Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Pastor Manning: White people, stop feeling gulity

Although I disagree with most of Harlem pastor JD Manning's "sermon," his key word is dialogue. Yes, we need a frank, open, and respectful dialogue in America about race. But when we sit around with our white/black buddies complaining about other races, that is not a dialogue, it is a monologue. When talking heads and pundits, like Rush Limbaugh or Al Sharpton, speak about race without representation from a different point of view, that is a monologue. Nor do two opposing monologues sailing past one another make a dialogue. For a courtroom analogy, take the plaintiff and defendent's opening and closing arguments: sure, both sides get a chance to air their views, but there is no sincere interaction, much less a desire for such, only choreographed opposition.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I daresay few of you yearn to stand in front of a large all white/black audience and give them this speech: "Let me tell you what's wrong with you people." If you do, I give you credit for having the biggest brass ones in America. There is nothing in the law preventing you from doing this; you should go ahead and organize it.

I'm all for racial dialogue, but it should not be conducted in such terms: "I'm an angry white/black guy and I want the freedom to complain, in my racial isolation, about other races without being called a racist." Well, I'm sorry, that is racist. Maybe nobody will find out about it, but let's call a spade a spade. And what's worse, it is not going to improve race relations one bit, as some race monologists claim.

What really irks some people is that they cannot make negative racial generalities in public without suffering social condemnation and stigma. Nobody can promise you freedom from the social consequences of your words. "You can't be worried about popular opinion," pastor Manning said. If you're not worried what people think about you, then by all means, go out there and preach the White/Black Man's Truth. As he said, "Stop walking on egg shells." Go out and tell some white/black people what you really think of them and their race. There is nothing in the law preventing you. I will stand in awe of your courage!

Reality check: if something you say to somebody, man to man, will likely earn you a punch in the face, it is probably not a respectful -- or wise -- thing to say.

P.S. -- Pastor Manning had the freedom and audacity to call Obama's mother "white trash who brought this devil in the world." He called First Lady Michelle Obama "ugly" before apologizing. He called Oprah Winfrey, Obama, and Rev. Wright the Trinity of Hell. (I can maybe agree with him about Oprah, but that's another discussion....) If that's the kind of refreshing and reasonable dialogue you want, then by all means, go out there an imitate him.

Pastor Manning has been interviewed by FOXNews, Michael Savage, Howard Stern, CBS, and I don't know how many other media outlets, plus he has dozens of diatribes on YouTube, so obviously his radical views -- just as radical as Rev. Jeremiah Wright's -- are getting wide exposure. Freedom of speech is alive and well.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Outraged at lack of outrage?

This letter (see below), which has been bouncing around conservatives' inboxes and blogs for months now, is a real "everything but the kitchen sink" diatribe. It worries me that some Americans seem so outraged and frightened at so many things. They're seeing a different America than I do. 

 My comments:

- George Soros, Al Gore, and Barbra Streisand (the Usual Suspects?) all have money and power, but there are people on the right, left and middle with lots of money who try to influence our country. America's monied elite is not solely a liberal group, not by a long shot.

- The whole "press 2 for Spanish" thing is an example of the free market at work. Hispanics have disposable income, too, and U.S. companies want their business, hence they try to make it easier for them to spend their money. That's capitalism. If there were 45 million American consumers speaking Swahili, you'd hear "press 3 for Swahili." Laissez-faire conservatives, take note.

- People who can't communicate in English are already marginalized, socially and economically. And they know it. Immigrant parents want their kids to learn English and enjoy the fruits of America and the English-speaking global economy, not speak their native language at school and be left behind. Indeed, we should assume that immigrants who were willing to abandon their native country, friends, family, and customs and endure untold hardships to come to America had nothing but the future on their minds; they were not thinking about what would be the easiest thing for them in the short term.

