Saturday, June 14, 2008

Dads And The Media

In tribute to Father's Day, a group of bloggers have decided to post a series of articles focusing on "Dads In Media".

This blogstorm ought to be intriguing because the bloggers involved are a diverse bunch with varying outlooks on different aspects of general culture, and I was both honored and amazed to be asked to join in.

And then I promptly forgot about the whole thing until I received a reminder this week! (Thanks, RC, and sorry!)

I'm troubled by the way men are portrayed in popular culture, particularly in sitcoms and commercials. There are precious few dads who are shown as anything close to competent, and usually, there's an element of authoritarianism to the portrayal of a father.

Fathers, like the ones in early 60s shows like "Leave It To Beaver" or "Father Knows Best" worked a non-descript, flannel-suited job, came home each day at 6PM, had a drink and read the paper while mom made dinner. If there was any interaction with a child, it was usually in the context of dad pushing his paper aside as if the news out of England was more important than his son's ( didn't bother with the girls) grade in spelling.

My Three Sons was a typical show like this, despite the unusual premise of a widower raising three (and then adopting a fourth) son with a "wife" (the housekeeper, who for some strange reason that would probably raise eyebrows now, was a man, presented as the boys' grandfather/great uncle). The boys would get into some mix-up, the partner housekeeper would offer some advice, the kids would ignore it and dad would come home and straighten things out, usually adding some measure of logic and rationality to the proceedings.

All in thirty minutes. 26, if you count commercials. 52, if you were lucky enough to be "Bonanza".

As noxious as this image was, the was a certain cultural truth to it: back in the 50s and 60s, America was truly patriarchal. The man brought home the bacon, the woman cooked it up. Therefore, since the man was the sole support of the household, often his was the final word.

Somewhere along the way, this image shifted as the culture shifted through several iterations: Archie Bunker, who still held "sway" but could be influenced by a wife's stand or a daughter's tear; Cliff Huxtable, who's wife was at least on the same plane as Cliff, but ultimately, it was Cliff who made the decisions (in close consultation with Claire, but still usually his decision was final); Al Bundy, who while completely NOT in control of his family, managed to create the self-delusion that he was, only to have it shattered time and time again.

Until today, when it is nearly impossible to find a dad on TV who reflects reality.

I think the first TV dad to have begun to "dumb down dads" was Fred Flintstone. Basically The Honeymooners, when Fred and Wilma had Pebbles, Fred never really grew up (Ralph Kramden, the live-action Fred, never had children), and kept doing the same dumb schemes and having to be bailed out by Wilma, usually threatening to leave.

The exaggerated stereotype was OK, I suppose, because it was a cartoon and no one would take a cartoon seriously. Plus, there were plenty of TV dads to model fatherly behavior that was appropriate at the time.

Now? Not so much. Watch most sitcoms and dramas, or nearly any commercial set in a family, and you will see some Neanderthal scratching his head, trying to figure out how the world just shot right past him.

In an age that has seen Home Improvement, The Simpsons, and any number of forgettable sitcoms, what recent TV dads reflect some role model for men, some identifiable totem that society can look to that doesn't lampoon men as incompetent boobs when it comes to parenting, inept and totally ignorant of what fatherhood entails?

Fortunately, there are a few.

Roseanne - Although nominally second banana to Roseanne Barr's eponymous character, Dan Conner, played by John Goodman, was there to be a shoulder for Roseanne, and to support her when she had made a decision. He rarely acted out, but the character was realistic because there were times when the couple would fight when they felt strongly about what was going on, as Roseanne did like to control the people around her. He shows strength and compassion, and anxiety over his inability to keep a steady job.

Just like real people do. I was not a big fan of the show, but I did enjoy the camraderie, love and particularly, the repartee between these two.

Scrubs - This is one of my favorite shows of all time, a sitcom set in a hospital that doesn't play for the easy laugh often (indeed, one episode lampoons the entire spangly, brightly colored 80s sitcoms perfectly). It stands to reason that the characters on the show would have depth and dimension, despite their clear connections to characters from commedia dell' artes. Primary among these is Dr. Perry Cox, played by John C McGinley, whose parenting skills extend to drinking scotch from his son's sippy cup while watching the Lakers on TV. Think "House" without the limp.

