Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Will Obama sprain his elbow patting himself on the back?

President Obama, who gave himself a B+ for his first year in office, a grade which, had it been given out to students at a university with similar accomplishments would have sparked a cheating scandal, patted himself on the back once again by saying his decision on sending troops to Afghanistan proves he knows how to make the hard, but politically unpopular decisions.
What it really proves is that Obama, as always, tries to twist the facts and distort them to suit his own political standing.

Every poll has shown that his decision to send more troops to Afghanistan has been politically popular with over 65% supporting it even though people are not, on the whole, happy that we are there fighting. And why should they be?

What he doesn't say is that he did everything he could to make as politically popular a decision as possible, announcing a troop increase and a troop withdrawal at the same time setting a new world record for duplicity in less than 60 seconds.

That is pure Obama, only this time it went over like a lead drone, with people from both parties criticizing his announced withdrawal date which made him look foolish.

His attempt at trying to explain it fell flat too, saying he wanted to give the Afghans a date so they knew the commitment was not open ended. But Obama could have given Karzai that date privately. His announcing it was for purely domestic political purposes and once again, he hoped people would be dumb enough to accept it, and some were, especially in the press.

But Obama doesn't talk about are the tough decisions he didn't make. He " didn't want to meddle" when the Iranian people revolted against a rigged election and took to the streets. It was the best opportunity the US has had in more than 30 years to affect a regime change by supporting and encouraging the protestors, letting them know the US and the rest of the world supported them and at the same time he could have roundly condemned the Iranian government for their deadly crackdown on the demonstrators.

It was a golden opportunity for Obama and the US to at least make an attempt to destabilize that regime which was teetering. Instead, Obama was the only leader in the West who backed away, saying he " didn't want to meddle".

An opportunity that was lost because of Obama's unwillingness to stand up for what was right, and make a hard decision.

It should be said that now, with more riots on the streets of Iran, he is saying the kinds of things he should have said six months ago, and might have had a bigger impact with hundreds of thousands of protestors on the streets instead of the thousands there are now. Maybe better late than never.

But that might not be true with healthcare reform where, like trying to appease Ahmandinejad six months ago and nothing to show for it, Obama backed off and sold out the public option in order to appease Joe Lieberman at the expense of the wishes of 58 others.

The truth about Obama and making tough political decisions is this: during his entire tenure in the Illinois state senate, Obama voted "present" over 100 times. That means he decided to neither vote for or against a bill, obviously to avoid making any kind of unpopular vote and not having a record someone could run against.

The fact is no one thinks more of Obama than Obama, and like his self graded B+, it is mostly unjustified in terms of real accomplishment. And with failures or tepid successes in areas where real progress and change could have been affected by someone with the courage and moral conviction to achieve them, Obama has fallen well short. And those failures and his self praise seems now to be wearing thin, even among his most ardent supporters.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Are Hillary Clinton supporters murmuring I told you so?

With a new NBC/Wall Street journal poll showing Obama hitting his lowest approval rating in that poll, and the same poll showing that people are getting increasingly fed up with Obama, the Democrats and how both have handled health care,(how they handled it, not rejecting things that are in it, like the public option) those who supported Hillary Clinton for president in the Democratic primaries are starting to say "I told you so".

Obama's had the biggest approval ratings drop of any first year president in history. He has disappointed most of his supporters on the left. And he has accomplished little to nothing in his first year that has showed any concrete results in spite of him giving himself a B+ for his performance in his first year.

What he has done is make more speeches and had more prime time press conferences in his first year than any president has given in their entire first term.

On healthcare reform, most of his supportes are complaining that he sold out and was two faced in his capitulation. Which he was. But these are traits he exhibited not only during his entire 12 years of elected office, but were on glaring display during the Democratic primaries.

Now everyone is angry with him for showing a lack of principle, commitment, experience and expertise and his willingness to sacrifice any principle on a dime, but that's who Obama has always been and he showed it repeatedly during the primaries, whether he was willing to sell out the voters of Florida and Michigan to help himself get elected, or reversing himself on a pledge to use public financing.

Now as Obama's approval ratings continue to hit record lows for a first term president, and he is bringing the Democratic party down with him, as people are getting fed up with his handling of a propositon -- the public option and health care reform -- that 72% supported back in June, many Hillary Clinton supporters are starting to say "we told you so".

