These are my news headlines for February 21st through February 22nd:
With Axelrod At NBC News, The Marriage Of Media And Politics Becomes Complete – What’s more, Team Obama has declared it has no intention of dismantling its campaign apparatus post re-election. Put Axelrod in the catbird seat at a news outlet and the “narrative” continues. Combine that with Team Obama’s masterful manipulation of journalists, its command of social media, and an ugly picture emerges of a press indistinguishable from the political establishment.This has happened in banana republics, but never in a Western democracy. Already it’s making old-school journalists who value news gathering over politics, such as the New York Times’ Roger Cohen, ABC’s Ann Compton and the Washington Post’s David Ignatius, uncomfortable. The one thing that will stop it is a press that won’t cooperate. So where is that press?
Budget hawks question Pentagon’s doomsday scenarios – But perhaps the biggest example of the Washington Monument maneuver is coming from the Defense Department, where it goes by another name. Over many decades of defense budget battles, the Pentagon has often used a tactic known as a “gold watch.” It means to answer a budget cut proposal by selecting for elimination a program so important and valued — a gold watch — that Pentagon chiefs know political leaders will restore funding rather than go through with the cut.So now, with sequestration approaching, the Pentagon has announced that the possibility of budget cuts has forced the Navy to delay deployment of the carrier USS Harry S. Truman to the Persian Gulf. With tensions with Iran as high as they’ve ever been, that would leave the U.S. with just one carrier, instead of the preferred two, in that deeply troubled region.
What Unites Obama’s Coalition — and What Could Divide It – Overall, the survey put Obama’s approval rating at 51 percent — almost exactly replicating his share of the vote last November. For all of his key groups, his approval ratings today remain close to his vote shares against Republican Mitt Romney. The survey put his approval among African-Americans at 91 percent (compared to his vote of 93 percent in November), among Hispanics at 68 percent (compared to 71 percent in November), college-educated white women at 48 percent (compared to 46 percent), and adults ages 18 to 29 at 57 percent (compared to 60 percent). Considering that several percent of those in each group described themselves as undecided on Obama’s performance, those numbers suggest almost no change from his support in the election.
Noonan: Government by Freakout – The president’s sequester strategy is like Howard Beale in “Network”: “Woe is us. . . . And woe is us! We’re in a lot of trouble!”It is always cliffs, ceilings and looming catastrophes with Barack Obama. It is always government by freakout.
That’s what’s happening now with the daily sequester warnings. Seven hundred thousand children will be dropped from Head Start. Six hundred thousand women and children will be dropped from aid programs. Meat won’t be inspected. Seven thousand TSA workers will be laid off, customs workers too, and air traffic controllers. Lines at airports will be impossible. The Navy will slow down the building of an aircraft carrier. Troop readiness will be disrupted, weapons programs slowed or stalled, civilian contractors stiffed, uniformed first responders cut back. Our nuclear deterrent will be indefinitely suspended. Ha, made that one up, but give them time.Mr. Obama has finally hit on his own version of national unity: Everyone get scared together.
Is President Obama overplaying sequestration hand? – President Barack Obama’s greatest adversary in the latest budget battle isn’t the Republican leadership in Congress — it’s his confidence in his own ability to force a win.He has been so certain of his campaign skills that he didn’t open a line of communication with House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell until Thursday, a week before the spending ax hits. And when they did finally hear from Obama, the calls were perfunctory, with no request to step up negotiations or invitations to the White House.
Fewer Americans Getting Health Insurance From Employer – Fewer Americans reported having employer-based health insurance in 2012 than did in 2008, 2009, and 2010, but at 44.5% it is unchanged from 2011. At the same time, more Americans continue to report having a government-based health plan — Medicare, Medicaid, or military or veterans’ benefits — with the 25.6% who did so in 2012 up from 23.4% in 2008.
A Tax By Another Name – Writing in the New York Times yesterday, Yuval Levin made the case for means-testing Social Security and Medicare. As you’d expect from Yuval the case is well made and elegantly thought-through. It’s also, if I may respectfully say so, misguided. Partly as a consequence of the refusal to make consumption take its fair share of the tax load, the US already taxes income on a pretty progressive basis (even more so, I suspect, if, just for the sake of argument, you excluded the very richest from the equation—highly taxed wage income generally makes up a lower percentage of their total take). Means-testing these two programs would only tighten the screws still further.
Charles Krauthammer: Immigration — the lesser of two evils – The president suggested he would hold off introducing his own immigration bill as long as bipartisan Senate negotiations were proceeding apace — until his own immigration bill mysteriously leaked precisely as bipartisan Senate negotiations were proceeding apace.A naked political maneuver and a blunt warning to Republicans: Finish that immigration deal in Congress, or I’ll propose something I know you can’t accept — and flog the issue mercilessly next year to win back the House.
These are my links for October 9th through October 11th:
Biden: ‘You Ever See Me Rope-a-Dope?’– Joe Biden, on his way to tonight’s vice presidential debate in Kentucky, asks the press, “You ever see me rope-a-dope?”From the pool report:Vice President Biden arrived at about 10:50 a.m. at New Castle Airport. He climbed out of a gray SUV, greeted some military (see below) and then walked toward the press gathered near the wing.Asked about tonight’s debate he said, “Looking forward to it.”
Asked about his strategy, whether it was rope-a-dope, he responded:
“You ever see me rope-a-dope?”
A bunch of Bidens are joining the VP, including: sons Hunter and Beau, daughter Ashley, sister Valerie. Debate partner Rep. Chris Van Hollen and former Sen. Ted Kaufman are on board, as is Shaleigh Murray, who played moderator Martha Raddatz in debate practice.
GOP Turnout Effort Tests Obama Campaign’s Prowess– Republicans are narrowing Democrats’ organizational advantage in critical swing states, but the latter say they are on track to improve upon President Obama’s 2008 early-vote count.Now that the election has moved full-throttle into get-out-the-vote mode, both campaigns are tracking the daily tabulation of absentee ballots requested in key battlegrounds along with the number of early votes already cast. In half of the most critical swing states — Colorado, Florida and North Carolina — Republicans have requested more absentee ballots than have their counterparts. And in Nevada, the two sides are nearly even.
