Obama: US Will No Longer Defend the Defense of Marriage Act

Same-sex marriage in the US (for demonstration)
Same-Sex Marriage in the US

‘President Obama, in a striking legal and political shift, has determined that the Defense of Marriage Act — the 1996 law that bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages — is unconstitutional, and has directed the Justice Department to stop defending the law in court, the administration said Wednesday.

Advocates of same-sex marriage hailed the president’s decision; critics called it a politicization of the Justice Department.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced the decision in a letter to members of Congress. In it, he said the administration was taking the extraordinary step of refusing to defend the law, despite having done so during Mr. Obama’s first two years in the White House.’ (via NYTimes)

Obama’s Delusion

SDEROT, ISRAEL - JULY 23:  Presumptive Democra...

“Long before he became president, there were signs in Barack Obama of a tendency to promise things easily and compromise often.

…For Obama to do the courageous thing and withdraw would mean having deployed against him the unlimited wrath of the mainstream media, the oil interest, the Israel lobby, the weapons and security industries, all those who have reasons both avowed and unavowed for the perpetuation of American force projection in the Middle East. If he fails to satisfy the request from General McChrystal – the specialist in ‘black ops’ who now controls American forces in Afghanistan – the war brokers will fall on Obama with as finely co-ordinated a barrage as if they had met and concerted their response. Beside that prospect, the calls of betrayal from the antiwar base that gave Obama his first victories in 2008 must seem a small price to pay. The best imaginable result just now, given the tightness of the trap, may be ostensible co-operation with the generals, accompanied by a set of questions that lays the groundwork for refusal of the next escalation. But in wars there is always a deep beneath the lowest deep, and the ambushes and accidents tend towards savagery much more than conciliation.” — David Bromwich, who teaches literature and political thought at Yale and writes on America’s wars for the Huffington Post

(London Review of Books)

New York Times Editorial – The Cover-Up Continues

2009 Five Presidents George W. Bush, President...

“The Obama administration has clung for so long to the Bush administration’s expansive claims of national security and executive power that it is in danger of turning President George W. Bush’s cover-up of abuses committed in the name of fighting terrorism into President Barack Obama’s cover-up.

We have had recent reminders of this dismaying retreat from Mr. Obama’s passionate campaign promises to make a break with Mr. Bush’s abuses of power, a shift that denies justice to the victims of wayward government policies and shields officials from accountability.”

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Obama’s Cairo mission: Don’t be Bush

Under George W. Bush, America's Arab/Muslim report card was an F-minus. U.S. standing in the Middle East and among the world's Muslims sank to an all-time low, terrorist attacks greatly increased, violent extremists gained power, moderate and pro-U.S. regimes were weakened, the crucial Israeli-Palestinian conflict grew ever more intractable, Iraq sank into a hell from which it has only now begun to emerge, and the Taliban surged back in Afghanistan and threatened Pakistan. Bush's policies were directly responsible for many of these calamitous outcomes, and exacerbated others. In his Cairo speech, Obama's most pressing need is thus to make it unequivocally clear to the world's 1.5 billion Muslims and 325 million Arabs that the U.S. has decisively rejected Bush's failed ideology and policies, and intends to chart a completely new path. We can expect Obama to invoke his own background, reject the idea of a “clash of civilizations” and make an inspiring appeal to shared values. Those oratorical flourishes will count for something, but unless he supports them with tough, realistic language and actual policy changes, they will just go down as pretty words. What follows is a list of Bush's five cardinal Middle East errors, and what Obama can do in his speech and in his subsequent actions to correct them.” — Gary Kamiya (Salon )

Did Obama apologize explicitly and forcefully for the idiocy and criminality of Bush and make it clear how US action and policy will depart from that of his predecessor? Did he make it clear that we are not a Christian nation? that our policy is no longer to be “guided by voices”? A preliminary reading of the Cairo speech sugests he fell short.

The Limits of a “3 Minute Rahm”

{{w|Rahm Emanuel}}, U.S. Congressman.

