it is that conversations become law. how is it that some conversations get the credibility to become a guiding principle (or at least a strong meme) such that people are drawn to it and begin to think along the lines of that conversation?
well, i hardly have room to explain what i have found. but, i have concluded that in order to rectify a great number of our society's ills:
In my view the editorial style and physical limitations of what we call newspapers force researchers into particular ways of seeing things that lack the authenticity of the voice of people, African Americans, especially. The very manner in which newspapers and televised journalistic reports are assembled are biased to profess the false objectivity of journalists who themselves have become a very powerful class of Americans. This bias for me has become unendurable and I find it most annoying to parse through a multiplicity of papers to get at the truth. Having done so, the truth I arrive at seems much the product of oppositional cross-examination of institutions with much to hide. Yet often there are odd spots of writing I happen upon which ring with the flavor of authentic experience. It is this type of information that gives me the confidence that the world is indeed populated by human beings who can understand and explain it and do so out of genuine curiosity and love.
B intends to be full of authentic works of genuine intent centering at this point on African American contemporary experience. Much of the flavor of African American culture is lost and or destroyed by the positioning of journalistic efforts presenting a 'positive' or 'revolutionary' or even 'educational' stances. In addition to what I have already mentioned about 'objectivity' in the day to day chronicling of the experiences of us in the world, these tropes deaden the experience of reading into unidimensionality. B by its orientation and physical nature will seek to overcome such unidimensionality. By extension this loss of 'native intellect' and 'flavor' masks the strenuous efforts of journalists and editors to be disinterested. Yet it is precisely the interest which provokes people into being interested and that is what B seeks to capture at the source. Contributions to B are fairly free as B seeks to be what everyone who contributes wants. In Certainly this multimedia project will have it's own bias, but since I have stated it clearly (I hope) above, we can start cleanly.
One more note before I get into whatever comes next here. B is experimental. B seeks to be an extended editorial page which is constructed such that it becomes gradually intellectually liberating for its participants. Thus in some ways B can be seen as a club and all as equal members as they contribute. As editor I seek to structure B according to my own evolving sense of liberation pedagogy following the theory and works of Paulo Friere, bell hooks and Cornel West. These three intellectuals currently most convey formally to my knowledge the spirit of what I am personally attempting to meliorate through the many facets of B. nuff said.
i took this idea to usenet. and over time, the arena became so poison that i realized i would never get to the point at which the meat of my concept could present itself. the authentic flavor became the everyday battles for black folks to try and discuss issues of concern to them in the midst of a racist flame war. i got 2 issues and folded.
cyberspace itself presents problems. in fact it can impede freedom. but it also can provide opportunity, because as stanley crouch said, you never know where nobility is coming from. there are nuggets of nobility in cyberspace, and i thought i could reveal some.
finally, i started the cool zone, and became a one man show. others have picked up where b started, and as time goes on more of this authentic flavor will surface, netside and outside.
but in the cool zone in particular i picked up a couple of themes which center around that large process of bringing authentic questions people have about themselves and how they relate to their communities and to their country. i've tried to bring focus to the elements, flavor, bastions, peoples and parables in that mix. these are the fundamentals of citizenship and the guts of democracy and they reflect struggles that go on from generation to generation.
i see the establishment of this refinement as part of an historical imperative for my generation. it is not necessarily about some clear, well-abstracted principles. it doesn't fit nicely anywhere. it just is what it is. and so i point you to it in this moment of visibility. that's what our democracy is all about. me talking to you. me listening to you.
I rode first class back from Ohio to Chicago, it was a cheap upgrade, and there I found a fashion magazine called The Atlantan. It has been years, many years since I read any society pages with interest. Not since I married in fact. And as I checked these out, it made me think that there is some halfway decent chance that my kids wedding would be announced and all that. I would be the frowning hardball industrialist in this imaginary future, letting my kids play in that socialite pool.Who are black socialites and what are they doing?
It's not over til it's over. Some folks are saying that Obama is winning because he lost by a much narrower margin than expected. It's a reverse of South Carolina race wise but not a landslide for Clinton. I'm now just spoiling for a brokered convention and some fistfights on the floor. Issues are really disappearing in this soap opera.
For the first time ever, I watched about 20 minutes of Spanish language TV last night. There was this show called 'Alarma TV'. It reminded me that American journalists generally abide by a policy of not showing dead bodies on TV or in newspapers. The folks on Channel 12 have no such compunctions. The lead story was a woman with 60 inch boobs crushing beercans with them. Not just ordinary beercans, those big Foster's 40s. Astonishing. Next was a dead woman, a victim of domestic violence. They basically rolled the body around showing all of the tortuous things done to her which apparently included busting up her mouth with a bottle of some sort - they pulled glass and teeth out during the segment.
‘We in Denmark cannot figure out why you are even bothering to hold an election.
On one side, you have a b*tch who is a lawyer, married to a lawyer, and a lawyer who is married to a b*tch who is a lawyer.
On the other side, you have a true war hero married to a woman with a huge chest who owns a beer distributorship.
Is there a contest here?’
"Iraq today is now the most important arena in
which our Muslim nation is waging the battle against the forces of the
Crusader-Zionist campaign. Therefore, backing the mujahidin in Iraq,
led by the Islamic State of Iraq, is the most important task of the
Islamic nation today.” -- Ayman al-Zawahiri, audio message, April 18,
I myself haven't been listening to the Democrat debates. I'll just be glad when one of those gladiators bites the dust so we can finally take one of them seriously. For making our domestic life an order of magnitude more interesting, Obama is the obvious choice. For keeping the world safe for democracy, Clinton gets the nod. But I've not heard satisfactory answers from either of them on the posture of their Left supporters who pretended to support the war in Afghanistan.
So, from the horses mouth is where we are today. Iraq is AQ priority number one. US troops remain in Iraq at the urgent request of the Iraqi government. Iraq is our ally and, second to Israel, the strategically most important democracy in the Middle East, a weak state now, but a potentially strong one. Iran is doing its damnedest to undermine Iraq. How do you deal with all that?
