Posts Tagged ‘ barack obama ’

Playground Politics for the Trump Era

We should’ve seen it coming.

The moment Senate Republicans refused to hear Judge Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court nomination—screaming “La La La” with their fingers jammed inside their ears, no doubt—our democracy transformed into the middle-aged, predominantly male version of Mean Girls.

“You can’t sit with us!”

Republicans were determined to attain ‘Queen Bee’ status no matter who got burned in their wake. Most didn’t seem to care how such actions might undermine democratic tradition, as they were merely out for revenge against President Obama. Garland’s credentials were hardly relevant—his bid floundered before it even had the chance to flourish.

But now, as Senate Republicans once again work to subvert our country’s founding principles by stealing health care from 22 million of Americas most vulnerable citizens behind closed doors, it’s clear to see that these behaviors weren’t the exception, but instead, the new rule.

Melodramatic as it may sound, Donald J. Trump’s fledgling presidency, and the contentious campaign on which it was built, exacerbates this trend toward infantile impulsivity. After all, those drafting the latest version of the health care bill essentially established an offshoot of the boys’ club we all know D.C. to be. At this point, it’s not even far fetched to imagine these 13 men congregating in some makeshift treehouse with a “No Girls Allowed” sign tacked to the door.

For modern Republicans, party “trumps” people, so to speak. Despite the fact that these elected officials were chosen to represent their constituents long before Trump moved into the neighborhood, they seem desperate to remain in the good graces of the curmudgeon-in-chief. Few have had the backbone thus far to speak out against Trump’s polarizing policies, not because they agree with his views necessarily, but because they don’t want to lose their seat at the lunch table.

Most Republicans are so unprepared to defend their actions, in fact, that they’ve actually tried (and failed) to curtail press freedoms within the halls of Congress. Let’s just say, these so-called leaders never would’ve survived my eighth grade history class. Our teacher, Mr. Finn, warned us that, if we crossed paths in the hallway outside our designated class time, we might still be subject to an on-site pop quiz. No one enjoys being caught off guard, but when your grade’s on the line, you’ve got to use any opportunity you can to excel.

Of course, we are talking about the party that used the national debate stage to argue about the implications of male hand size, so perhaps shining in the spotlight isn’t their strong suit.

But at the end of the day, the bell tolls for those who’ve compromised their dignity to appease the man who, judging by the true results of the 2016 election, wasn’t actually the most popular candidate in America. Delaying the vote on a bill that’s more reminiscent of a death sentence cannot and will not absolve this group of the guilt associated with their methods, either. Their colleagues—on both sides of the aisle—must hold them accountable for its content and its creation.

Trump himself deemed the bill “mean” in a private meeting with Senate Republicans—and he’s the Regina George of this entire mess, so that speaks volumes. Yet, even if the bill still isn’t as “kind” as he’d prefer, there’s no doubt that he’d sign it into law if it manages to pass. Like the rest of his cohorts, he’s determined to destroy Obama’s legacy by any means possible.

From climate change to Cuban relations, Trump will scribble his name on any executive order or piece of legislation that undoes Obama’s landmark achievements, even if it means compromising America’s future in the process. He’s all about spectacle, not substance. “Getting things done” means nothing if, in the end, everything’s come undone.

Maybe, if we promise to stick a gold star at the top of each document that crosses his desk, Trump will finally sign something that benefits the greater good.

 

Thanks, Obama: An Ode to the Best Bromance of Our Time

https://twitter.com/VP/status/761253705341480962 Screengrab of Joe Biden's Twitter post of obama's friendship bracelet he made him 8/5/16 Source: Joe Biden/Twitter

Source: Joe Biden/Twitter

Recently, The New York Times asked its readers to reflect upon President Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House. Motivated participants were encouraged to write letters regarding what they will remember most about President Obama’s historic role. Despite the unlikely chance of being published, I jumped at the occasion to praise our Commander in Chief.

