Quiz: How Dumb Does Obama Think We Are?

Quiz: How Dumb Does Obama Think We Are?

The Veterans Affairs policy fiasco is magnified by an insulting-public relations strategy.

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photo of Ron Fournier

May 20, 2014

News quiz: President Obama and his communications team hope that Americans are: 1) Dumb; 2) Distracted; 3) Numb to government inefficiency; 4) All of above.

Answer: 4, all of the above.

That answer along with utter incompetence are the best explanations for why the White House thought it could get away with claiming that the departure of Veterans Affairs official Robert Petzel was a step toward accountability for its scandalous treatment of war veterans.

Fact is, the department announced in 2013 that Dr. Petzel would retire this year.

“Well, Secretary Shinseki accepted Dr. Petzel’s resignation this afternoon. He was due to retire early next month, and obviously there has been a nomination made for his replacement,” White House Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough told CBS’s Major Garrett last week. “I leave to Rick the explanation of his decision, but there is no question that this is a termination of his job there before he was planning to go.”

No. This was neither a termination nor a housecleaning. It was a scapegoating. For all of its 21st-century savvy in the field of campaign technology, the Obama White House has repeatedly proven that its communications philosophy is stuck in the 20th century. Before the Internet gave voters instantaneous access to information, including every public utterance of the president and his team, White House strategists could hope to wear out the truth: If you said a lie enough, people might believe it.

It’s harder to BS the public these days. White House press secretary Jay Carney still tries. On Monday, he repeatedly suggested that the American Legion had praised the move.

“The American Legion said that the group looks at Petzel’s resignation as a, quote, step towards addressing the leadership problem at the VA. So I think that undercuts the assertion that that is not a meaningful development.”

Carney cited the American Legion nine times during the briefing.

Unfortunately for Carney and his boss, ABC’s intrepid White House correspondent Jonathan Karl has access to the Internet. “It turns out, however, the American Legion had issued a statement dismissing the resignation as ‘business as usual,’ ” Karl wrote.

The statement calls for the removal of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, whose firing would actually be a measure of accountability.  Writes Karl:

When asked about the discrepancy, the White House pointed ABC News to articles in The Washington Times and USA Today that posted on Friday and quoted American Legion officials calling the resignation a “step towards addressing the leadership problem at the VA.”

The official quoted, spokesman John Raughter, acknowledged saying it was a step forward but not much of a step.

“It was a small step,” Raughter told ABC News. “It was going to happen anyway. So, I suppose it was better than if he had stayed on the job.”

Was Raughter suggesting the problems at the VA had been addressed in a significant way?

“Not at all,” he said. “We feel there is a cultural change that needs to be made.”

In Obama’s defense, he inherited a dysfunctional VA, and the agency has been overwhelmed by veterans returning from two wars he is winding down. But he pledged to reform the VA after blasting the Bush administration in 2007. Instead of getting better, the health care bureaucracy has worsened and become corrupted. Long delays are covered up and veterans are dying while awaiting care.

It’s a policy travesty magnified by an insulting public relations strategy.

Reporter: WH Press Secretary Gets Questions from Reporters Before Press Briefing

Reporter: WH Press Secretary Gets Questions from Reporters Before Press Briefing

It’s just a show.

8:43 AM, MAR 20, 2014 • BY DANIEL HALPER

A CBS reporter from Arizona reveals that President Obama’s press secretary, Jay Carney, receives questions from the press in advance of his daily press briefing. In fact, she says, the reporters often receive the answers in advance of the briefing, too.

According to the reporter, Jay Carney told her this yesterday at the White House:

“It was a very busy day. We started here shortly after 8 o’clock with a coffee with press secretary Jay Carney inside his office in the West Wing,” says the reporter.

“And this was the off-the-record so we were able to ask him all about some of the preparation that he does on a regular basis for talking to the press in his daily press briefings. He showed us a very long list of items that he has to be well versed on every single day.

