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Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

Category: Dogs

Social media wrap: And the winner of the cutest pet on Capitol Hill is ...


... Cali the Dachshund, owned by Californian Republican Rep. Ken Calvert.

Showing that even our political representatives are not above sending each other cutesy pics of adorable animals, Calvert on Tuesday tweeted and Facebooked the results of the annual competition sponsored by the Animal Health Institute: Dog2

I’m pleased to announce that our office dog Cali beat out 131 other dogs to be crowned Cutest Dog on the Hill! Congratulations Cali! #pet


Go here to see the cutest dog on Capitol Hill #pets

Hawaiian Democrat Mazie Hirono, whose cat Hemic, placed second also tweeted:

D.C.- @AnimalsHealthy My cat Hemic is a runner up in the 2010 Cutest Pets on the Hill contest  ...

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So, if Obama was like a dog, what kind would he be?

Air Force personnel stand at attention as First Dog Bo Obama Debarks Air Force One 8-15-10

The peripatetic President Obama, who's off again today to Ohio of all places to talk more personally about spending even more billions to help the economy, may have made an unintentionally revealing personal comment during his last speech on the subject. (Listen for him to cite the same grandparents he brought up in last year's healthcare townhalls.)

On Labor Day in Milwaukee, having doffed his coat and tie just like a real working guy, the Democrat tried to launch the fall election campaign by listing his many accomplishments and his fights for real Americans. (See full Milwaukee text here.)

And as is the Democratic party line between now and Judgment Day Nov. 2, the chief executive who promised before the last election to take us all beyond the old-style partisan politics, warned....

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Congressional candidate says illegal immigrants should have microchips embedded, likens group to dogs


Oops! This one's gonna be a favorite of MSNBC for a while...

Iowa congressional candidate Pat Betroche kinda stepped in it while discussing immigration issues earlier this week. Tougher border security can certainly play well at a Republican forum, but when you compare illegal immigrants to dogs and suggest putting microchips in them, you may not come across all that well.

Update: Betroche told the Ticket that he does not support embedding microchips in humans and, due to time constraints, was unable to explain that he was merely offering a "critical social commentary on how inane and radical the discussion has become regarding the immigration issue." His full statement is at the bottom of the post. 

While speaking at the GOP gathering on Monday, Betroche, a doctor, said his prescription for fixing the illegal immigrant problem in the U.S. is simple:  “I think we should catch ’em, we should document ’em, make sure we know where they are and where they are going. I actually support microchipping them. I can microchip my dog so I can find it. Why can’t I microchip an illegal?"

Give it to Betroche, however. His astute political radar was going off even while saying it. “That’s not a popular thing to say, but it’s a lot cheaper than building a fence they can tunnel under,” he said.

Dadgummit! Turns out he was right. His comments are unpopular -- and viral. And just like the cartoonist who backed away from her Everybody Draw Muhammad Day idea once it became controversial, he's doing the same thing.

Turns out he didn't mean to say he "actually supports microchipping them."  In fact, what he meant to say, apparently, was actually just the opposite, and he doesn't know how that dog comparison happened.

"I don't support microchipping anybody, and it also didn't occur to me I was comparing dogs to illegal immigrants," he said in an interview Tuesday.

So why'd he say it?  He was trying to "illustrate a social commentary on how radical" the issue has become.

And good news for amnesty supporters: He's softened up a bit. In the same interview, he acknowledged that "shooting them at the border is radical" too.

Full statement by Betroche:  First, I want to say that I was quoted accurately in The Gazette Online.  However, due to time and not withing to be rude, I was not able to complete my statement, which would have made it clear it was a critical social commentary on how inane and radical the discussion has become regarding the immigration issue.  Ideas ranging from fences to shooting everyone as they cross the border have been proposed.  The Soviets, Chinese, and Nazis all built walls to try to control the flow of the population.  They all failed.  Right now, the Mexicans simply dig underneath our walls and fences.  In fact, one rancher in Arizona put a gate into the fence with signs pointing the way so he wouldn't have to repair it so often.

 In India and Africa, they brand and mark the undesirables.  That approach does not work either.  Amnesty has already been tried by Pres. Reagan, and that has failed.

In India, they have a caste of people called the Untouchables.  We are creating the same kind of caste here with illegal immigrants.  At what point do we stop with the political ideologies, and start discussing common sense solutions?  How many more boxcars full of dead immigrants do we need before we start addressing, in realistic terms, this tsunami of human slavery?  How many more torn and broken families do we need before we agree to address, in practical terms, the magnitude of human misery created by illegal immigration?

I do not support micro-chipping humans.  And I did not mean to compare illegal immigrants to dogs.  I am listening to people's ideas on this issue.  I have a internet radio show every Friday from 2-4pm, “The Reasonable Republican”, on, where we discuss timely issues.

-- Jimmy Orr

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Photo: A microchip. Credit: Reuters

First Dog Bo's first White House Christmas

Ginger Bread First Dog Bo
When he first introduced First Dog Bo to the White House press corps, President Obama made mention of Harry Truman's oft-quoted line that if you want a friend in Washington, "get a dog."

