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• Obama Muslim meeting said to focus on ‘alarming rise’ of bigotry
• Amnesty compromise plan: Keep kids but not adults
• Jeb makes bet on Iowa
• Hillary boosters fund anti-vaccine movement
• Pigeon pageantry
“Lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.” – President Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast today comparing Islamist militants to events in Western history.
OBAMA MUSLIM MEETING SAID TO FOCUS ON ‘ALARMING RISE’ OF BIGOTRY
The White House won’t say who attended a meeting between Muslim leaders andPresident Obama at the White House on Wednesday, but comedian Dean Obeidallah says he was there. Writing in the Daily Beast, Obeidallah said discrimination was the main topic: “In fact, it was clearly the No. 1 issue raised: The alarming rise in anti-Muslim bigotry in America.” Obeiallah is well known for his flame-throwing attacks on Republicans, referencing “the GOP’s World Cup of bat[s**t] crazy” and a racial joke about the adopted grandchild of 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney. The comedian said he went to White House seeking help in encouraging Democrats to denounce Republicans’ comments on Islam. “My point was that while bigotry from certain Republicans is nothing new, I’m alarmed about the Democratic response to these comments. What is the Democrats’ response, you ask? Simple: silence.” He said Obama was very receptive: “While I can’t share the president’s exact response, I can tell you that he expressed his strong commitment to our community to fight anti-Muslim bigotry. I fully understand it’s not easy problem to remedy. But it was very heartening to hear the president’s passionate response.”
Public figures deemed ‘private citizens’ - Obeidallah also said that the organizer of the event, Farhana Khera, a well-known attorney who has spearheaded efforts to limit law enforcement “profiling” of Muslims in terrorism investigations, was also in attendance. As for the other 13, we are left to wonder. Unlike a similar gathering with beneficiaries of the president’s temporary executive amnesty programs on Wednesday, for which extensive coverage was granted, the administration decided to withhold the names of the attendees for the Muslim event, saying that the participants were “private citizens” and that privacy was necessary so that they could share their “candid views” on a range of topics.
AMNESTY COMPROMISE PLAN: KEEP KIDS BUT NOT ADULTS
The Hill: “Sen. Susan Collins [R-Maine] has proposed compromise legislation she hopes could serve as the basis for a deal between congressional Republicans and the White House on President Obama's executive actions on immigration. The Maine centrist Republican filed an amendment Wednesday that would allow Obama's 2012 executive action to stand.That executive action set up the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals [DACA] program, which offers safe harbor to hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants who came to the country as children and have maintained a clean record. The Collins proposal would repeal Obama's executive action from November that would grant de facto legal status to the immediate family of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, which would affect up to 5 million immigrants…The fight over the executive actions is taking place on legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security. Funding is set to lapse on Feb. 27. ‘I'm looking for a compromise that can bring an end to this impasse,’ Collins told reporters in the Capitol.”
Called out - “At least seven of you Democratic colleagues have said you oppose President Obama's action. Well, when do you have a clearer chance to confront that action and to demonstrate with conviction that you meant what you said than on this vote? ”--Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., on the Senate floor Wednesday
Senate leaders won’t tie A.G. nomination to amnesty fight - Dallas Morning News: “Sen. John Cornyn [R-Texas] said today that he opposes Loretta Lynch to replace Attorney General Eric Holder. But unlike fellow Texas Sen. Ted Cruz [R-Texas], he wants the nomination brought to a vote… Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell [R-Ky.] said that despite anyone’s qualms about Lynch, he cannot see any justification for denying her a confirmation vote by the full Senate.”
Dialed back - The Hill has recast the potential senatorial ambitions of a pair of Arizona Republican Congressmen described in an article as “considering” a challenge to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. The Hill now says Reps. Matt Salmon and David Schweikert have “left the door open” to a possible run against the longtime senator and former GOP presidential nominee.
ADMINISTRATION TAKES AGGRESSIVE STANCE ON NET REGS
Fox News: “The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission is proposing unprecedented rules to regulate Internet service providers, including mobile broadband, like a public utility, in a far-reaching move that could be one of the most divisive plans to emerge from the agency in years. In an op-ed in Wired magazine posted online, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said his plan would regulate Internet service much like phone service or any other public utility by applying Title II of the 1934 Communications Act. In doing so, the agency would prohibit providers from slowing down, speeding up or blocking web content. ‘I am submitting to my colleagues the strongest open internet protections ever proposed by the FCC,’ he wrote…Net neutrality is the idea that Internet providers should not move some content faster than others or enter into paid agreements with companies such as Netflix to prioritize their data. Advocates for this approach say it would keep the Internet free and open, making content equally available to everyone and treating the Internet as a pipeline that must not restrict access.”
