Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Magic of Springsteen

Apparently, I have been living a lie for several years now, not only to others to myself. Up to the show Sunday night in Chicago, I could have sworn that I had seen at least 30 Bruce Springsteen concerts. Well, I just reviewed the history – the Springsteen concert record, complete with setlists, is well-documented by those with lots of time on their hands – and I can only count 19. It sure feels like more.

My first show was historic – the infamous Bomb Scare Show at the Uptown Theater in Milwaukee. It’s a long, beautiful story – general admission in a movie theater; third row center; dramatic songcraft building into something special; nervous solo "Thunder Road" at the piano after 45 minutes, followed by announcement that we all had to leave and could come back at midnight; band went to the Pfister and got drunk; now in front row, band played until 2:30 a.m. The night was, in a word, Magic.

I took my then-14 year-old brother to the next one in Milwaukee two years later (Jim caught his harmonica after "Thunder Road"); saw three Darkness Tour stops (met him backstage in Cincinnati – that’s me with the hair); sang "Hungary Heart" at his feet while he stood on the chairs at Alpine Valley in ‘84. I celebrated Clinton and Feingold with him on Election Night 1992, although the show pretty much stunk without the E-Street Band. He spent most of the ‘90s in a failed attempt to show he can make the same Magic solo or with others. His solo Tom Joad show at the Riverside in '96 was downright depressing, as he struggled to reach the back of even that small room and yelled at anyone who made any noise.

In 1999, he got back together with the E-Street Band – not a moment too soon – and all seemed right with his musical world again. That first reunion tour was dynamic and joyful, but paled in comparison to the Rising Tour that began in 2002, a roaring engine of soul and truth that took the pain of 9/11 and turned grief into hope and, possibly, redemption. On that tour, Bruce and the band found its collective voice for the first time since the great Darkness Tour in ‘78, but this time with maturity and purpose. The show at Miller Park in September 2003 was the last non-New York show of the Rising Tour, and no one would have blamed him if he quit right there, as the undisputed King of the World.

But now comes a new CD and a new tour, with both less obvious but more intense political statements. His Grand Statement about 9/11 behind him, Bruce is kicking ass and taking the names of those who have used the tragedy to twist his beloved American Land beyond recognition. For the most part, you don’t need to understand the political underpinnings of the songs to dig the new album as a milestone in the era of Mature Rock, where those precious few artists who can still crank it up in their 50s and 60s show their continued musical and lyrical vitality. But, in concert on Sunday night, he and the band are in your face, with no apologies. Republicans at Springsteen shows are just going to have to stop their whining and deal with the fact that, in order to get to "Dancing in the Dark", you first have to get a little education about the Darkness on the Edge of Town created by your boy George W. Bush.

For the second tour in a row, the show is dominated by new material – this time from the Magic CD. It starts with "Radio Nowhere", which I think might be the best opening song in rock concert history. An old-fashioned powerful rock song, it features churning guitars, booming drums and a Clarence sax solo, while Bruce’s beautifully weathered voice literally demands more. "I just want to feel some rhythm," he (and the crowd) shouts over and over, while his drummer, the Mighty Max Weinberg, is giving him everything he has. "Is there anybody alive out there?", indeed. Springsteen is speaking to a dearth of culture, to a world of niche marketing, where the music industry gives us only what it thinks we want and not what we need. "I want a thousand guitars/I want pounding drums." Is that too much to ask?

Only Springsteen and the E-Street Band can live up to the challenge of that song. From there, songs like "No Surrender" and "She’s the One" just deliver on the promise. The first half of this show is the strongest set of hard-driving big-band music you’ll ever hear. The centerpiece is an almost-forgotten song from Springsteen’s sparse, home-recorded Nebraska album, "Reason to Believe". The song starts slow and unrecognizable, with Bruce wailing mournfully on the harmonica (an instrument featured many times on this night). But then the piece literally explodes when the band finds a surreal, seminal beat and the guitars start blazing. With a knowing, joyful look on his face, Springsteen rides the wave. He sings the last verse through the harp mike, making it sound like he is singing through a telephone wire on a bad day. "At the end of every hard-earned day/People find some reason to believe." And so we do.

The stuff from Magic are hit-and-miss, as all new material is in concert. The biggest surprise was "Gypsy Biker", which featured a raucous guitar duel between Bruce and Miami Steve that threatened to take over the night. "Magic" was mostly acoustic, but could have used a bit more help from the band. I was hoping that the trite-but-true protest song "Last to Die" might have come alive in concert, but it suffered from too much keyboard and too little guitar.

