With the advent of Twitter, the death of any controversial figure immediately leads to both condolences and insults directed at the dearly departed, and the passing of former First Lady Nancy Reagan was certainly no exception.
While there are more than a few rude comments directed at the wife of former President Ronald Reagan, her death also prompted some conservatives to lash out out at current First Lady Michelle Obama.
Fox News host Charles Gasparino went a step further blasting President Barack Obama for not immediately issuing a statement on the former first lady, writing, “fitting: no comment yet from @POTUS on nancy reagan’s death because he’s on a golf trip.”
Michelle Obama, however, was the main focus on a day for some when most Americans — both conservative and liberal — paid condolences to the Reagan family.
As another academic year kicks into full gear and students across the country return to school, longtime supporters of a 2010 law that updated nutritional standards for cafeteria meals have reason to remain calm amid uncertainty about its future.
A national poll shows that more than 80 percent of Americans support healthy school meals consisting of more fruit and vegetables and less high calorie and sodium food choices, requirements outlined in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act — a law that authorized the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to set nutritional standards for food sold and distributed in schools and expanded access to healthy lunch to more than 115,000 U.S. children.
The survey, conducted by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, debunks the primary argument against the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, one of the central policies at the heart of First Lady Michelle Obama’s effort to address childhood obesity. Two-thirds of respondents rated the nutritional quality of cafeteria food as “excellent” or “good.” Additionally, more than 90 percent of those surveyed said it’s somewhat or very important to serve nutritious foods in schools and strengthen children’s cognitive abilities.”
“Our survey found that people in the U.S. overwhelmingly support strong nutrition standards and believe school meals are healthier and on the right track because of these standards,” La June Montgomery Tabron, president and chief executive of the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, told the New York Times.
If lawmakers reauthorize the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act next month, schools would receive $4.5 billion over the next decade. With time dwindling before it’s set to expire, its supporters and challengers have scrambled to make their case, drawing out a battle that started shortly after its passage and holding nothing back in the process.
Since the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act’s inception, the program has expanded, serving more than one million students across the United States not only lunch, but dinner too as part of its after-school snack offerings. The UDSA also rolled out $5 million in grants to fund programs that connect school cafeterias with local farmers. The 2014 grant cycle supported more than 80 projects in 42 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In total, more than $385 million in locally grown produce has entered school buildings across the country.
But GOP lawmakers remain unsatisfied, calling the law an example of executive overreach and a “one-size-fits-all” solution. Opponents also argue that adhering to the law has financially burdened some school districts, passing legislation that would allow states to opt out of changes for a year. The School Nutrition Association (SNA), a national lobbying group, called for changes including the reduction of whole grain rich from 100 to 50, stalling of changes to sodium levels until 2017, and elimination of requirements that students have a half cup of fruits or vegetables with every meal.
While SNA and other Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act opponents say that reauthorization would allow for these revisions, proponents say the law in its current form prevent students from spiraling down a road of unhealthy diet choices.
A growing body of research support such calls to keep the status quo. Last year, researchers at Ohio State University found that high consumption of fast food — often replete with salt and sugar and low in calcium, iron, Vitamin C, and zinc — causes some memory loss and slows down cognitive development in children. An unbalanced diet can also widen waistlines, especially among young people. Rates of childhood obesity have more than doubled in the last 30 years, bringing with it additional instances of cancer and higher hospitalization costs.
A nutritious breakfast and hour of physical activity has been proven to improve brain function, but some parents don’t take these words to heart: 90 percent of homemade school lunches include deserts, chips, and sweetened nondairy products.
Experts say a balanced diet that includes bread, fruits and vegetables, dairy, meat, and fish can ward off excessive weight and pave the way for positive health outcomes. For some Americans, however, it’s hard to prepare healthy meals because they live in areas with high food insecurity, where the nearest grocery store is more than a mile away. Funds from the Supplemental Nutritional Program haven’t sufficed in connecting low-income people with high quality meals. Additionally, parents’ unpredictable work schedules may preclude parents from engaging their children for dinner, let alone preparing a healthy meal.
