Posts Tagged ‘Barack Hussein Obama’

Cheeps and Chirps for March 2017 (catching up)

June 19, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 19, 2017

More catching up from my Twitter feed!

• ZOMG Donald Trump (and comrades)!

Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Donald Trump and Barack Obama: Examining off-the-cuff American history lessons from our two most recent presidents

May 3, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 3, 2017

I was tickled to my cynical core Monday morning when I learned that President Donald Trump had bloviated about Andrew Jackson, one of his antecedents in the Oval Office, and the Civil War. After all, who better than Trump — who in February became the first to discover, regarding health care policy, “It’s an unbelievably complex subject. Nobody knew health care could be so complicated” — to lecture the American public on history?

In an interview with SiriusXM’s Salena Zito that aired Monday, Trump said the following about the nation’s seventh president:

I mean had Andrew Jackson been a little later you wouldn’t have had the Civil War. He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart. He was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War, he said, “There’s no reason for this.” People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War, if you think about it, why? People don’t ask that question, but why was there a Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?

There are plenty of analyses of (this edition of) Trump’s dunderheaded comments; see, for instance, this Jeet Heer joint at The New Republic. But it got me wondering: Did Trump’s predecessor, Barack Hussein Obama, ever speak extemporaneously about Andrew Jackson or the Civil War? And if so, had he ever made such dumbfounding remarks?

Read the rest of this entry »

Cheeps and Chirps for April 10, 2017

April 10, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
April 10, 2017

Spring is here. What better time than now to revisit my tweets? (Since we haven’t done this since January, and since I can’t bear to squander any precious gems, this installment will run from late January through the end of February; I’ll catch up on the rest later.)

 

• Donald Trump tackles immigration

 

• Donald Trump makes dubious personnel choices 

Read the rest of this entry »

Trump, unchecked: The president-elect tilts hard right as his elevation to office approaches

December 17, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 17, 2016

On Monday, Dec. 19, 2016, unless something unprecedented occurs, the electoral college will officially designate Donald Trump Sr. the winner of the 2016 United States presidential election.

I expect this to happen, although it should be noted that an incredible number of things about this election have been unprecedented. For instance, Hillary Clinton was the first female presidential candidate to be nominated by a major American political party, and Trump was the candidate with the thinnest (read: a nonexistent) record of public or military service.

I’ve experienced a number of emotions since Trump’s election, including disbelief, disappointment, anger, resignation and sorrow. I also felt, for a time, something unexpected: hope.

Trump’s victory speech was unexpectedly magnanimous, given the harsh nature of his campaign. The man who during the second presidential debate had threatened to jail his opponent over missing emails from her tenure as secretary of state struck a gracious note early in the address that he delivered around 3 a.m. on the East Coast on Nov. 9:

Hillary has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time, and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country. I mean that very sincerely.

Read the rest of this entry »

Cheeps and Chirps for July 15, 2016

July 15, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
July 15, 2016

Presenting more recent odds and ends from my Twitter feed.

• Comedy!

Read the rest of this entry »

Regarding Sen. Rubio’s attempt to quit the race on a high note

March 19, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
March 19, 2016

On Tuesday night, I was surprised neither that U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio lost the Florida primary to businessman Donald Trump nor that he subsequently dropped out of the race for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination as a result.

As it happened, I caught Rubio’s concession speech while I was listening to National Public Radio primary election coverage in my car. He gave a good speech and he delivered it well; I can easily understand why some pundits thought that he would be Obama 2.0, a conservative political wunderkind who would energize American youth and minorities in a way no Republican presidential candidate has since — well, perhaps since Ronald Reagan… or maybe it’s more accurate to say in a way that no Republican presidential candidate ever has.

Unfortunately, as so often happens in politics, the lofty rhetoric of Rubio’s farewell speech didn’t match up very well with the cold, hard facts of reality. On Tuesday evening, Rubio said:

[T]his is the campaign we’ve run, a campaign that is realistic about the challenges we face but optimistic about the opportunities before us. A campaign that recognizes the difficulties we face, but also one that believes that we truly are on the verge of a new American century. And a campaign to be president, a campaign to be a president that would love all of the American people, even the ones that don’t love you back.

Compare that with a foreign-policy speech that Rubio delivered in New Hampshire in early January:

What became abundantly clear was this: Barack Obama was deliberately weakening America. He made an intentional effort to humble us back to size, as if to say, “We no longer need to be so powerful because our power has done more harm than good.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Economists and politicians: Parceling out credit and blame for the numbers

January 13, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Jan. 13, 2015

Gas prices are down! The economy is growing! More Americans are going to work!