Cox is like a real dad in that he recognizes how his own father had hurt him so badly and tries to do things differently with his children. His first child, his son Jack, breaks through Cox's rather sizable wall that distances him from other people and you see a genuine affection grow between them (the story arc exploring this is magnificent by the way, and any dad who has seen it can identify with Cox). In Cox's world, his real life and his work life tend to bleed over into one another, just like a real person's might without the "I'm so mad at my boss" rant you see on too many sitcoms.

I don't think it's a surprise that we have here two shows trying to deal humorously with the horrors of real life, and sometimes failing, have characters that hearken back to B J Hunnicutt of M*A*S*H: men for whom family is the respite from the world, not an extension of their incapacity to deal with it, and yet, the family creates its own tension for them, tensions they have to try to drown out somehow.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday Kitten Blogging

Dadby tern on da box-o-wintah dis weak cuz et get so hawt, so I set en front of et to git kold.

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) Here it is, folks, George Bush's legacy!

2) Will Iowa ever float again?

3) This story may ultimately turn out to be far more important to you and me than even the election. The corn crop in Iowa and Indiana is devastated, flooded and ruined, and that could mean that scenes like this in Ethiopia and Haiti could happen in America.

4) But hey, what do we care about the brown people? Madonna's brother is writing a tell-all!

5) Talk about a sore loser! We're only about halfway through the year and my prediction that Africa would be one of the top ten stories of the year seems to be coming true.

6) If China and Taiwan can come to an understanding and shake hands, why are we still embargoing Cuba?

7) Mortgage foreclosures were up 48% in May!

8) Barack Obama has been forced to put up a website to counteract the rampant rumours flying about him and his wife. Called Fight The Smears, it was precipitated primarily by the rumour that Michelle uttered the "w" word from the pulpit of the very same church that Obama listened to hate-mongering from Revs. Wright and Pfleger.

9) Since so many words have been *koffkoff* misinterpreted from there, maybe they ought to perform an exorcism at that pulpit? Just a thought.

10) My only issue with the website is that the people Obama needs to reach with it don't necessarily have Internet access, and so will only hear word-of-mouth and from the radio and the TV. He needs to find a way to reach these people, mostly white working class voters. Oh. Oops.

11) Question: Is a bear Catholic? Did the Pope shit in the Bush?

12) What should have been an historic and exciting series is turning into a rout.

13) Was there a concerted effort to stop Hillary in the DNC? Apparently, the rules and bylaws committee was selectively excluding Florida and Michigan and should have excluded Iowa, South Carolina and New Hampshire as well!

14) Goodbye, Tim Russert, you fat misogynist toady who worked for the only network that was clearly in Barack Obama's pocket from the get-go. I hope you choke on a beef on weck in hell.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Paradigm Lost

Sure seems like I have a lot to say on this topic.

I happened to watch Michael Moore's "SiCKO" last night, and this theme of paradigms of American culture and politics swirled through my mind yet again.

If you've seen the film, then you likely recall Moore's trip to England and France to investigate "socialized medicine" with its concommitant horror stories of people dying in waiting rooms and postponing critical surgeries and bureaucracy out the wazoo over the slightest protest in treatment, how you can't choose your own doctors and how doctors are badly underpaid and treated and...

Well, you get the drift of the right wing talking points regarding single-payer healthcare.

Naturally, Moore pretty much debunks those forthwith. Yes, the film takes a POV that is probably at best generally accurate but biased towards only showing positive stories ("So how much did you pay for the delivery?" "Nothing" "You mean you can just walk out of the hospital with a baby and no bill???"), however, the generally accepted truths of nearly everyone he speaks to in England and France is that American health care is the pits compared to European healthcare and that the system in place in Europe works without creating an undue burden on the taxpayers.

People still drive nice cars and doctors can afford million dollar homes, and even the middle class can afford a comfortable apartment and a nice television on $80,000 a year combined salaries. In France. Where you get unlimited sick leave, a 35 hour work week, and minimum five weeks' paid vacation.

Sweet deal, huh? Mind you, the average French worker is more productive than the average American worker. Gee...can't imagine how treating a human adult like, well, an adult might engender a better sense of loyalty than all these "team building exercises" and sloganeering!

Makes you wonder what is wrong with this country?

There were a few telling incidents and quotes in the movie that made me think about this column today, which I had planned on writing anyway.

