Saturday, October 4, 2008

Calling her shot

It occurred to me last night, while watching yet another replay of the veep debate, that Sarah Palin telegraphed at least one of her passes, so to speak.

Do you think it's possible Palin asked Sen. Biden "can I call you Joe?" at the start because she wanted to set up the faux folksy “There you go Joe, there you go again" line?

Had she been forced to refer to him in more formal terms throughout the debate, Palin wouldn't have been able to get the line off to any effect. Thus, she had to ask for permission.

Either way, the ploy fell flat. Most people recognized it for what it was: a scripted riff that she'd been waiting all night to pull from her notecards. How mavericky. Continue Reading »

The Juice is no longer loose

O.J. could spend the rest of his life behind bars. I'll defer to the wisdom of Avery for a moment:

Once he got arrested again, he had to know he was going up. It doesn’t matter what they got him for — it could’ve been for stealing a candy bar, he was going up. It’s done now. I ain’t follow no parts of the trial, so I can’t claim any real knowledge, but the charges seem to be a little extra. But whatever. Dude had to know many, many people were out to get him, yet he just kept running around, staying visible. Sometimes you just gotta know when to lay low.

From the day - actually, 13 years ago to the day - Simpson was acquitted in the highly publicized murders of his ex-wife and her friend, it was only a matter of time before he was at the mercy of the courts again. Without the talents of Johnnie Cochran or a jury of his peers, Simpson was not going to be able to wriggle himself out of trouble this time.

It's sad, on a number of levels. I really don't like to see a 61-year-old man sent to prison for what could be, at a minimum, a 15-year sentence, for a crime in which no one was hurt. But there always seemed to be a sense that, no matter the evidence, O.J. was being retried on those old murder charges. It again confirmed to me that black people really don't want to their fates to be in the hands of 12 people - none of them black (it'll be interesting to see if people criticize the judgment of this trial in the way they did the much-browner California panel in 1995).

My mother once told me a story about a time she had to serve on a jury, a battery case against a 17-year-old kid who got into a fight in his high school cafeteria. The other 11 jury members were eager to go home and send the kid to jail for a few months; not my mother. She heard out the evidence, considered that he had no prior record and held firm against those who wanted to convict him. My mother, not normally an emotional sort, spoke with deep empathy for a teen she'd almost certainly never crossed paths with before: "I just imagined that that could have been you and I'd want someone in there willing to stand up for you." It goes without saying that the teen was black.

Long story short, my mom revealed her concerns to the judge and a mistrial was declared. The boy was free, if only for the moment. I was proud of my mother and worried for the rest of us unable to have her sitting in the gallery.

Don't get it twisted: O.J. is no saint. This could easily be a case of karma coming back to kick him in the ass. But when I look at Simpson, I'm reminded that it's important to live a life of prudence, humility and modesty. And to avoid the courtroom at all costs.

The late, great writer Ralph Wiley, who had absolutely no love lost for O.J., put it this way:

Ordinarily, guilt of a 'black' (unprivileged) man is assumed. That is as much Privileged Man's Unwritten Law as the ability to snuff one's wife. ... The polls were the first I ever heard of that asked, Do you think a 'black' man is guilty? Never heard of much call for such a poll before. ... But there is nothing in the precedent of the American legal system that would make a 'black' person answer a poll about the guilt of a presumed 'black' man any other way. Where is the big surprise? All of those of questionable guilt, guilt by heredity more than of any crime, and now here you come taking polls? ... Well, hell no then, he's not guilty, said the unprivileged who were polled, meaning they were not guilty - that their uncles, brothers, husbands and fathers who had been victimized by the many historic peers of Mark Fuhrman were not guilty.

What's that line about people "who don't know history ... yada yada yada"? Wiley saw it all coming, more than a decade ago: "If Juice did this sin, there's no getting away from it. ... O.J. Simpson is going straight to Hell."

But only after he finally goes to jail.
Continue Reading »

The Mighty Have Fallen. And haven't gotten up.

From Wide Right to Off the Radar.

What in the name of Dennis Erickson and Warrick Dunn is going on here? Did you realize that Florida State and Miami will tee off today at Dolphin Stadium and virtually no one cares?

Or did no one realize "College Gameday" will be broadcasting from Nashville for Vanderbilt's home game against Auburn? That would never have happened if Butch Davis was still around and Bobby Bowden still gave a damn. It's a virtual travesty.

This whole development really makes me sad because, even growing up in the football hotbed of Texas, the best college rivalry of my youth was Florida State-Miami. And, to me, it wasn't even close - way ahead of Texas-OU or Texas-Texas A&M or Ohio State-Michigan.

Now Charlie Ward has been replaced by some guy named Christian Ponder. Or maybe it's Drew Weatherford again. I watched a little of Miami's sloppy loss to North Carolina last week and could hardly recognize any of the Hurricanes, save Edgerrin James' cousin.

Florida State lost to Wake Forest - for the third year in a row. Miami was rolled by 23 at Florida - the state's new college heavyweight - and is coming off that defeat to the Tar Heels. Neither team is ranked, nor should they be.

