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White House Ribs

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The next President will face a financial shortfall as he tries to put the economy back on track. Universal healthcare and the vast research and development effort needed to achieve self-reliance in energy will strain a federal budget challenged by deepening recession and urgently needed tax cuts.

Worse yet... climate change will bring ever-increasing and ever-costlier droughts, heat waves, floods and agricultural shortfalls. More money than ever before will be needed to face down these challenges, but there will be much less of it to go round.

Fortunately, I have a plan.

America can capitalize on its cultural assets by creating state-owned brands based on recognizable American symbols. I think we should start with the White House.

Stained carbon-black by the clouds of smoke that choked Washington when the British burned the city to the ground in 1814, the repainted white house came to represent steely determination and America's unrivaled ability to refresh, renew and reinvent itself.

But at the same time, the President's residence emerged from the kind of rip-roaring bonfire that -- to me -- calls out for good BBQ. For this reason, I think we should establish a national chain of federally-owned rib-houses that combine fine-dining with traditional soul food.

At White House Ribs, Americans will be able to eat out while contributing to the economy and licking their fingers with patriotic satisfaction. What better way to celebrate the final, long-delayed but truly unavoidable mingling of the two greatest racial strains in American culture: the European and the African; the white and the black; Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant; Barack Obama's momma and Barack Obama's poppa?

As Sam Cooke said "it's been a long time comin'". 61 years have passed since Jackie Robinson debuted in a Dodger's uniform. But with Barack Obama finally in the White House and America chowing down on high protein there's nothing a recession can show the country that it didn't already see during Valley Forge, the Dust Bowl or the Death March to Bataan.

Hunker down now America. Make sure the family is fed, and get some good food under your belt too. Tomorrow you'll be rolling up your sleeves, and starting in.

Remember: it doesn't really matter if it takes another 60 years to fix this godawful mess. Working together -- at long last -- you're going to be able to get it all done. Jazz and barbecued ribs aside, in the coming years Africa's greatest gift to America will prove to be the ability to endure profound and prolonged suffering:

There been times when I thought, I couldn't last for long
But now I think I'm able to carry on.
It's been a long, a long time comin'
But I know change gonna come, oh yes it will.