Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Obama Derangement Syndrome And The Curse Of Interesting Times

I received this Huffington Post blog in my e-mail the other day, a friend of mine had forwarded it to me. Some of it might be a bit overstated, but I agree with it in all material respects. I’ve read similar ideas in more scholarly sources, but this one really hammers it home, in partisan style.

That’s the point, “partisan.” There are two sides to this argument, but they are so far removed from one another that the middle ground has disappeared altogether. You can skim the HuffPost blog, but please check my additional comments below:

Obama Will Triumph -- So Will America
By Frank Schaeffer

Before he'd served even one year President Obama lost the support
of the easily distracted left and engendered the white hot rage of
the hate-filled right. But some of us, from all walks of life and
ideological backgrounds -- including this white, straight, 57-year-
old, former religious right wing agitator, now progressive writer
and (given my background as the son of a famous evangelical leader)
this unlikely Obama supporter -- are sticking with our President.
Why?-- because he is succeeding.
We faithful Obama supporters still trust our initial impression of
him as a great, good and uniquely qualified man to lead us.

Obama's steady supporters will be proved right. Obama's critics
will be remembered as easily panicked and prematurely discouraged
at best and shriveled hate mongers at worst.

The Context of the Obama Presidency

Not since the days of the rise of fascism in Europe , the Second
World War and the Depression has any president faced more
adversity. Not since the Civil War has any president led a more
bitterly divided country. Not since the introduction of racial
integration has any president faced a more consistently short-
sighted and willfully ignorant opposition - from both the right
and left.

As the President's poll numbers have fallen so has his support from
some on the left that were hailing him as a Messiah not long ago;
all those lefty websites and commentators that were falling all
over themselves on behalf of our first black president during the
2008 election.

The left's lack of faith has become a self-fulfilling "prophecy"--
snipe at the President and then watch the poll numbers fall and
then pretend you didn't have anything to do with it!

Here is what Obama faced when he took office-- none of which was
his fault:

# An ideologically divided country to the point that America was
really two countries

# Two wars; one that was mishandled from the start, the other that
was unnecessary and immoral

# The worst economic crisis since the depression

# America 's standing in the world at the lowest point in history

# A country that had been misled into accepting the use of torture
of prisoners of war

# A health care system in free fall

# An educational system in free fall

# A global environmental crisis of history-altering proportions
(about which the Bush administration and the Republicans had done

# An impasse between culture warriors from the right and left

# A huge financial deficit inherited from the terminally
irresponsible Bush administration.

And those were only some of the problems sitting on the
President's desk!

"Help" from the Right?

What did the Republicans and the religious right, libertarians and
half-baked conspiracy theorists -- that is what the Republicans
were reduced to by the time Obama took office -- do to "help" our
new president (and our country) succeed? They claimed that he
wasn't a real American, didn't have an American birth certificate,
wasn't born here, was secretly a Muslim, was white-hating "racist",
was secretly a communist, was actually the Anti-Christ, (!) and was
a reincarnation of Hitler and wanted "death panels" to kill the

They not-so-subtly called for his assassination through the not-so-
subtle use of vile signs held at their rallies and even a bumper
sticker quoting Psalm 109:8. They organized "tea parties" to sound
off against imagined insults and all government in general and
gathered to howl at the moon. They were led by insurance industry
lobbyists and deranged (but well financed) "commentators" from
Glenn Beck to Rush Limbaugh.

The utterly discredited Roman Catholic bishops teamed up with the
utterly discredited evangelical leaders to denounce a president who
was trying to actually do something about the poor, the
environment, to diminish the number of abortions through
compassionate programs to help women and to care for the sick! And
in Congress the Republican leadership only knew one word: "No!"

In other words the reactionary white, rube, uneducated, crazy
American far right,combined with the educated but obtuse
neoconservative war mongers, religious right shills for big
business, libertarian Fed Reserve-hating gold bug, gun-loving
crazies, child-molesting acquiescent "bishops", frontier loons and
evangelical gay-hating flakes found one thing to briefly unite
them: their desire to stop an uppity black man from succeeding at
all costs!

"Help" from the Left?

What did the left do to help their newly elected president? Some of
them excoriated the President because they disagreed with the bad
choices he was being forced to make regarding a war in Afghanistan
that he'd inherited from the worst president in modern history!

Others stood up and bravely proclaimed that the President's
economic policies had "failed" before the President even instituted
them! Others said that since all gay rights battles had not been
fully won within virtually minutes of the President taking office,
they'd been "betrayed"! (Never mind that Obama's vocal support to
the gay community is stronger than any other president's has been.
Never mind that he signed a new hate crimes law!)

