RSSCategory: Obama

Scenes from Obama’s Inaugural

| January 22, 2013 | 0 Comments

Some video of Obama’s inaugural taken from the Orange section:

The Real Obama

| November 10, 2012 | 0 Comments

Compare this secretly filmed video to Romney’s “47%” video. I’m just sayin’….

The Catholic Church and the Contraceptive Rule

| February 4, 2012 | 1 Comment

I have a somewhat grudging respect for the Catholic Church’s position on reproductive issues.  Unlike many among the anti-abortion activists, the Church’s position is logically consistent.  Fundamentally, the Church holds that human life is sacred from the moment of conception through natural death and human beings should not intervene either at the beginning or the end of life.  Granted, the Church seems to place more emphasis at the beginning of this continuum than the end.  It seems obsessed with sex and pregnancy, but when it comes to the death penalty, not so much.  Moreover, it is a bit strange that one billion Catholics are expected to take guidance on sex and procreation from a small group made up exclusively of men for whom sex of any kind is a sin. Continue Reading

Explain this

| March 29, 2010 | 2 Comments
The current Republican message is that the Democrats rammed through a healthcare reform program against the wishes of the American people and they are going to pay dearly in November for this atrocity.

Oh yeah?  Explain this.

Obama is Doomed!

| March 17, 2010 | 1 Comment
Here are some quotes that Mark Mellman repeats in his column of last week that declare an end to a presidency:

The press purports to explain the problems. “Why The President’s Men Stumble,” a New York Times headline promised to explain.

Another lede concluded that the president’s “once-dazzling political momentum … has stalled.”

A noted columnist captured the pack’s mood: “the Washington press corps is suddenly in hot pursuit of ‘an administration in disarray,’ which is coming apart at the seams under … a ‘detached President.’ ”

The distinguished dean of Washington columnists opined, “it is becoming increasingly clear” that the president’s marvel “was a one-year phenomenon … what has been occurring since is an accelerating retreat … a process in which he is more spectator than leader.”

These quotes are from 1982 and are about the collapsing Reagan Administration.  We all know how that ended, right?

I just hope the Democrats in Congress realize that their only hope is to “PASS. THE. DAMN BILL.” with apologies to Andrew Sullivan.

The Economist Gets It Wrong

| February 20, 2010 | 4 Comments
The Economist issues its diagnosis of what’s wrong with America’s governing system and declares it is because Obama hasn’t given enough ground to the Republicans.

It is not so much that America is ungovernable, as that Mr Obama has done a lousy job of winning over Republicans and independents to the causes he favours. If, instead of handing over health care to his party’s left wing, he had lived up to his promise to be a bipartisan president and courted conservatives by offering, say, reform of the tort system, he might have got health care through; by giving ground on nuclear power, he may now stand a chance of getting a climate bill.

Wrong!  Obama did offer to negotiate over tort reform and was rebuffed by the Republicans.  And what of the three months was given over to Finance Chair Sen. Max Baucus to come up with a bipartisan healthcare reform bill?  The strategy of the Republicans, which Sen. Grassley, minority leader of the committee, explicitly gave away, was to slow the process down and hope that lighten would strike and kill the bill.  Sure enough, lighten struck in Massachusetts, but didn’t quite kill it.

But for the Economist to totally absolve the Republicans for any responsibility for the gridlock in Washington is laughable.  They are tacitly portrayed as this poor, ignored collection of principled conservatives.  When, in fact, they are a wrecking crew, bent on the destruction of the Obama presidency.

As Obama has learned, it is very hard to find common ground with people whose fondest wish is your utter failure.

Frank Rich

| February 1, 2010 | 0 Comments
In today’s NY Times, Frank Rich addresses this new prohibition, discussed below, against “blaming Bush” for the problems the country faces currently.  During Obama’s State of the Union, John McCain can be seen chuckling and mouthing the words, “blaming Bush.”

