Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

Incompetent Dishonesty from the White House

Posted: Tuesday, October 12, 2010 at 10:26 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
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Wile-E-CoyoteNow is the time. History has fashioned the frame for a spectacular unforced error.  The man and the moment have met.

What is remarkable about the Administration’s current campaign against the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (and Republicans in general) is not how dishonest it is.  One expects that by now.  What is remarkable is how transparently incompetent it is.

The President made a barely veiled accusation against the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  From the New York Times:

“Just this week, we learned that one of the largest groups paying for these ads regularly takes in money from foreign corporations,” Mr. Obama said. “So groups that receive foreign money are spending huge sums to influence American elections.”

This is textbook weasel talk.  Both of the statements are true, but they are clearly intended to make a false insinuation: huge sums of money from foreign sources are being spent to influence American elections.

The charge was made more explicitly in an ad produced by the Democratic National Committee and released over the weekend.  You can view the ad at FactCheck.Org.  Here is a transcript of the narration:

Karl Rove, Ed Gillespie: They’re Bush cronies. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce: They’re shills for big business. And they’re stealing our democracy. Spending millions from secret donors to elect Republicans to do their bidding in Congress. It appears they’ve even taken secret foreign money to influence our elections. It’s incredible: Republicans benefiting from secret foreign money. Tell the Bush crowd and the Chamber of Commerce: Stop stealing our democracy.

The President himself backed off of the charge in recent days, but Vice President in charge of calumny, Joe Biden, has kept at it.

What are the merits of the charge?  FactCheck subtitles its entry: “Democrats peddle an unproven claim.”  Here is FactCheck’s first paragraph:

Democrats, from President Barack Obama on down, are trying to turn an evidence-free allegation into a major campaign theme, claiming that foreign corporations are “stealing our democracy” with secret, illegal contributions funneled through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It’s a claim with little basis in fact.

The New York Times got there first:

A closer examination shows that there is little evidence that what the chamber does in collecting overseas dues is improper or even unusual, according to both liberal and conservative election-law lawyers and campaign finance documents.

The Associated Press agrees:

The Obama administration and its allies are going all out against the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and GOP-leaning groups, accusing them of using foreign money to help finance political ads. Trouble is, they’re providing no evidence.

ABC News comes to the same conclusion:

While Obama is trying to tie Republicans and some of their backers to the specter of foreign interference in U.S. elections, an examination of the evidence provides little support for the claims.

Again, what is remarkable about the Administration’s strategy is not that it dishonest, but that it is so blatantly and incompetently dishonest that three major news outlets and FactCheck were compelled to expose the Administration’s charge for the lie it was.

This makes sense of an astonishing paragraph in Mark Halperin’s recent piece in Time:

With the exception of core Obama Administration loyalists, most politically engaged elites have reached the same conclusions: the White House is in over its head, isolated, insular, arrogant and clueless about how to get along with or persuade members of Congress, the media, the business community or working-class voters.

As Halperin puts it, the President is caught in a vise.  According to a Los Angeles Times poll, half of the people who once supported the President don’t support him anymore.  Of course, that includes people who reject the President because he hasn’t gone far enough to the left for their tastes.  An incompetent attack on Republicans will not please anyone on the right or left.  It is not just the voters, however, but the political and media elites who have lost confidence in Barack Obama.

For an explanation of the President’s woes, see my previous post.

Noem Backs Obama-Pelosi on Medicare Fraud

Posted: Monday, October 11, 2010 at 7:53 am
By: Cory Allen Heidelberger
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Kristi Noem has updated her issues page, piling some new blurbs about her support for social programs at the top of her GOP talking points. Among the substanceless, specifics-less suggestions, Noem opines that we must “work harder” to curb fraud and abuse in Medicare.

Isn’t that exactly what President Barack Obama is doing?

