The President’s Empty Calls for Civility

It seems like ever since the election ended, President Obama has been quick to scold us to be a bit nicer.  At a commencement speech a few weeks ago, he said

We cannot expect to solve our problems if all we do is tear each other down,” Obama told about 92,000 people during a commencement address at Michigan Stadium. “You can question someone’s views and their judgment without questioning their motives or their patriotism.”

Calling for “a basic level of civility in our public debate,” Obama said: “These arguments we’re having over government and healthcare and war and taxes are serious arguments. They should arouse people’s passions, and it’s important for everyone to join in the debate, with all the rigor that a free people require.”….

“We’ve got politicians calling each other all sorts of unflattering names, pundits and talking heads shout at each other,” Obama said.

“As I’ve found out after a year in the White House, changing this type of slash-and-burn politics isn’t easy,” Obama said. “And part of what civility requires is that we recall the simple lesson most of us learned from our parents: Treat others as you would like to be treated, with courtesy and respect.”

This was far from the first time he has made such pleas.  But is Mr. Obama treating others “with courtesy and respect?”

Perhaps I’m wrong, but I can’t recall another time in my life where the president has used his bully pulpit to make specific, targeted, personal attacks on commentators who are not politicians, but individual citizens exercising their freedom of speech.  Yet, President Obama, the man who calls for civility, has done just that on a number of occasions.  He calls radio commenters Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, who often disagree with him, “troublesome” and that their statements are “vitriol.”  When asked about criticisms that Sarah Palin raised about his nuclear policy, he specifically stated that he refused to respond to her concerns at all, and instead dropped a sarcastic comment on her lack of “expertise” in the matter, making no attempts to justify his policy.  He demands that House Republicans not listen to Rush Limbaugh, rather than actually address their agenda. 

These sorts of insults don’t stop with the president himself, but extend to those who speak for him.  Just a month into the presidency, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs personally called out CNBC reporter Rick Santelli in an extended series of comments in which he not only disagreed with Santelli’s opinions, but took jabs at his personal style and home.  Gibbs answers reporters’ questions with condescension and insults, comparing one to his child.  He mocks Sarah Palin, for no other apparent reason other than to get a cheap laugh.  When a representative for Rush Limbaugh asked if the president, who is a frequent golfer, would join Mr. Limbaugh in a round, his administration gave a response that would make any sixth grader snicker: “Rush Limbaugh can play with himself.” 

Now, you may be thinking, “I don’t like Glenn Beck either!” or “Surely Rush Limbaugh can defend himself!”  And you may be right.  But, doesn’t it concern you just a little bit that the man with the bulk of the power, including vast amounts of power over the airwaves, seems so inclined to make personal attacks?  His statements are not merely disagreements on policy, nor just dismissals, but insults of the sort that mature adults usually scoff.  And he does this while calling for the rest of the world to be civil.

One could perhaps turn a blind eye, or  perhaps quietly note the hypocrisy of the calls for civility and move on, if the insults were only limited to wealthy commentators with national audiences.  But they aren’t.  President Obama’s failure to meet his own calls for civility extend to throwing sexually charged insults at citizens as ordinary as you and me.  One would think that the President of the United States would have more class, that he would be above the childish antics of tittering  Anderson Cooper and Keith Olbermann, but he is not.  Instead, the President of the United States, apparently lacking a better answer to his critics, has resorted to calling them “teabaggers,” a reference to a sexual act.     

Naturally, many commentators and citizens have said negative things about the president as well, as has been the case throughout the history of this great nation.  But the President of the United States is not a radio commenter or a civilian protester; he has real power and his words shape real policy.  Even if he were not calling for civility, his office demands that he be held to, and serve at, a much higher standard than those whose careers are shaped by ratings and ad revenue.  But what is truly disturbing is that he continues to make these insults and personal attacks while making a point of calling for civility over and over again.  Does President Obama not realize the hypocrisy of his ways, or does he simply not care?  Does he believe that, because he won, he is able to demand assent and agreement on all issues under his control?  Does civility, to the president, simply mean a lack of dissent?


This is not the best pizza crust that I have ever had

It is, however, far better than any delivery pizza that I’ve ever tried, and can be made into pizza, start to finish, in less time than it takes for the driver to get here with a pie. 

  •  1/2 Cup + 2 TBS Warm Water
  • 2 1/8 Tsp Dry Yeast
  • 1/8 Cup (2 TBS) Vegetable Oil
  • 1/8 Cup (2 TBS) Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 TBS Sugar
  • 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • Toppings of choice (I like mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce with a little sautéed garlic, red pepper, and oregano mixed in, hot Italian sausage, and pineapple best)

Pre-heat oven to 375.  Mix water and yeast in the bowl of a mixer.  Mix in the oil and sugar, then add the flour gradually.  Mix until a smooth dough is formed, adding a little more flour if the dough is sticky.  Press the dough out on a pizza stone to form a round, approximately 10-12 inches in diameter.  Bake 10 minutes or until crust is just starting to turn golden.  While it is baking, gather toppings. 

Remove from oven and raise heat to 500 degrees.  Top pizza with sauce, cheese, and desired toppings.  Return to oven for 6-8 minutes, or until crust is well browned and cheese is thoroughly melted and just starting to brown at spots.  Remove from oven and allow to rest at least 3 minutes before cutting.

Those lying teabaggers, talking about rationing!

How dare they accuse us of planning rationing, when we really plan to ration with our eyes open!  From CNSNews:

President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which runs Medicare, is a strong supporter of the government-run health care system in Britain, who said in a 2009 interview about Comparative Effectiveness Research: “The decision is not whether or not we will ration care–the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.”  

