PoTUS

What They Voted For: The Laughingstock

#AmericanPrestige | #WhatTheyVotedFor

President-elect Donald Trump delivers his first official news conference since winning the November election, 11 January 2017 in New York City. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Because the first part of the making something great again is wrecking it so that it needs to be recovered:

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran, reads a copy of 'Fire and Fury', by Michael Wolff, at the Tehran Book Fair, 11 May 2018. (via Instagram)On Friday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was pictured in a post on his Instagram feed at the Tehran Book Fair.

Nothing unusual there, but in one image he was seen reading a Persian-language edition of Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury. The subject of which, of course, is the chaos inside Mr Trump’s White House.

When the book was released in January, it was described as a “bombshell” by commentators as it raised doubts over Mr Trump’s mental health.

It claimed Mr Trump said he pursued his friends’ wives, that his daughter Ivanka would mock him, and that the US president would eat cheeseburgers in bed.

(BBC)

This is, of course, only days after President Hassan Rouhani responded to President Trump’s dereliction of a nuclear treaty by “conferring with the world’s two super powers, Russia and China”.

Yes, this demolition of American prestige is precisely what Republicans voted for. They cannot prove to us that government doesn’t work unless they break everything; they cannot make the nation great “again” if they do not lay it low. And, yes, in their own way, a game show host and flaccid farce, an obvious subject for Ayatollah Khamenei to scorch with such easy, demonstrative, blistering critique, is precisely what Trump supporters voted for.

This is actually part of their supremacism: It is easier to foster a world war if supporters feel insulted by the designated enemy; Trump seems to think Iranians are as simplistic as his followers, so he makes it easy for the Ayatollah to zing the President of the United States because he knows the magagaga are, themselves, easy marks.

They did elect him, after all.

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Image note: Top — President-elect Donald Trump delivers his first official news conference after winning the November election, 11 January 2017 in New York City. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)  Right — Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran, reads a copy of Fire and Fury, by Michael Wolff, at the Tehran Book Fair, 11 May 2018. (via Instagram)

British Broadcasting Corporation. “Is Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei trolling Trump?” BBC News. 11 May 2018.

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A Note on Legacy

President Obama speaks at the Greater Boston Labor Council Labor Day Breakfast on Sept. 7. (Andrew Harnik/Associated Press)

“Watching him now is a useful reminder that there is no such thing as the ‘twilight’ of a presidency. Until the day his successor takes office, Obama will be the leading actor on the biggest and most important stage in the world.”

Eugene Robinson

When we perceive a presidency as dismal, it is easy enough to wonder what could have gone better. Still, though, it is easy enough to wonder if perhaps the historical discussion, and probably not so far off in the future, will pause amid its reflections on one of the more affecting and effective presidencies in American history to wonder what more President Obama could have achieved.

That answer might as well be wishing on stars. But as Eugene Robinson reminds, these premature death notices of a lame duck twilight zombie administration really do remind of the soft bigotry of low expectations. Barack Obama is no George W. Bush, and but for a press accustomed to thoughtless milling and recycling, we might have no cause to remind.

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Image note: President Obama speaks at the Greater Boston Labor Council Labor Day Breakfast on Sept. 7. (Andrew Harnik/Associated Press)

Robinson, Eugene. “Obama has plenty of reasons to smile”. The Washington Post. 7 September 2015.

Another Bit, When Every Little Bit Counts

President Barack Obama.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Transgender signThe Obama administration is making a major push for transgender rights by prohibiting health insurance companies and medical providers from discriminating against patients because of their gender identities.

Under a proposed regulation issued by the Department of Health and Human Services Thursday, transgender people would be entitled to equal treatment in health care and would gain the legal right to make civil rights claims against insurers, doctors, hospitals and others who deny them coverage or necessary care because they are transgender. That includes forbidding health insurers from categorically excluding treatments related to gender transitions.

(Young)

Just remember, everybody, this is all going to come crashing down at some point; while the right wing continues to froth and fight over marriage equality, President Obama is quietly using what tools he can to advance transgender rights and recognition in society. Republicans will eventually notice, and they will eventually start pitching a fit.

And … you know … be ready. Because, you know, they will be vicious.

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Young, Jeffrey. “New Rules Bar Transgender Discrimination In Health Care”. The Huffington Post. 3 September 2015.

Oklahoma Rising

The crowd gathered in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Wednesday, 15 July 2015, hoping to glimpse President Obama as he arrived at his hotel, included protesters waving Confederate flags.  (Photo: Getty Images)

This is getting out of hand.

One way to tell the situation is out of hand is that Republican Congressmen Tom Cole (R-4) and Frank Lucas (R-3) are willing to make a stand:

Two Oklahoma Republican congressmen ripped protesters in their state who greeted President Obama in Oklahoma City by waving Confederate flags, calling their actions “disrespectful,” “embarrassing” and “inappropriate.”

“I was shocked and disappointed by those who showed up to wave Confederate flags soon after President Obama arrived in Oklahoma,” Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole, a senior House Republican, said in a statement to The Hill. “Their actions were not only disappointing but incredibly disrespectful, insensitive and embarrassing to the entire state.

