Posts Tagged ‘Obama’


Tuesday, 24 November 2009

The news noted a few days ago that, according to the Gallup Organization, the approval rating for President Obama had fallen below 50%.

I've been watching the Gallup poll (along with other polls) for some time now, and had become increasingly doubtful of its reports. As the rating approached the 50% line, an apparent asymmetry developed in the perturbations, to which I refer as skating. This skating was at its most pronounced when the rating would hit the 50% line; it might blip up, but it would not blip down.

The Gallup Organization has referred to the President's drop below the 50% line as symbolic, but in a nation that likes its decisions made by majorities or by super-majorities, and with the President being of a party that named itself for democracy, having less than majority approval is more than merely symbolic.

The next milestone comes if-and-when the reported share of the population who disapprove of the President's performance exceed those who approve. The Gallup Organization has reported the disapproval rating being as high as 44%, and as generally climbing. But, guess what? For the last few days, even as the President's approval rating has been admitted to have dropped below 50%, the disapproval rating has been reported as plateauing, as if the loss of approval completely translated into indifference or indecision. Perhaps we are now going to see a sort of complementary asymmetry of reported perturbations for disapproval.

(The third milestone would be when the disapproval rating climbed above 50%.)

Booby Prize

Friday, 9 October 2009

The short-term result of the Nobel Committee giving the Peace Prize to President Obama will probably be to increase his political capital in some amount (in a context where polls shows his domestic approval trending downward and at or below 50%). In the long-run, this award will prove damaging to popular American perceptions both of Europe and of the Democratic Party.

American perceptions of Europe will suffer, because the only distinctive objectives had by President Obama which enjoy majority support are objectives at which he will not succeed. And American perceptions of the Democratic Party will suffer because it will be seen not simply as seeking the wrong things but as doing so in alliance with alien forces.


Friday, 11 September 2009

Joe Wilson has behaved like a d_mn'd fool, and there's not much reason to expect him to stop behaving like a d_mn'd fool, but he's being offered a Golden Opportunity:

Tensions remain after Joe Wilson Apology by Josh Gerstein and John Bresnahan at Politico

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) says he’s done apologizing for his outburst during President Barack Obama’s prime-time speech Wednesday, but two House Democratic leaders are calling for a formal reprimand if Wilson continues to refuse to make a public statement of contrition on the House floor.

A clever politician would agree that such an apology were required, and then proceed to deliver something that were indeed an expression of regret, and impossible to fault on technical grounds, but that wrapped an explanation of Wilson's ostensible concerns. The apology could be formally very polite and yet a strong declaration of belief in opposition to the President's programmes. Listeners at all inclined to sympathy for Mr Wilson or to anxieties about the President would have that sympathy or those anxieties greatly reïnforced.

Were I a Democrat then, while I'd generally bet on Wilson's continued foolishness, I wouldn't take this particular bet. The chance of losing is quite low, but the loss would be far too great.

Better Keep Your Head

Thursday, 10 September 2009

In predicting response to the speech yester-day of President Obama, I certainly did not anticipate the outburst by Joe Wilson.

Pericles once noted that the choices of a leader should be informed by the fact that he would not always be the leader.

Our two major political parties need to remember, when in opposition, that their presumption is that they will not always be in opposition. Their behaviors when in opposition set precedents that will be followed by each other party when it is forced into opposition. The next time that we have a Republican President speaking before Congress, there will be less to prevent a Democrat from heckling him or her.

…and Eating It Too

Friday, 4 September 2009
White House Objects to School Lunch Advocates' Poster Mentioning Obama Daughters by Jake Tapper at ABC News

We've been very clear I think from even before the administration started that their two girls would have a very private life, and we want to protect that private life and their privacy, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said this morning when asked about the PCRM posters. And we hope that others will be respectful, as many in the media have been, about not using the girls as a publicity stunt.

Obama photo evokes Kennedy moment from the BBC

The US White House has released a photograph of President Barack Obama's daughter Sasha sneaking up on her father as he works in the Oval Office.

The image has drawn comparisons with the famous 1963 image of John F Kennedy Jnr playing underneath the Oval Office desk as his father reads documents.

Painting by Numbers

Thursday, 3 September 2009

On 9 September, President Obama is to address Congress on health care reform. Here is what I predict to follow:

  • The main-stream media will declare the speech to be a sort of triumph.
  • In all likelihood, the President's approval ratings will blip back up over the next few days, and the main-stream media will treat this increase as a trend.
  • The approval ratings will begin again to decline, but the main-stream media will ignore the decline until his ratings are at or below the previous low.
  • When the main-stream media admit to the lack of an upward trend, it will be to declare the approval ratings to be volatile, as if they are merely oscillating, rather than trending downwards.
  • When it can no longer be denied that the President is generally unpopular, main-stream media analysis will largely be of a supposed inability of the American public to be happy with any President, as opposed to an honest examination of the differences between what had been hoped and expected (reasonably and unreasonably) of Mr Obama in particular, and what has actually come under his Administration.


