Water Cooler


The Water Cooler is written by Washington Times staffers.

  • In this Friday, Nov. 8, 2013 file photo, first lady Michelle Obama speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, at a workshop for high school students from Washington, New York and Boston about careers in film. The first lady led an outpouring of support for Robin Roberts on Monday, Dec. 30, 2013, following the ABC News anchor’s first public acknowledgement of her 10-year, same-sex relationship with massage therapist Amber Laign. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

    Nice ride: White House says Michelle Obama will return to Washington via 'government aircraft'

    By Jennifer HarperPublished January 7, 2014 Comments

    First lady Michelle Obama has lingered in Hawaii for a few days to celebrate a noteworthy birthday - her pending 50th on January 17.  She's currently visiting with local, occasional resident Oprah Winfrey, who owns a 12-bedroom house in Maui. And Mrs. Obama's transport home when the time comes? The question was posed to White House press secretary Jay Carney at the press briefing on Monday. Is President Obama "paying for the flight back or are the taxpayers paying for it?" asked Fox News correspondent Ed Henry. "As with all personal travel, the First Family will appropriately fund personal expenses. And in line with travel of past presidents and first ladies, the first lady will travel via government aircraft," a dutiful Mr. Carney told the curious reporter. And yes, there will be a party for Mrs. Obama to celebrate the big 5-0 upon her return. According to the elusive invitation, ...

  • Political pollster reveals U.S. voters support Redskins team name, deem Cowboys their 'least favorite'

    by Jennifer HarperPublished January 4, 2014 Comments

    Pollsters who concentrate on politics rarely go into sports issues. Not so Public Policy Polling, a North Carolina-based group that typically concentrates on state and national elections and the proverbial horse race. Their exception is an annual survey of attitudes about the NFL, posed to more than 700 registered voters nationwide. Among the questions: should the Washington Redskins change their name? Persistent activists and interest groups continue to deem it offensive to American Indians. The results: 71 percent of all voters say there's no need to change the name; 90 percent of Republicans and 59 percent of Democrats agree. Voters agree, meanwhile, that the Dallas Cowboys are not "America's team." Just 23 percent of the respondents felt they deserved the title, the pollster found. "In a time of unprecedented political division, there's one thing that Americans can agree on across the board," says Dean Debham, president of the group. "The ...

  • Employees trim pot plants to be sold at Medicine Man marijuana dispensary in Denver, Friday Dec. 27, 2013. Medicine Man was among the first batch of Denver businesses which received their licenses allowing them to legally sell recreational marijuana  on Friday. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

    'Medicated' coffeecake: Denver Post now offering marijuana recipes and party ideas

    by Jennifer HarperPublished January 3, 2014 Comments

    The old, weird drug culture from the days of Timothy Leary and 1960s hippie clans has taken on a new identity - and a major newspaper is involved. Welcome to "The Cannabist" - a splashy news site created by The Denver Post, and dedicated to the art and culture of marijuana. So says Linda Shapley, director of newsroom operations at the Colorado paper. We're talking recipes, product reviews, "resources," legal points and suggestions for ladies' parties, among other things. Some will applaud or giggle about the idea. Others may cringe. Still more could be shocked, curious, amazed or simply disinterested. Time marches on, however. This is not your father's - or grandfather's - drug culture. A sample? "One of the great edible pleasures in life is a moist piece of buttery cinnamon coffee cake with just the right amount of streusel and swirl It' always have a boatload of weed ...

  • The GOP has released a list of suggested New Year's resolution for President Obama (Republican National Committee)

    Don't 'lie to the America people': The GOP wish list of President Obama’s New Year’s resolutions

    by Jennifer HarperPublished December 30, 2013 Comments

    A little something for January? The Republican National Committee has conjured up a wish list of President Obama's goals for 2014 - all conveniently included in free e-cards for GOPers who want to share the sentiments with family and friends. And maybe a few foes, perhaps. The resolutions include: "I resolve not to lie to the American people." "I resolve to hold myself and Hillary accountable for Benghazi." "I resolve to pretend like I'm listening to Biden at our weekly lunches." "I resolve to admit you won't be able to keep your plan or your doctor." "I resolve to spend less time on the golf course." "I resolve to help HealthCare.gov lose the wait." See the resolutions and cards here "2013 was a terrible year for President Obama," observes RNC chairman Reince Priebus. "His poll numbers are the worst of his presidency, and his signature legislation is having a devastating ...