ObamaCare: Health Care Direction Awaits Verdict of Presidential Race– Joyce Beck, who runs a small hospital and network of medical clinics in rural Nebraska, is reluctant to plan for the future until voters decide between President Obama and Mitt Romney. The candidates’ sharply divergent proposals for Medicare, Medicaid and coverage of the uninsured have created too much uncertainty, she explained.“We are all on hold, waiting to see what the election brings,” said Ms. Beck, chief executive of Thayer County Health Services in Hebron, Neb.When Americans go to the polls next month, they will cast a vote not just for president but for one of two profoundly different visions for the future of the country’s health care system. With an Obama victory on Nov. 6, the president’s signature health care law — including the contentious requirement that most Americans obtain health insurance or pay a tax penalty — will almost certainly come into full force, becoming the largest expansion of the safety net since President Lyndon B. Johnson pushed through his Great Society programs almost half a century ago.If Mr. Romney wins and Republicans capture the Senate, much of the law could be repealed — or its financing cut back — and the president’s goal of achieving near-universal coverage could take a back seat to Mr. Romney’s top priority, controlling medical costs.
Given the starkness of the choice, historians and policy makers believe this election could be the most significant referendum on a piece of social legislation since 1936, when the Republican Alf M. Landon ran against Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal programs. (Nearly eight decades have passed, but the debate sounds strikingly familiar: Landon described the Social Security Act, passed in 1935, as “the largest tax bill in history” and called for its repeal.)
California gas prices are a warning– California’s record gasoline prices and long service station lines are a warning to all of us about what green energy can do to our pocketbooks.On Monday, California gasoline cost $4.67 per gallon, compared with the $3.81 U.S. average. California’s environmental standards are the most stringent in the country, and Californians are paying the price.The price spike started with an August fire in Chevron’s Richmond refinery. Then, two other refineries, operated by Tesoro and Exxon Mobil, went down for maintenance. Because California requires different blends of gasoline from other states, and pipelines across the Rockies are limited, gasoline can’t be shipped in from elsewhere.On Sunday, in an attempt to lower gasoline prices, Gov. Jerry Brown suspended the environmental regulations that kept California prices above those in the rest of the United States.
Rove: The Dividends of Romney’s Debate Victory– How big an impact did Mitt Romney’s performance in last week’s debate have? Huge. Mr. Romney not only won the night, he changed the arc of the election—and perhaps its outcome. Surveys have him leading the RealClearPolitics average of polls for the first time since securing the GOP nomination in mid-April.Prior to Oct. 3, Mr. Romney trailed President Barack Obama by an average of 3.1 points in national polls tallied by RealClearPolitics. Since the debate, Mr. Romney now leads Mr. Obama in the RCP average by a point, 48.2% to 47.2%, and the bounce is likely to grow. By comparison, Sen. John Kerry was widely seen to have bested President George W. Bush in the first 2004 debate (held on Sept. 30 of that year), but he never led in the RCP average in October.In seven of the past nine presidential debate series, the challenger has gained more in the polls than the incumbent (or the candidate of the party in power). The first debate generally frames the series and establishes whether the bounce will be large or modest. Mr. Romney’s bounce is significant.
Greek Unemployment Rises Above 25 per cent– The unemployment rate in Greece rose to 25.1 percent in July, from 24.8 percent the month before, as the financial crisis continued to destroy jobs.Greece’s statistical authority says in a statement Thursday that 1.26 million Greeks were jobless in July, with more than 1,000 jobs lost every day over the past year.In the worst-affected 15-24 age group, unemployment was 54.2 percent.In July 2008, a year before Greece’s acute financial crisis broke, there were only about 364,000 registered unemployed.
Greece is surviving on international bailout loans, granted on condition of harsh austerity measures to curtail the country’s large budget deficits. The economy is set to enter a sixth year of recession in 2013.
CBS 5 Poll: Romney Gains 8 Points On Faltering Obama In California– The effects of President Barack Obama’s falter in the first debate with Mitt Romney are not just being felt in battleground states, according to KPIX-TV CBS 5?s latest tracking poll of California which shows Romney slicing eight points off Obama’s lead.Obama had led by 22 points in the CBS 5 tracking poll released four weeks ago. Obama now leads by only 14 points, an 8-point improvement for Romney. At the same time, the poll found U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s support for her re-election bid remained largely unchanged, month-on-month, suggesting that the erosion in Democratic support is not across-the-board, but contained to Obama. Unclear is whether the Obama erosion is fleeting or long-lasting.
11 Of Lance Armstrong’s Teammates Testified Against Him To The USADA– The USADA is releasing a full report of evidence that Lance Armstrong was doping during his cycling career.Eleven of Armstrong’s former teammates testified against the seven-time Tour de France winner saying he used performance enhancing drugs.The teammates who testified against Armstrong were: Frankie Andreu, Michael Barry, Tom Danielson, Tyler Hamilton, George Hincapie, Floyd Landis, Levi Leipheimer, Stephen Swart, Christian Vande Velde, Jonathan Vaughters, and David Zabriskie.
Lawyer who filed complaint has ties to multiple anti-ALEC groups– The lawyer who filed an IRS whistleblower complaint against the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) on behalf of a shadowy organization known as “Clergy Voice” has ties to Common Cause, the liberal government watchdog group and renowned ALEC foe.Marcus Owens, former director of the Exempt Organizations Division of the IRS from 1990 to 2000, filed a whistleblower complaint in July against ALEC, alleging the group was violating IRS tax law.“ALEC has deliberately and repeatedly failed to comply with some of the most fundamental federal tax requirements applicable to public charities,” Owens wrote in his complaint against the influential free-market group. “The information in this submission also suggests, quite strongly, that the conduct of ALEC and certain of its representatives violates other civil and criminal tax laws and may violate other federal and state criminal statutes as well.”As reported by the Free Beacon, the “grassroots” movement against ALEC is a well-coordinated campaign orchestrated by well-funded and often secretive progressive groups.
