12 CDs for the Price of 1!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Hispanic Dade

Shout out to White Dade. Inspirational. Now let's just jump into our topic shall we?

Water seeks its own level?
I strongly care about the entire Cuban-American community. The Cuban-Americans in desperately poor parts of Hialeah or Flagami are as important as Cuban Americans in Cocoplum. I've worked with Cuban*1 kids in Miami who attended "good" (parochial) schools but received poor education and didn’t aspire to much. (That was not a blanket indictment on parochial schools in Miami.) I think I can express how stifling the Miami mind set can be from sharing a true story.

From my work in college admissions and financial aid I have an arrangement with an Ivy League school for free, whereby I am basically allotted several spaces for students that othewise would probably not be admitted. This informal arrangement comes through my continued non-profit work. (Here is where I open myself to your charges of ethnocentrism and hypocrisy.) I made a point of recruiting Cuban American kids for these slots. I found it nearly impossible to get a kid. Even at this age, the kids and their families seemed to be afraid to exit it the clositered world of Cuban Miami. So why? Was life really better? Was the world outside Miami that hostile for Hispanics? This has led to numerous conversations. The latest was with an old freind that worked for a Cuban-American non-profit with offices in Miami.

He related to me some of the statistical info he had been working with recently in his grant writing. He also spoke of his frustration with dealing with grant writing in the Cuban American community in Miami because of a strong tendency among a certain element (whom I'll call the Heraldistas) to not want to reflect upon the persistent poverty among Cuban Americans or other Hispanics. This has been a topic for us for quite a while. I must admit he was more frustrated than me because, as my Mama always says, "water seeks its own level" (which for the metaphorically challenged, means that people aspire or settle to be what they are inside no matter the conditions.)

Why it's hard to address Cuban and Hispanic poverty in Miami
Are there too many forces working against a person who is trying to address the problem of poverty in the Cuban American community? Some on the right have a stake in promoting another example of the model minority myth. Many on the left (both in the U.S. and Cuba) use the myth to depict a monolithic community- racist, corrupt, cruel and powerful, fleeing a popular revolution only to dictate U.S. policy for their own mercenary ends. This has been fed all the more by certain (small) elements of the Cuban American community and a lazy MSM.

Sometime ago I had an interesting discussion with another esteemed blogger about what the some of the Cuban-American Census figures and their implications from an earlier posting. I must admit, I was somewhat dismissive, partially owning to my feeling that "their reality may suck but it ain't mine so why argue" principle, which is always is ugly and callous. It also ignores cruel and unfortunate vicissitudes that I have myself know too well.

But the facts are there
Revisting these statistics, it seems that some myths have a grain of accuracy and others do not. For example, the orignal entering, older group of Cuban immigrants were better educated, roughly at the level of their American contemporaries (of all backgrounds). Younger Cuban Americans are becoming less educated. It was also surprising to find that most Cuban Americans have been in the U.S. longer than other Hispanic groups.

Hialeah, the City of Progress
First let me share some statistics about Hialeah, the largest Cuban city outside of Havana and the most Cuban City in America: 49% adults (over 23) have a high school diploma; 29.6% of kids are in poverty (and three times as many under 150% of poverty level); 32% of kids proficient in reading in grade 4; 23% proficient in math grade 8; average home value $61,600.

Miami-Dade, County of Corruption
And here are some from Miami-Dade, county level.The median income for a household in the county was $33,900 (Beacon Council 2006). The per capita income for the county was $18,497. About 14.5% of families and 18.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.9% of those under age 18 and 18.9% of those age 65 or over. Hispanic Income levels in Miami are less than local White non-Hispanics but above Black non-Hispanics. Miami-Dade Hispanics are less prosperous than Hispanics nationwide.

Miami, City of Three Card Manny (Diaz)
As you all have heard by now, Miami is ine of the most Hispanic cities in America and has the largest percentage of foreign born Hispanics. Here is a report on Miami and what our government has wrought, from a well-known non-partisan policy group. What is interesting is that Miami's Hispanics have, almost across the board, the same statistical indicators of prosperity/poverty as average Miamians.

Notes about age, marriage status, citizenship, year of arrival to the U.S., Language preference.
Cubans are by far the oldest population, older than the overall population and older than the Anglo population. It has the highest proportion of married adults (and the second highest rate of divorced and widowed adults next to Dominicans.) Only Mexican Americans have more two parent households. Oddly enough 27.1% of Cubans are not citizens which is close to the Hispanic average of 29%. Also a striking oddity is that even though 46% of Cuban Americans have come to the U.S. after 1980, a greater percentage of Cuban Americans have been in the U.S. before 1970 (39%) which is at least three times greater than any other group, including Puerto Ricans. Cubans however tend to speak Spanish at home and not to speak English very well in comparison to Hispanics as a whole.

