Obama has brought the country together.
This is the answer many people provide when asked, “what has he done so far?”
It’s an interesting question, which deserves more than a silly, half-baked answer, like this, so I thought in the spirit of “coming together,” I would have a look at the things he’s done right, the things he’s done wrong and the things he’s done which don’t seem like they have any rhyme or reason.
First we can probably rule out anything that is unspecific, like “he’s so cool, and he’s bringing everyone together” – or “he’s the anti-Christ and he’s selling us all to China.”
I will also list some things in both the good and bad categories, because it depends on who you are and what the circumstances might be. You may hate him for a thing or love him for a thing, but that doesn’t mean he’s cutting-the-mustard with anyone else. So read everything all the way through before you jump on the “hate Jolly bandwagon.” I have no opinion that I’m aware of - unless I do. But in this case, I’m just creating a list to mark the times. You, the reader must judge what fits your belief system.
I also do not believe one thing over another – except for those instances where I do. You figure it out.
I’m hitting the byways of the Information Super-highway for this one, folks. Sorry. The entrance to the damned thing was right here in my living room, so I thought I would roll this jalopy on and see where the road takes me – metaphorically speaking. Like an old Harley, it may not get me very far, but I’ll look good while I’m getting there.
So far, Obama has done the following:
Reversed a Bush executive order so that stem-cell research will now be allowed and government funded. Could be good; the resulting research might solve some very horrible medical scenarios - could be very bad, too, creating some horrible medical scenarios. Does this reversal produce the effect of embryo-farming? In other words, opponents of this process might believe women on the dole could get pregnant to make money dealing in aborted children. Yep. Not a pretty picture, I know. It is important to note that recent research has suggested a number of ways in which stem cells could be harvested – and they don’t necessitate the taking of a fetus. Possibly even normal skin cells may be reprogrammed to become stem cells.
Reversed a Bush executive order to allow for government funding of abortions throughout the world. Might be bad – might be good. I’m not the one to ask. Ask God, ask your priest, ask your doctor, ask your shrink, ask the 13-year-old rape victim. This is a horrific question. But consider this – he reversed that order almost immediately, displaying a remarkable johnny-on-the-spot decision-making ability. But now, faced with the question of either “doubling-down” in Afghanistan, or pulling out entirely - both which would save or lose lives, he vacillates. Both items deal with life and death, but on one he makes an instant choice and the other, he doesn't. Life is often what you want it to be. Some people believe some amazing and disturbing things. Abortion is a serious subject for serious consideration. The question really is, "what do you believe."
Reversed an executive order that refused the presence of the press when our fallen soldiers' caskets arrive back into the country. The new order leaves the presence of the media up to the families of the dead. – I’m going to suggest this can be both good and bad, because while I personally might believe the press can go to Hell, and some soldiers may not have anyone to speak for them (or their families may not get that memo in their time of grief), there is another side to this. The reality of war, is that some of us (maybe the best of us) return home on our shields. Those folks being defended, should not hide from the reality that someone else sacrificed for them – they should live and love twice as hard to honor that sacrifice. And as a people, we should perhaps be faced with the images of the returning dead, and honor their memory, however that is best served.
This reversal, however, may have been a political decision meant to put a bad face on the action our military was being called on to take - basically a thumb in the eye of the previous administration. I don't know. I think if this is the case - that the bodies of our boys and girls are being used for politics - then those who are using them are the worst kind of worms. And remember, the AP recently ran photos of a dying Marine, against the wishes of his father. To me that suggests civilian journalists are being given too much access. But this is a personal view and not an objective one. What would your choice be? That is the only real question, and it frames the only real answer.
Signed the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 – Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP)– was an amendment to Internal Revenue Code of 1986 - literally tons of money poured onto the grateful heads of big bankers to save their sorry butts, leaving the regular folks footing the bill. Now, it would seem, that much of this money is not being used as it was intended, or was spent in the “good-ol’-boy” system, frittered away. This was a bad thing in my book - a useless expenditure.
Signed the Economic Stimulus Bill of 2008 into law – There were two of these – only one was signed on Bush's clock and one on Obama’s watch. Allegedly this prevented economic collapse by injecting funds into the system to get banks lending again, etc. The trouble is, no one can prove it did a damned thing. Bummer. So I’m having some difficulty in both seeing the “shovel-ready jobs,” or seeing the millions of jobs this allegedly saved. Unemployment figures continue to climb and hyper-inflation looms. Probably we can mark this up into the "bad" category.
Signed the Omnibus Bill into law. – Funding for the federal government to operate basically “business as usual.” This kind of document is signed by every president, every year, in order for the U.S. government to operate. Same crap. Different day.
Appointed 44 “czars” – special assistants to the president, which operate basically outside of our normal U.S. system as described by the Constitution. Basically each one of these folks reports directly to the president and essentially does work paid for by the the U.S. taxpayer. Only eight are confirmed by the Senate. But as a whole, our czar network covers the following: Afghanistan, AIDS, Auto recovery, behavioral science, border, California Water, Cars, central region, climate, copyright, counter-terrorism, cyber-security, disinformation, domestic violence, drugs, economic, education, energy and environment, faith-based, food, government performance, Great lakes, green jobs, Guantanamo closure, health, information, intelligence, Latin America, Mideast peace, Mideast policy, pay, regulatory, safe-schools, science, stimulus accountability, Sudan, TARP, technology, terrorism, trade, urban affairs, war, weapons, WMD policy.
