In case you missed it last night, Fox News' Megyn Kelly made her debut on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and talked about her journey from a high powered attorney to the anchor chair at 9 p.m.
"Selfie," the act of taking a picture of oneself using a smartphone and putting it online, was deemed the word of the year this year by the Oxford English Dictionary. An unfortunate spin-off of the selfie was the "funeral selfie," which Nicole wrote about a little while back.
Ever the trendy president, President Obama and two other European prime ministers decided to up the ante with the ultimate funeral selfie: Nelson Mandela's memorial service.
I don't know about President Obama, but I was always taught to turn my cell phone off or put it on vibrate while in church. If I had the gall to take a selfie during regular Sunday Mass, never mind during a funeral of a major foreign leader, my mom would have given me a look that would make Michelle Obama's look tame.
Inappropriate and tacky.
It's a term that many on the Left routinely employ to describe the sundry travails and triumphs of President Barack Obama. They believe the man is singularly historic in every conceivable way. This fact of life also -- if not especially -- applies to the nature of his opposition. The way the story goes, Barack Obama's presidency has been marred by a toxic and unique strain of political resistance. Opposing a president from the opposite party is one thing, they say, but the manner in which Republicans have treated Obama betrays something far more sinister than garden variety politics. The rarely-unspoken subtext is that the GOP's groundbreaking vitriol and obstruction has been reserved for Obama because he's black. By abiding and advancing this claim, Obama's supporters allege that conservatives have sought to delegitimize the president from his very first day in office. Ironically, the reverse is closer to the truth; dating back to the 2008 campaign, many liberals have maliciously conflated conservative objections to Obama's policies with thinly-veiled racism. Hurling the racism charge is a particularly insidious method of disqualifying Obama's critics, which is the whole point. Concerns over wrongful IRS targeting? Racism. Strenuous disapproval of Obamacare? Racism. MSNBC host Chris Matthews is one of the president's most servile and reactionary media loyalists. The former newsman has consistently been one of the Left's chief hand-wringers vis-a- vis GOP criticisms of Obama. As the administration founders under the weight of major policy failures and sinking public approval ratings (both of which Democrats blame on Republicans, naturally), Matthews' smears have grown more vituperative. Reflecting on the death of former South African president Nelson Mandela last week, the Hardball anchor fulsomely praised and adopted the analysis of career race-baiter and fellow MSNBC host Al Sharpton:
I haven’t heard anything as smart as what I heard Reverend Sharpton say a couple minutes ago in five years. That is the most perceptive thing I’ve seen. It just rocks me. The difference between the way F.W. de Klerk handled the need for change and inevitable election, democratic election of Nelson Mandela, a legitimate election, truly legitimate for the first time. [De Klerk] was never legitimately elected. For him to recognize his role in history which was to be a patriot at that point is so different than the way Mitch McConnell handled the election of Obama. So different. To set it up that way, the juxtaposition, they were willing, the McConnell people onto the far right were willing to destroy the country in order to destroy Obama, whereas to succeed in a country he loved, F.W. de Klerk was willing to see it transformed to black rule so that it could be done successfully so he would have his country have a better future. Reverend, I owe it to you. I think that is the key statement about what happened yesterday, the loss of Mandela and what his history is about and the key statement of why this has been so poisonous the last five years. We have real people in this country with real power and status who have used that status of power to hurt the country so they could hurt the president. That’s the most damming assessment I’ve heard and, I think, the truest.
Matthews shouted that the "key statement" about Mandela's passing is that it helped underscore how Sen. Mitch McConnell compares unfavorably to the last leader of South Africa's overtly racist apartheid regime. F.W. de Klerk, he announced, outclasses today's Senate Republican leader on the rubrics of patriotism and statesmanship. Think about that. The erstwhile Democratic staffer pressed his case further on Morning Joe:
Obama “has had a very difficult opposition out there … who from the very beginning wanted to destroy this presidency,” he said. “And some of it is ethnic, and some is good old ideology. But they way they treated this guy is unusual in our history...Al Gore accepted the fact, even though he won by 600,000 votes, that W. was president. And the Democrats accepted the legitimacy of George W. Bush 100 percent,” he added, when host Joe Scarborough tried to push back a bit. “There is an asymmetry here between the hard right and the Democratic center, there is a real asymmetry, Joe,” he continued. “There really is. And to say that they are both the same is not true.”
