Moderate Moment | Moderate Moms

Posts Tagged ‘White House’

Gov. Teddy Bear and His First Beach Buddy / NYT

No Partisan Fire at the Shore: An Obama-Christie Reunion

 

Obama and Christie: Moderate Friendship: On the Jersey Shore, Gov. Chris Christie’s friendly welcome toward President Obama suggested he cared little about the Republican criticism that haunted a similar visit last fall.

By  and  POINT PLEASANT BEACH, N.J. — Politics makes strange beachfellows. President Obama and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey affirmed this notion, and enjoyed its benefits, on Tuesday, in a drizzly reunion on the Jersey Shore, seven months after Hurricane Sandy punished the famous coastline and united them in an unlikely political partnership.

Re-elected yet freshly embattled, the president was making his first visit here since the storm scrambled the final days of the 2012 presidential campaign. As he did in October, the now-surgically thinner governor received Mr. Obama with unrestrained gratitude, showing no hint of the partisan pit-bull tendencies that would define the captured-on-YouTube persona of his first term.

At one point, the pair took an unannounced stroll down the Point Pleasant Boardwalk before stopping at an arcade so Mr. Obama could try to win a teddy bear by throwing a football through a tire, in a game called “Touchdown Fever.” After a few misses, Mr. Obama seemed headed for another public athletic calamity, adding to a litany that includes a string of botched basketball free throws on the White House court last month, a horrifically ugly first pitch at a Washington Nationals game in 2010 and a display of bowling incompetence in Pennsylvania during the 2008 Democratic primaries.

But before the football tosses on Tuesday spiraled too far out of control for the president, Governor Teddy Bear himself stepped in and promptly split the rubber on his first try, earning a high-five from the First Beach Buddy.

“One and done,” Mr. Christie boasted, while the guy behind the counter presented Mr. Obama with a fuzzy “Chicago” bear, which he hoisted for the cameras.

It was good times, good optics and a keepsake for both men’s political photo albums: for Mr. Obama, a snapshot from a rare bipartisan partnership that has actually worked, and for Mr. Christie, proof that he stands apart from the kind of ideological rigidity that could alienate large swaths of the Democratic-leaning electorate of New Jersey, where he is seeking a second term.

In some ways, the Obama-Christie marriage has been one of both convenience and necessity since the pair was joined last year after the ravages of Hurricane Sandy. It has also represented an aspirational model of the bipartisan cooperation Mr. Obama has said he has longed for since he took office, yet has eluded him with Republicans on Capitol Hill. Likewise, the House speaker, John A. Boehner, and the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, have not been as effusive in their praise of the president as the New Jersey governor was in calling Mr. Obama’s response to the hurricane “wonderful,” “excellent” and “outstanding.”

For his part, Mr. Christie has fashioned a potent political brand as a no-nonsense leader, whose clarity in a crisis can transcend the tired niceties and rivalries of the partisan game. The president has served as a ready foil, and, more to the point, a provider of the kinds of tangible goods (money, resources and a friend in the bully pulpit) that can be political gold after a disaster, particularly in the blue-leaning state where he is up for re-election.

On a basic level, the visit provided a hopeful, even enjoyable venue for both men to show off their boardwalk bona fides. Despite a persistent rain, the scene contrasted with the grim spectacle Mr. Obama and Mr. Christie surveyed last October as they toured the hurricane’s wreckage.

They worked a rope line along the Boardwalk, which had been partially damaged by the storm. They talked to a local sand sculptor who is trying to build the world’s largest sand castle, an effort to draw attention, and tourists, back to the shore. Later, at an event on the Asbury Park Boardwalk, Mr. Obama and Mr. Christie urged Americans to visit the restored beaches even as they acknowledged that, for many homeowners, the devastation lingers.

“We all understand there is still an awful lot of work to be done,” Mr. Obama said.

<nyt_text>

The event seemed every bit the walk on the beach that it actually was for both men: Grin, grip, hug, mention Bruce Springsteen and move on. “I played a little Frog Bog,” Mr. Obama said at the Asbury Park Convention Hall. “And Governor Christie’s kids taught me the right technique for hitting the hammer to get those frogs in the buckets the way I was supposed to.” He also said, of course, that he met with people who are trying to rebuild after Hurricane Sandy.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press

Mr. Obama played the “Touch Down Fever” game on the boardwalk.

