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Archive for the ‘Obama’ Category

End of an era

Posted by keithosaunders on May 2, 2011

Tonight the news broke that Osama Bin Laden had been killed by American special forces.  I spent an hour watching network news, as well as viewing president Obama’s address to the nation.  The news anchors could not overstate the importance of the event, calling it an end of an era that defined a generation.  On screen a series of stock footage of Obama, as well as troops wearing black ski masks holding automatic weapons, endlessly looped.

Obama’s speech was understated and humble, if not a little short on details.  Listening to the speech I could not help but recall Bush’s 2003 Mission Accomplished  speech aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, announcing the end of major combat operations in Iraq.  That speech was arrogant and smug, and ultimately untrue, as the war continues to drag on to this day. 

By the same token, despite what the talking heads say, I have a hard time believing that we have turned a corner in this so-called war on terror.  Yes, the man who is responsible for one of the great American tragedies is gone, but look at all that remains in the aftermath.  Still in place are the Patriot Act, warrantless wire-tapping, unlawful detainment, and the continuing abuse of civil liberties at our airports.  Furthermore, I have a hard time getting excited about Osama’s death in 2011, when he could have, and should have been captured at Tora Bora back in 2001. 

It is way too early to know what effect Bin Laden’s death will have on the nation, but one thing is certain — politically, this is a boon to Obama’s 2012 campaign.  The Republican party is chock full of fringe candidates, and whoever wins the nomination will be unable to attack Obama on being weak on defense.  Even if the economy only marginally improves he will be a lock.

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Meet the new boss

Posted by keithosaunders on December 8, 2010

With the extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy at least we can put one fallicy to rest:  We now know unequivocally that the Republicans could care less about the federal deficit.  For the past two years the major Republican talking point has been, and continues to be, “smaller government and reduced spending.”  

Let’s run the laundry list.

How about defense?  No cuts there.  

Social Security?  Non-starter.  Leave the senior abuse to the Dems and their death squads. 

Medicare?  Same.

How about federal workers?  Yes!  That will lop a whopping 5 billion off the 3.7 trillion budget.   While we’re at it we’ll cut food stamps, minimum wage, and college grants.  That’s a wrap.

Personally, unless there is much more than meets the eye, I don’t understand the politics.  Obama spent a good deal of time today talking about how the American people were being held hostage by the Republicans and how he didn’t believe in doing harm to hostages.  To these ears that sounded forced and contrived. 

Even when the Democrats held a super-majority in the Congress Obama was constantly playing defense rather than controlling the message.  I get that the Republicans are obstructionists and that their mission from the start has been to oppose any legislation put forth from the new administration.  I feel, however, that Obama holds some culpability for failing to provide a cohesive message.  He claims to care about the middle class but time and again we see an administration that is more corporatist than populist.  From the appointments of Timothy Geithner and Laurence Summers, to the decidedly big-pharma (and insurance company) friendly health care plan, to his failure to prosecute Bush administration officials on war crimes, we see a president who is very much invested in the status quo.

Yes, he staved off a depression, saved the auto industry, and managed to eek out a (tepid) health care bill.  Let’s give the man credit where credit is due.  In the end, though, where is playing it safe going to get him?  Barring a dramatic turn of events in 2012, I fear that the answer will be a one way ticket to Chicago.

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The Republican rope-a-dope.

Posted by keithosaunders on November 4, 2010

Every once in a while I am reminded of just how out of step I am with the majority of the American people.  Last night was one of those nights.  The idea that a Republican led Congress bent on cutting spending and rolling back the health care bill has the best interest of our country in mind is laughable. 

Representative John Boehner, who almost certainly will be our next Speaker of the House, had this to say: 

“I believe that the health care bill that was enacted by the current Congress will kill jobs in America, ruin the best health care system in the world and bankrupt our country.  That means that we have to do everything we can to try to repeal this bill, and replace it with common-sense reforms that will bring down the cost of health insurance.”

Am I missing something?  The last time I checked our health care was ranked 37th in the world, which puts us smack dab between Slovenia and Costa Rica.  The Republicans had months to come up with a decent alternative and they failed.  Why?  Because their primary objective is to see that Obama is a one term president.  Not that they would have focused on health care had they controlled the executive branch.  They held the presidency for 20 out of the 28 years without so much as an attempt at modifying health care.  Now that they are out of power they offer no solutions, only obstruction. 

It defies logic that anyone earning under $100,000 a year would ever vote Republican.  Who are they identifying with?  Barbara Bachman is never going to invite you to her country club for a set of tennis and John McCain could give a rat’s ass whether or not you are denied health insurance for  a pre-existing condition. 

Obama is no liberal.  He has failed to amend FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) to end illegal wire tapping.  He has not prosecuted members of the Bush administration for war crimes, i.e. torture and war profiteering.  He has been late to take a strong stance against Dont Ask, Dont Tell, and most important of all he has failed to enact tougher regulations on the banking industry. 

