Obama has been to the mountain top (and so have we)

January 13, 2017


I’ve been thinking about what to write this week as Portland has been buried under a record snowstorm. The most accumulation since the winter of 1943, when America was at war with fascists and emperors. (Insert joke about contemporary fascist emperor wannabes here.) I was thinking about a passionate defense of Donald J. Trump’s right to engage in golden showers with other consenting adults, but I kept getting that Frank Zappa song about not eating yellow snow stuck in my head. Maybe after things melt around here. (And the Russian video comes out. Will Billy Bush be in it?)


Watching Obama’s farewell speech this week was such an emotional passing. It’s been a tortured presidency, scandal free and full of class and poise, but marked with so many “You almost did it” moments. You almost closed Guantanamo. You almost created a health care coverage system that all Americans saw as better than the previous mess. You almost ended the war in Afghanistan. You almost created a national dialogue on race that conservative white people felt invited to. You almost shut Trump up for good.

Of course there have been a ton of accomplishments, too long to list here. People seem to forget that eight years ago, we were in the Great Recession, headed straight for another Great Depression. Unemployment was skyrocketing and the stock market was plummeting and the value of my house fell by over 50%. One of my colleagues was set to retire in 2008 and cash in his 401K. He couldn’t. Obama’s risky moves got the economy (and the American car industry) back on track. My home equity is above where it was and the predatory lenders have been banished from the hood. Whew!


But for every drop in the mortgage foreclosure rate there’s been another drone attack, often involving civilian casualties (aka, somebody else’s kids) and peaceniks debate whether bombs in the sky are better than boots on the ground. Obama’s gotten hell from the left for being too friendly with Wall Street and gotten hell from the right being a big government socialist. And then there are Trump’s racist alt-right gang that think he’s a Kenyan Muslim who is married to an orangutang and wants to institute “Sharia Law” across the country. Whatever happened to those nut jobs. Oh…

This week I just find myself flashing back to 2008. I was leading discussions in my Contemporary Theory class at PSU about which Democratic candidate was more in line with core feminist values, Barrack Obama or Hillary Clinton. I made the case for Obama because, like radical feminists might, he argued we should talk to our adversaries instead of bombing them; that Clinton was falling for a liberal feminist hang-up by trying to “out-male” the hawkish males in Washington. (On a side-note: doesn’t Mitt Romney seem like a completely competent commander-in-chief compared to the buffoon coming in?)


The fall of 2008 offered so much promise; an end to the Iraq War and a return to proven Democratic economic policies. A moment in history when The White House, built by slaves, could be occupied by highly qualified black man. It was a stunning prospect. A true moment to transform the country and repair some of the cracks in our national mirror. To see ourselves as better people than we were. I needed to mark the moment in some Northwestern fashion.

So on September 11th, I took a solo hike up to the top of Mt. Saint Helens (elevation: 8,366 feet). I was going through my own transition as my marriage was ending and I was thinking some of that hope and change might rub off on me. I had never made the climb and really had no idea how treacherous it was. The day I went up, a climber fell in the boulder field and had to be airlifted out. The following week a climber was standing on the rim at the summit when the volcano rumbled. He fell into the crevice and was killed. All I knew was I had to make it to the top to see what was on the other side.

It’s a four hour hike. The previous week, I thought I’d be a rebel and take the trail less traveled and ran into a black bear. So on 9/11 I went up the right way. An hour in the woods, an hour in the boulders, and two hours up the volcanic ash, two steps forward and one sliding back in the grey powder left over from the great eruption. That climb would become of metaphor for the next eight years. This includes a shrinking supply of fresh water from the melting glaciers on the way up.


I spent some time at the top, admiring the view and looking over my cheap hiking boots at the tortured route to the summit. I asked another hiker to take my picture with my “Oregon for Obama” t-shirt and extreme hat-hair. I made it and so did we. Now whenever I see Mt. Saint Helens on a clear day, including in the winter when it’s covered and snow, I think, “Yeah, I made my way up there and stood on top. The journey made me a better person.”

Congratulations, President Obama. You made it to the top. And we are all better people because you did.


