Mud Wrasslin’ Mr. Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh, GOP Swine

Rush Limbaugh, GOP Swine

Rush Limbaugh has been polluting the airwaves for 20 years now and early on, like a lot of other liberals I used to try and call in and actually debate him.   FOOL!  Limbaugh doesn’t “do” debate.    Like he’s going to be rattled by a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio?

Someone gave me some advice about Limbaugh.  “Why waste time trying to argue with someone who doesn’t take his own opinion seriously, let alone yours,”  the friend told me.  “Just remember, you’ve only got a few minutes on the air when you call in.  Rush always gets the last word.”

That was some good advice.  I stopped listening to Limbaugh and he stopped annoying me.  That was so easy!

I should have told President Obama.

The president recently made headlines when he told a group of Republicans at a White House meeting, “You can’t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done.”

Now why does the Most Powerful Man in the World wanna elevate a Oxycontin-addicted, cigar-chomping, Viagra gulping,  right-wing shock jock to the level of Leader of the Opposition?   Answer: He shouldn’t.  The best way to handle Limbaugh is to ignore his ass, not feed his ego.

Did Limbaugh jump like a fat frog on Obama name-checking him?   Of course he did both on the radio and in a National Review interview:

One prong of the Great Unifier’s plan is to isolate elected Republicans from their voters and supporters by making the argument about me and not about his plan. He is hoping that these Republicans will also publicly denounce me and thus marginalize me.

To make the argument about me instead of his plan makes sense from his perspective. Obama’s plan would buy votes for the Democrat Party, in the same way FDR’s New Deal established majority power for 50 years of Democrat rule, and it would also simultaneously seriously damage any hope of future tax cuts. It would allow a majority of American voters to guarantee no taxes for themselves going forward. It would burden the private sector and put the public sector in permanent and firm control of the economy. Put simply, I believe his stimulus is aimed at re-establishing “eternal” power for the Democrat Party rather than stimulating the economy because anyone with a brain knows this is NOT how you stimulate the economy. If I can be made to serve as a distraction, then there is that much less time debating the merits of this TRILLION dollar debacle.
What’s funny is how this fat fool thinks this is all about him.
The nation is fighting wars on two fronts. Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda remain threats to the U.S. In one day this week, over 44,000 Americans became jobless and this arrogant toad thinks the president is trying to get Republicans to “denounce and marginalize” HIM.

Unchecked ego, thy name is Limbaugh!

Corpulent conservative loves the country crack!

Corpulent conservative loves the country crack!

Limbaugh is just the leader of a pathetic pack of blowhards, talking heads and big mouths who have accomplished very little professionally beyond the ability to whip up people with little to no critical thinking skills. He makes millions to give his opinion to those too timid, too lazy or too stupid to form their own. That’s why his fans are called “Dittoheads.” Rush tells them what to think and all they have to do is say “Mega dittos, Rush.” He chortles at the joke he’s playing on the rubes and counts the dead presidents poured into his investment portfolio. At least when he’s not playing the world’s most unlikely man-whore or getting hooked on prescription drugs.

It’s impossible to embarrass Limbaugh or his slavering fans. You might as well ask a dog to meow. You have to develop a sense of shame and he had that surgically removed decades ago.

Actually, there are some very intelligent people who do listen to Limbaugh because they find him amusing. They like the way he mercilessly tweaks the Left for their foibles and failures. Nothing wrong with getting a laugh out of Limbaugh. After all, he’s far more of a comedian than he is a learned, serious political commentator. The problem is some people take Rush seriously and actually believe what he says matters.

It doesn’t. Rush Limbaugh is only as big as we make him. If conservatives think he’s a articulate, intelligent and serious advocates for their cause it’s no wonder they’ve been getting hammered like a nail in elections for the past four years.

The really funny thing is the Dittoheads are so delusional that they think a guy with a $400 million radio contract who tools around in a $54 million dollar private Gulfstream jet and says, “I don’t have guests on my show because I don’t care what other people think,” is a ordinary guy who’s just like them!

Rush in his Jeff Christie. days.  Nice hair, dude!

Rush in his "Jeff Christie." days. Nice hair, dude!

What can it be like to have more money than God, legions of loyal Dittoheads hanging on your every utterance, yawn and belch and still be so terribly insecure to think the President of the United States has personalized this fight with you?

