Saturday, 01 December 2007

BEING "PRESIDENTIAL", HILLARY-STYLE

Ken Berwitz

I'll let Ed Morrissey of www.captainsquartersblog.com tell you about this one.

Read the following and see what kind of "substance" you get from Queen Hillary - along with how willing at least some media are to pretend it is there:.

Talk About Spin

Everyone expressed gratitude and relief at the end of the hostage crisis yesterday in Rochester, New Hampshire, when police arrested the disturbed man who created it. No one got hurt and a sick man will get the care he needs, and the community will receive protection from him as well. It demonstrated the competence and patience of the Rochester police department in resolving a standoff that only gained national attention because it took place in the campaign headquarters of Hillary Clinton.

Somehow, later that evening, the Clinton campaign decided this makes Hillary look presidential, at least to Larry Sabato and the AP:

And as soon as it ended, Clinton took full advantage of the opportunity she had unexpectedly been handed.

In her New Hampshire press conference, she stood before a column of police in green and tan uniforms. She talked of meeting with hostages. She mentioned that she spoke to the states governor about eight minutes after the incident began.

The scene was one of a woman in charge.

It looked and sounded presidential, said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. This was an instance of the White House experience of this campaign. They knew how to handle this.

That the crisis was outside Clinton's control gave it a rare quality in this era of hyper-controlled politicking, Sabato added.

Whats most important about it is that its not contrived. Its a real event and that distinguishes it from 99 percent of what happens in the campaign season.

Er, what? Sabato, who usually gives intelligent political analysis, must have inhaled a little deeply. Clinton was nowhere near New Hampshire during the entirety of the crisis. What was presidential about having the Rochester PD talk a hostage-taker out of a building? What "leadership" did Hillary show in Virginia during this crisis? She canceled a speech!

The AP's Glen Johnson is even worse. He breathlessly describes Hillary's efforts as "continu[ing] to call up and down the law enforcement food chain, from local to county to state to federal officials." The hostages were released within a couple of hours, and presumably their families had closer contacts with the PD, as they live closer to the offices than Virginia. "I knew I was bugging these people," Clinton told the AP, but she wanted to know minute-by-minute what was happening, so she could tell her staff and be prepared for whatever assistance she could lend. Which would be exactly .... what? If the PD wanted to have her call the ersatz bomber, they would know where to find her.

Hillary certainly didn't do anything wrong, but she didn't "take charge" as the AP implies, or look presidential, as Sabato declares. She certainly looks considerably less presidential today in trying to take credit for the professional work done by the Rochester PD yesterday. That looks a lot more like a politician than a President, and we already know her credentials for the former. This incident doesn't provide Hillary any credentials for the latter.

Jim Lynch has more thoughts, and wonders whether the FEC should consider the AP report an in-kind contribution. .

Rudy Giuliani, who may be Queen Hillary's opponent next year, went from being a hugely effective US Attorney to being a hugely successful two-term mayor of the largest, most diverse city in the country, to being a hugely successful businessman.  In the Democratic debate, however, Giuliani was sneeringly referred to as "the most underqualified person running"

I wonder how Larry Sabato and/or Glen Johnson stack Hillary Clinton's achievements up against Rudy Giuliani's. 

If she is "presidential", what does it make him? 


HILLARY CLINTON: PROTECTED SPECIES

Ken Berwitz

It's not like this is anything new.

Senator Clinton is running exactly the same campaign for President that she did for the Senate in 2000 - i.e. she relies on a cadre of intensely, irrationally loyal media to shield her from any actual questrions that touch on any actual issues. 

Press releases, rehearsed lines and whining complaints that she is being picked on as a Clinton are no substitute for real answers to real questions.  But if Ms. Clinton is enabled to give nothing BUT those press releases, rehearsed lines and whining complaints, I suppose she doesn't have to go beyond them.

I may not be thrilled with people like Barack Obama or Joe Biden or Dennis Kukucinich, but at least they are capable of answering a question here and there, maybe even extemporizing on an issue.  The media certainly expect them to do so.

With Clinton, however, it has gotten so bad that even Howard Kurtz, who is far from a Hillary-hater, now has to speak up in exasperation:.

The Candidate's 'Catch Me if You Can'
Reporters Following Hillary Clinton on the Campaign Trail Are Covered in Dust
By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 30, 2007; C01

CONCORD, N.H. -- ABC correspondent Kate Snow was ready to push through the crowd and ask Hillary Clinton a question until an aide blocked the path of Snow's sound man as he aimed his boom mike in the senator's direction.

