What in the World is the Obama Administration Doing?

Soon-to-be-former President Barack Obama has been busy. He sprints through the final days of his term like a bargain basement, determined to have something significant Trump can’t undo. To that end, the president has devoted last week to bridge-burning with our allies.

It began when a UN resolution was passed that condemned Israeli settlements on the West Bank. The U.S. historically vetoed anti-Israeli bills like these but they didn’t this time. No explanation for the about-face on U.S. policy was given to the public, but Secretary of State John Kerry gave Israel a patronizing lecture that contained a few clues. “You can be Democratic or you can be Jewish, but you cannot be both,” he said. Note: This is the only documented instance of John Kerry saying anything interesting on record. Who cares if it’s nonsense?

Planned talks for a 2-state solution collapsed two years ago, and it didn’t trouble Obama until last week. His refusal to stand by Israel is more likely a byproduct of his icy relationship with Netanyahu.

netanyahu

No bromance here

Trump sent a tweet calling Kerry a traitor and inexplicably referring to him as “the worst import from Vietnam”. He appeared with Don King for a mini-press conference (because why not?), and the boxing promoter waved small U.S. and Israeli flags. Trump said relatively little about Kerry except his speech “spoke for itself.”

The Israeli government responded quickly: “We have ironclad information that the Obama administration really helped push this resolution and helped craft it.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Secretary Kerry of supporting terrorism, which was unfairly harsh. Kerry doesn’t originate ideas or map out strategies. His only skill is reading in grave, statesman-like tones; he probably thinks the West Bank settlement is a condo community in Georgetown. 

Seriously, I don't know anything. But I look just like Andrew Jackson, right?

Seriously, I don’t know anything, but I look a lot like Andrew Jackson.

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Hillary, Trump, and Obama react to Trump victory

I’m not ready to talk about the election. I’m still processing it so this is only quick observations on some immediate reaction. To be clear, all these people have behaved foolishly all along, but this post is specifically about how they behaved once Trump won.

Donald Trump: Trump was gracious in his victory speech, complimentary toward Clinton, and welcoming to her supporters. Who knows if he meant it. Trump stuck to the script, to the delight of his campaign staff. Last (and perhaps foretelling his top-level cabinet posts), Trump made a point of calling out former competitors and antagonists Chris Christie, Rience Priebus, Ben Carson, and Rudy Giuliani.

Donald Trump: say what you want, I don't use "common sense"!

Hillary Clinton: Clinton, despite her fuss about Trump not promising to concede the race to her as soon as she won, could not quite bring herself to meet her own expectations. She did not face her supporters who had gathered to celebrate her win, but she did call Trump to concede.

Today, she formally conceded and did the right thing, i.e., urged her supporters to accept the election with an open mind. Clinton was visibly shocked and emotional, and it occurs to me that she may have been so confident in her win that she didn’t have a concession speech prepared.

Actually

 

Barack Obama: The president struck as different a tone today as Trump did last night. He was courteous, more courteous than Clinton, and called out how friendly George W. Bush’s staff was during his own transition. He urged the people to stick together and not become too partisan.

obama

 

Paul Ryan: Ryan called a press conference, seemingly to notify the world that his policy of disapproval of Trump is over after 18 months, effective immediately. Apparently, Ryan is now officially an artist whose purpose it is to sing the praises of Donald Trump.

He gave a press conference but Ryan was speaking to an audience of one. He attempted to telegraph to Trump that the President-elect can count on his support… now that he no longer needs it.

Remember when Paul Ryan had a beard? That was bizarre.

Remember when Paul Ryan had a beard? That was bizarre.

Trolls/Protesters: People formed spontaneous protests regarding the election results. They are not protesting a specific issue, just that Hillary lost. The protesters call Trump a racist, wave signs denouncing him, and burn American flags. God help us, if this is how they react to disappointment. What will happen if they had a real grievance?

It’s difficult for me to understand the protests. Some people just enjoy walking around with protesters and singing or chanting and don’t even know why they are there. But the others – what do they want?  There isn’t a contested vote, yet they are as vitriolic as if Hillary had clearly won by a landslide and then was cheated out of it. Or did they not realize that in a contest someone wins and someone loses – and no one wins all the time (or loses all the time).

As it is, they sound insane and are deeply harmful to the nation’s attempts to unify. I dare you to watch this video of sample reactions.

 

The media: The media has egg on its face, which is awesome. The GOP and Dems are eager to preserve the credibility neither group has. The media predicted a landslide Clinton victory, and when it did not happen, they blamed Comey, Wikileaks, Bernie, DNC, black voters, the pollsters, “whitelash”, and Gary Johnson. Because it certainly can’t be the Democratic candidate or platform.

ministry

winners: Trump, Obama

losers: Paul Ryan, the media, protesters

meh: Clinton

The Metaphysical Karma of President Barack Obama

This week, President Obama got his first veto override when he vetoed the 9/11 Victims bill, which allows American families to sue the Saudi Arabian government for the loved ones who were lost in the attack.

Obama vetoed the bill on the grounds of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign immunity, the safety of Americans in Saudi Arabia, and a vague reference to our standing in the world. Poor defense of a good decision. He did not mention:

  1. A lawsuit is a gamble. If the families should lose or the Saudis refuse to pay, wouldn’t that be rubbing salt in the wounds?
  2. Most wars are about money. It could start an avalanche of these kind of lawsuits worldwide, which would naturally escalate tensions. Another war is not what the families want.
  3. A financial penalty is a mockery of the reckoning that those complicit will face in the next life.

 

The president could have probably gained public support if he focused more on the safety of the troops. But instead he went with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign immunity, which America collectively does not give a damn about. All the senators in both parties united to override Obama’s veto, with the lone exception of Harry Reid, who just enjoys acting like a jerk.

Sen. Reid, slimy jinx

This story is littered with ironies. As the Obama presidency winds down, I am confronted with the Law of Polarity. Yin and yang. And the bright side and dark side of every aspect of this story.

I’m excited to finally agree with President Obama on anything (yin), but the only other supporter is Harry Reid. If there is one thing that makes me seriously question anything, it’s finding out Harry Reid holds the same belief (yang).

Barack Obama finally gets a veto override (yin). It was the best decision of his presidency (yang).

The president knew his veto would be overridden but he did it anyway, which is pretty punk rock (yin). You have to respect anyone who champions a great losing cause. But it would have been cool if he did stuff like this 7 years and 9 months ago (yang).

Congress finally unifies and overrides an Obama veto (yin). But… they picked Obama’s best decision to insist on passing an extremely bad piece of legislation (yang).

obama

If the U.S. has bad karma, it’s a cruel joke for Barack Obama to start making great decisions just as he’s leaving office, and Hillary and Donald are sniffing at the door.