Entries tagged with “obama”.
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Sun 7 Feb 2010
Posted by Brian Moore under foreign policy
So the only difference between world opinion almost universally condemning the US president for conducting two wars in different countries and multiple nations having musicals celebrating him is…:
BERLIN – A musical about Barack Obama‘s “Yes we can” election campaign premieres in Germany this weekend, including love songs by the president to his wife Michelle and duets with Hillary Clinton.
Two other musicals about the president were performed in other countries last year: “Obama On My Mind” in London and “Obama: The Musical” in Nairobi, Kenya.
… what exactly? I absolutely do not get the world’s approval of Barack Obama. It’s almost like they like him because he’s a charismatic leader, and don’t actually care about the fact that he’s continuing the foreign policy of his hated predecessor almost to the letter. This is extremely worrisome — because the message it sends to our voters and our leaders is that all we have to do is elect a charismatic leader and we can get away with anything.
What if Barack Obama’s political career had started 8 years earlier, and he had been president instead of Bush? It’s possible world opinion would have turned on him, and it’s certainly a more damning act to start two wars rather than simply continue them — but if world opinion were truly against the actions themselves and not the person who started them, one would think that you’d have to be pretty upset with Obama for not even reducing the conflicts.
Now, maybe this is still some honeymoon period and opinion will change when we are still in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2012 or 2016. But he’s been in office for a year now — a relatively large percentage of the total time we’ve been at war. At the risk of continuing this lame fake naivete even further, I guess I always assumed that the reason people around the world disliked Bush was because of what he did. Turns out quite a few have no problem with it, so long as a friendly face is the one continuing the policies.
I certainly have a lot of disagreements with the recently deceased Howard Zinn, but one thing he could be relied upon was to criticize the aggressive foreign policy of presidents, no matter the party:
I’ ve been searching hard for a highlight. The only thing that comes close is some of Obama’s rhetoric; I don’t see any kind of a highlight in his actions and policies.
As far as disappointments, I wasn’t terribly disappointed because I didn’t expect that much. I expected him to be a traditional Democratic president. On foreign policy, that’s hardly any different from a Republican–as nationalist, expansionist, imperial and warlike. So in that sense, there’s no expectation and no disappointment.
But he becomes president, and he’s not making any significant step away from Bush policies. Sure, he keeps talking about closing Guantánamo, but he still treats the prisoners there as “suspected terrorists.” They have not been tried and have not been found guilty. So when Obama proposes taking people out of Guantánamo and putting them into other prisons, he’s not advancing the cause of constitutional rights very far. And then he’s gone into court arguing for preventive detention, and he’s continued the policy of sending suspects to countries where they very well may be tortured.
I think people are dazzled by Obama’s rhetoric, and that people ought to begin to understand that Obama is going to be a mediocre president–which means, in our time, a dangerous president
You’d think that the trite scenario of “charismatic leader does objectionable things while people (literally!) sing his praises” would be so familiar to the world by now that we would be inoculated to this particular brain virus, but apparently not.
Thu 10 Dec 2009
Posted by Brian Moore under foreign policy
Okay, in light of the previous post’s topic, I want to ask some questions.
First of all, all the anti-war people who voted for Obama — when are you going to admit you were duped? I’ll admit to certain feelings of betrayal as well: I thought that at the very least, on foreign policy, he would spin down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Second, for all the people who talk about his eloquence and sensitivity (of which I’ll admit to greatly appreciating with respect to recent other presidents), how the hell do you reconcile that with the concept of giving an acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize in which you defend the necessary nature of war? I mean, absent any context, yes, it is a perfectly acceptable debate point to present — but this, and I’m not sure I’ve repeated this enough, was the acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize.
For example, perhaps you believe that sometimes it is right to strike a woman — such as if she attacks you with a knife in a dark alley. But as true as that single statement might be, out of context, perhaps it would not be a good time to bring it up, say, when you are receiving an award granted by an organization fighting to end domestic abuse.
