Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Obama's First Year: Good Start to a Very Steep Climb

It has been almost one year since Barack Obama was sworn-in as the 44th President of the United States, becoming the first African American to attain our nation’s highest office. When Obama placed his hand on the bible and took the official oath, America once again became a beacon of hope to the world. As over a billion people tuned in, from every city and town across America to the far reaches of the globe, spirits were lifted as the promise of a bright future emanated from the Capitol steps and the symbols of our nation glowed in the background. “The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit,” the President declared on that cold, exuberant January day, “to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.”

It did not take long, however, for the feelings of exultation and pride felt by many of us on inauguration day to be tempered by the harsh realities of governing a country. Beset with the largest economic recession since the Great Depression, two long, drawn-out wars in distant lands, and a mean-spirited, political opposition that spares no distortion in attempting to divide us, the obstacles facing Obama and the country were huge, the problems inherited seemingly insurmountable. The new President had a very steep mountain to climb, yet he willingly accepted the challenge. Faced with rising unemployment and a collapsing economy, he immediately put into place an economic stimulus package of historic proportions. Although a flawed bill in many ways – with too much emphasis on bailing out Wall Street and not enough on short-term job creation – few mainstream economists dispute that the President’s decisive action and infusion of $787 billion into the economy prevented an economic depression.

At the same time, and as he promised, Obama expended an extraordinary amount of energy and political capital on reforming our expensive, impersonal, unfair, and extremely flawed health care system – an ambitious legislative agenda that has been attempted, unsuccessfully, by every Democratic president from Truman to Clinton. Although the health care bill that Obama is likely to sign in January is imperfect in many ways – the lack of a public option and consumer choice, and the deference given to the insurance industry, its most obvious flaws – it is nevertheless transformative and will be one of the most significant pieces of domestic legislation since the creation of Social Security. I credit Obama for not giving in to all of the cries in the wilderness, and for recognizing that health care is not just an economic issue, but a moral one as well.

It is inexcusable that in the United States, the richest country on earth, 46 million people have no health insurance, while every other major industrial country guarantees health care to its citizens. Thanks in large part to Obama’s persistence and commitment, that is going to change. As the editors of the New York Times explained today, it is both “a moral obligation and sound policy to provide health insurance to as many people as possible.”

Claims that the uninsured can always go to an emergency room for charity care ignore the fact that American taxpayers pay a high price for that care. And it ignores the abundant evidence that people who lack insurance don’t get necessary preventive care or screening tests, and suffer gravely when they finally do seek treatment because their diseases have become critical.

The American Cancer Society now says the greatest obstacle to reducing cancer deaths is lack of health insurance. It is so persuaded of that fact that two years ago, instead of promoting its antismoking campaign or publicizing the need for cancer screening, it devoted its entire advertising budget to the problem of inadequate health insurance coverage.

When the final version of the bills approved by the Senate and the House become law, Obama will have achieved what no President since FDR has accomplished. Although falling short of universal coverage, he will nonetheless have reformed an intractable industry of divergent and powerful interests, and installed a moral compass in its heart, providing affordable, accessible medical care to over 31 million previously uninsured Americans. The tragic stories of people being charged exorbitant premiums or being rejected altogether because of pre-existing conditions, and of people who had their policies rescinded when they got sick, will become distant remnants of an uncaring past. Unmarried dependent children will be allowed to remain on their parents’ policies until at least age 26. For employees who lose their jobs and need to buy policies on their own, insurers will no longer be permitted to deny coverage or charge outlandish premiums for health reasons. In an effort to reduce the rising costs of hospital care that underlie virtually all increases in premiums, deductibles, and co-payments, the legislation includes a variety of pilot projects that test new payment and health care delivery systems within Medicare. And the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the health reform measures contained in the Senate bill (most likely to resemble the final bill) will reduce the deficit by over $80 billion by 2019.