As has been the case in recent years, both teams have explained away their horrid offenses by trying to turn attention to their moderately stingy defenses. But we all know it's an excuse. There's no stars on these teams anymore, no matter what the apologists say. No one can take a 10-yard out and turn it into a 60-yard touchdown. I can almost assure you there won't be any drama Saturday on par with this.

And that's too bad. Like nearly everyone else, I'm looking for an excuse to care again. Continue Reading »

Friday, October 3, 2008

Stop with all the questions

Sarah Palin is whining about the degree of difficulty of her now "widely panned" interview with Katie Couric.

"The Sarah Palin in those interviews was a little bit annoyed," the Alaska governor told Carl Cameron of Fox News today. "It's like, man, no matter what you say, you are going to get clobbered. If you choose to answer a question, you are going to get clobbered on the answer. If you choose to try to pivot and go to another subject that you believe that Americans want to hear about, you get clobbered for that, too."

"In those Katie Couric interviews," Palin said, "I did feel that there were lot of things that she was missing in terms of an opportunity to ask what a VP candidate stands for, what the values are, represented in our ticket." Those subjects, she explained, included Barack Obama's positions on taxes, spending and Afghanistan.

"So I guess I have to apologize for being a bit annoyed, but that's also an indication of being outside the Washington elite, outside of the media elite also," Palin said. "I just wanted to talk to Americans without the filter and let them know what we stand for."

So, Palin honestly expected Couric to let her roll through her talking points - with the help of notecards at that - with no pushback?

Give me a fucking break. If Palin and the GOP want to disseminate their message without filter to their base, they should pony up and pay for ads like everyone else. Or, like the rest of her Republican bretheren and sisteren, she should continue to make the rounds on FOX News and conservative lackeys like Hugh Hewitt.

As Frank James says, "Governor, you can't be serious." Then again, we already knew that. Continue Reading »

Springfield ... Florida?

Homer Simpson tries to vote for Barack Obama. Continue Reading »

Who didn't see this coming?

Lawrence Phillips, off to prison. I can't believe it took this long.

It's been a bad week for aging, wayward running backs. Continue Reading »

The gameplan

Via Andrew Sullivan, a glimpse at the Sarah Palin debate flow chart. Then there's this offering from "The Moosehunter":
I pity the poor bastards that had to prep her for (Thursday's) debate with Joe Biden. And while I wasn’t taken with her performance, I will give them credit. They made an organized mess out of a disorganized disaster. So there’s that.
I'll be revisting last night's debacle this afternoon, as time and coherent thought allows.
Continue Reading »

Hot buttered popcorn

Six days stand between me and a long-awaited return to Houston. That makes me feel like doing something like this.

UPDATE: Expect posting to be sporadic throughout the day with a surge sometime in the evening. I've got plenty to do at my day job, and it'd be a good idea if I spent time trying to knock all that out. I'll be back, though. Continue Reading »

Blackink post-debate punditry

Since this seems to be the format in the blogosphere tonight, some post-debate thoughts from yours truly:

1. I'd tell you who I thought won but who really cares? Nothing happened tonight that will move the polls decisively, one way or another. At least, that's what I think. Biden went out and did his business. Palin gave a passable impression of a coherent politician - barely. Both sides should leave satisfied.

2. Pat Buchanan is having trouble with the facts on MSNBC tonight, and I'm disappointed that neither Chris Matthews nor Eugene Robinson have called him on it. Over and over again, Buchanan talked about how Palin connected with "ordinary Americans." This, despite a CBS poll showing that undecided voters watching the debate thought Biden won by 46 percent, compared to 21 percent for Palin. Also, a CNN poll titled “Who Did the Best Job In the Debate?” showed Biden with 51 percent of the vote and Palin with 36%. I can only assume these voters are not Buchanan's sort of ordinary Americans.

3. Were I a Democratic operative (and I'm most certainly not), I'd definitely want to bring up Palin's suggestion - repeatedly - that the Vice President be given more control over the Senate. How Cheneyesque of her. You would think she'd be humble enough to be awed by the power already bestowed upon the No. 2 office in the country. I guess it's not enough for her.

4. Once again, cable networks should refrain from inviting on clearly partisan "political analysts" to offer up their thoughts on the debate. Let them save it for their press releases the next morning. This sort of partisan hackery does nothing to educate the voter.

5. Palin believes in civil unions? Really? She and McCain may revisit that one tomorrow.

6. I agree with most of the other pundits: moderator Gwen Ifill was either limited by the debate's format or as publius said, "they got in her head."

7. As I watch the replay of the debate, I realize that I forgot to mention that Joe and Sarah both love Israel. Aw, isn't that cute?

Ok. I'm done with this. After tomorrow, I might not blog anything political for a couple of days (I realize this is a promise I likely can't keep). But I've been missing too much football over the past week. Also, I want to cover of hip hop-related items, think through the reason why BET is a necessary evil and consider if Palin is referring to people like me when she talks about "Joe(l) Six-pack." At the least, I hate beer.


UPDATE: Here's a transcript of the debate from CNN.