Below are statistics about Hispanics, in general, by country of origin, the average American and White non-Hispanics from the 2004 U.S. Census*2:
Adult of all Hispanic groups have a lower high school graduation rate (HSGR) and college graduation rate (CGR) than average Americans 84.4% and 24% and even more so than WNH (89.8% HSGR and 36.1% CGR). Cuban Americans adults graduate high school at 62.9%, trailing Puerto Ricans and South Americans in HSGR. Cuban Americans trail only South Americans among Hispanic groups in college graduation rates at 21%, but still considerably trail the overall and NWH averages. (Cubans 50 years old and over have a CGR of 24.1% while Cuban adults younger than 50 years old have 15.8% CGR.)

Cuban Americans have a strikingly low participation rate among both adult males at 62.4% and female 49.7%. This is the lowest rate of participation in the labor force among all adult Hispanics as well as the overall adult population and adult WNH at 79.6% male and 66.1% female. The Hispanic adult participation in the work force is roughly the same as the 72% male and 56% female overall rate.

Median family income among Cuban Americans is $42,600 is a close second among Hispanic groups (behind South Americans $42,800) but far fewer Cuban Americans work. The median among all American families is $49,600 and among WNH $56,900.

Median individual incomes among full time working Cuban Americans is highest among Hispanic groups at $31,500 for working males and $26,300 for working females. This is closely comparable to other Hispanic groups, exp, Puerto Ricans at $30,300 males and $25,600 females; and South Americans at $30,500 males and $24,200 females. The median American wage is $37,100 for males and $27,200 for females; the median WNH is $44,300 males and $35,300.

14.6% of Cuban Americans live in poverty (measured by income divided by individuals per household), less than other Hispanic groups, but roughly comparable to South Americans at 15%. Cuban Americans have fewer children per household, lowering rates of household poverty. However 19.9% of Cuban American elderly live in poverty that any other Hispanic groups except Puerto Rican elderly at 23.4%. 20% of Cuban Americans live in poverty compared with 12% of all Americans and 6% of WNH.

57% of Cuban Americans own their own home, highest among all Hispanic groups (followed by that mysterious Hispanic “other” group, at 50.8%). 45.7% of Hispanics own their own home. 66.2% of Americans and 73.8% of WNH own their own homes.

*1 Please forgive me but I somtimes lapse out of the PCness, saying "Cuban-American" when in most of convo with fellow Cuban-Americans of all political persuasion use the term "Cuban(s)" or "Cubano(s)". If we are here we realize we are Americans and I don't see why we have to explain that to placate Cuban bashers.

*2"Census 2000, We the People: Hispanics" 2004 and "Census 2000, We the People: Demographic Report"2004 You may note that they were revised from an earlier report from Census 2000 and are much more flattering to Hispanics of all backgrounds. There was no explanation for the revision.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Happy to be back Part 3

PART 3: Looking into Blogs and Other Dark Places (Part of a Series as Miamista the blog wends its way into Permanent Abeyance. I'm too big for my audience duckies!)

1. A number of South Florida blogs have died and soon this will be on the list. I am close to creating an in memoriam section. Don Jeffrey, Miamity, Kordor, Miami Muse, Fort Lauderdale, The Daily Sketch, immediately come to mind. Blogs are dying in Miami as fast as they are being replenished. What I found funny was that Don Jeffrey referenced this thread in one of the best all around blogs in Miami about why he is off into the sunset. The Herald also mentioned this blogger which has made me like the paper more. (In truth the Herald isn’t that-that bad of an AP outlet/"news"paper, relatively speaking.) I linked to the New Miamian post months ago and I still get comments sent to me about it, so I know Carolina is tired of them and tired of my compliments. Anyway, Don Jeffrey referenced two television shows from Brazil, "America" and "City of Men" (also see City of God) that I like and which I understand will be shown on Bravo or IFC. (I understand it is popular in Cuba, where I initially heard of it.) I suspect that Miami could one day look like Sao Paulo if our economy and population increased tenfold and our city leaders/city planners continued to be as inept. I take that back Paulistas (and my buddy Joabim now in Miami), Sao Paulo does have some park space and a pretty good subway system (better than New York’s).

2. Someone who works for a college in Miami is arguing with Bob Norman about Leonard Pitts. (I won't link to all of it, I'll leave it to you to go back a few links.) I know because the person used something that I wrote and then cleared it (with my editing) with me. It’s a great guy who I’ve know for a while, one of my best, best friends in Miami, who has contributed ideas, material and information for Miamista. We are in 90-98% agreement usually and we are in 80% agreement. Let me take this moment to say that he really should start a blog. Unfortunately I think he will be leaving Miami soon. I chipped my own response in (which won't appear until Bob approves comments on Monday) because Bob is becoming an asshole about the whole Hip Hop thing, which is heartbreaking. (Pitts' ignorance of music, as a former music writer, is just as startling as his inability to penetrate issues as a n opinion columnist.)

