President Obama's Press Conference

I watched just the tail end of President Obama's press conference last night but have read the full transcript this morning and want to start by saying that, on paper, Obama's performance was brilliant. His command of the facts, the policies and concerns of the American People demonstrate why his approval ratings right now are so high and why I still have very high hopes for his Presidency. I noticed much less deference from the President for the Masters of the Universe of Wall Street. Perhaps the President has gotten tired of hearing their excuses, whining and dissembling. Perhaps the stress tests have opened his eyes. I get the feeling the Geithner's rope has been shortened on these matters. But actions will speak louder than words. More . .

There are two answers from the President last night that merit more discussion. First the President was asked about hos position on a woman's right to choose. I found his answer thoughtful and helpful, with flaws of course:

[ED HENRY, CNN]: Thank you, Mr. President. In a couple of weeks, you're going to be giving the commencement at Notre Dame. And, as you know, this has caused a lot of controversy among Catholics who are opposed to your position on abortion. As a candidate, you vowed that one of the very things you wanted to do was sign the Freedom of Choice Act, which, as you know, would eliminate federal, state and local restrictions on abortion. And at one point in the campaign when asked about abortion and life, you said that it was above -- quote, "above my pay grade."

Now that you've been president for 100 days, obviously, your pay grade is a little higher than when you were a senator. Do you still hope that Congress quickly sends you the Freedom of Choice Act so you can sign it?

OBAMA: You know, the -- my view on -- on abortion, I think, has been very consistent. I think abortion is a moral issue and an ethical issue. I think that those who are pro-choice make a mistake when they -- if they suggest -- and I don't want to create straw men here, but I think there are some who suggest that this is simply an issue about women's freedom and that there's no other considerations. I think, look, this is an issue that people have to wrestle with and families and individual women have to wrestle with.

The reason I'm pro-choice is because I don't think women take that -- that position casually. I think that they struggle with these decisions each and every day. And I think they are in a better position to make these decisions ultimately than members of Congress or a president of the United States, in consultation with their families, with their doctors, with their doctors, with their clergy.

So -- so that has been my consistent position. The other thing that I said consistently during the campaign is I would like to reduce the number of unwanted presidencies that result in women feeling compelled to get an abortion, or at least considering getting an abortion, particularly if we can reduce the number of teen pregnancies, which has started to spike up again. And so I've got a task force within the Domestic Policy Council in the West Wing of the White House that is working with groups both in the pro-choice camp and in the pro-life camp, to see if we can arrive at some consensus on that.

Now, the Freedom of Choice Act is not highest legislative priority. I believe that women should have the right to choose. But I think that the most important thing we can do to tamp down some of the anger surrounding this issue is to focus on those areas that we can agree on. And that's -- that's where I'm going to focus.

(Emphasis supplied.) Now there is a lot there that can and probably should anger women and pro-choice groups. The adoption, as the President himself admitted, of Lord Saletan's strawman about immoral women not taking care to avoid unwanted pregnancies (with men apparently an unrelated factor) was offesnive. But the President shoots down his own strawman, stating unequivocally that "[t]he reason I'm pro-choice is because I don't think women take that -- that position casually. I think that they struggle with these decisions each and every day. And I think they are in a better position to make these decisions ultimately than members of Congress or a president of the United States . . ." Of course, after my ellipse, the President treats women condescendingly, assuming they need consultation with their doctors or spouses or family. He seems unable to state what is true - it is a woman's decision, not only whether to take a pregnancy to term, but also whether they should consult with ANYBODY about that decision. To be honest, their is more than the touch of the patriarch in the President. He should work hard on checking that impulse.

His proposal to reduce unwanted pregnancies (also known as birth control) is a welcome one for pro-choicers. It is also a Trojan Horse for anti-choicers. They oppose family planning. The obtuse William Saletan has never understood this and makes a fool of himself periodically on the issue. No doubt he has a column today praising Obama for this "new position" for progressives. It is not new, but it is meritorious. It will not bridge the "ideological divide" as Obama says, nor frankly, do I expect he thinks it will. But it is good politics for him.

The other area worth noting separately is this passage:

[Michael Scherer of TIME]: Thank you, Mr. President. During the campaign, you criticized President Bush's use of the state secrets privilege, but U.S. attorneys have continued to argue the Bush position in three cases in court. How exactly does your view of state secrets differ from President Bush's? And do you believe presidents should be able to derail entire lawsuits about warrantless wiretapping or rendition if classified information is involved?

OBAMA: I actually think that the state secret doctrine should be modified. I think right now it's overbroad. But keep in mind what happens, is we come in to office. We're in for a week, and suddenly we've got a court filing that's coming up. And so we don't have the time to effectively think through, what exactly should an overarching reform of that doctrine take? We've got to respond to the immediate case in front of us.

There -- I think it is appropriate to say that there are going to be cases in which national security interests are genuinely at stake and that you can't litigate without revealing covert activities or classified information that would genuinely compromise our safety. But searching for ways to redact, to carve out certain cases, to see what can be done so that a judge in chambers can review information without it being in open court, you know, there should be some additional tools so that it's not such a blunt instrument.

And we're interested in pursuing that. I know that Eric Holder and Greg Craig, my White House counsel, and others are working on that as we speak.

First, Obama's excuses for the adoption of the Bush state secrets doctrine by his Justice Department was pure unadulterated bullspit. It was a bald faced lie. But pols are pols, and do what they do. The more important point is that the President of the United States has now embraced, in essence, the proposed legislation limiting the states secrets doctrine (and also embraced the reasoning in the recent 9th Circuit decision in the Jeppesen Dataplan rendition case that Jeralyn and I have written much about. To that end, the NYTimes writes today:

The unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reinstated a civil lawsuit brought against a government contractor by five victims of the extraordinary rendition program, under which foreigners were kidnapped and flown to other countries for interrogation and torture. The panel said the government can ask a judge to decide on a case-by-case basis whether disclosing particular evidence would jeopardize national security. But it recognized the affront to civil liberties and the constitutional separation of powers in the Justice Department’s argument that the executive branch is entitled to have lawsuits shut down whenever an official makes a blanket claim of national security. Michael Hayden, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency did that, quite unconvincingly, in this case.

“According to the government’s theory, the judiciary should effectively cordon off all secret actions from judicial scrutiny, immunizing the C.I.A. and its partners from the demands and limits of the law,” Judge Michael Hawkins said in the opinion. Doing so, Judge Hawkins said, would “perversely encourage the president to classify politically embarrassing information simply to place it beyond the reach of the judicial process.”

Judge Hawkins demolished the government’s underlying proposition that facts known and discussed throughout the world can be treated as state secrets in a United States court. He likened it to upholding a secrecy claim regarding the Pentagon Papers after their publication by this newspaper because the government refused to declassify them. The decision’s overall effect is to trim the state secrets privilege back to proper size. It was meant to be an evidentiary rule that triggers court review of whether disclosing specific documents would jeopardize national security, not a mandate to judges to dismiss entire cases.

The ruling is an opportunity for Attorney General Eric Holder to rethink the administration’s position on the abusive use of the state-secrets privilege. Instead of appealing, and seeking to deny rendition victims the legal process required by justice and treaty obligations, Mr. Holder and the White House should be encouraging Congress to pass the State Secrets Protection Act pending in the Senate. The measure would protect legitimate secrets without undue compromise of people’s rights by establishing uniform rules for handling claims of state secrets, similar to the wise regimen set forth in the new decision.

(Emphasis supplied.) If President Obama is true to his word last night, that is precisely what he will do. A promise made and a promise that should be kept. But, again, actions speak louder than words.

Speaking for me only

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    I agree (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by JThomas on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 07:46:47 AM EST
    that the President once again showed a command of the issues of the day that is impressive.
    He seems more comfortable every time he is out there doing this, and even had them laughing on the 4 part NY Times question.

