Friday, November 21, 2008

This is what it sounds like when turkeys cry...

So, if you're wondering what Al-Palin is up to these days, check out this news clip.
And is that a turkey being slaughtered the background? You betcha! Not for the squeamish.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Barack Obama: House Negro?

Uh hello, infidels, remember us? Axis of Evil? The ones with the totally awesome videos?

If you missed it, your President-elect, Barack Obama, just got called an "abeed al-beit" by Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri. That means house slave, if you're wondering. Now, before we call Al Sharpton and start the cave sit-in (by the way Al's got his own problems), we have to take a second to absorb the significance of this moment.

The President of the United States just got called a house slave.




See, Whitefolks, that's what happens when you elect a Black man to be President. Before you know it, the leader of the free world is calling himself a mutt, Italians are joking that he's got a suntan, and terrorists are laughing behind your back. Welcome to the family!
And far be it for me to make light of the threat of Al-Qaeda, but I've been more concerned by the threat of Al-Palin.

Please take that away.

Plus, you know Obama can't take this personal. Until he won there was still a lot of Black folks saying that he wasn't really Black.

C'mon now, you know I was just playing.

And Al-Qaeda is just trying to make sense of this paradigm shift that Obama has brought into the world. The conflict with the West has been framed as being about race and religion, but now the enemy is a Black man with a Muslim father. That confuses things. The house Negro thing is a pretty sophisticated play--especially eluding to Malcolm X--but ultimately nobody's going for it. We know house Negroes:




Misathink yes.

I know, I know. But: yes.
Obama ain't one of these cats. This week Neobama ran a background check on a former President, hired a Black man to head the Justice Department, and made John McCain beg for a job. That's field Negro behavior.

You mad, ain't you? For real. Just admit it. You maaaaaaaaad.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Barack has accepted your friend request

I read this article in Slate today that talked about Obama and how his new website is going to be like a kind of Facebook for citizens. It will have public comment feature that will allow people to write in and express their opinions. He has promised that he won't sign any non-emergency piece of legislation before he listens for four days on the website. That may or may not be a mistake, but it shows how Obama's work as a community organizer has helped his approach towards dealing with the public.

Bush and those guys could paralyze the nation, but they didn't know how to call people to constructive action. One of the things that people love about Obama is how just his presence makes them want to do something.

It's like we're all tenants in the building and the old super was an incompetent crook and the new old super looks like he might be an incompetent crook. Obama comes in and organizes a renter's strike around the table of a thickly bespectacled grandmother. We all pool our money and buy the building back. And at the end we all get together and have a barbecue? You know that story? Well, that was the election. Now we're entering the second part of that story. Now Barack is our new super and Ms. Coleman's shower head is broken and Mr. Johnson still doesn't have heat in his living room and everyone knows that Mrs. Banks' son is selling marijuana out of her apartment without her knowing. And where is that new Super!

We're not there yet, but I can feel it coming. Perhaps Obama has banked on that too. He knows that the traditional methods of disemminating information, particularly the cable news, have a tendency towards sensationalism and know much better how to titilate and frighten, than how to inform.
Mr. O knows that even though the press has celebrated his election, the press is still the press. They're not eating if they're not feasting on someone else's carcass. (I know because I used to be a(n) (in)credible journalist, by the way.) Besides, the media is going to want some kind of pay back for all the favorable attention. They're going to want to see something happen. Preferably, something dramatic and something that will get the tenants riled up again.
During the campaign, Obama effectively used his technology networks to get around the drama construction and to help people feel involved. If he does the same with the new government site, it will allow citizens to give their support and to have a new type of relationship with the White House. Maybe people would start getting the crazy idea that the White House is our house, not some politician's.

But I wonder how much of this project will be real and how much of it will be perception management. This network will be important in advocating for his agenda, but another important reason for this kind of network  to lay the financial and logistical groundwork for (aghast!) the next campaign. (Haven't you heard that it has already begun?)

Personally, I'm glad Barack was able to win the way he did, but it's hard for me to get excited about all of the money that he raised. If he could do it, someone else could also do it. Someone else with a great deal less character could be extremely dangerous. I always wonder about Biggie's words: Mo' money, mo' problems.

And although I appreciate his caution with the press, the thing with him announcing his VP by text message signaled that he didn't feel the need to talk to the news media. Like he was cutting the press out and taking his message right to the "consumer." That sounds like a smart business model, but not necessarily democracy. Democracy can't exist without a free press to inform the electorate. Without a sceptical press that has critical access to this popular figure, the whole Obama network thing seems more like a cult.
Obama has shown that he has the power to shut out the press at will, but if he wants to be successful, especially in the long term, he's going to have to be much more transparent than any president in the last few decades. Bush taught the American people a lot of bad lessons about what a President can and cannot do. Basically, the President can do whatever he feels like and is under no obligation to tell you jack. I know Obama's different, but one of his first actions is going to have to be one of his most painful: reining in executive power. And the only way to do that constructively is to let the press shine some sunlight into that office and expose how much damage the executive branch has done to the balance of powers over the past decade. Obama is going to want to close the door and fix it himself, but he's got to restrain the impulse and not shut the press out, no matter how irritating they may be.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Mutts like me

I don't want this blog to turn into a whole Obama/Stan thing where I just talk about him all the time. Besides, Misstra Knowitall has many interests (see them on the top right of the page?) and I didn't help get out the vote or canvas or knock on any doors or drive old ladies to the polls or any of that, so I can't even act like I helped get him elected (besides my vote). Plus, I thought that the election thing would be the end of this very compelling story line. Now that he's President, I figured everything would go back to normal.

