President Barack Obama

Obama joins Twitter. Racism quickly follows.

An illustration shows President Obama’s Twitter page on a laptop in Washington on Monday. (Mandel Ngan/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)


There are moments when I come thisclose to quitting Twitter. The amount of hatred squeezed into 140 characters or less by lunatics usually cloaked in anonymity is enough to make you question your support for the First Amendment and your faith in the decency of other people. To the uninitiated, the torrent of bigotry can leave you feeling violated. Even the most seasoned, battle-scarred, seen-it-all, can’t-nuthin’-shock-me individual will be left O-o by the filth in his or her Twitter feed.

A story I just read by David Badash at about the welcome President Obama got upon joining Twitter left me slack-jawed.

Badash gives a hat-tip to for its original story. But he notes that it took just 10 minutes to start baptizing the leader of the free world in Twitter’s racist sewer. Obama’s tweet at 11:38 a.m. on Monday was simple.

Hello, Twitter! It’s Barack. Really! Six years in, they’re finally giving me my own account.

The first racist tweet appears to have come in at 11:48 a.m. from a particularly nasty fellow who addresses the president as the N-word and advises him to “get cancer.” The racist affront is the equivalent of being called the N-word by a coward in a passing car as you’re walking down the street.

If you follow me on the beast that is Twitter, you have seen me do battle with racists, homophobes and the willfully uninformed and ignorant. I strongly believe those folks need to be exposed for sunlight is the best disinfectant, as the saying goes. And I strongly believe those folks need to endure the public censure and ridicule that comes with being revealed as a hate-filled bigot. It is then that whatever sliver of hope I have in humanity is restored.

No doubt, Obama was neither shocked nor surprised by the racist reception he received. After all, this is a man who has endured six years of gasp-worthy sleights. But I wonder whether deep down on some level the president wasn’t disappointed. It wouldn’t make him naive. It would make him human.

~Jonathan Capehart

Obama Finds a Bolder Voice on Race Issues

President Obama announced a new nonprofit group that is being spun off his My Brother’s Keeper initiative. Credit Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

It’s truly a delicate balance when one is the scrutinized at every turn by right-wing lawmakers and similar adversaries…


As he reflected on the festering wounds deepened by race and grievance that have been on painful display in America’s cities lately, President Obama on Monday found himself thinking about a young man he had just met named Malachi.

A few minutes before, in a closed-door round-table discussion at Lehman College in the Bronx, Mr. Obama had asked a group of black and Hispanic students from disadvantaged backgrounds what could be done to help them reach their goals. Several talked about counseling and guidance programs.

“Malachi, he just talked about — we should talk about love,” Mr. Obama told a crowd afterward, drifting away from his prepared remarks. “Because Malachi and I shared the fact that our dad wasn’t around and that sometimes we wondered why he wasn’t around and what had happened. But really, that’s what this comes down to is: Do we love these kids?”

Many presidents have governed during times of racial tension, but Mr. Obama is the first to see in the mirror a face that looks like those on the other side of history’s ledger. While his first term was consumed with the economy, war and health care, his second keeps coming back to the societal divide that was not bridged by his election. A president who eschewed focusing on race now seems to have found his voice again as he thinks about how to use his remaining time in office and beyond.

In the aftermath of racially charged unrest in places like Baltimore, Ferguson, Mo., and New York, Mr. Obama came to the Bronx on Monday for the announcement of a new nonprofit organization that is being spun off from his White House initiative called My Brother’s Keeper. Staked by more than $80 million in commitments from corporations and other donors, the new group, My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, will in effect provide the nucleus for Mr. Obama’s post-presidency, which will begin in January 2017.

“This will remain a mission for me and for Michelle not just for the rest of my presidency but for the rest of my life,” Mr. Obama said. “And the reason is simple,” he added. Referring to some of the youths he had just met, he said: “We see ourselves in these young men. I grew up without a dad. I grew up lost sometimes and adrift, not having a sense of a clear path. The only difference between me and a lot of other young men in this neighborhood and all across the country is that I grew up in an environment that was a little more forgiving.”


The line Mr. Obama has tried to straddle has been a serrated one. He condemns police brutality as he defends most officers as honorable. He condemns “criminals and thugs” who looted in Baltimore while expressing empathy with those trapped in a cycle of poverty and hopelessness.

In the Bronx on Monday, Mr. Obama bemoaned the death of Brian Moore, a plainclothes New York police officer who had died earlier in the day after being shot in the head Saturday on a Queens street. Most police officers are “good and honest and fair and care deeply about their communities,” even as they put their lives on the line, Mr. Obama said.

