Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

“Mind the Gap”

August 8, 2015

No not the gap between a London tube platform and a train’s car that signs warn riders to “mind,” but the very wide income gap between America’s wealthy and it’s shrinking middle class. That’s going to be the key issue in the  upcoming  presidential  election.  I didn’t hear it mentioned in the Republican debate Thursday night on Fox News.

One of the reporters did ask how Republican candidates are going to respond to Hillary Clinton’s claim, that, in essence, all Republicans care about are the wealthy. The main answer was that Republicans will grow the economy which will provide more jobs. Will  it? The economy has bounced back since the 2008 Great Recession. The trouble is that the improvement was soaked up by those at the top. The average worker’s income remained virtually flat. Money that could have been used to raise the incomes of employees and provide jobs went to the top. CEOs are doing very well. Just ask Donald Trump.

Wedge issues like Planned Parenthood and immigration got a lot of attention during the debate, but they didn’t derail President Obama and they won’t derail the Democratic candidate this time around, either.  Again, the main issue will be the economy. Growing it is not enough. Making sure that a fair share of that growth goes to America’s working class is the issue.  The Democratic candidate can win the  election, but will that solve the problem? Well, a Democrat has been sitting in the White House for almost 8 years now and the problem is still very much with us. 

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Another Island of Hope in a Sea of Hollywood Flotsam

August 19, 2013

When I  read this  morning that Lee Daniels’ The Butler was number one in the weekend box-office results, I felt like shouting for joy. I just love it when a quality film that  relies on a story well told more than special effects, gratuitous violence,  and endless very loud crashes attracts profitable audiences.  It made $25 million.  It cost $30 million to  make. It should easily be turning in an impressive profit by next weekend.  Hopefully that will encourage the making of more movies like it.

The review in the Ledger-Enquirer found a lot of fault with the film and gave it 2 1/2 stars.  What a bunch of nonsense.  If there was ever a movie deserving of at least 4 stars,  Lee Daniels’ The Butler is it.

The  screenplay was inspired by the true story of African-American White House butler Eugene Allen, who served seven presidents. It follows the civil rights struggle from 1952 when Dwight D. Eisenhower, played by Robin Williams,  was president through the election of Barack Obama.

It depicts the butler’s relationships with the presidents during the Federal desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas,  the Nashville sit-ins, the Freedom Riders, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the passing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., the Black Panther Party, the Vietnam War, the Nixon  resignation, the Free South Africa Movement, and President Obama’s 2008 presidential  campaign.

The movie’s all-star cast includes five Oscar winners and one nominee.  Forrest Whitaker plays the  butler, Opra Winfrey plays his wife, and  David Oyelowo plays his eldest son. Supporting actors include Vanessa Redgrave, Robin Williams, Jane Fonda, Cuba Gooding  Jr., and John Cusack.

It’s very well done.  I was moved.  Don’t  pay any attention to the review in the Ledger-Enquirer.

We Are Definitely Going Over the Fiscal Cliff

November 29, 2012

Mark Vitner, Wells Fargo Chief Economist (Photo by Jim Cawthorne, Camera1)

 

That’s what Mark Vitner told members of the Rotary Club of Columbus. He is the Chief Economist for Wells Fargo.  He says if we define going over the fiscal cliff as an increase in taxes and less government spending, it’s definitely going to happen. 

He doesn’t think, however, that it will throw us  into a depression, and, after the speech, he told me that the bottom line is that things will get better next year economically, but not by much.  The big problem,he says, is uncertainty. Businesses don’t expand and hire more people when there is uncertainty.

From what I have been reading and hearing on television, that uncertainty will only come close to ending when the president and Congress reach a compromise over how to raise revenues and cut spending. The president wants Congress to go ahead and vote to let the Bush tax cuts stay in force for those making less than $250 thousand a year.  The rest of the details, such as what to do about increasing taxes on the wealthiest 2 percent, can be worked out later.

A lot, certainly not all, of wealthy Americans are agreeable about paying more taxes.  A prime example is billionaire Warren Buffet. He thinks they should be raised on Americans making between  $500 thousand and $1 million a year. 

Republican leadership is sticking by its demand that the tax cuts remain in force for everyone, including the top two percent, but there are now some legislators saying their of oath of office trumps their oath to Grover Norquist , who has turned out to be a very powerful lobbyist indeed.  95 percent of Republicans in Congress signed his no-tax-increases pledge.   

