Tag Archives: George W. Bush

Donald Trump Finds His Calling as Final Judge on Stupidity

Frankly, I totally enjoy watching Donald Trump expose his ignorance…

Mediaite

During the March 26th edition of Fox’s On the RecordDonald Trump called PresidentObama’s comments about concerns over a nuke in Manhattan “absolutely the dumbest — I guess I have to say one– but maybe I can say the single dumbest statement I have ever heard a president make.”

Of course, The Donald had probably just returned from his high-rise laboratory where he gauges stupidity based on the rate at which his fingers gravitate toward Greta Van Susteren’s contact information. Sigh, it’s hard to argue with science.

But let’s give it the old college try. Here are some presidential quotes that out-dumb President Obama’s attempt to articulate his genuine fears concerning homeland security:

  • “The crotch, down where your nuts hang, is always a little too tight.” – Lyndon Johnson in a White House recording.
  • “I’m President of the United States, and I’m not going to eat anymore broccoli.” – George H. W. Bush, begging SNL‘s Dana Carvey to combine his talents.
  • “That depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is.” – Bill Clinton role-playing as Descartes before the Grand Jury.

Of course, dumb comments aren’t just silly, as Trump implies. How about quotes with grave and aloof implications:

  • “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.” – George W. Bush to FEMA administrator Michael D. Brown.
  • “Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the national debt.” – Herbert Hoover in an address to the Nebraska Republican congress.
  • “When the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.” – Richard Nixon in a 1977 interview with David Frost.

Now, Trump made no distinction between countries either, saying “I don’t mean just the president of this country.” There really only needs to be one example here (with apologies to Chávez and Putin):

  • “I am still the Hitler of the time.” – Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe at a state funeral.

Hmmm, let’s finish off this experiment with American business moguls, shall we? Ah, what luck, we only need one for this too:

  • “I have been right about almost everything.” – Donald Trump on the March 26th edition of Fox’s On the Record.

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18 Crazy Right-Wing Myths About Obama, Debunked

Obamageddon! GOP vision for America. We scare because we care. This message brought to you by Fox News and the Koch brothers.

Obama has done more to unite this nation than any president since Lincoln. But look at the lying racists, gun nuts, and hypocrites he’s up against. Meme by Elisabeth Parker for AI.

Someone took the time to compile this list and I wanted to share it…(H/t: DB)

Addicting Info

1) Obama takes too many vacations.

 FACT: As of August 16th of 2013, Obama had taken 92 days of vacation vs 367 for George W. Bush.

2) Obama has divided the nation.

FACT: Obama has done more to unite this nation than any president since Lincoln. But he’s up against a phalanx of 21st Century separatists, racists and neo-fascists, some of whom have openly proposed seceding. Here… let me hold that door for you. Besides; who’s dividing the Republican party into right wing and ultra-far right wings? Is Obama doing that too? Nope. Look in a mirror Teabigots.

3) Obama’s policies are bankrupting America.

FACT: Reagan added $1.9 trillion to the debt. Bush Sr. added an additional $1.5. Clinton added $1.4. Dubbya added $6.1. Obama has added less than $3.0, the bulk of which was to offset the effects of the Bush recession. Who holds that debt? China; $1.2 trillion. Japan; $900 billion. The Fed; $1.6 trillion. The public; $3.6 trillion. Government trusts; $1.9 trillion. Social Security; $2.7 trillion. So nice try, but no Kewpie doll for you

4) Obama’s a socialist.

 FACT: Hardly. Obama’s economic and social policies are to the right of Kennedy’s, Eisenhower’s, Nixon’s, and even some of Reagan’s. If Obama’s a socialist, then Eisenhower, who had a 91% top tax rate, was a Republican Marxist.

5) Obama lied about keeping your present healthcare insurance.

FACT: Lying and being wrong are two different things. Obama turned out to be wrong, but he didn’t lie. He appeared before the cameras 28 times, repeating the exact same words — “If you like your present policy, you can keep it,” knowing full well he was being recorded each time. If you believe any president would deliberately set himself up like that, then Fox News is indeed the place for you.

6) Obama’s weak on foreign policy.

FACT: Osama bin Laden, the man who murdered 3,000+ Americans on 9/11 is dead. Muammar Khaddafi, the man who blew 300+ Americans out of the sky is dead. More al Qaeda terrorists were taken out under just Obama’s first three years than during the entire 8 years of Bush’s “War on Terrorism,” where we somehow managed to wind up in Iraq; a country that offered asylum to zero terrorists. ‘Nuff said.

7) Obama has taken sides with the Arabs against Israel.

