Posts Tagged ‘Barak Obama’

Typical blog post

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

I suspect that the most common sentence used to start blog entries is some variation on: “I haven’t updated this blog in awhile.” I know I’ve written a few. I’m trying to avoid writing it again, but it’s been two full months since I’ve shown my face here. So here I am.

I really meant to blog about the inauguration, and the Oscars but I didn’t.

What I’ve been doing in the meantime,

  1. I’ve been in Tempe/Phoenix Arizona directing a production of Sarah Ruhl’s EURYDICE. It was a so-called “site specific” production. Here’s a review. While in AZ. I did a lot of hiking in the Superstition mountains/wilderness. This activity took up all the time I would have spent blogging etc.

  2. I’ve been watching Barak Obama get inaugurated and start his term. I still choke up almost every time someone says “President Barak Obama.” I have also discovered that I wish I was Malia or Sasha. Not that I am that unhappy with the life I have, but man, wouldn’t it be GREAT to be one of those girls?

  3. I’ve been getting more active on Twitter. If you know what it is, I’ve also started using Brightkite to update both Twitter and Facebook. I’m also using Yelp more and more and I’m actually writing reviews. Check out the new Yelp window on this blog (scroll down on the main blog page, it’s on the right).

  4. I’m now in Louisville KY rehearsing (as an actor) Chuck Mee’s UNDER CONSTRUCTION with SITI Company. More on this later…

Ok. So that’s it for now.

Living in a Cartogram

Monday, November 17th, 2008

Yes. I’m still writing about the election.

So there were some jokes I’ve been telling after the election. My favorite is “It’s good to have a crypto-Muslim back in the White House. This country hasn’t had that since Filmore…” I’m also fond of pointing out how this whole change thing is a sham. Gravity (or what have you) is still just as strong.

There was another joke I was telling the day or so surrounding the actual election, about how I thought we should be a Quaker country and we’d have to wait until we had unanimity on the president. Until every last person agreed. This qualifies as a joke because it contains some truth. If I could choose I would prefer the country where everybody wants Obama to be pres.

So NPR’s Science Friday, which is a kind of dorky show but I listen to it (Pod catching) every week because I often learn amazing things, posted this video. At first I was kind of “Yeah, yeah…” about it but for some reason it stuck with me. I kept thinking about how we over-simplify our thinking about our society. How we sometimes fail to see that there’s actual beauty in our situation. How boring it would be if the world was the way we wanted it to be. It is the job of science to constantly remind us that the world is actually much harder to understand, and much more beautiful than we though.

Enjoy!

OMFG!!

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

President Elect Barak Obama!

What a pleasure it is to type those words in that order and know that it’s a description of a person who actually exists. A fact instead of a jinx.

I keep waiting to wake up, and at the same time realizing that we are finally waking up from the nightmare.

While listening to President Elect Barak Obama’s speech last night, my mind would occasionally flash to an image of our still current president, and a reversal of a bit of Hamlet would ring through my ears: “So excellent a king that was, to this, Hyperion to a satyr…”

I am filled with a sense of purpose that exists on two channels:

  1. Hyperion Obama is right. All we have accomplished at this point is the securing of an opportunity to change things. The real work starts now. He is not some sort of messiah or national magic negro. He’s our community organizer. We’re his community. So get organized. Get to work. Look around you. How did this happen to this place? Clean it up! Fix it! He’s calling us to service. Answer!

  2. We MUST learn not to let what happened to this country in the last eight years (or more) happen again. We are ALL culpable. It was not the fault of the “red states.” Get past that. There is a good chance that we will one day look back and think fondly of the Bush years, cause they were so much better than the Palin administration. Obama is opening the door to a change that will make the divisive politics of the past a permanent part of the past. To make this stick, we have to find ways to reach out to the people on the other side of the alleged cultural divide in this country and find ways to talk to them. This is not a time to gloat. This is a time to reach out to the MILLIONS of Amearicans, who are terrified that we just handed the keys to the oval office to a racially inferior, old-school socialist, cryptomuslum terrorist. To call them ignorant losers is not what the country needs right now. We need to find a way to allow them to open up in ways that they are going to find difficult. Those of us who are not scared must find ways to help those that are. If we do not, then we leave them open to the schemes of those who would manipulate that fear for their own political gain. The divisions that divide us go deep. They are not going to go away easily. The fact of Obama’s election is one of the best footholds we’ve had. Let’s put some weight on it, and put it to work. This is not his job. This is our job as citizens. He’s got other fish to fry. He has to save the world.

