Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Obama Starts Off As A Divider

For those of you who read these posts, you know that I have already expressed my disappointment in Obama’s abandonment of the whole “Hope Over Fear” pledge, which was the centerpiece of his campaign. Obama going on TV everyday and warning us of economic Armageddon unless congress signs off on $325 million for STD prevention, is just as fearmongery as anything George W. Bush was ever accused of hyping .

I also understand the limits and rules of the political game. Obama has to convince people that the situation is dire if he wants to get his agenda through. However, his supporters and detractors alike should be honest enough to admit that he is not fulfilling his promise of a tone change in Washington.

Today Obama’s oft repeated promise of tone change, a post-partisan era and unity once again showed itself to be little more than political sloganeering as Obama put forward a bill, so partisan, so ideologically charged that not even a single Republican could find a reason to vote for it. In fact, even 11 House Democrats abandoned the popular President, in order to oppose the pork laden spend fest that was the Obama “stimulus” package.

I keep telling myself; ‘The guys not stupid. He must have known that this bill didin’t have a chance at getting Republicans on-board.’ That’s what bothers me so much about it.

Obama could have put forward a bill that was a bit cheaper. One that had a chance of garnering bi-partisan support. He said he wanted votes from both sides of the aisle and he came into office with enough good will to achieve it if that’s what he really wanted. However, Obama seemingly couldn’t wait to cast off this illusion of a new era of compromise and instead put forward a bill that flies in the face of everything Republican’s stand for.

Partisans will love this. That’s not the point though. The point is that eight days into his administration, Obama has shown himself to be a completely different guy than the man who talked of our “unity of purpose” in his inaugural address.

It will be easy for some of Obama’s most heartfelt and loyal supporters to write off the discrepancy between Obama’s words and actions as one of necessity given our current situation. However, I will remind you that the campaign was not that long ago. Obama knew what lay ahead and yet even after his electoral victory kept using the same rhetoric in order to appeal to his supporters and those who didn’t vote for him, but who were open to his promise of a new style of leadership.

So with all due respect, I ask this of Barack Obama’s most loyal supporters. Will you be willing to overlook hypocrisy over the next four years, if the president’s agenda suits your desires or will you hold president Obama accountable for the promises he made and the way he presented himself to the American people?

Your answer to that question should tell you a lot about yourself. Especially those who are relatively new to the poltical process, and I know that’s a whole lot of you.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Obama's Rookie Mistake

In his first week as President, Barack Obama made it a priority to be seen as breaking with Bush policy. In a largely symbolic move he ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed. If he’s lucky, Obama will see his order come to fruition sometime next year.

Next, he ordered that interrogation methods used on suspected Jihadists be limited to the toothless guidelines laid out in the Army Field Manual. Whatever one's opinion of this move as policy, one has to admire Obama’s bravery. Turning U.S. policy 180 degrees from where it has been for the past seven attack-free years is almost certain to be at the center of any debate that occurs following another terrorist attack on American soil.

The break from the Bush years that really caught me off guard however occurred on Friday. From the time of the Florida recount to the childish boos that greeted him at Obama's inauguration, George W. Bush never responded to his critics in the media. Not to the hyperpartisan voices of Bill Moyers or Keith Olberman. Not to the borderline senility of Helen Thomas. Not to Paul Krugman who spent eight years on the op-ed page of the Times praying for a recession. Not to the deranged and uninformed rantings of comedians, actors and musicians who suddenly fancied themselves members of the pundit class because someone stuck an Air America microphone in their face. Certainly not to the thousands of left-wing bloggers whose visceral and pathological hatred of President Bush sparked numerous conspiracy theories which often culminated in calls for harm to befall high-ranking members of the Administration such as Dick Cheney or the cancer-stricken Tony Snow. For eight years, Bush kept above the fray. For better or worse, he attended to the business of the nation rather than engage the other side. Three days into his administration Obama attacked Rush Limbaugh.

Predictably, many on the left cheered when in defense of his stimulus package Obama said:

"You can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done."

This was seemingly in response to Limbaugh’s recent comments in which he openly stated that he hopes Obama’s agenda “fails”.

