Tag Archives: President Obama

Nelson Mandela and flying the U.S. Flag at half-staff

Nelson Mandela and flying the U.S. Flag at half-staff

There has been some grousing that President Obama has order the U.S. flag to fly at half-staff in honor of South African President Mandela’s passing.

“The president may order the flag to be flown at half-staff to mark the death of other officials, former officials, or foreign dignitaries. In addition to these occasions, the president may order half-staff display of the flag after other tragic events.”

— U.S. Flag Code, para 3.

Twice before has a president directed the U.S. flag to be flown at half-staff for a foreign dignitary.

President George W. Bush ordered flags to fly at half-staff at the passing of Pope John Paul II in 2005, and President Lyndon Johnson bestowed the honor in recognition of the passing of Winston Churchill in 1965.

American flag at half mast

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Fiscal Cliff Negotiations – Why Obama and Boehner Won’t Agree Anytime Soon – Maybe Not At All

ABOUT that Fiscal Cliff — The Daily Beast has summed up nicely the chances of a deal:

“There is a growing sense among Republican policy wonks and senior lobbyists that the chances of getting any kind of meaningful deal on the deficit between now and the end of the year are drifting toward zero.” Daily Beast, Dec 4th.

Speaker Boehner held a press conference on Friday, December 7th, to discuss where negotiations are currently going, which you can watch below.

The real takeaway from this press conference is not that negotiations are going badly — although that is what the video portrays — but that there is little that can be put on the table to actually negotiate with.

At this point, Speaker Boehner is facing a challenge within the GOP to oust him for even talking seriously about some of the ideas on the table. Earlier this week he received a letter signed by more than 100 conservative activists that threatened to work against him and any other GOP member that supported any attempt to raise taxes and/or to curb tax deductions and such. Boehner is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.

American Majority Action (AMA) launched a #FireBoehner campaign, and numerous other conservative and Tea Party groups have joined the effort to toss Boehner as House Speaker. For that to work requires that just 16 members of the Republican Party drop support for Boehner in January which will take away enough votes to prevent his return as the House Speaker, opening the way for a new Speaker.

So as you watch the press conference video above, please ignore Speaker Boehner blasting the president. The two of them could probably reach a deal quickly if left to work things out together. Boehner is just echoing talking points at this point as he tries to work out some deal acceptable to his own party.

There is also criticism that Obama is not responding seriously to Boehner’s proposals. This is undoubtedly true but also just rhetoric. There is no GOP plan with specifics or any plan that can get enough GOP votes to pass even if we were to adopt the Boehner’s GOP plan ‘as is’. So reality is that President Obama is really left to negotiate with himself because any deal made at the moment is not a viable deal at all.

Things don’t get negotiated from the center. If I were Obama, I would ignore any ‘plan’ that didn’t have specifics and a guarantee of X votes to go with that plan. Speaker Boehner really needs to negotiate the Fiscal Cliff within his own party before he can expect the president to make a deal that the GOP won’t honor.

Speaker Boehner is an honorable man. Life must seem crazy for him at the moment. I wish him well and hope that he can strike a deal which really does cut national expenses and find ways to pay for whatever else remains as obligated debt. The Constitution gives that challenge to the Congress not to the president — so before we make any progress it is the Congress that has to come to terms first, and Republicans pretty much own the House which is where it all starts.

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President Obama Meets Ohioans … and discusses whether we are better off four years later (Humor)

President Obama recently travelled to Ohio where he met the locals and discussed the question: “Are you better off than four years ago.”

He did this on Saturday Night, Live.

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Bogus Claim – Bush wiped out the Clinton $5.6 trillion surplus in just two years

The graphic below is making many rounds on the internet, and its publication is specifically widespread on Facebook.

Problem: The primary claim is grossly incorrect — so incorrect that the claim qualifies as a BIG Lie.

Bush wiped out Clinton surplus - BOGUS

Grossly inaccurate/BIG Lie category: Clinton left a $5.6 trillion surplus? Really? Per the Clinton administration’s own numbers, the surplus never exceeded $400 billion, and was just $237 billion in its best year (2000).

Good things were done to manage debt during President Clinton’s last few years: there was significant progress in paying down national debt in 1999 and 2000. The National Debt Clock had stopped and was even reversing.

Also good was that new debt under President Clinton’s eight years was minorly incremental as compared to almost all other presidents since World War II. Yet national debt within President Clinton’s last year in office began to rise again — all the gains of debt paydown in 2000 were wiped out by 2001’s gains.

