Tags: Joe Biden

Obama: ‘Our Future Rests’ On The Success Of DREAM Kids


President Obama reminded Democratic donors that “our future rests” on the success of people brought to the United States illegally as children, who would qualify for citizenship if Congress had passed the DREAM Act.

“About 30 to 40 percent of the kids in this school, by the way, are DREAM kids,” Obama said Wednesday evening. “You wouldn’t know it looking at them, because they are as American as apple pie.  But every single one of these kids, you might not be able to tell the difference, but a whole bunch of them — they’re worried about whether or not they’re going to be able to finance their college education of their immigrant status.  They’re worried about whether, in fact, this country that they love so deeply loves them back and understands that our future rests on their success.  Why wouldn’t we want to give them that certainty that you are part of the fabric of this nation, we’re counting on you, and we’re going to make sure you succeed?  Why wouldn’t we want to do that?”

Obama made the comments at a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fundraiser in Massachusetts, in reference to students at Worcester Tech. “So these young people are graduating, ready to go to college, but also certified nurses, EMT folks.  Many of them are choosing to join the military and will contribute to our country in this way,” he said.  “And looking out as I was speaking to them and then shaking their hands, and giving them hugs and high-fives and all the things that kids do on a graduation, I thought to myself: How could we not want to invest in these kids?”

Vice President Joe Biden also said Wednesday that increasing immigration would boost the economy, though he extended the argument beyond the DREAM Act kids.

“We need it badly from a purely — purely economic point of view,” Biden said Tuesday, per The Hill. It’s an argument that corporations tend to support, but the White House push comes as Congress is still coming to terms with the shock of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) losing his primary to Dave Brat, a political novice supported by local Tea Party activists who faulted Cantor for being out of touch with the district.

Cantor’s support for DREAM Act-style legislation, which he announced a few months after the 2012 election, inspired conservative radio host Laura Ingraham to rally grassroots voters against him.

“Now, Ingraham is setting her sights on 2016: In particular, she wants to ensure that the Republican nominee is not cut from Cantor’s cloth,” National Review Online’s Eliana Johnson reported. “Brat’s victory, she says, is a step in the right direction: ‘Everybody that’s hoping and praying for a Jeb Bush run, they should spend a lot of time focusing on what just happened in Virginia.’”

Obama’s team is pushing back against the idea that immigration sank Cantor. “Cantor’s problem wasn’t his position on immigration reform, it was his lack of a position,” Obama advisor Dan Pfeiffer tweeted on election night, citing the success of Senator Lindsay Graham (R., S.C.).  “Graham wrote and passed a bill and is winning big.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Eric Cantor , Joe Biden , Illegal Immigration , Immigration

Joe Biden, in His Element


I don’t know if we’ve ever seen Vice President Joe Biden more awestruck:

Vice President Joe Biden sits at the controls of one of Amtrak’s new “Cities Sprinter” electric locomotives at the 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, Pa., Feb. 6, 2014. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

No, really, according to the Philadelphia newspapers, they couldn’t get Biden to stop playing with the train controls:

Scheduled for 1 p.m., the event began at 12:59, with brief opening palaver from a Big Shot from Amtrak (the customer) and a Big Shot from Siemens (the manufacturer), which should have paved the entrance of the Veep. But when he was introduced — no Biden. Awkward silence. Big-band music started up again. What guests and press didn’t know was that the Senator from Amtrak was getting his hands on the shiny, new locomotive from the engineer’s seat. It was like giving a kid a puppy. They couldn’t get him to stop playing with it.

Tags: Joe Biden

The Soft Underbelly of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Bid


You are likely to see a lot of stories like this one in the coming years, alleging previously unreported reckless sexual behavior on the part of Bill Clinton while he was in the White House. Some rivals of Hillary Clinton will see this as a liability for her increasingly likely presidential campaign. More than a few people will recall how public sympathy for her exploded during the Lewinsky scandal, and contend these sorts of allegations actually help her; she’s soldiering on during great hardship, etc.

The years of 2015 and 2016 will feature a dramatically different political and economic environment than the late 1990s. In 1998, the country was at illusory peace (the threat of al-Qaeda was building, lurking, and beginning to strike at Americans overseas) and enjoying great prosperity, fueled largely by the dot-com bubble. A White House marriage marked by relentless, crass, and often risky philandering may seem like small potatoes in a time of economic stagnation and global instability . . . or it may seem like one more problem the country doesn’t need right now.

By themselves, tales of Bill Clinton’s affairs, past or present, won’t derail a Hillary Clinton presidential bid. But they may be a bit more baggage for a candidate who has already managed to lose a presidential race she was heavily favored to win.

Presuming he runs, Vice President Joe Biden may prove a bit more of an impediment than the early polling indicates. A Biden 2016 campaign will have a simple message, “Keep it going,” and he will pitch himself as Obama’s third term. Obama fans in the Democratic primary may buy that pitch or they may not, but it will be pretty difficult for any other Democrat to criticize Biden without implicitly criticizing the president.

No matter what the state of the country is in 2016, criticism of Obama in the Democratic primary will be rare. Think back to 2008, and how George W. Bush was rarely directly criticized by the GOP field that year. Once Obama took office, a lot of long-repressed frustration about runaway spending, coziness with Wall Street, and military interventions bubbled up from the GOP grassroots. But partisans find it extremely difficult to criticize “their guy” in the Oval Office, and they don’t want to hear it on the campaign trial.

You may see some subtle criticism of Obama and his policies, but Hillary won’t be able to make it. A governor like Martin O’Malley or Brian Schweitzer may be able to argue it’s time for a new face in Washington, or it’s time for a new generation of Democrats to step up. In 2016, Hillary will turn 68; she won’t be able to easily play the age card against then-73-year-old Biden.

