Tag Archive for Barack Obama

Barack O’Bama

Barack O'Bama

Next month, Barack Obama will visit an Irish village where his great-great-great-great grandfather made shoes. He is thought to be the 22nd US president to have or claim Irish family, and most recent presidents have visited the country. Why?

A small village of fewer than 300 residents in County Offaly is about to welcome its most famous son.

Moneygall is gearing up for Obamamania on 23 or 24 May, when the president returns to the spot where in 1850 his ancestor Falmouth Kearney, son of shoemaker Joseph, packed his bags and headed off to the US.

Mr Obama's Irish connection, on his mother Ann Durham's side, was unearthed in 2007 and the president announced the visit on St Patrick's Day this year.

Ever since President John F Kennedy was mobbed by crowds in Dungannon, County Wexford, in 1963, nearly every president has beaten the same path across the Atlantic, often in an effort to seek out the ancestral home.
From bogs to prairies

  • Early 19th Century: Scotch-Irish protestants from Ulster, big influence on early presidents
  • 1840s onwards: Irish Catholics fleeing potato famine and poverty, went to cities
  • 1950s: Mostly farmers, some nurses
  • 1980s: Skilled workers escape unemployment
  • 2010s: Another wave expected

Ireland is the only country, apart perhaps from neighbours Mexico and Canada, so favoured. So how did this small island become such a magnet for leaders from the world's most powerful country?

"It's very simple, Catholic votes," says John Robert Greene, historian and author of dozens of books about US presidents.

"There's not a huge love of Irish tradition, with the possible exception of JFK and Ronald Reagan, not a huge love of Irish culture, with the possible exception of JFK, Reagan and Bill Clinton, but there's a huge love for Catholic votes and particularly Irish Catholic votes.

"That's why there is a pilgrimage every four years and that's why Obama is going."

This will play beautifully in the Rust Belt, former steelmaking cities like Buffalo, Cleveland and Detroit, says Mr Greene. Also in New York City and in parts of Massachusetts. And it guarantees exposure in the Catholic newspapers, which aren't traditional Obama supporters because of his stance on abortion.

"I doubt he really wants to be photographed in a cottage like The Quiet Man, but he will," he says, referring to the 1952 film in which John Wayne returns to Ireland to reclaim his family farm in Innisfree Read more

Justice by the Numbers Chasing Immigrants While Bank Criminals Go Free

If you’re a banker who bought your estate with the millions you made from mortgage fraud, relax: The Justice Department isn’t looking for you. But if you’re an illegal immigrant working on that estate, look out. The Department of Justice is devoting most of its efforts to catching you, not your boss.
Joe Nocera of the New York Times contrasts the legal treatment that was given to one high-flying borrower with that received by Angelo Mozilo, CEO of the fraudulent lender Countrywide. But if stories like this one are bad, the numbers are even worse Read more

Obama War Powers and Yoo

No one is always wrong, including former Bush administration lawyer and Berkeley law professor John Yoo. Yoo was right when he wrote in the Wall Street Journal on March 25 that Obama “flip-flopped” when the then-senator said in 2007 that presidents lacked the constitutional power “to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation,” but then apparently did so when he ordered military action against Libya on March 19. (While Obama complied with the terms of the War Powers Act, prior congressional approval rested on the slim reed of a March 1 Senate resolution.)
Yoo’s chief problem as a constitutional commentator stems not from his tendentious memos justifying torture in the weeks after 9/11 during his stint in the Bush administration, but because his underlying constitutional analysis of presidential power is literally the opposite of what the Founders intended and wrote. In Yoo’s analysis, American executive power in foreign policy was copied from the British monarchy, where the monarchs once maintained a monopoly of power over war and military matters Read more

American Excellence Do Labels Like Uncle Tom or Acting White Stifle High Achievement

In the spirit of the NCAA college basketball tournament, ESPN aired a documentary on the bittersweet careers of University of Michigan’s “Fab Five.” During the documentary, former Michigan star, and current Huffington Post contributor, Jalen Rose expressed his feelings about his team’s rivalry with Duke when he said, “For me Duke was personal. I hated Duke and I hated everything I felt Duke stood for. Schools like Duke didn’t recruit players like me. I felt like they only recruited black players that were Uncle Toms.” Rose’s comments became fodder for those looking to emphasize the growing income and education gap amongst African-Americans Read more

AntiWar But Supporting Obama on Libya

The beginning of U.S. and NATO military attacks on Libya came as a surprise to most Americans — not least anti-war and pro-peace voters like myself who have supported President Obama as a candidate and now as chief executive. I was at the start, and remain, deeply concerned about the path the president is choosing.
There is a strong anti-war case for staying out of Libya Read more

