Archive for December, 2008

Required Reading

December 27, 2008

Matt Labash once again stakes his claim as the best damn writer in journalism with this stunning requiem for Detroit. I’d like to break Matt’s fingers for being this good, but he’d probably just start dictating these stories out loud, and he’d still be better than anybody else in the business. A brief sample:

We tear through the ravaged east side–not to be confused with the ravaged west side. When he was growing up, Charlie’s mom had a flower shop down here, but there are almost no signs of commerce now. In my line of work, I’ve seen plenty of inner cities, but I’ve never seen anything in a non-Third World country like the east side of Detroit. Maybe the 9th Ward of New Orleans after Katrina. But New Orleans had the storm as an excuse. Here, the storm has been raging for 50 years, starting with the closing of the hulking Albert Kahn-designed Packard Plant in 1956, which a half century later, still stands like a disgraced monument to lost grandeur.

There is block after block of boarded windows and missing doors, structures tilting like the town drunk after a vicious bender. Some houses have buckled roofs, some have blue tarps, some have no roof at all. Which is not to say nobody lives in them. A mail carrier I see on the street says desperate squatters will frequently take up residence, even switching house numbers as it suits them. Not all fires are started maliciously. With no utilities, they’ll often make warming fires on the floor. At one point, we stop the car just to count how many burned-out houses we can see without moving. We count six, all from different fires.

We enter the firehouse of Squad 3/Engine 23, or the “Brothers on the Boulevard,” as they are nicknamed. It looks like a very orderly frathouse. There is Dalmatian statuary, in lieu of a real dog, a mounted swordfish, a photo of [recently killed in the line of duty fireman] Walt [Harris] holding a giant sub on the bulletin board. It is ordinarily a place filled with mirthful gregariousness, a place where new recruits might get dropped to their knees with buckets of water, or where middle-aged men play air guitar to Thin Lizzy solos coming from radio speakers.

But today, nobody’s in the mood to smile. In a 90 percent black city, a firehouse is one of the only truly integrated places. The photo that ran with Charlie’s April story contained white Sgt. Mike Nevin, smoking one of his ever-lit Swisher Sweets, clapping black Walt on the shoulder. They looked like ebony and ivory, living together in perfect harmony. They faced death together every day. When they call each other “brother” around here, they mean it.

Several wear shirts memorializing their fallen brother. A black wreath commemorates him on one wall. Charlie and I hang out for the better part of a day, and the stories come fast and furious. Firemen tell me that the safest time to be here now is Devil’s Night, the infamous night before Halloween for which Detroit earned its title as the arson capital of the world. With Angel’s Night counterprogramming, which sees more cops and neighborhood patrols on the street, they’ve managed to whittle the over 800 fires they suffered in 1984 down to 65 fires this October 30. Only in Detroit could 65 arsons in one night be considered a success.

Read the whole thing. Hat tip to Detroit native Michael Barone.

Advertisements

Four Pounds of Backbacon, Three French Toast, Two Turtlenecks…

December 25, 2008

… and a beer–on TV.

Okay, so it’s not on TV, but it is on a computer, eh:

Beauty. Everyone say, “Beauty.”

The Airing Of Grievances

December 23, 2008

File this one under Movies That Should Have Been Released In 2008, But Weren’t:

Indiana Jones and the Call of Cthulhu.

Discuss amongst yourselves–but not until after the Feats Of Strength.

Innumeracy At ABC

December 21, 2008

Sheesh:

Pointing to Republican victories in Louisiana and Georgia after the Nov. 4 vote, Republicans are now batting .1000 in the post-2008 era.

I’m going to remember that line every time I see a mediot use the word “decimate” incorrectly…

Global Warmening Update

December 18, 2008

Vegas, not Tahoe. H/T to Drudge:

Vegas snowstorm

A timely UPDATE from Andrew Bolt: The Top 10 Dud Global Warmening Predictions of 2008.

Good Luck With That

December 17, 2008

Via Breitbart:

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – The parents of American-born Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh are asking President George W. Bush to set their son free before Bush leaves office next month.

Lindh was sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty in 2002 to serving in the Taliban army, which violated U.S. economic sanctions against Afghanistan at that time.

