Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Black Agenda: Black Leadership in the Age of Obama

Take just a second and listen to the exchange embedded above between Tavis Smiley and Rev. Al Sharpton. Can you tell me just what is happening here? First of all, I’m a bit surprised that this very public and seemingly acrimonious disagreement took place the way it did. Usually, African Americans do not air our dirty laundry in public like that. But most importantly, I am wondering what are they arguing about anyway?

Many times I’ve asked readers to enlighten me on just what is this “Black Agenda” I keep hearing so much about. And not only that, what this “Black Agenda” consists of. Furthermore, just who set this “Black Agenda”?

We have any number of people claiming the mantle of leadership in African America, and any number of people claiming to represent “The Black Agenda,” but I cannot for the life of me figure out what this “Black Agenda” is, nor can I find it articulated anywhere. Not only that, I cannot figure out exactly who is out front leading, and more specifically, where they are leading African Americans to?

Plus join me tonight along with RiPPa, our new co-host Fungke Blak Chik, and special guest Kris Broughton of the blog Brown Man Thinking Hard and contributor to Slate Magazine, Talking Points Memo, and The Big Think, as we engage in a round table discussion on the relevance of “Black Leadership” in the age of Obama.

Using the recent controversial and very public disagreement between Al Sharpton & Tavis Smiley on national radio, we’ll explore this disagreement to expand on the idea of a “Black Agenda.” Or what exactly is a “Black Agenda”. How do we incorporate said agenda in our perceived “post-racial” society? How do we go about communicating said agenda and is said “agenda” a political liability for Barack Obama?

Most importantly, we’ll discuss the division within our community caused by said agenda and try to come up with a solution as to just what is best for Black America. We’ll also explore the New York Times’ piece on the CBC, and discuss their relevancy as it relates the Black electorate at large. Are they, like “Black Leadership,” doing enough for Black America?

Stop by tonight to get in on the discussion at 9 PM EST. You can either listen directly from the platform at Freedom thru Speech Radio or by using the dial-in number at 914-803-4881. And remember, the most important voice in this discussion is yours.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Newsflash: Killer Whale Goes Killer

That tiger didn’t go crazy. That tiger went tiger! --Chris Rock

Of course you have heard by now. Yesterday a killer whale that is part of the Orlando, Florida, Seaworld orca show killed one of its trainers during a show. It has not been readily determined if the incident was an accident or an act of aggression on the part of the killer whale; some animal experts have surmised that the killer whale was simply playing. To the 3,000 pound whale, people are simply toys. However, it has been noted that the killer whale in question has killed twice before.

In one instance, the killer whale grabbed a biology student in its mouth and dragged her around the pool. When the student attempted to escape, the killer whale managed to block her path, and then the killer whale and two other whales tossed the student around between them. Sounds like a game of catch to me. The killer whales were probably having the time of their lives. I cannot believe that animals would be that calculating and cruel.

But let me get this out of the way before I go any further. My heart goes out to the family and friends of the trainer who lost her life. Only a person with the hardest heart would not feel a certain measure of sympathy and empathy upon hearing of the death of another human being. But we should not be surprised when animals conduct themselves as animals.

Human beings have become so arrogant as to believe we can tame the forces of nature, rather it be the land or animals. But every now and then nature reminds us of her omnipotence. Every now and then, lakes and rivers will overflow and/or destroy the dikes and dams meant to contain them. Mudslides and other natural disasters will reclaim the land stolen by human development. And supposedly tame wild animals will revert to their most base animal instincts.

My concern now centers on the fate of the killer whale. It would be morally repugnant if that thirty year old animal is destroyed for just reminding us of our real place in the whole order of things. Not only that, some of us conducts ourselves more like animals than the actual animals, and do so with impunity in the name of religion, politics, and a myriad of other convenient excuses.

And on the flip side, I look forward to the day when the headline reads, “Human beings go human.”

Scott Brown Buried under a Avalanche Hate by Those Who Claimed to Love Him Most

It must be really hard out there for a conservative.

