Inauguration Day

PresObama President Barack Obama is set to give his inauguration address today. The crowd is much smaller than his first term as is his popularity. The new Gallop poll shows Obama at a 49 percent popularity rate. While he remains personally popular, the overall popularity rate below fifty percent is comparable to Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford — two presidents who ultimately languished in office.

Frankly, I think it is very disappointing that former President George W. Bush is not present. That absence takes away from the celebration of our unified faith in the democratic system.

Leslie and Jack have gone to listen to the inauguration downtown with my brother and his two kids. My 86-year-old mother drove in from Chicago with my brother for the inauguration. She was here for the first Obama inaugural and remains a steadfast supporter. However, given her mobility limits, she is watching on television with me and the three other kids. I have to write on the speech for USA Today so logistics (and laziness) has me watching a home with my mother.

For civil libertarians, this inauguration is not as joyful as it is for many others. As I have written previously, Obama has been a disaster for civil liberties and left many of us . . . to put it lightly . . . estranged. I do not consider Obama to be an inspiring figure after his first term. It is not clear if he will embrace the principles that he abandoned so quickly in his first term on surveillance, privacy, torture, and secrecy laws. While he is free of the pressure of a future election, his party leadership is expected to continue the same policies and cynical treatment of civil liberties. The Republican offer no better alternative. Obama has created an imperial presidency by general acquiescence – the silence of liberals who remain loyal to Obama as an individual despite policies that are anathema to traditional liberal values. For that reason, many of us now see Obama as a symbol of the loss of principle and values in our political system. The rampant hypocrisy that inundates our policies and politics has become stifling. My respect for Obama’s family and his personal character does not overcome those conflicts over constitutional principles and civil liberties values.

I also continue to amazed at the coverage by Fox and MSNBC — two networks that tend to follow predictable takes on Obama. MSNBC anchors have been gushing over his popularity despite the polls showing little change in the unpopularity numbers. Fox has been highlighting the divisive views of Obama to a degree that makes him look like a bunkered recluse. It is part of our new echo chamber of news where people just watch networks that reaffirm what they want the world to look like — despite evidence to the contrary.

I do view this as a celebration of another peaceful transition of government and always have the kids watch, I do not view inauguration speeches as quite as significant as suggested by the coverage. I do not expect that the 51 percent on the unpopularity side of Obama are likely to be transformed by a speech — any more than many were won over by Bush’s speech. We all can take pride in the stability of our system and another peaceful transition. Yet, on Tuesday, we will still have a dysfunctional political system controlled by a monopoly of power by the two parties. For those who want change, it will have to come by seeking changes in this system against the fixed interests of these parties and the White House.

78 thoughts on “Inauguration Day

  1. Enjoy watching the event with your mother, Professor. It is always special to be able to spend time with your parents at that age. The only way to “fix” the system is to take all of the money out of the process. That is the only way, in my opinion, to guarantee that the House and Senate or the White House, will be bought and sold to the highest bidder.
    I hope it is warmer there than it is in Chicago. It was 9 degrees this morning.

  2. Perhaps this is a preview of part of the USA Today piece?

    I worked in DC in ’72 at the time of Nixon’s inauguration. We lived about 10 blocks from the Capitol just off E. Capitol Street, and we walked down to hear the speech, wheeling the infant daughter in a stroller. Walked right to the East portico parking lot which was crowded, but room for us. No big security deal. Couldn’t really hear the speech. Later that night I went back and clipped off one of the metal “no parking – inauguration” signs from a tree for a souvenir — eventually got rid of it

  3. He’ll meander through the next 4 years then become hugely popular (a la Clinton) once he leaves the White House.

    The guy had so many opportunities to make a real difference and he squandered almost every single one of them. We can always hope he’ll start standing tall during the next 3 years but I honestly don’t think he has it in him.

  4. My husband is a die hard Obama supporter but I am not although I am very glad he did beat Romney. He contributes so we have invitations but are not going. He is having surgery, probably later this week, instead. :-( Went to Carter’s inauguration as I was on campaign staff. If everything works out we will we will be moving to DC at the end of the year.

  5. Angela Davis: Now That Obama Has a Second Term, No More “Subordination to Presidential Agendas”

    ANGELA DAVIS: Let me say that this time around we cannot subordinate our aspirations and our hopes to presidential agendas. Our passionate support for President Barack Obama—and it’s wonderful that we can say for the second time, “President Barack Obama,” and we support him, and we are passionate about that support, but that support should also be expressed in our determination to raise issues that have been largely ignored or not appropriately addressed by the administration.

    And let me say that we are aware that we should be celebrating, critically celebrating, the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. There should be massive celebrations this year. What has happened other than the film Lincoln? And, of course, with two-and-a-half million people behind bars today, the prison system, the immigrant detention system are terrible remainders and reminders of slavery. Mass incarceration has devastated our communities. It is a false solution to problems that have persisted since the era of slavery.

    We should be addressing the state of our schools, the continuing crisis of overincarceration, over-punishment. We should be addressing the part played by private prison corporations in pushing for repressive legislation designed to incarcerate ever-increasing numbers of immigrants. Last year, some 500,000, a half a million, immigrants were detained. And that, of course, is the largest number ever.

    The past still haunts us. Its ghosts ride the echoes of our lives. To overcome poverty, to overcome racism, we must also overcome xenophobia, homophobia. Justice for African Americans is organically linked to justice for Palestinians. The struggle goes on. A luta continua. And as June Jordan said, we are the ones we have been waiting for. Thank you.

    AMY GOODMAN: The renowned author, educator, founder of the Critical Resistance movement, Angela Davis, speaking at the Peace Ball: Voices of Hope and Resistance Sunday night.

