The U.S. media treat America’s powerful families as untitled nobility
For National Review Online, Charles C. W. Cooke writes: Depressing as it might be for the radicals among us to admit, John Adams’s failed and embarrassing quest to have the nation’s president referred to as “His Majesty” or “His High Mightiness” was the exception rather than the rule — an early win for republicanism before the inevitable losses started stacking up. Time after time during the last century or so, the White House has suggested that it should perhaps accrue a little more power, perhaps spend a little more money on itself, and perhaps place the administration a little closer to the center of public life. In each and every instance, the public has acquiesced. Alas, this is not Calvin Coolidge’s country anymore. Where once the president fretted over the cost of pencils and the expense of state dinners, he now has a fleet of aircraft, a billion-dollar household budget, and a trio of calligraphers. “His Majesty,” indeed.
In the abstract, at least, Americans prefer to think of themselves as being congenitally opposed to aristocracy and the trappings of monarchy. The notion of unceremonious men who rise from the log cabin to the White House has considerable purchase in the national imagination, and, during elections, at least, it still matters considerably. Read the rest of this entry »
(CNSNews.com) - Terence P. Jeffrey writes: In the budget proposal he presented to Congress last month, President Barack Obama called for what would be the highest level of sustained taxation ever imposed on the American people, according to the analysis published last week by the Congressional Budget Office.
Under Obama’s proposal, taxes would rise from 17.6 percent of Gross Domestic Product in 2014 to 19.2 percent in 2024. During the ten years from 2015 to 2024, federal taxation would average 18.7 percent GDP.
America has never been subjected to a ten-year stretch of taxation at that level.
In the five fiscal years encompassing U.S. involvement in World War II (1942 through 1946), federal taxation averaged 16.1 percent of GDP.
In the fiscal years since World War II (1947 through 2013), federal taxation has averaged 17.1 percent of GDP. Read the rest of this entry »
Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms fail to safeguard civil liberties
For Reason, Ronald Bailey writes: In January, President Barack Obama made a much-anticipated speech at the Department of Justice outlining proposed reforms of the domestic surveillance programs run by the National Security Agency (NSA). The secretive spy agency has taken a public battering ever since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden began blowing the whistle on its clandestine collection of basically every American’s telephone records.
“We will reform programs and procedures in place to provide greater transparency to our surveillance activities, and fortify the safeguards that protect the privacy of U.S. persons,” the president proclaimed. Unfortunately, Obama’s proposed changes to domestic surveillance programs are not nearly transparent enough, and fail to adequately protect the privacy of Americans.
In January, the federal government’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an independent agency charged by Congress with advising the president on the privacy and civil liberties repercussions relating to fighting terrorism, concluded that the NSA’s domestic surveillance “implicates constitutional concerns under the First and Fourth Amendments, raises serious threats to privacy and civil liberties as a policy matter, and has shown only limited value.” How limited? “We have not identified a single instance involving a threat to the United States in which the telephone records program made a concrete difference in the outcome of a counterterrorism investigation.”
The oversight board recommended that the surveillance program be terminated. In his speech, the president said that he had consulted with the board. Yet he did not heed its advice.
Instead of ending the unconstitutional domestic telecommunications spying program, Obama offered what he insisted were “a series of concrete and substantial reforms.” These include a new executive order on signals intelligence-that is, data connected with private communications-instructing surveillance agencies that “privacy and civil liberties shall be integral considerations.”
The order further admonishes intelligence bureaucrats to make sure their spying actually provides some benefit greater than the embarrassment officials will surely suffer should they be disclosed. This is the “front page test,” or how officials would feel if what they are doing were reported on the front page of a newspaper. If discovery equals discomfort, then maybe they shouldn’t be doing it in the first place. Read the rest of this entry »
Charles Krauthammer said President Obama’s approach to foreign policy shows that his view of human nature is lacking.
“He has trouble understanding that other countries have national interests,” he said. “And they do want to dominate other countries. He said that’s not how people act in this century. It is how people act in this century, and every century back to the Stone Age.”