[Watch Fox: Correspondent Shannon Bream reports in the latest installment of Regulation Nation.]
Hmmmmm… - An unnamed “White House official” speaking to Politico about the duties of soon-to-depart White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer: “Over the last few months, he's been leading an internal review of how we structure our communications apparatus in a rapidly changing media environment - including meeting with Silicon Valley experts to develop recommendations for how we best communicate ... in the digital age. Dan will finish this project before departing in early-March.”
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...
Americans are consuming a lot of soy sauce these days. Depending on whether you classify salsa as a dip or a sauce, soy sauce ranks either third or fourth on the condiment hierarchy, outranked by only ketchup and the $2-billion king of the condiments, mayonnaise. Not bad for what started 2,000 years ago as fermented beans and wheat paste. The Atlantic looks at the story of soy sauce in America and, particularly, the quotidian clear plastic pouches of the stuff. Did you know that soy sauce for astronauts has to be extra potent because being in space deadens their sensitivity to the normally potent brew? Or would you believe that a former popsicle packager from the Bronx is the father of the package populating junk drawers and cabinet corners across the land? Or that what’s inside isn’t actually soy sauce? (Actually, you probably would believe that one.) The magazine even looks into the future of portable soy sauce for the increasingly discerning American palate.
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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 45.9 percent//Disapprove – 50 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 34.4 percent//Wrong Track – 57.1 percent
JEB MAKES BET ON IOWA
2016 frontrunner Jeb Bush will make his debut in Iowa next month. The news ends speculation about whether the Republican establishment favorite, who passed on a conservative Freedom Summit in January that drew nine of his rivals, would avoid the state’s anti-establishment-leaning caucus crowd. Des Moines Register: “Bush intends to speak at the Iowa Agriculture Summit in Des Moines on March 7. The former Florida governor has RSVP’ed along with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, New York businessman Donald Trump, former Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, organizers and the contenders’ aides told The Des Moines Register…His announcement that he intends to brave Iowa waters, at least once, comes in the wake of a new Iowa Poll that shows he ranks in fifth place when it comes to GOP likely caucusgoers’ first choice for president.”
‘Right to Rise’ speech touts conservative polices to boost middle class - AP: “The nation’s economy can grow much faster by unshackling government burdens on business, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush told an audience of influential Detroit-area business leaders on Wednesday in his first major economic speech as a 2016 Republican presidential prospect. In his address to the Detroit Economic Club…[Bush] offered the economic principles that would form the foundation of an economic platform, should he continue on the path toward a campaign….‘We believe that every American and in every community has a right to pursue happiness,’ he told the audience of 600. ‘They have a right to rise.’…Bush touted education as a way forward for struggling families, an issue he has long supported….The former governor also is in favor of paring down government, calling bloated bureaucracy, onerous taxes and voluminous regulations shackles to economic growth and American families’ ability to climb.
Like father, like son - Hoover Institution’s Bill Whalen writes about the historical context for Bush’s speech: “Finally, from Bush: ‘If Americans are working harder than ever, earning less than they once did, our government, our leaders, should step up, fix what went wrong, or step aside.’ About that dare – ‘step up, fix what went wrong, or step aside.’ It raises a concern that’s going to dog Bush throughout the campaign. In a venue prone to talk of GNP and GDP, the man who would be America’s 45th president gave a speech with heavy overtones of ‘GBP’ – ‘Ghosts of Bushes Past.’ … In September 1992, the candidate’s father — at the time, the 41st President of the United States and an incumbent whose re-election chances were deeply in trouble — also made the sojourn to the Detroit Economic Club. There, he gave a speech outlining a much overdue economic vision … All of that, plus this dare to Congress: ‘lead, follow or get out of the way.’”
The top of his pecking order - NYT: “Sally Bradshaw, a 49-year-old Mississippian…has been far away from the chickens and the farm, clearing a path for Jeb Bush to become president….As Jeb Bush’s facilitator, enforcer and sounding board for 20 years, Ms. Bradshaw does the political trench work that allows her boss to keep his head in the policy clouds. Just last week, the woman Mr. Bush called his ‘closest adviser for the entirety of my political career’ helped drive Mitt Romney, for whom she once worked, out of the race by poaching his former Iowa director …‘She has been integral to the decision process I am currently going through right now,’ Mr. Bush wrote in an email, describing Ms. Bradshaw, who declined to comment, as a straight-shooting ‘doer’ who inspires her troops and ‘gets the best from people.’”
