We will, of course, have to wait for Congress to ratify President Barack Obama´s nominees for his new national security team (which is by no means a foregone conclusion), but the very fact that he has nominated people like John Kerry and Chuck Nagel tells you all you need to know about where American foreign policy will be heading during Mr Obama´s second term at the White House. The obvious difference between Mr Obama´s nominations for his new security/foreign policy team is that these are Mr Obama´s appointments, rather than those he was obliged to make, which was very much
Health Reform: The latest government report on national health spending provides more evidence that ObamaCare will act as poison to a health care system that was already on the mend. In 2011, the last year for which data are available, spending on health care climbed just 3.9% for the third year in a row. The press is dismissing it as the result of the recession, while the Obama administration claims ObamaCare deserves credit. Neither is true. Health spending skyrocketed during previous economic slumps — it saw double digit increases during the deep, prolonged 1981-82 downturn, for example.
It´s a frequently heard lament: Why can´t Washington get along and compromise on the big issues of the day? The federal government is, of course, divided, with the Democrats owning the White House and the Senate, the Republicans in control of the House. The division, though, didn´t begin in Washington. It has been created by the voters, and the gap between the sides is so wide that there seems to be no ground for compromise. Given the deep polarization found in the country, lawmakers simply cannot find common cause without betraying their constituencies.
Article 1 Sect. 7 of the U.S. Constitution begins, "All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives." The framers put the House in charge of taxes because House members — elected every two years from small districts — would be the first to know if a tax were unfair or burdensome. House Republicans who voted for the fiscal cliff bill, despite its being stuffed with tax favors for Hollywood, alternative energy companies and the president´s other favorite constituents, disgraced this mandate. Whatever Americans think about raising taxes, they agree that paying higher
It´s OK. Donna Laframboise hasn´t been involved in some terrible scandal in which she has been caught hiding declines or faking evidence or breaching FOI requests or anything. That´s the other side´s speciality, not ours. But I thought she deserved a gate named after her, nonetheless, for her latest scoop: leaking the IPCC´s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) on to the internet--in time for honest blogging folk to unpick it before it gets spun by the usual alarmist suspects.[Snip]It was her excellent The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken For The World´s Top Climate Expert, of course, which did more than anything
Washington - Administration officials said publicly for the first time Tuesday that the U.S. might leave no American troops in Afghanistan after the end of combat in December 2014, an option that defies the view of Pentagon officials who say thousands of U.S. troops could be needed there to keep a lid on Al Qaeda and to strengthen the Afghan army and police. (Snip) Asked in a conference call with reporters whether zero was now an option, Rhodes said, "That would be an option we would consider." His statement comes just three days before Afghan President Hamid Karzai
Fort Meade, Maryland - A military judge on Tuesday reduced the potential sentence for an Army private accused of sending reams of classified documents to the WikiLeaks website. Col. Denise Lind made the ruling during a pretrial hearing at Fort Meade for Pfc. Bradley Manning. Lind found that Manning suffered illegal pretrial punishment during nine months in a Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va. (Snip) Manning was confined to a windowless cell 23 hours a day, sometimes with no clothing. Brig officials say it was to keep him from hurting himself or others.
