Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

Somebody buy the President some watercolors

Posted on April 10, 2014 at 11.10 am


Of all the things I ever imagined happening after George W. Bush left office, this is not it — and I love it.

I love it partly because these paintings really are oddly earnest; and they are not very good; and for reasons totally unknown, Bush has decided to exhibit them in public places while his wife talks about his work with just a hint of condescension.

But I mainly love it because this whole painting project is so very un-presidential. While many post-presidency activities try to perpetuate the glory of the ex-President’s time in office, this does not. Presidential libraries, speaking tours, charitable activities — all of these things are designed to bolster the former Presidents’ prestige (and sometimes their bank accounts), adding to the personality cult that surrounds the White House.

And while I understand a desire for our head of state to have some degree of pomp and circumstance, a healthy cut-back in the celebrity that the Oval Office brings is much overdue. The President is not our national dad or the “boss of the country,” as some have bizarrely suggested, and his job ought to be one of public service. Yet America too often maintains an obsession with the presidency which isn’t conducive to reasoned critiques of any administration’s policies.

And that brings me back to Bush and his paintings (especially the bath and shower self portraits). He signs them “43” — as in 43rd President — and they are not exactly commanding of respect. But where Bush’s paintings may indeed excel is in diminishing the cultural power of the presidency.

I only wish he’d starting sharing them a few years earlier…and I wish someone would buy Barack Obama a set of watercolors.

7 Ways Republicans and Democrats are exactly the same

Posted on February 20, 2014 at 4.49 pm

Thanks to Rare for publishing this piece! Original version here.

Cats vs. dogs. Coke vs. Pepsi. Democrats vs. Republicans.

These are the great divisions of life. But what if one of those rivalries isn’t actually much of a division at all?

Don’t worry, I’m not trying to reignite the cola wars of the 90s. (Besides, we all know Coke is the clear winner: Do you order a Jack and Pepsi?)

No, I’m talking about Democrats and Republicans—or rather, the out-of-date and out-of-step establishments of both parties.

For libertarians, saying both parties are the same is a common theme. Democrat and Republican partisans dismiss such critiques as cynical or unserious, but there’s a real case to be made if we look at the cold, hard facts.

Here are 7 big reasons there’s no difference between establishment Democrats and Republicans:

1. Both support endless war. It’s been more than a decade since the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and America’s entanglements are far from over. Though Bush is remembered as the consummate hawk, Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama has used his time in office to start or maintain additional wars in Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia. Now, he wants to add Syria to the list. My generation can barely remember peace—and there’s no end in sight for a foreign policy with devastating human and financial costs.

2. Both engage in out-of-control spending. Yes, deficit spending has accelerated under Barack Obama. But you know what? There was also a massive acceleration under Bush. The fact is, debt is a bipartisan problem, and neither party is innocent. With $17 trillion of debt (and rapidly counting) as the consequence of decades of bipartisan irresponsibility, the time has passed for pointing fingers and dubbing a slightly slower rate of spending growth a “historic cut.”

3. Both ignore our most basic rights. CNN recently asked “When can a government kill its own people?” but for President Obama and some old guard GOP leaders like Sen. John McCain, that question has already been answered: Pretty much whenever it’s convenient. In fact, the U.S. government has already assassinated a 16-year-old American citizen by drone strike, killing a boy who was neither accused nor suspected of any crime.

Read the final four reasons here!

Use that pen to call off the drug dogs, Mr. President.

Posted on February 10, 2014 at 11.16 am

The irony is so thick here you could cut it with a knife. Mr. “I don’t need to wait for Congress; I have a pen” wants to wait for Congress to reclassify marijuana to make penalties less severe.

Reason reports a recent conversation the President had with CNN:

CNN’s Jake Tapper: You said that smoking pot was a bad habit but you didn’t think it was any worse for a person than drinking. Now that contradicts the official Obama administration policy, both on the website of the Office of National Drug Control Policy and also the fact that marijuana is considered a Schedule I narcotic, along with heroin and Ecstasy. Now do you think you were maybe talking just a little too casually about it with Remnick inThe New Yorker, or are you considering not making marijuana a Schedule I narcotic?

President Obama: Well, first of all, what is and isn’t a Schedule I narcotic is a job for Congress.

Tapper: I think it’s the DEA that decides that.

Obama: It’s not something by ourselves that we start changing. No, there are laws undergirding those determinations.

“There are laws undergirding those determinations.”

There are laws.


Those determinations.

You know what other determinations have laws undergirding them?

Whether or not the you can order assassinations on American citizens andtheir teenage sons — but that hasn’t stopped you, Mr. President.

Whether or not we can be indefinitely detained without charge or trial — but you seem to have forgotten any civil libertarianism you once espoused.

Whether or not the government can spy on us on an incredibly intrusive mass scale — but you don’t really seem concerned about that.

Whether or not the executive branch can unilaterally invade or bomb another country without getting a declaration of war from Congress — but that hasn’t slowed you down in Libya or Yemen or Pakistan and Somalia.

So hey, if you’re going to operate an imperial presidency anyway, Mr. President, can we at least get something good out of it? It’s time to stop jailing people for marijuana use. We know ityou know it; and we know you know it. And unlike all that other stuff I mentioned, making pot a Schedule II or (better yet) III drug actually is within your purview as the head of the executive branch. So none of this sudden, false timidity. Call off the drug dogs already.