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April 7, 2007, 10:30 P.M.

I never played basketball as a kid, in fact I never really liked the game. In high school I wrestled and pretty much stayed away from the basketball games except to watch my friends play once in a while.

While attending Rutgers (where I met Dianne) I began listening to Nets games on my way home in the evenings and actually started watching the ends of the games on T.V. when I got home. It didn’t take long for me to become a fan.

When I got to law school I met a lot of Celtics fans. Between 1984 and 1987 it was easy to be a Celtics fan. I have watched some great basketball since my epiphany about the game, and as the pro game got less like basketball and more like Hollywood I began to appreciate the college game, especially the women’s game, as being the pure form of basketball.

Since I mentioned that I went to Rutgers you probably figured out where this is going. Two things bothered me about the treatment of those wonderful athletes from my old school. The first was the completely biased coverage by the commentators who covered the game for T.V. and the second was the way they were treated by Imus and his posse of sycophants.

The coverage of the game was lousy. Sure there was a little lip service given to what that extraordinary group of young women had done to get to the finals, but once the game started it seemed like the Scarlet Knights could not get a break either on the court or on the air. Of course this admittedly biased assessment, and in fact this pattern of disrespect, pales in comparison to what Imus and his cronies said.

I used to listen to Don Imus on WNBC radio in New York during the 1970’s. Back then he was a real disc jockey, he was funny, and he was a little ahead of his time with his humor and commentary. In his recent emergence as an iconic media symbol he has just become old, mean, and bitter. I might say self centered but that’s nothing new. I should also say that for all of his off color humor and shock jock rhetoric, I don’t believe him to be a racist and I certainly don’t think he is stupid. I just think what he said, and what his cohorts said was vile, rude, stupid, disrespectful, deplorable even, and completely in keeping with the trash which people seem to consider humor these days.

The fact that Don Imus referred to those young women as “nappy-headed ho’s”, and that his drooling moron of an “executive producer” Bernard McGuirk described the game as being between “the jigaboos verses the wannabees” is not surprising given their propensity toward that type of humor generally. Neither is the standard defense that the remarks were intended as humor, meant to be in keeping with their pattern of being an equal opportunity abuser. This went way too far.

Humor is a powerful force. When it is used to diminish, insult, belittle, demean or oppress it is like a deadly weapon. The misuse of this power is Imus’ crime here. Imus doesn’t need therapy or treatment, banishment or demotion, he needs to engage his brain before he speaks and he needs to go out and meet those women, maybe buy them dinner, and he needs to hear their stories of hope and sacrifice and he needs to hear them tell him just how big of an ass he really is. Seems to me if he is going to refer to them as Ho’s, he should at least hear their response face to face. He should also need to be prepared for a good poke in the nose from some legitimately pissed off daddys’, boyfriends, husbands and brothers (Not to mention mothers and sisters) because if one of those talented, hard working young women was my daughter, he might just get one.

From his Park Avenue penthouse or Arizona ranch his gilded apology means nothing. It simply gives him cover to continue to continue to behave as he wishes, and to make a lot of money doing it while feeding the misguided delusional minds of the true bigots who listen to his show. It seems to me that with power comes responsibility, and at some point accountability. I’ll bet that he is done with all of this, ready to move on, quite bored with those of us who think he should be accountable for his remarks.

But Imus needs to be accountable to the people he hurt, personally, and he needs to do it in a very public and humbling way. If he doesn’t he is a coward and a small man using the excuse that “it was only a joke” to hide behind. I’ll bet it doesn’t happen.

April 4, 2007, 8:00 A.M.

A letter from Brian:

Dear Ed,

I appreciate the regularity with which you and Dianne have been updating the blog. I continue to enjoy it.

My offering today is to take note of the tectonic shift in power relations between America and the rest of the world, most recently playing itself out in the recent Arab Summit.

Although lamentably – and predictably – the Arab Summit which concluded in Riyadh on March 30 received a paucity of media attention here in the states, it seems that the Arab states are beginning to perceive themselves differently. It strikes me that this development is not only being noticed in Washington and Tel Aviv, but it’s being noticed with concern. (This explains at least part of the reason for the lack of reportage in our media.)

The Arab Summit doesn’t appear to have been the usual flourish of bluster to which we’ve become accustomed. Because not only are changes evident in diplomatic circles, they are also evident on the ground.

First, the Saudi crown, traditionally a very close friend of – if not a surrogate for – the United States , spoke out unequivocally against American policy in Iraq . King Abdullah described the presence of foreign troops in Iraq as an “illegitimate occupation.” For a Saudi monarch to have made such a pronouncement even two years ago would have been unthinkable.

Second, Washington and Tel Aviv are finding themselves needing to deal with the Palestine question after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described the Arab proposals as “the basis” for a Middle East peace process. In other words, President Bush and his “road map” seem to be taking an ignominious back seat.

The Saudi plan calls for three things: (1) a land-for-peace deal wherein Arab states would formally recognize Israel and Israel would withdraw to its pre-1967 borders; (2) a yet-undefined “just solution” for Palestinian refugees; and (3) a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

By all appearances Washington is on the defensive, with Secretary of State Rice evidently trying to negotiate some way into the new landscape so as to save face not only for her boss’s legacy but her own as well. I read in the press this morning (March 31) that German Chancellor/EU President Merkel is on her way to the Mideast to hold talks with Jordan’s King Abdullah and then with Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and Palestinian President Abbas. Thus the EU may perceive an opportunity that apparently didn’t exist before. That Israeli PM Olmert is agreeing to the talks in the first place – in the wake of the Arab Summit, mind you – shows that Israel perceives itself as weakened.

Third and although not directly related to the Summit but increasingly evident nonetheless, is the petrodollar’s loosening of its stranglehold over Mideast oil resources. I noted in the Gulf Times (Dubai) this week that the CEO of the Dubai International Financial Centre [sic] said on March 25 that, according to the report, “more Gulf economies will move away from a dollar currency peg and shift foreign exchange reserves away from dollar to other currencies, including the Chinese yuan.”

The article went on to relate that the UAE central bank has adopted a policy to hold at least 10 percent of its reserves in euros. The same is apparently so for Kuwait , which has the region’s third-largest economy. Link Although the other states of the region have indicated their willingness to stay wedded to the dollar peg (with the exception of Iran which is openly hostile to it), one wonders how long the marriage will last.

Because the US Federal Reserve is inflating, or as it says, “monetizing” its way out of the $500 billion debt for the Iraq war (see my previous post in your blog), the greenback has hit the skids against every major world currency as well as gold. Eventually countries holding petrodollars -- and Saudi Arabia holds a ton due to the increase in the price of oil since 2001 – will decide that the interest Uncle Sam pays on his Treasury securities is an ill-bargain because the interest payments are being more than eaten away by inflation. Who wants money that’s losing its value?

The Arab League has apparently become cognizant of Washington ’s big dilemma: either the US will continue on the militant path it has followed since Bush became President or it must abdicate its position as the world’s New Rome. The Arab League – and apparently the EU for that matter – seems to be betting in favor of Washington ’s abdication. Bush, however, with his threatened veto of the supplemental budget, seems to be leaning in the other direction.

Regards,

Brian


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