74 thoughts on “President Obama at the 2012 White House Correspondents’ Dinner”

  1. “The left wing fringe does not seem to have as much influence as the right wing fringe does in this country.”

    SwM,

    The problem with the Left Wing fringe in this country is that they are not about politics which is an art of attaining the possible, but more concerned with their own political purity. I understand the need to have ideals, as do I understand the need to be ready to take a stand for what you believe is right. However, I don’t believe in actual and/or philosophical martyr-ism. My political premises begin with the notion that “standing by and merely disparaging” is akin to giving permission. I refuse to give permission, but I also refuse to stand above the fray preening in my purity. Our electoral system is not working and is biased towards wealth, that doesn’t mean to me that I should opt out by voting
    for a boutique candidate who’ll garner mere percentage points of votes. Contrary to Glenn Greenwald and Tom Egelhardt, I despise Ralph Nader and believe him to be an ego-maniacal phony, who at some point did some good things.

  2. “But if you’re right, can you tell us what the plan is for Iran? Do you think that Romney and Obama will have the same policy?”

    Curious,

    I think the M.I. Complex and the 1% want to attack Iran for its oil. To an extent the Obama administration senses that there is no national consensus that favors this and that is why they are holding off, or hoping Israel will do it. The military and intelligence establishment in Israel though, is clearly sending messages that the idea of an Israeli attack is ridiculous and merely a fantasy of Netanyahu and Ehud Barack. See here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/29/ehud-olmert-iran-strike_n_1462928.html . Netanyahu is a creature of the Republican right down to his campaign strategist and follows the lie that wants to attack Iran, pretending it about nuclear arms, rather than oil riches.

    Romney has said that he wants to attack Iran and complains Obama isn’t doing enough to go forward. I think that right now attacking Iran is a tossup given the lack of overwhelming public support for yet another war. I also believe that Romney’s election, given his expressed opinion, will be taken as a sign by the M.I. Complex that they are able to go ahead and attack.

    There are few on this website that view our political situation in the U.S. with more skepticism and more alarm than I do. That is provable by looking at most of the articles I’ve written. Where I differ from some that hold similar views to mine, is that I want to stave off immediate disaster in order to give a true movement for change a chance to grow and thrive. That begins with having the ability to educate people as to the truth of what we have become as a country and develop a broad based movement for true change. Right now the majority of Americans have been pacified into believing the myth of the “American Dream” and can’t see the game is rigged against them. While the economic downturn is educating more people every day, the mainstream propaganda is keeping them from focusing on the true culprits. We need to counter that propaganda in a way that doesn’t shut off peoples minds with fear and concurrently makes them angry enough to want real change. This takes a movement and this takes time.

    Given the way free speech and civil liberties have deteriorated, a Romney victory will give incentive to further deteriorate these rights and allow the Right to move further in their war against women.

  3. Jill Stein might not get endorsed by the Green Party. She has to do battle Roseanne Barr and someone else. I happened to drop by FDL one day, and they were arguing about whether to support Jill or Rocky. Don’t know what party he is with. The left wing fringe does not seem to have as much influence as the right wing fringe does in this country. You get some of both on this blog, and sometimes they agree. They agree about Obama, for sure.

  4. curious, Prospects are much more favorable that a war with Iran will be avoided than they were a few months ago.

  5. “Change won’t happen if we all continue to vote least evil.”

    Bettykath,

    How do you see change happening if we don’t vote least evil. There is logic to your choice, but what does it get us, except more evil.

  6. Jill: “Either you stand for certain principles or you don’t. It is past time to stand for justice and the rule of law. This is true whether the enemy is foreign or domestic. Fear does not excuse the acceptance and promotion of a candidate who commits war and financial crimes”

    That’s why I vote 3rd party. I expect Jill Stein will be on the ballot and she will get my vote. Change won’t happen if we all continue to vote least evil.

    =======================
    Why is the CIA in charge of the drones? I thought they were supposed to be our spies and the military was in charge of mass killing.

  7. Mike,

    I’m not convinced that foreign policy is a “done deal”. But if you’re right, can you tell us what the plan is for Iran? Do you think that Romney and Obama will have the same policy?

