Archive for December, 2009

A white guy named Barack Hussein Obama

December 22, 2009

In neither the racial nor post-racial eras surrounding the Obama Presidency has the other side of the story, the white side of Obama’s heritage, ever been controversial. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! I’m just saying that somewhere along the way towards America’s supposed reconciliation with its own history of enslaving Africans, it helps to consider how Barack Obama’s other demographics as a white man, interracial man, and even culturally as a Hawiian man, all contribute to his ability to see the evenhandedness of America’s true spirit.

Some read that and immediately think Socialism, but that’s just a Glen Beck knee jerk reaction. When I say even, I mean “smooth”, or “finely blended”, just like an excellent vintage. America is over 230 years old and you’d think we’d have this whole diverse society thing together already. Last report I read has the President’s mom’s side of the family a minority by 2050, so sooner or later we’re all going to have to evolve away from the “hyphenated” self-protectionism in our current cultural mindset.

It’s all about colors and shades in our country. Colors help us define who we are, who we aren’t, who we wish we were, and who we don’t want living in our own neighborhood. America’s original allure to foreigners was, is, and always could be, a refuge from unfairness and discrimination. Fairness and evenness are the same things in my mind.

I have a friend named Julio (and despite the way his name looks, he is not one bit Hispanic or Latino) who once pointed out to me that due to my Hebrew heritage I am not white, I am actually khaki. It makes sense. Julio is Hatian and very dark. If we were two pairs of pants on display at The Gap he’d be a pair of brown corduroys and next to him I’d definitely be khakis.

Throw in another friend of mine named Dave who’s mom is Canadian, from Ontario, and Dave would be the rack of white t-shirts that go really well with either pair of pants. But in many places throughout America, Julio would be watched much more carefully by security than Dave and I while shopping at a clothing store because of color. Really because of the misuse of color. Colors don’t make people do stupid things. People do stupid things with color.

This is why Barack Obama’s personal mixture is so quintessentially American: outwardly and more physically a “black man”, raised by a single white mother and her two old-school white parents, in Hawaii and Indonesia. But go deeper than that and you get to the experiential levels Obama went through as a poor man in New York and Chicago to a rich man in Chicago, and ultimately  the Leader of the Free World. Does anyone really think he has a bias towards anyone? Rich or poor? Black or white? Urban or rural? Muslim or Christian? User or abstainer? Traditional or progressive? The insured or the uninsured? Male or female? And I know he’s tight with the Jews too because he’s got Axe and Rahm at his side.

Racial bias plays no role in my moral life, but since it plays an enormous role in my society I am forced to confront it and deal with it. I do think that America has embraced a post-racial society ideal, but we just don’t know it yet. Another generation will need to die off before we really lose that tactile connection to our hateful heritage. But Barack Obama is a major bookmark in our historical record that we will always be able to point to. And someone we needed right now.

Not just because he is a black man. Because he is all men, women, peoples, economics, privileges, bias, and because yes he is a white dude too.


Ok, I’ll say it: Al Franken for President (one of these days).

December 19, 2009

It’s time to take Al Franken seriously. It is for me anyway.

Al Franken was Stuart Smalley, and today he is the Junior Senator from the state of Minnesota. Although elected in 2008, he wasn’t actually sworn in until July 7, 2009. He was too busy defending his victory over wannabe chad-counter Republican Senator Norm Coleman. The GOP hates Franken so much. They hate how progressive he is. They hate that he’s another Harvard-educated liberal. He was born in ultra-liberal New York City, and raised in “St. Jewish Park” (St. Louis Park), MN. Franken is Harvard-educated (he majored in Political Science), creative, charming, famous, rich, adored by the millions of fans he’s entertained since the 1970s, and he’s Jewish.

He sounds like the GOP’s biggest nightmare.

I always laughed my head off whenever I saw Franken, I mean “Senator Franken”, do his Stuart Smalley routine. I always knew he was smart, and he really caught my attention with Rush Limbaugh Is A Big, Fat, Idiot. He was good enough, smart enough, and gosh darn it-I always liked him. But I didn’t realize he had guts.

And then he kicked lame Joe LIEberman’s butt back to his desk. Watch the 2.5 minute video HERE.

Al Franken told Joe LIEberman to sit down and stop talking about his self-centered, hypocritical viewpoint on healthcare reform as soon as he hit the customary 10-minute limit. He didn’t even give LIEberman a Hanukkah gift of an extra minute or two. I love it.

