Archive for Obama


“It’s not that complicated”

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“Be confident in your heritage. Be confident in your blackness,” President Obama told student during his commencement address yesterday at Howard University. He reminded students at the historically black college, “One of the great changes that’s occurred in our country since I was your age is the realization there’s no one way to be black. Take it from somebody who’s seen both sides of debate about whether I’m black enough.”

It was an upbeat speech worth listening to in its entirety. Obama urged students foremost to engage politically as their parents and grandparents did. There are enough people working at disenfranchising the most vulnerable without students giving away their power by not voting (emphasis mine):

You have to go through life with more than just passion for change; you need a strategy. I’ll repeat that. I want you to have passion, but you have to have a strategy. Not just awareness, but action. Not just hashtags, but votes.

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Chuck Grassley’s coup

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President Obama took Senate Republicans to school yesterday in a speech at the University of Chicago Law School where he taught constitutional law for a dozen years. He spoke on the intransigence of Senate Republicans in refusing to give a hearing to his Supreme Court nominee, Illinois native Merrick Garland:

“If you start getting into a situation where the process of appointing judges is so broken, so partisan, that an eminently qualified jurist cannot even get a hearing, then we are going to see the kind of sharp partisan polarization that has come to characterize our electoral politics seeping entirely into the judicial system …”

“That erodes the institutional integrity of the judicial branch. At that point, people lose confidence in the ability of the courts to fairly adjudicate cases and controversies. And our democracy cannot afford that …”

Video here.

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Lunatics running the asylum

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CaptureThe sooner America legalizes marijuana and collectively lights one up, the better. At the risk of sounding as if I did at this early hour, let’s look at the some of the lunatics running the asylum.

It is an article of the one, true, conservative faith that government must be run “like a business.” NC Gov. Pat McCrory and the state of North Carolina have a state Supreme Court date in May to settle whether an ALEC-inspired legislature can abscond with a city’s water system and turn it over to a regional authority — the first step, some believe, on the road to privatizing the public water supply’s operation and/or ownership. The experience of Flint, Michigan is sure to come up. So how’d that work out for Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder? A former adviser explains (emphasis mine):

Dennis Schornack, who retired after serving more than three years as a senior adviser on transportation issues to Snyder during his first term, is the first current or former Snyder official to directly criticize the governor and his management style for contributing to the public health crisis.

Schornack said he still believes Snyder is an intelligent leader and “basically a good guy.” But, he said, decisions about Flint’s drinking water should have been dictated by science instead of finances and the bottom line.

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Preemptive rejection? Bucket!

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Does anyone imagine that if a Republican president were residing in the White House, prominent Republicans would insist that he abdicate his responsibility to the next president to appoint a replacement for a Supreme Court justice? But insisting a Democrat must is what passes for a principled stand in today’s Republican Party. One Republican rule set when they hold power; another Republican rule set when Democrats do. They who used to accuse the left of relativism have come to embrace it. Proudly. As Richard Nixon did in saying, “Flexibility is the first principle of politics.”

Steve Benen points out how Republicans responded within minutes of notice of Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death by challenging the very legitimacy of the president’s authority to nominate Scalia’s replacement:

The GOP majority … has embraced a course that corrupts the process with a showdown unlike anything seen in the modern era. The high court vacancy must remain unfilled for at least 11 months, they say, regardless of the consequences, all because of the unbridled disgust Republicans have for President Obama.

Indeed, to further their obviously ridiculous case, GOP senators have even begun making up rules that didn’t exist before the weekend…

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About last night

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Where to begin? In a nice bit of irony, Republican candidates for president were on the bill of a cage match last night at Greenville, South Carolina’s “Peace Center.” It was a good warm-up for the rumble in the Senate when President Obama nominates someone to fill Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. Unless you were under a rock and missed it last night, Scalia died in his sleep Friday night in Texas. The announcement hit in the late afternoon, Eastern time.

Wingnuts had the skinny: Obama had Scalia whacked. (Hillary must have been at a fundraiser.)

Republicans immediately circled the wagons and by debate time insisted it would be inappropriate for the president to continue doing his job and nominate a replacement with a year still left in his presidency. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY):

“The American people? should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice,” he said in a statement. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.”

Shorter McConnell: Elections have consequences except when they have Democrats. The American people who elected Obama in 2008 and 2012 must demur to the all-new, less old-and-white, 2016 American people, signalling that Republicans in the upper chamber will hold their breath until the Senate turns blue.

A real poker player, that McConnell. Did he even watch the debate? Here’s just some of what we learned:

Ronald Reagan tore down the Berlin Wall. [Jeb! Bush]

The Constitution is not a living and breathing document. [Marco Rubio] (A friend observed that the older Talmud is still being interpreted.)

The way to hold Wall Street executives accountable for financial crimes is to eliminate the laws and reduce enforcement. [Ben Carson]

It was intense. Josh Marshall was keeping score:

I find it hard to know quite what to say about this debate. It was chaotic and disordered. Lots of candidates called each other liars. Donald Trump used variations of the actual word numerous times. Our initial count from the rough transcript has Trump saying “single biggest liar” twice, “this guy lied” twice and “why do you lie” no less than three times. Rubes said Cruz “lies” a handful of times. And that was just the start of it. I don’t think there’s ever been a presidential debate where so many of the candidates have called each other liars so many times. At some moments the trash talking and chest-puffing and general drama got so intense I thought this might be a fair approximation of West Side Story if you’d written it about two battling country clubs, the plutocrats versus the plutocrat flunkies.