- Maybe America is in moral and ethical decline, I don't know, but by what measure? Who's to judge? The number of Americans who call themselves faithful, attend church regularly, practice abstinence before marriage, avoid illegal drugs, volunteer in their communities, etc. is no less than it was 20-30 years ago, and is by some indications even greater. Or is she complaining about our politician's morals, like Sanford's? Or perhaps Wall Street's morals? If so, she has a legitimate beef. Personally, I think it's a normal phenomenon for aging people to see change as negative and equal to moral decline. "Things were better back in my day," is something older folks have been saying for generations.

Contrary to the hell-in-a-hand-basket myth, take note that we don't lynch our fellow Americans anymore. We don't deny anybody the right to vote. We don't let children work in sweatshops all day. We protect our kids from pedophiles better than ever. We recognize that there really are workplace behaviors called "sexual harassment" and "racial discrimination" and we seek to minimize them. Almost all U.S. corporations now acknowledge, and sometimes even practice, the concept of "corporate social responsibility." Our rivers don't catch on fire anymore. We don't allow our old and infirm to wallow in isolation and excrement anymore. We don't ignore it when priests molest our kids anymore. I could go on, but you get the point. We might be declining in some respects, but America is getting a heck of a lot better in many respects.

- All I will say about Iran/Ahmadinejad is this: we can't debate this topic until you folks come out and say what you want. Why can't you be forthright about it? You want to start a preventive war against Iran. If you neoconservatives have the courage of your convictions, and you're certain talking to Iran is "appeasing a madman," then please don't dance around it. It insults my intelligence.

- If Tyson wants to give its Muslim workers day off, that's their right. It's America! What, would conservatives have Big Government step in and prevent them?

- The Jewel of Medina was indeed published in 2008. What, would conservatives have Big Government step in and force Random House to publish a book? Companies do cowardly things for PR/marketing reasons all the time. When they cave in to one of conservatives' demands, it makes them happy. When they cave in to some liberal constituency, or some whacky group, conservatives cry "moral decline!" In business everything comes down to profit. In a capitalist system, you have to take the bitter with the sweet.

- We can debate the science or practicality of environmentalism, but 99.99% of environmentalists believe that they are doing the right things for the right reasons. That is the very definition of personal ethics. There is no conspiracy.

- "I don't even feel like my vote counts, I am so outnumbered by those who disagree with me," she concluded. I hope to goodness she is outnumbered.
This letter was sent to the Wall Street Journal on August 8, 2008 by Alisa Wilson, Ph.D. Of Beverly Hills , CA in response to the Wall Street Journal article titled "Where's The Outrage? Really." that appeared July 31,2008.

Really. I can tell you where the outrage is. The outrage is here, in this middle-aged, well-educated, upper-middle class woman. The outrage is here, but I have no representation, no voice. The outrage is here, but no one is listening for who am I?

I am not a billionaire like George Soros that can fund an entire political movement.

I am not a celebrity like Barbra Streisand that can garner the attention of the press to promote political candidates.

I am not a film maker like Michael Moore or Al Gore that can deliver misleading movies to the public.

The outrage is here, but unlike those with money or power, I don't know how to reach those who feel similarly in order to effect change.

Why am I outraged? I am outraged that my country, the United States of America , is in a state of moral and ethical decline. There is no right or wrong anymore, just what's fair.

Is it fair that millions of Americans who overreached and borrowed more than they could afford are now being bailed out by the government and lending institutions to stave off foreclosure? Why shouldn't these people be made to pay the consequences for their poor judgment?

When my husband and I purchased our home, we were careful to purchase only what we could afford. Believe me, there are much larger, much nicer homes that I would have loved to have purchased. But, taking responsibility for my behavior and my life, I went with the house that we could afford, not the house that we could not afford. The notion of personal responsibility has all but died in our country.

I am outraged, that the country that welcomed my mother as an immigrant from Hitler's Nazi Germany and required that she and her family learn English now allows itself to be overrun with illegal immigrants and worse, caters to those illegal immigrants.

