The Public Screw-Ups of the Secret Service

The Secret Service protects the First Family.  At least that's the theory.

The Secret Service protects the First Family. At least that’s the theory.

The Secret Service, like most law enforcement agencies, has a motto. Theirs is “Worthy of Trust and Confidence” but a series of incidents, both troubling and potentially tragic has blown truck-sized holes into the nation’s trust and confidence the agency is up to the job of protecting the President.

The White House is starting to look as secure as a damn McDonald’s lobby.

ITEM: An armed man who jumped the White House fence this month made it far deeper into the mansion than previously disclosed, overpowering a Secret Service agent inside the North Portico entrance and running through the ceremonial East Room before he was tackled, according to a member of Congress familiar with the details of the incident.

The man, Omar J. Gonzalez, who had a knife, was stopped as he tried to enter the Green Room, a parlor used for receptions and teas, said the congressman, Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah, the Republican chairman of a subcommittee looking into the security breach. Earlier, Secret Service officials indicated that Mr. Gonzalez, 42, had only made it steps inside the North Portico after running through the door.

According to a law enforcement official briefed on the current investigation, uniformed Secret Service officers at the White House failed to follow several of the agency’s protocols. Although the protocols call for an officer to be standing outside the North Portico door, there was no officer there as Mr. Gonzalez made his way up the steps. The officer who was stationed inside the door failed to lock it after an alarm was sounded that someone had jumped over the fence, the official said.

“At all times there is supposed to be someone at the outside and the inside of the door,” the official said. “The intruder was running so fast that he gets right past the woman who didn’t lock the door. She tries to catch him, and eventually she and another officer tackle the man to the ground, but by that time he was pretty far in.”

The US Secret Service provides security for Po...

“After we get through who’s picking up the booze and whores?” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ITEM: A security contractor with a gun and three prior convictions for assault and battery was allowed on an elevator with President Obama during a Sept. 16 trip to Atlanta, violating Secret Service protocols, according to three people familiar with the incident.

Obama was not told about the lapse in his security, these people said. The Secret Service director, Julia Pierson, asked a top agency manager to look into the matter but did not refer it to an investigative unit that was created to review violations of protocol and standards, according to two people familiar with the handling of the case who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The incident, which took place when Obama visited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to discuss the U.S. response to the Ebola crisis, rattled Secret Service agents assigned to the president’s protective detail.

The private contractor first aroused the agents’ concerns when he acted oddly and did not comply with their orders to stop using a cellphone camera to record the president in the elevator, according to the people familiar with the incident.

When the elevator opened, Obama left with most of his Secret Service detail. Some agents stayed behind to question the man and then used a national database check that turned up his criminal history.

ITEM: New details emerged recently in the Washington Post that the secret service mishandled the investigation after a man shot at the White House while Obama’s youngest daughter, Sasha, was home. According to the Post, at least seven bullets hit the building: one pierced a window on the second floor, another hit a nearby window frame and several more pinged the roof.

The president and first lady were not in the mansion at the time, but Sasha, and Michelle’s mother, Marian Robinson, were. Malia was reportedly expected to return at any moment.

An agent stationed upstairs apparently responded to the shooting, but was ordered to stand down by a supervisor who said no shots were fired. Secret service agents only realized the mansion had been hit four days later, when a housekeeper found broken glass on the floor.

The gunman, troubled 21-year-old Oscar Ortega-Hernandez, was eventually arrested and sentenced to 25 years in prison.

According to The Washington Post, “The response infuriated the president and the first lady, according to people with direct knowledge of their reaction. Michelle Obama has spoken publicly about fearing for her family’s safety since her husband became the nation’s first black president.”

“Her concerns are well founded — President Obama has faced three times as many threats as his predecessors, according to people briefed on the Secret Service’s threat assessment.”

It was one thing when upscale party crashers wormed their way into a 2009 state dinner at the White House and something else entirely when a phony sign language interpreter who was treated for schizophrenia slipped by the scrutiny of the Secret Service scrutiny to stand three feet away from President Obama during his remarks at Nelson Mandela’s eulogy. The recent cases of Secret Service agents removed from the president’s detail for drinking and cavorting with prostitutes is another black eye for the beleaguered agency.

It’s taken as an article of faith The Secret Service is always on point when it comes to protecting the president, his family and the White House. The image of the agents in the sunglasses, dark suits and earpieces is a constant when the president steps out in public and works the rope line.

Yet, it’s easy to wonder what would have happened if the recent unwelcome guests to breach the gates of the White House had sported the latest in suicide vest designer wear. Things could have turned out to been a double feature of White House Down and Olympus Has Fallen.

"Hey, Joe?  How ready are you to step in for the Black dude?"

