The world is aflame with war and pestilence. The nation’s borders are dissolving. Our ancient and implacable enemies are ascendant in every quarter.

Yesterday I received this email from OFA, Barack Obama’s Ministry of Propaganda:

Malcolm —

Here’s something you might not know about President Obama: The man really loves pie.

And for as long as I’ve been filming with him, he always asks about the pie selection wherever we are. (He seems to prefer sweet potato and pecan, for what it’s worth.)

So, if I were on cake duty for President Obama’s birthday, I would skip the cake altogether and get some pie.

This year, OFA is doing something different for the President’s birthday — pick out the card that calls out to you, then sign your name.

I’ve been shooting video for a long time, and I’ve been very lucky to spend a good amount of time with President Obama over the years. He’s funny, gracious, kind, and — maybe most of all — appreciative.

He takes time to thank every single person, from the head honcho to the intern who is running errands — he cares about people.

So, I think this is the perfect time to celebrate him, and thank him for everything he’s done — from inspiring a movement of millions, to taking time to shake a hand or give a hug.

Take a moment to send well wishes to President Obama — pick your favorite card, then add your name to wish him a happy birthday:



Stefanie Spiegel
Video Team Director

Let’s sing him a song, too.

Related content from Sphere


  1. Here’s another song:

    Posted August 2, 2014 at 1:45 am | Permalink
  2. JK says

    Long as good ol’ Barry (or at least Stephanie) has your address anyway … well, reckon maybe I ought channel your physical in a direction?

    I’m figurin’ it’d fit right in to Wellfleet.

    Posted August 2, 2014 at 4:29 pm | Permalink
  3. the one eyed man says

    Suggesting that Obama is the beneficiary of a “personality cult” is an ad hominem attack on the 40-45% of Americans who have consistently supported the President since he first came to office: they don’t admire him for being a successful and thoughtful President, but instead are just fans at a Justin Bieber concert. Dismissing those who support him as besotted followers of a Pied Piper obviates the need to create an effective argument as to the validity of their complaints, or what alternative approach would have had better results. It also avoids the fact that those who the Obama haters elected to office have unfailingly failed at even the most basic tasks of governance, and instead cling to the same playbook: complain loudly, do nothing, then blame Obama for everything.

    It is those who detest the President who are obsessed with personality to the point of derangement, making claims ranging from silly to absurd: Obama is a narcissist, a slacker, a marionette dependent on a teleprompter; or he’s a weakling, he’s a tyrant, he violates the Constitution, he’s a terrorist sympathizer, he’s not as American as you or me (well, me, anyway: I was born here.) Wariness is appropriate when hearing this bilge, as “one must be wary to some extent, because of … visceral … loathing for (Obama) the man.”

    * * * * *

    It is a sign of advancing age when one looks fondly on a halcyon past which never existed. Hence the statements that “the world is aflame with war and pestilence;” “the nation’s borders are dissolving;” and “our ancient and implacable enemies are ascendant in every quarter,” are demonstrably false, in addition to being the result of distance rather than historical fact.

    War and pestilence are constants in the human condition, and have been with us since prelapsarian days. However the number of active wars and body counts is less than most, if not all, times for the past few centuries, and pestilence – which can be quantified in things like infant mortality, longevity, incurable diseases, hunger, and poverty rates – has been declining for decades, just as the number of peoples who live under self-rule has been increasing.

    Fewer illegals are entering the country, and more are being apprehended and deported, than in recent history, due in large part to spending on border security which has risen by 50% since the Deporter-in-Chief was elected.

    The world was a far more dangerous place from the time of the Reichstag fire to the collapse of the Berlin Wall, and from 9/11 to the end of the Iraq war, than it is now. Of our implacable enemies, Russia is an enfeebled regional power which no longer poses an existential threat; China is moving grudgingly away from authoritarianism as it depends on the West for its economic growth; the Germans, Japanese, and Eastern European countries are allies; radical Islam still exists, but core Al Qaeda has been decimated and there has not been a major terrorist attack on a Western country in years. For someone who grew up learning to hide under my school desk in case of nuclear attack, with neighbors hoarding goods and building bomb shelters after the Cuban missile crisis, the notion that somehow things are more perilous now than they were then is risible.

    * * * * *

    I have been too busy with work to respond to your post a week ago about Halbig, so I will let Jonathan Chait do it for me:

    Posted August 3, 2014 at 11:14 am | Permalink
  4. Ironically, the OEM failed to mention the only accomplishment Obama can take credit for — killing bin Laden with his 3-iron.