The Right is out of power and running around like chickens with their heads cut off. The GOP has no strategy besides being The Grim Obstructionist Party and hoping like hell the voters will blame Obama and the Dems in 2010 if nothing gets done in Washington. The Republican brand has been overwhelmingly rejected by Americans four years running and since they’ve had little to show for it.

The president is going to have his share of victories and defeats.   What he shouldn’t have is any time to waste on mud-wrestling a pig like Rush Limbaugh, because as the joke goes, it only gets Obama dirty and the pig likes it.

Things I’ve Seen in the Dark.

Mall Cop is NOT on this list.

Sorry, "Paul Blart, Mall Cop" is NOT on this list.

Over at  Spill.com, one of the crew,  Cyrus , posted a list entitled, “What Movies Have You Seen?”   The list wasn’t the greatest movies of all time or even movies that were all that great.  But as I went down the list, it occurred to me that I’ve seen a lot of movies, but there’s quite a few I haven’t that I’ve meant to but haven’t gotten around too.

When I say I’ve “seen” a movie, that means I’ve watched it from the beginning, middle, to the end.   Otherwise, I could scratch Lawrence of Arabia or Thelma and Louise  from the list, but coming in for the last 30 minutes doesn’t count.

However, nothing is going to make me watch 2001.   I’ve tried twice and it’s bored me to sleep twice.  There won’t be a third time. 

It gives one pause to think of how much time you can spend in the dark watching movies.

The flicks I’ve seen are in bold.

 8 1/2
12 Angry Men
48 Hours

2001: A Space Odyssey
A Chistmas Story
A Clockwork Orange
A Fish Called Wanda
A Fistful of Dollars

A Night at the Opera
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Airplane!

Akira
Alice in Wonderland (1951)
Alien
Aliens

All About Eve
Amadeus
Amelie
American Beauty
American History X
An American in Paris
Animal House
Annie Hall
Apocalypse Now

Arthur
Back to the Future
Beetlejuice
Being There

Ben-Hur
Better off Dead
Beverly Hills Cop
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls
Big
Big Trouble in Little China
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
Blade Runner
Blazing Saddles
Blood Simple

Blue Velvet
Bowling for Columbine
Braveheart

Brazil
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Breathless (1960)
Bride of Frankenstein
Bringing Up Baby
Bullitt
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Caddyshack
Carrie (1976)
Casablanca

Cat People (1942)
Children of Men
Chinatown

Cinema Paradiso
Citizen Kane
City Lights
City of God
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Cool Hand Luke
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Dancer in the Dark
Dark City
Das Boot
Dawn of the Dead (The original)
Dazed and Confused
Dead Alive (aka Braindead)
Dead Man
Delicatessen
Deliverance
Die Hard

Diner
Dirty Harry
Dog Day Afternoon

Donnie Darko
Do the Right Thing
Double Indemnity
Dr. No

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Dracula (1931)

Duck Soup
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Election

Eraserhead
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Evil Dead 2
Fantasia
Fargo
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Fight Club
Finding Nemo
Fist of Legend
Fletch
Forrest Gump
Four Weddings and a Funeral
Frankenstein
Freaks
Friday
Friday the 13th
Gandhi

Ghost World
Ghostbusters
Giant
Glengarry Glen Ross
Goldfinger
Goodfellas

Groundhog Day
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
Halloween

Harold and Maude
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Harvey
Heat
Heathers

High Fidelity
High Noon
His Girl Friday
I Walked With a Zombie (1943)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Iron Man
It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

It’s a Wonderful Life
Jacob’s Ladder
Jaws
Jurassic Park
King Kong (1933)
Kung Fu Hustle
LA Confidential
Lawrence of Arabia
Leon (The Professional)
Lethal Weapon

Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels
Logan’s Run
M
M*A*S*H

Mad Max
Marathon Man

Mary Poppins
Memento
Midnight Cowboy
Modern Times
Mommie Dearest
Monty Python’s Life of Brian
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Moulin Rouge
Murderball
My Fair Lady
National Lampoon’s Vacation
Network

Ninja Scroll
No Country for Old Men
North by Northwest

Oldboy
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Pan’s Labyrinth
Papillion
Patton

Pitch Black
Planet of the Apes (1968)
Police Academy
Police Story
Poltergeist
Porky’s
Pretty Woman
Psycho
Pulp Fiction
Raging Bull

Raiders of the Lost Ark
The Legend of Drunken Master (aka Drunken Master II)
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Raising Arizona
Rashomon
Rear Window
Rebecca
Rebel Without a Cause
Requiem for a Dream
Resevoir Dogs

