The Origins of Barack Obama’s Madness

In the twilight of President Obama’s term, I’ve been vaguely worried he might have a surprise or two up his sleeve. Not so much flowers and tax relief. More like one last black eye from your soon-to-be-ex. A parting gift, if you will. I’m sorry to be proven right. I’m even sorrier I underestimated the extent of his hijinx.

With the final weeks of this president’s term winding down, each frigid day is punctuated with a string of ill-advised statements and poorly-thought-out actions, courtesy of the Obama administration. I want to share a key point about Barack Obama first, to give you an idea of what is driving him. It doesn’t make his actions any wiser but it’s good to know:

As the US and our allies watch uneasily, the outgoing president has stepped up his already infamous use of executive actions, to take increasingly serious steps, some with global consequences, without the advice or consent of anyone. Who needs other perspectives? The official term for this phenomena is midnight regulations, or laws created unilaterally by an outgoing president. Maybe these regulations are called “midnight” because the concept won’t bear close inspection. Too much examination would be sure to outlaw them.

Nostalgia has set in, and Obama can’t resist returning to his favorite character: the finger-wagging moralist lecturing the masses on ‘the right thing to do’. Midnight regulations are the perfect complement to executive actions, lest any skeptical person think they are at liberty to determine for themselves what the right thing to do is.

Obama

The president is stretching these regulations far beyond their limits. Why? The GOP leadership created a lot of unnecessary hostility between themselves and the president; they treated Obama shabbily, swearing to vote down anything the Democrats advanced, which is just ridiculous.

You can’t blame him for feeling angry at this unfair treatment but when they went low, Obama went even lower. He didn’t make an extra effort to gain allies in Congress as every other president has. Instead, Obama simply cut Congress out of the process, using executive action to pass whatever he wanted and saying bluntly, “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone.”

Because of the friction with Congress, the majority of President Obama’s important actions, including the Affordable Care Act (ACA), i.e., Obamacare, were passed through executive action. Note: a small piece of the ACA did go to Congress, but the majority was passed via executive action, under a very broad umbrella of budgeting legislation. Because stuff costs money, right? Trillions, in this case.

The Heart of the Issue

The founders were very clear about the separation of powers, and passing law through Congress, as prescribed in the Constitution. To safeguard the country against a president ruling like a king through executive orders (much as the president has done), there is a clause: anything passed by executive action can be repealed by executive action.

Everything important Obama did as president was via executive action. President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to repeal all of Obama’s executive orders.

It's me again!

It’s me again!

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‘Tis the Season to Judge Recent First Ladies

The long Obama farewell had begun. Donald Trump will be inaugurated one month from today. I saw a clip of Oprah’s interview with Michelle Obama about the transition, and the First Lady said something to the effect of, “This is what it’s like not to have hope.” On the day the Trumps move in, will the Obamas ceremonially hand them the keys? If so, I bet this clip will make things a bit awkward.

So here is my Christmas gift to you – a prediction of the Donald Trump/Michelle Obama interaction:

  • Donald Trump (sniffing): “Hey Michelle, we caught your interview on Oprah. I will tell you this: I’m good on TV. Everyone knows it, everyone says it. I’m great on TV. I’m terrific. You are not so great, and you showed up like a rookie, like someone wandering into Hollywood for the first time, okay? That’s what you did. How about we have a little decorum, okay? Can we have a little of that? Thanks a lot, Loser Michelle! That’s going to be your nickname, Loser Michelle.”
  • Michelle Obama (smiling brightly): “Oh, you caught my interview? I’m so glad you caught it. I was hoping you would catch it! Because I want to thank you for killing all my hope, until not a single ray of sunshine is left to say, ‘Michelle, don’t worry. It’s going to be okay.’ Because it won’t be, and that’s because of you. And yeah, I know my interview in the White House with Oprah was not as great as your Current Affairs interview on a bus with Billy Bush. Why don’t you go back to being a Prima Donna? Prima Donald, that’s your nickname.”
  • Melania Trump (stares right through them with icy cat eyes, says nothing)

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Smug CNN Anchor is a Disaster

CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota moderated a panel of Trump supporters, and it’s the weirdest thing ever.

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen a moderator go out of their way to treat their own guests rudely, but usually the guest is an expert they dislike. It is unusual to be rude to guests who are only there to share their personal opinions.

Take a moment to watch, if you dare, and keep in mind that the purpose of her panel is to interview the same people repeatedly over a long period of time to observe how, why, and when their opinions change. Alisyn’s role is to listen and look for insight about what influences them.

You see, Alisyn is not observing and reporting on the opinions of her guests. She’s there to expose their opinions, discredit them, and hold these people up as an example of how poorly informed one must be to be a Trump supporter.

I hope you don’t mind, but I’m just going to refer to Alisyn as “A.” for the rest of the post. I just don’t have the energy for the bizarre spelling tonight.

Anyway, let’s take a look at the fascinating 4-part technique demonstrated in the video:

  1. A. seems anxious that her viewers have no doubt about her deep aversion to her guests. She is too refined to just blurt out, “Aren’t they gross?”, so she is forced to convey her disapproval of these animals via a series of contorted facial expressions and exaggerated gestures.
  2. She begins the discussion by acknowledging a change has taken place – but it’s more like an accusation that they’ve changed their minds. The guests are there for the express purpose of discussing how their opinions have changed, so it’s an interesting approach.
  3. A. zooms in on one guest and starts to challenge her personal opinion. She hastens to remind the woman that her opinion has changed. The woman says her views were altered by new information. A. demands to know where this information came from.
  4. A. pulls out her cell phone to look up the article the woman mentioned, intent on debunking the story or possibly fact-checking the guest’s opinion. Even allowing for a non-traditional approach,  I’m sure it isn’t normal to whip our your cell and Google something to rebut the person you’re interviewing. This was one of the most unprofessional things I’ve seen an anchor do on air. After glancing at the title, A. snorts and pushes her phone aside, explaining she won’t waste time reading because she knows where it’s from.

A.’s triumphant expression shows us she considers this an unqualified success, but…  Oh, why must I always find fault with the media?

If her role was to be civil, ask one or two insightful questions, and spend the rest of the time listening, A. failed.

If A.’s role was to use morally, logically superior views to help her guests recognize their own ignorance and to applaud as she debunked an obviously fake story, she still failed.

It isn’t as though A. demonstrated critical thinking skills, provided a compelling analysis, or offered up a really credible source to debunk this article. She just announced it was fake because it is. At least the other woman could cite an article which gave her some credibility that A. completely lacked. Yes, the story the guest cited was untrue. But what stood out in the segment were A’s embarrassing manners and complete absence of self-awareness. So much so that I, Ruby Lee, avowed hater of the mainstream media, felt an unexpected pang of pity for A., as she exposed her incompetence again and again.

Maybe one day A. will see this clip and be overcome with embarrassment. More likely, she will not modify her behavior whatsoever. Her doctrine seems to be that changing one’s opinion based on new data, observations, and evidence is for the weak.

Still, it was weirdly fascinating to see a CNN anchor so thoroughly miss the point of her own panel and attempt to use it as a platform to discredit her own guest – who is a private citizen – because she did not share A.’s opinion. That wouldn’t even fly on Public Access tv.