Just a little over a month ago, conservatives from every corner were showing mad love to Republican Senator Scott Brown after he won deceased Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy’s Massachusetts’s senate seat in a special election. For days afterward, conservatives could not construct a sentence without a subject, a verb, and Scott Brown (sorry VP Biden).

Conservatives were hanging all off Scott Brown like a cheap suit. He was even being touted, somewhat prematurely I think, as a possible presidential candidate for 2012. He could do no wrong.

But then recently a procedural vote was held on the Senate floor on the new jobs bill, and Senator Brown had the absolute temerity to break ranks with his Republican counterparts along with four other Republican senators and allow the bill to actually be brought to a vote. And now the floodgates of hate have opened. Just check out some of the responses on Senator Brown’s Facebook fans page taken from the site Wonkette:

The whole thing makes no absolute sense whatsoever. What do the Republicans think they would have gained from opposing the jobs bill? It’s obvious that their base was desirous of continuing the obstructionism, but I believe their recalcitrance would have eventually backfired on them. And it is telling that several of the GOP senators who voted against cloture, turned around and voted for the bill. Could this spell an end to Republican obstructionism?

Obstructionism can only be effective for a short length of time. It might work well at the onset, but eventually it will only be seen for what it is. And the truth is that Scott Brown really didn’t have a choice in the matter; he found himself in a damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t position. Yeah, conservatives would have applauded if he had voted against cloture, but his constituents back home would have railed against him.

Yes, Massachusetts did send a Republican to the senate, but Massachusetts remains in large a blue state. And Scott Brown knows this. So even as conservatives fling hate his way by the buckets full, he has nevertheless earned the respect of many for finally doing what the people of Massachusetts sent him to the Senate to do. Let’s hope his GOP colleagues get the message and do the same.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wanted: Press secretary for God. No references needed. We know your heart.

I realize that God is all-powerful and all-knowing. I cannot understate the importance of these attributes for any supreme being. And I do recognize and acknowledge my whole insignificance in the grand scheme of things. However, I would just like to drop a quick suggestion in the celestial suggestion box.

It is my suggestion that God gain the employ of a good spokesman or press secretary because the things being said and done in Her or His name are getting more and more outlandish. It seems that when those purporting to be God’s folk step in front of a microphone in front of a camera, the mainline connection to the throne room gets a little fuzzy, and they say anything that comes to their heads.

Of course, people with good, common sense recognize the absolute absurdity of these words and deeds, but the present reality is that common sense is not so common anymore. But let’s catalogue just a few of the words and deeds I’m speaking of.

No one could possibly forget when shortly following the earthquake that practically leveled Haiti, Pat Robertson proclaimed Haiti’s misfortune to be caused by a centuries old “pact with the devil” made by Haiti’s founders. This would be a shocking, repugnant statement no matter whose mouth it originated from, but coming from Pat Robertson it was that much more atrocious.

Pat Robertson is supposed to be tight with God. After all, among other things he is the founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), host of the influential Christian broadcast The 700 Club, and a leading spokesmen for Christian conservatism.

But how is Robertson privy to this information? How does he know about the pact? Perhaps, the devil told him first hand over lunch or while golfing, but he should have known not to believe the devil. He knows how the devil lies.

And do you remember last month when South Carolina Lt. Governor Andre Bauer compared people on public assistance to stray animals? He stated that the government should stop providing assistance to these people for the simple fact that if you continue feeding them, they will breed. After hearing his remarks, it suddenly became plain to me why the state congress is reluctant to get rid of Governor Mark Sanford; this clown would then take over.

However, I was still shaking my head at these and Pat Robertson’s remarks when Virginia State delegate Bob Marshall stood up on this past Thursday and stated unequivocally and unapologetically that disabled children are God’s punishment to women who aborted their first pregnancy.

This statement alone is cringe inducing, but of course he went on to reference Old Testament Biblical teaching to qualify his remarks: "In the Old Testament, the first born of every being, animal and man, was dedicated to the Lord. There’s a special punishment Christians would suggest.

Now, I’m no fan of abortion [You can read my views of abortion here.], but suddenly I wondered if there was anything like a late-life abortion or a retroactive abortion available to rid us of idiots like this. And he made these remarks in his capacity as a representative of the state of Virginia and of God; in doing so, he poorly represented both.

