John Glenn, the First American Astronaut to Orbit the Earth, Dies at 95 

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One of the original “Magnificent Seven” astronauts in NASA’s Mercury program, John Glenn captured the nation’s attention in 1962 when he first circumnavigated the globe and returned as a hero who had scaled heights no American had reached before. In his post-NASA career, Glenn served four terms as a U.S. senator from Ohio. Following his […]

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Source: The Washington Post


Barone: The Collapse of the Political Left

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Leftist politicians supposed that ordinary voters with modest incomes facing hard times would believe that regulation and redistribution would help them. Evidently most don’t.newsweeksocialists1

Barone-3Michael Barone writes: It’s been a tough decade for the political left. Eight years ago a Time magazine cover portrayed Barack Obama as Franklin Roosevelt, complete with cigarette and holder and a cover line proclaiming “The New New Deal.” A Newsweek cover announced “We Are All Socialists Now.”

Now the cover story is different. Time has just announced, inevitably though a bit trump-person-of-year-timebegrudgingly, that its Person of the Year for 2016 is Donald Trump. No mention of New Deals or socialism.

It’s not surprising that newsmagazine editors expected a move to the left. The history they’d been taught by New Deal admirers, influenced by the doctrines of Karl Marx, was that economic distress moves voters to demand a larger and more active government.

There was some empirical evidence in that direction as well. The recession triggered by the financial crisis of 2007-08 was the deepest experienced by anyone not old enough to remember the 1930s. Barack Obama waselected with 53 percent of the popular vote—more than any candidate since the 1980s—and Democrats had won congressional elections with similar majorities in 2006 and 2008.

“The United States Constitution was designed to provide a framework in which rights are guaranteed and voters in states can choose policies in line with their different backgrounds and beliefs.”

Things look different now, and not just because Donald Trump was elected president. It has been clear that most voters have been rejecting big government 1101081124_400policies, and not just in the United States but in most democratic nations around the world.

[Read the full story here, at Washington Examiner]

Leftist politicians supposed that ordinary voters with mdest incomes facing hard times would believe that regulation and redistribution would help them. Evidently most don’t.

The rejection was apparent in the 2010 and subsequent House elections; Republicans have now won House majorities in ten of the last 12 elections, leaving 2006 and 2008 as temporary aberrations.

“The nation-state remains the focus of most peoples’ loyalties, and in a time of economic and cultural diffusion, as Yuval Levin argues in his recent book ‘The Fractured Republic’, big government policies designed for an age of centralization have become increasingly dysfunctional.”

You didn’t hear Hillary Clinton campaign on the glories of Obamacare or the41lukv2c9xl-_sl250_ Iran nuclear deal, and her attack on “Trumped-up, trickle-down economics” didn’t strike any chords in the modest-income Midwest.

[Order Yuval Levin’s book “The Fractured Republic: Renewing America’s Social Contract in the Age of Individualism” from Amazon.com]

Republican success has been even greater in governor and state legislature elections, to the point that Democrats hold governorships and legislative control only in California, Hawaii, Delaware and Rhode Island. After eight years of the Obama presidency, Democrats hold fewer elective offices than at any time since the 1920s. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Jill Stein: People Walk Around With Floppy Disks to Hack Voter Machines 

New Hampshire Voters Head To The Polls For State's Primary

 


[VIDEO] White House Admits Gitmo Won’t Close Before Obama Leaves Office

US President Barack Obama attends a military briefing with US Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham (L) at Bagram Air Field, north of Kabul, in Afghanistan, May 25, 2014. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty ImagesGitmo-Getty

 


[VIDEO] Daniel Hannan’s Brexit View: Protesters Can’t Stop British Democracy

Brexit Champion Daniel Hannan: ‘There Are Crybabies on Both Sides of the Atlantic’

“There are some crybabies on both sides of the Atlantic, who don’t accept the verdict of the people as final. And you can see this — it’s exactly the same kind of people on both sides (of the Atlantic). It’s the slightly spoiled millennials, it’s the generation of the safe spaces and the micro-aggressions and the trigger warnings, who have been taught from the moment they went to school that the correct way to deal with a difficult opinion is to try to silence it, and that someone disagreeing with them is a form of violence, rather than something that just happens in life.”