    Posted August 3, 2014 at 1:39 pm | Permalink
  5. Malcolm says

    “Deporter-in-Chief” is a fudge. Previously, those apprehended at the border and given the chance to return voluntarily were not counted as deportees; now, to inflate the numbers, they are.

    Mexico has recently created a safe-passage protocol to facilitate the flow of migrants to the U.S. border from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador (all of these countries, by the way, have extremely strict laws about illegal immigration). Instead of making clear that such people will have no chance of entry, Mr. Obama has been making it very clear that if Congress won’t grant expansive amnesty, he’ll just do it on his own – hardly a policy that can be expected to discourage those heading north. Meanwhile, despite the Secure Fence Act of 2006, we only manage to stop about half of illegal border crossings. If we did what Israel has done: build a truly secure fence, add some drones and regularly-spaced garrisons, outlawed remittances by illegal aliens, and got as serious about deportation as we seem to be about amnesty, we’d have a secure border in no time, at far less cost to the public fisc than hiring border agents and then instructing them not to do their jobs, or even speak to the press. (Eliminating chain migration and anchor babies would go even farther.)

    Even the New York Times and the Huffington Post refer to the recent surge at the border as a “flood” and a “crisis”.

    Yet in all this, with you it’s “nothing to see here, folks.” Your Panglossian blitheness never ceases to amaze me — at least until I remember its partisan origins.

    As for war and our implacable foes, you might have noticed that Libya, which Mr. Obama so kindly liberated (in a brazen overreach of his Constitutional powers), is now a failed state in the grip of warring Muslim warlords, jihadists are busy establishing a new caliphate throughout great swathes of Iraq and Syria, Boko Haram are waging daily assaults throughout west-central Africa (adding to the misery of the decades-long civil war in the region, which has already claimed millions of lives), and our principal ally in the Mideast is at war once again against the Muslim Brotherhood. In Afghanistan, the Taliban are trying to make up their minds about whether to wait until we pull out to reconquer the place, or to just go ahead and finish the job now. Ancient communities of Christians and Jews — some of them thousands of years old — are being uprooted and exterminated.

    Meanwhile, the Russians are energetically re-establishing their ancient claims, and China is expanding its military presence in the Pacific Rim — which in turn, has prompted in Japan a rising spirit of militarism.

    Pestilence? Well, the Guinea worm is on its way out, but Ebola appears to be on its way in. Maybe it’ll fizzle. Maybe not. It certainly doesn’t seem to be fizzling out anytime soon.

    As for Halbig, it’s pointless to argue about this. Yes, you might find some judges who will agree about penumbras and controversial intentions (although Gruber’s remarks about incentive simply could not have been any clearer, and language enabling Federal-exchange subsidies was dropped during revisions of the bill, something courts tend to take seriously), but stubborn fact remains that the law says what it plainly says, and grants the IRS no authority for such subsidies. No doubt SCOTUS will have the final say.

    Anyway: the point of this post was not to start a pissing contest about relative levels of crisis. It was that there is certainly enough afoot of grave national concern that to get a letter from the President gushing about how he loves pie, and what a wonderful, Dear Leader he is — really a kind of a saint, don’t you know! — is simply bizarre.

    “Narcissist”? I should say so: that, certainly, and a whole lot more. “Psychopath“, if you ask me.

    Posted August 3, 2014 at 2:10 pm | Permalink
  6. “The man really loves pie.”

    No doubt. Can’t say I blame him …

    Posted August 3, 2014 at 6:09 pm | Permalink
  7. the one eyed man says

    You didn’t get a letter from Obama. You got a mass email from his videographer, on behalf of a DNC subsidiary. While I really don’t care what kind of pie the President puts down his pie-hole, there is nothing bizarre about political operations sending fluff to their base. They all do it, and they all do it all the time.

    * * * *

    If Obama’s bombing of Libya is “a brazen overreach of his Constitutional powers,” would you say the same about Reagan’s bombing of Libya in 1986? Or the commitment of troops absent Congressional authorization in Korea and Vietnam, which were actual wars, with boots on the ground and tens of thousands of soldiers coming home in body bags?

    * * * *

    Libya is a mess, but it was a bigger mess under Qaddafi, who possessed WMD and financed terrorists worldwide. The Assads have been butchering Syrians for years. Nigeria – and much of the rest of Africa – continues their tradition of corruption, genocide, and inhumanity. These are areas which are troubled and have always been troubled. None of them are our implacable enemies, because none of them (except Qaddafi with WMD) come remotely close to posing a threat to us.

    Russia was once our largest geopolitical foe, but is now a corrupt kleptocracy with a big army, lots of oil, and not much else. Putin is a belligerent nationalist stirring up trouble in his back yard – but not ours – and he is no Stalin. He’s not even a Kruschev or a Brezhnev. Compared to them, Putin is a putz.

