Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hard out there for a pimp

In the following clip, Jamie Foxx does his part to escalate a seemingly-from-nowhere feud with Terence Howard.

Foxx launches into an impression of the quavery-voiced characters Howard is known for best, calls him "soft as doctor's cotton" and clowns his "zoot suits."

This has the potential to be at least as entertaining as Jamie's beef with LL Cool J. I hope the loser agrees to never put out another music album.



Dayyyyuuuummm. Honestly, when it comes to playing the dozens, few people come harder than Jamie Foxx. Continue Reading »

2008 in lists

One of my favorite and least favorite parts about the end of the year are the various and sundry countdown lists. I can't stand them; I can't stop reading them.

Here's a few that caught my eye in the past few days:

The 19 worst Americans, Michael Tomasky.
The 10 worst media moments, The Huffington Post.
Ten worst media blunders, Politico.com.
The best and worst sex scandals, Gawker.
The 10 worst sports predictions, Real Clear Sports.
Ten fads that need to go away in 2009, That's So Fetch.
The 10 best couples of 2008, The Frisky
Top 10 ethics scandals, MotherJones.
The 10 worst commercials of 2008, Digital Labz.
The best and worst of 2008, The Daily Beast.
The top 10 worst moments in black music, SoulBounce.com.
The top 10 worst music videos of 2008, spike.com.
The 10 best hip-hop mixtapes of 2008, New York Magazine.

Feel free to send me links to any list I might have missed.

And, appropriately enough, that should be my last post of '08. Everyone be safe out there tonight, and I'll see you in 2009. Hopefully, we all have bigger and better things in store in the new year. Continue Reading »

My year in cities, 2008

Stealing an interesting concept from Matt Y's blog is something I'm wont to do. This time, it's a list of all the cities I've visited in 2008.

One or more nights were spent in each place. And the asterisks are for places I'd never been before.

Longboat Key, FL*
Houston, TX
Shreveport, La.
Key West, FL*
Chicago, IL
Miami, FL*
Austin, TX
Dallas, TX

As you can see, I had a rather nondescript year of travel. The economy and my awful, awful work schedule conspired to keep the First Lady and I from doing much globetrotting this year - with the notable exception of the First Lady's trip to Amsterdam in May with her mother.

My 2008 was in no way as interesting as my 2007, when I visited Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, New Orleans, Hot Springs, Ark., Dallas, Austin, Tampa (for what turned out to be a very fruitful job interview), Mobile, Ala., and Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

Given my subpar 2008, I'm putting together a very ambitious wish-list for 2009. It's been much too long since I've spent much time up and down the East Coast, places like New York, Philly and D.C. I'm also curious about the Pacific Northwest, Toronto, Montreal, southeast Asia and, I don't know, Cuba.

UPDATE: Along those lines, I have a friend who powers the entertaining and informative blog, My Long Strange Journey. He's spending a year in Singapore but seemingly takes a trip to Sydney or Bali or some other picturesque locale every other weekend. I'm definitely jealous. Continue Reading »

Blago and black folks

Regarding Blago's foolhardy choice of Roland Burris for Illinois' vacant Senate seat, please give black people - and black radio, too - more credit than this, Michael Tomasky:


There's a chance that is is going to be on black radio all over the country tomorrow morning, and if it is, it's going to have nothing to do with Blago on those stations. It'll have to do with whether the white Democratic leaders of the Senate, "who take our vote for granted in November," etc., will spurn this obviously qualified black man.
Look, Bobby Rush doesn't speak for me and I've got a sneaking suspicion that he doesn't speak for much more than a diminishing minority of folks who are still getting regular subscriptions to "The Final Call."

It's hard to figure out how anyone could take Rush or his empty threats seriously. Seems to me as if the only ones giving them much credence are Tomasky, Edward McClelland and a handful of other folks who probably haven't spent much time on the Southside of any city, let alone Chicago.
Call me naive, but I think black people can actually see through this unabashed play to racial politics. Any rejection of Burris by the U.S. Senate leadership will be a rejection of Blago and not a rejection of Burris himself. No one could possibly see Blago or his selection of Burris as legitimate.

And hopefully people will remember that for all the noise Rush is making about a lack of black representation in the Senate, he supported Obama's white, millionaire opponent, Blair Hull, in 2004.

I'm actually more embarrassed that Roland Burris would allow himself to be used as a pawn in this way. He should have known better than to get mixed up with Blagojevich.

But what should we really expect from the guy? He's an also-ran, a perennial political loser. In fact, MSNBC's Chuck Todd actually called Burris a "lovable loser." At 71, this is probably Burris' final shot at holding a public office.

I actually felt sorry for him during his appearance on MSNBC. It smacked of, uh, desperation. Continue Reading »

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

"Superficial" Scarborough

Former U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski gave Joe Scarborough something of a devastating bitch-slap yesterday on his MSNBC morning show "Morning Joe."

Brzezinski went on the show to offer his take on the conflict in Gaza. At around the 6:30 mark of the following TV clip, Scarborough obnoxiously butted in as he's wont to do, telling Brzezinski that "you cannot blame what's going on in Israel on the Bush administration."

This prompted Zbig to reply: "You know, you have such a stunningly superficial knowledge of what went on that it's almost embarrassing to listen to you."

Ouch. Check it out for yourself.



Ah. That was satisfying, wasn't it?

I can only hope Dr. B's next appearance is with O'Reilly or Hannity or Beck or someone of that ilk. But I won't hold my breath.
Continue Reading »

Monday, December 29, 2008

Clubber and Me

Avery is on some wild ish over at his site, talking about Clubber Lang and his place in the boxing hierarchy (the following from the comments section):


You gotta check out the opening scenes of Rocky III. Clubber was an animal. If you look at Tyson highlights and then Rocky III, you’d almost think Tyson’s early career was based on Clubber Lang. Reality imitating art, down to some of the same kinds of knockdowns. That would be some big-money betting, though. In fact, it would be the perfect scene for Bill Cosby and Sidney Poitier to fix the fight by hypnotizing somebody.
One of my favorite writers, the late, great Ralph Wiley, essentially thought Clubber was a clown. And, in many ways, a sort of caricature for what most white sportswriters and fans imagined popular black athletes to be in the post-Ali era. That's why Clubber had to go down and go down hard in the film, according to Wiley.

The gritty, spunky, less-talented Rocky would always get the best of the loudmouth, preening Clubbers and Apollos of the world. Those buffoons just didn't have the heart when things got tough, right? Not in the face of the Italian Stallion. Or Larry Bird. Or Tyler Hansbrough. Or Wes Welker.

Not to mention, you might argue that we have more Clubbers than ever before - T.O., Kevin Garnett, Rampage Jackson, Joey Porter, etc, etc. And, yes, Mike Tyson. Those guys just feed the myth, for better or worse.

Anyway, I've never felt quite the same way about "Rocky" or Clubber again. Ralph Wiley ruined it for me.

But, yo, Avery took me back. Maybe Clubber and I can make amends. Here's let try this:

Continue Reading »

The NFL, in review

Here's a look at the NFL teams I picked in September to win their respective divisions, with the actual winners in parentheses:
AFC East - New England (Miami)
AFC North - Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh)
AFC South - Indianapolis (Tennessee)
AFC West - San Diego (San Diego)
NFC East - Dallas (N.Y. Giants)
NFC North - Minnesota (Minnesota)
NFC South - Carolina (Carolina)
NFC West - Seattle (Arizona)

So, four of eight ain't terrible. I also must note that I said Miami "will be much improved, and to be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if they get into the playoff mix."

