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Tags: Jay Carney

When the Obama Administration Has Lost Jay Carney . . .



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Wow. Please, Democrats, keep insisting that a ban on nonessential travel from the three most Ebola-stricken countries is a bad idea. Because you won’t believe who is urging a change in policy:

Former White House press secretary Jay Carney suggested Thursday that the White House take “substantive actions” in fighting Ebola, including putting in place flight restrictions.

“I think substantive actions need to be taken, and they may involve flight restrictions, they may involve moving all patients to specific hospitals in the country that can handle Ebola, and I think those would be wise decisions to make,” Carney said on CNN.

He continued, “I’m not an expert, but I think that would demonstrate a level of seriousness in response to this that is merited at this point.”

Polling indicates that broad, bipartisan majorities support restricting flights. A few House Democrats support the restrictions, but many others don’t.

Tags: Ebola , Jay Carney

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



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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

A Lying Administration’s Endless Benefit of the Doubt on Benghazi



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From the Tuesday edition of the Morning Jolt:

A Lying Administration’s Endless Benefit of the Doubt on Benghazi

Those who deny the existence of a widespread, deep-rooted liberal bias in most “mainstream” media institutions can and will point to periodic tough coverage of the Obama administration’s explanation on Benghazi.

We get lots of individual cases of this. CNN’s Jake Tapper will accuse Jay Carney of being “dissembling, obfuscating, and often, you know, insulting.” Ron Fournier of National Journal will declare that Carney reminds him of “Baghdad Bob.” ABC News’s Jonathan Karl will rip into him for giving false information during the briefing. CNN’s Dana Bash will point out that the administration is withholding documents from congressional subpoenas. Slate’s John Dickerson will state, matter-of-factly:

The Obama administration’s story has never been straight on the Benghazi attack. Press Secretary Jay Carney once said the White House and State Department had only been involved in changing one word in crafting the first public response about the attack — the infamous Susan Rice talking points. Emails released in May showed that wasn’t the case. This new batch underscores the White House’s involvement in shaping the story. The Obama administration left the impression that everything related to the Benghazi attack had been released to the investigating committees months ago. That is also clearly false.

White House defenses earned scores of Pinocchios, and fact-checkers have corrected the president repeatedly, again and again.

You would think this repeated mendacity, on topics ranging from keeping doctors to red lines, would add up; that the media would greet White House statements with increasing skepticism. You might think the coverage would characterize White House statements as assertions, not proven facts. The White House shifts to “trust us” quite a bit. Trust us, we’ve held everyone in our government responsible for security in Benghazi accountable. Trust us, we’ve determined why no rescue effort was launched. Trust us, we’ve turned over all relevant documents to congressional investigators. Trust us, all of the false information we told the public after the attack stemmed from a series of innocent mistakes and miscommunications.

Instead, we live in a world that feels as if someone has picked up our national Etch-a-Sketch and shaken it on a regular basis. After getting caught in a lie, the administration goes to work the next day and deals with a press corps as credulous as the day before. We’re living in a world where the villagers never wise up about the boy who cried “wolf!”

The current administration line is that they may simply refuse to cooperate with the House’s special committee investigating the Benghazi attacks, concluding it doesn’t meet the Obama administration’s standard as “legitimate.”

Obama’s top spokesman on Monday gave no indication that the White House would participate in the latest investigation — but the implicit answer seemed to be that it would not.

“We have always cooperated with legitimate oversight,” Carney said, adding that the GOP committee didn’t meet that test.

When you’ve been caught lying to the American public about life-and-death matters so often, you don’t get to decide which congressional investigations are legitimate and which ones aren’t. You have forfeited the benefit of the doubt. If it’s really that illegitimate, or a fishing expedition, the American people will let Congress know in November.

The notion of checks and balances in the Constitution is not dependent upon each branch’s opinion of the legitimacy of the questions of the other. Nixon didn’t think highly of Congress, either. You don’t get to ignore the Supreme Court if you don’t think their decision was “legitimate.”

What are the consequences of losing all credibility? It turns out, not much.

Tags: Benghazi , Barack Obama , Jay Carney

Drawing a Blank on the Obama Administration’s Benghazi Disclosure



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White House press secretary Jay Carney is bragging that the administration has released 25,000 pages of documents related to Benghazi.

That number sounds like a lot, but Carney didn’t mention how many of those documents actually have text on them.