Rio Bravo
Rocky
Run Lola Run
Saving Private Ryan
Scarface (1983)
Schindler’s List

Scream
Se7en
Sense and Sensibility
Serenity
Seven Samurai
Shaft
Shane
Shaun of the Dead
Shrek

Singin’ in the Rain
Sixteen Candles
Slumdog Millionaire
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Some Like It Hot
Spatacus
Speed
Spiderman
Spiderman 2

Spirited Away
Stand By Me
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Star Wars
Strangers on a Train

Straw Dogs
Stripes
Sullivan’s Travels
Sunset Boulevard
Superman
Superman II

Suspiria
Taxi Driver
Terminator II
The 40 Year Old Virgin
The African Queen

The Apartment
The Big Lebowski
The Big Sleep
The Birds
The Breakfast Club
The Bridge on the River Kwai

The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari (1920)
The Commitments
The Conversation
The Crow
The Dark Knight
The Day the Earth Stood Still

The Deer Hunter
The Dirty Dozen

The Elephant Man
The Empire Strikes Back
The Exorcist
The French Connection
The Fugitive

The General
The General (1927)
The Godfather
The Godfather Part II
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
The Graduate

The Grapes of Wrath
The Great Escape
The Hustler
The Incredibles
The Iron Giant
The Killer
The Ladykillers (1955)
The Lion King
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
The Magnificent Seven
The Maltese Falcon

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
The Matrix

The Muppet Movie
The Nightmare Before Christmas
The Night of the Hunter
The Philadelphia Story
The Pink Panther (1963)
The Princess Bride
The Ring
The Road Warrior

The Rocky Horror Picture Show
The Searchers
The Shawshank Redemption
The Shining
The Silence of the Lambs
The Sixth Sense (1999)

The Sound of Music
The Sting
The Sweet Hereafter
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
The Thin Man
The Thing (1982)
The Third Man
The Toxic Avenger
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
The Usual Suspects
The Wild Bunch
The Wizard of Oz

Thelma and Louise
There’s Something About Mary
This is Spinal Tap
Titanic
Tootsie
Touch of Evil
Toy Story
Trading Places
Training Day

Trainspotting
Twelve Monkeys
Unbreakable
Unforgiven
Vertigo
Videodrome
West Side Story

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
When Harry Met Sally
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Wings of Desire
X2: X-Men United
Yojimbo
Young Frankenstein

It’s a Blackface thing (you wouldn’t understand).

Should a white man playing a black man win a gold award?

Should a white man playing a black man win a gold award?

 

I’ve always believed the two hardest emotions to get across in a movie are fear and humor.   Either you’re scared or you’re not.  Either you’re laughing or you’re not.    It’s that simple.

Robert Downey Jr.  playing a self-absorbed Australian White actor Kirk Lazarus playing Lincoln Osiris, a Black sergeant in Vietnam in Tropic Thunder  made me laugh.   God knows Downey’s co-stars, Ben Stiller and Jack Black never have.   But whenever Downey is on-screen as “a dude playing a dude disguised as another dude” I’m laughing hard and long.     

So when Downey’s name was called as one of the five nominees for this years Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, I wasn’t mad at him.   For sentimental reasons and because it was a better performance, I hope Heath Ledger wins for his portrayal of The Joker in The Dark Knight.   Frankly, I stopped giving a damn about the Oscars years ago and I don’t watch any award shows.   I’m mildly interested when a performance from a film I’ve actually seen is nominated.   Just not enough to care so much I’m going to tune in and watch.

As things turned out when Tropic Thunder, there were some protests about its political incorrectness, but it was from advocates of the mentally ill who objected to Stiller’s portrayal of them as his “Simple Jack” character and the advice from Sgt. Osiris that an actor should “never go full retard” if they hoped to cop an Oscar.  

Of course, now that the Academy actually has nominated Downey for putting on Blackface to play Sgt. Osiris,  there has been the first small signs of a backlash.

Writing in his blog for the Los Angeles Times,  Scott Feinberg, a Hollywood film analyst decried Downey’s nomination coming on the same week America inaugurated its first Black president as horribly bad taste and timing:

“Look I get it—I’m no bluenose prude–it’s so absurd and over-the-top that it’s not meant to be taken seriously.  Still, I can’t help but feel a certain degree of shock and dismay that the academy might well hold up and nominate this type of performance, regardless of its intentions, in the 21st century, and just two days after Barack Obama is sworn into office and becomes our nation’s first black president.”

