Listen to Thorne Dreyer's two-part interview with author, journalist, and legendary satirist Paul Krassner on Rag Radio here and here. To find all shows on the Rag Radio archives, go here.'Eat, pray, be disappointed':
An open letter to Barack Obama
By Paul Krassner / The Rag Blog / October 11, 2010
Dear President Obama,
It seems that the theme emanating from the White House is “Eat, Pray, Be Disappointed.” And yet, whenever I do feel disappointed, I always realize that the alternative was John McCain, with Sarah Palin just one Halloween “Boo!” away from the presidency, and then I always feel a sense of relief.
Actually, you’ve kept one big campaign promise -- to send more troops to Afghanistan -- so I guess we can’t fault you for that. In fact, according to Bob Woodward in Obama’s Wars, all you want to do now is get out of Afghanistan. Well, why don’t you just do what Osama bin Laden did; cross over to Pakistan. Since we bribe Pakistan to be our ally, you’d think they would never consider harboring bin Laden, though they reek with empathy when our outsourced drones drop those bombs.
Also, during the campaign you said you believe that the legality of same-sex marriage should be decided by the states, but that you personally think marriage should be between a man and a woman. Which is exactly the position that caused Miss USA, Carrie Prejean, to have her crown revoked.
And another thing. You promised to end the raids on medical marijuana dispensaries, but they haven’t stopped. Here’s how I understand Washington. America’s puritanical political process serves as a buffer between the status quo and the force of evolution. For instance, in order to get Republican votes for the children’s healthcare bill, Democrats agreed to fund $28 million to their abstinence-only program.
And, during your own campaign, you admitted, in the context of health care reform, that the multinational insurance conglomeration is so firmly entrenched that you would be unable to dispense with it. So there would have to be compromises.
Now, what with the compromises made to help passage of Prop. 19, amnesty becomes the single-payer system of marijuana reform, and growing your own pot becomes the public option. Meanwhile, as long as any government can arbitrarily decide which drugs are legal and which drugs are illegal, then anyone serving time for a nonviolent drug offense is a political prisoner.
In his new book, Bob Woodward writes about Colin Powell’s status as an adviser to you. Referring to his previous book, Plan of Attack, The New York Times then reported that “Secretary of State Colin Powell disputed Woodward’s account... He said that he had an excellent relationship with Vice President Dick Cheney, and that he did not recall referring to officials at the Pentagon loyal to Cheney as the ‘Gestapo office.’”
Who among us would be unable to recall uttering such an epithet? Powell later apologized for it. He has also changed his mind about gays in the military. In my capacity as a stand-up satirist, I used to conduct an imaginary dialogue with Powell.
“General Powell, you’re the first African-American to be head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and you come from the tradition of a military family. So you know that blacks were once segregated in the Army because the other soldiers might feel uncomfortable if blacks slept in the same barracks. And now that’s what they say about gays, that other soldiers might feel uncomfortable about gays sleeping in the same barracks.”
“Well, you have to understand, we never told anybody we were black.”
And, Mr. President, that was the forerunner of the same “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that you promised to rescind, only you haven’t been acting like a Commander-in-Chief. All you have to do is sign such a directive. Those who serve in the military are trained to follow orders. If they can follow orders to kill fellow humans, they can certainly follow orders to treat openly gay service people with total equality.
Not only is the current guideline counterproductive, but also this display of trickle-down immorality must, on some level of consciousness, serve as a contributing factor to enabling the anti-gay bullying and torturing of innocent victims. I know, you don’t want to take a chance that retracting the policy would interfere with your re-election. You’ve made the point that you don’t want Mitt Romney to win in 2012 and turn around all the good things you’ve accomplished.
Incidentally, Romney had wanted to overturn Roe vs. Wade, yet, in 1994, when he was running for the Senate, he came out in favor of choice for women. However, freelance journalist Suzan Mazur revealed that he admitted to Mormon feminist Judith Dushku that “the Brethren” in Salt Lake City told him he could take a pro-choice position, and that in fact he probably had to in order to win in a liberal state like Massachusetts. Pandering trumps religious belief.
If gays and lesbians have waited this long for basic fairness, they might as well just wait for the next election. If you win, then would you kindly do immediately what you believe is right, constitutionally and in your heart, and end this injustice? The ultimate irony is that gays in the military are fighting and being maimed and dying unnecessarily, all supposedly to protect the freedom that their own country is denying them.
[In December, the writers organization PEN-West will honor Paul Krassner with their lifetime achievement award. (He beat out Levi Johnston.)]
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