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BestOf2005

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How do you say "Yes, Massa" in Chinese?

There is much to fear as an American today. The Muslims are out to get us. Mexicans keep sneaking across our borders. The bird flu is coming, and God keeps trying to kill us with his floods. But none of these worry me as much as this headline I saw in the New York Times yesterday: "China Overtakes U.S. as Supplier of Information Technology Goods." My mom was always interested in learning a Chinese language and tried to come up with ways to visit the country nearly until her last days on this Earth. I always thought she was just intrigued by the people, but the more I think on it, the more I'm sure she was planning to welcome our new overlords in their native tongue when they inevitably take over. The NY Times article was basically talking about how China has come a long way since it was known as a place to get low-end goods manufactured for cheap:
After almost a decade of explosive growth in its electronics sector, China has overtaken the United States as the world's biggest supplier of information technology goods... To some industry experts, the report is more evidence that China has made progress in its long-term plan to upgrade the capacity of its manufacturing as it strives to become a major economic power.
Every time I hear a U.S. official talking about China, they refer to it as a big pool full of a billion consumers of American goods, as if the people who invented paper have nothing better to do but anticipate the next Ford Vaporizer SUV. These people will buy stuff, but it's probably going to be stuff they make! China is developing and making higher quality goods and even getting into the design of products too. They're revamping their education system and are making serious investments in their infrastructure. The government is moving toward political reform, though very slowly. Plus, they're stealing our oil from the Middle East. Yes, our oil. It's not fair. We killed for it. Robber's keepers, losers weepers is what I always say. But the super scary part isn't all this. It's the damn military. More from the article:
China's military industry works closely with information technology companies and the government's research and development sector in what some analysts have described as a "digital triangle" that supports the country's rapid military modernization. "The People's Liberation Army is moving very quickly to adopt practically every information-related aspect of military technology that the U.S. is pursuing at this time," said Rick Fisher, vice president of the International Assessment and Strategy Center in Washington.
That's just great. Just perfect. One billion people. They'll be designing and making everything we use. They'll be driving my car. And they won't even speak English!! While we're busy developing the next "male enhancement" drug, China is busy reverse engineering 10 year old computer parts so they can design a space death ray! A death ray!!! Today, we complain about outsourcing. Tomorrow, young Americans will be rowing banana boats across the Pacific for the privilege of working illegally in China.

I'll Show You a War on Christmas

It almost goes without saying that the greatest quote of 2005 is, "Brownie, you're doin' a heck of a job." But I just read something which was almost as hot. If you haven't paid attention to the television, radio, newspapers, magazines, the blogosphere or podcast world, you might not have heard that America is engaged in four wars right now: The War in Afghanistan, The War in Iraq, The War on Terror and The War on Christmas. Go ahead, Google it. We liberals have gone too far. Our agenda has promoted the anti-Christian phrase "Happy Holidays" above the preferred "Feliz Cumpleano Jesus." First we free the slaves; then we let women vote; then we let the homos marry and now we attack the baby Jesus. We're horrible people who have declared War on Christmas. The religious right is really, really angry and are going after schools, demanding they call "Winter Break" "Christmas Break" instead. The biggest targets of their fury have been stores. "Holiday" sales really offend the conservative Christians who insist these be called "Christmas Sales." After all, Jesus died on the cross so we might all be forgiven our sins and save a bundle on plasma screen televisions. I actually remember that part in the Bible. Jesus is rappin with his homeboys, The Disciples, passing cups of blood and plates with his body and coupons redeemable at Shiloh's Steakhouse. Jesus loved him a bargain, which makes sense because he was Jewish. Oh wow. I never thought of it that way. I must share this theory with my many Jewish friends whose mere existence gives me license to write such inflammatory stereotypes. "So what's this hot quote?" you ask. Patience, gentle reader. I'm having fun. The White House is in trouble. It's not because of the three big wars I mentioned first, though. Nooo, the White House, who has close connections with Jesus' dad, recently caught some flack for sending out a generic "Happy Holiday Season" greeting card. People are flippin out over this, throwing away the White House cards, accusing the Bushes of not being Christian enough. Then I read this:
"I think it's more important to put Christ back into our war planning than into our Christmas cards," said the [National Council of Church's] general secretary, the Rev. Bob Edgar, a former Democratic congressman.
Give it up to Reverend Edgar! Seriously. Stop reading this for a moment, and show some love for the Reverend... Ok, welcome back. Conservatives love to make things up way too often. Usually it revolves around some kind of attack by liberals. It's so absurd, I'd prefer if we had fun with it. They say we don't support the troops. They say we undermine family values. Now, they say, we attack Christmas. Well, I say, let's really start doing these things, because at least then the titles would fit. Next time a soldier comes home from Iraq, send him a big "Fuck You, Troop" card and kick him in the face. We should actively destroy family values: plant lies within our neighbors homes, encourage incest, make kids work while parents spend all day watching TV. And we should really, really, attack Christmas. Let's drop a bomb on a manger in Bethlehem. That's what I call a war on Christmas. Or we could be these horrible people in another way entirely. Why don't we hate on the troops by sending them, underprepared into an unnecessary war, and then taunt their enemies. Family values? Let's cut food programs for children and put a cap on the minimum wage. Let's destroy family stability by imprisoning everyone we possibly can And Christmas! Oh, this is great. Let's turn that into a gigantic opportunity to buy and sell shit we don't need for people we don't like. Then we can cave. I'll start right now. Merry Christmas, religious right. This war is over. Only three more left.