The $787-billion stimulus law signed by President Obama created a Federal Coordinating council for Comparative Effectiveness research in health care that some critics argue was a step toward rationing of health care in the United States. 
Donald Berwick, a professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and the head of the non-profit Institute for Healthcare Improvement, was nominated by Obama on April 19, 2010.
In choosing Berwick, the Obama administration is implicitly admitting that the health care law passed by the Democrats in March will lead to the rationing of health care, said Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) in a May 19 press release.

But don’t worry, this system (of rationing) will be transparent:

Concerning Berwick’s 2009 comment about the rationing of health care, the White House released a statement to several news organizations in which spokesman Reid Cherlin said the following:
“No one is surprised that Republicans plan to use this confirmation process to trot out the same arguments and scare tactics they hoped would block health insurance reform. The fact is, rationing is rampant in the system today, as insurers make arbitrary decisions about who can get the care they need. Don Berwick wants to see a system in which those decisions are transparent– and that the people who make them are held accountable.”
The White House statement, according to Roberts, seemed to acknowledge that the new health care law would simply ration care in a transparent way.

And you know that you can trust that, based on the past history of the “most transparent  administration in history“!

Some Things Just Take a Special Kind of Crazy . . .

like moving in next to someone, in particular someone who doesn’t even hold any sort of public office, in order to dig up information to write a book on her

Of course, when that person is Sarah Palin, there’s simply no end to the special craziness out there.

Update: Special kind of crazy journalist fires back.  Hey, where do I get one of those buttons to unleash the Hounds of Hell?

Old People

are awesome

An 80-year-old Chicago man shot and killed an armed man who broke into his two-story house in a pre-dawn home invasion Wednesday on the city’s West Side.

At about 5:20 a.m., the homeowner and his wife, also in her 80s, discovered the intruder entering their home through a back door. The homeowner, who had a gun, confronted and killed the burglar on the doorstep, police said. Cops said the intruder also fired his gun during the struggle.

“It’s a good thing they had a gun, or they might be dead,” said Curtis Thompson, who lives next door to the couple, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Neighbors described the elderly couple, who both walk with canes, as pillars of the community in Garfield Park, where home invasions have been all too frequent.

Their neighbor, Shaquite Johnson, told MyFoxChicago that the two are “heroes” for fighting off the attacker — and that the shooting means there is “one less criminal” walking the streets.
“They don’t bother no one, so why would anyone do that to them?” she said.

One problem.  This old man, by owning the very gun that he used to protect his wife and home, may have violated Chicago’s handgun ban.  Keep your eyes on the Supreme Court for a decision on McDonald v. Chicago.

Supreme Court Justices are Just Like Us

Well, Justice Ginsburg does something that I do a lot, at least: (via 2parse)

I think back to the days when — I don’t know who it was — when I think Truman suggested the possibility of a woman as a justice. Someone said we have these conferences and men are talking to men and sometimes we loosen our ties, sometimes even take off our shoes. The notion was that they would be inhibited from doing that if women were around. I don’t know how many times I’ve kicked off my shoes. Including the time some reporter said something like, it took me a long time to get up from the bench. They worried, was I frail? To be truthful I had kicked off my shoes, and I couldn’t find my right shoe; it traveled way underneath

Since Justice Ginsburg is older than my grandmother, I guess I’m not likely to be thought of as frail for this, just weird.

The Root: Taking us into the deep, dark world of underground hair braiders

Illinois, having solved all of the more pressing issues in their state, is attempting to pass a law that would require that hair braiders be licensed. 

The bill, expected to be signed by the governor in coming weeks, will require existing hair braiders who have shown they have practiced their craft for at least two years to get a license for a fee. Going forward, those who are new to the industry will be able to obtain a license after 300 hours of training in braiding and creating intricate styles, as well as sanitation.Prior to the bill, hair braiders were subject to the more rigorous standards of traditional hair stylists, estheticians and barbers–who only can obtain a license after receiving a degree, taking up to 1,500 hours and costing $15,000. There are more than 60,000 cosmetologists in the state of Illinois.

But, don’t worry, the article gives us a lot of good reasons why it is necessary to hamper the ability of small business owners who are mostly African American women to practice their craft. 

Charemi Jones, an “occasional braid wearer,” has experienced it all when it comes to hair-related drama. The Chicago police officer’s hair has been braided so tight she had to take Ibuprofen to ease headaches. And once she had a braid rip away from her scalp while she was sleeping.

Now, I’m going to go ahead and take the article at its word when it says that this woman has “experienced it all” and interpret that to mean that she has experienced the worst problems that can occur from unlicensed hair braiding.  Headaches that required over the counter medication.  (If you got a headache, couldn’t you just, you know, take the braid out?)  Oh, and one time some of the hair fell out.  Which would be . . . annoying?  There’s more:

But most current and former braid wearers, who’ve faced everything from hair loss to just bad service, agree that something needs to be done to protect consumers.  “I’ve seen brushes full with someone else’s hair when I sat down in the chair for a blow dry; locks and braids falling off because they were twisted too tightly….

Again, with the “everything.”  Now, I’ve never had my hair professionally braided, so maybe it requires you to be, say, chained down in some irreversible way as soon as you walk into the shop, but I would think that if I experienced bad service or saw brushes full with someone else’s hair, I would leave. 

Also, as an aside, my sister is a school teacher, and she has a lot of students with these sorts of braided styles.  She says that, when their heads itch, they can’t scratch around the braids, so you see the girls just smack their heads periodically to stop the itching.  I’m sure they look super-cute doing that.