Posts filed under ‘Obama Video Address’

An Open Letter to United States High School Students

I am addressing this post to the citizens of the United States currently in grades nine through twelve. Today at school, you may have seen an address that President Barack Obama made to a group of students in a high school in Arlington, Virginia. You saw the President call for personal responsibility. You saw him emphasize that it is ultimately up to you whether you fail or succeed in this society. Success comes through hard work.

These are valuable lessons but unfortunately another lesson was taught to you in the days leading up to this speech. You see, there are some among you who did not get to see the President’s address. Sadly, there are adults in our government and on television and the radio who deliberately tried to scare your school district or your parents into keeping you from seeing this address. They told lies in order to make your principals and your teachers and even your parents believe that our President would say things that might be harmful to you. It is sad that at such a young age you must learn the lesson that some people care more about what they believe, true or untrue, than they care about the welfare of you and your family.

So for those of you who could not see the video at school today, I am posting it below. Whether you are a freshman or a senior looking forward to college next year, you are old enough to start making some of your own critical decisions. Watch the video and decide for yourself whether the President’s message is a good one or a bad one. I’m guessing that if you want to be an overnight success, the President’s message will disappoint you. I also imagine that you might find it a bit corny when the President tells you to wash your hands, but remember he is not just the President, he is a father too and he doesn’t want his kids or you to get the flu this season.

If you have already seen the President’s message, or after you view it here, forward the link to this article to all your friends who might not have seen it. And ask your parents to sit down and watch it with you. It is so important that you do not let anyone in government, television or radio, no matter how well meaning, prevent you from hearing ideas that might enrich your life. The America we live in is built on the notion that obstacles to enlightenment will not be thrown in your way.

I will not be accepting comments directly on this article. If you are a student who has read this article and would like to share your thoughts, use my contact page to get in touch with me. I will update this post with your comments as I receive them (and I will of course not use your full name so don’t worry about saying exactly how you feel).

We learned a lot of lessons in the past few days about personal responsibility and freedom to express ideas. I hope the debates of the past few days have made us a better nation. Thanks for reading this, and to echo our President, stay in school and work hard. You owe it to yourself, your family and your country.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

WordPress.com Political Blogger Alliance

September 9, 2009 at 12:34 am

Hot in Herre — Obama Video Address: August 29, 2009

When Nelly sang “Hot in Herre”, he wasn’t talking about the weather but this week, President Obama was. In this week’s video address, Obama addresses his renewed commitment to emergency preparedness as we approach the fourth anniversary of hurricane Katrina.

I distinctly remember being on vacation in a hotel room in 2005 watching a grown man cry on TV as he pleaded to the government for help down in New Orleans. Of course, we all remember then President Bush’s accolade “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job” to his incompetent head of FEMA, Michael Brown. One of Obama’s campaign pledges was effective government in times of crisis and it is good to see him reinforcing this in this week’s message.

Of course, when we talk about the weather, we can’t skip the topic of “global warming” or perhaps the more accurate term “climate change”. That so many are still climate change skeptics is truly frightening for our nation. In Monday’s “Huffington Post”, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry makes a clear and chilling case for the impending crisis.

Facts, as John Adams said, are stubborn things. Here are a few you need to know: Atmospheric carbon-dioxide levels have risen 38% in the industrial era, from 280 to 385 parts per million (ppm). Scientists have warned that anything above 450 ppm — a warming of 2 degrees Celsius — will result in an unacceptable risk of catastrophic climate change.

The truth is that the threat we face is not an abstract concern for the future. It is already upon us and its effects are being felt worldwide, right now. Scientists project that the Arctic will be ice-free in the summer of 2013. Not in 2050, but four years from now. — via John Kerry: We Can’t Ignore the Security Threat from Climate Change.

Kerry goes on to say that this ecological deterioration is not only a biological threat but a security threat as well. Groups like al-Qaeda will use any weakness to attack our country and an ecological destabilization could be just the opening they need to strike us again.

There are those who stubbornly call climate change much ado about nothing. As Kerry points out, the memo “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” was viewed similarly and we see how that ended up. This is definitely an instance where “better safe than sorry” is the best way to go.

