Water Cooler

WATER COOLER

The Water Cooler is written by Washington Times staffers.

  • Campaign buttons are ready for distribution at an Iowa kickoff event for the national Ready for Hillary group led by Craig Smith, senior adviser to the Ready for Hillary group, in Des Moines, Iowa, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014. Ready for Hillary is a so-called super PAC building a national network to benefit Clinton if she decides to seek the presidency in 2016. The gathering of Iowa Democrats including the state chairs of both Clinton and President Barack Obama's 2008 campaigns. (AP Photo/Justin Hayworth)

    A startling 20 percent of Democratic lawmakers already endorse Hillary Clinton for president

    By Jennifer HarperPublished January 29, 2014 Comments

    There's much talk about early bird political action committees who are already fundraising for a potential Hillary Clinton campaign for president. Such news takes a back seat to a close head count on Capitol Hill by The Hill newspaper, revealing how many Democratic lawmakers have stepped forward to endorse Mrs. Clinton, though she has yet to declare her intentions. The numbers so far: 18 senators, 16 of whom are female - and 39 members of the House, a roster that also includes 13 women. "The level of support is astounding, especially two-and-a-half years before the Democratic Party hosts its nominating convention. The total represents more than 20 percent of the 253 Democrats in the House and Senate. It is also more than half of the lawmaker endorsements Clinton received in 2008," point out Jasmine Sachar and Bob Cusack, who made the count. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland is ...

  • The no-baking-required ice cream cake has two flavors of ice cream, two sauces and cherries on the top. (Associated Press)

    Hey food police: calling obesity a 'disease' is actually a health risk

    by Jennifer HarperPublished January 28, 2014 Comments

    With much fanfare last summer, the American Medical Association declared that obesity was a disease, and should be treated as such. Psychologists are not so sure, however. A study released Tuesday, in fact, says that labeling obesity as a disease may undermine healthy behaviors. A trio of researchers say the trend could "encourage the belief that weight is unchangeable and make attempts at weight management seem pointless." Chubby folks themselves are particularly vulnerable to this belief, they say. "Considering that obesity is a crucial public-health issue, a more nuanced understanding of the impact of an 'obesity is a disease' message has significant implications for patient-level and policy-level outcomes," says Crystal Hoyt, a psychological scientist with the University of Richmond. The AMA's resolution in the matter called obesity a "multimetabolic and hormonal disease state" which could bring on Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. "The suggestion that is not a disease ...

  • The White House is promoting "enhanced livestream" viewing of President Obama's State of the Union address and a follow-up "Big Block of Cheese Day" as a symbol of the administration's transparency. (WHITE HOUSE)

    Cheese and an 'enhanced experience': White House goes showbiz on the State of the Union address

    by Jennifer HarperPublished January 27, 2014 Comments

    It's a tough audience. The annual primetime State of the Union address is not exactly galvanizing the viewing public. Just 28 percent say they definitely plan to watch President Obama's address on Tuesday evening, according to a new Harris poll. That includes 26 percent of Republicans and 36 percent of more loyal Democrats. Another 40 percent overall say "maybe" and less than a third a flat "no." And the biggest complaint about Mr. Obama, according to the survey of more than 2,000 respondents? Sixty percent agree that the president spends too much time talking and there isn't enough action." What to do? Serious-minded strategies at the White House appear to be giving way to entertainment. Though worried Americans have multiple concerns over the economy, healthcare and other issues, behind-the-scenes creative folk on President Obama's staff have responded with some jaunty promotions. A video featuring doctored historic footage of past presidential ...

  • President Bush is applauded by Vice President Dick Cheney (left) and House Speaker Dennis Hastert, of Ill. while delivering his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in 2004. (Associated Press)

    Cruz calls it a 'circus': the State of the Union spectacle begins

    by Jennifer HarperPublished January 24, 2014 Comments

    It is is political theater at its most frantic: the State of the Union address - SOTU in popular parlance - may now stand for "so too" much. The annual rite is amplified by shrill news coverage and endlessly endlessly punctuated by partisan applause, planned distractions, mystifying protocols and annoying insider behaviors. The speech-as-spectacle has strayed from the austere path recommended in Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution which advises that the president of the moment shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." Yes, well. It's oh, so much more these days. The masters of showmanship over at the White House are using the speech on Tuesday night to drum up the Democratic cause, offering an "enhanced broadcast" and "exclusive graphics" to those who sign up ...

