Archive for the 'Obama' Category

02
Oct
15

Umpqua and Enough is Enough

http://go.wh.gov/7Gk8Eh

This is a political choice that we make to allow this to happen every few months in America. We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loves ones because of our inaction. When Americans are killed in mine disasters, we work to make mines safer. When Americans are killed in floods and hurricanes, we make communities safer. When roads are unsafe, we fix them to reduce auto fatalities. We have seatbelt laws because we know it safes lives. The notion that gun violence is somehow different—that our freedom and our Constitution prohibits any modest regulation of how we use a deadly weapon, when there are law-abiding gun owners all across the country who could hunt, and protect their families, and do everything they do under such regulations—doesn’t make sense.” —President Obama on the shooting in Roseburg, Oregon

Like he says, thoughts and prayers are not enough.

How can this not be the easiest thing in the world to see?

We don’t need to keep access to high powered rifles in case our government takes us over. We have access to changing the government if we want to — it’s called voting.

We can’t keep doing this, we just can’t.

Call me paranoid, but every Sunday when I’m sitting at the piano at my church job, or in a large crowd outside in my city, or teaching a class at my community college (where students have been escorted from classrooms, or police have knocked on the door looking for someone) I realize that this could happen to me. It could happen to anyone.

IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU.

Voters who think one issue is the most important often feel that way because of abortion. But consider this: if you actually believe life begins at conception you also have to realize that life does not end at birth. Are you therefore willing to vote to support access to healthcare, food support for poor families, decent education opportunities for EVERYONE (not just the children in your neighborhood), clean air and water, preservation of the planet, and THE RIGHT OF US TO LIVE NOT IN FEAR OF THIS HAPPENING NEXT WEEK, at your place of work, or at your children’s school?

This has passed beyond ridiculous.

Please pardon my language, but enough is fucking enough already.

08
Nov
12

he’s a good man, charlie brown; UPDATED

President Obama’s Victory Speech

What he said.

(I do wish we could skip the “God Bless America” part, since the implication always seems to be “and f@#$ everyone else.” Like praying that your football team will win, because they deserve it so much better than that other team over there in different-colored shirts.)

And then there’s this.

*****

In a related story, Only Daughter was being harassed a bit yesterday in school by fellow students whose parents voted differently than I did. She pointed out that they were only parroting what their parents said, and didn’t know enough about anything to have any ideas of their own. (I asked her later what SHE thought, and she said she didn’t really think anything yet, although, from what she could tell our guy was more sympathetic than the other guy. I was very proud.) (This is the girl who worries for hours, and feels guilty eating her dinner, if she even SEES a homeless person or someone begging on the exit ramps.)

Her teacher caught wind of some of these arguments, and started to have a nice talk about how American democracy works and how likely it is that in any given election just <50% of people will be unhappy and just >50% of people will be happy. I was thinking, as O.D. reported this, that this was such a wonderful opportunity to talk about differences of opinion and our responsibility to respect them, about reasonable discourse and discussion, about what a privilege it was to vote for our leaders and to be able to talk freely about that vote before and after. Rather, she went right from her first, reasonable point, to this: We are so lucky to live in the best country on the planet.

Yeah, that should help.

25
Oct
12

do “they” just not get it, or don’t I?

Apparently, there are a lot of women, (the NY Times cites them as being white, not-college-educated,) who are having difficulty deciding between voting for Obama or Mitt Romney.

This woman is described as representative of the sample:

She voted for Barack Obama in 2008 but is now torn. Mr. Obama has not lived up to his promise, she said. “My husband and I both have to work full time, and we’re just getting by.”

But she is not thrilled with Mitt Romney either. She said he would set women back because he did not understand their needs.

“Women worked so hard to get where we are today and to take our rights away from us is — no,” she said, shaking her head.

Behold the coveted female swing voter of 2012.

Let’s see: You have to work full time to pay your bills. (Um, btw, so do most of us, as we did before Obama was president, and will certainly have to do after Mitt’s president. Or does she think Mitt’s going to chip in to pay the cable bill?).

But Mitt doesn’t understand women’s needs.

Why do I not see these as equally valid, equally weighty arguments?

I must be missing something, because apparently this is not just this one person, but a measurable trend across the country.

Can somebody explain it to me? I don’t get it, and, actually, (believe it or not,) I want to understand.

04
Oct
12

the debate that wasn’t, quite: Updated

Okay, so Mitt did better than we expected, which isn’t really all that big a deal since we, well at least I, expected so little.