Of course, lost in the debates over health care reform and universal coverage, is what Obama already has achieved this year in significant health care legislation. The Children’s Health Insurance Bill, for example, expands coverage to 4 million uninsured children by 2013, while continuing coverage for the 7 million already covered. He has reversed the Bush administration’s disastrous and immoral restrictions on stem cell research. Included in his economic stimulus program are funds that prevent huge cuts in state Medicaid programs, money to help laid-off workers afford their previous employer's health care under COBRA, and funds that will vastly improve our Health Information Technology systems. Any of these things, standing alone, would be major accomplishments, yet most people remain unaware of them.

Also lost in the hype over bank bailouts and other distasteful aspects of the economic stimulus package, are the many individual achievements that will benefit the country for years to come. A short sampling includes increased funding for: school construction, higher education, and scientific research; clean energy investments, state energy conservation programs, and improvements to our nation’s electric grids; public transportation and high-speed rail systems; broadband investments in rural and under-served areas that previously had little or no access to high-speed internet (a matter for which the United States is woefully behind the rest of the world); federal unemployment insurance; nutrition and child care programs; and affordable housing.

In foreign affairs, Obama’s efforts have been a mixture of disappointment and inspiration. Though he has so far failed to resolve many of the world's most pressing conflicts, he has succeeded in restoring America’s global image. It is easy to forget that, when Obama was elected, America's friends had suffered through eight years of unilateral, moralistic militarism. We had lost the confidence of our European allies, and we were looked upon with great dismay and distrust by most of the world. In his inaugural address, Obama declared that “America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and we are ready to lead once more.” Reminding that “earlier generations” had defeated fascism and communism “not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions,” he noted that “our security emanates from the justness of our cause; the force of our example; the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.”

Obama has replaced the go-it-alone arrogance of Bush/Cheney, with an approach that is far more conciliatory, pragmatic, and frankly, refreshing. In doing so, he has reached out and renewed meaningful connections with much of the world, significantly reorienting policy toward Iran, Russia, China, Iraq, and many Islamic nations. Although not yet deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize, he has made some important strides in the right direction.

Like many of my liberal friends, I have taken issue with some of Obama’s first year actions and decisions. I am disappointed that he has made virtually no progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and I question the viability of an expanded war in Afghanistan, a war that has already gone on longer than America’s involvement in World War II and Korea combined. He has proceeded too cautiously in many crucial areas – short-term jobs programs, gay rights, the promotion of human rights abroad, the public option in the health care bills. I wish, in his dealings with his fellow Democrats in Congress that he relied a little more on LBJ’s behind-the-scenes flattery and intimidation and a little less on impressive speeches and attempts to seek common ground (although not his style, I have thought that at times he needs to, you know, twist a few arms along the way, whatever it takes to get it done). But tactically he has probably made the right call in deferring some of the smaller, more politically hazardous battles to pursue the major ones – preventing a depression, winning nearly universal health insurance, and remaking America’s global image.

Any shortcomings of his first year aside, if there is one trait President Obama possesses, it is the capacity for self-examination and self-improvement. Neither Rome nor America can be changed in a day, or even a year. Considering the problems this President inherited, and looking with continued hope and optimism to the future, this country once again has the capacity for greatness. Obama is yet to achieve everything he promised, and he has a long, steep climb ahead. But with 2009 coming to a close, I believe that America has much to be hopeful for in 2010 and beyond. I for one remain optimistic and thankful that President Obama will be leading the way.


  1. Mark,

    I’m glad you returned to President Obama’s inaugural speech because everything we needed to know about the president and what was coming was in that speech. It also gives me the excuse to share what my thoughts were immediately after the speech. As for your love letter to President Obama, many of the sentiments expressed have already been addressed in our previous exchanges, like for instance, the silly claim of 46 million uninsured, which, if I’m not mistaken, even the White House no longer stands by.

    From January 21, 2009:

    Well the deed is done. A man with fewer qualifications to be president than the average government worker, who, if not elected, could not pass a background check, is now our president. It’s Clinton again, but without the experience. His speech, by liberal standards, was great; by any other standard, putrid. Shall we take a look?

