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Ebola Isn’t a Matter of Politics

It’s time the Obama administration handled the crisis without petty finger-pointing.

by Peter Roff   •   US News & World Report

Ebola Disease VirusMixing the possibility of a deadly pandemic together with the incompetence of the Washington bureaucracy produces a cocktail that is poisonous to public confidence. No one gets high marks for the way the Obama administration has handled the arrival of Ebola on American soil – especially the president.

It’s times such as these, when little is known and even the slightest misstatement could cause a general panic that the American people look to the president for leadership. Instead, what they are getting is more of the arrogant, self-confident, “smartest guy in the room” pronouncements and hectoring for which President Barack Obama is now famous.

Instead Obama has failed time and again to demonstrate he has a firm grasp on the situation. He’s not taking concrete steps – using his phone and his pen – to prevent the disease from spreading. Instead he’s letting his subordinates – no doubt thoroughly schooled in the Saul Alinsky arts of manufacturing or at least using a crisis to force the political system to give in to your demands – make outrageous statements intended to turn a potential public health catastrophe into a weapon of political leverage in the closing days of the current campaign season.

The worst thing yet said is perhaps the contemptible charge leveled by National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins that if it weren’t for budget cuts insisted upon by congressional Republicans, the agencies under his direction might already have come up with a cure for Ebola.

The data contradicts his statement (the National Institutes of Health have had plenty of money since former House Speaker Newt Gingrich decided to plus up its budget back in the 1990s), but was an otherwise effective misdirection. [Read more...]

Spectacular incompetence turns deadly

Ebola Virus Diseaseby Joseph Curl   •   Washington Times 

It was only a matter of time.

President Obama, a short-term college professor and failed community organizer who became a mostly absentee state senator and then an all-but-invisible U.S. senator, has Petered out. Per the Peter Principle, he has risen to his level of incompetence — some would argue far beyond it.

The president — and the president alone — let Ebola into America. He could have made one phone call (even on Saturday, when playing his 200th round of golf as president) and said one sentence to protect all Americans from the usually fatal disease: “No one from West Africa gets into the country.”

Done. That single sentence would have kept Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian who had carried an Ebola sufferer back into her home after she was turned away at a hospital, out of Dallas. While he lied on an airport questionnaire about whether he had had contact with anyone suffering the disease, and while hospital workers blundered badly even though they knew he has been in Liberia, the bottom line is Duncan would not have been in America had the president banned visitors from Ebola-stricken countries. Simple. [Read more...]

Data points don’t support Obama’s claim that we’re ‘better off’

by the Oklahoman Editorial Board

obama reaganBarack Obama has always seen himself as an agent of change, a la Ronald Reagan. His goal was to do for progressive politics what Reagan had done for conservatism.

Thus it was no surprise that he parroted a Reagan trope in recently asking the question of whether Americans are better off today than when he took office — and then answering his own question by concluding that “the country is definitely better off than we were when I came into office.”

For Reagan, it was a campaign strategy drawn as a weapon against Jimmy Carter in 1980. Are you better off, he asked voters, than you were four years ago?

Such comparisons aren’t unique to Reagan and Obama, of course, but Reagan put his own stamp on it — quite successfully as it turns out.

“By every economic measure,” Obama told college students the other day, “we are better off than when I took office.” So not only has this president adopted the Reagan line (even crediting Reagan). He’s turned it into yet another example of repeated, robotic rhetoric in the endless campaign speeches made by a man “who is not running for anything except the exit,” in the words of Caroline Baum, a former Bloomberg News columnist. [Read more...]

White House Approving & Disapproving Content of Press Reports

by Paul Farhi   •   Washington Post

mediabiasWhite House journalists are creating an alternative system for distributing their media “pool” reports in response to the Obama administration’s involvement in approving and disapproving certain content in official reports.

A small group of reporters initiated an online forum this month in which they shared “pool” information among themselves, without White House involvement. The forum was set up by the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA), which negotiates with the White House’s press staff over access for journalists.

Pool reports — those summaries of the president’s public appearances that go to the news media at large and are used in countless news stories — are filed by a rotating group of journalists whose work is intended to be free of content changes by the White House.

The pool journalists, however, must submit their reports to the White House press office, which distributes them via e-mail to hundreds of news organizations and others. The White House maintains the list of recipients.

Reporters have complained that the Obama White House exploits its role as distributor to demand changes in pool reports and that the press office has delayed or refused to distribute some reports until they are amended to officials’ satisfaction. [Read more...]

