Tag Archives: Obama

The Obama administration stomps on the First Amendment. A 10-year-old who’s seen way too much heartache. And if Facebook updated your real life

ericholder

You know, for nearly five years now I’ve been telling myself that the Obama administration is light-years different from the horrendous era that preceded it  in the White House.
And in some ways, it is. But then I see something repulsive like this phone records seizure from one of the largest media organizations in America, and I get as repulsed as I was when Cheney and Bush were lying like Pinocchio on steroids.

If you aren’t familiar with what I’m talking about, a quick primer: Last May the Associated Press printed a story about a foiled terrorist plot, and had some super-secret sources providing details, very likely sources from inside the government.
This leak ticked off the Obama Justice Dept. something fierce, and to help expedite their investigation, they decided to secretly obtain phone records from last April and May of more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to the AP and its journalists.
According to this story, “the records obtained by the Justice Department listed outgoing calls for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, for general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and for the main number for the AP in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP.”

So to recap, the U.S. government, where last I checked the First Amendment was still being enforced, decided to secretly spy on one of the nation’s most trusted and important news organizations because it was unhappy with a story they printed.

A story, I might point out, that the AP actually held for a while, it says, because the government asked it to out of concerns for national security. But nope, that wasn’t enough; ole’ Eric Holder and Co. decided to trample on press freedom (something Obama speaks about often, and eloquently) and basically eavesdrop on reporter’s calls.
The ex-journalist in me is outraged. But the U.S. citizen in me is just disgusted that this administration that promised transparency and sunlight and respecting boundaries continues to run afoul of the law, and common decency, yet again.
Hilariously, the U.S. attorney general claims he had no idea about this while at the same time defending his dept’s practices.

Just an awful mess. Then there’s this IRS/Tea Party mess, as Jon Stewart eloquently talks about here, validating so many of the nutjob right-wing conspiracy theories.

When do we get the administration we were promised in 2008, Mr. President?

**Next, we’ve all used Facebook, and most of us get frustrated at the site’s constant changes and supposed “upgrades” to its site.
So this really cool video spoofs what it would look like if Facebook updated your life.
I laughed quite a bit.

kanardallen

**Finally, a beautiful and heartbreaking story about a 10-year-old New Orleans boy named Ka’Nard Allen, who in his brief life has been shot twice, and seen two relatives killed as well. Ka’Nard was injured in the Mother’s Day parade shootings in New Orleans (which got very little play in the mainstream media, probably because it didn’t involve missing white women), and he’s finding it really, really hard to be a kid.
Reporter Danielle Dreilinger does what great reporters do when dealing with a story like this: Get out of the way and just let the facts, and the boy, speak for himself.
A wonderful story that made me want to buy this kid some ice cream and give him a hug.

 

12 hours at the U.S. Open make me deliriously happy. And a political video that may move you

I turned 37 two weeks ago.
And yet, every single time I walk through the gates of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY, I turn back the clock 30 years.
I become a 7-year-old again. I want to do everything, see everyone, and run around like a kid set loose in Willy Wonka-ville, for as many hours as they’ll let me stay.

Tuesday, that number of hours was 12. My fiancee, my mother, and stepfather all arrived around 11 a.m. for a sensational day of tennis, the second day of the 2012 Open (God bless her, my wonderful bride-to-be stuck it out with me until 9 p.m. and was a total trooper as I schlepped her around from court to court, only leaving because she had to go home and do some work. Mom and stepdad pooped out around 4 p.m. But hey, they’re no spring chickens anymore. I digress.)

Many, many thoughts on my mind from today as I sit down to write this, including…

— The single best thing about the Open in the early days of the tournament is getting to walk around the outside courts and literally stand five feet from where top pros are competing. You don’t get that in ANY other sport.
At one point Tuesday I was in the first row for a doubles match involving great American comeback story Brian Baker, and a serve ricocheted off a racket and flew right at me.
With the dexterity and timing I rarely showed in the Commack North Little League, I snagged it with my left hand, drawing a few cheers from my fellow spectators. Sadly, as is the rule in tennis, I had to throw the ball back to the ballboy.

