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Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

A couple things lately have piqued my interest about President Obama.

  1. The government okaying wind-farms off Nantucket… which had been stalled for nine years (mostly, as the story is told, because Ted Kennedy and other hoighty-toighties didn’t want their vacation home views interrupted).  Good work to Obama to forge ahead despite that view held by many democratic supporters… although I wonder if he would have if TK was still alive.
  2. Dept. of Education’s Race to the Top program.  While regular  readers will not be unaware that I am hardly a fan of the DOE or Bush’s humongous enlarging of it with No Child Left Behind… I do want to credit the president for applying rules and language to schools fighting for fed dollars that they must be willing to reform their practices on how they hire and fire teachers.  Language such as:

    reforming and improving teacher preparation; revising teacher evaluation, compensation, and retention policies to encourage and reward effectiveness; and working to ensure that our most talented teachers are placed in the schools and subjects where they are needed the most.

    The White House has made it clear that when it announced Tennessee and Delaware as the first winners, that having union support of reform plans was crucial… basically saying, “unions you need to realize you are going to reform, or else you aren’t getting any money.

Kudos to the president. It may be harder than I would like to find things to agree with our president on, but I think it is appropriate to point out when I do.

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It was one year ago today that Barack Obama won the election for the office of the President of the United States.  When he took office in January of this year, President Obama held a nearly 70% approval rating according to the Gallup poll.  As we can observe from the chart below, that approval has drastically shifted:

Poll

Presidential Approval Poll (Gallup)

So why the shift?  Esquire writer John Richardson explains what he considers to be the “Problem With America Today.”

My inspiration was the recent one-year-later cover of Newsweek, which encapsulates the current conventional wisdom about President Obama in a single headline: YES HE CAN (BUT HE SURE HASN’T YET). Or, as Saturday Night Live put it, President Obama’s two biggest accomplishments thus far are “Jack and Squat.” You can find other versions of this perspective from Matt Lauer and David Gregory on NBC, from thousands of obnoxious bloggers, even from the hapless governor of New York.

Here’s the conventional wisdom in a single paragraph: Three hundred and sixty-four days after he was elected president, Obama is still stuck in Iraq, hasn’t closed Guantánamo, is getting deeper into Afghanistan, hasn’t accomplished health-care reform or slowed the rise in unemployment. His promises of bipartisanship are a punch line (see above). And there’s still no peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. What a failure! What a splash of cold water in the face of all our bold hopes!

He’s being facetious and he follows it up with declaring that the conventional wisdom is “insane.”  Why?  Check Richardson’s record on Obama’s first ten months in office for yourself here.

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0409_smartcar01There has been much in the news lately over the Obama administrations proposed changes to CAFE legislation, raising the mpg standards on autos to 35 mpg from the current 27.5 mpg.  This provokes an interesting dilemma though.  The main way to reduce fuel consumption in autos is by making them lighter, and thus smaller.  I’m sure you have all seen the SMART car on the road and been amazed at how tiny it is… and joked about seeing that go head-to-head with a truck.  Well:

Researchers at Harvard University and the Brookings Institution found that, on average, for every 100 pounds shaved off new cars to meet CAFE standards, between 440 and 780 additional people were killed in auto accidents…

In 2002 USA Today estimated “that size and weight reductions of passenger vehicles undertaken to meet current CAFE standards had resulted in more than 46,000 deaths”.  And CEI points out that:

The death rate in minis in multi-vehicle crashes is almost twice as high as that of large cars. And in single-vehicle crashes, where there’s no oversized second vehicle to blame, the difference is even greater: Passengers in minis suffered three times as many deaths as in large cars. 

So what are these deaths a trade-off for?  The argument is to reduce pollution (global warming) and also to reduce our reliance on foreign oil.  The argument for pollution reduction is fairly useful, as any Los Angeleno can attest to, having seen the skies and air quality improve.  The argument for reliance on foreign energy… not so much.  CAFE was first enacted in 1974 during the Carter administration and it’s difficulties with oil from Iran, however:

Since 1974, domestic new car fuel economy has increased 114 percent, and light truck fuel economy has increased 56 percent. Yet over this same period, imported oil has risen from 35 percent of the oil consumed in the U. S. in 1974 to more than 52 percent today [2002].