For example, the documents recently obtained by Judicial Watch were scrubbed of information the executive branch decreed secret, making some of them . . . less than edifying. Out of 110 pages of documents released because of Judicial Watch’s FOIA lawsuit, 36 are partially or entirely redacted because of classified information.

Redaction turns this page into a blank slate, for example:

And then there are the pages offering only a smidgen of text from the preceding page, such as this separate page with just the word “Erin.”

Some documents detail an e-mail exchange where the entire text is redacted:

Out of those 110 pages released to Judicial Watch, 30 pages are transcripts of news reports about Benghazi and Rice’s interviews with the media, 14 pages collect official statements from administration officials and lawmakers on Capitol Hill in response to the Benghazi attack, five pages collect reactions to the attack from Libyans on Twitter, and two pages are an e-mail of a press release of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

In short, Carney wants the administration to get credit for disclosure — which they complied with only after a lawsuit — even though they’re releasing a lot of documents that only repeat public news reports, don’t say much the public didn’t already know, and in some cases, literally don’t say anything.

Tags: Jay Carney , Benghazi

Gibbs, Matthews — Who Will Criticize Obama Next, Joe Biden?



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The midweek edition of the Morning Jolt features a big roundup of the coming storm of Obamacare, further evidence that the IRS isn’t good at math, and this point about what happens when a very comfortable administration suddenly finds that its old spin and excuses don’t work anymore:

BOOM: The Implosion of the Obama Excuses for the Scandal Parade

Just how bad has it gotten for the Obama administration?

Not even his old spokesman Robert Gibbs can say his boss is handling this stuff well.

Former Obama White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs — now an MSNBC contributor — explained to Andrea Mitchell this afternoon that President Obama made White House Press Secretary Jay Carney’s job more difficult due to his passive response to the scandals surrounding his administration

Carney would have had an easier time defending the president, suggested Gibbs, if the President had spoken out on the IRS scandal over the weekend.

“The problem is this — the tenor of this briefing would be different if the president had spoken about this on Saturday or Sunday and not on Monday,” Gibbs explained shortly after Carney struggled to answer reporters questions in the White House Press Briefing.

Gibbs added that President Obama sounded like he was “losing patience” with the issue “which is what I do with my 9-year-old.”

Gibbs explained that Obama should have used “more vivid” language and proposed a tough commission to look at the issue while waiting for the Inspector General to release his report on the scandal.

Well, at least Obama still has Mr. Leg-Tingle himself, Chris Matthews, who — wait, what?

Matthews: President Obama has got to stop taking advice from sycophants who keep telling him he’s right and only they can be trusted. He needs to act. He needs to fire people. He needs to grab control of his presidency. He needs to surround himself with people who are ready to fight on every front, because the three problems he faces now, Benghazi, the IRS and the FBI are less likely to be two problems by this time next week than there are to be four and counting. Why? Because, as I said, it’s not just that he’s under attack. It’s that he’s vulnerable. And that is obvious to everyone this side of the White House gates.

Who’s going to denounce the president next, Joe Biden?

What we saw in Tuesday’s White House press briefing, where the press corps appeared ready to break out the pitchforks and torches and go French Revolution on Jay Carney’s dishonest tush, is what happens when a very comfortable, very confident administration suddenly finds that none of the traditional scandal defenses work.

Dennis Miller: “Carney blows more smoke than a Rastafarian’s death rattle.”

Tuesday afternoon, Ace of Spades came up with the idea of a scandal-excuse prediction game in the form of an NFL-style draft, and Twitchy collected some of the best.

Ace began with, “low level employees”, took “Obama gives a historic speech” in the second round (overrated, I would argue that player peaked a few years ago and has really seen less playing time in recent years) and concluded the third round with a very versatile selection who gets a lot of playing time, “Some procedures may need review/Procedures have let us down again.” My first-round selection was the offspring of the Hall of Famer that everyone remembers from the breakout 1998 season, “The real story here is the shadowy network behind our critics making these baseless accusations.” In the second round I went with a player who has been on the field almost constantly since the start of the 2009 season, “If you look back to the Bush administration . . .”

It’s easy to predict these because anyone who has followed the news during more than one scandal has seen them before. There is a playbook in these sorts of matters: It wasn’t me, it was that other figure/local office over there. I was out of the loop. I was in the loop, but the concerns were never adequately communicated, in violation of established procedures. I knew about it, but I didn’t approve of it. There’s an ongoing review, I can’t comment. All of this happened a long time ago, you’re obsessed with ancient history. This is a distraction from the real business of the country. Finally, don’t you understand that my political enemies are behind this?

