Obama’s Legacy: A victim of his own success

screen-shot-2017-01-15-at-11-52-42-amDepending on your opinion of the man, Barack Obama has either been a success as a President, or a failure. History has a way of looking kinder at a President who leaves with a low opinion, an even kinder than that to one who leaves with a relatively positive opinion.

Obama entered office on the heels of a particularly unpopular president. “Change” his slogan, “Yes we can!” his catchphrase, I think anyone who has any sense believes “Yes he did” bring “change.”

Further, anyone who looks objectively at the Obama administration will come to the conclusion that he faced more opposition in Congress than any other modern president. Obama had objectives that didn’t mesh with the Democratic leadership, and Republican elites often wielded [or looked the other way to] the deep-south conservative “anti-black man” vibe, however were quick to dismiss it with the ideology of “Hey look, we have our black people, too! How can we be against the President JUST because he’s black?!”

Do I believe anyone in Congress or any of the elites were against Obama just because he was black? Not really, but they certainly had no problem using racial distrust to bring their point home to the the fringe-right, who wanted to put the “White” back in The White House. Look at the pictures of fringe-right Facebooks, showing pictures like Michelle Obama in ever-day clothes, or something a little less flattering, such as being sweaty, coming off of Air Force One, and next to it, a picture of Melania Trump, perfectly manicured, coiffed and in an expensive dress, with the meme tag line of “Change is Coming.” Now, that said, this is common across all political lines… but again, I think it goes to the mindset of the fringe-right: they want a sense of security back in the White House, not “the black guy who doesn’t wanna give the white guy a fair shake.”

Obama’s use of Executive action is largely unprecedented, because it was often the only way he was able to accomplish his agenda. Republicans have had a tendancy to block anything they remotely disagreed with, to get the President to acquiesce to their own agenda, which Obama largely didn’t do. He wanted consensus, Republicans wanted to flex their muscles of control — with hearings, with delays, with proforma sessions and lack of confirmations.

George W. Bush was brilliant in that he would shame his adversary-of-the-moment into compromise. He would sit down with the leadership and lay out his plan, and even his willingness to comrpromise. If he didn’t get what he wanted, he would stand up from the table, say “Thank you,” and walk right out the door, to a field of reporters, and say “I can’t get prescription drug coverage passed, because Senator Biden doesn’t want your grandmothers to be able to afford to eat AND take her medication!” While this is arguably “dirty politics,” it worked, often! Obama doesn’t play that game. He choses his battles, and rightly so — however, at what cost? Particularly when he is fighting an institution so engrained in itself to oppose him publicly at any turn. Obama would rarely call people out for opposing him, which I think only emboldened his adversaries on the Hill.

Barack Obama became the first black man to be President of the United States — no one can say that’s not a success. However, that success came with a price. He re-defined fundraising in America, re-defined the gaining of political capital, and even successfuly won re-election. However, America was a country still not ready for it, and while an obviously capable Commander-in-Chief, a series of miscalculations on his part, and the part of his aides gave rise to the greatest threats since 9/11, can these be blamed exclusively on him? No. Largely, perhaps — but a lot of these were already years in the making. Korea’s nuclear program has been working since the Bush Administration, and was eventually going to be complete. ISIL was previously a band of different groups, but of a similar ideology. Syria had been a dictatorship for years, and people across the Arab world had been fed up with corruption and greed of elites for years before the Arab Spring hit, it just all came to a head under the Obama administration.

Here’s to you, Barack. A President who’s largely been a victim of his own success — a do-nothing Congress that would rather bicker with itself than support the leader of the free world, a changing world where the rise of everyone else gives people the impression of a failing America in what is becoming the post-America world, and a guy who managed to hold it together in the meantime. I drink a toast to you, sir. I haven’t been your biggest fan for a long time, but that said, just like George W. Bush, Bill Clinton before him, H.W. Bush before him and Reagan before.. I admire the dignity you’ve held in keeping America safe, and helping hold the world together.

