Posts Tagged ‘Pres. Shrub’

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother;
–William Shakespeare, from Henry V

In my mind, the part that says “sheds his blood with me” should be “sheds his blood for me”. See in modern warfare everyone doesn’t fight in wars–at least not in the U.S. We have the luxury of having standing armies. But that doesn’t relieve us as fellow citizens of our obligations to those who do fight. Apparently U.S. Senate Republicans have forgotten that.

Senate Republicans voted down a VA spending bill.  Only Democratic Senators and two Republicans voted for the bill. The opposed Republicans argued that 1) it’s borrowed money and that’s bad policy, 2) the VA is wasteful so why extend its mission if it’s already failing, and 3) they wanted new sanctions against Iran tagged onto the bill because they couldn’t get it to the floor for debate any other way.

There’s so much there to lambaste….where to start. I’ll try to keep it simple.

1) Borrowed Money BS: The GOP has the nerve to bitch about borrowed money when they supported TWO wars and borrowed money to fund them. Hell they didn’t even budget for them until Pres. Obama came into office and insisted that we put the expense on the books and start paying for them. You, know, to do the grown up thing. Both wars cost us $4 trillion with tens of billions wasted and ended up lining the pockets of big corporations like Halliburton and Xe. You know Halliburton the company that Dick Cheney used to run and Xe, formerly known as Blackwater, who provided soldiers for hire when we ran out of troops.

So now these same guys are now refusing to pass a bill that would take care of the very veterans that fought in those wars because it would cost us $21 billion over 10 years. Now realize this new bill restores pension money that was previously promised to veterans and upon which many military familes were planning on having upon retirement. Congress only recently took a part of their pension away–so they could give it back–they never should have taken it in the first place. The bill also sought to expand benefits like caretaker stipends. You know for all those soldiers so wounded from IED’s that they need constant care while their beleaguered spouses have to now work just to survive. Did you know that the military spent $103 million on food stamps in 2013, which was a 5% increase from the year before, and that the usage of food stamps by military families has quadrupled since 2006? That’s because base pay for a soldier with a wife and one kid is $20,000. That’s nothing in today’s economy.

2) VA failing in its mission: Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) actually said “If the VA is already failing to meet its obligations to veterans, is it wise to extend its mission even further?” Oh, do you mean like we were losing in Iraq and extended what we were told would be a “get in, get out” kind of thing? Like when Pres. Bush declared mission accomplished but the war actually lasted 10 frigging years and the country is still experiencing chaos? The hypocrisy is so thick, you could cut it with a knife.

3) Iran sanctions: Do you hear that loud drum beat? That’s the war hawks in the Republican party pounding the drum for war in Syria and/or Iran. They think if they appear to be “strong” then it will make the President look “weak” in comparison. It’s why we’re seeing so many conservative articles online comparing Pres. Obama and Vladimir Putin and praising Putin for his “direct” approach. It’s a two pronged strategy: make him look weak and deny him any peaceful foreign policy solutions. And voila, we’ll have a very profitable war–profitable for them and their ilk but not so much for our military, our national budget, or well for anyone other than the warmongers and the companies that grease their palms. They are so desperate to deny Pres. Obama any political successes that they want to sabotage the already working negotiations with Iran. So they want to sabotage the peaceful solution we are currently engaged in and willing to risk a boots on the ground war with Iran for the sake of getting over politically on the President. Weren’t these the same assholes who demanded that liberals put country first any time we criticized the previous administration? Yes, yes they are.

The problem here is that Americans aren’t paying attention. They aren’t hearing this hypocrisy, at least for the most part. I certainly hope that military families are seeing and hearing the BS coming from the GOP, because if they don’t, these idiots will be voted back into office at the next midterm elections. Wake up America.

Sources:

http://www.brendan-nyhan.com/blog/gop-dissent-attacks.html

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/370782/value-putin-victor-davis-hanson/page/0/1

http://thinkprogress.org/world/2014/02/04/3244781/rohrabacher-mccain-graham/

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/why-soldiers-are-increasingly-relying-on-food-stamps/

http://item.liveleak.com/2/view?i=e4e_1393543001&comments=1

http://www.kcet.org/living/food/food-rant/a-reminder-military-families-use-food-stamps.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/federal_government/senate-rejects-far-reaching-veterans-affairs-bill/2014/02/27/1d10801c-a001-11e3-b8d8-94577ff66b28_story.html

This post is the result of a “discussion” on Facebook between some self-proclaimed libertarians and their accusations that Obama Supporters ignored a long list of things about the President–cool aid drinking and all that.  I couldn’t answer their “list of things” on Facebook so I will address them one by one on my blog.  Unbeknownst to these libertarians, they don’t understand that Obama Supporters really do consider these “things” and think them through.  We just come to different conclusions than they do.  Maybe this series of posts will open their mind and allow them to see how a “liberal thinks” (like observing us in the wild maybe /snark) but I won’t hold my breath.  At the very least, maybe someone will be a little more informed, which is all good.

