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April 16, 2014

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Olson.

Welp, in a hilarious but typical Sullivan "he's-got-you-coming-and-going" inversion from our set-to on the other thread regarding the Sullivan/Eich flareup, the guy unloads both barrels on Jo Becker's book and article, charging gross ahistoricism regarding the gay marriage movement.

Believe me, anyone who tries to keep up with Sullivan on who is subject to his wrath and who is subject to his forgiveness at any given moment in time is fated to be left in the dust.

I especially liked his remark in the first cite below taking down Becker's characterization of Chad Griffin, who brokered the Obama/Republican cooperation on the issue, as the "Rosa Parks" of the movement.

Read here:

http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2014/04/16/the-best-of-the-dish-today-153/

http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2014/04/16/jo-beckers-troubling-travesty-of-gay-history/

The other day armed thugs in the Nevada desert were referring to rancher Cliven Bundy as "the Rosa Parks" of their .... movement ... what was it ... their bowel movement, I guess.

I just think it's funny that in America today the only person who doesn't get to be Rosa Parks, especially among conservatives, is Rosa Parks herself.

By the way, I'll be back in the open thread at the end of the week to relay some of the contents of my reading on the armed Bundy desperadoes and my vision of what is going to happen to them and what they are going to get and it's going to be good and hard.

I suppose that if you didn't like Obama and Biden, this will only solidify your dislike

Eh, as somebody that thinks Obama is a pretty crappy president, this doesn't change much.

It's a story about a politician acting like a politician. I don't like the fact that he is a politician and calibrates his 'beliefs' to what the pollsters say, but its not like I was unaware of it. Nor is he particularly exceptional in that regard.

how they are (and they think they are) expected to behave is compelling.

And I think that's one of the problems with American politics. It is very very calibrated. Say this, don't say that. Everything is about capturing the news cycle and damage control of every awkward phrasing.

I suppose that if you didn't like Obama and Biden, this will only solidify your dislike

I'm agnostic on Obama, and the article definitely didn't move me either way as far as he's concerned.

As for Biden, it confirmed both why I really like the guy, and why he'd make a terrible president (the quote about Afghanistan).

I don't like the fact that he is a politician and calibrates his 'beliefs' to what the pollsters say, but its not like I was unaware of it. Nor is he particularly exceptional in that regard.

Lame ass representative democracy and all.

It's just part of the "evil" that is government, Ugh.

I don't like the fact that he is a politician and calibrates his 'beliefs' to what the pollsters say, but its not like I was unaware of it. Nor is he particularly exceptional in that regard.

The world is full of people who run for office and say exactly what they think on all issues. Very few of them manage to get elected.

So what we are really looking at in our elected officials is two groups:
- those who pay attention to the polls on some issues, but speak their sincere beleifs on others
- those who follow the polls on all issues.

Anyone who wants their politicians to be impolitic should consider where the term comes from. You may not like it. But on the evidence it appears to be the only way a democracy can work.

The world is full of people who run for office and say exactly what they think on all issues. Very few of them manage to get elected.

Which leaves them less able to do the things they think they can to make this a better country (or their state a better state, and so on). Idealism that isn't tempered by realism leaves you far less likely to realize your ideals, or even to meaningfully approach them.

It's an imperfect world. Screws fall out all the time. (to rearrange the quote a bit)

Sigh.

Lame ass representative democracy and all.

and

It's just part of the "evil" that is government, Ugh.

Not the same thing. First of all, polls are not elections. They are not votes. They may be a useful tool for a representative to understand their constituency, but they are not "representative democracy".

I have no objection to someone following the will of the voters to the best of their ability.

I don't object to someone that changes their mind.

What I object to is the constant game of saying whatever seems politically savvy at any given instant. Because it gives the voters zero information about how you'll act when you're in power or if they keep you in power.

How can the people choose a representative that represents them when they have no understanding of the candidate/leader other then they are good at looking at poll results?

Frex, Obama the candidate had many concerns about how we are treating detainees and handling the war on terror. He also had concerns about use of force without congressional approval.

He had substantially fewer of those concerns after being elected.

There is a substantial difference between doing your best to follow the will of the voters and saying whatever you need to say to get elected only to abandon it when it is politically expedient.

Idealism that isn't tempered by realism leaves you far less likely to realize your ideals, or even to meaningfully approach them.

And realism without idealism leaves you without the drive to meaningfully advance or change society.

Where would we be if MLK Jr. took the realistic path? Or for that matter, Washington, Jefferson, and Madison?

Where would the gay rights movement be today without the idealism of its advocates?

You could argue had Obama supported SSM during the campaign, he wouldn't have won and the cause would be worse off.

Maybe, although I'm unconvinced he would have lost votes if he came out early on with his current stance, which is hardly strident.

But if the point is that idealism needs to be tempered with realism, I'd agree and never meant to imply otherwise. I just think idealism needs to be tempered, not replaced altogether.

thompson - fair enough, but "saying one thing and doing another" is a big step away from your other comment, it seems to me.

Where would the gay rights movement be today without the idealism of its advocates?

Probably nowhere. But someone running for office being careful about what he or she says on a given subject doesn't remove from existence other advocates. The movement doesn't simply disappear. (And if you don't think MLK didn't sometimes choose his words carefully and didn't sometimes take some amount of convincing before being absolutely forthright and firm about what he was saying, you're mistaken.)

I'm not saying I wouldn't prefer candidates be more open about their views. I would. But it's a bit of a collective action problem. In the cases where candidates aren't actively and mutually trying to highlight their differences on a subject, the one who is less open gains an advantage. That's just the way it is.

If there were some way to make all them open up completely, I'd be all for it. But I'm not going to hold my preferred candidates to a standard to leaves them at a disadvantage to their opponents who can play the crowd as they please. That only goes so far, of course.

I wouldn't prefer an out-and-out liar who thinks nothing of saying the exact opposite of what he really thinks, by which I mean I wouldn't support electing that kind of person in the first place. So that sort of obviates the need for me to say I wouldn't want my preferred candidate to straight-up lie. (And I'm not interested in debating what it means to "lie." We all know there are degrees of truthfulness, and everyone accepts things that fall short of being 100% truthful in just about every aspect of life.)

But if the point is that idealism needs to be tempered with realism, I'd agree and never meant to imply otherwise. I just think idealism needs to be tempered, not replaced altogether.

That was the point, so I guess we agree.

It seems I doubled a negative there in my MLK parenthetical. I'm guessing the context triggered everyone's mental auto-correct, but still...in case it wasn't clear.

I'll add that on the specific case under discussion, I'm not particularly moved either way in my opinion of Obama, either. He wasn't being courageous enough for me to think better of him, but he was moving in the right direction, so I don't think any less of him.

I might even go so far as to say he was, at least on his own, going too slow, but what offsets that for me is that Michelle was the wife he chose to marry, Biden was the running mate he chose for his vice president, he chose his other staffers involved, and they all pushed him forward. I especially like the fact that his wife pushes him to do the right thing.

remember when Lincoln took office and then immediately freed the slaves? that was real leadership. none of this modern politicking for that guy!

remember when Lincoln took office and then immediately freed the slaves? that was real leadership. none of this modern politicking for that guy!

