Day: February 2, 2013

White House releases photo of POTUS shooting skeet, media eats crow

The naysayers will never believe it…as usual.

America Blog

I reported yesterday on the media, including the Washington Post fact-checker, who was particularly enthralled with this issue, up in arms over President Obama’s contention that there is skeet shooting “all the time” up at Camp David.

The media demanded a photo – let’s call it, “long form” evidence – lest the most important man in the world be lying about shooting small clay disks.

So the White House released one, see below.  And what do you know?  The President is shooting skeet.

As an aside, the Washington Post’s fact-checker was particularly nasty, going so far as to publish photos of the President and Vice President holding squirt guns, in a clear effort to mock and embarrass them.  Hardly an appropriate move for an independent fact-checker.

So first, here’s the White House photo from this past August:

obama shooting skeet

Now let’s revisit some of the Trump-esque media hyperventilation on this topic over the past few days.

First, there are now Skeet-Truthers:

2/2/13: john r stanton @dcbigjohn: Something Fishy About #Skeetgate Photo. The Angle Of The Barrel Is All Wrong For Skeet Flying Through The Air. pic.twitter.com/gqLMZPtC

2/2/13: Emily Miller @EmilyMiller: This Obama Skeet Shooting Photo Looks Odd To Me Because The Clays Come High Or Low, Not Straight. http://m.flickr.com/#/photos/whitehouse/8436110735/sizes/m/

More from the traditional media:

1/27/13: Glenn Thrush @GlennThrush: Obama Says He Shots Skeet All The Time At Camp David. A) How Many Times Has He Gone To CD? B) Ever Been Mention Of Skeet In Pool Report?

1/28/13: Jessica Yellin, CNN: On a different topic, how often does the President go skeet shooting? (Laughter.) And are there photographs of him doing so?
MR. CARNEY: I would refer you simply to his comments. I don’t know how often. He does go to Camp David with some regularity, but I’m not sure how often he’s done that.
Q Is there a photograph of him doing it?
MR. CARNEY: There may be, but I haven’t seen it.
Q Why haven’t we heard about it before?
MR. CARNEY: Because when he goes to Camp David, he goes to spend time with his family and friends and relax, not to produce photographs.” [White House – Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, 1/28/2013]

1/28/13: Erin Burnett, CNN:…Now our fifth story OUTFRONT: Obama the skeet shooter. Yes, I’m not making this up. If someone is, it isn’t me. In an interview with ‘The New Republic’, the president revealed he can relate to people who enjoy firing guns. When asked if he has ever fired one, he replied, quote, ‘Yes, in fact, up at camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time.’ The reporter followed up, ‘The whole family?’ To which the president replied, ‘Not the girls, but oftentimes guest of mine go up there, and I have a profound respect for the traditions of hunting that trace back in this country for generations. I think those who dismiss that out of hand make a big mistake.’…He says — he tell us he’s heard of bowling, golfing, hiking, archery, swimming but not skeet shooting. So, you’re going to say you do it all the time, don’t you kind of have to prove it?” [CNN, 1/28/13]

Drudge got a real hoot out of Burnett’s conspiratorial take on the issue:

Screen Shot 2013-02-02 at 1.56.04 PM

Oh, and apparently there are NO photos to prove it:

1/28/13: Kate Bolduan, CNN: “Still ahead, there aren’t any photos to prove it, but President Obama says he likes to go skeet shooting. Who knew? We’ll talk to the man who got that surprising bit of information out of the president….President Obama’s revelation that he liked to go skeet shooting at Camp David has raised questions and definitely raised some eyebrows.” [CNN, 1/28/13]

1/28/13: Donavan Slack, Politico: “President Barack Obama said recently that he goes skeet shooting ‘all the time’ at Camp David, but don’t expect any photos. ‘When he goes to Camp David, he goes to spend time with his family and friends to relax, not to produce photographs,’ White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters Monday. He said he had never seen any pictures of Obama skeet shooting. The president, asked by The New Republic if he had ever fired a gun, replied: ‘In fact, up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time.’