What is the NDAA and who signed it into Law?

Okay, some history because it matters. The original AUMF 1 of 2001 (passed by Congress, signed by G.W. Bush) was to be used against Terrorists. It allowed Pres. to use all “necessary and appropriate force” against those that perpetrated or harbored those who perpetrated in Sept 11th. This has been interpreted to mean that the Feds could use warrantless wiretapping, even against American citizens and later interpreted by G.W. Bush for the purposes of indefinite detention and to justify the use of Military Tribunals to prosecute terrorists in Guantanomo Bay 2. There was another AUMF in 2002 that was used to invade Iraq. In 2011, Congress proposed another AUMF that allowed for the indefinite detention by the Military of any accused terrorists.

Critics charged that the way the law was written, indefinite detention could be used against American citizens. This third AUMF renewed the 2001 AUMF with even more expansive language on who the Feds could target. So in addition to  those who were responsible for 9/11, they targeted anyone who substantially supports Al Qaeda, the Taliban or associated forces. Last thing it did was put restrictions on the Excecutive Branch’s ability to transfer detainees out of Guantanamo  This third AUMF was not passed on it’s own but included in a larger Dept of Defense budget bill in 2012, called the The National Defense Authorization Act, signed by President Obama.

All of these bills and provisions were begun by Congress, passed unanimously by conservative Senators and Representatives and some liberal defectors. They are, for the most part, Congress giving powers to the Executive Branch. President Obama openly spoke of his problems with the powers that Congress seemed so awfully eager to give him. The Supreme Court and the lower courts had already stated that the AUMF 2001 was considered Constitutional. The President had no qualms re-newing those provisions. But in regards to detaining citizens and other provisions not addressed by the Supreme Court, he was very, very concerned–Concerned enough to openly threaten a veto. In the end he created a signing statement, in which he said:

“The fact that I support this bill as a whole does not mean I agree with everything in it. In particular, I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation, and prosecution of suspected terrorists….under section 1021(e), the bill may not be construed to affect any “existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States.” My Administration strongly supported the inclusion of these limitations in order to make clear beyond doubt that the legislation does nothing more than confirm authorities that the Federal courts have recognized as lawful under the 2001 AUMF. Moreover, I want to clarify that my Administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens.

He also had other problems with the bill, such as Congress preventing him from transferring Guantanamo detainees to U.S. soil so they could be prosecuted criminally, which in turn prohibited him from being able to close Guantanamo . Furthermore, if he didn’t sign the bill it also meant that our active soldiers, veterans and their families would have gone unpaid and unsupported. Beyond the moral implications of not taking care of them, there is a practical consideration too. You don’t just stop paying your soldiers 3, particularly in the middle of two wars.  Unfortunately his signing statement does not in any way bind future Presidents. And that’s really where the problem lies.

Now I want to know why Pres. Obama’s critics want to pin this on him and him alone? The two other branches have created and supported these hideous laws. How is the Executive supposed to control that in a legal manner? He can’t except through veto power.   At the time the NDAA was being passed the Senate had enough votes and the House would have likely found the votes to override his veto ( remember this is when Republicans were reflexively doing the opposite of what the President wanted). Then it would have become law without ANY limitation statements being added (i.e., the change in language that says not construed to affect any existing law regarding detention of citizens) AND without the signing statement, little comfort as that may provide. It’s still better than nothing, which is what the veto would have gotten us.

It confuses me when conservatives critics call the President a dictator (or Hitler) because of the NDAA and yet demand he act like a dictator to stop passage of the law.  You can’t have it both ways.  He’s a real President abiding by how our system works and following the rules.  This often constrains him as much as helps him (or any President that gives a damn about the Constitution–G.W. Bush couldn’t even spell the darn word much less abide by it).  It also means that we end up with abominations like the NDAA sometimes and the process to reverse such things is drawn out and very frustrating.