This is possibly the highest quality human being we’ve elected in a really long time. Let’s not waste the next four years on wishful thinking, and unsupported expectations. Don’t ask him to help you. Help him.

We now have a real leader.

Let’s get out there and see what this United States thing can do…

Sarah The Candidate.

Monday, October 27th, 2008

This morning, I watched a rally by the republican vice presidential candidate who I am committed to not naming on this blog. She was talking about Joe the Plumber and Cindy the Citizen and Bill the Builder etc, and I suddenly realized what she’s doing and why I have a problem with it. She’s not running for vice president of the United States. She’s running for vice president of Sesame Street!

Then the crowd started chanting “Use your brain. Vote McCain.” It wasn’t so much that they were chanting this, but they were chanting it brainlessly. I mean have these people never heard of irony?

So these rallys, which a few weeks ago were “Nuremburg-Lite”, are now “Elmo Live” events, playing to a crowd of Zombie children.

I know it’s bad form to speak ill of my fellow citizens on the other side of the alleged cultural divide. But there’s a lot of buzz about how her Veepness is now positioning herself for power plays within the RNC after a McCain defeat. If this is true (and even if it isn’t) this is not the last context in which we will have to deal with this person and the tripe that flows so bitterly from her. Although this is good for Tina Fey’s career, I think we need to keep working to wake the zombies up. These people have brains. And they are not children. This is why it’s so offensive to see them acting like the Children of the Corn.

I am beginning to actually have hope that Barak Obama may just pull this off. Like most people I’m afraid to say this cause it’s just so tempting and it seems so easy to jinx, but I’ve always said that the more the election is about the economy, the more chance Barak has. Who could have predicted this economic collapse, and how it is finally edging Obama into something like a lead that might have some traction?

I don’t have enough to lose much in the current situation, so although I know it’s short sighted and cold blooded to say so, if it takes an economic catastrophie to get Obama in the White House, then so be it.

This being said, I hear stories every day that remind me it’s not over.

So keep working! I don’t want to live on Lobotomized Sesame Street.

Fear

Friday, September 19th, 2008

It would seem that the folks who have hi-jacked the GOP and turned it into a heartless power-mongering machine, have managed to steer this election back towards the territory of the oft commented upon “Culture War” in the United States.

At the end of the DNC, I had hope that we were not going to go down this road…

I don’t want to name the individual who’s selection to run with McCain has been the most polarizing move in this game. I will not use the name because I don’t want to add to the number of times that name is out there. However I will say this:

It is profoundly confusing to me and many of my friends, to find ourselves in a country that has a significant number of people who will enthusiastically get behind this person. Some are reacting by blaming the media, saying that there really aren’t that many people behind her. I think this is wishful thinking. Others are just throwing mud and saying that people are just stupid. I think this is unfair. I think there are a lot of things going on but one of the big things that is going on is that people are scared.

It is hard to argue against the idea that Barack Obama represents change. He is, I think, appealing to the better angels of our nature. For many of us, this is exciting, and downright necessary. I happen to think our lives depend on it. But I also think that we need to come to terms with the extent to which this is scary for a lot of people.

We are in the midst of environmental and economic catastrophe. We are also at war. This is scary.

On top of this I think that many people look at Obama and feel fundamentally uncomfortable. It could be because he’s black, or because he’s educated, or because he’s new. In any case this feeling of ill-ease is scary.