Those that had stood in transfixed legions weeping with beatific
emotion on election night turned into an angry mob saying how
"disappointed" they were that they'd not all immediately been
translated to heaven the moment Obama stepped into the White House!
Where was the "change"? Contrary to their expectations they were
still mere mortals!

And the legion of young new supporters was too busy texting to pay
attention for longer than a nanosecond. "Governing"?! What the hell
does that word, uh, like mean?"

The President's critics left and right all had one thing in common:
impatience laced with little-to-no sense of history (let alone
reality) thrown in for good measure. Then of course there were the
white, snide know-it-all commentators/talking heads who just
couldn't imagine that maybe, just maybe they weren't as smart as
they thought they were and certainly not as smart as their
president. He hadn't consulted them, had he? So he must be wrong!

The Obama critics' ideological ideas defined their idea of reality
rather than reality defining their ideas-say, about what is
possible in one year in office after the hand that the President
had been dealt by fate, or to be exact by the American idiot nation
that voted Bush into office. twice!

Meanwhile back in the reality-based community - in just 12 short
months -- President Obama:

#Continued to draw down the misbegotten war in Iraq
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Thoughtfully and decisively picked the best of several bad choices
regarding the war in Afghanistan
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Gave a major precedent-setting speech supporting gay rights
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Restored America 's image around the globe
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Banned torture of American prisoners
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Stopped the free fall of the American economy
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Put the USA squarely back in the bilateral international community
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Put the USA squarely into the middle of the international effort
to halt global warming
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Stood up for educational reform
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Won a Nobel peace prize
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Moved the trial of terrorists back into the American judicial
system of checks and balances
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Did what had to be done to start the slow, torturous and almost
impossible process of health care reform that 7 presidents had
failed to even begin
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Responded to hatred from the right and left with measured good
humor and patience
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Stopped the free fall of job losses
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Showed immense personal courage in the face of an armed and
dangerous far right opposition that included the sort of disgusting
people that show up at public meetings carrying loaded weapons and
carrying Timothy McVeigh-inspired signs about the "blood of
tyrants" needing to "water the tree of liberty".
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

#Showed that he could not only make the tough military choices but
explain and defend them brilliantly
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

Other than those "disappointing" accomplishments -- IN ONE YEAR --
President Obama "failed"! Other than that he didn't "live up to

Who actually has failed...

...are the Americans that can't see the beginning of a miracle of
national rebirth right under their jaded noses. Who failed are the
smart ass ideologues of the left and right who began rooting for
this President to fail so that they could be proved right in their
dire and morbid predictions. Who failed are the movers and shakers
behind our obscenely dumb news cycles that have turned "news" into
just more stupid entertainment for an entertainment-besotted
infantile country.

Here's the good news: President Obama is succeeding without the
help of his lefty "supporters" or hate-filled Republican detractors!

The Future Looks Good

After Obama has served two full terms, (and he will), after his
wisdom in moving deliberately and cautiously with great subtlety on
all fronts -- with a canny and calculating eye to the possible
succeeds, (it will), after the economy is booming and new industries
are burgeoning, (they will be), after the doomsayers are all proved
not just wrong but silly: let the record show that not all
Americans were panicked into thinking the sky was falling.

Just because we didn't get everything we wanted in the first short
and fraught year Obama was in office not all of us gave up. Some of
us stayed the course. And we will be proved right.


I forwarded this e-mail to my entire list, the first time that I have ever taken that action. I feel strongly that President Obama has not gotten a decent break from the American electorate. “Not a real American?” “Not a Christian?” “A far-left ideologue?” “No birth certificate?” Poh-leez, those are nightmares that some people really need to wake up from. He’s not perfect, I’m not on that team either, but he is clearly a decent man who is trying his best to perform well in a difficult job. And he's doing a pretty good job.

Here’s a response that I got after sending out the post:

I rally do not know what happened to that fun loving kid we all liked. Perhaps reading swill like this trite nonsense has turned you into a different person . It's a shame Freddy, but I think our friendship is ended and it has ended right now. I wish you well and perhaps one day you will open your eyes., Please drop me from your mailing list, as I have dropped you"

This was from a guy that I have known since I was fourteen or so. We re-connected on the Internet a few years ago and since then we have enjoyed a pleasant, mutually supportive relationship that included an agreement to disagree on political matters. Just the idea that someone would express such positive opinions about President Obama, and not pull any punches in condemning the rabid, let’s face it, rabid anti-Obama crowd, was enough to make him abandon his friend. I still love the guy, and I hope that at some point he settles down and we can go on with our friendship.

