Cheers and Jeers: Time Warp Thursday

Past, Meet Present

Those of you who read C&J, including our devoted oral historians who commit each column to memory and pass them down to future generations around the campfire, know that I have always compiled the definitive year-in-review extravaganzas. But like the last three, I’m throwing this year out the window. No way am I gonna slog through 2020 again. Best thing for us all is to encase these 366 days in cement and toss 'em off a pier.

Instead, we're doing something different. You may have read in the papers that a Democratic challenger clobbered the Republican incumbent 537 electoral votes to 1 in last month's presidential election, and will embark on his first year in office 20 days henceforthwith. Notably, he was the previous Democratic president's vice president. So this morning we thought it'd be fun to look back—via C&Js we posted in 2009—at some highlights from Year 1 of the Obama-Biden administration.

It's a timely reminder of what it was like when we last had an adult in charge of the executive branch, and a preview of what it'll be like having another one behind the resolute desk. Enjoy…

Note: In the interests of world peace, C&J will be off tomorrow so that we may spend some quality time drunk in the gutter. We'll return Monday for another year of homespun mediocrity delivered from a wingback chair under the Monet in the drawing room. We wish you and yorn a safe and happy New Year's holiday. Don’t forget to feed the cat.  —Mgt.

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C&J Remembers the Obama-Biden Administration’s First Year

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January 20, 2009

January: During his first 100 hours in office, President Obama puts in motion an end to the Iraq War, re-legitimizes contraception to reduce unwanted pregnancies and the spread of disease, strikes fear in the hearts in our enemies and euphoria in the hearts of our allies, takes science off the Bush terror watch list, restricts the reach of lobbyists, and gives the nation a new sense of hope, mission, and identity. After Obama takes the oath, now-"former" president Bush boards a helicopter and flies back to the only state where he feels welcome: denial.

"Shortly after his inauguration, Obama spoke on the phone to the leader of the Palestinians and the leader of the Israelis. Both men started their call by asking Obama, 'Hey, what was the deal with Aretha Franklin's hat?" —Conan O'Brien

January: hope and change return to the White House after the Bush disaster.

FebruaryPresident Obama signs an expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP)—which Bush had vetoed—into law. He also makes history by being the first black president to address a joint session of Congress, offering a sober assessment of the way things are and how to rebound (duct tape and $20 trillion in unmarked bills).  The response: 67 outbursts of applause and 37 standing ovations.  Also, for the first time ever during a presidential speech, the Supreme Court justices start a wave.  Several injuries are reported.

"I hereby appoint myself the president's Tell-People-Where-to-Go-and-What-to-Kiss Czar. Fox News, if you want an exclusive: pucker up!"

—Wanda Sykes

March: First Lady Michelle Obama and a gaggle of kids turn over sod on the south lawn and plant vegetables in the new White House "kitchen garden."  They would've used the north lawn but they kept running into the bodies of Nixon's enemies.

April: Joe and his boss heading back to the Oval Office to take care of business.

April: The Obamas welcome a rambunctious new puppy.  Newt Gingrich adds his magic touch to the moment, saying: "I think that this whole thing is fairly stupid."  Mainly because he knows they won't be kicking it.

May: President Obama creates an uproar when he orders a cheeseburger with "Dijon mustard."  The Senate Culinary Committee hearings are brutal and he barely escapes impeachment.

May: After Jacob ­Philadelphia asks President Obama if his hair was like his, Obama replies: “Touch it, dude.”

June: Speaking in Egypt, President Obama threads a needle and gives the Middle East a pep talk in which he promotes respect for religious diversity, women's rights, peaceful co-existence, political freedom, nuclear disarmament, and fighting terrorism. But even more impressive, he accomplishes one thing that historians consider a high point in the first year of his presidency: knocking Joe Scarborough off the TV for an entire hour.

July: Touring earthquake damage during the G8 summit in L’Aquila, Italy.