So in the end, I don’t blame President Obama for the NDAA but I do very much oppose it. I also believe that his signing statement is sincere. On the other hand, I have no confidence whatsoever that any conservative of either party or even a center-Democratic President would have such reservations or abide by the signing statement 4. Indeed American history has shown us time and time again, that regardless of which party controls the Executive Branch, once that Branch is granted powers, that Branch never gives it up unless forced to 5. Therefore, critics of President Obama on this particular issue need to be pressuring those idiots in Congress and/or hope that some more liberally minded Justices get appointed to the Supreme Court.  Otherwise, every four years habeas corpus could be threatened anew.  That’s not how it’s suppose to be.  But blaming President Obama alone for it, is simplistic and distracting.

Notes:

1. Authorization for Use of Military Force
2. On the issue of the Military Tribunals, SCOTUS rejected this argument so technically it doesn’t include that power.
3. That’s what happened just after the American Revolution and almost caused our very young country to experience a military coup, wherein the unpaid veterans of the Continental Army met to find out how they could force Congress to pay them. Washington went becasue he wanted to give input and because he was afraid that violence might result. During the meeting the Veterans discuss a coup and proposed that Washintong be made King…he declined, calmed the veterans assuring them that Congress would deliver and our democracy survived.
4. The 2011 version of the AUMF was sponsored by Sen. John McCain, former Presidential candidate–phew, thank God it was Obama who in won in 2008. As for Romney, the guy who was once again advocating for the use of torture, he wouldn’t have thought twice suspending Habeas Corpus. So any conservative that supported Romney or told you Romney was more in support of Liberty than Pres. Obama because of NDAA is just plain wrong. And on the issue of Romney’s views on Liberty and women’s rights…I’d supposedly be free under a Romney admin but the government could shove things into me without consent and they can condemn me to death or a lifetime of obligation, expense, effort, etc I do not want if I just so happen to be pregnant.  That sounds an awful lot like slavery to me.  But I digress….
5. Hence the War Powers Resolution of 1973

Well, not really a movie, a vlog to be precise. This is a new feature. I plan to post one new video per week on my new Youtube channel.  The entire thing is probably about 45 minutes if you listen to the entire thing but if you want to view just parts of it at a time, you can do that as I have divided it into somewhat topical sections (see individual links below).

Mostly I will be simply commenting on the past week’s events, public and private, but hope to supplement with some pre-scripted, more polished videos that will give you a good chuckle.

Let me know what y’all think!

June 16, 2012 Weekly Vlog Parts

Introduction:  I Promise I Am Not Homeless

Part 1:  Hot Time in the City

Part 2:  The Funny and the Bizarre

Part 3:  Why the MSM sucks

Part 4:  Vagina, Boo!

Part 5:  There is no line

Part 6:  Respect, Can We Get Some?

Conclusion:  Happy Stuff

Bob Cesca has a very good article about the filth being spewed by Crossroads GPS, a non-profit group espousing GOP talking points and pushing their agenda. It’s run by Karl Rove (GW Bush’s former strategist by whom he received the nickname “Turdblossom”-I kid you not). One of the most important things you need to know about Crossroads is that they can spend unlimited funds on elections and they do not have to reveal their donor list. But that’s okay, we already know is is donating….the same assholes who have donated to every major election over the last few years…people like the Koch Brothers. The nest thing you need to know is that their ads outright lie. The one that Bob dissects cost $7 million and is once again trying to pin the debt problem on President Bush. Bob does a great job do wading through the bullshit so you don’t have to.

I am seeing a few articles about the ad in the MSM but very journalists and pundits are actually explaining where the debt came from and the fact that the ad is completely false. This is a major failure on their part. I understand they don’t want to take side but they are obligated to report facts, not just interpretations of fact or, as in this case, outright lies. They’re not supposed to be stenographers. And their failure is not just on a professional level, they also fail in imagination. Why can’t they think up a simple way to explain why the debt isn’t the President’s fault or at least explain where the debt comes from. Here is how simple it is, from a very smart person and frequent commenter on Bob’s site that goes by the name of GrafZeppelin127

I take over a company where my predecessor ordered and had installed $10,000 worth of office furniture, but didn’t pay for it and didn’t put it on the balance sheet for last year. I show up on my first day and find on my desk a bill for $10,000, plus interest. So I write a check and pay that bill. Who “spent” that $10,000, me or my predecessor?

