Category Archives: President

Obama Best President Since Eisenhower

In an argument on DC’s forums last year, amidst all the caterwauling, hair tearing, and general hatassery concerning the President and the upcoming elections, I proposed the following; that Barack Obama could well be considered the best President since Dwight D. Eisenhower.  I said it at the time largely because I like to take a devil’s advocate position, but also because I’ve become quite weary over the last 6 years listening to idiots run down the sitting President.

Generally, I’m right there with them.  I mean, given the track record of Presidents in recent history, it’s not hard to thrash a President and have a receptive audience.

I first started paying attention to politics when Carter was in office. I couldn’t vote back then, but I thought Carter was getting a raw deal leading up to the election of 1980. His policies weren’t anything to brag about, but the weakness of the President and the country that conservatives railed about was largely an illusion that they invented simply as a tool to use against him.  As history has demonstrated, Reagan didn’t know anything more than how to hit a mark and say a line (mostly) correctly; and people in his employ did negotiate with the Iranian hostage takers. In 1984. Again? Who knows.

(Courtesy information aesthetics website)

Reagan’s term in office was hardly anything to brag about either; in spite of what armies of conservatives say otherwise.  Yes, it’s true, the Berlin wall fell on his watch, but that falling had almost nothing to do with US policies in the region, and everything to do with ham-handed bureaucrats behind the iron curtain, and a Soviet President elected to usher in a new era of openness demanded by the people. What Reagan should be known for, the albatross that he should wear, is Reaganomics or trickle-down economics; which has been shown to be a complete failure and has actually contributed more to economic instability than any other action committed by any other US executive in modern history.

Reagan’s real legacy is the S&L debacle, brought about by loosening regulations on financial institutions, almost exactly as predicted by people opposed to that action.  The Iran-Contra affair that I mentioned previously barely moves the needle compared to the destructiveness of Reaganomics.

But Ronald Reagan was popular and was elected to two terms.  His popularity even earned his Vice-President, an almost political unknown named George Herbert Walker Bush, a term as President. But the damage done by Reaganomics continued to plague the nation, and not even a short, victorious, righteous war to stymie the aggression of a Middle Eastern dictator could secure him a second term in office.

As a peacenik, someone opposed to war in general if not in principle, George H.W. Bush’s willingness to go to war didn’t earn any points with me.  None of the things his successor said or did made me believe he was any different.  Bill Clinton’s term in office benefitted from the investment of the LBJ administration in space technology, in the form of microchips that were finally small and powerful enough to drive the information technology revolution that we are in the middle of; which makes his term in office seem halcyon in hindsight. But his willingness to involve the US in every correct world event (with the exception of Rwanda. Which he says he wishes he’d gotten involved in as well) lobbing missiles like they were footballs at every hotspot on the globe, provided the grist for the mill of anti-American sentiment around the world.

Packing a bomb which exploded on 9-11.  That’s the take-away that history will draw from this era, the post-post WWII decades. When the US fumbled the ball handed to it by the old-world European powers, and let someone else take up the lead internationally (who that will be remains in question) the election of Bush II will not be remembered for what Al Gore supporters would like it to be remembered for, but for the results of America being asleep at the wheel internationally almost since the end of the Vietnam war.

Bush II didn’t steal the election, he simply won it on a technicality. So he got to be the guy in charge on the day when the buzzards came home to roost.  The saying roughly goes we get the best enemies money can buy and we made the enemies who attacked us on 9-11; both figuratively and in reality.  We trained a good number of terrorists to resist the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, including some who later worked for Al Qaeda, possibly even OBL himself. The administration was warned but ignored those warnings, and then set about fighting a war that would end up being the longest in US history, and arranged for that war to occur based on false evidence.  In the process the Bush II administration destroyed American credibility on the world stage (whatever was left of it) torturing innocent people who just happened to be in a warzone at the wrong time.

