Tags: White House

White House in Coverup of Obama’s Unpaid Bills


In the midst of a confrontation over censorship between pool reporters and the White House, the Obama administration Monday night disappeared a section of the president’s comments at a fundraiser in Chicago.

“One of the nice things about being home is actually that it’s a little bit like a time capsule,” the president said at an event Monday evening at the Windy City home of supporter Barbara Manilow. “Because Michelle and I and the kids, we left so quickly that there’s still junk on my desk, including some unpaid bills (laughter) — I think eventually they got paid — but they’re sort of stacked up. And messages, newspapers and all kinds of stuff.”  

The president’s joke, transcribed by pool reporter Jennifer Epstein of Politico, appears to be an innocuous if lame attempt to position the man in control of the U.S. nuclear arsenal as just a regular Joe like you and me. But it was a collection agency too far for the White House press office, which removed it from the White House transcript.

“​The White House’s transcript of tonight’s DNC fundraiser omits the president’s reference to unpaid bills being stacked up on his desk at home in Chicago,” Epstein wrote in a followup pool dispatch. “I included a partial quote in the pool report earlier, but in the interest of transparency, especially since this was a print pool only event, I’m sharing the full quote, as I transcribed and checked just now, and as it was in the transcript. Thanks to AP’s Josh Lederman for pointing out the discrepancy.”

In the official White House transcript, the president’s comment reads: “there’s still junk on my desk, including some — newspapers and all kinds of stuff.​”

The elision comes as the White House’s overbearing efforts to control the flow of information about the president have alienated a formerly friendly press corps. Pool reporters are bristling at White House demands for changes to pool reports, and a group of poolers are experimenting with other avenues of distribution for the reports, which now are distributed through a White House server.

In fact, Obama’s unpaid bills are considerably higher than could be contained in a few bills on a desk in Chicago. The federal government’s unfunded liabilities are estimated to be anywhere between $84 trillion and $220 trillion, while the Treasury Department estimates total federal debt outstanding at $17.9 trillion.

Tags: White House , Barack Obama

Every American Homeowner Should Be Allowed to Shoot Intruders Dead


Apparently “Thank goodness nobody was hurt” is no longer sufficient as a reaction to public events.

Following the infiltration of the White House this weekend by 42-year-old Omar Gonzalez, Americans are taking sides on a variety of issues ranging from inadequate care for veterans to the Secret Service’s seeming laxity to the use of lethal force against intruders at the presidential residence. The Washington Post’s Petula Dvorak accuses the men in black of trying to “Anschluss even more public space to expand The Perimeter around 1600 Pennsylvania, amping up the fear and paranoia that already pervade the heart of our nation.” Former Secret Service agent and Maryland congressional candidate Dan Bongino says the president’s guards need more non-lethal weapons. MSNBC host Joe Scarborough says intruders like Gonzalez, who jumped the Pennsylvania Avenue fence and managed to sprint across the lawn and get inside the open door of the White House before being subdued, need to be taken out either by dogs or guards. The Secret Service itself is worried about a human-wave attack on the compound. Gun-restriction advocates are irate that Gonzalez had 800 rounds of ammunition in a car parked blocks from the White House. I’m wondering how Gonzalez found a parking space in Washington.

Although there are many positions to be argued here, Scarborough’s contention, that the president’s security detail needs to put an emphasis on speed over non-violence in eliminating potential threats, seems clearly right. The president is the head of the executive branch of government, and his security is important to the functioning of the state. He stands in loco regis for purposes of political theater, and an attack on him is an attack on the nation’s honor. An unknown number of enemies, whose capacities are also unknown, want to kill him.

But there’s an even simpler justification: You have a house, with a fence around the house. Somebody who climbs that fence and makes a charge at the house is a trespasser on your property and, within a reasonable degree of certainty, a threat to you. You don’t have to kill that person, and if there are other ways to subdue him or her (almost certainly him), you should do so. But prior to the Second Amendment, prior to the discovery of America, prior to the Magna Carta, you have the right to use violence to defend yourself and your property. While the White House is theoretically the property of the “people” rather than the president, we agree to a legal fiction wherein the president acts as a temporary landlord of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. (That’s Pennsylvania Avenue NW, if you’re looking it up on Zillow.)

In elemental defense terms, we can see that the president’s position is in fact much stronger than that of ordinary Americans, who live in a world of never-sleeping thieves, violent ex-husbands, loiterers from local public housing, babbling street people who may choose today as the day to graduate from verbal to physical abuse (actually, the neighborhood of the White House has quite a few of that last type), and the occasional person who just feels like shooting a random piano teacher in her house. The president also doesn’t have to pull the trigger. But someday you might have to.

