Tag Archives: barack obama

Barack Obama, Chris Christie, and bipartisanship

Dealing with the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy in the United States East Coast provided President Barack Obama and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a stalwart Republican, a rare chance to show bipartisan cooperation. Sandy just as Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney are in the last week of their race for the White House.

chris christie barack obama

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie welcomed President Barack Obama to his hurricane-hit state. (Credits: Gov. Christie’s Facebook page)

In interviews with the media, Christie, a leading Romney supporter, has been very effusive in praising the relief efforts directed by the Obama administration for his home state.  “He has worked incredibly closely with me since before the storm hit. I think this is our sixth conversation since the weekend. It’s been a great working relationship,” Christie said. In return, Obama commended Christie for “working overtime” and for putting “his heart and soul” to make sure that New Jersey gets back on its feet.

The two then proceeded to tour the areas hammered by Sandy in the region, with Christie posting his pictures with Obama on his Facebook page. Prior to this, Christie declared in an interview on Fox News that he “do not give a damn about presidential politics right now” when asked if he will accompany Romney in touring the affected areas.

This pronouncement, together with Christie’s continues praise for Obama, has left many Republicans feeling uncomfortable about him. Christie, after all, was Romney’s handpicked keynote speaker at the Republican National Convention last August.

Christie and Obama hasn’t always been the best of friends. An hour before Christie spoke at the convention, Obama’s campaign uploaded an infographic on Twitter lumping Christie and Romney as a “Team Not-Quite-Last-Place.” It mocked Christie and Romney’s record on job creation. Just last week, Christie attacked Obama in a Romney campaign event in Virginia, essentially saying that the president is clueless about his job.

chris christie 48th in unemployment new jersey

Barack Obama’s campaign ridiculed Chris Christie’s record on job creation last August (credits: President Obama’s Twitter page)

The working relationship between Obama and Christie has received a lot of attention from politicians and the media alike. Los Angeles Times (LAT), for instance, is suggesting that this public display of bipartisanship might help Obama in his reelection bid against Romney. Iowa’s Des Moines Register cited Romney’s ability to compromise with Democrats as its main reason in endorsing him and not Obama.

LAT added that this may help Christie as well as he prepares for his own reelection run in 2013 and for a potential 2016 candidacy should Romney fail to unseat Obama. The race between Obama and Romney remains extremely close though the president maintains a small but persistent lead in swing states.

Whatever their motivations are, isn’t it refreshing to see political antagonists standing shoulder to shoulder to make sure that the public gets the service they deserve? This is one lesson that politicians from around the world particularly the Philippines should learn.

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US Supreme Court upholds ObamaCare

ObamaCare is constitutional – US Supreme Court

Download the US Supreme Court decision upholding ObamaCare here. This was originally uploaded in the US High Court’s website.

Robert Barnes of Washington Post filed this report:

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the individual health-insurance mandate that is at the heart of President Obama’s landmark health-care law, saying the mandate is permissible under Congress’s taxing authority.

The potentially game-changing, election-year decision — a major victory for the White House less than five months before the November elections –will help redefine the power of the national government and affect the health-care choices of millions of Americans.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. sided with the majority in voting to uphold the law, Obama’s signature domestic initiative.

US Supreme Court upholds ObamaCare’s constitutionality

Passage of the legislation by the Democratic-controlled Congress in 2010 capped decades of efforts to implement a national program of health care. The legislation is expected to eventually extend health-care coverage to more than 30 million Americans who currently lack it.

Republicans in Congress and GOP presidential challenger Mitt Romney have vowed to try and repeal the measure after the November elections.

The health-care issue thrust the Supreme Court into the public spotlight unlike anything since its role in the 2000 presidential election. The court’s examination of the law received massive coverage — especially during three days of oral arguments in March — and its outcome remained Washington’s most closely guarded secret.

The court reviewed four questions: whether it was within Congress’s constitutional powers to impose an “individual mandate” to purchase health insurance; whether all or any additional parts of the law must be struck down if the mandate is rejected; whether an expansion of Medicaid was unduly coercive on the states and whether all of those questions can even be reviewed before the mandate takes effect.

On the Medicaid question, the judges found that the law’s expansion of Medicaid can move forward, but not its provision that threatens states with the loss of their existing Medicaid funding if the states declined to comply with the expansion. The finding immediately raises questions as to how effectively the federal government will be able to implement the expansion of the joint federal-state insurance program for the poor.

The most crucial issue before the court was considered to be the individual mandate, known technically as the “minimum coverage” provision, because striking it down would jeopardize the ability of insurers to comply with other, more popular elements of the health-care law without drastically raising premiums. Under those other provisions, for example, insurers can no longer limit or deny benefits to children because of a preexisting condition, and young adults to up age 26 are eligible for insurance coverage under their parents’ plans.

During oral arguments in March, conservative justices indicated they were skeptical about the individual mandate, the provision in the 2,700-page health-care law that requires nearly all Americans to obtain health insurance by 2014 or pay a financial penalty.