As Bruce setlist-watchers will tell you, the songs that are not in the set sometimes say more than the songs that are. No "Thunder Road", "Jungleland" or "Tenth Avenue Freezeout" here – the stories of raw desire and racial tension are replaced by the yearning for freedom on the "Backstreets", the self-realization of "The Promised Land" and spitting in the face of these "Badlands". This is a set about finding yourself and then going out to the world and making a difference. As he sings on another scorching highlight, "Adam Raised a Cain": "You inherit the sin/You inherit the blame."

These are the kind of moments that have always touched me in Springsteen shows, when I remember why I fought for tickets, stood in line, and waited for the lights to go down. There were many on this night; moments of hope, inspiration, renewal. This is the most personal show I think he’s ever done – both for him and for us.

Springsteen’s production crew has used technological advances and expertise over the years to make the sound seamless and enveloping – this kind of perfection wasn’t possible back when Bruce was falling through the floorboards of stages in 1975. Even the crowd is perfectly lit with light as they throw their hands of faith in the air on cue during the still-vital "Lonesome Day" and howl the "whoa!" during "Born to Run". They use the technology to create concert democracy as the singer reaches out and we reach back.

Throughout the whole show Springsteen -- once the vulnerable street poet still trying to understand his own words -- is finally, truly The Boss; self-actualized, in command and knowing exactly what is going to happen next, because he planned it that way. The sheer power of the best parts of this show is truly something to see, even for grizzled Springsteen concert veterans. He’s supposedly bringing this tour through Milwaukee in March (his shows get better later in the tour), and I’ll be there again, this time with my son, who is almost as old as my brother was when I took him to his first show. It’s like taking the kid to see Favre – get it while you can, because there will never be anything like it again.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Romney: No Jack Kennedy

I want to do all I can to encourage the Republicans to nominate Mitt Romney for president in 2008. I’m trying to figure out the best way to move them further in that direction.

Should I simply advocate his supposed virtues, hoping that some out there would mistake me for someone who seeks the best for the GOP? Should I issue pretend warnings to my lefty brethren and sistren about what a formidable candidate he would make, knowing that my fear will be perceived as his strength in the tea-leaves-reading right-wing chattering class? Or should I simply hold my breath and cross my fingers, passively watching the inevitable Republican train wreck, as the entire party drives off the cliff in slow motion?

I want to see Romney as the GOP nominee for several selfish but legitimate reasons. Most important, Hillary Clinton or any other Democrat will wipe the floor with him, resulting in not only a landslide in the electoral vote, but also bringing a possibly filibuster-proof Senate along with her/him. But I also appreciate the sheer entertainment value of this impossibly pliable construction of a candidate staying with us all the way through next year, his firm jaw jutting into the wind of a world that is poised to deliver his historical thumping. That Romney and those around him think they can get away with the sort of cynical manipulation of what he "believes" to fit the doomed expectations of his "base" is evidence of the desperation of a GOP grasping at disappearing straws.

Romney is the ultimate Candidate as Product, polished and consulted within an inch of his vapid life. In this month’s Harper’s – my favorite dead-tree magazine by far – writer Ken Silverstein (link, but subcription needed -- just go buy the damn thing) takes us inside the Romney construct, exposing the campaign for the deliberate lie that it is. Reports Silverstein: "...[T]he task of reformulating and repackaging the Romney brand—from the moderate Republican governor of the most liberal state in the Union to a red-meat social conservative and heir to Reagan—has been entrusted to an army of consultants far larger than that of any of his challengers...Romney’s campaign has employed more than a hundred different consultants, making combined payments to them of at least $11 million—roughly three times the amount spent by John McCain or Rudy Giuliani."

This sort of bottom-up candidate creation was once the stuff of scandal and outrage. Now, it’s expected that any candidate for either party has to be phonied-up to some extent – it’s the "smart" thing to do. But Romney appears to have taken it to a new level, filling his empty suit with the kind of enthusiasm and smarmy acting talent that Junior Bush could never muster. He lives in the rarified air where notions like the strength of your convictions are for suckers. The base wants me to stop stem cell research on to-be-discarded-anyway embryos? Fine. My wife has MS and might benefit from the research? What’s your point?

