Day: December 13, 2009

The Inscrutable John McCain

Senator John McCain has often had the image of being a maverick, but now, a year after his loss in the Presidential election, he has become more hard line, even on issues that he once seemed to be flexible.

For instance, his close relationship with Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham seems to have cooled a bit, at least on the subject of global warming, where both senators along with John Kerry, are working on legislation.

But also, he is now closer to Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, with whom he usually has had disputes. And he is extremely harsh on Obama on just about everything, despite his independent image. Only on Afghanistan is he fully supportive of the President.

McCain faces a primary battle, which might explain his hardline conservatism. But he also is fully supportive in public of his former running mate, Sarah Palin, even when she condemned his campaign staff, always managing to say something pleasant about her and her future role in the Republican party.

As always, John McCain is mercurial, unpredictable, and ultimately, inscrutable!

Obama Faces Strong Attacks From The Left, Because He Is Ultimately A Centrist!

President Obama has become accustomed to strong attacks from conservatives in the media and in government, but now he is facing virulent attacks from his base, the Left.

Matt Taibbi in the latest issue of Rolling Stone claims that Obama has sold out to Wall Street. By making Timothy Geithner Secretary of the Treasury and Larry Summers head of the National Economic Council, Obama has turned to Wall Street insiders who put us into the mess, declares Taibbi.

NY Times columnist Paul Krugman and Columbia University economist Joseph Stiglitz, both Nobel Prize winners in Economics, also are harshly critical of Obama for not having created massive jobs programs, worrying too much about Wall Street, and not enough about Main Street.

But beyond economics, there is strong criticism from the Left about the continuation of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the lack of progress on gay rights, the endless battle over health care reform which is moving very slowly, and the continuation of Guantanamo Naval Base as a detention center for suspected terrorists.

At the same time, centrist Democrats feel that Obama has accomplished more than any President in his first year since the era of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

My feeling is just that–that Obama has accomplished a lot with a full plate of issues, and that impatience is the problem, expecting too much too soon. Ultimately, the fact that Obama is being attacked from the Right and the Left indicates he is in the center, and doing a pretty good job, much like FDR experiences bitter attacks from both ends of the political spectrum.

Barack Obama And The Banking Industry Meeting At The White House

On Monday, President Obama will meet with the leaders of the top banks in the nation to encourage them to start offering loans and credit to small businesses, and to deal with the home foreclosure crisis in a more forthcoming way than they have displayed this past year.

Considering that the banks were saved by federal intervention in the last months of the Bush Administration and throughout this year by the Obama Administration, I think it is certainly reasonable to expect them to change their behavior, and for the President to bring real pressure on them to do so.

If they prove resistant to such entreaties, then the President needs to suggest strong action by Congress to assess a windfall profits tax on the banking industry, a suggestion made by Suze Orman, the personal finance expert.

The American people will not tolerate much longer an arrogant attitude by the nation’s banks, who are seen as major villains in the economic crisis that led to the present Great Recession.

A Victory For Gay Rights: Election Of Annise Parker As Mayor Of Houston

In the midst of defeats in Maine and New York for gay marriage rights, there occurred yesterday a victory that stands out as significant: the election of an openly gay mayor, Annise Parker, in Houston, the nation’s fourth largest city.

While there have been gay mayors elected in Providence, Rhode Island and and Portland, Oregon, much smaller cities, the fact that the largest Texas city elected a lesbian is notable, particularly in a state where there are strong feelings against gay marriage and gay rights, and a Southern state to boot.

Of course, Ms. Parker had a long career of serving in city government, including most recently as the controller of the city’s finances, but still this is a definite sign of progress. Her victory was by nearly eight points over her rival–54-46 percent.

And the fact that she has had a domestic partner for 19 years and has adopted two children with her partner is also significant. Despite all this, the largest Southern city, right behind the Northern giants of New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago, all considered to be in “liberal states” as compared to Texas, seen as a “conservative” state, has taken this major step forward in human rights!