Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Seven whole days
Barack Obama is President.
Barack Obama is President.
I'm sorry, but I'm having a tough time wrapping my head around this new reality. Hearing news anchors lead off pieces at the top of the hour with the phrase "President Obama" as standard media protocol still brings a goofy grin to my face. Scrolling through the presidential slideshow on the White House web site brought me to tears. It still feels like a dream and I haven't woken up yet.
A man named Barack Obama won. A black man from an urban metropolis who didn't go goosehunting to prove his manhood. A solid liberal Democrat. He actually won. In a goddamn electoral landslide. He won. Here. In America. This isn't the screenplay to some summer action flick, James Earl Jones isn't providing voiceover work and an asteroid isn't heading straight for the Earth. WE did it. We actually elected a smart, sincere, sophisticated person to be President who is black and named Barack Hussein Obama.
Intellectualism is back like vinyl leggings.
Sorry. Just can't quite believe it yet. During the '06 midterms, the first verse to Prince's 1999 came to mind in crystallizing the mood of the moment. I think it bears repeating more now than then.
"I was dreaming when I wrote this
Forgive me if it goes astray
But when I woke up this morning
Could've sworn it was judgment day..."
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
I, too, sing America
"She promised all the sweetest giftsPresident Barack Obama.
That only the heavens could bestow
You bring your light and shine like morning
And as you so gracefully give
Her light as long as you live
I'll always remember this moment..."
— Sade, The Sweetest Gift
Amazing grace, how sweet that sound.
The day universally acknowledged by us brown folk as the one we never thought we'd live to see, the one my mother told me was a pipe dream a mere two summers ago, the one which served as a pilgrimage to our nation's capital whether you were from Brooklyn or Birmingham, the one that compelled me to brave the frigid cold and daunting crowds to be an eyewitness to history.
I was born twenty-nine years ago today. My first born day ushered in the era of greed, irresponsibility and neglect to our working class which I pray has come to an overdue end with the changing of the guard.
My parents emigrated to the United States from the West Indies during the 60's in search of a better life. My father inspired by his countryman Stokely Carmichael and the civil rights movement stressed the importance of political activism. I remember coloring homemade signs and counting out buttons as a hyperactive eight-year old in a cramped church basement, nagging him as why he was working so hard to elect Jesse Jackson during the chilly winter months of 1988. As a child, I couldn't fully grasp what the big deal about a Black president was. After all, I learned about Eric Williams and Michael Manley alongside Abraham Lincoln and John Adams from early on. He had lived through prime ministers and heads of state who looked just like him before becoming a freshwater Yankee. So, what difference did it make?
He tilted my chin upwards to his serious eyes and said, "Because our hearts and minds need to match our Constitution if all people really are created equal. We're not there yet."
In my experiences traveling abroad, I've always been struck by how nationalism by people of color in other countries differed so much from what I came to live and learn here at home. Even if their skin was darker than mine, their pride of country was never a question. If you're from the Dominican Republic, you name it. If you're from Trinidad, you claim it. But in America, it boiled down to "I'm Black." Period. It was the only place where regardless if you were born and raised here, somehow we were made to feel apart from our own country. Look no further than in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina when our own citizens were labeled "refugees" repeatedly by the mainstream media for days on end. Carrying on the complicated but necessary exercise of critical patriotism, to hold a mirror to America's conscience, forcing the nation to live up to the guiding principles enshrined in the Declaration of Independence can leave one feeling like a stranger in a native land.
But as I watched the son of an African economist and an anthropologist from Kansas raise his hand and repeat "I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear...," the tears flooded my eyes as a cleansing release. The anger and xenophobia whipped up in the witching hours of the general election became dead weight. The romanticized immigrant story of Ellis Island became threaded into the story of my mother and father. The stars and stripes became a symbol of not what was perpetually wrong, but what could be made right.