  • Newborns sleep in oversized red stockings in the nursery at Long Beach Memorial in Long Beach, Calif., on Monday, Dec. 23, 2013. For more than 50 years, babies born between Dec. 21-25 at Long Beach Memorial are placed in big red stockings to be presented to the new parents.(AP Photo/Daily Breeze, Scott Varley)

    A return to traditional Bible names predicted for babies born in 2014

    by Jennifer HarperPublished December 28, 2013 Comments

    Move over Moon Unit and Rainbow Aurora. In a world of complex or celebrity-inspired baby names, parents have rediscovered the appeal of Isaiah and Judith. "Who wouldn't like to go back to old traditions at some point?" asks BabyNames.net, a website that helps expectant mothers and fathers navigate the myriad name choices for their offspring. "After a few years of innovations and experimenting, parents are restoring old customs to regain the essence of religious values - welcome Isaac and Naomi. Biblical names are nothing new under the sun. Names like Jacob, Michael or Noah have been scoring the highest popularity ranks for years," the name scholars advise. "But the surge of other, previously less frequent Biblical names is about to hit in 2014: "Caleb, Levi, Luke, Isaiah, Naomi, Shiloh, or Judith," they note. There's no Deuteronomy on the organization's vast group of biblical suggestions - well, not yet anyway. Parents ...

  • 90 percent of all Americans celebrate Christmas, a new Pew Research Poll says. (photo by Jennifer Harper)

    Ever popular: 90 percent of all Americans celebrate Christmas

    by Jennifer HarperPublished December 23, 2013 Comments

    The nation gets emotional this time of year for myriad reasons. They are fierce about their own traditions. But one thing is for sure: though there are some cultural dynamics at work, the vast majority of Americans celebrate Christmas. As in 90 percent. "Nine-in-ten Americans say they celebrate Christmas, and three-quarters say they believe in the virgin birth of Jesus," says a Pew Research poll. That number is 96 percent among Christians and 80 percent among non-Christians. The spiritual and secular aspects somehow co-exist here: Half see Christmas as a "religious holiday", about a third view it as more of a "cultural holiday," the pollster says. And on to the numbers: 86 percent of Americans buy gifts and gather with family and friends on Christmas or Christmas Eve; 90 percent of white evangelicals, 88 percent of Protestants, 87 percent of black Protestants and 85 percent of Catholics agree. 73 percent ...

  • Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013, after a bipartisan budget compromise cleared a procedural hurdle in the Senate, advancing past a filibuster threshold on a 67-33 vote that ensures the measure will pass the Democratic-led chamber no later than Wednesday and head to the White House to be signed into law. When enacted, the measure would ease for two years some of the harshest cuts to agency budgets required under automatic spending curbs commonly known as sequestration. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

    90 percent of Americans say Congress 'acts like they don't have a boss'

    by Jennifer HarperPublished December 20, 2013 Comments

    Inquiring minds want to know: who do the nation's esteemed lawmakers work for? It looks like the freewheeling group works for nobody. The vast majority of Americans - 90 percent - say elected officials in Washington behave "like they don't have a boss." So says a Fox New poll released Thursday. Only 7 percent overall say the lawmakers behave as if they were "employees of the American public." And alas. Woe is Washington as well. Another 71 percent say the federal government "is broken," while 21 percent say the government is "just OK." A determined 6 percent say things work "pretty well." These are all record breaking numbers, by the way. "In addition, the new poll shows that the belief that Washington is broken is growing. It's up six percentage points since last year and up 13 points since 2010," observes Fox News analyst Dana Blanton. And there are reminders ...

