Archive for the 'Barak Obama' Category

23
Jan
09

Obama’s first mistake

In a post I wrote on election night, I said that “a part of me desperately wants to believe that Obama will be [a] breath of fresh air….[but] I remain profoundly afraid that he’s just not ready for the job.”   I didn’t vote for him, but I hoped that I was wrong about him not being ready, while fearing that I was right.  Today I got my first inkling that I might have been right.

In a front page story written by Joseph Williams and Bryan Bender which appeared in today’s Boston Globe, it was reported how President Obama is apparently ready to sign an executive order suspending trials at Guantanamo Bay, including the trials of the five suspected terrorists who allegedly masterminded the 9/11 attacks, as well as closing the facility altogether in a year’s time.  This is not surprising in itself; he said he would do that when he was running for office.

But here’s the sentence that froze the blood in my veins:  “Longtime advisers on the issue said Obama would probably establish a team to conduct a case-by-case review of the evidence against all 245 detainees remaining at the prison with the aim of sending as many as possible back home” (emphasis mine).

Sending “as many as possible back home”?  As in: let them go free?  Can someone please tell me why this would be a good idea?  The people held prisoner in Gitmo aren’t there because of overdue parking tickets, right?

Look, by all means review the cases as expeditiously as possible.  One can certainly argue that this should have been done already.  If you have evidence against them, try them.  If you don’t, release them.  That’s how our system of justice is supposed to work.  And admittedly, Gitmo has not always worked very well.

But it’s the “aim of sending as many as possible back home” part that’s really scaring me here.  My immediate problem with this is that the 245 are there because they are suspected al-Qaeda, Taliban or other foreign fighters who pose a threat to the United States.  This means it’s a safe bet that they hate America.  I think it’s also a safe bet that the years spent at Gitmo haven’t done much to change that.  So what do you suppose these guys are going to do upon their release?   Well, here’s a wild guess:  they’re probably going to engage in more terrorist activities.

Now I suppose it’s possible that the Globe reporters have somehow gotten it wrong.  There is also talk of relocating these prisoners to Kansas and or Pennsylvania.   This raises another thorny issue:  if we close Gitmo, where do we put them? It seems like nobody wants these guys.

All this really amounts to is a symbolic gesture from Obama (see, world? that bad man George Bush is gone!  It’s OK to like America again!)  Unfortunately, foreign policy isn’t about being liked, it’s about being respected, even feared.  People don’t attack you if they’re afraid of you.  If you have any doubt of that, ask yourself this: when was the last time Russia or China was attacked by terrorists (or anyone else, for that matter)?

I know this all sounds rather bellicose, but that’s just how it is.  Sure, the Bush administration cut corners and was ham fisted in some of its approaches, but stop to consider the difficulty of the job they had.  It would be nice if terrorists would all go around wearing Osama bin Laden t-shirts, but unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way.  The terrorist’s stock in trade is secrecy.  Piercing that veil often takes extraordinary measures.  While you might not have liked the CIA’s tactics, you can’t argue with the results: there have been no terrorist attacks on American soil since 9/11.

This is usually the part where the hand wringers start whining about “torture”, which I always find ironic, given the amount of suffering the victims of the 9/11 attacks must have gone through before they died.  Come to think of it, what is the score on that account?  Let’s see, that would be: People Who Died on 9/11–2,985 vs. People Who Have Died at Gitmo: 0.

Yes, torture, in this case water boarding, isn’t very nice.  But last time I checked, neither is blowing up buildings and killing innocent people.  It amazes and disgusts me that some in this country have more sympathy for terrorists than for their victims.

In a nutshell:  if you have information about past or (more importantly) pending terrorist activities, I want our government to get that information out of you, by any means necessary.  Now since I’m basically a softie, I’m all in favor of giving you the chance to volunteer this information, well, voluntarily.  But if it turns out that the only reason you’re giving up this information is because it’s the only way you can think of to stop the pain, I’m fine with that.  Almost 3,000 people (maybe more) died on 9/11.  If subjecting you to some temporary discomfort will prevent that from happening again, then so be it.