He has, however, done a good job with the extremely poor hand he was dealt.  For all of the chastising Obama has endured over the state of the economy, he actually saved it.  TARP — the Troubled Asset Relief Program —  probably staved off a depression, and ended up recouping all of the money that was loaned.  With interest.  Contrast this with the Republicans, whose primary goal is to see that the Bush tax cuts become permanent; cuts that largely benefit the top one percent of earners.  And Obama is the elitist?!  

As always the elephant in the room is racism, and it is hardly subtle.  When the Republicans refer to Obama as ‘different’ we all know what this is code for.  This covert rhetoric is an enormous source of their support.  Tea Partiers and Republicans alike would have you believe that big government is evil.  This is specious to say the least.  No one in his or her right mind would support de-funding of the military, Social Security, or Medicare.   Cutting education, food stamps, and keeping the minimum wage stagnant…now that’s a horse of a different color.             

This man would not have a beer with you.

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It’s tea time

Posted by keithosaunders on September 22, 2010

It’s one thing when a moderate Republican wins an election, but it’s an entirely different thing when incompetent radicals such as Christine O’Donnell and Carl P. Paladino are victorious.  I realize that Delaware had an extremely small turnout, but I was stunned that tens of thousands of people supported a candidate (O’Donnell) who believes that masturbation is commensurate with adultery.  Over in New York State, Paladino, who is running for governor against Andrew Cuomo, supports prison camps for welfare recipients.

Meanwhile, in Washington, there are enough votes in the Senate to prevent the repeal of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell law — policy that prevents gays from openly serving in the military.  It is deplorable to me that a significant faction of our leaders believe that a person’s sexual orientation has a bearing on his or her ability to serve.

What is going on here?  For me there is only one explanation:  Blatant racism and homophobia.  These candidates, and for that matter a large portion of our elected officials, are clearly not qualified to lead.  O’Donnell barely graduated college.  Paladino is an anti-semite who circulates racist emails.  They have no business impacting a community election, let alone a national contest. 

I lived in New York City for 26 years, more than enough time to understand that outside of Manhattan and a few sections of Queens and Brooklyn, is right-leaning at best, and virulently racist at worst.  It is not a stretch to see how an anti-intellectual candidate such as Paladino could connect with Staten Islanders, let alone Long Islanders. 

It all boils down to the shock and outrage that a black man became president.  It flies in the face of everything these dullards were taught and believed in.  They would rather support candidates that would worsen their situation, i.e. cut taxes for the rich and decrease access to education.

 I can’t entirely blame the candidates or the Republican Party.  They are exploiting an opportunity and using it to their advantage.  It’s the voter who I reserve my outrage.  It is they who vote against health care, jobs, and education.  They won’t find opportunities for advancement from the racist Paladino, or the righteously wacky O’Donnell.  What they will find is a celebration of mediocrity.  It is a sanctification of 18th century oppression that I thought we had moved beyond.

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Health care reform: It’s time.

Posted by keithosaunders on March 20, 2010

After months of political wrangling and machinations the Health Care Reform Bill will be voted on in the House tomorrow, March 21st.  People, it’s time.  I understand that this is a flawed bill and that an absence of a public option is huge blow.  The bottom line is that 32 million more Americans will be insured (1 million more than originally thought) and 138 billion dollars will be pared from the federal deficit in the next ten years.

There is no moral reason to oppose health care reform.  The Republicans have yet to offer a valid plan, save for their feeble talking points — being able to buy insurance across state lines, and tort reform.  The last administration had eight years to deal with this and did not lift a finger, tort reform and all.

A year ago, when health care reform was first presented, I figured that this was an issue in which Obama’s bi-partisan efforts would be a plus.  Why wouldn’t the Republicans want to do what is humane and necessary?   How naive I was. 

I have reached the conclusion that there exists a Darwinian sense of entitlement among people of wealth and means.  Their rational is that they have worked hard for what they have achieved and they are deserving of privilege by means of their talent and drive.  The tacit implication is that it is the uninsured person’s own fault for not having had the perseverance and the ability to succeed in a competitive world.

Of course these is a racist component to this. What is the term “big government” but a euphemism for a welfare state.  It is hardly subtle.  The Republicans have spent the better part of 40 years deriding the gains accomplished through Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement, as well as LBJ’s Great Society programs.  All of this is a way for the rich, or middle class white person to feel good about where he is in society, and to alleviate the guilt that comes with knowing there are people being denied access to health care and a better life.

Posted in health care, Obama, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Talk to the Hand

Posted by keithosaunders on February 9, 2010

 The mocking of  Barack Obama by Sarah Palin for his use of a teleprompter is something I don’t get.  Even the most rabid tea-partier must understand that it is impossible to memorize an 80 minute speech.  Every president has used the teleprompter since its invention. 

If I was a Republican I would be insulted by being condescended to with such a weak talking point.  If this does get traction it is disconcerting to say the least — as if the flimsiest of criticism can seem valid if repeated enough.