I'm also rather interested to hear which people the Democrats consider their insiders with all the Arabic speaking skills... Are they thinking about re-populating the State Department?
Scientific Animism is a term I invented a couple decades ago. I have since learned that in marketing, the phenomenon is well known and it is called 'transference'. But basically the idea is that people believe things because they believe they are being scientific when in fact they are depending on a rite of presentation which is 'scientific-istic'.
My classic example of scientific animism is a food nutritional label. People avoid calories or fat because they believe this is good for them. They read the food labels and trust them because they accept the bona fides of the packaging in that it is scientific. A scientific-istic sounding organization is behind it. If we didn't believe that scientists were working at the FDA, we wouldn't trust the label - even though we have no idea what the scientists do. If it were voodoo priestesses who told us how much LDL cholesterol were in our butter, we'd be skeptical. But none of us recognize cholesterol molecules under a magnifying glass. The science itself it totally opaque. We trust something because it is scientific on faith.
This is rather the crux of the global warming, er nuclear winter, er radical climate change, er mini ice age, debate today. Very few of us recognize what air pollution actually is. We take the weather reports on faith, and fewer and fewer homes have thermometers and fewer still have barometers. We don't know how to measure air pollution or water pollution.
Stewardship of the earth, or even of your front lawn, requires that you go out there and do it, not that you transfer faith in the packaging of the planet to the contents therein. We cannot change the environment nor be responsible to it through consumer choices. 'Eco-friendly' labeling on consumer products should be met with as much skepticism as 'low-tar' on cigarettes.
Alright. Here it is, Bam!
For my birthday this year, I am going to kick off an old man's club for real. The first official event is perfectly timed - Friday June 13th at the Gibson (Universal) Amphitheater. Return to Forever concert.
I have a small block of tickets and I'm offering them to my friends at a discount. I cannot think of a fair way to notify any and everybody I know, or how to choose among those whom I think might be interested to go on their own or whatever. So the first blast announcement goes out here on the blog. You have my email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) so let me know here or there if you're down. First come, first served.
The plan is for some good eats, drinking, smoking and carousing, and of course the ultimate jazz fusion band. I haven't picked a restaurant or bar but that might even be democratic. If you miss the first pass, tickets are still on sale and I want to see you anyway.
I have never in my life thought of anything so incredibly vile as this woman Shvarts has decided to call art. There have been a few things in life that have grossed me out, and I can think of two of them. But this thing Shvarts was trying to do takes disgusting to a whole new plateau.
I understand evil. I understand that there can be beauty in destruction. I understand exploitation of the self, and even to a certain extent, self-mutilation. But if I ever understand this thing... wow. Just wow.
I will not publish any links. Just Google it yourself.
I wrote to Ron Howell Thursday:
I often fancy myself a lapsed Catholic. There are few things that seem so intellectually appealing than the stories of naifs who throw their faith out with the bathwater of youth. Coming of age, I imagine especially at an Ivy League school seems so dramatic and complete. And yet it is also consistent that the apostates and prodigals must all inevitably stand in awe of the majesty of the True Church, ever afraid to handle a wrenching pennance that must await them upon their ever delayed but often considered return.
I say that I like that romance because I had all the trappings and few of the privileges of Catholicism, I attended Columban and Jesuit schools but missed my Catechism. I was a spy in the house of God and eventually confirmed Episcopalian. But I have been looking at the liberation of my Church with the same skepticism of African Anglicans and wonder if it was a good idea. And here with the monumental intellect of B16, hooo boy, sometimes I wonder if I'm right at all.
There's something easy about Protestantism and I must confess that I've had my fill of Jesus freaks, megachurches and jacklegs of all sorts. The Baptist Church around the corner from me changed their name to reflect a beachy lifestyle, and they get their liturgy from a company in Indiana that comes complete with Karaoke and Powerpoint presentations. It's all a little flaky to me. Why? Because I've seen the discipline of the rite. I've prayed the Stations of the Cross, I've known the calendar of Epiphany and wondered where the bells went in the Episcopal church after the Mystery of Faith. I understand, recognize and respect the discipline of the Catholic Church. It was LOGICAL. And that logic was not a post-hoc rationalization of this or that oddment, it was real theology practiced by very intelligent men, who by the way taught me computer programming, biology and physics too. You don't often think of that in any other religion do you?
I don't know if or how I will get back to Catholicism, but I have a feeling it may be inevitable. The more time I spend with other sorts of Christians, the less I believe they really understand the nature of Christ. That's the most frightening idea I have to occasionally contemplate. Why? Because I know that there is a Catholic priest somewhere with a very intelligent and logical answer that could also be one that satisfies my soul. And that is the fear I think every lapsed Catholic must face; I hear it in your voice brother, because I know it in my own.
Tooley speculates on the role of luck in our fortunes. It's an interesting piece. Makes me think.
Back in the mid 80s when I was doing internships at Xerox, I can remember a particularly gorgeous sunny afternoon in El Segundo in which I had one of my interesting epiphanies. Because it was at that moment that I realized that I was in the American middle class, for real. I was listening to a radio commercial about a vacation or something that I grew up thinking was just 'for rich white people' and I realized that I had enough money to go. And then I suddenly started looking at a bunch of TV commercials for American Express and all other types of yuppie conveniences and I realized that I was that demographic. They were targeting me. I also smuch up that epiphany with another memory of vaguely the same period when I cashed a check for two weeks work or some such instead of putting it in the bank. I walked out of the credit union with over 700 dollars cash in my pocket. I felt like the richest dude in sight. And it took about 15 seconds for my ghetto senses to start tingling and tell me to get in my car quick. But I fought them and strolled for a while.
Well yesterday with the pile of bills I got my annual Social Security update, which is always fun for me because I get to look back on the days when I made $9,000 in a year and all the years (up to 1987) when I made less money in a year than I now pay in taxes.
