Water Cooler

WATER COOLER

The Water Cooler is written by Washington Times staffers.

  • Though his state policies draw criticism, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie still leads as a Republican favorite for the 2016 presidential election. (Associated press)

    Chris Christie still a GOP darling, but leads the pack by just one 1 percent

    By Jennifer HarperPublished September 17, 2013 Comments

    Buzz and intense fundraising have kept New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on the presidential hopeful radar; he enjoys stable favorability numbers and a campaign war chest that now tops $9 million, with fundraising apparatus now set up in 50 states. "He's the hottest property in American politics and the most compelling personality thestate has produced since Tony Soprano. Polls say he is now the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination," says Tom Moran, a columnist for the New Jersey Star-Ledger. But Mr. Christie is overrated, he observes, noting that although the governor is a deft politician and deal maker, New Jersey's economy is a mess, property taxes are up, poverty and crime levels are rising while the state's credit rating is dropping. Mr. Moran predicts that his successor could inherit "a bigger mess" than he did. "Christie is a better politician than he is a governor, that his fame is ...

  • The Preamble and Article I of the U.S. Constitution (American Civil Liberties Union)

    Atheists form their own political action committee, seek 'equal rights'

    by Jennifer HarperPublished September 16, 2013 Comments

    Soon to arrive in the nation's capital: the Freethought Equality Fund PAC, the creation of the Center for Humanist Activism. Organizers say the new political action committee is being formed specifically to support candidates who are willing to advocate for the "equal rights of nonbelievers." They make their case known at the National Press Club on Wednesday. Their goal, according to national coordinator Bishop McNeil: "The mission of the Freethought Equality Fund PAC is to change the face of American politics by providing nontheist Americans the opportunity to make their voices heard in the political process like never before by getting involved in the electoral process supporting candidates for public office at all levels of government."

  • ** FILE ** Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures while speaking during a media conference after a G-8 summit at the Lough Erne golf resort in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, on Tuesday, June 18, 2013. (Associated Press)

    McCain, Cruz and Rubio dish on Putin: three senators draw a red line

    by Jennifer HarperPublished September 13, 2013 Comments

    Russia President Vladimir Putin's foray into journalism is still drawing the ire of American lawmakers. Just a sampling of what's out there: "Putin's NYT op-ed is an insult to the intelligence of every American." - Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, in a tweet following Mr. Putin's contribution to The New York Times that cautions the U.S. not to consider itself "exceptional" and to "avoid force" in Syria. "Mr. Putin worries that it is 'extremely dangerous' for President Obama to encourage Americans to see themselves as exceptional. His concern is well placed. Historically it has not boded well for autocrats when Americans are clearly focused on the values and principles that have made our nation great." - Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, reacting to the same op-ed. "History teaches us that a strong and engaged America is a source of good in the world." - Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, on ...

  • Illustration: Big Government by Alexander Hunter for The Washington Times

    'Big tent' Libertarian values in Republican party at the highest level in a decade

    by Jennifer HarperPublished September 11, 2013 Comments

    In polite circles, they're called "Libertarian leaning" Republicans who are borrowing a few pages from the Libertarian Party playbook, primarily to widen the voter appeal of the Grand Old Party as 2014 and 2016 approach. Now there are some numbers on it. A FreedomWorks poll released Wednesday reveals "fiscal issues and the role of government take top priority across the GOP voter base." The findings note that "big-tent libertarian values within the Republican Party and the American voter population at large are at the highest level in a decade." The survey found that 41 percent of Republicans say they have such values. The greater concern is whether social conservatives and the Libertarian leaners can get along - but that's another story. Meanwhile, on the laundry list of voter concerns, the pollsters says that voters fret about increasing government power - including the U.S. engagement in overseas conflicts, citizen surveillance, the ...

