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Tags: Barack Obama

Remember When Obama Called ISIS ‘Jayvee’?



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James Robbins reminds us that back in January, President Obama referred to ISIS as “jayvee,” as in, “junior varsity.”

In the 2012 campaign, Obama spoke not only of killing Osama bin Laden; he also said that Al Qaeda had been “decimated.” I pointed out that the flag of Al Qaeda is now flying in Falluja, in Iraq, and among various rebel factions in Syria; Al Qaeda has asserted a presence in parts of Africa, too.

“The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,” Obama said, resorting to an uncharacteristically flip analogy.

The group President Obama dismissed as ”jayvee” now “controls a volume of resources and territory unmatched in the history of extremist organizations,” makes $3 million per day selling oil on the black market,  are battling for control of Iraq’s largest dam and the power supply for the city of Mosul, are spreading into Lebanon, are threatening to starve or slaughter “at least 40,000 members of the Yazidi sect,”, is organizing protests in the Netherlands and is stepping up its recruitment of Westerners.

Tags: Barack Obama , ISIS

Ross Douthat and the Week of Obscene Silences



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Last week was one of the more dismaying ones in the history of our republic.  A president suggested that he was ready to take an action that would violate the separation of powers in a major way. In Ross Douthat’s words:

…the president is contemplating — indeed, all but promising — an extraordinary abuse  of office: the granting of temporary legal status, by executive fiat, to up to half the country’s population of illegal immigrants.

It even appeared plausible he was signaling this for the sake of provoking demands for impeachment  that he calculated would aide his party’s fortunes at the next election.

Did the president deny the rumors—likely planted by his minions—that he was considering this patently unconstitutional action?  He did not. 

Did he respond to the speculations of his wanting to provoke impeachment talk by denying them?  He did not. 

Were any reporters able or willing to aggressively ask our president about the origins of these rumors?  About how such an action could be constitutional? No again.

Did he seek to distance himself from claims that the GOP would impeach made by many in his party in fund-raising letters and speeches?  No.  Rather, the sudden adoption of that tact appears to have been coordinated, and we can rightly suspect that such coordination was approved by him.  Rather, he modeled for one and all how to characterize Republican concern and debate about how to combat his unconstitutional expansions of executive power–referring to the lawsuit resolution passed by the House, he delivered this:  stop hatin’ all the time! 

And the response of Americans, particularly those of the political class, to all of this?

Crickets.

Oh, there was talk alright, but among the Democratic leaders it was all along the lines of how to better drive home the hatin’ angle, and among Republican ones it was all along the dishonest-in-spirit, utterly unsustainable, but sure, technically true lines of “WE haven’t said the I-word!” 

A mere word, of eleven little letters that begins with an “I,” and every conservative strategist is shaking in fear of it, and every other Democratic partisan is suddenly brandishing it about like a talisman!  Available at a click are carefully thought-through and exquisitely constructed sentences from our Founders laying out what they intended, both for the separation of powers and for impeachment, but a president of these latter days utters some schoolyard Miley Cyrus phrase, and that’s it, everyone knows and accepts that there’s nothing more to see here. 

Well, thank God that Ross Douthat is not among those.  The man’s had many a great column, but this week he stands particularly tall, for being one of the few willing to warn that a very dangerous line is about to be crossed (although in the strict sense, it is not, as he said, a “Rubicon”-type line of no-return).  It is the line between confining the power to make and repeal legislation to one branch, and allowing it to be shared by two.  If there is anything sacred about our Constitution, then the mere suggestion given by a president that he might erase such a line is tantamount to a high priest uttering blasphemies before the whole congregation. 

Keep reading this post . . .

Tags: Impeachment , abdication of moderates , Ross Douthat , Barack Obama

The Obama Administration’s Sub-Minimum Wage Covert Operators



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From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

The Obama Administration’s Awesome But Incompetent Covert Op in Cuba

Ladies and gentlemen, let’s start out our week with the weirdest story in quite a while:

WASHINGTON (AP) — An Obama administration program secretly dispatched young Latin Americans to Cuba using the cover of health and civic programs to provoke political change, a clandestine operation that put those foreigners in danger even after a U.S. contractor was hauled away to a Cuban jail.

Beginning as early as October 2009, a project overseen by the U.S. Agency for International Development sent Venezuelan, Costa Rican and Peruvian young people to Cuba in hopes of ginning up rebellion. The travelers worked undercover, often posing as tourists, and traveled around the island scouting for people they could turn into political activists.

The Obama administration, doing something to undermine one of the world’s last Communist regimes? Although let’s face it, whatever Cuba claims to be, it’s functionally kleptocratic today. The administration that’s been so risk-averse lately apparently once had a giant appetite for risk:

In one case, the workers formed an HIV-prevention workshop that memos called “the perfect excuse” for the program’s political goals — a gambit that could undermine America’s efforts to improve health globally.