I am outraged that my hard-earned taxes help support those here illegally. That the Los Angeles Public School District is in such disarray that I felt it incumbent to send my child to private school, that every time I go to the ATM, I see "do you want to continue in English or Spanish?", that every time I call the bank, the phone company , or similar business, I hear "press 1 for English or press 2 for Spanish". WHY? This is America , our common language is English and attempts to promote a bi- or multi-lingual society are sure to fail and to marginalize those who cannot communicate in English.

I am outraged at our country's weakness in the face of new threats on American traditions from Muslims. Just this week, Tyson's Food negotiated with its union to permit Muslims to have Eid-al-Fitr as a holiday instead of Labor Day. What am I missing? Yes, there is a large Somali Muslim population working at the Tyson's plant in Tennessee . Tennessee , last I checked, is still part of the United States . If Muslims want to live and work here they should be required to live and work by our American Laws and not impose their will on our long history.

In the same week, Random House announced that they had indefinitely delayed the publication of The Jewel of Medina, by Sherry Jones, a book about the life of Mohammed's wife, Aisha due to fear of retribution and violence by Muslims. When did we become a nation ruled by fear of what other immigrant groups want? It makes me so sad to see large corporations cave rather than stand proudly on the principles that built this country.

I am outraged because appeasement has never worked as a political policy, yet appeasing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is exactly what we are trying to do. An excellent article, also published recently in the Wall Street Journal, went through over 20 years of history and why talking with Iran has been and will continue to be ineffective. Yet talk, with a madman no less, we continue to do. Have we so lost our moral compass and its ability to detect evil that we will not go in and destroy Iran 's nuclear program? Would we rather wait for another Holocaust for the Jews - one which they would be unlikely to survive? When does it end?

As if the battle for good and evil isn't enough, now come the Environmentalists who are so afraid of global warming that they want to put a Bag tax on grocery bags in California; to eliminate Mylar balloons; to establish something as insidious as the recycle police in San Francisco. I do my share for the environment: I recycle, I use water wisely, I installed an energy efficient air conditioning unit. But when and where does the lunacy stop?Ahmadinejad wants to wipe Israel off the map, the California economy is being overrun by illegal immigrants, and the United States of America no longer knows right from wrong, good from evil.. So what does California do? Tax grocery bags.

So, America , although I can tell you where the outrage is, this one middle-aged, well-educated, upper middle class woman is powerless to do anything about it. I don't even feel like my vote counts because I am so outnumbered by those who disagree with me.

Alisa Wilson, Ph.D. Beverly Hills , California

Friday, June 19, 2009

Rush: 'Obamacare' would deny Republicans treatment

Jeez, they're pulling out all the stops to wreck health care reform. Now Rush Limbaugh is speculating that if you're a registered Republican, under Obama's health care plan, you might be denied care.

Sound nuts? Yeah, exactly. But that's the current noise in the conservative echo chamber. They are using every lie, rumor, and inuendo possible to scare Republicans to death. Can reasonable voices ever be heard through the shouting of irrational fear and suspicion?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Liberal zombies and true humanism

I'm glad somebody finally wrote a political article about zombies. Zombies deserve their due. I gotta admit, I love zombie movies, (and zombie lit, like World War Z) even though they've ruined so many nights of my sleep. Indeed I like most post-apocalyptic films. Sure, they're full of guns, but I actually don't mind, because it would be silly to argue that we need the 2nd Amendment in case the undead storm our homes and office to devour our flesh. (Right?) Why I really like zombie movies is that humans show their true colors when faced with an unstoppable zombie horde. The loud macho guy turns out to be a whining pussy; the hysterical, frightened girl turns out to be a calm, dead-eye shot when it counts; the loyal husband turns out to be a selfish coward; the pious priest turns out to be faithless; the dried-up cynic turns out to have hidden reservoirs of faith; and sometimes, the decent, selfless and brave guy turns out to be decent, selfless and brave.