"Sorry, we've gotta go," the woman said, though it was clear that Clinton would be shaking hands for some time.

Moments later, as the Democratic presidential candidate was mobbed by well-wishers, Boston television reporter Joe Battenfeld managed to shout a question -- a meaningless question, truth be told -- about whether she needed to win both Iowa and New Hampshire. Clinton was defiantly bland in response, as if determined that her comments not be used.

"Oh, I don't think about it like that. I'm just thrilled to be competing in Iowa and New Hampshire. . . . There's something very special about the New Hampshire primary. . . . I take nothing for granted. . . . We have wonderful candidates running."

Such is life spent trailing the Clinton juggernaut, where reporters can generally get close enough to watch but no further, as if separated from the candidate by an invisible sheet of glass.

National correspondents are increasingly frustrated by a lack of access to Clinton. They spend much of their time in rental cars chasing her from one event to the next, because the campaign usually provides no press bus or van. Life on the bus means journalists don't have to worry about luggage or directions or getting left behind, since they are part of the official motorcade. News organizations foot the bill for such transportation, but campaigns have to staff and coordinate the buses -- and deal with the constant presence of their chroniclers.

With rare exceptions -- John McCain chats endlessly with reporters aboard his bus -- leading presidential candidates take a wary approach to the press, doling out access in carefully limited increments. Journalists sometimes question whether it is worth the time and energy to trail politicians who rarely engage them. In this regard, Clinton differs only in her degree of discipline, honed during eight years of often testy media relations in her husband's White House.

Clinton blames an overtaxed schedule for the arm's-length approach, but something more fundamental is at work here. She, like her rivals, wants to deliver a daily message, usually framed around some policy prescription, while reporters want to ask her about the latest polls, tactics or blast from Barack Obama or John Edwards. And answering questions off the cuff always risks the possibility of a blunder, as when Clinton told NBC's Andrea Mitchell during the 1992 campaign that she had chosen to pursue a career rather than stay home and "bake cookies."

At the same time, much of what Clinton wants to communicate -- the nuances of her health-care plan, for instance -- doesn't fit the media's cramped definition of news.

Clinton did a phone interview this week with the Chicago Tribune and a previously scheduled feature interview with The Washington Post, which included a question on her husband's claim that he had opposed the Iraq war from the beginning. But such opportunities are relatively rare. Obama, for his part, held a conference call with reporters Wednesday.

Clinton aides say they try to stage a "press avail," or brief news conference, every five or six days, but they acknowledge the schedule often slips. (Obama is also on a weekly schedule; Edwards, third in the national polls, is more accessible.) The result is little red meat for the press pack. In fact, much of the chatter among the reporters is about MapQuest and GPS devices and Hertz's NeverLost technology as they trade tips on how to track their constantly moving quarry.

Earlier this month, Snow ignored the speed limit as she chased Clinton from a Manchester diner to a Concord state office where the candidate was filing to run in the primary. "I parked seven blocks away," Snow says. "I ran up the street in my high-heel boots. I got there out of breath, and the Secret Service stopped me and said, 'You can't come in.' "

Snow and other late-arriving reporters talked their way in through the back door, but the room was so packed with supporters that her crew couldn't get near the former first lady, whose news conference was almost over. "We're constantly playing catch-up," Snow says.

Newsweek's Andrew Romano says the press didn't even get to take the tour when Clinton visited a Las Vegas sheet-metal factory. "The way we were herded into a small area to watch her walk into a room and meet with union officials just seemed slightly absurd," he says. When a colleague asked the staff for a chance to question Clinton, "they just kind of laughed it off."

My day-long pursuit of the senator on Monday was typical. She arrived more than an hour late, from Iowa, at a 19th-century Victorian mansion here and spoke for all of nine minutes about the importance of health care. With half a dozen cameras rolling, Clinton accepted the endorsement of pediatrician Susan Lynch, wife of the state's Democratic governor, John Lynch.

When Clinton stepped away from the microphones, Bruce Springsteen's "The Rising" began blaring from the speakers, which effectively drowned out any attempted queries from the journalists sprinkled throughout the room. Battenfeld, the Boston reporter, launched his horse-race question during a brief lull between songs.

