WASHINGTON — Ten months after the Sept. 11 attacks, the nation’s surveillance court delivered a ruling that intelligence officials consider a milestone in the secret history of American spying and privacy law.
One thing I’ve got to give President Barack Obama — when it comes to trolling his ideological opponents, the president is a master of the game.
Last week, Obama was agreeing to a major expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit because he suspected conservative support for that measure as a means of boosting low-income individuals’ wages was insincere. Quality trolling, there.
This week, it was appearing on “Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianikis” in order to promote the Obamacare exchanges ahead of the March 31 signup deadline. So, the trolling is getting pretty high-concept.
The White House has made claims that appearing on “Between Two Ferns” turned Funny Or Die into a powerhouse of Healthcare.gov referrals. But beyond that, wow. Obama made every just about every conservative with a Twitter account whine and cry Tuesday. From a policy standpoint, I’d still fret about getting the right mix of “young and healthies” into the Obamacare mix. But from a political standpoint, any day you are having demonstrably more fun than your political opponents is an okay consolation prize.
Bill O’Reilly, naturally, just adds a cherry to the sundae.
Oh, wouldn’t he?
Okay, no, he wouldn’t have. When you think about it, O’Reilly really has got a pretty slam-dunk case, because chances are, Lincoln would have insisted his health care plan be called “Lincolncare.” Also, all the teevee cameras and laptops and cars and modern plumbing and dentistry would have terrified him completely. “Who are you Devil people?” he would have said.
But seriously, if Abe Lincoln actually had the opportunity to weigh in here, he’d probably just clout O’Reilly on the head for all the factual errors in “Killing Lincoln.”
Of course, it’s true that not all presidents have promoted themselves or their ideas through comedy. But a lot of them have, as have those who have aspired to high office. Richard Nixon, famously, did “Laugh-In.” Bill Clinton sat in with Arsenio Hall’s band. Jay Leno and “Saturday Night Live” have been the stomping grounds of all manner of political figures. Sarah Palin’s bits on “SNL,” in fact, were great! President George H.W. Bush famously had his “SNL” double, Dana Carvey, over to the White House — a fine example of the sort of thick skin and good humor that today’s Republican scolds sorely lack. (The elder Bush was a real live war hero, if you recall, so perhaps he was simply made of sterner stuff.)
What O’Reilly seems to be all in a lather about is about “the dignity of the office.” New York Magazine’s Jesse David Fox talked to “Between Two Ferns” producer/director Scott Aukerman about that, and here’s what Aukerman had to say:
FOX: Now that the video is out there, have you read any comments from conservatives saying it demeans the presidency?
AUKERMAN: I’ve seen some tweets about that kind of stuff. Like someone wrote like, “How does the president have time to do this?” And it’s like, how does anyone have time to do anything? The great part about it is, this president knows how to reach young people in a way that no other president has, and it’s very important that he reach young people with this issue. This is so much better and will attract so much more attention than him going on a Sunday morning show and talking about this issue when most people I know of this generation aren’t even up that early on a Sunday morning.
Two important points there, the first being that metrics win. All that matters, in the end, is whether Obama’s effort was successful in getting younger Americans to — in the parlance of the web campaign — “#getcovered.” If it did, it’s a success. If not, it’s a failure.
More importantly, that’s a pretty great assessment of the Sunday shows from Aukerman. That is precisely what normal human Americans outside the Beltway bubble think about those shows, and it’s nice to have someone with real-world perspective just lay it bare like that.
Moreover, I watched the Sunday morning political shows for six years, and if you want to talk about a venue that is just pure and unadulterated indignity, those shows are pig troughs compared with “Between Two Ferns.”
[Would you like to follow me on Twitter? Because why not?]
HONOLULU (AP) — A civilian defense contractor accused of giving military secrets to a Chinese girlfriend half his age will be entering a guilty plea, his attorney said Tuesday.
Benjamin Bishop was expected to plead guilty in federal court on Thursday to one count of transmitting national defense information to a person not entitled to receive it and one count of unlawfully retaining national defense documents and plans. Bishop, 60, was arrested last March at the headquarters for the U.S. Pacific Command, where he worked.
A document for the plea agreement filed Tuesday said Bishop emailed his girlfriend classified information on joint training and planning sessions between the U.S. and South Korea.