Great job, President Obama! Oh, wait — perhaps new Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, deserves credit for the turnaround?

Or maybe not. On Thursday, Politico’s Lucy McCalmont contacted 14 different experts and asked them to evaluate Sen. McConnell’s claim that “[t]he uptick appears to coincide with the biggest political change of the Obama administration’s long tenure in Washington: The expectation of a new Republican Congress.”

Read the rest of this entry »

The moral stain of torture: Some things to keep in mind while we await the Senate report on CIA interrogation

December 4, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 4, 2014

In March 2009, U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Kit Bond (R-Mo.), respectively the chairwoman and chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, announced that their group had agreed on a bipartisan basis to review

• How the [Central Intelligence Agency] created, operated, and maintained its detention and interrogation program;

• How CIA’s assessments that detainees possessed relevant information were made;

• Whether the CIA accurately described the detention and interrogation program to other parts of the U.S. government, including the Office of Legal Counsel and the Senate Intelligence Committee;

• Whether the CIA implemented the program in compliance with official guidance, including covert action findings, Office of Legal Counsel opinions, and CIA policy;

The 2009 announcement also said that the committee would evaluate intelligence “gained through the use of enhanced and standard interrogation techniques.”

“Enhanced interrogation” is, of course, a euphemism for actions that most people would call “torture.”

Work on this Senate investigation spanned about five years, culminating in a report of about 6,000 pages. In early 2014, the committee submitted a 480-page executive summary to the White House. The Obama administration, including CIA officials, redacted the summary in ways that rendered it unintelligible and unsupported, according to complaints from Senate committee members.

The administration redactions came to light in August. The executive summary has remained in limbo since then.

Read the rest of this entry »

Are you feeling nostalgic for cheap gas? Maybe you shouldn’t…

October 28, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 28, 2014

On Sunday night, I was driving around Durham, North Carolina, when I noticed that a nearby gas station was selling unleaded for $2.99 a gallon. I did a quick search on Gas Guru, an iPhone app, and found a bunch of local stations that were offering the same price. It’s the lowest I’ve seen in quite a while.

A web search on Monday morning led me to this chart at a website called GasBuddy.com, which showed that gas prices nationally have been trending downward since late June. It’s difficult to discern precise numbers and dates on the graph, but the average U.S. price is a little less than than $3.09 per gallon right now.

The last time gas was so cheap was around the start of 2011, when the price was headed up; in May 2011, the price spiked at above $3.85/gallon. That’s the second-highest price for gas in the past decade.

The peak price was near $4.10 in June 2008. But soon after that, the price plunged. About six months after gas reached its highest level over the previous decade, it hit its lowest level in the same period. On Nov. 27, 2008, gas cost just $1.59.

A lot of conservatives seem to have forgotten this, but 2008 — the final year of the George W. Bush presidency — marked the beginning phase of the great recession, which lasted until June 2009. (Technically, the recession began in December 2007.)

In case you’ve forgotten about the recession — from which the U.S. economy continues to recover in rather sluggish fashion — let’s review.

After months of being at or below 4.7 percent, the unemployment rate rose to 5.0 percent in December 2007. It hit 6.1 percent in August 2008 and 7.3 percent in December 2008. Four months after that, it was 9.0 percent. In October 2009, the unemployment rate peaked at 10.0 percent.

Read the rest of this entry »

The old in-and-out: Obama, Bush and the removal of American troops from Iraq

August 9, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Aug. 9, 2014

There’s a tendency on the right to blame President Barack Hussein Obama for, well, just about every ill under the sun.

The conservative narrative goes something like this: Obama was inaugurated, and then everything went to hell. I’m oversimplifying the right-wing zeitgeist here — but, I would contend, only slightly.

A cursory examination of the Obama administration provides plenty of fodder for the argument that the president — through indifference, incompetence, iniquity or some mixture thereof — is ruining America. Gas prices rose sharply after the first president from Kenya Hawaii (oops!) took office. So did unemployment as the economy cratered. The deficit — and, as a consequence, the national debt — ballooned dramatically. Americans learned that under Obama, the National Security Agency was collecting unprecedented amounts of information about the calls we make and the e-mails we send. There have allegations that the Internal Revenue Service has been abusing its power to harass conservative nonprofit groups. And an ambassador was killed in the line of duty for the first time in 33 years.