    I watched O'Reilly afterwards and he had a procession of right-wingers who are clearly frustrated that the President is polling so well and continues to leave them few openings for attacking him.
    Dick Morris complained that he is having too many PC's and that the networks are covering them...LOL.

    Obama's (5.00 / 3) (#6)
    by Ga6thDem on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 08:08:44 AM EST
    statements on the choice issue are circular it seems like on many other issues. He starts at the beginning, goes around and then comes back full circle and leaving you wondering what he meant on an issue. I guess he must've missed the KISS lectures in law school. He sounds like he's talking about a sociology experiment.

    In that issue (5.00 / 4) (#9)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 08:09:53 AM EST
    it is purposeful and dismaying.

    He is clearly pro choice from a policy perspective, but likes to confuse people about that fact.


    Well (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by Ga6thDem on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 08:13:53 AM EST
    I think he's been pretty confusing on the torture issue too and I'm not quite sure where he is on some other issues either. IMO, you have to watch what he does not what he says. Personally, I think he's too afraid of evangelicals to actually state clearly what he believes on this issue.

    I'm not so convinced of that he is (5.00 / 3) (#31)
    by sj on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:14:42 AM EST
    I think he's not terribly opposed to choice -- as long as the little lady doesn't make the choice all by her lonesome.

    You're dead on when you say there

    is more than the touch of the patriarch in the President

    That whole consult-with-your-clergyman thing made more sense when I read that he felt he had to meet and approve a prospective employer before his fiance, Michelle, could accept a job offer.

    Personally?  It kind of creeps me out.  I don't care how "strong" Michelle is. This is about him.  And how he relates to women and women's issues.  


    I don't (5.00 / 5) (#39)
    by indy in sc on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:36:15 AM EST
    read that line about the consultation that way.  I keep hearing how insulting it is that he always says that women make this choice in consultation with their families, physicians, clergy, etc.  I have never understood it to mean that women have to consult these groups in making the decision.  I see it more as an acknowledgement that such a decision is often not made alone and that some or all of these groups of people are often consulted.  

    You could be right (5.00 / 4) (#53)
    by sj on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:15:15 AM EST
    But I've never read it your way: as an acknowledgement of people who could be consulted.  I think that's probably because the consultation thing is always brought up whenever the issue mentioned.  I know when I'm feeling backed into a corner.

    However, if you can find a discussion where he does not emphasize a woman's consultation before her decision my mind would be greatly eased.


    I agree (5.00 / 1) (#60)
    by Natal on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 12:44:38 PM EST
    with your interpretation. Isn't he basically saying that if you're not in one of these groups that a woman may want to consult then butt out. It's none of your business.

    Moreover... (5.00 / 1) (#66)
    by Thanin on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 01:28:08 PM EST
    not all physicians and clergy are men.

    I don't think so. (5.00 / 3) (#70)
    by Dr Molly on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 01:54:08 PM EST
    There is a major dog-whistle here in my opinion that plays into the whole anti-choice crowd who insist on parental consent, father's consent, etc.

    technically... (none / 0) (#73)
    by Salo on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 02:07:45 PM EST
    ...you do have to consult a clinic--a nurse and a doctor and perhaps also your insurance provider?

    There's a difference between (5.00 / 4) (#75)
    by Anne on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 02:32:24 PM EST
    making an appointment for a procedure which entails the services of a medical facility and related medical personnel, and seeking the advice and counsel of medical personnel about whether to have that procedure.

    But, maybe you were being facetious?

    How each woman decides to handle whatever it is she is faced with should be her call.


    Actually happened....... (5.00 / 1) (#63)
    by samsguy18 on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 12:54:06 PM EST
    The prospective employer was Valerie Jarrett.

    So? (none / 0) (#65)
    by jnicola on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 01:20:18 PM EST
    She was part of a couple; wherever possible couples should discuss important matters - like whether a prospective job/boss is going to be decent - and ideally they should both approve an important decision which will affect both of them before it's taken. This would only be a problem if he hadn't submitted, say, his desire to run for the US Senate to here for approval and agreement. He did.

    No one suggested that the two (5.00 / 6) (#67)
    by Anne on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 01:29:50 PM EST
    shouldn't discuss the job offer, but to tell a prospective employer that you can't accept the job until your fiance meets with the employer first?  Not only do I have a problem with the fact that he imposed that condition on Michelle, but I have a problem with her going along with it.

    Kind of puts the she's-a-strong-woman-who-knows-her-own-mind thing in a whole other light, doesn't it?

    It just flat-out gave me the creeps.


    Frankly (5.00 / 3) (#72)
    by CST on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 02:03:35 PM EST
    This argument sounds kinda like the one that people used to blame Hillary for staying with Bill.

    It's a personal choice between the couple.  If she's okay with it that's her perogative and not for us to judge.  I personally would not make that same choice, just like I personally would not have stayed with Bill.  But I do not judge others for how they handle relations with their spouses.  It is never as black and white as it seems from the outside.


    Sorry - what I should have said is (4.00 / 3) (#77)
    by Anne on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 02:35:56 PM EST
    that while I found the requirement to be somewhat bizarre and out-of-the-ordinary, and totally creepy, it was also totally their choice to make.

    It does, however say something - to me, anyway - about Obama's feelings about women, and it's not something good.


    Hmm (none / 0) (#120)
    by sleepingdogs on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 09:00:16 PM EST
    I agree no one should judge what goes on in doctor's office or a marriage.  But, I see Hillary choosing to stay with Bill as one spouse deciding to forgive a transgression and stay with the other.  I see Barack meeting Michelle's propective employer, whether she invited him or he invited himself, as a different situation completely.  And they were not married.  But I won't judge.  They are not the same. At. All.  Don't pretend they are.  

    As a couple, they shouldn't (5.00 / 1) (#76)
    by jnicola on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 02:35:07 PM EST
    merely discuss it; they should agree it. And it seems perfectly reasonable that, to come to a decision on what he should advise his fiancee, he wanted to meet the person for whom Michelle would be working. The job Michelle was going for was specifically to act as Jarrett's deputy. It was a deeply political role, and you might agree that Jarrett's boss had, um, certain interesting aspects as a politician. He was more politically involved than Michelle was at the time, and it made absolute sense that, when considering taking a political job, she should ask him for his advice, and that he should want to meet Jarrett to get an idea of what she'd provide for Michelle. The quote I note from that story is that 'My fiance wants to know who is going to be looking out for me and making sure that I thrive'. This was Chicago; the Daley machine. Personal relationships and individual personalities mattered, particularly to someone who was going for a job relatively far down the food chain, and giving up a safe corporate job to do so.

    You might also want to note that most accounts suggest that the suggestion they all meet came from Michelle, and insofar as it needed imposing, which I don't think was very far, she imposed it. (And clearly Jarrett, who isn't exactly shy and retiring, thought it was absolutely OK.) Indeed, she explains it pretty much the same way.

    What did surprise me, though, when I spoke with Valerie Jarrett, was a story she told me about how she first met Obama. Many years ago, in Chicago, Michelle Obama (then Michelle Robinson) interviewed with Jarrett for a position in Mayor Daley's office, and Jarrett, much impressed, immediately offered her the job. Shortly afterward, Michelle called Jarrett and said that her fiancé wanted to meet Jarrett before Michelle accepted the job. When Jarrett told me that, I was taken aback--it sounded like a case of extraordinary and irritating paternalism on Obama's part, to insist on vetting his future wife's boss. But Jarrett assured me that it wasn't like that: Obama had worked as a community organizer in Chicago for three years, and Michelle had decided that, before she signed on to work with a mayor she didn't know much about (he had only recently taken office), she wanted Obama to help her assess whether she'd regret the association.

    I'd tend to trust the New Yorker fact checkers on something like this. Either way, though, I think it's perfectly fine. I wouldn't if there was a suggestion that she shouldn't consent when he takes decisions in his life of equal importance to them as a couple or as a family; I'm not aware of any suggestions that that is the case, and he has explicitly stated that her explicit agreement was a precursor to him running for the Senate.