Read the rest of this entry »


Japan in Depth: Pearl Harbor Visit Final Stage of Japan-U.S. Reconciliation

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It was previously thought that Abe was not inclined to visit Pearl Harbor. In the process of arranging Obama’s visit to Hiroshima, the U.S. State Department communicated secretly with Japan about the possibility of Abe visiting Pearl Harbor. However, the Japanese side declined. The prime minister apparently thought his visit would have a negative impact on Japan-U.S. relations because the focus would be on whether or not an apology would be made during the visit and historical arguments would resurface.

Hiroshi Tajima and Satoshi Ogawa report: Minister Shinzo Abe’s planned visit to Pearl Harbor later this month is based on his decision to demonstrate a mature and future-oriented Japan-U.S. alliance to the world. The prime minister announced Monday night that he will visit Hawaii on Dec. 26 and 27, and visit Pearl Harbor with U.S. President Barack Obama during the Hawaii stay.

“I have long thought of demonstrating the significance and symbolism of visiting Pearl Harbor and the importance of reconciliation.”

— Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

The visit with Obama — following the U.S. president’s visit to Hiroshima in May — will be a historic event to symbolize Japan-U.S. reconciliation, as the leaders of the two countries that fought fiercely against each other in World War II will have paid their respects to victims of the war on those occasions.

[Read the full story here, at The Japan News]

“I have long thought of demonstrating the significance and symbolism of visiting Pearl Harbor and the importance of reconciliation,” Abe told reporters at the Prime Minister’s Office on Monday night.

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The prime minister said he has had the idea of visiting Pearl Harbor for a long time, and started specific planning last year.

Pearl Harbor is a significant place in Japan-U.S. history along with Hiroshima and Nagasaki. On Dec. 7, 1941 (Dec. 8 Japan time), the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor and sank and damaged eight U.S. battleships, including the USS Arizona. Americans fought World War II with the phrase “Remember Pearl Harbor” in their minds.

The day after the attack, then U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt described the day of the attack as “a date which will live in infamy” in a speech at a joint session of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

At the same place Roosevelt made the speech, the prime minister delivered a speech in April last year and said: “History is harsh. What is done cannot be undone,” naming locations of battles such as Pearl Harbor and Bataan and Corregidor in the Philippines.

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With this, the prime minister expressed “deep repentance” in a speech that drew standing ovations from U.S. lawmakers and symbolized Japan-U.S. reconciliation.

Read the rest of this entry »


Obama Legacy: Endowing the Trump Administration with Broadened War Powers 

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After eight years as an autocratic president with a maximalist view of executive authority, Barack Obama is handing his successor an expansive interpretation of the commander in chief’s authority to wage war around the globe.

Josh Lederman writes:

…In his final weeks in office, Obama has broadened the legal scope of the war on extremism, the White House confirmed Monday, as it acknowledged for the first that the administration now asserts it is legally justified to take on the extremist group al-Shabab in Somalia.

The determination is based on an expanded application of a 9/11-era use of force authorization, a statute Obama has repeatedly leaned on to justify military operations. That rationale has raised concerns about how Trump might use Obama’s precedent to justify other overseas entanglements — without consulting Congress.

The White House staunchly defends Obama’s use of military power, arguing in a detailed report Monday that all operations have been firmly grounded in domestic and international law. White House counsel Neil Eggleston called the report — the first of its kind — a demonstration of how Obama has ensured “that all U.S. national security operations are conducted within a legal and policy framework that is lawful, effective and consistent with our national interests and values.”

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Yet the report, which Obama said should be updated annually, also reveals how his administration has relied overwhelmingly on the 2001 authorization, which even Obama acknowledges is outdated.

Though the law’s targets were al-Qaida and the Taliban, a clause in the bill includes “associated forces” of al-Qaida, in Afghanistan or beyond. That clause is now being used as a catch-all for military action in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Somalia and Libya, the report shows, plus the basing of U.S. troops in other countries.

[Read the full story here, at ABC News]

As for al-Shabab, until recently, the U.S. determined only that its individual leaders were linked to al-Qaida, which limited targeting of those individuals. Now the broader group is included.

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Trump has promised a more muscular and militaristic approach to counterterrorism, occasionally using expletives to suggest he’d aggressively bomb ISIS militants, although he has been vague on details.

Deborah Pearlstein, a former White House official and international law professor at Yeshiva University, said it’s likely the next administration will use Obama’s framework as its starting point. “By practice and long history, those opinions tend to stand,” she said. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Markay: Obama Was First to Try to Circumvent Media 

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REWIND Oct 24, 2016: Washington Post

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…We’re also moving Utah — yes, Utah! — from “lean Republican” to “toss-up” as independent candidate Evan McMullin, a Utah native and Mormon, continues to show considerable polling resiliency in the Beehive State. Count us as skeptical that Clinton can win in such a Republican state. But McMullin is taking lots of Republican voters away from Trump, and it’s not out of the question that the third party candidate could win the state’s six electoral votes.