Hillary’s not close enough to Obama to run on his record, but she’s not enough of an outsider to run against Washington. (Remember her foolish friends think she can be sold to the electorate as the Pope Francis of American government.)

Andrew Sullivan, of all people, points out the elephant in the room:

More importantly for me is the inability of her supporters to answer a simple question. I was having dinner with a real Clinton fan the other night, and I actually stumped him (and he’s not easily stumped). What have been Hillary Clinton’s major, signature accomplishments in her long career in public life? What did she achieve in her eight years as First Lady exactly? What stamp did she put on national policy in her time as Senator from New York? What were her defining and singular achievements as secretary-of-state?

Ben Smith’s article in BuzzFeed quotes “a former top Obama aide, who said she would like to see a woman elected but worried that Clinton doesn’t have a compelling rationale for her candidacy.”

The Democratic party of the late Obama years is the party of Elizabeth Warren, who described herself as the “intellectual godmother of Occupy Wall Street,” and the class warfare of New York City mayor Bill de Blasio. By contrast, Hillary Clinton has always been very comfortable with Wall Street, telling Goldman Sachs executives in a paid speech last year that she found banker-bashing foolish. Some liberal blogs call the Clinton Foundation a factory for favor-trading and transactional politics with big corporations. It’s surprising that more Democrats with presidential ambitions aren’t licking their lips in anticipation.

The playbook to beat Hillary was executed by Obama in 2008. A lot of those same criticisms — “manufactured, untrustworthy, and a creature of forgotten Baby Boom quarrels” — are still in play for 2016.

In this Getty photograph from earlier this week, the choice of a new generation of Democrats.

UPDATE: Notice what CNN’s Peter Hamby found in Iowa:

A common theme emerged in conversations about Clinton with more than two dozen Democratic activists, strategists and elected officials during a recent winter week in Iowa: Respect for her within the party runs deep, burnished since 2008 by her tour of duty at the State Department, but widespread passion for Clinton remains wanting.

Can you win a Democratic presidential primary with just “deep respect”? Or is some passion, enthusiasm and inspiration necessary?

Tags: Hillary Clinton , Joe Biden , Bill Clinton , Martin O'Malley , Brian Schweitzer

Notes on Our Upcoming Odd, Brief, Announced War


From the midweek edition of the Morning Jolt:

Notes on Our Upcoming War With Syria

1. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to the BBC:

The secretary also said that he thought it was “pretty clear that chemical weapons were used against people in Syria,” and he believes that “the intelligence will conclude that it wasn’t the rebels who used it, and there’ll probably be pretty good intelligence to show that the Syria [sic] government was responsible.”

Ahem. “Probably”?

Don’t get me wrong, I think Assad’s regime is the one who used the chemical weapons, too. But I’m just some schmo, not the Secretary of Defense.

Say, United Nations, you’ve got inspectors on the ground. What can you tell us?

The U.N.’s special envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi says evidence suggests that some kind of chemical “substance” was used in an attack that killed hundreds of people, but said any military strike on Syria must have U.N. Security Council approval.

The United Nations: always so helpful!

2. Back in late July, General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, laid out in unclassified fashion the U.S. military’s options for Syria in a letter to Congress. In that letter:

Conduct Limited Stand-off Strikes. This option uses lethal force to strike targets that enable the regime to conduct military operations, proliferate advanced weapons, and defend itself. Potential targets include high-value regime air defense, air, ground, missile, and naval forces as well as the supporting military facilities and command nodes. Stand-off air and missile systems could be used to strike hundreds of targets at a tempo of our choosing. Force requirements would include hundreds of aircraft, ships, submarines, and other enablers. Depending on duration, the costs would be in the billions. Over time, the impact would be the significant degradation of regime capabilities and an increase in regime desertions. There is a risk that the regime could withstand limited strikes by dispersing its assets. Retaliatory attacks are also possible, and there is a probability for collateral damage impacting civilians and foreigners inside the country.

Presuming we launch attacks in the coming days (the media helpfully points out Thursday is the day we’re likely to begin) . . . whatever happened to needing “hundreds of aircraft, ships, submarines” and so on?

The only person who’s noticed this, as far as I can tell, is NR’s Bing West:

He has asserted that hundreds of ships were needed to strike Syria. Whether he was acting on his own or as the White House messenger in relaying an extreme statement to justify inaction, he has lost face in the region and among the other members of the Joint Chiefs.

Did Dempsey think this would be a bad idea, and exaggerate the number of resources needed in order to discourage Congressional support for strikes in Syria?

3. Eliot Abrams, on NRO this morning:

Two things have been notable about the Syrian civil war. First, real American security interests are at stake in Syria and have been from the start. Iran and the terrorist group Hezbollah, which together have an enormous amount of American blood on their hands, have sent troops to Syria to win a war there. Russia has provided a constant flow of arms to the regime. They all consider their control of Syria important, and they are right: If they lose the control they have through Bashar Assad, their position in the entire Middle East is badly weakened — and ours is strengthened. This is a proxy war, with them on one side, and American allies — Jordan, Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE — on the other. It is in the interest of the United States to win this fight, and we should want Iran, Hezbollah, and Russia to lose.

4. Stuart Varney, business correspondent for Fox News Channel and possessor of one of the most distinguished-sounding accents in the news business, thinks that gas prices will jump 20 cents per gallon as soon as military action begins.

5. John Ekdahl Jr., over at Ace of Spades, turns the wayback machine to 2007:

Presidential hopeful Delaware Sen. Joe Biden stated unequivocally that he will move to impeach President Bush if he bombs Iran without first gaining congressional approval.