And it felt like that the hope of a cocoa colored girl with a funny last name can finally believe America has a place for her too.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Requiem for a dream
Because I fall into the Gen X category, the data bank of "where were you when?" memories for me are few and far between. I could never pinpoint an exact time when we've stood at the precipice of the kind of seismic shift that this country will undergo tomorrow afternoon at high noon.
But what I am amazed at is the optimism of the trailblazers who came before, opened doors we can easily walk through and oftentimes take for granted now. In an fascinating bit of footage unearthed by BBC World News America from 1964, MLK expressed confidence that the barrier so many of us thought we'd never see fall would happen "within 40 years." Even before Black folk were legally allowed to take part in our own democracy, his conviction that a person of color could eventually ascend to the highest office in the land makes even ironic detachment seem like a sorry kind of wisdom.
Hope springs eternal.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
First lady in waiting
"Michelle is a tremendously strong person, and has a very strong sense of herself and who she is and where she comes from. But I also think in her eyes you can see a trace of vulnerability that most people don’t know, because when she’s walking through the world she is this tall, beautiful, confident woman. There is a part of her that is vulnerable and young and sometimes frightened, and I think seeing both of those things is what attracted me to her." - Barack Obama, The New Yorker
Friday, January 16, 2009
Still delusional after all these years
"Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your mouth,
Blowing down the backroads headin' south.
Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your teeth,
You're an idiot, babe.
It's a wonder that you still know how to breathe..." - Bob Dylan, Idiot Wind, 1974
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Glazed and confused
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Inc. is honoring American's sense of pride and freedom of choice on Inauguration Day, by offering a free doughnut of choice to every customer on this historic day, Jan. 20. By doing so, participating Krispy Kreme stores nationwide are making an oath to tasty goodies — just another reminder of how oh-so-sweet "free" can be.No big deal, right? Wrong. Using the term "freedom of choice" is naturally a covert nod to the "immoral, far left agenda" of Obama Nation, so the American Life League has done what the lunatic fringe does best. Ever notice the people most against abortion are the people you wouldn't want to fuck in the first place? Let's take a closer examination of the faux outrage from their mouth foaming press release, shall we?
"Krispy Kreme is taking the inaugural festivities nationwide," said Ron Rupocinski, executive chef for Krispy Kreme. "We're inviting our fans in cities across the country, including Washington, D.C., to commemorate this historic day with a favorite American treat."
The Inauguration Day promotional offer is good for one doughnut of choice per customer on Jan. 20. No purchase is necessary.
The next time you stare down a conveyor belt of slow-moving, hot, sugary glazed donuts at your local Krispy Kreme you just might be supporting President-elect Barack Obama's radical support for abortion on demand — including his sweeping promise to sign the Freedom of Choice Act as soon as he steps in the Oval Office, Jan. 20.Come one, come all... new placenta-filled doughnuts! Nothing helps a liberal unwind from a day of fighting to restore civil liberties, establish universal healthcare, and enact global warming reversal than devouring the life source of sweet smelling infants. Life begins at confection, y'all! Sprinkles of the Anti-Christ come separately.
Wonder if going in the next morning can qualify me for a "morning after" dulce de leche.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Into the belly of the beasts
Mr. Obama, who has been staying at the Hay-Adams Hotel in advance of his inauguration next week, arrived at 9 Grafton Street, an upscale address in Chevy Chase, Md., at 6:34 p.m. The Montgomery County property tax records list this address as the home of the conservative Washington Post columnist George Will, the host of the dinner party. Also attending the party was Charles Krauthammer. Together, some of the columnists at the dinner party have been some of Mr. Obama's severest critics.I guess you can consider this the sausage-making phase of diplomacy. Unavoidably messy, but required. I've been itching to see how many succumb to the magic Negro fairy dust this weekend to wax rhapsodic on how humble Barack was and how they were all so surprised at how great his manners were and how he wasn’t hollerin' for "motherfuckin' iced tea" throughout the dinner.
So, what's the feedback from the fervent opposition?