“I asked one of them who I assume can get through to the President or at least to Rahm Emanuel any time he wants why he doesn’t make his case more clearly to the occupants of the White House. The response was, “Yes, I can get through to Rahm Emanuel any time, but I get three minutes with him, and then someone else gets their three minutes, and so on. Rahm is the three minute guy — and he’s great during those three minutes.”

Wealthy donors on the outside of the political process probably should not be able to just call up the President and get their way — but the frustration I’m hearing from a great number of these types of donors — types who are not only wealthy and helped finance much of the Democratic Party’s victory in November but who are also smart and connected — is that they are not getting through where it counts. The policy options they are proposing aren’t getting into the basket of proposals that Obama is considering.

In other words, some feel that Obama is not getting a full range of choices on the economy and is being provided a narrow band of views that fit the preconceived biases of Larry Summers and Tim Geithner.

One of the fatal mistakes of the Bush administration in the build up to the Iraq War was the tight constriction of choices and views that Bush’s advisors allowed him to see.

Let’s hope that the Obama team isn’t making the same mistake on the economy.” via The Washington Note.

The I’s Have It

William Shakespeare

‘Since his election, the president has been roundly criticized by bloggers for using “I” instead of “me” in phrases like “a very personal decision for Michelle and I” or “the main disagreement with John and I” or “graciously invited Michelle and I.”

The rule here, according to conventional wisdom, is that we use “I” as a subject and “me” as an object, whether the pronoun appears by itself or in a twosome. Thus every “I” in those quotes ought to be a “me.”

So should the president go stand in a corner of the Oval Office (if he can find one) and contemplate the error of his ways? Not so fast.

For centuries, it was perfectly acceptable to use either “I” or “me” as the object of a verb or preposition, especially after “and.” Literature is full of examples. Here’s Shakespeare, in “The Merchant of Venice”: “All debts are cleared between you and I.” And here’s Lord Byron, complaining to his half-sister about the English town of Southwell, “which, between you and I, I wish was swallowed up by an earthquake, provided my eloquent mother was not in it.”

It wasn’t until the mid-1800s that language mavens began kvetching about “I” and “me.” ‘ via NYTimes Op-Ed.

Henry Louis Gates: ‘Read It’

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

‘To those who found President Obama’s speech underwhelming, Henry Louis Gates Jr. has some advice in The Root: Read it.

“We tend to forget that Lincoln’s most famous speeches-Gettysburg and the second inaugural-read much better than they sounded,” he writes. He admits, upon hearing Obama’s speech, that he found it “less moving as a rhetorical statement than I had expected.” Upon reading the speech, Gates Jr. found “plenty of grand significance. And as I reviewed the speech, Obama’s rhetorical strategy clearly revealed itself, a strategy brilliantly calibrated between progressive chords and conservative ones, revealing him to be the president of all the people, words designed to show that, as he put it, ‘What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them-that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.'” ‘ via The Daily Beast.

Obama to Bush: I Can Release Your Records. Don’t Like It? Sue.

Vice President Dic...

‘On his first day in office, President Obama put former president Bush on notice. His administration just released an executive order that will make it difficult for Bush to shield his White House records–and those of former Vice President Dick Cheney–from public scrutiny by invoking the doctrine of executive privilege.

…”[Obama]’s putting former presidents on notice that if you want to continue a claim of executive privilege that [Obama] doesn’t think is well-placed, you’re going to have to go to court,” says Anne Weismann, the chief counsel for Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW).

Obama’s executive order not only revokes “Bush’s infamous Executive Order 13233, which gave current and former presidents and vice presidents, along with their heirs, unprecedented authority to block the disclosure of White House records,” but also redefines executive privilege with a much more rigorous standard…’ via Shakesville: Suck It, Bush.

Related:

The Inaugural Oath: Chief Justice Slip-Up

United States Constitution

I guess Chief Justice Roberts isn’t as much of a strict constructionist as we had all assumed:

‘The oath is contained in the Constitution: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

But when Roberts swore in Obama, he flipped some of the words, saying: “I will execute the office of president to the United States faithfully.” ‘ via ABC News.

A friend, after watching the flubbed oath yesterday, worried that some might challenge the legitimacy of Obama’s ascension to the Presidency given that he was improperly sworn in.

