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July 2010

The Presidents View on The View

By Brian



Yesterday President Obama made history.  No he didn’t solve the immigration problem or eliminate the national debt.  He didn’t bring peace to the Middle East or teach Sarah Palin the difference between Iran and Iraq.  Yesterday President Obama appeared on The View.  Ok, this may not be history on the level of the falling of the Berlin Wall, but none the less this was the first time that a sitting president has appeared on a daytime talk show.  I believe he was supposed to appear on Jerry Springer but they could not find anyone to claim that the president was their baby-daddy.  This obviously was a big honor for the ladies of The View and I am sure that the fact that Barbra Walters is the producer and a co-host was one of the reasons that the President chose this show over Kathy Lee and Hoda.  Of course being the type of show that it is I didn’t expect the questions to be as hard hitting as Meet the Press, but the ladies held there own.  Perhaps the most interesting part of the show was watching Elisabeth Hasselbeck, who thinks that Fox news really is “Fair and Balanced”, act perfectly giddy as President Obama strolled out onto the stage. (Didn’t she loose on Survivor?  How exactly do you make that transition from Survivor looser to talk show host along side Barbra Walters?  If losing is the requirement to success then I should be co-host of the Tonight Show by now.)  Watching Hasselbeck was like watching Sasha and Malia at a Justin Bieber concert. I was just waiting for her to yell out, “I love you Mr. President, Oh and by the way what about the Death Panels!” or ask him to produce his birth certificate.  Much to my disappointment, neither of those things happened.  She did ask a question, very respectfully, about “saved jobs”, or jobs that were not lost due to the Stimulus Package, that sounded like it was lifted straight from the transcripts of a Sean Hannity show, but as the President pointed out, he was sure that any person who’s job was saved due to the Stimulus Package was not upset about his administration talking about “Saved Jobs”. (BooYa Hasselbeck!)  By the way, before the President goes to bed each night do you think he asks Michelle if she would like to see his stimulus package?
It’s no secret that I am a supporter of President Obama but that does not mean I think he can do no wrong.  I believe that pouring more money and troops into Afghanistan is a mistake and we need to get out as soon as possible.  The money we are spending there could be much better spent rebuilding our own infrastructure, investing in clean energy, supporting our schools, and so on. But I believe that President Obama has made two huge mistakes in his presidency.  First, the President needs to realize that the Republicans have not, are not, and never will be on his side.  I fully blame the President for the Health Care debate going as long as it did.  He came into office promising change and fully knowing that the change he had in mind was the complete opposite of what the GOP would ever support.  I can guarantee you that if John McCain had won he would not be spending any time trying to win over the Democrats.  This is a time when there is a Democratic majority in the House and Senate. Mr. President, you pretty much can pass any bill you want to.  Stop trying to make friends.  The second mistake the President is making is that he thinks the campaign is over.  He said on The View that there is a time for campaigning and a time for governing and now is the time to govern.  To that I say you are wrong Mr. President.  In fact they go hand in hand.  This answer was in response to Joy Behar’s question regarding the 27/7 GOP media machine known as Fox News and how they seem to be "hijacking the narrative" with the constant negative onslaught that the right wing media is constantly putting out there.  She asked, "Where on your side is the narrative, where is your attack dog to tell the American people, listen this is what we did?" 
Whether or not the right wing media will have an effect on the Presidents re-election is to be seen.  In politics a lot can change quickly and today’s polls don’t mean diddly squat when it comes to 2012.  If the President has proved one thing it is that he is a master campaigner.  He is unshakable in debates and rivals Ronald Regan is speech making. But what the President does not seem to understand is that the election, the campaign is never over and this is what the Republicans have figured out.  Just like American Idol, this is a popularity contest and if the health care debate proved one thing, it showed that the voice of the people matter and not just at election time.  We can vote at any time on any issue simply by calling our congress person, signing petitions, organizing marches and so on.  The reality is politicians do listen to the people that elect them because they want to get re-elected and people are influenced by what they read and hear in the media.  And with a 24/7 media machine like FOX News constantly putting down the President and his initiatives, spreading lies, half-truths, and mis-information, the people will be influenced to believe this negative rhetoric and when they do contact there congress person, sign petitions, organize marches and so on, they may influence there congress person to vote against a bill that actually could be a very positive thing for our country.  Yes, there are progressive talk radio stations out there and television programs like The Rachel Maddow Show, or Countdown with Keith Olbermann, or even The Ed Show on MSNBC, but there is nothing like an entire network, like FOX News, that is singularly devoted to refuting every positive thing that the President tries to accomplish.  The President needs to call out the lies that FOX news spreads just like he did when John McCain and Sarah Palin spread lies during the campaign.  Public opinion may not matter a whole lot right now when it comes to the election in 2012 but it does matter when it comes to individual issues.  The reality that the President does not seem to understand is that when he appears on talk shows like The View or does interviews on the nightly news his numbers go up, and when his numbers go up people support his issues even more.  This is a popularity contest and the person with the least amount of votes must leave the island, the head of the losing team gets fired, and only the winner becomes the next American Idol. The bottom line is that the President is likeable, he’s engaging, he’s tall, he’s good looking, and unlike George Bush he can talk very eloquently without a script.  Even Elizabeth Hasselbeck admitted the next day on The View that after his appearance she thinks she has a little crush on the President. In fact its reported that on her View notebook she doodled in pink marker, “I “heart” Barack”, and “Elizabeth Obama”. The only negative comment that I have heard about so far regarding President Obama’s appearance on The View has come from, master orator, and friend to Tea Baggers everywhere, Sarah Palin.  She said that the President has no time to visit the U.S-Mexican boarder, but does have time to be on a daytime talk show. Then she mentioned that she will be visiting the border in the near future, finally realizing that she can’t see Mexico from her front porch.