This is tendentious nonsense that betrays an aggressive form of selective memory disorder -- a malady common in hardcore partisans. Matthews misremembers and whitewashes the Bush years, which are hardly ancient history. Let's recall just a few examples of the Left's treatment of President George W. Bush: Within minutes of the 2000 election's controversial resolution, liberals were printing up bumper stickers emblazoned with slogans such as "not my president," and "selected, not elected." Clinton administration staffers removed the 'W' keys from many White House keyboards as Team Bush transitioned into office. Lefties regularly compared Bush to Hitler and apes. A feature-length film was produced
fantasizing about depicting Bush's assassination, to critical acclaim. Senate Democrats launched unprecedented filibusters against Bush's lower-court judicial nominees, opposing one exceptionally-qualified pick in part because "he is Latino." (When Republicans answered in kind during the Obama years, Senate Democrats broke Senate rules and nuked the filibuster). In order to obstruct Bush from making contentious recess appointments, Democrats pioneered a practice that technically kept the Senate in session in perpetuity. (When Republicans answered in kind during the Obama years, Obama simply decreed that the Senate was in recess, and made his appointments anyway). Harry Reid called President Bush "a loser." Keith Olbermann, then a host on Matthews' network, bellowed at the top of his lungs on-air that "Mr. Bush" should "shut the hell up." While much is made of the small right-wing faction that doubts President Obama's status as a natural born citizen, far less attention has been paid to the 51 percent of self-identified Democrats who told pollsters in 2006 that they believe it was at least "somewhat" or "very" likely that Bush administration officials suppressed advanced warnings of the 9/11 attacks in order to precipitate, and presumably profit from, war. Indeed, several Democratic members of Congress indulged those insane accusations, as did a future Obama appointee. If ever there were an arresting and self-explanatory illustration of the depth and ferocity of Democrats' unhinged anti-Bush nuttery, it is Dana Milbank's Washington Post column published on June 17, 2005:
In the Capitol basement yesterday, long-suffering House Democrats took a trip to the land of make-believe. They pretended a small conference room was the Judiciary Committee hearing room, draping white linens over folding tables to make them look like witness tables and bringing in cardboard name tags and extra flags to make the whole thing look official. Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) banged a large wooden gavel and got the other lawmakers to call him "Mr. Chairman." He liked that so much that he started calling himself "the chairman" and spouted other chairmanly phrases, such as "unanimous consent" and "without objection so ordered." The dress-up game looked realistic enough on C-SPAN, so two dozen more Democrats came downstairs to play along. The session was a mock impeachment inquiry over the Iraq war. As luck would have it, all four of the witnesses agreed that President Bush lied to the nation and was guilty of high crimes -- and that a British memo on "fixed" intelligence that surfaced last month was the smoking gun equivalent to the Watergate tapes...
At Democratic headquarters, where an overflow crowd watched the hearing on television, activists handed out documents repeating two accusations -- that an Israeli company had warning of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and that there was an "insider trading scam" on 9/11 -- that previously has been used to suggest Israel was behind the attacks. The event organizer, Democrats.com, distributed stickers saying "Bush lied/100,000 people died." One man's T-shirt proclaimed, "Whether you like Bush or not, he's still an incompetent liar," while a large poster of Uncle Sam announced: "Got kids? I want yours for cannon fodder." Conyers's firm hand on the gavel could not prevent something of a free-for-all; at one point, a former State Department worker rose from the audience to propose criminal charges against Bush officials. Early in the hearing, somebody accidentally turned off the lights; later, a witness knocked down a flag. Matters were even worse at Democratic headquarters, where the C-SPAN feed ended after just an hour, causing the activists to groan and one to shout "Conspiracy!"
Read the whole thing for bonus moonbattery. Just imagine the reaction if House Republican back-benchers decided to conduct faux impeachment proceedings against Barack Obama somewhere in the bowels of the Capitol. The media's ridicule and opprobrium would be deafening. Indeed, Chris Matthews may feel compelled to host a special four-hour edition of Hardball to explore the distressing racial angles to the "unprecedented" spectacle, replete with expert guests on white supremacist militias and dog-whistles -- and, of course, Joan Walsh. But enough of this hypothetical scenario. Democrats' actual Bush-era theatrics negate any need for parodic speculation. Because Chris Matthews' memory is evidently too spotty to recall the events of the mid-2000's, perhaps he'll manage to remember what transpired in Wisconsin just last year. Badger State Democrats, cheered on by their counterparts in Washington, attempted to oust the state's duly-elected governor via a do-over election. Scott Walker's crime? Using the democratic process to implement budget reforms that liberals and Big Labor vehemently opposed.