Vitner says that conservatives, even those who would be willing to compromise, fear what would happen to them in their reelection bids if they voted to increase anyone’s taxes.  Going over the cliff maybe what will allow them to compromise. If the tax cuts end, they can then vote for another tax cut, then say they didn’t vote for a tax hike, but a tax cut.     

A lot is at stake in this mess. As you know, programs like Medicare, Social Security, and the military  are involved.   

Who knows what will happen. It’s really hard to get some politicians to put country ahead of party, especially when they are afraid their actions will hurt them at reelection time. . 

The Impossible Political Dream?

November 7, 2012

 

Courtesy: U.S. Government

Senator Mitch McConnell, Minority Leader in the Senate, can now focus on something other than making sure that President Obama is a one-term president. That issue has been settled. He can start making reasonable compromises with the president and Democrats in the Senate to do what is best for all Americans.   He puts the burden on the president, telling the Louisville Courier- Journal, ” To the extent he wants to move to the political center, which is where the work gets done in a divided government, we’ll be there to meet him half way.” That offers some hope.

Speaking of hope, let’s hope that more senators, Republicans and Democrats, turn more toward statesmanship, and less toward vindictive partisan politics.

Let’s hope it is not futile to think that reasonable  compromise can also become  the new norm in the  House, too.  It’s time to put the nation first, not the  party.

This may be too much to hope for, but if it doesn’t happen,  this country faces even tougher times.  The fiscal crisis cannot be solved without both spending cuts and increased revenue. The trick is to make sure those spending cuts don’t put more of a burden on Americans who need help right now, and to increase revenues without putting more of a tax burden on the middle class.  Taking more money from the middle class means it has less to spend.  Our economy is consumer driven, so it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what will happen if middle-class consumers have fewer dollars to spend.

60 Minutes Does it Again

September 24, 2012

I have been watching 60 Minutes since the first program aired in 1968.  It is heartening to see that it remains so effective after all of these years.  Tonight’s interviews with President Obama and Governor Romney gave me the best insight into these two candidates for President so far, especially in the case of Governor Romney.  After observing the president for almost four years, I feel that I know him pretty well, but I didn’t feel that I knew his challenger.  I feel I do know him better now. 

Who will win? If the election were held today, I think the president would keep his job. Anything can happen between now and November 6th.  The debates could make the difference. We’ll get a better idea about that in ten days when the first one will be held. 

I’M BACK AND SO ARE THE DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS

September 11, 2012

WHO DO YOU THINK WILL WIN: OBAMA OR ROMNEY?

Since a couple of readers of my blog asked me why I haven’t posted anything for a while, I guess I’ll take the time to post something.

Moving and settling into my new digs have taken most of my attention for the past few weeks, and doing  things like going to Savannah for a weekend has also played a role in my lack of blogging. I have been doing some really short Facebook posts. It’s a lot easier to post things on FB. 

Both of the Republican and Democratic nominating conventions took place since the last time I posted. The event that stood out the most to me  was the speech by former President Bill Clinton.  He is probably the best political speaker to  come along in the last thirty years.  He knows how to phrase sentences in a direct, simple, human, and highly effective manner. He lied about Monica Lewinsky when he was president, but he didn’t lie about anything that I know of when he spoke last week. He appears to have gone to great lengths to get his facts right.  

What’s interesting, also about him, is that he apparently has been forgiven for his personal trespasses during his last years in the White House. He has an approval rating  higher than either President Obama or Governor Romney.   He is still  “the comeback kid.” 

The speech that stood out  the most to me at  the Republican convention was the improvised comedy routine performed by movie star Clint Eastwood. The image of his talking to an empty chair representing President Obama remains the most vivid one  of the GOP gathering. Economist Paul Krugman said Eastwood symbolized the Republican base:  old white men. 

When Pat Hart and I co-ficilitate a current affairs class called “What’s Happening?” for the Columbus Academy for Lifelong Learning for the Fall Quarter we are going to ask class participants to anonymously write down who they think will win, not who they hope will win.  We’ll compile the percentages to see how well they guessed when the election is over. You’re invited to do the same thing here. Just click on the “comments” button and write either Obama or Romney, and we’ll see how close our prognosticators come.