Some of these complaints don’t stand up to scrutiny. Gas prices have risen under Obama, but they’ve never quite reached their peak of about $4.10 a gallon under Obama’s predecessor, President George W. Bush. The economy has ramped back upward. (The reasons for the slow recovery may lie beyond Obama’s control, much as the recession can’t be entirely attributed to Bush.) Many of the NSA practices seem to have begun under Bush. Protestations of outraged right-wingers to the contrary, IRS scrutiny wasn’t strictly limited to conservative groups. And recently, Republicans on a Congressional committee concluded that the administration was not responsible for any wrongdoing or gross negligence related to the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans at a consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

One can certainly debate the various merits of Obama’s policies — although I doubt folks on the right will be able to bring themselves to say anything complimentary about health-care reform anytime soon, despite evidence that it’s workingObama’s military intervention in Libya was conducted in defiance of the 1973 War Powers Resolution, thereby leaving a permanent blot on the president’s record. (I object not to the intervention but to Obama’s refusal to obtain congressional permission for extended military efforts.) Obama’s embrace of the extrajudicial killing of American citizens is blatantly outrageous, and will forever stain his presidency. Moreover, the president’s failure to prosecute torture conducted under the auspices of his predecessor severely undermined his claim to any moral high ground.

Yet I write not to bury Obama nor to praise him. Instead, I want to consider one oft-repeated conservative complaint that has always baffled me: The allegation that Obama is responsible for the increasing chaos in Iraq.

Read the rest of this entry »

Voters don’t always care very much about policy details when it comes to picking a president

December 12, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 12, 2013

Recently, Robert Mann, a mass communications professor at Louisiana State University, wrote a Times-Picayune column panning Gov. Bobby Jindal’s chances of winning the Republican nomination for president in 2016. The crux of Mann’s argument is telegraphed in the headline, “Jindal’s meager record at home won’t get him to the White House.”

Referring to America Next, a new organization affiliated with the Louisiana governor, Mann writes:

The group hasn’t yet proposed a single policy innovation, so it’s not clear exactly what specific programs Jindal will tout.

However, selling his vision to the nation may be a challenge. That’s partly because the policy-cautious Jindal really hasn’t revealed much vision unless, by “vision,” one means serving up warmed-over, off-the-shelf conservative ideas. As for leadership, his modest job approval ratings provide no evidence of a deep well of affection or enthusiastic support at home.

The problem is that whatever ideas Jindal ultimately champions will emerge near the end of his tenure as governor. Republican primary voters and the news media would be justified in asking, “If your ideas are so new and compelling, why didn’t you try them in Louisiana?”

Read the rest of this entry »

Emblem or footnote? The spate of health insurance policy cancellations is contrary to President Obama’s explicit promises. But it remains to be seen whether it will matter.

October 31, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 31, 2013

It turns out that, for hundreds of thousands of Americans, despite what the president pledged, they can’t keep their health plans.

That’s the stark truth about Obamacare — a.k.a. the Affordable Care Act — that has come into sharp focus over the past few days.

President Barack Obama has a verbal habit of insisting on clarity in many of his speeches and off-the-cuff remarks. He could hardly have been clearer when he said, multiple times, that Americans who liked their health insurance would be able to keep it under his health-care reform plan.

Only that isn’t true. CBS reports that 2 million Americans have had their policies canceled by insurance companies because they aren’t compatible with various provisions of Obamacare. Understandably, lots of people are unhappy about this, and Republican and conservative critics have jumped all over this broken promise.

Read the rest of this entry »

Yes, the opposition to Obama is fierce and often ugly — but no, racism is not the primary factor behind it

October 16, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 16, 2013

As the latest Washington imbroglio, Congress’ wrangling over the debt ceiling, rolls toward what will almost certainly be a messy last-minute resolution, I wanted to comment on one corner of America’s not-so-civil discourse.

Specifically, I wanted to examine a fairly widely held contention on the left: That much of the animus toward President Obama is rooted in racism.

Now, I have no doubt that a not-insignificant tranche of opposition to the former senator from Kenya — er, I mean Illinois — is motivated by bigotry. (Search Twitter for the president’s last name and the extremely offensive slur nigger if you feel the need to prove that point, or to shake your faith in the character of the American people.) But there are many conservatives who gainsay Obama based on a panoply of other far less objectionable motivations.

The best way to demonstrate that much of the fervent conservative hatred of Barack Hussein Obama has no basis in racism is to look at the rhetoric toward prominent white Democrats.

Read the rest of this entry »

A new hope appears in Syria, but Assad’s chemical menace likely can’t be removed peacefully

September 12, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 12, 2013

After some Keystone Kops–like antics and contortions by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the Obama administration, a partial solution to the brewing Syria crisis suddenly emerged Monday.