  6. The guy had so many opportunities to make a real difference and he squandered almost every single one of them. We can always hope he’ll start standing tall during the next 3 years but I honestly don’t think he has it in him. -Blouise

    We’ll just see more of the same, in all likelihood. I hope not… but it would seem that he’s shown his true colors.

  7. The debate continues:

    Obama is a basically progressive good guy working within a dysfunctional political system A complex individual, with various motivations who is not understood by his critics, left and right. A figure more to be pitied than blamed.


    Obama is a running dog neolib of the 1 %. Weak, but without liberal/progressive courage or conviction, so little more that a stuffed shirt egotistically going through the presidential motions.


    I’ll choose the second. A disaster for the sort of political change need to rescue the US from it’s downward trajectory as a nation.

  8. Professor, I know you are an Obama-basher, but the Gallup poll is an outlier, as you surely know, and Gallup spent the entire past election cycle showing consistently low, and wrong, polling numbers for Obama. In reputable polls (Gallup is no longer reputable, sadly) Obama’s approval rate is in the mid-50s, and he is also the first president in generations to win both of his elections with over 50% of the popular vote — another fact you conveniently ignore. If you submitted a brief to the court with these kinds of factual admissions, you would earn a sanction. Disappointed.

    And for those of you on the left who love to bash Obama — truly, do you live in fantasy-land regarding what he could accomplish? Blousie, you charge him with having “so many opportunities to make a real difference and he squandered almost every single one of them” — can you get specific? What could he have done that he didn’t, in your estimation? I guess moving the needle on gay marriage and moving the US towards something resembling more universal health care do not count as significant accomplishments in your book?

    Reading all of the left-bashing of Obama reminds me of the left whining in his first two years — “There’s no difference between the Democrats and the Republicans, I am going to take my copy of Mother Jones and go home. Wah!” And what did that get us? The 2010 midterms and the most conservative electorate in this nation’s history in a century. The result? The Tea Party ascendant, a lurch to the right in Congress, and severely conservative legislatures throughout the county. Just before redistricting, no less! Well played, political left! Well done! Your petty sulking screwed the country for at least a generation. You should have showed up to the polls when it mattered.

    I never drank the Obama Kool-Aid, and am not a particularly big fan of him, but this whole whiny attitude from the left about Obama sticks in my craw. Engage, organize, vote — but please stop whining.

  9. Last night, rapper Lupe Fiasco was thrown off the Inaugural Concert stage for rapping about the grim future of our country under Washington’s policies. Bravo to him, and to all conscious artists still speaking truth to power!

    Here’s what he said:

    “I really think the war on terror is a bunch of bullsht
    Just a poor excuse for you to use up all your bullets
    How much money does it take to really make a full clip
    9/11 building 7 did they really pull it
    Uhh, And a bunch of other cover ups
    Your childs future was the first to go with budget cuts
    If you think that hurts then, wait here comes the uppercut
    The school was garbage in the first place, that’s on the up and up
    Keep you at the bottom but tease you with the uppercrust
    You get it then they move it so you never keeping up enough
    If you turn on TV all you see’s a bunch of “what the f*cks”
    Dude is dating so and so blabbering bout such and such
    And that ain’t Jersey Shore, homie that’s the news
    And these the same people that supposed to be telling us the truth
    Limbaugh is a racist, Glenn Beck is a racist
    Gaza strip was getting bombed, Obama didn’t say shite
    That’s why I ain’t vote for him, next one either
    I’m a part of the problem, my problem is I’m peaceful
    And I believe in the people.”

    ~Lupe Fiasco~

  10. Thanks for the lecture DHMCarver. I guess you’ve never heard about the bully pulpit. And don’t believe that a president can set an agenda that represents vision. And need not become notorious for abandoning even what supposed positions he advocates — constantly. And who practices a foreign policy of militaris, And speaks of immigration reform while locking up record numbers. And touts the Constitution while violating privacy rights as policy and practice. And lauds openness while prosecuting those who open. Who eschew torture while protecting tortures and continuing black holes. Who supports gay rights only marginally and when financial contributions are at stake. Who seems never to remember working to protect our environment. Who has yet to take criticism and action against financial halocaust beyond platitudes

    Please, save us your smugness.

  11. What Are The Gobshites Saying These Days?
    By Charles P. Pierce

    WASHINGTON — Welcome back to our weekly survey of the state of Our National Dialogue which, as you know, is what Vivaldi would have come up with, had he composed The Four Sea Monkeys.

    Inauguration Weekend! Time for us all to lay aside our partisan bickering and celebrate our glorious republic, in which we are all guaranteed the right to go on the electric teevee set and tell our fellow citizens that the sun rises in the plain, where the rain falls mainly on the Spain. Or something. Sooner or later, on one of these Sundays, one of these shows is going to pass out of the plane of physical reality and disappear into a higher realm in a chorus of fairy farts. In that spirit, we begin this week with Face The Nation, hosted (as always) by former Tang Dynasty environmental correspondent Bob Schieffer, on which, honest to god, several allegedly intelligent primates surveyed the past four years and came to the remarkable conclusion that the reason not much got done was because Barack Obama has gone all gangsta up in Lady Liberty’s grill, yo.

    Let us begin with Bob (The Watergate Replacement Replicant) Woodward, who told Schieffer that Obama declines to work and play well with the feral children and is thus spitting on the grave of the Venerable Katie Graham, the Patron Saint Of Social Climbing.