“Hey, Joe? How ready are you to step in for the Black dude?”

Regardless of who the president is it is an issue of national importance when their safety is imperiled and particularly when it is carelessness, sloppiness, inefficiency or incompetence that puts him in harm’s way. I don’t care if it is Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush41, Clinton, Bush43, Obama or whomever is next to sit in the Oval Office. I may despise the next man or woman to become president, but I don’t want to see one killed either and certainly not because the Secret Service fell down on the job.

Nobody ever accused Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz who chairs a House sub-committee which questioned Pierson, of being a fan of Obama, but even he said, “I have deep concerns that the president is not as safe as we want and need him to be.”

I’m sure Michelle Obama would agree.

Director Pierson resigned Wednesday and that’s too bad. Obama should have fired her ass for trying to get his killed.

The Supremes Swing to the Right

We’re The Supremes!

The Supreme Court handed down their last decisions dealing crippling blows to the reproductive rights of women and labor unions. Liberals are taking some small comfort in a blistering 35-page dissent by Justice Ginsburg’s but the reasoning of the losing minority of a Supreme Court decision matters only for a day or so and then it belongs to the legal scholars and history books.

The Hobby Lobby case got all the ink and headlines because it’s a horrible slap at women and their reproductive rights, but the conservative majority stuck it to labor unions too. If these two traditionally Democratic voting blocs still want to sit on their hands (and wallets) after the gut punches Roberts and company handed them, they deserve whatever dark plans the Republicans have in store in for both of them should they retake the Senate and hold the House.

While today’s pair of horrible decisions might seem like distinct issues, in fact they are both part of a larger war on women and workers.

The absurdity of the Hobby Lobby decision (only contraceptives are exempted for religious beliefs because of sluts) is obviously part of the Republican war on women, but it is also very much a war on the poor. An IUD costs about a month’s worth of wages at the minimum wage. If an executive can’t get birth control because her employer gets too hot and bothered thinking of her having sexy time, she can afford it on her own. A Hobby Lobby floor worker? Probably not. For women workers at closely held corporations, this decision will be devastating.

The Harris case is specifically about home care workers in Illinois. Who are home care workers? Women. Poor women. Lots of African-Americans, lots of Latinos, lots of undocumented workers. Home care workers are a major emphasis for SEIU right now; a close friend of mine has spent over a decade on a campaign to organize them in one city alone. Harris threatens all of this. But moreover, it shows how little Alito and the boys care about rights for women wherever they are. It’s hardly coincidental that this case comes down the same day as the contraception mandate. The Court evidently believes that the home is not a workplace, but of course it is a workplace, especially if someone is getting paid to do work. That it is women working in the home, as it has always been, just makes it easier for conservatives to devalue that work.

Of course, it’s about more than just working women and it opens the door for Alito and Roberts’ continued desire to mandate the New Gilded Age, so no doubt we will see new challenges to public sector unionism that will probably reach the Court in 2016 or maybe 2017 at the latest. I am not a legal expert, but my guess as to why Abood wasn’t overturned entirely is that there wasn’t 5 votes for it yet.

Regardless, both of today’s decisions are very much about keeping working women without power both on the job and at home.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, U.S. Supreme Court justice.

“What? Me Retire?” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Also, when we hear in 2016 that both parties are the same because of [insert pet issue here] and therefore vote for vanity third party candidate, let us remember this day and these decisions. If you think Strip Search Sammy Alito and Ruth Bader Ginsburg are the same, you might want to rethink your positions.

Indeed.

What matters most and in fact the only thing that matters to those disappointed, dismayed and disgusted with how the Court came down in these cases is Justice William Brennan‘s Rule of Five where Brennan would hold up five fingers to his clerks and say, ”Five votes can do anything around here.”

Brennan was a prophet and the Roberts Court is the proof of it.

From 1801 to 1940, less than 2 percent of the Supreme Court’s total rulings were resolved by 5-to-4 decisions. Since then, more than 16 percent of the Court’s rulings have been decided by “minimum-winning coalitions.” In the two most recent Courts, more than a fifth of all rulings were decided by 5-to-4 votes.

Scholars consider these narrow decisions the most political. Research indicates that 5-to-4 rulings are the most likely to be overturned by later Courts. They carry the same legal authority as more unanimous opinions — but not the same moral authority. In this vein, the one branch of government designed to be above partisanship echoes the rise in hyperpartisanship seen throughout Washington.

The Roberts Court has decided more cases by a 5-to-4 ruling (about 21.5 percent) than any Court before it, though only by a narrow margin. The previous Court, led by William Rehnquist, decided 20.5 percent of its cases by this minimum coalition. That rate, however, represents roughly twice the share of 5-to-4 rulings in the Stone Court, during World War II. And the Stone Court had more than three times the rate of 5-to-4 decisions of any Court prior.

