Water Cooler

WATER COOLER

The Water Cooler is written by Washington Times staffers.

  • President Barack Obama speaks about the government shutdown and debt ceiling during a visit M. Luis Construction, which specializes in asphalt manufacturing, concrete paving, and roadway reconstruction, in Rockville, Md., Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

    China suggests it's time for a 'de-Americanized' world

    By Jennifer HarperPublished October 14, 2013 Comments

    A stark reminder to House Republicans and the White House as they reel toward, well, something, anything: the world watches and speculates. Witness an editorial published Sunday from Xinhua, the official news agency of China, which takes the blame game to a global scale. "As U.S. politicians of both political parties are still shuffling back and forth between the White House and the Capitol Hill without striking a viable deal to bring normality to the body politic they brag about, it is perhaps a good time for the befuddled world to start considering building a de-Americanized world," the commentary states. "The U.S. government has gone to all lengths to appear before the world as the one that claims the moral high ground, yet covertly doing things that are as audacious as torturing prisoners of war, slaying civilians in drone attacks, and spying on world leaders," the news organization said, declaring ...

  • A sign at the south entrance to Grand Canyon National Park, Ariz., indicates the park is closed on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013.  More than 400 national parks are closed as Congress remains deadlocked over federal government funding.  (AP Photo/Brian Skoloff)

    Cost of the shutdown in national parks: $76 million per day

    by Jennifer HarperPublished October 11, 2013 Comments

    There may not be very much data on who's signing on with the Affordable Care Act. But money and public interest lost in the nation's great parks due to the federal shutdown? The 900-member Coalition of National Park Service Retirees is on it. The group compared current numbers and revenues with those from a year ago, and here's what they found: The parks were down by 715,000 visitors daily, and they lost $76 million in visitor spending per day. They also figured that $450,000 in revenue was lost each day that would go directly to the National Park Service, such as entrance and campground fees or boat rentals. Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona was affected the most, losing 120,000 visitors in the first 10 days of the shutdown, which translates to almost $12 million in revenue. "These figures are mind-boggling and they only begin to capture the full economic ...

  • Former Minnesota governor, pro wrestler and author Jesse Ventura is done with political parties. "They're nothing but gangs," he says. (TRU TV)

    Jesse Ventura asks: why should Americans have to pay taxes during a shutdown?

    by Jennifer HarperPublished October 10, 2013 Comments

    Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, who has been toying with a White House run himself, is convinced that Americans should not have to pay taxes during the federal government shutdown. "Here's my big question. Since the government shut down, now let's keep track of the number of days we shouldn't have to pay taxes then," Mr. Ventura tells Larry King - now host of "Politicking with Larry King" on RT, the Russian-based news channel - in a broadcast airing on Thursday night. "Good idea, Jesse," the ever-amendable Mr. King replies in the segment. "If they shut the government down, we should lose our tax obligation, because what are we paying for then?" Mr. Ventura declares. The former pro-wrestler also offers insight about his own presidential campaign. "If I run, I will offer the people of the United States the first opportunity to elect a president who does not belong to ...

  • Shut down vanity? Look sharp during the shutdown, warns those who help out with such things. (Image from the Grooming Lounge.)

    Shutdown vanity: hey DC men, the 'business of handsomeness' hasn't shut down, so look sharp

    by Jennifer HarperPublished October 9, 2013 Comments

    It is the ultimate challenge for powerful men in the nation's capital who know the value of a flawlessly shaved cheek and a haircut to be reckoned with: "Don't let the shutdown hinder your handsomeness," say those who purvey the tools of the trade. "The government may be shut down in Washington, but the business of handsomeness shouldn't be compromised," notes an urgent outreach from the Grooming Lounge, an upscale retailer where manly fare from the likes of Molton Brown and Aqua de Parma is the norm. There are two shops in the area, one about six blocks from the White House. The company is now offering a 15 percent discount for federal employees languishing under the shutdown. "The purveyors of handsomeness at Grooming Lounge are doing their part by keeping the furloughed relaxed and looking their best at a price they can afford. The only exception? The deal doesn't ...

  • ** FILE ** Associated Press

    POLL: Potholes and cockroaches more popular than Congress

    by Jennifer HarperPublished October 8, 2013 Comments

    How low can Congress go? Alas, voters have a more favorable opinion of the IRS, jury duty, hipsters, potholes, cockroaches, mothers-in-law, toenail fungus, public radio fund raising drives, motor vehicle departments, hemorrhoids and even "dog poop" than they do of Congress. These are serious findings from a Public Policy Polling survey of 502 registered U.S. voters released on Tuesday, for better or worse. Lawmakers, who only achieved an 8 percent favorability rating, did best a few other public figures, though. But not many. Majorities of the voters have a higher opinion of Congress than former New York City mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner. The lawmakers also found more favor than Russia President Vladimir Putin, reality TV tot Honey Boo Boo, raucous singer Miley Cyrus and twerking - her dance of choice. "Congress having an 8 percent approval rating tells us one thing about how unhappy voters are," says Dean Debnam, president ...