Obama Administration Wants to Require Companies to Give Workers’ Numbers, Addresses to Unions Before Labor ElectionsPosted: April 21, 2014
For The Daily Caller, Patrick Howley reports: The Obama administration is poised to change regulations to allow for union “ambush elections” in which workers have less time to decide whether or not to join a union — and in which workers’ phone numbers and home addresses are provided to unions.
The administration’s National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) proposed rules would allow for union elections — in which workers at a company vote whether or not to unionize — to be held 10 days after a petition is filed. And what, exactly, would be happening to the unions during those 10 days? The new rules require employers to disclose workers’ personal information, including phone numbers, home addresses, and information about when they work their shifts.
Insiders close to the situation believe the new rules will almost certainly go into effect with few or no fundamental changes. Read the rest of this entry »
“Lenin, whose spirit still infuses the government of Russia had a name for people like Mr. Snowden – ‘useful idiots,’ he said, idealists so-called who served the interests of Lenin’s country,” Will said. “We don’t need to listen to Snowden anymore giving us lectures about the virtues of an open society when he chooses to go to earth in Putin’s Russia…”
It’s not going to happen.
Even so, American ground troops are being deployed there as a response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. This is the West telling him STOP. He’s not going to invade a European Union or NATO state either way, but we’d end up sending a crazy-weak signal if all we did was collectively shrug.
“Even an unspoken threat of invasion, occupation, and annexation is enough to make Ukraine act with tremendous caution toward Moscow, but if Putin pulls the trigger, Kiev would have nothing left to lose.”
Ukraine still isn’t in NATO, however, and probably never will be, so it’s still vulnerable. Putin can slice it and dice it all over again. The US won’t physically stop him for the same reason he won’t invade Poland. Nobody wants to blow up the world, especially not over this.
So Ukraine’s vulnerable. Pro-Russian militiamen are occupying dozens of government buildings, city halls, and police stations in the eastern part of the country where many ethnic Russians live. It’s hard to say for sure if Putin is egging these people on or if they’re acting on their own, envious of their cousins in Crimea who got to go “home” without moving. Either way, they’re serving Putin’s agenda.
By annexing Crimea, he proved to the world that he’s willing to mutilate Ukraine when it displeases him, which it very much did when it cast off his vassal, Viktor Yanukovych, in February. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] Obama Reluctantly Signs Bill Blocking Iranian U.N. Envoy from Entry, Asserts Authority to Ignore Law if He Feels Like ItPosted: April 19, 2014
For Hot Air, Ed Morrissey writes: Yesterday, Ted Cruz had his first authored bill get signed into law, but the freshman Senator from Texas probably didn’t too excited by the victory. Despite unanimous support in both chambers of Congress for the new law, President Barack Obama sounded less than enthusiastic about enforcing the bill he signed yesterday that would block the proposed Iranian envoy to the UN from receiving an entry visa to the US:
It’s the oddest of legislative couples: President Obama and one of his biggest critics, Ted Cruz.
Obama on Friday signed a Cruz-backed bill aimed at blocking Iran’s appointed ambassador to the United Nations because of evidence linking him to the 1979 takeover of the American embassy in Tehran.
Technically, the law bars individuals from entering the U.S. as U.N. ambassadors if they are “found to have been engaged in espionage or terrorist activity directed against the United States or its allies.”
In reality, the bill targets a specific Iranian individual: Hamid Aboutalebi, who has been refused a visa by the administration.
A news report from inside the Islamic world
Iran is “outraged” over the decision:
WASHINGTON – If you want to learn what Hillary Clinton meant by “the vast right-wing conspiracy,” part of the extensive collection of dossiers the Clinton White House kept on its media enemies was released Friday by the Clinton Library.
The most important of the documents, “The Communication Stream of Conspiracy Commerce,” originally some 331 pages, was reduced to only 28 pages in the sanitized and heavily redacted version posted by the presidential library.
