Friday, October 10, 2014

Cruising the Web

You just can't make these things up.
President Obama blasted Republicans as the party of “billionaires” on Tuesday while mingling with high-rollers at the $26 million estate of Rich Richman — yes, that’s his real name — in Greenwich, Conn.

Richman, who built his $10 billion company developing rental housing, lives in the Conyers Farm area, where the minimum lot size is 10 acres. Twenty-five donors paid $32,400 each to get their photo taken with the president. Others paid $10,000 for dinner.

While Obama was schmoozing — and the press pool was playing billiards in the basement — he was also soliciting donations for House Democrats in an e-mail.

“If Republicans win, we know who they’ll be fighting for,” Obama said. “Once again, the interests of billionaires will come before the needs of the middle class.”

Obama arrived from New York City — where he had attended a fundraiser with hedge-fund billionaires George Soros and Paul Tudor Jones — in a convoy of four helicopters that landed at the Greenwich Polo Club.
And then he went on to two other fundraisers.
The other two events, held in New York and sponsored by the Democratic National Committee, cost between $1,000 and $32,400 to attend.

As if hypocrisy ever disturbed Barack Obama. He's built his entire career ignoring his own hypocrisy as he criticized opponents for what he himself does. Or is that projection? And who names their kid Rich Richman anyway? And then he went on to blame the media for people having pessimistic views about the economy. Oh, and cynicism is somehow to blame also. Because people are just too dumb to figure out that his is a very shaky economy and that their salaries haven't increased much, if at all, since Obama took office. Or that people are dropping out of the workforce or settling for part-time work. Or that young people just can't find jobs once they graduate college. And nothing says cynicism like bashing Republicans for caring about billionaires while partying with billionaires chez Rich Richman. And then today he's heading to a fundraiser at the home of Gwyneth Paltrow who met him with this nauseating remark:
"You’re so handsome that I can’t speak properly," Paltrow told Obama at the fundraiser in her backyard.
. Please. Just, please stop.

And then Paltrow let forth with this great thought expressing her brilliant understanding of political theory.
It would be wonderful if we were able to give this man all of the power that he needs to pass the things that he needs to pass.
James Madison would be twirling in his grave at this transformational view of the power of the president.

But Obama and the Democrats don't care about the interests of the rich - that's only the Republicans.

Jonah Goldberg describes the cultural war that liberals are waging.
Most libertarians are surely against racial discrimination, sexism, poor eating habits, homophobia, and so on. But their proposed remedies don’t look anything like a liberal’s. Libertarians, for the most part, do not favor racial or gender quotas. They’re against banning big sodas, campus speech codes, or forcing elderly nuns to pay for birth-control coverage, among other things.

Liberals, meanwhile, are quite open about their desire to use the state to impose their morality on others. Many conservatives want to do likewise, of course. The difference is that when conservatives try to do it, liberals are quick to charge “theocracy!” and decry the Orwellian horror.

Enter California governor Jerry Brown, whose answer to the alleged “rape epidemic” on campuses was to sign the new “affirmative consent” law. It will require a verbal “yes” at every stage of amorous activity on college campuses.

The incredible overreach of the law has been discussed at great length. Even the Los Angeles Times editorial board expressed misgivings in an editorial before Brown signed the bill into law. “It seems extremely difficult and extraordinarily intrusive to micromanage sex so closely as to tell young people what steps they must take in the privacy of their own dorm rooms.”

This strikes me as extremely understated, but the sentiment is right. Some defenders of the law say it doesn’t really matter because it will have an effect only when women accuse men of sexual assault. “The law has no bearing on the vast majority of sexual encounters,” feminist writer Amanda Marcotte reassures us. “It only applies when a student files a sexual assault complaint.”

Never mind that it will also likely change the standard of proof in such situations, making it much easier to charge — and administratively convict — students for rape based solely on an allegation. Don’t worry about false accusations, says Think Progress’s Tara Culp-Ressler, they amount to only “about 2 to 8 percent of cases.” Tell that to people who fall into the 2 to 8 percent....