    * * * *

    The US has 6,634 miles of land border and 12,383 miles of sea border. Israel has 477 miles of land border and 170 miles of sea border. Israel is surrounded by enemies seeking to annihilate its residents, while our two neighbors are allies. There is no comparison between the border situations of America and Israel.

    * * * *

    The Times is correct: the influx of children is a flood and a crisis. It has nothing to do with a putatively porous border – the kids are surrendering to federal agents at the borders – but it is a grave humanitarian crisis. The relevant 2008 law mandates that the kids be given due process in immigration hearings before being deported. The President asked for funds to have the resources to execute the law – hire immigration judges, feed the kids while they are here, find temporary housing for them – but it was blocked in the Senate by a Republican filibuster and in the House by Republican inaction. (More precisely, Boehner tried to pass a law which was too right wing to ever pass the Senate, but he pulled the bill when it became clear that even that could not pass his caucus. He then demanded that the President exercise his executive authority, a few days after suing the President for exercising his executive authority. The House hurriedly passed a bill which was even more extreme than the one which couldn’t pass, and then left for a six week vacation. You can’t make this stuff up.)

    We know that desperate parents are sending their kids to the US to escape gang violence in three of the most violent countries on Earth. Kids are given three choices: join a gang, leave, or die. No mother would send her child to a foreign land, in a hazardous and life-threatening journey, with the knowledge that she may not ever see the child again, except in the desperate straits where the risks of staying are greater than the very grave risks of leaving. It has always been American policy to grant asylum to those who have the legitimate fear of persecution, which certainly applies to these kids.

    Years ago, in a post where you advocated invading Iraq, you wrote that there was a moral imperative for us to act because we knew that Saddam Hussein’s regime was, among many other atrocities, torturing children. You further wrote that if your neighbor was abusing his child, there is a moral necessity to act on the child’s behalf. You can carp about Obama until the cows come home, but what would you do? My view is that when a child comes running to you from a burning house, you don’t send him back to the burning house. Is your view that we should deport these kids, so that they can face the probability, if not the inevitability, of an early and violent death?

    Posted August 3, 2014 at 7:36 pm | Permalink
  8. I agree with the OEM. There must be a billion children world-wide who would have a much better life in the United States. Alas, the vast majority of these children could not possibly make it to our borders on their own.

    Therefore, it is incumbent on America to bring all these children here, using our vast navy to facilitate their journeys. The antiquated laws that govern immigration are completely unimportant compared to our moral obligation to save anyone who is having a hard time in their native country, especially the children, who I am sure would have preferred to be born to American parents.

    Once we have accomplished that, we should impose specific taxes on every American who is lucky enough to have a job to make sure that all those poor children have a chance to enjoy the holidays with presents and good cheer. And don’t forget, every child deserves to go to college. It’s the American way.

    Posted August 3, 2014 at 8:49 pm | Permalink
  9. Malcolm says

    The US/Mexican border, which is our only border under continuous invasion, is a little over 4 times the length of Israel’s total land border. The US GDP is over 64 times that of Israel’s. If Israel can secure its border, then so can we. Time and again we grant amnesties on condition of securing the border, and it never gets done. That it be secured has been mandated by acts of Congress. Yet somehow it never gets done.

    If Obama’s bombing of Libya is “a brazen overreach of his Constitutional powers,” would you say the same about Reagan’s bombing of Libya in 1986? Or the commitment of troops absent Congressional authorization in Korea and Vietnam, which were actual wars, with boots on the ground and tens of thousands of soldiers coming home in body bags?

    Why yes, I would. But the key difference is that when we attacked Libya in 1986, Libya was our enemy. When we did so in 2012, Libya was our ally.

    Libya is a mess, but it was a bigger mess under Qaddafi, who possessed WMD and financed terrorists worldwide.

    A “bigger mess”? Utter nonsense. Until we brought about its ruination, Libya was a functioning nation, and by African standards a very stable and prosperous one. Qaddafi had been brought to heel; he may have been a sonofabitch, but he had long since become our sonofabitch, and enjoyed regular visits and praise from our highest officials. Since we reneged on our side of that arrangement, and betrayed him in order to side with the ragtag assortment of tribal and jihadist hoodlums who finally murdered him, Libya has become a failed state in total chaos, and Qaddafi’s arsenals are now used all over the region by Islamist butchers, including those who are now overrunning much of the territory our own men and women bled and died for in Iraq.

    None of them are our implacable enemies, because none of them (except Qaddafi with WMD) come remotely close to posing a threat to us.