UPDATE 2: Forgot to mention that Palin never answered the question about her Achilles heel. In fact, she never addressed it. At all. I suppose it's possible that she doesn't know what an Achilles heel is.

UPDATE 3: Palin: "People aren't looking for more of the same. They are looking for change." Can you plagiarize a campaign slogan?

UPDATE 4: I should mention that Biden's reflection on his family was the most powerful moment of the night. As Nate Silver said, "What kind of prop odds could you have gotten on Biden being the one to cry?"

UPDATE 5: Palin pretty much lets us know in advance that there's not going to be many - if any - interviews with the "mainstream media": "I like being able to answer these tough questions without the filter, even, of the mainstream media kind of telling viewers what they've just heard. I'd rather be able to just speak to the American people like we just did." What a joke.

UPDATE 6: I didn't realize that our freedom in this nation was ever in doubt. But, according to Palin, it is. I guess we should be afraid.

Continue Reading »

Thursday, October 2, 2008

From politics to football

In those moments between the debate and the post-debate analysis, I managed to catch the final minutes of tonight's game between South Florida and Pitt.

In the end, another top-10 team - Tampa's own South Florida - was knocked off in one of these made-for-TV Thursday night specials.

That means: the Big East likely won't have a team in the BCS title game; Dave Wannstedt is in first place for possibly the first time in his head coaching career; and lots and lots of powerhouse programs will begin to reconsider the benefits of playing on Thursday night.

To me, it doesn't make much sense to agree to one of these games. The drawbacks - throwing off your regular weekly routine, for instance - far outweigh the benefits. Ask USC.

By the way, Pitt running back LeSean McCoy is quite a talent. Near the end, there was a stat showing him with 98 yards on 20 carries on runs between the tackles. That, my friends, is what we call shoving it down your throat (we actually called it something more crass than that in my college days but I won't take it there tonight). Continue Reading »

Once again it's on

As usual, no live-blogging of the vice-presidential debate here. Maybe next time. But if you're into that sort of thing, here's some links:

The Daily Dish
Washington Monthly
Talking Points Memo
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Think Progress

For what it's worth, I think Sarah Palin is going to work that "Joe Six-Pack/Hockey Mom" thing to death tonight - lots of smiles, anecdotes and mavericky-chatter. It's her only hope to keep from looking overwhelmed and overmatched. So far, she's not doing too badly.

But let's be honest: in the end, this probably will have little to do with what happens on Nov. 4.

UPDATE: My prediction, by the way, is that the deeper we get into the debate, the more incoherent and unsure Palin will get. By the hour-mark, perhaps, she'll be unable to revert to her talking points without seeming repetitive and empty-headed. Remember: she doesn't have a well of knowledge and experience to draw upon when she gets stumped by a question.

UPDATE 2: It's happening.

UPDATE 3: What do you think she's writing on those note cards while Biden talks? "Help!" or something like that?

UPDATE 4: "Past is prologue." Nice line from Biden. He seems to be finally finding his footing. Biden was sort of, uh, "wonky" early on. (on another note, looks like I'm live-blogging after all. Sort of).

UPDATE 5: A solid shot from Palin, riffing on the "for it before you were against it" line in regard to Biden's vote on the Iraq war. It'll play to the crowd she wants it to play to. She's cruising right now.

UPDATE 6: Sigh. A "team of mavericks." Somewhere, Dirk Nowitzki is in Dusseldorf, disavowing himself of that claim.

UPDATE 7: Good gosh. How in the hell am I supposed to listen, think and type at the same time? This is impossible. And possibly a mistake.

UPDATE 8: Wow. Pitt is leading South Florida 17-14 at the start of the fourth quarter. How did that happen? (I love having a TV with picture-in-picture).

UPDATE 9: I probably need to pickup my to-go order from Chili's. I'm sure they'll replay this later tonight. I'll check back in a bit. My initial impression is that, well, nothing much will come of this.

UPDATE 10: Ah, we agree. "He is the man that we need to leave." Continue Reading »

"Rap City" is a wrap

Another bit of my childhood is gone, after 21 mostly educational years. Rap City will be missed.

Understand, I don't think we got cable at my home until I was about 9 or 10. And I really didn't start becoming a true hip hop head until I was 13 or 14 - roughly around the Joe Clair era (wikipedia says someone named Prince Dejour was the host during my middle school years but I have no clue who that person is).

Anyway, growing up in Houston, you weren't going to hear much on the local radio beyond the most popular (read: pop) acts - MC Hammer, LL Cool J, Fresh Prince, the Beastie Boys and a handful of hometown acts like the Geto Boys, UGK and anyone lucky enough to get on a Screw tape. But I was almost completely missing out on exposure to some of those East Coast pioneers, guys like Rakim, Erick Sermon and Big Daddy Kane.

Rap City helped to fill in the gaps, and for that, I'm forever grateful.

So, as a show of overdue respect, here's my list - not necessarily in any order - of my favorite hip-hop videos from that era. Notice that almost all of them told some sort of story. To be diplomatic, uh, things done changed.