Roberts noticed the trend early in his term. “I do think the rule of law is threatened by a steady term after term after term focus on 5-4 decisions,” Roberts told The New Republic’s Jeffrey Rosen in 2006. “I think the Court is ripe for a similar refocus on functioning as an institution, because if it doesn’t, it’s going to lose its credibility and legitimacy as an institution.”

Justice Ginsburg is 81. Stephen Breyer is 75. With the Court’s term over, the speculation will begin again will either one retire while President Obama and a Democratic majority are still in power? It’s doubtful for multiple reasons.

Neither Ginsburg or Breyer’s departure tips the Court’s ideological balance. But what if Antonin Scalia (78) or Clarence Thomas (66) were to get a sudden itch to go fishing’ or spend more time with their families? Or just leave the Supreme Court to try out for The View?

Okay. It’s not gonna happen. Scalia and Thomas will announce they’re secret lovers before ever they allow Obama to appoint their replacements.

But even if one of the Justices were to suffer an untimely demise, there’s no way a Republican-controlled Senate would allow Obama to tip the axis of power of the Court to the liberal minority.

This is the current membership of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Do you think there is anyone Obama could nominate Al Franken and Ted Cruz would both vote for?

As far as Brennan’s Rule of Five goes this is a battle the Left lost years ago and it may take many years before they begin to win any.

But the last people I want to hear from are the smug elitists and professional cynics who say “there’s no difference between the Democrats and Republicans.” Yeah, sure. Look at how the justices selected by Democratic and Republican presidents voted and tell me that one again.

Don’t tell me you’re appalled (or even surprised) by the Supreme Court’s conservative majority deciding corporations have more rights than women. Tell me what you’re going to DO about it. The first thing is to vote and keep the Senate in Democratic control. That is, unless you want Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell telling President Obama whom he will allow to sit on the Supreme Court when a vacancy opens up.

"Me?  And justice?  Now THAT'S funny!'

“Me? And justice? Now THAT’S funny!’

Cornel West’s Slow Slide Into Darkness

“I love you now but I’ll hate you later.”

There used to a half-serious joke that once Michael Jackson’s skin turned White and his nose started falling off, it wasn’t the real Michael Jackson.   The real Michael was sick or locked away somewhere and this freakish clone of him was the one being wheeled out to the public.

Is that what happened to Cornel West?   There’s a guy running around who looks like him.   He sort of sounds like him if Cornel West only talked about how much he despises President Obama.    He even wears the only suit in West’s closet.   It’s too bad it isn’t a clone of Cornel West trashing his own rep while he trashes the president.   It would be even easier to dismiss him as a bitter hater than it already is.

West’s latest in a series of tiresome tirades short of any intellectual insights, but long on street-level smack talk came in an interview with Tavis “Sub-Prime” Smiley, the Iago to West’s Othello:

Smiley:  “What’s your sense of how the media, and not just Fox News but beyond that, your read as you’ve been watching this, how the media handled this case?”

West:  “I think that it’s been decrepit though, brother. I mean, you get a focus on some of the upper middle class folk. I mean, what I call the ‘rent-a-negro’ phenomenon on MSNBC.”

This is almost funny.   West snipes at his former allies, Rev. Al Sharpton and Michael Eric Dyson (and longtime adversary, Melissa Harris-Perry) for appearing on MSNBC  (a network that has given West plenty of face time) while his best buddy Smiley has whored himself out to such corporations as Wal-Mart, Exxon, Wells-Fargo and McDonald’s.  This does not trouble West as he is represented by Smiley for book publishing and speaking engagements (West earns up to $25,000  to speak).

In other words, if you got the cash, you can rent West and Smiley’s ashy asses.    If MSNBC came calling and offered West and Smiley a show, how fast would they run not walk to sign on the dotted line?

The dizzying descent of West as an intellectual has been rapid and sad to behold.  West has permitted the unscrupulous  Smiley to co-opt him into a sustained and relentless campaign of negativity and baseless criticism of President Obama and any Black person who doesn’t share West and Smiley’s opinion.

“Eff me? Eff YOU! My dear brother.”

The roots of West’s rage trace back to when Obama’s first inauguration.  West was angry Obama hadn’t personally thanked him for his support and  ensuring West was invited to the inauguration.