I still have hopes that Obama will be a good president, but as far as I’m concerned, he’s off to a bad start with this one.  If he closes Guantanamo, he has made the world a more dangerous place for all of us.

-Smith

13
Nov
08

Get healthy, or else!

cheese-puffs

I read this rather disturbing article in the Associated Press today, in which it is reported that “Manchester is hoping to fight fat with a reward system that works like a retail loyalty card. But instead of earning credit for opening their wallets, residents will be rewarded for keeping their feet on the treadmill and their fridge stocked with healthy food.”

Now, on the surface, this might seem like a good idea. Heck, I could stand to lose a few myself, and who wouldn’t want to be rewarded simply for doing the right thing? But if you look a little under the surface, this becomes troubling.

First and foremost, I have a problem with the government sticking their nose into my personal life, no matter how benevolent the motive may seem. It’s a short but steep slope from “We’ll reward you for being healthy” to “Get healthy, or else!” Right now, they’re offering the carrot, but who’s to say that once we accept this latest incarnation of Nanny government that the carrot won’t be replaced with a big and expensive stick. For example, what’s to stop the government from offering two tax tables, one for people who meet its definition of “healthy”, and those who don’t. As an overweight man who loves to smoke, I know which table I’d be paying under.

“Ah Ha!”, you say. “Smith, you big fat smoker you, you’re a drain on the health care system! Look at me: I’m a non-smoking vegetarian who runs five miles a day! You and those like you should be like me!”

To which I say: that’s the price you pay to live in a FREE COUNTRY. (Remember that phrase?) You have to put up with my bad habits and I have to put up with yours. Chances are, you are not entirely vice free yourself. And even if you are, I have news for you: unless you get hit by a bus, you too will grow old and become a drain on the health care system. It happens to almost all of us.  Your wonderful “healthy lifestyle” won’t save you in the end.

Those who believe in the Nanny government and who wish to control us realize that they cannot do so without uniting people against a common enemy. For Hitler, it was the Jews. For McCarthy it was the Communists. For Nanny government advocates, it is: Bad Health. These people feel they can enact all manner of government intrusion into people’s lives, as long as it is being done in the name of Good Health.  Good Health has become our new Golden Idol.

And for some of you who were nonplussed at my recent post about the 2008 election, know this: this is exactly why I have never voted Democrat. It is why I remain profoundly concerned about the Obama presidency. This sort of thing is far, far more likely to occur in the United States under a Democratic government.

Says Timothy Armstrong, coordinator of the World Health Organization’s global strategy on diet, and quoted in the same article, “I haven’t seen any evidence that it works, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try it…as public health officials we really don’t have the luxury of waiting to see what works and what doesn’t. We really do know that, in terms of curbing the obesity epidemic, all of society needs to play a role”.

It takes a village, right Timothy? And naturally, this is being funded by (who else?) the taxpayers.

Just so no one gets the wrong idea here, let me state flat out that I realize that this program is benign and well meant. And yes, I realize it’s happening in England, but our two countries are so closely linked culturally that it’s no stretch to imagine it happening here. Just look at what the Boston Public Health Commission is trying to get away with. People are getting fatter (probably because they’ve stopped smoking). But I become deeply troubled when the government starts using its leverage to try to force me to live a certain way, because I realize how quickly and easily the can change from benevolent cajoling to a direct order.  I believe that, deep down, the Nancy Pelosi’s of the world don’t really want to be agreed with, they want to be obeyed.  Once people allow themselves to buy into the idea that Nanny government is taking care of them, anything is possible. “Get healthy, or else!”.

Now where did I put those Cheesey Puffs?

-Smith

07
Nov
08

In case you were wondering…..

