President Obama will travel to sub-Saharan Africa and the price tag for the trip clocks in between $60 million to $100 million. The Washington Post's Carol Leonnig got access to classified documents outlining the trip.
The scowly surly face of government abuse has quite a past. George Will discusses the testimony of Al Salvi, should he be invited to speak to Congress. Will suggests that Salvi would not take the Fifth, but would tell the story of his run for the House in 1986 against now Senator Dick Durbin (Fiend - IL).
In the fall of 1996, at the campaign's climax, Democrats filed with the Federal Elections Commission charges alleging campaign finance violations by Salvi's campaign. These charges dominated the campaign's closing days. Salvi spoke by phone with the head of the FEC's Enforcement Division, who he remembers saying: "Promise me you will never run for office again, and we'll drop this case." He was speaking to Lois Lerner.
After losing to Durbin, Salvi spent four years and $100,000 fighting the FEC, on whose behalf FBI agents visited his elderly mother demanding to know, concerning her $2,000 contribution to her son's campaign, where she got "that kind of money." When the second of two federal courts held that the charges against Salvi were spurious, the lawyer arguing for the FEC was Lois Lerner.
More recently, she has been head of the IRS Exempt Organizations Division, which has used its powers of delay, harassment and extortion to suppress political participation. For example, it has told an Iowa right-to-life group that it would get tax exempt status if it would promise not to picket Planned Parenthood clinics.
As government gets larger, we're asked to trust more and more power to Lois Lerners.
The case against the NSA is: Lois Lerner and others of her ilk.
Government requires trust. Government by progressives, however, demands such inordinate amounts of trust that the demand itself should provoke distrust. Progressivism can be distilled into two words: "Trust us." The antecedent of the pronoun is: The wise, disinterested experts through whom the vast powers of the regulatory state's executive branch will deliver progress for our own good, as the executive branch understands this, whether or not we understand it. Lois Lerner is the scowling face of this state, which has earned Americans' distrust.
Even though I have excerpted half, read the whole thing. (Hat-tip: Insty)
My friends are fighting. The WSJ, and the default Larry Kudlow position is to defend those that defend us from a mean world. I am sympathetic -- to a point -- to that view. Yes, there is a mean ol' world out there. (You may not be interested in War, but it is interested in You -- Trotsky?). And, I understand Big Data concepts: searching for patterns in metadata or Google-sized video samples does not compromise privacy. I get that.
Yet, I have been having more fun than a camel on hump day on Facebook over this. I likely would defend President Bush's committing the same infraction. Partly because I am a partisan hack, but mostly because that is what he stood for. He was going to push the line to keep all of y'alls safe. Privacy groups and an adversarial press would push back. Broncos vs. Raiders, everybody can tell who's playing for whom.
President Obama campaigned on "the fierce moral urgency" of dismantling things like this. Senator Obama introduced legislation to preclude it. Quis custodet? Privacy groups are muted and the press is quiescent.
And, whichever party has their collective ear to the other end of my call, it is time to wind down the extraordinary response to terror. Vigilance abroad, yes. Not naming complete incompetent liars to head the NSA, sure. But let us return domestically to an aggressive reading of the Fourth Amendment.
Jim Geraghty has an important philosophical point against it:
We in the general public have no idea if the algorithms work, if they're fair, if they're putting a lot of innocent Americans under suspicion or on watch lists, etc. This is simply not the way criminal investigation or even counterintelligence has ever worked in this country under our Constitution; it's working backwards. Those we have entrusted with the duty of our protection always previously started from the wrongdoing (or a tip of wrongdoing) and work their way out from there; it has never been "collect every bit of information they can on absolutely everyone, and then sift through it until they find what they're looking for."
That makes much sense to me. Sorry, WSJ, y'all lose this one.
Co-founder of the Watumpka, Alabama Tea Party -- and face of the IRS scandal, Becky Gerritson.
I had heard people talking about this and saw a clip. But if you have not watched it coast-to-coast yet, do yourself a favor and spend 7:53 with a great American. (Can't you just imagine a roomful of NYTimes writers hearing the phrase "Watumpka, Alabama Tea Party?" Makes one weep.)
Then, according to Daniel Klaidman of The Daily Beast, Holder read the details of this operation in The Washington Post over breakfast and the reality began to "fully sink in." "Holder knew that Justice would be besieged by the twin leak probes," says Klaidman, "but, according to aides, he was also beginning to feel a creeping sense of personal remorse."
Some men find their moral bearings in the quiet of reflection; others in the crucible of suffering; still others on the front page of a newspaper -- Michael Gerson
"The recent scandals surrounding this administration raise a number of questions about who they choose to target and why," Blackburn said. "The arrogance and lack of transparency displayed by this President and his cabinet officials in events such as the raids on Gibson Guitar and the IRS targeting of conservative groups show a complete disregard for the rule of law....
"President Obama owes the American people a full explanation as to why these decisions were made, and anyone responsible for plotting these politically motivated attacks should be punished to the fullest extent of the law," she added.