A Patriot That Packs a Punch

Congressional approval of a plan to modernize the missile system is critical to U.S. defense.

by Peter Roff   •   US News & World Report

Patriot_missileThough lulled into a false sense of security by the fall of the Berlin Wall, America is waking up to the fact that the world is still a dangerous place. Events throughout the Obama administration have made it abundantly clear that freedom still has its enemies.

From terrorist attacks on U.S. soil to cyber-hacking, foreign regimes and groups are consistently testing not just our resolve but our ability to defend ourselves. The prospect of boots on the ground in the Middle East is once again a very real possibility thanks to the atrocities being committed in parts of Syria and Iraq by the Islamic State group.

Are our nation’s warfighters prepared for another prolonged engagement so far from home? It’s a question Congress needs to take seriously as it formulates budget allocations and approves weapons systems that will carry us through conflicts in different parts of the globe over the next several decades.  [Read more...]

Obamacare is in hiding until after the election

How the Administration is obscuring facts about your health insurance until after the election.

by Robert Laszewski    •   USAToday 

ObamaCare Cancelled PoliciesThe second Obamacare open enrollment is scheduled to begin on November 15th and end on February 15th. Instead of learning critical lessons from the mistakes of the first open enrollment fiasco, the Obama administration appears to be trying to silence potential critics.

Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that the administration sent an email to the insurance companies participating in Obamacare telling them to keep their mouths shut about the testing of the new health law’s enrollment system saying, that unlike last year, they would require “all testers (the insurance companies) to acknowledge the confidentiality of this process” before they would be allowed to participate. The administration reminded insurers that their confidentiality agreement with the Obama administration means that insurance executives “will not use, disclose, post to a public forum, or in any way share Test Data with any person or entity, included but not limited to media…” This includes any “results of this testing exercise and any information describing or otherwise relating to the performance or functionality” of the Obamacare enrollment and eligibility system. [Read more...]

China unrest and the future of the open internet

by Peter Roff    •    Washington Times

internet-censorship-ICANNMany of those watching the pro-democracy demonstrations underway right now in Hong Kong are concerned, appropriately, about the impact they will have on the global march of human freedom.

That we can see the demonstrations at all has a lot to do with the Internet, itself a tool that global pro-democracy movements have successfully used to make the entire world sit up and take notice of what they are trying to accomplish. Authoritarian leaders like China’s Xi Jinping therefore have an unsurprisingly cautious attitude toward the World Wide Web; they understand its open nature and the free flow of words and video pose a very real and constant threat to their power.

That openness is a direct result of the influence of core American values on Internet governance. The Internet was invented by the United States government, which has turned the management of many of its essential functions over to a California-based nonprofit corporation created for that specific purpose called ICANN – the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. Up to now the U.S. connection has insured the values enshrined in the U.S. Constitution shapes the way it operates. [Read more...]

The real unemployment is much higher and most Americans know it

by By Ken Braun    •    Michigan Live

unemployment-numbersJust one third of Americans know the official unemployment rate is around six percent, according to the latest Pew Research Center News IQ Quiz. A tiny 4 percent cited a lower total, while a whopping 45 percent guessed much higher.

Past versions of the Pew quiz have often been portrayed as a reason to bemoan the ignorance of the American people. This one has plenty of that go around. With four multiple choice options to select from 40 percent couldn’t identify Ukraine as a former component of the Soviet Union.

But regarding the unemployment rate, it’s the official statistics that don’t properly identify reality. [Read more...]

Little reason to battle against voter ID laws

Voter ID Fraud

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board

When they go to the polls in a few weeks, voters in many states, including Oklahoma, will be asked to show some form of identification. This is no thanks to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who made it his mission during six years on the job to undo a number of voter ID laws.

Holder, who is stepping aside soon, went so far as to compare voter ID laws to bygone Jim Crow-inspired laws designed to tamp down minority participation. The comparisons were beyond ridiculous, particularly given that in state after state, voter ID laws have withstood legal challenges from liberal interests. [Read more...]

ObamaCare: The Bad News Continues to Mount

by Robert E. Moffit     •     National Interest

ObamaCare Side EffectsOn November 15, open enrollment in the Obamacare exchanges begins again. Before the second act of our national healthcare drama commences, let’s review what we’ve learned in Act I.

For starters, everyone now knows that federal officials are challenged when it comes to setting up a website. But they’ve demonstrated the ability to dole out a huge amount of taxpayers’ money for millions of people signing up for Medicaid, a welfare program. And they’ve proved they can send hundreds of millions of federal taxpayers’ dollars to their bureaucratic counterparts in states, like Maryland and Oregon, that can’t manage their own exchanges. But there are many other lessons to be gleaned from Year One of Obamacare. Here are three of the most important ones.