 
Multimedia

Readers’ Comments

Politically speaking, Mr. Christie needed to walk a careful line. If he seeks the Republican nomination for president in 2016 and appears to be too friendly with the president, his Republican rivals could use it against him. But that chumminess could come in handy when it comes to winning over swing voters, if he becomes the party’s nominee.

Mr. Christie’s likely Democratic opponent, Barbara Buono, a New Jersey state senator, issued a statement on Tuesday criticizing the Republican governor for saying last week that he doubted that Hurricane Sandy was the result of climate change.

“The governor’s outrageous response defies overwhelming scientific evidence that climate change is causing more extreme weather,” said David Turner, a spokesman for Ms. Buono. “New Jersey needs a governor who will take action to combat climate change, not more of Christie’s radical right-wing views.”

Mr. Christie has also been criticized in his state for appearing with his family in a television commercial that was paid for with storm recovery money. The commercial is intended to promote the shore, but Democrats have argued that it is little more than a thinly-veiled campaign ad for the governor, who is up for re-election in November.

For the moment, the trick for both men was to appear as if they do not care about the politics.

Mr. Christie has spent the last week speaking about the recovery along the coast. He appeared on the “Today” show last week to officially reopen part of the Boardwalk by cutting a five-mile-long blue ribbon with oversize scissors, on live television. “Anybody who lives in New Jersey, the Jersey Shore is in your heart,” the governor said on the program. “And so to see this back open means everything to our state.”

 

 

Zero Tolerance after Boston Marathon

Teenagers, social media, and terrorism: a threat level hard to assess

Authorities are leaning more toward zero tolerance of teenagers who fling around online threats about acts of violence or terrorism. As a result, what might have once merited a slap on the wrist may today result in criminal charges.

Christian Science MonitorBy Mark Guarino | Christian Science Monitor – 10 hrs ago

  • The case of teenager Cameron Dambrosio might serve as an object lesson to young people everywhere about minding what you say online unless you are prepared to be arrested for terrorism.

The Methuen, Mass., high school student was arrested last week after posting online videos that show him rapping an original song that police say contained “disturbing verbiage” and reportedly mentioned the White House and the Boston Marathon bombing. He is charged with communicating terrorist threats, a state felony, and faces a potential 20 years in prison. Bail is set at $1 million.

Whether the arrest proves to be a victory in America‘s fight against domestic terrorism or whether Cameron made an unfortunate artistic choice in the aftermath of the Boston bombing will become clear as the wheels of justice advance. What is apparent now, however, is that law enforcement agencies are tightening their focus on the social media behavior of US teenagers – not just because young people often fit the profile of those who are vulnerable to radicalization, but also because the public appears to be more accepting of monitoring and surveillance aimed at preventing attacks, even at the risk of government overreach.

RECOMMENDED: Quiz: How much do you know about terrorism?

“When I was young, calling a bomb threat to your high school because you didn’t want to go to school that day was treated with a slap on the wrist. Try that nowadays and you’re going to prison, no question about it. They are taking it more seriously now,” says Rob D’Ovidio, a criminal justice professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia who specializes in high-tech crime.

Teenagers are generally blissfully unaware that law enforcement agencies are creating cyber units to track and investigate developing ways that criminals, or would-be criminals, research, socialize, and plot nefarious actions, from child molestation to domestic terrorism. The Boston Marathon bombing suspects, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, fit this profile: Each maintained a YouTubepage and Twitter feed that promoted the teachings of a radical Muslim cleric. alongside innocuous postings about music and sports. For law enforcement officials, filtering what does and does not constitute a threat is a delicate balancing act that, since the April 15 bombing, may be tilting to the side of additional caution over individuals’ free speech.

“The danger of this in light of the tragedy in Boston is that law enforcement is being so risk-averse they are in danger of crossing that line and going after what courts would ultimately deem as free speech,” Mr. D’Ovidio says.