“There is the personal level,” he says. “I used to call my dear brother [Obama] every two weeks. I said a prayer on the phone for him, especially before a debate. And I never got a call back. And when I ran into him in the state Capitol in South Carolina when I was down there campaigning for him he was very kind. The first thing he told me was, ‘Brother West, I feel so bad. I haven’t called you back. You been calling me so much. You been giving me so much love, so much support and what have you.’ And I said, ‘I know you’re busy.’ But then a month and half later I would run into other people on the campaign and he’s calling them all the time. I said, wow, this is kind of strange. He doesn’t have time, even two seconds, to say thank you or I’m glad you’re pulling for me and praying for me, but he’s calling these other people. I said, this is very interesting. And then as it turns out with the inauguration I couldn’t get a ticket with my mother and my brother. I said this is very strange. We drive into the hotel and the guy who picks up my bags from the hotel has a ticket to the inauguration. My mom says, ‘That’s something that this dear brother can get a ticket and you can’t get one, honey, all the work you did for him from Iowa.’ Beginning in Iowa to Ohio. We had to watch the thing in the hotel.”

“What it said to me on a personal level,” he goes on, “was that brother Barack Obama had no sense of gratitude, no sense of loyalty, no sense of even courtesy, [no] sense of decency, just to say thank you. Is this the kind of manipulative, Machiavellian orientation we ought to get used to? That was on a personal level.”

What that says to me is the only thing bigger on Cornel West than the gap between his teeth and his busted-ass Afro is his ego. It’s as big as outdoors and Dear Brother Cornel likes to have his ego stroked frequently and often.

I respect Dear Brother West. I bought Race Matters by the Dear Brother because race does matter and so did his observations.. I watched the Dear Brother on television and heard the Dear Brother speak when he came to town. I believe the Dear Brother is one of our greatest thinkers.

When the Dear Brother bothers to think. He stopped doing that when he let his ego, the only thing larger than his ‘fro, slip off the leash and he turned himself into a vicious, hypocritical, small-minded hater and it seems to be no coincidence the descent from renowned intellectual to annoying crank came when another blood enemy of Obama began whispering sweet nothing in the acclaimed academic’s ears.

The Enabled and the Enabler.

West hasn’t written a meaningful book, penned a useful article or expressed an original thought since 2008 when he got butthurt over Obama not kissing his ass or give him a position of prominence in his administration as he did with West’s nemesis from Harvard, Larry Summers.

Seriously, isn’t Cornel West starting to look like a hip-hop Hobbit?

It seems the longer West hangs around Smiley the crazier he sounds.   Smiley’s enemies (Obama, Al Sharpton, Tom Joyner, Melissa Harris-Perry, Michael Eric Dyson) have become West’s enemies.  By lending his diminishing clout to Smiley, West only diminishes his own reputation and enhances Smiley.

West needs to put several time zones of distance between himself and Sub-Prime Smiley and get back to thinking like an intellectual instead of babbling like a damn fool.   If West were as smart as he believes himself to be, he’d realize Smiley is playing him the way a pimp plays a ho.

Sharpton, West, Dyson: Once friends, now foes.

Young. Gifted. Black. Gone.

Hadiya Pendleton performed for the president’s inauguration. A week later she was dead.

Hadiya Pendleton, 15, was an honor student who according to her father hated and avoided violence.

But violence is relentless in how it methodically seeks out and destroys even those who want no part of it.

A 15-year-old girl who performed at President Obama’s inauguration last week was shot dead Tuesday while hanging out with friends after school in bullet-scarred Chicago.

Hadiya Pendleton — described by family as a “walking angel” — was standing under a canopy in Vivian Gordon Harsh Park when a gunman ran down an alley, opened fire and fled in a white car, police said.

Pendleton was shot in the back but managed to run about a block before she collapsed, officer Laura Kubiak said. She died at the hospital.

 A 16-year-old boy was wounded in the 2:20 p.m. incident. Police said Pendleton, who had no criminal record, was probably not the intended target.

 “Never in a million years did I think I would get a call that my own baby had been gunned down,” Pendleton’s mother, Cleo Cowley, said through tears from her Chicago home.

“As usual, the bad guy aims, but he never hits the other bad guy . . . He hits the one that hurts the most to lose,” the victim’s godfather, Damon Stewart, 36, who is a police officer, told the Chicago Sun-Times.

“I changed her diapers, I played with her growing up. My heart is broken.”

A sophomore at selective King College Prep High School, Pendleton had traveled to Washington to perform with the band at inaugural events.

“It was the highlight of her young 15-year-old life,” Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., said Wednesday at a Senate hearing on gun violence.

“Just a matter of days after the happiest day of her life, she’s gone.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney called the shooting a “terrible tragedy” and said the Obamas were praying for Pendleton’s family.

Cousin Shatira Wilks said the inauguration trip was the talk of a family gathering around New Year’s, but the young majorette was even more excited about something else: plans to travel to Europe this spring with the band.

“She was an honor student all her life,” Wilks said. “Honestly, she was a walking angel. She never once gave her mom any problems ever.”

Young. Gifted. Black. Gone.

