Draper has released a book titled "Front Row Seat: A Photographic Portrait of the Presidency of George W. Bush" that displays a handful of the more than four million photos he took as chief White House photographer.
In an interview with ABC News Sunday, Draper discussed his time photographing the former president:
"My job was not to be a distraction. My job was to purely document," Draper told ABC. "That was a very unique role in the White House, to have that much access to the president not to be a participant in the meetings, but to be an observer."
Draper photographs range from "surprise, unscripted moments" like reactions to the 9/11 attack, to more intimate, personal moments between the former president and his wife, former First Lady Laura Bush.
Head over to the Daily Mail to see more of Eric Draper’s photographs.
Speaking from the tarmac of Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, President Barack Obama marked the beginning of his first trip to Israel as president with a speech reaffirming America’s “unbreakable bond” to Israel.
The president joked with Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu saying “it’s good to get away from Congress.” Mr. Obama also called this trip “a chance to speak directly to Israelis and [its] neighbors,” a highly symbolic event considering Mr. Obama’s failure to visit the Jewish state in his first term.
Following a recent poll by Israeli daily Ma’ariv showing only 10% of Israelis view President Obama “favorably” and 38% believe the president is hostile to Israel, Obama’s visit serves as an attempt to revive ties with the Israeli people. The president will not speak in front of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, but has instead chosen to speak directly to students at an Israeli university.
This speech to Israeli students is designed to help Obama gain approval amongst the Israeli people, a strategy that could give him leverage over Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu. After Netanyahu’s weak win in the most recent election, the Israeli president must closely follow the opinions of the Israeli people if he hopes to remain in power in the coming years. That said, if Obama can gain greater support from the Israelis, he will simultaneously gain leverage over Netanyahu when it comes to diplomatic decisions in the future.
Further, Obama also hopes to gain support from the Israeli people by visiting the Dead Sea Scrolls, a gesture symbolizing the Jewish people’s 2,000-year old claim to the land. “In his Cairo speech, he did defend Israel, but bought into a narrative that Israel was only created because of the Holocaust. He is trying to establish another narrative about Israel that is about Zionism,” says Martin Indyk, former US ambassador to Israel now at the Brookings Institution.
While Obama’s trip to Israel is highly symbolic for both Americans and Israelis, expectations are low that the visit will yield any significant results with the Arab-Israeli peace process.
With the conclave to elect the next pope set for Tuesday, the College of Cardinals has been meeting all week to discuss the priorities of the church and the qualities its new pope must possess. Further, the College of Cardinals must also consider the attitudes of the Catholic people when electing the next pope.
A Quinnipiac University poll released Friday indicates that while 52% of Catholics said the church is moving in the right direction, 52% of those polled also said the church is out of touch with the views of Catholics in America.
The poll also showed increased Catholic support for same-sex marriage. Amid growing support for same-sex marriage nationwide, the poll indicates that 54% of American Catholic voters stand for gay marriage while 37% oppose it.
Interestingly, only 47% of Americans polled support same-sex marriage, suggesting “"Catholic voters are leading American voters toward support for same-sex marriage," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
Along with an increased support for same-sex marriage, 62% of Catholics polled said the next pope should allow priests to marry, and 64% believe he should relax the church ban on contraception.
These numbers certainly show a significant evolution in the views of American-Catholics so it will be interesting to see how much the College of Cardinals considers these numbers when choosing the next pope.
The California Board of Equalization voted 3 to 2 yesterday to increase the tax on gas from 36 cents per gallon to 39.5 cents per gallon, about a 10% increase. This increased excise tax is set to go into effect July 1.
Instead of correctly labeling this as a tax hike, however, state legislators are instead calling it an adjustment mandated by law:
"A lot of people have the misperception that the board of equalization is raising your tax. We don't have the authority to raise taxes. We are mandated by the legislature to adjust so that we have revenue neutrality," said Jaime Garza, spokesman with the California Board of Equalization.
Garza is referring to the 2010 state legislation that changed California’s gas taxation system to re-appropriate some of the gas tax revenue from road maintenance to other areas. The excise tax has increased multiple times since this change, but only by fractions of cents.
This newly approved legislation will move California from the #2 to the #1 spot—just behind New York—on the list of states with the highest gas taxes.