Now I'm looking at 1987 in particular, and that year I made about 23K. In retrospect it seems like a very small amount of money as compared to what it felt like making it. And yet, my friend and I used to joke about the Southern California poverty line of 36K, under which you could not have a reasonable expectation of driving a reasonably safe automobile and buying a house in a reasonably safe neighborhood. I can recall my own despair at how I was living - below that line. But that was simply a blow to my ambition, not my actual life. I was 26 and had no plans on getting married any time soon. I looked to the black managers I knew as role models and dreamed of climbing the corporate ladder back in those Cosby Show days.
I can recall a dude who called my girl his 'friend'. He was already flipping houses in the real-estate business. Keepin' it real, he reminded me of all the white collar bullshit I was eating while getting paid next to nothing. I can recall the few brothers who could afford to tell me that Affirmative Action was a joke and that all my and my peers' Nordstrom wearing, proper talking, 94.7 The Wave listening, used BMW driving bullshit was... well bullshit. Somehow I managed to pay them no mind. I was thick and tight with my crew, engineers mostly, and we had our pride. But I understood the role I was playing.
It's a standard black cliche where I come from: "We didn't realize how poor we were." We didn't feel poor, we didn't act poor, although we probably should have after a manner of thinking. And of course I wouldn't trade those days for all the tea in China. But one thing I've always considered to be absolutely true and yet unknown, perhaps unspoken and generally unwritten was how confident it felt to be where we were. Call it whatever you like, there was a strong sense that things were not going to fall apart for us. We had social and cultural reinforcement from each other. A lot of that was and is deeply all about the kind of attention we paid to our social life - like Stuff Black People Like Item Number One - we liked black people, each other. We had our eyeballs out creating and maintaining our social space as the people we were, and that meant an elaborate set of values, styles, linguistic twists, dances, fashions, politics, habits and all that. There may not be, in the larger scheme of things, a whole lot to say about the society of black middle-class yuppy twentysomethings making 20-40K per year, but you couldn't convince us of that.
It was more than luck. It was a lot of experience with a lot of black success and an ability to get some social recognition amongst ourselves from that. Even if the only thing we could do was form social hierarchies between ourselves and those blacks we didn't wish to associate with, we had the power to let that distinction motivate us. Such practices go against the politics of racial unity, then again, our parents had certain expectations of us. Family trumps politics. No apologies. It was choice. All of us decided who we wanted to be to our fellow blackfolks. All of us knew what we could get away with, and we did it like we wanted to.
Our joint, The Golden Tale, was a leveling playing field. Because basically you either look like a fool on the dance floor or you don't. There's not much all those yuppie trappings can do for you. You cannot yell over the music what degree you have or what kind of car you drive without looking like Dork #5 from She's Gotta Have It. You either have the moves or you hold up the wall. Young black folks from all over the county came to the Tale. Was it us that drew them or was it them that drew us? It didn't much matter - that was the black single universe, white collar, blue collar, pro athlete, ex-con, players, haters, and everyone in between. Everybody knew what everybody's choices meant, and the social climbing still worked in the standard American way. No surprises whatsoever.
I call that Dancing in Suits, because back in those days, before Ice Cube changed the rules of the game, no matter how long you had been in the slam, even if you dared to take your pink rollers off in the parking lot, black men put on their best clothes on Friday night. Besides... we had bouncers. This para is from my never finished novel that I started writing back in 1990...
From today's LAT, emphasis mine:
Hoping to find a successor to popular Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and end the decadelong shellacking that most other Republicans have suffered when running for statewide office, a group of GOP leaders and well-heeled donors Wednesday announced plans to stock a "farm team" of candidates they hope will put their party back in power.
The organization includes former Gov. Pete Wilson and a crew of moderate Republican donors from Orange County.
Although they insist that potential candidates will be judged by their quality and electability -- not their ideology -- some conservatives are already critcizing the move as an attempt to undermine their leadership in the party.
California Republicans Aligned for Tomorrow will work with the California Republican Party to find candidates for governor, U.S. Senate and state office seats starting in 2010, when Schwarzenegger terms out of office.
Among the potential gubernatorial candidates courted by the group is former EBay Chief Executive Meg Whitman, the 51-year-old billionaire who is now campaigning for Republican presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain and once served as a fundraiser for his rival, Mitt Romney, according to one source.
It gets better.
Hudson noted that a number of the Republican group's board members also belong to the New Majority, which was founded primarily by Orange County executives who for years have tried to nudge the party away from social conservatives and their emphasis on issues such as abortion and gun rights.
Also, many members of the new group have close ties to Schwarzenegger...
That's what I'm talking about.
I'm doing more reading than writing. Time is short these days. But what's on my mind are those thinkers who are transcending politics and yet philosophically oriented towards the principles which our politics ought to enable and energize. Benedict XVI continues to speak directly to me, as The Anchoress relates:
Looking again at the text of Pope Benedict’s White House address, I was struck by how serious were his remarks within the context of such a short speech given amid such pomp, particularly here:
Historically, not only Catholics, but all believers have found [in America] the freedom to worship God in accordance with the dictates of their conscience, while at the same time being accepted as part of a commonwealth in which each individual and group can make its voice heard. As the nation faces the increasingly complex political and ethical issues of our time, I am confident that the American people will find in their religious beliefs a precious source of insight and an inspiration to pursue reasoned, responsible and respectful dialogue in the effort to build a more humane and free society.
This is a very interesting paragraph in light of the fact that Europe is slowly losing its ability to dialogue about faith (or about much of anything) in the face of its own laws — which suppress free speech in the name of “tolerance” — and its intimidated response to an aggressive strain of Islamic fundamentalism that continually preaches blood over brotherhood. Europe, which twice in the 20th century needed rescuing from totalitarian jackboots, is rather quickly becoming subjugated again; it is a place where Bridget Bardot can be legally prosecuted for daring to express her own thoughts and filmmakers, writers and artists must quell their own voices or submit to a life in hiding, where Shari’a law is making inroads because western law - and lawmakers - are standing aside for it and hoping to stay out of the crosshairs.
