Yes We Might Still Can

31 01 2010

So I’ve got to be frank y’all… I didn’t really have high hopes for this address.  I had, at most, medium hopes for this address because I 1. was (am) still waiting for comprehensive HCR 2. was (am)  still waiting for a comprehensive plan to end our wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan and 3. was (am) still waiting for DOMA to be history and for everyone to be able to ask and tell.
And also, I was all like “What in the Sam-Goody” about this whole spending freeze business.

So yeah, I was more than happy to smart-alack the State of the Union address.

To get me through this I was aided and comforted by the following players:
Heineken Light
And the music of Funny Girl (which RHS started her FIRST viewing of two nights ago].

Let’s get this crack-alacking…

8:57PM Oh, Michelle you are a vision in purple.  The hair.  The makeup.  The Michelleness.  I shall call this look Purple Reign.

First Lady of Fabulous

RHS: I like Michelle’s short hair.
BPD: I know, right?  That is one magic hot comb.  I hope that she wears it that way when we get married.
RHS: You and I?
BPD: Uhm, sure, that’ll work too.

8:58PM I like the that all the Black People have taken to wearing their Church colors to the Chamber since Obama’s been in office.

9:05AM Who are these two old guys?  Are these really the two guys you want leading you in?

9:06PM Here he is.  Clapter ensues, but with far less rock-star fawning than the last time.  It’s hard to separate the sound of the cheers from the sound of the boos.  Even Michelle looks bored.  That’s not a good thing.  She usually gives him at least fifteen minutes before tuning out.

Nancy Pelosi: Look at my beautiful mother of pearl necklace.  I will choke a bitch with it if necessary.
Joe Biden: He’s so beautiful, even with all of the gray hairs.  I could cry.

Barack Obama: We must answer history’s call.
History: I don’t know how.  Y’all haven’t paid the phone bill in nearly ten years.

Barack Obama:
Change has not come fast enough.
Joe Biden: I hope he says, “I feel the need for speed.”  It really sends a shiver down my spine.  I’m so proud to be his Goose.

Barack Obama: “It is because of this spirit, this great decency and great strength that I have never been more hopeful about America’s future than I am tonight. Despite our hardships, our union is strong. We do not give up. We do not quit. We do not allow fear or division to break our spirit. In this new decade, it’s time the American people get a government that matches their decency, that embodies their strength.”

Chamber: This is the part where we clap.
Pelosi: Do it!
Joe Biden:  The clapping keeps me from crying.

Barack Obama: We all hated the bank bailout.  Well, not you Citibank, or you Goldman Sachs, or you, JP Morgan.  “But when I ran for president, I promised I wouldn’t just do what was popular — I would do what was necessary.”

BPD: I don’t feel like writing that line on my dry-erase board when you unveil this spending freeze crapscape.  I need to go to my happy place.
Babs: Nicky Arstein.  Nicky Arnstein.

BPD: Thanks Babs.

Barack Obama: “So I supported the last administration’s efforts to create the financial rescue program… As a result, the markets are now stabilized, and we have recovered most of the money we spent on the banks.  To recover the rest, I have proposed a fee on the biggest banks. I know Wall Street isn’t keen on this idea, but if these firms can afford to hand out big bonuses again, they can afford a modest fee to pay back the taxpayers who rescued them in their time of need.”

…We cut taxes.

BPD: I’m eating ramen.

Barack Obama: Let me repeat: we cut taxes.

BPD: Let me repeat: Spicy Chili Ramen.

Barack Obama:
We haven’t raised taxes on a single person.  That’s why we can’t afford the shit you want like healthcare.

Barack Obama: The stimulus worked.  Sort of.  “That is why jobs must be our number one focus for 2010” (not HCR, you just put that out of your pretty little heads) and that is why I am calling for a new jobs bill tonight.

