Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Mississippi McCains

I shouldn't - and really don't - care about this, in terms of the campaign or what it might mean for potential governance, but John McCain's Mississippi roots include a family history of slave ownership:
In a year when the historic nature of Sen. Obama's candidacy is drawing much comment, the case of the Teoc McCains offers another quintessential American narrative in black and white. For the black McCain family, it is a story of triumph over the legacy of slavery; for the white McCains, it is the evolution of a 19th-century cotton dynasty into one rooted in an ethic of military and national service.
Genealogy has always fascinated me, in part because I have absolutely no knowledge of my roots beyond four generations or so and, most likely, my family roots will snake back into the days of slavery.

But I don't know what, if anything, the aforementioned story means about McCain, his family or his campaign. Maybe nothing at all. I'm not all that interested in holding present-day folks responsible for the actions of their ancestors; I care specifically and very personally about how those actions inform their present-day behavior and beliefs.

To that end, McCain should be held responsible for the race-baiting tactics his surrogates have engaged in in recent weeks. He should know better, and perhaps naively, I expected better from him.

UPDATE: If this post seems a tad incoherent, I apologize - this is an issue I'm still working my mind around and I'm unusually tired this morning. I may come back to this one. Continue Reading »

Computer Love, SEC remix

As a fan of college football virtually from birth, I grew up a Southwest Conference guy and, particularly, a fan of the University of Houston. Then I played for a school - TCU - that was briefly a member of the 16-team Western Athletic Conference (I even work out today in a WAC 1997 Championship Game T-shirt).

After college graduation, I pretty much started following the Big 12 because it was easier and I was familiar with all the teams. But in recent years, after moving to Louisiana and then Florida, I almost gave myself over to the hype and hoopla of the Southeastern Conference. I was all ready to ease off my longstanding refusal to bow to the greatness and competitiveness of the SEC, starting this season.

Then, pretty much, the SEC went all pedestrian on me this year - Alabama is No. 2 because no one else in the Top 5 can seem to handle the heat; Florida lost at home to Ole Miss; LSU got absolutely eviscerated at the Swamp; Georgia has no heart at all and proved it in falling behind 31-0 to Alabama in one half; and the rest of the teams really aren't worth mentioning.

But, by far, the best part of following the SEC has been the revelation of the contents of Tommy Tuberville's gmail account. Not to mention, the e-mail accounts of Sylvester Croom, Phil Fulmer, Houston Nutt and Bobby Petrino.

I'll never doubt the fervor of football fans in the South. They take the game seriously down here, even the computer hackers. Continue Reading »

Friday, October 17, 2008

Big day

Thursday, to quote O'Shea Jackson, was a good day:

1. I had a No. 9 with double meat and potato salad - a college favorite of mine - with an old friend in Fort Worth.
2. I spent nearly $100 on TCU paraphernalia and it was worth every cent.
3. The First Lady and I met up with some good friends in Shreveport.
4. BYU learned that you can't half-step when you step into Amon G. Carter Stadium.
5. And, since I promised to share with you, my faithful readers, the First Lady said yes. I can't say for sure, but this is probably the highlight of my young life.

More highways and hotels today. I'm hoping that later today or tomorrow I can settle back into a regular blogging routine. Once again, please bear with me. More later. Continue Reading »

Thursday, October 16, 2008

McCain on women

I'm still between hotels and the Interstate, so I don't have much time to flesh out my breakdown of last night's debate.

But one thought that lingers is this: if John McCain's platform was going to be, essentially, "women's health ... fuck that" and "equal pay for equal work, man, that's stoopid," you've got to wonder what was the purpose in selecting Sarah Palin.

Maybe McCain was hoping she could wink and flirt their way into the White House. Who really knows? This is a guy who once referred to his wife in such unflattering terms that "trollop" was actually the least insulting term. Continue Reading »

Got jokes?

If CNN is looking to tangle with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert for ratings and younger viewers, D.L. Hughley probably isn't the way to go. I mean, we're talking about a guy who was clearly the weakest link on "The Original Kings of Comedy."

And Hughley wasn't all that funny on "Comicview" either.

Anyway, I'm good with Rachel Maddow for now. But is Chris Rock not interested in TV anymore? Patton Oswalt would be an out-of-the-box pick for CNN but is one of the funniest guys on the mic today.

Sandra Bernhard, however, would be a bad idea. Continue Reading »

Gone eating

So, there was this debate tonight between presidential nominees Barack Obama and John McCain. The third and final one. A debate moderated by a legendary TCU alum.

And I missed it. Thus, no live-blogging.