But 50 percent ain't good either. I also said this about Atlanta: the Falcons "have some of the worst skill-position talent in the NFL this season." Sorry about that Matt Ryan and Michael Turner and Roddy White.

My prediction for the playoffs? Pain. (More on this later).

Also, in short:

Dallas - The inclination will be for pundits to blame the Cowboys' implosion in Philly on Tony Romo and Wade Phillips. And some of that is merited. But really, Dallas' soft o-line, undisciplined receivers and highly overrated o-coordinator Jason Garrett should be on the hook for this one. Roger Staubach and Tom Landry wouldn't have looked much better with that gutless bunch.

Detroit - The best thing about this season for Lions' fans is that it came to an end. Not that 2009 figures to be much better.

Tampa Bay - Godspeed to Cadillac Williams. I haven't seen a more snakebitten running back since Ki-Jana Carter. In other news, the Bucs looked awful over the final month. If Eric Mangini was canned for the Jets' horrid performance down the stretch, how does Jon Gruden manage to avoid the hot seat?

Houston - Mark my words: the Texans will tease their fans again in 2009, only to come up short of the postseason. Continue Reading »

Bush the Bookworm

From about first to third grade, I read books at an impressive clip. Especially when compared to my classmates. Impressive enough, in fact, to win myself dozens of little personal pan pizzas from Pizza Hut.

But it would seem soooo elementary school, I'd think, for adults to brag about how well read they are. Unless, of course, you're Karl Rove talking about his annual reading competition with President Dubya.

A glutton for punishment, Mr. Bush insisted on another rematch in 2008. But it will be a three-peat for me: as of today, his total is 40 volumes to my 64. His reading this year included a heavy dose of history -- including David Halberstam's "The Coldest Winter," Rick Atkinson's "Day of Battle," Hugh Thomas's "Spanish Civil War," Stephen W. Sears's "Gettysburg" and David King's "Vienna 1814." There's also plenty of biography -- including U.S. Grant's "Personal Memoirs"; Jon Meacham's "American Lion"; James M. McPherson's "Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief" and Jacobo Timerman's "Prisoner Without a Name, Cell Without a Number."

Each year, the president also read the Bible from cover to cover, along with a daily devotional.

Great, so Rove and Bush are the readiest readers out there. Good for them.

But the days of measuring their intellect by the quantity of tomes read should have ended in their schoolboy days. Reading a lot of books means nothing if you take nothing away from the texts.

Ta-Nehisi sez:
Anyone who actually reads books knows that reading the words off the page is half the job, at best. The hard part is digesting the book, getting to its essential themes and then weighing them against your own body of knowledge. Look I love books, was raised in the business of publishing books and printing books. But watching a pundit- or president--brag about reading a book a week, is like watching a freshly-minted 21-year old get smashed at a wine-tasting. Only a rookie would set that sort of goal- and then brag about it. Either that or, you know, someone who doesn't really read...
But it really doesn't make much of a difference to me whether Bush is hacking his way through Tolstoy or Baldwin or Dr. Seuss. He'd have been better off doing the actual work of being president than burying his nose in a book. In fact, we'd all have been better off. Continue Reading »

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Our literate citizens

Because I find this interesting, here's a list of 10 of the nation's most literate cities.


1.5. Minneapolis
1.5. Seattle
3. Washington, D.C.
4. St. Paul, Minn.
5. San Francisco
6. Atlanta
7. Denver
8. Boston
9. St. Louis
10.5. Cincinnati
10.5. Portland

I must say, it's really hard to draw any conclusions from the list other than there are some really well-read people in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. You'd initially expect large, metropolitan coastal cities like New York and Los Angeles to rank high but, no, there's a healthy helping of middle America cities like Denver, St. Louis and Cincinnati in the top 10.

In fact, Rust Belt surprises like Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Baltimore - to name a few - appear on the overall list before N.Y. checks in at No. 24. L.A. ranks 56th.

It'd be really interesting to quantify the benefits of living in a city with a highly literate populace. Does that translate into a better local economy? Better public schools? Better cultural offerings? A better pool of potential mates? And what can a city and its government do to ensure that its residents are well-read?

Oh, and without being a jerk about it (honest), I had to note that all but two of the cities listed in the top 10 (11) were located in "blue" states. Coincidence or not?

Continue Reading »

The GOP's real magic negro

Ken Blackwell: ruining the good name of all Uncle Toms.

"Unfortunately, there is hypersensitivity in the press regarding matters of race. This is in large measure due to President-elect Obama being the first African American elected president," Blackwell, who is black, said in a statement.

"I don't think any of the concerns that have been expressed in the media about any of the other candidates for RNC chairman should disqualify them," he said. "When looked at in the proper context, these concerns are minimal. All of my competitors for this leadership post are fine people."
Blackwell's statement doesn't even make any sense - someone should have him explain his correlation between the election of Obama and the press' "hypersensitivity" regarding matters of race. If he can.

But his response was predictable. Pathetic, even. Often, I wonder how that guys like Blackwell, Michael Steele, Armstrong Williams and J.C. Watts make peace with themselves. I mean, Watts even went so far once upon a time on Chris Rock's HBO show to say he hadn't heard of George Clinton.

I guess that's just the deal you have to make to hang out with Sean Hannity.
Continue Reading »

Friday, December 26, 2008

Freakiness, food and (most importantly) football

Already at fever pitch, the rivalry between Oklahoma and Texas is sure to get more heated after this NY Times story about the recruitment of high school blue-chipper Jamarkus McFarland.

It's almost a waste of time to pluck out the highlights but, needless to say, McFarland and his mother aren't going to have many friends left in Austin.

Here's McFarland's take on a Longhorns fans party at an upscale Dallas hotel following the UT-OU game on Oct. 11:


“I will never forget the excitement amongst all participants ... Alcohol was all you can drink, money was not an option. Girls were acting wild by taking off their tops, and pulling down their pants. Girls were also romancing each other. Some guys loved every minute of the freakiness some girls demonstrated. I have never attended a party of this magnitude.”
I'm sure of it, having spent some time in his East Texas hometown of Lufkin. And maybe I was a different sort of teenager but, you know, what he described sounds like as good a reason as any to become a Longhorn.

Some guys loved every minute of the freakiness some girls demonstrated. Damn skippy. I guess he's already more mature at 18 than I was at 28.

Also, it's hilarious to think of OU head coach Bob Stoops being forced into watching - and laughing at - "Beauty Shop."
While at McFarland’s house, Stoops offered to set the table for dinner and helped carry in ribs and potato salad. After a second serving of ribs and some peach cobbler, he sat on the couch with McFarland and his grandmother and watched the movie “Beauty Shop,” starring Queen Latifah and Alicia Silverstone.
If he actually mustered a laugh during that movie and managed to make his pitch in spite of the itis, Stoops might deserve an honorary hood pass.

In the end, McFarland went with Stoops and the Sooners. No big deal, right? UT and OU always get their fair share of top recruits. It's just the name of the game.

