Most significantly, more Americans disapprove of the way he’s running the country than ever before. Tough times for this White House:
A closer look at the numbers is even less encouraging for the president:
Just 28 percent give the president high grades for being able to achieve his goals (down 16 points from January); only 37 percent give him high marks for being honest and straightforward (down 5 points from June); and 44 percent give him high marks for being able to handle a crisis (down another 5 points since June).
Perhaps this is why his approval ratings are sliding to historic lows?
More than half of respondents said Obamacare is the issue on which they’re judging the Commander-in-Chief. That can’t be good. For weeks there’s been disastrous news on multiple fronts about Americans losing their doctors and insurance, leading to inner strife within the ranks of the Democratic Party and (possible) civil war. Meanwhile, the law’s architects cannot defend the federal overhaul they designed. According to the survey, too, only 34 percent concede Obamacare is “a good idea” while 50 percent (the highest ever measured) say it’s “a bad idea.” Respondents are also more troubled by the law’s less-than-encouraging rollout than Republicans' perceived efforts to unravel it. Naturally, Obamacare is a political loser for Democrats, and that's already beginning to show:
More Americans prefer both chambers of Congress in the hands of Republicans than Democrats for the first time since 2011. This confirms Quinnipiac’s findings, which Guy will write up later today.
A sophisticate at the New Republic deems any controversy over the handshake to be just "silly."
Really? A bipartisan group of Cuban-American lawmakers don't see it that way. Republican Ted Cruz walked out of the memorial when Castro spoke. A New Jersey congressman, Democrat Albio Sires, denounced the handshake, noting that Mandela “stood for everything that the Castro regime has taken from the Cuban people over that past 50 years; freedom, equality, and human rights.”
Indeed, as former assistant secretary of state Otto Reich points out, Raul Castro's hands in fact have American blood on them.
And as Cuba's dictator, Human Rights Watch has reported that Raul Castro is no better than his brother Fidel. In Cuba, one can still be locked up for mere "dangerousness" -- that is, on the government's generalized suspicion that someone is likely to break Cuban law in the future. This serves as a pretext for imprisoning those who exercise basic human rights. From Human Rights Watch:
The Raul Castro government . . . uses a range of other draconian laws to silence free speech, quash labor rights, and criminalize all forms of dissent. Human rights defenders, journalists, and other civil society members tried under these laws are subjected to systematic due process violations, including abusive interrogations, the denial of legal counsel, and sham trials.
. . .
Political prisoners are subjected to widespread abuses, including forced ideological re-education, extended solitary confinement, and the denial of medical treatment for serious illnesses.
In addition to imprisoning dissenters, Raúl Castro's government also enforces political conformity using beatings, short-term detention, public acts of repudiation, and the denial of work, among other tactics. Taken together, these everyday forms of repression create a climate of fear that has a profound chilling effect on the exercise of fundamental freedoms in Cuban society.
This is the regime of the man Obama was greeting with such deference today.
Otto Reich also notes that a legitimizing handshake with an American president has been a long-held aspiration of the thuggish Castro brothers -- but withheld by presidents of both parties. That is, until today.
Early Tuesday evening, Senate Budget committee chairman Patty Murray (D-WA) and House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) announced a new two-year compromise budgetary agreement. The agreement was released ahead of the December 13 deadline and is intended to avoid another government shutdown in January.
“I’m proud of this agreement,” said Chairman Ryan. “It reduces the deficit—without raising taxes. And it cuts spending in a smarter way. It’s a firm step in the right direction, and I ask all my colleagues in the House to support it.”
“This agreement breaks through the recent dysfunction to prevent another government shutdown and roll back sequestration’s cuts to defense and domestic investments in a balanced way,” said Chairman Murray. “It’s a good step in the right direction that can hopefully rebuild some trust and serve as a foundation for continued bipartisan work.”
Reactions to the budget agreement were decidedly mixed. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) released a statement calling the budget a continuation of Washington's "irresponsible" decisions, and said that Americans deserve better. President Obama referred to the deal as a "good first step."
