While Libya Burned

Contrary to what you may be led to believe this picture was actually taken at about 8:30 pm. I had just come off stage at the Razzie Awards wearing a white tutu over my tux doing a little Black Swan tribute (don't ask). I had been told earlier in the week I was being replaced by Flavor Flav. Fine. The morning of the show I was then told that this was my bit, and they wanted me to do it. Whatever. I thought that meant that Flav bowed out. So I'm walking backstage in a white tutu and there's Flav. "Aw shit" I think. This could be trouble. This could have been part of his comeback plan for all I know. While I try to pull off the tutu with all the nonchalance I can gather, one of the producers says something to him. I have no idea what she said, but he was completely gracious as you can see. I tried to take this picture on my phone myself and you know what he said? "Just have my boy do it." So I handed the phone to a husky fella who I'm sure does stuff like this all the time. He even took several pictures until he got one that was just right. And then Flav asks me to email the picture to him. Okay, that didn't happen but he looks pretty impressed. Shit. He should be. 

AOTL's Oscar Predictions

Actual Oscar Award image rights protected
I should preface by saying I have no idea what or who is going to win. I can't even remember what was nominated. I am presenting at the Razzie Awards Saturday night and I can't  remember who is nominated in the categories I'm presenting. Come to think of it I can't remember what categories I'm presenting. All I know is that last night I was informed that I might be replaced in one bit by a "celebrity" who may or may not show up. I don't think I'm giving anything away except for the fact that I may be replaced in a bit by a "celebrity."

Given all this, here are my Oscar predictions:

1) The one thing I am most sure about is that I will not be on the patio drinking beers with friends and neighbors while looking at my phone every fifteen minutes for updates. This isn't the Super Bowl after all. Unfortunately it is supposed to rain or snow even which dictates it will be an indoor thing in front of the television. Whose television?

2) I have been the host of  very informal Oscar gatherings over the past couple years. By informal I mean all I do is move the tables to the side of the living room and throw pillows on the floor. Friends and neighbors bring the food and booze. If you're Mark Franco you bring a wheelie suitcase of both because as he likes to say "I know how to throw a party, Chip Dornell."

Over the past year though, a lot of the clique in my building has flown the coop and those of us who remain have not discussed any plans. Also, Mark and Dessa have had a baby (not to say that would stop them and it shouldn't). I was also invited to a tentatively planned thingie. I predict there is a 75% chance I sit in front of my computer most of the night looking stuff up on Wikipedia with the television on in the background. 

3) Aside from these predictions I am also sure that it won't actually snow here in Brentwood. I also have a strong feeling that Moumaarr Qukhaddaffiiy will DVR the Oscar telecast and never get around to watching them. I believe to make up for the fact that there are no black nominees this year the press will eagerly seek out former black nominees and winners for red carpet and post interviews. Get ready to hear how Jamie Foxx performed at the White House this past week. You'll hear it about a hundred times.

Republican America in Pictures

Barack Obama speaks frequently about our edge and competitiveness in the world, while the Republicans parrot this “no tax, no spend” theme. They are concerned about us borrowing from the Chinese but have no plan to try to compete with the Chinese. We know that the Republican model of lowering taxes across the board grows deficits. Even worse, lack of focused, beneficial spending has a sedative effect on the economy. Don’t try explaining this to a Republican though. These are the same people who think their taxes have gone up in the past two years when in fact we are paying less in taxes now than we have in 60 years.

In his State of the Union Address Obama spoke about investing in the future. He compared it to the Space Race when the government (yes the government) forked over piles of money to create an aerospace industry, eventually leading to economic growth, jobs, and technological advances. Republicans insist that all growth and technology is driven by the private sector. Of course, there was no company pumping out rockets and command modules before President Kennedy made space travel a U.S. priority.

More and more, Republicans are distinguishing themselves as the sponsors of the decline of America and if that is a record they are proud of then let us put their names on the deterioration they wish to oversee. AOTL presents a Republican America in Pictures.

John Boehner 
Memorial Bridge
Creakily spanning eight feet of the Cuyahoga River Boehner Memorial serves as a popular party spot for local high school students on weekend nights. Boner Mammarial as the kids call it was formerly Frito-Lay Pepsico bridge until the salty food and corn syrupy drink behemoth sold it off as scrap aluminum after deeming the bridge unprofitable. 

Michele Bachmann
Correctional Facility
Here is a monument to the beauty of the free market. As a government contractor, MBCF not only took in the money it overcharged the government, they also were free to achieve profitability through other creative means. When it was discovered that inmates were being evicted for not paying their rents on time government regulators over-stepped their bounds and reduced the prison capacity to zero percent leading to cutbacks and layoffs.

