Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

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ARE WE DONE NOW?

May 5, 2011

Eight years ago to the day, then President George W. Bush announced “Mission Accomplished.”

It wasn’t.

Sunday, May 1, 2011, our current president did no such thing. But he did announce that a covert military operation ended the life of Osama bin Ladin. For nearly all  Americans, this was the real “Mission Accomplished.” People took to the streets in celebration almost immediately after hearing the news.

This does very little to change the current terrorist landscape. However, we have now accomplished the goal that we set when we invaded Afghanistan: to bring to justice those who perpetrated the 9-11 attacks. Al-Qaida is no longer the top-down, heavily-armed and well-financed organization that it was a decade ago. It has been fractured into small groups throughout the world – sometimes with not more than one or two members per group. And now, their leader is gone.

Militarily, President Obama scored a huge success with the death of bin Ladin. Leon Panetta, the head of the CIA, and the Navy Seals team that handled the mission did a remarkable job.

For those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001, there will be some closure and personally, I couldn’t be happier that bin Ladin is out of the picture. But it’s a hollow victory for me. We’ve sacrificed so much blood and treasure over these last nine years that his demise seems far less significant by comparison.

Politically, this event resulted in a boost in the president’s poll numbers. He succeeded where his two predecessors failed. Although, with all the domestic issues that need attention: 8.5% unemployment, stupid-high gas prices, a crumbling infrastructure and increasingly higher food costs, the rise in his popularity will probably be short-lived. As a country, we need to re-think our military strategies. Our “enemies” are not other countries anymore. We do not need huge military forces stationed around the world in order to keep the peace. Small, well-trained forces on the ground like “Seal Team 6” appear to be far more effective. (They executed this operation with incredible precision and not one team member was injured, much less killed.) Plus, so much more can be done from the air than ever before that large numbers of ground troops are not necessary.

The world has become “smaller” and more transparent, especially since 9-11. The human desire to be free is starting to re-shape the Middle East with uprisings in many areas. We can be the beacon of peace in the world by not engaging in warfare and not sticking our foreign policy “nose” where it doesn’t belong. Through the unfiltered lens of the internet, people around the globe can witness life in a free society. What they do with that information is up to them, not us.

So… are we done now?

With 24 people and 40 minutes, we succeeded where nearly ten years, thousands of soldiers lost, tens of thousands of soldiers injured, hundreds of thousands of innocent people killed, and well over a trillion dollars spent, did not.

Can we please end these senseless wars?

Sincerely,

www.MichaelKontras.com

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GREAT EXPECTATIONS

October 13, 2009

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It’s around noon. My phone sounds the familiar jingle, letting me know I’ve received a text.

“How many times do you think Rahm said ‘f–k!’ this morning?”

“HAHAHAHA! He’s probably still slammin’ doors. 🙂

My son’s sense of humor, once again, made me laugh out loud in my otherwise quiet work environment.

Our President’s situation, however, is not a laughing matter. There is no doubt the Obama Administration knew what was coming after the President received the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.  

Whether he’s “earned” it or not, it was obvious the Nobel Committee decided he had done enough to transform minds around the globe about our country. It could be argued that part of the reason for this award is a rebuke of our previous President and how he isolated America from the rest of the world. But let’s not diminish how much this President is loved and admired by so many nations.

Here’s just one example: Remember the 200,000 people in Germany waving AMERICAN Flags?

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While his political opposition was calling him a “celebrity,” world leaders were paying attention to the positive feelings of hope and peace he was attracting toward our country. His message was always about negotiation, and using military force as a protective – not punitive – measure. His stance against invading Iraq is certainly a good illustration. At every turn, then-candidate Obama made it clear that he would end that ill-conceived conflict and try to bring to justice those who were responsible for the 9-11 attacks. He was presenting a major shift in foreign policy thinking and the positive response from the rest of the world cannot be overstated.

Now as President, he is faced with what I would consider a “lose-lose” situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan. None of the choices are definitive. None will result in a “win.” If he escalates troop levels, he appears to go against one of the reasons the Nobel Committee awarded him. If he maintains troop levels, it still looks like a never-ending conflict, and if he withdraws, there may be the risk of a future attack. All of this is against the backdrop of an Afghan government that appears corrupt and unable (or unwilling) to lead its people away from the Taliban and Al-Qaida and a Pakistan with nuclear arms.

This is not a political issue, but rest-assured, no matter what our President decides, the opposition will attack him – hard. Republicans seem to be in favor of troop escalation, which is a double-edged sword for him. If he escalates, his image as a peace-maker will be attacked. If he withdraws or leaves the situation status quo, he’ll be labeled as weak and unable to defend our national interests abroad. Neither is true.

Our President will not make this critical foreign policy decision based on polls or politics. He will take his time, utilizing the same pragmatism he has displayed so many times before.  