Progressives Cry Out Obama Come Home

Barack Obama at times seems to be the unluckiest person on the face of the earth. He just can’t catch a break. Or maybe his bad luck is a result of ignoring his progressive base and scientific evidence and instead trying to negotiate and compromise with congressmen who are financially motivated toward helping banks and corporations more than our own people. When bad events happen that scientists and academics have been warning about for years it is difficult to chalk them up to bad luck Read more

Whats a Million Years

With a nuclear crisis ongoing it Japan, it may comfort you to know that our government has plans to keep America’s nuclear waste safe for a million years.
What a relief! Good to know that, unlike in Japan, America’s rulers have thought this stuff through.
Yes, the Energy Department says that it can keep all the waste from the nation’s 104 nuclear power plans, plus all the waste from nuclear weapons, safely stored under Yucca Mountain, Nevada, for one million years. Within that window, they have it broken down into two parts. For the first 10,000 years, the dose limit to “the public” from the stored waste is not supposed to exceed 15millirem per year of radiation. Then from 10,000 to a million years out, the dose to “the public” can go up to 100millirem per year Read more

We Needed Real Debate Before Bombing Libya

Since the dawn of civilization thousands of years ago, the broader Middle East has been a crucible of conflict. Foreign armies have waded in, often with good intentions, to bring peace and impose order. Almost without exception they have failed. Yet once again the Western world seems to believe that it is immune to the lessons of history Read more

Is The Book of Mormon Good For Mormons

The new Broadway show, The Book of Mormon, opened on Thursday to rave reviews and has immediately become one of the hottest ticket on the Great White Way. Since the show is written and produced by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the guys who brought us “South Park,” the project had been met with intrigue from its onset; now, though, thanks to all the accolades, some are second-guessing whether the show is so controversial after all. Mormons have even reportedly been fans of the show.
Larger questions still loom. As Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, who both happen to be Mormons, considering presidential runs in 2012, what’s “unclear is how the Mormon faith will play” in the run-up to the election, reports USA Today Read more

Republican Positioning for 2012

The race for the Republican nomination for a candidate to challenge President Barack Obama in 2012 will probably be over within fourteen months at the most. Accordingly the race is beginning to take shape. At this time there are probably significantly more candidates exploring the possibility of a campaign, considering the race or trying to figure out whether or not they can win the nomination and the election, so the field of candidates will probably get smaller between over the next six months.
The Republican race for the nomination has the potential to be extremely entertaining and much more open with a far greater degree of uncertainty than any recent Republican nomination battle. It also has the potential to have an impact on the Republican Party for the next decade or so Read more

Californias Party of No Takes Center Stage or Does It

Between its strange state convention last weekend and the ongoing state budget impasse, California’s party of no has seemingly taken center stage in the not so Golden State. But is that really so? And is it a good thing for Republicans if it is?
Surely the spectacle of the Republicans’ state convention in Sacramento did nothing more than further cement the party’s reputation as an increasingly narrow club of ideologues. And during the week, most Republican legislators mirrored just that, though some continue to negotiate with Governor Jerry Brown. But it remains to be seen how serious they are, and if their ultimate goal is to shoot the moon and try to look good.
After nearly three months of talks, Brown has been asking Republicans for a “term sheet” of what it will take to close the deal Read more

Why In Spite Of Everything I Still Love Obama

Sometimes, you need to go away to keep your love alive. Perhaps it’s the change of air. Perhaps it’s the change of view. Perhaps it’s just the chance to stop and pause Read more

Libya Congressional Critics and Lessons Not Learned

For weeks now President Barack Obama has faced a barrage of criticism from Republicans over his Administration’s failure to intervene in Libya’s ongoing conflict. The GOP’s assault accused the President of “weakness”, “dithering”, and “a lack of leadership”. But, coming from the same cast of characters who recklessly led us into Iraq, the attacks could be dismissed as partisan rhetoric.
Then, in what appeared to be a sudden about face, the Administration moved quickly to press for a United Nations’ Security Council Resolution calling for a “no fly-zone plus” intervention in Libya Read more

Vietnam WarEra Bombs Cause Current Day Casualties Demonstrating Need for Updated Weapons Technology

In Laos recently, a 10-year-old boy was killed by a buried bomb he and a friend disturbed while playing. While his friend was killed instantly, the boy survived the initial blast. In a video exhibit at Vientiane’s Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise (COPE), his parents recount the details of the horrific injuries inflicted by the explosion and their frantic search for a truck to take him to the hospital. Their son survived the long trip to the nearest city and the ride to a second hospital but was denied medical care at both Read more

Obamas March Madness Playing it Safe

As I watched President Obama select his NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen bracket picks with ESPN’s Andy Katz, I started to wonder, “Is he picking all favorites?” I looked it up and it turned out that, with the exception of two upsets, he was. Sure, there was #4 Wisconsin over #5 Kansas State, and #5 Arizona over #4 Texas, but certainly no 11 seed over a 3 seed or 10 over a 2. And all the teams in his Final Four choices were number one seeds. His selections were made with great confidence and knowledge, but he could have made long-shot predictions with equal authority, given the incredible talents on lower-ranked teams such as Richmond’s Justin Harper and Butler’s Shelvin Mack Read more

