penpusher: (Obama For You)
Exactly eight years ago today, I wrote a post talking about the presidency of George W. Bush. He has just taken office two months before I started this journal in 2001. None of us could have predicted what would happen back in January of that year, through the tumultuous eight years that followed.

And now, it's time to do it again: time to look back on the job the White House resident did over the past eight.



President Obama didn't have a strong economy, like his predecessor had, entering the Oval Office. In fact, we were on the brink of both a nationwide and possibly a global depression when he took the oath of office.

So, he didn't get to just kick back and enjoy the first few months of his "honeymoon;" he had some serious business to attend to - and he did. Bailing out Wall Street, rescuing the Auto Industry and stabilizing our economy so that we would avoid a financial abyss. Certainly Republicans don't give proper credit for the decisive action President Obama took to get our situation stabilized in those early days, that set the tone for the rest of his term.

Osama bin Laden. The scourge of the west that never could be captured or killed, finally met his fate under the Obama Administration.

But there were many issues that still remain unresolved. Racism is still a very big issue in our country. Classism likewise has yet to be addressed. And, at least when it comes to our election, sexism was the story.

It's interesting to me how everyone is side-stepping what seems, at least to me, the most obvious and most likely reason Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump. She is a woman and we still have an issue with women being in charge of many things in this land including our government.

Knowing all of the provable facts about The Donald vs. all of the accusations against Hillary, you have to wonder how anyone would feel comfortable voting for a guy with that kind of record. But, if you believe that a woman shouldn't be Commander in Chief, you would vote for a man with twice the flaws.

And that's just the problem... he may actually have twice the flaws. We simply don't know yet because there's so much that he is keeping hidden.

Even as President Obama made his final press conference, a very different experience from Donald Trump's attempt to have a press conference, he tried to keep everyone calm, to reassure us that we are still here, that things aren't the end of the world until they are.

But that echoes the element I suggested that a President does best. Even in my summation of George W. Bush's tenure in Washington DC, I noted his greatest moment was an inspirational action - a perfect pitch from the mound of Yankee Stadium right after the 2001 attacks.

That was the kind of moment that makes you feel pride, it makes you feel connected, it gives you a sense of strength and that maybe we're going to be okay, despite how everything looks. That is where a president can shine the brightest and encourage citizens to take charge of their lives, to get up and do something similar!

And President Obama had many times where he needed to present such moments, usually after some mass shooting in some part of the country for a varying host of reasons. He was the Scoutmaster: helping us along but reminding us that WE, as citizens, needed to actually do the work to make it work, but that we could make it through.

What sort of message will our new leader send?

This is the last and final time I get to use this icon attached to this post. I made this icon specifically because as the President himself had said: I'm everybody's president. He truly thought about all Americans and their situations and circumstances and how to make improvements for people who needed help. He may not have gotten everything he had hoped to accomplish done, but he gave it his best efforts.

But before we conclude, I welcome and invite you to say what you think of President Obama here... good or bad. Talk about his policies, his efforts, his style, his singing voice, whatever!

Please leave a thought about him as we say goodbye, and thanks for doing so!
penpusher: (Obama For You)
I didn't have a valentine, so I decided to celebrate the President of the United States of America. Sure, I could wait until Monday, since that is "President's Day," but this is really more of a note that needs to be said sooner rather than later.

Immobility v. Unfairness.

Austerity is kind of a big deal right now, especially for Republicans as they attempt to win back the White House this year. It seems they want to paint President Obama as someone willing to spend someone else's money, some sort of "taxation without representation" leader "throwing away" cash on his own concepts.

There are a couple of ways to be greedy. The most obvious way is to grab all the money you can. But the other way is to block people who need funds from getting them. And that's what Austerity is somewhat about. It's a way of cutting back on the spending at a time when we are dealing with trying to make the economy grow.

Now we clearly don't WANT a huge National Debt. But in order to avoid a massive meltdown of the economy, something had to be done. The Debt ceiling was raised. The economy did stabilize enough to prevent a depression, which I think everyone can agree, needed to be avoided.

But the conversation is about cutting programs, cutting welfare, cutting medicare (which Reps are placing blame for with Obamacare, despite the fact that we're still about two years away from that going into effect). The Republicans are harping on the debt as something Obama was to blame for and that they are going to be losing out when it comes to money, because it will be going to programs they don't want to benefit people they don't know (read: care about).

