[VIDEO] Earnest Dodges Question About Whether Obama Staffers Have Been Involved in Leaks 

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Crying Staffers Leaving White House

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WASHINGTON (AP) — They line up near the Oval Office, down the hallway toward the Cabinet Room, trailed by their spouses and young kids in their finest clothes. When it’s their turn, the White House staffers enter for a few private moments with President Barack Obama, a photo and a farewell hug from the boss.

There’s a mass exodus underway this week at the White House. As Obama holds his last news conference Wednesday, his staff is busy packing up their offices and turning in their BlackBerrys. For some who joined Obama’s team right out of college, it’s the end of the only professional experience they’ve ever known.

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The finals days of any president’s administration are always bittersweet and heavy on nostalgia, as officials face the transition back to being “civilians” who will no longer have their hands on the nation’s levers of power. Yet there’s added sadness this time for Obama staffers who are mostly horrified by the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump.

“You’re always aware that it’s a special privilege to work there and not something to take for granted,” said Nate Lowentheil, who worked on Obama’s National Economic Council for the last three years. “It’s particularly hard knowing the next wave of people coming are going to be working to reverse the things you were working to advance until your very last hour.”

There were tears on the faces of some White House aides on Tuesday as press secretary Josh Earnest appeared in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room for his final press briefing — his 354th as press secretary, Earnest said. Even former staffers were invited to return to the White House witness Earnest’s last round of jousting with reporters.

“I’m going to miss it,” Earnest said. “It will take some getting used to seeing somebody else standing up here doing it.”

“Or not,” he added, in a nod to the prospect that Trump’s team may make changes to the daily briefing. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] WH Correspondents’ Association Chair Praises Earnest, Only One Person Claps

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Liberal Journalists Rediscover Mission As Obama Leaves Office

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‘Everyone should be ashamed’

Peter Hasson reports: The end of Barack Obama’s eight years in office combined with an incoming Trump administration has liberal journalists placing a renewed importance on holding elected officials accountable.

In an article published Monday, Politico’s Jack Shafer argues that Donald Trump has made reporters “free” to cover the presidency in a more aggressively critical manner than they did during previous administrations.

Reporters, Shafer says, “ought to start thinking of covering Trump’s Washington like a war zone.”

“Witness how many publications are selling subscriptions by promising to ‘hold Trump accountable,’” Shafer adds later, arguing that “It’s not winter that’s coming with the inauguration of Trump. It’s journalistic spring.”

[Read the full story here, at The Daily Caller]

Liberal media members on Twitter received Shafer’s rediscovery of journalistic purpose with enthusiastic applause.

A man reads newspaper headlines in Athens, Greece July 8, 2015. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

“Hear, hear! Has there ever been a more interesting time to be a reporter?” Politico’s Josh Dawsey cheered.

Clara Jeffrey, editor-in-chief of the left-wing Mother Jones, wrote: “Yes: Cover Trump admin the way you would a war zone.”

The New York Times’ Timothy Egan called Shafer’s article a “Great call to arms,” adding: “A journalistic spring under Trump if press can regain its indy soul.” Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Dr. K: Obama ‘Is Trying to Nail Everything to the Floor So It Can’t Be Moved’

Oil Drilling ‘Ban’ Still Allows Production Outside America

“This is so egregious, it’s perfectly revealing of the fact that Obama as he leaves the White House, he’s trying to nail everything to the floor so it can’t be moved. Of course, it can be moved. First of all, he’s interpreting this 50, 60-year-old law, in a wildly different way. It was intended to protect the feeding areas of the walrus. It was supposed to be specific, narrow, small tracks, not this gigantic locking away.”

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“Second, they can’t even defend it in its own terms. The idea that because we’re not going to drill here, the oil and natural gas is not going to be produced, is ridiculous. It’s going to end up being produced in Nigeria, places all over the world, where the standards — environmental standards and protections — are infinitely less than they are in the U.S. So even in terms of the environment, you’re increasing the danger. It’s very obvious that all they’re trying to do is prevent American production of hydrocarbons, and it’s futile. The Indians and the Chinese are opening a coal-fired plant every week. It is not going to stop. What we don’t do, they will do. What we are doing is exporting jobs, exporting the waste, and exporting the danger.”

(read more)

Source: National Review


[VIDEO] Josh Earnest Goes Cuckoo Bananas Defcon One on President Elect Trump 

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Network Security Company CEO Forced to Resign After ‘Joking’ About Killing Trump 

U.S. President Barack Obama walks to greet well-wishers, with Secret Service agents at his side, upon his arrival in Tampa, Florida

Trump-Hating Cuckoo Bananas Matt Harrigan of PacketSled Loses His Mind, Makes Public Death Threats, Declares on Facebook, ‘Bring it, Secret Service’

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 reports: Matt Harrigan, the CEO of San Diego-based network security startup PacketSled, resigned yesterday after a flurry of comments he made on Facebook went viral over the weekend, prompting the company to place him on administrative leave and to report his comments to the Secret Service. Harrigan’s comments weren’t the usual sort of executive meltdown—they amounted to a declaration that Harrigan was going to assassinate President-elect Donald Trump.

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In a Facebook thread about last week’s presidential election, Matt Harrigan wrote, “I’m going to kill the President Elect.”

“Bring it secret service,” he wrote.

While those may have been rage posts stemming from the election last week, Harrigan went on to describe how he was going to buy a sniper rifle and hunt down Trump when he moved into the White House. “Getting a sniper rifle and perching myself where it counts,” he wrote in one of a series of comments on a thread about the election. “Find a bedroom in the whitehouse [sic] that suits you motherfucker. I’ll find you.”