    I remember Katharine Graham, the publisher of the Washington Post, used to always say ‘it’s hard to not like someone who says they like you.’ You talk to senators and congressmen, as you know, and they feel Barack Obama doesn’t like them or is at least indifferent to them. And so you have all of these conflicts in negotiations and they end… Look, the President has the upper hand now and will for some time, but you know in any… Condi Rice knows so well, any negotiation you need to leave the opponent with their dignity and the president is going out and sticking his finger in their eye.

    So the president, who has been called stupid, lazy, a Kenyan, un-American, and every other synonym for “uppity” that ever occurred to Bull Connor, and of whom his legislative opponents have said quite openly that their goal was to wreck his agenda, has been engaged so far in “sticking his finger” in the eye of his political opposition. I swear to Christ, listening to Woodward, I’m starting to believe Nixon was framed. Following with her own bucket of bushwah was professional Clinton apologist Dee Dee Myers, who yearned for the golden era when the Republicans were investigating blowjobs and the Democratic president was knuckling welfare moms.

    But first, a bad historical analogy.

    You have to let the other guys leave the table saying they got something for their side, because they’re giving up — they are going to give up something big if it’s going to be an important deal. And I think that — that this White House has not done that as successfully as they need to. And I think — you know, otherwise you end up with Versailles right. You solve the First World War with a treaty that sows the seeds of the second one. And that’s not in anybody’s interest and this President has not been as good at that as he could be.

    Barack Obama: The Georges Clemenceau Of American Politics.

    Let us proceed.

    I was talking to Newt Gingrich recently about what made Clinton a great negotiator and he said he listened all the time to — to find a piece of common ground where a deal could be built. This is from the Speaker of the House who worked to impeach the President. And all through that period, they were looking for a piece of common ground. And I think this administration will be well served to do that.

    The thoroughness with which the lunatic conservative war against Bill Clinton has been shoved down the memory hole is truly remarkable. After all, it was the template for the lunatic conservative war against the current president. There were four years of having Washington politicians and the courtier press believe every tall tale that came out of every fish camp in Arkansas. There was an economic plan that didn’t garner a single Republican vote. There was a government shutdown. There was a nearly two-year pursuit of the president’s penis all around the Beltway, led in the main by adulterous hypocrites like N. Leroy Gingrich, Definer Of Civilization’s Rules And Leader (Perhaps) Of The Civilizing Forces. There was, in fact, the destruction of Gingrich’s political career. And Myers looks back on that time as a model for what she wants to be happening now because Gingrich and Clinton put their respective adulteries aside long enough to pass a welfare “reform” bill that was punitive enough to get Clintion re-elected? We need better Democrats here. But this discussion of A World That Can Never Be would not be complete until we heard from the Magic Dolphin Queen, who has been living in the higher realms of fairy farts since half-past a gimlet in 1986.

    We are essentially a fifty-fifty country still. So you would think the President would have spent the past few weeks going forward and saying let’s all be together. Instead he has been very sharply, definitively us guys versus you guys by going at the Republicans on the Hill, by speaking in a way that is very sour about why Republicans take the stands they take. He implicitly is speaking about Republicans in the country who are half the country. I think that’s a new way to play it, a tough and dicey way to play it.

    There are three policy-making institutions in the federal government. The Democrats control two of them. More people voted for the Democratic presidential candidate than for his Republican rival, and that was only a couple of months ago. More Democrats got elected to the Senate. More people voted for Democratic candidates for the House than voted for Republican candidates for the House. This is not “a fifty-fifty country” unless you divide by the square root of VAT 69 and then multiply by the cosine of Pi in the sky. And can we at least acknowledge, if we’re going to be talking about “the country.” that the president’s approval has gone nowhere but up since he started being a little less concerned with Republican fee-fees.

  12. “To the birthers, whose claims about Barack HUSSEIN Obama’s “questionable” citizenship were nothing but racism cloaked in concern-trollery: Suck it. He’s a two term Kenyan president now.” Daily Kos

  13. ap,

    It’s all been middle of the road and half-assed. Just another go-along to get-along kind of guy.

    That’s why his changing his mind and taking all kinds of corporate contributions for this inaugural doesn’t surprise me in the least. It’s so typical Obama. No real commitment to anything.

  14. Sometimes I wonder how many people voted for President Obama based more upon ideas rather than his personal capabilities and that he came in on those coat tails.

    Don’t think for a moment he is going to return any favors to the average American citizen for re-electing him. Expect the further erosion of your civil rights, but I am sure half of the public will continue to support him regardless of what he will do. Much will be said such as “Yes, but” or “He is the lesser of the evils” to deflect addressing the problems.

    Generally people get the politicians they deserve, especially when they continue blind support of those who are taking away liberty.

  15. Glenn Greenwald today:

    “Obama will always be linked in history to King because his election (and re-election) as America’s first African-American president is, standing alone, an inspiring by-product of King’s work on racial justice. But this symbolic link has another, less inspiring symbolic meaning: Obama’s policies are a manifestation of exactly the militaristic mindset which King so eloquently denounced. Obama has always been fond of invoking King’s phrase “fierce urgency of now”, yet ironically, that is lifted from this anti-war speech, one that stands as a stinging repudiation of the continuous killing and violence Obama has spent the last four years unleashing on many countries around the world (Max Blumenthal suggested that Obama’s second inaugural speech be entitled “I have a drone”).”

  16. MLK’s vehement condemnations of US militarism are more relevant than ever

    His vital April 4, 1967 speech is a direct repudiation of the sophistry now used to defend US violence and aggression

    by Glenn Greenwald


    The civil right achievements of Martin Luther King are quite justly the focus of the annual birthday commemoration of his legacy. But it is remarkable, as I’ve noted before on this holiday, how completely his vehement anti-war advocacy is ignored when commemorating his life (just as his economic views are). By King’s own description, his work against US violence and militarism, not only in Vietnam but generally, was central – indispensable – to his worldview and activism, yet it has been almost completely erased from how he is remembered.