  1. President Obama is spending $9 million to educate old folks to prevent fight Medicare fraud. (Hey! Where’s South Dakota’s piece of that pie?)
  2. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will adopt new billing software that will catch fraud before the money leaves Uncle Sam’s cash box. The software, much like what credit card companies use to protect you from unusual activity on your Mastercard, could save over $20 billion a year. This anti-fraud measure was part of the Small Business Lending Act, sponsored by Democrat Barney Frank, voted for by Democrat Nancy Pelosi, and signed into law by Democrat and President Barack Obama. Remarkably Democrat Stephanie Herseth Sandlin voted against this bill, along with Senator Thune and most Republicans.
  3. President Obama’s AG Holder and HHS Sec. Sebelius announced the Medicare Fraud Strike Force’s biggest bust yet this summer when they announced charges against 94 tricky docs and other Medicare swindlers.
  4. CMS is proposing a rule to classify Medicare providers by risk, do background checks and fingerprinting on the high-risk group, and suspend payment to providers upon credible allegation of fraud. But that rule proposal comes from President Obama’s health care reform law, so surely Noem wants to repeal that anti-fraud effort.
  5. President Obama also signed the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act last July to fight fraud against all government agencies, including Medicare. Herseth Sandlin got with the program and voted with Pelosi on this one… as did everyone else in Congress.

“Work harder” to fight Medicare fraud, Mrs. Noem? Sounds like President Obama is already at least five policy steps ahead of you.
Bonus Health Care Refudiation: Perhaps Noem could work harder to stop scaring seniors. The Kaiser Family Foundation’s September 2010 Health Tracking Poll finds 30% of senior citizens still think the new law includes “a government panel to make decisions about end‐of‐life care for people on Medicare”—i.e., Sarah Palin’s death panels. Health care reform includes no death panels. Senator Charles Grassley said solast year.

Obama Admin: Govt Shrinks to 5-Decade Low

Posted: Saturday, October 2, 2010 at 6:57 am
By: Cory Allen Heidelberger
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Hat tip to Ned Hodgman at Understanding Government!

The Tea Party and Kristi Noem are imagining things. Noem recites the standard GOP slogans about how government is getting too big.

However, the plain truth is that President Barack Obama currently manages an Executive Branch workforce that makes up the smallest fraction of the U.S. population in the last 50 years.

Federal Government Employment Levels Through the Years (including the U.S. Postal Service)

Executive Branch civilians Total U.S. population Executive Branch employees per 1,000 population
1962 (Kennedy) 2.48 million 186.5 million 13.3
1964 (Johnson) 2.47 million 191.8 million 12.9
1970 (Nixon) 2.94 million* 205 million 14.4
2.84 million 215.9 million 13.2
1978 (Carter) 2.87 million 222.5 million 12.9
1982 (Reagan) 2.77 million 232.1 million 11.9
1990 (Bush) 3.06 million* 249.6 million 12.3
1994 (Clinton) 2.9 million 263.1 million 11.1
2002 (Bush) 2.63 million 287.8 million 9.1
2010 (Obama) 2.65 million+ 310.3 million+ 8.4+

SOURCE: Office of Management and Budget, via Washington Post. *= Figure includes temporary Census Bureau workers. += Estimates by OMB and U.S. Census Bureau.

The Executive Branch currently has 2.65 million employees. That’s only a 20K increase from George W. Bush’s 2002 Executive Branch workforce. That’s less than the 2.77 million who worked for Saint Ronald in 1982.

And President Obama’s 8.4 Executive Branch workers per 1000 citizens is the smallest proportion on the modern chart. Under Obama, it’s easier than ever for us to surround them.

But hey, why let facts stand in the way of a fun party? (By the way, still no commitment from Noem to appear with fellow radical conservative Ted Nugent to thrill her teabagger fans.)

“Birther” propaganda and friend of South Dakotan

Posted: Saturday, May 15, 2010 at 5:24 pm
By: Doug Wiken
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Mitchell Daily Republic Saturday-Sunday, May 15-16, 2010 front page has an interesting story about a friend of a South Dakota woman who was living in Hawaii at the same time Obama’s mother was. They  gave birth apparently within minutes or hours of each other.

“My daughters’ birth certificates were 10637 and 10638, and Obama’s was 10641, so his mother must have come in after I did,” Nordyke said, though she never met Obama’s mother.

Nordkye said she doesn’t know who Obama’s mother’s doctor was, but only five obstetricians were at the hospital at the time, she said. Birthers have complained that the name of the attending physician is being hidden.

For about six years, Nordyke’s daughters attended school with Obama at the Punahou School, a school of about 4,000 geared for the college-bound, which Nordyke called “the best school in Hawaii.”

The full story will be here for a day or two:

It indicates that the Hawaiian “long form birth certificate” is only available to family members. Mrs. Nordyke’s husband was a doctor at the hospital where Obama was born.