  • ** FILE ** In this Dec. 11, 2011 file photo, Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow prays in the end zone before the start of an NFL game against the Chicago Bears, in Denver. Peyton Manning has joined the Broncos. The addition of Manning could well lead to Denver trading Tebow, even though the popular QB energized the Broncos in leading them to the playoffs last season despite some uneven play. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)

    Half of American fans say God and 'supernatural' forces are in play during sports events

    by Jennifer HarperPublished January 21, 2014 Comments

    So do you say a little prayer during a pivotal play or wear lucky socks during a big game? You are not alone. "Just ahead of the 2014 Super Bowl, 50 percent of sports fans see some aspect of the supernatural at play in sports, meaning they either pray to God to help their team, have thought their team was cursed at some point in time, or believe that God plays a role in determining the outcome of sporting events," reports a new survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, a nonpartisan, non-profit group based in the nation's capital. A fervent 26 percent of the respondents say they have prayed that "for God to help their team", while an equal number have entertained the notion that their team was "cursed." The gridiron tends to bring out this behavior. "Football fans are also more likely than other fans to say ...

  • FILE - This Aug. 12, 2013 file photo shows New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaking in New York. Bloomberg made a $350 million pledge to Johns Hopkins University in 2013. Philanthropy in 2013 made a comeback in large donations with the nation’s wealthiest donors giving more than $3.4 billion to charity, according to a new tally of the top 10 gifts of 2013 by the Chronicle of Philanthropy.  (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

    Nanny to the news? Former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg goes back to journalism

    by Jennifer HarperPublished January 20, 2014 Comments

    Even a billionaire ex-mayor of major city must do something to keep busy when the bustle is over - teach, speak, create a new foundation, take a long vacation. That's not what former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has in mind, however. Now three weeks out of office, and he's already back at work at the Manhattan headquarters of Bloomberg News, working from a desk on the fifth floor. Mr. Bloomberg is also showing up at every daily news meeting in recent days to have his say, and weigh in on the big stories. Those meetings begin at 7:30 a.m., incidentally. "Mr. Bloomberg's dive back into the news side of the organization has not only caught employees by surprise, but it has also worried some that the division's editorial independence could be called into question," points out New York Times media writer Nathaniel Popper. "There's a discussion of the ...

  • National Intelligence Director James Clapper pauses during a Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013 in Washington. U.S. intelligence officials say the government shutdown is seriously damaging the intelligence community’s ability to guard against threats. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

    Director of National Intelligence James Clapper's personal statements on new surveillance guidelines

    by Jennifer HarperPublished January 17, 2014 Comments

    "Today, President Obama announced new guidelines for Intelligence Community foreign intelligence surveillance programs. His decisions were guided by recommendations from the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board and in close consultation with Congress and Intelligence Community leaders," Mr. Clapper said in a statement shared with The Washington Times. "The President took a measured and thoughtful approach to the initiatives he announced today. His reforms are focused on striking the right balance between making sure we have the tools necessary to conduct intelligence, and ensuring that we are being as transparent as possible and abiding by protocols that protect the civil liberties and privacy of all Americans. He reminded us that as technology advances, we continue to face new and evolving threats to our national security and must adjust our policies and practices to ensure that our intelligence activities are both necessary and ...

