Nothing annoys me more than the way in which the war of Russia against Ukraine is described in the Western media. Here is one example:
Over the weekend, Congress passed the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014, a bill which would impose stricter sanctions on key Russian sectors like weapons and energy, and which authorizes the President to provide lethal aid to Ukraine for the first time. . . President Obama so far appears to be holding back from signing the bill immediately, despite bipartisan pressure for him to put pen to paper. With the economic situation rapidly deteriorating in Russia, however, having the bill hanging over the Kremlin’s head, maximizing uncertainty and unease may not be the worst strategy.
Are you seeing the problem with this analysis? The journalist is discussing a bill called “the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014.” Got it? Ukraine freedom support. But the analysis is all about how wonderful not signing the bill will be in the dealings with the Kremlin. How about Ukraine, though? The one whose freedom this bill is supposed to support? It’s not even mentioned in this analysis!
The idea that any of the pathetic “sanctions” introduced against Russia have had any effect is completely bizarre. The idea that the Kremlin is anything but overjoyed with news of this bill is even more bizarre. The fantasy of Putin cowering in “uncertainty and unease” is simply deluded.
It’s high-time to stop trying to impress Putin. The West has proven itself to be signally incapable of that. The only people who have managed to thwart Putin in any way recently are Ukrainians. Instead of pretending that they don’t exist, it would be much smarter to help them keep thwarting him.
The value of Ukraine Freedom Support Act is symbolic a lot more than anything else. Ukrainians need to hear that they matter to the West, that their struggle is understood and supported. They need at least a tiny gesture of goodwill in their direction. And while the American President is mumbling and fumbling, Ukrainians are dying for the Western values that they alone in the world seem to recall and cherish.
Somebody just advanced a theory that Obama doesn’t want to invade Syria and is doing what he can to avoid looking weak while sabotaging the invasion. And this is why he declared he will let the Congress that hates him have the final say. In the end, he won’t have to invade and will be able to blame the Congress for any consequences just as we go into the congressional electoral campaign.
This would be a beautiful world I don’t mind inhabiting.
Do we have any optimists who think this is a likely explanation around here?
Can you guess who said this recently?
We are putting colleges on notice — you can’t keep — you can’t assume that you’ll just jack up tuition every single year. If you can’t stop tuition from going up, then the funding you get from taxpayers each year will go down. We should push colleges to do better. We should hold them accountable if they don’t.
And this (the same person):
We call this — one of the things that we’re doing at the Consumer Finance Protection Board that I just set up with Richard Cordray — (applause) — is to make sure that young people understand the financing of colleges. He calls it, “Know Before You Owe.” (Laughter.) Know before you owe. So we want to push more information out so consumers can make good choices, so you as consumers of higher education understand what it is that you’re getting.
And the following (still the same guy):
We’re successful because we have an outstanding military — that costs money.
– college students are consumers, which makes imposing the business model on academia a must;
– colleges must be forced into even more cuts, which makes the further erosion of the concept of tenure inevitable. One over-extended adjunct can do the teaching of 3 profs. As for research, who the hell needs it anyways? So, adjuncts in, professors out;
– the money that is squeezed out from public universities should be pored into the military because there is always a dinky little war that needs to be waged somewhere to keep Pentagon happy. And private contractors, too. Yippee.
I know that you are all aware that these are excerpts from a recent speech by President Obama. And that’s the most progressive option we get.
OK, so how am I supposed to indoctrinate my students when I’m very disappointed with all of the candidates there are? I have to teach tomorrow, people, so we need to come up with something. I can’t let a whole day of classes go without some nice indoctrination.
Northern Gaijin has uncovered the following disturbing information:
Just to make your day, a new bill was introduced on January 12, 2012 which allows the US government to terminate the citizenship of any American who “supports hostilities” against the US government. Of course, “supports” and “hostilities” are not defined nor is any mention of conviction so this is an extrajudicial elimination of citizenship for any American which the government decides is a threat. No lawyer. No trail. No constitutional rights. Someone makes an accusation and you’re history. And to what other country can you go? It’s called the Enemy Expatriation Act (HR 3166/S1698) and on first reading is very cryptic but if you follow the links and analyse the logic then it becomes clear why Obama said that he wouldn’t use the previous bill (HR 1867) which he signed on New Year’s Eve on US citizens. He can nail anyone with this! There is a mention of hostilities being subject to the rule of law but the decision can’t be rebutted within the context of the situation. Here’s the official video:
And here’s the text.
Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer!
This is worse than the Patriot Act, folks. This is worse than Guantanamo. Now we have to agree that Obama is purposefully trying to lose the elections.
I don’t even know what to say about this. It’s just too bizarre. Is this really happening?
This seems like an Obama-themed day on the blog for some reason.
In my Advanced Spanish class, we did an activity today where I hand out photos of famous people, and students have to use new vocabulary to describe them. One of the people in the photos was the President. I’ve done this activity before, and there is usually a great variety of opinions among the students.
This time, however, things were different. Among the 24 students in this class, there was only one who had anything bad to say about the President. She was as surprised as I was to see that nobody shared her negative opinion of Obama.
I don’t like to see a student ganged up on by the majority, so I offered myself up as this student’s conversation partner, and we created anti-Obama descriptions together. I pride myself on managing to keep my politics out of language courses that I teach. Students need to be able to express themselves freely in a foreign language to master it without fearing that the professor will dislike them for their opinions.
In any case, if in this very conservative Bible Belt area all students but one have only good things to say of Obama, I think this means he is winning the elections.
The Liberals in this country, for the most part, entertain very tepid feelings towards President Obama. Most will vote for him because the alternative is even less appealing.