Arguing the case for the Obama administration, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. defended the law as a constitutional exercise of congressional power under the charter’s commerce clause to regulate interstate commerce. He said lawmakers were regulating health insurance to deal with the problem of millions of people who lack coverage and therefore shift costs to the insured when they cannot pay for their medical care.

(Continue reading this story in the Washington Post website.)

Also read:

Supreme Court Allows Health Care Law Largely to StandNew York Times

US Supreme Court Upholds Obama Law’s Requirement That Most Americans Have Health Insurance – Time Magazine 


Lacierda is right in comparing Aquino to Obama re conflict with SC

Reacting to noted constitutionalist Fr. Joaquin Bernas’ criticism that President Benigno Aquino III acted like Cuban strongman Fidel Castro when he ordered the initiated the hasty impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona, Palace spokesperson Edwin Lacierda pointed out that United States President Barack Obama also engaged in Supreme Court-bashing in front of a joint session of Congress last year. He is right.

In his 2010 State of the Union address, with six of the nine US high court magistrates, including Chief Justice John Roberts, in attendance, Obama slammed the Supreme Court for ruling that private corporations are allowed to donate money for or against certain candidates and causes as long as there’s full disclosure of where the contribution is going.

Here’s that portion of Obama’s address, courtesy of the Los Angeles Times:

“Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign companies — to spend without limit in our elections,” Obama said tonight. “Well, I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, and worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people, and that’s why I’m urging Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to right this wrong.”

The court’s ruling overturned a century-old restriction. In a 5-4 decision led by the court’s conservative bloc, the justices said that corporations had the same right to free speech as individuals, and for that reason the government could not stop corporations from spending to help their favored candidates. Many analysts predict the ruling will benefit Republicans in next fall’s midterm elections.

As noted in the report, a slim majority of justices in the Supreme Court were appointed by Republican presidents. Chief Justice Roberts was appointed in 2005 by George W. Bush, Obama’s predecessor. This is somehow similar to Aquino’s present problem – dealing with a Supreme Court dominated by appointees of ex President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Aquino opposed Corona’s appointment as Chief Justice from the day he was sworn in by Arroyo. Obama opposed Robert’s confirmation when he was still a senator from Illinois. Here are excerpts from Obama’s explanation of vote:

“In his (John Roberts) work in the White House and the Solicitor General’s Office, he seemed to have consistently sided with those who were dismissive of efforts to eradicate the remnants of racial discrimination in our political process. In these same positions, he seemed dismissive of the concerns that it is harder to make it in this world and in this economy when you are a woman rather than a man.”

It will be prudent to point out the differences between the dynamics of the two Supreme Courts. The mandatory retirement age of Filipino magistrates is set at 70, while American high court justices can serve indefinitely. Because of this, it is highly unlikely that a single American president can appoint a majority of them (unlike here in the Philippines). For instance, George W. Bush was able to appoint only two SC justices during his eight-year term.

Going back to the Obama-Roberts rift: The latter dealt the former a counterpunch six weeks after the State of the Union address (March 2010). As CBS News reported, Roberts described Obama’s tirade against the Supreme Court as “very troubling” because in doing so, the President did not observe “proper decorum.” Roberts also slammed the SOUA for degenerating into a “political pep rally.” Here’s what he said:

The image of having the members of one branch of government standing up, literally surrounding the Supreme Court, cheering and hollering while the court – according the requirements of protocol – has to sit there expressionless, I think is very troubling.”

Shortly after Aquino berated Corona during a Supreme Court-sponsored criminal justice summit, Supreme Court administrator and spokesperson Jose Midas Marquez said:

“It is not at all unusual for the Executive Branch to disagree with the Judicial Branch.  But what is considerably unusual is for the Chief Executive to look down on the members of the Judiciary in public … and to their faces denounce the Court’s independent actions, as the Chief Justice sat speechless, motionless and expressionless because of the requirements of protocol,” he added.

Notice any similarity in the way the statements were worded?

From Manila Standard Today, March 20, 2010:

(Aquino) raised the threat of impeachment against anyone Mrs. Arroyo would name to replace Chief Justice Reynato Puno when he retires on May 17.”

Seems like Aquino has long prepared for a battle against Corona.


Running for Congress was a gross miscalculation made by Gloria Arroyo

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo earned much criticism two years ago when she announced her decision to seek a congressional seat in the 2nd district of her home province Pampanga once her term as President ends. The speculation at that time was this: given the fact that her allies would almost certainly retain control of the House of Representative, she will most likely become the Speaker.

Once in Congress, she and her minions would then push for charter change, with her as the Prime Minister. But alas, the numerical superiority of Lakas Kampi CMD dwindled when its members shifted allegiances (mostly to the now ruling Liberal Party) before and after the May 10, 2010 polls.