While Romney’s political positions are as flexible as last week’s poll, his personal religious convictions are sacrosanct and surround him with the eerie glow of the Just. He’s of the Mormon faith, which is an interesting version of Christianity to say the least. Since all religion necessarily strains the credulity of non-believers or different believers, it’s hard – not to mention politically suicidal – to venture an opinion on how whack the Mormon faith really is. I mean, I grew up Catholic, with the virgin birth and all that. But apparently other whack religious figures – the egotistical evangelicals who have succeeded in hijacking much of the Republican social agenda – who you think would appreciate Romney’s wild-eyed "faith" instead have some sort of discomfort with the fact that he is a Mormon-flavored Christian rather than some other variety that, as just one example, doesn't believe the Garden of Eden was in Missouri.

As entertaining as it is to see these various sects sniping at each other over dogmatic principles, it has been regularly suggested that Romney could get the "Mormon thing" behind him by making a speech like John Kennedy made during his campaign in 1960, when his Catholicism became an issue (no surprise, given that his opponent was the dirt-slinging non-practicing Quaker Richard Nixon).

There are a couple of reasons why that sort of event wouldn’t work for Romney. For one thing, some of the major tenets of the Mormon faith make it a little more difficult to separate the believer from the prospective president. Mormons believe in an expansive form of "American exceptionalism" – that we live in a special location reserved by god, making it a bit harder for Romney to separate that religious belief from his role as president of the special location.

But, if you look at what Kennedy actually said to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association on September 12, 1960, it’s even clearer that Romney – or anyone else in the race in either party – could never make the same assurances:
  • "I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute--where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote--where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference--and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him. I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish--where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source--where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials--and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all."
How quaint, really. "the separation of church and state is absolute...no...minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote--where no church or church school is granted any public funds...no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials..." Wow, was there ever really such a time?

Instead of the clear-headed sense of the role of government articulated so gracefully by Kennedy, we now have candidates falling all over each other telling us how their faith informs their proposed public service. The only criticism of religion in public life is whether faith means you adhere to a rigid regime of personal behavior and public morality that you want enforced by government or whether faith means caring for those less fortunate.

Could Romney really make the same promise that JFK made in his speech? With a straight face, I mean?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Miller: Folsom Coors Blues

The wing-nuts fell into predictable hysteria a couple of weeks ago over Miller Brewing sponsoring the annual "leather" Folsom Street festival in San Francisco. The pretend-outrage was "shared" by "all". Those who did not take sufficient offense were shunned and scorned in the right-wing of the Marquette faculty lounge. My new favorite unintentional comedian, John McAdams, took the stunned Rick Esenberg to task for his "mellow" attitude towards Miller’s tacit encouragement of children in leather vests and an apparently very butch re-imagining of the Last Supper, originally fantasized in a painting by Da Vinci.

It’s hard to figure out exactly what the Accidental Professor was getting at, but it had something to do with acting like he was offended because (he says) lefties play the "offended card" and thereby gain great power. "...[T]hey need to face a right that will play by the same rules," the fevered McAdams proclaimed, saying is was like "the prisoner’s dilemma", an interesting philosophical challenge that he twisted beyond all recognition. But, wait, it gets better (with McAdams, it always does): "This logic is why I rather applaud attacks on academic freedom from the right. I don't want them to succeed, but I do want leftist academics to be afraid that their academic freedom might be taken." (my italics) Thus does the supposed academic encourage attacks so that other academics feel the Fear. Seriously. You just can’t make this kind of stuff up.

In any event, the fact that lesser bulbs like McAdams, Michelle Malkin and Jessica McBride (still trying to get traction with, well, whatever you got) feigned bundled undies over the whole thing was properly ignored at Miller HQ in Milwaukee. Little did we know then that they had bigger fish to fry. A mere week after the wing-nut flare-up, the company announced an alliance even more unholy than they could ever have with some harmless alternate-lifestyle fringees in San Francisco. Our own Miller Brewing – at least it always seemed that way – has jumped in bed with right-wing, anti-union Coors Brewing in Colorado.

Just as Miller has lost much of its local identity and character since it was sucked into a South African brewing conglomerate, Coors has tried to take a step back in recent years from the nut-right inclinations of its founding family. Adolph's grandson Joseph Coors was in the "kitchen cabinet" of Hollywood actor Ronald Reagan and was instrumental in founding one of the bastions of the permanent right-wing misinformation campaign, the Heritage Foundation. He also contributed to the illegal terrorist Contra campaign run by Oliver North against Nicaragua in the 1980s. Since then, his son Pete Coors – still the chairman of Coors – ran as a fairly predictable right-winger for the Senate in 2004, losing to Democrat Ken Salazar.