Obama looked like he’d rather have been just about anywhere. He seemed resigned. Or tired. I was frustrated by how Mitt almost without exception got the last word, and that Jim didn’t do a better job making them a) conform to their time limits and b) alternate more conscientiously between who went first and who went last.

Of course part of that was because Mitt was just frequently rude, and would keep talking and talking. And then there was that idiotic grin at the end of every statement, like “HA! Didn’t think I’d have an answer for that one did ya’? Well I did, so there.”

Heh-heh-heh

The arguments Obama should have made:

1.  No, Mitt, you must not have the right accountant, since you had enough money left in this country that you had to pay any taxes at all.

2.  Money spent on the oil industry is a subsidy paid to companies that don’t need it, and money down the drain; money spent on green energy is an investment in the future of the planet and in our ability to compete down the road with the Chinese, who are spending a lot more on green energy infrastructure right now than we are, and we will rue the day if we don’t do more to keep up with them. Speaking of jobs. We were speaking of jobs, right?

3.  Speaking of jobs, Mitt claims he will create 12 million jobs. Of course, like every other one of his promises or “plans,” that’s all we get — the statement, “I will create 12 million jobs.” Out of Play-Doh?

(Speaking of the plans, a friend posted on facebook last night: Obama: “Let me tell you about my plan…” Romney: “Forget that – awesome stuff for everyone!” Obama: “Details?” Romney: “(Details to be announced.) But did I mention how awesome it’s going to be?” and a friend of his commented: “I don’t know numbers, but I know awesome, and let me tell you: it is a plan, and it is awesome. Yes, this plan is a very planned plan…and it is definitely awesome. You might say it’s an awesome plan.”)

Something like that.

4. Mitt lies. Over and over, making up stuff. Obama cut 716 billion from Medicare? Mitt wants to cut taxes for the middle class? (Since when, yesterday morning?) (Another lie: Mitt’s health care plan would cover preexisting conditions. But not really.)

Obama didn’t call him out on any of them. Was he asleep? Wishing he were having dinner with Michele?

5. Mitt will lower tax rates and then eliminate loopholes so that the same amount of money will be coming into the federal government as before. Umm, isn’t this then, like the same thing? Oh, you’re right, it’s not. Because the elimination of the loopholes will operate on a sliding scale, he actually admitted this last night, so that it has less impact on those at the upper levels of the income scale, which means the poor and middle class will pay more in taxes and the rich will pay less.

6. Mitt “reached across the aisle” to pass a government-based health care plan, with 87% of the legislature being Democrats. This is an example of his ability to get things done in Washington and work with everyone. Not much of a reach really, when 87% of the legislature is already with you, plus a lot of the Republicans since government-based health care was originally a Republican idea. Way to go, Mitt!

No mention of the fact that the Republican legislator’s primary stated goal in 2008 was to keep Obama to a single term. Guess that would have sounded petulant and defensive.

7. He likes coal!

Ugh.

Where was my president? Too polite to go too far over his allotted time? Too conscientious to force revelations into barely-related questions?

This is probably going to seem mean-spirited, but I found this clip to be mildly amusing.

watch?v=bxch-yi14BE

25
Sep
12

looks about right

(Clicking on each headline should take you to the article in its entirety.)

(This right after his brilliant suggestion that we “kick [the difficult problems in the Middle East] down the road and hope someone else comes up with a solution.”)

To sum up: Apparently Mitt believes that he is in a dead heat with Obama,  ” . . . an outright denial of political reality, but Mr. Romney’s willingness to stray from the truth is at the root of what’s really going on.”

and. . .


an article which includes the line: “And we need to ask whether we now have an electoral process so vacuous, vicious and just plain silly that most people in their right minds wouldn’t go anywhere near it.”

Which reminds me of this. (Click “this” to read it.)

Alas.

If only we had a Holocaust cloak and a wheelbarrow. (I’m not really sure why the above reminded me of this clip, but it did. Maybe it was just the use of “to sum up.” It’s a good clip, either way.)

06
Sep
12

Well?

Watched Michelle two nights ago, Elizabeth Warren (honk if you’d like to elect HER president in 2016) and Clinton last night, Obama tonight.

Reveled in the diversity in the audience.

Cried a little (I’m a big fat baby, but still).

So just one question remains:

23
Oct
11

a sign of what we all should fear

Art Pope, who inherited from his father of a chain of discount shops known as Variety Wholesalers (basically a smaller but still incredibly profitable version of WalMart), is systematically purchasing legislative seats in North Carolina. (Click on the picture for a link to the whole article.)