1. Health costs jumped—big time. Huge increases in deductibles in policies sold through the exchanges were a big story in Florida, Illinois and elsewhere. While the average annual deductible for employer-based coverage was a little over $1,000, the exchange deductibles nationwide normally topped $2,000. [Read more...]

A Feeble Stance on Russian Aggression

by Laurie Ann Mylroie, Ph.D.Ukraine Map

Despite Ukraine’s September 5 cease-fire, a “protracted conflict” continues in the East, the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Human Rights warned Wednesday.  Over 3,600 people have been killed in fighting since April, with nearly 10% of those fatalities occurring since the cease-fire.  Rebels continue to fight for control of key sites, including the Donetsk airport, while Russian forces have increased their presence east of Mariupol, raising concern that rebels plan to launch a new offensive against that strategic port city or even to establish a land bridge to Crimea.  Meanwhile, the separatists are using the relative lull to solidify their hold over their self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, replete with their own nascent KGB.  As the U.N. noted, “Armed groups continued to terrorize the population in areas under their control, pursuing killings, abductions, torture, ill-treatment and other serious human rights abuses.” [Read more...]

Making Harding Look Good

The Obama administration has tarnished nearly every major federal agency. 

by Victor Davis Hanson    •    National Review

Scandal NewsMany have described the Obama departure from the 70-year-old bipartisan postwar foreign policy of the United States as reminiscent of Jimmy Carter’s failed 1977–81 tenure. There is certainly the same messianic sense of self, the same naïveté, and the same boasts of changing the nature of America, as each of these presidents was defining himself as against supposedly unpopular predecessors. But the proper Obama comparison is not Carter, but rather Warren G. Harding. By that I mean not that Obama’s scandals have matched Harding’s, but rather that by any fair standard they have now far exceeded them and done far more lasting damage — and without Obama’s offering achievements commensurate with those that occasionally characterized Harding’s brief, failed presidency.

The lasting legacy of Obama will be that he has largely discredited the idea of big government, of which he was so passionate an advocate. Almost every major agency of the federal government, many of them with a hallowed tradition of bipartisan competence, have now been rendered either dysfunctional or politicized — or both — largely because of politically driven appointments of unqualified people, or ideological agendas that were incompatible with the agency’s mission.

The list of scandals is quite staggering. In aggregate, it makes Harding’s Teapot Dome mess seem minor in comparison. [Read more...]

Passing the Buck on ISIS Failures Fits a Clear and Unmistakable Pattern

isis-militants-iraq terroristby Orange County Register

What’s the saddest statistic of the political season? Here’s one contender: a Google search for the phrase “Obama ISIS buck pass” yields about 478,000 results.

That’s what happens when a president makes comments like the ones Barack Obama made during an interview on “60 Minutes.” There, he haplessly explained that Jim Clapper, director of national intelligence, acknowledged he’d underestimated how quickly ISIS could rise to threaten the Mideast.

True enough – but also misleading, and another unforced error for our clearly beleaguered president. Mr. Obama should have recognized that he had opened himself up to legitimate charges of buck passing.

But instead of facing the music – as John F. Kennedy did in the wake of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 – Mr. Obama all but hid behind his new press secretary, Josh Earnest. [Read more...]

Obama’s super slow, trickle-up economy

by New York Daily News

Jobless RecoveryHappy days are not yet here again for American workers, regardless of the cheering generated by the government’s latest report on job creation.

The number of people collecting paychecks rose more than had been expected and the tally of people counted as jobless fell, placing the unemployment rate — 5.9% — at its lowest level since 2008.

While the trends are positive, they offer only distant hope to a middle class that is taking home less pay than it used to and can only watch as the wealthy enjoy ever greater prosperity.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way under President Obama, tribune of ordinary folks who, as he likes to say, play by the rules. [Read more...]

If You Like Your Internet, You Can Keep Your Internet. Actually No!

by George Landrith    •    Townhall

internet-censorshipLate one Friday afternoon, the Obama Administration announced its plans to cut the Internet loose from U.S. government oversight, giving control to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a private corporation created by the U.S. to manage the web. Since then both ICANN and the administration have gone to great pains to explain that the change would have little practical effect, be largely benign, and that the current U.S. role would not be taken over by other governments like China, Russia, Iran, or the European Union. Sadly, however, these assurances are the Internet equivalent of “If you like the health insurance plan you have now, you can keep it. Period.”

Most Americans know the Internet won’t improve if dictators from around the world are given a bigger role in its governance. Many countries — even those not run by dictators — have engaged in censorship, silenced dissent, and selectively shut the Internet down for authoritarian political reasons. [Read more...]