Arnita Lorraine Thurston

Hey good people. For some of you this will be a bit sudden, and for that I apologize, but on October 12, 2005 my mother passed away at 6:30pm in the Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston. She was 65 years old and left behind two (dare I say wonderful) kids: me and my older sister, Belinda. It's' getting a bit late, and I don't have time or energy to call everyone I'd like, but thanks to Al Gore and the fact the Google runsthe planet, you can read this email. Since the last update I sent some of you a week ago, my mom's condition (stage 4 colon cancer spread to liver and lungs) took a pretty sudden downward turn. Last Friday she was complaining about getting confused, being in more pain and really being unable to sleep, so we checked her in to the ER. Over the weekend, after various tests, the oncologists gave us (me, mom, sister) two choices: a) pursue a mild chemotherapy with minimal chance of improvement and guaranteed side effects or b) control the pain. My mom chose the morphine, and we supported that. The hospital stay then turned into a real tragicomedy raising such important questions as:
  • Why did my mom nearly poo in my sister's face? While I had a great laugh, my sis wasn't so impressed.
  • How is it that ma forgot the names of her children but remembered her Apple Powerbook?
  • On the hospital lunch menu there is a "Cold Entrees" section. One of the items offered is simply "American Cheese." Why?
  • When the nurses were checking my mom's mental faculties, they asked her the date, year, location. She answered all these flawlessly. When they asked who the president was, she answered, "I'd rather not say." How can a woman on morphine, lactulose, lasics, potassium, with high amonia and low sodium and tumors flooding her liver and lungs see something half the country still doesn't?
I can't answer those questions, but on the more substantive question: did she pass into the light well? The answer is yes. She spent the last weeks surrounded by her kids and the past few years spoiled by us. She got to see live concerts of heroes Bill Cosby, Gladys Night (in VEGAS!), Whoopi Goldberg, Ray Charles and Tina Turner (at least four times). She got to move to the west coast (a lifelong dream) and drove across the country with her kids to get there. Alone, she helped both her babies survive DC in the 70s, 80s and 90s to graduate from college, publish books, manage newspapers and bring home tai chi trophies. She even got to be in the audience on Oprah. I know many a desperate housewife that would sell her kids (something ma threatened us with a lot growing up) just to be in the same zipcode as Oprah. She told a good tale and enjoyed hearing them even more with favorites like Frank Herbert's DUNE SERIES Orson Scott Card's ENDER SERIES, the Lord of the Rings and the DARK TOWER SERIES by Stephen King. But above all she loved hearing the tales of her children. The last thing my sister and I did for our mother was visit a nursing home today that the hospital had recommended for her and turn it down. I think she saw us do that, figured we passed the final test, and her work here was truly finished. She was an amazing woman and remains a brilliant spirit. May she enjoy her rest full of long days and pleasant nights in the clearing at the end of the path. -- Note: We're not planning any sort of funeral. Ma wanted to be cremated and spread in the ocean or Africa. We will hold a small memorial service in Boston (details TBA) and will set up this website with photos, notes and a place for people to contribute their own words to her memory. I'll also probably devote some blog entries and podcast radio shows to her memory as well. peace to all and thanks for being the good people you are. Now, if you can, go tell your mother you love her! - Baratunde son of Arnita