Saturday, 20 June 2009
Obama Closes Doors on Openness by Michael Isikoff at Newsweek
As a senator, Barack Obama denounced the Bush administration for holding secret energy meetings with oil executives at the White House. But last week public-interest groups were dismayed when his own administration rejected a Freedom of Information Act request for Secret Service logs showing the identities of coal executives who had visited the White House to discuss Obama's clean coal policies.

Presidential Prognostications

Monday, 15 June 2009

I am not at all sanguine about the oppositional up-rising in Iran. Although it is evident that Ahmadinejad's faction rigged the counting of the vote, I think that he would have won, by approximately the same margin, had the votes been honestly counted. I see the up-rising as that of a minority, and of a minority that is considerably less thuggish than the majority whom they oppose.

Meanwhile, I am fairly sure that, by the end of the calendar year, the attempt by our own President to reëngineer America will have failed, and that the changes that he will have been able to effect will, over-all, be viewed by most Americans as wrong-headed in one way or another.

In some future entry, I'll have more to say about my perceptions of his programme.

Candidata and Candidate

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Back when Barack Obama and John McCain had selected their respective running-mates for the Presidential race, a 'Net friend wrote

[…] it does seem that Obama picked the best person to help him govern, whereas McCain picked the best person to help him win.
which was certainly a plausible interpretation of the choice (so long as we tweak it to refer to the expectations of Obama and of McCain).

Now Obama has nominated an appointee to the Supreme Court who is unlikely to sway other judges in favor of left-wing opinion:

The Case Against Sotomayor by Jeffrey Rosen of the New Republic 04 May 2009

[…] Most are Democrats and all of them want President Obama to appoint a judicial star of the highest intellectual caliber who has the potential to change the direction of the court. Nearly all of them acknowledged that Sotomayor is a presumptive front-runner, but nearly none of them raved about her. They expressed questions about her temperament, her judicial craftsmanship, and most of all, her ability to provide an intellectual counterweight to the conservative justices, as well as a clear liberal alternative.

The most consistent concern was that Sotomayor, although an able lawyer, was not that smart and kind of a bully on the bench, as one former Second Circuit clerk for another judge put it. She has an inflated opinion of herself, and is domineering during oral arguments, but her questions aren't penetrating and don't get to the heart of the issue. (During one argument, an elderly judicial colleague is said to have leaned over and said, Will you please stop talking and let them talk?) […]

Sotomayor has infamously asserted

I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.
Well, the logician in me wants to point out that the decisions of any wise person (Latina or otherwise) can be be expected to be better over-all than the decisions of a typical person (white and male or otherwise); wisdom simply isn't typical. So if Sotomayor hadn't implicitly inserted a second wise in front of white male, then she would have expressed something basically true but close-on to vacuous, and cluttered-up with inappropriate adjectives.

Unfortunately, she was arguing against the claim that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases, so she was arguing for a sort of sexism, at least a sexism conditional upon race.

In any case, the problem is that Sotomayor herself isn't wise. That leaves the (somewhat redundant) Latina woman part. That part wouldn't help her to reach better decisions or even to argue effectively for whatever judgments she reached, but it would help the Democrats in future elections and help Obama in particular.

(The Republicans are in poor position to complain about such a selection. When running for President in 1980, Ronald Reagan promised that his first nominee to the SCotUS would be a woman. Worse, the woman whom he nominated was Sandra Day O'Connor, whose judicial philosophy, such as it was, was baddumbmommism — an insistence on ending specific conflicts by imposing pragmatic compromise.)

Presidential Humor

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Those who used to follow my LJ (long since deleted and purged) might recall that I find Rush Limbaugh deeply offensive, and began actively avoiding listening to him after he blamed the 1992 Los Angeles riots on Rodney King.

But is it funny to accuse Limbaugh of treason for expressing a hope that the Administration fails in its programmes of state expansion? Is it funny to suggest that Limbaugh is a henchman of Osama bin Laden? Is it funny to express a hope that Limbaugh suffer from kidney failure?

Apparently our current President thinks that it is.

There should never have been any acceptance of the entwined notions that bald hatred, utterly lacking cleverness, counts as comedy, and that so long as it's labelled as comedy it somehow doesn't count as hatred.