Obama takes on the bullies


I mentioned in an earlier post that Obama gets a free pass for his associations with Ayers. My sister and wife were able to convince me that any of us would get a free pass for such an association. That is also troubling, but nevertheless, requires me to take a second look at what really bothers me about Obama without being a hypocrite.

I have heard Obama say several times on the news that “I can take 4 more weeks of John McCains’s attacks, but we can’t take four more years of a continuation of Bush policies.”

WIth these words Obama portrays himself as a victim as well as martyr. He is taking these attacks for us. And we deserve his sacrifice because we are victims too.

 Obama’s  message seems to me to be this: “Bullies are dangerous and unfair. We should stop being bullies and supporting bullies. We need to take back what the bullies took from us, and give back what we took, so everything evens out.”

So far so good, right?

I have noticed, however, that Obama’s perspective seems not to be willing to consider  the behavior of a  nation,  policy, or individual in terms of  right or wrong. That is too  old-fashioned a  notion. He is more of a moral relativist.   He puts more weight on whether one is a victim or bully. He wants to make the world safe from bullies. He wants his fellow victims to stand with him and take action against bullies. Whether or not the reaction of the victim is worse in time than the original action of the accused bully does not seem to be a major concern to him

Below I speculate about some of Obama’s thinking about some current issues:

*Rich people are  bullies. We are going to tax them under Obama so they don’t hurt us so much anymore. They owe us.  Rich people bully the poor, so taxing them more and more should never be questioned.  

*Musharraff was a bully in Pakistan,  Bush supported him,  and that’s why Islamic extremists killed civilians there recently (according to Obama in the last debate). Musharraf is a bigger bully than Islamic extremists, so we should never have tried to work with him.

*We are the bullies in Iraq. That’s why more Muslim extremists want to kill us. So we need to stop being bullies and it will get better there. In addition,  Bush is a bully to us for making us be in Iraq. The US is a bigger bully than Islamic Extremists in Iraq, so we should stop fighting them in Iraq.

*Rev. Wright saw himself and his congregation as  victims of bully US government conspiracies. He preached it all the time. Obama listened for 20 years and understood,  and even must have agreed some of the time. Obama pledged continued loyalty to him  in his famous speech on race, because I think he still essentially  saw him as a misunderstood victim of the US government. It would have ended there if Wright had let it. The US government bullied Reverend Wright, so he deserved understanding for his views until he criticized Obama for becoming a bully himself.


*William Ayers fought for victims of our government 30 years ago. He blew up government buildings on our behalf.  Obama says now that he abhors Ayer’s methods.  He has not said he abhored Ayer’s view of the bully US government.   The US government was a bigger bully than Ayers, so he ought to be tolerated for certain business/political purposes.



These examples describe the ‘either/or’ thinking typical of someone caught up in the victim mentality. They assume that wrongs commited by those with greater power should be reflexively countered in all circumstances. I propose the idea that when you think more in terms of right vs. wrong than bully vs. victim, it actually allows you to interact more effectively with the world in its complexity. Here are some examples of what I mean, using ‘right/wrong’ language. It often comes down to the fact that 2 wrongs don’t make a right, even if bullies benefit some.  

*It may have been wrong for us to invade Iraq in retrospect with the more complete intelligence we now have, but leaving would be worse, because it would lead to greater wrongs. We may be seen as bullies, but this comes down to minimizing the damage as much as possible.

*In may be wrong past a certain point to support Musharraf as he bullies his people at times, but he does oppose the evil practices of terrorists, and it would be worse to just give the terrorists a free pass because Musharraf has shortcomings.

*Reverend Wright’s speeches condemning the US as evil were banal and harmful to his listeners. It was more wrong to remain a congregant than put your family through the hardship of walking away from a congregation indoctrinated in such a way.

*Bill Ayers was a a terrorist. He should have been shunned by everyone who knew about his past, especially as he was proud of it. He should pay a price in our society, and if we pay a price by not being beneficiaries of his other talents, than we should do it gladly.

*Rich people do benefit from our system, and they already pay higher taxes.  Haven’t they earned it? Don’t we benefit from their businesses and investments? Aren’t we cutting off out nose to spite our face by continuing to raise their taxes and not everyone’s?  


These latter examples require Americans to join together and make sacrifices for the greater good,  tolerating the reality of power differentials in our world.  Some people, organizations, and countries are going to be stronger and more powerful and therefore require that we grant them a bigger margin of error when they wield that power badly at times. I am not saying that it is always wrong to aggressively counter those with power, as at times after trying other means it becomes necessary. I just think we ought to raise the bar and give ourselves time to think it through, ponder the ETHICAL implications.

