Saturday, October 24, 2009

What a Difference a year or few makes.

"I just have to remind everybody — I know the campaign got fun, but those of you who were there early — you remember that? When nobody could pronounce my name?... We all remember, back in the very beginning, a lot of people said having hope was naive You remember that?" AUDIENCE: "Yes!" THE PRESIDENT: "That our faith in this country was misplaced. There’s a whole industry feeding cynicism and skepticism, and promoting a notion of, well, it hasn’t happened yet so it’s not going to happen. And for a while, you remember, those folks looked like they were right. You remember? Until we proved them wrong. Until we proved there isn’t anything false about hope. Until we proved that in America nothing can withstand the power of millions of voices that are calling for change. That’s the spirit that we need right now."

The President spoke to an Organizing for America fundraiser at the Hammerstein Ballroom in the New York City on October 20th. My friend (whose donations got me in the joint) and I sat in the Upper Balcony watching, listening and recording (shhh.) as a relaxed President Obama delivered a speech that addressed where we've come from, what has been accomplished, and what we have ahead of Us after his first nine months in office. The speech, primarily addressing health "insurance" reform, addressed critics from the left. One anonymous audience member shouted "single payer" , to which the President delivered a retort with the refrain "the bill you least like" that started with "the one you least like of the five that are out there would provide 29 million Americans health care — 29 million Americans who don’t have it right now would get it" followed by the much quoted since (in blogland, at least), "You know, sometimes Democrats can be their own worst enemies. Democrats are an opinionated bunch. You know, the other side, they just kind of — sometimes — do what they’re told. Democrats, you all are thinking for yourselves. I like that in you. But it’s time for us to make sure that we finish the job here. We are this close. And we’ve got to be unified." And to the critics on the right Obama hit with a "what I reject is when some folks decide to sit on the sidelines and root for failure on health care" and his newly crafted "Grab a Mop!" (and "Help us clean up this mess") bit. (A slogan that my mom thinks should be used by Active Democrats, the way "tea bag" was used by the minority of the minority party)

A year or few ago, stopping and arresting "terrorist plotters" (in NYC and Boston) would have been met with fanfare and a general lauding of the President for "keeping us safe" (with faux news taking the lead). A year or few ago, Alaskan wilderness was in greater danger of being drilled for oil than of being preserved for polar bear habitats. A year or few ago, opposing minority members were not yelling at the President of the United States during one of his Few addresses to Congress and gunmen were not tolerated at Protests (wooden dowels to hold up signs weren't). A year or few ago, there was still a discussion on water boarding, stem cells, the need for guantanamo bay, not to mention, getting out of the war of choice in Iraq. I realize that the list of everything the progressive left (me included) wants has yet to be addressed. All the promises that Candidate Obama made have yet to be completed. But a year or few ago would an extension of hate crimes to include sexual orientation ever get through Congress or be signed by the President (failure 43 threatened to rewrite the Constitution to discriminate against homosexuals)? Would the government be planning to cut upper corporate management's pay? Would criticism of the President be seen as un-American or dissent and debate (no matter how ludicrous the claims, unfortunately )? Would Congress be doing their job discussing and formulating legislation or would they just be doing their party's president's bidding?

So yeah, has Barack Obama saved the world? No, but the world does have a much more favorable opinion of us. Has he saved the United States? No, though you don't hear the Great Depression talk very much anymore, even house sales are starting to trend in the right direction. Has he saved the Earth? No, but Major strides have been made in mileage and emission standards already. And he's "just getting started!"

More on President 44's first year and how it compares to other presidents when it's closer to over. Until then, call Congress, call the White House, and call the Media. Let your voice be heard. It is, after all, as much your country as it is any other American citizen's.

"This is such a rare moment in our history. Now is not the time to start getting disillusioned, or now is not the time to start thinking, oh, this is too hard. We’ve got this opportunity to change our world for the better. But the change — we said this in the campaign, it is true now — it never starts in Washington. It always starts with you. It starts with ordinary people — — men and women who love their country, who are standing together and fighting for its future.... So I just want everybody here to understand, we are in this for the long haul. Some of these changes may not happen in 18 months, or 36 months, or 72 months. It’s going to take time. But I don’t know about you, I just want to let you know — I'm just getting started. I’m not tired. I don’t know about you, but I’m not tired. All these folks who are throwing stuff at us and getting all crazy and — you know, I’m just getting started. I feel refreshed. I feel energized. And it’s because of you. " President Barack Obama October 20, 2009 New York City

To Progress (one step in the right direction at a time)
David Calamoneri
Hoboken, NJ USA

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

A guiding, underlying philosophy.

"Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."

With the exception of security, which is meant to protect the first (while, at times, negating the second), Our society is focused on the third, and regardless of the cliche "Money can't buy Happiness", it is money that so many are in pursuit of in its name.

An underlying, guiding, principle serves as a foundation or constant to political argument. The lack of one gives the appearance of, or in fact is, hypocrisy. How can one argue that banks (which made millions and sent the economy tanking through deregulation) were not too big to fail, turn around and say that health insurance companies (the 10 largest of which saw their profits go up 428% between 2000 and 2007 (page 7) while costing American People their homes and worse through deregulation) are too big to fail, or even compete? Or if the man, who is quoted as saying “Blessed are the meek”, is your own personal savior, why would you not do all you can to help them? Where is the guiding principle?

The Health Care Reform “debate” has been, more than anything else, about dollars and cents (with a little nonsense throw in by the power$ that be). “Your taxes will go up”, but your premiums will go down. “How can you justify spending billions in this recession?”, but we’re spending that on war. Well it turns out the Baucus bill, which I am not thrilled with, will Reduce the deficit over the ten years. How do you like that? Health Care Reform will provide for some, unfortunately not all, of the uninsured, save the insured money, And save the Country money. But again, money shouldn’t be the driving issue of this debate on Our Nation’s Health Care, currently ranked 37th in the world and costing Americans more than most other populations. No, the issue should be what is best for the Health of America and the Americans that inhabit her.

The "inalienable rights" in the Declaration of Independence were and are meant for all Americans, those who agree and those who disagree, those who "deserve it" and those who "don't". It is the government's job to afford All Americans security in attaining and maintaining these rights. As the homeless American goes, so does the CEO. Trouble is we are all so focused on that Pursuit of Happiness, currently defined by money and convenience, we're too blind to see it. 45,000 people die a year because they don't have health insurance. There are American people that need help maintaining "Life" and the US Government needs to help them. Period.

Next week's topic: What a difference a few years make: How I'm pissed at the Democratic Congress because they're not rubber stamping slaves to the President like the Republicans were, also Presidential First Years: A Greatest Hits.

"“I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly the things we hold in our hearts, and that too often are said only behind closed doors,” “There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other, to learn from each other, to respect one another, to seek common ground.” -President Barack Obama - Winner of the Nobel Prize for his Diplomacy in 2009.