Archive for politics

Unflattering Politician Photo of the Week

What About the Children?! Edition

Jim Greer
Keep the kids home from school! Lock your doors! Write your congressman! We have to protect our children! No, not from swine flu — from the president!

Jim Greer, chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, wins the prize this week as either Right Wing Wingnut in Chief or Best Exploiter of Feigned Outrage for Short-Term Political Gain. Either way, his and others attempts to block President Barack Obama’s planned back-to-school speech to kids next week hits a new low in cynical crapitude.

Here is Greer’s press release, issued earlier this week:

As the father of four children, I am absolutely appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama’s socialist ideology. The idea that school children across our nation will be forced to watch the President justify his plans for government-run health care, banks, and automobile companies, increasing taxes on those who create jobs, and racking up more debt than any other President, is not only infuriating, but goes against beliefs of the majority of Americans, while bypassing American parents through an invasive abuse of power. …

President Obama and the Democrats wouldn’t dream of allowing prayer in school. Christmas Parties are now Holiday Parties. But, the Democrats have no problem going against the majority of American people and usurping the rights of parents by sending Pied Piper Obama into the American classroom.

I’m kinda at a loss here.


Unflattering Politician Photo of the Week

Take a Chill Pill (If You Can Afford One) Edition

Barack Obama

Jesus Christ, are you kidding me with these friggin idiots?! Just stab me in the ear with a ballpoint, it will hurt less.

Many of the same hardened corps of nutballs who are convinced that President Obama is a Kenyan-born Muslim are now bringing their special brand of crazy to a town hall near you. The subject: health care reform. Or as some would have it: the end of Truth, Justice, and the American Way.

When Obama has to begin his health care speeches by reassuring the more shout-y elements of the audience that he is not in favor of allowing their grandmas to die slowly, you get a sense of how far out of hand this debate has gotten.

It’s getting embarrassing, man. The rest of the world doesn’t have this problem. The rest of the world doesn’t think that making sure everybody can go to the doctor without worrying about how much it will cost is a sign of the oncoming Rapture. And they watch our news! What they must think of us?!


Unflattering Politician Photo of the Week

“Where’s She Going? I Dunno, Alaska” Edition

Sarah Palin

“See ya … wouldn’t wanna be ya!”

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is now just Sarah Plain and Tall, after leaving office this week for … well, no one’s really sure.

In her farewell speech, Palin said:

It is because I love Alaska this much that I feel it is my duty to avoid the unproductive, typical, politics as usual, lame duck session in one’s last year in office. How does that benefit you? No, with this decision now, I will be able to fight even harder for you, for what is right, for truth. And I have never felt like you need a title to do that.

So, it’s her duty to avoid her last year in office. She’s doing this to benefit us. And for once, I think she’s right.

Now, for someone who says she wants The Media to leave her alone, it would be kinda great if she just went away.

William Shatner attempts to make some sense of Sarah Palin’s farewell poem, … I mean speech.


Unflattering Politician Photo of the Week

Facing His Waterloo Edition

Jim Demint in healthcare ad

If we’re able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.”

Sen. Jim DeMint, Republican of South Carolina, was caught in the accidental act of telling the truth this week, when he took an issue that affects all Americans — their access to affordable heathcare — and reduced it to an act of political one-upsmanship.

It seems Sen. DeMint doesn’t care whether or not President Obama’s plan will help address the problem of the uninsured or reform a system that rewards insurance companies and hospitals at the expense of doctors and patients. He just wants to stick it to the president, like the patriotic American he is.

Interesting stat I heard today: five out of six Americans have health insurance. And three out of four of those are satisfied (if not happy) with that health insurance. Some in Washington take this to mean that Americans don’t really care about healthcare reform.

Ya know the stat I’d like to see? I’d like to know how many Americans have a horror story — or, if not a horror story, a story of major inconvenience — about their experiences with their health insurance company? How many have waded through forms and phone calls, endured clerical errors, been denied a claim, etc., because or the vagaries of their health insurance provider?