The picture below pretty much sums up my feelings about the soon to be Obama presidency……

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924771537

05
Nov
08

Thanks a lot, George!

american-flag

I saw this coming two years ago. Don’t believe me? Then read this post I wrote almost exactly two years ago.

At the time, I honestly believed the Republicans would answer the wake up call. That they would learn a bitter lesson from the pasting they suffered in 2006. Obviously, I was wrong.

The farcical administration of George W. Bush has given the Democrats their most resounding victory in decades. In what can only be seen as an excoriating indictment not only of the Bush administration, but of the Republican party in general, America has elected an ultra-liberal Democrat with less than four years experience at the federal level. The Democrats have also achieved a stranglehold on both houses of Congress.

In the meantime, Sarah Palin can go back to honing her foreign policy skills by looking across the Bering Strait.

Republicans had their chance and blew it, big time. From January of 2001 until November of 2006, they controlled both houses, while also enjoying the luxury of a Republican president. They had the perfect opportunity to show the Democrats and Liberals alike how it was done. Instead, the Bush years will be remembered as a colossal failure, the arrogance of this administration exceeded only by its incompetence.

The Republican party is supposed to be the party of small(er) government, low taxes, and a thriving economy. The idea was that if you gave corporate America free rein, it would result in prosperity and a robust economy, which in turn would result in a better life for the Americans who worked for these companies. This is an idea I have supported since I’ve been old enough to vote. I believe in the capitalist ideal.

But what we got instead was corporate CEO’s earning 7 and 8 figure salaries while simultaneously cutting employee benefits or eliminating their jobs altogether. Under eight years of George W. Bush, corporate America was given free rein, but it seems as though the only ones who benefited were the CEO’s and the stockholders. And now, even the stockholders are sucking wind.

We got two wars which will not end any time soon, due in part to this administration’s insistence on waging them on the cheap. Now we have an economy in shambles. All George Bush’s fault? Of course not. But these things happened under his watch, and the American people have laid the blame at his doorstep, while showing the Republicans the door.

Americans finally had enough, and gave corporate America and its Republican enablers a collective “Up Yours!”.

While I honestly don’t think we will become a Socialist state, as many alarmists have already predicted, we are no doubt entering an era in which the government, at the explicit request of the American people, will now play a greater role in our lives, for better or for worse. Big Brother Obama wants to “spread the wealth”, which is a nice way of saying he’s going to stick his hand deeper into our pockets. Under an Obama administration, I can certainly see us moving more toward the European model of quasi-socialism, with higher taxes and (perhaps) greater social services. National health insurance may not be that far off. Whether or not that can be accomplished without further decimating the economy remains to be seen. I’m not necessarily saying I welcome this development, but it’s coming just the same. And Republicans have no one to blame but themselves.

But in any event, at least I can say I was a witness to history. And it must be noted that Obama was not only elected by black America, but by white America. Surely that, at least, is something that might give one hope for the future. And I remain ever grateful that I live in a country where, when the election is over, the two candidates practically fall all over themselves trying to say nice things about each other, and the two parties at least try to work together. In many countries, the losers get taken out behind a wall and shot. Most importantly, I am grateful that I live in a country where the will of the people–even when I don’t agree with it–really does count for something.

America needs a breath of fresh air. Now that his election is a fait accompli, a part of me desperately wants to believe that Obama will be that breath of fresh air. I didn’t vote for him, but I do want him to succeed. We simply can’t afford four more years of Presidential failure. But as I watched him deliver his acceptance speech, I was struck, as I have always been, by his youth, and I remain profoundly afraid that he’s just not ready for the job.

I hope I’m wrong. I say: God bless Barak Obama. He’s going to need all the help he can get.

-Smith




taking up a glowing cinder with the tongs and lighting with it the long cherry-wood pipe which was wont to replace his clay when he was in a disputatious rather than a meditative mood" ~ Dr. John H. Watson ************************
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