Have you noticed that when President Obama’s numbers are in the tank conservatives never question the surveys. They just accept the findings and repeat them to whoever listens, voluntarily or otherwise.
If he is unpopular, failing as a president, the worst at the moment president in just about ever, they just don’t question who was surveyed nor do they speculate on the survey’s bias.
But when things are good, they perform gymnastics in faulty logic to dismiss that with which they do not want to agree.
Recent polls have President Obama in the 6th year of his presidency tying Ronald Reagan in his 6th year, and quite a bit ahead of Dubbya at the same point in his presidency.
For those that missed it, President Obama has the same approval rating at the same point in his presidency as Saint Ronald did in his.
Conservatives do not like this.
They have labeled it propaganda resulting from surveys taken by people who are not real Americans, most likely “illegals”, perhaps even Cubans happy over recent events, or maybe even people from Harlem or California, who are communists, or drug addicted Muslims.
We know the people’s approval has nothing to do with Low gas prices, a very strong stock market, low unemployment, and an improving economy, oh, and universal healthcare.
Of course, when the president’s numbers are low these same people just have to be true American Patriots.
Every Christmas we go through the ritual of collective cleansing.
Every media outlet shows either pictures or videos of a soldier returning from a war zone jumping out of a big over sized, wrapped gift, being the person wearing the Santa suit, coming out from behind Santa’s big chair, or turning out to be the person wearing the odd costume in the Christmas pageant so that the spouse or child squeals with delight, and viewers and readers release a collective “Aw” at the preplanned moment of revelation.
We feel good.
We feel relieved.
For the rest of the year we convince ourselves that we have not sent our youth off to fight someone else’s wars while they let us do their work for them, and then condemn us for any failure, by wearing flags, putting bumper stickers on our vehicles, holding ceremonies that are more for us than the service members, and screaming that we support the troops while we actually do nothing to support that claim.
We even find ways to excuse them when Congress cuts programs that help veterans.
So once a year we give ourselves over to lessening our creeping guilt.
We do what we can to make ourselves feel good. We remove any crumb of our own guilt for putting people into unnecessary harm’s way.
We even claim they are fighting for our Constitutional rights without any way to back that claim other than constantly repeating that that is what they are doing.
We do whatever we can to feel better about supporting the unsupportable.
We want to feel happy without asking the question, ”Why are they coming home from somewhere anyway?”.
So we crave these cute, heartwarming videos and pictures.
We need them.
What we do not see, because it would make us face reality and our own dismissed guilt, are the boxes returning with soldiers unable to jump out of them to surprise anyone.
That is not easy for us to accept.
We don’t want to see that.
Once each week on at least one weekly talking head panel show someone intones that “these are the names of those who we lost this week” just before a list of names comes on the screen for a brief moment, and the show then returns to some discussion or friendly banter.
Unlike the homecoming videos we see repeatedly on multiple news casts and morning talk shows for multiple days, we might see this list once if we choose to watch that one Sunday morning show.
How different we might feel about the ease with which we wage war, if, instead of the list of names superimposed on a patriotic background, we saw the names superimposed over the scene of the coffins coming off a plane, and we saw them multiple times.
Perhaps for every cute coming home video with family members who can barely contain themselves hoping not to ruin the surprise, we should also see the more somber videos of the families waiting at the back of the transport plane for their son, daughter, spouse, or parent returning home in a less heartwarming way.
Perhaps then, we could see war, especially those we fight for others, in their correct perspective.
Perhaps we would finally question our eagerness to be the world’s police.
Perhaps, then, reality would be real.
But that would be uncomfortable. That would not elicit the “aw” we all release that is not just an expression of our appreciation of the cuteness of the image, but our feeling of relief that we can bestow on ourselves the forgiveness we accept freely, but do not earn.
How soon our attitudes would change if we matched videos box for box.
Anyone with half a brain, even those few with less than that, but who use it, have questioned for years if Rush Limbaugh lived in the real world with the rest of us, or did he have his own cranial Disney Land going on in there, making him unable to distinguish reality from fiction.
He answered that question this week as a kind of Christmas gift to the rational.
He was having a hard time wrapping his head around the idea that a Black Man could play James Bond, good ol’ double auht-seven.
Idris Elba has been considered to play Bond when Daniel Craig’s commitment to play the role runs out soon.
Elba has the look and build to be an impressive James Bond, but Rush lamented, “James Bond is a total concept put together by Ian Fleming. He was white and Scottish, period. That is who James Bond is.”
Actually, to clarify, Sean Connery was Scottish.
