Tag Archives: Obama

Stop piling up on Obama

By Leonid Balaban

I made a comment yesterday in class and I wanted to reiterate this point in the blog: Lay off Obama – HE IS NOT THE PRESIDENT YET!!!

Only a month ago, Obama was elected to be the next President of the U.S. and there are still more than two months before he gets officially gets sworn in. Yet, there are pundits and ideologues from the Left and the Right who are already complaining about Obama, in terms of his government appointees and overall handling of the transition.

Here’s an article on the Huffington Post, in which the editorial writer wonders whether Obama has already broken his first campaign promise.

The Obama team’s decision to drop the idea of forcing oil and natural gas companies to pay a tax on their windfall profits has caused a firestorm among liberals and small business coalitions.

As first reported in the Houston Chronicle, Obama’s reference to a windfall profits tax, which he articulated during the campaign at a time of skyrocketing gas prices, had been removed from the transition team’s Website, change.gov

Jim Kuhnhen, an AP staff reporter, writes how some some Democrats are growing inpatient with Obama and his transition approach:

Democrats are growing impatient with President-elect Barack Obama’s refusal to inject himself in the major economic crises confronting the country. Obama has sidestepped some policy questions by saying there is only one president at a time. But the dodge is wearing thin. “He’s going to have to be more assertive than he’s been,” House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., told consumer advocates Thursday.

Kuhnhen continues that two Democratic senators who are desperately trying to salvage the domestic auto companies have said Obama could help move the process along and should become more engaged.

“The Obama team has to step up,” Sen. Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee and one of the lead negotiators, said Nov. 21 in Hartford, Conn. “In the minds of the people, this is the Obama administration. I don’t think we can wait until January 20.”

David Sirota, a columnist for the Denver Post and other progressive/liberal sites, also complained about this apparent campaign broken promise

Between this move and the move to wait to repeal the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, it seems like the Obama team is buying into the right-wing frame that raising any taxes – even those on the richest citizens and wealthiest corporations – is bad for the economy. Of course, that frame is debunked by history. And while sure, it’s OK to rack up deficits so as to spend our way out of the economic crisis, it’s sorta silly to ignore the tax moves that could be implemented to limit those deficits where possible.

Matthew Rothschild, of Progressive.com, asks when is Obama going to appoint people who reflects progressive ideas and progressive base that overwhelmingly voted for him?

He won the crucial Iowa caucuses on the strength of his anti-Iraq War stance, and many progressive peace and justice activists worked hard for him against John McCain.

So why in the world is he choosing Hillary Clinton to be Secretary of State when she was one of the loudest hawks on Iraq and threatened to obliterate 75 million Iranians?

And it’s not just Hillary.

Obama’s OMB pick, Peter Orzag, is a Clintonite disciple of Robert Rubin.

Obama’s AG pick, Eric Holder, is a Clintonite who represented Chiquita Bananas.

And Larry Summers’s name is still being bandied about for Treasury, even though Summers, while Clinton’s Treasury Secretary, forced the deregulation of our financial markets and imposed disaster capitalism on Russia.

I think the Left is going way overboard on this. Obama, in one of his press conferences, said that the change will come from him, he is the man in charge.

So before everybody jumps on his picks, I believe people should give him time to fail. And if he does, than there’s nothing wrong with criticizing him and asking for his head. But, jumping the gun and attacking the person who is not even on the job yet, is utterly unfair.

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Filed under Media, Obama, Uncategorized

Obama Can Keep the 60’s from Coming Back

By Stephen Noriega

I believe that Barack Obama can avert another 60’s. Perhaps this sounds counterintuitive or even pessimistic. It is not meant to be either. The election of Barack Obama brings on another possibility. It is the possibility of breaking unfortunate repetitions of human behavior. Barack Obama may be able to circumvent a simmering resentment of our government that made so much in the 1960’s necessary and so painful to many.