And, finally — and much to our amazement — we are adding Texas to our list of competitive states, rating it as “lean Republican.” The last three polls taken in the state have shown Trump ahead by three points (twice) and four points; the Real Clear Politics polling average in the state puts Trump up 4.6 points. It speaks to how badly Trump is performing even in longtime Republican strongholds that the debate going forward won’t be whether Texas should stay on the list of competitive races but whether it should move to “toss-up.”

Those changes tilt the electoral map — and math — even more heavily toward Clinton. Clinton now has 323 electoral votes either solidly for her or leaning her way. Trump has just 180. (Reminder: You need 270 to win.) And, virtually all of the vulnerability from here until Nov. 8 is on Trump’s side. Arizona and Utah, two states that haven’t voted for a Democratic presidential nominee since 1996 and 1964, respectively, are toss-ups! Texas, the one large-population state that has long been considered solidly Republican, is within mid-single digits! States like Colorado and Virginia — swing states in the past two elections — aren’t even real opportunities for Trump anymore! Read the rest of this entry »


Report: Secret Pentagon Study Found $125B in Wasted Spending

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The Defense Department has more than 1 million contractors, civilians, and uniformed personnel on its payroll.

Anna Giaritelli reports: A Pentagon-commissioned study in 2015 found the Defense headquarters wasted $125 billion. But upon learning of the study’s results, military leaders ordered the findings never be released to the press or public, according to a report published Monday evening.

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In January 2015, the Pentagon learned it could cut $125 billion in administrative costs at the Arlington, Va., facility over the next five years. But Defense leaders chose to keep the report secret in fear lawmakers would cut funding, the Washington Post found.

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The Defense Business Board study stated all of these cutbacks could take place without any military employees being terminated. The federal advisory board of corporate executives and consultants recommended that some employees be encouraged into early retirements and their positions be eliminated through attrition, while overcompensated contractors would be cut back. Read the rest of this entry »


Senate Dems, Powerless to Stop Trump Nominees, Regret ‘Nuclear Option’ Power Play

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That fact has begun to grate at Democrats, who have complained bitterly at Republicans’ stands against Obama’s nominees.

Manu Raju and Ted Barrett report: Senate Democrats are eager to make Donald Trump pay a political price for nominating staunch conservatives to fill out his Cabinet, hoping to exact revenge for the GOP’s stubborn opposition to President Barack Obama’s nominees.

But there is little they can do about it — and some top Democrats are now coming to regret it

“Yes, we changed the rules. We had to change rules because we now have a DC Circuit that functions, we’ve got 98 judges, and we have a functioning National Labor Relations Board …. And remember, with now 48 senators, we only need to pick up a few Republicans of goodwill to stop some of these nominations.”

— Harry Reid

That’s because Senate Democrats muscled through an unprecedented rules change in 2013 to weaken the power of the minority party to filibuster Cabinet-level appointees and most judicial nominees, now setting the threshold at 51 votes — rather than 60 — to overcome tactics aimed at derailing nominations.

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“I do regret that. I frankly think many of us will regret that in this Congress because it would have been a terrific speed bump, potential emergency break, to have in our system to slow down nominees.”

—  Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, a Democrat who voted for the rules change three years ago.

With the Senate GOP poised to hold 52 seats next Congress, some Democrats now say they should have thought twice before making the rules change — known on Capitol Hill as the “nuclear option.”

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“I do regret that,” said Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, a Democrat who voted for the rules change three years ago. “I frankly think many of us will regret that in this Congress because it would have been a terrific speed bump, potential emergency break, to have in our system to slow down nominees.”

With their power weakened, Democrats are weighing how to make life difficult for the Senate GOP.

They are planning on making the fight over Rep. Tom Price’s nomination to lead the Health and Human Services Department a proxy war over the GOP’s plans to to dramatically overhaul Medicare. They want to turn Steven Mnuchin’s nomination to lead the Treasury into a battle over regulating Wall Street. And they want to make Sen. Jeff Sessions answer for his hard-line stands on civil rights issues and against comprehensive immigration reform.

