Water Cooler

WATER COOLER

The Water Cooler is written by Washington Times staffers.

  • Illustration by Linas Garsys for The Washington Times

    Screen gems: Karl Rove's Crossroads group enters HHS video contest promoting Obamacare

    By Jennifer HarperPublished August 26, 2013 Comments

    They just want the young and restless to see "the ugly side" of Obamacare. Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies - a non-profit advocacy group co-founded three years ago by GOP strategist Karl Rove - has entered the Dept. of Health and Human Services contest offering $30,000 in tax payer funded prize money for the best videos promoting the Affordable Care Act to young audiences. The group submitted the video - titled "Propaganda" - on Sunday night, and according to producers, it's meant to showcase "less savory aspects of the law that HHS has glossed over in its talking points and official literature - including the penalty for not complying with the individual mandate, and the dramatic increase in premiums for younger people that are taking effect." The brief, edgy production is rigorously humorous and includes a shot of lemmings running off a cliff. "Obamacare: Just like guys enjoy premium leather seats, ...

  • Former Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) speaks at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference (C.P.A.C.) held at the Gaylord National Hotel, National Harbor, Md., Thursday, March 14, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)

    Allen West to attend the Republican Party's commemoration of the 1963 March on Washington

    by Jennifer HarperPublished August 23, 2013 Comments

    Of most interesting note: Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus will host a commemorative event to mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, scheduled for Monday at a choice Capitol Hill location. Also of note: C-SPAN will carry this event, which begins at high noon. Among those in attendance at what appears to be a cordial but significant meal together: Allen West, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, Oklahoma Speaker T.W. Shannon - recently named one of the GOP's "rising stars", RNC co-chair Sharon Day, Louisiana State Senator Elbert Guillory and Indianapolis City Council chairman Jose Evans. Mr. West, incidentally, has led a busy life since leaving office in Florida. He has formed the Guardian Fund, a political action committee that supports veterans and minority candidates for office. Mr. West has also offered sharp criticism of President Obama, black leaders and entertainers for their reactions to recent, much publicized criminal activity ...

  • Martin Luther King Jr. waves to supporters on Aug. 28, 1963, in what he called "the greatest demonstration of freedom in the history of the United States."
Martin Luther King was assassinated on 04 April 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. James Earl Ray confessed to shooting King and was sentenced to 99 years in prison. King's killing sent shock waves through American society at the time, and is still regarded as a landmark event in recent US history. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images) (Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

    President Obama lauds the 'nonviolent resistance' and 'fierce dignity' of the 1963 March on Washington

    by Jennifer HarperPublished August 23, 2013 Comments

    The TV towers and broadcast infrastructures are in place at the Lincoln Memorial. The networks and news organizations are gearing up for extensive coverage of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington over the next five days. Everyone has much to say. Multiple interest groups and activists have lined up in solidarity with events that begin Saturday and stretch to Wednesday, the actual anniversary date of Martin Luther King's historic "I Have a Dream" speech. President Obama will deliver what could be his own speech of the year - or even his presidency - from the very steps of the aforementioned memorial. Or not. It's a high stakes moment. One thing is for sure though: that speech will be delivered before a very uneasy planet. What is in store? Here is Mr. Obama's official proclamation recognizing the 1963 march, issued by the White House on Friday afternoon: "On August ...

  • NSA and Director of National Intelligence respond to Wall Street Journal and the press: they 'mischaracterize'

    by Jennifer HarperPublished August 21, 2013 Comments

    From the NSA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence: this is what they said in a statement Wednesday night, unvarnished and without commentary: Joint Statement: NSA and Office of the Director of National Intelligence 21 August 2013 Press reports based on an article published in today's Wall Street Journal mischaracterize aspects of NSA's data collection activities conducted under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The NSA does not sift through and have unfettered access to 75 percent of the United States' online communications. The following are the facts: Media reports based upon the recent Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article regarding NSA's foreign intelligence activities provide an inaccurate and misleading picture of NSA's collection programs, but especially with respect to NSA's use of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The reports leave readers with the impression that NSA is sifting through as much ...

  • "America Tonight," a prime-time news show hosted by former CNN anchor Joie Chen, is among the flagship programming on Al-Jazeera America, which debuted August 20. (Photo by Jennifer Harper/The Washington Times)

    Drama with news: Al Jazeera America files lawsuit against AT&T

    by Jennifer HarperPublished August 21, 2013 Comments

    The brand new network was only on the air for a matter of hours before drama intersected with news coverage. Al Jazeera America, which went live at 3 p.m. Tuesday, announced it had filed a law suit against AT&T just six hours later. The reason? The telecom giant unceremoniously dropped the network from U-Verse, its pay TV cable service that reaches some 5 million customers — a decision that AT&T indicated had been in the works for several weeks. Al Jazeera America struck back swiftly, however. "Al Jazeera America made a decision to seek judicial intervention in its dispute with AT&T. Unfortunately AT&T's decision to unilaterally delete Al Jazeera America presented us with circumstances that were untenable — an affiliate that has willfully and knowingly breached its contractual obligations. Accordingly, we had no choice but to take this action and to enforce Al Jazeera America's rights under its agreement with ...