Let's Talk About Sex, Montana


I remember when I was in grade school, sex education was taught to us in fifth grade.  I believe that they spent about two hours on it and most of it consisted of badly animated movies of a very happy sperm swimming upstream to meet up with an equally happy egg only to join together and well you know what happens next.  The egg wakes up with a bad hangover only to look at the smiley sperm lying naked next to her and wonders how she got there and why her panties are around his neck.  Seriously, that is all we got.  There was no mention of love or marriage, foreplay or how the sperm got in there in the first place, and certainly no mention of any of the other creative ways that two people could express there undying lust for each other, although looking back on it, that would have been awesome!  But I was not that lucky, at least not as lucky as the fifth grade class that my oh so cute, blond and perky, twenty something wife taught during the first year of our marriage.  It was her first year teaching science to fourth and fifth graders and she was assigned the task of teaching the fifth graders sex ed.  The first thing I thought to my self was somewhere there is a group of fifth grade boys who can’t wait to get to science class!  Whereas I got two hours of “instruction” in this subject, her students received two weeks.  By the time she was done, each one of her students could name each position of the Kama Sutra and had memorized five pickup lines.  But seriously, her curriculum was very appropriate for the age of the students.  The parents had the option of having their child opt out of those lessons, and my wife pulled it off with the grace, style and professionalism that I knew that she was fully capable of.
Now let’s fast forward to today, and a sleepy little town called Helena, Montana.  Actually Helena, the capital of Montana, is not that little with a population of about 29,500 and home to such notables as Gary Cooper, the A-Teams Dirk Benedict, Liz Claiborne, and L. Ron Hubbard the founder of Scientology.  Helena is the type of place where you can stroll down its quiet streets that have retained the feel of the old west, and with a murder rate of zero for 2007 and 2008, feel safe while you admire the 18th century, gold rush architecture.  It is also a place that has turned the subject of sex education upside down and has created a national uproar that had not been seen since sex education was first introduced to our educational system in the 1970’s.  The Helena school board has put forth a proposition that would teach school children, as young as kindergarten, sex education using anatomical terms such as penis, vagina, breast, nipples, testicles, scrotum and uterus.  It would teach first graders about same-sex relationships, and would teach fifth graders that intercourse can not only be done vaginally, but also anally and orally.  That’s right.  It teaches fifth graders about blow jobs. Here is an actual excerpt from the proposal.  “Understand that sexual intercourse includes but is not limited to vaginal, oral, or anal penetration; using the penis, fingers, tongue or objects.” Objects?  What, are they going to bring in vibrators and dildos?  It’s interesting, talking to a ten year old on the internet about blow jobs is called a felony, but at school in Helena it’s called standard course work.  I mean really, at ten years old most girls don’t even like boys yet.  Are they really ready to be told that they can be used as a human popsicle?  According to one school board member they even want to teach high school kids about erotic art and anxiety about sexual performance.  Thank g-d they did not have this curriculum in the 1950’s or Woody Allen may not have made a single film.