Barack Obama, VP debate moderator wedding guest– President Barack Obama was a guest at the 1991 wedding of ABC senior foreign correspondent and vice presidential debate moderator Martha Raddatz, The Daily Caller has learned. Obama and groom Julius Genachowski, whom Obama would later tap to head the Federal Communications Commission, were Harvard Law School classmates at the time and members of the Harvard Law Review.After TheDC made preliminary inquiries Monday to confirm Obama’s attendance at the wedding, ABC leaked a pre-emptive statement to liberal-leaning news outlets including Politico and The Daily Beast Tuesday, revealing what may have been internal network pressure felt just days before Raddatz was scheduled to moderate the one and only vice-presidential debate Thursday night.
Jack Welch: I Was Right About That Strange Jobs Report– Imagine a country where challenging the ruling authorities—questioning, say, a piece of data released by central headquarters—would result in mobs of administration sympathizers claiming you should feel “embarrassed” and labeling you a fool, or worse.Soviet Russia perhaps? Communist China? Nope, that would be the United States right now, when a person (like me, for instance) suggests that a certain government datum (like the September unemployment rate of 7.8%) doesn’t make sense.Unfortunately for those who would like me to pipe down, the 7.8% unemployment figure released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) last week is downright implausible. And that’s why I made a stink about it.Before I explain why the number is questionable, though, a few words about where I’m coming from. Contrary to some of the sound-and-fury last week, I do not work for the Mitt Romney campaign. I am definitely not a surrogate. My wife, Suzy, is not associated with the campaign, either. She worked at Bain Consulting (not Bain Capital) right after business school, in 1988 and 1989, and had no contact with Mr. Romney.
The Obama campaign and its supporters, including bigwigs like David Axelrod and Robert Gibbs, along with several cable TV anchors, would like you to believe that BLS data are handled like the gold in Fort Knox, with gun-carrying guards watching their every move, and highly trained, white-gloved super-agents counting and recounting hourly.
Let’s get real. The unemployment data reported each month are gathered over a one-week period by census workers, by phone in 70% of the cases, and the rest through home visits. In sum, they try to contact 60,000 households, asking a list of questions and recording the responses.
State Dept reveals new details of Benghazi attack– All was quiet outside the U.S. Consulate as evening fell on Benghazi and President Barack Obama’s envoy to Libya was retiring after a day of diplomatic meetings.There was no indication of the harrowing events that night would bring: assailants storming the compound and setting its buildings aflame, American security agents taking fire across more than a mile of the city, the ambassador and three employees killed and others forced into a daring car escape against traffic.Senior State Department officials on Tuesday revealed for the first time certain details of last month’s tragedy in the former Libyan rebel stronghold, such as the efforts of a quick reaction force that rushed onto the scene and led the evacuation in a fierce gun battle that continued into the streets. The briefing was provided a day before department officials were to testify to a House committee about the most serious attack on a U.S. diplomatic installation since al-Qaida bombed the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania 14 years ago.The account answers some questions and leaves others unanswered. Chief among them is why for several days the Obama administration said the assault stemmed from a protest against an American-made Internet video ridiculing Islam, and whether the consulate had adequate security.
State Department: No video protest at the Benghazi consulate– Prior to the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi late in the evening on Sept. 11, there was no protest outside the compound, a senior State Department official confirmed today, contradicting initial administration statements suggesting that the attack was an opportunistic reaction to unrest caused by an anti-Islam video.In a conference call with reporters Tuesday, two senior State Department officials gave a detailed accounting of the events that lead to the death of Amb. Chris Stevens and three other Americans. The officials said that prior to the massive attack on the Benghazi compound by dozens of militants carrying heavy weaponry, there was no unrest outside the walls of the compound and no protest that anyone inside the compound was aware of.
The liberal media loved Obama to death – It was in Denver one week ago that the long-running romance between Barack Obama and the national press — aka the “Slobbering Love Affair,” as Bernard Goldberg put it — hit the wall. The motel bill, unpaid these many long months and ages, at long last came due.
It had been the real thing, not a commonplace fling with your generic Democrat, but the love of a lifetime, the genuine article, the sum of all dreams: He was not just a Democrat, he was also a liberal. He was not just a liberal, he also biracial, also multinational; also hip, cool, and clever. He was themselves as they wanted to be. Like them, he was gifted at writing and talking (and, as it turned out, not much beyond that), like them, he stood up for Metro America; like them, he viewed the people outside it with a not-very-measured disdain. “I divide people into people who talk like us and people who don’t talk like us,” said David Brooks, speaking for all of them. “You could see him as a New Republic writer … he’s more talented than anyone in my lifetime … he IS pretty dazzling when he walks into a room.”Dazzled indeed, they turned on their old flames, Bill and Hillary Clinton. They dumped John McCain, with whom they had flirted; and when Romney appeared — rich, square, and looking like Dad in a mid-50s sitcom — it was clear the long knives would be out.
The LEFT melts down over Obama Debate Performance– Let me suggest something that many conservatives realized after the debate: Obama did not do that badly. For Obama. He was the same listless, droning, exhausted-of-ideas scold we have seen for at least two years now (and maybe three).He was Obama. This is what he is. He is not quick-witted. He is not, as I think I saw Mickey Kaus note, a wonk. He has never been a wonk, a detailed-policy guy.He is a guy who speaks vacuously of hopes and dreams and change and fairness.He always has been.
The problem, for the liberals, is not Obama. This is what you bought. This is your guy. It wasn’t his A game, but it was something close to his B+ game.
The problem was Romney, who was commanding, fluent, reasonable, articulate, sharp-witted, warm, occasionally funny, full of ideas, full of facts, full of thoughtful, detailed criticisms of Obama policy (who the hell expected him to bring up, as an afterthought, Dodd-Frank’s failure to specify what a “reasonably qualified” mortgage applicant was, and how that chilled lending? Obama sure didn’t!), and, therefore, ultimately, full of qualification for the job and yes, full of gravitas.
