Monthly Archives: December 2010

President Obama’s December to Remember

 

President Barack Obama

 

 

Way back on July 3 of 2010, a reader of my Mitchell R. Grosky Photography Blog responded to my entry on “The Hope and Promise of Barack Obama” by writing, “How’s that hope and change working out for you?”  At the time, G.M.’s comment left me speechless.  Of course, I could have spoken out about the success of the Stimulus in helping to the stop the bleeding of the Bush recession and to begin to turn the tide on the economy.  I could also have pointed to the fulfillment of his pledge to end the War in Iraq.  Instead, I remained silent, knowing that I had certainly pushed the envelope by optimistically  placing our new President among his predecessors on Mt. Rushmore.

You can see the original blog entry at

http://mrgrosky.wordpress.com/2009/01/20/the-hope-and-promise-of-president-barak-obama

but my major point was this:

“In Barack Obama, I feel that we have a dynamic, compassionate individual whose wisdom, intelligence, and willingness to listen to others will be essential in confronting the enormous problems that confront America and the entire world. With the support, sacrifice, and work of the American people, it is my hope that President Obama will lead us into a brighter future, one in which people of all colors, races, religions, ethnic origins, and life choices, live in mutual respect. I look to a more peaceful world, one in which the greatness of America is manifest by the elimination of poverty and by the establishment of equal opportunity for all.”

Well, with the actions of President Obama and the Congress over the past two weeks, I now feel emboldened to respond not only to G. M. , but also to all of those others who may have asked that same question:  “So how’s all that hope and change workin’ out for you?”

To all of them I respond that President Obama–at the end of just the first two years of his Presidency–has accomplished an extraordinary amount!  Not only has he ended the  War in Iraq, not only has he passed a sweeping health care bill, not only has he taken steps which are leading to an improving economy, not only has he improved the outlook on America among nearly all of our allies, but he ends the year with these five amazing successes:

ONE:  He has fulfilled his commitment to end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”–ending discrimination against gays and lesbians who fought for our country but were removed from the military.

TWO:  He has extended the tax cuts which will ensure nearly all working Americans a payroll tax cut of at least 1,000 dollars—even at the expense of continuing those tax cuts for the rich (which he had hoped to eliminate but was unable to do so because of the Republicans’ intransigence) .  This bill also extended unemployment insurance for millions of Americans still without jobs.

THREE:  He has passed his number one foreign policy initiative: the Arms Control Treaty with Russia–the new START treaty which will “scale back leftover cold war nuclear arsenals” and make for a safer world.

FOUR:  He has secured a deal for a bill which will provide 4 billion dollars for medical care of first responders who became ill after inhaling fumes and dust from Ground Zero on Sept. 11.

FIVE:  He and Congress have passed new sweeping changes in food safety, increasing inspections of food processing facilities and forcing recalcitrant companies to recall tainted food.

Each of these accomplishments is significant by itself.  Together they establish President Obama as a very successful President in just his first two years—especially when all of these successes have come despite the Republican party’s announced goal of ensuring from Day One that President Obama not be given any successes at all.  Having proven beyond a doubt that he will do all he can to fulfill his campaign promises, President Obama begins the second half of his first term with a new respect for his perseverance, his intellect, his compassion, and his commitment.

Sure—the Nobel Prize may have been premature, as was my semi-tongue-in-cheek anointing him as heir to Mt. Rushmore……but the accomplishments noted above prove that President Obama is well on his way to a Presidency of Extraordinary Success.