  • Tea Party supporter Greg Cummings of Cincinnati, Ohio, watches a rally with the Democratic Progressive Caucus and furloughed federal employees against House Republicans on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Oct. 4, 2013. Cummings attended the rally to blame Senate Democrats for the government shutdown. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

    Tea party to White House: decide if we're 'inconsequential' or powerful enough to cause the shutdown

    by Jennifer HarperPublished October 8, 2013 Comments

    It is a cultural moment of the political variety. Is the tea party just a bunch of has-beens, or powerful enough to cause the federal shutdown? The tea party itself wants to know, now that its critics conveniently blame them for all the woes of Washington, and possibly the known universe. "The media, the ruling elite, the Senate, and President Obama are doing all they can to blame this mess on us, but all we wanted was them to think twice about forcing a law that isn't ready on the American people, say organizers at the Tea Party Patriots, the nation's largest umbrella group for the movement, representing some 3,000 local groups. "All we wanted was the American people to be treated equally under the law as the ones who forced this on us. And now all they can say is that we are anarchists, arsonists, holding the economy hostage, ...

  • Despite signs stating that the national parks are closed, people visit the World War II Memorial in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. Most of the visitors were WWII veterans who came to Washington on an honor flight to visit the memorial. It was an act of civil disobedience that marked the fact some barriers nor a government shutdown would keep a group of World War II veterans from visiting the monument erected in their honor. The Lincoln Memorial is in the background. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

    Shutdown angst: Americans say this government shutdown worse than 1995

    by Jennifer HarperPublished October 7, 2013 Comments

    The shutdown is getting to us: 70 percent of Americans view the ongoing shutdown of the federal government as a crisis or a major problem, even higher than the 56 percent who said the same thing the same at the height of the last shutdown in December, 1995. So reports Art Swift, an analyst at Gallup, where pollsters tracked the sentiment then, as they do now. "Leaders looking to gain ground in public opinion are not succeeding. A majority of Americans report feeling more negatively about the Republican and Democratic congressional leadership since the shutdown began, as well as about President Barack Obama," Mr. Swift says. "The negative reactions toward Obama are higher than Gallup recorded toward President Bill Clinton during the 1995 shutdown, while they are about the same toward the Republican leaders in Congress." Over informed, emotionally involved Americans are certainly exposed to more news now than they ...

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

    Dir. of National Intelligence James Clapper deems news coverage "inaccurate and misleading"

    by Jennifer HarperPublished October 4, 2013 Comments

    A statement issued by Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, on Friday afternoon: "Recently published news articles discuss the Intelligence Community's interest in tools used to facilitate anonymous online communication. The articles accurately point out that the Intelligence Community seeks to understand how these tools work and the kind of information being concealed. However, the articles fail to make clear that the Intelligence Community's interest in online anonymity services and other online communication and networking tools is based on the undeniable fact that these are the tools our adversaries use to communicate and coordinate attacks against the United States and our allies. The articles fail to mention that the Intelligence Community is only interested in communication related to valid foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes and that we operate within a strict legal framework that prohibits accessing information related to the innocent online activities of US citizens. Within our lawful ...

  • Tommy Lee Jones (left) and Will Smith click as a team in the "Men in Black" franchise. "Men in Black 3" opens on Friday. (Sony Pictures)

    The White House secretly taking guns away? Super Bowl rigged? Here's the poll

    by Jennifer HarperPublished October 3, 2013 Comments

    One pollster says that Republicans are more likely than Democrats to embrace conspiracy theories. But as some GOPers will tell you, somebody's got to ponder the existence of secret societies or "men in black" drawing a red line against alien invasions. Well, why not? Here are a few numbers from a Public Policy Poll released Tuesday that reflect it all. 36 percent of U.S. voters think that "the Obama administration is secretly trying to take everyone's guns away"; 62 percent of Republicans and 14 percent of Democrats agree. 32 percent of voters overall think major sporting events like the Super Bowl are "rigged by referees and league offices" for better ratings and more money; 34 percent of Republicans and 27 percent of Democrats agree. 26 percent overall think "Muslims are covertly implementing Shariah law in American court systems"; 42 percent of Republicans and 12 percent of Democrats agree. 25 percent ...

  • Judicial Watch asks: Why did the Air Force Academy remove "God" from its inductee oath?

    by Jennifer HarperPublished September 30, 2013 Comments

    Wait, God is no longer the co-pilot out there in Colorado Springs? That's what one aggressive watchdog wants to know. "The U.S. Air Force Academy has removed the words 'So help me God' from some written materials, including the oath administered to USAF inductees based upon the objections of a single atheist," says Tom Fitton, director of Judicial Watch. The watchdog group has filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Defense Department to obtain the official records showing what - or who - is behind the decision. "Unilaterally removing 'so help me God' from Air Force Academy materials is at odds with our nation's history, the rule of law, and the fundamental values of the American people," Mr. Fitton observes. "We want to get to the bottom of this controversy and it is a shame we had to go to court to try to get past the Pentagon's ...

