Has there ever been a president so contemptuous of his own supporters?10:48 AM, Jan 23, 2015 • By ETHAN EPSTEIN
In spite of his own mostly impressive educational pedigree, President Obama has always harbored an anti-intellectual (or, to be generous, anti-academic) streak. Whether insulting art history in a failed appeal to "Real 'Muricans," or developing a philistine "College Scorecard," which reduces the entire value of education to future earnings, it's become apparent that in the president's estimation, American higher education should basically be a network of pretty good trade schools. You know, the kind of place where the “folks” drop their G’s when engaging in conversation.
Now, in his new tax proposal, the president is taking aim at another segment of academia: the feminist Left. As Ramesh Ponnuru points out at Bloomberg View, Obama "wants to triple the existing tax credit for child-care expenses, and create a new credit for second earners. Those proposals will help some parents and couples, but have nothing to offer families where one parent concentrates on home-based tasks."
Starting several decades ago, feminist scholars began drawing attention to the vast amount of uncompensated labor – cleaning, cooking etc. - that occurs in the home. The lion's share of this work is of course performed by women. A 1988 tome entitled If Women Counted showed, in the words of reviewer Julie A. Nelson, “how the unpaid work traditionally done by women has been made invisible within national accounting systems.” That women’s domestic labor is unfairly compensated and accounted for has become an article of faith in elite Gender Studies and Sociology departments across the country. But now, President Obama seems set on exacerbating the inequities that feminist scholars have discovered by subsidizing women who choose to work outside the home, and offering not even a pittance to women whose home-based labor is already undervalued.
President Obama almost certainly pulled down something approaching Soviet levels of support in those Gender Studies and Sociology departments, of course. Truly, has there ever been a president so contemptuous of his own most vociferous supporters?
9:05 AM, Jan 23, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
Michael Bloomberg expressed interest in buying the New York Times, a new report in New York magazine says. "For years now, it has been speculated in media circles that Mike Bloomberg could be a white knight and save the New York Times. Now it appears he may actually have tried to do it," reads the article in the magazine.
Near the end of Bloomberg's time as mayor, he told Times chairman and publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. that he was interested in buying the Times, according to a source with direct knowledge of the conversation. Sulzberger replied that the paper was not for sale.
Bloomberg’s overture, previously unreported, might be one reason why talk of a Bloomberg-Times eventuality has flared up among insiders in the wake of the most recent round of Times’ layoffs. Given the fact that both sides vehemently deny that there have been recent conversations (Sulzberger “can’t remember the last time he spoke with Bloomberg,” said a spokesperson), this may very well be wishful — or apprehensive — thinking being played out in the echo chamber of media gossip.
But it does seem that Bloomberg is in fact interested in the Times and that his interest has not waned. "Mike has muttered a lot about the Timesto a lot of people," a Bloomberg adviser told me.
8:36 AM, Jan 23, 2015 • By JIM SWIFT
The deadline to get taxpayer subsidized healthcare is coming up quickly. In an apparent effort to increase enrollment in Obamacare, Facebook ads are running trying to get users to checkout the website.
The problem? Instead of promoting Healthcare.gov, the ads are pushing ealthcare.gov.
Like its predecessor Healthcare.gov, the site is having trouble in terms of operability:
7:49 AM, Jan 23, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
Westminster Abbey announced on Twitter that it's flying its flag at half staff after the death of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
"The Abbey flag is flying at half mast as a mark of respect following the death of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, King of Saudi Arabia," the church tweeted.
Ironically, Christianity is not welcome in Saudi Arabia. As religious liberty expert Nina Shea has told Fox News just a few months ago, "Saudi Arabia is continuing the religious cleansing that has always been its official policy. … It is the only nation state in the world with the official policy of banning all churches. This is enforced even though there are over 2 million Christian foreign workers in that country. Those victimized are typically poor, from Asian and African countries with weak governments."
6:15 PM, Jan 22, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
The green-lipstick wearing interviewer of President Barack Obama expressed her concern that the "po-po" (meaning: police officer) might shoot and kill her husband. The interviewer, GloZell Green, made the remarks to the president in an "interview" held today at the White House:
"I have three family members who are in the law enforcement, and my husband, who painted that," said the YouTube star pointing to a portrait on the wall, "yes, he's retired from the Air Force."