More and more of Obama's staunchest supporters, the same people who turned a blind eye to Obama's deep character flaws, lack of experience, and brazen political dishonesty and deceit, are now complaining that he's not what they thought he was, that this isnt change they can believe in. But it never was in the first place. It was clear to anyone who was paying attention, that "change you can believe in" was nothing but a slogan. Because he never did say what kind of change he had in mind.And if you asked a supporter they couldnt tell you either.

Ed Schultz, Arianna Huffington, the people at The Nation, Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone, and Michael Moore are just a few of Obama flag wavers now wavering in their support and scratching their heads saying "what happened"?

The answer is nothing happened. Obama is being the same Obama he always was, the same Obama that was apparent during the Democratic primaries, the same Obama that 18 months ago after listening to a couple of speeches, caused me to write that he was a snake oil salesman and the most underhanded, deceitful politician since Richard Nixon. But the press. who was in Obama's pocket, refused to see it.Or report it.

For those who saw through the phoniness, Obama has been exactly what the majority of Democratic primary voters thought he was. Remember that Hillary Clinton actually received more votes than Obama, and went into the Democratic convention having won the popular vote.

During the primaries Clinton supporters mocked Obama supporters and their beliefs as people who were "drinking the Kool-Aid". Obama supporters accused Clinton supporters, and anyone who opposed Obama's candidacy of being racist. This was the state of the Democratic party courtesy of the candidate who ran on the proposition that he had a unqiue ability to unite people and bring them together. He ran on the fiction that he had some great ability to unite Democrats and Republicans and put an end to partisanship. Which is why every Republican is voting against the health care bill and he hasnt been able to unite any disparate group on anything.

In a recent article in Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi writes, "Obama pulled a bait-and-switch on us. If it were any other politician, we wouldn't be surprised. Maybe it's our fault, for thinking he was different."

Yes it was your fault for not seeing what was right in front of everyone's eyes. The fact that he pulled a bait and switch shouldnt leave anyone surprised. That was the snake oil Obama was selling during the primaries and a lot of people bought it and are now seemingly first finding out it was all just sugar and water.

The reason people are feeling so stung by Obama is that he held himself up to be a different kind of politician, someone above the petty politics and back room deals of Washington. All the while engaging in petty politics and backroom deals. What also makes it particularly insidious is when a snake oil salesman goes into a community that is hurting and tells everyone he has the cure and its right in this here bottle when all along he knows its nothing but a bottle of empty promises. That's called a con. And now a lot of people who should have known better are realizing it.

It was clear during the primaries when Obama constantly reneged on promises and pledges and resorted to serial lying both when it came to Jeremiah Wright, and the incident in Ohio when a document was leaked that caught Obama red handed lying to the people of Ohio about his position on NAFTA. He told the people in Ohio who were hurting economically precisely because of things in NAFTA that if they elected him he'd get rid of NAFTA. At the same time he was caught telling the Candians to ignore what he said in Ohio, that he had no intention of getting rid of NAFTA, that it was all just for politics. if that had happened to any other candiate for president it might have been the end. But the press had an agenda for Obama and they just ignored it.

But If a politician is willing to prey on the misfortunes of people to get votes, raising their hopes, and making promises he knows he has no intention of fullfilling, nothing he does should surprise anyone.

But at the time it was exposed, the same people who are now complaining about Obama betraying them and selling them out, turned a blind eye to what happened in Ohio. If Clinton had been caught doing the same thing the press would have demanded she drop out of the race and would have said she couldnt be trusted.

The fact that Obama was clearly the least qualified candidate for the Democratic nomination, didnt seem to matter to his supporters either. And while he claimed he was the person who knew how to bring people together the Democratic presidential primaries were the most divisive in the history of the party. In his campaign speeches he said "voices must be heard" but he did everything in is power to keep the voices of the voters in Florida and Michigan from being heard because he was landslided in both primaries by Clinton. Instead of fighting for the right to have their votes count on principle, he was quite content to have them silenced in favor of his own ambitions. So why are people surprised now that he sold them out on healthcare reform?

The other big issue that seemed to matter to Obama's supporters was that he was black. So they took everything Martin Luther King stood for and threw it out the window, which was that a person should be judged on the content of their character and not the color of their skin. Many of his supporters, including John Kerry who made no bones about it, decided the color of his skin mattered more.

But while this may come as a shock to them, Obama is not the first black president. He is the first mixed race president, half black and half white. He is no more the country's first black president than Derek Jeter was the Yankees first black shortstop. In all of Jeter's hall of fame career no one ever referred to him that way. But his genetic make up is the same as Obama's. The difference is the random shuffling of genetic material resulted in Jeter having more Caucasian features and a caramel complexion while Obama's features and complexion were more black. So maybe now that they feel betrayed by that too, Either that or maybe ,those who supported him because they wanted a black president will admit Martin Luther King was right the first time.