But it was for a good cause. If you don't believe me, you should try a funnel cake topped with cherries, powdered sugar and whipped cream yourself. Not to mention a fried Twinkie and fried Oreos (pictured at right).

I'm still going through the replay of the debate (watching without benefit of a DVR sorta sucks) and, so far, I haven't seen anything that should change the outcome on Nov. 4. McCain, as usual, looked and sounded angry and resentful. Obama, as usual, looked and sounded calm and collected. I'll have more on some of this stuff later.

In all, however, I'm glad I got away from 24-hour TV news channels and my Dell - if only for an evening. The First Lady feels much the same way.
Continue Reading »

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Post-racial America

Is this a Joe Six-Pack, a working-class American or a resident of Main Street?
Continue Reading »

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What's playing in my deck...

... and likely to be playing in my rental 2008 Dodge Avenger (Dodge is really making some nice cars these days) over the next couple hours.

1. Don't Sweat the Technique by Eric B & Rakim
2. Gigolos Get Lonely Too by Morris Day and The Time
3. Who Run This Shit? by Jadakiss featuring Jay-Z (Jada probably deserves honorable mention on my list of all-time underrated MCs)
4. If You Really Love Me by Stevie Wonder
5. You're a Customer by EPMD

I'm off to Austin, Dallas and Shreveport over the next couple days with The First Lady. Dinner with friends at Shady Grove, some quality time at the Texas State Fair - ever had fried C0ke before? - and a return to our second home are on the itinerary. As to be expected, blogging will be sporadic. But bear with me; I'll be dropping in from time to time.

Before I go, one last song: Complexity by The Roots featuring Jill Scott. Get familiar, folks. Continue Reading »

The problem with pirates

Via Michael Tomasky, a Columbus Day reminder that piracy attacks are happening all over the world. Especially along the African coasts - three of the world's five high-risk areas are along the coasts of Nigeria, Tanzania and Somalia.

This comes on the heels of a year that saw a 10 percent increase in pirate attacks, according to the New York Times.

The report said that pirates were better armed and more violent in 2007, with 18 vessels hijacked worldwide, 292 crew members taken hostage, five killed and three still missing.

Guns were used in 72 attacks, up 35 percent from 2006. The report said 64 crew members were assaulted and injured, compared with 17 in 2006, with most of the attacks occurring off Somalia’s coast.

The report said pirates used rocket-propelled grenade launchers and automatic weapons as well as larger vessels to launch smaller craft that were used to attack ships farther away from Somali’s coast.

I suppose, no matter who becomes president or who finishes atop the BCS, some things will never change. That said, I'd like to see more talk on the stump about what we can do to disarm these fiendish sea bandits. Piracy is most certainly a 21st-Century problem, if not an October problem. And my concerns about taking a cruise seem, at last, somewhat reasonable.

UPDATE: Much like their real-life counterparts, the Tampa Bay Bucs had a resurgence in 2007. The Bucs went 9-7 a year after finishing 4-12.
Continue Reading »

Fighting for Florida

If polls keep trending the way they have in recent weeks, there will be little of the Election Day drama in Florida that defined the previous two presidential elections.

Up by nearly five percentage points in current projections, Barack Obama could conceivably claim Florida's 27 electoral votes early on the night of Nov. 4. That is absolutely amazing. And a testament to the Obama campaign's work ethic and gameplan.

While opponents have tried to reduce Obama to a precocious, lightweight wordsmith (they can't decide whether he's naive or a slickster), the Democratic nominee has doggedly gone about the business of kicking ass at the hard work of culling new voters. This development has gone virtually unnoticed because of the economic collapse, the inanity of Sarah Palin and the Republican resurrection of Bill Ayers as a line of attack.

But Obama's lead in the polls in Florida is even more impressive when you consider that he didn't even visit the state during the primaries. Thus, McCain seemed to have all the advantages this fall: Florida tends to trend conservative; popular Gov. Charlie Crist endorsed him early in the GOP primary; and McCain had a four-month headstart in campaigning.

None of it mattered in the face of Obama's expansive ground game. And, in short, this could be part of the reason McCain seems to have grown surlier on the trail in recent days. McCain and his campaign probably never could have dreamed that Obama would be so willing and able to outwork them in this way.

Florida, in many ways, might be a microcosm of all the little things the respective campaigns did and didn't do over the past few months. Once again, McCain seems to be coming up short.
Continue Reading »

Wrong is wrong

If this report is true, then we should demand the same civility that we demand of others on the other half of the ticket.

I'm not defending the substance of Wisconsin talk radio host James T. Harris' plea at the John McCain rally last week, I'm merely defending his right to say it without being slurred by others. Hate mail and the casual use of hateful terms like "Sambo" and "slave" serve little purpose other than to erode the credibility of the accusers.