“Which is why in addressing the issues in Baltimore or Ferguson or New York, the point I made was that if we’re just looking at policing, we’re looking at it too narrowly,” he added. “If we ask the police to simply contain and control problems that we ourselves have been unwilling to invest and solve, that’s not fair to the communities, it’s not fair to the police.”

Moreover, if society writes off some people, he said, “that’s not the kind of country I want to live in; that’s not what America is about.”

His message to young men like Malachi Hernandez, who attends Boston Latin Academy in Massachusetts, is not to give up.

“I want you to know you matter,” he said. “You matter to us.”


Does Obama’s New York trip offer a glimpse into his post-White House life?

President Obama will be headed to Lehman College in New York to launch the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, a new nonprofit that could keep him busy when he leaves the White House. (Susan Walsh/Associated Press)


He still has almost two years left in office, but the outlines of President Obama’s post-White House life might be starting to take shape.

On Monday, the president will speak at the New York City launch of the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, a nonprofit that is spinning off a White House initiative that his administration began in 2014. The trip to Lehman College in the Bronx is the latest in a series of hints from the White House about the president’s future plans. Last week, word leaked that Obama’s  presidential library is headed for the South Side of Chicago. In recent months there have been signs that his elder daughter, Malia, is looking at colleges in New York City.

The president and first lady still have a while to figure out where they will settle post-presidency; although in the past, they’ve suggested that they may stay in Washington long enough to let their daughter Sasha graduate from Sidwell Friends School.

Regardless of where they land, the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance seems certain to play a large part in Obama’s post-White House life. The program began as a public-private partnership designed to help men of color who are struggling to finish high school or develop the skills to find jobs. The effort sprang, in part, from the frustration that followed the 2012  shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Since then, lethal interactions between police and black men and boys in Ferguson, Mo., New York, Cleveland and North Charleston have sparked demonstrations, outrage and riots.

The latest riots in Baltimore, following the death of Freddie Gray at the hands of police, prompted the president to call last week for some collective“soul searching” on the part of the country.

“If we really want to solve the problem, if our society really wanted to solve the problem, we could,” Obama said. “It’s just it would require everybody saying, ‘This is important, this is significant,’ and that we don’t just pay attention to these communities when a CVS burns and we don’t just pay attention when a young man gets shot or has his spine snapped.”

The My Brother’s Keeper Alliance is one element of the president’s long-term solution to the problem’s faced by minority youth and urban communities struggling with poverty and a lack of jobs. The program has attracted $300 million in funding for an effort that the president has said will continue long after he has left the White House. The alliance is similar in its broad outlines to the Clinton Global Initiative, started by former president Bill Clinton in 2005, in that it serve as a magnet for corporate and individual donations.

The alliance will focus on everything from preparations for preschool to job-training and employment programs. “Persistent gaps in employment, educational outcomes and career skills remain, barring too many youth from realizing their full potential and creating harmful social and economic costs to our nation,” wrote Broderick Johnson, the chairman of the White House’s My Brother’s Keeper Task Force.

According the White House, closing the gap between young men of color and their peers could boost the U.S.  gross domestic product by as much as $2.1 trillion.

Greg Jaffe

What It Means When Obama Says ‘Thug’ On National Television ~ Editorial


AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin


I started thinking about all the other forms of violence which are approved and non-thuggish, and I realized that Obama is too smart for such a lazy read. In light of all the civil protest, thug is a sloppy and offensive term. By tossing the phrase around we are only showing what society considers appropriate violence versus inappropriate violence and highlighting the hypocrisy buried in the word’s use.

To understand “thug,” it’s important to know the word’s meaning in the current context as well as what forms of violence aren’t considered to be that of thugs.

Thugs are masked men. Thugs are in the street. Thugs are black.

As has often been reported, when white teenagers riot over a sports game or a bad concert, these people are not thugs. Even though they may be masked, in the streets, destroying property, injuring and killing, these people aren’t thugs because they aren’t black. This form of violence receives to the terror code status of ‘rabblerousers.’ They are dismissed as drunken mobs, fools, idiots, or the more European and jovial-sounding hooligans. In the morning after a riot, hooligans get to put back on their suits and ties. They get to chalk up violence to alcohol or a stupid referee call, or even a surprising victory.

In comparison, “thug” is used to delegitimize one form of violence over another by judgment. It is a condemnation of one’s permanent character. It removes all the social context that led up to a particular incident and focuses on the solely on the individual. And what Baltimore and Ferguson has shown us is that no sudden violent eruption of rage exists in a vacuum of personal responsibility.

