Friday, November 18, 2011

Clinton Set to Visit Myanmar as Obama Cites Progress

Citing “flickers of progress” in Myanmar’s political climate, President Obama announced Friday that he was sending Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on a visit next month, the first by a secretary of state in more than 50 years.

The decision was announced in Bali, Indonesia, where nations from Southeast Asia were meeting on Friday with leaders from across the Pacific Rim, including the United States, China and Japan.

“For decades Americans have been deeply concerned about the denial of basic human rights for the Burmese people,” Mr. Obama said. “The persecution of democratic reformers, the brutality shown toward ethnic minorities and the concentration of power in the hands of a few military leaders has challenged our conscience and isolated Burma from the United States and much of the world.”

But he added that “after years of darkness, we’ve seen flickers of progress in these last several weeks” as the president and Parliament in Myanmar have taken steps toward reform.

“Of course there’s far more to be done,” Mr. Obama said.

The decision to send Mrs. Clinton came as Myanmar took another step away from its diplomatic isolation on Thursday when its neighbors agreed to let the country, which had been run for decades by the military, take on the chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in 2014.

Myanmar has long coveted the rotating chairmanship of the organization, known as Asean. The country renounced its turn in 2006 in the face of foreign pressure over human rights abuses.

“It’s not about the past, it’s about the future, what leaders are doing now,” the Indonesian foreign minister, Marty Natalegawa, told reporters in Bali about the chairmanship. “We’re trying to ensure the process of change continues.”

Myanmar inaugurated a new civilian system this year after decades of military rule. The new government, led by a former general, Thein Sein, has freed a number of political prisoners, taken steps to liberalize the nation’s heavily state-controlled economy and made overtures to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the 1991 Nobel laureate who was released from house arrest last year.

In a telephone conversation flying from Australia to Indonesia, Mr. Obama sought assurances from Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi before approving the visit and she “confirmed that she supports American engagement to move this process forward,” Mr. Obama said.

Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi’s political party won elections in 1990, but the result was ignored by the military. Her party, the National League for Democracy, has said it will decide on Friday whether to rejoin the political system after having been de-listed as a party by the junta.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Obama’s ratings could damage Brown’s chances

President Obama’s approval ratings may be tanking in the rest of the country, but he’s still the most popular Democrat in Massachusetts — and that could make it tougher for Republican Sen. Scott Brown to keep his job.

A new UMass-Lowell/Boston Herald poll shows that 61 percent of registered voters in Massachusetts give him favorable marks, with just 34 percent viewing him unfavorably. But many Democratic-leaning voters are ambivalent about Obama, with one quarter saying they are dissatisfied with his administration’s policies.

Obama trounces former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in a presidential election trial heat, according to the poll. The president is beating Romney by a 57-33 percent margin in Romney’s home state.

And if Texas Gov. Rick Perry wins the nomination, he probably shouldn’t be scheduling too many campaign stops in the Bay State. Obama holds a 62-25 percent lead over Perry among Massachusetts voters.

Democrats are counting on an Obama “coattail effect” in November 2012 to carry their Senate nominee to victory. Brown won in a special election with no other Democrat on the ballot.

“Whether Obama winds up helping or hurting his party’s Senate nominee here may depend on how well he turns out his base,” said Mike Mokrzycki, a consultant who produced the poll.

But harnessing those coattails may not be as easy as some Democrats think. Just 10 percent of all registered voters in the UMass-Lowell/Herald poll say they are “enthusiastic” about Obama’s policies, while 41 percent indicate they are “satisfied but not enthusiastic.” And 54 percent agree that Obama has “fallen short of expectations” as president, including 42 percent of Democratic-leaning voters.

“He’s done some good things and not so good things,” said an Arlington voter who took part in the UMass-Lowell/Herald poll. “He used a lot of political capital pushing health care.”

The poll also shows that Brown’s re-election chances could be hurt badly by his Republican colleagues in Congress. Nearly one in four Massachusetts voters describe themselves as “angry” at the policies of Republican leaders in Washington, while another 37 percent say they are “dissatisfied.”

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Obama - the reluctant partisan

BARACK OBAMA took office vowing to usher in a post-partisan era that would drain the toxic anger of the Bush years and focus the country on practical, long-overdue reforms. Like Bush, he was no doubt sincere in wanting to unite the country. Unlike Bush, he has governed in a manner largely consistent with that ideal. A lot of good it’s done him: Washington is more poisonous than ever. And as Congress courts disaster by threatening to default on the national debt, Obama must marvel at his plight. Practically a caricature of Spock-like rationality and sober caution, he’s presiding over a capital that has become completely unhinged.

Nothing illustrates this better than his struggle to raise the debt ceiling. By a quirk of history, the United States is the rare country that first passes a budget and then allots the funds for it. Obama never imagined Republicans would withhold that money to exact concessions. Asked about the possibility at a news conference last December, he dismissed the very premise.

He soon learned better. Republicans cannily grasped that most Americans don’t understand the concept of the debt limit, much less its importance. But raising it sure sounds objectionable, especially at a time of big deficits. In May, a Gallup poll found that, by almost a 3-to-1 margin, Americans didn’t want to.

So Obama set himself to the task of changing public opinion. Partly, he did this by speaking out about the urgency of the issue and flaunting his willingness to cut entitlements like Medicare and Social Security as part of a deal. His officials emphasized the horrors of default. And he cast himself in the role he loves best, that of the responsible parent admonishing his colleagues for their childish ways.

In all this, Obama succeeded. He’s brought public opinion around to his side, not only on the question of whether to raise the debt ceiling but also on how to do so. A majority of Americans now say Congress should raise the ceiling. Two-thirds agree with Obama that any deal should balance spending cuts with tax increases. Only 21 percent favor the Republicans’ plan of cuts alone. Americans have chosen the stern parent over the squabbling kids: Obama’s approval rating, while only around 50 percent, towers over that of his opponents. A CBS poll found that 71 percent disapprove of how Republicans have conducted the negotiations, while an ABC/Washington Post poll revealed that even Republicans disapprove of how their leaders have negotiated. Small wonder that dissatisfaction with government is at a 19-year high.