Like his predecessor John Paul II, who lived as a slave under the Nazi’s and then had to preach and teach in the sight of the restrictive communists, Benedict knows what it is to live under tyranny. As a 14 year old seminarian he was forcibly conscripted into the Hitler Youth, from which he deserted, hiding until he was found by Americans and taken as a prisoner of war. Benedict is likely the last 20th Century man standing in a position of world power, and his voice is one of experience and personal knowledge. He has been a witness to the power of hope and faithfulness over tyrants and terrorists, and he is telling us something very important, very serious:
The preservation of freedom calls for the cultivation of virtue, self-discipline, sacrifice for the common good and a sense of responsibility towards the less fortunate. It also demands the courage to engage in civic life and to bring one’s deepest beliefs and values to reasoned public debate. In a word, freedom is ever new. It is a challenge held out to each generation, and it must constantly be won over for the cause of good (cf. Spe Salvi, 24).
[The Church] is convinced that faith sheds new light on all things, and that the Gospel reveals the noble vocation and sublime destiny of every man and woman (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 10). Faith also gives us the strength to respond to our high calling, and the hope that inspires us to work for an ever more just and fraternal society.
I know certain of the waitstaff around here don't often recognize where I'm coming from, as they serve their distasteful brick-tasting sandwiches. But here is a clue.
“For all the woes of segregation, there were some good things to come out of it,” Cosby and Poussaint write. “One was that it forced us to take care of ourselves. When restaurants, laundries, hotels, theaters, groceries, and clothing stores were segregated, black people opened and ran their own. Black life insurance companies and banks thrived, as well as black funeral homes … Such successes provided jobs and strength to black economic well-being. They also gave black people that gratifying sense of an interdependent community.” Although the authors take pains to put some distance between themselves and the Nation of Islam, they approvingly quote one of its ministers who spoke at a call-out in Compton, California: “I went to Koreatown today and I met with the Korean merchants,” the minister told the crowd. “I love them. You know why? They got a place called what? Koreatown. When I left them, I went to Chinatown. They got a place called what? Chinatown. Where is your town?”
The notion of the Great Fall, and the attendant theory that segregation gave rise to some “good things,” are the stock-in-trade of what Christopher Alan Bracey, a law professor at Washington University, calls (in his book, Saviors or Sellouts) the “organic” black conservative tradition: conservatives who favor hard work and moral reform over protests and government intervention, but whose black-nationalist leanings make them anathema to the Heritage Foundation and Rush Limbaugh. When political strategists argue that the Republican Party is missing a huge chance to court the black community, they are thinking of this mostly male bloc—the old guy in the barbershop, the grizzled Pop Warner coach, the retired Vietnam vet, the drunk uncle at the family reunion. He votes Democratic, not out of any love for abortion rights or progressive taxation, but because he feels—in fact, he knows—that the modern-day GOP draws on the support of people who hate him. This is the audience that flocks to Cosby: culturally conservative black Americans who are convinced that integration, and to some extent the entire liberal dream, robbed them of their natural defenses.
Coates is my new joint. I'll be following his blog very much like that of the late lamented Maxambit. Coates speaks my language and tone. In his Cosby emerges a complex picture of a man we all are going to be talking about for a long time. What's particularly interesting to me is how Cosby has managed to distinguish himself not as a politician and yet has become defining of the most important political and cultural questions facing black America. For all the talk about Obama's ability to change America, notice how Cosby challenges us, whereas Obama courts us, invites us towards slogans.
Speaking of Obama, I must confess that this morning my daily song (every morning I wake up with a different song in my head, it's a lovely thing) reminded me of him. The song? Michael Jackson's Man in the Mirror.
Here is a very insightful radio show that give us a look at new controversies that we may see as the Jamiel's Law movement moves forward.
The argument has basically boiled down to this. Now that communities are moving forward to deport convicted Mexican nationals who are here illegally there is some fuss about the administrative turnover. For example, if you serve your sentence for DUI or burglary or whatever and you have been determined by local law enforcement or the courts to be an illegal alien, BUT the Feds don't know, you may be held in detention while the paperwork gets done. The rules for local/federal cooperation on this matter is 48 hours max detention. But sometimes there's a backlog. In PG County, there were more that 60 prisoners ready to be released to the Feds that ICE hadn't processed. In steps the civil rights attorney and you can guess where it goes from there.
The larger problem was succinctly stated. With 12-20 million illegal immigrants in America and just a couple thousand folks to deal with them, the Feds require the leverage of local law enforcement. But local law enforcement may have a reputation for racial profiling, and the somewhat ridiculous charge here of 'using language' to tell if somebody might be Mexican.
What's also hilarious in a dark sort of way is that the civil rights attorney in this broadcast is charging that her clients rights are being trampled because ICE doesn't process their paperwork, or doesn't even have paperwork for them. The result? They get lost in a detention and prison system without proper identification. Ya think?
Into the never ending battle between the DuBoisians and the Washingtonians steps Barry Obama, a DuBoisian to his very soul. I see him very clearly as an exemplar of the Talented Tenth. His formula makes sense.
What I didn't say in this video was the extent to which Obama sees men made in material ways. This was Dennis Prager's insight yesterday. I think that too is a conceit of the Talented Tenth and speaks to its Marxist orientation. If you believe that governments are instituted among beasts and through their operations such beasts are made men, then you are of the sort of materialist who is bound to be frustrated and bitter in such a way that captures you for Obama. Thus you would see the very necessity of Obama or a similar Left rescue operation.
So again we have a very interesting week but this time I think Obama the man emerges a lot clearer.
I'm retiring several of my research notebooks over the next week or so, as they are not relevant to current and future events. But I will archive them here on the blog for future reference.
City Councilman Dennis Zine has read us right. That's responsive and responsible politics. The LA Times actually fairly accurately reports:
"If an officer stops an individual . . . who is determined to be a gang member, and it's determined they are also illegally here, then the department should notify immigration," Zine said. "It directs the resources against the gangs. Immigration needs to use its resources to go after gangs."
Zine's proposal would not overturn Special Order 40, which states that "officers shall not initiate police action with the objective of discovering the alien status of a person." But Zine's amendment would be more specific as to how officers can inquire into the immigration status of suspected gang members.