The Putting-Country- Ahead-of-Party Issue

January 9, 2012

Jon Huntsman

Mitt Romney’s debate attack on Jon Huntsman for having been President Obama’s ambassador to China opened up a can of worms for all of the Republican candidates for the presidential nomination, except for Huntsman.

After Romney’s attack,  Huntsman drew applause when he said such attacks are the reason the nation is split right now. “This nation is divided because of attitudes like that. The American people are tired of the partisan division. They have had enough.” He went on to say that he has always put country ahead of party.

This prompted other candidates to claim they can work across the aisle, too. Newt Gingrich, for instance, pointed out how he and President Clinton worked together to reform welfare, balance the budget, and create jobs.

So now, the issue of putting country over partisan politics is out there.  That could end up to President Obama’s advantage because of Republicans in congress saying their number one goal was to make sure that Obama is a one-term president. Any member  of Congress should have as the top goal doing what is best for the country and putting defeating a sitting president above doing that could backfire.

If Huntsman does well In New Hampshire, and, as one TV pundit said today, his billionaire father decides to kick in a hundred-million dollars to his PAC, there is a chance he could win the nomination. The South Carolina polls now show Romney ahead, and that is surprising, because religion plays a big role in South Carolina politics and Romney, as you know, is a Mormon and not really their choice, but they appear to have decided that electability is paramount, and if they decide Huntsman, also a Mormon,  stands the best chance,  he could nail down the nomination.

Political Presentation: It’s How That You Do it

January 2, 2012

As I watched Rick Santorum speaking in Iowa on CNN – refreshingly in long form which gave me a good chance to observe his communicating technique – I had to reflect on presentation, how he said what he said.

First of all, he is good. He can communicate in a natural, conversational, reasonably sounding style, with body language to match. He is much more likable than most of the other Republicans campaigning in Iowa. Likeability is an important factor. It’s a major reason that Barrack Obama is President of the United States. I have even heard some Republicans say they like him as a person, just not as a president.

However, as I listen to what former Senator Santorum was actually saying, I realized beneath his veneer of family values warmth, which puts him in good stead with the Christian right, and probably will help him considerably in South Carolina, is an ideologue who wants America to stay on a course to create an empire, and to stay militarily aggressive.

He put Ron Paul in the same boat with President Obama when it comes to staying at war. He accuses the president of pulling back from military involvement. He said all this in a very reasonable talking-over-the-backyard-fence-to-a-neighbor style. But, the message I got is he is a pro-military-industrial-complex, mega-defense-spending candidate.

He accused President Obama of taking America on an anti-empire course, and said we need to observe the dissolution of the world-dominating British Empire when it became more interested in domestic welfare than empire. That told me that he wants an even larger American Empire. To do that a country does have to maintain a huge military machine and use it to control and expand its empire.

What I can’t understand is why he is just emerging as a candidate to be seriously considered. Why do the polls show him now ahead of New Ginghrich? What’s going to happen in South Carolina where he is being touted as a strong contender because of his Christian right credentials? Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says he, not Santorum, is going to win in South Carolina. After seeing what is now happening in Iowa, I’m not so sure Newt is right.

Both of them have a big problem. They don’t have the organization or the money that former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney or Congressman Ron Paul has. They also have another big problem. Are they electable?  Satisfying the Republican right-wing Christian fundamentalist base is one thing. Overcoming a newly energized, well-financed and organized, accomplished debater Barrack Obama, is quite another.

Cain’s Fifteen Minutes are Over, but Not Newt’s

December 3, 2011

State Sen. Josh McKoon on C-SPAN

After Columbus State Senator Josh McKoon made his rousing speech for Cain on C-Span at the Cain political rally in Atlanta,  Herman Cain suspended his campaign.  No, I’m sure it  had nothing to do with Josh’s remarks. More about Josh in a moment.

Herman Cain on C-SPAN

Cain dropped out, he said,  because of the distractions  and pain to him, his wife and his family that were caused by what he called false statements about him.  He blamed the media and politcians for his troubles.  

He didn’t say the statements were about his alleged sexual adventures with some women other than his wife, but everyone knew what he was talking about when he said he was at peace with himself, that his wife and family were also at peace.

