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• 2010 Redux: Team Obama goes all in on global warming
• Sebelius still tapping companies for ObamaCare donations?
• Planet Hillary clamps down on access
• Unions reeling after Tennessee loss
• Everybody gets a trophy, even Franklin Pierce
2010 ALL OVER AGAIN: TEAM OBAMA GOES ALL IN ON GLOBAL WARMING
“Climate change can now be considered another weapon of mass destruction, perhaps the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.” – Secretary of State John Kerry in a speech in Indonesia.
Republicans credit their landslide victory in 2010 to opposition to ObamaCare, yes. But GOP strategists also credit Obama Democrats’ focus on global warming for a considerable slice of their historic midterm gains. Five years ago today, President Obama signed a stimulus package of nearly $1 trillion and then immediately pivoted to other issues even though Americans were still deeply concerned about the economy. At the top of Obama’s to-do list, right behind the pledge of universal insurance coverage, was action on global warming. Obama’s preferred plan was to have the government sell costly carbon-emission permits to industrial corporations that could then re-sell and trade them on a commodities market. The so-called “cap and trade” program had a vogue with moderate Republicans since it sounded free-market-ish, but that support quickly evaporated in the face of the recession that followed the Panic of 2008.
[AP: “U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday … mocked those who deny its existence or question its causes, comparing them to people who insist the Earth is flat. … ‘We simply don't have time to let a few loud interest groups hijack the climate conversation,’ he said, referring to what he called ‘big companies’ that ‘don’t want to change and spend a lot of money’ to act to reduce the risks…"We should not allow a tiny minority of shoddy scientists and science and extreme ideologues to compete with scientific facts,’ Kerry told the audience at a U.S. Embassy-run American Center in a shopping mall. ‘Nor should we allow any room for those who think that the costs associated with doing the right thing outweigh the benefits.’]
That was then - Democrats, though, pressed on. In a pivotal moment for the 2010 election cycle, then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi whipped anxious Democrats into line behind an even more restrictive and expensive carbon crackdown, one which had already been waved off by the Democrat-controlled Senate. House members took the plunge on July 25, 2009, including many from Rust Belt and coal-producing states. One of Pelosi’s admirers called it “a little bit genius.” It was not. The Senate squelched the bill and Republicans are still flaying Democrats for supporting something so expensive and disruptive to address an issue that Americans are increasingly unconcerned about.
[“Does John Kerry really believe that carbon dioxide is a bigger threat than al Qaeda? Or Iran? If so, maybe the House Foreign Affairs Committee could inquire as to whether State Department diplomacy now reflects the Secretary’s priorities.” – James P. Pinkerton, former Deputy Assistant to the president for policy planning under George H. W. Bush]
This is now - President Obama has soldiered on. He has spoken of how he wants to be remembered as the chief executive who first did serious battle with global warming and how history will judge harshly those who do not adhere to the conventional wisdom on carbon and climate. As he is now doing with illegal immigration, Obama threatened after the 2010 elections that he would pummel business with crippling regulations if the CEO set could not convince Republicans to yield. No one yielded anything on global warming and Obama has delivered on his promise, dropping EPA dynamite on the U.S. coal industry and gas guzzling vehicles. If the rules stand up, the costs could be huge. So why highlight those points ahead of another potential wave election?
[Watch Fox: Chief Congressional Correspondent Mike Emanuel examines the trend and what executive actions the President Obama can take on climate change.]
Narrow and narrower - Perhaps Obama believes what he says, and he thinks that the greenhouse effect is mankind’s challenge of the millennium. But such a crusade at this moment could cost him dearly. If there is any political wisdom at all, it is that this issue animates the Democratic base and donor corps (particularly those who make their money selling subsidized green energy products). Vulnerable Senate Democrats had better hope that this is a passing phase for the administration and that it will recede with the spring like the Polar Vortex.
Even the Times! - NYT: “In delivering aid to drought-stricken California last week, President Obama and his aides cited the state as an example of what could be in store for much of the rest of the country as human-caused climate change intensifies. But in doing so, they were pushing at the boundaries of scientific knowledge about the relationship between climate change and drought. While a trend of increasing drought that may be linked to global warming has been documented in some regions, including parts of the Mediterranean and in the Southwestern United States, there is no scientific consensus yet that it is a worldwide phenomenon. Nor is there definitive evidence that it is causing California’s problems.”
