As I’m neither a fan of Thanksgiving nor of President Obama, you can imagine how I feel about this shit.

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

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“You know, there are certain days that remind me of why I ran for this office,” President Obama declared while standing outside the White House on Wednesday morning. “And then there are moments like this — where I pardon a turkey and send it to Disneyland.”

At this year’s official Turkey Pardon, President Obama mixed jokes in with a serious message about giving thanks for our blessings. With Sasha and Malia at his side, he noted how delicious the turkey looked (at 40-plus pounds, the North Carolina-raised bird named Courage did look pretty juicy). Obama claimed he wanted to eat the turkey, but Sasha and Malia prevailed upon him to pardon it, sparing it “a terrible and delicious fate.” Courage will now head to Disneyland for their Thanksgiving Day parade.

(The entire transcript is available at the Huffington Post.)

Aside from all the God-talk and flippant remarks about the mouth-watering handsomeness of a living being, what most annoys me about Obama’s speech – and this is by no means unique to Obama; all presidents, at least in recent memory, engage in some variation of this speciesist bullshit – is how frivolous and trivial this routine appears to be to him. As if he’s simply above it all.

But to Courage, this idiotic ritual is anything but frivolous and trivial; rather, it is literally a matter of life and death. The annual Presidential Turkey Pardoning is all that stands between him and torture, slaughter, dismemberment and consumption. While Obama mocks a turkey for his captor’s frivolity, 45 million of his kin are being “dressed” for Thanksgiving celebrations. Most, if not all, of Courage’s family – his mother, father, sisters, brothers, aunts and uncles – are no doubt already dead.

And yet, President Obama has the audacity to say that,

[W]e are, as ever, a people of endless compassion, boundless ingenuity, limitless strength.

Endless compassion? Bah. Try that line on tomorrow’s corpse. Tell it to Courage, for whom there’s no escape. (We inflicted our cruelty – excuse me, our “compassion” – onto him at a genetic level, so that his body will be crippled under its own weight in just a few short months. President Obama, your quip about “performance enhancing drugs”? Not funny.)

Happy fucking Thanksgiving.

(More below the fold…)

Spam FAIL.

Saturday, April 18th, 2009

So, in the week since Obama accepted a purebred breeder dog from his good bud Ted Kennedy, I’ve noticed an influx of spam comments from websites trading in the flesh of purebred pups. No sellers of Portuguese Water Dogs as of yet; rather, most of the “commenters” sing the praises of Obama’s second choice, the Labradoodle. (Purebred dogs are healthier, less aggressive, and fart rainbows, dontchaknow.)

The lack of PWD ads isn’t surprising; being a rarer breed, methinks it’ll be a few months before the PWD mills start churning out their first batches of pups, like so.

Thanks a ton, Obama.

(More below the fold…)

My thoughts on the climax of the Obama doggy drama:

Monday, April 13th, 2009

Threat Down - Barack Obama, Puppy Killer

That is all.

(More below the fold…)

In which Sean Delonas & The New York Post wallow in racism and speciesism.

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

Update, 2/20/09: The New York Post offered a half-assed apology for the Delonas cartoon today; by “half-assed,” I mean of the “we’re sorry if we hurt your delicate feefees” variety.

Naturally, the “apology” only addresses the racial aspects of the cartoon, while completely overlooking the speciesism inherent in comparing marginalized human group x to marginalized animal species y as a means of insult – and in mocking chimpanzee Travis’s needless and tragic death.

If you’d like, you can comment on the “apology” here, or submit a letter to the editor here.

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The above cartoon ran in today’s issue of The New York Post.

In one tidy little panel, cartoonist Sean Delonas – and, in printing and defending such trash, The New York Post – happily wallows in a toxic pool of racism and speciesism.

Here, President Obama is likened to Travis, a captive chimpanzee and former “animal actor,” who escaped from his “house” and attacked his “owner’s” friend on Monday. He was later shot and killed by police.

In bestializing Obama, Delonas engages in both racism and speciesism. Comparing people of color to nonhuman animals – particularly primates, such as chimps and monkeys – is a familiar, age-old racist meme. Denying the humanity of people of color – again, by likening them to nonhuman animals, which are presumably “sub-human,” “lesser beings,” “wild” incapable of intelligent thought or emotion, etc. – was used to justify slavery and segregation, and is still employed as a rationalization for current social inequities such as the disproportionately high rates of poverty, hunger and incarceration among people of color.

These comparisons are also speciesist, inasmuch as they rely upon and reinforce our (collective) stereotypes and prejudices re: nonhuman animals, as well as our utter lack of regard for their sentience and interests. Just as the above cartoon derides Obama by tying him to Travis, it also vilifies Travis (and, by extension, chimpanzees) for being “stupid,” “wild” and “vicious” – “less than.” To add insult to injury, Delonas turns Travis’s tragic death into the butt of a joke. (This didn’t have to happen: Travis should have been living in a sanctuary, with his own kind, not in the residential home of an elderly woman.)