Having lived in Scotland for a time, I just wish we could have a system like other civilized countries. You know – one where people don’t go bankrupt because they’ve been diagnosed with cancer or because their husband was hit by a motorcycle. Must be nice.

How the other half (and by “half” I mean “just about every other Western democracy”) lives.


The Goddess Kinda Watches the President’s Press Conference
(so you don’t have to)

As President Obama strides to the podium for tonight’s press conference, I notice he doesn’t really have what I’ve come to think of as a presidential walk. He’s so cool and casual: none of that stiff arms, cowboy frog march we got from President Bush. 

President Obama has a few good moments during the news conference. My favorite was the response to a CNN reporter who asked him why it took him several days to “express his outrage” over the AIG salary bonuses. Note that he didn’t ask why the loop hole was written into the stimulus package in the first place. All this douchebag wanted to know was, “where was the outrage?!” 

“It took me a couple days,” said Obama,  ”because I like to know what I’m talking about before I speak.” In your FACE, cable news man!

If I’m honest though, despite my best intentions to keep on top of all this stuff I have to admit that I’ve already lost track of all the programs the Obama administration has passed or proposed, and his presidency is only 65 days old. So far, we’ve had:

  • The original Toxic Asset Relief Act: $700 billion
    passed during the Bush Administration to infuse capitol onto banks’ balance sheets
  • The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also known as the stimulus bill: $787 billion
    includes tax cuts, infrastructure spending, Medicaid spending, etc.  
  • The budget: $3.5 trillion
    Obama’s top priorities are: health care, energy, education, deficit reduction
  • The financial sector bailout: $1 trillion
    the plan announced by Tim Geithner to create a public-private partnership to buy troubled assets from banks; separate from TARP program 
  • The auto sector bailout: $22 billion in government loans already accepted with a request for another $22 billion on tap
  • The AIG bailout: $170 billion in loans
  • Housing program: $75 billion
    reduces mortgages to no more than 30% of borrowers income, which no one is frikkin’ talking about. 

Add it all up, and it comes to about $5.15 trillion billion gazillion dollars. 

I think my head is about to implode. Methinks I should maybe pick one issue and focus on that, just to get some sense of equilibrium. 


Quote of the Week

Why can’t America be exactly like America, but with decent health care and maternity leave?! Then it would be, like, a normal country!

– Mr. Goddess, cogently analyzing America’s health care crisis.

Barack TV

Obama on TV networksPresident Obama was on all three broadcast channels and the cable news networks yesterday. I think I spotted him on Animal Planet discussing White House puppy options and the Food Network sharing his favorite omelette recipes.

What was supposed to be a full-throated defense of the economic stimulus package turned into a mea culpa marathon, as President Obama admitted to one network anchor after another that he “screwed up” in pushing ahead with Tom Daschle’s nomination for Health and Human Services secretary despite Daschle’s unpaid income taxes.

So by my calculations, President Obama has already used the M-word — “mistake” — five times in his two weeks as president, compared with his predecessor, who didn’t use it once in his eight. So far, I think I’ll take Obama’s mistakes over Bush’s “successes” any day.


Catching the Midnight Bus to Hopetown

map of inauguration crowds

Attending the presidential inauguration was a little like getting a tattoo: the pain was temporary and the memory lasts a lifetime. I was awake for 32 hours, on my feet in 20-degree temperatures for 12 hours, and I’m thinking I may regain the full use of my legs by sometime early next week.

So was it worth it? In a word, yes.

The students were fantastic. The student organizers of the trip made all the right calls and everything went incredibly smoothly. The crowds were intense but happy and helpful, despite many snafus and lapses in communication on the part of the DC authorities. Crowds of thousands spent many hours milling around, looking for streets that did not end in barricades and entrances that were actually open.

By the time I actually made it to the National Mall, there were no University students or staff to be seen (most of the other staff reported the same thing; the students did a good job ditching the old folks). I was on my own in a crowd of over a million people.

I staked out a nice spot under the second Jumbotron, with a view of the Capitol building on the left. No one was sitting; there was no where to sit. It was only 8 am.