The organized Left pulled out all the disruptive stops to block these measures from even receiving a vote. Thousands of left-wingers occupied the capitol rotunda in Madison, issuing death threats against Walker and other Republicans. A horde of protesters chased the terrified family of the Senate Majority Leader from their home. 'Walker = Hitler' placards were ubiquitous, an ignorant comparison that was echoed by at least one Democratic member of the state legislature. State senate Democrats fled to Illinois, where they shacked up in a hotel, to obstruct a vote on the governor's proposal. When they were eventually defeated on the yeas and nays, Wisconsin's Democrats instigated a furious recall effort, wasting millions on an ill-fated attempt remove the state's chief executive from office -- not over malfeasance, mind you, but over policy disputes. Forget isolated outbursts ("you lie!") and expressions of explicit (albeit unremarkable) partisanship. When Mitch McConnell and company collectively decamp to Canada to prevent budget votes, while Michelle Bachmann and dozens of her colleagues stage a conspiracy theory-laden mock impeachment trial in a Capitol Hill basement, Chris Matthews may have a leg to stand on. And even then, such extreme manifestations of anti-Obama sentiment would not be "unprecedented!"
In the 1940s, the state of Virginia sterilized 7,325 people under a cruel law preventing people with mental illness, developmental disabilities or epilepsy from having children in hopes of creating an “American master race.”
Now, eugenics survivors like E. Lewis Reynolds are seeking compensation from the state for denying them the joy of children.
“I’d like to see them do something for me, because I always wanted a family, too. Just like anybody else. All my brothers got family, and I got none.”
Dr. Joseph DeJarnette, a Western State Hospital superintendent in the 20th century, promoted compulsory sterilization with the reasoning it would “save Virginia millions of dollars.” He also once compared humans to cattle, arguing they should only breed “good stock.”
Other apparent eugenics supporters included Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger:
Sanger stringently pushed a policy of the government compensating poor citizens in exchange with a poor person’s agreement to be sterilized as a means of population control. “In this way,” Sanger said, “the moron and the diseased would have no posterity to inherit their condition.”
Unfortuantely, DeJarnette and Sanger both failed to realize the potential of every human life.
While North Carolina recently passed a law to give out $10 million in reparations to eugenics survivors, the state of Virginia has rejected similar legislation because it doesn’t have the money, according to opponents. The state’s Department of Planning and Budget estimated that 1,465 affected Virginians could be alive, equaling a compensation cost of nearly $73.3 million.
Nonetheless, lawmakers are determined to seek justice for those who were treated so unjustly. One man behind the effort to provide these Virginians compensation is Mark Bold, the executive director of the Christian Law Institute.
During the 2013 legislative session, Bold worked with Del. Robert Marshall, R-Prince William, and Del. Patrick Hope, D-Arlington, — a pairing of one of the most conservative lawmakers with one of the most liberal — to seek compensation of $50,000 per person.
“We have a new governor and that makes me optimistic,” Hope said in an email. “But as with anything that costs money, it will be a heavy lift in a tight budget environment.”
A heavy lift it may be, but one perhaps well worth it, especially when considering the nightmares people like Mary Shirkey experienced:
Mary Shirkey, 64, who said she was institutionalized because of seizures and apparently because of a severe speech defect that hampered her schooling, recalled being sent to the “blind room” for violating the rules. There were no lights and no bathroom facilities in the room, where a patient might be locked up for hours.
No dollar amount could replace the children these eugenics survivors will never have, yet some recognition from the state may be due these victims after being literally scarred for life.
If the bipartisan effort succeeds, payments would be distributed in June 2015.
“Virginia has a moral obligation to rectify this profound wrong,” Marshall said. “If you did a moral wrong, you have to do a moral right.”
Former CIA Director, Secretary of Defense, decorated First Lieutenant, and decades-long veteran of the federal government Leon Panetta was candid in an interview with Foreign Policy.
He criticized the gridlock in Washington, said America should engage with Iran, and revealed that he wished President Obama had gone through with the strike on Assad's regime in Syria.