“And then he also mentioned that a lot of times, unless it’s something breaking, the questions that the reporters actually ask — the correspondents — they are provided to him in advance. So then he knows what he’s going to be answering and sometimes those correspondents and reporters also have those answers printed in front of them, because of course it helps when they’re producing their reports for later on. So that was very interesting.”

Obama admin. knew millions could not keep their health insurance.

Obama admin. knew millions could not keep their health insurance

Larry Downing / Reuters

U.S. President Barack Obama walks out to deliver remarks alongside Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, October 1, 2013.

President Obama repeatedly assured Americans that after the Affordable Care Act became law, people who liked their health insurance would be able to keep it. But millions of Americans are getting or are about to get cancellation letters for their health insurance under Obamacare, say experts, and the Obama administration has known that for at least three years.

Four sources deeply involved in the Affordable Care Act tell NBC NEWS that 50 to 75 percent of the 14 million consumers who buy their insurance individually can expect to receive a “cancellation” letter or the equivalent over the next year because their existing policies don’t meet the standards mandated by the new health care law. One expert predicts that number could reach as high as 80 percent. And all say that many of those forced to buy pricier new policies will experience “sticker shock.”

None of this should come as a shock to the Obama administration. The law states that policies in effect as of March 23, 2010 will be “grandfathered,” meaning consumers can keep those policies even though they don’t meet requirements of the new health care law. But the Department of Health and Human Services then wrote regulations that narrowed that provision, by saying that if any part of a policy was significantly changed since that date — the deductible, co-pay, or benefits, for example — the policy would not be grandfathered.

Buried in Obamacare regulations from July 2010 is an estimate that because of normal turnover in the individual insurance market, “40 to 67 percent” of customers will not be able to keep their policy. And because many policies will have been changed since the key date, “the percentage of individual market policies losing grandfather status in a given year exceeds the 40 to 67 percent range.”

That means the administration knew that more than 40 to 67 percent of those in the individual market would not be able to keep their plans, even if they liked them.

Yet President Obama, who had promised in 2009, “if you like your health plan, you will be able to keep your health plan,” was still saying in 2012, “If [you] already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance.”

“This says that when they made the promise, they knew half the people in this market outright couldn’t keep what they had and then they wrote the rules so that others couldn’t make it either,” said  Robert Laszewski, of Health Policy and Strategy Associates, a consultant who works for health industry firms. Laszewski estimates that 80 percent of those in the individual market will not be able to keep their current policies and will have to buy insurance that meets requirements of the new law, which generally requires a richer package of benefits than most policies today.

The White House does not dispute that many in the individual market will lose their current coverage, but argues they will be offered better coverage in its place, and that many will get tax subsidies that would offset any increased costs. “One of the main goals of the law is to ensure that people have insurance they can rely on – that doesn’t discriminate or charge more based on pre-existing conditions.  The consumers who are getting notices are in plans that do not provide all these protections – but in the vast majority of cases, those same insurers will automatically shift their enrollees to a plan that provides new consumer protections and, for nearly half of individual market enrollees, discounts through premium tax credits,” said White House spokesperson Jessica Santillo.

Individual insurance plans with low premiums often lack basic benefits, such as prescription drug coverage, or carry high deductibles and out-of-pocket costs. The Affordable Care Act requires all companies to offer more benefits, such as mental health care, and also bars companies from denying coverage for preexisting conditions.

 Today, White House spokesman Jay Carney was asked about the president’s promise that consumers would be able to keep their health care. “What the president said and what everybody said all along is that there are going to be changes brought about by the Affordable Care Act to create minimum standards of coverage, minimum services that every insurance plan has to provide,” Carney said. “So it’s true that there are existing healthcare plans on the individual market that don’t meet those minimum standards and therefore do not qualify for the Affordable Care Act.”
Courtesy of Heather Goldwater

Heather Goldwater, 38, of South Carolina, says that she received a letter from her insurer saying the company would no longer offer her plan, but hasn’t yet received a follow-up letter with a comparable option.