That’s why members of the American Heart Association (AHA) have spoken out in recent weeks in support of keeping, and perhaps strengthening, the requirements outlined in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. They particularly point to high levels of sodium found in frozen and junk food that, when ingested consistently, can lead to heart disease or stroke.
“Our children are healthier because of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act,” Kristy Anderson, government relations manager at the American Heart Association, told an NBC Los Angeles affiliate. “We know that the more children are exposed to nutritious foods, the more they accept and like eating healthy — and it sets them up for a lifetime of healthy eating habits. So our message is stay the course.”
Over the weekend, Michelle Obama delivered a passionate, candid commencement speech to the graduating class at Tuskegee University, Alabama, in which she addressed the daily slights of racism she has endured throughout her life. From Saturday’s ceremony:
We’ve both felt the sting of those daily slights throughout our entire lives. The folks who crossed the street in fear of their safety, the clerks who kept a close eye on us in all those department stores. The people at formal events who assumed we were the help. And those who have questioned our intelligence, our honesty, even our love of this country, and I know that these little indignities are obviously nothing compared to what folks across the country are dealing with every single day.
It was a powerful speech, and naturally, the folks at Fox News were not happy. Fox News contributor Angela McGlowan on Tuesday suggested the speech was yet another example of the White House dividing the country on issues of race, asking, “Why didn’t the first lady share the reason why she got into Princeton was probably because of Affirmative Action?”
“The reason why she became an associate at a law firm was probably because of diversity, they needed a woman—not saying that she wasn’t qualified—but they needed a woman, and a woman of color,” she said.
Comedy Central’s Larry Wilmore was not having it. In a segment on the Nightly Show, he fired back: “When a coke-snorting, alcohol-guzzling son of a CIA director DUI’s his way into Yale and ultimately into the Oval Office because his daddy’s was in both places, that’s affirmative action.”
What is it about white privilege that Fox’s Sean Hannity doesn’t get? After everything we’ve seen in the news, Hannity watched Michelle Obama’s searing graduation speech at Tuskegee University in Alabama, and can’t understand why she’s so angry and so black.
Actually, Obama didn’t even come across as particularly angry, Hannity just doesn’t like to hear the truth about how horribly White America treats black people. It’s much easier for him to portray our first lady as a reverse racist. Ellen Brodsky from NewsHounds(they watch Fox so you don’t have to) caught Hannity on the air weighing in on Michelle Obama’s speech, and called it “shocking.”
“But first, tonight, shocking comments from Michelle Obama while giving the commencement speech at Tuskegee University in Alabama this weekend. Now, he used the opportunity to express her own views on racism and discrimination in America. Take a listen, and look at this.”
Cue selective clips that bolster Hannity’s appalling views of Obama as a racist. Like the part where our first lady talks to the 2015 graduating class at this historic black university about the “sting of those daily slights” they will encounter as they launch their careers in White America.
“We’ve both felt the sting of those daily slights throughout our entire lives — the folks who crossed the street in fear of their safety; the clerks who kept a close eye on us in all those department stores; the people at formal events who assumed we were the ‘help’ — and those who have questioned our intelligence, our honesty, even our love of this country.”
Any person of color — along with Anglo/white people who bother to care — have seen this dynamic at work and know it’s true. And instead of sounding angry, Obama even makes reference to how lucky she and her husband, the president, are compared to so many black people we’ve seen in the news lately:
“And I know that these little indignities are obviously nothing compared to what folks across the country are dealing with every single day — those nagging worries that you’re going to get stopped or pulled over for absolutely no reason; the fear that your job application will be overlooked because of the way your name sounds.”
It’s only natural that Obama would talk about race on the site of former cotton plantations worked by slaves at a college founded to train black teachers for segregated schools. But Hannity prefers to accuse FLOTUS of racism for daring to talk about race and call America out on our racism. He then trots out three black conservatives, plus one black token liberal to ensure he’s got someone he can bully and shout down.