As for debt hitting $10 trillion on Bush’s watch: $10,628,881,485,510.23 was the debt on President Bush’s last day in office. It was $5.727 trillion on the day he took office.

Note: It is easy to check such numbers. The Department of the Treasury has a website that let’s you check the national debt (technically ‘Public Debt’) at any time. You can check the numbers yourself at Debt to the Penny.

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President Obama – the most Frugal Government Spender in 60 years?

Politifact.com recently examined an extraordinary claim that President Obama has had the lowest spending record of any recent president.

Can that be right?

Politifact says that such a claim is ‘mostly true’.

I encourage you to read the Politifact numbers analysis for yourself: read it here.

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The Politifact story is a good read for many reasons.

One good reason being that much of what people believe that they know is often without basis.

It is always good to have around a calculator and some real numbers. Politifact tries to provide the numbers and calculations for you.

Secondly, another good reason to read the article is that if you argue to replace something with something ‘better’ then better should be better. Better should have a metric that we can calculate.

I am not always so happy with President Obama but as compared with whom? Certainly not I know how to create jobs Romney, whose state dropped from #37 in jobs growth to #47 during his term as governor.

If you wish to argue that Romney had to deal with a Democratic legislature then so be it. However, please accept that since 2010 President Obama has had to work with a Republican House; yes, Democrats demurred from proposing their own budget so that the Republican budgets could be judged on its own merits (and also true that Democrat are not so hot at using calculators either so it saved them a lot of time and effort.)

Thirdly, the last good reason to read the Politifact article is that we have many tough choices ahead and not a lot of folks want to do critical thinking.

2013 will be a very tough year. The CBO has effectively said that whatever course we take we will cause us to fall back into official recession during 2013. The CBO analysis says that 2013 represents a fiscal cliff that we are about to run off.

For those that say we need austerity and no new increase in the debt limit, you can’t get there from here. You certainly cannot get to there (balanced budgets, decreased national debt, and economic growth) by protecting current levels of defense spending or increasing it.

Just to maintain current spending levels will require an increase in our national debt level. Soon. Even if you were to cancel out almost all social spending you still could not cover defense spending without borrowing more money. Quixotic to me that that the ‘more defense spending’ crowd is quite often the same choir as the ‘no new debt’ crowd and the ‘no new taxes’ crowd. Those same folks recently proposed in the House draft budget an 8% increase in defense spending.

For those that want to pay down the national debt, there appears to be three groups with a view and a following.

—- Group #1 wants to let all tax cuts expire (except for folks that vote for them). The CBO says that letting the tax cuts expire would indeed dramatically decrease our national debt … and do so in as little as the first 12 months. BUT that would also suck so much money out of the economy that it would probably dry up consumer spending and … great ungood would happen.  As for those that would let the tax cuts expire, except for those that vote for them — grab a calculator. How is that a balanced plan. Some, primarily Democrats, are arguing to protect tax cuts for the first $1 million of income and to protect the social security pay day tax cut.

—– Group #2: Keep the tax cuts, create more tax cuts or breaks + increase defense spending. This will supposedly cause the economy to grow. This is a revisit of rhetorical Reaganomics: just ain’t happening. Buy a calculator. Hire a consulting firm. Your numbers are on drugs. I am a fan of President Reagan (no one is perfect) but his administration didn’t grow the economy so much from tax breaks as growing the economy from a  massive infusion of government cash that left massive debt in its spending wake.

—– Group #3: Target ALL government programs for decreased spending over time (mandate an agency-neutral percentage-based budget cut each year for 10 years), pay as you go congressional budget spending — even if that requires some tax increase (but sunset the tax increase), flatten taxes and remove most exceptions, limit the dollar or percentage value of exemptions, don’t rob from the rich but don’t penalize the working poor either.

So about this article, it offers some good points for thought and debate. One interpretation can also be that much of the fiscal rancor against Obama is hot air. Yes, President Obama has failed to use the leadership power of his office to describe and to outline a path towards fiscal stablity for our country. Yet neither has President Obama been the tax and spend ogre that many have made him out to be.

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2012, Politics, Idealism and Choices … and about Ron Paul, too.

“Ron Paul, for all his faults, is the only Republican who gives a damn about civil liberties and isn’t a neocon warmonger.”
— Bruce Barlett, 2011.12.23

Bruce Bartlett, former Reagan economics guru, 2008 Obama voter, and Ron Paul critic … that Bruce Bartlett.


