Obviously, Bob Woodward wasn't telling who in the Obama White House threatened him. But does anyone care to hazard a guess? If I were a betting woman, my choice would be clear: Valerie Jarrett.
Why? Because she is, indeed, a "very senior senior person" (to use Bob Woodward's phrase) at The White House, and she has in the past shown a certain lack of finesse in handling delicate matters. To quote from a New York Times story on her:
And [Jarrett] is the president’s protector in chief, or as Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner put it, the person who must be as “omniscient as possible” in spotting trouble on the way. Those whom she deems to have failed Mr. Obama tell of scolding late-night calls and her trademark accusation of betrayal: “You are hurting the president.”
But she has also steered him toward controversy . . .
. . . .
With Ms. Jarrett’s unquestioning belief in the president has come a tendency to take political criticism personally, “even when it would be more useful not to,” said Marilyn Katz, a Chicago friend of both Ms. Jarrett and the president. Another friend compared her to a mother whose son can do no wrong: “Even when the neighbors call, she says, ‘No, no, that can’t be.’ ”
So when the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, Anthony Romero, publicly criticized some of the president’s antiterrorism policies, she swiftly shoved back. “Great harm has been done,” she warned in an e-mail he shared with colleagues. “There has been a material breach of trust.”
A White House spokeswoman said Ms. Jarrett does respond aggressively when she feels that the president has been attacked.
. . . .
Ms. Jarrett was similarly “livid,” one former White House official said, with members of the Congressional Black Caucus who accused the president of paying insufficient attention to the particular economic woes of blacks. When the writer and academic Cornel West joined in, calling Mr. Obama the “black mascot of Wall Street,” Ms. Jarrett’s response was “ruthless,” Dr. West said.
He recalled a phone call in which she dismissed his criticism as sour grapes for not receiving a ticket to the inauguration, and said he later heard from friends that she was putting out the word that “one, I was crazy, and two, I was un-American.”
In light of all that, doesn't this threat to Bob Woodward sound like something right out of the Jarrett playbook -- both in its intemperance its inability to understand how anyone might have a legitimate criticism of the President, and its tendency to create controversy?
Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) is the type of elected official who should come to the forefront of the Republican Party. Not only is he a conservative, he is a conservative who is able to explain his positions with ease and clarity. In response to Jay Carney's gibe about what he would say to workers furloughed because of the sequester, Rep. Pompeo offered this statement on his facebook page:
Mr. Carney doesn’t understand that not every public official is willing to play games with lives of hard-working Americans for political gain like his boss, President Obama. I said that the sequester is a home run not because it is good politics, but because it begins to put America back on the right fiscal track.
“I would welcome the opportunity to tell the 90,000 furloughed workers, the ones President Obama is choosing to let go of, that they need to know several things:
“First, the sequester does not have to mean furloughs. The President is choosing to make this minor reduction in spending painful—by furloughing people—in order to pursue his twin goals of raising taxes and increasing the size of the federal government. The President wasted $1 trillion dollars of stimulus money that did nothing to grow our economy and create jobs. Now, he is needlessly using a decrease in federal spending amounting to less than a few percent to harm even more American workers and their families.
“Second, there are fewer Americans working in America today than when the President took office. I find it bizarre that Mr. Carney would ask me about talking to furloughed workers. I’ve been talking to and representing thousands of furloughed and laid-off workers in Kansas who have lost their livelihood because of this President’s failed economic policies and his consistent attacks on the general aviation industry. Before President Obama’s reckless deficits, general aviation was a robust manufacturing jewel providing high-paying jobs in the Air Capital of the World. Today, he continues to cause it pain.
“Third, Mr. Carney says that this isn’t a home run for average Americans. He is wrong. While there will surely be dislocations, the President’s $6 trillion in new federal debt have been a strikeout for our country. Most Americans understand the need to stop year-on-year trillion dollar deficits. For them, we should have done even more to reduce the size of our federal government. The sequester is a solid first step. Growing American prosperity will require us to hit a grand slam on reducing spending, taxation, and regulation. I look forward to being part of making that happen.
“Finally, the President proposed, signed, and threatened to veto changes to, the sequester. It was his plan. Not once, but twice, Congressional Republicans have provided alternatives. We have seen nothing from Carney’s boss. If it is really that bad, why has he not sent a different set of cuts? The President’s actions—claiming to be upset about the sequester and traveling to Virginia to confuse workers there—are at best disingenuous and at worst just plain mean.”
Nicely done. And to offer a visual counterpart to Rep. Pompeo's statement, here is a chart that highlights, in graphic form, the size of the cuts the President is claiming will bring America to its knees:
I suspect few individuals or institutions in this country during the Obama presidency have had the luxury of having to "endure" cuts of such miniscule size.
Marc Thiessen's advice to the GOP for addressing potential political fallout over the sequest is as simple as it is elegant: Through legislation, give the President authority to make the sequester cuts however he deems fit.
