Posts tagged ‘obama’

05/17/2013

Breitbart.com editors either cannot read, or their intentions are clearly to willfully deceive. As with Benghazi, this hurts them terribly.

My cousin shared this article from Breitbart with me. It’s about the IRS scandal and how the IRS targeted Tea Party or other “conservative” groups for extra questioning and “intimidation.” From the way it looks, this could be a legitimate scandal for Obama’s administration, and it’s going to have legs according to Rachel Maddow. I’ve personally noticed over the last week that all of a sudden, many GOP and conservative websites had been doing some really good reporting on this. They cite legitimate sources, they use media reports (without all of a sudden talking about how the media is terrible), and they stick to the facts. Honestly, I really started to believe Obama and his administration could be in some serious trouble. If the right wing media doesn’t have to make stuff up to make you look like a criminal, you probably did something wrong.

This is the IRS I grew up with.

But then I read the Breitbart piece my cousin shared. Now, it claims that the New York Times (iknowritetehgraylady!!!!) basically attacks the Obama administration. According to Breitbart, the NYT “in no uncertain terms and with no hedging…reports that the Obama administration was aware of the fact that the IRS was targeting Tea Party groups as far back as June of 2012.” That’s a pretty heavy claim, and knowing the Times as well as I do (I’ll admit that they’re unquestionably liberal and they soft-pedal anything that hurts liberals or progressives when they can get away with it), I was surprised to hear that the Times would go all in against the administration like that. So, I kept reading. In the Breitbart piece (linked above), they say that the Times reported this:

The Treasury Department’s inspector general told senior Treasury officials in June 2012 he was investigating the Internal Revenue Service’s screening of politically active organizations seeking tax exemptions, disclosing for the first time on Friday that Obama administration officials were aware of the matter during the presidential campaign year.

Now, they either misquoted the Times or the Times changed the article (from the looks of my own google searching, the Times may have changed it), but basically, that’s what the Times reported. Basically. Here’s the paragraph they cited and how it reads now.

The inspector general gave Republicans some fodder Friday when he divulged that he informed the Treasury’s general counsel he was auditing the I.R.S.’s screening of politically active groups seeking tax exemptions on June 4, 2012. He told Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin “shortly after,” he said. That meant Obama administration officials were aware of the matter during the presidential campaign year.

Two problems here with Breitbart’s reporting. One, the paragraph on nytimes.com as of this writing, and even the paragraph Breitbart provides, does not report that the IRS was targeting Tea Party or conservative groups. It says “politically active groups,” which could be anyone from the Tea Party to Planned Parenthood. Claiming that the NYT declared in “no uncertain terms” that the administration knew about the IRS targeting the Tea Party is factually inaccurate, and I all I had to do was read the paragraph they used as evidence.

The second problem here is, let’s say I grant that the administration WAS aware of an investigation into the IRS’s conduct vis a vis Tea Party groups: what does that mean exactly? So the admin was aware of an investigation. If the administration tried to STOP that investigation, then you have a scandal, and a potentially massive one, I would say. But, if someone tells you, “Hey, we’re investigating this thing,” and your response is, “Okay cool. Let me know how it goes,” that’s about as scandalous as a baby farting in church. From the same NYT article Breitbart cited, “Treasury officials stressed they did not know the results until March 2013, when the inspector presented a draft.” So, until two months ago, no one could have known anything about the RESULTS of the investigation—only that an investigation was taking place.

This is a scandal?

SHOPT

This is precisely why, especially with Benghazi, most Americans aren’t responding to GOP and conservative efforts to attack Obama. Obama’s faithful opposition has been trying to destroy him since 2007 (and you could probably say 2004, after he gave his DNC speech) when he first declared his candidacy for president. Ever since then, they’ve thrown everything they possibly can at the guy: where’s the birth certificate, release your college records, Reverend Wright, Bill Ayers, Benghazi, Fast and Furious, Solyndra, he’s a secret Muslim, he’s an atheist, black liberation theology, he’s un-American. None of that has stuck. Obama weathered through it all, and he was able to do so mostly because all of that is either a. complete bullshit or b. the GOP and conservatives overplayed their hands before they had all the information. The Fast and Furious scandal should be have been way bigger news. But, when there have been impeachment talks since about a month after Obama was elected (Maddow NAILS IT here), any real opposition tends to be lumped into the existing nonsense opposition. The incessant outrage and indignance from Obama’s detractors gets dull. People start tuning out. It loses its force.