Rich writes:

Perhaps McCain was sneering at Obama because of the Beltway’s newest unquestioned cliché: one year after a new president takes office he is required to stop blaming his predecessor for the calamities left behind. Who dreamed up that canard — Alito? F.D.R. never followed it. In an October 1936 speech, nearly four years after Hoover, Roosevelt was still railing against the “hear-nothing, see-nothing, do-nothing government” he had inherited. He reminded unemployed and destitute radio listeners that there had been “nine crazy years at the ticker” and “nine mad years of mirage” followed by three long years of bread lines and despair. F.D.R. soon won re-election in the greatest landslide the country had seen.

George Who??

| January 28, 2010 | 0 Comments
Obama’s First State of the Union delivered. It helped stabilize my faith and confidence, which, as per the previous post, was getting wobbly. I appreciated his feistiness. On the two raps from the left, I agree with one and disagree with the other. I agree that he still seems to be holding back on healthcare. I’m hoping that he knows the fix is in for passage of the Senate bill, with tweaks in reconciliation. And his invitation to Republicans into the process was rhetorical, since I am convinced that they have not and will not bargain in good faith. If anything, the Massachusetts result will only increase their determination to block everything.

I reject the critique from the left on the so-called budget freeze. Frankly, I agree with the Republicans that it’s too modest to have any economic effect as fiscal policy. But it should have some modest symbolic effect. It is the most controllable part of the budget, so it is appropriate to try to limit overall spending in that category as a first step in reigning in the deficit. As long as it isn’t a line by line freeze, it seems like a good, and frankly necessary, step. It’s really not a freeze, it’s a cap. But I guess freeze polls better.

My favorite moment was the following:

At the beginning of the last decade, the year 2000, America had a budget surplus of over $200 billion. By the time I took office, we had a one-year deficit of over $1 trillion and projected deficits of $8 trillion over the next decade. Most of this was the result of not paying for two wars, two tax cuts, and an expensive prescription drug program. On top of that, the effects of the recession put a $3 trillion hole in our budget. All this was before I walked in the door.

Now the Republicans and their sympathizers in the media have howled over this. “He’s got to stop blaming Bush!” “It was a campaign speech!” Sen. John Kyl (R-AZ) called it “whining” on NPR this morning.

Baloney! We need more of this.

The Republican game is clear. At its most simplistic, they are trying to avoid taking responsibility for mess we’re in. But their plan is even more insidious and sometimes seems to be working. Some in the media seem to be buying their scam. Here’s how it goes:

Step 1

Make it inappropriate for Democrats or the President to assign any responsibility for the country’s problems to Bush or the Republicans. Call it partisan, or whining or unbecoming of the president. Get the conventional wisdom spouters in Washington to flag this and tut tut every time some Democrat mentions Bush. Thereby, they separate Bush and the Republicans from economic mess they created.

Step 2

Hang every problem we have on Obama. Blame the situation on his policies, both those he has enacted, like the Recovery Program, and those they’ve succeeding in blocking, like healthcare (so far), climate change, banking regulation, etc. Make the Obama agenda into a status quo that has failed. This, despite the fact that every respectable economist has confirmed that the “stimulus plan” actually worked. If anything, it was too small. State that, after a year in office, the fact that Obama has only ended the recession and not brought about full employment is proof that his policies are an utter failure.

Step 3

Propose the same policies that created the economic collapse, tax cuts for business and the wealthy and deregulation of every sector of the economy. Since these proposals are different from the “failed Obama program” and accountability for Bush and the Republicans have been banished from the debate, they are presented as something new. Republicans then become the party of change.

Viola, black is white, up is down. And the Republicans are back in charge accelerating our decline as a country.

Obama at One Year

| January 27, 2010 | 1 Comment
Count me as a Koolaid drinking supporter of Barack Obama. Whatever I believe about his position on any given issue – and I disagree on some, I fundamentally trust him. I trust his motives, I trust his intelligence and I trust his judgment…I think. Yes, even I am getting a bit wobbly right now. Like everyone else, I was stunned by the slow motion train wreck in Massachusetts. And I’m deeply disappointed with how much it seems to have rattled the Democrats in Congress. If the Republicans were in the same position, they would have rammed the Senate bill through the House by now, if only to make the point that the voters in one state can not scare them. Why the hesitation among the Democrats? They’ve already voted for the bill in one form or another. How do they think they will diminish their political risk by refusing to vote for essentially the same bill again and at least get credit for the accomplishment? I just don’t get it.

