Perception of Obama float worth conversation


The man in the above video, on The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC, began by talking about the children immigrating into the United States from from Honduras and Guatemala. These are children who are being sent by their parents — on a trek through strange, often dangerous regions to a destination with no familiarity or level of comfort — in hopes of offering protection from the violence at home.

But as he continued talking, it was obvious his comments had nothing to do with these children. But that sentiment had to come from an island. Surely a vast majority of those involved in a protest in Murrieta, Calif., on July 4, had to understand that those being bussed in were children — scared, confused children who had no idea where they were or why they were there.

Well, maybe they’re simply misinformed. That sort of thing happens all the time, you know, with the liberal media twisting everything before we hear it.

Let’s give this guy a shot.

OK, three strikes. I’m done.

Perhaps racism does still exist. Perhaps people still ignorantly hate others based upon the difference of their skin color.

So, perhaps it’s not hard to understand why Glory Kathurima’s gut reaction to a float (below) in the 4th of July Parade in Norfolk, Neb., was that the float was rooted in racism.


Wait, drop the perhaps. It’s not hard to understand at all.

I, myself, work in Norfolk. I’ve lived in the area my entire life.

Diversity isn’t exactly one of the selling points.

The 2010 census listed 88 percent of the city’s population as white, with just 1.6 percent of the population being African American.  And that 1.6 percent was up from the 1.16 percent as of the 2000 census.

Leave Norfolk, and diversity becomes even more hard to find.

For that white majority, it’s easy to say racism isn’t an issue. After all, when 990 of the people in a room look like you, there’s not much discomfort.

But if you’re one of the 10 who look a little different, eyes are likely to be drawn your way. That’s human nature, not racism.

But that’s not to say racism doesn’t exist in Northeast Nebraska.

Largely aimed at a growing Hispanic population while I was growing up, comments aimed at the growing minority weren’t uncommon among those my age. But they weren’t uncommon among the adults around us either. And it was certainly rare that an adult would put a stop to the comments being made, even if that adult didn’t agree with what was being said.

But the comments didn’t stop with Hispanics.

After all, when your entire audience is white, you’re not going to offend anyone.

But we should all be offended when skin color is looked at as the defining point of a person.

If someone starts a story with, “I was at Target this morning, and there were these two black ladies there,” stop them. Ask them why the ladies’ skin color is of any significance in the story.


Because it’s not. It never is.

Chances are, if that person would have been at Target an hour later, the same story that followed the race-dropping opening line could have begun  with, “I was at Target this morning, and there were these two white ladies there.”

Yeah, I know it’s subtle. It’s not telling a legal immigrant to go back to Mexico simply because we’ve heard others say the same. It’s not assuming the black man on the other side of the street has a gun because Tupac was shot.

But the comments — whether blatant or subtle — create perceptions, and those perceptions lead to tension — especially when the glances of perception aren’t coming from your eyes but are directed toward your presence.

Again, when you’re one of those 10 in a room of 1,000, whether your discomfort is real or perceived, it’s there.

That’s why the float in Saturday’s parade was easily perceived as a racial shot at President Obama, especially before the float’s creator — Dale Remmich — claimed three days later that the zombie-like figure attached to the outhouse was a depiction of himself rather than our president.

Like Kathurima, my initial reaction was that the figure on the float represented President Obama. The zombie-like figure on the float, when I saw it, reminded me of the old “cotton picker” caricatures.

And, even having read what Remmich said, it’s hard to deny the resemblance.

Having said that, Remmich should be taken at his word. After all, if a man makes a claim, it should be taken at face value until proven otherwise.

But the growing social-media sentiment that the float shouldn’t even have been perceived as racist is ridiculous — regardless of one’s political views.

The divisive political state of our country, which seems to expand on a daily basis, is impossible to deny. And while many of those who disagree with President Obama do so because of his political views and/or presidential record, a larger number than are willing to admit still haven’t come to terms with the idea of a black president with a Muslim-sounding name.

For example, the guy in the anti-America, anti-Christian, anti-white video above.

Like him or not, our American-born Christian president with a white mother and black father is none of those.

But the drum has been beaten long enough that perception, to some, has become reality.

So discounting a perception based on the initial reaction of another to a moment filled with the elements of the perception while simultaneously living in a reality based on a perception that has been factually discounted seems a bit insensitive.

And maybe that’s the point.


Happy breakfast pastries built Sammy Sosa

Man, I loved 1998.

While I was probably the only Saved by the Bell fan still doing the sprain, I wasn’t the only one watching Sammy Sosa.