“Some time back in 1994 or 1995, Bill and Hillary Clinton had what I would now describe as ‘a prophetic nightmare…’”
– Joseph Farah
“The Communication Stream of Conspiracy Commerce refers to the mode of communication employed by the right wing to convey their fringe stories into legitimate subjects of coverage by the mainstream media,” explains the report. “This is how the stream works: Well-funded right wing think tanks and individuals underwrite conservative newsletters and newspapers such as the Western Journalism Center, the American Spectator and the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. Next, the stories are reprinted on the Internet where they are bounced into the mainstream media through one of two ways: 1) the story will be picked up by the British tabloids and covered as a major story, from which the American right-of-center mainstream media, (i.e. the Wall Street Journal, Washington Times and New York Post) will then pick the story up; or 2) The story will be bounced directly from the Internet to the right-of-center mainstream American media. After the mainstream right-of-center media covers the story, congressional committees will look into the story. After Congress looks into the story, the story now has the legitimacy to be covered by the remainder of the American mainstream press as a ‘real’ story.”
The operation launched by the Clinton administration in response to this conspiracy theory was designed to prevent so-called “mainstream media” from picking up such stories. That effort came in several parts:
- The original 331-page report was distributed by the White House and the Democratic National Committee to select reporters in an effort to discredit those behind the critical reports on the Clinton White House – namely billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, journalist Joseph Farah, political activist Floyd Brown and the American Spectator.
- Hillary Clinton’s public relations effort to vilify what she called “the vast right-wing conspiracy.”
- A pattern of politically motivated audits of individuals and organizations by the Internal Revenue Service.
“It’s quite an amazing story,” said Farah, founder and editor of WND, whose Western Journalism Center was audited after the White House sent the IRS a letter from a constituent calling for an investigation. “It may all have a familiar ring to the tea-party groups of the 21st century. Clinton got away with it, so it was bound to happen again – and it most assuredly has.”
[In Bill Clinton’s memoir, curiously little is said about the many women whose lives he upended and changed forever. That’s remedied in “Their Lives: The Women Targeted by the Clinton Machine” (Hardcover)]
The document dump Friday included some 7,500 pages in all, but the focus of attention has been the mysterious “Communication Stream of Conspiracy Commerce,” as it was dubbed by the Clinton White House. Read the rest of this entry »
For Yahoo News, Matt Bai writes: So now it’s out there. After five years of studied reticence (unless they were talking privately to one another or their supporters), Democratic leaders in Washington finally went public last week with what they really think is motivating Republican opposition to Barack Obama. As Steve Israel, one of the top Democrats in Congress, told CNN’s Candy Crowley, the Republican base, “to a significant extent,” is “animated by racism.”
Just to make himself clear, Israel did allow that not all Republicans were the ideological descendants of Bull Connor. To which I’m sure his colleagues across the aisle responded, “Oh, OK. Cool then.”
But it’s not the reaction of Republicans that Democrats should probably have some concern about. It’s the way American voters, and a lot of younger voters in particular, may view a return to the polarizing racial debate that existed before Obama was ever elected.
Note: one of Matt Bai‘s silly sentences:
“…Still, a lot of Americans who voted for Obama probably find the racism argument at least somewhat persuasive.”
A “lot”? Really? Any chance you can be more specific? Then, the deadly trio: “probably”, “at least”, and “somewhat”. Smothered in qualifiers, so weak and blurry, it undermines the author’s point. Imagine a voter thinking, “Wellllll…The Democratic Party’s opportunistic race-baiting and divisive name-calling is probably… at least….sommmeeewhat persuasive….I guess…”
Coming in an election year, and in the wake of sporadic campaigns to solidify support among women and gay voters, the sudden Democratic focus on race felt like an orchestrated talking point. Israel’s comments came just a few days after Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, suggested that racism was keeping Republicans from voting on an immigration bill. And Pelosi was reacting to a speech by the attorney general, Eric Holder, who complained to a civil rights gathering in Washington of “ugly and divisive” attacks against the administration.