Some state legislators are citing a $157 million shortfall in gas tax revenue in fiscal year 2012 and a projection of less consumption by California drivers. However, other legislators are taking issue with the lack of transparency by the state. Board member George Runner, who voted “no” on the increase, said the state should not try to predict volatile gas prices.
Democratic legislators disagree, saying the 2010 gas taxation system change was put in place to ensure constant revenue from gas taxes. Board member Betty Yee, who voted to increase the excise tax, said “we do it based on the best information possible. The rate was to be set so there still would be revenue."
Democratic Representative Earl Blumenauer introduced his new legislation today allowing states to legalize medical marijuana. While nineteen states already allow the use of medical marijuana, federal law still considers it illegal. These incongruent policies create a significant legal grey area because medical marijuana users can be prosecuted under federal law even though they have been granted such rights under state law.
Under the Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is considered a Schedule I substance, which is on the same level as heroin and LSD. As the most severe listing, the Schedule I classification is used for drugs that are believed to have “no currently accepted medical use in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse.” However, several states in the U.S. have legalized the use of medical marijuana, contradicting this classification.
Blumenauer’s main argument is that this inconsistency between federal and state marijuana policy creates a “legal environment that wastes law enforcement resources and misses out on potential tax revenues.”
In his introduction of the legislation, Blumenauer argues that, in the past, marijuana has been seen as harmful and addictive; however, American views of marijuana are changing. Today, more than half of American adults have used marijuana (recreationally or medicinally) and sixty-four percent of Americans are against federal enforcement of anti-marijuana laws in states where marijuana is legal.
Blumenauer also says that “too often people are serving time in jail for using a drug that nearly half the nation’s population feels should be legal for recreational purposes and 70 percent feel should be legal for medicinal purposes.” This FBI report reveals that police in the U.S. arrest someone for marijuana every 42 seconds. Considering the rapidly evolving views of the drug in our country, it’s interesting to see that marijuana use, even medicinally, is punished so heavily.
According to the Congressman’s website, Blumenauer supports legislation that would:
• Allow states to enact existing marijuana laws without federal interference – Congressman Blumenauer supports legislation to allow states to enforce their laws without fear of interference by the federal government.
• Tax and regulate marijuana – Considering the growing number of jurisdictions that have legalized medical marijuana and the two jurisdictions that have legalized recreational use, it is time that Congress removes the federal prohibition on marijuana. Congressman Blumenauer supports legislation to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and create a regulatory and taxation framework similar to what is in place for alcohol and tobacco.
• Remove ban on industrial hemp – Congressman Blumenauer supports ending the ban on industrial hemp by removing industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana. This would allow a new agricultural industry to begin to flourish in the United States.
• Allow the marijuana industry to operate in a normal business environment – Federal banking regulations make it difficult for any marijuana business to obtain loans, open bank accounts, or take advantage of services offered to other businesses. Congressman Blumenauer supports immediately removing tax and banking barriers to allow legitimate businesses to operate in states that have legalized marijuana for medical and recreational use.
• Create a sensible drug policy working group – Congressman Blumenauer is forming a Sensible Drug Policy Working Group to educate members of Congress and their staff on the facts of marijuana use and national drug policy, and work to coordinate efforts to pass a comprehensive legislative package to address the issues highlighted above.
California has been at the forefront of ObamaCare implementation, but state lawmakers are facing a major obstacle: There aren’t enough doctors in the state to treat the expected influx of newly-insured patients.
A government council has recommended a physician-to-population ratio of 60 to 80 primary care doctors per 100,000 residents. Only 16 of California’s 58 counties reach this recommended supply of primary care physicians.
With ObamaCare, it’s only going to get worse.
The huge influx of newly-insured patients with ObamaCare is not the only reason for this lack of doctors. In a recent Physicians Foundation Survey, 13,575 doctors were asked how the passage of ObamaCare has affected their feelings about the future of healthcare in America. 59.3% of those surveyed said they were “less positive” about the future of American healthcare.
More than half of these physicians plan to cut back on patients, switch to cash only, or quit in the next three years. In fact, 60% of doctors surveyed said they would retire today if they could.
