Obama-era techies weigh staying under Trump
An impassioned debate is raging among software engineers, designers and other techies as to whether they want to stay in Washington under Donald Trump.
While some high-ranking tech staffers in the federal ranks say they’re not going anywhere, others worry that staying could put them in a tough spot, especially if the new administration asks them to work on projects at odds with their values.
It’s “a brutal line for some of us to walk,” said one senior tech specialist in the federal government, who would only speak without being named. The specialist said staffers are caught between “serving the public in ways that are obviously still very much needed,” versus “serving a person — and a ‘regime’ — who, for some of us, is fundamentally disrespectful of our existence.”
“The arguments are really clear,” says Anil Dash, a New York City entrepreneur whose commentary is widely followed in the tech industry. “The one side is, ‘You came to serve and there’s still a need.’ The other is, ‘Do we legitimize this administration?'”
Dash says he has stopped recommending that people in tech join the U.S. Digital Service, but that he also sees little upside to those already on the federal payroll leaving now.
People open to staying include Rob Cook, a former Pixar executive who just three weeks ago began a three-year appointment as the head of the Technology Transformation Service, a branch of the General Services Administration created this summer to reinvent how the federal government buys and builds technology. “If it’s important, it’s important for all administrations,” Cook says.
Cook’s view that civil servants serve regardless of who occupies the Oval Office has its adherents. But among the rank and file in the federal tech service, conversations are swirling. They’re weighing whether those who joined the Obama administration to apply the thinking of the so-called civic tech movement — the idea that modern digital tools can create a government more responsive to citizens — would be guilty of aiding a president whose policies and politics many of them utterly oppose.
Obama created the Digital Service as what he called a tech “SWAT team” after being burned by the failed launch of HealthCare.gov. He has tapped that team of technology experts to execute some of his policy priorities, such as making it easier for would-be immigrants to the U.S. to track their applications online. Read the rest of this entry »
President Obama on Thursday will welcome Donald Trump to the White House.
The meeting, which seemed improbable just 72 hours ago, will likely stand as one of the most humbling moments of Obama’s presidency.
Trump rose to political stardom in Obama’s first term by questioning his birthplace, spurring Obama to label him a “carnival barker.” The feud carried over into this year’s campaign, where Obama repeatedly described Trump as unfit for the Oval Office.
Now Obama must begin to hand the keys to the White House to a leader who has pledged to unravel much of his legacy, from ObamaCare to environmental protections to Wall Street reform and the Iran nuclear deal.
“I’m not saying it’s going to be an easy meeting,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.
Dark clouds hung over the White House the day before Trump’s visit, mirroring the mood inside the executive mansion.
But the sky cleared before Obama entered the Rose Garden Wednesday afternoon to put a positive spin on the results.
The president recalled a video he recorded on election night, in which he reminded the country that “the sun would come up in the morning” no matter who won.
“That is one bit of prognosticating that actually came true,” he said. “The sun is up. And I know everybody had a long night. I did as well.
“But the day after, we have to remember that we’re actually all on one team.”
While Obama emphasized the importance of a smooth transition and a unified American government, there was no mistaking the pain felt by those on hand.
Dozens of shell-shocked staffers filed into the Rose Garden to watch the statement, including Valerie Jarrett, Denis McDonough and Susan Rice — all members of the president’s inner circle.
Obama’s team gave him an ovation that lasted for more than a minute after Vice President Biden and he returned to the Oval Office arm in arm.
No two-term president did more than Obama to ensure the election of his preferred successor in Clinton. But her colossal failure on Election Day could result in much of his legacy being wiped away. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] Krauthammer: China and Russia Think the U.S. under Obama ‘Does Not Earn Any of Their Respect’Posted: September 6, 2016
Taking a question about the conspicuous absence of a mobile staircase for Air Force One when Obama landed in China, Charles Krauthammer said this indignity was more than merely a “microaggression” for the experienced Chinese.
‘The President was Jet Lagged, Cranky’: NBC’s Fred Francis Defends Obama’s Testy G20 Press Conference on #mediabuzz with Howard KurtzPosted: November 22, 2015
“I don’t believe that the president will have the opportunity to meet with meet one-on-one with Ahmed Mohamed.”