“We’ve had 50 years of white Bonds because Bond is white,” Limbaugh argued. “Bond was never Black. Ian Fleming never created a Black Brit to play James Bond.”
His train really went off the rails when he asked his listeners if it would make any sense to have white actors play such historical figures as Al Sharpton, Nelson Mandela, Condolezza Rice, President Barack Obama, and First Lady Michelle Obama.
“We can always be more fair. We can always be more equal about it. So, fine and dandy. George Clooney and Kate Hudson as Barack and Michelle Obama, and you can have Idris Elba as James Bond.”
Apparently, Poor Rush has forgotten that James Bond is a fictional character, and as one can be molded and refigured, while the Black people he listed are real historic figures.
Stories containing Bond are by their very nature fictional, while stories dealing with the Black people he listed are, well, based on real people.
He must have a hard time grasping Dr. Who.
I did this Christmas picture during my first Christmas season living at the Habana Inn in Oklahoma City.
I had joined two GLBT groups when I first moved to OKC, Simply Equal and the Oklahoma Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus (OGLPC), and I had been doing cartoons for the Gayly.
This is how I learned what the OKC/GLBT Community was all about, got introduced to the wider political environment in the city and state, and got to meet quite a few of the movers and shakers.
14 years before this, I had been teaching in Stoughton, Massachusetts where I was active in the teachers union in that town and through that the Massachusetts Teachers Association.
Before I became the president of the Stoughton Teachers Association I had attempted to institute a modified sheltered workshop for my Special Education students. That had been a bit of a battle that introduced to me to the political underbelly of a school district which showed me that there were a lot of education decisions made that had little to do with educating students, but more to do with administrative self promotion. This was something I encountered wherever I was to teach after that, and it was also something many retired teachers I meet here on Cape Cod had come to experience, and which influenced many to leave the profession.
A simple request that met with some rather odd objections and resistance, as well as that Wizard of Oz approach of adding a new requirement as each existing requirement was met, got coverage in a local regional newspaper both during this process and after when the program was finally allowed and it showed great success.
Later as the union president I took on the Board and superintendent as they attempted to target certain teachers under the guise of needing to reorganize the schools. They were clumsy and too obvious, and definitely were not prepared for strong opposition. The employees of the district were so disturbed by this draconian sloppiness that we were united in opposition.
Being a long process, it was featured in the media on a regular basis, and the public exposure of the goings-on helped bring the plan to a halt.
Meanwhile a few towns away, there was a minister strongly fighting for human rights.
Every time he would go before his town’s Board of Selectman, organize an event at his church, or had some gathering in the town square, he got coverage in the same paper that was covering my activities.
I read every report about his attempts to gain equal rights for all people, especially Gay people, and this was in the late 70’s early 80’s, so he was extremely progressive, often alone, and a target of the prejudiced.
And, as I was to find out in the most unimaginable location, he was also reading the newspaper reports about my sheltered workshop and opposition to that reorganization plan. But, during that time, we had never met.
I was sitting at an OGLPC meeting one night in what had been the Oasis Center on 39th street among the Gay bars, and the gentleman sitting next to me, who was a long time member of the group, was explaining his attempt to gather all manner of GLBT historiana for a planned museum. He had pamphlets, posters, documents, newspaper articles, pictures, anything that dealt with the history of the GLBT Community in Oklahoma City and was looking for a place to house it as his own home did not have enough space for what he had collected.
When he was asked about the viability of his plan, he explained that when he had been a pastor of a church in a small town in Massachusetts he had done the same thing for his church and another local organization.
Something sounded familiar about him and his story.
We got to talking and found that we were very familiar with each other as I was the teacher he had read about 14 years before, and he the minister I had read about.
He had eventually moved to Oklahoma City to assume the pastorship of a church, and I had moved on to Los Angeles before arriving in Oklahoma City as a result of a “series of errors in judgment”.
And here we were sitting at a meeting in Oklahoma City, the minister and the teacher who knew of each other, but who had never met, finally having that meeting.
Bob died not long after that from a heart attack, but not before we had got to know each other better working for GLBT equality in OKC.
That’s Bob on the left side of the picture sporting the mustache and the bald head.
I put him in the picture as a personal remembrance, both of the good guy he was, and to our having been fans of each other who never met when we read about each other, but had finally gotten acquainted when we were fighting for the same thing, not in different towns this time, but together in a city neither of us ever thought we would be in.
That was 20 year ago.
So I thought I would use that picture to wish everyone a Merry ChrisKwanHoliChanamas this year and remember Bob at the same time.