LEADING up to his first election victory in 2008 and soon after, when the dreams were grand and the rhetoric soared, Barack Obama's popularity soared, too. Today, not so much.
Obama's approval rating is at an all-time low. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll out this week showed only 42 percent of Americans approve of his job performance — a 5-point drop from early October. Of those surveyed, 51 percent disapprove of his performance, which is tied for Obama's all-time high disapproval.
For the first time in the poll's history, Obama's personal approval ratings were lower than his disapproval numbers — 41 percent approved on a personal level, 45 percent disapproved.
Apparently, Americans have grown weary of five years of Obama's aloof, divisive and always intensely partisan ways. They were on display Wednesday in Boston where the president said Republicans were “grossly misleading” regarding Americans being dropped from their health insurance plans because of his health care law.
Really? It wasn't Republicans who promised Americans that they could keep their health plans if they liked them. That was Obama, who said it repeatedly before and after the law was passed. Now Republicans, rightfully so, are calling him out because people on the individual market are being told their plans are being dropped because they don't comply with Obamacare.
The president's advice to those folks? “Just shop around in the new marketplace,” he said in Boston. “That's what it's for.” No wonder his numbers continue to plummet.
Back in the game
Kathy Taylor's bid to reclaim the Tulsa mayor's chair that she voluntarily surrendered after one term is being affirmed by the man who served as Taylor's boss before she ran for mayor the first time. Gov. Brad Henry named Taylor state secretary of commerce during his first term, which began in 2003. Now, ex-Gov. Henry is openly supporting Taylor to replace Dewey Bartlett as mayor. This effectively echoes the Bartlett campaign's efforts to tie Taylor to Barack Obama. Henry was an early supporter of Obama in 2008 and is now doing commercials promoting Obamacare. Henry remains popular, but we doubt he would have been so enthusiastic about Obama had he not been a term-limited lame duck in 2008. The Tulsa mayoral election is Nov. 12. Henry's wife, Kim, meantime, is serving as campaign chairwoman for Freda Deskin, a Democrat who wants to unseat Republican state schools Superintendent Janet Barresi. We'll see how far the Henrys' influence will take their chosen candidates.
What's the point?
The superintendent of schools in Broken Arrow wants his colleagues to pursue a vote of “no confidence” in state schools Superintendent Janet Barresi. “It has become quite evident that it is time to strike,” Jarod Mendenhall said in an email sent last weekend to administrators in the Tulsa and Oklahoma City areas. It's unclear exactly what would be accomplished by such a move, given that Barresi holds a statewide elected office. Oklahoma voters chose Barresi for the job in 2010. Next year, voters will show at the ballot box just how confident they are in her abilities. Mendenhall's district recently put together a 22-page publication that criticizes education reform efforts, particularly A-F grading for schools, which Barresi strongly supports. Patrons in the BA district might want to ask Mendenhall how it is he would allocate staff time on such an undertaking, especially given the challenges we hear so much about in public schools related to manpower and funding shortages.
Claim misses the Mrs.
The latest blowback over voter ID laws, like most of the opposition before it, is an empty claim of discrimination. This time, women are the focus because their surnames often change when they marry. This means a new last name and the need for updating of ID cards. Previous but unfounded claims about voter ID laws include the argument that they discriminate against minorities. Election results have exposed this argument as a fraud: Barack Obama had no trouble getting minority votes in states requiring identification for voters. Voting is a right rather than a privilege, say the opponents of ID laws. So is getting Social Security benefits (and paying into the system). Women sometimes must update their Social Security information upon marriage and we haven't heard anyone claim that this unfairly targets females. Voter ID laws are popular and sensible. Every argument thrown against them has failed to hold water. It's still easy to vote even without an ID card that precisely matches one's name. It should never be too easy to exercise the right to vote.
Making the switch
A key piece of Boone Pickens' “Pickens Plan,” which aims to make the United States less reliant on foreign oil, is the conversion of trucking fleets to run on compressed natural gas. That's happening more and more. The Wall Street Journal reported this week that Lowe's, Procter & Gamble and United Parcel Service are among the companies ramping up their switch away from diesel fuel. P&G wants to have 20 percent of its fleet on natural gas in two years; presently 7 percent is. UPS intends to buy 1,000 natural gas-fueled trucks by the end of the year. The Journal says inexpensive natural gas gets some of the credit, along with new natural gas engines that are capable of powering heavy-duty trucks. The head of Waste Management Inc. told the newspaper that about 90 percent of its future truck purchases will be those fueled by natural gas. Changing “would be a big gamble ... if we thought it was going to flip back to diesel being cheaper,” he said. “But as far out as we can see, we think you are going to have lower gas prices and higher diesel prices.”
Court sense down under
Let's hear it for Australia's highest court, which this week denied a workers' compensation claim filed by a government employee who was injured while having sex. The sex occurred in a motel room during a business trip. A glass light fixture above the bed fell and struck the woman in the face, injuring her nose and mouth. She sought compensation for an on-the-job injury and initially was granted it before further investigation revealed the circumstances. In overturning a lower-court ruling, the nation's High Court ruled 4-1 that the woman's employer hadn't induced or encouraged her to have sex, and therefore the Australian government's insurer didn't have to compensate her. The Associated Press reported that the ruling “could have ramifications for other federal employees who claim compensation for unconventional work-related mishaps.” Here's hoping so. And to the four like-minded members of the High Court we say, good on ya mates.
Doctors who care for children in this country are worried about kids being overexposed — not to sunlight, but to technology. The American Academy of Pediatrics issued guidelines this week encouraging parents to ban electronic media at mealtimes and when the kids go to bed. The academy has long been concerned about American kids spending too much time in front of the television. Now youngsters hunker down with their cellphones, tablets and laptops to text, tweet or study. In addition to a no-device rule at the dinner table or in bed, the physicians' group recommends setting family rules regarding use of the Internet and social media. As importantly, the doctors said parents need to live by the same rules, to set a good example. Well, they can hope, can't they?