1) Tony Benn, a Socialist former member of the British parliament was interviewed by Moore on camera. Put it this way: even the British call him a far-left winger. He had some interesting things to say, including the following: Keeping people hopeless and pessimistic - see I think there are two ways in which people are controlled - first of all frighten people and secondly demoralize them...An educated, healthy and confident nation is harder to govern.Pretty remarkable statement, when you ponder it for a moment.

What is the best way to keep a nation frightened? Yes, a terror attack works, of course, but that has limited impact on long term governance, a goal of both parties here.

No, the best way to frighten and demoralize a people is to make them think the enemy lies within our borders. It could be the blacks. It could be the undocumented workers. It could be the latte-sipping liberal elite. It could be the John-Deere-cap-wearing rednecks. It could be the working classes that cling to their guns and their God in their desperation, even.

But the enemy lies within our borders and we must be vigilant.

The enemy DOES lie within our borders, but it's not the enemy we think it is.

2) In summing up the differences, not just in healthcare but in the attitudes of the citizens of nations like England, France and even Cuba, Moore says They think of 'we first,' not 'me first'.

This goes hand-in-hand with the great cultural divide, I think, I referenced in point one. It's hard to think of "we first" in America for a slew of reasons, not least of which is simply the massive physical distances between "us" and "them". "They" are the flyover states, or the coast-dwellers. "We" are the true Americans. "We" know better than "they" do.

It's hard to think of "we first" because we are all hyphenate-Americans. We all self-identify with another place: Irish-American, Russian-American, Dominican-American, African American. Hell, we even have to refer to the indigenous people with a hyphenate, Native American, so as not to exclude them! Our tribe comes ahead of all others.

This diversity has had some profound and good impacts on America: from different backgrounds, we have not only derived different "American" foods (hot dogs, German; pizza, Italian) but different ideas, different perceptions have become inured into American culture.

But only after the feared "enemy within" was absorbed and assimilated.

All this, however, is hung on a backdrop of the very American "Protestant work ethic"...a German import, by the way.

3) While pondering the French culture, with its universal healthcare and its government-paid college tuition (not a loan, a grant and out of pocket costs are nominal, under a thousand euros), and dollar-a-day childcare for working parents, Moore points out that the French government is terrified of its workers, and proceeds to show footage of various strikes across France.

Hm. A government serving the people, instead of the people serving the government. Interesting concept!

While we here in America are trying to downsize our government, put the "people's money back in the people's business community's pocket," in other nations, they take the people's money and use it for the benefit of the people!

Wow. Any coincidence that the US is ranked 37th on the list of health care services, just ahead of Slovenia, despite the fact that we outspend every other nation on the planet, including China (which doesn't even place in the top 50, so at least they're getting bang for their bucks!)

We need to reorganize the priorities of this country, and sadly, neither Obama nor McCain (nor Clinton, hedging my bets) is going to pull the levers and push the buttons necessary to do this (maybe Clinton might. Might.)

We collect hundreds of billions in tax revenues, and the complaint about universal healthcare, or any one of a number of social programs, is "it's going to cost the taypayers money."

Yea. And as Tony Benn put it, If we can find money to kill people, you can find money to help people.

Americans are among the most generous, giving people on the planet. When a disaster strikes in Myanmar or China or Peru, Americans are the first with their wallets open, giving to the Red Cross, or to Doctors Without Borders.

I would advance the cause of universal healthcare (first) with a simple question: "If you could help your neighbor in a crisis, would you give him a dollar?"

"People pay taxes not because government needs us to. People pay taxes because other people need us to."

That ought to be the mantra of anyone running for President. We've lost a sense of community in this country. That community threatened the entrenched interests of the corporate and administrative sectors. People had a bit of power, but lost it in the 70s and 80s.

President Clinton tried to bring it back, but even his attempt was derailed by the powers that be. President Bush has further eroded and blunted that power under the guise of "homeland security," a permanent terror state devised to punish people who get out of line along with genuine threats to the nation.

To think that the next President won't use these tools is like asking me to stop using my perfectly good left hand. That's simply not going to happen, no matter how well-intentioned I might be. I'll slip up and so will the next President.

We have to take the country back.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Can You Spare A Paradigm?

As I re-read the posts of the past two days, I realized that there's an element to my thinking that needs more exploring in order to successfully launch my "Actor212 Not For President" campaign.