First Hannity introduces Ron Christie, former special assistant to president George W. Bush and author of the disturbingly-titled book, “Blackwards: How Black Leadership is Returing America to the Days of Separate But Equal.” Also on his panel are Mike Meyers from the deceptively-named New York Civil Rights Commission; Denene Borelli, outreach director for the vile, Koch-funded libertarian group FreedomWorks; and political activist and former Hillary Clinton advisor Jehmu Greene,
Hannity and company’s derogatory comments on Obama’s speech included the following:
Hannity: “My initial observation is […] Barack Hussein Obama got elected by a majority of white America. Why is she so angry?”
Deneen Borelli: “Listen, I see this as propaganda. Instead of promoting how America is an exceptional country, Sean, she took that route to play the race card and race bait.”
Mike Meyers: Which racial ideologue do you know that’s not angry? She sounded like Hillary Clinton in that racial dialect. [Proceeds to make monkey noises, no I am not kidding]
Christie: Her message should have been uplifting […] It was a ‘poor me’ speech […] She just sounded so angry and so defiant.
Only Greene stood up for Obama, declaring that our first lady gave a speech that was not only moving, it embraced conservative values of hard work and self-reliance.
“What speech did y’all hear. I think some folks need to clean their ears out, because what [Obama] actually did, she was frank, she was candid, and she gave a conservative speech. “
Greene pointed out that Obama even took a potshot at the kind of “feminists” Hannity loves to hate, who’ve criticized her for putting family before career, and then dished out a little tough love.
“She said if you feel brought down, if you feel that people are against you, if you think you’re going to be treated negatively, guess what? Get over it, you cannot use it as an excuse.”
“No,” Hannity objected, “That’s not the speech I heard.”
Well, of course Hannity can’t hear when he refuses to listen. Greene called him out for playing selective clips, and Hannity turned to someone more likely to say what he wanted to hear. Christie obligingly sneered about Obama’s “negative, poor me speech.”
(Via my email. There is no longer access to the online version without a subscription.)
1. Radical Greek anti-austerity party wins parliamentary election
Greece’s radical left Syriza party, which is vowing to end the country’s tough austerity program, moved quickly to form a government Monday, a day after winning a decisive victory in Sunday’s parliamentary elections. Party leader Alexis Tsipras, at age 40 Greece’s youngest prime minister in 150 years, said the vote gave the party a clear mandate to end “five years of humiliation and pain,” signaling a showdown with lenders over the terms of Greece’s $270 billion international bailout. Greek stocks fell by five percent early Monday. [The Washington Post]
2. New York and the rest of the Northeast brace for historic storm
Airlines canceled nearly 2,000 flights on Monday ahead of a potentially historic winter storm headed into the Northeast. New Yorkers were expecting as much as 30 inches of snow to begin falling in early afternoon. New York City has only experienced two blizzards packing 26 inches of snow, one in 1947 and one in 2006. “Don’t underestimate this storm,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday. “My message for New Yorkers is prepare for something worse than we have ever seen before.” [ABC News, PBS Newshour]
3. Sixteen die in protests marking anniversary of Egypt’s uprising
At least 16 people were killed in Egypt over the weekend in clashes between police and protesters marking the fourth anniversary of the country’s revolution. At least 15 people, including three police cadets, were killed on Sunday. One woman, Shaimaa El-Sabbagh of the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, was killed — shot by police, colleagues said — as she marched with a group heading to Tahrir Square. Police deny firing the shots, saying they only used tear gas. [CNN, BBC News]
4. New York Assembly Speaker Silver agrees to temporarily step aside
Longtime New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver agreed Sunday to step aside temporarily as he fights federal corruption charges. Silver was under increasing pressure from Democrats to give up his duties. One person familiar with the deal said Silver, who was arrested on Thursday, would “not specifically step down, but step back.” Democrats will hold a closed-door meeting on Monday afternoon to consider the plan. [The New York Times]
5. Small aerial drone found on White House grounds
A device believed to be a small aerial drone, was found on the grounds of the White House on Sunday. Obama administration officials said Monday that the device posed no threat. The discovery came as President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are in India, although their daughters, Sasha and Malia, did not travel with them. The news came as the Secret Service has been trying to regroup after several security breaches, including one in September when a man with a knife scaled a fence and ran into the White House. [The Miami Herald]
