Tag Archives: President Barack Obama

Morass

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As of 12:00 A.M. today, October 1, the United States government – for all intents and purposes – has stopped functioning.  I know it seems nothing has changed.  I mean, seriously – is there any difference?  But, the painful reality is that some 2 million government employees will not get paid and national parks have closed.  That’s the immediate effect.  It gets worse if the shutdown continues: military veterans won’t receive their benefits; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) will have to halt its flu vaccination program – just as flu season approaches; some food safety operations will stop (and in a nation where behemoth butts have become the norm, that spells catastrophe); small business financing will stop; Head Start programs will start closing; disability benefits could be interrupted; funding for disease treatment through the National Institutes of Health could cease.

In the meantime, every member of both houses of Congress will receive their paychecks; their own health care won’t be adversely impacted.  Ironic, though, considering that the Affordable Care Act is the genesis of the squabble between the 2 principal political parties.  Most Republicans – especially the “Tea Party” clowns – despise the ACA, which they’ve derisively called “Obamacare.”  And, in an attempt to stop funding for the President’s signature law, the GOP is willing to risk what little integrity they have in their xenophobic bones and shut down the government.

Over the weekend, one particular “Tea Party” darling, Senator Ted Cruz, launched into a staunch tirade against the ACA.  Hoping to make a name for himself, the Canadian-born, Cuban-Italian Cruz has been campaigning for president since he took office back in January.  Representing my beloved home state of Texas, Cruz has done little else with his time and energy except commandeer the Republican Party’s vitriolic bandwagon and try to obstruct President Obama in any way possible.

Altogether congress has about a 10% approval rating.  I think ptomaine poisoning and getting stranded in the desert without water or cell phone service rank just above them.  Last year I wrote about the ongoing lack of progress from the Senate and the House of Representatives.  My wishful demand was for every elected official in Washington to get impeached, so we – the average, hard-working Americans – can elect more level-headed people to fill the apathetic void.  A million dollars in gold bullion has a greater chance of landing on my doorstep tomorrow morning.

I clearly remember the 1995 – 96 government shutdown in which a beleaguered President Bill Clinton ran head first into a recalcitrant Republican Party (led by the self-righteous Newt Gingrich) – and won.  It was a different time though.  The GOP held strong majorities in both houses of Congress; we weren’t at war; and the economy exploded into profitability for everyone shortly thereafter.  Clinton didn’t back down, thus forcing the GOP into embarrassingly humble defeat.

Today, the U.S. economy is still reeling from the worst downturn in 80 years; we have troops in Afghanistan and Iraq; and Republicans control only the House of Representatives.  Regardless, I’ve lost all respect for our elected officials.  Obama still hasn’t found any steel bars to inject into his spine, and the GOP has let itself be dominated by right-wing extremists.  I’m trying to imagine how things could get any worse.  If they do, colonizing Mars looks better all the time.

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Best Quote of the Week

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“That’s what you’ve taught us, Boston.  That’s what you’ve reminded us – to push on.  To persevere.  To not grow weary.  To not get faint.  Even when it hurts.  Even when our heart aches.  We summon the strength that maybe we didn’t even know we had, and we carry on.  We finish the race.”

– President Obama, during an interfaith service for victims of Monday’s Boston Marathon bombing.

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In Defense of White Men

Okay, can we get past the race thing when it comes to elections here in the U.S.?  As a people, haven’t we risen above such petty squabbles?  Haven’t two centuries worth of civil rights taught us race and gender really aren’t qualifications for public office?  I guess not.  Well…at least not in some circles.  Here lately, White men have been getting a bum rap from left-wing academics; the self-appointed protectorates of 21st century America.  But, I’m here to say the rest of us can think for ourselves – and that White men aren’t always the enemy.