(More below the fold…)

Hoping for a change in how our government views the sex class.

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

President Obama rescinded the Global Gag Rule yesterday. Wishes really do come true! Well, kinda sorta. Being the cynical bitch I am, Obama’s timing and statement threw up all kinds of red feminist flags for me.

As I said in Thursday’s Blog for Choice post, I had hoped – fervently – that Obama would repeal the Global Gag Rule that day. Instead, he chose to do so a day later. What’s one day, right? Practically speaking, not much. I don’t imagine that much money was distributed to international NGOs between Thursday the 22nd and Friday the 23rd, so most likely Obama’s slight delay didn’t have a negative impact on any family planning organizations. And yet.

Had he chosen to take action on the anti-abortion rule on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade – like the two administrations before him – he would have sent a strong message to anti- and pro-choicers alike: Women are humans, and I respect their right to privacy and bodily autonomy unequivocally – no matter how popular such a stance may or may not be. Period. The difference is one of symbolism – and symbolically, Obama seems reluctant to align himself too closely with the pro-choice side.

Of course, he also chose to repeal the rule on a Friday – the slowest of all news days. Consequently, I’ve seen little-to-no coverage of the Gag Rule on the cable news shows. Seriously, Sully Sullenberger has received more air time. The more cynical part of me (which is to say, 99%) can’t help but think that this was Obama’s plan all along.

Of his rescinding of the Global Gag Rule, Obama wrote:

It is clear that the provisions of the Mexico City Policy are unnecessarily broad and unwarranted under current law, and for the past eight years, they have undermined efforts to promote safe and effective voluntary family planning in developing countries. For these reasons, it is right for us to rescind this policy and restore critical efforts to protect and empower women and promote global economic development.

For too long, international family planning assistance has been used as a political wedge issue, the subject of a back and forth debate that has served only to divide us. I have no desire to continue this stale and fruitless debate.

It is time that we end the politicization of this issue. In the coming weeks, my Administration will initiate a fresh conversation on family planning, working to find areas of common ground to best meet the needs of women and families at home and around the world.

I have directed my staff to reach out to those on all sides of this issue to achieve the goal of reducing unintended pregnancies. They will also work to promote safe motherhood, reduce maternal and infant mortality rates and increase educational and economic opportunities for women and girls.

In addition, I look forward to working with Congress to restore U.S. financial support for the U.N. Population Fund. By resuming funding to UNFPA, the U.S. will be joining 180 other donor nations working collaboratively to reduce poverty, improve the health of women and children, prevent HIV/AIDS and provide family planning assistance to women in 154 countries.

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: President Obama Election 2008: Collection of Newspaper Front Pages by the Poynter Institute (2008)

Monday, January 19th, 2009

One for the History Books

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review through Library Thing’s Early Reviewer program.)

Let me preface my review of PRESIDENT OBAMA: ELECTION 2008 (A COLLECTION OF NEWSPAPER FRONT PAGES SELECTED BY THE POYNTER INSTITUTE) with a disclosure: I’m not a huge Obama fan. Not because I think he’s a secret Muslim(n), or because I’m afraid that he’ll turn America socialist and make all the heteros gay marry. On the contrary – I am way left of Obama on most issues. I voted for Kucinich in the primaries, McKinney/Clemente in the general election. While I’m relieved that Obama/Biden triumphed over McCain/Palin, I don’t have any delusions that President Obama will usher in a new era of American prosperity, or that he’s really an uber-progressive guy at heart. My review, then, is purely nonpartisan – after all, I’m reviewing an art/photography book, not a politician, right?

All that said, I requested a review copy of PRESIDENT OBAMA through Library Thing’s Early Reviewer program because the 2008 elections were truly historic, whatever your political affiliations. I thought the book would make a nice keepsake, at best. At worst, I figured could regift it to my conservative, gun-loving father as a gag gift. Turns out, I think I’ll keep my copy of PRESIDENT OBAMA. It’s a gorgeous, full-color book, featuring 78 post-election day newspaper front pages from around the globe. The covers are arranged alphabetically, with local American newspapers grouped first (ordered by state; 42 states are represented), followed by national and then international papers. Placed inconspicuously beside each front page is a brief block of text explaining the paper and why it was chosen.

Many of the local American front pages follow the same format, with large, election-night photos of the Obama family (or portraits of Barack Obama) placed front and center. Here, it’s interesting to note how similar many of the headlines are; most feature some variation on the “hope,” “change,” or “yes we can” campaign slogans. Some of the media border eerily on idol worship, depicting Obama’s face on money or working his campaign logo (the red, white and blue “O”) into the text of their headlines. Collectively, the local media appears to have succumbed, more or less, to the cult of personality surrounding Obama: Welcome to Obamanation! Certainly, November 4, 2008 was a historic point in American history; sitting at home, I cried along with much of America as I watched the returns come in. Still, Obama’s staff couldn’t have created more laudatory coverage if they tried. After eight years of capitulation to Bush, I can only hope that this isn’t indicative of the sort of “hard-hitting” reporting we can expect from the mainstream media in the next four years.