What's more, intraracial attempts to shout down the rare black conservative like Harris do more to strengthen perceptions that black folks are a monolithic voting bloc that cast ballots according to skin color and not their best interests. Not a good look. Continue Reading »

A radical concept of honesty

Politifact offers a masterful takedown of GOP allegations linking Barack Obama, William Ayers and the Chicago Annenberg Challenge:
In short, this was a mainstream foundation funded by a mainstream, Republican business leader and led by an overwhelmingly mainstream, civic-minded group of individuals. Ayers’ involvement in its inception and on an advisory committee do not make it radical – nor does the funding of programs involving the United Nations and African-American studies.

This attack is false, but it’s more than that – it’s malicious. It unfairly tars not just Obama, but all the other prominent, well-respected Chicagoans who also volunteered their time to the foundation. They came from all walks of life and all political backgrounds, and there’s ample evidence their mission was nothing more than improving ailing public schools in Chicago. Yet in the heat of a political campaign they have been accused of financing radicalism. That’s Pants on Fire wrong.
Absolutely. This whole concept of "guilt by association" is tiresome, unserious and completely dishonest, particularly for those who generously give their time to other public charity boards. Even the use of the word "radical" has been misappropriated in yet another bit of campaign chicanery.

But it's an ironic - and consistent - course of action for a flailing campaign that has demanded "candor and truthfulness with the American people" on the Ayers issue. Instead, we'd all do well to demand the same from these accusers in their dozen (or so) glass houses. Continue Reading »

Monday, October 13, 2008

Hef's cover charge

I probably was never going to be invited to a party at the Playboy Mansion anyway, but those odds pretty much dropped to sub-zero in light of Hef's recent financial troubles.

The mansion’s hedonistic grounds have long been rented out for corporate events, but Hefner’s private parties have been free to those invited. Now, John and Jane Q. Public can buy their way in to some of those events – albeit for a hefty price. Tickets to parties hosted by Hefner sell for $5,000 to $25,000, depending on the event and celebrity guest list.

Eh, no biggie. Holly and Kendra won't be there anyway.
Continue Reading »

Two-minute drill

Ok, so I wrote this first item before learning this morning that Tony Romo would be out for the next month. The Cowboys are a dumpster fire, I tell ya. Right about now is the time that they're going to come apart at the seams.

1st Down: I'd like to officially withdraw my preseason pick of the Dallas Cowboys as the top team in the NFC. Don't say I'm overreacting either - this has been coming for some time. But this tidbit from Matt Mosley's blog, in a nutshell, highlighted my concerns about the Cowboys as a legit Super Bowl contender this season:
"Maybe we need our a---- chewed out or something," Crayton said. "You never know. Sometimes that jump starts something. We need to step up and play ball."

Crayton went on to say that the team "bops around" during practice and that the Redskins loss should've been a wakeup call. "We hit the snooze button," he said.

With all due respect to Wade Phillips, the rear-chewers now reside in South Florida. The Cowboys embraced Wade's touchy-feely approach, so it's interesting to hear a player yearn for discipline.

A lack of talent certainly isn't the issue at Valley Ranch. Maybe a lack of toughness is. Not to mention, T.O. is acting more erratic than McCain on the eve of the vote for the $700 billion bailout. That dude worries me.

2nd Down: I'm sticking by my AFC choice of the Indianapolis Colts, though. Especially with the Patriots, Chargers and Steelers looking very, very vulnerable. Those teams just don't have enough bullets in their gun. And it was only a matter of time before Peyton and Co. awoke from their slumber.

3rd Down: Texas might be No. 1 for the moment but it's definitely not the best college team in the nation. No matter, since the Longhorns will almost certainly not make it unscathed through an upcoming three-game stretch of Missouri, Texas Tech and Kansas. And Oklahoma will be there again at the end.

4th Down: For once, I'd like to see NFL commish Roger Goodell show some restraint and defer to our legal system before rendering judgment against troubled Cowboys cornerback Adam Jones. I can't believe the NFLPA has allowed Goodell to completely steamroll them on this issue. He's already set a dangerous precedent. There's going to need to be some pushback at some point.

Turnover on Downs: On Thursday night during the Clemson-Wake Forest game, I asked a group of friends if Tommy Bowden was trying to get himself fired. Looks like he didn't have to try all that hard. Continue Reading »

Why write?

When I agreed to join the staff of my current employer almost a year ago, I felt like I was initiated into some prestigious journalism fraternity. During my interview, I spent more time talking about the actual craft of journalism than I had at any point in the previous eight years.