Which brings me back to Obama. Why doesn’t he just demand the House pass the Senate bill and fix it in the reconciliation process? Since I still trust his motives, intelligence and judgment, I can only assume he knows what he’s doing and will bring this to a good place. But my faith is weakening.

It helped me to read an evaluation of Obama by Chris Patten in the European Voice. He’s the former governor general of Hong Kong before it was handed back to the Chinese and is an enlightened political observer. Yes, he’s European, so his opinion is disregarded as socialist and elitist by red-blooded Americans. But I’ve always respected his insights. Here’s what he said about Obama:

Pragmatic and highly intelligent, sooner or later every issue receives the full attention of his forensic curiosity. Recalling Hillary Clinton‘s famous Democratic primary television advertisement, Obama, it turns out, is exactly the sort of president that most of us would want to have in the post for that 3am phone call about an international crisis. He would not be afraid to act, but he would be prepared to think first.

And that’s what I admire most about Obama. He thinks things through and doesn’t claim to have a divinely inspired gut, like his predecessor. Like Patten, I feel like he’s been pushed around a bit in his first year in office, by Benjamin Netanyahu, by the Chinese, by the Republicans in Congress. But my hope is that, like John Kennedy being pushed around by the generals on the Bay of Pigs and Khrushchev in Vienna, the experience will toughen him up for when he confronts his own version of the Cuban Missle Crisis (let’s hope with somewhat lesser stakes).

Which leads to Patten’s larger point in his piece. He identifies to the greatest crisis facing humanity right now and it’s not global warming. Rather it’s nuclear proliferation.

The nuclear issue is one of the biggest items on the Obama agenda. How it is handled will help to define his presidency….These are going to be some of the major questions for Obama over the next year and more. If he gets them right, he can forget about his short-term critics. Fortunately, he is smart enough to know this.

Coincidentally, there was an NPR story this morning about a new documentary on nuclear proliferation in which Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, William Perry and Sam Nunn, cold warriors all, advance their own grave warnings about this threat. Look for that issue to take center stage in the months ahead. It will be interesting to see how that one gets politicized in the efforts by his opponents to “break” Obama.

In the meantime, we toil in the weeds of domestic legislation. I do believe Obama’s got to chalk up some wins on the smaller issues, like healthcare and the economy, in order to give him the political heft to deal with the fate of humanity, a challenge with which Republicans seemed blithely indifferent.

We are at a familiar place. Obama under siege with a big speech coming up. He’s nailed it every time before. I’ll be watching his State of the Union tonight with my “hope” only slightly diminished.

An Honorable Conservative

| January 7, 2010 | 0 Comments
Add Judge Richard Posner to the very gradually growing list of intellectually honest conservatives who are will to acknowledge that the actual events of the last year discredited their economic theory.  Alan Greenspan has admitted that he placed to much trust in the free market to rein in financial misbehavior.  Now, Posner, an extremely prolific writer who’s considered one of the smartest conservative economic thinkers in the country, has come around, as well.

In the current New Yorker, he is quoted thusly:

We are learning from it [the economic collapse] that we need a more active and intelligent government to keep our model of a capitalist economy from running off the rails.

This is huge.  As noted but the New Yorker writer, John Cassidy,

As acts of betrayals go, this was roughly akin to Johnny Damon’s shaving off his beard, forsaking the Red Sox Nation and joining the Yankees.

Now, thanks an analogy I get.

People like Posner prove how utterly out of touch the current Republican leadership is, both party and congressional.  They think they claw their way back into power by bamboozling the public that our current travails are all the fault of Barack Obama, shameless trying to shout there way past the fact that it’s their failure and corruption that put us in the mess we’re in.