The Last 15 Days of Sanity

By the end of President Obama’s first year in office, the economy, which had been in free fall when he took over from President Bush, was beginning to recover, mostly due to improvements resulting from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) signed into law by President Obama on February 17, 2009.  (The ARRA is commonly referred to as the “stimulus package.”)  To indicate the importance of the ARRA, the President asked Vice-President Joe Biden to oversee its implementation.

Metrics confirming that the economy was turning the corner in early 2010 were outlined in the Working Economics blog published by the Economics Policy Institute in February of 2012:

  • “In the second quarter of 2009—the first full quarter after the stimulus was passed—GDP declined at a much slower pace (0.7 percent), and growth resumed in the third quarter;
  • Job losses slowed dramatically throughout 2009 and the economy started adding jobs in early 2010; and
  • Private sector layoffs, which had peaked in Feb. 2009, began a rapid decline and returned to pre-recession levels by early Feb. 2010.”

When 2009 came to an end, there were 2.1 million additional, sustainable jobs created by the President’s ARRA programs. While the main purpose of the ARRA was to stimulate job growth, the Law included initiatives to improve and support other areas affected by the recession, such as infrastructure, education, health, and renewable energy. The strong consensus of economists polled in 2012 by the University of Chicago Booth School of Business’s Initiative on Global Markets (IGM) was that the ARRA was successful in stimulating job growth.

arra-signing

President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law on February 17, 2009. 

Last 18 Days of Sanity

According to Gallup, President Obama’s first quarter approval rating of 63% was the fourth highest since the metric was first recorded in 1953. Only Kennedy, Eisenhower, and Carter -in that order – had higher approval ratings during the first quarter of their Presidencies.

Notwithstanding an inauguration day meeting of Congressional Republicans  where they made a pact to deny President Obama a second term, the new President and the Congressional Democratic majority passed and signed a number of measures during Obama’s first 100 days in office. Most of the new measures fulfilled promises he had made during his campaign for the Presidency. Among them were the Lilly Ledbetter Act, assuring equal pay for women; expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Act (S-Chip); A budget resolution that solidified the Administration’s intent to implement healthcare reform, new ethical guidelines designed to reduce the influence of lobbyists;  and a number of other Progressive measures.

obama-and-lilly-ledbetter

Just nine days after his swearing-in, on January 29, 2009, President Obama escorts Lilly Ledbetter into the East Room for the signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Act. (Photo, NBC News)

The Last 19 Days of Sanity

I’m going to be lazy today. Before I move on from Inauguration Day 2009, I’m simply copying and pasting from Wikipedia the list of performers at We are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial, held on January 18, 2009:

“The event was musically directed by Rob Mathes of the Kennedy Center Honors. A backing band used by many of the artists was in the orchestra pit, and featured veteran session drummer Kenny Aronoff.

The concert featured performances by (in alphabetical order) Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige, Jon Bon Jovi, Garth Brooks, Sheryl Crow, Renée Fleming, Caleb Green, Josh Groban, Herbie Hancock, Heather Headley, Bettye Lavette, John Legend, John Mellencamp, Jennifer Nettles, Pete Seeger, Shakira, Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, U2, Usher, will.i.am and Stevie Wonder.Several of the songs performed had been used by Obama’s presidential campaign.

The concert also featured readings of historical passages by Jack Black, Steve Carell, Rosario Dawson, Jamie Foxx, Tom Hanks, Samuel L. Jackson, Ashley Judd, Martin Luther King III, Queen Latifah, Laura Linney, George Lopez, Kal Penn, Marisa Tomei, Denzel Washington, Forest Whitaker and Tiger Woods.

obama-inaugural-concert-crowd

 An estimated 400,000 people attended We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration concert at the Lincoln Memorial on January 18, 2009. 

Last 20 Days of Sanity

Election Day 2008 was history and President-elect Obama went to work selecting his new cabinet.  As with everything he has done, President Obama’s cabinet selections were intelligent, thoughtful choices. He chose people who were not only experienced and qualified, but also who believed in, and were committed to, the missions of the agencies they were chosen to lead. All were seasoned professionals who were philosophically aligned with the man voters had chosen as their President.  Among his quality appointees were Kansas Governor and former Insurance Commissioner Kathleen Sebelius, Senator Hillary Clinton, and D.C. Superior Court Judge Eric Holder.