"Class" is one of those nebulous terms that the Republicans have successfully turned into a third rail of politics, while the Democrats have sputtered and spewed trying to catch up to expose what should be apparent to anyone who's actually paid attention these past twenty years: people vote against their best interests because they've been taught to ignore their best interests.

The Republican platform, as I pointed out yesterday, is "lower taxes, smaller government," a platform they have been woefully inept and inartful at achieving. Tax revenues have spiked upwards except when there's been a recession, which is itself an uniquely Republcian phenomenon.

The mantra is that lower taxes will bring more economic investment and that Americans, particularly small-businessmen, know better how to spend their money than the government does.

Believe it or not, I actually buy some of that. It is true, to an extent. The tax cuts of the Kennedy administration fostered the greatest economic activity in American history until the Clinton tax hike (and there's your clue that taxes are in fact too low). There is a center point around which taxes and economic activity bear some inverse relation to each other.

The proposed rationale that Republicans put forth is essentially, "We'll cut taxes on the rich and maybe they'll employ more of you!"

Well, there's an acknowledgement of the American dream if I've ever heard one! Horatio Alger, look out! There's a whole crop of proletariats just gearing up to do mindless drone work, day in and day out, for the betterment of an elite class of owners!

Meanwhile, the Republicans will talk about class in terms of social structure, in particular "middle class values".

Middle class socially differs from middle class economically. Economically, middle class means, well, people in the middle: those who make between $25,000 and say $100,000 (for a family of four). Below that, you are working class. Much above that, you are upper class.

Socially, middle class means having shared American values like "hard work will provide a path to wealth" or other mainstreamed bromides that provide a rationale for getting up each morning and providing someone else with wealth while struggling in your own life. Religion may be the opiate of the masses, but values are the six packs of beer they consume to get to the five o'clock whistle.

It is this dynamic that I think is about ready to change, as people sit amidst a pile of debt and an economy falling around their ears, wondering how come ExxonMobil is still making money hand over fist and John McCain is proposing yet another tax incentive for Big Oil.

Republicans raise the spectre of "class warfare" (Charles Rangel had the best rebuttal to this: "Yes, but you declared it on us!"), and it's true: the line between economic and social classes has been carefully blurred such that about the only class that ever gets talked about is the middle class, so much so that you'd almost think that everyone is middle class, much like all the children in Lake Woebegone are above average.

By raising the spectre of class warfare, the Republicans are really saying, "Pay no attention to the fact that there really are classes in this country, that channels like Style and Fine Living exist not for the 3 million or so families who are uberwealthy, but for the hundreds of millions who wish they were, but never will be."

That has to change. The question is, how to change it? How to raise the issue of class in this country so that a) one doesn't get accused of being classist unjustly, and b) one doesn't get tarred with being both elitist AND an anarchist?

I think the way to tie this discussion together in a package that no Republican could ever critique without treading very dangerous ground is to tie it into affirmative action and in particular, racial dialogues.

Here, of course, Barack Obama could be the better man to do it than I would. He has a natural advantage.

But in truth, a careful analysis reveals that what many of us take for granted-- good jobs, a retirement plan, opportunity-- has been taken away from first minorities (in truth, many never even had these) and then from working class Americans, with blindness to the color of their skins.

A single mother in Alabama, struggling to put food on the table at her $20,000 a year job packing sausages could be black, could be white. It doesn't matter to the food bank. The thing is, neither does it matter to the guy who owns the factory. All he or she knows is, he's making money off her sweat.

Sounds vaguely socialist, I know. And perhaps that's the way it ought to sound, because capitalism, democracy and Christian "values" are incompatible in the extreme.

There's a trick to this idea that has to be carefully navigated, but like the Republicans' nifty trick of de-coupling "values" and those who hold them dear with their policies, which are anthema to those very values, it can be done.

In this instance, we have to recouple the issues of fairness economically with social fairness. Not justice, because that has a heavy-handed "enforced" air about it.

What I think we should have established in this country is a whole new ideal that society is ready to stop taking differences for either granted OR as inconsequential. No more "affirmative action," but no more "color-blind (pick one) admissions policy/hiring policy/whathaveyou" way of conservatives ducking their responsibilities to the masses of a different class.