It said Bishop had classified documents at his Hawaii home, including one titled “U.S. Department of Defense China Strategy,” another on U.S. force posture in Asia and the Pacific and a U.S. Pacific Command joint intelligence operations center special report.
An FBI affidavit last year alleged the then-59-year-old gave his 27-year-old girlfriend classified information about war plans, nuclear weapons, missile defenses and other topics.
Bervar has said the two were in love and that the case was about love, not espionage.
Bishop has been in federal detention in Honolulu for the majority of time since his March 2013 arrest.
U.S. District Court Judge Leslie Kobayashi allowed him to move to a halfway house last June. But a magistrate judge ordered him back to jail in December after he violated the terms of his release by emailing his girlfriend and writing her a letter.
The FBI alleged Bishop and the woman, now 28, started an intimate, romantic relationship in June 2011. The prosecution said she was a graduate student and she and Bishop were having an extramarital affair.
Utah state records show Bishop was married until 2012.
The FBI’s affidavit alleged the woman may have attended an international defense conference in Hawaii, where she initially met Bishop, specifically to target people like Bishop who have access to classified information.
Authorities haven’t released her identity or whereabouts. They also haven’t said publicly whether they believe she was working for the Chinese government.
She was living in the United States as a student on a J-1 visa, according to the FBI.
Defendants must normally be indicted within a month of their arrest, but Bishop’s defense team waived the deadline in exchange for an opportunity to view the prosecution’s evidence, much of which is classified.
Bishop, who is a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, worked in the field of cyber defense at Pacific Command from May 2011 until his arrest. Prior to that, he helped develop Pacific Command strategy and policy.
Bishop was familiar with the Pacific Command’s highest priority capability gaps, the command’s chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Anthony Crutchfield, said in a declaration filed in support of the prosecution’s motion to have him detained without bail.
From 2010 to 2012, Bishop had access to “top secret” information on efforts to defend against a ballistic missile attack from North Korea, Crutchfield said.
Josh Kraushaar, Natl Jrnl
Dean Obeidallah, Daily Beast
DENVER (AP) — The Republican National Committee is pouring new resources into Colorado.
Party officials say they will hire 14 more staffers and open a dozen field offices in the Centennial State. The investment comes after Republicans snagged a top-tier recruit to challenge Sen. Mark Udall and another prominent Republican stepped into the race against Gov. John Hickenlooper.
Colorado and national politics were shaken up by Rep. Cory Gardner’s surprise entrance into the Republican primary against Udall last month. Former Rep. Bob Beauprez announced his entry into the party’s gubernatorial primary last week.
Republicans have not won a top-of-the-ticket race in Colorado in a decade. The state has become an example of how the party has alienated swing voters, young people and Hispanics. The party hopes to change that in 2014.
Just one serious academic book has been published this year to mark the 50th anniversary of one of America’s most innovative and productive efforts: Lyndon Johnson’s work to eradicate poverty.
Legacies of the War on Poverty, edited by Martha J. Bailey…
The fight over the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline has generated a lot of debate. But another fight brewing out west in California is equally symbolic of the current debate raging about our energy future.
Just as the decision on Keystone XL is firmly …
The Truth-o-Meter says: False | In ‘Between Two Ferns’ interview, Barack Obama says ‘most young Americans’ are not covered by health insurance
The appearance by President Barack Obama on comedian Zach Galifianakis’ faux-interview show Between Two Ferns set social media ablaze. Galifianakis’ deadpan spoof of a cable-access TV interview show had already become a magnet for Web surfers, and especially for younger Americans — the demographic that Obama has been trying to convince to purchase insurance at the healthcare.gov website. Just hours after the presidential “interview” went live on FunnyorDie.com, the humor site became “the #1 source of referrals to HealthCare.gov ,” according to a triumphal tweet by White House health care spokeswoman Tara McGuinness on March 11, …
Les Francis, RealClearPolitics
I doubt that anyone has ever mentioned Ralph Nader and Bill Hauck in the same conversation, let alone the same paragraph. But I will.Ralph Nader is quoted as having once said, Â“There can be no daily democracy without daily citizenship.Â” I can say, without question or hesitation, that no one I have ever known epitomized that principle better or more consistently than Bill Hauck, the former head of the California Business Roundtable.Bill, my friend of many decades, died Friday night from an aggressive form of brain cancer. While he passed from this earth peacefully and with dignity, he did…