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Not all Republicans of course, just the ones that are way right of center and way off their rockers (Rush Limbaugh et. al.). I’m completely baffled that there are some in their party that would practically salivate at the thought of Obama’s policies failing.
Hal Sparks, a comedian, was a guest on the Rachel Maddow Show today, and I think he put it best and I will paraphrase as best as I can. It is as though the Republicans want to see the fall of Obama, who they see as this messianic figure at the helm of the liberalism movement. It clearly summarized what I think is running through their heads. It’s unbelievable. I know I disagreed with Bush on almost everything, but I always hoped that somehow, by some miracle, one of those policies would work out.
They want to see the one hope the country has to fumble and fail, they want to see the policies that have an infinitely better shot than anything the conservative base has been able to offer up die before it does any real good. It’s not as though they have had any groundbreaking ideas over the last eight years, instead they drove the country right into the ground. It’s not as though they have come up with anything new and potentially useful now, just the same old nonsense they have peddled for so long. Still, they worship at the altar of Reagonomics and the trickle down theory, which had left the rich richer and the poor poorer, before everything went to hell in a handbasket and everyone was in the same boat: poor or well on their way there.
The Republican Party, besides being the party of “no” has now become the party of “ego.” Their egos are so hurt by the fact that the country has abandoned them more quickly than they can say “tax cut” that they are hoping for the failure of this new administration and a quick reinstating of the old ways at the potential cost of a whole nation’s chance at picking itself up out of the rut that the conservatives themselves had dug. Many conservative lawmakers are refusing, or are poised to refuse, the stimulus money even if they desperately need it. This means you, Bobby Jindal, governor of a Louisiana that is still hurting and hasn’t been helped enough to this day…and Katrina was almost four years ago. This is petulance at its purest, and would be a wholly irresponsible move.
Please, to all you all who are hoping for Obama’s failure, get your collective head out of your (insert synonym for derriere here). This isn’t about liberalism supposedly trouncing conservatism. This isn’t about which party is in control, and how to oust the current party in control. This is about helping a country that is hurtling towards economic and social ruin if something isn’t done fast. If you made a mistake (or mistakes as the case may be), ‘fess up and let someone try their strategy. Don’t assume the same, failed strategies will work if you just keep pushing at it for long enough. If you can’t break down a brick wall with a toothpick, admit it, and find someone who has a jackhammer. The goal is still achieved. That’s really all that matters.
I just think back to high school, the day after that abysmal election day in 2000. My global history teacher at the time was bemoaning the results of the election, a sentiment shared by most if not all of us in the room. Al Gore had been robbed, and he worried out loud about the future of the country. He was right to worry.
Eight years later, we are teetering on the verge of a large recession (if not an outright depression), involved in two unpopular wars abroad, and lagging behind most of the world in education and healthcare. To paraphrase a line Chris Rock used in a recent interview, “A president has two jobs: maintain peace and make money. Is that so much to ask?” Dubya’s predecessor, Bill Clinton, did both. Dubya did neither.
Did Dubya achieve anything? Yes, it would be silly to say he was completely useless as a leader. One can’t really blame Dubya entirely for the problems we are mired in now, but he can still be blamed. Is he a bad person? No, but he was easily manipulated by those who were close to him. Ultimately, though, he will bear most of the flak. Under him, regulations flew out the window, and the market operated of its own accord. Under him, defense spending ballooned at the expense of other, more necessary spending for domestic programs. Under him, we lost our respect in the eyes of the rest of the world.
Tomorrow, Barack Obama will be inaugurated, ushering in a new administration. I hope the change he promised will materialize into legislation and decisions that will lift our country out of the ditch into which it has sunk. Hopefully he will right the wrongs that have gone unchecked for the last eight years. Hopefully we will return to peace and prosperity. Hopefully.
I suppose it would have been more of a surprise if the Obama transition team had managed to actually keep this under wraps. Oh well, it’s still a good pick.
As much as I intensely dislike Rush Limbaugh, he did make a good point regarding the (at the time) imminent nomination of Senator Clinton. “You know the old phrase, ‘You keep your friends close and your enemies closer?’ How can she run for president in 2012? She’d have to run against the incumbent and be critical of him — the one who made her secretary of state.” While I don’t think that was the original intention behind the pick, it certainly doesn’t hurt Obama that it makes her seeking re-election (which I don’t think she was intending to do anyways) all the more difficult.
Hillary, as I said earlier, brings a lot of foreign policy experience to a world much in need of peace and good diplomatic relations. In light of the Mumbai attacks, Hillary could prove to be instrumental in orchestrating a reasonable solution to the conflict, and prevent both countries from going to war (which as this point, still seems likely). The Clintons are still loved worldwide, so it can’t hurt to have a Clinton as the face of American diplomacy.