“The president has no authority to unilaterally attack Iran, and if he does, as Foreign Relations Committee chairman, I will move to impeach,” said Biden, whose words were followed by a raucous applause from the local audience.

Biden said he is in the process of meeting with constitutional law experts to prepare a legal memorandum saying as much and intends to send it to the president.

I wonder how long it took before someone told him the impeachment process begins in the House of Representatives.

Note that if we bomb Syria in the near future — heck, bombs may be falling by the time you read this — this will be the second time President Obama initiated significant military action without a vote in Congress, the first time being Libya.

I suppose there’s a big question about how you define “significant military action,” President Obama sent troops to Uganda and South Sudan in October 2011, Chad in December 2012; the Turkish-Syrian border in January 2013, Niger in February 2013, Jordan in April 2013, Egypt in June 2013, and so on.

But not Benghazi on the night of September 11.

Tags: Syria , Barack Obama , Joe Biden , Martin Dempsey

Biden Phone Calls Spur Republican to Run for Colorado AG


Safe to say gun control will be a big issue in Colorado’s elections in 2014:

Sounding more like he was running for governor, House Minority Leader Mark Waller announced his bid Monday to succeed John Suthers as attorney general.

In his announcement made at the University of Denver School of Law, the Colorado Springs Republican talked about the state’s unemployment rate, federal mandates and the Legislature’s approval of controversial gun measures as part of his reasons for seeking the office.

Waller criticized Democratic legislators for accepting telephone calls while on the House floor from Vice President Joe Biden, who was encouraging them to approve two gun measures that went into effect Monday.

At the time, lawmakers were discussing bills to require background checks on all gun purchases and limit the size of gun magazines.

“It was incredibly disappointing in the Legislature this year to see East Coast politicians drive our agenda,” Waller said.

Waller will face Cynthia Coffman, chief deputy attorney general, in a primary; the winner “will face Democrat Don Quick, who was the Adams County district attorney until term limits prevented him from running again last year.”

Coffman, too, will be running against the state’s newly passed gun-control measures:

In the wake of tragic shootings in Newton [sic], Connecticut and Aurora, Colorado, the General Assembly reacted by passing a trio of bills this session impacting gun purchasers and owners. If I’d had the opportunity as a member of the legislature, I would have voted against all three bills. It is admirable to want to stop future tragedies. However, this package of legislation does nothing to address the causes of such horrifying mass shootings. Simple answers elude us when we fail to recognize the complexity of the questions we should be asking. Law-abiding Coloradans have the right to possess guns for protection of their families as well for hunting and sport. I will do my part as Attorney General to preserve those rights.

Tags: Mark Waller , Joe Biden , Cynthia Coffman

Comparing Obama’s 5 Percent Sequester Sacrifice to Pelosi’s . . .


We may scoff that Obama writing a check to the U.S. Treasury for $1,666 a month is a meaningless gesture designed to fool those who can’t do math that he’s making a significant sacrifice in the Age of the Sequester . . . but I suppose there are more objectionable approaches for a lawmaker to take:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that she opposes a cut in congressional pay because it would diminish the dignity of lawmakers’ jobs.

“I don’t think we should do it; I think we should respect the work we do,” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol. “I think it’s necessary for us to have the dignity of the job that we have rewarded.”

The comments were made in the context of the looming sequester, which would force across-the-board cuts affecting most federal offices, including Congress.

As House minority leader, Pelosi is slated to make $193,400 this year; most members of Congress make $174,000.

Pelosi’s net worth is estimated to be $26.4 million, which reflects her husband’s real-estate investments.

Also unmentioned in the coverage: will Vice President Joe Biden be writing a check for 5 percent of his salary as well?

Above, Nancy Pelosi at a May 2012 ceremony where Middle Drive East in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park was renamed “Nancy Pelosi Drive.” Naturally, the road heads south and bends to the left.

Tags: Barack Obama , Joe Biden , Nancy Pelosi

Joe Biden’s Pricey Hotel Stay in London


When the president or vice president travels, each one travels with a lot of support staff and security staff. Traveling to foreign countries and meeting with foreign leaders is part of the job for these offices, so fiscal conservatives can’t label the trips as waste.

But necessary as the trips may be, they cost a pretty penny. If you’ve ever wondered just how much a standard presidential or vice-presidential visit costs, a recent contract disclosure sheds some light. Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to London in February required 136 rooms and 893 room nights (meaning some or most of the 136 rooms were booked for several nights).

The hotel was the Hyatt Regency London the Churchill.

The U.S. State Department does not have the time to shop around for the best hotel that can meet the security needs of a vice-presidential visit:

Security concerns prohibit sufficient advanced notification of VIP travel to allow for sufficient time to conduct full and open competition. . . . They have an extremely short turnaround time when authorization has been granted for negotiations to commence and site selections to be finalized with both the local vendors and Posts before the actual Presidential visit occurs.

Total cost of the hotel rooms for Biden’s London stay: $459,338.65. Mind you, that’s just the cost of the hotel rooms for the president, his advance staff, security personnel, etc., not transportation or any other costs.

Biden was in London for one night.

This was, of course, before the sequester took effect.

Tags: Joe Biden

Vice President Biden’s Most Crass, Tasteless Gaffe Ever


“Did your son always have balls the size of cue balls?” — Vice President Joe Biden to Charles Woods, grieving father of slain Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods, during a memorial service at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.

Any comment here would be superfluous.

Tags: Joe Biden , Libya

Who’s Laughing Now, Mr. Vice President?