By almost every measure, then, Obama has prevailed - except on the one that counts. He’s almost certain to lose the fight in Congress. He’ll get the debt limit raised - maybe before a default, maybe after - but only in exchange for a package that will probably consist entirely of cuts totaling at least $1.5 trillion and force his party into a series of politically uncomfortable votes. Meanwhile, taxes remain at historically low levels and entitlements keep on growing. It’s enough to turn anyone into a raving partisan.

The irony is that, however reluctantly, Obama may decide he has no choice but to force a showdown. He’ll have few options left to address the deficit. Having sacrificed the cuts that might have been included in a “grand bargain’’ to slash debt and reform the tax code, his main point of leverage will be the expiring Bush tax cuts next year.

Obama would prefer that the quarreling parties come together, Democrats lured by the prospect of more revenue and Republicans by the lower marginal rates that would result from eliminating loopholes. But the chances of such a post-partisan scenario coming to pass seem vanishingly slim. Republicans have steadfastly refused to compromise on taxes, and each time they’ve won. Why yield now?

What’s likelier is that taxes will dominate the presidential campaign. If Obama wins, he’ll suddenly be the one positioned to demand concessions or let the Bush cuts expire.

This would prompt an epic showdown, further inflaming partisanship and ruining what remains of Obama’s image of himself as beyond ideology. But if he has the nerve to see it through, this showdown could restore the revenue necessary for government to function, shore up the country’s fiscal health, and prove that major reform is still possible. What seems impossible is that this might be achieved amicably and without drama.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Appeals court ruling gives Obama a health care victory

In the first ruling by a federal appeals court on President Obama’s health care overhaul, a panel in Cincinnati handed the administration a victory yesterday by agreeing that the government can require a minimum amount of insurance for Americans.

A Republican-appointed judge joined with a Democratic appointee for the 2-1 majority in another milestone for Obama’s hotly debated signature domestic initiative — the first time a Republican federal court appointee has affirmed the merits of the law.

The White House and Justice Department hailed the panel’s affirmation of an earlier ruling by a federal court in Michigan; opponents of the law said challenges will continue to the US Supreme Court.

At issue is a conservative law center’s lawsuit arguing on behalf of plaintiffs that potentially requiring them to buy insurance or face penalties could subject them to financial hardship. The suit warns that the law is too broad and could lead to more federal mandates.

The Thomas More Law Center, in Ann Arbor, Mich., argued before the panel that the law was unconstitutional and that Congress overstepped its powers.

The government countered the measure was needed for the overall goal of reducing health care costs and reforms such as protecting people with preexisting conditions. It said the coverage mandate will help keep the costs of changes from being shifted to households and providers.

White House adviser Stephanie Cutter called the ruling another victory for millions of Americans and small businesses benefiting from the overhaul.

“At the end of the day, we are confident the constitutionality of these landmark reforms will be upheld,’’ she said in a statement.

The law center predicted its case would have a good shot on appeal.

“Clearly, our case won’t resolve all the issues, because we don’t raise the state rights issue, but we are the only one that is currently ripe for Supreme Court review that raises the challenge on behalf of an individual,’’ said David Yerushalmi, an attorney for the law center.

The three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit delivered a lengthy opinion with disagreement on some issues, moving unusually quickly in delivering its decision, less than a month after hearing oral arguments.

“Congress had a rational basis for concluding that the minimum coverage provision is essential to the Affordable Care Act’s larger reforms to the national markets in health care delivery and health insurance,’’ Judge Boyce F. Martin, appointed by President Carter, wrote for the majority.

A President George W. Bush appointee concurred; a President Reagan appointee who is a US district judge in Columbus, Ohio, sitting on the panel disagreed. Judges are selected for panels through random draw.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Obama couldn’t run a lemonade stand

The Obama administration has mindlessly flooded the country with hundreds and hundreds of billions of federal tax dollars. The government gurus claim the reason for opening the federal-money floodgates was to jump-start the sluggish economy, which was strangled to begin with by Fedzilla’s housing policies - or lack thereof.

Just as you would not pour gas on a fire in hopes of putting it out, infusing more than a trillion taxpayer dollars into the economy has not and will not work to put the economy on the path to prosperity. An artificial economy cannot be repaired with more artificiality. Who doesn’t know this?

President Obama’s economic and social engineering has been a flop, a disaster. The economy continues to sputter, gag and hemorrhage; unemployment and underemployment are getting worse, not better; housing prices continue to plummet; the dollar’s value is shrinking; and our debt is suffocating any hopes of a long-term economic recovery. Keep the Titanic on course, captain.

Dumping more than a trillion dollars into the market and claiming to want to stimulate the nation’s economy is analogous to intentionally allowing the Missouri River to flood towns and cities because the streets need cleaning.

Either the Obama administration does not know its history or it intentionally wants to kill off the nation’s private sector. It might be a little of both.

The Obama regime may be the least qualified when it comes to understanding how a free market operates, how jobs are created and how profits are made. I have yet to uncover any high-ranking Obama appointee with any free-market experience, including the secretary for the Department of Labor, which should be renamed under the Obama regime as the Department of Labor Unions.

The bottom line is that we have entrusted our economy to a group of people who would not know how to operate a child’s lemonade stand. What an inexcusable, tragic mistake.

We faced a similar economic problem back in the early 1980s. After soundly defeating President Carter, Ronald Reagan, a fan of the free market, took the opposite approach of what Mr. Obama is doing to turn the economy around.

What happened because of President Reagan’s approach of lowering taxes, reducing federal regulations and favoring the private sector over Fedzilla? Almost 40 million private-sector jobs were created and America experienced a 25-year economic boom.

What America needs is a vibrant, growing and strong economy that benefits everyone, especially the shrinking middle class. This will not happen with a guy in charge who believes Fedzilla knows best. It does not.

There has been no net increase in jobs created as a result of swamping the economy with federal dollars, and there will be none. When the free-market history books are written, this will be the central theme of surrendering the economy to central planners in Washington who have zero private-sector experience.

The Obama regime has given America a crystal-clear message that liberalism in big government is an economic wrecking ball. What America desperately needs is a much leaner, less bureaucratic federal government - the very kind of federal government our framers had in mind when they started this experiment in self-government more than 230 years ago.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Obama awarding Medal of Honor to Wash.-based Army sergeant who lost hand in Afghanistan

President Barack Obama will award the Medal of Honor to a Washington state-based Army sergeant who lost his hand in Afghanistan when he tried to toss an enemy grenade away from himself and two colleagues.

Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Arthur Petry will be the second living, active-duty service member to receive the nation’s highest military decoration for actions in the Iraq or Afghanistan wars. Last year, Obama awarded a Medal of Honor to Staff Sgt. Sal Giunta, also for actions in Afghanistan.

Petry was being recognized for courageous actions during combat operations against an armed enemy in the eastern Afghan province of Paktia in May 2008, the White House statement said. The 31-year-old native of Santa Fe, N.M. will receive the medal in a ceremony July 12, a White House statement said Tuesday.

“It’s very humbling to know that the guys thought that much of me and my actions that day, to nominate me for that,” Petry told the Army News Service.

Officials at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the base south of Seattle where Petry works with injured Rangers returning from deployment, referred calls to Army headquarters. A spokesman at headquarters did not immediately return calls seeking comment Tuesday.

According to the Army News Service, Petry was serving with the 75th Ranger Regiment when he was wounded during a rare daylight raid to capture a high-value target. Petry was clearing the courtyard of a targeted compound with Pvt. 1st Class Lucas Robinson when they came under fire.

A bullet pierced both of Petry’s legs, and he and Robinson took cover by a chicken coop. As Sgt. Daniel Higgins arrived, a grenade was thrown from the other side of the coop, landed about 30 feet away and exploded, wounding Higgins and Robinson.

A second grenade landed even closer to the three wounded Rangers — just a few feet away. Petry grabbed it and tried to toss it away, but it exploded in his hand.

“If not for Staff Sgt. Petry’s actions, we would have been seriously wounded or killed,” Higgins later wrote in a report cited by the Army News Service.

Petry placed a tourniquet on his own right arm before reporting that he had been wounded again and that the firefight was ongoing. Two other soldiers, Staff Sgt. James Roberts and Spc. Christopher Gathercole, came to their aid. Gathercole was shot and killed by an enemy firing from another part of the courtyard; Higgins and Robinson returned fire and killed him.

Petry enlisted in the Army in September 1999, the White House statement said. He completed multiple combat tours totaling 28 months of deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq. Previous decorations include two Bronze Stars, a Purple Heart and three Army Commendation Medals.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Charles to meet Obama in Washington

The Prince of Wales is flying to Washington for a two-day official visit that will see the royal call on US President Barack Obama.

Charles will meet the president in his Oval Office at the White House on Wednesday for talks on a range of subjects ahead of Mr Obama's state visit to the UK later this month.

Charles will travel to America in the private plane of US financier Joe Allbritton in a bid to save on travel costs. It is thought to be the first time the heir to the throne has used an aircraft paid for by a private individual for an official visit.

The move is likely to save the British taxpayer tens of thousands of pounds. But Charles may face criticism from the green lobby as the aircraft will make a number of trips without passengers.

Mr Allbritton, who is a corporate supporter of the Prince's charities and a personal friend, was invited to the recent wedding of Prince William and his new wife Kate, now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Outlining the official trip, a Clarence House spokesman said: "The Government has asked the Prince of Wales to pay a visit to the United States, needless to say our friendship with the United States is one of the most important - given the special relationship. And it's crucial that we sustain this relationship with regular high-profile visits that focus on a wide range of issues that reflect the full depth and breadth of our shared interests."

The spokesman said the visit has three main themes - environmental sustainability, co-operation between UK and US forces with particular emphasis on the welfare and support of injured service personnel, and education.

Later Charles will visit America's Supreme Court in Washington to celebrate the Marshall Scholarships. The British project, established by an Act of Parliament in 1953, funds Americans to study at UK universities in recognition of the post-war European recovery programme, known as the Marshall Plan.

Charles will go on to visit a "common good" city farm in a deprived area of Washington, where a softball field has been turned over to growing produce by local volunteers.

In the evening, the royal will attend a reception to celebrate the work of a British body and its US counterpart which both organise morale boosting events for troops. The Prince will also meet injured US servicemen and women.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Faced with Obama ’slow walking’ document requests, GOP aims at outside groups

Roughly four months into Republican rule of the House, top GOP oversight officials say the Obama administration is “slow walking” a series of oversight inquires into federal agencies and the White House.

For instance, on a Feb. 18 request for meeting minutes and e-mails regarding “secret” negotiations on Obamacare, two months later the White House has provided a series of press releases, a summary of publicly available visitor logs, and a list of staff who worked on the issue.

On another inquiry into politicization of Freedom of Information Act requests by journalists, watchdog groups and lawmakers at the Department of Homeland Security, Republicans point to an e-mail obtained by oversight committee Chairman Darrell Issa telling DHS officials “we are NOT to search for documents responsive to the Issa request.”

“There is a coordinated effort, I assume being led by the White House, to, I would describe it as slow walking or slow rolling these things,” says an investigator on the Energy and Commerce Committee, “No one’s told us ‘no, we’re not gonna do that.’ They say they’ll do it every time. But they’re doing as much as they can to stall.”

The administration’s resistance to cooperate with requests that could expose damaging information about the president’s health care law and other issues is shaping the latest GOP salvo, aimed, not at the administration, but at a series of industry trade associations and unions.

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton Monday sent 12 industry groups and unions letters asking for extensive details and documents about each organization’s interactions with the White House in regards to negotiations on the health care law.

The letters come as the Obama White House has so far declined to provide its documents about the meetings.

The move is, at first glance, counterintuitive. After all, a congressional subpoena could compel the White House to provide the documents under force of law.

But for Republicans, led by the considerable fear of Speaker John Boehner that his party will be seen as overreaching on oversight, the requests to industry could provide an end-run around White House intransigence.

The groups, which include AARP, PhRMA, the American Medical Association the AFL-CIO and the Business Roundtable, are less likely to resist the request, and will be seen less sympathetically if they do.

Meanwhile, the documents they produce could help Upton piece together a picture of what took place in the meetings even without cooperation by the White House.

At issue are special deals struck between interest groups and President Obama to either garner the support of major industry sectors or soften their criticism of the health care law.

In one major instance, the pharmaceutical drug sector agreed to back the legislation as long as the costs to that sector did not exceed $80 billion. The drug sector eventually spent over $100 million on television advertisements touting the law.