As Bob Woodward has repoted, the sequester was the President's idea, so its implementation might as well be of his design, as well.
Republicans from Marsha Blackburn to Bobby Jindal have complained about the President's failure to show "leadership." Well, to paraphrase Shakespeare, some are born leaders, some achieve leadership, and some have leadership thrust upon them. The GOP's smartest move is at least to ensure that the President falls at least in the third category.
Thirty-something writer Kristin Walker has done a very brave thing (at least, in our culture): She has admitted she is abstaining from sex until she is married. She's normal, she's in a relationship -- but she has simply decided to live in accordance with her morals. And she makes extremely good points:
Don’t submit to what Chesterton called “the degrading slavery of being a child of [ones] age.” Make your own decisions. Don’t buy the giant lie that if you stop having sex your unmentionables are going to shrivel and drop off from disuse. And don’t believe them when they tell you you’re weird, frigid, sick, or backwards. Even as they accuse you of leading a deprived live, they are a prisoner to their impulses, inviting in unplanned pregnancy, STDs, abortion, heartbreak, loss of self-respect, and more.
I walked away from all that, and I couldn’t be happier because of it. I have felt my heart heal, and I know that the next time I give myself to someone, it will be on my wedding night, to someone I trust, who has given himself to me in turn.
Like Walker, I too have urged sexual restraint for unmarried people (in my book, Prude) -- but I am not her age, and I am not unmarried. I admire her for what she has done, and I hope young woman will give her piece a careful look.
Correction: The original version of this post stated that Kristin Walker had admitted "she is a virgin." Obviously, as the piece makes clear, she did no such thing -- she stated that she is abstaining from sex until marriage. Silly mistake on my part, and I regret it.
The Harvard Law Review has expanded its affirmative action program -- which has long been restricted to race and ethnicity -- to gender. Women will now find it easier than their male counterparts to get onto the Harvard Law Review. Woo hoo -- what a blow for gender equality: The only way enough women can rise to the top, according to the Review, is by getting special "consideration."
Given that the writing competition -- a prerequisite for Review selection for first year students -- is blind-graded, there is no chance that somehow, a group of sexist editors are conspiring to keep women off. Note also that grades are Harvard Law School are largely based on blind-graded exams, so it's not as though sexist professors are invidiously marking down women, thereby restricting their chances at Review membership.
No, if "enough" women aren't getting on to the law review, it's because their grades and/or writing competition scores simply aren't as high as those of the men who beat them (and/or not as many of them are trying to get on. A number of my female friends simply declined to enter the competition because they just weren't interested). Whatever the reasons are for the lower scores or lower interest, surely the solution isn't simply to lower the standards for women to get the numbers "right."
Doing so simply reduces the quality of the female Review members (thereby ultimately lowering the quality of the product) -- and stigmatizes them. From now on, judges, law firms and other employers will never be clear whether a female Review member gained her slot as a result of performing as well as her male peers, or because she got special "consideration." As a female former Review member, I resent that -- deeply. In their endless, mindless, reflexive "political correctness," the silly members of the Review just cheapened one of the best credentials their female members may ever obtain.
What's more, without even realizing it, they've just decimated the confidence of their female membership. Given that my grades were never stellar (at least compared to many of my counterparts, male and female, on the Review), I am almost positive I "wrote" onto The Harvard Law Review (i.e., my total "score" was based 70% on my writing competition score, 30% on my grades -- rather than vice versa. The whole complex system is laid out here). Despite my lower grades, I knew I had earned my place on the Review -- it hadn't just been handed to me based on my body parts. That knowledge is what gave me the confidence to run for the post of Managing Editor, third-highest position on the Review. As a result, I became the first female M.E. in Review history. Given my grades, had this affirmative action policy for women been in place at hte time, I doubt I would have had the confidence to try.
What's more, the judge for whom I clerked after law school, David Sentelle of the DC Circuit, might not have been so easily persuaded to hire me. Though I lacked tippy-top grades, he could still have confidence I had some legal ability -- and writing skill -- because of my Review membership. Had the affirmative action policy for women been in effect, he wouldn't have had that assurance. Now, Review membership certifies your excellence only if you're a white male. How sad. How racist-sexist.
The controversiy over women's lower numbers on the Review isn't new. The same howls of outrage were around for my first year on the Review (1990-1991, the year Barack Obama was President) -- that year, as well, only nine women gained membership (I was one of them). But the calls for affirmative action were resisted, and the next year, many more got on . . . and a woman was elected to be the third female President in Review history.
No doubt the eager liberals on this year's Review think they've helped women. They haven't. They've harmed them -- both professionally and personally.
According to Common Cause, the President is considering a plan to hold in-person meetings four times yearly with those who raise $500,000 or more for his lobbying group, Organizing for America.
It doesn't take a genius to understand that this is simply a pay-to-play plan. If you are willing to pony up half a million or more, you, too, can have a sit-down with the world's most powerful man every three months (presumably, the President will make time for you between vacations, rounds of golf, and scaring the country).