The international front pages offer a bit more diversity; Vienna’s DIE PRESSE, for example, features a photo of Obama surrounded by smaller pictures of local reaction to the election results, while the word “change” – translated into 24 languages – steals the cover of Belgium’s DE MORGEN. In the post-Bush world, it’s quite refreshing to see global citizens celebrating American events, instead of protesting them!

I guess my only complaint is that the Poynter Institute chose not to include any conservative / right-of-center news media in this volume. Granted, dissenting or negative coverage wouldn’t exactly jibe with the laudatory tone of this volume, but still – this was a divisive and polarized election season (what with all the scare-mongering, race baiting, appeals to misogyny and cries of “terra-ist!”), and a few token voices of resistance might make the collection more complete – and historically accurate. While most November 5th coverage was no doubt respectful (if not outright celebratory), the editors did choose to include a few liberal alterna-weeklies – so methinks they could have unearthed one or two unhappy conservative rags, too.

Overall, PRESIDENT OBAMA makes for a nice coffee table book – just make sure you go all out and purchase the hardcover edition. My paperback was a tad bent when it arrived. :(

(This review was originally published on Amazon and Library Thing, and is also available on Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you think it so!)

Says KITS Live 105 & "The Woody Show": Racism & speciesism brings the lolz!

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

pattrice jones, writing at the Eastern Shore Sanctuary Blog, alerts us of an alarming stunt that a team of San Francisco radio hosts have planned for Barack Obama’s Inauguration Day.

MON: The Woody Show is off for MLK Day . . . or as Woody & Ravey call it…the day after the Steelers beat the Ravens to go to the Superbowl.

TUES: Tony (in a chicken suit) will try to catch chickens in the studio! Plus The Woody Show wants to find out if chickens will eat….chicken.

THURS: Comic Doug Benson will stop by during SF Sketchfest!

pattrice notes,

Without doubt, being carted to and then chased around a radio station will be extremely distressing to the birds in question. Moreover, mockery is a means by which people distance themselves from animals, in order to make their abuse less ethically troubling. Thus, this event, if allowed to go forward, will not only harm the two birds but also contribute to the callous disregard for animals that facilitates both everyday and extreme abuses of animals. […]

There is, of course, one more cause for concern about this particular event. Why, on the day that our nation’s first African American president will be inaugurated, will radio hosts be making jokes about eating chicken?

The answer is obvious, but allow me to state it anyway. Clearly, by introducing chickens into their Inauguration Day “joke,” the hosts of “The Woody Show” are invoking an age-old stereotype involving African Americans and chicken:

(More below the fold…)

Another twist in the Obama family doggy drama.

Friday, January 16th, 2009

Update, 1/22/09:

Now that this post is making the rounds (which is to say, a few bloggers have mentioned it – lolz on me!), I want to make the following clarifications:

1) As I said at Change.org, I don’t think Obama is a misogynist. In calling his “girly dog” remark sexist, I’m not grouping him with hardcore misogynists like Ann Coulter, Joe Francis, Rick Warren and the like. Rather, I think that Obama occasionally engages in the sort of casual, softcore sexism that’s all too common among men (and women!) who have been raised in a culture steeped in misogyny. An occasional slip is understandable and excusable – after all, we’re all socialized with certain prejudices, which we have to unlearn – but only if you’re willing to recognize, apologize and learn from it.

Here, Mrs. Obama offered her husband several opportunities to reconsider his comments – and he didn’t. To me, his failure to recognize how this gendered stereotype might offend his wife and daughters is worse than the comments themselves.

2) Upon re-reading the post, I see that I conflated “small dogs” with “girly dogs” – my bad! While I think there’s a strong correlation between a dog’s size and his/her perceived “girly”-ness, there are exceptions. The standard poodle, for example, is a larger breed, but might be considered “girly,” inasmuch as it’s “high maintenance” (i.e., is rather well groomed). “Girly doesn’t necessarily equal “small,” but the two are somewhat related.

Nor do I have a problem with Obama preferring a large dog; indeed, as some have pointed out, large dogs are overrepresented in shelters, at least in some areas of the country, and thus it might do more good for Obama to adopt a large breed. That’s fine by me – but he can do so without denigrating “girly” dogs (and, by extension, actual girls and women).

3) Enumerating the consequences of gender-based stereotypes and insults on human men and women is well beyond the scope of this blog.

However, if you:

a) Don’t understand why the term “girly” might be perceived as an insult, and a gender-based one at that;

b) Don’t see the links between misogyny and homophobia; and/or

c) Don’t recognize the practical, real-world effects of gender stereotypes and gendered slurs on men and women (and girls and boys), or understand how men and women (and girls and boys) receive different, gendered socialization, then

I highly recommend adding some feminist blogs to your reading list. For a primer, start with Finally, a feminism 101 blog. As far as non-AR feminist blogs go, I also like Shakespeare’s Sister and Feministe, both of which are relatively light on speciesism.