She recalls that Obama’s birth notice was published several days before her daughters’ notice, even though Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, was admitted to Kapiolani Hospital after Nordyke entered the hospital. Obama was born on a Friday, and the Nordyke twins were born on a Saturday, she said.

Nordyke’s late husband, Dr. Robert Nordyke, was an internal medicine specialist at Honolulu’s Straub Clinic.

Mrs. Eleanor Nordyke is now around 82, but she and her daughter appear to have little but contempt for the lunacy of the so-called birthers and she believes the instigators  keep the pot boiling only because it can be used to generate money for right wing causes at the expense of the gullible.

** Stay tuned for more conspiracy theories from the right wing peanut brain gallery– Doug Wiken

While Chunks of S.D. Were Dark & Cold, Haiti, Barack & The Rest of the World Shrugged

Posted: Friday, February 5, 2010 at 12:18 am
By: Todd Epp
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Many of the victims are poor, brown, and isolated.

Welcome to Cheyenne River ReservationImage by J. Stephen Conn via Flickr

They have been displaced from their homes by a natural disaster.  Many are living in crowded, temporary facilities.  They are without reliable electricity and running water.

Yet, the world has not responded.  No airlifts.  No Anderson Cooper 24/7.  No worldwide telethons to raise funds.

Were you thinking Haiti after the January 12, 2010 earthquake?  You would be wrong.  It is the aftermath of the winter ice, snow, and wind storm that hit central and northwest South Dakota that started January 22, 2010.

While the American military was busy helping Haitians, there was no Air Force or Army help to the Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Indian Reservations and non-reservation areas.  Fortunately, the South Dakota Army National Guard has provided much needed aid and assistance.  But again, it is South Dakotans (and North Dakotans) helping fellow Dakotans.

south-dakota-mapImage by Melody Kramer via Flickr

Only the Indian Tribes and the rural electrical cooperatives and some crews from outside the state trying to restore power and drinking water to thousands of Native Americans and white ranchers and farmers. Federal help to the cooperatives remains weeks away.

Where’s Anderson Cooper in this stylish black t-shirts begging for the US to help Isabel or La Plant or Eagle Butte so they have power and water?  Is it too cold in South Dakota, Anderson, to show off your buff pecs to an international audience?

Anderson Cooper at Qualcomm Stadium during the...Image via Wikipedia

No Doctors Without Borders.  No Yele Haiti. No European Union troops or bureaucrats.  No Haitians.

Hell, our own government run by my Man Crush, Pres. Barack Obama, doesn’t seem to care.  Obama won’t let Haiti down.  But what about South Dakotans, particularly Native Americans, who have been crapped on by their government for a couple of centuries?  What, no sense of obligation Barack?

A KELOLAND-TV report said that one rural electric coop alone had 10,000 downed power poles. It will take over a year to get things back to normal electricity-wise.  (While all of the USA‘s mainstream media have ignored the story as has most of the state’s media, KELOLAND has done a terrific job covering this story and keeping it before the public.)

The rural electric cooperatives and their employees are absolute heroes in this disaster.  They are working ’round the clock to restore power.  They aren’t big or rich organizations to begin with that try to provide power to a few users over vast reaches of country.  Not far behind are the water district folks struggling to provide water.  And the tribal governments, which aren’t exactly sitting in fat city, are doing all they can.

Families have been crammed in shelters for weeks waiting to return home to houses with lights and water.  Their lives have been disrupted beyond what most of us can imagine.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI - JANUARY 21:  In this h...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Yet the world doesn’t care.  The federal government doesn’t care.

And there’s a lot of winter left.  Winter in South Dakota ain’t no picnic.

It’s a good thing South Dakota’s cowboys and Indians can take care of themselves.  If they waited around like the apparently hapless Haitians and their utterly incompetent government for someone else to bail them out, they’d be sitting in the dark well into 2012.

But hey, Barack and the rest of the world, a little help here in SoDak would be nice–if you think you could think about something other than Haiti for just a moment.

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Baraq’s First SOTU: Seriously Flawed at Best

Posted: Friday, January 29, 2010 at 11:04 am
By: RadioActive Chief
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Well, Baraq Hussein’s first State of the Union is wrapped up and in the can for what it’s worth. (Not much, IMHO.)

