Support US Freestyle Kayaking Athletes


Dear Readers, I'm back! Sorry for the hiatus, but every now and then you need time to recharge your batteries. They are now full and recharged and I've got a great line up of posts coming from some awesome stuff I had the privilege to experience this spring and summer so far.

But first, I want to put a request out there for all of you to support the US Freestyle Kayaking Team! In this economy, sponsorships for our top athletes in the lesser known Olympic level events has all but dried up. For those of you familiar with Slalom Kayaking, which is a downriver race through a whitewater course with slalom gates, Freestyle Kayaking is kind of like Freestyle Skiing with all the exciting tricks, but in whitewater. The 2009 World Championships are in August in Thun, Switzerland, and many of our US athletes need help in financing their travel to Switzerland so that they can compete.

Below is the letter from my good friend, Brian Jennings. If you've followed my blog at all, you know that Brian is the River Manager at North American River Runners in West Virginia.


We've R2-ed the Upper Gauley three times together. But he's also a world class kayaker in addition to being an awesome raft guide. He's competed professionally for most of the last decade, and this is the first time that Brian has made the World Team.

Please, if you are in a position to help at all, read his letter below and consider making a contribution to him directly. Or you can send me any dollar amount from $1 to a $100 or more at my paypal address:, and I'll get your contributions to Brian.

Thank you so much for your support!
To whom it may concern,

Greetings! My name is Brian Jennings. I am a proud member of the 2009 US Freestyle Kayak Team, and am currently attempting thru family, friends and local businesses, to raise funds to help offset the costs of traveling to the World Freestyle Kayaking Championships in Thun, Switzerland in late August.

As a professional paddler for the past 8 years, making the US Team is the result of years of hard work and dedication. Unfortunately, the state of the global economy has made travel with a kayak, and overseas lodging an expensive proposition, and made financial support from sponsors nearly impossible. Please consider making a donation today in support of my personal participation, and/or towards the entire US Freestyle Kayak Team. I would be extremely grateful for any type of support you are able to provide, including:

Cash – donation toward my personal travel & competition expenses (estimated $3000 per athlete)

Contribution of products - to be used by US Team Members in recognition of the efforts and dedication to kayaking and paddle sports

Sponsorship of a major auction item - to raffle at USA Team fundraiser at the Outdoor Retailer Convention and/or auctioned in the boater communities on-line.

Cash and product donations can be sent to me at the address below. Please contact me at regarding the donation of a major auction item.

Thank you again for your time and consideration of assisting me reach the World Championships, and I’ll look forward to hearing from you.


Brian A. Jennings
2009 US Freestyle Kayak Team
105 Francesa St, Fayetteville WV 25840
Thanks for reading!

Detours through the Universe


Billions and Billions of years ago, our universe wait...this isn't a Carl Sagan retrospective, this is my blog. Sorry about that folks, I kind of got lost in the universe.

Every once in a while normal routines in life take detours. Such has been true for me in 2009 so far, but in a good way. I will be returning to blogging on MTMD, but probably with a curtailed schedule through the year. Gone is the year of 200+ posts. On this blog at least.

So let me catch you up to date:


Inside Government is my other blog and it's developing a life of its own. In the first four months of its existence, we have been syndicated by Blogburst, built a Facebook community, and a Twitter Follower Network of close to 1200 which grows daily. The really cool thing about our Twitter Network though is that it includes United States Governors, All Major News Networks, the Los Angeles Times, CNN, personalities like Karl Rove and Bill O'Reilly, David Gregory and Nancy Pelosi's Daughter, Senators Chris Dodd and Claire McCaskill, Representative John Boehner, Governor Granholm of Michigan, Governor Arnold of California, and so many other state and local news media, television anchors, pundits and people like you and me. It's a great mix.

We're working hard on raising the bar on Inside Government and with the direction the site is taking and its growing readership, it is becoming my primary blog for a whole host of reasons. I encourage you all to check it out, especially our recent post that explains what a Trillion Dollars is even in terms that Carl Sagan would understand. And even Henson had a video that made a guest appearance with one of our posts.