— White House press secretary Josh Ernest
Charlie Spiering reports:
…It appears that President Obama may not meet personally with Texas student Ahmed Mohamed at tonight’s Astronomy Night at the White House, according to White House aides.
“I don’t believe that the president will have the opportunity to meet with meet one-on-one with Ahmed Mohamed,” Earnest confirmed during the White House press breifing. He explained to reporters that there would be “several hundred” students and teachers and scientists attending the event.
Mohamed still plans to join the group of children who attend the evening event, but he might not end up with a photograph with the president. Obama is expected to deliver remarks at the event, but will not likely remain for the duration of the event….(read more)
Jeremy Page reports: The head of the secretive bodyguard unit that protects Chinese President Xi Jinping made a rare foray into the public spotlight on Friday, being put on the guest list for the state dinner at the White House.
The official guest list for the event names “His Excellency Wang Shaojun,” identifying him as “Chief, Central Security Bureau” among the invited attendees for the dinner, which followed Mr. Xi’s summit meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama earlier in the day.
Maj. Gen. Wang’s appointment to the bodyguard post has never been announced publicly by Chinese authorities, although Hong Kong media reported it in March, citing anonymous sources. The White House list confirms Maj. Gen. Wang’s position within an inner circle of trusted aides and advisers to Mr. Xi who see him almost every day and play an increasingly important role in Chinese politics.
The Central Security Bureau, also known as the Central Guard Bureau, is thought to command several thousand elite troops who protect top leaders and their families, according to experts on the Chinese military.
Its commander has always occupied a politically sensitive and influential position, given the bureau’s access to the top leadership. The post is considered to have become more so since Mr. Xi launched an anticorruption campaign that has led to the detention of more than 30 generals and several senior civilian Communist Party figures. Read the rest of this entry »
Aryn Baker reports: Despite longstanding family ties to Kenya, U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Nairobi—the first by a serving U.S. President—has been largely an official affair, defined by bilateral meetings and entrepreneurship conferences.
That all changed on Sunday, when he addressed Kenyan youth at a sports stadium and spoke from the heart. As his convoy turned into Nairobi’s SafariCom Arena, he finally received the exuberant welcome that security precautions had all but denied him since his arrival two nights prior.
Crowds of men, women and children, some waving flags and banners welcoming him back to his father’s homeland, thronged the highway. Inside the arena, some 4,500 students, government officials and civil society leaders jumped to their feet as Obama’s half sister, Auma Obama, introduced a man who really had no need for introduction. By the time Obama took the podium, the crowd was ecstatic. “I love you!” shouted a member of the audience. “I love you too,” Obama said to the crowd.
Part state address, part commencement speech, Obama’s 40-minute talk started with a personal reminiscence of his first trip to Kenya in 1998, when he was a young law student seeking to learn more about his roots.
On that trip, he said, the airline lost his bags. “That doesn’t happen on Air Force One,” he joked. Read the rest of this entry »
“Obama entered the presidency trailing clouds of intellectual self-regard. His carefully cultivated persona was of a uniquely thoughtful, judicious, deliberative, evidence-driven man comfortable with complexity. The protracted consideration of Keystone supposedly displayed these virtues.”
“Now, however, it is clear that his mind has always been as closed as an unshucked oyster.”
— George Will
Photo of the Day: President Obama Views Border Crisis From Window of Air Force One, Attends Fundraiser in TexasPosted: July 9, 2014
Obama calls on Dallas friends for Democratic fundraiser
Tickets for the dinner ranged from $10,000 to the maximum allowed, $32,400
…Aberly, the hostess, has been a top bundler for Obama, raising more than $1 million for his two White House runs. She also has given roughly $500,000 over the last decade to assorted Democratic causes, plus $100,000 last fall to Planned Parenthood.
Obama spoke in a grand two-story dining room at the Aberly-Lebowitz home, a 12,000-square-foot, northwest Dallas mansion that’s appraised on the tax rolls for $10.1 million. Read the rest of this entry »
Matthew Boyle reports: New Air Force documents show that the tab to taxpayers for recent trips President Obama and his family took to Africa and Honolulu was nearly $16 million – and that’s just for the flights.