8 thoughts on “Obama has been to the mountain top (and so have we)

  1. Randy,
    I always enjoy your sentiments-especially your thoughtful departures from the status quo, However,
    putting politics aside for a moment, you have echoed my sentiments precisely about the exultancy we have witnesses in the Presidency of Obama. He elevated the office to what it should be: an elegant mixture of empathetic reason interspersed with imperative gut reactions. And whether you were a corporate CEO or a severely marginalized individual, you knew he had your back and he did it in such an effortless manner that we knew he wasn’t acting,but reacting to the compassionate logic that emanated from his heart and not the winds of the moment,


    Kenneth Gaughran

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I like how you try to paint Obama being this perfect president. However, you are forgetting about his flaws that are very recognizable. First is the war in Iraq. Yes, he pulled our troops out of there. As a soldier who was deployed there, I was glad to hear about that. When he was running for presidency, he said he was going to withdraw our troops and bring them home for good. No sooner later, we have troops back in Iraq who are still dying over there. That’s not a success. Yes, when Obama took office, we were in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Here’s what you aren’t recognizing. When he took office, our national debt was just over $9 trillion. To this date, our national debt is almost $20 trillion. That’s not a success. His administration lied about the murder of a U.S ambassador to Libya in 2012. Got the U.S. involved in a civil war happening in Syria. A healthcare plan that has increased premiums as much as 116% (Arizona), 27% in Oregon. Along with many, many more. But my favorite thing that he’s done that is a complete failure is his lack of respect for the country of Israel. He actually went so far to granting a nuclear deal to Iran. A country that has professed many times they want to destroy the country of Israel.

    So I’m sorry, but Obama hasn’t been the president that people make him out to be. I was critical of Bush for putting troops into Iraq when we shouldn’t have been there in the first place. Now, everyone is saying if you voted for Trump, you’re a racist just like if you didn’t vote for Obama that makes you a racist. Not everyone who voted for Trump is racist. My prayer moving into the administration is for Trump to be a successful president. Nobody wants to see their president be a complete failure. When I was in the Army, we are taught that you may not respect the person in office, but you should at least respect his title. I may not have been a supporter of Obama, but I do respect his title as president. I hope that everyone else in the country can do the same for Trump. That’s my rant. I know you don’t believe it or support and will go on the offense with it. But I’m stating the facts, not political beliefs.


    1. I’ve never seen anyone so sadly desperate for approval as you are. You are so terrified of being called a racist that you can’t stop bringing it up. With all your bellyaching it seems “the lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

      You demonstrate nothing more than aggrieved resentment over and over. Oh, cry me a fucking river. You think that democrats are well treated? Try Satanic, demonic, evil, unAmerican, traitors, treasonous, pinheads, mentally disordered. I could go on and on. Not that you care, you are so busy navel gazing and looking for someone to clap for you because once you’re done with your rants and hurling accusations, you sanctimoniously say you hope that our country is less divided.

      You have demonstrated that the most effort you will make towards that goal is getting on your knees and babbling incantations at the ceiling and spell casting, which looks an awful lot like doing absolutely nothing, but you want to claim credit for it.

      Trump doesn’t deserve my support, he never asked for it, he has never done or said one single thing that meets with even the most basic level of decency. He’s a reality tv star who when asked about his baby daughter had nothing but this to say:

      “Well, I think that she’s got a lot of Marla. She’s a really beautiful baby—she’s got Marla’s legs.” Then making a gesture that indicated large breasts, he added, “We don’t know whether or not she’s got this part yet, but time will tell.”

      Gross. Sorry, the man is repulsive, even if he “won”. Some of us have standards and aren’t as willing as you to look past these things. The very least you could do is recognize that. Oh, right, even the least thing you could do is too much for you. The most effort you’ll put forth is offering to pray and your friendship. Two things no one’s asking from you.

      You’re really bringing up Benghazi? Why not just bring up the Clinton body count and pizzagate. You know the people who aren’t accusing Obama about lying are the ambassador’s family. You dishonor the family when you bring up that Benghazi shit. Oh wait, you’re a Christian, of course you wouldn’t let that get in the way of your narrative. You lost all credibility last time when you said you had no idea what’s been going on in terms of nazi vandalism. Then you have the nerve to claim you’re just “stating facts”. What a joke.

      Your concern for Israel is truly touching. No one wants Israel to be rapture-ready more than Christians and that means no deal with Iran. No wonder that’s your “favorite”.


    2. Person after person, Republicans included, who hated Obamacare until they needed it, because it seems they hate everything until it affects them personally, has gone to Congress and said “Obamacare saved my life, without it I wouldn’t have gotten coverage for my ore existing condition”.

      That you are so quick to brush that aside to goose your argument against Obamacare because of premium rate hikes by insurance companies says way more about you than it does about President Obama.