I’m just so sick and tired of the excessive and obsessive moralizing. And you know it all has nothing at all to do with God; it is all political. However, politicians have realized what many hustlers and other species of chiselers have known for quite some while; you can get any number of people to believe anything, no mater how outrageous or preposterous, if you just invoke the name of God.

So, God, I have been trying to expose these charlatans with all my strength, but no one seems to be listening to me. It just might be time to bring in a professional.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

What the World Is Curling, and Why Am I So Obsessed with It?

Okay, today is my birthday. The word must have somehow gotten out because I’ve gotten mad birthday wishes, and it’s very humbling. Thanks everyone!

But anyway, today I’m walking around fall-down tired with my eyes all bloodshot red. However, I ain’t been partying, birthday or not. Instead, this past week I’ve not been sleeping. Now, I’ve been given to bouts of insomnia all my life.

In fact, I have been discussing my inability to sleep at night with a good friend of mine who has suggested a number of absolutely crazy remedies. But no matter how crazy the remedies, the insane thing is that I’ve tried them all but to no avail.

Yet, this week it has not been insomnia that has been keeping me up. It has been curling. I’ve been watching the Winter Olympics curling matches. Yes, curling. Curling seems to be my newest obsession. Oh, what is curling you say? Don’t feel bad. I barely knew what curling was when I started watching it. And I barely know now.

However, curling appears to be popular sport in some regions, most specifically Canada. And I can’t really figure out why it’s popular or why it’s even called a sport. This is how it all goes down. First of all curling is like shuffleboard except it’s played on ice. Just imagine an iced over shuffleboard court with a big bull’s-eye at one end.

Anyway, the curling match begins when this old dude who is usually several pounds overweight and seemingly out of shape crouches down close to the ice in this crouching tiger, hidden milk-cow pose with this heavy looking metal disc called a stone or rock out in front of him. Then somewhat he mysteriously begins to glide across the ice with the stone or rock, and after going a few feet, he lets it go.

Well, about this time, being crouched down in this unnatural post must begin to hurt him, because he then begins to yell, “ARGGGH! ARGGGH! ARGGGH!” Then his friends run out onto the ice with these nifty little brooms, but instead of them running to help him up, they begin sweeping the ice really vigorously in front of the stone or rock and yelling “ARGGGH! ARGGGH! ARGGGH!” too, but I can’t figure out what’s hurting them. Maybe they are yelling in sympathy for the other guy.

And I am not sure what they are even sweeping the ice for. As many times as they sweep it during a match, that has to be the cleanest patch of ice in the world. You could practically eat off that ice.

As they follow the rock or stone down the court sweeping like madmen, all the while the announcer is trying to make this foolishness sound exciting. He’s whispering into the mike like it’s a golf match or something, and he might somehow disturb the participants: “What an excellent shot. The stone is on its way down the course. He’s perhaps the only one in the world who could make this shot..” The camera then pans the audience and all five or six of the people in attendance yawn in appreciation.

If you still cannot get a visual, then perhaps this short video clip will help:

But what I cannot figure out is why I’m so obsessed with curling all of a sudden? I think maybe the networks are sending some kind of subliminal messages in their broadcasts are something. Or maybe the CIA has figured out someway of beaming digital crack through the airwaves just to keep brothers down like they did in the 1980’s when Reagan was president.

That would explain why I am up at three o’clock in the morning watching curling. And that would explain why I have spent so much time this last week researching curling when I should have been doing something else. And that would perhaps why I even did a Google search for a curling league in Florida. Seems like curling is not such a big deal in Florida, though.

I’m think I’m going to swear off this obsession cold turkey. It seems to be ruining my life and the Olympics are only about halfway over. But before I do, I just got to try this curling stance. Let me see if I can get down that low.