But as her colleague Jonathan Chait notes, most Hollywood depictions of sex could constitute rape according to these new guidelines. Is liberal Hollywood really that bad at reading the sexual desires of American women?

The upshot of this defense is that the state is justified in regulating sex — and “deprogramming” people — because some feminist writers are convinced some people are doing it wrong. One doesn’t have to take a position on that claim to wonder whether it’s the government’s place to tell people how to do it right, never mind insist that doing it wrong is synonymous with sexual assault.

Canada is getting so fed up with Obama's dilly-dallying about the Keystone XL pipeline that they're considering a way to take advantage of their oil sands without having to build a pipeline across the U.S.
resident Barack Obama keeps siding with them, delaying and delaying approval. From the Canadian perspective, Keystone has become a tractor mired in an interminably muddy field.

In this period of national gloom comes an idea -- a crazy-sounding notion, or maybe, actually, an epiphany. How about an all-Canadian route to liberate that oil sands crude from Alberta’s isolation and America’s fickleness? Canada’s own environmental and aboriginal politics are holding up a shorter and cheaper pipeline to the Pacific that would supply a shipping portal to oil-thirsty Asia.

Instead, go east, all the way to the Atlantic.

Thus was born Energy East, an improbable pipeline that its backers say has a high probability of being built. It will cost C$12 billion ($10.7 billion) and could be up and running by 2018. Its 4,600-kilometer (2,858-mile) path, taking advantage of a vast length of existing and underused natural gas pipeline, would wend through six provinces and four time zones. It would be Keystone on steroids, more than twice as long and carrying a third more crude.

Its end point, a refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick, operated by a reclusive Canadian billionaire family, would give Canada’s oil-sands crude supertanker access to the same Louisiana and Texas refineries Keystone was meant to supply.

As well, Vladimir Putin’s provocations in Ukraine are spurring interest in that oil from Europe and, strange as it seems, Saint John provides among the fastest shipping times to India of any oil port in North America....

Thus was born Energy East, an improbable pipeline that its backers say has a high probability of being built. It will cost C$12 billion ($10.7 billion) and could be up and running by 2018. Its 4,600-kilometer (2,858-mile) path, taking advantage of a vast length of existing and underused natural gas pipeline, would wend through six provinces and four time zones. It would be Keystone on steroids, more than twice as long and carrying a third more crude.

Supertanker Access

Its end point, a refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick, operated by a reclusive Canadian billionaire family, would give Canada’s oil-sands crude supertanker access to the same Louisiana and Texas refineries Keystone was meant to supply.

As well, Vladimir Putin’s provocations in Ukraine are spurring interest in that oil from Europe and, strange as it seems, Saint John provides among the fastest shipping times to India of any oil port in North America. (link via Weekly Standard)
It might serve Obama right to have Canada invest in a work around that would build the pipeline in Canada though I'm not sure all the American workers who wouldn't get a job building the XL Pipeline would agree. And I don't see how it would help environmentalists. There would still be a huge pipeline and then an increased chance of tanker spillage on the route to Louisiana and Texas. But, hey, the Democrats can still rake in the big donations from environmentalist billionaires like Tom Steyer and isn't all that matters?

Jon Stewart finds something to ridicule about the Obama administration - their declaration about how ISIS is a terrible security threat to the U.S. and then saying that it's "not a major U.S. concern if a city on the border between NATO ally Turkey and Syria falls to ISIS and countless people are massacred.

Even the Pentagon is acknowledging that we're not doing enough to help out the Kurds in Kobani.

