Monday, February 3, 2014

Current Events - February 3, 2014

President Obama Fumbles Super Bowl Interview with Bill O'Reilly

By Adrienne Ross
...O'Reilly did his part to try to get the President on record about whether or not then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told him within minutes that the Libya attack was a "terrorist" act, and Obama's response was to hem and haw--clearly unwilling to be forthright, focusing instead on calling Benghazi a "dangerous place."
In addition, President Obama refused to answer why Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius still has a job after the disastrous Obamacare rollout--and whether the terminal illness of his presidency was his "if you like your healthcare plan, you can keep your healthcare plan" promise, which, of course, was not true.
No doubt accustomed to more softball questions from the media, Obama seemed perturbed at times by O'Reilly's queries, and he blamed Bill and Fox News for the distrust Americans have for him--odd since he could have taken advantage of this opportunity to clarify his positions by actually answering the questions. He chose, instead, to deflect.
The interview found the president uncomfortable from the outset, although O'Reilly towed the line between forcefully asking the right questions and showing respect for the president of the United States. It grew increasingly painful, and even embarrassing, when Bill read a question from a woman who asked why Obama found it necessary to "fundamentally transform" the nation. As Breitbart News reported, his response suggested that he was not even aware that he had made such a statement, and O'Reilly reminded him that those were his own words.

Obama: 'I Don't Think We Need to Fundamentally Transform the Nation'

By Wynton Hall
In an apparent reversal of his past campaign statements, President Barack Obama told Fox News's Bill O'Reilly in a Sunday interview that he does not believe in fundamentally transforming America.
O'Reilly read Obama a question from a viewer who asked, "Mr. President, why do you feel it is necessary to fundamentally transform the nation that has afforded you so much opportunity and success?"
"I don't think we need to fundamentally transform the nation," said Obama.
"But those are your words," explained O'Reilly.
"I think what we have to do is make sure that here in America, if you work hard, you can get ahead," said Obama. 
On October 30, 2008, then-candidate Obama said at a Columbia, Missouri, campaign event, "We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America."

‘Not even a SMIDGEN of corruption’: Obama DOUBLES DOWN on IRS targeting denial

By Brendan Bordelon
President Barack Obama again denied any wrongdoing by the IRS over their targeting of conservative tea party groups, telling Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly there was “not even a smidgen of corruption” in the way the tax enforcer processed tea partiers’ 501(c)4 paperwork.
O’Reilly spoke with the president just before the Super Bowl on Sunday, touching on the Obamacare rollout and the Benghazi attacks as well as the IRS scandal. He asked Obama if it “was the biggest mistake of your presidency to tell the nation, over and over, if you like your insurance you can keep your insurance.”
“Oh, Bill, you’ve got a long list of my mistakes in my presidency,” Obama began, waving dismissively at O’Reilly.
...The interview became more contentious when O’Reilly brought up Benghazi. The Fox reporter tried to pin the president down on whether he knew that the attacks were carried out by terrorists — despite White House claims they were part of a spontaneous protest caused by an anti-Islamic Youtube video. Obama tried to explain away the controversy by blaming the fog of war. But again, O’Reilly persisted. “Your detractors believe that you did not tell the world it was a terror attack because your campaign did not want that out,” he claimed.
“And they believe that because folks like you are telling them that!” Obama shot back, taking a not-so-subtle dig at Fox. “And what I’m saying is that is inaccurate.”
The president also refused to acknowledge that the IRS illegally targeted tea party groups in the run-up to the 2012 election. “Absolutely wrong,” he said when O’Reilly broached the subject. “These kinds of things keep on surfacing, in part, because you and your TV station will promote them… We’ve had multiple hearings on it!”
“So you’re saying there was no corruption there at all?” O’Reilly asked.
“Absolutely not,” the president replied. “There were some bone-headed decisions out of a local office.”
“But no mass corruption?” O’Reilly persisted.
“Not even mass corruption,” a visibly-annoyed Obama replied. “Not even a smidgen of corruption.”