  • Fox Business Network's Washington correspondent Rich Edson predicts that an extended Capitol Hill argument over Syria could complicate the next round of serious budget discussions between Republicans and Democrats. (Fox Business Network)

    Collateral damage: Slow congressional resolution on Syria further delays vital budget negotiations

    by Jennifer HarperPublished September 10, 2013 Comments

    Not too long ago ago, the nation was obsessed with the perils of the fiscal cliff. Lawmakers vowed to tangle with the federal debt and right the economy. Now Congress faces another budget battle at month's end, and the dire prospect of a government shut down should funds actually run out. So let's solve the Syria crisis, says Fox Business Network's Washington correspondent Rich Edson. It's time for clarity, and the real business at hand, he tells The Watercooler. "This debate lacks a concise, compelling argument from the President of the United States. Absent that, there's a possibility a bipartisan majority rejects granting the administration the authority it says it already has. Beyond the domestic politics and international consequences, failure to encourage a quick congressional resolution on Syria further delays the next round of budget negotiations," Mr. Edson explains. Here's the situation. "Government discretionary spending authority expires with the end ...

  • ** Former President Ronald Reagan. (Courtesy of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library)

    Reagan's 'peace through strength' to be re-examined by Hagel, Dempsey and 30 more luminaries

    by Jennifer HarperPublished September 9, 2013 Comments

    Ronald Reagan still gets much recognition for his finesse in the public arena. Consider that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, Navy Chief of Operations Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert plus Sens. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat, and Kelly Ayotte, New Hampshire Republican, are among the 30 luminaries who will attend "Building Peace Through Strength Through 2025" at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., in mid-November. "More than ever, before we are learning the true value of peace through strength," declares Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, California Republican and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee; he also heads up the steering committee for this event. Among many items on the agenda: the Asia "rebalance," Pentagon management during wartime and sequestration, and caring for wounded warriors. "My husband worked every day of our eight years in Washington to ensure that our country was ...

  • **FILE** Gen. Keith B. Alexander, director of the National Security Agency and head of the U.S. Cyber Command, testifies before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 18, 2013. (Associated Press)

    Director of National Intelligence: we do not 'steal the trade secrets of foreign companies'

    by Jennifer HarperPublished September 9, 2013 Comments

    Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper has a clear reply for a new report from TV Globo, a Brazilian TV network, claiming  the National Security Agency monitored computer systems at Google Inc., Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Brazil's state-owned energy company. French diplomats were also on the list. The network based its claims on training documents from the U.S. clandestine agency, leaked by Edward Snowden. The story was co-authored by Guardain reporter Glenn Greenwald and TV Globo Reporter Sonia Bridi. Is it economic espionage? "It is not a secret that the Intelligence Community collects information about economic and financial matters, and terrorist financing," Mr. Clapper said in a statement issued Sunday night. "We collect this information for many important reasons: for one, it could provide the United States and our allies early warning of international financial crises which could negatively impact the global economy. It also could provide insight into other ...

  • Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli speaks Aug. 9, 2013, at the Battleground Forum at the Prince William campus of George Mason University in Manassas, Va. McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli met in another non-debate forum, a format that's become common among Virginia's two scandal-scarred candidates for governor. (Associated Press)

    'Viciously negative' news coverage of Virginia Republican Ken Cuccinelli's campaign yields him only four positive stories in 12 weeks

    by Jennifer HarperPublished September 6, 2013 Comments

    One political bout looms large on the radar at the moment: the Virginia governor's race between former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe - a longtime friend and associate of Bill and Hillary Clinton - and Republican Ken Cuccinelli, currently the state's attorney general. Mr. McAuliffe has won the media's protection, apparently. A new study of major newspapers in the state finds the GOP candidate got rough treatment from the press compared to his Democratic counterpart: Mr. Cuccinelli earned just four positive stories vs. 95 negative ones, a whopping 24-to-1 margin. So says a new analysis by the Media Research Center which reviewed 405 news stories, editorials and columns that appeared June 12 through August 31. "Our study found that Cuccinelli has received far more negative coverage than his rival, and only Cuccinelli has been cast by the newspapers as an ideological candidate," says Rich Noyes, who directed the research. ...