Time goes on and I discover that there are a lot of unpaid bills that my predecessor left me, and took out some loans that weren’t reflected on the balance sheets for those years. So I start paying those bills and servicing those debts, but at the same time I still have to spend money to run the company, pay my employees, replenish supplies, etc. So even though the cost of running the company hasn’t really changed, it looks like I’m spending a lot more because I’ve got all those unpaid bills to pay and all that debt to service. And if my revenues don’t add up to what I’m paying in operating costs + unpaid bills + debt service every month, I have to borrow more.

And all along, my shareholders lionize my predecessor and accuse me of spending too much. Yet I’m actually the one being “fiscally responsible.”

Boy, I would hate to be the new manager, wouldn’t you? I don’t always agree with Pres. Obama but on this issue I have to say I have considerable sympathy for the crappy situation he was handed by G.W. and the blame he now suffers from Turdblossom and his GOP ilk.   But Turdblossom and the GOP aren’t the only culprits we need to call out. They have been greatly aided by American economic ignorance and a widespread professional failure on the part of the MSM. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Our democracy cannot survive without a healthy Fourth Estate and right now, it is on life support.

Sources:

http://thedailybanter.com/2012/06/starving-the-beast-and-karl-roves-awful-new-commercial/

http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jun/05/news/la-pn-in-latest-onair-salvo-crossroads-gps-blasts-obama-on-debt-20120605

http://bobcesca.com/blog-archives/2012/06/starving-the-beast-karl-rove-style.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

You might be shocked to learn that there is another reason to despise former President G.W. Bush and his gang of Neocons*…then again, maybe not. Jon Stewart had the author Trita Parsi on his show Thursday night to promote a new book entitled, “A Single Roll of the Dice” about American Diplomacy with Iran from 2003 to the present day.

You really should see the entire interview but in case you don’t have time, let me give you an important piece of information. This information is crucial to know when considering war with Iran in the near future as so many politicians, from both parties, seem to be advocating (Sen. McCain I am looking at you).

Pres. Bush received a letter in 2003 from the Iranian leaders that offered to sit down at the negotiating table giving us every concession asked for. Yes, you read that right. They offered to stop enriching uranium, to stop supporting jihadist groups, to stop interfering politically in neighboring countries, to stop threatening Israel, etc. It was the motherload, the holy grail, of foreign relations–a peaceful end to a long and ugly diplomatic battle to restrain and contain the destructive theocratic government of Iran. Most likely they were afraid we would invade them.  They had reason to fear such plans, as you will soon find out.

You know what the President Bush’s response was? He ignored it. You know why? We had just invaded Iraq and he felt that was so darn successful that we ought to do the same to Iran and we could get even more than they were willing to concede in the letter. Many people, myself included, would have advised that we take the offer because we the jury was still out on Iraq and I was never entirely convinced that war with Iraq was even necessary.

The whole point of Iraq was, at the time, because we thought they had WMD and thought they had ties to Al Qaeda….at least that’s what they told us. When that turned out not to be true, that’s when we learned that there was a bunch of Neocons (such as VP Cheney**, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, and many more) were advising President Bush to invade for the purpose of regime change and the other reasons, if true–great. But if not true, “too bad, so sad”.  The typical response from these Neocons to such criticism was, “Well Saddam was evil and needed to go anyway.”  Have you heard this from people around the U.S.?  I have and I know they are simply parroting the same Neocon talking point that the GOP and Fox News propaganda machine (FOPGOX as I like to call them) had been drilling into their viewers minds to make it a little bit easy to swallow the disaster that Iraq had become.

Using Neocon logic, I can make a very long list of leaders that are evil and need to go.  But are we REALLY going to invade every one of those countries? That would be pure insanity. And yet, this is the reasoning Neocons through FOPGOX have used and are now pushing with Iran. And the problem is that this concept is leaking into the center of politics, now heard in the stump speeches of former centrist politicians like Mitt Romney and Pres. Obama (although to be fair the President is simply saying that the military option is on the table, he is not advocating for war). However, even just having the military option on the table is dangerous because it is a possibility–a possibility that is making the Neocons and their associated war profiteers (Halliburton, I’m looking at you) salivate at the prospect.