After the president thanked her husband for his service, the interviewer continued, "However, he's mad at me right now, because I cut all the hoods off his hoodies."
Obama started laughing.
Green continued, "I did, I did that for real to protect him because I'm afraid when he goes outside that somebody might shoot and kill him. And it's not, like, regular folks. It's the po-po. I hope that this changes. How can we bridge between black, African American males and white cops?"
Obama replied by saying most cops are good cops -- and by saying that he's been fighting racial profiling in law enforcement for a long time.
5:36 PM, Jan 22, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama sat down "interviews" with YouTube stars this afternoon. As one of the interviews ended, one of the stars, Hank Green, asked Obama for an autograph:
4:08 PM, Jan 22, 2015 • By JERYL BIER
Late Thursday, the White House released via Twitter President Obama's annual statement commemorating the anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade. As he has in several previous statements, the president cast the decision as critical in "ensuring that our daughters have the same rights, freedoms and opportunities as our sons."
This year, the president also made a point to single out H.R. 7, the bill passed by the House today that would permanently ban federal funding for abortions as "intrusive" and "unnecessarily restrictive" on women's rights.
The full statement is here:
Forty-two years ago today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Roe v. Wade, a decision that protects a woman’s freedom to make her own choices about her body and her health, and reaffirms a fundamental American value: that government should not intrude in our most private and personal family matters.
I am deeply committed to protecting this core constitutional right, and I believe that efforts like H.R. 7, the bill the House considered today, would intrude on women's reproductive freedom and access to health care and unnecessarily restrict the private insurance choices that consumers have today. The federal government should not be injecting itself into decisions best made between women, their families, and their doctors. I am also deeply committed to continuing our work to reduce unintended pregnancies, support maternal and child health, promote adoptions, and minimize the need for abortion.
Today, as we reflect on this critical moment in our history, may we all rededicate ourselves to ensuring that our daughters have the same rights, freedoms, and opportunities as our sons.
On this 42nd anniversary, the annual March for Life is also taking place in Washington.
Help us, Mitt. You’re our only hope.3:01 PM, Jan 22, 2015 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
Having followed Romney around in both 2008 and 2012, I was always convinced that the odds of him running in 2016 were high. For one thing, the man has a decades-long history of running for office, over and over, even after voters reject him. He’s a career politician without a “career” in politics. (He was an active governor of Massachusetts just long enough to build Romneycare, and after that he spent the rest of his term preparing for his first presidential bid.) He has never in his life—not once—shown a willingness to take “no” for an answer from the electorate. Running for office is what he does.
The other thing that struck me was that Romney really wanted to be president. A lot. The reasons for this desire weren’t immediately obvious. He has—clearly—very few deeply-held political convictions. He has—again, clearly—no Big Ideas about ways in which he wants to lead the country. The sense I always got (and this might be incorrect—I’m not his rabbi) was that Mitt Romney wanted to be president because he wanted to be president. And when the impulse to run is yoked to personal ambition and removed from politics, philosophy, or the world of ideas—well, that sort of yearning dies hard. Which is why, in January of 2012, I started saying that if Romney wasn’t elected president, I expected he would try again in 2016.
Another reason I’d become more, rather than less, convinced that Romney 2016 would happen is that the topography of next year’s race has become encouraging for him. He does very well on all of the buyer’s remorse polls showing that people wish he’d been elected president. He’s been proved substantively—and decisively—correct on the foreign-policy portion of that campaign—Russia, Libya, Syria, and all the rest. And if Hillary Clinton winds up as the Democratic nominee, then the most obvious criticism of a Romney 2016 campaign—that it’s time to look forward, not backward—becomes harder for Democrats to make.
If you’re Mitt Romney and you’re studying the 2016 cycle with an eye to possibly running, then you might think the stars are aligning just for you.
In a way, even Jeb Bush’s early declaration probably acted to nudge Romney closer to running. If the Republican field had remained amorphous, Romney might have moved more slowly in making a decision—and with all decision points, the longer you wait, the more you inherently favor the status quo. But Bush jumped, the field suddenly began to gel, and that provided an impetus for Romney to make a decision sooner, rather than later.
