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Entries in Barack Obama (5)


Sore losers strike back?

Special Snowflake Soledad O'Brien, Wasserman Schultz beg for viewers; Twitter users would rather have root canal

Citizens From 18 States Ask Obama to Secede From the Union
(They're asking politely--why can't we oblidge them?)

Democrat-Boycotting Libertarian Eric Dondero on Whether He Would Let a Democrat Drown

To call those who are rubbed raw about President Obama's reelection victory, maladjusted is a polite characterization of their behavior.

Somehow they pretend that the Republicans hadn't tried to outright disenfranchise voters and buy the election to win.

They've been spared a dishonest victory. Who takes sincere pleasure in winning by cheating? Doesn't winning at any cost illustrate the saddest, most pathetic instincts there are in human behavior?


No matter who wins, the voters lose

And the loss is self-inflicted.

Already conversations are underway about presidential race for year 2016. More often than not, voters who complain and write off the political process will not engage with other voters in the effort required to draft a candidate to run for office.

Instead, most voters will wait around over the next four years, looking in from the outside as party leaders, loaded campaign contributors and political operatives decide what candidates will be "viable"--worthy of their support, primarily; then there is that secondary consideration--will voters support them?

For once can't we, the people, do the foot work for a presidential candidate that makes the exploratory committee and party machinery obsolete? Voters have the numbers to make this a reality; lacking only the coordination and political will.

How goes the cliche? If you don't vote you have no right to complain. And complaining never drew any voter closer to the decision making process that nominates and ultimately elects a candidate president.


Are you citizen enough?

The word is in from rank and file opinion makers evaluating President Barack Obama`s speech Thursday night, accepting the Democratic Party's nomination for president.

In spite of the consensus that the president gave a defensive, lukewarm speech, he offered one very crucial idea. Consider it a planted seed whose growth will depend mostly upon the efforts of voters--a notion reinforced throughout his speech.

Taking the word citizenship, President Obama redefined its scope as a criticism of the extremist wing of the Republican Party. Calling it "a word at the very heart of our [nation's] founding, at the very essence of our democracy", the president went on to expand its meaning. Its significance bounds beyond the relationship an American has with his or her country.

Citizenship means that "this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another, and to future generations." Yes, the statement could benefit from specifics, but it can be wielded in two ways.

First, it is a rebuke of the libertarian idea that privileges individual freedom above all else--even over accountability to community and government. This arrangement may please a few of the anarchy-minded, but it has never represented the United States at its best. (A well-known political leader with a libertarian bent has questioned the morality of desegregated lunch counters if the restaurant owner opposes them.)

Second, it works as a pointed jab at the fanatical "birther" movement--those motley masters of suspicion who cannot countenance the documented reality that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii after it joined the United States as the fiftieth. Redefining citizenship calls attention to the shameful way the "birthers" have squandered their own citizenship for a cause that veils their own deeply held prejudice.

The irony in all this is that it took a man who has been wrongly, incessantly accused of not being a citizen, to reconstitute the meaning of citizenship.

Throughout his speech, President Obama reminded supporters about their participation as voters and activists, making possible the gains achieved by his administration. "You were the reason," he insisted repeatedly, "You did that."

This isn't just some pivot from the "Yes, we can!" chant that seasoned campaign events back in 2008. The refrain, "You did that!" is meant to remind voters how indispensable their input and participation are to the political process.

Though there's lots of hollering and tally making over the big game known as campaign fund raising, how can average income voters ever get a word in edge-wise?

This brings the conversation back to the word citizenship, the idea of citizens acknowledging their obligation to one another, their mutuality. To be very specific, a voter must think of  impact his or her vote has on their peers when casting the ballot.

In today's electoral politics, there is no greater urgency than voters working together to bridge the influence gap between wealthy elite interests, who can buy an election, and everyone else.



Atlas Schmuck

If there is one word that invalidates Ayn Rand's blubbering worship of individual achievement, it would be "exposure". It is a term used in the investment and finance worlds, describing the vulnerability a portfolio, institution or industry can endure in times of uncertainty. It conveys a relative link between two parties that can chain react adversely throughout entire industries, even economies. It wields no stoic or heroic connotation--unlike the feigned bravery of Ayn Rand's discourse.