Of course, this step -- if taken -- would merely formalize a comfortable little arrangement that's already in place:
Among donors [to the Obama 2008 campaign effort] who gave $30,000 or less, about 20 percent visited the White House, according to a New York Times analysis that matched names in the visitor logs with donor records. But among those who donated $100,000 or more, the figure rises to about 75 percent. Approximately two-thirds of the president’s top fund-raisers in the 2008 campaign visited the White House at least once, some of them numerous times.
. . .
Some of the donors had no previous record of giving to the president or his party, or of making donations of such magnitude, so their gifts, sometimes given in close proximity to meetings, raise questions about whether they came with expectations of access or were expressions of gratitude.
Really? They "raise questions"? I think not -- the answer is clear.
The Washington Free Beacon reports that Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel said Israel is on its way to becoming an apartheid state at a speech at Rutgers in 2010. Interestingly it was also at Rutgers, in 2007, that Hagel reportedly called the State Department an adjunct of the Israeli foreign ministry -- comments he now disowns and claims no recollection of having made.
But here's the thing: It's interesting that different people keep on reporting having heard similar (anti-Israel) remarks from Hagel. It's a little bit like when Bill Clinton was running for President in 1992. All these reports of womanizing kept issuing forth, he kept not-remembering any of it, he was elected, and poof! America became (well) acquainted -- not just with Monica Lewinsky -- but also with Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey, Juanita Broaddrick, and a host of others. Most of the time, when similar stories about a candidate/nominee's behavior surface repeatedly, there's a reason.
And then it's down to the solons of the Senate. Senators Ayotte, McCain and Graham (who have largely been the ones taking the lead on the Hagel issue) have repeated that the President is entitled to great deference in his choice of Cabinet secretaries. Indeed, he is. But the question here is whether Republicans can credibly claim to be pro-Israel when they rubber stamp a nominee who has repeatedly been heard to make anti-Israel comments of the most vituperative sort -- and whose grasp of America's defense policies was shown, at his confirmation hearings to be tenuous, at best.
The press is complaining that "Obama the puppet master" is providing less access than they want, and wailing that the "balance of power" between the press and The White House has tipped in favor of the latter.
This is ironic, of course, given that the press has favored Obama from the beginning; even the tone of the piece sounds like the lament of a lover scorned.
If the press really wants to get Obama's attention, all it has to do is what it's done to numerous other presidents: Cover him with a critical (rather than adulatory) tone. Sure, in the short run, he'll dismiss them more and run to his soft outlets. But in the end, if everyone in the MSM participates and calls out the President for his refusal to answer tough questions, Obama will have to get with the program.
The biggest problem, of course, is collective action. Obama worshippers like Steve Kroft may well simply refuse to participate. Ultimately, however, who can feel even a scintilla of sympathy for the press' plight? Its members have behaved like slavering sycophants when it comes to covering Obama . And when one behaves in a contemptible fashion, one can only expect to be treated with . . . contempt.
But a little more self-respect on the part of the press -- coupled with some more balanced coverage -- might at least be the beginning of the MSM breaking the cycle of abuse.
Things are going to get interesting for the Democrats. Above, speaking with Scott Rasmussen, Howard Dean committed candor, stating that:
“[S]omebody has to tell the middle class that either your taxes are going to go up or your programs are going to get cut or else we're going to go into financial oblivion, and nobody really wants to tell them that.”
In truth, Republicans have told them that, and Democrats (aside from Dean) are refusing to do the same. Indeed, Senator Chuck Schumer has actually insisted that the sequester puts Democrats -- who are still pretending that the country's fiscal problems can be solved by higher taxes on "the rich" -- on the "high ground" in the fiscal debate. Perhaps this gamble is why -- though Republicans have offered a plan to replace the sequester with targeted cuts -- Democrats have offered . . . nothing.
Despite Schumer's brave face, apparently the sequester will hit Democratic districts harder than Republican ones, thus providing Democrats with a greater incentive to end the standoff. And at some point, the American people will catch on that to subsidize the new Obama welfare state, Dean's right; their taxes will have to go up, significantly.
For years now, the press has let the Obama Democrats paint a false portrait of the country's fiscal crisis and the measures that will be needed to address it. When that day comes, the record will reflect that Republicans had a plan, and Democrats had . . . nothing.
A leading geneticist says that human intelligence is slowly declining. All of this, of course, was predicted in Idiocracy:
To the extent anyone really gets worried, expect to read more appeals like Anne-Marie Slaughter's in the Atlantic: "Don't Rule Out Having Children Because You Want to Have a Career." Hmm. For fifty years, feminists have told the brightest, most ambitious young women that they couldn't be truly fulfilled without full-time, prestigious, paying careers. Then they told those same women that it was incredibly difficult happlly to balance work and family.
Over centuries and eons, what could possibly go wrong?
Great Moments in Human Rights: Mandated “Emotional Support” Animals in College Dorms | Daniel J. Mitchell