Also “…tonight, I’m proposing that we take $30 billion of the money Wall Street banks have repaid and use it to help community banks give small businesses the credit they need to stay afloat. I am also proposing a new small business tax credit — one that will go to over 1 million small businesses who hire new workers or raise wages. While we’re at it, let’s also eliminate all capital gains taxes on small business investment and provide a tax incentive for all businesses, large and small, to invest in new plants and equipment.”
How ‘bout them apples?

BPD:  How small, does the business have to be?  Like, for example… this being a smart-ass thing is sort of my business.  Does that count.

Michelle Obama’s bob: Glare.
BPD: You’re right, I shouldn’t have asked.

Barack: We lost 7M jobs over 2 years.

RHS: Holy shit.
Michelle Obama’s bob: Language.

Barack Obama: “From the day I took office, I have been told that addressing our larger challenges is too ambitious — that such efforts would be too contentious, that our political system is too gridlocked and that we should just put things on hold for awhile.
For those who make these claims, I have one simple question:
How long should we wait? How long should America put its future on hold?”

BPD: It looks like we’re going to wait until we get rid of the misuse of the filibuster.

Barack Obama: I don’t want to pick on the banks… but I will because that’s kind of all that I’ve got going for me right now, and I want you to remember this when I tell you about the spending freeze I want to enact.

We need clean energy jobs.  “…We need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. That means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country. It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development. It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies.”

BPD: This all sounds very dirty.

Barack Obama: And I’m sure that if I say the word bipartisan enough, it will be come real.

BPD: Oh, Barack, I bet you still believe in the Easter Bunny, too.

Barack Obama: We will double our exports over the next five years…

Peaco: He’s just fattening them up for the slaughter.

Barack Obama: Trade shmade.

The Chamber: Beatlemania.
Rahm Emmanuel:  Rahm Emmanuel stands for no man.

Barack Obama: “In the 21st century, one of the best anti-poverty programs is a world-class education. In this country, the success of our children cannot depend more on where they live than their potential.
When we renew the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, we will work with Congress to expand these reforms to all 50 states. Still, in this economy, a high school diploma no longer guarantees a good job. I urge the Senate to follow the House and pass a bill that will revitalize our community colleges, which are a career pathway to the children of so many working families. To make college more affordable, this bill will finally end the unwarranted taxpayer subsidies that go to banks for student loans. Instead, let’s take that money and give families a $10,000 tax credit for four years of college and increase Pell Grants. And let’s tell another 1 million students that when they graduate, they will be required to pay only 10 percent of their income on student loans, and all of their debt will be forgiven after 20 years — and forgiven after 10 years if they choose a career in public service. Because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they chose to go to college. And it’s time for colleges and universities to get serious about cutting their own costs — because they too have a responsibility to help solve this problem.”

BPD: Oooh!  That sounds super sexy.
Peaco: You always were a soft touch.
RHS: Christ, Nancy Pelosi, sit down.
BPD: Nancy just got these new hips, she wants to take them for a spin.

Barack Obama:
I know that I’ve fucked up HCR y’all… but you need to give me just a little more time.

Babs: People, people who need people are the luckiest people in the world.

Barack Obama: Remember all the shit I inherited?  Doesn’t that distract you from my failures and short comings?  Bush was worse than I was!  You all still hate his mess more than you hate mine.

Republicans: BOO!
BPD: Booing the truth doesn’t make it less true.

Barack Obama: SPENDING FREEZE.  Just think of it as the Big Chill, or alternately, the reason why your Grandmother hides her money all around the house and doesn’t trust banks.

Babs: Is motherfucker trying to rain on my parade?
Michelle Obama’s bob:  Language.

Peaco:  This guy sure does look a lot like the scalpel guy you voted for.
BPD:  That’s just want I was thinking.

Barack Obama: I know some (that’s you Rachel Maddow) have said that we can’t address the deficit by freezing deficit spending when so many are still hurting.  That’s why you won’t get really screwed until next year.

Dr. Rachel Maddow: Oh, BPD you’re so dreamy!
RHS: Hunny you’re talking to yourself out loud again.

