Obtuse Observer

October 4, 2012

Al Gore, bless his heart.

Filed under: Al Gore,Barak Obama,Denver Debate — Obtuse Observer @ 2:46 pm

You can’t make this up.  Al Gore says Obama was off owing to altitude.

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Obama Lost

Filed under: Barak Obama,Mitt Romney — Obtuse Observer @ 7:40 am

Jim Geraghty of National Review provided a long list of comments from Obama fans reacting to the debate last night.

For me one stuck out:

Larry Sabato: “Probably Romney’s best debate ever. Maybe Obama’s worst. I lost count of # of opportunities Obama missed… This debate may build audience for other 3. Voters will want to see if Obama can stage comeback…. Mr. President, cancel all your golf games. You did miserably tonight.”

Obama did poorly last night.  He can recover.  However he got pushed off balance and now has to fight uphill.  Further, the debate where he had the greatest opportunity to rally his supporters was on domestic policy and that was the best format for him to score points – that’s  now lost.

For Romney supporters the debate provided reason to be hopeful and for Obama supporters perhaps a wake up call.

December 8, 2011

Rich OWS Supporters and Obama’s Vitriolic Rhetoric

Here is an interesting list of people who have apparently (not my list – happy to be corrected if anyone listed inaccurately) voiced support at one time or another with varying degrees of volume as well as their net worth: 

 

Recently there has been much vitriol and overbroad criticism leveled at “the rich” not least of which by our President and an author from North Dakota whom I used to respect.  Some one I was communicating with about this anger at “the rich” noted that these angry people really don’t hate the rich so much as they hate the rich who don’t give money to liberal causes or support liberal candidates.  What they really mean is that they hate Republicans, the monolithic party of greed according to that author, with money and regard anyone who is not rich that supports them is brain dead lackeys who fail to recognize that Obama is trying to take the rich guy’s money (“I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody”) and  and give it to more deserving people, that is, Democrats. 

They express a more angry, heated and emotion-only based version of an argument made by Thomas Frank in What’s The Matter With Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America.  He argues that non-rich supporters of GOP candidates vote against their own economic interests.  Obama and others say the same thing only they remove any semblance of civility, reason or fact.  (That “the rich” don’t pay their fair share of income and other taxes is absurd considering the federal income tax burden borne by the top 5% of American wage earners, roughly 60%of all federal income taxes paid in 2009).  However, with the President’s approval ratings below Jimmy Carter’s bitter demagogic behavior from him and his trickling supply of supporters is not shocking in the least.

Leon Cooperman, worth an estimated $1.8B, and former Obama supporter recently issued an open letter to President Obama expressing his concern for the political tone the President is setting (echoed by that author by the way).  I’m sure he will now be purged from the party for heresy and added to the list of nasty greedy rich people.  I excerpt two paragraphs from the full letter found here:

But what I can justifiably hold you accountable for is your and your minions’ role in setting the tenor of the rancorous debate now roiling us that smacks of what so many have characterized as “class warfare”. Whether this reflects your principled belief that the eternal divide between the haves and have-nots is at the root of all the evils that afflict our society or just a cynical, populist appeal to his base by a president struggling in the polls is of little importance. What does matter is that the divisive, polarizing tone of your rhetoric is cleaving a widening gulf, at this point as much visceral as philosophical, between the downtrodden and those best positioned to help them. It is a gulf that is at once counterproductive and freighted with dangerous historical precedents. And it is an approach to governing that owes more to desperate demagoguery than your Administration should feel comfortable with.

With due respect, Mr. President, it’s time for you to throttle-down the partisan rhetoric and appeal to people’s better instincts, not their worst. Rather than assume that the wealthy are a monolithic, selfish and unfeeling lot who must be subjugated by the force of the state, set a tone that encourages people of good will to meet in the middle. When you were a community organizer in Chicago, you learned the art of waging a guerilla campaign against a far superior force. But you’ve graduated from that milieu and now help to set the agenda for that superior force. You might do well at this point to eschew the polarizing vernacular of political militancy and become the transcendent leader you were elected to be. You are likely to be far more effective, and history is likely to treat you far more kindly for it.