If you think I need to “lighten up” or “get over myself,” you really need to do some feminist homework!

4) Finally, I’d like to add that the term “girly dog” also invokes class and race stereotypes. When you think of the quintessential “girly dog” and her “owner,” probably you think of a small, white, yappy, puffy little dog with bows in her perfectly groomed hair. The dog – being a lap dog, as Obama also said – is most likely pictured lounging on the lap of an equally perfectly groomed woman, who is either prissy and “diva”-ish, like Paris Hilton (another blogger’s term and example), or older and regally respectable, like Ms. Walters. Either way, she’s white and upper-class. At least, that’s my take on the term.

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Oy. After months of equivocating on the dog issue, the Obama family has announced that they’ve narrowed their choice down to two breeds: the Labradoodle and the Portuguese Water Dog. Unfortunately, as Adopt-a-Pet.com reports, while these are not the only two “hypoallergenic” breeds available, they are harder to find on animal adoption websites:

You recently signed Adopt-a-Pet.com’s petition on www.Presidential-Pooch-Pardon.com asking Barack Obama to adopt a shelter dog. He is interested in adopting, but has narrowed his search to uncommon breeds that are difficult to find in a shelter. Now, on the President-Elect’s website, there’s a section where people can vote for their favorite ideas, and the top vote-getting ideas will be directly seen by Obama. One of the animal shelter workers who posts pets for adoption on Adopt-a-Pet.com has posted an idea urging the president to consider finding a mixed breed dog with the right individual traits that meets his family’s needs.

You can make a huge difference by voting one more time here. If this is your first time on the site, you’ll be asked to create an account, which is super simple. After you create your account, click the link above again to locate the suggestion.

Thank you for being part of this non-partisan effort to promote homeless pet adoption please spread the word to your friends!

Indeed, a search of Petfinder for “Labradoodle” currently turns up zero results, while “Portuguese Water Dog” uncovers seven purebred dogs.

Additionally, in selecting a purebred dog, the Obamas are practically inviting greedy breeders to cash in on their (hopefully) compassionate choice by sexually exploiting and selling the “Obama dog.” (Doubly so if they adopt a breed that’s hard to find through adoption routes.) A mixed breed or mutt – particularly one of unknown heritage, which can’t easily be reproduced – would help minimize this risk.

Also on the Obama dog front, Adopt-a-Pet.com has some crazy cute graphics you can download, encouraging the Obamas to adopt a mutt.

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They’re available at muttslikeme.adoptapet.com, which is a riff on Obama’s observation that “A lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me.”

(More below the fold…)

::RAGE::, Redux

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

In audio clips posted on their website, Pastor Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church preaches that, for one Christian to divorce another Christian is a sin – even if one of the so-called Christians is physically abusing his (or her!) partner.

On whether women can divorce an abusive spouse (question #32):

I’d always rather choose a short-term pain and find God’s solution for long-term gain than try and find a short-term solution that’s going to involve long-term pain. … [In scripture] adultery is one [reason for divorce] and abandonment is a second. I wish there were a third in scripture. Having been involved as a pastor in situations of abuse there’s something in me that wishes there was a Bible verse that says if they abuse you in this and such kind of way then you have a right to leave them. … If you’re in this kind of situation I strongly recommend that you take advantage of our lay counseling ministers. Go in and talk to someone and let them minister to you. And the advice that we give is not divorce but separation.

On whether a woman has to stay in a “miserable” marriage (question #31):

The Bible answer is yes. Does God expect me to stay in a miserable marriage, and why would he do that to me? I often say to people when they’re facing this decision, really, you’re choosing your pain in this moment because it’s going to be painful either way. If you stay in your marriage there is the opportunity for reconciliation and for the loss of pain, but there is going to be short-term pain on the way there. … There is lifelong pain in divorce. … I wish there was a way to say there is a choice here where you’re not going to have pain but there is pain in relationships. Now, God understands that… He can be with us in our pain and he can comfort us, he can strengthen us, he can give us perspective. He can also give us wisdom. Does God expect me to live with this pain? No. I think he expects us to ask for wisdom to do the things that would cause the pain to begin to be solved. … The Bible says the husband is to sacrifice for his wife and the wife is to respect her husband and if that doesn’t happen you have the right to keep pushing for that.

According to Warren’s teachings, abused women have no right to divorce their abusers.

(More below the fold…)

Oh, Baby.

Friday, January 9th, 2009

Blub alert! Grab a box of Kleenex and the nearest doggy (or kitty) before watching this video about Baby, an ex-puppy mill poodle who lost a leg due to the abuse she received during her nine years as a “breeder.”