The documents from the outside groups, then, could give Upton the political cover to proceed more forcefully with the White House.

Meanwhile, after an initial flurry of fighting, Rep. Elijah Cummings, Issa’s combative foil on the oversight panel, and Rep. Henry Waxman, the top Democrat on the energy panel, have quieted their criticisms.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Obama to travel to Indy on Friday

President Obama travels to Indianapolis Friday to visit Allison Transmission, the White House announced today.

White House officials said the visit was part of his effort to cut oil imports and protect consumers from rising oil prices.

Allison Transmission is a leader in hybrid technology and the world’s largest manufacturer of fully-automatic transmissions for medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles, tactical military vehicles and hybrid-propulsion systems, White House officials said.

Last June, the firm announced a facility, which, when fully operational, will have the capacity to produce 20,000 commercial-duty hybrid propulsion systems annually, the White House said.

White House officials said when Obama was elected, the U.S. imported 11 million barrels of oil a day. Last week he announced a goal of cutting that figure by one-third by 2025.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Barack Obama: the softly-softly president

President Obama may be under attack from all quarters over Libya, but he knows what he’s doing, says Alex Spillius.

During their long and prickly battle for the 2008 Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton taunted Barack Obama with a television advertisement in which a telephone ringing at 3am in the White House went unanswered. The question was: who did Americans want to pick up the phone? “Someone tested and ready to lead in a dangerous world?” as the doom-laden voiceover suggested – in other words someone such as the supposedly battle-ready Mrs Clinton? Or someone such as Barack Obama, who at that stage had been in the United States Senate for a mere three years?

When it came to the Libyan crisis, Mr Obama left the figurative phone ringing for a fortnight, and as the British and French clamoured for a muscular response, did not speak to David Cameron for a week. Only when Col Muammar Gaddafi’s armoured divisions began picking off opposition-held towns, and when the Arab League supported a no-fly zone, did he change his mind, and only then after Hillary Clinton – now, of course, overseeing the answering of the phones at the State Department – and Susan Rice, his ambassador to the United Nations, persuaded him that it would not be in his interests to have another Srebrenica on his hands.

Critics called this dithering, and it was. The bulk of Obama’s working life was spent teaching law at the University of Chicago – he rarely mentions this because it is politically unsexy. But when faced with a crisis he still reacts like a college professor, gathering as much data and listening to as many different viewpoints as possible before processing all that information through his high quality brain. Gut feelings are not a strong point, but that does not mean that on Libya he does not know what he is doing.

While European interventionists may be frustrated chiefly with his late arrival to the cause, criticism at home has come from every angle. Senators from both Left and Right wondered why Congress was not consulted and demanded a joint session where the president would explain the goals of the mission. Newt Gingrich, a former Speaker of the House who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination next year, called Obama a “spectator in chief instead of commander in chief”, who lacked the ability to lead the world. Mitt Romney, another potential rival, said Mr Obama lacked a foreign policy.

Some asked what the president was doing jetting off to Latin America for five days when the country was effectively going to war. As French, British and US jets (a running order the White House insisted on) prepared to attack the southern Mediterranean coast, Mr Obama and his family arrived in Brazil, with Michelle and the two girls clad in closely coordinated carnival-yellow outfits.

With Washington’s politicos and press corps demanding an explanation, he made only a short statement on Friday before leaving Washington – and before it dawned on the Beltway crowd that bombs were going to rain on Libya – and then took only one question on the military operation at a Monday press conference in Chile.

In many ways, his critics have missed the point. With the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan still active, the last impression this US president wants to give Americans is that they are at war on another front. That is why he avoided a sombre Oval Office address to the nation as the first missiles were launched into a dark far-away sky on the very day that Operation Iraqi Freedom commenced eight years ago. That is why he kept the press at arm’s length and made sure his family visited a Rio slum and the mountain-top statue of Christ the Redeemer.

“Obama is pursuing a subtle strategy that, contrary to the criticism, has been carefully thought out,” says Stefan Halper, a former senior official in four Republican administrations. “It will enable the Europeans to do what they want to do with American help, preserve our credibility and ensure we pull away from the cutting edge of this process.”

There are numerous causes for Washington’s reticence. The Pentagon is worried about cost and overstretch. The president is concerned about not wrecking what he sees as progress in repairing the Arab world’s trust in Washington. A humanitarian crisis in Libya is, moreover, much further from the US than from Europe.

There is also a keen awareness in the Obama administration, Mr Halper says, that the real worries in the Middle East are the kingdoms of Bahrain, where the US Fifth Fleet resides, and Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest supplier of oil.

“It is very present in people’s minds and there is a sense of keeping your powder dry. If we have to have a holding operation in Libya that prevents a slaughter and takes a long time for a rag-tag opposition to move Gaddafi out of office, then so be it.”

Norm Ornstein, a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, says: “We are already at war in two Muslim nations and a third could not be contemplated. The delays from the White House may have come at a cost on the ground as Gaddafi made some gains, but would quick unilateral action have defeated him for sure?

“This was better than blundering into a conflict looking like a cowboy who only goes after Muslims. We will play a significant role in this but not one which allows al-Jazeera to show people burning US flags.”

And so we have had the extraordinary spectacle of the French and the Arab League being more hawkish than the world’s sole superpower. Within a few days the Americans are determined to hand over command of the operation to Nato or another country. That, of course, brings its own problems, as the bickering between Nato partners over the precise aim of the mission has shown. But what should not be missed here is that far from lacking a foreign policy for the US, Obama is changing it.

The multilateralism he seeks against Libya is not the fig-leafed coalition of the willing that went to war in Iraq, where, as Mr Ornstein puts it, “every other country apart from a few sent three or four soldiers”. Obama foresees an operation against Libya with an American logistical spine and a British or French, or even Arab face. He is happy to pick up the tab, but does not want to stay for dinner.

His plan is consistent with his approach to date of restoring US standing after the Bush era, promoting US economic interests given the nation’s shrinking share of the global pie, and avoiding conflict without looking weak – hence his decision to redouble efforts in Afghanistan. This may be too nuanced, or too vague, to be called an Obama doctrine. But as long as he sits in the White House, US allies will have to get used to the fact that while they can turn to America in a crisis, they may not receive the response they expect, especially when they themselves are in hawkish mood on any given issue.

