Maybe Doomsday preppers aren’t so crazy after all.
Journalist Garrett Graff takes readers through the 60-year history of the government’s secret Doomsday plans to survive nuclear war in his painstakingly researched book Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government’s Secret Plan to Save Itself–While the Rest of Us Die (Simon & Schuster), out now.
He focuses on the Cold War-era government bunkers across the country that were built to house the President and various Washington elites — members of a so-called “shadow government” in the worst nuclear Armageddon scenario.
Since September 11, 2001, Congress has intensified their interest in and funding of top secret “Continuity of Government” (COG) in ways not seen since the Cold War. With hundreds of newly declassified documents, the book, currently in development with NBC as a TV show, includes never-before-heard intel on the country’s top secret bunkers — mythical places like Raven Rock and Mount Weather.
Here’s the low down on some of these bunkers down below…
Lillington, NC • For military
Built near Camp David to house the military, as a backup for the Pentagon — and perhaps even the President — during an emergency, Raven Rock has retained an air of secrecy ever since construction started in 1948.
Not that it could remain completely clandestine, given the 300-person team (including miners poached from theLincoln Tunnel dig) who carved a 3,100-foot tunnel out of granite in Raven Rock Mountain near Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania.
“There were very few engineers with the expertise to hollow out a mountain and build, in essence, a free-standing city inside of it. The US government turned to the construction firm Parsons Brinckerhoff, which had developed unique tunneling expertise working on the New York City subway,” Graff told The Post.
Locals caught on and word spread to the media, who dubbed the project “Harry’s Hole,” after President Truman who greenlit the project.
Opened in 1953 and designed “to be the centerpiece of a large military emergency hub,” Raven Rock provided 100,000 feet of office space (not counting, Graff writes, “the corridors, bathrooms, dining facility, infirmary or communications and utilities areas”) that could hold about 1,400 people comfortably. Two sets of 34-ton blast doors and curved 1,000-foot-long tunnels reduce the impact of a bomb blast. The compound has undergone several rounds of upgrades — new buildings were added as well as updated technology and air filtration systems. Read the rest of this entry »
“Bob Beckel was terminated today for making an insensitive remark to an African-American employee,” the network said in a statement.
The dismissal opens — or perhaps closes — another chapter in an off-and-on relationship Beckel has had with the 21st Century Fox-owned cable-news outlet over the years. Beckel, a longtime political consultant as well as a former campaign manager for Democratic presidential candidate Walter Mondale, joined Fox News in 2000, and had a years-long tenure on “The Five” when it aired in the late afternoon. Indeed, he was one of the program’s original co-hosts.
He departed in 2015 while recuperating from back surgery in a split that was seen as less an amicable. “We tried to work with Bob for months, but we couldn’t hold ‘The Five’ hostage to one man’s personal issues,” said Bill Shine, who was then the network’s executive vice president of programming, in a statement at the time. “He took tremendous advantage of our generosity, empathy and goodwill and we simply came to the end of the road with him.”
But Beckel returned to Fox News in 2017 after doing a stint at CNN, and was greeted with open arms. “Bob was missed by many fans of ‘The Five’ and we’re happy to welcome him back to the show,” said Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of Fox News Channel and its corporate parent, 21st Century Fox, in a prepared statement, in January.
Fox News’ human resources department was made aware of a complaint about what one person familiar with the situation characterized as a “racially insensitive remark” on Tuesday evening. Executives conducted an internal investigation, this person said, and decided to part ways with Beckel Friday morning. Read the rest of this entry »
From 2004: A behind-the-scenes look back at the man himself—detached yet accessible, astute and prophetic, colorful and complex.
June 28, 2004 Issue: There they lie in their guttered drawers, projecting from the rosewood desk I had specially made for them: four yards of cards, each eight inches wide, five inches tall, most of them with his initials handwritten, headline style, in the top left-hand corner, from “rr’s birth zodiac—feb. 6, 1911” to “rr dies of pneumonia—june 5, 2004.” In between these two extremes, some eighteen thousand cards document whatever I was able to find out about thirty-four thousand of Ronald Reagan’s days. Which leaves sixteen thousand days unaccounted for. Lost leaves. “The leavings of a life,” as D. H. Lawrence might say.
“All the rhetorical arts—gesture, timing, comedy, pathos—were at his command.”
I once planned to show Reagan this card file, just to see him react as drawer after drawer rolled out yard by yard, green tabs demarcating his years, yellow tabs his careers, blue tabs his triumphs and disappointments. He could have looked down, as it were, on the topography of his biography, and seen the shoe salesman’s son moving from town to town across northern Illinois, in the teens of the last century; the adolescent achieving some sort of stability at Dixon High School in 1924; the Eureka College student and summer lifeguard through 1933; then, successively—each divider spaced farther from the next, as he grew in worldly importance—the Des Moines sportscaster and ardent New Dealer; the Hollywood film star; the cavalry officer and Air Corps adjutant; the postwar union leader and anti-Communist; the television host and corporate spokesman for General Electric; the governor of California, 1967-75; the twice-defeated, ultimately successful candidate for his party’s Presidential nomination; and, last, the septuagenarian statesman, so prodigiously carded that the nine tabs “1981” through “1989” stand isolated like stumps in snow.
He never visited my study, however, and on reflection I am glad he did not, because he might have been disturbed to see how far he had come in nearly eighty years, and how few more cards he was likely to generate after leaving the White House. Besides, I would have had to keep my forearm over a file more than a foot long, practically bristling with tabs descriptive of “rr the man.” Now that the man is no more, and subject to the soft focus of sentimental recall, a riffle through some of these tabs might help restore his image in all its color and complexity.
The first subsection deals with Ronald Reagan’s body. In 1988, at seventy-seven years of age, the President stood six feet one and weighed a hundred and ninety pounds, none of it flab. He boasted that any punch aimed at his abdomen would be jarringly repulsed. After a lifetime of working out with wheels and bars, he had broadened his chest to a formidably walled cavern forty-four inches in circumference. He was a natural athlete, with a peculiarly graceful Algonquin gait that brought him into rooms almost soundlessly. No matter how fast he moved (that big body could turn on a dime), he was always balanced.
One recalls how elegantly he choreographed Mikhail Gorbachev up the steps at the 1985 Geneva summit: an arabesque of dark blue flowing around awkward gray. Reagan loved to swim, ride, and foxtrot. (Doris Day remembers him as “the only man I ever knew who really liked to dance.”) Eleven weeks after nearly dying in the assassination attempt of 1981, he climbed onto the springboard at the Camp David swimming pool and threw a perfect half pike before anybody could protest.
Gorbachev once remarked on Reagan’s “balance” to me in an interview. But he used the Russian word ravnovesie in its wider sense, of psychological equilibrium. The President’s poised body and smooth yet inexorable motion telegraphed a larger force that came of a lifetime of no self-doubt (except for two years of despair in 1948-49, after Jane Wyman, his first wife, left him for boring her). Reagan redux did not care whom he bored, as long as nobody tried to stop him. His famous anecdotes, recounted with a speed and economy that were the verbal equivalent of balance, were persuasive on the first, and even the fourth, telling. But when you heard them for the fourteenth, or the fortieth, time, always with exactly the same inflections and chuckles and glances, you realized that he was a bore in the sense that a combine harvester is boring: its only purpose is to bear down upon and thresh whatever grain lies in its path. Reagan used homilies to harvest people.
He was always meticulously dressed in tailored suits and handmade shoes and boots. But he was neither a dandy nor a spendthrift. In 1976, he still stepped out in a pair of high-cut, big-tongued alligator pumps that predated the Cold War: “Do you realize what I paid for these thirty years ago?” His personal taste never advanced beyond the first affectations of the nouveau riche. Hence the Corum twenty-dollar-face wristwatch, the Countess Mara ties, the Glen checks too large or too pale, and a weekend tartan blazer that was, in Bertie Wooster’s phrase, “rather sudden, till you got used to it.” Yet Reagan avoided vulgarity, because he sported such things without self-consciousness. And he wore the plainer suits that rotated through his wardrobe just as unpretentiously. No man ever looked better in navy blue, or black tie.