This is certain to be a busy week, and the week’s first Morning Jolt notices a poll result down in Florida…

Show Joe Biden This Poll Result, and He Might Just Stop Laughing

A reader sent me this poll result and asked, “who gets the last laugh?”

Proper caveats: The sample is only of the Tampa area, and only 13 percent of this sample of debate watchers changed their mind, which amounts to about 92 people.

1,000 Tampa area adults were interviewed by SurveyUSA about last night’s Vice Presidential debate. Of the adults, 704 watched the debate. Results of debate watchers:

* 38% say Joe Biden clearly won the debate.

* 42% say Paul Ryan clearly won the debate.

* 20% say there was no clear winner.

* 13% say they changed which candidate for President they support as a result of the debate.

Of those who tell SurveyUSA they changed their mind:

* 44% switched from the Obama ticket to the Romney ticket.

* 29% switched from undecided to the Romney ticket.

* A total of 73% switched to the Romney ticket.

* 18% switched from the Romney ticket to the Obama ticket.

* 6% switched from undecided to the Obama ticket.

* A total of 24% switched to the Obama ticket.

* 49% say Biden is ready to be President, if needed.

* 51% say Ryan is ready to be President, if needed.

Still, in any amount, if three folks shifted to Romney for every one who shifted to Obama, this is good news for Republicans (and suggests that the gut reaction that Biden came across as an insufferably snide blowhard isn’t just our partisan instincts).

As Ed Morrissey notices, “13% is around the level of undecided/soft voters nationally.”

Keep in mind the audience for the vice-presidential debate was significantly lower than the Romney-Obama debate: “Final Nielsen ratings data on Friday showed that the vice presidential match-up on issues ranging from the economy to foreign policy and abortion, was seen by 51.4 million Americans across 12 cable and broadcast networks.The October 3 debate between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney drew a TV audience of 67.2 million, putting it among the 10 most-watched debates of the past 30 years.”

Still, at the thought that Joe Biden’s constant cackling cost his ticket votes, I’m just left with this image of a recurring, recorded laugh, after we’ve witnessed an outlandish personality, once on top of the world, plummet to defeat . . .

Tags: Barack Obama , Joe Biden , Mitt Romney , Paul Ryan , Polling

Biden: If Only Our Diplomats Had Asked for More Security!


Besides the laughing, grinning, interrupting, and so on, this may be one of the more consequential Biden statements of the night:

“Well, we weren’t told they wanted more security there. We did not know they wanted more security again.”

That remark is remarkably incongruous with everything we know about communications from diplomatic staff in Libya, as well as this report from CBS News this morning:

The regional security office for the U.S. Embassy in Libya compiled a running list of 230 security incidents through July 2012 in a memo that ultimately concluded that “the risk of U.S. Mission personnel, private U.S. citizens, or businesspersons encountering an isolating event as a result of militia or political violence is HIGH.”

The document, obtained by CBS News, is the latest piece of evidence suggesting security in the country was tenuous ahead of the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi that left Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans dead.

Since the attack, there have been increasing questions about whether the State Department did enough to safeguard its diplomatic personnel in Libya, with some security officers for the mission claiming that repeated requests for additional security were ignored by officials in Washington.

In an email to congressional investigators dated Oct. 1, Regional Security Officer Eric Nordstrom said he sent similar lists of security incidents to superiors as a “significant part of (diplomatic post’s) and my argument for maintaining” Diplomatic Security and Defense Department assets in Libya through October because the Libyan government “was overwhelmed and could not guarantee our protection.”

Tags: Joe Biden , Libya

Vice President Loses Debate, Marbles


The final Morning Jolt of the week, which leads off with my reaction to last night’s debate:

Joe Biden’s Debate Slogan: Why So Serious?

It was a weird debate, in that one candidate’s personality so totally dominated the proceedings, that your reaction to the debate will be decided almost entirely by what you think of Joe Biden when unplugged.

It will not surprise you that I am not really a fan of Joe Biden, and in fact periodically have a hard time getting my head around the fact that he is a heartbeat away from being entrusted with the launch codes for the United States nuclear arsenal.

So it’s kind of hard to grade the debate by the traditional methods.

Q: Which candidate do you think won the debate?

Jim: Am I the only person in Washington who fears that the vice president is mentally unstable, and/or on some sort of intense, mood-altering medication?

Thursday night’s debate did nothing to dissuade me of the notion that Barack Obama rise to the presidency is exponentially less surprising and unexpected than the fact that Joe Biden is our vice president. I am less concerned about the lack of a broad bipartisan consensus that Biden lost the debate than the lack of a broad bipartisan consensus that Biden lost his marbles.

Undoubtedly, one of the big story lines will be “The Democrats are charged up again!” Of course, if this were gymnastics, we would have to assign a low degree of difficulty to that goal. If you’re a national politician with a pulse, stirring up your base is one of the basic tasks you’re expected to be able to achieve on a regular basis. It’s like tackling for a linebacker.

The vice president appeared to prepare for this debate by inhaling nitrous oxide and sticking a fork in an electrical socket.

Four years ago, Biden was on a short leash, determined to not lose any women voters by coming across as smug or dismissive of Sarah Palin. But years of watching the Delaware senator reveal that when fully unleashed, Biden is loud, condescending, obnoxious, full of himself, not nearly as well-informed as he thinks he is, and sometimes weird to the point of creepy. Clearly, Biden believes that when his opponent says something he disagrees with, the right thing to do is smile or maybe laugh. He thinks this is disarming; instead he comes across like the Joker. The RNC quickly arranged a nice montage here.