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Senate Democrats plan to make speeches and mount objections to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s efforts to quickly schedule votes to confirm much of Trump’s Cabinet by the time he is inaugurated in January. Under the rules, they could delay votes from taking place for a few days at a time, temporarily slowing down the Trump agenda.

But they ultimately won’t be able to stop those nominees — unless Republicans defect and join the Democratic opposition. And that fact has begun to grate at Democrats, who have complained bitterly at Republicans’ stands against Obama’s nominees — most notably their unprecedented refusal to even give the President’s Supreme Court choice, Merrick Garland, a hearing.

Some Democrats realize they’ve made life harder for themselves. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Uncommon Knowledge: General Jim ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis on the Nature of War

General James Mattis. General Mattis retired from the Marine Corps as a full general in 2013, where he served as the eleventh commander of the United States Central Command. He also served as the commander for NATO supreme allied transformation, and as commander of the United States Joint Forces Command. Mattis is an Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution.

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The Myth of the Rural, White Working Class + Voting Against Their Self Interest

Ross William Hamilton/The Oregonian Dick and Gloria Shafer, pictured with their 9-year-old son, John, run an excavation business in Elgin. They are so frightened of drug violence, especially after a triple homicide at their town, that they say they sleep with handguns close at hand. Gloria Shafer keeps her 9 mm gun under her pillow.

‘While this book is about Appalachia, it’s a story of class warfare’

Brad King writes: I’m writing a book about Appalachia. More specially, I’m writing a memoir of my family, which helped settled what is now the poorest county in the country: Clay County, which The New York Times  dubbed “The Hardest Place to Live in America.” The book,  called So Far Appalachia, is almost done. You can sign up for the newsletter if you’re interested in more discussions about what I guess we’re now calling the “poor, white, rural voters.”

That’s the context for why we’re here.

I’m writing this post because since the Presidential election, in which our country choose Donald J. Trump as our next leader, so many of my liberal friends have been struggling to understand why — WHY? — so many working class white folks voted against Sec. Hillary Clinton.

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More specifically, on Friday, December 2 I posted  this NPR piece “In Depressed Rural Kentucky, Worries Mount Over Medicaid Cutbacks” on my Facebook page. Predictably, the new code phrases that signal disdain for Appalachians appeared. You know them: “low information voters” and “voting against their self interest.”

Instead of fighting on the Internet— which nobody enjoys— I promised that I’d dig into the book’s draft, pull out a few bits and pieces that explain why those white, rural, poor folks didn’t vote against their self interest, and wrap it up with this little introduction.

There are two things to note:

  • I’ve left all the social science out of this post. This is the exposition from the book that explains all the social science. I’ll follow up with another one giving my science-minded friends — the evidence-based crowd — the opportunity to stop spinning conspiracy stories, and instead read up on all the social science that’s been done on the region; and
  • I’ve written an entire book on the subject. This problem is complex and complicated. This post is really a distillation of some of the larger themes in the book.  But really there’s so much more.

Before We Move Forward: A Note

I need to frame this discussion — and the book. What I’m doing is very simple: explaining, not excusing. Great writing and storytelling help us see and understand worlds that are different than ours.

[Read the full story here, at Brad King]

Great stories do not whitewash away the rough edges. I can’t write a book about Appalachian culture without dealing with this important idea.

I love Appalachia, but we’ve got to recognize that racism and misogyny are deeply — deeply — embedded within the culture. Blacks and African-Americans have been nearly wiped away from the history of the region, and so too were women from all backgrounds. This isn’t a book meant to prop up the noble Appalachian working class. Nobility isn’t bestowed on any class. Not Appalachians. Not the working class. Not anyone. Nobility, where it exists, does so within individuals, in tiny moments in their lives. My family — and Appalachians — aren’t noble. My family owned slaves. There is no way around that. We did, and that’s a shame that we must bear and own.

But there’s two points that we need to clear up right now. The first is that neither of those issues is inherent only to Appalachia. The second is addressing issues of race and gender are deeply important to the future of our country. But neither will be part of this book.

While this book is about Appalachia, it’s a story of class warfare.

A Hypothetical Conundrum to Begin

Let’s begin with a hypothetical. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] How Can Capitalism Help End Poverty? Here’s How

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Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, Nigeria‘s former finance chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the president of the Institute for Liberty and Democracy Hernando de Soto join us at Fortune-Time Global Forum.