And now the President of the United States of America:

Afghanistan — A Different Kind of Heat

I kind of thought hell would freeze over before I found myself agreeing with conservative pundit George Will but he has hit the right note where Afghanistan is concerned. In Tuesday’s Washington Post, he writes:

Even though violence exploded across Iraq after, and partly because of, three elections, Afghanistan’s recent elections were called “crucial.” To what? They came, they went, they altered no fundamentals, all of which militate against American “success,” whatever that might mean. Creation of an effective central government? Afghanistan has never had one. U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry hopes for a “renewal of trust” of the Afghan people in the government, but the Economist describes President Hamid Karzai’s government — his vice presidential running mate is a drug trafficker — as so “inept, corrupt and predatory” that people sometimes yearn for restoration of the warlords, “who were less venal and less brutal than Mr. Karzai’s lot.”

Mullen speaks of combating Afghanistan’s “culture of poverty.” But that took decades in just a few square miles of the South Bronx. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, thinks jobs programs and local government services might entice many “accidental guerrillas” to leave the Taliban. But before launching New Deal 2.0 in Afghanistan, the Obama administration should ask itself: If U.S. forces are there to prevent reestablishment of al-Qaeda bases — evidently there are none now — must there be nation-building invasions of Somalia, Yemen and other sovereignty vacuums?

via George F. Will – Time for the U.S. to Get Out of Afghanistan – washingtonpost.com.

I’ve said before in the comments section of this blog that I’m all for stopping al-Qaeda but lately there is talk of nation building in Afghanistan and Will points out with unusual humility and all nationalistic pride put aside, that we still have nation building to do in our own country (can you spell Katrina?). There has been talk of the right war and the wrong war. The typical construct is that Iraq was the wrong war, Afghanistan is the right one. But Afghanistan was the right war. Time changes everything. We squandered our riches on Iraq. We no longer have the money to pour into Afghanistan and at this point in time we’ve reached the point of diminishing returns. al-Qaeda has been pushed into the Afghan-Pakistan border so, as Will points out, bringing the fight to al-Qaeda in Afghanistan is no longer critical. With Afghanistan’s tribal structure, bringing democracy there is next to impossible. For that matter, we are not even nation building in a grateful nation. As I pointed out in a May article, Hamid Karzai is very quick to criticize American military strategy in his country, not realizing our presence there has been a substitute for his incompetent leadership.

Our priority should be working with Pakistan to ensure that neither al-Qaeda nor any other terrorist organization gets hold of Pakistan’s nukes. As for Afghanistan being another Vietnam, no, it is worse than that. In Vietnam we had the bogeyman of communism to fight. The enemy was clear, if over dramatized. The mission, easy to define even if we were nosing into another country’s business. With Afghanistan there is no clear end-game and  no government worth defending. The enemy is elusive and in my opinion better defeated through effective intelligence and selective strikes.

You know the old saying about if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen? Afghanistan has become too hot. It’s time to get out.

A Michele Bachmann Aside (or Should That be Ass-ide?)

The dumber half of the dumb and dumber Bachmann-Palin Overdrive, dropped another brain-turd Monday night when she said:

What we have to do today is make a covenant, to slit our wrists, be blood brothers on this thing. This will not pass. We will do whatever it takes.

“This thing” was opposition to health care reform. Is Michele aware that blood brothers prick fingers? Suicide pacts slit wrists. The only explanation can be that in her daily conversation with her Lord, she was instructed to go to any length not to say the word “prick”.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

WordPress.com Political Blogger Alliance

September 2, 2009 at 12:38 pm 147 comments

Health Care Reform — Now It’s Personal — Obama Video Address: August 22, 2009

In this week’s video address, President Obama takes another stab at calming fears about impending health care reform legislation. The basic points:

  • The new bill will federally fund abortions — BUNK
  • The new bill will make it easier for illegal aliens to get free health care — BUNK
  • The new bill will incentivise euthanasia — BUNK
  • The new bill is a total takeover of the health care system — BUNK