Tags: White House, Bringing You The Really Important Updates


The lead item on right now: “Improving digital services across government.”

“The U.S. Digital Service is a small team of our country’s brightest digital talent that will work with government agencies to find more effective ways to use technology to improve the service, information, and benefits they provide.”

That’s great, can they provide HD-level images of ISIS goons getting blown to smithereens?

Ace, yesterday

Obama has his plans. His plans include pushing his various fake campaign positionings to gin up the left-wing base, and playing golf and attending jazz festivals.

No matter what happens in the world, or even in America, Obama is sticking to that plan.

He dismisses — either explicitly or implicitly, by his near-total lack of intellectual or emotional engagement with serious political events — all occurrences which are not in his List of Things to Do as “distractions.”

Thursday afternoon is U.S. Digital Service day, regardless of what’s going on in the world, the news, or is on the minds of the American people.


Tags: Barack Obama , White House

White House: Immigration Didn’t Sink Cantor


A spokesman for President Obama rushed to assure House Republicans that Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) didn’t actually lose because of his gestures toward Democrats on immigration reform.

“Cantor’s problem wasn’t his position on immigration reform, it was his lack of a position,” Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer tweeted, citing the primary triumph tonight by Senator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.). “Graham wrote and passed a bill and is winning big.”

Cantor’s campaign sent out direct-mail pieces ahead of the election maintaining that he was “stopping the Obama-Reid plan to give illegal aliens amnesty,” but challenger Dave Brat accused him of supporting “amnesty” based on his support for legislation such as the KIDS Act, which would give citizenship to children brought to the country illegally.

“Where else would these kids go? Again, they’ve been brought here as a minor in many instances having no idea what was going on, knowing no other place than America as home,” Cantor said during a press conference last July.

RedState’s Erick Erickson came to a similar conclusion as Pfeiffer, but for different reasons. “Immigration was the surface reason that galvanized the opposition to Cantor, but the opposition could not have been galvanized with this issue had Cantor been a better congressman these past few years,” Erickson wrote. “Cantor’s constituent services moved more toward focusing on running the Republican House majority than his congressional district. K Street, the den of Washington lobbyists, became his chief constituency. In Virginia a couple of months ago, several residents of Cantor’s district groused that they were going to support Brat because they did not think Cantor was doing his job as a Virginia congressman. Others no longer trusted him.”

Tags: White House , Eric Cantor

White House on Whether Bergdahl Was a Deserter: ‘A Lot of Ifs Attached’ to That Question


President Obama’s team doesn’t know if Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. Army sergeant held captive in Afghanistan until his release was obtained this weekend through the release of five top Taliban leaders, is a deserter.

“You’re citing a circumstance with a lot of ifs attached to it,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said during Monday’s press briefing. A reporter had alluded to allegations that Bergdahl walked away from his post, and asked if national-security adviser Susan Rice “misspoke” when she said that Bergdahl had “served the United States with honor and distinction.” 

The Defense Department is still “evaluating all of the circumstances surrounding [Bergdahl's] initial detention and his captivity, and that process continues, obviously, directly with Sergeant Bergdahl now that he is in U.S. care,” Carney told reporters.

“The first and foremost thing that we have to recognize is that Sergeant Bergdahl was in captivity for five years, held against his will,” Carney said.

Soldiers who served with Bergdahl have told CNN’s Jake Tapper they’re angry about the prisoner exchange that secured his release.

“According to firsthand accounts from soldiers in his platoon, Bergdahl, while on guard duty, shed his weapons and walked off the observation post with nothing more than a compass, a knife, water, a digital camera and a diary,” Tapper wrote.

“At least six soldiers were killed in subsequent searches for Bergdahl,” Tapper reported, “and many soldiers in his platoon said attacks seemed to increase against the United States in Paktika province in the days and weeks following his disappearance.”

Tags: White House , Jay Carney , Department of Defense , Afghanistan , Taliban , Bowe Bergdahl

White House Pastry Chef Leaves Post: ‘I Don’t Want to Demonize Cream, Butter, Sugar, and Eggs’


Bethany Jenkins at the Gospel Coalition explores food and healthy choices in her article “Watching What We Eat,” which mentions the White House pastry chef who recently left his post:

Under the direction of Mrs. Obama, the White House executive pastry chef, Bill Yosses, “was directed to make more healthful desserts, and in smaller portions, that were to be served only sparingly to the first family.” He frequently replaces butter with fruit purée and sugar with honey or agave. He also often adds whole grains to desserts and picks his fruits, vegetables, and herbs directly from the White House garden.