SEBELIUS STILL TAPPING COMPANIES FOR OBAMACARE DONATIONS?
Washington Examiner: “Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and other department staff may be continuing to solicit private donations to help an outside group promote the president’s health care law as the administration works to boost enrollment figures after a troubled fall rollout. News last May that Sebelius had asked business executives and nonprofit groups to donate to Enroll America, a nonprofit organization formed to help encourage millions of Americans to sign up for the new Obamacare insurance exchanges, provoked an uproar among Republicans on Capitol Hill…Eight months after the news broke, Sebelius’ spokeswoman last Friday sidestepped questions from the Washington Examiner on whether her boss has continued to solicit funds from outside groups for Enroll America’s efforts. ‘The secretary has engaged in a sustained, aggressive outreach campaign to reach as many Americans as possible during open enrollment,’ HHS spokeswoman Joanne Peters said in an emailed statement Friday afternoon. …emails, which the Washington Examiner obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, reveal a close working relationship between top HHS aides, Sebelius, Enroll America and former White House aides on their fundraising efforts.”
Obama: Five years from now people will like ObamaCare - “I like it. I don't mind. And I tell you, five years from now when everybody’s saying ‘Man, I’m sure glad we’ve got healthcare,’ there are going to be a whole bunch of people won’t call it ObamaCare because they don’t want me to the credit.” – President Obama when asked by Charles Barkley about the Affordable Care Act being known as ObamaCare.
It depends on the meaning of the word ‘begin’ - Washington Examiner: “Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., offered a novel defense of President Obama’s latest delay of the employer mandate… When Fox News’ Chris Wallace noted that the law states that the mandate will take effect after Dec. 31, 2013, Becerra seized on the phrase. ‘It will begin after December 2013,’ Becerra said on Fox News Sunday…. The law doesn’t merely say that the employer mandate can’t take effect until 2014. It says the mandate ‘shall apply to months beginning after December 31, 2013’ (emphasis added). That is, it should begin on Jan. 1, 2014.”
[NYT shares how Democrats are shifting their strategy on ObamaCare ahead of the 2014 midterms.]
More than a Web site – As Oregon’s failed ObamaCare Web site continues its massive malfunction and investigators take note, the Weekly Standard’s Mark Hemingway looks back at the troubled history of health insurance programs in the state. From The Guinea Pig State: “The earliest incarnation of the Oregon Health Plan was proposed in 1989, though it went through several iterations before becoming law in 1993. The principal author of the plan was John Kitzhaber, then president of the state senate…Kitzhaber’s role in the creation of the Oregon Health Plan eventually propelled him into the governor’s mansion, and though he’s hardly a national name, he’s arguably done more to advance liberal health care reform than any other politician until Barack Obama. … The Oregon Health Plan isn’t just a failure; it’s such a failure that it has almost totally undermined the notion that government subsidized health insurance is ever effective…”
RUBIO RIPS STIMULUS ON ITS FIFTH BIRTHDAY
From a new video from Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. - “Today is the fifth anniversary of the failed stimulus program. If you recall five years ago, the notion was that if the government spent all this money – that, by the way, was borrowed – that somehow the economy would begin to grow and create jobs. Well, of course, it clearly failed… Here’s what would be a solution: A vibrant free enterprise economy and a people with the skills and the education needed to take up those jobs that a vibrant free enterprise economy would create. That’s what our policy makers should be focused on – policies that bring our tax code, our regulations and our massive $17 trillion debt under control. Policies that encourage innovation and energy and trade and hi-tech. And also policies that help people acquire education in the 21st century. It’s never mattered more…. But I hope that in the years to come we can change that, because I honestly believe that no people on Earth are better positioned to take advantage of the promise of the 21st century than Americans are. All they need now is for their leaders to give them a chance. And that’s what I hope we’ll do.”
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...