  8. Monday, Apr 30, 2012 07:52 AM EDT

    Dog-training the press corps

    Journalists who heap the most lavish praise on the White House are rewarded with the most valuable treats

    By Glenn Greenwald

    http://www.salon.com/2012/04/30/dog_training_the_press_corps/singleton/

    “There are many words for this behavior. “Adversarial,” “independent,” and “watchdog” are, manifestly, not among them. But it produces many personal rewards for them. It’s what David Halberstam meant when he spoke to Columbia Journalism School students less than a year before his death in 2007 and said: “By and large, the more famous you are, the less of a journalist you are.” He added: “One of the things I learned, the easiest of lessons, was that the better you do your job, often going against conventional mores, the less popular you are likely to be. (So, if you seek popularity, this is probably not the profession for you.).” One could similarly say: the more the White House chooses you for all sorts of rewards, invitations, access and favors, and the more praise it lavishes on you, the less of a journalist and the more of a state propagandist you are.”

  9. Love the Gawker piece, AN,”the most powerful elements of our nation’s DC press corps are all “on the same team” as the people they cover (politicians) and the people they idolize (celebrities). This is called the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, and it is the single most revolting annual gathering of pseudojournalistic cocksuckery in all the land.”

    “This is the DC press corps, which has arguably the most important job in American journalism: informing the public about the activities of its government, and serving as a strong and omnipresent check on the government’s power. Great to know that our fearless watchdogs are busy swilling wine with the people they are supposed to be covering . . .”

    “The United States of America is currently at war. In part because of the DC press corps’ soft, friendly relationship with those in power. Glad to see they’ve learned their lesson from that.”

    ————————————-
    I suppose some would say we ARE all on the same team, politicians and pundits and journalists”. That would be the Murcan team.

    But that’s a ruse; only if you point that out, you’re liable to be called a bad Murcan.

  10. “The only chance I have to make a difference with my voting is to go into the republican primary in May and vote for the republicans that are not tea party affiliated.” (SwM)

    Not a bad idea, IMO

  11. Mke S, You live in one of the key swing states as you know. I will vote a straight democratic ticket, also, and probably not one of them will be elected. The only chance I have to make a difference with my voting is to go into the republican primary in May and vote for the republicans that are not tea party affiliated. I don’t think I can do that, though, because they still stand in oppostion to women’s rights among other things, but, at least, they are not extremists. I could still vote for our friend, Ron Paul, lol.

  12. Professor Turley is quoted:

    http://www.nationaljournal.com/magazine/republic-of-fear-20120426

    Republic of Fear

    President Obama was supposed to reverse the counterterrorism excesses that had eroded our civil liberties. Instead, those excesses became part of who we are.

    By James Kitfield

    Updated: April 30, 2012 | 9:58 a.m.
    April 26, 2012 | 2:00 p.m.

    “President Obama has gone from taking torture off the table on his first day in office to claiming the power to secretly identify an American citizen as a suspected terrorist and authorize his killing,” says Karen Greenberg, director of the Center for National Security at Fordham University. Without oversight, she said, the category of whom can be targeted will almost certainly swell. At one point, the Pentagon expanded its classified “capture or kill” mandate to include Afghan drug dealers. And the CIA recently sought authority to kill targets in Yemen “based solely on intelligence indicating patterns of suspicious behavior,” according to The Washington Post. “The public doesn’t seem to care,” said Greenberg, who notes that American juries seem unable even to assume innocence in terrorism cases. “They will almost never risk letting someone go free if the government says they are terrorists. That’s how your civil rights disappear over time.”

    What’s more, those changes are getting locked in place. “Both Presidents Bush and Obama have successfully adopted an argument that we are in a state of perpetual war that requires presidential authority to remain largely unchecked and unlimited,” says Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law professor at George Washington University. “And they have both used that authority to justify a great array of abuses that range from the torture of prisoners to the killing of American citizens by their own government without charge or trial. That’s the very definition of authoritarian power, and it legitimizes the actions of the most tyrannical regimes on earth.”
    ACQUIESCENCE

    The Obama administration can reasonably argue that it abolished torture and would have closed Guantánamo had Congress assented. Democrats can explain their general silence on the retreat of civil liberties with the need to protect the right flank of their president. Republicans, meanwhile, can claim credit for helping keep the balance between civil liberties and national security weighted toward the latter. The Supreme Court can say it gave habeas corpus rights to detainees (although lower courts have greatly diluted the protection by easing the government’s burden of proof). The American people can take comfort in the fact that there has been no major terrorist attack since Sept. 11, 2001. But how did we go from a bipartisan consensus to restore civil liberties in 2008 to a full retreat before the juggernaut of intrusive government powers?

    In retrospect, civil libertarians read more into Obama’s rhetoric about “restoring the rule of law” than he actually promised (or was able to deliver). Democrats almost certainly underestimated the popular resonance of Cheney’s argument that “in the fight against terrorism there is no middle ground, and half-measures leave you half exposed.” They failed to anticipate how quickly talk radio, cable television, and 24/7 media can amplify and distort such fears.