That’s the problem.
Not Obama. I repeat: This is who Obama is. He has never been this brilliant intellect and keen policy analysts liberals have, in their BubbleWorld, dreamed him as.
After Debate, Obama Protection Dam Breaks– President Obama might think sagging polls are his biggest post-debate problem. But it’s really people like Buzz Bissinger, Stacey Dash and Bill Maher showing it’s now acceptable in polite society to attack The One.In an eye-opening piece Monday on the Daily Beast, “Friday Night Lights” author and lifelong Democrat Buzz Bissinger announced he was voting for Romney.The tipping point, he wrote, “was last week’s debate in Denver,” which showed Obama out of energy and out of ideas. Obama is “no longer the chosen one. He is just too cool for school in a country desperate for the infectiousness of rejuvenation.”
Angst grows among Obama supporters– First came the nausea. Then came the anxiety.After months of watching Mitt Romney twist in the media glare, a growing number of President Barack Obama’s supporters — though confined for now to a noisy minority of liberals — are peering into the Obama-might-actually-lose abyss for the first time after last week’s disastrous first debate.
NASA – NASATV – RT @NASA on @SpaceX #Dragon capture: “Looks like we’ve tamed the Dragon. We’re happy she’s on-board with us.”
Rep. Issa closes in on Clinton on Libya– Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is setting his sights on his biggest political target yet: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is treading more carefully than he did with his investigation of Attorney General Eric Holder and the Fast and Furious gun-tracking program, which led to a House vote placing Holder in contempt.Issa has not called on Clinton to testify at a hearing Wednesday morning meant to investigate security lapses at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.Issa’s staff has also praised Clinton for vowing to cooperate with the investigation of how an attack on the consulate left U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other American diplomats dead.
“After dealing with the Department of Justice’s stonewalling in Operation Fast and Furious, the State Department and Secretary Clinton have been a breath of fresh air,” said Frederick Hill, a spokesman for Issa, in an interview with The Hill. “They pledged their cooperation when we
Protesters destroy an American flag pulled down from the U.S. embassy in Cairo September 11, 2012. Egyptian protesters scaled the walls of the U.S. embassy on Tuesday, tore down the American flag and burned it during a protest over what they said was a film being produced in the United States that insulted Prophet Mohammad. Reuters Photo
These are my links for September 12th through September 13th:
U.S. embassies attacked in Yemen, Egypt after Libya envoy killed– Demonstrators attacked the U.S. embassies in Yemen and Egypt on Thursday in protest at a film they consider blasphemous to Islam and American warships headed to Libya after the death of the U.S. ambassador there in related violence earlier in the week.Hundreds of Yemeni demonstrators broke through the main gate of the heavily fortified compound in eastern Sanaa, shouting “We sacrifice ourselves for you, Messenger of God”. Earlier they smashed windows of security offices outside the embassy and burned cars.”We can see a fire inside the compound and security forces are firing in the air. The demonstrators are fleeing and then charging back,” one witness told Reuters. A security source said at least 15 people were wounded, some by bullets. An embassy spokesman said its personnel were reported to be safe.
In Egypt, protesters hurled stones at a police cordon around the U.S. embassy in central Cairo after climbing into the embassy and tearing down the American flag. The state news agency said 13 people were injured in violence which erupted on Wednesday night after protests on Tuesday.
Islamist gunmen staged a military-style assault on the U.S. consulate and a safe house refuge in Benghazi, eastern Libya on Tuesday. The U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans died in the assault, carried out with guns, mortars and grenades. Eight Libyans were injured.
U.S. President Barack Obama vowed to “bring to justice” those responsible and the U.S. military moved two navy destroyers towards the Libyan coast, in what a U.S. official said was a move to give the administration flexibility for any future action against Libyan targets.
The End of the ‘New Beginning’ – Suddenly Obama’s foreign policy does look feckless– In his weekly address Saturday, President Obama observed yesterday’s anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and declared that “our country is stronger, safer and more respected in the world.” In our Friday column, after the president’s Democratic National Convention speech, we observed: “Conservatives tend to argue that the Obama foreign policy has been feckless and will lead to disaster. They may turn out to be right, but it’s no easier an argument to make than the Democratic economic case that Obama’s policies will produce prosperity real soon now.”After the events of Sept. 11, 2012, the argument is easier to make.At the U.S. Embassy in Cairo yesterday, what “appeared to be a genuinely spontaneous unarmed mob angered by an anti-Islam video said to have been produced in the United States,” according to the New York Times, gathered to protest. According to a timeline prepared by Slate’s Dave Weigel, the embassy responded by issuing an apologetic statement:
The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims–as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.
The embassy reiterated the message in a series of tweets, some of which, TalkingPointsMemo.com reports, have since been deleted. The mob was not appeased. “Despite that overture,” as Weigel puts it–one might wonder if it was because of it–the mob stormed the embassy, an act “culminating in the raising of a black-and-white flag that resembles the icon of al-Qaida.”
Last week John Kerry said: “Ask Osama bin Laden if he is better off now than he was four years ago.” According to the Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram, the Cairo mob answered that taunt with the chant: “Obama, Obama there are still a billion Osamas.”
That’s no doubt a gross exaggeration, but there were enough “Osamas” to launch a fatal attack today on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. It killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. “It appeared the attackers in Benghazi were armed with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades,” the Times reports. “Intelligence reports are inconclusive at this point, officials said, but indications suggest the possibility that an organized group had either been waiting for an opportunity to exploit like the protests over the video or perhaps even generated the protests as a cover for their attack.”
