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Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

President Obama is in a difficult position over his decision to go it alone in the Syrian matter.

Virtually no one agrees with his desire to take military action against Syria for using Sarin gas against it’s own citizens, although conscience and humanitarian considerations seem to require action of some kind.

At this point in time, virtually the entire population of the United States is against military action, the United Nations is paralyzed by Russia’s veto power in the Security Council, America’s European allies are reluctant warriors at best, and the United States Congress, if recent polls and analyses are close to reality, is set to deal Obama a resounding defeat when it returns from recess shortly.

Moreover, America’s Neanderthal Warriors, the Neocons of the Bush-Cheney Era, who never saw a war they didn’t like, have lined up against Obama. Only John McCain has come out in favor of military action, but even he is waffling of late.

This almost-impenetrable phalanx of Obama’s opponents will sorely test his resolve. Will he go it alone or will he recognize the reality of his opposition and what it portends for his future and the future of the Democratic Party.

The Liberal Wing of the Party, which is strongly opposed to military action, may well decide to sit out the mid-term election and thus hand a victory to the Tea Baggers. Is Obama willing to risk such a debacle?

Can Obama extract himself from this dilemma?

In my judgement, he ought to follow the vote of Congress. If the vote is No, Obama should politely recognize the Constitutional role of Congress and demur on his wish to carry out any military action against Syria. There are other means of punishing or pressuring Assad.

If the vote is Yes, then by all means proceed. At least he would have the confidence of the legislative body of the United States government.

While I agree that humanitarian concerns are powerful motivations for attacking Syria, common sense and simple reality argue in favor of a more moderate approach and I sincerely hope that Obama takes the road less traveled.

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While Washington burns and the pols fiddle around, it’s time to pay attention to a few other deficits that have remained unnoticed in the media furor over Boehner, Barack, and Big Bucks.

Civility

There was a time in this country when American politicians were civil to one another. They’d go to work, argue, and then repair to the nearest pub for some congenial elbow bending. Not now. Congressmen feel free to shout, “You lie,” to the president while he is giving his constitutionally-mandated State of the Union Address.

This open breach of respect is only one example of a strain of behavior that has infected the American public to a degree unknown in previous eras. Fueled in large part by the anonymity afforded by the internet, it isn’t unusual to find the vilest comments in response to blogs, newspaper articles, and television reports. Hate merchants become millionaires by screaming their odious messages 24-hours a day over radio and television. Hate sells, which I find to be the most disgusting element in our disappearing ability to communicate coherently in a civil manner. Is it any wonder the Congress has entirely lost its ability to function as the Constitution intended?

Compassion

We seem to have lost a sense of empathy for those among us who are less fortunate through no fault of their own. Children always come to mind when I think about helping others. Every year in this country there are roughly 3,000,000 reported cases of child abuse. Millions of children in this, the richest country on earth, go to sleep hungry. This is a disgusting state of affairs.

Our treatment of the elderly and the infirm is no better than our disdain for the welfare of our children.  There is a move underway to reduce or eliminate social security, Medicare, and Medicaid, whose primary beneficiaries are the elderly. Imagine a million seniors suddenly without the means to buy groceries, pay rent, and afford medical care. We seem to forget that those receiving social security checks aren’t banking those funds for a rainy day. They are spending the money immediately on the basic necessities of life.

Also at the top of the scale of disgust is our treatment of veterans, Americans who have put their lives on the line for the draft-dodging elites among us and who as a result now suffer excruciating physical and emotional damage. Some in congress want to reduce the minor amounts of funding now available for veterans’ care and rehabilitation. How cheap, how low, can American elites go in the treatment of the very individuals who have protected their way of life?

Cooperation

Contrary to the American myth of the rugged individualist, cooperation is the social mechanism through which we develop great ideas, initiate powerful governing concepts, and accomplish great tasks. George Washington didn’t win the Revolutionary War single-handedly. Abraham Lincoln did not free the slaves all alone. The Greatest Generation did not act individually when they slogged through foot deep mud across France and Germany. They did not run around like chickens with their heads cut off as they hopped from Pacific island to Pacific island toward Japan.  Imagine the chaos if everyone had said “It’s my way or the highway.”