Kerry in one breath raised and then dismissed the possibility of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad turning over his entire chemical weapons stock as a way to deter possible American military strikes. Within a matter of hours, both Assad and Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, had tentatively endorsed the idea. We’ll have to see what emerges, but this is a positive development.

Which is to say, it’s a positive development in the short term. I’m cautiously optimistic that Assad, Putin and the Obama administration can reach a bargain that staves off American military intervention in exchange for securing Syria’s chemical weapons. (Ideally, Syrian chemical and suspected biological weapons will be identified, secured and ultimately destroyed.)

Having fewer deployable weapons of mass destruction loose in the world — or in the hands of despotic or untrustworthy regimes — is obviously a very good thing. Averting American missile or bomb strikes that had a high potential of killing innocent civilians and a low potential of deterring future WMD use is also a very good thing. Preventing some kind of boots-on-the-ground intervention, and all the bloody consequences that are inextricably linked to those actions, is even better.

If Assad were to retain his chemical weapons, the best case is simply that nothing happens — the weapons see no further use. But plenty of much direr scenarios could easily unspool if Syria retains its WMDs. Perhaps Assad would gas more civilians. Or al Qaeda, which has loyalists among the rebel fighters, might capture his chemical and possibly biological weapons and attempt to use them, either in Syria or abroad. Read the rest of this entry »

Confessions of a reluctant hawk: Syria 2013 edition

August 31, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Aug. 31, 2013

President Barack Obama has declared his intent to launch military action against Syria; depending on if and when Congress gives its blessing, hostilities could commence within weeks — perhaps even days. I wanted to take some time to analyze the situation.

In July, Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general, said that there had been at least 100,000 deaths in the Syrian civil war. The two-and-a-half-year-old conflict is said to have prompted 2 million Syrians (half of them children) to seek refuge in neighboring countries — this from a nation that had an estimated 22.5 million residents as of mid-2013. Rebels claimed last week that government forces deployed chemical weapons in a Damascus suburb, killing hundreds of people. The attack, which the United States officially believes to have been the work of the Syrian government, is said to have killed more than 1,400.

Syria has been ruled by the Assad family for 42 years; Bashar al-Assad succeeded his father Hafez al-Assad as president in 2000. President Obama has called upon Assad to resign from office. Assad’s supporters include Russia and China; Iran, which is hostile to the U.S., is also among them. So is Hezbollah, a militant Shiite organization that Western many governments consider a terrorist group.

Unfortunately, the rebel coalition is not entirely filled with angels. There are reports that rebels massacred more than 100 villagers because they were Alawites, the same ethnicity as the Assads. At least one rebel faction has been linked to al Qaeda. Syrian leaders claim that the rebels themselves have used chemical weapons on at least one occasion — although evidently on not as large a scale as government forces are believed to have done.

With that in mind, let’s consider a few relevant questions:

• Does the United States have reason to intervene in the Syrian conflict?

Yes, but it’s virtually impossible to argue that our national security reasons are directly at stake. Instead, the best case is predicated on humanitarian and international law interests. Read the rest of this entry »

‘Mr. President, tear down this law’: Considering conservatives’ hostility toward Obamacare

August 22, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Aug. 22, 2013

With key deadlines for implementing President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act approaching — except for when the president himself puts them off, that is — a subgenre of conservative punditry has arisen. The theme that unites this new category of opinionating is that its authors all call for Republicans to unite around a replacement set of health care reforms.

It’s long been clear that Americans on the right dislike, if not outright despise, the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. Their opposition is ironic for at least two reasons. One is that the conservative Heritage Foundation devised the individual mandate to purchase health insurance that is at the heart of the plan.

The other is that Obamacare is predicated, through that very same individual mandate, upon expanding the customer base of health insurance companies. In other words, the Affordable Care Act is simply not a single-payer system, in which the government assures every citizen a minimal level of health care. And Obamacare really isn’t much of a step toward socialized medicine, which significantly increase government control or regulation of the people and institutions that actually dispense health care.

Back in June, Ramesh Ponnuru published a lengthy essay on the National Review’s website that took conservatives to task for

increasingly embracing [this] theory about Obamacare: It’s going to collapse of its own weight, and its failure could yield a sharp right turn in the 2014 and 2016 elections. That theory is probably wrong, and dangerously so. To be rid of Obamacare, Republicans will have to do more than just wait for it to go away — and more than they have done so far.

Recent public remarks by Obama reinforced Ponnuru’s criticism that GOPers need to get more specific about enacting a replacement for Obamacare. Read the rest of this entry »

%d bloggers like this: