Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama Nation

Like millions of U.S. citizens and people around the world, I watched Barack Obama’s inauguration with keen attention, enthusiasm, and a bit more emotion than I expected. There are many things that we will be talking about for the next few weeks: the new president’s implicit (and sometimes explicit) indictment of his predecessor’s failed policies and arrogance; the Chief Justice stumbling over the oath of office (Gee, for those who imagined John Roberts as a strict Constitutionalist, they might have been surprised to find that he couldn’t be bothered to learn the 35 words needed from the document for the day); the call for U.S. citizens to work hard; Aretha Franklin’s decision to say something with a hat.

Then there was the prominent place given to the creepy nominee for Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, at the luncheon. I’m not saying that Geithner is a crook. If I were on the staff at the Capitol, though, I would have made sure to count the silverware before letting him leave. He seems to have trouble knowing what is his and what belongs to the government.

Most importantly from the day, though, I did have the surge of hope. Somewhere in the middle of Bush’s second term, I could no longer even watch the news because the sound of his arrogant voice sent me into a tailspin. Sure, I kept informed by reading about the day’s events, but live-action shots were out of the queston. It was an astounding day of relief that we now have a president who is smart, kind, and at least wants to do the right thing for the nation and world. Basic competence is so refreshing!

Much like election day, though, Obama’s inauguration proved bittersweet for queer folk. While I hardly think that the inclusion of homophobic Christian minister Rick Warren is tantamount to sending gay folk to concentration camps, it didn't really suggest that the gays are anything other than a second thought for the new administration (as are Latinos, I might add). Most of us want to believe in his soaring rhetoric and promises of justice (VUBOQ sent me the link to the WH’s promises for LGBTQ people). It's clear, though, that all us queers are going to have keep pushing that gay agenda. Fortunately, unlike the previous administration, this one appears willing to listen and open to being convinced.

Since I am sure that the new administration is waiting breathlessly to know the recommendations of an obscure blogger, here are some of my own ideas for Obama’s first 100 days in office:

    * Mobilize your landslide victory and astounding approval ratings for rapid changes. I appreciate being cautious, but the people actually support you. Use the rosy glow of their approval to accomplish your priorities: Economic stimulus? Foreign Relations overhaul? Painting the White House a nice mauve color? Whatever you think is the most important issue, do it now while there is still time. Except the people who live in Texas and South Carolina, all of us are behind you 110 percent.

    * Crush Texas and South Carolina.

    * Give Michelle Obama something more profound to do than model pretty, pretty dresses. Okay, I will confess that when I had a drink with some of my gay peeps on inaugural night, the first item of discussion was her yellow brocade number (Two were in favor, one opposed). Still, she can look fabulous and do something that draws on that Princeton degree. Heck, I sometimes get the impression that she might be a wee bit more savvy than you.

    * Remember Mexico? Well, with the all the drug wars, political corruption, and kidnapping, it seems to need some serious help at the moment. Since you have never been south of the border, this might be a good time to brush up on your Spanish.

    * Either allow me to keep my shoes on through airport security screening or take liquids on board in quantities bigger than three ounces. I’m willing to settle for one or the other.

    * Hire more gay, Latino historians to work in your administration. What? I can’t have some petty self interests?

    * Update the twenty dollar bill. The Bush regime couldn’t stop fiddling with the money – color changes, font adjustments, security stamps. Apparently instead of keeping an eye on the economy, they went crazy with Photoshop. Well, they aren’t the only ones who can be creative with our currency. Take a look at my proposal:

    It looks good, doesn't it?

    * Stop sending me e-mails asking for more money. I was happy to donate to your historic campaign, but it seems downright tacky to keep asking for more after you have won and taken office. Hit me up again when it’s time for your reelection, or, at the very earliest, midterm elections.

    * Lay off the Abraham Lincoln parallels for awhile – We get it, you like yourself some Lincoln. Seriously, though, we better not see you sneaking around the White House in a stovepipe hat and mutton chops.

    * Sign an executive order that destroys all copies of the “prequel” Star Wars movies and order that we, as nation, never speak of them again.

    * Don’t, under any circumstance, trust political advice offered by Tom Daschle. His reappearance during your campaign, and now in the cabinet, sends chills through my spine. He too often compromised (or flat-out gave into) the Bush administration. For many like me, he represents the worst elements of the old Democratic party: Cowardly, weak, and unwilling to fight the hard fight for justice. He will almost certainly recommend compromising when you shouldn’t.

    * Sign an executive order ridding foods of high fructose corn syrup. The agri-corn-empire recently started advertising on television to convince us that high fructose corn syrup is not as unhealthy as some suggested. Such a move can only mean that is even worse than we suspected. High fructose corn syrup is the most toxic thing on the market since Philip Morris experimented with those asbestos-flavored cigarettes.

    * Figure out a way to turn Air Force One into a hybrid vehicle. Failing that, see if you can turn it into a Transformer robot.

    * Recruit some drag queens to work in the press room. If you want witty retorts to reporters’ tough questions, they are your gals.

    * Reconsider keeping Guantanamo Bay Prison Facility open, but only for former members of the Bush administration. They built it, they might as well enjoy it and its many amenities.

    * Try having a bit more of a sense of humor in public. You know that I think that you are a doll, but do you have to be so serious all the time? FDR, John Kennedy, and, yes, even Abraham Lincoln all liked a good joke. Maybe you could ask Jon Stewart to the Oval Office for a few lessons.

    * Remember that the gays love you (for now) and most [white straight] Christian Evangelicals never will. It might be nice, therefore, if you stop treating the gays as if we are the subject of a high school debate where a “big tent of disagreement” should be entertained. Our basic rights are not some trivial matter, like arguing over whether the bald eagle or the turkey should be the national bird.

    Besides, we gays have much better parties. Have you ever been to an Evangelical party? It’s nothing but cheeze-wiz and generic 7UP.

    Come to my house and we’ll listen to Billie Holiday on the hi-fi while I serve my current cocktail du jour, the Palmer (Citrus, bourbon, and bitters – Simple, but beautiful). Never heard of a Palmer? Stick with the gays -- we are always one step ahead.


vuboq said...

vuboq has never heard of a Palmer either ... but citrus? bourbon? bitters? book me a ticket! I'm on my way to Midwestern Funky Town!

(and, can I just say how totes happy I am that you have hitched your trailer to the bourbon bandwagon?)

hm. wasn't this post about something other than booze? drag queens, maybe?

pbw said...

he made 6 token appointments after the Warren fiasco broke. None of them were poc and only one was female. But hey if you get the call, tell them there is an Afra-Latina Lesbian who will gladly count for 4 constituencies at once and school him on border issues. ;P

Greg said...

Oh, Gayprof, thank you - I was in need of a few good chuckles and you've given me more than I dared hope. A truly delightful post, this is...

Hey, I'm a fan of the bourbon Manhattan, only lately my bartender adds a few extra cherries and some amaretto and we call it a New York Minute.

Love. The Money. : )

jeremy said...

Palmer? I don't even know her!
Sounds way classier than a Skinny Black Bitch.

Clio Bluestocking said...

This: "Sign an executive order that destroys all copies of the “prequel” Star Wars movies and order that we, as nation, never speak of them again," should be a Constitutional Amendment (along with siesta).

And, c'mon, this: "sneaking around the White House in a stovepipe hat and mutton chops" would be awesome!

adjunct whore said...

as always, i'm with you. but please don't crush south carolina! despite being in the 19th century, there are lots and lots of people--over half, in fact--who aren't: over 45% black population, an obscenely large rural population utterly disenfranchised, and a whole lot of gay, straight, and latino folks who for various reasons (economic) are forced to live in the state for a spell. and are fighting the evil whackos.

so maybe crush Texas, there is a man there worth crushing, but give SC more time. i feel certain that in my lifetime, it will be at LEAST at the turn of the 20th century.

adjunct whore said...

also, Obama might not be there if it weren't for SC in the primaries.

pacalaga said...

Obama hasn't hired you for a cabinet post yet? Damn.

GayProf said...

VUBOQ: In MFT, it's required that you drink bourbon otherwise you will freeze to death.

PBW: If he calls, I'll give him your number as well.

Greg: We at CoG love the Manhattan and are intrigued by the New York Minute.

Jeremy: I suspect that the Palmer was named after the hotel in Chicago. As for the Skinny Black Bitch, maybe the former Secretary of State?

Clio: Do you know how hard it is to get an amendment passed?! We can't wait that long. We need decisive action now! Innocent children are at risk of seeing those horribly scaring films right now.