But you know those college football fans, especially those who frequent message boards. They rarely accept the wholly personal decisions of 18-year-olds with even a modicum of class. Continue Reading »

Admirable Obama

Remember when some people - mostly Mark Penn - tried to argue that Barack Obama wasn't electable?

Yeah. Neither do I.

WASHINGTON — A month before his inauguration, Americans choose Barack Obama as the man they admire most in the world, according to a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. It's the first time a president-elect has topped the annual survey in more than a half-century.

This poll comes on the heels of a CNN survey showing Obama with an unbelievable 82 percent approval rating. A black president! And he's popular! Who could have ever dreamed of such a thing?

Of course, Obama hasn't actually taken office yet. I suspect those numbers will come down in the coming months, especially as our economy worsens and he actually starts governing. But with the GOP poised to mount mostly token opposition, they might want to remember that Obama seems to have a deep reservoir of support out there.

On a more personal note, my father - once something of a health nut - told me the other day that he's got yet another reason to admire our historically popular president-elect. Namely, Obama's widely-praised abs.

UPDATE: You remember that we have a popular president-elect, right? Well, sometimes it's shocking how stupid the GOP can be. Beyond stupid, in fact. If they keep this sort of stuff up, they're going to go the way of the Dixiecrats.

UPDATE 2: Via Ezra Klein, we learn that Obama hit the gym for 48 straight days, at about 90 minutes per session, until taking off for Christmas. No doubt, those abs are not a mistake. He's a virtual Ironman. It reminds me that I need to renew my dedication to exercise. Like, now.

Continue Reading »

R.I.P. Eartha Kitt

Can't say that I knew much about Eartha Kitt's career beyond her brief appearance in "Boomerang," her stint as Catwoman in the old "Batman" TV series and her sultry rendition of "Santa Baby."

But, that said, homage must be paid to a woman once dubbed the "most exciting woman in the world" by Orson Welles. Here's the actual factuals - check out the bit about her anti-Vietnam War tirade that got her investigated by the FBI and CIA.

Here's how I was first introduced to Ms. Kitt, through one of my favorite movies of all-time - and one of the last time that Eddie Murphy was a bankable movie star. Lady Eloise was no joke, kids.



I know that I've gotten very dependent on YouTube, as of late. I need to watch that, I know. Continue Reading »

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Holiday hiatus

For obvious reasons, there's not going to be much - if any - posting today.

But hope that you all have a wonderful holiday, spend quality time with family and friends, and/or get your grub on properly.

In the meantime, Hustle Man took me back yesterday. Enjoy some Dragonfly Jones.

Continue Reading »

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wedding planning

The First Lady and I are, at the moment, in the preliminary stages of the hell that is planning a wedding. For whatever reason, we thought this would be an easy process since we're both low maintenance sort of people.

Clearly, we were naive. Or stupid. One or the other.

Anyway, right about now, I'm going to say bump it and let Hustle Man handle things:

Continue Reading »

An early conservative Christmas gift

Making fun of Ann Coulter and her latest missive dubbing Sarah Palin "Conservative of the Year" is chicken soup for the soul.

Here's Steve Benen with a succinct, clear-eyed critique of Coulter's body of work:

... Coulter is a circus clown, and quite possibly a liberal plant meant to make conservatives look ridiculous as part of some kind of satirical performance art ...
And now Ezra Klein wants a piece:
Ann Coulter's column declaring Sarah Palin Human Event's "Conservative of the Year" will prove a rich document for historians trying to understand the death of America's conservative majority.
I tell ya, Coulter and Palin are the gifts that keep on giving. Encore! Continue Reading »

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Hitting the links

With so much in front of me over the next 24 hours - last-minute shopping, some housecleaning and the extremely enticing San Diego County Credit Poinsettia Bowl, I probably won't be posting much in the interim.

So let's just hit a few quick items before I say bye-bye for a bit:

There's been a lot of chatter on the blogosphere this afternoon about the reasons for the slow death of the newspaper industry. Here's Ezra, Matt and Atrios giving their respective takes. I agree with all of them, to varying degrees. But I think the real death blow was allowing free, unfettered access to newspapers' online content in the pioneer days of the Net. At that point, news organizations surrendered without a better business model in mind. The Web and especially blogs, feed (live) off the stories generated on newspapers' Internet sites, posting and re-posting ad infinitum. Think of how different the Web would look if everyone had to pay for newspaper content.

The NY Times' examination of the Bush Administration's role in the collapse of the housing market is a must-read. Basically, they are who we thought they were.

Rick Warren is embarrassing. And if you're interested, no, I don't think he should be doing the invocation at the inauguration.

You know, it's a damn shame that we - as a country - can't figure out a way to provide universal child care. It's possible: plenty of western European countries make it happen. And if we did, we almost certainly wouldn't see stories like this.

NY Times' Paul Krugman, as usual, smartly questions the wisdom of assuming the financial services industry is deserving of so many riches. From the column: "But surely those financial superstars must have been earning their millions, right? No, not necessarily. The pay system on Wall Street lavishly rewards the appearance of profit, even if that appearance later turns out to have been an illusion."

Really, isn't it about time for that lil' Palin? And what about the wedding? Surely the Palins didn't lie about getting their unmarried, pregnant teenage daughter getting hitched to her high school boyfriend to spare themselves a campaign nightmare? Nah. Of course not.

Toure's turn in the cipher against hip-hop hating Stanley Crouch. Toure makes a good case but it's lacking ... passion? I don't know. Feels a little weak to me. That said, Crouch is not to be taken seriously on hip hop (or really, much of anything these days). He's a bitter old man still fighting battles that exist entirely in his own mind.

Thinking about the future of Detroit really, really depresses me. And I'm not talking about the Lions. Also, this piece about Detroit from Harper's in July 2007, IMO, is fascinating. (Sorry it has to be like that, Cami).

I'm all for a soda tax. Guess that makes me a typical librul. But on a personal note, soda has probably been the easiest sugary item to cut out of my diet. Over the years, I wasted so much money and carbs on sodas. Now, I hardly ever think about the stuff.

WSJ has a list of 10 companies that probably won't make it through 2009. Though I've been expecting it for some time now, I still can't believe Sirius seems doomed. Satellite radio has made my hour-long commute a tad more bearable. A tad. And the NY Times? Yikes!

The 10 worst media moments in 2008, according to Gawker. They left out anything involving Bill O'Reilly, "Reasonable Sources" throughout the presidential campaign, any media outlet taking Joe the Plumber seriously and the general tenor of the coverage of Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

A meaningful faith-based initiative, courtesy of an unusually thoughtful Texas high school football coach.

And, finally, the case against plastic surgery: Mickey Rourke's increasingly grotesque face.

All that said, Go Horned Frogs! Continue Reading »

CBC should STFU

Is it me, or is the Congressional Black Caucus really jumpin' stupid right now?

Some members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) are disappointed President-elect Obama did not appoint more African-Americans to his Cabinet.

... Another senior member of the CBC who requested anonymity said more pointedly that Obama “isn’t doing enough for the black folks.”

... Rep. Danny Davis said that while the raw demographics definitely caught the CBC by surprise and have caused eyebrows to be raised, the bigger problem may come in the policy implications for blacks across the country.