    King argued for the centrality of his anti-militarism advocacy most eloquently on April 4, 1967, at Riverside Church in New York City – exactly one year before the day he was murdered. That extraordinary speech was devoted to answering his critics who had been complaining that his anti-war activism was distracting from his civil rights work (“Peace and civil rights don’t mix, they say. Aren’t you hurting the cause of your people, they ask?”). King, citing seven independent reasons, was adamant that ending US militarism and imperialism was not merely a moral imperative in its own right, but a prerequisite to achieving any meaningful reforms in American domestic life.

    In that speech, King called the US government “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today”, as well as the leading exponent of “the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long” (is there any surprise this has been whitewashed from his legacy?). He emphasized that his condemnations extended far beyond the conflict in Southeast Asia: “the war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit.” He insisted that no significant social problem – wealth inequality, gun violence, racial strife – could be resolved while the US remains “a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift” – a recipe, he said, for certain “spiritual death”. For that reason, he argued, “it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war.” That’s because:

    “If America’s soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read Vietnam. It can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the world over.”

    Working against US imperialism was, he said, “the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation’s self-defined goals and positions.” For King, opposing US violence in the world was not optional but obligatory: “We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy . . . .” The entire speech is indescribably compelling and its applicability to contemporary US behavior obvious. I urge everyone who hasn’t already done so to take the time to read it.

    Barack Obama’s grand inaugural ceremony will take place today on the holiday memorializing King’s birthday. Obama will always be linked in history to King because his election (and re-election) as America’s first African-American president is, standing alone, an inspiring by-product of King’s work on racial justice. But this symbolic link has another, less inspiring symbolic meaning: Obama’s policies are a manifestation of exactly the militaristic mindset which King so eloquently denounced. Obama has always been fond of invoking King’s phrase “fierce urgency of now”, yet ironically, that is lifted from this anti-war speech, one that stands as a stinging repudiation of the continuous killing and violence Obama has spent the last four years unleashing on many countries around the world (Max Blumenthal suggested that Obama’s second inaugural speech be entitled “I have a drone”).

    What I always found most impressive, most powerful, about King’s April 4 speech is the connection he repeatedly made between American violence in the world and its national character. Endless war wasn’t just destructive in its own right, but is something that ensures that America’s “soul becomes totally poisoned”, fosters “spiritual death”, perpetuates the “malady within the American spirit”, and elevates “the Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them.” In sum, to pursue endless war is “to worship the god of hate” and “bow before the altar of retaliation”.

    This is the overarching point that drives our current debates about war and militarism through today. The debasement of the national psyche, the callousness toward continuous killing, the belief that the US has not only the right but the duty to bring violence anywhere in the world that it wants: that is what lies at the heart of America’s ongoing embrace of endless war. A rotted national soul does indeed enable leaders to wage endless war, but endless war also rots the national soul, exactly as King warned. At times this seems to be an inescapable, self-perpetuating cycle of degradation.

    One of the best decisions the US ever made was to commemorate King’s birthday as a national holiday. He’s as close to a prophet as American history offers. But the distance between the veneration expressed for him and the principles he espoused seems to grow every year. When it comes to King’s views on US militarism, nothing more potently illustrates that distance than the use of King’s holiday to re-inaugurate the 44th president.

  17. “”That’s the Washington, D.C. parlor game of the moment, discussing whether the Obama coalition is a coalition that’s going to survive Obama and carry on, or is it just uniquely Barack Obama’s achievement?” Craig told The Huffington Post. “Or does the vote of the women and the young people and the African-Americans and the gays, you know, and the Hispanics survive and go on and create additional Democratic majorities in the future?”

    “And that’s too early too tell, much too early to tell,” Craig said.” Huffington Post You can now add Asians to the coalition. They voted for Obama at 71 percent.

  18. “…very disappointing that former President George W. Bush is not present…”

    He decided not to go lest he be blamed for the low turnout…because it’s all Bush’s fault!

  19. There sure are a lot of political cowards here today….. Not that it makes a difference…. Herpes is still herpes…. It lasts forever….

  20. Scrolling down, I say……

    Beautifully and accurately review of where we stand today.
    Expecting a slap at Obama, find that they were given to us, networks, etc and even our stupid expectations that it will get better without pressure from us.

    Keep it up please. Professor Turley.

  21. (Thanks, Blouise, for the nudge)


    I only skimmed the piece, but the following snippet resonated…

    “Mr. Obama’s top advisers say they often feel alienated from the president. There is a sense in the White House that “Barack Obama’s theory of government is he is the government.””

  22. I love the parlor democrats explaining why Obama is better than the other….. This is directed to Elaine…..

  23. As Rafflaw points out, it is the money that screws it up. Of course we could try that way and find that power is enough to get any candidate to sell himself, a la Rome.

    President Obama, he started to sell himself, you decide when.
    But definitely to his party, endorsing privately its true “ideals”, ie more money for them. He went on doing it all the way to the White House, picking needed cash for promises along the way. Bought and now paid as Prez, what the hell do we expect? ´Mr. Clean???

    And he knows what happens to those who buck the system. No president ever forgets the lesson of JFK.

    Run for President. Let me know how that goes in light of what I write above. No snark, just a perhaos uncomfortable for us both realization.

  24. Rather have Beyonce singing the national anthem than Romney’s campaign entertainer Ted Nugent…. so many differences.

  25. Bev; Bush is a coward. He knows he could be disgraced or worse in public these days. Or he would do something really disgusting with that smirk of his, some off hand remark, some embarrassment- no doubt about that. His life time form is not going to change.

