Obama

ABC covers for Michelle Obama's error about "automatic weapons"

Between Joe Biden's stupid statements about firing shotguns, and now the First Lady's inaccurate remark about "automatic weapons", the administration keeps putting its foot in its mouth. (Or perhaps "shooting itself in the foot" is a better metaphor.) Michelle Obama's reference to automatic weapons edited out by ABC (chicagotribune.com):

First lady Michelle Obama said in a "Good Morning America" interview Tuesday that an automatic weapon was used in the shooting death of Hadiya Pendleton , but that detail — which is not supported by police accounts — was edited out when the interview was aired and posted to ABC's website.

...

"She was standing out in a park with her friends in a neighborhood blocks away from where my kids ... grew up, where our house is. She had just taken a chemistry test. And she was caught in the line of fire because some kids had some automatic weapons they didn't need. I just don't want to keep disappointing our kids in this country. I want them to know that we put them first."

However, in the video clip that appears online, the mention of "automatic weapons" was edited out:

"She was standing out in a park with her friends in a neighborhood blocks away from where my kids grow — grew — up, where our house is. … And she was caught in the line of fire. ... I just don't want to keep disappointing our kids in this country. I want them to know that we put them first."

Police believe the gun in question was a revolver, because no shell casings were found at the scene. It could have been a semiautomatic handgun fired by someone who cleaned up their brass, but semiautomatic is not automatic -- automatic weapons are very strictly regulated, not generally available to ordinary civilians.

Conflating semiautomatic guns, which use some of the energy from one shot to load a round into the chamber and cock the hammer for the next shot, with automatic weapons capable of continuous or burst fire, is a rhetorical tactic used by some dishonest or ignorant gun control advocates. I'll give Mrs. Obama the benefit of the doubt and assume that she just didn't know what the heck she was talking about.

But more disappointing than her ignorance about guns (she doesn't have to know about them to be First Lady, but if she's going to comment on the the subject she needs to have a grasp of the fundamentals) is ABC apparently covering for her. The idea that this blatant factual error was "cut for time" does not pass the sniff test.

Does Glenn Beck have some sort of golden shower fantasy about Obama?

If Glenn Beck had any marbles left, he's lost them now. Over at Vulture, Jerry Saltz asks, Is Glenn Beck's "Obama in Pee-Pee" Actually Art?

Ambling over to a tall pedestal, he lovingly cupped his hands around a jar filled with yellow liquid. He announced that he'd been drinking a lot of water all day, that this wasa jar of his own urine. He offered that this was his "yellow period," and told us it's "a warm piece of me," again seeming overinterested and excited, fondling the jar with both hands. Then he had an assistant bring him a little plastic figurine. It was a kind of dashboard Obama, maybe in a smock. Beck took the figure between his fingers, held it over the jar, and dropped it into the urine.

In Leaked Docs, Honeywell Cites Obama Ties As Key to Anti-Union Strategy - In These Times

More evidence (as if any was needed) that Obama is not a progressive: In Leaked Docs, Honeywell Cites Obama Ties As Key to Anti-Union Strategy

The third section, on Government Relations (GR), reveals Honeywell's hopes that its influence with the Obama administration can be leveraged to help combat union activity. Slide 18 of the confidential document states that Honeywell (HON) should “continue to grow positive relationships with elected officials, with federal agencies, focusing on local branches." These relationships, the document explains, "can be directed at union activity, if needed.” The plan suggests that Honeywell's Government Relations division can be used to “break up union cohesion across the country.” A picture of President Obama speaking at a Honeywell plant is included (see above), with a caption reading “HON has great relationships with Federal officials, focus is needed at the State and local levels."

The 2012 Election and the State of the Nation

Back in 2004, I send out a little essay on post-election reflections that several folks passed around (by e-mail, back in those pre-Facebook days). In 2008 I sent another, more hopeful post-election message; and I guess I'm making it a tradition now.

One bit of good news, looking back at that 2004 message, is how the landscape has shifted on the question of marriage equality. In that election, gay marriage was used to as a hot-button issue to get right-wing voters to the polls. But today I stand as a proud citizen of one of the first states to have its electorate affirm the civil marriage rights of same-sex couples, as Maryland voters approved Question 6. Hooray!

