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• In Ukraine: Game, set and match for Putin
• Frenetic ObamaCare sales pitch plays on
• Obama pushes pal Deval as presidential player
• Getting messy in Mississippi
• Put your hands down, it’s only art
IN UKRAINE: GAME, SET AND MATCH FOR PUTIN
President Obama’s declaration,"We are not going to be getting into a military excursion in Ukraine,”put a pitiful punctuation mark on the weakness of the president’s attempts to get Russia to abandon its aggressive moves in the Crimean peninsula. Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to have served up an ace for Mother Russia, leaving Obama standing at the baseline watching the ball go by. While both sides expressed a wish to avoid a direct confrontation and there has been no support for U.S. troops on the ground in the region among Democrats and Republicans, the president’s response to San Diego station KSND reporter’s question Wednesday made it clear how limited his options are. AP reports, “The question facing the White House now is whether actions that have done little to stop Russia from claiming Crimea are tough enough to stop further escalations by Moscow. And if they continue to prove insufficient, what else is Obama willing to do to change Vladimir Putin's calculus?... thus far, sanctions levied by both the U.S. and the European Union have done little to deter…Putin.” So, with NATO allies worried that Putin might engage in a new match in Eastern Ukraine, or elsewhere in Europe, what’s the Russian leader likely to serve up next? As has seemed to be the case in the confrontation thus far and 2016 Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton put succinctly Tuesday night. “That’s primarily up to Putin.”
[WSJ’s Daniel Henninger: “This moment is not about Barack Obama. By now we know about him. This is about Vladimir Putin and the self-delusions of Western nations and their famous ‘fatigue.’ Vladimir Putin is teaching the West and especially the United States that fatigue is not an option… Because no modern Democrat can be credible on this, some Republican presidential candidate will have to explain the high price of America’s fatigue. Fatigue will allow global disorder to displace 60 years of democratic order. If the U.S. doesn’t lead, the strongmen win because for them it’s easier. They don’t lead people; they coerce them. Ask the millions free for now in the old countries of the Iron Curtain.]
RUSSIAN RETALIATION COULD NIX IRAN NUKE DEAL
Fox News: “Russia reportedly is prepared to change its stand on Iran nuclear talks in a high-stakes gamble to counter expanded sanctions by the United States and the European Union over Crimea… Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted Wednesday by the Interfax news agency as saying the country may have to alter its position on the negotiations over Iran's nuclear program. The statement is the most serious threat of retaliation by Moscow since the disputed Crimea region voted to join Russia over the weekend, and Vladimir Putin's government moved to annex the peninsula.”
Hawkish Hillary ‘skeptical’ of Iran Deal – In her latest departure from the Obama administration’s foreign policy agenda, 2016 Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton says she is “skeptical” Iran’s leaders will follow through on an interim agreement aimed at dismantling its nuclear program. Speaking before the Jewish American Congress in New York Wednesday, Clinton said, “The odds of reaching that comprehensive agreement are not good.” Clinton furthered, “I am also personally skeptical that the Iranians would follow through and deliver. I have seen their behavior over the years” WaPo has more.
FRENETIC OBAMACARE SALES PITCH PLAYS ON
Team Obama fans out again today as the feverish ObamaCare enrollment campaign that has featured such memorable pitches as “Pajama Boy” and a presidential sit-down with Comedian Zack Galifianakis on “Between Two Ferns,” marches on. Fresh off his rebuke in the Crimea crisis, salesman-in-chief President Obama, will try to boost sign ups for his troubled health law in a taped appearance on “The Ellen Degeneres Show.” With total enrollment in ObamaCare still far shy of the administration’s original goal of 7 million, and still no word on how many have actually paid for coverage, the pressure is on for last ditch sales effort.
Landrieu: thanks bro! - After a quick sales pitch at a Fort Worth, Texas College, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will head to the deep red state of Louisiana where incumbent Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu is fighting for her political life. Heavily targeted by Republicans for her support of ObamaCare, the Senator might not be terribly glad to see the Health secretary in her state. Sebelius will appear with the Landrieu’s brother, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, to try to boost sign ups among the city’s uninsured
ObamaCare not poisonous for Pelosi - House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is doubling down on her insistence that Democrats should embrace ObamaCare and not run away from the politically damaging law. Pelosi plans a rare midweek press conference today, though the House is in recess, to mark the upcoming March 23 anniversary of President Obama’s signing of the health law. While Republicans say last week’s victory by Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla., over Democrat Alex Sink proved the political toxicity of ObamaCare, Pelosi maintains “Republicans are wasting their time” using the health law as an electoral issue.