    First of all, being our implacable enemy doesn’t depend in any way on having the capacity to do us harm, so that’s kind a of a silly point. But there are permanent, structural antagonisms between the US and Russia, and the US and China, and even you cannot seriously imagine that neither of those two enormous, nuclear-armed nations has the capacity to do us harm.

    Then there is Islam, whose implacable antipathy to the West has never wavered over the fourteen centuries of its existence. It is currently wreaking very serious harm indeed in much of the world — both in the form of sanguinary jihad, and in the more insidious form of dawa jihad, which has already inflicted irreparable cultural and demographic harm to the ancient homelands of Europe, and seeks to do so everywhere in the dar al-Harb.

    The Immigration and Nationality Act provides broad discretion to the DOJ for the removal of illegal aliens. But instead of using this power actually to enforce the immigration laws and get illegal aliens out, this administration has chosen to diminish enforcement for category after category of aliens, thereby increasing, not reducing, the incentive for them to swamp our borders. The idea that Obama and his DOJ are steely enforcers, rather than pliant enablers, of illegal immigration is pure propaganda, as we can see in this report from the Center for Immigration Studies.

    Republicans blocked the Senate bill because the uncompromising Harry Reid, in a transparently partisan move, refused to allow any discussion of amendments. (The Republicans, rightly, wanted to include language that would ward off further executive expansions of amnesty.) The whole thing was doomed from the start, and Reid knew it. Its only real purpose was to make Republicans look bad.

    The 2008 law was intended to prevent sex trafficking. It excludes both Mexican nationals and children with relatives in the U.S. from the hearings it prescribes, precisely because it was intended not to encourage illegal immigration. (This was when we believed that Mexico would secure its own southern border, rather than explicitly making it one end of a fat pipeline to El Norte.) This provision of the law has been almost completely ignored.

    It tugs at the heartstrings to imagine that the solution for all the suffering in the world is simply for the US to fling open its borders (and its treasury) to every person in every dysfunctional nation on Earth, but it is a recipe for national suicide. It also makes a mockery of the idea of a nation under the rule of law (or even the very idea of a nation, for that matter) for any nation not to control its own borders, and not to manage the flow of human traffic across those borders in an orderly way, in accordance with clearly defined laws whose purpose is, first and foremost, to safeguard the well-being of the nation and its citizens.

    As regards Iraq: it is one thing to depose a brutal foreign tyrant for humanitarian reasons (and even that can, as we have seen, have terrible, unintended consequences). It is quite another — and a heinous abdication of a leader’s responsibility to his nation and people — unilaterally to encourage, aid and abet an invasion of the homeland one has sworn to defend.

    This poisonous idea – that borders themselves are somehow immoral, and that therefore every advanced nation on Earth is obliged to succumb to invasion, and ultimately displacement, by hordes of penurious, culturally remote, and often unassimilable aliens — is a recipe not for harmony, “social justice”, and the eradication of human suffering, but for the overwhelming and destruction of the few places in the world that actually are able to generate the prosperity and stability that the rest of the world depends on. It is also a recipe for an increasing fury and resentment on the part of the peoples being displaced and marginalized in their own homelands, as we are now beginning to see both here and abroad.

    Finally, as for that letter: OFA is nothing more or less than the Obama administration’s PR and fundraising mouthpiece. Can you really not see how cultlike and creepy that letter is? Can you imagine Washington, or Lincoln, or even Bill Clinton, having his people send out such a thing?

    Posted August 4, 2014 at 12:02 am | Permalink
  10. Malcolm says

    Amazing, by the way, how a simple post about a creepy letter reverts to the same, endless argument about every aspect of present-day politics…

    Posted August 4, 2014 at 1:06 am | Permalink
  11. Malcolm says

    And yes, referring back to your first comment, I do have a visceral loathing of Barack Obama. (I was slow on the uptake, though; even I found him rather appealing at first, until I began to see him for what he really is. Now, looking back, the idea that I could ever have been taken in by him, as you and so many others still are, shames and frightens me. He is an extraordinarily dangerous man.)

    So be as wary as you like. It’s a free country, for now at least.

    Posted August 4, 2014 at 1:23 am | Permalink
  12. Thank you for that, Malcolm. It is uplifting to know that reason and accountability are still alive, for now at least.

    Posted August 4, 2014 at 11:39 am | Permalink
  13. Après vous, le déluge …

    (If you catch my drift.)

    Posted August 4, 2014 at 11:53 am | Permalink
  14. JK says

    Pressed for time so …

    Posted August 4, 2014 at 12:33 pm | Permalink