American Elephants

Obama’s “Official Business” Tour of the Battleground States! by The Elephant's Child

President Obama set out today on his “official business” Midwestern bus tour. The “official business” seems to be blasting Republicans at every stop, extolling the plans about how to create jobs that he was going to figure out just as soon as he got back to the White House. You know, the ones he hasn’t come up with in 2½ years.

White House officials (Jay Carney) have repeatedly insisted that Obama’s tour through the Midwest is “official business,” but it is fairly obviously a campaign tour that they are billing to the taxpayers. You can tell that it’s “official business” because the president has no tie on and has rolled up his sleeves — always a sign that someone means business.

He said that he hopes”when Congress gets back in September, they’re going to have a new attitude.”

He criticized gridlock and Republican intransigence and told the crowd that he was there “to enlist you in a fight.  We are fighting for the future of this country, and that’s a fight we are going to win.”

The White House was adamant in the days before the trip that the president was not campaigning, but doing his job by getting out into the country.  White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Air Force One that:

To suggest that any time the president leaves Washington it’s a political trip would mean that presidents could never leave unless they were physically campaigning on their own behalf, and he’s not; he’s out here doing his job and meeting with the American people.

Well, sure, that’s just the kind of bus that presidents always travel around in when conducting the official business of the United States of America. And celebrating yourself is not usually called “official business.” Though since it’s Obama, that’s probably how he thinks of it. I thought that the one billion dollars Obama was raising for campaign funds was supposed to pay for campaign events.

Obama said he was going to have a plan ready for Republicans when they got back from vacation on creating jobs and reducing the debt.  A good start, admittedly tiny in proportion to the massive debt Obama has created, would be to pay for his own campaign swing.

Administration Schemes Aren’t Doing Well in Court. by The Elephant's Child

In the Courts last week, the big story was another rejection of ObamaCare, when the individual mandate was declared unconstitutional by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. The same day,  however, a federal court in Wyoming threw out Obama administration rules that sought to slow down expedited environmental review of oil and gas drilling on federal land.

The Western Energy Alliance sued in response to the administration’s junk-science drilling ban. Salazar had pulled scores of oil leases by invoking bogus ecological claims, and has presided over an expansive land grab by administrative fiat. Salazar simply ignored the law and tried to strangle development in miles of red-tape regulation, and months of stalling.

Congress had mandated an expedited review process for oil and natural gas development where the impact is minimal or where environmental analysis has been done.  Salazar’s Interior Department had ignored this mandate and curtailed the expedited reviews without any formal process or public comment period. The federal judge was Nancy Freudenthal, appointed to the bench by President Obama.

Can’t We Improve the Electoral Process? by The Elephant's Child

Please, can someone explain why the Iowa Straw Poll is a big deal?  It doesn’t mean anything—it’s a straw poll. It means nothing.  Predicts nothing.  Confirms nothing.  For the media, it’s a chance to compare and contrast the candidates, encourage gaffes, look for awkward stories at a time when most people are more concerned with their vacations.

Surely we can develop a better campaign process.  How do people decide who they will vote for? Some decide on a candidate’s looks. How many actually read a candidate’s speeches? How many attend rallies or go to hear a campaign speech in person? How important are a candidate’s videos? How many rely on the pundits to decide for them?

I really hate debates!  They are completely artificial.  They tell you nothing about a candidate. The reporters are there to play “gotcha,” hoping to make news with questions that will be awkward for the candidate to answer. The desirable outcome is a huge gaffe that ruins someones’ chances, fairly or unfairly. Think of Howard Dean’s scream, Al Gore’s heavy sighing,  Michael Dukakis in the tank. This is what we base our vote on?

We’re supposed to make decisions based on how well a candidate answers questions —questions that seldom address directly the things that we really want to know. Debates encourage voters to make decisions about candidates on superficial things, when they should be making decisions based on deep knowledge about what kind of a person a candidate is and how he/or she sees the problems that face the country, and what they would do about them.

I’d like to see something more like a one-on-one intelligent conversation about America between each candidate and a studiously non-partisan interviewer.  Maybe a series of 3 such conversations, per candidate, each with a different interviewer.  Could studiously non-partisan interviewers be found? Choosing a president should be more than who has the best advertising campaign.

What do we want to know about a candidate? What is their understanding of America’s place in the world, our allies and those who oppose us.  What experience do they bring to the office, and how do they think it qualifies them for the office they seek? How do they evaluate the American people and what they want?  How do they see the responsibilities of the office?  Who do they listen to as serious advisers?

I’m not convinced that campaign finance is nearly as important as claimed. I suspect that there is a lot more electoral fraud than is generally understood, but that view may be influenced by some very fraudulent elections here in Washington State.

Elections are important, and the nomination process and the electoral contest should reflect that importance.


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