A few days ago, while hiking around Ann Arbor, I noticed that a local non-profit had bolted several small signs, concerning domestic abuse, to existing signposts. Given the fact that these posts are all over town, holding up everything from bus schedules to stop signs, and that each has several unused holes into which other things can be bolted, I can’t believe that someone hadn’t had the idea before. Even without the sanction of the city (which I’m sure this non-profit has), it seems to me like someone would have gotten it in their head prior to now to make their own official-looking signs and bolt them around town… So, I’m sitting here tonight wondering if it might be fun to make some signs and then send them around the U.S. to be put up in similarly conspicuous places. The puzzle, of course, would be to design something that would, at the same time, cause people to think, while not raising the suspicions of city employees. (How about signage for a fictitious creationism museum, using those pterodactyl images we’ve been working on? Or, how about a quote of some sort on the role of mankind in the universe? Maybe something from Kurt Vonnegut. Or, maybe an image of a yellow ribbon over someone’s mouth that says, “Patriots don’t ask questions.”) So, do you have any ideas?
Are you a young, African-American male within driving distance of Ypsilanti? If so, drop me a line. I might have some work for you.
Actually, I should mention right up front that it doesn’t involve either being alone with me, or the removal of any clothes… Video equipment, however, may be involved.
So, here’s the deal.
Last year, while making my way around Ypsilanti’s annual Heritage Festival, I happened to notice a large, black Humvee in the park… It was hard not to notice, as it was blasting rap music and surrounded by military personnel… As I made my way toward the vibrating, black military vehicle, which I seem to recall had giant speakers mounted in the back, I noticed a group of young African American teenagers approaching from the other direction.
The men in uniform, not surprisingly, turned their attention toward them (and away from the overweight, middle-aged white guy) and began their rap about the military (I believe it was the Army) and why it was a great place for a young man to spend a few years. The two things I distinctly remember are 1) that the recruiters said if they signed up they’d get to drive around in cool vehicles like this tricked-out Humvee, and 2) that lots of famous rappers had served in the military. I can’t remember the names of the rappers, but they rattled off a list and then said something like, “All of those guys got their start in the Army.” At some point, I think it became apparent that I was eavesdropping and the recruiters ushered the candidates around to the other side of the Hummer.
I personally don’t have a problem with the military, and, in fact, I think it can be really good for some people. So, I’m not suggesting that they not be allowed to recruit at community events like these. What I found offensive, however, was the fact that their pitch was so carefully crafted for an “urban” demographic. From, “I bet you’ve never been in a ride this expensive before,” to “he learned to rap in the military,” the pitch was honed to perfection. There was no talk, at least that I could hear, of the danger involved, or even the service that one might feel compelled to offer their country. There was no talk of the skills that would be learned, or the potential to have college tuition paid for. They weren’t there to talk about the realities of life in the military, or the current challenges we face in the Middle East. They were there fishing… luring in young kids with lots of bass and a big, shiny car.
So, this year (assuming they’re there again) I was thinking that maybe I’d get someone to go down with a mic, so we could all hear what’s actually being said… Unfortunately, I’m a bit out of touch with the high school demographic… and I don’t feel like going the route of Gene Wilder in “The Silver Streak” and trying to pass for young and black.
Maybe I’ll put up an ad on the new Craig’s List: Ann Arbor.
I’m tired of logging. There’s a lot to talk aout tonight, ut I just can’t seem to find the energy… And, it doesn’t help that the “” key on my computer isn’t working.
If you’re looking for other stuff to read in my asence, Time has an update on the Plame proe and the Washington Post has something aout ush’s recent run of legislative victories. And, then, once you finish those, there’s also some scarey stuff about the zomie takeover of San Francisco, Tara Reid’s ass, and the melting polar ice cap… I’d like to spend some time on the Energy ill, ut, like I said, I just don’t have the energy… Maybe I’m suffering from log depression.
Is there an inexpensive place that’ll fix my ?
Arianna Huffington has a great post on her site about jailed New York Times reporter Judy Miller and the role she may have played in the outing of Valerie Plame. Here’s a taste:
Not everyone in the Times building is on the same page when it comes to Judy Miller. The official story the paper is sticking to is that Miller is a heroic martyr, sacrificing her freedom in the name of journalistic integrity.
But a very different scenario is being floated in the halls. Here it is: It’s July 6, 2003, and Joe Wilson’s now famous op-ed piece appears in the Times, raising the idea that the Bush administration has “manipulate[d]” and “twisted” intelligence “to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.” Miller, who has been pushing this manipulated, twisted, and exaggerated intel in the Times for months, goes ballistic. Someone is using the pages of her own paper to call into question the justification for the war — and, indirectly, much of her reporting. The idea that intelligence was being fixed goes to the heart of Miller’s credibility. So she calls her friends in the intelligence community and asks, Who is this guy? She finds out he’s married to a CIA agent. She then passes on the info about Mrs. Wilson to Scooter Libby (Newsday has identified a meeting Miller had on July 8 in Washington with an “unnamed government official”). Maybe Miller tells Rove too — or Libby does. The White House hatchet men turn around and tell Novak and Cooper. The story gets out.
This is why Miller doesn’t want to reveal her “source” at the White House — because she was the source. Sure, she first got the info from someone else, and the odds are she wasn’t the only one who clued in Libby and/or Rove (the State Dept. memo likely played a role too)… but, in this scenario, Miller certainly wasn’t an innocent writer caught up in the whirl of history. She had a starring role in it. This also explains why Miller never wrote a story about Plame, because her goal wasn’t to write a story, but to get out the story that cast doubts on Wilson’s motives. Which Novak did…
But this unmasking — if it is to be complete — has to include Judy Miller and the part she played in the mess in Iraq. Of course, the division over Miller is nothing new… it predates her transformation into media martyr by many months. For an early look at this riff, check out Howard Kurtz’ May 2003 reporting on the way Miller ferociously fought to keep Ahmad Chalabi, her top source on WMD, to herself and the anger it caused at the paper. And also the paper’s extraordinary mea culpa from May 2004, in which its editors admitted that the Times’ reporting on Iraq “was not as rigorous as it should have been” — yet steadfastly refused to even mention the less-than-rigorous reporter whose byline appeared on 4 of the 6 stories the editors singled out as being particularly egregious. “It looks,” the Times’ public admission concluded, “as if we, along with the administration, were taken in.” And yet just two month earlier, Times Executive Editor Bill Keller called Miller, who was one of the main reporters “taken in” a “smart, well-sourced, industrious and fearless reporter.” Nothing about her less than “rigorous” reporting. Nothing about her reliance on Chalabi being less than “well-sourced.”
Any discussion of Miller’s actions in the Plame-Rove-Libby-Gonzalez-Card scandal must not leave out the key role she played in cheerleading for the invasion of Iraq and in hyping the WMD threat. Re-reading some of her pre-war reporting today, it’s hard not to be disgusted by how inaccurate and pumped up it turned out to be. For chapter and verse, check out Slate’s Jack Shafer. For the money quote on her mindset, look to her April 2003 appearance on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, where, following up on her blockbuster front page story about an Iraqi scientist and his claims that Iraq had destroyed all its WMD just before the war started, Miller said the scientist was more than a “smoking gun,” he was the “silver bullet” in the hunt for WMD. The “silver bullet” later turned out to be another blank — and the scientist turned out to be a military intelligence official.