Then check the comments in the Daily Pulp for the Rev. "Black Community Pimpin' Republican" Dozier articles; here is the latest. Dozier is such bum-scrape. Sticky Dozier stridently believes that in these times of the Black community's woe and want, people are looking for answers and he knows the only book that's gottem. Okay, he doesn't know that book. But he knows that he should be able to do the deciding about holy books and religion, even though he apparently can't understand any of them himself. Dozier has spoken to Jesus and this is what Jesus wants him to be a Muslim hater and vocal lackey of the Chrisitan extremist. Who am I to argue with a super-ignorant, hate spewing, faith-dictating zealot who apparently has Jesus' blessings? I think my feelings about him are properly illustrated in the picture to the left.

3. So someone will explain why I find myself gloriously entertained and in alarming sympathy with White Dade who gets some guff sometimes, I think unfairly. The why’s don’t matter, he is a must read. And if you want a little more serious policy stuff with your sharp humor try another Miamista fave.

4. I'm sure some of you picked up my indirect reference to criminal violence and the rash of killings in Liberty City and Little Haiti in my last post. By referencing a larger history I wanted to put the violence in perspective. So often people speak about "those neighborhoods" with "those people". Again, there is history, continuation and conditions. Being victimized, btw doesn't make you a better person. Continued vitimization makes people self-loathing, frustrated, ignorant, and all other sorts of maladjusted. Why do you think Black kids without prospects and opportunity value their life and those like them so little? Why do you think they try to cover up their lack of self worth by valuing hyper consumerism? Why do you think kids are ready to kill because they have been disrespected by those that look like them? Why do you think kids would be so willing to risk life and freedom in a drug/street crime culture when they are more aware than anyone of the consequences and likelihoods?

What are your parents, with no education themselves going to do? Kids won't respect what parents say as they began to comprehend reality through their own eyes and that of the outside world's. I mean, their advice hasn't done them or their community much good. And there is a truth to what they see on the streets. Violence is, afterall, what ultimately controls society. Even Rawls and Nozick (or Patrick Henry and Alexander Hamilton) can/could agree on that. What these kids don't understand is how community, political and social organization can be manipulated through the implied control of violence/disorder. Neither do their parents.

I read Burnettiquette and Stuck on the Palmetto religiously. (Okay, you see the links at the right.) Rick seems to be having some genuine and righteously motivated difficulty in understanding why Black people in Miami might be afraid to trust police. James thinks that parents are a potential bulwark against community violence.Let me offer my highly esteemed and deeply respected bloggers a differing read.

Blacks have every reason to be distrustful of police and violent criminals. What if residents do cooperate? (Which I don't believe is always in the best interest of the community considering the rate of convictions, incarceration and lack of rehabilitation programs.) And after someone "snitches", where will the police be? (Picture of reunion of Miami residents displaced because of city demolition, still not compensated, or rehoused.)

The police are in a position to change this. Recruit from the neighborhood, hire Creole speaking officers, more importantly put them in situations where they interact positively (like PAL’s and youth centers as well as walking the beat). Develop youth courts, alternative sentencing and diversion programs that provide support for realistic and viable alternatives to street crime.

The Miami-Dade Association of Community Development Corporations say that though Blacks are a quarter of the county’s population, predominantly Black neighborhoods are receiving less than five percent of county spending. The same government that stole everything from funds for the development of an entire section of the city (Model City) and bulldozed most of the housing stock from owners without compensation and lets slumlords break every law in the book while having the police evict tenants regularly is not a recipe for trust.

I should pause for a moment here to note that Cuban Americans and other Hispanics in Miami actually are as bad off as Black youth. Hialeah would, after all, be the poorest large city in America, rather than Miami if it had enough people to qualify. Hialeah High School has a 95% family qualification for free or reduced lunch, which is among the highest in the state. Neverthe less, for reasons I won't pursue here, there are differing circumstances between the groups.

Honestly sometimes I wish a hurricane would hit the Northside of Dade and FEMA pays money willy nilly to any and everybody in an orgy of money grabbing and mass exodus (in the way that Andrew did in South Dade, allowing Whites to flee en masse.) Oh wait, Uncle Sam doesn’t do that anymore…

5. If we are looking to find our humanity while reading a well written, thought provoking blog there is only one place to go . If you are talking about writers and people I have immense respect for, there you are.