It’s the boy who cried wolf.

Just like now. The GOP just got dealt a KILLER hand. This IRS scandal is a real problem. It’s a potential game-changer for them in their never ending quest to destroy Obama. And what do they do with it? Rather than sticking to the clearly reported facts, they start to make shit up. Over the last three or four days, I’ve been following this story, and everything the right wing media was claiming seemed legitimate.  And then I read this article from Breitbart, and my eyes roll back into my skull in horror and disgust at the incompetence or dishonesty of it all.

Plain and simple: the New York Times did not say that the Obama adminstration knew of this “scandal” before the election. They knew of an investigation. Investigations ≠ scandals.

I’m not saying the Obama administration isn’t to blame for this: I’d love to see a full investigation into what happened and who knew what. And if there’s any evidence that this is in any way linked to the Obama administration, or if there’s in any way any evidence which shows that Obama or his administration tried to OBSTRUCT the investigation, then well shit. The GOP finally has themselves a legitimate, undeniable Obama scandal. The GOP and conservatives would do very well by themselves to sit back, shut up, let the facts come out, then attack. This could be what they’ve been waiting for since 2007.

But instead, we get Breitbart’s editors either proving themselves illiterate or revealing themselves as dishonest pageview whores. Keep up the good work, conservatives. Watching you shoot yourselves in the foot, pat each other on the back, and blame Obama for your self-inflicted wounds will continue to be entertaining, even if they’re infuriating at the same time.

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06/15/2012

Obama Interrupted by Conservative Blogger During Immigration Speech.

Watch as the president, for the second time in his term in office, is interrupted in the middle of giving a speech like no other president has ever been interrupted before.

Joe Wilson, who has the self control of a small child.

First it was Joe Wilson (R-SC) who screamed, “YOU LIE!” at Obama during Obama’s State of the Union address. That had never happened in the recorded history of this country. And, it wasn’t like those “Code Pink” idiots  who interrupt Republican politicians during speeches. Let me repeat: Code Pink are a bunch of assholes for the way they go about getting their message into the media. Those are extreme activists. They’re a part of a vast, unsupported minority.

But, when Obama was interrupted during his SotU, that was a sitting member of the United States House of Representatives screaming at the president. It wasn’t some fringe group. It was an officially elected member of the Republican establishment. Sure, he apologized afterwards, but then he went and raised money off of what he did. He raised money off of his disrespect for the president. That’s how sorry he really was.

And now, a few years later, we have another first. Another time the president is interrupted in the middle of a speech. This time, it wasn’t a member of Congress, but it also wasn’t a member of Code Pink or the Tea Party or PETA. It was a “professional reporter” for the hyper-conservative blog “The Daily Caller.” His name is Neil Munro, and he is a professional member of the conservative media. He gets paid to report things that conservatives want to be told. He was given a pass to have the ability to cover the president’s speech, and he used that privilege to disrespect the president by interrupting him mid-speech, just like Joe Wilson did.

(While I was writing this, Munro and the Daily Caller published a reaction to this mess. My updated reaction is on the bottom.)

Neil Munro, who is as professional as a waiter sneezing into your dinner. Photo outright stolen from NPR.

Whether or not Wilson or Munro are factually correct in their assertions is irrelevant. They may be, but as a politician and a media member respectively, they have to know that the way to disagree is not to be disrespectful. But they seemingly don’t think this president is deserving of the same kind of respect the last 43 presidents have received (I wonder what’s different about this one…?) This is pure disrespect, and it’s not coming from extremist groups who hold up signs at rallies of less than a hundred people. It’s not coming from idiots on Twitter who aren’t educated or civilized enough to form a coherent thought.* It’s coming directly from the conservative establishment. It’s coming directly from the people who are professional representatives of conservatism.

And conservatives have the gall to claim that it is the president who is dividing the country? It’s the elected representatives and the paid professionals of the “right” who are setting the example for inappropriate and disrespectful behavior.

Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and Mark Levin do nothing but trash the president all day on their radio shows. And you know what? That’s fine. That’s fair game. But, it also sets the stage for these kinds of outbursts which have heretofore not been seen in American politics. One side of the argument is dragging the American media and politics further into the gutter, and it’s people like Joe Wilson and Neil Munro.

They’re a disgrace to America.