You almost want to give the Obama administration an ‘attaboy’ for the nerve…

But their efforts were fraught with incompetence and risk, an Associated Press investigation found: Cuban authorities questioned who was bankrolling the travelers. The young workers nearly blew their mission to “identify potential social-change actors.” One said he got a paltry, 30-minute seminar on how to evade Cuban intelligence, and there appeared to be no safety net for the inexperienced workers if they were caught.

Incompetence? Relying on young people with vague rallying cries of ‘social change’? No backup plan? Okay, now that sounds more like the Obama administration we’ve come to know.

“Although there is never total certainty, trust that the authorities will not try to harm you physically, only frighten you,” read a memo obtained by the AP. “Remember that the Cuban government prefers to avoid negative media reports abroad, so a beaten foreigner is not convenient for them.”

Hmm. John Kerry was in the Senate when this program was launched, but it sure sounds like him.

In all, nearly a dozen Latin Americans served in the program in Cuba, for pay as low as $5.41 an hour.

[Spittake] For less than minimum wage? See, I’m willing to raise the minimum wage for American covert operators to $10.10 an hour. 

Tags: Barack Obama , Cuba

‘Legal Protections and Work Permits’ For Up to Five Million Illegal Immigrants



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National immigration policy is not supposed to be set by one man:

Obama aides have discussed a range of options that could provide legal protections and work permits to a significant portion of the nation’s more than 11 million undocumented residents, said Democratic lawmakers and immigrant advocates who have met recently with White House officials. Ideas under consideration could include temporary relief for law-abiding undocumented immigrants who are closely related to U.S. citizens or those who have lived in the country a certain number of years — a population that advocates say could reach as high as 5 million.

Aren’t we all glad we elected and re-elected a constitutional law professor who could unilaterally decree he’s decided Congress has no role in setting immigration policy?

Tags: Barack Obama , Illegal Immigration

Painful New Polls for Obama and Obamacare . . .



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Elsewhere in today’s Jolt . . . 

Obama Job Approval Hits . . . 40 Percent in Latest AP Poll

Does anyone else hear a quacking sound coming from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? Take it away, AP:

Asked about world trouble spots:

42 percent say the conflict between Israel and Hamas is “very” or “extremely” important to them; 60 percent disapprove of the way Obama has handled it.

40 percent consider the situation in Afghanistan highly important; 60 percent disapprove of Obama’s handling of it.

38 percent give high importance to the conflict in Ukraine; 57 percent disapprove of what Obama has done about that.

38 percent find the situation in Iraq of pressing importance; 57 percent disapprove of Obama’s handling of it.

Opinion of Obama’s foreign policy has slid nearly as low as his overall approval rating.

Just 43 percent were OK with the president’s handling of foreign relations in the new poll, while 40 percent approved how he’s doing his job overall. AP-GfK polls in March and May show a similar picture.

Talk about burying the lede! Obama’s approval rating hit 40 percent in the AP poll! And in a likely related note . . . 

Remember How Americans Were Going to Warm Up to Obamacare?

Yeah, not so much:

Even after survey after survey has recently shown a major drop in the nation’s uninsured rate, Obamacare just had its worst month in a key health-care poll.

Kaiser Family Foundation, which has done arguably the best and most consistent polling on the health-care law in the past four-plus years, found that public opinion on the law sank to a record low in July. More people than ever (53 percent) last month said they viewed the law unfavorably, an increase of 8 percentage points since June — one of the biggest opinion swings ever.

Was this an unusual sample? Or is reality setting in?

As the foundation notes, more people seemingly made up their minds about the law last month. The rate of those without an opinion on the Affordable Care Act dropped from 16 percent in June to 11 percent in July.

Tags: Barack Obama , Obamacare , Polling

Obama Hits 36 Percent Approval in Ohio, 31 Percent National Approval on Immigration



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From the Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt:

Yes, Even More New Lows for President Obama’s Polling Numbers.

Good morning, Mr. President! Let’s see what Quinnipiac has to say about Ohio . . . 

Ohio voters give President Barack Obama a negative 36 – 59 percent job approval rating today, close to his all-time low score in any of the nine states surveyed by Quinnipiac University

Elsewhere . . . are we sure President Obama wants to implement a unilateral de facto amnesty by executive order?

Immigration has emerged as perhaps President Obama’s worst issue — definitely for today, and maybe of his entire presidency — when it comes to public perception.

A new poll from AP-GfK shows more than two-thirds of Americans (68 percent) disapprove of Obama’s handling of the immigration issue in general. Just 31 percent approve — down from 38 percent two months ago.

When you separate;those most passionate about the issue, the difference is even more stark, with 57 percent opposed and just 18 percent in favor. That’s more than three-to-one.