1. NWA - Express Yourself
2. A Tribe Called Quest - Scenario
3. Wu-Tang Clan - Cream
4. Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth - They Reminisce Over You
5. MC Hammer - Turn This Mutha Out
6. Nas - TheWorld Is Yours
7. Geto Boys - Mind Playing Tricks on Me
8. Rakim - Know The Ledge

I just went with the eight that popped into my head. I'm sure I'll come up with more when I finally get around to checking out VH1's "100 Greatest Hip Hop Songs."

UPDATE: Speaking of music and death, check out this ridiculous (yet entertaining) story involving the illustrious Bobby Valentino on my friend Kelley's blog.

UPDATE 2: I might not post again this afternoon, not until I run a few errands and take in the spectacle that should be the vice presidential debate. Should be fun.

UPDATE 3: Can't believe that I left "Me Myself and I" by De La Soul off the list. What an omission. I apologize for that one. Damn. Continue Reading »

Gwen Ifill

I got some things to say about folks who would question the professionalism of tonight's moderator, Ms. Ifill. But I think I'll hold off until after the debate.

All I'll say about this - for now - is that I'm tired of being suspect and tired of having to explain myself and tired of needing to verify my credentials. And I'm only 30. I can only imagine how someone as accomplished and experienced as Ms. Ifill might feel.

I'm torn. I'd like to see Ms. Ifill step down, if only to quiet the chorus of folks trying to work the refs and eliminate all this silly chatter. But if she were to take a pass on tonight's debate, then it would be a terrible setback for black journalists: it would only give renewed credibility to the those who believe we - brown-skinned media members - can't do our jobs without maintaining a sense of fairness and professionalism.

(Sigh). I'm disappointed in myself. I can't believe I didn't see this coming. Continue Reading »


Megan Garber of the Columbia Journalism Review has a point: maybe we aren't showing enough deference.

Sarah Palin has done nothing but volunteer to serve the nation—our nation—by being A Heartbeat Away From The Presidency; how dare you ask her about the situation in some foreign country? Have you left no sense of decency?

This behavior simply cannot continue. The audacity we’ve seen in our media of late—Katie Couric, as you may have heard, recently had the temerity to ask Palin about the economy—is becoming a disgrace to the profession, and an insult to all Americans. Those who care about journalism and its future must unite against such misbegotten attempts to inform the electorate.

Continue Reading »

Verbal intercourse

Since I sling verbs, nouns and occasionally adjectives for a living, this piece about Sarah Palin's creative approach to language was interesting to me:

Yet surely, more than most of us, politicians need to be able to think on their feet, to have a brain that works quickly and rationally under pressure. Do we really want to be led by someone who, when asked a straightforward question, flails around like an undergraduate who stayed up all night boozing instead of studying for the exam?

I don't know. Do we?

UPDATE: For the uninitiated, "Verbal Intercourse" is the title of an old-school Raekwon joint featuring Nas and Ghostface. Check it out. Continue Reading »

The bandwagon is full. For now.

With the veep debate upon us and football season in full swing, I've forgotten to acknowledge that the Tampa Bay Rays will play the first playoff game in franchise history this afternoon.

Good for them.

I won't pretend to care because: I'm from Houston and, thus, I'm an Astros fan; it's hard to develop affection for a team you've only followed for about nine months; and I don't really like baseball.

But at least I'm being honest. There's nothing more distasteful to me than bandwagon fans and it appears that the Tampa Bay area has a fair share of them - not surprising since so many people here are transplants from New York, Boston and Chicago.

Keep in mind, this was a franchise that finished 26th out of 30 teams in average attendance this year. There are reasons for this:

The Rays play in an antiquated indoor stadium in a provincial market where per capital income ranks among the lowest in the game. The team's $44 million payroll is second-lowest in baseball to the Florida Marlins', and it does not figure to rise to the level of more well-heeled franchises in the coming seasons. ... The Rays drew crowds of 30,000 or more on 23 occasions (winning 21 times), though eight of those were boosted by free Saturday-night postgame concerts by the likes of LL Cool J, Trace Adkins, and Kool & the Gang. As recently as Sept. 18, with the Rays closing in on a playoff berth, they drew just 17,296 against the Minnesota Twins.

All that to say, Las Vegas or Charlotte could have themselves a pro baseball team within a decade.

That, of course, shouldn't detract from the improbable success of the Rays this season. But it's obvious that St. Petersburg - and probably the Tampa Bay area as a whole - doesn't deserve or can't support (same thing) a baseball franchise. And a couple weeks of good times in the Trop this October ain't gonna change that.
Continue Reading »

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Gotcha journalism?

No matter what sort of scoring system you use, the contrast between veep candidates Joe Biden and Sarah Palin in their respective responses to Katie Couric's query about Supreme Court decisions is, uh, stark.

As Hilzoy says, this isn't about being a legal scholar. It's simply about providing one example of something that most of us learned in high school, some in middle school. (If anything, this is an indictment of the public school system in Alaska.)

But according to Palin and the McCain campaign, this is gotcha journalism. And Palin would presumably know, with a degree and professional experience in the field, right?


(I'm desperately trying to make this post my official round-up of Palin links for the day. I don't want her to overwhelm this spot when there's too much other stuff to get into).