McConnell says face the facts - “…Despite repeated assurances from the Democrats who forced this law through Congress, Obamacare has led to higher premiums, fewer choices and enormous complications even for people who already had insurance. It’s forced painful choices for people who could barely get by as it was. So you’d think Washington Democrats would step back and take a long hard look at the accumulating evidence and start thinking about ways to keep their mistakes from pummeling even more Americans. But you’d be wrong. They just keep doubling down.” –Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in a statement Wednesday.
DOCS SAY OBAMACARE STICKS THEM WITH THE BILL
Daily Caller: “The American Medical Association is protesting an Obamacare provision it argues will leave doctors with the bill for up to two months of unpaid care. The provision requires insurers to allow patients with federally-subsidized health insurance plans a 90-day grace period to pay their premiums before canceling the coverage. Insurers are on the hook for the first 30 days of care, if the customer never pays up, but doctors will be stuck without payment for any services between 30 and 90 days, until the coverage is canceled.”
THE JUDGE’S RULING: PRIVACY IN PERIL
New on Fox News Opinion: In “Freedom for Thee but not for Me” Judge Andrew Napolitano questions the motives behind Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Diane Feinstein’s challenging the CIA over alleged spying on senate staff during the committee investigation of government’s use of torture techniques in interrogations. “Is she seeking to expose torture because it is immoral, unlawful, unconstitutional and un-American or because she had not approved of it? Is she angry because the CIA illegally spied in the U.S. or because the CIA illegally spied in the U.S. on her staff? Who can be intellectually honest about anger over spying on a handful of colleagues and indifferent to or even supportive of spying on hundreds of millions of Americans? You get the picture. She has no problem with experiments with our liberties, unless she and her staff are the victims.”
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...
Victor Davis Hanson considers how technological advancements make it too easy to forget some things fall outside the range of technology for National Review. From Technology and Wisdom: “Computer models assured us that the Earth would now be getting really hot. But over the last 17 years, when carbon emissions reached historic levels, temperatures mysteriously have stayed the same or cooled. Nature remains fickle, complex, and unfathomable, and can defy even computer-enhanced theorizing… The politicos who peddled the Affordable Care Act did so not just on the impossible logistics of giving more coverage to more people at less cost. They also hyped their new user-friendly website that would make getting health care no different from buying shoes on Amazon… The problem is not just that high technology is human-produced, and thus often crashes in the same way that imperfect humans often fail. Sophisticated electronics also often disguise the brutal premodern world with a thin veneer of postmodern egotism.”
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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 43.4 percent//Disapprove – 51.9 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 27.4 percent//Wrong Track – 62 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot: Democrats – 41.2 percent// Republicans 40.8 percent
RAND PAUL WANTS A ‘DIFFERENT KIND OF PARTY’
Potential 2016 GOP contender Rand Paul, R-Ky., continued to make his push for Republicans to appeal to younger voters during a Wednesday speech to students the University of California at Berkeley. Paul compared the need for GOP outreach to Dominos pizza’s re-branding pitch saying, “Remember Domino’s finally admitted they had bad crust? Think Republican party. Admit it, okay. Bad crust; we need a different kind of party.” The Kentucky Senator’s rebukes of the Obama administration’s domestic spying program were also met warmly by students on the liberal campus. “I find it ironic that the first African-American president has without compunction allowed this vast exercise of raw power by the NSA,” Paul said, observing that other black heroes such as Martin Luther King Jr. were targets of illegal government spying. More.
[Paul gets the twofer - The Kentucky Legislature has passed a law allowing Rand Paul to appear on the ballot twice in 2016, either as a presidential or vice presidential candidate, as well as a Senator. The Lexington-Herald Courier has the details.]