    Strongly disagree (5.00 / 3) (#89)
    by sj on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 03:57:55 PM EST
    As a couple, they shouldn't merely discuss it; they should agree it.

    That attitude has kept many a wife under the thumb of an abusive spouse.  Because all he has to do is never agree to anything that empowers her or gives her a measure of independence.

    This is a general statement and  not specific to the matter under discussion.  Definitely not implying that Michelle Obama is an abused wife.


    Sorry (none / 0) (#96)
    by jnicola on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 04:53:08 PM EST
    I should have clarified the corollary: if a couple can't agree on important decisions that will affect them both, then they should separate.

    As someone who has been married for (none / 0) (#98)
    by Anne on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 05:11:34 PM EST
    nearly 30 years, I agree that it certainly is important to be of like mind on a lot of issues - but many of them are things one ought to know about before one gets married.

    That being said, a good marriage is one of give and take; there will always be things that are important to both parties, and they may be on opposite sides of those issues, but part of being in a relationship is working those things out to mutual satisfaction, and hopefully, it won't be the same one who is always doing the giving while the other one does all the taking.

    The deal-breaker issues?  Best to settle them before marriage.


    Glad to agree with this. (none / 0) (#100)
    by jnicola on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 05:15:36 PM EST
    But did Michelle insist on meeting (4.40 / 5) (#79)
    by Anne on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 02:45:14 PM EST
    every member of the Senate so she could assess whether he would regret his decision?

    The passage you cited doesn't help much; the woman was a well-regarded lawyer for crying out loud, and the story that is related makes her sound utterly incapable.  Are we supposed to believe that Michelle couldn't have found out what she needed to know without having her oh-so-smart fiance make an assessment based on a face-to-face meeting?

    That just defies understanding.


    A well regarded lawyer? (5.00 / 2) (#82)
    by jnicola on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 02:58:17 PM EST
    She was a 26 year old junior associate in IP law at that point; she'd been in that job - her first job - for three years. Hardly long enough to build up much of a reputation. I agree she was (and is) smart; and like most smart people she likes to get advice before she takes a decision - particularly when it comes to a field someone she trusts is more expert in than her.

    And a face to face meeting, in as informal an environment as possible, is one of the least inadequate ways of judging relatively quickly whether you can trust someone.


    Yes - "lawyer" is what they call you (4.00 / 3) (#84)
    by Anne on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 03:37:35 PM EST
    when you graduate from law school - Harvard Law School (Princeton undergrad) - and pass the bar.  That she was a 3rd year associate means what, exactly?  That she wasn't a real lawyer?

    This seems to show Michelle as just how I described her, and also dispels the notion that she was some sort of legal wallflower:

    Today, the NLJ takes a stab at fleshing out Michelle's three years at Sidley Austin, prior to joining the office of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. "What she learned at Harvard Law School and Sidley Austin has served her well in all of the judgments she has had to make as an administrator and a manager," said Charles Ogletree, a Harvard law prof who came to know Obama as a faculty adviser to the Black Law Students Association.

    According to the NLJ, she joined Sidley as part of the marketing and intellectual property practice group, handling transactional, antitrust and other matters. She worked on teams that represented AT&T in its 1990 hostile takeover bid for NCR, and Union Carbide in its 1990 legal fight to complete a sale of a chemical business unit to Arco over FTC opposition.

    When the Arco matter went to trial in Washington, Obama and other Sidley colleagues moved to D.C. to prepare the case, which settled shortly after trial began. Nate Eimer, a former Sidley partner who worked on the case, told the NLJ that Obama -- who went by Michelle Robinson when she was at the firm -- made a "very positive impression" on Union Carbide's counsel, a man who was often critical of attorneys. "She stood out from the average associate. She reserved her comment before she was sure of what she wanted to say. Her analysis was clear and precise."

    She was and is entitled to all the advice she needed, and how she and her fiance chose to go about that process was their decision.

    And I'm still entitled to think it was creepy.


    That she was a third year associate (5.00 / 1) (#99)
    by jnicola on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 05:13:07 PM EST
    is relevant only in challenging the comment that she was such a 'well regarded lawyer' and that the statement I cited - from one of the only three people who were actually there - made Michelle, in your words, sound 'utterly incapable', and, as such, that it was a story which 'defies understanding'.

    I find it perfectly understandable that a not exceptionally experienced, 26 year old lawyer, three years out of law school, when considering taking a politically sensitive job, outside her area of expertise, in which she would be dependent for her continued employment on the whims of people she did not know, in a political environment that has been famed for its dysfunction for many years, should seek the advice of someone she trusted who was somewhat more experienced in the field she was entering than she had been. Indeed, the only thing that surprises me was that a 26 year old should be so sensible, but - it's Michelle Obama, and that she was that sensible is somehow less surprising.

    You're entitled to think it was creepy, absolutely; but you said that he 'imposed that condition on her, and that she went along with it'. And I don't understand how it can be asserted that it was Barack Obama's initative, as opposed to Michelle's, when this has been flatly contradicted by one of the three participants - absent any better evidence to the contrary.


    How many adults do you know who (5.00 / 2) (#105)
    by Anne on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 05:40:13 PM EST
    have made the approval to accept a job contingent upon a spouse, significant other or parent having a face-to-face meeting with that potential employer?

    Even a fresh-out-of-college graduate does not make bring Mommy or Daddy in to meet Mr. or Ms. Boss before taking the job.

    Discuss, sure.  Argue the merits of take it or don't take it?  A must.

    I work in a regional, mid-sized law firm and I know and have worked with many third-year associates; they are not babies - they are bright, ambitious, and scary-smart and the last thing any of them would want a partner or possible potential employer to think about them is that they were so unsure of themselves that they would need to bring a fiance, spouse or trusted friend in to meet the potential boss and give a thumbs-up.

    It doesn't matter who set the condition.  If he did it, I can't figure out why she wouldn't have said, "Uh, I appreciate your concern, but how about if we do some due diligence on our own, talk about it some more, and then whatever we decide, I can either accept or decline the offer on my own?"

    And if she asked him to do it, I can't figure out why he didn't say, "Uh, I know this is important to you, but I think it would be better if we do some due diligence on our own - I'll make some discreet inquiries, talk to a few people, you and I can talk about it some more, and then whatever we decide, you can either accept or decline the offer on on your own."

    For me, whichever way it really went down, it says that he had big ambitions early, and she was scared to death that something she would do would be the reason he didn't achieve those goals - which also says a little about him, don't you think?

    I have the distinct impression that Barack was just fine with what Michelle did, as long as it benefited him and didn't get in the way of what he wanted.

    Which is what worked for them - it just would not have worked for me, and I can't imagine my husband ever putting me in a position where I felt like she apparently did.

    "Sensible?"  Mmmm, not so much: I'm thinking "scared."


    How many adults do I know who (none / 0) (#111)
    by jnicola on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 06:26:39 PM EST
    have made the approval to accept a job contingent upon a spouse, significant other or parent having a face-to-face meeting with that potential employer?

    Not nearly enough.

    I think it's a thoroughly good idea. Two years ago, I was looking for a new member of staff, and one of the current bunch recommended a friend of his who sounded good. It was Friday when he was recommended; I called him the next day and he happened to be nearby, so he came round, we had a drink and a chat. I emailed him a job offer on Sunday and he started on the Tuesday.

    I tell the story because, as it happens, his girlfriend was with him when he came round, and I know they discussed me, my company and the job afterwards, and I think that was very useful to him. We were his second job; our background was very different to anything he'd done before and he'd been startled by the speed at which we wanted to move. We've talked about it since, and I know he wasn't sure what he wanted to do, but his girlfriend, because she had been there, was able to provide another view on the meeting, which helped him decide to take the offer, and I'm pretty sure he doesn't regret it. Nor do we.

    Even a fresh-out-of-college graduate does not make bring Mommy or Daddy in to meet Mr. or Ms. Boss before taking the job.