Tags: Barack Obama , Ohio , Immigration

New CBS and CNN Polls That Should Frighten Democrats



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From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

The Massive New York Times & CBS Poll That Should Frighten Democrats

The New York Times and CBS News tried a massive endeavor to collect a lot more polling data from everywhere in the country. The results — even if they’re iffy, and it’s only late July — should send a chill down the spine of every Democrat:

On Sunday, the research firm YouGov, in partnership with The New York Times and CBS News, released the first wave of results from an online panel of more than 100,000 respondents nationwide, which asked them their preferences in coming elections. The results offer a trove of nonpartisan data and show a broad and competitive playing field heading into the final few months of the campaign.

The Republicans appear to hold a slight advantage in the fight for the Senate and remain in a dominant position in the House. They need to pick up six seats to gain Senate control, and they hold a clear advantage in races in three states: South Dakota, Montana and West Virginia. The data from YouGov, an opinion-research firm that enjoyed success in 2012, finds the G.O.P. with a nominal lead in five additional states.

The five states where the Republicans hold a slight lead in the YouGov panel include three Southern ones — Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina — where Democratic incumbents face tough re-election contests and where Mitt Romney won in 2012. Republicans also have a slight edge in Iowa and Michigan, two open seats in states that usually vote for Democrats in presidential elections.

At the link, they discuss their methodology, the steps they took to ensure their online sample reflected the population of offline voters, etc. If you want to dismiss that, and conclude it’s just an online poll, fine. That’s your choice.

A couple of reasons to find these results plausible:

It’s not all roses and sunshine for Republicans. In Colorado, Cory Gardner, one of the stronger GOP challengers, trails Sen. Mark Udall, 47 percent to 51 percent. In Alaska, Begich leads both challengers listed. In the two GOP-held seats that the party needs to keep, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is up 4 and in Georgia, Purdue is up 6 on Michelle Nunn — neither margin is particularly overwhelming in states that are deep red in presidential elections.

There aren’t a lot of results that look wacky. In four of the Senate races where the GOP candidate leads, the margins are 2 percentage points or less — Thom Tillis in North Carolina, Joni Ernst in Iowa, Bill Cassidy in Louisiana, and Terri Lynn Land in Michigan. Flip those, and Republicans only gain four seats, a sum most on the Right would find disappointing.

If there’s a thumb on the scale, it’s the wrong one. If you think of the New York Times and CBS News as liberal news organizations, these results are an argument against interest.

Now throw in this poll result:

Americans are so down on President Obama at the moment that, if they could do the 2012 election all over again, they’d overwhelmingly back the former Massachusetts governor’s bid. That’s just one finding in a brutal CNN poll, released Sunday, which shows Romney topping Obama in a re-election rematch by a whopping nine-point margin, 53 percent to 44 percent. That’s an even larger spread than CNN found in November, when a survey had Romney winning a redo 49 percent to 45 percent.

Two years ago, Obama won re-election with about 51 percent of the vote.

An electorate that’s disappointed and frustrated with Obama is not going to turn out to vote for Democrats. They’ll either vote for Republicans or stay home.

Tags: Polling , Midterms , Barack Obama

Strange, Obama Never Seems Disengaged from Partisan Politics



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The last Morning Jolt of the week notes worsening developments with Russia, as the president visits fundraisers and a deli in Los Angeles.

This morning Charles Krauthammer tries to explain what’s going on with our president:

The preferred explanation for the president’s detachment is psychological. He’s checked out. Given up. Let down and disappointed by the world, he is in withdrawal.

Perhaps. But I’d propose an alternate theory that gives him more credit: Obama’s passivity stems from an idea. When Obama says Putin has placed himself on the wrong side of history in Ukraine, he actually believes it. He disdains realpolitik because he believes that, in the end, such primitive 19th-century notions as conquest are self-defeating. History sees to their defeat.

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice” is one of Obama’s favorite sayings. Ultimately, injustice and aggression don’t pay. The Soviets saw their 20th-century empire dissolve. More proximally, U.S. gains in Iraq and Afghanistan were, in time, liquidated. Ozymandias lies forever buried and forgotten in desert sands.

That’s probably a piece of the puzzle; Obama, like most of us, gravitates towards a perceived solution that doesn’t require him to do anything difficult. But notice Obama doesn’t rely on “the arc of the moral universe” in the domestic sphere or dealing with his opponents in the United States. He’s not relying on karma, fate, or the law of unintended consequences in his push for a domestic agenda.

Tags: Barack Obama , Russia

Obama Motorcade Joins the War on Women



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President Obama’s motorcade prevented a woman from bearing her child in the safety of a hospital:

Witnesses say a pregnant woman in labor was prevented by authorities from crossing a Los Angeles street to a hospital Wednesday because the road had been closed for President Barack Obama’s impending motorcade.