Adjunct Whore: Maybe we could make a "precision strike" on S.C.? And, to be fair, I like the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. Most of the people there should be spared, too.

Pacalaga: I thought for sure that I was a shoo-in after the Richardson unpleasantness. Then again, maybe I shouldn't trash their choice of Treasury Secretary -- But, am I wrong in thinking he is a little creepy?

Nik said...

Already one of your commandments has been, well, commanded. Yahoo says: "New technology will allow the TSA to drop the rule against bringing liquids on flight"

Earl Cootie said...

Mauve seems a little depressing (and eighties) to me. I think the WH should be mango! We need a lift right now.

Antonio said...

I also wonder why he keeps asking for money. I gave him enough already, now where's my stimulus check?

Steven said...

Obama has already signed executive orders for changes (Guantanamo, pull out from Iraq and Afgan) that will take more than a year to complete. Something more immediate and satisfying to the GLBT populace would be an executive order abolishing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and allow gays in the military. Think of the "surge" that could be created by that! ;-)

Mel said...

In South Carolina's defense (Despite our very complicated relationship and that fact that I shall never live there again, it is the state which spawned me, so I feel a little obligated), McCain took the state by a less than 10% margin, which is pretty damned impressive for the state that spawned the Dixiecrats.

Have I ever mentioned, btw, that Strom Thurmond gave the commencement address at my grandmother's HS graduation, way back when he was a new state senator?

tornwordo said...

What do you mean by citrus? I've never heard of a Palmer. Painting the White House a different color is brilliant.

GayProf said...

Nik: Finally -- I will be able to bring my flask on board!

Earl: Mango feels a little too nineties. Maybe we could paint it rust color to match the nation.

Antonio: Seriously, what was up with the constant pleas for cash? I did feel it was in poor taste.

Steven: I am delighted by his first actions (except the choice of Timothy Geithner and Tom Daschle), but we will have to see what happens when he starts meeting serious opposition from the Republicans. Remember that the Right used the gays as the very first way to strangle Clinton.

But I also think that gay activists have to remember that they aren't dealing with Bush anymore. Getting hysterical and claiming that Obama is out to get us will only make us look expendable. Instead, we should be looking for ways to work with him and show him why not supporting us has serious moral and political consequences.

Mel: I had no idea that South Carolina had so many boosters. But, seriously, Strom Thurmond was another example of how evil just won't die.

Torn: By citrus, I mean the juice of a lemon wedge. For whatever reason, though, when I tell people lemon and bourbon, they assume it won't be good (when the Palmer is delightful). Saying "citrus" seems to remove that knee-jerk reaction.

ReggieH said...

Excellent GayProf. You know he DOES need a Secretary of Commerce...

prof bw said...

I was just rereading this and thinking how funny you are. :D

prof bw said...

ps I hate google. please fix my comment when you can.

GayProf said...

ReggieH: And I would make an excellent Secretary of Commerce, the office charged with . . . Um -- Well, they do the . . . Er -- It involves the census, I know that much.

ProfBW2: Alas, Google doesn't grant me the power to fix comments either -- Just delete them forever.

Frank said...

You know, my Strong Amazon Sister, it's funny you should mention the Star Wars prequels, because I just got done watching them. It struck me, especially upon viewing the deleted scenes, how just a little tweak in editing would make the last two much, much better movies. For instance, in both, important scenes for Padme were cut that, I think, would have given her more motivation and interest. I mean, in the last movie, as cut, all she basically does most of the movie is be pregnant and stand around her (fabulous, I do have to say) apartment wringing her hands. The deleted scenes actually gave her something to do besides spout silly lines about the lakes on Naboo.

I've also come to the astounding realization that Hayden Christensen isn't a TOTALLY horrible actor. He actually does some of the more comedic scenes, as well as action, rather well. It's all the angsty stuff that is just totally beyond him.

The writing, of course, is also terrible, but, again, I think a little judicious cutting and/or dubbing would have helped tremendously. I think the writing was just as bad in the originals, but Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher had the panache and charisma to pull it off in a way Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman just don't, and Luke was a corny character anyway, so Mark Hamill was fine. Only Ewan MacGregor (whose steady transformation over the three movies into the reincarnation of Alec Guinness is really, really spooky) and the actor playing Palpatine had the ability to work with camp that the material, I think, needed.