“The unacceptable behavior displayed by these individuals certainly does not reflect the values and views of the vast majority of Oklahomans,” Cole added. “No president should ever be confronted by such behavior, especially when the purpose of the visit was meant to celebrate and recognize some of our state’s greatest achievements.”

Rep. Frank Lucas, another Oklahoma Republican who is close to leadership, said in an interview: “Free speech is an amazing thing. Unfortunately this was an inappropriate use of it.”

Obama traveled to Oklahoma to visit a federal prison, part of his push to overhaul the criminal justice system. He also rolled out a new pilot program aimed at bringing high-speed internet to low-income households.

But when he arrived at his hotel in Oklahoma City Wednesday night, about 10 protesters in the crowd greeted him by waving the Confederate flag. Before Obama’s visit, protesters gathered along an interstate highway near Durant, Oklahoma, and flew the battle flag.

It is easy enough to suggest Messrs. Cole and Lucas have every reason to “move past the flag flap”, as Scott Wong explained for The Hill. After all, the Civil War ended in 1865; Oklahoma was not a state until 1907, nor even a Territory until 1890. Which in turn leads to the strange point that the Confederate flag actually flew over the Capitol grounds in Oklahoma city for over twenty years, until a 1988 renovation of the state house. And while that might make it harder for Gov. Mary Fallin (R) to blame Texas―

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican who greeted Obama on the airport tarmac, attempted to distance the Sooner State from the flag-waving protesters. Her spokesman suggested many of them drove over the stateline from Texas.

―denouncing this particular demonstration is an easy call for Republicans, and has the added benefit of actually being the right thing to do.

Then again, blaming the protest in Oklahoma City on Texas? This is another sign that the situation is out of hand, and has the added benefit of actually being really, really funny.

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Image note: The crowd gathered in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Wednesday, 15 July 2015, hoping to glimpse President Obama as he arrived at his hotel, included protesters waving Confederate flags. (Photo: Getty Images)

Wong, Scott. “Republicans criticize Confederate flags at Obama visit”. The Hill.

A Quote: Why Details Matter

USCapitol-bw

For all the talk about Democrats running away from President Obama, there are a surprising number of examples of Republicans running away from their own policy agenda.

Steve Benen

It is a valid point, and one worth considering.

Because, you know, details matter. Congressional Republicans complain every time President Obama agrees with them. They scream about Nazis if Democrats actually accept a GOP policy proposal. They beat their chests and say what the president should do about war and peace, and then complain when he does it. They decide the president should handle things according to executive authority, and then threaten to sue the president for using his executive authority.

And then there is the fun part where politicians like Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO4) try to run away from their own policy history.

It is simply a matter of narrative. And it is also why details matter. To wit, if someone who has been arguing against you suddenly flips and says he’s your best choice because he’s on your side and the person who has observably been on your side isn’t, perhaps that would be a time when details matter.

Fool you once? Can’t get fooled again? Right. Details matter.

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Benen, Steve. “Republicans keep blasting Dems for being too conservative”. msnbc. 3 November 2014.

Armchair Political Theatre

The House has hired a new lawyer to prosecute its lawsuit against President Obama after previous counsel bowed out, citing political pressure, the House Administration Committee confirmed on Friday (David M. Drucker, 19 September 2014)

The question does arise at some point whether anybody but the wonks and politigeeks are paying attention. And a notion does mutter and creep about insinuating all manner of analogy ‘twixt political talk radio and sports radio. But setting aside the elderly woman who once railed against local sports radio hosts because laughing at the idea of stock car racing—Go fast! Turn left!—was somehow akin to “what happened to the ‘Coloreds'”, there is a different sort of comparison. That is to say, one might have far more associates who listen to sports radio without ever calling in, but discuss various issues with enthusiasm and detail verging on the excruciating. They might not be calling in to compare NASCAR to the Civil Rights movement, but they will talk their favorite teams and leagues as if the soul of the world depends on whether or not this or that trade makes sense, or the subtleties of whether this power-hitting manager knows how to handle his pitchers.

Try it this way: Once you move beyond that majority portion of the audience who just, say, learned Roger Goodell’s name this month, or found that American pro sports leagues have ‘commissioners’, you might find some who are willing to give you an in-depth analysis of, for instance, how David Stern screwed Seattle twice, or what the NBA commissioner has to do with the politics of getting an NHL franchise in the Emerald City.

Imagine if people paid that kind of attention to public affairs. No slam dunks, merely metaphorical five-holes, and considerably less domestic violence; public affairs just aren’t sexy … well, unless there’s a sex scandal going on.

But to the armchair wonks, David M. Drucker’s lede for the Washington Examiner last Friday is hilarious:

The House has hired a new lawyer to prosecute its lawsuit against President Obama after previous counsel bowed out, citing political pressure, the House Administration Committee confirmed on Friday.

It is, to a degree, jaw-dropping news. Then again, the drooling astonishment is really more of a cumulative effect.

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