To finish off his term, Bush II (prefer W? Use that) also failed to act on the looming financial crisis (also about which he was warned) and consequently handed the election of the next President to the Democrats, who could have run the proverbial yellow dog, and it would have won.  If it hadn’t been for Sarah Palin’s circus show, there wouldn’t have been anything of interest about the election of 2008.

With that as a backdrop, you can imagine what I thought of Barack Obama going into his first term.  Don’t get me wrong, I voted for him in the primary in a vain (?) effort to throw the election his way instead of towards Hillary Clinton (I have no use for political dynasties) but I voted straight Libertarian for my last time in that general election. Held my nose and voted for a Republican in Libertarian clothing. Won’t be doing that again.

But Obama pretty much did what he promised.  Oh, I know, he cratered on a lot of things that privacy advocates and conspiracy mongers think he should have taken a hard line on.  But he has ended the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan without looking too ridiculous in the process; and no matter how much saber rattling the Conservatives do, the anarchy currently afoot in Syria/Iraq doesn’t amount to much in the scheme of things unless you happen to have business there.  Happen to live there (if you do, you have my sympathy. But do you really want to help Bashar Assad stay in power?  Really?) It managed to win them seats in the midterms, blowing out the possibility of a more productive congress in 2015, but in the end they remain on the wrong side of history.

Why, you ask? Why are they on the wrong side of history?  Why would Obama be considered a good President? Because the general trends are predictive and obvious.  I tripped over them even if you, dear reader, did not.

Since the Cold War ended and we blithely went on unchanging in or priorities, the Old World powers found their legs and stood on their own again.  If you want to visit countries with the highest ratings for health, productivity, happiness, etc., look no further than the old economies that hard liners in the US still wrongly dismiss.  Proof of this can be found by the ease with which Germany absorbed the poorer provinces of Eastern Germany, long held back under Soviet rule.  How the French absorb refugees into France at a rate that rivals the US.

Canada’s adoption of the Canada Health Act hasn’t proved disastrous for the Canadian economy as predicted. It’s services continue to improve at an impressive rate, leaving the US in the dust. Even Mexico City has better healthcare than we have in the US, finally making the claims of liberal agitators like Micheal Moore truthful, if only in hindsight.

The writing is on the wall, has been on the wall for sometime and US citizens apparently never noticed. Socialized medicine, for lack of a better appellation, appears to be the future.  The notion that individuals can pay for health services as needed and build the kind of infrastructure that the average person wants (emergency services, research, etc) has been effectively shown to be a pipe dream; and that systems can and do function with the amount of complexity required to provide services in a timely fashion.

Ergo we will all be charged something to provide the services we all say we want but don’t want to pay for; or rather, underestimate the cost of.  But that subject is beside the point I’m trying to make, and I don’t want to be distracted from it.

Every President since and including FDR talked about doing something about healthcare in the US.  Every President since Truman has actively asked for and/or crafted legislation to fix the US healthcare system. Barack Obama, in the face of the stiffest opposition faced by any President in US history, helped to craft compromise legislation that at least advances the goal of universal access to healthcare for the first time in US history.  No one likes it, to be sure, but it appears to be working all the same.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index is out this morning and reveals that 15.9 percent of American adults are now uninsured, down from 17.1 percent for the last three months of 2013 and has shown improvements in every major demographic group with the exception of Hispanics who did not advance. 

Courtesy; Forbes “The Real Numbers On ‘The Obamacare Effect’ Are In-Now Let The Crow Eating Begin”

If it continues working, if we actually expand on the basis set down by the Obama administration, What then? When Presidents back to the time of Truman tried to get this done?

Why Eisenhower? Because Eisenhower was the last President to put his name on a fundamental change that was positive to the US as a whole. LBJ might have done this with his Great Society, but his term was marred with Vietnam (which could have been avoided) Eisenhower managed to avoid any major conflicts, and established the Interstate system with funds Congress had given to the military.

