Category Archives: Obama

Poor Obama

Poor Obama! It doesn’t look like he will have much fun in his last year and a half as our President. He didn’t get to accomplish many of the things on his agenda in his first six and a half years either, but at least the Democrats were occasionally on his side. Now he is offering up policies that even many Democrats have no taste for.

Quite a few Democrats do not support the Trans Pacific Partnership. I am talking about Congressional Democrats, but also about citizen Democrats (or civilian Democrats). Unions are often considered bastions of Democratic Party support for Democratic Presidents. However, the unions do not support the TPP.

All too many of us can picture the specter of more and more American factories and American jobs fleeing America as each trade agreement passed and took effect. Although we are told that this agreement will improve the balance of trade for the US we are all having great difficulty accepting this. This puts Obama, who helped negotiate this agreement, in the tough position of being at odds with his party. Republicans want to favor the trade agreement but Obama’s hands are all over it. For Republicans this is the kiss of death.

Next we have to decide whether to change the Patriot Act or to keep it as it is. The inclination in Congress (and for many Americans) is to stop mass collection of domestic phone data. It smacks of the kind of totalitarian state that George Orwell wrote about in 1984, and could eventually put an end to our freedom as it has already put an end to our privacy. We foresee that all that potential for abuse of power could one day result in actual state control over our speech and our actions. Obama has made it clear that he wants to leave the phone collection mechanism as it is. Once again he is at odds with his own party and, of course, predictably and ironically, with many Republicans.

Obama’s advisers have recommended a number of changes for our armed forces which would affect their pay or their pay raises and their benefits in adverse ways. No one likes to cut back on income or benefits when it involves our soldiers. But Obama favors the suggestions which involve privatizing pensions (in its favor, more soldiers would get pensions this way) He has not spoken about the fourteen other recommendations made by his administration. Still these suggestions are highly unpopular and once again do not suggest that Obama will get to go out in a blaze of glory.

So, poor Obama, for real! Can’t he at least, by the grace of God or whoever has power over the universe, find some really “sexy” issue or program, something we can all see as desirable, so that he can have a little fun to end a difficult Presidency. Can’t we send him back into private life with an air of celebration, rather than the same dreary air of someone being pulled backwards by his long coattails, trudging forward burdened by opposition until he is released, finally feeling only relief at being back to operating solely under his own power.

It seems like we could come up with some small, but significant victory that would cheer up all of America. Sadly, I cannot think of one thing that would do that trick. Perhaps something will save Obama from these issues that are too esoteric for most of us to truly understand by injecting a policy win we can all get behind, like an infrastructure fund.

By Nancy Brisson

Ceasefire in Washington is Temporary

Washington is so quiet right now. It may be lulling Americans into a false sense of hope that the hostilities between Congress and the Executive Branch have ended, but, of course, we really understand that this is a very brief ceasefire in a battle that will rage right through to 2016 (unless Dems take back the House in 2014 and keep the Senate). These years of Obama’s presidency have been full of bitter pills that Democrats have had to swallow. The first African American President came to the White House and we were mean to him. Worse, we did not allow him to govern because either 1) we felt he would ruin American by passing bad laws, or 2) we did not want this man in our history books. I feel embarrassed to be an American when I consider the shenanigans of the past five years by grown, educated people who should know better. So what if he read the writing on the wall early on and he knew that he only had the support of his own party for the Affordable Care Act. He was absolutely right about that. It has been sad to watch elected officials acting like they have been mortally offended by the fact that this is not a bipartisan act and to watch these adults whine that they will get their vengeance, the American people be damned.