International Whitewater Hall of Fame
There are a number of projects at work that take up a large portion of my time, including being the project manager for the International Whitewater Hall of Fame (IWHoF). It's one of those awesome things about working in the whitewater industry. I get to do some really cool stuff. Administering IWHoF and the Annual Election Process is one of them. But this year, we decided to revamp our website and develop a Facebook Community to extend our reach in the US and Worldwide especially. So not only is this a labor of love that I happen to get paid for, it's taken a huge part of my time that I used to spend blogging on MTMD.

We migrated from a really old and clunky website to a Wordpress-based blog platform for ease of content management. We also migrated web hosting and mail servers. There were a number of reasons for this, and every one had a time-saving and cost-saving advantage. I encourage you to check it out at The site is 100% better than it was, but we're looking forward to adding a great deal of functionality and interactivity in the coming year. We've even installed an awesome translation plug-in that automatically translates our blog into 42 languages completely in the background. It's a plus when your organization is an international one.


Nantahala Outdoor Center
This, of course, is where I work. NOC--the largest whitewater rafting and outfitting company in the United States and perhaps the world. It's truly an awesome place, and guess what, now we're getting into blogging. We've just started a few new blogs for Rafting, Fishing, a General Blog to pull all the info together, and still to come an Outfitter Store Blog. We're adding twitter, we're adding widgets, we're tweaking themes, and you guessed it, I'm in the middle of this one as well.

It's really exciting to be able to do all this awesome blogging and networking building and get paid for it, however, it IS a lot of blogging, and that's why MTMD is suffering just a little bit.

The Future of MTMD
MTMD is NOT going away, however. I'm just going to scale down a bit. I have a number of posts to make, or to incorporate into other posts, such as this one:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM! Yes, today is my mother's birthday. It's also the Ides of March, so Beware the Ides of March!


I also have a few coffee reviews to post. Recently I was lucky enough to receive a pound of 100% Kona Coffee and a pound of 100% Jamaican Blue Coffee. I guess if you blog about coffee, coffee distributors appreciate you tipping your mug to them, and I'm happy to write honest reviews and express my thanks for the generosity of these distributors every chance I get. Thank you Chad! The reviews will be up soon.

Plus the usual mix of content that MTMD is known for, as well as the honoring of the next Pulsar.

However, in terms of dropping cards, there just isn't enough time in the day. That doesn't mean I won't visit EntreCard blogs any more, of course I'll still read my favorites. But I can't take two hours out of my day to drop 600 Cards, and with Graham's new EntreCard economy, it looks like Inside Government will be dropped from EntreCard anyway because on a site like that, I just can't put the EntreCard widget above the fold. Dropping 300 cards is more manageable, but still a major time committment. I will try to drop on my favorites at least a few times a week though.

So that's where we are, where I've been, what's been keeping me busy. Blogging, twittering, facebook community building. Oh, and Twilight.


I am absolutely hooked on Twilight. I've read the first two books and I'm halfway through the third. I am captivated by the story that is unfolding, the unique take on the vampire/werewolf lore, and like Snow Falling on Cedars, the incredibly palpable atmosphere that permeates every page of the writing. There's a lot to admire in the Twilight series and I can't wait for the second movie.

So, what have all of you been up to? Ken, Amy, Rox, Margaret, Ms. Mecomber? I do miss you guys.

Thanks for reading.

Matt's Oscar Predictions


Now that I have seen all the nominated pictures for Oscars this year, it's time to take a stab at predicting the results. As it's very rare for anyone to get them all right, I definitely expect some surprises come February. But for now, let's engage in the discussion and the dissent and the fun. My picks are in bold. Do you agree with my choices? I'd love to hear your views!

Performance by an actor in a leading role
While Mickey Rourke revived his career with a win in the Golden Globes and his performance was in deed dazzling, Oscar tends to favor more serious fare. Not only was Frost/Nixon an amazing motion picture encapsulating a key time period in American History, every performance in this movie was award-worthy. Frank Langella turned in the performance of his life as Richard Nixon and I predict he'll upset both Mickey Rourke and Academy Award Winner Sean Penn for Milk.