But even regardless of whether the arguments hold up, there can be a debate about whether human lives are more important than pollution or foreign oil.  Certainly pollution can cause deaths, so a comparison can be made there to see what is the lesser evil.  Reliance on foreign oil has obviously got us entangled in all matter of problems over the years and currently… so can you measure the human lives against those problems?  It’s an interesting dilemma as I said, and one that I don’t claim to have a solid answer for, since there are so many variables.  

One thing is clear though, and it has been stated here a few times, is that legislation almost always has unintended consequences.  It’s one thing if people choose a smaller car to save money and fuel, and put their own safety at risk.  It is another when congress passes mandates to manufacturers that ensures that we ALL will have to drive smaller and more dangerous cars.

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Andrew Breitbart started a conservative blog called Big Hollywood just a short while back, and I have enjoyed reading it as a former member of that secret cabal of conservatives working in entertainment.  It is filled with people talking about the struggles of that double-life in Hollywood, but also as a sort of news post where the writers can point out the hypocrisy of the liberal entertainment elite.

Breitbart wrote a great post the other day about how Hollywood liberals have seemed to turn a corner in their love of America now that a democrat is President.  The brunt of the article is in reference to a video (viewable in the post) of several liberal actors and actresses pledging to do great things for Obama.  Things such as: “Being a better person”, “Turning the lights off”, “freeing people from slavery.”  Breitbart rightly questions why it needed an Obama presidency to pledge these things:

Yet, hating the president doesn’t mean one can’t still help out the country in a great time of need. But many went to foreign countries and demeaned it instead. Called those that disagreed with them rubes and hicks. The elitism of the celebrities against flyover country America could not have been more pronounced. They made a boat-load of movies that affirmed this narrow and patronizing world view.

And now they want us back.

We’re all Americans — NOW

And as one of his readers helpfully commented:

Reminder to liberal celebrities: It’s time to set your Fluctuating Patriotism Clock from “Hate America” to “Love America” on Jan. 20th. Remember, it’s “Springsteen Ahead – Falwell Behind.

It’s a curious thing about politics that the supporters of a party are all ready to “help” America, but only when things are going their way.  This is true of both republicans and democrats.  I anxiously hope that conservatives do not just complain about this and then end up doing the same thing.  We’ll see.

Anyway, it is a great post, but also a great website that provides a look at Hollywood and it’s practices from a different perspective.  You might enjoy it.

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Election Revisited

I have to admit that I have found myself more and more comfortable with an Obama presidency.  I don’t suppose I’m betraying my conservative views, but rather affirming faith in our leaders in general despite political differences.  Just as liberals were able to go to work everyday during Bush’s 8-year reign, so can I through Obama’s time in office.

An interesting site has sprung up called How Obama Got Elected.  It’s operator John Ziegler is apparently making a documentary on the media’s impact on this election… which sounds like a very promising premise.  His website shows election day exit interviews with Obama voters and asks them questions that were previously used in a Zogby Poll (Zogby – opens a .pdf file).

The responses are illuminating as to what voters knew about Obama versus what they knew (or thought they knew) about Sarah Palin.  Highlights:

57.4% could NOT correctly say which party controls congress (50/50 shot just by guessing)

82.6% could NOT correctly say that Barack Obama won his first election by getting opponents kicked off the ballot (25% chance by guessing)

88.4% could NOT correctly say that Obama said his policies would likely bankrupt the coal industry and make energy rates skyrocket (25% chance by guessing)

And yet…..

Only 13.7% failed to identify Sarah Palin as the person on which their party spent $150,000 in clothes

Only 6.2% failed to identify Palin as the one with a pregnant teenage daughter

My favorite:

And 86.9 % thought that Palin said that she could see Russia from her “house,” even though that was Tina Fey who said that!!

I think it’s clear that many people who voted for Obama were voting for the change he spoke of (Bush specifically, and republicans generally), and are probably not intent followers of politics.  Certainly, not knowing who controls congress shows an inspired lack of knowledge on current events, but that is well within people’s rights as voters.  But this polling is interesting in that it shows a distinct dissonance between what information is put out and, most importantly, what is absorbed by our nation.  The fact that a skit on SNL become’s public thinking, but a candidate’s stated policies does not is disconcerting.

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President Obama

Well there you have it, it is a “new dawn” in America.  As opposed as I was to Obama he was clearly the victor here, and I hope and pray that he runs this nation well.  Now let’s see if he can get those 10 rogue states under control.

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