FACT: “I think that from my point of view as defense minister they (American/Israeli relations) are extremely good, extremely deep and profound. I can see long years, um, administrations of both sides of political aisle deeply supporting the state of Israel and I believe that reflects a profound feeling among the American people. But I should tell you honestly that this administration under President Obama is doing in regard to our security more than anything that I can remember in the past. In terms of the support for our security, the cooperation of our intelligence, the sharing of sorts in a very open way even when there are differences which are not simple sometimes, I’ve found their support for our defense very stable.” ~ Ehud Barak, former Prime Minister of Israel

But what would he know?

8) America is less safe under Obama than ever before. FACT:

3,000 Americans killed by al Qaeda on 9/11, when George W. Bush was president. Zero successful al Qaeda attacks on America under Obama. Do the math.

9) Benghazi is Obama’s 9/11.

FACT: There were 13 attacks on American embassies during the Bush years, resulting in some 100 deaths. But Fox News and their reich-wing cohorts has never mentioned them. Benghazi is something that happened to us, not something the administration did. I’m sorry you haven’t gotten the memo, but Benghazi is just another Fox non-story. Same with the IRS “scandal.”

10) ObamaCare is Obama’s 9/11.

 See #9.

11) Sandy Hook was Obama’s 9/11.

See a shrink.

12) Solyndra!

FACT: Solyndra was a $500 million loan that didn’t pay off. How much is $500 million? That’s how much the Bush administration spent every 18 hours on the Iraq War for five years – an expense no Republican ever complains about. And what was our reward? 4,500 Americans killed, at least 100,000 Iraqis killed, another 2 million Iraqis driven from their homes, the emergence of the Shia awakening, and our reputation in a shambles. Thanks Republicans. And you’re upset about half a billion spent on Solyndra.

13) Iraq is falling to al Qaeda due to Obama’s policies.

FACT: Had we not invaded Iraq in the first place, a war Obama opposed 12 years ago, we wouldn’t be seeing Falluja falling to al Qaeda. And who was it that wrote the timetable for our Iraq exit two years ago? Oh, yeah; the Bush administration. You might just as well blame Obama for Bush’s recession. Oh, wait — you do that too!

14) Obama’s policies are anti-business.

FACT: The Dow Jones when Clinton entered office in January 1993 was at 3,300. When he left office in January 2001: 10,662. Dow Jones when Bush left office in January 2009: 9,034. Dow Jones today: 16,437. The Dow has more than doubled in just the first five years of the Obama administration. Yes…. Businessmen just hate that.

15) Obama’s policies have resulted in massive unemployment.

FACT: When George W. Bush stumbled into office in January 2001, he inherited a 4.3% unemployment rate from Bill Clinton. When he left office 8 years later, the unemployment rate was 9.7% and rising fast. As of today, that number is 6.7%, no thanks to the Republicans in Congress who’ve done everything within their power to sabotage the recovery.

During the eight years under George W. Bush, his policies created just 1 million jobs (with another 2 million in the military). Since Barack Obama was sworn in five years ago, 7.6 million jobs have been created, and there are still three years left in his term. So, nice try.

16) Fast & Furious.

FACT: Another poorly conceived program left over from the Bush administration that the GOP is trying to pin on Obama. Move along.

17) Liberals always try to deflect from Obama’s record by bringing up Bush.

FACT: Wrong-o, Bozo. We just like to rub your noses in your hypocrisy. By intentionally ignoring, or even lying about Bush’s record and focusing instead on the above Fox News lies, you’ve liberated yourselves once again from those pesky facts. So it’s become incumbent upon us to set the record straight. To the contrary, conservatives are always trying to deflect from the failures of the Bush years by telling the aforementioned lies.

18) The deficit has skyrocketed under Obama.

FACT: The budget was balanced when Clinton left office in 2001 (in fact, he left Dubbya with a $300,000,000,000 surplus).

Eight years later, Bush left Obama with a $1,413,000,000,000 deficit and a 9.8% deficit/GDP ratio. Most of which was due to Bush’s deficit-spending on the Iraq War, Medicare Part D and the two tax cuts that largely went to the wealthy.

“Remember what Reagan taught us. Deficits don’t matter.” ~ Dick Cheney.

Since Obama’s election:

  • 2010 — $1,294,000,000,000 8.7% deficit/GDP
  • 2011 — $1,300,000,000,000 8.4% deficit/GDP
  • 2012 — $1,087,000,000,000 6.8% deficit/GDP
  • 2013 — $680,000,000,000 4.1% deficit/GDP
  • 2014 — $560,000,000,000 3.3% deficit/GDP

See a pattern developing? Furthermore, the United States is now producing more oil than we import. Our overall trade deficit is at a four year low, as imported oil continues to decline. GM, Ford and Chrysler are all chugging along nicely, no thanks to a unified Republican/Teabigot party, who were eager to sacrifice 2 million American jobs on their altar of Obama Derangement Syndrome.