Keeping Robert Gates on hand was I think, a wise decision. It will keep conservatives at ease, for one thing. Gates will be the check on Obama’s foreign policy decisions and keep the administration from reaching for things that may not be reasonably within reach. Yet he has made headway in correcting the grievous oversights that occurred under Donald Rumsfeld, notably the Walter Reed Army Medical Center neglect scandal. This should set everyone at ease, and hopefully he will continue to keep things in check.
Janet Napolitano was officially confirmed as Secretary of Homeland Security. Refer to my previous Obama appointments post for my analysis of that decision.
Eric Holder was confirmed as the new Attorney General nominee. Considering as he has, among other things, been Deputy Attorney General and , it seems like this a good fit. If confirmed, he will also be the first African American Attorney General. Pretty cool stuff.
Susan Rice is the next United States ambassador to the UN. She was Obama’s foreign policy adviser during the campaign and has served as Mike Dukakis’ foreign policy aide during his campaign as well as Assistant Secretary of State under Bill Clinton. Her father is also a Cornell professor, which is a big check in my book.
James L. Jones was named National Security Adviser. This wasn’t too much of a surprise since this was hinted even during the campaign by Obama. He has served in both Vietnam and the Gulf War, and is a decorated general, so his experience clearly will serve him well in this setting. Under the Bush administration, he has served as an envoy to the Middle East, primarily for the purpose of strengthening security for Israel and Palestine. Given that the Middle East is still a hotbed of activity, his expertise in that area should be a great asset to Obama’s security team.
More to come as the appointments roll in…
So far so good, I’d say, with some exceptions:
Rahm Emanuel: I cannot think of a better person for the position of chief of staff, given his reputation as someone who “takes no prisoners.” He has been involved in politics for some twenty three years, from political staffer to Congressional Representative from the state of Illinois. Besides his experience, his no-nonsense attitude is much needed to keep President Obama’s staff on task, with regard to seeing his agenda through.
Bill Richardson: This one I’m not terribly sure about. Bill Richardson has had ample experience in federal office, as a representative, and as a member of Bill Clinton’s Cabinet as Secretary of Energy. However, I’m not certain much in his years of political experience has set him up to serve as Commerce Secretary. I could be wrong, the man did serve as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., so that in itself may have given him some understanding of the state of foreign commerce. His tenure as Governor of New Mexico, too, lends itself to some understanding of domestic commerce. Who knows.
Janet Napolitano: I feel like she would have been better for Secretary of Education than Homeland Security, given her accomplishments as Governor of Arizona. Her nickname was the “Education Governor,” so I’m curious why Obama tapped her for Homeland Security, of all things. I would rather have someone like, I dunno, Wesley Clark or someone with at least some experience in that realm. Nonetheless, she could surprise me.
Tim Geithner: This one was a solid pick, I have no complaints. He served as 9th President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. I think that speaks for itself.
Larry Summers: Good pick, but I think many of the women in the country may have simultaneously shuddered at the announcement that he was going to be head of the National Economic Council. Gaffes aside, he was Clinton’s Treasury Secretary, and I think he’ll be fine in this position.
And then of course, best for last:
Hillary Clinton: I’m wonderfully conflicted about this one, which I know is not “confirmed” yet, but looks highly likely. On one hand, she has solid foreign policy experience (minus that little thing called the Iraq War). For better or worse, by appointing this Clinton, you get the other Clinton as part of the package and he is still an active (not to mention mostly beloved) presence in most of the world, so that in itself could be a benefit to the Obama administration. On the other hand, I would have rather seen her in another role, like head of the Department of Health and Human Services, given her strong support for universal healthcare.
More analysis to come as the appointments roll in.
I have no health insurance. I have to worry about getting a cold, getting a flu, getting food poisoning, or some other unfortunate ill. Heaven forbid I do, I have no way to go and see a doctor for any sort of treatment. In the back of my head, I worry every time I step out off the curb into the crosswalk, worry that some crazed taxi driver will gun his engine and inadvertently take me out. In that case, I hope I go quickly and painlessly, and not have to end up in a hospital and drive my family into bankruptcy. That is my prayer, in the supposed land of freedom and opportunity.
I, along with many of my peers, went to college and are pursuing further grad work. I, along with many of my peers, are in debt up to our eyeballs. Cornell Arts and Sciences costs something in the order of $40K, though I was in Cornell’s College of Human Ecology, a measly $20K as a New York State resident. Meanwhile, I just Googled the tuition cost to attend the University of Cambridge in England and here is what it said:
“In 2009, the University of Cambridge will charge tuition fees of £3,145 (plus a small inflationary rise to be determined by the DIUS) per year for all courses, as outlined in our Access Agreement, which has been approved by the Office for Fair Access (OFFA).” (
). That’s $4654. Per year. At one of the world’s premier universities. In order to succeed in the land of freedom and opportunity [the United States] you must be willing to fork over an arm and a leg, in addition to your firstborn. This is the mantra that the country continues to chant.
