I know the N&R has sharpened its focus on local news instead of stuff you saw on tv last night or the web this morning, and I understand that the lottery is a big big story...but I was shocked to see the devastation of a sizable swath of the United States played below the lottery coverage on page one of today's paper. Maybe I'm old fashioned to expect such a document of the obvious, but Katrina seems a story beyond the scope of normal news judgment.
Guilford GOP chairman Marcus Kindley: "When you have your lunch or dinner today, think for a moment of that mother with a baby in her arms somewhere in Mississippi with no food, no clothes, no bed for her baby. Think and ask yourself....what can I do to help this person. And then thank God for living in America, and for all the gifts you have."
Glenn Reynolds is coordinating (scroll to "update" at bottom) a web-based relief effort for tomorrow.
Reading between the lines: Andy Burke leaves GSO's economic development team for a job in a tertiary market, and reaction is, um, undismayed. The merger of three local groups seems to have created a squeeze at the top, and Burke's position may not even be filled. Skip Moore is pretty blunt about in the N&R: "I don't think there will be a big hiccup without Andy (Burke) there."
Maybe the Voice of God editorial isn't dead...it just needs something worthy of its wrath to be interesting. Today's N&R thunders: "North Carolina residents who want to play the lottery should take what happened Tuesday in Raleigh as a warning: The state will win by any means."
After detailing the sleight-of-hand that got the lottery bill passed, the editorial concludes, "It all adds up to a dishonorable public policy. The state's leaders, starting with the governor, have taken the easy way out. That's the whole idea of the lottery theme...In the final analysis, nothing will be gained, but much will be lost. The first casualty was the state's integrity."
The Paul Hackett effect? Iraq war vet Tim Dunn will challenge shaky-looking incumbent Robin Hayes in NC's 8th Congressional district. Somebody needs to help the guy with his web effort. He'll be on the Brad & Britt show tomorrow morning at 8:10, 101.1 FM.
Looks like North Carolina will have a lottery. It took some maneuvering, to say the least. I thought it would happen much sooner, and although I have decidedly mixed feelings about it, I'll surely play when the pot is big enough.
Local bloggers and Greensboro 101 will sponsor a forum for at-large City Council candidates on Tuesday, September 27th at the Weatherspoon Art Museum. Michael Christopher will moderate. Bloggers and readers are invited to submit questions to Hardy Floyd (firstname.lastname@example.org) by September 18th; anyone attending the Greensboro Bloggers Meetup at Panera on Lawndale on Sept 21 can vote on which questions will be used. (I couldn't find links to a blog or blogs where all the info is posted in the email announcing this thing.)
I saw the headline and lede of the Times article, reaffirmed that my personal catalog of neuroses and projections does not include this particular set of of problems, assured my wife of same when she read the article...but apparently a lot of men are kind of freaked out by watching their wives give birth, to the point of diminished attraction to their mates, and a lot of other people judge them harshly for that. It does seem like a bit of a madonna/whore complex is at work, or at least a lack of understanding that we are animals and some of our body parts are multi-purpose tools, but there you go, people are freaks and this is less freaky than a lot of stuff I hear.
I was happy to be there for the birth of our children, both of them, although if there had been a third one I might have stayed home in bed. Just kidding, darling, the miracle of life never grows old, although the wonder of having my hand crushed by yours during each contraction while I was craning my neck to watch Conan on the hospital-room TV did pall after a few hours...I could have skipped the part where they ask the dad to cut the umbilical cord, it did not add symbolic beauty to the occasion for me. Still, it's a surprising, messy, elemental, exciting experience, and the dads really are not asked to do the heavy lifting, so I think those poor saps in the Times (like so many people one reads about in the Times) should find something else to worry about.
UPDATE: Related, from my Mother's Day column: "Hot moms are very big these days. You've got your 'Desperate Housewives,' that whole Demi Moore-Ashton Kutcher thing, and of course the song about Stacy's mom by Fountains of Wayne, complete with Rachel Hunter in a video homage to the climactic scene of 'Fast Times at Ridgemont High.' Do not discuss any of this with your own mom at brunch."
5. Work on the Wardrobe I'm guessing the promotions department made you wear that aqua green rain slicker with the oversized logos, but I gotta tell ya, it just ain't working. How about an outfit that better represents the average tourist -- say a pair of Birkenstocks, bright orange Speedos and a too-tight Nascar t-shirt. For the ladies, maybe a confederate flag bikini and cigarette holder?