    I'm taking on a new graduate in London full time in a month who's been working for us during his holidays for the last two years. He's great, and I think he's going to be able to take over a lot of my job over the next few years. However, he came to us originally through his father, who led a company we were working with, mentioning that his son was interested in what we did. And the first holiday he worked for us I spent far more time discussing the contract, pension arrangements and so on with his father than I did with him. I don't expect 19 year olds to make sensible decisions on pension contribution levels - heck, the evidence I have would suggest that anyone under 35 doesn't make sensible decisions on that. (We match whatever people save up to a certain maximum; given that their pension savings are tax free as well it means that every £3 saved effectively costs them £1.30 or so. The only sensible strategy is to maximise this; the only people who follow this without me arguing them into it have all been over 35.)

    I know my company is odd; besides the above, my father actually works for me, we refuse to employ salesmen, getting our clients solely through word of mouth, and so on. But it works. And it makes sense to me; when communities were closer knit, generally your first employer would be someone who knew your family. This had advantages on both sides - the employer knew far better what they were getting, and the employee was far less likely to let down someone their family had personal ties to. Even now, it's well known that people who work for people they have personal ties to are usually happier. Further, people who get jobs directly from people they know are the happiest; those that got their job from someone who knows someone they know are second happiest - and so on.

    The 'MO method', as I'm now christening it, seems to try and bring some of that back. It seems like an idea which should be encouraged.

    They are not babies - they are bright, ambitious, and scary-smart and the last thing any of them would want a partner or possible potential employer to think about them is that they were so unsure of themselves that they would need to bring a fiance, spouse or trusted friend in to meet the potential boss and give a thumbs-up.

    If they're scary-smart, they should realise that an employer might well be impressed by someone who realises that their decision on an important matter would be a better decision if it was informed by someone else's views as well. If they're too arrogant, or too hidebound by normal practice, to seek external advice, then maybe they're not as good as they think.

    Being self-confident is not necessarily a virtue. Indeed, believing in one's own inadequacy and working hard to try and overcome this is far more likely to lead to real achievement. The first-rate will always try and find people who are better than them to work with.


    Most women, (5.00 / 3) (#106)
    by nycstray on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 05:40:13 PM EST
    from the day they enter the workforce, make these decisions. Yes, we may talk to friends, family etc, but we generally don't bring them in to interview the prospective new boss. There's this neat little thing called quitting if the job turns out not to be what you want. Sometimes it's mighty fun exercising that right {grin}.

    And if my memory serves me correctly, BO had no experience in politics at the time . . . And she had been HIS mentor, not the other way around.


    At that point (none / 0) (#113)
    by jnicola on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 06:46:47 PM EST
    He'd already been director of the Developing Communities Project for three years, running a staff that grew to fourteen; consulted for the Gamaliel Foundation; and was just taking over running the Illinois branch of Project Vote. He was also a protege of Newton Minow, one of the powers in Chicago politics, had discussed his political plans with him, and had been promised Minow's support. His political links in Chicago were exceptional for his age.

    Her achievements were substantial, and her roots in Chicago were to be very helpful to both of them as she learned to use them, but at that point I'm not aware that she had any significant active, as opposed to latent, political links beyond her father's precinct captaincy.


    That's interesting (5.00 / 1) (#116)
    by nycstray on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 07:04:17 PM EST
    he said in his 60 minutes interview the only staff he had ever managed was his senate staff and his campaign. And he had a lot of help managing the campaign staff. . . .

    It is odd (none / 0) (#119)
    by jnicola on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 07:24:18 PM EST
    he doesn't mention it more. He talks about the organisation for hundreds of pages in Dreams, but even from that it's difficult to pick up that he grew it by 13 staff and to a $400,000/year budget, and, most significantly, to an organisation that would last, which for three years work by a twenty-something, wasn't bad at all. Maybe he doesn't mention it because of the early sneering at the community organizer experience? I don't know. It's on record, though.

    But he had the perfect opportunity to (none / 0) (#121)
    by nycstray on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:44:14 PM EST
    turn the sneering around about community organizers for more than a year. I just don't get it. I would have felt more comfortable about him (experience wise) if he would have been able to elaborate more. His lack of attention to it coupled with comments about hiring people smarter than him, etc, raised huge red flags with me. And much of that is from direct work experience (on my part). Maybe he wasn't as principle in the growth/sustainability and it came from those he was working with? He really seems to be lacking in the resume dept prior to the state senate (for those of us that didn't feel the urge to run out and buy his books). I found it very frustrating that he/the campaign never elaborated more. Campaigning should be an open book on background/history/experience, not a Barnes and Noble deal.

    Fair point. (none / 0) (#122)
    by jnicola on Fri May 01, 2009 at 02:33:53 AM EST
    I don't know why he didn't highlight it more, though I still suspect that he didn't see much point in fighting more to convince people of the virtues of community organizers. If not that, possibly he didn't think that the job he'd had before he went to law school was one he should highlight, or as you suggest, maybe he thought other people deserved more of the credit, though even the earliest articles about him credit him as a good community organizer, and his ascent onto the boards at the Woods Fund, the Joyce Foundation and to lead the Annenberg Challenge would seem to back that up - which makes it even more frustrating that he didn't highlight it. Still, the campaign worked without it...

    After reading about (none / 0) (#81)
    by oculus on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 02:55:16 PM EST
    This in Chicago papers I concluded the reason MO wanted Barack to meet Jarret was because Jarret worked for the DaleyII and Barack was interested in connecting w/the Daley machine and he did.

    Maybe (none / 0) (#78)
    by jbindc on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 02:38:27 PM EST
    It was a deeply political role, and you might agree that Jarrett's boss had, um, certain interesting aspects as a politician. He was more politically involved than Michelle was at the time, and it made absolute sense that, when considering taking a political job, she should ask him for his advice, and that he should want to meet Jarrett to get an idea of what she'd provide for Michelle

    It was more to ensure this wouldn't hurt his future jobs....


    Maybe (none / 0) (#80)
    by jnicola on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 02:49:25 PM EST
    But is that desperately unreasonable, as long as it works the other way around, too?

    Yesterday our newspaper (5.00 / 2) (#108)
    by hairspray on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 05:54:44 PM EST
    carried a feature article on Michele Obama and how popular she is.  The report found her hewing closely to food, family and community activities. The artcle goes on to say that the public expects these things in the first lady.  Now why am I not surprised?

    Yep (5.00 / 4) (#94)
    by otherlisa on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 04:40:04 PM EST
    The "touch of the patriarch" is why I just can't warm to Obama. I find it very creepy.

    Well said (none / 0) (#14)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 08:16:07 AM EST
    My take as well

    it is a complex issue (none / 0) (#22)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 09:04:51 AM EST
    as these rather convoluted thoughts in the WaPo illustrate well.

    (Mary Ann) Glendon -- a Harvard University law professor and a respected author on bioethics and human rights -- rejected the honor in part because Barack Obama was invited to be commencement speaker and to receive an honorary degree.

    Offering this backdrop and extending the school's imprimatur to Obama constitutes a wink and a nod to abortion. Why not throw a pig roast in Mecca?

    Obama might consider following Glendon's lead. Although he supports choice, the president also recognizes the moral complexity of those decisions. Out of respect for pro-life Catholics and their beloved institution, he should politely bow out.


    a pig roast in Mecca? wtf?


    What the Heck Man? (5.00 / 4) (#10)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 08:10:05 AM EST
    The other thing that I said consistently during the campaign is I would like to reduce the number of unwanted presidencies that result in women feeling compelled to get an abortion, or at least considering getting an abortion

    Did Bush break this too?

    Yeah, it's a typo (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by jnicola on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 08:31:21 AM EST
    That's something of a shame though. The idea of reducing the number of unwanted presidencies seems like an awfully good one.

    Not sure what you are asking (none / 0) (#12)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 08:12:55 AM EST
    but in fact Bush opposed this initiative when proposed by Senate Democrats, including Harry Reid and Hillary Clinton.

    this is an old Dem proposal.