I’m not planning on doing an exhaustive search back though 60 years of Presidential history just to make my point.  Truthfully, when I first proposed the idea, I just stated best President in our lifetimes. I was born in the age of Kennedy, and while his ending was tragic, what LBJ achieved in his name was of more importance than anything he did aside from not starting World War Three during the Cuban Missile Crisis. In the grand scheme of things that is what he will be remembered for, aside from his words that took us to the moon on LBJ’s watch.

Which is really all that matters to history.

LBJ might pull a close second, even with Vietnam on his record, but that just really speaks to the lackluster nature of our leaders post-WW II, not to any high achievement on LBJ’s record.

What’s funny is, I’ve heard similar talk in the news media of late, which is why this subject came back to mind. Obama took the shellacking of his party in stride, decided he wouldn’t sit out the last two years of his Presidency and play golf; at least not yet anyway (If you ask me he’s earned it, having taken less vacation than the last two Presidents) and took his Presidential pen in hand (something else he’s done less than recent Presidents) to reduce the suffering of people who it was in his power to help.

It is noteworthy that every president since and including Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower has taken executive action on immigration without facing threats of lawsuits, government shutdowns, impeachment, or loss of executive authority

The title caught my eye Every President Since Eisenhower.  Well that’s interesting.  Not a recommendation, but at least a true observation on the obstinacy of Congresses across the years. So I went looking farther.

A piece from this time last year in the New York Times lays the case out pretty well;

Mr. Obama, barring tragedy or resignation, will get to serve eight years, but his margin of victory last November was not overwhelming. He won 62 percent of the electoral vote, which ranks 16th among the 30 presidents who sought re-election after their first terms. Mr. Obama’s electoral vote percentage was better than any of the 10 first-term losers, of course — but among the 20 winners, it exceeded only James Madison in 1812, Woodrow Wilson in 1916, Harry Truman in 1948 and George W. Bush in 2004.

That’s just going on percentages. Puts him in the running with Clinton, well below Eisenhower or LBJ in historical importance based on electoral percentage.

But that’s a little dry, don’t you think? Surely it means more than that, historical importance? More than the President’s popularity with the voting public?  Not necessarily.  Specifically, I have a hard time believing that Reagan will maintain his high rating (historically ranked 10th in importance) even with his overwhelming second-term victory percentages, given the looting that his administration ushered in and is only now coming to light.

Still, the cost-cutters will be hard pressed to nay-say Barack Obama’s place in history if he stays on course through the rest of his term;

Courtesy Forbes Magazine

You are reading that right.  Obama most conservative federal spender since…
…Dwight D. Eisenhower. Don’t hold your breath waiting for your conservative outlets to spin this the right way, they won’t; or they will take Heritage Foundation’s tack on the subject and insist that Bush II’s war costs should be saddled on Obama. In any case, the groundwork has been laid. My work here is done.


When I say that Obama is the best President since Eisenhower, it’s not a compliment to Obama or Eisenhower. I just want to make this point clear. It’s an observation on just how predatory our government has been in the past, continues to be at present. Imagine what US society would look like if Americans thought of themselves as not engaged in a zero-sum competition with their fellows? If we elected a government that actually focused on common welfare and not killing perceived threats to our ever-diminishing piece of the pie?

That is how Obama is different than his predecessors since Eisenhower, or at least since Carter. This is the first time the military agenda hasn’t dominated every second of the sitting Presidents time. The first time in decades that any social advancement has been registered; or more precisely, the first time the downward slide of the average American has been noted publicly.

We (as citizens) should build on that, rather than be distracted by the same-old glittery glamour of sabre-rattling and outright warfare that has come to be synonymous with US policy since WWII.

The Delusional Governor of our State of Texas

This may become a regular feature for me. I can’t seem to get away from this. Apologizing to the rest of the world (or at least the nation) for the paucity of intellect displayed by our sitting Governor; the longest sitting governor for the State of Texas (I’d be ashamed, but I’ve never cast a vote for the man. The rest of you, though…) Sometimes I wonder if this man ties his own shoes in the morning, or if he has to have someone else do it.