On Libya We Should Support the President

What if the news this morning read:
“Supported by air power and several armored tank divisions, Muammar Gaddafi’s soldiers this morning moved into Benghazi. Snipers fired upon the rebels from buildings around the central square. Opposition forces were rounded up and executed. Those not executed were moved to internment camps outside the city Read more

Obamas Not Returning His Peace Prize

The Libyan assault as well as continued American presence in Iraq and Afghanistan have many people saying that either the Nobel Peace Prize committee should demand the prize be returned or that the president should volunteer to hand it back. For those who think these are serious options, I have some bad news for you — it’ll never happen. Not tomorrow, not next week, not ever.
Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize raised a lot of eyebrows around the world given that he had barely been in office and had little on the resume to justify the prize. My conclusion was that the committee gave it for two main reasons: (1) to remind America that they really disliked George W Read more

GOP Buyers Remorse Is Nice but It Only Matters If It Leads to Votes

There seems to be a growing tide of GOP buyer’s remorse sweeping the country.
Republicans campaigned in 2010 on creating jobs and cutting spending and the deficit. But once in power, both in the U.S. House of Representatives and in numerous states, all those promises went out the window. Instead they’ve offered a steady stream of items from the traditional far-right wish list: union busting, blocking abortion, redefining rape, limiting voting rights, going after public radio, etc Read more

Obama Administration Announces Massive CoalMining Expansion

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar yesterday announced an enormous expansion in coal-mining that dwarfs the Obama administration’s clean energy initiatives — suggesting that President Obama’s response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster increasingly involves doubling down on other forms of dirty, unsafe energy.
A statement from Wild Earth Guardians, Sierra Club, and Defenders of Wildlife put the announcement in perspective:
In other words, despite his administration’s rhetorical embrace of clean energy, when push comes to shove, Obama is effectively using modest wind and solar investments as cover for a broader embrace of dirty fuels. It’s the same strategy BP, Chevron, and other major polluters use: tout modest environmental investments in multimillion dollar PR campaigns, while putting the real money into fossil fuel development.
President Obama seems to be rushing to make this embrace even tighter: in the last week, the administration announced four new permits for deepwater offshore oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico — the same type of exploration that led to the BP oil spill disaster – even as a huge new oil sheen covers the Gulf of Mexico and inundates Louisiana beaches Read more

Obama the Marxist

Since he debuted on the political stage with the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic Convention, Republicans have suspected that Barack Obama was a Marxist. It turns out they were right: He’s Groucho.
In the 1930 film Animal Crackers, Groucho Marx, a comedic genius and wit, played Captain Jeffrey Spaulding. He sang a lyric called “Hello, I Must Be Going.”
Hello, I must be going. I cannot stay, I came to say, I must be going Read more

Libya It Can Work

Hand-wringing is the new American pastime, that and union busting. The commentariat has just gone addled on Libya. Congress should have been consulted, there should be an exit plan, there’s no well-defined mission, there’s no plan for who will run a liberated Libya. There were no plans for Tunisia or Egypt either Read more

One Year Later Health Care Reform a Law Worth Keeping

Is the health care reform law a good deal for Americans or is it so badly flawed that Congress should repeal it? Now that the measure is one year old — President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to law on March 23, 2010 — I humbly suggest we attempt an unbiased assessment of what the law really means to us and where we need to go from here.
To do that in a meaningful way, we must remind ourselves why reform was necessary in the first place. I believe the heated rhetoric we’ve been exposed to since the reform debate began has obscured the harsh realities of a health care system that failed to meet the needs of an ever-growing number of Americans.
Among them: seven-year-old Thomas Wilkes of Littleton, Colo., who was born with severe hemophilia. You would never know it to meet Thomas because he looks and acts like any other little boy his age, but to stay alive, he needs expensive treatments that over time will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Thomas’s parents were terrified before the law was passed because the family’s health insurance policy had a $1 million lifetime cap Read more

An InDepth Interview With Christopher Preble Director of Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute

Recently, I conducted an in-depth interview with Christopher Preble, Director of Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, on his assessment of President Obama’s foreign policy, the implications of the WikiLeaks revelations, U.S. leadership in the age of globalization, excess defense spending and international development, the future of U.S. diplomatic engagement, and much more.
A 2000-word excerpt is below, while the full 4300-word transcript can be found at World Affairs Commentary.
Rahim Kanani: As you observe U.S. foreign policy in the context of the recent and continued uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa, how would you assess the Obama Administration’s current posture towards the crises?
Christopher Preble: I think that the Obama administration inherited a difficult situation, and has handled it reasonably well, all other factors being considered Read more