LAPD Deputy Chief Sergio Diaz said such actions were not directly prohibited by Special Order 40. Some officers already check the immigration status of gang members they detain -- but others don't because they believe it's not permitted under department rules.
Diaz said the new rules would spell out how officers deal with such cases.
"Special Order 40 prohibits only two things. It prohibits our officers from arresting individuals for illegally entering the country, which is a federal misdemeanor," Diaz said. "It also does not allow our officers to initiate an investigation solely for the purpose of discovering a person's immigration status."
I was on the radio with Deputy Chief Diaz, and he admitted that jurisdiction and rules can be complex. This clarification is an excellent first step that makes the PD more proactive. It gets more bad guys off the street quicker - a one-two punch.
I still suspect that there's a bottleneck somewhere in the judicial and penal end of this train of criminal custody. That gangbanger can be detained and arrested, but if ICE throws up their hands, as Villaragosa rather flippantly asserted last week, then there can still be suspects floating through the cracks and illegals sent back to American streets. What is not clear is the efficiency with which such persons, identified as in the country illegally are actually deported. I don't think that the reform's most critical feature is in aggressive policing, but in fast-tracking those known Mexican national convicts back to Mexico.
I am glad to see Deputy Chief Diaz do his part in this and I hope and expect that people who are specifically concerned about a chilling effect on other illegal immigrants cooperation with police recognize that the distinction between those who might be on an eventual path towards naturalization and gangbangers is a sound and reasonable distinction. Nobody should live in fear of gangs in America. You can be a good neighbor even if you are not a citizen.
Support your local police.
Finished my taxes in about 5 hours. Last year was pretty good. I've done better, I've done worse. The good news is that I should get a little back, the bad news is I know I'm not maximizing my potential. Anyway, my Federal tax burden was effectively 14.69%. That's pretty damned good. For the state it was just over 9%.
Right Radio is all over Obama's pledge to be the candidate of the bitter. I think the circle of contempt is clear. All we need is for Barry to find some people who are as mad as hell and not going to take it anymore and we'll be right back with McCain as Nixon supporting the silent majority.
Obama's characterization of the denizens of 'Pennsyltucky' is perfectly consistent with those in Trinity's congregation and uplift programs. He wants the disaffected vote, and being the Leftiest candidate, he should be certain to get it. What the Right cannot stand is that this is Obama's America. Limbaugh this morning chimed in saying that Middle America *is* bitter, but bitter about the things that have been denied them because of the Left.
How many clowns can pile out of the bittermobile? We'll give it a week.
"Humankind still lives in prehistory everywhere, indeed everything awaits the creation of the world as a genuine one... if human beings have grasped themselves, and what is theirs, without depersonalization and alienation, founded in real democracy, then something comes into being in the world that shines into everyone's childhood and where no one has yet been -- home."
In the third episode of the HBO Miniseries John Adams, Adams is appointed to be the Ambassador to Great Britain. He is therefore summoned to see the King as his first act of office. In one of the most extraordinary scenes of the series, Adams approaches King George.
As the door to the throne room is opened, the king is not seated on the throne but standing to its left, leaning slightly on it. Adams draws a breath as he realizes that he is now in the presence of the man whose actions have determined all of Adams renown by virtue of his struggle against them. And now he must bow. Thrice as he approaches, he bows, and finally the camera rests on the humbling stare of King George. The expression of the actor portraying the king and the way the sequence was directed are an art of perfection. It captures the very serene contempt and the absolute power of the British empire in a matter of seconds. I myself even held my breath. It is a striking moment and instantaneously recognizable, here is a supreme ruler who doesn't blink. It is as if one is staring at a portrait as the king remains with a fixed expression through a continuing period of silence in which it is realized that Adams is both capable of causing an offense which might cost him his life, and simultaneously incapable of arousing, on his own merit, the slightest emotion or disturbance in the king's countenance.
As an American, cousin to the British and inheritor of their language, customs and laws, I have often reflected on my attraction to its Empire. I am consistently impressed by portrayals of duty to Great Britain, not only in books and films, such as Master and Commander, but by the haughty bearing and dignity I have found in many members of the Caribbean Commonwealth. As deeply impressed as we Americans seem to be of our science, technology and dollars, there is a great much to be said about a people who conquered the seas without so much as a digital watch. So I am always mindful of the extent to which, having attended a prep school which endeavors to inculcate values more transcendent than those communicated in an SAT score, we Americans do not have such old school or old boy loyalties and deference to character. It is, after all, character that makes all achievement possible - science and technology are just foundries and toolsets. We should be mindful that Kim Jong Il has science and technology too.
The past several months, as Obama has jumped through some perfunctory hoops and America has jumped to some stereotypical conclusions, I have just about had my fill, once again, with the ignorance on race. But I still linger on to offer some insight and criticism. It turns out that Obama's recent turn to mess with the 'bitter' Pennsylvanians demonstrates another aspect of emergent leadership that is tragically outre. And I see it as a symptom of his in particular and much of black leadership in general, and that is the requirement at some point, to put people down - people you would deign to lead.
I'm going to be particularly aware of this as I pursue my studies in British history. I have said that my heroes of leadership are three, Stephen Biko, Teddy Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, each to their own nation. What was strikingly admirable about Biko was the passage I read about his speech in a stadium. He never stood on the stage, but hunted as he was by his mortal enemies, he took the microphone into the crowd and disappeared amongst the throng gathered. The act symbolized much to me, a man of the people, literally, who didn't need to stand on a platform to be heard, but instead led from within.
I don't know that leadership needs some objective re-evaluation by me, but I notice what I notice. And what I am noticing is the extent to which a lot of black leadership is irresponsible to whitefolks. It might be the very definition of black leadership, 'get whitey', I'm not sure. It seems something of a hallmark that often black men and women who heed the call of service in The Struggle develop a sort of tin ear to other forms. It's as if I were to present a young black man as a musical genius. If I were asked what kind of music he knows, my answer would be "funk, hiphop, soul, r&b, gospel and jazz of course - what other kind of music is there? Black leaders are provincial. In developing their skills under the presumptions of the race raising prerogatives of the Talented Tenth, they limit their abilities in the wider world. This is insufficient and irresponsible.
