Thursday, May 17, 2007

Yolanda King RIP + Comey Testimony: High Crimes? + Illinois "Most Average" State

Ah, so now Blogger has an autosave feature again. This is one of the best things they've devised since they revamped Blogger Beta, which I guess is now Blogger (Google). Thank you, Blogger.


I was sorry to hear that Martin Luther King Jr.'s and Coretta Scott King's oldest daughter, Yolanda, suddenly passed away on Tuesday. I had always wanted to see her perform one of her theater pieces, and I can recall the period some years ago when she and Malcolm X's daughter, Atallah Shabazz, were traveling the country striving to pass on the best aspects of legacies of their parents. She had also acted in films during the late 1970s and 1980s.

One of the shocking things to me about her death was how young she was: 51. She was only 12 when her father died, and a few years later, she lost her uncle, and then her grandmother to a deranged man's bullet. So much tragedy. And now, as she was trying to do a great deal of good, she's gone. She was perhaps the most exemplary representative among her siblings of her late father's and mother's aims and achievements.


If you have not watched Tuesday's explosive Senate testimony by former Acting Attorney General James Comey, you must. The transcripts hardly do it justice. What he details is a scenario so bizarre and disturbing that you would think it would have prompted far more high-level Democrats, and even a few Republicans, to begin calling publicly for impeachment. As it is, several of the major mainstream media organs have begun a bit of huffing, with Bush enabler and Washington Post editor Fred Hiatt unironically expressing shock at the previous lack of coverage of the Bush gang's thuggery (calling the wife of the ill Attorney General, and ordering his goons over to the man's hospital room!) and likely crimes, even though the Post more than once has rolled over and played dead for this administration when it wasn't tongue-polishing its (jack)boots.

Dear Mr. Hiatt, have you forgotten your undying enthusiasm for this easily worst administration in the history of the United States?

Nevertheless, you have to wonder, when you have the extremely right-wing Attorney General, the Acting Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General Jack Goldsmith, the director of the FBI Robert Mueller, and other high level officials, Republicans and conservatives all of them, so unnerved they're threatening to resign en masse, something grave was obviously going on. John Ashcroft wouldn't even go along with it, not even on his sickbed!

On top of which, Comey felt the need to ask the FBI Director order his agents not to allow Andrew Card or Alberto Gonzales to throw Comey out of the room, and when Comey went to meet with Card in his White House office, Comey felt so worried that he requested that the Solicitor General of the United States, right-winger Ted Olson, accompany him lest he be alone, witnessless, with Card. Let me state again: we are talking about the Acting Attorney General of the United States and the President's Chief of Staff. The question remains: from October 2001 until March 2004, what on earth was the Bush administration up to with its warrantless wiretapping that it could not follow FISA rules? What had Ashcroft been signing off on that he now realized was grave enough that he could no longer certify it and which Comey absolutely refused to certify? It's clear why Gonzales misled Congress last year to prevent Comey and Ashcroft from testifying, so now the Senate really ought to call in Ashcroft and Mrs. Ashcroft, Mueller, Goldsmith, and anyone else directly involved in these shenanigans, even if it requires a closed-door session, because they must find out exactly what was going on, and act on their findings.

Today, W refused to answer questions reporters asked about Comey's testimony. He was busy acknowledging that his disaster of a war might have brought his pet hamster Tony Blair's popularity down to the single digits, ending his prime ministership. (Or perhaps concerns about the imminent, ignominious departure of the vulpine Paul Wolfowitz were hovering in there among the dust clouds.) Yesterday Tony Snow made light of the testimony. Subpoenas and the threat of impeachment might break the levity, you think?


Okay, here's a question: which state is the best bellwether, in terms of its status as being the "average" US state? By which I mean, which state's various population, economic attributes, social indicators, and so on, make it the "average" US state?

Take a few guesses.

It's in the "Heartland."

It contains one of the nation's largest metropolitan areas, but also a vast region of small towns and rural areas.

You've got it: Illinois. The nation's sixth largest state is also its most "average," according to a new survey by the Associate Press.

The AP ranked each state on how closely it matched national levels on 21 demographic factors, including race, age, income, education, industrial mix, immigration and the share of people living in urban and rural areas. The rankings were then combined to determine the state that best mirrors the country as a whole.

Illinois was followed by Oregon, Michigan, Washington and Delaware.

West Virginia was the least typical state — poorer, whiter, more rural — followed by Mississippi, New Hampshire, Vermont and Kentucky.

Iowa ranked 41st, meaning just nine states and the District of Columbia look less like the country as a whole. South Carolina, which also has an early primary, ranked 24th.

America is becoming more diverse, with minorities topping 100 million for the first time in 2006, according to Census Bureau figures being released today. About one in three Americans was a minority last year, a slight increase.

In 2006, the nation was 67.6 percent white, non-Hispanic; 15 percent Hispanic; 13.4 percent black; 5 percent Asian; 1.5 percent American Indian or native Alaskan; and 0.3 percent Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander. The percentages add up to more than 100 in part because some people identify with more than one race and Hispanics can be of any race.

Illinois’ racial composition matches the nation’s better than any other state. Education levels are similar, as is the mix of industry and the percentage of immigrants. Incomes in Illinois are a little higher and the state is more urban the rest of the nation. But the age of the population is very close to the country’s mix of minors, seniors and those 18 to 64.

Something tells me New Jersey was probably in the top 15, though it is the richest state (or one of the richest) alongside Connecticut, is almost completely urban, and has more people of color per capita than most of the rest of the US.

But back to the Illini: I guess that means Illinois's primary should be near the front, no? Because who would that help...


Now, that's about an hour's worth of typing and quick corrections. I'll stop here, though I have countless other things I want to post (about). Back to the endless mass of work-related reading....

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