6. I also read Hidden City (which is like good West Coast Jazz- intelligent, cool with occasional sparks and sustained depth). Kevin is about to ban me for commenting too much. Steve Klotz has simply been doing some of the best blogging in Miami and possibly the entire Southeast, when not attacking soccer, the French and everyone’s sensibilities. Here is the proof .

7. I plug her and you say “she’s not a Miami blogger…” So what. Btw, Spoke in the Wheel's latest about Gay marriage proves that Albany is to Tallahassee as Miami is to New York. Hold on, Mayor Alvarez said Gay people have “sexual problems” and still won. Hmmm.

8. Speaking of, here is something I owe Manola, though she did pretty well herself. Sometimes I read Manola and I feel guilty because she is so bad but the blog is so good. If I was a girl I’d channel her.

9. Miaminights stays really cool and Miamist has stepped up their game, but still haven’t connected to Miami. Neither seem organic yet but I can’t put my finger on it. I’m really positive on Miamity’s efforts and promise but it seems like they need someone to blog that knows Miami from squat and has an opinion, preferably an informed one. (I’ll volunteer to write and you’ll have an uninformed one!) So we can't forget Critical Miami as the omniblog of Miami.

10. Look at the blog of hope and struggle for Miami, 6/21, 6/24, 6/27, 6/30 entries on why U.M. SUCKS. (It really doesn’t, it just seems to be losing it way, descending incrementally into suckitude.) I mean in fairness I have problems with NYU and Cornell fighting grad assistance attempts to unionize but that would be precedent setting. That sucks too.

11. In the battle of one upmanship in conservatism (though I reject the accuracy of this term as popularly applied) Crist who seems to be a rational sort of guy with some sense of morality is joining his campaign foe Gallahger in an implacable anti-abortion platform. I thing this is a good time to explore beyond our borders for comparative policy in modern times. And who better to look to but our Latin neighbors.

Latin American law enforcement shining light in dark places... Did you know that it is not only a felony to get or perform an abortion in El Salvador, but that the state actively investigates offenders.

There are other countries in the world that, like El Salvador, completely ban abortion, including Chile and Colombia. El Salvador, however, has not only a total ban on abortion but also an active law-enforcement apparatus -- the police, investigators, medical spies, forensic vagina inspectors and a special division of the prosecutor's office responsible for Crimes Against Minors and Women, a unit charged with capturing, trying and incarcerating an unusual kind of criminal.

For those who were wondering how a basal right to privacy becomes a derivitional right to abortion, "vagina inspector" pretty much serves as a logical bridge. I wonder, does a Salvadoran vagina inspector need a warrant? Or is a badge and probable cause enough? (The Picture to the upper left is my attempt to shoehorn picts from the WC in. I also know that she will kick a vagina-inspector's ass. Oh how I miss the Brazilian fans!)

Happy to be Back Part 2

So what have I missed in Miami? (Not much; look to your left. They spell it with an "s"... BTW PLEASE READ PART 1&2 even though they're put up on the same day! These may be some of the last posts of old Miamista.)

1. First, what has Miami missed? Not a world championship. The bullshit New Times non-story last week I won’t bother to link to about a Heat minority owner from Israel when the majority owner from Israel, Micky Arison, owner of Carnival slave galleys, * Katrina gouger extraordinaire and partner to sister who is caught up in the family business of arms smuggling and money laundering, etc. I mean, I’m as afraid of him as anyone else but at least I hope the New Times reporter who bothered to write that piece is being paid off for not reporting information on things that are already known. There is a reputed connection between his family’s bank and an attempt by Margaret Thatcher’s ne’er do well son to become a new Cecil Rhodes (or I should say Mike Harari). "Executive Outcomes" and "Blackwater" should mean a lot to you today since they are operating on all seven continents on behalf of corporations and the government for regime support and change, sanctioned or otherwise. Don't front, you'd love to take over three or four resource rich dirtbag nations too if you could.

Tangential question: why are White people afraid of Black youth again? White folks have been more gangsta than anyone else, and it’s okay! Rhodes- a dozen White men, a continent, the odds are my side…drug pusher, pimp, diamond horder, germ warfare pioneer, user of weapons of mass destruction, promoter of internecine violence and unrivaled thief that took over half a continent and personally owned most of a country that he named after himself. Again, where is the honor of being a Rhodes scholar a Black person heard the phrase “Put your hands up n-gger, I’m stealing all your shit and this is my turf now” was from a White guy. And he really meant it. I often imagine he would be right at home in Overtown today running a drug ring. I take so many shots at corrupt local officials who HAPPEN to be Hispanic I feel I have to spread the love or get some more mail about being anti-Hispanic. I digress. (If making light of genocide, enslavement and racism here was too unPC you know how to issue me a caution: the comments section.)