No, but I remember Lincoln, that guy who was against slavery before the campaign, during the campaign, and after election.

And yeah, I think his stance at the time was an example of leadership. And on the issue of SSM, I think Obama had a chance to lead and didn't take it.

Like I said above, he's not remarkable in the regard, but overall it makes me a little sad.

Ugh:

"saying one thing and doing another" is a big step away from your other comment

I don't think its a huge step away from:
calibrates his 'beliefs' to what the pollsters say

Obama (as most do) sets his public face to whatever he thinks will get him the most political traction. To the extent that he (or many other politicians) has personal beliefs that will guide his actions and his advocacy while in office, its really hard for me to judge them and vote accordingly.

Perhaps I could have been more expansive originally, or more clear. If so, I apologize.

HSH:

Pretty much agree with your post, and didn't even notice the MLK thing until you mentioned it.

Perhaps we should be glad that, for all their waffling and calibration, it is usually clear which of two candidates is closer to what we would like to find in an office holder. They may not be leading as much as would be nice, but at least we can have a glimmer of which direction they will drift.

it is usually clear which of two candidates is closer to what we would like to find in an office holder

(insert rueful emoticon) Heh, maybe. I wish I was as optimistic as you that I could actually tell the difference. Or that there is a meaningful difference.

Perhaps I'm just so far out there most candidates look the same.

But really, its not just the question of "will they represent me if I vote for them". I think it damages the debate.

Politicians don't say things that 'people don't want to hear'.

The american people are rarely, if ever, asked to make hard choices (raise taxes or decrease spending? how about neither!). They are rarely, if ever, asked to internalize how old decisions have come back to haunt them (Remember those proxy wars we funded during the cold war? How might they have contributed to the current instability in Africa and the Middle East?). They are rarely, if ever, asked to face hard realities (Nobody is 100% from terrorists).

I don't have solutions, beyond pressuring candidates and elected officials to engage in those ways with the american public.

thompson,

Do you really, seriously, want to see a Democratic president "lead" on all issues, or just the ones you agree with? How about a (modern-day) Republican president?

"Leadership" in this country means leading a nation that contains people who listen to Rush Limbaugh and people who read Paul Krugman. Back in early 2009, Limbaugh was denouncing the stimulus for being too big, Krugman was warning that it was too small. Who should a real "leader" in the White House have listened to?

Like you, I think "the American people" need to be asked to make hard choices. But "the American people" are the ones who elect the Joe Wilsons as well as the Joe Bidens, the Louie Gohmerts as well as the Barack Obamas. Do you really think "the American people" can actually make a choice harder than ketchup or mustard?

--TP

Mayo, but let me think.

thompson, I know you knew Lincoln, like McKT was very close to Bush the 43trd, but revisit your theory after reading "Team of Rivals" by Doris Kearns Goodwin, or any other good Lincoln biography, and you'll see that his political positioning was all over the place regarding slavery, apart from his personal values.

He offered the South the opportunity to keep slavery early on, but drew the line at expanding it to the territories, and then later, of course, as events dictated, his true personal and Constitutional views against the institution came to the fore in policy, as the war turned in the Union's favor.

Obama's early reticence and now endorsement of gay marriage follows Lincoln's progression almost exactly, if we want to compare the two contexts.

With this exception: Obama has not told anyone that he favors deporting gays to Africa as his base preference, as Lincoln expressed about the black population.

Lincoln also spoke vehemently against interracial marriage. That was beyond the pale.

Also this: "The american people are rarely, if ever, asked to make hard choices (raise taxes or decrease spending? how about neither!)."

Your kidding, right?

The American people have been asked, prodded, poked, cajoled, pounded, deceived, and demagogued on this issue every news cycle and every election since (1776) Ronald Reagan was elected and they have emphatically said, over and over again, NEITHER!!

No taxes and don't touch my Medicare!!!

How did you miss that?

Besides, the reality over the past 35 years is that they have received the very opposite, much lower tax burdens in most cases, and higher spending, but not where you would think, and we don't like that either, the ones who realize, which number maybe three people in the country.

You're kidding

FWIW, I am fine with politicians, and people in public office generally, who don't approach everything from the perspective of what they, personally, think is right or wrong in a given situation.

They are not private individuals, but holders of public office. They are not responsible only to themselves, but to the folks they act on behalf of.

It seems, to me, perfectly appropriate for a President to take public actions to bring about a policy result - gay marriage, for example - that they might not personally endorse. Hopefully, from their point of view, it's not all about them.

Along those lines, I'm also fine with people in public office who measure their words carefully, and who think in strategic terms about how far out in front of general public opinion they want to be regarding their public statements and actions.

You can read that as hypocrisy, or you can read it as skillful means.

Folks in leadership positions of organizations of any type will often do the same thing, it's not just politics.

I'm fine with a politician who says, "This isn't necessarily what I personally believe in, but I'm just a fiduciary for the public, implementing what they want."

I'm not so fine with politicians who run on doing one thing, and then, once in office, do something else. It seems to me that accepting this renders representative democracy rather problematic, the product of a bait and switch.

It also seems to me that we tolerate entirely too much dishonestly in our elected officials, and are hugely tolerant of their corruptly profiting off their offices.

Or did you really think it was just an accident that people get elected to offices with good, but not fantastic pay, and a few years later are millionaires? People, Hillary was not a wiz at day trading, and it is a joke to pretend she was. She was laundering bribes.

Agh! I lost a comment due to fat fingers, but I'll try to recreate it.

Tony:
Do you really, seriously, want to see a Democratic president "lead" on all issues, or just the ones you agree with?

Yes. I really, seriously, do. This is a democracy, and my preferred policy isn't always popular. That's fine. But I think "leading", even in a direction I disapprove of, will help increase the quality of political discourse.

Do you really think "the American people" can actually make a choice harder than ketchup or mustard?

Yes.

Count:

after reading "Team of Rivals" by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Thanks for the recommendation.

While I may reconsider my position, maybe I could clarify it first. You say:

you'll see that his political positioning was all over the place regarding slavery, apart from his personal values.

I'm aware of this, but my impression is that he came was consistent in his anti-slavery stance. His *policy* recommendations changed dramatically throughout his political career.

Like I said up thread: "I have no objection to someone following the will of the voters to the best of their ability."

To me, this is distinct from Obama, who seems to have been pro-SSM for awhile. Indeed, he was "troubled" by his public stance that he was against it personally. My understanding from the article was that Obama really wasn't against it personally, but he said he was to garner votes in battleground states.

Potentially a savvy strategy, but distinct from saying he isn't personally against it but the nation isn't ready, or transition needs to happen slowly, or his personal views wouldn't influence his policy on this matter, its matter for the states, or any other distinctions between policy and personal preference.

So no, I don't consider the two progressions "almost exactly" the same at all.

But perhaps, since you seem more knowledgeable than I on Lincoln, you could explain how Lincoln hid his personal views early on out of political savvy?

Also, as an aside, I'm assuming you're referencing the Peoria speech here:

Obama has not told anyone that he favors deporting gays to Africa as his base preference, as Lincoln expressed about the black population.