Barack Obama: You think that I’m screwing you with the spending freeze… the Supreme Court REALLY screwed you.  “Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections. Well, I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people, and that’s why I’m urging Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to right this wrong.”

Supreme Court Justices: Remember people, this is just like those bear drills we do.  Sit very quietly and very still and the danger will pass.

Barack Obama: Shit is still really gritty in Washington DC because y’all can’t get along.  And you’re killing America.
Yes, YOU.
Democrats, grow a pair.  Bo has bigger balls than you do.

Bo knows politics

“And if the Republican leadership is going to insist that 60 votes in the Senate are required to do any business at all in this town, then the responsibility to govern is now yours as well. Just saying no to everything may be good short-term politics, but it’s not leadership. We were sent here to serve our citizens, not our ambitions. So let’s show the American people that we can do it together. This week, I’ll be addressing a meeting of the House Republicans. And I would like to begin monthly meetings with both the Democratic and Republican leadership. I know you can’t wait.”

BPD: Oooh, you’re in trouble.

Barack Obama: Security.  Uhm… we’re kind of secure.  We could be more secure but … uhm… Quick!  Everyone, clap for Michelle!

BPD: Clapping for Michelle does in fact distract me from Pakistan and the spending freeze and the whole gays are second class citizens thing.

Barack Obama: This year I will work with Congress to end DODT.  Or, maybe next year.

“In the end, it is our ideals, our values, that built America — values that allowed us to forge a nation made up of immigrants from every corner of the globe, values that drive our citizens still. Every day, Americans meet their responsibilities to their families and their employers. Time and again, they lend a hand to their neighbors and give back to their country. They take pride in their labor, and are generous in spirit. These aren’t Republican values or Democratic values they’re living by, business values or labor values. They are American values.”

Joe Biden: This is the good part.  I love him.  I wonder if I can discretely get my hanky out without Nancy noticing.
Nancy Pelosi: I bet Joe doesn’t know where his hanky is and he’s going to end up snotting all over me.  I have got to switch chairs.

Barack Obama: I am still eloquent.  And also, I love Newsies!  Arise and seize the day.  “Let’s seize this moment — to start anew, to carry the dream forward, and to strengthen our union once more.”
Peace out homies.

In the end, I think that it was a great return to the rhetorical highs of candidate Obama but you know.  Spending freeze.  And Wars.  And DADT.  And DOMA.  And HCR.  And ramen has become a major staple of my diet.

But, all of that aside, I haven’t erased the dry-erase board yet.  Because still have hope.

I just hope the Obama administration has got hustle.


He ain’t Dick Cheney. He’s my brother.

23 10 2009

I never thought that I’d say this but, you guys, I’m worried about Dick Cheney.

And not worried in your run of the mill, Holy Mantights Batman, that VeePee Vermin has Struck Again! sort of way.

I’m talking worried like, Sweet Rollerskating Jeebus it’s Friday Night and my Budget Will Only Allow for Beer or Pizza- Not Both.  You know, seriously worried.

At first, I thought that he had a case of the George “It’s not a lie if you believe it” Constanza-s.  But after seeing the footage on Dr. Maddow’s show last night I’m becoming a bit alarmed.

My brother is unwell.  He presents with symptoms concurrent with schizophrenia.  His illness manifests itself in paranoid delusions, anti-social behavior and disordered thoughts.  He has accused me of working in collusion with Them while being part of a vast gay conspiracy to imprison him.  He once told me that he had to stop using the internet because the computer was talking to him and watching him.

He refuses to seek treatment because he believes he is the only okay one in the world.