I accept that Ron Paul will never be able to explain racist comments which appeared in some of his newsletters.

Racism is unacceptable to me. I reject all things racist. However, when I look at the 2012 election options: choices are slim — and that includes whether to vote for President Obama.

For now I will continue to support Ron Paul. He has 30 years of actual votes to consider. Maybe he has some darkness in his heart but when it comes time to vote he is one of the few to vote for liberty for all and to demand actual transparency in our government. … I would vote Huntsman given the chance but he will never appear on my ballot in Virginia so for now I will continue to support our crazy ol’uncle Ron Paul.

Politics makes for strangeness in life.

I am an idealist at heart but we need to admit that idealism doesn’t pay bills, protect your civil rights, guarantee balanced budgets, or prevent wars.

We need to move beyond voting for people that say that would do X, Y and Z given the chance. Inevitably most, once elected, vote the party line or flip due to some ‘new perspective’.

New perspective is good but when has President Obama ever had the backbone to use a veto when he threatened it? And when has he led from the front battlelines of an issue rather than at the 11th hour once the poll results are in?

As for Republicans, may God save us.

Gingrich would be darkness with a grandfatherly face. He would challenge the power of the courts to enforce laws, he would/has shutdown the government to make his point-of-the-day, and he is beholden to those that support him with contributions of hundreds of thousands or recently even a $20,000,000 contribution. Please don’t tell me that Gingrich is the answer. I will vote Obama first.

Perry. Am not voting Perry.

Santorum and Bachman – see Perry. All are social conservatives. If fear of racism is a qualifier for whom you vote then race-based policies are more likely to come from social conservatives than libertarians. Am not accusing any of racism, but since I am discussing Ron Paul and the prospect that racism is the boogeyman that we should fear in 2012, well my thoughts are as stated above.

John Huntsman – yes, could vote for him. He will not appear on Virginia’s state ballot so my remaining option is Romney.

Romney – I could possibly vote Romney but that is not a guarantee. Romney was generally a good governor of Massachusetts but he has repudiated much of what he achieved or previously believed. He is a serial flipflopper. Romney is an opportunist — although a good hearted opportunist. He means well. Yet Romney will veer significantly towards the right if that will get him votes. And he will veer back to the center too if that is where the electorate resides. I like the center, but I don’t like pandering veerers.

Ron Paul – while he is accused of having made racist commentary in his newsletters he is one of the few to have voted against almost every law restricting our rights and freedoms. He did so when only several others in his party had to guts to vote for freedom in the face of fear after 9/11. He has been willing to buck his party on so many occasions that his American Conservative Union (ACU) ranking in the mid-2000s were so low that he qualified as one of the most liberal congressmen in the Republican party. Yes, he is America’s crazy ol’uncle. He says sometimes the most astounding, and upon repeated occasions, maybe even embarrassing things. But his heart is good and his proven action in voting has been predictable and for the greater good.

So yes, I continue to support Ron Paul in 2012. I do so contradictory to many of my ideals. But politics is about more than ideals. It is about working with the cards that you’ve been dealt.

2012 is a year of really, extremely bad choices. So my bad choice is Ron Paul … for now.

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Obama’s Speech and Romney’s Response — Speedy Gonzalez Endorses Romney

Our news cycle gets faster and faster.

Within 30 minutes of President Obama presenting his American Jobs Act overview to Congress the Romney Campaign posted the video below on YouTube. What makes this video unique is that it actually incorporates video from the speech itself — so most definitely someone was being proactive and reactive in equal measures.

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So I’m thinking … about August 2nd and the Debt Ceiling … I blame …

I do not expect a deal. Not a meaningful deal. Not anything that fixes or changes the course of our national deficit or debt and the path that it is on to gobbling up 106 percent of our GDP by 2020 if the CBO is correct.

My disappointment leans heavily towards the Republicans. While no one knows the details of debt negotiations except the negotiators themselves, there are enough leaked details that I am ever so glad that I am not Speaker Boehner.

Whether Speaker Boehner likes to have a few hardy drinks, or drinks hardy, I’m sure that he is looking forward to all of this being over.

Two people are coming out of this looking good, at least in my book: President Obama and Speaker Boehner.

I want a balanced budget; defense included. Yes, a constitutional amendment as part of a grand deal would be good.

I want taxes to be more fair and always lower. But we should pay for those things that we have obligated debt towards.