But having actually read the proposal (Helena Proposal) I have to say that I applaud them for there honest, well meaning intentions.  This is a crazy time that we live in where girls from as early as 12 years old up think that giving a blow job to a boy is less intimate then having intercourse, where sexting, or the sending of sexual pictures of ones self via a text message to a friend, is common place, and where hard core sexual content is readily available on the internet for anyone of any age to access.  The sexual pressures that kids experience today is light years beyond what we ever had to deal with as kids and the truth is, the way sexual education is taught in this country probably does need to be re-examined.  For example, included in the proposal from the Helena Public School System are proposed guidelines on talking to students about sexual predators, when it is alright for an adult to touch certain private parts and when it is not, and who to talk to if an adult does touch them in a way that the child does not feel is right. But also included in the proposal is the discussion of family and who can be parents, including same-sex relationships.  While I am 100 percent in favor of same-sex couples right to marry and raise children I think that the Helena Board of Education is missing what the real issue is that needs to be addressed.  Same-sex marriage is really part of a larger picture that should be dealt with by our educational system.  What needs to be taught to our children is the concept of tolerance, the concept of acceptance, the concept that it is alright for people to be different then us or our peer groups and that there are many kinds of people and families in this world and it is not our place to place judgment on an other person or group.  What needs to be taught is that discrimination of any kind is not only morally wrong but also legally wrong whether it is racial, sexual, or whatever, and to let that discussion be open to what ever questions our children may have. 
Where I think the Helena Board of Education’s intentions were completely misguided was with students from forth grade down.  Quite simply, at that age it is not appropriate for the public school system to discuss in detail the anatomical names of a persons private parts. Children of that age range are not mature enough to take this discussion seriously, and at this age the discussion of private parts should be between the child and the parents.  There are endless resources on the internet and at bookstores for parents on how to address this discussion with there kids if they don’t know how or are nervous about talking about it with their kids.  In addition, it is not the place of our educational system to teach first graders about homosexuality as proposed by the Helena Board of Education.  This again is a subject that should be up to the child’s parents on how and if they want to address this with their child. 
After reading what was proposed by the Helena Board of Education I have trouble believing that they truly thought that this would just sail right through with no controversy.  I was waiting for someone to yell out April fools while reading this but that simply did not happen.  It is clear that a great deal of time and thought went into putting this proposal together and minus some of the highly controversial items that the press has reported on, it is a very impressive and a quite comprehensive plan that many educational systems around our country could draw from. 
In writing this proposal I think its authors were acknowledging the fact that our world has changed and many of our young people are simply growing up with out certain fundamental skills and information that unfortunately they are not getting from their parents or their peer groups.  To many young people are getting pregnant way before they are ready and others have no idea what to do or where to go when sexually abused.  The internet has become a virtual playground for sexual predators and both children and parents are ill equipped to deal with it.  Children are bombarded with sexual images and peer pressures that they simply are not prepared for.  Most sexual education programs were created way before the evolution of Facebook or MySpace, texting or the iPhone, and just as technology has evolved, how we teach sex ed must evolve as well.  But ultimately it is the parents not the schools who are responsible for what kind of adults their children turn out to be.  Maybe it’s not just the children who need sex ed.



Marriage, That's So Gay!