    It's okay, it's morning (none / 0) (#15)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 08:17:38 AM EST
    It's a terrible typo in the manuscript.  

    Good eye, good eye. (Baseball term.) (none / 0) (#26)
    by oculus on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:01:53 AM EST
    "Hot Coffee" (none / 0) (#29)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:07:56 AM EST
    Another baseball thingy that applies to this morning and that I learned from watching 'Martian Child' with the children.  It was a great movie but I'm still not certain what "Hot Coffee" in baseball terms really means.

    I got nothun fer ya. Except (none / 0) (#33)
    by oculus on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:19:16 AM EST
    via googling I found this from a woman who repairs baseball gloves and describes how not to break in a new glove:

    I read an article in a major sports magazine that quoted a professional ball player, who described pouring hot coffee with cream into the pocket of his glove. I don't remember if he used sugar, too, but why not?

    I've never heard... (none / 0) (#35)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:22:40 AM EST
    ...that expression in relation to baseball and teh Google, it tells me nothing.  I have heard of the expression "a cup of coffee" used as a BB expression.  That is someone who get a brief call-up to the big leagues.  

    I was pleased overall (5.00 / 5) (#19)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 08:44:30 AM EST
    In fact, after I got over the shock of having such a well spoken competent president I just don't feel like leveling some earned criticisms this morning.  I don't mean to be gushy or anything, but I just can't seem to get beyond that I have a president that is presidential material again.  It was such a long sorry grueling haul.

    m7y feelings as well (5.00 / 2) (#20)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 08:53:25 AM EST
    I did not watch the presser last night only the coverage after, which was fascinating.  
    particularly on FOX.  they are becoming an SNL parody of themselves as, I believe, are many of Obamas harshest critics on the left.

    Buwahahahahaha (none / 0) (#24)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 09:30:36 AM EST
    Why don't I ever think of such things?  I bet Fox was a damned scream last night.  It has been such a long haul can I laugh too much at this point?  

    Obama is purportedly still seeking (5.00 / 9) (#25)
    by oculus on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 09:55:27 AM EST
    compromise on a woman's right to choose.  But there is no compromise.  Either a woman (w/o consulting w/her clergy, physician, family, etc.) has a right to make this decision (even without carefully weighing it) or she doesn't.  

    I'm not sure he's seeking (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:17:15 AM EST
    compromise so much as agreeing with the wingers about this also being a moral issue.  I'm not sure what the heck he intends other than not making what could be comprehended as a cemented stand for women's rights.  And the wingers used to say that you can't legislate morality when it suited them before they went completely Bush nuts.  I don't know what his intentions are at this time when he speaks about his desire to decrease "unwanted" pregnancy.  Is that better access to birth control and family planning?  If it is he'll get nicked on it by the rightwing extremists as soon as he acts on those words.  If he intends to fund more abstinence bullsnot he can KMA.

    BTD deems Obama a supporter (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by oculus on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:21:39 AM EST
    of a woman's right to choose.  I hope this confidence is well-placed.

    well he did say that (5.00 / 0) (#37)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:30:01 AM EST
    rather unequivocally last night.  this is such a loaded issue and I having unrelated plumbing I am sort of reluctant to even comment on the subject but from what I saw I actually thought he did a reasonably good job (B?) of expressing how conflicted many people are about this issue.

    personally I am totally pro choice.  mostly because, as he said, I dont think most women take the decision lightly at all.

    having said that I have know some (people who I generally hold in high regard) who did seem to take it pretty lightly.  I have always been a little troubled by those who seem to have no problem using it as birth control.  personally I dont think I would ever do that but I would not for a moment argue that anyones right to do it be taken away.  I do think it should be discouraged and other forms of birth control should be encouraged.  MO.  for what its worth.


    Well he said it unequivocally (5.00 / 3) (#38)
    by sj on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:35:35 AM EST
    just before he equivocated and talked about all the consultation a woman needs before making her choice.

    Hmmm (5.00 / 3) (#41)
    by dk on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:41:11 AM EST
    personally I am totally pro choice.  mostly because, as he said, I dont think most women take the decision lightly at all.

    So, if you thought that most women took the decision "lightly" (however you define the term), then you wouldn't be pro-choice?

    Not to pick on you personally, but this is exactly the kind of attitude that Obama expresses as well, and what concerns me most about him, and makes me think that he is at least partially motivated by an anti-woman attitude.  To me, this leads down a path of not only presuming to tell women how they should feel, but try to mold their thoughts and feelings by dangling their reproductive choice above their heads like a carrot/stick.

    Whether Obama truly believes what he is saying, or whether he thinks he is being clever in his rhetoric in some attempt to gain favor among fundamentalists and misogynists, is a question that none of us know the answer to.  But employing that kind of rhetoric is most certainly a failure of leadership.


    this seems to perfectly illustrate (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:54:10 AM EST
    the black and white thinking of some on this issue that is not possible for many other people.  frankly, including me.

    personally I think he was being honest.  as am I.
    I do not think abortion should be viewed or used as a routine method of  birth control.

    and to answer your question as honestly as I can, flatly denying that there is any dimension to this except one persons right to choose is what alienates many people and is not particularly helpful in making sure women retain the right to choose.  IMO.  

    flame away.  I have had my say on the subject.


    Not sure why it's (5.00 / 3) (#46)
    by dk on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:57:42 AM EST
    "flaming" to say that I find it deeply troubling that one could threaten to not support women's reproductive choice depending on your individual feeling of whether "most women" make the choice "lightly" or not.

    You are entitled to your opinion, and I am entitled to mine.  


    entitled to you own opinion (none / 0) (#52)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:09:31 AM EST
    not you own facts.  I never said that.

    what I said is I would like to see a world in which it is not socially acceptable for a woman to routinely use abortion repeatedly for the sole purpose of birth control.  as I have personally know to happen which is exactly the opposite message sent by the "anytime for any reason and its nobodys business but mine" argument.

    the issue is not black and white.  there are many shades of grey.


    My own facts? (5.00 / 3) (#58)
    by dk on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:42:23 AM EST
    This is what you said:

    personally I am totally pro choice.  mostly because, as he said, I dont think most women take the decision lightly at all.

    My response was asking you whether this meant that you would not supporting women's reproductive choice if you felt that women took the decision, as you define it, "lightly."  You have not answered that question.

    I think you are confusing in what context the "many shades of grey" apply.  The many shades of grey apply to each individual's feelings about abortion, and each woman's decision as to whether to have one.  Any individual choice that any person makes, ever, has shades of gray.  That is non-controversial. You may personally have your own opinion of which shades are important when contemplating this particular decision, but in a free country such as this you shouldn't get to make those decisions for other people.  

    Where there is not a shade of gray, IMO, is whether the law of this country should allow women control over their own bodies.  That is an entirely different matter.   Trying to conflate the language of individual choices with civil rights is the problem.  


    Just how common is that? (5.00 / 2) (#109)
    by hairspray on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 06:13:23 PM EST
    The studies I have read about abortion and behavior after an abortion say that after one or two abortions the woman uses contraception much more faithfully.  Of course there are two people involved and it often depends on the behavior of the male as well.

    It is a black and white issue. (5.00 / 5) (#59)
    by itscookin on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:49:30 AM EST
    Either a person has the right to autonomy over his or her own body or he or she doesn't. Should the government be able to use your organs for donation whether you agree or not? If you think that the government should have the right to take your organs, then is it only after you're dead, or can they take a kidney while you're still alive? The argument that in the case where the issue is an abortion there are two lives at stake applies to organ donation as well. Limiting a woman's right to control her own body while allowing men full autonomy over theirs is a tool used by the patriarchy to control women. If it was a moral issue, we'd be demanding that everyone carry a donor card and require that at least family members pony up when an organ donation is required.

