- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 2, 2014

There was not a rumble, a tintinnabulation or even a few ka-chings when the national debt crept over $18 trillion. The exact figure was $18,005,549,328,561. Oh, and 45 cents. A few journalists became privy to this unnerving news on Monday newly released U.S. Treasury numbers which chart the upwards spiral of the debt on daily basis. There was scant news coverage of this financial phenomenon and little mention that the debt has increased many times during the current administration’s watch.

“This is a sad milestone for America. Under President Obama’s failed leadership, the national debt has skyrocketed by over $7.3 trillion,” declares Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus.

Yeah, well, as the famous old bumper sticker points out, “Don’t tell Obama what comes after a trillion.” A quadrillion comes after it, but you didn’t hear that here. And another number that is unrelated but nonetheless evidence of a pricey planet: A 30-second TV spot during the upcoming 2015 Super Bowl costs $4.5 million — which works out to $150,000 a second.


Applause and discreet drumroll please for Sen. Ted Cruz, who has a reminder for the nation in an age of cynicism, caterwaul and clutter: Remember the traditional national narrative, please, he says.

“We should be a clarion voice for freedom. Never underestimate the power of the bully pulpit of America. One of the most striking and inexplicable aspects of the last six years is the almost complete absence of American leadership speaking out for freedom,” The Texas Republican told a Concerned Veterans for America forum on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, approving murmurs are also due for those who assemble to seek answers — or a reasonable facsimile therein. On the radar for Wednesday: Staged at the hoity-toity Newseum in the nation’s capital, the 2014 Foreign Policy Initiative Forum has assembled a formidable group to weigh in on this idea at a summit called “A World in Crisis: The Need for American Leadership.” The lawmakers on hand: Republicans Sens. Bob Corker, Ted Cruz, John McCain, former Sen. Jim Talent and Senator-elect Tom Cotton; Reps. Mike Pompeo; and former Democratic Rep. Jim Marshall. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will be there, along with a spate of interesting journalists that includes Defense News editor Vago Muradian and Voice of America anchor Myroslava Gongadze.

And among their bristling topics: “The Middle East in Chaos,” “Restoring American Leadership” and “Putin’s Challenge to the West.” Yes, C-SPAN 3 and C-SPAN radio will feature the forum live from 1-5 p.m. EST.


News organizations pounced upon rumors and rumors of rumors that one Ashton B. Carter would soon become secretary of the defense, replacing Chuck Hagel, who has resigned. And here is how journalists billed Mr. Carter in the past 24 hours: “The wonk who would lead the Pentagon” (The Daily Beast), “The likely Pentagon chief who wanted to bomb North Korea” (The Atlantic), “Ashton Carter puts troops first” (USA Today), “Super-smart mega-genius expected to replace Hagel as Defense Secretary” (Slate), “Ashton Carter, Ex-Pentagon No. 2, Emerges as Obama Favorite for Defense Secretary” (The Wall Street Journal), “Ashton Carter unlikely to face strong opposition for Defense secretary” (Los Angeles Times), “President Obama so impressed with Ashton Kutcher’s portrayal of Steve Jobs, he’s nominating him for Secretary of Defense” (parody headline from Fark.com).

“Carter is drama-free. Another reason why an embattled president facing withering criticism for his foreign policy, including from members of his own party, may be inclined toward a steady hand and an uncontroversial pick,” point out Daily Beast columnists Shane Harris and Tim Mak in their own assessment of Mr. Carter, a physicist with Harvard and Yale credentials who received the Ronald Reagan Missile Defense Award from the Missile Defense Agency only last year.


“Zombie Senate”

— A convenient reference to outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s reign, and its potential influence on federal policy, including rumored Republican aspirations to pass a long-term spending bill that would set levels through September 2015.

“It is easy to see why this strategy is now being floated. Its goals are reasonable, and again, nobody wants a full government shutdown. But it’s still a terrible idea to pass a long-term spending bill during a lame-duck Congress. Republicans and conservatives did not just knock on doors, make calls, post yard signs and donate millions in the recent election so that Harry Reid’s zombie Senate — the one the voters just rejected — could live on for another ten months through whatever last-minute spending bills it is willing to pass,” points out a pertinent editorial in the Washington Examiner.

“Congress should instead pass a true omnibus that lasts until February, then return next month to set longer-term priorities and levels of spending. Anything else simply forfeits leverage against a president who is desperate and obviously hungry for more executive power.”


No one keeps a closer eye on the comings and goings of Hillary Rodham Clinton than Vice President Joseph R. Biden. And with good reason. If she decides not to run for the White House in 2016, Mr. Biden has suddenly emerged as voters’ leading second choice — besting Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and other prominent hopefuls. No, really. Whether it’s due to name recognition or simply being resigned to a limited candidate selection, Democratic voters put their faith in the vice president.

There’s a CNN poll to consider. Yes, it reveals that of course close to two-thirds of the respondents say they’d vote for Mrs. Clinton if the election was today, a finding that has remained steady for many months. But take her out of the equation, and 41 percent shift their support to Mr. Biden, with Ms. Warren in a distant second with 20 percent, followed by New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Sen. Bernard Sanders, each with 7 percent.

Meanwhile, another number may not work in Mr. Biden’s favor: He turned 72 last month, not the most ideal age for the campaign trail — though it is helpful to bring Ron Paul into the conversation. He was 76 when he ran for president as a Libertarian independent in the 2012 race.


48 percent of Americans approve of the Ferguson grand jury decision not to bring charges against a white police officer for the shooting of an unarmed black teen; 58 percent of whites, 9 percent of blacks and 32 percent of Hispanics agree.

76 percent of Republicans, 50 percent of independents and 27 percent of Democrats also agree.

45 percent overall disapprove of the jury’s decision; 58 percent of whites, 9 percent of blacks and 32 percent of Hispanics agree.

18 percent of Republicans, 41 percent of independents and 68 percent of Democrats also agree.

48 percent overall approve of the idea of the federal government bringing civil rights charges against the officer; 38 percent of whites, 85 percent of blacks and 67 percent of Hispanics agree.

21 percent of Republicans, 47 percent of independents and 73 percent of Democrats also agree.

47 percent disapprove of federal civil rights charges; 57 percent of whites, 12 percent of blacks and 29 percent of Hispanics agree.

74 percent of Republicans, 48 percent of independents and 24 percent of Democrats also agree.

Source: ABC News/Washington Post poll of 1,011 U.S. adults conducted Nov. 25-30.

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