6. Christie forms PAC ahead of possible presidential bid
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has formed a political action committee in what has been interpreted as an early step toward launching a bid for the presidency in 2016. The move made Christie the third high-profile Republican to consider launching a campaign, behind former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney, the GOP’s nominee in 2012. Launching the PAC, Leadership Matters for America, will let Christie recruit the staff and fundraisers he would need to start a campaign. [The Wall Street Journal]
7. Obama moves to expand protections in Alaska wilderness
The White House announced on Sunday that President Obama will ask Congress to classify 12 million acres in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska as wilderness. The designation would make it illegal to drill for oil and gas, or build roads on the land. The news was met with excitement from environmental groups and anger by Republican opponents, including Alaskan Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who called the proposal “a stunning attack on our sovereignty.” [The New York Times]
8. Church of England consecrates its first female bishop
The Church of England is consecrating its first female bishop on Monday. The Reverend Libby Lane, 48, said her ordination as Bishop of Stockport is a “profound and remarkable moment,” as it ends an uninterrupted tradition of male-only leadership for the 500-year-old institution. The church announced Lane’s consecration last month after a divisive debate over whether to allow women to become bishops. Critics said Lane’s appointment was merely symbolic, but she said she may be “the first, but I won’t be the only.” [BBC News, The Associated Press]
9. Birdman takes top prize at SAG Awards
Birdman took the top prize at the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday night, winning for outstanding ensemble in a motion picture. The prize boosted the film’s Oscar hopes, although its star, Michael Keaton, was upset by Eddie Redmayne, who took the best-actor award for his work in The Theory of Everything. Uzo Aduba took the prize for outstanding female actor for her role as “Crazy Eyes” in the Orange is the New Black. The series also won for best cast in a comedy. [CBS News, USA Today]
10. Duke’s Coach K gets his 1,000th win
The Duke men’s basketball team made a late-game comeback to beat St. Johns 77-68 at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, giving the Blue Devils’ legendary coach, Mike Krzyzewski, the 1,000th win of his 40-year coaching career. Duke trailed by 10 with just over eight minutes remaining, then went on a 28-9 tear. Krzyzewski was already the winningest coach in Division I college men’s basketball. He won that distinction three seasons ago in the same arena with his 903rd win, surpassing his mentor, former Indiana coach Bobby Knight. [Raleigh News & Observer, Sports Illustrated]
Bodies found in search for missing AirAsia jet, Rep. Michael Grimm resigns, and more
1. Bodies and wreckage found in AirAsia search
Indonesian search and rescue crews looking for a missing AirAsia jet have recovered 40 bodies from the Java Sea near Borneo, Indonesian naval authorities said Tuesday. The Airbus A320 aircraft was bound for Singapore when it disappeared from radar early Sunday with 162 passengers and crew on board after hitting a line of severe tropical thunderstorms. Rescuers spotted only bodies and debris believed to be from the missing plane. There was no sign of survivors. [The Globe and Mail]
2. New York congressman quits under fire
Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), who pleaded guilty to felony tax evasion two weeks ago, announced just before midnight Monday that he was resigning. Grimm previously said he would remain in office, but he reversed course shortly after meeting with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). “I do not believe that I can continue to be 100 percent effective in the next Congress, and therefore, out of respect for the office and the people I so proudly represent, it is time for me to start the next chapter of my life,” he said. [The New York Times]
3. U.S. targets al-Shabab leader in airstrike
The U.S. targeted an al-Shabab leader in Somalia with an airstrike on Monday. The operation came four months after another U.S. airstrike reportedly killed the al Qaeda-linked Islamist terrorist group’s head, Ahmed Abdi Godane, following the capture of its intelligence chief. The U.S. designated al-Shabab as a terrorist organization in 2008. It has launched a string of attacks on civilians in Uganda and Kenya, including a 2013 siege at a Nairobi mall that killed more than 60 people. [The Wall Street Journal]
4. L.A. police officers shot at while on patrol