A Final Solution for the Religious Right - But Not in a Holocaust-y Way

The following is my monthly column published in The Somerville News for August 2005: I am a liberal. I sip a latte every now and then. I studied French in college. I read books that don’t start with “in the beginning.” And I like who I am, but in a place like BostoCamberVille, I can get used to this Northeast, pinko-commie, ape-descendin bubble. I got tired of listening to the Blame America First crowd. I needed a break from Air America and Maureen Dowd and Osama bin Laden. So, in an effort to understand Bush supporters who exist “out there” somewhere, I decided to break with tradition. I wouldn’t do anything radical like move to Utah (though there’s clearly something in the Great Salt Lake that makes one gubernatorial). I started, more modestly, with a book. I started reading the Left Behind series. For the uninitiated, the Left Behind series is a set of bestselling books by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, and it is very popular among those so-called “values voters” in the so-called “Bible Belt.” It’s a fictional account of an extreme interpretation of the Bible, so it’s sort of like meta-fiction. The main idea is one espoused by many evangelical Christians – by the way, for you tree-hugging set, “Christianity” is what’s known as a “religion” in which people tried to follow the example of a man named Jesus Christ but, along the way, got distracted with “churches” and “gays.” The evangelicals believe that someday very soon (as in any moment), Jesus will return to “rapture” his church, taking away all the true Christians to Heaven and leaving the rest “left behind.” Get it? Left Behind? The religious right is so clever. In one instant Jesus will actually snatch away the bodies of the true believers, all children under age 12 and even the dead who were true believers. Pregnant women will lose their babies. Poof! They’ll be gone. It’ll be like spontaneous combustion without that annoying residue. All that will be left are the clothes, jewelry and pacemakers of the disappeared. The people left behind will have to deal with the fact that the crazy fanatics were actually right, and they’ll have to deal with seven years of tribulation in which the anti-Christ will rise, Jews will convert to Christianity, the world will subscribe to a single religion and lots of bad things involving signs, seals and marks of the beast will generally make a mess of planet Earth. This sounds like something Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer might make into a big Hollywood blockbuster. Instead, we have to settle for Kirk Cameron starring in the Left Behind straight-to-video DVDs. On the one hand, these books are kind of interesting – full of adventure, conspiracy and romance like any decent spy novel. On the other hand, they’re full of the very real beliefs held by millions of people, many of whom are allowed to vote and operate heavy machinery. I saw a bumper sticker on a car in Ohio that read: “In case of rapture, this car will be unmanned.” These Rapturists are allowed to drive, even though they think at any moment, J-Chris will snatch them away from that important duty, leaving their car to slam into who-knows-what? All of the sudden, 72 virgins doesn’t sound so crazy anymore. Among the millions of Rapture believers is none other than George W. Bush, which kind of explains his governing style. Why save the environment when you and everyone you care about will soon be Audi 5000? For many of us New England liberals, this is all hard to swallow. I mean, how can a supposedly loving God abandon so many souls? The Dalai Lama and all those peaceful Tibetan monks? Left Behind. Hindus who may have spent their entire lives serving the poor? Left Behind. It’s not even that all the Christians get beamed up. Only the “true” evangelical, born-again breed qualify for the express train to Heaven. I began to wonder how God could leave all these good people behind to face Hell on Earth? But maybe it’s just a matter of perspective. Imagine all those crazy, right-wing nut jobs who want a giant Ten Commandments tablet in front of every subway entrance, who want to cover up nipples on ancient sculptures, who harass you on the streets with their salvation pamphlets, who throw blood on abortion doctors and think the Bible is a science textbook and consider dancing a sin. Do you have a good picture of them in your minds? Now, imagine them suddenly gone, beamed up in a single moment to their “heaven” full of fat, naked people just like themselves with decomposing corpses and fetuses to keep them company, leaving the rest of us Left Alone. I can’t think of a better outcome. In the words of my favorite evangelical Christian, “bring it on.”

