Saturday, December 26, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
You know Nat loves historical parallels. Barbara Tuchman, you are missed. This is an age of celebrated ignorance (I should show you the emails and texts…not to mention the essays, they’d only make you cry I get from 18 to twentysomething students…even Georgetown students. Credibility has come to mean with you mindlessly agree and who you hate. It used to mean critical thinking, preparing a researched position that is supported with logical appeals, emotion, evidence, and the ethical treatment of other points of view. It was about dignity of accomplishment, rather than splatter. It embodied a time where even Huey Long was somehow more palatable, credible, than Sarah Palin.
I’m thinking of doing a long essay on how 2008-10 is really 1867-1876 (Reconstruction and post-Reconstruction), in a snow globe, at light speed. Hey, 50% of the treatise would be dismissing the redneck myths about that time when America was truly made. Here’s a little warm-up, and little discourse for shits and gigs, with another parallel as model. Remember my Busboys & Poets encounter, above…
When Obama ran, when Obama was elected, some supporters and detractors spoke of him as a newfangled JFK. Sorensen’s analysis and analogies where thoughtful though a tad rose-colored. Most of the statements entailed ill-informed second “Camelots” or Michelle as a 21st century Jackie, or “empty suit” talk; some comments were paeans to vigor (“viggah” in Kennedy-ese) and a new age, some were truly loony “ACORN as Joe Kennedy and the Mafia stuff.”
The parallel cures and solidifies when you look at their presidencies with a historian’s eyes, both one year in. Huge promise, yet huge divisions and mistrust. Enemies of all stripes thinking neither deserved to be in the Oval Office. Big missteps, small victories. Bold ideas, small and sickly conventional follow-through. Two men in charge who were/are products of their upbringing in the most pinpoint sense of that admittedly hackneyed term. You lay the outlines side by side and say…whoa.
So here’s my cryptic measure of Barack Obama’s first year: What would the Obama White House—this supposed “Change” movement—be like if Barack had true counterparts to P. Kenneth O’Donnell by his side. And a Robert Francis Kennedy. If Joe Biden was more Lyndon Johnson and less, well, Joe Biden? Hell, if Glenn Beck et al were less clowns, and more like James Reston or Walter Lippman? If Al Sharpton was more Roy Wilkens, and Hillary Clinton a younger Eleanor Roosevelt in her? Beyonce was Eartha Kitt. Blake Lively was young Helen Gurley Brown? Or if Joe Lieberman was less a tool, and little more like Everett Dirksen?
Would this nation, the world, be a better, safer, more just place? Probably not. Would there be Tea Partiers? Likely more so. Look at what was happening in the South then. Made the “Don’t tread on me” nonsense look like a Victoria’s Secret show.
But I’d feel a lot more comfortable about things. I was an infant when Sorensen and this person’s famous granddad were in there where Barack, Rahm and Eric, Susan and Hillary were in 1962. Now I am middle age. I wish I were a baby again, yet with adult ears and eyes.
I hope for the best in 2010. That word hope hasn’t been cheapened. Not yet...
Mrs Nat and I live in this general neighborhood cluster of Columbia Heights, U-Street/Shaw. It is amusing that a bunch of yuppies would take time off from cross-country skiing or shovelling their sidewalks to pelt each other with snowballs. It's not so funny when folks paste passing cars...cars driven by folk who are already agitated by dangerous conditions (I don't care if you are from Rochester or Chicago--24 inches of snow in less than 24 hours is still a bitch! So stop grousing, Mr. President & Mrs. First Lady!!!).
And it would have been quite another thing, my children, had these people been black or Latino teenagers, pelting cars as well as each other. Yeah, Nat went there. He likes going there. Feel like grumbling yet, or agreeing? Read on...
African American cops I know in this sub-district--and you gotta know the cops when you live in the cit-tee--suck their teeth and shake their heads when I ask them about this incident. The detective was pissed off and dead-ass wrong they say. What was going through his head, they ask? He often does undercover work in a city that's still resembles Mordor despite gentrification. But, Lord how these same yuppies would have demanded MPD guns at a snowball fight had the shoe been on a "local" teenage foot they say. Nat agrees.
Indeed, what's interesting is that while the footage was all over our local news and displayed on national outlets...it downright hemorrhaged from right wing outlets like Fox, Reason TV et al. More evidence of evil black Obama ciphers oppressing good and true whitefolk. Even my mole at the...[edited] [Group/Foundation/Network] hahaha confirmed this. A Reason TV young Republican was on hand at the snowball event to record. [Oh don't worry, my man/woman is in deep cover, Donnie Brasco style. Now if I can only get someone into Fox. Maybe put a microchip in Juan Williams' head and a minicamera in his eyeball?]
A neighbor who's co-worker and co-worker's boyfriend were present broke it down this way: "She[the cowroker] admitted then when they started throwing snowballs at cars and a couple of pedestrians who weren't part if the 'event' [ah those young folk and their Twitter] , that was noot good. I could then see maybe one cop showing up to break the thing up and everyone goes home for hot toddies or coco. But this guy [the 25 year veteran undercover dick] created a potentially deadly situation."
Now that's pretty straightforward.
MPD Chief Kathy Lanier, ever eager to please a vengeful public in areas of high voter turnout, quickly put a foot in the gun-brandishers butt. We won't really know the extent of the disciplinary action; you never do when it comes to cops. But quite a few folk want this kept quietly in the family. No harm, no foul, I suppose? Concurrently, however, no one seems to want to ask why it's okay to have a melee, no matter how good spirited or organized via Gen Y social networking media rather than urban pay as you go cell phones...on a public street...a busy intersection in the middle of a snow emergency in a city that doesn't do snow? Had it been young Pookie with braids and droopy jeans, or callow Esteban with his hand-me- down Redskins jacket just wanting to have a some winter fun, we'd have gotten a definite answer...
Stay tuned for the infamous Christmas post.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Sunday, December 06, 2009
Yes, Schmuley Boteach has "branded" himself, in Dr. Drew Pinsky style, as "America's Rabbi." You've seen him on TV, in print, on his glossy website. From Oprah's guest chair to canting the An'im Zemirot, he's everywhere. For ten years he's been the most visible cleric in Hollywood, out-positioning even TD Jakes. Call it a calling. Call it rank self-promotion.