michelle obama

3 Things Just as Racisty as Michelle Obama’s Target Trip

Friday, People magazine will release an interview with the Obama’s. Not surprisingly, the interview focuses on race. As one example of racism run amok, Michelle Obama recounts a terrifying tale of her super-publicized visit to Target in 2011.

ABC News Reports:

“Even as the first lady,” she told the magazine, “during the wonderfully publicized trip I took to Target, not highly disguised, the only person who came up to me in the store was a woman who asked me to help her take something off a shelf.”

She said the incidents are “the regular course of life” for African-Americans and a “challenge” for the country to overcome.

The First Lady is 5′ 11″.

I can relate. There have been far too many times when I too was on the receiving end of racism the likes of what Mrs. Obama experienced at Target.

In an effort to have an open conversation about racism, I’ve decided to share a few stories.*

Three things just as racist as Michelle Obama’s Target visit

1. That time I went to Starbucks

coffee

I enjoy the occasional Americano and Starbucks makes them decently enough. As a general rule, I usually enjoy my cup-o-Joe black — no frills, no sugar, no dairy, no flavors other than the caffeinated darkness that makes my life possible (and no, we’re not to the racist part yet).

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“God only knows” featuring every singer you’ve ever heard of

File this post under “things I really enjoyed and thought you might too.”

Released to help launch the BBC Music vertical, this Beach Boy classic features just about every modern mainstream artist you can think of.

Admittedly, when this came across my news feed I clicked fully expecting to hear an unmitigated disaster. I tend to loath cover songs as much, if not more than classic movie remakes. I’m also a longtime Beach Boy fan.

But this little remake was splendidly done. Enjoy:

 

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Why I’m against drug testing for unemployment benefits and food stamps

Originally posted at Legal Insurrection September 22, this post has gotten all kinds of love and a heckuva lot of hate, so I thought I’d post it here too.  

It’s long been a rallying cry of the right: if you want to be on the public dole, you should be able to pass a drug test. You’ve seen the memes and the bumper stickers. Sounds good, right?

Governor Walker of Wisconsin has proposed his plan that would require drug testing for those seeking food stamps and unemployment benefits. According to The Daily Signal:

But the most controversial points are the governor’s proposals to require drug testing for individuals filing for unemployment and for “able-bodied, working-age adults requesting food stamps” through the state’s FoodShare public assistance program.

The bottom line, Walker says, is the bottom line: Taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for public assistance programs for individuals who can’t pass a drug test.

Taxpayers should have a great say in where their tax dollars are spent, that’s not a point I disagree with and is a principle I will always advocate. When it comes to mandatory drug testing as a contingency for public assistance though, I’m not convinced it’s a good idea for two simple reasons: 1) requiring drug testing is an expansion of government 2) it doesn’t address the problem of why people are seeking public assistance to begin with.

If we are to consistently advocate reduced government intrusion in the life of the individual citizen and smaller government overall, then we can’t rightly argue that requiring drug testing should be conditional for unemployment benefits. An entire new bureaucracy would be required to implement such an act.

If the era of bloated government has taught us anything, it’s that the bigger the government, the greater the waste, fraud, and abuse. Those who are determined will always find a work around. More tax payer money is spent, more government jobs are created, and for what? To ensure the guy who got laid off thanks to Obama’s economy hasn’t been toking up?

I’m not pretending there aren’t those who live off taxpayer good graces. They exist, but they’re not representative of the entirety of the public assistance population. Which leads me to my next point.

Our attitude on limiting public assistance is all wrong, and so is the way we talk about it. There’s any underlying assumption and I’d argue in many cases, arrogance on the right, that everyone on public assistance is lazy or entitled, and so we treat them as though they’re undeserving or unworthy of public charity. We complain there’s an entire generation living off entitlements, yet show no interest in helping them to a place where they can succeed. We are not taking measures to address the reasons why people are on public assistance, we just don’t want them there.

According to a Guardian article, one in seven Americans is on public assistance. A ridiculously high number by any measure. Those that work to enroll people in programs like SNAP are charged with this goal, “alleviate hunger, lessen poverty.” A nobel cause, but enrolling citizenry in a public assistance plan without providing a means of escape helps no one.

We all too easily take the road of judgment rather than reaching out to help those less fortunate saying people should just “Get a job!” And while the statement is correct, the attitude is not only personally destructive, but politically devastating. For all the criticism on the right to “Get a job!” what are we doing collectively to provide a solution?

Of course the answer should be simple: the private sector and local communities and charities should be there to offer this type of aid because it’s not the government’s job, but where are we to fill in the holes where both government and the private sector fails?

There are people who have never been told they’re valuable and that they have purpose in life. They’ve never been told it’s possible to excel or to change their circumstances. All they know is the life that surrounds them, in many cases, that’s a life smothered by poverty, violence, and drugs. It’s in these situations we should be showing compassion, assistance, and imparting the values of self respect, hard work, and the belief they too, can achieve whatever they believe to be possible.