He claims this is all done out of completely altruistic motives — rampant capitalism and the creation of wealth as the system that will save the world. His explanation of the existence of poverty and low incomes is that these are merely a factor of youth and poor education, but “usually, as people get older. . .they [will] save and retain wealth, and [eventually] work their way up.” He also claims that most poverty exists as a result of “self-destructive behavior.” Tell that to the nearly 33% of the minority children living in his state who are living in poverty. What were their self-destructive acts, one might ask? Being born to the wrong parents?

Meanwhile, he funds  battles (even more easily than he did before, thanks to helpful decisions like Citizens United) that put people who think like him into state government and on school boards and as trustees of major universities where budgets are cut and one of the best integration systems in the country is decimated, seeming completely to miss the point that he has made earlier — that a lack of education is one of the things that keep people from prospering.

And never mind the fact that he was born into wealth, status, and privilege, and that the “work ethic” that produced most of his wealth comes from the parents he was born to, the writing of the will that passed it on to him, and the people who work for his company at minimum wage.

He claims to be both a “traditional conservative” and a “classical liberal” (whatever that means), and that his philosophy is based in his belief in the “marketplace of ideas.” Meanwhile, he machinates the drastic cutting of university budgets, followed by a benevolent offer to donate millions of dollars to fund programs that would turn liberal-arts educations into “personal creation of wealth” trade schools.

So many voters have been beguiled by the (family foundation-run) Civitas-sponsored robo-calls and misleading-to-the-point-of-racist-sexist-and/or-libelous postcards deposited into their mailboxes that Republicans have gained a majority in the North Carolina legislature for the first time in a hundred years.

Pope reassures us, though, that there’s plenty we can do about it. If his opponents disagree, they’re welcome to “fund their own side.”

Because all those people working minimum-wage jobs and/or struggling to put their children through colleges that are getting more and more difficult to afford have the resources to do so.

We’re selling our country, and the running of it, to the highest bidder. When will we stop being sheep? When will we stop believing every ridiculous lie told to us by the people with money we all secretly wish we had? When will we hang up on the robo-calls and throw the postcards into the trash where they belong and actually bother to research the people for whom we are being asked to vote? And where are the true liberals — those who believe in both economic opportunity and social responsibility, those who recognize both the benefits of a free market and its perils, those who can frame our arguments in compelling and actionable terms, those who not only believe that we have a moral responsibility to make this world the best we possibly can for everyone but who can help us recognize that what is best for each of us is what is good for everyone?

I thought it would be Obama. I’m not sure anymore, especially because he seems to be so busy being conciliatory and careful he never really seems to stand up for what I’m sure he still believes in. But I am sure that it isn’t any of the current Republican candidates either, and I am constantly perplexed by the centrists who voted for Obama, are disappointed in what has or hasn’t happened since his election, and think that Rick Perry or Mitt Romney might be a viable alternative.

Meanwhile I’m too busy trying to scrape together a living from my three part-time jobs to participate in marches on any street, and am tiring of the flooding of my inbox by petitions that need to be signed and worthwhile causes that need donations. Where is all that wealth I’ve been educated for (doctoral degree) and work for and still can’t seem to accumulate while I pay down my $120,000 mortgage and try to put three kids through college?

Or maybe having three children without a multi-millionaire father and business to inherit qualifies as “self-destructive.”

08
Sep
11

today’s quiz

Please indicate the option which seems to best represent the “truth”:

1.  Flowers and plants start to look bad in September because:

a) the shortening of the days and the cooling of the temperature adversely affects photosynthesis

b) you’re so tired of watering and fertilizing stuff that doesn’t bloom/grow/bear fruit, or is just going to be eaten by apparently ravenous, and quite inconsiderate, deer, you can’t be bothered

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. President Obama, while continuing to say the right things while not apparently doing much of anything, has aged 15 years in 3 because:

a) the job of the presidency sucks and no one in their right minds would do it

b) Just for Men hasn’t perfected the formula for African-American hair

3. Only Daughter asking if the car was unlocked means:

a) she needed to go look for a book she left in the back seat

b) she thought it would be interesting/fun to leave the front door open over night to see how long the battery would last

4. CNN runs a ticker beneath the President’s speech telling us what he just said because:

a) the average American likes to have things summarized into neat little sound bytes so he/she doesn’t have to think too hard

b) the average American is a stark raving idiot lunatic who needs to be told what to think so as not to pull any muscles or to have to take time away from important pursuits like wondering whether Jennifer Aniston’s actually married or not and keeping up with the Kardashians

 

 

 

 

 

 

*

5. I’m really good at stacking dishes in the dish drainer because:

a) it’s like a really interesting, perpetually different, 3D geometry puzzle which challenges my/your ability to make logical connections and to understand spatial relationships in the real world

b) I’m/you’re too lazy to dry.