“People I’ve talked to have expressed that they were hoping to have seen a few more African-Americans in place, and in places where you can pinpoint needs,” Davis said, citing specifically the departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Housing and Urban Development.

This, of course, presumes that no one other than a black person would be devoted to chipping away at important issues like education, health care and affordable housing. To say nothing of the fact that those are issues that affect a broad coalition of Americans, not just black people.

If Obama and Co. had completely shut black people out of his administration, perhaps the CBC would have a legitimate gripe. But Obama has brought in Eric Holder, Susan Rice, Lisa Jackson and Ron Kirk (a personal favorite of mine, as a former Dallas resident) among his 20 appointees.

I'm curious to know how many black Cabinet members would have been enough for the CBC. Five, six, or 19? As of now, the CBC is rivaled in stupidity only by those critics who claim Obama hasn't tabbed enough Southerners for his Cabinet.

This is such an antiquated, simple-minded view of inclusion that it doesn't merit a response from the Obama camp. In the manner of embattled Illinois Gov. Blagojevich, all Obama should show the CBC is appreciation. And that's it. He's got actual work to do.

In the meantime, the CBC should look inward and address its own diversity issues. Continue Reading »

The case for inclusion

Over at SI.com's Hot Clicks, they're wrapping up in the year in sports with their annual, voter-driven 2008 Clicksy awards.

I don't have much of a quibble with the results - it's their site, their readers, it is what it is.

But these categories caught my attention:

Hottest Athlete Girlfriend Always Featured In Hot Clicks (Major Sport) - Adriana Lima (29%); Gisele Bundchen (24%); Minka Kelly (19%); Jessica Simpson (15%); Kim Kardashian (13%).

Hottest Woman Often Featured In Hot Clicks For No Reason - Stacy Keibler (38%); Jessica Biel (31%); Emmanuelle Chriqui (21%); Blake Lively (9%).
I'm not going to dispute the aforementioned women are attractive. There's really not much of a meaningful debate there. But because Hot Clicks often overlooks ladies of darker persuasion, let me offer a few Dark & Lovelies for future consideration (of course, the First Lady is always tops on my list):

Meagan Good (pictured above) - last I heard, Ms. Good was seeing N.Y. Jets running back Thomas Jones.

Tamia - married to Grant Hill. And I've been digging her since I was 18.

Joumana Kidd - the ex-wife of Mavericks PG Jason Kidd, and the real reason his game has eroded so quickly in the past year.

Gabrielle Union - was once married to an Oakland Raiders fullback, might be dating Dwyane Wade and she seems to generally enjoy the company of athletes.

Beyonce - she is married to a part-owner of the New Jersey Nets, after all.

Others under consideration, for no reason at all: Sanaa Lathan (she was actually a passable WNBA star in "Love and Basketball"); Kerry Washington; Rae Dawn Chong; Zoe Saldana.
Continue Reading »

Monday, December 22, 2008

Dubya by the numbers

In the most recent issue of Harper's, the researchers/highly efficient copy editors/robots on their staff came up with a special three-page edition of the celebrated Harper's Index. They called it a "retrospective of the Bush era."

And what an era it was.

I've posted some of the more interesting nuggets from the Index below this graf. Let's just put it this way: if there's ever a biopic produced about the Bush Administration, it will almost certainly resemble a blooper reel.

Portion of Baghdad residents in 2007 who had a family member or friend wounded or killed since 2003: 3/4.

Percentage of Republicans in 2005 who said they would vote for Bush over George Washington: 62.

Portion of his presidency he has spent at or en route to vacation spots: 1/3.

Percentage change since 2001 in the average amount U.S. workers spend on out-of-pocket medical expenses: +172.

Days after Hurricane Katrina hit that Cheney's office ordered an electric company to restore power to two oil pipelines: 1.

Days after the hurricane that the White House authorized sending federal troops into New Orleans: 4.

Portion of the $3.3 billion in federal Hurricane Katrina relief spent by Mississippi that has benefitted poor residents: 1/4.

Percentage change from 2003 to 2007 in the amount of money invested in U.S. faith-based mutual funds: +88.

Percentage change in the number of Iraqis aged nine to seventeen detained: +285.

Ratio in 1999 of the number of U.S. federal employees to the number of private employees on government contracts: 15:6.

Ratio in 2006: 14:15.

Total value of U.S. government contracts in 2000 that were awarded without competitive bidding: $73 billion.

Total in 2007: $146 billion.

Number of the five directors of the No Child Left Behind reading program with financial ties to a curriculum they developed: 4.

Rank of Bush among U.S. presidents with the highest disapproval rating: 1.
Continue Reading »

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Overheard in post-racial America ...

... while doing some last-minute Christmas shopping at a bookstore this evening, a familiar bit of revisionist history from a trio of young (white) women ahead of me on the escalator.

"Oh no, the Civil War had nothing to do with slavery," said one of the very delusional (or willfully ignorant) ladies. Then she caught a glimpse of my disapproving countenance and quickly turned around.

Another woman in the group agreed. "Oh yeah. Absolutely. It was about states' rights."

I wonder if I missed the opportunity for what President-elect Obama might have called "a teachable moment." Then again, if formal education and common sense hadn't made much of a dent on the women, I'm guessing a big, agitated black man probably wouldn't have done anything other than sent them running for security.

Instead, I sighed heavily and headed for the cashier. Knowledge is power, no? Continue Reading »

Baghdad, Mexico

Could America's failed "war on drugs" be sending Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, into a collapse of law and order that resembles Baghdad?

The similarities go a long way. Like Iraq, which is rich in oil, Mexico is rich in drugs (either as producer or transporter), and the biggest market for these commodities is in the United States. Both oil and illegal drugs are imported from countries that struggle with unstable political systems. And now, because of a battle for control of the market — either to own the biggest percentage of the flow or to shut it down—we are in a drug war, just as we have found ourselves in a war for oil.

We could learn from history, but how likely is that?

I would love to think that an Obama-Biden Administration portends a progressive rethinking of our mostly punitive national drug policy, a failed remnant of the hyper-aggressive Reagan era. But I'm dubious. And I'm not the only one.

On a more personal note, about four years ago I spent three days in El Paso, Texas, to cover what turned out to be an extremely entertaining Sun Bowl between Arizona State and Purdue.

I jumped at the opportunity to handle the last-minute assignment despite its Dec. 31 kickoff because: I was hoping to curry favor with my editors in New York and I hardly ever turn down an opportunity to travel someplace new.

To be honest, all I remember about the game was that the fourth quarter was crazy and in the game story, I misidentified the defensive coordinator for Arizona State. But those three days were notable because of the time I spent across the Mexican border in Juarez.

I had a great time, buying cheap souvenirs, engaging in playful banter with the locals and downing a Mexican beer or two. Or three. At the end of the trip, I resolved myself to visit again and explore a little deeper into the rough-and-tumble border town of 1.5 million.


Last year in Juárez, more than 1,300 people were murdered. ...

There is a total breakdown in civil order. To put the death toll in context, in 2007, the bloodiest year of the Iraq war, 904 U.S. servicemen and -women were killed. As in Baghdad or Ramadi or Fallujah, the violence in Juárez has spared no one. Almost everybody I know who lives or does business across the river has a story about a crime he or she experienced, a relative who was kidnapped or a friend who was carjacked. A friend of the family told my uncle that one of her relatives was killed but that, to prevent reprisals, police advised her not to report it as a murder.