I think the relevant text of the speech is:

...My first impulse would be to free all the slaves, and send them to Liberia,---to their own native land. But a moment's reflection would convince me, that whatever of high hope, (as I think there is) there may be in this, in the long run, its sudden execution is impossible. If they were all landed there in a day, they would all perish in the next ten days; and there are not surplus shipping and surplus money enough in the world to carry them there in many times ten days. What then? Free them all, and keep them among us as underlings? Is it quite certain that this betters their condition? I think I would not hold one in slavery, at any rate; yet the point is not clear enough for me to denounce people upon. What next? Free them, and make them politically and socially, our equals? My own feelings will not admit of this; and if mine would, we well know that those of the great mass of white people will not. Whether this feeling accords with justice and sound judgment, is not the sole question, if indeed, it is any part of it. A universal feeling, whether well or ill-founded, can not be safely disregarded. We can not, then, make them equals. It does seem to me that systems of gradual emancipation might be adopted; but for their tardiness in this, I will not undertake to judge our brethren of the south...

He goes on to talk about the various "solutions" to the problem and basically how they are unworkable for various reasons.

I may not like all of the language in the speech, nor his stance on interracial marriage, but I personally wouldn't care to judge Lincoln on not being progressive enough for the time. Nobody is perfect, and he did a great deal to advance racial equality.

Your kidding, right?

Yes, I was kidding with "how about neither!". I should try to avoid that, I keep forgetting tone doesn't carry through the intertubes.

My point was pretty much using the budget as an example of the american public not being asked to make hard choices. Low taxes and high spending on medicare is an example of that, as you note. War spending that wasn't accounted for is another.

It's unfortunate that politicians are reluctant to say that sometimes tough choices have to be made.

It is also unfortunate, as you note, that the populace doesn't seem to see the disconnect.

That was just a general example of: gee, I really wish the american people could have an adult conversation about something like spending and taxes. Or that an elected leader could try to make the point, start the discussion, etc etc.

Like I said upthread, I don't really have answers, beyond trying to contribute meaningfully to political discussions.

"It seems to me that accepting this renders representative democracy rather problematic, the product of a bait and switch."

Oh, it's nearly fully rendered.

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/princeton-experts-say-us-no-longer-democracy

A few more years, give it a decade, to let the money-is-speech and corporations-are-people crowd, of which you are a fully confirmed partisan member, and the oligarchy will have it all.

It is rather problematic, don't you think?

And since you're spreading the objective news, why not give us all of it. Hillary's trading account was small potatoes to say, Dick Cheney of Halliburton who did part-time work as Vice President of the United States to um, supplement his pin money, and I'd recommend putting both stories on the front page of Bellmore's Half The News, If Even That, Broadsheet.

We could make a law to prevent this behavior, but you've spent the good part of the last three weeks on these pages condemning law-making itself, particularly to reign in the individual freedoms of Hillary Clinton and Dick Cheney, by making criminals of them via gummint regulation, so I don't know where this puts us.

Closer to violence is my opinion, but you're not going to like which way my weapons are pointed.

I'm not so fine with politicians who run on doing one thing, and then, once in office, do something else

Fair enough.

Oh, it's nearly fully rendered.

Actually, and I'm sorry to say this, I think it's pretty much a done deal at this point.

If you ain't got the do-re-mi, you're just a passenger on this bus.

thompson, in broad terms, if we want to compare the abolition slavery at all with the struggle to admit gay Americans into the full rights and privileges the rest of enjoy, I think Lincoln's personal journey to enlightenment and to enlighten the Nation, as opposed to the reigning in he had to accomplish against the rabid (in a good way) abolitionists in his Party (thus, team of rivals), was similar ("exactly" was a poor word choice) to Obama's, though I'll give you this: Obama has been rather mealymouthed in his soliloquies, whereas Lincoln always managed to render what could be construed as public mealymouthedness, and it was by northern Abolitionists, into soaring but self-deprecating rhetoric.

As to Lincoln's progressiveness for his time, he surely had more than enough, and way too much for the usual suspects.

I welcome into the progressive caucus, and always have.

If you (not you, thompson, the YOU that stalks all of us) could run over to Red State and break the news to them, that would be entertaining.

I would, but Firefox is my browser most the time and so I'm being blocked most days now. Either that or I've been caught mistakenly in their anti-gay security software, but as long as I can still get through their "hate-their-guts ramparts, I'm alright with that.

thompson, I appreciate your meaningful contributions to political discussion here.

I would emulate you, but then who would defend the rich world of meaninglessness, if not me. ;)

One other point, thompson, if Congress and the President pass a truly austere budget, the American people are not being "asked" to accept anything, they are being "told" ... "forced" by government to accept a fait accompli.

If the Ryan budget, for example, became law, the nine million additional folks (we'll leave the death toll from the privatization of Medicare for later) directed once again into the medically uninsured queue, perhaps having their heads shaved first and deloused as a welcoming gesture, would I suppose, be "asked" something, but it would be along the lines of "step this way, little mother" and breath the lethal gas of uninsured penury once again.

That what I call a government monopoly on force and violence.

"reining" in, not reigning in, and it's not raining were I am today.

I think Lincoln's personal journey [...] was similar

Fair enough. There are certainly similarities.

who would defend the rich world of meaninglessness, if not me. ;)

You do an excellent job of that, although I often find your more 'meaningful' comments very insightful, if less entertaining. :)

Barack Obama certainly wasn't going to lead on marriage equality, but I suspect that nobody, either his supporters or his detractors, thought he really opposed it. Wasn't it always obvious that his real position is he didn't have a problem with it as long as someone else took the political heat for getting it done?Does anyone think he would have lifted a finger to prevent a state from legalizing SSM? What did he actually do when they started doing that? As far as I could tell, almost no one believed him -- and they were all right not to.

There's a term for american politicians that confront the public with "hard choices".

They're called losers.

Because there's always another guy who is willing to get up on his hind legs and yammer about how people can have their cake (and eat it too), and that other mean guy is just trying to make things worse for everyone that counts.

I'll leave it to you to fill in the usual party labels for the two politician stereotypes mentioned above.

"They're called losers."

That's true: So long as honest people tolerate liars, liars will always have the advantage over the honest, because they can say anything, while the honest can only say things they think are true.

But that's a hell of an excuse for tolerating liars.

Not tolerating liars would require calling them liars. That would result in a shortage of fainting couches, in polite circles.

--TP

On this general topic (and I realize that this is probably a parody) is this unsent letter from WJC, written by his staffers, to Don Imus. Following Tony, I leave it to your imaginations the reaction of said Don Imus to receiving such a letter.

Jimmy Carter asked that people put on a sweater.

nearly 40 years later, people still snicker about it.

that's what truth-telling gets you in America.

My problem with Obama on this issue (as on a few others), is not that he avoids confronting the public with "hard choices", but rather that he seems to me overly prevaricative and overly cautious in making his own, sometimes not so hard, choices.

Having said that, I'd be really happy to see him leading a conservative government (he'd certainly qualify as such in the UK) with a strong radical/liberal opposition.