I also like zombie movies because you get to see how people behave when they all know they're going to die. I mean, die pretty soon. Most of us live our lives as if death is something that happens to other people. But what if it suddenly dawned on all of us that our lives were not measured out in yawning decades, or even years, but in fleeting days and hours? What if we knew death wasn't just scary, what if we knew our death was going to be downright terrifying? In zombie movies, nevertheless, somewhere toward the end, the last survivors typically come to some kind of stoic acceptance of their fate, while drawing comfort from their comrades. They realize "they're all in it together," as Waldman notes. Whether the "it" here is life or death, or both, I'm not sure.

In real life, we don't all live and die together. We die off one by one, years and decades apart, creating the illusion that we're each of us immune to the zombie's bite. But as Shaun of the Dead's Simon Pegg remarked, that silent, legless ghoul is dragging itself through darkness toward all of us. It's going to get us all, eventually. We are all in this together. In the zombie genre, it's no coincidence that those who decide to split from everyone else to save themselves almost always end up a limb and a brain short. Conversely the brave, decent guy often meets his end by sacrificing himself to preserve his fellow survivors a bit longer, thereby calmly choosing the time and place of his honorable death.

So I spend a lot of time thinking about which character I am in this undead horror flick that is life. Am I basically decent, generous, and brave, or am I a selfish coward? Am I the macho poseur who's secretly afraid? Am I the faltering hysteric who surprisingly manages to save the day? Am I the atheist who still hasn't met his foxhole? I variously feel like all of these people. I identify.

Although it's certainly odd, it might even be healthy to imagine every now and then that zombies have taken over, that death does lumber behind every corner, that precious moments reunited with friends and loved ones really are all that matter now: Have I said everything that needs saying? Did my life have any sense or proportion? Does x, y, z "crisis" really matter? Who are the people that matter most to me, and how fast can I get to them? Is there something left to prove? To show? To forgive? Is there still enough time to...?

Another interesting sub-theme of zombie movies is that the immediate needs of the living take absolute precedence over our feelings for the dead. Those who mourn their dead (or undead) loved ones to excess and forget the needs of the living usually get dismembered and zombie-fied for their trouble. I find this a very harsh moral.

Finally, zombie movies fascinate me because the characters display a will to survive although survival is hopeless. And not just personally survive, but survive as a group. I truly believe there is a species survival instinct -- genetically hardwired humanism -- in all of us which overrides our personal survival instinct. As ravenous zombies take down the group one by one, as the survivors' numbers and options dwindle critically, the species survival instinct always kicks in, turning them all into basically decent, selfless, and brave people who are willing to sacrifice totally for the good of the group. At that point, as a viewer, something weird happens to me: I become jealous of these characters. I want to feel what they're feeling then. I want their absolute certainty and clarity in those last moments. I want to be with them in that barricaded attic or rooftop, because that is where perfectly kind, compassionate, and united human beings dwell. Right there. And maybe only there. The promise of life can't bring us together like that; only the threat of imminent death. And that's a darn shame. Imagine how great the world would be if we could all be decent, selfless and brave all the time -- with no zombies!

Anyway, fast zombies are way scarier than slow zombies. You watch the Dawn of the Dead re-make or 28 Days Later and tell me it isn't so.

By Paul Waldman
June 16, 2009 | Prospect.org

The popularity of each resident in our cultural stable of monsters rises and falls as the years pass. Presently, vampires are at the top of the heap, with HBO's True Blood and Stephanie Meyer's unbelievably successful Twilight book series (22 million copies sold in 2008 alone) leading the way. The last few years saw a glut of ghost stories, many adapted from Japanese horror films. Werewolves are in a bit of a rut right now, but perhaps they'll make a comeback sometime soon. All of these menaces can be presented in the context of campy fun, genuinely frightening horror, or even highbrow (or at least upper-middlebrow) entertainment.