On a card inscribed “alcohol”—his father’s cross—appears the comment of an old Hollywood friend: “Ronnie never had a booze problem, but once every coupla years, he wasn’t averse to a lot of drink. Its only effect was to make him more genial.” His face would flush after a mere half glass of Pinot Noir, giving rise to repeated rumors that he used rouge.
Actually, Reagan never required makeup, even when he was a movie actor. He didn’t sweat under hot lights: he basked in them. A young photographer who did a cover portrait of him in 1984 for Fortune told me, “When I walked into the Oval Office, I thought my career was made. He was just back from a long campaign swing, and looked terrible, all drained and lined. I hit him with every harsh spot I had, and etched out those wrinkles, figuring I’d do what Richard Avedon did to Dottie Parker. Know what? When my contacts came back from the darkroom, the old bastard looked like a million bucks. Taught me a real lesson. Ronald Reagan wasn’t just born for the camera. There’s something about him that film likes.”
Several of my cards itemize the President’s deafness. People who sat to his right imagined that they were privileged. In fact, he heard nothing on that side, having blown an eardrum during a shoot-out scene in one of his old movies. His left ear was not much better, so he relied increasingly on hearing aids, although their distortion pained him. One learned not to sneeze in his presence. When the room was crowded and voice levels rose, he would furtively switch off his sound box. I could tell from a slight frown in his gaze that he was lip-reading.
The quietness that insulated him was accentuated by severe myopia. As a boy, “Dutch” Reagan assumed that nature was a blur. Not until he put on his mother’s spectacles, around the age of thirteen, did he perceive the world in all its sharp-edged intricacy. He did not find it disorienting, as somebody who had been blind from birth might. Perhaps his later, Rothko-like preference for large, luminous policy blocks (as opposed to, say, Bill Clinton’s fly’s-eye view of government as a multifacetted montage, endlessly adjustable) derived from his unfocussed childhood.
Or perhaps the novelist Ray Bradbury, who also grew up four-eyed in small-town Illinois, has a more informed theory. “I often wonder whether or not you become myopic for a physical reason of not wanting to face the world,” Bradbury says in an oral history. Like Dutch, he competed with a popular, extrovert elder brother by “making happy things for myself and creating new images of the world for myself.” Reagan was not introverted, yet from infancy he had the same kind of “happy” self-centeredness that Bradbury speaks of, the same need to inhabit an imaginative construct in which outside reality was refracted, or reordered, to his liking. “I was completely surrounded by a wall of light,” Reagan wrote of his first venture onto a movie set. It was clear that the sensation was agreeable. Read the rest of this entry »
Nice job liberals.
John Ziegler writes:
…It is very clear that academia is tremendously biased against conservatives and is extremely hypocritical on the issue of “free speech.” In the vast majority of our places of higher learning (even at the high school level), “academic diversity” means that the school makes sure that they have a liberal of every color, gender, sexual persuasion, and religion. Generally, a “conservative” is defined as someone who thinks that George W. Bush was legitimately elected and didn’t purposely lie to get us into Iraq (I’m not kidding).
Understanding this, Yiannopolus has decided to take personal advantage of the left’s all-too-predictable freak-out over an openly gay conservative who calls himself a “faggot” being allowed a microphone and an auditorium on a major college campus. He obviously schedules his events to create the greatest possible chance to be banned, cancelled, or to create chaos, all of which gives him what he wants most: publicity and martyrdom.
At Berkeley, he got probably more than he could have ever dreamed of, with hundreds of apparent students gathering to protest and creating all sorts of destruction on live television. This caused his “performance,” as the school aptly described it in a tweet, to be cancelled (which is basically the dictionary definition of the “heckler’s veto,” which used to be a concept for which academia had complete disdain). This, of course, in the era of modern media and the perverse incentives it creates, was the best outcome for which he could have possibly hoped.
Thanks to this, Milo’s national profile increased greatly. He got to expose the liberal academics as the hypocrites that they are while being allowed to take the moral high ground. The President of the United States effectively tweeted his support while threatening to pull federal funding from the school. He got invited to be an in-studio guest on Tucker Carlson’s new hit Fox News show. And his already controversial book dramatically surged in sales. All of this without having to even say a word to the miniscule crowd which would have heard him speak that night.
Nice job liberals.
This whole episode went so poorly for the liberal “resistance” that several prominent voices are deluding themselves (or just desperately lying) into thinking that this really was NOT all the fault of young liberal “special snowflakes” who grew up getting participation trophies and can’t even deal with an opposing opinion. That’s right. You see, at least according to some on the left, this was all part of a grand right-wing conspiracy to make it LOOK like a riot by liberals.
Yeah, and I heard that the very same people were also behind the “Bowling Green Massacre.”
For many reasons, this “theory’ is absurd on its face. First, it should be pointed out that just because someone benefits from a circumstance, as Milo clearly did here, that not means that they were responsible for creating those events (though, I’m sure he anticipated/welcomed them). Milo may have set a trap for liberals, but, like a husband who makes a pass at his wife’s hot friend, that doesn’t get them off the hook for stupidly taking the bait. Read the rest of this entry »
Gallup Poll: President Obama’s Average Approval Rating was Among the Worst of the Post-War PresidentsPosted: January 26, 2017
Only three presidents scored worse than Obama since Gallup started doing these surveys in 1945.
As President Obama left the White House, the mainstream press was falling over itself proclaiming how popular he was.
“Obama leaving office on a very high note,” was a typical headline.
Yet despite the media’s fixation with polls, the press completely buried one of the more newsworthy poll findings — a Gallup report that came out last Friday, which took a final look at the President Obama’s popularity over his eight years in office.
“Obama even did worse overall than Richard Nixon, whose average approval was 49%, and was less popular overall than George W. Bush, who got an average 49.4%.”
That poll found that Obama’s overall average approval rating was a dismal 47.9%.
Obama even did worse overall than Richard Nixon, whose average approval was 49%, and was less popular overall than George W. Bush, who got an average 49.4%.
That sounds newsworthy, doesn’t it? But you’d never know this if you relied on the mainstream press for information. That’s because not one of them reported on Gallup’s finding. Read the rest of this entry »
“Obama’s approval ratings also fell to 38% in September 2014, shortly after the Islamic State terrorist group released videos showing the beheadings of U.S. journalists captured overseas.”
Gallup, in an analysis released Friday, published the average approval rating for all twelve presidents who have served since World War II.
“After his first year he received sustained majority approval only once more during his first term in office. Fortunately for him, that came during his 16th quarter in office — around the time he was re-elected in the fall of 2012.”
John F. Kennedy ranks highest with an average approval rating of 70.1 percent. He is followed by Dwight Eisenhower (65.0 percent), George H.W. Bush (60.9 percent), Bill Clinton (55.1 percent), Lyndon Johnson (55.1 percent), Ronald Reagan (52.8 percent), George W. Bush (49.4 percent), Barack Obama (47.9 percent), Gerald Ford (47.2 percent), Jimmy Carter (45.5 percent) and Harry Truman (45.4 percent). Read the rest of this entry »
THE BIG IDEA: President Trump completed his hostile takeover of the Republican Party last July, and on Friday he completed his hostile, if temporary, takeover of Washington.
In some significant ways, Trump is more like a corporate raider of the 1980s, when he came of age, than a typical politician of 2017. Thirty years ago, Gordon Gekko might have been more likely to deliver the speech that the billionaire businessman did today than Ronald Reagan.
No president has ever before referred to “the establishment” in his inaugural address nor declared that every country in the world ought to pursue its own self-interest. But the guy who ended the Bush dynasty and then vanquished the Clinton machine, in a period of 17 months, put “the establishment” of both parties on notice once more.
“For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost,” he said, as leaders from each side of the aisle looked on stoically. “The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. … What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.” Read the rest of this entry »
Chris Cox is the head of ‘Bikers for Trump.’
Chris Cox surveyed a small park near the U.S. Capitol, his German shepherd by his side. Wearing a Harley-Davidson jacket and a crocodile-skin cowboy hat adorned with the animal’s teeth atop his moppy, curly hair, Cox made for a particularly discordant sight in the heart of federal Washington on a misty weekend morning.
