Tag Archives: Obama

10:18 p.m. And Obama Wins

To some extent, Obama’s victory was blown in by Superstorm Sandy. It reminded us of how presidential he can be–and how much of a step up from Bush he is. President Barack Obama and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie talk with local residents at the Brigantine Beach Community Center in Brigantine, N.J., Oct. 31, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

CNN projects that President Obama has been re-elected—Wolf Blitzer just said that Ohio has put him over the top.

Well, I feel ready to exhale. Not exactly elated. The election was close, and there is a lot of unhappiness in the land. A fiscal cliff looms in the new year, Obama will have to deal with a GOP-controlled House that has been intractable in the past, and there are many unpleasant problems looming.

But, the jitters are over, the decision made—America is sticking with Obama. The northern rust belt states have spoken, Iowa stayed blue and Ohio put Obama over.

The reasons and ramifications for this win will be played out over time. Here are some of my first thoughts:

  • The big fight will be in the GOP for a while. This defeat is narrow, but is a stinging defeat. Last fall when I said Obama was a two-term president, it turns out I was right. One of the reasons is that the GOP in 2012 is a bit like the Democrats in the late 1980s. The Republicans are caught in the past, unable to see a path forward, unable to deal with shifting political winds and demographic trends. The Democrats of the 1980s came back in the 1990s when they found a new kind of candidate named Bill Clinton. It will be interesting to see where the GOP goes now.
  • The 2016 campaign began at 10:19. Neither party, at this point, has a natural leader. The closest to an heir apparent, Hillary Clinton, was wounded by the debacle in Libya. Perhaps she can recover, but right now the blue party is wide open. The red party is practically torn asunder. Who of the crowd of clowns who ran under the GOP banner this cycle would be a good choice in 2016? Rick Santorum? Michele Bachmann? Heaven help us, New Gingrich? 2016 will be a very, very interesting cycle, and because anybody with presidential ambitions can sense opportunity on both the left and right, both parties should give us exciting races.
  • Citizens United left us with a rather terrible political atmosphere—the political equivalent of trench warfare. We fought and millions died and not a darn thing changed. I am not wise enough to know what the legal solution can be, but unlimited PAC money from anonymous donors does us, as a barely functioning democracy, no favors.

I hope the political gridlock will be broken up, a bit, by this election. But I am not sure.

Well, that’s how I saw the first 14 minutes of the new Obama era. Romney hasn’t even spoken yet, but will soon. Then Obama gets to speak.

And then I can go to bed.


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Tune for Tuesday: Sing a Song of Politics

OK, with almost 3 million views it does not need a boost from me, but to anti-paraphrase Queen Victoria: Yes, we are amused.


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The End Game In The Grey Rust Belt States


RealClearPolitics.com Electoral College Map on Oct. 25. Note the Confederate Grey zone. It’s mostly in the North, baby.

Well, well, well, flyover America, the middle ground, the old industrial-agricultural heart of this country, is suddenly important again. At least for the next two weeks.

I won’t turn this into a rant about political ads. Yes, they can be tiresome. But I’m happy to be in a place where my vote matters and where the presidential candidates are continuing to court votes. It’s an odd feature of the American political system that only a few of us, a minority of Americans, are in that position.

Live in LA? Nobody is after your vote, because your state is blue, baby blue, as blue as it can be, your steady is already in the White House.

Live in Houston? Ditto, except, you weirdo commie, you’re blood red state is going for Mitt no matter what you do. (Why is Red both the color of Socialism and Republicans? Clearly, using the logic of Fox News, it must mean that Republicans are Socialists. So there.)

But, if like me, you live in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, you’re in a state that at best is slightly tinted blue—still in play, still part of that upper Midwest grey zone stretching from Iowa and Minnesota to Pennsylvania that will pick the winner in this year’s campaign.

Well, I plan to enjoy my day in the sun.

Yet, if I were king, and direct election were off the table, I would like some changes to how we pick presidents.