The trade gap has fallen 12.9% to $34.3 billion as Obama’s policies have made American products and services more available abroad, while Americans are increasingly buying more domestic products. The trade imbalance is now lower than at any time since the beginning of the recession, and the offshoring of American jobs has (finally) slowed to a trickle.

Our trade gap with China is down 6.7% (largely based on their taste for American cars — see above), our trade gap with Japan is down 8.4% and our trade gap with the European Union has dropped a whopping 29.4%.

Are things perfect? No. There’s still much to be done. But the rumors of Barack Obama’s “failures” have been greatly exaggerated, and it’s time to call these talking points what they are… lies. This president will go down in history as a man who achieved some amazing accomplishments, especially considering the unified opposition he’s had to endure since Day One.

So there you have it Fox News “patriots,” all your talking points shot to hell in one FACT-based document. How do you like them apples, bitches?

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Filed under Obama Derangement Syndrome, Right-wing disinformation campaign, Right-Wing Obamaphobia

Bush: I ‘Get Slightly Emotional’ Talking About Vets (VIDEO)

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He actually managed to shed one tear…just one!

One commenter on TPM said this about “W” and I wholeheartedly agree:

He gets weepy huh – under his Administration FUNDING for vets was CUT! The soldiers fought HIS war without appropriate protective armor and the list goes on and on. The hypocrisy astounds me stop crying those crocodile tears the damage and death is done.

TPM LiveWire

Former President George W. Bush teared up during an interview about veterans and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“I have a duty. I obviously get slightly emotional talking about our vets because I have an emotional — I’m in there with them,” he told ABC’s Martha Raddatz in a segment that aired Sunday on “This Week”. “But my spirit is always uplifted when I visit with vets.”

Bush, who is promoting his initiative to help returning war veterans adjust to civilian life, commended American veterans.

“They don’t say, ‘Woe is me,’” Bush said. “They say, ‘What can I do to continue to serve.’”

Watch the segment via ABC:

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Gun rights advocates freak out over ‘No Guns’ sign at singer Toby Keith’s restaurant

Toby Keith via Shutterstock

Wait til they find out he voted for Obama…

The Raw Story

Conservatives and gun activists are in high dudgeon over a sign outside country singer Toby Keith’s new Virginia bar and grill that says “No Guns Permitted.”

According to Washington, DC’s WTOP, the sign has provoked an explosion of outrage online. Many gun rights advocates took to Twitter and other social media to denounce Keith as a “gun hating liberal,” a “fake,” and a “Republican In Name Only” or “RINO.”

“So if ‘no guns are allowed’ I guess that means that police officers that are ‘on duty’ aren’t allowed in for lunch or dinner??” asked Facebook user Connie Hollar Wright on the restaurant’s Facebook page. “Who are you guys callin [sic] when you need help???? Good luck with that!”

“Toby is a gun hating liberal. What a fake,” wrote another.

“Won’t go into a Killing zone,” said another commenter with a “Duck Dynasty” avatar, “which is what gun free zones are.”

The restaurant — called I Love This Bar and Grill — opened in Woodbridge, Virginia this week. The state has an open carry law, which allows citizens to openly carry firearms without a license. Businesses, however, reserve the right to ask patrons not to bring their guns inside.

Not everyone disagrees with the rule.

“I think it’s a good thing no guns are permitted in a restaurant,” said Jean Sutts of Woodbridge to WTOP.

Mike Miskin of Suffolk agreed that “alcohol and guns do not mix. I believe that you should be allowed to carry your gun with you but not into a bar.”

A post at right-wing website Breitbart.com protested that, “(o)ne of Toby Keith’s biggest country video hits is ‘Bullets in the Gun.’ It romanticizes carrying a gun.”

Keith has been politically outspoken on a number of topics, but in fact bills himself as a conservative Democrat. He supported President George W. Bush when rival act the Dixie Chicks criticized Bush at the outset of the War in Iraq.

However, in 2008, Keith donated to then-Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign for president and spoke out in favor of Obama’s policies in the Middle East.

Watch video about this story, embedded here

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Tea Party ‘revolutionary’ Larry Klayman blames Obama for disastrous CNN interview

“It’s Obama’s fault!”

Sorting out the crazies indeed…

The Raw Story

Tea Partier and frequent litigant Larry Klayman said in an interview with World Net Daily on Thursday that he is considering filing a lawsuit against the news network CNN after an embarrassing interview with anchor Don Lemon and legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin earlier this week.