So, no matter the topic — the deaths of U.S. diplomatic personnel in Benghazi, the Iranian nuclear program, the continuing economic hard times for millions of Americans, the slaughter of civilians in Syria — Cheery Joe responded to Paul Ryan’s points with a grin that Willem Dafoe would find unnerving and chilling. Perhaps it was a bold but failed strategy to try to get Ryan to suddenly exclaim, “What the hell is wrong with you, man?”

Tags: Joe Biden , Paul Ryan

Harmer: Replace Your Debate Drinking Game With a Donating Game


David Harmer, who ran the closest race of any California Republican House candidate in 2010, sends along this message of his particular disdain for Vice President Biden, and his challenge to Romney donors.

I don’t mind stupid people. It’s stupid people who think they’re smart that aggravate me — which goes a long way toward explaining my profound and enduring antipathy to Vice President Joe Biden, the most vapid gasbag ever to hold the office.

Back when I was young and frisky and counsel to a subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I routinely had to sit just a few feet behind and over from that insufferable blowhard. His chairmanship of Senate Judiciary was notable for two, and only two, things: his world-class logorrhea, and his serial character assassination of honorable men and women whose nominations he torpedoed for the crime of holding conservative convictions and taking the Constitution seriously. For someone with an intellect as shallow as Biden’s (76th out of 85 in his class at a law school that U.S. News ranks as 96th out of 200) — and who was a mendacious plagiarist to boot (see, e.g., Why Biden’s plagiarism shouldn’t be forgotten) — to question the qualifications and character of jurists like Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas required a veritable Everest of chutzpah.

In 2008, the mainstream media widely regarded Biden as adding “gravitas” to the Democratic ticket. Whether that says more about the shallowness of Barack Obama or the shallowness of his acolytes in the press is hard to say. Either way, I’m anticipating tonight’s debate with unseemly eagerness, indeed relish. Unlike Biden, Paul Ryan is a gentleman, so Slow Joe won’t get a taste of his own medicine. But next to the earnest, informed, disciplined, and precise Ryan, Biden can’t possibly go 90 minutes without exposing himself as a five-star buffoon.

Last week the American people restored my waning faith in their good sense by declaring Mitt Romney the victor in his debate by a three-to-one margin. Tonight’s contest should be even more lopsided.

No doubt conservatives across the country will augment the debate’s entertainment value with drinking contests. As a teetotaling Mormon, I can’t join that kind of fun — but I’m hereby challenging you to a more productive variant. Every time Biden says any of the following words or phrases . . . instead of taking a shot, donate $5 to the Romney-Ryan campaign!


Come on, man

Millionaires and billionaires

Bin Laden’s dead and GM’s alive

Keep a running tally, then contribute here. When you do, please click the box that says, “I know my referrer’s information” (between Payment Information and Employment Information). That lets the campaign credit your contribution toward the amount I’ve committed to help raise ($311,187 so far, shooting for $500k).

Thank you, and happy viewing!

Harmer may call Biden stupid, but I’ll bet that Biden would disarm him with his trademarked declaration of humility, “I’ll bet that I have a much higher I.Q. than you.”

Tags: Barack Obama , David Harmer , Joe Biden , Mitt Romney , Paul Ryan

Middle Cheese: Internals Show Latinos in Florida, Colorado Shifting to Romney


My source Middle Cheese checks in, with the latest he’s hearing from the Big Cheeses over at the Romney campaign:

Abortion: The liberal media is hoping Mitt’s comment to the Des Moines Register that the pro-life legislation isn’t “part of my agenda” will cause an uproar in the pro-life community. Believe me, it won’t because we pro-lifers (I am a card-carrying member of the National Right to Life) know that Romney was referring to his legislative agenda for jobs and the economy in the first 100 days. And as Romney said himself, one of his first acts as president will be to issue an Executive Order reinstating Reagan’s “Mexico City Policy” banning U.S. funding of international family planning groups that provide abortion services. Romney will also repeal Obamacare, which mandates coverage of contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs by religious organizations. Sorry liberals, but the pro-life community remains energized for Romney.

Hispanics: Mitt’s strong debate performance is having the same positive impact on Hispanic voters that it has had with the general electorate. My sources on Team Romney say their post-debate internal polling shows improvement for Romney among Hispanics nationally, and growing support in Florida and Colorado. In Florida, Mitt is moving up and Obama is polling below what he got in 2008 among Hispanics (57 percent).

Benghazi: Look for Team Romney to turn up the heat on Obama for his actions (or lack thereof) to secure our consulate in Libya prior to the 9/11 murders of our Ambassador and three Americans, and his Administration’s conflicting and confusing explanations of what happened in the aftermath of what we now know was a terrorist attack.

VP debate: I won’t play the expectations game, but the fact is that Joe Biden has done 18 Presidential or Vice Presidential debates and Paul Ryan has done zero. Unlike Obama, Joe Biden is going to throw the kitchen sink at the Romney-Ryan ticket — “Big Bird,” “47 percent,” “tax returns,” “$5 trillion tax cut,” and of course “voucherizing Medicare.” Expect Ryan to counter Biden’s negative attacks with the facts, but then to quickly return to overarching theme of the “big choice” in this election and how a Romney-Ryan Administration would solve the big problems.

Tags: Abortion , Joe Biden , Middle Cheese , Paul Ryan , Polling

A Likely List of Thursday’s Debate Topics


For much of today, there has been some grumbling on the right about Martha Raddatz, the ABC News senior correspondent who is moderating the vice-presidential debate. In 1991, Barack Obama attended her wedding. This is rather weak tea as far as evidence of bias; she has since divorced and remarried. (Wonder what Obama got her as a gift . . . a cassette tape of his speeches?) If anything, this story coming up might make her a little more determined to appear to be playing it down the middle.

