Like many political junkies, I’ve been spending far too much time looking at polls and trying to understand their implications. Can Donald Trump really win his party’s nomination? (Yes.) Can Bernie Sanders? (No.) But the primaries aren’t the only things being polled; we’re still getting updates on President Obama’s overall approval. And something striking has happened on that front.
At the end of 2015 Mr. Obama was still underwater, with significantly more Americans disapproving than approving. Since then, however, his approval has risen sharply while disapproval has plunged. He’s still only in modestly positive territory, but the net movement in polling averages has been about 11 percentage points, which is a lot.
What’s going on?
Well, one answer is that voters have lately been given a taste of what really bad leaders look like. But I’d like to think that the public is also starting to realize just how successful the Obama administration has been in addressing America’s problems. And there are lessons from that success for those willing to learn.
I know that it’s hard for many people on both sides to wrap their minds around the notion of Obama-as-success. On the left, those caught up in the enthusiasms of 2008 feel let down by the prosaic reality of governing in a deeply polarized political system. Meanwhile, conservative ideology predicts disaster from any attempt to tax the rich, help the less fortunate and rein in the excesses of the market; and what are you going to believe, the ideology or your own lying eyes?
But the successes are there for all to see.
Start with the economy. You might argue that presidents don’t have as much effect on economic performance as voters seem to imagine — especially presidents facing scorched-earth opposition from Congress for most of their time in office. But that misses the point: Republicans have spent the past seven years claiming incessantly that Mr. Obama’s policies are a “job killing” disaster, destroying business incentives, so it’s important news if the economy has performed well.
And it has: We’ve gained 10 million private-sector jobs since Mr. Obama took office, and unemployment is below 5 percent. True, there are still some areas of disappointment — low labor force participation, weak wage growth. But just imagine the boasting we’d be hearing if Mitt Romney occupied the White House.
Then there’s health reform, which has (don’t tell anyone) been meeting its goals.
Back in 2012, just after the Supreme Court made it possible for states to reject the Medicaid expansion, the Congressional Budget Office predicted that by now 89 percent of the nonelderly population would be covered; the actual number is 90 percent.
The details have been something of a surprise: fewer people than expected signing up on the exchanges, but fewer employers than expected dropping coverage, and more people signing up for Medicaid — which means, incidentally, that Obamacare is looking much more like a single-payer system than anyone seems to realize. But the point is that reform has indeed delivered the big improvements in coverage it promised, and has done so at lower cost than expected.
Then there’s financial reform, which the left considers toothless and the right considers destructive. In fact, while the big banks haven’t been broken up, excessive leverage — the real threat to financial stability — has been greatly reduced. And as for the economic effects, have I mentioned how well we’ve done on job creation?
Last but one hopes not least, the Obama administration has used executive authority to take steps on the environment that, if not canceled by a Republican president and upheld by future Supreme Courts, will amount to very significant action on climate change.
All in all, it’s quite a record. Assuming Democrats hold the presidency, Mr. Obama will emerge as a hugely consequential president — more than Reagan. And I’m sure Republicans will learn a lot from his achievements.
Seriously, there is essentially no chance that conservatives, whose ideas haven’t changed in decades, will reconsider their dogma. But maybe progressives will be more open-minded.
The 2008 election didn’t bring the political transformation Obama enthusiasts expected, nor did it destroy the power of the vested interests: Wall Street, the medical-industrial complex and the fossil fuel lobby are all still out there, using their money to buy influence. But they have been pushed back in ways that have made American lives better and more secure.
The lesson of the Obama years, in other words, is that success doesn’t have to be complete to be very real. You say you want a revolution? Well, you can’t always get what you want — but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.
Jim's instrument also looks like a chicken or a turkey. Beautiful!
Again Jack Wright on soprano sax, Jill on vocals, Jim on "Dad" and Eben on Bass:
Rasmussen Moshé plays great saxophone and flute pictured with woman on string bass, man on drums and another flutist/saxophonist to the left not pictured here.
Below you can copy & paste to see video where Bonnie Kane demonstrated electrified Flute Loops as band played. Sorry that is last in the shared album. Thanks for reading and to All who showed up!
If anyone doesn't like their photo, I'll be happy to take down but here is
Jack Wright leading Adam Bosse's Improv Class with friends he brought who are touring Wellesley College and a club in Brooklyn next.