      Yes, premiums went up in some places, in some not as fast as it would have without Obamacare, and down in others. And lives were saved, but why take that into account when you can call it a failure. Like I said that says way more about you than about the law.


  3. The last 8 years have been rough on America. Since Obama became president, we have become a country more divided. We’ve become a country that is criticized for if you don’t like Obama you’re a racist, if you don’t like Hillary you’re a sexist, if you voted for Trump that makes you a sexist racist. Not to mention, there’s a huge argument between pro-life and pro-choice. Me personally, I’m against abortion. The second there’s a heartbeat, that’s a human life. But that’s for another discussion at another time.

    Let’s look how racially divided we are
    Black Lives Matter: I’m the type of person that takes stand for no matter what your race, gender, culture, or religion, all lives (yes including black lives) has an equal opportunity no matter what. This not only means at an equal opportunity of life, but for education, advancements, housing, etc. There’s people who have lived in the rough parts of Los Angeles or the south side of Chicago and moved on to be very successful individuals. We’ve had this mentality that those who live in these rough parts of America don’t make it out. Well, they do with hard work, and dedication. Yes, I honestly do believe there are some bad white police officers here in America. But since some bad white cops killed black people (whether they black person was innocent or not), America has this interpretation that all white cops are bad and we need to take a stand against them. There’s black men who have killed white cops (Dallas sniper is an example of this: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/07/08/anger-swells-after-cops-shot-in-dallas.html).

    Trump and inauguration: Ever since Trump announced that he was going to run for President, everyone in America said he didn’t have a chance of winning the White House. Well, not only did he become the Republican nominee, but he did manage to gain the electoral college vote even though he did lose the overall vote. Had Hillary not thrown the white towel in when she did, then I do believe that the storybook would tell a different story. We have heard all over America about protests/riots because Trump is going to be president. I’ve been hearing about protests planned all over America on the day of inauguration (including at the inauguration). Let me ask, had there been protests when Obama was inaugurated, what would be your first conclusion about it? People are racist! We live in a society where if you don’t agree with the other political party (whether it be Republican or Democrat), you are chastised by the other group. I group up in an era where no matter who was elected president, you stand by and support him as the commander in chief of this country. Unfortunately, it’s very different now. I’m sorry to say, but the liberals today are acting like a bunch of spoiled rotten children who never had a whooping a day in their life and all want a participation trophy.

    Homosexuality vs heterosexuality
    This has been an on going debate for many years. When the Supreme Court made the statement about same-sex marriage, I honestly believe that wasn’t their place to make that call. When a state has something that gets shut down by the voters, where do they go to try and get that overturned? They go running to the Supreme Court. I’m sorry, but that is a topic that should be left up to the state to decide, not the high court. Ever since that law was passed, we are hearing stories about businesses closing and even filing bankruptcy because they were sued for refusal to do a party. I remember hearing BEFORE the Supreme Court passed that ruling, there was a baker who was sued because a same-sex couple had their feelings hurt because they heard the word no. What’s sad is that baker lost and at that time, there wasn’t anything saying it was the law about same-sex marriage. We live in an era now where you have to be sensitive and not hurt someone elses feelings because they could sue you. That means you could lose everything you’ve saved, your home, file bankruptcy, and have nothing left. Let me ask you, how would you feel if you said no to someone or you hurt their feelings, they took offense to it, sued you and they won? Let’s say hypothetically, you lost everything the same way the baker did? How would that make you feel? Today’s group of people don’t have a backbone, they are soft, and complain about everything.

    Now I can keep going on and on and on. By the time I’m done, this could turn into a novel. I do hope that we can become a country that isn’t divided because of what political party you associate with, your religion, race, sex, culture. There’s an old saying by George Santayana, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Those who do not remember their past are condemned to repeat their mistakes. Those who do not read history are doomed to repeat it. Those who fail to learn from the mistakes of their predecessors are destined to repeat them.” Whenever we as a nation begin to take one step forward, we then take 3 steps back. We need to, more than ever, lock arms as a country, and learn from our history. If we don’t we aren’t going to be a united country and that could lead to our downfall. It happened to the Ottoman Empire, Umayyad Caliphate, Persian Empire, Byzantine Empire, Han Dynasty, British Empire, Holy Roman Empire, The Russian Empire, Mongol Empire, and the Roman Empire. If we aren’t careful, it could happen to the United States of America. We could be a country that does not learn from our ancestors and become another page in history books.