The unidentified woman was barred from walking the few hundred feet to the hospital for at least 30 minutes as authorities waited for the president’s motorcade to pass by, witness Carrie Clifford told TheBlaze early Thursday morning.

According to the Los Angeles Times, one witness said that “medical staff from the hospital came to help the pregnant woman.”

Fortunately, the delay does not appear to have harmed the woman or her child. But from a political perspective, this sounds like something from The Onion: The president who says he’s trying to give women reproductive freedom stops a pregnant mother from entering a hospital.

In 2012 and 2014, Democrats raised alarms about a ”War on Women” to support their claims that expanded abortion and contraception access, especially on the taxpayer dime, will help woman control their bodies. 

Obama’s pro-abortion allies in New York have been talking about helping women who use Medicaid space out their pregnancies with abortifacients. Apparently, their efforts failed, so the president decided to get personally involved.

On a more serious note, this event shows yet again how ridiculously expensive, ostentatious, and arrogant presidential motorcades are. Several years ago, I saw parts of at least two roads shut down on Capitol Hill — disrupting who knows how much traffic — as a motorcade came screaming by. I found out later that day Vice President Biden was visiting Capitol Hill to lobby Members of Congress to pass legislation that was hitting snags. That’s to be expected in the national capital. But the people of Los Angeles have wisely chosen to live 3,000 miles away from Washington. Why should they have to suffer?  

At least the woman in question appears to have gotten the care she needed. On two occasions members of President George W. Bush’s motorcade died in motorcyle accidents.

Presidents are not to blame for accidents that take place during motorcade travel. But this is a democratic republic of equals, not a kingdom where serfs scatter before our betters. At least, I thought so.

Tags: War On Women , Barack Obama

Even Obama’s Big Donors Are Getting Tired of His Fundraisers



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Inevitable:

President Obama hit the Bay Area for a fast cash-and-grab fundraising drive Wednesday, but there were signs that even in one of the nation’s most reliable Democratic ATMs, donor fatigue is setting in.

That SFGate article notes that Obama has made 18 trips to the Bay Area during his presidency.

There’s even an indication that the president is just going through the motions:

The president’s perfunctory stump speech at the fundraiser — at least the portion witnessed by the press pool, which was ushered out for the question-and-answer session — reprised the same themes he addressed in his last visit to the Bay Area. He made no mention in his public remarks of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in Gaza, the downing of a Malaysian passenger plane over Russian separatist-controlled territory in Ukraine or other current events.

Tags: Barack Obama

Obama on Our Dangerous World: ‘We’re Not Quite Yet Where We Need to Be’



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We will spend a good portion of the next two and a half years wondering about the president’s psychological condition. At yesterday’s DNC fundraiser, he declared,

The world has never been healthier, it has never been wealthier, it has never been more tolerant, there’s never been more opportunity than there is today.

Are you feeling it, America?

This was the president’s assessment of the state of the world today:

THE PRESIDENT: And yet, despite all this, people are anxious. Now, some of that has to do with some big challenges overseas. I am very proud that we have ended one war, and by the end of this year we will have ended both wars that I inherited before I came into office. [Applause.] But whether people see what’s happening in Ukraine, and Russia’s aggression towards its neighbors in the manner in which it’s financing and arming separatists; to what’s happened in Syria — the devastation that Assad has wrought on his own people; to the failure in Iraq for Sunni and Shia and Kurd to compromise — although we’re trying to see if we can put together a government that actually can function; to ongoing terrorist threats; to what’s happening in Israel and Gaza — part of people’s concern is just the sense that around the world the old order isn’t holding and we’re not quite yet to where we need to be in terms of a new order that’s based on a different set of principles, that’s based on a sense of common humanity, that’s based on economies that work for all people.

Also note the president’s declaration:

Sometimes when you’re watching the news — which I generally don’t do because I — [laughter] — whatever they’re reporting on I usually know about — but it can get depressing, right?

This from the president who said he was not aware of the Veterans Affairs scandal, the Department of Justice’s seizing the records of the Associated Press, the IRS scandal, the Fast and Furious scandal, and spying on Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany until he heard about it from media reports . . . 

Tags: Barack Obama

Obama Pledges to Dutch, ‘We Will Not Rest,’ Heads to Fundraisers



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Of course:

Obama’s schedule for the rest of the day:

President Obama’s fundraising swing through the Seattle area Tuesday will include a high-priced dinner event benefiting a Democratic super PAC. The event is at the Hunts Point home of former Costco CEO Jim Sinegal and his wife, Jan, according to a copy of the invitation obtained by The Seattle Times. The price tag for the event is $25,000 per person, with proceeds going to the Senate Majority PAC, a Democratic group that accepts unlimited donations . . . 