The finger jab of “personal responsibility” is never done by a sitting public official toward a police officer. No one would dare call any police force “thugs.” Despite the unprecedented daily evidence of police brutality and judicial collusion with cop violence, none of this is considered “thuggish” behavior. These actions escape that label because it’s perpetuated by people with badges, timesheets and unions. These actions are merely unfortunate and the cops don’t receive any personal label that judges their character. When Henry Louis Gates was arrested in his own house by an overzealous cop who was standing in the professor’s living room, Obama made the mistake of saying that the officer acted “stupidly.” He quickly backtracked when the Fox News suggested that he didn’t respect the law, because “stupid” (even though it was in reference to the action and not the person) was seen as a judgment word.

When cops are caught on camera committing murder they are often deemed as corrupt aberrations, not thugs. To say these occurrences are corrupt implies that police brutality is against the normal protocol. I would beg to differ. Police murders have been going on for generations. State-sponsored violence isn’t the exception to the rule for black communities. It is the rule.

The rules promote cop-initiated robbery, lying, false testifying, planting evidence, unconstitutional jailing, illegal search and seizure, conspiratorial cooperation between judges and police, and homicide. I would argue that these rules—much more than teenagers tossing rocks—are heinous, thuggish, and dangerous to the public welfare.

For future reference, here are some other non-thuggish forms of violence: the FBI forging evidence for generations that resulted in executions of countless innocent people, the penal system’s allowance (and even running joke) of prison rape that leads to rising rates of HIV contraction, clubbing Occupy Wall Street protesters for exercising constitutional rights, sexually assaulting people while they’re in custody. In short, anything that involves technology or bureaucracy escapes the dreaded label. Killing thousands of foreign people with drone attacks isn’t thuggish behavior. This is technological advancement. This is approved. Americans like this kind of violence. It shows our technological superiority, which we often mistake for moral superiority. Police reports and judges’ rulings aren’t the kind of things that comes from thugs. These actions are efficient and documented.

At first I simply saw Obama’s use of the word as a pre-emptive strike against the radical right’s inevitable accusations that his mere existence in the Oval Office gives sociological permission to riots. But given the way that word has been thrown around to smear Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, the entire city of Ferguson, and now Baltimore, “thug” has a much more racial meaning in context of civil protests. And the Obama administration knows better.

Aurin Squire is a freelance journalist who lives in New York City. In addition to being a playwriting fellow at The Juilliard School, he has writing commissions and residencies at the Dramatists Guild of America, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, and National Black Theatre.

Obama’s Financial Reform Just Made The World A Little Bit Safer For The Other 99%

Addicting Info

This is one of those stories that no one is paying attention to because it’s kind of wonky and complicated. But here’s the For Dummies version for people like you and me.

One of the weird things that happened after the deregulation of the financial industry in the 90s is that corporations that had nothing to do with banking saw a way to get filthy rich by pretending to be a bank but not have to follow any of the same laws that banks do. The result? They played a significant role in the Crash of 2008 and needed to be bailed out.

Via Paul Krugman:

GE Capital was a quintessential example of the rise of shadow banking. In most important respects it acted like a bank; it created systemic risks very much like a bank; but it was effectively unregulated, and had to be bailed out through ad hoc arrangements that understandably had many people furious about putting taxpayers on the hook for private irresponsibility.

One of the things Dodd-Frank did was force companies like GE to play by the same rules as banks and SURPRISE! GE wants no part of it. It’s no fun to play if you have to play fair. So now GE is dropping its “shadow banking” division and the financial industry just got a bit safer.

Exactly what Obama’s financial reform promised to do. But SHHHHHH! Don’t tell anyone!

The funny part about this is that Republicans swore on a stack on Bibles that Dodd-Frank would make banks and faux-financial institutions like GE act even MORE recklessly since they were legally designated as SIFI or “systematically important financial institutions” (translation: Too Big To Fail). Republicans “reasoned” that these companies would rely on the government to bail them out again.

Of course, Republicans were full of it because they knew that Dodd-Frank would impose severe restrictions on “Too Big To Fail” banks and companies. These restrictions would force them to keep enough money on hand to make bailouts unnecessary. Essentially, Dodd-Frank told the SIFIs that they could gamble all they want but they had to be able to pay their gambling debts in full if they crapped out. If there is one thing the rich hate more than poor people, it’s gambling with their own money. Republicans get really sad when the 1% can’t have their cake and eat it, too. And your cake. And his. And hers. And that guy over there’s cake, as well.