Other experts said that most consumers in the individual market will not be able to keep their policies. Nancy Thompson, senior vice president of CBIZ Benefits, which helps companies manage their employee benefits, says numbers in this market are hard to pin down, but that data from states and carriers suggests “anywhere from 50 to 75 percent” of individual policy holders will get cancellation letters. Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger, who chairs the health committee of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, says that estimate is “probably about right.” She added that a few states are asking insurance companies to cancel and replace policies, rather than just amend them, to avoid confusion.

A spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), an insurance trade association, also said the 50 to 75 percent estimate was consistent with the range they are hearing.

Those getting the cancellation letters are often shocked and unhappy.

George Schwab, 62, of North Carolina, said he was “perfectly happy” with his plan from Blue Cross Blue Shield, which also insured his wife for a $228 monthly premium. But this past September, he was surprised to receive a letter saying his policy was no longer available. The “comparable” plan the insurance company offered him carried a $1,208 monthly premium and a $5,500 deductible.

And the best option he’s found on the exchange so far offered a 415 percent jump in premium, to $948 a month.

“The deductible is less,” he said, “But the plan doesn’t meet my needs. Its unaffordable.”

“I’m sitting here looking at this, thinking we ought to just pay the fine and just get insurance when we’re sick,” Schwab added. “Everybody’s worried about whether the website works or not, but that’s fixable. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. This stuff isn’t fixable.”

Heather Goldwater, 38, of South Carolina, is raising a new baby while running her own PR firm. She said she received a letter last July from Cigna, her insurance company, that said the company would no longer offer her individual plan, and promised to send a letter by October offering a comparable option. So far, she hasn’t received anything.

“I’m completely overwhelmed with a six-month-old and a business,” said Goldwater. “The last thing I can do is spend hours poring over a website that isn’t working, trying to wrap my head around this entire health care overhaul.”

 Goldwater said she supports the new law and is grateful for provisions helping folks like her with pre-existing conditions, but she worries she won’t be able to afford the new insurance, which is expected to cost more because it has more benefits. “I’m jealous of people who have really good health insurance,” she said. “It’s people like me who are stuck in the middle who are going to get screwed.”

Richard Helgren, a Lansing, Mich., retiree, said he was “irate” when he received a letter informing him that his wife Amy’s $559 a month health plan was being changed because of the law. The plan the insurer offered raised his deductible from $0 to $2,500, and the company gave him 17 days to decide.

The higher costs spooked him and his wife, who have painstakingly planned for their retirement years. “Every dollar we didn’t plan for erodes our standard of living,” Helgren said.

Ulltimately, though Helgren opted not to shop through the ACA exchanges, he was able to apply for a good plan with a slightly lower premium through an insurance agent.

He said he never believed President Obama’s promise that people would be able to keep their current plans.

“I heard him only about a thousand times,” he said. “I didn’t believe him when he said it though because there was just no way that was going to happen. They wrote the regulations so strictly that none of the old polices can grandfather.”

For months, Laszewski has warned that some consumers will face sticker shock. He recently got his own notice that he and his wife cannot keep their current policy, which he described as one of the best, so-called “Cadillac” plans offered for 2013. Now, he said, the best comparable plan he found for 2014 has a smaller doctor network, larger out-of-pocket costs, and a 66 percent premium increase.

“Mr. President, I like the coverage I have,” Laszweski said. “It is the best health insurance policy you can buy.”

White House, IRS exchanged confidential taxpayer information.

Lois Lerner copy

White House, IRS exchanged confidential taxpayer information.

1:17 PM 10/09/2013

Top Internal Revenue Service Obamacare official Sarah Hall Ingram discussed confidential taxpayer information with senior Obama White House officials, according to 2012 emails obtained by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and provided to The Daily Caller.

Lois Lerner, then head of the IRS Tax Exempt Organizations division, also received an email alongside White House officials that contained confidential information.