It is sad that these same elected officials (who possibly won elections that were rigged so that they would win) have ground our government’s forward momentum to a halt at a time when we needed our government to help us adjust to a changed economic environment that requires action rather than obstruction. In today’s Daily Beastis an article by Nick Gillespie that says that Obama has lost the support of the youth vote in America. They are upset at their job prospects, their low wages, their high levels of unemployment and who would blame them. I suppose they really don’t stop to ask themselves if this is really Obama’s fault since he has not been allowed to legislate anything and if he even proposes a bill it is sure to fail. This is certainly understandable because their prospects are about the same today as they were when Obama entered office. They are young. They don’t care if hope and change take time; they are not interested in political backlash. They need to have a life and they need that now. Obama has also had to face quite a few realities as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces that have not allowed him to keep campaign promises he made. He promised way too much. When you make strong promises and then don’t deliver and you do that in this hyperactive news cycle, your feet will be held to the fire. The ubiquitous presence of the NSA that we have become aware of is not helping Obama either. If these young people were seeing their chances to build their own affluence unfurling before them, they would be busy building lives and might not care quite so passionately about Obama’s decisions in relation to Afghanistan or Syria. If there had been funding for training programs and infrastructure improvements and research and innovation, the disaffection of our young people might not have been a factor. I don’t want to see these “beginner” adults abandoning the light and going over to the dark side. I wish just saying “do something” would work, but I know it won’t.


I know that the people who are really trying to change America, the people who are trying to offer us a new America that has no resemblance to the real America, are just waiting in the wings. They are taking a break until the next budget battle which comes after Christmas. We know they are still out there pulling their wicked strings to end hard won freedoms because we just saw the Supreme Court uphold a Texas law to prevent abortions after 20 weeks (even in cases where the mom might die). We see them refusing to appoint liberals to the federal courts because it will tip the court’s balance from right to left. They are correct in assuming that Obama wants to stuff the courts. That is what the party in power usually gets to do. But they like the courts that Bush gave us. They want those courts. They are keeping those Conservative courts because they can. I could never have imagined that America would find itself in the middle of this long and intense ideological battle. As soon as I got a load of Glenn Beck’s act I knew, but I didn’t know that Republicans would win the House in 2010, or that they would get a few fingers onto the flying carpet, a few fingers that have allowed them to hoist themselves onto a corner of that magic carpet and keep it from taking off. People seem to imagine that what we are seeing now is just politics as usual, the normal run of political push and shove. It isn’t. This is all push and no shove. This is a war for America’s future; a war where one side prepared mightily for battle and one side doesn’t even realize that engagement has begun. You had better know what vision of America each side espouses and you had better pick a side. You can’t look at just one issue; you have to look at the big picture. Get a grip, America!




This is the view from the cheap seats.


This blog post is also available at www.brissioni.com

Basically A Rant

 

The correct strategies for America are not always the most selfish ones. It’s not all about us all the time. Sometimes we must look at the big picture because everything is interconnected. Some string that is pulled somewhere else can unravel or re-knit our future.

And, then there is the truth that, at this point in time, the Republicans will not allow Obama to pass any new laws that improve the economy, the infrastructure, or jobs. If we don’t elect Democrats in 2014 we have almost 3 long years to concentrate on foreign affairs. If we truly do not want to get involved in any more wars, I would trust Obama much more than I would trust the Republicans to admonish a dictator without getting us involved in a foreign war. The only way the war in Syria can escalate and suck in the world is if a powerful force like Russia joins in. If Putin is serious about helping get rid of the chemical weapons in Syria, then he probably is not interested in starting World War III. If we stay civil and Russia stays civil then perhaps we can pull this off. Americans do not appear to be too fond of civility right now, sad to say. Instead all the little voices fall in line echoing the charge that Obama is a weak President. I repeat; if Obama can end the use of chemical weapons in Syria without starting a new war, then he is anything but weak.

If there is anything this President does that is weak it is to give Republicans another opening to tout his weakness and force him to bargain when these Republicans know all along that they will say “no” to him again and again and again. This does not make Obama seem weak to me. It makes him seem like a President who respects the Constitution and who tries to give Republicans every opportunity to cut out the partisan politics and do their jobs as outlined in that very Constitution that describes how our government is supposed to work. Nowhere in the Constitution I read does it say that people outside the government should be promised a stronger allegiance than is given to a fair consideration of the laws that build a stronger America.

Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Grover Norquist and the Koch brothers should be like the rest of us. They are citizens with one vote each. But they have found ways to pull the strings of large numbers of Americans turning them into disenchanted citizens and puppet voters who repeat, like mantras, arguments drummed into them by skillful pundits. These pundits know the fears some Americans hold in their hearts and minds and they stoke the fires lit under these fears, bank the coals, and then stoke them again. They have fostered a bunch of conspiracy junkies and they will ruin America if we let them. These pundits have been primed to serve the interests of Grover Norquist, the Koch brothers, the Tea Party and whatever other shadowy figures are in the Conservative Cabal.

So we have plenty of time to take the big view, the long view, while we wait for America to wake up and throw off the strings of the mind controllers who have taken over the GOP.

What would we like to see happen in the Middle East? Perhaps we would like to see strong, healthy Middle Eastern countries where government and religion are separate. Perhaps people in the Middle East will chose peaceful coexistence and tolerance over hate and aggression; these nations’ peoples will find a balance that will allow the citizens to live stable and productive lives in which there is no dictator holding on to all of the nations’ wealth. What can we do to encourage this? Wouldn’t such an outcome have a profoundly positive effect on us and the world? Playing a bit of referee doesn’t seem too much to ask from the rest of the world community. After all we have plenty of time right now to keep an eye on the violations of war behavior which result in the horrors of genocide. If we allow these practices we will never achieve that real peace, tolerance, and prosperity we wish for the Middle East and the world.

If you want Obama to accomplish our goals for our domestic future then you had better raise your voice and tell Republicans to stop obstructionism in Congress, to stop encouraging red states to pass laws that challenge the current laws in America, and to stop brainwashing and scaring gullible Americans. We need to elect Democrats in 2014.

This is the view from the cheap seats.

 

This blog post is also available at www.brissioni.com

 

Whistle-Blowers v. Leakers

 
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This issue of the DOJ and its investigation of reporters, whether Fox News or the AP, comes down to whether you call whistle-blowers heroes or dastardly leakers. The term whistle-blower is meant to sound positive, but what if you are telling secrets that jeopardize national security? What if the President calls some people “leakers” and other people call the same people “whistle-blowers”? Who is correct? Is this like “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” or is there an absolute rubric for deciding who is a whistle-blower and who is a leaker? Some of this seems quite subjective and depends on which side you favor. Some of this inability to differentiate between these groups can be blamed on the current collision of a post-9/11 world with a traditional view of freedom of the press. In fact, the dilution of many of our former freedoms, can be traced to the Bush Administration Patriot Acts.

Some of this depends on how you view President Obama. Is he the mild-mannered Clark Kent, undercover wimp, is he Superman, or is he a super-villain? 
 

 

Did he call “whistle-blowers” “leakers” to cover up dark deeds that were about to be exposed to the light of day? Did these journalists really “leak” secrets which jeopardized national security? Did the DOJ act alone or at the behest of Obama and/or one or more of his cronies/appointees (you see the role of semantics in all of this)?

A lot of people are throwing around an awful lot of speculative charges against the President and chances are we will eventually learn the truth about whether or not there were actual leaks or whether this administration is hunting down innocent and courageous journalists who are just trying to expose wrong-doing. I suspect it must be brutal out there in the 24/7 news cycle to keep coming up with stunning new material.

I like to hold on to my belief that Barack Obama is a good man but I may learn that he has been corrupted by a toxic Washington culture just like most of our other politicians. We must remember that, for the most part, he has been elected as a leader, prevented from exercising the powers of his office, and then labeled weak and ineffective for not exercising his powers. I can see how it certainly might be tempting to pull strings behind the scenes, to protect himself against those who intrigue against him, and to perhaps even overstep in his use of the few powers still available to him. Just because it is tempting, does not mean that Obama has done that. However, as they say, “we will (probably) get to the bottom of this” if there is anything to be worried about.