Whatever you think of Rush Limbaugh, it is impossible to deny the influence that he wields among the Republican base. In fact, it is likely that it extends even further. Limbaugh’s show was the catalyst for the talk radio boom of the nineties and helped turn moderates and independents against Bill Clinton leading to the G.O.P’s big mid-term victories in 1994. His audience of nearly 14 million listeners a week is the highest of any radio show in the nation.

Ironically, Obama followed his attack on Limbaugh with a call for bipartisanship. What Obama failed to realize is that because of the lack of high profile G.O.P leaders in the government, Limbaugh is now one of the de facto leaders of the Republican party. Talk radio is by far the most effective conduit for Republican ideas. It is to conservatives in the wilderness what newspaper editorial pages and blogs such as Kos and Huff Po were to liberals during the Bush years.
In attacking him, Obama has not only given Limbaugh a high profile shout out, but has also made Limbaugh relevant to the process. His attack on a beloved conservative figure will serve as a rallying cry to his devoted listeners, many of whom were prepared to give Obama the benefit of the doubt in his early days in office. No more.

Furthermore, by making a statement in which the implication was that he doesn’t take Rush Limbaugh seriously and that the American people shouldn’t either, Obama exposed the fact that he clearly does take Limbaugh seriously. Why else would he find it necessary to mention him?

Obama is the President Of the United States. I doubt that Obama would sit down with the radical leader of a third world country elevating that leader’s cause and tactics by the mere presence of America’s highest ranking official unless he felt that the United States had something to gain. So why would he draw attention to his detractors if their points were lacking validity?

Perhaps I’m overthinking this. Perhaps Obama simply didn’t think about what he said before he said it. Maybe this is the sequel to his now infamous comments about “bitter” Pennsylvanians clinging to their guns and bibles because they lack job security. If this is the case, then it tells us that Obama has not yet made the transition from grass-roots, left-wing candidate Obama to President-of-all-the- people Obama.

Obama will soon realize that there is nothing to be gained by setting up a talk-radio straw man, because as Bill Clinton learned, talk radio is not made of straw and will fight back if engaged by the President. Don’t believe me? Consider this. A few weeks ago Republicans were all talking about how they hoped Obama was a “successful” president. It was Limbaugh who was the first to make the point that if Republicans truly believe that big government is an economic albatross and that history shows us that it is destined to lead to more problems in the long run than it solves in the short term, then we have a patriotic duty to do everything we can to make sure that Obama’s agenda doesfail.

Once Limbaugh’s statement was reported out of context by the mainstream media in an attempt to expose those mean and nasty Republicans who were refusing to cave into Obama’s plans, I think that many wanted to know if Limbaugh could have actually said something so far outside the spirit of bipartisanship. Once they saw what Limbaugh actually said it was a huge wake-up call for Republicans who up until them had been disillusioned by November’s electoral defeat and were afraid of picking a fight with a president whose honeymoon was expected to last years.

When Obama mentioned Limbaugh by name, Rush’s statement went from being a minor news story to a rallying cry among the Republican base. Come tomorrow, Limbaugh will have additional justification for working against Obama because he was attacked personally by the leader of the free world. It’s a win-win for Rush.

If President Obama wants to get bogged down in a fight with talk radio at the expense of his policy plans, conservatives should welcome it. It will distract him from his agenda and ensure that it fails. In all honesty, I hope it does.


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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Time To Put The Race Issue Behind Us

Barack Obama’s first speech as President was monumental for the circumstances surrounding it, but not incredibly memorable or consequential for what was said by the new President. There were no standout lines, no soaring rhetoric, it was a straightforward speech aimed to appeal to everyone regardless of party and is likely an indicator of the strategy of triangulation, which is to be pursued by the new Commander In Chief.

While Obama’s speech lacked anything even remotely controversial, the speech marked a turning point in our history far greater than the transition of power itself. Jan 20th 2009 should be remembered as the day that the issue of race was diminished in importance to a point near insignificance.

This realization may be hard for some to swallow. Over the years the issue of race has been used to avoid discussion of serious problems facing the poorest African American communities as well as a weapon with which to bludgeon those who criticize the nanny state and the un-American nature of outdated Affirmative Action programs.

The torch was passed on Tuesday afternoon, but it did not simply pass from George W. Bush to Barack Obama, but also from a generation of civil rights leaders who until now represented the African American community to the post-racial leadership of the first black president.