Dodd-Frank may not be perfect, but it’s making the world just a little bit safer from the greed and depredations of the rich. And any day that the rich lose a bit of their ability to destroy lives is a good day in my book.

By Left Wing Nation

Obama Is About To Sign The Biggest Health Care Bill Since Obamacare


AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster


And in the strangest of twists, the legislation passed with overwhelmingly bipartisan support, an exceedingly rare achievement for a Congress that has all but ceased to address big, long-term problems.

The legislation passed the Senate on Tuesday night by a vote of 92-8. It was approved 392-37 by the House last month before Easter recess. Obama had endorsed the proposal as Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) were closing in on a deal.

“It’s another reminder of a new Republican Congress that’s back to work,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

On the urging of Boehner and McConnell, the Senate rejected six amendments to the legislation offered by both parties and approved it as written. Boehner is expected to send Obama the legislation after a House signing ceremony on Thursday.

“Through this bold, necessary legislation, we have secured critical support for low-income seniors, for poor children, and for underserved communities across the country,” said Pelosi.

The legislation has three broad components.

First, it fixes a gaping hole in the Medicare program by replacing the formula to pay physicians — known as the Sustainable Growth Rate — which imposes steep annual cuts that Congress has routinely overridden for 12 years. Instead doctors will receive a 0.5 percent pay bump for each of the next five years before transitioning to a new system aimed at paying them for quality of care.

From left, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nev. and House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio hold hands. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Second, it cuts billions of dollars from Medicare. It requires seniors who earn between $133,500 and $214,000 a year (and couples making twice that amount) to pay more for insurance and prescription drug coverage, and cuts spending on supplemental Medigap plans in order to discourage over-utilization of services on the taxpayer dime. It also modestly reduces long-term spending on providers of hospice care, home health services and nursing homes.

Third, it extends the Children’s Health Care Program for two years, moving the new expiration date to October 1, 2017. (Democrats had pushed for a four-year extension but House Republicans rejected that idea and Senate Republicans killed an amendment to that effect.)

Physician groups, including the American Medical Association, rejoiced.

The long-term Medicare changes are an important legacy achievement for Boehner, whose restive right flank has for years thwarted his efforts to secure entitlement deals with Democrats. This time many House conservatives, fed up with perennial “doc fixes,” gave him their blessing to cut the deal with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and stood by him.

In the end, most of the opponents were hardline Republican fiscal hawks who complained that the permanent “doc fix” wasn’t fully paid for, including Sens. Ted Cruz (TX) and Marco Rubio (FL). It is projected by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office to add $141 billion to the deficit in the next decade.

Notably, numerous GOP fiscal hawks who have a background as physicians put aside their deficit concerns to vote for the measure, including Sen. Rand Paul (KY), Sen. John Barrasso (WY), Rep. Tom Price (GA), Rep. John Fleming (LA) and Michael Burgess (TX). The Medicare benefit cuts were a draw for some conservatives.

“Thanks for all your hard work, Mitch,” Senate Finance Chair Orrin Hatch (R-UT) whispered to McConnell on the floor seconds after the bill passed.

Obama called the legislation a “milestone” for doctors and seniors on Medicare.

“This bipartisan bill will protect health coverage for millions of Americans, and I will be proud to sign it into law,” he said in a statement. “I hope Congress builds on this good work by finding more ways to make sure every American has access to the quality, affordable health care they deserve.”

Don’t count on that. Within moments of the legislation passing, senators returned to bickering over an anti-sex-trafficking bill that has stalled for weeks due to an unrelated fight over abortion.

~Sahil Kapur

Photo Of Obama Throwing Magic Out Into The Universe Is The Best Thing You’ll See Today (IMAGE)

It’s a “slow news day”…

Addicting Info

No matter which way you look at this photo, it’s amazing. If you see it as President Obama spreading LGBT equality, or being the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, or throwing magic out into the universe… it is fabulous no matter what.

The image, taken by White House photographer Pete Souza, is of President Obama boarding Air Force One at Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, Jamaica, right before he left after his recent trip there.



Now, is President Obama magical? Some would like to think so. He has pushed forward the most progressive policies and ideas of an entire generation. Bringing the nation, as a whole back, from the brink of another depression while pulling us forward in terms of fiscal strength and LGBT equality.

He doesn’t let those who criticize bother him whatsoever, appearing to have a super-human ability to let haters hate, roll with the punches, and smile all the way through it all. He just keeps on keepin’ on and doing what needs to get done.