Posted in Obama, Politics | 3 Comments »

The conservative credo

Posted by keithosaunders on February 5, 2010

If you speak to a Republican he or she will proudly tell you that the conservative credo is fiscal restraint and small government.  He is for less taxes and believes that an economy favorable to corporate business will trickle down to the middle class.  On the face of it this seems like a reasonable blueprint .  If you consider, however, that the U.S.  has had Republican rule 20 of the last 30 years (and Clinton, though a Democrat, certainly favored big business) and after all the deregulation and tax cutting we still ended with our economy in shambles.  In fact we barely avoiding a depression.

I have reached the conclusion that what the Republican party has to offer — its chief asset  — is an excuse for wealthy not to feel guilty.   If you are poor it is your own fault.  You have been made complacent by a government that has coddled you.   If you have money this is a result of hard work and superior intelligence.  Perhaps you have even having pulled yourself up from your bootstraps, and the thought of sharing a portion of your wealth with someone less fortunate is an anathema. 

If you are a racist or a homophobe, the Republican tent is the perfect place for you.  You can couch your racism in your love of small government.  Your intolerance of gays can easily be masked by the smoke screen of family values.   

There is one possible pitfall, however.  If, for any reason, you were suddenly to become destitute, thus requiring affordable housing and medical insurance, things could get dicey.  At that point your family values and love of trickle down economics will be worthless and you will learn that empathy is a commodity not easily found in the party of Lincoln.

Posted in health care, Obama, Politics | 3 Comments »

For an hour I forgot that Obama was a Democrat

Posted by keithosaunders on January 28, 2010

The revealing thing about the comments by Harry Reid’s and Chris [I forgot he was Black] Matthews is that people are conscious of race ALL THE TIME.  We don’t live in a post-racial society, but a hyper-racial one.  These are Obama’s friends.!  We can only imagine what the real racists are saying.

For me, the take-away from last night was that the Democrats, as the majority party, are as impotent as they were as the minority party.  Health care reform is all but dead, and even over-turning “don’t ask, don’t tell,”  seems like too tall an order for these yutzes.  I don’t believe, given all the outsourcing of our nation’s manufacturing sector, and the failed state of the auto industry, that it is possible to create enough jobs to stave off an economic disaster — not unless we invest heavily in green technology, and with the all-powerful minority Republican party standing in the way, this is next to impossible.  Though Obama paid lip service to green technology I do not  believe he has the drive to follow through. 

Glenn Greenwald at Salon wrote about the Alito breach of protocol, where he mouthed the words “Not true” during Obama’s criticism of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on corporations contributing to campaigns. 

  “Recall all of the lip-pursed worrying from The New Republic’s Jeffrey Rosen and his secret, nameless friends over the so-called “judicial temperament” of Sonia Sotomayor.  Alito’s conduct is the precise antithesis of what “judicial temperament” is supposed to produce. ”

This, rather than Matthew’s ignorant gaffe, is the real travesty of last night.  Whether one attain a success as a Supreme Court Justice, or an influential media personality, it is clear to me that intelligence and morality is not a deciding factor.

Posted in Obama, Politics, State of the Union | 1 Comment »

State of the Union: Depressing.

Posted by keithosaunders on January 28, 2010

I defy any Republican to label Obama as a liberal.  After this long-winded, occasionally glib tribute to bi-partisanship, I was left with a sinking feeling that we, as a nation, are running on empty.  True, Obama made pains to attribute our enormous deficit to the tax cuts and war-funding by the Bush administration, but rather than cut military spending he offers a freeze on government spending.  This freeze will account for 1 of the 9 trillion of our debt.  It begs the question, what will it take to erase the entire debt.  Tax increases anyone? 

Health care reform received lip service, but it is clear that Obama’s main priority in 2010 will be job creation.  This is a noble endeavor, but offers little consolation to the hundreds of thousands that will lose their insurance in the near future.

The highlight of the evening for me was Chris Mathewspost-speech analysis.  He gleefully stated that he managed to forget that Obama was Black for one hour, and in the next breath said that the Democrats should go ‘all Clemenza’ [the hit man from The Godfather] on Mitch McConnell.  Amazing.

Posted in Obama, Politics, State of the Union, war | Leave a Comment »

No hope, and you can keep the change.

Posted by keithosaunders on January 27, 2010

This year’s State of the Union Address stands in stark contrast to last year, in which optimism reigned.  Back then we were welcoming a new president who had Democratic majority in Congress and, seemingly, a mandate from the American people to effect a new course in government. 

One year later Barack Obama has proven himself to be a corporatist in the Clintonian tradition.  Rather then ending our two [illegal] wars in the mideast, he has escalated our forces in Afghanistan, increasing our military budget while freezing spending on necessary domestic programs.  To my horror he has codified many of the civil rights abuses of the Bush-era, in particular denying prisoners their right to due process.

During the campaign Obama’s ‘hope and change’ bit felt a little contrived.  I desperately wanted to believe that real change was possible so I gave him a pass on the lack of specificity in his policies.  This SOTU is all the more depressing due to the fact the Democrats are in power.  I expected so much more.

Posted in Obama, Politics, State of the Union, war | 1 Comment »