My conversation with a returning US Marine

My life is really hard. A few weeks ago I was sent off to Barcelona to attend a conference for my sometime day job. I endured all day meetings and all night clubbing. Then on the return flight to Boston, I got trapped in the inevitable delay vortex that is the Philadelphia airport. I was livid. Then I met a US Marine returning from an eight month tour of duty in Iraq. Now, I love the Philadelphia Airport. The delay really was ridiculous. I had a transfer set in Philly via US Airways and knew getting off the Barcelona flight that there were problems with my connection. I was supposed to do a show in Boston that night at 10pm, and with an original arrival around 8pm, it wouldn't have been a problem even with a small delay. But, I don't trust the Philadelphia airport. Why? Like Mos Def said in The Italian Job, "I had a bad experience." Six years ago, I was returning from my only other international US Airways flight, from Paris to Boston. There was a transfer in Philadelphia. My connecting flight was cancelled. In fact, all flights were cancelled. Rain. I was supposed to be in Boston early the next morning to start my first, post-college, full-time job. You understand? My first job. I didn't have a cell phone, so I couldn't get in on the early morning flights out the next day and hotel vouchers. I had to wait in line. Some people played both ends. They were in line, but they were also on their little cell phones, stealing my lodging and plane seats. Damn you digital divide!!! By the time I got to a counter, all the hotels were full and no flight could get me to my first job in time. On top of that, the train tracks on the whole East coast were flooded. It was at this point I had to ask myself, "Why did you leave Paris?" I had gone there to chase a woman. Don't worry, she was in on the game. It's not like I just looked in a Parisian yellow pages, found some femme worth stalking and booked a flight. This woman had invited me over... to Paris. You can't say no to that. Anyway, when I was leaving that great city, she asked if I didn't want to stay for the weekend at least. She was heading to the beaches in the Southern regions. I politely declined, explaining that I had to get back to Boston for my brand, spanking new job. Then the rain came and shut down the Philly airport and stopped the trains and ate up all the hotel rooms in town. So, I did the only reasonable thing I could do: I rode a bus to New York and then another bus to Boston, all overnight. I arrived at the office about 15 minutes before the welcome-new-cubicle-dwellers meeting began. At the end of that day, I went to a SprintPCS store and bought a cell phone. The moral of the story is that I hate the Philadelphia airport. So when my second ever US Airways international flight took me through Philly on the return, and when the connecting flight was set to be delayed by 45 minutes, I didn't trust the airport. I asked my girlfriend (using my cell phone!) to help get me a one-way car rental, but the cars were sold out. Again, I'd have to wait at this cursed airport. If you're wondering where the US Marine is in this story, hang tight pahtnas. In due time. I'm weaving a tale here. The flight kept getting pushed back. From 45 minutes to an hour to 90 minutes. I would wait in line, trying to talk to the gate agent. She would avoid eye contact with me, as if that made her invisible. It was cute, the little dance we did. The flight still got pushed back. Two hours. Two and a half hours. It was around this point that I just had to give in and laugh. My evaporating hope of making my show finally dried up completely. I had just witnessed (with incredible joy, might I add) a near-fight between two 50+ year old white men over their spot in line. I was hungry and tired, and I finally accepted my fate and decided to enjoy it. At the same time, another passenger had decided to snap. "Why should I listen to you now?!!!" he yelled at the gate agent. "You say it will be another hour, but you said that an hour ago!! How do I know you won't lie to me again??" "Sir, I didn't lie to you. I passed on the information I was given at the time." "You are lying again! What, do you think we are all cows!!?? To be herded about??? I just want to be treated like a human being!!" How can you not enjoy that? All I needed was a $20 bucket of lard-drenched popcorn. Shortly after that man's meltdown, I met "Joe". I'm calling him that because I don't want the military to get all upset in case he said something he shouldn't have. Joe looked like just about any man in his early 20s might, except he had better posture. His smile was really warm, and I can remember him being so calm amidst the mob of