Despite all the fighting over the Keystone Pipeline, it is now getting some use. Oil is now being pumped into the pipeline’s southern leg, which stretches across Oklahoma to the Texas coast.
“TransCanada is pleased to confirm that at approximately 10:04 am Central Time on Saturday, December 7, 2013, the company began to inject oil into the Gulf Coast Project pipeline as it moves closer to the start of commercial service,” TransCanada spokesman Shawn Howard said in an email, according to The Houston Chronicle.
TransCanada is the developer for the pipeline. The company intends to fill the pipeline in the next few weeks with three million barrels of oil, the report says.
Unfortunately, the pipeline still isn’t able to do what it was intended to because President Obama still hasn’t approved the northern leg, which goes from Canada into the U.S.
Until Obama approves this, the energy industry waits to make major moves to help the American people. He is expected to decide on the fate of the pipeline by the end of March.
Mike Huckabee ran for president in ’08 and came up short. Now pastors and social cons alike are urging him to get back on that horse:
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a 2008 GOP presidential candidate turned media personality, is looking at another bid for the presidency, this time backed by ministers eager to put an evangelical into the White House.
Huckabee will test the waters when he returns home to Little Rock, Ark., December 12-13 to address the Arkansas Renewal Project, part of evangelical organizer David Lane's American Renewal Project. Huckabee had the support of pastors in his 2008 fight against eventual winner Sen. John McCain.
Among the potential candidates looking at a GOP bid, Huckabee is closest to the pastors. He is a social conservative who can quote the Bible as easy as former President Bill Clinton.
According to reports, pastors from Iowa and South Carolina — two key political states early in the GOP primary season — are meeting with Huckabee during the convention to urge him to run.
Will he? My suspicion is if he feels he has a fleeting chance of clinching the nomination, he’ll sign the papers. Until then, he’ll continue testing his personal brand and waiting to see if “Huckabee 2016!” has any resonance.
Earlier this year the former governor made headlines by predicting that if Republicans cave on gay marriage, the party is done. Finished. Evangelicals, he argued, “will take a walk.” That’s to say, they won’t support Democrats per se, but they sure as hell won’t back a party that sold them up the creek. And, according to him, Republicans need them to win nationally. Three years before an election, then, one wonders where presumed presidential candidates like Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul will ultimately wind up on this issue. There’s certainly room for some nuance. Huckabee, by contrast, is a reliable traditional conservative who will not “pivot” or “evolve.” His feet are firmly planted. Hence why pastors in early-voting states are urging him to run.
Huckabee, too, can also speak about Judeo-Christian values and conservatism as a force for good in the world as fluently (and convincingly) as any potential presidential candidate out there. But are GOP primary voters really willing to back an also-ran? The party seems to be moving in an entirely new direction: Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, and yes, Chris Christie, are now the faces of the Republican Party. Voters want younger, more dynamic conservative candidates -- don’t they? -- who can also appeal to young people, moderates, centrists, and conservative Democrats. Unfortunately, I’m not sure Huckabee fits that mold anymore, if he ever did.
It might be best for him to just sit this one out.
Salem Communications, America’s leading radio broadcaster, Internet content provider, and magazine and book publisher targeting audiences interested in Christian and family-themed content and conservative values, has acquired Twitchy.
Twitchy, which was created by the Michelle Malkin back in March of 2012, is unique among conservative sites for curating Twitter content and striking a humorous tone. It appeals to a young audience that breaks the stereotypical conservative mold. Malkin explains Twitchy's success:
It’s hard to believe that a little more than a year ago, we were greeted with a great deal of befuddlement and amusement. Many observers couldn’t figure out why Twitchy.com was needed, what exactly it did, and who our audience was. Fast-forward: “Twitchy’d” has become a verb and every last media outlet – new and old – is elbowing its way into the Twitter curation/aggregation space.
The acquisition will be a boon to traffic on all Salem properties, as the company's political advocacy profile continues to grow.
We at Townhall are excited for the addition of Twitchy.com to Salem Communications, which also owns Townhall.com and HotAir.com.