[Read the full story here, at Ars Technica]

The comments went viral in screenshots, being posted first on Reddit’s The_Donald subreddit. On Sunday, Harrigan apologized on his company’s blog for the comments, saying that his rant “was intended to be a joke, in the context of a larger conversation, and only privately shared as such.” Read the rest of this entry »


Abe, Trump to Meet Nov. 17 in New York 

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed with U.S. Republican President-elect Donald Trump during a telephone conversation on Thursday that they will aim to meet in New York on Nov. 17.

Trump spoke with key figures at home and abroad over the phone after winning the U.S. presidential election. He was to meet President Barack Obama on Thursday to discuss a transition of power in preparation for his presidential term.

Abe talked to Trump over the phone for about 20 minutes on Thursday morning, according to a Japanese government official. The prime minister congratulated Trump on his presidential win, saying, “I’m sure the United States will become a greater country under the extraordinary leadership of incoming President Trump.”

Trump praised the achievements of Abe’s economic measures and said he is looking forward to working with Abe for the next few years.

Trump also said Japan and the United States have an outstanding partnership and that he wants to strengthen this special relationship further.

Abe proposed an early meeting, saying, “Peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, which is the center of global economic growth, is a source of U.S. strength. The strong Japan-U.S. alliance is indispensable to supporting peace and stability in the region.”

Trump accepted the offer and expressed his desire for forward-looking discussions between Japan and the United States.

They did not refer to issues such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal, which Trump opposes, and an increased burden on Japan to cover the costs for stationing U.S. forces. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Bill Murray Crashes White House Press Briefing Room

Talking up the Chicago Cubs, the Hollywood star wanders into the press briefing Room just after White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest had finished his daily briefing.

Actor Bill Murray sporting a Chicago Cubs jacket and cap talks during a brief visit in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, Friday, Oct. 21, 2016. Murray is in Washington to receive the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) ORG XMIT: DCMC206

Actor Bill Murray sporting a Chicago Cubs jacket and cap talks during a brief visit in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, Friday, Oct. 21, 2016. Murray is in Washington to receive the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta


[VIDEO] Earnest: ‘Everybody’s Patience with Russia has Run Out’ 

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[VIDEO] White House: We Can’t Tell You Our Syria Strategy

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[VIDEO] White House: Obama ‘Concerned’ But Doesn’t Have Specific Ideas on Addressing Chicago Gun Violence 

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[VIDEO] State Department Blames Criticism of U.S. Ransom Payment to Iran on…the Media 

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The State Department admitted Thursday that the US would not hand over $400 million in cash to Iran until it released four American hostages — two weeks after President Obama insisted the payment was not a “ransom.”

State Department spokesman John Kirby was asked at Thursday’s press briefing: “In basic English, you’re saying you wouldn’t give them $400 million in cash until the prisoners were released, correct?”

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“That’s correct,” Kirby replied.

In an Aug. 4 press conference, President Obama said the opposite.

“We do not pay ransom. We didn’t here, and we won’t in the future,” the president told reporters, speaking of the Jan. 17 payment and hostage release.

Families “know we have a policy that we don’t pay ransom. And the notion that we would somehow start now, in this high-profile way, and announce it to the world, even as we’re looking in the faces of other hostage families whose loved ones are being held hostage, and saying to them ‘We don’t pay ransom,’ defies logic,” Obama added at the time. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] White House Denies Endorsement Will Intimidate FBI Investigators 

White House press secretary Josh Earnest insisted that President Obama’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton will not sway the ongoing FBI investigation into Clinton.

The statement came after Obama released a video endorsing Clinton for president of the United States.

Later this afternoon, according to the White House, Obama is meeting with the attorney general. The meeting is closed press…(read more)

Source: The Weekly Standard


[VIDEO] White House Can’t Explain Omission of Damaging Line About Iran Deal Deceit from Transcript 


FOIA FAIL: Obama Administration Sets Records for Failures to Find Files When Asked

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People who asked for records under the Freedom of Information Act received censored files or nothing in 77 percent of requests, setting a record.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration set a record for the number of times its federal employees told disappointed citizens, journalists and others that despite searching they couldn’t find a single page requested under the Freedom of Information Act, according to a new Associated Press analysis of government data.

“It’s incredibly unfortunate when someone waits months, or perhaps years, to get a response to their request – only to be told that the agency can’t find anything.”

— Adam Marshall, an attorney with the Washington-based Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

In more than one in six cases, or 129,825 times, government searchers said they came up empty-handed last year. Such cases contributed to an alarming measurement: People who asked for records under the law received censored files or nothing in 77 percent of requests, also a record. In the first full year after President Barack Obama’s election, that figure was only 65 percent of cases.

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“It seems like they’re doing the minimal amount of work they need to do. I just don’t believe them. I really question the integrity of their search.”

— Jason Leopold, an investigative reporter at Vice News and a leading expert on the records law

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Friday he was not familiar with the figures showing how routinely the government said it can’t find any records, although the Justice Department also highlighted them in its own performance report. Earnest said federal employees work diligently on such requests, and renewed his earlier complaint that the U.S. records law has never applied to Congress since it was signed into law 50 years ago by President Lyndon Johnson, a Democrat.

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“Congress writes the rules and they write themselves out of being accountable,” Earnest said. He urged reporters “to continue the pressure that you have applied to Congress to encourage them to subject themselves to the same kinds of transparency rules that they insist other government agencies follow.”

The new data represents the final figures on the subject that will be released during Obama’s presidency. Obama has said his administration is the most transparent ever.

The FBI couldn’t find any records in 39 percent of cases, or 5,168 times. The Environmental Protection Agency regional office that oversees New York and New Jersey couldn’t find anything 58 percent of the time. U.S. Customs and Border Protection couldn’t find anything in 34 percent of cases.