"He's making good on his promise to reach out to Republicans and conservatives and this post-partisan stuff, whatever that means," [Larry] Kudlow said. "I was very impressed. He's a nice guy, terribly smart, well-informed, great smile. He just really engaged. He said he likes to know the arguments on all sides."To break bread with people who insinuated he was a Manchurian candidate and out to destroy America. That his wife was an unpatriotic redux of Angela Davis. That he couldn't beat Clinton and had loser written all over him because of Caribou Barbie's hockey mom hagiography. Now they have to smile politely at the living embodiment of their utter defeat.
[Michael] Barone called Obama "an attractive person in a small setting. It's harder to hate someone you've had close contact with and who has pleasant characteristics."
"Obama's a man who has demonstrated he is interested in hearing other views," said syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer.
What I wouldn't give to be a fly on the wall in between hors d'oeuvres.
Picture perfect president
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Coming down the homestretch
It's hard to believe that the transition period actually extended all the way to March and not the third week of January in an odd-numbered year like we've grown accustomed to now. Collectively, the nation has turned into a bunch of unruly kids stuck in the backseat on the way to Grandma's house whining, "are we there yet?"
"It's hard to beat the system
When we're standing at a distance
So we keep waiting
Waiting on the world to change..." — John Mayer
Only one more week of Boy George and his band of merry bandits. The anticipation to finally bid this criminal cabal adieu is worse than extended foreplay.
Labels: Inauguration Day
Droppin' it like it's hot
"It amazes me," he said, "when I looked at California and saw churches that had nothing to say about police brutality, nothing to say when a young black boy was shot while he was wearing police handcuffs, nothing to say when they overturned affirmative action, nothing to say when people were being [relegated] into poverty, yet they were organizing and mobilizing to stop consenting adults from choosing their life partners."— Al Sharpton, Tabernacle Baptist Church, January 11, 2009
"I am tired," he went on, "of seeing ministers who will preach homophobia by day, and then after they're preaching, when the lights are off they go cruising for trade...We know you're not preaching the Bible, because if you were preaching the Bible we would have heard from you. We would have heard from you when people were starving in California — when they deregulated the economy and crashed Wall Street you had nothing to say. When Madoff made off with the money, you had nothing to say. When Bush took us to war chasing weapons of mass destruction that weren't there you had nothing to say."
Monday, January 12, 2009
The madness of King George
"All the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre — the man who can most easily (and) adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum. The presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron." — H.L. Mencken, Baltimore Sun, July 26, 1920In his final press conference, George W. Bush described himself as having a type-A personality.
Does the A stand for asshole?
After 8 years of refusing to admit mistakes with obstinant refusal to deviate from "staying the course," and self-delusion to spare, Dubya finally feels it's time to be "reflective." It's like he started in 2000 as the feel good loser of Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader? and now is finally intellectually and emotionally mature enough to cope with remedial English.
George W. Bush said more about the state of America in the late twentieth century then we were ever willing to acknowledge on our own. He is the end result of a society that is so successful we can afford to elect our leaders based on nothing more then who you'd like to have a beer with or some other nonsensical trait that has nothing to do with fixing actual problems. And that is exactly what we got, someone who couldn't make 12:00 stop blinking on a VCR. Because he wasn't rightfully elected by the people the first time around. He was selected by wingnut fanboys to overturn Roe vs. Wade, or make it easier for people to buy assault rifles they never needed or cut taxes you never really paid but think you did because you listened to right-wing noise machine who knew you didn't in the first place tell you you did. Distraction and selfish ignorance opened the door to this perpetual frat boy and we the people still aren't done picking up the tab.