"It's kind of an art form," he said afterward. "I would have asked her about Obama, but I figured she would have turned and run."

While candidates operate in something of a bubble, their headquarters staff conducts an outside game with tougher language, and Clinton is no exception. As reporters awaited her arrival here, an e-mail arrived by BlackBerry, sparked by a Washington Post report on Obama using a political action committee to make donations to officials in early primary states. "It was surprising to learn that he has been using his PAC in a manner that appears to be inconsistent with the prevailing election laws," the Clinton release said.

After the Concord event, Clinton retreated to a previously scheduled taping with Katie Couric, her only sustained encounter that day with the national media. The CBS anchor asked how disappointed she would be if she isn't the nominee. "Well, it will be me," Clinton said. When Couric pressed, Clinton insisted -- not terribly convincingly -- that she hadn't even considered the possibility she could lose.

Reporters, meanwhile, were making their way along unmarked back roads, past moose crossings and flocks of geese, to find a home on an isolated cul-de-sac in Goffstown. There, Judy Lanza, a nurse, and her husband, Joe, a retired police officer, hosted Clinton in a small kitchen adorned with pumpkins, apple baskets, a cookie jar and a straw doll affixed to the wall.

For more than an hour, 30 journalists watched from the small, darkened living room as Clinton chatted, awkwardly at first, with the five preselected guests. Her rhetoric against health insurance companies was harsher than might have been expected. They give patients the "runaround," deny care, "slow-walk" the payment of bills, she declared. "This is all part of their business model. This is how they make money. . . . The small-business health-care market is really rigged."

From there, Clinton drifted into special education, meetings she had as first lady on religious tolerance, how she was "deeply involved" in the Northern Ireland peace process, and her plans for a "post-Kyoto agreement" on global warming. But although the meeting was staged for the assembled journalists, there was no chance for follow-up, and the event received virtually no coverage.

As Clinton made her way to the door, she observed: "All this good food -- can we feed the press?" But the press was feeling undernourished.

Campaigns often brush off national correspondents in favor of local journalists, who tend to be less critical. Clinton did hold an off-the-record session with New Hampshire reporters and spoke to an Exeter radio station on Monday. But she paid a price for her limited interaction with reporters on the 6 p.m. newscast of WMUR-TV, the state's only network affiliate.

Obama, in New Hampshire that day, was shown talking to one of the station's reporters about Oprah Winfrey's decision to campaign for him. Edwards, also in New Hampshire, was seen talking to reporters about the need for a candidate who "tells the truth." But Clinton's endorsement by the governor's wife warranted only a brief mention, with no sound bite from the candidate.

Her last major event was a potluck dinner at a cavernous union hall in the town of Brentwood. But only a handful of reporters attended and I arrived late, driving down unlighted streets in a heavy rain as confused Clinton aides kept giving me the wrong directions.

The candidate spent half an hour signing campaign posters and posing for pictures, and I persuaded her tired-looking staff to grant me a single question as she made her way out. The question: Wouldn't providing more media access help get her message out?

"We try to balance what we do every day," Clinton said. "I'm trying to reach as many voters as possible one-on-one" while also dealing with the local press, "which has a very big role to play," and making time for occasional interviews with national news outlets. "It seems I have mushrooming demands," she said. "The balancing is really intense."

With that, she was off to a waiting plane to South Carolina, while reporters headed for commercial flights to follow her there. .

Having posted this article, let me say that when it comes to how little they can extract from Ms. Clinton, I have little sympathy for Mr. Kurtz or much of the rest of the press.

They, above most others, know that this is what you get from Hillary Clinton.  And, as a group, they have aided and abetted it all these years by not calling her to account or demanding unscripted answers to serious questions. Collectively, therefore, Kurtz and his colleagues have no one to blame but themselves.

The sad reality is that because the press has been remiss - because they have treated Hillary Clinton like a protected species - WE don't get those answers. 

And, even sadder, there are millions and millions of people who appear to be perfectly content with voting for a scripted, rehearsed media concoction like Hillary Clinton.  Many have not only convinced themselves that it is just fine for Hillary to insulate herself from scrutiny, but resentfully attack the people who demand the scrutiny, as if they are the ignoramuses. 

When people do that on a candidates' behalf, the candidate owns them.  And if any of your acquaintances are Hillary supporters, it is very likely you know exactly what I'm talking about.