Fish do swim in water and there is no such thing as a neutral race. And so it can be argued that there is no such thing as a human, or universal flavor. In opposition to my claim that black leadership is provincial such a case could be made that the British were only arrogant in seeking to dominate the globe and made no accommodation for other sorts. They kept on guard against going native and had a tin ear for other forms. That is all certainly implicit in the stare of King George. And so black leadership should make no concession to accommodate all that outside of itself; our music is the only music that matters and the rest are pagans. Yet the fact remains that there is an active presumption within American history for equality and in the context of American citizenship blacks have no choice. We might like to be a nation, but we are not. Black nationalism is little more than a sentimental orientation - the black state has failed, the black nation never materialized, black power is dead. Starkly now, the evidence is in, we must be Americans. So within that context, if we presume to desire equality, then it means nothing more or less than equality under the law. If we presume to desire freedom, then it means nothing more or less than freedom under the American law - that is our liberty. Liberty is a product of nations, and we are one nation. Black leadership that does not effectively lead whites and inspire them equally is not the leadership of liberty at all. It is little more than acknowledgment of that old dead black power sentimental orientation. It's a head bob on the street trying to make a dollar out of 15 cents.
If we African Americans had formed a black nation, we would be
petitioning ourselves for remediation of our social woes. If we were a
black nation we could have the arrogance of power and could stare down
those who would dare challenge our right to lead. But in so many ways,
we are not. In so many instances we are a broken home resenting but
needing the call to government services. Gerald Early called it 'lure
and loathing' - the black desire for the treasures of America - treasures not of our own creation. Toni Morrison recognized it as the eternal burden of the rescued, like Robinson Crusoe's servant saved from being hunted by his own. We assume these burdens as blacks rescued by America only to the extent that we have accepted a separate destiny as blacks in America. This is black guilt. The humbling experience of holding out for a black hand from above that never came, and finally casting about for a white one instead.
We African Americans are not going to get our black nation. We are going to get America for better or for worse, one family at a time if we are fortunate enough to hold our families together or one person at a time in our individual revelation. And on that basis we will lay appropriate claim to our inheritance of liberty and equality. We cannot be and represent our people in any racial or cultural aggregation because our power was never even power over ourselves. It was broken from the start. We cannot be 'where we came from' even though we should never forget. We have to be about the dream, and we have to be about supporting that for everyone. We have to be about adding our straw to the pillars of Constitutional principles - to show and prove that we are the same men for whom all that works. We cannot remain unreconstructed. There is no organic, racial or tribal path to liberty. Liberty is only achieved through cooperation and in defense of mutual obligations. We must construct our way to it and comport ourselves for it. Remember your Benjamin Franklin, we must all hang together or most certainly we will hang separately.
John Adams bowed thrice without scraping and realized that he stood
before the king to which he had been a subject all of his life, and
Adams would never be his equal. Even in stepping out from under his
rule, he recognized their brotherhood in Western Civilization. The
continuum of British and American life in jurisprudence was clear, as
were all of the customs and culture. He and his peers were the last
successful American rebels. It falls to us, if we are to enjoy and
defend those fruits to bear witness to the the true nature of our
inheritance. To properly inherit, one must be properly respectful heirs.
I have grown up in the traditions of math and science, mostly out of
passion but certainly out of the recognition that such skills are a
respecter of intellect and reason over person. As an African American I
surely realized that my fortunes would be more secure in such a field,
as contrasted with one which necessitated the force of personality. I
grew up understanding that this was a racist country - a country that
would kill Martin Luther King Jr, a country that would burn for it. And
in my youth I was taught to have faith in the future, a future that
would be determined by scientific advance. So my education did not look
to the liberal arts. I have struggled to balance that and have by hard
work and good fortune come to a better understanding of history and
politics than I might have hoped. I know how much of America I once
dismissed with contempt for a lack of a black presence in it. That lack
has been synonymous with injustice, unprovable perhaps but generally
assumed. Accordingly, I have believed that anything that produced black
success 'in America' was just by definition and thus have justified my
participation in Talented Tenth projects, not merely for the love I
have for blackfolks, but for the transcendent purposes of justice - to
prove America could be improved and as a running critique of America
itself. But in pursuit of those race raising efforts, I recognized how
a lack of shared values among blacks could scuttle any plans in
practical and ethical ways. Therefore I have endeavored to stress
fidelity to the best purposes of black nationalist sentiment. This was
a separate and unequal inheritance - in fact it was a creation of
something I think we all thought was new. Now I am doubtful about the
prospects of any such agenda. What any of us do to carve a new path for
any minority may ultimately be a wasteful dissonant diversion at best,
and at worse we may find the turns we take in those woods lead us away
from the goal.
This running critique of America generally devolves to a ranting critique of Americans, and I find it always and inevitably sloppy and overambitious. In the end, it always seeks to prove us wrong and see us endure some cosmic retribution and hardship. Somebody's always looking for some chickens to come home to roost. Somebody is always hoping someone pays the price for some failure in America. That's not leadership and nobody needs it. When we fail we will endeavor to win, that desire is in our better nature. The man who is knocked from his feet needn't be told so, nor analyzed in any fifty page book and told it is America's fault. He feels his own pain. He gathers his wits and stands up. The last thing we need are monuments of men on their hands and knees to inspire us to rethink America. And yet this is the nature of false leadership so many are tempted to use as their model. They say this is the nation that makes dogs of men and they point all around to their company as curs, and they bitch and whine and make puppy eyes for every sympathy. And they inevitably bite the hand that feeds them.
I do not know what it will take for us to be done with our alienation. I suspect that for every percieved difference in men, there will be some gap described as insurmountable for which one man's freedom requires one path and the different man a different path. Our challenge is great because we are a nation of different ethnicities and religions but one law and one liberty. For that law and liberty to have a singular meaning, it requires our mutual and singular devotion. There are no differentiated messages, no multiple standards allowable. When we find ourselves tempted to justify our flavor or sentiment, we should all insure that we recognize our common heritage and affirm our common destiny. Speak in your accent to every man and hear their every affirmation in your own voice.
