Monday, December 12, 2011

Last Call

So here, the Cincy sports world is still talking about Saturday's UC-Xavier men's basket-brawl game at the annual Crosstown Shootout on Saturday, but the issue of race and college sports, especially in basketball, is often overlooked.  ESPN's Myron Medcalf had the same reaction I did to the story:  would the reaction of the college b-ball press and Hamilton County prosecutors have been the same if the athletes who did this were white?

As a 28-year-old African-American, I'm concerned about the backlash that will outlive the incident. Xavier and Cincinnati fed negative stereotypes about the violent nature of young black men that will last long after players serve their suspensions.

They're not true. Most young black men aren't violent. But Saturday's incident and others like it provide ample evidence for those who disagree.

Check the message boards.

Predictably, plenty have feasted on the viral violence involving multiple young black men.

After Cincinnati officials announced the six-game suspension for Yancy Gates on Sunday, I tweeted, "I figured 10 minimum for Gates. 6?"

Here's how one of my followers responded: "Only six? That's pretty soft for a gang beating."
Too often, the negative behaviors of young black men -- more than other groups -- are tied to their race. Their actions are sometimes viewed as cultural, instead of individual

Medcalf rightfully goes on to say that as college athletes who have been given an incredible gift and the opportunity to use it to better themselves, that they are being held to a higher standard because of the number of folks out there fully vested in seeing black men fail, and that's basically been the case for a very, very long time.

That in no way excuses their actions.  In fact, it makes Fox Sports Ohio writer Zac Jackson railing against the stiff suspensions given out to several players by both coaches and calling the suspensions "soft" not only totally predictable but nearly impossible to counter without bringing up race, and in a situation like this that's simply going to be a losing argument.

It's an unfortunate reality, made all the more real by our country's current political tensions.  Cooler heads should have prevailed.  They did not.  Maybe I am overly sensitive being a pretty big black man myself.  My father cured me of my temper in youth by sitting me down and explaining to me that as big as I was, if I ever really hurt anyone in anger, that I would not be shown leniency in any way by the system in North Carolina.  I had to be better than that, not for his sake, but for my own.

You're just not allowed to show anger like that as a black man in America.  And the reactions to this fight highlight exactly why.  It's a lesson that has much wider applications for our political times, but that's an argument for a different night.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Old Broken Down GOP opinion on debates:  Debates are stupid and meaningless.  Voters only care about whether or not candidates are likeable enough to have a beer with. Dubya and Palin won all their debates just by agreeing to this outdated nerdy nonsense and showing up.  Real presidents don't have time for debates.

New GOP Hotness on debates:  Debates are the most important thing ever and Newt Gingrich will put that uppity empty suit affirmative action hire in his place because he is the smartest Republican alive, just ask Ross Douthat.

It’s easy to see why this kind of myth-making would infuriate Obama’s opponents. And so ever since the 2008 election, the right has embraced a sweeping counternarrative, in which the president’s eloquence is a myth and his brilliance a pure invention. Take away his campaign razzle-dazzle and his media cheering section, this argument goes, and what remains is a droning pedant, out of his depth and tongue-tied without a teleprompter.

This is where Gingrich comes in. Just as Kerry’s candidacy represented an attempt to effectively out-patriot George W. Bush (“You have a war president? We have a war hero!”), the former speaker has skillfully played to the Republican desire for a candidate who can finally outsmart and out-orate Obama. 

Ahh, but Douthat concludes.  The debate stuff really is meaningless...because President Obama really is nothing more than a pathetic affirmative action hire, so we don't need to prove it.

More important for the Republican Party’s purposes, it isn’t 2008 anymore, and conservatives don’t actually need to explode the fantasy of Obama’s eloquence and omnicompetence. The harsh reality of governing has already done that for them. Nobody awaits the president’s speeches with panting anticipation these days, or expects him to slay his opponents with the power of his intellect. Obamamania peaked with the inauguration, and it’s been ebbing ever since

See, he's dumb.  Just quote the unemployment rate for an hour and you win.  That's what a real President would do against President Black People Aren't That Smart After All, Huh?