Listening to the voracity with which Dick Cheney defends and praises the use of torture is like listening to my brother defend and praise his “camouflaging” and admonish me and the rest of my family for suggesting that he might not need to camouflage if he would seek professional help.
When Dick Cheney talks about giving comfort to the enemy, I imagine one of my conversations with my brother when he accuses me and my sister and my cousins of being snitches who are out to get him.
Thinking about the fact that Dick Cheney spent most of the 8 years of the Bush Administration in an undisclosed bunker that could not be imaged on Google satellites reminds me of the fact that not once in the past 6 years has my brother told his address or kept the same phone number for more than six months.
The unwavering sureness of Dick Cheney’s convictions, despite fact, history and public opinion to the contrary is indicative to me of deep and chronic delusion, paranoid in nature.
I think he’s crazy.  And not just racist and mean-spirited crazy like Pat Buchanan, Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck.
Really crazy.

You know, when he was in charge I was scared for us.  Now, despite my best intentions, I’m scared for him, as I am scared for my brother.

Team America, Fuck Yeah!

9 10 2009

Suck it, Brazil.

Earlier this week I was feeling all down about the fact that America lost its bid for the 2016 Olympics but I must say this news this morning of President Barack Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize – after three of our scientists taking the Nobel Prize in Medicine – really eases the pain.

After all, Brazil may have won the Olympics, but they didn’t win any Nobel Prizes.  Maybe we can loan them one of our 318.¹ 

Now I am sure that some outlets on the Right are really working hard today to paint the fact that our sitting President winning a Nobel Peace Prize is a super bad thing.  I’m sure that someone will even have the gall to throw in a little Affirmative Action into the mix to which I say: It sure as hell is an Affirmative Action pick.  Barack Obama winning the Nobel Peace prize AFFIRMS that his ACTIONS are in line with the aims of the global community and AFFIRMS that America’s ACTIONS are being well received by that community.  Which is awesome for Team America.

If the certain outlets on the Right want to believe that this is bad then, well, that’s on them.  Some people just like to be miserable.  Maybe the flags that they’ve wrapped themselves in have gotten too tight and have decreased the flow of oxygen to their brains.  Maybe they’ve been smothered by their tea bags.

Course, I would like to remind them, that you can’t be a right proper jingoist, if you’re going to be all Team America, Fuck No about this.

And also, in Team America news… we fucking shot the moon.  And it’s as awesome as it sounds.  I’m going to wait until to post Dr. Rachel Maddow’s take on it tonight.  Which should be totally nerdalicious.  Fuck Yeah!



¹Which makes me kind of sad for Brazil.  Seriously, maybe we can give them one of ours.  Not Barack’s, but someone’s. 
Brazil is awesome – my friends have the pictures on Facebook to prove it.  The Olympics are going to be a rocking good time because, I firmly believe, Brazil knows how to party.  And sport.

Doggone it.

17 09 2009

Some people have no home training.

You know the people I’m talking about.



Joe Wilson

And some people act like they’ve never even been house broken.  Rush Limbaugh is just that kind of person.  He’s the kind that you don’t even want in your house but if he has to come in, you want to make sure you’ve put some newspapers down because you know that he’s just going to run around yapping and pissing all over your nice clean hardwood floors.

That’s why my Grandma always had outside dogs.

Voodoo Child

9 09 2009

Another day, another opportunity to make smart ass comments about the things that happen in politics.


Let’s introduce the players while we’re waiting for things to get started:

  • Presidential Address Buffet.
    Leftover Chinese food from last night.  Leftover pizza from two night’s ago.  Mini-Heinekens.  Can of coke.
  • My fiance the lovely and talented Red Headed Stepchild (RHS).
  • Peaco

CNN Pundits are trying to low-ball our expectations and prepare us for the eventuality that Obama will punk-out on the public option.  RHS starts yelling at the TV and then goes into the kitchen to get a mini-Heineken for herself.  (That’s my girl, just drink the pain away, sweetheart.  Drink the pain away.)
I feel like I should say right now, that logically I am prepared for Obama to punk out on public option, but emotionally I am not.  I really don’t want to have to end this post with “Fucking Grow a Pair Obama.”  But… we’ll see.