Nowhere was this more on display than in Reverend Joseph Lowery’s statement following the Obama speech. Lowery, who seemed to have missed the last three months or so gave an impressively silly Benediction in which he prayed:

“…help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around ... when yellow will be mellow ... when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right.”

In a rhyming fashion reminiscent of the now equally irrelevant Jesse Jackson, Lowery proved to have completely missed the significance of the preceding 20 minutes. The day came, and Lowery still thinks he’s sitting at the back of the bus.

For anyone, black or white, to continue to imply that the racist tendencies of Americans are responsible for any of our country’s ills, be they local or nationwide, is the height of absurdity. A black man now occupies the most coveted job in the world. The fight for blacks to judged on the content of their character rather than the color of their skin is over. Martin Luther King won.

With victory comes a new normal. Black and white, public officials and private citizens alike should now receive scorn from all sides if they attempt to use race to justify their actions, or to criticize those who have stood in the way of their agenda.

Folks like Rep. Bobby Rush, who played the race card in defending Senator designate Roland Burris by warning Senate leadership against going “…on record to deny one African-American from being seated in the US Senate", deserve to be castigated with the same derision as we reserve for those who make comments deemed to be insensitive towards minorities.

Any attempt to claim institutionalized racism in today’s America should be met with a hand gesturing towards The White House.

If race-based excuses and the view held by some that America is a fundamentally racist country have not dissolved by this time, then I fear that the historic significance of Tuesday’s inauguration was a mirage. I hope that this is not the case.

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Last Hurrah For The Bush Haters

In a final act of low class BDS which has defined the left over the last eight years, today Obama supporters openly Mocked outgoing President George W. Bush as he took the stage for the swearing in of President-Elect Obama.

"Nah, Nah, Nah, Nah. Hey Hey Hey. Goodbye" they sang. Too his face. One last act of mockery aimed at the man who had kept them safe and who himself had kept silent in the face of their temper tantrums for the last seven years.

Many psychological studies of the left's eight year destruction of anything resembling political discourse in this nation will be penned in the coming years.

I believe it is important to point out the lack of class exhibited by these individuals as they celebrate, so that our citizens can compare and contrast.

We on the right can choose our own path in the coming years and while it will not be my path, it will be very hard to blame those on the right who choose to treat Obama the same way his predecessor was treated by many who make up the current president's base.

This article sums it up well. I recommend everyone read it:

January 20, 2009
Bush and the Bush-HatersBy J. R. Dunn

There is one thing certain to go through Barack Obama's mind during the inauguration: at one point or another, while glancing at George W. Bush, he will consider the treatment that Bush got as president and hope to God he suffers nothing even vaguely similar.

It can be stated without fear of serious argument that no previous president has been treated as brutally, viciously, and unfairly as George W. Bush.

Bush 43 endured a deliberate and planned assault on everything he stood for, everything he was involved in, everything he tried to accomplish. Those who worked with him suffered nearly as much (and some even more -- at least one, Scooter Libby, was convicted on utterly specious charges in what amounts to a show trial).

His detractors were willing to risk the country's safety, its economic health, and the very balance of the democratic system of government in order to get at him. They were out to bring him down at all costs, or at the very least destroy his personal and presidential reputation. At this they have been half successful, at a high price for the country and its government.

Although everyone insists on doing so, it is impossible to judge Bush, his achievements, or his failings, without taking these attacks into account. Before any serious analysis of the Bush presidency can be made, some attempt to encompass the campaign against him must be carried out. I hope no one is holding his breath.

It's quite true that other presidents have suffered baseless attacks. Lincoln was generally dismissed as an imbecile, an unwashed backwoodsman, and an orang-outang (as they spelled it then). There exists an infamous Confederate cartoon portraying him with devil's horns and one foot on the Constitution. Next to no one at the time could have foreseen the towering stature Lincoln would at last attain.

Richard M. Nixon probably stands as the most hated president prior to Bush. But that was largely thanks to a relatively small coterie of east-coast leftists and their hangers-on, angered by Nixon's early anti-communism (which had become more "nuanced" by the time he took office, as the 1970 opening to China clearly reveals.). Nixon had the support of most of the country, the famed "silent majority", during his first term, and if not for his own personal failings, he would unquestionably have prevailed over his enemies. Difficult though it may be to believe, Nixon was only one paranoid slip away from being considered a great or near-great president
With Reagan, the coterie was even smaller and more isolated. His enemies continually underestimated him as a "B-movie actor" (which, by the way, showed a serious misunderstanding as to how the old studio system actually worked), and were just as continually flummoxed by his humor, his intelligence, and his unexcelled skill at communication. As the outpouring of public emotion surrounding his state funeral made clear, Reagan today stands as one of the beloved of all modern presidents.