This is all interesting stuff, as in “the curse of living in interesting times.”

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Howard Tate - Ain't Nobody Home

Read along with the below post.

This one is Howard with a full wind in his sails, from the days when we were young, and everything was easy.

Get It While You Can- Howard Tate

A recent anonymous commentor hipped me to the fact that Howard is still alive and that he's working again. The album or two that he released in 1967-68 were real top-drawer stuff, but other people got the hits. This one was a hit by Janis Joplin. So Howard was kind of the male Evie Sands, the set-up man, Evie called herself the greatest demo singer of all time, even though her's and Howard's were full-blown releases.

Great song; great sentiment. And true

The Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra Rocks

Last week a student of mine invited me to go with him and his “uncle” to see a concert at Mahidol University (“mah-hee-don”), a relatively recently established place, the arts university of Thailand. I thought that it was to be a student presentation, but it turned out to be the very Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra itself. And they were very, very good.

Not that I am a connoisseur or anything, but I like classical music and I’ve heard a certain amount of it, good, bad and indifferent. I know a little bit about the composers, and the various periods of time. The orchestra numbered a little over fifty musicians all together, with a couple of Japanese women playing violin, a couple of Chinese in there somewhere, a couple of Farang sprinkled around, and the remainder being Thai men and women. The conductor on this occasion was a Polish dude, and I say dude advisedly, he was a thirty-seven year old guy with long, flowing hair that he flipped around artfully. He wore a black peasant shirt, maybe because the major piece was Beethoven’s Sixth, “Pastorale,” and his whole look was very Rasputin.

They played a couple of light things to warm up, and then moved into two piano concertos featuring a guest soloist. (One Beethoven, one Chopin.) The piano soloist was an impossibly short, scrawny, twelve-year-old Malaysian kid with hands the size of a Barbie doll’s. Man, was he good. He hit the Beethoven right over the fence, and it was a tough one, Beethoven was quite the show-off, he was, after all, the Jimi Hendrix/John Coltrane of his day. No sheet music either, all memorized. The Chopin piece was also very impressive, but I did get the impression a couple of times that his left hand wasn’t one hundred percent sure what his right hand was doing at that moment. I don’t know if the problem was his or mine, like I said, I’m no expert.

His name was Tongku Ahmed Isfan, you can catch him on You-Tube. His sister and his father were in attendance. His dad looked like a really nice guy, proud as punch.

The First Violinist was a Thai man, not overly young. (The Thai members of the orchestra were generally young, twenties maybe.) His habit was to sometimes check the line of his bow, the same way a pool player might check the line of his cue. I wondered if he really thought that it would suddenly go warped on him, probably it was a nervous habit. He should have been checking his bow-tie, which stood consistently at ten minutes to four o’clock.

My only complaint was the perfume. I’m pretty sure that it was the women in the orchestra, as soon as they came out on stage my nose went on high alert and I got my allergic throat tickle with dry coughing response. We were in the third row, center. I spent the rest of the concert with my handkerchief pressed against my nose and mouth. But one cannot expect the entire world to cooperate with one’s own requirements, so this is not a complaint, not exactly.

The “uncle,” by the way, turned out to be a very nice woman of a certain age. The vocabulary of family relationships can be tough to master. Maybe my student was trying to set me up, he brought a date along for himself. The “uncle” drove us part way, and afterward she took us to her brother’s Vietnamese restaurant.

I’d recommend the orchestra to anybody who likes this kind of thing. I’d recommend the restaurant too, everything was delicious and inexpensive, but I couldn’t tell you the name or exactly where it was. I do remember the “uncle’s” name, but I did not ask for her phone number. I just gave my card, that’s my smooth move. So far it has never come to anything, but one can dream.

American Music Awards

I saw part of the American Music Awards show last night, although there was no profit in it. Based on what I saw, my question is: why was Miley Cirus on my television?

Is this some kind of wonderful, Twenty-First-Century joke to which I am not privy? Or was there some kind of wonderful, Twenty-First-Century talent at work that I do not have the tools to understand? I was genuinely relieved to realize that all I had to do to make it stop was turn off the TV, and I silently thanked God that making it stop was so simple. It was pure, unalloyed torture.

I know that she isn't the worst thing masquerading as music these days, I probably don't even hear the worst of it. I live on the dark side of the moon, so to speak, so I miss a lot. Luckily, in many cases. But music is such a great gift, it is a terrible sin to abuse it so.