Causes

The clearest sign that we’ve lost the ability to sustain the greatness of prior generations and achieve greatness on our own is the chaotic inability of governments at all levels in this country to function as governing bodies rather than as ideologically programmed lock-step un-dead hordes. Ideology today is the bane of our existence. It allows no room for dissent or for the accommodation that is necessary in a democratic political system. The two-party system isn’t much better, but it at least it recognized an essential need for accommodation.

Can We Recover

Yes, but change requires courage, determination, and common-sense. Thinking men and women must come together in a concerted effort to dislodge the ideological and monied interests that have taken control of our once-sacrosanct representative democracy.

We need to abandon the one-dollar-one-vote philosophy of the current Supreme Court and return to the one-person-one vote practice that formed the basis of our democracy before corporations became people.

Most of all, we need to realize that we are all in this together. Adam Smith once postulated that when one prospers all prosper. We need to believe that when one suffers, we all suffer. We need to become a unified society rather than an atomistic bunch of anonymous rugged individuals. Perhaps John Donne expressed it most succinctly.

No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as a manor of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee—John Donne

I am convinced that a renewed recognition of our unity would cause the mess in Washington to disappear in a puff of smoke            

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Every year around this time, I do a couple of things. I make a list of resolutions that I fully intend to ignore. And I review my favorite blogs. This year, I’m having a hard time with both. It isn’t that I don’t want to improve my condition with some common sense guideposts or that I don’t read my favorite blogs. It’s just that other things weigh on my mind. For instance, when el Gavo disappears into the bowels of SACTO, who will we have to kick around? I mean, everyone needs a political punching bag, but California’s Lieutenant Governor has few if any official duties to screw up. However, the Gov Lite is the Vice Executive of the state. Maybe there’s hope after all.

Okay, I’ll start with my resolutions for 2011 and then work on my list of blogs later. Let’s see, in 2011, I resolve to…

  • Watch more television
  • Eat more crappy food
  • Complain more
  • Visit Wasilla AK for a visual tour of Siberia
  • Punch a life-sized cutout of Barack Obama
  • Kick a little old lady in the solar plexus
  • Alienate several faithful friends
  • Rewrite the U.S. Constitution
  • Start smoking again and flick ashes on buffet food
  • Secede from the United Nations

Hmmmm. On reflection, I may need a new list. This reads like the job description of a politician.

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Sometimes I feel like Barack Obama. I don’t mean I share his intellect or charisma and all that stuff. I’m talking about my status in life as a punching bag serving double duty as a pin cushion. Everything I do or say is met with instant criticism. This applies to all aspects of my life but it’s most notable in my eating habits. Here’s the latest example of what I’m talking about.

A few days ago, a woman of my acquaintance brought me something to eat that she had prepared at her home. I dutifully accepted it and placed the wrapped plate and its contents on the table. That’s when she said, “It’s a red snapper.”

I should have kept my mouth shut, thanked her, and thrown it away after she left, which is my usual means of handling food gifts. But I must have been in a bad mood that day. Honesty got the better of me.

Almost instinctively, I said, “I don’t like red snapper.”

I think my words touched a nerve in this nice little lady. Her demeanor shifted into prickly high gear.

These are her exact words. I am not making them up.  She said, “You’re the only man in the world who hates fish.”

Now, I’m familiar with the tendency of politicians to make leaps in logic. That’s their job. It’s a part of their innate DNA structure.

But this nice little lady? I’m still trying to figure out how she made a transition from the specifically named red snapper to the general class of fish. I finally concluded that the shock of my honesty rocked her very sense of being.s

Barrack has his own food-fixation problem. Only, in his case, his  problem extends far beyond a simple criticism of an irrelevant personal habit, although I’m sure someone has criticized him for his failure to divulge his preferences in male shorts. “Boxers or briefs, Mr. President.” In Barack’s case, everything he does or says is a food-fixation problem.

The latest mesmerizing event to enter his universe is a proposed mosque in New York City near 9/11 ground zero. The matter that has enthralled the American public revolves around Barrack’s statement about the proposed mosque. His remarks in their entirety can be found here. Oddly, or perhaps not since Americans have a strong tendency to prefer form over substance, the hullabaloo is almost exclusively about whether he should have said anything at all rather than the substance of his statement. In fact, the Republicans by and large agreed with him.

