Saturday, November 08, 2008

UPDATE: Obama Doesn't Call It "Change.Gov" For Nothing!

All of a sudden, without fanfare or explanation, the official website for President-elect Barack Obama has changed its mandatory hopes for kids in school and citizens of all ages.

In our post Serving Obama, we quoted the vaguely worded plan outlined at the Obama campaign's post-campaign website for requiring community service:

Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by developing a plan to require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year.
Now, after a day or so of internet furor, the plan has been changed:

Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by setting a goal that all middle school and high school students do 50 hours of community service a year and by developing a plan so that all college students who conduct 100 hours of community service receive a universal and fully refundable tax credit ensuring that the first $4,000 of their college education is completely free.

Is Obama going to be this easy to push around, or was the original plan merely a hasty and poorly-worded post? Having made my share of those over the years, I can sympathize!

It's going to be an interesting four years...

[Hat tip to Truepeers for alerting me of the update, and Hot Air for the details..]


Dag said...

OK, let me see. If one does some hours of community work, say, 100 hours for $4.000.00, and the minimum wage is $4.00 per hour, then it looks like most smart low income people will quit their jobs and go to school, leaving many opening for immigrants to come and ... WHAT?!

maccusgermanis said...

I think he probably is malleable. But, one should probably refrain from calling their subversion, "pushing around" of the subject socailist.

Charles Henry said...

Dag, I can see how long it's been since you had a minimum wage job in the US... depending on what state you are in, it can be double the figure you quoted..!

Obama's change of mind on the community service angle amounts to paying the college kids $40 an hour. They'll make more than I do, so maybe I should start thinking of going back to college myself.
(I never did graduate...)

Maccus, I want to say how great it is to hear from you again, your voice has been missed these past few months. I sincerely hope that the real-world situation your blog mentioned would keep you offline for a while, has been resolved favorably.

I might not have been clear in my post; I was trying to suggest his radical change from making the service a requirement to now being only voluntary, seems to have been come about solely due to conservative media criticism.

In a move befitting a personality bereft of a sense of humor, or a sense of humility, there's no mention anywhere at the official Obama site that a change or correction has even been made to the original wording. I see this as more evidence that he just can't handle criticism, however small, can't admit to mistakes of judgment... that's not a reassuring character trait, for a leader.

Actually, I should take that back; he did apologize for mixing up Nancy Reagan with Hillary Clinton at his press conference the other day. He is capable of signs of humility, after all.

Dag said...

couldn't rely on my own numerical skills to come up with the answer to how much he offers college kids for "community service" so I got out my calculator to double check. I punched in the numbers, and it came back with: "Are you joking, Dag?"

Many of my friends here are medical professionals, been at it for years, well-established in their careers, and they make $40.00 per hour for that.

Well, it's not Obama's money so why should he care. But it's silly. "$40.00 per hour." Just pretty noises to him.

maccusgermanis said...

Thank you, Charles Henry. I've feel like I've passed a professional test, and lost a friend. So the resolution of that to which I refered is a mixed bag.

Your right that an inabilty to admit mistakes is a bad sign in a leader, unless you've a plan for "pushing him around," that allows him to think everything his bright and shining new idea.

vancityguy said...

You guys are actually bitching about paying kids $40/hr for community service?

You'd get more return for that than the 700 billion IOU the last eight years worth of administration let build up.

You guys are pathetic...and the sorest loosers I've seen in a while.

Dag said...

Well, I can get loose on occasion. But unlike Van City tossing around other people's money on utopian projects, I have some restraint.

truepeers said...

...and the sorest losers I've seen in a while.

-would that be since Gore or Kerry?

One of the first posts I put up after Obama's win was a call for no Obama Derangement Syndrome.

So what exactly is a sore loser? Someone who refuses to bow down before a cult (I won't indulge in crazy Bush hatred nor in crazy Obama love)? It's not like we're saying Obama cheated (though maybe he did) just that he is a strange kind of divinity, and it is a bad thing for the Pres. of the US to be a divinity.

As for that 700 billion, I doubt you have a clue how it was invested - the experts are saying that so far it is actually being spent on good investments, not that that is an argument for the government buying up the financial system.

Anyway, once you get in the habit of giving out free money, it's hard to stop; and that's what brings the kind of economic trouble we've had lately.

vancityguy said...

$700 billion buy up of ABCP, sold to some of Wall Street's most storied and respected investment banks, creating horrendous exposure to worthless paper that was sold to them already at a premium.

This is what the bailout is buying because if they didn't, Libor rates would still be at +10% and credit would still be effectively frozen. It was needed to be done, just like amputating a leg with gangrene is necessary, still doesn't shift blame from not treating the gangrene in the first place.

This, of course, is not to mention the billions more lent to AIG et al for all matters related.

I'm not so sure you, or anyone here for that matter, truly appreciates what a complete fiscal, military, and social disaster the last eight years was for not only the Americans, but the American led financial mess. All done under the stewardship of one of the most incompetent presidents in recent, if not all, history.

You criticize Obamamania, fine. What about the fear mongering this administration employed to monitor its citizenry's own phone lines, or to pass the Patriot Act, or to create the attitude that made Abu Garib possible.

This financial mess is a suiting parting gift from one of the twenty-first centuries worst leaders. Period.

And you guys bitch about community service in the face of the massive bailout. Just remember, when inflation is kicking you in the nuts badly by 2010, don't blame Obama, blame the last eight years and the complete ineptitude of its financial policy.