Vote on your favorite ‘BamBerry’ ad

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‘ “I'm still clinging to my Blackberry. They're going to have to pry it out of my hands.”

Obama uttered these now famous words – which might just be the mother all endorsements for Blackberry – in an interview with CNBC and the New York Times Wednesday.

It got us thinking, what a great ad campaign!

So we've gotten leading advertising firms to create hilarious, moving and altogether awesome ad campaigns around Bam's devotion to his Berry.’

via New York Daily News.

Steven Waldman: In Defense of Rick Warren

The Purpose Driven Life book cover

“Obama was wise to ask him to deliver the invocation at the inauguration.

  • First, Warren has used his fame and fortune primarily to help the most destitute people in the world. He reverse tithes, giving away 90% and keeping 10%. Please contemplate all the religious figures who have gotten rich off their flock and pocketed the money. Who among you reverse tithe or would if you were rich? I know I don’t, and every time I think about what Warren has done it makes me question whether I’m giving enough. That is a Christ-like example.
  • Second, he’s worked hard to get other conservative evangelicals to care more about poverty…

  • Third, he has voiced his own spiritual doubts. This is hugely important…

  • Finally, he’s mostly about God. Yes, he says things that are controversial and, I believe, is sometimes ill-informed and insensitive. But The Purpose Driven Life and The Purpose of Christmas barely mention the hot-botton culture war issues. He has his views on those issues but really believes that getting right with God is most important thing.
  • For Obama, picking Warren for the inauguration is a smart move.”

via HuffPo.

Suit contesting Obama’s citizenship heads to Supreme Court

Barack Obama 44th President of The United Stat...

“The U.S. Supreme Court will consider Friday whether to take up a lawsuit challenging President-elect Barack Obama’s U.S. citizenship, a continuation of a New Jersey case embraced by some opponents of Obama’s election.

The meeting of justices will coincide with a vigil by the filer’s supporters in Washington on the steps of the nation’s highest court.

The suit originally sought to stay the election, and was filed on behalf of Leo Donofrio against New Jersey Secretary of State Nina Mitchell Wells.

Legal experts say the appeal has little chance of succeeding, despite appearing on the court’s schedule. Legal records show it is only the tip of an iceberg of nationwide efforts seeking to derail Obama’s election over accusations that he either wasn’t born a U.S. citizen or that he later renounced his citizenship in Indonesia.”

via Chicago Tribune.

He’s Not Black

Maria Arana: “He is also half white.

Unless the one-drop rule still applies, our president-elect is not black.

We call him that — he calls himself that — because we use dated language and logic. After more than 300 years and much difficult history, we hew to the old racist rule: Part-black is all black. Fifty percent equals a hundred. There's no in-between.

That was my reaction when I read these words on the front page of this newspaper the day after the election: “Obama Makes History: U.S. Decisively Elects First Black President.”

The phrase was repeated in much the same form by one media organization after another. It's as if we have one foot in the future and another still mired in the Old South. We are racially sophisticated enough to elect a non-white president, and we are so racially backward that we insist on calling him black. Progress has outpaced vocabulary.

To me, as to increasing numbers of mixed-race people, Barack Obama is not our first black president. He is our first biracial, bicultural president. He is more than the personification of African American achievement. He is a bridge between races, a living symbol of tolerance, a signal that strict racial categories must go.”

via Washington Post op-ed.

Five Physics Lessons for Obama

Chandra X-ray image of the supernovas remnant ...

“Everyone expects the U.S. president to know the difference between Sunni and Shiite, or understand the causes of the financial meltdown. But in today’s high-tech world, many critical issues have more to do with electrons than economics. Here are five short physics lessons for President-elect Obama from the author of Physics for Future Presidents.”

via Foreign Policy

This Is Change?

U.S. President Geo...

Jeremy Scahill: 20 Hawks, Clintonites and Neocons to Watch for in Obama’s White House

via AlterNet

How much solace, and for how long, will we continue to take from the ‘better than Bush’ sentiment?

Say Goodbye to BlackBerry?

BlackBerry user Dou...