But Cox had logistics to sort out, an Inauguration Day demonstration with motorcycle die-hards from across the nation to plan.
The 48-year-old chain-saw artist from South Carolina was an early and enthusiastic supporter of President-elect Donald Trump. Now that his guy has won, Cox wants to ensure that the group he founded, Bikers for Trump, strengthens its political muscle during Trump’s presidency and beyond.
The group obtained a permit for what is expected to be the largest pro-Trump rally held by a private group in the nation’s capital timed to the inauguration. Cox calls the planned event at John Marshall Park a “halftime rally” and said there will be speakers, musical performances and upward of 5,000 bikers in attendance.
As he walked through the park with his dog, Trigger — the massive “Bikers for Trump” patch on the back of his jacket visible from every vantage — Cox began planning where to put the stage, the speakers and the portable toilets.
“Bikers are strongly organized locally,” Cox said. “They just haven’t been organized nationally before.”
Cox launched the organization in October 2015, back when Trump was still running what was considered a quixotic campaign. Since then, he has hosted rallies throughout the country, with his biker group growing to tens of thousands of mostly white men, many of whom are veterans.
During Trump’s own rallies, and at the Republican National Convention, the group has served as a vigilante security force, providing human barricades between supporters and protesters.
When Cox got Trigger a few months ago from the Czech Republic through trades he made with a guy he met at a Trump rally in South Dakota, he joked about naming the new pet Keith Schiller, after the head of security for the Trump Organization.
Ultimately, Cox said, he wants to transform bikers into a distinct voting bloc, akin to the Christian Coalition or Teamsters. His group is composed of members of established groups such as Bikers for Christ and Veteran Bikers MC, and Cox says there are many more unaffiliated “lone wolf” bikers to still bring into the political fray. But the plausibility of creating a unified voting bloc remains to be seen, particularly considering there are at least two other Trump motorcycle events happening in the District around inauguration. Read the rest of this entry »
Incoming president Donald J. Trump inherits a presidential office more powerful than it has ever been.
The Growth of Presidential Power
Eisenhower warned that this was a problem.The dramatic increase in government services and departments during the Great Depression, coupled with the expansionary effects of a world war, left the federal government, and the president in particular, with new and broad powers. Gazing upon the redesigned government, Eisenhower warned of a military-industrial complex, saying, “Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.”
Nonetheless, many citizens did not worry as Johnson to create “The Great Society.”
With Nixon, however, Americans awakened to the real problem of providing presidents with so much control over foreign and domestic affairs. Nixon claimed the power to unilaterally authorize the bombing of Cambodia (after Congress explicitly condemned any action in that country) and he authorized the NSA to spy on American citizens without a warrant.
Congress attempted to check these actions, creating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court intended to provide government oversight of domestic surveillance. Instead, it provided the government with judges they needed to rubber stamp warrants for domestic surveillance.
They also passed the War Powers Resolution intended to contain presidential discretion over military affairs. Instead, it served to provide the executive with a way to legally justify unilateral action that falls below the 60-90 day threshold. Presidents came to have legal authority to engage in actions without having to go through Congress.
For this reason, Reagan saw a genuine opportunity to maintain popularity and achieve his objectives as president by using the power of his office to dramatically increase the arms race in order to defeat the Soviet Union. His gamble paid off as the Soviet Union fell.
Both George H.W. Bush and Clinton followed this model, seeing major domestic policies frustrated while enjoying heightened popularity when they intervened internationally.
By the time George W. Bush came to power, the executive branch had an established focus on international crises, only paying lip service to any sweeping legislative changes. The War on Terror served as a shot of steroids to presidential unilateralism and continues juicing it to this day.
While the president today has a variety of powers (enumerated, implied, discretionary and — more controversially — inherent ones), none are more controversial and disconcerting than the commander-in-chief power and the ability to authorize executive orders.
The Commander-in-Chief Power
As we all know from reading the Constitution (that’s something everyone does, right?) the president is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. This provides him with the ability to initiate hostilities against any organization or country around the world at any time by ordering the armed forces into action.
They are duty-bound to follow his orders. Even if the president orders an illegal action, such as waterboarding suspects or targeting the families of terrorists, it is likely that the military would have the same reaction as they did when George W. Bush ordered illegal actions — they obeyed and simply wrote memos outlining their legal and moral concerns. Read the rest of this entry »
There’s no other way to describe it.
In 2013, Cillizza’s selection was Barack Obama. He cited the botched rollout of Healthcare.gov, the NSA domestic-surveillance scandal, the IRS’s targeting of tea-party groups, and the continuing questions about the administration’s actions before, during, and after the attack on Americans in Benghazi.
“These are strenuous efforts to avoid the obvious: Obama’s ideas didn’t work. He failed to deliver what he promised.”
In 2014, Cillizza’s selection was Obama, again. The midterm elections went abysmally for Democrats, the threat of ISIS became much clearer, Russia moved into Ukraine, and former CIA director and secretary of defense Leon Panetta painted an unflattering portrait of the president’s leadership in his memoirs.
In 2015, Cillizza picked two co-“winners,” Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton. The reasons were obvious. By December 2015, it was clear Bush’s odds of winning the nomination were small and shrinking quickly. Clinton, meanwhile, looked likely to emerge bloodied from the Democratic primaries after a tougher-than-expected fight with Bernie Sanders.
“President Obama’s second term has been a terrible failure for the country. A nation that is pleased with the status quo — a nation that feels prosperous, safe, and confident about the future — doesn’t choose to roll the dice with Donald Trump.”
This year, Cillizza assessed the surprising post-election political landscape and selected “The Democrats”:
The Democrats may be effectively locked out of power in all three branches of government for years. At the state level, after last month’s elections, they’ll control only 16 governorships and 13 legislatures.
This year, punctuated by Hillary Clinton’s loss, exposed the remarkably shallow depth of the Democratic bench. The size of the Republican primary field — for which the GOP was relentlessly mocked — was also a sign of the party’s health up and down the ballot. Democrats simply didn’t have the political talent to put forward 17 candidates (or even seven). That’s partly because there’s been limited opportunity to move up in the leadership ranks. Pelosi (Calif.) and Reps. Steny H. Hoyer (Md.) and James E. Clyburn (S.C) have had a death grip on the party’s top congressional slots for a very long time. It’s also partly because the Democratic farm system is hurting.
Lined up one after another, Cillizza’s picks create a broader narrative: President Obama’s second term has been a terrible failure for the country. A nation that is pleased with the status quo — a nation that feels prosperous, safe, and confident about the future — doesn’t choose to roll the dice with Donald Trump.
The Regulatory Gray Goo Nightmare
Paul Bedard reports: The new implementation of EPA rules on heavy trucks has boosted the 10-year regulatory burden on America past $1 trillion, 75 percent of which have been imposed by the Obama administration.
That amounts to a one-time charge of $3,080 per person, or an annual cost of $540, according to a new analysis from American Action Forum.
“In other words, each year every person, regardless of age, in the nation is responsible for paying roughly $540 in regulatory costs. These burdens might take the form of higher prices, fewer jobs, or reduced wages,” said AAF’s Sam Batkins, director of regulatory policy at the watchdog group.
The staggering amount is likely to surge even higher as President Obama scrambles to lock in several environmental regulations before leaving office. He has already broken records for new regulations and added red tape this year and still has 50 days in office.
Incoming President-elect Trump has promised to kill two current regulations for every new one he adds.
The new high in regulatory costs, said Batkins, came after new fuel standards for trucks were implemented. Read the rest of this entry »
As of the close of business, on Wednesday, Oct. 5—the latest day for which the Treasury has reported—the total federal debt was $19,663,411,497,797.40. That means that so far in Obama’s presidency, the federal debt has increased $9,036,534,448,884.32.
Terence P. Jeffrey reports: The federal government passed a fiscal milestone on the first business day of fiscal 2017—which was Monday, Oct. 3—when the total federal debt accumulated during the presidency of Barack Obama topped $9,000,000,000,000 for the first time.