* Richard Jenkins in "The Visitor" (Overture Films)
* Frank Langella in "Frost/Nixon" (Universal)
* Sean Penn in "Milk" (Focus Features)
* Brad Pitt in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Paramount and Warner Bros.)
* Mickey Rourke in "The Wrestler" (Fox Searchlight)

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Every performance in this category is deserving of an Oscar win, but this is the year of the Joker. Heath Ledger will win, and expect a fitting tribute for this actor who's life tragically ended far too soon.

* Josh Brolin in "Milk" (Focus Features)
* Robert Downey Jr. in "Tropic Thunder" (DreamWorks, Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount)
* Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Doubt" (Miramax)
* Heath Ledger in "The Dark Knight" (Warner Bros.)
* Michael Shannon in "Revolutionary Road" (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount Vantage)

Performance by an actress in a leading role
Six-time Oscar nominee Kate Winslet emerged as the favorite to win this year following her double-victory at the Golden Globes. She is also the sentimental favorite to win after being denied for so long. No one has been Oscar-nominated more without a win than Kate. Expect that distinction to end this go-round. While Anne Hathaway gives a breakout performance in "Rachel Getting Married," the feeling in Hollywood is simply it's Kate's turn. Oscar Winner Angelina Jolie's performance in "Changeling" is not as weighty as Winslet's. Meryl Streep's performance in "Doubt," while excellent, does not rate with her Oscar-nominated role for the "Devil Wears Prada." If there is to be an upset, it may come from Melissa Leo's nuanced performance in "Frozen River," but that remains a longshot. Expect Winslet to take home the Oscar as much for her body of work as her brilliant performance in The Reader.

* Anne Hathaway in "Rachel Getting Married" (Sony Pictures Classics)
* Angelina Jolie in "Changeling" (Universal)
* Melissa Leo in "Frozen River" (Sony Pictures Classics)
* Meryl Streep in "Doubt" (Miramax)
* Kate Winslet in "The Reader" (The Weinstein Company)

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
This category is wide open since Kate Winslet's performance in The Reader has been put in with the Lead Actress Category instead of the Supporting Category for which she competed in the Golden Globes. Doubt's dynamic duo of Amy Adams and Viola Davis will probably take away Support for Amy Adams. Davis' role was outstanding, but far too short for true contention. Oscar Winner Mrisa Tomei turned in a stellar performance for The Wrestler, but this category should come down to Taraji P. Henson's multi-nuanced performance as Brad Pitt's mother in Benjamin Button and Penelope Cruz in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. I predict it will be a good night for Benjamin Button.

* Amy Adams in "Doubt" (Miramax)
* Penélope Cruz in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" (The Weinstein Company)
* Viola Davis in "Doubt" (Miramax)
* Taraji P. Henson in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Paramount and Warner Bros.)
* Marisa Tomei in "The Wrestler" (Fox Searchlight)

Best animated feature film of the year
When Pixar is on their game, no one can compete with them. WALL-E is even a better bet than Heath Ledger.

*"Bolt" (Walt Disney) Chris Williams and Byron Howard
*"Kung Fu Panda" (DreamWorks Animation, Distributed by Paramount) John Stevenson and Mark Osborne
*"WALL-E" (Walt Disney) Andrew Stanton

Achievement in art direction
This is one of those categories that Oscar likes to reward pictures that didn't quite make it to the Best Picture Category. With it's innovative and completely original sets and art direction, The Dark Knight should do well here, but all pictures in this category are worthy. Benjamin Button might ride the wave of its most nominated status, and Revolutionary Road could also win as a consolation prize. The Duchess has an outside shot, but period pieces such as this one have been much honored in the past.

*"Changeling" (Universal) Art Direction: James J. Murakami
Set Decoration: Gary Fettis
*"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Paramount and Warner Bros.) Art Direction: Donald Graham Burt
Set Decoration: Victor J. Zolfo
*"The Dark Knight" (Warner Bros.) Art Direction: Nathan Crowley
Set Decoration: Peter Lando

*"The Duchess" (Paramount Vantage, Pathé and BBC Films) Art Direction: Michael Carlin Set Decoration: Rebecca Alleway
*"Revolutionary Road" (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount Vantage) Art Direction: Kristi Zea Set Decoration: Debra Schutt

Achievement in cinematography
There's a strong correlation between Best Picture and Best Cinematography. I think The Reader is poised to be the upset film of the night and take the highest honors.