Yes, everyone agrees that Americans have a right to worship as they choose. Yes, in a capitalistic society everyone has a right to buy property and do pretty much as they choose with it.

And, certainly, America must remain a bastion of religious freedom as a beacon for the oppressed of the world.

But…and I’ve never heard so many “buts” in my life…these are turbulent times and a mosque at ground zero would exacerbate the negative picture good Americans already have of Muslims and possibly inflame our sensitivities.

I’m thinking about all of this as I watch a news report on one of those ubiquitous 24/7 news outlets staffed with generic news readers. According to the report, sixty-eight (68%) of the people polled were against the building of the mosque.

Why did they oppose it? Many of them said something similar to my analysis above. “Yes, we have freedom of religion, but in this case, building a mosque is a bad idea. There’s a difference between a right and the exercise of that right. Common sense is needed here. This is a provocative act and can only inflame Americans against Muslims.”

I tend to agree with the last sentence. We live in volatile times, and it doesn’t take much to raise the dander of Americans. But embedded somewhere in all of the comments that I read and listened to was an underlying theme somewhat similar to the logic of my nice little lady who made a leap from red snapper to fish. Somewhere along the line, the opponents of the mosque have leaped from “the people who want to build the mosque” to “all Muslims.”

Another thread running through the comments of the mosque’s opponents is the subtle threat that if anything happens, it won’t be our fault. The threat manifested itself most prominently when a talking head or a politician said, “Yes, they have the right erect a mosque and worship in it, but what is right and what is prudent aren’t always the same.”

The theme neatly relieves Americans of all responsibility for their failure to exercise any degree of self-control should they feel a need to take advantage of their Second Amendment rights. Phrased more succinctly, “The Devil made me do it.”

Seems to me I’ve heard that refrain in another context. Thank you, Designer in Chief, for giving me free will, but I sure wish you hadn’t sent me to hell when I decided to covet my neighbor’s wife.

When all is said and done, this will turn out to be another tempest in a teapot. Do you remember the Elian Gonzales case? Republican indignation evaporated the moment Elian departed for Cuba. The Republicans are going to use the mosque as a political football in the run up to the November election, hoping fervently for a Hail Mary. And the Democrats are going to cave on the issue just as Harry Reid has already done.

Obama had the courage and the honesty to speak up on the issue, although to be fair, he was rather wishy-washy. The best we can say at this point is that his wishy-washy is morally preferable to the Democratic rank and file’s genetic tendency to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory using the simple tactic of silence.

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How do we explain the startling statistic that a substantial percentage of Americans polled believe that Barack Obama was born in Kenya or some other foreign country?

This despite these facts:

  • A birth certificate for Barack dated 1961 is on file with the registrar of the State of Hawaii.
  • Obama’s birth was reported in the newspapers in Honolulu.
  • A link to images of both of these documents is here.
  • Linda Lingle, the Governor of the State of Hawaii and a conservative Republican, instructed the State  Health Director to personally view Obama’s official birth certificate. Based on the Director’s inspection, Lingle appeared on television and reported that Obama was in fact born in Honolulu, Hawaii.
  • The Supreme Court of the United States has consistently refused to hear appeals of cases questioning the President’s citizenship.

In light of the above, one wonders, would any element or combination of evidentiary elements constitute acceptable proof for the doubters. The answer seems to be “No. Nothing would be acceptable.” Every document released by the Obama Administration and the conservative governor of Hawaii has been rejected by the Birthers.

Some have suggested that the birth frenzy is a perfect example of Hitler’s observation: “Tell a lie often enough and people will eventually believe it.” These aren’t Hitler’s exact words but they certainly summarize an often used propaganda tactic.

But more, the success of the Birthers in making their nonexistent case against Obama proves another, more dangerous point.  Americans possess little if any ability to recognize and separate fact from fiction.

Or, perhaps Americans choose to ignore facts. Driven by high emotion and a powerful aversion to Obama, they simply refuse to accept as valid any and all evidence counter to their twisted outlook.

This is not a pretty picture of our society, and it presages tougher times ahead. Hold onto your hats. We’re going to have a bumpy ride.

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I’d almost phased out of the politics of California when a couple of items popped up on the radar screen.