On Jan. 20, 2009, when Obama was inaugurated, the total debt of the federal government was $10,626,877,048,913.08, according to data published by the U.S. Treasury.
As of the close of business on Friday, Sept, 30, the last day of fiscal 2016, the total federal debt was $19,573,444,713,936.79. At that point, the total federal debt had increased under Obama by $8,946,567,665,023.71.
On Monday, Oct. 3, the first business day of fiscal 2017, the total federal debt closed at $19,642,949,742,561.51. At that point, the debt had increased under Obama by $9,016,072,693,648.43 from the $10,626,877,048,913.08 it stood at on the day of Obama’s inauguration.
As of the close of business, on Wednesday, Oct. 5—the latest day for which the Treasury has reported—the total federal debt was $19,663,411,497,797.40. That means that so far in Obama’s presidency, the federal debt has increased $9,036,534,448,884.32. Read the rest of this entry »
President Obama patted himself on the back for a job well done at a press conference on Monday, after voters rebuked his policies in the November election.
2016 Election: Voters just rejected his policies, rejected his Pollyannaish view of the economy and handed his party defeats at every level of government. But as far as President Obama is concerned, everything he’s done is magic.
“Between 2009, when Barack Obama took office, and today, as he prepares to retire from it, more than 1,100 Democratic elected officials lost their jobs to Republicans. That number is unprecedented.”
— John Podhoretz and Noah Rothman, in Commentary
After the shellacking they took in the election last week, Democrats have been counseling each other to get outside their liberal “bubble” so they can reconnect with regular Americans. But not Obama.
At his press conference on Monday, Obama failed to show a scintilla of humility. His economic polices are working, ObamaCare is doing better than expected, all is well. “We should be very proud,” he said, that “when we turn over the keys the car is in pretty good shape.”
Proud? Is he kidding? Let’s review the evidence.
First, Obama has just suffered one of the harshest repudiations on record.
Despite Obama’s continued insistence on his own masterful handling of the economy, working class Americans handed the keys to the candidate who pledged to undo just about all of Obama’s so-called achievements. Trump vows to repeal ObamaCare, do a 180 degree turn on Obama’s tax policy, undo Dodd-Frank, reverse course on his immigration policy, walk away from Obama’s global warming agreements and heavy-handed regulations. Read the rest of this entry »
Liberals liked executive authority as long as Obama wielded it. Now they’ve set a precedent.
Glenn Greenwald writes: Liberals are understandably panicked about what Donald Trump can carry out. “We have a president-elect with authoritarian tendencies assuming a presidency that has never been more powerful,” Franklin Foer wrote this past week in Slate. Trump will command not only a massive nuclear arsenal and the most robust military in history, but also the ability to wage numerous wars in secret and without congressional authorization; a ubiquitous system of electronic surveillance that can reach most forms of human communication and activity; and countless methods for shielding himself from judicial accountability, congressional oversight and the rule of law — exactly what the Constitution was created to prevent. Trump assumes the presidency “at the peak of its imperial powers,” as Foer put it.
“After Obama took office, many liberals often tolerated — and even praised — his aggressive assertions of executive authority. It is hard to overstate how complete the Democrats’ about-face on these questions was once their own leader controlled the levers of power.”
Sen. Barack Obama certainly saw it that way when he first ran for president in 2008. Limiting executive-power abuses and protecting civil liberties were central themes of his campaign. The former law professor repeatedly railed against the Bush-Cheney template of vesting the president with unchecked authorities in the name of fighting terrorism or achieving other policy objectives.
“After just three years of the Obama presidency, liberals sanctioned a system that allowed the president to imprison people without any trial or an ounce of due process.”
“This administration also puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we provide,” he said in 2007. Listing an array of controversial Bush-Cheney policies, from warrantless domestic surveillance to due-process-free investigations and imprisonment, he vowed: “We will again set an example for the world that the law is not subject to the whims of stubborn rulers.”
“Blinded by the belief that Obama was too benevolent and benign to abuse his office, and drowning in partisan loyalties at the expense of political principles, Democrats consecrated this framework with their acquiescence and, often, their explicit approval. This is the unrestrained set of powers Trump will inherit.”
Yet, beginning in his first month in office and continuing through today, Obama not only continued many of the most extreme executive-power policies he once condemned, but in many cases strengthened and extended them. His administration detained terrorism suspects without due process, proposed new frameworks to keep them locked up without trial, targeted thousands of individuals (including a U.S. citizen) for execution by drone, invoked secrecy doctrines to shield torture and eavesdropping programs from judicial review, and covertly expanded the nation’s mass electronic surveillance.
“Beginning in his first month in office and continuing through today, Obama not only continued many of the most extreme executive-power policies he once condemned, but in many cases strengthened and extended them.”
Blinded by the belief that Obama was too benevolent and benign to abuse his office, and drowning in partisan loyalties at the expense of political principles, Democrats consecrated this framework with their acquiescence and, often, their explicit approval. This is the unrestrained set of powers Trump will inherit. The president-elect frightens them, so they are now alarmed. But if they want to know whom to blame, they should look in the mirror.
Obama’s approach to executive power flipped so quickly and diametrically that it is impossible to say if he ever believed his campaign-era professions of restraint. As early as May 2009, Jack Goldsmith, a Justice Department official under George W. Bush, celebrated Obama’s abandonment of his promises to rein in these authorities, writingthat “the new administration has copied most of the Bush program, has expanded some of it, and has narrowed only a bit.” He added that the “Obama practices will be much closer to late Bush practices than almost anyone expected in January 2009.”
“Obama’s approach to executive power flipped so quickly and diametrically that it is impossible to say if he ever believed his campaign-era professions of restraint.”
By putting a prettier liberal face on these policies, and transforming them from a symbol of GOP radicalism into one of bipartisan security consensus, the president entrenched them as permanent fixtures of the American presidency. As Goldsmith put it, Obama’s actions were “designed to fortify the bulk of the Bush program for the long-run.”
“In fact, a new Democratic Party orthodoxy took hold under Obama: the right of a president to detain people, or even assassinate them, without charges or a whiff of judicial oversight. This included even American citizens.”
Liberals vehemently denounced these abuses during the Bush presidency. From 2001 through 2008, Democrats called them the embodiment of tyranny, an existential threat to democracy, a menacing expression of right-wing radicalism. Read the rest of this entry »
“Look, the fact that the President goes way out of his way, for seven and a half years, to avoid the phrase that is obviously the most descriptive of the enemy, radical Islam, means he’s doing it for a purpose.”
“He pretends and says well, it’s a magical phrase. … I think the President said, calling it a threat by a different name doesn’t make it go away. Of course it doesn’t! Nobody implies it does.”
“But deliberately calling it something meaningless: ‘violent extremism’ is a completely empty phrase. No one has ever strapped on a suicide vest in the name of extremism; nobody dies in the name of extremism.”
“Obama is deliberately trying to deny, or to hide, or to disguise, the connection between all of these disparate acts and groups, and if you want to mobilize a country behind you, you need to tell them who the enemy is and why it’s doing what it is.” Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] How Jerry Parr Changed History: Thirty-Five Years Ago Today, This Man Saved Ronald Reagan’s LifePosted: March 30, 2016
Michael Auslin writes: Today is the 35th anniversary of John Hinckley Jr.’s assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan, the last time an assassin came so close to success. Last year, I wrote on the Corner about meeting Jerry Parr, the head of Reagan’s Secret Service security detail, and the man largely credited with saving Reagan’s life on that day. This is a good day to remember his heroism…(read more)
The White House rammed through an agenda that could be quickly undone by a Republican president.
Phil Gramm and Michael Solon write: President Obama seems to aspire to join Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan as one of the three most transformative presidents of the past hundred years, and by all outward signs he has achieved that goal. But while Roosevelt and Reagan sold their programs to the American people and enacted them with bipartisan support, Mr. Obama jammed his partisan agenda down the public’s throat. The Obama legacy is built on executive orders, regulations and agency actions that can be overturned using the same authority Mr. Obama employed to put them in place.