Not only did Klayman tell WND head Jerome Corsi that Lemon should be fired for being a “well-known ultra-leftist African-American political activist who pursues a LGBT sexual agenda,” Right Wing Watch reported that the Tea Party leader said that the interview was the culmination of a plot against him by formidable forces.

“What CNN did to me yesterday was a hit piece orchestrated against me by the Obama White House with the direct involvement of the Democratic National Committee in an attempt to discredit me and to turn the public against Judge Leon’s court decision that the NSA is violating Fourth Amendment rights,” Klayman said to Corsi

On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon — appointed by George W. Bush — found in favor of a suit by Klayman and fellow right-wing activist Charles Strange alleging that the National Security Agency’s metadata spying program is unconstitutional.

Toobin argued on CNN that while perhaps it’s true that the program is invasive and unconstitutional, a nuisance litigant like Klayman — who has sued, variously, President Barack Obama in a “birther” lawsuit demanding evidence of the president’s birth in Hawaii, the Minneapolis City Pages and the Phoenix Sun-Times, his ex-wife, an Ohio family court officialthe Clinton administration (18 different times) and even his own mother— was a useful tool in a targeted political ruling.

Toobin read from p. 39 of Leon’s ruling, which quoted Klayman as saying, “I think they, the NSA, are messing with me.” The judge wrote that Klayman “then went on to explain that he and his clients had received inexplicable test messages and emails, not to mention a disc, containing a spyware program.”

The legal analyst said that even the judge who granted the suit thinks that Klayman is a victim of “tin-foil hat paranoia” and a “lunatic.”

“He had some fantasy that the NSA was after him,” said Toobin. “This case is not about Larry Klayman. It’s about the metadata program that affects everybody, but the idea that Larry Klayman is the representative is simply outrageous.”

Klayman said on Thursday that all of this is an orchestrated hit on his credibility. 

“This was a Clinton thing as much as it was an Obama thing,” he said, accusing Lemon of being a “shill” for the DNC.

“Obama and the Clintons know this was a key decision, and they don’t want us to have any oxygen,” he said. “The DNC wants to cut me down to size.”

The Obama administration, he said, is carrying out “the worst violation of constitutional rights in America history.”

“The entire segment with me yesterday was structured as a hit piece, designed to bring in CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin whose job was to call me a lunatic even though he appeared not to have read Judge Leon’s decision,” he insisted, and as a result he is contemplating filing a defamation suit against the network.

Earlier this year, Klayman announced at a rally during the government shutdown that a coup was going to sweep President Barack Obama out of office on November 19. Pointing toward the White House, the former Freedom Works leader ordered Obama to “put the Koran down” and “come out with your hands up.”

Klayman’s November 19 “coup” rally, which he promised would bring millions to the capital and send Obama “back to Iran” turned out to be around 130 people carrying signs and voicing various complaints against the Obama administration, from “birthers” to anti-Islam activists like “Ground Zero Mosque” opponent Pamela Geller.

 

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An alternative look at Obama’s 5th year

President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks to media before a meeting with mayors and newly-elected mayors from across the country, Friday, Dec. 13, 2013, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.

President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks to media before a meeting with mayors and newly-elected mayors from across the country, Friday, Dec. 13, 2013 in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. CAROLYN KASTER/AP PHOTO

MSNBC

When books are written on Barack Obama’s presidency, it’s unlikely that his fifth year will be celebrated as the pinnacle of his tenure. On the contrary, it’s a year White House officials almost certainly consider a disappointment.

But I’m not sure it’s been quite as disastrous as advertised.
For much of the Beltway, that the year was an abject disaster is a foregone conclusion. “Little seems to have gone right for the White House in 2013,” Politico noted this morning in a piece asking which administration had the worst fifth year. Obama had the “worst year in Washington,” the Washington Postconcluded last week. 2013 “has been a pretty terrible year” for the president, BuzzFeed argued.
This has been “Obama’s year from hell,” The New Republic said. When Beltway pundits aren’t comparing Obama’s 2013 to George W. Bush’s 5th year, they’re comparing it Richard Nixon’s 5th year.
Even the most enthusiastic Obama supporter would probably balk at heralding 2013 as a success, but the premise of these analyses seems a little excessive. Consider:
* Twice congressional Republicans threatened debt-ceiling default; twice Obama stood his ground; and twice the GOP backed down before Congress did real harm. The presidential leadership helped establish a new precedent that will benefit Obama, his successors, and the country.
* Congressional Republicans shut down the government to extract White House concessions. Obama and congressional Democrats stood firm and the GOP backed down.
* The Obama administration forged an international agreement to rid Syria of chemical weapons, struck a historic nuclear deal with Iran, and brought Israelis and Palestinians to the table together for the first peace talks in years.
* The economy has steadily improved, and 2013 is on pace to be the best year for U.S. job creation since 2005 and the second best since 1999.
* The “scandals” the media hyped relentlessly in the spring proved to be largely meaningless, and while the president’s poll numbers have dropped, his standing is roughly at the same point as two years ago.
Obviously, the Affordable Care Act’s open-enrollment period got off to a dreadful start, though there’s ample evidence that the system is the midst of a dramatic turnaround. Besides, two months of website troubles do not a year make.
And while Obama’s detractors will also note that no major legislation was signed into law this year, that just makes 2013 identical to 2011 and 2012 – when Americans elected a divided government featuring radicalized Republicans unwilling to compromise, the fate of good bills with popular support was sealed, but that’s hardly the White House’s fault.
Songs will never be sung in honor of Obama’s fifth year, but the “year from hell” talk seems disproportionate given the circumstances. There have been disappointments, but 2013 just hasn’t been that bad.