  • G. Stuart

    President Obama's proclamation for 'Religious Freedom Day' recognizes atheists and agnostics

    by Jennifer HarperPublished January 16, 2014 Comments

    "The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, penned by Thomas Jefferson, declared religious liberty a natural right and any attempt to subvert it 'a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either.' ... Today, America embraces people of all faiths and of no faith. We are Christians and Jews, Muslims and Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs, atheists and agnostics." "Our religious diversity enriches our cultural fabric and reminds us that what binds us as one is not the tenets of our faiths, the colors of our skin, or the origins of our names. What makes us American is our adherence to shared ideals - freedom, equality, justice, and our right as a people to set our own course." "America proudly stands with people of every nation who seek to think, believe, ...

  • Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee "might be a 'meeting in the middle'" one analyst says.

    Mike Huckabee wants to outlaw the word 'RINO' in the name of GOP unity

    by Jennifer HarperPublished January 15, 2014 Comments

    RINO: It is a popular acronym among conservatives who ponder political intricacies. "Republican in name only" designates those elected officials or party members whose liberal leanings outshine their conservative values - like favoring big spending or big government, for example. Hey, is this guy an authentic Republican, or a sneaky RINO? That's what critics typically want to know. In the age of fractured demographics, divided loyalties and close elections, those critics have a point. Yet RINO has now become a rallying cry for Republican Party unity - at least according to former presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, who wants his fellow Republicans to stop using the term. "What's the Republican Party's biggest obstacle in this year's elections? Republicans! With Benghazi, Obamacare, NSA spying, al Qaeda and the still-staggering economy, 2014 should be a record year for the GOP. But they risk disaster if they let the primaries be hijacked by ad ...

  • Photo courtesy of Rush Limbaugh / Associated Press

    Moment of mirth: Americans admire Rush Limbaugh more than Hillary Clinton

    by Jennifer HarperPublished January 14, 2014 Comments

    Rush bests Hillary? Talk show host more admired than former senator and Secretary of State? In yet another telling cultural moment, a new survey from the Times of London and YouGov asked respondents in a dozen nations who they "most admired" in the world. The question was open-ended rather than multiple choice, incidentally. In the U.S., Pope Francis was in first place, followed by President Obama, Billy Graham, former President George W. Bush, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, the Dalai Lama, former President Bill Clinton, Rush Limbaugh, and in 10th place, Hillary Clinton. In fourth place, Mr. Bush's stature is of note. The phrase "Miss me yet?" comes to mind. But there was some merriment among conservatives who noted that the oft vilified Mr. Limbaugh got higher marks than Mrs. Clinton. He was amused as well. "Shock and dismay that the radio entertainer - not even television - the radio entertainer, ...

  • House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, last week led the charge to undo some of the sequester cuts, replacing them with more spending now, offset by promised fees and cuts in the future. Mr. Boehner is one of a number of members of Congress who have changed their stance on the automatic cuts since the 2011 debt deal that set the sequesters in place. (Associated Press)

    Fed up tea party and conservative critics attack John Boehner over 'ideologically bankrupt' GOP

    by Jennifer HarperPublished January 13, 2014 Comments

    Potential political woes are multiplying in the hallowed halls of the U.S. Capitol. The Tea Party Leadership Fund PAC has declared that House Speaker John Boehner is an enemy of conservatives, and is acting, well, according. There's a public petition against the Ohio Republican, an advertising buy, a new website - all coordinated by a group that claims to be the nation's largest political action committee for the grassroots movement. "John Boehner has declared war on conservatives demanding lower taxes and limited government," says talk radio host Rusty Humphries, spokesman for new campaign. "Today we declare war on him. We intend to send a message to his fellow 'Republicans In Name Only' that such ideologically bankrupt leadership must come to an end." He hopes to garner a million signatures and articulate the liberty-minded tea party case against intrusive federal bureaucracy and bodacious spending for voters. Mr. Humphries points to consistently ...