July: President Obama has a lovely meeting with the Pope in Vatican City.  The two exchange gifts (a book on bioethics for Obama; DVDs of Sister Act and Sister Act 2 for Benedict), and then visit the Vatican cafeteria where they look for Virgin Marys in the grilled cheese sandwiches.

August: Diabetics across America celebrate as the Senate approves the nomination of one of their own, Sonia Sotomayor, as the next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.  Hispanics are somewhat jazzed about it, too.

"Rush and his ilk have come up with a name for the first Hispanic on the Supreme Court that's been 99 percent white men for 200 years, and that name is 'reverse racist.' Sonia Sotomayor is a racist and someone has to stop her because for too long white men have been kept down by powerful Puerto Rican women!"  —Bill Maher, 2009

September: The government reports that household income increased by two-trillion dollars in the second quarter of 2009.  Unfortunately it all goes to one household—the Gladys Higginbotham residence in Dubuque.  Economists agree: that was one helluva scratch ticket.

September: President Obama talks with Sonia Sotomayor prior to her investiture ceremony at the Supreme Court. That’s President-elect Biden behind him talking with RBG.

October: After President Obama wakes the EPA from its eight-year slumber and gives it a chance to wipe the pixie dust from its eyes, the agency announces it's taking steps to control emissions from power plants, factories and refineries; denies 79 permit applications for mountaintop-removal coal mining, citing the Clean water Act; and launches a sweeping overhaul of the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976.  But they promise to work even harder on day two.

November: Democrats suddenly discover there's a midterm election coming up, and announce their intention to create a big jobs bill to help knock down the 10.2% unemployment rate.  Among the expected national projects: roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, and President Obama's long-sought U.S.-Kenya Chunnel.

President Obama in Oslo, accepting his Nobel Peace Prize: I'm living testimony to the moral force of non-violence...the creed and lives of Gandhi and King. But as a head of state, sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone. ... Our challenge is reconciling these two seemingly irreconcilable truths—we can understand that there will be war and still strive for peace. Jon Stewart:  Unghh!!  Obama forcing us to live in an area between absolutes. BRAIN HURTS! COMPLICATED!!! —The Daily Show

December: Less than 24 hours after President Obama holds a "Jobs Summit," the unemployment rate falls two-tenths of a percent.  The White House is so excited by its success that they immediately schedule a Jobs Conference, Jobs Roundtable, Jobs Gaggle, Jobs Bazaar, Jobs Meet-Up, Jobs Huddle, Jobs Amish Barn-raising, Jobs Flash Mob, and Jobs Canasta Tournament in Joe Biden's Living Room. 

And one more...

Real presidents get vaccinated:

A White House nurse prepares to administer the H1N1 vaccine to President Obama at the White House on Sunday, Dec. 20, 2009.


Happy New Year! See you Monday morning. Floor's open...What are you cheering and jeering about today?


Rare GOP rebuff of Trump in last days of chaotic Congress

WASHINGTON (AP) - Congress is ending a chaotic session like few others, a two-year political firestorm that started with the longest federal government shutdown in U.S. history, was riven by impeachment and a pandemic, and now closes with a rare rebuff by Republicans of President Donald Trump.

In the few ...

Posted in Uncategorized

Biden calls out Trump appointees for refusing to brief transition in ‘key national security areas’

We're on the cusp of January here, and President-elect Joe Biden is still being forced to call out the Trump-run federal government for refusing to provide national security briefings to his team. The Office of Management and Budget and the Defense Department, specifically, are refusing to provide briefings in "key national security areas."

The delays have been going on since before Christmas, and now Biden's calling it "nothing short" of "irresponsibility." He's also making sure to pin the blame squarely on "political leadership" while still praising the cooperation of career officials.

If Donald Trump, who is at this point in the throes of full-on delusion over his election loss, refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of the next president, that is his own problem. For Trump appointees to take action to willfully block the next president from obtaining information about the nation’s current national security concerns, however, yet again crosses over into national betrayal. It is unquestionable that the delay in transferring national security information may impede the next administration's ability to respond to crisis. For Defense Department hacks, in particular, to bury national security needs under those of Trump's own ego is unforgivable.