So yes, the Republicans like Ross Douthat are indeed now trying to have it both ways:  debates are meaningless because President Obama has already lost on his record and he's pretty stupid anyway, so it doesn't matter in the end.

Of course, you could have seen that one coming a mile away.

Ten Thousand, Maniacs?

And while I gave my reasons why Mitt Romney's $10k bet gaffe won't hurt him in the primaries, in the general election it would be another story.  The DNC is already all over it with a new ad.

This will be long forgotten, should Mitt survive to make it as the candidate (still not convinced that will happen) but at least the DNC's rapid response people are swinging at the fat pitches over the plate.

Mother Fights To Learn How Son Died

Linda Rowell will not rest until she knows what happened to her son Vincent.

He was 21 years old in September 2009, when he stole a municipal dump truck in Birmingham and drove it west to visit some friends in Mississippi. He was arrested after a late-night police chase through two counties, booked on three felony counts and placed in the Walker County Jail in Jasper, Ala., population 14,000.

Six days later, he was found dead on the floor of his cell.

What Linda Rowell cannot understand, and what no one can explain to her, is why. "There's holes everywhere in this story," she said.

Rowell said she has been suspicious from the start, since she got the late-night call from the Walker County coroner saying that her son was dead.

"He told me that my son died of an enlarged heart," she said. "Then I get the death certificate, and it tells me that he died of an accident."

For more than two years, authorities in Walker County have ignored her repeated requests for information about her son, Rowell said, and have never provided an investigative report into the circumstances of his death.

With the help of a legal team, the information coming out shows inconsistencies and outright conflicting information. What is disturbing is that it has been requested and stalled. This woman has the right to know what happened. If she can bring this to trial then documents will have to be released and investigated, and officials would have to risk perjury because their testimony will be under oath. That alone should discourage anyone with something to hide. Still, what we do know is a young black man died on the floor of his jail cell after a week of pain and begging for medical attention. Anyone within range of this is going to be splattered with guilt.

The injury that ultimately caused Rowell's death was a dinner-plate sized bruise on his hip, which led to massive internal bleeding and the formation of a large blood clot in his abdomen. "The clot broke off and went to his lung and that's what caused him to die," Ward said.

But it is not the injuries that truly haunt Linda Rowell, although she believes they were inflicted deliberately by police, not in any accident. It is the thought that her son's slow and painful death came on the floor of a jail cell, while he begged for help that never arrived.

Despite her repeated inquiries, she said, jail officials will not explain why her son died in his cell, and not in the county hospital, just five minutes down the road.

"They knew he was bleeding and he was hurting," Rowell said. "They walked by him like he was nothing."

But Vincent Rowell's pleas for help were heard by Andy T. Sanford, an inmate in the next cell over, awaiting transfer to state prison after a theft conviction. According to Sanford, Rowell begged for medical care, but was mocked and berated by jail staff. He did not eat for nearly a week, Sanford said, a claim backed by the autopsy, which found his stomach totally empty.

"He said that he needed help. He was scared. He was scared that there was something real bad wrong with him," Sanford said in an interview with Doyle. "You could tell this kid was hurting."

Ward, the medical examiner, agreed that Rowell would have been in significant pain before he died. Timely medical intervention would probably have saved his life, she said.

Those are some pretty damning facts. But without facts of any kind this poor woman has had to imagine what her son suffered before he died. It's time for the truth to come out.

Man Suspected Of Beating Kids... At Parent's Request

IRVINE, Calif. -- An Irvine couple who suspected their 15-year-old son of smoking turned to a man believed to be relied on in their church to violently discipline children, authorities said.

The parents asked Paul Kim, 39, to discipline their son after finding a lighter in his possession, dropping the boy off at Kim's Chino Hills home with permission for the beating, San Bernardino County sheriff's spokesperson Cindy Bachmann said Saturday.

Kim hit the child with a metal pole about a dozen times, causing severe bruising on his legs, according to Bachmann. The pole was about an inch in diameter, investigators said.