But, no. We got to know Obama as a candidate and now we get the distinct privilege of getting to know him as an actual President. That didn't dawn on me until I saw him in his press conference today.

...and by the way, the price of the package is going up.

The press conference made me nervous because I wondered how he might perform with all the pressure he was under, but then I remembered that this dude is, in the words of Phife Dog, "like Jordan on the mic--want to gamble?" And that's an understatement. Jordan only played basketball. Even though he was great, he didn't change the game like Obama already has. Obama hasn't just changed the game, he's changed The Game. He's like the Neo of racism.

Slow your roll.

Only a brother as smooth as him could be so brilliant and biting and funny when one of the reporters asked him about what kind of dog the Obamas were going to have at the White House. Everyone wants to know because when you live in the White House you have to have some kind of domesticated animal. Hopefully not a dog like Bush's psycho dog, Barney, who tried to maul a reporter's hand the other day, but something.

I probably need to be put to sleep.

Nixon had Checkers, Reagen had Rex (whose dog house was dedicated by Zza Zza Gabor, uh...random), and Clinton had Socks (BTW: Has anyone seen this cat lately?).
Seriously, does anybody know where I am?

The pet is our reminder that these are actual people who live in this White house and that they are supposed to have some kind of normal life. So, what of the Obama dog?

What I love about our President-elect is that he laid out his criteria for the new dog thusly: It's got to be hypoallergenic because of Malia's allergy and he would prefer it were a shelter dog, which means it would probably be a mutt, "like me," he says--perfectly deadpanned. That was a deadly moment. That was a Dave Chapelle moment.

All the (mostly White) moneypeople behind Barack didn't know whether to laugh or act like they didn't hear him. He gave a hint of a grin that let everyone knew it was okay, but there was that Moment. And I love that he is totally aware of how jarring it is for the American people to hear that their President is a mutt. A damn mutt.

This red pill is shiznit!

Oh, but why did he have to start snapping on Nancy Reagan like that?
I swear I seen Rahm Emmanuel slapping him five when they walked off stage.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Obama Hangover

So, now what?

At school today, the only thing students were talking about was this incredible man named Barack and how he is the president and how many states he won and how he was a Black man and how he was a BLACK man and how he was a BLACK MAN and how he was also a Brother. Any lesson plan that I had planned that didn't involve this incredible man was not getting learned on a day where students were engaged in a heated discussion about the final tallies of the electoral college. These children, who are often given so many reasons to not believe and to not hope, know that something special has happened and that it has the power to transform their lives. Today they didn't need me to educate them on the significance of current events. And I have to admit that it was an strange feeling.

It's kind of similar to the feeling I had standing in the basement of La Val's pizza in 1992, watching two kids play the newly-released Mortal Kombat. The game was the bloodiest anyone had ever seen and the graphics seemed light years ahead of the old standard, Street Fighter II. As one of the combatants reached into the chest of his opponent and pulled out his still-beating heart, I had an odd moment of melancholy.

I had spent many hours and dollars training on Street Fighter II. I knew how to use the characters (Blanka, the Brazillian man-dog was a favorite) and knew all the tricks and joystick moves it took to beat everyone but the most experienced players.

But standing there, surrounded by the smells of pepperoni pizza and powdered Parmesan cheese, I realized that it was all over. There was a new game, with all new rules, and a completely different paradigm. Everything I had known was moot.

Similarly, before this election I had a certain understanding about the way race and class and power worked in America. This understanding had been passed down from my parents, and their parents to them. "A Black man can't be elected president--especially not before a White woman," being one of the principle tenets.
This tenet had everything to do with the way I saw myself as a citizen of this country (if I even thought of myself as a citizen) and even though it was a sad, disheartening vision, it also gave me stability: in the equation of my life, I could always rely on race to be my constant. No matter where I went, or what I did, it would always be standing beside me. Something about that was comforting, even if it separated me from the equal sign.

It was beautiful seeing my students running the halls, laughing, smiling, singing Barack's name, but I also couldn't help fear what would come next. What happens when times get rough? What happens when the Palins and the Plumbers of the world start really acting up? What happens when people realize that racism isn't over? What happens if this new paradigm is just the same old paradigm, with a whole new way of ripping out your heart? What happens when he actually has to be "Presidential"? What happens when he (aghast!) disappoints us?

But today I also realized that those are questions for old folks to fret over. My students are now growing up and being shaped by a time when a Black man (with dignity and intelligence!) has a chance to represent the most powerful nation in the world. And even though I might not be as familiar with the moves of this new game, I'm willing to set aside my fears and let the young folks teach me how to play.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It's a wrap

Theme for today

Take it away, Fatlip...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Oscar the Grouch Hates on Tito Puente

I always wanted to be down with Oscar and his crew (the trash can lid hats were hot!), but I had to draw the line when he tried to front on my man TP. Luckily Oscar came around and the beef was squashed.