A day or so ago, Eric Jaye, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s long-time friend and campaign strategist, resigned, ostensibly because of a difference of opinion over how to run Newsom’s campaign for governor of California.

Jaye is a proponent of the Obama approach to 21st Century politics: rouse the Twitter and Facebook crowds and solicit small campaign donations from millions of young voters. Newsom is 40 years old, and Jaye figured he’d relate more effectively to the young crowd than to the oldsters, who probably will identify with Newsom’s strongest opponent in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, 71 year old Jerry Brown.

Somewhere along the line however, Newsom either decided on his own or was convinced by others to revert to a traditional money raising approach, personally hit the phones and call the big donors.

Some analysts theorize that Newsom is distinctly uncomfortable with the Obama strategy because it also calls for personal contact with a lot of young people who are prone to ask potentially embarrassing questions. Newsom, it is thought by some, is more comfortable talking to the big money men, with whom he more closely identifies.

Be that as it may, Newsom replaced Jaye with Garry South, an old-line campaign strategist who favors not only phone contact with the big boys but also a scorched earth policy toward one’s opponent. Thus, with South in charge, we will probably notice an increase in personal attacks against Jerry Brown from the Newsom Camp.

This raises the specter of personal attacks in return from Jerry Brown’s folks, and hoo boy, does Newsom have a lot to be personally attacked about. In the interior of California, the voting population is very conservative. They do nor like Newsom’s stand and actions on gay marriage at all. No siree. Not one bit. And those conservative inlanders, along with an overwhelming Black vote, managed to kill gay marriage in California, at least for the time being.

But gay marriage isn’t the only divisive issue on Newsom’s record. On February 1, 2007, all hell broke loose when the Fog City Journal (some think the Chronicle broke the story) revealed that Newsom had had an affair with the wife of his then campaign manager and best friend.

The news erupted with the force of a couple of A-Bombs and the shock wave quickly circled the globe. Newspapers far and wide and blogs galore were totally consumed with the news to the virtual exclusion of all else. Even Newsom’s now-wife got in the act when she called Newsom’s inamorato “the culprit” and blamed the whole mess on her.

Newsom apologized with a pithy “Everything you’ve heard is true,” and then every one of the principals in the event clamed up tighter than a drum, and to this day, very little is known of the affair. Most of the information floating around is speculation.

Now here’s the kicker. Articles about Newsom have recently appeared in the New York Times and Fast Company Magazine. In both, Newsom addressed the affair, saying among other things that “it wasn’t true that everything you heard was true,” thus casting himself as a liar from the git-go. He went on to say, “There a story that hasn’t been told. Things were more benign than they appeared in print.”

Okay, so Newsom is an admitted liar and all of the facts of the matter haven’t come to light. How does the Greatest Story Never Told factor into Newsom’s new campaign strategy?

Here’s the chain of logic:

· Newsom’s campaign is in trouble

· He fires new-age (almost) campaign manager, Eric Jaye.

· He hires old-age campaign manager Garry South, noted for his scorched earth tactics.

· The new manager is expected to unleash personal attacks against Newsom’s main opponent, Jerry Brown.

· Jerry’s camp is expected to retaliate.

· The darkest blot on Newsom’s record and a likely subject of attacks from the Brown group is Newsom’s affair with his then-campaign manager and best friend’s wife.

· To dampen the effects of the expected attacks, Newsom initiates a preemptive strike, calling the affair and its aftermath benign and intimating that the real story has yet to be revealed.

· In other words, “Ain’t no big t’ing, Brah.”

· Mission accomplished.

However, the Newsom camp may be treading on thin ice by permitting Gavin to put forth the possibility of more to come. Hidden among all of the ambiguous statements is the clear intimation that any and all information released by el Gavo will cast him in the role of Saint and “the woman” as the siren who lured him onto the shoals of sin. Here are some possible scenarios:

Newsom’s version of the untold story will place him in the most favorable light. All or most of the blame will fall on the woman. After all, she is an admitted alcoholic and drug user (although the latter has never been officially verified), and it’s easy to envision this poor drunken woman pestering Newsom until he reluctantly succumbed.

There were only one or two encounters, the story may go, and poor Gavie was so distraught over his betrayal of his best friend that he quickly and sternly told his partner in sex that there would be no more, whereas she had a nervous breakdown or something and checked into rehab.