Want your top political issues explained? Get customized DC Decoder updates.

Three people were killed and at least 260 injured in the two bomb blasts near the Boston Marathon finish line on April 15. Since then, questions have been raised about how authorities missed signals, especially after alerts from Russian intelligence, that one of the bombing suspects had become radicalized. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, killed after a gunfight with police, had been under surveillance byRussia for six months when he traveled there in 2011 and 2012, besides his activity on social media.

“The bottom line is that the public wants to know, after the fact, why [an attack] was not stopped.… Most Americans are prepared to maintain a sophisticated watch on this without [government] overreach, but most Americans also feel if these things can be stopped before they begin, they want to see that happen,” says Michael Greenberger, a law professor at the University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security.

Some authorities say that zooming in on unusual behavior online fits squarely with how police have conducted random searches on the street.

“The greatest mystery in life is the human mind. We don’t know what other people do until it becomes known. Our job is to figure it out, but we need indicators to know something’s not right,” says Sgt. Ed Mullins of the New York Police Department, who is also president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, the city’s second-largest police union.

Using a zero tolerance approach to track domestic terrorists online is the only reasonable way to analyze online threats these days, especially after the Boston Marathon bombing and news that the suspects had subsequently planned to target Times Square in Manhattan, Mullins says. The way law enforcement agencies approach online activity that appears sinister is this: “If you’re not a terrorist, if you’re not a threat, prove it,” he says.

“This is the price you pay to live in free society right now. It’s just the way it is,” Mullins adds.

That method can result in arrests of teenagers whose online activity may be more aptly characterized as stupid pranks.

In February, Jessica Winslow and Ti’jeanae Harris, two high school girls in Rapids Parish, La., were arrested and charged with 10 counts of terrorism each after they allegedly e-mailed threats to students and faculty “to see if they could get away with it,” detectives told a local television news station. “We take every threat in our schools as a credible threat, and I am happy to say we have made these arrests,” Sheriff William Earl Hilton told reporters.

In January, Alex David Rosario, a high school student in Armada Village, Mich., was charged with domestic terrorism after he allegedly threatened to shoot fellow employees at the Subway shop where he worked. He told police it was a joke. “We feel threatening to kill somebody is not a joke. It doesn’t appear the prosecutor takes it as a joke either and the judge certainly doesn’t,” said Armada Police Chief Howard Smith.

Then there is the case of Abdella Ahmad Tounisi, a Chicago-area teenager arrested last year after trying to join, over the Internet, a Syrian militant group linked to Al Qaeda. Last week, a federal judge allowed Mr. Tounisi home confinement while awaiting trial.

Militant and hate groups are known to use the Internet to lure teenagers “to gain their sympathy” through video games, music, or rhetoric that plays to themes of alienation, D’Ovidio says. Connecting with terrorists would have been impossible in the past, but today, as is alleged in the Tounisi case, anyone with a grudge or curiosity, or both, and an Internet connection can open that dialogue. Foolishly, the teens perceive that they are operating anonymously and within a safe environment, D’Ovidio says.

“We know these groups are catering and looking for these individuals,” he says. “They create the right environment for experimentation for kids who may have a proclivity of being disgruntled toward the US government.”

Easy access to online media, plus the urge to rebel, is a combustible mix that should make parents vigilant, cautions Stephen Balkam, chief executive officer of the Family Online Safety Institute, a nonprofit advocacy group in Washington that wants teenagers to be better informed about the outcomes of what they post, tweet, or upload online.

“Every generation of teenagers has figured out a way of rebelling against their parents, or giving it back to ‘the man.’ What I think is unprecedented is the very ‘man’ and the system they want to rebel against can track them and find their digital footprints online,” Mr. Balkam says. “In a sense, it’s good that we can catch kids who are getting radicalized sooner than later, but by the same token, it’s a challenge for kids to grow and develop, which is their job as a teenager, if they are being scrutinized too much.”