Obama repeats another statement that he has been making consistently and that up until recently I felt was misleading. He stated that if you like your current insurance you’ll get to keep it. I have always argued that your insurance choices are dictated by your company and if they dump all choices but the public option, then you will indeed have to make a change. I tuned into Obama’s meeting with Organizing for America (OFA) at the DNC headquarters last week and finally someone asked him how this statement could be true. For the first time I heard an answer. The bill will contain what Obama referred to as a “firewall” which will explicitly make it illegal for companies to “dump” their employees into the public option. With this measure in place, my only major misgiving about the legislation has been answered.

In the days since Obama recorded this message, the fight for health care has become even more personal. Of course, for Obama it always was since his mother spent her final months fighting with insurance companies to pay for her cancer treatments. But the latest event to make the matter more personal was the passing last night of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat from Massachusetts. Kennedy spent decades fighting for universal health care and it was a prime imperative that he thrust upon the new President, even before Obama was elected.

Admittedly, I have mixed feelings about the politicization of Kennedy’s death. There seems to be a theme emerging among politicians with a pro-reform agenda, that to oppose the new health care bill is to dishonor the memory of Senator Kennedy. I consider this emotional blackmail and to some degree, disrespectful of the late Senator. Be that as it may, Kennedy himself would probably be quite pleased if his death “guilted” the opposition into cooperating with reform. We shall see what the impact is in the coming weeks.

And now the President of the United States of America:

The Kennedy Paradox

While we’re on the subject of Kennedy’s passing, one cannot let the event go by without discussing the unusual paradox that is the Kennedy clan. Legend has it that John and Robert Kennedy were voracious philanderers, even going so far as to “share” Marilyn Monroe. Ted Kennedy’s own presidential aspirations were ruined by his own detestable handling of an automobile accident at Chappaquiddick in which a female former campaign worker of Robert Kennedy was killed. We live in a forgiving country (can anyone say “David Vitter”?) and had the accident at Chappaquiddick happened last year and not 40 years ago, I still think the ultimate reaction would have been of forgiveness.

Yet the paradox remains. Embodied in the Kennedy brothers was at once an unsteady moral compass, at least in matters of sexuality, and a dogged commitment to public service. Few men have served this country so long and with such dedication as Ted Kennedy. There are those for whom Chappaquiddick erases any good deeds Kennedy did before or since. For me, the Kennedy’s teach us how complicated it is to be a human being and how readily good and evil can co-exist within us all.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

WordPress.com Political Blogger Alliance

August 27, 2009 at 12:02 am 476 comments

Bucking the Status Quo — Obama Video Address: August 15, 2009

This week, President Obama continues to hammer home his campaign for health care reform. He highlights the extremes to which reform opponents will go to scare the crap out of you. Bogeyman number 1 of course are the “death panels” made famous (and made up entirely) by former Alaska Governor, Sarah Palin.

As I wrote in a prior post, Obama may be trying to do too much with this initiative. Recent changes in tone from Washington indicate that the administration is starting to realize this. The controversial “public option” is being deemphasized in recent discussions. The end of life counseling that inspired the Death Panels lie, may also be off the table. The far left will say this is a bad thing. I don’t necessarily agree. Surely there are ways to encourage true competition in the health insurance industry without ongoing government intervention. As I said last week, much of what ails the insurance industry can probably be fixed by tougher regulation.

But make no mistake, some of the folks opposing reform have been itching for a fight going all the way back to the 1960′s and earlier. There was a revealing moment on “Meet the Press” this past Sunday when Dick Armey, lobbyist extraordinaire, was basically forced to admit he opposes Medicare and Social Security. Let more politicians echo that sentiment and then watch how fast the elderly whom they’ve scared with Death Panels, turn on them. In fact, I quite delighted last week in watching Lawrence O’Donnell, sitting in for Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s “Hardball” nail all these opponents of socialized programs. He asked them if, since they opposed Obamacare because it’s a government program, then surely they must oppose Medicare and Social Security. Not a single one would agree. You see logical consitency might lose them the entire elderly vote in 2010.