RUDY MUST EXPLAIN

Ken Berwitz

I've made no secret of my support for Rudy Giuliani as a presidential candidate.

But these charges, most recently from www.tpmmuckraker.com, and other sources, appear to have a basis and must be explained:.

Rudy Put $400,000 In Advance Funds On Credit Card For Travel Expenses

We've been swimming in credit card receipts from Rudy Giuliani's administration today, and one thing in particular has struck us: in 2001, apparently with an eye to future globetrotting, Giuliani's administration sent a check for $400,000 to American Express. Though it was billed to the Assigned Counsel Administrative Office, an office that provides lawyers for indigent defendants, the money served as an advance against future travel and other expenses later incurred by the mayor's office and his security detail.

The unusually large prepayment, as yet unreported, adds weight to the theory that the Giuliani administration was using accounting gimmicks to obscure his office's travel expenditures.

With $400,000 prepaid on the Amex account, the mayor and his staff drew down on the credit card for a number of trips, including a handful out to the Hamptons, where Judith Nathan had her condo. Giuliani's administration ultimately spent approximately $100,000 of the $400,000 before leaving office in January, 2001.

Stu Loeser, a spokesman for Mayor Bloomberg, confirmed to us that his administration put a stop to the practice of putting funds for future travel in bulk on a credit card. Shortly after Bloomberg took office, American Express refunded $298,000, the remaining unused balance on the account. The move came shortly after the city comptroller sent the mayor a letter critical of the Giuliani adminsitration's practice of billing obscure city agencies for mayoral travel expenses.

But Loeser declined to comment when asked directly why the administration did this, and declined to comment when asked directly if the Bloomberg administration thought the Giuliani approach was problematic. "We process spending and travel differently," he said. "We use a different method. If we have government funded travel, we go through the city's travel agent."

Prepaying a city credit card with such a large amount is a procedure that "appears intentionally opaque," a high-level budget official under a previous administration told us. "You're not able to see clearly what [the money] is being used for," the official said, "because it's bundled in an AmEx card as opposed to as direct payments to vendors."

The unusual $400,000 prepayment is revealed in a letter from Giuliani's deputy director of fiscal operations that was contained in a package of documents City Hall released today, in response to reporters' questions about Wednesday's Politico story. You can see the letter here.

Giuliani's administration had done a similar thing in June of 2000, cutting checks for $54,000 worth of "prepayment" and billing them to the New York City Loft Board and other backwater agencies..

Maybe there is nothing here.  Maybe it is all explainable, or at least mostly explainable.  I don't know

But what I do know is that it has to be explained.  This is nothing that can simply be toughed out and stonewalled.  I expect no less from Rudy Giuliani than I do of any other candidate.

Mr. Giuliani, let's hear from you.

steve schneider my understanding is that he used the card to advance payment to the guys working. if he waited for the city to pay it would have taken too long. the city then reimbursed the card. apparently the records confirmed this. steve (12/02/07)


VENEZUELAN CHARADE

Ken Berwitz

The charade in Venezuela continues.

This weekend is the referendum called by Yugo chavez to essentially establish himself as the dictator of a socialist regime, as opposed to the elected president of a democracy. (For the purposes of this blog we are forgetting that he almost certainly lost the last election and cooked the results to make it seem as if he won).

Not content with acting so irrationally that he was told to just "shut up" by King Juan Carlos of Spain, Chavez has stepped up his bizarre, even insane rantings - this time, however, to try to win his national referendum more or less legitimately, instead of having to artificially create a win as he did in the last presidential election.

How is this supposed to work?  Here are the specifics, from the Washington Post:.

Chavezs bluster surges ahead of vote

Some observers link Venezuelan leader's tough talk with tight contest

By Juan Forero
updated 11:49 p.m. ET, Fri., Nov. 30, 2007

CARACAS, Venezuela -

On the eve of a referendum that President Hugo Chavez has cast as a plebiscite on his rule, the populist leader is escalating his verbal assaults on foes real and imagined, picking a fight with neighboring Colombia one day and assailing Catholic Church leaders as "mental retards" the next.

Chavez's behavior appears increasingly unpredictable, but some political analysts say the bluster may be a tactic designed to generate support for the constitutional changes that Venezuelans will vote on in Sunday's referendum. Although a few weeks ago the proposals had been expected to receive easy approval, polls released last week showed that the opposition could ultimately prevail in a tight contest.