Nigel, this isn't a full-throated defense of Obama, but I cut him a lot more slack in general because of the fact that he's the first African-American president. The analogue that I would make would be to imagine how constrained a Muslim Prime Minister would be in the UK.

I'm curious if the book details Obama's relationship with African-American churches, which have traditionally been quite strongly against homosexuality.

I think that it would have been much better for the nation, if the first African-American President had been a good President, rather than a remarkably lousy one.

I mean, it's good that we've got that out of our systems now, and can start evaluating Presidential candidates on non-racial criteria, but 8 years of Obama was a heck of a price to pay just so some voters with guilt feelings could feel better about themselves.

"I think that it would have been much better for the nation, if the first African-American President had been a good President, rather than a remarkably lousy one."

Did you pause to consider how banal this observation really was?

Remarkably lousy president?!? Not to go all sapient on you, Brett, but you're a moron.

I grant you Obama could have been a better president and a stronger leader: he could have taken away your guns; he could have taxed carbon; he could have rammed a public option into ACA; he could have put a few banksters in jail to encourage the others. As it is, he's only a B(arack), not an A(braham). But he's no D(ubya) either.

--TP

Julian, I realize it's an assessment most Democrats would never publicly agree with. Restricting myself to observations Democrats would agree with would be rather limiting.

Somebody has to state the obvious, even (especially) in company that doesn't like to acknowledge it.

Why, Tony, how was he to do all that, without control of both houses of Congress? Are you finally admitting that he's a dictator?

He DID NOT do all that, Brett. Some dictator, huh?

--TP

Two points:

1. Brett, what makes you say that Obama was remarkably lousy? Are you saying he's remarkably bad for any president, i.e. compared to past Democratic party candidates and presidents too? Because a very common lament on the left is that Obama is too centrist--basically that he's an Eisenhower Republican, and that the entire Democratic party is basically that way too.

So if you think Obama is much worse than a Kerry, Biden, or Clinton would have been, I'd genuinely like to hear why.

2. I meant that it's banal to say that "it would have been better for a bad president to be a good one."

that's what truth-telling gets you in America.

"It's morning in America!"

You'll never go wrong telling Americans that they're good enough, they're smart enough, and doggone it people like them.

Are you finally admitting that he's a dictator?

He's the worst dictator ever.

From a certain POV a very bad president of the opposite party could be seen as a good thing because it could mean that your own side will win next time (less likely, if the guy holding office does ag ood job).
Btw, it IS the official GOP policy to prevent Obama from achieving anything (even where he is trying to get Republican ideas put into law) because any achievement and any failure gets attributed to POTUS. And Congress can afford bad press since their approval ratings range below those of Fidel Castro's in a red state and only barely above typhoid fever.

Somebody has to state the obvious, even (especially) in company that doesn't like to acknowledge it.

ok, i'll do it:

Brett's trolling.

I tried to make sure I was outlining my personal opinion and how I see the dynamic being played out and sure enough, Brett's disappointed that the first African-American president isn't more like what he thinks he should be. I'd suggest (to Tony in particular and everyone in general) that this isn't moronic on the part of Brett, just a textbook example of unexamined white privilege. In fact, it would be hard to find a better example of unexamined white privilege, so I'm grateful for Brett providing that example for anyone else who might wonder why I would be suggesting that Obama is constrained in a lot of ways that other presidents would not be.

LJ:

but I cut him a lot more slack in general because of the fact that he's the first African-American president.

Could you expand on this? I'm troubled by this statement, but perhaps I'm missing your point. You support it with this:

Obama's relationship with African-American churches, which have traditionally been quite strongly against homosexuality.

Which suggests to me (and let me know if I'm wrong), you're cutting him slack for being less than truthful by saying he's personally against SSM because he might have alienated african-american churches if he had said otherwise?

The implication I'm getting is that it would be especially bad for him to alienate african-american churches because he himself is african-american?

It's an implication I'm not comfortable with, but perhaps I'm missing your point. Or if that is your point, perhaps you could expand on it?

I think the point was just that, if Obama had told the truth about his position, he wouldn't have gotten nearly so much support from the black churches, and might not have won. And, it's ok for Democrats to lie in order to get elected.

Somehow I doubt that was LJs point.

Here's a little perspective from someone who has been a Republican since the '60s. And was a conservative then (although clearly not in the sense the term is used by today's Republicans). The liberals are right (hey, it could happen to anybody occasionally!): Obama is basically an Eisenhower Republican, i.e. a center-right politician on any sane scale.

I would say that the far left supports him, but not out of agreement with his ideological preferences. Rather they much prefer those to the what the Republicans offer. And race comes into it for them (hey, conservatives can luck into being right occasionally, too!).

But most of the ocuntry has voted for him primarily because they think he has done a reasonable job while faced with an opposition party which doesn't care at all what he say or does. All they care abotu is opposing him, regardless. If he sent in a budget proposal lifted entirely from the Ryan budget, it would get denounced as creeping socialism. If he gave a State of the Union speach lifted entirely from the rpublican platform, the same would happen.

Yes, Brett's favored candidates would head for the black church pulpits and tell the straight-out truth of their position regarding teh Gay, thus appealing to the basest instincts of the black community.

Then, next stop, Brett's candidate would end up taking communion at an all-white megachurch and again speak to their lowest animal spirits, that you must carry a weapon in your neighborhood to stalk and kill, if you must, the Skittles-carrying products of the politically correct liberal welfare state as they walk on a public street, having left the Caddy with their fat black welfare mother.

Still a few hours left in the day, so maybe we'll head over to a suburban church and speak the Gospel (truth, again that thing that brings us all together in the lower regions of our baser instincts, where the right wing filth who have infilterated our polity want us to live, for reasons of their own) of immigrant hordes usurping the fruits of our hard-won freedoms, like free water and free grazing rights on federal titty.

What's on tap tomorrow -- maybe don a yarmulke and accompany Michelle Bachmann to a synagogue and express the truth of their views that they are deeply disappointed that the Jewish vote goes to this illegitimate Barack Hussein (winkedy-wink) Obama, of questionable loyalties to both America and Israel, while of course the Israeli government makes nice with Vlad Putin and winks at his aggression toward the Ukraine, the shirtless truth-teller with the lickable biceps, to a conservative who finds displays of power an aphrodisiac and yet another avenue to attack their own government and the Democrat Party.

Busy schedule - but I'm sure we have time, this same truthsayer -- to visit a right wing Southern Church and cast dark allusions, truthful but a little sidelong, to the congregation that mysterious, powerful forces, come from Zion, are influencing our seats of government, and our financial system, and the vital, pure fluids of our Christian Nation. We know who they are.

All in two day's work, roughly, to spread the hard truth that divides and conquers the many enemies who find common ground in the Democrat Party and are the enemies of the Republican conservative right wing nativists.

Once these various truths have done their base work, then the Koch Brothers and their bought and paid-for media and politicians can step on and over the divided and the conquered to eliminate the former's taxes and government, and bring the fundamental core Truth, the bubbling magma of their regime of hate, to the surface.

That previous comment is best read out loud in your Christopher Walken voice.