OBAMA PUSHES PAL DEVAL AS PRESIDENTIAL PLAYER
Whether he decides to throw his hat into the 2016 presidential ring or not, Gov. Deval Patrick, D-Mass., is getting high praise from President Obama. During an interview Wednesday with New England Cable News Obama said Patrick “would make a great president or vice president” adding it would be “wise” for the two-term governor to keep the door open for a future national bid. In a giving mood, Obama also offered a jab at potential New Hampshire Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown saying, “I will wait until Mr. Brown actually makes a formal announcement before I talk about politics in New Hampshire, much in less Massachusetts, but [N.H. Dem Sen.] Jeanne Shaheen has been a terrific senator…I'd be happy if Scott Brown wants to move down to Texas. You know, we could always use some moderate Republicans in other parts of the country. New Hampshire’s already got it covered with a great senator”
GETTING MESSY IN MISSISSIPPI
The Mississippi Republican Senate primary between Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., and Tea Party-backed challenger State Senator Chris McDaniel is about to get ugly. With GOP establishment icon, former Gov. Haley Barbour, R-Miss., and his nephews Austin and Henry actively involved with Cochran’s campaign, groups supporting McDaniel say they are prepared for a fierce fight. “The battle lines are clearly drawn in this race” libertarian group FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe told Breitbart adding, “This is Cochran and his band of super lobbyists vs. Chris McDaniel and the people of Mississippi. The Barbours don't represent Mississippians, they represent their lobbying client lists.”
BEGICH CLAIMS FATHER’S MANTLE IN NEW AD
Sen. Mark Begich’s, D-Alaska, latest ad, narrated by his wife, invokes the memory of his late father Rep. Nick Begich, D-Alaska, whom he lost at the age of 10 when the congressman was presumed dead during a flight from Anchorage to Juneau. From the ad: “Mark is clearly his father’s son and there is nowhere he won’t go to listen and standup for Alaskans…I love my husband but I’m prouder still of him as a father, and what he learned from his own.”
PICK SIX: DEMS ROCKY ROAD
Republicans can capture the Senate with a net gain of six seats this cycle. Which six Democrat-held seats are the most vulnerable to Republicans in November? The current consensus among Fox News First readers: Arkansas, Montana, Louisiana, South Dakota, North Carolina and Alaska. FNF Reader David Jones of Ft. Collins, Colo., makes the case for the Centennial State: “With this ‘blueish’ state seeming to lean back red after last year’s over reach by Dems on gun control and [Sen. Mark Udall’s, D-Colo.] 99% Obama voting record, [Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo.] looks awfully good.”
ILLINOIS GOV PLAYBOOK: POOR WAR
The Chicago Tribunes’ John Kass details how he sees class warfare as the only option struggling Illinois Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and his union backers can take in the gubernatorial contest against Republican businessman Bruce Rauner. From Kass: “Rauner will be demonized. The wealthy hedge fund manager has dared to threaten the power of the public employee unions that wag the government dog. And Quinn casts himself as the people’s champion… Look for President Barack Obama to campaign in Illinois, and play his Mitt Romney card. Whether it will work on Rauner or not, I don't know, but he'll play it. The national Democrats have already decided on class war as their strategy for the midterm elections. It beats talking about the disasters of Obamacare.”
RGA All-in for Rauner - The Republican Governor’s association is serious about taking back the governor’s mansion in President Obama’s home state, quickly boosting Bruce Rauner’s campaign with a $750,00 donation, the Chicago Sun Times reports.
JUDICIAL VICTORY FOR VOTER ID
AP: “Federal officials must help Kansas and Arizona enforce laws requiring new voters to document their U.S. citizenship, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, in a decision that could encourage other Republican-led states to consider similar policies. U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren in Wichita, Kan., ordered the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to immediately modify a national voter registration form to add special instructions for Arizona and Kansas residents about their states' proof-of-citizenship requirements. Both require new voters to provide a birth certificate, passport or other documentation to prove their U.S. citizenship to election officials. The federal registration form requires only that prospective voters sign a statement declaring they are citizens.”
PUT YOUR HANDS DOWN, IT’S ONLY ART
Police armed with assault rifles descended on a Maine man's home after members of a tree removal crew he'd told to clear off his property reported that he had a gun. Michael Smith of Norridgewock, works nights and was asleep when the tree crew contracted by a utility company to trim branches near power lines woke him up. He went outside shirtless and yelled at the workers to leave. What about the weapon? Turns out the ‘gun’ the crew had seen was just a life-sized tattoo of a handgun on Smith’s stomach. How could a tat be mistaken for a lethal weapon you ask? We report you decide, take a look.
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“The United States is not Western Union. The United States is the leader of the Western Alliance. [President Obama] doesn't seem to understand that. While he’s working on the brackets for the NCAA, things are not stable…The Ukrainians have tossed in the towel. They have given up on Crimea. The question is, will or will not [Russian President Vladimir Putin] advance into eastern Ukraine?... That right now is a live question. Obama is adding nothing on the scale that would dissuade Putin.”—Charles Krauthammer, on “Special Report with Bret Baier”
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