When the announcement came to the President at 6:00am on October 9th, Republicans and conservatives had a field day, showing their immaturity, instead of realizing that anytime a US President is recognized for peaceful leadership on the world’s stage, it is good for our country. 

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Contrary to what some think, I don’t believe the Nobel Committee had political motives for awarding our President the Peace Prize. Rather, they believe him to be a transformative figure on the world stage – a chance to be the leader in peaceful, non-military solutions for some of the world’s “hot spots.”

Michael Moore’s response summed it up well: “Congratulations President Obama on the Nobel Peace Prize – now please earn it!”

As President, and now Nobel Lariat, Barack Obama has certainly garnered great expectations.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

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TO KILL A FROG

September 26, 2009

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Far be it from me to EVER defend Glenn Beck – and I’m not defending him here. Even though he didn’t kill a frog, his political analogy was still absurd – and that’s a compliment.

But this is not about Glenn’s reasoning – it’s about the frog, which, as far as I’m concerned, deserves all the attention.

By now, most have probably concluded no frog was boiled to death by Glenn Beck. This is for those who are still not so sure. Yes, PETA members, I’m speaking to you.

Here’s the “controversial” clip from Beck’s show. 

Here’s some stills from the video. In this first still, we see Beck’s hand in the aquarium just after he grabs a frog.

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He starts to close his hand.

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As he continues to close his hand, notice that he keeps his index finger slightly open.

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This is the slide that starts to reveal Beck’s process for letting go of the frog. You can see a small part of the frog between his thumb and index finger. Also notice there is nothing in the top right corner of the aquarium.

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In this slide, you see Beck creating an opening by moving his thumb out of the way, allowing the frog to jump out and land in the top right corner of the aquarium. His front legs hit the aquarium wall first.

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In the next several slides, with the frog still located in the top right corner of the aquarium, you see Beck has closed his hand, and is removing it from aquarium. The frog’s rear legs are almost planted on the aquarium wall.

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Note that the frog is now firmly “attached” to the aquarium wall.

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In the next series of slides, Beck, no frog in hand, claims that he is throwing the frog into boiling water. One problem: you never see a frog go from his hands to the pot on the stove.

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No frog. No splash. Nothing.

And finally, here are the same video stills in a PDF Presentation. You can move through them at your pace with the up or down arrow. (This may take a few seconds to load.)

So, relax. As controversial as Beck is, I don’t think he’s a frog killer.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

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IF YOU CAN’T TAKE THE HEAT…

May 11, 2009

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Apparently, it is now possible to go “over the top” in comedy.

Huh?

When did that change? There didn’t used to be an “over the top” in comedy. Since when did comedy have to be politically correct? We’ve all heard comedians say crude things about different ethnicities, religious leaders, politicians and themselves.

But God forbid you say something  slightly distasteful about  Rush Limbaugh?

Seriously?

The Washington Correspondents Dinner was held this past Saturday night. President Obama was his usual funny self. He has the unique ability to deliver a line, and if it starts to fall short of the expected response, he smiles, and people start laughing. This is not something that can be taught. It’s one of many gifts this President brings when he addresses an audience.

Even the previous president was pretty good at delivering lines at these dinners, although he did have a way of indicating when the punch line was coming.

Wanda Sykes followed President Obama and apparently, she is not a fan of Rush Limbaugh. Duh. Is anyone surprised? She made a JOKE about Rush getting kidney failure as a retort to his comment about wanting Obama to fail, thereby wanting the country to fail. (Treason anyone?) This was after she brought up Rush’s admitted drug abuse. Kidney’s fail with heavy drug usage, much like they fail with heavy alcohol usage. So do livers, spleens and pancreases.

Listening to Rush’s fans, you would think she cut off his genitalia with a machete. Rush’s racists comments alone should keep anyone from critisizing Sykes. Here’ some examples:

Here’s the song called “Barack the Magic Negro” that Rush Limbaugh DEFENDED on his show. First, the song:

Now, here’s two clips of Rush’s defense of the song – one video, one audio:

To be fair, Sykes knew she had gone to that “hmmm… maybe I shouldn’t go there” area in her commentary when she turned to Michelle Obama and asked “Too much?” – which also got a great response from the audience.

I don’t know if Rush will respond to Sykes, but I would not be surprised if he did.

You know what I’m going to say next.

Okay, just in case you don’t: If you can’t take the heat, get out of the oven!

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

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PLEASE DON’T MAKE THIS A HABIT

May 9, 2009

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Dear Mr. President,

We are fortunate that you are so visible to us. It’s a refreshing change from the previous administration. You address our country often – giving us confidence that you’re working hard to make things better. It’s comforting, to say the least.

However, those of us who research what we write about on these pages know that there are those that would harm you, much like many previous popular presidents and leaders.

I am aware of your lack of concern on this issue, knowing that you are firm in your faith and safe. You live as all of us should live – free and without fear. It’s one of the reasons I voted for you. This is not to say you are naïve about your current position in life. I’m sure you and Michelle are quite cognizant of potential threats.