It also makes us much more vulnerable to the machinations of Israel.  If Israel were to get  into an armed conflict with Iran, we would be very hard pressed not to support  them with military forces, especially since our current President has admitted to leaving that option reluctantly open and the GOP alternatives are all eagerly clamoring for it.  I can imagine a worst case scenario where Prime Minister Netanyahu leads Israel this year to a first strike against Iran for the purposes of not only stopping their uranium enrichment project, which is real, but also to influence our November 2012 election.  This is a horrible thought, but it is a possibility since the conservative coalition that Netanyahu represents in Israel has never liked or trusted Pres. Obama.  The Prime Minister has already returned to Israel and said that our timetables for dealing with Iran are different.

Allaying fears of any imminent action, Mr. Netanyahu told the commercial Channel Two that stopping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons capability was “not a matter of days or weeks.” But he added, “It is also not a matter of years.

In other words we would prefer to wait until after the election and they would not.  So comforting that it will be a matter of months and not years. Thanks for that Israel.

I am less much less eager to waste more lives and treasure on such endeavors now or even next year. We are the U.S….we are not supposed to be the invaders nor warmongers. We should be the protectors of democracy, the keepers of the holy flame of liberty.  If we can  solve something peacefully, we should do everything possible to do so.  We should not be involved in the ugly conflagration of regime change via military conflict, which is what this would be.  Don’t be fooled by the talk about Iran having a nuclear weapon.  Iran doesn’t have one and there is no intelligence whatsoever to suggest that they have one or are yet capable of even making one.

So remember when you vote this November, that we had peace with Iran and the real possibility of stability in the Middle East was in our hands in 2003 and that the Republican leadership through arrogance and the Congressional Democratic leadership*** through ignorance and naivete chose war and conflict instead.  That  Pres. Obama is seeking a peaceful solution through sanctions with the military option on the table (talking softly but carrying a big stick) instead.  I would rather have no war at all, but if given the choice of a President who openly advocates for war or one who is reluctant  to go to war, I would prefer the reluctant President.

Notes:

*A Neocon means “new conservative”, a group within the Republican party that openly advocates using military force to bring democracy to other countries, i.e., invading someplace like Iraq using any excuse they can manufacture in order to force Democracy at the end of a gun on the unsuspecting populace. They are currently behind the current drum banging for war with Iran.

**Cheney, an executive at Halliburton, profited to the tune of millions of dollars from the Iraqi invasion, among other things…but that is a book in and of itself and some may have been written on the subject

***Then Senator Obama was opposed to the invasion of Iraq but once troops were committed his opposition changed to one  of  reluctant support.  He did not want to cast votes that might under fund the troops and put them in harms way but he still wanted to express his disagreement with the war in some fashion. This is the kind of nuance that escapes most voters and is eagerly used against any nuanced politician during election campaigns.

h/t to Dan_in_DE fellow commenter over at Bob Cesca’s Awesome Blog for the oil example

The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them. – Ernest Hemingway

Let’s face it, there is a certain percentage of Americans in 2008 who did not trust then candidate Obama. After he was elected, nothing changed for them. They still didn’t trust President Obama. And nearing the end of his first term, they continue not to trust him.

The question that plagues many liberals is why and why to such an extreme degree? We’ve spent, collectively, tons of time and millions of words on this topic alone. Every time there is a new conspiracy theory on the right, it’s ugly head crops up again. Here’s an example of one of those “conspiracy of lies” adding one more brick to the wall of distrust that many conservatives have been carefully erecting for the last four years.

Item A: from the Pres The U.S. is at peak oil production and so much so that we are actually exporting more oil than we are importing. This is in part due to less driving (due to recession and more fuel efficient cars), to more drilling (and fracking, etc) permits being granted by the Federal Government within the U.S., and the increasing diversification of our energy sources (natural gas, ethanol, solar, wind, etc.). I.e., President Obama has helped the country reduce it’s dependence on foreign oil from 60% in 2005 to 45% in 2011.

Item B: from the Internet While overall use of oil has gone down, it has only gone down because of the Recession. As a percentage of the oil we use, foreign oil has actually gone up under Pres. Obama about 3%.

Okay, so a rational person would say, let me check out the data to see who is telling the truth. To verify the President’s data you should look at many federal agencies, such as the EPA, the Department of Commerce, the Port Authorities, etc, etc. To verify that the second item’s data you would look at one site (and then see it repeated and spread to other sites)–a blog by a guy by the name of Misha, who says he is an “investment advisor” for a capital management company who got his data from a reader, who’s name is Tim Wallace. We are not given any other information on this Tim–no claim to expertise, no location, no research study to read, no source for the data, at all.