It’s go time!

RHS:  Peaco is a central presence at any political event.
Peaco: Silence.

Michelle Obama enters.  I think that she has her very own wind-machine for her hair.  That’s the kind of power I want, ya’ll.  Also, I love the color on her, but I am not sure about the pleats.  The Snobs on the Blacksnob group chat totally agreed.

Is it just me, or does Eric Holder look a lot like Oprah’s Stedman Graham?

Eric Holder

Obama's man

Oprahs man

Oprah's man

Ed Rollins, Republican Strategist,  wants to “argue on the merits.”  I want to be a former lover of Angelina Jolie.  We can’t always get what we want (especially if Republicans are in the vicinity).

Obama enters as I sing the Rocky theme song in my head.  Clapter ensues.

These people sure do love to clap.

No, thank you!

Nancy Pelosi:  I have a gavel!  And some pearls!
Members of Congress:  Eh!  Oh!
Arsenio Hall:  Woot!  Woot!

Obama:  When I spoke here last winter, you all liked me so much better.  Remember liking me?  Let’s go back to that happy place.

Obama: Middle class Americans are being bankrupted by health care costs.  The fact that America can’t provide health care for Americans makes us an embarrassment to the world.  I’ve got the numbers to prove it.

Miami Sound Machine: Get on your feet! Stand up and take some action!
RHS:  The members of Congress or worse than Broadway audiences.  They’ll clap at anything.

Obama:  We know that we must reform the system.  The question is how.
BPD:  The answer is single payer.  At least a public option.
Obama:  I believe it makes more sense to build on what works and fix what doesn’t.
Whitney Houston:  I believe in you and me.

Obama: Let’s focus on how we have been able to come together and get unprecedented work done.

Obama: “The time for games has passed.

Obama:  All right America.  Let’s get it cracking.

  1. If you’re already covered, you’re straight.
    1. This plan will just make your shit all the more tight.
    2. You can’t get dropped for pre-existing conditions.
    3. Limits on out of pocket expenses.
    4. Routine check-ups and preventive care are covered.
  2. If your insurance situation is jacked up you’re going to get something you can afford.
    1. An insurance exchange will be created.  (It will take four years to get rolling.)
    2. If you can’t afford it, we’ll provide tax credits.
    3. In the meantime we’re going to provide you with affordable options.
    4. Individuals will be required to carry basic health insurance.
    5. Business will be required to provide health care or chip in to cover the cost of their workers.
    6. Small businesses will get a nice little deal.
    7. Big business will get the wrath of Sasha Obama if they don’t.
  3. Improving our health care system only works if everyone does their part.


“…given all the misinformation that’s been spread over the past few months, I realize — I realize that many Americans have grown nervous about reform. So tonight, I want to address some of the key controversies that are still out there.

Some of people’s concerns have grown out of bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost. The best example is the claim, made not just by radio and cable talk show hosts, but by prominent politicians, that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens.

Now, such a charge would be laughable if it weren’t so cynical and irresponsible. It is a lie plain and simple.”

Congressman Joe Wilson of South Carolina, just interrupted the President and called him a liar.  In the words of The Coasters, “yakity yak.  Don’t talk back.”
In the words of my Grandmother, “Child, sit down and be quiet.  Can’t you see grown folks is talking.”

WTF Break

RHS:  Did someone just boo the President of the United States, Commander and Chief of our Armed Forces and Leader of the Free World, and call him a liar?
BPD:  You heard it too?  I thought that I was stroking out.  That is some mess.  This is a joint session of Congress not an Octagon match.
Peaco:  I wonder if that would have happened if the color of his skin doesn’t make him fair game to many people in the room?  This denial of rank and privilege is a common thread of White Americans in response to people of color.  No one was going around hanging images of Dubya in effigy.  I know.  I am a man of color too.

I will not back down on the basic principle that, if Americans can’t find affordable coverage, we will provide you with a choice.  (How you like them apples, BPD?)
BPD:  Sweet, hunny, listen, the POTUS’ balls just dropped!