The Washington Post reports that after Defense Department claims that the Biden team had agreed to put off all transition meetings until after the holidays, which the Biden team calls a lie and which when dealing with national security concerns seems like an implausible stance to begin with, there have been no transition meetings since Dec.18.

At this point merely firing these authoritarian-minded little pissants seems insufficient. Even if Donald Trump cannot muster an ounce of integrity or pretended-at leadership, that does not excuse the staff that have helped him corrupt our government on his own behalf.

It is most likely that these moves are mere petty tweaking from Trump political hires who do not particularly care if their moves do or don’t harm national security. That has been the way of things since long before impeachment, and has been an ironclad rule ever since.

But it is also possible that the resistance from the Defense Department, in particular, is an intentional effort to hide possible Trump-ordered actions in his last days in office. We are dealing with a man who at this point is deep in the throes of rage and would-be sabotage. It would not be implausible for Trump to order an attack on Iran with the explicit intent to foment a military conflict with the nation in the first days of Biden's presidency. It would not be implausible for Trump's loyalist hacks—remember, he has in recent months cleaned out Pentagon leadership and elevated sycophants, part of yet another purge that saw even the ultra-reliable toady William Barr expelled for insufficient corruption—to be hiding any number of other last-minute schemes from the incoming administration.

Who knows. Thanks to a seemingly unending list of Republican go-alongs, we may be in for at least one more corrupt and nation-betraying surprise before Trump finally flees.

Congress, Journalists Rank Among Worst Professions For Honesty And Ethics According To Survey

A new Gallup poll asking Americans to rank the honesty and ethics of different professions placed journalists and members of Congress low amongst groups such as car salesmen.

Congressional members actually tied car salespeople with a mere 8 percent rating them highly, with advertising practitioners coming it slightly better at 10 percent.

Rounding out low-ranking groups were business executives at 17 percent, lawyers at 21 percent, and journalists at 28 percent.

The top two professions should come as no surprise in a normal year, let alone in the midst of a historic pandemic – nurses at 89 percent and doctors at 77 percent.

Police officers came in at number five, with 52 percent.

With police officers being the subject of defunding pushes by the left and the media, one has to wonder why there isn’t a larger outcry to defund or abolish far more detestable institutions such as the media and Congress.

RELATED: Trump Calls Out Mitch McConnell: Republicans Must Finally Learn To Fight

Members Of Congress Viewed As Unethical By Both Parties

Congressional members – unlike journalists – were universally despised in the Gallup poll regarding professional ethics, with only 8 percent of Democrats rating them highly, 10 percent of Independents, and 4 percent of Republicans.

And why not really? They had a banner year.

A banner year that started with congress focusing almost exclusively on the impeachment of President Trump rather than the coronavirus, which had found its way to America in January.

That was followed up by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ignoring President Trump who had vowed in his State of the Union Address to “take all necessary steps” to protect Americans from the coronavirus.

In fact, Pelosi was too preoccupied with her plan to showboat by tearing up her copy of the address rather than worry about the pandemic.

Pelosi followed that despicable effort by encouraging her constituents to visit San Francisco’s Chinatown in late February – after President Trump banned travel from China to try and stop the spread of the disease.

She would go on to blame Trump solely for the deaths of Americans at the hands of COVID.

Now, you see Republican congressional leaders failing to take the concerns of the American people over election fraud seriously.

Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate Majority Leader, congratulated Joe Biden for winning the presidential election earlier this month and urged his colleagues to accept him as the President-elect.

President Trump responded by giving McConnell a lesson on the mood of the American people.

“Too soon to give up. Republican Party must finally learn to fight,” he tweeted to the GOP leader. “People are angry!”

People are still angry, hence the used car salesperson rating for Congress.

Journalists’ Ethics Aren’t Too Hot Either

While Congress is looked down upon by Americans in both parties, journalists’ ethics are viewed drastically different by Democrats and Republicans.