Jill dances behind our drummer as she vocalizes beautifully with mic:
This is Jim on his handmade instrument "Dad" a mouth with feet. Stringed and electrified:
I can't wait to get all my photo and video up here but for now, I just want to show you what we did yesterday at about 2:45 pm for about 11'. Adam Bosse's Improv Class: his salute to the Noise movement. It wasn't what I thought at all! There are roots in Free Jazz/punk and new wave, artistically not to mention the huge influence of John Cage and Kahrleinz Stockhausen, as well; but we were about the loudest band. It was a peaceful, delightful and calm gathering. Simpatico folks contributed to an atmosphere which was conducive to experimentation, daring new things in Music as well as in Art and Movement and finding the unexpected always!
Here we are: Adam Bosse's Improv Class at the 121 Club(the former Apollo Grill restaurant: a big space at 129 Eastworks in Easthampton MA): Drums, Electric Bass, 2 Electric Guitars and Electronic Keyboard:
It's compressed into mp3 here so earphones or a good speaker system would help you and us:)!
Players more experienced than we are came before and after us and their vid/pictures will follow.
For instance I heard flutist/saxophonist Rasmussen Moshé is well known in Brooklyn NY Free Jazz.
There was a cab driver in NY nicknamed Top o' the Head who could rhyme anything. "Just give me a line and I'll rhyme it!" I ended up riding with him twice!
A: What do you think of the Iraq War?
T: I don't like the Iraq War. My nickname is Al Gore.
A: Can you sing in tune?
T: I don't know if I can sing in tune. My wife lives in Rangoon.
Anyway here's "We did Inaugurate the Wrong Guy" from Salon.com
Happy Winter Solstice! Song: "The Reasons Why":
Why do people surrender animals to shelters? First of all we need to do more spay and neutering so we don't end up with too many to feed and house and for various reasons, people sometimes really do need to surrender cats and dogs and it's very sad, for instance if you have to move somewhere that doesn't allow pets. To surrender instead of abandoning an animal is much more humane.
Buttons hiding. Not sure why but they changed from metal to plastic litter pans and I haven't seen this kind of hiding, as much at DakinHumane.org lately. From the end of 2012. He looked like Twitter's @HenrileChatNoir
Two One-Eyed Cats who Recently Got Adopted due to the hard work and dedication of the staff:
1) Angus and 2) Muffin:
View this photo of Muffin.
Lyrics to "Reasons Why"
My people were out driving threw me out of the car!/Oo, the reasons why./Took me to the park and 'though I didn't go far! Oh, the reasons why./On every cage there is a reason./I'm lucky I didn't die./ When they moved our household and they didn't take me./Oh, the Reasons Why.
Once my owner died her folks abandoned me!/Oo, the reasons why./Had suspicious fires and were homeless like me! Oh, the reasons why./On every cage there is a reason./I'm lucky I didn't die./After ten good years they are allergic to me./Oh, I want to cry. Oh, I want to to cry!/Oh, the Reasons Why.
I don't know how I got in this cage but I know the reasons why!/I'm glad I have another chance./It's not like I'm going to die!/It's not like I'm gonna die!
Someone who has a nice chatty home, a sofa and a cozy fire./A woman who's there lots and very kind and a man who just won't tire!
I'm a companion, I'm a great friend and I'll love you 'til I die./Love you, love you,/Sit right above you on your shoulders, /The Reasons Why!
* * *
Booby-Cat at Georgetown DC's Crumbs & Whisker's rescue Café when another charismatic cat stole his thunder!
Don't let me make this a news blog this far out from the election, or even during the election for that matter. But I had to notice that 1) Hillary released a statement a couple of weeks ago about this proof (see below) that the South still needs the 1965 check on their draconian voting laws, which unfairly repress(ed) minorities, when as soon as restrictions were rolled back they went back to old ways, 2) Trump sucked all the air out of TV, and 3) the closing of Drivers License Offices in areas with majorities of black voters, worsened as nobody listened to Hillary. Pay no advertising dollars to the man under the hair. If you already aren't, Thank you!
The Brennan Center for Justice covers voting rights news(more objective headline when you click):
They say those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it. I say they do worse. 4) But Yay for the budget deal that just passed. 5) Clean drinking water is also a bipartisan issue: As climate worsens and water becomes scarce, more human conflict will ensue. The Pentagon says it's the worst threat. Correction: HRC said in Rachel Maddow's Democratic MSNBC Forum that she only considers the death penalty for huge terrorist crimes, if at all; and that she'd be relieved if the Supreme Court struck it down completely.