And get a load of John McCain acting all put off by Senator Al Franken doing what he had every right to do–deny LIEberman any extra time to speak by refusing to honor J-LIE’s request by unanimous consent. John McCain is Mr. Anti-Pork, and he talks about preventing waste, and then he wastes precious time on the tax-payer’s dime talking about procedure and proper behavior in the Senate, and BS like that, instead of talking about fixing healthcare. John McCain is the epitome of Old School, with the emphasis on old.

So Senator Al Franken has the brains, the guts, the politics, the money, the charisma, and the first real legitimate shot to be the first. Jewish. President. Ever. That’s my opinion. Would he be in the Democratic Party, or will he christen the Progressive Party? Will Obama give Franken Joe Biden’s Vice Presidency to re-capture the progressive wing of his base and win reelection, thereby allowing Al to gain incredible perspective and experience as the apprentice to the most powerful job in the free world?

From there anything is possible.

The Recession Is Ending-Could 11,000 People Possibly Be Wrong?

December 7, 2009

Only in America can a party breakout over 11,000 people losing their jobs.

Last week, revised employment figures came out showing that ONLY 11,000 people became newly-unemployed in November. This is what passes for good news these days. I apologize for my cynicism, but that’s 11,000 people who have been thrust into a really bad situation, most likely through no fault of their own.

I know logically that this is far better than what was expected, and perhaps it does signal that the worst is over and the tide is turning. But for now it still remains 11,000 more people who have to figure out what they are going to do to keep from being homeless, hungry, and hopeless. I know this feeling because I was unemployed earlier this year for (mercifully) 3 months. Anyone who has ever been laid off knows the feeling of desperation and loss, but being unemployed in this economy is downright horrifying. Back in the good old days if you lost your job perhaps you could sell your home and buy some time by living off of the profits, or you got a decent severance package, or there was a market to find more work–even at a lower wage. Not these days.

So while many politicians are hailing the new employment figures-which include the statistic that the unemployment rate “improved” to 10%-I don’t see this as a time to smile or even feel hopeful. Here’s my theory: the reason why ONLY 11,000 lost their jobs in November 2009 is because there’s almost nobody left to lay-off. Think about it; most remaining workers are doing the jobs of 2 or 3 other people, or enough businesses have gone under, so that there is nobody left to cut anymore. Somebody has to turn on the lights and make the widgets and send out the invoices and pay the vendors. Life goes on, but for many people it goes on way past the 40-hour work week without a raise or overtime. Hey, it beats unemployment.

Naturally Wall Street reacted well to the news, and by last count the DOW is over 10,300. So all is right with the world, and the bankers can give themselves millions of dollars in bonuses because things are heading in the right direction again (PLEASE READ THAT LAST SENTENCE WITH HEAPING AMOUNTS OF SARCASM). And yes, 11,000 people losing their jobs is way better than 111,000 people losing their jobs.

But until we are putting 11,000 people BACK to work, better keep that cork in the champagne bottle. This is no time to celebrate anything.

“Obama Admits He’s A Muslim” and the Crowd Goes Nuts

December 4, 2009

And on the eighth day God created

It’s a good thing she did too, because the people at Fact Check (a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center) are doing exceptional work. Today they uncovered a really diabolical and lame YouTube video entitled “Obama Admits He’s A Muslim”. Brought to you by a group called “Feel The Change Media”, this video has received over 1,000,000 YouTube hits since being posted in August, 2009. I can feel the change alright; Fact Check has revealed that the video is edited to show President Obama making statements that seem to prove that he is actually a Muslim, rather than a Christian. I was a post-production producer for eight years, and I can tell you that this is some of the most creative video editing I have ever seen.

I refer to the video as “diabolical” NOT because of the idea that the President could possibly be a Muslim, but because ever since 9-11 Muslims have been demonized in America. And during the 2008 campaign, accusations of Barack Obama being a Muslim were used to scare the ultra-right wing voters. As if being a Muslim means you are anti-American, or a terrorist, or you are unworthy, or some racist nonsense like that.

Come on America, can we please get a grip here? Will we ever be able to separate the person from the politics? We’re almost a full decade into the 21st century and we are still collectively acting like a bunch of drunken, ignorant fools at a KKK rally. “Obama the Muslim” should be as benign a notion as “Palin the Alaskan” or “W the Cowboy” or “Cheney the Prince of Darkness.” Well, scratch that last one…

“Post Racial Society”? Not the USA. No, the “Great Melting Pot” always manages to congeal into ignorant clumps of racism and hatred. It amazes me how important it is for the conspiracy nuts in this country to expose President Obama as a Muslim when there is not a single exception for any religion in the Constitution which would make someone ineligible to be President. Quite the contrary, it allows for total freedom of religious beliefs. That’s what makes this video so sad.