“If the new president proves as committed to overturning these regulations as Mr. Obama was to implementing them, these rules could be amended or overturned. And because Senate Democrats “nuked” the right of the minority to filibuster administration nominees, the new president’s appointees could not be blocked by Democrats if Republicans retain control of the Senate.”
An array of President Obama’s policies—changing immigration law, blocking the Keystone XL pipeline, the Iranian nuclear agreement and the normalization of relations with Cuba, among others—were implemented exclusively through executive action.
Because any president is free “to revoke, modify or supersede his own orders or those issued by a predecessor,” as the Congressional Research Service puts it, a Republican president could overturn every Obama executive action the moment after taking the oath of office.
“To accelerate this process, the new president should name cabinet and agency appointees before the 115th Congress begins. He could declare an economic emergency and ask the agencies to initiate the rule-making process promptly. On the first day in the Oval Office the president could order federal agencies to halt consideration of all pending regulations—precisely as President Obama did.”
At the beginning of the inaugural address, the new president could sign an executive order rescinding all of Mr. Obama’s executive orders deemed harmful to economic growth or constitutionally suspect. The new president could then establish a blue-ribbon commission to review all other Obama executive orders. Any order not reissued or amended in 60 days could be automatically rescinded.
“The Affordable Care Act also grants substantial flexibility in its implementation, a feature Mr. Obama has repeatedly exploited. The new president could suspend penalties for individuals and employers, enforce income-verification requirements, ease the premium shock on young enrollees by adjusting the community rating system, allow different pricing structures inside the exchanges and alter provider compensation.”
Then there’s the trove of regulations used largely to push through policies that could have never passed Congress. For example, when President Obama in 2010 couldn’t ram through his climate-change legislation in a Democratic
Senate, he used decades-old regulatory authority to inflict the green agenda on power plants and the auto industry.
“These actions could begin dismantling the most pernicious parts of ObamaCare and prevent its roots from deepening as Congress debates its repeal and replacement.”
This is far from the only example: Labor Department rules on fiduciary standards; the National Labor Relations Board’s ruling that franchisees are joint employers; the Environmental Protection Agency’s power grab over water ways; the Federal Communications Commission’s attempt to regulate the Internet as a 1930s telephone monopoly. All are illustrations of how President Obama has used rule-making not to carry out congressional intent but to circumvent it. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s looked unified compared to the fractious Republican presidential field, but contentious issues—like increasing crime—could tear it apart.
David Frum writes: Nobody explained the crack-up of the New Deal coalition better than New York Mayor Ed Koch at the 1980 Democratic convention:
When I ran for Mayor, I went up to a Bronx senior citizens center, and I told 200 senior citizens: “Ladies and gentlemen, a judge I helped elect was mugged recently. And do you know what that judge did, ladies and gentlemen? He called a press conference and he said to the newsmen, ‘This mugging of me will in no way affect my decision in matters of this kind.’ And an elderly lady got up in the back of the room and said, ‘Then mug him again.’”
It was crime more than any other single issue that drove blue-collar voters in the industrial states from the party of Truman and Johnson to the party of Nixon and Reagan. In 1974—a year of energy shock, inflation, recession, Watergate, Vietnam, and other crises—Americans told pollsters they regarded crime as the single-most important issue facing the country. That year, the Department of Justice introduced a new and more accurate method of collecting crime statistics. It found that 37 million American households—one out of four—had suffered a rape, robbery, burglary, assault, larceny, or auto theft in the previous year.
“It was crime that separated New Democrats from Old in the 1980s. Bill Clinton was determined that nobody would Willie Horton him. He backed the death penalty, endorsed longer sentences, and funded local police forces, all with a view to stopping crime by punishing criminals.”
Then the crime rate fell. It fell suddenly, it fell fast, and it fell far. By 2010, rates of crime against person and property had fallen to levels not seen since the early 1960s. In New York City, crime rates tumbled even lower. The great crime decline reshaped cities, remade the economy, and transformed American politics. Read the rest of this entry »
Are we conservative? It’s a question worth asking.
Christopher Bedford writes: When the biggest-drawing presidential candidate is a socialist, when the Republican front-runner is a reality TV star, it’s worth wondering if we ever really were. We: The Americans.
“So two months before John F. Kennedy would defeat Richard M. Nixon, 90 or so young men and women gathered at the Sharon, Connecticut estate of their young leader, William F. Buckley, to declare, ‘In this time of moral and political crises, it is the responsibility of the youth of America to affirm certain eternal truths.'”
Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan. These men bestrode 20th century politics, each standing for largely different things. So how could sound political conservatism be the reason for Mr. Reagan’s popularity when Messrs. Roosevelts each represent its rejection?
“The ‘certain eternal truths’ that followed were the most succinct explanation of American political conservatism since the Bill of Rights — and remain so today.”
Maybe the real reason all three ascended wasn’t necessarily their ideas, but how they made Americans feel in their moment of crisis.
“Fifty five years after Sharon, the things we stood for remain much the same. So make your case to America, conservatives. Now as much as ever.”
In our moment of crisis, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump seem to have harnessed something similar: A populism, which drawing its power from the industrialists, the Depression, the Malaise, the illegals or the bankers, has captivated the people.
All populists respond to the peculiar interests of their times, but beyond his ascension, Mr. Reagan was right for his. And his ideas — our ideas — are right for now.
Because populism being popular doesn’t mean right-thinking isn’t the solution, any more than eight disastrous years under this White House do. Thinkers from Thomas Aquinas to Edmund Burke flourished because they — their ideas, their values, their civilizations — were in grave danger, and long since, we’ve trudged through dark days to build the greatest civilization the world has ever seen.
It’s likely that America isn’t necessarily conservative now any more than it was in the days of Roosevelts or Reagans, but before the Republican Party — led astray by a quarter century of Bush Republicanism — settles for an easy, gut-level populism, remember that conservatives have had the solution in the past. And have those solutions still. Read the rest of this entry »
The presidential candidates for the 1992 election debated each other in the the second of three scheduled presidential debates. The participants were President George Bush, Governor Bill Clinton, and Ross Perot.
They answered questions from the audience that regarded their campaigns and their policy preferences, which mostly focused on economic issues. The audience consisted of 209 undecided voters from the Richmond, VA area.
Richard Nixon chose little-known Maryland governor Spiro Agnew as his running mate for his 1968 presidential bid. Democratic nominee Hubert Humphrey lampooned Agnew in this “Laughter” ad, created by Tony Schwartz, best known for the infamous “Daisy Girl” commercial for Lyndon Johnson in 1964.
Benjamin Siegel reports: Authorities have found the body of missing former White House chef Walter Scheib a few miles from the hiking trail where his car was last seen, New Mexico State Police confirmed.
“The body was discovered off the immediate trail approximately 1.7 miles from the base of the trail. No further details are available at this time. Rescue workers are still gathering information.”
— New Mexico State Police Sgt. Liz Armijo
Scheib, 61, was last seen on June 13 heading to hike a trail in the Taos Ski Valley 10 miles outside of Taos, New Mexico.
State police and volunteers had been searching for Scheib since Wednesday, after a family member reported him missing and his car was discovered at the trailhead.
Cell phone data that showed Scheib’s last known location helped rescuers narrow their search – and eventually led them to his body Sunday evening.
“The body was discovered off the immediate trail approximately 1.7 miles from the base of the trail. No further details are available at this time. Rescue workers are still gathering information,” New Mexico State Police Sgt. Liz Armijo said in a statement. Read the rest of this entry »
As tensions with China rise, U.S. foreign policy thinkers are dusting off ideas from the Cold War—and questioning the long-standing consensus for engagement with Beijing
Andrew Browne writes: Writing in 1967, at the height of the Cold War, Richard Nixon proclaimed a new American ambition: to “persuade China that it must change.”
“Taking the long view,” he wrote, “we simply cannot afford to leave China forever outside the family of nations, there to nurture its fantasies, cherish its hates and threaten its neighbors.” Four years later, having ascended to the White House, Nixon engineered an “opening to China” that promised to turn the communist giant into a diplomatic partner, one that would adopt America’s values and maybe even its system of democracy.