GOP War on Conservatives Backfires

By Mike Flynn
...Whatever strategy the DC GOP is employing, though, is clearly backfiring. All the official Democrat campaign committees collectively raised around $200 million in 2013. The Republican committees raised just over $170 million. This disparity comes when the GOP hold on the House is solid and the party stands a very real chance of taking control of the Senate. It ought to be swimming in donations. The long-standing GOP advantage on fundraising has evaporated. 
The most interesting data from Friday's reports is the surging financial strength of conservative SuperPACs. Karl Rove's three SuperPACs collectively raised $6.1 million last year. The Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund, where I am Political Director, alone raised $6.4 million. The four largest conservative SuperPACs raised $20 million. GOP establishment SuperPACs raised just over $7 million. 
Donors haven't stopped giving. They have just stopped giving the Republican party. 
The existential flaw in the party's self-declared war against conservatives of the Tea Party is that they represent the base of the party. As the Whigs will tell you, a party should not ignore the convictions and sentiments of its most loyal members. 
Keep in mind, this shift away from the GOP to more conservative organizations occurred even before the irrational attempt of GOP leadership to push through an amnesty bill. Conservatives were lectured that the government shutdown was ill-adivsed because it "distracted" from the failures of "ObamaCare." 
Okay. So, while the country is fully understanding the failures of ObamaCare, the establishment GOP wants to pivot to an issue championed by President Obama and Chuck Schumer? Serious question: Are they trying to blow the midterms?
What is most fascinating about the FEC reports is that is almost no longer matters what the GOP does. There are new people in town. For the last four years they have had the grass-roots. Now, they also have the money. 

White House week ahead: Education push, meetings with Dems

By Bryan Hughes 
President Obama this week will outline executive actions to get high-speed Internet into more American classrooms and hold multiple meetings with Democrats increasingly concerned about the party's fate in the 2014 midterm elections.
Obama will announce hundreds of millions of dollars in funding from tech companies to bring enhanced computer and broadband equipment to U.S. schools, the latest example of his administration taking unilateral action to make good on his State of the Union pledges.
“You'll hear the president talk about ConnectEd — this is an opportunity where several private American companies are going to commit over a half billion dollars to ensure that our schools across the country have the kind of technology so that our kids can compete in this economy,” White House chief of staff Denis McDonough said on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” previewing the Tuesday event.
...On Monday, the president will meet with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., in the Oval Office. The gathering is closed to the press, however.
And on Tuesday evening, Obama will host the House Democratic caucus at the White House for a “roundtable and reception.” The president Wednesday will also deliver remarks at a Senate Democratic conference.
The week’s events are part of a White House effort to appease Democrats wary of how the president will influence November’s midterm elections. The White House has already reopened its internal political shop, coordinating money and messaging efforts with congressional allies.
However, Democrats have openly questioned whether Obama, particularly his administration's botched rollout of public health exchanges, could jeopardize efforts to retain the Senate. And many progressives have already written off the possibility of winning back the House.
The president on Thursday will speak at the National Prayer Breakfast, an event that has come with drama for the White House. Last year, Dr. Benjamin Carson, a neurosurgeon who has since become a national conservative figure, ripped Obamacare while sharing the stage with the president.
Obama will round out his week by meeting Thursday with Haitian President Michel Martelly at the White House.

The week ahead in economics: Janet Yellen takes over, jobs and the budget

By Joseph Lawler
Janet Yellen will be sworn in as the chairwoman of the Federal Reserve at 9 a.m. on Monday morning, making her the most important economic policymaker and one of the most powerful women in the world.
...Also on Monday morning, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will speak at the Bipartisan Policy Center about the debt ceiling. The statutory debt limit, which was suspended in the deal to end the government shutdown in October, will become binding on Feb. 7 and Lew has said it must be raised by late February to avoid a debt default. The Obama administration has said it will refuse to negotiate with the GOP over raising the debt ceiling. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, however, said Sunday that he is "hopeful that the president and the Senate will work with us in the House to actually do what has typically been done with debt ceilings, which is making some progress towards addressing the spending problem in Washington."
On Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office will provide an updated look at the state of fiscal affairs in the U.S. with its release of the Budget and Economic Outlook, which will provide economic and budgetary projects through 2024.
On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will release the jobs report for February. Analysts are expecting about 180,000 new jobs for the month, following a disappointing December reading of just 74,000. It is also possible that December's number will be revised upward.