UPDATE: Biden should be careful not to underestimate Palin during tomorrow's debate (though, like, TCU against SMU, it must be hard not to), warn Palin's former rivals in Alaska.

UPDATE 2: Andrew Sullivan is a little more brusque in his critique of Palin: "She makes Stephen Glass look like George Washington. It's pathological."

UPDATE 3: About time.

UPDATE 4: Joe Six-pack? Really? "Their combined income of nearly a quarter-million dollars last year was five times the median household income for Wasilla's 7,000 residents. They own a single-engine plane, two boats, two personal watercraft and a half-million-dollar, custom-built home on a lake that is worth three times the average of other homes in town."

UPDATE 5: If the Good Governor was looking for a Supreme Court case to reference, she probably should have just stuck with the one she issued a statement about a few months ago. Just saying. Continue Reading »

Blame at the intersection of Wall and Main

I'm no financial adviser but seems to me that George Will and Joel Stein - quite an interesting alliance, eh? - have a point here: the responsiblity for our nation's financial crisis falls on the shoulders of irresponsible borrowers as much as greedy Wall Street bankers.


Do you have credit card debt? Did you buy a house with less than 20% down, or with an adjustable-rate mortgage, assuming that skyrocketing equity would let you refinance or flip it? Of course you didn't, because you're a super-intelligent reader of my column. ... Americans have been living beyond our means, and we should have recognized that fact the moment we saw those glass Voss water bottles. But we can recover from our misbehavior through a little austerity, like having only one house -- perhaps one NBA players couldn't play chicken in.

Good point. Next ...


Democratization of everything is supposedly an unquestionable good, but a blizzard of credit cards (1.5 billion of them, nine per cardholder), subsidized loans and cheap money has separated the pleasure of purchasing from the pain of paying.
I would never resort to the idiocy - or the not-so-latent racism - of blaming the Community Reinvestment Act or ordinary Americans who simply fell behind on their payments as the housing market bottomed out.

But it's hard to dispute that the so-called Main Street bears some of the fault for our economic collapse. Some, not all. And it's something to remember when considering taking out a loan for a home we can't afford or piling on thousands of dollars in credit-card debt. (Don't even get me started on the fallacy of the benefits of home ownership. The First Lady really doesn't like to get started on that one, given that she'd someday like to stop living in apartments).

Yes, the burden for this massive failure runs down a couple streets - Wall and Main. Pointing fingers doesn't solve problems. We could all use some work curing ourselves of irresponsibility and greed. Continue Reading »

A PSA for safe sex

Travis Henry: a certifiable grease fire. Continue Reading »

A history lesson

Since we're talking about polls and all, I should mention that President Bush appears headed for the worst disapproval rating in history. Even worse than Nixon.
But fundamental advantages for Obama remain. ... McCain's laboring under the Bush legacy. With the current economic situation, a record 70 percent of Americans disapprove of George W. Bush's job performance; a career-low 26 percent approve. McCain's problem: Fifty-three percent of registered voters think he'd lead the country in the same direction as Bush, inching back up over a majority.
Given that we have a really important choice to make this fall, the apparent bitterness in our electorate reminds me of something important I read recently in Esquire from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Suskind.

George Walker Bush is not a stupid or a bad man. But in his conduct as president, he behaved stupidly and badly. He was constrained by neither the standards of conduct common to the average professional nor the Constitution. This was not ignorance but a willful rejection on Bush's part, in the service of streamlining White House decision-making, eliminating complexity, and shutting out dissenting voices. This insular mind-set was and is dangerous. Rigorous thinking and hard-won expertise are both very good things, and our government for the past eight years has routinely debased and mocked these virtues.

Sound familiar? Continue Reading »

A surge of a different sort

Of course, we're still about a month away from Election Day, but most of the latest polling finds Barack Obama ahead in pivotal swing states Ohio, Pennsylvania and, yes, my new home state of Florida.

I'm struggling to remember the last time I've read anything that remotely portends good things for the McCain campaign on Nov. 4.

Though, of course, we should all be cautious about reading too much into any poll because much of these shifts have occurred in the past two weeks. There's a lot of time left on the game clock and, sometimes, Hail Marys actually do find their intended target. Continue Reading »

The fallout from no bailout

Those "no voters" in Congress may start taking a new wave of phone calls to their offices once their constituents start to see the daily consequences of failing to pass the $700 billion bailout.

In my efforts to get smarter people to handle the heavy-lifting over here, Ed Paisley at the Center for American Progress goes into a pithy but pointed analysis of the fallout:

“It’s-a-Wonderful-Life” banking doesn’t really exist anymore, when banks took in deposits, made loans from those deposits, and earned a reasonable profit on the interest. Today, even deposit-heavy commercial banks borrow in the markets themselves to raise money to lend to borrowers and in turn sell those loans to institutional investors worldwide—earning vastly higher profits in the process. Unfortunately, after being severely burned after purchasing soon-to-be troubled residential and commercial mortgage-backed securities, these investors are not buying any debt, be it credit card, auto loans, or student loans that banks and other financiers want to package and sell to them. And the banks themselves can’t borrow except at extremely high rates of interest to make those loans in the first place. The consequence: a severe contraction in the availability of credit for cars, college, or retail purchases.