Hit the books truepeers, you don't have a clue.

truepeers said...


You're more than welcome to hold our feet to the fire for being less than hopeful about Obama. You probably have a point. I have my doubts but I'll admit the possibility that it could turn out to be a great presidency, if Obama puts greatness above Bush scapegoating, i.e. if he turns away from those who got him elected.

But your claim to have a strong analysis of the last eight years sounds a bit hysterical, frankly. I won't claim to be a financial expert, but what you say doesn't make sense to me. And who seriously believes American civil liberties have been threatened by Bush? If people really believed that how come they have engaged in years of the most public and absurd Bush Derangement Syndrome. Why aren't they more careful in their words...?

But having said that, I agree that inflation seems a strong likelihood. What began as a post shocked at the message on Obama's web site that he would compel "service" from young people, morphed into a joke that the man can't give away $4000 dollars without turning it into an opportunity to indoctrinate young people.

But if you are really worried about inflation, you should expect Obama to hold strong against free money for anyone who doesn't really need it. To blame Bush uniquely for the Congressional culture of tax and spend, and of the subprime mortgage giveaway that has its roots in Democratic presidencies and the activist policy of Obama groups like ACORN is just silly.

Charles Henry said...

You criticize Obamamania, fine. What about the fear mongering this administration employed to monitor its citizenry's own phone lines, or to pass the Patriot Act, or to create the attitude that made Abu Garib possible.

I'm intrigued by how you link these two ideas together... the recognition that many people carry their adulation of candidate (now President-elect) Obama too far, and the charge that Bush was deceitful. I will admit I do not see the apparent connection you are trying to imply. Unless you are saying that people also carried their perceptions about Bush too far..? ;)

I know a lot of people who supported Bush, and a lot of people who currently support Obama. From my own personal, first-hand experience (not from what I read online, but what I see and hear from the people I personally know and interact with “in real life”), I honestly don’t see any connection to the degree of support for these two political figures.

The support for Bush that I’ve encountered was always like my own: rueful, and begrudged. There were one or two issues that a supporter felt Bush was occasionally handling well, but most of the time they felt he was out of alignment with their own values.

They looked upon him as the lesser of evils, and supported him accordingly.

I have never, never met someone who supported Bush in any way comparable to the lack of critical analysis that I see applied by the people whom I now interact with, who are exhilirated about Obama. Their enthusiasm seems to me to be faith without doubt, confidence built solely through lack of scrutiny, a benign neglect of any testing of their beliefs. I could respect, even while disagreeing with it, an argument based on the notion that Obama represented the lesser of evils in the recent election. But I never encounter any such frustrated admission, it’s always an absolute devotion… and that I simply do not understand. (I don’t even feel that confident about my own religion, so I am on-the-outside-looking-in when I see such total, unquestioning acceptance from the followers of this other religion.)

Maybe in your circles you meet a lot of people whose attitude towards Bush is as closed to civil discussion as the people I’ve met who support Obama; I haven’t met such people, but maybe you have. I can’t say your personal experiences are wrong, if they’re genuine experiences..! If you found interacting with those people frustrating, imagine how we feel talking to the Obama idolators.

I’ll readily admit that it’s been difficult to avoid sounding like a sore loser when writing about our post-November 4th world; I’m only human, and it was deeply dispiriting to see my side lose this election, because of how the other side won. There seemed such a studied lack of curiosity about issues that used to be important to people. For example, when a church-attending pro-life Christian tells me, to my face, in all sincerity, that she believes Obama’s record reveals him to be the more pro-life candidate, I have to wonder what it will take to persuade people to change their minds about Obama. Will I live long enough to learn sufficient eloquence to break through the kind of walls that have been erected around their cherised vision of The One?

My theory: their adulation is uncritical because it is based out of fear, the fear of being proven wrong. There’s been so much of their identity invested in the belief system that it was Bush, not Putin, who was a Grand Conspirator spinning ever-widening webs of deceit, that it was Bush’s torture dungeons, not Saddam Hussein’s, which were the greater embodiment of true evil, that since one party identifies itself as composed of “progressives”, this in itself is sufficient to establish the reality that the other party’s supporters are therefore against “progress”.

If their previous, precious beliefs are just a little bit wrong, then they are all wrong; if a single solitary crack is allowed to appear, the whole crystal cathedral will come crashing down. The prospect of having to start all over again is, understandably, a frightful concept to imagine.

The world is a scary place, filled to overflowing with cruelty. The scale of the suffering caused by such evil does seem too overwhelming to contemplate, so when an empty suit presents himself as a legitimate savior, and makes no attempts to dissuade people from treating him as such, I recognize how this can be an attractive belief system to embrace.

But what if it’s wrong..?

What if he’s not the first man to have found answers to previously unanswerable questions, what if he’s not a modern-day Solomon who despite never having done anything, can present himself as the man with the wisdom to know everything? What if he's not as good as people want to believe he is? He can’t even charm a reasonably nice guy like me over to his side, how can he be expected to beguile the truly malevolent people he promised his followers he would change?

Bloggers unimpressed with President-elect Obama have been witness to eight years of how not to behave towards a President they disagree with, and so I will echo Truepeers in saying that I also welcome being held to higher standards than those the Obama supporters have held themselves to in recent history. As I say often in my writing, we’re all ambassadors for our beliefs and our values, and I appreciate the chance to improve my ability to best reflect the values that guide my definitions of hope and change.

Criticisms like yours are the lesser of evils; much worse would be blind adulation and unchallenging praise..!