Firstly, Herr Doktor Professor Baraq Hussein would have gotten a serious downgrade in MY class for screwing up a fundamental reference, that one could venture to say is symptomatic of a deep lack of respect for the fundamental principles of the founding of the American Republic:

“We find unity in our incredible diversity, drawing on the promise enshrined in our Constitution, the notion that we’re all created equal…”

First off, downgrading what is the one of the fundamentally unique principles of our Republic to a mere “notion”…words fail. Also…checking my trusty pocket reference copy of the Constitution and Declaraction of Independence indicates that said reference is NOT “enshrined in our Constitution”…but IS found in the Declaration, in close and immediate context of “…they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…”

Key concept there: Our equality, and our “unalienable rights” are NOT granted by any act of man, even the Constitution! They are directly bestowed as a part of the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God”. Once that relationship is disestablished nothing is left except ultimately as Mao stated and one of B.O.’s appointed “czars” (and how American is THAT title!?) reiterated “Political power comes out of the barrel of a gun”, or the other one who stated that if they couldn’t prevail “by means of the power of persuasion, then they would use the persuasion of power.”

Otherwise, some additional highlights of the less-than-edifying experience:

FACT CHECK: Obama and a toothless commission

There were also OTHER notable instances of B.O. playing fast and loose with reality:

President Barack Obama told Americans the bipartisan deficit commission he will appoint won’t just be “one of those Washington gimmicks.” Left unspoken in that assurance was the fact that the commission won’t have any teeth.

Obama confronted some tough realities in his State of the Union speech Wednesday night, chief among them that Americans are continuing to lose their health insurance as Congress struggles to pass an overhaul.

Yet some of his ideas for moving ahead skirted the complex political circumstances standing in his way.

Go to the original piece for all the gory details…it’s a reminder of the old Warren Zevon lyric: “It ain’t that pretty at all!”

Another historic aspect of the SOTU is the dissing of the Supremes, and for that matter of Congress at the same time. The congressional part of this is here:

…the cost of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will continue to skyrocket. That’s why I’ve called for a bipartisan fiscal commission, modeled on a proposal by Republican Judd Gregg and Democrat Kent Conrad. (Applause.) This can’t be one of those Washington gimmicks that lets us pretend we solved a problem. The commission will have to provide a specific set of solutions by a certain deadline.
Now, yesterday, the Senate blocked a bill that would have created this commission. So I’ll issue an executive order that will allow us to go forward…[emphasis added]

Without getting into the argument about this idea for a budgetary fig-leaf, the stated relationship here can be summarized as “I don’t need no steenking Congress, I’ll just do what I want by proclamation regardless of the vote of the people’s representatives.”

As far as the Supremes go, they were verbally flogged in an unprecedented display of inter-branch criticism reminiscent of some of the worst of FDR, but PERHAPS not as egregious as Jackson’s refusal to abide by the Marshall court’s decision on the Cherokee removal.

At least Justice Alito wasn’t buying B.O.’s mis-statements:
Justice Alito mouths ‘not true’

POLITICO’s Kasie Hunt, who was in the House chamber, reports that Justice Samuel Alito mouthed the words “not true” when President Barack Obama criticized the Supreme Court’s campaign finance decision.

“Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections,” Obama said. “Well I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people, and that’s why I’m urging Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to right this wrong.”

So what was wrong? Approx. a century ago corporations were banned from making direct contributions to candidates for election funds. This was not addressed, nor affected by the current ruling. Also, foreign corporations are STILL banned from involvement in U.S. political campaigns (although admittedly the presence of Chinese money in Bubba Clinton’s and B.O.’s fundraising was noteworthy as cases of sometimes intercepted interventions.)
Result? Read on:
Supreme Court Historian: After President’s “Insult,” Won’t Be Surprised If Supreme Court Doesn’t Attend Next Year’s State of the Union Address

A noted Supreme Court historian who “enthusiastically” voted for President Obama in November 2008 today called President Obama’s criticism of the Supreme Court in his State of the Union address last night “really unusual” and said he wouldn’t be surprised if no Supreme Court Justices attend the speech next year.

“It was really unusual in my mind to see the president going after the Supreme Court in such a forum,” said author and Law Professor Lucas Powe, the Anne Green Regents Chair in Law, and a Professor of Government at the University of Texas-Austin School of Law. “I’m willing to bet a lot of money there will be no Supreme Court justice at the next State of the Union speech.”

