Return of the scold

A faithful reader stopped me on the street the other day and said: "You are the neighborhood and national scold, and you haven't written about what's rotten in the state of the Uniteds, or even Seattle, for quite awhile."

And it's true, I have to admit. Except for glancing blows, I haven't gone after America's worst president to serve in my lifetime, his shoot-first, ask-questions-later fascist vice president or our corpulent mayor for quite awhile. Sorry.

It's not as if things haven't continued going to hell in a handbasket while I wrote about aging, favorite places and my not-so-recent past.

So, in honor of Jean Godden, Seattle's Most Popular (former) Bad Columnist, here are a few briefs, assured to make you wonder.

FIRST, THE SHAME of our national healthcare situation, what with one in six Americans not even having health insurance, while others have six opinions before corn removals, is starting to show up statistically. This once-greatest country in the world is now 42nd in life expectancy. Talk to me about superpowerdom and Hummers all you will, folks born in Canada, the U.K., Sweden, France, Australia, Japan and even Jordan, that oasis for Iraqis fleeing our war in their country, all can expect to live longer than we will on average.

Experts point out that all of the countries mentioned, doing better and living longer than us, plus Denmark, Norway, Germany and Holland, have some form of universal health care instead of our "take two aspirin and be homeless in the morning" approach. Compassionate conservatism is a crock, unless as a virtue you count billionaires feeling compassion for millionaires.

Experts also noted that we lazy Americans are fatter than 95 percent of the countries where people live longer on average. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, a full (formed) 30 percent of Americans are now obese, while another 30 percent qualify as overweight.

AS THE FATHER of black and beige children, I always looked upon rap music, especially the gangsta variety, as a pernicious cultural wasteland, almost as inane as Barry Manilow, almost as boring as Lawrence Welk and twice as violent as either of them.

Horrifying statistics, I believe, bear me out. Black folks now make up 13 percent of America's population. May of them have become famous since equality became a given, at least on the surface of our culture. More than 70 percent of black Americans now live at the lower-middle-class level or above. But there are problems remaining that can't solely be based on America's shameful history vis-à-vis African-Americans. The statistic that jumped out at me was that 49 percent of America's murder victims in 2005 were black. Thirteen percent of the folks in our nation provide half the murder victims, and more than half of the violence-laden, poorly rhymed crap that passes for music without the c (rap).

And 93 percent of these black people were not killed by racist whites or rogue police officers. They were snuffed by other blacks. A majority of the victims were between 17 and 29. This is a cultural shame that African-Americans, not whites primarily, must quit denying, or blaming on others, and solve. What people outside the African-American community can do to help includes better public education in ghetto areas, and a revival of summer jobs programs for poorer, disadvantaged and forgotten children. But glorifying thugs who "sing" about killing each other, treating their women like slaves and a demented "respect," can be pointed out as a big factor in the disproportionate slaughter of young blacks by other young blacks. Racism is real in this country and is a prime cause of a lot of things. But it's way too late to ignore these murderous stats on black-on-black crime, or to blame the carnage of Bull Connor or Ross Barnett. These kids and young folks who are dying needlessly, day after day for the past three decades, deserve better.

SPEAKING OF unnecessary waste, I enjoyed - perversely, because it totally supports my contention that Bush and Cheney, et al., are war criminals, not patriots - the Pentagon confessing after a GAO investigation that they "lost" 190,000 weapons supposedly going to "liberty" forces in Iraq. Of these, 110,000 were AK 47s - the Russian weapon every Vietnam vet preferred over the M-16 - and 80,000 pistols.

Freedom to make money, dirty as you want it to be, is the only true freedom the Bush regime has expanded. Ask arms dealers anywhere. Or give Cheney some truth serum and ask the "former" Halliburton executive.

LOCALLY, there isn't much new. Sonics are gonna leave, good riddance, and the mayor's 26-year-old son is back home and working at a Starbuck's while he awaits trial for his part in the largest scamming of casinos in the history of Northwest crime. Maybe Paul Allen can get the Little Nickels on somewhere with Vulcan. Compassionate Billionaire Conservatism at work.

Here's hoping for justice, while not expecting it in this case. 'Cause, as they said in the ghetto in Cincinnati when I was visitin' almost 40 years ago, "Money talks and bulls--t walks." If he was alive, you could ask Richard Nixon. But you can still call O.J. If you got the green, you won't leave the scene (even of the crime).

Until next week, stay healthy. You can't afford to be sick in America.

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