Young. Gifted. Black. Gone.

The day after Hadiya died, another gun victim, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords went before a Senate committee to ask Congress to actually make a tough call instead of talking a problem to death.

“Speaking is difficult,” Giffords said slowly and haltingly, “But I need to say something important. Violence is a problem. Too many children are dying. Too many children. We must do something.”

Also speaking was NRA Executive vice-president Wayne LaPierre running his usual rap about how more laws and background checks won’t stop criminals and only impede the rights of law-abiding citizens. It’s subject to debate whether LaPierre was there to testify or check on how the NRA’s money is being spent. Eight of the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have received campaign contributions from the NRA including all eight Republicans and Democratic chairman Patrick Leahy.

There is no reason to believe “something” will be done by anyone on Capitol Hill.  Stand up to the gun lobby?  Question the priorities of the NRA?  Not from a  Congress populated by dopes like Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn) who doesn’t believe the proliferation of guns is any sort of big deal.

“I’m going to wait and see on all of these bills,” Alexander said. “I think video games is a bigger problem than guns, because video games affect people. But the First Amendment limits what we can do about video games, and the Second Amendment to the Constitution limits what we can do about guns.”  Alexander, who is up for reelection in 2014 owns a 92 percent lifetime rating from the NRA.

Politicians that aren’t moved to action by White children killed in an elementary school,  aren’t about to do anything for Black children killed on the streets of Chicago.

The day Hadiya died she was one of three to be gunned down in broad daylight in the Windy City.

In 2012, while crime fell in most major cities, over 500 people were murdered in Chicago.

Thus far in 2013, over 42 people have been killed, the most violent January since 2002. Seven people were slain on one bloody Saturday.   Chicago is so segregated if you avoid the battle zones and stay in the nice neighborhoods and the tourist areas, you probably wouldn’t even notice they’re pulling bodies off the pavement two or three at a time.   If this isn’t war in the streets, it sure is claiming a body count like one.

It’s one thing to live in a war zone in Syria or Afghanistan. It’s another to live and die in a war zone in a major American city.   “This guy, whoever he was, the gunman…you took the life of my life, Nathaniel Pendleton said of his daughter, ” Just look at yourself and just know that you took a bright person, an innocent person, a non-violent person.”

As young Black people are murdered by other young Black people, I wonder if there might be more of an outpouring of outrage if there were thousands of racist Klansmen behind the mass spilling of blood across the  streets of America.

But I recall there is no law, no agency, no Constitutional right that can make someone respect human life. Self-hatred leads to self-destruction.   I could paper the walls of my house with all the editorials, essays and columns I’ve written about young people like Hadiya.   Apparently, I was writing those words for the wrong audience.

A petition has been created on the White House website requesting the president attend Hadiya’s funeral.   He really should.  She was there to commemorate his second term.    Obama should be there to commemorate her premature demise.   It’s not the most, but it’s certainly the least he can do.

I never knew you Hadiya, but I cried for you little sister.   I’m crying for you now.  Tears of pain.  Tears of anger.   Tears of bitterness.  Tears of rage.

“You know, it’s not the world that was my oppressor, because what the world does to you, if the world does it to you long enough and effectively enough, you begin to do to yourself.”

~ James Baldwin

Look familiar?  It should.

Look familiar? It should.

King’s Dream and Obama’s Reality.

obama_inauguration

Four years ago, when Inauguration Day fell and Barack Hussein Obama raised his right hand to take the Oath of Office it was a moment frozen in history.  My heart swelled with pride for my country and all that it had accomplished by electing the first African-American as President of the United States.   Four years ago it was all about Hope and Change.

Four years later, here we are at another Inauguration Day and once again it’s Obama raising his right hand, but while it is history, it’s history writ a little smaller than 2008.  Hope and Change has been superseded by Reality and Possibility.   Both Obama and the rest of the country have learned how hard it is to change the status quo of politics when it doesn’t want to be changed and while most of us are not yet cynical, we’re a bit less hopeful.

There is a powerful symmetry between the coincidence of Obama’s inauguration falling on the same day the nation observes the birthday of one of its greatest citizens, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.   It is an error of rushing to premature judgment to say the election of Obama is the culmination of King’s Dream.  King was King and Obama is not King.  He is Obama and he is a politician, one of the best politicians of our age on par with his Democratic predecessor, Bill Clinton.  Whether he rises to the level of King remains to be seen.

The president makes it plain in his second inaugural address.

The president makes it plain in his second inaugural address.

King moved America forward, but it took his untimely death and decades of unworthy, would be successors trying and failing to pick up where King left off for his vision and wisdom to be fully appreciated.