angry passengers. We both smiled at the situation. We talked about the insanity and agreed that people were a little bit out of control. I asked him where he was going. "Boston. I live in Hyde Park. You?" "Somerville." "Where are you coming from?" he asked. "Barcelona. You?" "Iraq." Damn. I guess that explained his posture! And his calm, although I might have understood if he were completely berzerk as well. Joe was a Marine, a sergeant I think. In the TOW Unit. I thought that meant he was like AAA for the troops. Nope. "TOW" stands for "Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided missile." See this page for more. Not quite as catchy as "you call, we haul," but it'll do, I guess. Joe's unit patrolled the Iranian and Syrian borders. He's been a Marine for two years and spent the last eight months in Iraq. I was amazed. As we talked more, the one-man media conglomerate in me woke up. "Hey, do you mind if I interview you for my radio show?" I figured that would be a pretty dope podcast exclusive. After initially agreeing, he thought better of it and said he was pretty sure that wasn't allowed. I definitely didn't want to get him in any trouble. Thus, his name is "Joe," and what you're reading is my recollection, not a word-for-word transcript. "You're the first person I've met who's actually been over there," I said. "And I don't want to hit you with all the boring questions. When people find out you've been in Iraq, what do they always ask?" "They want to know about my politics." "Ok, no politics questions from me. Here's my first question: what's the most fun you had in Iraq?" I thought that was a pretty dope question, if I may say so myself, which I may, because, it's my blog. Joe thought about the question for a little while. "That's a good question." See, the Marine thinks Baratunde asks good questions. Told you. "I'd have to to say it was the shower," he said. "Really? The shower?" "Yeah..." Joe went on to use some terminology describing the setup, but basically they'd create a shower floor out of the tops of ammo crates and get some sort of very small water tower or pump for the water. "And how often did you get to ahower?" "Oh, maybe once every six to eight weeks." "Daaaamn. So you might have had 10 showers in the past eight months?" "Yeah. Other than that, it's baby wipes." I do believe such a schedule would make showers fun, indeed. "Ok, then the opposite question: what's the most scared you were?" This required no time for Joe to give me a response. "Mortar fire. It's as loud as an airplane." I thought that was it, but then he told another story. When he finished, I realized at some point, that I had stopped breathing. "Also, when someone yells 'gas!' that means we suspect a chemical weapons attack, and we have to get suited up." All the troops get suited up in their chemical gear -- huge, heavy rubber suits with full face masks. This is in 120 degree desert heat. Then they wait. To me, of the F-U-Philly-Airport crowd, "mortar fire" qualified as most frightening. When he upped it with "gas!" I could see that yes, thinking you might melt from the inside, was more frightening than loud explosions. But, Joe wasn't finished. "When it's over, the commanding officer has the youngest, most junior marine take his mask off... to make sure the air is ok. I was the commanding officer, and I had to look into these kids' eyes and tell them to risk their lives by taking off a mask. The medics were standing by with [instant treatment of some sort] but I'm 22 looking into an 18 year old's eyes, and he's scared. It's hard thing to do." Damn. Damn. I did not expect that. I'm not sure what I expected, maybe fears of a roadside bomb or some sort of ambush, but not some deep, emotionally scarring event. That's war. Right there. Joe looked healthy. He hadn't seen his wife in eight months. He was easy going, friendly and had a good head on his shoulders. But the most fun he's had in the past three quarters of a year has been the occasional shower. And the most scared he's been was having to tell an 18 year old to take off his gas mask to make sure the gas was gone. This is what they mean when they say war should always be a last resort. I knew I was against this Gulf War 2.0 from the start. But at the time it was about the policy: no real WMD threat and a president who'd proven himself untrustworthy. I thought about the Iraqis and Americans that would die over this, and it made me sick. But I forgot about the changed lives, the mentally scarred, the future homeless veterans who will struggle to deal with all that they've seen and done. A life can end even while the person living it breathes. For my part, I find it a lot harder to complain about airport delays.