  The former examples,  where I speculate about Obama’s victim mindset,  ask Americans to punish bullies as a matter of course, and hope for the best as they wait for people, organizations and nations to just get along out of a sense of pure gratitude, I guess.

Just think, right now, he’s tolerating these 4 months of attacks so you don’t have to tolerate 4 more years of being victims of the Bully Republicans. Think how fortunate you are that he is doing that.

For an even better look at the problem with the way we deal with bullying , go to www.bullies2buddies.com . Check out the newletter link located in the upper margin. His writing is not political, but very relevant, I think.


10 Responses to “Obama takes on the bullies”

  1. Becky Says:

    Ok, I’m not going to comment on all of your points because I honestly don’t have the time. I will comment on the first and fourth points.
    As far as ‘right and wrong’ go,
    1. It’s wrong to deploy soldiers for 3-5 tours in arow. In fact, it’s cruel and unusual abuse if you ask me. It’s wrong that many of these soldiers are profoundly injured or killed. That this is happening to maintain peace among the various religious groups and extremists so that the new democratic government can function in Iraq is wrong. It’s also not fair to those soldiers and their families. If this is the cause they fight for it’s not important enough. Explain to me why it is important enough. It’s wrong to keep the majority of our military in Iraq when most of the terror threats are in other places. Terrorists were the whole reason we got into this, so focus on them.
    4. Bill Ayers is a distraction created by the republicans to redirect the masses from issues that actually affect our daily lives. He was a terrorist, that was wrong. He has associated with Obama for political and educational reasons 30 years later, I see nothing wrong with that. The two things are separate. This particular distraction has worked well on you.

    I have not seen any evidence that Obama has ever personally subscribed to any of the extreme views that some around him have. He hasn’t abused his power or used his position to effect evil/wrongdoing as far as I know. If there is evidence to the contrary then I am concerned. He is not responsible for the extreme views of those around him any more than McCain is. Many in McCain’s political party are using racism in a veiled but dangerous way to scare voters. McCain’s rallies are full of whack jobs yelling ‘kill Obama!’, and ”he’s a terrorist/Arab!’. I know McCain doesn’t subscribe to these views but it shows what the attack ads have accomplished with some of his supporters. His behavior during the last 6 weeks of upheaval has been changeable and reinforces my impression that he is too reactive and tempermental to lead the free world.
    His VP is more frightening to me every passing newsday. She has abused her power as governor and doesn’t have the ability to separate her personal and professional/political lives. She changed laws in Alaska to suit her personal needs( look into some zoning laws and tax laws affected by her based on personal interests). Worse than that might be the fact that she can’t seem to answer an unrehearsed question from anyone. I could’ve come up with something more coherent than she did during any of her unscripted/rehearsed interviews recently! Do we want her anywhere near any position of real responsibilty for this country?
    I think not.
    McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin was very bad judgement on his part, and that alone I think is a reason not to vote for him.
    By the way, the last part of your entry was just dripping with sarcasm, which causes many readers to reactively lash out at you. Maybe thats the intention…hmmm.


  2. diddly Says:

    Witness the degree of slaughter in Iraq if we leave prematurely, and then we can really have a discussion about right and wrong. We went in there, we have responsibilties.

    “The two things are separate.”

    For you Becky, they are separate for you, but not for me. But even without Ayers, I wouldn’t be voting for Obama.

    “By the way, the last part of your entry was just dripping with sarcasm, which causes many readers to reactively lash out at you. ”

    I don’t care if people lash out at me. I don’t feel hurt. This is my blog. If it is too offensive due to sarcasm people can choose not to read it.

    Palin has her issues, but she was a pretty effective governor of Alaska. She is not quite the dope you make her out to be.


  3. Becky Says:

    I definitely do not think Palin is a dope. On the contrary, she has to have a brain in her head if she came to be the governor of Alaska. Her resume peceding her political offices inluded beauty pagent and TV reporter. She puts on a good show and knows how to read from a script. I have not seen her display any ability to think on her feet or that she has any real grasp of national or international affairs. She may be able to govern Alaska but I think thats as far as she should go. At least for now.
    As far as leaving Iraq, yes I think we should as far as tens of thousands of ground troops go. Smarter people than me in our government must know how to decrease the numbers of our men on the ground without creating a setup for more slaughter between factions. If we never leave then the Iraqi military never has to step up to the job we’re doing. In the end the people of Iraq need to decide how to run their own show. We have been dumping millions of dollars into this effort and sacrificing young Americans for too long already. I’m sure we’ll have to dump much more money into that region but I don’t think we should continue dumping American soldiers. Also, we have to remain friendly with whoever ends up running that government so we can keep some leverage in that region.
    The timetable is for bringing home our overused soldiers. I think the president needs to take into serious account whatever advice he gets from his military commanders, General Odierno, and other intelligence as he is drawing down our troops. Is it naiive for me to think that the UN might send peacekeeping forces once we step back a bit?
    I know it’s partly political slogan but it concerns me that McCain keeps worrying about the US ‘winning’ the war in Iraq. I don’t think we’ll ever have won this, we need to free ourselves of it is more like it.