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Is Obama really doing worse than Bush and Nixon?

Don’t count him out just yet. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

The Week

Obama’s dismal poll numbers are prompting dire predictions about what’s in store for the rest of his presidency

ne year removed from a comfortable reelection, President Obama is now mired in the lowest point, at least in terms of public opinion, of his presidency.

Battered by a litany of bad headlines, the president’s approval rating has steadily fallen throughout the year, bottoming out in recent weeks in the low 40s. In a Washington Post/ABC poll released Tuesday, 43 percent of Americans said they approved of Obama’s job performance, while 55 percent disapproved.

Given that trend, Obama’s sputtering presidency is drawing comparisons to those of other recent presidents with dismal second terms. In particular, Obama’s presidency has been likened to that of George W. Bush, since the two presidents’ second term approval ratings charted strikingly similar paths.

Yet while Obama’s woes are quite serious, the hyperventilating comparisons overstate the degree to which he is in jeopardy of going the way of his predecessor.

To be sure, Obama is hardly in a good place for a second-term president with an ambitious agenda. He’s been dogged all year by mini-scandals and a do-nothing Congress, culminating with the government shutdown and, more pertinently, ObamaCare’s disastrous rollout. In November, a majority of Americans for the first time didn’t find Obama honest or trustworthy, a supposed death knell, some said, for Obama’s presidency.

“Once a president suffers a blow such as Obama is now suffering with his health-care law, it is difficult to recover,” wrote the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, adding that it was “starting to look as if it may be game over.”

Yet one month removed from that prognostication, there are signs Obama could be about to turn his presidency around.

On an important front, Obama has already regained the public trust. According to the last Post/ABC survey, majorities once again think Obama is honest and that he understands the problems of regular people. And though Obama’s approval rating is still horrendous, it appears to have at least plateaued.

Focusing solely on the raw polling numbers though, sans context, Obama’s presidency does stack up unfavorably to that of past presidents. As Business Insider noted, Obama’s approval rating is the lowest for a president at this point in his tenure since Richard Nixon and his Watergate-fueled 29 percent.

But that’s a horribly misleading comparison.

Of the six presidents in between Nixon and Obama, three never served a second term and so don’t fit into the comparison. And though George W. Bush had a marginally better approval rating in thePost’s final 2005 poll, his numbers overall were right in line with where Obama’s are now. (Obama has a marginal edge at present per Gallup, for instance.)

So, to rephrase the Nixon comparison with those qualifiers in mind: Obama’s approval rating is tied or better than that of all but two of the past five two-term presidents through this point in their presidencies. Not so dire (and clicky) now, is it?

Moreover, these reductive comparisons tend to strip out necessary context.

Bush’s poll numbers post-Katrina only soured as the Iraq War worsened and Americans turned, in huge numbers, against it. Obama’s biggest blow this year, by contrast, was the terrible debut of his health care law.

A continuous stream of bad headlines about ObamaCare could certainly further erode the president’s standing over the coming months and years. On the other hand, ObamaCare is finally on the mend. Enrollments are, though still below expectations, surging. And polls have shown the public beginning to come around on the health care law. A recent CBS/New York Times survey, for instance, found that opposition to ObamaCare had dropped a net 19 points since mid-November.

If the health care law continues to improve — or if any number of other things go right for Obama — the doldrums of late 2013 could quickly become a thing of the past. It’s worth noting that Obama’s approval rating fell to near-record lows in 2011, only to surge back into positive territory one year later.

There is a tendency in political prognosticating to miss the forest for the trees. Obama is in historically bad shape now (trees), but his circumstances are vastly different from those of his predecessors, and there are signs he could soon turn things around (forest).