Obama has another four years to build upon what he began four years ago.  Now he knows how wide the opposition is from the Republicans in Washington and deeply entrenched the desire of the Right wing everywhere else is for him to fail.

The difference for the 2013 version of Barack Obama is he understands he is the president and he is to whom the American people turn to for leadership and a unifying plan for the future.   The president seems ready to step up in his second term to offer that leadership:

Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free.  We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together.

Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce, schools and colleges to train our workers.

Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play.

Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.

Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone.  Our celebration of initiative and enterprise, our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, these are constants in our character.

But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.  For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias.  No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores.  Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation and one people.

This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience.  A decade of war is now ending.   An economic recovery has begun.  America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands:  youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention.  My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it — so long as we seize it together.  

The Dream and The Hope.

For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.  We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class.  We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work; when the wages of honest labor liberate families from the brink of hardship.  We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American; she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.

I think King would have smiled broadly at the president’s speech.

What both King and Obama believe is government can be a tool for good, for social uplift, to provide for the general welfare, economic fairness and equality, and facilitate life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all America, not just 53 percent of it.

This isn’t King’s Dream because King’s Dream was never a one size fits all aspiration.  My dreams are not your dreams and Obama’s dreams are not King’s.   President Obama is the continuation, not the culmination of Martin Luther King’s dream.

The second time around for Obama and Roberts.

The second time around for Obama and Roberts.

 

The Humbling At Hofstra: How Obama Got His Swag Back

Brother Barack smirks while Mr. Mitt steams.

Now that’s more like it.

Fresh off his appearance two weeks ago impersonating Clint Eastwood’s empty chair, the real Barack Obama showed up for the second presidential debate and he came ready.   He had two weapons with him, one seen and the other unseen.   The first was a microphone.   The second was a gym bag full of shoes to break off in Mitt Romney’s ass.

The debate was made up the usual jabs by the candidates at each other, griping to the moderator how they hadn’t had the chance to respond to the question asked five minutes ago and a lot more give-and-take directly between Obama and Romney.   God bless Candy Crowley and her shoulder pads.  She was just the woman for the job of keeping the two men (somewhat) on point and certainly she was better at it than Jim Lehrer was in his hapless performance at the first debate.

It was a very skilful moment.  It’s the kind of moment when everything lines up in perfect political harmony.   Obama should have been put on the defensive by the Libya question.  He had successfully slipped the question, something Romney could have pointed out, but he had to rush to his pre-programmed talking points and pin the president’s ears back.   Or so he thought.

 PRESIDENT OBAMA: Secretary Clinton has done an extraordinary job. But she works for me. I’m the president. And I’m always responsible. And that’s why nobody is more interested in finding out exactly what happened than I did (sic).

The day after the attack, Governor, I stood in the Rose Garden, and I told the American people and the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened, that this was an act of terror. And I also said that we’re going to hunt down those who committed this crime. And then a few days later, I was there greeting the caskets coming into Andrews Air Force Base and grieving with the families.

And the suggestion that anybody in my team, whether the secretary of state, our U.N. ambassador, anybody on my team would play politics or mislead when we’ve lost four of our own, Governor, is offensive. That’s not what we do. That’s not what I do as president. That’s not what I do as commander in chief.

MS. CROWLEY: Governor, if you want to reply just quickly to this, please.

MR. ROMNEY: Yeah, I — I certainly do. I certainly do. I — I think it’s interesting the president just said something which is that on the day after the attack, he went in the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror. You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack it was an act of terror. It was not a spontaneous demonstration.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Please proceed.

MR. ROMNEY: Is that what you’re saying?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Please proceed, Governor.

MR. ROMNEY: I — I — I want to make sure we get that for the record, because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Get the transcript.

This was the point where a little voice in the back of Romney’s perfectly coiffed hair should have screamed, ALERT! ALERT!  Why is he so confident?  What does he know that I don’t?

Crowley, playing Miss Instant Fact Check brought Romney back to reality.

MS. CROWLEY: It — he did in fact, sir.

So let me — let me call it an act of terrorism — (inaudible) —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder, Candy? (Laughter, applause.)

A knock down, not a knock out, but all the same…

Boom! Head shot.  Romney could not have looked any more pissed if his last dividend check from Bain Capital had bounced.   Mitt will have to call up his proctologist today to see if he can get Obama’s foot extracted.

Romney’s first stumble was less severe than his first, but it was his second Big Bird moment: another “huh?” remark that resonates long everything else that was said during 90 minutes is long forgotten.

CROWLEY: Governor Romney, pay equality for women?

ROMNEY: Thank you. And [sic] important topic, and one which I learned a great deal about, particularly as I was serving as governor of my state, because I had the chance to pull together a cabinet and all the applicants seemed to be men.