Oh my God. It hurts. It hurts! ARGGGH! ARGGGH! Somebody come help me get up out of the floor. I done got myself down here and can’t get up. ARGGGH! ARGGGH!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

One Superbowl Ad that Made Me Cringe: The Black Single Mother Doritos Superbowl Ad

Do you remember this Superbowl ad? Did you find it particularly funny? When it played on Sunday night, I did titter just a bit, uncomfortably though. However, my brother-in-law found it uproariously hilarious. So much so that he got bar-b-q sauce on my new oxford button-down. That stain is not coming out.

However, for some reason, the commercial did not sit well with me. It was just something about it that put me ill at ease. So, yesterday when I should have been grading student papers, I wasted a few minutes (or hours) critiquing Superbowl ads.

Could it be the fact that the commercial featured an African American woman who just happened to be a single mother? Of course, there is nothing inherently wrong or pathological about single motherhood. And it could be just coincidental that the ad company producing the ad chose to cast African Americans.

However, in the same instance, when played before a mainstream audience, the commercial draws upon and plays into a certain narrative of hatred and disdain directed toward black single mothers.

And what about a child, a little black boy child, slapping an adult in the face? Am I wrong to find that offensive? It certainly ain't cute. Am I wrong to believe that act to be just a continuation and adjunct to the narrative mentioned above, one that posits the notion that because young black males are being raised by single mothers they must be naturally aggressive and undisciplined.

But think about it. If your child, black or otherwise, slapped an adult in the face, would you find it particularly funny? Furthermore, if that child is so utterly audacious as to slap an adult in the face at that age, what does his future look like? What else is in his bag of tricks?

I don’t know. Maybe I am reading too much into this whole thing. Maybe I am just still peeved that that loud, country Negro got that greasy sauce stain down the front of my new shirt. What kind of person waves a rib around all willy-nilly in a room full of people anyway?

Or perhaps I am simply too sensitive of the narratives about black people that are posited within the mainstream and also, the way we are portrayed across the various mediums. Going back through my blog archives, I see that this is a theme I have rehearsed and revisited many times. And my wife always tells me that I am prone to overanalyzing things. Could this be it? However, I should also add that she found it even less appealing than I did.

But whatever it may be, I still cannot bring myself to like this commercial, and I am surprised that more people have not objected to it as well. What do you think?

Suggested reading:

Feministe, “Reconsidering the Black Single Mother Argument.”, “Statistics Don’t Lie.”

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Heart Finally Wins Out over the Head: Congratulations Saints & the People of New Orleans!

So, I’ve had this problem all my life. You see, usually when confronting most situations or questions, my head and my heart are at odds with each other; whatever my head says, my heart will take an opposite stance. And, for whatever reason, I usually follow my heart.

To follow my heart is to embrace pure emotion over reason, and I do believe in reason. Sometimes my heart is correct, but the vast majority of the time, my head is correct in its intuitions. And this is always heartbreaking to me because between my heart and between my head, I very much prefer my heart; the beauty and imagery and hope offered by the heart is preferable to the stark realism and logic offered by the head.

This dilemma played a part in choosing a winner for this year’s Superbowl. My head said, “There is no way the Saints can overcome Peyton Manning and that offensive machine he leads.” But my heart was enthralled by the narrative offered by the Saints and the city of New Orleans.

Who cannot be swayed by the story of a team representing a city that not so long ago was nearly razed by Hurricane Katrina? Who cannot be moved by the story of a team representing a city of mostly brown people determined to rebuild their city, determined to stay put in that place where their family history, their family roots reach back for generations and generations?

It is that classic narrative theme of man against nature, and sometimes during the whole saga of New Orleans, man against his own pernicious and rapacious proclivities.

But anyway, I chose New Orleans to win. And during the first half, my head mocked my heart for again believing that pure emotion could ever best reason. However, after halftime, emotion made a comeback, and bit by bit, emotion took the upper hand, until at last the gun sounded, and the head feverishly checked its facts and figures to see where it had gone wrong, while the heart leapt in celebration.