  • Radio host Armstrong Williams has a solution to the hubbub over full-body scans and pat-downs at airports: "Everybody should just go to the airport nude." (Graham Williams Group via Associated Press)

    A media-intense holiday moment with Armstrong Williams

    by Jennifer HarperPublished December 19, 2013 Comments

    It's was an event at the very nexus of politics, media, broadcast, tenacity and holiday spirit. That would a gathering Thursday evening hosted by conservative columnist, commentator and entrepreneur Armstrong Williams at the Monocle, the historic eatery not two blocks from the U.S. Capitol. Among the 150 guests: Rep. Tom Rice, South Carolina Republican; Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, Sinclair Broadcast Group David Smith and his wife Jane, Fox News analyst Juan William, attorney C. Boyden Gray, Industrial Bank president and CEO Doyle Mitchell, Soul of the South Network co-founder and CEO Edwin Avent and The Washington Times editor in chief John Solomon and Alexandria Swoyer, video journalist for the paper. It is a promising time in particular for Mr. Williams, who has won FCC approval to buy a pair of local television stations in Michigan and South Carolina, a purchase made in concert with a broader series of ...

  • MSNBC's Martin Bashir altered the Lord's Prayer on his show to mock the NRA on Thursday, May 2, 2013. (Associated Press)

    The most questionable quotes of the year: Yes, MSNBC wins

    by Jennifer HarperPublished December 19, 2013 Comments

    We already know the "2013 Lie of the Year" as determined by Politifact, the fact checking watchdog. It was If you like your healthcare plan then you can keep it," uttered by President Obama on numerous occasions in recent months. Now we must address the "2013 Worst Quotes of the Year" as determined by the intrepid press monitors at the Media Research Center. And the winner is (drum roll please): MSNBC host Martin Bashir. who resigned from the network after his very questionable on-camera rant aimed at former Alaska governor Sarah Palin. The runner-up is also an MSNBC host - Ed Schultz, who raved about the glories of Healthcare.gov, the Obamacare sign-up site that was so fraught with problems. "This is a great guide, if I may say, for any of you out there who feel so confused by all of these right-wing commercials that are just permeating through your ...

  • Footprints in the snow lead to the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. In Washington. Snow was falling at daybreak, but traffic problems failed to materialize as many workers stayed home. Non-emergency federal employees were granted an excused absence and others were told to telecommute, according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

    Gallup: Americans trust their car salesmen more than Congress

    by Jennifer HarperPublished December 17, 2013 Comments

    It's official: ethical standards differ between Republicans and Democrats. An unusual Gallup poll asked respondents to rank the honesty and ethics of 22 professions; the findings reveal that party identification even influences one's sense of trust, the pollster says. For example, 68 percent of Republicans give "high or very high" ethical and honesty ratings to police officers, compared with 44 percent of Democrats. About 63 percent of Republicans give winning marks to clergy; 40 percent of the Democrats agree. Both parties offer applause to nurses, doctors, pharmacists and grade-school teachers. Denizens of the political world irked both parties, however. Five percent of Republicans and 8 percent of Democrats said the members of Congress had good ethics and honesty. Car salesmen, incidentally, did better overall, trusted by 9 percent of the GOP and the same 8 percent of the Democrats. Moving right along, a mere 4 percent of Republicans and 11 ...

  • George W. Bush, hipster favorite? This cheerful photo of the former president with his infant granddaughter helped Mr. Bush gain some new admiration among the under-30 crowd. (GEORGE W. BUSH)

    Painter, biker, slightly grunge: George W. Bush becomes the new hipster icon

    by Jennifer HarperPublished December 16, 2013 Comments

    George W. hipster? Behold, a headline of note, and proof that time marches on: "How George W. Bush evolved from the uncoolest person on the planet to bona fide hipster icon," comes from Vanity Fair. The magazine suggests that the arbitrators of taste now beam warmly upon the former president. "If you are younger than 24, you might not have attended anti-Bush rallies in high school and in college. You might not have pinned 'SHRUB' buttons to your tote bag, and might not even remember Bush as a war-lovin', vowel-droppin', faux-folksy, ostentatiously religious Connecticut cowboy," explains Vanity Fair's Juli Weiner, herself a resident of the West Village in New York City. "This is because Bush has, quietly and wholly, ingeniously refashioned himself into an Internet-friendly, cat-loving, ironic-hat-wearing painter-cum-Instagram savant. Lately, George W. Bush is a hipster icon, and the Internet, unofficial Fourth Estate of the youth of America, is totally ...

  • Radio host Michael Savage has offered presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich $1 million to drop out of the race.