    Just for the record I am not offended by your posts on the blog. Their content frustrates me sometimes so I feel the need to respond. By the way, it does my heart good to read the comments from Reena. She’s just what the doctor ordered for my brother.


  4. JVHCP Says:

    If your grandmother Van Hof were younger and computer savey, she’d be loving your blog Wim (as I do, by the way) but, unlike me, she’d be in the midst of the dialogues. It would be great! I’ve been trying to describe it to her and the back and forth between Diddly, Reena and Becky. She’s very interested, but does’nt quite get it, I don’t think. Grandma is much improved and has thrown her Yankee determination behind her various kinds of rehab therapies, with good result. To my surprise, when I went to see her yesterday she asked me to polish her fingernails, which she had all trimmed up and was delighted with the result and said “I’m going to ask Peter to bring back my diamond”. The color: a dusty,dark rose with a little shimmer in it. Sandy had brought it in to her. She has a torn miniscus in that left knee, but no infection. Still has the pseudo gout I guess. Anyway, 20 to 30 years ago, she’d probably have her own blog. I see you carrying on a bit of her fiesty, intellectual nature. You, Reena and Becky. I’m going to encourage Uncle Martin to give it a read…if he can grab a free minute.


  5. Reena Says:

    I really don’t have time to get into all this “stuff” with you. I mean really— somebody should spend some time with our daughter! I don’t think it would be wise if BOTH her PARENTS spent ooooodles of time over the long weekend sparring about poilitics on the computer.

    Regarding the bully stuff and taxes–

    Taxing the bully rich:

    I don’t really interpret any of what Obama has said to be any different than what you would normally hear from a Democratic Presidential Candidate during an election campaign. They almost always say “tax the rich,” and/or “tax big business.”

    For any Economist, irregardless of thier political view, the ability to tax businesses without it hurting the taxpayer or causing the business to go out of business, thus leading to unemployment will depend on the price elasticity of the product.

    In this economy, what I think will be determined is that the consumers are not going to be buying too much PERIOD. If it isn’t a necessity, folks are going to be less likely to buy it unless there is a really good sale. There is already talk of major businesses like Circuit City not making it much past Christmas. There likely won’t be a lot of businesses around to tax.

    As I understand Obamas tax plan, the majority of small businesses will benefit and this sector employs nearly half of the US workers in the private sector.


    I’d be willing to bet feels a lot more loyalty toward their employees than you would find in a big business setting.

    Perhaps it is time that we move away from big business domination and back toward an economic environment where the good old “mom and pop” stores provide the goods.

    The non bully and friendly Health Tax:
    McCain’s health benefit that you like to mention in the confines of our happy peaceful little home– How exactly is that even going to work?

    First, you do realilze that when that tax is implemented, your take home pay will be considerably less. Yes at the end of the year, you will get your tax refund– but what about all of your bills that need to be paid until then?

    Hmmm, perhaps people can use their credit cards to cover those bills.

    But wait, you will also need to pay interest and never mind that- that is a big reason why our country is in such a mess– everyone putting everything under the sun on their credit cards.

    McCain’s plan, let’s leave everyone short during the better course of the year by reducing thier take home pay, but then come out as the big Hero at tax time by writing out a big check to cover that tax.

    If folks have to charge expenses to make up the difference from the reduction in their paycheck, that entire check may go toward paying of those bills PLUS the interest accrued. The only one making out on that deal will be the lenders.

    Thanks– NO THANKS!

    Logistically, how are we going to track whether or not folks have health insurance or not? If folks are getting a credit for health insurance–they should ONLY get it if they have health insurance.

    What is the threshold for the quality of health insurance?

    If taxpayers are paying for it, there needs to be some kind of minimum standard.

    How is all of this going to be tracked and enforced?

    Or, is the plan just to give everyone the health insurance tax refund and trust that they will use the money to buy health insurance?

    We will need a whole new section of federal government just to track this stuff. Where is that money coming from?

    For how long is the health tax benefit truly going to off-set the tax we have to pay on our employer paid health benefit?