It was nice to talk shop with serious practitioners, you know? It was even nicer to be invited into the fold to learn and pursue the craft.

Obviously, since then, everyday hasn't been the same. Some days are better than others, some are worse and most often I've been merely preoccupied with keeping myself useful and on the company payroll.

Well, this afternoon I came across a link to this speech by an alum of my newspaper. Needless to say - cornball that I am - I was all renewed with appreciation and ardor, not only for my employer, but for the trade.

There’s absolutely no substitute for being there and experiencing something. The hope is that this felt experience of what the subject is feeling is what emerges in the story, and the facts of it will be unassailable, because you were there and you were an eyewitness.

... But if there’s anything I can promise to keep doing, it’s to go out with the empty notebooks and to try and document what’s going on in the country—and I promise to do it even as the ground shifts beneath the newspapers.

Those words mean something very deeply to me, especially as I watch our punditry class rely on tired old narratives about "Main Street" and "Wal-Mart Moms" and the "Black Vote" and "Joe Six-Pack" and on and on. These phrases presume to mean something but are mostly lazy-ass cliches that come from lives spent in an office on the phone and not in the field. And the field is where everything is happening and unsuspecting people are waiting to fill the pages of notebooks.

Anne Hull, keep on preaching and writing. And thank you. Continue Reading »

Texas: Home of the Idiocracy

In the two previous presidential elections, Texas was essentially a foregone conclusion for Dubya and the GOP. Texas was no battleground state: the battle ended a long time ago here and the Republicans left streams of (red) blood in their wake.

Consider that GOP presidential nominees have carried Texas in every election since 1980 and Republicans have held all statewide offices here for, at the least, the past decade.

But, among the reasons listed as factors working in McCain's favor is this little nugget of info: Texas is "a low education state."

Really? The test ground for "No Child Left Behind"? You don't say.

Do you think it bothers Republicans, at all, that at least some of their political advantage in Texas comes from grooming a less-educated electorate? That's probably a question that needs no answer, huh?
Continue Reading »

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Roots

Because it's Sunday, that's why.

UPDATE: I must have soaked up this idea from TNC because he did the same thing Friday. I went with "Star," he went with "Water." Either way, it's all good music. Continue Reading »

Obama is an Arab

The official line coming out of one of McCain's campaign offices in Minnesota.

Apparently, some McCain surrogates have completely given up hope on beating Obama on the issues. But we knew that already, didn't we?

Tell you what: I'd be a helluva lot more concerned about the Idiocracy maintaining a hold on our government than any so-called Arab.

UPDATE: The Chairman of the Virginia GOP is offering "bold new leadership" for the party. Apparently, that includes linking Obama to Osama - and this isn't a mere slip of the tongue. Continue Reading »

Rooting for the Rays

With the Tampa Bay Rays headed back to Boston tied at 1-1 with the Red Sox in the ALCS, it's probably time to take stock of the franchise's remarkable futility over the past decade.

Enough is enough: The poor, beleaguered Rays fan deserves a defense. The mistake here isn't to sneer at expansion teams—to be uncomfortable with a team whose color scheme involves teal or magenta hoisting a World Series trophy is just to be a baseball fan. Rather, it's to regard duration, rather than intensity, as the proper measure of baseball suffering. By a standard that holds that a team deserves to win in proportion to what it's endured, the Rays have as great a right to a trophy as anyone else. Cheering for the Cubs is like carrying on with a rotten tooth; cheering for the Rays has, until this year, been like being stabbed in the face repeatedly with a butter knife.

Hard to disagree. I've rooted for some mediocre teams over the course of my lifetime - the Houston Oilers of the early-to-mid 80s and the University of Houston hoops teams in the post- Phi Slamma Jamma era come to mind - but nothing quite as putrid as the Rays.

Though I can't bring myself to jump on the bandwagon, it's nice to see the honest-to-goodness Rays fans experience some October ecstasy. Continue Reading »

More about Bush

Reggie, that is. If Bucky Brooks was trying to prove that Reggie Bush wasn't a bust, then he'd have done well to steer clear of this description:

Toward that end, Bush is a lot like former running back/receiver/kick returner Eric Metcalf (pictured at left), who ranks second on the all time list with 12 return touchdowns. The 13th pick of the Cleveland Browns in the 1989 draft, Metcalf never developed into a full- time running back in his 13-year career, but he earned three Pro Bowl berths as a returner and earned a reputation as one of the top multi-purpose players to play the game.
Sorry, but I saw lots and lots of Metcalf's games when he was in Cleveland. And I wouldn't have used a No. 2 or No. 13 pick on him. And that goes double for Bush.
Continue Reading »