But take a look at her recent work, and we may have a good sense of the likely topics:

Martha Raddatz was named Senior Foreign Affairs correspondent for ABC News in November 2008, after serving as White House correspondent during the last term of President George W. Bush’s administration. In addition to covering the day-to-day foreign and domestic stories from the White House, Raddatz has traveled from Haiti to Yemen to the Mideast and through south Asia.

Raddatz has traveled to Pakistan and Afghanistan dozens of times, and to Iraq 21 times to cover the ongoing conflict. She was on the last convoy out of Iraq and is the only television reporter allowed to cover a combat mission over Afghanistan in an F15 fighter jet, spending nearly 10 hours in the air on two separate missions. In the early hours of June 8, 2006, she was the first correspondent to report that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, had been killed in a U.S. air strike north of Baghdad. In 2011 she reported exclusive details on the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden. That same year she had an exclusive interview on the USS Kearsage off the coast of Libya with the Marines who helped rescue two American pilots who had gone down in Libya. In 2012, Raddatz was on a USS destroyer as it made its way through the Strait of Hormuz.

Libya’s a certainty, and some related or separate question on the status of al-Qaeda and U.S. efforts against that group. Afghanistan and our draw-down of troops is also almost certain. Expect at least one question on Iran and its nuclear program. Sequestration and its impact on the defense budget is another very likely topic.

The format is “nine 10-minute segments, each candidate will have two minutes to respond to an opening question. The moderator will then lead a discussion.” Libya, al-Qaeda, Afghanistan, Iran, and sequestration would make five topics; the remaining four would be on domestic policy and would probably focus heavily on the economy. With Ryan on stage, the debt and his budgetary proposals are almost certain to get their own segment.

Tags: al-Qaeda , Debates , Joe Biden , Libya , Paul Ryan

The Task Before Joe Biden


The last time Joe Biden stepped onto a vice-presidential debate stage, he faced a challenge only George H. W. Walker had dealt with before: debating a woman in a nationally-televised debate.

And Sarah Palin proved an even bigger, more sudden, more dynamic political phenomenon than Geraldine Ferraro was in 1984. Since her debut, Obama’s allies had attacked Palin relentlessly, and the Alaska Governor had run into trouble after her interview with Katie Couric. Palin was a largely unknown quantity headed into the debate, and the only thing most Americans knew was that she was a mother of five and feisty. The expectations were heavy for Biden; he had been in the Senate for decades and spent his life arguing and talking; Palin had never been under such a withering, relentless spotlight.

The last thing Biden needed to do was come across as condescending, or snide, or obnoxious. Bush had run into a little trouble back in 1984, after he had been recorded saying, “I think we did kick a little ass last night.” (Bush and Ferraro discussed their debate in 2008; he said he had been warned about the dangers of inadvertently appearing overbearing or rude.)

So Biden, by and large, kept it simple. He didn’t go on the attack much. However, he described some alternate-universe history that almost no one in the press called him out on, because of the ongoing Palin obsession at that moment. Michael Totten wrote:

“When we kicked — along with France, we kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon, I said and Barack said, “Move NATO forces in there. Fill the vacuum, because if you don’t know — if you don’t, Hezbollah will control it.” Now what’s happened? Hezbollah is a legitimate part of the government in the country immediately to the north of Israel.” [Emphasis added.]

What on Earth is he talking about? The United States and France may have kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon in an alternate universe, but nothing even remotely like that ever happened in this one.

The media’ obsession with all facets of Palin helped obscure Biden’s weak spots last time around. He won’t be able to count on it this time, not because the press is any less hostile to Republicans but because Paul Ryan consumes much less media oxygen.

Some Democrats may want Biden to come out of the blocks attacking relentlessly Thursday night. The Obama campaign brain trust may feel that their base has been left so shaken by Obama’s performance last week, that it needs to see a Democrat tearing apart his opponent as cruel, heartless, reckless, and so on.

But if Biden’s the designated attack dog of the Obama campaign, he’s also proven, time and again, to be a high-risk one. “Gonna put y’all back in chains!” “The middle class that’s been buried the last four years!” “How in the Lord’s name can they justify raising their taxes with these tax cuts?”

Obama has – or had? – deep reserves of favorability and personal likeability to help him weather the storms of daily politics. Judging from his favorable ratings, Biden doesn’t have it, and may never have had it. And as with the Lebanon hallucination above, Biden may… let’s say, misremember some of the finer points of the policies he’s defending or attacking. Sarah Palin, trying to get up to speed on every national issue under the sun, wasn’t going to call out Biden on getting past foreign policy wrong. But Paul Ryan might do just that if given the opportunity. And for the 69-year-old six-term senator to get corrected by the young guy… well, that would reinforce a whole lot of negative perceptions about Joe Biden – perhaps even serious questions as to whether Biden really is the right man to be a heartbeat away from the presidency.

While the Obama campaign can ride out a contentious, tied Biden-Ryan debate or a boring Biden-Ryan debate, a bad Biden-Ryan debate would reinforce the suddenly pervasive perception of an incumbent campaign in a tailspin.

Biden can’t save Obama from the problems created by the first debate; only Obama can save himself – meaning there’s limited upside, and enormous downside, for the vice president to go out on that stage convinced he has to make magic happen, determined to swing for the fences.

The strange dynamic of Obama’s debate pratfall is that it can really only be addressed, and fixed, in his own two forthcoming debate performances. Voters feeling iffy, or newly skeptical about President Obama aren’t going to jump back on the bandwagon because the president has good rallies or a good commercials. Some significant chunk of the 70 million watched President Obama and recoiled, sensing that the president wasn’t all that interested in making the case for himself, his record, and his policies, seeming to believe the entire debate process was beneath him.