2. Florida is always tricky when it comes to education. Jeb is such a scamp!

3. Down here in Miami we have our own little brouhaha among educators and pols. Seemingly the only high level Black official in Miami with self respect, MDPS Superintendent Rudy Crew, has decided he won’t just shuffle away. To have Arza, a race baiting, greedy, thieving party hack with a personal vendetta against the head of public schools leading the Miami legislative delegation on educational issues is a travesty! And Rudy, who COULD just cash his very large checks has decided that he’s going to fight the good fight. Local Black leaders are looking at him like he’s Nat Turner reincarnate, to their obvious Hattie McDaniels.

4. Hispanic leaders who are tired of screwing their constituents for Jeb and being bullied by Ralph “the Hedgehog” Arza decide to go public and support Crew and education (and nothing has come of it, yet.) Arza and few other Jeb lackeys have decided to punish these guys for having independence and a scruples. (Caputo is a better education reporter than the spotty Matty Pinzur who is remarkable in his ability to miss stories, color stories with a particular ignorance all his own and most embarrassingly, duplicate a single story ad infinitum. Okay, I’m being unfair or at least harsh but I give him his due when he deserves it.)

5. What is the best way to send the opening salvo? Stir the pot of community divisiveness by playing on the worst impulses of the populace; in other words a book banning. Overtown USA continues to be the blog of a million people and it is a reliable place to find a good take on this issue. What you have to love is that people are making the comparison of a preschooler’s book and President Wilson’s favorite White supremacist movie, "Birth Of A Nation." BOAN btw continues to be known because it is used in academic settings to students of a proper age to illustrate the thorough and pernicious state of racism in America at the time. Take a moment to look at another side.

6. More on Rudy Crew.Our intepid hero has determined that the school district needs to stop letting two black fat-cat theives/pols and lackeys commit open theft of sorely needed funds from the people who they (never really) represent. I hear that commissioners at the county level are pressuring Crew and the board to keep their lackey at the public trough. They'll win this one.

Crew seems to be fairing a bit better than other highly competent professionals brought in to reform the unreformable pieces that make up the grand picture of public corruption and ineptitude that is Miami's public sector. Many thought that he would have had an Angela Gittens or Constance Kaplan or Adis Vila done on him by this time. Go Rudy!

7. Terrorism in Miami. While we are surrounded by terrorists, have streets named for them and they have open offices, one terrorists (Posada Carriles of course) may be set free because he is know being acknowledged as having been a CIA operative. (Does Posada’s lawyer work with Al Qaeda’s PR department in an effort to delegitimize America in the eyes of the world?). Oh yeah, a bunch of knuckleheads with dreams of scamming some money have been exalted to the position of grand terrorists, both trivializing serious terrorism even more and reminding Black people that they are still in the old shitbag of distrust by mainstream America. Priceless. Of course I’d rather the media just drop the singling out of race and religion when speaking of terrorism but it plays for a lot of reasons.

8. Miami chooses a new city manager to replace the Joe “The Evil Clown” Arriola. Here is was the selection criteria. For a more serious discussion look here. It’s like a baseball team needing a starting pitcher and signing a mascot. More on mascots...

9. Miami replaces the Winton, who will go on to serve time- as the Notre Dame mascot. Who did they choose? The most incompetent, ass-kissing person, politically unviable person they could find, i.e., Deputy City Manager/Chief Financial Officer Linda Haskins. Umhmm… She was the chief financial officer of the city so she’s already implicated in the cities budget problems including the fire fee deal, the missing $35 million in HUD money and questionable contracts; she has also already committed herself to be a Home Depot Hoe. The Grove resident has been mismanaging the city for six years so she has more baggage than any of our current officials. She is hoping perhaps that her Angloness is enough to overcome this. I think the Grovites have been cured from ethnic voting. (I would argue that Anglo voters in the Grove haven’t ever really been racist, they simply didn’t want the sort of Banana Republic government that everyone should hate.) The crazy thing is that she is not guaranteed to have her job back when she comes off of leave, meaning that her livelihood is being held over her head. Now of course that brings up the question about a conflict of interest as she is working with people who very well may be her boss. So what did she say to assuage fears that she is simply a Winton/Diaz shill? Haskins answered this in her own way during her swearing-in. She thanked her ''wonderful mentor, Mayor Diaz”, and said she “hoped to make the man she is replacing -- Winton -- proud.” I wonder who will be replacing her in the upcoming election. I’ll think about it but I’d appreciate some feedback from readers.