So, what’s California’s solution to this lack of doctors?
Redefine who can provide healthcare. Broaden the definition of “primary care provider” to include physician assistants, pharmacists, and even optometrists.
Doctors say this could greatly threaten patient safety. But, at a meeting for healthcare advocates this past December, Diana Dooley, Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, said “We're going to have to provide care at lower levels. I think a lot of people are trained to do work that our licenses don't allow them to.”
What’s more important: access to care or patient safety?
National Conference of State Legislatures has reported about 350 laws altering the scope of practice of health professionals have been enacted nationwide in the last two years.
The California Medical Association says healthcare professionals should not exceed their training, but they have a different solution: Increase funding to expand participation in a loan repayment program for recent medical school graduates. The hope is that such a program may provide an incentive for these new doctors to practice in under-served communities in order to pay off their loans.
Regardless, such a program cannot increase the number of physicians in the short-term. According to Paul Hensler, Kern Medical Center’s Chief Executive, California is “going to have to get a whole lot more creative about how care is provided.”
“They want Iran to go back to what it was in the past, but they won’t succeed. They assume we’ll give in to pressure; such thoughts are misguided. We’re already an industrial and nuclear country, a country that has conquered space. For years we have been thinking about sending a human being into space, and we will do that, with Allah’s help. We must ensure development and growth and bring them to pass, and the world must acknowledge our progress.”Such nuclear “progress” is terrifying when we consider Ahmadinejad’s past comments regarding Israel’s existence. The Iranian President has described Israel as a “cancerous tumor” that must be eliminated. It’s hard to believe that Ahmadinejad could simply change his mind about destroying the Jewish state after speaking such hateful words.
At the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Conference in 2008, then-Senator Obama stood before thousands of pro-Israel Americans and declared what appeared to be support for Israel. He explained that “the bond between Israel and the United States is rooted in more than our shared national interest; it’s rooted in the shared values and shared stories of our people.”
As the only beacon of democracy in the Middle East and the one unique example of a country in the region that allows freedom of speech and religion—as well as women’s rights—Israel has long been one of the U.S.’s strongest allies.
These days, however, we see Obama behaving in a way that suggests a sort of erosion of this bond he praised just over four years ago. The nomination of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense has been seen as a sign that President Obama's attitude towards Israel is icier than his predecessors.
On his radio show today, host Mark Levin discussed this same point and made a provocative suggestion:
“Well, the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated our government, it's called Barack Obama. No, he's not a formal member, he's a sympathizer. There, I said it. Prove otherwise….What kind of commander-in-chief would nominate somebody like Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense? I'll tell you what kind of commander-in-chief, the kind of commander-in-chief that arms the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamonazi regime in Cairo while he's hallowing out the greatest military force on the face of the earth under his direct command, the United States military -- that's what kind of commander-in-chief. Chuck Hagel, who’s a sympathizer with the most radical elements in the Middle East, and an Israel hater. So why would a president nominate somebody like Chuck Hagel? Because the president is Chuck Hagel. He's a sympathizer with the most radical elements in the Middle East and he's an Israel hater. That's why he nominated Hagel.”
While Levin’s fiery words are certainly blunt, both Obama and Hagel have done nothing to prove him wrong.
Outside the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, DC, senior Talk Radio Network investigative reporter Jason Mattera asked New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg a simple question:
“In the spirit of gun control, will you disarm your entire security team?”
Mayor Bloomberg, a strong advocate for gun control, replied: “Uh, you, we’ll get right back to you.”
“Why can you defend yourself but not the majority of Americans?” the reporter responded as five of Bloomberg’s armed guards blocked him from getting any closer to the Mayor.
After the Sandy Hook shooting, Mayor Bloomberg made calls for Obama to take “immediate action” on gun control, saying “It’s time for the president, I think, to stand up and lead. This should be his number one agenda.”
Apparently these bans that limit American’s Second Amendment rights exclude Bloomberg’s security team.
DOJ Monitored Phone Lines of Five Fox News Reporters, Fox News Executives and Family Members of Reporters | Katie Pavlich
Whoa: US Hasn't Detained Five Benghazi Terrorists Due to Trial-Related Evidentiary Concerns | Guy Benson