Wednesday, January 13, 2010


January is always a difficult time for me. I tend to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, and even though the hours of daylight are actually increasing now, the cold weather makes me glum and I just want to hibernate. In fact, the colder it gets, the earlier I go to bed. We went to bed before 9 p.m. three times last week! I just want to be cozy and warm and in my bed and doing nothing but watch TV.

I've also been trying unsuccessfully to write a New Year's post looking back on the past decade. I thought about all the things that had gone on in my own life during that decade, and all the things that had gone on in the world during that same time. I noticed many of these things were bad things that I didn't really want to think about or dwell upon, so I never finished that post.

So then I started thinking about more recent times and still felt glum. In fact, I read Bob Herbert's column last Monday and felt as if he kind of summed up what I was feeling, that a big opportunity was passing us by, that things weren't going the way I had expected. In fact, I felt a sense that the new decade was going to be much like the old decade. It didn't give me a lot of hope for the future. Here is the gloomy ending of Bob's column:

"If America can’t change, then the current state of decline is bound to continue. You can’t have a healthy economy with so many millions of people out of work, and there is no plan now that would result in the creation of millions of new jobs any time soon.

Voters were primed at the beginning of the Obama administration for fundamental changes that would have altered the trajectory of American life for the better. Politicians of all stripes, many of them catering to the nation’s moneyed interests, fouled that up to a fare-thee-well.

Now we’re escalating in Afghanistan, falling back into panic mode over an attempted act of terror and squandering a golden opportunity to build a better society."

"Ah yes," I thought to myself. "Exactly how I feel. No wonder I'm depressed about the future!"

I was also quite disheartened by the New Jersey Legislature rejecting the proposed gay marriage bill last week.

But, all is not lost. There are actually good things happening, it's just that no one, particularly the GOP and their mouthpieces (such as Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and now, horror of horrors, Sarah Palin on Fox) wants you to know about them. The media doesn't cover the good things that have happened; that's bad for ratings.

So I was most heartened to read Annette's post over at Just My Little Piece of the World which points out that actually, Obama has been even more successful than LBJ in getting his agenda passed in Congress. Referring to LBJ's accomplishments, she says:

"Even so, it was still hard for him to get Medicare and Civil Rights legislation through Congress and the bills he got through, were not the bills we have now. They have been added to many times to make them what they are today.

That's the way all big Omnibus Legislation is done. That's the way this Health Care Bill is going to be. No, it isn't what we all wanted, no it isn't everything it maybe could be.. But the President, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have to work with the members they have to pass what they can

I couldn't agree more. I know many chafe at President Obama's practicality, but there was no one more practical than LBJ and he knew how things had to be done in Washington. He was castigated for his escalation of the Vietnam War, but no one could deny that he accomplished a great deal in the areas of health care and civil rights and that without his leadership on these issues, we would be even further behind in these areas.

Sherry from After the Bridge posted a great link on Facebook that also gave me encouragement. Listen to Rachel Maddow point out all of the President's accomplishments to date. She does also hold him accountable for not closing Guantanamo or ending "Don't Ask Don't Tell," but she gives credit where credit is due - and a lot is due. (You have to get through a short bit with Sarah Palin in the beginning but hang in there, Rachel will get to the accomplishments after that).

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Among the accomplishments she cites:
- Taxpayers actually MADE MONEY on the stimulus package - $52 billion in profit!
- Because of his actions we have NOT had a second Great Depression.
- Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Act for fair pay.
- He appointed the first Hispanic woman to the Supreme Court.

In addition:

Job losses actually are heading in the right direction compared to the last two years of the Bush administration. Rachel shows a similar chart to this one. As you can see, job losses have been lessening since just after President Obama took office, particularly after the stimulus bill passed:

Rachel also references an article by Jacob Weisberg in Slate, which talks about Obama's "brilliant first year." He points out that one of the key accomplishments will indeed be the health care reform bill now being worked on in Congress.

"The case for Obama's successful freshman year rests above all on the health care legislation now awaiting action in the Senate. Democrats have been trying to pass national health insurance for 60 years. Past presidents who tried to make it happen and failed include Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton. Through the summer, Obama caught flak for letting Congress lead the process, as opposed to setting out his own proposal. Now his political strategy is being vindicated. The bill he signs may be flawed in any number of ways—weak on cost control, too tied to the employer-based system, and inadequate in terms of consumer choice. But given the vastness of the enterprise and the political obstacles, passing an imperfect behemoth and improving it later is probably the only way to succeed where his predecessors failed."

So after reading Annette's blog and the Slate article, and listening to Rachel Maddow, I am feeling more positive than I was last week.

And hey, at least New Jersey passed the Medical Marijuana Bill.


Annette said...

Thanks Maui... for the link and for the kudos.. not sure I deserve them but thank you. You did better than I and deserve a huge pat on the back and a Way To Go for this one. Great post lady... sounds like you got the monkey off your back, much as I did mine.