“Obama is intuitively a multilateralist and he doesn’t seem to believe that the US has any innate cultural superiority over other countries,” says David Rothkopf of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “The problem is he is also very pragmatic, politically self-interested, and as narcissistic as any political leader, which means he wants all events to redound to his benefit personally.”

If Obama is not free of excessive personal regard, neither is he shy of using America’s clout when it suits him. He delivered a slap on the wrist to Brazil for irritating him over Iran by refusing to support its bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. He hesitated little about using the US veto in the same forum against a resolution condemning Israeli settlements.

“The president knows how powerful the US is,” Mr Rothkopf says. “He is just fairly uncomfortable about using US military power.”

That, for all of us, may take some getting used to. Europeans wanted an anti-Bush figure. This is what they have got.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Obama issues disaster declaration for Mass. storms

President Barack Obama has issued a major disaster declaration for Massachusetts to help the state rebuild following January's severe winter storms.

Gov. Deval Patrick asked for the declaration in the wake of the winter pounding the state took on Jan. 11 and 12.

The storms spread heavy snow and ice across Massachusetts, shutting down roads, closing schools and businesses and leaving thousands without power.

Sen. John Kerry hailed the declaration Monday.

Kerry said that while most of the snow and ice from the storms has melted away, people are still hurting from the damage left behind. He said people missed work, homes lost power and businesses had to close their doors, losing valuable revenue.

Obama issued the disaster declaration Monday afternoon.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Obama touts tech agenda in Oregon

President Barack Obama paid a quick West Coast sales call for his education and high-tech agenda, dining with industry royalty at a private meeting in Silicon Valley before touring a state-of-the-art semiconductor plant in Oregon.

After visiting with a group of science fair students and peering at the image of atoms seen through an electron magnoscope, Obama renewed the theme sounded in his State of the Union address, with a nod toward his recent focus on deficit reduction.

"Even as we have to live within our means, we can't sacrifice investments in our future," Obama told several hundred guests and employees gathered at Intel Corp.'s suburban Portland, Ore., campus Friday. "If we want the next technological breakthrough that leads to the next Intel to happen here in the United States — not in China, not in Germany — then we have to invest in America's research and technology, in the work of our scientists and engineers."

Obama has pushed for increased spending on education, high-speed Internet, high-speed rail and green technologies — even as other federal programs are slashed or frozen — as a way to create jobs and better position the U.S. for competition in an increasingly globalized economy. Republicans call "investment" a euphemism for expanding the size and heft of government and have called for drastic budget cuts.

Obama found a friendly audience in Oregon, a Democratic stronghold, and an unlikely host in Intel Chief Executive Paul Otellini, who contributed to Obama's Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, in 2008 and has been critical of the president's economic and health care policies.

The relationship has thawed as Obama endorsed an extension of the research and development tax credit — a legislative priority forIntel and other tech firms — and taken other steps to reach out to business leaders. On Friday, Obama named Otellini to his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, an economic advisory group.

Otellini, for his part, announced after the tour that Intel would build a $5 billion manufacturing facility in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler. The Arizona facility will create thousands of new jobs and will be the most advanced high-volume semiconductor factory in the world, he said.

Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One, White House press secretary Jay Carney acknowledged Otellini's past criticism. "The president wants to hear from a lot of different voices," Carney said en route to Portland, Obama's only other West Coast appearance Friday.

"The point is not to collect people who agree with him on every issue and every policy decision he's made," Carney said, "but to create an environment, a council ... where ideas, good ideas, can be generated for going forward on job creation."

Before heading to Oregon, Obama dined Thursday night at the Woodside, Calif., home of venture capitalist John Doerr, a major Democratic donor. The private meeting included several marquee names from the tech industry, including Apple Inc. Chief Executive Steve Jobs, Google Inc. CEO Eric Schmidt, Facebook Inc. founder Mark Zuckerberg and Yahoo Inc. CEO Carol Bartz.

Carney said the president and business leaders discussed Obama's proposals to spur investment and hiring, as well as ways to encourage children to study math, science and engineering.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Geithner Tells Obama Debt Expense to Rise to Record

Barack Obama may lose the advantage of low borrowing costs as the U.S. Treasury Department says what it pays to service the national debt is poised to triple amid record budget deficits.

Interest expense will rise to 3.1 percent of gross domestic product by 2016, from 1.3 percent in 2010 with the government forecast to run cumulative deficits of more than $4 trillion through the end of 2015, according to page 23 of a 24-page presentation made to a 13-member committee of bond dealers and investors that meet quarterly with Treasury officials.

While some of the lowest borrowing costs on record have helped the economy recover from its worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, bond yields are now rising as growth resumes. Net interest expense will triple to an all-time high of $554 billion in 2015 from $185 billion in 2010, according to the Obama administration's adjusted 2011 budget.

"It's a slow train wreck coming and we all know it's going to happen," said Bret Barker, an interest-rate analyst at Los Angeles-based TCW Group Inc., which manages about $115 billion in assets. "It's just a question of whether we want to deal with it. There are huge structural changes that have to go on with this economy."

The amount of marketable U.S. government debt outstanding has risen to $8.96 trillion from $5.8 trillion at the end of 2008, according to the Treasury Department. Debt-service costs will climb to 82 percent of the $757 billion shortfall projected for 2016 from about 12 percent in last year's deficit, according to the budget projections.

Budget Proposal

That compares with 69 percent for Portugal, whose bonds have plummeted on speculation it may need to be bailed out by the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

Forecasts of higher interest expenses raises the pressure on Obama to plan for trimming the deficit. The President, who has called for a five-year freeze on discretionary spending other than national security, is scheduled to release his proposed fiscal 2012 budget today as his administration and Congress negotiate boosting the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.

"If government debt and deficits were actually to grow at the pace envisioned, the economic and financial effects would be severe," Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke told the House Budget Committee Feb. 9. "Sustained high rates of government borrowing would both drain funds away from private investment and increase our debt to foreigners, with adverse long-run effects on U.S. output, incomes, and standards of living."