It wouldn’t matter if Barack Hussein Obama were a Muslim, Jew, Jehovah’s Witness, Atheist, Buddhist, Humanist, or if he were even Santa Claus himself–the people who hate him would still hate him because of his policies. But since those folks tend to be too stupid to properly articulate why they disagree with his policies they head towards the lowest common denominator (or lowest common uniter in this case). It’s amazing that this country got past the fact that he’s African-American enough to elect him. I guess being Muslim is the new black when it comes to racism.

I went to the web site for Feel The Change Media, and they have some other cute links there such as “Anti-Obama Shirts” and “Michelle Obama’s Bio.” So as you can see, they’re really feeling the change over there. And it feels like Antebellum.

If This War Was Mine

December 3, 2009

The other night I sadly watched my President deliver his Afghanistan speech on TV at West Point. It was probably one of the lowest points in his entire career. Here is a man who has just won the Nobel Peace Prize, telling the world he is going to escalate a war. This is Barack Obama’s “Sophie’s Choice”: ramp up the war and become the next LBJ, or bring home the troops and join the ranks of world leaders who have been defeated in Afghanistan throughout history.

This is a lose-lose proposition no matter what. At the end of the day we are still at war. But I knew Obama was gonna catch heat from all sides no matter what he decided to do, and that’s what is already happening: the left is mad because we’re sending in more troops, and the right is mad because we’re talking about time-tables.

The reality is that Obama is doing EXACTLY what he said he was going to do in the 2008 campaign–pulling out of Iraq (a “war of choice”), and getting serious in Afghanistan (a “war of necessity”). I think that W/Cheney took their eyes off the ball in Afghanistan when we foolishly invaded Iraq, and now we need to do what should have been done years ago. However, it’s now really too late to do “what we should have done” because after eight years of neglect, our real enemies in Afghanistan–the Taliban and Al Qaeda–are probably in Pakistan, doing everything possible to overthrow the government there to get their hands on the Pakistani nukes. That’s what scares me.

I’ve said all along that after 9/11 the US military should have surrounded two countries–Afghanistan (don’t let anyone out) and America (don’t let anyone in). Defense is the best offense in this situation, because I don’t believe we can go overseas and stop terrorists and jihadists where they live and breathe and where they have a cultural connection to the people there.

If this war was mine here’s what I would do:

1. Pull out of Afghanistan and Iraq TODAY. Tell the world that we can no longer do this on our own, and that we need to focus on nation building back home in the USA, which has been devastated economically by the last eight years of endlessly fighting two wars.

2. Take our military and monetary resources and beef up our own borders, immigration services, CIA/FBI intelligence gathering, domestic anti-terrorism forces, and guard our turf locally. I am tired of the argument that we need to go where the terrorists are plotting against us to disrupt their plans. Bullship (I promised my mom I wouldn’t curse in this blog anymore)! Let them plot and plan all they want from thousands of miles away. If they can’t carry out their plots on American soil because we stopped them from getting in, then we will be much safer than ever before. Remember, 9/11 was successful because the terrorists were already here for a long time freely plotting their mission.

3. Commit every remaining dollar and personnel to recovering and securing loose nuclear weapons and materials around the world. This also means somehow working with the Pakistani government to make sure they help us. If this means financial aid then let’s cut them a check. If it means diplomatic support, then let’s give Pakistan the biggest hug we can. Keep our friends close and our enemies closer. We need to lead the world in non-violence and diplomatic solutions to gain back respect and end anti-American hatred around the world. We need Pakistan to be concerned about terrorists overthrowing their own government and keeping their nuclear weapons secure. If the terrorists can’t get them, and if they can’t get inside America, then we have nothing to fear.

4. Once and for all we need a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I am a Jew with Israeli relatives, and even I believe that the Palestinians need their own country. I believe that this issue is at the heart of what caused 9/11. Islamic Jihadist groups hate America for allowing Israel to continue shutting out the Palestinians and denying them their own homeland. I can’t say i blame them. Many Israeli’s are sick of the conflict and the effect it has had on their lives as well. Peace in the Middle East means peace–period.

Maybe I am simplifying things, but this is what I wish we could do. I know it’s neither politically nor practically possible, but it makes more sense to me than what Obama may have ultimately been forced to do.