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The Obama Watch

What Obama Didn’t Say About the Economy

By 10.15.14

In his speech the day before the federal government reported U.S. job growth was 248,000 in September, President Obama painted a picture that made the current state of the American economy look like the grand fireworks finale on the Fourth of July — everything simultaneously and beautifully exploding to more dazzling and far-reaching levels.

“Unemployment down, jobs up,” Mr. Obama asserted. “Manufacturing growing. Deficits cut by more than half. High School graduation up. College enrollment up. Energy production up.”

Obamanomics, allegedly batting a thousand — everything that should be up was up and everything that should be down was down.

“By every economic measure, we are better off now than we were when I took office,” declared Mr. Obama.

Well, not exactly “every economic measure.” Some things went up during President Obama’s White House years that weren’t included on his checklist of successes.

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A Further Perspective

Ultimatum to Nurses: Make a Mistake and You Die

By 10.14.14

On Sunday, health officials announced that a nurse who had treated Thomas Eric Duncan, the Ebola-infected Liberian, has the virus and is in isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, the same hospital where Duncan died. This news exposes the falsehood behind the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s repeated assurances for months that “U.S. hospitals can safely manage patients with Ebola.” That’s a whopper.

Dr. Dan Varga, the Dallas hospital’s chief medical officer, confirmed that the nurse became infected, despite wearing CDC prescribed protective gear, including waterproof gown, gloves, goggles, and a plastic face shield when caring for Duncan. Eighteen other hospital staff are being watched for symptoms.

No wonder. Treating Ebola patients is a deadly job. More than 233 doctors and nurses have caught Ebola and died in Africa this year. Many had limited equipment and training, but the fatalities also include renowned epidemiologist John Taban Dada, medical director of the two largest hospitals in Liberia, U.N. doctors, and two healthcare workers from the highly trained Doctors Without Borders teams.

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Special Report

Wendy Davis: Way Over the Line

By 10.14.14

My opponent wishes to rape women, but he cannot, because he is crippled. That’s the gist of Wendy Davis’s argument for why she should be elected governor of Texas over her Republican opponent, Greg Abbott. Needless to say, the people of Texas have not been too receptive. It’s hard to imagine what sort of audience she thought she was addressing — a Viking clan choosing a leader for its next raiding party?

The already infamous wheelchair ad Davis launched Friday was swiftly and widely denounced, from Mother Jones to MSNBC to the Washington Post, but I’d like to applaud Davis, and encourage her to keep going. She might not be the worst major political candidate of all time just yet, but she still has almost a month to go. Maybe her next ad should suggest Abbott uses baby pandas for target practice, or that he was once kicked out of a Juggalo gathering for indecency. At the least, maybe Donald Glover will work her into his bit about insults involving wheelchairs.

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Main Street U.S.A.

When Duty Doesn’t Call

By 10.14.14

Americans will cease arguing over the federal Voting Rights Act and its intricacies — oh, I imagine around the time Texas starts exporting ground water to Minnesota, or the Lord returns to judge the quick and the dead.

Mandatory voter ID laws passed by Republican legislatures in Texas, Arkansas, and Wisconsin have been under legal assault by Democrats. A lower federal court order expanding statewide early voting and same-day registration in Ohio got overturned by the Supreme Court — which had before it, at the same time, an appeal from North Carolina asking affirmation of its right to eliminate same-day registration and voting, along with out-of-precinct voting.

Democrats see in these various state laws an evil Republican attempt to suppress voting by minority group members likely to — duh — vote Democratic. Requirements to present photographic identification draw particular scorn. Republicans say all they want to do is make sure voting procedures are honest and reflective of actual popular will.

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The Charlie Watch

What We Have Here Is a Campaign to Suppress the Other Side’s Willingness to Vote

By 10.14.14

The folks who count these sorts of things, and what a dreary way to spend the day this must be, say that Florida’s Republican governor, Rick Scott, and his Democratic challenger, Charlie Crist, have already spent more than $70 million for the privilege of serving four more years in Tallahassee. Scott has spent a little more than Crist. But they’ve both spent a packet. The expensive result is a race that remains stubbornly within the margin of error.

