Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Conspiracy Theory of the Day

The Barack Obama - Reverend Wright connection has been troubling to many voters. Political analysts and opponents in the presidential race have not been willing to let the matter die a natural death, and probably will not do so any time soon. Even after Obama’s magnificent speech in Philly many people remained dissatisfied because Obama did not publicly “disown” Wright. For some odd reason Jeremiah Wright subsequently chose to pick on and insult Obama rather than quietly going away into the night, which one would have expected him to do if there was genuine friendship between the men. Why would he choose to sabatoge Obama's chances at getting elected unless something was going on that the general public was not aware of? Pride? Love of the spotlight? Betrayal complex? Or was there something more mysterious to it? Granted, it is understandable that Rev. Wright would want to defend himself and his church after being condemned and caricatured on a daily basis. But surely there was a way to accomplish this without doing further harm to Obama. For one thing, he could have waited until after the upcoming primaries in Indiana and North Carolina before making public statements. When he did speak he could have made it clear that he and his former parishioner agree to disagree on certain principles, reinforcing that he speaks for himself alone and that matching every one of his beliefs (many of which are not especially outlandish or inflammatory despite what his critics claim) with those of Obama is ludicrous. The most unAmerican thing I can think of is to belittle freedom of speech by roasting a man for criticizing this country as if we're all supposed to have our heads stuck in the sand and believe the US of A is a utopian society. He is guilty perhaps of overstating his opinions. Someone who shouts at you will always seem less reasonable and rational than one who speaks calmly, even if they are saying essentially the same thing. With the exception of the US government inventing AIDS specifically to kill off African Americans I have yet to hear any commentary from Rev. Wright that did not contain a fair measure of truth and common sense, regardless of whether one is inclined to wholeheartedly agree with the truth as he views it or not. He said for example that Native Americans who had their land forcibly taken from them, Japanese American detainees during World War II, and African Americans from the time they were dragged here from Africa have not received the most polite treatment by this nation. Is this really something that any sane person can dispute no matter how rabidly pro Red White and Blue they may be? Would this section of his sermon even have been seen as particularly controversial if he did not take things a step too far by revising "God Bless America" to "God D**n America"? No doubt he felt that such phrasing would give maximum emphasis and flair to his criticisms, and so it did, but it also made them easier to condemn for being too extreme, even traitorous. Had Jeremiah Wright simply clarified his positions with minimal mention of Obama's agreement or disagreement with them, this would have been a sufficient response to fight against the tainting of his legacy. Instead Rev. Wright got in some digs while in the act of defending himself, implying that Obama was a typical politician who spoke out of both ends of his mouth, saying what he felt was necessary at the time to secure the maximum amount of votes, easily willing to change his tune if convenient and advantageous to do so. Why would he do this when Obama had certainly been far gentler on him despite the fact that he may have pleased more voters by being tougher? After the third and most outlandish stop on Wright's speaking tour, Barack Obama finally grew angry and distanced himself from the reverend just as many felt he should have done from the get go. Now that he has given the people precisely what they were asking for, one wonders if it will aid his cause or will be a case of too little too late. Either way, I’m left to ponder if Wright's seemingly unnecessary and certainly inappropriate dissing of Obama was for show. Did he act the part of bad guy in calculated fashion since he had already been cast in that role anyway courtesy of the YouTube clips? Was his actual objective to enable Obama to once again be seen as the good guy? By going out of his way to provoke the Democratic frontrunner, practically begging for retaliation of some kind, he provided Obama with a convenient out. Could it be that he intended to help rather than hurt his friend? If so, did Wright do so on his own or were they in it together? Perhaps I'm being overly cynical (following this election will do that to you) but it does make one wonder how much of what we're watching is real and how much is theater. Yet stronger than this wonderment is my hope that Barack Obama becomes the Democratic nominee (perhaps giving a central role to Hillary Clinton in spite of her less than admirable efforts to win the nomination for herself), goes on to defeat John McCain in the general election (perhaps giving him a central role in spite of his fondness for war because he does strike me as being a good and sincere man), and then proceeds to live up to his promise.