Coors has had a long-running battle with organized labor, and labor leaders at Miller are justifiably concerned about how that will affect their status at Miller Coors. After Coors permanently replaced union workers with scabs in 1977, the AFL-CIO conducted a fairly-successful nation-wide boycott of Coors products for the next ten years. The boycott was dropped when Coors agreed to stop anti-union activity and allow a representation election, although Teamsters lost the election and the two Coors plants remain non-union.

With the battle looming over where the new Miller Coors will be headquartered, Wisconsin’s right wing finds itself hoisted on its own imaginary petard. GOP front-groups like Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) find themselves between their own harsh election-year rhetoric about Wisconsin’s "tax hell" and trying to convince Miller Coors that this is not such a bad place after all. This is especially delicate for them at a time that their lackeys in the State Assembly are playing politics with the state budget with the same sort of reckless language about Wisconsin’s supposedly lousy business climate, etc. Senior Wing-nut Charlie Sykes has already pretty much given up trying to take back all the nonsense he has said about Wisconsin in the past, implying that the company would be crazy to headquarter in Milwaukee because of Colorado’s superior ranking by the right-wing Tax Foundation. Thanks for the help, Charlie.

With Miller’s marriage of convenience, another part of the soul of the city slips away. Coors just has too much baggage that will prevent it from ever losing its unfortunate political past and present, even if it wanted to. Now Miller carries some of that baggage and, even if the company manages to stay anchored in Milwaukee, it will now be affected by that legacy. It may be that Great Lakes and mountain water don't mix

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Black & White World Part 2 – Crimes as Misdemeanors

Metro Milwaukee got a surprise last year when the crumbling Courthouse Annex was finally torn down as part of the massive, inconvenient, but ultimately successful Marquette Interchange freeway project in downtown Milwaukee. Suddenly, clearly visible in the bright afternoon sun was the entire west side of the Courthouse itself. The clear view of the beautiful, historic and still very functional building is now one of the highlights of a trip through in Interchange. Before the Annex was reduced to rubble (and cleverly ground up and recycled at the site to make the new pavement below), most metro residents probably didn’t even know the Courthouse was there.

Poor and black residents of Milwaukee, though, have always known where the Courthouse was and are all too familiar with the inside of it. They have been to the 4th floor, in small claims court, to face evictions and utility collections. They have been to the 7th floor in family and paternity courts. And on the 5th and 6th floors – the criminal misdemeanor courts.

A little background: A violation of the law is a crime if you can go to jail as a consequence. In Wisconsin, a crime is a misdemeanor if the maximum penalty includes less than 1 year in a county jail or, in Milwaukee, the House of Correction; it is a felony if the maximum penalty is a year or more in the state prison system. This year to date, there have been at least 7,000 misdemeanors, 4,500 traffic misdemeanors and 4,000 felonies filed in Milwaukee County.

Common misdemeanors include shoplifting, criminal damage to property, disorderly conduct (DC), battery, drug possession, carrying a concealed weapon (CCW) and the like. A large portion of misdemeanors in Milwaukee are in domestic violence court – battery, DC, violation of restraining orders, etc. Criminal traffic misdemeanors are for such offenses as operating after revocation (OAR) and operating while intoxicated (2nd - 4th offense – the first is not criminal; the 5th and subsequent is a felony).

Most of these cases appear or should be race-neutral. However, take a walk up on the 4th or 5th floor any weekday and you will find hallways and courtrooms full of African-American defendants and their attorneys (I'm there almost every morning -- stop and say hi!). Looking last year in the courtroom of Judge John Siefert, assigned at that time only to criminal traffic OARs, you would find almost a hundred African-Americans there every morning. The OAR law has since been changed, making less of those cases criminal. [Judge Siefert would not forgive me if I didn't also mention his efforts to get people licensed.] But the sheer volume of blacks in that courtroom for this common but relatively petty charge in the past several years was remarkable.