Then President Gloria Arroyo filing her certificate of candidacy for congresswoman in 2009 (credits: Xinhua News Agency)

Obviously, those aforementioned scenarios never materialized. And right now, she is facing an arrest warrant for electoral sabotage (in connection to the 2007 senatorial polls) – which means there is no way for her to travel overseas anymore. As Arroyo herself noted in a radio interview shortly before filing her candidacy in 2009, being a congresswoman will not give her immunity from charges against her.

Congressional immunity, after all, applies only to cases with a penalty of not more than six years. Article VI, Section 11 of the 1987 Constitution says:”A Senator or Member of the House of Representatives shall, in all offenses punishable by not more than six years imprisonment, be privileged from arrest while the Congress is in session. No Member shall be questioned nor be held liable in any other place for any speech or debate in the Congress or in any committee thereof.”

Therefore, I find it interesting why Arroyo still insisted on running for Congress instead of just letting her son Mikey seek a third and final term. With the likelihood of her spending this year’s Christmas season in detention looming in the horizon, that decision now appears to be a gross miscalculation on GMA’s part.

Arroyo should have not run for Congress. Instead, she must have left the Philippines shortly after Benigno Aquino III was sworn in as president. She can go to a country where we do not have an existing extradition treaty. Not a tough task, since the Philippines has forged an extradition treaty with just eight countries and two territories. Or better yet, she can flee to a country with no existing diplomatic relations with the Philippines (like Taiwan, for instance).

Gloria Arroyo and US President Barack Obama at the White House (2009)

Knowing that it took a year and a half before the Aquino government officially filed charges against her, she might now be regretting having chosen to run as a district representative instead of preemptively running away from charges against her. Once a globetrotting president, Gloria Arroyo nowadays can no longer travel abroad without the consent of Malacanang and Department of Justice. Once feted by US President Barack Obama, Spain’s King Juan Carlos, and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi (now deceased), the former leader is now staring at a possible hospital arrest. What a fall from grace!


The approval of gay marriages in New York is one of the legacies of the 1969 Stonewall Riots

Last June 24, the New York state legislature, voting 33-29, officially legalized same-sex marriages in the state of New York. While the United States national government does not recognize such unions (because the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriages as strictly between a man and a woman remains in place), each of its 50 states has the power (under the present federal system) to legalize or at least recognize same-sex marriages within its borders.

 

 

This legislative win makes New York only the 6th American state to authorize same-sex marriages. New York is nevertheless a big win for gay rights advocates because it is the biggest state to allow such marriages. Other states such as California allow domestic partnerships and civil unions, but not marriages. The victory in New York for gay rights advocates is also a symbolic one: first, New York is the state where the turning point in the history of gay rights activism, the Stonewall Riots of June 27-29 1969, happened.

 

 

This is also why the United States is marking its LGBT pride month every June, an annual tradition started by then US President Bill Clinton in 2000 and further expanded by current President Barack Obama under his term. The momentous event happened exactly 42 years ago yesterday. As a junior journalism student two years ago, I wrote a paper tracking the development of gay rights activism in the United States from 1950s-1980s. I titled it “The Stonewall’s Mark” in recognition of the event’s role in gay rights history. Here are some excerpts from that paper:

The June 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York served as a catalyst for a more aggressive campaign for gay rights

The June 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York served as a catalyst for a more aggressive campaign for gay rights (photo credits: Time Magazine online)

Agents of the NY Public Morals Squad entered the premises of the Stonewall at around 1:20 am and announced that they are taking over the place. However, the bar’s patrons botched the raid. The plan was to line up the people in the bar, check their identification, and have female police officers take customers dressed as women to the bathroom to verify their sex, upon which any men caught cross-dressing would be nabbed.

 

In an act of defiance, males refused to produce their identities while those dressed as females disobeyed the officers’ orders. Those who were not arrested were released by the police from the bar premises – but instead of going home, they congregated outside the Inn where a crown of about 200 gathered within an hour after the raid. Suddenly, the police began dragging arrested bar patrons into their patrol wagon – apparently in a humiliating way. The gathered crown jeered at the policemen and upon seeing the blatant brutality, they began throwing anything they can (bricks, beer bottles and even pennies) towards the policemen.

 

The police responded to the worsening mob by engaging in more physical violence – a step that backfired since it only had infuriated the bar patrons further. The humiliated policemen tried to disperse the crowd, which in turn ran to a nearby construction site and hurled assorted debris towards the law enforcers. This marked the first time where homosexuals violently resisted state authorities who had oppressed them for years.

 

The Stonewall riots created the image of gays and lesbians retaliating against the police after many years of being passive to their harassment. What is more interesting to note is the fact that the Stonewall Riots happened spontaneously. There was no organizing group which would have told the crowd what to do. It seems that all the police harassment that had happened for many years had come to a head on that particular time and place – and that homosexuals had had enough of it. As mentioned earlier, red light districts are vital for homosexuals because these public spaces provide them with opportunities for free expression of sexual identity.


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