I’d like you to ask yourself some questions, some real tough questions, and I‘d like you to be brutally honest with yourself.  After all, you are the only one who will know the answers.  Let’s get started.  First, how stressful is your marriage?  What percentage of the time do you spend fighting, bickering, and arguing, or what ever you want to call it?  And how are you as a parent?  Be honest.  What are your short comings as a parent?  Have you really done the best you can?  Have you given your kids all the love, patience and understanding that you are capable of?  Is there anything that you can see your children looking back at, twenty years from now, that you did or said, that they may say to themselves, during some therapy session, “My parents really messed me up with that one.”  Oh and by the way, if you can’t think of anything, believe me, there’s something.  And finally, what has contributed more to the success or failure of your family, the fact that you have a “traditional marriage”, and by that I mean a man married to a woman, or the decisions that you made as a parent and their effect on your children?  I don’t know what your answers are and frankly, I don’t care.  But what I do know is this.  How you parent has a much larger impact on the type of individual your child turns out to be then if your family is “traditional” or not. I have seen many a heterosexual married couple mess up there kids beyond belief.  I have seen kids scarred by divorce, had there lives ruined by physical and sexual abuse.  I have seen kids who all they want is time from mom and dad but instead are told that they are too busy, kids who crave some attention then act out because they simply can’t get it.  I have seen kids who turn to drugs, alcohol, who get pregnant at fourteen years old.  I have seen kids who whether they know it or not just want a loving family to be there for them. And I don’t care if you are gay, straight or bi, you all have an equal opportunity to mess up your kids lives.
According to traditional Christian belief, a marriage is made up of a man and woman who take certain vows and then are “married” in the eyes of g-d.  Add kids to this formula and supposedly you have a family.  And according to traditional Christian belief this is final and absolute.  There is no other form of marriage, or family.  It is precisely this final and absolute Christian definition of marriage that has been challenged in the last few years. 
If you look up the word “family” on the internet you find the following definitions:
1.  A social unit living together.
2.  Primary social group, parents and children.
3.  A group of people or animals affiliated by close relationship, affinity or co-residence.
But my favorite definition that I found is this, “a group of people held together by bonds of love and affection.”  If you notice, there is one commonality between all of these definitions.  That is no mention of parents having to be a man and woman.  These definitions open up the possibilities for many types of families to exist including families that have two parents of the same sex.  The fact is same-sex couples have as much rights to get married and to be parents as any other people in this world do.  Recently I happen to be flipping the channels and came across a documentary made by Rosie O’Donnell, about the cruise that she and her partner at the time sponsored for families with gay and lesbian parents called “All Aboard! Rosie’s Family Cruise.”  I had heard about this movie and remembered when she was putting this together.  There had been many cruises before this one for gays and lesbians, but never specifically for those with children.  This one was meant to make a statement, a statement about what is a family, a statement about who is acceptable to marry.  I watched this movie and saw something amazing, I saw families.  I saw unbelievable, loving, caring families.  I saw parents who cared and nurtured their children in such a loving way that I wished all parents could be like this to their kids, and who like any other parent should, gave them as much of themselves as they knew how.  I saw parents who respected there children and didn’t shield them from the world but instead kept there eyes wide open so that they could grow and understand, and learn to overcome what ever obstacles may come in there way.  I saw parents, loving wonderful parents who simply wanted the same thing that all of us want, to raise there kids to be the best they can be, and the right to commit to each other without the law saying you can’t.
Currently only six states allow same-sex marriages, while thirty-six states have prohibitions on the books banning same-sex marriage.  Yet every state will allow a convicted rapist, murderer, or child molester to get married, and do so while they are still in prison. But for some reason, in the eyes of the law, a same-sex couple has less rights then convicted criminals.  We would not be the first country to legalize same-sex marriage.  Currently it is legal in Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Holland, Belgium, South Africa, and Canada. Where exactly is the argument against same-sex marriage?  In every case the argument is rooted in religion.  The law may not word it in such a way, but ask any one who supports a ban against same-sex marriage and they will refer to the bible as there support and rational.  The problem with this though is simple.  In this country we have laws that separate church and state.  Our laws are not based on the teachings of Jesus, Moses, or Mohammad, or any other religion for that matter.  In addition, we also have laws against discrimination, and to ban same-sex couples from getting married is nothing but that, discrimination.  We have overcome so much in this country.  We forget that at one time women did not have the right to vote.  African Americans had separate schools, drinking fountains, places on the bus.  Buildings were not required to be handicap accessible.  But that has all changed, we have all changed, this country has changed.  Shortly we will see the ban barring gays from openly serving in the military change as well.  And eventually “a group of people held together by bonds of love and affection” will be the only thing that will matter when it comes to marriage. This too will change. 