Added Professor Powe, who clerked for Supreme Court Justice William Douglas, “you don’t go to be insulted. I can’t see the Justices wanting to be there and be insulted by the president.”

But this is just a negative reaction from a myrmidon of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, right?…er…not this time:

His opinion has nothing to do with animus towards the President, for whom Powe said he voted enthusiastically.

Chief’s overall grading: D-minus  for content.

I won’t even approach what I actually thought of the delivery except to ask if you can pronounce a-r-r-o-g-a-n-t.  ’nuff said.

President Obama: Promises Made, Promises Kept

Posted: Friday, January 15, 2010 at 9:20 am
By: Todd Epp
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Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama...

My Man Crush, President Barack Obama, has not only had one of the fullest agendas since President Lyndon Johnson, he’s also kept or on the path to keeping an extraordinary number of his 500+ campaign promises in his first year in office.

My national political reporter buddy Lou Jacobson at PolitiFact alerted me to a project he and other journalists have been working on to document Obama’s first year in office and to measure what Obama promised and what he’s delivered.

An excerpt from the Polifact story:

Of 502 campaign promises, a PolitiFact analysis finds Obama has fulfilled 91 and achieved at least partial success with another 33. More than half of his promises have had enough progress to be rated In the Works.

He’s put much of his foreign policy agenda into action, taken steps to reduce the American presence in Iraq and send more troops to Afghanistan, and his sweeping health care reform plan is on the brink of passage. The giant economic stimulus bill that passed in February made good on a host of promises on green energy, education and transportation.

Some things have been put on a back burner and the move toward transparency has been a disappointment.

For the full wonky analysis, click here.

But all in all, we have a President who is doing what he said he would do.

Good Riddance, Aughts! The 10 Best/Worst Of The 2000s

Posted: Wednesday, December 30, 2009 at 3:18 pm
By: Todd Epp
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Like we all need another “End of Decade” list.  But here goes.

What were the best and worst things, people, events, items of the now nearly completed Aughts?  Here are my picks:

Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama...

The 10 Best of the 2000s

  1. The election Barack Obama as President
  2. iPods
  3. DVRs
  4. Cell phones (smartphones) that do everything like the iPhone and Blackberry
  5. Tom Brady‘s quarterback play
  6. Blogging/bloggers
    Tom Brady

    Image via Wikipedia

  7. The New England Patriots
  8. Tiger Woods golf play
  9. 24/7 news and information
  10. The Sopranos

10 Worst of the 2000s

    George W. Bush

    George W. Bush via

  1. George W. Bush‘s stealing of the 2000 election
  2. 911 attacks
  3. Hurricane Katrina and aftermath
  4. The 2008-0 economic crash (Thank you greedy bankers and insurance companies and GWB! Not!)
  5. Loss of civil liberties post 911
  6. Smartphones that never let you get away from work
  7. New England Patriots Spygate
  8. Blogging/bloggers
  9. Tiger Woods’ inability to keep his wood in his pants
  10. American Idol

Don’t agree?  Add your own in the comments.

Happy 2010 and good riddance, Aughts!

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The Obama dilemma

Posted: Monday, December 21, 2009 at 4:10 pm
By: David Newquist
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In the frenzy between attempts to pass health care reform and to destroy it, no one seems to be asking what happens if no reform is passed.   That question seems to be in the minds of the White House, but no one has flat-out addressed it.

Part of  the problem is that Obama finds himself cornered by trying to be considerate and nice.  He won the nomination as Democratic candidate because he refused to engage in the ad hominem tactics that caused people to side against and defect from Hillary Clinton.  As the Democratic candidate, he steadfastly stayed above the cheap defamation and false accusations that came from the McCain-Palin campaign.  The mindless yawp of Sarah Palin was a major factor in Obama’s margin of victory.  Obama’s articulateness and intelligent bearing offered a dramatic relief from the dull incompetence and deception that created a huge intellectual gap between the red and  blue factions during the previous eight years.

Obama projected a promise to lift politics out of the blogger level of endemic malice and petty resentments that are rooted more deeply in infantile egotism and the hubris of ignorance than in any coherent political positions based on facts.  Obama’s supporters were so buoyed by the optimism of returning to intelligent dialogues befitting the democracy envisioned by the founders that they neglected to assess the motives of their opposition and their intensity.