“It’s incredibly unfortunate when someone waits months, or perhaps years, to get a response to their request – only to be told that the agency can’t find anything,” said Adam Marshall, an attorney with the Washington-based Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

The IRS’ computer crash may go down in history next to the eighteen and a half minute gap in the Watergate tapes, which was supposedly caused by a mistake by Richard Nixon’s secretary Rose Mary Woods.

The IRS’ computer crash may go down in history next to the eighteen and a half minute gap in the Watergate tapes, which was supposedly caused by a mistake by Richard Nixon’s secretary Rose Mary Woods.

It was impossible to know whether more requests last year involved non-existent files or whether federal workers were searching less than diligently before giving up to consider a case closed. The administration said it completed a record 769,903 requests, a 19 percent increase over the previous year despite hiring only 283 new full-time workers on the issue, or about 7 percent. The number of times the government said it couldn’t find records increased 35 percent over the same period.

“It seems like they’re doing the minimal amount of work they need to do,” said Jason Leopold, an investigative reporter at Vice News and a leading expert on the records law. “I just don’t believe them. I really question the integrity of their search.”

U.S. President Barack Obama pauses during news conference in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington

In some high-profile instances, usually after news organizations filed expensive federal lawsuits, the Obama administration found tens of thousands of pages after it previously said it couldn’t find any. The website Gawker sued the State Department last year after it said it couldn’t find any emails that Philippe Reines, an aide to Hillary Clinton and former deputy assistant secretary of state, had sent to journalists. After the lawsuit, the agency said it found 90,000 documents about correspondence between Reines and reporters. In one email, Reines wrote to a reporter, “I want to avoid FOIA,” although Reines’ lawyer later said he was joking. Read the rest of this entry »


Dems Turn to Mocking Terror Fears 

Egyptian security forces stand guard by debris of a Russian airplane at the site a day after the passenger jet bound for St. Petersburg, Russia crashed in Hassana, Egypt, on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. The Metrojet plane, bound for St. Petersburg in Russia, crashed 23 minutes after it took off from Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Saturday morning. The 224 people on board, all Russian except for four Ukrainians and one Belarusian, died. (AP Photo)

Noah Rothman writes: In just over a year, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has graduated from taking and holding territory inside its nascent “caliphate” to exporting terrorism around the globe. From Sydney to Ottawa, from Copenhagen to San Bernardino, this terrorist organization is smugdirecting or inspiring jihadists to conduct heinous acts of mass-casualty terrorism.

“The strategy here is clear, and it is one that this president has used to great effect in the past: Project to like minds in media that concerns over terrorism are a preoccupation of the intellectually sequestered right.”

Since October of last year, three such attacks have taken place in the United States; one of those being the worst act of radical Islamic terror in America since September 11, 2001. Subsequently, Americans now rate terrorism as their number one concern. They feel unsafe and insecure. They are justifiably afraid of the threat that might be just around the next corner. Americans are lunging for the shotgun and barricading the door. And what do they get from their leaders? Reassurance? Understanding? Resolve to defeat terrorism abroad before it comes home? No, they get a lecture Tall-censorship-campuson their latent hostility toward the Islamic faith and practicing Muslims. Stranger still, now that it has become inescapably clear that the fear of terrorism is broad-based, the left’s mission to convince itself that these concerns are isolated to the fever swamps has become even more urgent.

“To lend any credence to that notion would be to align yourself with that brutish, unthinking element in flyover country, and you wouldn’t want to be thought of by your peers in that way, would you?”

For Democrats, particularly those who must defend President Barack Obama’s record on foreign affairs and terrorism, there is no good news. According to the latest New York Times/CBS News survey, seven in 10 Americans now describe ISIS as a major threat to national security. Another 44 percent of respondents believe another attack inside the United States at some point in the next few months is “very” likely, greater than at any point since October 2001. 57 percent of those polled disapprove of Obama’s handling of the issue of terrorism. According to Gallup, 67 percent believe future “acts of terrorism” inside the United States are either somewhat or very likely. Gallup further revealed that confidence in the government’s ability to keep its citizens safe is lower than it has ever been since the 9/11 attacks. Simultaneously, a majority of Americans fear they will be the next victims of that forthcoming attack for the first time since 2001.

[Read the full story here, at commentary]

Perhaps most ominously from a Democratic perspective, satisfaction in the direction the country is headed has not been this depressed since November of 2014 when Republicans rode a wave of voter dissatisfaction to pick up control of the U.S. Senate.
Read the rest of this entry »


Fence Jumper Detained at White House

Bradford Richardson reports: The White House was locked down on Thursday afternoon when an intruder jumped the fence, according to the Secret Service.

The jumper, identified as Joseph Caputo, was immediately detained.

The first family was reportedly celebrating Thanksgiving inside the mansion when the incident occurred, at 2:45 p.m.

Images shared on social media showed a man wrapped in an American flag jumping the North Lawn fence and raising his arms after he landed….(read more)

Source: TheHill


Illegal Immigrant Children, Non-Mexicans Surge Scross U.S. Southwest Border at Record Rate: Obama’s Victory Lap Premature? 

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The Southwest border has broken open in recent weeks, with non-Mexicans — and illegal immigrant children in particular — crossing at a record rate in October, according to Border Patrol statistics that suggest the administration’s victory lap earlier this year was premature.

“The greatest existential threat to this nation right now is this administration’s open-border policy. This is no longer about immigration, it’s about the president and DHS keeping open the corridors on the southern border that are accessible to anyone in the world.”

Nearly 5,000 unaccompanied children were caught in October, and nearly 3,000 more had been caught in the first half of November — a record pace for those months — and it signals just how closely smuggling cartels and would-be illegal immigrants themselves are paying attention to lax enforcement in the U.S.

WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 26: (AFP OUT) U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) (L) speaks during a taping of Meet the Press at the NBC studios November 26, 2006 in Washington, DC. Gov. Schwarzenegger spoke on various topics related to politics and California. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images for Meet the Press)

“We can defend our country against another country’s navy, a missile threat and even repel a conventional military invasion. But the president’s policy of allowing anyone into the nation as students or refugees presents a serious threat.”

— Rep. Duncan Hunter

Worse yet, the increases are borderwide, with every one of the nine Southwest border sectors showing spikes in what the Border Patrol dubs OTMs, or “other than Mexicans.”

Those who track the issue said the surges show a breakdown in enforcement, and called it worrying at a time of heightened international danger.

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“The greatest existential threat to this nation right now is this administration’s open-border policy. This is no longer about immigration, it’s about the president and DHS keeping open the corridors on the southern border that are accessible to anyone in the world,” said Rep. Duncan Hunter, a California Republican who has raised concerns over national security risks at the border.

[Read the full story here, at the Washington Times]

“We can defend our country against another country’s navy, a missile threat and even repel a conventional military invasion. But the president’s policy of allowing anyone into the nation as students or refugees presents a serious threat,” he said.

Some 25,000 illegal immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala have been caught in the first seven weeks of the fiscal year, which began Oct. 1 — an increase of 58 percent. The number of Chinese, Brazilians, Indians and, strikingly, Cubans, has each surged by more than 100 percent, and the number from Pakistan, while small overall, has spiked from 6 at this point last year to 31 now — an increase of more than 400 percent. Read the rest of this entry »


AS PREDICTED: Obama Backs Away From Meeting With ‘Clock Boy’ Ahmed Mohamed

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“I don’t believe that the president will have the opportunity to meet with meet one-on-one with Ahmed Mohamed.”

— White House press secretary Josh Ernest

Charlie Spiering reports:

…It appears that President Obama may not meet personally with Texas student Ahmed Mohamed at tonight’s Astronomy Night at the White House, according to White House aides.

[Also see – Anatomy of a Hoax: Reverse Engineering Ahmed Mohamed’s Clock]

“I don’t believe that the president will have the opportunity to meet with meet one-on-one with Ahmed Mohamed,” Earnest confirmed during the White House press breifing. He explained to reporters that there would be “several hundred” students and teachers and scientists attending the event.

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Mohamed still plans to join the group of children who attend the evening event, but he might not end up with a photograph with the president. Obama is expected to deliver remarks at the event, but will not likely remain for the duration of the event….(read more)

Source: Breitbart.com


[PHOTOS] Presidents and Popes

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Presidents and Popes

Pope Benedict XVI in the Popemobile outside the White House. 4/16/08

Lyndon B. Johnson introduces a member of his staff to Pope Paul VI. NY, 10/4/65.

Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II in conversation at Vizcaya Museum in Miami. 9/10/87

Richard and Pat Nixon at the Vatican with Pope Paul VI. 9/28/70.

Pope John Paul II with George Bush in the papal apartment, Vatican City. 11/8/91.

Dwight D. Eisenhower met with Pope John XXIII at the Vatican on 12/6/59. 


Michael R. Strain: Pope Francis Should Praise Free Markets More Often

Poverty is a serious obstacle to human potential. Free enterprise can help fight it.

Michael R. Strainimrs.php writes: Washington, D.C., where I live and work, is abuzz with talk of Pope Francis’s upcoming visit, commencing Tuesday. But what matters much more for the universal church will take place seven days after the pope departs the United States for the Vatican, when the Synod of Bishops on the Family begins.

Free enterprise dramatically reduces extreme poverty. In 1970, over one-quarter of the world lived on less than one dollar per day. By 2006, about one in 20 people lived in extreme poverty — an 80 percent reduction. We have the adoption of free markets across the developing world to thank for this massive reduction. That it happened in less than four decades is all the more impressive.

Due to a recent move by the pope, the upcoming synod may include a discussion of broader issues than did last year’s. I sure hope so. Hot-button issues related to divorce and homosexuality are obviously important and need to be discussed, but so do many other issues. The synod bishops and critics of the Church alike should spend more time on those issues. And I hope one such issue will be the relationship between economics and the family, the topic of a great panel I sat on at Georgetown University earlier this month. The Church’s understanding of this relationship — or, more accurately, this Catholic’s understanding of the Church’s understanding — may be instructive and edifying to our national conversation.

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“Poverty is obviously a serious obstacle to the flourishing life – it is hard to reach your full potential if you don’t have enough to eat, and it is hard to meet your obligations to your family, as well. By reducing poverty in the developing world, free markets help to strengthen families.”

We must begin with the human person — that is always the starting point. And we must begin with the understanding that each of us is called to love God and to love others. I do not refer here to sentimentality, but rather to a deep, abiding commitment, rooted in duty — to live for others, our families not the least. This is the central human calling, and the benchmark against which to judge the efficacy of social and economic systems.

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“If I’m reading him correctly, the Holy Father’s view is a shame, because dramatically rolling back free markets would weaken the greatest anti-poverty tool in human history. It would, of course, extract a large toll from families.”

The free enterprise system, then, is good insofar as it enables individuals to fulfill this central human vocation. It does this quite well.

First, free enterprise dramatically reduces extreme poverty. In 1970, over one-quarter of the world lived on less than one dollar per day. By 2006, about one in 20 people lived in extreme poverty — an 80 percent reduction. We have the adoption of free markets across the developing world to thank for this massive reduction. That it happened in less than four decades is all the more impressive.

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Poverty is obviously a serious obstacle to the flourishing life – it is hard to reach your full potential if you don’t have enough to eat, and it is hard to meet your obligations to your family, as well. By reducing poverty in the developing world, free markets help to strengthen families.