Here's a random sampling courtesy of MSNBC's First Read:
Then: 4.2% (Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 2001)
Now: 6.7% (Bureau of Labor Statistics, November 2008)
DOW JONES INDUSTRIAL AVERAGE
Then: 10,587 (close of Friday, Jan. 19, 2001)
Now: 9,015 (close of Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2009)
BUSH FAVORABILITY RATING
Then: 50% (1/01 NBC/WSJ poll)
Now: 31% (12/08 NBC/WSJ poll)
CHENEY FAVORABILITY RATING
Then: 49% (1/01 NBC/WSJ poll)
Now: 21% (12/08 NBC/WSJ poll)
CONGRESS APPROVAL RATING
Then: 48% (1/01 NBC/WSJ poll)
Now: 21% (12/08 NBC/WSJ poll)
SATISFIED WITH THE NATION'S DIRECTION
Then: 45% (1/01 NBC/WSJ poll)
Now: 26% (12/08 NBC/WSJ poll)
Then: 115.7 (Conference Board, January 2001)
Now: 38.0, which is an all-time low (Conference Board, December 2008)
FAMILIES LIVING IN POVERTY
Then: 6.4 million (Census numbers for 2000)
Now: 7.6 million (Census numbers for 2007 -- most recent numbers available)
AMERICANS WITHOUT HEALTH INSURANCE
Then: 39.8 million (Census numbers for 2000)
Now: 45.7 million (Census numbers for 2007 -- most recent available)
Then: +236.2 billion (2000, Congressional Budget Office)
Now: -$1.2 trillion (projected figure for 2009, Congressional Budget Office)
In a time when American businesses are hemorraghing, the cost of living is skyrocketing while paychecks flatline, the one group who profited off the pain of the middle class has been the wealthiest 1% among us. A government of the 1%, by the 1%, and for the 1% is not what the founding fathers had in mind.
The American people are as much to blame.
The great, unwashed masses were far too concerned with Al Gore's earth tones and how exasperated his sighing made them "feel" when he was obviously far more qualified to be president. Then America let Karl Rove elevate fearmongering to a dark art. Soccer moms and the mushy middle accepted a de facto draft dodger over a war hero because they were fooled by Swift Boat ads.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice... well, we did get fooled again.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Misery loves company
I knew that it was inevitable that I would be disappointed with an Obama Administration. I just didn't expect the disillusionment to set in before he was sworn in.
"End of the third round
As I put the phone down
Chasing the same lines
Over the old ground
I'm pushing zero
Where is my hero?
He's out there somewhere
Left of the middle..." — Natalie Imbruglia
- Why hasn't Obama flown his campaign plane to Iraq and started bringing our troops home?
- Why hasn't Obama implemented his 10 year green energy plan yet?
- Why hasn't he still captured Osama bin Laden?
- Why hasn't he brokered a peace treaty between the Israelis and the Palestinians?
- Why hasn't he created 5 million new jobs yet?
- Why hasn't he delivered on the promise of peace, prosperity and ponies for everyone?
- Where's my goddamn 40 acres and a mule? Huh? Huh?!
And what's with this crybaby nonsense that "Obama's only human"? The hell he is!
Why is widespread hunger and famine still an epidemic? Why can't he just multiply loaves and fishes until there's enough for everyone? Is he weak? Is he another one of those pinko commie cowards? Or does he just want people to go hungry? What kind of message does this send about his administration?
Why hasn't he stopped every war on the planet? Why isn't he at the Gaza Strip using his superpowers, causing tanks to fly up in the air and jets to fall out of the sky? Why don't shells crash harmlessly against an invisible wall of force that he's erected between Hamas and the IDF?
Come on, Barry! I don't want to hear any more excuses!
The Constitution clearly states that in the freakish occurrence of an African-American ever winning, his job as President-elect is to bypass all other authorities, solve the country's problems and usher in an Age of Aquarius, all before taking office under the Magical Negro amendment. The Founding Fathers were probably just fucking around, thinking it would never happen. But rules are rules and Barack Obama clearly is a failure before he gets started.
After the 2004 election, a Pennsylvania precinct captain commented to me that us folks on the left would rather be "right" than do what's necessary to make political progress. We revel in the beautiful loser syndrome. The collective bed wetting over every decision made post-November 4th is a classic example.