    Michael Savage's battle of Britain and the 'undesirables' continues

    by Jennifer HarperPublished December 13, 2013 Comments

    Michael Savage's four-year-old battle with Britain continues. The popular talk radio host has wrangled with the British government for quite a while - seeking to have his name removed from a list of 16 "undesirables" banned from the country on May 5, 2009, by then British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith. The list included Islamist terrorists, neo-Nazis and Russian gang members; Mr. Savage says he remains on the list despite efforts to persuade British officials that his inclusion is unwarranted and unfair. The battle begins afresh, however. Mr. Savage has received an invitation from Britain's Oxford Union to participate in a debate focusing on a topic of keen interest here and abroad: is NSA Leaker Edward Snowden a hero - or not? Founded in 1823, the historic Oxford Union has been a venue for Ronald Reagan, Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama, among other luminaries. But for now, Mr. Savage's appearance ...

  • Image: Associated Press

    HuffPo: Denying women 'moral abortions' destroys 'soul freedom'

    by Douglas Ernst Published December 12, 2013 Comments

    Is there such a thing as a "moral abortion"? The Huffington Post says yes. "Abortion can be a highly moral choice for a woman. The distortion of our faiths to anti-woman and anti-scientific and anti-medical rhetoric proves catastrophic for women and children and their families," writes Post contributor Donna Schaper, a minister with Judson Memorial Church. The author expands on three basic arguments for moral abortion: 1. Women are moral agents. 2. Faith tradition teaches soul competency, a Baptist principle that is violated in restricting the right to choose an abortion. 3. Faith tradition teaches freedom for religion and freedom from religion. It is a God-given right to deny state-sponsored religion, and to "rightly divide the word of God," she wrote, arguing that restricting a woman's ability to carry out an abortion is to refuse her "soul freedom." The piece, titled "Most Women Under 40 Haven't Heard the Pro-choice Moral ...

  • A new "Ronald Reagan Official App" features the 40th president's speeches, quotes, dairy entries, historic photos, videos and more. (RONALD REAGAN PRESIDENTIAL FOUNDATION)

    The Gipper 24/7: Get the official - and free - Ronald Reagan App

    by Jennifer HarperPublished December 12, 2013 Comments

    Daily diary entries by President Reagan, White House schedules for each year of his presidency, photos, videos, an audio quote of the day - these are among the offerings of the official "Ronald Reagan app", launched Wednesday by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation in Simi Valley, California. The free app can be downloaded directly from the Apple ITunes or Google Play store. "This one-of-a-kind mobile app is the only one sanctioned and produced by President Reagan's foundation, and, as such, it is more than just an app that contains his speeches," says John Heubusch, executive director of the foundation. Would the president have liked the idea? The chances are good that such an exuberant device would appeal to the great communicator. "The app is the only way to receive exclusive content about the president as well as be able to get access to the Reagan library's audio tour when you're ...

  • House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., left, and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., listen to a question after announcing a tentative agreement between Republican and Democratic negotiators on a government spending plan, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. Negotiators reached the modest budget agreement to restore about $65 billion in automatic spending cuts from programs ranging from parks to the Pentagon, with votes expected in both houses by week's end.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

    No kumbaya: Fiscal conservatives snarl at Patty and Paul's budget deal

    by Jennifer HarperPublished December 11, 2013 Comments

    Despite all the kumbaya talk about compromise and optimism afoot on Capitol Hill, not everyone is happy with Patty and Paul. We're talking Sen. Patty Murray, Washington Democrat, and Rep. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican - who have carefully maneuvered their federal budget deal through the political landscape as if it were either nitro glycerine or a nine-foot wedding cake. Their delicate agreement won approving press, and strategically timed aquiescence from Democrats and Republicans who are more wary of vexed voters than they are of those assorted cuts or increased spending. Then there are the grassroots fiscal conservatives who will have none of it. Period. "It's disingenuous for Republicans to surrender the only real spending reforms accomplished under the Obama Administration, and call that a deal. Immediate spending and revenue hikes without long-term reforms to spending and entitlement programs isn't a deal, it's just another manufactured, govern-by-crisis shakedown," says FreedomWorks president ...

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