    1. Wow, Daniel what a wall of crap.

      ” But since some bad white cops killed black people (whether they black person was innocent or not), America has this interpretation that all white cops are bad and we need to take a stand against them. There’s black men who have killed white cops (Dallas sniper is an example of this: ”

      One of Trumps messages was “people are afraid and our country is a hellhole.” Newt Gingrich also echoed this sentiment. Yet, it seems that the privilege of having your fears addressed by the government is available only to white people. Heaven forfend black people say THEY are afraid, that when they call cops to help them, they are going to get shot instead and then society looks away. Some asshole is sure to go on the internet and babble on about “bad apples” and black people shooting white cops. Are you that quick to point out when white people shoot cops? When the Bundy gang had their weapons pointed on the roadways? And after that, 2 white people from that ranch killed a cop? When the Oregon gang of dingdongs holed up ready to shoot at the Malheur reservation, demanding the government give them what amounts to reparations? Didn’t think so. You are blind to your double standards and all, why would you.

      ” I remember hearing BEFORE the Supreme Court passed that ruling, there was a baker who was sued because a same-sex couple had their feelings hurt because they heard the word no. ”

      Wrong Daniel. First of all, it’s against the law to discriminate based on sexual orientation in Oregon. This should have some meaning for you since… what was it you said? Oh yes “I’m sorry, but that is a topic that should be left up to the state to decide, not the high court. ” States rights. I guess it doesn’t always mean something to you, typical republican hypocrite that you are.

      The bakers broke the law, number one. The customers did not hear the word “no” and sue, that’s not what happened. What these bakers should have done, what any person who really believed in their righteousness and were ready to stand by it would have done, was posted a sign in their window saying “we don’t serve gays”. But of course, the bakers being your standard everyday sanctimonious Christians didn’t want to lose customers. What the bakers did instead was tell them the customers they were an abomination to God, and the customers reported them, as was their right to do. Just filed a report, basic procedure. Then the bakers then doxxed the customers, with the report information (law break number two) and and the customers whole family was under threat, they were afraid. They weren’t being “soft” and complaining and whining they were trying to keep their family together. It was extraordinarily traumatic for them. Thus the lawsuit.

      The bakers behaved cruelly and indecently by practicing their religion on other people, so of course, you support them. Since this case is such a big deal for you people, one would think you would have actually read the transcripts. Guess not.

      ” I’m sorry to say, but the liberals today are acting like a bunch of spoiled rotten children who never had a whooping a day in their life and all want a participation trophy.”

      Unbelievably wrong Daniel. Trump has made threats to throw people in jail, repeated threats to the press and supposedly that’s not how democracy is supposed to work, or so I thought. Some people care about freedom of the press and other freedoms, but somehow in your world that makes us “crybabies who want a participation trophy”.

      Trump said he would drain the swamp and he did. He drained it of everyone who cares that we live in a democratic country that tries to live up to its ideals and promises. He filled it up with reactionaries, Christian zealots, theocrats and dominionists, billionaire bankers and oil tycoons who are planning on plundering the arctic and helping themselves to everyone else’s money while practicing their religion on the rest of us, sacrificing citizens to their deity. He drained it of liberals who you are now calling spoiled rotten crybabies and I don’t know what a whooping day in their life means, but, I’m sorry, we are not hostages. We are the enemy. We are out of power and targets of lone wolves and stochastic terrorism.

      Case in point. https://4thgenwar.wordpress.com/2016/07/03/trump-meets-man-who-inspired-2011-terror-attack-deadlier-than-orlando-shooting/

      From the article:

      “In early Spring 2016, Donald Trump appears to have met a man whose 2009 book anticipated most of Donald Trump’s key campaign positions. That man has disseminated over the Internet “extremist information” that inspired an even deadlier massacre than the 2016 Orlando, Florida mass shooting — a meticulously planned 2011 neo-Nazi terrorist attack which killed 77, wounded 319, and shook Europe, an attack intended as a “marketing method” to promote that man’s conspiracy theory concerning an alleged plot behind “political correctness”, said to have been launched nearly a century ago by Jewish Marxists, to destroy America and Western Christian civilization.”

      In the link you can see a picture of Trump with a thumbs up sign and a big cheesy smile standing next to the author and holding his book. This man, the man who will be putting his snatch-grabbing hand on the bible as he assumes power, is a man who is all on board with the ideas and ideals that lead to the killing of children. That you are all in with this is on you, that’s on your head and that’s your problem. That you insult, demean, degrade and dismiss those who are standing up against this, demanding they fall in line is unconscionable.


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