  • Rick Santorum becomes movie executive: the first film ready in November

    by Jennifer HarperPublished September 27, 2013 Comments

    He still could be contemplating a run for president. Or vice president. Rick Santorum, however, has a new identity. Conservative and political credentials intact, he has quietly become CEO of EchoLight Studios, an inspirational and family film company which will release "The Christmas Candle" nationwide Nov. 22. Mr. Santorum plans to tour some cities, right along with the film. Based on the book by Max Lucado, the movie is situated in the 19th century English countryside and dwells upon a persistent local legend claiming that an angel comes to call on the local candlemaker every 25 years, and a miracle occurs. The electrical age, however looms. Faith issues and a satisfying ending follow. British singer Susan Boyle is included in the unusual ensemble cast. "Surprisingly, a Christmas movie releasing for the holidays is a unique event, as there have been very few in recent years," Mr. Santorum says. "The story ...

  • Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, talks to reporters as he emerges from the Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington on Sept 25, 2013, after his overnight crusade railing against the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as "Obamacare." Cruz ended the marathon Senate speech opposing President Obama's health care law after talking for 21 hours, 19 minutes. (Associated Press)

    Media declares Wendy Davis better than Ted Cruz, then puzzles over Ted

    by Jennifer HarperPublished September 26, 2013 Comments

    There are really only a few research organizations who track political bias in news coverage, and have done so for years. In the wake of the aforementioned Mr. Cruz's epic speech before Congress on Tuesday, however, media analysis ran rampant among news organizations eager to compare Mr. Cruz with Wendy Davis, the Texas state lawmaker who staged an 11-hour pro-choice filibuster before her own state legislature in June. It was almost too easy. The comparison between the two Lone Star lawmakers fixated the press for a time, producing more than 2,500 mentions in news accounts according to Google News. The mainstream press either vilified, mocked or dismissed Mr. Cruz, accusing him of grandstanding, staging a "faux-i-buster" or simply promoting his own political future. Following her filibuster, Ms. Davis was framed in a sympathetic role of legitimate heroine in cute pink tennis shoes. The oddest comparison may have come from USA ...

  • Illustration Second Amendment by Alexander Hunter for The Washington Times

    52 percent of Americans say stricter gun laws won't make a difference in preventing mass shootings

    by Jennifer HarperPublished September 23, 2013 Comments

    Stricter gun control laws or better mental health care? Should the nation have a serious discussion about gun laws right after a mass shooting - or wait? They are complicated questions. A few numbers, then, from a public opinion survey conducted after the Navy Yard massacre. 57 percent of Americans say "better mental health care" would play a stronger role than stricter gun laws role in preventing mass shootings in the U.S.; 74 percent of Republicans and 43 percent of Democrats agree. 52 percent of Americans say stricter gun laws will not make a difference in preventing future mass shootings; 59 percent of Republicans and 27 percent of Democrats agree. 40 percent overall say that making gun laws stricter would help prevent such events; 14 percent of Republicans and 62 percent of Democrats agree. 48 percent say gun control law should be made more strict; 20 percent of Republicans and ...

  • Grassroots love: Republicans now have $12.5 million in mostly small donations

    by Jennifer HarperPublished September 20, 2013 Comments

    The average donation was $48. The percentage of donors who gave under $200 was 98 percent. Its amounts to a very handsome chunk of change for the Republican Party, which now has $12.5 million in their war chest, cash on hand. The Grand Old Party has a big field operation underway as multiple elections approach, which means boots on the ground and heartland outreach. Close to $7 million of the total amount was raised in August alone. "The RNC is engaging with voters in the field earlier than ever and working to hold Democrats up and down the ballot accountable for their misguided agenda," says Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus. "We already have more staff on the ground than in headquarters and are continuing to build out our data and digital teams. It's imperative that we keep building a permanent, nationwide campaign to provide our candidates with the necessary ...

  • Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the NRA, speaks during the NRA Annual Meeting of Members at the National Rifle Association's 142 Annual Meetings and Exhibits in the George R. Brown Convention Center Saturday, May 4, 2013, in Houston. National Rifle Association leaders told members Saturday that the fight against gun control legislation is far from over, with battles yet to come in Congress and next year's midterm elections, but they vowed that none in the organization will ever have to surrender their weapons. (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Johnny Hanson)

    The mainstream press takes aim at the Second Amendment with biased coverage

    by Jennifer HarperPublished September 18, 2013 Comments

    Providing viable coverage of Second Amendment rights, gun control, public safety and American values is a tricky business. The press, however, is taking a few liberties here. Consider that their very language has changed: journalists appear to prefer term "gun reform" over "gun control." There's a reason for this. "The American media have long supported gun control, but they have increased their attacks on the gun industry since the Newtown shooting in December with a careful shift in the language they use. The term is likely to gain even more use following the shooting in D.C.'s Navy Yard,"says Kristine Marsh, an analyst with the Media Research Centers Business and Media Institute who has tracked the patterns of usage through print and broadcast. "While the commonplace 'gun control' has an aggressive connotation to it, and rightfully so, the liberals have attempted to replace it with the softer-sounding 'gun reform' to make ...

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