Tags: Joe Biden , Paul Ryan

The Continuing Adventures of Vice President
Johnny Strabler


From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

Joe Biden: Born to Be Wild!

With metronomic regularity, we find ourselves asking, “Okay, joke’s over. Who’s the real Vice President of the United States? Is it Hillary? Some blank slate indistinguishable from any of the other middle-aged men in suits in Washington, like Tom Vilsack? Because we really, really, really can’t have this guy a heartbeat away from the presidency.”

Everything about this picture is perfect: Her expression, his expression, her attire, the looks on the two bikers on either side, her hands gently resting in an almost-provocative fashion, the fact that we can’t see Biden’s hands…

Without the Secret Service, Sheriff Joe gets stomped like a NARC at a Hell’s Angel’s rally.

The Hill tries to make sense of this:

Vice President Joe Biden got caught in a stunning photo with a female biker sitting on his lap.

The Associated Press snapped the shot at Cruisers Diner in Seaman, Ohio on Sunday.

A White House pool report says the bikers may be part of a group called the “Shaddowmen.” No details were available on their real names or what discussion led to the lap incident.

Protein Wisdom suggests a caption: “I may be the Vice President, but I’m just a working-class guy and I’ve got a wrench in my pocket to prove it.”

Like with his marriage proposal, Joe Biden had to ask the biker to sit on his lap five times before she agreed.

Sonny Bunch: “The next season of Sons of Anarchy should involve a subplot in which the Sons plot to take out a VP who macks on one of their old ladies.”

Okay, so maybe Biden gets the second-string Secret Service guys. Maybe they’re not quick enough to prevent some chick from moving in and sitting on the Vice President’s lap, but at least Obama’s staff is quick, silent, always watching the crowd for anyone who wants to reach out to the president and . . .

. . . and what the heck happened here? What, were there some Cartagena prostitutes distracting you? Come on, fellas, we were one body slam away from having Vice President Johnny Strabler calling the shots.

Tags: Barack Obama , Joe Biden

There’s No Way Obama Ditches Biden... Right?


From the final Morning Jolt until Tuesday morning…

How Loud Will the ‘Dump Biden’ Whispers Get?

I doubt the White House looks to Sarah Palin for advice, but you figure quite a few folks are thinking along the same lines these days:

In what might seem an ironic piece of advice considering the source, Sarah Palin says President Barack Obama should dump Vice President Joe Biden and put Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the Democratic ticket because Biden’s tendency to make “outrageous” statements could be “the nail in the coffin” of the Obama presidency. 

Reacting to Biden’s remark Tuesday that Republican policies would put Americans “back in chains,” Palin told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren that his “disgusting comment” made to a Virginia audience that was half African-American was unacceptable and would likely turn out to be “the nail in the coffin, really,” of Obama’s re-election bid.

“The strategists there in the Obama campaign have got to look at a diplomatic way of replacing Joe Biden on the ticket with Hillary,” the former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee said.

Of course, a sudden Biden departure won’t happen and can’t happen, for a couple of reasons. First, it would require President Obama to admit a mistake. Secondly, it would de facto concede that the critics who deride Biden as an ill-informed, tactless, often obnoxious, loudmouthed, bloviating rhetorical time-bomb have been right all along. Thirdly, no one would believe the “sudden health crisis” or other story put forth to explain the switch. Fourth, there’s no automatic slam-dunk replacement. Think Hillary Clinton wants to jump in two months before Election Day to help save Obama from his own bad decisions?

John Fund is skeptical:

The White House has to worry that for the next 82 days Joe Biden will be under tremendous scrutiny — especially given the fact that Paul Ryan has become such a media-attention magnet. Everyone is anticipating the October 11 debate between Biden and Ryan. Biden’s penchant for off-the-cuff remarks doesn’t inspire confidence that he won’t unintentionally blurt something out when facing Ryan. For example, he embarrassed the Obama administration recently by prematurely revealing he was “comfortable” with gay marriage — forcing his boss to suddenly endorse gay marriage on a timetable not of his choosing.

Biden’s erratic statements certainly should make Team Obama nervous. I’ve no doubt that some Democratic strategists would love for Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to swap jobs and bolster the Democratic ticket with a little Clinton magic. But there’s no evidence that Hillary would take that deal. If she wants to run, she is already the front-runner for the 2016 Democratic nomination and would gain no advantage by being yoked to Obama, her old adversary, for the next three months if they lost or the next four years if they won.

As someone said a few years ago, “the fact that Barack Obama became President of the United States is almost as shocking as the fact that Joe Biden became Vice President of the United States.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Joe Biden

What the Coming Debates Will Sound Like


We have our answer to what the Romney-Ryan ticket will have to offer, and how President Obama and Vice President Biden will respond:

Paul Ryan, on the stump today: “Without a doubt, President Obama inherited a difficult situation. Here is the problem: he made it worse. We have seen a failure of leadership, a failure of leadership to get the economy growing, to create jobs, to get our spending and debt and deficit under control. What Mitt Romney and I are offering, the Romney/Ryan plan for a stronger middle class, is designed to get people back to work. It is designed to create jobs. If we get this economy growing like we know we can, we can create 12 million jobs in four years. Among those solutions we’re offering, our number one, make sure that we use our own energy because we have our own energy in this country. all of it. you have it all here in Colorado…. Last week when I was filling my truck up, it cost $100, and the only reason it cost $100 is because the pump cut me off at $100 because of the gas tank. Enough. We have our own oil and gas. We have nuclear, we have all of the above, winds, solar, coal, let’s use it. Let’s make our energy independence. Let’s create jobs. Let’s stop sending jobs overseas by buying oil overseas. You have the technology here, the wherewithal here, the oil and gas here.”