The failure of our banks is something that people will only be able to appreciate once it starts to play a heavy hand in their own lives. I'm thinking, soon enough, Congress will get the 12 votes it was missing earlier this week. Bet on it.

Also, my friend and fellow blogger J.P. - an honest-to-goodness "moderate" - invokes the words "pig" and "lipstick" in response to an editorial from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that suggests "rescue" sounds better than "bailout." Watch it, J.P. You very nearly sounded sexist there.

UPDATE: For whatever reason, the nation's economic crisis has made me think back to the prescient words of "Mathematics." Powerlift the powerless up out of this. Continue Reading »

From Anchorage With Love (again)

Far, far, far away from the elite liberal media, here's a video from the Anchorage Daily News about the news story that arrived with Sarah Palin on the national stage: the so-called Troopergate investigation.

It's definitely worth a gander. And serious consideration.

As an aside, I can only imagine the reporters at the Daily News are, in some ways, eating up all this white-hot media attention on the Alaska Governor. Don't be surprised to see some of these reporters and editors move on to bigger and better-paying jobs should Palin make it into the White House.

Or even if she doesn't. It's akin to the tide that lifted the boats, so to speak, of reporters in New Orleans after Katrina or Patriots beat writers following those three Super Bowl titles. Big news often makes big stars of the opportunistic journalist. Play on, players. Continue Reading »

Regular reading

Hilzoy thinks of all the newspapers Sarah Palin might be reading on a daily basis. You know, when she's made her way through the funnies in the Frontiersman and the business section of the Bristol Bay Times.

Once she's finished with all the newspapers in Alaska, it's an especially impressive list. Particularly the publication printed in Burmese.
I guess all that stuff about Putin rearing his ugly head and entering Alaskan airspace must have been part of the McCain campaign's clever expectations management game. I, for one, will never underestimate Sarah Palin again.

Maybe Hilzoy is right. Maybe we've been underestimating her all along. Maybe some of us will have to eat our words after all.

And maybe, by setting such a striking example, Palin can single-handedly turn around those dreadful revenue projections for U.S. newspapers. She might actually be the agent of change we've been looking for all this time.

Or not.

UPDATE: Palin takes Easy Street, complaining of journalism ethics in an effort to defend her horrific performances in front of Katie Couric and Charlie Gibson. Look, everything begins to take the look of a "pop quiz" when even the easiest questions - what do you read? - seem able to trip her up. She's making this hard on herself. I'd argue that Palin hasn't really had a tough interview to this point. Continue Reading »

Wild ass

Churning the other cheek.

(Hat tip to Gordon Keith). Continue Reading »

And I forgot to mention Forrest Gregg

In the moments before Raiders owner Al Davis fired Lane Kiffin and hired current offensive line coach Tom Cable as the interim head coach, my homeboy Zen and I quickly came up with the names of some potential replacements.

The qualifications: someone who hadn't been an NFL head coach in more than 10 years; someone who was an abject failure in a previous NFL stint; or someone who had never even held a clipboard on an NFL sideline before, like a small-college coach. This seems to be the criteria Davis has used in the recent past, so we were trying to keep the search as realistic as possible.

In about 15 minutes, here's a few names that we came up with: Sam Wyche; Jack Pardee; Jerry Glanville; John Jenkins; Art Shell; Jim Wacker (whoops, he died a few years ago); Tom Flores; Matt Millen; Major Applewhite; Dom Capers; Mouse Davis; Vince Evans (since Davis seemingly kept him as the backup quarterback for about 20 years); Joe Bugel; Dennis Franchione; and Mike Ditka.

Honestly, nothing would have surprised us.

But good luck to you, Tom Cable. And make sure to keep an updated resume on

UPDATE: It's now that I think of my cousin Mike, who spent some of his childhood summers in the Bay Area and grew up rooting hard for the Raiders. For years, Mike ordered a fan letter called the "Raider Report" when he lived in Dallas and would even play with the Raiders during any and all Madden contests. I can only imagine that he's got heartburn over the unraveling taking place in Oakland. Continue Reading »

Why I'm now considering MySpace

After only three months, the popularity of Facebook in Blackink's home has been fading - fast - in recent weeks. No real reason. It's just a time drain.

Yesterday's announcement won't do much to reverse the trend. At all. Continue Reading »

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Race and the race

Jimi Izrael asks a question I hadn't thought much about in recent weeks but, nonetheless, could prove important at some point: is Sarah Palin colorblind?

... what does Sarah Palin know of people of color? She doesn’t have to be former a Soul Train dancer or charter member of the NAACP. She doesn't even have to line dance or play saxophone. But tell me something. Maybe she's colorblind, in a bad way, as in, she doesn't even acknowledge people of color or the racial divide in America. I’m concerned that someone who probably has had limited interaction with people of color could possibly be the president of the United States.
I'm not sure black people - or anyone, for that matter - should depend on Palin or the federal government to be particularly responsive to the important issues that meet at the nexus of culture and politics. What's more, the problems that afflict the so-called black community are the same ones of dire importance to the rest of the country: the massive credit crunch, the war in Iraq, rising fuel costs and the health care crisis - to name a few.