*And so is Michelle Malkin’s “Twitchy” page…

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Update: Munro and the Daily Caller have published their reaction, and needless to say, it’s laughable. From Munro: ““I always go to the White House prepared with questions for our president. I timed the question believing the president was closing his remarks, because naturally I have no intention of interrupting the President of the United States.”

Watch that video again. There is no way you think Obama is finished, especially given the way Obama speaks. He constantly pauses for effect (and likely to gather his thoughts). And even if he did think Obama was finished, Munro interrupted consistently afterwards. It wasn’t a one time, “Oops, thought you were done. Sorry,” kind of interaction. It was a repeated interruption, so much so that Obama had to remind Munro once that it wasn’t time for questions, and then AGAIN that it wasn’t time for an argument in the middle of the president’s speech. To say he had no intention of interrupting the president is laughable, to say the least.

Then there’s Tucker Carlson’s point about Sam Donaldson and Ronald Reagan. Watch the difference here.

Tucker Carlson, muppet.

Reagan was CLEARLY done. How do we know? Because he said he was going to let someone else (AG Meese) take the podium. That’s what people do when they’ve finished with their remarks. Compare that to Obama, who had simply paused for a moment. For Carlson to even attempt to create an equivalency here is preposterous. Rather than own their mistake and apologize, they’ll double down on it. Why? Because the conservative media has created such a toxic atmosphere for this president that they know they’ll be able to make more money out of insulting him than being respectful. And insulting him to his face? Even better. Pretty soon, just like Joe Wilson, they’ll be selling t-shirts and raising cash. Just pathetic.

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04/27/2012

A post for those complaining about Obama’s “official trips.”

From 2004:
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush is using Air Force One for re-election travel more heavily than any predecessor, wringing maximum political mileage from a perk of office paid for by taxpayers.

While Democratic rival John Kerry digs into his campaign bank account to charter a plane to roam the country, Bush often travels at no cost to his campaign simply by declaring a trip “official” travel rather than “political.”

The 68,000 miles Bush has logged this year on Air Force One include five trips to Pennsylvania.

With rare exceptions, he confines his travels to the more than a dozen states he and Kerry are fighting hardest for, and to places where he is raising campaign money.

Even when the White House deems a trip as political, the cost to Bush’s campaign is minimal. In such instances, the campaign must only pay the government the equivalent of a comparable first-class fare for each political traveler on each leg, Federal Election Commission guidelines say.

Usually, that means paying a few hundred or a few thousand dollars for the president and a handful of aides. It’s a minuscule sum, compared to the $56,800-per-hour the Air Force estimates it costs to run Air Force One.

It is an advantage that Bush and other presidents before him have enjoyed. President Clinton frequently was criticized by Republicans for his record-setting use of Air Force One in the campaign season, and Bush is exceeding Clinton’s pace…

Is it wrong for presidents to do this? Yeah, I think it is. I think it’s a waste of taxpayer money, and I think Obama is wrong for doing it. Just because previous presidents have abused this power doesn’t mean Obama should.

But let’s not make this out to be something that only Obama has done. There’s a time-honored tradition of presidents wasting the taxpayer’s money in this way—Obama is just continuing it.

USATODAY.com – Bush enjoys travel advantage on taxpayer-financed Air Force One.

Mediaite.com – Juan Williams: Obama’s Official Trips To Battleground States ‘Looks Purely Political’

04/09/2012

Why white people need to stop complaining about George Zimmerman being described as white.

I received the following response to my post about Phil Taylor’s take on the Miami Heat and Trayvon Martin. I started to respond, but when I got to over 700 words, I figured I should make a post for it on its own.

Nice article by Taylor but I noticed he described the person that did the shooting as “caucasian and latino descent”. That is so typical. If the shooter had developed the cure for cancer he would have been described as being of “latino descent” and nothing else but since he was involved in shooting an African American they mentioned the “caucasian” part. How often is our President described as “caucasian and african american descent”. – Matt, commenter

I’m not entirely certain what the point you’re trying to make is, but I’ve narrowed it down to two possibilities. One, you’re trying to talk about how stupid it is to refer to people by their race in the first place. Two, you’re upset about how white people are being treated unfairly when it comes to their race. One of these points is good, and the other is insignificant at best and insulting at worst.  I’ll respond to both, just in case.

To your first potential point, yes. It is awfully stupid to bring up race at all. It doesn’t matter in objective space, but the world is not objective. If there were no racists, then there would never be a need to bring it up. The problem is that there are still racists, and from what I can tell, their number is significant.