MRMacrum said...

I listened to an interview with a presidential historian of apparently some weight. His take is Obama has been as productive or more than Franklin Roosevelt, LBJ, and Reagan in his first year. And he has inherited a much worse situation than the other three. He has to keep up with two military fronts, a global financial meltdown, and the worst recession since the Great Depression. Roosevelt inherited the Great Depression but the geo -political climate in the early 1930s was stable. LBJ had the aftermath of Kennedy's assasination and a dicey domestic front, but the economy was robust compared to today. Reagan had a recession but until he got his hands on it a geo political situation, not even close to as dicey as what Obama is dealing with.

All in all, I am glad I have been holding my opinion somewhat on Obama. So far, he is not disappointing me, but in my mind, it is the two year mark that will really be telling. So far, so good.

Jason said...

Very nice blog you have here. I like reading political blogs for some reason. Anyway, I have a site myself where people from around the world come and debate on popular issues. I feel as if this will give citizens some form of power, letting their voices be heard.

I'd like to exchange links with you to help spread some traffic around between each other. If you'd like to, please leave a comment under our "Compadres" page when you've added our link and we'll return the favor.

Until then, keep up the good work.


Jason said...

Very nice blog you have here. I like reading political blogs for some reason. Anyway, I have a site myself where people from around the world come and debate on popular issues. I feel as if this will give citizens some form of power, letting their voices be heard.

I'd like to exchange links with you to help spread some traffic around between each other. If you'd like to, please leave a comment under our "Compadres" page when you've added our link and we'll return the favor.

Until then, keep up the good work.


Randal Graves said...

You crazy optimists. We live in a mutated country and I fully expect the third, fourth and seventh shoe to drop in the near future. But as long as the Cavs win, I can live with it.

Comrade Kevin said...

Does light therapy help your SAD? At times it has helped me.

libhom said...

I am so disgusted with the wealthcare bill that has passed the Senate. Harry Reid easily could have passed a real healthcare bill with a strong public option by using budget reconciliation. Reid and Obama have been playing us, and I'm sick of it.

Fran said...

Easy to have SAD & there always seems to be a post holidays period of the Blues.

I can't quite join the bandwagon on the list of Obama accomplishments though.... he promised to get us out of Iraq ASAP, and the Afghanistan situation is more of the same in my book AND it contributes to the economic woes.
We were supposed to have shut down Girmo by now & that is troubling and probably expensive as well.
I do know he was handed an unprecedented
mess, so I have tried to be patient.
But he could & should have done a lot more with things like Gay rights & even something more solid on the environmental front.

Don;t mean to bring you down.... but there are some big glaring items on the list of promised things that have not been kept. Although I do sincerely want Obama to be successful.
I have to wonder if after all this mess he would even want an additional term as president??? Such an enormous responsibility, awash in major problems.

Yay NJ for passing the medical mj law.
Personally, I wish they would allow CA to grow the crops for profit, make it readily available for those w a medical need, and fix their dire economic needs all at once.

splord said...

Excellent post, MG. I, too, had high hopes that Obama truly would be different, but I'm not sure he can be, the way the system is these days.

Also, I think I´m suffering from reverse SAD. There´s too much daylight here for this time of year (we´re only 10ยบ north of the equator) and it´s starting to wear me down.

Tell ya what, I´ll send you some sunlight and you send me some Winter. Deal?

Mauigirl said...

Thanks for all your comments.

For those who point out the shortcomings of Obama's performance so far - believe me, I'm with you. I'm particularly sad that he has not stepped up to the plate on DADT and other gay rights issues.

Libhom, I do wish the health care bill were stronger. But it is still more than what we have now. I blame Congress for not being braver. But it is still a step.

Comrade Kevin, I haven't tried light therapy - always mean to but never get around to ordering the light box. I do think part of my disgust with January is due to the cold, and as Fran suggested, some post-holiday blues probably plays a part!

Bob, I'll happily trade you some of our winter dreariness for some of your sunshine!

1138 said...

Help with SAD
Quit sugar, eat only American Honey
(imported honey contains bad stuff from China).

Oh and I hope you don't mind but I'm going to copy your still glad I voted for Obama Biden on my blog.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

I have SAD too. Light therapy does help.

And I really appreciate this post about putting Obama's first year in perspective.

susan said...

Thanks for posting some positive news. I may not believe it anymore than Randal does but I do promise to keep trying :-)

Mauigirl said...

Thanks all - and it is good to know that I am not alone in my SAD. 1138, will try that American honey idea!

PENolan said...

I'm pretty disgusted myself these days - not so much with Obama as with the whole system itself.

I don't get SAD, but I've been going to bed way early too. I prefer to sleep through my stress and worries.

Mauigirl said...

Maybe that's part of it. My SAD is particularly bad this year and it may have something to do with politics!