People often look back on the 60’s and early 70’s with a definite degree of romanticism. People with long hair, making love in the forest and singing beautiful music can warm the hearts of aging accountants with revisionist personal histories. The 60’s make people think of the Age of Aquarius, a time when so many things were possible and the only limitations existed in the mind and the quality of the mushrooms. The ‘60’s is thought of as a time of social revolution tied with the embrace of the wretched, two concepts rarely seen together in political history.

hair-theatreaddictcom72007TheatreAddicts.com 7/2007

However, the 60’s also meant the burning of American cities, the murder of ideological activists and the beginning of American adventurism in the form of spreading terror as well as democracy in the world. A few people during this time recorded great accomplishments, often at the cost of their own lives. The 60’s brought into the public consciousness the images of dogs attacking black people, naked girls running from napalm and dead students at formerly quiet universities.

police_dogs_1963


kent-state-1970john-paul-filo1John Paul Filo, 1970

Others simply rode the wave of this time for their own amusement. Tim Leary might have had great progressive ideas, but he really just wanted to get high. Leary became psychologically addicted to LSD and tried to get as many bright minds to follow him into his own Wonderland. I know he talked about things much deeper, but he will never be known for anything more. He went on tour with G. Gordon Liddy twenty years later.


Jerry Rubin ran wild in the 1960’s, generating counter-culture sloganism and culminating his urination on conservative society with activities in the 1968 Democratic National Convention that resulted in the Chicago 8 / Chicago 7 Trial. When the bills didn’t get paid with political petulance, Rubin became a business investor. He went on tour with Abbie Hoffman for a fee in the 1980’s. When Abbie Hoffman died, he and David Dellinger were the only ones out of the Chicago 8 / Chicago 7 at his funeral. Rubin was killed by a car with a significant stock holding in Apple Corporation.

Martin Luther King, Jr. brought the concept of Satyagraha to North America and proved that racial oppression could be fought without a single gun or bomb. He insisted that his protesters dressed formally so they would not look like hippies and thugs. He insisted that people did not fight the authorities even when the authorities injured them. He gained wonderful momentum, bringing the Kennedy family into the fight, Robert much more willingly than John. Even Malcolm X, changed by his hajj to Mecca (yes, that’s right, Mecca in the 60’s was an origin of racial harmony) and influenced by King, Jr., changed his tune to one of more peaceful resolution. The 60’s also brought the assassins that killed Martin Luther King, Jr. Malcolm X, Robert Kennedy and John F. Kennedy. After that, racial progress fell into inconsistency, self-service and sublime discrimination.


The 60’s had the Great Society, a well-intended but mishandled attempt to keep the cities from burning and to bring the poor out of the ashes. Lyndon Johnson tried to keep a war going while redistributing wealth at the same time. Eventually something had to break and the Great Society fell first. Then Vietnam fell into the hands of the communists and the American spirit slowly fell into a “malaise”.

jimmy_carter_01timemag2007

Time Magazine, 2007

These times have many similarities to the negative side of the 60’s, only without a decent drug to escape it all. Instead of pot and LSD to deny our problems, we have crack and meth, drugs that destroy instead of simply cover. We have unpopular military actions, this time in two countries and possibly three. Even as we boast about our progress in Iraq, we see Afghanistan fall into chaos and Iran apparently asking to be attacked by our impatient and reactionary leadership. Immigrants make up a new class of people to be hated and persecuted. Notice how the word for undocumented people went from “immigrant workers” to “illegal immigrants” to the objects, “illegals”. Minorities and young Americans openly question the veracity of governing institutions, although their numbers in protest are miniscule compared with yesteryear.

convention2bthecloudcrimethinccom2008Crimethinc.com, 2008

Barack Obama does not represent merely a revolt from the diseased status quo, in spite of what Rush Limbaugh might say. Barack Obama is part of both the old guard and needed revolution. Obama is an Ivy League educated, well-connected part of the political culture. He is also an African American with ideas of community organization, social justice and strong international negotiation. Barack Obama is quite capable of shifting paradigms from existing paradigms at the same time. Obama can push for economic justice while railing against deadbeat fathers that won’t pay for their children. Barack Obama can speak of talking with our enemies while promising to throw bombs into Pakistan if it means killing Osama bin Laden.