Carney said he didn’t know exactly how often that was. ‘He does go to Camp David with some regularity, but I’m not sure how often he’s done that.’ According to CBS News’ Mark Knoller, who keeps statistics on the president’s movements, Obama has visited Camp David 29 times, spending a total of 72 days there since taking office.” [POLITICO – 44, 1/28/13]

Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post has concluded that the President has “never” gone skeet shooting:

1/31/13: Glenn Kessler, Washington Post: “A number of readers have raised questions about the president’s statement that he goes skeet shooting ‘all the time’ while at Camp David. In these suspicious times, they would like to see some evidence. But the White House has been oddly silent about the matter….The evidence suggests that until Obama had access to a shooting range as president, he never went skeet shooting. He certainly did not speak like a politician who had once used a firearm. But it is also curious that the White House refuses to provide any documentary evidence that he actually used the shooting range at Camp David, since he claims he uses it ‘all the time,’ or that a presidential friend has not come forward to confirm the president’s comments. We live in suspicious times and the president lives in a media fishbowl. That’s the way it is. In the meantime, we do not have enough information to make a ruling one way or the other. We are eager to see a photograph, or hear from someone who saw him at the skeet range, to put this matter to rest.” [The Washington Post, 1/31/13]

Per Kessler’s claim that it’s “curious” the White House was reticent to release photos, Jon Stewart said the other day, and I paraphrase, yes, it’s curious that when half the country has the racially-tinged belief that President Obama is a radical Marxist out to violently overthrow our democracy, that they wouldn’t release a photo of the black man holding a weapon.

New York Magazine even found a semantic reason to prove that the President has never shot skeet – you see, Obama used the wrong “verb”:

1/28/13: Dan Amira, New York Magazine: “In an interview with the New Republic over the weekend, President Obama made a surprising admission. When asked if he’s ever fired a gun before, Obama told the magazine, ‘Yes, in fact, up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time.’ Asked if his family takes part, Obama responded, ‘Not the girls, but oftentimes guests of mine go up there.’ It was an unexpected revelation from a man not exactly known for being an outdoorsy, gun-toting type. So unexpected, in fact, that many people aren’t buying it. And we’re one of them. Call us the Skeeters. There are four main reasons we don’t believe that Obama shoots skeet ‘all the time’ at Camp David. For one thing, he referred to it as ‘do skeet shooting,’ which is how people usually talk about things with which they are not very familiar. Your grandma asks you if you ‘do Twitter.’ Second, and more significant, there has been zero prior documentation of Obama shooting skeet.” [New York Magazine, 1/28/13]

I’ve shot skeet.  I have no idea what the correct long-form verb is. I’m sure that will be New York Magazine’s next cover story.

Oh, and Fox is skeptical too – now there’s a surprise.

1/30/13: Wendell Goler, Fox News: Marsha Blackburn has challenged the President’s comments about skeet shooting at Camp David. She’s skeptical of them and she says she’s a better skeet shooter than he is and wants to be invited to Camp David for a contest. Your reaction?

MR. CARNEY: I have none. (Laughter.)” [White House – Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, 1/30/13]

1/30/13: Sean Hannity, Fox News: You wouldn’t know it by looking at President Obama’s radical anti-gun record, but it turns out our commander in chief is claiming to be the sport man. Now in a recent interview with the ‘New Republic’ magazine, he was asked whether or not he has ever fired a gun. His response, quote, ‘Yes, in fact, at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time.’ Really all the time? That’s funny because while we’ve seen countless images of the president and his buddies and his friends playing gold, shooting hoops, well, we’ve never seen him shooting a firearm. Now, I’m not the only one that finds that unusual. Tennessee Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn is also expressing skepticism about the anointed one’s new founded enthusiasm when it comes to skeet shooting. In fact, she has issued a challenge that has earlier today captured the attention of the White House. First here is congresswoman.” [Fox News Network, 1/30/13]