*These are not my dishes, nor my kitchen.

16
May
11

America Held Hostage

Obama is being held hostage by the Republicans.

I wonder if it would “work” if he let them close the government down — stop paying Medicare, soldiers, interest on the debt — allowing the country to come to a shrieking halt, hopefully, briefly — just long enough for people to realize that the radical Republicans they believe in so firmly aren’t actually looking out for anyone but themselves and big business.

13
Jan
11

would that the world would listen

Here is the transcript from Obama’s speech in Tuscon yesterday.

Or, if you’d rather watch it, click here.

The best, most important, part:

They believed, and I believe, that we can be better. Those who died here, those who saved lives here, they helped me believe. We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another, that’s entirely up to us. And I believe that for all our imperfections we are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as the forces that unite us. . .we should do everything we can to make sure we live up to our children’s expectations.

Let’s make it so.

23
Sep
10

Time for the Truth

We can’t afford to roll our eyes in frustration and limit our rants to preaching to the choir. The truth must be out, and we must out it. The Tea Party and hard-core Republicans want to “take back America,” and are attempting to do so by exploiting the worst in MFA through lies and insinuation. And from whom? The people who are holding the financial and mortgage industries accountable? Or the people who want to make sure that you can’t be denied health insurance because you have a preexisting condition? (Hell, if you’re alive, chances are you have a preexisting condition. Maybe you just haven’t had to change jobs since it was discovered. Heaven help you if you do.)

We can’t afford to play nice and avoid having difficult conversations with people who can’t bother to be informed before running off at the mouth. And we have to stop protecting the rights of the privileged and the wealthy in the hopes that one day we might be one of them. If you’re middle class now, you’re probably going to be middle class until the day you die. The way the economy looks, you’re probably looking at the first generation where your children are NOT going to be better off than you were. What are you protecting exactly? Their right to avoid inheritances taxes on the $17,000 in cash and twice-mortgaged house you leave behind?

According to Wikipedia, “. . .in 2004, the wealthiest 25% of US households owned 87% . . .of the country’s wealth, while the bottom quartile held no net wealth at all. The middle 50% of the country held 13% . . . of the total household net wealth. . .

In addition to unequal wealth distribution, it is also difficult for individuals in the lower income distributions to gain economic mobility which inhibits their ability to accumulate wealth. . .The Panel Study of Income Dynamics shows how stratification is becoming worse and worse since 1984. The lowest percentile has become worse, and the highest percentile has become wealthier. The fifth percentile has dropped further into negative net worth, while the 90th percentile has gained over four hundred points within the last twenty one years.

Yeah, let’s protect them.

Meanwhile, let’s also forget the principles on which this country is founded: life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness; freedom of expression, religion, opportunity.

They’ve got one thing right: I don’t think it says anything in there anywhere about the truth.

27
Aug
10

Politics, Religion and the Truth

Apparently the willful ignorance of MFA continues to spread. We could spend a lot of time talking about the failures of our educational systems — the results being a citizenry who for the most part lack both a sense of responsibility about being informed and an ability to differentiate between a reputable news source (New York Times, Washington Post) and a disreputable one (Fox News, [irony alert] random blogs on the internet, Rush Limbaugh). We are also surrounded by people who harbor a general philosophy which prioritizes emotion and faith belief over fact. Another discussion could ensue as to whether the demise of so many reputable news sources is a cause of this or an effect; I would venture to propose the latter.

Unfortunately for all of us, politicians have decided that they are better served exploiting these shortcomings than dealing with all of us honestly and informatively. The short attention spans encouraged by network news programs, papers like USA Today, and the proliferation of sound bytes over substance only make things worse.

Meanwhile, 46% of Americans believe Obama is a Muslim and that he is responsible for both the failings of the financial system and the TARP program designed to bail it out.

To the first belief, I ask, who cares? and to the second, how hard are “you” working to remain in the dark about the actual happenings of the country in which you live?

The fact that he must repeatedly emphasize that he is a Christian is disturbing in a country that was founded on the belief that religion and governance should have nothing to do with each other.

In a related story, many continue to protest the proposed building of a mosque in the phantom shadow of the World Trade Center. Again, was this country not founded on the very principle of free practice of any, or no, religion? The same people that make the argument that “guns don’t kill people, people do” can’t seem to translate that into the possibility that all of Islam might not be the villain here. We should blame all of Islam for 9/11 like we blame Christians for the Crusades or all Germans for the Holocaust?

