The Best of Everything – 2011

Here is my “top 10” list of the best of 2011:

Best non-fiction book: A Singular Woman by Janny Scott.  This book did not try to paint Stanley Ann Dunham a particular way.  It was simply the true story of a strong woman, who married a Kenyan and had a son named Barack Obama.  Stanley later married an Indonesian, Lolo Soetoro and they had a daughter named Maya Soetoro.

A Singular Woman is about a woman who did not conform to the norms of her time.  Stanley Ann Dunham went on to obtain her masters and PhD. in anthropology.

New York Times writer Janny Scott researched her topic meticulously and it shows on every page.  I enjoyed the book immensely.

Best Politician:  Without a doubt in my mind I have to say Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA)  Congressman Frank will be retiring after sixteen terms in office.   Known for his quips, quick responses and snarky comments over the last three decades, Congressman Barney Frank announced recently that he would not run for re-election in 2012.

  • I’m used to being in the minority. I’m a left-handed gay Jew. I’ve never felt, automatically, a member of any majority. 
  • They appear to have become so attached to their outrage that they are even more outraged that they won’t be able to be outraged anymore. 
  • Gay people have a different role than other minority groups. … Very few black kids have ever had to worry about telling their parents that they were black.

Best Pop Song of 2011:  Now I know that there are probably dozens of songs out there that folks will find better than Beyonce’s Love on Top but for me, that was the best song in 2011.  The funny thing is that I happened to be channel surfing and saw Beyonce performing that song on the Video Music Awards a few months ago.  I was blown away by the song and then by her pregnancy announcement at the end of the song.

President Obama’s Best Accomplishment of 2011:  Undoubtedly it has to be the POTUS ordering The Navy Seals to take out Osama Bin Laden.  It doesn’t eradicate ten years of an unjust war in Iraq, but it was a huge deal.

Best Motion Picture of 2011:  I can only go by what I’ve seen in 2011 and my pick is Limitless.  Bradley Cooper is phenomenal playing  a down and out computer genius who makes it big on Wall Street but not on his own volition.   Robert DiNiro has a small but significant role in the movie as well and suffice it to say, he’s excellent.

Best Fall Season 2011 Television Show:  Homeland which stars Clair Danes (who gives an outstanding performance as a bi-polar CIA Analyst) and British actor Damian Lewis who has actually mastered his American accent for his role as a soldier who was missing in Afghanistan for eight years and returns home to his wife and kids, a different man.   I hear this is one of the President’s favorite shows.  I can see why.  Check it out on Video on Demand, it’ll be worth it.

Best MSNBC Anchor of 2011:  I have to say, hands down it’s Rachel Maddow who anchors The Rachel Maddow Show  nightly on MSNBC at 9:00 pm est.   Rachel’s show is provocative, funny, informative and well researched.  I used to listen to Rachel on the now defunct Air America Radio.  The best thing about Rachel Maddow’s show is her deliberate presentation of an issue.  Needless to say, Rachel breaks down the most complex political news to it’s lowest common denominator so that all of her viewers will go away understanding exactly what a particular issue is really about.  Oh, by the way, she has a Doctorate  in political science.  Rachel Maddow is by far, MSNBC’s best asset.

Best Weekly Periodical of 2011:  Time Magazine, for recognizing that the Person of the Year actually turned out to be tens of thousands of  people from protests movements across the globe.  Time Magazine‘s smart choice of naming The Protester as person of the year gives them my nod for Best Weekly Periodical, besides, I subscribe to Time and look forward to each issue for their fine reporting on global issues.

Best Viral Video on You Tube in 2011:  

Best People I’ve Interacted with in 2011:  The readers and commenters of this blog.


U.S. Politics

Juan Williams: This is Not the Way to Treat Any President of the United States (Video)

Birther Dialogue – Baracryphal – 1/20/09

Birther: “Oh why won’t Barack Obama release his birth certificate? If only he did that simple little thing, we could put this whole matter to rest. And it would only cost him ten dollars.”

Rational Person (RP): “Didn’t you see the birth certificate he posted online?”

Birther: “Anyone could have Photoshopped that. In fact, I saw an anonymous guy on the internet claim that he could prove it was faked. He’s an expert in ‘instructional media.'”

RP: “You do realize that ‘instructional media’ doesn’t have anything to do with document analysis, right?”

Birther: “Regardless, it’s still fake. If Obama truly had nothing to hide, he’d release his long-form birth certificate, not this computer printout.”

RP: “How should he release it? If he simply posted a scan online, wouldn’t you accuse it of being faked?”

Birther: “Oh, certainly. Anything he produces shouldn’t be trusted unless it’s reviewed by a competent authority, like a judge.”