It is odd how similar that author’s recent polemics (monolithic selfish wealth) mirror the very same rhetoric from President Obama that is lamented in this open letter.  It would be nice if Obama can change his tone and appeal to our better angels rather than demonize for short term political gain, but, like pretty much all of the change promised by President there appears little reason to hope for it.

 

December 4, 2011

Obama Rich “Fair Share”

Filed under: Barak Obama,Fair Share,The Rich — Tags: , , — Obtuse Observer @ 1:28 am

Google: obama rich “fair share”

I got 38,300,000 hits in a quarter of a second.

This is my gift to college dorm kids everywhere.  Your new drinking game.  Turn on the radio, the TV, read a newspaper, blog or bumper sticker and take a drink every time these three words appear in close proximity

You are welcome.

December 3, 2011

NEWT!

Filed under: Barak Obama,Newt Gingrich — Tags: , — Obtuse Observer @ 4:38 am

1/13/12 Edit:  WTF was I thinking?  Walks away shaking head staring at shoes.

 

 

I haven’t said much about the GOP primary run-up except to defend Mitt Romney from GOP attacks.  Why?  Because my hope for change I can believe in is an unemployed Barak Obama.  Republicans bashing Republicans does not advance that goal. 

Now comes Newt Gingrich with a late pre-primary surge looking like he will win the nomination.  Certainly history has shown us that this could change rapidly but barring the sudden scandal it seems unlikely.  It seems less so here because Newt’s screw-ups, which are many and considerable, are all pretty well known.  There’s not much dirt left to throw at him. 

I think Newt offers the best chance to unseat Obama.  Why?  Four main reasons:

1)  He’s not Obama and Obama has miserable approval ratings.  This leaves Obama with no record of success of his own to run on.

2)  Newt Gingrich is a policy wonk.  He’s spent thirty years getting his hands dirty with this stuff and knows his stuff cold.  He’ll slaughter Obama in debates on substance.  This can be largely verified or refuted: If nominated look to see how willing Obama is to debate Newt.  The fewer debates the more accurate the notion.

3)  Newt is a politician.   He’s been all over the place policy-wise but can always defend his position and knows when to say he was wrong so he changed his view.  Further, he has the ability to speak in sound bites and present himself extremely well even to hostile media.  He does not lose his temper nor get flustered.  He’s got that “it” factor a successful politician needs.

4)  Lastly, as mentioned, Newt’s dirt is public.  Absent something big and new Obama will be stuck with an uphill battle on policy (lack of personal success and Newt’s ability to look great discussing policy) and with negative attacks.  The negative attacks will play well to the choir but the fact that he’s come out of the sewer smelling like a rose suggests that the squishy middle will tire of and see through them.

 

March 23, 2011

Why Kucinich is Wrong About Obama

Dennis Kucinich has objected furiously to President Obama’s decision to order air strikes in Libya.  Depending on what source you believe Kucinich regards this order as an impeachable offense or one warrant investigation into same.  He’s wrong.  But at least he’s consistent.  It got to be old hat listening to him screaming about impeaching President Bush and Vice President Cheney.  On December 20, 2007 candidate Obama said this about the authority to authorize a military attack: 

The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation

Obama was also wrong.  It’ll be interesting to see if he addresses the flop directly by saying he changed his mind (which I’d respect frankly) or if he would argue that the order meets the relevant criteria in his comment or if he will simply demur.

The President is the Commander-in-Chief of all of our military forces.  He needs no authorization from Congress to order an attack.  However, it is standard protocol and in my opinion a proper thing to do.  Few attacks are ordered on such short notice that the leadership of both parties in each house cannot be consulted prior to issuing the order but there is no constitutional requirement for it.  While only Congress may declare war, war and attacks are not one and the same.  The War Powers Resolution of 1973 attempts to limit this presidential authority.  This is a very controversial law that neither side has tested for fear of losing and they have continued on as if the Resolution does not exist.  For my part I think it is unlikely that an act of Congress can limit an Article II power. 