Two men shot at a police car patrolling a high-crime area in Los Angeles on Monday, stoking fears of attacks in the California city mirroring the recent murder of two officers in New York. “It was a complete unprovoked attack,” LAPD Deputy Chief Bob Green said immediately after the incident. Later reports suggested the officers might have been inadvertently fired at after driving into a violent clash. One man was arrested shortly after the shooting. [The Associated Press]
5. Scotland reports its first Ebola case
Scotland confirmed its first Ebola case on Monday. The patient — a female nurse — was diagnosed with the potentially deadly virus after returning from Sierra Leone, one of the West African nations hit hardest with this year’s Ebola outbreak — the worst in history. The woman has not been identified by name or nationality. She worked for Save the Children’s Ebola hospital in Kerry Town, near Sierra Leone’s capital of Freetown. The patient is being transferred to a high-level isolation unit in London. [USA Today]
6. De Blasio heckled at New York City police cadet graduation
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was greeted with both boos and applause on Monday while addressing a group of graduating police cadets. The incident came two days after thousands of officers, who accuse de Blasio of fueling anti-police anger over recent killings of unarmed black men by white officers, turned their backs on de Blasio at a funeral for one of the two policemen killed by a gunman on Dec. 20. When de Blasio praised the cadets for confronting problems they “didn’t create,” a heckler said, “You created them!” [Reuters]
7. House majority whip admits speaking at a white nationalist group in 2002
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), the House majority whip, acknowledged Monday that he had spoken at a gathering of white nationalists in 2002. At the time of the appearance at the European-American Unity and Rights Organization, which was founded by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, Scalise, 48, was a state representative. His office said he was not aware of the nature of the organization, which has been called a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. [The Washington Post]
8. Oil prices continue falling to their lowest in five years
Oil prices dropped by more than $1 a barrel on Monday, reaching their lowest level since May 2009. Reported damage to Libya’s oil facilities briefly buoyed prices before the reality of a worldwide oil glut dragged prices down again. Brent crude fell $1.57 to $57.88 at the end of the day, and U.S. crude dropped $1.12 to $53.60 per barrel. “Every time the market tries to pick itself up, it’s just another wave of selling,” said Tradition Energy senior analyst Gene McGillian. [Reuters]
9. Australian teenage spear fisherman killed by shark
An Australian teenager was killed by a great white shark on Monday. The young man — Jay Muscat, 17 — was spearfishing with a friend when the shark, estimated to be between 13 and 16 feet long, attacked. The shark reportedly might have been injured by Muscat’s diving companion, who told authorities he fired a spear at it. Officials closed nearby Cheynes Beach in Western Australia’s south coast. Two weeks ago, an 18-year-old man was killed while spearfishing on eastern Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. [The Associated Press]
10. Mo’Ne Davis, 13, wins AP‘s Female Athlete of the Year
Thirteen-year-old Little League pitcher Mo’ne Davis has been chosen as the 2014 Associated PressFemale Athlete of the Year. Davis this year became the first girl to win a game pitching in the Little League World Series. The eighth grader, who also stars on her school’s high school varsity basketball team, appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, was named Sports Kid of the Year bySports Illustrated Kids, and has already met President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama at the White House. [USA Today]
Having dealt first hand with one of those online threats to the POTUS, I have my opinion about The Secret Service’s ability to curb such threats. I may be wrong or things may have improved in the last few years but when I was documenting a disturbed person who accused the POTUS of many things and was extremely angry with him, the Secret Service seemed to gently handle him and his threats (which were numerous.)
More than 60 percent of the threats against President Obama are made online, according to the Secret Service, posing a new set of challenges for an agency under fire for a series of critical security lapses.
Lawmakers and private security officials question whether the Secret Service has sufficiently adapted to a new social-media landscape in which it must sort through a blizzard of online references to the president, investigate those that raise flags and then reconcile them with the intelligence they are gathering on the ground.
“I don’t know if they’ve adapted to these new threats,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on national security. “The attacks are going to come, no matter what. Are there new and creative ways of detecting them? I’m not convinced they’ve tied those loops.”
