The Obama fantasy

October 20, 2008

Robert J. Samuelson, a Democrat, wrote a column back in February called “The Obama Delusion”. It’s a good read.

The subtext of Obama’s campaign is that his own life narrative — to become the first African American president, a huge milestone in the nation’s journey from slavery — can serve as a metaphor for other political stalemates. Great impasses can be broken with sufficient goodwill, intelligence and energy. “It’s not about rich versus poor; young versus old; and it is not about black versus white,” he says. Along with millions of others, I find this a powerful appeal.

Come to think of it, let’s reflect on this passage that Samuelson quoted for a moment. If you listen to Obama’s rhetoric lately it is most definitely “rich versus poor”, and “young versus old”. Where did that go? Doesn’t Obama want unity in America? I guess all that talk was just talk…

I remember seeing this music video when I was a teenager. It came into my mind today after seeing Gen. Powell’s endorsement of Obama, and I reflected on Obama’s past messages of unity (his “no red states, no blue states” speech), and others saying that some white people are voting for Obama to assuage their white guilt about past racial sins. If you read the lyrics, it’s reminiscent of Obama’s stump speeches, and the messages of the anti-war crowd that supports him. See what you think.

The fantasy, 80’s style–“Can You Feel It”, The Jacksons

You can’t hear the lyrics too well, so here’s a video that shows the lyrics as the song plays.

Hillary Clinton had this fantasy pegged:

Continuing from Samuelson’s article:

But on inspection, the metaphor is a mirage. Repudiating racism is not a magic cure-all for the nation’s ills. The task requires independent ideas, and Obama has few. If you examine his agenda, it is completely ordinary, highly partisan, not candid and mostly unresponsive to many pressing national problems.

As I noted above, you don’t hear the sort of rhetoric from Obama that inspired the euphoric visions of unity anymore. Apparently he tossed it out the window when it didn’t serve him anymore. Now he’s playing on voter anger and distrust. Still, I think a lot of people “hold on to the dream”, like Powell does, that Obama is a “transformational figure”. Life is not that simple, people. Even though it will be “the mother of all letdowns” for the dreamers that support him if he loses, experiencing that sense of angst and betrayal, I think, will be better than realizing that Obama never was the fantasy that he induced in us.

The above clip of Hillary’s speech, when she was in Providence, RI, was one of the rare times when I agreed with her 100%. We need to elect someone who has a sense of hope and vision, but who is also grounded in how things are now, and what’s possible to accomplish in the office of the presidency. I believe that the closest we can come to that among the two major party candidates is John McCain.


Unbelievable: Colin Powell endorses Obama

October 19, 2008

I heard about this back in August. There was breathless speculation that Powell was going to endorse Obama. It didn’t happen, and it made the Obama campaign sound like it was crying wolf to grab headlines. Earlier this week I heard the same thing and I brushed it off. “He’s not going to do it,” I thought. How could he endorse a candidate with such irresponsible foreign policy views? Well here it is. You have to see it to believe it.

Basically what Powell says here is he likes that Obama is intellectually curious, and gathers information and views from many sources. And he doesn’t like the direction the Republican Party is going in, with certain high level people in the party wondering whether Obama is really a Muslim, and whether he really has ties to terrorists that could do America harm. Perhaps he doesn’t like that McCain hasn’t disciplined those people in the party or thrown them out, since being the nominee of the party, he is the leader of it. He also said in so many words that he didn’t like McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin for VP, because in his mind she’s not ready to be president. So he thinks Obama is ready? Is he serious?

It’s interesting that on Friday Christopher Hitchens, a long-time supporter of Bush and his policies in the “War on Terror”, also endorsed Obama on the O’Reilly Factor for the same reasons. Hitchens conceded that Obama is inexperienced and has some wrong ideas, but “he’s teachable”. I guess that’s an attractive notion to some, but I think if Obama does win he’s going to be taught more (brutally) by actual events than by experts, and we’re all going to be his guinea pigs while he learns. Great. I can’t wait.