  • New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, right, arrives at Fort Lee, N.J., City Hall,  Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014. Christie traveled to Fort Lee to apologize in person to Mayor Mark Sokolich. Moving quickly to contain a widening political scandal, Gov. Chris Christie fired one of his top aides Thursday and apologized repeatedly for the "abject stupidity" of his staff, insisting he had no idea anyone around him had engineered traffic jams to get even with a Democratic mayor. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

    Networks offer 44 times more coverage to Christie's traffic woes than to IRS targeting of conservative groups

    by Jennifer HarperPublished January 10, 2014 Comments

    Yes, there's a media feeding frenzy around New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and so-called "bridge-gate", which may or may not lead to serious political peril for him. The coverage cycle is so swift that some news organizations wonder when the headlines will shift to the predictable "Christie comeback" scenario. But one media analyst finds that while the press is attentive to all things Christie, it continues to ignore the IRS targeting of conservative groups, a story that has lingered unresolved for many months. "In less than 48 hours, ABC, CBS and NBC deluged viewers with coverage of Chris Christie's traffic jam scandal, devoting a staggering 88 minutes to the story," says Scott Whitlock, a vigilant analyst with the Media Research Center, a conservative watchdog. "In comparison, these same news outlets over the last six months have allowed a scant two minutes for the latest on President Obama's Internal Revenue Service ...

  • Illustration by Greg Groesch for The Washington Times

    55 percent of Americans now say the Obama administration is incompetent - and warm towards the GOP

    by Jennifer HarperPublished January 10, 2014 Comments

    Oh, the curse of those lousy polls: sinking job favorability numbers have become a given during President Obama's second term, both for the White House and Congress. But here comes an interesting phenomenon: voters appear to be warming towards Republicans as the 2014 midterms approach. Would they prefer the GOP in Senate and House now? Here's a new Quinnipiac University survey that finds Republicans edging out Democrats in both cases. Three fourths of U.S. voters are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the nation today; that includes 88 percent of Republicans and 50 percent of Democrats agree. Another 55 percent say that the Obama administration has not been competent in running the government; 86 percent of Republicans and 17 percent of Democrat agree. Half say President Obama is not "paying attention to what his administration is doing"; 74 percent of Republicans and 24 percent of Democrats agree. And ...

  • The Sportsman Channel is eager to showcase new host Sarah Palin who will on Friday talk up her show "Amazing America," which debuts in April. (SPORTSMAN CHANNEL)

    Mama grizzly TV: Sarah Palin introduces 'red, wild and blue America'

    by Jennifer HarperPublished January 9, 2014 Comments

    This is the era of "red, wild and blue America" says the Sportsman Channel, which will introduce new host Sarah Palin to the Hollywood press on Friday to prove its point. Indeed, the former vice presidential hopeful will host a power breakfast at the 2014 Television Critics Assoc. winter gathering in Pasadena, California, to talk up "Amazing America," an original TV series centered on outdoor lifestyle which debuts in April on the network. "It's where the American spirit and the great outdoors are celebrated in equal measure," the channel notes, which also offers such programming as "Meat Eater", "Addictive Fishing" and "Dog Soldier TV". Then there is some new insight about the former Alaska governor. "I'm not a defender of everything she says. I don't hear everything she says. But I know she represents a certain group of people who rose up against their own party, which you rarely see. ...

  • Dennis Rodman walks along the court at an exhibition basketball game between U.S. and North Korean players at an indoor stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon)

    Is Dennis Rodman a diplomat or just spectacle?

    by Jennifer HarperPublished January 8, 2014 Comments

    Now immersed in his fourth visit to North Korea, Dennis Rodman and a cast of former basketball greats will stage an exhibition game before the isolated nation's most elite citizens on Wednesday, all to celebrate the 31st birthday of dictator Kim Jong-un. Mr. Rodman insists it's hard but productive work, and that the leader is his close pal; the athlete screamed as much to CNN in an aggressive interview with Chris Cuomo. The network correspondent dryly noted he was relieved the encounter was via video rather than in person. Yes, well. The world looks on anyway, waiting for spectacle. Or something. Both State Department and White House remain elusive on the Rodman phenomenon, insisting that the trip is one of a private citizen and that's that. "Sports exchanges can be valuable. Sports diplomacy can be valuable. And it's something that we pursue in many places around the world, including through ...

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