Let’s eliminate debt by making smart cuts or placing ceilings on program expenses. Let’s make it so that Congress must vote to increase funding for any program that exceeds its projected expense by 5% — whether it is a social program or a defense program.

Let’s … do many things.

But we won’t.

President Obama is in some ways in a great position at the moment. No doubt every day is challenging but he is poised to come out of the Debt Ceiling negotiations looking like the man that was willing to roast his own sacred cows to move the country in the right direction.

Except if he did he would lose the support of much of his own party.

There are no worries about President Obama having to sacrifice himself for the grand deal, however. Speaker Boehner is the one that I worry for. He leads a party that wants no deal and that will try to sabotage anything that looks like a deal. My worry is that the Republicans are being held hostage by their own ideals gone amok. The challenge for Speaker Boehner is ‘who do you trust’ on the Republican side? His majority whip Eric Cantor has pretty much made it known that no deal is the best deal.

So if there is no deal and the economy does well then the Republicans will come off smart looking and will stand a good chance to take it all in 2012.

If there is no deal and the economy crumbles, stumbles or just plain bad happens to us all then Americans will come back on the Republicans with a vengeance that makes 2008 look like just a warmup.

President Obama’s biggest challenge is that he has Democrats on his side.

Speaker Boehner’s biggest challenge is that he leads a party in the midst of a hostile takeover and those that wish to acquire the party have no problem taking out those that can’t adhere to the doctrine of ‘No’.

Chances are that on August 2nd there will be no deal. Or nothing worthy of that name. This is a probability not a possibility in my estimation. While I believe that President Obama is playing at triangulation (and maybe, just maybe hoping for no deal), I will hold the Republicans responsible for anything bad that happens to America as a result.

How we got to this point is one discussion. How we could have gone forward is what we are talking about.

If the economy does not go down in absence of a deal it helps the Right. If the economy becomes even more toxic then so will the Republican Party and it will go down to hard-earned, deserved defeat.

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Reaching national default – the bankrupting of America

Default is default. Debt is debt.

No, President Obama doesn’t have a plan. Not a real one.

While the Republicans do have a plan, their plan effectively pushes the U.S. into financial default while claiming that it does the exact opposite. The claim is that $300B will flow into the government via taxes so therefore it has money. It just needs to prioritize.

Fail.

It is fail because once you fund defense, security and other favorite sacred cows then there is little left to run the country on.

Without some better projected outcome than that the U.S. must immediately curtail approximately 44% of spending just in August.

We should cut. We should adjust. We should do many things — would be glad to give you my list.

Do we need major cuts and spending realignments? Yes!

Yet, cuts must be accompanied by some tax increases for it all to balance. We need to eliminate loopholes. We need to say that deductions on your tax computation still means that you will pay a minimal amount — no matter how many deductions you have. (You can carry unused deductions forward. Use or lose.)

The president needs to stand firm on insisting on some revenue increases but he needs a real plan of his own. Show us the math. So far, President Obama and the Democrats are seriously malfeasant in being leaders.

As for the Republicans: shame, shame, shame.  Constantly wrapping yourself in the flag while pushing the U.S. into default is not a plan. Your plan to ‘starve the beast’ has now reached its zenith. You might have my support if you weren’t so busy worshiping at the alter of profit and being hard hearted about the effects and the empty promises of your policies. What are you really going to do for the average American other than empty their pockets and kill minimum wage given the chance?

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Food Stamp Presidents – Who Holds the Record. Shhh!! There is no beating around the Bush.

Newt Gingrich recently called President Obama ‘the food stamp president‘.

Yes, food stamp usage has gone up under President Obama. It has gone up by about 3,000,000 … the approximate number of people that lost jobs during the Great Recession during President Obama’s portion of the Great Recession.

Umm, ah … however, the record for the greatest growth in food stamps belongs to President George W. Bush.

There were 31.6 million Americans living in poverty in 2000. There were 37 million by 2005, an increase of 5.4 million. That number dipped slightly with the ever so mild economic growth of 2006 and then it hit the skids again in 2007, surging from 36.5 to 37.3 million within 12 months.

What? Doesn’t Gingrich know that we live in a world where you can easily check the numbers?

If you really look at the numbers closely, food stamp usage decreased every year between 1993-2000 and then began almost a constant upward ascent between 2000-2010 — the only jagged edges in these numbers were with the people on the wrong end of the economic magic wand.

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