Posts tagged ‘obama’
We made a decision some time ago to avoid too many political diatribes on these august (web)pages. I feel compelled to re-enter the fray this one time due to a recent occurrence that brings to mind President Obama’s poor managerial skills.
A friend of President Obama, prominent Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, was arrested when someone called 911 as he tried to enter his house without a key. He cried racism. Obama commented that he was unaware of the facts of the case, but believed the Cambridge Police acted “stupidly.”
Since then various law enforcement organizations have cried foul, many have vouched for the quality and effectiveness of the arresting officer, and the local district attorney has contemplated releasing recordings that could actually paint Gates in a very poor light if the arresting officer’s assertions are true.
This isn’t the first time that the President has waded into waters far too shallow for his situation. Since his initial poor statements he has made an effort to clarify, but it is still emblematic of his generally poor record on issues that are ultimately inconsequential to the office. I’d worry less if it wasn’t the first time, and I suspect it will not be the last.
You may recall this post where I assailed some of Obama’s proposed economic plans. To jog your memory, an excerpt from that August 4th message:
Friday’s proposal says Obama “is proposing to offset the cost of his emergency energy rebates over the next five years by enacting a windfall profits tax on big oil companies.”
“Obama simply asks that big oil companies contribute a reasonable share of the windfall profits they receive from high oil prices over the next five years to pay for emergency assistance for families right now,” the campaign says.
“Over the next five years” assumes a great deal. It fails to take into account the impact that this very tax will have on profits. It assumes continued strength in the oil sector that is far from guaranteed. It targets a specific industry due to some kind of dubious moral judgement as to what kind of profits are reasonable.
I’m doing my best to be optimistic about Obama. The news that he has decided to drop this exceedingly ill-conceived idea is very positive and THAT is the CHANGE WE NEED. I certainly didn’t expect this tremendous drop in oil prices to come so quickly, but I think it gives the idea’s proponents a needed lesson in the behavior of markets.
From Mr. TRussell Jacobson, ardent capitalist:
Dear Obama-supporting Friends-
You all know me to be a somewhat sarcastic and jovial fellow, but in all sincerity I am extending my congratulations to you. I know this moment must be a time of relief and hope for you. I suppose it is similar to how I felt towards Ronald Reagan as a child and then later on as an adult. And even though I still feel uncertain and reserve a healthy dose of skepticism, I am extending an olive leaf of peace and earnestly wish our country well under President-elect Obama. I think “losers” in an election have the responsibility to stand back. Not to do nothing. But out of respect for the majority who decided, allow the agenda of the “winners” to move forward, adding their input to make the outcomes better for the constituents they represent. Likewise, the “winners” should in a spirit of goodwill, work to promote the general welfare. I think too often we as citizens allow ourselves to be stirred up by the talking heads and pundits to a heightened level of mild hysteria which makes for good news and TV ratings, but does little to quiet the quakings of our common ground.
Our founding fathers gave a few hints as to what those commonalities could include: love of country, our fellow man, and God. I only pray that all three of these commonalities will be strengthened over the next four and perhaps eight years. For if we are to remain a strong country both in terms of economic prosperity and national security, a love and respect for that trinity must endure – for they are the great assumptions of capitalism and democracy.
One of the things I fear most in the modern liberal movement is secular progressivism. It is a movement that seeks to perform a global “find a replace” function with the words God and individual. When completed, the result will be a world with no anchor of right and wrong, no moral foundation. We have seen the effects of morality ignored in our economic crisis, our social structures, and in the sufferings of millions from human rights violations the world over. In short, the world will ever be in commotion so long as morality plays the part of all things passe.
It is my assertion that capitalism is the most compassionate economic system the world has ever known. Beginning in the 18th century, its principles gave way to the birth of widespread growth in the middle class. America, the country that at one time practiced it the best, was the land of opportunity. Our standard of living has been expanded beyond what any person even 50 years ago could have imagined. When all of her citizens work tirelessly in pursuit of their own self interest, America is at its best. If President Obama accomplishes nothing else, he will have given hope without reprise to a rising generation of minorities to know that it is alright to study, to achieve and to escape the bonds of poverty. But I wish him many more accomplishments that will benefit us all.
So as the torch of leadership passes, let us recall Senator McCain’s commonly repeated confession of patriotism; “We are all Americans”. I love my country very much. My grandfathers fought against her enemies and saw their brothers in arms fall in their advance to protect our shores, defend our way of living and guarantee peace and prosperity for a generation. But as Ronald Reagan said:
Freedom is always just one generation away from extinction. We don’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream; we have to fight for it and protect it, and then hand it to them so that they shall do the same, or we’re going to find ourselves spending our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children about a time in America, back in the day, when men and women were free.