“You can sugarcoat it all you want, but blackface is blackface.  The fact of the mater is that top actors, like Downey,  have given performances in blackface in successful films since the birth of filmaking.  Many of them have gotten laughs.  Many of them have been done rather skillfully.  And all of them have been justified by their practitioners as acceptable for one reason or another.  The passage of time and the growth of understanding in this country have helped up recognize that the vast majority were not.”    L.A. Times

I understand where Feinberg is coming from and I agree with him up  to a point.  There’s a big difference between Al Jolson cooning it up  in The Jazz Singer and C. Thomas Howell in Soul Man

Bad blackface.  Bad actor. Bad movie.  Just plain bad.

Bad blackface. Bad actor. Bad movie. Just plain bad.

I don’t go out of my way looking to be offended, but nothing about Downey’s Lincoln Osiris bothered me in the least.  He never took it seriously and the charcter of rapper Alpo Chino (Brandon T. Jackson) served as the go-to guy  reminding Kirk Lazarus (and the audience) who the real soul brother here was.  

Downey seems to have recognized he was treading a thin line between being funny and offensive.

“It was odd.  I had such trepidation fully trusting (the character) could be reprsented well enough that it wouldn’t be troublesome.  That people would get the joke.  We were always on some level wondering if people will misunderstood our intention.  I feel this award is one for the team.  We worked (hard) to give it the right tone.”

Downey knew there is a difference between putting on blackface and making people laugh at Blacks and making them laugh at him.  To their credit director Stiller and his screenwriting partner Justin Theroux counterbalanced Downey with the presence of Jackson as a reminder that this was a White actor playing a Black man the way he thought a Black man would act and sound.

   Tropic Thunder works so well precisely because the audience never thinks Downey is Black.   When the mythical movie of the story is over,  Lazarus can “drop character” and return to Australia, but Alpa Chino will still be the only genuine Black man (and a gay one too).   

Feinberg was blasted by screenwriter and essayist John Ridely in The Huffington Post as a humorless, politically correct liberal.  Maybe Feinberg just needs a reminder that racial comedy doesn’t have to be racist.   

Feinberg references a August 23, 2008  article by The Guardian’s John Patterson that delves deeper into the planning that went into the creation of Osiris, but he should have read a little further.  It might have quieted some of his fears that the role would be racially troublesome.

It’s a good thing they cast someone as intelligent and instinctively brilliant as Downey, though the actor was rightly nervous about grasping the nettle of American racism so tightly. As he told Entertainment Weekly, he even felt there was a chance his reputation might be “destroyed”. “That was my fear,” he revealed.

Downey’s role is hedged in all around with caveats that make it abundantly clear that the joke is on Kirk Lazarus alone. First up, there’s a real African-American character, named Alpa Chino and played by Brandon T Jackson, who’s ready to call Lazarus on his method bullshit. Offscreen, Jackson also nixed the script’s lone use of the N-word, a change Downey thoroughly endorsed.     The Guardian (U.K.)

It’s a ballsy move for any actor to put on blackface and had either of Downey’s co-stars,  Stiller or Black tried playing the role of Osiris it would have gone over like a fart in a elevator.   Downey is a superior actor and a very likable one who was just  coming off a redemptive comeback and major hit in Iron Man.   If anyone was primed to pull off this delicate juggling act, it was Downey.

When playing dress-up goes too far.

When playing dress-up goes too far.

Look, I don’t want to see Meryl Streep get her next mandatory Academy Award nomination for playing Coretta Scott King.    This isn’t likely to start a trend of Black actors being replaced by White actors in blackface.  

But let’s stop using Barack Obama as the excuse why something isn’t cool anymore.   Maybe there’s another worthy performance that was overlooked because Downey spent an extra hour in the tanning booth.   Criticize his nomination for that reason instead of saying “We’ve got a Black president now so we can’t do that now.”

We can find enough serious stuff that actually means something to get hot and bothered over than actors playing dress-up.   Keep telling yourself, “It’s only a movie….it’s only a movie…”

“President Barack Obama.” Deal With It.

America is an Obamanation

Fantasy is reality: America is an Obamanation

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around … when yellow will be mellow … when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right. That all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen.