A few weeks ago, however, Yosses announced his “bittersweet decision” to leave Washington and head to New York, explaining, “I don’t want to demonize cream, butter, sugar, and eggs.” He also said, “Not everything is about sugar, but everything is about good taste. And there’s such a thing as healthy good taste.” In other words, he thinks it’s possible to focus on healthy ingredients without stigmatizing traditional ones.

Tags: Michelle Obama , White House , Health

The President’s Busy Morning: Russia Announcement, ESPN Radio


This morning President Obama announced new sanctions on Russia for that country’s aggression in Crimea and threatening gestures toward Ukraine and Eastern Europe.

Then the president did an interview with ESPN’s Colin Cowherd.

This is the home page of right now:

“View the President’s Backet” is at the top of the page.

Elsewhere on, visitors are encouraged to provide their e-mail addresses so they can “Sign up to get the First Lady’s blog posts, videos of events and photos delivered right to your inbox” dealing with first lady Michelle Obama’s trip to China.

This is really the only way for the American public to learn much about the first lady’s six-day taxpayer-funded trip to China with her daughters and mother, as “First lady Michelle Obama will not take questions from reporters or give interviews during her tour of China that begins today, and members of the press corps who usually follows [sic] the first family everywhere can’t travel with her entourage.”

Back in November, news organizations filed a formal complaint with the White House about the administration’s habit of “bypassing them to release ‘official’ photos of presidential meetings and events,” contending “visual press releases” have displaced independent coverage.

Tags: Barack Obama , Michelle Obama , White House , Russia , Basketball

Colorado Senator Floats Brennan’s Resignation


John Brennan is on thin ice with the Senate, and one Democratic senator is on the verge of asking the Central Intelligence Agency director to resign.

On Tuesday, after accusations that the agency illegally spied on Congress earlier this year, Colorado’s Mark Udall said Brennan may only have “one more opportunity to put things to right here” before Udall loses confidence in his ability to run the intelligence agency. “My confidence in Director Brennan is at the lowest level it’s ever been,” he told MSNBC’s Alex Wagner on Tuesday.

Tension over the CIA is the latest sore point between anxious congressional Democrats and the White House ahead of the 2014 midterms.#ad#

Brennan has denied charges made Tuesday by Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) that the agency, which is barred from conducting domestic searches or surveillance, illegally monitored Congress. She accused the CIA of violating the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches when committee staffers used the agency’s computers to review top-secret documents regarding its interrogation methods. Several Democrats and Republicans, including Majority leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) and John McCain (R., Ariz.), are standing behind Feinstein and calling for investigations of the CIA.

Other Senators are urging caution before jumping to conclusions and want to know more. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) described the situation as “a bit more complicated” than Feinstein is letting on, but he supported an investigation into both the CIA’s and Congress’ actions. Intelligence Committee ranking member Saxby Chambliss (R., Ga.) said “there’s disagreements as to what the actual facts are.”

But Udall has gone a step further than most critics of Brennan, stopping just short of calling for his resignation for not being “as forthcoming as he should have been.”

“Unless Director Brennan fully engages in the Intelligence Committee’s request and works with us so that we can perform our oversight duties, I don’t know how he can continue to serve as the CIA director,” Udall told Colorado Public Radio.

Udall is also taken a procedural step against a recent Obama CIA nominee. NBC News reports that Udall put a “hold” on Caroline Krass, the White House’s pick for CIA general counsel, on Wednesday. In December, during her confirmation hearing, she told the committee that Congress shouldn’t have access to documents that oversee CIA activities, such as interrogation methods or the drone program.

Nonetheless, unease over Brennan is just the latest blow to a once-harmonious relationship between Senate Democrats and the Obama administration, which is growing increasingly strained recently. Last week, Democrats joined Republicans to block Debo Adegbile, President Obama’s nominee to the Department of Justice’s civil-rights division.

Additionally, tension over Obamacare remains a source of anxiety for some vulnerable Democratic incumbents, such as Udall, especially in the wake of the party’s loss in Tuesday’s special election in Florida’s 13th congressional district.

The White House said it is taking the allegations against the CIA “very seriously” but still has “great confidence” in Brennan. An inspector general is currently looking in to the situation.