Most of these millions have gone for attack TV ads, which surely most Florida voters are now, three weeks from Election Day, treating as a particularly repellent form of white sound. Background noise that is always there — “My opponent is a low-down, thieving, no good…” — but that there is no longer any reason to attend to.

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The Health Care Spectator

Ebola: The President Is Responsible

By 10.14.14

“We can make government again responsive to people not only by cutting its size and scope and thereby ensuring that its legitimate functions are performed efficiently and justly.” —President Ronald Reagan, Conservative Political Action Conference, March 20, 1981 

A more perfect description of what’s wrong with the Obama White House’s handling of the Ebola crisis could not be had. But first? 

Two days after the death of Ronald Reagan in 2004, left-wing AIDS activist Larry Kramer wrote this charming missive in the Advocate. The title? “Adolph Reagan.” Wrote Kramer, in part:

Our murderer is dead. The man who murdered more gay people than anyone in the entire history of the world, is dead. More people than Hitler even.…

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Local or National Elections?

Under a New Left President, All Politics Is National

By 10.14.14

Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill once said, “All politics is local.” That may have been true in Tip O’Neill’s day, but some elections are decisively on national issues — and the Congressional elections this year are overwhelmingly national, just as the elections of 1860 were dominated by one national issue, namely slavery.

In 1860, some abolitionists split the anti-slavery vote by running their own candidate — who had no chance of winning — instead of supporting Abraham Lincoln, who was not pure enough for some abolitionists. Lincoln got just 40 percent of the vote, though that turned out to be enough to win in a crowded field.

But what a gamble with the fate of millions of human beings held as slaves! And for what? Symbolic political purity?

This year as well, there are third-party candidates complicating elections that can decide the fate of this nation for years to come. No candidate that irresponsible deserves any vote. With all the cross-currents of political controversies raging today, what is the overriding national issue that makes this year’s Congressional elections so crucial?

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Ben Stein's Diary

The Down Side of Life in Beverly Hills

By 10.13.14


If you were to drive by our home in Beverly Hills, you would think that the people who live there have it made. The lawn is green. The trees are tall and leafy. The flowers are vibrant and the paint is clean and white.

But in fact, my wife and I are under more or less constant attack.

Someone hacked my Citibank MasterCard starting a few months ago. He started charging things on my card while I was in North Idaho. He charged over $30,000 worth at local stores in Southern California while — at the same hours — I was charging groceries and gasoline in Sandpoint, Idaho. Somehow, this never triggered any suspicion by Citi. It took me weeks and days on the phone with Citibank to get this cleared up. I am not at all certain it’s cleared up yet.

Last summer, my wife got an AT&T “smart phone.” The services she signed up for were supposed to cost about $100 a month. Instead, her bills were $1,500 a month. When we inquired about this, we were told it was because of all of my wife’s business downloads, videogames, sports apps, and international calls.

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Enemy of the Week

The President’s Search for a New Beginning

By 10.13.14

Leon Panetta was the flavor of last week, not only because he allowed Joe Biden to come across as profound, when, at his usual haunts at Harvard, Joe observed, “At least give the guy a chance to get out of office.” So our veep calls his boss “the guy.” Talk about “inappropriate,” which is how he characterized Leon’s dismissive remarks about our still-serving president.

Leon responded in kind. “I don’t think you put history on hold,” he noted. But it also sounds to us he’s put it in reverse. Overlooked has been his comment that the president’s ineptness and lack of fire stem from self-doubts about his legitimacy, which, as the New York Times described Leon’s thinking, “has been challenged more than any of his predecessors by accusations like the unsubstantiated claim that he was not born in the United States.” So now we have anti-Obama Democrats hiding behind the so-called birthers. Out of long-suppressed guilt for not having vetted their “guy” in the first place?

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The Right Prescription

What’s the Matter With Milton Wolf?

By 10.13.14

It has occasionally been claimed that the Civil War began not at Fort Sumter in South Carolina but on the banks of a small creek in Kansas, where John Brown and his sons murdered five men in what later became known as the “Pottawatomie massacre.” Today, a less grisly civil war is being fought throughout that state between disgruntled supporters of Tea Party candidate Milton Wolf and “establishment” Republicans working to reelect Senator Pat Roberts, who defeated Wolf in a hard-fought GOP primary. This internecine conflict may well prevent the Republicans from regaining a majority in the U.S. Senate.

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