[Read the full text here, at The Washington Post]

The effect of liberalizing markets on extreme poverty and the good this does for families is a fact I wish the Holy Father discussed more often, and that I hope will be part of the upcoming synod. Reading His Holiness’s encyclical on the environment, I was left with the impression that the pope’s primary socio-environmental concern is not pollution per se, but rather mankind’s ability to generate pollution — an ability which is the consequence of industrialization and market economies. If I’m reading him correctly, the Holy Father’s view is a shame, because dramatically rolling back free markets would weaken the greatest anti-poverty tool in human history. It would, of course, extract a large toll from families. Hopefully the Holy Father sees that markets generate solutions to intractable problems, in addition to causing problems of their own. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] iPress Conference: Siri Handles Question At White House

jonathanturley writes:

…There was a wonderfully ironic moment in the White House as reporters spared with Press Secretary Josh Earnest who has been often criticized for less than forthcoming statements to the media

Here is the tape:

…Now “Siri” is getting in the act as she was heard in the midst of the press conference saying “Sorry, I’m not sure what you want me to change.” It seemed for a moment like Earnest had developed a second persona…

Source: jonathanturley.org

 


Seriously, Must Presidential Visits Be Such Regal Affairs?’

Marine One with US President Barack Obama lands at a Wall Street heliport on July 17, 2015 in New York, New York. Obama plans to spend the night in New York City after attending a Democratic National Committee fundraiser. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI        (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Security is one thing; a sense of moderation is another. They are not incompatible values.

President Obama just shattered another long-standing tradition: he didn’t stay at the Waldorf-Astoria during his visit to New York City this past weekend, and is apparently not planning to use the venerable Park Avenue tower during September’s meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. Every president since Herbert Hoover has either lived or stayed at the Waldorf—though Jimmy Carter says he never actually spent the night—and it was for many years the official residence of the United States’ permanent representative to the U.N. The list of overnight guests includes Mr. Obama who stayed at the hotel during previous General Assembly sessions.

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“He might do well to take a page from the British. Both Prime Minister David Cameron and the heir to the British thrown, Prince William, were recently photographed traveling (heaven forbid) economy class.”

But no more. The State Department announced that it was moving its headquarters during the U.N. session. Apparently, the sale of the Waldorf to China’s Anbang Insurance Group triggered either pique over the recent hacking of 4.2 million U.S. government personnel records—where China is the main suspect—or real fears about security.

[Read the full editorial here, at the Observer]

As part of the $1.95 billion sale, there will be a major renovation of the hotel, and some are concerned that the new owners will implant new bugging equipment.

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“Similarly, Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton managed to stay chic flying to the French Alps for a ski vacation also on Easyjet.”

So the State Department has decamped to the New York Palace Hotel, which was recently purchased by South Korea’s Lotte Group. According to documents leaked by Edward Snowden, South Korea regularly spies on the United States, but we don’t much care.

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“When Mr. Obama and his daughters took a not-so-impromptu walk through Central Park, a caravan of 31 vehicles delivered them, at least 10 secret service agents, almost all wearing not-quite-matching blue and gray short-sleeve shirts, surrounded them, and a giant Cadillac Escalade followed closely behind—on the sidewalk.”

With all of this Spy vs. Spy activity, finding a decent hotel room is apparently getting tougher and tougher. Alas, payback is a bitch. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: U.S. Officials: Massive Breach of Federal Personnel Data

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WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is scrambling to assess the impact of a massive data breach involving the agency that handles security clearances and employee records, U.S. officials said Thursday. STAMP-panic-red-250

A congressional aide familiar with the situation, who declined to be named because he was not authorized to discuss it, said the Office of Personnel Management and the Interior Department were hacked. A second U.S. official who also declined to be identified said the data breach could potentially affect every federal agency.

The White House was considering a public announcement of the breach Thursday night or Friday morning, the second official said.

The Office of Personnel Management is the human resources department for the federal government, and issues security clearances….(developing)

StarTribune.com


BREAKING: Russian Hackers Read Obama’s NCAA Brackets, Officials Say

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WASHINGTON — Some of President Obama’s email correspondence was swept up by Russian hackers last year in a breach of the White House’s unclassified computer system that was far more intrusive and worrisome than has been publicly acknowledged, according to senior American officials briefed on the investigation.

The hackers, who also got deeply into the State Department’s unclassified system, do not appear to have penetrated closely guarded servers that control the message traffic from Mr. Obama’s BlackBerry, which he or an aide carries constantly.

But they obtained access to the email archives of people inside the White House, and perhaps some outside, with whom Mr. Obama regularly communicated. From those accounts, they reached emails that the president had sent and received, according to officials briefed on the investigation.

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White House officials said that no classified networks had been compromised, and that the hackers had collected no classified information. Many senior officials have two computers in their offices, one operating on a highly secure classified network and another connected to the outside world for unclassified communications.

But officials have conceded that the unclassified system routinely contains much information that is considered highly sensitive: schedules, email exchanges with ambassadors and diplomats, discussions of pending personnel moves and legislation, and, inevitably, some debate about policy.

Officials did not disclose the number of Mr. Obama’s emails that were harvested by hackers, nor the sensitivity of their content. The president’s email account itself does not appear to have been hacked. Aides say that most of Mr. Obama’s classified briefings — such as the morning Presidential Daily Brief — are delivered orally or on paper (sometimes supplemented by an iPad system connected to classified networks) and that they are usually confined to the Oval Office or the Situation Room.

Even though Obama's email is protected by Secret Service guards, somehow Russians got access

Even though Obama’s email is protected by Secret Service guards, somehow Russians got access

Still, the fact that Mr. Obama’s communications were among those hit by the hackers — who are presumed to be linked to the Russian government, if not working for it — has been one of the most closely held findings of the inquiry. Senior White House officials have known for months about the depth of the intrusion.

“This has been one of the most sophisticated actors we’ve seen,” said one senior American official briefed on the investigation.