“The turmoil in U.S. policy has been especially evident in recent months. An unprecedented stream of advisory reports from leading academic centers and think tanks has proposed everything from military pushback against China to sweeping concessions.”
For many Americans today, watching the administration of President Xi Jinping crack down hard on internal dissent while challenging the U.S. for leadership in Asia, that promise seems more remote than ever before. In his recently published book “The Hundred-Year Marathon,” Michael Pillsbury—an Asia specialist and Pentagon official under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush—writes that China “has failed to meet nearly all of our rosy expectations.”
[Order Michael Pillsbury’s book “The Hundred-Year Marathon: China’s Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower” from Amazon.com]
U.S. foreign policy has reached a turning point, as analysts from across the political spectrum have started to dust off Cold War-era arguments and to speak of the need for a policy of containment against China. The once solid Washington consensus behind the benefits of “constructive engagement” with Beijing has fallen apart.
“The prescriptions vary, but their starting point is the same: pessimism about the present course of U.S.-Chinese relations.”
The conviction that engagement is the only realistic way to encourage liberalization in China has persisted across eight U.S. administrations, Republican and Democratic alike. Jimmy Carter bequeathed Nixon’s policy to Ronald Reagan; George W. Bush to Barack Obama.
The turmoil in U.S. policy has been especially evident in recent months. An unprecedented stream of advisory reports from leading academic centers and think tanks has proposed everything from military pushback against China to sweeping concessions. The prescriptions vary, but their starting point is the same: pessimism about the present course of U.S.-Chinese relations.
“For its part, China is utterly convinced that the U.S. is pursuing a policy of containment. “
The mood shift in Washington may end up being every bit as consequential as the one that came over the U.S. immediately after World War II, when it dawned on America that the Soviet Union wasn’t going to continue to be an ally. That is when the legendary U.S. diplomat and policy thinker George F. Kennan formulated his plan for containment.
“In one important respect, history is repeating itself: Both China and the U.S. have started to view each other not as partners, competitors or rivals but as adversaries.”
In a 1947 article in Foreign Affairs, he wrote that the U.S. “has it in its power to increase enormously the strains under which Soviet policy must operate, to force upon the Kremlin a far greater degree of moderation and circumspection than it has had to observe in recent years, and in this way to promote tendencies which must eventually find their outlet in either the breakup or the gradual mellowing of Soviet power.” Kennan’s strategy—to bleed the Soviet Union through nonprovocative resistance—offered comfort to Europeans who feared that they faced a stark choice between war and capitulation.
“China’s missile and naval buildup, as well as its development of new cyber- and space-warfare capabilities, are aimed squarely at deterring the U.S. military from intervening in any conflict in Asia.”
A similar anxiety about China’s actions and intentions has now taken hold among many Asians. U.S. friends and allies in the region are flocking to America’s side to seek protection as Mr. Xi’s China builds up its navy, pushes its fleets farther into the blue ocean and presses its territorial claims. In what is just the latest assertive move to alarm the region, China is now dredging tiny coral reefs in the South China Sea to create runways, apparently for military jets.
The U.S. is resisting. President Obama’s signature “pivot” to Asia—designed both to calm anxious U.S. friends and to recognize the region’s vast strategic importance in the 21st century—is bringing advanced American combat ships to Singapore, Marines to Australia and military advisers to the Philippines. Japan, America’s key ally in Asia, is rearming and has adjusted its pacifist postwar constitution to allow its forces to play a wider role in the region. The purpose of much of this activity is to preserve the independence of smaller Asian nations who fear they might otherwise have no choice but to fall into China’s orbit and yield to its territorial ambitions—in other words, to capitulate. Read the rest of this entry »
It was 2:27 p.m. on March 30, 1981, and the Soviet Union was poised to invade Poland to suppress a labor uprising.
Reagan merely turned toward the press line and waved.
Fantastic lunchtime read. History of the days after Reagan was shot and how 41’s temperament served the nation well. http://t.co/EO0Guxyz0n
— Dana Perino (@DanaPerino) May 18, 2015
Next to Donaldson, a 25-year-old man in a trench coat flexed his knees and raised his hands in a marksman’s stance. With a revolver he had purchased at a Dallas pawnshop, John W. Hinckley Jr. fired six shots.
It was the 70th day of the Reagan presidency.
Accounts of the afternoon tend to be dominated by the sensational storyline of Secretary of State Alexander Haig’s declaration that “I’m in control here.” But Vice President George H.W. Bush’s pitch-perfect reaction to the crisis lies largely unexplored in the shadow of history. He had only recently been Reagan’s energetic opponent, a fact that was fresh in the memories of Reagan loyalists. The steady hand he showed after the assassination attempt would linger in the minds of his admirers as one of the defining moments of his public career.
Now 90, Bush consented to an email interview for this story. His comments, along with hours of tapes from inside the White House Situation Room, never seen photographs taken aboard Air Force Two and interviews with participants in the crisis shed new light on the day Reagan became the fifth sitting president to be shot and the only one who lived.
Read the rest of this entry »
THE PANTSUIT REPORT: Journalists and Investigators Detect Disturbing Smell Leading to Clinton Aide’s Secret Spy NetworkPosted: March 28, 2015
Emails disclosed by a hacker show a close family friend was funneling intelligence about the crisis in Libya directly to the Secretary of State’s private account starting before the Benghazi attack.
“Blumenthal’s emails to Clinton, which were directed to her private email account, include at least a dozen detailed reports on events on the deteriorating political and security climate in Libya as well as events in other nations.”
Jeff Gerth and Sam Biddle report: Starting weeks before Islamic militants attacked the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, longtime Clinton family confidante Sidney Blumenthal supplied intelligence to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gathered by a secret network that included a former CIA clandestine service officer, according to hacked emails from Blumenthal’s account.
They came to light after a hacker broke into Blumenthal’s account and have taken on new significance in light of the disclosure that she conducted State Department and personal business exclusively over an email server that she controlled and kept secret from State Department officials and which only recently was discovered by congressional investigators.
The emails, which were posted on the internet in 2013, also show that Blumenthal and another close Clinton associate discussed contracting with a retired Army special operations commander to put operatives on the ground near the Libya-Tunisia border while Libya’s civil war raged in 2011.
Blumenthal’s emails to Clinton, which were directed to her private email account, include at least a dozen detailed reports on events on the deteriorating political and security climate in Libya as well as events in other nations. They came to light after a hacker broke into Blumenthal’s account and have taken on new significance in light of the disclosure that she conducted State Department and personal business exclusively over an email server that she controlled and kept secret from State Department officials and which only recently was discovered by congressional investigators.
“The contents of the memos, which have recently become the subject of speculation in the right-wing media, raise new questions about how Clinton used her private email account and whether she tapped into an undisclosed back channel for information on Libya’s crisis and other foreign policy matters.”
The contents of that account are now being sought by a congressional inquiry into the Benghazi attacks. Clinton has handed over more than 30,000 pages of her emails to the State Department, after unilaterally deciding which ones involved government business; the State Department has so far handed almost 900 pages of those over to the committee. A Clinton spokesman told Gawker and ProPublica (which are collaborating on this story) that she has turned over all the emails Blumenthal sent to Clinton.
The dispatches from Blumenthal to Clinton’s private email address were posted online after Blumenthal’s account was hacked in 2013 by Romanian hacker Marcel-Lehel Lazar, who went by the name Guccifer. Lazar also broke into accounts belonging to George W. Bush’s sister, Colin Powell, and others. He’s now serving a seven-year sentence in his home country and was charged in a U.S. indictment last year. Read the rest of this entry »
Like Gorbachev, Obama will be esteemed in certain quarters a generation from now, but probably more by foreigners than fellow citizens, and more by his country’s enemies than its friends.
Christopher Caldwell Democrats nominated Barack Obama in 2008 to extract America from George W. Bush’s Iraq misadventure and to spread more fairly the proceeds of a quarter-century-old boom for which they credited Bill Clinton. The Election Eve collapse of Lehman Brothers changed things. It showed that there had been no boom at all, only a multitrillion-dollar real-estate debauch that Clinton’s and Bush’s affordable-housing mandates had set in motion. It also showed how fast historians’ likely rankings of presidents can shift: Clinton went from above average to below average, Bush from low to rock bottom.