  • A U.S. soldier arrives to the scene where a suicide car bomber attacked a NATO convoy in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, May 16, 2013. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

    Psychiatrist to the press: it's 'homicide bomber' - not 'suicide bomber'

    by Jennifer HarperPublished September 5, 2013 Comments

    A suicide prevention expert has called for the term "homicide bomber" to replace the widely used "suicide bomber", claiming that those who kill themselves while murdering others have few similarities to actual suicide victims. So says Dr. Robert Goldney, a psychiatry professor at the University of Adelaide in Australia, who is, incidentally, an internationally regarded suicide expert and author. "Past studies have generally shown that there is little in common between so-called 'suicide bombers' and those who die by suicide, using 'suicide' in its clinically accepted sense," he says. "From the point of view of experienced clinical psychiatrists, suicide bombers have a range of characteristics that are completely different to those of the majority of suicide victims." Typical feelings of hopelessness, unbearable psychic pain combined with self-absorption and few options are common among those who are suicidal. Not so among those who commit terrorist acts, Dr. Goldney says, noting "Mental ...

  • Syrian rebels run during heavy clashes with soldiers loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad in the Salah al-Din neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria, on Tuesday, July 9, 2013, in this citizen journalism image authenticated by its contents and other AP reporting. Syria is entering its third year of a war that began as an uprising against Mr. Assad's rule. (AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center)

    94 percent of broadcast stories on Syria have made 'no mention of al Qaeda'

    by Jennifer HarperPublished September 4, 2013 Comments

    The public has been confused about the identity of "Syrian rebels" - who could receive arms and training from the U.S. is the very near future. One conservative watchdog group blames this confusion on broadcasters. "The United States is poised to fire missiles at Syria in response to chemical attacks on Syrian civilians. But the assault will also pit the U.S. against one side of the civil war and aid the other side, which includes al Qaeda," says Dan Gainor, vice president for business and culture at the Media Research Center. "Broadcast news outlets are clearly aware of the Islamic terror group's role in Syria, but rarely report it. Nearly 94 percent of all Syria stories since the gas attacks have made no mention of al Qaeda whatsoever," Mr. Gainor continues. "It's not like the networks haven’t had time. Since the gas attack on Aug. 21 in Ghoutta, Syria, ABC, ...

  • This undated publicity photo released by Rocky Mountain Pictures shows a poster for the documentary film, "2016: Obama's America." The conservative film exploring the roots of President Barack Obama's political views surprised the film industry when it took in $6.5 million to land at No. 7 at the weekend box office ahead of three new releases: the Joseph Gordon Levitt action flick "Premium Rush," the Kristen Bell comedy "Hit and Run" and the Ashley Greene horror film "The Apparition." (AP Photo/Rocky Mountain Pictures)

    Liberal filmmaker Michael Moore gets a conservative jolt from the Academy Awards committee

    by Jennifer HarperPublished August 30, 2013 Comments

    Yes, it's a matter of Moore - and less of Moore. Conservative author Dinesh D'Souza, one of the driving forces behind last year's surprise blockbuster documentary "2016: Obama's America", has some news. He reveals that earlier this summer, the film's esteemed producer Gerald Molen protested the treatment of the production by the Academy Awards nomination committee, which denied it an Oscar nomination, though it was one of the highest grossing political documentaries of all time. Mr. Molen, who won a best picture Oscar himself for "Schindler's List", pointed out to the committee that the nominations board was "led by three well-known progressives, notably that uber-liberal, Michael Moore," Mr. D'Souza writes at his personal website. "I was most gratified to learn that in their recent elections, academy voters decided to oust Moore from his position as a decider of which documentaries should make the cut for Oscar contention. This is a ...

  • Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper on Monday announced two steps to squelch leaks of classified information after disclosures about national security. (Associated Press)

    From the Director of National Intelligence: 'increased transparency'

    by Jennifer HarperPublished August 30, 2013 Comments

    The official description is this: "annual release of information related to orders issued to telecom providers under national security authorities." And here are the details. "In June, President Obama directed the Intelligence Community (IC) to declassify and make public as much information as possible about certain sensitive U.S. Government surveillance programs while being mindful of the need to protect sensitive classified intelligence and national security," says Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper in a statement issued Thursday night. "Consistent with this directive and in the interest of increased transparency, the DNI has determined, with the concurrence of the IC, that going forward the IC will publicly release, on an annual basis, aggregate information concerning compulsory legal process under certain national security authorities," he notes. So what's coming? Content emerges from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). "For each of the following categories of national security authorities, the IC will ...

  • Former Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld (above) will appear at a campaign fundraiser for an Iraq War veteran, Ilario Pantano (right), on April 16 at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington. Mr. Pantano, a Republican, is seeking a rematch against Rep. Mike McIntyre, an eight-term Democratic incumbent, in North Carolina's 7th Congressional District. The fundraiser is sponsored by the Afghanistan and Iraq Veterans for Congress. (Associated Press)

    Donald Rumsfeld: Obama administration still in 'apology mode'

    by Jennifer HarperPublished August 29, 2013 Comments

    He's seen a lot of wars, and the making of wars, that's for sure. Donald Rumsfeld, 81, is a U.S. Navy veteran, was Secretary of Defense twice, and has served in public office in one capacity or another since 1963. And here's what he thinks about Syria as the White House wrestles with a protocol, a response and a productive solution. "The fundamental problem we've got - the United States - is that this administration has been in a withdrawal mode, in an apology mode," Mr. Rumsfeld told the Fox Business Network. "And therefore, that vacuum we've created is being filled by people who don't have our values or our interests. And that gives China and Russia an opportunity to do things that are, fundamentally, against what we, as a country, and the American people would prefer to have happen," he noted. Eight days after the chemical attack on Syrian ...

  • Syrian rebels run during heavy clashes with soldiers loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad in the Salah al-Din neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria, on Tuesday, July 9, 2013, in this citizen journalism image authenticated by its contents and other AP reporting. Syria is entering its third year of a war that began as an uprising against Mr. Assad's rule. (AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center)

    Boots on the ground? Only 4 percent of Americans support sending U.S. troops into Syria

    by Jennifer HarperPublished August 27, 2013 Comments

    "Boots on the ground" may be a favorite phrase among journalists covering civil unrest in Syria. But it's the least favorite among war weary Americans who do not support sending U.S. troops into Syria. Only 4 percent would support a ground invasion, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll. The numbers: 60 percent of Americans say the U.S. should not intervene in Syria's civil war. 47 percent oppose sending arms to Syrian rebels; 27 percent support the idea. 46 percent would oppose U.S. intervention in Syria even if use of chemical weapons is proven; 25 percent would support intervention under those circumstances. 12 percent would support U.S. airstrikes to help the rebels. 11 percent would support a no-fly zone over Syria to ground its air force. 9 percent would support funding a multinational invasion of Syria. 9 percent say President Obama should "act" on the Syrian situation. 4 percent support invading ...

  • ** FILE ** Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. (The Washington Times)

    Stop Hillary PAC gets its first congressional endorsement from Texas lawmaker Steve Stockman

    by Jennifer HarperPublished August 26, 2013 Comments

    It's a conservative political action committee with one very aggressive purpose: "to ensure Hillary Clinton never becomes President of the United States," the organizers say. They insist that "the American way of life is under attack and Hillary Clinton is the liberal standard-bearer of the next generation of liberal creep on our Constitutional rights." Stop Hillary PAC has won its first congressional endorsement from Rep. Steve Stockman, a spirited Texas Republican who does not shy away from the public arena himself. The organizers predict it is the first of numerous endorsements, also noting that they've already raised "hundreds of thousands of dollars" and accrued thousands of signatures supporting their efforts. "I've joined with Stop Hillary PAC to gather millions of petition signatures to pressure Congress into holding full and open hearings on the Benghazi tragedy. I've filed a discharge petition with the House of Representatives forcing an up or down ...

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