Obama does, after all, have three years left in the White House to chart his own course.

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10 things you need to know today: December 10, 2013

The face of Nelson Mandela adorns a billboard at his memorial service.

The face of Nelson Mandela adorns a billboard at his memorial service. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

The Week

Obama praises Mandela at a massive memorial service, an ice storm hammers the East, and more

1. Obama eulogizes Mandela at memorial service
President Obama joined 100 other world leaders at a memorial service for Nelson Mandela in a Johannesburg soccer stadium on Tuesday. Obama said the late South African leader was an inspiration to him, personally, and an example of the power of reconciliation. Former presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter also attended in a high-profile show of American respect for Mandela, South Africa’s first black president. [ReutersCBS News]
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2. Icy storm continues to batter the East
A winter storm is continuing to ravage the East Coast on Tuesday. Snow and icy conditions forced airlines to cancel 775 flights on Tuesday, down from 1,900 on Monday and 2,800 on Sunday. “I don’t think it’s going to warm up anytime soon,” National Weather Service meteorologist Bruce Sullivan told Reuters. Authorities in Nevada are searching for two adults and four children who went out to play in the snow Sunday and didn’t return. [Christian Science MonitorCNN]
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3. Riot erupts in Singapore
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong ordered an investigation on Monday into Singapore’s first riot in four decades, which broke out in the Little India district after a foreign worker was struck and killed by a bus. Tensions had already been rising over the city-state’s large population of foreign workers. Police commissioner Ng Joo Hee called the violence intolerable. “It is not the Singapore way,” he said. [BloombergBBC News]
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4. U.S. sells its last GM stock, ending the bailout
The federal government sold its last shares of General Motors stock on Monday, officially ending the bailout of the troubled automaker. Taxpayers wound up losing $10.5 billion of the $49.5 billion invested five years ago. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said the money helped save a million jobs and keep the recession from becoming a depression. GM executives say losing the “Government Motors” label will be good for the company. [New York Times]
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5. Prosecutors charge Los Angeles deputies with abuse
Eighteen current and former Los Angeles sheriff’s deputies were indicted Monday on charges of abusing inmates and jail visitors. All of the defendants worked in jails in downtown L.A., part of the largest jail system in the country. Federal authorities have been looking into the county’s jails for more than two years following several lawsuits accusing deputies of misconduct and abuse. [New York Times]
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6. Zimmerman’s girlfriend says he didn’t point gun at her
George Zimmerman’s girlfriend is now saying she wants to drop all charges in a domestic violence incident that led to his arrest. The woman, Samantha Scheibe, said in her 911 call last month that Zimmerman had pointed a gun “at [her] freaking face,” but now she says he didn’t, according to an affidavit signed Friday and filed in a Florida court. Zimmerman, acquitted last summer in Trayvon Martin’s killing, faces assault and other charges. [Los Angeles Times]
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7. Former official from L.A. suburb convicted of corruption
Angela Spaccia, a former assistant city manager from a Los Angeles suburb, was convicted Monday on corruption charges including misappropriating public funds and falsifying government records. Prosecutors said Spaccia was involved in approving huge salaries for government officials — she made more than $340,000 — in a city afflicted with “corruption on steroids.” The case nearly drove the city, Bell, to bankruptcy. [Associated Press]
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8. Founder of French company is jailed over faulty breast implants
A Marseille court sentenced Jean-Claude Mas, founder of a French breast-implant company, to four years in prison on Tuesday four fraud. He was also fined $137,000. Mas’ company, Poly Implant Prothese, sold implants made with substandard silicone and prone to rupture to 300,000 women in 65 countries. The French government urged women to have the implants removed. Several other former PIP executives have also been jailed and fined. [France24]
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9. Men allegedly stole part of the car Paul Walker died in
California police have accused two men with stealing a roof panel of the mangled Porsche sports car in which actor Paul Walker of the Fast & Furious movie franchise died. Los Angeles County prosecutors on Monday filed grand theft charges against Jameson Witty, 18, and Anthony Janow, 25, for allegedly taking the part from a tow truck that was taking the wreckage of the Porsche Carrera GT away from the crash site. [Los Angeles Times]
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10. Curiosity rover finds traces of an ancient lake on Mars
NASA’s Curiosity rover has found evidence of an ancient freshwater lake on Mars, according to findings published in the journal Science on Monday. Scientists believe the lake was there about 3.5 billion years ago — around the time life was springing up on Earth — and lasted hundreds of thousands of years. The water might have been drinkable, and could have sustained life. [Washington Post]

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The Obama Administration Is Not Dead Yet

National Memo – Gene Lyons

“Not the headline I’d have written, but then I’m terrible at headlines. To paraphrase Mark Twain, rumors of the Obama administration’s demise are greatly exaggerated.  Absent malice or catastrophic failure, people forgive and forget. What’s more, should the Iran initiative succeed, the U.S. has an opportunity to avoid involvement in an endless succession of wars in the Middle East. Should it fail, we’re pretty much right back where we started. ” ~ Gene Lyons

For a guy whose presidency was supposed to be on life support, Barack Obama has certainly had a productive couple of weeks. With his poll numbers sinking toward George W. Bush territory — 53 percent in a recent CNN survey said he’s not a strong or decisive leader — Obama took action on two important issues that dramatized the power of the presidency.