Her human, Jana Kohl – who authored a book about Baby’s ordeal called A Rare Breed of Lovewrites:

Like all the breeding dogs, Baby was tattooed with a number and had her vocal cords cut so the owners wouldn’t have to listen to her cries to be let out of her cage. Her leg was amputated after her rescue due to the abuse she suffered. On the day Baby was scheduled to be killed – because she had gotten too old to breed – she was rescued by a passing stranger who was dubbed the “Drive-by Angel.” Eventually Baby found a forever home with author Jana Kohl, who was inspired to tell the world about her ordeal and hopefully reform this cruel industry.

Baby famously posed with President-elect Barack Obama; the duo is currently featured on the cover of American Dog magazine.

Let’s hope that the Obama family thinks of poor Baby – victimized and exploited, caged and enslaved, her babies and life stolen from her in the name of corporate profits and human wants – when they consider whether they should adopt and/or buy a dog for daughters Sasha and Malia.

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Tagged:

The Perfect Cup of Tea

Monday, January 5th, 2009

2009-01-05 - The Perfect Cup of Tea - 0004

Mix 1/2 cup of Silk’s seasonal Pumpkin Spice soy milk with 1/2 cup water. Microwave until hot-hot-hot – about two and a half minutes – and then throw in one or two bags of your favorite tea. Let steep for five minutes, add a bit of sugar to taste, and enjoy!

I’m sipping on a cup now (Bigelow’s Earl Grey Green Tea; I prefer their Green Tea with Peach, but I’m plum out), trying my very bestest to find my calm zen place, after hearing rumors on the internets that Obama plans to both adopt and buy a dog, in an incredibly stupid attempt to play even the most trivial of issues* both ways. And no, the run-on sentences definitely aren’t originating from my zen place.

For what it’s worth, I’m so glad I voted my conscience this election cycle. Otherwise, I probably would have thrown my mug through the front window by now.

* Relatively speaking, and totally removed from the decision’s context and long-term consequences.

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Tagged:

“Tolerating the intolerant” isn’t change I can believe in.*

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

Update, 12/21/08: Nina M., guest posting at Reclusive Leftist, has an excellent dissection of Obama’s “talking points” on the Warren issue. Go read now!

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard that Obama’s chosen the homobigoted, woman-hating pastor Rick Warren to give the Inaugural invocation. Setting aside the issue of whether an invocation, delivered at a government event, is even appropriate, it’s really shitty of Obama to choose Warren, friendship and shared ideologies aside.

As PFAW President Kathryn Kolbert noted,

Pastor Warren, while enjoying a reputation as a moderate based on his affable personality and his church’s engagement on issues like AIDS in Africa, has said that the real difference between James Dobson and himself is one of tone rather than substance. He has recently compared marriage by loving and committed same-sex couples to incest and pedophilia. He has repeated the Religious Right’s big lie that supporters of equality for gay Americans are out to silence pastors. He has called Christians who advance a social gospel Marxists. He is adamantly opposed to women having a legal right to choose an abortion.

I’m sure that Warren’s supporters will portray his selection as an appeal to unity by a president who is committed to reaching across traditional divides. Others may explain it as a response to Warren inviting then-Senator Obama to speak on AIDS and candidate Obama to appear at a forum, both at his church. But the sad truth is that this decision further elevates someone who has in recent weeks actively promoted legalized discrimination and denigrated the lives and relationships of millions of Americans.

The Obama camp’s “leaked talking points,” as reported in HuffPo, are, well, laughable:

At his press conference on Thursday, Barack Obama for the first time addressed the flurry of protest that has erupted over the choice of Rick Warren to give the inaugural invocation.

Stressing his own advocacy of equal rights for gay and lesbian Americans, the president-elect raised a relevant anecdote from his biography as a defense.

“Advocacy of equal rights for gay and lesbian Americans”? What the fuck is he smoking? A supporter of “civil unions” – for reasons that basically amount to religion and “tradition” – Obama is a-ok with allowing individual states to decide whether GLBT couples should be granted the same civil rights that heterosexual folks enjoy. How’s that advocating “equal rights for gay and lesbian Americans,” again?

A reader at HuffPo said it best:

I was very enthusiastic to have Obama as my president for the most part but I always had reservations about his commitment to GBLT issues and this is more than disappointing. I wonder if people would be saying, “it’s not that big of a deal, give him some slack” if someone of the ilk of David Duke or a virulent Holocaust deny-er was invited to give the invocation, you know, in the spirit of unity and to be open and inclusive. Why is it ok for a spokesperson of the anti-gay movement to be included and not recognized as a step too far into so-called post partisanship ? Why is Warren’s AIDS work supposed to mollify angry GBLT voters? Is AIDS still only erroneously considered a gay thing in America, so if you are doing work for that you are, by default working for the gay community? Why can’t even progressives understand what a stinging slap in the face to the GBLT community it is to have a vocal, active, and powerful homophobe given a platform no matter how large or small that platform may be?

Somehow, I doubt it.

* Bah, it isn’t even “change.”

Book Review: The American Journey of Barack Obama, Time-Life Magazine (2008)

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

A gorgeous coffee table book; nothing more, nothing less.