Politicians, including a disturbing number of Democrats, simply don’t want to rock the boat. Logical consistency be damned. No socialized medicine because it will turn us into a fascist state except for all the socialized medicine we already have. Just keep the status quo. If we change anything, voters might not like us anymore and of course, that is what government is all about right? Winning the popularity contest.

If we take any message from this week’s video address, it’s that the status quo will not do. If you want a bureaucrat between you and your health care, keep things as they are. Since the bureaucrat works for the insurance industry, that makes it ok, right?

And now the President of the United States of America:

Respectfully,
Rutherford

WordPress.com Political Blogger Alliance

August 18, 2009 at 12:02 am 41 comments

Straight Talk or Dodge? Obama Video Address: August 8, 2009

In this week’s video address, after making a brief comment about some (minimally) positive economic news, Obama gave a cursory discussion of the health care debate going on today. He used a phrase that really got me thinking: consumer protection.

Just how much better would this bill be going down if it had been framed as a consumer protection bill, a bill that protects those who have health care from unscrupulous insurance companies and those who don’t have health care at all. To do this, you eliminate the so called “public option” and you simply legislate serious regulation of the insurance industry. What could be regulated?

  1. Caps on premiums.
  2. Low cost plans tailored for the poor with corresponding premium caps.
  3. Minimum standards of coverage must be met by agencies. i.e. mental health coverage, end of life consultations, etc.
  4. Prohibition on denial of service based on prior condition.
  5. Prohibition of termination of coverage when a claim is made.
  6. Mandatory enrollment in SOME plan for everyone (so that the premium pool is large enough to fund claims). You drive a car, you have to insure it. You have a body, you have to insure that too.
  7. Don’t touch Medicaid and Medicare except to enhance efficiencies and eliminate waste.

Couldn’t these measures be legislated, perhaps by establishing a regulatory agency that would vet every private insurer for compliance? The cost to taxpayers making more than $250,000.00 a year would be neglible and there would be no perception that government was taking over health care.

Well, that’s not the course we’re on. While I maintain that the air is full of melodrama right now, with Chicken Little’s of all persuasions running around yelling and screaming, I don’t think the White House or Congress has done a good job of education and that is perhaps because the bills being discussed at least sound like they are doing too much too soon.

A much more informative discussion of these issues took place at a New Hampshire town hall meeting hosted by Obama today. I watched the town hall live.  A good “live blog” of the town hall can be found here. Obama dismissed some of the foolshness going on but “dodged” a couple of points that will continue to undermine his effort until he frankly discusses them.

The Highlights:

  1. Obama dispelled the death panel rumor.  There is a provision that will allow patients to be reimbursed for advisory sessions with their doctor concerning end of life issues. Period.
  2. Health care will be rationed … nonsense. Health care is already rationed. This legislation will restrict companies from denying coverage or dropping coverage altogether based on prior illness or an expensive claim based on sudden catastrophic illness.
  3. If it’s good enough for us why not good enough for Congress? A nonsensical argument … we will be given a plan comparable to what Congress already has. Our public option will resemble their Federal Plan. Why do they need to be on a plan comparable to what they already have?
  4. The “snitch list”: One town hall questioner made a passing reference to flag@whitehouse.org and Obama pounced on it. He griped that he makes an attempt to hear what people are thinking about and he gets accused of creating an “enemies list”. I’ve stated before (in the comments section of earlier posts) that the so called snitch list was a good idea executed poorly.