If we reach the following highly unpleasant conclusion, what are the implications? The United States has taken a political turn which, at least for the next four years, will guarantee that it does not play the role of a great power mindful of and willing to protect its own true interests, to support its allies, and to combat its real foes. On the contrary, through inaction or active effort the leadership of America will take counterproductive actions that achieve the opposite result. And there are certain factors — radical ideological hegemony, a weak economy
Vice President Joe Biden, who is heading up the President’s task force on gun control proposals, announced Tuesday that he would be meeting this week with the National Rifle Association, among other groups. And his timing is just a bit suspect; the day before meeting with the NRA, Biden will be meeting with gun control organizations and shooting victims. Presumably, his welcome for the NRA will be somewhat less hearty. The NRA, under heavy public pressure thanks to the White House’s bully tactics after the Sandy Hook massacre, said it would visit the White House to “hear what they have
With more than half of U.S. states experiencing high levels of flu-like illness -- and flu activity continuing to rise, ERs across the country are seeing a surge in business -- and some are struggling to keep up. Currently, 29 states and New York City are reporting high levels of influenza-like-illness (ILI), and another nine states are reporting moderate levels of ILI. This season, 18 children have died from flu-associated deaths. This year's predominant flu (76 percent) is very similar to a type that caused a severe season in 2003-2004, when the flu shot wasn't a good match and there were more than
LOS ANGELES- Walt Disney Co started an internal cost-cutting review several weeks ago that may include layoffs at its studio and other units, three people with knowledge of the effort told Reuters, in an early sign that big companies may not be finished tightening their belts. Disney, whose empire spans TV, film, merchandise and theme parks, is exploring cutbacks in jobs it no longer needs because of improvements in technology, one of the people said. It is also looking at redundant operations that could be eliminated following a string of major acquisitions over the past few years,
Oh to have been a fly on the wall for this one. In the wake of Al Gore´s Current TV being sold to Al Jazeera, the Islamist world´s equivalent of MSNBC, Geraldo Rivera was reminded of Gore´s holier-than-thou attitude the last time they met. (audio clip after page break)-Rivera described their encounter to Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol on Rivera´s radio show (h/t for audio, Brian Maloney at mrctv.org) -- RIVERA: Let me tell you, I gotta tell you a quick story about the last time I was with Al Gore.
A new poll released Tuesday finds the national favorability of Congress has again slipped into single digits, with American´s elected officials now polling lower than painful medical procedures and a certain Canadian rock band. The survey, from Democratic firm Public Policy Polling, showed Congress with a mere 9 percent favorability rating. By contrast, 85 percent of voters see legislators in a negative way. Congress didn´t fare much better when compared against a wide swath of generally disliked staples of modern life. Asked for their preference between Congress and lice, the microscopic insects
Actress Eva Longoria, a prominent supporter and fundraiser for President Obama, will lead an Hispanic tribute to the president during the inauguration festivities. The event, which will also feature actors Melanie Griffith, George Lopez, Mario Lopez and others, will take place Jan. 20th at the Kennedy Center. Obama will take the formal oath of office that day at the White House (as required by the Constitution) and then will have a ceremonial swearing-in on Monday at the Capital, where he will give his inaugural address. Longoria is a co-chairwoman of the 2013 Presidential Inaugural Committee.
The federal government ran up a $293 billion deficit in the first quarter of fiscal 2013, which ended Dec. 31, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated Tuesday. The government´s fiscal year starts on Oct. 1st. At this pace, the deficit would be on pace to top $1 trillion for the fifth-straight year in 2013. All the trillion-dollar deficits have taken place under President Obama. By the White House’s own estimate, the New Year’s Eve tax deal with Congress will only reduce the deficit by $4 billion this year, once increased spending such as on unemployment benefits
After Newtown, Conn., parents cried out, “What’s making our children kill?” But it is not our children who are killing. It is our sons. All but one of the 62 mass killings in the past 30 years was committed by boys or men. We respond by blaming guns, our inattentiveness to mental health, violence in the media or video games, or family values. All are players, but our daughters find the same guns in the same homes, are about as likely to be mentally ill, have the same family values and are exposed to the same violence in the media. Our daughters, however, do not kill. Why the difference?
“1,350”-- The number of days since the Senate last passed a budget, April 29, 2009. Simple ideas are usually the best ones, and the latest idea for dealing with the looming battle over the federal debt limit is beautifully simple. No, Power Play is not talking about the $1 trillion platinum coin nor the idea that the president could simply declare the limit lifted under the ambiguous powers of the 14th Amendment (good luck borrowing money from anyone but Ben Bernanke after either ploy). The simple solution that might avoid the pending panic is to actually pass a federal budget,
Cyclist Lance Armstrong once offered a large "donation" to the same agency that recently concluded he and his team had used illegal substances, causing him to be stripped of his seven Tour de Frances wins. The brazenly inappropriate gesture made to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency is recounted by the agency´s CEO Travis Tygart, (SNIP) Armstrong once gave the International Cycling Union, a regulatory body for his sport, a gift of $100,000. Tygart called that "totally inappropriate." Then someone representing Armstrong tried to give USADA a large sum of money sometime in 2004.