Yield Forecasts

Treasuries lost 2.67 percent last quarter, even after reinvested interest, and are down 1.54 percent this year, Bank of America Merrill Lynch index data show. Yields rose last week to an average of 2.19 percent for all maturities from 2010's low of 1.30 percent on Nov. 4.

The yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury note will climb to 4.25 by the end of the second quarter of 2012, from 3.63 percent last week, according to the median estimate of 51 economists and strategists surveyed by Bloomberg News. The rate was 3.64 percent as of 2:08 p.m. today in Tokyo. The economy will grow 3.2 percent in 2011, the fastest pace since 2004, according to another poll.

"People are starting to come to the conclusion that you've got a self-sustaining recovery going on here," said Thomas Girard who helps manage $133 billion in fixed income at New York Life Investment Management in New York. "When interest rates start to go back up because of the normal business cycle, debt service costs have the potential to just skyrocket. Every day that we don't address this in a meaningful way it gets more and more dangerous."

'Kind of Disruption'

While yields on the benchmark 10-year note are up, they remain below the average of 4.14 percent over the past decade as Europe's debt crisis bolsters investor demand for safer assets, Bank of America Merrill Lynch index data show.

"The market is still giving the U.S. government the benefit of the doubt," said Eric Pellicciaro, New York-based head of global rates investments at BlackRock Inc., which manages about $3.56 trillion in assets. "What we're concerned with is whether the budget will only be corrected after the market has tested them. Will we need some kind of disruption within the bond market before they'll actually do anything."

Still, U.S. spending on debt service accounts for 1.7 percent of its GDP compared with 2.5 percent for Germany, 2.6 percent for the United Kingdom and a median of 1.2 percent for AAA rated sovereign issuers, according to a study by Standard & Poor's published Dec. 24. Among AA rated nations, China's ratio is 0.4 percent, while Japan's is 2.9 percent, and for BBB rated countries, Mexico devotes 1.7 percent of its output to debt service and Brazil 5.2 percent, the report shows.

Auction Demand

Demand for Treasuries remains close to record levels at government debt auctions. Investors bid $3.04 for each dollar of bonds sold in the government's $178 billion of auctions last month, the most since September, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Indirect bidders, a group that includes foreign central banks, bought a record 71 percent, or $17 billion of the $24 billion in 10-year notes offered on Feb. 9.

Foreign holdings of Treasuries have increased 18 percent to $4.35 trillion through November. China, the largest overseas holder, has increased its stake by 0.1 percent to $895.6 billion, and Japan, the second largest, boosted its by 14.6 percent to $877.2 billion.

'Killing Itself'

"China cannot dump Treasuries without killing itself," said Michael Cheah, who oversees $2 billion in bonds at SunAmerica Asset Management in Jersey City, New Jersey. "They're holding Treasuries as a means to an end," said Cheah, who worked at the Singapore Monetary Authority from 1982 through 1999, and now teaches finance classes at New York University and at Chinese universities. "It's part of what's needed to promote exports."

At least some of the increase in interest expense is related to an effort by the Treasury to extend the average maturity of its debt when rates are relatively low by selling more long-term bonds, which have higher yields than short-term notes. The average life of the U.S. debt is 59 months, up from 49.4 months in March 2009. That was the lowest since 1984.

The U.S. produced four budget surpluses from 1998 through 2001, the first since 1969, as the expanding economy, declining rates and a boom in stock prices combined to swell tax receipts.

Tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, the strain of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the cost of funding wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the collapse in home prices and the subsequent recession and financial crisis has led to the three largest deficits in dollar terms on record, totaling $3.17 trillion the past three years.

'Demonstrates Confidence'

The U.S. needs to manage its spending decisions "in a way that demonstrates confidence to investors so we can bring down our long-term fiscal deficits, because if we don't do that, it's going to hurt future growth," Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said in Washington on Feb. 9.

The Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee, which includes representatives from firms ranging from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to Soros Fund Management LLC, expressed concern in the Feb. 1 report that the U.S. is exposing itself to the risk that demand erodes unless it cultivates more domestic demand.

"A more diversified debt holder base would prepare the Treasury for a potential decline in foreign participation," the report said.

Foreign investors held 49.7 percent of the $8.75 trillion of public Treasury debt outstanding as of November, down from as high as 55.7 percent in April 2008 after the collapse of Bear Stearns Cos., according to Treasury data.

Potential Demand

The committee projects there may be $2.4 trillion in latent demand for Treasuries from banks, insurance companies and pension funds as well as individual investors. New securities with maturities as long as 100 years, as well as callable Treasuries or bonds whose principal is linked to the growth of the economy might entice potential lenders, the report said.

"They are opening up a can of worms with the idea of all these other instruments," said Tom di Galoma, head of U.S. rates trading at Guggenheim Partners LLC, a New York-based brokerage for institutional investors. "They should try to keep the Treasury issuance as simple as possible. The more issuance you have in particular issue, the more people will trade them -- whether it be domestic or foreign investors."

White House Budget Director Jacob Lew said the Obama administration's 2012 budget would save $1.1 trillion over the next 10 years by cutting programs to rein in a deficit that may reach a record $1.5 trillion this year.

"We have to start living within our means," Lew said yesterday on CNN's "State of the Union" program.

Still, about $4.5 trillion, or 63 percent of the $7.2 trillion in public Treasury coupon debt, needs to be refinanced by 2016. That gives the government a narrowing window as growing interest expense will curtail its ability to spend.

"There is roll-over risk," said James Caron, head of U.S. interest-rate strategy at Morgan Stanley in New York, one of 20 primary dealers that trade with the Fed. "It's a vicious cycle."

Monday, February 7, 2011

Obama appoints Pawlenty's pastor

President Obama has named Tim Pawlenty’s pastor, Leith Anderson, who is also the president of the National Association of Evangelicals, to his council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Anderson has been a senior pastor at Wooddale Church in Minnesota, one of the largest evangelical churches in the country, since 1977. He is known as a moderate evangelical leader and since taking the helm of the NAE in 2006 has steered the organization toward more moderate political engagement.

They issued statements of support for the START Treaty ratification last year, supported Obama’s push for comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act, and issued a report on 18 issues in which NAE and Obama concur.

As Pawlenty seemingly prepares to launch a bid against Obama in 2012, he will likely be up against another evangelical candidate in the Republican primaries, Mike Huckabee. Meanwhile, Obama has continuously fought against widespread misconceptions that he is not a Christian.