There will only be one voice that survives in America, and that is
the voice that speaks to all of us without qualification. It is the
voice that accepts and protects us and seeks to mold in us a common
strength - our own. So let me be the first to pledge never again to say "What do you mean 'we'?"
With the release of the Clintons’ combined $109 million post-presidential aggregate income (cf. Hillary’s call for the creation of a poverty czar), we are a long way from clips of Harry Truman strolling around Independence, Missouri in his retirement. John Edwards’ 30,000 sq ft. castle (apparently part of one of his “Two Americas”) is a far cry from the hole in Adlai Stevenson’s shoe. And John Kerry’s various mansions are not quite like Hubert Humphrey’s tract house in the DC suburbs. But then the Rev. Wright’s gated estate and the Obama income aren’t quite like Martin Luther King’s either.
The point? In the general enrichment of the United States over the last quarter-century of globalization, it is hard to ascertain one’s politics by one’s financial circumstances. Being a Democratic leader now does not suggest any greater intimacy with poverty than a Republican’s, or any greater reluctance to indulge in the rarified good life. If anything, the Democratic party (cf. the Obama nexus) is increasingly an alliance of those who want federal entitlements, combined with the elite who are willing to hand them out—precisely because their own financial circumstances mean that tax increases hardly affect their standard of living.
Indeed, whereas indulgences in gambling, sex, or drugs may have embarrassed conservative Republicans, the hypocrisy for Democrats lies in the combination of high living and condemnation of the present economic system. Al Gore leaves a bigger carbon foot-print than most of those he condemns. Rev. Wright disdains the middle class—perhaps because he lives as if he were in the upper-class. The Clintons talk ad nauseam about “fairness,” but weren’t about to stop at $50 million when $100 million could buy so much more.
Whether or not Barack Obama wins the Democrat nomination this year, there is one extraordinary thing that black grass roots politicians are going to have to face - which taken in the entirety of black politics is going to be revolutionary. That is the fact that Barack Obama has been able to raise a phenomenal amount of money in a short period of time. He just raised 40 million dollars in March.
I was looking for an example of one of McCain's good ads that I liked and then I saw one that made me think I was looking at military propaganda, or a cheesy rendered one. I don't know how to describe it except that it is so gratuitously imagerific that it could only possibly appeal to the most gullible romantic.
You've got these scenes of sepia with young soldiers parading past a statue of a Roman gladiator and words in big serif fonts fading in and out "Courage", "Tradition"... ach mein gott! This isn't prep school. Anyway. It sucks and is just about as cliche as a blonde starlet getting out of a limo onto a red carpet with throngs of adoring fans and paparazzi.
Can it McCain. Stick to the real.
There seems to be some controversy over the exact name and description of one Catalina Matalina. How do you remember her?
She had ten hairs on her head
Five were alive and the other five were dead
Her feet were as large as a bathroom mat
Never did ask how they got like that.
She swam like a feather and dove like a rock
And when she hit the bottom you could hear it at the top.
Her ears were as large as the sails on a boat
Put her in the water and I bet she'd float.
She had two eyes in her head
One was gray and the other one red
She had two teeth in her mouth
One pointed East and one pointed South.
Her neck was as long as a ten foot pole
And right in the middle was a big fat mole.
Catalina Matalina Opastina Watalina Hoka Poka Loka was her name.
[T]hese incidents will only continue until someone of stature in the civil rights community issues a zero-tolerance speech of the sort Obama should have given but failed at. In isolation, each subsequent outburst is explicable; in the aggregate they paint a picture of a deep-seeded racism and hatred that have been encouraged by the absence of any censure—the appeasement that we know so well from the Obama/Wright controversy.
I did not read your critique of Obama's race speech because I knew that Obama had lost the war as soon as he conceded the necessity of that speech. He was to be the first 'post-racial' candidate in America's history, a burden uniquely born by blacks in America.
Conservatives all note, tongue in cheek, that candidates like McCain are hardly expected to be 'post-racial' and that in fact everything they might say on race is defacto 'racist' as it comes from white males. And by this logic decide in resignation not to say anything at all pertaining to race. It is a lazy way to success, but it works. Keep quiet lest the crazy people think you're crazy.
So the presumption that "someone of stature in the civil rights community issues a zero-tolerance speech of the sort Obama should have given but failed at" will end the madness is preposterous. Who is there of stature in the civil rights community that is not black? Which is to say what white American has become an objective paragon in these times? Is there perhaps someone at the ACLU? Is there some Republican we know who is automatically associated with civil rights? No. The Civil Rights Establishment is none other than those blacks in politics who gained office, power and influence by harping on the one subject that the rest of America automatically conceded, which is their rights for redress of their racial victimization. America couldn't see fit to vote those people into power under any other circumstances. The Civil Rights Establishment is black for a reason. It is the establishment we all built.
Aside from that, I am reminded of Derrick Bell's Rules of Racial Standing, particularly numbers three and four:
Few blacks avoid diminishment of racial standing, most of their statements abot racial condidtions being diluted and their recommendations of other blacks taken with a grain of salt. The usual exception to this rule is the black person who publicly disparages or criticizes other blacks who are speaking or acting in ways that upset whites. Instantly, such statements are granted 'enhanced standing' even when the speaker has no special expertise or experience in the subject he or she is criticizing.
When a black person or group makes a statement or takes an action that the white community or vocal components thereof deem "outrageous," the latter will actively recruit blacks willing to refute the statement or condemn the action. Blacks who respond to the call to condemnation will receive superstanding status. The blacks who refuse to be recruited will be interpreted as endorsing the statements and action and may suffer political or economic reprisals.
The NAACP and some other flacks have been circulating the meme that John McCain has 'zero' relations with blacks in Arizona. Of course what that should be decrypted to mean is that John McCain has made no effort to court the special interests that claim to speak for 'blacks'.