I guess this is just my longwinded way of saying congratulations to the New Orleans Saints and the city and people of New Orleans. You deserved this one. Now only if I were a betting man, I would have a little extra change in my pocket this morning.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Which Is the Most Outlandish Headline?: Woman Breastfeeds Family Pet or Palin Wins Presidency

Okay, I just got to weigh in on this one. On Saturday morning, I ran across this article about a lady who breastfeeds her dog, and then thought so much of the idea, she took the time to pen an article about it. Try as I might not to judge her, I still could not help but to think that this was perhaps the craziest thing I had ever heard. If it is not the craziest, certainly it makes the top ten.

But then just this evening, I happened over to W.E.E. See You, and there’s this article, complete with pictures and video footage, of former republican candidate for Vice-president, Sarah Palin, referring to crib notes written on her hand during a question and answer following her Tea Party Convention key note speech.

You know, at first I was mildly amused by this whole scenario. Then I was just a tad bit concerned. And now I am more than a little bit frightened.

This was the person who could have been just a heartbeat away from being president? This is the person who seems to still harbor presidential aspirations for the year 2012? And she derides President Obama for using a teleprompter?

Let me give you the long and the short of it. After the election, we all but dismissed her chances of ever becoming president. In fact, I really thought she would just fade into the sunset after all the post-election furor subsided. But she’s still here and more popular than ever.

However, it would seem unlikely that anyone with half a brain, anyone with any critical thinking skills and any capacity for abstract thought would see her for what she is—an interloper who managed to manipulate her fifteen minutes of fame into a full time gig. But she is still around like the energizer bunny and keeps going and going and going.

And from my empirical observation, if you tell the same lie enough times and with requisite emphasis, people will begin to believe it. If she and her right wing cronies repeat the patently false notion that she possesses the knowledge and experience and ability to lead this nation often enough, enough of our countrymen who are devoid of all critical thinking skills and capacity for abstract thought just might believe it all the way to the voting both to make it a reality.

Now a woman suckling the family pet at her teat may be weird, it may be outlandish, and it may be utter and abject foolishness, but it certainly does not shock and perplex me as does the continued relevancy of one Mrs. Sarah Palin.

Curse God and Die: Why I Continue to Believe

Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die. But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips. –Job 2:9-10 KJV

Some time ago I got a long, convoluted diatribe in the form of an email from someone calling herself simply, “A Real Christian”. At the time, I chose to ignore the email, but for some reason, it has remained on my mind.

Evidently, “A Real Christian” came across this blog some way or another and then read through the archives and managed to find a post or two in which I discussed coming to terms with my Christian faith and/or in which I questioned and/or criticized the so-called Christian church.

And she responded by berating me for questioning Christ and the Church. The closing lines stand out for me:

“It is evident that you are not really committed to Christ. You are a CINO, a Christian in name only. You are one of those spineless wavering Christians who are too scared to make a stand for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Instead you whine and complain about having to follow His word and teachings. You are part of the reason why this nation is in the state it is in now. Why don’t you do yourself and all of us a favor and just curse God and die."

But she misses the whole point. I have never criticized Christ; I am not so arrogant, or even so intrepid, to do such a thing. However, I did level reasoned criticism at the Christian church, and let’s not conflate the two, Christ and Christianity.

For literally centuries, man has hijacked the teachings of Christ to justify a myriad of evils. For literally centuries, Christianity has not been used to comfort or solace or as a prescription for a better life, but as a tool, a bludgeon to be used about the head and shoulders of one’s enemies, political or otherwise, a means to some usually nefarious, sinister end.

I do have a few friends who are either atheists or agnostics who remind me of this on a regular basis. They interrogate my reasons for believing. According to them, I am too intelligent, too rational a person to fall prey to myths and silly superstitions. In their own way, they too are imploring me to curse God and die.

But I explain to them that that is the very essence of faith, a belief in that which is inexplicable, perhaps improbable—“…the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.”

Not only that, I worship Christ, and I place my faith in Christ, and not Christianity or the Church. However, I suspect followers like “A Real Christian” are so heavily invested physically and emotionally in the Church that they have forgotten the real reason the Church exists. As I see it, there are two disparate groups of people assembling under the banner of Christianity—church people and true believers in Christ.