The Lowlights (and Dodges?):

  1. Obama repeated something he has said all along, namely that if you like your current doctor and your current plan, you won’t have to change. The problem is that Obama has no control over this. He is writing a check he can’t cash. If the public option lowballs all private insurance, and private insurance refuses to lower their premiums, employers will choose to offer their employees ONLY the public option. This would indeed force employees onto the public option with a potential change in coverage and doctor. Until Obama acknowledges this possibility, he will take a credibility hit.
  2. He was asked why he changed his mind from being for  single payer years ago but not for single payer now. I was quite disappointed to see Obama completely dodge this question. He reiterated his support for the current plan which is not single payer, but he did not acknowledge his prior position (which is well documented) nor why or whether he has had a true change of heart.
  3. In an attempt to assert that the public plan will not drive private insurance out of business, he said, “If you think about it, UPS and FedEx are doing just fine. It’s the Post Office that’s always having problems.” Yikes! If he had just said UPS and FedEx are doing fine he would have made his point but then he went the extra mile and said the USPS is having problems. What does that say? Private insurance will do just fine because the public option will be the one that’s “always having problems”? Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

This blogger concludes that the Obama administration has lost control of the message in large part because the message is too complex. Consumers love to be protected. Make the bill about consumer protection and then we’re in business!

And now the President of the United States of America:

Respectfully,
Rutherford

WordPress.com Political Blogger Alliance

August 11, 2009 at 4:47 pm 402 comments

The Good Old Days Weren’t That Good: Obama Video Address: August 1, 2009

In this week’s video address President Obama spells out some of the economic indicators that show light at the end of the tunnel. Even under the Bush administration, by all accounts, our country was on the verge of a financial collapse. Now folks like Tim Geithner, Larry Summers and Alan Greenspan all say we’ve moved away from the edge of the cliff.

But I want to highlight a comment that Obama only alludes to without getting overly explicit. The fact is folks, that the good old days were never that good. Our “prosperity” was built on a pile of debt, both nationally and individually. Lots of consumers buying anything their heart desired confused charging it with paying for it. Thus even before the economic crisis of last September, much of our wealth was just an illusion.

This complicates the job Obama has to do. We need not just a recovery but a change in how we manage our money. Wall Street must never again be allowed to play Russian roulette with our retirement accounts and we as individuals need to start relying more on cash than credit.

And now, the President of the United States of America:

Respectfully,
Rutherford

WordPress.com Political Blogger Alliance

August 5, 2009 at 10:44 am 213 comments

Using Fear to Fight Health Care Reform: Obama Video Address: July 25, 2009

When I was in college, I was a bit of what you’d call “a worry wart”. I always analyzed all the ways things could go wrong before I took action. My roommate used to call these “imaginary horribles”. As I look at the public reaction to health care reform, I see lots of imaginary horribles floating to the surface, stoked by Republican opposition.

One great instance was when Obama was at an AARP forum and he was asked by a phone caller whether it was true that under the new health care reform, government officials would visit every medicare recipient to discuss how they wanted to die. This would be funny if it were not so sad and pathetic. Innocent people being snookered into believing nightmare scenarios by obstructionist Republicans. In this week’s video address, Obama discusses one concrete measure that the reform will provide which will make matters better for small business.

And now the President of the United States of America:

The regular appearance of bogeymen has made me pessimistic recently about the prospects of health care reform but fortunately the blue dog democrats are coming along. This interview with Senator Sherrod Brown talks about what is in the various versions of the bills, without all the bogeymen.

I’m also glad to see Obama finally getting a bit pissed publicly about this and warning folks that Republicans “are just trying to scare you”.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

WordPress.com Political Blogger Alliance

July 30, 2009 at 12:46 am 104 comments

Waterloo? Obama Video Address: July 18, 2009

Republican Senator from South Carolina, Jim DeMint said concerning health care reform, “If we’re able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.”

And there you have it my friends. One declarative sentence that defines what is wrong with the Republican party and what is wrong with Washington right now. Whether you believe Obama or not, his answer to DeMint that health care reform is “not about me”, is exactly the right answer. It’s also not about politics. It’s about meeting a moral imperative in a way that does not ruin us economically.

Now the question remains, will health care reform bankrupt America and lead to rationing of care? The fact is that the legislation is still being crafted. The folks who say the sky is falling are premature. Concern about long term effects of legislation are not limited to Republicans. They are shared by moderate Democrats. I personally find it unlikely that for all his persuasive charm, Obama will bull-doze through a bill that hurts America, as the Obama-is-Satan contingent would have you believe.