The event at Sinegal’s home is in addition to an earlier scheduled fundraiser at the Seattle waterfront home of Bruce and Ann Blume, who were fundraising “bundlers” for Obama’s 2012 campaign. The afternoon event will benefit the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

The man has a busy schedule to keep.

Tags: Barack Obama , DNC , Russia , Dutch

This Administration Thinks It’s Handling Putin Well



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Another piece of evidence to support the theory that this administration thinks it’s doing a terrific job, on every front, all the time:

First, it’s spelled ”moxie.”

Second, Obama and his fans love to blur the lines between acknowledging Putin’s ruthlessness and willingness to act, with little fear of consequence, with some sort of admiration for him. Remember when this crew used to sneer at the Bush administration for its bluster and overconfidence? Remember when they insisted the preceding administration wasn’t part of the “reality-based community”?

Third, even if Putin isn’t looking so swift now — not that the Russian people will ever hear of it — this administration is high-fiving itself over public relations while Vladimir Putin and his allies gain territory, power, and influence. Sure, handing top-of-the-line anti-aircraft missiles to the separatists in Eastern Ukraine makes Putin look wildly reckless to the point of foolishness. But how much does that really matter when Putin still has so many other levers of power? A military that dwarfs Russia’s neighbors, Middle Eastern client states, enormous intelligence agencies, leverage from gas and oil exports, a stranglehold on domestic media and public opinion…

Putin is demonstrating that his allies increasingly control what happens on the ground at the crash site, and that international condemnation means nothing to the separatists. His actions in Crimea indicate that international public opinion doesn’t matter much to him, either.

If there’s no serious consequence to Russia, beyond another series of financial sanctions that Putin’s regime clearly doesn’t sweat, who really doesn’t look so slick?

Does this look like a man who worries about sanctions? 

Tags: Barack Obama , Vladimir Putin , David Axelrod

The Era of Presidential Attention Deficit Disorder



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Today’s Jolt features updates on the crises in Ukraine and the Gaza Strip, a key measuring stick of GOP outreach, and then this nagging feeling stirred by watching the White House in recent months… or years…

Great. Now We’ve Got Presidential Attention Deficit Disorder.

Here’s one big question: Will we still be talking about Ukraine and Israel/Hamas at the end of the week? Or will some other part of the world – or perhaps our own border – blow up then, pushing Ukraine and everything else back to the inside pages?

Remember those kidnapped schoolgirls? Remember how releasing the Taliban Five was an ominous indicator for Afghanistan? Remember ISIS taking over Iraq? Remember the Syrian civil war? Aren’t there still oodles of Central American kids coming over our border?

Does our media lose interest in these crises because the president isn’t interested in them? Or does the president feel like he’s doing fine because the media stops covering them?

Take a look at the president’s schedule for the coming week, as laid out in Mike Allen’s other morning newsletter…

On Monday morning, the President will sign an Executive Order to protect LGBT employees from workplace discrimination. In the afternoon the President will award Ryan M. Pitts, a former active duty Army Staff Sergeant, the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry. On Tuesday, the President will deliver remarks and sign H.R. 803, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, at an event at the White House; the Vice President will also attend.

“Afterward, the President will travel to Seattle, WA to attend a DNC event. Later in the day, the President will travel to San Francisco, CA, where he will remain overnight. On Wednesday, the President will attend a DCCC event in the San Francisco area, and later in the day will travel to the Los Angeles area, where he will remain overnight. On Thursday, the President will visit a community college in Los Angeles to deliver remarks on the importance of job-driven skills training, particularly for fast-growing sectors such as health care. Later, he will attend a DNC event

That’s three days of fundraisers! Two feel-good ceremonies on touchy-feely domestic issues! It’s like Obama has decided he’s governing in the late 1990s.

If you mention an Obama fundraiser, inevitably some snotty lefty will respond, “Sure, because Obama’s the first president to ever attend a campaign fundraiser.” No, but he’s the first one to ever do so many:

In his first term, Obama attended more fundraising events than any other president in recent history. According to author Brendan J. Doherty, from 2008 to 2012 Obama went to 321 events, compared to just 80 for Ronald Reagan.  And, as the chart below shows, he’s done 72 events in his second term – 34 this year alone. So far, he’s ahead of  the pace of George W. Bush, who had been to 30 events at this point in 2006. In his two presidential terms combined, Bush hosted 318 fundraisers. Obama has already smashed that number with 393 events to date.

I wonder if the big theme in the second half of 2014 is going to be increasingly open questions about Obama’s connection to reality, or whether he’s locking himself in an ever-thicker psychological and scheduling cocoon, behaving as if he’s enjoying a fabulously successful presidency and that the world is getting better, more tranquil, and more prosperous on his watch.

Does this song play on an endless loop in the Oval Office?