Over the next three hours, a little feeling of camaraderie was struck up amongst the people in my little section. A tall hippie guy with a white ponytail had lost his busload of students from Western Massachusetts and was hanging out on his own, reaching above the crowd with his long hippie arms to take pictures with other people’s cameras. People were sharing their snacks, their pocket hand warmers (THANK YOU, blonde lady from Connecticut) and their stories about what they thought the election meant, why they wanted to be there, and what they thought would happen next.

I mostly listened. At first I was a little sad that I wasn’t there with a group of friends, and a little jealous of the students who were. But I eventually came to appreciate my situation — alone but not alone in a crowd of millions. The whole occasion became very quiet, personal, and introspective for me.

Listening to the talk of the people around me, and then the speech, I came to a simple conclusion: it’s no longer adequate to be a pointless person, a useless person. We all must be of use. I just don’t know how yet.

For the busride down, I had with me David Hackett Fischer’s Pulitzer Prize-winning history of Washington’s Crossing. The spot where George Washington crossed the Delaware is about about ten miles from my house. So when President Obama closed his speech with this quote from Washington to rally his troops, I felt a special connection (and I’m not ashamed to say I teared up a little):

Let it be told to the future world … that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet it.

It’s time for me to start coming forth.


Get on the Bus! Inauguration or Bust

I’m heading to D.C., baby!

Three busloads of students from the UofR will be leaving Monday for an all-night road trip to the nation’s capitol, and I’ll be along for the ride as one of the “event managers” (read: “chaperones”). Our 150 students will be joining a crowd of 2-4 million citizens of the world along the National Mall, all eager to witness history in the making, and all needing to use the same subway cars and porta-potties.

My main task will be to make sure that all 150 students find their way back to the buses and back to Rochester. That sounds a little daunting. But as the President-elect himself might say, if we just stick together and look out for each other, no-one gets left behind.


The Goddess Watches President Bush’s Last Speech (so you don’t have to)

In five days time, we will all wake up in a world where George W. Bush is no longer president. 

The wreckage from these past eight years is quite staggering. The Center for Public Integrity lists 128 failures of the Bush administration and offers a handy online tool that lets you sort, rank and suggest additional failures. It’s a game the whole family can play.

Some of my personal favorites (and by “favorite” read “soul-crushingly sad”):

  • The United States has seen no reduction in greenhouse gas emissions since 2000, and is on track for a 16 percent increase through 2030. 
  • The Bush administration has shown nothing but disdain for science, leaving positions like the director of the FDA and the surgeon general unfilled for months. Reports of political interference with science were rife, for example a National Cancer Institute report that was edited to (erroneously) link breast cancer to abortion.
  • White House officials routinely used unofficial email accounts that were not archived automatically in accordance with the Presidential Records Act. Thousands of email messages were “lost.”
  • That whole “false premise for going to war” thing.
  • And don’t even get started on the economy!

With all that water under the bridge (and over the levies), Bush delivered his last speech as president yesterday.

8:00 – Smirking, winking, ugh.

8:03 – Three minutes in and he’s wrapping himself in the sadness and bravery of 9-11. “Most Americans were able to return to live much as it was. I never did.” I’m sure that’s true, and I am unendingly grateful that there has not been another terrorist attack. But just as my cold heart is about to give him just a tiniest bit of credit, he leaps into Iraq and the “War on Terror” and I want to bang my head against the coffee table.

8:08 — “You may not agree with some of the tough decisions I’ve had to make but I hope you’ll agree that I made the tough decisions.” ‘Cuz he’s the decider.

8:10 — “I’ve often spoken to you about good and evil, and this has made some uncomfortable. But good and evil are present in this world, and between the two of them there can be no compromise.” So if you’re good, you’re good. If you’re evil, you’re evil. Where exactly that leaves the U.S. policy on waterboarding and torture, Bush does not take the time to elaborate on this occasion.

8:14 — I’ll say this for our 43th president: he’s brief. G.W. — over and out!