*"Changeling" (Universal) Tom Stern
*"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Paramount and Warner Bros.) Claudio Miranda
*"The Dark Knight" (Warner Bros.) Wally Pfister
*"The Reader" (The Weinstein Company) Chris Menges and Roger Deakins
*"Slumdog Millionaire" (Fox Searchlight) Anthony Dod Mantle

Achievement in costume design
Kate Winslet particularly was stunning in the 1950s costumes created for Revolutionary Road. The entire cast looked 50s sharp.

*"Australia" (20th Century Fox) Catherine Martin
*"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Paramount and Warner Bros.) Jacqueline West
*"The Duchess" (Paramount Vantage, Pathé and BBC Films) Michael O'Connor
*"Milk" (Focus Features) Danny Glicker
*"Revolutionary Road" (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount Vantage) Albert Wolsky

Achievement in directing
It's rare when Best Director does NOT go to the film that wins Best Picture. This year will be no exception.

*"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Paramount and Warner Bros.) David Fincher
*"Frost/Nixon" (Universal) Ron Howard
*"Milk" (Focus Features) Gus Van Sant
*"The Reader" (The Weinstein Company) Stephen Daldry
*"Slumdog Millionaire" (Fox Searchlight) Danny Boyle

Achievement in film editing
For all you Benjamin Button fans, the movie was just two darn long! The whole theater thought so Saturday night. But this is a close category. Because of the amazing action sequences, I give the nod to The Dark Knight, but Milk may win for some of the crowd sequences and Slumdog Millionaire is also in the running for the juxtaposition of the Millionaire game show and real life in India.

*"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Paramount and Warner Bros.) Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
*"The Dark Knight" (Warner Bros.) Lee Smith
*"Frost/Nixon" (Universal) Mike Hill and Dan Hanley
*"Milk" (Focus Features) Elliot Graham
*"Slumdog Millionaire" (Fox Searchlight) Chris Dickens

Best foreign language film of the year
I have not seen any of these, but if you judge by the amount of previews, then I would think "The Class" is the front runner. But the Golden Globe Winner, "Waltz with Bashir" is my pick. I just think the foreign press knows something about foreign films.

* "The Baader Meinhof Complex" A Constantin Film Production - Germany
* "The Class" (Sony Pictures Classics) A Haut et Court Production - France
* "Departures" (Regent Releasing) A Departures Film Partners Production - Japan
* "Revanche" (Janus Films) A Prisma Film/Fernseh Production - Austria
* "Waltz with Bashir" (Sony Pictures Classics) A Bridgit Folman Film Gang Production - Israel

Achievement in makeup
Button was superlative, but The Dark Knight will win.

*"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Paramount and Warner Bros.) Greg Cannom
*"The Dark Knight" (Warner Bros.) John Caglione, Jr. and Conor O'Sullivan
*"Hellboy II: The Golden Army" (Universal) Mike Elizalde and Thom Floutz

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
Button nearly put me to sleep. Elfman's Milk score was genius, but the originality of Slumdog Millionaire should carry the night.

*"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Paramount and Warner Bros.) Alexandre Desplat
*"Defiance" (Paramount Vantage) James Newton Howard
*"Milk" (Focus Features) Danny Elfman
*"Slumdog Millionaire" (Fox Searchlight) A.R. Rahman
*"WALL-E" (Walt Disney) Thomas Newman

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
I think the voting will be split for the Slumdog selections, allowing WALL-E a win.