Bush is alone at being attacked and denied support from all quarters -- even from many members of his own party. No single media source, excepting talk radio, was ever in his corner. Struggling actors and comics revived their careers though attacks on Bush. A disturbed woman perhaps a half step above the status of a bag lady parked outside his Crawford home to throw curses at him and was not only not sent on her way but joined by hundreds of others with plenty of spare time on their hands, an event covered in minute-by-minute detail by major media.
At least two films, one produced play, and a novel (by the odious Nicholson Baker, a writer with the distinction of dropping further down the ladder of decency with each work -- from sophisticated porn in Vox to degrading the war against Hitler in last year's Human Smoke) appeared calling for his assassination -- a new wrinkle in presidential criticism, and one that the left will regret. And let's not forget that tribune of the voiceless masses, Michael Moore, whose Fahrenheit 911 once marked the end-all and be-all of political satire but today is utterly forgotten.

While FDR was accused of having engineered Pearl Harbor (as if even an attempted attack on the US would not have been enough to get the country into WW II in real style), no president before Bush was ever subjected to the machinations of an entire conspiracy industry. The 9/11 Truthers, a mix of seriously disturbed individuals and hustlers out to pull a profitable con, accused Bush and his administration of crimes that put the allegations against Roosevelt in the shade, and with far less rational basis. These hallucinations were picked up the mass media, playing the role of transmission belt, and various fringe political figures along the lines of Cynthia McKinney.

But even this pales in light of the actions of the New York Times, which on its downhill road to becoming a weekly shopper giveaway for the Upper West Side, seriously jeopardized national security in the process of satisfying its anti-Bush compulsion. Telecommunications intercepts, interrogation techniques, transport of terrorist captives, tracking of terrorist finances... scarcely a single security program aimed at Jihadi activity went unrevealed by the Times and -- not to limit the blame -- was then broadcast worldwide by the legacy media. At one point, Times reporters published a detailed analysis of government methods of searching out rogue atomic weapons, a story that was no doubt read with interest at points north of Lahore, and one that we may all end up paying for years down the line. The fact that Bush was able to curtail any further attacks while the media as a whole was working to undermine his efforts is little less than miraculous.

As for his own party, no small number of Republicans (not all of them of the RINO fraternity) made a practice of ducking out on their party leader. Many refused to be photographed with him, several took steps to be out of town when he was scheduled to appear in their districts, and as for the few who actually spoke out in his favor... well, the names don't trip easily into mind. This naked pusillanimity played a large role in the GOP's 2006 and 2008 electoral debacles. Until the party grasps this, don't look for any major comeback.

And last but not least (I think we can safely overlook the flying shoes, which have been covered down to the last aglet), Bush is the sole American chief executive -- perhaps the sole leader in world history -- to have had a personality disorder named after him, the immortal Bush Derangement Syndrome. Few at this point recall that this was an actual psychological effort at diagnosing the president's effect on the tender psyches of this country's leftists. Was there a Hitler syndrome? A Stalin syndrome? The very existence of BDS says more about the left in general than it does about Bush.

What were the reasons for this hatred and the campaign that grew out of it? We can ask that question as often as we like, but we'll get no rational answer. All that we can be sure of is that Bush's actual policies and personality had little to do with it. Al Gore's egomaniacal attempt to defy this country's constitutional rules of succession merely acted as a trigger, giving the left a pretext to open up the attack. The same can be said about lingering bitterness over Bill Clinton's impeachment. While certainly a factor, it by no means accounts for a complete explanation. After all, did the GOP of the 70s go overboard in avenging Richard Nixon's forced resignation by working over Jimmy Carter? The best course was actually that which they followed, to allow Mr. Peanut to destroy himself.