And I — and I went to my staff, and I said, “How come all the people for these jobs are — are all men.” They said, “Well, these are the people that have the qualifications.” And I said, “Well, gosh, can’t we — can’t we find some — some women that are also qualified?”

ROMNEY: And — and so we — we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet.

I went to a number of women’s groups and said, “Can you help us find folks,” and they brought us whole binders full of women.

Binders full of women? Unleash the Twitter and Tumblr hounds!

It wasn’t so bad for Mitt when he pissed off Sesame Street viewers.  Kids can’t vote.  Women can and they aren’t likely to forget how Mitt ducked the question whether or not he favors pay equity for them but isn’t so shy when he declares he wants to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood or make an abortion darn near impossible to get.

Esquire’s Charles P. Pierce  summed up just how nasty Mr. Mitt was last night at Hofstra University.   If you aren’t reading Pierce you should be.  With Molly Ivins and Hunter S. Thompson no longer with us, Pierce is the sharpest (and sharpest tongued) commentator on politics we have.

But not even I expected Romney to let his entitled, Lord-of-the-Manor freak flag fly as proudly as he did on Tuesday night. He got in the president’s face. He got in Crowley’s face. That moment when he was hectoring the president about the president’s pension made him look like someone to whom the valet has brought the wrong Mercedes.

“You’ll get your chance in a moment. I’m still speaking.”

Wow. To me, this was a revelatory, epochal moment. It was a look at the real Willard Romney, the Bain cutthroat who could get rich ruining lives and not lose a moment’s sleep. But those people are merely the anonymous Help. The guy he was speaking to on Tuesday night is a man of considerable international influence. Outside of street protestors, and that Iraqi guy who threw a shoe at George W. Bush, I have never seen a more lucid example of manifest public disrespect for a sitting president than the hair-curling contempt with which Romney invested those words. (I’ve certainly never seen one from another candidate.) He’s lucky Barack Obama prizes cool over everything else. LBJ would have taken out his heart with a pair of salad tongs and Harry Truman would have bitten off his nose.

And Romney bitched endlessly — endlessly — about the rules, and why this uppity fellow on the other stool was allowed to speak before he was spoken to, and why he didn’t get to speak at length on whatever he wanted to speak on because, after all, he is the CEO of the stage. Jesus Christ, I’d hate to play golf with the man. He’s the guy who counts to make sure you don’t have too many wedges in your bag. He knows every cheap subsection of every cheap ground rule, and he’ll call you on every one of them. You couldn’t get a free drop out of him with thumbscrews, and forget about conceding any putt outside two inches. And then, on the 18th hole, with all the money on the line, he kicks his ball out of the rough and denies up and down to the rules committee that he did it. Then he goes into the clubhouse bar and nobody sits with him.

When Obama and  Crowley fact-checked Mitt in real-time about whether the president used the word “terror” in his September 12 remarks, that was a “Drop the Mic and Fold Ya Arms” moment and the Right knew it.  The blogosphere exploded with apoplectic, whiny Republicans spitting on their laptops about “the libbrul media” and Crowley for not repeating Lehrer’s imitation of a doormat.  The talking heads of Fox News said the debate was a tie.  Which means Obama won.

Well played, Mr. President. Makes me wonder who that guy who was standing up there in your spot two weeks ago.

For Obama supporters, when you get that e-mail from Barack Obama today asking “How ya like me now?” in response to his performance in the second debate, don’t just compliment him. Send him a little green. Piss off a Koch Brother.

Fear of A Black President: 22 Days until the Election

Hey, Im trying to run a respectable campaign here.

"Hey, I'm trying to run a respectable campaign here."


“This is not a man who sees America as you see it and how I see America.”

— Sarah Palin speaking of Barack Obama.


“I don’t think the United States is ready for a black person to be president,” said Lucille Anderson, 73, from Lawsonville (North Carolina)  “I think the blacks would be mean to us … they’d probably take us over.

http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2008/10/13/north_carolina/index1.html

Sarah Palin meet Lucille Anderson.  She’s your kind of American.

ITEM: If your fender says Change, don’t park here.

A parking lot owner in Gibsonville, NC, decided supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama are no longer welcome to use his property, WFMY’s Julia Bagg reported.

Lot owner Tim Henderson posted two identical signs that warned: ‘no parking’ for Obama supporters or people with Obama bumper stickers.”

“I don’t expect to go after anybody with a baseball bat,” Henderson said. “I would grin at them and laugh and ask them if they could read English.”

State workers who have used the parking lot for years complained that the new rule infringed on their rights. Some had Obama/Biden stickers in their windows.

“It’s telling me because I have a sticker or I believe in something, I’m not allowed to park here and this is where I park for work, I have to park here,” said Dave Dicke, an Obama supporter.