It is my hope that President-elect Obama uses his new mantle of responsibility to serve out his time in the selfless service of his country, her citizens, and her God. For he will swear an oath to God to do just that. Should his service honor that creed, then he will have won this conservative’s vote in four more years.
1. The Courts
In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, law professor Steven Calabresi looks at how Obama’s legal philosophy would impact the Federal Court system. What kind of judges would he choose? A speech to Planned Parenthood provides the answer:
“[W]e need somebody who’s got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it’s like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it’s like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old. And that’s the criteria by which I’m going to be selecting my judges.”
Under Obama, if empathy becomes a key component in selecting judges, rather than an understanding of the law and a consistent legal philosophy, it is reason for concern. As Calabresi writes, the courts are not right-wing at this time, despite liberal rhetoric to the contrary. The ineffectiveness of the Bush administration and Republican congressional faction at confirming judicial nominees over the past 8 years makes the existing balance precarious.
Mr. Obama would roll back the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for taxpayers in the top two brackets, raising the top two marginal rates of income tax to 36% and 39.6% from 33% and 35%. The 33% rate begins to hit this year at incomes of $164,550 for an individual and $200,300 for joint filers. Mr. Obama claims no “working families” earning less than $250,000 would pay more in taxes, but that’s because he defines income more broadly than the taxable income line on the IRS form. If you’re an individual with taxable income of $164,550, you will pay more taxes.
Mr. Obama’s most dramatic departure from current tax policy is his promise to lift the cap on income on which the Social Security payroll tax is applied. Currently, the employer and employee each pay 6.2% up to $102,000, a level that is raised for inflation each year. The Obama campaign says he’d raise the payroll tax rate on incomes above $250,000 by as much as two to four percentage points — though it’s unclear if that higher rate would apply to the employee, the employer, or both.
In any case, lifting the cap would change the nature of Social Security from an insurance program — which pays out based on how much you paid in — into a wealth-transfer program that is far more progressive.
Taken together, these add up to about a 10-percentage-point hike in marginal tax rates for those making more than $250,000 a year, including millions of small businesses that pay taxes at individual rates. The “marginal” rate refers to the rate paid on the next dollar of income, and it has an especially strong influence on decisions to work and invest.
As I have mentioned on this blog several times (at least 6: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), Democrats have blocked several free trade agreements, with the Colombian agreement receiving particular attention. As this WSJ piece explains, Obama and McCain differ greatly on trade:
Mr. Obama opposes the Colombia and South Korea agreements, for the same reasons cited by other Congressional Democrats. In the last presidential debate, Mr. Obama pointed to violence in Colombia against labor unions. The politically independent Colombian attorney general says violence against union members has come down sharply under President Alvaro Uribe, but Mr. Obama says that’s insufficient.
He also opposes the South Korea pact, which would remove auto tariffs in both directions and end South Korea’s use of nontariff barriers to protect its domestic markets. Mr. Obama says the U.S. buys “hundreds of thousands of cars” from South Korea and “we can get only 4,000-5,000 into South Korea.” The Democrat wants assurances that the imbalance in auto sales will end. The Obama campaign declined to tell us whether he supports the Panama FTA or trade negotiating authority.
I don’t think he understands the “free” part of free trade. That means goods move freely, based on demand. If we make a car they like, they will buy. Is he suggesting a quota of some sort? That would defeat the purpose, wouldn’t it?
4. Forthrightness & Consistency
Without question, Obama has set the bar at new height with a truly staggering sum of cash. And that is why as we approach this November, it is worth reminding ourselves what Barack Obama said last November.
One year ago, he made a promise. He pledged to accept public financing and to work with the Republican nominee to ensure that they both operated within those limits.
Then it became clear to Sen. Obama and his campaign that he was going to be able to raise on his own far more cash than he would get with public financing. So Obama went back on his word.
This is an amazing race. The incumbent president has approval ratings somewhere between Robert Mugabe and the ebola virus. The economy is supposedly on the brink of global Armageddon. McCain has only $80 million to spend, while Obama’s burning through $600 mil as fast as he can, and he doesn’t really need to spend a dime given the wall-to-wall media adoration… And yet an old cranky broke loser is within two or three points of the King of the World. Strange.
Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the late Democratic senator from New York, once set the difference between American capitalism and the older European version by observing that America was the party of liberty, whereas Europe was the party of equality. Just in the nick of time for the Obama candidacy, the American faith in liberty began to crack. The preachers of America’s decline in the global pecking order had added to the panic. Our best days were behind us, the declinists prophesied. The sun was setting on our imperium, and rising in other lands.