The Conservatives aren’t wildly enthusiastic about Mitt Romney, either. (I think we can all agree that Romney will be the Republican nominee, can’t we?) Every Conservative analysis I have recently read has concentrated on the idea that the Right needs to support Romney to prevent Obama from getting re-elected. (Here is an example.) As the we have seen, the Conservatives have been searching hard for an alternative to Romney and failing to encounter one. The Conservative attitude towards Romney can be summarized as, “Well, I guess I’ll support him if there is nothing better. . .”
The reason why Obama is not making Progressives flock passionately to his support is that – let’s just be honest about it, OK? – he did not live up to his promise that we all saw in him on the night when the election results were announced in 2008. I haven’t been able to get over him appointing Summers and Geithner to repair our broken economy, and I don’t think I ever will get over it.
The reason why Conservatives aren’t passionate about supporting Romney – even though he is the only real chance they have to beat Obama – is, in my opinion, his grievous lack of charisma. Every time I see him, he reminds me of John Kerry. Kerry said all the right things but could one really get excited over him?
This is going to be an election where people will come to the polls unenthusiastically and support a candidate for the simple reason that the alternative is even worse. In such a big country as this one, don’t you think we could do better? And by “we” I mean all of us.
Washington Post reports:
Despite frosty relations with the titans of Wall Street, President Obama has still managed to raise far more money this year from the financial and banking sector than Mitt Romney or any other Republican presidential candidate, according to new fundraising data. . . As a result, Obama has brought in more money from employees of banks, hedge funds and other financial service companies than all of the GOP candidates combined, according to a Washington Post analysis of contribution data. . .
Obama has raised a total of $15.6 million from employees in the industry, according to the Post analysis. Nearly $12 million of that went to the DNC, the analysis shows.
Romney has raised less than half that much from the industry, while Texas Gov. Rick Perry brought in about $2 million. No other Republican candidate has raised more than $402,000 from the finance sector, which also includes insurance and real estate interests.
The ultra-conservative Washington Post uses this information to paint Obama as pro-banks and pro-financial sector in order to make him less attractive to progressive voters. Of course, people who follow politics at least minimally will find this information to be very belated. We all remember how Obama appointed Summers and Geithner, of all people, to key positions two seconds after he was elected. This gave us all the information we could have possibly needed about the new President’s position on the economy. Today, we are reaping the results of those appointments.
In my opinion, the huge support that the financial sector offers Obama today has to do with Wall Street’s realization that Obama is the only candidate who might, if given enough reason to, listen to the #Occupy protesters and start bringing back some of the regulation measures on the financial industry that are the only way of saving us all from complete and utter economic collapse.
At this point, Obama is not listening to his erstwhile progressive supporters. However, he might. Especially, if the protests intensify as the election draws closer. This is why Wall Street is trying to buy him off as fast as possible. Overall, I’d say this is very good news because it demonstrates that the bankers are finally taking the #Occupy protesters seriously. President Obama will be well served to do the same.
I just read an article which suggests that if you are a Liberal voter who feels disillusioned with President Obama and is unwilling to vote for him in 2012, you must be a racist:
The 2012 election may be a test of another form of electoral racism: the tendency of white liberals to hold African-American leaders to a higher standard than their white counterparts. If old-fashioned electoral racism is the absolute unwillingness to vote for a black candidate, then liberal electoral racism is the willingness to abandon a black candidate when he is just as competent as his white predecessors.
The reason why the article’s author believes that Liberals who are in no hurry actively to support Obama’s 2012 presidential bid are racist is that, apparently, Bill Clinton got a better treatment when he was running for his second term:
The relevant comparison here is with the last Democratic president, Bill Clinton. Today many progressives complain that Obama’s healthcare reform was inadequate because it did not include a public option; but Clinton failed to pass any kind of meaningful healthcare reform whatsoever. Others argue that Obama has been slow to push for equal rights for gay Americans; but it was Clinton who established the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy Obama helped repeal. Still others are angry about appalling unemployment rates for black Americans; but while overall unemployment was lower under Clinton, black unemployment was double that of whites during his term, as it is now. And, of course, Clinton supported and signed welfare “reform,” cutting off America’s neediest despite the nation’s economic growth. . .
In 1996 President Clinton was re-elected with a coalition more robust and a general election result more favorable than his first win. His vote share among women increased from 46 to 53 percent, among blacks from 83 to 84 percent, among independents from 38 to 42 percent, and among whites from 39 to 43 percent.
President Obama has experienced a swift and steep decline in support among white Americans—from 61 percent in 2009 to 33 percent now.
I think that the Clinton presidency definitely bears some responsibility for Obama’s low approval ratings among Liberals today. I don’t think racism is involved, though. Admittedly, I wasn’t living in the country when Clinton was president, so Liberals who did should feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. I have a feeling that many progressive-minded voters see yet another smooth-talking, intelligent, charming politician who came to power by attracting the American Left to his cause with many promises and beautiful speeches and then failed to deliver. I’ve heard many people refer to Obama as “yet another Clinton.” The disappointment with Clinton makes it harder for people to invest in this type of candidate yet again only to see their hopes dashed.
Another reason why Obama will find it harder to get re-elected than Clinton did is, of course, the economy. Most people don’t see any improvement in their financial situation since Obama was elected in 2008. This makes it much harder for them to care about anything he can deliver in other areas of life.
I kind of don’t like it how people are falling all over themselves in criticizing Obama for the way he handled the whole debt ceiling debacle. He compromised too much, people say.
And what alternative did he have, exactly? No, seriously, if you are disappointed with Obama’s actions during the crisis, what would you have done in his place?