  26. Sleeping Through a Revolution: It’s Time for President Obama to Wake Up to the True Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

    By John W. Whitehead

    January 21, 2013


    Stand up for what is right, rather than what is politically expedient.

    “On some positions, cowardice asks the question, is it expedient? And then expedience comes along and asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? Conscience asks the question, is it right? There comes a time when one must take the position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right.”—Martin Luther King Jr., Sermon at National Cathedral (March 31, 1968)

    Five days before his murder, King delivered a sermon at National Cathedral in Washington, DC, in which he noted that “one of the great liabilities of life is that all too many people find themselves living amid a great period of social change, and yet they fail to develop the new attitudes, the new mental responses, that the new situation demands. They end up sleeping through a revolution.”

    As King recognized, there is much to be done if we are to make this world a better place, and we cannot afford to play politics when so much hangs in the balance. It’s time, Mr. President, to wake up. To quote your hero: “[O]ur very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change. The large house in which we live demands that we transform this world-wide neighborhood into a world-wide brotherhood. Together we must learn to live as brothers or together we will be forced to perish as fools.”

  27. ap,
    Just one man’s opinion, but I think the NY Times piece was a hit job and with few, if any sources. I do agree with your Greenwald link, however.
    Swarthmore mom,
    You are right about Beyonce. She did a great job with the anthem. I couldn’t even imagine someone like Nugent standing up there with that crowd, without his gun or bow.

  28. rafflaw,

    It was just that one small section that resonated with me — it rings true to me.. I posted the link only because it was the source.

  29. Not making much headway in the pile. So much to consider and say Amen to.

    Angela Davis,

    “To overcome poverty, to overcome racism, we must also overcome xenophobia, homophobia. Justice for African Americans is organically linked to justice for Palestinians. ”

    MLKjr said when against the advice of his support and addressing the subject of total committment: (paraphrase)
    “As long as a Vietnamese is not free, then I am not either”

    Some truthful words are said in church, NONE, unimpelled by money, are said in Congress……and that could be extended through all of society at leading levels.

    The guiding dictum is: ” What’s in it for me”

  30. ap,
    I understand. I think it was just another hit piece. If these advisors feel so alienated, they can resign and go public.

  31. Frankly, I think it is very disappointing that former President George W. Bush is not present.
    I don’t believe he squandered opportunities and I don’t think him a political coward by a longshot. I doubt that we saw even half of the obstacles he faced in office as the first Black President and to do anything surrounded by the kind of personal hostility leveraged at him by those with little Grace is even harder to imagine.
    Mr. Romney also lost an opport-unity to close the division in this Country by not showing up and showing us what good citizens the Republicans can be. There is interesting commentary on the lack of civil behaviour in the Republican party on the BBC as I type…. but if President Obama does nothing more than survive in office he will have done more good for this Country than many previous Presidents could boast….

    as an aside, has anyone else heard the terms ‘mob’ and ‘coup’ ever uttered in previous inaugerations?

  32. WASHINGTON (AP) — Some of the most cared for spectators at President Barack Obama’s inauguration were the Tuskegee Airmen, America’s first black military pilots.

    Most of those attending Monday were in wheelchairs. And active duty members of the military gave them green army blankets and checked on them every few minutes.

    The special attention was far different from how the airmen were treated in the World War II era. One of them, Homer Hogues of Dallas, says he marched with the segregated unit in the inauguration of President Harry S. Truman. Hogues says they were put up the night before in a segregated hangar with little heat while white forces were in barracks.

    Read more:

  33. “If these advisors feel so alienated, they can resign and go public.” -rafflaw

    If we’re lucky, maybe some of them will.

  34. “President Obama made history today when he mentioned both the Stonewall uprising and gay and lesbian people being treated “like anyone else under the law” during his second inauguration speech.

    “We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths — that all of us are created equal — is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall…” he said.

    He continued:

    “It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law — for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”

    This the first time that a president has addressed gay rights during an inauguration speech.” Huffington Post

  35. DHM Carver,

    Always glad for a dissenting thoughtful opinion here.

    But wonder if you are not overreacting to a few whining voices and confusing it with the liberal crowds opinion.

    And let’s face two things: The wheel that squeals gets the grease. and good news is not news and who listens to that—-so to retain your speaker soapbox you have to come with the bad stuff.

    I am honestly not well informed but your summation of the the political bind he was dealt by the congressional power swing—-all to get him out, does give compelling reasons to give him a pass.

    But, for myself, his results on Obama-care was practically a total losers capitulation to insurance companies et al.

    And his teams political ineptness and his striving to appear fair, reasonable, in short his strivings to be the President of ALL the people, led instead to his not being the President who could lead his own troops, much less the nation.

    Don’t make concessions of major points BEFORE negotiations have started.
    He does constantly. I don’t give a skit if he is fair, I want my causes advanced, skillfully and cleverly.

  36. ” For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. ”
    the efforts of most women are so far off the charts that few could truly afford to reimburse fairly….. ;)

  37. ElaineM,

    How nice to see you. And your sobering/laughing gift of a piece by Pierce.

    I will just on Woodward saý that Russ Baker in his Bush Family book (500+pages and densely referenced, and +++ review by MikeS)
    puts Woodward, (ex-mil intelligence (top level)) in an improbable job at Wash Post, getting a year’s minor league prep course, and then Woodward is placed strategically as the responsible to handle the first stages of Watergate on his city beat covering local crime in WashDC.