Will Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul run for president in 2016? That all depends on who you ask. His father, Ron Paul, told CNN he “[thinks] he probably will,” adding that “he’s been on TV hinting that he very well might.”
His mother agrees. According to The Hill, she has previously said that her son’s candidacy “feels real.” On Monday, however, Paul said it was no “slam dunk.” He also admitted last week that his wife is not currently on board with the idea of a presidential run.
Last week, the Kentucky senator told an audience that his wife’s opinion would weigh heavily on his potential bid. While she is currently a “no” vote, Paul said he is trying to persuade her otherwise.
“I tell people that there are two votes in my family, and my wife has both of them, and both of them are 'no' votes right now,” he said last week. “So if I am a very able politician, I will tell you in a year whether I’m able to persuade my wife. Right now I don’t know yet, but I thank you for your interest.”
The advice his optimistic father gave him is that he needs to be careful. “He’s doing well, he might get elected, and that’s a great burden and a major responsibility.”
Obamacare realities just became a little more intense in the Bluegrass State. Requirements in the Affordable Care Act presented Kentucky Dr. Stephen Kiteck with obstacles he “just couldn’t overcome.”
This tweet helped uncover the story:
They said it wouldn't happen.....wrong again. pic.twitter.com/kKMCvm1Clo— Dara Bailey (@darab_ic) December 9, 2013
Dr. Kiteck verified the ad to Townhall Tuesday:
“It’s pretty basic really. The reason is that Obamacare requires electronic medical records and electronic prescribing and I simply don’t have the finances at this time to go into debt to provide that for my office, it would just be a complete new transfer of electronic equipment in my office for that.
So for me, at my age, I’m just not ready to go into financial debt. Of the 20,000 pages in there, probably up to 1,000 pages are about doctors' offices."The Electronic Medical Records mandate requires an electronic overhaul by 2015 or penalization. Check out this visual of its implementation:
"I’ve got 6,000 records, some of them are two inches thick. It would just be basically impossible to scan all of these and put them on electronic medical records and very expensive, by the way,” said Dr. Kiteck, pointing to the many man hours of pay that an electronic overhaul would require.
“It’s a solo practice, I’m just a very small solo practice. I call myself a mom and pop practice,” Dr. Kiteck explained, “so I’ve had it for about twenty years here in Somerset, Kentucky.”
The ad ran for the sake of his customers, according to the doctor. It is a common courtesy to give patients a one-month notice, “I just happened to start it out with that little notice there, because so many patients have questions why you’re doing it.”
Kiteck said his ad likely opened up a Pandora’s Box. But the truth is, the box had already been opened when Obamacare was signed into law, and the frightening effects are only beginning to fly out.
According to a new Rasmussen Report, the majority of Americans do not believe the deportation of illegal immigrants living in the United States is aggressive enough.
More than 20 House Democrats last week urged President Obama to halt the deportation of illegal immigrants until Congress passes a comprehensive immigration reform plan, but voters by a two-to-one margin oppose that idea. Most already think the federal government is not vigilant enough in deporting those who are in this country illegally.
Only 29% of Likely U.S. Voters think the government should stop deporting illegal immigrants until Congress passes an immigration reform plan. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 57% oppose a halt to deportations. Fourteen percent (14%) are undecided.
Sixty percent (60%) believe the U.S. government is not aggressive enough now in deporting illegal immigrants. Fourteen percent (14%) say it is too aggressive, while 16% think the number of deportations is about right.
Further, a majority of Americans want a secure border before any kind of path to citizenship is granted for millions of illegal immigrants already living in the United States.
Just 19% of voters believe that those who are not in this country illegally should be granted legal status right away. Sixty-four percent (64%) say legalization should come only after the border is secured. Seventeen percent (17%) are not sure.
Americans believe federal government policies encourage illegal immigration instead of discouraging it. Over the past three decades, we've seen a catch and release policy being used to briefly detain illegal immigrants after a crime before being released. It is only after illegal immigrants commit a serious felony causing major bodily harm, injury or death to an American are they finally deported back to their home country. As a result of a porous border, these criminals often come back into the United States without detection.
Congress is expected to take up the issue of immigration reform early next year.