Zimmerman, the caucasian hispanic white latino dude. Or something like that.

Ultimately, you’re right. The president isn’t black. He’s mixed, and I certainly think of him that way. But, in this country, there has been a long history of institutionalizing the idea that people can be racially “impure.” If a person had seven great grandparents who were white, if the final one was black, that person could be made a slave in the 1830’s (look up the term octoroon). If that same person lived in the 1930’s and had the appearance of a black person, he or she would have had to drink from a different water fountain. So, for centuries, referring to mixed race peoples as non-white, not white, or something OTHER than white was built into this country’s culture by racist white people. They disowned the racially impure, putting people of mixed race into a weird kind of identity limbo. Barack Obama could have been a slave, and he wouldn’t have been in class with my grandparents. So, the cultural practice of disowning the whiteness of mixed people was created by racist white people in the first place. And, since whites in this country set up that kind of cultural norm, and since whites have set and continue to set the norms for America, it became accepted by just about everyone.

Does everyone know what races mixed in order to produce Tiger Woods? Nope. Does everyone know he's "not white"? Yup.

Now that we’re less openly racist and hostile to minorities, it seems silly for whites to not embrace biracial or multi-racial people into their own race. Tiger Woods isn’t black, he’s a bunch of different races. Derek Jeter isn’t black. He’s both black and white. But, biracial or multi-racial people in this country have been treated as “not white” for decades past and still today in the present. If they’ve been told that they are “not white” for that long, how will they racially self-identify? When that biracial person was just a random guy on the street, he was black. When a biracial person was riding a bus, she had to be in the back. When a biracial person wanted to drink at a fountain, she had to use the one that said “colored.” When a biracial person wanted to date a white person, most parents in the 50’s definitely weren’t saying, “Oh, that’s not a problem he’s half-black.” My parents didn’t tell me (as a white kid) that it wasn’t okay to date black girls, but biracial girls were fine. The racist paradigm in this culture was quite clear: you’re only white if you’re “purely” white. There are white people, and everyone else is a minority.

So, when a biracial person contributes positively (as in Obama or other biracial people), and white people try to claim half of him or her, you can bet that minorities aren’t exactly thrilled. They’re insulted, and they should be. All this time being biracial has meant “not white,” and now that this biracial person is a success, he or she gets welcomed into whitedom? Before their success they were anonymous and a minority, but now they’re part of the family? It’s like white people trying to say the only reason the biracial person (who was previously just a black dude) succeeded was because of the whiteness in him. That may not be what the white people are trying to say, but that’s certainly the way it comes out.

This all seems rather stupid, right? It should be simpler than this. But it’s not. It’s as complicated as the context it is in. Race is a weird thing in this country, and it’s great when people are willing to speak honestly and openly about it without jumping behind the “HEY THAT OFFENDS ME” rhetoric. We’re not going to get past this racist nonsense unless we talk about it seriously, and that’s why I think you’re making a good point if you’re trying to point out that this whole “race” thing is just stupid on its face. It shouldn’t matter if someone is 1/8th or 7/8ths black, or 1/2th white and 1/2 latino. It’s all objectively irrelevant.

But, the same reason you’re right in the first scenario is the same reason you’re wrong if you meant something different. Considering that white people created, fostered, nurtured, and (at least in small part) went to war with each other to protect the exact kind of racism and racial social norms that you’re condemning, you’re making a rather insignificant and feckless point.

White people were never treated this way just because of the color of their skin.

The racial inequality you’re complaining about was put into place by white people. People who are half latino and half white identify themselves as “latino” because for the last four hundred years of this country’s history, white people have been telling these biracial folks that they aren’t white. They’re something else. So, when they succeed (cure cancer, as you suggest), if they self-identify as latino and not white, I totally get that. And you should, too. It’s the system white people have created.

Now can this at times backfire against white people, as in this case where white people don’t want Zimmerman associated with them? Sure. Is it fair to white people? Not really. Should we stop it with this racist nonsense because it only divides America instead of unifying it? Absolutely. But suggesting that white people are equally, with all other races, the victims of racism in this country is just ridiculous. The only people who make that argument, from what I can tell, are just racist white people cloaking their racism under the term “reverse-racism.” Of course racism against whites exists. It would be stupid to deny that, and it’s not something we should ignore. But, complaints about it aren’t very compelling considering the inordinate racism against blacks and other minorities that still exists today. Complaining about racism against white people is like complaining about a paper cut on your finger when the guy next to you just had his arm blown off. There’s no equivalence, and you look rather silly to a doctor.