“Every day I read a poll [about Obama’s religion] I think it’s odd,” Anderson told POLITICO last year, coming to Obama’s defense. “I read all these polls and my mind always flashes back to Jay Leno and ‘Jaywalking,’” referring to the comedian’s routine that pokes fun at Americans’ ignorance of seemingly basic facts.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Obama to sign nuclear treaty documents Wednesday

President Barack Obama is pushing a key foreign policy goal, a nuclear arms treaty with Russia, closer to completion. 

He was signing documents Wednesday for the New START treaty, a cornerstone of U.S. efforts to "reset" ties with Russia. 

The agreement limits each country to 1,550 strategic warheads, down from 2,200. It also re-establishes a monitoring system that ended in December 2009 with the expiration of an earlier arms deal.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (dih-MEE'-tree med-VYEH'-dyev) signed the papers last week after the treaty cleared parliament. The U.S. Senate approved the pact in late December after Obama lobbied hard for passage. 

Ratification becomes final when both sides exchange the signed papers. 

Obama is scheduled to sign the documents in the Oval Office in the presence of news photographers only. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

By skipping Obama speech, justices bring politics to court

THE DECISION by Supreme Court justices Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, and Clarence Thomas to skip President Obama’s State of the Union address has been widely interpreted as payback for Obama’s criticism of the court in last year’s speech. If so, it’s one more step in a worrisome politicization of the court.

The Supreme Court is the guardian of its own integrity. That means staying above politics and maintaining an air of dispassionate consideration of constitutional issues. The court is not an elected body, and shouldn’t function like one. This is especially important because, unlike with an elected body, there are few external constraints on the justices: They set their own rules, and the need for comity on the court largely prevents them from policing each other. Their shared commitment to maintaining judicial decorum is all that binds them.

But that commitment has been fraying. Scalia has made himself an evangelical force in conservative legal circles, and regularly delivers pep talks to the right-wing Federalist Society. His decision to address an event earlier this week organized by GOP Representative Michele Bachmann’s Tea Party Caucus was fairly typical. Though Bachmann sought to defuse tension by inviting some Democrats to the closed-door event, Scalia’s decision to attend, and refusal to back out, further establishes him as a man in the arena, a politico, and serves to put quotation marks around his judicial opinions.

There have been parallel lapses by other justices, principally Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose decision to allow the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund to name a lectureship for her, and then to attend the lecture, was unwise. She risked conflating her judicial finding of abortion rights as a matter of constitutional law with the political fights waged by pro-choice advocacy groups. Such an suggestion — even if implicit — is damaging to the court: It suggests that what goes on in judicial chambers is akin to what happens in the voting booth.

Now, the court’s three most conservative justices, all Republican appointees, have chosen to skip the State of the Union address of a Democratic president. Obama is in no position to complain, because his scolding of the court last year over its campaign-finance decision was rude and self-serving. He, too, deserves some blame for politicizing the court. But he’s a politician. The justices may claim, as some have suggested, that skipping the State of the Union is a way of demonstrating their independence, but it isn’t. Showing up isn’t a political gesture; boycotting it is. Chief Justice John Roberts, who had wavered about attending, seems to have realized this and agreed to lead the court contingent. He deserves credit for putting the court’s reputation ahead of his own sense of pique.

After failure of Robert Bork’s Supreme Court bid in 1987, confirmation hearings grew increasingly anguished and may have served to politicize the justices who survived them; having been branded and labeled throughout the confirmation process they perversely choose to advertise their politics on the court — as if snubbing their noses at their critics.

But the nation is best served by a Supreme Court it can trust to be a source of independent judicial review. When justices advertise their politics, even through indirect gestures like skipping speeches, they undermine their position. They should show better judgment.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Cheney: Obama has learned that Bush policies were right

President Obama has “learned from experience” that some of the Bush administration’s decisions on terrorism issues were necessary, according to former Vice President Dick Cheney.

In his first interview since undergoing major heart surgery last July, Cheney said he thinks Obama has been forced to rethink some of his national security positions now that he sits in the Oval Office.

"I think he's learned that what we did was far more appropriate than he ever gave us credit for while he was a candidate. So I think he's learned from experience. And part of that experience was the Democrats having a terrible showing last election."

Cheney also asserted that Obama has learned that the prison at Guantanamo Bay simply cannot be closed, despite the promises he made while campaigning for the White House.

"I think he's learned that he's not going to be able to close Guantanamo," Cheney said. "That it's — if you didn't have it, you'd have to create one like that. You've got to have some place to put terrorists who are combatants who are bound and determined to try to kill Americans."

Cheney made the comments about Obama in an interview that is set to air Tuesday on NBC’s “Today.” The interview was Cheney's first since before he underwent heart surgery in July. Doctors introduced a device into his heart that pumps blood from the ventricle chamber to his aorta.

The former vice president cited the Obama administration’s expanded use of drones in Pakistan as more evidence of continuity from the policies of the Bush White House.

"As I say, I think he's found it necessary to be more sympathetic to the kinds of things we did," Cheney said. "They've gotten active, for example, with the drone program, using Predator and the Reaper to launch strikes against identified terrorist targets in the various places in the world."

Cheney also weighed in during the interview on the Arizona shooting that left six people dead and injured 13, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.). Cheney was cautious about what role heated political rhetoric played in the shooting.

"I think the event was caused by a deranged individual. And — that's where we ought to look in terms of trying to assess guilt," Cheney said.

But Cheney also said that it was important not to squelch spirited political debate in the shooting’s aftermath.

"I don't think we should anticipate that we can somehow take a system that was designed for political combat, if you will, between the parties, between ideas, between principles and set that aside. I wouldn't want to do that," Cheney said. "That's the heart and soul of our political system. And that's basically a good thing."

Cheney also confirmed an account from President George W. Bush's recently released memoir, “Decision Points,” that he had offered to resign multiple times during his administration.

"I didn't wanna stand in the way if, in fact, that kind of decision would enhance the president's prospects of winning reelection in 2004 when he was up against John Kerry," Cheney said. "And I thought he ought to have the freedom to change anybody he wanted, including me."

