Is it possible to die from an overdose of White House chutzpah?

September 4, 2015
No way!!

He said what?!?!

Because, man, Press Secretary Mouth of Sauron Josh Earnest is putting me at risk.

A little background: in the wake of the Obergefell ruling by the Supreme Court that forces the entire nation to permit same-sex marriages, there’s been some push-back by state governments and local officials who claim with some justification that this violates the religious liberty of local officials who view same-sex marriage as sinful. And, as a nation that often has granted exemptions for strongly held beliefs (conscientious objectors and military service, for example), a debate has grown about whether and how to accommodate these people. A county clerk in Kentucky brought the matter to a head recently:

A Kentucky county clerk who has become a symbol of religious opposition to same-sex marriage was jailed Thursday after defying a federal court order to issue licenses to gay couples.

The clerk, Kim Davis of Rowan County, Ky., was ordered detained for contempt of court and later rejected a proposal to allow her deputies to process same-sex marriage licenses that could have prompted her release.

Instead, on a day when one of Ms. Davis’s lawyers said she would not retreat from or modify her stand despite a Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, Judge David L. Bunning of United States District Court secured commitments from five of Ms. Davis’s deputies to begin providing the licenses. At least two couples planned to seek marriage licenses Friday.

(Good on the NYT for mentioning later in the article that Davis is a Democrat, though they did bury that fact a bit.)

To be brief (and I’m sure you want me to get to the point), I think Ms. Davis is in the wrong here, even though I sympathize with her concerns about her religion. (1) I think the judge, who himself disagrees with Obergefell, was left with no choice but to jail her for her obduracy. It may be a small case, but the rule of law was at issue here. Granting her an exemption while letting her deputies issue licenses to gay couples would not have been sufficient; she is, after all, en elected official sworn to uphold the law and, like it or not, Obergefell is the law. That is her obligation as a public servant. The correct action would have been for her to resign in protest and in her resignation letter make her objections clear.

So, naturally, this became a national brouhaha –that NYT article was front page, for Pete’s sake– and, where there is national attention to be had, the White House has to weigh in. And they did so with this jaw-dropper:

The White House said today that the Kentucky county clerk taken into custody over her refusal to issue same-sex marriage licenses should obey the law just as President Obama does.

Press secretary Josh Earnest, asked at today’s briefing about the jailing of Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis for contempt, said “ultimately I think that this is something that the courts will weigh in on.”

But, he said, “the question of the rule of law” is at stake.

“And every public official in our democracy is subject to the rule of law. No one is above the law. That applies to the president of the United States and that applies to the County Clerk and Rowan County, Kentucky, as well,” Earnest said. “And that’s a fundamental principal of our democracy. In terms of how that applies to this particular case? That’s obviously something that a judge will have to decide. And I would not second guess it from here.”

I’m amazed that he didn’t choke to death from trying to keep from laughing here. I actually agree with Josh Earnest that the rule of law is at issue here. It’s a shame his boss doesn’t know the meaning of the words. Let’s consider just a few examples:

  • Obamacare waivers
  • Multiple far-reaching regulations (EPA, NLRB, FCC) issued with no statutory authority
  • Racially biased enforcement of our civil rights laws on voting
  • The Libya war, in violation of the War Powers Act
  • Operation Fast & Furious
  • Failure to produce budgets by the statutory deadline — or at all
  • Non-enforcement of our immigration laws
  • Ignoring the treaty clause of the Constitution
  • Ignoring congressional demands for information in violation of Congress’ oversight powers

All of this just screams “respect for the rule of law,” and I’m sure you can come up with others.

How Earnest avoided a lightning bolt from above for this one, I don’t know. I guess even God was gobsmacked.

via PJMedia

Footnote:
(1) For the record, I both support allowing same-sex marriage and I think Obergefell was a terrible decision.

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Is the White House press office hiding Obama’s #Benghazi photos, @PressSec?

December 24, 2014
American Blood, US Consulate, Benghazi

American Blood, US Consulate, Benghazi

That’s the accusation made by investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson:

“If you know how the White House works, a photographer is omnipresent,” Attkisson said. “He would have been there taking photographs in the Situation Room. He would have been taking photographs of the president that night. So we asked for the photos, which in my view, are public information. They are paid for with tax dollars, and they release them when they want them released and they are positive . The photo office indicated initially, this was probably in October or November 2012, that we could have the photos at the end of the day and that never materialized. They suddenly started referring us a White House deputy press secretary, Josh Earnest, who is now press secretary. And they said Josh would have to approve it, and he would never return a call or e-mail. We would try to maintain communication with him or try to make communication with him over a long period of time, and he wouldn’t even answer. We would go to the press, photographer’s office and say you have given us an impossible task, you have told us to talk to someone who will not talk to us. You need to give us another route to follow to try and get these photos, and they would say no, you have to talk to Josh Earnest. So that just went down a dead-end road…”

Attkisson’s right, this is public property and should be subject to Freedom of Information Act rules. And it’s not as if the White House has ever been shy about releasing photos of Obama in other situations. Quite the opposite. There are, for example, well-known photos of Obama observing the mission to assassinate Osama bin Laden. And, if you think back there were plenty of photos of President Bush and the White House staff dealing with the crisis of the 9-11 attacks.

So why none of President Obama on what was arguably one of the most dramatic nights of his administration, when Americans in the nation’s service were fighting for their lives?

It’s just a guess, but I suspect the reason is that their revelation would seriously embarrass Obama, who (again, guessing) left it to Panetta and JCS Chairman General Dempsey to handle things while he “arranged things” with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in order to preserve their deal. Or maybe he just didn’t think it was important and just went to bed, which in its own way would be equally embarrassing. So, just as the LA Times sits on the Rashid Khalidi tape, the White House press office has deep-sixed those photos (1) to spare Obama public disgrace.

Someday they’ll come out. Just not while Obama is in office and Josh Earnest is his press secretary.

via Max Abrahms

Footnote:
(1) If they exist. Admitting they don’t would be just as bad for Obama, since it would also be an admission that he wasn’t doing anything worth recording that night.