10. Audacity! (Turn your head if you're tired of U.S. government funded terrorists retiring in Miami.) Pinochet has used killed tens of thousands of people, made millions more live in horrible poverty and littered Chile with mass graves and mourning mothers, all with our support. He has ducked trials in six nations but he still is trying to protect some of the hundereds of millions he stole from the treasury and apparently made from drug trafficking. Again, why did we put him in and arm him to the teeth? Why did we actually assist his military and secret police that invented whole new methods of genital torture with the aid of our specialists at Ft. Benning’s SOA? Yet he has the audacity to be challenging charges because he has had some of his assets frozen!!! It is a Miami issue because most of his family are here in Miami, running money laundering banks. His son was recently indicted for some laundering activity but pled down and actually kept the money. As some of you know, Cuban American terrorist from Miami in a killing spree killed Letilier as well as an American and even threatened the lives of FBI officers who were trying to catch them. It marked a whole wave of terrorism emanating from Miami

11. The best journalist in Miami decided to take a week off by claiming that it was a seasonally slow news cycle (tsk, tsk). It’s okay Rebecca because you have been writing your ass off and I doubt that it was appreciated as much as it should be.

*Great job for missing another local story Miami Herald!

Happy to be Back Part 1

First happy to be back. I hope I left you hanging on my last words like an apostrophe! (Geddit?) I received some interesting feedback from a highly respected reader, Nic Fit, saying that Miamista was drifting and that the name Miamista was no longer appropriate for the blog. Read the discussion. I should add that the guest articles are coming down tomorrow so I'm only sorta back.

I feel obligated to report on my time in Europe but I’m not sure what to say. It’s not like when you’re spontaneously sharing stories with people next to you. In fact, this blog did me the non-favor of sharing my trip with people whom I might have asked to go but wasn’t really at liberty to because of a number of reasons. I was also too poor to buy everyone gifts that I would like to so here is my apology.

Do I start on some sociological musings, for instance, asking why travel abroad, and what it says about the constraints of economics, class, race, etc.? Do I go into racism in football which more than the theme for this year’s world cup, was a hot topic that played out on the pitch as well as in discussions in the media and the great people whom I met? What about the conversations and observations? I missed a short trip to Montreal that I failed to report on as well as a Moroccan and China trip.

I have been in a rush to travel these days because I assume that my days of freedom from responsibility are numbered. So much of my life is predicated on giving myself the maximum flexibility and maximum mobility. Can’t imagine it will be cool to hit up budget hotels and youth hostels forever. I was too old to get into one or two which was FRIGHTENING!!! I can’t let hard won opportunity and growth slip away so easily. You’d be surprised how many things get lost over time, how many things get placed in storage only for me later to sell and give away. I might also mention that I pulled a tendon in my heel while playing pick up soccer in Germany and that makes me fear that athleticism will start to fade. Hmmm. I hope we can take all of this and spread it out over the next few weeks without me getting on your nerves.

Here is me bemoaning that 80-85% of Americans will never own passport, even though twenty percent of just those Americans in the Census are first generation (including those born of immigrants and born abroad) and that passports tend to be issued to the same sectors of our population, immigrants and the wealthy. Two percent travel abroad outside of Canada (for God’s sake every college kid goes to Mexico I thought!) Mexico, Canada, England by far, then France as a way distant fourth… Well the rest of the world does suck.

Okay, football/football/futebol. Let me be clear, I am no fan. And by that I mean I enjoy the actual game, playing it and witnessing it rather than rooting for teams. That goes for sports in general.

Italy- Masterful performance. Very physical. Brutal defense. Superb gamesmanship (more on that later). Good set pieces of the English type, i.e., a tall striker who use their height for heading even if they can’t walk straight much less dribble. (There seems to be a shortage of tall AND coordinated people in soccer.) And no one dives like the Italians, whose performance throughout was worthy of La Scala. Those of you who know my last name will know that I’m only being fair, despite a very distant ancestral call.

Oh Brazil!- Fat Ronaldo (okay, he’s just big boned) was not good for Brazil as a single striker. I mean if he can beat your off sides trap the way he did against Ghana, you’re just a sucky team, or at least an undisciplined one. I’ve always thought he was skillful, no one get the ball off his feet with direction and speed quicker and he is great with headers, but he is also selfish. That not really a fault with a striker unless that striker can no longer move. Greatest collection of players and crappy team. Ronaldhino deserves better targets and Cafu should have retired before, not after this World Cup.

Holland, Germany, Sweden- the ugly game, concentrating on set pieces, hard tackles, intimidation (not really Germany) with attacking players having more pace than ball control. I think it is fair to say that there is much less diving among these teams.