"He's decided that his best tactic to recover the control of his movement is to instill fear in his people that there's a world conspiracy against Venezuela," said Demetrio Boersner, a political analyst and former diplomat. "It's a tactic that uses histrionics as a weapon to unite the people so they vote for him on Sunday."

Allegations of meddling
The government says the rhetoric is no scare tactic, but rather a response to concerns that a destabilization plan is in the works. Officials point to negative press coverage, coupled with the
Bush administration's statements questioning the fairness of the vote.

"There's an offensive to criminalize Venezuela, to say that Venezuela is falling into an abyss, that it's a country of dictators, of Castro-style communism, a country that helps terrorists," Bernardo Alvarez, Venezuela's ambassador in Washington, said Friday in a phone interview.

This week Chavez accused CNN of instigating an assassination attempt, asserted that the church is fomenting dissent and called the president of neighboring Colombia a "liar" who couldn't be trusted. He didn't forget the United States, either, saying the CIA was busy hatching a plan to stir tumult.

In speech after speech, Chavez avoids dwelling on unpopular proposals for change, including one that would permit him to run for office indefinitely and another that would give him the power to appoint provincial governors. Instead, he depicts his opponents as conspirators out to crush his self-styled revolution. He vows to thwart any coup attempts, like one in 2002 that briefly ousted him and had Washington's tacit support.

"The revolution is peaceful, but it's not unarmed," he warned his foes on state television. "There's an army. There's a navy. There's an air force. There's a national guard. There's soldiers, there's cadets and the people. Don't consider it, because you'll repent."

He then added: "If you launch an offensive, I will launch a counterattack."

Rhetoric wearing thin?
The harangues are a staple of Chavez's government, which in its nine years has transformed Venezuela's social and political model by ousting the elites who once ruled and providing widespread programs for the poor. Those programs have given Chavez solid, sometimes overwhelming support.

But some analysts say the particularly bellicose behavior of recent days may be working against Chavez.

Mark Feierstein, an American who has polled in Venezuela for years, said the president's supporters, known as Chavistas, also tire of the rhetoric.

"Venezuela is one of the most polarized countries in the world, and it really pains people when they see him reinforcing that," Feierstein said. "When we'd do focus groups with Chavistas, they would talk in mostly positive tones about Chavez, but the one thing that would bother them is Chavez's belligerence." .

Is the human Yugo's strategy going to work? 

Truthfully, I'm not sure that's an issue...since I have little doubt his referendum will "win" regardless of whether it does - even if his people have to dust off the vote totals from his last election and re-use them this time.

Who is going to stop him? 


RUSH LIMBAUGH CALLS IT

Ken Berwitz

I can't say that Rush Limbaugh is one of my favorites.  I have trouble listening to him because he is so pompous and self-impressed.  On the other hand, Limbaugh is often right on target in his commentaries and - in this case - predictions.

Here, courtesy of www.radioequalizer.blogspot.com, is a transcript of Rush Limbaugh explaining why Republicans should not participate in a CNN youtube debate.  It should be noted that the radio broadcast it is taken from aired in July - four months before this week's CNN debacle..

Rush Limbaugh On YouTube Republican Debate Fiasco

TOLD YOU SO!

Chastised Then, Rush Proven Right Over YouTube Debacle

Reminding Republican presidential candidates and listeners that he was against it from the start, talk titan Rush Limbaugh today delivered an "I told you so" to the contenders for foolishly agreeing to last night's YouTube debate fiasco.

Since the debate aired, it has emerged that questions were planted by Democrat operatives, including declared supporters of Dem presidential candidates.

The
resulting fallout has proven a huge blow to CNN's credibility, since it co-sponsored and aired the forum.


Even notorious media suck-up and rival cable talker Joe Scarborough thinks CNN knew about the plants in advance. One audience member who asked a question about gays in the military even turned out to have an official role in the Clinton campaign!


Railing against the "kooks" who were allowed to ask questions, including a conspiracy- laced rant directed at Rep Ron Paul (R- TX), Rush was stunned to think any Republicans didn't realize in advance that CNN would stack the deck against them.

"I thought the Unabomber was out of jail and asking questions on YouTube," Limbaugh told his audience today.

A search through Limbaugh's archives reveals that he did in fact advise Republicans against participating in the event. In fact, his predictions turned out to be stunningly accurate, as though he could see into the future.