On top of all that, as a political commodity Bush was genetically engineered to entice Romney to run. Like Romney, Bush has no obvious political or philosophical raison d’être for running—he’s an answer to a question no one is asking. Like Romney, he’s a creature of the establishment. And unlike any other possible candidate for the Republican nomination, Bush is the one guy who can’t argue that Romney is “the past.” Because Bush is from a political vintage even older than Romney’s.
Again, if you’re Mitt Romney looking at the race, Jeb Bush charts as a more ideologically exposed, less relevant version of yourself. Why wouldn’t you challenge him?
1:03 PM, Jan 22, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
In a press conference with reporters today on Capitol Hill, Harry Reid described what he's been up to since injuring his face and ribs in an exercising accident:
"As some of you know, I'm an avid reader. Read lots and lots of books, even some good ones during the break. So because -- I have not been able to read. They have told me if you have an eye that's healing and you try to overwork your good eye, it puts too much pressure on it. So I haven't been reading. I'm now on rehab so last night for example I was able to read. But I've been listening to audio books--I've quite enjoyed it, to be honest. I never thought I would. So I've finished a couple books that way," Reid said.
"I spend a lot of time with my staff. On the telephone, I have staff meetings at my home, and I've had good -- my daughter's been visiting with me. I've got son coming this weekend. So I'm doing fine."
He's scheduled to undergo eye surgery soon.
12:26 PM, Jan 22, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
Israel prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be in Washington in March to address a joint session of Congress. But President Obama will not be meeting with the leader of America's ally.
The Associated Press reports:
President Barack Obama will not meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he travels to Washington in March.
Spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan says that in keeping with "long-standing practice and principle," the president does not meet with heads of state or candidates in close proximity to their elections. Israel is scheduled to hold elections in mid-March.
Netanyahu will be in Washington in part for a March 3 address to a joint session of Congress. House Speaker John Boehner invited Netanyahu to speak to Congress without consulting the Obama administration.
11:52 AM, Jan 22, 2015 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Hillary Clinton has not been especially aggressive on ideas and policy. On money, however, it is a different story.
As Amie Parnes writes in The Hill:
Major donors are ready to announce huge financial commitments to Hillary Clinton as soon as she announces a second run for the White House, according to Clinton allies and Democratic fundraisers. The Clinton team wants to build excitement about her campaign launch, which is expected in March or April. The money blitz would be a show of Clinton’s strength meant to scare away potential primary rivals.
It will be interesting to see how Clinton squares her fondness for the big donor class with the emerging sense that the 2016 campaign will be heavy on “populist” themes. Since, as Parnes writes, the plan is “to astound, intimidate with fundraising ‘like nothing you’ve seen,’” it will be tough for Ms. Clinton to run against the big money and offer herself as champion of the middle class.
But one suspects she will find a way.
10:54 AM, Jan 22, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
A rare statement released from the Mossad, which is meant to deny reports that say the Israeli intelligence service, Mossad, favors not imposing additional sanctions on Iran:
Reaction of the Mossad Chairman to the new crisis with Washington:
On 19 January 2015, Mossad Chairman Tamir Pardo met with a delegation of American Senators. The meeting took place at the Senators' request, and with the Prime Minister's approval.
Contrary to the report, the Mossad Chairman did not say that he opposes additional sanctions against Iran. In the meeting, the Mossad Chairman emphasized the unusual effectiveness of the sanctions imposed on Iran a number of years ago in bringing Iran to the negotiating table.
The Mossad Chairman pointed out that the negotiations with Iran must be conducted using 'carrots and sticks,' and the 'sticks' are currently missing. The Mossad Chairman pointed out that without strong pressure, it will not be possible to bring about significant compromises on the Iranian side.
The Mossad Chairman did not relate to the use of the term 'hand grenade' with respect to the imposition of sanctions, because in his eyes, these are the 'sticks' that will help to obtain a good agreement. He used this term to describe the possibility of creating a temporary breakdown in the talks, at the end of which the negotiations will be restarted under better conditions.
The Mossad Chairman explicitly pointed out that the agreement that is being reached with Iran is bad, and may lead to a regional arms race.