Obama:  I have no idea how I’m going to pay for this.

RHS & BPD: We’ll pay for it, Jesus!  Just get the shit done!


ObamaNow, part of the reason I faced a trillion-dollar deficit when I walked in the door of the White House is because too many initiatives over the last decade were not paid for, from the Iraq war to tax breaks for the wealthy.
I will not make that same mistake with health care.

Obama:  Old people, Medicare is safe.

My door is always open.  But know this: I will not waste time with those who have made the calculation that it’s better politics to kill this plan than to improve it.
I think that Obama got my letter.

Obama:  We will call you out your lies.  And we will stare right at the Republicans while we do it.

Obama: Ted Kennedy
Biden: Joe Biden is a real man!  Joe Biden cries!
Pelosi:  Thank goodness I wore my waterproof mascara.
Obama:  Now I’m going to put some Republicans on the spot and make them feel bad about punking Ted Kennedy’s memory.
Pelosi:  Joe?
Joe:  Don’t look at me woman, I’m barely keeping it together.  I am two gentlemanly sniffles away from breaking into full out sobs.

It is over.  Barack Obama just lit that shit on fire and gyrated over it.

I stand up next to a mountain, and I chop it down with the edge of my hand.

I stand up next to a mountain, and I chop it down with the edge of my hand.

The crowd loses its mind.

9:07PM  – RETORT
Rep.  BoustanyLord Boustany here responding.  My arms sort of flap at my sides when I’m not wearing my crown.  I think that when people get sick, it’s their own fault.  Ta! Ta! peons!

BPD:  Loud Boustany = FAIL.  When you make Bobby Jindal seem like he’s got Ferris Bueller charm you’re not doing anything but helping my team.


Dudes, Barack fucking killed it.  The speech was well structured and I really applauded when he got forceful.  I was glad to hear him clearly articulate what he wants.  I am very interested to see how the wonks work it all out.  I was really pleased with the way that he directed a great deal of his address to the Republicans.  Equally pleased was the, “I think I just soiled my pants” face that most of them started to make.

He really brought it home at the end with the Ted Kennedy bit.  That was just masterful.  I feel good that he’s still in the fight.

And I know, that it’s not cogent policy, but enough cannot be said for how useful a little hope injection can be.

Yes we (still) can.

24 08 2009

Dear President Barack Hussein Obama,

Every morning before I leave for work, and every evening when I return from work I look at the dry-erase board on the back of my apartment door and I re-read your “Yes We Can” speech.  It drives my wife, Johanna, crazy because she has been asking me for nearly 10 months to erase it so that we can free up the board for love notes to each other.
We are obnoxious like that.  I am sure that you and Michelle are kind of like that as well.

Barack and Michelle sitting in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G.

Barack and Michelle sitting in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G.

I’m telling you this so that you can understand its very real, not just sentimental, value in my life.  Every day, when I come home from working longer than I should have at my job at a non-profit in New York City … every single day when I worry about whether the agency is going to have to shut any of our clinics, or reduce our counseling services or if I’m going to still have my job and my healthcare at the end of the week – I look at your speech and I am confident that I am headed in the right direction.

I’m telling you this so that when I tell you that it took me seven tries before I finally succeeded in crafting a post about your win you will understand that much like Michelle, for the first time in my adult life, I finally felt proud.  Finally felt American.
I meant it when I wrote:

I know that there are good policy reasons and feel-good historic reasons for feeling jubilant about President-Elect Barack Obama but when I see him, I see the Daddy that I should have had. The Daddy that a lot of little girls and little boys (and not so little girls and not so little boys) should have had.
When I see Barack Obama with his daughters I see everything that I lost when I was ten. I see how my father should have filled the space in. I see a man who doesn’t believe in giving up, who smiles like a warm embrace and who calls his daughters every chance he gets. I see someone who would not abandon his responsibilities, Michelle, Malia, Sasha and now the United States of America.