Case in point. I’m watching Hardball last night (as I do virtually every night) and I nearly fall out of my chair as the Governor tells a New Hampshire child on national television (!?) that we teach creationism alongside evolution in Texas.


(courtesy of TFN and NPR)

Now, I know that this has been his goal for about the last decade or so, it’s why he’s appointed a series of young-earth creationists to chair the SBOE; but apparently he hasn’t kept track of what his appointed cronies have been forced to accept recently. The entirety of intelligent design (aka, creationism) has been rejected by the SBOE in a unanimous vote. There will be no creationism taught in Texas schools. There cannot be, no matter how many times he appoints creationists to the SBOE, as it is a violation of the separation between church and state.

The Governor’s campaign for the White House is a train wreck, and an embarrassment to thinking Texans (and yes, we do exist) everywhere. The national political pundits are probably drooling at the chance to have a real circus to report on; it’s good for ratings.

[I can only imagine what the behind the cameras dialog was like when McCain ran against Obama or Dole ran against Clinton; “Where’s the drama? I’m supposed to attract viewers with this?”
]

The kind of divisive political piety that he displays (and is detailed here for those who haven’t been paying attention) Will play well in certain areas of the nation, but be alienating to the majority of voters. He’ll do great in the Midwest (and a good portion of the old South) he will not favor well anywhere in the Southwest outside of Texas, and won’t play at all in the North.

The outcome that the administration is hoping for is facing off against a Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann. That campaign they’ll be able to phone in since neither one of them is even acquainted with “Mainstream America”, and will be easy to trip up on the most basic of scientific inquiries (young earth creationists generally are) not to mention their willingness to gut all social programs, especially health care programs, in the name of fiscal responsibility. It will be the simplest of matters to rally the middle in lukewarm support of an Obama second term in the face of that kind of challenge.

The only thing Obama is terrified of is the jobs numbers not getting better; perversely, it’s the only thing the opposition has to hope for, since they can’t seem to find a candidate that will satisfy the crazies (Like Chris Christy points out in this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?&v=y83z552NJaw) and be marketable to the rest of us.


Jon Huntsman knows where the center is;

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, another contender for the GOP presidential nomination, took to Twitter almost instantly, seeming to mock Perry for the creationism comment, as well as for his recent statements on climate change: “To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.”

(courtesy Texas Tribune)

Doubt seriously that the Republicans will give him the time of day, though.

Pick a President on the Internet?

Went looking for sites that took advantage of the internet in the candidate selection process recently. I knew about http://www.selectsmart.com/president/

Politicians have already indicated their 2012 presidential aspirations. This matching quiz includes President Obama, top members of his administration, Obama’s most vocal critics (Boehner, Cantor, etc.) and likely White House prospects (Palin, Pawlenty, Jindal, etc.). You may select a position for every issue, or just select issues important to you. The political figures’ positions are based upon their voting records, special interest group ratings and their statements in the public record. In cases where there is no known public record or statement, these politicos are not given a score on that issue. We add candidates, revise their views and include new issues as they become known or change. Check back often for updates.

…from previous elections. However, I was pointed to http://www.opencongress.org/ (hardcore debate site, I’m told) and VoteEasy (from Project: Vote Smart) as other resources that do the something similar.

The problem is, who to trust? The fractious nature of the American populace is the stumbling block. It’s not just that they have different sources, it’s that those sources use different facts. They think they’re entitled to different facts. Reality just doesn’t work that way.

To me, this is just another example of why we need an election process that is more open, and publicly funded. I don’t want to have to pick over Iowa’s leavings when it comes to opponents for the status quo. What they select will most likely not be electable, an we’ll end up with Romney against Obama as a compromise candidate; the status quo vs. the status quo. That’s not a race, that’s yet another yawnfest. Maybe something like this…

http://www.americanselect.org

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Elliot Ackerman
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

Something more “content neutral”. Rather than having to sell yourself to your nutjob left or right base (about 2/10’s of the population, combined) you can appeal to the middle directly. An interesting approach to the problem, to say the least, if not exactly original (saw something similar started last election that never got any traction) let’s see if it goes anywhere.