Bush and al-Qaeda should totally make out

Enough with the flirting. I think Bush and al-Qaeda need some time alone to get it on because they clearly have a thing for each other. Each one keeps doing shit that keeps the other in power. The cycle of flattery is killing me. Being an American who voted for Gore back in 2000, I'd like to blame Bush for starting the lovefest, but it was al-Qaeda. They turned a listless, vacationing, frat-boy president into a leader. They turned a boy whose baby bro helped steal an election into a man who actually won one. Then Bush reciprocated. "Aww shucks Osama. Thanks for scratching my back and giving me purpose. My turn to return the favor. Let's bomb the Muslims to kingdom come!" And so began the war on terror. With us or against us. Dead or alive. Osama, Osama, O Saddam, Saddam. We do bin Laden's dirty work for him doubly. He hates Saddam too, so we take out Saddam. He hates US military presence in the Gulf, so we give him the biggest yet. His ranks swell. It's better to fight the terrorists over there, instead of here at home. Wonder if Tony B still feels that way. I wonder if he realized that London isn't "home" to Bush. Hell, the Northeast US isn't home either. He's probably just ready to defend Midland, Texas. So just as Bush's approval ratings here approach zero degrees Kelvin, and fellow liberals hope against hope that their fellow citizens are awakening to the great white hoax, al-Qaeda delivers Bush a few off-cycle electoral votes. Dammit. on london I was up late last night -- till about 2am, but I woke up at 6:35am with no alarm and couldn't get back to sleep. I went to me kitchen, grabbed some water and headed, as always, to my beautiful Mac. That's when gmail told me that CNN had sent an urgent news alert. London had been attacked. Several Tube stations had been bombed along with at least one bus packed with people being driven from a closed Tube station. Since CNN is full of shit I thought I'd get a bit closer and checked out the BBC website. Less Eau de Feces on that network. They listed the affected stations, and I remembered many from my week in London this past April. Kings Cross. Been there. Aldgate East. Several times used by me to get scrumptuous tasties off of Brick Lane. My boy manages a club, Rhythm Factory, just a few blocks away. Old Street. Old Street??? That's where I was staying for about five days. A college friend of mine let me crash at his Hoxton Square spot. "Should I be worried?" I thought. "Nah. Dude gets up mad late, and he walks to work. Probably missed the whole thing." I sent him a short email, and he got back to me within 15 mins. All was ok. I read that U.S. Vice President Tony Blair was gonna be holding a press conference at 7am ET, so I tuned in on my tele. Again BBC. He was clearly shook. But he said what he had to. We will never give in. Our will is stronger. Don't mess with Texas. You know the drill. I started looking for alternative coverage. Checked out some up-to-the-minute flickr photo postings. Went to London Indy Media Center. Looked to the blogs. Surprised at the low fatality count. Happy, if I can be happy about an aspect of tragedy. But also suspicious. Are the numbers just not being reported yet? Then I saw another press conference. This time it was Blair flanked with his homies from the Gang of 8. Chirac on stage left. Hands crossed over his midsection. Maybe he felt guilty. London just swiped the 2012 Olympics from his gay Paris. Maybe he went to bed last night angry. Maybe he wished for bad things to happen to London. Then he woke up and found himself standing next to a heartbroken Tony Blair trying to look in charge. Stage right. That gangsta nigga. Dubya. No long face here. Nothing "french looking" about him. Hands weren't crossed at all. Nuts all exposed. Proudly. Fists clinched to either side. Is he hoping for another attack? Does he look forward to these chances to look "resolute" and "determined" and "presidential?" Has he calculated the bounce in the polls? How many approval points per bomb? How many basis points per dead Londoner?

Keep Falwell away from my OREO cookies!