Chaffetz noted that he was “pleasantly surprised” that in 2011 agents were immediately able to pick up a tweet a D.C. woman posted about a man shooting at the White House. But he questioned why that piece of evidence was not used to corroborate suspicions among several officers that shots had been fired. Instead, the agency forwarded the report to the U.S. Park Police for further investigation, and it would be four days before it was discovered that bullets had hit the White House.
“Why didn’t that show up in the system?” Chaffetz asked about the tweet.
During Obama’s first run for the presidency, the issue of clearest concern was his race, which made him a magnet for threats from people who thought it disqualified him from the office.
As Obama nears six years in the White House, the number of overtly racist threats have subsided but the threats in general continue. Today, the dominant theme of grievances against the president is government overreach, according to current and former Secret Service officials, as critics suggest Obama is abusing his power and trampling the Constitution.
Brian Leary, a spokesman for the Secret Service, said the agency has adjusted to the fact that most threats against the president now occur online.
“The capability is there, and we have to evolve with technology as well,” he said, adding that the number of threats against Obama “did spike a few months after the  election, but they declined back to a level that is consistent with his predecessors, and they still are.”
Other sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said Obama received triple the number of threats than previous presidents during his initial candidacy and first year in office. That number has declined significantly since then, they said, but is still elevated compared with Obama’s predecessors
What constitutes a threat?
Members of the protective intelligence division consider even the most minor suggestions of harm to the president worthy of investigation. One agent, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal agency operations, described being instructed to interview people who were intoxicated in a bar and were overheard describing how they would like to hurt the president.
Since Obama took office, at least 65 people have been indicted on charges of threatening to harm him. In January, Daniel L. Temple, who had tweeted “im coming to kill you” and “so I gotta kill barack obama first,” was sentenced to 16 months in prison after pleading guilty.
Nicholas Savino was sentenced in March to a year in prison for posting this on the White House Web site in August 2013: “President Obama the Anti-Christ, As a result of breaking the constitution you will stand down or be shot dead.”
Police, who arrested Savino a few days after he posted the statement, found three guns and about 11,000 rounds of ammunition in his apartment and car.
Agents briefed on protective intelligence for presidents and presidential candidates say that the rise in threats has much to do with the advance of the technological age, with the agency now receiving a much larger number of electronic communications that contain threats.
Today, racially based threats constitute 5 to 10 percent of the those made against the president, said people familiar with the matter.
Marilyn Mayo, co-director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, said her group has found that physical threats against Obama and racial remarks on white-supremacist sites peaked in 2008 and 2009.
During the early days of Obama’s initial candidacy and the first year of his presidency, according to several people familiar with the matter, many of the threats against him had a frightening racist quality.
“If you had seen the stuff we were reading, it would have made your jaw drop,” said one former agent who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the topic.
Mayo said her group continues to see “a tremendous amount of anger against Obama,” adding that much of it focuses on assertions that he has overstepped his constitutional authority.
Some critics do turn violent. Jerad Miller had called for Obama’s impeachment on hisFacebook page; in June he and his wife, Amanda, shot two police officers in a pizza restaurant in Las Vegas. They placed a swastika and a “Don’t tread on me” flag on one officer’s body and a note on the other’s that read, “This is the start of the revolution.” Miller died in a shootout with police, while his wife committed suicide.
Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors white-supremacist organizations, said in an interview, “The fact that all of this is online makes the job in some way easier and in some way harder.
“All this ugliness is exposed to the light of day,” Potok said. “On the other hand, you typically have no idea who are the people posting on these sites, because they’re anonymous.”
Steve Atkiss, who served as special assistant for operations under President George W. Bush and is now a partner at Command Consulting, said his firm’s private and government clients are looking for ways to mine social media for these kinds of threats.
“One thing those clients have been clamoring for, for several years now, is a tool that would sort through the 50,000 tweets per second that are flying through cyberspace to find what is meaningful to them,” said Atkiss, adding that his firm has recently found software that puts keywords in context. “It’s been a struggle.”
Before Obama was elected president, the threats his Senate office received were so vituperative that Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) and Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) asked the Secret Service to review whether he needed federal protection. Then-Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan told Congress that the agency was going to have to “pick him up” earlier than any presidential candidate in history, with the exception of Hillary Rodham Clinton, who had an existing detail because of her husband’s time in the Oval Office.