So would a rational person believe Item A or Item B? Item A because 1) the data sources have a lot of expertise, that’s what they do. 2) There’s a lot of different agencies involved in determining what resources we are using and from where and then the calculation is done by yet another agency, etc. If it were a lie, it would be lie being perpetrated by thousands of people employed by the Federal Government across several states over a long period of time. That makes the odds that this is some conspiracy infinitesimally small.

But what do conservative voters believe? Item B because they just do. Let me give you another example. Take a look at the chart I made below. According to my sources of information the U.S. did not experience a Recession recently. See that line, clearly GDP has been rising so the Recession must have been a lie.

My Example:  The GDP from 1960 to Present

My Example: The GDP from 1960 to Present

Except you KNOW that the Recession wasn’t a lie. You know or have experienced yourself the economic downturn. You can see its effects everywhere. Furthermore, see that dip there in GDP? That’s the recession and it may not look like alot but remember we’re talking trillions of dollars here. Also, note that GDP only took a temporary downturn so now it is up. So I’m not lying when I say we’re not in a Recession now but that is only part of the story. So what did I do? I made the chart lie and I used some partial truths. Here is what the GDP chart REALLY looks like and the source is the World Bank, an authority on such things.

The REAL chart:  GDP from 1960 to Present

The REAL chart: GDP from 1960 to Present

Who am I? I could be anybody. What expertise do I have in regards to economics? None, but I could give myself all kinds of advanced degrees and experience and you would have to accept what I say (otherwise you would have to go to great lengths to see if my bio was real or not, which no one seems to do for many posters who claim expertise on the Internet). Plus, even the mainstream media thinks it’s okay. How often do you hear, “Some people say….”. That’s not a friggin journalistic source. My eight year old daughter often says that “time is passing so slowly” but that doesn’t mean I can say on Fox News that, “Some people say that time is slowing down.”

So we’re back to WHY do conservative voters not trust Pres. Obama–why are they more likely to believe the word of an anonymous person on the Internet but not the thousands of federal employees and their agencies, the White House staff and the President himself? In pondering this question this morning, I realized something important.

I remembered that I never trusted Pres. G.W. Bush. Back in the run up to the war in Iraq in early 2003, I asked people around me, “Do you trust him? What if he’s lying about the WMD? What if he’s lying about ties between Al Qaeda and Iraq?” A year later I read the 9/11 Commission report and knew he had lied about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda. And the country found out about that the WMD’s didn’t exist. Whether Pres. Bush lied about it is still being debated today. I, obviously, felt vindicated, but it was not all that pleasant since far too many people had lost their lives. I would have rather been wrong.

So what did I base my distrust of Pres. Bush back then? It was a predisposition on my part to distrust someone like him. That predisposition included 1) a deep disdain for silver spooners who have had everything in their life handed to them, 2) a resentment of people that fail over and over again in spectacular ways that hurt other people but still they are given a million chances to do it again, 3) he wasn’t a true southener. My experience in life has been exactly the opposite. My family has been in the South for over 200 years, before we were even a nation. Furthermore, I had to fight for every little thing in my life (but some good luck played into it too, that I don’t deny). But at some very crucial points in my life I have lost out on some incredible opportunities because a “silver spooner” got the opportunity instead. Merit had nothing to do with it, but who you know, how much money you have, and the presence of a penis did have something to do with it. And Pres. Bush was bad at everything he did in life. His time in the National Guard was a joke–they’re not even sure if he was in the state (FL I think) at the time he was supposed to be serving. He ran the Texas Rangers into the ground and then foisted the losing baseball franchise on the taxpayers of Texas. He did crappy in one of the best schools in the nation (which he never would have qualified for if not for his family). Let’s face it, if he had been from an average family, he’d be lucky to rise to the level of middle manager at some company. And if he’d been born to a poor family, he’d be lucky to manage a Fast Food Restaurant (I’m not disparaging those jobs, BTW, having worked in middle management and fast food restaurants myself on my way up the ladder).

Could conservative voters feel the same way about Pres. Obama? Do they distrust him because he seems so different from them and their experience? And if so, how so? There were three narratives about the President’s bio that were pushed into the media very effectively by the right without any legitimate proof whatsoever. There’s the Birther/Islamo-Fascist narrative, the elitist academic snob narrative, and the typical African American thug from Chicago narrative. All of these were thrown at the wall to see what stuck and surprisingly, to me and other liberals at least, all three stuck. So much so that you will often see conservatives ranging from one narrative to the other in a single conversation. Why were they so ready to believe he was a Manchurian candidate with ONLY a blurry and clearly photoshopped birth certificate online? Why were they so ready to condemn him as elitist for using bigger words than the previous President? Because they were predisposed to not trust him, and again we come back to why?