*"Down to Earth" from "WALL-E" (Walt Disney) Music by Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman
Lyric by Peter Gabriel

*"Jai Ho" from "Slumdog Millionaire" (Fox Searchlight) Music by A.R. Rahman
Lyric by Gulzar
*"O Saya" from "Slumdog Millionaire" (Fox Searchlight) Music and Lyric by A.R. Rahman and Maya Arulpragasam

Best motion picture of the year
Benjamin Button is a sentimental film, but it's not really Oscar worthy. Plus it's just way too long. Milk and Frost/Nixon represent US history well, and in every way Frost/Nixon is more serious, more weighty, and funnier than Benjamin Button, but it seems to be missing the gravitas necessary for Oscar. Slumdog Millionaire swept the Golden Globes, but America likes to honor Holocaust films, and The Reader is a powerhouse with acclaimed acting performances by all three leads. I'll be betting on The Reader to achieve for Stephen Daldry what he almost achieved with "The Hours" in 2003.

*"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Paramount and Warner Bros.)
A Kennedy/Marshall Production Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall and Ceán Chaffin, Producers
*"Frost/Nixon" (Universal)
A Universal Pictures, Imagine Entertainment and Working Title Production Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Eric Fellner, Producers
*"Milk" (Focus Features)
A Groundswell and Jinks/Cohen Company Production Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen, Producers
*"The Reader" (The Weinstein Company)
A Mirage Enterprises and Neunte Babelsberg Film GmbH Production Nominees to be determined

*"Slumdog Millionaire" (Fox Searchlight)
A Celador Films Production Christian Colson, Producer

Achievement in sound editing
Toss up between The Dark Knight and WALL-E. I choose WALL-E.

*"The Dark Knight" (Warner Bros.) Richard King
*"Iron Man" (Paramount and Marvel Entertainment) Frank Eulner and Christopher Boyes
*"Slumdog Millionaire" (Fox Searchlight) Tom Sayers
*"WALL-E" (Walt Disney) Ben Burtt and Matthew Wood
*"Wanted" (Universal) Wylie Stateman

Achievement in sound mixing
The same. Again I choose WALL-E.

*"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Paramount and Warner Bros.) David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Mark Weingarten
*"The Dark Knight" (Warner Bros.) Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo and Ed Novick
*"Slumdog Millionaire" (Fox Searchlight) Ian Tapp, Richard Pryke and Resul Pookutty
*"WALL-E" (Walt Disney) Tom Myers, Michael Semanick and Ben Burtt
*"Wanted" (Universal) Chris Jenkins, Frank A. Montaño and Petr Forejt

Achievement in visual effects
Grafting Brad Pitt's face on to different bodies was an impressive and difficult achievement. I'm going to choose Benjamin Button in this category, but I wouldn't be surprised if The Dark Knight won.

*"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Paramount and Warner Bros.) Eric Barba, Steve Preeg, Burt Dalton and Craig Barron
*"The Dark Knight" (Warner Bros.) Nick Davis, Chris Corbould, Tim Webber and Paul Franklin
*"Iron Man" (Paramount and Marvel Entertainment) John Nelson, Ben Snow, Dan Sudick and Shane Mahan

Adapted screenplay
Button was too long. The Reader hit all the right notes.

*"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Paramount and Warner Bros.) Screenplay by Eric Roth
Screen story by Eric Roth and Robin Swicord
*"Doubt" (Miramax) Written by John Patrick Shanley
*"Frost/Nixon" (Universal) Screenplay by Peter Morgan
*"The Reader" (The Weinstein Company) Screenplay by David Hare
*"Slumdog Millionaire" (Fox Searchlight) Screenplay by Simon Beaufoy

Original screenplay
This is the category where Milk gets its due. Although, after a surprise win at the Golden Globes, In Bruges may score an upset; and as brilliant as WALL-E was, the Academy may see fit to recognize the animated film here where it is loathe to do in the Best Picture Category.

*"Frozen River" (Sony Pictures Classics) Written by Courtney Hunt
*"Happy-Go-Lucky" (Miramax) Written by Mike Leigh
*"In Bruges" (Focus Features) Written by Martin McDonagh
*"Milk" (Focus Features) Written by Dustin Lance Black
*"WALL-E" (Walt Disney) Screenplay by Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon
Original story by Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter

Thanks for reading!

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Generated By Technorati Tag Generator

Music Monday: My Love

Thanks for reading.