Obama’s promise was:

  • to extract the U.S. from its futile waste of life and taxes in Iraq and to put the nation on a course toward a constructive solution in Afghanistan;
  • to end the demolishing of American policies of decency represented by water boarding and other extreme measures and the threat to American standards of justice represented by  Abu Ghraig and Guantanamo;
  • to end the rapid dissolution of the economy and rescue a financial system that had become totally driven by greed and predation;
  • to deal with the mounting costs and inaccessibility for many of health care.

There are other hopes, of course, but these are the top ones.  Health care  receives emphasis because it is consuming family budgets at a an alarming rate and is projected to continue.  In 2005, a Harvard Medical School study found that 60 percent of the bankruptcies filed in the U.S. were triggered by medical bills.  A 2007 study confirmed that figure and indicated it is rising.

While one can Google for refutations of those studies, none of the denials are based upon actual criticisms of the study protocols.  In other words, there are denials of the figures, but no valid critiques which examine the actual numbers cited.

There is also a loud denial of the 47 million people who do not have health insurance and the number who are underinsured. It has become customary among the Republican misanthropes to dismiss this by saying such things as these people chose automobiles or other frivolities over health care.  The demographics  and the magnitude of the number indicate the absurd falseness of this dismissal, but the stance reveals the moral dimension of the reform opposition.  The opposition has chosen to bare its soul and put on a display of ill will that resides deep in the reptilian cortex.

The Republicans claim they have plans to reform health care, but no such plans were reported in the congressional committees that dealt with health care bills.  What has been expressed most loudly and consistently is the desire to demean and destroy any plans that come from the Democrats.

The tea party movement was motivated by a supposed opposition to aspects of reform, but the dominant message was one of racist  belligerence.  The signs and slogans which contained false accusations and openly racist insults showed the nation that racial hatred is still a driving force in American politics.  While some tea party celebrants insisted that their participation was based upon earnest opposition to policy, they made no attempt to disassociate themselves from those who came with AK-47s and signs depicting Obama as a witch doctor.  In fact, they generally defended the right of racist belligerents to express themselves.  But they resented the right of observers to  conclude that their protests were grounded in plain, old-fashioned racial malice, not in any knowledge of what health care reform actually proposes.  And the progressives’ notion that the election of Obama signaled a post-racial era is now recognized as a hopeful silliness.

If no health care reform is passed or if it is so watered-down that it doesn’t extend coverage and reduce costs,  this episode will be a triumph for those who contend that people who do not have the wherewithal to have health care coverage are undeserving of it.  The term “fascist” has been used to so much in the right wing sound and fury that it has lost its meaning.  But real fascism advances the belief in  designating an underclass as inferior and, therefore, qualifying for denial of humane consideration.  That designation has been made stridently by the right wing.  People who for all the various reasons do not have health care coverage or for whom it is inadequate deserve, in the minds of the Becks and Limbaughs who speak for the right wing, all the pestilence that can be heaped on them.  Racial hatred is the paradigm for health care protest.  Mitch McConnell standing before the Senate vowing to block any health care reform is the reincarnation of Orville  Faubus blocking black students from entering the Little Rock high school.  The  main difference is that the hatred has  expanded to encompass anyone of any race who is designated by Beck and Limbaugh as liberal.  It is about the right wing obsession with exclusion as its fundamental political motive.

Obama has extended the hand of civility and friendship to the right wing.  It has consistently been spurned and even slapped down with vehement fury.   His pledge to restore intelligence, comity, and basic respect to the governing processes has exposed him to all the denigration, obstruction, and destruction that his opponents can dream up.  His dilemma is that being nice has greatly impeded his agenda, and his supporters think it is time to get on with business–the rage, the obstruction, and petulance of Republicans be damned.

Howard Dean has commented that if the Republicans were in the majority and were promoting health care reform, it would be done by now.  They extract jack-boot discipline from their party members, and they are not  concerned about decency, unless it can be used a pretext for their outbursts of phony outrage.

No matter what Obama does, he will lose support, as he has been.  People are impatient for results.  Progressives think he should have used the economic crisis as the chance to purge those responsible for America’s failures–the auto industry, the financial industry, the war mongers.  Moderates realized that a summary disposal of the misperforming factions would make the Great Depression look like a minor discomfort in comparison. The country would have to go through economic hell while it tried to rebuild its financial and industrial infrastructure.