So yeah, if that was the point you were trying to make, you’ve got a lot of work still ahead of you.

In the case of Phil Taylor’s piece, though, and thinking about the journalistic aspect of it, Zimmerman was originally referred to in police reports as white. That meant that initial media reports were that he was white, and white only. Once it became clear that this was not the case, it’s good journalism to be as clear as possible when discussing Zimmerman’s race. Taylor couldn’t have just said he was “latino” because technically that’s just not true, and there’s already confusion about it since the police made an error in their preliminary reports. So, considering the general confusion that already surrounded the situation, setting the record straight and being as accurate as possible is necessary—especially considering how people are so sensitive to the issue of race, as evidenced by you yourself.

Thanks for reading, Matt! Hope to see you back here!

-Keane.

04/03/2012

Rich Lowry says what we all know about conservative media.

In Howard Kurtz’s April 2nd piece (worth a read) about how the conservative media is having a difficult time warming up to Mitt Romney, Rich Lowry (editor of conservative magazine National Review) made a statement I found to be refreshingly honest about the way they view the Obama presidency. Lowry said:

“There’s no question it would be better for everyone’s place in the marketplace to have another Obama term.”

Rich Lowry.

And that’s it. That’s the strength of the conservative media: they’re capitalizing on, and making their money by, trashing a president millions of Americans found repulsive from the day he entered national politics. The job of any media organization is to secure a place for itself in the marketplace. Putting forth ideas and principles is one thing, but the main objective of these media organizations is to make a profit. There are many ways to do that, but Lowry hits on something important here: he would make more money with a second Obama term than he would if Romney (or Santorum [Ha!]) wins.

Why is that?

This is an example of terrorism, apparently.

There is a strain of people in American society who so hate this president that they will devour anything negative said about him. They hate him not for his policies, but simply because of who (or to them, what) he is. Sure, now many of the people who hate Obama point to his “failed policies” or his attack on their freedom or his “Chicago style politics” or other such nonsensical talking points, but this anti-Obama hatred pre-dated his presidency. The irrational hate always existed. He’s a Muslim, he wasn’t born here, he “pals around with terrorists,” he has a radical pastor, he’s a communist, he reads from a teleprompter, Barack HUSSEIN Obama, or the most remarkable and straightforward one: the terrorist fist jab. Whatever the impetus behind that irrationality was, it’s myriad. One aspect of that irrationality, however, is impossible to deny: some, if not much, of the resistance to Obama is due to his race. That’s not to say all conservatives or Republicans are racist, and it’s not to say that all opposition to Obama is at its core racist. Those things are not true. However, it is myopic to deny there are still millions of racists in this country and to deny that they all have a special hate for this black president. If Barack Obama were white, there is no way on the planet that anyone would have thought a “fist bump” was a “terrorist fist jab.” There’s no way that would have happened.

This is just Christmas, apparently.

 

Given this groundswell of antipathy, some of it racially based, some of it policy based and some of it based in fear, it would have been stupid for conservative websites and conservative politicians not to attempt to capitalize on it.

Very quickly, the conservative media (mirrored by actual politicians in Washington) realized that as long as they disagreed President Obama and attacked everything the president did and everything he said, there was going to be a large part of the population who would support them. These people may not have been in the mainstream, but for internet sites, you don’t need to be part of the mainstream to be able to click on a few links and drive ad revenue. In this case, the fringe is large enough to support the conservative media because the fringe is so incensed with the idea of an Obama presidency. As long as these conservative websites keep up a daily attack on Obama and all of his surrogates, and as long as they don’t alienate the more moderate part of their conservative readership by being openly racist, they will make money. They will generate hits. They’ll be relevant.

So it’s not a surprise that there is unanimity in the conservative media against this president. It’s very easy to play to the fringe by keeping up a constant attack and playing to the most vile aspects of our American politics. Far right conservative websites have grown remarkably over the last few years. The Daily Caller was founded in the middle of this presidency. The Breitbart sites have exploded. The Blaze is brand new.

And all of it is built on one premise: hate the president, make money. Hating Obama isn’t just politics for them; it’s a business.

“There’s no question it would be better for everyone’s place in the marketplace to have another Obama term.”

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NB: that Fox anchor explains her “terrorist” line here.