Others confirmed that the White House intrusion was viewed as so serious that officials met on a nearly daily basis for several weeks after it was discovered. “It’s the Russian angle to this that’s particularly worrisome,” another senior official said. Read the rest of this entry »


David Weigel: Wrong Side of History? ‘Democrats Are Endorsing Something More Radical Than Voters Are Comfortable With’

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David Weigel writes:

..it’s now expected for Democrats to denounce RFRAs, just as large corporations are denouncing them. In doing so, all of the critics are on the wrong side of public polling. According to a March edition of the Marist poll, 54 percent of Americans agreed with  “allowing First Amendment religious liberty protection or exemptions for faith based organizations and individuals even when it conflicts with government laws.” By a two-point margin, 47-45, even a plurality of Democratic voters agreed with that.

The margins were even larger in opposition to laws that proposed “penalties or fines for individuals who refuse to provide wedding-related services to same sex couples even if their refusal is based on their religious beliefs.” No Democrat is seriously proposing this; the nearest cultural analogue may be the story of Memories Pizza, the Indiana shop whose owner said that he would decline to provide pies to gay weddings, and saw its Yelp! page firebombed with angry comments. (The popularity of delivery pizza at gay wedding ceremonials is well known.) Still, according to Marist, Americans oppose penalties on businesses like Memories by a 65-31 margin. The margin among Democrats: 62-34 against. Read the rest of this entry »


Indiana Governor Mike Pence Informs Clueless Agenda-Driven Media that He Signed Same Bill Barack Obama Voted for in Illinois

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White House doesn’t dispute it

John McCormack reports: In an appearance on ABC’s This Week, Indiana governor Mike Pence defended his state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act by noting that Barack Obama had voted for the same law as an Illinois state senator.Pence_Mike

“Josh, you just heard the governor say right there this is the same law, he says, that Barack Obama voted for as a state senator back in Illinois.”

— This Week Host George Stephanoplous to White House press secretary Josh Earnest

“The Religious Freedom Restoration Act was signed into federal law by President Bill Clinton more than 20 years ago, and it lays out a framework for ensuring that a very high level of scrutiny is given any time government action impinges on the religious liberty of any American.” Pence said. “After last year’s Hobby Lobby case, Indiana properly brought the same version that then-state senator Barack Obama voted for in Illinois before our legislature.”

[For more on the controversy surrounding Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, see this article]

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This Week Host George Stephanoplous later asked White House press secretary Josh Earnest to respond to Pence’s claim: “Josh, you just heard the governor say right there this is the same law, he says, that Barack Obama voted for as a state senator back in Illinois.”

Earnest didn’t dispute the Indiana governor’s statement….(read more)

weeklystandard.com


[VIDEO] NBC’s Engel: U.S. Allies Fear Obama Administration Leaking Information to Iran

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Time Magazine Parody cover by punditfromanotherplanet

From Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey:

Just how badly has Barack Obama and his administration damaged relations with our allies in the Middle East? NBC’s Richard Engel reports that the Sunni nations in the region have begun to fear that the Obama administration leaks intel to Iran as part of its efforts at rapprochement with the mullahs, which is why the US got blindsided by the Saudi-led coalition’s operations in Yemen. The White House’s “incoherence” in policy, Engel reports, has most of them losing confidence in American leadership, according to Engel’s contacts. (via Free Beacon):

Initially, this looked like material for an update on my earlier post regarding the Saudi-GCC coalition and its decision to work around Obama, but it deserves its own thread for a couple of reasons. First, Engel reported this for NBC, and on MSNBC, the “Lean Forward” cable channel that usually acts as a clearinghouse for Barack Obama apologists (and the occasional slam on Middle America). Engel’s not among the apologists; he’s a first-class foreign correspondent whose reports follow no partisan agenda, and whose sources have usually provided him with highly accurate reporting.

[Read more at Hot Air]

More importantly, Engel’s report advances this to an allegation of betrayal, not just incompetence. Clearly, Saudi Arabia has little confidence left in the Obama administration; that much is evident from their actions to cut the US out of the loop on this coalition. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] As Yemen Burns, White House Still Touting Country as Counter-Terror Model

At The Corner, Brendan Bordelon writes:

In a statement ABC’s Jon Karl found “astounding,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest continued to call the United States’s activities in Yemen as a “model” for counter-terrorism — even as the Arabic nation’s government collapses and international terrorist groups move in.

“The White House does continue to believe that a successful counter-terrorism strategy is one that will build up the capacity of the central government to have local fighters on the ground to take the fight to extremists in their own country. That is a template that has succeeded in mitigating the threat that we face from extremists in place like Yemen and Somalia.”

As al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula gained power in Yemen’s north over the past few years, the Obama administration responded with a relatively hands-off approach. The U.S. government helped build up, support and train government forces fighting the terrorists while providing air reconnaissance and, occasionally, drone strikes against high-value targets in the country.

It was a plan that the Obama administration frequently held up as a successful example of U.S. counter-terrorism strategy. But as Shi’ite Houthi rebels continue to drive the Yemeni government from power, and fighters from the al-Qaida and the Islamic State conduct terrorist attacks and consolidate their forces, many have called the American strategy to help stabilize the nation fundamentally flawed. Read the rest of this entry »


Glenn Harlan Reynolds Kicks It Up A Notch: Unpatriotic Voters Elect Unpatriotic Leaders

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Glenn Harlan Reynolds writes: Last week, Rudy Giuliani mused about whether President Obama loves America, musings that produced immediate media backlash as beyond the pale. Some thought this was proof of Republican racism. (Never mind that Obama had accused President Bush of being “unpatriotic” back in 2008). Others gloated that Giuliani had “trolled” the media into spending five days debating Obama’s patriotism.

My own take: Of course Obama loves America. After all, you always hurt the one you love.