Unfortunately, as predicted, my letter wasn’t chosen, but I can’t sit back and watch this “peaceful transition of power” unfold without sharing my thoughts on the current administration. Here’s my submission:

For many, strength can be defined by how well someone conceals his or her emotions. Crying indicates an underlying weakness. But, as President Barack Obama addressed the country after the Sandy Hook shooting, periodically pausing to wipe his eyes on national television, each tear demonstrated that true strength comes from loving your fellow man, especially during their time of need. His mouth may have been moving, but it was his heart that spoke that day.

George Washington will forever be the “Father of our Country” in the historical sense, of course, but in that moment President Obama became the father figure of our generation, for his composure and compassion pulled our entire nation through one of the darkest days since September 11.

His fatherly persona extends well beyond his comforting capabilities, however, as our pun-loving president takes pride in his “dad joke” tendencies. Personally, I’m honored to say he’s the first president I had the privilege of voting for, but I’m afraid we’ll never have another Commander in Chief who exhibits the same genuine love for humanity. He certainly embodies an innate zest for life, but his successors? Well, they are bound to be lemons.

Source: The Atlantic

Source: The Atlantic

Readers were limited to 200 words, but after eight years under the guidance of both President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, words are simultaneously abundant and absent. It’s truly impossible to deliver an adequate ‘thank you’ when you consider what these gentlemen and their families have done, and will likely continue to do, for the United States of America.

Beyond the professional and the political, Obama and Biden make their work personal. Through their efforts to ensure policies reflect a government that’s run by the people and for the people, Obama and Biden repeatedly prove that they’re with the people, too. Their love for America cannot be feigned, for it shines bright in their affinity for children and their gratitude toward our troops. But most of all, love for their country comes through in the friendship they’ve nurtured during their time in office.

BOCA RATON, FL - SEPTEMBER 28: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event at the Century Village Clubhouse on September 28, 2012 in Boca Raton, Florida. Biden continues to campaign across the country before the general election. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Source: Getty Images

While President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama taught us the importance of partnership in both marriage and parenting, Vice President Biden showed us how to smile despite immense grief. From these foundations, our two exceptional leaders forged a bond that goes far beyond the scope of past presidential partnerships. They’re more than friends—they’re brothers. Yes, the Internet loves to poke fun at their so-called bromance. (There are enough memes floating around the Web to carry us all for another four years!) But, underneath all the jokes, we can see that they made our nation better just by loving each other.

We’ve seen them laugh together and cry together. Heck, we have even seen them eat ice cream together. Nevertheless, nothing will ever compare to President Obama’s parting gesture. When Obama surprised Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, it was hard not to cry right along with them—not only because of the meaning behind the honor, but also because this ceremony served as one somber, sweet farewell to the administration overall.

(Watch the highlights of Obama’s announcement below, or watch the entire ceremony here.)

 

No administration will ever be able to replicate their devotion to the people, and their exit hurts more than any other transition because, for nearly a decade, they have been much more than the figureheads of our democracy. Through humor and honesty, Obama and Biden have become family—the father and uncle we can all depend upon when life gets rough.

Luckily for us, they aren’t simply characters on some TV show that’s been cancelled. They’re real, live human beings! Thus, while they won’t be at the center of our government anymore, they will still have the ability to empower citizens and inspire change. I’m curious to see how Obama and Biden will put their experiences to use in the coming years. I’m eager to watch First Lady Michelle Obama take her current initiatives to the next level. I’m excited to see what Malia and Sasha will accomplish as they emerge into this brave new world.

But, above all else, I’m incredibly grateful that President Obama and Vice President Biden were part of our lives, even if only for a short time. They taught us how to feel and they taught us how to fight. They taught us that love trumps hate. Despite the current state of affairs, I hope their words and actions will echo throughout the White House, Congress, and the country for decades to come.

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Source: Getty Images

Pop Culture References for Those Who Cannot Comprehend Trump’s Presidency

During the days immediately following the election, I couldn’t bring myself to watch the nightly news. If boredom struck, I’d cautiously scan Twitter, squinting as I scrolled, but nothing more. Yet, once Donald Trump began announcing his Cabinet picks, I ultimately realized that most major news outlets were also in some sort of daze. Most anchors made only brief references to each appointee’s disturbing history, completely disregarding their racist, sexist, and xenophobic views in the process.