Now everybody knows that the United States isn't "fair." The deck is stacked so that the people who are in that infamous 1% will stay there, as will their children, and their children, and so on and so on. The issue really is can you find a way to succeed. Is it possible to escape extreme poverty and be able to live the American Dream?

Yes, a lot of exceptional people who came up with some genius ideas have been able to rise from humble beginnings to become wealthy. But currently, there is an apparent "lockdown" on this mobility, as it appears that with the widening gap between rich and poor, the most hard hit among us are barely able to cover the basics, let alone set aside any money for their dreams. And that makes this a very different circumstance and era we are living through right now.

It's an imperfect world. There are choices to be made and sometimes those decisions are going to be difficult. I mean, we've just been in a couple of wars and through a very dramatic economic turn. But we survived that element and things are slowly coming back.

It's always so much more difficult to prove how successful this kind of circumstance is when you can't show what would have happened if these actions hadn't been taken, and that makes it at lot more difficult to demonstrate how right the choices were. No, we haven't simply "bounced back" from the horrors of 2008, but we didn't go "splat" either though it looked like we might for a few weeks there). And we are moving in the right direction.

But here's the thing about Austerity. We are a consumer economy. We need people to buy things to lift us out of the doldrums. That relies on citizens being willing and able to afford to do that, and THAT relies on more and more citizens feeling comfortable enough to start spending again.

So, while we do need to consider what to do about the National Debt, we need to get things rolling again. And that's where we're at right now.

I've been trying to listen to the Republicans to see if they are more in tune with what the country, as a whole, needs. That's a tough assignment because it's a new flavor every month. I wonder if Ron Paul is going to be a front runner at any time during the process. My feeling is no, since he isn't the sort that will fall in line with the old GOP leaders who have a serious agenda and intend to enact it, much as they did from 2001-2009. Paul is an independent thinker, a guy who really *could* be labeled a Maverick, unlike McCain and his running mate from four years past. And Mavericks are NOT what the GOP wants; certainly not now!

My fear is that the Republicans are going to keep repeating their rhetoric over and over again and that people will eventually wear down, believe them and buy into it. Don't laugh! I mean the whole Obama Birth Certificate actually had some traction there, so this wouldn't be unprecedented!

But then, Osama bin Laden got dead. The Auto Industry got saved. The Iraq war concluded.

About the only thing that the Reps have to hammer hard against President Obama is this Austerity issue. So, expect that to happen loudly and longly from now until the Conventions and debates this summer and autumn.

(x-posted publicly to [livejournal.com profile] greedfactor)

Iraq.

Feb. 27th, 2009 06:31 pm
penpusher: (Obama BW)
*sigh*

Ok. So here's what happened.

President Bush had a huge surplus when he took office on January 20, 2001. After 9/11/01, he claimed that Iraq had WMDs and his "sources" confirmed this. Iraq was the next terror center that was going to take a shot at the USA.

How that all came about is muddy to say the least, but one thing we do know: Bush had an army, he had the funding, and he had motivation to jump in, before the United Nations could do a proper search to determine if there actually was anything there. Why would they be so keen to force the issue before they were sure? Well, again, that's another issue which we can't prove, but it sure seemed like the agenda was to get into Iraq whether or not there was any reason to do so.

By bombing Baghdad and moving troops in to secure the area, what was accomplished? Government contractors could be sent in to start rebuilding. Government "liberators" could be brought in to start liberating. And Iraq would presumably be in the USA's debt for all of the good works we were doing, and would need to pay us back in the most obvious way possible: that of the vast oil fields that are there, and the rights to pump that crude into the vehicles of all those SUVs that were so popular in the early part of the 21st Century.

But, as is always the case in any western involvement in the Middle East, things didn't go according to plan. And despite all of the time, energy, money and lives that have been given in this cause, it's the USA that has paid dearly for the involvement in this country and it doesn't seem like there is any hope of repayment by Iraq for what we have done. In fact, Iraq is very happy letting the US continue to spend our cash there to support this cause, while it sits on a very hefty surplus of its own.

That brings us to President Obama and his plans to fix things. The budget that is out there now is a problem because it is, for the most part, continuing what GWB started. Our military budget is still huge and our investment in Iraq doesn't seem to be going away.

My only thought about this is that maybe Obama has found some way to coax Iraq into giving us the oil, or at least paying in some other way in exchange for our continuing support, and that this will help balance things a bit. I can't imagine that he wouldn't work on reconfiguring the budget in some more significant way without that being a part of the equation.