Now, I’m going to go out on a limb here and call this "bad." I Didn’t like it with the 47 czars Bush had, and I don’t like it now. If we need this many people to check and make sure our fly is zipped-up, we probably shouldn’t go out in public. Advisors are great, but how can you hope to assimilate this much data – you have to basically rely on faith for some of this – and that makes the "Faith-based czar" really important. But the stimulus guy might have already screwed up, so maybe that Turkey is cooked – along with the duck and chicken entitled, "Mideast peace" and "Mideast Policy." In fact in the South, you have a special dish titled “Turducken.” Look it up. I believe it describes this situation well – a chicken stuffed into a duck, which is then inserted into a Turkey. Bake until golden brown and a safe internal temperature is reached.
Directed military leaders to end war in Iraq – Got to be done sometime. I’m calling this one a good thing on one hand. It’s expensive in lives to remain, and the hand-holding has probably gone on long enough. However, our troops did the impossible. They created a viable nation out of chaos. But I also believe, unless you’ve been there, you should shut up. So I will. The President has said “as plainly” as he can, “by August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end.” Don’t know what that means. Does that mean those troops still there will be involved in a “police action?” Might be a bad thing, then. He’s planning on leaving a “residual force of 50,000 troops.” That job is really going to suck.
Sent two additional brigades to Afghanistan. – yep, but without more, it becomes another Somalia. With a troop surge, we can back our boys and girls up, and might hammer the Taliban back down. Sounds like a plan – to me. Evidently, it doesn’t yet sound like a plan to our President.
Gave speech at a major Islamic forum in the first 100 days of his administration, as promised. Unfortunately, that speech is one of more than 200 he has given on some of the following subjects: economy, health care, Iraq, foreign policy, the Muslim World – and of course, the unforgettable “Beer Summit.” I think the beer thing was way more successful that the 2009 Presidential Apology Tour, kicked off with the Muslim World speech.
Granted Americans unrestricted rights to visit family and send money to Cuba. I don’t know if it lifts the restrictions on the fabled Cuban cigar – and I’ve never had one, so I’m not sure it matters, but for those families who have been separated by policy, this matters a great deal. On the flip-side, Cuba is run by Fidel Castro and brother, Raul. Remember the Bay of Pigs? How about the whole Communism, Soviet thing? That silly missile crisis? What about the Sandinistas, etc.? The Castro guys were also crappy on human rights. They have killed many since 1959 – an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 according to Genocide Watch. I'm not inviting them to dinner, even if they send me a box of cigars.
Pushed for enactment of the Matthew Shepard Act, which expands hate crime law to include sexual orientation and other factors. Good. Hate is hate – however you want to slice it. You want to hurt other people because you hate them, you need to visit with the behavioral science czar, or one of their minions. Basically, find yourself a good shrink, my friend, or if you're into religion, look to your scripture – something like “woe to you hypocrites…first cast out the log from your own eye, so that you may see well enough to get the splinter out of your brother’s eye” - Matthew 7:35, Luke 6:42. And I know you biblical folks will get all serious on me and want to extend this argument into lots of unsavory areas, but really - enough said. Your views are your own - and I'm not foisting mine on you, so lay off. On the other hand, if you want to borrow one of my views because you don't have one of your own, feel free.
Banned lobbyist gifts to executive employees – yeah, right. Believe that one? Call me. I’ll sell you something – like a parcel of land on the Moon, or a bottle of air. Insects get into and around everything. Lobbyists are insects.
Pledged to weatherize one million homes per year. Yep. Believe that one when they replace my windows or wrap my house in cellophane. It’s not going to happen, so I think I’ll just keep saving money for that one and go down to Lowes myself. Besides you can pledge anything, and it doesn’t mean squat. For example I could pledge that I will end this article in the next sentence. Won’t happen. See what I mean? Of course, those were sentence fragments, so they didn’t really count, but this one does.
Invested in all types of alternative energy. Nope. Didn’t see one mention of turning pig poop into electricity, and I know they can do it. I saw it on Mad Max – Beyond Thunderdome with Tina Turner and Mel Gibson. So when Obama gets on the poop wagon, I will give him due credit. I would also suggest that the coal miners didn’t get much of a fair shake, and coal is still an alternative, isn’t it?
Enacted tax credit for consumers with plug-in hybrid cars. OK, now my 1973 Stingray could be considered hybrid because it has a lot of Chinese parts and I can carry plants and flowers in the passenger seat. I also have to hook the battery up to a “battery keeper” to maintain a good charge. So doesn’t that count? As it seems to fulfill both requirements, I wonder where my tax credit is? This calls into question the whole affair, doesn’t it?
Look, there’s more this guy has allegedly done, like expanding loan programs for small businesses - blah, blah - but most of the small business people I run into aren’t feeling the love. Or there’s the funding expansion to train primary care providers and public health practitioners. How do you measure that? Sounds like more bottled air.
But my favorite alleged accomplishment of Obama is the following: He released presidential records.
That’s one for the record books.