Similarly, on the other fronts, Obama chose to work as much as possible with the people who were in place in the military, in the intelligence agencies, and in health care.  Progressives think doing so was a mistake.  Moderates are wary of any consideration given to those who begged for bailout money, then moaned and whined at conditions put on it–and later rebuffed Obama’s attempts to get them to reform their practices.  The ridiculous bonuses to those who almost brought the country down are a case in point.

But health care is the focal  point.  If nothing is changed or the changes are inadequate, what will those who voted for it do?  The flagging approval ratings give a hint.  Obama seemed like the last best hope to restore American democracy.  While the right wing rails about what Obama is doing to America, the America they treasure was the America of military belligerence, unconscionable deceptions of the people, special privileges for an overclass, and a version of patriotism that was carefully modeled on obedience to the fascist precepts it followed.  This is what the right wing wants restored, and the left wing wants to move away from.

The  political divide is made for civil war.  As the polarity between the left and right wings increases, the differences become irreconcilable.  As a former colleague in political science put it when asked to be on a discussion panel, it is hard enough to be on the same planet with some of these people, let alone in the same room.

It would be a serious error to read the flagging poll ratings of Obama as a loss of faith in him alone.  The disapproval ratings of the political parties must be pulled into the context.  The loss of faith is in America.  It is simply dysfunctional.

What happens in health care is the touch stone.  If nothing happens, the left wing will not wait another 15 years.  While the Republicans seem able to exert control over their minions, the Democrats are not so tractable.  The poll numbers and the more reasoned commentators identify dysfunction in government as the reason behind the declining approval ratings.  And only one political party can claim unequivocal sponsorship of the  dysfunction.

Since the election of 2004, a number of friends left South Dakota because of what they regarded as an unhealthy political climate.  The restlessness that drove the pioneers and early settlers from one state to another is not dead.  Just as our children accept the fact that there is little in the state that can satisfy their ambitions and aspirations, they question whether the America that can be dominated by perverse hatefulness is a place worth bothering much about.  I also hear this from contemporaries who have been politically active in the past, but who now regard voting as a joke.  The government has become incapable of registering what they voted for.  And they point to the election of 2000 as the ultimate desecration of the ballot box.

America is not too big to fail.  Many doubt that it has the intellectual acuity or the moral substance to rescue itself.  Obama’s biggest dilemma is the doubt that possesses some of his strongest supporters. They are carefully watching what happens with health care reform. And whether there is much to hope for in America anymore.

So If Chris Nelson Is Pandering By Wearing A Yarmulke, What About President Obama?

Posted: Thursday, December 17, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Todd Epp
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Obama YarmulkeYarmulkegate is now in its third day, with Badlands Blue issuing a non-apology apology about their original comments about Republican SOS Chris Nelson doning a yarmulke at a menorah lighting ceremony at the state Capitol rotunda.

They also complain about my young Republican friend PP at the War College “outing” their true identities which, it appears, were easy enough to find.

Perhaps I’ll have a future post on anonymous blogging, which I think is about as chicken-caca as anonymous commenting.

But I digress.

The point is that while my Democratic colleagues over at Blue berate Republican Congressional candidate Nelson for “pandering” by wearing a yarmulke at a Jewish religious event, my own beloved Man Crush, President Barack Obama, who I think the world of, is seen above in a photo at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Israel wearing, um, er, a kippah or yarmulke. US009_MCCAIN

So, was Barack pandering too? I don’t think so. I think he, like Nelson, was showing respect and appreciation for a religion not his own.

(The photo is undated so I don’t know if President Obama was there as a U.S. Senator or before that as a state legislator or whatever.)

Google your favorite national male politician’s name  and yarmulke and you’ll get lots of other similar, bipartisan kippah wearing photos.

And gee, here’s a photo with Republican Presidential candidate John McCain–and a kippah! He must be pandering too!

obama-kah2Then there is this gem–a Jewish Obama supporter came up with an “Obama-kah”–a kippah with the Obama campaign logo on it.

According to the blog Jews for Obama, it was an instant favorite and sold out.

Friends, politics and religion is a dangerous mix. Particularly when South Dakotans who don’ know much about other religions try to make partisan hay out of yarmulkes.

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