“Thank you all for this great honor, in the spirit of protecting women against the horrors of abuse. Now, if you don’t mind, I’d like to talk about some times when it’s okay to punch a lady.”
If you do mention something like that, it makes the audience wonder: “huh, why is he saying this now? Why would he bring that up unless he has doubts about the spirit of the award we are giving him?” Well, in Obama’s case, that might be exactly the reason. Surely he must realize the hilarity of escalating an 8 year long war a few days before accepting the Nobel Peace prize. Even on the mind of the President, long immune to this sort of cognitive dissonance, that has to make an impression.
Finally, for everyone who basically accepts the premises of the political left, what the heck do you see in this guy? Corporate bailouts? War escalation? Blatant neo-con principles of “war to make the world freer”? Mandates to buy the products of evil greedy insurance companies? No removal of don’t-ask-don’t-tell? Support for the Defense of Marriage Amendment? No major changes to indefinite detention? No major changes to the Patriot Act? What are you people getting out of this? The only thing I’ve seen so far is healthcare reform, and that’s not going so well either. Do you think he’s going to commit to something major at Copenhagen? Don’t bet on it.
I’m certainly not on the left, but I agree with them about the badness of many of these things. So I’m just as disappointed that he’s failing at fixing them. But then, I didn’t vote for him…
Fri 9 Oct 2009
Posted by Brian Moore under Uncategorized
U.S. President Barack Obama says he is “deeply humbled” after winning the Nobel Peace Prize Friday
Just… wow. Absolutely incredulous. I don’t dislike Obama as much as some people do, but at no point should an American president ever receive the Nobel Peace prize. Period. Any of them. Ever.
Thought: President Obama is the only person on the planet who can end two wars with executive orders at any moment. Yet for nine months he has not done so. Peace, by definition, is the opposite of war. So I would think he would be, whatever the positive characteristics you feel he has, or the wars we’re waging, the last person on the planet to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
Thought 2: The only thing that puts the choice of Obama in a good light is that previous US Presidents who have won the prize include Woodrow “We’ll Never Get Involved In WW1″ Wilson and Theodore “The Only Good Indian Is a Dead One” Roosevelt. So I guess I have to admit he’s not the worst choice out of the pantheon of presidents.
Thought 3: This sounds like it was written for a ninth grade civics class:
Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.
Wait, “lead the world?” Did I miss something? I thought he was the president of a country that only contained a tiny fraction of the world’s population? And really: “Must share the values and attitudes of the majority?” Note to a certain Scandivanian committee: most of the world does not share your values, or Obama’s, or mine. Most of the world, by definition, must include China, India, Africa and the Middle East. For better or worse, they share very different values and attitudes than Obama or most Europeans, which is why they react so poorly when Americans and Europeans show up and try to impose our values or attitudes upon them.
I certainly like the values I grew up with, and they’re probably pretty similar to the ones they espouse (but also probably rather different), but if I had grown up in one of those countries I might take a very dim view of statements like that, in reference to those who are to “lead the world.”
Thought 4: I like how in physics, you win your Nobel prize 30 years after your discovery. In politics, apparently you get one for what the committee hopes you will do.
Thu 23 Jul 2009
Posted by Brian Moore under budget, healthcare, medicine
It’s really strange how when a crisis occurs, all the policies that people have been proposing for years suddenly become solutions to that crisis. And so it is with this line from President Obama:
In a nationally televised address marking his first six months in office, Obama said overhauling the U.S. health-care system is “central” to his prescription for rebuilding the economy and making it stronger.
As far as I know, Democrats have been wanting health-care reform for decades, even those that didn’t contain economic recessions. What’s the chance that this was the solution for our economic ills all along? Or is it more likely that the President read the opinion polls and saw that everyone was worried about the economy, so decided to sell the healthcare reform plan as a solution in order to get their attention?
