Wednesday, April 14, 2010

D.C. Droppings -- XXII

Pulitzer Praise

I never admitted it, though no one ever asked, but I fell in love with an op-ed columnist -- a Republican, conservative Southerner. But the author's writing is superb, and the ideology, such as it is, is never predictable.

That she is young and blonde helps, too.

Kathleen Parker won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary yesterday, and deservedly so, I thought, because she can think and write at the same time.

Decades ago, I liked to read George Will because although I have never agreed with him (except to root for the baseball team our sons were on) because he could write. But about 25 years ago he had written all the words in the language several times over and now makes less sense than ever (for example declaring that the Constitution should really not allow all people born on U.S. soil to be citizens.)

I will read anyone, regardless of opinion, whose writing and style I enjoy and envy. I say envy because although some people think I can write, I really can't make a lot of points with as much grace as I would like. To me, words are nails and I am a hammer.

Anyway, I have liked Ms. Parker from the start of her stint maybe 18 months ago, and today's column is another example of humanity glistening through a usually turgid Washington Post op-ed page. Grab a hankie, first, though.

Let's Go to the Videotape!

Friday, May 1, 1970 dawned a beautiful spring day, though not so beautiful for civilian Cambodians who, while not at war, were bombed by Richard Nixon in contravention of civilized behavior unmatched until the 43rd presidency. Due to the weather, a previous scheduled outdoor rally of anti-war activists drew a crowd. Four days before Kent State and other campuses erupted, the University of Maryland -- long a hotbed of social rest -- went to war.

In reality, the occupation of the main commercial road bordering the campus, was as predictable as the takeovers of the same real estate in previous generations after panty raids or football games. It was a lighthearted attempt at protest. Eventually, the Maryland National Guard was activated, and no satirist could ever have painted a picture like what really happened when some male protesters disappeared and re-emerged a short time later in uniform.

What I will never forget is that when the fierce-looking Guard personnel carriers rolled down U.S 1, protesters cheered. The reason: They were replacing the local police.

The bastard sons of those bastard cops are still on the job in Prince George's County, Maryland, but this time through the magic of videotape, the entire world saw what they do for sport. After the annual seizing of Route 1 after a basketball defeat of Duke, the cops beat an apparently tipsy student whose only crime was skipping along the sidewalk.

Everyone in the D.C. area know that this police force, which just came out from under federal supervision after decades of brutality cases, cover ups and mysterious jailhouse deaths, has been like that forever. Now, some serious shit should hit the fan. They beat up the grandson of a retired judge, who commented:
"They should go to jail ... And my opinion is: it was assault with intent to murder, or assault with intent to maim -- both of which are felonies in the state of Maryland."
Although Prince George's County is majority black and the wealthiest black political jurisdiction in America, the cops -- of both races -- are stuck in 1960 when, according to the student newspaper account of the first drugstore sit-in arrests, an arrestee shouted, "You can't do this. This is America." Whereupon a county cop replied, "This isn't America. This is Prince George's County."

Haley's Vomit

That police force would be more at home in Mississippi, whose record on race, poverty, education and health rank them as a developing country run by an enlightened despot. The despot is a porcine, lard-jawed, slime-dripping Gov. Haley Barbour, former chair of the Republican Party, former political director for Ronald Reagan, one-time king lobbyist and friend of Jack Abramoff -- and always a racist.

I covered him briefly in 1976 when Barbour, as a state party leader in a state with few Republicans, held his national Republican convention delegation together to renominate Gerald Ford. Had he not, Reagan would have been nominated. He was charming then, but the timbre of his voice and his entire body language told me I would not want to be anywhere near this man off the job.
When Katrina hit the Louisiana-Mississippi coast, Barbour -- whose state got the Bush Administration's largess based on shared Republican values -- rushed to get on television. His first reaction to the disaster was to announce that looters would be shot. After the storm, his main project was getting federal funds to rebuild the offshore casinos in his waters.

He was in the news against this past weekend when he was asked about the Virginia governor's proclamation commemorating the confederacy without mentioning slavery. Said Barbour, everyone knows slavery was bad and that somehow mentioning it as the cause for the Great Treason of 1861-1865 was just a bunch of "diddly."

Maybe even some troglodyte white Republicans (are there any other kind?) will be offended enough to deny Barbour his place as a political leader on this planet. But I'm not counting on it.

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