Historic Days, Historic Challenges, Guarded Optimism


Unlike most Americans, I'm not letting myself get caught up in the emotion of the day. Instead, I'm trying to keep perspective as the weight of the overwhelming historic challenges that face us as a nation are as clearly in front of us as they were when they first emerged during the last days of the Presidential Campaign last October. It's hard not to want to celebrate this historic day, but perhaps it's a little easier for me because Sunday night I received a big dose of perspective.

On the 11:00 News Sunday night, it was reported that a Citgo Gas Station in Asheville, North Carolina, was robbed at gun point. The armed robber did not harm anyone. In fact, as he reached over the counter to take the $400 in cash out of the open register drawer, he apologized to the cashier and said: "I'm sorry, I need the money to feed my family." The owner of the Citgo Gas Station was interviewed on the newscast and said that he felt sorry for the man. I feel sorry for the man and I actually surprised myself in hoping he wouldn't be caught. Americans are hurting. Unemployment is rapidly rising. Home foreclosures reached record levels in December. And despite the hundreds of billions of dollars the federal government is pouring into the economy, we keep plunging deeper and deeper into recession. It's hard not to identify with the armed robber at some level, or at least wonder what you or I would do if we found ourselves out of work, unable to pay our mortgages, facing the loss of our homes and wondering what we could do just to feed our children.

Another reason why I'm not caught up in the emotion of the day is my personal outrage on the spending that is taking place for the inauguration. Yesterday I posted a breakdown of the monies that are being spent over on Inside Government. At least $150 Million will be spent for this year's inauguration. I just think that that kind of spending is inappropriate when so many people are hurting and the government is burning money as if it was heating oil and we were still living in an ice age instead of confronted with massive climate change from global warming. I just feel that such largesse sends the wrong message and sets the wrong tone for the new Administration when the economic climate is so poor.

It's not that I don't understand or appreciate the historic nature of the day. I am so proud to be an American, and I am especially proud that so many different ethnic groups have come together for the goal of electing Barack Obama president. Not because I supported Obama as my choice for President, because I didn't. But because for so long our country has been splintered in so many ways by politics and ethnic mistrust as usual. If we are to be a nation, then we need to be united as a nation. We need to respect each other. We need to be tolerant of different cultural traditions and religious practices and sexual orientations. All of the differences that keep us at arms length from each other should be regarded as strengths of diversity and opinion that bring us together and make us stronger. And once the campaigns have ended, and our leaders have been elected for better or for worse, it's incumbent on all of us to come together as a nation and support our government. We need to be a nation, not a fractured population of red states or blue states.

This does not mean that we can not express differences of opinion--we must continue to do so or our democracy will fail. However, once a decision has been made, we need to be adult enough to move on and not hold grudges or cling to old symbols but instead step up to the plate of the next challenge and continue to work for the change that we desire and continue to make our voices heard--whether through blogging, political activism, letter writing to our elected representatives, or even conversations around the water cooler or on our facebook pages.

We must come together. And, on most levels, that is what is happening today in Washington as our country swears into office our 44th President--the first black man to be elected to the highest office in the land. This event must be celebrated, I know. Especially in conjunction with Martin Luther King Day, it's almost impossible not to be caught up in the emotion of the event. But, at least in my mind, there's a subtle difference between being caught up in real jubilation and in a mob mentality of jumping on the bandwagon.

Perhaps our nation NEEDS a reason to celebrate. News has been dire for so long, and we are all feeling the effects of the economy. I understand the need to be happy and to party and to celebrate. And if the occasion of electing the first black man in history as president and the symbolic final defeat of racism isn't such an occasion, I don't know what is. But I believe such a celebration can and should take place without the largesse.

What would have made this event perfect, considering the economic circumstances we find ourselves in, would have been for Barack Obama to scale down the Inaugural Balls. To reduce the number of them. Are TEN balls really necessary? Or, if that wasn't possible, turn them all into a charity event. If all the money that was spent on the balls could have been donated to local food banks or homeless shelters or Habitat for Humanity projects in New Orleans or something meaningful, then I believe Barack Obama would have really demonstrated what a day of volunteerism and charity really means, and he would have done what is absolutely appropriate in these economic times. But to me, spending $150 million and more, and causing this kind of money to be spent on security and infrastructure and staffing and transportation and all the other costs associated with this day when men are resorting to armed robbery in Asheville, North Carolina just to put food on the table to feed one's children is a largesse that is insensitive in so many ways to the plight of countless Americans and is a slap in the face to those that are just struggling to survive. Here. In the United States. In our own country.