Week ahead: Senators put spotlight on W.Va. spill

 By Laura Barron-Lopez

Senators will hold a hearing on Tuesday to examine the chemical spill in West Virginia that left roughly 300,000 people without water.
West Virginia Sens. Joe Manchin (D) and Jay Rockefeller (D) have called for stronger water regulations in response to the spill and are co-sponsoring a bill with Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) that would bulk up states’ powers on oversight of chemical facilities.
The hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works subcommittee on Water and Wildlife will review the “effectiveness of the policies and procedures” used to protect drinking water sources.
The senators will also consider what added measure might be necessary to ensure drinking water sources are safe and protected from hazards.
...Also on Tuesday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will consider two of President Obama’s nominations to the Interior Department: Rhea Suh as assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife Parks and Janice Schneider to be assistant secretary for Land and Minerals Management.
On the House side of the Capitol, a working group on Tuesday will release its final report and recommendations for improving the Endangered Species Act.
A House panel held a hearing on the endangered species law in December, where some Republicans voiced concern over the disruption to commerce they say the law creates.
The Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday will hold a hearing on strengthening fishing communities and increasing flexibility in fisheries management.
Environmental hearings continue on Wednesday, as the House Science Committee will take a look at the science behind the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulations, with a specific look at how it is applied in Texas.
Later on Wednesday, a House subpanel will take a look at the impacts of the Bureau of Land Management’s “red-tape” on the nation’s energy production.
Off Capitol Hill, the Brookings Institution will hold a discussion on the future of electric utilities on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, the Environmental Law Institute will host a former White House official for a conversation on key legal environment and energy issues facing the Obama administration this year.
Gary Guzy, a former White House Council on Environmental Quality deputy director, will speak at the event.
Finally, on Thursday the Brookings Institution will hold a discussion on the clean energy challenges facing China. 

PK'S NOTE: Read the whole things. It's good.

By Victor Davis Hanson
On almost every contemporary issue there is a populist, middle-class argument to be made against elite liberalism. Yet the Republican class in charge seems ossified in its inability to make a counter-argument for the middle class. Never has the liberal agenda been so vulnerable, a logical development when bad ideas have had five years to prove themselves as very bad ideas. When Obama is all done he will have taken high presidential popularity ratings, a supermajority in the Senate, and a large margin in the House and lost them all — if only the Republicans can make an adequate case that they represent the middle class, the Democrats only the very wealthy and the very dependent.
In 2014 Republicans are going to be kamikazeed by very wealthy, highly educated, and relentless operatives in the Boston-New York-Washington, D.C., nexus, with backup from the San Diego to San Francisco bookend coastal corridor. These critics mostly rest at the top of the capitalist heap, and will assail those who are not, on grounds that they are unfair to every hyphenated group in America.

To survive, Republicans must go on the offensive and point out that their accusers never live the lives they advocate for others. Liberal feminists seem to be John Edwards and Bill Clinton. Liberal men of the people are Al Gore, John Kerry, and Jon Corzine. Their populists who deplore outsourcing, offshore accounts, and non-unions are Apple and Facebook grandees who embrace all three. White privilege is not the fate of the West Virginian or West Texan working at Target, but the tiny, inbred old-boy and old-girl world of prep-school to Ivy League to the insider pull of Dad and Mom to land up with a phoned-in job in journalism, politics, finance, entertainment, the arts, and academia on the East and West coasts, followed by pro forma praise of diversity — for others. Open-borders zealots have their children behind the walls of private academies.
Surely there is a populist case to be made — or is the Republican establishment to manage a permanent, sober, and judicious out-party, as it is demagogued to death by the privileged?

Parents upset over game played at middle school

By Gabrielle Mays
...On Wednesday, fifth through eighth grade students played the game called “Cross the Line”.
Parents say their children were asked personal questions like, do your parents drink and has anyone in your family been in jail?
Students were also asked to step forward if they answered yes to any of the questions.
Neither the school principal nor the district superintendent would answer questions on camera, but in a written statement, the principal said participation was not required and students could have said no.
However, parents claim their students told them that if they didn’t participate, they’d receive an in-school suspension.
Sarah Maitland was one of the students who played the game.
“She asked if you ever wanted to commit suicide to step forward and then after that she asked if you ever experienced or wanted to cut, to step forward,” said Maitland.
The school says the activity is a part of a bullying prevention program.
A few parents met with the superintendent, the principal and the assistant principal Friday morning to express their concerns with the game.
“They basically told us that all the students were lying…all the students got together and planned it out and if they weren’t lying, it was all misperceptions. They didn’t specifically say do your parents do drugs,” said Amanda Fifarek, mother of 7th grade student.
School administrators said, “The intent of the activity was to build stronger, more respectful relationships among students.”
However, parents said they believe it actually makes it easier for students to bully each other.
“It was too personal. It’s just things your kids don’t need to be disclosing to other kids,” Fifarek said.
On Friday the school sent home a letter explaining more about the game and why it was used, but the parents who oppose it say it’s not enough. They still want answers.
Parents say they were not told that the game was going to be played.
The school says if there’s another such activity, it will let parents know ahead of time.