    It's black and white (5.00 / 2) (#74)
    by indy in sc on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 02:19:21 PM EST
    to others as well.  It's just plain murder and either the state has the right to prohibit murder or it doesn't.  This is the reason why treating it as a black/white issue is detrimental for both sides.

    that is exactly right (5.00 / 1) (#88)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 03:47:44 PM EST
    it is no less nonsensical from either side.
    it is not black and white.  if everyone could just admit that  . . .

    btw I am the dark side of CH.
    the other one comes out sometimes.   depending on the medication.


    What is detrimental? (none / 0) (#91)
    by dk on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 04:26:01 PM EST
    If they want, they can try to get the U.S. constitution amended to say that a fetus within the womb of a woman is entitled to the same rights as a person.  I don't think they will succeed.

    In the meantime, women are entitled to control over their own bodies.


    It's detrimental because (none / 0) (#101)
    by indy in sc on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 05:15:42 PM EST
    no constitutional amendment is needed.  As long as both sides view the issue as black and white and therefore are not willing to engage in dialogue, the rights around this issue will always ebb and flow based on which party is in power.  When Rs are in power, they will use legislation to limit the right such that you might as well have had a constitutional amendment and when the Ds are in charge, they'll broaden the rights.

    Just look at the global gag rule.  Put in place by Regan, undone by Clinton, put back in place by Bush II, undone by Obama.  

    Not to mention that the issue is actually not black and white.


    You could make the same (none / 0) (#103)
    by dk on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 05:27:48 PM EST
    argument about any civil rights issue, but that doesn't mean it's the right argument.

    Several countries (none / 0) (#62)
    by jnicola on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 12:51:01 PM EST
    already default to allowing organ donation. And while I don't believe the government should enforce that, say, a healthy sibling of someone with acute kidney disease should donate a kidney if it's needed, my view on that is necessarily conditioned by the fact that almost all siblings already would. If that changed, then we might need to look at it again. Fortunately, human generosity and love seem unlikely to vanish anytime soon.

    for the record (none / 0) (#64)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 01:10:00 PM EST
    and in spite of the fact that I dont see any relation at all to the abortion discussion, I see nothing at all wrong with mandatory organ donation.

    if a person would deny another person the life saving gift of an organ after they are dead and certainly no longer need it that person should be forced to do the right thing and save a life.


    There's no way (5.00 / 2) (#71)
    by Dr Molly on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 01:57:03 PM EST
    that this is the same Capt. Howdy as the original. I don't believe it.

    Why do you think Obama always (5.00 / 5) (#68)
    by Anne on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 01:43:00 PM EST
    talks about the "conflicts" people have about abortion?  It's been pretty well-established that the decision to have an abortion is not made as easily as deciding whether to have ice cream with your pie, so what is it?

    My understanding - for what it's worth - of what it means to be pro-choice is that you trust each woman to make the decision that is right for her - trust being a major component of the whole thing - and implicit in that trust is that women who want input from others will get it.  

    What I repeatedly get from Obama is that he really doesn't trust women to do that by themselves - he really does not believe they will make the best decision if no one else weighs in on it.

    It's really kind of demeaning.


    As far as I can tell (none / 0) (#102)
    by jnicola on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 05:27:40 PM EST
    he generally believes that any decision is going to be better if several people get a chance to weigh in on it.

    I can't find where he used it at the moment, but I remember him using in one of his early speeches, one of my favourite quotes. It's from Cromwell's letter to the Commissioners of the Kirk of Scotland -

    I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.

    I would say (5.00 / 2) (#40)
    by CST on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:38:43 AM EST
    one good indication of where he is going on this issue is the fact that he over-turned the global gag rule.

    That tells me that he is not gonna go the "abstinence only" route, and isn't afraid to occasionally take on the wingnuts on this issue.

    But we'll see how it plays out in this country.


    That wasn't Obama's initiative (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by dk on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:50:08 AM EST
    I put that in a similar category of signing the Lily Ledbetter act.  The result it great, obviously, and it's good that he signed it.  But he essentially had no choice in doing those things, because there was virtually unanimous consensus among the Democratic leadership to do so.  

    I'm just waiting and seeing what he does with issues that come up sui generis during his administration, or with issues he has an ability to put his personal stamp on.  Given his rhetoric, it's too early to tell, IMO.


    wasn't his initiative? (5.00 / 2) (#48)
    by CST on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:58:56 AM EST
    That wasn't a bill in congress like lily ledbetter.  It was an executive order.

    It's not like he would've had to veto something, he could've just ignored it.  But he didn't.  I am not sure who's initiative you think it was if not Obama's.

    Democratic leadership had no control over that one.


    Well, it was an executive order, (none / 0) (#49)
    by dk on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:02:15 AM EST
    that is true.  But the particular issue is not new.  Essentially, it has been a back and forth executive order fight for about twenty years.  Clinton signed the order to allow the funding (he might have overturned an original gag rule signed by Reagan or Bush Sr., I forget), and then W reinstated the gag order, etc.

    So, it's true that it was not a bill, but it was essentially part of the party platform.  


    choice (5.00 / 2) (#50)
    by CST on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:07:47 AM EST
    isn't a new issue either and is essentially a part of the party platform, along with access to birth control and sex ed.  But obviously every politician has their own personal agenda.

    I say it's a good indication he is following that part of the party line.


    Agreed... (5.00 / 1) (#97)
    by Thanin on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 05:07:09 PM EST
    that it is just this black and white.  

    And I dont care if its crowning, if she wants an abortion, for whatever reason, she gets it.  End of story.


    Congratulations (none / 0) (#112)
    by CoralGables on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 06:28:48 PM EST
    That's a perfect example of why the pro choice side gets blistered as being baby killers and why the anti abortion side is able to jump on a soapbox and garner attention for their cause.

    So? (5.00 / 1) (#118)
    by Thanin on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 07:15:53 PM EST
    republicans use anti torture sentiment has meaning we're weak and want Americans to die, so it really doesnt matter what we say/believe because they'll use whatever they want for their own causes.  

    Besides, people not running for office dont have to appease the public.


    I believe that's a similar approach (none / 0) (#28)
    by CoralGables on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:07:07 AM EST
    to what the anti-abortion side uses. They prefer to make it a black and white issue as you have here, while it's far from that simple. Even Roe v Wade has a three step process.

    On a note of agreement...nice comeback by the Traveling Monks last night albeit a bit short.


    Roe v. Wade doesn't require (5.00 / 6) (#30)
    by oculus on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:12:05 AM EST
    consultation with anyone, at least in the first trimester; and doesn't require or assume the woman must search her soul before choosing.

    I have heard Kate Michelman (5.00 / 1) (#47)
    by MKS on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:58:12 AM EST
    say something very similar....That we can trust women to make these decisions....

    She was talking about the late term abortion ban and her response was that women do not make such decisions lightly, that we can trust them, etc.


    What bothers me about his framing (5.00 / 6) (#69)
    by Dr Molly on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 01:52:50 PM EST
    on abortion rights has always been that he presents it as a deep moral decision - but only one moral issue is ever understood to be at issue here:  the life of the fetus. What is never discussed is the deep moral issue of the mother's life and wellbeing. What is also never discussed is the deep moral issue of the impregnator that contributed to the unwanted pregnancy. What is also never discussed is the deep moral issue of forcing a women who is pregnant as a consequence of rape or incest to carry the fetus to term. And so on.

    So the fact that he keeps bringing this up as a deep moral issue, plus the constant references to women needing counseling to make the decision, is a bogus strawman to me. If we really are all supposed to be so concerned about the morality of abortion, then let's talk about all of it please. Otherwise STFU as far as I'm concerned. But then again, I'm one of those feminazis who thinks that abortion isn't really any business of men anyway since it's not men who will have to carry it, bear it, nurse it, care for it, give up their careers for it, etc.

    I agree. (5.00 / 3) (#86)
    by MyLeftMind on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 03:40:40 PM EST
    Pregnancy is a matter that affects both men and women, but the decision to abort or continue a pregnancy is the woman's decision, period.  I'd go a step farther to say a woman should not even have to discuss the decision with the father if she doesn't want to.  And no court should even consider letting a man force a woman to continue a pregnancy just because his sperm fertilized the egg.  