The closing remarks from the benediction delivered Reverend Joseph Lowery at the inauguration of President Barack Obama, January 20, 2009

Hey, George W. Bush is GONE.   Damned if those eight years didn’t drag by like a turtle with sore feet.  How fitting however that Evil Dick Cheney, laid low by a bad back from moving boxes (and probably burying a final few bodies) had to spend his last day in power in a wheelchair.  Well, he always did remind me of Dr. Strangelove.

But the Bush Administration is part of the past and frankly, that’s exactly where I’m happy to leave them.  This is not their time.  It’s our time.

Or to be more precise, it’s President Barack Obama’s time.

The president signs a bill making it illegal to Ann Coulter to write another crappy book.

The president signs a bill making it illegal for Ann Coulter to write more crappy books.

Despite Chief Justice John Roberts flubbing his lines (and causing the president to step all over his), we got a new president out of all of yesterday’s pomp and circumstance.

Heaven help him.

There is a time for soaring rhetoric and there is a time for sober appraisal. President Obama’s inauguration speech reflected some of the former and quite a bit of the latter. Even the most rabid Republican has to admit George W. Bush left quite a mess behind. Maybe his staffers didn’t take the “O” off of keyboards as the mischief-makers of Bill Clinton’s staff did eight years ago, but theirs plenty on the new president’s “to do”list.

The speech reflected that. I wasn’t inspired, but I didn’t need to be. All I had to do was reflect on my sister-in-law, a breast cancer survivor, who took my two nephews with her on a church bus that was scheduled to roll into D.C. around 4:00 am. Why would anyone want to travel hundreds of miles to huddle in 25 degree temperatures with probably only a port-a-potty available for a restroom break?

Because Barack H. Obama is the 44th President of the United States.  Because my sister-in-law inspires me  despite the troubles and burdens life throws in her way, she keeps on believing, hoping and being one of those people who make the world a better place.

I think the president would like my sister-in-law very much.

Aretha Franklin and the hat that started a thousand blog posts

Aretha Franklin and the hat that started a thousand blog posts

Aretha Franklin…sigh. Welcome to the latest installment of Soul Singers with Shot Pipes.  I’d like to be nice about it but God, she was HORRIBLE!  Couldn’t hit the notes.  Couldn’t stay on key.  And couldn’t she have wore a hat that didn’t look like an alien life form?

Wasn’t Beyonce available? I would have settled for Miley Cyrus…waitaminnit. No. I take that back.

I fell asleep and missed the inaugural poem. From what I’ve heard and read that was probably a smart move. Maybe next time we can have an inaugural rap? Jay-Z can do, “I got 99 problems but a tax cut ain’t one of ’em.”

Michelle looked great. It’s going to be fun to watch the kids growing up. Even Joe Biden looks like he’s having a good time. A fresh start will do that.

Oh, and anybody that took offense at Joe Lowery’s remarks really has no sense of humor (or history). Maybe that was just a Black thing and some of y’all just wouldn’t understand.

Too Black?  Too Strong?  Too Much Truth?

Reverend Lowery: Too Black? Too Strong? Too Much Truth?

Lowery understands what a Black president means. It means Blacks don’t have to get back, get back, get back. They can conquer the limitations both self-imposed and external.

The good reverend was celebrating how far we’ve come from those days.

But all some people heard was race and not the point. Damn shame that, but sooner or later, those folks will catch up. If they don’t they’ll be left so far behind they won’t even know how it happened.

King to Obama, Soul to Soul, Brother to Brother

The Audacity of Hope Makes it to the Mountaintop

The Audacity of Hope Makes it to the Mountaintop

You don’t have to be a student of history to delight in the sweet symmetry of celebrating the dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. the day before Barack Hussein Obama becomes the 44th President of the United States.

Dr. King was a preacher, not a politician, but he knew the value of both prayer and politics to advance the cause of Negroes.  He would have been 80 years old had he lived to see Obama take the presidential oath of office.   I won’t play the game of “what if” King had lived.  I’ll speculate that he would be both very tired but very happy to see how much of his dream had come to pass.

When you still have young Black men like Oscar Grant III shot in the back by a trigger-happy transit cop, it’s just a reminder that we have not all overcome.   Not that most Black folks needed any. 

The ascent of Obama with all the pomp and circumstance that comes with an inauguration is a reason to believe change is possible.  But the dismally predicatable revelation that Black-on-Black homicide has increased in the past decade comes as no surprise to anyone who still reads a big city newspaper, watches the evening news or seen a episode of “The First 48.”   Black life is still too cheap and too many of us don’t value it. 

