Category Archives: Good Government

President Obama’s high-water mark

President Obama at the Tomb of the Unknowns, Nov. 11, 2016.

President Obama at the Tomb of the Unknowns, Nov. 11, 2016.

President Barack Obama is leaving office on a high note. Many people might not remember what it was like when Obama took office in January 2009. The Bush Recession was underway, and America was losing 779,000 jobs per month. Stores were closing. Restaurants were empty. And our treasury was also empty (in fact, trillions in debt) from Bush’s disastrous Iraq War. Obama, with no help from the Republicans, turned things around to the point where he will be turning over a country that, by most objective measures, is doing very well. Let’s take a look at some of those numbers, so that we will have a comparison for the future:

John Glenn, Good Government hero

NASA astronauts John Glenn (C), Alan Shepard (R) and Gus Grissom (L)

NASA astronauts John Glenn (C), Alan Shepard (R) and Gus Grissom (L)

John Glenn, one of America’s heroes of the 20th Century, died last Thursday at age 95. Glenn was a highly decorated Marine Corps fighter pilot in both World War II and the Korean War, rising to the level of Colonel. Then, as immortalized in the book and movie “The Right Stuff,” Glenn was chosen as one of the original NASA Mercury Seven astronauts, where he became the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962. Glenn went on to serve four terms as a U.S. Senator from Ohio, and he even returned to space at age 77, the oldest person ever to do so. In between, Glenn ran for president in the 1984 Democratic Party primaries.

What do all of John Glenn’s heroic accomplishments have in common? They were all done as part of the U.S. Government.

Democratic revolution in U.S. House

U.S. House Democrats stage anti-gun violence sit-in on House floor

U.S. House Democrats stage anti-gun violence sit-in on House floor

Yesterday, the type of “political revolution” that Bernie Sanders called for but did not deliver during the 2016 Democratic Party primaries was launched instead by the Democrats in the House of Representatives. In a stunning, unprecedented move, Democratic Representatives protested the Republican majority and the National Rifle Association by staging a “sit-in” on the House floor after the Republicans refused to vote on gun violence legislation in the wake of the June 12 Orlando, Florida nightclub shootings in which 49 people were killed by a man using a semi-automatic assault-type rifle and a semi-automatic pistol. 

President Hillary Clinton is going to disappoint me, and that’s OK

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, both imperfect.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, both imperfect.

I’m astounded by the number of purity tests and “the perfect is the enemy of the good” sentiments coming from some Democratic Party primary voters this year. Do these voters insist on perfection from anyone else in their lives — their significant others, friends, bosses, co-workers or family members? Do they receive it? Has anyone in their lives never disappointed them? So why are voters expecting perfection and purity from their presidential candidates? I have no doubt that President Hillary Clinton will disappoint me sometimes, and that’s fine with me.

Issue-based unity for supporters of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders

Democratic U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer, Edward Markey and others demonstrate for a full Supreme Court

Democratic U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer, Edward Markey and others demonstrate for a full Supreme Court

Once again, the 2016 presidential primaries have been an emotional roller-coaster. The Democratic Party, while not engaged in open civil war like the Republicans, has certainly felt the sting. Nasty things have been said, hurt feelings have been felt. Therefore, while Hillary Clinton has all but won the Democratic Party nomination and Bernie Sanders has all but conceded, and the endgame is near, no one can expect Democratic Party unity overnight. Instead, Democratic voters should now focus and fight together on the issues that unite them against the Republicans. Here’s a partial list of such issues:

The second one-word difference between liberals and conservatives

Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park

Last year, we came up with a one-word difference between liberals and conservatives. That one word was “Believe,” as in, “I don’t believe in climate change despite what those 97 percent of scientists say.” Basically, conservatives often use “believe” in a blind faith kind of way, whereas liberals often use “believe” to validate something that is backed up by facts and evidence. We have now identified a second word that, when you hear it being used, also gives you a major clue as to whether the person saying it is a liberal or a conservative:

Democratic vs. Republican Presidents Part 5: The Environment and Climate Change

Intermountain Power Project coal-fired plant, Utah

Intermountain Power Project coal-fired plant, Utah

The death of Republican U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has refocused attention on how much is at stake in the 2016 presidential election. We have an ongoing series on this subject, including the president’s power to nominate Supreme Court justices and other federal court judges. Another area of great importance and great difference between the parties which is at stake in November is the future of our environment, including fighting climate change.

Barack Obama, the anti-lame duck president

President Obama at the COP 21 climate conference in France

President Obama at the COP 21 climate conference in France

President Barack Obama this week signaled that he would have a robust final year in office as he announced executive actions on the registration of gun purchases, especially narrowing the “gun show loophole.” Obama also held a town hall meeting aired by CNN on Thursday to talk about his anti-gun violence actions. Moreover, just a week ago, President Obama appeared on an epic, hilarious episode of Jerry Seinfeld‘s web series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” Obama was not only very funny and relaxed, he also managed to plug his Affordable Care Act, which has covered an estimated 17.6 million more people in the past two years, causing the percentage of Americans without health insurance to drop to the lowest level ever measured. In short, President Obama is exploding the stereotype of the lame duck president.

Democratic vs. Republican Presidents Part 3: Disaster Relief

"Where Is FEMA?" t-shirt sold in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina

“Where Is FEMA?” t-shirt sold in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina

(This is the third installment in a series about differences between Democratic and Republican Presidents in areas where they have direct control. See our Democratic vs. Republican Presidents category for the rest.)

In 1986, President Ronald Reagan famously said: “the nine most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’” Reagan’s statement epitomizes the conservative anti-government philosophy that has taken hold among Republican presidents and presidential candidates. This is a huge difference between Republicans and Democrats, and this difference is especially apparent when it comes to disaster relief.

Democratic vs. Republican Presidents Part 2: Energy Policy

Ivanpah solar energy facility, California

Ivanpah solar energy facility, California

(This is the second installment in a series about differences between Democratic and Republican Presidents in areas where they have direct control. See our Democratic vs. Republican Presidents category for the rest.)

In June 1979, Democratic U.S. President Jimmy Carter had 32 solar panels installed on the roof of the White House, for water heating. By 1986, Republican President Ronald Reagan had the panels removed, and also:

gutted the research and development budgets for renewable energy at the then-fledgling U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) and eliminated tax breaks for the deployment of wind turbines and solar technologies—recommitting the nation to reliance on cheap but polluting fossil fuels, often from foreign suppliers.

This see-sawing between Republican and Democratic presidents on energy policy continues today. It’s fair to say that Republican presidents never saw a fossil fuel they didn’t like, while Democratic presidents have made efforts toward conservation and the development and use of clean, renewable energy.