What we need to do is to expand opportunities for everyone, and let everyone have a stake in the future of this nation. Societal constructs will blow by in the wake of a thriving economy that sees true entrepreneurs, small (and I don't mean rich white guys owning a vineyard on the side, but people trying to provide a needed service or good in the future) businessmen revitalizing the notion that markets are free and that's a good thing so long as markets remain free and not closed to competition by people, Democrat and Republican, who pay lip service to Adam Smith.

Adam Smith himself believed in government regulation of the markets to a degree, because Adam Smith himself said that an unregulated market would tend to create business combinations that would defeat the purposes of a free competition. I won't bore you with the details of his reasoning. Suffice it to say he recognized that people would conspire to restrain trade in their own industries to protect their business interests.

We need to get back to the notion that people matter, that a "class blind society" is not consistent with industries that can pay hundreds of millions dollars in what effectively bribes in order to protect their interests. That people matter. That families matter.

That democracy matters.

Hump Day Comedy Blogging

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

More Paradigmatic Posting

I hadn't planned on this being a series, but as I began to write yesterday's post, I realized I was heading full speed into a novel. That's the biggest reason it ended so abruptly.

What I see when I look at the two major parties in this nation is stultification and obsolescence. Despite Obama's "re-energizing" of the party, attracting youthful voters, the same Democratic party is the underpinning of his entire campaign.

Indeed, his personal campaign runs square up against the centrist policies of the party as a whole.

This scenario has played out once before in this nation, within the past forty years. When the Democrats took a strong stand against racial discrimination and for equal rights, it triggered a series of cataclysms, ending classical American liberalism as we know it.

First, the noble cause of racial equality created a split with what was then the George Wallace wing of the party. You might say this was a good thing, driving out intolerance and driving away injustice, and I'd be hard pressed to disagree.

But look what happens next: After Wallace runs a failed third party campaign in 1968 (getting nearly killed in the process), the Republicans seize on the disaffected southern white working class voters that Wallace attracted.

You know these folks as "Reagan Democrats".

By talking in coded language of "law and order" and raising values issues, the Republicans began to peel away the basic voting bloc of America: middle Americans who, altho liberal in outlook, didn't trust a radical agenda, which was becoming more and more radical in the Democratic party as the anti-war movement began.

The Republicans countered this, masterfully, by scaring people about liberals while at the same time reassuring them that there was someone who was looking out for them, co-opting the values battle while winning elections, and pretty much guaranteeing a hand in government for generations.

Sounds pretty familiar, doesn't it? A party has overstepped their mandate, and disaffected voters are uneasy about where to turn next. This is another challenge Barack Obama faces: reassuring these voters that while he's about the future, he's also not going to take them on a rollercoaster ride.

You'll notice the rationale here for Hillary Clinton's campaign strategy, and it was a smart one and a good one, and nearly garnered her the nomination despite her blunders.

In 2006, the Democrats led by Rahm Emanuel and Chuck Schumer returned the Democrats to legislative control based largely on this strategy of taking disaffected Republicans and "former Reagan Democrats" and putting a friendly face on a slightly more progressive agenda: Jon Tester, Jim Webb, Claire McCaskill, Bob Casey, all ran as conservative-to-moderate Democrats and picked up seats previously held by Republicans.

The sole "pure" liberal to swipe a seat was Sherrod Brown of Ohio, and that seat was held by Mike DeWine, of Coingate fame.

Clearly, the 2008 election should see more and more Democrats come to the fore in the legislative elections, more notably as Representatives, I think, altho a six seat pick up by Democrats in the Senate would not be impossible. Getting a filibuster proof mandate is not likely.

Now, I've written all that to acknowledge the importance of this election in shaping the country going forward, but also as a warning that while change is good, radical change is not good.

We need to elect candidates who will articulate a vision for America in ways that Americans can be comfortable about, which is another reason I felt Obama was a failure as a nominee: he articulates a vision I can see in my head, but not feel in my heart.

Altho his 2004 convention speech was rib-tickling, to be sure, he hasn't followed that with concrete visions, and he speaks abstractly, as if he was a lecturing fellow at Columbia. That's not what Americans respond to. They don't vote with their heads.

They should, because poll after poll after poll says that, in general, they agree with a liberal agenda: healthcare for all, opportunity, fairness, liberty and equality.

If I was running for President, and I'm not, I would skip the usual "I met this family in Podunk" speech about healthcare or gas prices or a clean environment, in favor of talking to people about their own concerns and addressing them.