I could also elaborate on my belief that the constant cycling through secondary villains (Maul to Dooku -- which involved the criminal underuse of Christopher Lee -- to Grievous) was a mistake, or my conviction that making the Jedi total assholes takes away a lot of the sympathy and rootingness we were supposed to feel, or how truly, astoundingly awful Samuel Jackson was as Mace Windu (though, to be fair, I think Windu was just a really awful character), or how the insistence on callbacks and fore/aftshadowing the original trilogy gets in the way, or that there's actually a lot of VERY interesting things happening with fathers and mothers, as well as misunderstanding and projection and denial, but I won't bore you.

BTW, when I say the movies could be much better with relatively little work, I'm talking about Episodes II and III. I don't think any amount of polishing could turn the shit that was Episode I into anything other than a pile of poodoo. My Lord was that awful. Poor Jake Lloyd having to spout those TERRIBLE lines; that's child abuse on George Lucas' part that was. But at least he has an excuse in that he was an eight-year-old boy; Liam Neeson has NONE for the simply dreadful performance he sleepwalked his way through.

/end nerd rant

GayProf said...

Frank: I think the second film could be reworked into something decent with editing. The other two, though, seem beyond redemption. As you note, Queen Amidala, who was the only interesting character in the first film, was basically sidelined into a weepy and ever-pregnant prop. Vader's fall into the dark side was not convincing. I didn't understand why, after building him up so much in the second film, Dooku died in the first five minutes of the third film. And then there was the cringe inducing "Nooooooooooooooo!" at the very end.

Nope, we would be much better off if somebody started from scratch with a whole new set of films (with Lucas banned from participation).

Frank said...

I'm with you about Dooku: that's part of the "cycling through secondary villains" thing I demurred to elaborate on, and is, sadly, not something editing could fix. They should have stuck with Maul or introduced Grievous in the second movie or scrapped Grievous to keep Dooku through the third.

The "Noooooooooo!" and the "She's lost the will to live!" cringe-inducing moments, though could be easily fixed with just a little re-dubbing. Just have Vader silently, or with a strangled cry, wreck the operating room. And have that droid say something like, "The asphyxiation caused several embolisms/hemorrhages/strokes/whatever. We can't heal them fast enough." Those two things right there would have made the ending at least a little more palatable.

As for Padme in the third movie, as I said, the deleted scenes gave her at least the ghost of an independent subplot about the beginnings of the Rebel Alliance (with a young Mon Mothma who apparently spoke just like Julie Andrews, Bai Ling wearing something that's actually about ten times less crazy than her real-life get-ups, two Lucas daughters, and more Jimmy Smits screentime), which is better than nothing. Though, in the end, I just never warmed to either Padme or Natalie Portman in the way I adore Leia and Carrie Fisher, Padme was kick-ass in the first two, which makes her passive weepiness hard to take. I mean, I understand why Lucas didn't have a pregnant lady waddling around shooting at droid troopers, but he could have at least kept the stuff where she's still sitting around, but at least DOING something, in the movie. (I'm actually much more pissed about the deleted scenes in AotC, because they're almost all about giving her some background and a more convincing POV in her budding romance. As cut, I've always thought her falling in love with Anakin was a bit undeveloped.)

God, I'm such a nerd.

susurro said...

My trilogy memory: a bunch of excited strangers filling in the newbies in the audience on the finer points of Skywalker lore. Little girls, and one boy, happily marching down the aisles with Amidala dolls to get "good seats" in the very front. Hush as the film starts. Then nothing but the sound of uncomfortable shifting in seats and the drowning stench of discomfort. One man in the back yelling "get that racist shlock out of the movie" as his companion begins to repeat Jar Jar Binks sing song dialect to critique the pain that is the film. Suddenly other geeks in the audience get into it doing their bad acting impressions of [fill in the blank] character. Suddenly a single gasp escapes from my lips as I see they have ruined my beloved Yoda. Unhappy this girl was.

As I felt my braincells dying, the light returned to the theater and we shuffled out in disbelieving and sometimes angry silence.

I went home and showered and hid under the covers. I imagine it was how Leah felt being stroked by Jaba.

Nope, there is nothing redeeming about those awful movies. Nothing.

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eda said...