We really should consider our role in all of this. As in Iraq, one war seems to have begotten another.

UPDATE: Even this weekend, the LA Times reports on the lawlessness of Juarez. I was really struck by this passage: "In a country that each month finds new ways to scare itself with violence, Ciudad Juarez has become emblematic of how nasty things can get.A three-day visit by a pair of Times journalists to the rough-and-tumble factory town, across the border from El Paso, Texas, reveals a fear-struck place where most residents assume -- often correctly -- that the police are crooked and where the government's control of the streets appears tenuous at best.In the Ciudad Juarez of 2008, you don't have to wait long for the next casualty." Continue Reading »

Pause for a cause

Sorry, I know it's been a couple days since I last posted. My bad.

But I've needed a mental-health break: I've been catching up on some reading, settling into my couch to watch some long-ago DVR'd programs, and straightening up the crib in anticipation of a holiday visit from my soon-to-be mother-in-law.

Also, I needed some time to digest how I really felt about the Rick Warren controversy, Caroline Kennedy, what I expect to be a mildly disappointing finish to the college football season and a few other things.

Just gimme a few. I've got some posts in the works. Continue Reading »

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Big Ups ... to Pat Fitzgerald

Dey Know (Blago).



Via Matt Yglesias. Continue Reading »

Could it be things were all so simple?

So, I've been sitting in the auto repair shop for the second time in two weeks. That generally sucks. But it's not so bad this time.

Someone in this place has been straight '90s jammin'. In one 10-minute block or so, I've heard Al B. Sure's "Rescue Me," Lisa Lisa & The Cult Jam's "Wonder If I Take You Home," Tony Terry's "Lovey Dovey," and Juicy's "Sugar Free."

Just reminds me that I really, really need to get my iTunes game right. And that, man, I really miss the ol' days:





How could anyone ever forget about Full Force?

UPDATE: By the way, I had a crazy crush on Lisa Lisa back in the day. You've got no idea. Continue Reading »

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

More on why I'm 100 percent black

My irrational hatred of the Boston Celtics. I really don't want to live in a world where they're the NBA's best team in back-to-back seasons.

I'm done living in the mid '80s, you know?

And since when did K.G. become the league's biggest goon? I honestly don't think I've disliked a basketball player so much since the heyday of John Stockton and Karl Malone. Or maybe Dirk Nowitzki.

Below is something that makes me feel a little better about all this. At least for the moment.



I'm learning to fall in love with Joe Johnson's game. And the Hawks really seem to get under the Celtics' skin. You know, my kind of team. Continue Reading »

Ugh

I learned something new on my drive to work today: Hardee's is reintroducing the Pork Chop Biscuit. Apparently, now they've added gravy.

Maybe I don't understand the allure, given that I haven't consistently eaten pork since the mid-1990s. But why in the hell would someone partake of something this disgusting?

This doesn't look the least bit appetizing. Continue Reading »

Our national failure



Above is a chart of child poverty rates for members of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development. I can't recall much talk about America's unspeakably high rate - in international terms - during the campaign season.

Matt Y digs in:
I’d like to think that most Americans are just too insular to realize that our child poverty rate is absolutely off the charts in international terms, even when compared to other high-immigration Anglophone countries, to say nothing of the Nordics.

... The alternative to people just not knowing is the idea that people just don’t care which, frankly, is an upsetting possibility I’d prefer not to believe in.

I tend to think it's some combination of both. We also can't overlook the possibility that the problem is so pervasive that some Americans can't even fathom that it exists to this degree.

With that in mind, I can't help but think how nice it would be if John Edwards still had a meaningful platform. Continue Reading »

Cousin It?


Believe it or not, this "woman" seems to have run afoul of the law.
Continue Reading »

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bad-faith negotiations

I'm a rock-ribbed union guy, and I've participated in several byline strikes during my 8-year career. Working in a union-protected shop is much better than working in one that is not.

But I hope I'm misreading this proposal from the News Media Guild:
The Guild, which represents 1,400 editorial, technology and support workers at AP, has been bargaining with management since October 21 on a new contract to replace the one that expired on November 30.

The Guild said there has been agreement on a handful of articles, "but the sides remain far apart."

It said management had proposed a wage freeze in the first year of a two-year agreement, followed by a two percent increase the following year.

The Guild said it had opened with a 10 percent wage increase proposal, "but has indicated flexibility at the bargaining table."

Ten percent? Certainly that's a misprint. Continue Reading »

Showing our soles

Matt Y is not mincing words about the Iraq War:

The Iraqi people didn’t ask to be conquered and occupied by a foreign power that destroyed their country and then immediately set about meddling in Iraqi politics and until just a month or so ago was struggling mightily for the right to permanently station military forces on Iraqi soil contrary to the will of the Iraqi public. Not only did Iraqis not ask for such services, but nobody anywhere has ever asked for them.

The harsh reality is that this was not a noble undertaking done for good reasons. It was a criminal enterprise launched by madmen cheered on by a chorus of fools and cowards. And it’s seen as such by virtually everyone all around the world — including but by no means limited to the Arab world.

To which our outgoing president of the past eight years says, "so what?"
Continue Reading »

Monday, December 15, 2008

The real Detroit

Sitting in my inbox this morning was the following column from Washington Post auto industry writer Warren Brown.

It's a great read, detailing the distinction between the Detroit of lawmakers' myths and the American auto industry as it actually exists today.

To me, this closing passage was most important:

Perception: All Detroit needs is deep restructuring and federal bailout money for long-term viability.

Reality: Wrong. Detroit needs what America sorely needs -- a Congress with the leadership chutzpah to devise and implement industrial and energy policies that will help to keep native manufacturing industries alive. Detroit's problem isn't poor products or lack of products. It's a national government still wedded to the debilitating siren song of cheap gasoline. It's a nationally collapsed financial system. And it's governmental hypocrisy -- our willingness to pour tax dollars into foreign enterprises, most of them not unionized, while griping about doing the same for homegrown, unionized manufacturers largely responsible for building America's middle class.

Unfortunately, the GOP has seized upon the Big 3's crushing financial problems as a cudgel to break unions. I hope the blue-collars and working class among us remember that in 2010, when Republicans trot out campaign props like Joe the Plumber. Continue Reading »

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Auto out-of-Tune

If Kanye West is really going to be the "voice of this generation," he's probably going to need to work on his, um, voice.

Given the quality of his previous three albums, I'm willing to allow him a mulligan for last night's performance on "Saturday Night Live." But I truly hope this Auto-Tune stuff is just a phase. A short one.



But for those folks surprised at how most Auto-Tuners sound in an actual live performance, clearly they haven't seen the debacle that was T-Pain's rendition of Keith Sweat's "I Want Her" at a VH1 hip-hip awards show.

Dreadful. Continue Reading »

Saturday, December 13, 2008

What's playing in my deck - songs for you

"Out of snappin, my God tried to talk me/But what could get me half way calm, was this Donny Hathaway song/The tape that it was on, I had wanted while I was gone" - Common

As far as holiday music goes, I don't think I want to hear any song other than Donny Hathaway's "This Christmas." On a continuous loop. Well, maybe with some "Temptations Christmas" thrown in the mix to change things up.