But then there's the zombie. There are no highbrow zombie movies or novels, and admitting you love them amounts to a declaration that your tastes are unrefined. In truth, zombies should be boring. There are only so many things you can do with them, narratively speaking. They can't charm you, like vampires, or make you pity them as they relate their torment while in human form, like werewolves. They clumsily lope after you, hoping to feast on your flesh, and they have almost no personality as individuals. Instead, zombie mobs are just an undifferentiated mass of malevolence. What's remarkable is that a villain with such little complexity has thrived for so long.

And "thrive" does not begin to describe the status of the contemporary zombie. They've come a long way from their roots in stories of Haitian voodoo masters using magical powder to enslave unfortunate souls. Consider some recent developments: One of the big publishing hits this year is Seth Grahame-Smith's refashioning of Jane Austen's classic novel, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Later this month, Chicago will host its first ever Zombie-Con. The New York Times' Paul Krugman is obviously a secret zombie-phile; his blog contains multiple references to zombies. There are too many zombie comic books to list. Increasingly, we're seeing "zombie" used as an adjective in a widening variety of contexts, from "zombie banks" to "zombie computers" to "zombie ideas."

At the center of this cultural juggernaut of the undead, are the films. Zombie movies have been around almost as long as there have been movies. While some scholars point to the 1919 silent German film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari as the first zombie film (the zombie in question was actually a hypnotized mental patient), the first mainstream zombie picture was probably White Zombie (1932), starring Bela Lugosi. For the aficionado, though, the truly seminal zombie film is George Romero's low-budget 1968 masterpiece, Night of the Living Dead. Before that film, zombies were usually employed as slave labor, guided by the master who had created them. Romero reimagined them as a mob whose purpose was to destroy and assimilate all living humans. And to eat brains.

Although previous efforts certainly referenced current events (for example, the first film in the Nazi zombie subgenre, Revenge of the Zombies, was released in 1943, while World War II was still going on), Romero's films set observers looking for political themes amid the brain-eating. When Night of the Living Dead was released, many saw it as a metaphor for the Vietnam War or domestic social upheaval. Perhaps most notably, its male lead, Duane Jones, was black, a rare casting decision at the time. In interviews, Romero insists he was not trying to make a point about race. "We cast an African American actor because he was the best actor from among our friends," Romero said in 2008. "And when we finished the film, literally as we were driving it to New York in the trunk of a car, that was the night Martin Luther King was assassinated." Jones' character is shot at the film's end by a group of vigilantes who mistake him for a zombie. Romero's sequels became much more explicit in their societal critique; in Dawn of the Dead, the zombies mindlessly wander around a shopping mall, as if repeating the essential activity of their former lives.

But most people who love a good zombie romp aren't too interested in political subtext -- they want to see arms being gnawed and large numbers of the undead blasted to kingdom come. And they've got more opportunities to feed their (OK, I'll admit it -- our) zombie jones than ever. Wikipedia contains a long list of zombie movies made since the 1930s, and if we turn that list into a graph, we see that the genre has exploded in the past decade. While there may be more films being produced overall, any way you slice it, if you're a zombie lover, this is the time to be alive.


Zombie Movies by Decade

So what's going on here? Why is our love of zombies only growing stronger?

In part, it's because the subject the zombie most directly addresses is so universal. For all the metaphoric possibilities zombies hold, at their most fundamental, they are death itself, pursuing us through the countryside. As Simon Pegg, the co-writer and star of the zombie homage/spoof Shaun of the Dead, recently wrote in the Guardian:

Zombies are our destiny writ large. Slow and steady in their approach, weak, clumsy, often absurd, the zombie relentlessly closes in, unstoppable, intractable.

Their ineptitude actually makes them avoidable, at least for a while. If you're careful, if you keep your wits about you, you can stave them off, even outstrip them -- much as we strive to outstrip death. Drink less, cut out red meat, exercise, practice safe sex; these are our shotguns, our cricket bats, our farmhouses, our shopping malls. However, none of these things fully insulates us from the creeping dread that something so witless, so elemental may yet catch us unawares -- the drunk driver, the cancer sleeping in the double helix, the legless ghoul dragging itself through the darkness towards our ankles.