obamahopeprogressneublack022008Neublack.com, 2008

Barack Obama has many problems to face but much credit to take if things even go from terrible to bad. He can refresh our view of government while not feeling stripped of its protective duties. Barack Obama can encourage us to think beyond our present position while remaining responsible to ourselves and society. The time of the Great Society brought just as much violence and self service as historical progress. Barack Obama can usher some more, much needed, change while keeping us on task socially, personally and morally.

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Filed under American Electorate, Democratic Party, Media, Obama, Protest

When the clock strikes midnight

By: Brian Bohnert

As the clock winds down on the Bush presidency, it seems as though our 43rd president is not done putting his ideological stamp on the American political landscape – this time in the form of last minute executive orders and executive rule changes. This article discusses how he has gone about it and about how they plan on making them last far into an Obama presidency.  Last May, White house chief of staff Josh Bolton instructed all of the offices within the cabinet to finalize any recommendations by November 1st.  Why is that date significant?  The rules state that if an order or regulation is finalized within 60 days, before the next president takes over, it can simply be overturned by the new administration by stopping the process.  However, if a regulation has already taken affect by that time, it becomes nearly impossible to overturn it without congressional action.  This guy discusses the process at length:  As a result, the Bush administration has put numerous regulations on the table and it looks might have met the deadline on some of the most egregious ones.  This list is tracking the regulations and indicates that it is business as usual for the Bush team.  Allowing loaded guns into National Parks, easing pollution standards for factories, opening public land for oil shale exploration, easing restrictions on uranium mining and decreasing police surveillance restrictions are only a few of the ideological driven regulations that are in process.  The practice of “midnight regulations” is nothing new but traditionally presidents will implement new regulations (such as Clinton banning two stroke snowmobiles -or “machines” if you’re from Alaska- from Yellowstone) instead of easing old ones.  Most of the rules that Bush is proposing will ease common sense environmental and economic rules.  According to Gary Bass, the executive director of OMB watch, the reason is very clear: 

“This is Bush trying to leave a legacy that supports his ideology. This was very strategic and it was in line of the ideology of the Bush administration which has been to put in place a free market and conservative agenda.” 

To be fair, the Bush adminstration has said that they are not up to anything shifty and responded by saying:

“We are not rushing regulations through at the last minute. We are simply continuing our responsibility of governing until the end of the president’s term,” said White House spokesman Carlton Carroll.

Well forgive me for taking Carroll’s words with a rather large grain of salt as this administration’s past track record is spotty at best.  So how can the Democrats respond?  Ironically, it might be the GOP that will end up giving the tools to the Dems to overturn these last minute rules.  GOP pushed through the “Congressional Review Act” in 1996 for the expressed purpose of stopping Clinton from implementing last minute rules before he left office.  This act allows congress to vote on rule changes that occur within 60 days of the end of the term by having an up or down vote – which has only happened once, when congress overturned an ergonomic workplace rule Clinton pushed for.  However, the political ramifications of this are significant when the Obama team is trying to build a sense of bi-partisanship in the new congress.

That being said, if we take Obama at his word, there will be significant push back against these last minute rules and executive orders.  On the campaign trail, Obama promised in the first 100 days his AG would look at every Bush Executive order and overturn things that look unconstitutional (so, take your pick).  He reiterated his commitment to this promise on 60 minutes and said-much to the chagrin of Mitt Romney – definitively that he plans on closing Gitmo and restricting the use of torture by US forces.  

while some of the regulations will remain due to the political realities of Washington, it is at least encouraging to see a leader take a stand on things he will not be able to easily back away from.  Hopefully, Team Obama can minimize the damage done by Bush on the way out the door.