Here is Joe’s list for reforming presidential campaigns:

  • Reverse Citizens United. Corporations are not “persons” in the sense that they have free speech rights like the rest of us. Find ways to enforce full disclosure, limit spending and tone down the outside groups that pollute our campaigns.
  • Make it easy to both register and get on the ballot. No false barriers to suppress voting turnout or prevent choices. I don’t even care if we have voter IDs—but let’s make election day a Monday, a federal holiday, and also have universal easy absentee ballot rules for anybody whose away from home on Election Day (a federal holiday).
  • Elect members of the Electoral College on a per-district basis. That would spread around the attention and campaign so that it’s not just the “o” states (Iowa and Ohio) that matter. It would not be the same as a national vote count, but at least it would spread the election around.

Anyway, it’s almost over. I hope, and think, Obama will still pull it out. Despite the Romney surge, the Electoral College math seems to favor the Democrats. And, whatever happens, I don’t want us to have a GOP President and a GOP Senate.

Still, come what may, life will go on. For now, I’m answering nightly phone calls from pollsters and political activists. And no, I’m not voting early.

Why cut the party short?

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Nurturing Young Grass May Be All I Can Do Right Now


Some new grass (mid-picture) in front yard after I watered.

Nero fiddled while Rome burned.

Me, I watered grass.

I don’t have much clever or pithy to say on the “Innocence of Islam,” except to note that the Internet makes the spread of odd, jerky nonsense way too easy. And that violence against Americans is a sad knee-jerk reaction. Neither extreme in this dispute, as the world again seems a more violent and less tolerant place, seem to have much appeal to me.

And we’ll be inevitably thinking about what the First Amendment means, so I guess this creates a new case study to talk about in my media courses. Frankly, I’d be much happier with the old case studies.

The drought in Iowa is easing, just a bit. Rain is expected tomorrow. But with new grass sprouting, I can’t let the surface of some new grass areas of my lawn dry out. They say you should water every day when you have new grass, although I never have. But, it was Sunday when I watered last, and I meant to water Tuesday and ran out of time.

Every other day is what I aim for. Tuesday’s watering was Wednesday morning, and Mother Nature should take care of things until this weekend.

I was a bit distracted as I watered this morning. I usually enjoy being outside doing something that benefits growing things, but I had listened to NPR, and the day after the anniversary of 9/11, yet another tragedy had befallen my fellow Americans.

It leaves me a bit angry and scared. It leaves me upset with the jerks in California who made this loathsome, stupid film. It also left me queasy, thinking that some attack on the First Amendment freedom of expression may be looming out there.

And it left me a bit nervous about what comes next. How will we react? How will the rest of the world react? These are complex problems.

Remember when Hillary ran the “3 a.m.” ads in 2008—who do you want to answer the phone when there is a crisis at 3 a.m.?  Barack or Mitt

Barack, hands down. As I water, one point in comfort that I have is that the person at the helm seems more experienced and steady than Hillary imagined four years ago (and yes, it helps that her fingers are in the mix, too). On foreign policy, Mitt doesn’t seem ready for prime time.

Or so it seems to me, for now. I’m glad these delicate and big decisions don’t depend on me at this moment. I hope, and pray, that cooler heads on all sides will prevail, but I’m afraid of what will happen between then and now.

In the meantime, I guess I will water. It seems all I can do at the moment.


Rose in front garden, damp from morning watering.

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#SCOTUS Ruling: A Big Boost For Romney

Romney banner

New image from Mitt Romney campaign home page. The words make me smile.

I am a bit frustrated because I missed Obama speaking after the Supreme Court upheld his healthcare law, and doubly frustrated because I did catch Mitt.

Mitt says that to repeal Obamacare, you have to get rid of Obama. He is correct. And that’s yet another reason I’m voting for Obama.

The narrow Supreme Court decision could have easily gone the other way. If Mitt gets elected, especially if he has a Republican Congress, no doubt the healthcare law will be legislatively repealed. But, also no doubt, no healthcare reform will be possible for years after Mitt picks the next round of Supreme Court justices.