The prospect of the first African American president being assassinated was such a serious concern among some black voters that the Obamas addressed it directly in the campaign. Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) said he discussed the matter with Michelle Obama after a high school teacher in his home town of Sumter told him that some of her African American students “were not going to support him. They did not want to see him elected, because somebody would kill him.”
Michelle Obama — who privately talked to Coretta Scott King, the widow of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., about the possibility of a presidential assassination before her husband was elected — gave an answer similar to one she gave in a 2007 interview with CBS’s Steve Kroft: that her husband was just as vulnerable as a private citizen.
“I don’t lose sleep over it, because the realities are, as a black man, Barack can get shot going to the gas station, you know,” she said in the interview. “So you can’t make decisions based on fear and the possibilities of what might happen. We just weren’t raised that way.”
Secret Service officials also ask aides to Cabinet members to notify the agency if they receive any menacing communications that have racial overtones and mention the president, according to people familiar with the matter.
Government overreach has been a major theme in this year’s midterm campaigns as Republicans have accused Obama of overstepping the bounds of his executive authority. It also has had a violent tone at times, such as Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s campaign to take up arms against Bureau of Land Management officials who sought to round up his cattle after he refused to pay federal grazing fees for years.
Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) said in an interview that “there’s a meanness in American society today that reminds me of the period in our history, the civil rights period, where it was dangerous to speak up and speak out.”
But Lewis, who spoke with the Obamas at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s recent annual dinner, said the revelations about potential vulnerabilities in the White House’s security system did not seem to be affecting the first couple.
“I don’t think they live in fear. None of us live in fear,” Lewis said, referring to prominent African American political figures. “You’re not preoccupied with what might or might not happen. You just do what you have to do.”
Quick, can you tie an interview with Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson to an irrational hatred for the First Lady? No? Well then I guess you can’t be on Fox News.
“Can this Seattle Super Bowl champ do what Michelle Obama could not?” Cavuto asked during a teaser for the interview. “Food for thought from the guy dishing it out.”
I forget if Neil Cavuto is on the “real news” side of Fox News, but since that was never actually a thing, I guess not.
“Well, Russell, what are we doing wrong then as a nation though with this urging them to eat healthy or set up these school lunch programs where they’re urged to eat healthy. I mean, Michelle Obama’s trying. Many argue that she’s getting to be too much of a food police mommy,” Cavuto said. “Be that as it may, whatever she’s doing isn’t working and I’m wondering what you’re doing that is working. What’s the difference?”
When you’re a quarterback who Fox News will suck up to, that’s gotta count for something. No First Lady has gotten that since the last one before this one. The rest of the banter solidifies Cavuto’s reputation as being the guy on Fox you really do not want to have to sit for an interview with, aside from all the other people on Fox.
“Well, the first lady, I have so much respect for her. I was able to meet her and the President, obviously, you know when we went to the Super Bowl, we won the Super Bowl and got to go to the White House,” Wilson said. “You know, I think at the end of the day, you know the kids, it’s tough to eat healthy. You know, I remember when I was a little kid I was always struggling trying to eat healthy.” […]”Really? That was never my problem, Russell. I guess you have some issues,” Cavuto said.
We keep reminding Democratic politicians that appearing on Fox News will gain you nothing but trouble. We probably ought to extend that warning to every other person in America as well.
Instead of discussing the substance of recent comments on race by Attorney General Eric Holder and First Lady Michelle Obama, Sean Hannity used the opportunity to attack them. First, he gathered an all-white panel, then fed them race-baiting prompts.
First attack: Hannity compared Holder’s and Obama’s comments to Condoleezza Rice talking about how wonderful it was that, having grown up in the segregated south, she could now run for president. The implication was clear: that Obama and Holder are just resentful sourpusses who don’t love their country enough. However, both Obama and Holder, in their speeches, also made similar remarks marveling at the progress of race relations in their lifetimes. Funny how that got ignored, eh?