But, seriously, why do we care? That is, why do we spend time looking at presidents — and others — based on irrational emotional attachments that are hard to assess, rather than looking at things like credentials that are easy to assess, and arguably more directly related to the job, than things like patriotism, or loyalty, or honesty? Why can’t we just be rational about these things?

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“Of course Obama loves America. After all, you always hurt the one you love.”

Maybe because, as Robert Frank suggested in an underappreciated book some years ago, Passions Within Reason: The Strategic Role Of The Emotions, we don’t want to be totally rational about things because, ironically, it’s not rational to be too rational.

Imagine that you’re thinking of getting married. Would you want a spouse who sticks with you for purely rational reasons, or one who forms an irrational attachment — let’s call it “love” — that doesn’t depend on rational factors? 4831728106_obama_snob_xlarge

Most people would say the latter. A purely rational attachment is nice, but if things change — say, if you become sick, or unattractive, or broke — a rationally attached person might rationally choose to leave. A person who loves you, on the other hand, might stick around anyway, because being parted from you, even if some of your charms have vanished, would cause emotional pain, while helping you feels good.

Likewise, you’d like to hire an honest employee, one who will feel guilty about stealing from you. A rational employee won’t steal if there’s a danger of being caught, but an honest one won’t steal even when he can get away with it, because if he does he will feel guilty, while if he resists temptation he will feel virtuous.

A person who is perfectly rational about costs and benefits, with no irrational constraints like loyalty or honesty (or patriotism), is a person who will lie, cheat and steal whenever he or she can get away with it. A sociopath, basically. Read the rest of this entry »


Obama ‘Owes the Jews of Europe an Apology’

Dana-perino-TheFive

In response to a remark President Obama made about terrorists “randomly” targeting the Paris kosher market, Fox’s Dana Perino said the president should apologize to every single Jewish person in Europe.

“I actually think that the president owes the Jews of Europe an apology. They deserve better from the President of the United States. Anti-semitism is on the rise, and somebody must stick up for them.”

— Dana Perino

[Also see – Re: ‘There Were People Other than Just Jews Who Were in that Deli’ – Jonah Goldberg, The Corner]

As a former White House press secretary herself, she was “nearly unable to breathe” after seeing Josh Earnest trying to explain that comment from the president, only to then backtrack on Twitter.

Perino also thought the White House should have realized weeks ago, when the interview in question was filmed, that they had a brewing crisis on their hands, but instead they weren’t ready for it….(read more)

Mediaite


Super-Secret Shadow Government

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Charlie Spiering writes: President Obama met with American Muslim leaders this afternoon, according to the White House schedule, but so far the administration is unwilling to reveal who attended the meeting, which was closed to the press.

The White House released a readout of the meeting explaining that Obama discussed “a range of domestic and foreign policy issues” including Obamacare, police fairness, anti-Muslim discrimination, and the upcoming Summit on Countering Violence Extremism.

APTOPIX White House Sunrise

“The President discussed the need to continue countering ISIL and other groups that commit horrific acts of violence, purportedly in the name of Islam,” the readout continued. Read the rest of this entry »


President Obama ‘Deploying All Rhetorical Assets’ To Rescue U.S. Woman Held By ISIS

US-POLITICS-OBAMA

“Make no mistake. Anything that we could appear to be doing, we are appearing to be doing.”

President Barack Obama said the U.S. is “doing anything we verbally and symbolically can” to rescue an American woman being held hostage by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria terrorist group.

“I know folks want me to get angry. But it’s just not the best interests of this administration to mount a meaningful offense against ISIS. We reserve our real anger for Israel, England, and other U.S. allies.”

Speaking with NBC’s “Today Show” this week, Obama said the U.S. is deploying all rhetorical efforts in order to appear to be interested in rescuing the woman held in captivity. In a series of prepared statements, Obama vowed to continue evading the subject of Islamic extremism, avoiding criticism, and improvising credible excuses for the U.S. military’s half-hearted, ineffective strikes. Instead, the administrations efforts are invested in creating an appearance of aiding Kurdish forces, while risking as little political capital as possible.

“Our moral outrage and sincere hatred must be aimed at serving a higher purpose, our crusade against Republican leadership, and members of the average American taxpaying public…that’s where America’s future is decided.”

“We’re deploying all imaginary assets that we can, placating all the coalition allies with empty gestures so that we can to return to our priority message about important domestic issues,” Obama said. “We’re in very close contact with her family, trying to maintain an image of compassion and sincerity. Obviously, this is something that is heartbreaking for families, so it’s important that we appear to be working hard on their behalf. Our obligation is to make sure that we maintain an outward appearance that we are engaged, and decisive, so that if things go well, I can take credit. And if things don’t go well, I vow to do everything in my power to lay the blame elsewhere.”

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 Images

“Our obligation is to make sure that we maintain an outward appearance that we are engaged, and decisive, so that if things go well, I can take credit. And if things don’t go well, I vow to do everything in my power to lay the blame elsewhere.”

“Make no mistake. Anything that we could appear to be doing, we are appearing to be doing,” Obama said of the fighting in Syria and Afghanistan. “Folks are frustrated, often times because they want action, courage, integrity, accountability, and leadership to resolve these issues. And as most Americans know, that’s just something I’m not prepared to do.”

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ISIS also released video Tuesday purportedly showing Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh being burned alive. The murder followed a botched prisoner exchange with ISIS for a failed female suicide bomber being held on death row in Jordan. She has since been executed in response to al-Kaseasbeh’s death. Read the rest of this entry »


Josh Earnest Smugly Claims ‘Accuracy’ When Defending Obama’s Bizarre Religious Taboo

WH-accuracy

Charlie Spiering reports: Press Secretary Josh Earnest defended President Obama and White House officials for refusing to describe the terrorist attacks in Paris as a consequence of radical Islamic terrorism.