Donald Trump must have decided the way to score points in an anti-establishment election was to double down on conservative blasphemy. In Greenville, South Carolina, no less, Trump declared that Planned Parenthood actually does “wonderful things having to do with women’s health.” Then he attacked Jeb’s mother and brother:

BUSH: And he has had the gall to go after my brother.

TRUMP: The World Trade Center came down during your brother’s reign, remember that.


BUSH: He has had the gall to go after my mother.

Hold on. Let me finish. He has had the gall to go after my mother.

TRUMP: That’s not keeping us safe.

BUSH: Look, I won the lottery when I was born 63 years ago, looked up, and I saw my mom. My mom is the strongest woman I know.

TRUMP: She should be running.

Ohio Governor John Kasich was gobsmacked, “This is just nuts, OK? Jeez, oh, man. I’m sorry, John.”

That was moderator John Dickerson of CBS News, who at one point threatened bickering candidates that he might have to “turn this car around.”

Candidates pretty much ignored Rubio, except Cruz:

CRUZ: You know, the lines are very, very clear. Marco right now supports citizenship for 12 million people here illegally. I oppose citizenship. Marco stood on the debate stage and said that.

But I would note not only that, Marco has a long record when it comes to amnesty. In the state of Florida, as speaker of the house, he supported in-state tuition for illegal immigrants. In addition to that, Marco went on Univision in Spanish and said he would not rescind President Obama’s illegal executive amnesty on his first day in office.

I have promised to rescind every single illegal executive action, including that one.


CRUZ: And on the question…


RUBIO: Well, first of all, I don’t know how he knows what I said on Univision because he doesn’t speak Spanish. And second of all, the other point that I would make…


In Spanish, Cruz challenged Rubio to debate him in Spanish. Rubio is done.

Looking forward to McConnell blocking a new appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court until he’s proven Republicans are as utterly dysfunctional as their candidates.

Categories : National, Obama, Passing
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Pay equity: Time for a run to the gun store, boys

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President Barack Obama signs into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in the East Room
of the White House. January 29, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Joyce Boghosian)

President Obama yesterday proposed a new rule for employers to make it easier to identify discriminatory pay practices in the workplace:

Women workers in the United States earn 79 cents for every dollar men do. And President Barack Obama doesn’t want you to forget it.

Speaking Friday at a White House event celebrating the 2009 Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, Obama proposed collecting pay data from companies with 100 or more people — and breaking down the numbers by gender, race and ethnicity. About 63 million workers would be covered, according to a news release accompanying his announcement, which aims to “focus public enforcement of our equal pay laws and provide better insight into discriminatory pay practices across industries and occupations.”

The White House also called again for Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, calling it “commonsense legislation that would give women additional tools to fight pay discrimination.”

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“Anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction,” President Obama said last night in his final Sate of the Union Address. He used much of the speech to try to defuse the distrust in basic institutions that is eating at the country’s foundations, and to push back against demagoguery.

I told you earlier all the talk of America’s economic decline is political hot air. Well, so is all the rhetoric you hear about our enemies getting stronger and America getting weaker. The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth. Period. It’s not even close. We spend more on our military than the next eight nations combined. Our troops are the finest fighting force in the history of the world. No nation dares to attack us or our allies because they know that’s the path to ruin. Surveys show our standing around the world is higher than when I was elected to this office, and when it comes to every important international issue, people of the world do not look to Beijing or Moscow to lead – they call us.

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One more time, with feeling

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President Obama makes his final State of the Union address tonight. Word is his speech will be aspirational, not the usual laundry list of policies that make up such speeches. Whether the aspirational speech will be inspirational is another matter. The Washington Post writes that the speech will attempt to address the “fear and anger” driving both candidates and the 2016 electorate:

To that end, the White House has promised a “non-traditional” speech that, in the president’s words, will cut through the “day-to-day noise of Washington” and celebrate the country’s capacity “to come together as one American family.” Instead of a to-do list of policy proposals that have little chance of passing Congress, he has said he plans to deliver a speech that will describe “who we are” as a nation — or perhaps more accurately, whom Obama, in the last year of his presidency, would like us to be.

Coming together as one American family? That is aspirational. Politico had more background:

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Yes, It Has Come To This

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Are you really a minuteman?
Or is that just what your wife tells her friends?

“Fact is that which enough people believe. Truth is determined by how fervently they believe it.” — Charlie Pierce.

President Obama held a town hall last night to talk about his executive action on gun law enforcement. Anderson Cooper asked if perhaps it was conspiracy (to confiscate guns), the one conspiracy theorists never tire of warning us about. Obama called BS on the question:

“There are certainly a lot of people who just have a fundamental distrust that you do not want to go further and further and further,” Cooper countered.

Incredulous, Obama reminded everyone that he’s only going to be in office another year. “When would I have started on this enterprise?,” he asked.

I’ve been waiting for years for Obama’s jackbooted thugs to arrive at my door. I’m just not foolish enough to run out and drop another $500-$1000 dollars I don’t have on another weapon and more ammo whenever after each general election or whenever the NRA’s spokes-salesmen tell me I should.

Categories : Gun Control, Obama
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You sues, you lose

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Republicans lost a major foreign policy fight yesterday when Democrats in the Senate filibustered a resolution to disapprove President Obama’s nuclear treaty with Iran. Over in the Animal House, Speaker John Boehner stood up and declared that the situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part: Frivolous lawsuit!

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) promised Thursday that House Republicans will “use every tool at our disposal to stop, slow and delay this agreement from being fully implemented” up to and including suing President Obama to keep him from enforcing the agreement.

Maybe someone else is keeping better count, but that would make at least three times Boehner has gone to the judicial bench after being humiliated in the Congress. The Washington Post report continues:

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