I still mean it.
I’d just like to take this opportunity to clarify what I mean by your responsibilities to the our United States of America.
You are responsible for the 50 million uninsured in America.
You are responsible for the 25 million underinsured in America.  (As of 2008)
You are responsible for my fellow citizens who are being bullied and intimidated and dissuaded and told that they are Nazis or Socialists; who are receiving death threats; who are being shouted down and threatened in their towns.  You are responsible for providing them with a clear message about what is going on with our desire for health care reform.
You are responsible for affecting real health care reform.
Real health care reform includes at least a public option.

You are responsible for honoring my vote.  When I voted for Michelle, I voted for a public option.

Let me also clarify what I do not mean by your responsibilities.
You are not responsible for the “legality” of any of the uninsured.
You are not responsible for the people who seek to exploit the fear and hatred of scared and manipulated people.
You are not responsible for spending your hard-won political capital at the counters of the Republican Party.  No matter how long you sit there, they do not intend to serve you.  They intend to do all that they can to humiliate you and harm America.
You are not responsible for sacrificing real health care reform on the altar of bipartisanship.

But in case that wasn’t clear enough, here’s a quote that will clear it all up from someone we both hold in high esteem.

This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.



The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Wise, indeed.

17 08 2009

Tim Wise defends his view that racism is “driving force behind the outpouring of anger” that we’ve been seeing this summer in town halls in this essay entitled, “Racism, Right-Wing Rage and the Politics of White Nostalgia“.

My favourite is this bit:

This second writer sought to explain herself further however, just so as not to be misunderstood. When people like her claim they want to return to “what our forefathers started,” she continued, they simply mean the part about being dependent on God, rather than government.

Of course, last time I checked God wasn’t offering to pick up the tab for chemo treatments, organ transplants, or any other medical procedure for that matter. Oh, and not to put too fine a point on it, but the founders actually did foster quite a lot of government dependence: enshrining slavery was about government protecting white people from the competition of free black labor, and white folks becoming quite dependent on that protection. Stealing native land and then redistributing it to white people was about dependence on government-imposed violence. And later, yet still in the supposedly “good old days,” government dependence was at the heart of segregation–which artificially subsidized white people in the job, school and housing markets–and was at the heart of the FHA and VA loans that white families used (and from which black families were all but completely blocked) in the 40s and 50s, which literally built the white middle class.

But I’m guessing that when she uses a phrase like “dependence on government” she isn’t thinking about the white folks who were given 270 million acres of essentially free land under the Homestead Act. Or the 15 million or so white families who got those racially preferential home loans, with government underwriting and guarantees, thanks to programs implemented by liberals and thanks to pressure from the left. I’m thinking she isn’t talking about the white soldiers (but typically not the black ones) who were able to return from World War II and make use of the GI Bill to go to college, or get job training. And the fact that she likely doesn’t think of those kinds of things and those kinds of people as being dependent on government is, of course, precisely the problem, and the point I was trying to make.

Indeed several of the e-mails made this same argument about opposing “government dependence,” all the while oblivious, it appears, to the way in which that concept has become so color-coded in the white imagination over the past several decades. In fact, this is a point I had made on the program: that according to a significant body of social science research (among the most prominent, Martin Gilens’s brilliant book, Why Americans Hate Welfare), most whites perceive social program spending aimed at helping the have-nots (be they income have-nots, housing have-nots, or health care-have nots) as being about giving something to those people, who are, of course, conceived of in black and brown terms, and taking from “hard-working” white folks in order to do it. So if the notion of government dependence itself has been racialized–and the evidence says it has been–to say that it is only this dependence you oppose, and that racism has nothing to do with it is to either lie or engage in self-deception of a most unfortunate and unbecoming variety.

He really gets into it and I really appreciate that he does.  Please give it a look-see. 

That Tim Wise, he certainly lives up to his name.