Liz Cheney: Cairo, Benghazi and Obama Foreign Policy– It has certainly been a terrible 48 hours. In Libya, violent extremists killed American diplomats. In Cairo, mobs breached the walls of the U.S. Embassy, ripped down the American flag and replaced it with the al Qaeda flag.In response to the attack in Cairo, diplomats there condemned not the attackers but those who “hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.” The president appeared in the Rose Garden less than 24 hours later to condemn the Libya assault and failed even to mention the attack in Egypt. The message sent to radicals throughout the region: If you assault an American embassy but don’t kill anyone, the U.S. president won’t complain.Though the administration’s performance in the crisis was appalling, it wasn’t surprising—it is the logical outcome of three-and-a-half years of Obama foreign policy.
In March 2009, at an Americas summit meeting in Mexico City, President Obama listened as Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega delivered a venomous diatribe against America. Mr. Obama stood to speak and accepted Mr. Ortega’s version of history. “I’m very grateful,” Mr. Obama said, “that President Ortega didn’t blame me for things that happened when I was three months old.”
In April 2009, in France, Mr. Obama proclaimed that America must make deep cuts in its nuclear arsenal because only then would the country have “the moral authority to say to Iran, don’t develop a nuclear weapon, to say to North Korea, don’t proliferate nuclear weapons.” Embracing the leftist fallacy that the key to world peace is for the U.S. to pre-emptively disarm, the president has reportedly begun reviewing options to take our nuclear stockpile to levels not seen since 1950. These are steps you take only if you believe that America—not her enemies—is the threat.
Romney Offends the Pundits– Tuesday’s assaults on the U.S. Embassies in Benghazi and Cairo have injected foreign policy into the Presidential campaign, but suddenly the parsons of the press corps are offended by the debate. They’re upset that Mitt Romney had the gall to criticize the State Department for a statement that the White House itself disavowed.We’re referring to the statement issued Tuesday under the headline “U.S. Embassy Condemns Religious Incitement.” The statement came in response to Muslim protests against a 13-minute anti-Islamic video making the rounds on YouTube
Four Americans are killed in Libya after U.S. apology for film– The Obama RecordObama Record: Four Americans are killed in Libya, our consulate burned and our Egyptian embassy stormed on the anniversary of 9/11 after we apologize for a film allegedly “insulting to Islam.” Arab Spring, Mr. President?Maybe President Obama shouldn’t have skipped all those national intelligence briefings. The burning of our Libyan consulate in Benghazi, the murder of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three others, including two U.S. Marines, and the storming of our embassy in Egypt after our diplomats apologized for a film made in the U.S. should show just who is the foreign policy novice in the 2012 presidential campaign.
The Obama administration is attempting to walk back the damage done by an apology issued by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo for a 14-minute trailer for a film called “The Innocence of Muslims” posted on YouTube, part of a two-hour, little-seen film produced by Sam Bacile, a 52-year-old California real estate developer who identifies himself as an Israeli Jew.
As the late, great Andrew Breitbart famously said in a tweet to someone who demanded he apologize for this or that, “Apologize for what? Should we apologize for the exercise of free speech in a democracy?”
Yet that is what the U.S. Embassy in Cairo did.
“The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims — as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions,” the statement read in part. It went on to say that the U.S. “firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.”
Obama Twisting in the Wind Like Carter– What a difference a day makes! Just 24 hours ago, the “informed” commentariat was telling us President Obama’s foreign policy was going to be a big plus for him in the election. In the wake of assaults on US diplomatic compounds in Cairo and Benghazi, and the State Department apology for our freedom of speech and basic values, Obama is starting to look a lot like Jimmy Carter twisting in the wind as Iranians held hostages in Tehran in 1979.All of this turmoil is the direct result of Obama’s backing of Muslim Brotherhood backed forces overthrowing Gaddafi in Libya and Mubarak in Egypt. Without American and NATO air power, Gaddafi would still be in power, a crazy to be sure, but a crazy who had given up his nuclear program, paid restitution to the victims of Pan Am 109, and who protected foreign diplomatic facilities.
Obama to Israel: You’re On Your Own– Does President Obama want Israel to bomb Iran before the election? If we had more faith in this Administration’s competence, we’d be tempted to think so.Both publicly and behind the scenes, Administration officials have insisted they oppose a unilateral Israeli strike for many reasons: Diplomacy and sanctions still need time to work; an Israeli attack could destabilize the region; Israel doesn’t have the military means to do the job thoroughly; and so on.It’s no secret the Israelis don’t want to strike Iran either, provided the U.S. is serious about keeping a bomb out of the mullahs’ hands. But Israel’s confidence in Mr. Obama’s seriousness is fading fast. This week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Bloomberg Radio that “we’re not setting deadlines” for Iran to halt its program.
Media and Democrats Try to Make Obama’s Foreign Policy Disaster About Mitt Romney– RUSH: So let me tell you what’s happening out there, folks. I’m gonna give you a timeline here in just a second. I’m gonna tell you things that you probably don’t know about what’s happening in the Middle East, and I’m gonna tell you why it’s happening and why idiots are wrong about why it’s happening. But what really is going on, is there is a coordinated effort by the media, in coordination with the White House, to turn this story… what is this about? I’m trying to be calm, cool, collected, reserved, professional. We’re in the midst of a disaster.This is a full-fledged foreign policy disaster from the moment the embassy in Cairo put that statement out yesterday, before any of this happened, it’s the most amazing thing. It is a pre-apology. I’ll read it to you in just a second. What they’re trying to do is make all of this about Romney. We’re in the midst of a genuine… second term of Jimmy Carter, anybody? 1979, anybody? We’re in the middle of an absolute disaster, a foreign policy disaster. And there’s a coordinated effort to make it about Romney and whether or not he should speak; whether he should say anything about it; whether or not it’s presidential for Romney. We’re only supposed to have one president at times like this. Well, we don’t have one, unless Romney speaks up, and that’s the sad reality.
Girl Leaves Dental Dungeon With Mangled Teeth; 3 Charged With Child Abuse– Three people were charged with child abuse after a dentist operating out of a home left a 14-year-old girl with permanently disfigured teeth.And now the victim’s mother is speaking out, urging others to use licensed dentists and never trust anyone who is performing dentistry out of their home.“The message is that people have to be careful with what they do,” said Claribel Agramonte, the victim’s mother. She told CBS4?s Peter D’Oench, “I was just trying to help my daughter and look what happened.”