Mitch McConnell
High-Speed Train

This train line is a tribute to Mitch McConnell and anyone else who cringes when the words "federal" and "funds" are used together. True Republicans know there is no need to build new trains for a high-speed train line. Especially with pending Republican legislation that will define "high-speed" as "anything faster than walking." As for any Obama plan for high-speed rail, McConnell will resist it until the day Barack Obama leaves office.  

Newt Gingrich
Preparatory High School
Whoever thought that two modified semi truck trailers filled with junk could become the most moneymaking educational facility in the country? Newt Gingrich did. And he still thinks so. All he has to do is convince the right investors once this recession created by Obama ends. 

Jon Kyl
Science and Technical
Training Center
In a good faith show of compromise to Muslim Socialism Republicans accepted an offer for another extension of tax cuts for rich in exchange for $140 to fund the Kyl Tech Training Center. Every year this facility will turn out a student who with a little bit of gumption and strength to pull up their bootstraps will learn how to put together doohickeys and mix elixirs. 

The Dude II

Me having a little fun at the expense of Sandra Bullock at the 2010 Razzie Awards.

In my previous post "The Dude" I pointed out how Obama best makes the calls in driving his agenda rather than his media critics who jeer and backseat drive from a point of ignorance. The title of that post referred to Obama. In this post, a sequel, the title refers to me. Here is why.

While writing "The Dude" I had on a little Chris Matthews, my (popular racial epithet). By the time I posted the entry "Hardball" was over and Cenk Uygur had begun. While Cenk was airing, my attention was grabbed by a discussion  with former ambassador Nicholas Burns seen in the video below in which Cenk manned up and acknowledged how his criticism was perhaps misguided. 

It could not have been timed more perfectly. Burns outlines the skill with which the Obama Administration dealt with the events in Cairo from start to finish. He points out the credit due Obama as I did in "The Dude." Though I was previously confident in my position, there is nothing like receiving unsolicited support to be able to say "In yo face!"

The Dude

Over the past six months or so, I have taken a reduced capacity in the Obama-Needs-To Club. That is the group of armchair experts who loudly opine what Obama needs to do in order to achieve success on any number of issues. I learned early on that Obama had an impeccable intellect, and I am still learning just how deep it runs. The smarter I see he is the less advice I see he needs from someone like me. Still, there remain many critics who, bright as they are, can’t hold a candle to Obama when it comes to brainpower and who don’t get the fact that Obama does not need their advice either.

It was not even two months ago that Obama made an unpopular deal on taxes with Congressional Republicans. The Fantasy Politics players took to their own virtual Tahrir Square and blasted Obama for what they saw as weakness. Rachel Maddow snidely lectured how Obama was ushering in the era of his own irrelevance as she sucked her teeth and raised her right eyebrow (see AOTL “Fun Times” here). Weeks later the same members of the Obama-Needs-To Club were ecstatic at what the president had achieved in a matter of weeks during a Lame Duck session of Congress. They acted surprised, but none of them apologized for their snarky doubts even though they knew that what Obama had accomplished was directly linked to the tax deal which they derided him for.

Let us fast forward to the events in Egypt. There are many precarious situations any U.S. president must handle deftly. An uprising in an Arab country that is somewhat progressive for a dictatorship, yet still a dictatorship that tortures and receives the most U.S. foreign aid than any country besides Israel is one of those situations. However, the polit-erati clamored to shriek that “Obama needs to be more forceful in telling Egyptian president Mubarak to step down.” I wonder how people who are influential enough to speak daily on nationally televised shows can be so na├»ve. Surely these people know that when a U.S. president speaks, his words are copied in ink and not pencil.

This is not to say that anyone who believes Mubarak should have resigned was being capricious. The conviction of the people who stayed in Tahrir Square for 18 days was proof of a strong argument for his departure. The Rachel Maddows and Cenk Uygurs can scream that from the trees as long as they speak for themselves. They are talking heads. They don’t have the world of responsibility that someone sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office has. The things you can freely avow change greatly from where you sit.

While Obama came out in support of the Egyptian demonstrators he was cagey in his stance. He had some good words to say about Mubarak while still directing terse advice at him. Obama was also careful not to demand Mubarak’s resignation, choosing instead to focus on the “transition of power.” Obama was not cagey because he is weak, or because he is over his head. He was being smart as not to paint himself into a corner. Here is one of many scenarios that a long-range thinker like Obama needed to consider: 1. POTUS makes clear statement that it is time for Mubarak to go. 2. A week later demonstrations begin to thin out for whatever reason and Mubarak stays. 3. The Leader of the Free World has made a schmuck of himself. That’s how a president ushers in his own irrelevance, Rachel.

