Fatal shootings of police officers far less common under Obama than under Reagan

At this point in Ronald Reagan’s presidency, 576 police officers had been shot and killed. So far in Barack Obama’s presidency, the number is 314. These figures come from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. So much for the nonsense we hear from the right-wing noise machine.  ...

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It seems that Barack Obama is much less a narcissist than Ronald Reagan was

In a  comment I ran across on Facebook yesterday, an acquaintance of mine declared in familiar — and grossly mistaken — right-wing fashion that President Obama “is a narcissist.” What a laugh. Of course, there’s at least a whiff of racism in that narcissism rap against Obama. It suggests that the black man in the White House is a bit uppity. But never mind that angle. Let’s focus instead on the roots of the narcissism charge against Obama and the lack of evidence to support it. This whole business arose a year or two ago when certain conservative pundits — Charles Krauthammer, George Will and Howard Portnoy, to name a few — complained that Obama has made too many references to himself in his public speeches and remarks. John McWhorter writes HERE: [Krauthammer’s] evidence? Obama apparently says “I” too much. He’s all into himself instead of the country he’s supposed to be running. “Count the number of times he uses ‘I’ in any speech, and compare that to any other president,” limns Doctor Krauthammer. “Remember when he announced the killing of Bin Laden? That speech I believe had 29 references to ‘I’—on my command, I ordered, as Commander-in-Chief I was then told, I this.” But as linguist Mark Liberman notes at Language Log, the president used the word “I” exactly 10 times in that speech. Meanwhile, when Ronald Reagan made a speech in an analogous situation about Lebanon and Grenada, he used “I” exactly, um, 29 times. Yet to Krauthammer, who coined the term “Reagan Doctrine,” the Gipper was what a president is supposed to be. Why can’t Obama refer to himself as much as Reagan? Krauthammer isn’t alone in bridling at our president’s referring to himself in public addresses. George Will has complained about this too, and yet the whole notion is complete BS. A useful example: Conservative writer Howard Portnoy claimed Obama was “I”-ing up the place ungraciously during his debates with Mitt Romney. In fact, in the first debate, Romney said “I” 227 times to Obama’s 122; in the second, 260 to Obama’s 176; and in the third, 198 times to Obama’s 108. Clearly, it isn’t that Obama refers to himself to any notable degree. It’s that these pundits rankle inwardly when they hear the man saying “I”—because they deeply dislike him. Then, too, when these right-wingers claimed that Obama’s statements revealed narcissim,  BuzzFeed News analyzed more than 2,000 presidential news conferences since 1929, looking for usage of first-person singular pronouns – “I,” “me,” “my,” “mine,” and “myself.” Just 2.5 percent of Obama’s total news-conference words fell into this category. Only Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt used them less often. While Obama has shied from the first-person singular, he’s leaned heavily on the first-person plural – “we,” “our,” “ourselves,” and “us.” In fact, he’s used it more than any president in the dataset.        ...

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The sight of black folks toting guns prompted Ronald Reagan to oppose open-carry

In my seven-plus years as a blogger, I’ve had a lot of fun debunking the many myths about Ronald Reagan widely believed among today’s right-wing Republicans. These people generally are surprised, for example, to learn that Reagan was an advocate of gun control. Even more surprising is the story of how the Gipper became such an advocate when he was governor of California in the late 1960s. The Black Panthers were a big deal in California in those days, and their militancy scared the hell out of much of the white populace. Especially frightening to white folks was the frequent sight of Black Panthers openly carrying firearms on the street — policing the police, as the Panthers put it. Well, of course, that was too much for the white establishment to bear, as we see HERE: Republicans in California eagerly supported increased gun control. Governor Reagan told reporters…that he saw “no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons.” He called guns a “ridiculous way to solve problems that have to be solved among people of good will.” …Reagan said he didn’t “know of any sportsman who leaves his home with a gun to go out into the field to hunt or for target shooting who carries that gun loaded.” [A law against open-carry], he said, “would work no hardship on the honest citizen.” The fear inspired by black people with guns also led the United States Congress to consider new gun restrictions… That article to which I’ve linked has lots of other good information on the history of guns in America.      ...