Those freedoms that are villified among practicers of radical Islam are those which we as a country should value and treasure and protect most vehemently: to live where and how we choose within the confines of universal principles of right and wrong; to worship (or not) the God of our choosing; to elect our own leaders; for women to work and drive and vote and marry who they desire and live without fearing death by stoning or clitoral circumcision or being sold into slavery or forced into marriage at the age of 11; in addition to that we need to recognize a moral obligation to treat all citizens of the world with the dignity and fairness and respect which we accord each other.

We fail at this, miserably, over and over again. We should all be ashamed.

22
Feb
10

The End of the World as we Know it

Let’s all try to make it a better one.

Op-Ed Columnist
The Fat Lady Has Sung

Published: February 20, 2010

A small news item from Tracy, Calif., caught my eye last week. Local station CBS 13 reported: “Tracy residents will now have to pay every time they call 911 for a medical emergency. But there are a couple of options. Residents can pay a $48 voluntary fee for the year, which allows them to call 911 as many times as necessary. Or there’s the option of not signing up for the annual fee. Instead they will be charged $300 if they make a call for help.”

Welcome to the lean years.

Yes, sir, we’ve just had our 70 fat years in America, thanks to the Greatest Generation and the bounty of freedom and prosperity they built for us. And in these past 70 years, leadership — whether of the country, a university, a company, a state, a charity, or a township — has largely been about giving things away, building things from scratch, lowering taxes or making grants.

But now it feels as if we are entering a new era, “where the great task of government and of leadership is going to be about taking things away from people,” said the Johns Hopkins University foreign policy expert Michael Mandelbaum.

Indeed, to lead now is to trim, to fire or to downsize services, programs or personnel. We’ve gone from the age of government handouts to the age of citizen givebacks, from the age of companions fly free to the age of paying for each bag.

Let’s just hope our lean years will only number seven. That will depend a lot on us and whether we rise to the economic challenges of this moment. Our parents truly were the Greatest Generation. We, alas, in too many ways, have been what the writer Kurt Andersen called “The Grasshopper Generation,” eating through the prosperity that was bequeathed us like hungry locusts. Now we and our kids together need to be “The Regeneration” — the generation that renews, refreshes, re-energizes and rebuilds America for the 21st century.

President Obama’s bad luck was that he showed up just as we moved from the fat years to the lean years. His calling is to lead The Regeneration. He clearly understands that in his head, but he has yet to give full voice to it. Actually, the thing that most baffles me about Mr. Obama is how a politician who speaks so well, and is trying to do so many worthy things, can’t come up with a clear, simple, repeatable narrative to explain his politics — when it is so obvious.

Mr. Obama won the election because he was able to “rent” a significant number of independent voters — including Republican business types who had never voted for a Democrat in their lives — because they knew in their guts that the country was on the wrong track and was desperately in need of nation-building at home and that John McCain was not the man to do it.

They thought that Mr. Obama, despite his liberal credentials, had the unique skills, temperament, voice and values to pull the country together for this new Apollo program — not to take us to the moon, but into the 21st century.

Alas, though, instead of making nation-building in America his overarching narrative and then fitting health care, energy, educational reform, infrastructure, competitiveness and deficit reduction under that rubric, the president has pursued each separately. This made each initiative appear to be just some stand-alone liberal obsession to pay off a Democratic constituency — not an essential ingredient of a nation-building strategy — and, therefore, they have proved to be easily obstructed, picked off or delegitimized by opponents and lobbyists.

So “Obamism” feels at worst like a hodgepodge, at best like a to-do list — one that got way too dominated by health care instead of innovation and jobs — and not the least like a big, aspirational project that can bring out America’s still vast potential for greatness.

To be sure, taking over the presidency at the dawn of the lean years is no easy task. The president needs to persuade the country to invest in the future and pay for the past — past profligacy — all at the same time. We have to pay for more new schools and infrastructure than ever, while accepting more entitlement cuts than ever, when public trust in government is lower than ever.

On top of that, the Republican Party has never been more irresponsible. Having helped run the deficit to new heights during the recent Bush years, the G.O.P. is now unwilling to take any responsibility for dealing with it if it involves raising taxes. At the same time, the rise of cable TV has transformed politics in our country generally into just another spectator sport, like all-star wrestling. C-Span is just ESPN with only two teams. We watch it for entertainment, not solutions.

While it would certainly help if the president voiced a more compelling narrative, I am under no illusion that this alone would solve all his problems and ours. It comes back to us: We have to demand the truth from our politicians and be ready to accept it ourselves. We simply do not have another presidency to waste. There are no more fat years to eat through. If Obama fails, we all fail.





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