It’s obvious you have the best security in the world. They did a great job during your campaign and I’m sure they are continuing to do so now.

Earlier this month, you and the VP went out for burgers. It was great to see both of you together, having a casual lunch, in a small diner. I was not at all concerned that the two of you were at the same place, at the same time. I’m sure the security planning for this “meet and eat” was extensive.

Joe and you seem just as comfortable in that environment as you are at events like the Washington Correspondents Dinner. I’m sure the staff at the diner was thrilled, even if they did have to go through an exhaustive process to prepare for your arrival. 

But as you left the diner and started to enter your limo, you made a move that made me tremble for just a second.

Apparently, I need to work harder on MY faith because my memories of the Kennedy brothers, King, the attempt on Wallace’s life and Reagan’s life, came rushing back.

As much as we enjoy seeing and hearing you, Mr. President, please don’t make this a habit.

We want you around long after your eight years as President of the United States. 🙂

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

 

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THE NICE GUY WINS

April 29, 2009

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More often than not, when pundits and op-ed writers gather to discuss political and policy issues, things get heated, people talk over each other and no one can make their point without interruption. Then along comes this calm, distinguishable voice that has been waiting patiently to speak. It emerges with cool intellect, witty humor and the reasonableness that has long since escaped the conversation.

Gene Robinson is a writer that makes reading enjoyable and informative.

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No bluster, no ranting, just common sense thinking. Yes, he leans progressive. But based on the 2008 election results, he’s in good company. He is not vitriolic towards those with opposing views – a refreshing quality in this age of television, radio and print blather.

Often times he has good things to say about the “opposition” and offers very good ideas for keeping the conversation rational among all that are gathered – a rare talent indeed. Gene’s “centeredness” is not unlike that of our President’s.

Thoughtful words – both written and spoken – expose his true understanding which is cleverly expressed.

And then there’s that whole Pulitzer Prize thing.

Gene Robinson was awarded a Pulitzer Prize on April 20, 2009 for his coverage of the 2008 Presidential Election. This is stellar accomplishment considering how many people were reporting during this amazing time in our nation’s history. His commentary was insightful and at times, prophetic.

The very next day, he published “When Slapped, Slap Back” – good commentary on how he thought that President Obama may have been a little too nice with some of our not-so-friendly leaders at the Summit of the Americas. I use this illustration to show that Gene will constructively criticize when he feels that it adds to the conversation.

Please take the time to read some of his work. Regardless of where you stand on the issues – you will not be disappointed.

Thank you, Gene, for being one of the very few voices of reason in this 24/7 say-and-do-anything-to-get-attention age of media. You have certainly earned the recognition.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

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IF YOU CAN’T DAZZLE ‘EM WITH BRILLIANCE…

April 26, 2009

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You may remember the saying, “If you can’t dazzle ’em with brilliance, baffle ’em with bullshit.” I remember trying the BS portion of this “strategy” in high school on essay exams when I thought the teacher wasn’t thoroughly reading each paper. I’m nearly certain it never worked.

Unfortunately, the BS portion has been successful for Republicans – until the 2008 Presidential Election. However, since the inauguration of President Obama, it has been a monumental failure.

I’m not sure if people are finally starting to see through their tactics, or if there are simply more of us now demanding the nuance that has been painfully absent in politics and policies over the last decade. Either way, the Republicans are desperate to redefine themselves in what they are calling “Re-branding.”

Many corporations have used re-branding to revitalize their image. They create a new marketing plan which is usually followed by new products, fresh ideas and new business concepts.

The Republican Party thinks it can do the same thing with one big difference: They intend to use the same ideas that have failed to address the real needs of this country for nearly 30 years.

And the name for their “new” idea? The National Council for a New America, headed by none other than John McCain. And his is not the only “fresh face” in this new council. There’s also Mitt Romney, Dick Army, Haley Barbour, and many more. They have also recruited not-ready-for-prime-time Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) and Rep. John Boehner’s (R-OH) echo chamber, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA).

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This is stupidity on steroids.

The NCNA will be answering to congressional members such as John Boehner and Mitch McConnell – two leaders that helped the Republican Party to lose BIG in the 2006 and 2008 elections.

One additional “new” face is… Newt Gingrich. (Eye roll, please.)

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His website, www.AmericanSolutions.com shows a 12-step plan for revitalizing our economy. It’s basically two words: Tax Cuts. The rest is fluff. No nuance. No substance. It’s similar to what he espoused 15 years ago, when he was Speaker of the House and concocted “The Contract with America.”

Much like Barney Fife, the Republicans are about to shoot themselves in the foot.

An old man who used to come into the little pub I owned years ago once told me, “You can’t make chicken salad out of chicken shit, no matter how much mayonnaise you put in it.”

Words to live by.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com