During the primaries,Obama's selling out promises were rampant. He promised to use public financing if he was the nominee then reneged as soon as became the nominee. He promised to filibuster and vote against the FISA bill if it gave telecoms retroactive immunity then reneged, didnt filibuster and voted for it. And lied, until he couldn't lie any longer about his relationship with Jeremiah Wright and on sending on his economic advisors to the Canadian embassy to tell them to ignore everything he was saying publicly about NAFTA.

This is the person that liberals and Democrats who supported him are now surprised has sold them out when it was apparent that Obama was probably the most underhanded politician since Richard Nixon. The difference between the two is that Nixon used deceit to get even. Obama used it to get ahead. It all goes to character and how that influences decisions. As well as having a vision and sticking up for a principle, something Obama has thrown overboard on healthcare.

So perhaps Hillary Clinton supporters can be excused if they are now saying " We told you so". Because they did.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Obama gave himself a B+ as a grade for his first year in office. No one was surprised that he'd give himself a B+. After all no one thinks more of Obama than Obama himself. But it did leave a lot of people laughing and other's shaking their heads.

What makes it more amusing is that It comes on the heels of Obama admitting in his Nobel speech, that he "probably didnt deserve the peace prize". And there are few who would disagree.
So it mght be understandable that when you receive a Nobel Peace Prize for accomplishing absolutely nothing in the area of peace, not providing even a glimmer of hope or direction, not even an idea, that he somehow he thinks he deserves a B+. for his lack of accomplishments in the first year of his presidency.

After his first 100 days, in CNN's First 100 Days poll, Obama was somewhere around a C- nationally. What was interesting about that poll is that he was a C- consistantly from coast to coast in almost every state. It wasn;t regional, and it didnt break down by party. Everyone thought he deserved a C-. And it has gone downhill from there. So where Obama thinks he deserves a B+ and for what is simply Obama being Obama.

Of course asking Obama to grade himself is like the Queen in Cinderella asking the mirror who is the fairest of them all. In this case Obama is not only doing the asking, he is also the mirror giving the answer.

An objective grading of Obama for his first year is very different. On healthcare Obama gets an F. He's been a disaster in every facet of the health care debate, being completely ineffective in every area you can think of. He spent as much time running and ducking from the criticism of Republicans and town hall crazies as he did supporting health care reform.

He has constantly dumped the public option when the political heat got too hot, then reaffirmed his support for it when congressional Democrats grabbed him by the scruff of the collar and said the public option is a must. Then after, affirming it one day, and dumping it the next, and watching the cycle repeat itself endlessly, Obama, after saying he would never back off the public option, finally said he supported it but could live without it. Now behind the scenes he is urging Harry Reid to capitulate to Joe Lieberman and cut a deal. Why? So that Obama can claim they have a deal by Christmas.

On the entire health care issue, he gave no direction to congress, contributed no ideas, drew no lines in the sand, stood up for nothing, had no convictions, and was equivocal in everything he said and did. And a supposed salesman , he took the public option, something supported by 72% of the people in June, and 58% now, and ran it into the ground, refusing to stand up for it.

He's been useless in trying to get four senate Democrats who opposed the public option to compromise. Instead he is now trying to get the 56 senators who support it to compromise with the 4 who dont.

When Harry Reid created the "opt out" version of the public option, which initially passed the senate, moving it to the floor for debate, Obama tried to take credit for it by trying to claim it was all part of a grand White House "hands off" strategy. Kind of like a rope -a- dope. Only it was more dope than rope. Only the New York Times was gullible enough to swallow that one.

On the economy and jobs, David Obey, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, called the Administration's inflated numbers on jobs creation, "outrageous" , and forced the White House to revise its numbers on jobs created or saved on Obama admitted they made a mistake. And unemployment is over 10%.

People are angry over the way Wall Street seemed to get bailed out with no benefit to average people and then paid themselves huge bonuses as a pat on the back for using tax payer money to get out of the red. Even the Congressional Black Caucus sent Obama a scathing letter calling him on the carpet for his enemic record on jobs and the economy.