So. I think people are looking for a reason to not support Barack Obama. They NEED a reason to not support him. For example: Many people in the United States have been culturally trained to not express racist sentiment. This doesn’t mean that they don’t have racist sentiments. It just means that those sentiments don’t get aired and don’t sit easily in them. So they will grasp for any other excuse to run from Obama so that they don’t have to say “I don’t like him cause he’s black.”

People who have two or three SUVs in their driveways, are afraid to change things that they see as fundamental to their lifestyle. So they chant “Drill, Baby, Drill!” It’s reassuring.

I don’t think these people are stupid. I think they’re scared. They feel trapped, and they’re looking for a way out.

They’re grasping for this new VP candidate because she seems to offer that way out. On a completely superficial, cultural level, she seems to offer comfort. We need to understand this. To ignore why this is happening is to be out of touch with our fellow citizens. To write it off is bigotry.

We don’t help them by telling them how irrational they’re being. We don’t help them by telling them they’re greedy, racist, idiots. I think we help them by helping them chill out. Calm down. Think about what’s going on. Look around. Listen to what people are actually saying. Pay attention, and take action based on consideration and rational thought.

On the other side, there is so much fear in how we are reacting to this new member of the McCain ticket. Hatred and fear. I don’t disagree with the reasons for these feelings, but I do disagree with the response. Chill out. Calm down. Think about what’s going on. Look around. Listen to what people are actually saying. Pay attention, and take action based on consideration and rational thought.

The result may be the same, but let it come from the better angels of our nature. Not the devils of fear that these power-mongers need to conjure in us all.

That’s what I think today…

Mr. Obama replies! (Kind of)

Monday, September 1st, 2008

I just got a text message:

“Barack asks that you give to the Red Cross: give 5 dollars by texting GIVE to 24357 or give more by calling 1-800-435-7669 or at redcross.org/donte. Please fwd”

So apparently it’s ok that I call him Barack.

I was going to make a bunch of jokes here about how he must have misread my last post etc, but given that I don’t take Gulf Coast Hurricanes lightly, I find that I mainly just want to get the word out. If you can help, please do. There’s still a lot of need even though Gustav wasn’t as bad as was feared.

For those readers of this blog who are down there: Hang tight. Looks like Gustav petered, but here comes Hanna.

In terms of the tone of the text from Obama, I have to say that there’s something about the “Barack asks that you…” that makes me think I drank some cool-aid somewhere along the line.

This is a weird post. Deal with it.

Dear Mr. Obama,

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

Dear Barak (can I call you that?),

I have a favor to ask of you. I understand that you have a complicated vision of what needs to be done in this country. It is sophisticated and comprehensive (although an arts policy would be nice). I understand that you can’t boil our situation down into one single issue and hope to get elected.

But this, so-called, “Climate Crisis” thing is a pretty big deal. So here’s one thing that I’d like you to do. Please.

  1. Become president of the United States (I’ll try to help with this if I can).

  2. Once sworn in, create a new cabinet level (or higher if there is such a thing) position called “Climate Tsar” or “Superman” or whatever.

  3. Appoint Al Gore to this position.

  4. Give Gore almost unlimited power, with the mandate of saving humanity. Give him the same power you would give him if he were conducting the largest military war we can imagine, against the most vicious and evil enemy ever. Give him an obscene amount of power, and then take it away if he abuses it.

Pretty please?

I am not saying this because I think he should be president and you should not. I think you should be president and not him.

In case you need a refresher on Mr. Gore here’s a vid of him at TED this last April. If you haven’t seen it, take a look. It’s about 20 mins long:

See. I think he’s valuable.

You’re going to have a lot on your plate. You have to take care of all sorts of people and issues. On top of which you’re a senator from the most nuclear state in the country. You’ve gotten a lot of campaign money from the nuclear industry. I get that, you’re a politician. You’re doing what you have to do. I seriously don’t have a problem with this.