"I'm only happy when it rains
I'm only happy when it's complicated
And though I know you can't appreciate it
I'm only happy when it rains
You know I love it when the news is bad
And why it feels so good to feel so sad..." — Garbage
We've barely survived the worst president this side of Herbert Hoover who nearly destroyed this country with the help of his neocon accomplices, the prospect of hearing the phrase "President Sarah Palin" in the near future was defeated, significant Democratic gains were made in both the House & Senate and we've averted a clusterfuck of calamity by electing an brilliant statesman, a symbolic repudiation of anti-intellectualism and oh yeah, a history maker by virtue of being the first unpasty dude to be the nation's chief executive.
...and some people are chomping at the bit to tear him to pieces already.
At this rate, nothing less than single-payer for all, drive-thru gay marriage and a Prius in every garage by January 21st will stave off the inevitable conclusion that he was nothing but a Republican wolf in liberal clothing.
The problem with all this hyperbolic hand wringing is the zero-sum mentality in expressing dissent. No cabinet pick can be debated in terms of pros vs. cons. No policy statement has ever been decided by the poutrage peddlers to simply be skewed further than they would like in one direction, or to have excluded something they would have wanted. Nope. Legitimate beefs devolve to the point to where the only possible viewpoint not drowned out in a sea of accusations is Obama has given the finger to the left and proven himself to be nothing more than a corporate hack who spits in the faces of every right thinking progressive with utter disregard for his base, even though they singlehandedly got him elected.
I thought we would welcome the prospect of a new president being open for discussion and welcoming ideas.
This is precisely what any sane person who isn't totally corroded by cynicism would expect.
This is how democracy is supposed to function.
But after getting pummeled punch drunk in consecutive terms with abuse from the right, liberals have forgotten how to deal with holding the golden ticket. Every leak from the Hill bodes the opportunity for an overwrought reaction like a bunch of battered wives. Hence all the assumptions that because Obama has 'signaled' by appointing so and so, he has already sold us out.
Wading through the netroots nowadays requires a fifth of Jim Beam and a high tolerance for intramural insanity. Stuck in a holding position for another week but still accepting the responsibilities our current lame duck shirked months ago, to some, he isn't doing enough.
I personally want him to change my water to wine. I'll settle for an adequate merlot the first batch or two.
Blame it on the bruising campaign schedule, but I've burned through self-righteous indignation faster than Hank Paulson wasted taxpayer money. Having spent it all waiting to exhale over every minor poll fluctuation, every redundant proclamation that he couldn't "close the deal," every repetitious drumbeat of the "Bradley effect," I've hit the ceiling on outrage fatigue.
As Emma Goldman so aptly put it, "If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution." I'm all cried out. Screamed out. Keyboard warrior-ed out. You'll have to forgive me for not adhering to the hipster handbook in feeling appropriately aggrieved.
And dammit, I think a collective Electric Slide on the National Mall has been well earned. The impeachment petitions can wait.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Here's to you, Mrs. Robinson
It's official: Marian Robinson, the 71-year-old mother-in-law of President-elect Barack Obama, will be moving into the White House, transition officials said on Friday.
In fact, Mrs. Robinson is already in town, helping to smooth the family's personal transition as Mr. Obama, his wife, Michelle, and their two daughters prepare for new lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
"She is here to help them get up and running," said Katie McCormick Lelyveld, a spokeswoman for Mrs. Obama. "She will determine in the coming months whether or not she wants to stay in D.C. permanently."
Friday, January 09, 2009
Strength, courage & wisdom
"This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that's on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She's a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing - Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.For all of his oratorical flourish, none was more poignant than his use of a sprightly Southern belle as the symbolic spectator to how far we've come. A woman who embodied the spirit of that magical night.
She was born just a generation past slavery, a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky, when someone like her couldn't vote for two reasons - because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.
And tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America - the heartache and the hope, the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can." — President-elect Barack Obama, November 4, 2008, Grant Park
Today she added yet another remarkable footnote by turning 107 years young.