So getting back to my story. I have no health insurance, and I’m signing loan after loan to pay my way through school. Theoretically, I have only another…5 more years of school to go before I get a steady paycheck. After that, maybe another thirty years before I pay off my loans. Even if I didn’t take my double-masters detour from medical school, I would still be paying off loans well into my child’s teen years.
I have tried to find a job, but finding a job in itself is a hassle. I finally got one, after 6 to 7 months of searching (not including the tutoring position I currently have). Other friends, though, are still in the job-hunting game, with little to no success. Most, if not all, are from top-tier universities around the country. Even if they’re not, they are certainly smart and capable, yet they are all being denied. Welcome to the United States, the land of freedom and opportunity.
Why have we failed our own people?
Part of the problem is we are still operating in an exclusively capitalistic mindset. Privatize this and that so that the brunt of the cost falls on the individual and the group is spared. Leave it to market forces, because the market will cure all. We have no concern for the group, just the individual, whose health and future is put in the hands of the market. This is the equivalent of leaving them in the hands of a temperamental child, easily swayed, and never entirely stable. Inflation is only driving costs up. While, in the case of healthcare, Medicaid and Medicare do exist and for education, there is state and federal financial aid, they are imperfect solutions.
Medicaid remains a often-abused and neglected system. Millions, if not billions of dollars, are being spent because clinicians are billing the system fraudulently, exploiting loopholes in the system that have yet to be resolved. If they aren’t inappropriately billing the system, they are less likely to treat patients on Medicaid, and those hospitals and clinics that do accept Medicaid are notorious for being sub-par in comparison to their private counterparts. While Medicaid targets those who are often well-below the poverty line, and private insurance takes care of people in the upper brackets, there is still a whole set of people who are neither poor but are neither capable of shelling out money for private insurance that are left without health insurance. There are no resources for these people.
“Give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses…” unless they’re above this income bracket and below another. In that case, you’re on your own.
Yet even if you can pay for private health insurance, you are probably out of luck if you were to end up with a major medical condition. While routine checkups and most lab tests are covered by most health insurance plans, the more complex procedures are oftentimes not covered. So regardless of your status, in terms of health insurance coverage, there are problems just waiting to happen from which no one can effectively bail you out. Russian Roulette, if you will.
Welcome to the United State, the land of freedom and opportunity.
If someone wants to have enough money, not just to pay off health insurance, but to have a decent quality of life, they need an education. Education, especially in recent years, has become prohibitively expensive. People who would otherwise be capable of getting into an Ivy League are stopped short by the costs, and have to go somewhere else (which may not necessarily be a bad thing, refer to my earlier post). Inflation is driving up university costs at astronomical rates, and greater pressures are being put on colleges to construct new buildings and upgrade what they already have, adding to the cost. Why do we have to be restricted from attending some of the nation’s finest universities by something like cost? We have become a society of debtors, in part due to this phenomenon. Don’t even get me started on the fact that, despite the fact that we pay through our (insert orefice of choice here) for a halfway decent education, we lag behind most of the world, especially in science and mathematics. That’s for another post.
The irony is that I want to be a doctor with a few grad degrees aside from my MD, and currently I neither have health insurance nor a sound way of even paying for one grad degree, let alone medical school.
Welcome to the United States, land of freedom and opportunity.
Dear President-elect Obama: Do you hear the the death moans of a nation once at the pinnacle of greatness, now reduced to a society of forgotten people, languishing in their own physical and financial sickness? You spoke of healthcare for everyone, where even the poorest person can have the same healthcare as a United States Senator. Coming from a distinguished background, you know the pain students go through to get a decent education, just to enjoy some of the benefits that you have. I will bite my tongue and pay my loans off as best as I can, dutifully carry around my bottle of Purrell in an effort to stave off illnesses for the time being, and look both ways before I cross the street (in a very anti-New Yorker fashion) but at some point this needs to stop. I need to stop worrying about how I’m going to pay for my education and I need to stop worrying about whether my next step could land me in a hospital. More importantly, though, my younger brother shouldn’t have to worry about which college he can afford to go to, or how he’ll be able to get healthcare once he’s older. My parents shelled out a lot just to see me enjoy opportunities that in some cases, they had to forgo. Now that the second one is lining up for his turn, I don’t want to see them struggle anymore.
Can you bring meaning back to the phrase “Welcome to the United States, the land of freedom and opportunity,” and not leave it sounding sarcastic and empty? Can you fix it?
But this blog will still be alive. I’ll be covering a host of topics, of course, but now instead of election views…it will be views on the Obama administration and the actions it takes. I love how that sounds…Obama administration.
I hope you will join me as I keep dissecting the issues as they affect me and they affect you, and make your views heard as well.
Obama got Ohio…:)
Florida is leaning Obama too, so perhaps the night could be over earlier than expected? I’m not holding my breath.
Electoral votes: 103 Obama versus 58 McCain