The history of Presidents using force without Congress declaring war is extensive.  This document contains 33 pages of military engagements from 1798 – 2009; eleven of which were pursuant to a declaration of war.  On a case by case basis these attacks were supported or opposed by Congress though they overwhelmingly supported them.  While it is unlikely that support would be unanimous funding the President’s war budget cannot be regarded as anything other than support (begrudging or not).  This legislator/executive relationship has a long history in Anglo-American constitutional jurisprudence.  Just by way of example; Parliament tired of funding Charles I’s war efforts and cut him off.  Charles found a 400 year old Norman ship tax that permitted a direct levy payable to the Crown.  He skirted Parliament but that they had the authority to cut him off and that he did not need their approval for military attacks was not in dispute.  The Framers surely were aware of examples like this (and many others) and as our law is an extension of theirs the counter-balance was established the same way here.  Congress holds a very powerful check – the power of the purse.  They simply need to use it.

March 1, 2011

Boehner: House May Defend DOMA

And the story continuesAttorney General Eric Holder announced recently that the administration will no longer defend DOMA.  An option, in my opinion, well within their prerogative.  Holder suggested that the House take up the defense of DOMA in a recent letterRick Santorum suggested that Speaker John Boehner appoint counsel to defend the law.  And Boehner has said he hopes to reach a decision soon.  OK.  This is certainly an issue that matters to many people but the current situation certainly looks like political theater from all perspectives.

And so, I leave that behind and offer my thoughts on DOMA.  I am not sure if I have assembled them all in one place on the blog.  Now I will.  Aren’t you lucky? 

DOMA is intended to allow each state to decide for itself what their definition of marriage will be and allow them the right to deny marriages not meeting that definition.  This is accomplished by carving out an exception to the Full Faith and Credit Clause

As a concept I support the idea.  I like the states getting to decide for themselves by using the democratic process.  However, imo, DOMA is not a good law.  Not good in the sense that I don’t think it would survive a constitutional challenge.  Why?  The notion that Congress can carve out such an exception may have precedent; or it may not.  My gut tells me Congress may not and my laziness permits me to avoid digging.  Much more important than my opinion of the law is my opinion of the Supreme Court.   I suspect that four Justices on the left will elect to strike the law and that Justice Kennedy will join them.  Because of the questionable constitutionality of the law, I do not support DOMA.  

However, I do support an amendment effecting the same result for the same reasons.  Why?  Because that would settle the issue, once and for all, through the democratic process rather than through the progeny of various judicial opinions that will result in a protracted societal conflict.  The benefit of the former course is that 50 incubators will produce various results; both good and bad.  We can imitate the good and discard the bad on the road to ever broader consensus through our own choices rather than have one imposed by the courts.  Such rulings have the tendency to create sore feelings and long memories.  They entrench the positions of the passionate and extend the war of ideas beyond its natural expiration date.  We should rely on the people more and on the judiciary less.

January 28, 2011

Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA): Racism Explains Dems Losses

Filed under: 2010 Elections,Barak Obama,Jim Moran,Racism — Tags: , , , — Obtuse Observer @ 1:56 pm

Article from Politico:  Speaking to Arab television network Alhurra, Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) said Republicans made big gains in November in part because “a lot of people in this country … don’t want to be governed by an African-American.”

OK, let’s work with this.  In 2008 the final electoral college results were 365 to 173.  The final popular vote was 70 million to 60 million in Obama’s favor and a 7.2% differential.

I’m not terribly interested in crunching numbers because it bores me to tears.  However, it is a fair assertion that the results in the 2010 midterm elections were greatly affected by swing voters who switched allegiance to the Republicans and away from the Democrats.  Moran claims that racists played a significant role in the 2010 elections.  Unless these are new and racist voters we can make a fair inference that, instead, this important voter group is largely amongst those swing voters who elected Democrats in 2006 and 2008.  This means that racists who voted for Democrats and Obama in 2006 and 2008 finally figured out that Obama is black and are now voting like good ol’ racists.  James Carville popularized the phrase, “It’s the economy stupid” when Bill Clinton defeated George Bush in 1992.  The economy is worse now than it was then.  Voters are aware of this fact.  Given a choice of options what makes more sense: racism or the economy?

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