— Andrew Johnson is an editorial associate at National Review Online.

Tags: CIA's Alleged Spying the Latest Chapter in Growing Tension Between Senate Democrats , White House

Tough Coverage of the White House Tour Cancellation


I think this ABC News report from Jonathan Karl, on the White House declaring it can no longer give public tours because of sequester cuts, did not go as the president and his allies would hope:

Diane Sawyer: “People have been e-mailing us, asking, ‘Really? Is that the only way to cut the budget?’”

Jonathan Karl does the math and concludes that ending the tours saves $18,000 per week, out of about a $1.6 billion Secret Service budget. (Does a uniformed Secret Service agent really cost only $30 per hour? Strikes me as a bargain!) The cost of the tours annually, then, is $936,000.

That’s just under the cost of a 2010 state dinner given at the White House for the president of Mexico.

Karl notes that Obama took a 20-car motorcade to travel the six blocks to last night’s restaurant meal.

Tags: Barack Obama , Sequestration , White House

That Ongoing, Ongoing White House Leak Investigation


You may or may not remember that back in early June, Attorney General Eric Holder named two U.S. Attorneys to oversee investigations into leaks of classified information.

While his announcement did not specify which particular information leak was being investigated, the preceding weeks had seen “reports of a U.S.-led cyberattack on Iran’s nuclear program, stories about Obama’s involvement in authorizing deadly drone strikes and reports that the U.S. infiltrated an Al Qaeda-linked terrorist group plotting an attack on a U.S. airliner.” Some Republicans on Capitol Hill alleged that the White House was leaking the information to make the president look better on national security in the middle of a hard-fought presidential campaign.

Holder tapped U.S. Attorney for Washington, D.C., Ronald Machen and U.S. Attorney for Maryland Rod Rosenstein. At the time, Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Charles Grassley (R., Iowa) argued, “The only reason these U.S. Attorneys were assigned to the investigation is because of their proximity to where the conduct likely occurred.” Some other Republicans were bothered that Machen had donated money to Obama’s campaigns in the past.

This morning I called Machen spokesman Bill Miller for an update. He said that no indictments or charges have been filed, but the investigation is ongoing. Because it is ongoing, he could not specify how many staff were working on it, or whether the investigation was intensifying or winding down.

Tags: Ted Kennedy , White House

White House: Nuh-Uh! Stimulus Jobs Only Cost $185K Each!


The White House’s pushback on the stimulus cost-per-job-created figure is, er, not as persuasive as they would like:

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is just the latest Republican to be publicizing a Weekly Standard report claiming that President Obama’s own economists claim the stimulus bill cost $278,000 per job…

The White House has long disputed the math of dividing the cost of the stimulus by the number of jobs created – we asked a similar question back in October 2009, when that computation resulted in the comparable bargain of $72,408 per stimulus job, as you can read at this blog post.

Then, as now, White House officials note that the spending didn’t just fund salaries, it also went to the actual costs of building things — construction materials, new factories, and such. So the math is flawed, White House officials say, since reporters are not including the permanent infrastructure in the computation, thus producing an inflated figure. White House officials also questioned why the Weekly Standard would use the lower figure from the projection of the number of jobs created, and noted that the temporary nature of the stimulus bill meant that its impact would diminish over time, when the private sector began hiring again. In other words, the number of jobs created at its peak – as many as 3.6 million, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s May 2011 report – would be more appropriate, White House officials say.

Okay, fine. Let’s use the high-end 3.6 million jobs-created figure. That still comes out to $185,000 per job.

As for the notion that because the stimulus was temporary, we shouldn’t be surprised that its impact diminishes over time, that’s refuting a point no one made. More troubling for stimulus defenders is the idea that the CBO report puts the majority of the stimulus’ impact in 2010, when the unemployment rate began the year at 9.7 percent, peaked at 9.9 percent in April, and ended the year at 9.4 percent. In other words, even when the stimulus was at peak efficacy, it had minimal impact on the national unemployment rate.

Also note that the White House does some convenient rounding of their own. In their defense, they state, “The nonpartisan CBO has confirmed that the Recovery Act delivered as promised, lowering the unemployment rate by as much as 2 percent, boosting GDP by as much as 4 percent and creating and saving as many as 3.6 million jobs.” 

Actually, that stretches what the CBO actually said. Their report puts the maximum impact on the unemployment rate at 1.8 percent and as low as .6 percent, and that it boosted “(inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) by between 1.1 percent and 3.1 percent.”

Tags: Stimulus , White House

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