  • Half of Americans say U.S. should cut off military aid to Egypt and President Obama not 'tough enough'

    by Jennifer HarperPublished August 20, 2013 Comments

    It is a fluid situation in Egypt with many moving parts, and the diplomatic nuances are many. Still, half of the nation prefers U.S. military aid be cut off to Egypt, and an equal number think President Obama has not been "tough enough" on the Egyptian military as violence continues against anti-government protestors. So say a nimble new poll from the Pew Research Center released Monday. The numbers: 51 percent of Americans say the U.S. should cut off military aid to Egypt; 56 percent of Republicans and 49 percent of Democrats agree. 50 percent overall say President Obama has not been 'tough enough' on violence against anti-government protesters in Egypt; 63 percent of Republicans and 47 percent of Democrats agree. 45 percent say the Egyptian military would provide better leadership in Egypt; 52 percent of Republicans and 46 percent of Democrats agree. 26 percent overall say it's better to continue ...

  • Here comes the book Reince Preibus can do nothing about: a memoir from Hillary Rodham Clinton, due in 2014. The book is yet to be named.

    Memo to Reince: Here comes the fancy Hillary memoir

    by Jennifer HarperPublished August 19, 2013 Comments

    Many analysts insist that Hillary Rodham Clinton intends to run for president, and already has adopted the political postures of a serious candidate. Her fans, however, have been busy for quite sometime. Ready for Hillary - a grass-roots group and political action committee founded in January by former Clinton fundraisers - already claims 500,000 members, a donor base of 10,000 and contributions topping $1.25 million. The group is selling campaign buttons and wearables. Emily's List, a PAC that supports progressive candidates, also has inaugurated a series of public events titled "Madam President." Of more serious note is Mrs. Clinton's methodical, carefully planned trajectory onto the public radar through a series of policy speeches and town hall meetings that began with an appearance before the American Bar Association one week ago that drew much media coverage, and revealed future plans. "Next month at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, I will ...

  • What other decade would you live in? Most Americans choose the 1950s

    by Jennifer HarperPublished August 16, 2013 Comments

    Americans continue to harken to the call of the bodacious, idyllic, post-war, big-finned, fabulous '50s. Given a choice of any decade in the century, the public would most want to live in the 1950s, this according to a new YouGov/Economist poll. The 1980s comes in second - with some interesting partisan divides between Republicans and Democrats over the decades. And the numbers: 18 percent of Americans would live in the 1950s if they could go back in time; 20 percent of Republicans and 14 percent of Democrats agree. 15 percent of Americans overall would chose to live in the 1960s; 16 percent of Republicans and 14 percent of Democrats agree. 13 percent overall would close to live in the 1980s; 17 percent of Republicans and 10 percent of Democrats agree. 12 percent overall would live in the 1970s; 14 percent of Republicans and 14 percent of Democrats agree. 11 percent ...

  • Christie and Gingrich headline the GOP's strategic summer meeting in Boston

    by Jennifer HarperPublished August 14, 2013 Comments

    Now underway, it's Republican National Committee's three-day summer camp in Boston, which is weighty with agenda and sports this jaunty, marketing-minded title: "Making It Happen." The kick-off moment? A workshop with Newt Gingrich and RNC chairman Reince Preibus called "Becoming the Party of Breakout." There's also some feisty stuff afoot, pointing to disarray among rivals. Organizers promise to take a day-to-day look at the Obama White House and proclaim in advance materials, "Have you seen The DNC? With Obama's agenda stalled and Democrats already looking to 2016, the Democratic National Committee has gone missing." The DNC, they say, has a "staggering level of debt." They also accuse DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz of "building political muscle for herself and angering fellow Dems." The events are all meant to showcase rising stars, local efforts in selling the GOP, new political and technology initiatives, and - oh yes - fundraising efforts. New ...

  • Charlene Gomez leads an orientation seminar for illegal immigrants in Los Angeles. Schools and consulates have been flooded with requests for documents since the Obama administration earlier this year said many young illegal immigrants may be eligible for two-year renewable work permits. (Associated Press)

    Three fourths of Americans insist it's 'essential' that immigrants learn to speak English

    by — Published August 13, 2013 Comments

    The language question persists from sea to shining sea. "Seventy-two percent of Americans say it is essential that immigrants living in the United States learn to speak English," reports Gallup poll analyst Jeffrey Jones. That number includes 85 percent of Republicans and 65 percent of Democrats, along with 58 percent of Hispanics and 59 percent of current U.S. immigrants. "Meanwhile, 20 percent believe it is essential that Americans learn a second language other than English," Mr. Jones says. Thirteen percent of Republicans and 24 percent of Democrats agree with this, along with 30 percent of Hispanics and 27 percent of U.S. immigrants also agree. About a third of Americans overall actually speak a second language well enough to carry on a conversation. What are they speaking? The survey found that 60 percent of that group speak Spanish, 18 percent French, 12 percent German, 5 percent English, and 3 percent each ...