The conversation occurred during his 30 July 2007 program.
Here's the transcript:


BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: The controversy here over the Republicans not participating in the upcoming YouTube CNN debate has led to lots of discussion, as some people think the Republicans are going to have this backfire on them because you gotta go out there and you gotta face the people. If you're afraid to face the people, meaning the average Americans who upload their questions via video on YouTube, then you're acting cowardly and so forth. Note the Democrats, to this day are scared to death to go on Fox, you got Barack Obama and Hillary in a meaningless argument over which thug around the world they will talk to when, the fact is, neither of them has the guts to go on Fox News for a debate. But you don't hear that portrayed in the Drive-By Media.

Now the Republicans say, "You know what, the office of the presidency is a little bit higher, has a little bit more prejudice than subjecting ourselves to questions from idiots dressed up as snowmen and so forth." Now they're saying it's going to backfire on them, and this was a discussion on CNN's Reliable Sources on Sunday with Howard Kurtz. He's talking with Jeff Jarvis, media critic. Kurtz says, "They were supposed to, or at least was tentatively scheduled, a Republican presidential debate with CNN YouTube format for September. Now a lot of the Republicans are expressing reservations, have scheduling problems. Do you think the Republicans are being aware of being questioned by people who submit their queries through YouTube?"

JARVIS: I think they're revealing themselves to be a bunch of fraidy cats. The Republicans for some reason have not done as much on the interpret and YouTube as the Democrats have, though in Europe it's conservatives who are ahead on YouTube, so it's not a bias thing as Rush Limbaugh tried to insist this week. I think the Republicans were trying to find some way to weasel out of this, and they used scheduling excuses, bias excuses, dignity excuses, but I think it's going to come around. I'm going to bet it's going to happen, and because they can't avoid talking to us.

RUSH: They are not trying to avoid talking to you. By the way, they're going to try to reschedule this thing for December, is what I'm hearing. I never said the Republicans shouldn't do it because of bias. We all know there's bias in the Drive-By Media. We all know that CNN's going to choose questions based on their agenda, based on what they get submitted to them. We know there's going to be bias.

I suggested that it would be a rotten thing to do because it's demeaning to the office. It lowers the office to the level of the lowest common denominator of pop culture.

This is being presented as some revolutionary new thing, and it's not. It's no different than having an audience in there that you stand around, you run around with a microphone, let 'em ask questions and so forth, and you know how well that goes, and you know that they have never turned over, CNN nor any network has never turned over totally a debate to people in the audience. They occasionally go to people in the audience, like the ponytailed guy in Richmond, Virginia, back in 1992 who wanted all those candidates to explain to him how they were going to treat us like their children and so forth, it was gag me with a spoon time on that.

If I were these professional journalists, I'd be a little upset that I'm being aced out of this. The Drive-By Media is in enough trouble as it is without their prestige being put on the line here by claiming that the debate will be better with these yahoos sitting out there with these cameras submitting their stuff via upload to YouTube.


Burned GOP candidates ought to be asking themselves today why they didn't listen to Limbaugh instead of caving into mainstream media pressure to participate in CNN's rigged forum. .

Limbaugh was right on.  And so is Brian Maloney of radiioequalizer.blogspot.com, for pointing that that the Republican candidates should have seen this coming a mile away.

If Democrats can simply dismiss a debate on Fox because they claim it might biased, doesn't it stand to reason that Democrats can dismiss one on CNN?  Especially after seeing the stacked deck of a debate CNN ran on behalf of Queen Hillary just months before?


JASON WHITLOCK ON THE MURDER OF SEAN TAYLOR

Ken Berwitz

Sean Taylor was the troubled young Washington Redskins football star who was killed at his home last week, apparently during a robbery attempt.

Jason Whitlock is a respected columnist for the Kansas City Star who has no problem speaking his mind, even if his opinions are not coincidental to what some people think they are supposed to be.

That's quite a combination, and it has culminated in this piece, which Mr. Whitlock wrote for Fox Sports.  See what you think of it:.

Taylor's death a grim reminder for us all

Jason Whitlock / FOXSports.com
Posted: 18 hours ago

EDITOR'S NOTE: This column originally appeared Wednesday, two days before Friday's arrests of four men in the shooting death of Sean Taylor.

There's a reason I call them the Black KKK. The pain, the fear and the destruction are all the same.

Someone who loved Sean Taylor is crying right now. The life they knew has been destroyed, an 18-month-old baby lost her father, and, if you're a black man living in America, you've been reminded once again that your life is in constant jeopardy of violent death.