It seems several families have had this service from this man. He is suspected of doing this to other kids, because their parents asked him to. If you aren't up to the task of beating your child yourself, I suppose hiring someone would be the logical choice for some idiot out there.

I'm really not happy with how often religious and criminal stupidity cross-reference.

Mitch Turtles Up

My senator, Mitch McConnell, is confident there "will be a deal" to extend the payroll tax cut.  It's a good sign, meaning that yes, President Obama has gotten the better of the GOP again.  The question now is, as always, can the GOP leadership control the Tea Party nutjobs in the House enough to make the deal work?  That's not always a given.

We're going to reach an agreement," McConnell told "Fox News Sunday," noting there is "bipartisan support" for extending the tax cut.

The 4.2 percent payroll tax that workers pay to fund the Social Security retirement system will return to 6.2 percent in January if Congress fails to act. That would raise taxes on 160 million Americans an average of about $1,000 per family.

Democrats have led the charge to extend the tax break, raising pressure on Republicans to join in or face possible voter backlash in next November's congressional elections.

The House of Representatives is set to approve a Republican plan as early as Tuesday to extend the tax cut, tying it to a bid to accelerate approval of TransCanada Corp's Keystone XL pipeline project between the United States and Canada.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid has said the plan would be rejected by his chamber because of the Keystone pipeline provision opposed by President Barack Obama.

Senior congressional aides predict that Reid and the top congressional Republican, House Speaker John Boehner, will soon take the leading in brokering a deal -- just as they did in a budget fight this year to avert a partial government shutdown.

Republicans want that Keystone XL pipeline for their big energy interests.  The President has punted on the deal until after the election, and TransCanada is warning that if the deal's not closed now, they'll walk away.  On the other hand, the Republicans would be far more hurt by raising taxes on the middle class over some oil pipeline nonsense.

And they know it.  This is why Mitch is freely talking about a deal before it's happened.  Details are a killer, however.  Keep in mind also that Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum all oppose extending the payroll tax cut, while Gingrich, Romney, and Ron Paul support it.  We'll see what shapes up this week...oh, and there's more government shutdown fun on the horizon too for this week.  Keep an eye on both stories, they'll move fast.

Turn On The Lights, Watch The Roaches Scatter Part 83

Not sure what's more depressing about this story on Wells Fargo reaching a legal settlement with multiple states for defrauding local and state governments:  that Wells Fargo is this crooked, or that the states need the money so badly they're willing to let Wells Fargo off the hook for chump change.

Wells Fargo & Co. and regulators announced Thursday a $148 million settlement to resolve accusations that Wachovia, which was purchased by Wells, participated in a bid-rigging scheme that hurt state and local governments.

It's the fourth major bank to settle with the consortium of federal agencies and state attorneys general. Bank of America Corp. settled for $137 million last December.

The settlement is also the second Wells Fargo has made on the issue in as many months.

"We're really pleased to resolve the issue," Wells Fargo spokeswoman Dana Obrist said, noting that it involved activity that predated the company's 2008 acquisition of Wachovia.

In a statement, the bank said it "cooperated fully" with the investigation and does not condone illegal activity.

The federal agencies alleged that a group of large banks conspired to defraud local governments and other entities that bought municipal derivatives, which are used to invest money from bond proceeds until they are needed for projects. Bankers coordinated what they would bid on the contracts and in some cases paid kick-backs to one another, investigators said.

A total of $54.5 million will go to towns, school districts and nonprofits around the country as part of the settlement with 26 state attorneys general.

"Rigging the system to prevent fair competition cost taxpayers, local governments and schools millions of dollars," North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said in a statement. "I'm pleased that we've been able to win money back for those who were harmed here in North Carolina."

Granted, if you're a local government on the brink and have laid off thousands of employees, this money comes at a damn good time and it will make a difference.  On the other hand, there's no way Well Fargo should still be in business after all the nonsense it has engaged in, and they're basically getting a pass while continuing to rake in money from the government.

It's a victory for this battle.  The war was lost long ago.


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