Autopsy of a Farewell

As we quickly approach the period that future generations will refer to as, “The Dark Time,” and we imagine the phrase, “Disgraced Former President Trump,” will enter the lexicon quickly, we could all do for a little hope and positivity.

President Obama’s Farewell Address the other night was a great speech. Thoughtful, inspiring, emotional, heartfelt. My one big criticism is that it may have been too long, with too many points, neatly wrapped up in a, “Yes We Can,” ribbon that left me wonder what it is we can actually do?

I’ve had this same conflicted feeling since I first saw Barack Obama on the national stage (specifically the 2004 DNC Stage, where he gave the Keynote Address). I could tell right away this guy would run for the Presidency but I didn’t think it would be so quick and certainly didn’t think he could win that handily against the Clinton Machine. I could not support him because of fundamental disagreements about the role of government and my belief that he lacked the executive experience, or significant DC experience, to do the job effectively. Nevertheless, I liked the man and I have liked him more as time has passed. In part because of who he is and in part because I am sickened by the often racist and stupid attacks upon. His ability to hold his head high and continue to set a good example in the face of such adversity is truly remarkable.

“Optics” matter and I am glad that my first son was born under the first African American President. I remember having a few black heroes when I was a kid in the 70s and 80s but they were athletes, like Muhammad Ali and Rod Carew, or pop stars and comedians, like Michael Jackson and Eddie Murphy. They were never men revered for their intellect or gravitas, and I never saw black people as leaders or holders of real power. What a different and better starting point this has given my boy. Without a doubt it has helped him to see all people as truly equal. Sadly, my second son, and countless other children, will likely become aware of what a President is through the funhouse mirror version of the Trump Administration; a key leader of the racist and stupid “birther” movement and a glaring example of everything I do not want my children to be.

Practical results also matter. In some ways President Obama surprised me, taking out a great many foreign jihadis, including the bin Laden raid, deep into the sovereign territory of our sometimes ally, Pakistan. More often than not, however, Obama’s results were lackluster at best. The Iran Deal was one of two key moves on which he bet his legacy and I fear it will not play out well. Arguably there were no good options on what to do with Iran but that won’t matter in the final assessment for most people when the deal goes bad. The President’s other major legacy move, of course, was Obamacare. On this one I was befuddled from the start. The President seemed to let his Congressional Colleagues stuff everything they wanted into the bill without any leadership or objections from the White House, creating a mountain of legislation that 99.9978% of us still don’t understand. And he did all this with zero support from Republicans, which was truly unprecedented for a legal initiative of that size and scope. Did more people get coverage? Yes. Did everyone I know see their healthcare expenses rise while their coverage got worse? Also, Yes. And now what? Will the “repeal and replace” keep those 20 million new people covered? Will Obama be able to argue that he at least got us that far? I don’t know. It’s such a mess.

You can argue that the Republicans were obstructionists, which is true, but then you get into this chicken and the egg game that goes back to the Bush Administration, and the Clinton Administration, and on and on, with back and forth, often petty, “They started it,” crap. Maybe, just maybe, after we live through the worst possible example of public behavior from our new Twitter Troll and Chief, we may swing back to a more civil discourse in the future but that doesn’t change the fact that Obama took the job, as W. Bush before him, to be a “uniter,” and neither proved to be up to the task. Maybe the real problem is that we expect too much from our leaders and do not demand enough from ourselves. That was certainly one of the points that I think President Obama was trying to make in his Farewell Address and certainly something I hope we all take to heart.

Holy Night for Aleppo

I helped one of my students, Elsa Lee, create this video to make us think about what the Christmas season really means and the plight of our fellow human beings, particularly those suffering in Aleppo.

I know it’s sad, and not what people want to think about during the holidays, but that’s kinda the point. It’s what we should be thinking about and doing more to help prevent. No, I don’t have some great, wise and simply answer about what to do for the people of Aleppo, but I do know that we, myself included, have done far too little. As people use to ask, “WWJD?” = What Would Jesus Do? I know he wouldn’t be railing against refugees and saying, “It’s not my problem,” and nor should we.

Podcast: The Marvelous Patric

The Marvelous Patric Lewandowski is a cartoonist, graphic designer, and liberal political junky. He’s also my latest guest on This Must Be The Podcast.

Patric and I met when we were teaching at the same school and found ourselves to be polar opposites, yet strangely in sync, depending on the issue and the day of the week.

We recorded this before the election, when we were both convinced that Trump couldn’t possibly win, but don’t let that stop you from listing because there are some good insights in here as well (if I do say so myself).

I also recommend you follow Patric on Twitter and check out freaksnsqueeks.com, along with his Patreon page.

deny-till-you-die

I’ll be on News Talk Nov 22

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I’ve been asked back on Twin Cities News Talk (aka KTLK) this Tuesday, November 22 at 8am CST. I made an appearance on there back in August, when Drew didn’t have a co-host, for the Up And At’ Em program, but now it’s the Justice & Drew show. You can listen in the Twin Cities on AM1130 or on the Internet from anywhere.

November 22 marks fifty three years since President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. I suspect we will mostly be talking about that tragic day and my documentary, Conspiracy Theorists Lie (2015), along with general conspiracy talk. It should be fun and I hope you will tune in.

UPDATED:

I will be going on the air at 7:30am CST.

UPDATE:

Here is the podcast version of of my appearance. I began in hour 2 and continued on into the first part of hour 3.

Fake History

There has been a good deal of talk lately about fake news and how social media has helped it flourish. Hopefully this will prompt more people to think critically about the bubbles we all live in and the need for thoughtful, fact-checked, and well-edited news outlets. This is not to say that the mainstream media is always correct, or free from bias, of course not, but it is vastly superior to the alt-right, radical leftist, and otherwise conspiratorial “news” on the Internet.

As regular readers already know, I have spent years now arguing against fake history and the danger of its widespread acceptance. My documentary, Conspiracy Theorists Lie (2015), deals with the gateway drug to all modern conspiracy theories, the assassination of President Kennedy, and the overwhelming load of nonsense that surrounds that case. Additionally, I have written on the subject and tried hard to champaign a rational, thoughtful view of history through every means at my disposal.

tellthetruthnov22I recently asked people to help me #TellTheTruthNov22 and turn that sad day into a hopeful one. Please take a few minutes out of your day to do what you can. Here are some suggestions:

  • Use the hashtag #TellTheTruthNov22 to show your support.
  • Invite your friends and enemies to check out my work.
  • Give Conspiracy Theorist Lie a positive review on the Internet Movie Database, Amazon, and indieflix.
  • Contact media outlets, show hosts, and journalist to tell them the truth is worth covering.

There is no shortage of conspiracy nuts out there with large media soapboxes and megaphones from which they can spew their poison. Men like Roger Stone, who even NPR has cited as simply a, “Trump advisor,” rather than a compulsive liar. Help me grow my audience and become the alternative to this garbage. Help me make fake history a thing of the past.