Fingers forehead, fingers chest, fingers chest, fingers lips. Blow kiss.

Man, that was cool.

I still mimic Sosa when I make a good grocery purchase. Shredded lettuce for $0.49, circle the story with a mini American flag.

That’s what I do. I celebrate the little things in life.

Clothes folded. Time for champagne.

Nails clipped. Fireworks.

You don’t even want to know what I do when the lawn gets mowed.

But that’s not to say my mind doesn’t wax nostalgia occasionally. Yep, the wonders of the 1998 baseball season are only rivaled by the years of Kevin Arnold’s adolescence.

‘Member Winnie Cooper?

I do.

Alice does, too. Especially when school ends until autumn.

Leaves fall, minds wander. 1998 is no longer.

That’s my latest poem. Don’t look for it on Amazon. It’s too good.

Sammy Sosa was too good. Especially in June of 1998, when he hit his 18th homer of the month on June 24.

That’s 18 homers in 24 days. FOX hasn’t even given us a pace like that, and they’ve aired The Simpsons since before Al Gore invented the internet.

Thanks, Al, by the way. The internet is pretty handy.

Ever grateful handy was coined before footy? I am.

Think about it.

Wow, the rail on these stairs is very footy.

That’s a confusing sentence. It might lead a young one to believe that the rail was made for feet. And that might lead to an attempt to walk down the stairs on a head.

And that, like a jobless republican, probably wouldn’t work. Wouldn’t stop complaining about other illogical methods for navigating stairs, but wouldn’t try to alleviate the problem either.

Sorry, paycheck writers, that’s your party. Cry if you want to.

Just don’t expect Charlie Brown to pick up the right laundry detergent. You’ll tell him to bring Cheer, he’ll grab Tide.

Then he’ll miss the football. Get back up, Chuck. Try it again.

One of these times you’ll kick that son of a gun.

Ever laugh at that phrase? I have. I have because guns can’t have sons. They lack reproductive organs.

They’re like tables. Only they can shoot stuff. Ever try shooting a table?

It has no trigger.

And I doubt your hand is large enough to grip it. You’ll never shoot a table.

Neither will I.

I also won’t eat Pop Tarts. They lack flavor. They also lack personality.

Toaster Strudels are full of charm. They’re creative and clever. Colorful, insightful.

Pop Tarts are dull. They just pop out of the toaster, stare at you and say nothing.

And that makes me sad.

I don’t like being sad. I prefer being happy.

So, with Pop Tarts erased from my mind, I’ll end this post. And I’ll end it in a state of happiness.

The kind of happiness that can’t be duplicated.

The kind of happiness that comes from a Toaster Strudel.