— Speaking of ball boys and ball girls, how bizarre is this? During my match tour on Tuesday (I saw parts of 12 matches), I saw not one but two ballpersons who had prosthetic limbs. One male, one female, both who seemed to have no trouble bouncing around and performing all ballperson duties. Never seen a ballperson without two natural legs, and now I saw two in one day. Crazy.

— Another awesome moment: After the aforementioned doubles match featuring Brian Baker, I was on line for the bathroom near the court and saw a white-haired guy with a “Player guest” credential and the last name Baker. Yep, it was Brian Baker’s Dad Stephen, and because I’m me, I chatted him up before we got to the urinals.
He was super nice and thrilled his son was getting the chance to play at the Open again.
Again, I ask you: You think you ever run into Derek Jeter’s dad waiting to pee at Yankee Stadium? This is why the U.S. Open rules.

— Most dramatic singles match we witnessed Tuesday was between two players you’ve never heard of, Fabio Fognini and Edouardo-Roger Vasselin. Again on an outer court, we watched the end of the fifth set, both players fighting for a few thousand dollars a win would provide. It was competition at its finest, and the 75 or so people huddled around the fence watching were enthralled.

— Jack Sock. I’ve mentioned his name a few times on the blog before (he’s on the right, above), and the young American phenom (he’s 19) scored a huge win in doubles Tuesday, as he and partner Steve Johnson beat the No. 1 seeds. This kid is a future star; he won his first singles match Monday and is back in action Thursday.

— Really impressive wins from famous people: Jo-Willie Tsonga, Venus Williams (though that dress was, um, weird) and Andy Roddick. Impressive win from a future star: Sloane Stephens (above in photo). She can really, really play and has a great personality.

Bad losses: Christina McHale, a young American ranked No. 21. Blew a winnable match.

— Finally, cell phones and tennis matches. People, is it really that hard to turn the damn thing to vibrate when you go watch a tennis match? Three times Tuesday a phone went off during a point. Just makes me mad.

But only for a moment. It’s hard to stay mad when you’re a kid in a candy store. God I love the U.S. Open.

**OK, time for something else. This was definitely unusual; a political parody video set to the tunes from “Les Miserables,” about Barack Obama. Weirdly compelling.

Rules for men in a public bathroom (women, read this!). Obama and Jimmy Fallon “slow jam” the news. And a brave college kid opens up about his tragic past

Women, there are some things you’ll just never understand about men.
How we can sit there for 20 minutes listening to you talk about your day and then have no idea what you just said.
How we can stay up at 2 a.m. flipping through 57 movie channels hoping to see someone naked.
These are the kinds of questions there are no answers to, ladies. But today, I will do my best to answer one of your queries that has long gone unanswered:

What the hell are the rules for men in public bathrooms? Glad you asked. Because there are many.
I turn it over to the fine people at goodmenproject.com, who have broken down the 7 rules of men’s bathroom etiquette.
I have studied this document thoroughly, and I can tell you that all of these rules are 100 percent true. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of Rule No. 1 and Rule No. 4 here; these are unbreakable.

Ladies, you’re welcome. And if you have any further questions, I’m here to help.

**I don’t have too many rules on this blog, but anytime a sitting President of the United States takes part in a late-night comic’s skit and pulls it off well, I’m gonna put it here. Mr. Obama was on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” the other night, and along with Fallon, the POTUS “slow-jammed” the news. Check it out…

**Finally, I urge you strongly to read this column. Matt Watts is a graduating senior at the University of Florida, and a writer for the school’s newspaper, The Daily Alligator. He’s a little older than most students, and upon his farewell from the paper, he penned one of the most brutally honest, brave and eloquent columns I”ve ever read from a college student.

I almost hate to give away what he’s writing about, but maybe it’ll make you more likely to click: A few years ago, Watts’ mother told his father she wanted a divorce. He responded by shooting her, point-blank, in the face at the family home.

It’s a tragedy beyond comprehension, yet Watts beautifully puts it into prose here.
What a wonderful piece of writing.