Posts Tagged: Obama

May 16

Obama Works Toward Nuclear Disarmament. Is He a Good Man?

“Obama’s Hiroshima visit strengthens his call for nuclear disarmament” says the headline from the Guardian.

And yes some powerful people really do work for a better world.

You think Pres Obama’s support of the new pacific trade agreement is bad? Could be. But he insists it requires new environmental rules and in the long run will help America, pushing back against Chinese trade dominance. He also feels it’s an “on balance” thing–this has deficits for us but *on balance* it will help the economy over the long haul. He could be wrong! But that’s what he thinks: a gain for American in the long run.

You think his use of drones to take out al Qaeda, Taliban, and Isis operatives is bad? He’s changed the protocol for it to try his best to reduce civilian casualties and they’re doing far fewer of the strikes now. He feels that he has to keep terrorist organizations off balance and that it’s having a beneficial effect overall. I will guess that he feels that ethically it’s the best outcome in the long run; that it’s overall a gain for the world at large as well as Americans. I would guess that someone gets chewed out, or fired, when he finds out there was a sloppy targeting. Maybe he’s WRONG to authorize drone strikes. But it’s evident to me he sincerely believes it will be a gain for everyone over all, to take out terrorist and extremist leadership. The intended targets are, after all, people who advocate throwing acid in the faces of young girls for wanting an education.

Going back, his use of Wall Street connected people in his administration–he felt that in order to get banks and other investors *investing* again, he had to open up dialogue with them through intermediaries, and show he wasn’t hostile, even though he was pushing reforms. Maybe he wasn’t tough enough–or maybe the GOP blocked his efforts at tougher reform. They certainly blocked his jobs program.

Did he make a mistake on fracking? I think so. I think fracking’s going to be banned state by state in this country. He can make mistakes. But the guy is sincerely trying to work for a better world.

May 15

Obama and the Trans Pacific Trade Deal: An Interpretation

Obama catches a lot of flak from the left for his advocacy of the TPP, the Trans Pacific Trade deal. It’s true it’s not yet entirely out in the open–apparently because they’re still not sure of all its components–but the Obama administration claims, “The administration is seeking rules that require countries to provide workers with fundamental rights “as well as new protections for importing goods made with forced labor, adopting laws on acceptable conditions of work and upholding labor standards in export processing zones…The Obama administration has insisted that labor provisions be at the core of the agreement, subject to full dispute settlement and the full range of trade sanctions.” (TheHill dot com… ) – However…

Senator Warren says it’s feeble and too general on those issues and environmental issues and doesn’t go far enough.

Obama seems to be a pragmatist who goes for a deal, in Congress or internationally, that gives him some “profit”, some headway, though it’s not always dramatic headway, rather than holding out for something he’s not likely to get. It’s a tactic and it may be a good one sometimes, may be unnecessarily defeatist at other times. I’m not sure anyone knows except perhaps future historians. One thing he seems to be hoping for, with the TPP, is a stimulation of the American economy through an increase of exports. This in turn suggests more incentive for manufacturing within the USA. Which means more American jobs. Whether or not the TPP will deliver that, I don’t know. I can’t see that far ahead–I hope he can. One thing I feel sure of is that this is not a sweetheart deal with international business interests–it’s more like negotiating with the mafia; that is, when you are, in the short term, unable to get rid of the gangsters, you make a deal.

Nov 14

The President is Driving a REALLY Big Truck and Sitting Beside Him Is…

I don’t agree with Pres Obama about everything–HOWEVER, people who feel he’s too moderate, not forcefully progressive enough, make me think of a guy sitting beside the driver of a large truck. The truck is being driven across a busy, traffic heavy city to deliver its goods. “But you’re heading north and the delivery point is to the west,” the passenger protests.

“I have to take the truck north before I can turn west because it’s too large for these side streets and they aren’t cut through anyway.”

A bit later the passenger asks, “But now that you’re headed West why don’t you accelerate?”

“Because there’s cross traffic, and there is construction and there are traffic cops stopping me for long periods and because there are small vehicles in the way going slowly.”

“This is taking too long.”

“We’re getting there.”

“Why don’t you ram the truck to the west, just smash over those cars, you’re driving a big truck after all, and crash through the fences.”

“Because that would crush people and destroy other people’s legitimate personal property and I’d be arrested before I got there for breaking the laws.”

“You’re not forcefully progressive enough.”