This dude Obama is way ahead of most, if not all of his critics even when it does not appear that way. This man has a job and it is not just opinion peddling on TV. He has proven that he is the right person for the office. He has been tremendously successful at delivering promises that aim to satisfy the very people who criticize how he delivers it. Personally, I’m tired of Obama making me look like a schmuck. I’ve learned my lesson that even when it doesn’t look like Obama is doing anything, he is getting things done. What more does he have to do to prove this? It is time the ONT Club had a little more faith in Obama. He has earned it!

The Tea Party At Reagan's Hundredth

"They say they want to take “their” country back, but I’m trying to figure out what country that is because they seem to know little to nothing about America."

With the Reagan Centennial upon us, guess who is clamoring to own Reagan as patron saint of their movement? With Reagan’s profile highest among 20-21st century Republican presidents teabaggers want to sidle up to his legacy for whatever association with Reagan they can get. You know who else is making the connection between Reagan and teabaggers? No one.

Those who were there in service to the Reagan Administration and/or who know their history are setting the record straight. They point out that Reagan was far more practical a president than today’s Tea Party would ever allow. While Reagan is remembered for lowering taxes, forgotten are the tax increases he was later obliged to put in place in response to the health of the economy. Reagan was well aware that tax hikes were as important to responsible fiscal policy as tax cuts. Somehow since Reagan, the Republican Party, and now the teabaggers have adopted the simple notion that you can just keep lowering taxes and call it a day. Given their uncompromising stance on taxes the Tea Party should have no love for Reagan and they would not if he was making his political ascendancy today.

It is interesting that teabaggers had nothing good to say about Obama’s 09 Stimulus bill, a third of which was made up of tax cuts. As a result, the income tax rate is currently at its lowest rates in 60 years. It goes without saying that they are lower than they were at any time Reagan was president. Yet teabaggers took to the streets in April 2010 to protest Obama’s tax hikes. They were in fact protesting fiction. If teabaggers were aware of reality they would save their energy for when necessity dictates the need for tax increases as the economy can not be sustained with constantly low levels of revenue. Ask Ronald Reagan.

What the teabaggers have right is that the rate of spending and the budget deficit are both at record highs now, but so were they under Reagan. It rings of hypocrisy that teabaggers are glomming on to the reputation of a highly regarded Republican in spite of his reputation for unprecedented government spending. It rings of peculiarity that teabaggers in looking back on presidential legacies have nothing to say about Democratic President Bill Clinton who presided over the largest budget surplus in U.S. history. It’s not what the teabaggers say they believe in that is infuriating; everyone is for fiscal responsibility. It is their double standard, angrily taking Obama to task for the same deeds they seem to be blissfully ignorant of in their idols like Ronald Reagan. It is also their arrogance. They say they want to take “their” country back, but I’m trying to figure out what country that is because they seem to know little to nothing about America.

Get The Picture?

If you are in your forties or above, there's no shame in clicking on the picture to make it larger.

Who's Your Foredaddy?

Shame. When we think of our American forefathers we never think of slaves even though the slave experience is typified by all of the elements we consider American. Slaves engaged in commerce through selling crops, wares, or their labor. Slaves were deeply Christian. Many learned to read and write under the threat of severe physical injury. An estimated five thousand Slaves fought at sea and on the battlefield in the American Revolutionary War. Some earned enough money to purchase their own freedom and liberty. This was all in addition to having to complete their proprietary work.

If you can’t ace the character section on your forefather application with those qualifications no one can. Though the rank of Founding Father is usually restricted to members of the Continental Congress and Constitutional Convention, there seems to be more latitude in determining a forefather. In Provincetown, Massachusetts, for example, there is the National Monument to the Forefathers dedicated to the Pilgrims.

In the spirit of acceptance I acknowledge the role of the Pilgrims as our American forefathers as I do the slaves. We should be far enough removed from any era in which doing this would have been a controversy. Retaining notion of slaves as just background players to history as most of us still do is more fitting to the America of Jim Crow. Today there is no reason why all Americans can not look upon the first African Americans with a sense of pride for their perseverance and stamina in a life of wrongful imprisonment.

 And speaking of monuments… 

AOTL's Black History Month Extravaganza Kickoff

It figures that a country that endeavored to keep Blacks out of its business establishments and best restrooms would also exclude Blacks from its textbooks. Eleven years before creating Negro History Week in 1926, Carter G. Woodson undertook the feat of creating an academic discipline from the chronicles Africans in America. Fifty years had passed since the end of slavery and for the first time the suggestion of black history was being made. It would be as if nothing about the Vietnam War appeared in textbooks until 2025. Woodson’s move to promote learning and knowledge of black history was crucial to a fuller accounting of American history. And even with this achievement, he probably still took lots of shit for that big-ass fo'head. You know how people can be.