How ironic that it is a word used or applied by her most influential, most well-known acolyte: former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan.

He used the term whenever updating the US government on the state of the economy. Pointedly, he used it when making the case to bail out hedge fund Long Term Capital Markets back in Sept. 1998. Failure to prop it up would have caused the collapse of several sovereign economies. That is interdependence at work.

Day in and day out, the market--that oracle of capitalist virtue--bears this out. Trouble in Iran sends oil futures through the roof, spiking the price of gas; Greek debt turbulance reverberates throughout the bond market.

Think of the mortgage securities meltdown: if those toxic investments had stayed with the originator of the loan, the damage would have  remained localized to a region, even possibly within a few industries.  It wasn't the case, here. They were sold to pension funds, mutual funds  and various other institutional investors who saw their assets circle the drain of the hemorrhaging pools of loans. This explains why lots of individual 401ks took such a devastating hit: because of their exposure to the high-risk mortgage assets.

Take reality at the interpersonal level--there are any number of factors that shape how much success an individual can achieve: personal aptitude, financial status, quality of education, social mobility, economic enviromment are just a few. Because some have achieved much working against the greatest odds, it is deeply naive to argue that all can--and stupid to call lazy, those who can't.

President Obama was right to give the business world a reality check--no, you didn't build that (on your own)--as was candidate for US Senate, Elizabeth Warren, when she spoke of a "social contract" businesses enter when launching and operating. They benefit from an infrastructure and labor pool all citizens and businesses pay into through taxes.

Former President Bill Clinton, speaking at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte last night, made the case for cooperation far more succinctly: we're in this together if the whole country is to succeed again.

Leaders like Republican VP nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan, should take responsibility for arguing otherwise: you're on your own (words, by the way, never uttered to corporate welfare recipients like oil and defense industries). They have no interest in the whole country succeeding. Like Ayn Rand, they're caught up in the adolescent fantasy of living in a world that bends to the force of their individual wills.


When money is no longer coin of the republic

It is strangely comforting to watch as the Barack Obama campaign for re-election gets the short end of the fund raising stick. For the third consecutive month the Mitt Romney camp, along with its super pac surrogates, raked in millions more than than the incumbent president's organization. Too big to succeed could be one factor among others that buries Mitt Romney's campaign. Go ask Meg Whitman.

However, if Romney's financial braun prevails, then take a page from the things-must-get-worse-before-they-get-better manual. It would better serve this nation's long-term interests, for voters to watch the torrents of money washing into the election process--amplifying the echoplex of crass attack ads on radio and television. Then the electorate can go on pretending as though their influence over elections and governmental policy isn't already outspent into oblivion.

So, why not question our election culture's prevailing philosophy? That money makes the candidate? Yeah, okay--what about debating policy ideas? What values will prevail? And what happened to the one-citizen-one-vote fairness among all eligible voters?

Who has time for such quaint ideas? Mere distractions beneath the high-octane roar of the money derby.

Indeed, free speech is at stake here. If the corporations aren't allowed to wield their exploding bill folds to prop up either candidate--or both--then the First Amendment stands vulnerable to the tyranny of... democracy.

No matter which side you take on the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, arguing that the fundraising gap matters reinforces the delusional notion that money matters more than the exerted will of a U.S. citizenry. So, how long it will take for a plurality of voters to decide they are under no obligation to choose between bought-off Candidate A and greasy-palmed Candidate B--who knows?

However, it is fascinating that both the Romney and Obama camps go so far as credit small donors--those giving $250 or less--for comprising well over 90% of donations received respectively.

If that's truly the case (one can dream, no?) why shouldn't the presidential candidates and their supporters come to an election-landscape-titling the consensus? Why not adopt the $250 level as a campaign finance maximum? Why shouldn't voters demand it if both the incumbant and challenger are willing to acknowledge the measure of small donors' participation?

If ever such an opportunity emerged--that would be the day when votes became the coin of the republic.