I am not a big fan of the healthcare law. Like so much in Washington, it is too long, too detailed, too prone to administrative nightmares. But, even so, it’s at least a tentative first step in recognizing that the health of the body politic is a responsibility of government—a fundamental point on which those for and against the law strongly disagree.

Obama image

Obama campaign home page image, not as quick on the healthcare draw as Romney.

Anyway, politically I think, at least in the short run, this is a win for Mitt. If the law were struck down, you would not need to get rid of Obama to get rid of it. Now, Republicans have a rallying cry.

Yet, I don’t know how long there will be that much heat on this issue. And as the events of the day cools down, despite the unpopularity of the law, I’m not sure a huge majority of citizens will really want to go back to the way things were before its passage.

Anyway, there are two points that the GOP constantly hammers on that bug me because they are so wrong. There two false arguments are:

1) Americans have the best healthcare in the world. We don’t want to mess up our great system with a healthcare reform law. Ha. America has the most expensive healthcare in the world, but access to it is capricious, awkward, and controlled by health insurance companies and care providers who scheme and deal and make “Dallas” look clean. No, we don’t have the best healthcare in the world. Sadly, in a country as rich as ours, we can’t bring ourselves to make any collective decisions that might improve a badly broken, frustrating system.

2) The healthcare law stands between you and your doctor, which prevents free, individual choice. This is a harder knot to unravel. For one thing, I agree it’s usually best to let people choose in an open marketplace. But on the other, that choice works best when people are rational and have good data to base choices on. Americans are not rational about healthcare at all (otherwise, we would not lead the world in obesity). And, if you have to choose a provider, what is your basis of choice? Usually, it’s where your insurance steers you, or where friends and family suggest you go. But the suggestions of friends and family are based on their personal experiences, and these are often misleading. A mom may steer you to the friendly doctor who prescribes antibiotics whenever little Timmy gets a cold, but Timmy’s colds are viral and his extra germ-killing pills are hurting him and helping to create super germs that are immune to anti-biotics. She would hate if a big government bureaucracy refused to give her amoxycilin for Timmy’s sniffles, but from a health point of view, both she and Timmy would be better off. We rate our health professionals on how they make us feel, which has most to do with bedside manner, and little to do with any rational measure of care. I don’t think the free market works in healthcare, as a result. In fact, it’s the free market that has created the hugely inefficient and costly American system. So, OK, yes, I want a bureaucrat to decide what kinds of pills my grandma gets. Cause what basis do I have for deciding?

Anyway, I am happy, to some extent, with the SCOTUS. It makes this a more dangerous political year, but on the other hand, the longer we have healthcare reform, the harder it will be to go back. I would have much preferred, and still prefer, a British-style or Canadian single provider system. Maybe with a parallel free-market system for those who can afford and want an alternative. But anyway, at least the Supremes are saying that Congress can reform healthcare.

And to a Democrat, they’re also saying, if you want to keep it, keep President Obama in office.

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Ugarte, Is He Ron Paul?

The political news today for some reason reminds me of this scene from Casablanca.  The conservatives don’t want this outcome, they have their letters of transit, but in the the end are left shouting for help from Rick that never comes.

The snarky German officer must be the GOP establishment. The guy at the end, “I hope you’ll be more helpful,” is the Tea Party.

But for Rick, it’s all over. He won’t be leaving Casablanca. Mitt Romney gets the GOP Party (the beautiful girl who had an affair with Rick) and leaves on the plane for Portugal.  Rick stays behind with Capt. Renault, who must be, I suppose, Tim Pawlenty.

Romney flies off with Ilsa to to Lisbon, where, no doubt, he’ll be slaughtered by Socialists. Obama, you know.

Anyway, it’s a sad day in American politics. The strangest GOP campaign since Sarah Palin tried to pretend she could be Vice President has come to a screeching halt.

I hope that the illness of his young child wasn’t too much of a factor for the former Senator. That, to me, is a poignant note in the whole story, and I hope, along with much of the nation, that little Bella gets healthy.