The only reason the media gets a 28 percent rating is through trust by the left. Which is, of course, no surprise since a vast majority of journalists are card-carrying, bed-wetting liberals.

The Gallup poll shows only 5 percent of Republicans rate the ethics and honesty of journalists highly, while nearly half – 48 percent of Democrats – give them high marks.

Come to think of it, that mark for Democrats is astonishingly low, considering the mainstream media almost singlehandedly gave the presidential election to Joe Biden.

A study conducted by the Media Research Center just weeks after the election suggests biased media coverage may have tilted the results in favor of Biden.

The study consists of an analysis of eight major news stories that the MRC suggests were not covered appropriately, along with a survey of how that coverage affected the election.

It shows that a very significant 17% of Biden voters would have abandoned the candidate if their knowledge of the issues had been different on matters such as his sexual assault allegation, or his son Hunter Biden’s scandal involving shady business deals.

The media and members of Congress rank far lower than President Trump and his administration in regards to honesty and ethics.

The post Congress, Journalists Rank Among Worst Professions For Honesty And Ethics According To Survey appeared first on The Political Insider.

Intelligence Panel Republicans: Swalwell ‘Compromised’ by Fang Ties

By Philip Wegmann for RealClearPolitics

In the 21st century, even spies have a social media presence, and while Christine Fang has not been heard from or seen since she fled the United States more than five years ago, the Chinese national still keeps her Facebook account active.

Fang made two posts in November. The first, a candid photo of her face in shadow and light. The second, a picture of the inside of the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol, perfectly capturing the “Apotheosis of Washington.

Painted by Italian artist Constantino Brumidi in 1865, the fresco depicts George Washington rising into the heavens and is immediately familiar to every member of Congress.

This includes Rep. Eric Swalwell, but unlike the other members of Congress, the California Democrat is also very familiar with Fang.

The lissome Chinese spy cultivated relationships, some of them apparently sexual, with several local and national politicians and, if anything, her picture now reminds Swalwell not of glory but of his current hellish controversy.

RELATED: Report: Eric Swalwell One Of Several Politicians Targeted By Chinese Spy

Swalwell won’t say whether his relationship with the spy included physical intimacy or disclose much about their shared past. The normally chatty congressman won’t say much of anything.

When confronted by a reporter after a jog Thursday morning, the sweaty former presidential candidate kept his head down as he hustled up the steps of his Washington, D.C., home.

He hasn’t been able to run as easily away from the controversy.

After Axios broke the Fang story on Dec. 8, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy quickly labeled Swalwell, who eagerly sought the spotlight during the impeachment of President Trump, “a national security threat.”

The rest of the caucus has followed suit, with GOP leaders sending a letter this week to Speaker Nancy Pelosi demanding that she remove him from his post on the House Intelligence Committee.

But even if he is removed, which seems unlikely, Republicans say the saga calls into question not just the credibility of Swalwell but the judgment of Pelosi.

It is the perfect curtain raiser for their coming argument in the Joe Biden era that Democrats don’t take threats from China seriously.

It’s a story too tempting to pass up. It reads a little like a spy novel because, well, it involves a spy. An attractive one.

Fang went by Christine in the U.S., enrolling in early 2011 at California State University, East Bay, and quickly took an interest in Bay Area politicians.

RELATED: Top Congressional Leader Calls For Eric Swalwell’s Removal From Congress After Report Links Him To Chinese Spy

By 2014, according to Axios, Fang had developed close ties to Swalwell, then a little-known Dublin City Council member. She showed up at events.

She bundled contributions for him, connecting deep-pocketed donors with his congressional election campaign. She placed an intern in his office.

It was the long game, one that counter-intelligence experts warn China is so good at playing.

Swalwell was an obvious mark. In 2012, he had risen from relative obscurity, defeating an octogenarian Democratic incumbent who had represented the Northern California district since before Swalwell as born.

In some quarters, and certainly in his own mind, Swalwell was seen as a young rising star in Democratic politics.

