Tavis Smiley: President Obama not Doing Enough to Address Trayvon Martin Killing

Travis Smiley is one of the very few African-American leaders willing to criticize President Obama on his failure to address the issues that concern the black community. He is right in blasting the President for his weak response to the Trayvon Martin miscarriage of justice:

“I appreciate and applaud the fact that the president did finally show up,” Smiley said. “But this town has been spinning a story that’s not altogether true. He did not walk to the podium for an impromptu address to the nation. He was pushed to that podium. A week of protests outside the White House, pressure building on him inside the White House, pushed him to that podium.”

…“But when he left the podium, he still had not answered the most important question, that Kingian question, where do we go from here? That question this morning remains unanswered, at least from the perspective of the president. And the bottom line is, this is not Libya. This is America. On this issue, you cannot lead from behind. What’s lacking in this moment is moral leadership. The country is begging for it. They’re craving it.

“And I disagree with the president respectfully that politicians, elected officials, can’t occupy this space on race. Lincoln did, Truman did, Johnson did, President Obama did. He’s the right person in the right place at the right time, but he has to step into his moment.

…“I don’t know how the president argues that he doesn’t believe that he can have a role in leading us in a moral conversation,” Smiley said. “This is not a political issue. This is a moral issue. I don’t know how he can’t lead us in a conversation on this, but he can on gay marriage? He can on a litany of other—he can on Israel and Palestine, but not race?”

And the response to Tavis Smiley’s comments are predictable:

You know that Obama’s comments after the Trayvon Martin verdict were lame when several prominent Republicans/right wingers praised the President’s comments:


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Trayvon Martin Verdict is a Miscarriage of Justice

A USA Today editorial gets it right:

But somewhere between Martin’s death 17 months ago in a gated community near Orlando, Fla., and the verdict, the story line that matters the most largely got lost. It’s a tragically familiar story of snap judgments by strangers, racial profiling and a black teenager’s untimely death. And it’s the reason the trial attracted national attention and gavel-to-gavel coverage in the first place.

The verdict deserves to be respected. But the fact remains that Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer and cop wanna-be, instantly profiled Martin as a “(expletive) punk” who “looks like he’s up to no good.” The fact remains that Martin was doing nothing wrong; he was coming back from a snack run at a convenience store, heading for the house of his father’s girlfriend. And the fact remains that had Zimmerman stayed in his truck, as advised by the police, Martin would be alive today.

So far, despite this terrible injustice, protests have been mostly peaceful. We have to believe some good will come from this.

Has anyone heard from the President yet? Once again Obama waits to see which way the wind is blowing before commenting/acting on the important issues of the day. He has essentially been silent on racial injustice in America. We need leadership now. And Obama is unfit to provide that leadership.

At least some in Congress are speaking out.

This is an example of a positive response:

NAACP website crashes : 100,000 sign Trayvon Martin petition

The NAACP has vowed to seek civil rights charges against Zimmerman. The ball is in your court, Mr.Obama.

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Former Obama Campaign Staffers Protest Keystone XL Pipeline

Probably another example of idealistic supporters of Obama that realize that he was not one of them. Sadly there are still many millions of Americans who mistakenly continue to believe this President was sincere in the things he said on the campaign trail:

Elijah Zarlin, who worked as a senior email writer at Obama campaign headquarters in 2008, was back in Chicago yesterday—in the First Precinct jail, following a peaceful sit-in in protest of the Keystone XL pipeline.

“It felt strange,” Zarlin said, “to be getting arrested in order to send a message to the President that he needs to make good on his commitment to fight climate change.”

Twenty-two people were detained in front of the Metcalfe Federal Building, where the State Department keeps an office. Protestors ranged in age from a high school student to a grandfather. Many wore t-shirts that read, “If Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will,” a pledge on climate change that Obama made during this year’s State of the Union address.

But action has yet to materialize, and supporters are getting impatient. “The President has said over and over that he wants to do something big on climate,” said Andrew Nazdin, 24, who worked as a deputy training instructor for OFA in Virginia in 2012 and protested yesterday. “The President has a tremendous opportunity to reject this pipeline, since the decision sits with him. But we are going to need to continue to push him.”