Ms. Cooper is an inspiration, not solely because of the sheer breadth of history she has witnessed firsthand, but also because of her life-long work to change her community and country for the better.
Here's to hoping there's many more candles to be lit in her honor for years to come.
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
It's hard out here for the pimps
As the 2009 AVN Adult Expo opens in Las Vegas this week, Girls Gone Wild CEO Joe Francis and HUSTLER magazine publisher Larry Flynt are petitioning the newly convened 111th Congress to provide a financial bailout for the adult entertainment industry along the lines of what is being sought by the Big Three automakers, a spokesperson for Francis announced today.And what say you, oh vigilant defender of the First Amendment?
Adult industry leaders Flynt and Francis sent a joint request to Congress asking for $5 billion in federal assistance, "Just to see us through hard times," Francis said. "Congress seems willing to help shore up our nation's most important businesses, we feel we deserve the same consideration. In difficult economic times, Americans turn to entertainment for relief. More and more, the kind of entertainment they turn to is adult entertainment."
But according to Flynt the recession has acted like a national cold shower. "People are too depressed to be sexually active," Flynt says, "This is very unhealthy as a nation. Americans can do without cars and such but they cannot do without sex."Blame it on stiff competition or the limp economy, but the internet killed the DVD stars. So much for being too big to fail.
But you've gotta admire the chutzpah for thinking of new ways to redefine the category of publicity whore. No letting pride stand in the way of a handout or a handjob. God bless America.
Saturday, January 03, 2009
A night to remember
"You know, they said this day would never come. They said our sights were set too high.
They said this country was too divided, too disillusioned to ever come together around a common purpose.
But on this January night, at this defining moment in history, you have done what the cynics said we couldn't do." — Senator Barack Obama, January 3, 2008.
As improbable as the journey to the White House was and still is, it's almost harder to believe that an entire year has flown by since that winter night when the inevitability myth surrounding the Clinton machine was shattered for good. Back then, I was considered crazy by most of my family and friends for such fervent early support of the skinny Black guy with the funny name. What were the odds for the longest of long shots? The pollsters were about as organized as FEMA when it came to reaching a general consensus, the punditocracy was eager to get the coronation underway and Black voters in general were wary of the rookie with the grand ambition but short track record.
In a state where the general population's 95% White, the outcome hit the reset button in more ways than one. Michelle Obama stated the plain truth that if the knockout blow wasn't delivered in Iowa, the campaign would all just be a dream. Luckily for us and to the chagrin of Slick Willy, this was no fairy tale. And now we're a mere 17 days away from the little known underdog becoming the 44th President of the United States.
Pinching myself on the road down memory lane never felt so good.
Thursday, January 01, 2009
Resolutions were made to be broken
Why fake the fitness with a SmartWater hours after the clock struck midnight when I really want a caramel macchiato? Why kid myself into thinking the newest ab contraption I wind up having buyer's remorse over won't wind up another standing clothes rack?
Maybe around the time we're giving postmortems on 2009, Ma Dukes won't feel the need to draw attention my many imperfections while I'm getting fitted and proclaim, "I think we've located the 'problem areas' right here."
Dare to dream.
Coming out of the dark
2007 did me no favors and '08 overall continued in the side-eye tradition. Another year praying that Robitussin will do as the quicker-pick-me-upper since I can't afford health coverage. Still haven't found a gig that pays worth a damn, my love life's nonexistant and straddling the ways to make a dollar out of 15¢ is fucking exhausting.
As is tradition for any self-respecting New Yorker, Times Square was not an option. Not merely because the onslaught of tourists, confetti and couples afflicted with massive PDA syndrome isn't exactly my idea of a fun night out on the town... but it was one of those nights when seeing the frosty mouth trails from TV correspondents on air didn't do the weather true justice. Winter's my favorite season, but that wind chill was on some next shit. Curling up on the sofa in my footies with a glass of Yellowtail was my idea of a good time.
As the dawn of a new crossroads is upon us, all I can do is ask for the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.