RP: “So if Obama obtained his long-form birth certificate, published it, had a judge review it, and then the judge announced that it was legit and he was born in Hawaii, that would be enough? You’d give up arguing that his election is illegitimate, stop filing lawsuits, and concede that he’s eligible to be President?”

Birther: “Hardly. For all we know, Obama’s parents could have lied to Hawaiian officials, and claimed he was born in Hawaii, when he was actually born in Kenya. Or Canada. For all we know, Hawaiian officials themselves might be in on the cover-up.”

RP: “What if it can be proven beyond a doubt that the birth certificate is real and accurate, and that he was born in Hawaii. Let’s say there’s a video of John F. Kennedy himself playing midwife to Ann Dunham. Would that settle the matter?”

Birther: “It’d settle the matter of where he was born. But that doesn’t mean he’s a natural-born citizen and eligible to be President.”

RP: “Why?”

Birther: “Because before he was born, his mother married a British citizen. That means she gave up her American citizenship even before he was born. And Obama can’t be a natural-born citizen if neither of his parents were American citizens.”

RP: “So you’re begging Obama to release his birth certificate, even though you admit it won’t actually stop your complaints.”

Birther: “That’s right.”

RP: “Well, what if I can show you that American citizens don’t give up their American citizenship when they marry foreigners? Will that put this to rest?”

Birther: “Oh, no. Even if I accepted that he was born in Hawaii, and that his mother was still an American citizen, his father was still a Kenyan and British citizen, and that means Obama inherited dual citizenship and thus wasn’t a natural-born citizen. So he can’t be President.”

RP: “I see. For the sake of argument, then, let’s say that I could show you that there’s no requirement that a natural-born citizen be born of two U.S. citizens. Would that satisfy you?”

Birther: “Sorry, but no. Even if the birth certificate proves he was born in Hawaii, and he could show that his mother was a U.S. citizen when he was born, and that his father’s citizenship didn’t disqualify him, there’s still the matter of Indonesia.”

RP: “What does Indonesia have to do with anything?”

Birther: “When Obama’s mother married Lolo Soetoro, she gave up her U.S. citizenship, and by proxy, Obama’s U.S. citizenship. So he can’t be President.”

RP: “No, it doesn’t work that way. Didn’t we already cover this with her first marriage?”

Birther: “It doesn’t matter. Even if her marriage didn’t invalidate his citizenship, when Obama was adopted by Lolo Soetoro, he ceased to be a U.S. natural-born citizen. So he can’t be President.”

RP: “A minor child can’t surrender his U.S. citizenship that way. Besides, there’s no evidence that he was adopted in the first place.”

Birther: “Even if that’s the case, he’s still not in the clear. Because when he traveled to Pakistan in 1981 on his Indonesian passport, he gave up his U.S. citizenship.”

RP: “Apart from the fact that that wouldn’t have sacrificed his citizenship, do you actually have any direct evidence that he in fact did use an Indonesian passport?”

Birther: “Not direct evidence. But American passport holders weren’t allowed into Pakistan in 1981.”

RP: “Do you have any evidence that that is actually true about travel to Pakistan in 1981?”

Birther: “No.”

RP: “I see. OK, if you put aside the passport, would you concede that he’s eligible to be President?”

Birther: “Still no. When Obama was adopted, his name was legally changed to ‘Barry Soetoro.’ There’s no proof he ever changed his name back, but he ran for President as ‘Barack Obama.’ And that violates election law. I will never accept his Presidency until I see the documentation where he changed his name back to Obama.”

RP: “That’s impossible. How can he possibly produce that documentation, when he never changed his name away from Obama in the first place? What proof is there that he was ever legally adopted or changed his name? And even if he was adopted, what possible reason would there be to legally change his first name to a nickname?”

Birther: “A school application in Indonesia says his last name was ‘Soetoro.’ They take those applications very seriously in Indonesia, so this is solid legal proof that he was adopted and had a name change.”

RP: “And the fact that the same application says he was born in Hawaii?”

Birther: “That was a mistake.”

RP: “OK, so to recap, you wanted Obama to release a birth certificate, but when he did, you accused it of being a forgery? Right?”

Birther: “Right.”

RP: “And you say that if he simply shared his long-form birth certificate with the public, that could be forged too? Right?”

Birther: “Right.”

RP: “So you want him to release his long-form birth certificate and to have that birth certificate reviewed by a judge, to satisfy his critics and answer the questions they’re asking? Right?”

Birther: “Right.”

RP: “And if the judge affirms that the birth certificate is legitimate and it says his place of birth was Hawaii, you say it might be falsified, right?”

Birther: “Right.”

RP: “And even if he proves he was born in Hawaii, you claim he’s still not a natural-born citizen because of his mother’s first marriage, right?”

Birther: “Right.”

