The Gray Pages

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Enough about Farakhan.

This was enough for me.


I am member of the Unity Church of Christ, Trinity United Church of Christ, been there for 20 years. And although this is an improvement because you don't think I am Muslim, which is the other... [laughter] You know, so, slowly we are progressing here. It is a very conventional African American church. If you go to, if you were there at the church, you would be hearing gospel music and people preaching about Jesus. It is very conventional in that sense.

It is true that my pastor, Jeremiah Wright, who will be retiring this month, is somebody who on occasion can say controversial things. Most of them, by the way, are controversial directed at the African American community and calling on them [to] start reading books and turn off the TV set and engage in self-help. And he is very active in prison ministries and so forth. It is also true that he comes out of the '60s -- he is an older man. That is where he cut his teeth. That he has historically been interested in the African roots of the African American experience.

He was very active in the South Africa divestment movement, and you will recall that there was a tension that arose between the African American and the Jewish communities during that period when we were dealing with apartheid in South Africa, because Israel and South Africa had a relationship at that time. And that cause -- that was a source of tension. So there have been a couple of occasions where he made comments with relation, rooted in that. Not necessarily ones that I share. But that is the context within which he has made those comments.

He does not have a close relationship with Louis Farrakhan. Louis Farrakhan is a resident of Chicago, and as a consequence he has been active in a range of community activities, particularly around ex-offenders and dealing with them. I have been a consistent, before I go any further, a consistent denunciator of Louis Farrakhan, nobody challenges that. And what is true is that, recently this is probably, I guess last year. An award was given to Farrakhan for his work on behalf of ex-offenders completely unrelated to his controversial statements. And I believe that was a mistake and showed a lack of sensitivity to the Jewish community, and I said so. But I have never heard an anti-Semitic [remark] made inside of our church. I have never heard anything that would suggest anti-Semitism on part of the pastor.

He is like an old uncle who sometimes will say things that I don't agree with. And I suspect there are some of the people in this room who have heard relatives say some things that they don't agree with. Including, on occasion, directed at African Americans that maybe a possibility that's just -- I am not suggesting that's definitive. So the point I make is this, that I understand the concerns and the sensitivities, and one of my goals constantly in my public career has been to try to bridge what was a historically powerful bond between the African American and Jewish communities that has been frayed in recent years. For a whole variety of reasons. I think that I have served as an effective bridge, and that's the reason I have overwhelming support among the Jewish community that knows me best, which is the Jewish community in Chicago . And I think that anybody who has friends among the Jewish community in Chicago should check out those credentials.

But I do appreciate the opportunity to clarify those concerns. And as I said, that last point I would make is that you know my pastor is going to be retiring over the next month. So my general view, and the reason that I raise this, this is always a sensitive point, what you don't want to do is distance yourself or kick somebody away, because you are now running for president and you are worried about perceptions, particularly when someone is basically winding down their life and their career.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Hal McCoy:
It was in the 1980s after Clemens, pitching for Boston, struck out 20 Seattle Mariners. My paper sent me to Boston to do a piece on Clemens, who, after all, was born in Dayton ... He told me to meet him in the dugout before he did his daily run around the park. The interview lasted 12 minutes and was conducted while he laced on his shoes.

And the only thing to come out of the interview worth anything was Clemens’ quote about his hometown: “The best thing about Dayton was seeing it in the rear-view mirror.”

Best Picture Winners: Seen and Unseen

Apologies for the stupid format of this list -- it took me a little while to find a cut-and-paste-able list that listed only the winners.