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UPDATE: LA Times Obama sympathizer defends the absurdity

Earnest explained to White House reporters during the press briefing that this is a question of “accuracy.”

“We want to describe exactly what happened. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] White House Unsure Whether Murderous Rampage in France Is Terrorism

White House press secretary Josh Earnest refrained from calling the attack on a French magazine “terrorism” in an interview this morning on CNN:

The CNN host asked,

“Josh, when you talk about countering the message, you keep using the word violence. I mean, this is an act of terrorism, that’s what the president of France called it — an act of terrorism. You’re referring to ISIS and other bad actors, it doesn’t really matter who it is at the end of the day. You know you’re fighting a very large group of people of somewhat similar concern. Do you see this as an act of terrorism, and is this something that has to be condemned on that level?”

drudge-france-terror

“Based on what we know right now it does seem that’s what we’re confronting here. And this is an act of violence that we certainly do condemn, and if based on this investigation it turns out to be an act of terrorism, then we would condemn that in the strongest possible terms, too.”

Earnest continued,

JoshEarnest

“I mean, look, this is again based on the very preliminary information that we have, this isn’t just an attack as you point out, Chris, on the people of France and on innocent civilians. This is an attack on some of the basic values that we hold dear here in this country and basic values of freedom of speech and freedom of expression and the free press that is also held dear by our allies in France. So this is something we take seriously and that we condemn, like I said, in the strongest possible terms.”

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UPDATE: A few minutes later, President Obama released a statement calling it a “terrorist act.”

“I strongly condemn the horrific shooting at the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris that has reportedly killed 12 people.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this terrorist attack and the people of France at this difficult time….(read more)

The Weekly Standard


Zombie Marxism Prevails: Castro Thanks U.S. but Affirms Cuba’s Communist Rule

Castro-NYT

HAVANA — President Raúl Castro declared victory for the Cuban Revolution on Saturday in a wide-ranging speech, thanking President Obama for “a new chapter,” while also reaffirming that restored relations with the United States did not mean the end of Communist rule in Cuba.

“I do not believe we can keep doing the same thing for over five decades and expect a different result.”

–Barack Obama

In a televised speech that lasted less than an hour at the end of Cuba’s legislative session, Mr. Castro alternated between conciliatory and combative statements against the United States and the rest of the world.

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He emphasized that Cuba would accelerate its economic reform, prioritizing an end to the country’s dual-currency system. But he also said that changes needed to be gradual to create a system of “prosperous and sustainable communism.” Read the rest of this entry »


Obama’s Immigration Executive Order is a Confession of Democratic Failure

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Evidently the harder path was just too hard

Gearson Michael Gerson writes: There are any number of marvelous things one might do as president, if Congress were not such a checked and balanced mess. But future presidents now have a new method at their disposal: Declare a long-running debate to be a national emergency. Challenge Congress, under threat of unilateral executive action, to legislate on the topic before your term runs out. And when lawmakers refuse, act with the most expansive definition of presidential power.

The supporting arguments for this approach come down to the claim that the American political system is broken — incapable of action on urgent matters because of obstructionism, bad faith and the abuse of legislative procedure. It is the political philosophy of “something must be done.”

“By crossing this particular Rubicon, Obama has given up on politics, which is, from one perspective, understandable. He doesn’t do it well.”

The arguments against this approach often come down to institutionalism. Major policy shifts, in this view, deserve legislative hearings and an open amendment process. The White House should make its views known and issue veto threats. There should be a negotiation between the House and Senate to reconcile a bill. There should be a presidential signature, or a veto and an override debate. The machinery is admittedly creaky, but it manufactures democratic legitimacy. Read the rest of this entry »


Ed Rogers: ‘Let the Payback Begin’

APTOPIX White House Sunrise

Reid, Pelosi and Obama couldn’t work together in the majority; does anyone think they are going to pull together in the minority? 

“Was the media duped or compliant in not blowing the whistle on this? How were we this blind to the Democratic infighting? Evidently, the entire Democratic establishment, from the time the president was inaugurated to his second term in 2013 until now, had become nothing but a scheming, tactical political operation, bickering over money and positioning, with no particular interest in governing.”

For The Washington Post, Ed Rogers writes: The fog of the battle has lifted, and it is clear who won and who lost in the 2014 midterm elections. So now it is time for one of Washington’s favorite pastimes: finger-pointing, assigning blame and pursuing retribution. Losses get worse before they get better. The Democrats’ disappointment will set in, discouragement will Senate-race-Landrieufollow and the beating they took Tuesday will seem much worse 60 days from now than it does today.

That said, Democrats are off to a quick start in getting at each other’s throats.  With lightning speed, soon-to-be Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has sought to air his grievances and presumably shift much of the blame to President Obama for the Democrats’ loss of his chamber. In a remarkably candid exercise, Reid’s chief of staff, David Krone, hmidler-tweetas matter-of-factly supplied the media with time lines, quotes and precise accounts of the animosity that existed between the Democratic Senate and the White House during Campaign 2014.  In a must-read, vivid piece from The Post’s Philip Rucker and Robert Costa, Krone is quoted as saying that they were “never going to get on the same page” and revealed that, after one meeting with the president, the Reid forces were left “beating our heads against the wall.”

“Do Democrats think the president is going to do much to help candidates who will serve only after he leaves office? Does anyone think Obama is going to suddenly care about the DNC and make it an effective force? It is not unreasonable to think he couldn’t care less.”

The president’s news conference yesterday did nothing to soothe the Democrats’ disappointment or prepare them for the slump that is to come. He hasn’t supplied them with a shoulder to cry on, nor has he exhibited any regret or taken responsibility, as a leader normally would. As a result, the president may be the easiest target for the losers as they collect their thoughts, become more bitter and start to lash out. Read the rest of this entry »