Maybe we should use this guy’s theories (also on Colbert. It’s been a good week for election theory there lately) to pick the candidate we need;

A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Nassir Ghaemi
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

Probably the most interesting interview I’ve seen in awhile (Much as I like The Cars‘ revival album) on Colbert.

No, the Other Palin for President

On the other hand, I think this video says it all when it comes to Palin and the Presidency.

read more | digg story

Unless it’s covered in this video, that is.

read more | digg story

I know it’s a parody because the Hillary character is, in fact, funny. Megalomaniacs generally aren’t people that I find amusing. On the other hand, I laugh at people who believe the same things Sarah Palin does, pretty much every day. They’re always funny. Until people vote for them, that is.

Majority Support Libertarian Inclusion in Debates

Open Debates issued this press release today.

MAJORITY OF VOTERS SUPPORT INCLUSION OF THIRD PARTY CANDIDATE BOB BARR IN DEBATES

For Immediate Release

September 5, 2008

Contact: George Farah

Washington, D.C. – The majority of likely voters support the inclusion of Libertarian Party candidate Bob Barr in the 2008 presidential debates.

A Zogby poll has found that 55% of likely voters want to see former Congressman Bob Barr participate in the upcoming presidential debates with Republican nominee John McCain and Democratic nominee Barack Obama. The Zogby also poll found that 45% of likely voters supported the inclusion of independent candidate Ralph Nader in the presidential debates. However, despite support from a majority of likely voters for Bob Barr’s inclusion, Barr will be excluded from the presidential debates. The Commission on Presidential Debates, a creation of the Republican and Democratic parties, established candidate selection criteria that ensure that only the major party candidates will be eligible to participate in the debates.

“The Commission on Presidential Debates should serve the interests of the American people, not the interests of the two major parties,” said George Farah, executive director of Open Debates. “The Commission on Presidential Debates should include candidates that a majority of Americans want to see participate in the debates.”

The Commission on Presidential Debates was created by and for the Republican and Democratic Parties. In 1986, the Republican and Democratic National Committees ratified an agreement “to take over the presidential debates” from the League of Women Voters. Fifteen months later, then-Republican Party chair Frank Fahrenkopf and then-Democratic Party chair Paul Kirk incorporated the Commission on Presidential Debates. Fahrenkopf and Kirk still co-chair the Commission on Presidential Debates, and every four years, it excludes candidates that most voters want to see debate.

read more | digg story

I don’t think enough can be said about this subject. Pundits talk endlessly, day in and day out, about The Will of the People. Shall we disregard the will of the people on this subject, then?

How can there be informed consent, or free and fair elections, when the true breadth of opinion on politics is excluded from open debate?

Hillary Declares her Intentions

Hillary Clinton has also decided to seek the presidency (I buried the story on Digg, myself) Like that’s a surprise. We’ve all been told she was going to run since the day her husband left the White House.

Personally, I think she’s a shoe-in to win the Democrat nomination, even though she’s not a Democrat (she’s a socialist, her attempt to socialize medicine during her husband’s tenure proves this) or even much of a woman, a parent, or a wife. She’s connected to Bill, and Bill still pulls a lot of strings in the Democrat party. That’s really all she needs to win at this point.

I’m just waiting to see who the Republicans field against her. I’m still betting on Condi; not because she’s got a chance of winning, but because polling has revealed that her group (black, female) is the only group less likely to win the presidency than a white female.

…and the Republicans are playing to loose this time around.

Whatever happens in the four to eight years following Bush’s time in office, it isn’t going to be good. The Republicans want to be able to capitalize on that by blaming it on the next occupant of the White House.

Look to see them attempt to scuttle any other viable candidates (including Dr. Paul, the only Republican that I would vote for) in the coming years, leaving only Condi to run against Hillary.