My problem is that this feels a little bit like a gambler in a cold streak to me. We have been losing and losing at this Iraq table with Bush placing the bets of human lives and American money over and over for the duration of his presidency. Now Obama steps in, sees how far in the hole we are, and is somehow hoping that his luck will change everything around? He's going to keep betting there?

I mean, it's possible that Obama will have more success when it comes to this situation, through his diplomatic style and his better understanding, but I'm worried that this could backfire in a big way and that we'll be even more swamped, and the support he is enjoying from the American Public will evaporate.

This is a huge job; it's going to take a lot of work, planning, focus and tough choices. So, we need to be clear. How is this budget going to bring us closer to where we need to be and how is all of this going to play out for our military, our country and everyone in it?
penpusher: (I Obama NY)
Several things converged on my head in the past twenty-four hours that made me think to do a thinkpost... which I haven't formally done in a while.

The first thing that happened was [livejournal.com profile] angryvixen made a post about homework, more specifically about kids not doing homework, and about preparing students for the tougher, more unforgiving nature of the real world, after school sent them off to the rest of their lives.

Next, [livejournal.com profile] tamperevident made mention of the fact that Merriam-Webster has chosen the word "w00t" as the "Word Of The Year."

Then, I literally stumbled into a piece someone wrote about Harvard Management Consultants. This was written thirteen months ago, but I think it's got to be pretty much the same story today as November 2006.

And finally TBS ran the annual "Christmas In Washington" program, taped this past Sunday, where The President sat quietly while the likes of Katherine McFee, Heather Headley and Vanessa Hudgens vocalized. Then, as per tradition, he had to give a thank you of sorts at the end of the evening. He got through the simple speech unscathed, and he had this little look on his face after he uttered the last syllable that seemed to say, "whew! I made it! Go me!"

And that all sort of synthesized into my thinking about the topic of preparedness.

We aren't ready. We simply are not ready for the challenges that are about to face us. We couldn't handle the challenges we were given so far this century. There is no commitment to excellence, but there's plenty of pride. There's no sense that we are improving from where we were as a nation but there's lots of talk. Yes there are always people who are outstanding, people who prove that the human spirit can still inspire greatness. But then you hear about the Ivy League swindlers. Or just look at the DC administration. Is this the new way the rich get richer?

To me, it feels like we're on the ocean shoreline, and the water all rushed away from the beach in a huge hurry. But, no big deal. No one is worrying about that, because there are so many other things to distract, cajole, waylay or divert us. Heck! How can you think to write about what you want to write about in LJ when every minute someone is doing something that could eventually screw up the whole site?

No, I'm not saying any of this is related to any of that. But there's a definite sense that something has changed, something is on the way and nobody is looking to deal with it. I'm guessing that because the people who are in a position to deal won't be affected by it, so they don't care. And the people who will be affected have no ability to deal with it, so they are going to say "whatever."

Even if we could have evacuated every single person from the Gulf Coast before the hurricane hit, the disaster would still be right where it is today. There is still a major stretch of shorefront that is still completely ruined, unlivable, apparently forgotten. Trailers meant as temporary housing still serving their purpose years later. Thousands of homes destroyed. Millions of people displaced. Billions of dollars, gone. I mean, this didn't happen last week. And really, that's just one event.

Aren't we being sabotaged, though? Hasn't Iraq managed to ruin everything on every level? Our diplomacy efforts are weak, as most allies want as little to do with us as possible, and our adversaries even less. What emergency help is needed for people in this country is poured into Iraq. Congress can't stop The President from demanding more and more money for the war because that means that we aren't "supporting the troops." So, the money needed to take care of the problems we have at home is gone.

By the time the spending is over, we will owe our souls to Baghdad, China and/or the oil companies that will pump that crude to the tune of 5 bucks a gallon at your local gas station. When they ask him what color his parachute is, George W. Bush can smile and wryly say "it's the color of America." That's because he's bailing out by using our human flesh.

I feel like I've said this already. And I know I have. But it feels much more urgent now. I don't know if we can avoid the situation that is developing. Perhaps it'll only be a glancing blow, you know, like Hurricane Katrina? But it's already started. And it's so disturbing to see that nobody seems to be focused on the health and care of the general population. Everything seems like a moneygrab, a chance to get favors.

All this reminds me that the final Democratic Debate is this afternoon at 2pm EST/11am PST, with most of the national news organizations covering it live, as well as CSPAN3.

There really is only one candidate that I can see capable of getting us through this very difficult time in World History. I think you know who I'm talking about.

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