- Washington is suffering from a "breakdown in trust"
- Young people in general are disappointed in public service
- Congress is behind NSA/CIA intelligence activities
- Obama's drone war is a good strategy
Because Panetta worked in Washington for most of his life, his comments on gridlock merit closer attention.
He faulted the Republican Congress's obstinacy and, to a lesser extent, President Obama's inability to reach out to legislators (emphasis mine):
President Obama is dealing with a Congress -- and particularly a House of Representatives -- that is probably the most difficult I've seen in 50 years of public service...Yes, it's the Republicans, it's [House Speaker] John Boehner, it's the leadership in Congress, but it's also the president in terms of his ability to work with people and try to get things done.
Panetta was also cynical about Syria and Iran. With regards to Syria, he said he "would have preferred an attack on President Bashar al-Assad's regime." Now that negotiations are underway, he thinks the U.S. should keep its options open. Although Panetta believes President Hassan Rouhani of Iran is "willing to engage," he says moving forward on its nuclear program is going to be very difficult.
See Foreign Policy for the full interview.
Yesterday, The New York Times reported that President Obama had hired former-President Clinton Chief of Staff John Podesta as "counselor" for a year.
This would actually be the second time Podesta served Obama, since Podesta led Obama's presidential transition team in 2008. Since then, Podesta has not only returned to the progressive think tank he founded, the Center for American Progress (CAP), but he has also created a brand new think tank, the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, to focus on just income inequality.
So just what will Podesta be doing for Obama this time around? The NYT reports:
Mr. Podesta will help [Obama’s chief of staff, Denis] McDonough on matters related to the health care law, administration organization and executive actions, said a person familiar with the plans, and will focus in particular on climate change issues, a personal priority of Mr. Podesta’s.
It is those "executive actions" that conservatives, and really anybody who claims to honor the United States Constitution, should worry about.
After Obama was soundly rejected by the American voters in 2010, Podesta penned a report for CAP titled, "The Power of the President," writing:
Concentrating on executive powers presents a real opportunity for the Obama administration to turn its focus away from a divided Congress and the unappetizing process of making legislative sausage. ... It would be a welcome relief from watching legislative maneuvering to see the work of a strong executive who is managing the business of the country through troubled times.
Since that report was published, Obama has completely ignored Congress on a wide variety of issues, from immigration to energy, instead asserting his own power as president to make law as he, and he alone, sees fit.
The move to hire Podesta now, as opposed to waiting till after the 2014 elections, is an admission by the White House that their second term legislative agenda (immigration reform, gun control, and climate change) is already dead.
If progressives are going to make any progress expanding government during the rest of Obama's presidency, it will only be through unilateral executive action. It will not be sanctioned by Congress.
Here’s how CNN covered the handshake heard ‘round the world (via TWS)
“This is a man, and it is so true, who brought people together in life and he continues to bring people together in death.”
If you like your prescription medicine and want to keep your prescription medicine, you may have a leetle bit of a problem under ObamaCare. The Washington Post helpfully explains.
Rather than simply having the option of picking a plan that offers prescription drug coverage for an extra cost, now prescription drug coverage is one of the "10 essential benefits" (sort of like the maternity coverage for the geriatric set, I guess) that every health insurance policy will now cover, courtesy of a US government mandate by the US government.
But that doesn't mean you will necessarily get what you want -- or need. Yes, there's prescription drug coverage -- but not for all drugs. Just for "at least one drug in every category and class in the U.S. Pharmacopeia, the official list of approved medicines." It's a little like every plan being required to cover obstetric care . . . just not necessarily with the doctor you have and like -- or the hospital that you want to use.
As the Post notes, it's best to be careful when you're shopping for a new plan:
Your co-pay or co-insurance — the amount that you’re responsible for — could vary enormously. Some plans may ask you to pay $30 for a medicine while others could charge you $1,000 for the exact same thing, so be sure to check the name of the drug and the specific dosage you need. Don’t forget to find out whether the plan covers the number of monthly doses needed. If you are taking medication for a chronic condition or something that has a high retail price, you may want to ask whether your plan maintains a separate list of specialty pharmaceuticals that are covered.
Sound complicated? You're only getting started:
You should pay attention to a few other things, including whether the drug requires authorization under certain plans. This could be time-consuming and means you’re not guaranteed access to the medication. Also, you should find out whether there is any “step” requirement — meaning that your doctor may have to try a different drug first and provide documentation that it failed before the insurer will cover another medicine.
