Day: June 9, 2009

Obama’s Speech at Buchenwald Concentration Camp On The Holocaust

President Obama’s speech in Germany at the Buchenwald concentration camp, alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Elie Wiesel, the highly acclaimed Holocaust survivor, was a moment of emotion and great recognition of the significance of the Holocaust, and at the same time, a condemnation of those who deny the Holocaust ever occurred.

Obama’s own great uncle on his mother’s side helped to liberate a portion of the Buchenwald concentration camp in 1945, and  it had a long range impact on the man.  One could see how shook up Obama was at seeing direct evidence of the mass loss of human life that took place at Buchenwald and at many other camps during the time of Hitler and World War II.

The fact that Iran’s President, and so called scholars,  and also David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader, could conduct conferences that deny the veracity of the Holocaust was roundly criticized, as Obama said this kind of horror could not be allowed to happen ever again.

Obama certainly made a great impression that he understood the importance of this issue and would not sit idly by as this kind of situation arose again in the future.

Obama’s Cairo Speech To The Muslim World

President Obama’s speech last Thursday to an audience at Cairo University was a brilliant attempt at changing the relationship between the Muslim world and the United States.

Obama accepted the fact that the United States had, in the past, committed errors, been involved in misdeeds, and even failed to recognize how the Muslim world perceived American actions. 

He called for friendship and cooperation with the Muslim world, and demonstrated humility and honesty.  He pointed out that he had taken the first steps toward the closing of Guantanomo as a prison camp for terrorists, and ordered the end of torture that had been endorsed by the Bush administration.

He also expressed understanding of the feelings of Israeli Jews and Palestinians alike, and called for direct action to resolve the Israeli-Arab conflict.  He even went so far as to say that the problem with Iran was not over having nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, but their attempt to develop nuclear weapons which would have the effect of raising tensions in Middle East nations, as well as Israel, if the Iranians acquired the ability to have such weaponry.

Obama also condemned terrorists and extremists, who as he pointed out, have actually killed more Muslims than Christians or Jews in the name of Islamic extremism. 

It is obvious that Obama’s speech is a good first step, but there are many challenges to face in the next four to eight years to improve the relationship between the U.S. and the Islamic world.

The NBC Brian Williams White House Documentary

Last week, the Obama White House was opened for a day to NBC cameras,  and Brian Williams speaking with Obama and other top officials, as the nation got a sense of what a normal day at the White House is like.

It was a very impressive and complicated situation that Americans witnessed who watched this two hour documentary over two evenings.  It seems to me that it had the effect of convincing Americans, who have an open mind,  that we have a President and administration working overtime trying to deal with multiple problems inherited by this young, vibrant President.

While this internal look at the Obama Presidency was,  of course, designed to promote a positive image of the administration,  it is hard not to be optimistic about the future ability of the government to bring real progress in both domestic and foreign policy.

Republican Paranoia

The silliness of the GOP continues, as represented by Sarah Palin saying that if the U.S. Government comes to the aid of states in trouble, such as California, then the state governments will be dictated to by the national government, and the states will lose all influence under our system of federalism.

Also, Rush Limbaugh has declared that if the Obama administration controls the banks,  they will soon control the news media and be able to manipulate public opinion and control what we learn about government actions.

And Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma says Obama speaking to Muslim audiences in the Middle East is an "UnAmerican" action, whatever that is supposed to mean.

The Republican party has a few moderates with rationality, but somehow the whackos and the extremists seem  to still have a much greater input,  and the recent statements by several Republicans that Sonia Sotomayor is a racist only makes the whole party seem ever more silly and hopeless as a serious opposition party.

Reagan Centennial Plans for 2011

President Obama has endorsed a plan for celebration of President Ronald Reagan’s centennial of his birth on February 6, 2011,  and did so recently in a public meeting with his widow, Nancy Reagan.

Mrs. Reagan was in Washington D.C. to commemorate the fifth anniversary of his death,  with the unveiling of a Reagan statue in Statuary Hall in the US Capitol,  with the statue a brilliant depiction of Reagan by an excellent sculptor.

Although I disagree with much of what Reagan represented and accomplished, he is certainly the best Republican President since Theodore Roosevelt,  with the possible and debatable exception of Dwight D. Eisenhower, so the celebration of his heritage is perfectly appropriate, and will likely include a US Mint Silver Dollar to commemorate his Presidency.

Somehow, I find it hard to believe that Reagan, were he alive and understanding of what was going on, would approve of the extreme right swing of the GOP, particularly noticeable since the defeat of John McCain in the presidential election of 2008.  He may be said to be their hero, but I imagine that he would disapprove of much of what has happened in the past George W. Bush administration and in the early months of the Obama Presidency regarding the Republican party.

Obama Moves Toward Public Health Plan Advocacy For All Who Want It

President Obama has  recently moved toward advocacy of a public health plan available to whoever wants it, a step beyond what he promoted in his Presidential campaign.

While he suggests that most people will want to keep their employer based plan of health insurance,  it is a fact that many employees are losing health care coverage or have inadequate plans offered at work.

Also,  there are millions of people who pay exorbitant premiums on personally purchased health care plans.  And of course, there are nearly 50 million people who have no health insurance at all. 

It is a well known fact that many people who go bankrupt do so because of outrageous health care bills, even those who do have health insurance plans.

So it is very positive that Obama is going the extra mile,  and calling for public health care opportunities for those who want it, no matter what their status on health care at the moment.