1/31/13: Bret Baier, Fox News: “BAIER:…Few people are buying President Obama’s claim that he is a big fan of skeet shooting. The president was asked by ‘the New Republic,’ quote, ‘Have you ever fired a gun?’ President Obama answered, quote, ‘Yes. In fact, up at camp David we do skeet shooting all the time.’ ‘New York’ magazine called out the president’s phrasing, saying, quote, ‘that quote is how people usually talk about things with which they are not very familiar. Your grandma asks if you do Twitter.’ The ‘Washington Post’ looked at the president’s past statements and down no mention of skeet shooting. It labels ‘curious’ that the White House is refusing to provide evidence that the president has ever used the shooting range.” [Fox News Network, 1/31/13]

Mini-Fox, the Wall Street Journal, weighs in too.

1/30/13: Kimberly Strassel, Wall Street Journal: “The president’s comments set off a flurry of reporting and commentary, all questioning the truth of the president’s supposed love affair with skeet shooting. In all his time as president, Mr. Obama had never professed any interest in skeet shooting, and in fact was once caught on tape moaning that too many Americans ‘cling’ to their ‘guns and religion.’ As it happens, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney almost instantly had to dial back the president’s comments. ‘He does go to Camp David with some regularity, but I’m not sure how often he’s done that,’ admitted Mr. Carney. He further admitted that he’d never seen any photos of Mr. Obama shooting, and suggested none would be forthcoming: ‘When he goes to Camp David, he goes to spend time with his family and friends to relax, not to produce photographs.’ Conservative Web sites have had a field day, with Breitbart posting a photo of Mr. Obama standing outside a pool with a water gun…. Whatever the truth of Mr. Obama’s skeet shooting interest, don’t expect the audience his comments were actually aimed at—gun owners—to be remotely reassured.” [The Wall Street Journal, 1/30/13]

And now that the photos have been released, it’s of course not enough.  Here’s a classic from the Politico, proving why inside-the-beltway it’s actually called the Republico. You see, it doesn’t matter that the White House has released the long-demanded photo.  Now Politico wants even more photos:

§ 2/2/13: Donavan Slack, Politico: “The White House, succumbing to skeptics, releases a photo Saturday of President Barack Obama skeet shooting. The president told The New Republic in a recent interview that he goes skeet shooting ‘all the time.’ Doubters of the claim quickly asked for photos, a request the White House denied earlier this week. The image released Saturday proves he did in fact shoot skeet. Official photographer Pete Souza snapped this shot at Camp David on Aug. 4, 2012. But it may do little to squelch the questions about exactly how often.” [POLITICO – 44, 2/2/13]

And not wanting to be left out of the conspiracy brigade, the normally-rational NYT joins the fray:

2/2/13: Peter Baker, New York Times: “When President Obama mentioned last week that he had picked up a new hobby — skeet shooting at Camp David — it was a surprising disclosure by a president whose main identification with guns these days is his effort to ban assault rifles and high-capacity magazines. To some, Mr. Obama’s newfound enthusiasm for shooting clay pigeons — he said in an interview that he did it ‘all the time’ at his retreat in the Maryland mountains — also seemed a bit suspicious. So on Saturday, the White House tried to silence the skeptics by releasing a photo of Mr. Obama shooting on the range at Camp David in August. In the photo, the president, wearing goggles and ear-muffs, is squinting down the barrel of a rifle, moments after pulling the trigger. Gun smoke shoots out of the front of the rifle. The White House said the photo was taken on Aug. 4, which was Mr. Obama’s 51st birthday. But it offered no further details on whether his target practice was a regular hobby or a one-time event. The notion of the president taking aim at targets flung into the air captivated some in the political and social media worlds at a time when he is pushing Congress to enact sweeping restrictions on high-capacity rifles and magazines.” [The New York Times, 2/2/13]

And why stop there?  Now that there’s a photo, let’s demand NUMEROUS photos.  After all, the President did suggest that they shoot skeet more than once at Camp David (though in all fairness, the “we” sounded to me like he meant he shoots skeet, and so do lots of other people, many of the guests in fact, even if he’s not always there, but why strive for nuance when a good conspiracy is aloft).