Today and tomorrow aren’t for listing the various ills, problems and troubles of  Black life in America.   These two days should be a time of reflecting back and looking ahead.   Days like these are best spent considering how far we have come and how much we have accomplished.     There is always enough time to assess where we come up short.

Direct action is not a substitute for work in the courts and the halls of government. Bringing about passage of a new and broad law by a city council, state legislature, or the Congress, or pleading cases before the courts of the land, does not eliminate the necessity for bringing about the mass dramatization of injustice in front of a city hall.

Indeed, direct action and legal action complement one another. When skillfully employed, each becomes more effective.

When evil men plot, good men must plan. When evil men burn and bomb, good men must build and bind. When evil men shout ugly words of hatred, good men must commit themselves to the glories of love.

Where evil men would seek to perpetuate an unjust status quo, good men must seek to bring into being a real order of justice.

I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, quality and freedom for their spirit. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down, other-centered men can build up.

The future is filled with vast and marvelous possibilities. This is a great time to be alive. Let us not despair.  And let us go out and work with renewed vigor to make the unfolding work of destiny a reality in our generation.

~ Martin Luther King Jr.

Brothers gonna work it out.

Brothers gonna work it out.

…at some point, I know that one of my daughters will ask, perhaps my youngest, will ask, “Daddy, why is this monument here? What did this man do?”

What did Martin Luther King, Jr. Do?
How might I answer them?

Unlike the others commemorated in this place, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was not a president of the United States – at no time in his life did he hold public office. He was not a hero of foreign wars. He never had much money, and while he lived he was reviled at least as much as he was celebrated.

By his own accounts, he was a man frequently racked with doubt, a man not without flaws, a man who, like Moses before him, more than once questioned why he had been chosen for so arduous a task – the task of leading a people to freedom, the task of healing the festering wounds of a nation’s original sin.

And yet lead a nation he did. Through words he gave voice to the voiceless. Through deeds he gave courage to the faint of heart. By dint of vision, and determination, and most of all faith in the redeeming power of love, he endured the humiliation of arrest, the loneliness of a prison cell, the constant threats to his life, until he finally inspired a nation to transform itself, and begin to live up to the meaning of its creed.

Like Moses before him, he would never live to see the Promised Land. But from the mountain top, he pointed the way for us – a land no longer torn asunder with racial hatred and ethnic strife, a land that measured itself by how it treats the least of these, a land in which strength is defined not simply by the capacity to wage war but by the determination to forge peace – a land in which all of God’s children might come together in a spirit of brotherhood.

The man we honor today did what God required. In the end, that is what I will tell my daughters – I will leave it to their teachers and their history books to tell them the rest.

As Dr. King asked to be remembered, I will tell them that this man gave his life serving others. I will tell them that this man tried to love somebody. I will tell them that because he did these things, they live today with the freedom God intended, their citizenship unquestioned, their dreams unbounded.

And I will tell them that they too can love. That they too can serve. And that each generation is beckoned anew, to fight for what is right, and strive for what is just, and to find within itself the spirit, the sense of purpose, that can remake a nation and transform a world.

~ Barack Obama, 2006 at the groundbreaking ceremony for the MLK National Memorial.

Super Bowl 43: Irresistable Forces, Unmovable Objects

Forget Owens and Moss.  Fitzgerald is the best receiver in the NFL.

Forget Owens and Moss. Fitzgerald is the best receiver in the NFL.

If you go back to last fall’s NFL previews, more than a few prognosticators probably pegged the Pittsburgh Steelers as a likely finalist for Super Bowl 43 in Tampa. 

Nobody would have predicted their opponent would be the Arizona Cardinals and I’ll call anyone who says differently a lying bastard to their face.  In a conference filled with the New York Giants, Washington Redskins, Minnesota Vikings, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints and the Dallas Choking Dogs, the Cardinals,  the tallest midget in the puny NFC West was doing well just showing  up in the playoffs.

Somebody must have forgotten to tell them.  Despite playing like crap in the final month of the regular season, the Cards took flight in the NFL’s second season and beat the Falcons, Panthers, and Eagles to claim the all-expenses paid trip to Tampa. 