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review through Library Thing’s Early Reviewer program.)

I’ve long been a fan of the Time/Life glossy pictorial hardcovers (e.g., the Time Annual Year in Review and Life Album: Pictures of the Year series), so when Life’s THE AMERICAN JOURNEY OF BARACK OBAMA became available through Library Thing’s Early Reviewer program, I jumped at the chance to review a copy. Though I’m not an Obama voter – I supported Kucinch in the primaries, McKinney/Clemente in the general election – I found myself moved by the historic nature of his campaign (and victory) nonetheless. In particular, the photos and speeches which came out of the 2008 campaign cycle have proven poignant and inspirational; considering previous Life volumes, I hoped that this book might capture some of the more memorable campaign moments.

Since THE AMERICAN JOURNEY OF BARACK OBAMA is largely a work of photojournalism, let’s start with the photographs. TAJOBO is a gorgeous, colorful book, filled to the brim with photos: Obama/Dunham and, later, Obama/Robinson family snapshots; photos of Barack Obama during his college years; pictures taken throughout Obama’s political career; candid shots of Barack and Michelle with children Sasha and Malia; and, of course, a number of photos from the campaign trail, including a few stills of the Obamas working the daytime talk show circuit. If you followed the 2008 elections, no doubt you’ll recognize some of the more iconic photographs, such as the one of Obama, leaning back in an office chair, with a phone nestled snugly between ear and shoulder, feet propped up on a desk – showing two very beaten, worn soles.

Sadly, Life only includes a few photos of Obama’s supporters, taken during his speeches and rallies; of the shots they do include, most are of the stadium-sized crowds, rather than of individual supporters. For me, these have been some of the most moving and emotional images from the campaign trail: seeing African American children and adults interact with Obama and react to his speeches. It’s a shame that Life didn’t feature more of these photographs.

In regards to the biographical text of TAJOBO, the book is primarily divided into five sections: Roots, Boyhood, A Young Man on the Rise, Chicago and Washington. The biographical section is largely laudatory, as you might expect; after all, one purchases Life pictorials for the photos – the hard hitting journalism, not so much.

The final section, Aspects of Obama, features twelve essays from “fine thinkers” (while I probably take in more CSPAN than your average American, none of the names ring a bell), with the goal of examining how Obama is viewed “by the black man and the white, the cultural anthropologist and the historian, the northerner and the southerner, the immigrant and the foreigner, the woman who suffered when Hillary got beat.” While this section practically begs for an essay critical of Obama – just one, mind you! – the editors at Life wouldn’t hear of it. Likewise, the specter of racism is discussed in depth, as it should be – as I noted above, this was a historic election cycle. However, 2008 was notable not just because it saw the first African American presidential candidate on a major party ticket – but because he was competing against the first viable female candidate in the Democratic primaries. Just as race(ism) was at the forefront in 2008, so too was sex(ism) – but the misogyny directed at Hillary Clinton and her supporters (and later, Sarah Palin and her supporters), is barely given a nod. But again, I expected as much when I requested the book from LT; a masterpiece of political journalism, TAJOBO is not.

To be fair, THE AMERICAN JOURNEY OF BARACK OBAMA doesn’t claim to be a comprehensive biography or exhaustive journalistic endeavor. Rather, it’s a pretty book, meant to commemorate the first African American President of the United States. (I somewhat doubt that Life would have released THE AMERICAN JOURNEY OF JOHN MCCAIN, had Obama lost the election, you know?) In this, the editors at Life largely succeed; and yet, because Obama’s American journey is also a journey shared by the many people of color who supported Obama, campaigned on his behalf, braved harsh weather and crushing throngs in order to hear him speak, and celebrated with him when he won the election, I can’t help but feel as though more of the photos in this (photo)essay could have – should have – been dedicated to them: “Yes WE Can.”

(This review was originally published on Amazon and Library Thing, and is also available on Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you think it so!)

Has the man never heard of Pound Puppies ™?

Friday, November 7th, 2008

Updated to add:

Here’s the exact quote; early accounts of the press conference on the internets only had partial transcripts:

With respect to the dog. This is a major issue. I think it’s generated more interest on our web site than just about anything. We have two criteria that have to be reconciled. One is that Malia is allergic, so it has to be hypoallergenic. There are a number of breeds that are hypoallergenic, on the other hand our preference would be to get a shelter dog. But obviously a lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me. So whether we’re going to be able to balance those two things I think is a pressing issue on the Obama household.

Also irksome is the reporter’s phrasing of the question: “everyone wants to know what kind of dog are you going to buy for the girls?” Because purchasing a sentient being as if it’s a microwave or couch is the only way to bring an animal into your home, dontchaknow?

Idiot man-child Chris Matthews echoed this sentiment even after playing Obama’s response just now. Dolt.