“Obama’s legacy is one of means, not ends. He has laid the groundwork for a political order less answerable to voters.”
Obama may wind up the most consequential of the three baby-boom presidents. He expanded certain Bush policies — Detroit bailouts, internet surveillance, drone strikes — and cleaned up after others. We will not know for years whether Obama’s big deficits risked a future depression to avoid a present one, or whether the respite he offered from “humanitarian invasions” made the country safer. Right now, both look like significant achievements.
Yet there is a reason the president’s approval ratings have fallen, in much of the country, to Nixonian lows. Even his best-functioning policies have come at a steep price in damaged institutions, leaving the country less united, less democratic, and less free.
“For a generation, there has been too much private wealth in politics; Obama’s innovation has been to bring private wealth into government.”
Health-care reform and gay marriage are often spoken of as the core of Obama’s legacy. That is a mistake. Policies are not always legacies, even if they endure, and there is reason to believe these will not. The more people learn about Obamacare, the less they like it — its popularity is still falling, to a record low of 37 percent in November. Thirty states have voted to ban gay marriage, and almost everywhere it survives by judicial diktat.
These are, however, typical Obama achievements. They are triumphs of tactics, not consensus-building. Obamacare involved quid pro quos (the “Cornhusker Kickback,” the “Louisiana Purchase,” etc.) that passed into Capitol Hill lore, accounting and parliamentary tricks to render the bill unfilibusterable, and a pure party-line vote in the Senate. Read the rest of this entry »
GREG GUTFELD: It’s good to see all these vocal free speech supporters, many of whom were silent when [Ayaan] Hirsi Ali, Condoleezza Rice and others were kept from speaking on campuses. I suppose you only express solidarity when it’s cool, and there’s a neat hashtag.
But as we know, one aids terror by blocking speech through the fabrication of offense. We must fight evil, but what happens when the fight is labeled as “bigoted” by the media, our campuses, our leaders? Terror wins.
And so CNN’s Christiane Amanpour calls terrorists “activists.” I’m really not kidding.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR (in a broadcast on the day of the massacre, perhaps even shortly after it took place, given that CNN considered it “Breaking News”): On this day, these activists found their targets, and their targets were journalists. This was a clear attack on the freedom of expression, on the press, and on satire.
Anyway, and editors worrying more about right-wing reaction to terror than terror itself.
NICHOLAS KRISTOF (at MSNBC on Wednesday, Clip 1): I think they should have been more sensitive. I don’t believe in gratuitously offending people.
NICHOLAS KRISTOF (at MSNBC on Wednesday, Clip 2): We have to be really, really careful not to respond to the extraordinary intolerance of these jihadis with our own intolerance.
DAVID ROTHKOPF (at MSNBC on Wednesday, Clip 3): I think we have to be just as worried about the reaction to the attack from nationalists, from right-wingers, from people who have sought to drive this wedge, as it was described earlier, between the Islamic communities and the mainstream communities in Europe.
GUTFELD: I get it. The enemy is pre-ordained. It’s us. Which means Howard Dean is right. This is a cult, a cult of apologists. But Dean is also right when he says this is not a religious issue, which means, if I don’t see Islam when I fight terror, then you cannot see Islamophobia when I fight it.
What should we see instead? Again, a death cult, one that needs no understanding, just eradication. It would be nice for moderate Muslims to help, but if they don’t, we can handle it, it’s nothing personal, Muslims. Just step aside. Read the rest of this entry »
Sarah Rumpf reports: Democrat Wendy Davis, who made national news for running one of the year’s most aggressively catastrophic campaigns, clawed her way back into the headlines this week with her comment that the “one thing” she would do differently in her race against Republican Greg Abbott is to abandon her support for the open carry of firearms.
“There is one thing that I would do differently in that campaign, and it relates to the position that I took on open carry. I made a quick decision on that with a very short conversation with my team and it wasn’t really in keeping with what I think is the correct position on that issue…
“Though I certainly support people’s right to own and to bear arms in appropriate situations, I fear with open carry, having watched that issue unfold during the campaign, that it will be used to intimidate and cause fear.”
As a refresher for Davis, who apparently suffers from the same constitutional illiteracy as her fellow Harvard law graduate, President Obama, the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed,” period. Not “in appropriate situations.”
Davis also claimed that “as an elected public servant, I’ve always been true to my core beliefs. Always. And I’m so proud of that.” However, she then described her campaign position on open carry as”the only time I felt like I’d strayed a bit from that.” In other words, she “only supported open-carry to get elected,” as Ashe Schow wrote for the Washington Examiner.
Davis’ admittedly facetious attempt to win votes from gun rights supporters fell flat. Despite her comments that she felt she had been “pretty strong in supporting the expansion of the rights of gun ownership,” the National Rifle Association (NRA) gave her an “F” rating, and her liberal supporters were left confused and outraged. A campaign stunt where she was photographed awkwardly holding a shotgun owned by previous Texas Governor Ann Richards led to instant mockery. PJ Media’s Bryan Preston compared Davis to previous Democrat candidates with embarrassingly bad photo ops like Michael Dukakis and John Kerry, and, perhaps most damning of all, to Richards herself holding that same shotgun. “Holding a firearm and looking good isn’t generally a difficult thing to do,” writes Preston. “Say what [you] want about Ann Richards, and I was certainly no fan, but at least she knew how to hold a shotgun without looking silly.”
Davis ended up getting annihilated on Election Day, losing to Abbott by double digits in a loss that was not only viewed as backsliding for Texas Democrats, but also resulted in the efforts of the out-of-state Obama organizers behind Battleground Texas being largely viewed as a failure. Read the rest of this entry »
Former Florida Governor to Launch Political-Action Committee in January
Jeb Bush, the son and brother of past presidents, kick-started the 2016 presidential race Tuesday by announcing plans to “actively explore” a presidential campaign, an unexpectedly early declaration that ramps up pressure on potential rivals and reshuffles the policy debate.
The move by the 61-year-old former Florida governor essentially marks the beginning of the presidential sweepstakes. With a national profile, access to big donors and iconic status in the nation’s largest swing state, Mr. Bush ’s move puts instant pressure on a sprawling field of as many as two dozen other Republicans weighing 2016 bids.
His online announcement amounts to a pre-emptive strike against efforts by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and allies of the 2012 GOP nominee, Mitt Romney , to lock in major donors or at least keep them on the sidelines.
Mr. Bush’s step toward a campaign also threatens to undermine the aspirations of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio , his onetime protégé, who shares the same home state and an overlapping political network there.
“I think Jeb is trying to clear the field,” said Bobbie Kilberg, a prominent Republican donor who worked in the White House for Mr. Bush’s father, President George H.W. Bush. “He’s now gotten out ahead of everyone else, and I think this may force other candidates to move earlier than they had wanted to.”
Mr. Bush’s potential candidacy also has implications for the expected Democratic front-runner, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. His younger GOP rivals could try to make the case for going in a different direction by lumping Mr. Bush and Mrs. Clinton together as tired figures from the past. That argument, however, would lose its potency in a general election match-up between Mr. Bush and Mrs. Clinton. Read the rest of this entry »
— Bill Clinton (@billclinton) November 12, 2014
“She has thrown her entire life into their cause, and she’s made it very clear that she would happily run in front of a speeding truck for them.”
— New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor
Carol Felsenthal writes: Almost since the start of Barack Obama’s presidency, people who have actual, real duties in the West Wing of the White House—the working, executive part of the government, that is—have been urging him to do something about Valerie Jarrett.
“Very moving. But the fact is, on balance it appears that Jarrett has been more an obstructer than a facilitator over the past six years when it comes to governing, and it’s probably long past time for the president to move her gently into another role.”
— Carol Felsenthal
Push her into the East Wing, where she can hang out with Michelle Obama and the White House social secretary, or give her an ambassadorship—or something—but for Pete’s sake get her out of the way of the hard work of governing that needs to be done.