As you have so eloquently pointed out, we’re going to have to start transcending politics. Maybe someone like Gore who has left the political fray has something important to offer. He represents the best chance we have to address this particular problem. I think one of your jobs as president will be to utilize the resources that we have. Al Gore as a citizen of the United States, is a really valuable resource.

Tap some of that!

Your buddy.

Leon.

I’m afraid of Barak Obama

Saturday, August 30th, 2008

It comes as a surprise to few who know me, that in addition to my afore mentioned passion for flip-flops, I am an admirer of David Bowie. One of my favorite songs of his, is the rousing “I’m Afraid Of Americans” from the album Earthling.

The thing is that things are really volatile right now. I don’t think people heard Al Gore the other day. I would sum it up as:

  1. We are currently on course towards the end of the period in which the surface of the earth is hospitable for human habitation. All of our other issues are linked, or subservient, to this Damocles sword.

  2. It is arguable that the United States has a very significant role to play in regards to this situation.

  3. Our current state of democracy sclerosis (Gore’s term although he didn’t use it at the DNC) renders the native intelligence and muscle of the United States weak and impotent, exactly when we need it.

It’s not that I think political change in the United States would be nice. It’s that I think that without it we’re all going to die.

The scale of what needs to happen is not like the Apollo program. The scale of what is needed will make WWII look small… ok maybe not small but what needs to happen is bigger than WWII.

If there is something which in my mind could justify a unitary executive, it is this. A dictator that gets this done, might not be a bad thing. That I think this, is dangerous. I hope that there is another way, cause the genie of that kind of power lives in a toothpaste tube. It only comes out, not back in.

When I look at all these earnest Obama supporters chanting about “change” I keep imagining the exchange between Tyrell and Roy in BLADE RUNNER, where Tyrell asks Roy if he wants to be “…altered in some way.” and Roy answers ominously “Had in mind something a bit more radical.” The conversation ends with Roy killing Tyrell (oh, sorry… spoiler alert.)

It’s not that I think Barak is some psychopath who is plotting some terrible ploy and he’s going to sit there in the Oval office stroking a cat, watching the world burn through his monocle. But it may be that the change we need requires or facilitates power of a voltage so high, we’re stupid not to approach it gingerly.

I don’t think Obama is a saint. And although I wouldn’t call him corrupt, we’re talking about giving him a lot of power. Let me see… What was it that power did to people? Hmmm…

If we are in the midst of a revolution (and I hope we are), then we must keep our heads on our shoulders. I’m excited about what’s going on. I loved Obama’s speech. I am filled with hope right now. But it doesn’t take a genius to see the parallels between the mile-high event and the Nuremberg rallies. And although that perception is a potentially potent weapon for the opposition, to ignore it seems historically stupid.

I think we should elect this guy. I think the dangers I sense in him are worth the risk, because we can be more sure of the catastrophe that will result from the alternative.

But the country needs radical surgery, and if we don’t fear that we’re just ignorant. I’ve never had anyone slice into my chest and screw around with my heart before. But I imagine that my relationship with such a process would involve fear. I’m just guessing here.

Here’s another thing that scares me:

Barak losing the election is not the worst-case Scenario. If you want to know what it felt like when Robert Kennedy was killed, imagine an assassination now. Good god! The streets would run with blood. Or we’d all wake up and realize that we’ve had enough of this. Obviously, those are dice I’m hoping never roll. It’s hard to even contemplate.

All this being said, we cannot act out of fear. None of this changes the fact that I think the most important thing to do as an American and as a member of the human species, is elect Barak Obama. Not out of blind love, or lock-step passion. But because it’s the best chance we have right now. Don’t be deluded. This is not going to be easy. It is FAR from in the bag.

Remember, the country we live in is the one where in the last 24 hours, the choice of Governor MILF has almost completely hijacked the election news cycle.

I haven’t been speaking out on the election much because I’m not a member of any party. As such, until the nomination was final, Barak’s candidacy was someone elses problem. We are now in the general election, he’s my candidate, and it’s time to get this done.

We blew it with Gore, and on paper, and in hindsight, that was a mortal lock.