“What attorney general has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?” Holder, who is African-American, pointedly asked. “What president has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?”
As far as I can tell, though, this eruption on race actually wasn’t born in the kind of strategy session where consultants lay out which issues will move which voters. What seems to have happened was something rarer: Washington Democrats, unable to suppress their frustration for a minute longer, simply blurted out what they have always believed to be true but had been reluctant to say. One catharsis emboldened the next. Read the rest of this entry »
The Secret Service won’t give any details about how often the fox trips the White House’s obviously sophisticated security alarms, but rest assured, officials say, they’re watching.
President Obama was apparently “stunned” to see the fox roaming freely down the oft-photographed White House colonnade, home to the world’s shortest, but most dramatic, outdoor strolls.
And there’s no reason to believe it will work in 2014. The exit polls tell the real story.
For the Wall Street Journal, Michael Medved writes: President Obama is suddenly upset about the alleged wage gap between men and women, but he’s not responding to a national economic crisis. Instead, he is attempting to revive the “war on women” theme that, according to Washington wisdom, helped carry Democrats to victory in 2012 and might do again in 2014. If this narrative were true, the White House could spend the year demonizing Republicans as women-hating creeps, driving women to the polls in November and helping the party hold the Senate.
But the conventional analysis isn’t accurate. National exit polls from 2012 show scant success for the war-on-women ploy, and there’s no reason to think trotting it out again will help Democrats in the midterms.
True enough, Mr. Obama won the overall female vote by 11 points in 2012—55% to 44%—but that’s hardly remarkable for a Democratic presidential candidate. Al Gore fared the same in 2000, prevailing among women by an identical 11-point advantage. Mr. Obama did better with women in 2008, beating John McCain by 56% to 43%. He enjoyed that advantage even though his first campaign never emphasized “women’s issues” and despite the presence of a woman— Sarah Palin—on the Republican ticket.
A closer look at the numbers reveals that Mr. Obama’s success with the ladies actually stemmed from his well-known appeal to minority voters. In 2012, 72% of all women voters identified themselves as “white.”
This subset preferred Mitt Romney by a crushing 14-point advantage, 56% to 42%. Though Democrats ratcheted up the women’s rhetoric in the run-up to Election Day, the party did poorly among the white women it sought to influence: The Republican advantage in this crucial segment of the electorate doubled to 14 points in 2012 from seven points in 2008. In the race against Mr. Romney, Obama carried the overall female vote—and with it the election—based solely on his success with the 28% of women voters who identified as nonwhite. He carried 76% of Latina women and a startling 96% of black women.
The same discrepancy exists when considering marital status. In 2012, nearly 60% of female voters were married, and they preferred Mr. Romney by six points, 53% to 46%. Black and Latina women, on the other hand, are disproportionately represented among unmarried female voters, and they favored Mr. Obama by more than 2-to-1, 67% to 31%.
“…I received a call from some of the prayer breakfast organizers saying that the White House was upset and requesting that I call the president and apologize for offending him.”
Flashback: The Prayer Breakfast Speech
For The Daily Caller, Alex Pappas writes: Neurosurgeon Ben Carson says the White House wanted him to apologize for “offending” President Obama after he famously delivered a conservative message at the National Prayer Breakfast last year.
Carson, the former director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital, recalls the events surrounding his 2013 speech in his new book, One Nation: What We Can All Do To Save America’s Future. The Daily Caller obtained an advance copy of the book, which is set for release May 20.
“He did not appear to be hostile or angry,” Carson writes of Obama, “but within a matter of minutes after the conclusion of the program, I received a call from some of the prayer breakfast organizers saying that the White House was upset and requesting that I call the president and apologize for offending him. I said that I did not think that he was offended and that I didn’t think that such a call was warranted.”
[Check out Dr. Ben Carson's upcoming book One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America's Future at Amazon]