On the Israeli-Palestinian front, he has been a non-entity, uniting both the Israelis and Palestinians only in their anger towards him, rejecting almost everything he's said. He angered Israelis with his empty demand that they freeze settlements then angered the Palestinians by backing off when Netanyahu ignored him. And in his Cairo speech he empowered Hamas, a terrorist organization calling for the destruction of Israel, making Abbas' job in uniting the Palestinians that much harder. In fact an argument could be made that Obama has actually caused a set back to the entire peace process.

While Bush remains and always will remain, the most inept, incompetent ,irresponsible, reckless and disaterous president in US history, and nothing Obama will ever do will come close to the damage Bush and the Republicans did to the country for 8 years, for Obama to give his dismal job performance a B+ is not a good sign. It shows that his standards are very low and so is his idea of success. And the way things are now, the county cant take too much more of what Obama thinks is success.

If Obama, when he was a so called professor at Harvard ( I say so called because no one can find a class that he actually taught) gave out grades to students like he gave to himself, he would have been dismissed. He might meet a similar fate in 2012 if he doesnt show vast improvement.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Like with Obama, media slow to turn on Tiger Woods

The media plays favorites. If they like you, you get a different kind of treatment no matter what you do, and the same is true if they don't.

During the Democratic primaries, SNL did a skit satirizing the extent to which the mainstream press was in Obama's pocket, and for the most part the press was pitiful in their coverage of Obama.

Journalist Jonathan Alter actually wrote a piece calling for Hillary Clinton to get out of the race after she landslided Obama in Ohio and Pennsylvania and beat him in Texas. At the time Clinton had landslided Obama in 13 of 15 of the biggest states in the country. The only big state she lost was Obama's home state of Illinois. But Alter said she should get out.

For the first week of the Tiger Woods revelations, the press almost seemed to close ranks behind Woods in the same way.

Yes, the tabloid press has made each new Tiger lady front page news as the number climbed to 9 including two porn stars (it's now 13). But while there's been a lot of reporting, there hasn't been a lot of criticism and it almost seems the media has been more interested in trying to cover for Woods than criticize him.

Donny Deutsche, a man who has his own ad agency and appears regularly on CNBC, was on Larry King a few nights ago actually trying to make the case ( with a straight face) that these revelations would not result in Woods' sponsors leaving him because the scandal made Woods more human and thus enhance his value as a spokesman.

I doubt sincerely that Gillette, a division of Proctor and Gamble is prepared to see their entire Lady Gillette division go down the drain because they think Tiger cheating on his wife with porn stars makes him more human.

An analyst on ESPN, even after the worst had been exposed was still talking about Woods' sponsors staying with him because of what a great golfer he is. The fact that many people and most women look at Woods as, well, a pig, out cheating on his wife with 11 other women while she stayed home with the kids didn't seem to enter his mind.

But that kind of media sympathy could change with the recent 911 call where its apparent that stress over the situation sent Tiger's mother in law to the hospital, although so far that hasnt seemed to dampen media sympathy. An ESPN analyst said on Wednesday he thought all of this would make Woods a better golfer. That's what he said.

As for his sponsors, the only reason there's been no formal announcements regarding Woods being dumped is they just don't want to be drawn into the controversy. Or be seen as piling on. As for playing golf, the source of Woods endorsement deals, given the media circus that would accompany any appearance on a golf course and the ptoential reactions in the galleries, it will be a cold day in August before you see Woods on a golf course again.

The comparisons in media treatment between Woods and Obama are similar, even if the two have avoided criticisms for very different reasons. The media has given Obama a free pass from the Democratic primary through his first year in office, even as he has blundered, proved ineffective in many areas, and has left many of his supporters, and based on the polls, a majority of the country, grumbling. Even so, the press has been largely hands off Obama terms of harsh criticism. The same is true for Woods.

But as approval ratings for both continue to plummet that may change. Because the media always goes where the money is and wants to be seen as being on the side that's most popular. That means Obama's honeymoon could soon be over. It already is for Woods and his wife.. And the press might be next.

UPDATE AS OF 7 p.m. EST: As per my prediction above with regards to Woods not playing golf any time soon, Tiger Woods just issued a statement announcing he is taking an indefinite leave from playing golf. My guess it will be at least one year.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Bishop Thomas Tobin, the bishop who barred Patrick Kennedy from receiving communion said in an interview with CNN that he did so because he just cant understand how a catholic, any catholic, even a legislator, can take the stand on abortion as a legal choice for women that Kennedy has taken.

By saying he "can't understand" how Kennedy could vote contrary to catholic doctrine, it' a tacit admission on the part of bishop Tobin that he either doesn't have any understanding of the establishment clause of the first amendment or he does has no respect for it , and doesnt care, except when the Catholic church is using it to avoid paying taxes.