England- Seemed to have it all. Brutal team tackling, dead on corners (isn’t that the only reason Beckham is allowed to walk a pitch), pace (Rooney), intimidation (Rooney again), ball control (Owen), a tall striker for heading (Couch). Penalty kicking was bad and their goalie was mediocre. We’ll probably never see a team of specialists like that again but they were way overrated as individuals. Now the English can do what they usually do and blame a newly minted villain for their ineffectualness, preferably a swarthy Latin with flair, (Cristiano Ronaldo plays the role of Maradonna) in these sad post-imperial days.

Portugal- the little country that couldn’t should have done better but compounded probable bias as a little country with the little country syndrome of whining and the finesse team habit of diving (too an extreme matched only by Italy.) Cristiano Ronaldo needs to get a new trick besides scissor kicks and diving but his pace, strength, flair and quickness coupled with the fact that girls LOVE dude, means he should be the next great thing- except in piss-pants England. (Sorry old buddy Geof in Cheltenham, good seeing you.)

Argentina- should have won but they blew it by trying to play defense. When you pass and move together like that, that IS your defense. Argentines are insufferable though right? So who wanted them to win? Me; purely on the grounds of soccer, Maradonna and Nestor Kirchner.

Ukraine- they’re God awful but deserve mention for an entirely different reason. Oleg Blokhin, their coach has inspired me to dislike his team; here’s what he said to do so: “The more Ukrainians there are playing in the national league, the more examples there are for the young generation. Let them learn from Shevchenko or Blokhin and not some zumba-bumba whom they took off a tree, gave two bananas and now he plays in the Ukrainian league.”

Spain- How does Spain always manage to be so repulsive? I mean there is the tennis player Nadal who I want to like but his mastery is of those sloppy, fuck-up-your-clothes, Third World-ish clay courts. (I mean, no half developed nation should play on clay except the French who continue to use them just to be different.) And why does that ass-ferret Nadal insist on wearing culottes. Oh, why do I hate Spain? Spain is the most notoriously racist football fans and team in the world. Spanish team coach and Ralph Arza hero Aragones manager told his players “to get (French star) Henry Thiery, to show that Black piece of shit you are better than him.” The Spanish Football federation all but cheered him on. Spain is where the monkey chants at Black players started and continues, unabated. A group of racist thugs viciously beat a man in a stadium after a game because they thought he was a South American immigrant (turns out he was Spanish native/national.) Teams have group of wannabe fascist fans, most despicably including the Ultra Surs, who several Spanish players go out of their way to support. And there are no mitigating achievements like football team success or national habits of good clothes, good food, good cars, etc.

France- should have won but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, right Zizou (aka Zidane Zinadine)? You better really consider if it’s worth it however as opposed to reacting. I mean, you can take the guy out of the hood by you can’t take the hood… Speaking of the ‘hood, why does virtually all of the French team come from it? I mean, it is like the Foreign Legion of soccer, with all but two of its starters coming from abroad (Africa and the Caribbean) or children of immigrants from the same. Is there a law that only Arabs and Blacks can play or in France can only Arabs and Blacks play?

Zizou- why we still love ya. Thiery Henry, team mate to Zinadine Zidane overheard Marco Materazzi call Zidane a "Screw his damn Arab mother" and asked him earlier "Why don't you play for your own country". Materazzi has a history of thuggish play and racism. He tried to end Aloisi's career with a knee tackle away from the play and his cynical and brutal two-footed challenge could have ended Marco Bresciano's career and almost did. Materazzi said Zoro (an African player in the Italian league) was just getting publicity when Zoro walked off with the ball in Sicily amidst thrown bananas and monkey chants. Materazzi, has also been involved with a number of other altercations on the pitch and has been suspended for it almost a dozen times. It is unclear whether that was the final insult before the headbutt or one of the comments up to that point. Materazzi for his part says that he insulted Zidane with whatever the inflammatory comment was because Zidane looked at him with “super arrogance”. Materazzi had self-admittedly “held him by his shirt for just a few seconds” during a corner kick and Zidane said “if you want my shirt that badly I’ll give it to you”. Materazzi refused to say what comments he used. When it was asserted that during the match he had called Zidane a terrorist Materazzi said he was “ignorant and doesn’t know what an Arab terrorist is.” Materazzi declined to say specifically what he called Zindane.

If this were a less important game I wish Zidane would have cocked him, but in this case he just played into his hands. Zidane should have learned already. When playing against Saudi Arabia there were bunches of chants with people calling him a sellout and accusing his father of being a collaborator in Algeria. A player called him a "harki" (Arabic epithet for colonial collaborator) and Zidane stomped him. Zidane was suspended for six games I think. Later he announced that his parents or family had never been collaborators. Perhaps he should use his mouth instead of violence.

Why is it that all the racism seems to come from the poor, backwards countries of Europe, the EU problem children? Italy (to an extent), Spain, the Ukraine… (In Northern European nations, including the U.K, France, Holland, Germany, Scandinavia, etc., players are suspended indefinitely and fans are banned for life for chanting or displaying racial epithets, and it’s not a real problem.)