Here's something to practice by:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-rVEtR9rfQ

Well, perhaps I'm just overly charitable or naive, but I can completely understand how someone could have gone from a SSM opponent ten years ago, to lukewarm discomfort five years ago, to "of COURSE SSM is okay!" today.

We're all immersed in the cultural attitudes around us, and if it's not an issue that we've given much thought (and who has time to give deep thought to every single issue?), we'll just go with the flow, and that this very human tendency explains a lot about Obama's (and lots of others) 'evolution' on the SSM issue.

The SSM proponents, and I give props to SF Mayor Gavin Newsome especially, have made us all pay attention, and show that not only was SSM not a threat, but that our world is poorer from standing in the way of people that love one another.

I'm not nearly as understanding and charitable to candidates that feel like they can run a "post-truth" campaign, however.

Snarki:

Well, perhaps I'm just overly charitable or naive, but I can completely understand how someone could have gone from a SSM opponent ten years ago, to lukewarm discomfort five years ago, to "of COURSE SSM is okay!" today.

I completely agree. Especially with the sea change that has occurred over the past few years on this subject.

That's not what I object to with Obama.

I think he was probably always ok with it, but said he was personally against it to pander to voters.

And again, this isn't something that really sways me one way or the other on him specifically. It's not particularly remarkable behavior for a politician.

He had a chance to lead on the subject and score some points with me. (Points I'm sure he, nor his political advisers, care about :P).

But it saddens me that we don't expect more from our representatives.

thompson,
Thanks for asking. Though it is in the same comment, those were actually 2 different thoughts.

In response to Nigel, I wanted to point out that Obama isn't as liberal as we/he may want [him] to be because he is constrained by culture. He can't lose his temper or he will be 'the angry black man'. When he spoke about Trayvon Martin in (what I thought were) measured tones, many on the right seized upon it as an indication that he wasn't for all Americans. So when Nigel talks about Obama not seeming to be "overly prevaricative and overly cautious in making his own, sometimes not so hard, choices." he's actually missing an important aspect of the puzzle.

The question about the black churches was more wondering if information about that appears in the narrative (the article was taken from a book about the subject) In the articles that I read from that time (and not being in the US means that I don't really see everything), I don't remember discussions of AA church leaders meeting with Obama saying that their support is contingent on holding the line against SS marriage, but I assume that there was back and forth there. Obama did come from that cultural background, so one might assume that, rather than really being for SSM the whole time and cynically saying he wasn't, he might have actually changed his mind.

The interaction between the AA community and the LGBT community is an interesting one and I don't think it can be condensed down to a single point. A documentary called 'The New Black' is interesting in that regard and here is the NPR piece about it, which had this

One of the things that I learned over these last few years, doing this film, is how the issue of family, and this idea of family, has a very unique place in the African-American community and experience. And that's really on both sides. Pastor Derek McCoy talks about how we weren't allowed to have family and how as black people, you know, during slavery, jumping the broom - and how that gives, you know, in his perspective, that sacred unit of family, because of that history, you know, shouldn't be changed or shouldn't be destroyed.

And then on the other side, with acceptance, with black LGBT folks - that family is something that we have always taken a refuge in because of racism, because of the experience that we've had in the black community. So for black LGBT people, that family structure is maybe a bit different than for white LGBT community. So that idea of being sanctioned in terms of your relationship is very - you know, can be very important.

Brett's comment illustrates my point from the OP, that if you didn't like Obama, you'd find support in your views from this article. Strangely enough, I don't recall Brett as having been someone who has been too worked up about SSM, so this looks like a convenient cudgel to use against the usurper-in-chief.

LJ, I remember a decided moment in the development of my appreciation for Obama was seeing this speech in an African American church in Texas http://www.towleroad.com/2008/02/barack-obama-te.html. Particularly the way he lost the crowd by mentioning gay rights, and pushed back at them about it.

Quote:
An interesting moment came when he was asked a question about LGBT rights and delivered an answer that seemed to suit the questioner, listing the various attributes — race, gender, etc. — that shouldn't trigger discrimination, to successive cheers. When he came to saying that gays and lesbians deserve equality, though, the crowd fell silent.

So he took a different tack:

"Now I’m a Christian, and I praise Jesus every Sunday," he said, to a sudden wave of noisy applause and cheers.

"I hear people saying things that I don’t think are very Christian with respect to people who are gay and lesbian,"

Thanks for that Shane. Actually, I feel like the relationship between AA churches and LGBT rights gives me a bit of an insight into how Japan can be both gay-friendly in some ways and yet conservative in other ways. I can't find it, but there was a recent NHK special on the subject and here is a review of it and here is a critique of the program. From the last link:

One participant said LGBT should come out only when they were in a positive frame of mind, since doing so out of anger or frustration might create negative feelings. The advice was mostly about being respectful of other people’s — i.e., straight people’s — feelings. Even the example of the lesbian couple who made a point of not hiding their relationship from the neighbors was presented cautiously. The two women would walk through the streets hand-in-hand greeting everyone they met, and after a year or so people accepted them. However, on TV their faces were blurred out, as were many of the other LGBT participants’. They were not scared for themselves; they just didn’t want to take the chance of making friends and family uncomfortable.

Being accepted within your family and community is one thing, but having your family and smaller community be scrutinized because it accepts you is another. That's what seems to be an issue in the AA community (something I think supported by the shift of opinion within that community on SSM) and perhaps here as well.

LJ:

Thanks for the expansion on your thoughts.

I think you may be convolving two distinct concepts here:

isn't as liberal as we/he may want [him] to be because he is constrained by culture. He can't lose his temper or he will be 'the angry black man'.

I'd agree there would be some 'angry black man' flak thrown about if he engaged in fiery rhetoric. As an aside, I doubt it would get much traction with anybody that isn't firmly in the anti-Obama camp.

But in my view, there is a substantial difference between being 'liberal' and being 'angry'. A large enough difference that he could pull of being liberal without dealing with the 'angry black man' sideshow.

He is calm and emotionally restrained, certainly. One of the things I like about him, actually. And perhaps he is more restrained than he would otherwise be, if there wasn't the racial component you brought up. I don't know.

But there is no conflict between being a strong advocate for something and being emotionally restrained. Nor any conflict with having firm positions and being calm.

While it may be a piece of the puzzle, I'm unconvinced its a particularly large one.

rather than really being for SSM the whole time and cynically saying he wasn't

Possibly. But he did support it during a run for state senate, IIRC. And than he didn't. And now he sort of does.

And this could all be him being torn by a complex personal moral question for himself. I wouldn't begrudge him that.

I just don't find it very likely, and the article made it seem less likely.

Well, I think that he couldn't advocate increases in welfare or food stamps, he couldn't direct funds to historically black universities, he can't take steps to speed up the DoA's settling of discrimination claims against black farmers or attacks on Eric Holder. This is not a question of preventing him from 'being angry', this is limiting what he can and can't address. And since racial disparities are one of the shadows on the American experience, I think it may suggest a different take on Obama's 'overly cautious' behavior.