Newt Gingrich:

From his perch in the amazingly Obama-centric world in which our President lives, look again at what the rest of us think of as serious problems.

Have any of the 1,000-plus Hamas rockets been aimed at Obama? No. That is why Obama is tranquil.

Have any of the thousands who are crossing the border tried to move into the White House? No. That is why Obama is tranquil.

Is ISIS an immediate threat to the United States that is likely to blow up the next golf course the President is playing at? No. That is why Obama is tranquil.

If you can reduce your presidency to a Starbucks visit, a man with a horse-head mask, shooting pool and visiting Joe Biden’s burger joint for lunch, you can have a successful presidency as you have defined it, even if the world is disintegrating.

It’s not just lunatic right-wingers like ourselves noticing this presidential ADD; Canada’s Robert Fulford writes, “Barack Obama, who apparently distrusts American power, personifies this approach. He moves capriciously from subject to subject. One week he’s furious about Syria and announces that Bashar al-Assad has to go. When Assad doesn’t go, Obama loses interest. He seems always to be making a fresh start. When he’s not doing that, he’s “pivoting,” shifting his interest from one continent to another. He seems detached much of the time, then committed, then detached again.”

 

Tags: Barack Obama

Traditionally, Loose Bears Are Not Good News.



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The White House, July 8:

Indeed, the Bear is loose, and that’s the problem.

Tags: Barack Obama , Russia

Some Days, It Feels Like We Don’t Have a President.



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Some days, it feels like we don’t have a president.

Reports indicate 23 Americans just got killed* by someone when their airliner was blown out of the sky — perhaps pro-Russian separatists.

This is the president who didn’t address the country for three days after the attempted bombing of an airliner over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, who gave a “shout-out” to an audience member moments before his first comments on the Fort Hood shooting, and who attended a campaign rally on September 12, 2012, when most Americans awoke to the news of the murder of four Americans in a terror attack in Benghazi, Libya. 

I understand the Obama White House never wants to look like they’re overreacting. They behave as if it’s impossible to underreact.

UPDATE: Around 4:30 p.m. Eastern, Vice President Joe Biden addressed the Netroots Nation political conference. He began by making comments about gay marriage and then awkwardly pivoted to the news out of Ukraine. He said that  there may have been Americans on the plane, and that the government was seeking to confirm that. That seems a bit surprising, since the plane went down five hours ago.

Then he reverted to his usual political remarks.

As of Friday afternoon, the report is that “at least one”, not 23 Americans were killed in the attack on the plane. The magazine of Stephen Glass and Zach Scott Thomas Beauchamp seems to think citing a report from Reuters constitutes dishonesty. 

Tags: Barack Obama

The Obama Administration Will Never Walk Away from Iran



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From the Thursday Morning Jolt:

The Obama Administration Will Never Walk Away from the Negotiating Table with Iran

On Monday, the word was that the West’s negotiations with Iran weren’t going well:

The mood of the talks has gone from optimistic weeks ago, as Iran made concessions on items such as the future of its Arak nuclear reactor, to pessimistic in recent days as it becomes clear a giant gap remains on the crucial question of how much capacity Iran will retain to enrich uranium for what it insists is a peaceful nuclear program.

Yet as the deadline approached, President Obama and his team have decided things are going well enough to extend the deadline . . . 

President Obama said Wednesday that there had been “real progress in several areas” in negotiations with Iran over its disputed nuclear program, and he hinted that he might extend the talks beyond the deadline on Sunday in order to reach a final agreement.

“We have a credible way forward,” Mr. Obama told reporters during a short briefing at the White House, although he said there were some “significant gaps” between the two sides and more work to do before a deal could be struck.

“Over the next few days, we’ll continue consulting with Congress, and our team will continue discussions with Iran and our partners as we determine whether additional time is necessary to extend our negotiations,” Mr. Obama said.

If you’re always willing to extend the deadline, then it’s not really a deadline, now is it? On paper, we’re watching negotiations between two parties with diametrically opposed interests — we want the Iranians to have as little of a nuclear program as possible, they want one as big (and easily switched to military applications) as possible. But in practice, we’ve got two parties with the same interest: the Obama administration wants negotiations to continue, so they can claim their approach is working, and the Iranians want negotiations to continue so that their program keeps advancing and those centrifuges keep spinning. So both sides want the talks to go on indefinitely. At this point, we’re negotiating about the conditions for continuing negotiations.

What would it take for President Obama, John Kerry, and the rest of his administration to conclude, “These guys aren’t serious about a deal, they’re stalling for time, we’re playing into their hands by continuing these negotiations”?

It seems that as long as the Iranians don’t reach across the table and behead the other negotiators, this administration is willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

I’ve gotten spam offers that seem more reliable than the Iranians’ promises.

This is not like negotiating with Don Corleone.