So as critics assail Obama on numerous issues including Afghanistan and healthcare, the four-footed animal stirring in the White House is inspiring a lot of love this holiday season. Or at least he's getting a lot of attention.

White House Pastry Chef Bill Yosses, co-author of "Desserts for Dummies," worked the first puppy into his design for a gingerbread replica of the White House, which is on display at all the holiday parties this year. Bo's curly coat was made with dollops of chocolate.

And White House photographer Samantha Appleton took a photo of the Portuguese water dog in front of a Christmas Tree in the diplomatic room. Wearing a red bow, Bo sits expectantly as if to say, "I'm ready for the holidays. Where's everybody else?"

First Dog Bo

Here's another view of the confection dog and his house.

First Dog Bo as a decoration
Finally, the gingerbread White House and its creator.

Bo in front of White House Christmas decoration

 -- Johanna Neuman

Photo credits: 1. Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty Images; 2. Samantha Appleton / White House; 3. and 4. Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty Images

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MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann are 2 'sick puppies,' Bush I says


According to former President George H.W. Bush, civility in American public discourse has worsened in recent years.

"I don't like it," the 85-year-old ex-president said shortly before civilly hosting current president Barack Obama in Texas to celebrate volunteerism. "The cables (TV) have a lot to do with it." The full text of Obama's gracious remarks at Texas A&M are now available here.

Bush said the current president is entitled to "civil treatment and intellectual honesty when it comes to critics."

But Bush told CBS Radio News the volume of presidential criticism is higher now than during his 1989-1993 term in office. "It's not just the right," Bush added. "There are plenty of people on the left."

Then he singled out two little-known and predictable talkers on MSNBC, Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann, calling them both "sick puppies." That could help their ratings.

"When our son was president," Bush stated, "they just hammered him mercilessly and I think obscenely a lot of the time. And now it's moved to a new president."

Bush said presidents have come in for tough criticism throughout U.S. history. But, he added calmly, "People ought to be civil. I worry about yelling at people and this yelling mentality that seems to accompany presidents."

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Associated Press

Yes, Bo Obama is really cute. But can he do this?

Bo Obama and one of his White House servants

Yesterday we had a much-read item and photos about Barack Obama's First Dog, Bo.

The eager young Democrat bounded off Marine One at the White House as if he was glad to have the family's expensive Martha's Vineyard vacation over and return to the familiar if ordinary digs and government servants of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Bo no doubt has a ghostwritten book in the works, like so many first pets before him. And he's obviously captured the affection of the Obama family and many others around the country simply by looking, well, curly.

But one loyal Ticket reader, apparently from Europe, wasn't so impressed.

She sent us this unbelievable video of ordinary German mutts doing some incredible things without government assistance. And they involve a whole lot more than standing around on a new leash and federal grass looking fine.

You'll note that none of these dogs are blue. And the little one seems to have a distinct anti-regulatory libertarian attitude.

Watch the whole thing. It's even more amazing than an MSNBC evening talk show. (And no Progressive insurance commercials!)

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Reuters

Biden's Syracuse grad speech: 'Not the usual malarkey,' the H-word, Obama's dumb dog

Democrat Vice president Joe Biden at Syracuse Univerisyt commencement 5-10-09

Several pieces of news about Vice President Joe Biden to kick off the new week.

The man who was a senator years before Barack Obama was a teenager was up or over, depending on where you are, in Syracuse this weekend.

A week before his pro-choice White House boss gives his controversial graduation speech out or over, depending on where you are, at Roman Catholic Notre Dame University, Biden returned to speak where he attended law school more than four decades ago.

Biden was in a reminiscent mood, talking about watching Floyd Little play football there and getting his own degree and the Vietnam war and assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy and being fortunate enough to live at a time when you can make a difference in history. Biden recalls how he and the Foreign Relations Committee told President Ford to end the Vietnam war and a few weeks later he did.

The VP also makes an unusual apparent bipartisan criticism of the last two administrations -- fellow Democrat Bill Clinton and Republican George W. Bush -- by saying the windows of opportunity have been slammed shut during the last 15 years.

We have the full text of his remarks below, along with video highlights. (As you can see, he's wearing one of those academic robes and everything.)

Perhaps the real Biden news of the day, however, comes this morning from Jimmy Orr over at the Vote blog. He tells us that after his commencement address, Biden stopped by the old neighborhood where he lived and visited with about 100 schoolchildren, who must have been thrilled to be called in on a Sunday for a political photo op.

One of them asked if the VP had ever pet a dog. And Biden took the occasion to praise his new dog Champ, and to insult Obama's new dog, Bo, as being far less intelligent than Champ. Biden quickly added that Bo was "a beautiful dog too." But the damage had been done. Add that one to the gaffe book.

Also, for those keeping track, we have Biden's busy schedule for today. So you can....

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Is the White House haunted? Michelle Obama reports strange things

The White House at night's end where Michelle Obama hearing strange sounds in the darkness
There have long been many stories about the White House being haunted.

Good grief, it's sure seen enough history over the years.

Now, the newest occupant of the presidential residence, First Lady Michelle Obama, appears to confirm the haunting mystery. She likely terrified a group of children visiting that very same White House today. They were there on take your own child or someone else's cute kid to work day.