Now, however, as Trump continues to treat this transition of power as nothing more than some makeshift white, male Miss Universe pageant, it’s clear that these media outlets are eager to normalize this parade of so-called “competitors” and gloss over the potential danger each candidate could pose to our civil liberties. Somehow, they’ve already come to accept that our new “reality” means treating the United States government like some second-rate reality program. Of course, while I’m sure Trump wishes he’d been elected to serve as the new host of America’s Next Top Model instead—more women for his tiny hands to grope!—that’s simply not the case.

But what will it take to get someone (ahem, everyone) to recognize the indisputable threat Trump poses to our country?

Last week President Obama claimed the U.S. government most closely resembles an ocean liner, not the speedboat many Republican lawmakers wish it to be. Unsurprisingly, that metaphor evolved into Titanic comparisons, which are never promising. But that’s when I discovered what might work—pop culture! If people are too dense to recognize the blatant parallels between Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler, maybe they’ll understand things better if I throw television and movie references into the mix.6d289e61_ar-302029982

For instance, there’s always that one villain on every single season of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. You know, that one person who’s not there for the right reasons? That’s Donald Trump! While the man or woman of the hour carries on blindly (a.k.a. Trump supporters and, apparently, the media, too), falling for said villain based on little more than chemistry, the other contestants in the house (a.k.a. people who have learned from the past and don’t wish to repeat it) cannot help but warn the season’s star about the villain’s hidden agenda. Each concerned contestant then proceeds to use his or her alone time with the star to express their worries, risking their own chance for happiness just so they may protect this person from potential heartbreak. (Protesters may be on to something, huh?)

However, no matter how many kindhearted contestants come forward, the star of the show always gives the villain the benefit of the doubt (just as Trump supporters keep telling critics to “give him a chance”). But, like clockwork—almost as if the show were scripted!—the villain ultimately reveals that everyone’s suspicions were valid and that they were fooling the star the entire time. They’re usually two-faced liars who say one thing, but mean another, all in the pursuit of fame. (Hmm, sounds familiar…)

e6ae3c95f0af33832c3c54d9adb8c0Movie buffs may also note that Trump has this whole Harrison Ford in What Lies Beneath vibe happening, too. [SPOILERS AHEAD!] He tries to uphold the ‘respectable man of high society’ façade in the company of his friends and colleagues, but deep down, he longs to silence those who may expose his misdeeds to the public. He’ll stop at nothing to make sure his shady dealings remain private.

But we, the people? Collectively, we’re Michelle Pfeiffer during the bathtub scene. Trump’s unexpected victory left us all immobile, much like the chemical that Ford used to temporarily paralyze Pfeiffer. None of us could speak, stunned silence spreading across the country. We were in shock, motionless, but we could still feel the terror bubbling inside. Like Pfeiffer’s character, however, we have emerged from our paralytic state and are ready to fight. We may stumble as we try to regain our footing, but we will stand together and persevere in an effort to protect the innocent and defend our rights.

Good always triumphs over evil in the end. Each bachelor or bachelorette finds love, even if only until the attention dies down, and Michelle Pfeiffer never fails to solve the mystery of her husband’s missing mistress. But we cannot expect the same fate if we neglect to acknowledge and oppose the elephant in the room. The media must take Trump to task with regard to his policies and his appointees. If he won’t condemn the racism and hatred that continues to spread in his name—and no, an arbitrary “stop it” will not suffice—then we, the people and the media, must do everything in our power to hold these groups accountable. Dozens of red flags signal an impending presidency marred by corruption and disarray.

If only more people would open their eyes to the truth… Maybe then they would’ve recognized the evil on their doorstep before inviting it inside.

 

(Images courtesy of PopSugar and Cinematic Corner)

‘Bern’ Up the Polls: Why Sanders Supporters Must Vote for Hillary Clinton

board2Imagine, if you will, an intricate—albeit, metaphorical—game of Candy Land in which each block along the path represents the progress of the American political system. After years of gameplay, someone finally pulled the Ice Cream Floats card and we forged ahead with hope in our hearts. Barack Obama became our first African-American president, renewing the fervor that defines our country’s spirit.

