(Reuters) – President Barack Obama made a rare appearance on the campaign trail on Sunday with a rally to support the Democratic candidate for governor in Maryland, but early departures of crowd members while he spoke underscored his continuing unpopularity.
With approval levels hovering around record lows, Obama has spent most of his campaign-related efforts this year raising money for struggling Democrats, who risk losing control of the U.S. Senate in the Nov. 4 midterm election. Read the rest of this entry »
The NSF has already poured nearly $1 million into Truthy. To what end? Why is the federal government spending so much money on the study of your Twitter habits?
“The concept seems to have come straight out of a George Orwell novel.”
If you tweet your support for a candidate in the November elections, should taxpayer money be used to monitor your speech and evaluate your “partisanship’’?
My guess is that most Americans would answer those questions with a resounding no. But the federal government seems to disagree. The National Science Foundation , a federal agency whose mission is to “promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity and welfare; and to secure the national defense,” is funding a project to collect and analyze your Twitter data.
The project is being developed by researchers at Indiana University, and its purported aim is to detect what they deem “social pollution” and to study what they call “social epidemics,” including how memes — ideas that spread throughout pop culture — propagate. What types of social pollution are they targeting? “Political smears,” so-called “astroturfing” and other forms of “misinformation.”
“The federal government has no business spending your hard-earned money on a project to monitor political speech on Twitter.”
Named “Truthy,” after a term coined by TV host Stephen Colbert, the project claims to use a “sophisticated combination of text and data mining, social network analysis, and complex network models” to distinguish between memes that arise in an “organic manner” and those that are manipulated into being.
But there’s much more to the story. Focusing in particular on political speech, Truthy keeps track of which Twitter accounts are using hashtags such as #teaparty and #dems.
It estimates users’ “partisanship.” It invites feedback on whether specific Twitter users, such as the Drudge Report, are “truthy” or “spamming.” And it evaluates whether accounts are expressing “positive” or “negative” sentiments toward other users or memes. Read the rest of this entry »
Hiding Politically Unpopular Policies from Voters, Obama Puts Top Priorities in their Proper Place: The Back of the BusPosted: October 18, 2014
“This whole place is paralyzed. Everything was kicked down the road.”
President Obama is taking time out from his much-trumpeted “year of action” to observe a period more important to his Democratic allies in Congress: the season of campaigning.
One by one, the Obama administration is setting aside key priorities, in the hope that voters won’t do the same to his fellow Democrats.
“We wish they would be as good as their rhetoric. We want them to step up and deliver. If they don’t, who’s going to?”
– Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch
Immigration reform, once deemed a pressing back-to-school item, will wait at least until the winter holidays.
Enrollment in Obamacare will start six weeks later than last year.
The climate will warm at the same rate, with new regulations pending. [Reality check: Globe hasn't warmed in 19 years]
“It looks like the president and the Democrats are playing politics with people’s lives.”
– Frank Sharry, America’s Voice, one of many pro-amnesty, open-borders pressure groups.
The latest addition to the not-to-do list came this week, when the White House put off an announcement on the president’s nominee for attorney general, a pick he has been privately thinking about a long time.
White House aides smile and defend the strategy, saying privately that they’re trying to be sensitive to the concerns of Democrats, especially senators in tough election races.
“He promised me a dollhouse. Democrats are playing politics with everything! I hate Obama!”
– Daughter of celebrity Obama fundraiser
The White House is trying to avoid being held responsible for Democrats losing control of the Senate in the midterm election in three weeks, especially when administration officials still hope to get a few things done during the final two years of Obama’s presidency and will need help from Democrats who remain in office. Read the rest of this entry »
Even if we didn’t have proof that Lois Lerner and the IRS had deliberately targeted conservative non-profit groups whose names included words like “Tea Party” and “patriots,” this could just been seen as another example of big government inefficiency and incompetence. Thing is, we know that conservative groups’ applications were held up through several election cycles to keep them from influencing the vote.
American Center for Law and Justice attorney Miles Terry writes today that two more conservative groups have had their tax-exempt applications approved — after a more than four-year delay.
Laurens County Tea Party and Allen Area Patriots both applied for tax-exemption in July of 2010. It took the IRS more than four years to review their applications and approve these groups.