Roy Pickering (author of Feeding the Squirrels)


Newsweek article that comments on same topic, minus conspiracy theory -

Friday, April 25, 2008

Diligence, Penny Pinching, Political Obsessing, and Pity

It's been about a month since my last entry. I intend to add to this blog more frequently and regularly going forward, though in my defense I have not been guilty of idle hands. Over the past several weeks I'm happy to say that I've been working on my novel "Matters of Convenience" on a pretty regular basis. The manuscript has surpassed 400 handwritten pages with its end on the not too distant horizon. At such a pace it's entirely possible that I'll complete the first draft by summer's end and will have it ready to submit to literary agents and/or publishers before the close of 2008. Not only have I been diligently working on my novel but I also penned a book in poetic form geared to toddlers that is waiting for accompanying illustrations by Erin. It has not been copyrighted so I won't post it here yet, but I am rather proud of it. "Baby's Day" is its title and Ava was the inspiration, particularly during the period when she was getting upset on a regular basis about being brought to daycare Monday - Friday. Erin and I did not want to leave her in the care of others and head to our day jobs any more than Ava wanted to be dropped off, but as a family that requires both our incomes we have no choice in the matter. I suppose "Baby's Day" was written as much to cheer Erin and I up as to give our daughter a more positive perspective on the situation. It's my sincere belief that once Erin has contributed her fantastic artwork to go along with my simple words, if/when published our book will be a welcome addition to the libraries of many working parents with young children. Stay tuned for Erin to give you a peek at an illustration or two from it. We definitely intend to create more children's books. Our second one will probably have an adoption theme.

Speaking of which, we're planning for our second child so that means we need to budget accordingly. As summer quickly approaches we'll hopefully find plenty of ways to make it the best one of our lives without breaking the bank. This is a potential topic to write about going forward. Last I checked, being flush with cash is not a requirement for fun. A lack of funds simply makes it a bit more challenging, which could in turn could make the results of our research more rewarding. There is plenty of wonder and laughter for us to experience without daunting price tags attached.

My obsession with Barack versus Hillary continues, as does my disappointment with the Clinton camp for doing their best to scare less enlightened voters away from Obama by portraying him as a man with strong racist, militant, unpatriotic ties. She isn't too far from proclaiming (with plenty of supporters helping to spread her ugly message) that a vote for Obama may as well be one for Reverend Wright, Al Sharpton, Mike Tyson, OJ Simpson, Louis Farrakhan and whoever else makes certain sectors of White America nervous. Barack Obama is not a perfect man or a perfect candidate, and he will not make a perfect president. But if given the chance I do believe in his potential to be a great one, and if Hillary Clinton is to get the opportunity ahead of him (which still seems doubtful) I only hope that she does so fair and square rather than appealing to the darker natures of an older and/or lesser educated demographic that clings to the past of our great imperfect nation rather than embracing the future envisioned by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The police officers who shot and killed Sean Bell on his wedding day as the 23 year old man left the strip club his bachelor party was held at have been acquitted. Perhaps it actually was a fair verdict. Maybe those police officers truly did see justifiable cause to fire 50 times at unarmed men. It's possible they really believed they were in danger and needed to shoot before being shot at first. I don't know precisely what took place on that fateful night with absolute certainty. What I do know is that Sean Bell is dead, his daughter is fatherless, his loved ones will find no peace from the legal verdict so need to look elsewhere for solace, and that black men scare certain people. Amadou Diallo frightened cops with his wallet, causing them to pump 41 bullets into him. Barack Obama continues to scare off Hillary Clinton's strongest base of support. I'm sure I've made someone somewhere nervous at some point by my mere presence. It doesn't make me angry anymore so much as sad.

That's all for now. Take care.

- Roy Pickering (author of Feeding the Squirrels)