    He begins with a lie, that he is “humbled.” Like so many of the anointed, to borrow from Thomas Sowell, Obama feels entitled. He then thanks President Bush for his service to the nation, but is not man enough to thank him for keeping this country safe through his aggressive attack against our enemies.

    Then he sets himself up as savior, claiming to be taking charge amidst “gathering clouds and raging storms.” And then this whopper, which illustrates his complete lack of understanding of what makes this country great: “At these moments, America has carried on NOT SIMPLY BECAUSE OF THE SKILL OR VISION OF THOSE IN HIGH OFFICE, but because we the people have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.” It’s an amazing sentence in its ass-backwardness. The American people have carried on in spite of the incompetence of those in charge. Americans carried on through a recession that was made a depression by President Hoover and through a depression made Great by President Roosevelt. President Obama is preparing to make the same mistakes now, believing that he, not 300 million Americans, has the special insight needed to get us out of the financial mess that Democrats helped create through their bullying of banks to make unsafe loans. As a cookie cutter Democrat he can’t possibly comprehend that the way out is for the government to do nothing except cut taxes and regulations.

    He continues: “Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some (whom he does not identify) but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.” Now the man sitting behind him tried several times to call attention to the crisis, but President Obama’s peers, the greedy and the irresponsible Barney Frank and Chris Dodd among others, blocked those efforts.

    He mentions homes being lost, jobs shed and businesses closed, failing to acknowledge that when you buy a house you can’t afford with a loan you didn’t really qualify for, you should lose your house and if your company provides a service that too few people want you should lose your job and the business should close. He mentions the high cost of health care, never once considering that if we remain “true to our founding documents,” then the federal government has no business getting involved in the health care issue.

    And, of course, like a good liberal, he ties our use of energy to the imperiling of the planet.


  2. He then informs the American people that we are suffering from a lack of confidence and that we believe that “America’s decline is inevitable,” that the “next generation must lower its sights.” Now surely that’s true of some, but few conservatives think that the country is doomed, except in the context of what the liberals might do if they get enough power. And that’s the difference: conservatives have the utmost faith in the American people and know that if they are unshackled from an oppressive government that problems will be solved and the standard of living will rise for everyone. Democrats believe the American people are sheep that must be herded, housed, fed and ultimately fleeced for votes.

    And then a typical Obama line that sounds pretty but says nothing: “On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.” What? Hope for what? Fear of what? Unity of purpose sounds Stalinesque, and once again shows a lack of understanding for how things work. Wal-mart has low prices because they are in conflict with K-Mart. But maybe he’s referring to our conflict with the terrorists? But Democrats have never been united in the purpose of killing our enemies. So what the hell does that sentence mean?

    He continues: “On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics.” Time to cry. Petty grievances? Such as killing the unborn versus protecting life? Tax cuts versus tax hikes? Small government versus big government? Strict constructionists versus living document? Right to bear arms versus right to be a victim? School choice versus Hey!-how-come-the-president-sends-his-kids-to-private-school? False promises? Are we going to hold President Obama to his campaign promises? If so, how long before Guantanamo Bay is closed? How long before the power of the Patriot Act (now his power) is reduced? How long before more troops pour into Afghanistan, where we supposedly took our eye off the ball? Strangled our politics? Since our inception, our politicians have been strangling each other and it’s a wonderful thing, because while they battle, a blessed thing happens: nothing. And when they do get something done, hopefully it’s been fully vetted and thought out. That system is inconvenient for aspiring kings, but it’s a life saver for everyone else.

    Then he goes on for a while saying pretty things until he accidentally bumps into the truth: “Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things - some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor - who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.” Holy crap! He’s hit on something. Hold that thought... But then, when those risk-takers, those beautiful doers, after long years of struggle finally hit it big, what does a President Obama want to do? Spread their wealth around. Just ask Joe the Plumber.


  3. And by the next sentence he begins to lose it: “For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life. For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West, endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.”