If Obama Has to, Yes He Can. ” ‘Sorry, Mr. President. Please surrender your BlackBerry.’ Those are seven words President-elect Barack Obama is dreading but expecting to hear, friends and advisers say, when he takes office in 65 days.

…[B]efore he arrives at the White House, he will probably be forced to sign off. In addition to concerns about e-mail security, he faces the Presidential Records Act, which puts his correspondence in the official record and ultimately up for public review, and the threat of subpoenas. A decision has not been made on whether he could become the first e-mailing president, but aides said that seemed doubtful.

For all the perquisites and power afforded the president, the chief executive of the United States is essentially deprived by law and by culture of some of the very tools that other chief executives depend on to survive and to thrive. Mr. Obama, however, seems intent on pulling the office at least partly into the 21st century on that score; aides said he hopes to have a laptop computer on his desk in the Oval Office, making him the first American president to do so.” (New York Times )

Sorry we can’t

Sorry. No column today. The keyboard is not responding. History is a page being turned. Three words on the screen: “Yes we can.” While it is impossible to joke with genocide or disaster, it is equally impossible to joke with an event that makes you weep for joy. The first worldwide good news since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 needs more than a pirouette or an amused wink. At this moment – but for how long ? – we can say with far more conviction than on 11 September 2001 : we are all Americans.’ — Robert Solé (Le Monde Opinions via julia)

Stumbling Over Campaign Ethics Pledge?

“President-elect Barack Obama, now recruiting for his administration, is trying to fulfill campaign promises of sweeping ethics restrictions that could deter some potential appointees.Vowing to combat the power of “lobbyists who kill good ideas and good plans with secret meetings and campaign checks,” Mr. Obama has laid out more detailed and more onerous ethics rules than any previous president.” (New York Times )

Colin Powell Endorses Obama

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“Former Secretary of State Colin Powell announced Sunday that he will be voting for Sen. Barack Obama. ‘He has both style and substance. I think he is a transformational figure,’ Powell said on NBC’s Meet the Press.” (HuffPo)

During the Republican convention, I recall, Powell’s name had been leaked as a leading contender for McCain’s vice presidential pick. The buzz is that, while most endorsements don’t mean squat, this one may well be influential. Newt Gingrich, of all people, says that Powell’s comments pretty much put the end to the “experience gap” issue that has been the dilemma of many undecided voters. And what is perhaps even more telling about Powell’s statement on Meet the Press, often not reported in the soundbites, was his criticism of the bankruptcy of the Republican party.

Desperate McCain gives beat to the dark heart of conservatism

John McCain and Sarah Palin

Michael Tomasky: “We are seeing, from (happily, at least for the time being) the majority of the country, much of what is good and decent about America in this election. But we are also seeing in smaller proportion what is chilling. The people in those videos have no proof to back up their beliefs, because of course no such proof exists. They just feel it, and that’s enough. But that isn’t what’s most disturbing. There will always be such people in all societies. What’s most disturbing is that McCain and Palin are egging them on.” (Guardian.UK)

It’s not much of a choice for Americans come November 4

Thalia Mendoza has h...

Shaun Carney: “Every political contest is a question of relativities — as in, which candidate do I dislike least? — and when John McCain and Barack Obama went mano a mano for the first time in the presidential debate on Saturday morning our time, it gradually became clear that American voters will face a genuine dilemma on November 4. Both candidates are a substantial risk and a further sign that the political system of the world’s most powerful nation is not functioning very well.” (age.com.au)

Enough!

Republican presidential nominee Senator John M...

Why Obama should release his righteous rage: “Obama has often said that he is running because of what Dr. King called ‘the fierce urgency of now.’ He needs to show that fierceness and that urgency. When we think of King, we usually think of him as resolute and dignified. But King was also filled with a prophetic anger, especially in the later years of his life. As a leader fighting for fundamental change in this country, Obama has to be willing to show us that kind of righteous anger. I don’t know about you, but when I think about what George Bush has done to this country — and what John McCain wants to keep doing — I consider outrage the only rational and legitimate response. The last seven-plus years demand more than a beaming smile.” — Arianna Huffington (Huffington Post)

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