Finally, “hypoallergenic” as it relates to dogs should really be in scare quotes; as both Elaine and the Wiki entry I link to below note, there’s no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic dog. However, there are a number of steps that those living with animals and allergies can take to minimize the misery. Shane has asthma, and we manage with five dogs and a cat. (Likewise, my mother has asthma, and has lived with dogs, cats, rabbits, birds and turtles…though not all at the same time!)

——————–

During President-elect Obama’s first press conference this afternoon, he was asked about that puppy he promised daughters Malia and Sasha:

“With respect to the dog, this is a major issue. We have two criteria that have to be reconciled. One is that Malia is allergic, so it has to be hypoallergenic. Number 2. is that we would prefer a shelter dog, but as you know a lot of them are mutts, like me, so we’ll have to balance those issues.”

Here, Obama buys into the myth that young and/or purebred dogs are not available for adoption; that they can only be purchased from breeders. A quick perusal through animal adoption sites such as Petfinder puts this misconception to bed, as Elaine points out.

In addition to Obama’s prejudices regarding shelter dogs (i.e., all are old mutts), I’m also disturbed by his apparent willingness to flipflop on this issue if need be, despite Mrs. Obama’s promise that the family will adopt, rather than purchase a dog. (No doubt due to several high-profile campaigns encouraging them to do just this, including a letter from PETA and a petition drive from Best Friends.) Doubly so when Obama has a history of changing course when it’s politically expedient. If he can’t keep such an “inconsequential,” simple promise such as this, I don’t have much faith that he’ll, say, appoint justices who respect my bodily autonomy.

While the matter of adopting vs. purchasing the family “pet” may seem trivial, the epidemic of companion animal overpopulation and the resulting murder of 3 to 4 million cats and dogs annually is anything but. The Obamas are in the unique position to set an excellent, progressive example; and yet, President-elect Obama has already begun backtracking, hemming and hawing – at such an early date, and seemingly in response to misinformation regarding animal adoption.

I hope Best Friends continues hounding (pun intended) him on the issue.

(More below the fold…)

happysadsickangryfearfulhopeful

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

He wasn’t my candidate, but I’m relieved that today, the Wednesday-morning quarterbacks are discussing how President-elect Barack Obama triumphed over Senator McCain – if only because the other alternative is too terrifying to consider.

I hope that Barack Obama’s victory over John McCain will begin to heal the deep racial divisions that still exist in this country.

But I fear that rewarding a campaign based at least in part on rank, naked misogyny will only encourage it to grow, fester and spread.

I want to believe that an Obama administration will respect and fight for the civil and human rights of all: people of color, women, the LGBTQ community, people of disability, people of all faiths – and particularly those of none. Non-human animals and the environment. Global citizens, not just American citizens.

But I’m fucking terrified that he’ll throw us all under the bus, in the name of “populism” and “reaching across the aisle.” All those “special interest groups” President Obama has called upon to converge as one – does he expect us to sacrifice our well-being for “the greater good”?

Because I won’t. A condescending pat on the head simply won’t do. Goodbye to all that shit.

And yet, blub. This is history, in the making. On more than one level, I’m so very proud to be an American today.

On other levels…not so much.

I don’t know what to think or feel or be this morning.

Uh, no.

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

Just, no.

null

Firstly, I’m not a “girl.”

Nor am I bait, a prop, or an object to be used for your political ends.

It’s nice to know, though, in a historic election year that nearly saw the first viable female presidential candidate, and did bring the second female VP candidate on a major party ticket – well, it’s nice to know what I’m really good for: fucking. It’s all about the lady bits, am I right?

And yes, I realize that the ad was produced by four girls women; that doesn’t make it any less sexist. Because, um, women can be sexist, too.

This sort of misogyny – emanating from the left, and directed at all women, be they conservatives (Palin), Republicans, Democrats (Clinton & the so-called PUMAs), or progressives (non-Obamabots, i.e., me) – is one of many reasons why I won’t be voting for Obama on November 4.

Or renewing my Bust subscription.

This election cycle cannot be over fast enough.

Of course they did.

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

The Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF) – the Humane Society of the United States’ (HSUS) political arm – endorsed Obama:

One of the guiding principles of the Humane Society Legislative Fund is that we evaluate candidates based on a single criterion: where they stand on animal protection policies. We don’t make decisions based on party affiliation, or any other social issue, or even how many pets they have. We care about their views and actions on the major policy debates relating to animal welfare. […]

I’m proud to announce today that the HSLF board of directors — which is comprised of both Democrats and Republicans — has voted unanimously to endorse Barack Obama for President. The Obama-Biden ticket is the better choice on animal protection, and we urge all voters who care about the humane treatment of animals, no matter what their party affiliation, to vote for them.

Obama voted for FISA; the HSUS offered up $2500 worth of donor monies as a bounty to help the FBI catch so-called “eco-terrorists” in California.

A perfect match, they are.

By the by, I wonder if they even bothered to submit their questionnaire to McKinney…not to mention all those other third-party candidates?

(Link via.)

“Thanks for nothing, you phoney!”