Miami police on Wednesday busted a couple and their daughter at a home-operated dental office at 1039 SW 11th Street in Little Havana, according to Miami police spokeswoman Officer Kenia Reyes.
Humberto Perez, 81; Maria Perez, 69; and Odalis Hernandez-Perez, 41, were arrested and were charged with performing dental services without a license and two charges of child abuse, said a statement from Officer Reyes. Maria Perez and Odalis Hernandez-Perez bonded out of jail late Wednesday night.
The child abuse charges came after the 14-year-old’s mother reported her daughter’s teeth were permanently disfigured following work at the clinic.
The American Media Beclowned Themselves Yesterday– Yesterday, as the American consulate in Libya was smoking and the rioters were returning in Egypt, the President of the United States flew off to Las Vegas for a fundraiser while his spokesman was telling the American press corps that yesterday wasn’t really a normal political day. Had it been George W. Bush, the media would, right now, be marching on the White House with pitch forks and torches. Remember, on 9/11, as events were unfolding in Washington, the American media was crying for President Bush to return to Washington. They wanted Daddy at home in the White House where he could tuck them in bed, damn the security issues of getting him there.I get that Chuck Todd is a former Democrat hill staffer. I get that the Politico is riddled with Democrats, some former activists and a former staffer for Debbie Wasserman Schultz. I get that Michael Scherer from Time magazine is a left wing reporter for Mother Jones and Salon.com turned respectable, “objective” journalist. I get that Ben Smith, leading up Buzz Feed, is a leftwing journalist paraded about as if he is some sort of objective reporter at a trendy site full of cat photos. What I really get is that the American media runs with a herd mentality, leans left, and yesterday collectively fell over their group think as they leaned so far left to focus on Mitt Romney and not President Obama. Yesterday, the American media beclowned itself in ways I didn’t really even think was possible, even knowing how in the tank for Barack Obama they are.
Why voter belief in the gloomy New Normal may make Obama a winner– How can President Obama be winning? The job market has stagnated at severely depressed levels, and incomes have fallen throughout this “recovery.” If it really is a “It’s the economy, stupid,” kind of year, Mitt Romney should be ahead, right?But Romney isn’t ahead. And a big reason may be that Obama — 2008?s candidate of “hope and change” — is benefiting from a lack of hope among voters that positive change is possible. Some 60%-70% of Americans think the nation on the wrong track or headed in the wrong direction. And they seem skeptical either candidate can make things better. The status quo wins. And Obama is the status quo.Citigroup just came out with a report that reiterated its forecast of an Obama victory. Here is a bit of Citi’s analysis:
These are my links for April 3rd through April 4th:
Barack Obama, Constitutional Ignoramus – I’m grateful for the favor Obama did for us yesterday of exposing his extreme constitutional ignorance, with his comments on how it would be “unprecedented” for the Court to strike down a law passed by a “strong majority” in Congress. (As if a House margin of seven votes is a “strong” majority.) True, he walked back the comment today, but surely because his statement was not merely indefensible but outright embarrassing to his media defenders.
I’ve been growing weary of hearing people mention that he’s a “constitutional scholar,” since he never published a single thing on the subject either as editor of the Harvard Law Review or as a member of the faculty at the University of Chicago Law School. But hey—he taught constitutional law, didn’t he?
His course on constitutional law, one of several constitutional law courses on the U of C curriculum, dealt exclusively with the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment—the favorite, all-purpose clause for liberal jurists to use to right wrongs and make us more equal by judicial fiat. There is no evidence that Obama ever taught courses that considered other aspects of constitutionalism, such as executive power, the separation of powers, the Commerce Clause, or judicial review itself.
The list emerged from a two-year effort, similar to a project other medical specialties are undertaking, to identify procedures that do not help patients live longer or better or that may even be harmful, yet are routinely prescribed.
As much as 30 percent of health-care spending goes to procedures, tests, and hospital stays that do not improve a patient’s health, according to a 2008 analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget office.
“Our goal was to improve care and improve the value of the care we deliver,” said Dr. Lowell Schnipper, a cancer physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center who led the task force assembled by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). The group of more than 200 oncologists released the list from a report in its Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Although the task force emphasized that its recommendations — winnowed from about 10 suggestions by oncologists — were driven by medical considerations, the report makes clear that expense was a major factor. A number of cancer drugs cost nearly $100,000 but extend life a few months or not at all. Widely-used imaging tests cost up to $5,000 yet do not benefit patients.
The list has been closely guarded, with public announcements scheduled for Wednesday. Patients, advocacy groups, and policy experts contacted by Reuters were mixed in their reaction to the recommendations.
“The American people have a much higher opinion of doctors than of government bureaucrats,” said Kate Nix, a policy analyst at the free-market Heritage Foundation. Whether the ASCO recommendations to withhold some tests and treatments will be seen as rationing “depends on how they are used. Will they inhibit the ability of doctors and patients to make the best decision in each case?”
Wisconsin Democrats Ready to Go to War With… Themselves – On Friday, the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, by a vote of 5-0, officially certified the recall election for Gov. Scott Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, and four GOP state senators (one of whom has resigned). Primaries to determine possible replacements will be held on May 8, with the final election taking place on June 5. The Friends of Scott Walker campaign committee estimates the recall will cost approximately $9 million in taxpayer money.
Since January, it appeared the leading Democratic contender would be former Dane County executive Kathleen Falk, who received every major endorsement and the backing of large unions representing public workers and teachers.
But polling for Democrats haven’t been great, and former mayor Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett jumped into the race. Barrett lost narrowly to Gov. Walker in 2010.
With the most recent polling showing Barrett and Falk are tied, Barrett is trying to get Falk to agree to a clean-campaign pledge
The Explosion In Student Loan Debt – The federal student loan program seemed like a great idea back in 1965: Borrow to go to college now, pay it back later when you have a job.