    There’s also the matter of unlucky timing. In Obama’s first years, a series of high-profile terrorist plots reawakened memories of 9/11: Najibullah Zazi’s plan to blow up New York City subways; Farouk Abdulmutallab’s attempt to bring down an airliner over Detroit; and Faisal Shahzad’s scheme to bomb Times Square. By the time Holder proposed to try Mohammed in a New York federal court, the backlash of fear had already begun. The administration was forced into a full retreat from which it never fully recovered.

    Finally, Obama’s tough approach to counterterrorism has played well, reversing the GOP’s long dominance on national-security issues. In an ABC News/Washington Post poll in February, 56 percent of respondents said that Obama’s record on terrorism is a major reason to support him. A Washington Post poll the same month found that 83 percent of Americans approved of the use of drone aircraft against terrorist suspects overseas, 65 percent supported the use of drones to target suspected American terrorists living abroad, and 70 percent approved of “keeping open the prison at Guantánamo Bay for terrorist suspects.”

    Yet it is also increasingly clear that what makes this period almost uniquely dangerous in the nation’s history is the hybrid nature (part criminal, part military) and endless horizon of the conflict. Some Qaida suspects are given Miranda rights and charged under criminal statutes in federal courts. Others are held in a military prison and prosecuted by military commissions. Still others get blown apart far from any acknowledged battlefield, all under our current laws of warfare. With the two legal regimes routinely conflated, it’s no wonder that the public is confused about what accords with American principles.

    The length of the conflict compounds the problem. “The government almost always expands its power in moments of great crisis, and civil liberties sharply decline,” Turley says. “What’s different today is that Americans have over time been lolled into a deep sleep of passivity.” He believes that the Framers would have been shocked to hear Holder tell his fellow citizens that the president has the right to kill any one of them on his own authority—let alone to hear it met by applause. “The danger is not just that our laws have changed to an unprecedented degree since 9/11,” Turley says. “We appear to have changed as citizens.”

    The lack of any definable end to the threat forestalls the self-correcting cycle that followed past wars and crises, when civil-liberties abuses—the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, for instance—were reexamined and reversed. In an endless conflict, the exigencies of war get embedded not only in statutory and legal structures, but also in the consciousness of the American people.”

  13. “At home, on issues of domestic importance, Obama is a hamstrung, hogtied president, strikingly checked and balanced. Since the passage of his embattled healthcare bill, he has, in a sense, been in chains, able to accomplish next to nothing of his domestic program………………………………..
    And were Mitt Romney to be elected, given congressional realities, this would be unlikely to change in the next four years.”

    Anon Nurse,

    As you know we are in agreement on much of what your write and on the correctness of the references you present. I doubt that our world view differs significantly. However, I must take issue with Tom Engelhardt, as much as I respect his insight, because his focus is far too narrow and his understanding is too limited. My view of the world is probably more dystopian than his, if such is possible. I’ve written of it here: http://jonathanturley.org/2012/03/17/a-real-history-of-the-last-sixty-two-years/ and here: http://jonathanturley.org/2012/03/10/what-motivates-the-1/. Riffs on this general theme are also in my articles: “A Corporate Tale”, “Hypocrisy Democracy: What’s Going On?”, “The Authoritarians”, A Book Review and Book”, “America’s Transcendent Issue”, and early on in “The President Has Been Afraid of What?”.

    In “The President Has Been Afraid of What?” there is a quote that I think sums up what has been going on with our foreign policy/wars quite well and it is the issue to which writers like Englehardt give short shrift and thus taint their analysis:

    “On September 7th, Rob Kall’s OpEdNews published “Obama Team Feared Coup If He Prosecuted War Crimes”. Andrew Kreig, executive director of the Justice Integrity Project, wrote this article. There are some very persuasive points in it”.

    Almost all my writing here has been variations on the theme that the U.S. is under the control of a cabal of the Military Industrial Complex and the 1%. The only thing keeping us from a completely authoritarian environment is that the egos of the various players prevents their unification on a solid totalitarian platform. Some prefer a more moderate approach, while others are flat out in favor of a return to feudalism. Foreign Policy, however, is a done deal. Were any President, or potential President deviate from the initiative towards an imperial America, they would wind up as did JFK and RFK.