One was about getting Congress to act; the other about preventing World War III.

But first, a few words about Obama’s political fortunes: With reports surfacing about great improvements in the Healthcare.gov website’s performance, what many have described as the nadir of Obama’s presidency may prove a short-term phenomenon.

Stone partisans aside, Americans want their presidents to succeed. With strong majorities saying they continue to like Obama personally, and to believe that he cares about people like them, he retains a reservoir of good will to sustain him until the positive effects of the Affordable Care Act become clearer.

However, if people doubt that Obama has the wherewithal to manage the gigantic enterprise that is the federal government, well, no wonder. Like many intellectuals and nearly all writers — his Dreams from My Father is a real book, not a ghostwritten campaign bio — Obama confuses saying something with doing something. He also has a terrible time admitting error — another occupational trait, I assure you.

His failure to make sure that somebody with real-world management skills supervised the Healthcare.gov rollout is the most incomprehensible blunder of his presidency. Had the site run properly, Obama’s ballyhooed “lie” about people keeping their insurance coverage — more of an opportunistic campaign exaggeration, actually — wouldn’t have caused a great ruckus, because most people whose insurance companies dumped them would have been mollified to learn that they’re getting a better deal.

People took Obama’s falsehood personally, unlike, say, George W. Bush’s deceptive assurances that he’d received “no warning” about 9/11 or his phony certitude about Saddam Hussein’s imaginary WMDs. That’s because nothing touches them more directly than health insurance. (Although talking about botched White House initiatives, how about the bleeping Iraq War?)

Also because it’s personal, they’re apt to forgive Obama when the law starts working for them. But slowly, one at a time, like the way they forgave Bill Clinton.

Most also see that if Obama has weaknesses, he also has formidable strengths. Agreeing with Senator Harry Reid to do away with Senate rules allowing Republicans to filibuster White House appointees took real political courage. Will Republicans retaliate when they get the chance? Probably. And that would be worse than total congressional paralysis how?

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SIX REASONS THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT ISN’T HURRICANE KATRINA

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President George W. Bush and Katrina support team.

Those who compare the Obamacare website failure to hurricane Katrina don’t seem to see the obvious flaw(s) in their “logic”.

The New Yorker – John Cassidy

Friday was the day when the world came down on top of President Obama—or, rather, theTimes did. In a scathing editorial, the Grey Lady lambasted the “incompetence of the administration in ushering in reforms that millions have been waiting for.” On the paper’s front page, one of its White House correspondents, Michael D. Shear, wrote that the “disastrous rollout” of the Affordable Care Act not only threatens the rest of the President’s agenda, “but also raises questions about his competence in the same way that the Bush administration’s botched response to Hurricane Katrina undermined any semblance of Republican efficiency.”

In writing about the rollout of the A.C.A., I, too, have used the term “disaster.” Referring to the over-all situation, I’ve also said that “it’s a mess.” But Hurricane Katrina? I can easily imagine why Republican politicians are making the comparison—it casts President Obama in a terrible light. But does it really stand up? I don’t think so, and here are six reasons why:

1) Obama got out of Air Force One: Whatever you think of it, and I’ve always had mixed feelings about it, the A.C.A. is a historic and proactive piece of legislation that was intended to fulfill Obama’s campaign promise of universal health care. Even if it were to fail, and it’s far too early to reach any conclusions about what its ultimate results will be, the President would deserve credit for tackling an issue that’s been festering for half a century or more. He saw a problem and walked toward it rather than away from it. And now that things have gone awry, he’s taken responsibility. “(T)hat’s on me,” he said on Thursday, while introducing some emergency fixes that will allow some purchasers of individual insurance policies to keep their existing plans.

Hurricane Katrina was a natural disaster, and such calamities are tough for any government to handle. The most damaging charge against President Bush isn’t that the rescue operation encountered difficulties—that was inevitable—but that he failed to take proactive steps. Rather than exercising leadership and mobilizing the nation’s resources to rescue a city that was literally underwater, he was passive, leaving the job to an underfunded and badly managed federal agency. To this day, one of the most damaging images of his Presidency is of him flying over New Orleans on Air Force One, looking out of the window at the devastation below, but not ordering the plane to land.