Here are the ones I've seen:

Oscar Winners for Best Picture: 2000 - The Present
78th Annual Academy Awards - Crash
77th Annual Academy Awards - Million Dollar Baby
75th Annual Academy Awards - Chicago
73rd Annual Academy Awards - Gladiator
72nd Annual Academy Awards - American Beauty

Oscar Winners for Best Picture: 1990 - 1999
71st Annual Academy Awards - Shakespeare in Love
70th Annual Academy Awards - Titanic
68th Annual Academy Awards - Braveheart
67th Annual Academy Awards - Forrest Gump
66th Annual Academy Awards - Schindler's List
65th Annual Academy Awards - Unforgiven
63rd Annual Academy Awards - Dances With Wolves

Oscar Winners for Best Picture: 1980 - 1989
61st Annual Academy Awards - Rain Man
60th Annual Academy Awards - The Last Emperor
57th Annual Academy Awards - Amadeus*
55th Annual Academy Awards - Gandhi*
54th Annual Academy Awards - Chariots of Fire*

* I was really young, and these movies made no impression on me whatsoever. Well, other than a vague memory of Gandhi getting shot and the theme song to "Chariots," which -- along with "Music Box Dancer" -- was my favorite song when I was, like, 5. Sue me.

Oscar Winners for Best Picture: 1970 - 1979
50th Annual Academy Awards - Annie Hall
47th Annual Academy Awards - The Godfather, Part II
46th Annual Academy Awards - The Sting
45th Annual Academy Awards - The Godfather
43rd Annual Academy Awards - Patton

Oscar Winners for Best Picture: 1960 - 1969
41st Annual Academy Awards - Oliver!
40th Annual Academy Awards - In the Heat of the Night
38th Annual Academy Awards - The Sound of Music
34th Annual Academy Awards - West Side Story

Oscar Winners for Best Picture: 1950 - 1959
30th Annual Academy Awards - The Bridge on the River Kwai
27th Annual Academy Awards - On the Waterfront

What does this mean? Here are some of the movies that I've never seen, causing you to say, "Wait! You've never seen [blank]?! How is that even possible?"

A Beautiful Mind, The English Patient, The Silence of the Lambs, Driving Miss Daisy, Platoon, The Deer Hunter, Rocky, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Lawrence of Arabia, Ben-Hur, From Here to Eternity, All the King's Men, Casablanca, and Gone with the Wind.

Monday, February 25, 2008

G-d Bless You, Henry Waxman

My fellow Americans: as a young boy, I dreamed of being a baseball. But tonight I say, we must move forward, not backward, upward, not forward. And always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom! -- Kodos

You know, my bitterness about baseball-related things has receded to a remarkable degree since 2004. (For those of you who doubt this, you may be surprised to hear I used to keep a lot of that bitterness to myself.) And so, you might think that I'd be ready to forgive and forget Roger Clemens for generally being a douchebag who could never beat Dave Stewart or win any other big games while with the Sox. But you'd be wrong.

Headlines like this one are good for my heart.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


The Globe reports that illegal immigrants are probably paying federal income taxes more than ever. Why?

"While typical American taxpayers are wary of the Internal Revenue Service, illegal immigrants see the IRS as a friendly agency that could help in their quest for legal residency."

Thursday, February 14, 2008

10 percent

How I voted.

And, yes, watching Roger Clemens's public humiliation is the best end to his career I can imagine other than 38,000 at Fenway pelting him with Marge Simpson's pretzels.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

DC Grays: Endorsing the separation of church from me since 1975

Posted without comment.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Plan B

I was going to make a post mocking the NJ Giants for holding their victory parade 100 miles away in downtown Manhattan, but it turns out East Rutherford is actually pretty close to NYC. So, never mind. (It looks to me like East Rutherford is closer to NYC than Foxborough is to Boston.) (Incidentally, I think football stadiums should be in the suburbs, since they're only used a handful of days each year and would never support auxiliary businesses like bars and restaurants. Commuter parking? Yes. The Cask n' Flagon? For eight home games a year, ten if you're good? No. Urban land should benefit residents. But I digress.)

But can anyone figure out what was actually taking place at the Meadowlands when this satellite photo was taken? I mean, it's lined for soccer, I get that. But why were they letting so many people onto the field? And why are the stands empty?

Monday, February 04, 2008

What lying about a war looks like in graph form

The view from the bandwagon

Me: Todd Light is getting killed out there. He's just playing awful.
Stu: Matt Light.
Me: Who?
Stu: Matt Light. His name is Matt Light.
Me: Oh. Who's Todd Light, then?
Stu: I don't know.

And yet, I have to admit I'm pretty disappointed today.