Friday at noon, the 45th President comes to power — Donald J. Trump.  Let’s give the incoming President all the support we can.  I certainly don’t agree with everything he says, but as a liberal, I intend to give him the respect he’s due, the ear he’s earned and the consideration that was largely absent when the holder of the office was of the other party.  Do with it what you will, sir.  Your actions pave the way of America’s future.

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Apollo 11 on the Moon

Chinese rover successfully lands on moon…

Chang'e-3

Chang’e-3

Today, the People’s Republic of China became the third nation in human history to successfully land on the moon, behind the United States and the former Soviet Union.

The Chang’e-3 spacecraft, launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan, PRC on 01 December, just two weeks ago, will soon release the Yutu (“Jade Rabbit“) rover, a six wheeled scientific vehicle that contains an imaging sensor array, a telescope, an ultraviolet sensor and arms that can dig into the lunar soil up to 90 feet.  With a planned mission of three months, hopes are that the solar powered vehicle will live well beyond it’s life expectancy and mission time, much like other rovers have done.

Further, the next phase of the CNSA’s lunar program, Chang’e-5 is set to not only soft-land also, but has a stated objective to return to Earth with lunar soil samples, with a projected launch date of 2020.

Coming a long way since it first put a Chinese cosmonaut into space for the first time just ten years ago, the Chinese National Space Administration has clearly made leaps and bounds in putting the flag of it’s nation on another celestial body in a soft landing.

During the first EVA of Apollo 17, Eugene Cern...

Harrison Schmitt with the American flag and the Earth,400 000km away.

The last soft landing on the moon was by the Soviet Union’s Luna 24, which occurred in August 1976.  This mission was the third Soviet lunar expedition to successfully return lunar soil samples to Earth.  Four years before, Apollo 17 was the last manned exploration of the Moon, made up of Professor (and future United States Senator) Harrison Schmitt, and Navy Captain Eugene Cernan, known as “the Last Man on the Moon,” when his mission left the lunar surface exactly 41 years ago today, funny enough, when the Lunar Module ascended to meet the CSM at 10:54PM UTC.

“Sometimes, I catch myself looking up to the Moon and I wonder, when are we going back, and when will that be?”
— Captain James Lovell, USN (Retired)
Commander, Apollo 13

CISPA passes in a closed-door session… uhh…

cispaSOPA failed to pass last year because of a MASSIVE internet uproar that made it so politically toxic, even co-authors pulled their support.

This time, John Boehner‘s House Intelligence Committee is doing a good job of keeping it’s successor, CISPA, very quiet — and indeed, passing it with as little noise as possible.

Passing in a vote of 18-2 in the House Intelligence Committee, one of the dissenters to the bill, Rep. Jan Schakowski (D-IL) specifically voted against it, because she wished to attach riders to the bill that, among other things:

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Rep. Jan Schakowski (D-IL)

“…would have strengthened privacy protections, ensured that consumers can hold companies accountable for misuse of their private information, required that companies report cyber threat information directly to civilian agencies…  I strongly agree with the need to enact effective cyber-security legislation… but this bill doesn’t sufficiently protect individual privacy rights.”

When she proposed these amendments above, she was overruled in Committe, saying that the amendments were not acceptable.  Moreover — the bill amends the National Security Act of 1947, a law that, while arguably, needs constant “boning up,” to keep the law up to date with those who would go “around the law” to harm American citizens.

If this is such a horrible problem — particularly with American citizens, why is a warrant unnecessary?  Why are your browsing histories, your private email, and your other digital rights now any less meaningful than your other privacy rights?

Law Enforcement needs a warrant to enter your home… and right now, Law Enforcement needs a warrant to access your private documents, browsing history, and your other private digital information.  CISPA, essentially says, “no longer necessary.”

I find this highly disturbing.  Does anybody else?  If you’re as disturbed by this as I am, call your members of Congress, both the Senate AND the House — and demand a NO vote on this nonsense.