Now, as we stand on the doorstep of that glorious candy cottage, our feet sticky and sweet with victory among the Molasses Swamp, Hillary Clinton’s nomination represents another breakdown of the barriers perpetuated by white men since the birth of our great nation.

But alas, as with any game of chance, risks and obstacles come with the territory. Donald J. Trump, for instance? Well, he’s the human equivalent of the Crooked Old Peanut Brittle House. Many may prefer to forget he’s lurking below the dwindling stack of cards, but picking him from the pile could set our hard-fought progress back immeasurably.

However, before Clinton can effectively start to chip away at the crumbling foundation of this nutcase—I mean, nut house—she must conquer one other complication: Bernie Bros. Much like landing on the blue space that requires you to stay put until you pull another blue card, Clinton has no choice but to stand firm and hope that these passionate, stubborn supporters eventually comprehend that, to bring Sanders’ visions to light, we must look to her as our guiding star.

Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 10.44.41 AM

Bernie Sanders’ supporters have always seemed enlightened and informed, but I can’t help thinking that the ‘Bernie or Bust’ crowd hasn’t been listening at all. For many, voting for third-party candidates, or not voting at all, offers the most appeal—an ideal way to stick it to the establishment—but the only people who will pay for such obstinacy are the citizens these advocates supposedly stand behind in the first place. Not voting for Clinton ultimately equates to votes for Trump…and any Sanders supporter who’d prefer to see Trump in the White House clearly never understood Sanders’ “revolution” from the start.

One can easily deduce that Trump’s rise has fueled heightened racial and religious tensions because he serves as the mouthpiece for bigots who now know that they’re not alone in their way of thinking. Such backwards beliefs continue to run rampant throughout America, threatening to reverse decades of slow but steady advances toward justice and equality. Every word out of his mouth incites violence and anger in the hearts and minds of his most avid followers, positioning him as a bonafide danger to our national security. Countless politicians and officials have denounced his platform, citing his vitriol as fodder for inevitable disaster, yet blind supporters continue to rationalize his outbursts via borderline admissions that he’s simply not suited to fill this powerful position.

tumblr_oay4gm40Sd1qiuiebo1_540Yet while Clinton haters are also quick to recite her laundry list of transgressions, only the ignorant (and possibly mentally unstable?) can honestly believe that Trump has what it takes to guide our country. No matter your take on Benghazi or Clinton’s private email server, one cannot deny that she’s spent literal decades dedicating her life to public service. And I can’t help but wonder how voters and mainstream media would perceive said missteps if she were of the male persuasion. After all, former president Bill Clinton—our dear candidate’s husband—has managed to shirk his adulterous legacy in exchange for one of supporter-in-chief. Spectators marvel at his fascination with balloons, but fail to acknowledge the strength of the woman running the show—the woman who forgave him and repaired her marriage at a time when she could’ve easily given up. Her personal resilience and determination, right there, indicate that she will always persist when pushed to the breaking point.

Much like the public’s perception of President Obama (and every president in recent history, honestly), people assume that Hillary Clinton’s past, present, and future positions function independently. Most fail to recognize that each elected official works within the body of our government. Trump believes he can singlehandedly solve any and all problems throughout America, but true leaders understand that both successes and failures have been and always will be a team effort. Clinton will continue to command the support and respect of her most competent peers, as she walks alongside, not ahead of, them during her time in office. Most Democrats have already come together to back Clinton’s candidacy, while notable Republicans continue to condemn Trump and break party ties in support of Clinton, too. If that doesn’t make an indelible statement, I don’t know what will…

Despite all this, I completely understand how Bernie Sanders’ supporters feel because, honestly, Hillary Clinton wasn’t my first choice, either. But no candidate can guarantee that all their promises will come to fruition and no candidate can foresee the hurdles that will test their resolve. Our volatile atmosphere has left us all on edge, which is precisely why we need to come together to defeat Trump once and for all, even if that means voting for the lesser of two evils, as Stephen Colbert explains in the clip below.