As in all such cases, Bush hatred involves a number of factors that will be debated by historians for decades to come. But one component that cannot be overlooked is ideology, specifically the ideologization of American politics. It is no accident that the three most hated recent presidents are all Republican. These campaigns are yet another symptom of the American left's collapse into an ideological stupor characterized by pseudo-religious impulses, division of the world into black and white entities, and the unleashing of emotions beyond any means of rational control. The demonization of Bush -- and Reagan, and Nixon -- is the flip-side of the messianic response to Barack Obama.

There's nothing new about any of this. It's present in Orwell's 1984 in the "Five-Minute Hate" against the imaginary Emmanuel Goldstein, himself based on Leon Trotsky. The sole novel factor is its adaptation as a conscious tactic in democratic politics. That is unprecedented, and a serious cause for concern.

Being a Democrat, Obama has little to worry about, even with the far-left elements of his coalition beginning to sour on him. The ideological machinery is too unwieldy to swing around in order to target a single figure. Even if circumstances force him to violate the deeper tenets of his following, personal factors -- not limited to skin color -- will serve to protect him.
For the country as a whole, the prospects are bleaker. The left is convinced that hatred works, that it's a perfect tactic, one that will work every time out. They have already started the process with Sarah Palin, their next target in their long row of hate figures. They're wrong, of course. In a democracy, hatred is not a keeper, as the Know-Nothings, Radical Republicans, segregationists, Birchers, and many others have learned to their eventual dismay. But the process can take a long time to work itself out -- nearly a century, in the case of racial segregation -- and no end of damage can occur in the meantime. One of the byproducts of the campaign against Bush was to encourage Jihadis and Ba'athists in Iraq with the assurance of a repetition of Saigon 1975 as soon as the mad and bad Bush 43 was gotten out of the way. This time, the price was paid by the Iraqi people. But in the future, the bill may be presented somewhat closer to home.

And as for the "worst president in history" himself, George W. Bush has exhibited nothing but his accustomed serenity. Despite the worst his enemies could throw at him, his rehabilitation has already begun (as can be seen here, here, here, and here). He will be viewed at last as a man who picked up the worst hand of cards dealt to any president since Roosevelt and who played it out better than anyone had a right to expect. As Barack Obama seems to have realized, there is much to be learned from Bush, a man who appears to personify the golden mean, never too despondent, never too overjoyed, and never at any time overwhelmed.

Other presidents may encounter the same level of motiveless, mindless hatred, others may suffer comparable abuse -- but we can sure that no one will ever meet it with more equanimity than George W. Bush.

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

"Hope" A Casuality Of The Recession

It turns out that the whole “Hope” thing was just a talking point. Surprised? Today Barack Obama proved that his bumper sticker friendly, campaign slogan of “Hope Over Fear” was just that. A “slogan”.

The slogan implied that some politicians have exploited the fears of the American people over the past eight years on issues such as terrorism and other threats from abroad in order to gain support for a political agenda and that Obama would govern differently. Whether or not you agree with his assessment of the least eight years, you’d imagine that Obama would at least wait until he was in office before breaking a promise that essentially made up the basis for his entire campaign.

In his first policy speech since winning the election Obama attempted to make Americans even more nervous about the economy than they already are in order to gain traction for his massive government spending legislation.

“I don't believe it's too late to change course, but it will be if we don't take dramatic action as soon as possible. If nothing is done, this recession could linger for years. The unemployment rate could reach double digits. Our economy could fall $1 trillion short of its full capacity, which translates into more than $12,000 in lost income for a family of four. We could lose a generation of potential and promise, as more young Americans are forced to forgo dreams of college or the chance to train for the jobs of the future. And our nation could lose the competitive edge that has served as a foundation for our strength and standing in the world.

In short, a bad situation could become dramatically worse.”


“We could lose a generation of potential and promise, as more young Americans are forced to forgo dreams of college or the chance to train for the jobs of the future.”

Whoa! No fear there!

I believe that Obama is greatly exaggerating the dangers of the current crisis, however, regardless of that, Obama knows that this tactic could work. You have to get the American people on your side if you want to pass legislation such as this and just as with decisions involving war and peace, it is important that Americans know the consequences of inaction.

However, today’s statement was exactly the kind of thing that Obama promised NOT to do .

So for those of you who bought into the whole “Hope Over Fear” thing, you should really ask yourself, just how much of a pass are you going to give Obama before you begin to reassess your high opinion of him as a “different” kind of poltician?

- Dan Joseph

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009