Metaphors aside, one can't examine the zombie phenomenon without addressing the genre's extreme violence. A vampire movie involves lots of skulking around and a few bites here and there. A zombie movie, on the other hand, will inevitably feature buckets of blood and dozens of zombies dispatched in almost comically violent ways -- limbs severed and bodies torn asunder. And that's not even mentioning the cannibalism.

The particular nature of the genre's violence may lie at the heart of the contemporary appeal of zombies in films and especially in video games. Imagine an action movie in which the hero repeatedly put a shotgun to the head of actual human beings and pulled the trigger. Even if they were very bad people, as an audience we'd come to feel that the hero was a sadistic freak, whatever the nobility of his larger cause. But not so with zombies, who are visibly human, despite their lack of consciousness and life force.

And in video games, you move from observer to participant. You can chop off their arms, blow off their heads, and generally engage in the most vicious kinds of violence one can imagine, and it's OK because, hey, they're zombies. Yet unlike the games in which you are fighting aliens or robots, your victims look basically human. When you play a zombie game, you get to act like a psychopath without saying to yourself, "I really shouldn't be enjoying acting like a psychopath." The zombie game allows us to indulge our inner barbarian without self-doubt.

There's so much more we could discuss -- an entire book could be written on the unending dispute over the relative merits of fast zombies and slow zombies, for instance. But since TAP is a magazine about politics, we must ask this question: Apart from the extreme violence, is the zombie genre fundamentally liberal or conservative? Does its increasing popularity serve anyone's political ends?

While one can certainly use zombies to express all kinds of ideas, I would argue that at heart, the genre is a progressive one. It's true that fighting off the zombie horde requires plentiful firearms, no doubt pleasing Second Amendment advocates. And in a zombie movie, government tends to be either ineffectual or completely absent. On the other hand, when the zombie apocalypse comes, capitalism breaks down, too -- people aren't going to be exchanging money for goods and services; they're just going to break into the hardware store and grab what they need (and if you think your private health insurer is going to be paying claims for treatment of zombie bites, you're living in a dream world). But most important, what ensures survival in a zombie story are the progressive ideals of common cause and collective action. A small group of people from varying backgrounds are thrust together and find that they can transcend their differences of age, race, and gender (the typical band of survivors is a veritable United Nations of cultural diversity). They come to understand that if they're going to get out of this with their brains kept securely housed in their skulls and not travelling down some zombie's gullet, they've got to act as though they're all in it together. Surviving the tide of zombies requires community and mutual responsibility. What could be more progressive than that?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

'Prophetic' old cartoon on dangerous '-ISM'

If they made the cartoon today though, there would be no Laborer or Farmer as rivals, only the other 3 guys. So I have two big problems with this old pro-capitalist propaganda.

The World Economic Forum rates America as having the best labor efficiency (read: anti-labor environment) in the world; and today only about 12 percent of workers are union members (many of them in government, after JFK made public-sector unions legal), vs. 35 percent in 1954.  Also, today huge multinational agbiz corporations grow most of our food, not family farms, several thousands of which close every year never to be replaced.

I guess things have improved a lot in the past 50 years, eh?....

Sunday, June 14, 2009

U.S. farms weaken our antibiotics

I just finished reading the best-selling book The Omnivore's Dilemma, which describes in detail the use of antibiotics in industrial farms. I'm almost to the point where I don't believe any meat produced large-scale in the U.S. is healthy to eat, or good for the public health, or even cheaper for the people, when all the hidden health and environmental costs are factored in.

This study by Johns Hopkins only supports my apprehension about industrial meat.