The Cardinals enter the match a 6 point underdog to the five-time Super Bowl champion Steelers.  That sounds about right.  With thier efficient offense and devastating defense, led my NFL Defensive Player of the Year linebacker James Harrison, Pittsburgh doesn’t dazzle  with style as much as it bludgeons with brutality its opponents into quivering  submission.    Kind of the way the Cleveland Browns do twice a season when the Steelers punks them.

Why is Harrison beating up a Browns fan?  Probably because he got bored beating up The Browns.

Why is Harrison beating up a Browns fan? Probably because he got bored beating up The Browns.

 

I don’t  have a dog in this fight (and as long as my 49ers continue to suck as consistently as they have for the last ten years I won’t anytime soon), but I find myself cheering on a player if not the teams, and that’s Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald who has been one of the best players nobody but football freaks knows about. 

Fitzgerald doesn’t have any commercials like Peyton Manning and he doesn’t hang out in strip clubs and shoot himself in the leg like Plaxico Burress or is team-killing, “me first” self-centered egotistical asshole like Terrell Owens.  He may be the most complete package of size, speed, strength and hustle the NFL has seen in a damn long time.  Throw it over his head and he goes up for it and throw it near him and he catches him.  Football is a hard game for one player to dominate the way a Kobe Bryant or LeBron James singlehandedly can dominate on a basketball court, but Fitzgerald has raised his game to their kind of level.

Long one of the sorriest franchises in professional sports, the Cards leave that small circle of teams that have never appeared in a Super Bowl (sorry, Browns, Lions, Saints and Texans).    The Super Bowl match-up isn’t even a day old and already there are grumblings that the upstart Cardinals don’t belong on the same field as the Steelers.   It’s true none  of the teams the Cards beat play “D” like the Steelers, but do have an offense that gives them a chance to hang with them.

Just not for four quarters.   Steelers: 24  Cardinals: 17

Yeah, it’s a fire hazard, but put another candle on the cake.

Happy Birthday to...ME!

Happy Birthday to...ME!

 

Today is my birthday.  How old I am is none of your business, but let’s just say when I buy a six-pack of beer I don’t get asked for I.D. all that often.   I’m at that age as my father used to say,  “It’s a good day if you get out of bed and everything gets out with you.”

It’s pretty cool to have your birthday in January.   You get it out of the way early when it’s in the first month of the year and it cuts down on the wait time.  My wife and younger brother are also January babies, which is cool since I can buy their birthday cards at the same time and save time.

Mine is in-between birthday.  Born the day after Martin Luther King Jr. and the day before Muhammad Ali.

And Al Capone.  

And Benjamin Franklin.

 

The First Lady and whatshisname.

The First Lady and whatshisname.

And Michelle Obama (Happy Birthday Mrs. Obama, our brand new Nubian Queen and First Lady)

The only famous person (or at least the only famous person that means anything to me) I share a birthday with is the singer, Sade.

Hey baby, where's my birthday card?

Hey baby, where's my birthday card?

Every year I wish her a happy birthday (she turns 50 today) and every year she ignores me.   I’d love it if she would only acknowledge my existence with a birthday card.   However, at this point I’d be willing to settle for a new album.

My plans for the day aren’t grandoise.   It’s something like -15 degrees outside so that cuts out any outdoor fun and games,  but I’ll probably come home from work, grab a few hours of sleep, go to lunch with my wife, get a new tire for my car, see if my daughter bakes a cake for me and my son calls from college to wish me “Happy Birthday” and then meet my siblings at a bar on the Ohio State University campus called Mad Mex that features $6 “Big Azz”  margaritas  that are so big you need two urinary tracts.   At least that’s what they claim.   I’ll make sure I have at least $12 and I’ll bring back a report (if I can).

Everything’s different now. Except that it’s not.

Once upon a time there was a president named Obama...

"Once upon a time there was a president named Obama..."

In the wake of Barack Obama becoming the President of the United States, a debate has begun in artistic quarters what it means to elect a Black man to the highest office in the land and what in turn it means to African-Americans.

As someone who fancies themselves as a writer with some talent however small and as an impassioned supporter of the president-elect, I feel a sense of pride in America and possibilities that I had not before.

But let’s not kid ourselves that everything is different now, because it’s not.

I hate to rain on anyone’s parade, but the personal success of one man does not mean everything is now sweetness and light for 30 million African-Americans. Last time I looked there was still racism, still a lack of adequate housing, access to healthcare and work and educational opportunity.

None of that stopped because Obama won.