WALKER LOOKS TO HARNESS NATIONAL DONOR BASE
WaPo: “It was not yet 8 a.m. on a recent Sunday morning, but a crowd of heavyweight GOP donors was gathered on the back patio of Carl and Jimmy Westcott’s desert vacation home to hear from Scott Walker. The eager reception for the Wisconsin governor and likely presidential candidate, who picked up a $100,000 check on the spot from one person at the Indian Wells, Calif., event, was repeated as he hopscotched across the country last week in the first fundraising tour for his new political committee…Fighting the unions became a national cause on the right. Rich conservatives rallied to Walker’s side, including influential donors who are part of a network organized by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch.…In all, Walker raised almost $83 million for his three statewide races in the past four years, an eye-popping sum for a governor of a modest-size Midwestern state. Of the nearly 300,000 people who gave to his campaigns, three out of four donated $75 or less, according to people familiar with the figures.”
Miller, not bud for Walker - Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: “For the record, Gov. Scott Walker says he has never smoked marijuana. …Earlier this week, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican also interested in running, admitted he had smoked weed as a teenager. Walker was asked Wednesday if he has ever done the same. His answer: ‘No,’ Walker said. ‘The wildest thing I did in college was have a beer.’”
RUBIO: THE MAN WITH A PLAN
NRO’s Andrew Smith examines how Sen. Marco Rubio breaks away from the 2016 Republican field: “He wants to run on a detailed and novel conservative policy platform, if the book he put out in January, American Dreams: Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone, is any indication….A number of his policy proposals and his rhetoric align closely with what’s been dubbed the ‘reform conservative’ movement, a group of policy-minded intellectuals and journalists who’ve been pushing for a new, middle-class-focused conservative vision.”
HILLARY BOOSTERS FUND ANTI-VACCINE MOVEMENT
Daily Beast: “Albert Dwoskin and his wife, Claire, have been heavy hitters in Democratic politics for decades, boasting fundraisers with access to top Democratic leaders, even the Clintons. Bill Clinton has spoken at their mansion in McLean, Virginia twice. Albert, a real estate developer, donated more than $10,000 to Ready for Hillary, [Hillary Clinton’s] campaign in waiting, in 2013. That’s on top of the thousands of dollars both Clintons have received from the pair since the 1990s. But it’s Albert and Claire Dwoskin’s other hobby that is under scrutiny now. The Dwoskins fund a multimillion-dollar family foundation that has publicly tied the use of vaccines to a rise in autism, and is dedicated to addressing ‘gaps in the knowledge about the biological and genetic risk factors for vaccine induced brain and immune dysfunction.’ In other words, they’re vaccination skeptics. And the foundation is just one in a series of anti-vaxx projects that the wealthy couple bankrolls.”
[Booked - Clinton’s celebrity doctor wrote a book on the alleged link between autism and vaccines with noted vaccine critic Robert Kennedy Jr.]
The Judge’s Ruling: States, not feds rule on vaccines - Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano writes about the political controversy surrounding the vaccination debate: “Under our Constitution, the states, and not the federal government, are the guardians of public health. That is an area of governance not delegated by the states to the feds. Of course, you’d never know this to listen to the debate today in which Big Government politicians, confident in the science, want a one-size-fits-all regimen.”
Move over Westminster. Nearly 8,000 birds and their owners flocked to the 93rd annual Grand National Pigeon Show last weekend in Ontario, Calif. AP reported on the scene, including the human star of the show: former boxer Mike Tyson who kicked off the event by releasing 100 white pigeons. Tyson maintains a personal flock of 1,800 birds and has kept birds since he was a child. The birds featured in the Grand National Show were all colors and varieties of breeds. Aside from varieties found in nature and those bred for shows, the birds can also be raised as racing animals. “Racing pigeons are the Ben Johnsons of the world and fancy pigeons are the Naomi Campbells of the world,” said Fadiel Hendricks, president of the National Fancy Pigeon Association of South Africa. However, it is an aging hobby with 90 percent of breeders over the age of 50. Bob Nolan of the Los Angeles Pigeon Club, blames technology for the lack of interest among younger demographics. Tyson agrees there is a problem among the younger demographic but finds the hobby peaceful, watching his birds for hours.
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“The disinterest, the lethargy of this president, the lassitude with which he pursues this war which he declared himself is simply astonishing…Jordan, which is our staunchest ally in the area, is short of weaponry, short of munitions, and it takes forever for that to get through. It shouldn’t even be an issue.” —Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier” Watch here.
Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.
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.