    Baker goes on to say that Woodward was a CIA agent/officer who steered the Watergate agenda. Why and who would want that to happen?
    HW Bush, cleverly the RNC chairman, and a few others who felt for different reasons that it was time to unseat him (more to be said here). Nixon was too liberal as Noam Chomsky declared to Harvard OWS student celebrators. Utube.
    So at any rate, HW used his CIA connections to get what he wanted.

    Bob? He became the celebrity who keeps his torch lit and held high. Behind the scenes spooking did not appeal to him. Now he is a celebrity. To each his own.

    Any proofs? Addressing that question to me is futile.

  38. SWM,
    Crossing my fingers for you both. Why come to Wash? None of my business……your choice. I would too, if I could.

    re two-time Kenyan president. We are an exceptional country. Time to let the outstanding people of the world lead us. Idealistic over-kill? Yes.

  39. @ Woosty ” I doubt that we saw even half of the obstacles he faced in office as the first Black President and to do anything surrounded by the kind of personal hostility leveraged at him by those with little Grace is even harder to imagine.”

    I think this is quite a right observation, and one I’ve had myself. However (there’s always an however), my impatience runs something along these line, acknowledging that I know nothing: the nation really cannot afford to have Obama work out all the/his hangups in lieu of meaningful action. If he can’t take action it behooves him to find an effective way to delineate the crisis.To find that effective way might require greatness. The scope of the role of president is tailor made to allow for greatness.

    I have no idea whether Obama is basically totally coopted by the PTB, or in full accord. My view of his performance, and perhaps his preparation and personality are much at fault, is that he is a flop when it comes to greatness. His marker as the first black president may be his most lasting contribution. The nation, however (to repeat) heeds greatness from some quarter, Now not 50 years from now.

    Those who say Romney would have been a disaster may be trapped in the status quo thinking that extrapolates in a straight line — expectations based on an uninspired sameness to the trajectory of our politics. I tend to think that too. but I am not so entrapped by linear thinking not to believe that our nation is on a depressing and dangerous trajectory, regardless of which suit plays uninspired president

  40. Another edition of calling a spade a spade by Marcy Wheeler:


    “This Term’s Inauguration Day Order: Nominate Drone Assassination Czar CIA Director”:

    “Four years ago, the first act President Obama took after swearing to protect and defend the Constitution was to order the closure of Gitmo.”

    “Rather than closing Gitmo, Obama’s Administration greatly expanded our prison in Bagram, and gutted habeas so as to keep a probably innocent man in Gitmo; that man has since died under suspicious circumstances.

    “Today, on this day celebrating the heroism of Martin Luther King Jr., Obama’s first act will be equally as symbolic as last term’s–though it will likely be a good deal more honest about the direction of his Administration.

    “Along with Jack Lew, John Kerry, and Chuck Hagel to their new posts, Obama will formally nominate John Brennan, his Drone Assassination Czar, to lead the CIA.

    “Update: And he just signed it, just after swearing to protect the Constitution.

  41. “Obama at a 49 percent popularity rate. While he remains personally popular, the overall popularity rate below fifty percent is comparable to Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford — two presidents who ultimately languished in office.”


    By my calculation he has a 51.06% relative approval rating which is exactly the popular vote of the election. That’s the only poll that matters.

  42. JT:

    “My 86-year-old mother drove in from Chicago with my brother for the inauguration. She was here for the first Obama inaugural and remains a steadfast supporter.”


    BTW Mrs. Turley (both of them but my reference is to the senior one from Chicago) has a 100% approval rating with me.

    As your Italian mother likely knows, “Chi si prede cura dei bambini deve accettare il bene ed il male.” The Italian saying is roughly translated as, “Those whose job it is to take care of children have to accept the good with the bad.’

    Sort of applies to Obama, too. See, there’s wisdom in age.

  43. Has it quietened here? I was away hoping for the latest; Is he alive, assassinated or what. TheTelegraph, Googles top choice, gave skit from the walk in the death zone. They O and M seemed more relaxed. He has showned those that paid him that he knows his place, no matter what his color. (I had a white swede billionaire as wardroom companion whose suntan made him darker than Obama appears to be.) And in the four years with his leadership, the checks have lead to a thinning of the ranks of the nuts, and he won’t go the way of JFK.

    Now C-span says they are on the way at 8PM your time.

    I clipped a bit of text from Cspan to post as consolation prize to SWM. With all my love.

    “….and attend the public Inaugural Ball being held at the Washington Convention Center.”

    I guess it was here you were invited to, or was it the CinC military ball where you would have been. Deep and dark secrets lurk at JT’s

    Now I am exhausted—-don’t cheer! And will as a condition to hold me up 30 minutes more will no longer kibbitz.

    PS Notice how each and every inauguration tops the previous one.
    What amateurs they were in Truman’s time. Just shows what Hollywood et al can do if you let’em. Was it Nixon who started the 1776 troop stuff.
    Now they look like done by a cookie cutter. Who knows, maybe they are.
    They aren’t real soldiers who die in Afghan, are they.
    When did you see a gold-starred window to remind you of another’s loss.

    Nothing like a professional army manned by the poor. Talk about equality, which is said to be one of the component parts of big O’s speech.

    Put down your emetics and barf bags. I am gone……..maybe :-)

  44. You find it DISAPPOINTING that Boy Blunder is not there?!? Yeah and I find it disappointing that the black plague has not had a come back too. The country is better off the further the worst President in the history of the country is from any center of power.

    I really can’t catch up with your thought process. You complain about the unrelenting abuse of power yet you claim to want the worst abuser to walk arm in arm with the current President in some sort of kumbya moment that will improve the situation. That makes no sense at all

  45. SWM, I hope the surgery goes well. Please don’t lose your soul if you move to Spin City.

    I have 2 kids in their 20’s. The job market is still horrible. My fear is our kids will have it WORSE than we did. Kids that age don’t expect SS to be there when they retire. We are shitting on our children’s future by giving them this historic debt. It’s despicable.