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Much of what passes for conservatism these days would have appalled even Ronald Reagan

On the 20th anniversary last month of Timothy McVeigh’s bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City, syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts wrote this: Twenty years ago, the idea of anti-government resistance seemed confined to a lunatic fringe operating in the shadows beyond the mainstream. Twenty years later, it is the mainstream, the beating heart of the Republican Party. And while certainly no responsible figure on the right advocates or condones what he did, it is just as certain that McVeigh’s violent antipathy toward Washington, his conviction that America’s government is America’s enemy, has bound itself to the very DNA of modern conservatism. Pitts received a lot of angry blowback from right-wingers for those remarks. But something has happened in the past few weeks suggesting that he was perhaps more accurate than not. He writes about it HERE: So it is, depending upon your religious outlook, a fortuitous coincidence or superfluous evidence of God’s puckish sense of humor that a few days later comes news of conservatives accusing the federal government of trying to take over the state of Texas. It seems the four branches of the U.S. military are gearing up for Operation Jade Helm 15, an eight-week training exercise across seven states. Right-wing conspiracy theorists online and on radio are claiming the exercise is actually a pretext for a federal takeover of the Lone Star State, with — get this — abandoned Walmarts to be used for processing of prisoners! Nor is this being laughed off by conservatives in positions of authority. To the contrary, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered the state guard to monitor the exercise to safeguard Texan’s “civil liberties.” Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert has asked the military to change the exercise. Senator and presidential wannabe Ted Cruz said he checked with the Pentagon, and while he accepts that it has no plans to conquer Texas — how magnanimous of him — “I understand the reason for concern and uncertainty” because the Obama administration “has not demonstrated itself to be trustworthy.” (Snip) No one wants to be compared to McVeigh. And I’ll repeat: No one in a position of responsibility embraces his prescription of terrorist violence. But it seems to me beyond argument that in the philosophical struggle for the soul of conservatism, he lost the battle and won the war. Much of what now passes for conservatism proceeds from extremes of government loathing that would have stunned Ronald Reagan...

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Right-wing foes of deal with Iran are like critics of Reagan’s nuclear treaty with Russians

From generation to  generation, pseudo-patriotic right-wingers are usually pretty much the same. They almost always prefer brinksmanship, if not outright war, to the negotiation of treaties with America’s foes.  Talk is for sissies in striped pants, they say.  The tough-guy approach is for real men, they say. As I write these words, right-wing pundits and politicians are calculating their angry responses to the deal reached today regarding nuclear policies in Iran. They’ll accuse President Obama and his foreign-policy team of selling out American interests, and they’ll call the president the worst man ever to hold that office. The rhetoric will be similar, if less heated and accusatory, to what it was when Ronald Reagan was inspired by an antiwar movie to reach a deal with the Soviet Union on what was called the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in the 1980s. Here’s an account of that matter I wrote a few years ago: Among his political aides, Reagan was known as an anecdotal thinker, a man of Hollywood who preferred the narrative arc of movies or homespun stories to the arcane prose of briefing books and analytical reports. Accordingly, key officials in Reagan’s presidential administration routinely prepared visual presentations to fill him in on complicated issues. As National Security Adviser William Clark once put it, “It was far more interesting [to Reagan] to see a movie on Indira Gandhi, covering her life, than sitting down with the usual tome the agency [the CIA] would produce. And that would spark questions from the president that I could fire back to the agency. I knew from Sacramento days [when Reagan was governor of California] that he liked celluloid. After all, it was his profession.” Therefore, when ABC aired  “The Day After,” a controversial movie about the effects of nuclear war on ordinary Americans in the city of Lawrence, Kan., Reagan was more receptive to the film’s emotional message than perhaps a more coldly analytical president would have been. When “The Day After” was broadcast on Nov. 20, 1983, it attracted an audience of 100 million people, still a record for a TV movie, and a number that no doubt was boosted by massive advance publicity and controversy. Some conservative critics argued, even without benefit of having seen the film, that it was part of a sinister plot to disarm America in preparation for a takeover by the Soviet Union. Ironically, by the time the right-wing campaign against the movie reached its fevered height in the weeks just before it aired, Reagan already had seen it in a private screening at the White House on Oct. 10 — and its impact on him was considerable, perhaps even profound. Reagan wrote this about the movie in his diary: “It is powerfully done, all $7 million worth. It’s very effective and left me greatly depressed. Whether it will be of help to ‘anti-nukes’ or not, I can’t say. My own reaction was one of our having to do all we can to have a deterrent & to see there is never a nuclear war.” Author Will Bunch has written that “in the second half of his administration, Reagan may have worked harder than any president before or since in trying to convert his imaginative vision that he personally could save the world from a nuclear Armageddon into...

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