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Obama DOJ formally accuses journalist in leak case of committing crimes

It is now well known that the Obama justice department has prosecuted more government leakers under the 1917 Espionage Act than all prior administrations combined – in fact, double the number of all such prior prosecutions. But as last week’s controversy over the DOJ’s pursuit of the phone records of AP reporters illustrated, this obsessive fixation in defense of secrecy also targets, and severely damages, journalists specifically and the newsgathering process in general.

New revelations emerged yesterday in the Washington Post that are perhaps the most extreme yet when it comes to the DOJ’s attacks on press freedoms. It involves the prosecution of State Department adviser Stephen Kim, a naturalized citizen from South Korea who was indicted in 2009 for allegedly telling Fox News’ chief Washington correspondent, James Rosen, that US intelligence believed North Korea would respond to additional UN sanctions with more nuclear tests – something Rosen then reported. Kim did not obtain unauthorized access to classified information, nor steal documents, nor sell secrets, nor pass them to an enemy of the US. Instead, the DOJ alleges that he merely communicated this innocuous information to a journalist – something done every day in Washington – and, for that, this arms expert and long-time government employee faces more than a decade in prison for “espionage”.

via Obama DOJ formally accuses journalist in leak case of committing crimes | Glenn Greenwald | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk.

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The Obamas Live the 1 percent Life

But something remarkable has happened with these occupants of the White House: Neither President Obama nor first lady Michelle appear to give a damn about perception. They won the White House and, by God, they’re going to enjoy their time there, no matter the cost. And who cares what you think, anyway?

How else to explain the nonstop vacations the pair keep taking during what Mr. Obama calls the “worst financial crisis since the Great Depression”? In 2013, the First Family has already enjoyed three vacations — that’s one a month. (Sorry, Joe America, you might have to forget your week at the beach again this year, but make sure you get those taxes in on time!)

The Obamas ended 2012 and kicked off 2013 in an $8 million, 6,000-square-foot house in Hawaii (they left well before Dec. 25, by the way). There, the president played five rounds of golf (breaking the 100-rounds-as-president threshold). Scarcely a month into Term 2, Mrs. Obama headed off for Aspen, taking along the couple’s daughters. Vice President Joseph R. Biden also hit the Colorado slopes. While the girls (and Joe) were gone, Mr. Obama nipped down to Florida for a four-day boys weekend of golf, teeing it up with his buddies — and Tiger Woods. He hit the links again this weekend, then dropped in for an NCAA tournament game in Washington.

via CURL: The Obamas live the 1 percent life – Washington Times.

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Obama's New Rapprochement with Republicans Won't Work

The President has finally acknowledged criticism that he is too aloof; that he needs to talk to Congressional Republicans. The problem is that it’s too little too late. Besides, he doesn’t know how to do it. Obama is a political lightweight who’s only talent is campaigning and giving speeches. And this is why Republicans don’t respect the President (and it ain’t just race). As a result, they won’t deal with him.

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Robert Gibbs Told Not To Acknowledge Drone Program Exists As White House Press Secretary

Former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Sunday that he was told not to “acknowledge” or “discuss” the secret drone program when becoming the government’s top spokesman.

Chris Hayes, host of MSNBC’s “Up,” played a video clip of Gibbs and current press secretary Jay Carney dodging questions about drones in the White House briefing room before asking if the Obama administration has been sufficiently forthcoming about the controversial targeted killing program. Gibbs, who recently became an MSNBC contributor, recalled the instructions he was given upon taking the job.

“When I went through the process of becoming press secretary,” Gibbs said, “one of the things, one of the first things they told me was, ‘You’re not even to acknowledge the drone program. You’re not even to discuss that it exists.’”

via Robert Gibbs Told Not To Acknowledge Drone Program Exists As White House Press Secretary.

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Obama Job Approval Rating Drops Below 50 Pecent


President Obama has a split 46 – 45 percent job approval, according to the independent Quinnipiac (KWUIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll, down from 53 – 40 percent approval among registered voters in December, a month after his re-election. Today’s figure is closer to the president’s negative 45 – 49 percent job approval in July, in the middle of his reelection campaign, and similar to his job score for much of his first term.