And of these two groups, the former greatly outnumbers the latter, but these are the voices, the faces, we hear and see most often purporting to represent the true believers, the real Christians. And these are the voices, the faces, whose motives and methods, whose words and deeds, seem to stray so far from the teachings of Christ.

Even as I compose the last sentence, an image of Pat Robertson looking on at the suffering and anguish of the Haitian people, and then declaring that the Haitian people are in such a state because of some pact made with the devil centuries ago. I am still trying to determine what is Christ-like about such a statement.

But back to “A Real Christian.” I did not miss the irony of her statement, “Curse God and die.” Of course, this phrase comes from the Biblical story of Job, one whose faith in God was absolute. At his lowest moment, at the moment when the world seemed to crashing down around him, and when his faith was being sorely tested, his wife implored him simply, “Curse God and die.” However, Job chose not to. Instead, he held fast to his faith despite having every reason to give in and give up.

So, “A Real Christian,” the impetus to question what one believes does arise. And I would go so far as to say that if one never stops to examine their beliefs, to quantify their faith, they need not simply “Curse God and die”: they are already spiritually dead.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Few Office Nuisances that Cause Me to Cringe

I found out long ago that when working a job, often though you might absolutely despise the job you are doing, the people working with you and around you often make that job bearable, sometimes enjoyable even.

For instance, I worked as a telephone operator and customer service agent while going to college. Now, the job itself left much to be desired. First of all, it was monotonous. Sitting there hour after hour taking inbound calls and then simply pushing a couple of buttons to connect them is boring, mindless work. Then you got those customer service calls from irate customers with problems usually of their own doing who seemed to want only to berate and insult you.

But the people working with me made the job enjoyable. Between calls we talked and laughed and acted a general fool which usually kept us entertained through the night. I don’t know what I would have done had that cast of characters not been assembled in that place.

However, after all those years in college and grad school, I have finally landed my dream job. But now those people who work with me sometimes make me absolutely cringe. In fact, a colleague commented the other day that I seem to be more comfortable and at ease around the students as opposed to my faculty colleagues.

It took everything in me to tell him that despite all their degrees, despite all their collective knowledge and experience, my colleagues seemed so absolutely pompous, dysfunctional, and out of touch with reality at times that spending so much time with students is the only thing that keeps me from breaking with my usual aplomb and cussing someone slap out.

But anyway, these are the office types that get on my last nerve and make my job more trying than it should be:

The Office Know-it-all

Never mind that this person is the least educated person with the least experience on the staff. Never mind that this person does not even serve in a professional capacity; she is a paraprofessional hired by the state to gather statistics and enter them into a database. However, this person seems to be an expert on any and every subject you can think of.

They are an expert gardener, dog trainer, home builder, medical practitioner, cook, painter, herbalist, nutritionist, professional trainer, and the list goes on and on. But I found out a way to shut this person up last week. In the middle of a longwinded exposition on some subject, I interrupted to ask, “What did you say your degree was in again?”. Evidently, this is a subject she was not a well-versed in because she ran off like a roach when you turn the lights on.

The Office Butt-in-ski

In my case, the office know-it-all and the office butt-in-ski are often the same person. But we have more than one of these on staff. You know the type. They happen up on a conversation and just insert themselves into the mix. Usually they don’t even have a good grasp as to what the conversation is about. They just seem to hear one or two trigger words that set them off and BAM!, they have hi-jacked the conversation with their own extraneous, patented form of BS.

The Office Stand-up Comedian

Perhaps you have crossed path with this office nuisance. This person is under the delusion that they are indeed funny. And the simplest, most mundane question becomes their excuse to launch into their stand-up act. But the thing is, they are not in the least bit funny. In fact, they are usually corny at best and obnoxious at worst.

Usually, I try to be patient and respond with a polite chuckle in those places in which I think a polite chuckle belongs, where I sense a punch line belongs. But as of late, office stand-up comedian, these monologues have become absolutely unbearable. Not only that, you have begun to recycle the same old unfunny stuff. Who writes your material?

The Office Hypochondriac

Usually each time I see someone for the first time in the day, I greet them with a “Hello. How are you today?”. However, I learned long ago not to extend this greeting to the office hypochondriac. Why? Because they will invariably tell you in vivid and graphic details to include frequency and consistency of stools.