However, I note that Rick Santorum exited the race at Gettysburg. His rebel Army was up against Romney’s Yankee Hordes, and it looked like the battle was going to get bloody and ugly and Rick’s presidential dreams would expire on the battlefield of Pennsylvania, the same state that pushed him out of the Senate.

Well, to me, Rick Santorum was always a bit of an odd choice. He was an unelectable nominee. He liked to compare himself with Reagan, but Reagan was a warm personality, a cheerleader, a man even his opponents could listen to. He sounded like warm honey or your favorite uncle.

Rick Santorum was Darth Vader or your least favorite high school gym teacher—nasal, tough, manly, a true jerk. Now he’s gone. In a way, I’ll miss him. The Mitt Machine, despite the presences of two non-candidates still in the race, can now focus on Obama.

And Obama can focus on Romney.

In the end, it’s the economy. If it stumbles, Mitt’s got a chance. But last fall, I stated my belief, and events this season so far have not shaken my mind.

Obama will be a two-term president.

And the political circus is going to be less entertaining as the clowns exit the ring.

Rick Santorum

New York Times photo by Jim Wilson shows Rick Santorum in happier days in Ames Iowa during his successful campaign to win the Iowa caucuses. See story here.

And of course, a final Rick tribute:

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Rick Perry, Too Lazy to be President


Barack Obama is vulnerable.  The economy is not so hot, federal spending seems out of control, his biggest policy of his first term—his health care plan—is a regular punching bag for Republican opponents.

But if this the best the GOP has, Obama is a two-term president.

Take, for instance, the latest Rick Perry ad that has been aired way too much in recent days in Iowa:

Jeez.  What a stupid, cheap shot.  The slow-talking non-slick performer from Texas clearly has a brain too lazy to qualify him for our nation’s highest office.  The fact is, Obama was saying that America has not promoted itself vigorously enough as an exporter in Asia.  His remarks were not a criticism of America in general or its workers.

Based on this, Rick Perry is too intellectually lazy not to grab for the cheap shot. Republicans, cross him off your list.   Look, we elected one dumb former Texas governor at least once (maybe twice, but I think he stole it in 2000) and got, besides a bloated federal security bureaucratic monster,  the economic mess that Obama still hasn’t dug us out of.  The financial crash that caused our current mess was in 2008—when Bush, one of the worst presidents in modern American history, was still vaguely occupying the Oval Office with no idea what to do with it.

The rest of the Rick Perry ad, after the cheap-shot out-of-context quote of Obama, is mostly stupid rambling.  OK, the balanced budget amendment is a serious proposal—wrong, I think, for lots of reasons—but at least a serious idea.

But “cut Congress’ pay?”  If they don’t do their job which, apparently, is do whatever President Perry wants?  What power does Perry think the president has over Congressional pay?

And “Obama’s socialist policies?”  No, Obama is not socialist anymore than he’s Kenyan.  And you, Mr. Perry,  just look  dumb using that kind of ignorant mislabeling.  Just because the nattering nabobs of right wing lunacy on Fox say it, it doesn’t mean you have to be silly enough to repeat it, Rick.

I freely confess that as a registered Democrat I’m pretty primed to vote again for Obama anyway.  But I still want the Republicans to run a reasonable candidate, a woman or man who, if elected, would make a competent president.

And this ad, to me, is just one more nail in your Texas-sized coffin, Ricky boy.  You are not a potentially competent president.  As an Iowan, here is my reaction to your ad:  I’m already sick of you.  Please, go back to Texas.

And GOP?  Let’s get real.  Act like you might be picking the next president, because you might.

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And So The GOP Field Starts To Cure Like Cement

Sarah Palin.

Sarah Palin at 2008 GOP convention. Photo from PBS Newshour photo stream in Flickr.

You know what I think? Well, I’m not sure, but:

Barack Obama is going to win.

Yeah, I know, it’s by far not a sure thing. And he might have done better if Sarah Palin had decided to toss her hunting cap into the ring and was nominated,because, really.