I would love to see reform that starts with working to help those on the government dole get off and make something of themselves rather than more ‘reform’ that barely addresses the symptom.

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Remembering what’s important

Kemberlee Kaye Brandon Morse Cole Streeper

Brothers from another mother

I know I say this pretty regularly, but I am incredibly fortunate to be able to do what I love for a living.

It’s a wonderful gift to be able to spend my days doing my part to keep America the land of the free and the home of the brave, and it’s certainly not a charge I take lightly.

Like any profession, working in the politisphere comes with its own set of challenges. The news cycle is never-ending, there’s always another article to write or another issue to research, more ways I should be volunteering in my community, and the ever-present feeling that I can always do more.

Kemberlee Kaye Tabitha Hale

Besties

Just after my three year politiversary, I’ve come to a very simple conclusion, a conclusion that I’m working hard to implement. I probably should’ve waited until after election season, but I never do things the easy way, at least not the first time. That conclusion is simply that none of this really matters. 

I don’t mean that nihilistically or even negatively, of course. Nor am I implying we should stop fighting the good fight. But if my life is reduced to nothing but politics, then it’s a life wasted.

During the time I’ve worked in the political arena, I’ve met many people who, like myself, love the work they do and are passionate about saving what’s left of America. All too familiar is the story of those so committed to their work, their personal and family lives suffer. The justification is also homogeneous: if I don’t do this, my kids won’t have a future.

I don’t have kids, so there’s an element to this argument I’m not going to pretend I understand. But here’s what I do know: When I’m on my death bed, I’m not going to be concerned about my electoral victories, Drudge hits, the scalps I’ve collected, or kickass digital campaigns. I imagine I’ll be more concerned about the kind of life I chose to live, the opportunities I seized, and the people in my life who made it a wonderful place.

What virtue is there in saving America if in the process, I lose my family and everyone I care about? 

The hermanita and her nephew dog

The hermanita and her niece puppy

About a month ago, my Granny went to be with Jesus. For most of my life, she was my only grandparent. For everything she was, she was my Granny and she loved me. And I loved her very, very much.

She was a woman ahead of her time. A professional who started as a teller and retired the Vice President of the bank in the small town she called home. She made many personal sacrifices to get what she wanted from her career, most of her choices negatively impacted her family. She was one heckuva broad.

When family and friends gathered for her funeral, no one talked about her time at the bank. No one mentioned her professional accomplishments. Because none of that mattered. Rather, stories revolved around how feisty she was, her quick wit, and her annoying dog.

The politisphere has given me not only a humbling and rewarding career, but some of the best friends I’ve ever had and in many ways, an entire family.

Earlier this week, one of my best pals visited from out of state. Although the visit was brief, I was once again reminded of what’s important in life. And it’s certainly not work.

My fluffy sidekick

My fluffy sidekick

Balance, everything in moderation, and plenty of other cliches apply. But a life filled with love seems to be the only way to do this whole life thing. So that’s what I’m choosing: love, friendship, and family. I imagine my work will be all the better for it.

 

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Yes, I’m alive (and so is this blog)

Proof of life

Proof of life

So, I realize it’s been over a year since I updated this little blog and thought now was as good a time as any to remind those of you that read (or used to read, I imagine), that I am in fact still alive.

Much has changed in the last year.

I am no longer living in New York, although I miss it horribly sometimes. I’m back in the Lone Star State “living the dream” as they say.

After a brief hiatus in writing, I’m now a regular over at Legal Insurrection. If you haven’t checked it out, you really should. Great site. And while you’re there, be sure to sign up for the newsletter. Just trust me on this one.

This past year has been one of the most heartbreaking to date. Granny went to be with Jesus this summer, my parents parted ways after 42 years together, and life made sure to bring plenty of other reminders of emotional mortality. But I survived to tell the story and am all the better in spite of everything, or perhaps because of everything.

It’s been a year of self-reflection, deep introspection, and one that for all its difficulties, I’m incredibly thankful for. It’s never an easy lesson, but it’s nice to be reminded that we are much stronger than we think we are.

Maybe I’ll share further. We’ll see. I’m not exactly good with “feelings” and all that crap.

But I am alive. I ordered new glasses. I’m still blissfully addicted to coffee, a less than stellar driver, perpetually 5-10 minutes late, my cell phone is always almost dead, and my little dog is still as adorable and unaware she’s a dog as ever.

I remain tremendously blessed and humbled to be able to do what I do for a living, and to have a life filled with some seriously amazing people (you know who you are).

I promise to post here more regularly, schedule and sanity permitting. Plus, the blog got a makeover; got to take it out on the town.

 

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96 Year Old Man Writes Love Song for His Wife of 75 Years

Grab the Kleenex because you’ll need them for this one.  Shortly after his wife of 75 years passed, Fred wrote a love song for her. Then, this amazing record studio took his song and made it a reality.

DISCLAIMER: The following will make you feel things, lots and lots of things. Will probably restore your faith in humanity too.

Major props to Green Shoe Studio for telling Fred’s story.

UPDATE: PJ Media Responds to RNC Denial

Following this post I wrote Friday, J. Christian Adams wrote a lengthy post providing a much needed explanation of the PJ Media/RNC spat regarding alleged RNC collusion with the DOJ. Full disclosure: I’m personal friends with Mr. Adams and have tremendous respect for him, his work and his sacrifice on both a personal and professional level. I know him to be honest, forthright, tenacious and able to evidentially back up his claims. I do not believe he would report anything based on baseless presumption or as a knee-jerk reaction; his track record speaks otherwise. I’ve contacted the RNC and will report any response they provide as well. The RNC is on the record denying these accusations, and can be judged accordingly. But until then, please read what Mr. Adams wrote concerning the matter. It provides context not included in the original PJ Media post and subsequent RNC statement:

On a July day in 2006, the entire Republican caucus was invited to hear a private debate in a meeting room in the Capitol.  Scores of GOP members attended, including House Speaker Dennis Hastert.  At issue was whether the federal government should continue to have control over every election-law change in sixteen states, including Texas, California, Florida, and South Carolina.  Federal power over the states was set to expire.  On one side of the debate was lawyer Mike Carvin, who argued that federal oversight should end.

Carvin’s opponent arguing for continued federal power to review election changes like voter ID wasn’t a Democrat, or even a zealot from the NAACP.

Instead, opposing Carvin’s constitutionalist viewpoint and advocating for federal oversight of state elections was the former chief counsel to the Republican National Committee (RNC).  Also on that side was a group of RNC consultants and lawyers who remained active in RNC policy advancing this viewpoint in the following years.

Top Republicans in Congress listened to the two sides – Carvin arguing for an end to federal oversight of state elections, and the RNC side arguing for continued oversight with even tougher new burdenson states.  House Republicans eventually sided with the RNC point of view, and passed the 2006 reauthorization of federal preclearance power a few days after the debate.

In June 2013, the Supreme Court at last settled the issue in theShelby County decision by striking down the triggers which placed fifteen states under federal receivership for election-law changes as an unconstitutionally outdated infringement of state sovereignty.

That the RNC continued to support federal oversight one way or another over the past few years was no surprise to me or anyone else who has closely followed the issue — or spoken with the parties involved in the 2006 debate.  As recently as last year, one of the RNC-affiliated lawyers remained bitter toward PJ Media contributor Hans von Spakovsky for helping to organize the 2006 debate on Capitol Hill.

This might explain the peculiar reaction of the RNC to the PJ Tatler posting of last Friday (see, “RNC Operatives Join Holder’s Campaign Against Texas, Several Other States“).

A frantic (and ungrammatical) response was posted in the comments to the PJ Tatler posting by an RNC official, and the same response was picked up by a handful of lesser read blogs. Oddly, the RNC response included my name, saying I was on the wrong side of the debate in 2006.  Factually, this was inaccurate as I was at the Justice Department at the time and had no role, pro or con.

Late Friday night, an RNC communications operative carpet-bombed conservative bloggers with this response and included an attack on PJ Media for good measure. Obviously I have extraordinary relations with many of the bloggers, so they alerted me and wondered whether the RNC had lost it.

Saturday, the RNC sent me an apology, noting they were in error to name me.  Given their stand-up retraction, the matter is now closed to me.

Whether the federal government continues to possess power to approve or reject state election-law changes is an issue that has exposed divisions within the Republican Party between partisan election lawyers and those who believe the Constitution is more important than racial gerrymandering.

Last week, PJ Tatler reported that RNC consultants and staff were searching for ways to reactivate and preserve this federal power over states like Texas despite the Supreme Court’s ruling, just as Attorney General Eric Holder has vowed to do.

To anyone following these issues for the last decade, the PJ Tatler post was neither surprising nor unexpected.  A small group of lawyers and consultants either working for the RNC or consulting with them has long advocated for federal preclearance power over state elections.

Whether this RNC activity ended after the PJ Tatler story was released on Friday, or when the Supreme Court ruled in June, or sometime before is unclear.

Yes, the RNC really did support federal preclearance oversight of state elections, just as Eric Holder does now.  When this support ended is an unanswered question after the RNC on Friday unequivocally stated it opposes any fix to Section 4 that would place states such as Texas, South Carolina, and Virginia back under a federal boot.  That’s good news.

But before the announcement last week, the self-serving RNC collusion with the racialist left was well-known and obvious. After all, the GOP used Section 5 federal oversight to racially gerrymander safe Republican districts and herd blacks into electoral enclaves for the last 23 years.

That this well-known collusion and support of federal oversight surprised anyone last Friday was the only surprise.

UPDATE****

I received the following comment from Spicer this afternoon regarding the above listed post:

My comments from Friday remain intact – we are not nor have we been supporting the DoJ in any way, shape or form.   Instead of hiding behind an anonymous byline using anonymous sources, the person spreading these lies should back up their false rumors with real evidence.