Barney was a big brown Spice Girl

Before I ask you to hear me out, I want to acknowledge that the following is merely opinion.
I have gathered no information, and I plan on gathering no information to support my claim. I don’t think that’s a necessary part of journalism anymore.
The internet has taught me that.
The internet has also taught me that cats who play the piano are the cat’s meow while simultaneously confusing me about the ability of a cat to be the meow of another cat. That’s like saying that Ron is Randy’s word.
I say word and not voice because, I don’t believe it’s possible to simplify a cat to the point where you only credit it for thinking “meow.”
While annoying, selfish and demanding, cats are pretty clever beings. There’s a lot more than a little meow going on in their minds.
I like to think of cats as little, furry people wannabes. Like Spice Girls.
They tell me what they want, what they really, really want. And I zig-a-zig, oh.
I don’t, however, think they want to be my lover. I don’t think they’re capable of love.
That’s like saying the Nebraska football program is capable of once again being what it was in the 1990s. Sorry, Husker fans, that ship has sailed.
Straight out of Port Omaha. That’s it, I’m starting a band. I’m calling it Port Omaha.
Thinking we’ll have a bluesy sound with some grunge undertones and the occasional hip-hop hook. That way I can feature talented female singers like Adele and the little kids who sang with Barney on Barney and Friends.
I’ll do that for the Google effect. The what?
The Google effect. It’s that thing that happens when somebody sees something or someone they believe they recognize, but they’re not quite sure why or from where.
So they pull out there phone and  Google.
Barney’s kids will lead to millions of Googles. So many Googles, in fact, that when others Google Barney, my videos will be at the top of the search.
Curious, they’ll click on the links to see what exactly Port Omaha is. And they’ll be met with lyrics like these.
“In the 1990s, the Huskers walked the field. Miami, FSU, man, they refused to yield.
But it’s 2014, and that ship has sailed. Looks like Girl Meets World was a show that failed.
But there’s no need to fear, and there’s no need to cry.
Give me 20 minutes, I’ll serve you a fry.
Or more than that if you prefer, bet you can’t eat just one.
I know that is a chip slogan, but chips ain’t no fun.
They’re crunchy, salty full of calories and fat.
Bananas, apples, strawberries are where it’s at.
Feeling healthy eating fruits, eating fruits for health.
Watch your checkbook balance, save, increase your wealth.
If you don’t the folks at Walmart might ask you.
To stand atop their building and call yourself Drew.
Not Drew Brees or Tom Brady or any quarterback.
Nickelback’s ridiculous, won’t cut them no slack.
But I will say they’re a step or two in front of Creed.
Labeling your music Christian out of greed.
I don’t need that, I don’t want that, I don’t think that’s good.
Joey Gladstone asked if my shoes were made of wood.
Except he sounded funny, mouth was full of sauerkraut.
Come on Joey, knock it off. Man, cut it out.
I won’t have mercy just because that last line was bad.
But I won’t pin a rose on your nose, that was just a fad.
And don’t mispronounce ice cream just to get a laugh.
It’s dairy, it’s not Austrian — unless it’s half and half.
My song is ending now even though I forgot.
To speak of what I needed to regarding blood clots.
But that’s all right, it’s all right, it’s all right.
I move in mysterious ways.”
I love it when my flow is fresh like that. That brilliance — the brilliance you just read — came without pause. Because that’s who I am, and it’s what I do.
I put words together. Words that seemingly have no business being together become family in my mind. Thorn becomes the cousin of radish. Taco and carpet become brothers. Ostrich and miracle sisters.
Because we’re all in search of a miraculous ostrich reunion in Guam. Right?
OK, so maybe you’re not. But I am. And that’s what gets me out of bed in the morning.
That, and Trix. Because they’re not just for kids.

Running in the moment

He wouldn’t stop running.

Feet slowing, body weakening and mind wandering, his eyes remained steady.  Unwavering; he was undaunted by the forces that begged him to stop.

He couldn’t stop. He wouldn’t let them beat him.

Every failure needed reconciliation, and this was his moment.

So he ran with it.

Three #American Gs . . .

God. Guns. Gays.

The three Gs of modern-day America.

Hijacked by the pursuit of money — and somehow attached to each other — they’re three of the main components making equality non-existent in reality.

And convinced that God wants them to have guns and hate gays, the masses who have been brainwashed by a series of false prophets continually let a political party’s ability to hijack Christianity from God take food away from children.

Don’t believe me?

The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Annually, that translates into a $15,000 pre-tax income.

It would be difficult for a person to support him or herself on $15,000 a year. Add a kid or two into the equation and you add the need for another job or a reduction in hours to qualify for more federal assistance.

Then comes the proverbial rock and hard place.

The rock says two full-time jobs would gross $30,000 per year, making it slightly less difficult to provide for those kids. The hard place says two full-time jobs would mean less involvement as  a parent, making it easier for those kids to fall through the cracks.

Of course, that minimum-wage job could simply be the bottom rung of a ladder. Work hard for 10 years, and there’s sure to be a shot at an assistant manager position and the $12 an hour that comes with it. Maybe, at least. Maybe not.

I don’t know.

But I do know those prophets have told me — and then reminded me — that taking a little federal help in order to be a more active parent simply means I’m lazy. All I want to do is sit in the recliner, eat food-stamp Doritos and flip through the 472 channels I get because I couldn’t possibly understand how to eliminate DirecTV from my government-funded budget.

I think I believe them, but I especially want the Big Ten Network. So I’ve got to get two jobs.

Yeah, these guys know what they’re talking about. Anyone not willing to work for BTN is a parasite. And that whole universal health care thing?

How could you possibly think it’s OK for your children to have the same access to health care mine have? I mean, I’ve got two full-time jobs and BTN. All you’ve got is a 27-hour-a-week shift at Denny’s and a Roku.

Think my kids have earned a bit more, don’t you?

And, God knows, after you have my insurance you’re going to go after my BTN. That’s simply crossing the line.

Besides, the work I do at both my jobs doesn’t do anything to pad the pockets of corporate executives. I couldn’t possibly imagine greed or corruption being issues for people who have climbed the ladder of the American dream by working hard, taking their vitamins and saying their prayers.

Aside from a few chance encounters at Hulkamania conventions, how do I know they’re saying their prayers?