I’ve been accused of being “angry” and seeing everything through a distorted lens of race. I don’t totally deny either of these accusations.

I am angry about a lot of things. Darfur makes me angry. George W. Bush and his horrid response in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina makes me angry. It makes no sense to me that Baghdad can be rebuilt and New Orleans can’t.

Violence against women and children makes me mad. Kiddie porn and child molesters makes me want to hurt someone. Jews and Palestinians butchering each other and Black-on-Black crime ruins my day. Racism, sexism and homophobia ticks me off. Stupidity and corruption and waste by politicians and bureaucrats make me want to haul off and slap someone.

Get out of bed in the morning, turn on the TV and within five minutes you can find a pretty good reason to get angry.

But that doesn’t mean I’m a negative person. Anger makes me passionate and passion makes me a better writer. Some of my best work comes when I’m most pissed off.

Which is why I have to shoot down this absurd wet dream that one day last November the majority of White Americans woke up and decided to make a Black man the next president.

Didn’t quite happen that way, folks.

I’m sure Obama is quite grateful for all the support he got from White voters. But it’s not just an exaggeration to suggest his victory rested upon waves of White voters. It’s not even remotely true.

Black people and Brown people registered and voted in huge numbers and they voted for Obama. The attempt to overstate Obama’s White support comes only by diminishing the role Blacks and Latinos played in the election of the nation’s first Black president.

White voters? A lot of them stayed home. They didn’t put a Black man in the White House.

The fact of the matter is Barack Obama did not get 50 percent of the White vote and in fact, lost it to John McCain. Barack Obama got substantial support from Whites says, but far from a majority.

White people still have a bit further to go into voting for non-White candidates. They’ve come a long way, baby. They aren’t quite there yet.

Barack Obama is not your “Get Out of Racism Jail” free card.

Barack Obama won despite the lack of White support, not because of it.

At the end of all the whooping and hollering, let’s not overstate what happened. We elected a new Chief Executive, not Christ the Savior. We can be giddy over the first Black president, but he didn’t come equipped with super-powers or a magic wand.

The suggestion that a Black president means the end of racism as an obstacle to the progress of Black people is absurd on its face. How does this happen? The Right has derided Barack Obama by calling him “the Messiah.” Well, has he used his Barack power to reach into the mind, heart and soul of every White person in the country and squeezed the racism out of them?

If he could do that he really would be the Messiah, wouldn’t he?

Ha-ha.  Not funny.  Not the Messiah either.

Ha-ha. Not funny. Not the Messiah either.


Race still matters here. So does racism.

However, the election of Obama is the strongest indicator ever that if racism isn’t quite dead, it’s dying a slow death. I applaud that so many White people chose not to play identify politics, but to choose hope and change instead of four more years of the status quo.

The country has taken a great leap forward. We are closer today to Dr. King’s Promised Land than ever before. America is a very different country today than it was yesterday. NEVER AGAIN can it be said that Americans can not see past the color of the skin of a candidate and instead make a choice based upon the content of the character.

But do not delude yourself that there are no more real grievances African-Americans have to face based upon their race.

It’s tempting to believe the America Black people woke up to the day after the election is vastly different from the one they’ve been sleeping in since 1619 when the first Negroes landed at Jamestown.

Tempting—and wrong. The personal triumph of one African-American man doesn’t mean 30 million others all share in it. It’s great to be proud of the first Black president, but you still have to make the car payment.

The regularly scheduled deliveries of drugs, weapons and hopelessness to urban neighborhoods were made on time the day after Obama won and the day after that. Brothers didn’t pull up their pants, put down their guns and pick up the phone to wish their baby mamas a Happy Mother’s Day and promise to bring a box of Pampers on their next visit.

The corporate media didn’t stop flooding the radio and theaters and televisions with a steady stream of negative stereotypes and subliminal messages of how totally screwed up we are.

Black people didn’t stop killing, cursing, beating, exploiting and hating each other. The birthrate didn’t go down and the SAT scores go up. The prison doors didn’t open and the one in nine black men locked up didn’t walk out free and the unequal laws that put many of there weren’t repealed.

In fact, the morning after Obama won felt pretty much like any other day.

Except, maybe a few dozen people felt a little more at home in America than the day before and maybe they spread that feeling to a few hundred and they spread it to a few thousand and they spread it to a few million and…you get where I’m going here?

Everything is different.

Except that it’s not. We have not overcome. Not just yet.