    I'm not much concerned about Obama's repeated reference to the fact that women consult with clergy and others when they make these important decisions.  He doesn't ever say women have to consult with doctors, families or clergy, only that they do so.  

    I think he's recognizing that we'll get nowhere by more argument on this.  Instead, he's creating a balanced dialogue by basically saying:

    1. Relax pro-choice folks, women's right to choose is not going to be challenged under my watch.
    2. Relax anti-abortionists, although you can't prevent women from having abortions, women don't make the decision frivolously.  They make this decision after consultation with their families, doctors and clergy. so you still have a chance to have some sway on those decisions.  
    3. This is one of those complex legal and moral issue with huge emotional investment on both sides.  We're not going to come to agreement on whether to allow it or ban it, so let's look for other areas of agreement, such as the need to reduce the number of pregnancies that would be terminated by abortion.  We all want fewer abortions, right?  That's where his administration is going to put their efforts (too bad for those who are both anti-abortion and anti-birth control, they lose out under Obama's course of action).

    I completely agree with your 1, 2 and 3 (5.00 / 1) (#87)
    by Dr Molly on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 03:45:39 PM EST
    That is exactly how I read his behavior.

    I am quite comfortable that Obama is pro-choice and will make the right decisions. He is just appeasing the anti-choicers by invoking the 'deep moral issue' narrative.

    I just wish he would stick to #1 and #3!


    But, even if that is Obama's (5.00 / 3) (#93)
    by dk on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 04:33:12 PM EST
    intention, that doesn't mean that everyone processes his rhetoric as you do.  And inasmuch as his rhetoric is unaccepting of women's autonomy, it sends out an unhelpful message.

    It seems as if the argument as if that unhelpful message is somehow a compromise we have to accept to maintain autonomy for women over their bodies.  I guess I don't see that this compromise is necessary, and thus I fault him for his failure of leadership and possible long-term damage to the struggle for civil rights.


    Well, even if Obama is appeasing them (5.00 / 2) (#104)
    by MyLeftMind on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 05:35:51 PM EST
    in ways we don't like, the fact is that anti-abortionists are a powerful force in national politics.  They're a big part of why we got stuck with Bush I & Shrub.  We can't just tell them they're wrong and ignore them.  When they feel powerless, they start shooting doctors.

    Much as I'd like to just tell them to STFU, I can see that a more engaging approach would be better.  Perhaps Obama can get them involved in convincing women to not get pregnant because if they do, they might have to face an abortion.  They'll get to prevent abortions, but in a more productive way than they have in the past.  


    Well, what you suggest (5.00 / 2) (#107)
    by dk on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 05:43:26 PM EST
    in your second paragraph sounds like a fine way to engage them, i.e. to find common ground and encourage them to work for it.

    But that is something different from what Obama did, which was to imply that some women who believe in choice are immoral, and to link civil rights to assurances that women think about their choices in a particular narrow way that would please Obama and other hard-core Christians.

    Those are two very different ways of engaging anti-choicers.  The first one is great; the second is dangerous, IMHO.


    Oh great! (5.00 / 1) (#110)
    by hairspray on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 06:26:33 PM EST
    The whole idea that abortion is this great moral issue and "... Obama can get them involved in convincing women to not get pregnant because if they do, they might have to face an abortion.  They'll get to prevent abortions, but in a more productive way than they have in the past" sounds like more guilt tripping. How did getting an abortion become so traumatic?  Its this whole idea that women are responsible and look...they are getting abortions and should be ashamed?  Women don't get pregnant by themselves and many have very limited control over their bodies even in their own homes.  

    Whether liberals admit it or not, (none / 0) (#125)
    by MyLeftMind on Fri May 08, 2009 at 02:18:03 PM EST
    there are plenty of women who use free abortions as birth control.  I know some of those women.  Yes, many of them are not fully in control of their lives, but their actions do our cause great harm.  

    Although I disagree with right-to-lifers, I can see that their passion would be better used toward efforts that prevent pregnancies.  We ignore them at our peril, and we're more likely to succeed if we work with them, not always against them.  If Obama can find common ground, I think we have more of a chance to change their thinking.  If not, at least we can mitigate the political force they create when we ignore them and allow the right to use this as a wedge issue.  If the federal government stands strong on choice while redirecting some of that so called "faith-based" funding to preventing pregnancies, we'll all be better off.


    Possible correction? (5.00 / 1) (#115)
    by Dr Molly on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 06:54:19 PM EST
    Perhaps Obama can get them involved in convincing women to not get pregnant because if they do, they might have to face an abortion.

    Perhaps convincing men AND women not to create unwanted pregnancies? While at the same time acknowledging that abortion will always be with us unless rape, incest, coercion, etc. stops? And explaining that everyone (men AND women) bears the responsibility of unwanted pregnancies and consequent abortions rather than shaming women about it?


    Well, I agree with you in essence. (none / 0) (#114)
    by Dr Molly on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 06:51:03 PM EST
    He is imperfect in this regard.

    asdf (none / 0) (#2)
    by Addison on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 07:55:45 AM EST
    I was surprised you didn't mention Obama's lapse into rhetorically assuming the superior efficacy of torture, considering your recent posts on that topic (emphasis obviously mine):
    ...the reason was that Churchill understood, you start taking short-cuts, over time, that corrodes what's -- what's best in a people. It corrodes the character of a country.

    And -- and so I strongly believed that the steps that we've taken to prevent these kinds of enhanced interrogation techniques will make us stronger over the long term and make us safer over the long term because it will put us in a -- in a position where we can still get information.

    In some cases, it may be harder, but part of what makes us, I think, still a beacon to the world is that we are willing to hold true to our ideals even when it's hard, not just when it's easy.

    I saw Kevin Drum assumed that interpretation and I think others will as well, I did not reads it the way others have.

    I think it was mainly rhetorical... (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Addison on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 08:03:59 AM EST
    ...but casting the torture debate in those rhetorical terms of short-term and long-term benefits does not do justice to the argument that torture produces bad intelligence, and plays too much (imo) to the 24 ticking timebomb scenario mindset. To assume that the argument against torture is that in time our intelligence capabilities will be lessened is insidious, and it's a political tic that should be gotten rid of.

    I think (5.00 / 0) (#7)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 08:08:55 AM EST
    there was an opportunity to combat the argument there, and Obama demurred, but that is not the same thing as saying he embraced the argument.

    He did not do what Dennis Blair did.  


    FWIW (none / 0) (#11)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 08:11:39 AM EST
    My interpretation may be wrong, but I hope I can be spared the accusation that I am carrying water for Obama on this issue.

    I may be wrong in what I ma writing here, but honestly so.


    Be fair. (none / 0) (#8)
    by jnicola on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 08:09:22 AM EST
    Right after his answer to the question you highlight, he answers a question, directly tackling the effectiveness argument, as follows.

    ...the public justifications for these techniques, which is that we got information from these individuals that were subjected to these techniques, doesn't answer the core question. Which is, could we have gotten that same information without resorting to these techniques? And it doesn't answer the broader question, are we safer as a consequence of having used these techniques?...I made the decision to bar these practices...there have been no circumstances during the course of this first 100 days in which I have seen information that would make me second guess the decision that I have made.

    This seems pretty clear and direct.

    I'm also impressed that he explicitly stated that 'waterboarding is torture', and somewhat surprised, as that would seem to add to the pressure for investigation/prosecutions.


    Definitely... (none / 0) (#16)
    by Addison on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 08:21:25 AM EST
    ...and the passage you cite is exactly why I view the "easy/hard" and "short-term/long-term" polarities as mostly a rhetorical artifact and/or subconscious assumption, not necessarily indicative of substantive policy. Rhetoric is important though.