I ask all my readers: How can we pour millions of dollars of aid into Gaza when Hamas doesn't want our help and believes we are as bad and immoral as Israel; when we know that given a chance, Hamas would launch rockets at our cities; and how can we spend so much on the expenses of a Presidential inauguration when Americans all over this country need that money just to put food on the table?

This is why I just can't quite jump on the Obama bandwagon at this time. As much as I appreciate the historical nature of the event that many of us thought we would never live to see, and as proud as we are that we have come this far; so many of our priorities and our choices--at least as far as spending priorities and foreign relations and aid practices are completely whacked.

Beginning this afternoon, the weight of the Presidency will fall squarely on Barack Obama's shoulders. As a nation, I believe we are up to any challenge that presents itself to us, but we need firm, unequivocal, and decisive leadership to deal with the many issues and threats that are now before us:

1) The overwhelming economic recession.
2) Extricating our nation from involvement in two wars while protecting us from terrorist attack.
3) Decisive action, not peace talks, in resolving the Israeli/Palestinian conflict once and for all without completely destabilizing the entire Middle East.
4) The question of Iranian nuclear capability.
5) Controlling and reducing a national deficit that has long since spiraled out of control.
6) Reforming Social Security and Medicare and ensuring their solvency as the babyboomers begin to retire and stress the system like it's never been stressed before.
7) Reforming our Health Care System to make health care truly affordable for all and making quality, affordable health insurance available to all United States citizens.
8) Instituting a coherent National Energy Policy that will free the United States from dependency on foreign oil and put our national security squarely back in our own control.
9) Recognizing that Global Warming and Climate Change is happening, doing all that is necessary to reduce the impacts, create a Green economy and energy policy, and to start planning now for the impacts of Sea Level Rise before all our coastal cities are put at immediate risk.
10) To restore the respect of the United States abroad and to reestablish our country as the world leader that upholds principles it once was.

Any one of these ten historic challenges would be enough for any administration to take on and struggle with to succeed. But as each administration over the past twenty years or so has failed to deal with them or put them off for the future, they now fall to Barack Obama and the team he has put in place. As most of the nation celebrates today in giddy joy at what our nation has accomplished to get to this point, I hope they realize that the real work has yet to begun. The spirit of "Yes We Can" propelled Barack Obama to the White House, but it's going to take much more of where that came from to solve any of the challenges before us. Barack Obama can not do any of it alone. He needs the unequivocal support of all those that mobilized for him, meaning that they all need to stay engaged and to keep Congress in line and supportive to tackle a massive national agenda like no other.

My fear is that expectations have been set so high for Barack Obama, that anything short of quick accomplishment of the completion of most of these ten historic challenges will be seen as failure, and that the resulting criticisms will start pouring down like the water over Niagara Falls.

My fear, if Barack Obama is not immediately successful, is that those criticisms will be perceived as racist.

My fear, if Barack Obama does not succeed and racist comments begin to fly, is a series of riots that would rival anything some of us remember from the Sixties.

And my fear, if Barack Obama does not succeed, is such a huge national emotional let down--such a huge feeling of failure and lost opportunity, such a huge national malaise that it will be very hard to find any hope or belief in our government or elected officials again. After all, if Barack Obama is indeed the greatest superstar politician that has appeared on the national stage since Kennedy or even Lincoln--as he has all but been proclaimed to be--his success will indeed echo through eternity. But if he can't live up to expectation or fulfill the promises he made to those that were galvanized to elect him and are celebrating that moment today, what depths of despair and disappointment await us?

I'm not running around giddy with joy today. But I am praying for Barack Obama's success.

Thanks for reading.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
Generated By Technorati Tag Generator