falwell.jpg Jerry Falwell and a bunch of idiots calling themselves moral Christians are protesting Kraft Food's decision to sponsor the Gay Games in Chicago next summer. Here's why that's just so stupid! A few months ago, I became a dues-paying, card-carrying member of Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority Coalition. No, I didn't lose my ability to think clearly -- I just wanted to see what they were up to. So, now I get weekly emails and a nifty newsletter and awesome decals (my favorite is "I VOTE CHRISTRIAN"). But I think they should offer discounts too, like a free bible every time I write my Senator about "activist judges" or at least 50% off a gallon of kerosene when purchased with a wooden cross. I bring all this up because it was my membership in the Moral Majority which alerted me to Falwell's' latest attack. He and the people over at the American Family Association are upset that Kraft Foods will be sponsoring the Gay Games in July 2006. They say it's because the after-hours activities are lewd, and they're having all their members call and email the CEO of Kraft threatening to boycott the company. There are so many things wrong with this, but first let me share some of the email with ya:
Kraft Foods, the maker of “the world’s favorite foods,” has found itself in the middle of a public relations nightmare after its corporate leadership decided to sponsor the Gay Games VII, which will take place in Chicago in July. The Gay Games is an Olympic-style series of events where homosexuals from around the world compete. But the Gay Games are not just about athletic competition. Today I visited the American Family Association’s website that illustrates some of the after-hours activities that go on during the Gay Games. These photos can be seen at this AFA website: www.afa.net/activism/gaygamesproof.html PLEASE BE WARNED — these photos contain partial nudity and lewd depictions. But I feel it is important that consumers who purchase Kraft products see what goes on at these Gay Games (billed as “athletic and cultural” events) in order to understand what types of activities Kraft Foods is actually sponsoring. If one visits the Gay Games website, he will discover more than 70 sponsors of the event. These sponsors are almost exclusively homosexual companies, including PlanetOut.com, Q Television, Pink magazine, Girlfriends magazine, Boi magazine, ChicagoPride.com and a variety of others. Kraft Foods, owners of Maxwell House coffee, Kool-Aid and Capri Sun drinks, Oscar Mayer meats, Jell-O snacks, Oreo cookies, Nabisco Foods, and many other well-known products, has placed its reputation on the line by choosing to sponsor the Gay Games.
You can read the entire thing here. So being the good dues-paying member that I am, I decided to write (rderomedi23@kraft.com) Kraft CEO Roger Deromedi. Here's what I said:
Dear Mr. Deromedi, I found out that your company is sponsoring the Gay Games olympics and think it's a wonderful idea. I received an email from Jerry Falwell's organization requesting its millions of members protest Kraft's decision on the grounds, not that you were supporting the "games" but rather that you were sponsoring "lewd... after-hours activities." It's a preposterous accusation and one that plays on people's fears of homosexual activity. It's also completely illogical. If any company which sponsors an event is also "sponsoring" the "after-hours" activities of that event, then we might as well pull the plug on funding the "regular" Olympics (which features significant amounts of "lewd" behavior in the Olympic Village), the US military (whose Tailhook scandal just scratched the surface of rampant sexual harassment, not to mention the scores of documented rapes of US servicewomen in Iraq by their fellow male soldiers) and, of course, no more high school proms (need I explain?). Please do not be pressured by the unsound and fear-inspired rhetoric of Jerry Falwell and the pseudo-independent drones that count themselves among his loyal followers. There are still those of us out here who know how to use our brains, so keep the faith. I'm off to buy some Tang, Toblerone and Tazo Tea. - Baratunde Thurston
I think that sums up the main problem I had, but their's one more fun point. Kraft Foods operates over 250 brands -- everything from Velveeta and Poly-O String Cheese to Seattle's Best Coffee and Boca Burgers and Oreo Cookies, not to mention Honey Bunches of Oats! The good news is, with so many Kraft brands to boycott, Falwell's slow-witted followers will be too confused to actually pull it off.

Yes, Alan Keyes, YESSSSS!!!!!

Alan Keyes never ceases to amaze. So much education wasted on such an idiot. He has pretty much disowned his daughter after she came out as a lesbian. Uppity-Negro.com has a great take. It's a little weird that all these hard core Republicans have gay daughters, but then again, I'd be a lesbian too if my image of men were shaped by the likes of Alan Keyes and Dick Cheney. Oops Pow Surprise!