I am not a vegetarian though, nor do I plan to be one. But we can buy locally and eat seasonally, like our grandparents did. (Don't confuse this with buying "organic," which doesn't mean much.) This directory of local farmers who raise grass-fed animals is a useful tool to eat healthy and enjoy meat the way it's supposed to be. If you live in a city, you can look for so-called metropolitan buying clubs (aka farm subscription clubs) in your area, a type of community-supported agriculture, which pool orders from city residents, making it economically worthwhile for small farmers to deliver their products. Even when you eat out, you can ask the server if any menu items feature locally sourced foods.

Today we spend less on food, relatively, than our parents & grandparents did. Food didn't used to be a commodity, where beef was beef, eggs were eggs, and price was all that mattered. Americans used to know and care where their food came from, and often who grew and/or processed it.

By Dale Keiger
June 2009 | Johns Hopkins Magazine

Johns Hopkins researchers are investigating a troubling potential source of resistant pathogens: the American farm

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Lou Pritchett to Obama: 'You scare me because...'

This open "you scare me" letter by self-described "true living legend" Lou Pritchett is genuine, and it's posted all over the conservative web like some kind of revelation. Bottom line: Pritchett is scared. Really scared. And he's got the bullet points to prove it. I will bother addressing some of them, although most points are bald assertion with nothing to back them up:

- "You scare me because after months of exposure, I know nothing about you," wrote Pritchett, behind locked doors and windows so Obama couldn't get him. Yikes! Seriously though, if Lou Pritchett "knows nothing" about Obama, he is an ignoramus living in a cave. Obama has written two books, one of them autobiographical. Obama has given innumerable public speeches and participated in several public debates. Obama's entire life has been scrutinized and criticized by the media and conservative character assassins (and I mean entire quite literally, with much hubbub made out of the place and time of his very conception and birth, similar to that other Messiah's). With the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on preventing Obama from becoming president, how can anybody believe there are any big secrets out there about Obama's past?

- Obama's Kenyan father also studied at Harvard, making Obama an Ivy League legacy of sorts, so maybe the Islamist-Saudi conspiracy to fund Barack's education started even sooner -- decades before 9/11 -- with his father! (gasp!) What many people don't realize is that, yes, while Harvard tuition is expensive, Harvard's endowment is richer than most multinational corporations, and can easily afford to subsidize its students' education. There are also things called federal student loans. But whatever. Obama graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law, by the way. (His grades were probably all bought & paid for.)

- Pritchett is saying that Obama's youth spent abroad and his Kenyan father make him less American, or un-American. We can safely call this racist xenophobia. I'm serious. Somebody please tell me how it's not. "Culturally you are not an American." What the hell does that mean? Who made Lou Pritchett the judge of that?

- "You scare me because you have never run a company or met a payroll," wrote Pritchett, hiding in the closet with his laptop and a flashlight. How many of our Presidents have never run a company or met a payroll? Does George Washington scare Lou Pritchett, too? What about Grover Cleveland? The mere thought of Grover and his sinister beard sends a chill down my spine, let me tell you.

- "You scare me because you have never had military experience," wrote Pritchett, his fingers trembling on the keyboard. George W. Bush's only military experience was avoiding the Vietnam draft and not showing up for Texas Air National Guard duty. But I guess that never scared Lou Pritchett. Nobody can accuse old Lou of scaring easily; he's scared for good reason!

- Pritchett, despite his initial claim of total ignorance about who Obama is or what he wants, then claims to know who Obama is and what he wants, like European-style socialism, blame America first, blah, blah, blah. Indeed, it seems like Pritchett knows -- or at least thinks he knows -- a heckuva lot about Obama.

- "You scare me because you will not openly listen to or even consider opposing points of view from intelligent people." Let's give one big example where Pritchett is demonstrably, incontrovertibly wrong (assuming there are any intelligent people in Congress, or among the lobbyists who tell them what to do and how to write their bills): health care reform. Unlike Hillary, Obama did not foist a "secret" health care bill on Congress. He laid out a few very basic goals, like cutting costs and increasing access, and then asked Congress to craft a bill to achieve those goals. (That's just what Stalin would have done!)