Because those politicians receiving their donations are always talking about God. And they’re always telling us what God wants.

You know, stuff like wage inequality and an NRA gold card and discrimination because of sexual orientation.

Now, I’m not the most avid Bible reader in the world, but I think I remember something about where Jesus turned his back on everyone who didn’t follow him while promoting violence, asking us to put ourselves before others and encouraging us to avoid humility at all costs.

I’m not sure, but I think he did. Besides, we have honest, hard-working Christians like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson — none who have misled the public about their faith or really have anything to gain by doing spreading the message — telling us what God wants and why it’s important that we refuse to acknowledge the views or beliefs of those who are not like-minded.

And that’s what the Tea Party is all about, right? Just a bunch of God-fearing, unyielding folks who believe in the value of hard work and family.

Oh, and individual rights. They’re always talking about how the government is stripping us of our rights.

So I think the perceived hypocrisy of pushing for more government involvement within the walls of our homes while asking the government to do less to ensure that hard work is rewarded at every level is simply a misunderstanding. Perhaps even irony.

It’s not that these guys detest the idea of two men spending their lives together in a committed, loving relationship. They just feel that allowing people who aren’t like them to have the same rights as them is an infringement upon the rights of those who are like them.

Kind of like how protecting the freedom of religion for Muslims or Jews is an attack on Christianity. I think Jesus said something about that, too.

And I think he probably mentioned something about the importance of gun ownership and protecting the rights of gun owners. You know, so you could simply pull out your Oozy or AK-47 when facing death instead of being forced to proclaim him as your savior on the spot.

Guns give us time to figure out how that proclamation will go down. They also give us time to show our love for Jesus by denying rights to people whose genetics are slightly different than ours by hiding behind the mask of a 120-year old term loosely connected to 2,000-year-old text.

Besides, it’s that genetic difference that threatens the American family.

It’s definitely not guns.

And it absolutely can’t be the overworked single mom who is unable to spend time with her kids because of a pair of minimum-wage jobs that also serve to line the pockets of an extremely wealthy man who gives back by providing salaries for lobbyists who tell of the importance of gun ownership and the threat homosexuality poses to those who aren’t homosexual.

And then he reminds us how both are vital for the survival of Christianity (and, perhaps, yacht sales).

Yep, think that’s exactly how Jesus drew it up.




Hey, #Belding, go shoot your hopes and dreams . . .

You’ll have to excuse Nebraskans for terrible bracket performances this year.

See, we’ve been through the lifetime of a first-time driver since the last time Nebraska’s basketball team reached the NCAA tournament. That’s 16 years.

The last time the Huskers played in the tournament, diapers were made of cloth and the only way to get a close shave was to go to the barber.

OK, it hasn’t been that long. But cellular telephones were a luxury that only the likes of Zack Morris could afford. That blond Tom Cruise.

So pardon Nebraskans for pinning their hopes and dreams on the reconciliation of 16-consecutive hopeless springs. It’s not our fault that we didn’t understand Mr. Belding’s call for us to shoot our hopes and dreams had nothing to do with making our picks.

Or anything in the real world, for that matter.

But not only were the Cubs fans of NCAA basketball given a reason to come out of our basements for the first time since Y2K scared us downstairs, we were lured in even further by the Creighton trap.

Yep, our little brother — the one with the good job, the pretty girl, the sweet cars, the cool neck tattoo and the vacation home in the Ozarks (because, you know, the Ozarks are the coolest place in the world to Nebraskans) — was going to be waiting for us in round two (Oops, it’s the third round now). And, if we played our cards (or basketball) right, we’d be able to steal his cars, sweep his pretty girl off her feet and laugh at his stupid neck tattoo.

We never thought they were cool to begin with.

Of course we were going to pick Nebraska to beat Baylor. Asking us not to would’ve been like asking Jem not to be truly outrageous.

Nobody would dare do that.

So we all picked the Huskers, thinking that — despite the ghosts of tournaments past that fueled losses to Pennsylvania and Xavier and one of those stupid New Mexico teams — the idea of a Nebraska-Creighton matchup in the NCAA tournament was not truly outrageous.

Going a step further, even if our brains told us otherwise, how could we pick Nebraska to lose to Creighton? Even if they did meet, and Doug McDermott scored 137 points to lead Creighton to a win, the mirror would have served as a haunting reminder of that our image bears more of a resemblance to Benedict Arnold than Jason Priestley.

Oh, right, it’s not the ’90s anymore. Priestley isn’t America’s heartthrob.