But they surely didn't count on Mystery Hour.

The president's wife told the youngsters a strange story. It seems that in the last 10 days or so she and her husband, President Barack Obama, have been awakened from a sound sleep in the middle of the night. It happened just last night.

She said they heard strange sounds in the hall. And that the two of them had gone to investigate.

Also, she said, some people in her family had reported the unusual sensation at times of someone or something gnawing or chewing on their feet, as if trying to eat them from the bottom up.

Really creepy stuff. Bet John McCain is sure glad he doesn't have to go through any of that.

We have all of the first lady's remarks on the jump below, including an generous, extended Q&A by the first lady with the children, including some revealing details of her new life and the answer to the sounds mystery.

Remarks by First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House (Warning: Turn on all the lights for this one)


MRS. OBAMA:  Well, hello.  Wow, look at you, guys.  What's going on?  Did they tell you not to talk?  (Laughter.) You can talk, you really can.  Welcome to the White House. Thank you, Katie, for that introduction.  First let me just get off script for a second.  What have you guys done so far?

Q    We've met the people who give the letters --

MRS. OBAMA: Oh, yes, that's good, the correspondence people.  What else?

Q   We also have questions --

MRS. OBAMA:  Ooh, questions for me.  Good, good.  (Laughter.)  What else?  What else?  Well, you're going to get to see this whole place.  What -- what did you have to say, sweetie?

Q    (Inaudible.)

MRS. OBAMA:  Oh, yes?  Somebody who worked for the Vice President, great.  Well, so far, so good.  But most importantly, you don't have to go to school today, right?  Yeah!  (Applause.)

But hopefully you'll learn something today. So before we get into questions, I just wanted to say good morning and welcome to the White House. We're really pleased to have you guys here for this day, Take Your Child to Work Day.  Has anybody participated in this before? Cool. This is a good day. 

Well, this year's theme is "Celebrating Service: Country, Community, and Family."  And we invited you all here so you could learn more about what your moms and your dads do when they come to work every day. And when someone works at the White House -- and I think somebody told you this earlier....

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Forget Obama's dog, Rush Limbaugh likes cats

Rush Limbaugh's Cat Punkin

This one should really annoy liberal readers. Or even progressives.

Just when the not really bipartisan world of Washington and beyond was getting all comfortable hating the new leader of the Republican Party, Rush Limbaugh, word leaks out that the planet's most successful and quite possibly most reviled radio talk-show broadcaster -- oh, look, he's a conservative! -- loves animals.

Limbaugh's got upward of 20 million listeners a week. But many of Rush's non-listeners would like to think of him in his off-hours organizing professional feline fights in secret rings around Miami with screaming crowds of cigar-chewing rednecks betting wads of money on the outcomes.

But it turns out, lovable Rush is a big animal-rights guy. He's got a much-adored cat named Punkin (see photo above). No, really.

In fact, the big guy puts his mouth where his heart is. Limbaugh may not mind if President Obama's programs fail, but it seems the radio host is all in favor of animal-care programs. El Rushbo signed on for a whole series of public-service ads for the Humane Society of the United States, including one for its campaign against dog fighting. So probably Michael Vick is not a big Dittohead.

Anyway, our blogging buddy Lindsay Barnett, an admitted dog lover, has the whole cuddly Rush story over here, including copies of the PSAs to watch. Recommended.

OK, now you can get back to hating him. But leave Punkin out of it.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Credit: Associated Press (Punkin Limbaugh).

Obama's donations, Dobson's misquote, Biden's schedule, Bush's life and the Blame Game

While you were sleeping, we were reading and writing:

How do you reconcile this?

As you read here, President Obama and wife Michelle released their 2008 joint income tax return, like all recent presidents. They reported $2.7 million in income. Not bad for someone who spent most of the year not working at his elected job in Washington.Barack and Michelle Obama's joint federal Tax Return for 2008

The total means Obama will pay a higher tax rate this year under his own tax plans to get the very rich more than they're already gotten.

The taxes also show that last year the couple generously donated $172,000 to 37 charities, not counting not one dime to their former Trinity United Church in Chicago. That's about 6.5% of the liberal couple's adjusted gross income.

Don "The Pirate" Surber points out this morning that Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush, donated almost the same amount of money ($166,000) to charity the previous year.

But since Bush wasn't making millions off Obama's book sales, that similar sum was 23% of the Texan's income, nearly four times larger proportionately than the popular Obama's.

But since No. 43 currently resides on contemporary history's reviled list with one of the lowest exit approval ratings ever, we'll all have to overlook that inconvenient truth.


All wet

The Washington Post took an interesting look the other day at the new life of retirement for Bush, who's starting his book, giving high-paid speeches and planning his presidential library at Southern Methodist University. The big news from Preston Hollow: Bush has improved the sprinkler system at his home on Dana Place in north Dallas.


What are a few words here or there?

Speaking of retirement: In case you read somewhere else recently that Dr. James Dobson, the recently retired conservative evangelical founder of Focus on the Family, had conceded defeat on ...

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
President Obama
Republican Politics
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