And even if the President is shooting skeet, how do we know the photo wasn’t faked – making this the Capricorn One of skeet?  Maybe the President simply stripped off his winter clothes and shot this yesterday in DC’s below-freezing weather.

UPDATE: Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler examined this super-sized version of the supposed skeet-shooting photo the White House just released, and Kessler has determined  that it is a fake, it was in fact only shot yesterday.

From the Washington Post’s Fact Checker:

potus-nipple skeetWith the help of National Security Agency satellite imaging experts, we examined the photo released by the White House allegedly showing the President shooting skeet last August. We have determined that it is in fact a forgery, likely shot only yesterday in Washington, DC’s sub-freezing temperatures.  Not only is steam seen curiously being emitted from the rifle barrel, something more typical of weapons fire on a brisk winter’s day than August 4th’s balmy 96 degrees, but on closer microscopic examination we found unusual folds in the chest-fabric of the shirt suggesting that the presidential nips were particularly perky that day.

(In case folks didn’t get it, this last park is poking fun at the media’s obsession with absurdly irrelevant details. The Washington Post did not in fact comment on the President’s perky nipples.)

10 things you need to know today: February 2, 2013

Scott Brown doesn't want John Kerry's old job.

The Week

Scott Brown opts out, Iran’s space-monkey stunt may be a hoax, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion

1. ECONOMY ADDS 157,000 JOBS
U.S. employers added 157,000 jobs in January, the Labor Department reported on Friday. The gains, a hair shy of what economists expected, was enough to signal continued slow improvement of the employment picture but not enough to keep the unemployment rate from inching higher, to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent the month before, as more unemployed Americas went back out to hunt for work. Encouragingly, government data also showed that the economy added 150,000 more jobs than first estimated in the final quarter of 2012 — and 335,000 more over the whole year. That brought 2012’s job growth to 2.2 million. [The New York Times]
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2. SCOTT BROWN WON’T RUN FOR KERRY’S SENATE SEAT
Former Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) announced Friday that he will not to run in the special election to fill John Kerry’s Massachusetts Senate seat. “I was not at all certain that a third Senate campaign in less than four years, and the prospect of returning to a Congress even more partisan than the one I left, was really the best way for me to continue in public service at this time,” Brown said in a statement. “And I know it’s not the only way for me to advance the ideals and causes that matter most to me.” The GOP had put its faith in Brown as the candidate who would have the best chance of snagging the usually-Democratic seat. [Washington Post]
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3. HILLARY CLINTON LEAVES STATE DEPT., BLASTS BENGHAZI CRITICS
After more than three decades of public service, Hillary Clinton stepped down from her post as secretary of state on Friday. But before ceding her job to John Kerry, Clinton took a parting shot at critics of the Obama administration’s response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans. “I was so unhappy with the way that some people refused to accept the facts, refused to accept the findings of an independent Accountability Review Board, politicized everything about this terrible attack,” she told The Associated Press. “There are some people in politics and in the press who can’t be confused by the facts. They just will not live in an evidence-based world. And that’s regrettable.” [The Week]
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4. SUICIDE BOMBER ATTACKS U.S. EMBASSY IN TURKEY
On Friday, a suicide bomber struck the U.S. embassy in Ankara, Turkey, killing himself and a Turkish guard. The bomber reportedly detonated his charge as he entered the embassy’s security checkpoint, limiting the blast to the facility’s outer ring. The Turkish government initially blamed the attack on a Marxist terrorism group, and later identified the perpetrator as a man once incarcerated for domestic terrorism. The United States plans to make its own investigation into the attack. [The New York Times]
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5. OBAMA ADMINISTRATION PROPOSES CONTRACEPTION COMPROMISE
Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, said Friday that the Obama administration is proposing a compromise for religious organizations that object to the government’s policy requiring health insurance plans to cover contraceptives for women at no charge. Under the proposal “eligible organizations would not have to contract, arrange, pay, or refer for any contraceptive coverage to which they object on religious grounds.” Female employees of such organizations would receive contraceptive coverage through separateindividual health insurance policies, without having to pay premiums or co-payments. It remains unclear who exactly would pay such costs. The ObamaCare requirement caused an uproar last year within faith-based organizations that see it as an infringement of their religious liberty. [New York Times]
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6. MEDIA: IRAN’S SPACE MONKEY IS A FAKE
When reports initially surfaced Monday from Iran declaring that the country had successfully launched a monkey into space, the world was surprised, and perhaps a bit shaken. But after images from a press conference surfaced on Friday, Britain’s Telegraph led the charge in declaring the cosmic stunt a hoax. As the paper notes, “the monkey triumphantly presented to the nation’s media in his own silk tuxedo appeared markedly different to the creature that was pictured strapped into a rocket prior to its launch into space.” Upon further investigation, it’s clear that the distinctive red mole over the monkey’s right eye is not present on the monkey that attended the conference, leading many to believe that the entire stunt was a fake, or that the original monkey died during the mission. [Slate]
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7. STRUGGLING EUROZONE CHEERED BY GOOD DATA
Europe’s battered economy got a triple dose of encouraging news on Friday. Unemployment proved lower than feared in December across the 17 countries that use the euro (although it’s still high, at 11.7 percent). Also, manufacturing showed signs of growth, and inflation fell. But despite the good news, the eurozone remains stuck in a recession. “It’s not as bad as it was and that’s probably the best one can say…” says market strategist Marc Ostwald of Monument Securities. “It doesn’t mean happy days are near.” [Associated Press]
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8. SOURCES: SOUTH FLORIDA DOPING RINGLEADER INJECTED A-ROD
Anthony Bosch, the man Major League Baseball believes is at the center of a widespread doping operation involving numerous professional baseball players, reportedly injected New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez with performance-enhancing drugs, according to ESPN sources. While other athletes relied on Bosch’s intermediaries to transport drug regimens, the sources say, Rodriguez dealt only with Bosch. Bosch’s visits to the third baseman’s mansion in Florida’s Biscayne Bay reportedly took place every few weeks, and Bosch, the sources report, spoke openly about his relationship with the Yankees All-Star. Two sources said that documents they reviewed even detailed the drug regimens and schedules Rodriguez received. Rodriguez’ spokesperson said Friday that the allegations are not true. [ESPN]
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9. DETROIT STARTS 2013 WITH STRONG SALES
Ford, GM, and Chrysler all started the year with solid January sales increases, the Detroit automakers reported Friday. Ford sold 166,501 vehicles, a 22 percent monthly jump. GM sold 194,699, an increase of 16 percent. And Chrysler posted its 34th consecutive monthly sales gain with a 16 percent increase. Analysts attributed the improvement to the release of pent-up demand, as Americans who had been putting off purchases were encouraged by the gradual economic recovery to finally visit dealer showrooms. [Detroit Free Press]
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10. SURVEY: MANY MALE MARINES WOULD LEAVE IF WOMEN JOINED COMBAT
According to a survey conducted last year of 53,000 members of the Marine Corps, 17 percent of male Marines said they would leave the service if women moved into combat. That number increased to 22 percent when participants were asked how they’d react if women were involuntarily assigned to combat roles, according to the survey results released on Friday. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had earlier reviewed the survey results before opening thousands of combat jobs to women last week. Male Marines said their major concerns with women in combat would be being falsely accused of sexual misconduct, some Marines getting preferential treatment, or women being limited because of pregnancy or personal issues. [Associated Press]

11 Things Wrong With Congress

U.S. News & World Report

Capitol Hole

America needs to rally. Jobs are scarce, incomes are falling, and prosperity seems to be slipping away. Congress could help, but instead of bold new bipartisan ideas, the nation’s legislators have done little lately except argue. Here’s why Congress is so out-of-touch.