No one has ever had a voice like Hathaway. I came to this conclusion earlier this week, when I stumbled across his remake of Stevie Wonder's classic "Superwoman" on YouTube. Honestly, I might buy an album that consisted of Hathaway singing his way through bread recipes.

Anyway, because it's my iTunes and I can do what I want to, here's a small sample of what I've been listening to from Mr. Hathaway:

1. Someday We'll All Be Free - For years, I believed this song was written as an anthem for the Civil Rights movement. Mostly because it was featured at the end of Spike Lee's biographical film about Malcolm X. Not so, at least according to wikipedia. It's such a hauntingly beautiful song. Despite the uplifting lyrics, I can't help but feel melancholy. Too foreshadowing.

2. I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know - Is this not what a man would (should) say to a woman he loves? "I'm only flesh and blood/But I can be everything that you demand/I can be king of everythang/Or just a tiny grain of sand."

3. Love, Love, Love - One of the more light-hearted, playful songs in his catalogue. I wonder what sort of singer Hathaway might have been without the hurt, though?

4. To Be Young, Gifted and Black - Just seems appropriate in a year that America elected a black president. "We must begin to tell our young/Don't you know there's a whole world waiting for you?/Don't you know the quest has just begun for you?"

5. I Believe in Music - More of that grimy shit. Donny does this best.

By the way, do you roll your eyes at the woman in your choir who insists on squeezing every last bit out of each lyric? Are you irritated with "American Idols" who seem more interested in hearing their own voice? Have you been to chitlin-circuit musicals where some of the characters keep trying to one-up their co-stars by holding ridiculously long high notes?

To me, Hathaway is to blame. His influence on music has lived on in ways, both good and bad. Lesser singers have tried to mimic his beautiful sound with little success over the years. It's just damn near impossible to replicate the anointed instrument that was Hathaway's voice. Continue Reading »

Too black for BET

That's me. I just scored 100 percent on one of those stupid little quizzes on Facebook, one that asks "How Black Are You"?

I went 8-for-8 on the questions in 56 seconds. Impressive, no? Just call me Carter G. Woodson.

Of course, this comes a couple of days after I scored 62 percent on a similarly titled quiz.

But I still believe that Redman has smoked more dope over the course of his life than Snoop. That's Redman, who has co-starred in a movie and TV show both titled "How High."

I stand by my initial answer. And I should know: I am 100 percent black, after all.
Continue Reading »

Friday, December 12, 2008

Thanks, but no thanks

Of all people, Newt Gingrich has offered to reach out to the black community on behalf of congressman-elect Joseph Cao (R-LA).

Uh, I think Cao got this.

Not only did Cao knock off Democratic incumbent William Jefferson in a congressional district that is 64 percent black but he has already taken the initiative to make inroads with black folks.

All this just begs the question: is Gingrich delusional, stupid or a little of both?

(h/t Think Progress)
Continue Reading »

Bailout thought

Why do Republicans hate American autoworkers?

UPDATE: Maybe they just hate unionized American autoworkers. From Steve Benen: "Right now, Democrats in Congress and the presidential transition team are crafting an agenda to help respond to the financial crisis, while Republicans in Congress are using the financial crisis to undermine unions. It's a very odd time for GOP lawmakers to invest so much energy in ensuring American workers receive less money. And yet, here we are." Continue Reading »

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Year in the Life

A year ago on this day, I finished off the final six hours of a 15-hour trip. Shreveport to Tampa, with a short night's rest in Loxley, Ala., just outside of Mobile.

I was finally home. And away from home.

For the most part, I had no idea what I was getting into. I was taking a chance on a great, though struggling newspaper that was taking a chance on me. I'd never lived as much as eight hours away from my hometown of Houston, let alone the Eastern time zone. But at first glance, Tampa seemed like my sort of place - balmy winters, fresh seafood, Gulf breezes, and lots of folks.

Nothing has changed that initial impression.

But the change in my life has come about in other, more substantive and interesting ways than I could have envisioned (isn't that the way it always happens?): I came to think of a life without journalism; I could not think of a life without the First Lady; I found out I could appreciate living someplace other than Texas or California; Key West exceeded all my expectations, which were already very high; Miami, too; I added some reggae and dancehall to my iTunes; I turned 30; I missed my family and friends more than ever; I studied more in four months than I did in four and a half years of college; I helped turn a swing state blue; I pretty much stopped watching SportsCenter; I got frustrated enough with not having an outlet for my random thoughts; I started a blog; I saw the alligator resting near our pond only a couple times but never saw a feral pig; I visited the top-floor of the Sears Tower and had an authentic, Chicago-style deep-dish pizza; I made some new friends; I played pick-up hoops once - all year; I bench-pressed 300 pounds for the first time since I was 20; I didn't spend nearly enough time at the beach; I met the dwarf from "Bad Santa" on the top floor of the Shreveport Hilton; I wished I'd had a camera; I started a Facebook profile - who knew I had 321 friends?; I stopped taking out the garbage in the evenings after an uncomfortable showdown with three raccoons; an angry reader called me a "brownie"; I spent countless hours sitting in the living room with my patio door open; I wrote, maybe, five stories that I was proud of; I paid off my car note; I paid more than $400 in gas for a couple months; I was a full-time dog owner for the first time in my life; I wrote a really long blog post about my year in Tampa.

And here we are. I'm six months from turning 31. I'm engaged with a wedding in the works for next summer. And I'm thinking long and hard about whether I have a future in newspapers. Plan B is slowly but surely taking shape.

The next year will have quite an act to follow.
Continue Reading »

Barry Jr.

If I was the son of a Hall-of-Fame athlete, I'm not sure that I would chose to play the same sport as my father. Let alone play the same position.

But Barry Sanders, Jr., ain't afraid of the expectations. Only a high school freshman, Barry Jr. looks like he's at least inherited his father's feet and balance. I know somebody who knows somebody at TCU who needs to be called about making him a scholarship offer - STAT.



On another note, there's a little debate in a comments thread at TBL about the best running backs of all-time. I'll humbly submit my top five in ascending order: 5. Earl Campbell; 4. Barry Sanders; 3. O.J. Simpson; 2. Walter Payton; 1. Jim Brown. Continue Reading »

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The obligatory Blagojevich post

Seems that everyone has a stone-cold opinion about the corruption case against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Well, count me out of this one.

You'll find that I'm pretty consistent in this regard, whether it's O.J. or Plaxico Burress or Sarah Palin in "Troopergate": let's allow the case to run its course before reaching a judgment. Someone smarter than me in these matters agrees, sort of:

Despite the sensational treatment given the arrest of Blagojevich and aide John Harris in today's New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and Chicago Tribune, the governor has yet to be charged with attempting to sell Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat. All those juicy details about Blagojevich making plans to trade the Senate seat for a position in the Obama Cabinet, another job, financial support, or jobs for his wife appear in the complaint brought yesterday.* But U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald has yet to file charges over the alleged attempt to sell the seat.

... Before we turn down the sheets on Blagojevich's prison cot, let's see transcripts of him actually making a money deal or power deal with somebody for the Senate seat. Even U.S. Attorney Fitzgerald says his office isn't "trying to criminalize people making political horse trades on policies or that sort of thing."