Daily Beast’s Evan Weiner considers The Presidents Who Made America’s Sports: “President Theodore Roosevelt could very well be the most important figure in the history of American football. Roosevelt used the bully pulpit of the Oval Office in 1905 to save the game from calls for a ban on the sport that had killed 18 players in 1905 alone… President William Howard Taft may or may not have started the seventh inning stretch but there is a certainty that he did start another baseball tradition. Taft on April 14, 1910 threw the first pitch on opening day in Washington in a game between two franchises that no longer exist, the Washington Senators (now Minnesota Twins) and the Philadelphia Athletics presently the Oakland A’s) on April 14, 1910… President Obama’s only real foray into sports has been with the Olympics. Obama personally lobbied the International Olympic Committee in Denmark in 2009 in an effort to land the 2016 Summer Olympics for Chicago. Instead, the IOC picked Rio de Janeiro for the games to open them up to a South American market for the first time.”
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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 43.6 percent//Disapprove – 52.4 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 29.6 percent//Wrong Track – 63.6 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot: Democrats – 41.4 percent// Republicans 42.0 percent
PLANET HILLARY CLAMPS DOWN ON ACCESS
Washington Free Beacon: “An extensive collection of papers related to Bill and Hillary Clinton’s years in the Arkansas governor’s mansion remains under tight control at a public library in Little Rock, with access restricted by the Clinton Foundation… The documents could provide new insight into the early chapter of the Clintons’ political careers, as reporters take a second look at Hillary Clinton’s past in light of the information contained in the public materials of the Diane Blair collection… However, access to the documents is tightly controlled by the Clinton Foundation, a nonprofit charitable group founded by President Clinton in 2001, which retains legal ownership of the papers. A [Central Arkansas Library System] official told the Washington Free Beacon last month that any request to view the documents would have to be approved by Clinton Foundation board chairman Bruce Lindsey, a long-time adviser to Bill Clinton.”
Rove, Romney caution GOP on Bubba Baiting - Karl Rove, the former top political strategist to George W. Bush, and Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, on Sunday both cautioned Republicans against spending too much time reexamining the scandals of Bill Clinton’s presidency. Rove told “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace” that the resurrection of the scandals of the 1990s may help build the case against 2016 Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, but that “anyone taking on Hillary Clinton – Democrat or Republican – had better focus on what they are for, to contrast implicitly against Hillary.” Appearing on NBC, Romney also warned against attacking the Clinton political legacy. “I don't think Bill Clinton is as relevant as Hillary Clinton.” More.
EARLY CONTEST STATES READY TO CELEBRATE CRUZ
The Hill: “Conservatives in Iowa and New Hampshire are preparing a hero’s welcome for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) after he showed up Senate Republican leaders during a crucial vote on the debt limit. Cruz infuriated his Senate Republican colleagues …when he filibustered a clean bill to raise the debt limit. His objection forced Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and 11 other Republicans to vote with Democrats to advance the legislation. But in Iowa and New Hampshire, two important presidential primary states, conservative activists are cheering Cruz’s stand and buzzing about a possible presidential run in 2016…Cruz will speak on March 18 at a homeschooling rally hosted by the Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators in Des Moines. On April 12, he will attend the New Hampshire Freedom Summit, an event sponsored by Americans for Prosperity and Citizens United, Tea Party-allied groups, along with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, two other potential candidates for president in 2016.”
COLORADO’S BUCK SHOWS SOFTER SIDE
Colorado Republican Senate hopeful Ken Buck is launching a new ad campaign touting his work as a district attorney, called “Ken Cares.” Buck, who saw his 2010 candidacy partly undone by his answer to a question from NBC News about the origins of same-gender sexual preferences, is seeking to emphasize his compassion in his first ad campaign of this cycle. The ad features the story of a young woman, “Stephanie,” who fled her home in Montana after being abused by her husband and returned to her parent’s house in Colorado. From the ad: “As long as I’m alive I will continue to fight to protect my daughter—and I want to help everyone’s children. I would like to help Ken get elected so that he will continue to push for the protection of victims at the national level.”
CORNYN STILL BELOW THRESHOLD TO AVOID RUNOFF
While Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, enjoys a wide-lead over challenger Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas in a Human-Events/Gravis Marketing poll, the results indicate he could be looking at a run-off. Cornyn leads Stockman 43 percent to 28 percent, with 29 percent undecided. If Cornyn does not receive 50 percent of the vote on March 4th primary, the race could head towards a May 27 runoff.