Of our 41 clients, 28 have now been approved, and seven groups are still awaiting approval. One of these seven groups, Albuquerque Tea Party is less than two months away from “celebrating” five years since they originally applied for tax-exemption. To date, they have still not been approved.
C’mon, IRS. Get it together…(read more)
The fact that it took the Administration FOUR YEARS to approve this group’s tax status is shameful. http://t.co/RKlQEG5Yeq
Headline corrected! Where do we begin? A brief scan of media reactions offers some clues. For example, The Hill Just Can’t Figure Out Where Obama Went Wrong. Surely, Obama’s Low Approval Ratings Can’t Be Blamed On Any Scandal, can it? When did Obama check out? Obama never checked in. As an exercise in reality-denial, The Hill gives us a textbook instruction manual for how to write about a controversial topic without saying anything that might reflect too badly on anyone, or offend anyone in power. Though to be fair, it’s not a bad article, on second reading. It has a few pithy quotes.
Though overdue, it’s the kind of question that haunted the G.W. Bush’s unpopular presidency, but for Obama’s predecessor, those loaded questions began moments after he was inaugurated, rather than held back for six years. And the answers were far less forgiving. The writers–blinded by GOP distrust reinforced by institutional bias–were often a lot less rational.
[Order Panetta's "Worthy Fights: A Memoir of Leadership in War and Peace" from Amazon.com]
For Obama, an honest account of “what went wrong?” would (and has, and will, for decades) fill mountains of books, exceeding the storage capacity of Amazon warehouses worldwide. We can look forward to an avalanche of unreadable academic literature, notes from unattended think-tank symposiums, and stacks of unsold finger-pointing White House staff (see above) autobiographies…
We deserve better. It has potential! It could inspire crime thrillers, Shakespearean tragedies, comic books, horror movies, and for future generations, Epic Decline-of-Empire postmortems! Truly, the question posed here is impossible to address adequately in anything less than 30 volumes. My modest headline correction offers a manageable approach. We’re not aiming for a Pulitzer here, just tryin’ to make a deadline.
Fewer than two years ago, President Obama was elected handily to his second term, becoming the first Democrat since FDR to twice win an outright majority of the popular vote.
Now, Democrats in competitive Senate races hope he stays as far away as possible, previous heartlands of support such as Iowa have turned against him and his approval ratings are languishing in the low 40s — sometimes lower.
“He should say ‘Look, all three of us now face the same choice. … Do we want to spend the next two years messaging and preparing for 2016 or would we like to spend a few months legislating?’ ”
Political observers, from former Obama aides to staffers who served in previous administrations, say something is going to have to change if the president is to achieve anything at all in his last two years in office.
“I’m still struggling to figure this out. I think a lot of it boils down to this mindset that, ‘we all have the answers and we’re smarter than everybody else and we can do this.’ ”
– Unamed former administration official
“It is a near metaphysical certainty that in his last two years, he’ll confront the same House he has in the last four years,” said William Galston, a senior fellow of governance studies at the Brookings Institution who served as an adviser to former President Clinton during his White House years.
“So the question is, how are they going to deal with that? If they deal with the same House in the same way, they’ll get the same results.”
Galston advised a different approach. Obama would be “well-advised” to reach out to the Republican congressional leadership immediately after the midterm elections, he said, and should resist the temptation to dig deeper into a partisan trench. Read the rest of this entry »
“Whew! I’m so glad I can get back to work. I was down to my last trunk load of Obamaphones.”
“I got big plans tonight. Couple shots of Crown Royal, and a fine cigar. Then catch a bus to Arkansas.”
“When the Clintons called me with the good news, I knew we were back on the gravy train”
“I don’t see what the big deal is. I still vote the regular way, only two or three times.”
“Hot damn. Lordy lordy. Hot damn!”
“I can’t do anything for Democrats this year cause I’m still on parole, but I’m gonna celebrate anyway!”
Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. writes: Tesla, an electric-car company on which the political class has showered subsidies, rolled out its newest model last week, complete with high-tech safety features like lane-departure warning, blindspot monitoring, collision avoidance and self-parking. Tesla’s stock promptly dropped 8%, though probably not because these mundane features long have been available in other luxury models.
— Ben Casselman (@bencasselman) October 15, 2014
At $2.99, the price to which gasoline had fallen at some California stations last week, electric cars becoming a mass-market taste and not just an item for wealthy hobbyists recedes from probability. If Democrats especially start to find it politically no longer saleable to subsidize a toy for the rich, the company may be in real trouble.