CENTENNIAL, Colo. - An elaborate booby trap system allegedly set up to pull police away from the Colorado theater shooting included improvised napalm and thermite, which burns so hot that water can´t put out the blaze. FBI bomb technician Garret Gumbinner described the system Tuesday at a hearing in which prosecutors laid out their case against suspected gunman James Holmes. He said three different ignition systems were found in Holmes´ apartment. There was a thermos full of glycerin leaning over a skillet full of another chemical. Flames and sparks are created when they mix, and a trip
French Budget Minister Jerome Cahuzac is under investigation for tax fraud after a media report that he had an undeclared UBS account in Geneva which he then moved to Asia, prosecutors said Tuesday. Cahuzac, who is in charge of battling tax evasion, has denied the report by the respected Mediapart investigative website that he had an undeclared Swiss account which he then transferred to Singapore.
Qatar said on Tuesday it will increase its financial aid to Egypt by $2.5 billion to a total of $5 billion, comprising an outright grant of $1 billion and $4 billion in bank deposits. The financial lifeline comes as Egypt battles a currency crisis and seeks an IMF cash injection into its teetering economy of an almost equivalent amount. Qatar´s Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim told a Cairo press conference that the gas-rich emirate had doubled its previously announced aid, which comprised $500 million as a grant and $2 billion in bank deposits. "The sum is there," Sheikh Hamad said.
If Barack Obama wants a fight over his appointment of Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense, the Republicans have a constitutional responsibility to give him one. The Senate’s role, to “advise and consent” to the appointment, is a description of duty, not a command to “echo and obey,” which is the president’s idea of how Congress should respond to all of his appointments, legislation, whims, wishes and dreams. Mr. Obama, like all other presidents, is entitled to choose his aides, helpers, assistants, deputies and seconds, subject to the advice of the Senate,
Hugo Chávez and the Castro brothers knew in the summer of 2011 that the Venezuelan’s chances of survival were almost nil and began to prepare for a post-Chávez era. They would try to cure the loquatious lieutenant colonel, of course, but ever since the doctors realized the type of cancer he had (an aggressive and rare rhabdomyosarcoma), the gravity and extent of the metastasis and the delay in taking him to the operating room, nobody had any illusions. But for a miracle, Chávez was sentenced to an early death.
One of the least-wise provisions of the Affordable Care Act is a plan to fine firms with over 50 employees that don´t provide health insurance to their workers to the tune of $2,000 per full-time worker. The natural response for many firms is to do exactly what Ned Resnikoff reports some Wendy´s and Taco Bell franchisees are doing and cut workers´ hours to below the 30 hours per week threshold, thus avoiding the fine. (Snip) But we should worry about the longer-term impact here. The origin of this policy, as I understand it, is in concerns expressed
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — A Florida appellate court is being asked Tuesday to decide whether Casey Anthony was in police custody when she made statements that led to her being convicted of four counts of lying to law enforcement officers. Anthony´s attorneys are appealing the misdemeanor convictions on the grounds that her statements were inadmissible at her murder trial since she hadn´t been read her Miranda rights, which warn suspects that they can remain silent and that their statements can be used against them in court. The three judges on the Fifth District Court
Opponent of Chuck Hagel´s nomination to be secretary of defense have been lining up for battle, citing concerns about the former senator’s position on Israel. Notably absent from the cast of critics: the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, Washington’s largest and most well funded pro-Israel lobby. The powerful lobby, which doesn’t typically shy away from a fight, has decided to sit this one out, say several House and Senate staff members, as well as some pro-Israel activists in Washington. “Staffers and members are trying to find out what AIPAC thinks of Hagel, and we are not getting