    Though there is the quote, "which is, could we have gotten that same information without resorting to these techniques?" Here it seems clear that there is another section of the answer to be given, which is, "are we getting worse information by resorting to these techniques?" But here BTD's point about omission and commission is even more apt in this instance.


    I agree rhetoric's important (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by jnicola on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 09:15:29 AM EST
    and think that Obama's skilful use of it allows people who disagree to some degree with his policies to feel that at least their views are  being taken into consideration and therefore to go along with the policies to a greater extent than they would if they were directly challenged. It's mood music, but in the long run it allows more of what he wants to get done.

    Obama had two bites at the torture apple (none / 0) (#54)
    by herb the verb on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:24:56 AM EST
    The first one concerned me, but the second answer he was more clear in describing that he was pointedly dismissing the "Jack Bauer" scenario. He also decidedly did NOT close the door on investigations.

    I was impressed by his second answer. I was impressed that he very clearly and straightforwardly said that waterboarding IS torture and that we DID subject people to torture, and while he did say that torture was against 'international' law and treaties he didn't say it was against US law (at least that I heard).

    If there was torture, it was a crime, if there were crimes, there were criminals who committed those crimes....


    what I meant (none / 0) (#55)
    by herb the verb on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:27:48 AM EST
    I wish that Obama HAD said torture was against US law in addition to being against international law and treaties.

    That would leave no excuse to pursuing the crimers who committed these acts and/or conspired to commit them.


    Kevin Drum (none / 0) (#21)
    by lilburro on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 09:01:56 AM EST
    takes issue with this, but I think this is a decent answer:

    I am absolutely convinced it was the right thing to do, not because there might not have been information that was yielded by these various detainees who were subjected to this treatment, but because we could have gotten this information in other ways, in ways that were consistent with our values, in ways that were consistent with who we are.

    If you're going to take issue with something you could with the "shortcut" framing.  Obama in the quote I provide seems to be saying that waterboarding gave us nothing that standard interrogation would not.  So waterboarding is unnecessary - in an important way, it does not work.  It is not an improvement.

    It's not an answer quite as strong as directly saying "waterboarding did not work."  But the gist is largely the same.  He appears convinced it waterboarding produced no information that couldn't have been produced by standard methods.

    With the "shortcut" framing, you get into arguments about whether waterboarding is a faster way to get what you want.  Obama opened that door and that's not good.  I agree with Addison there.

    IMO, the best arguments against torture are - A) it doesn't produce anything you couldn't learn through standard procedures.  B) It should not be legalized, period - it opens the door for the world to sink back into barbarity.  


    Very facile indeed. But when (none / 0) (#4)
    by oldpro on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 07:58:46 AM EST
    did he develop this annoying new habit of ending an answer with a questioning "OK?"  "All right?"  It's really jarring.  I can't decide if it's issued as a challenge or a request for affirmation from the questioner, for the tone is sometimes challenging, sometimes not.  Very odd.

    On the substance, I agree with your concerns re his comments on abortion and state secrets.  In both cases, no Mr. President...not OK.

    The "okay" is a cue (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by MKS on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:53:41 AM EST
    to the reporter to shut up--that he is done giving his answer and is moving on.  

    It is Obama's way of controlling the discussion....


    Yes...I think so too... (none / 0) (#56)
    by oldpro on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:31:50 AM EST
    it's arrogant.

    I see it as exactly the opposite ... (5.00 / 1) (#83)
    by cymro on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 03:08:08 PM EST
    ... that is, as a polite way of closing off today's discussion with a group of reporters who he will be speaking to again tomorrow.  His alternative is the much more abrupt: "Next question". The "OK?" response politely allows for the possibility of a follow-up question, although both sides in the conversation understand that most of the time, by the conventions of a presidential press conference, there should be no follow-up, because there are other reporters and other questions to be asked and answered. So it's just a polite convention that is used to manage the ritual of questions and answers within that community.

    Wow. Tomato/tomahto... (none / 0) (#90)
    by oldpro on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 04:18:08 PM EST
    let's call the whole thing off!

    Maybe it's a generational thing...for instance, when I say "thank you" and the response is "no problem" instead of "you're welcome," I know it's generational...and that young people have no idea how annoying that response is.

    Conventions change, of course, but sometimes it takes time for 'the ear' to catch up.  Dunno if the brain ever will...


    De nada (5.00 / 1) (#92)
    by desertswine on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 04:28:30 PM EST
    My take on the pretty commo use of OK and alright, (none / 0) (#51)
    by KeysDan on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:08:25 AM EST
    seem to be, do you understand, me?  do you get it?  Sometimes it seems hard to just end a sentence with a period, and move on.  Sort of punctuates the sentence--no response required.  

    More like 'no response or (none / 0) (#57)
    by oldpro on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:34:37 AM EST
    followup encouraged.'  Sort of, "Shut up, he explained."

    Not good to get into that game with the press.  A little more humility would go a long way.


    See (none / 0) (#61)
    by jbindc on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 12:45:47 PM EST
    I take it as a nervous tick - a placeholder, if you will, for him to gather his thoughts.

    He actually reminds me of Mr. Mackey from South Park when he says it, mmmmkay?


    Re: state secrets answer (none / 0) (#18)
    by lilburro on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 08:37:23 AM EST
    I have no idea who to believe on state secrets or the direction the DoJ has been taking.  I don't believe Obama's answer on this because his team has been so adept at sending out mixed messages.  It was the subject of my diary here in Feb and nothing has really changed when it comes to what the Exec is saying.  What Obama said is a far cry from what Greg Craig said re Mohamed et al. v. Jeppesen:

    Mr. Craig said Mr. Holder and others reviewed the case and "came to the conclusion that it was justified and necessary for national security" to maintain their predecessor's stance.

    Not sure why a statute is necessary (none / 0) (#27)
    by oculus on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:05:15 AM EST
    regarding state secrets privilege claims.  Judge Hawkins set out the case law on the subject and his opinion makes it clear it is an evidentiary privilege.  If the government claims the privilege as to specific evidence, the trial court must determine, after reviewing that evidence in light the specific case, whether to grant or deny.  

    Courts of appeals (none / 0) (#36)
    by Bemused on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:23:27 AM EST
     do not establish binding precedent beyond that circuit. this opinion would not prevent a different court from reaching a different holding in a case presenting analogous facts. A statute not only has the virtue of universal application but it can also address related issues which were not decided by a court or courts because decision was not necessary to the case in controversy.

    9th circuit cited SCOTUS. (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by oculus on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:46:23 AM EST
    Greenwald agrees w/me.

    and a different ccircuit court of appeals (none / 0) (#85)
    by Bemused on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 03:40:18 PM EST
     might still reach a different conclusion, and I really could not care less what some blogger says. If he also  does not understand the limited reach of the decision and the fact that legislation can be broader because it can address related issues not before the court, that's his problem.



    I wouldn't say Glenn Greenwald is (5.00 / 1) (#95)
    by oculus on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 04:45:59 PM EST
    "some blogger."  Pretty smart lawyer.

    Well I haven't (none / 0) (#123)
    by Bemused on Fri May 01, 2009 at 06:55:05 AM EST
     read what he actually wrote but if he suggests as do you that legislation is "not needed" because this opinion settles the issue and other important related issues he is dead wrong no matter how smart you may think he is.

      He may actually have said something intelligent such as he fears Congress would pass legislation which would result in an outcome less desirable than the slow and  expensive machinations of the court system with its  uncertain outcome. I can understand lacking faith in Congress, but that's a good bit different than saying a single court of appeals' opinion settles a matter. I sure hope he didn't make the claim you implied that because the opinion cites Supreme Court cases no other court could rule differently because that sure isn't smart.


    Perhaps you may want to actually read (none / 0) (#124)
    by oculus on Fri May 01, 2009 at 12:12:11 PM EST
    his post.  

    Consulting with the clergy. (none / 0) (#117)
    by lentinel on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 07:08:43 PM EST
    Time well spent...
    They'll know what to do.