The reality is that Pres. Obama’s story is an excellent example of the American Dream, and he and I have many similarities in our life story (raised by single parent, put self through school and grad school by working and student loans, had to travel to meet father, struggled as a teen, etc). Moreover, he and I agree on many ideas about government, domestic and foreign relations, economic theories, etc. His values matched my own pretty closely. So I was predisposed to trust him. I am sure many conservative voters would say that he did not match their values and that’s why they didn’t trust him. But what are those values? They tend to be Christian–he’s a Christian. They tend to be middle class either from middle class families or from lower class families–he was, socieconomically, lower class that climbed the ladder to the middle class, until he wrote his best selling books and then he became upper class. They believe in higher education as a vehicle to move up the social ladder- so does he and he’s living proof of it. They have had to work their ass off to get where they are–so has he. They believe in the traditional family–so does he, his family is the perfect example of a healthy, traditional family. They love their Medicare and he has promised to keep it safe. They hate the deficit and so does he. What is so different about him?

Conservatives will counter with “buts…” and I can counter again with my own “howevers”. 1) “he also believes in non-traditional families”–true, however he was against a national law declaring marriage as being allowed for everyone, and proposed that states figure it out individually. 2) “he didn’t go to a traditional Christian church…he went to one preaching hate against America”–partially true, partially false, he went to a traditional African American Church that did some preaching of Liberation Theology–a very common thing in the U.S. that most white people aren’t aware of because they don’t go to black churches. 3) “he didn’t produce his actual birth certificate”–true, however no President has ever been able to get their ACTUAL birth certificate. The original is ALWAYS kept on file by the state-ALWAYS. The only way to SEE it is to get a certified copy from the appropriate state agency…which he did and which he posted on the Internet PLUS had the original certified by Hawain authorities like all the Presidents before him. Do you see what I mean?  It’s all a matter of trust.  The facts in the end don’t matter to most people.

I know what’s in my own brain and what my biases are. The problem is, the average voter probably doesn’t. That introspection is completely lacking with many conservative voters and perhaps it’s because what they might find is probably disturbing or at least should be disturbing. Their willingness to always find “buts” and look for the disimilarities, even the far out and completely untrue dissimilarities, confirms a bias. Many have said it’s racism and I think they’re right for some conservatives, who really knows how many. Could it just be a party loyalty thing? Sure. Could it be a generational thing? Sure, he is pretty young. Could it be a jealousy thing? Sure, he’s smart, he makes everything look easy and he’s made it to the big leagues whereas most people haven’t. But are any of those things enough to justify the level of distrust and in many cases hatred of him? No, I don’t think so. So after having gone through the elimination of all the things above (and many more I won’t continue to bore you with), I can’t think of anything else that’s left but racism? Can you?  This is another one of those instances where I hope I am wrong and that the American people are better than this.

Update: Evidently the Gov. handed the President a letter demanding he visit the border with her whilst wagging her finger at him and declaring that she had “saved” the border. If any of this bears out, she purposely and publicly confronted him and then blamed HIM. Nice…very classy Gov. Brewer.

Arriving in Arizona yesterday, the President had what was characterized as a “tense” exchange with Gov. Brewer. Evidently it was about something in the Governor’s book that said he had “lectured her” back in 2009 about illegal immigration. The caption on the still of their conversation (see still capture below) used by the Today Show said “Obama Confronts Arizona Governor Over Book Claims”. Now look at the picture below, what do you see there? Who is giving off confrontational non-verbal body language? The Governor is the one who is pointing her finger, speaking with a lot of emotion in her face. The President on the other hand is leaning to the side, reaching out to the side, making himself vulnerable to her…it’s a sign of conciliation, not confrontation. Afterward, the Governor gave a statement where she said that SHE felt threatened by him because she was there to “welcome him”. Then I later read that the Governor said Obama told her “that he didn’t feel I had treated him cordially.” Wow, that’s really threatening isn’t it?! /snark (take a look at the raw footage at Huffington, not that revealing except that the President didn’t look threatening from the little that I could see, I couldn’t see her at all in that raw video).