    First off, what does the poor slave have to do with entrepreneurialism? Secondly, they didn’t do it for us, more of that collective crap. And third, just suggest to a Democrat today that a person or family should have to move to another state to find work because the plant closed down and you’ll hear a tirade about a cruel and heartless country. And then, when they are going off, suggest to them that the man who invested all his money to build the sweatshop which gives the poor people a way out of poverty is one of the celebrated risk-takers, one of the doers, and watch them go absolutely apoplectic. And a side note: it’s Tame the West, not settle the West. Before Liberals could hang out a shingle to sell the soup they want others to cry into, it took men with guns to make it safe.

    And then the old cliche: “For us they fought and died in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normany and Khe Sanh.” But let’s not be too hasty, here. Is President Obama saying that our brave men who fought in the Vietnam War were fighting for us? If so that would be a major revision in Liberal ideology. And if he is now acknowledging that the Vietnam War, an elective war, a war of choice, was fought for the American People, wouldn’t it have been an honorable thing to include, say, Fallujah?

    Then back to the pretty things, where meaning is subjective, until it becomes condescending: “Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin the work of remaking America.” One moment please. ARRRGHHHHH! Excuse the French, but who the F#@* is he talking to? The people who were sitting on their asses last year are the same who were sitting on their asses five years ago and the coming of the self-proclaimed messiah will not raise them off their asses now. Unless, of course, President Obama is suggesting an end to government entitlements, which is the fastest way to get people to dust themselves off. Imagine the reaction of all his supporters if he actually backed up his empty rhetoric? If he said, no longer will we take the hard earned rewards of the risk-takers and the doers and give it to those who “prefer leisure over work”?

    The president then advises that there is work to be done and government must act... to create new jobs. Just what a struggling economy needs: more government workers. He wants to build roads and bridges - can’t the states build those where needed? - and new electric grids and digital lines - if those are needed, won’t private enterprise leap to expand their business? Or do government regulations make it cost prohibitive?

    “We will restore science to its rightful place...” So, where’s it been? Again, what does that mean? “...and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its costs.” Does he mean the techno-wonders born of the capitalist system? And when has government lowered costs below that of the capitalist system? For example, the price of laser eye surgery, not yet classified as a right, has been steadily going down so more and more people can afford it. Is there anyone dumb enough (Obama voters excluded) to believe the government could lower the cost even more?

    President Obama wants to harness the sun and the wind and the soil to fuel our cars and factories, possibly by standing on the water and commanding the sun and wind gods to do his bidding. But again, is that not for the American Entrepreneur to do? And he’d like the government to retool our schools, colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age... as defined not by the institutions and the markets, but by, well you know.

    “All this we can do. All this we will do.” Whether you like it or not.


  4. “Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions--” Oh yeah, there are a few hands up, now. Way in the back, behind the fawning masses yearning to be told how to live. “--who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans.” Nothing is too big for the American People to accomplish, if it’s in their best interest, but yes, there are plans too big for the government. “Their memories are short...” Now here comes an almost wonderful line that has nothing to do with his big government intentions... “...for they have forgotten what this country has already done, what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose and necessity to courage.” Please, comrade, replace common purpose with self-interest and you have the makings of a swell country.

    “What the cynics (code for evil conservatives) fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them (rugged individualism and the Constitution is so yesterday!), that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long, no longer apply.” Dear God! This election wasn’t just for president; it was to end all disagreements! Talk about a mandate! Let the baby killing begin!

    The president dismisses criticism over the size of government and says the real question is whether it works or not, as defined by how well the government helps families find jobs at a decent wage, health care they can afford and a retirement that is dignified. Obviously there will be a new Job/Dental/Retirement Czar that will place you in a job he thinks you will like and reserve that Boca Raton condo for your later years. This bureaucrat will be highly qualified with years of job placement experience, just like the president.

    The Democrat president promises to end government programs that do not work. The man in the back with his hand up suddenly realizes he’s being pranked and leaves in search of the real president. He listens as he walks away and laughs at his own gullibility, as the president continues, “And those who handle the public’s dollars will be held to account, to spend wisely, reform bad habits...”

    Finally, the president gets to our national defense and, as the only man in America brave enough to oppose the liberation of Iraq, proclaims, “And so, to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and we are ready to lead once more.”