This image is a perfect portrayal of how he can be seen as a treasure at the end of the rainbow. The reward for following through to the end. The first African-American President of the United States with all the odds against him. However, he knew and knows how important him getting into the Oval Office was, not only for African-Americans and people of color, but for a nation that has been falling prey to conservative fiscal policy ideas that dragged us down deep into a recession. Ideas he’s still fighting against to this day — but he holds strong.

President Obama get’s sh*t done. He got bin Laden, he ended wars, he revitalized the auto-industry, he helped cut our deficit spending by two-thirds, he brought forth and implemented health care reform, and among so many other things, he bravely came out in support of LGBT equality — the first president to ever do so, and as he did equality has been spreading across this nation like wildfire.

So, keep shooting those magic rainbows, Mr. President. We see them… and thank you.

Featured image via President Obama official portrait/Wikimedia Commons

Obama Tells Scott Walker To ‘Bone Up On Foreign Policy’ (VIDEO)


You Tube/NPR

 TPM LiveWire

“I am confident that any president who gets elected will be knowledgeable enough about foreign policy, and knowledgeable enough about the traditions and precedents of presidential power, that they won’t start calling into question the capacity of the executive branch of the United States to enter into agreements with other countries,” Obama responded. “And it would be a foolish approach to take, and, you know, perhaps Mr. Walker, after he’s taken some time to bone up on foreign policy, will feel the same way.”

Walker responded to Obama’s comments on Twitter and in a Tuesday morning statement.

“President Obama’s failed leadership has put him at odds with many across the country, including members of his own party, and key allies around the world,” Walker said in the statement. “Americans would be better served by a president who spent more time working with governors and members of Congress rather than attacking them. Whether it is cutting a bad deal with Iran, calling ISIS the JV squad, or touting Yemen as a success story, Obama’s lack of leadership has hurt America’s safety and standing in the world.”

Watch Obama’s interview below via NPR. He is asked about Walker’s comments at the 18 minute mark.

Obama Unveils Smart Plan To Combat Climate Change While Training 75,000 Vets For Jobs

Obama speaking about Solar Energy in Utah | screenshot


While speaking in Utah, President Obama announced a new program that will combat climate change while training 75,000 veterans for jobs in the solar industry.

The President said:

I am announcing a new goal to train 75,000 workers to enter the solar industry by 2020. As part of this, we’re creating what we’re calling a solar ready vets program that’s modeled after some successful pilot initiatives that have already been established over the last several years.

It’s going to train transitioning military personnel for careers in this growing industry at ten bases including right here at Hill, and as part of this effort we’re also going to work with states to enable more veterans to use the post-9/11 GI Bill for solar job training.

It’s one of the many steps we’re taking to help nearly 700,000 military veterans and spouses get a job. In fact, about thirty percent of the federal workforce is now made up of veterans. I’ve said it before, and I think employers are starting to catch on if you really want to get the job done, hire a veteran.

The plan is smart because it trains tens of thousands of transitioning military personnel and spouses for a civilian job in an industry that is growing ten times faster than the national average. The president also pointed out the military bases that get a substantial percentage of their energy from the sun save money that can applied towards other goals and missions.

The nation has undergone a dramatic shift from a president who fought a foreign war for oil (Bush and Iraq) to a forward thinking president who is using growing clean energy industry industries to train veterans of the Bush wars for good paying jobs.

The plan that the President unveiled isn’t just good politics. It’s also common sense. No veteran should have to take a low-paying service industry job because they can’t find anything else. It is part of our national obligation to everything possible to help those who served succeed when they return home.

President Obama is creating opportunities for today’s veterans to acquire the jobs of tomorrow.

Poll: Republicans Think Obama Is A Greater Threat Than Putin, Assad


AP Photo / Olivier Douliery

This speaks volumes about the Republican Party generally, as well as their negative messaging to constituents regarding the President of the United States.   Therefore, I’m not surprised…just saddened by the fact that in 2015 prejudice and ignorance still reign supreme in the United States of America.

TPM LiveWire

Republicans also said they saw Democrats as a threat. Twenty-seven percent of Republicans said that the Democratic party was a an imminent threat to the U.S., and 22 percent of Democrats said they felt the Republican party was an imminent threat to the U.S.

Reuters/Ipsos surveyed 2,809 Americans, including 1,083 Democrats and 1,059 Republicans, online March 16-24 with a margin of error plus or minus 2.1 percentage points.