At a news conference in San Francisco Wednesday, Lindh’s mother, Marilyn Walker, asked the president to show mercy during the Christmas season by commuting her son’s sentence.

Lindh initially asked for a commutation in 2004 and his lawyers have renewed the request each year.

The U.S. Department of Justice has never acted on the petition and a spokeswoman didn’t immediately return a telephone call.

Global Warmening Update

December 11, 2008

From the Weather Underground site (no relation to Bill Ayers, fortunately):

Updated: 9:16 AM CST on December 11, 2008
Observed at New Orleans Lakefront, Louisiana
Temperature 36°F 2°C
Windchill 23°F -5°C
Humidity 100%
Dew Point 36°F 2°C
Wind West at 28 mph / 44 km/h
Pressure 29.83 in / 1010 hPa (Rising)
Conditions Light Snow

Rest of Today
Cloudy early in the morning then becoming partly cloudy. Light rain and snow likely in the morning…then chance of light rain in the afternoon. Cooler. Snow accumulation up to 1 inch.

UPDATE: Check this out, courtesy of NOLA.com:
New Orleans snowfall

Beat the Hsiffies! Buy Bonds!

December 8, 2008

Heh:

– Rep. Maxine Waters, (D., Calif.), didn’t even bother to do her homework on how to pronounce the name of Chrysler’s parent company, Cerberus (a Wall Street investment firm). Waters repeatedly pronounced it “Cerebus.”

Dave Sim, call your office.

That’ll Leave A Mark

December 8, 2008

Andrew Breitbart:

Mrs. Clinton ignored the sexism and sexual assault the photo projected and accepted Mr. Favreau’s apology through her spokesman Philippe Reines, who weirdly joked, “Senator Clinton is pleased to learn of Jon’s obvious interest in the State Department, and is currently reviewing his application.”

This is not the first time, of course, that Mrs. Clinton has saved a man from exceedingly bad behavior with women. In fact, it’s her signature skill.

As we sometimes say down in these parts, “Dang.”

Let’s Play “Name That Party!”

December 2, 2008

From the AP today:

The mayor of Alabama’s largest city, Larry Langford, was arrested Monday on federal bribery and fraud charges connected to a multibillion-dollar sewer bond deal that has driven the surrounding county to the brink of bankruptcy.

Federal prosecutors in Birmingham said Langford, Montgomery investment banker Bill Blount and lobbyist Al LaPierre were charged in the 101-count indictment released Monday. The charges also include money laundering and filing false tax returns.

Langford is accused of receiving $230,000 in bribes from Blount, some of them routed through LaPierre, to influence the bond deals while Langford was president of the Jefferson County Commission. Blount’s firm made $7.1 million in fees from the bond work.

Shucky-darn, that sounds serious, if not terribly surprising. Chicago and New Orleans have nothing on Birmingham when it comes to political corruption. But hey, if it’s politics, shouldn’t at least one of these guys be part of a, you know, political party? Let’s check with CNN, the self-described “network of record:”

Larry Langford, 62, is named in an indictment that alleges criminal activity while he was a county commissioner, said U.S. Attorney Alice Martin.

As president of the Jefferson County Commission and head of its department of finance and general services from November 2002 until about November 2006, Langford put his personal affairs ahead of those of the county, Martin said.

“Our investigation has revealed, and the indictment alleges, that Langford sold his public office to his friends and political supporters,” Martin said.

Also named in the 101-count indictment are William Blount, 55, a Montgomery, Alabama, investment banker, and Albert LaPierre, 58, a Birmingham lobbyist, neither of whom returned calls from CNN.

Well, that’s odd. Still no mention of any party affiliation here. In fact, you have to go all the way down to the twelfth paragraph of the story in Langford’s hometown paper to find out that:

Blount, 55, and LaPierre, 58, have long been considered among the best politically connected players in the state. Blount is a former chairman of the state’s Democratic Party, and LaPierre is the former executive director of the party. Langford is a Democrat.

Well, go-lee! They have parties down there after all!

Anybody think those particular bits of information would have been reported by the AP or CNN if you replaced the word “Democratic” with “Republican?”