    Wait, it gets worse. “They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use. Our security emanates from the justness of our cause; the force of our example; the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.” That’s why in World War II, when Poland bravely fought Germany who wanted to conquer them, they were able to crush the Nazi horde because their cause was just... Ok, bad example. But he’s right when he says our power does not allow us to do as we please. We never should have made Germany, Japan and Italy our 51st, 52nd and 53rd states. And we should stop now before Iraq becomes the 54th... Ok, bad example.

    Pretty words, pretty words and then, “We will not apologize for our way of life nor will we waver in its defense.” Little confused here. Wasn’t our way of life killing the planet? Can we get a clarification?

    And finally he mentions terrorists, sort of. “And for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that, ‘Our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken. You cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.’” But beginning January 21st, all military trials of terrorists accused of slaughtering innocents will end. So is Osama bin Laden wetting his pants or wetting his appetite?


  5. Then came the multicultural clap trap about we being a nation of “Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and nonbelievers.” Just for the record, the breakdown is as follows: Christians (75%) and Muslims (.6%), Jews (1.3%), Hindus (.4%), and nonbelievers – well who cares, they’re going to hell anyway.

    Next is the family of man paragraph, nothing inspiring but nothing objectionable, except that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace, as if that’s not what we’re doing already by bringing democracy to oppressed people and killing those who oppress them.

    “To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.” The almost total absence of violence against Muslims in this country after 9-11 tells us it’s not from lack of love on our part. Maybe there could be just one, Up with America, Down with Jihad Muslim parade?

    Pretty words, pretty words.

    “To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds.” We still won’t let you use DDT to kill malaria carrying mosquitoes that kill millions, but we’ll get right on that clean water thing. This may have been a good moment to acknowledge President Bush for his herculean effort to combat AIDS in those poor nations. Would have been classy, don’t you think?

    “And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty (because we won life’s lottery, not because we created the conditions that lead to plenty... you know... democracy), we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders (unless you’re being tortured by a guy named Saddam Hussein), nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect (“but we will not apologize for our way of life!”). For the world has changed, and we must change with it (it changed from what to what? just curious).”

    Then he says nice things about our soldiers, saying they have something to tell us, but he doesn’t say what, exactly. Vote Republican, possibly.

    Moving on. Government must do much, but Americans, well they have a role, too. Like it’s really nice when some workers cut their hours so that a friend would not lose their job. This, of course, happens every time the government raises the minimum wage.

    Moving on. Firefighters-good. Nurturing parents - how ‘bout that - also good.

    Moving on. Words that are good (and also old - don’t ask): honesty, hard work, courage, fair play, loyalty, patriotism, pretty words, pretty words, bla, bla, bla.

    According to the new president, Americans used to believe in these words and we must now return to these truths. Yes it was easy during the Bush years to be lazy and cowardly, to cheat and betray, and to disguise our unpatriotic loathing for this country by the record breaking reenlistment of our soldiers and the endless stream of donations that we sent to those brave men and women. But now President Obama is ushering in a new era of responsibility. Apparently we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world. And we will, YOU WILL, seize those duties gladly. The Duty Czar will be issuing assignments shortly.

    “This is the price and the promise of citizenship.” Those receiving government handouts are exempted. Yes, Yes, he knows, he knows, you’re missing Oprah, but he’s wrapping up.

    And now for all those who thought President Bush was a dangerous religious fanatic and Sarah Palin believed she was a crusader on a mission from God: “This is the source of our confidence: the knowledge that God calls us to shape an uncertain destiny.”


  6. And then pretty words that actually mean something: “This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed, why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall. And why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.”

    (Interesting side note: mentions of a father who abandoned him: 2; mentions of a mom and grandmother who raised him: 0.)

    President Obama reminds us then of our founding father and that elective war he and others began against King George (what was that over again? taxes?) and of a time when the outcome of our treason was most in doubt. It was at this moment that George Washington ordered these words be read to the people, even the Loyalists who sided with England, a country that levied a few taxes but never attacked us for crying out... sorry... these words to be read to the people: “Let it be told to the future world that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive, that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet it.”