But she has given up, because she’s more free to seek and speak her mind that way. Good luck.

New Jersey’s governor is insisting that no means no,  like a college counselor advising incoming freshmen football players.

So the current crop of GOP hopefuls is what we’re probably stuck with. Sarah might, in a way, have strengthened the field by drawing off the crazies and maybe helping someone reasonable emerge. I really hope the GOP nominates someone I can live with as President, because he (or, horrors, she) might win. (The “horrors,” by the way, are not at the idea of a woman president, just a reaction to that particular possibility in the current GOP field.)

But, who will the GOP pick? Slow-talking, bad-dressing Rick? Slick, position-switching Mitt? Tall walking, smart talking, imaginative and slightly loony Ron?

The ecomomy sucks, the wars drag on, a federal budget deficit mounts, the gap between have and have not yawns wider as more are laid off into the economic void of despair—and yet, I think, Obama is going to win.

Because who is going to beat him?

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Obama, Spock’s Long-Lost Brother

It feels a little odd, not writing about Audrey’s brother  Mike yet, whose loss is still so raw, but I’m still collecting my thoughts and might post something after his memorial service Sunday.

So, instead, a totally silly post. About the President of the United States, who clearly can’t be eligible to be president for some reason. Sure, now he’s PROVEN he was born in Honolulu, but can you trust him, his so-called facts or his proof? And don’t let trivial asides like evidence get in the way of Truth.

America made a huge mistake in 2008, because clearly we did not vote for a sweet old man who looks like he belongs in the white bread country club formed by all of our other chief executives.

Oh, sure. Hawaii was technically a state when Obama technically came into this world technically there, but it was just barely a state, and how real a state is Hawaii, anyway? We don’t elect presidents from Hawaii any more than we take seriously quitting governors from under-populated, barely American backwater states like Alasksa. Frankly, I’m not really ready yet to accept that Richard Nixon was really eligible to be President because he was born in California, and, honestly, isn’t that state just barely American, too?

The brave patriot birthers will carry on their patriotic crusade come hell, high water, birth certificates, facts or any other ravings from snobs such as professors because clearly there is plenty of other evidence that Obama isn’t fit for office.

Just consider the mounting outrages:

The whole salt-and-pepper icky thing. There, I said it. How un-American was it to choose parents that make what was then a racially segregated country uncomfortable? Clearly, it was an un-American thing for a future leader of the free world to do. A future president should choose a less racially diverse color scheme for his ancestors so the very idea of a family picture won’t give anybody fits.

Alien brothers

Clearly, alien brothers. Logical, cold, rational and not ready to lead America.

His odd manner of speech. Obama doesn’t have a slow comfortable Texas drawl that allows him to invent new terms like New-Que-Lar, but he also doesn’t have an upper-crust Boston accent, either. No good South, Midwest, West or Northeast regionalisms in his speech. Obama speaks as if he were manufactured in an artificial place rather than born. Like a greenhouse in Honolulu. Besides, I saw “Lilo & Stitch,” and I know that Hawaii is infested by aliens—not Kenyan aliens, Milky Way and beyond aliens. His artificial speech pattern suggests that, rather than being Kenyan, perhaps our president is a robot or Vulcan. And as only a half-human, Spock couldn’t be president, either.

He lived in Indonesia. The closest a true American gets to Indonesia is Indiana, and a true American can’t even spell “Indonesia,” let alone find it on a globe. And Obama had a foreign dad and another foreign (and Muslim and therefore terrorist) stepdad. Some of our wise blog friends speculate that this means he has dual citizenship, which makes him un-American and not eligible to be President of the U.S. of A. Don’t ask me where it states in the U.S. Constitution that “dual citizenship” disqualifies someone to be president—the document just mentions being a natural born citizen—but it’s a living document and I’ll train that basic legal bush the way I want it, gosh darn it. There. No half-Vulcan, dual citizen, not true American should ever be elected our Prez.

