Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Walt Kelley Wept

Well, Byrd is dead, and we will no longer be subjected to the undignified—or heroic, depending upon your perspective—spectacle of him be wheeled out onto the floor whenever the Democrats needed 60 votes. Like Thurmond and Kennedy, Byrd was what we picture a senator to be. We could easily see byrd in a toga (a long, tasteful one) speaking in the senate in Rome: an old man who appears wise, tackling with severity the problems facing the republic. That he was once a member of the Klan is usually brushed under the table, as was his participation in the filibuster against the Civil Rights Act. In the end he endorsed Barak Obama for president, and much had been forgiven. He was the picture of the gentleman statesman, and Hollywood should mourn his loss more than any. Well, except maybe the coal industry.

No one is surprised that MacDonald beat the City of Chicago. I’m a bit disappointed that it was a typical 5-4 decision, as much as I am that Bryer is suddenly a champion of states’ rights. But enough storage capacity has been devoted to the 2nd amendment for the time being for me to write about something that was a fait accompli, and which I wrote about when Helller was decided.

At the time of his death last week my dad was running for a seat on the Sacramento City District school board. I don’t know if he had filed yet, but he had a “friends of” account with $418 in it. I have no clue what to do about that. It’s a small matter, but campaign finance laws are tricky at any level.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A thought

Due to the passing of my father I have been more quiet than usual on this blog. I still don't have much to say, except this:

For a long while now I've been comparing President Obama to President Carter, as someone who is very competent but who does not appear presidential enough in a crisis. Honestly, I'd rather have him at the helm right now than McCain with everything going on. Or either Bush. I've compared the oil spill to the Iran Hostage Crisis. I was interested to note that the New York Post picked up on that theme, though not in the way that I did. They see it as demonstrating the President's incompetence as the Hostage Crisis did Carters. I don't agree that Carter acted incompetently in the hostage crisis. I think he acted deliberately and thoughtfully, with the right amount of diplomacy, and that if the helicopters hadn't crashed in the desert that Regan never would have been president and we might not have this insane Conservative movement. No, as I've said before, to me the spill is like the hostage crisis because it dominates the news cycle by going on so long, and threatens to undermine anything else the president does.

But with the firing of General McChrystal, it is safe right now to compare Obama to Truman. He appeared completely Presidential in a surprising way. He exerted his authority over the military. He also deflected the news coverage away from the oil spill for awhile.

Now, perhaps he should nationalize BP and send the Navy in to stop the leak....

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Curse of Competency

It's not really a condemnation, more of a sad truth, but Barak Obam looks more and more like Jimmy Carter every day. Carter may have been the best president we had in terms of actually running the country and doing stuff in the last forty years. He was engaged, competent, intelligent, thoughtful, and he got things done. He was dealt a terrible hand and he never connected with the American People, so they kicked him out in favor of a cowboy who was disengaged, not particularly competent, but was great on camera and looked good in a crisis. Carter was destroyed by the Iran hostage crisis. I often tell my students that they have no idea what the hostage crisis was like. It was on TV every night for 444 days. It dominated the news. There was no other story. The people wanted action--action movie James Bond type of action. They wanted a president who was a hero, and instead they got a president who was a thinker. It was actually probably better to have Carter in that situation than Ford or Regan, but when he deliberated all most people saw was a weak-willed liberal who couldn't get anything done. If they had sent more helicopters to the desert,or if the Navy hadn't washed the Army helicopters with sea-water, Regan might never have been president. But the rescue failed and we have been in this mess ever since.

And now we have Barak Obama. I think he's a great president. He has advanced the most far reaching progressive agenda since LBJ. He has enacted health care reform, new financial regulations, and launched a stimulus package that helped save the economy. Thank God he is our president right now. And honestly, I don't think he can do any more about the BP oil rig than he is already doing. But it is going on forever, and he is not connecting with the people, and that could spell his doom.

I think the democrats will do better in the mid-terms than people think they will. The republicans have been nominating some total whackos in the Sarah Palin mold, and I still say all the Democrats have to do is show those tapes of the republicans chanting "Drill, baby drill!" over and over again and they will do just fine. Add to that that they have found an effective formula for attacking, linking them to outsourcing of jobs, and I think the Dems will do fine.

But Obama is looking more and more like a one-term president. If Sarah Palin gets the nomination he will win, but if it's someone in the Mitt Romeny mold he is probably headed for the lecture circuit.