All of the above lines are meant to get you to focus on something besides what happened, who’s responsible, and who should be held accountable. All of this is mean to persuade us that their decisions and actions aren’t the problem; the problem is with us, for asking questions about it.

To hell with that.

“In my defense, you guys always swallowed these lines before.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Robert Gibbs , Chris Matthews , Scandals , Jay Carney

ABC Finds Benghazi Talking Points Extensively Edited by State Dept.



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The final Morning Jolt of the week features trouble in Syria, Kerry getting static from Russia, an argument against the immigration bill from an unexpected source, more worries from . . . but the lead item is the morning’s breaking news:

BREAKING: Jay Carney Lied About the Benghazi Talking Points

Breaking this morning, from ABC News’ Jonathan Karl:

When it became clear last fall that the CIA’s now discredited Benghazi talking points were flawed, the White House said repeatedly the documents were put together almost entirely by the intelligence community, but White House documents reviewed by Congress suggest a different story.

ABC News has obtained 12 different versions of the talking points that show they were extensively edited as they evolved from the drafts first written entirely by the CIA to the final version distributed to Congress and to U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice before she appeared on five talk shows the Sunday after that attack.

White House emails reviewed by ABC News suggest the edits were made with extensive input from the State Department. The edits included requests from the State Department that references to the Al Qaeda-affiliated group Ansar al-Sharia be deleted as well references to CIA warnings about terrorist threats in Benghazi in the months preceding the attack.

That would appear to directly contradict what White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said about the talking points in November.

“Those talking points originated from the intelligence community. They reflect the IC’s best assessments of what they thought had happened,” Carney told reporters at the White House press briefing on November 28, 2012. “The White House and the State Department have made clear that the single adjustment that was made to those talking points by either of those two institutions were changing the word ‘consulate’ to ‘diplomatic facility’ because ‘consulate’ was inaccurate.”

Here’s the kicker:

In an email to officials at the White House and the intelligence agencies, State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland took issue with including that information because it “could be abused by members [of Congress] to beat up the State Department for not paying attention to warnings, so why would we want to feed that either? Concerned . . .”

Hey, why would they want to accurately inform the public if it might result in criticism from Congress, right?

Tags: Benghazi , Jay Carney , Barack Obama , U.S. State Department

Counting on Obama to Resolve the Chicago Teachers’ Strike?



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The Tuesday edition of the Morning Jolt features discussion of today’s 9/11 Anniversary, a note of caution about polling at this point, and then….

The Great Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012

One way or another, the nation will generate issues for the presidential candidates to talk about. Who had “a teacher’s strike in Chicago” as one of the big issues in early September?

I heard from one regular who thought this whole dispute in Chicago is being organized so that the Munificent Sun-King can fly in from Washington and calm the waters and bring everyone together in agreement “for the children.” Rush was theorizing along the same lines:

RUSH:  Last week I asked a stupid question, and it took me a couple of hours on Friday to figure it out.  I’ve been hoping I wouldn’t forget it all weekend.  And here we are, and I remember what it was.  The stupid question I asked was: “Why are the teachers in Chicago going on strike?”  The answer is very simple:  So Obama can solve it as a campaign issue.  That’s why they’re on strike.  It won’t be long before we hear Moochelle say that he’s up late at night on the campaign trail practically crying, reading letters from students in Chicago upset they can’t go to school.

The schools are open in Chicago for lunch and breakfast.  Teachers aren’t there.  Rahm Emanuel’s kids are at their $25,000-a-year private school.  The Chicago teachers have been offered a 16% raise.  How’s that compared to your raise at your job?  And they turned it down over some pension stuff.  You watch. Rahm Emanuel himself is the guy who said, “Never let a crisis go to waste.”  We know that the unions, Obama and Rahm Emanuel, the Democrats, are in bed with each other.  So this, to me, I think it’s a perfect setup.

RUSH: This school teacher strike in Chicago? Let’s just see how long this thing goes on, and let’s see how it gets solved. Anybody want to bet against me that Obama’s the one that gets credit for this, in a few short days? Anybody want to bet that there might be a little bit of violence and finally Obama will have to move in and do something? He and Rahm will figure this out so they get credit for solving it. Because, I tell you: There is no union that is gonna go on strike right now for the express purpose of harming Barack Obama.