Obama clearly engages in un-American leisure activities. He never was in Little League. Although basketball is an American-invented game, in that it wasn’t corrupted from some prissy British bat game like baseball was, true Americans were all in Little League. (I’m not a true American by that standard, nor was Ronald Reagan). Red-blooded sons of the U.S. get fat playing baseball or pack on pounds so they can knock other people over playing God’s true American sport, football (and I don’t mean that namby-pamby foreign footsie football, either—and if she says I do, then soccer). Baskeball? Sorry, but it’s clearly some sort of African tribal ritual, not an American sport no matter where it came from (like Obama himself, in a way, who clearly can’t be American no matter where he came from, either).

Finally, Obama not only seems to read a lot—always a bad sign—but to have written a lot, too. True Americans watch NASCAR and play video games. Reading? Writing? Really? Who has time?

Obama thinks he’s put the birth issue out of our minds by dropping a trivial little birth certificate on us.

Ha! As if. To paraphrase Stephen Colbert’s famous speech about President Bush, a true American will clearly believe on Thursday what he believed on Tuesday no matter what happens on Wednesday.

So we know Barrack isn’t one of us. Don’t we?


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The Union’s State: It Could Be Worse

Barack Obama gave a compelling State of the Union speech, which displayed the oratorical skills that earned him the White House in the first place. I thought it was a fairly clear call to action, but in the days since, the chattering I’ve heard has been more negative than positive (and I don’t watch Fox so-called “News” very often because, as a former journalist, I have to say “Fox News” is an oxymoron—that’s right, both an ox and a moron).

Obama speaking

Official White House photo, Obama delivering the State of the Union Speech.

Well, as a speech teacher, I would give him an A-. Nice connections, some self-deprecating humor, a clear acknowledgement of his political situation, but it goes on way too long and needs more clarity—some ringing phrases. As Jon Stewart said (now you know, besides the New York Times web site and NPR, where I am getting my analysis), he needs 2 or 3 clear points on healthcare that he hammers home.

But, what if? What if President John McCain were giving his first State of the Union speech?

By now, who would be his Vice President? After all, if governor of Alaska, which is an actual job with responsibilities, wouldn’t entertain a rogue elephant for a full term, why would Vice President of the United States? Oh, wait. Maybe a “fake” job with no real responsibility was the direction Sarah Palin was striking out in … maybe VP is perfect for her. The only other job she’s a good fit for is being another Fox “News” ninnyhead—which surely has not much more responsibility than VP …

This could be America's VP right now ....

If President McCain were giving the speech, most of us would be sincerely praying for his continued health.

If President McCain were giving the speech, he might be explaining how further tax cuts will somehow lift us out of the depression we slid into. Would President McCain’s administration have acted in concert with the Bush administration to do an expensive, budget-busting, deficit-raising, unpopular emergency bailout? I don’t think the dire warnings of a potential 1930s-style Great Depression were BS at all—we had deregulated markets to the point where they were engaged in dangerous 1920s style boom-time speculation. We dodged a bullet and now complain about how noisy the neighborhood is and how the cops keep trampling in our bushes.

With his GOP habits, would President McCain understand that? I know the deficits are a huge looming problem, and I am concerned that Obama talks a better game than he plays in that matter, but let us not forget where we were a year ago. Almost in Hooverville on a global scale.

If President McCain were giving the speech, he wouldn’t have Michelle Obama and her initiatives to point to. I frankly had trouble listening to Mrs. McCain during the campaign. When you compare Cindy and Michelle in warmth, sincerity and intelligence, it’s all Michelle.

Anyway, at least President McCain wouldn’t be much happier about the Supreme Court putting democracy for sale to the highest bidder. Somehow, however, I don’t think Sam would be muttering quite so much to himself—conservative white guys seem to have a more visceral reaction when they disagree with Barack than when the disagree with Navy Hero John.

So—to summarize. Did the President’s speech change the world? No. Was it a good speech? Yes, but not a great one. Am I glad Barack Obama was giving it?

You betcha. Point. Wink. Think of the alternative.


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