Personally, I think they don’t get to play with privacy rights on the internet until they fix… oh, I don’t know… THE DEFICIT?  Maybe the Fiscal Cliff disaster, too?

A good video with further information -> The Young Turks – 12 April 2013: “What Privacy?  CISPA Passes in Closed Door Vote.”

The Corporate Veil — Still working?

Gold BarsHaving my experience in business and high finance that I do, I got to see the height, and the subsequent crash of the Financial Boom several years later… I literally watched it from my corner office begin to unfold in March 2007 — in the subprime mortgage market.  Watching in sheer terror while lender after lender sent emails stating they were no longer funding unlocked loans, or were closing their doors and declaring bankruptcy altogether.

Many harmed were innocents — those who either didn’t know better and were taught by lousy or bad brokers, or were roped into it by dirty Account Executives just looking to fill their pipleline and collect their cut of the dough, as well, loan officer and client be damned.

One question I find myself wondering about is, “Why aren’t more executives and bank owners in jail?  These are the people who, if they didn’t engineer the crisis, they at least ignored the signs.  These are supposed to be the world best, brightest and finest in high finance, right?”

How can one man, who steals $400 by knocking over a gas station with a knife as a weapon get four times as much prison time as the executive who colluded, knowingly with others to cover up and lie about it to the American people, who wind up bailing out the company for millions, and insuring their bad notes and purchases?  While a handfull have gone to prison for their role in the crisis, many on the other hand, have not.

Case in point: Angelo Mozilo.Image

The founder of Countrywide, his accidental email replies and golden parachute, even after he singlehandedly ran his brainchild into the ground, are the stuff of legends.  Offering the most powerful people incentives to work with him through his “Friends of Angelo” program in the way of favorable mortgage rates and programs otherwise not available to anyone else.  Big names benefitted from this program — names like “Dodd,” “Pelosi,” ‘Clyburn” and “Boxer.”  Indeed, Senator Christoper Dodd was later documented to be given a $75,000 reduction on properties he owned held by Countrywide.  Michael Moore’s movie Capitalism, A Love Story,” shows proof that he received credits and reductions in excess of half a MILLION dollars.  These Representatives, Senators and Regulators are the people who were supposed to oversee his business.

While Mozilo later settled with the Securities and Exchange Commission to pay a massive fine and accept being barred for life from serving as an officer or director of a public company within the United States, he never did do jail time for his role.

Is this justice for those who lost their homes to his business practices?  What about the American Taxpayers who had to subsidize his business failure?  What about Bank of America, which absorbed Countrywide?

The Stay-at-Home Mom: Doing her kids a disservice?

ImageOn my way into school this morning, I was listening to a radio show, the name and channel of which escapes me — but while I disagree with the heart of it, it did get me to thinking.

This particular caller stated that stay-at-home mothers, who raise their children with a working father, do their children a disservice (apparently, particularly their daughters…) because it is not teaching them to be self-sufficient.  Even if the husband is comfortably bringing home enough of the bacon to support the family comfortably, this particular caller stated that a mother staying at home to raise her children and to run the household does not teach children that this is a possibility in the future, with the way the economy works today.

I found this interesting, because I think it’s more a matter of teaching children to be self-sufficient in fact, versus by example.  For instance, when I was 16, I was *told* I had to have a summer job.  “No loafing for you, this summer!”  I believe was the key-term.  Granted, I had had an academically lame year and didn’t perform well at all — this could have been as much a punishment as it was a lesson.  A stay-at-home mother, in my opinion, can induce the same lesson in working in the same manner it was done to me, as both-working parents can.   Further, if both parents work, and make $100,000 a year — and don’t require their children to work, and live comfortably enough to give their 19-year old children allowances versus requiring them to move out and work — is this conducive to learning how to be self sufficient?  Sure, the old adage of “teach by example,” is a powerful force — but if this is what the children were exposed and used to from birth, would this really matter?