Ingram attempted to counsel the White House on a lawsuit from religious organizations opposing Obamacare’s contraception mandate. Email exchanges involving Ingram and White House officials — including White House health policy advisor Ellen Montz and deputy assistant to the president for health policy Jeanne Lambrew — contained confidential taxpayer information, according to Oversight.

The emails provided to Oversight investigators by the IRS had numerous redactions with the signifier “6103.”

Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code forbids a federal employee from “disclos[ing] any return or return information obtained by him in any manner in connection with his service as such an officer or an employee.”

Federal employees who illegally disclose confidential taxpayer information could face five years in prison.

“Thanks, David. Thanks for the information on [6103],” White House official Lambrew wrote to IRS official David Fish in a July 20, 2012 exchange. “I am still hoping to understand whether the 50 percent rule is moot if the organization does not offer goods and services for sale to the general public. Do we assume that organizations like [6103] do offer goods and services for sale?”

Another email from Montz to Ingram and others refers to the “[6103] memo” and the “[6103] letter” while discussing organizations that are not required to file 990′s.

Ingram appeared before Rep. Darrell Issa’s House Oversight Committee Wednesday and claimed she could not recall a document that contained confidential taxpayer information.

“Well one of the areas of interest is there’s a significant redaction that quotes the statute 6103. Do you know who is underneath that blackout?” Issa asked Ingram.

“I don’t recall the document so I can’t help you with what’s underneath that redaction,” Ingram said.

“Her response has not put concerns to rest,” Oversight staffer Frederick Hill said. ”This caught people’s eye.”

Issa has requested unredacted copies of the emails, citing a prohibition from misusing Section 6103 “for the purpose of concealing information from a congressional inquiry.”

Ingram headed the scandal-ridden IRS office responsible for overseeing tax-exempt nonprofit groups before leaving to head the agency’s office in charge of Obamacare implementation.

An IRS voice mail message declined to comment on any media inquiries during the government shutdown, citing law.

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Ted Cruz Kneels in Prayer Outside the White House

Photo: Ted Cruz Kneels in Prayer Outside the White House

Here’s a shot of Sen. Ted Cruz praying in front of The White House yesterday.

No, he’s not praying that Barack Obama will overturn Obamacare and no, he’s not praying that he will occupy the presidency one day. Instead, he’s alongside Rev. Rob Schenck (from Faith and Action) and Rev. Frazier White (a Democrat and Obama supporter) praying for Saeed Abedini, who has been in an Iranian prison for one year. He is being persecuted for his faith to Jesus Christ.

Who says Ted Cruz isn’t bipartisan?

I have not only interviewed Ted Cruz many times, but I have spent time with him and his family. He is true Bible-believing Christian who is not ashamed of the Gospel. Of course the liberals don’t want to hear that nonsense. They’ll now be busy trying to figure out how to distort this picture in Adobe Photoshop.

Below are the words of Rev. Rob Schenck, the man who organized the prayer.

“In the image you see me at the center with my prayer stole as we intercede in Jesus’ name for our brother in Christ and imprisoned pastor, Saeed Abedini, who has suffered in an Iranian prison for one year because of his faithful witness to Christ. Kneeling with me on my left (the significance of the placement should be noted) is the U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, a tea party Republican from Texas. Sen. Cruz just made wall-to-wall headlines for his 20+ hour filibuster opposing Obamacare, the President’s signature legislative achievement.

On my right (again, note the orientation) is Rev. Frazier White, a Democrat community organizer from my neighborhood of Capitol Hill, and a huge supporter of President Obama. At the moment the photo was taken, though, the politically polar opposite positions of the Senator and the Pastor were irrelevant.

We were bowed before the Holy, the Supernal, the highest Lord in the universe, and the One and Only Eternal King. Everything else: party labels, policy positions, job descriptions, accents, zip codes, skin color, filibusters and organizing, were all utterly and completely dwarfed. In that moment of prayer–especially for a fellow Christian, a persecuted believer, whose circumstances are for most us unimaginable–our political and cultural squabbles seemed petty.