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Obama’s Cabinet

By Lance Thibert

 

Week by week, new Obama cabinet appointments continue to make the news, with the biggest one being Rahm Emmanuel as White House Chief of staff. The dilemma Obama faces is to stock his cabinet with Democratic loyalists and reward those who made his victory possible, or take on a bipartisan cabinet in keeping with his rhetoric. A stock cabinet would be more stable, and public disagreements would be possible with a bipartisan one.

As for the other major posts, there are several candidates:

Secretary of State

Candidates:

Hillary Clinton: Would bring strength and a world profile to the job. Would also possibly revive Clinton style foreign policy, as well as a possible “rival power bloc” within the White House.

John Kerry: Strong foreign policy credentials, as well as being an early backer of Obama. A relatively safe pick.

Bill Richardson: Former UN ambassador and Energy Secretary. Richardson has a solid resume, but lacks real dynamism and any real diplomatic breakthrough accomplishments. He is however, one of the only people North Korea will take seriously.

Secretary of Defense:

Candidates:

Bob Gates: Current Defense Secretary with a largely CIA background. Might remain as SecDef in the spirit of Bipartisanship, as he has not been on the job that long, and thus not tied to the Bush failures. Keeping a republican among the Top jobs however, would anger some of the Democratic base that wants nothing to do with anything Bush.

Jack Reed: Democratic Senator from RI, Ex-Army Ranger and a longtime member of the Armed Services Committee. Would be a stock Democratic choice and a safe pick.

National Security Advisor

Candidates:

General Anthony Zinni: CENTCOM commander under Clinton, would be an overall good choice due to experience in dealing with Iraq.

General Wesley Clark: Former NATO supreme commander and an undisputed foreign policy expert. Was an ’04 contender for the Dem nomination. Also, looks like Anderson Cooper.

Attorney General

Candidates:

John Edwards: A longshot considering his scandal, however, if he makes a comeback he could be a good pick.

Tim Kaine: Was on the VP shortlist, as VA governors can only serve one term, his job prospects are wide open after he leaves office.

(If anyone else has any other serious candidates, post them in a comment and i’ll update this post with them)

In other news, Joe Lieberman is likely to keep his chairmanship of the Homeland Security committe, that is, until he is up for reelection and the Democrats make a serious effort to unseat him.

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Filed under Democratic Party, Iraq and Foreign Policy, Obama

The technological push

Jean Gadberry

This election was much different than past elections for many reasons.  The biggest change is the way that Barack Obama ran his election.  He developed a very large Internet based campaign that included text messaging, easy donation giving, job application opportunities, a myspace page with an enormous base, 3 million supporters on facebook and over 10 million email addresses. He even announced his VP pick of Joe Biden with text messages. Needless to say a large Internet base overall.  He changed the face of politics for many, especially for the youth in his race for the White House.  Howard Dean tried this, but failed to win his bid in 2004. Obama’s strategy does not appear to be changing either.  He now has change.gov, which is his website for the transition.  It includes blogs, and videos of Obama, much like his campaign site minus the donation requests.  

change.gov

change.gov

 

There is no doubt that there was a large pull with the website and other multi-media outlets to attract numerous people to vote who would may not have voted in previous elections.  In fact, Pew Internet & Life Project note that 46% of  ALL Americans have used the Internet, email,  or text messaging to get information about the campaign. As stated by the Pew research:

 ·   74% of wired Obama supporters have gotten political news and information online, compared with 57% of online Clinton supporters. 

·   In a head-to-head matchup with Internet users who support Republican McCain, Obama’s backers are more likely to get political news and information online (65% vs. 56%).

 ·   Obama supporters outpace both Clinton and McCain supporters in their usage of online video, social networking sites and other online campaign activities.

With the large range of campaign messages being relayed through mediums not the television, this helped with the large movement to get the youth involved. 

politico.comUsing tools that this demographic (youth being defined as 18-29) uses daily made Obama’s message easily accessible. There has been a huge push for the youth of the nation to come out and vote.  Here is an internet video produced to get out the youth vote, much like many others.