Mr. Sun asks me about the real value of the Truth & Reconciliation process. Here is what I wrote:
I think the creation of thorough and fair oral and written history of that time is valuable in and of itself.
I think a better understanding of Greensboro's ownership of much of this drama -- from the role of our police to the damage inflicted on and remembered by our neighborhoods -- is valuable.
I think a better understanding of the depth of government involvement and police failure, even if it falls short of conspiracy, is a valuable lesson worth remembering today.
I think a final accounting of the very thing the CWP survivors have tried to whitewash, that is, the responsibility they bear for their rhetoric and actions, will bring some closure to this whole thing.
I think anything that puts in front of fat happy Americans the economic and social circumstances that lead people to the extremes of the CWP and the KKK is useful.
I hope that a fuller admission that the cops failed that day -- again, in ways that don't have involve conspiracy, but just a basic understanding that the peace was not kept -- may provide context so that the lingering distrust of law enforcement in the black community can be addressed.
I've said all along that reconciliation is to me the most important thing. Look at the 6-3 council vote, and the recriminations and accusations that fly around this project. Maybe writing a meaningful history will bring some of that to an end. I think the conversations online are already a step in that directon.
Justin Catanoso writes a column about Greensboro's creative bloom without mentioning the words "blog," "Converge," or "News & Record." It's a story about creativity from the top down, Richard Florida, Action Greensboro, etc, which is all fine and real, but it feels weirdly incomplete. The single reference to the Internet is made re wi-fi in the the downtown park (by the way, the Biltmore hotel just added wi-fi to better accomodate the panelists and session leaderswho will stay there).
That's the crux of my criticism of this administration. The ones who got us here are mostly still running the joint, some have actually been promoted, the ones who were proven right were fired early on, and the few who left did so with medals on their chests. That gives me zero confidence in the ability of this bunch to pull off Iraq, Iran, or anything more challenging than organizing the White House's annual Easter egg hunt. And if its continued unforgivable reliance on mantras, platitudes and bromides is any indication, our political leadership has about the same level of confidence in its own ideas and abilities that I do.
Googling is healthy and natural. We all do it, sometimes several times a day. We Google ourselves and our friends and rivals and exes. But Googling the boss of Google, Eric Schmidt, is a good way to get Google mad at you.
Have you noticed that the death rate in Greensboro has declined? People are still shuffling off this mortal coil, but judging by the N&R obits the survivors don't want to talk about it. "Passed away" has long been a popular euphemism, and I've noticed that "passed" is increasingly deployed by people who don't want to say "died" (but don't mind making the deceased sound like kidney stones)... but lately it seems that the number of obits saying "gone to be with his Heavenly Father" or "called home" and the like is on a sharp upswing.
I know we live in an era of public displays of faith, but if you didn't have to die to get to heaven then the line outside the gates would be a lot longer.
I prefer the flinty outlook of my friend Norton's New England Congregationalist ancestors, who carved this uplifting sentiment on a family tombstone a couple of hundred years back (yes, I know I've cited it before):
We only know that thou hast gone And that the same returnless tide That bore thee from us still flows on And we who mourn thee with it glide.
What happens after that is a matter of some dispute. But die we do.
Troublemaker nails something important in his recap of the T&R hearings -- the laughable logic that two shots fired in the air from the head of the Klan karavan could be construed as "non-hostile" fire. Troublemaker quotes GPD officer Mike Toomes on the subject, and Lewis Pitts made the same point with biting humor in his presentation yesterday. It's hard to imagine that anyone caught up in a melee would know to interpret those shots in the air as "non-hostile."
Pitts also disputed the FBI's accoustic analysis of the gunfire, and I don't know how reliable it truly was...but when I asked Nelson Johnson if both side were armed with shotguns, he did not argue the point.
Allen Johnson thinks the ACC should pony up some dough for the proposed Hall of Champions in GSO. Maybe so, although I'm not sure of the league's financial structure. Perhaps the ACC schools themselves, flush with TV cash, should kick in some money. What's for damn sure -- the make or break in this deal -- is that the ACC's corporate sponsors should be backing this thing.
I wrote this before plans for the project were even announced: "Jefferson-Pilot, a local company with significant broadcasting and advertising ties to the league ... can provide funds for the project and influence with the ACC. This is JP's chance to ... provid(e) critical corporate leadership for its hometown -- while leveraging its own well-established marketing strategy."