The state senate position is based on, as I understand it, a single question on asingle questionnaire sent out by a Illinois voter group. The link actually gives the questionnaire and Politico notes that he only said yes and he didn't qualify his views! So clearly, he was already a fervent supporter of gay marriage and he just changed to get elected. That seems a bit of a stretch and a lot like the gotcha politics that some (perhaps even you?) have complained about. This timeline by ABC puts it into perspective. I'm sure that if Obama had said something else between 1996 and 2004, they would have put it up there. But if one tends to think that Obama is not to be trusted, one will take that one word answer on a single questionnaire as proof that he was secretly supporting SSM and just waiting to be elected to foist it on the unsuspecting American public. This seems to parallel belief that Obama is actually a sekrit Mussleman, though he is probably pretending to be for SSM, so he can win power and then institute sharia law and have sodomites flogged in the public square.

Sorry, I'm not suggesting that Obama should speed up attacks on Eric Holder, I went to check on the status of the payments by the DoA to black farmers (this was a sticking point with a number of right wing folks in 2011) and I saw that the second round of payments were still unprocessed.

Also, apologies if the last part of that comment seemed to be directed at you. It was not. I was just noting that if someone thought that Obama were a Muslim version of the Manchurian candidate, his apparently steadfast support of SSM and his covering up of it from 2004 till last year might count as evidence against such a theory. Please season with generous amounts of emoticons

LJ:

Well, I think that he couldn't advocate increases in welfare or food stamps

Ok, again, I'm really unsure I'm interpreting you correctly. Are you saying he couldn't advocate for food stamps, etc, because the american public just wouldn't stand for the first black president doing that? Or that the republican pushback would focus on the fact that he's african-american?

Because that strikes me as ridiculous.

I'd be the first to admit that racism is still a component of america, and it has reared its head with the candidacy and election of Obama.

But I'm unconvinced Obama's lack of strong advocacy on food stamps has a racial component. If you do think that, perhaps you could elaborate as to why?

On your second paragraph, it seems you're having a discussion with someone other than me. I said:

But he did support it during a run for state senate, IIRC. And than he didn't. And now he sort of does.

which is hardly:

So clearly, he was already a fervent supporter of gay marriage and he just changed to get elected.

LJ:

Also, apologies if the last part of that comment seemed to be directed at you.

Hah! Sorry, I missed your comment while posting. Ignore the 2nd half of my comment.

In conservative societies, what can be done is often limited not by set out rules, but by internal limits. Nigel suggests that Obama is 'overly prevaricative and overly cautious' (both terms suggest negative value judgements) but when viewed in a different lens, one might balk at ascribing the judgements to solely to Obama.

By the same token, it is not that the american people are going to storm the White House if Obama forcefully expresses his opposition to the SNAP cuts or that the Republicans would start claiming that he is only helping his homeboys while the 'real Americans' are struggling. But I do think that the Overton window of policy changes that the US people are willing to accept is narrower for Obama than it would be for a different president. There is a reason why it is called Nixon to China...

But I'm unconvinced Obama's lack of strong advocacy on food stamps has a racial component.

I'm sure we all know that food stamps are NOT a race-based program. So maybe Obama's "lack of strong advocacy" just means he's indifferent to the plight of poor whites and poor blacks alike.

On the other hand, let's acknowledge that a goodly portion of the electorate thinks "black" when they hear "food stamp recipient". And that a major faction of the commentariat would take advantage of that to denounce a black President who championed "food stamps".

In any case, I think "advocacy" and "leadership" are not quite the same thing. For instance, our pal Brett is a determined, vocal advocate. Would Obama be a better "leader" if he were more like Brett?

BTW, when Obama advocates for a higher minimum wage, is he advocating FOR or AGAINST more "food stamps"? When the Republicans in Congress resolutely oppose an increase in the minimum wage, which side of the "food stamps" issue are THEY on?

--TP

LJ, thompson: What does Obama's "failure to oppose food stamp cuts" have to do with anything? I believe the record shows the administration was opposed to the cuts. However, you might have noticed that the final compromise legislation passed with veto proof majorities in Congress. Just what was the president supposed to do?

"He is calm and emotionally restrained, certainly. One of the things I like about him, actually. And perhaps he is more restrained than he would otherwise be, if there wasn't the racial component you brought up. I don't know."

I like it, too. But, I do know.

I believe his serenity, authentic or not, drives certain well-known commentators, pundits, and political opponents batsh*t crazy.

A little like Bill Clinton's aw-shucks, laying on of hands, rope a dope, good-ole-boy bargaining drove Newt Gingrich, Dick Armey, and Tom Delay into seething fits when they would leave the White House budget summits unknowingly wearing little but boxer shorts with moths fluttering out of the flys, their watches, wallets, and flag lapel pins gone missing.

I believe Obama's public serenity, dignified manner and rational level tones are taken (unconsciously by deeply ingrained bad habit) as signals, wrongly as always, by his more sinister, and yes, racist opponents as somehow patronizing and condescending at the same time, and for the more questionable ilk in this country, as just plain uppity.

Go back and watch, say, a movie like "In The Heat Of The Night", (They call me .. Mr. Tibbs) or some old Richard Pryor standup, maybe some Dave Chappelle (a guy who can parse the subtleties of racial interplay way over my head), Jackie Robinson's experience (and Solly Hemus, Enos Slaughter and others quickly learned, in spite of Branch Rickey's pact with Robinson that cool would be kept, that you did not want to mess with the dignified Robinson because he could kick any cracker's ass) and you will see that black artists have nailed this phenomenon forever, because they have observed it forever to their faces in their daily lives at the hands of some segments of the population.

Chris Christie could pull off acting a rude thug in public and be accorded respect for it, until of course it turned out he really is a thug.

But he rode thugdom a lot longer and higher than most black public officials would be permitted.

Try this, for the latest. Not work or child friendly, but even though it would be highly refreshing for Obama to lose his sh*t once in awhile (and Chappelle might believe we are laughing at this for all of the wrong reasons), historically it's a losing choice between being categorized as an angry black thug or coming off as a rational, dignified individual, and thus even more suspect:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qv7k2_lc0M

In the end, years from now and in their memoirs, I hope Obama's enemies come to appreciate him as just another flawed human individual, just like them, who spent eight years volunteering to stand in the middle of a sh*t storm, much of which was not of his making, and did his best while treating these people with a respect and jaunty humor that they probably didn't deserve.

He's been a fair President, at best.

But these evaluations require decades of seasoning.

Bobby, tony suggests why a fervent defense of food stamps might be taken as having a racial component. However, I was just trying to list up a few things where it wasn't a question of Obama being an angry black man, but things that might have limited his ability to oppose or follow through. My impression is that although the WH opposed food stamp cuts, it seemed very pro forma and it looks like they are not doing much on the stalling front

As I said, I'm not completely up on all the machinations, so perhaps the WH did wage a battle against the SNAP cuts, but from my distant perspective, a lot of Obama's 'we can disagree but not be disagreeable' vibe comes from not being able to confront the Republicans toe to toe. And I think that stems in part from the fact that he is constrained.

Yeah, it's not as if anyone ever called Obama "The Food-Stamp President", now is it?