The objections Powell had about McCain were that McCain seemed unsure about how to handle the economic crisis, that his foreign policy approach has gotten narrower, and that his campaign has focused too much on issues that are of little concern to the American people.

Have these men forgotten that it was McCain who came up with the winning strategy of the surge in Iraq, a policy that Obama opposed? Obama favored beginning the pullout of forces in 2007, a strategy that would have surely led to chaos in Iraq and the surrounding region. Has Powell forgotten that it was McCain who backed legislation in 2006 that would have regulated Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which would have had a chance of nipping this financial crisis in the bud before it blew up on us this fall? Where was Obama on that one? He was in the Cloak Room in the Senate and couldn’t be bothered to come out and vote for it.

I’m sure McCain doesn’t believe that Obama has ties to terrorists that will do us harm, nor that he is a Muslim. I’m curious to know why Powell somehow thinks that doesn’t matter. The question from McCain’s perspective was never about whether Obama is the “Manchurian candidate”, but that Obama’s associations have never been vetted by the MSM (as they should have been), and that his associations say something about him and his judgement. That’s all.

Hearing that Obama is intellectually curious is a plus in my book. Both Hitchens and Powell said this. I’m intellectually curious myself, but I know that it’s not the end-all, be-all of judgement.

My grandmother was a nurse before she got married. She went through a nursing school that was more like a vocational school. There was book learning, but there was a lot of hands-on work. Students worked with real patients every day. By the time she graduated she knew how to work with doctors and patients, and she had probably seen it all as far as what kinds of problems patients could have. Her husband was a radiologist. Both of them told me growing up that book learning is good, but hands-on experience is invaluable. If you have a serious illness or operation, you do NOT want a doctor working on you who is just out of medical school. Get one who has been dealing with patients’ illnesses and physiology for many years. Why? The doctor just out of medical school is trained in the basics. Sure they’re competent, but they have been trained for the routine stuff, and they don’t know what they don’t know. Also what they don’t know, just from a lack of experience, is that biology can and does throw them curveballs. They’ll think one thing is going on when in fact it’s something else, and they’ll treat you (very convincingly I might add) for the wrong problem. People die in hospitals quite often, and not of natural causes. Sometimes it’s because of negligence (in which case they have a lawsuit on their hands), but often it’s because the doctor(s) did their due dilligence, but even that wasn’t good enough.

I have to admit I haven’t listened to a lot of what McCain has said about what he’d do on policy. One policy position I heard from one of his advisors that really impressed me is that he’s considering bringing in more people from different professions to serve as teachers in the public schools, rather than credentialled teachers who have gone through the education schools. This is a non-obvious solution to an obvious problem. Our schools of education (the university programs that train teachers), by and large, suck. This has been the case for decades. My mother who got her degree in education has said as much for years. This was the case when she went to school, though fortunately she found a good graduate private post-graduate program. It seems as though everyone but the people ensconsced in the education schools knows this. Many of these schools are a joke.

Anyway, that’s one policy position I listened to. The real reason I came around to McCain is I was impressed that he came up with the surge policy in Iraq, which is working well, when everyone else, including many Republicans (except Bush), wanted to throw in the towel and concede defeat. That shows judgement and leadership that Obama simply doesn’t have, and I’m surprised that Powell, who as a military man has been dedicated to success in military conflict (in my opinion), would back someone who doesn’t have the perception to understand what it takes to succeed in that theater, and who has a powerful constituency he has to please that believes war is never justified.

Colin Powell, I hate to say this, because I have long believed that you are a good judge of character, but I think you’ve fallen for a very well done PR campaign that has in my opinion caused you to go more with your feelings than with your head and sense of judgement. I am so very disappointed in you.

Ask yourself, do you believe everything you hear?

October 16, 2008

Is the one who “lied” in fact more trustworthy?