Let’s play a game of Rumsfeld and answer our own questions for a moment: Do blacks drive while revoked, shoplift, damage property, commit battery, possess drugs more than white people? Kinda doubt it. Are white people less likely to be caught doing those things? Certainly. If caught, are whites more likely to be handled differently, with perhaps municipal tickets or perhaps just sent on home? Kinda think so. Can there be reliable statistics that show how or why police make these on-the-street decisions? No. Are blacks more likely to be stopped as drivers or passengers in cars because of real or imaginary equipment violations and found revoked, with drugs, guns or warrants for unpaid fines? Well, there’s even a phrase for it – it’s called Driving While Black and it’s for real.

Misdemeanors are called that for a reason, but let take one hypothetic example drenched in reality (i.e.: I have seen everything in this scenario in various cases) and see how an African-American might (and most likely will) be treated in the course of a case.

Let’s say a black woman tries to steal baby clothes at a local Wal-Mart. First of all, will she be caught? Well, what sort of scrutiny do you think black people get in those kind of stores, especially in certain (white) parts of town? While the store rent-a-cops are following around every black woman with a baby in a stroller, what are the chances that a woman of another persuasion is getting away with the same thing one aisle over? Zero? I don’t think so.

Once stopped by store security, she is taken to a room to wait for the police. When the police get there, what do you think happens? If she’s white, does she get a warning or, at most, a ticket? If black, what is the likelihood that she will be released, ticket or no, without being arrested and taken to the police station? Probably not. Will the police charge her with the crime of retail theft? Will the store insist on it?

Assuming a criminal charge, she will be brought to the station, printed and booked. If white, will she be given a court date and released? If black? Let’s say the arrest happens on a Saturday. If she is not released, she will probably be quoted a bail of $300 or so to get out. Chances are, the poor woman will not or can not post (less likely to have cash or a credit card on her; contacting family members can be difficult, and they often don’t have the cash either) and will have to wait until intake court on Monday. Two nights in jail so far, while a similar white woman is probably at home caring for her children.

Appearing in intake court, she is not in the clothes she is arrested in. She sits before the court commissioner after two rough nights in jail in impersonal, humiliating jail clothes. If she has priors, those will be listed – god help her if she has a case pending at the time she is picked up for another theft. She might get a signature bond and be released or she might have to post what everyone in the courtroom will consider a "low" cash bail of $100. For many poor women, it might as well be a million.

To this point, a white woman in the same situation will have various chances to avoid being locked up that the black woman might not enjoy. This is especially the case if the white woman has moderate resources – even "low" bail will keep the poorest among us locked up while others walk free while their case is pending. Especially on misdemeanors, black or white, pre-trial incarceration is the exclusive predicament of the poor.

She meets with her lawyer and maybe she has a defense. Maybe she paid for some items and forgot the others were in the bottom of the stroller...whatever. If she’s locked up and can’t make bail, she could ask for a speedy trial within 60 days. 60 days! Most people in that case will just decide to get it over with – another of many who profess their innocence, but plead guilty out of practical necessity. And, if it goes to trial, will the jury believe her over the security guard. Will they admit the possibility of an honest mistake by the poor black woman?

If it gets to sentencing, if it’s a first or second offense, she’s already served more time than anyone would if released while the case was pending. If she has priors and has had jail imposed before, the judge may decide she has to get more jail this time because she didn't "get it" last time. 10 days turns to 30 turns to 60. If she has three or more misdemeanors, the state can charge her as a "habitual offender", which means she can get up to 2 year in prison for shoplifting baby clothes. Prison. For some baby clothes. Believe it or not, there are people in the state prisons right now for misdemeanors. Retail thefts. Baby clothes.

These are the "little" cases, but they set the tone for the rest of the system. There is no one in the inner city who doesn’t know someone who has been affected by the sometimes heavy-handed prosecution and court process of petty crime. The sense of injustice permeates the community while they wait for their mothers, father, sons or daughters to come home after "short" stints in the slammer for unpaid fines, small amounts of marijuana, a loud outburst on a street corner, or a revoked licence discovered while driving with a "broken taillight".

Everyone understands the need to treat serious felonies seriously. But the entire system suffers a credibility and legitimacy problem when the small cases provide a constant background noise for only one part of the city.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

McAdams Shows His True Colors

There is a moderate Buzz on the Blogs this week about Marquette Prof. John McAdams' pre-emptive "study" about the disparity of black Americans who find themselves behind bars. Besides writing about it myself in my last post, the usual suspects have piped up about the "good" professor and he was just trying to get behind the numbers and blah de blah blah.

You'd think, to read the defenses, that McAdams is just some honest social scientist, reviewing the raw data with studious virtue, not seeking a desired result, but stumbling upon it anyway.