But in his second term in office, U.S. intelligence took notice of something else. According to  Axios, it gave Swalwell a “defensive briefing” about Fang.

Swalwell reportedly cut off ties. Fang left the country, suddenly, in mid-2015.

RELATED: China Excited About Possible Biden Presidency: ‘We Can Return To Objectivity And Rationality’

The same year, somewhat unexpectedly given his junior status, Pelosi named Swalwell to the House Intelligence Committee, a plum and important appointment given the committee’s role overseeing the nation’s intelligence community, including the CIA.

While his office refused to comment for the Axios story, the congressman insisted he was innocent of any wrongdoing in a brief interview with Politico.

He suggested the story was a hit job from a vindictive Trump White House: “I’ve been a critic of the president. I’ve spoken out against him. I was on both committees that worked to impeach him. The timing feels like that should be looked at.”

He said that he cooperated with the FBI and that “if intelligence officials are trying to weaponize someone’s cooperation, they are essentially seeking to do what this person was not able to do, which is to try and discredit someone.”

Swalwell also predicted that he wouldn’t lose his seat, saying “this goes back to the beginning of the last decade, and it’s something that congressional leadership knew about.”

Swalwell hasn’t elaborated about the nature of his relationship with Fang, and his office continues to stonewall media inquiries. RealClearPolitics’ calls to his office were unreturned.

RELATED: Pelosi Stands By Swalwell Amidst Chinese Spy Scandal

But two Republicans on the Intelligence Committee separately told RCP they don’t want Swalwell anywhere near state secrets.

Sitting on the committee makes members of Congress even more of a target. This changed the habits of Rep. Rick Crawford.

After joining the panel, the Arkansas Republican says he has severely limited the number of meetings he takes with representatives from foreign countries, keeps a closer eye on who comes into contact with aides, and regularly has Capitol Police sweep his office for bugs.

And with good reason: Earlier this year, National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe warned Congress that as many as 50 members have likely been targeted by foreign influence.

Crawford’s reaction to the Swalwell news? “Quite frankly, I am not even remotely comfortable with him in the room,” he told RCP, given the sensitive nature of the material the committee oversees.

Crawford doesn’t make much of his colleague’s insistence that he is working with the authorities: “It’s a redirect. Nobody’s trying to suggest that he’s not cooperating. But being cooperative doesn’t change the fact that you’re compromised.”

What’s more, he added, Swalwell could still be a liability given that “we don’t know the extent to which their relationship might have put him in a position to be blackmailed.”

Another colleague who doesn’t make much of Swalwell’s cooperation is Rep. Elise Stefanik. The New York Republican told RCP that “Swalwell should step down from the House Intelligence Committee and appear before the House Ethics Committee.”

So far that seems unlikely, but Stefanik notes that Pelosi appointed Swalwell and Pelosi can boot Swalwell.

RELATED: Rand Paul: Eric Swalwell Should Resign From Intelligence Committee After ‘Sleeping With A Chinese Spy’

She wants to know why the Democratic speaker even entrusted him with the position given that “this is not a recent infiltration — this goes back to when he was initially running for office when this Communist Chinese spy infiltrated his campaign.”

Crawford and Stefanik and the rest of House GOP caucus are likely to be disappointed. Asked about the Axios story last week, Pelosi responded, “I don’t have any concerns about Mr. Swalwell.”

At the same time, many other Republicans will be delighted.

After listening to Swalwell lambast Trump for his alleged collusion with Russia only a few years after coming in direct contact with a Chinese agent, they are ready to turn the tables.

If he stays on the Intelligence Committee, the GOP stands ready to make him a poster boy. “The situation with Swalwell, just like the situation with Hunter Biden, ties together the biggest weakness Democrats have: That they’re soft on China,” a former White House official said. “This is going to be an ongoing issue for Democrats.”

Syndicated with permission from RealClearWire.

The post Intelligence Panel Republicans: Swalwell ‘Compromised’ by Fang Ties appeared first on The Political Insider.