It seems they have an encyclopedic knowledge of all possible ailments that might afflict humans, and at any given time, find themselves victim of one or several of these many ailments.

By the way, office hypochondriac person, your vivid description of the bright red scaly rash underneath your breasts last week really grossed me out. This is not something you share with people with whom you only have a casual relationship. But when you pulled down your shirt just enough for me to see evidence of that rash in the valley between your breast, I was completely undone.

That was enough to turn a professed breast man such as myself virulently anti-titty. Thank you.

The Office Dirty Old Lady

Okay. I will admit that I encouraged this behavior at first. The whole thing started really benignly. There is an older white lady on staff who has a wonderful sense of humor and is really a pleasure to be around. So, she started out with some stock English department sexual innuendo, something about dangling participles. Get it?

And I thought her jokes were a little ribald but nonetheless clever, so I joined in and added one or two cleverly nasty bits of my own. My open participation only seemed to encourage her until this thing has crescendoed to the point at which her funny, clever sexual innuendo has become openly outright filthy and suggestive.

Recently, after one such exchange, I felt so absolutely dirty that no shower could wash the shame away. And then one night after spending the evening trying to contemplate what I might do to nip this in the bud, I had this crazy dream in which she clad in a Wonder Woman costume used her golden lasso to subdue me. I will spare you the dirty details.

Did I leave any “office nuisances” out? What types do you find around your office?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

President Obama, you have our attention; now just give us something to believe in

For the first time in a long time, President Obama had an exceptional week last week. His State of the Union Address seemed to signal a reemergence of the candidate who we campaigned so ardently for and subsequently voted for and expected so much from.

And his verbal beat down of the GOP at the House Republican Retreat in Baltimore on Friday was perhaps enough to reassure those on the left that he is indeed in charge and out front and recapture the support of those skeptical and/or cynical independents and moderates who were beginning to doubt his intestinal fortitude. He met the GOP on their own ground and then masterfully met each of their weak, disingenuous thrusts with a parry until he had seized from them whatever advantage they thought they might have.

Now I am waiting anxiously, if not impatiently, for the second act. President Obama has made this drama interesting again. He has almost reprised his campaign performance that captured the hearts and imaginations of so many. The cast is reassembling backstage, awaiting their stage directions; however, we need to see just a little more. We need something to make us believe.

It is understandable that when a charismatic president with amazingly high approval rating and backed by a solid sixty seat senate majority is not able to push through anything resembling the comprehensive Health Care Reform package as promised, that people will began to get a bit disillusioned and cease to believe.

And when one integral part of the governing body decides against governing, but instead chooses to even go so far as to impede the progress of those attempting to govern, then I am not surprised that some should begin to shake their heads in disbelief, that some should wonder in just what direction the country is going, that some should question just who is in charge. However, if we are to believe, the president and his party must find a way to break this impasse, and they must do so sooner as opposed to later.

But let’s not leave out the mainstream media because they have played a huge role in fostering this growing sentiment of incredulity and distrust. When the media ceases to be a source of credible information and instead becomes just another entertainment outlet, who do we then turn to in order to inform ourselves? Perhaps like most, I have grown tired of having my reality interpreted for me and being told what to believe.

Do you remember back in school when we were assured that the separation of the three branches of government—the Executive Branch, the Judicial Branch, and the Legislative Branch—worked to insure that no one branch became too powerful, thus helping protect our freedoms? Or that of the three, the Judicial Branch was the most apolitical?

Well, that bubble has been burst. With the Supreme Court’s ruling that corporations are individuals with all the rights there of, it became all but plain that at least two of these branches seem to be in collusion. Or, at the very least, are politically driven. If that is not enough to make one skeptical, to make one cynical, to cause a state of disbelief and outright fear, I certainly cannot figure out what is.

But we move forward now. I think we all get it now. I think we all realize that the actions of the president alone do not ensure success; we must be willing to do our part, to play our roles as assigned to us. We again take our places on stage, and look to the wings for our cue to begin. All we need now is a reason to believe.
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