May 14


Some are saying the VA scandal is a gift from heaven to conservatives–it kind of is. It is shaping up to be the biggest problem of the Obama administration. Of course, President Obama never said, “Make lists of people to delay so you can look like you’re processing more people”. He ordered them to speed things up. They did it the wrong way, at some hospitals. BUT President Obama could have been more pro active in appointing people to oversee the VA issues. The Atlantic states that the Obama’s administration’s tendency to go hard on military related whistle blowers suppressed people who might have blown the whistle on this before it became a scandal. Maybe.

Certainly, he failed to be detail oriented enough in the VA situation. (I remember that Jimmy Carter was faulted by conservatives for being too detail oriented.) Pres Obama has been, like all presidents, prioritizing. He probably is too decent a guy to imagine that this kind of thing (which may be exaggerated but is surely bad enough anyway) would be possible in a VA hospital. He’ll pay the price for having too much faith in his bureaucrats. It’ll be cleaned up, and he’ll finish his administration. But it’s something he should have made a bigger priority.

Aug 13

The Lesser of Evils. Yes. So?

There are no good choices with Syria. Doing nothing and letting them sort it out was just bearable until we saw rows of children who’d died a horrible, painful death through Sarin nerve gas.

I am satisfied that Assad’s regime is behind the nerve gas attacks. Death from nerve gas is not particularly quick. It is terrifying, agonizing. If you survive the nerve gas it changes your DNA. It affects every corner of your being forever. It will affect children you may have…Nerve gas is the most indiscriminate of killers in war, apart from, perhaps, the hydrogen bomb. It is, yes, significantly worse than missiles. It has been forbidden by international treaty for half a century. If we permit it to be used again, with impunity, others will get in line to use it. If we do just enough–take out some artillery emplacements, aircraft, and so on–to give the rebels the edge, they stand a good chance of overthrowing Assad. It is not true that the rebels are “a bunch of al Qaeda operatives”. There are thought to be some Jihadists among them. They have factions. It may be that if the rebels win, Syria becomes a hardline Muslim state and that’s bad. But it’s not as bad as allowing the torture and the slaughter–the latter through executions, mass murders, the shelling of civilian areas, and now the use of nerve gas against civilians, and children–to go on. One million Syrian children have fled the country–were the war over, they could return home. The resultant nation would not be ideal–but it would be at peace…

The USA’s minor, selective, pinpoint military involvement in the Syrian conflict is *not* engaging in war. It may be technically engaging in “warfare”. That is not war. War is gigantic, war is a juggernaut. Make no mistake. War is its own special condition. Our engagement in Iraq was war. This will not be us making war. It will be militarily minor. No Americans will be harmed and no civilians targeted.

Is it merely “the lesser of evils?” Yes. So? Who wishes to vote for the greater of evils?

Aug 13

The United States, Syrian govt use of Nerve Gas…and our Options

This morning it became clear that the President is seriously thinking of militarily intervening in Syria–because it’s now coming clear that men, women and children are being killed by Sarin nerve gas there. One key remark he made (paraphrasing here) is that “It is a threat to the security of the USA when people are using nerve gas anywhere.”… People talk as if Egypt, Syria, the middle east in general, is all part of the USA. “Why doesn’t the President do something more about Egypt?” Egypt is not Missouri or Oregon. It is a foreign country so he can only do so much. And he can only do so much about Syria…But there were hints in his remarks today that *if the UN approves* he’s going to intervene in some way. …President Clinton said that his own greatest policy mistake in office was not doing anything about Rwanda when it was clear that genocide was taking place there. He regrets it… But these aren’t American states–so why do we have to take responsibility? Because we can. And because no one else is doing so, in any major way. Re Egypt, our military intervention doesn’t make sense; I suspect the Pres will suspend military aid to the present govt there… Re Syria, there’s no other way–military intervention is the only course of conscience…If the President intervenes, many on the left and some on the right (like Rand Paul) may object. “Warmonger!” If he doesn’t intervene militarily, many other people of all camps may be horrified with the consequences and howl, “Why didn’t he intervene?” He has just said that international law prevents military intervention by the USA *unless the UN votes to allow it*. If they do, I think he’ll use pinpoint military intervention: a No fly zone, carefully placed missiles–*perhaps* the use of special forces in some small operations *if* he can reliably locate the whereabouts of Assad. I think that, with UN backing, simply taking out Assad and his closest backers… this man who’s ordered the use of Sarin nerve gas on civilians…is appropriate.