It's a thin and silly argument, which is just another variety of the same kind of rhetorical nonsense we've seen before. "If Barack Obama doesn't show up at Tavis Smiley's State of Black America, he doesn't really care about black people. If Fred Thompson doesn't show up at the Morgan State debates, then he must be anti-black. Black people should boycott Fox News." Blah blah whine whine.
I just recently watched a 20 minute presentation of McCain's to Texas A&M from April 3, 2006, and I found it to be a very good introduction to the kind of person I think he is. I appreciate that he's a meticulous kind of speaker. The presentation can be gotten from iTunes U, but I haven't found it anywhere else which is unfortunate. I think it's the kind of example he sets. As well, his latest advert strikes just the right tone. McCain's campaign in general has been quite admirable over the past few months.
But I'm just about sick and tired of the presumed ability of anyone to pretend that they represent black America politically, and the NAACP is particularly galling in that regard considering its bizarre logic since the retirement of the one bright hope they had under the leadership of Bruce Gordon. Nobody represents black America. There is no fixed black America, it's always moving and nobody can draw a bead on it. Not me, not you and especially not the black businessmen of Arizona who nobody has even heard of or cared for before they were used in this complaint.
The black businessmen of Arizona are fine. If they voted for McCain as their senator, why should they complain. If they didn't, how can they stand to be living in Arizona - the land of their ancestors...
If you've noticed a change around here, it is primarily due to the elevating influence of two new, prolific and provocative commenters. I have mentioned A. Charles before at least once, and if I haven't then I should reacquaint all of you with his inspired commentary. But then there's this Smrgol character.
Unclesmrgol is, to my knowledge, a former denizen of the Captain's Quarters, a blog of sterling repute and excellent depth that is, if not currently defunct, on its way out due to the 'promotion' of the Captain, Ed Morrisey to a higher plane of media existence. Now he has found it suitable to take up some residence here at Cobb, and we are all the richer for it.
Cobb is, in many ways, like a small liberal arts college. Analytic with a low commenter to author ratio. Which is to say I spend a lot more time in Socratic dialog and deeply arcane points of argument than the average blogger, although hopefully not quite to the ridiculous lengths as the cranks at Crooked Timber. And so the character of this blog is often a great deal more determined by what people choose to debate rather than what I necessarily think is worth pointing out. I am satisfied with that state of affairs and consider myself quite fortunate that I have merited that much attention, and I hope to continue this sort of engagement so long as I remain underemployed in meatspace, which is likely to be as long as I live. So I am particularly indebted to all of you who participate and thank you for your curiosity, your provocations, your logic, your attitudes and everything else you share.
Since this is a grownup joint, it is rare that I feel the need to intervene in the often fractious melees that are bound to take place when serious subjects are debated. So long as the name calling stays below two or three consecutive comments, I pretty much let it go. Egos will be what they are, and I don't pretend to reign in any Darwinianism. Only the argumentative survive. I recognize that a lot of shit gets said online that would never pass for anything but fighting words face to face, but since they are only words, I figure more robust people can handle it. Nevertheless, folks can get carried away to the extent that it becomes a distraction. Such things flow in waves. But in the end we are not making any self-serving statements about being tolerant, get your licks in, lick your wounds and you're all welcome back.
In all that it must be noted that we've recently seen Gray and A. Charles go at it over libertarianism and the role of the Fed as well as Nulan and Smrgol go at it over a point that I seem to have forgotten because I actually did have to intervene. Now when it comes to Darwinian arguments, there are very few people who can meet or match the onslaught of Nulan unleashed. I have seen him over the years in multifarious psueds, from Heysichastic to Xavier Moon. He is an extraordinarily prolific and persistent scourge, and although his intellectual interests are bewilderingly vast, there is a great consistency in him. He can be a devastating wit, and even a bully. I've seen him chase people out of Cobb with their tails between their legs - he suffers no fools, and considers most people to be fools or worse. If I didn't think better of him, I would say he's misanthropic. After all his system of Christianity doesn't put a high priority on forgiveness or decorum. He can be a handful. And yet I've noticed how it has been dished back to him in equal measure by this Smrgol over the past few weeks, and I'm rather struck by that fact.
I have no doubt that CN will be back when he feels it convenient and will be is old crypto-irascible self, but for the moment we are looking at Smrgol as Buster Douglas. WTF!
I just listened to the show, I think it went very well and gave a fair hearing to what is actually a bit more complicated than was let on. I think I did a pretty decent job.
What was not mentioned in the show was the extent to which there's a great deal of jurisdictional overlap and borders. I could not determine, for example, whose responsibility it is to make the call on whether a Mexican national convict is actually deported or released to the streets of LA. The deputy chief made it clear that LAPD marks the forms that notifies ICE, but not what percentage of those violent or gang criminals are actually deported. Clearly it's not the LAPD's responsibility.
So I'm sure lots of people can say that they're doing their part to share databases and have information, but whose head rolls today? Who should be voted out of office?
Ms Salas said that the LAPD should spend its time apprehending dangerous criminals instead of being advance men for the Migra. I agree. In fact, the thousands of Mexican nationals in California jails and prisons attest to the efficiency of the system in doing part of its job. But if these ex-cons are released back into the California population and then can hide under the cover of the political protections of 'latinos' when in fact they are Mexican nationals, then something is wrong. And I don't think that latinos should be on the hook for being part of that 'community'.
I think it's rather astounding, in retrospect, that the Chief and his deputy are bringing up the matter of arresting jurisdictions. The LAPD in the end can no better hide behind the border of Culver City than Jamiel Shaw could hide behind the US border. And the City Council is not going to be able to hide behind its jurisdictional borders either. All the borders are porous and the political effects of this are going to spill over in all different directions. I'm sure we would want it to be neat and compartmentalized, but it's not.
In the meantime, I'm still looking for a hero, but I don't see a lot of guts out there.
Jamiel's Law is a spirit that I think is going to go to the next level. It's not going to end with LAPD policy reform. I know a lot depends upon the willingness of the family to step beyond being a symbol. Who knows the chances of that. It's the worst way of all to become famous. But this is another chapter in the long history of failed immigration policy, a bloody and tragic chapter. The problem will not go away, neither will I.