Eli Lake points out one more aspect of the negotiations where time is not on our side:

As U.S. and allied negotiators try to hammer out a nuclear deal with Iran this week in Vienna, they will have less economic leverage on their Iranian counterparts than they had a year ago.

That is the conclusion of a new study from Roubini Global Economics and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, two groups that have analyzed Iran’s economy — and the international sanctions imposed on the country’s banks, oil exports and leading regime figures.

Their report concludes that in the last year as the United States and other Western countries have begun to ease some of the sanctions on Iran as an inducement to negotiate an end to the country’s nuclear weapons program, the Iranian economy has begun to recover.

. . . the economic sanctions that President Obama has credited with forcing Iran to begin these negotiations have appeared to lose their bite, according to the study that is scheduled to be released Monday.

The lies of this administration will hurt all of us, but perhaps none are more damaging than the lies they tell themselves about how well their policies are working.

Tags: Iran , John Kerry , Barack Obama

‘A Restless President, Weary of the Obligations of the White House . . .’



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Also in today’s Jolt:

Rest Easy, Americans; President Obama Is Enjoying His Dinner Parties More

Julie Hirschfeld Davis, covering the White House for the New York Timeslays out how President Obama is spending his evenings:

In a summer when the president is traveling across the country meeting with ordinary Americans under highly choreographed conditions, the Rome dinner shows another side of Mr. Obama. As one of an increasing number of late-night dinners in his second term, it offers a glimpse into a president who prefers intellectuals to politicians, and into the rarefied company Mr. Obama may keep after he leaves the White House.

Sometimes stretching into the small hours of the morning, the dinners reflect a restless president weary of the obligations of the White House and less concerned about the appearance of partying with the rich and celebrated. Freewheeling, with conversation touching on art, architecture and literature, the gatherings are a world away from the stilted meals Mr. Obama had last year with Senate Republican leaders at the Jefferson Hotel in Washington.

In Paris, the president was up again until nearly midnight enjoying, among other things, Drappier Champagne.

“Bonsoir,” Mr. Obama said as he entered the small Restaurant Helen, according to Frédéric Pescatori, an investment manager who was dining next to the president’s party. Mr. Pescatori added that the president “seemed quite relaxed and glad to be with friends, without stress.”

I’m glad he can get away from the stress of the job. (If you’re wondering, Drappier Champagne isn’t particularly expensive.)

A shame he’s so “weary of the obligations of the White House”; a lot of us put a lot of effort trying to free him from those obligations in 2012.

Tags: Barack Obama

‘We’re All Becoming Border States Now.’



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From the Tuesday Morning Jolt:

‘We’re All Becoming Border States Now.’

Hundreds of illegal immigrant children reach . . . Massachusetts?

DARTMOUTH, Mass. Bristol County Sheriff Tom Hodgson said Monday that he’s dealing with a problem in Dartmouth that shouldn’t be his responsibility.

It’s not a new theme for him. He’s sounded the alarm about illegal immigrants before, but now he says it’s getting closer and closer to home.

Illegal immigrants come across the border in the American Southwest. When they are detained, the wave of humanity has overwhelmed local capacity. The illegal immigrants are being sent all over the country, including Massachusetts.

“We’re all becoming border states now. We want to know, what are the trends? What’s happening? What can we expect? We know there are going to be more coming here from Texas. We’ve already got two groups coming off the planes here,” Hodgson said.

It’s not just Bristol County; north of Boston in Essex County:

Lynn is a municipality on the brink. Key department officials say a recent influx of illegal immigrant children and families in the city is stressing almost every service from trash collection to healthcare.

“We have been aware of the unaccompanied children issue for quite a while, and we were able to absorb a lot of these children early on,” said Lynn Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy. “But now it’s gotten to the point where the school system is overwhelmed, our health department is overwhelmed, the city’s budget is being sustainably altered in order of accommodate all of these admissions in the school department.”

Flanagan Kennedy says the first contact for immigrant arrivals in the city is the school system.

The amount of new foreign born student admissions has nearly doubled in the last two years. This school year alone saw more than 600 new admissions. Among those students, 248 were from Guatemala. Flanagan Kennedy says of those 248 children, 126 were illegal, undocumented minors.

And apparently not all of them are actually under 18:

“Some of them have had gray hair and they’re telling you that they’re 17 years old and they have no documentation,” Jamie Cerulli, the Lynn mayor’s chief of staff, tells NRO. “If my children went to the public schools, I’d be very uncomfortable with all of these unaccompanied minors [that] are placed in the ninth grade.”

We have a lawless administration that is ignoring state governments:

Nebraskans are anxious to learn what Gov. Dave Heineman finds out about the approximately 200 children from Central America illegally being housed in the state.