I'll be a black conservative too for $240,000

So that's the going rate for black conservative's huh? And all I have to do is undermine my community?? I believe Lil Jon said it best when he said, "YEEEAH!!" I am of course referring to the story that won't die: black conservative Armstrong Williams was paid $240,000 in taxpayer money by the Department of Education. His mission: to say nice things about the No Child Left Behind Act. Here's what I want you to do about it. First, I need you to write the FCC. Just send a quick email to fccinfo@fcc.gov. Feel free to copy my letter below, or write your own:
Dear FCC staffer/commissioner (I wish!) You all have recently come under much scrutiny for flexing investigative muscle surrounding indecency in the media. I write to you today about one of the most indecent, unethical, anti-democratic and possibly illegal media actions in recent memory. I am writing about the recent disclosure that the Department of Education paid $241,000 in taxpayer money to a journalist by the name of Armstrong Williams. The department retained Mr. Williams's services as a journalist to promote the No Child Left Behind Act. This arrangement was made in secret with Mr. Williams's readers having had no idea that his position was bought and paid for with their tax dollars. Trust is an ingredient without which democracy itself makes no sense. The idea is that the public is informed enough about the decisions it makes, that those decisions will be in its best interest. The media's role in such a system is to act as sometime arbiter, sometime referee in the battle for public opinion. When the media forego this duty and instead become commercial partners in propaganda, their wallets win, but democracy and the interests of the America people lose. The FCC spent over a year investigating charges that the television show "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" was obscene. Armstrong Williams has admitted what he did, so your investigation should be much shorter and cost less taxpayer money. After all, we're $241,000 poorer because of a decision made by your colleagues at Education. To call what he did obscene or indecent, is to put it mildly. Please act now to force a return of our money, an apology from the Education Department and clear guidelines for all other government agencies who would consider buying the good press they are unable to earn. Sincerely, Baratunde R. Thurston taxpayer, voter, citizen
Ok, once you've done that, pat yourselves on the shoulder, and check out my proposal. I have noticed for some years now that Black conservatives get all the love. When you're the only black person in any situation you tend to have a lot of friends... except maybe at Klan rallies. I spent a lot of years in white schools and can testify that the most busted brotha in the hood is the one-eyed king of the blind at a white private school. Truly the bee's knees. And so, I'm not surprised that Black conservatives tend to have a rather nice lifestyle as well. It's the same dynamic. They are in very short supply, but they're a must-have accessory for every ass backwards policy. Need to undo affirmative action? Find a black Supreme Court judge. Wanna bomb poor people? How bout a black National Security Advisor. Need to pimp one of the greatest underfunded federal policies since 40 acres and a mule? Armstrong Williams is your dawg! So I get it. Rare black people are popular. Black conservatives are rare, ergo popular. And popular people get the nicer things in life. We've all noticed how the black conservative has the best degrees, the most lucrative book deals and the phattest wad of conservative think tank grant money (aka "white chedda"). But the new system of direct cash payola is making me rethink my progressive values. It's a tipping point, if you will. I am ready to become a black conservative. I mean, check out the going rate! Two hundred forty thousand dollars... per conservative political issue! Let's just do the math, son. I'm gonna try these on for size.
  • Affirmative action is the silent bigotry of low expectations. I feel inferior because of it. This affects my self esteem and thus my ability to realize my true potential. I now doubt all my success. I'm not actually a funny comedian. People just laugh because I'm black. When the bus driver gives me a transfer, it's not because I "paid my fare." It's because I'm black. The government isn't giving me a "tax refund." It's a "black refund." Wow. $240,000 for that. Cha-ching. Ok, how about this?
  • I don't believe in evolution. God created everything 6,000 years ago -- the Grand Canyon, Himalayas, even Barbara Bush. The Bible is right about everything. EVERYTHING! So every weekend I go to a synagogue and throw out all the Jewish accountants because that's what Jesus would do, get rid of the money changers. It's the Bible. Can't argue with it. Another $240,000. This is the shit. I gotta tell the drug dealers I found a better hussle! Ok one more.
  • The war in Iraq is the central front in the War on Terror, which we will someday officially win. Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden planned the 9/11 attacks at a cafe in Paris. The CIA has direct evidence of this! Everybody knows it, but the liberals hate America so much they refuse to read the report. In fact, Saddam was planning to drop 10 nuclear weapons filled with anthrax and VX nerve gas on evangelical day care centers in Lubbock, Texas. Then he was going to start a rape room at the United Daughters of the Confederacy in Richmond, VA. Then he was going to force all American men to gay marry each other. $240,000
  • I believe a strong missile defense is the most effective security we have against-- ok, sorry. I gotta stop here. Laughing too hard
Not bad huh? $720,000 in just a few minutes. See how much fun this is?? Armstrong Williams didn't know the half. Why would he stop with No Child Left Behind? This is a cash cow, people. And it's good for progressives, especially black ones. See, once I start elevating my conservative profile, my audience and cache will increase. I'll start performing at Heritage Foundation dinners and attending groundbreaking ceremonies for The Moral Majority. I'll get my own talk show and syndicated column. I will make millions of dollars, which will make me a black millionaire! Then maybe I will be appointed to the Cabinet and prove, by my sole example, that black people are treated as equals, that poor people have opportunity, that evolution is bullshit! It will be so much fun having all that money and attention and prestige. Until I get caught.