The Black KKK claimed another victim, a high-profile professional football player with a checkered past this time.

No, we don't know for certain the circumstances surrounding Taylor's death. I could very well be proven wrong for engaging in this sort of aggressive speculation. But it's no different than if you saw a fat man fall to the ground clutching his chest. You'd assume a heart attack, and you'd know, no matter the cause, the man needed to lose weight.

Well, when shots are fired and a black man hits the pavement, there's every statistical reason to believe another black man pulled the trigger. That's not some negative, unfair stereotype. It's a reality we've been living with, tolerating and rationalizing for far too long.

When the traditional, white KKK lynched, terrorized and intimidated black folks at a slower rate than its modern-day dark-skinned replacement, at least we had the good sense to be outraged and in no mood to contemplate rationalizations or be fooled by distractions.

Our new millennium strategy is to pray the Black KKK goes away or ignores us. How's that working?

About as well as the attempt to shift attention away from this uniquely African-American crisis by focusing on an "injustice" the white media allegedly perpetrated against Sean Taylor.

Within hours of his death, there was a story circulating that members of the black press were complaining that news outlets were disrespecting Taylor's victimhood by reporting on his troubled past

No disrespect to Taylor, but he controlled the way he would be remembered by the way he lived. His immature, undisciplined behavior with his employer, his run-ins with law enforcement, which included allegedly threatening a man with a loaded gun, and the fact a vehicle he owned was once sprayed with bullets are all pertinent details when you've been murdered.

Marcellus Wiley, a former NFL player, made the radio circuit Wednesday, singing the tune that athletes are targets. That was his explanation for the murders of Taylor and Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams and the armed robberies of NBA players Antoine Walker and Eddy Curry.

Really?

Let's cut through the bull(manure) and deal with reality. Black men are targets of black men. Period. Go check the coroner's office and talk with a police detective. These bullets aren't checking W-2s.

Rather than whine about white folks' insensitivity or reserve a special place of sorrow for rich athletes, we'd be better served mustering the kind of outrage and courage it took in the 1950s and 1960s to stop the white KKK from hanging black men from trees.

But we don't want to deal with ourselves. We take great joy in prescribing medicine to cure the hate in other people's hearts. Meanwhile, our self-hatred, on full display for the world to see, remains untreated, undiagnosed and unrepentant.

Our self-hatred has been set to music and reinforced by a pervasive culture that promotes a crab-in-barrel mentality.

You're damn straight I blame hip hop for playing a role in the genocide of American black men. When your leading causes of death and dysfunction are murder, ignorance and incarceration, there's no reason to give a free pass to a culture that celebrates murder, ignorance and incarceration.

Of course there are other catalysts, but until we recapture the minds of black youth, convince them that it's not OK to "super man dat ho" and end any and every dispute by "cocking on your bitch," nothing will change.

Does a Soulja Boy want an education?

HBO did a fascinating documentary on Little Rock Central High School, the Arkansas school that required the National Guard so that nine black kids could attend in the 1950s. Fifty years later, the school is one of the nation's best in terms of funding and educational opportunities. It's 60 percent black and located in a poor black community.

Watch the documentary and ask yourself why nine poor kids in the '50s risked their lives to get a good education and a thousand poor black kids today ignore the opportunity that is served to them on a platter.

Blame drugs, blame Ronald Reagan, blame George Bush, blame it on the rain or whatever. There's only one group of people who can change the rotten, anti-education, pro-violence culture our kids have adopted. We have to do it.

According to reports, Sean Taylor had difficulty breaking free from the unsavory characters he associated with during his youth.

The "keepin' it real" mantra of hip hop is in direct defiance to evolution. There's always someone ready to tell you you're selling out if you move away from the immature and dangerous activities you used to do, you're selling out if you speak proper English, embrace education, dress like a grown man, do anything mainstream.

The Black KKK is enforcing the same crippling standards as its parent organization. It wants to keep black men in their place uneducated, outside the mainstream and six feet deep.

In all likelihood, the Black Klan and its mentality buried Sean Taylor, and any black man or boy reading this could be next.  .

Is Jason Whitlock too hard on Taylor and on Black men?  Is he a racist against his own people?  Or is he a gutsy journalist who cares deeply and, because he cares, has addressed issues that most people run away from?

You decide.


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