Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 sees U.S. economy rise, Russia returning to Cold War posture

If asked who was the most popular leader in his country, the one whose economy is booming or the one whose economy is collapsing, you might lean to the one whose economy is booming.

In fact, Russian President Vladimir Putin is getting an 80 percent or higher approval rating. U.S. President Barack Obama’s approval rating is at a 20-month high, but not quite 50 percent.

Of course any polls or votes in a dictatorship cannot be taken seriously, but there is no doubt Putin is Russia’s most popular man, for the 16th year in a row.

Nobel Prize Winner Paul Krugman, in a New York Times columnist, compares the U.S. economic recovery to a man hitting himself in the head with a baseball bat and then stopping.

Krugman makes clear the Republican party was wielding the bat. Thus no one should expect them to credit Obama for the highest economic growth level in 11 years.

Americans are painfully aware of the growing disparity in wealth in the country, and therefore there will be few parties held to honor Obama.

Putin has banned government New Year’s eve parties, though he has made sure there will be plenty of vodka. Who wants to kiss a woman using beetroots for lipstick.

Although Obama won a Nobel Peace Prize for abandoning the aggressive status of President George W. Bush, he has been anything but timid.

He has stood up to Putin, persuading allies to impose sanctions that critics said would never work.

Obama also has used drones against widespread condemnation to make it possible to bring U.S. soldiers home.

Hated around the world, miniature drones were popular Christmas gifts.

Although Obama has refused to jump on board the Keystone Pipeline bandwagon, his administration has done nothing to stop the fracking boom that has made the nation the world’s No. 1 producer.

The result has been a world oil glut. It couldn’t have come at a worse time for Putin, which gets two-thirds of its revenue from energy.

Gasoline prices are below $2 a gallon in some states, the lowest in four years. The auto industry, which Obama helped save as a priority of his first year in office, is booming.

The president has had little luck, and no support from the other side of the aisle, in seeking contain climate change or solve the immigration problem.

He could have intervened to slow the legalization of marijuana and same-sex marriage, but has stuck to preelection promises to try force  the views of right-wing fundamentalists on country where church and state are to remain separate. Only isolated pockets of resistance to legal abortions remain.

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