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Obama Officials Use Fox News to Smear Conservative Group in Shootings

The only certain fact about the motivation of Arizona killer Jared Loughner is that, like the lunatic who opened fire on the Pentagon last March, he is a pothead. Several people who knew Loughner say that he was a serious abuser of the drug and “liked to smoke pot.” What’s more, Loughner had been arrested in 2007 for possessing drug paraphernalia.

The use of marijuana has been linked to mental illness, including psychosis, and increases the kind of paranoia exhibited by Loughner in his writings.

However, Jennifer Griffin of Fox News recklessly and irresponsibly claimed on Sunday morning that the killer was a political conservative. Using Obama officials as her sources, she reported that “intelligence gathered by the Department of Homeland Security and shared with state officials across the United States” had revealed “a strong suspicion” that the shooter was influenced by a conservative publication called American Renaissance (AR).

This publication is on the right side of the political spectrum and is politically incorrect because of its criticism of racial preference and “diversity” programs and immigration policies that weaken the strength of a country. It has scheduled a Feb. 4–Feb. 6, 2011, conference in Charlotte, North Carolina.

One would have expected that a “conservative” news channel dedicated to fairness and balance would not be so quick to publicize the charges or “suspicions” of some anonymous federal officials in the Obama Administration who seem anxious and eager to smear conservative groups.

But without bothering to get a response, Griffin claimed, “This is based on some of the videos he posted on YouTube. This group’s ideology is anti-government, anti-immigration, and anti-Semitic.”

But a review of Loughner’s YouTube videos finds nothing about American Renaissance.

To make matters worse, it turns out that Griffin not only did not contact AR for a response but badly mischaracterized the nature of the publication.

Jared Taylor of American Renaissance told AIM that he first heard about the charge from CNN, not Fox News. He said that when he found out about the story on the Fox News website, he emailed several Fox News correspondents denouncing the allegations. “I got no response,” he said.

Eventually, he was contacted by James Rosen of Fox News. But that was after Fox News analyst Juan Williams, recently fired by National Public Radio, cited the charges as if they were true on Fox News Sunday.

Apparently using the questionable Griffin story as his source, Williams was quick to claim “there are connections between him [the shooter] and this group, American Renaissance, I think they’re called, and they are strongly anti-immigrant, they’re anti-Semitic and they’re anti-government.”

Nothing Williams said was backed up by the facts and he did not cite any.

Taylor told Rosen that the charges are “scurrilous” and that he took issue with the reference to his group being “anti-ZOG” (Zionist Occupational Government).

“That is complete nonsense,” Taylor said. “I have absolutely no idea what DHS [Department of Homeland Security] is talking about. We have never used the term ‘ZOG.’ We have never thought in those terms. If this is the level of research we are getting from DHS, then Heaven help us.”

In a statement on the publication’s website, Jared Taylor went into more detail and countered: “No one by the name of Loughner has ever been a subscriber to American Renaissance or has ever registered for an American Renaissance conference. We have no evidence that he has even visited the AR website.”

He added, “American Renaissance condemns violence in the strongest possible terms, and nothing that has ever appeared in it pages could be interpreted as countenancing it.”

A subsequent story by Griffin claimed that American Renaissance was mentioned “in some of his [Loughner’s] internet postings and federal law enforcement officials are investigating Loughner’s possible links to the organization.”

But no evidence of such postings or links was cited or has surfaced.

In this Griffin story, the source became a “law enforcement memo based on information provided by DHS and obtained by Fox News…” She falsely characterized American Renaissance as “a pro-white racist organization.”

Giving it a high degree of credibility, Greta Van Susteren of Fox News insisted it was “an internal memo” that was “put out by DHS” and reproduced the entire thing.

While American Renaissance is critical of government affirmative action programs and unrestricted immigration, there is no evidence of anti-Semitism, and there is no evidence that American Renaissance by any objective standard is a racist organization. It does deal with racial issues. But so does the Congressional Black Caucus.

The memo in question supposedly said, in relation to AR, “…no direct connection—but strong suspicion is being directed at AmRen / American Renaissance. Suspect is possibly linked to this group. (through videos posted on his myspace and YouTube account.). The group’s ideology is anti government, anti immigration, anti ZOG (Zionist Occupational Government), anti Semitic. Gabrielle Gifford is the first Jewish female elected to such a high position in the US government. She was also opposite this group’s ideology when it came to immigration debate.”

Jared Taylor countered: “AR is not anti-government, anti-Semitic, or anti-ZOG, as is clear from the 20 years of back issues that are posted on our website. The expression ‘ZOG’ has never appeared in the pages of AR, and we have always welcomed Jewish participation in our work. Many of the speakers at American Renaissance conferences have been Jewish.”

What’s more, Taylor noted that, “Gabrielle Giffords is not the ‘first Jewish female elected to such a high position in the US government.’ Barbara Boxer has represented California in the Senate from 1993, and Dianne Feinstein has done so since 1992. There are at least six Jewish congresswomen listed by Wikipedia as currently serving in the House. If this memo is typical of the research done by the Department of Homeland Security, our country is in serious danger. I telephoned DHS today to try to get the bottom of this nonsense, but apparently there is no homeland security on Sundays. The person who answered the phone said no one is there and that I should call back on Monday morning.”

He added, “Fortunately, some of the media organizations that have been reporting this story have contacted me, and have reported my assertion that American Renaissance knows nothing at all about Jared Loughner, that we condemn all violence, and that we cannot possibly be described as anti-Semitic.”

After going on the air with the false and malicious charges about AR, Fox News finally published a story with a response to the charges under the headline, “American Renaissance Denies DHS Charges, Any Affiliation With Shooter.”

A later Fox News story reported, “New details are emerging about Loughner as a law enforcement memo based on information provided by the Department of Homeland Security and obtained by Fox News suggests he may have ties to the American Renaissance group, though it's unclear if he was directly affiliated with the publication or group.”

It is apparent that Fox News is backing away from the story, after already doing damage to and smearing the organization.

By this point, however, dozens of liberal-left media outlets and bloggers have already cited Fox News as the source of the claim that the killer was involved in a conservative group.

Taylor called for an investigation into how and where DHS obtained the bogus information and who leaked it to Fox News.

“I’d like to know where they are getting this nonsense,” Taylor told AIM. “What else are they telling other people?”