Pastor White, Sen. Cruz, Rev. Pat Mahoney, Jordan and Anna Sekulow, myself, and so many others, were there in front of the White House to do the really and truly important business of crying out to God for one of our own that was suffering for his faith.

Obama, convinced we are gullible introduces focus on economy.

Obama’s latest economic push has familiar feel

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FILE - This July 19, 2013 file photo shows President Barack Obama speaking to reporters in the Brady Press Briefing room of the White House in Washington. Drawing renewed attention to the economy, Obama will return this week to an Illinois college where he once spelled out a vision for an expanded and strengthened middle class as a freshman U.S. senator, long before the Great Recession would test his presidency. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, file)
FILE – This July 19, 2013 file photo shows President Barack Obama speaking to reporters in the Brady Press Briefing room of the White House in Washington. Drawing renewed attention to the economy, Obama will return this week to an Illinois college where he once spelled out a vision for an expanded and strengthened middle class as a freshman U.S. senator, long before the Great Recession would test his presidency. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, file)

WASHINGTON (AP) — If President Barack Obama’s new focus on the economy sounds familiar, that’s because he’s done it before.

Since the first year of his presidency, Obama has been launching — and re-launching — initiatives on the economy. Some came with new policy proposals, others with catchy slogans.

Remember 2011’s “Winning the Future” campaign? Or the “We Can’t Wait” initiatives that followed later that year? Just a few months ago, Obama was headlining the “Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity Tour.”

So far there’s no slogan attached to the White House’s latest initiative, which kicks off Wednesday in Galesburg, Ill. The president’s advisers are billing his remarks as a major address on the economy, though no new initiatives are expected to be announced. However, aides say there will be some fresh policy proposals in a series of follow-up speeches planned through September, most of which will be narrowly targeted on issues like housing, retirement security and expanding access to education.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama’s repeated attempts to orient his public agenda on the economy should serve as a reminder that “the president has always been focused on these issues.”

“That doesn’t mean we don’t need to continue to remind people that improving the economic situation in America is the principle reason why our fellow citizens elect and send people to Washington,” Carney said.

But congressional Republicans, who continue to be a roadblock for many of the president’s economic proposals, dismissed the White House’s new public relations push as a retread of old ideas.

“We’ve seen this song and dance before,” said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. “Whether it’s his health care law, his job-destroying energy policies, or the mountain of regulations piling up, it’s the president’s own policies that are responsible for this new normal of weak economic growth and high unemployment.”

Still, the timing of Obama’s latest economic initiative underscores the degree to which jobs and growth have been overshadowed in Washington since the president began his second term. That’s been driven in part by the White House, which has invested significant time on other areas of the president’s agenda, including the failed effort to enact stricter gun laws and the push for immigration reform, which succeeded in the Senate but faces an uncertain future in the House.

A series of foreign policy crises, like the Syrian civil war and Egyptian coup, have also competed for the White House’s attention. So have a flurry of recent controversies, including the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of political groups, the Justice Department’s seizure of journalists’ phone records, and renewed attention on the investigation into the deadly attack on Americans in Benghazi, Libya.

All the while, the economy has slowly but steadily improved. The housing market is coming back, the stock market is on the rise and consumer confidence is near its highest levels of Obama’s presidency. Nationwide unemployment is also falling, though at 7.6 percent, it still remains high.

But a new round of fiscal deadlines threaten to upend that progress, adding urgency to the White House’s desire to get the economy back on Washington’s radar — while at the same time trying to get the public to side with the president’s economic vision.

The potential fiscal showdown in September will focus on the debt ceiling and the automatic federal budget cuts that kicked in earlier this year. Obama wants to end the cuts before they extend into the next fiscal year. And some Republicans want more deficit reduction in exchange for raising the nation’s borrowing limit, a bargain Obama says he would not back.

Obama’s aides say that while Wednesday’s address and subsequent events will touch on the looming fiscal fights, they say they do not see the speech as a legislative negotiating tactic. Nor will the president lay out an economic “to-do” list for Congress, reflecting the White House’s recognition that many of the president’s proposals would almost certainly face opposition on Capitol Hill, particularly in the Republican-led House.