True, true, three times true. The presumption of innocence is one of the bedrock principles of our courts. I realize the scope of the case seems damning at first glance and that, at a minimum, Blagojevich seems absolutely insane. But that's different from being guilty of criminal behavior.

The burden of proof is on Fitzgerald. Let him lay out a case, hear some rebuttal and then allow a verdict to be rendered. Until then, please spare me the obnoxious outrage. I've grown especially tired of our lynch mob mentality.

UPDATE: I should clarify, though - I do think it would be wise if Blagojevich would resign. If only so he doesn't hold up the process of naming a replacement for Obama's seat in the Senate. Continue Reading »

Stewart KOs Huckabee

If you didn't catch Jon Stewart's evisceration of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, then you should check out the following clip from last night's interview on "The Daily Show."

As politely and thoughtfully as possible, Stewart manhandled Huckabee on the issue of gay marriage.

My favorite moment: Huckabee infers that homosexuality is a choice and Stewart responds with "I think religion is more of a choice than homosexuality" and then asked Huckabee at what age he decided not to be gay.

I think, more than anything, that's the disconnect in the logical argument against gay marriage - social conservatives like Huckabee consider homosexuality a lifestyle choice. If gay rights activists and those interested in civil rights push back on that front, explose the flaw in that logic, I'm thinking some progress could be made in the debate.

Anyhow, I think the interview was important because Huckabee seems to be a truly good, kind, thoughtful man. Yet he's dead wrong on this issue. And he's on the wrong side of history.

Jon did a very important thing last night. And he made the case with equal parts kindness, intelligence and snarkiness. Gold star for him.


Continue Reading »

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Discouraged in Dallas

On days like these, I really miss living in Dallas. Nothing, absolutely nothing, beats the annual torment that the Cowboys put their fans through in December and January. The fun started again this Sunday, with the epic fourth-quarter meltdown in Pittsburgh.

Even better are the outraged fans who call into the sports talk radio stations. You've never heard a more frustrated bunch. It's truly audio gold.

However, one station in the D-FW market does better than all the rest at fanning the flames. Every Monday following a Cowboys game - or Tuesday, if Dallas played on MNF - the morning-show hosts bring on "Jerry Jones" and a special guest and have them talk it out. Sometimes, it gets ugly.

This week, it was Jere and Wade Phillips. Enjoy.
Continue Reading »

What's playing in my deck

A special iTunes edition.

After yesterday's riff about my rediscovered love for BBD's "Do Me," I came up with five songs buried in my playlist that had to meet only one requirement: the title had to be a two-word directive ending in "me."

1. Sex Me by R. Kelly - I've previously discussed how "12 Play" was truly a pivotal moment in my childhood. There just couldn't be a list without this slow-jam classic from Kels.

2. Tell Me by Groove Theory - For the longest, I had a crush on Amel. I wonder whatever happened to her? She had a really chill vibe.

3. Groove Me by Guy - For real, Guy was one of the all-time best R&B groups of my lifetime. No foolin'. I miss New Jack Swing.

4. Freak Me (remix) by Silk - I've often wondered how many of today's teenagers were conceived to this song. It was a mixtape staple back in the day.

5. Show Me by John Legend - A little something to cool out to. One of my favorites from, to me, his best album. Continue Reading »

Monday, December 8, 2008

Ronnie DeVoe

Apropos of nothing.



Glad to see Ronnie has moved on instead of making the rounds on the chitlin' and casino circuit with Ricky and Mike. (Lots of people liked "Poison," but I always preferred "Do Me.")

But, you know, someone sent this bit of online gold to me in an e-mail about four years ago. I wonder if The DeVoe Team survived the real estate crash of the past couple years?

Continue Reading »

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Jesse, MLK and ... O.J.?

On a 1974 episode of "Good Times" that I happened to catch late last night, little Michael Evans was laboring over whom to profile in a school assignment that asked him to identify the man he most admired.

Michael briefly thought about Jesse Jackson. I think someone mentioned Martin Luther King, Jr. Thelma suggested a woman. And J.J., showing himself to be a questionable judge of character, went with O.J. Simpson.

It was the year after O.J. became the first NFL running back to surpass 2,000 yards in a season, after all.

And, for all that's happened in the years since, let us not forget that O.J. was one of the best athletes to ever slip on a pair of cleats and one of the first marketable black athletes in this country. Below is some proof that there were better days for the Juice.



O.J. was really something of a hero to the children of another generation. It really wasn't too far-fetched at the time - I mean, as recently as my childhood days, I only knew of him because of his athletic legacy, Hertz commercials and from playing Nordberg in "The Naked Gun."

But as we know, the only real, earthly diviner of the truth is time: O.J. might be the most disgraced, former great athlete of my lifetime. And I don't even know if it's close.

As for the show, I fell asleep - or the First Lady changed the channel - but I think Michael went with his pops. Continue Reading »

Deep thoughts

Within days, nine-months-pregnant Bristol Palin will probably give birth to another in a long line of moose hunters, hockey stars, beauty queens, champion snow mobile racers, ass-kickers and all-around "f'in rednecks."

  1. So when's the wedding?

  2. Other things on my mind this afternoon, a lazy Sunday if there ever was one:

1. I see that Ken Blackwell, former Ohio Secretary of State, has offered himself up as a candidate for Republican National Committe chair. Which made me wonder: is it me, or have I seen every black Republican in the nation on TV at some point this fall? That would bring the total to eight, I think.

2. I'm not sure that Caroline Kennedy is the best Gov. Paterson can do in his search for Hillary Clinton's replacement in the Senate. I tend to agree with Jane: other than being born into Camelot, there's not a lot to suggest she deserves the seat more than some of the other high-profile contenders.

3. In the midst of these very scary rounds of layoffs and record unemployment numbers, Atrios reminds us why McCain's employer-based proposal for health care was such an awful one: when people lose their jobs, they also lose their health insurance.

4. See? Louisianans don't tolerate all their politicians being corrupt. Only the memorably colorful ones. Good riddance, Dollar Bill.

5. We should all be thinking about ways to improve educational achievement in America. One issue, of particular interest to me, is how to lower tuition rates at colleges (and, uh, post-grad schools). I couldn't believe this stat from the Center for American Progress: tuition has grown by 439 percent over the past 25 years while family incomes have increased by only 147 percent. Seems to me lots of middle-class and lower-income families are being priced out of higher education.

6. In a year filled with them, last week was a particularly terrible week to be a journalist. Thousands were laid off - even a couple handfuls at my old Gannett-run shop in Shreveport - and thousands more will probably face pink slips in the coming months. I offer them my prayers and deepest condolences during this, the worst of times in my relatively short lifetime, to be looking for employment.

7. What happened to Obama Girl? Looks like she was so excited about the election, she could barely keep her shirt on.

8. A high school friend of mine and a faithful reader of this blog is celebrating a birthday today. To honor the occasion, here's a video that reminds us Notre Dame was once a relevant football power. And that Lou Holtz was once lucid.

Continue Reading »

Saturday, December 6, 2008

What's my problem?


First, I can't seem to stop blogging. Even after I promised I wouldn't.