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Julian Assange, Elizabeth Edwards, GPS

Thoughts for the Week (December 5-12, 2010):

Julian Assange–This week Mr. Assange, the Australian journalist and founder of WikiLeaks, was arrested for crimes against two woman.   Time and the courts will tell whether he is guilty of these crimes.  Yet Mr. Assange has already taken responsibility for a different very serious offense, that is  the leaking of thousands of sensitive documents—many of which may be endangering the safety of U.S. and other servicemen.  It is exasperating to me that certain individuals maintain a holier than thou attitude of knowing more or better than the rest of us what is best for us and for the world.   Mr. Assange’s philosophy has been quoted as “To radically shift regime behavior we must think clearly and boldly for if we have learned anything, it is that regimes do not want to be changed. We must think beyond those who have gone before us and discover technological changes that embolden us with ways to act in which our forebears could not . . . The more secretive or unjust an organisation is, the more leaks induce fear and paranoia in its leadership and planning coterie. … Since unjust systems, by their nature induce opponents, and in many places barely have the upper hand, mass leaking leaves them exquisitely vulnerable to those who seek to replace them with more open forms of governance.”

I understand that some things which happen nationally or globally behind the scenes would be best exposed.   Certainly abuses in human rights need to see the light of day so they can be exposed and prevented in the future.  Yet it seems to me to be a dangerous trend to force a society  to allow all of its actions–including military secrets–to be exposed and spotlighted on a world stage for everyone to see.

Daniel Yates, a former British military intelligence officer, wrote “Assange has seriously endangered the lives of Afghan civilians …”

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,. Mike Mullen, said, “Mr. Assange can say whatever he likes about the greater good he thinks he and his source are doing, but the truth is, they might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family.”

U.S. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell  has called Assange “a high-tech terrorist”.

(Thanks to Wikipedia for the above quotations).

As for me, every year or two we freely elect people to run our government.  I am content to allow those representatives (who have much more information and expertise than I) to hold in confidence that which they feel is truly in the nation’s best interest to do so.  I would ask that Mr. Assange and his WikiLeaks organization do the same.

Elizabeth Edwards:  The elusive definition of grace received a new meaning this week with the death of Elizabeth Edwards, an attorney, wife, mother, and  political activist who was against the War in Iraq and who waged battles on behalf of universal health care and gay rights.  Throughout the Kerry/Edwards vs. Bush/Cheney election fight, throughout her struggle against breast cancer, and throughout her husband’s infidelity scandal, she  maintained her honor and dignity, and came to symbolize hope and grace for young and old–Democrat and Republican alike.  I have added her last facebook entry to my own profile list of favorite quotations:

The days of our lives, for all of us, are numbered. We know that. And, yes, there are certainly times when we aren’t able to muster as much strength and patience as we would like. It’s called being human.But I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious. And for that I am grateful.”       —Elizabeth Edwards

Peace be with you always, Elizabeth, and may your family hold in their hearts and minds the most beautiful images of a wonderful woman.

And finally, a few thoughts about that most essential of modern inventions, the GPS.

I bought my Garmin GPS about two years ago in anticipation of my cross-country trip shortly after I retired from 35 years as a teacher and principal.  It has since proven to be the one tech gadget I can not live without.  OK, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but it is certainly the one that I try to never leave home without (Please excuse the mangled syntax and ending preposition).  It has made maps and mapquest obsolete.  I no longer need to listen to well-intentioned long-winded directions given by well-meaning friends.  I no longer need to rely on a co-pilot next to me armed with the latest AAA map.   I just type in my destination, and Jill (the American English voice of my GPS) directs me every step of the way.  If I make any kind of mistake, I inevitably hear those sometimes dreaded/sometimes welcomed words:  “re-caluculating.”  I sometimes think if nothing other than the Global Positioning Satellites (GPS) had come from our Space program, it would still be worth it.  (Yes, I know that the space program is responsible for far more technological advances than just GPS—just a bit of hyperbole to make a point).

Whether the GPS allows me to expertly navigate around my own lovely Commonwealth of Massachusetts or permits me to travel across the entire country and photograph the awesome sights that our nation offers to us all, it is a technological marvel, and one that benefits us all.

Now if only future techies could develop a GPS that could be activated when a political party seems to have lost its way…

Until next time,

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Filed under Obituaries, Politics, Tributes, World