In short, my theme would be this: We know you're scared. We can help.

The new politics of the 21st Century is going to have to acknowledge the failures of both Republican and Democratic principles (if you can find the latter) and replace them with new ideals to live up to.

Republican "ideals" can be summed up in four words: lower taxes, less government.

Simple, right? Doesn't mean the party lives up to them or anything approaching them, but it's an easy way for people to remember who you are.

What are Democratic principles?

Not so easy to name them, is it?

When Bill Clinton ran in 1992, he used the following theme: "Opportunity. Responsibility. Community."

Not particularly descriptive, but easy to understand and to figure out what the candidate means. The trouble with this theme is everyone is for all those things. How are you different from the other guy?

(Side note: this is why "Yes We Can" is such a horrible campaign slogan. "Yes we can," what, exactly?)

A better paradigm for running for President (or Not) would be to establish from the outset exactly what you mean to do and how it will improve the lives of average Americans. Yesterday I co-opted the phrase "back to the future" as my first paradigm and this would be a pretty good starting point for any campaign I were to run, except, you know, it's already saddled with baggage.

In order to effectively promote a case for election, a case for your administration, you have to help people connect with your core values, your core beliefs, and your core positions.

What makes Democrats' job so much harder is, these are usually muddled beyond belief, forcing successful candidates to run as "not the other guy".

In determining my vision of the future, I would use the following syllogism:

1) People are scared for the immediate future and for their children. They've seen retirement money dry up in the winds of change these past seven years, and a dismantlement of the most cherish programs of FDR's New Deal, programs that heretofore were considered sacrosanct.

2) I/we have the solutions that will combine the best of Republican values (limiting tax hikes and government growth, particularly on the working and middle class, "middle class" having a generous definition here) with the best of Democratic values (opportunity, responsibility, community, for want of a better phrasing).

3) Ergo, we should present these solutions to the people who are scared and let them know they have nothing to fear, but fear itself.

If that sounds familiar, it should. It was basically FDR's campaign strategy in 1932 as well as his slogan.

And that time has come again, to remind Americans that their fellow man/woman is not the enemy, but the rapacity of corporate America, guided, aided, and abetted by the Republican AND Democratic parties (and yes, I lump these so-called "outsiders" Obama and McCain in with them), and that what stands between them and their goals of security and happiness is not abortion rights or gay marriage or flying a Confederate flag over a state capitol, but the interlocking play of money and power.

Their inheritance, our inheritance, the American birthright of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, has been stolen by those whose power allows them to take it, assisted by those whom we elected nominally to protect us.

It is time to reclaim that dream once again. We have woken up, and we are not happy.

Monday, June 09, 2008

A New Paradigm

Now that the official campaign for President has kicked off in earnest, it is time to revisit my campaign for NotPresident once more.

There is a desperate need in this nation for solutions. It is clear from the rhetoric on both sides that confrontation will be the order of the day, despite both candidates' professed belief in inclusion and reconciliation.

After all, the hateful energy spewed during both primary campaigns could power a small city for a few years.

Democrats are saddled defending themselves against programs that were dismantled decades ago. This will be the trope John McCain will foist upon the American people and will do it often. We've already seen his attempts to link Barack Obama's solutions to the challenges facing us as "failed policies" dusted off.

Republicans are saddled with, well, defending themselves against programs that were dismantled decades ago, as well as programs thrust upon America in the past eight years and proved disastrous. Here, we see Obama link McCain closely to the Bush administration's "failures of the past" in foreign policy as well as its economic policy.

Both talk of bipartisan reforms, both talk of bipartisan solutions, and both have floated trial balloons about asking members of the opposing party to work in their administrations.

Bullshit, to be polite, in other words.

The real solutions to this country's problems lie not in the politics of the now, but in the course of the future. We need to go back to the future, and right away.

There was a time, 40 years ago, when this nation could do everything: win a war on poverty, fly men to the moon, dismantle racism in government, take on every challenge head on.

We need to get back to that future. We might need to forget ALL the policies of the past and the rampant inability of politicians to fix what's not broken, and move forward, confident that our solutions will solve those troubles jusy by being implemented.

Take the energy crisis. This is largely linked hand in hand with two other major crises: pollution and global warming. Solve the first, and you are well on the way to solving the latter two. We need a comprehensive energy policy that does away with protecting the oil companies and starts investing in the future, past peak oil, past ALL oil.