Another Democrat's embarrassing campaign memo has linked. Remember when Michelle Nunn's strategic memo leaked? Well, now a briefing memo written for Kentucky Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes has leaked on her staff's advice to prepare her for an interview with Kentucky journalists as she campaigns against Mitch McConnell. She's told to stress that she disagrees with Obama on gun control. She's even aired an ad with her shooting her shotgun to symbolize her disagreements with Obama. But her aides advise her that she can "scale back her red-meat rhetoric if pushed." Of course, that memo didn't help her answer a simple question of whether she voted for President Obama.
Grimes is fairly new on the national scene, but she's not new enough not to know how to answer this fairly simply. "Yes, I voted for him," you say, "but I've been disappointed by a lot of the things he's done, particularly on COAL and JOBS and GUNS" or whatever. It's simple. And then you can say, "but I backed Hillary in the primary" and so on and so on. 2008 was a landmark year, a wave for Democrats, when Obama's approval was sky-high. Of course she voted for him! Dodging the question looks like she's trying to hide her position, which is never the face you want to show -- particularly when conservatives are accusing her of hiding her positions on other things.

Oh, I'm sure it is a shocker to anyone familiar with Illinois politics that e-mails suggest that Governor Pat Quinn yused a neighborhood grant to get out the votes for him in 2010 as he ran for governor.
The grant program — found to be rife with mismanagement and lack of accountability in a February state audit — was listed as a “stateside,” or state-government issue, in calls among top Quinn campaign staff, the emails show.

Moreover, emails between Nuckels, Lavin, Quinn’s then-campaign spokeswoman and the governor’s brother, Tom Quinn, show that the grant program was part of discussions over a media strategy to bolster support in the African-American community in Chicago.

“The Gov’s Neighborhood Recovery Initiative will also help on the jobs and anti-violence messages,” said one email from Lavin dated Sept. 5, a month before the program was publicly unveiled at a Oct. 6, 2010 news conference.

Lavin’s email also said: “If we are trying to get the base out and that's the key to our victory, we better prioritize correctly.” The African-American voter base “tends to break late so we have some time,” the email continued. (link via Ryan Lovelace at NRO)

So are people going to really get worked up that the White House covered up that, despite their protests to the contrary, a White House aide was implicated with the Secret Service Venezuela hooker scandal in order to squelch that part of the story before the 2012 election? They tried to cover up that terrorism was involved in four Americans, including an ambassador, were killed at Benghazi. Why should they have stopped to cover a very minor part of the hooker scandal? If they'd lie to cover up such a miniscule scandal, what wouldn't they lie about? Mark Hemingway has the same thought.
As is often the case, we'll hear a lot in the next few days about how the cover-up here is worse than the crime. Prostitution is, after all, legal in Cartagena. Still, the episode is more telling than White House would like. It speaks to this White House's extraordinary lack of professionalism and competency, and it's yet another example of how hollow and nakedly political the White House's "war on women" rhetoric really is.

But most importantly, it says a lot about what this White House is capable of. The White House is willing to hush up an investigation of a 25-year-old volunteer's dalliance with a prostitute because of concerns about electoral consequences, and yet we're supposed to believe that the White House has such integrity they wouldn't lie about, say, what happened in Benghazi, regardless of the election fallout?

Ron Fournier explains why it matters that the White House lied about their knowledge of an aide's involvement in the Colombian hookers' story.
The White House didn't tell the truth. Small children are taught that any lie is bad, even a small one, because it infects the whole of their credibility. Same goes for the White House, particularly when the public's faith in President Obama's word is already in free-fall due to an epidemic of half-truths ("Violent protest outside of our embassy—sparked by this hateful video"), empty promises ("No one will take away" your health care plan), and outright lies ("Not wittingly").
The story also involves nepotism as the volunteer aide involved is the son of a big Democratic donor. And the White House treated the favored child of a donor differently than they treated the Secret Service men involved who lost their jobs. The working stiffs had to undergo extensive investigations of their behavior in Cartegena and take polygraph tests. The White House aide just got asked if he was involved. And now he got a job working as...wait for it....a policy adviser in the Office on Global Women’s Issues at the State Department. (Pause for ironic snort.)
Travel volunteers, who are often recommended for the position by White House staffers, are repeatedly reminded that they are “mini-ambassadors” for the U.S. government and that their conduct reflects on the president and first lady, the former official said.

Administration officials interviewed by The Post earlier this year said there was no reason to investigate Dach beyond interviews with him and his fellow White House team members and a review of their expense accounts, because he was not a government employee and because prostitution is legal in parts of Colombia, including Cartagena.

One senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information, said Ruemmler believed it would be a “real scandal” if she had sent “a team of people to Colombia to investigate a volunteer over something that’s not a criminal act. . . . That would be insane.”
Well, the team of investigators was already in Colombia to investigate the Secret Service. This was clearly a cover-up to protect the son of a donor who was connected more closely to the White House, even as a volunteer, than the Secret Service agents.

The funny thing is how upset the media are that the White House lied to them. John Podhoretz tweets,

See how well you can do distinguishing between political memoirs and Steven Seagal movies.


I sure hope that Kimberley Strassel is right. She argues today that the Democrats' war-on-women strategy for winning elections is fading in its effectiveness. She uses the Colorado Senate race as a model since Senator Udall has been basing his campaign so much on attacking Cory Gardner that he's been called Mark Uterus. Charming. The Democrats have been spending tens of millions to attack the GOP on so-called women's issues.
Don’t tell Harry Reid , but the “war on women” theme is losing political altitude. Don’t tell the entire Democratic Party, in fact, which this year chose to elevate this attack—that Republicans are hostile to women—to the top of its political strategy. Mr. Reid spent most of the past year holding Senate show votes (on “equal” pay or the Violence Against Women Act) designed to give his candidates further political ammunition. Democrats by some estimates have already devoted as much as 60% of their $120 million in midterm TV advertising to the “war on women”—claiming Republican candidates are anti-birth-control, anti-women’s-health, anti-reproductive rights, anti-equal pay. Even Republicans at the height of anti-ObamaCare fervor were never so monomaniacal.

When a party throws $70 million at an issue, it will move the voter dial. Yet what’s remarkable is how little that dial is moving for Democrats compared with past elections. In Colorado, where Mr. Udall and his allies have beaten the “war on women” drum harder than any campaign, the most recent poll, from Quinnipiac, shows Mr. Gardner down by only three points among women. Colorado Republican Ken Buck, who failed in a Senate bid in 2010, lost women by 17 points.
The GOP have fought back with, first of all, not choosing dumb candidates who talk about "legitimate rape." Then they're speaking out in favor of making birth control pills over-the-counter, thus making them cheaper and easier to access without a doctor's visit. Then they're going on the offensive by highlighting that many Democrats support late-term abortions and abortions for selecting the sex of the baby.
Mr. Udall’s race offers another insight into the Democrats’ diminishing war-on-women returns. Women are open to a bit of fear-mongering about Republicans, but they are less sure about a Democrat who can’t talk about anything else. A September Quinnipiac poll in Colorado asked voters to rank their top issues. About 77% of women polled listed one of the following as their top voting issue: the economy, health care, immigration, energy. About 16% said their big issue was abortion. Mr. Udall had likely locked up that 16% before he even started campaigning. Who has he been talking to since?

Not men. Polls show they are judging this Obama presidency far more harshly than women—on the economy, on health care, on foreign affairs—but have heard little from Democratic candidates to change their minds. That latest Quinnipiac poll in Colorado has Mr. Gardner winning men by 19 points. The Fox polls have Alaska’s Mr. Sullivan up among men by 14 points, Arkansas’s Mr. Cotton up by 15 and Mr. McConnell in Kentucky up 11. Note to media: Republicans don’t have near as big a woman problem as Democrats have a man problem.

As for that GOP problem, it is more complex than Democrats would concede. A late-August generic battleground poll from George Washington University had Republicans winning married women by 16 points; white, married women by 23 points. They were losing white, single women (most susceptible to the Democratic theme) by just two points.

The GOP’s overall woman deficit is caused primarily by minority women—losing by 85 points among black women and 57 points among Hispanic women. The GOP’s task in changing those numbers likely has far less to do with reproductive rights as it does immigration reform and outreach.

Democrats are too invested in this strategy to let up now. But if they lose the Senate in November, it will be in part because voters—men and women alike—expect more from a party than gender pandering.

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