Obviously, as an example, we can speculate as to the reasons behind the delayed response in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. But that massive federal failure should be of concern to everyone, not just the unfortunate dark-skinned souls who were stranded and scrambling in the days after the storm.

Still, Izrael asks an important question. One that, like a lot of other things, that Palin likely hasn't given much thought. It'd be nice if she was a charter member of the NAACP but it's not necessary. I just want her to give us black folks in the lower 48 the same consideration she gives those moose-hunting, ice-fishing hockey moms in Wasilla. It's not much to ask, I think.

UPDATE: One of my good friends from Shreveport, Tyrone, actually went to college in Alaska after being discharged from the military. He talks fondly about those days. So, I guess there's always that.

UPDATE 2: Speaking of race and the upcoming election, this video is really sad. But it feels and sounds very, very familiar to me.

UPDATE 3: In case it wasn't evident, Tyrone is black. Continue Reading »

A lack of courtly wisdom

On the subject of Sarah Palin's apparent inability to name one Supreme Court ruling other than Roe v. Wade, this post from Michael Tomasky is more than a little devastating.
This is insanity. I understand that there are people who don't think it matters that a candidate knows anything about American history. If she's "like me," that's enough. Well, I'm sorry, but if she's "like you" and you can name only one supreme court decision from all of history, then that's not enough to be the vice-president and help run the country, and I'm not an elitist for saying so.
I mean, she couldn't recall Plessy v. Ferguson or Brown v. Board of Education? That's approaching "are you smarter than a fifth-grader?" territory.

Maybe, just maybe, Thursday's debate will put an end to this charade. Continue Reading »

A suggestion for handling liars

As a card-carrying member of the elite liberal media, I can tell you that one of the foundations of our industry is seeking out and reporting the facts as we can confirm them.

To ferret out the truth, we depend on the candor and veracity of a number of sources. At best, mining the truth becomes the thread of any story or article even as we attempt to be fair to both sides of an issue.

But if after a couple of times we find that source to be unreliable or, say, a remorseless liar, we stop going to the well. In short order, we simply remove his or her name from our Rolodex.

What, then, do we make of Steve Schmidt, a strategist for the McCain campaign? Schmidt and others have repeatedly made false claims about Barack Obama's tax plan, saying that it would increase taxes on people that make as little as $42,000 a year. He knows this is a lie. It's been debunked as a lie many times over during the course of the campaign. It's become a bit of a joke. Except that it's not funny - lying to voters thwarts the political process.

So, where do we go from here? Do we - in the media - continually stick a microphone or recorder in Schmidt's face and allow him to resort to that misleading refrain? Do we quote Schmidt and then follow up with the truth in the same story? Or, maybe, do we stop considering Schmidt to be a reliable source?

It's something that I've done a number of times in my career: someone lies to me one too many times (like twice), and then I have to start going elsewhere for information.

I reckon that every reporter has dealt with this in the course of their career. There's really only one way to handle a source who remorselessly lies to you. The stakes are too high in these days of a 24-7 news cycle, where your mistakes and corrections can often take on a life of their own.

So, again, how do we handle Schmidt? Continue Reading »

Right is wrong

Honestly, I wish there was another way. It would really be nice if black folks could occasionally line up behind another political party that would represent their best interests. I, for one, would love another option. That way, no one could ever take our votes for granted.

But, alas, many of us will remain rock-ribbed Democrats. It's easy to see why, especially as we see some of the talking points coming from the arch-conservative crowd in the midst of our national economic crisis.

You didn't know that black folks, other minorities and assorted poor folks were to blame? Well let Rep. Michele Bachmann, Ann Coulter, Neil Cavuto of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and others from their right-wing ilk enlighten you.

Or not. Not surprisingly, that bigoted bunch is wrong, wrong, wrong. Here's some brain food from the Congressional Black Caucus:

There is no evidence to support Rep. Bachmann’s assertion that “minorities” caused the current financial crisis. Laws designed to open opportunities for equal access to credit do not require banks or thrifts to make loans that are unsafe or unprofitable. In fact, laws like the CRA mandate exactly the opposite. […] Additionally, research clearly shows that the majority of the predatory loans that have led us to this financial mess were originated by non-bank financial institutions and other entities that did NOT have a CRA obligation and lacked strong federal regulatory oversight. Shifting the blame for the current economic crisis to laws that allow equal access and opportunities to communities of color is ridiculous.
Right. Not to mention guys like Representative John LaBruzzo, a Republican from Metairie, who is floating eugenics as a possible - and plausible - solution to the global credit squeeze. Really.

So, once again, we're forced to consider the source. This sort of racial scapegoating seems to be exclusive to the GOP (and if I'm wrong, please provide some examples from this century). The sad thing is, I've stopped being surprised.