    The president suggests that we are in the winter of our hardship, although others would cast a vote for September 12, 2001, but they’re not the president and this way his final words sound better, almost Bush-like: “...let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.”

    So now a year after this speech I see no growth in this president; no sense that he has matured. Just the opposite, in fact. The president gave himself a B+, a grade that no one ever receives without believing they actually deserve an A. “B+” is the extent of the president’s humility. Meanwhile his world-wide apology tour has resulted in Iran, the most dangerous country on earth, laughing at the president while they proceed with their nuclear pursuits. Bush kept this country safe for seven and a half years by recognizing that we were at war with an enemy that hates us not because of who the president is but simply because we exist. It is September 11, 2001 again and only by the grace of God were we spared the deaths of 300 citizens on Christmas Day. President Obama’s Homeland Security Secretary said the system worked, leading to only one conclusion: today our nation’s safety relies on incompetent terrorists, faulty bombs and brave civilians.

    Now regarding your post: When you make bold proclamations without supporting evidence, such as “we were looked upon with great dismay and distrust by most of the world,” all you are doing is preaching to the cult. To change minds, you must supply evidence. So for example, if I were to say that Sarah Palin faced “a mean-spirited, political opposition that spares no distortion in attempting to” slander her, I would follow that by pointing out that she was falsely accused of banning books, falsely labeled a Pat Buchanan supporter, falsely suggested that her son was really her grandson and falsely quoted as saying she was on a mission from God.

    So here are some questions that came to mind reading your post:

    What evidence supports the idea that just because we have a new president that half of America didn’t vote for that “America once again became a beacon of hope to the world”? The only evidence you seem to cite is that he is black. At least Chris Matthews got a tingle up his leg, which is better proof.

    I know of no problem that America faces that is “seemingly insurmountable,” so to which ones are you referring?


  7. What sources would you cite to justify the “46 million” uninsured figure? And considering that we are 12 trillion dollars in debt, how can you logically say that as “the richest country on earth,” we should take more money out of wage earner’s pockets to provide everyone healthcare? Feel free to use the space below to do the math.

    “...Bush administration’s disastrous and immoral restrictions on stem cell research.” Presumably you mean embryonic stem cell research and if all the religious zealots are correct and life begins at conception and if all significant advances are coming from adult stem cell research and if Bush’s policy simply prevented federal funds from being used while still allowing private investors to put their money into such an obviously fertile area of research, then please justify the use of the words “disastrous” and “immoral.”

    You quote the Congressional Budget Office without seeming to understand that the CBO only calculates those figures that are given to them, and in this case, the CBO did a “preliminary analysis” on a bill that didn’t yet exist. The CBO told Congress in a letter that their analysis was “preliminary in large part because the Chairman’s mark, as amended, has not been embodied in legislative language.” In other words, if Congress tells the CBO that they are going to spend one bazillion dollars a year to give everyone healthcare, but that they have a magic gerbil that craps gold to the tune of one bazillion dollars a year, the CBO will say that the healthcare proposal is deficit neutral.

    And by the way, name your wager as to whether or not the deficit will be reduced by $80 billion by 2019 because of this healthcare reform. This is one time when I’m sure you don’t even believe what you write.

    “Though he has so far failed to resolve many of the world's most pressing conflicts, he has succeeded in restoring America’s global image.” First, you do know that when people call him the messiah that they are just kidding, right? Solve the world’s problems? We’re 12 trillion dollars in debt! And the Chinese hold the pink slip! How ‘bout just solving that problem? And once again, provide one concrete measure of how our “global image” has been restored.

    Define “unilateral, moralistic militarism.”

    Justify the loss in “confidence of our European allies.”

    Flesh out if you will, the proofs behind America being “looked upon with great dismay and distrust by most of the world.”

    Compare and contrast Obama’s coalition of apologists with the nonexistent “go-it-alone arrogance of Bush/Cheney.” Ya know what, never mind, we’ve had this argument before.