Senators: Kerry Admits Obama's Syria Policy Is Failing

By Josh Rogin
In a closed-door meeting, two senators say, the Secretary of State admitted to them that he no longer believes the administration’s approach to the crisis in Syria is working. Peace talks have failed, he conceded, and now it's time to arm the moderate opposition—before local al Qaeda fighters try to attack the United States.
Secretary of State John Kerry has lost faith in his own administration’s Syria policy, he told fifteen U.S. Congressmen in a private, off-the-record meeting, according to two of the senators who were in the room.
Kerry also said he believes the regime of Bashar al Assad is failing to uphold its promise to give up its chemical weapons according to schedule; that the Russians are not being helpful in solving the Syrian civil war; and that the Geneva 2 peace talks that he helped organize are not succeeding. But according to the senators, Kerry now wants to arm Syria's rebels—in part, to block the local al Qaeda affiliates who have designs on attacking the U.S. (Kerry's spokesperson denied that he now wants to supply weapons, but did not dispute the overall tenor of the conversation.)

Lorne Michaels, creator of “Saturday Night Live” says the show typically makes fun of Republicans because they can handle it. Democrats can’t, he told Vulture.
Vulture asked, “Are there any basic rules for what works and what doesn’t politically?”
“Republicans are easier for us than Democrats,” Michaels said. “Democrats tend to take it personally; Republicans think it’s funny.”

PK'S NOTE: I include this because I am sick and tired of hearing about celebrity deaths being "tragic" and that it wasn't their fault because they had an addiction. They made choices in their lives that led to death instead of life. Addiction is something that is treatable like diabetes on a daily basis and THEY CHOSE NOT TO. They chose to throw away their talent and opportunities for a temporary high. How stupid and wasteful. I have no sympathy, it is selfish, and it makes me incredibly angry. He leaves behind three young kids without a father and a film he had seven days of work left now in a lurch.   

Philip Seymour Hoffman flubbed his greatest role

By Thomas Lifson
He may have won the Academy Award for Best Actor as Truman Capote, but in life's drama, Philip Seymour Hoffman flubbed his role as father and mate.

The death of the extravagantly gifted actor from an apparent heroin overdose boggles my mind. A man who was able to slip into the skin of his characters and inhabit their souls, making their essence shine brightly, was evidently unable to inhabit his own skin with any comfort or ease. Something in his life drove him to seek oblivion in drugs and alcohol starting when he graduated from NYU's drama school, as he publicly admitted.

Hoffman's performance as Truman Capote that won him a Best Actor Oscar was one of the most memorable screen roles I have ever seen. It burned with intensity and verisimilitude, refusing to recede from my memory the way most movie portrayals do. And his comic turn as a rich man's toady in The Big Lebowski was skin-crawlingly memorable.

A man who could put aside his own personality and inject himself into the souls of such figures apparently pays a price. It is almost as if he abandons his psychological and spiritual moorings for his work, and then cannot regain them,

Hoffman fathered three children with a woman he never married, for some reason. They are now left without a father. Although I cannot know what the reality of this situation was, I can observe that he did not plunge himself into the anchor role of husband and father which might have served to keep him from obliterating his life with the consciousness that there was something far more valuable and important that the transitory sensations to be had from the tip of a needle. For all the illusory authenticity he brought to his portrayal of other characters, there was no authenticity to his occupation of the role of father, protector, and husband in real life. Those responsibilities preclude the seeking of oblivion if they are taken with the seriousness they demand.

I am very sad for him, his family, and especially for his children. Genuine tragedy requires a fatal flaw, and that seems to be present here. Hoffman paid with his life, and now those he left behind will pay for the rest of theirs.

Barack Hussein Soebarkah: In Two Places at the Same Time?

Another interesting one.

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