Tense Exchange Still from the Today Show

Tense Exchange Still from the Today Show

I have a few thoughts about this. From the still the President actually looks conciliatory and slightly amused by her reaction. She looks like the aggressor. All I know is that if someone got in my face with their finger pointed like that I would feel threatened–and it’s not the President who is pointing there. However, a still is not the entire conversation so without a video I can’t say any more than that. Also, we don’t know who actually brought the topic up. It might not have been Obama, as the Today Show caption indicated, but maybe it was. If he did bring it up, his intention may not have been confrontation but a desire to clear up her misconception…we’ll never know unless we were a little birdy perched on their shoulder.

Yet we can still put it into some context. Ever since the President was elected, she has been ragging on him about illegal immigration, and that’s just one of a host of issues she vehemently disagrees with him about. The President, while also strongly disagreeing with her on those issues, has offerred time and time again to meet her halfway with a compromise solution. Here’s an example of that….Back in April of 2011, Sen. McCain and Sen. Kyl layed out a grand plan for border security requesting 3,000 National Guard soldiers in addition to the troops requested back in 2009. The Governor supported their plan. Indeed her own request around the same time for 250 additional National Guard soldiers paled in comparison. The Senators and the Governor expected the Federal Government to pay for those soldiers, which I believe would be the correct thing to do. This request would have been 12 times the number of troops sent to the border at the height of the Bush Admins push to secure the border back during a previous mission called Operation Jump Start back in 2006 to 2008. Although there has been an increase in crime in the U.S. it has almost been exclusively within the drug community–meaning that those involved were in the drug trade or closely related to someone in the drug trade. But that could begin to affect legitimate citizens so it is a real concern.

Pres. Obama approved sending 1200 additional troops to the border and requested additional funding from Congress to the tune of $500 million. Moreover the U.S. Border Patrol was in the process of recruiting and hiring more agents but that takes more time than just sending existing soliders. If the President had sent the number requested by the Senators, it would have probably cost around $1 billion. Now I’m not saying we shouldn’t do it because it is expensive. I am saying that if Republicans, like Governor Brewer, Senators McCain and Kyl want the U.S. to deliver democracy around the world at the end of gun (i.e., Iraq and Afghanistan), then they had better expect that funding and troops for other needs like border security are going to get shortchanged. The U.S., while the most prosperous and productive country in the history of the world, does not have unlimited funding.

They refuse to accept that the President can’t give them all that they want because he has to deal with ALL the issues such as a two front war, the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, etc. And this would have been the case even if it had been a Republican President in office–they wouldn’t have gotten everything they wanted. As evidence that they won’t accept that he’s doing all he can do, Gov. Brewer instigated a lawsuit in federal court accusing the President of failing to enforce immigration laws or maintaining control over the border (this was basically a countersuit to the DOJ challenge to SB1070). Her accusation was patently absurd as I will show you in a minute and the suit was dismissed in Oct. 2011.

Furthermore the President, from an overall viewpoint, has been tougher than any previous administrations. President Obama’s administration deported more illegal immigrants in the first three years of his administration than G.W. Bush did in all eight of his years in office. The President has increased the number of troops on the border (as noted above) even though we really couldn’t afford it AND he continued the expansion of the number of agents in the Border Patrol begun by G.W. Bush. As of 2011 there are twice as many Agents as there were in 2004, and the majority of them (about 17,000 agents out of the total of 21,000) are on the Mexican Border.

So that’s your context…The Republican Party, with people like Gov. Brewer and Senators McCain and Kyl, demanding that he not only give them everything they want on the Border in addition to demanding just some of the following from President Obama and his adminstration:

1. continue a war in Iraq that he did not originally want
2. continue nation building in Afghanistan which he did not think was feasible and which was so ignored by the former Republican President that it was not likely recoverable
3. continue indefinite detention of enemy combatants in Guantanomo in spite of the fact that he wanted to close it and even requested that Congress fund the closing….they said no
4. continue prosecuting people using military tribunes instead of criminal courts
5. accept whatever laws the states chose to pass regarding illegal immigration (like SB1070, in spite of the fact that they were more likley unconstitutional) which forced the DOJ to fight back

And those are just the highlights. All of these things have diverted manpower and funds from important domestic problems. So it’s no wonder the President doesn’t get all warm and tingly when dealing with Governor Brewer and, quite frankly, she knows this. That’s why I think she is being manipulative and disingenuous when she felt “threatened” by the President.  If anything, I would say it was the other way around.

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