Joe Biden, on the stump today: “THEY’RE GOING TO PUT Y’ALL BACK IN CHAINS!”

Mitt Romney, on the stump today: “He’s for all the sources of energy that come from above the ground, none of the sources below the ground, like oil and coal and gas. I’m for all of the above, whether it comes from above the ground or below the ground. We’re going to take advantage of our energy resources to save your jobs, create more jobs, and, by the way, when we use our plentiful energy resources, our inexpensive carbon-based resources, you’re going to see manufacturing come back to America.”

Barack Obama, on the stump today: “Governor Romney even explained his energy policy this way: ‘You can’t drive a car with a windmill on it.’ That’s what he said about wind power. ‘You can’t drive a car with a windmill on it.’ I wonder if he actually tried that. I know he’s tied other things to his car.”

Ha-ha! A Seamus joke! Man, I’m sure the 23 million who are unemployed, working part-time because they can’t find work, or who have stopped looking for work will be laughing at that one for a long time.

This is your choice, America: an approach that Obama’s own debt commission co-chair calls “sensible, straightforward, honest and  serious” … or dog-on-the-roof jokes and an accusation of a return to slavery.

Tags: Barack Obama , Joe Biden , Mitt Romney , Paul Ryan

The Ryan Plan: Compared to the Status Quo, It’s the Safe Choice!


The great Avik Roy makes the argument that the traditional “Mediscare” attacks won’t work, because the Ryan plan preserves the program for those most focused on the issue (those 55 years and older), because those who denounce Ryan must ignore that Obamacare will reduce Medicare spending by approximately $743 billion, and because Paul Ryan understands the issue so thoroughly.

Allow me to offer even more basic points that need to be brought in response to the “Mediscare” attacks: Medicare currently covers roughly 40 million elderly Americans. Medicare is paid for by taxes on 162 million Americans. Medicare is broken into different parts that cover different aspects of health care; Medicare Part A covers hospital costs. As you hear how horrific and radical Ryan is, keep in mind that Medicare Part A started seeing costs outpacing revenue in 2008; the government has made up the shortfall by shifting funds from other accounts. The future is now.

From the Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees 2012 report:

The Disability Insurance Trust Fund fails the short-range test because its projected trust fund ratio falls to 83 percent by the beginning of 2013, followed by exhaustion of assets in 2016.

From that same report: “The long-run actuarial deficits of the Social Security and Medicare programs worsened in 2012… Both Medicare and Social Security cannot sustain projected long-run program costs under currently scheduled financing, and legislative modifications are necessary to avoid disruptive consequences for beneficiaries and taxpayers.”

As for those alleged savings from enacting Obamacare, those “cost saving[s are] attributable to a reduction in the annual payment updates for most Medicare services (other than physicians’ services and drugs) by total economy multifactor productivity growth, which the Trustees project will average 1.1 percent per year. The report notes that sustaining these payment reductions indefinitely will require unprecedented efficiency-enhancing innovations in health care payment and delivery systems that are by no means certain. In addition, the Trustees assume an almost 31-percent reduction in Medicare payment rates for physician services will be implemented in 2013 as required by current law, which is also highly uncertain.”

We all know the basics of our entitlement program problems: Too many collecting benefits, not enough paying in. A system that was endangered by the Baby Boomers retiring is greatly exacerbated of four years of recession, high unemployment, millions of Americans working part-time instead of full-time, etc.

So Paul Ryan puts forth a plan to raise the eligibility age by two months per year until it reaches 67. For those 55 and older, no change to the program. For everyone else, you get an $8,000 voucher. If you’re in the wealthiest 8 percent, you get less; if you’re in the wealthiest 2 percent, you get much less. Payments would be adjusted for inflation based on the consumer price index.

Is that radical? Not nearly as radical as doing nothing. President Obama and Joe Biden have had four years to address this issue and they have done what Democrats have always done: act as if the current system is fine and demonize anyone who puts forth a plan. They are the antithesis of hope and change.

Tags: Barack Obama , Joe Biden , Mitt Romney , Paul Ryan

How to Spot a Veep Pick Before the News Breaks


Maybe you’ll first hear the name of Mitt Romney’s running mate from the Romney campaign’s downloadable app. But it’s also pretty likely that the identity of the running mate will break in one of three other ways:

1) The campaign will want its official plane to feature the name of the running mate, and someone will see the name being added to the fuselage at the airport.

From an Aviation web site chat board (great sourcing, I know): Kerry’s plane is being painted with decals that say Edwards.

2) The campaign plane will make an unexpected stop, or the campaign will charter a flight from a particular location to a campaign event in a swing state.

Another rumor has a chartered plane from Alaska landing a while ago near Dayton, Ohio. If true, that could mean McCain’s selection could be an outside-the-box game-changer: picking Alaska’s first female governor, Sarah Palin, a 44-year-old mother of five and political maverick in her own right, who went against her state’s GOP establishment in recent years to drive a series of reforms through.

3) The Secret Service will show up at the house of the running mate.

The United States Secret Service has dispatched a protective detail to assume the immediate protection of Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., a source tells ABC News, indicating in all likelihood that Biden has been officially notified that Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, has selected him to be his running mate.

These are unavoidable logistical decisions that are pretty tough to hide from the eyes of a curious public.

Tags: Joe Biden , John Edwards , Mitt Romney , Sarah Palin


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