And that dynamic, just like Obama’s repeated economic PR campaigns, may again leave the public with a feeling that they’ve been here before.

Why it’s become clear that Obama’s White House is open to the rich and closed to the poor

Why it’s become clear that Obama’s White House is open to the rich and closed to the poor

President Obama’s pledges to open up the White House are going in reverse, says Mark McKinnon

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the sequester after a meeting with congressional leaders at the White House in Washington March 1, 2013

Access for the few – Obama’s White House Photo: REUTERS

American Way: Mark McKinnon

12:30PM GMT 16 Mar 2013

Once, only nobles were granted an audience with the King.

In America, we’ve prided ourselves on abandoning those privileges of class some 237 years ago, following that little uprising in the 13 colonies.

And we again congratulated ourselves at 12:01 pm Eastern Time on January 20, 2009, just moments after Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th president of the United States and as he committed to making his administration the most transparent and open in history.

But more than four years later it is time to ask questions. The most transparent administration ever? The most transparently political, yes. The most open government? If you have the money to buy access, yes.

Since last weekend, Mr and Mrs Regular Citizen have been denied the access people used to be granted to tour the White House, purportedly because of the clampdown on federal spending since the “sequester” that imposed cuts across the board.

And their cancellation is an austerity measure that saves a pittance, while more frivolous taxpayer funding for items like the White House dog walker continues.

Meanwhile, noble Americans can buy time with the president for a suggested donation of $500,000 to his new campaign group, Organising for Action.

Yes, the announcement offering access to the president for cold, hard cash was made openly and with total transparency. But it was also made without shame.

It’s the third version of Obama’s original monster campaign machine, Obama for America, which then morphed into a re-election campaign machine, Organising for America, on the third day of his first term.

It has now re-launched again as Organising for Action (OFA) – a non-profit, tax-exempt group headed by his former campaign advisers. Apparently no longer “for America”, the group might just as well be called Organising for Obama’s Agenda.

Its mission: to support the president in his attempt to achieve enactment of gun control, environmental policies and immigration reform.

At the two-day kick-off event last week for the new OFA’s founding summit, attended by 75 folks for the “bargain” rate of just $50,000, Obama at least acknowledged the concerns raised by others about the funding, purpose and influence of the organisation.

However, he brushed them aside. With greater humility than new Pope Francis, Obama said he prided himself on feeling no obligation in the past to the interests of the generous donors who made his election and re-election possible. Though paradoxically he also said he wanted “to make sure the voices of the people are actually heard in the debates that are going to be taking place”. So, he’ll take money to listen to the voices of the privileged, but not do their bidding?

May I humbly suggest he could hear more voices, more clearly if he mingled with the public he serves? Perhaps the White House could hold open tours for the public! Why has no one in his administration thought of that? And volunteers could manage those tours, to keep costs down!

But, of course, those are what have just been cancelled. Meanwhile, three calligraphers reportedly remain on staff. I suppose their services are needed for the special hand-lettered, gold-foiled invitations sent to the nobles who are willing to pay for an audience with the King.

OFA is a legal, tax-exempt advocacy organisation, established as a social welfare group under the rules of both the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Elections Commission. It can accept unlimited contributions, so long as it promotes the common good and does not primarily engage in electoral politics.

As it is not required to publicly disclose donors, OFA is actually one of those “shadowy” organisations Obama railed against as a candidate when he supported campaign finance reform.

In 2010 the Supreme Court made a controversial ruling known as Citizens United that allowed unlimited corporate and individual donations to so-called “super political action committees”, which at least have to disclose their donors, and to social welfare organisations, which do not.

At the time, Obama loudly criticised the decision, saying: “That’s one of the reasons I ran for president: because I believe so strongly that the voices of ordinary Americans were being drowned out by the clamour of a privileged few in Washington.”

But then he reversed course, giving his blessing to a super PAC supporting his 2012 re-election, and now to OFA. What has changed?