And people complain about little things like TSA groping! People, please, there are forces of true evil at work here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Come to Mubadala!

On my CNN Asia I am daily subjected to advertising that wants me to relocate my business in Mubadala. Where and what is Mubadala, I wondered.

It seems that Mubadala is the Mubadala Development Something-Or-Other, a state owned company in Abu Dabbi. If I can't spell Abu Dabbi properly, it's because I don't care at all about Abu Dabbi. And I have no desire to even visit a place where I could probably be arrested for eating a ham sandwich. I have even less desire, statistically approaching zero actually, to have sex for only "five chundred dollars" with Russian prostitutes who are little more than slaves.

The advertisements on Asian cable TV are truly annoying. They are mostly for luxury goods and services or investment advice. I am not in those markets, and the fact that the prevalent business model these days is to cater to the super-rich is the most truly annoying thing of all.

Mubadala, and the Twenty-First Century in general, are annoying.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Lawyer's Apology

America, please accept my humble apology for the behavior of the lawyers who are currently prosecuting foreclosure cases while knowing full well that the banks lack the paperwork to properly back up their claims.

It takes a lot of nerve to go to court and argue to a judge that what you have is really the equivalent of what the law says that you need, arguing that the judge should find that you've met your burden of proof, even though you haven't, and who needs that smelly old original note anyway? I'd hate to try it, and if I were the judge, I pity the fool who would try it with me.

I apologize as a lawyer in good standing (California). Someone else will need to come forward to apologize for the judges.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

"Decision Points"

George "What? Me Worry?" Bush's book comes out next week. Good luck with that.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Thai "Caesar" Salad

Thailand is a great place. You can get your Caesar Salad with whatever kind of dressing you want! Tonight I had the choice of "Salad Cream" or "Thousand Island." The Salad Cream is so horrible that it was an easy choice.

This was a delivery-order from a place called "The Pizza Company." The pizza itself is kind of Domino's equivalent. The menu drafters know what they're talking about, but it doesn't always filter down to the actual food preparers.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Randy Newman - A Few Words in Defense of Our Country

I came across this one posted to the blog of my ex-friend and still beloved David E. It may have been David that hipped me to Rands in the first place, long ago and far away. Randy is great, and not just in that Pixar-soundtrack sense of great. I love him.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

R.I.P., Still, Leonard Ceeley

Just watching "A Day at the Races" here, with sixth or seventh billed Leonard Ceeley playing a crooked business adviser. (Marx Brothers, 1937) I looked him up on the, and the results were pretty thin.

He was born Leon Seeley out in England somewhere. Changing the spelling from the "S" to the "C" must be one for the books. He was in America by 1924, and he appeared in seven Broadway shows between then and 1934, plus an understudy turn in 1955. He was only in two other movies besides "Races," plus a TV show in 1950. He died in L.A. in 1977.

When I was a kid, I would "read" the dictionary, look up one word and find other words in the definition to look up. The internet is like that. I came across an Old School Hip-Hop jam by Leonard Seeley's Heritage, which can't be a coincidence, I mean can it? It's called "Feel It," from 1981, on Zoo York Recordz (sic), distributed by CBS.

By page seven on the Google the results were getting even thinner, but I did come across a letter written to Life Magazine in 1961 by Leonard Ceeley of Los Angeles. He comments on an interview with William Faulkner that had appeared in the magazine. He quotes Faulkner as saying things in the interview like "there ain't much to it . . ." and "like I say . . ." While allowing that Falkner might have actually said these things, he speculates that TV cigarette commercials may have "weakened the whole structure of good taste in literary expression." You figure it out.

By page ten I was finding stuff like the number of people in the UK who are named "Leonard Seely," which is three.

Leonard is pretty good in the movie. He got a lot of screen time and he had a good sense of physical comedy.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Joe Cocker "The Letter" in live 1970 (MAD DOGS & ENGLISHMEN)

This was a great act. I suppose that a debate about Joe Cocker's singing ability is possible, but about the band there is no doubt. They were a great outfit, one of the greatest.

Is Joe a great singer? I don't know. Could he sell a song? Yes. Could he carry an audience? Yes. On occasion, could he bring a tear to your eye? Yes. So I guess he had a license to sing.

Tight Rope / Leon Russell

One of my favorite non-singers, featured above and here on his own, the great Leon Russel, with one of his great songs, from one of his great albums.

I like a lot of non-singers. Chet Baker; Don Van Vliet; Eno; Jimi Hendrix. Enthusiasm and sincerity will take you far in the singing business.