Social issues create confusion for the Republicans

Social issues create confusion for the Republicans

The Republican Party is in the midst of change. It is seeking to define itself which could be one reason for the wild swings in these primaries. It didn’t help Mitt Romney to bank right and try to woo social conservatives in the 3 state primaries yesterday. But was it a set-up by the White House during an election year? Did the Democrats put the issue of mandated coverage of contraception out there because they were waiting to see if Romney would use it to try to court social conservatives? According to today’s Washington Post, the Obama campaign might have set Romney up so they could paint him as a flip-flopper since Massachusetts offered similar coverage while he was Governor. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels considered running for President but reportedly opted out after saying he hoped the party wouldn’t lose sight of pressing economic issues because it was so easily sidelined by social ones.  Hopefully, Romney wasn’t tricked into getting sidetracked or sideswiped yesterday. There was a great article in the New York Times today about how the culture wars have played a big role in the race so far. Our advice is stay moderate, Mitt! Because it will be the moderates who define Election Day. 

http://campaignstops.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/07/the-persistence-of-the-culture-war/?src=un&feedurl=http%3A%2F%2Fjson8.nytimes.com%2Fpages%2Fopinion%2Findex.jsonp

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/post/white-house-gives-romney-a-social-issues-death-hug/2012/02/08/gIQAH94PzQ_blog.html

Is Medicare the elephant in the middle of the room?

Is Medicare the elephant in the middle of the room?

There’s a word that has become the proverbial elephant in the middle of the room for Democrats.  Medicare.  The only time it is mentioned is when President Obama uses it to scare the elderly into thinking the Republicans are going to leave them high and dry by eliminating benefits without a safety net.  With reports that the current Medicare fund will only last another 13 years, the current Medicare system needs to be reformed.  The question is not “if” but “how” and “when.”   It will be interesting to see how big a role Medicare plays in tonight’s Republican Presidential debates.  I like this article from the Washington Times for a preview of how the candidates may respond when asked about Medicare reform.  

Despite a national debt just shy of $15 trillion, President Obama refuses to put forth a substantive proposal tackling the single largest source of red ink: Medicare. Democrats prefer to use this program as a political club to scare the elderly and keep hold on power. Luckily, the potential future occupants of the White House in the GOP have shown political courage. They’ve rallied behind a common set of principles that would shore up the health care program for seniors.

Most Americans understand the problem. According to a Rasmussen poll released on Tuesday, only 33 percent are confident that they will ever see the benefits they’ve been promised. The worry is well founded, as the program’s own trustees have said that it will be totally bankrupt in 13 years. To address the imminent crisis, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney announced Friday that he would introduce private-sector competition. His idea is similar to, but less audacious than, the House Republican plan drafted by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan.

Mr. Ryan would slowly move those under 55 years old into a premium-support system so that they could pick their own insurance plans. Mr. Romney would offer the same choices to future seniors, but he would also add an option of buying into the existing, government-run system. Seniors would receive a set amount (determined by means) to spend on health insurance premiums. Mr. Romney is looking to blunt the predictable Democratic Mediscare attack. He realizes that market forces would likely make the bureaucratic government option more costly, driving most to private plans to save money. Mr. Romney would also gradually raise the eligibility age to shore up the program.

Newt Gingrich had already put forth virtually the same plan of optional premium support. The former House speaker is so confident that Americans would opt for Ryan plan that he said in a debate on Saturday with Herman Cain he would be “happy to try it out next year.” The former Godfather’s Pizza CEO added that Mr. Ryan’s plan mirrors the private-sector transition from defined benefit to defined contribution plans and that “ownership of those dollars will cause people to spend it more responsibly.”

Rick Perry is less specific, offering support for some type of private option though premium-support payments or a credit. The Texas governor also backs increasing the eligibility age and means testing. The moderate in the field, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, endorsed the Ryan plan in the spring. While Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann voted for the House budget, she seemed to back off support of the Medicare reform proposals in later statements. Texas Rep. Ron Paul voted against the Ryan budget, saying it did not go far enough.

House Republicans laid the foundation by boldly proclaiming the need to fix Medicare. This paved the way for the Republican presidential candidates to publicly support the concept. This is a remarkable achievement. The winner of the November 2012 election needs to be the leader who understands this crisis must be addressed now.

Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.

© Copyright 2011 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.