Secondly, last night I watched the entirety of the MAC football championship game between then-undefeated Ball State and Buffalo. I'm already trying to come to grips with the upcoming end of the college football season. Consider it therapy.

Anyway, unless you watched the game last night - and let's be honest, you probably didn't - you won't get the joke above. But, trust me, it's hilarious.

The game itself was interesting, too. Buffalo head coach Turner Gill has orchestrated an unbelievable turnaround with the Bulls, a program that had won just just 10 games in seven seasons before he took over the program in 2006. It's nearly on par with what Bill Snyder accomplished at Kansas State in the early '90s.

Let's hope someone isn't silly enough to push him into taking the Mississippi State job, a thankless job if there ever was one. But Auburn? Hmmm....now we're talking.

(h/t Deadspin)
Continue Reading »

Done and done

There won't be much posting today, as this morning I completed a meaningful milestone that has been my prime focus for the past four months.

Now all I can do is wait.

With that in mind, the SEC title game is set to kickoff, the First Lady and I are going to enjoy a little culture and a night on the town in St. Petersburg, and I'm going to drink a whole lotta of rum and Cokes this evening. Not to mention, the weather is lovely - 73 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. It's days like this that remind me why so many people vacation and retire in Florida.

Let's try again tomorrow, shall we? Continue Reading »

Friday, December 5, 2008

O.J.

UPDATE: O.J. will serve a minimum of nine years in the booty farm. It's about what was expected. But other than the Goldman and Brown families, I really can't understand why anyone else would be happy about that development. I still think the resentment over the not guilty verdict in the 1995 murder trial has more to do with O.J.'s sentence than anything he might have done in that Las Vegas hotel room last year. Which in no way resembles justice.

O.J. Simpson is certainly not the most sympathetic character. But goodness, his future seems mighty bleak:

Nevada prison officials refuse to discuss where Simpson might be assigned, but numerous reports indicate that he will be sent to a maximum security prison in Ely, Nev. And that could make his life even worse. It houses a concentration of incarcerated members of the Aryan Warriors, a white supremacist gang that reportedly manages its operation in part from within the prison walls.

Asked whether Simpson would receive any special treatment either because of his notoriety or the doubt surrounding his acquittal on charges of murdering his former wife and her friend (both white) in 1995, a prison system spokesman said, "When he comes to us, he is not a celebrity. He is an inmate."

This just seems excessive to me. But, you know me, I lean toward leniency.

I don't know that the crime Simpson was convicted of (a questionable conviction at that; Lester Munson notes that the jury "was clearly angry" at O.J.) merits sending a 61-year-old man to prison for no fewer than 18 years. Continue Reading »

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Bailout BS

If the facts don't matter, then why even bother pretending that you're a legitimate news organization?
On the December 3 edition of CNN's Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer falsely claimed that an autoworker who belongs to the United Auto Workers "makes $73 an hour, on average, when you factor in all the benefits, compared to $48 an hour for nonunion autoworkers here in the United States." In fact, according to General Motors, the figure representing the hourly cost of labor to U.S. automakers -- a cost that GM puts at $69 -- includes not only current workers' hourly wages and benefits, such as health care and retirement, but also retirement and health-care benefits that U.S. automakers are providing for retirees, as Media Matters for America has noted.
This line of disingenuous bullshit has needlessly harmed the Big 3 automakers in their pursuit of a government-backed bailout. If the effort fails on it's own merits, fine. But let's at least have an honest dialogue about it, OK?

I expect this sort of thing from FOX "Fair and Balanced" News. But CNN should know better. Continue Reading »

Quote of the Day

"I was like I want to do something a little different. And I had this chick laying with me, and this girl was like POP, SWWWIIIP, POW! That's ... that’s what I like. So we just did a song about it. And the next thing I know I was standing on top of a 30-foot ass, singing about asses."

Sir Mix-A-Lot, explaining the origins of his ode to women like Flo Jo on the aforementioned VH1 Hip Hop show. Honestly, homeboy really opened things up for thick girls. We should all be grateful. J-Lo, Beyonce, Kim K and legions of others had it easier from that moment forward. Continue Reading »

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Huh?

I don't look to VH1 for my cues on what matters in hip hop. Ever.

But I had to mention this egregious error in their recent list of the 100 greatest hip-hop songs: Somehow, someway, "Oh Boy" by Cam'ron finished at 89. Ahead of No. 90 "They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)" by Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth.

What the hell?

UPDATE: I miss Chubb Rock. But he ain't so chubby no more. Continue Reading »

Retro

I saw this video last night.

I had a high flat-top with a fade, wore a Nefertiti chain, jams and Jordans when Mars Blackmon served up the pitch (and they weren't ridiculously overpriced), and even perfected the Kid 'n Play.

Now kids are calling that "retro." Damn.

Continue Reading »

Hater's (Inaugural) Ball

From two trustworthy news sources - British tabloids and the Drudge Report:

Barack Obama has denied his wife Michelle is to receive this £20,000 thank you for her support during the election.

The Harmony ring is made of rhodium - the world's most expensive metal - and encrusted with diamonds.

A spokesman at Italian designer Giovanni Bosco said Mr Obama had asked their American agent about the ring because he wanted it as present for Michelle to thank her for helping over the last two years.


MSNBC Live anchor Contessa Brewer went on to report that Michelle Obama would be getting some "inaugural ice" but failed to mention that Obama's camp had flatly denied the story. Media Matters is already on the case.

I fail to see where this is a problem. As Hov might say, what you eat don't make me shit. Isn't it nice to have a generous husband in the White House?

Most importantly, I'm confused about why this is a "news" story. Are we all going to breathlessly report about everything that ever runs in British tabloids? The Drudge Report? I shudder at the thought.

Be prepared. I think the next four years are gonna be a lot like this, only worse. Continue Reading »

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Dream Team

For reasons that can't be fully explained, I absolutely detest golf. The "sport" is totally unwatchable and, in the wise words of Twain, a good walk spoiled.

I once thought about taking up golf for purely professional reasons. But I couldn't fake my way though the hatred long enough to even go out to the driving range. I guess I was waiting for a time when pick-up hoops might become the white-collar daily distraction of choice.

Well, looks like that day might finally be here. Obama seems to be bringing a "team of ballers" to the White House:


Omniscient reader EC notes something crucial about new appointees James Jones, Eric Holder and Timothy Geithner: They all play Obama's favorite sport. Jones played forward at Georgetown. Geithner reportedly likes himself a good pickup game. And the Times says Eric Holder was once known, impressively, for his "easy dunk." (Cracks EC: "Not even Janet Reno could do that.")

Update: Susan Rice, too! (Sez Ben).

Also in the mix is Paul Volcker, who will head the Economic Recovery Advisory Board for Obama. Volcker is 6′8″ and played basketball in high school. Secretary of Homeland Security nominee and Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano has apparently done some "coaching." And we already know that his brother-in-law and "body man" got serious game, too.

Obama's got a full bench. So, no, I don't think there's any room for the "Barracuda."

But is it really a surprise that the guy who plans to establish an Office of Urban Policy would be in love with the city game? Holder even tried out a little trash talk on his boss, saying, "I’m not sure he’s ready for my New York game.”

Man, that's change we can all believe in.

Photo from The AP.

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