Wednesday, April 30, 2008

No more kings

This is it! Grizzly Dad's official endorsement for President in the 2008 election:
The envelope please...
Barack Obama!

I'm sure this comes as no surprise, as much as I'm sure you've all been thinking about which candidate I'm endorsing, but nevertheless it seems appropriate or maybe just therapeutic to talk about my reasoning.

And maybe "reasoning" is the wrong word.

A recurring criticism from the other candidates is that Obama is all hat no horse (or however that expression goes). He invokes such abstractions as "hope" and "change", but offers no real solutions. I think, though, that if you go beyond the speeches and read his actual platform statements you'll find that he does have plans and schemes to go with his hopes and dreams. But he's smart enough to know that, in a rally-type situation, the idea is to inspire. And we desperately need inspiration.

In listening to and reading news media's assessments of the popular mindset on particular issues, fear seems to be a recurring theme. Yesterday a commenter on the radio mentioned that Americans are "scared" of rising gas prices. It seems that during previous energy crises this would not have been the word to describe to describe our reaction. "Concerned", "worried", "angry", yes. "Scared" of rising gas prices? Why, that sounds, how should I put it, kind of chicken-shit, don't it? We're scared of gas prices, immigrants, terrorists, pastors, school shoot-em-ups, empty lapels, the war on Christmas. We're a very afraid citizenry these days.

This doesn't sit well with a vision of America that resides somewhere in my brain. I was 8 in 1976, and America had caught Bicentennial fever. We were all feeling pretty patriotic, but it was a different flavor of patriotism- it had roller skates and a disco beat, and celebrated a narrative in which a brave bunch of ragtag colonialists decided to defy an authoritarian regime. Because of the brave defiance of our forefathers, we had the freedom to wear our jogging shorts a little too short and have rocks as pets, and our comics could be unknown and our devil could be out-fiddled. We were silly, to be sure, but we weren't scared.

On Saturday mornings we sang along to Schoolhouse Rock, which described a version of American History in this vein. No More Kings made George III a father-figure trying to keep his adolescent kids in check, The Shot Heard 'Round the World celebrated the Minute Men as a grassroots movement that took up arms against a conservative (in the sense of "traditional" government using techniques that we might convincingly label as "terrorist" (gasp!). The Great American Melting Pot celebrated our history of immigration.

It's hard to hear these songs now and not have the sneaking suspicion that, in today's climate, all the above themes would be glossed over or condemned outright instead of emphasized. I'm reminded of a line from a Grammar Rocks piece on interjections: "Hooray, I'm for the other team!".

Yeah, Schoolhouse Rock was propaganda, and probably not entirely historically accurate, but the propaganda element worked on me to the extent that my image of Americans persists wherein we don't scare easy, we don't take the easy way out, we aren't afraid of the "other" (because we ARE the "other"), and we value individual freedom for all, all the time, not just when we're feeling secure.

And I have to ask myself "does Hillary Clinton reflect that image?".
You don't need my answer. Ask yourself the question, and I'm 99% certain you're answer will be the same as mine.

Whether or not you're an enthusiastic supporter, I think you have to admit that Obama does reflect this image. And so he gets my support.
Is it all image? Though I'm sure there's an element of grooming involved, I don't think he's all hat. He's horse too, and in my mind that horse's rider is a cartoon Paul Revere. And he's wearing roller-skates with red, white and blue pompoms.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Pope to bishops: "Alter, boys!"

So the Pope took a really hard line about this pedophilia stuff that's popped up in the last ten or twenty years, chastising the Church's power elite for their tendency to cover up or brush aside allegations of abuse. Said Il Popito,
"And if I ever see this Ratzinger guy, I'm going to give him a piece of my mind. Why, he's just about the worst of the bunch. What an asshole!".

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

It's funny- I love pranks, but I hate effort.

It looks like I'm going to let another April 1 come and go without playing a prank on any of my friends. This might be a good thing. My roommate in 1994 (or thereabouts) didn't think it was all that funny when I reeled into the apartment holding my ribs and coughing up blood from the capsule I'd hidden in my mouth, claiming that I'd just been jumped and finally, just as he had the phone in his hand to call the police, telling him to "make sure you tell them what day it is". Of course, since then I really have been jumped and it's not as funny as you'd think!
So, I dunno. What's that huge spider doing on our shoulder? Did I get ya?


9/11 Conspiracy Theories 'Ridiculous,' Al Qaeda Says