Since World War I, the retail price of gasoline has fluctuated in a band between $2 and $4 (using 2006 dollars as a benchmark). Since the 1970s, though, politicians have repeatedly wedded themselves to policies premised on the idea that oil prices can only go up, up, up, in prelude to oil running out altogether. Read the rest of this entry »
“I mean, the election would be a total waste of time if not for that moment when the candidate has to go out on stage and tell all the people who worked so hard for him that he failed and that their shared dream is suddenly gone.”
WASHINGTON—Calling them the only things remotely worthwhile about next month’s elections, the American public confirmed Wednesday that the dozens of bitter concession speeches to be given by losing candidates are the sole aspect of the upcoming midterms they are looking forward to.
“I really don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t look ahead to a bunch of people half-heartedly chanting their candidate’s name to make him feel better.”
“Honestly, all that matters is that I get to watch some defeated politician stiffly read some remarks and offer a totally disingenuous congratulations to the victor,” said Des Moines, IA, resident Lindsey Abbot, one of the millions of American voters whose only consolation on election night will reportedly be finding out who will lose their composure as they apologize for letting down their supporters. Read the rest of this entry »
Before we dismiss Will’s warning, let’s recall that during the last election cycle, while many influential conservative talking heads were forecasting a Mitt Romney victory, George Will submitted an early prediction that Obama would win. His contrary analysis was met with a collective groan. Karl Rove (who would have a legendary election-night meltdown) and Dick Morris (Morris’ Fox broadcast career effectively ended in the wake of his laughable Mitt Romney landslide claims) were in full triumphalist mode. Will’s unpopular early forecast, siding with Democrat polling predictions, that Barack Obama’s campaign organization would prevail and hand the GOP a loss, was regarded by Romney supporters as treasonous. And by many others (myself included) as a valid warning, but prematurely defeatist.
“This big-name list of losers should be tattooed on the sweaty palms of every GOP operative drawing a paycheck, and haunt the fever dreams of every conservative talking head in the green room.”
Will wasn’t just playing Johnny Raincloud. He was just among the few with his reading glasses on straight that week. Untainted by wishful thinking, Will called it correctly. But even his resolve didn’t last. Sadly, George Will caught the fever, and as election night drew closer, he, too, predicted a Romney landslide.
That’s a Nov. 4th, 2012 list of the men who walked the plank, and made the wrongest election prediction in modern history. Conservative enthusiasts in need of a cold shower should revisit this list. In fact, this big-name list of losers should be tattooed on the sweaty palms of every GOP operative drawing a paycheck, and haunt the fever dreams of every conservative talking head in the green room.
Perhaps hardened by that defeat, Will would prefer to be less vulnerable this time around. Similarly, Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume was on a panel yesterday bitterly mocking the GOP’s misreading of the” voter enthusiasm gap” as a reliable election predictor. Hume sarcastically observed that a depressed, demoralized, unenthusiastic vote counts just as much as an enthusiastic vote. He’s right. The key thing is the actual voting. The GOP’s challenge to the Democrats’ get-out-the-vote supremacy is in the spotlight. And the GOP’s catch-up efforts remain unproven.
So let’s update those sports metaphors: If the GOP doesn’t succeed in taking the Senate, it may not be only because of an inadequate “ground game”, or because the GOP “fumbled the ball”. It will also be because they aren’t employing special teams (legitimate vote boosting efforts, locally-organized vote fraud schemes, take your pick) and because election referees aren’t empowered to do their job. When no penalties are called on an opponent’s violations, it’s harder to win. Points won and lost in these hidden margins aren’t officially measured, but can change the outcome of the game. And can produce — or contribute to — some unhappy surprises.
“At this point in the campaign, they’ve saturated people with broadcast ads, so the utility of the last political dollar is pretty small. The return on ‘Get out the vote’ may be much larger, and we may get a surprise this year.”
From last night’s item at The Corner:
Republicans are too focused on how much money is being spent on ad buys in the final weeks of the election cycle, warned George Will. Instead, they should be wary of Democratic get-out-the-vote efforts, which upended Republicans in the 2012 elections, he said on Tuesday’s Special Report. Read the rest of this entry »
With headlines like this, who needs body copy?