After all, I’m a mostly White guy myself.  Both my grandfathers were White, e.g. Caucasian.  My paternal was Spaniard (yes, full-blooded Spanish people are White!), while my maternal was German.  And, German is just about as White as you can get; if you get any Whiter than that, you’re not White – you’re albino.  Both my grandmothers were mixed Spaniard and Mexican Indian.  And, it’s the latter two groups who comprise the contemporary Hispanic population that had such an impact on this year’s presidential elections.  They’re the group who have been treated as recent arrivals in America, but – as a people – have actually been here long before the U.S. was born.  They’re also the ones who’ve reacted with the same level of racial virulence whenever I mention my German grandfather as the White kids reacted to my Spanish surname when I was in high school – years ago!  Yes, some Hispanics – like some Negroes – are as bigoted as a drunken Glenn Beck at a NASCAR rally.  Seriously!  Who would have thought they’d be my worst adversary?  Well, sometimes they are.  I’ve been called a “coconut,” which only bothers me because I don’t like coconut.  But, I still think it’s kind of funny when Hispanics start talking about “White people” disparagingly.  Unless they’re full-blooded Indians, they need to shove a coconut in their self-righteous mouths.

But, consider this.  White males helped to build this country and – despite all the racial angst – also helped to break down the walls of segregation.  President Harry S. Truman, for example, ended racial segregation in the U.S. military.  President John F. Kennedy jumpstarted the modern civil rights movement, and his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, signed the 1965 Voting Rights Act into law.  Other White males have done their part to make America a better place for everyone; whether it’s hiring non-Whites for a job other Whites thought they couldn’t or shouldn’t do, or teaching some non-White kid how to read and write.  Ignore the likes of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh for a while.  They’re not models for the White American male.  Most White men are decent, hard-working people who take care of their families and mind their own business.  Many of them are part of that 47% that Mitt Romney disparaged.  They don’t have houses with elevators for their cars and they can’t afford a luxury yacht.

A few of my closest friends are White males.  They’re around my age and they’re tired of being scapegoated for every transgression non-Whites have endured throughout American history.  Blacks and Hispanics don’t want to be automatically connected to the more dubious elements of our respective racial groups.  I loathe being cast alongside illegal Mexican immigrants, even though México is where my mother and both my grandmothers were born.  Most White men, therefore, don’t want to be grouped with the morons who burn crosses on people’s front lawns.  White men aren’t slipping into predominantly Black neighborhoods and shoving drugs into the hands of the community’s youth.  White men aren’t sneaking onto Indian reservations and surreptitiously exchanging sodas with beer in the convenience stores.

I often view racial discord in the same context as gender.  As a 49-year-old man, it’s not my fault women couldn’t vote until 1920, or have a legal abortion until 1973.  I wasn’t alive in 1920 and I was only 9 when Roe v. Wade became law.  How the hell am I supposed to answer for the transgressions of my male ancestors?  I can’t and I won’t!  Guilt by association is a precarious thing.  It just creates more anger.

In case you’ve forgotten, Barack Obama isn’t necessarily our first Black president; he’s actually our first biracial president.  People keep forgetting his Caucasian half.  His mother was a White-American, born and raised in the United States.  That she fell in love with and married a Negro man in the early 1960s is amazing unto itself.  So, if some White folks can’t get past Obama’s Negro side – just as some Black folks can’t get past his Caucasian side – then that’s their problem!

They all need to get over it.  If they don’t, they’ll find themselves in the same bucket as 8-track tape players and – pardon the cheap analogy – black and white TVs.  We really just need to move beyond that race thing.  It’s not helping us anymore.  It’s really not.  This is the 21st century, and the Human Genome Project has proven we’re all pretty much related on a blood level.  And, human blood is only one color.  Now, who has a problem with that?!

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Yea – Still Here!

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November 11, 2012 · 3:31 PM

Deliver Us from This Stupidity

Thank goodness for Hurricane Sandy!  It’s provided some respite from the ongoing presidential campaigns.  That a major tropical storm system could strike New England just before Halloween is news enough – without the inevitable destruction and loss of life.  We have eight more days until election day here in the U.S., and Sandy could provide a twisted sort of the proverbial “October surprise.”

