*I read fellow EUR columnist Joseph C. Phillips’ column last week, and immediately had questions about the irony of him paraphrasing the ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes’ quote to a visiting Alexander the Great, who expressed an admiration of the philosopher.
The origin of the quote is, when Alexander asked Diogenes as he was tanning himself, if there was any favor he could do for him, Diogenes said: “Yes, stand out of my sunlight.” There are many variations of the phrase, but the essence is the same.
If Mr. Phillips’ attempt was to paint the Obama administration as big government expansionism, it appears to me, and a vast majority of Americans, that it is the Republican Party that’s blocking Congress.
If anything, Diogenes sunning himself, and doing nothing but that, is more a description of how the petulant and obstructionist Republican Party in both Houses is acting against pretty much any endeavor offered up by the current administration. And that’s after many a request to make the discussion bi-partisan. Sadly, Congress is at a virtual standstill, mired in outright naked Republican obstinacy.
Since President Obama took the oath of office, Mr. Phillips points out that he promised to “fight, fight, fight” for quality education, health care and jobs. That’s exactly what I’d expect a president to do. Yet Mr. Phillips excoriates Obama for fighting for whatever will expedite an exit out of our prolonged recession.
If President Obama didn’t say that, I would be right by Phillips’ side in condemning anyone who laid down on the job. After having been elected by a substantial mandate, I expect my president to be allowed enough leeway to exercise his vision. But, you know the drill by now: If Democrats offer any bill-mind you, in a Democrat-controlled House and Senate-it is automatically blocked by every member of the minority Republican Party. Is that getting America on track? No, it’s obstructionism at every turn.
I understand that the Opportunity Scholarship Program Phillips refers to in his column will top out at $9 million, with a potential $7 million extra to come if a bill introduced recently by Joe Lieberman (I-Conn) is passed. Lieberman, ironically, was the main block in the National Health Bill, and would raise a public relations stink if Democrats took a stalling tack the Republicans are taking. So, while I have some issues with vouchers, mainly that they do nothing to improve existing inner city school conditions, I most certainly agree that continued OSP funding is, indeed, legislation worth paying attention to.
But it got me to explore things that the Obama Administration has accomplished, since much that seems to get any kind of press is the health care and job blockade/debacle. My research found that there are more than enough outstanding accomplishments in President Obama’s first year in office that would have been the envy of George W. Bush in his entire eight years in office. Here are just a few:
The Obama administration managed to expand eligibility for State Children’s Health Insurance Fund (SCHIP), signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, increased minority access to capital, assured that the Veterans Administration budget is prepared as ‘must-pass’ legislation, increased funding for local emergency planning, restored funding for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne/JAG) program a Bush administration-cut, required new hires to sign a form affirming their hiring was not due to political affiliation or contributions, recruited math and science degree graduates to the teaching profession, increased funding for national parks and forests, increased funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, restored funding to the EEOC and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, reformed mandatory minimum sentences to address the severe issue of jail overcrowding, created a White House Office on Urban Policy, funded a major expansion of AmeriCorps from 75,000 to 250,000, is working to overturn Ledbetter vs. Goodyear in order to establish equal pay for women, enacted tax credit for consumers for plug-in hybrid cars, extend unemployment insurance benefits and temporarily suspend taxes on these benefits, and reverse restrictions on stem cell research. I could go on for several pages, but check this link from PolitiFact.com for lots more: http://politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises/rulings/promise-kept/
Wait! There’s more! Regarding the reading of alleged “crotch bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmetallab’s Miranda rights, it is standard F.B.I. procedure to read anybody they interrogate his/her Miranda rights, has been since well before 9/11, and all terrorists captured after 9/11 received them. Now it has been reported that Abdulmetallab (by the way, his correct spelling, Mr. Phillips) voluntarily gave up actionable information to the F.B.I. Yes, I now feel a little safer. And now, if Republicans move to the side and stop blocking the sun, perhaps a lot more legislation would get passed.
Gary D. Jackson is a freelance writer based in Southern California.
Contact him at: [email protected]