So if you suffer from migraines, for example, you may have to go without the medicine that you know actually works -- to give your doctor time to document that you were sick as a dog with all the other available options.
Got a medicine you need, but thanks to ObamaCare, it's not on the approved list? Don't worry! The Post chirps:
Your doctor can ask for an exception for medical need so that the insurer will cover it. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is encouraging insurers to respond to such requests within three days. If your request is denied, you can go through your state’s appeals process, which usually is handled by insurance regulators.
I bet that's a speedy, pleasant process! Finally, if all else fails, the Post concedes:
If you still can’t get coverage and need to take the drug, you’ll have to bear the full cost out of pocket, as it won’t count toward your deductible or your co-insurance maximum.
Thanks, ObamaCare. Now it's not just health insurance and doctors that Americans may lose -- it's their prescription drugs, too. Way to go.
On Monday, with only minutes to spare, Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Tex) unexpectedly filed the necessary paper work to primary his fellow Texas Republican, Sen. John Cornyn. Cornyn is up for re-election next year.
Let the fireworks begin:
Texas Republican Party spokesman Spencer Yeldell confirmed reports that Stockman withdrew his application for his congressional seat and filed papers to run in the Senate race.
Monday was the filing deadline to enter the race. The primary is March 4.
Stockman was elected to the House last year and has been an outspoken critic of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
Cornyn was elected to his second term in 2008, taking 55% of the vote against Democrat Rick Noriega.
Question: Why is Stockman (a fiery Tea Partier himself) primarying a guy National Journal described as recently as last year as the second most conservative member of the upper chamber? Because he betrayed Ted Cruz, or something (via WND):
Stockman told WND he is filing the paperwork Monday evening and that he is running against his fellow Republican because, “We are extremely disappointed in the way he treated his fellow congressmen and broke the 11th commandment and undermined (Sen.) Ted Cruz’s fight to stop Obamacare.”
The Texan added, “And now, it looks like Cruz was right and Cornyn was wrong. He (Cornyn) sided with the president, essentially, in making sure Obamacare became law while Cruz did everything possible to stop it.”
It wasn’t just what Cornyn did, but how he did it, that rankled Stockman.
“If you disagree with someone, that’s fine, but I really believe you should do it privately, not so publicly,” he said. “He made a big show of removing his name from a letter supporting Cruz.”
For their part, some on the Right would perhaps welcome this fight. Cornyn, they argue, isn’t a True Conservative anyway:
John Cornyn is an establishment Republican who's hostile to grassroots conservatives. Replacing him w/ Steve Stockman would be a big upgrade— John Hawkins (@johnhawkinsrwn) December 10, 2013
Since Stockman is apparently jumping into this race because Cornyn stabbed Ted Cruz in the back, so to speak, how will the junior Senator react to the news? Will he back the “establishment” candidate, even though Cornyn famously abstained from endorsing him when he had the chance? Or will he just sit this primary out? Or, better yet, will he throw all his weight behind Stockman? Now that would make things interesting. But for whatever reason Cruz has reportedly hinted he won't directly help conservative challengers unseat Republican incumbents. So there's that.
As expected, a Cruz spokesman told the DC that Texas’ junior senator is “unlikely” to take sides:
Cornyn’s fellow Texas Republican Senator, Ted Cruz, whom many of those outside groups tout as an ideal of what a Senator should be, has praised Cornyn, but declined to endorse him. Reached for comment, Cruz’s press secretary Catherine Frazier told The Daily Caller that Cruz still felt he was “unlikely to get involved in incumbent primary races.”
I suspect he’ll let the two Republicans duke it out just like Cornyn himself did last year when Ted Cruz and David Dewhurst were vying for the Republican nomination to occupy the open seat the former currently holds. But if that’s the case, Stockman would almost certainly need some other kind of game-changer to make this race interesting. After all, starting off in debt isn’t a winning campaign strategy, especially when attempting to unseat a popular (conservative) incumbent from a state as red as Texas:
Cornyn, the GOP whip, spent four years running the party’s Senate campaign. He has $7 million in the bank and access to plenty more, whereas Stockman’s campaign is in the red, with $32,027 cash on hand and $163,010 in debt.
Editor's note: This post has been updated.
"Propaganda is a strong word but..."