SQUATTERS’ RIGHTS: COTTON SWIPES PRYOR ATTACK SITE
Washington Examiner: “In Arkansas on Friday, Sen. Mark Pryor held a press conference attacking his opponent, Rep. Tom Cotton, for his record on Medicare. A placard at the podium promised that they would find Cotton’s real record at therealtomcottonrecord.com. That website, however, didn’t actually exist yet. The Cotton campaign quickly jumped on the domain name, creating a redirect to Cotton’s own campaign website.”
PICK SIX: MICHIGAN MOVING UP?
Republicans are hoping to pick up six seats to gain control of the Senate this November. Which Democratic-held seats will prove to be the most likely flips for the red team? Based on your tweets and e-mails, the current consensus among Fox News First readers: Arkansas, Montana, Louisiana, South Dakota, North Carolina and Alaska. Reader Vi Patmas of Mission Viejo, Calif., thinks former Michigan Secretary of State of State Terri Lynn Land will deliver for the GOP. Patmas writes, “she’s now focused on issues important to the Michigan constituency - - seems well liked and connected to the people.”
[Detroit Free Press: “Only months ago, Democrats were chiding [Teri Lynn Land] — a Republican former secretary of state who all but wrapped up her party’s nomination when she entered the race — as a second-tier candidate to replace [Democrat] Sen. Carl Levin. But recently, it has been Land, not her presumptive Democratic opponent — three-term U.S. Rep. Gary Peters ... — who has been hearing good news: Polls have her slightly ahead, though within the margin of error, and she out-raised Peters in the last three months of 2013.”]
UNIONS REELING AFTER TENNESSEE LOSS
Bloomberg: “The United Auto Workers could be forced to reconsider its efforts to organize at foreign-owned factories in the U.S., a labor expert said, as the union vowed to keep fighting after losing a closely watched vote at Volkswagen AG (VOW)’s Tennessee plant. Workers in Chattanooga voted 712-626 on Feb. 14 against joining the UAW after three days of balloting that drew intense opposition from elected officials. The company didn’t fight the UAW campaign, which may have cost as much as $5 million and lasted more than two years, said Gary Chaison, a labor law professor at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. A victory would have added momentum as the UAW seeks to sign up workers at a Daimler AG factory in Vance, Alabama, and other foreign automakers, known as transplants, that settled in the U.S. South to take advantage of tax breaks, non-union labor and easy access to market. Now the UAW must regroup, he said. ‘This is a time for soul-searching at the UAW and within the American labor movement,’ Chaison said…in an interview. ‘This was the ideal situation and they know that. They might just give up on transplants.’ UAW membership has fallen 75 percent since 1979 and stands at under 400,000. The total of U.S. workers who are union members fell to 11.3 percent in 2013, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.”
[Wait. What? - “…what should have been a local workplace decision by workers and management was turned into an experiment in new forms of right-wing zealotry over issues having nothing to do with how stakeholders decided for themselves…” – AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka in a statement after the losing organizing campaign, into which his union poured massive national resources.]
The next battleground - As private-sector workers have fled labor unions, government workers have increasingly joined up. But a big part of the trend has been mandatory union membership on the state and local levels. Several states, including Michigan, have reversed laws from the heyday of union power that force workers to pay dues and require the government to skim the dues out of worker paychecks. But a battle over compulsory union membership for California public school teachers could be on a fast track to the Supreme Court. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will soon hear a case from a group of grade-school teachers who say not only that they have a right to work without paying union dues, but that state laws requiring membership violate the First Amendment. Rebecca Friedrichs, the lead plaintiff in the case, writes in an Orange County Register OpEd: “…because of laws that favor powerful unions and ‘labor peace’ over the rights of individuals, millions of public school teachers have lost their rights to free speech and free association. We are required, as a condition of employment, to financially support teachers unions and their political agendas…When unions started, at the turn of the last century, their united support for individual rights was needed and welcomed. Sadly, unions have become what they used to fight – powerful, entrenched organizations more focused on self-preservation and pushing their political agenda than on protecting the rights of individual members.”
[Ed. note: If the day ever comes that government-worker unions lose the power of the state to force individuals to pay dues, you would likely see a gradual political reordering in this country not seen since the women’s suffrage. Those compulsory payments are the building blocks of the Democratic Party.]