- "The media gives you a free pass on everything you do." Exactly. Obviously. That's why none of us know who Rev. Jeremiah Wright is. Except those of us who get all our news from Rush Limbaugh.

- Speaking of Limbaugh... Pritchett revives the baseless claim -- made over and over and over again by conservatives -- that Obama wants to "silence" talk radio or reimpose the so-called Fairness Doctrine, even though Obama has flat-out denied any plans to do so, nor has he proposed any legislation to do so. Pritchett is engaging in dishonest fear-mongering. Then again, Pritchett has let us know how he spends his free time in retirement.

The rest of this, as I said, is just bald assertion and name-calling. If Pritchett is such a distinguished old corporate titan, he has really sullied his image by writing such a stupid list of bullet points with no argument or evidence to back it up. No wonder the NYT refused to publish his letter. ...Oh, wait, silly me, I forgot! The Times are up to their necks in the lib'rul conspiracy! Of course they're not going to publish Pritchett's scathing, well-researched and thought-out grumpy-old-man's diatribe.

If Lou Pritchett is not able to write a similarly stupid, unpublished open letter 8 years from now, as he hopes to do, it will be because he has died of a heart attack or a brain aneuryism brought on by a fit of paranoid, apopleptic rage at something he caught on FOX or talk radio. Or because he has died of fright.

P.S. -- Lou Pritchett, you scare me because you are buds with Giant Garfield. And because of that shirt. Wow.

The author, Lou Pritchett, is a well-known public speaker who retired after a successful 36-year career as the VP World Sales for Proctor and Gamble.

Lou Pritchett is one of corporate America 's true living legends- an acclaimed author, dynamic teacher and one of the world's highest rated speakers. Successful corporate executives everywhere recognize him as the foremost leader in change management. Lou changed the way America does business by creating an audacious concept that came to be known as "partnering." Pritchett rose from soap salesman to Vice-President, Sales and Customer Development for Procter and Gamble and over the course of 36 years, made corporate history.

Dear President Obama:

You are the thirteenth President under whom I have lived and unlike any of the others, you truly scare me.

You scare me because after months of exposure, I know nothing about you.

You scare me because I do not know how you paid for your expensive Ivy League education and your upscale lifestyle and housing with no visible signs of support.

You scare me because you did not spend the formative years of youth growing up in America and culturally you are not an American.

You scare me because you have never run a company or met a payroll.

You scare me because you have never had military experience, thus don't understand it at its core.

You scare me because you lack humility and 'class', always blaming others.

You scare me because for over half your life you have aligned yourself with radical extremists who hate America and you refuse to publicly denounce these radicals who wish to see America fail.

You scare me because you are a cheerleader for the 'blame America ' crowd and deliver this message abroad.

You scare me because you want to change America to a European style country where the government sector dominates instead of the private sector.

You scare me because you want to replace our health care system with a government controlled one.

You scare me because you prefer 'wind mills' to responsibly capitalizing on our own vast oil, coal and shale reserves.

You scare me because you want to kill the American capitalist goose that lays the golden egg which provides the highest standard of living in the world.

You scare me because you have begun to use 'extortion' tactics against certain banks and corporations.

You scare me because your own political party shrinks from challenging you on your wild and irresponsible spending proposals.

You scare me because you will not openly listen to or even consider opposing points of view from intelligent people.

You scare me because you falsely believe that you are both omnipotent and omniscient.

You scare me because the media gives you a free pass on everything you do.

You scare me because you demonize and want to silence the Limbaughs, Hannitys, O'Relllys and Becks who offer opposing, conservative points of view.

You scare me because you prefer controlling over governing.

Finally, you scare me because if you serve a second term I will probably not feel safe in writing a similar letter in 8 years.

Lou Pritchett