The problem is that giving more people health insurance is going to cost money. And right now we’ve been spending a lot of money, and we’re going to have less money — that is what a recession is, right? So then Obama (who is actually, at the time of this post, at the Cleveland Clinic in a private meeting with its CEO) has this weird disconnect:
Members of both parties are balking at the proposed $1-trillion price tag — and how to pay for it.
But Obama insisted the country’s budget deficit will continue to grow unless skyrocketing health-care costs are brought under control. He said the consequence of inaction will be higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs and thousands more people losing coverage every day.
“The budget deficit will grow unless we spend billions more dollars!” If in response to my complaints (yes, hubris alert), the President is actually stopping by my town’s high school (not exactly enemy territory, if you know our voting tendencies) later in the day to address concerns and answer questions. A good question would be “How the heck are we going to pay for this?”
But even some moderate-to-conservative members of Obama’s party — the so-called Blue Dog Democrats — say they are concerned about the potential side-effects of health-care reform, such as tax hikes, government control and an even larger deficit.
But Obama reiterated his pledge that any bill he signs will not add to the country’s soaring deficit. “And I mean it,” he said.
He also vowed to reject any measure “primarily funded through taxing middle class families.”
Look, you can’t just blatantly say these things. People will ask questions. You can’t have a trillion dollars of healthcare reform without A) increasing the deficit or B) increasing taxes on some middle class people. Or you could C) cut lots of spending elsewhere — but if someone on Obama’s team has a list of a trillion in spending they could cut, I havent’ seen it. And both A and B seem like bad ideas during a poor economic climate. It’s almost as if the recession makes massive spending bills like healthcare reform less likely, instead of necessary. (more…)
Sun 12 Jul 2009
Posted by Brian Moore under foreign policy
This is actually really good stuff:
“No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves, or police can be bought off by drug traffickers,” he said. “No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 percent off the top, or the head of the port authority is corrupt. No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery. That is not democracy, that is tyranny, and now is the time for it to end.”
Mr. Obama added: “Africa doesn’t need strongmen. It needs strong institutions.”
Setting aside the admittedly funny jokes about how much the government skims off, this is actually a really important point. I kind of get the feeling that lots of people think that many Africans are poor because America and Europe either exploit them, or give insufficient aid. But here’s a Democratic president saying that’s not the problem:
“We must start from the simple premise that Africa’s future is up to Africans,” Mr. Obama said in an address televised across the continent. For all its previous sins, he said, “the West is not responsible for the destruction of the Zimbabwean economy over the last decade, or wars in which children are enlisted as combatants.”
To build a prosperous future, he said, Africa needs to shed corruption and tyranny and take on poverty and disease.
Wow, I couldn’t really have said it better myself. I think I like our presidents best when they are in different countries. Now, I’m not sure quite how much positive impact this will have, since the way that one “fixes” tyrannical, corrupt regimes that destroy economies and skim off 20% is by revolting against them, I really don’t think these happy sentiments will help:
“These things can only be done if you take responsibility for your future,” he told Parliament in Accra, Ghana’s capital. “And it won’t be easy. It will take time and effort. There will be suffering and setbacks. But I can promise you this: America will be with you every step of the way, as a partner, as a friend.”
Yup, we’ll totally stand right there with you as you oppose your cruel governments, except for the whole, you know, getting shot and tortured thing. Those will be “suffering and setbacks” you get to enjoy yourselves. At least, I assume Obama is not implying that we will actually be partners with those who seek to throw off their oppressive rulers, since that would involve some military commitments that would make Iraq and Afghanistan look pretty tame. But it’s a nice sentiment, right?
Wed 27 May 2009
Posted by Brian Moore under education
This news on charter schools makes me happier than I have any right to be. Obama’s mild attack on the governor of Ohio’s anti-charter school stance also helped. There certainly isn’t a whole lot of things to like in the daily political discourse for someone like me, but if Obama gets decent headway on school choice, I promise that I will say five or six nice things about him over the next four years. Which is quite a bit more than I was willing to give the last few idiots.
At the risk of sounding like a hopeless one-issue voter, this is the kind of thing that actually will help the country in the long run.