Are there problems with Obama’s video address this week? Well there is one striking error that Obama keeps repeating. He may be doing it because he doesn’t think the average American can deal with any complexity in the argument. When Obama says you will not have to change your plan or your doctor, he is ignoring the fact that under the current system, without any reform, your employer decides your health care insurance options. No one under current policy can guarantee from one year to the next that their health care insurance or their in-plan doctors won’t change. Nothing in the legislation being debated right now changes that. The question of whether the presence of a public plan will induce most employers to drop other options remains a valid one.

Despite this, I still say to all the Chicken-Little’s in the country that the sky is not falling. We will end up with health care reform that only goes a small fraction toward the ideal. I suspect everyone will not be covered. Yet I also expect the legislation will stop insurance companies’ current immoral practices. Once again, the Republicans offer little by way of solutions and by the rhetoric of some of their more loose-lipped Senators, show their true intentions: to abandon what is best for this country simply to prove they can stop Obama.

I ask my conservative friends, is this really what you sent your representatives to Washington to do?

And now the President of the United States of America:

Respectfully,
Rutherford

WordPress.com Political Blogger Alliance

July 22, 2009 at 12:13 am 135 comments

For Those Who Want Specifics — Obama Video Address: July 11, 2009

As President Barack Obama’s polling numbers start to fall, it is clear that the country is growing impatient for positive results from the Recovery Act. One clear problem here is simply a matter of public relations. Obama seems to send two messages: 1. He is not happy with the current rate of progress and 2. he is confident that his strategy will reap benefits down the line. Neither of these approaches work with an audience who is thinking “what have you done for me lately?”

Perhaps someone is whispering in his ear because this week’s video address finally spells out some concrete successes and also puts the rate of recovery in a proper context. Obama needs to do more of this, not less. In summary:

  1. A two year plan is being judged as a failure after four months — unrealistic expectations — folks need to get real.
  2. The recovery act has already provided 43 billion dollars in tax relief.
  3. State deficits that would have doubled without the recovery act, have not done so.
  4. 3000 jobs were created in California for a solar plant.
  5. 2600 jobs will be created in Michigan manufacturing wind turbines.

Obama neglected to mention that the rate of job loss although disturbingly high is slowing. The number of jobs lost per month is less than it was six months ago.

While some of his opponents accuse him of spinning too positive (the most vocal of which say he is outright lying), I don’t think he is telling enough of a positive story. With a country hungry for the change they voted for in November, Obama must use every opportunity to present concrete and specific progress reports to the American people.

And now the President of the United States of America:

Respectfully,
Rutherford

WordPress.com Political Blogger Alliance

July 12, 2009 at 11:29 pm 147 comments

Obama Video Address: July 4, 2009

Watching this week’s video address reminded me a bit of the HBO biography of John Adams that aired a year or so ago. Our independence from Great Britain was not forged by a monolithic group of men all headed in the same direction. On the contrary there was heated debate on how and when we should declare our independence. There were different attitudes toward Great Britain. There were different notions of what our new country should look like.

Yet out of this tumult, a great nation was born, one that has evolved over 233 years to broaden the freedoms of all of its citizens and to always strive to do what is morally right. Every two years, we place our trust in members of the executive and/or legislative branches of our country, through freely held elections, to make and enforce laws that will make our country the best that it can be. On this blog, there is emotional debate on the motives of our lawmakers and enforcers. There are some who say our President, in particular, wants to destroy this country as we know it. I say this is foolishness.

Look at the goals laid out by our chief executive and tell me how they are not meant to make America the best it can be? Methods matter. Methods to achieve these goals may be completely off the mark. Time will tell. But the goals are worthy ones and the man charged with leading our country toward those goals is worthy as well.

Our country has survived 233 years of different opinions being debated and adjudicated. Over the long haul, our country has been the better for it. We will survive these times of starkly different approaches and opinions as well. Our forefathers have taught us that the debate is good. More than good it is essential to the preservation of this union we all hold dear.

Let the debates continue.

And now the President of the United States of America:

Respectfully,
Rutherford

WordPress.com Political Blogger Alliance

July 6, 2009 at 12:38 am 261 comments

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