DEPARTMENT OF BAD TIMING: Jonathan Chait’s Post-Election Obama Book Do-Over

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China Complains After President-Elect Trump Speaks to Taiwan Leader Tsai Ing-wen

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Beijing (AFP) – China protested to Washington Saturday after US President-elect Donald Trump broke with decades of foreign policy and spoke with the president of Taiwan.

“It was not immediately clear whether Trump’s telephone call with Tsai Ing-wen marked a deliberate pivot away from Washington’s official ‘One China’ stance, but it fuelled fears he is improvising on international affairs.”

It was not immediately clear whether Trump’s telephone call with Tsai Ing-wen marked a deliberate pivot away from Washington’s official “One China” stance, but it fuelled fears he is improvising on international affairs.

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Xiamen University

Zhang Wensheng, of Xiamen University, was more circumspect, dismissing Trump’s use of the term ‘president’ as ‘personal greetings’ that ‘do not reflect a political position whatsoever’.

China regards self-ruling Taiwan as part of its own territory awaiting reunification under Beijing’s rule, and any US move that would imply support for independence would likely trigger fury.

[ALSO SEE – Commentary: Trump, Taiwan and China – punditfromanotherplanet]

During Friday’s discussion, Trump and Tsai noted “the close economic, political and security ties” between Taiwan and the United States, according to the president-elect’s office.

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Even before the call with Taiwan, Trump’s unorthodox diplomatic outreach had raised eyebrows, and, for some critics, in extending his hand to Taiwan, Trump crossed a dangerous line.

“President-elect Trump also congratulated President Tsai on becoming President of Taiwan earlier this year,” it said.

Beijing on Saturday offered a robust response.

“We have already made solemn representations about it to the relevant US side,” the Chinese foreign ministry said.

“There is no change to our longstanding policy on cross-Strait issues. We remain firmly committed to our ‘One China’ policy,” she added. “Our fundamental interest is in peaceful and stable cross-Strait relations.”

— National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne

“It must be pointed out that there is only one China in the world. Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory,”ObaMao

China also urged “relevant parties in the US… to handle Taiwan-related issues with caution and care to avoid unnecessarily interfering with the overall situation of Sino-US relations.”

Trump, who had come under fire for the telephone call, hit back — on Twitter.

“Interesting how the U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call,” Trump tweeted.

– ‘How wars start’ –

President Barack Obama’s White House said the outgoing US administration had not changed its stance on China-Taiwan issues.

“There is no change to our longstanding policy on cross-Strait issues,” National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne told reporters. Read the rest of this entry »


Bidding War? What Bidding War? 

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Stephen Battaglio reports: Megyn Kelly’s bestselling memoir is called “Settle for More,” but the star anchor may have to settle for less money if she decides to leave the Fox News Channel.

Kelly is said to have not made up her mind about staying with Fox News beyond the end of her contract in July, even with an offer of more than $20 million a year to stay, which would put her in the same income bracket as NBC’s “Today” co-anchor Matt Lauer.

“Katie Couric is the perfect example of how her success at the ‘Today’ show never transferred to anyplace else. And that happens with most people.”

So far no other networks have offered to top Fox’s figure, according to network news executives and agents familiar with the talks and who were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. A spokesperson for Creative Artists Agency, which represents Kelly, declined to comment on her contract negotiations.

Kelly’s future is being closely watched. She is the first breakout talent in the TV news business in recent years, becoming an even bigger name in the aftermath of her showdown with President-elect Donald Trump at the first Republican primary debate in 2015.

In an earlier era, her availability likely would have commanded a bidding war. But in a fragmented media environment where there are no longer surefire ratings hits, networks are cautious about making major financial commitments. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Krauthammer: ‘Ridiculous’ for Clinton Camp to Attribute Trump’s Election to White Supremacy 

Well, look, every time liberals lose, they accuse the other side of all kinds of isms. That’s been going on for 50 years. At a certain point they run out of steam. You can argue that, yes, there were times when Trump might have allowed sort of going beyond the bounds of what is tolerable in political speech. But to attribute the loss to racism or an appeal to white supremacy I think is ridiculous. She didn’t even show up in Wisconsin. She lost Wisconsin. There were layers and layers of mistakes that she made, and in the end, the reason she lost is she had nothing to say. She was running because it was her turn. There was no way — remember from one of the internal messages that were leaked on WikiLeaks, someone said, “What is our message?” This is from inside the campaign. She would like to blame it on the basket of deplorables. I don’t think that’s going to hold up. Yes, you can launch a criticism of some of the things that were happening on the edges of the campaign. But it does not account for the outcome.

Read more at The Corner