Flip-flops

Friday, August 29th, 2008

I think it was New Mexico governor Bill Richardson at Mile-high stadium yesterday who said that “John McCain may pay hundreds of dollars for his shoes, but we’ll pay for his flip-flops.” Cute. I like Bill Richardson for the most part. But I take exception to this.

What’s wrong with flip-flops?

As foot-ware, I think they are wonderful. I wear them as much as I can. Spend any time with me at all and you know this. There is an acupuncture/pressure point between your big toe and it’s neighbor (right where the thong of a flip-flop goes), the stimulation of which, engenders well-being and longevity. This is why I’m as good-natured as I am, and also why I don’t expect to ever die.

Politically, I think the demonizing of flip-flops has been detrimental to discourse, and morally grounded leadership.

When I was in LA in August, my friend Anthony was talking about how when Arnold came into office, he had all these strong opinions and ideas. He loaded up the ballot with all kinds of initiatives with the expectation of sweeping changes. They got beaten. Badly. So Arnold changed his mind. And he is now passionately pursuing things that are almost the opposite of what he was saying during the re-call election. This seems profoundly healthy. It is democracy as dialogue. It is an elected official understanding that his job is to act upon the will of the people, even when that’s not what he said he was going to do. Democrats love to decry Republicans like Schwarzenegger as ideologues. Clearly he is not.

When did we start valuing consistency and “keeping promises” over listening and adaptability? Isn’t the ability to read the lay of the land and respond, more valuable than the ability to articulate positions that will hold no matter what?

It’s fine to have a plan. Good to have a map. But a map is not the territory, and a plan is nothing but a launching pad. Often it seems like people who “stick to their guns” are like drivers who follow their GPS systems into walls, or off cliffs. This is one of many things that bothers me about any form of partisanship. Given the inherent complexity of life, your team/party/country/gender/mythology, no matter how wonderful, is not always going to be “the best”, so to claim that it is, is to set yourself up for stupidity.

I’m not a complete idiot. Of course there are consistencies that are grounded in reality. But whether the universe is primarily characterized by change or consistency is a matter of scale. I would argue that if you pull back far enough, violent, wrenching chaos is pretty characteristic of this thing we’re calling reality. So wisdom seems to dictate flexibility and articulation in our being within it.

When Barak Obama articulates his convictions about our fundamental responsibility to each other; that we are each others’ keepers, I hope he doesn’t change his mind about that. But there are plenty of things that I don’t agree with him about. There are plenty of things I wish he would go further on. I support him to the extent that I trust that he will stay awake in office, and change, listen and flip-flop when needed.

If you look at many of the worst leaders in history, their behavior features astounding levels of consistency and trustworthiness. They stick to their guns, often literally. I don’t think I need to name the obvious examples.

Abraham Lincoln (a Republican president who turns out, apparently, to be Obama’s grandfather), did not enter the white house intending to abolish slavery. He did it, when it became an expedient measure in winning the war to unify the country. I think we can argue about whether or not the union was important enough to justify a bloody war; something Lincoln was unwavering in his certainty about. But I don’t know a good argument against the abolition of slavery. And that was something Lincoln flip-flopped on.

My namesake, Trotsky, was killed because he thought the wheel of revolution should keep turning. Most revolutions turn sour because once in power the revolutionaries become inflexible, consistent, stones. Solid and certain of their positions and their hold on power.

Anne says: The result of certainty is violence.

Cause I’m a jerk, I say: Are you certain of that?

She hits me, and I realize she’s right.

I hope Barak Obama wins. I encourage us all to get out there and do whatever we can to bring this about. It’s not in the bag and I hope we don’t blow it again this time. Given the current political realities in the United States this is probably going to mean presenting him as consistent, solid, unwavering and trustworthy. But whether he’s going to be a good president is going to depend on how flexible his spine is. His facility for mental yoga.

So, again, I hope Barak Obama wins. And I hope he wears flip-flops in the white house.