But many borrowers these days are close to flunking out, tripped up by painful real-life lessons in math and economics.
Surging above $1 trillion, U.S. student loan debt has surpassed credit card and auto-loan debt. This debt explosion jeopardizes the fragile recovery, increases the burden on taxpayers and possibly sets the stage for a new economic crisis.
With a still-wobbly jobs market, these loans are increasingly hard to pay off. Unable to find work, many students have returned to school, further driving up their indebtedness.
Average student loan debt recently topped $25,000, up 25 percent in 10 years. And the mushrooming debt has direct implications for taxpayers, since 8 in 10 of these loans are government-issued or guaranteed.
They will also consider extending the pay cut to Superintendent Nick Salerno’s salary by 2 percent. If the changes to his contract are approved, he would be paid $171,500 a year beginning July 1.
The district, which faces an about $6 million budget deficit in 2012-13, made decisions on several cuts last month that mostly targeted its adult school.
While the original plan last month included salary reductions for eight adult school administrators, however board members requested that district administrators across the board share the burden.
The latest deficit amounts to approximately 7 percent of the district’s total annual expenditures of about $90 million.
The meeting takes place at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the South El Monte High School Professional Development Center, located at 1001 Durfee Ave., South El Monte.
Appeals court fires back at Obama’s comments on health care case – In the escalating battle between the administration and the judiciary, a federal appeals court apparently is calling the president’s bluff — ordering the Justice Department to answer by Thursday whether the Obama Administration believes that the courts have the right to strike down a federal law, according to a lawyer who was in the courtroom.
The order, by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, appears to be in direct response to the president’s comments yesterday about the Supreme Court’s review of the health care law. Mr. Obama all but threw down the gauntlet with the justices, saying he was “confident” the Court would not “take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”
Overturning a law of course would not be unprecedented — since the Supreme Court since 1803 has asserted the power to strike down laws it interprets as unconstitutional. The three-judge appellate court appears to be asking the administration to admit that basic premise — despite the president’s remarks that implied the contrary. The panel ordered the Justice Department to submit a three-page, single-spaced letter by noon Thursday addressing whether the Executive Branch believes courts have such power, the lawyer said.
300 newspapers have erected paywalls – Turns out that many of the pay plans have been fashioned by a NY company called Press+, which was started by entrepreneur Steven Brill (American Lawyer, Court TV) and former WSJ publisher Gordon Crovitz. From AP:
The company says it has launched pay walls for 292 U.S. newspapers. Of course, convincing readers to pay for something that was once free isn’t easy. Brill recommends publishers give away enough free page views so that only the heaviest users are asked to pay. “You ease them into the idea that they’re going to be asked to pay,” Brill says. “It works much better than an abrupt message.” Many readers who realize they’re about to hit their limit sign up early to save themselves the hassle, he says. On average, a subscriber gained through Press+ pays $6.50 a month, of which Press+ keeps 20 percent.
[O]n March 14 and 15, Romney had raised over $3 million in New York and Connecticut. … The Romney campaign had a clever pitch for the event. Schmoozing with his money pals before the events, a Romney fund-raiser pointed out that “slightly more than half the delegates” to the GOP convention at Tampa “are evangelicals.” These true-believer conservatives are averse not only to Romney but to semi-reasonable types like Chris Christie and Mitch Daniels. As a result, said this fund-raiser, the “responsible Republican guys” are “starting to realize” that at a brokered convention “it’s not going to be Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush and Paul Ryan, a ticket they could really love. It’s probably Huckabee-Palin or Palin-Huckabee.” That was enough to scare the Wall Street crowd into getting out their checkbooks.
The new measure would apply to illegal aliens who are relatives of American citizens. Here is how it would work, according to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announcement posted in today’s Federal Register, the daily journal of the U.S. government; the agency will grant “unlawful presence waivers” to illegal aliens who can prove they have a relative that’s a U.S. citizen.
Currently such aliens must return to their native country and request a waiver of inadmissibility in an existing overseas immigrant visa process. In other words, they must enter the U.S. legally as thousands of foreigners do on a yearly basis. Besides the obvious security issues, changing this would be like rewarding bad behavior in a child. It doesn’t make sense.
These are my links for March 8th through March 9th:
Limbaugh attack boomerangs on the White House – Perhaps the left carried on a little too long and a little too loudly regarding Rush Limbaugh’s nasty language about Sandra Fluke. Conservative activist Penny Nance, executive director of Concerned Women for America, has sent a letter to the White House chief of staff demanding President Obama’s super PAC live up to the same standard Democrats have articulated for Republicans and Rush Limbaugh.
Apple at center of e-book price-fixing allegations – The Justice Department has threatened to sue Apple and major publishers in a high-profile case that could reshape the digital-books market, driving down prices but also potentially shifting market power from publishers to e-commerce giant Amazon.
The government warned Apple and five major book companies that it intends to file a lawsuit accusing them of colluding to boost the prices of e-books, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing unnamed sources. Several of the publishers are already in talks to settle the matter, although those discussions appear to be at an early and uncertain stage, the Journal reported.
The publishers in question include Simon & Schuster, Hachette Book Group, Penguin Group, Macmillan and HarperCollins Publishers.
Now Limbaugh is returning the favor – and the split between the Sacramento retailer and the controversial radio host appears to be permanent.
Limbaugh on Thursday rejected Sleep Train’s offer to resume advertising on his national radio show and rehire Limbaugh as a paid spokesman. Limbaugh’s spokesman said the conservative commentator would no longer carry Sleep Train’s ads “in the future.”
Sleep Train stopped advertising on the show last Friday, becoming one of the first sponsors to drop Limbaugh. The company’s decision came two days after Limbaugh called a Georgetown University law student a “slut” and a “prostitute” over her stance on health insurance coverage for contraception.
Limbaugh apologized to the student over the weekend.
Sleep Train’s decision was especially noteworthy because Limbaugh and Sleep Train chief executive Dale Carlsen have known each other since the 1980s, when Sleep Train was a small company and Limbaugh was an on-air personality at Sacramento’s KFBK (1530 AM).