The documents obtained by activist group Judicial Watch show the Africa trip required 35.5 flight hours. At a cost of $228,288 per flight hour, the total cost was a staggering $8,104,224.
For the Obamas’ Christmas vacation in Honolulu, starting in December 2013 and ending in January 2014, the documents, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, show the first family accumulated 36.9 total flight hours. At a cost of $210,877 per flight hour, the flight costs alone for that trip totaled $7,781,361.30, according to the Air Force documents.
Breitbart.com EXCLUSIVE: Matthew Boyle reports: President Barack Obama has spent more time traveling abroad than other U.S. president in history at this point in their presidencies, according to a forthcoming study from the National Taxpayer Union Foundation (NTUF) provided exclusively to Breitbart News ahead of its public release.
“The most internationally well-traveled President, through five years, is also flying the most expensive-to-operate Air Force One to date.”
NTUF wrote. After five years in the White House, Obama has taken 31 trips for a total of 119 days abroad. At that point in George W. Bush’s presidency, Bush had taken 28 trips for 116 days, while Bill Clinton had taken 27 trips for 113 days. Ronald Reagan, after five years, had taken 14 trips for 73 days while Richard Nixon had taken 12 trips for 60 days after five years in the White House and Lyndon Johnson took 10 trips for 34 days at the half-decade mark. Dwight Eisenhower took 8 trips for 31 days after five years in the White House.
Citing a recent report in the Washington Examiner that found through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that taxpayers are on the hook for about $228,288 per Air Force One flight hour in 2013, a 27 percent increase from the previously confirmed cost of $179,750 per fight hour that NTUF used in its last study, the taxpayer watchdog concludes that Obama’s flights have cost taxpayers more than any other president.
President Obamas Colossal Media Blunder
By Bill Frezza— Forbes
President Obama has gone all-in trying to get Republicans to blink and serve up another round of tax increases in lieu of the looming spending sequester. Eschewing talks with Congress or any pretense of leadership, he is instead flying around the country burning $180,000 an hour on Air Force One laying out a parade of horribles that will descend upon us if the growth of federal spending were reduced by one iota.
Why is he doing this? Because the mainstream media are lapping it up. Poisoned meat coming to grocery shelves near you! Air traffic grinds to a screeching halt! Fires, murder, and mayhem in the streets as first responders are laid off! No visits to the Washington Monument! OK, it all makes for good copy.
But what would happen to the media narrative if the Republicans don’tcollapse into a puddle of cowardice and the sequester were to actually stick? Imagine the stories if Obama, in an attempt to turn public opinion against his political opponents, were to concentrate spending cuts on the most visible and critical government functions. Party organs like The New York Times or MSNBC might buy into that ploy, but what do you think will run in the independent press right alongside the photos of two-hour airport security lines?
My bet is you’ll see stories about the bottomless pit of waste, fraud, pork, cronyism, malinvestment, and idiocy that characterize so much of business as usual in Washington. With a glut of examples a mere Google search away, it won’t be long before even the most disengaged voter—facing some Obama-generated inconvenience and having these stories shoved in his face—asks, “What do you mean I can’t get my passport renewed? Couldn’t they fire Obama’s $100,000 a year dog trainer instead?” And if this phony “austerity” is imposed on the rest of us, how do you think the public will react to the First Lady’s next multi-million dollar vacation?
Taxpayers spent $1.4 billion dollars on everything from staffing, housing, flying and entertaining President Obama and his family last year, according to the author of a new book on taxpayer-funded presidential perks.
In comparison, British taxpayers spent just $57.8 million on the royal family.
Author Robert Keith Gray writes in “Presidential Perks Gone Royal” that Obama isn’t the only president to have taken advantage of the expensive trappings of his office. But the amount of money spent on the first family, he argues, has risen tremendously under the Obama administration and needs to be reined in.
Gray told The Daily Caller that the $1.4 billion spent on the Obama family last year is the “total cost of the presidency,” factoring the cost of the “biggest staff in history at the highest wages ever,” a 50 percent increase in the numbers of appointed czars and an Air Force One “running with the frequency of a scheduled air line.”
“The most concerning thing, I think, is the use of taxpayer funds to actually abet his re-election…”
via The Daily Caller.