President Obama

Nothing New Under the Sun

#DimensionTrump | #WhatTheyVotedFor

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 17: U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who is part of a Congressional delegation scheduled for an overseas trip, speaks to members of the media January 17, 2019 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. In a letter to Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), President Donald Trump announced the postponement of the trip to visit U.S. service members in Afghanistan, and a stop in Brussels to meet with NATO officials. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Steve Benen notes—

For what it’s worth, it’s not altogether clear why Trump and his team would find this so upsetting. There’s a limited universe of officials who have the experience, skills, and clearance necessary to work on highly sensitive intelligence matters. The idea of aides having a stint at the National Security Council, before making the transition to the staff at the House Intelligence Committee, isn’t especially odd.United States President Donald Trump reacts to being laughed at during a speech to the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, 25 September 2018. (Image credit: FOX News)Indeed, the inverse happens, too. Kashyap Patel, who helped co-author the unintentionally hilarious “Nunes memo,” recently left his staff job on Capitol Hill to join—you guessed it—the National Security Council.So why is it, exactly, that Schiff’s personnel decisions “enraged” the president and some members of his senior staff? Is there concern inside Trump World about what former aides might say about their impressions of the White House’s work?

—and perhaps it seems strange, but, yes, Hot Fuzz, the Wright/Pegg comedy, comes to mind, and that somehow makes perfect sense. (more…)

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A Note on Civility and Equivocation

#wellduh | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Radical Centrism 101: Detail of cartoon by Matt Lubchansky, via The Nib, 31 May 2017.

In such time as we have to reflect on notions of civility and politic, and observing its coincidence in which we grasp both desperately and often belligerently after comparisons in history, it does occur that sometimes these lines of thought and inquiry merge or intersect or whatever else they might do, and from this nexus arises a question worth considering:

• While rhetoric of conservative backlash often drew puzzlement and even mockery, and centrists, liberals, progressives, and leftists alike have scrambled to remind women, queers, and blacks what happens when we make too much uncivil noise, like winning court cases or wondering who would actually claim a religious right to actively sabotage health care, there is also an iteration of Green Lantern Theory whereby President Obama could reconcile the political factions by simply charming and schmoozing Republicans enough, including that he should never speak common platitudes of empathy because, being a black president, doing so apparently means one is trying to start a race war; and, yes, it seems worth wondering just how much worse the conservative and crossover payback would have been had the nation’s first black president gone on to prosecute war criminals, including the white woman recently minted Director of CIA.

When questions of civility arise, perhaps we ought to consider just how we might answer such demand for civility that torture and white supremacism are not somehow uncivil.

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Image note: Radical Centrism 101 — Detail of cartoon by Matt Lubchansky, via The Nib, 31 May 2017.

Our American President (Bathroom Bigot Brawl)

Obama Administration Warns Schools to Allow Transgender Access To Bathrooms (Huffington Post, 14 May 2016)

It really is a nifty headline from HuffPo’s Queer Voices.

The detail:

The Obama administration on Friday told schools and colleges nationwide they must allow transgender students access to bathrooms consistent with their gender identity.

Transgender signThe Justice Department and the Education Department, in guidance directed at every American public school district, admonished educators to treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity, regardless of what sex is listed on student records.

The guidance, which cites the gender equity law Title IX, further injects the federal government into a heated debate over controversial anti-LGBT state legislation, including a North Carolina law that bars transgender students from bathrooms that don’t match their birth gender. The Justice Department on Monday filed a civil rights lawsuit against North Carolina.

“No student should ever have to go through the experience of feeling unwelcome at school or on a college campus,” Education Secretary John King Jr. said in a statement.

(Kingkade)

Meanwhile, apparently something goes here about Disney freaking out zealots, and, you know, it must absolutely suck to be a bigot these days. To swallow their prude pride and just carry on with life is a bitter load to face. Still, there are times when it is worth pointing out that some people spend too much effort worrying about other people’s intimate lives; and then there are such occasions we might point out that some people spend too much effort paying attention to Disney. What sort of cruel God―? Oh, sorry, wrong monologue.

Anyway, Disney aside, everyone say thank you.

Thank you, President Obama. Thank you, Secretary King.

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Kingkade, Tyler. “Obama Administration Warns Schools To Allow Transgender Access To Bathrooms”. The Huffington Post. 13 May 2016.

Sieczkowski, Cavan. “Religious Right Is Losing Its Mind About ‘Frozen’s’ Elsa Possibly Being Gay”. The Huffington Post. 12 May 2016.

The Donald Trump Show (Pipe Bombs and Pussies)

Donald Trump speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference [CPAC], 6 March 2014, at National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

This is an important rule:

• It is not always fair to blame a politician for the actions of supporters.

And this is the flip side:

• Sometimes it is exactly fair to blame a politician for actions of supporters.

But there is also this:

• This is the quality of mind that supports Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy.

Or, as Ryan J. Reilly explained yesterday for Huffington Post:

A fanatical Donald Trump supporter, who was arrested by the FBI in Oregon this week after repeatedly threatening to kill President Barack Obama and federal agents, had multiple pipe bombs in his home, authorities alleged in court on Friday.

In one Jan. 31 Facebook post cited by the FBI, [John Martin] Roos referred to agents as “pussies” and wrote he would “snipe them with hunting rifles everywhere.” (Despite his threats to kill members of law enforcement, he also complained on Facebook earlier this month about the “liberal media … slamming police.”) In a post in November that was also cited by the FBI, Roos spoke out against accepting refugees and threatened to kill Obama.

John Martin Roos in detail of undated photo via Facebook.“Obama you goat fffing fudgepacker, the refugees are men of fighting age. Black lives matter! Sure we need someone to pick cotton and wash cars. Paris, burn diseased muslim neighborhoods to the ground and start over with human beings. Obama you are on a hit list,” he wrote in a post that appears to have been removed.