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Will Obama the Constitutional Lawyer Please Stand Up?

Source: Nation:

Obama behaves like a centrist who leans tentatively left on certain social programs but boldly right on military force and civil liberties. His supporters, who have watched him duplicate and codify some of the Bush administration’s most damaging civil liberties violations, are now reduced to wishful thinking that an authentic Obama will soon step forward and return the country to the constitutional footing that was abandoned after 9/11.

Source: Nation.com

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David Ignatius on Obama's Inaugural Address: "A flat, Partisan and Pedestrian Speech"

Source: David Ignatius, Washington Post:

…but the speech lacked the unifying or transcendent ideas that could help Obama do much more than continue the Washington version of trench warfare during his second term. If you were hoping that the president would set the stage for a grand bargain to restructure America’s entitlement programs and fiscal health for the 21st century, you wouldn’t have found much encouragement.

Missing from the speech was the first inaugural address’s perhaps naïve dream of uniting America. This second speech seemed to accept that America is divided and, as Obama put it, “progress does not compel us to settle centuries long debates about the role of government for all time.” He called out those who would “treat name-calling as reasoned debate”—I wonder who that could mean?—but Obama’s plan seemed to be to roll the negativists, rather than try any longer to reason with them.

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Obama grants himself lifetime Secret Service protection

How convenient. He promised “change” but has given us more of the same. Here we have an example of another politician who’s taken office for selfish reasons. Being a politician nowadays carries with it lots of perks—even when they leave office:

President Obama on Thursday signed a bill granting him — along with George W. Bush and future ex-presidents — lifetime Secret Service protection, reversing a 1990s law that limited post-presidency security.

The Former Presidents Protection Act of 2012 restores lifetime protection for presidents and spouses who served after Jan. 1, 1997, and gives the children of former presidents protection until age 16.

The existing law, passed by Congress in 1994, ended protection for former presidents a decade after leaving office. But members of Congress and law enforcement officials had since come to see lifetime protection as more necessary as global threats have grown.

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Brennan Nomination Proves Obama is Bush-lite

The fawning liberal press has conveniently played down Obama’s Bush-like foreign policy for 4 years. Now he has nominated Bush’s torturer, John Brennan. Once again the President has slapped his supporters in the face:

In White House councils, John Brennan has been privy to the most secret U.S. intelligence programs. Outwardly, he has been the administration’s most public defender of one of President Barack Obama’s most controversial practices — the expanded use of armed drone aircraft to kill terrorism suspects overseas.

This is the second time that Obama has sought to put Brennan at the helm of the CIA, and his confirmation process is likely to revisit old controversies over U.S. counterterrorism measures undertaken by the administrations of Obama and George W. Bush.

Brennan, a 25-year CIA veteran, withdrew his name from consideration as Obama’s first director of the agency in November 2008 following liberals’ criticism that he had done too little to condemn the use by the Bush administration of interrogation techniques such as waterboarding, widely considered torture.

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Obama vs. physics: Why climate change won’t wait for the president

Obama vs. physics: Why climate change won’t wait for the president

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Obama Orders Pay Raise For Congress, Federal Workers, Joe Biden

The Congress and President can’t agree on preventing the fiscal cliff, which could have a disastrous impact on our country. But Obama could find the money to increase the pay of people who refuse to their job. When it comes to the people he represents, the President won’t propose an increase in the minimum wage–which hasn’t gone up since Bush. Is this what we get for re-electing you? Is this our Christmas gift?

President Barack Obama gave a New Year’s gift to returning members of Congress,

federal workers and Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday, signing an executive order calling for an end to a years-long pay freeze.

As of March 27, 2013, federal employees will see a half-percent to one percent pay

increase, marking the end of a pay freeze that has been in place since late 2010. Congress hasn’t seen a pay raise since 2009.

According to the order, Biden’s pay will increase from $225,521 to $231,900 a year, before taxes. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) will see his salary increased to

$224,500 and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will take home an annual pay of $194,400 after his raise.

via Obama Orders Pay Raise For Congress, Federal Workers, Joe Biden.

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