I would propose the following budgetary item be included in my first non-administration: a $1 billion dollar bounty payable to anyone, and I do mean anyone, who can demonstrate a truly renewable energy source-- solar, geothermal, wind, and so on-- that will create the same rate of BTUs as crude oil, in a form that is commercially viable.

This bounty would not be payable just once. It would be paid for each new energy resource that can be so demonstrated to the country's satisfaction. If you can develop a brand new way of harnessing wind on a commercially viable scale that is new and innovative, or takes a windmill one step farther, then you get your bounty. I figure there ought to be about ten of these that will have to be paid out.

No "cold fusion" debacles. We go for the gut this time. The reduction in cleaning up crude oil spills in the future alone ought to justify that bounty. We could lower taxes without even taking a vote, because this energy would be essentially untaxable: how do you justify taxing that which the planet provides us?

In other words, forget the political and economic infrastructure the past has foisted upon us, and move ahead with changes that will actually benefit people. Changes like this and the ones I will outline over the course of the next few months, would be the backbone of any non-campaign I might choose to not run.

Some would give people hope for change. I would offer change that matters, change that counts, change that is real change and not swapping horses in the middle of a race in the wrong direction. The time is now, the people are ready for change. We need to leave the failures of our government behind us and opt to see the world in new ways.

It will be scary, to be sure, but I also think the transition to this new nation would take place more smoothly than even I foresee. It is staggering the amount of information at our disposal that we don't even begin to comprehend, much less account for.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Thank You, Senator

Dear Hillary,

I am sad to hear of the suspension of your campaign. I think you could and would make a fine candidate for President, a formidable challenge to the right wing of this nation.

Right now, our nation is engaged in a great struggle over its soul. The failed policies of the Republicans still have inertia, because it's far easier to deal with the devil you know than the one you don't. We as progressives owe a duty to our forebears and must continue this fight. Unification is a bad idea right now, I think.

So much has been made by the nattering class about how you extended this race unnecessarily. I disagree. You fought for what you believed in, not what someone positioned you to believe in as a state legislator, and not for some doe-eyed rhetoric you copied off a cereal box during Black History Month.

By extending this race, you may have brought out somethings about the presumptive nominee that he would have preferred to keep under wraps, but here's the thing: by bringing them out now, you made his supporters fight that much harder, take that much more on in their support and while that may have blinded them to reality, it will serve them well come November. At least they will be in fighting shape for the inevitable October Surprises.

Too, by forcing Senator Obama to talk about specifics, you've shown he might actually have given some thought to the problems facing America. This is comforting, for while we may disagree with someone, we can respect that he's not flipping off the work. We need only look to President Bush to understand how dangerous that can be.

The most important outcome of your candidacy, perhaps it will be your Pyrrhic victory, is the acknowledgment, finally, that even the Democratic and Progressive movements are not fully free of misogyny. Just the comments at this blog alone demonstrate the hatred white men have towards you, but the Tennesee Guerilla Women can cite chapter and verse the hate spewed by the Obombersand their media co-horts.

Perhaps it's not race that needs a dialogue, but how fully half the population can be so denied of their legitimacy by the other half.

When those two numbnuts in New Hampshire (I think) held up an "Iron My Shirt" sign, people laughed.

Imagine if that sign had said "Pick My Cotton" at an Obama rally?

There, right there, is why you lost, Mrs. Clinton. Despite your overwhelming qualifications for the Presidency, despite your dynamic and well-thought-out agenda for your administration, despite every piece of evidence that says Senator Obama will be a disaster in the White House, if not just the campaign trail, you were the butt of savage sexist jokes.

He was not the subject of savage racist jokes, at least none that were accepted in the mainstream media. Even his pitiful speech on race, which so many have touted as a watershed in American politics, ultimately did nothing to advance the cause of equality, because the Senator did not even repudiate those on his side of the colour line who spew hatred towards America. And white women, so amply demonstrated by the Rev. Pfleger.

Or, if you believe Larry Johnson, his own wife!

I am sad to see you leave the race, and acknowledge your grace in doing so. I have said and have committed to support the Democratic nominee, and so I will pick up my cudgel and look out McCain supporters! Some beatings are about to commence!

But you, Senator, you shudda be da contender...