And he's just getting the same treatment as generations of white presidents that had their birth certificates examined in microscopic detail, because it was just INCONCEIVABLE that they could be a Native Born American.

a lot of Obama's 'we can disagree but not be disagreeable' vibe comes from not being able to confront the Republicans toe to toe. And I think that stems in part from the fact that he is constrained.

he's also constrained by the reality of the office he holds.

a President can't, in reality, make Congres pass anythign it doesn't want to. and the GOP, driven by an explicit desire to make him fail, gets a big say in what passes Congress and what doesn't.

chronic overestimation of the power of the Presidency is endemic in this country.

"a President can't, in reality, make Congres pass anythign it doesn't want to."

But he can, apparently, sign a law, and immediately announce his intention to violate it.

Why sign it? He didn't have to. Just to underscore how much contempt he has for the rule of law? Just to spit in the face of the branch of government that enacts the laws he swore an oath to faithfully execute?

I could see not signing, and arguing that the law was unconstitutional. A crock, but still, I could see it. But, why sign it?

Obama knew this thread was beginning to peter out, so he wanted to juice it a bit.

Maybe he looked at his staff as the pen hovered over the document, and said: "Let's give Bellmore some red meat and see what he does with it."

It sounds to me like there is some precedent for this kind of thing regarding the discretion of the Administrative branch and its reception of Ambassadors from sovereign nations, but I know nothing.

Maybe the fact that the Iranian government still receives our Ambassadors after all of our mucking about in their affairs through the years had something to do with it.

As far as spitting goes, if Ted Cruz was the chef of a restaurant, I'd wouldn't order the loogieburger there, for you never know for whom the chef expectorates.

chronic overestimation of the power of the Presidency is endemic in this country.

very fair point.


Note some of the comments in Brett's link. Just saying.

Heck, I could post a link to this joint, most places, and people would say the same.

Again, he signed the bill, something he has no need to do, and announced his intention to violate it.

Why sign it, if he was going to violate it? I cannot see any good reason to sign a bill you don't intend to enforce.

He could have said, "This law is unconstitutional, Congress has no authority over this subject.", refused it his signature, and said he would ignore it as unconstitutional.

He could have said, "This law 'passed' by a voice vote, which I do not take as evidence a quorum was actually present, and so I view it as no law at all." refused it his signature, and violated it.

But he signed it. Can you give me a good reason to sign a bill you mean to violate?

Sure looks like an expression of contempt from this side of the fence.

Contempt for whatever side of whatever fence Ted Cruz lives on is a noble sentiment.

From TPM: Obama followed George W. Bush's example in noting the type of legislation limited his "constitutional discretion" to receive or reject ambassadors, and deemed it merely "advisory."

TPM is wrong, of course: you can't follow Dubya's example if you're not a white Republican.

--TP

"Sure looks like an expression of contempt from this side of the fence."

More.

Contempt for the contemptible.

But he signed it. Can you give me a good reason to sign a bill you mean to violate?

Signing bills and then immediately explaining how you don't plan to enact/enforce the law as written is an august presidential tradition dating back into the mists of time, by which I mean to Reagan. Don't play coy, Brett. Presidential signing statements are nothing new, and they sure as hell didn't spring full-grown from Obama's brow.

Presidential signing statements are nothing new, and they sure as hell didn't spring full-grown from Obama's brow.

Yeah, but they were Not Good when Bush did them. Are they all of a sudden OK, now?

No. They were bad when Reagan did them. They were bad when Bush père did them. They were bad when Clinton did them. They were bad when Bush fils did them absolutely to death. So of course they're still bad. But the fact that there bad doesn't justify Brett's tone of incredulous bewilderment at the very notion of a president signing a law and then stating they didn't intend to execute it as written. Signing statements are an abominable manifestation of the impulse to imperial presidency, and should be repudiated whenever they arise. However, they should be decried as scions of that foul lineage, and not as some hitherto unseen awfulness. Attacking each statement in a vacuum lets the conversation devolve, as it does here, into an attack on a scurrilous would-be dictator undermining the traditions of the office of president, and elides the inconvenient observation that the traditions of the office of president have come to include such scurrilous behavior.

Tone and context matter.

(Tone matters, so yeah, my bombastically purple prose Is Significant, though the significance is left as an exercise for the reader. Also, "there bad"? Really?!?)

"However, they should be decried as scions of that foul lineage, and not as some hitherto unseen awfulness."

That's a hell of a sentence.

Sure looks like an expression of contempt from this side of the fence.

Would that be the same side of the fence that Cliven Bundy is standing on?

LJ:

from my distant perspective, a lot of Obama's 'we can disagree but not be disagreeable' vibe comes from not being able to confront the Republicans toe to toe. And I think that stems in part from the fact that he is constrained.

Huh. That is another one of the things I like about him. I thought he brought a level of civility to the discourse that was otherwise lacking.

I've always thought it stemmed from him thinking the political arena was too polluted and vitriolic to get anything done, and being restrained and careful was his way of calming things down.

Or alternatively, letting his foes burn themselves as the congressional republicans did with the shutdown.

I've never read (and am still unconvinced I should) a racial component into it, I just thought that was part of his character.

NomVide:

I agree with your 11 PM. Far, far, far too often the conversation devolves to a nuanced understanding of why "our side" did something and blind outrage when "your side" does something.

It is perhaps more important to protest the improper actions of "our side" when they happen, even if you continue to support the candidate in general.

Where, 'our side' and 'your side' aren't meant to be specific, but general. The pronouns in that piece are atrocious, but hopefully you can get my drift.

Are they all of a sudden OK, now?

As always, it depends. Insofar as this "act" is a direct challenge to a power explicitly granted to the president in the U.S. Constitution, I would say yes.

Now he could have vetoed it like Brett wants, but that would initiate a political shitstorm, and would place the Democratically controlled Senate in the cross hairs of a political embarrassment.

So he signed the bill and said he would ignore it. Easy squeasy.

Most likely, the GOP held House will sputter and do nothing.

This was truly a remarkably bad piece of legislation. Emotionally, I'm really kinda' with Brett on this one. He should have spit on the paper, crumpled it up, and yelled, "F#ck you Congress! You f&cking asshats!" and then ground it up beneath his heel.

The the 'angry black man' meme would be there front and center. A controlled experiment if you will.

I look forward to the House voting impeachment...oh, wait, they are a bunch of political cowards, and it will not happen.

Let's move on to more important matters.

Thanks.

"I thought he brought a level of civility to the discourse that was otherwise lacking."

Right. That whole “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” thing? Very civil.

I think you're confusing not getting red in the face and jumping up and down, for civility.

Oh, and did somebody forget to pay the rent?

"Would that be the same side of the fence that Cliven Bundy is standing on?"

Well, crouching down just behind the women, who will take the first fusillade. Sort of a variation on Limbaugh's feminazi theme -- honey, if they shoot you, try to fall on me so I remain hidden. And while you're up, would you bring me a beer? This drought is killing more than cattle, or am I all hat?

Now ladies, make of yourselves a fenceline.