Obama is looking to his legacy. And his eye is on the 2014 Congressional elections. If he can maintain his appeal among the masses and help Democrats win back a majority in the House of Representatives, while maintaining control of the Senate, there will be no stopping his agenda.

He explained the “grassroots” purpose of OFA like this: “If you have a senator or a congressman in a swing district who is prepared to take a tough vote… I want to make sure they feel supported and they know there are constituencies of theirs that agree with them, even if they may be getting a lot of pushback in that district.”

Engaging voters is always a good thing. But the president should not charge for the privilege. If he will look out the Oval Office window beyond his own reflection, King Barack I will see the public he is meant to serve. He ought to invite them in.

Mark McKinnon, a former Republican strategist who worked on the campaigns of George W Bush and John McCain, is cofounder of No Labels, a non-profit organisation dedicated to bipartisanship, civil discourse and problem solving in politics

Obama, the puppet master.

Ann Compton

Obama, the puppet master.

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By JIM VANDEHEI and MIKE ALLEN | 2/18/13 10:29 PM EST

President Barack Obama is a master at limiting, shaping and manipulating media coverage of himself and his White House.

Not for the reason that conservatives suspect: namely, that a liberal press willingly and eagerly allows itself to get manipulated. Instead, the mastery mostly flows from a White House that has taken old tricks for shaping coverage (staged leaks, friendly interviews) and put them on steroids using new ones (social media, content creation, precision targeting). And it’s an equal opportunity strategy: Media across the ideological spectrum are left scrambling for access.

The results are transformational. With more technology, and fewer resources at many media companies, the balance of power between the White House and press has tipped unmistakably toward the government. This is an arguably dangerous development, and one that the Obama White House — fluent in digital media and no fan of the mainstream press — has exploited cleverly and ruthlessly. And future presidents from both parties will undoubtedly copy and expand on this approach.

“The balance of power used to be much more in favor of the mainstream press,” said Mike McCurry, who was press secretary to President Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Nowadays, he said, “The White House gets away with stuff I would never have dreamed of doing. When I talk to White House reporters now, they say it’s really tough to do business with people who don’t see the need to be cooperative.”

McCurry and his colleagues in the Clinton White House were hardly above putting their boss in front of gentle questions: Clinton and Vice President Al Gore often preferred the safety of “Larry King Live” to the rhetorical combat of the briefing room. But Obama and his aides have raised it to an art form: The president has shut down interviews with many of the White House reporters who know the most and ask the toughest questions. Instead, he spends way more time talking directly to voters via friendly shows and media personalities. Why bother with The New York Times beat reporter when Obama can go on “The View”?

At the same time, this White House has greatly curtailed impromptu moments where reporters can ask tough questions after a staged event — or snap a picture of the president that was not shot by government-paid photographers.

The frustrated Obama press corps neared rebellion this past holiday weekend when reporters and photographers were not even allowed onto the Floridian National GolfClub, where Obama was golfing. That breached the tradition of the pool “holding” in the clubhouse and often covering — and even questioning — the president on the first and last holes.

Obama boasted Thursday during a Google+ Hangout from the White House: “This is the most transparent administration in history.” The people who cover him day to day see it very differently.

“The way the president’s availability to the press has shrunk in the last two years is a disgrace,” said ABC News White House reporter Ann Compton, who has covered every president back to Gerald R. Ford. “The president’s day-to-day policy development — on immigration, on guns — is almost totally opaque to the reporters trying to do a responsible job of covering it. There are no readouts from big meetings he has with people from the outside, and many of them aren’t even on his schedule. This is different from every president I covered. This White House goes to extreme lengths to keep the press away.”

For Christmas, Obama is hosting a Korean Rapper Who Hates American Soldiers and “Rapped Kill them all slowly and painfully,”

For Christmas, Obama is hosting a Korean Rapper Who Hates American Soldiers and “Rapped Kill them all slowly and painfully,”

First the news report and then my comments.