 

 

I’m not saying I trust Clinton implicitly, but with so many well respected leaders—including Barack and Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, and Bernie Sanders himself—in her corner, she certainly can’t be as bad as the ‘Bernie or Bust’ crowd may think. I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and do everything in my power to ensure she earns the opportunity to prove herself over the next four years. (I’d still love to know if a man in her shoes would face this much incessant scrutiny, thought…) I recognize that I am privileged to vote for another historic candidate and that her success will inspire the next generation to chase their dreams.

For many, Hillary Clinton isn’t the candidate they want, but when faced with the alternative, we must all admit that she’s the one we need. Hopefully her promises and policies won’t ultimately leave a bad taste in our mouths for years to come.

 

(Images courtesy of Games MuseumThe Huffington Post, and Sarah Andersen)

No Speed Limit on the Information Superhighway

“Information and knowledge: two currencies that have never gone out of style.” –Mr. Wednesday, ‘American Gods’ p. 24

As a young child, reports were a nuisance. Writing something factual either required a trek to the library or an expedition into the dusty world of mygrandfather’s bookcase. There, he had an enormous collection of alphabetized encyclopedias that dated back to sometime in the1970s. Concise and convenient, these reference books supplied the content for the majority of my writing assignments up until high school, when even Encarta – a program that came free with my first Windows 95 Sony VAIO – would no longer suffice.

Now, if a child were to take one of my grandfather’s beautiful encyclopedias and cite it as a source in any level academic paper, the copyright date would immediately sound an alarm and result in said information being replaced with a more up-to-date source (because we all know how much history can change in 40 years, sure).

In a time when the “Works Cited” page was referred to as a bibliography, information wasn’t as readily available. You had to dig. It was great practice for a child like myself who always aspired to be Sherlock Holmes, Harriet the Spy, or even a less gifted Emily Eyefinger. With a constant desire for information and knowledge, much like Mr. Wednesday expresses, I would peruse my grandfather’s collection for fun, though an odd source for reading enjoyment, I’m sure. Instead, I now surf the Internet. What once took a few minutes to find as a sifted through indexes and pages now takes mere seconds to discover.

Today, our need and consumption of said information and knowledge increases at lightning speeds. Our brains have turned into the Blob – the more we consume, the greater our need to continuously consume becomes. Yet, while our brains keep growing and growing, reading and absorbing facts from anywhere possible, our heads become emptier and more hollow. Our advances in technology have made accessing information as easy as the click of a button. We have social networking sites that not only allow us to stay current with our friends’ lives, but with celebrities and the media, too. (This newfangled thing called a blog, the very format you’re reading, is just another piece of this massively expanding puzzle.) We are constantly inundated with so much information that we become overly saturated sponges laying in a puddle of information we’d love to soak up, if only we could.

The speed at which this information comes flying at us is enough to make one’s head spin. One cannot take their eyes off their computer for a moment without missing another 20 tweets posted or Suzie’s weekend plans courtesy of her Facebook status. We have gone from detectives curiously seeking knowledge, to drones that know only how to point and click their browser’s refresh button.

President Barack Obama made a similar remark during his commencement speech at Hampton University this past weekend:

“And meanwhile, you’re coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t always rank that high on the truth meter. And with iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations — none of which I know how to work — information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation. So all of this is not only putting pressure on you; it’s putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy.”

Listen to his entire speech below:

Mr. Gaiman’s writing is beyond correct – information and knowledge will always remain a desire. But, written in 2001, this readily accessible information was merely playing a supporting character that would ultimately lead to a starring role in our daily lives. Now, we gorge ourselves to the point of being obese with information. Like pie-eating contestants, we shovel in what’s put in front of our faces, but much becomes mutilated, soiling everything and creating a mess. To make life less hectic and distracting, perhaps we should simply refer back to our good table manners. Pick up your knife and fork and cut away only those chunks of information you deem desirable. The rest is simply a garnish – nice to look at but never meant to be ingested.

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