The progressive case against Obama (Salon)

As disappointing as Obama has been on civil liberties and foreign policy, Democratic apologists have been able to argue that he's been helpful on the economic justice front. But over at Salon, Matt Stoller takes a closer look, and makes The progressive case against Obama:

This split represents more than money. It represents a new kind of politics, one where Obama, and yes, he did this, officially enshrined rights for the elite in our constitutional order and removed rights from everyone else (see “The Housing Crash and the End of American Citizenship” in the Fordham Urban Law Journal for a more complete discussion of the problem). The bailouts and the associated Federal Reserve actions were not primarily shifts of funds to bankers; they were a guarantee that property rights for a certain class of creditors were immune from challenge or market forces. The foreclosure crisis, with its rampant criminality, predatory lending, and document forgeries, represents the flip side. Property rights for debtors simply increasingly exist solely at the pleasure of the powerful. The lack of prosecution of Wall Street executives, the ability of banks to borrow at 0 percent from the Federal Reserve while most of us face credit card rates of 15-30 percent, and the bailouts are all part of the re-creation of the American system of law around Obama’s oligarchy.

...For sure, Obama believes he is doing the right thing, that his policies are what’s best for society. He is a conservative technocrat, running a policy architecture to ensure that conservative technocrats like him run the complex machinery of the state and reap private rewards from doing so. Radical political and economic inequality is the result. None of these policy shifts, with the exception of TARP, is that important in and of themselves, but together they add up to declining living standards.

Obama "anti-colonial"? I wish!

The attempt by some Republicans to smear Obama as some sort of "anti-colonialist" is deeply bizarre for two reasons. First, it's not based on any facts; second, it suggests that being opposed to the exploitation and bloodshed of colonialism is somehow a bad thing.

The anti-colonial accusation is at the heart of far-right talking head Dinesh D'Souza's light-on-facts, heavy-on-paranoia film 2016: Obama's America. D'Souza has been beating this drum for a while; he seems to believe that Obama became President as part of some plot to destroy American in revenge for its colonial sins. (Or, quite possibly, he does not actually believe this tripe but knows it will rile up the racist and nationalist elements in the GOP base.)

Now it seems to me pretty bizarre to accuse someone who has kept U.S. troops occupying foreign lands for almost four years, and has claimed the imperial power to designate people for death without trial, review, or any legal process at all, as some sort of grand opponent of colonialism. He might be less of a proponent of it than D'Souza and his ilk, but like every other Americans president of the past century and half or so, Obama is a colonialist who sees the main purpose of the world outside the U.S. as being to serve American interests.

As Lamar W. Hankins notes,

...An anti-colonialist would have already ended the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan by American military forces. An anti-colonialist would not have joined NATO in the bombing of Gaddafi’s forces in Libya. An anti-colonialist would not be using drones regularly in Pakistan, Yemen, and elsewhere. An anti-colonialist would not be continuing the decades-long involvement of this country in Colombia. An anti-colonialist would not maintain the 50-year embargo against Cuba. An anti-colonialist would not be funding the expansion of military bases in the Middle East. An anti-colonialist would not continue funding the wide-spread violation of human rights by the military in Colombia. An anti-colonialist would not be maintaining 900 military installations in 130 countries around the world. An anti-colonialist would not be expanding the military, whose primary use historically has been colonial expansion on behalf of American commercial and economic interests.

D’Souza, Gingrich, Ricketts and all the other anti-Obama zealots seem incapable of seeing Obama for what he really is – a mainstream, American exceptionalist with a colonialist mentality. Every president in my lifetime has pursued a colonialist agenda, some more than others. Obama fits right in the middle of this group – not the most expansionist, but not anywhere close to being the least expansionist. Unlike the earlier colonialism, where we actually controlled the apparatus of government in other countries, we now use our military might and economic leverage (directly and through the World Bank and the United States Agency for International Development) to control the policies of other countries. None of this has changed under Obama.

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