    In the short run, this tax benefit would likely more than offset the increase in the tax on the employer provided health insurance, but in the long run, as the cost of health insurance continues to rise at an almost exponential pace, the tax that employees are required to pay under McCain’s plan would grow larger than the tax benefit.

    I wonder how many folks would decide to drop their health insurance?

    Yes, that would be stupid and you may not think that people would be that stupid. One of the reasons our economy is in the mess it is in is due to the majority of people living well beyond their means on credit cards! That is JUST as stupid.

    How much is going to end up costing the tax payers when we have an increase in people going without health insurance?

    The US as a bully–

    In my very racially and internationally diverse grad school program– students from other countries invariably referred to the US as either the US Empire and/or a bully country.

    Granted, with the exception of students from the Nordic countires, most of them also wanted to obtain citizenship in the US.

    I guess if you can’t beat them– then join them?


  6. diddly Says:

    As far as the health care plans, I am looking more at how things are going to play out politically. DO you really think that Obama’s health plan won’t involve higher taxes for almost all of us? I agree that his plan is more thoroughly thought out than McCain’s. But what scares me about it is that it will almost certainly be passed in a Democratic congress, with little debate. McCain’s plan will certainly fall on its face in this Congress, and he will have to form some sort of committee to try to craft one that has a chance of passing. So in terms of how it will play itself out, I think McCain will reach across the aisle on this one. I trust him to do that. And it is up to us to pressure our representatives to reach back.


  7. diddly Says:

    Has there ever been a time when powerful people and organizations and countries were not seen as bullies by weaker ones? When our behavior as a country crosses the line into illegal territory, as it has with the Bush policies on torture, we ought to be taken to task. Beyond that, we just need to try to do the best we can and not get caught up in some sort of image restoration. We will never make everyone happy as long as we are the biggest kid on the block who likes to play hard and win.


  8. diddly Says:

    Maybe I am mssing something, but McCain has had a plan to help small businesses that predates the current explossion of the crisis.

    From his website:

    Keep Tax Rates Low: Entrepreneurs are at the heart of American innovation, growth and prosperity. Entrepreneurs create the ultimate job security – a new, better opportunity if your current job goes away. Entrepreneurs should not be taxed into submission. John McCain will keep the top tax rate at 35 percent, maintain the 15 percent rates on dividends and capital gains, and phase-out the Alternative Minimum Tax. Small businesses are the heart of job growth; raising taxes on them hurts every worker. John McCain’s opponent wants to increase the marginal income tax rate which applies to the nation’s 23 million small business owners who pay their taxes under the individual tax rate system.

    Cut The Corporate Tax Rate From 35 To 25 Percent: A lower corporate tax rate is essential to keeping good jobs in the United States. America was once a low-tax business environment, but as our trade partners lowered their rates, America failed to keep pace. American workers deserve the chance to make fine products here and sell them around the globe.

    Allow First-Year Deduction, Or “Expensing”, Of Equipment And Technology Investments: American workers need the finest technologies to compete. Expensing of equipment and technology will provide an immediate boost to capital expenditures and reward investments in cutting-edge technologies.

    Establish A Permanent Tax Credit Equal To 10 Percent Of Wages Spent On R&D: This reform will greatly simplify the tax code, reward activity in the United States, and make us more competitive with other countries. A permanent credit will provide an incentive to innovate and remove uncertainty. At a time when our companies need to be more competitive, we need to provide a permanent incentive to innovate, and remove the uncertainty now hanging over businesses as they make R&D investment decisions.

    Allow Families To Keep Their Businesses: John McCain proposes reducing the


  9. Reena Says:

    I agree with the comment about a Democratic congress being more likely to pass a Democratic President’s plans without as much scrutiny.

    “Cut The Corporate Tax Rate From 35 To 25 Percent: A lower corporate tax rate is essential to keeping good jobs in the United States. America was once a low-tax business environment, but as our trade partners lowered their rates, America failed to keep pace. American workers deserve the chance to make fine products here and sell them around the globe.”

    Nothing says that just because we cut the corporate tax rate that this tax cut will translate to higher income for the employees or in the Corporations employing more people.

    It may only serve to increase the realized profit margin for the Corporation because they are paying less in taxes. This could especially be true in our current ecnomic environment where consumers are starting to spend less.


  10. Reena Says:

    “the last part of your entry was just dripping with sarcasm, which causes many readers to reactively lash out at you”

    Becky, We’re the only ones responding to his posts.

    I keep telling him to quit being mean to his baby sister.

    He’s getting all indignified with me– All is fair in war and politics.


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