I'm back a few days earlier than I expected. My break from the blogosphere has been a good one and I have lots of thoughts on the happenings of the last two weeks. Surely if you listen closely you can hear the legions of Capitol staff, lobbyists, and legislators waiting with bated breath for what will come in the near future. Patience, my children. In the meantime, Ragnar Mentaire has singlehandedly shredded most all of you over the holidays, and I mean that. When you whack everyone from Jim Doyle to Michael Serpe in two weeks, you've pretty much covered the whole spectrum. By the way Ragnar, the only thing I love more than your truthful and bile-filled invective is your crafty use of visual stimulus. Those graphics are fantastic. Keep 'em coming.
Oh, but I digress. The real reason I write is to comment on the beating of Samuel McClain and to offer praise to one of our own, a woman who posts under the pseudonym "Jessica McBride." What? That's her real name? Sure, and Dennis York is a cop in Lawrenceville, Illinois, and I really supervise a friggin' playground for a living. Although maybe I should, apparently the pay isn't too bad.
As I have been away for two weeks and have no desire to do catch up posts, the audience has suggested "stream-of-consciousness" as today's narration style. I'll try to remember to bracket the voice next to the voice in my head that writes this blog.
Sometimes I think the fair Jessica spends a little too much time talking about her husband's AG race [it's all lost on me, I'm voting for our next governor, Kathy Falk], but her post on the Samuel McClain beating is why you should read her blog. It'd be worth reading 100 posts on Xanga to get to read something so observant and intelligent and well-written [death to Xanga].
You're a journalist, Jessica, I suppose we should expect this caliber of work from people like you. [But your old colleagues never write like this.] Anyway, Jessica's post on the McClain incident is now the official position of the Playground. Read it here. [In honor of BCS week, we'll just say that it's the "Playground Politics Heisted Take of the Week, Presented by Jessica McBride."]
The response to the McClain beating has been entirely predictable and entirely disappointing. On the one hand, we have the liberal apologists telling us that this is all society's fault - that the people responsible for this heinous crime are just antagonists in the play of life, acting their role, unable to change the outcome. On the other hand, we have the Boots and Sabers crowd, who are ready to throw on the white sheets, strap on their concealed weapons, and hop on their horses to take care of this once and for all. Ask any kneejerk conservative: the obvious and speedy solution to the permanent underclass is more cops, vigilante justice, the death penalty, and charter schools. Hell, I'm sure Tom Reynolds has that one in drafting right now. Nothing quite rings in the new year like the deafening sound of white, middle class backslapping and self-congratulation as suburban and exurban Milwaukee has once again blogged a solution to a problem it knows nothing about. [By the way, Waukesha County, if you put the four dollars you're going to save with the repeal of gas tax indexing together with the two bucks Dan Vrakas saved you on your property tax bill, the Little Caesar's large pepperoni pizza carryout deal is almost within your reach. Damn that insidious sales tax!]
[Who else thinks Jenifer Finley got pissed off and quit because she actually thought she was county executive all those years her husband was in office?]
Would better parenting solve a lot of the problems in the inner city? Of course. Problem is, if life was a game of no hold 'em, some of these kids are playing 2-7 off suit - no father, mom is either absent or dead. Tell me how far "better parenting" is going to get you in that case. Even worse, these kids don't get to fold and hope for a better hand next time. There is no next time. You get one hand and you're all in. And if you're a black male in the inner city, you better hope that the flop is good or you're screwed.
[Poker analogy courtesy of the 40 hours of World Series of Poker I've watched in the last two weeks on ESPN - the Entertainment and SportsCenter Programming Network. Note I didn't say "sports." ESPN doesn't show sports anymore, just poker, spelling bee, SportsCenter, and original, sports-based drama.]
What can you, my loyal reader, do? Well, you can read Eugene Kane's column from Thursday and think about it a little. [OMG OMG OMG OMG did you really just say that? Sorry, those Xanga blogs are insidious.] Kane is absolutely right to remind us that good things are happening in what we might otherwise reflexively think is a place where only bad things happen. And if you've got some money or some time [odds are if you're reading my blog that you have both in relative abundance], maybe you should think about helping a community organization like the Boys & Girls Club that provides at-risk kids with a positive influence in their lives. Instead of pointing out the problem, be part of the solution. What happened to Samuel McClain isn't a sign that we need these organizations less. It's a sign that we need them even more.
You can donate online to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee by clicking here. You can even earmark your donation for the Daniels-Mardak branch, which is just a block away from where McClain was beaten. Perhaps your name will be next to mine on the donor list: first name Recess, last name Supervisor.
It might not take a village to raise a child if the kid has two loving parents at home. It might, however, take a whole nation to fix what's gone wrong in America's cities.
Happy New Year everyone. It's been a long December, and there's reason to believe maybe this year will be better than the last.