Beyond what was mentioned in the affidavit, Roos regularly posted on both Facebook and Twitter about his support for Trump and his hatred for Obama, who he called a “muslim faggot” and other derogatory terms. He indicated he wanted to kill Obama’s family and made other racist and sexist statements about Michelle Obama. He also made negative references to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, singer Beyonce, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly and reporter Michelle Fields, and said he believed that the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was killed by Obama. He praised Ann Coulter and Stacey Dash, and posted several links to posts on Breitbart.com.

(more…)

President Obama on Net Neutrality

President Barack Obama answers a question during a town hall at Cross Campus in Santa Monica, Calif. October 9, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Excerpted from the White House transcript of President Obama’s remarks at Cross Campus, in Los Angeles, 9 October 2014:

On net neutrality, I made a commitment very early on that I am unequivocally committed to net neutrality. I think that it is what has — (applause) — I think it’s what has unleashed the power of the Internet, and we don’t want to lose that or clog up the pipes.

And so there are a lot of aspects to net neutrality. I know one of the things that people are most concerned about is paid prioritization, the notion that somehow some folks can pay a little more money and get better service, more exclusive access to customers through the Internet. That’s something I’m opposed. I was opposed to it when I ran. I continue to be opposed to it now.

Now, the FCC is an independent agency. They came out with some preliminary rules that I think the Netroots and a lot of folks in favor of net neutrality were concerned with. My appointee, Tom Wheeler, knows my position. I can’t — now that he’s there, I can’t just call him up and tell him exactly what to do. But what I’ve been clear about, what the White House has been clear about is, is that we expect whatever final rules to emerge to make sure that we’re not creating two or three or four tiers of Internet. That ends up being a big priority of mine.

A Different Disgrace Out of Mississippi

The Great Seal of the State of Mississippi

“It’s as if you gave me a car, I took off the wheels and refused to put gas in the tank, and then blamed you when the car doesn’t go anywhere. In this case, Bryant is blocking the law’s full implementation and whining that the law isn’t working effectively. Under the circumstances, shouldn’t the governor be bragging? He is, after all, getting the results he set out to achieve.”

Steve Benen

There is not, really, anything to add, except perhaps to remind for those inclined toward disbelief that this is, after all, Missouri, where they have a nasty tendency toward self-destructive blatancy such as skipping the pretense about patient health and crowing that they are trying to violate the constitution, or explaining the need for the return of coat-hanger abortions.

It’s an interesting trick, isn’t it? Bryant has done as much as he can to sabotage the ACA in Mississippi, and by standing in the way of Medicaid expansion, among other things, the governor has largely succeeded in hurting his state on purpose. As “Obamacare” sharply reduces the uninsured rate elsewhere, Mississippi is being left behind, by its governor’s design.

And so he’s blaming the White House.

In other words, no matter how stupid Gov. Phil Bryant might sound in trying to blame his successes on the president in order to denounce Obama for their damaging effects, it is, after all, Mississippi. When conservatives remind you of “Middle America” and “family values”, these are the “values” they are invoking.

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Benen, Steve. “Chutzpah Watch, Mississippi edition”. msnbc. 29 July 2014.

—————. “Mississippi lawmaker: Coat hanger abortions might come back. ‘But hey …'”. msnbc. 6 September 2013.

The Temptation of Saint Ronald Magnus

To the one, it’s hard to figure how Republicans could be any more disrespectful to a dead president. To the other, they’re Republicans. Steve Benen of msnbc explains:

Saint Ronald MagnusThis over-the-top Reagan worship isn’t just wrong; it’s ironic. In 1983, some of the prominent conservative media voices of the day actually complained bitterly that Reagan’s response was wholly inadequate.

George Will – yes, that George Will – called the Reagan White House’s arguments “pathetic” at the time, insisting, “It’s time for [Reagan] to act.”

The president responded publicly with rhetoric that made the president sound rather helpless. “Short of going to war, what would they have us do?” Reagan said. “I know that some of our critics have sounded off that somehow we haven’t exacted enough vengeance. Well, vengeance isn’t the name of the game in this.”

You know, just something to keep in mind as you hear our conservative neighbors regaling the myths of Saint Ronald Magnus when history just isn’t good enough.

I mean, the guy’s dead. Come on. Then again, there really isn’t any guarantee that the late president would have had any clue what people were droning on about. Still, though, lying about a dead man? I suppose that’s something to remember, as well, when conservatives preach about “values”.

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Benen, Steve. “Sometimes, ‘What Would Reagan Do?’ is the wrong question”. msnbc. July 21, 2014.

The Problem With Maureen Dowd

While the situation regarding New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and the George Washington Bridge raises a host of questions, one might reasonably wonder at the processes by which we might ask, with a straight face, if this can be blamed on President Obama. Or, as Maureen Dowd would have it:

Maureen DowdThe governor was a beneficiary of America’s desperate hunger for genuine leadership. You can blame Obama for the Christie tulip craze. The president has been so wan, he confused people into thinking that bluster was clarity. In a climate with no leadership, the bully looks like a man. If you’ve only been drinking water, Red Bull tastes like whiskey.

Obama’s ethereal insipidity made Christie’s meaty pugilism attractive; Obama’s insistence on the cerebral made voters long for the visceral, even the gracelessly visceral.

George W. Bush was the Decider who engaged in thoughtless action. So America veered toward Obama, who engaged in thoughtful inaction. Then they careered toward Christie, another practitioner of thoughtless action.

When all you have is leading from behind, there’s a place in your heart for in-your-face.

Wait, what? Really?

No, really?

(more…)