A younger man, “cool” and collected, carrying within his own biography the strands of the world beyond America’s shores, was put forth as a herald of the change upon us. The crowd would risk the experiment. There was grudge and a desire for retribution in the crowd to begin with. Akin to the passions that have shaped and driven highly polarized societies, this election has at its core a desire to settle the unfinished account of the presidential election eight years ago. George W. Bush’s presidency remained, for his countless critics and detractors, a tale of usurpation. He had gotten what was not his due; more galling still, he had been bold and unabashed, and taken his time at the helm as an opportunity to assert an ambitious doctrine of American power abroad. He had waged a war of choice in Iraq.
My hard-hitting look at the management inability of Barack Obama continues. Having chronicled previous examples of the Un-Manager at work, this latest bit fell right into my lap, courtesy of el Drudge.
Apparently the Obama campaign does not do a very good job of treating the media. I’m not going to cry to much when the media suffers, but even these guys deserve reasonable working conditions:
The McCain campaign plane is better than Obama’s, which is cramped, uncomfortable and smells terrible most of the time. Somehow the McCain folks manage to keep their charter clean, even where the press is seated.
I suppose Febreze probably has some kind of deleterious environmental effects. More from the piece by CBS’ Dean Reynolds:
The national headquarters in Chicago airily dismisses complaints from journalists wondering why a schedule cannot be printed up or at least e-mailed in time to make coverage plans. Nor is there much sympathy for those of us who report for a newscast that airs in the early evening hours. Our shows place a premium on live reporting from the scene of campaign events. But this campaign can often be found in the air and flying around at the time the “CBS Evening News with Katie Couric” is broadcast. I suspect there is a feeling within the Obama campaign that the broadcast networks are less influential in the age of the internet and thus needn’t be accomodated as in the days of yore. Even if it’s true, they are only hurting themselves by dissing audiences that run in the tens of millions every night.
The McCain folks are more helpful and generally friendly. The schedules are printed on actual books you can hold in your hand, read, and then plan accordingly. The press aides are more knowledgeable and useful to us in the news media. The events are designed with a better eye, and for the simple needs of the press corps. When he is available, John McCain is friendly and loquacious. Obama holds news conferences, but seldom banters with the reporters who’ve been following him for thousands of miles around the country. Go figure.
Yeah. Go figure.
The campaign of Barack Obama is a fascinating story, a bonus in a year where the contentious race for the Democratic nomination has already been pure entertainment for a conservative Republican like me.
Much has been made of the Jeremiah Wright debacle. One definition for that word is “a great disruption.” Whatever your feeling on the matter, can this be argued? One thing that is clear is that Obama should not be surprised. From a one year old New York Times piece (via Best of the Web):
Few of those at Mr. Wright’s tribute in March knew of the pressures that Mr. Obama’s presidential run was placing on the relationship between the pastor and his star congregant. Mr. Wright’s assertions of widespread white racism and his scorching remarks about American government have drawn criticism, and prompted the senator to cancel his delivery of the invocation when he formally announced his candidacy in February.
Mr. Obama, a Democratic presidential candidate who says he was only shielding his pastor from the spotlight, said he respected Mr. Wright’s work for the poor and his fight against injustice. But “we don’t agree on everything,” Mr. Obama said. “I’ve never had a thorough conversation with him about all aspects of politics.”
It is hard to imagine, though, how Mr. Obama can truly distance himself from Mr. Wright. The Christianity that Mr. Obama adopted at Trinity has infused not only his life, but also his campaign. He began his presidential announcement with the phrase “Giving all praise and honor to God,” a salutation common in the black church. He titled his second book, “The Audacity of Hope,” after one of Mr. Wright’s sermons, and often talks about biblical underdogs, the mutual interests of religious and secular America, and the centrality of faith in public life.
The article concludes:
Mr. Wright, who has long prided himself on criticizing the establishment, said he knew that he may not play well in Mr. Obama’s audition for the ultimate establishment job.
“If Barack gets past the primary, he might have to publicly distance himself from me,” Mr. Wright said with a shrug. “I said it to Barack personally, and he said yeah, that might have to happen.”
I don’t support Obama. I don’t like his policies. I’m less concerned about his Church associations, notwithstanding his pastor’s nuttiness. How he has dealt with those is an interesting window into who he is.
What else tells us about him? I liked this post from Eric at The Tygrrrr Express. Eric is also a conservative, but like many (including me) he can’t help but be impressed with Obama. He does possess formidable political gifts. This excerpt illuminates one of them:
Bill Kristol correctly pointed out that many of Obama’s answers lacked substance. Even if that was true, the fact that I did not notice that during the interview only goes to show how effective he was. To go back and watch it again, and judge the performance in a harsher light, would be unfair.
I know this has happened to me- Obama exudes a kind of reasonableness. I know this is what makes him a palatable choice for many people, even Republicans that should know better.
We’ll keep watching the Obamenon unfold.