As I watched Cain’s rally-turned-rout, I had to reflect how much Georgia has played a lead role in national politics since Jimmy Carter was elected president. In the Republican presidential primary we had two Georgians making national headlines as their poll numbers put them on top. One of them, Newt Gingrich, had already reached a pinnacle of national power when he became Georgia’s first Speaker of the U.S. House.

Newt wasn’t born in Georgia, and he doesn’t live in the state now. He was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; he and his third wife live in McLean, Virginia, though he comes back to Georgia. He has spoken in Columbus a couple of times in recent years. I read where he gets $60,000 per speech. Wonder if he got that much when he spoke in Columbus. And,  he did graduate from Baker High School in Columbus, and Emory in Atlanta, and was elected as a Georgia Representative to the U.S. House six times, and was a Georgian when he was Speaker of the House.

Cain was born in Memphis, Tennessee, but grew up in Atlanta where he was educated, married, and still resides.  He and I have something in common. We both worked at WSB in Atlanta. He had his talk show until recently. I did the morning newscasts and some DJ work a very long time ago.

How do I  feel about the suspension of his campaign?  I don’t think could have handled the office of president.  999 is not enough. You have to have a clue about places like Libya where the U.S. military is involved.  And leading the free world isn’t exactly the same as running Godfather’s Pizza.  No, he doesn’t, in my view, have the intellect or grasp of foreign affairs that President Obama does.  As far as the sex mess, he certainly isn’t alone in that area.  It just happened to come out before, not after he was elected. Works better for the candidate when it’s after.

Newt? Well, he is quite intelligent and an adept politician, and definitely has a way with words.  He had his sex scandals, too, but he isn’t letting that stop him. And, he can really be nasty when he wants to, which is a lot of the time.  Nasty, though, seems to appeal to a lot of voters. But, would he really be good for the country? Can he rise above partisan politics and do what’s best for the common good?  He is credited with starting the egregious partisanship that has been gridlocking Congress for a number of years now.

Is he electable?  With his personal and political baggage I don’t see how, but as H.L Mencken said, “No one in this world … has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office hereby.” (Thanks to Mike Nichols for that quote.) 

Now, about my good Republican friend Josh McKoon.  Knowing that Cain was probably going to pull out, I was really somewhat surprised when I heard him make his stem-winder speech  about  everyone getting on the Cain train, that he is the man to get the country out of the economic mess it is in.  I would have thought Josh would have been more likely to support Newt.  Wonder if he will now.

Cain says he is out of the race, but not out of the fight. He will continue to air his views on his website, he says. Welcome to the club. There are millions of us bloggers.

“Democrat” is Not a Bad Word in Muscogee County

October 24, 2010

Election 2010 is upon us, about a week away.  If the polls are right, Republicans will be in control in Washington and Georgia, but not necessarily in Muscogee County.  Since Republicans maintain a high-profile  in the county, you might think they are the majority. Look at recent election results and you’ll see they are not.  Muscogee County regularly goes for the Democratic nominee for president.  And locally, the last sheriff and district attorney races make the point. 

I was reading a letter to the Ledger-Enquirer that made a big deal about the writer’s candidate for mayor being a “conservative” and accusing others of being “Obama Democrats.”   That person just doesn’t understand the reality of Muscogee County politics.  Being a Democrat is a plus in county-wide races, not a liability.  Besides, some Democrats are also conservatives, especially when it comes to matters fiscal.

Yes, Republicans may gain control of the Congress and retain control of the Georgia legislature.  The end result, though,  probably will not be all that bad for Democrats.  If Republicans are in control and things don’t get a lot better than they are right now, they probably won’t stay in control for very long.  But, then, in Georgia,  just look at the shape the state is in after 8 years of Republican control, with water, transportation and education problems worse not better, and despite that, they are poised to remain in control.  Surely, over time, Georgia voters will wake up if things continue on the down slope.  Surely. Surely?

Ah, but in Washington, they’ll be able to blame lack of progress on President Obama vetoes, some will say. That tactic didn’t work with President Clinton. He got reelected.  There is a very good chance it won’t work with President Obama, either.  

Meanwhile, don’t let all of the partisan rancor upset you.  Just have a good meal at the Taste of Lemon. Never heard of the Taste of Lemon?  Well, stay tuned.