If it’s bad enough, both President Obama and Mitt Romney may not be anywhere near Washington, D.C.  Obama could hunker down at his Chicago abode, while Romney could seek refuge in one of his many estates.  Their responses to the disaster will prove what they really think of the American people.  Obama most likely won’t stay in Chicago; he’ll want to head back to Washington to coordinate recovery efforts.  I suspect Romney will take the traditional conservative Republican stance and just let New Englanders fend for themselves.  After all, that’s been the mantra of his campaign; if you don’t have enough money in your bank account or drive a couple of Cadillacs, then you’re not worth saving.

Aside from November 7 being the birthday of one of my closest friends and former colleagues, it’ll be the first day after the elections and thus, the end of this campaign season.  I got tired of this crap – oh – I’ll say around July 1.  Political campaigns here in the U.S. are never-ending – like Thanksgiving turkey, deep space and the Harry Potter series.  They just go on and on and on.

I suppose it’s inevitable in a truly democratic society.  But, as a frequent, dedicated, tax-paying voter who’s experiencing firsthand the worst this dismal economy has to offer, I have some advice for all would-be candidates.

  • Focus on what good you’ve done for your respective communities.  In other words, run on your record, for God’s sakes!  If you don’t have much of a record, then don’t run for public office!  That’s like a high school graduate applying for an engineering position at NASA.  You don’t have to walk on water, or even build homes for the impoverished (although the latter would be more practical and appealing), but show us something positive.  What have you done for us?
  • Stop, or at least limit, the negative ads.  If you have to point out the adverse traits of your opponent instead of highlighting your positive attributes, then you don’t have much of a campaign.  Karl Rove had to do that with George W. Bush.  Bush was such a lame-ass that the only way the ignorant masses could be convinced to vote for him (other than because of their ignorance) was for the opposition to be demonized.  The 2004 presidential campaign is a perfect example.  There was nothing good about Bush’s tenure in office at that point.  He couldn’t prove that he’d completed his stint in the Texas National Guard, and no one had found the elusive “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq.  So the Rove goblins questioned John Kerry’s military record and made him out to be indecisive; e.g. a “flip-flopper.”  It didn’t help that Kerry tried to take the high road, which was like Albert Einstein trying to explain quantum physics to Ron Jeremy.  I wasn’t too crazy about Kerry anyway, but look at the mess we ended up with as Bush left office.
  • Stop saying, ‘I promise to do .’  Instead, say something like, ‘I promise to cooperate with , or to do my best to accomplish .’  Every political candidate – especially those for the presidency – promises massive changes without realizing this not a dictatorship, or even an oligarchy.  There are 3 branches of government, and they have to work with one another.  Think We Are the World, or better yet, I Want to Teach the World to Sing.  I suppose that’s a bit much to ask from grown people with Mount Everest-size egos.  Merely promising to do your best goes a long way.  Most people are smart enough to understand that an elected official – even the President of the United States – can’t do everything alone.  I mean, William H. Taft’s wife, Helen, once answered the doorbell to the White House, and Harry Truman used to wash his own socks.  Either way people won’t be too disappointed when an elected official can’t get X, Y and Z done – which is one reason why the American people should blame the Republicans in Congress for keeping things screwed up.  They won’t work with Obama.  But, that’s a different essay.

People are always glad to see election season come to an end.  Yes, the candidates are tired, but so are we.  Our elected officials don’t seem to get it sometimes.  I’m still unemployed and have massive student debt to pay off.  I don’t care about gay marriage; don’t want to hear your definition of when life begins; don’t want too much of our tax dollars go to treat diseases in foreign countries where people should have figured out by now that having sex with a virgin doesn’t cure AIDS.  I want to see some real action in Washington – and not on the dance floor.  I want to see our elected officials handing out water bottles after Sandy hits.

Image.

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Third Quote of the Day

“I have to get the Secret Service home in time for their new curfew.”

– Obama again.

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Second Quote of the Day

“Last year at this time, this very weekend, we finally delivered justice to one of the world’s most notorious individuals.”

– President Obama, at the White House Correspondents Dinner, before a picture of Donald Trump appeared on a nearby screen.

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