Kucinich May Still Run from Washington – Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), who just lost his re-election bid in a Democratic primary on Tuesday, did not close the door to running for Congress in a new district — in a new state, CBS News reports.
He said “there’s new possibilities that are being born at this moment.”
Should he decide to run again, Washingtion state’s “most appealing choices for a Kucinich run could be the first and sixth congressional districts which lack incumbents because of the retirements of Democratic Reps. Jay Inslee and Norm Dicks.”
Pro-Obama PAC Won’t Give Back Maher’s Money – Current and former White House aides on Thursday rejected demands by a conservative group that a Super PAC supporting President Obama refund a $1 million check from comedian and talk show host Bill Maher because of coarse comments he’s made about Sarah Palin and other Republican women.
While Obama earlier this week denounced similar comments that radio talk show host made about a college student, Sandra Fluke, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters the president is not going to get involved in the Maher battle.
Romney Really Might Not Have the Delegates by June – The Republican primary has revealed distinct geographic tendencies. Mitt Romney is dominant in New England and in the West. Newt Gingrich has run well in the Deep South, while Rick Santorum has done well in caucus states, the Great Plains, and the peripheral South (it remains to be seen whether his support has bled into Gingrich’s strength in the Deep South). That leaves the Midwest as a battleground between Romney and Santorum.
While Romney had a good night on Super Tuesday, the truth is that he did nothing to alter the basic regional nature of his support. He won handily in New England and the West, essentially tied in the Midwest, and ran poorly in the South.
For the first time, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is putting a timeframe on his decision whether to enter the race.
He’s running for re-election as mayor but will he also jump into a possible recall race for governor?
He’s not answering that question yet, but now, for the first time, the mayor is indicating when he might make up his mind.
With an election for mayor less than four weeks away, Barrett continued to deflect any questions about a possible run for governor.
“I am certainly considering running for governor, but I haven’t made a decision quite honestly,” Barrett said.
Barrett spoke at a forum sponsored by Wispolitics.com, and afterward, 12 News reporter Kent Wainscott asked him whether Milwaukee voters deserved to know whether he plans to enter a likely governor’s recall race.
“I don’t know what the future holds, and that’s why I didn’t deny that this is something that I’m thinking about, because I am thinking about it, and I think the voters know that,” Barrett said.
GOP strategist: Appeal to Latino voters is party’s ‘great challenge’ – Republican Party strategist Whit Ayres says a new Fox News poll showing a strong preference for Democrats among Latino voters underscores what he called “the great challenge of the Republican Party going forward” – doing better with non-white voters, especially Latinos and Asians.
David Axelrod, President Obama’s senior campaign strategist, is scheduled to appear on Bill Maher’s late-night talk show within the next few weeks, according to Kelley Carville, an HBO spokesman.
As the controversy over Rush Limbaugh’s comments about Sandra Fluke continued, a former Obama White House official today joined Republicans in pointing out that Maher, who recently donated $1 million to a pro-Obama super PAC, has a history of his misogynistic slurs.
Last year, he was rebuked by the National Organization for Women for calling Sarah Palin a “dumb tw*t.”
“palin is right to point out that bill maher has said some pretty disgusting things about women, comedian or not. they are rush like,” Austan Goolsbee, the former chairman of President Obama’s Council on Economic Advisors, and currently a professor at the University of Chicago, tweeted.
After Obama spoke with Fluke, the Georgetown University Law Student called a “slut” and “prostitute” by Limbaugh, Palin challenged Priorities USA to return Maher’s donation.
“Pres. Obama says he called Sandra Fluke because of his daughters. For the sake of everyone’s daughter, why doesn’t his super PAC return the $1 million he got from a rabid misogynist?,” Palin wrote Tuesday on her Facebook page.
The 56-42 vote staves off an election-year rebuke of Obama, but will give political ammunition to backers of TransCanada Corp.’s plan to build a pipeline connecting Alberta’s massive tar sands projects to Gulf Coast refineries.
Despite Obama’s efforts, 11 Democrats brushed off Obama on the vote and sided with Republicans.
The 11 Democratic defections were Sens. Max Baucus (Mont.), Mark Begich (Alaska), Bob Casey (Pa.), Kent Conrad (N.D.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Jon Tester (Mont.) and Jim Webb (Va.).
No Republicans voted against the measure, and 60 votes were needed to move forward.
Bill Bennett: A lesson in how to turn the tables – Bill Bennett had this to say on CNN about the Rush Limbaugh hypocrisy fest: “My question is whether the president will give back the million dollars Bill Maher gave him. I don’t know how he’s going to explain that to Sasha and Malia, when that guy uses language that would make Rush blush.”
The comment is, in a word, perfect. The gentle tone of irony contrasts with the left’s hyperventilating. The matter-of-fact assertion highlights how the left’s “outrage” is reserved for political opponents’ entertainers. And his gentle rebuke to the president — who chose to drag his daughters into a phony political gambit — is the frosting on the well- baked cake.
Notice, in fact, how it is now the representative of the left who wants to move on? The Obama spinners have got as much mileage out of Limbaugh as they can, and if the conversation is now going to turn to their side, well then, for heaven’s sake, it’s time to turn the page! Or, as Dave Weigel put it in reference to David Axelrod’s inanity (“If Romney couldn’t stand up to “the most strident voices in your party, how can he stand up to Ahmadinejad?”): “Axelrod has no case. He’s a nomad flogging a camel to get one last mile out of it after it’s already crossed half the Gobi with no water.”
Carbonite shoots its business model in the foot – The decline in the price of Carbonite stock since it announced it was dropping its longstanding advertising on the Rush Limbaugh show is not the real story of the damage done to Carbonite.
The price of Carbonite stock has been dropping since October for reasons unrelated to this controversy, although it did fall off a small cliff this week.
The real problem for Carbonite and its shareholders is that in leaving behind 15 million Rush listeners, Carbonite has shot its business model in the foot.