Heineman tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KFAB in Omaha that this issue came as a surprise to him. Heineman says he immediately started making calls and learned that once the children leave the Department of Homeland Security they are handed over to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Heineman says he spoke with a key policy advisor with that department and asked who they were, where they were staying and who is paying their bill. He was told they have no intention of sharing any information with him.

“I can’t believe in America that we have a federal government who is essentially secretly transporting them to Nebraska, they are illegal immigrants, and they won’t tell us who they are,” Heineman tells KFAB.

Look, citizens of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. We thought our president would send this message to you, but apparently he’s too busy with his fundraisers, issuing statements on LeBron James signing with the Cavaliers, golfing with sportswriter Michael Wilbon Saturday, and looking forward to his Martha’s Vineyard vacation.

So somebody has to say this: You have to take care of your own kids. You may have heard us complaining that our federal government is becoming a nanny state, but we didn’t mean that our government is actually running a nanny service.

We understand that gang violence, drug cartels, and other criminals are making your countries terrible places to live. We’re really sorry to hear that. We’ve also given your government quite a bit of money to make life better down there. Honduras, we gave you $83 million in foreign aid in 2013. El Salvador, $46.8 million. Guatemala, $106 million. If the money wasn’t spent well, take it up with your government. Some of you might say that’s not enough, but we’re not obligated to give you anything. There are a hell of a lot of Americans who think that money could be better spent back here.

You have to fight to make your country a better place to live so that your fellow countrymen will want to stay there. We can’t fight your battles for you. In fact, this is a particularly bad time to ask. You may have heard, twice in the past 13 years we went into far-off countries with unstable governments and warlords and drugs, determined to give the oppressed locals a better future, we spent way too much in blood and treasure, the populace turned out to be a bunch of ingrates, and the local leadership ran the place into the ground.

Alternately, we can try the Semisonic “Closing Time” approach: You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here. There are 202,000 square miles in Central America.

Tags: Immigration , Illegal Immigration , Barack Obama

‘How Do You Defend Inaction in the Face of a Crisis?’ You Don’t, Sir.



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Also in today’s Jolt . . . 

Congressional Democrat Assesses Obama on Border Crisis: ‘How Do You Defend Inaction in the Face of a Crisis?’

Oh, good. The Democratic party is suddenly awakening to the fact that just maybe Americans aren’t comfortable with an unsecure border and mass illegal immigration.

Until now, the politics of immigration have been seen as a no-lose proposition for President Obama and the Democrats. If they could get a comprehensive overhaul passed, they would win. And if Republicans blocked it, the GOP would further alienate crucial Hispanic and moderate voters.

But with the current crisis on the Southwest border, where authorities have apprehended tens of thousands of unaccompanied Central American children since October, that calculus may be shifting.

The president’s own party is deeply divided over what must be done now — particularly on the sensitive question of deporting children who have traveled thousands of miles and turned themselves in to U.S. authorities to escape from the desperate situations they faced in countries such as Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

The emergency has also renewed questions about the administration’s competence, reminiscent of those raised during the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, last year’s botched rollout of the health-care law and more recent revelations of mismanagement that jeopardized care of patients at veterans hospitals.

I believe the technical term used by political scientists that best expresses the moment of revelation within this phenomenon is “DUH!”

Elsewhere in that article, we see congressional Democrats tearing into the president in a way that would have been unthinkable in his first term. Welcome to the life of a lame duck, Mr. President.

“The numbers have spiked recently, but this is not a new development,” said Rep. Ron Barber (D-Ariz.). “It seems to me that the administration just wasn’t paying close attention and could have acted sooner.”

But Rep. Pete Gallego, a Texas Democrat whose district includes more than 40 percent of the U.S.-Mexico border, said he was less concerned about Obama skipping a Rio Grande Valley photo opportunity than he is about a lack of engagement in Washington.

“Rather than going to the border, I’d rather he invite some people over and start a conversation about how we are going forward,” Gallego said in an interview. “How do you defend inaction in the face of crisis? How is that defensible for anybody?”

Oh, and NBC’s Ron Allen checked in with an immigration court to see how it’s handling children who cross the border. The results will not surprise you:

Based on a day spent observing an immigration court in New York City, most of them can breathe a little easier: No one appears to be ordered out of the country any time soon . . . 

On this morning, most appearances lasted only a matter of minutes. After some brief judicial banter, and official business, Schoppert instructed just about every defendant to try to find a lawyer, and report back to court in February. He essentially put the “removal process,” on hold, and allowed these young migrants to get on with their new lives in America.

Diego’s attorney Merrill Clark was optimistic about his future. “He’s going to be legalized,” Clark insisted. “I haven’t lost a case like this one yet.”

If you can enter the country illegally and stay as long as you like without consequence, we don’t have an immigration system.

Tags: Immigration , Illegal Immigration , Barack Obama , Congressional Democrats

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