  46. I thought the speech was good but not remarkable, but then I can remember watching JFK’s innaugural address, which at the time was riveting. I was 16 at the time and much personal and public tragedy was coming to an unsuspected future. Missing of course were many issues that we deal with here, such as torture, Constitutional liberties and the power of the corporate plutocracy. Would we expect that they would be addressed? As for the peaceful transition of power, my own thoughts are that the real power in this country is opaque. It’s not hidden but nobody in the mainstream media ever addresses it directly.

    His reference to Stonewall was an important one to be made. As far as GW Bush being absent, was he not invited, or did he decline to come?

  47. When it comes to polls I dont read Gallup anymore or Rassmussen. I like a pollster analyst called Nate Silver. You have all heard of him. If Gallup were to be trusted we would have had a gypsie named Romney (nee Romanich) take the oath today. This President will take us forward.

  48. “He decided not to go lest he be blamed for the low turnout…because it’s all Bush’s fault!”

    He had help. A fact recognized more often than not in this forum.

  49. “Terror Tuesdays” will continue:

    “Brennan is the hitman of this administration.” -Jeremy Scahill

    Dirty Wars: Jeremy Scahill and Rick Rowley’s New Film Exposes Hidden Truths of Covert U.S. Warfare (a remarkable piece)

    Premiering this week at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, the new documentary “Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield” follows investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill to Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen as he chases down the hidden truths behind America’s expanding covert wars. We’re joined by Scahill and the film’s director, Rick Rowley, an independent journalist with Big Noise Films. “We’re looking right now at a reality that President Obama has essentially extended the very policies that many of his supporters once opposed under President Bush,” says Scahill, author of the bestseller “Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army” and a forthcoming book named after his film. “One of the things that humbles both of us is [when] you arrive at a village in Afghanistan and knock on someone’s door, you’re the first American they’ve seen since the Americans that kicked that door in and killed half their family,” Rowley says. “We promised them that we would do everything we could to make their stories be heard in the U.S. — finally, we’re able to keep those promises.”

  50. I have not been able to get back to this thread since I posted. idealist707, I just wanted to say thank you for differing with me respectfully, understanding the point I was making (versus DonS, for example), though not agreeing.

    If it sounded like I was hectoring, it was because I was — I have seen a lot of the left rightly aghast at compromises Obama has had to make, or at legislation that has been passed in various states or on the Federal level in the last two years, but I have seen virtually no acknowledgment from the left that the fact that they chose to sit out the 2010 midterms is why we ended up with a such a lurch to the right. We are right to be angry or frustrated, but we have to acknowledge the role we played as well.

  51. Dirty Wars: Jeremy Scahill and Rick Rowley’s New Film Exposes Hidden Truths of Covert U.S. Warfare

    AMY GOODMAN: Jeremy, talk about President Obama’s first four years and where we’re going now. You got a chance to hear his inaugural address; what you thought of it?

    JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, you know, I think if we look back at the—at the first term of the Obama administration, what we saw was you had this very popular Democratic president that had—who had campaigned, in terms of his broader rhetoric during the presidential campaign against John McCain, on the notion that he was going to transform the way that the U.S. conducted its foreign policy around the world. And, you know, he then proceeded to double down on some of the greatest excesses of the Bush administration. If you look at the use of the state secrets privilege; if you look at the way the Obama administration has expanded the drone wars; has empowered special operations forces, including from JSOC, the Joint Special Operations Command, to operate in countries where the United States is not at war; if you look at the way in which the Obama administration has essentially boxed Congress out of any effective oversight role of the covert aspects of U.S. foreign policy, what we really have is a president who has normalized, for many, many liberals in the United States, the policies that they once opposed under the Bush administration. And, you know, this really has been a war presidency.

    And, you know, yesterday, as the—as President Obama’s talking about how we don’t need a state of perpetual war, multiple U.S. drone strikes in Yemen, a country that we’re not at war with, where the U.S. has killed a tremendous number of civilians. Rick and I have spent a lot of time on the ground in Yemen. And, you know, to me, most disturbing about this is John Brennan, who really was the architect of this drone program and the expansion of the drone program—these guys are sitting around on Tuesdays at the White House in “Terror Tuesday” meetings, discussing who’s going to live and who’s going to die across the world. These guys have decided—

    AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean, “Terror Tuesday” meetings?

    JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, that’s what they’re referred to. You know, senior—when this first came out, senior White House officials said that they internally refer to them as “Terror Tuesdays,” where they meet and they go over the list of potential targets. And they have them, you know, on baseball cards in some cases. And they’re identifying people that they want to take out and that are on the U.S. kill list. And we have an ever-expanding kill list. You know, after 9/11, there were seven people on the U.S. kill list, and then we had the deck of cards in Iraq and Saddam and his top people. I mean, now there are thousands; it’s unknown how many people are on this kill list. And U.S. citizens—three U.S. citizens were killed in operations ordered by the president in late 2011, including, you know, as we reported on Democracy Now! before, the 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki.

    And, you know, so the appointment of Brennan to CIA, to me, is the greatest symbol of how deeply invested in covert war and an expansion of wars around the world and the notion that was popularized under the neocons of “the world is a battlefield,” that notion that the United States can strike in any country across the world, wherever it determines that terrorists or suspected militants may reside. The most disturbing part of this policy, to me—and I think also to people within the intelligence community who are looking at this—is that there are regions of Yemen or Pakistan where President Obama has authorized the U.S. to strike, even if they don’t know the identities of the people that they’re striking, the so-called “signature strike” policy. The idea that being a military-aged male in a certain region of a particular country around the world, that those people become legitimate targets based on their gender and their age and their geographic presence, that those are going to be legitimate targets is—

    AMY GOODMAN: Explain that.

    JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, I mean, this was something that started under the Bush administration, and when President Obama first took office, he was briefed on this by the then-director—the outgoing director of the CIA, Michael Hayden. And he described to him this policy that they had developed called “signature strikes,” where they were looking at patterns of life. If an individual had contact with certain other individuals, if they were traveling in a certain area at certain times, if they were gathering with a certain number of people, that there was a presumption that they must be up to no good, that they are suspected militants or suspected terrorists and that the U.S. could take preemptive action against those people—and by “preemptive action,” I mean killing them with a missile—that there was authorization to do that. In some cases, the president has actually pre-cleared theCIA to authorize these strikes without being directly notified.

    But President Obama, my understanding from sources, you know, within the intelligence and military world, has really sort of micromanaged this process. And, you know, Brennan has been—Brennan is basically the hit man of this administration, except he never has to go out and do the hitting himself. He orders, you know, planes and missile strikes and AC-130 strikes to, you know, hit in Somalia, in Yemen, in Pakistan. You know, we’re looking right now at a reality that President Obama has essentially extended the very policies that many of his supporters once opposed under President Bush. And I think it says something about the bankrupt nature of partisan politics in this country that the way we feel about life-or-death policies around the world is determined by who happens to be in office. I mean, that’s—that, to me, is a very sobering reality.

  52. Dirty Wars: Jeremy Scahill and Rick Rowley’s New Film Exposes Hidden Truths of Covert U.S. Warfare

    AMY GOODMAN: And tried to destroy Jerome Starkey’s reputation, meanwhile, back in Kabul in a news conference.

    JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah, I mean, Jerome Starkey—there’s a couple of journalists in our film who really emerge as the heroes of the story that we’re telling. Another one is currently in jail in Yemen right now, and we can maybe talk about him, named Abdulelah Haider Shaye—and we’ve talked about him on the show before—in jail because President Obama intervened, when he was about to be pardoned, to keep him in jail after he exposed the role, U.S. role, in certain missile strikes.

    AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean he intervened, if you could just say for a moment?

    JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, I mean, there was—the journalist who first exposed the missile strike I was talking about earlier in al-Majalah, Yemen, Abdulelah Haider Shaye, had taken photographs of the U.S. missile parts, and that’s how we first learned that it was in fact U.S. cruise missiles. And Yemen doesn’t have cruise missiles. And so, after he did his reporting and continued to report on the expanding U.S. air war in Yemen, he was snatched from his home by the U.S.-backed Yemeni counterterrorism units and then was put on trial for allegedly being an al-Qaeda facilitator or propagandist and was sentenced to five years in prison. There was huge protests as his trial was denounced as a sham by international human rights and media organizations. And he was about to be pardoned by the Yemeni president, because there was tremendous pressure in the country, and then President Obama called President Ali Abdullah Saleh and expressed his concern over the release of Abdulelah Haider Shaye.

    AMY GOODMAN: The reporter.

    JEREMY SCAHILL: The reporter. And then the pardon was ripped up after that. And his lawyers say, clearly, that he’s in jail because of Obama’s intervention, that he would have been released. And lest you think this is some kind of a conspiracy theory, you can hop onto the White House website and see the readout of the phone call from that day. The White House put it openly. When I called the State Department to ask them about the case, they said, “We stand by President Obama’s position on—initial position on this,” regarding this journalist. They don’t even refer to him as a journalist, “regarding this individual.” He had worked with ABC News, The Washington Post — you know, very small, unknown media outlets. And I heard from a very—someone inside of a very prominent news organization in the U.S. told me that they had been called by the administration when they were working with Abdulelah Haider Shaye and told that “You should stop working with him, because he takes his paychecks and gives them to al-Qaeda.” I mean, they tried to slander this journalist behind the scenes and in front.

  53. Why Is President Obama Keeping a Journalist in Prison in Yemen?
    Jeremy Scahill

    March 13, 2012


    Saleh has been known to exploit the threat of terrorism to leverage counterterrorism dollars from the United States. But this case was different. Abdulelah Haider Shaye is not an Islamist militant or an Al Qaeda operative. He is a journalist.

    While Shaye, 35, had long been known as a brave, independent-minded journalist in Yemen, his collision course with the US government appears to have been set in December 2009. On December 17, the Yemeni government announced that it had conducted a series of strikes against an Al Qaeda training camp in the village of al Majala in Yemen’s southern Abyan province, killing a number of Al Qaeda militants. As the story spread across the world, Shaye traveled to al Majala. What he discovered were the remnants of Tomahawk cruise missiles and cluster bombs, neither of which are in the Yemeni military’s arsenal. He photographed the missile parts, some of them bearing the label “Made in the USA,” and distributed the photos to international media outlets. He revealed that among the victims of the strike were women, children and the elderly. To be exact, fourteen women and twenty-one children were killed. Whether anyone actually active in Al Qaeda was killed remains hotly contested. After conducting his own investigation, Shaye determined that it was a US strike. The Pentagon would not comment on the strike and the Yemeni government repeatedly denied US involvement. But Shaye was later vindicated when Wikileaks released a US diplomatic cable that featured Yemeni officials joking about how they lied to their own parliament about the US role, while President Saleh assured Gen. David Petraeus that his government would continue to lie and say “the bombs are ours, not yours.”

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