Now it’s really time to do it.
Let’s stipulate right away that it would be unfair to blame Jarrett, the longtime Obama family friend and confidante, for the walloping that the president and his party suffered at the polls on Tuesday. And Jarrett will no doubt be needed in the weeks ahead to comfort her old pals, Barack and Michelle.
“Jarrett is more than a mere senior staffer to this president, and of course she is not going to be fired outright. Not ever. If her role in this administration reflected reality, Jarrett would be called “First Big Sister” to both Michelle and Barack.”
What happened on Tuesday almost couldn’t be worse for Obama personally—not just the Senate’s going Republican but all those governorships lost, including Illinois Governor Pat Quinn’s defeat in Obama’s adopted home state, even after the president and first lady came to Illinois to campaign for him. The morning after the elections, Democrats and their top staffers were hopping mad, blaming Obama and, by extension, his staff for the defeat.
[Check out Carol Felsenthal’s book “Power, Privilege and the Post: The Katharine Graham Story” at Amazon]
But let’s also face facts—and expect the president to do so as well. We’re at that point in an already long-toothed presidency when things inside really need to change. In the days before anyone knew how brutally the Democrats would get beaten, politicians and staffers and pundits were urging a shakeup of the White House staff. Read the rest of this entry »
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 »
Confidence hits six-year low for presidency; record lows for Supreme Court, Congress
WASHINGTON, D.C. — For gallup.com, Justin McCarthy reports: Americans’ confidence in all three branches of the U.S. government has fallen, reaching record lows for the Supreme Court (30%) and Congress (7%), and a six-year low for the presidency (29%). The presidency had the largest drop of the three branches this year, down seven percentage points from its previous rating of 36%.
These data come from a June 5-8 Gallup poll asking Americans about their confidence in 16 U.S. institutions — within government, business, and society — that they either read about or interact with.
While Gallup recently reported a historically low rating of Congress, Americans have always had less confidence in Congress than in the other two branches of government. The Supreme Court and the presidency have alternated being the most trusted branch of government since 1991, the first year Gallup began asking regularly about all three branches.
But on a relative basis, Americans’ confidence in all three is eroding. Since June 2013, confidence has fallen seven points for the presidency, four points for the Supreme Court, and three points for Congress. Confidence in each of the three branches of government had already fallen from 2012 to 2013.
Confidence in the presidency is now the lowest it has been under President Barack Obama, as is confidence in Congress and the Supreme Court, given their historical lows. When Obama first took office in 2009, each of the three branches saw a jump in confidence from their dismally low ratings in George W. Bush’s final two years in the White House.
Confidence in the Presidency, From George H.W. Bush to Obama
The president in office is not mentioned by name when the presidential confidence question is asked, but how positively Americans evaluate the current president has a direct impact on how much confidence Americans place in the presidency as an institution.
Gallup began asking regularly about the presidency in March 1991, when George H.W. Bush was in office. At that time, 72% of Americans had confidence in the presidency — the highest confidence rating the institution has received. This was immediately following his leadership in the successful first Persian Gulf War, and at a time when his job approval rating hit the then all-time high of 89%. But the elder Bush also saw the largest drop in confidence for the institution that same year, when it fell to a still relatively high 50% in October 1991.
The three presidents who would succeed him would go on to be elected to two terms, with varying degrees of confidence in the executive branch of the U.S. government during those terms. Obama garnered the greatest first-year confidence rating, at 51% in 2009, but has held lower ratings than both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush in each subsequent year of his presidency so far.
George W. Bush’s presidency commanded the highest first-term confidence ratings due to the post-9/11 surge in support for government leaders and institutions, marked by a record job approval rating of 90% for Bush in September 2001 and continued high ratings for him in the months thereafter. His second-term approval ratings plummeted, however, and so did confidence in the presidency, reaching anall-time low of 25% in 2007. Read the rest of this entry »
Greetings, Class of 2014. So Condoleezza Rice was too offensive for you. Just wait until Monday morning. Did you learn how to spell KFC?
“…1989 happens to be when the Berlin Wall fell. I know, I know, most of you weren’t born, and you get your news from TMZ. A wall falling over can’t be as interesting as Beyonce’s sister punching and kicking Jay Z in a New York hotel elevator…”
Between inviting and re-inviting LeGrand, Rutgers invited and confirmed the invitation of former New Jersey governor and former head of the 9/11 Commission Tom Kean. So the university has two—and, for all I know, still counting—commencement speakers. But Rutgers never got confused enough to invite me.
“Stop taking selfies and Google “Berlin Wall” on the iPhones you’re all fiddling with.”
Eric LeGrand and Tom Kean are uplifting figures. LeGrand has raised hope. Kean has raised hell with the CIA and FBI. I am not uplifting.
Here Is What I Would Tell the Rutgers Graduating Class of 2014…
I hear Condoleezza Rice stood you up. You may think it was because about 50 students—.09 percent of your student body—held a “sit-in” at the university president’s office to protest the selection of Secretary Rice as commencement speaker. You may think it was because a few of your faculty—stale flakes from the crust of the turkey pot pie that was the New Left—threatened a “teach-in” to protest the selection of Secretary Rice.
“Sit-in”? “Teach-in”? What century is this?
I think Secretary Rice forgot she had a yoga session scheduled for today.
It’s shame she was busy. You might have heard something useful from a person who grew up poor in Jim Crow Alabama. Who lost a friend and playmate in 1963 when white supremacists bombed Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. Who became an accomplished concert pianist before she tuned her ear to the more dissonant chords of international relations. Read the rest of this entry »
House of Cards: ‘Is it possible, then, that we’re watching a conservative show? Well, no. And also yes…’Posted: March 16, 2014
There’s a lot to chew on in House of Cards, and much has been written about it, but this one has the finest blend of humor and insight. For a primer on Andrew Klavan (besides his book) check out his YouTube videos on the P J Media channel.
For City Journal, Andrew Klavan writes: House of Cards, the Netflix series about a lethally unscrupulous Washington politician, is a wonderful show, but it does sometimes stretch the limits of credulity. I have no trouble believing that a Democratic congressman would push a reporter in front of a train, but the idea that anyone in the press would try to expose him for it is flat-out ridiculous. After all, Barack Obama has been pushing reporters under the bus for six years and nobody’s said a word. Ah, well. If the show gives leftist politicos nightmares about being held accountable for their actions by American journalists, they can simply keep repeating, “It’s only a movie, it’s only a movie.”
“…After all, Barack Obama has been pushing reporters under the bus for six years and nobody’s said a word.”
House of Cards does pose a more realistic threat to leftists, however: their 40-year monopoly on artistic political statements—and their tacit blacklist of anyone who tries to make opposing statements—may finally be coming to an end. House of Cards is not, as left-wing activist Randy Shaw wrote in a blithering and inattentive piece on Huffington Post, a “Republican fantasy world,” but it is not pure leftist cant, either. And that in itself makes it something of a New Thing on the show-business landscape.
“…the actual political maneuvers that move the story forward are ideologically muddy and unrealistic. Democrats seek serious entitlement reform, but Republicans are reluctant to go along. Really? Democrats circumvent teachers’ unions to reform education. Dream on!
Let’s set aside the bigger issues for a moment and consider one small scene in the third episode of the second season. Reporter Janine Skorsky—brought to vivid life by the perfectly cast Constance Zimmer—has left the Washington rat race to teach journalism at an unnamed college in Ithaca, New York.
We find her lecturing the class on how a media-manipulated narrative can outweigh the facts. Her example? In 1992, led by the New York Times, the left-wing media reported that President George H.W. Bush was surprised to see a barcode scanner in the checkout line at a grocery store. Read the rest of this entry »
A Tuesday panel discussion for the 100th anniversary celebration of the White House Correspondents Association featured veteran journalists – National Journal’s George Condon, ABC News’ Ann Compton, and Reuters’ Steve Holland – agreeing that Obama is the “least accessible” president to reporters.
When asked if Obama is the “least accessible” of any president they have covered, Holland replied, “I would say that.”