  • Palm trees sway in the breeze outside the vacation home where President-elect Barack Obama and his family are staying during their holiday in Hawaii, over the mountain from downtown Honolulu, on the island of Oahu. (Associated Press)

    Lawmaker leisure? 82 percent of voters say Congress does NOT deserve a vacation

    by Jennifer HarperPublished August 9, 2013 Comments

    Approval ratings of Congress have just about bottomed out. Voters have much fatigue with lawmakers who appear to have more interest in sword rattling and political theater than practical problem solving or reasonable compromise. Why should they take a summer break? Meanwhile. two thirds think President Obama should be locked in room with Republicans until the two sides reach agreements. No, really. That's what a new Fox News voter poll says, even as Mr. Obama himself repairs to Martha's Vineyard for his own R and R. Here's what the numbers say: 82 percent of U.S. voters say that Congress does not deserve to take a summer recess; 82 percent of Republicans, 82 percent of conservatives, 80 percent of Democrats and 83 percent of liberals agree. 48 percent of voters overall say President Obama does not deserve to take a vacation; 71 percent of Republicans, 65 percent of conservatives, 19 percent ...

  • Lila Rose is president of Live Action, which conducted a hidden-camera "sting" on a Planned Parenthood clinic. (Associated Press)

    Pro-lifers to march against media censorship of 'gruesome' abortion

    by Jennifer HarperPublished August 7, 2013 Comments

    ABC News will have some unexpected visitors with much on their minds Thursday afternoon. The network's headquarters in the nation's capital will be the focal point of the Life March on the Media rally, an event organized by pro-life factions who are weary of what they deem press "censorship" of abortion. "The media has flinched from the reality of abortion for decades," says Lila Rose, president of Live Action, a pro-life group that courts the interest of younger activists through social media. "We call on the press to end the censorship of what abortion actually does to our smallest children and women as well as an end to the lionizing of abortion advocates." The group already has sent letters of protest to America's "big three" - ABC, along with NBC and CBS - demanding honest and factual reporting about abortion, which they deem a "gruesome procedure." Miss Rose says she ...

  • Just say nyet: senators wonder why DOD gave a $572 million contract to Russia

    by Jennifer HarperPublished August 6, 2013 Comments

    A dozen senators are not happy with a recent $572 million Defense Department contract with Rosoboronexport, a Moscow-based military-aircraft manufacturer that will now supply 30 helicopters destined for Afghanistan. Led by Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, the group has sent a terse letter to Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, advising the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that while the Russian company "receives huge payments from DoD, it also continues to serve as a key enabler of atrocities in Syria, transferring weapons and ammunition to prop up the bloodthirsty regime of Bashar al-Assad." The signers also include Republicans Sens. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Mark Kirk of Illinois, John Boozman of Arkansas, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Roger F. Wicker of Mississippi and David Vitter of Louisiana. The Democrats who signed the letter are Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska, Richard Blumenthal and Christopher Murphy of Connecticut, Kirsten E. Gillibrand of New ...

  • An effort to designate the American bison the National Mammal of the United States has drawn bipartisan support, led by a Missouri Democrat and a Nebraska Republican. It currently has the support of four congressmen and 17 senators. (Associated Press)

    Bison, lions and bears, oh my: they're top contenders for the 'national animal'

    by Jennifer HarperPublished August 5, 2013 Comments

    If the bald eagle weren't our 'national animal,' what would be the most popular choice for the role? The bison wins, according to a YouGov poll released Sunday, cited by 22 percent of the respondents. Mountain lions were in second place with 16 percent of the vote, followed by bears (12 percent), doves (11 percent), turkeys (9 percent) and rattlesnakes (3 percent.) Skunks were in seventh place with a pungent 2 percent of the vote, followed by a squabbling stampede of squirrels, alligators, woodpeckers, who also feasted upon 2 percent, or bits of it, anyway. Badgers, beavers, raccoons, moose and coyotes each scrambled away with 1 percent of the vote, or a portion therein. Nothing microscopic made the official list, though there was likely some waggish person among the 1,000 respondents who thought an amoeba or a diatom would be appropriate. "The results would disappoint Benjamin Franklin, who pressed for ...

  • Marijuana plants at a grow house in Denver are ready to be harvested on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

    Gallup: liberals have one of the highest rates of marijuana use in America

    by Jennifer HarperPublished August 4, 2013 Comments

    Marijuana use appears to be a partisan affair according to a new Gallup poll, which finds that liberals and Democrats are more prone to use it than conservatives and Republicans. Almost half of liberals - 49 percent - report they have tried marijuana, compared to 40 percent of moderates and 32 percent of conservatives. Among all Americans, the rate is 38 percent who've tried it. "Liberals (13 percent) have one of the highest rates of self-reported current usage of marijuana, exceeding both moderates (8 percent) and conservatives (2 percent)," Gallup reports. The only higher percentage of current use is among the young and restless, are 18-29. Among the numbers: 38 percent of Americans say they have "tried" marijuana. 65 percent of cigarette smokers and 32 percent of non-smokers say they have tried it. 47 percent of men and 30 percent of women also say they have tried marijuana. 31 percent ...

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