The human cost - AEI’s Mark Perry on the decision by liberal darling New York Mayor Bill de Blasio to crack down on the city’s charter schools: “Preservation of the status quo and a continuation of the current failed public school model, and preserving its power, are the primary concerns of the teachers unions and their administrative enablers, which now includes the New York mayor.”
Cored Out: New York teachers rebel against Obama curricula - NYT: “The Common Core has been applauded by education leaders and promoted by the Obama administration as a way to replace a hodgepodge of state standards with one set of rigorous learning goals… the newest chorus of complaints is coming from one of the most liberal states, and one of the earliest champions of the standards: New York. And that is causing supporters of the Common Core to shudder.”
AP: “House Democrats are vowing to try a rarely used tactic to force votes in the GOP-led chamber on the minimum wage and immigration reform, a strategy that will likely fail but might hurt Republicans with voters in this year’s elections. The tactic is known as a ‘discharge petition.’ It would require the minority party, in this case Democrats, to persuade roughly two dozen Republicans to defy their leadership and join Democrats in forcing a vote on setting the federal minimum wage at $10.10 an hour. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said fellow chamber Democrats will push the issue when Congress returns from its break Feb. 24.”
[Ed. note: They tried this in 2012. It seems even less likely to work now, especially on this issue.]
IMMIGRATION BOSS CALLS IT QUITS AFTER SIX MONTHS
John Sandweg, the acting head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, whose appointment to the post raised eyebrows because of his scant law enforcement experience, told agency employees he will resign Friday. “Over the past several months I had the opportunity to work alongside many of you,” he wrote. “I was always amazed by your dedication and commitment to the agency and our nation. Despite the challenges we face, you continue to push on, achieving remarkable security and public safety gains for our country.” Sandweg was named to the post amid concerns by congressional lawmakers and former agency officials that his background as a criminal defense attorney with no law enforcement experience made him unqualified to run the country’s second-largest law enforcement agency. More
BREITBART GROWS GLOBAL
Breitbart News Network has announced a global expansion. NYT has details of the growth of the news site that the paper says is part of “reshaping political coverage of Washington.” Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen Bannon told the Times that the organization is adding at least a dozen staff members as it opens operations in Texas and London, the first of part of a build-out that will bring new regional sites online, a new one launching about every three months. On the late for the next round: California, Florida, Cairo and Jerusalem. According to Breitbart’s announcement, the London operation will be partly run by James Delingpole, formerly a columnist at the Daily Telegraph. Delingpole was made famous stateside for his scoop exposing the falsification of climate change data, the so-called “Climategate” debacle at East Anglia University. The Texas staff includes Contributing Editor Sylvia Longmire, a former Air Force officer and senior intelligence analyst for the California Office of Homeland Security. Longmire is the author of “Cartel and Border Insecurity.”
EVERYBODY GETS A TROPHY, EVEN FRANKLIN PIERCE
Today we observe a holiday born of political indecision. As the list of federal holidays grew in the last century, there wasn’t room anymore for days off to celebrate Lincoln’s Birthday and Washington’s Birthday and so that cur dog of a holiday “Presidents’ Day” was born. Rather than picking and choosing, the federal government now simply recognizes all 45 people lucky or unlucky enough to serve as chief magistrate. In the process, some odd lots have been added to the inventory of presidential celebration, including the perennial losers in presidential rankings. As you pick out a mattress or enjoy an afternoon nap, remember that you are celebrating not just the Cincinnatus of Mount Vernon and Honest Abe, but also the likes of Franklin Pierce, a Northerner whose enthusiasm for expanding slavery helped push the nation into Civil War remembered by historians as “…timid and unable to cope” and Mark Hanna’s man Warren Harding, he of the Teapot Dome scandal. You know Harding must have been bad if Herbert Hoover, another presidential-ranking cellar dweller, said Harding had “neither the experience nor the intellect that the position needed.”
[Want to wow ’em at your Pierce-Harding-Hoover Day party? You can be prepared to spout presidential trivia after watching this fun mental_floss video.]
Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as digital politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily "Fox News First" political news note and hosts "Power Play," a feature video series, on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on the network, including "The Kelly File," "Special Report with Bret Baier," and "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace." He also provides expert political analysis for Fox News coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.