Listen and learn. Here is Barack Obama giving his explanation for the current financial crisis:

While the crisis cannot be totally blamed on the massive amount of mortgage defaults, the bad loans that have been defaulted on, which were purchased and securitized by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, were the trigger, a significant factor in this crisis. The mortgage-backed securities that have been called “toxic”, bringing the credit markets grinding to a halt, partly because they are so complicated hardly anyone can determine their value, came directly from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

In addition, Obama, before he became president, endorsed the scheme that generated subprime loans, because the theory went that splitting up the mortgages into securities would bring in needed credit to finance affordable housing, and it would spread the risk thinly, so that foreclosures wouldn’t significantly impact the value of mortgage-backed securities.

Further information from Fox News on Democratic opposition to regulating Fannie and Freddie, and McCain’s attempt to regulate them:

Fool me once…er…Fool me twice?

We as a nation seem prepared to elect Democrats to control congress, and the White House. Are we sure we want to do that? It seems to me we are bringing the fox inside the hen house, all because we think that by getting rid of “Bush’s policies” (which McCain will continue, so says Obama) we will fix what got us in this mess. Ask yourselves, are you sure you’re blaming the right culprits, or are the culprits convincingly shifting blame where it doesn’t belong so they can turn your tragedy into their victory? If you feel like a fool now because you got wiped out in this crisis, how are you going to feel after the election? All I’m saying is be careful what you wish for, because you might get more than you bargained for.

I think Fannie Mae started out as a good idea, making housing more affordable to people. It was started during the Great Depression for that purpose. It had a good run of many decades. The problem is it got tweaked with over those years. Increasingly politicians (and it seems Democrats are the more culpable in this) played with fire and flammable substances around it (to use some metaphors), and this year it finally blew up on all of us. The fault is with those who tried to mess with a good thing, and turned it into something that has sickened our economy, and made us all poorer. So I think we should not give up on the idea of financing affordable housing, and we need to properly hold accountable those who stood in the way of fixing what was broken about that system. Does anyone really think that’s going to get addressed in a Democratic administration, and a Democratic congress, given this evidence??? I think not. More likely they’ll make Wall Street the scapegoat and put the economic kibosh on it, killing any chances we’ll get out of this recession in a speedy fashion. And they’ll tell the banks to do more of the risky lending that helped get us into this mess, in the name of helping the poor (of which there are more already).

Wall Street should have been better regulated (they are a part of the problem, but not the only culprit), but not constrained from producing legitimate wealth, which I think it has done over the years very well. The full story on this has not been told yet (and has not been told here, either, just part of it on which I’ve been able to find material). That has yet to unfold, and I think we will know (hopefully) with time.

Truth in comedy

October 5, 2008

SNL – C-SPAN Bailout

Edit 12/2/2014: This is the original skit that ran on SNL, before it was edited by NBC. This skit really stands the test of time. It was biting satire. SNL at its best. This episode illustrates, though, the power that the Left has in media. Within a week of airing this skit, NBC had edited the online version of this video significantly, because of legal threats.

Government approves rescue package

October 3, 2008

The House finally passed a rescue package today, which the President immediately signed. It’s designed to add liquidity to the credit market, which will hopefully help soften the blow of what’s coming for the economy. Every analyst I’ve heard from is in agreement now that we are in recession, and that it will be severe down the road. Cramer said today that we have avoided a depression. That’s the silver lining.

I’ve been watching CNBC a lot lately and I’ve heard estimates that unemployment will probably rise to around 7%. It’s currently at 6.1%. This would make it like the the recession that occurred in the early 1990s. I’ve also heard estimates that we’ve been in a recession for the past 8 months, and that the recession will last for another 8-9 months, which will make it a long one by historical standards. In the past, recessions have lasted a year or less. From what I’ve seen, looking at the historical data, it takes the job market about a year longer to recover than the economy does. So “brace for impact”.