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Dade's bigger, wealthier brother named L.A.

Excerpted from "We're Still Paying for Supe's Mail Bonding" by Steve Lopez 7/6/06 (Brought to you by Joshua M.)

Readers have been asking for an update on my report about Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike ("Conning Neocon") Antonovich and his frequent screwball mailings at taxpayer expense, and I thought now would be as good a time as any to fill you in on the latest.If you missed my June 11 column, Antonovich is fond of putting staffers and clerks to work sending phonebook-size collections of his favorite "news" items to a few hundred friends and colleagues.

Each time Uncle Mike gets the urge to regale pals with his ding-a-ling discoveries, it costs us several thousand dollars in printing and mailing costs, not to mention the much larger manpower tab.The material has included a report that the Russians removed Saddam's WMDs before the U.S. could locate them, a photo caption suggesting that Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa attended a "Marxist" law college, and my personal favorite — a story reporting that there's mathematical proof of God's existence.

Columnist Ann Coulter pops up regularly in the mailings, as do inspirational stories of spiritual healing.The packets also contain bona fide news reports and policy studies, but even so, you have to wonder why anyone would want Antonovich to waste time gathering and sending such items on the county dime when that stuff is available to anyone with a computer or nearby news rack.A reader named Steve Parker got worked into a lather when he read my column and e-mailed Antonovich to demand an explanation.

The supervisor responded in writing, calling my column "way off the wall" and defending his mailed articles as "pro-Israel, anti-terrorist, pro-legal immigration, anti-illegal immigration," saying they included "topics affecting Los Angeles County and the world.""Interesting that those who claim to advocate freedom of expression are really 'thought police' using their political correctness to suppress other points of view that support the State of Israel and the efforts against terrorism," Antonovich continued.

Hmmm, I guess I didn't absorb the import or timeliness of references to the sins of Bill Clinton, the "discovery" of Noah's Ark, how to cure a hiatal hernia, and second- and third-hand e-mailed references to Secret Service allegations that "Yes, Kennedy did have Marilyn Monroe flown in for secret 'dates.' And LBJ really was a typical Texas 'good ole boy' womanizer," but that "Nixon, Bush 41, and Carter never cheated on their wives."If Antonovich finds this sort of thing illuminating or relevant, good for him. But like I said the first time, he ought not be sticking the public with the cost of his collected wisdom.And, as noted previously, that exact cost is difficult to determine, given an executive accounting system that seems almost intentionally set up to obscure the expenses piled up by each supervisor.

In fact, county staffers are under orders to immediately report all requests for billing information, such as mine, to the supervisors. It's a nice little heads-up.As you might recall, I had a scheduled meeting with the supervisor following the first article. I could be wrong, but I was under the impression that Antonovich flack Tony Bell didn't respond when I asked if the meeting was still on.

But even so, you'd think we could simply reschedule, or that Antonovich could answer my questions by phone, right?Apparently not, as I found out after sending this e-mail to Bell:"I'd like to know if your boss … intends to stop the mailings and reimburse the county for the expense, and if not why not?"When I got no answer, I sent another e-mail complaining about the non-response and got this from Bell."No non-response, Steve. You're (sic) were the no-show at the meeting we had scheduled for Monday."The exchanges went on like that until I sent this note to Bell:"I feel like I'm back in sixth grade. You have not answered the two questions, so let me repeat them: Will he stop these mailings at taxpayer expense? And will he reimburse the county for those already sent?"Here was Bell's response:"Asked and answered. Have a nice weekend."

You'd think there'd be a more helpful attitude from an office so obsessed with spiritual deliverance, but such is the legendary arrogance of Supervisor Antonovich.He is the unofficial leader, or county mayor, of a board notorious for its lack of accountability in handling a nearly $20-billion budget, its fat bundles of discretionary funds, its private discussions of public matters, and its farcical photo-op public meetings that run for hours while problems fester in county jails, hospitals and youth services, all too often resulting in death.

For these and other reasons, including several good leads from readers, I'm just going to have to continue sniffing around the county offices in the months to come. Especially since so many irate taxpayers have asked me to keep it up."Is there any way to bring an audit?" asked a reader named Tom, who wisely recommended a proposal requiring each supervisor to keep an accurate account of individual mailings." "When you speak with Antonovich would you ask him to focus more on paving and fixing the roads in Altadena than on sending out the information you described?" asked Jackie. These are all excellent questions, but as noted, Antonovich doesn't seem to be taking my calls. I suggest readers go ahead and give him a try at (213) 974-5555, and don't forget to tell him I said hello.