Henderson initially said the signs would stay up through the November election.

After a local news station reported the story, Mayor Lenny Williams made an agreement with Henderson for the removal of the signs.

“If he said Obama folks could park here, but McCain [supporters] couldn’t, I wouldn’t like that either,” Mayor Williams said.

http://rawstory.com/news/2008/NC_Parking_lot_bans_Obama_supporters_1010.html

ITEM: A Florida middle school teacher has been disciplined for writing a racially offensive phrase about Barack Obama on his classroom dry-erase board last month.

The Tallahassee Democrat reported Friday that school officials learned the teacher wrote the phrase in a 7th grade class of mostly white students.

The phrase, which invoked Obama’s campaign slogan, said, “C.H.A.N.G.E. — Come Help A Nigger Get Elected.”

According to the newspaper, the teacher, Greg Howard, was suspended for 10 days without pay and will be forced to write a letter of apology to the students. He will also be reassigned to teach in the adult education program.

http://elections.foxnews.com/2008/10/03/report-florida-teacher-suspended-racially-charged-obama-comments/

ITEM: In April, Rep. Geoff Davis, R-Ky., told the state’s annual Lincoln Day dinner that he was unimpressed with Obama’s performance during a war simulation for members of Congress and referred to Obama as “boy.”

“That boy’s finger does not need to be on the button,” Davis said. “He could not make a decision in that simulation that related to a nuclear threat to this country.

http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/westmoreland-calls-obama-uppity-2008-09-04.html

ITEM: Georgia Republican Rep. Lynn Westmoreland used the racially-tinged term “uppity” to describe Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama Thursday.

Westmoreland was discussing vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s speech with reporters outside the House chamber and was asked to compare her with Michelle Obama.

“Just from what little I’ve seen of her and Mr. Obama, Sen. Obama, they’re a member of an elitist-class individual that thinks that they’re uppity,” Westmoreland said.

Asked to clarify that he used the word “uppity,” Westmoreland said, “Uppity, yeah.”

http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/westmoreland-calls-obama-uppity-2008-09-04.html

ITEM: LAKEVILLE, Minn. – The anger is getting raw at Republican rallies and John McCain is acting to tamp it down. McCain was booed by his own supporters Friday when, in an abrupt switch from raising questions about Barack Obama‘s character, he described the Democrat as a “decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared of as president of the United States.”

A sense of grievance spilling into rage has gripped some GOP events this week as McCain supporters see his presidential campaign lag against Obama. Some in the audience are making it personal, against the Democrat. Shouts of “traitor,” “terrorist,” “treason,” “liar,” and even “off with his head” have rung from the crowd at McCain and Sarah Palin rallies, and gone unchallenged by them.

McCain changed his tone Friday when supporters at a town hall pressed him to be rougher on Obama. A voter said, “The people here in Minnesota want to see a real fight.” Another said Obama would lead the U.S. into socialism. Another said he did not want his unborn child raised in a country led by Obama.

“If you want a fight, we will fight,” McCain said. “But we will be respectful. I admire Sen. Obama and his accomplishments.” When people booed, he cut them off.

“I don’t mean that has to reduce your ferocity,” he said. “I just mean to say you have to be respectful.”

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081011/ap_on_el_pr/mccain_angry_crowds

McCain has been around the block long enough to know that passion from the audience is one thing, but anger is something else. When your own supporters are booing you for calling for civility and respect, that’s when you know this shit has gone way too far.

Palin, the empty-headed newbie,  has never been on a stage this large. She’s speaking before thousands of admirers and like a rock star, she’s riding the wave. Even if the ticket falls short next month, she has elevated her own star within the GOP and we haven’t heard the last from her.

But that doesn’t mean she knows when to pull back on the reigns and temper her criticisms with a little statesmanship. It’s not enough to simply diss Obama.  When she becomes a cheerleader for intolerance and disrespect, she’s gone way too far.

If she’s McCain “pitbull with lipstick,” he’d better know when to yank that chain before she goes too far and gets a liking for the taste of blood. Throwing red meat to the Palin pit bull and the angry crowds has its risks if McCain loses control.

Some nitwit stood up and told McCain she was afraid of Obama because he was a “Arab.”  He corrected her and said he wasn’t someone she had to be afraid of as president.

After the rally, a reporter asked the woman if McCain had relieved her fears.  She replied she thought Obama was a “Muslim.”

Ooh.  Im shaking.

McCain: "Meet me outside and I'll kick your you-know what." Obama: "Ooh. I'm shaking."

You can’t fix stupid.  You can’t solve ignorance.

Now the old fart is promising to whip Obama’s ass in the last debate Wednesday.

What a guy.  What a macho stud.

What a totally dried-up shriveled little prick.