December 7, 2012 12:25 PM
(David Becker/Getty Images)

(David Becker/Getty Images)

PSY has been taking over America with his surprise smash hit “Gangnam Style” but there’s new information on the South Korean pop star that will soon change his popularity among U.S. fans.

It turns out PSY has been involved in several anti-American protest performances. According to Mediate.com he smashed a model U.S. tank while onstage in 2002 to oppose 37,000 U.S. troops that descended on the Korean Peninsula.

A few years later, PSY cursed Americans after a South Korean missionary was executed. His song “Dear American” sets the record straight.

“Kill those f***ing Yankees who have been torturing Iraqi captives/Kill those f***ing Yankees who ordered them to torture/Kill their daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law and fathers/Kill them all slowly and painfully,” he raps.

PSY is slated to perform for President Obama for anti-american, Gangnam style, psy special to air on TNT Friday, December 21. As a result,  a petition to rescind his invitation   has been created by outraged Americans for his anti-American song lyrics.”

Think what this means: For his Christmas in Washington Special next Friday Obama will feature a Korean Rapper who hates America.  Here are the words to one of his songs: “Kill those f***ing Yankees who have been torturing Iraqi captives/Kill those f***ing Yankees who ordered them to torture/Kill their daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law and fathers/Kill them all slowly and painfully,”

As I have been trying to tell anyone who would listen, Obama has neither sensitivity nor restraint in his relentless campaign to insult, humiliate, desecrate all that we hold dear in this nation.  Obama’s actions remind me of a moment in the French Revolution.  To insult and degrade Catholicism, they took a prostitute, dressed her like the Virgin Mary, stood her up in front of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris and with shouts of praise, called her the QUEEN OF HEAVEN”  This rapper is Obama’s equivalent “raison de guerre.

How many worthy musicians did Obama have to choose from for a Christmas Special?  How many singers have sacrificed to go and sing for our troops did he pass over in favor of a rapper who wants them tortured and killed?  How many Christian artists could he have asked to come? 

No, instead to expand his revolution, to drive home the point that he is a radical hipster to his adoring public, our alleged Commander in Chief goes out of his way to inflict pain on our men and women in uniform even while they serve and cannot come home for Christmas.

This act by Obama goes so far beyond the pale that it makes me wonder if he has crossed some spiritual line to force the Hand of God.   Time to pray fervently for a miracle of national repentance.

First time in American History: Obama and White House refer to the National Christmas Tree as the “Holiday Tree.” Ben Stein lashes out on CBS News against the War on Christmas.

Apparently the White House referred to Christmas Trees as Holiday Trees for the first time this year which prompted CBS presenter, Ben Stein, to present this piece which I would like to share with you. I think it applies just as much to many countries as it does to America.
the family

The following was written  by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS Sunday Morning Commentary.

 

I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejewelled trees, Christmas trees. I don’t feel threatened. I don’t feel discriminated against. That’s what they are, Christmas trees.

It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say, “Merry Christmas” to me. I don’t think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn’t bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a crib, it’s just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can’t find it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat.

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship celebrities and we aren’t allowed to worship God? I guess that’s a sign that I’m getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the America we knew went to.

In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it’s not funny, it’s intended to get you thinking.

Billy Graham’s daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her: “How could God let something like this happen?” (regarding Hurricane Katrina). Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said: “I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we’ve been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?”

In light of recent events… terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O’Hare (she was murdered, her body found a few years ago) complained she didn’t want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbour as yourself. And we said OK.

Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn’t spank our children when they misbehave, because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock’s son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he’s talking about. And we said okay.

Now we’re asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don’t know right from wrong, and why it doesn’t bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.

Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with ‘WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.’

Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world’s going to hell. Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says. Funny how you can send ‘jokes’ through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing. Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.

Are you laughing yet?

Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you’re not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it.

Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us.

Pass it on if you think it has merit.

If not, then just discard it…. no one will know you did. But if you discard this thought process, don’t sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in.

My Best Regards, Honestly and respectfully,

Ben Stein