And it worked, at least a little bit and in turn, the youth vote did come out. Just not as much as anticipated. In fact not much more than in 2004, just a 17% v. 18% difference.  The distinction was the party they supported. They made their stand mostly in support of Obama. Sixty-six percent of voters under age 30 preferred Obama while just 32 percent favored McCain.  But the truth is the youth vote did not prove to be a must have for Obama. 

 

There is no denying that the landscape for campaigns has changed, and that the new way for candidates to get close to his or her constituents is going to be much more technologically based.  That is not to say there is not still a great importance on face to face campaigning, but the added coverage has been tested and proven by our President-Elect Obama. 

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Post-Election Comments

by Alicia Long

I thought it might be interesting to read some of the comments and reactions of people to the Obama victory.  These are not pundits… just regular people leaving comments on news stories.  Here’s what some of them had to say.  Please enjoy my little anecdotal experiment:

CNN

“As a representative of many of the demographics …. 70 year old grandmother … white … Jewish … very educated . … retired … married …. independant …. everyone one of those characteristics screamed at me that we needed REAL CHANGE that only the youth and forward thinking of Barack Obama could bring. All Americans, from every demographic, must give this man the chance to unite this great nation and earn, once again, the respect of the world.”

“I hope all of the Bolshevics at your communist news network are gloating.
How does it feel to destroy a nation?
Don’t even think your wealth will insulate you from the comming holocaust. I can fully identify how the Jewish people of Europe must have felt when Hitler & the Nazis came to power, or mabe more accurately , how many Russians must have felt when their nation was taken over by the bolshevics. Flags should be flown at half mast to mourn the death of America. All the men and women who have given their lives in defense of this nation and our way of life, have died in vain.
Our nation , as predicted by many, was taken over from within.
Our enemies have defeated us without firing a shot.
We have been decieved by the biggest most total propaganda blitz in the history of this earth. Thanks CNN for doing your part.
I’ll see you all in hell.”

“John McCain gave his greatest speech ever last night. Congrats to Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Let’s keep our expectations real folks. There is a lot of “stuff” for them to clean up. Best wishes on a successful Presidency and Vice Presidency.”

FOX

“McCain was a CLASS ACT last night. His speech was spot on. We’ve got to come together. And like Obama said to those whom he has yet to gain their support he is YOUR President too and he will listen to your voice. OBAMA/Biden its offical!!!”

“Anyone know how much it costs to move to Australia? I don’t think I want to allow my family to be led by a man that associates with known terrorists!!!!”

“The RNC “holier than thou” rhetoric has been rejected. Signed, America”

“This is really the media’s fault, they didn’t cover the suspicious, shady side of Obama, they completely ignored it and fed the American People false hope. It is sad that so many uneducated people fell for it and Obama was elected. Sad day for America, say goodbye to the land of opportunity, as Obama will rob our children of their dreams.”

ABC

“100 years from now you will be able to go to Washington D.C. and see the memorials of Lincoln, Washington, and Obama. He will be that great.”

“Eight years ago, Republicans told me that it was my duty as an American citizen to support the President-elect, in spite of the fact that I did not vote for him and in spite of the fact that I felt he was the worst thing to happen to the office of President. “Get over it,” they said. “He’s the President.” Four years ago, they told me the same thing. Now it’s time to practice what you preach, folks.”

‘Yea, Get down to business alright. Make sure that you drive the stake right through the heart of America as you have planned to do so for quite some time. Now is your chance so don’t miss.”

This was really interesting to read the comments from the different new networks.  Fox had, by far, the most anti-Obama comments… including some really nasty ones accusing him of being a terrorist.  CNN had a mix of thoughtful comments from both sides.  ABC, however, definitely had the longest comments that people left, and it became really hard to find comments that were anti-Obama.

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Wassup 2008

By Leonid Balaban

Remember those Budweiser Wassup ads from 8 years ago? Well, it turns out that the main actors in that commercial decided to have a reunion of sorts and produce a political ad with some humor added to it.

Courtesy of DailyKos

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Filed under Media, Obama