Later, at some point in the unfolding story, the three of them sat down together and discussed the matter like adults, whereas they all agreed that it was no big deal, just a benign, one-time aberration. Then, they shook hands and went their separate ways.

This or something similar may well be Gavie’s story, but it won’t work. While he might concoct some sort of preemptive cover story to defuse the personal attacks almost sure to come from the Brown side, he runs the risk of opening up a can of worms.

So far, his once-campaign manager and wife have remained resolutely silent. If Newsom opens up, they may do the same. If that happens, everything will plop out in one large plop. And if my guess is right, it may be a very messy plop indeed and likely spell the end of Newsie’s political career.

I could be off base in my analysis. I’ve been wrong before. Other explanations for Gavin’s enigmatic statements are well within the realm of plausibility. One comes to mind.

Quite some time ago, the media was rife with reports of a book in the works about the matter by the woman. The story faded, but if the book is near completion, and if Gavo’s camp is aware of its status, Gavo’s statements could be a preliminary move to counter inflammatory information that the book might include. I doubt this scenario, but anything is possible in San Francisco.

If I were one of Gav’s handler’s, my advice would be simple. STFU. Shut your damned mouth. Let sleeping dogs lie. Everytime this story is about dead, someone, usually the Chronicle, runs something, complete with names.

Now, Gav wants to jump on the band wagon. Enough damage has been done, a family destroyed and a child’s future altered irrevocably. Let the others get on with their lives, Gavster. I repeat, STFU.

Okay, political junkies, keep your eyes out and your ears to the ground. Things happen fast in California.

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I’ve always taken solace in the small things in life, the things that anchor my existence and tell me that all is well with the world. Such a thing buoyed my spirits this morning after my first cup of coffee.

I followed my usual morning routine, shower, mundane middle-America jeans and tee shirt, coffee, turn on tv, boot up desktop, start sipping and listening and browsing. I fully expected to hear from CNN or read in Google’s newsfeed that the world was on the brink of collapse and only Jesus Christ could save it.

But no. Jesus is too ordinary. His name doesn’t evoke heroism, merely a continuing wonder about how the meek are going to inherit the Earth. I have my doubts about that, although I concede sheer numbers may someday raise the meek to a position of strength.

No, at this moment we do not need a Jesus. We need a…a…a…a Chuck Norris, by God! And we’ve got him. Help is on the way. The little thing that brought me solace this morning was a tiny headline stuck way down in the on-line version of the Washington Post. It read “The GOP’s New Savior.”

Wait. Don’t leave me yet. There’s more.

Right beside the headline as big as life (well, not quite) was a picture of Chuck Norris.

You may ask, and rightly so, who gives a crap about the survival of the GOP. Certainly, I do not. But Chuck Norris riding to the rescue is a matter of world-shaking consequence. A GOP revitalized would be a hazard to our health, a biological and environmental catastrophe, a catastrophe to end all catastrophes, the Mother of Catastrophes.

And therein is my dilemma. I have always liked Chuck. He’s this kid from Oklahoma, an ex-Air Force sergeant who taught movie stars the finer points of self-defense, and who eventually became a bigger star than most of those he taught.

And his television show, Walker Texas Ranger, was one of my favorites. I even listed it on my Facebook page.

That was before he endorsed Mike Huckabee in the preceding presidential primary. Huck is a fine guitar player and a master of quips and zingers. But a president? Puleeze. Sorry if I’m insulting people from Arkansas, but that’s just the way it is. We’ve had one president from Hope. That’s enough.

At any rate, when Chuck lined up with Matt, I began to question my own political judgment and taste in movie stars. I even stopped watching Walker, totally confused about my identity. Could I live in my self-created logic-tight brain? I finally decided, no. I discontinued my association with Chuck and Huck and declared my fidelity to the Democratic candidate who, I fervently hoped, would be Barack Obama.

And that was that. Until this morning. When Chuck’s picture mysteriously appeared.

So, where’s my solace?

Chuck doesn’t stand (a) (the)—help me out here grammarians— chance of a snowball in hell of resurrecting the Republican Party.

Not even the personal intervention of The Intelligent Designer could breathe life back into the tired old bromides that have sustained the party of disunity for so long.

All’s well with the world after all.

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