2) Nobody’s been killed: This one, I owe to Slate’s admirable Matt Yglesias. As he pointed out on Friday morning, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-three people died during and after Hurricane Katrina made landfall. How many would have been saved if the federal rescue program had been more effective, it is impossible to say. But the number almost certainly isn’t zero. In the “disaster” that is the A.C.A. rollout, a hundred and six thousand Americans have signed up for new individual insurance policies, and more than a hundred and sixty thousand have signed up for Medicaid. Those figures are a lot lower than the administration had been hoping for, but, as far as I know, they haven’t proved fatal to anybody.

3) This time, there is no “Brownie”: To put it kindly (very kindly), the Department of Health and Human Services doesn’t appear to have done a good job of building and testing Healthcare.gov. But the Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services, the agency within the Department of Health and Human Services that is responsible for the Web site, is run not by one of President Obama’s cronies but by Marilyn Tavenner, a veteran of the health-care industry who spent twenty-odd years working for Hospital Corporation of America. And Henry Chao, the C.M.S. official who oversaw the actual construction of the site, is a twenty-year veteran of the agency. While they haven’t covered themselves in glory, both appear to have been reasonably qualified for their jobs, which was hard to say about Michael Brown, the lawyer and friend of President Bush who was serving as the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency when Katrina hit, and who was the unfortunate subject of the president’s immortal remark, “Brownie, you’re doing a heckuva job.”

4) The war in Iraq is over: Hurricane Katrina struck in August, 2005, just as the insurgency in Iraq was entering its bloodiest phase. At that juncture, the White House was already facing heavy criticism because of its handling of the conflict. The pictures of death and destruction in New Orleans, which conveyed the impression that the federal government was powerless to intercede here at home, did untold damage to the Bush Administration’s reputation. It was almost as if it couldn’t do anything right.

The situation now is a bit different. While the Obama Administration faces a divided Congress, which makes it very difficult to pass any legislation, the White House has just won a significant political victory in the showdown over the budget and the debt ceiling. The country is at peace, and the President, until very recently, had high personal approval ratings. In the past few weeks, these have fallen sharply, which is hardly surprising. But at least his problems are restricted to one area: the A.C.A. There isn’t the pervasive sense of crisis, borne out of the war in Iraq, that blighted Bush’s second term.

5) Despite it all, Healthcare.gov appears to be fixable: Large-scale public-sector technology projects are often fraught with problems—something the Administration should have anticipated. In the worst-case scenarios, entire systems sometimes have to be scrapped and replaced with something better. That’s what happened in Britain a few years ago, when the National Health Service tried (and failed) to put patient records online. In this case, though, none of the experts inside or outside the Administration I’ve seen quoted have suggested that such an outcome is likely.

This looks like a repair job rather than a start-over project. It may take a while, and there’s likely to be some gremlins even after the Administration’s self-imposed deadline of December 1st. But, as far as I can make out, none of the individual problems that have been uncovered are insurmountable. It’s largely a matter of building additional capacity on the front end of the system—some of this has already been done—and repairing bugs on the back end, which had been sending incomplete and inaccurate information to insurers. This work, too, seems to be progressing.

6) The “disaster” narrative doesn’t yet represent the final cut: Once the Bush Administration had failed the immediate test of responding to Hurricane Katrina, there wasn’t much it could do to change the story. The victims were dead. The pictures from the Louisiana Superdome and other locales were lodged in the consciousness of the American public. Rebuilding a region hit by a natural disaster is, by its nature, a long and largely thankless task. But fixing Obamacare is different. If, and it’s a big if, in the next couple of weeks the Administration can get Healthcare.gov working fully—or even close to fully—it will make a big difference to how the A.C.A. is represented in the media and viewed by the American public.

At the moment, the people featured in news stories are mostly the losers from the reform—young, healthy people who want to keep their cheap, and sometimes inadequate, insurance policies. Meanwhile, many of the potential winners from the reform—families who earn low to moderate incomes, older people, people with preëxisting conditions who struggled to get any insurance—can’t get onto the Web site to enroll in new policies. If this changes, the media narrative will change with it. Reporters will find more people who like their new policies, and the generous subsidies that come with them. More attention will be paid to the state insurance exchanges, some of which are working pretty well. And some diligent journalists will even report on the steady rise in the number of people enrolling in Medicaid, many of whom didn’t have any insurance at all previously.

Taken together, these things could have a big impact on how Obamacare is perceived. Whatever happens, the rollout will be looked back upon as a big screwup. But the story’s ending has yet to be written.

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