Put Your Money On The Table

The other day I posted an article in which the GOP complained that the 14 foundations backing the Democrats were far richer than the 75 organizations that back Conservatives, most of which are not foundations but groups formed by people of some influence who love what Conservatives stand for. They were implying that Obama had access to lots more funding than their guy, Mitt Romney. Don’t you believe those Republicans. They are tricky.
The Democrats have tried to pursue an election funding strategy that relies less on big donations from corporations, PAC’s, and Super PAC’s and more on grassroots donations. The huge difficulty with this is that Supreme Court ruling called Citizen’s United, which came out of nowhere, pushed campaign financing right out of reach of grassroots Americans. Obama also did some things that riled up certain groups who were past corporate donors. They are withdrawing financial support from Obama, but in doing so they are revealing the influence they have over the agenda in Washington, DC.
The foundations that back the Democrats are 501 (c) (3) organizations (not-for-profits). They cannot contribute to political campaigns. This is one big reason that Obama’s election funds are lagging behind those of Mitt Romney, quite a bit behind. The GOP makes a big stink every time Hollywood connections entertain Obama and raise funds for him. Mitt Romney is being expensively wined and dined also but by businessmen instead of movie stars.
If you agree with me that the Republican agenda is too extreme. If you agree that there is a lot more on their plate than just small government. If you agree that they have been quite mysterious about how small a government they are shooting for. If you agree that totally unregulated Capitalism will run amok.  If you believe that along with their obsession with making our federal government tiny, we get a sort of religious, moral agenda that will hardly bode well for freedom of religion, or even just freedom in American – then you need to make a contribution to the Obama campaign, however small. He does not have the deep pockets to plunder that the Republicans claim he has.
Make your contribution to Obama’s 2012 Election Campaign today.

Racism?

I am saddened by the way Congress has treated our 44th President. Is it possible that what is happening here is intentional or unintentional racism? This stonewalling that is going on in Congress I blame mostly on the Republicans. They have produced a lot of bills in the House, but they plant a little Democrat “bomb” in each bill which makes it impossible to pass it. This then allows them to accuse the Democrats of being the obstacles to progress, the “do-nothings” and they believe they waltz (never hip hop) away unscathed. We are not stupid though and the rubber-glue trick is getting really old. Still the trick you can see through is better than the one you haven’t figured out yet.
Of course things did not get off to a good start and we will not be allowed to forget this even though I wish you would put yourself in Obama’s place for a bit. He was just elected, he had made promises to the American people and we were quite enthusiastic about the promises he made. Then woosh the economy deflates like a bad soufflé; people are in foreclosure left and right; the economy which has been bleeding jobs looks like it will bleed out (OK, it’s a mixed metaphor, get over it); and he is faced with an angry and mean Republican minority. What would you have done if you were in his shoes? Would you have tried to solve the problems coming at you (like the guy with the tennis racket batting away the bat), would you have tried to get some of the agenda you promised the America people accomplished? Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh were out there and their attacks were dialed up, the Tea Party was out there, Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann were everywhere. All anyone seemed to want was to get rid of Obama.
I sort of thought of Obama as our first “nerd” president, and I mean that in the kindest, nerds-are-very-successful-people sort of way. Sometimes, however, nerds don’t put their people skills first. Maybe Obama, tucked into the middle of his cronies, didn’t schmooz enough. But I do also believe that there were some people who were not happy that America had an African-American President. White men have had a lock on the presidency forever.
Whatever the reasons, Obama seems so lonely at the top. He has some great advisors and Leon Panetta seems to like him, but he seems to feel more comfortable out of Washington than in it and I don’t blame him. I am constantly embarrassed by the way he has been treated. If he was a bit inexperienced he could have been schooled instead of derided. I believe some people in Congress have acted very badly and they should be held accountable rather than rewarded for their behavior and I’m not talking about the Democrats, although some of them probably were less than helpful also. I further believe that under scrutiny we will admit that these “men” have been acting like playground bullies and that some of their motives stink (with a faint whiff of racism). These guys have been so nasty to Obama that I cannot imagine why he would agree to be our President for four more years. If he is elected, which I hope he will be, it would be interesting if people would make an effort to work with our first African-American President to solve some of the problems we have in our nation through a spirit of compromise and capability. Be your better selves!