It is either arrogance or ignorance on the part of Tobin since he shows he has no understanding nor respect for the fact that its Kennedy's obligation is to serve, not Catholics or the church, ( that is Tobin's obligation, not Kennedy's) but the vast majority of his constituents regardless of their individual religious beliefs. And Tobin's admission that he can't understand how Kennedy can justify his position on abortion as a legislator just re-enforces the wisdom of Thomas Jefferson and the founders who wrote the establishment clause to specifically deny the church from having any official influence on the affairs of state.

But Tobin doesn't want to understand this. Or he does and doesnt care. He seems to think its Kennedy's obligation to vote according to church doctrine and he practically said so in so many words.

If this is the official position of the church then they should make it clear to catholic members of congress that they are either to vote according to catholic church doctrine or resign from congress, since, based on Tobin's point of view, no member of congress can or should vote for legislation which the church does not approve.

If the church hierarchy has the courage of their convictions they should issue such a proclimation and then they wont have to wonder how a catholic member of congress could vote for a bill that the church opposes.

The church is certainly free to make such a pronunciation and catholic members of congress are certainly free to make their own decisions as to whether they want to remain in congress and vote according to their constituents wishes or leave if those wishes are in conflict with church doctrine.

But the church cant have it both ways. If they want to lobby for or against legislation ( and they do -- they have a lobbying effort in Washington D.C. staffed with 350 people) then let them renounce the establishment clause and with it their tax exempt status on which their tax exemption is solely based.

On the other hand if church hierarchy like Bishop Tobin wish to keep their tax exempt status it, then let them understand that the same establishment clause they use to keep from paying taxes comes from the same constitution Patrick Kennedy took oath to defend. Then let them decide where they stand.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tiger Woods crash, a crash course in media stupidity

Usually when I write about the media its about the stupid and inept way they cover politics, Obama, and issues affecting the country both foreign and domestic. But the stupidity that the media exhibits shows itself once again with the Tiger Woods story.
The only reason its a story at all is because it's a potential sex scandal, the media's favorite topic. If you remember, like Howard Beale in the movie "Network" Bill Clinton became the first president impeached for higher ratings.

It was beyond obvious that Woods was cheating on his wife which led to a domestic dispute which led to his car accident backing out his driveway and a window bashed in with a golf club that was not used to free an unconscious Woods from the car. And now Woods has come out and admitted the obvious.

Of course what makes the media look so stupid is that they kept asking the question, why wont Tiger talk to the police?

The answer was Tiger wouldnt talk to the police because he knew that anything he told them would be a matter of public record. He and his lawyer also knew that lying to the police or on a police report is a felony. So there was no way he was going to turn an embarrassing situation into a felony and there is no way he wanted anyone to know the truth. But now with a second woman, a 24 year old cocktail waitress who said she had an affair with him and has the text messages to prove it, Woods decided he had no choice and has come clean.

Why the news media couldnt figure this out earlier is important only as it pertains to subjects much more important to the country than Tiger Woods making a hole in one with a nightclub hostess. Its why you cant trust the media when it comes to their reporting on anything, from health care to Afghanistan. And why they should do everyone a favor and stay out of the speculation business because they are lousy at it.

If they couldnt figure out the truth about Tiger Woods 2:25 a.m car accident, they certainly aren't going to have any insight on anything important. So, to paraphrase a line from the poem, "Tiger, tiger burning bright, what stupidity will the news media bring tonight?" The answer is, anything they put on the air..

The story of Woods' affair was broken by the National Enquirer. They may not deal in "news you can use" but unlike the New York Times, CNN,and Fox News, the Enquirer, believe it or not, has proved to be the most reliable of all major national news organizations. Their accuracy rate is the best of any national news organization. They almost never get it wrong. And they virtually never print anything unless they know its true ( remember Jennifer Flowers?) And its been proved once again.

Chances are, Rachel Uchitel, meaning no harm to Woods, shot her mouth off to someone about her affair with Woods, and her confidant either told someone else who sold the story to the Enquirer or did it themselves. But the Enquirer would not have run with the story, not when it involves someone whose image is as squeaky clean as Tiger Woods, unless they had enough to back it up.

It didnt take Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein to figure out what the Woods crash was really all about.. But as a professor of journalism once pointed out, a scandal isnt a scandal unless the news media wants to make it one. And in Tiger Woods case that is probably a decision being made right now by news directors behind closed doors.