You would be wrong.

Sometimes, I join the comment thread on Rick Esenberg's "Shark and Shepard" blog just to get my two cents in and engage a little bit with Rick and some of his readers. We get some ideas out there for a couple of days and then let it go until we engage on another issues on another post on his blog or mine.

I was so engaged earlier this week over the Bill O'Reilly dust-up, where the Fox News Bully said on his radio show that he "couldn't get over" the human behavior in a Harlem restaurant that not only had black patrons but was run by blacks! Esenberg provided the usual excuses for this now-we-know-what-he-thinks-about-blacks comment, for some reason coming to the defense of O'Reilly the Blowhard. We have to start to "presume good faith" on the part of all those who enter the discussion on race in this country, he said. I disagreed that everyone gets a presumption of good faith in a comment:

You know what, Rick, I don't accept that O'Reilly, Limbaugh, Sykes or Belling come to racial issues in "good faith". They have built their careers on stirring up the "angry white male" -- it is Nixon's Southern Strategy brought to the radio marketplace. When Sykes calls black leaders "pimps" (unfathomably alright with you) and when Belling talks about black women "popping out babies" (you say you don't listen to the show, but the podcasts are readily available), they are using not even thinly veiled code words for well-understood racist concepts.

As for O'Reilly, I don't know why anyone would assume "good faith" on the part of someone who stirs up racial anxiety on purpose and then complains when it's pointed out. He's a big dumb jerk and proud of it. He has as much legitimate to offer on race relations as I do with who gets the GOP nomination (oh, please nominate Romney, please!).

People who want to be accepted in "good faith" have to do something besides tear down. They have to accept that there is a race problem in America. They can't just sit on the sidelines, throw spitballs, and call people trying to make a difference "pimps".

And O'Reilly knows what he said is wrong. That's why he can only attack those who point it out. He has yet to address the substance of his "can't get over" comment. He thinks he can hide behind Juan Williams unfortunate skirts forever, which, given Williams' pro-Fox disposition, he probably can.

And then there are people like you, Rick, who think that O'Reilly is acting in good faith and Jesse Jackson is a "pimp". You've got that exactly backward.

Esenberg responded:

The problem, I think, is that you come close to assuming that people who don't agree with your take on the race problem and what to do with it are racist or are trying to stir up white people. But, you know, reasonable people can and do disagree with you.

I suppose that I could go and listen to Belling's podcasts but, since I didn't defend him (just didn't attack him), I see no need to do so and, as you know, life is short. I said that I disagree with you about Sykes and O'Reilly's comments about Sylvia's. I stand by that.

OK, fine and that was that, I figured. Then I checked the thread again today and found this gem from Prof. John McAdams himself:

To Mike Plaisted: Jackson and Sharpton are pimps.

Failure to recognize that poisons any discussion.

As for this:People who want to be accepted in "good faith" have to do something besides tear down. They have to accept that there is a race problem in America. They can't just sit on the sidelines, throw spitballs, and call people trying to make a difference "pimps".

You are begging the question.

You are assuming that the racial hustling of Jackson and Sharpton is "trying to make a difference."

In fact, those guys are self-aggrandizing clowns.

"Throwing spitballs?"

As long as you guys preach nonsense, knocking it down is an honorable enterprise.

You've played the race card too long. It's not 1963.

Wow. Stunning, isn't it? Forget the racist name-calling and code words (pimps, hustlers, clowns). As long as you guys preach nonsense, knocking it down is an honorable enterprise. Well, I guess we know how you'll be using your credentials, don't we, professor?

I can't wait for McAdams to show up and be interviewed by Mike Gousha in another of Marquette's "Listening to the Wing-nuts" lunchtime seminars to discuss his "learned" findings.

But here's the question for Esenberg (also on the Marquette faculty): how do you "presume good faith" with a fire-breathing lunatic like John McAdams, for whom "knocking down" civil rights heroes like Jesse Jackson is an "honorable enterprise"? Am I really "poisoning any discussion" of the issue by not recognizing legitimate civil rights leaders as "pimps"? Is it "playing the race card" to point out the continuing legacy of slavery and racism in America?

We know where McAdams, O'Reilly, Sykes and Belling stand. They approach the problem of race in America in the opposite of good faith; as a manufactured "race card" that needs to be "knocked down". As usual, we will have to work around them and in spite of them to find any solution to continuing America's racial divide.