“Davis is an example of the perils that await politicians who believe their own hype. The left will soon forget they ever placed so much faith in Davis, and move on to the next flavor of the month who they will convince themselves can finally lead them to the destiny Democrats believe is their demographic due.”
[VIDEO] Al Sharpton: Hey, Let’s Play the ‘Repeat Whatever a Conservative Just Said in the Form of a Question’ GamePosted: October 14, 2014
A marvel of whimsical video-editing opportunism by David Rutz of the Free Beacon, with commentary here by HotAir‘s ALLAPUNDIT. The icing on the cupcake, really, is the music. What is that, hayride music? Square dancing? Brilliant.
DUBUQUE, Iowa —The wife of Doug Butzier confirmed Tuesday morning to KCRG-TV that it was Butzier who was killed in a plane crash Monday.
The crash was reported Monday night near Dubuque Regional Airport.
“I was just sitting in there watching TV and all that I heard was an airplane going vrrrmmm — boom! Blew up, came up and seen big ole flames on the neighbor’s yard,” plane crash witness Jeremy Becker told KCRG-TV.
Lunsford said law enforcement told him the sole occupant of the aircraft was killed in the crash. Lunsford said the plane took off from Ankeny Regional Airport about an hour before the crash.
Report Finds 6.9 Million Multiple Voters in 28 States: 6,951,484 Overlapping Voter Registrations, ‘Tip of the Iceberg’Posted: October 13, 2014
RICHMOND, Va. — Some 6.9 million Americans are registered to vote in two or more states, according to a report obtained by Watchdog.org.
“Duplicate registration is an open invitation to voting fraud. This ability to vote more than once dilutes the legal votes and changes the results of elections.”
“Our nation’s voter rolls are a mess,” says Catherine Engelbrecht, president of the election-watch group True The Vote.
“Sensible approaches to roll maintenance are fought tooth and nail by radical special interests who can use the duplicity in the system to their advantage,” she said.
[Also see: John Fund's Voter Fraud: We’ve Got Proof It’s Easy]
The latest interstate voter cross check tallied 6,951,484 overlapping voter registrations, and they’re just the tip of the iceberg.
The cross-check program involves only 28 states and does not include the three largest: California, Texas and Florida.
“Duplicate registration is an open invitation to voting fraud,” said Clara Belle Wheeler, a member of the Election Board in Albemarle County, Va. “This ability to vote more than once dilutes the legal votes and changes the results of elections.”
The interstate cross-check program matches first and last names and dates of birth to identify multiple registrations.But the data are not routinely used to purge duplicates.
“Increasingly lax standards in our election process produce increasingly unreliable results.”
“The few conversations that are had about how to shore up these weaknesses are immediately seized on by certain politicians and special-interest groups as fuel to further divide American voters based on trumped-up race and class-based narratives,” she said. Read the rest of this entry »
“It will take a lot of work to turn the country around and ensure a different type of horrible future, but I believe there are candidates out there who have the awful principles and ideologies to march into Washington and do it.”
WASHINGTON—Expressing dissatisfaction with the current course the country is taking, voters across the nation told reporters Monday that they are eager to use next month’s midterm elections to help put the United States back on a different wrong track. “We’ve been going down the wrong path for the past few years, and now it’s time to get some new people in there who can lead our country astray in a different direction,” said North Carolina voter Lisa Berkland, adding that Washington D.C. needed an influx of new misguided politicians with their own terrible visions for the country to change the manner in which the nation is veering off course. Read the rest of this entry »
Originally posted on TIME:
(SEOUL, South Korea) — North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un made his first public appearance in five weeks on Tuesday, the country’s official news agency reported, ending a prolonged absence that fueled speculation about his health and control over the country.
Korean Central News Agency said Kim “gave field guidance” on Tuesday at the newly built Wisong Scientists Residential District. The agency also said that earlier in the day, Kim “visited the newly built Natural Energy Institute of the State Academy of Sciences.”
Kim had last been seen in the state media five week ago at a Sept. 3 concert, and he missed several high-profile events that he normally attends. An official documentary released late last month then made a single reference to Kim’s “discomfort” and showed video footage from August of him overweight and limping.
The KCNA report Tuesday made no mention of Kim’s health, only detailing…
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