I don't even ask questions about where this sort of garbage comes from anymore. In the words of Denny Green, they are who I thought they were. Continue Reading »

Monday, September 29, 2008

To-do list

I haven't had a lot of time to delve into much today but a couple things that I plan to revisit in depth, tonight or tomorrow:

1. Why black people are to blame for the nation's economic meltdown. This is a riff off TNC's posts today.

2. What journalists should do if McCain operatives insist on lying about Obama's tax plan. Or lying about Obama, period.

3. Why people should not get too excited about OU being No. 1 - I lived in Oklahoma when this last happened. The ending wasn't pretty.

4. The 10th anniversary of the release of "Aquemini."

Heading home now. Holla later.

UPDATE: MSNBC's Rachel Maddow is off to quite an auspicious start in her first couple of weeks. Told ya so. Continue Reading »

What's playing in my deck...

It's been a long time since I cut on the ol' iTunes and let it roll in the morning. Let's see what's in the mix:

1. Do It by B.T. Express
2. You by Raheem DeVaughn
3. Across the Tracks by Nas featuring Papoose and Blitz (I want to make sure: this is a Curtis Mayfield sample, right?)
4. 1st of The Month by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
5. I Got a Thang for Ya by Lo-Key

It feels a little like 1994 this morning. In any case, I'm off to a very slow start. There'll be more later. Continue Reading »

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Two-minute drill

USC's biannual meltdown in Corvallis on Thursday night was the perfect kickoff to a wacky weekend of football. Three of the nation's top five college teams were knocked off, the Dallas Cowboys lost at home to the Redskins in a huge upset and Rice University now has the most prolific pass-catch combo in NCAA history.

All of it unbelievable. Let's get into it, from the cheap seats as it were:

1st Down: Well, the bloom is certainly off that Nov. 1 showdown between Florida and Georgia. In fact, Florida will face a virtual BCS elimination game against LSU on Oct. 11. But all of a sudden the matchup between Oklahoma and Texas became extremely important to the national title chase. Just as the Red River Shootout should be.

2nd Down: Once again, my hatred of the spread offense was justified when Tim Tebow was stopped short on the pivotal 4th-and-1 in Florida's 31-30 loss in Gainesville. Look, if you can't turn around and handoff the ball to a tailback and get one yard, then you're not a title contender. Especially if you can't get that yard against Ole Miss. That said, the Rebels pushed the Gators around on both sides of the line all day long. I can't imagine Florida posing a serious threat for the SEC championship with front lines that soft and an offense that predictable.

3rd Down: Speaking of soft, how about Georgia? Sheesh. Of course, I pointed out that the Bulldogs were frauds way back when the polls first came out. Looks like the two best teams in the SEC are Alabama and LSU. Good thing they can resolve this on Nov. 8, assuming they can navigate their schedules. Which is far from a guarantee.

4th Down: Bad day for Green Bay. The other, less-obvious downside of jettisoning Brett Favre is that no one quarterback in NFL history has ever been as sturdy and reliable as No. 4. Now the Pack will likely have to go with one of two rookie quarterbacks with a team built for a Super Bowl run. Good luck with all that.

Turnover on downs: There's no way to explain how bizarre and unfathomable it is that Rice's Chase Clement and Jarrett Dillard set the new NCAA standard for touchdowns by a quarterback-receiver tandem. Not because of the players. But because it's Rice.

Understand that I grew up in Houston, played against Rice in college and even briefly covered them as a sportswriter during the Ken Hatfield era. Few people were as committed to the conservative triple option offense as Hatfield. If the Owls threw more than five passes a game, it was a certified shootout. This was as recent as 2005.

And now they're flinging it around like Don Coryell is dialing up the plays. What a 180.

Also, here's a great story about a former Texas schoolboy quarterback legend turned rock star turned 27-year-old backup Tarleton State quarterback. I also learned a lot more about Creed than I would have expected. Continue Reading »

Jigga Man, ya heard

Here's a moderately interesting interview with the Jigga Man in Time Out New York. In the aforementioned interview, we learn Jay likes Bellinis, still won't talk about his wife and calls the "emergence" of hip hop as the biggest cultural influence on NY in the past 13 years.

Not to be a second-guesser here, but I'd probably go with 9-11. But that's just me.

Anyway, Jay-Z was one of 40 people chosen by the magazine to celebrate the - I believe - 40th anniversary of the flagship publication's availability in London. Convoluted, I know.

But Time Out was able to interview disgraced former New York governor Eliot Spitzer, his first Q&A with media since the summer scandal that forced him out of office. He doesn't really get into anything that we'd actually want to know about.

There's some other interesting people on the list - Tina Fey, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Stephen Colbert - but little in the way of revelations. Still, check it out. Continue Reading »

Art mocking life

Tina Fey reprised her role as McCain's No. 2 on "Saturday Night Live" last night.

In the words of the Huffington Post, "no parody was required."

UPDATE: Here's a roundup of thoughts about Palin from folks who follow this a lot closer than me. The general consensus is that this show is becoming uncomfortable to watch.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention that Chris Rock absolutely killed during his recent appearance with Larry King. One of the best lines of the night was about McCain's veep pick: "I thought Al Davis made the choice, or something. That's how bad it was." Continue Reading »