    The ego that leads any person to seek the Presidency has to be so overweening that they assume that they will be able to accomplish their goals once in “power”. I believe that after they gain the office they are disabused of that notion. This wasn’t always the way, for if you remember Ike’s famous last speech about “Beware of the Military-Industrial Complex” was perhaps the realization coming to a man who had served eight years as President. JFK also began his term believing that he held the reins of power, wet against the M.I. Complex and we know the end to that story. I think since then Presidents are warned early on about the parameters constricting their policies and adhere to it under the possibility of removal.

    It is only in the area of domestic policy where there is some leeway ad that gap in the power structure is closing fast. Romney’s election will be a clear signal to our plutocracy that they are i complete control of us and the the ballgame is indeed over. That is why I am voting a straight Democratic ticket this year, even though I know well the hypocrisy that takes place beyond the view of most of us Americans. It is only one step to be taken. The harder step is to convince the majority of Americans that their democracy has become a sham. That is the harder job and I fear will be impossible if Mitt takes power.

  14. Krugman…… I need to put glasses when I type. Too old to try to type without glasses on.

  15. Occupy Wall Street Plans Global Disruption of Status Quo May 1

    Henry Goldman and Esmé E. Deprez, ©2012 Bloomberg News

    Monday, April 30, 2012

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2012/04/30/bloomberg_articlesM33VV81A1I4I01-M35OA.DTL#ixzz1tWpWNfNO

    “We call upon people to refrain from shopping, walk out of class, take the day off of work and other creative forms of resistance disrupting the status quo,” organizers said in an April 26 e-mail.”

  16. “What should we do to help America’s young? Basically, the opposite of what Mr. Romney and his friends want. We should be expanding student aid, not slashing it. And we should reverse the de facto austerity policies that are holding back the U.S. economy — the unprecedented cutbacks at the state and local level, which have been hitting education especially hard.

    Yes, such a policy reversal would cost money. But refusing to spend that money is foolish and shortsighted even in purely fiscal terms. Remember, the young aren’t just America’s future; they’re the future of the tax base, too.

    A mind is a terrible thing to waste; wasting the minds of a whole generation is even more terrible. Let’s stop doing it.” Paul Krigman

  17. Tomgram: Engelhardt, A Global-Profiling President
    Posted by Tom Engelhardt at 5:55pm, April 29, 2012.

    http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175535/tomgram%3A_engelhardt%2C_a_global-profiling_president/

    [Note for TomDispatch Readers: If you missed the conversation Jeremy Scahill and I had this weekend on Book TV (CSPAN-2) about my book The United States of Fear and how the Obama administration has turned the planet into a global free-fire zone, you can still catch it by clicking here. Tom]

    The Obama Contradiction
    Weakling at Home, Imperial President Abroad

    By Tom Engelhardt

    Excerpts:

    He has few constraints (except those he’s internalized). No one can stop him or countermand his orders. He has a bevy of lawyers at his beck and call to explain the “legality” of his actions. And if he cares to, he can send a robot assassin to kill you, whoever you are, no matter where you may be on planet Earth.

    He sounds like a typical villain from a James Bond novel. You know, the kind who captures Bond, tells him his fiendish plan for dominating the planet, ties him up for some no less fiendish torture, and then leaves him behind to gum up the works.

    As it happens, though, he’s the president of the United State, a nice guy with a charismatic wife and two lovely kids.

    That path, already widening into a road, may, someday, become the killing equivalent of an autobahn. In that case, making such decisions will be ever easier for an imperial president as American society grows yet more detached from the wars fought and operations launched in its name. In terms of the president’s power to kill by decree, whether Obama gets his second term or Mitt Romney steps into the Oval Office, the reach of the commander-in-chief presidency and the “covert” campaigns, so secret they can’t even be acknowledged in a court of law, so public they can be boasted about, will only increase.

    This is a dangerous development, which leaves us in the grip — for now — of what might be called the Obama conundrum. At home, on issues of domestic importance, Obama is a hamstrung, hogtied president, strikingly checked and balanced. Since the passage of his embattled healthcare bill, he has, in a sense, been in chains, able to accomplish next to nothing of his domestic program. Even when trying to exercise the unilateral powers that have increasingly been invested in presidents, what he can do on his own has proven exceedingly limited, a series of tiny gestures aimed at the largest of problems. And were Mitt Romney to be elected, given congressional realities, this would be unlikely to change in the next four years.

    On the other hand, the power of the president as commander-in-chief has never been greater. If Obama is the president of next to nothing on the domestic policy front (but fundraising for his second term), he has the powers previously associated with the gods when it comes to war-making abroad. There, he is the purveyor of life and death. At home, he is a hamstrung weakling, at war he is — to use a term that has largely disappeared since the 1970s — an imperial president.