Guitars Don’t Kill People, People Kill People


With this Fourth of July weekend coming up I think it’s time once again to celebrate the United States continued dominance through out the world, to remind ourselves that we are number one, and to never forget that the American dream lives in all of us!  Not only in this country do we have a constitution that promises us life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but also a promise of the right to keep and bear arms, the right to have the highest murder rate, involving guns, of all non-third world, higher income nations, a rate that is five times higher than Canada, and ten to forty-four times higher than other high income countries around the world.  According to the Brady Campaign, “in one year, guns murdered 17 people in Finland, 35 in Australia, 39 in England and Wales, 60 in Spain, 194 in Germany, 200 in Canada, and 9,484 in the United States.”  We’re number one!  Woo Hoo!  We should be so proud of our selves.  To anyone who says, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” I say DUH!  A gun lying on the ground with no one touching it is pretty harmless.  What a stupid argument.  I could say the same thing about a guitar string, but if I pick it up and wrap it around someone’s throat and pull it with all my strength, I could probably chop there head off, except that people actually use guns to kill other people, they rarely use guitar strings! 
The fact is this.  There is a direct correlation between the number of guns owned per capita, to the number of deaths by firearm per capita. And guess who is number one on both lists, the United States.  For example, the United Kingdom with only 56 guns per 1000 people had only 39 gun related deaths for the entire year.  Canada with 315 guns per 1000 people had only 200 gun related deaths for the entire year.  But the United States with a staggering 900 guns per 1000 people had 9,484 gun related deaths.  You can make any argument you want but these are the numbers and the numbers tell the story.  Listen, I’m not saying that people shouldn’t have guns.  If you hunt, you should have the right to own a gun.  I have no desire to deny those who like to shoot wild game for sport their right to do so.  Guns for sport are completely legitimate, but nobody needs a 9mm Glock, a sawed off shot gun, or a semi-automatic rifle to shoot deer, unless of course the deer learn to shoot back.  Hand guns are made for one reason and one reason only, to kill other people.  No one brings a hand gun duck hunting.  And I’ve heard the argument that if you take away the right for people to own guns, then the only people with guns will be the criminals.  To that I say OK.  Because you see, you have to start somewhere.  Too many people in this country are being killed by guns in relation to the rest of the world.  We’ll get to the criminals next.  The bottom line is this, any firearm that is not considered a hunting class firearm should be illegal for any person in any state to possess with the exception of law enforcement and those in certain security related positions.  And for those who require a firearm for there job, other than law enforcement, they should be required to pass a background check, a psychological evaluation, and have at least a two week waiting period from the time they apply for their firearm to the time they receive it.  In addition, and most importantly, we must pass legislation to close what is known as The Gun Show Loophole.
If you are not familiar with the gun show loophole, it is a fatal flaw in our system that in thirty-three states allows any person, regardless of their criminal or mental background, to purchase a gun of any kind from a private seller with no questions asked.  That means a person standing trial for murder could purchase a gun.  A person on the suspected-terrorist list, could purchase a gun.  A person with a documented history of dangerous mental illness could purchase a gun and nothing could stop them and it would all be considered perfectly legal according to our current laws.  There are gun shows every weekend in thirty-three states that allow anyone to walk in and buy as many guns as they can afford to with out even so much as an ID check.  No records are kept of these gun sales, who the guns go to, or where they end up. The fact that this is legal in the United States, a country that has seen so many fatal school shootings, so many senseless gun related murders, is beyond comprehension.  It is unbelievable to me that something that is so easily preventable is not being prevented.  How many more Columbines have to happen for this loop hole to be closed?  The fact is the gun lobby, that spends millions of dollars to keep gun-control legislation from being passed, has blood on there hands.  The NRA who refuses to support simple background checks for those who purchase a gun at a gun show has blood on their hands.  And the fact is criminals don’t have to be purchasing there guns in back alleys or behind closed doors. The private sellers at the thousands of gun shows across the country will be happy to sell to anyone who can breathe anything they want, with no questions asked, as long as they have cash.  The fact that legislation outlawing this practice at gun shows has not been passed is unconscionable.  I’m sure this is exactly what our founding fathers had in mind when they wrote in the second amendment, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”  Ooooo, Ahhhh!  Was that a firework or did someone just fire a Glock?  Happy Birthday America.