And two years later, with plans on the board: "JP has been sponsoring the ACC for decades -- those of us of a certain age can pause here to sing the 'Sail with the Pilot' jingle from the old commercials -- and its television unit is a major channel for the league's lucrative sports programming. It's a natural fit. If JP isn't interested, this project may be in trouble before it really starts. I would also include North Carolina's big banks and the various fast-food and beverage companies that stop play after every four minutes of basketball to peddle their wares. And I might add Nike, since it is willing to pay millions to plaster that swoosh on anything related to sports."
Didn't The New Yorker used to be famous for its fact-checking?
I went back to my copy of Michele Cone's book, Artists under Vichy, and I have to say that The New Yorker's Peter Schjeldahl seems mighty flippant in his characterization of Michele's argument about Matisse's war-time views, and that Matisse biographer Hilary Spurling could use a new dictionary that better defines the word "allegation."
Read the rest of Aunt Michele v The New Yorker here...
Daniel Dennett in the NYT: "Is 'intelligent design' a legitimate school of scientific thought? Is there something to it, or have these people been taken in by one of the most ingenious hoaxes in the history of science? Wouldn't such a hoax be impossible? No. Here's how it has been done..."
As noted a few weeks ago, my grandfather's family loved to gamble...Today the N&R's Jack Scism includes in his compulsively readable (and sadly unposted) "Remember When" column this clip from the Greensboro Patriot of August 28-Sept. 3, 1905: "Four prominent Greensboro businessmen -- Julius and S.N. Cone, S.J. Kaufman and W.S. Diffee -- posted bonds of $100 each for their appearance in Superior Court to answer to a charge of gambling."
That's the same Uncle Julius from whom my granddad won the silver candlesticks I mentioned...and S.N. Cone was the Solomon cited in the post, the biggest gambler of them all -- within a few years of that Patriot article, Sol lost a corner on the cotton market, shot himself in the head (the friendly local press reported, "Mr. Cone injured in gun-cleaning accident") and lived in good health for another couple of decades with a bullet in the back of his skull.
Things sure are dull around this family these days.
He points to this article in Foreign Affairs by Andrew F. Krepinevich, Jr., a retired US Army lieutenant colonel and author of an important book on Vietnam. Krepinevich begins: "Despite the Bush administration's repeated declarations of its commitment to success in Iraq, the results of current policy there are not encouraging. After two years, Washington has made little progress in defeating the insurgency or providing security for Iraqis, even as it has overextended the U.S. Army and eroded support for the war among the American public. Although withdrawing now would be a mistake, simply 'staying the course,' by all current indications, will not improve matters either. Winning in Iraq will require a new approach."
Back to Brooks: "If President Bush is going to rebuild support for the war, he's going to have to explain specifically how it can be won, and for that he needs a strategy.
"It's not hard to find. It's right there in Andy Krepinevich's essay, and in the annals of history."
Meanwhile, on the opposite page, Frank Rich makes a point I tried to make last week: "It's Casey Sheehan's mother, not those haggling in Baghdad's Green Zone, who really changed the landscape in the war this month. Not because of her bumper-sticker politics or the slick left-wing political operatives who have turned her into a circus, but because the original, stubborn fact of her grief brought back the dead the administration had tried for so long to lock out of sight."
Rich is tough on the Democrats, too: "When the war's die-hard cheerleaders attacked the Middle East policy of a mother from Vacaville, Calif., instead of defending the president's policy in Iraq, it was definitive proof that there is little cogent defense left to be made. When the Democrats offered no alternative to either Mr. Bush's policy or Ms. Sheehan's plea for an immediate withdrawal, it was proof that they have no standing in the debate...
"...The Democrats are hoping that if they do nothing, they might inherit the earth as the Bush administration goes down the tubes. Whatever the dubious merits of this Kerryesque course as a political strategy, as a moral strategy it's unpatriotic."
--The least likely outcome of this process, should the report have any relationship to the facts presented in public, is the one that many opponents have yelled loudest about from the beginning: the whitewashing of the CWP's role in that bloody day. The evidence is clear and overwhelming that the organizers of the march helped set the stage for what happened.