Too Many Rich People

About one percent of all Americans are millionaires, but roughly 46 percent of those serving in Congress are. There’s nothing wrong with being rich. But there is a problem when the people creating tax and economic policy fail to understand the financial stress a typical family faces.

Automatic Pay Raises

Every year, members of Congress get an automatic cost-of-living increase in their pay, which is now $174,000 per year—about 3.4 times as much as the average worker earns. For the last two years, Congress has voted to forego its annual raise. But even flat pay would be a luxury to millions who have endured pay cuts, been relegated to part-time status or lost their jobs.

Gold-Plated Benefits

Members of Congress are eligible for two types of retirement plans and a retirement healthcare plan that in nearly every way are more generous than benefits typically offered to private-sector workers. One research group estimates that fringe benefits alone are worth about $82,000 per year to a federal legislator.

Free Parking

In addition to generous pay and gilded benefits, members of Congress enjoy a long list of conveniences and other perks, including free parking at their workplace on Capitol Hill, and at priority lots at Washington, D.C.’s two airports. They’re special, you see.

Earmarks

Congress has temporarily banned these pet spending projects, which evade ordinary budgeting procedures and often amount to home-district favors for donors or supporters. But some lawmakers want them back. The test will come in 2013, when the next Congress will either extend the ban or revoke it and start delivering overdue favors.

Speeches to Nobody

Some of those Congressional speeches broadcast on cable are given before an empty chamber in the Capitol, simply because politicians know they might get on TV. Expanded TV coverage of Congress has been a welcome bit of sunshine, but it also encourages posturing and sensationalism.

A Lack of Competition

In the private sector, competition punishes the obsolete and rewards those who deliver. Congress, however, holds a monopoly on legislating, so it still operates by ancient procedures and dallies indefinitely on urgent matters. There’s no measure of effectiveness for the body as a whole, and some members insist that gridlock—a euphemism for accomplishing nothing—is in the nation’s interest.

No Penalty for Ignorance

Members of Congress sometimes reveal a dangerous degree of ignorance on vitally important issues they have considerable power to regulate. This year, for instance, the science journal Nature said a House committee had “entered the intellectual wilderness” on climate science, and The Economist called Republican debt-ceiling negotiators “economically illiterate.”

Lobbyists

For every member of Congress, there are about 22 registered lobbyists who donate money, throw fundraisers and manipulate legislation to the benefit of corporations and interest groups. Some of the most powerful lobbyists are former members of Congress, who form a “shadow Congress” more influential than pressure from voters.

The Media

Journalists, bloggers, and pundits jump on every argumentative word in Washington, while underreporting key issues likeunemployment and poverty that matter more to real people. This makes politicians even more narcissistic and combative, since they know they’ll generate coverage if they say something controversial.

GOP Lawmaker Behind Abortion Ban: ‘We’re Not Going To Allow Minorities To Run Roughshod’

So, they wonder why they’re losing the “minority” vote by double digits, yet still insist on denigrating minorities unabashedly.  Shame on the GOP leadership for continuing to allow their members to constantly put down “minorities” in this way.

Perhaps GOP “wordsmith and strategist Frank Luntz should contact this out of control politician ASAP.

Think Progress

On Wednesday, the Arkansas Senate approved anunconstitutional bill to ban abortion as early as six weeksinto a pregnancy. As The Nation’s Lee Fang noted Friday, this is part of a larger strategy by chief sponsor Sen. Jason Rapert (R) to remake America as a arch-conservative country.

Rapert explained his long-term goals in a racist 2011 rant at a Tea Party rally, as he bashed President Obama for hosting a Ramadan celebration:

RAPERT: I hear you loud and clear, Barack Obama. You don’t represent the country that I grew up with. And your values is [sic] not going to save us. We’re going to take this country back for the Lord. We’re going to try to take this country back for conservatism. And we’re not going to allow minorities to run roughshod over what you people believe in!

Watch the video:

Rapert’s other proposals include amending the U.S. Constitution to give state legislatures control of the federal debt limit and for the absolute elimination of all parole for state prisoners.