    Such contradictions call for resolution and that should worry us all.

    Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The American Way of War: How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s as well as The End of Victory Culture, runs the Nation Institute’s TomDispatch.com. His latest book is The United States of Fear (Haymarket Books). That path, already widening into a road, may, someday, become the killing equivalent of an autobahn. In that case, making such decisions will be ever easier for an imperial president as American society grows yet more detached from the wars fought and operations launched in its name. In terms of the president’s power to kill by decree, whether Obama gets his second term or Mitt Romney steps into the Oval Office, the reach of the commander-in-chief presidency and the “covert” campaigns, so secret they can’t even be acknowledged in a court of law, so public they can be boasted about, will only increase.

    This is a dangerous development, which leaves us in the grip — for now — of what might be called the Obama conundrum. At home, on issues of domestic importance, Obama is a hamstrung, hogtied president, strikingly checked and balanced. Since the passage of his embattled healthcare bill, he has, in a sense, been in chains, able to accomplish next to nothing of his domestic program. Even when trying to exercise the unilateral powers that have increasingly been invested in presidents, what he can do on his own has proven exceedingly limited, a series of tiny gestures aimed at the largest of problems. And were Mitt Romney to be elected, given congressional realities, this would be unlikely to change in the next four years.

    On the other hand, the power of the president as commander-in-chief has never been greater. If Obama is the president of next to nothing on the domestic policy front (but fundraising for his second term), he has the powers previously associated with the gods when it comes to war-making abroad. There, he is the purveyor of life and death. At home, he is a hamstrung weakling, at war he is — to use a term that has largely disappeared since the 1970s — an imperial president.

    Such contradictions call for resolution and that should worry us all.

    (end of excerpts)

    Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The American Way of War: How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s as well as The End of Victory Culture, runs the Nation Institute’s TomDispatch.com. His latest book is The United States of Fear (Haymarket Books).

    (And many Americans wouldn’t believe some of the things going on covertly here in the U.S.)

  18. Romney’s election at this point in time means that the patient known as the democratic experiment has died in the US, since it is currently only on life support. -Mike S.

    From where I’m sitting, Mike S., the patient is dead. I hope that I’m wrong, but we nurses usually know “dead” when we see it. 😉

    The Globalization of Hollow Politics
    Apr 23, 2012

    by Chris Hedges

    http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_globalization_of_hollow_politics_20120423/

    Excerpts:

    Every election cycle, our self-identified left dutifully lines up like sheep to vote for the corporate wolves who control the Democratic Party. It bleats the tired, false mantra about Ralph Nader being responsible for the 2000 election of George W. Bush and warns us that the corporate technocrat Mitt Romney is, in fact, an extremist.

    The extremists, of course, are already in power. They have been in power for several years. They write our legislation. They pick the candidates and fund their campaigns. They dominate the courts. They effectively gut regulations and environmental controls. They suck down billions in government subsidies. They pay no taxes. They determine our energy policy. They loot the U.S. treasury. They rigidly control public debate and information. They wage useless and costly imperial wars for profit. They are behind the stripping away of our most cherished civil liberties. They are implementing government programs to gouge out any money left in the carcass of America. And they know that Romney or Barack Obama, along with the Democratic and the Republican parties, will not stop them.
    …..

    The political theater staged by the Democrats and Republicans, bloated with corporate money, will not work much longer. The game will soon be up. There are four countries in Europe with socialist governments—Belgium, Austria, Denmark and Slovenia. All have had to implement austerity programs. None have effectively defied the power of the banks. This paralysis is a ticking bomb both in the U.S. and abroad. And when it explodes it will be far more deadly than anything cooked up by a group of radical jihadists.

    A breakdown of liberal democracy, which seems to be where we are headed, may not bring with it a salutary change. The most retrograde forces within the corporate state, such as the Koch brothers, will lavish racists, homophobes, demagogues, birthers, creationists and gun-carrying, flag-waving idiots with money once the political center crumbles. The left in Europe, and most certainly in the United States, could prove to be too weak to battle against figures like Le Pen or those in the U.S. who rally around the perverted ideologies of the Christian right and the tea party and who receive tens of millions of dollars in corporate backing. The left, in short, may find that it has done too little too late to be an effective counterweight. And widespread discontent could very easily be manipulated by the corporate elites to ensure our enslavement. I watched this happen in the former Yugoslavia. This is the real battle before us. And it has nothing to do with the election charade between Obama and Romney and, I expect, Hollande and Sarkozy. (end of excerpts)

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