--A big part of this story is that the police failed to do their job of keeping the peace. The peace was shattered. There does not need to have been a conspiracy for this to be true and damning. It does not matter what Nelson Johnson did or did not tell them about staying away. Along with the truth about the lasting impact on Greensboro neighborhoods, this should be one of the key takeaways from this process.
-- Bob Cahoon is a southern lawyer right out of central casting, playing that accent so strong that the transcription on the overhead screen repeatedly read "Walla" instead of "Waller." But just like in the movies, he'll eat you alive if you misunderestimate him.
--Percy Wall said the state's decision to go with first-degree murder charges against the Klansmen and Nazis contributed to having an all-white jury: it was hard to find black jurors who could say they supported the death penalty. I've always wondered if premeditated murder was provable in a case like this.
--Lewis Pitts is a brilliant lawyer, too. His documented account of the FBI, ATF, and GPD knowledge of Klan and Nazi activity was chilling, if not conclusive of active conspiracy by law enforcement in the events of November 3, 1979.
Chewie went to the Truth & Rec hearings, and urges you to go today: "It was a wonderful, interesting, emotional, exhausting day of testimony, and my brain hurts, in a good way." She is not a fan of the media coverage.
One of the things this process has brought to wider public attention -- one of the benefits that might be acknowledged by its many critics who say this had nothing to do with Greensboro -- is the trauma that 11/3/79 inflicted on the residents of Morningside Homes.
I just got an email saying the paper reflects the views of the "white establishment." I have a couple of problems with that. One is the implication that the survivors speak for all non-whites. The other is news value: we know that Nelson Johnson believes it was a police conspiracy, that's much-reported; news is what you haven't heard, and we haven't heard from the cops since the '80s.
The new media foodchain...sometimes starts with the old media. Ann Coulter made a stupid statement in a recent column: New Yorkers would likely surrender in the face of terrorism. Never mind that New Yorkers have already shown themselves to be stalwart in the face of terrorism, Coulter had a political point to make. Nobody seemed to notice this gem, and I would have missed it but for a lack of reading material at lunch last week...I blogged it, Atrios picked it up, and suddenly it's being thrown back in Coulter's face on TV...Blogs as media watchdogs -- glad we're having a session on that at Converge. (Thanks to C&L for the tip).
The ConvergeSouth journalism conference is six weeks from today. The blog conference is six weeks from tomorrow. Registration is free, fast, and online. It's going to fill up fast, so you might want to lock down a space now.
Writing in The New Yorker about Hilary Spurling's biography of Matisse, Peter Schjeldahl supports Spurling's contention that my Aunt Michele (aka Michele C. Cone) was wrong about Matisse's war-time politics, or lack of them. I don't know much about it, but I know better than to argue with my aunt.
Why can't more people discuss the war in Iraq like this? This guy supported the invasion of Iraq, but he's able to talk about the situation on the ground without waving pom-poms and yelling that WE'RE WINNING, no questions asked. His dismantling of the "flypaper" argument is worth reading.
Americans spend $5,267 per capita on health care every year, almost two and half times the industrialized worldÃs median of $2,193; the extra spending comes to hundreds of billions of dollars a year. What does that extra spending buy us? Americans have fewer doctors per capita than most Western countries. We go to the doctor less than people in other Western countries. We get admitted to the hospital less frequently than people in other Western countries. We are less satisfied with our health care than our counterparts in other countries. American life expectancy is lower than the Western average. Childhood-immunization rates in the United States are lower than average. Infant-mortality rates are in the nineteenth percentile of industrialized nations. Doctors here perform more high-end medical procedures, such as coronary angioplasties, than in other countries, but most of the wealthier Western countries have more CT scanners than the United States does, and Switzerland, Japan, Austria, and Finland all have more MRI machines per capita. Nor is our system more efficient. The United States spends more than a thousand dollars per capita per year -- or close to four hundred billion dollars -- on health-care-related paperwork and administration, whereas Canada, for example, spends only about three hundred dollars per capita. And, of course, every other country in the industrialized world insures all its citizens; despite those extra hundreds of billions of dollars we spend each year, we leave forty-five million people without any insurance. A country that displays an almost ruthless commitment to efficiency and performance in every aspect of its economy -- a country that switched to Japanese cars the moment they were more reliable, and to Chinese T-shirts the moment they were five cents cheaper -- has loyally stuck with a health-care system that leaves its citizenry pulling out their teeth with pliers.