Turns out maybe Bundy's foreskinfathers maybe didn't own the so-called Bundy Ranch before even the early 1950s, let alone the BLM land, which if he THINKS he owns the latter, then I guess he owes back property taxes to his County Assessor on it, a level of government he CLAIMS he recognizes, but that was last week.

America, the only country in history done in by pure bullsh*t stupidity.

Sheriff Richard Mack drove his heavily armed militia c8cksuckers to the freedom fete on Federal tarmac, which is mine.

The bridges he drove under are mine. The bridges I stood on, and from which I had his head in my gun sights.

His wife can be shot later, if those are his druthers, or maybe she'd prefer to be out from under his jackboot to canoodle with a real American.

Next time he's not going to make it.

But he can, apparently, sign a law, and immediately announce his intention to violate it.

untrue.

signing statements are primarily the Executive's primary way of explaining why a bill's implementation will be challenging or impossible (ie. doing so would violate the constitution).

I could see not signing, and arguing that the law was unconstitutional. A crock, but still, I could see it. But, why sign it?

bills are rarely one narrow instruction. they are generally packed full of all kinds of things: some simple, some complex, some limited to one narrow bit of law, some potentially far-reaching, some potentially unconstitutional. a signing statement that says this bit here is a problem is neither "intention to violate" nor is it illegal, imperial or undemocratic. it's the way the Executive (which has to execute the law) tells Congress that the law is flawed but that the flaw can be worked around - while preserving all the rest of the bill.

for example:


Today I have signed into law H.R. 1105, the "Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009." This bill completes the work of last year by providing the funding necessary for the smooth operation of our Nation's Government.

As I announced this past Monday, it is a legitimate constitutional function, and one that promotes the value of transparency, to indicate when a bill that is presented for Presidential signature includes provisions that are subject to well-founded constitutional objections. The Department of Justice has advised that a small number of provisions of the bill raise constitutional concerns.

Foreign Affairs. Certain provisions of the bill, in titles I and IV of Division B, title IV of Division E, and title VII of Division H, would unduly interfere with my constitutional authority in the area of foreign affairs by effectively directing the Executive on how to proceed or not proceed in negotiations or discussions with international organizations and foreign governments. I will not treat these provisions as limiting

etc..

"Oh, and did somebody forget to pay the rent?"

Why, do you have some virtual cattle you wanted to graze for free in this space?

You're gonna need some taller and wider women to serve as bunkers, if that's your plan.

I suspect lj and company decided this parcel of the internet frontier is theirs now, free and clear, no more effing landlords.

Oh, and did somebody forget to pay the rent?

No, we apparently neglected to varnish the cache server.

All better now.

Now ladies, make of yourselves a fenceline.

Women and children first!

Also, it appears that Bundy's understanding of his family history may be inaccurate at certain key points.

I guess you go to war for the cause celebres you have, not the ones you wish you had.

George Harrison quipped in 1964, eying the Beatles staff and press reps and probably thinking of Buddy Holly's fate as the Beatles were being tossed around in heavy turbulence on a plane over America, "Larry, if anything happens to this plane, it's Beatles and children first!"

No children on board either, so there you go.

"bills are rarely one narrow instruction."

But this one was.

But this one was.

it was indeed.

but, more importantly, nowhere did Obama say he intends to "violate" it. what he said was, (quoting W, no less) "‘curtailing by statute my constitutional discretion to receive or reject ambassadors is neither a permissible nor a practical solution.’ I shall therefore continue to treat section 407, as originally enacted and as amended by S. 2195, as advisory in circumstances in which it would interfere with the exercise of this discretion."

in other words, thanks for the advice, but Constitutionally speaking, Congress can't do what it thinks it can.

remember when you used to think the Constitution must be the ultimate law of the land? i do.

and this is what the bill's champion (Ted Cruz) had to say about Obama's signature:

“This is a great moment of clarity from the House, Senate, and White House,” Cruz said. “We have shown the world that when confronted with virulent anti-Americanism, we can stand together in defense of our national security. The combined bipartisan support of both the Congress and the president sends Iran—and other rogue nations—the clear signal that the United Nations is not a back door through which they can attack the United States of America.”

such tyranny. much violence.

Brett:

Right. That whole “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” thing? Very civil.

I wouldn't say its uncivil. I tire of the constant back and forth between R and D: YOUR metaphor was too violent! No, YOUR metaphor was too violent! No, YOUR metaphor was too violent infinity! etc etc

I think that rhetoric can be too heated at times. I think using metaphor or movie quotes can sometimes go too far in that direction. But I don't think this was really it:

Chozick, June 13, 2008: He [Obama] warned that the general election campaign could get ugly. “They’re going to try to scare people. They’re going to try to say that ‘that Obama is a scary guy,’ ” he said. A donor yelled out a deep accented “Don’t give in!”
“I won’t but that sounded pretty scary. You’re a tough guy,” Obama said.
“If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” Obama said. “Because from what I understand folks in Philly like a good brawl. I’ve seen Eagles fans.”

I still think Obama doesn't contribute much to the vitriol that fills the political sphere. That incident doesn't strike me as uncivil.

If your job is to talk every day and you want to stay sort of interesting, you're probably going to use some colorful language at some point. I have zero problem with that on either side of the fence, and I don't consider it uncivil.

Obama rarely resorts to using his bully pulpit to demonize his political opponents. Or at least less often than many.

Perhaps you disagree, but that incident doesn't really sway me.

Why sign it? He didn't have to. Just to underscore how much contempt he has for the rule of law? Just to spit in the face of the branch of government that enacts the laws he swore an oath to faithfully execute?

Because Ted Cruz is an assclown, and it's not worth Obama's time to get in a pissing match about it. He has more important things to do.

So, contempt maybe, but not necessarily for the rule of law.

FWIW, signing statements go back, apparently, to Monroe. Who was President from 1817-1825.

Yeah, but they were Not Good when Bush did them. Are they all of a sudden OK, now?

Not all signing statements are alike. Regardless of who is issuing them.

"I'm going to torture people if I damned well want to".

"Sorry, he's an ambassador, I'm letting him in".

Not really the same.

I tire of the constant back and forth between R and D: YOUR metaphor was too violent!

Some folks actually do bring guns. Guess who they are.

If you want to be tired of something, be tired of that.

"but, more importantly, nowhere did Obama say he intends to "violate" it."

Oh, BS. That's what "treat as advisory" means: "I'm going to pretend this law is just a suggestion, and not take it."

Let's be clear about what happened: Congress passed a law directing that Hamid Abutalebi not be permitted entry into the US, and nothing else. Obama signed it, and announced that he WOULD allow him entry into the US.

The law did not suggest that he not be allowed entry, or propose that he not be allowed entry, or any other weasel word. It flatly forbade it.

I can see an argument for the law being unconstitutional as a bill of attainder. I can see an argument for it being unconstitutional as a usurpation of Presidential power. (A much weaker argument, given his oath of office.) I can see an argument that it was passed by a voice vote, and that without evidence a quorum was actually present, it isn't really legitimately passed.

I can see plenty of arguments for declaring it to be unconstitutional. In which case the right thing to to is to not sign it.

But sign it, and then announce that you're going to violate it? No, that's just giving the rule of law the finger.

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