“Very interesting, isn’t it?” Hannity said about the cherry-picked clips. His innocent tone disingenuously hid the racial animosity he was clearly looking to engender.
Props to guest Deirdre Imus for immediately smacking down the agenda. “Everyone comes at life at a different angle and a different perspective… So I don’t think it’s fair to compare,” she said. “…Don’t deny that there’s racism and racial disparity!”
Hannity, perhaps trying to hide his own very ugly record on race, said, “There’s white on black racism, black on white racism but it is not the majority of Americans by any stretch.”
Guest Katie Pavlich jumped at Hannity’s race bait. Which is no surprise given her blatantlycondescending and hostile attitude toward African Americans. First, she sneered that Holder did not, like Rice, suffer segregation (suggesting he was more “black” than patriotic) and moved on to blame President Obama for opposing school choice (which, Pavlich questionably claimed, would erase school segregation). “So if anyone’s at fault here, it’s the Obama administration,” she said in a taunting, mean-girl voice.
But leave it to guest Gavin McInnes – who last week likened gay advocacy to sharia law – to be the most deliberately offensive. “That Eric Holder attitude is crippling for blacks. Because when you portray the world as ‘they’re out to get you. You can’t make it. It’s no use even trying,’ that’s much more harmful than any of this mythical racism.”
Well, that’s good to know, too. Because if there’s any group that continuously whines about their victimhood, it’s conservativesonFox. So we’ll look for McInnes to speak out about their crippling attitude. But don’t hold your breath.
Meanwhile, Hannity quickly suggested Michelle Obama and Eric Holder were in some kind of racial cabal: “To me it was suspicious, her and Eric Holder, the same weekend? Why?”
Pavlich had a racially hate-filled answer at the ready: “Because they have to keep the bar lowered because they have a certain sector – voting block – that keeps them in office based on…” I couldn’t hear the rest of her answer but I think we can guess the gist.
Watch Hannity’s panel whitesplain racism in America below via Media Matters.
“[T]his month, in response to terrorists kidnapping 300 girls in Nigeria, First Lady Michelle Obama locked and loaded for battle with her own ‘selfie,’ with the unconditional surrender demand #BringBackOurGirls,” the NRA’s lobbying arm wrote in an editorial on its website. “Tyrants and terrorists, like murderers, rapists and robbers, understand only one thing: force. They laugh at, and are emboldened by, weakness. That is why it is important topreserve and promote the right to keep and bear arms. An armed citizenry deters violence.” […]
“Ms. Psaki’s and Mrs. Obama’s naiveté–thinking that Vladimir Putin or Boko Haram terrorists will change their ways because of tweets–would provide ample fodder for their ridicule, were we so inclined,” the NRA said. “But while we appreciate the value of maintaining a sense of humor in the face of things that are disagreeable, we do so only within reasonable limits. There is nothing funny in this instance.”
So how would we fix this? Should First Lady Michelle Obama have been packin’ heat in her photo? Holding up a sign in one hand and an assault rifle in the other, maybe chomping down on a cigar while tigers ride orcas in the background?
Tyrants and terrorists, like murderers, rapists and robbers, understand only one thing: force. They laugh at, and are emboldened by, weakness. That is why it is important to preserve and promote the right to keep and bear arms. An armed citizenry deters violence.
Well, then get your heavily armed asses over there, fella. Them freedom bullets ain’t gonna fire themselves. Oh right, I forgot you don’t actually give a damn.
However, those of us who understand and value the Second Amendment will not forfeit the right to keep and bear arms, and we will not stake our personal safety on “#PleaseDontHurtMe” tweets. Instead, we will exercise our right to arms, by acquiring the best arms for defensive purposes and becoming proficient in their use. And we will do everything possible in 2016 to help elect a president who understands the importance of maintaining strength, whether dealing with common criminals here at home, or with international criminals on the world stage.
Sigh. Again—there’s nobody on staff who might pipe up with a “you know, maybe let’s not open our mouths on this one? I think we’ll just look like asses.”
Oh, while we have the NRA’s attention: A suggestion. It seems like the becoming-proficient-in-their-use part could use some work. That’s supposed to be your actual day job, right?