9:20 AM, Jan 22, 2015 • By REBECCA BURGESS
While many critics skewer President Obama’s recent amnesty-granting executive action, D.C.’s municipal lawmakers have their own plans for the next battle on the immigration-citizenship front. Invoking considerations of fairness and justice against “anti-immigrant hysteria,” D.C. council member David Grosso (I-At-Large) and several fellow councilmembers on Tuesday introduced the Local Resident Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2015, a bill to grant non-American citizens residing in the D.C.-area the ability to vote in municipal elections.
In keeping with similar initiatives in 2013 and 2004, the bill would give suffrage to non-citizen D.C. residents who “have permanent residency status.” Grosso cited U.S. Census Bureau figures from 2012 approximating that over 90 percent of the 53,975 foreign-born, non-naturalized U.S. citizens in the District are 18 years of age or older, to weight down with seriousness his pronouncement that “these are taxpayers who should have the opportunity to have their voices heard in local elections.”
If the bill passes, it would not make D.C. the first to have allowed non-citizens to vote in local elections. Currently, half a dozen towns or jurisdictions in Maryland, including Takoma Park, allow the practice, while Chicago allows all (presumably legal) residents to vote in school board elections. In much the same vein, non-citizens in California now have the right to act as poll monitors, to practice law (even if an illegal alien), and also to serve on juries.
Grosso’s explicit statement that “the time is now to reignite” this movement should catch no one by surprise, however. When the president effectively denied the right of 300,000,000+ American citizens to exercise their choice as to who counts and who doesn’t as part of the body politic—a core component of liberal self-rule—he was diluting not just the entire concept of citizenship, but also the representative principle that helps secures the rights of citizenship.
The New York Times editorial board put it this way in 2004: “The most important privilege that comes with [U.S.] citizenship is the right to vote.” What’s missing from the NYT’s statement is the explanation: As the Supreme Court ruled in Yick Wo v. Hopkins (1866), the political franchise of voting is a “fundamental political right, because” it is “preservative of all rights.”
Voting in American elections is a privilege of American citizenship, because voting is the vehicle of the consent of the governed to the laws and institutions that will order and shape their life. The universal truth “that all men are created equal…and that just government derives its powers from the consent of the governed” that is trumpeted in the Declaration of Independence is particularized for Americans in the American system of constitutional government, which secures these natural rights for the people of the United States.
8:02 AM, Jan 22, 2015 • By JERYL BIER
Secretary of State John Kerry met with EU High Representative Federica Mogherini at the State Department Wednesday and afterwards addressed the press and took some questions. One question from a French reporter concerned problems with Muslim integration in Europe and the potential terrorism ramifications:
Question: [W]e heard recently from President Obama talking about the potential lack of integration of Muslim communities in Europe. He mentioned that as one of the greatest dangers that Europe faces in terms of terror threats that might come. Would you agree with those words from President Obama, and should he have used those? And Mr. Secretary, I’d like to get your opinion on that as well if I can.
Kerry responded by recalling his days as a college student in the 1960s during the civil rights era and the consequent sensitivity of his generation to "this question of minority and rights and integration and so forth." After explaining that although the U.S. has made "unbelievable progress" on race-related matters, "we still have some distance to travel." Eventually, Kerry stressed that "this particular incident of violence [terror attack in Paris] wasn’t a specific targeting that grew out of that [lack of integration]"; however, he said, there is work to do where "one minority or another or another is not able to share fully in the full integration" in the country where they live.
Here is Secretary Kerry's full response to the question:
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, let me just begin quickly on the integration issue. When I was – I entered college in 1962. And in 1963, ’4, ’5, we were deeply embroiled in this country, and we – college students in the Civil Rights Movement. And we were deeply impacted by that and have always been, I think, as a generation, much more sensitive to this question of minority and rights and integration and so forth. We’ve made unbelievable progress in our nation, unbelievable progress in the years since then. But it would be completely disingenuous not to say to you that we still have some distance to travel. We’re not finished. We’re still – you heard the President last night talk about voting rights. So what was won in 1965 still has to be fully embraced and implemented here, and other things that are linked to that. We’ve seen our own struggles in some communities and great debates about race in America in the last year.
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