The inauguration on January 20, 2009 was reminiscent of the “Camelot-like” inauguration of John F. Kennedy in 1961.  The debonair President-elect and his elegant, fashionable wife — both Harvard Law School graduates — were stunning as they paraded down Pennsylvania Avenue and floated through the inaugural balls.  They warmly connected with adoring crowds, many of whom were still reeling with happiness at the realization that our country had, at long last, elected a President who looked like them.

inauguration-2008-at-brooklyn-senior-center

There were so many wonderful images from Inauguration Day 2009 that I had difficulty making a choice. There were images of the new President dancing with his beautiful wife Michelle at the inaugural balls, pictures of the swearing-in, and some wonderful images of the President and First Lady with their adorable young daughters. However, I decided upon this image of people at a Brooklyn senior center celebrating the moment that the new President completed his oath of office.  I believe this image, more than the others, demonstrates the historical significance of the inauguration of President Barack Obama.  

The Last 21 Days of Sanity

In 21 days insanity will reign over our country when a thin-skinned, man-child who, in the opinion of medical experts, suffers from mental illness will become the President of the United States. He has assembled a cabinet that has been aptly referred to as the “wrecking crew.”  His cabinet appointments are mainly billionaire naysayers, few of whom believe in the missions of the agencies they will be running.  In fact, many of them have embraced principles and initiatives that are the polar opposite of those missions.

In order to ease the pain, dread, and fear of our country’s impending descent into insanity, each day between today and January 20 I will post an image of happier times, along with a brief description of the image. My hope is that the memories evoked by these images will help to calm our troubled spirits.

election-night-2008

Today’s image is from Election Night, 2008, when the “better angels” of our collective minds and souls conspired to elect Barack Hussein Obama the 44th President of the United States and Joe Biden as Vice-President. Remember how good we felt that night? Let’s hold that feeling in our hearts…always. 

Post Debate Thoughts and Fears

After wondering for over a year, how anyone could possibly take Donald Trump seriously as a Presidential candidate, he demonstrated for 100 million viewers last night why that question begs to be asked. He grimaced, he pouted, he sniffed, he sighed, and he drank a lot of water. Then it was his turn to speak. One lie followed another, then another ad infinitum. He showed no signs of ever having been taught basic manners, like not interrupting when someone else is speaking and shaking hands with the moderator at end of the debate.

The Donald Trump we saw in the debate is the Donald Trump that has had me and many others wondering who are the people who support this racist egomaniac in his quest to be elected President of the United States. Who are the people who think it’s okay to deny making statements when there is video, twitter and all other forms of evidence that prove the statements were made? Who are the people who think that it’s okay to be the only Presidential candidate since 1980 who refuses to release his tax returns and, when asked why, spews a litany of child-like attempts to change the subject? Who are the people who think it’s okay to refuse to pay for completed work by employees and contractors? Trump’s performance in the first debate exacerbated the fear and concern raised by these and many other absurd Trump realities and by the intellectual numbness of people who support his inanity.

As explanation for supporting Trump’s candidacy, I’ve read and heard a variety of reasons: “We need a change.” “He’s a successful businessman.” He’s not a Washington politician.” Change is sometimes good and sometimes disastrous. Given all of Trump’s problems, many of which would have long ago disqualified any other Presidential candidate — especially Hillary– it’s difficult to imagine that anyone would think a change that would put Trump in the Oval Office would fall in the former category. And, as far as needing a businessman to run the country (the “successful” part is in doubt, given the absence of the tax returns), businesses are run to make profits for owners and shareholders. Governments are run for the general good of their citizens. Putting a man who has done nothing but labor for his own enrichment in charge of one of the largest governments in the world is both dangerous and (here’s that word again) absurd.

In regard to Trump not being a Washington politician, I can understand the attraction there. But, in my long (67-year) lifetime, we haven’t had a President with no government leadership experience at all, whether as Vice-President, Senator, Governor, or General. There are some very basic realities about government that we should want a Presidential candidate to have some experience with. Some that come immediately to mind are budgeting for the general good (as opposed to for profit), separation of powers (where each branch’s authority begins and ends), how those powers interact with each other, and scores of other constitutional realities. These are realities unique to government and have no correlation in private business. For example, in the recent Commander-in-Chief Forum, Trump seemed to think that he can hire and fire Generals at will. He said he likes Generals, “…but not the ones Obama has.”

Not only does Trump not seem to understand these basic realities, but he doesn’t even seem to know they exist. It’s doubtful that the large majority of his supporters know they exist either. And what’s frightening is that even though Trump and his supporters aren’t aware of their ignorance of government leadership, those who seek to damage or destroy our country are well aware of his shortcomings. He tweets them out on a daily basis for all the world to see. Which leads us back to last night’s debate and a performance that rekindles dire fears for the safety of our country should the Buffoon who delivered that wretched performance on the debate stage be elected President of the United States.