True enough, but I’ll cite Robert Heinlein on this: “You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity.” We know from Wisconsin that unions are capable of taking enormously unpopular, short-sighted, self-destructive actions that disregard the advice of their allies. Some leader within the Chicago unions probably calculated that Rahm Emanuel and every other Democrat in public life would never defy the will of a major union two months before a presidential election. Ordinarily, they would be right.

Here’s the problem with the “Obama swoops in to save the day” theory: Everyone involved already has egg on their faces, mostly on the metaphorical visages of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the teachers’ unions. Under the conspiracy theory, all of these groups would have to be willing to take a tough PR hit from a multi-day strike. A bit of a hurdle, but possible.

But when you see stories like this one…

Parents didn’t know what to expect when they dropped off their children Monday at one of the city’s 144 schools that remained open as part of the district’s strike contingency plan. Some had to cross raucous picket lines where teachers were chanting about a fair contracts or banging drums and tambourines.

You start to wonder if some of the teachers are burying themselves in the part. This is going to stir up a lot of bad blood between parents and teachers, and that seems like a high long-term cost for the Chicago parties to play in order to help Obama play hero.

Finally, if Obama’s going to swoop in and play the hero… he can’t delay too long. At least for now, Obama is punting on this one, or at least he’s having Jay Carney do so on his behalf.

Q Thanks, Jay. A couple of topics, please. I’m wondering what the President’s reaction is to the teacher strike in Chicago, assuming he’s had a chance to follow that story, and whether he has any reaction to both the strike and how his former Chief of Staff is handling it.

MR. CARNEY: Well, I’m sure he’s aware of it — I know he’s aware of it, but I haven’t spoken with him about it, so I can’t speak for his reaction. I can tell you that as a — more broadly, that our principal concern is for the students, and his principal concern is for the students and families who are affected by the situation. And we hope that both sides are able to come together to settle this quickly and in the best interest of Chicago’s students. But beyond that, I haven’t got a specific reaction from the President.

Q Is it fair to characterize the White House as sort of neutral in this dispute?

MR. CARNEY: Well, we certainly haven’t expressed an opinion on how it should be resolved. We’re urging the sides to resolve it.

Q This has been — there are some reports that there were some Chicagoans that have brought this to the President’s attention, this coming showdown before. Can you talk –

MR. CARNEY: Not that I’m aware of. I mean, I’m not with him every moment of the day, but I — not in my presence, but I don’t know.

Tags: Barack Obama , Chicago , Jay Carney

Obama Fan at His Birthday Party: ‘We’re In a Recession Right Now.’



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White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, Wednesday: “We do not believe that there is a threat there of a double-dip recession.”

Meanwhile, an Obama supporter in Chicago Wednesday:

Leo Henton, 52, a Boeing engineer from Seattle who was on vacation with his wife, Cynthia, said that Obama was realistic in the face of stiff Republican opposition to raising taxes and cut the best deal he could.

“My opinion is that the deal is for 10 years and there’s a trigger,” said Henton, who was third in line. “We’re in a recession right now, or what sure looks like a recession to me. The heavy cuts will not come in for another two years. He did the wise thing in terms of the deal.”

I suppose they could both be right if we never really emerged from the first recession, a conclusion that the persistently high unemployment rate would seem to support.

Tags: Barack Obama , Jay Carney

Jay Carney: ‘Leadership Is Not Proposing a Plan.’



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White House press secretary Jay Carney argues, with a straight face, that leadership means waiting for House and Senate negotiators to come up with a plan:

TAPPER: OK. The House is passing something that many observers feel would never pass the Senate and the president has said he would veto. The Senate is passing — the McConnell-Reid plan, it’s not clear that that could pass the House. The Gang of Seven plan, it’s not clear that that could pass the House. Would this not be an opportune time for a president to lead and say, this —

CARNEY: Leadership is not proposing a plan for the sake of having it voted up or down, and likely voted down because it is — look, you know how this town works and how Congress works. If an individual, whether Democrat or Republican leader, steps forward and says, this is my plan and solely my plan, it makes it a lot harder for that plan to be the basis for a bipartisan compromise. The way to reach a bipartisan compromise is in bipartisan negotiations where a plan emerges that is the product of that negotiation and is supported by Republicans and Democrats and then presented. Otherwise, your chances of actually achieving something diminish greatly.

It’s good to know that the Obama doctrine applies to both domestic and foreign policy:

Obama may be moving toward something resembling a doctrine. One of his advisers described the president’s actions in Libya as “leading from behind.”

— Ryan Lizza, The New Yorker, May 2 issue

Tags: Barack Obama , Jay Carney

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