    “In doing so, he has reached out and renewed meaningful connections with much of the world, significantly reorienting policy toward Iran, Russia, China, Iraq, and many Islamic nations.” Iran is laughing all the way to a nuclear bomb, amused every time the president draws a new line in the sand, so maybe President Obama needs to re-reorientate?

    “I am disappointed that he has made virtually no progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. . .” The chance of progress is slim when the president throws the good guys under the bus (see your UN post) and fails to recognize that the goal of the other side is the destruction of Israel, not separate but equal countries. But hey, what are your suggestions for securing peace in an area that has never known it?

    “...if there is one trait President Obama possesses, it is the capacity for self-examination and self-improvement.” “A good, solid B plus.”

    There’s nothing wrong in joining a fan club, but it doesn’t help your cause when your writing is heavy on fawning and light on facts.

    Rich R.

  8. Rich,

    Well, peace and good cheer to you as well. I see that you obviously did not get enough sunlight over Christmas break. I'm not so sure about Pope Pius XII, but I will definitely nominate your wife for sainthood.

    I would love to respond to everything you wrote, but I may not live the required 52 years it would take to do so. My advice -- edit yourself. A comment on one of my posts really should not be three times longer than the blog post itself. (Since you like evidence: print it out. Your comments extend for 13 pages, while my post is just over 4 pages).

    True, I am a great admirer of President Obama, although I did not go so far as to name my dog after him. And while I have been critical of some of his decisions, I wrote this after listening to media pundits, liberals and conservatives alike pick apart every little thing he has tried to do during his first year. When I step back and look at the big picture, it is clear (to me at least) that Obama had a pretty good first year. The health care bill is a large part of that, of course, but when it becomes law, it will be, objectively and historically, a major accomplishment.

    For the record, my evidence of 46 million uninsured Americans comes from the U.S. Census Bureau, based on research and analysis conducted while Bush was President.

    You complain that I don't back up my broad accolades with evidence, and then make the ridiculous comment that the depression of the 1930's was made Great by FDR. Hoover was president for three years after the Great Depression started and, as he believed in hands off, free market economics, he did very little to reverse the economy's negative spiral. As a result, U.S. GDP declined every year, from $865 billion in 1929 to $643 billion in 1932. The U.S. unemployment rate also increased every year under Hoover, from 3.1% in 1929 to a staggering 23.5% in 1932. FDR cut unemployment in half over the next three years, yet you contend he caused the Greatness of that depression. You get an F.

    You displayed your true colors when you wrote Obama failed "to acknowledge that when you buy a house you can't afford with a loan you didn't really qualify for, you should lose your house and if your company provides a service that too few people want you should lose your job and the business should close." Of course, had he said this, it would have been a real downer, not exactly in tune with an inspiring inaugural address. That aside, do you suggest that all 10.2% of Americans currently unemployed fall into this category? That everyone out of work is either inept, incompetent, or stupid? That the poor deserve to be poor and the rich deserve to be rich (do the children of a Rockefeller or a Vanderbilt deserve to be rich upon birth)? Is your answer to high unemployment really "do nothing except cut taxes and regulation"? Please.


  9. Rich (cont'd):

    I really got a kick out of this line: "conservatives have the utmost faith in the American people" (they just don't like them very much) "and know that if they are unshackled from an oppressive government that problems will be solved and the standard of living will rise for everyone." Wow. Where is the evidence for that one? To what shackles are you referring? Is it the shackling chains of environmental protection laws, food safety and health regulations? The shackles that have enabled us to develop into a major world economic power over the past 70 years, with Democrats playing a large role, and with many Republicans voting for a lot of the so-called shackling (e.g., Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, etc., all created and enacted with bipartisan efforts)?

    By the way, do you seriously believe that fossil fuels have no negative affect on the planet? Go put your nose and mouth by an exhaust pipe for a couple of minutes, then answer that question.

    Now, for my ultimate response to your comments, see my next blog post, which it appears I inadvertently wrote in anticipation of your latest rantings.