Sixteen years, man, give me a break. I don’t even know what a Justin Bieber is or if I really need Miley Cyrus detection for my computer. I am — we are — stuck.

But after Nebraska beat Creighton and then topped the same Wisconsin team it got past in the season finale to secure a tournament berth, we’d no longer be stuck. We’d be in the Elite Eight — where anything is possible.

But, as Nebraska coach Tim Miles slowly exited the arena following the oddest ejection in the history of Nebraska basketball, we realized our bar was too high. We had forgotten that Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Yep, we got ahead of ourselves. We put Facebook before MySpace. MySpace before Hotmail.

We jumped on Twitter, told the world of our greatness and forgot to use a hashtag. Didn’t even know what hashtags were, most of us thinking they were the cards used  by customers at herbal medical outlets in neighboring Colorado.

And here we are now, staring at a bracket was shattered when Nebraska was penciled into the Elite Eight but could still be saved by the fact that Mercer is written into the Sweet 16.

It’s kind of like that new Alanis Morrisette song. What’s that called?

Oh yeah, Ironic. That one.

Yep, kind of like that.

Not really, but kind of.

Croutons, lard and rotary phones (Madness)


I’m going to step back here — get a little less serious.

Frankly, I’m not a serious guy. I’m so not serious that I find it difficult to believe any parents would name their son Frank Lee.

I also don’t understand a salad without croutons. Lettuce is OK, but the crunch factor provided by croutons is a must.

No croutons in your pantry?

I might let you slide with some crumbled crackers or Doritos. But not both.

And do people even have pantries anymore? Are they like rotary phones?

You know, grandma displayed them both with pride — her polished phone and her spotless pantry.

“Need to make a call?” she’d ask. “Come watch me methodically turn the slotted wheel on my phone.  Need a snack? I might have some Werther’s Originals in the pantry. Follow me while I grab them and point out all the other healthy options available to you. Just be careful not to knock over one of the 10 buckets of lard on the floor. I need that stuff.”

Pantries, rotary phones and lard. How I miss you.

When the three of you were a part of my life, everything was so simple. And croutons were always around.

That’s not the case anymore. Somewhere between He-Man’s final battle with Skeletor and Ruby’s last straw being pulled when Max left his right slipper in the kitchen, the world turned its back on croutons.

No, I’ll never get over it. But I will try and move on.

I’ve been trying.

But when something doesn’t go my way, my blame finger (left pinky) always points at how the world discarded croutons without regard. The world — and its lack of respect for a crunchy salad — is always at fault.DSC_0386

So, world, when I look at my NCAA tournament bracket, I blame you.

You’re the reason I didn’t go with my gut when I saw North Dakota State’s insanely high field-goal percentage matched up against an Oklahoma team that tends to rely on the 3-pointer too much. You’re the reason I let the Sooners slip through, thought they had favorable matchups through the rest of their region and would sneak into the Final Four. You’re the reason my bracket is busted.

Yep, Day 1 of the tournament, and I’m done. I’m like a crouton in a low-carb salad.

And that makes me sad.

The rest of my bracket is kind of nice to look at. My highlighter has touched the paper many more times than my Sharpie, meaning I’ve picked more games correctly than incorrectly.

I’ve nailed a couple upsets — both of which were the product of hours of studying, number-crunching and team-by-team comparisons. Ain’t no luck in my bracket, Andrew.

Name’s not Andrew? Then go watch the Indianapolis Colts. That’s right, my sentences all make sense.

They haven’t been croutoned, rotary-phoned or larded. Also haven’t been edited — like my tournament picks.

Wow, full-circle. That’s how I just brought it — like a cheerleader dominating the regional championships.

Too bad my regional championships will include, at most, seven teams and a thick blue line from the tip of my Sharpie. And we all know thick blue lines aren’t very good on the offensive glass, which is one of the keys to winning basketball games in March.

It’s also a key to winning games in November. Other months, too.

Like October or July or April or any month a basketball court is filled with players who are wearing shoes and dribbling balls — a condition that might require medical attention.

I’ve heard it’s caused by an abundance or lard, overused dialing fingers and crunch-less salad. Furthermore, there are no known cures.

And the best way to control it is to let the past go, forgive the world for its dismissal of your favorite salad topper and slide into a basketball-induced March coma.

When you wake up in April, the dribbling will still be there. But the madness that comes with it will nearly be gone.

Because, as sure as lard and rotary phones — and recognized through the lyrics of a band named after a state divided between three teams — dust is less common in today’s wind than yesterday’s crouton.

Or something like that.