Monday, August 4th, 2008

Ugh. Just, ugh.

It seems like another lifetime ago, but remember all the fuss about Michigan and Florida?

After those states held their primaries in violation of Democratic Party rules, the party cracked down on them and said their delegates would not have a voice at the national convention in Denver. Then in May, the rules committee agreed to let their delegates have half a vote each.

Now Senator Barack Obama, the party’s presumptive nominee, has asked the credentials committee to let the two states have full voting rights at the convention after all.

The request is likely to be granted since it comes from the all-but-certain nominee, who now controls the party apparatus. […]

The status of the two states was an explosive issue throughout much of the primary season. Back then, the Obama camp was on the other side, arguing that the two states broke the rules by moving up their primaries and should be punished.

His chief rival, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, had received more votes in both states but Mr. Obama had taken his name off the ballot in Michigan, and neither campaigned in Florida.

Mrs. Clinton had campaigned fiercely for the delegates in Florida and Michigan to be given full voting status, hoping this would legitimize their primaries, which in turn might bolster her argument that she had won more popular votes than Mr. Obama. Still, she trailed him in delegates, which is the standard by which the nominee is chosen.

What is there to say, really? Clinton’s attempt to seat Florida and Michigan’s delegates after initially agreeing that they wouldn’t count – and after it became clear that she needed them to win – was a huge plate of self-serving hypocrisy. As is Obama’s call to seat the delegates, after initially opposing Clinton’s efforts to do, now that he’s the presumptive nominee.

You know, now that their “votes” don’t. fucking. matter.

Back in January,

Barack Obama’s campaign manager says it seems like Clinton “will do or say anything to win an election.”

Rubber and glue, asshole. Rubber and glue.

Incidentally, it’s becoming harder and harder to paint McCain’s constant flip-flopping as a negative when Obama’s off doing more of the same. Grrrr….

Talk about presumptuous.

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

Dear MoveOn member,

Imagine showing up on November 4th to cast your history-making vote for Barack Obama—only to be turned away because you aren’t properly registered.

Think it can’t happen to you? Don’t be so sure. There are a bunch of reasons your registration might not be up to date, even if you think it is.

Take one minute right now to double-check your registration using our cool web tool, VotePoke. Click here.

This is going to be an amazing, exciting, once-in-a-lifetime election. You don’t want to have to tell your grandkids you wanted to vote for Barack Obama, but didn’t actually get to do it.

C’mon, now MoveOn – did you learn nothing from your half-assed “endorsement” of Obama over Clinton? As I recall, some of your “members” (i.e., email subscribers) were annoyed enough over your proselytizing that you had to send out an extra-special email to smooth ruffled feathers. Now y’all are just assuming that I’ll vote for Obama? I mean, I probably will, but still. Talk about obnoxious.

By the by, if anyone would like to check the validity of their voter registration, here be the link. It’s actually not a bad idea; too bad MoveOn had to mar it by telling us bitchez how we’d better f’in vote.

This shit is really getting tiresome.

:: RAGE ::

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

Methinks I need a vacation from the internets. Sigh.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Democrats. com – activist@democrats.com
Date: Thu, Jun 5, 2008 at 9:00 AM
Subject: We Are United For Change – Tell Your Friends!

It’s all over the news: Hillary Clinton will formally endorse Barack Obama on Friday and the campaign for the White House will begin.

This has been an amazing campaign. For the first time in American history, the leading candidates of the nation’s largest party included a woman, an Hispanic, and an African-American. As Democrats, we fully understood the deep prejudices against each, but we smashed those prejudices so we could find the very best candidate to lead our great Nation.

Incredibly, we may have realized Dr. Martin Luther King’s once-impossible dream for his children: to “one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

So now the campaign to take back the White House begins. And we will have to work from now until November to persuade the rest of America to join us in voting for change, however difficult that vote will be.

Let’s start today. Please join me in reaching out to 10 friends and relatives who want to end the disastrous Bush-Cheney-McCain era and start a new Democratic era to create good jobs, achieve energy independence, protect our planet, provide health care to all, end illegal torture and wiretapping, and bring our troops safely home.

If we come together as Democrats, progressives, independents, and thoughtful Republicans, we can win a sweeping victory in November and create a better future for ourselves, our children, and generations to come.

This is the most important election of our lives. Please join me today.

http://www.democrats.com/we-are-united-for-change

Bob Fertik

Dear Bob Fertik,

Your blinders, they sound lovely. Please to send me a pair?

Contemptuously,

A Vagina-Person

P.S. Why no mention of repealing the global gag rule, increased contraceptive access, better sex ed., the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, gay marriage, DOMA, Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell, etc., in your laundry list of “yes we can”-isms? Is it because you consider women, gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered persons “special interest” blocks to be thrown under the bus at the whim of the Democratic Party? That doesn’t sound much like “unity” to me, mmmmkay.

P.P.S. Courting the “thoughtful Republican” vote now, are ya? Pander to oxymorons much?