RP: “And if he then proves that the marriage isn’t an issue, you claim he’s still not a natural-born citizen because of his father’s citizenship, right?”

Birther: “Right.”

RP: “And if he then proves that his father’s citizenship isn’t an issue, you claim he’s still not a natural-born citizen because of his mother’s second marriage, right?”

Birther: “Right.”

RP: “And if he then proves that his mother’s second marriage isn’t an issue, you claim he’s still not a natural-born citizen because of his supposed adoption, right?”

Birther: “Right.”

RP: “And if he then proves that he didn’t give up his citizenship via adoption, you claim that he’s still not a natural-born citizen because of his 1981 travel to Pakistan, right?”

Birther: “Right.”

RP: “And if he then proves that he didn’t give up his citizenship via passport, and even when you run out of citizenship arguments completely, you then claim his election is illegitimate because his legal surname is Soetoro, right?”

Birther: “Right.”

RP: “So you want to know why Obama won’t take the simple measure of releasing his birth certificate, when you already have at least eight consecutive fall-back arguments you’ll make if he does so, whereby you’ll continue to insist that he’s ineligible for the Presidency even after he proves that he was born in Hawaii?”

Birther: “Right.”

RP: “Y’know, if I were Obama, I think I’d save my ten dollars too.”

Obama Conspiracies · Obama Derangement Syndrome · Obama Family · Obama v GOP

The New York Times profile of Obama’s mom: 6 takeaways

What other president has gone through such scrutiny?  What other president has had his family raked through the coals, demonized, villified and slandered, like President Barack Obama’s family, especially his mom?

For example: They claim she was raped.  They claim she was in Kenya when Obama was born.  They claimed that Frank Marshall Davis or Malcom X was Obama’s true father.  Many on the right also called her a commie.

The following takeaway from the New York Times profile of Stanley Dunham Sotero is quite benign in comparison to the short list of attacks listed above

All I can say is that President Barack Obama is a very strong man to have to listen to or read the trash written about him and his family.  When his presidency is finaly over in 2016, I can’t wait for the book about his campaigns and his White House Years.

The Week

1. Obama wanted to be prime minister… of Indonesia
Dunham believed her son was “unusually gifted,” and would boast about his abilities to friends, says Scott. She would even tell friends and acquaintances that little Barry, not even 10 years old, could someday be president of the United States. The boy himself had similarly lofty aspirations, but when asked by his stepfather what he wanted to be when he grew up, Barry said, “Oh, prime minister.” Apparently, “at that point in his childhood, Obama assumed his stay in Indonesia was permanent and envisioned his future there,” says Dan Amira at New York. But that anecdote is sure to “bring a wry smile to the faces of ‘birthers,'” says David Gardner in the Daily Mail.

2. Obama shrugged off racism
Barry was subjected to teasing about his skin color, from both adults and children. One day, as he ran ahead of his mother and a group of friends, Indonesian kids began to throw rocks and shout racial epithets at him, Scott says. But Barry “seemed unfazed,” and his mother did not react. When a friend offered to step in, Dunham declined. “No, he’s O.K.,” she said. “He’s used to it.”

3. The president may have been spanked as a child
Dunham spoke about disciplining young Barry, “including spanking him for things where he richly deserved a spanking,” according to a colleague quoted by Scott. A man who says he worked as a houseboy for Dunham and her husband in the 1970s also says that if Obama did not finish his homework, his mother “would call him into his room and would spank him with his father’s military belt.” Obama denies that such spankings took place.

4. Dunham had a real independent streak
Dunham “had strong opinions — and rarely softened them to please others.” When her husband took a job that required “socializing with oil-company executives and their wives,” Dunham balked at country-clubbing — and told friends that the middle-aged Americans she was supposed to be chummy with droned on about silly things. Her husband, she complained to a friend, “was becoming more American all the time.” At the same time, her husband’s success meant that Dunham had a staff of domestic servants that freed her from housework and allowed her to pursue her own interests.

5. Her marriage may have had an episode of violence
In one instance, when Dunham returned home late from work, her husband, Lolo Soetoro, got upset, according to a servant, and an argument ensued. Afterward, the servant recalls that Dunham “appeared in the house with a towel pressed to her face and blood running from her nose.” But no one else “suggested there was ever violence between Ann and Lolo, a man many people described as patient and sweet-tempered.”

6. Obama remembers her as strong… but disorganized
The president offered Scott some “surprisingly candid reflections on his mother’s parenting flaws,” says Kevin Spak at Newser. Dunham “was a very strong person in her own way,” the president says. But “she was not a well-organized person. And that disorganization, you know, spilled over. Had it not been for my grandparents, I think, providing some sort of safety net financially, being able to take me and my sister on … I think my mother would have had to make some different decisions.”

President Obama

Obama makes long-awaited return to Indonesia

Undoubtedly the naysayers and birthers will have something to say about the President’s trip to Indonesia…

The Associated Press

After two years of waiting, Indonesians are finally getting the chance to welcome back their adopted son. But the euphoria that swept the predominantly Muslim country after Barack Obama’s election victory has been replaced by a dose of reality.

Few here now believe he will change American policies in the Middle East or improve U.S. relations with the Muslim world. And hopes that the two countries would march forward together on the world stage have been cast aside.

Still, Indonesians gathered around television sets all over the country — in their houses, coffee shops and office buildings — and watched as he touched down.

“We all stopped what we were doing,” said Tito, who works at the front desk at the Novotel Hotel in Balikpapan, a city on Borneo island. “Staff, guests … It’s just so amazing that he grew up here, has family here, and is now the U.S. president.”

While Indonesians take tremendous pride in having partially raised the American president, who spent four childhood years in the country, the plans for his long-anticipated homecoming Tuesday have been accompanied by a sadness that he is not fully theirs.

He’s already canceled two planned trips and is due to stay for just 24 hours. Shortly after he touched down his spokesman said the trip may be even further shortened because of concerns about the ash of a volcano hundreds of miles (kilometers) away.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono presented a line of ministers to Obama, who greeted them in Indonesian.

At a news conference after arriving, Obama referenced the intense anticipation surrounding the homecoming.

“Obviously much has been made of the fact that this marks my return to where I lived as a young boy, I will tell you though that I barely recognized it as I was driving down the streets,” he said to laughter. “The only thing that was there when I first moved to Jakarta was Serena (a shopping mall). Now it’s one of the shorter buildings on the road.”

He was later to tour the country’s largest mosque and make a speech that will give him another opportunity to convince Muslims that the U.S. is not waging a war on Islam, but on terrorism, and needs the help of moderates to fight it.

That will give him no time to visit his old neighborhood in the sprawling overcrowded capital — a jumble of houses and narrow streets that has changed little since he was here from 1967 until 1971, although it is now in the shadow of luxury shopping malls and high-rise buildings.

His tightly packed schedule does not even allow time for brief meetings with family and friends.

“I have waited so long for this visit,” said Katarina Fermina Sinaga, 61, who taught the chubby, vivacious boy, then known as “Barry,” in the third grade. “I know as the world leader, his schedule is tight, but I still hope to meet him.

“I just don’t want him to forget us.”

When he was first expected to come in March and then again June, the country whipped itself into a frenzy of anticipation: Books and movies about his childhood were released, celebrations planned, and exhibitions mounted.

But this time, the country seems sapped after twin natural disasters — a volcano and a tsunami — over the past two weeks that killed a combined total of 600 people. There was speculation Obama would cancel again, and the country has been unwilling to get its hopes up, too drained to put on a big show. Even the government waited until the last minute to announce that the visit was on.

Hopeful he still might make a last-minute stop to his old elementary school, dozens of third- and fourth-graders, dressed in green-and-white uniforms, spent Tuesday morning practicing a song dedicated to him.

“We haven’t been told anything,” said Hasimah, the clearly disappointed headmaster. “So we don’t know how to prepare.”

With peace talks in the Middle East moving slowly, many believe he is not much better than his predecessor, George W. Bush.

Still, there is sense, even here, that what Indonesians want most is a little attention.

“He’s not even taking time to meet with us,” said Din Syamsuddin, the leader of the country’s second-largest Muslim group, Muhammadiyah, whose 30 million members had high hopes for Obama. “Even Bush did that …”

Obama moved to Indonesia when he was 7 after his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, married her second husband, Lolo Soetoro, whom she met when they were studying at the University of Hawaii.

The neighborhood they first called home was Menteng Dalam, a Dutch-era neighborhood with red-tiled roofs in Jakarta’s center, where many share fond memories of the young Barry.

They remember that his mother would walk him to school through streets muddied by monsoon rains, that he was comfortable speaking Indonesian, and that the family kept white crocodiles and a monkey in their yard.

“We really have to greet him like a homecoming brother,” said Linggas Sitompul, a 65-year-old customer at a food stall serving Bakso, the same spicy meatball soup the president says he loved as a child.

Before Obama’s inauguration, Indonesia viewed the United States mostly as a target for protest. Hard-liners saw the George W. Bush administration’s anti-terrorism efforts as a proxy for anti-Muslim feelings.

They had hoped that Obama’s connection to Indonesia would give it a special place in his administration, but two years into his term, reality has set in. Most now recognize his visit will not improve their poverty or raise their national stature.

And they know that despite feeling a kinship with the American president, in the end, he will leave and go back to the place that is really his home.