(Best read in Rep. Blackburn's adorable Tennessee drawl...) I hope she and the IBD Ed Page can rekindle the controversy around this. It was always a great example of overreach; a credible foundation of political retribution raises its seriousness.
A physicians expertise makes him capable of inflicting great harm, noted Plato a couple thousand years ago, and no one is better positioned to steal than a guard. So perhaps we should not be surprised that the most conspicuous foe of liberty and the Bill of Rights turns out to be a former professor of constitutional law.
As a general rule, politicians tend to whipsaw between two poles. Conservatives try to increase economic liberty but show less regard for civil liberties. Liberals care deeply about civil liberties while trying to restrict the economic kind.
But the Obama administration is remarkable for its degree of disdain for both.
II was going to do a quote of the day for the closing sentence, which David Boaz (inline, implicit hat-tip) pulled out in his Facebook link: "When he retires from public life, perhaps he will return to teaching the Constitution. That should be much easier work -- given how little of it there will be left."
"The Man" being, curiously, a very nice guy named Rob Taylor. Mister Taylor started a guitar factory with a genius-level blend of ancient craftsmanship and modern design and production. If you find yourself in San Diego and are tired of Filipino food in National City, be sure to tour the factory in El Cajon.
I have bought me a bucketload of Taylors over the years, including another great innovation of theirs: nylon string guitars with regular, narrow, radiused necks instead of the flat, wide classical guitar necks. That got sold or traded or given away to some brother-in-law, and I found myself reconnecting with blog friend Sugarchuck's. Time to buy. Birthday's coming up! Johnny's been a very good boy this year...
BUT WAIT! Taylor Guitars not only failed to stand up for Gibson in their contretemps with the US Fish & Game SWAT Team -- they actually released a statement leaning heavily towards gub'mint. I'm not a boycottin' man, but Taylor Guitars are not cheap and it chaps me to send a lot of money to an opponent of liberty.
This little jewel from Cordoba Guitars (nah, I never heard of them either) showed up yesterday:
It's a fine piece: made of Indian Rosewood -- unusual for a top, a lighter wood would be louder, but it has a pickup and a mic built in. I got amps, she'll be plenty loud. It's less bright but very well defined. All in all, very pleasing for half of what I would have spent on the brand that shall not be named any more.
Ed Markey was the leading politician pushing to punish Gibson Guitar for what at worst was a paperwork error. Markey didnt appear to understand that this was about protecting jobs overseas, not at home. Markey was all on board with the demonization of a U.S. company for no good reason other than that the government could.
In this time of IRS overreach, there is a lesson here.
SC assures me that I have bought an "entrapment guitar:" Indian Rosewood and an Ebony fretboard. Heh wait a minute, theres somebody at the door
I open with a QOTD, from Ben Domenech (h/t Jim Geraghty):
When this period of scandal draws to a close, if the idea still survives that a more competent and ethical president would be able to effectively govern a $4 trillion bureaucracy, it will be a sign Republicans have failed. They can succeed by ignoring the tempting bait of making this about the president they despise, and focusing instead on the false philosophy of expansive government which represents the true danger to the American experiment. Doing so will require them to go against their own short-term viewpoint, so prevalent in recent years, and look instead to the long game.
Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Using these to bring down President Obama might be quite satisfying in a "vengeance is mine sayeth the RNC" kind of way. But it leaves us with: a) President Joe Biden, the scrappy kid from Scranton Pee-Ayy; and, b) a $4T bureaucracy full of tenured bureaucrats (it is a bureaucracy after all) who will seek to expand the size and scope of government whether Rand Paul or Hillary Clinton sits in the Oval Office.
It's Friday and I have not linked to Kim Strassel in what seems like weeks. Read her coast-to-coast today in spite of my lengthy excerpt:
In April 2012, an Obama campaign website named and slurred eight Romney donors. It tarred Mr. VanderSloot as a "wealthy individual" with a "less-than-reputable record." Other donors were described as having been "on the wrong side of the law."
This was the Obama version of the phone call--put out to every government investigator (and liberal activist) in the land.
Twelve days later, a man working for a political opposition-research firm called an Idaho courthouse for Mr. VanderSloot's divorce records. In June, the IRS informed Mr. VanderSloot and his wife of an audit of two years of their taxes. In July, the Department of Labor informed him of an audit of the guest workers on his Idaho cattle ranch. In September, the IRS informed him of a second audit, of one of his businesses. Mr. VanderSloot, who had never been audited before, was subject to three in the four months after Mr. Obama teed him up for such scrutiny.
The last of these audits was only concluded in recent weeks. Not one resulted in a fine or penalty. But Mr. VanderSloot has been waiting more than 20 months for a sizable refund and estimates his legal bills are $80,000. That figure doesn't account for what the president's vilification has done to his business and reputation.
The Obama call for scrutiny wasn't a mistake; it was the president's strategy--one pursued throughout 2012. The way to limit Romney money was to intimidate donors from giving. Donate, and the president would at best tie you to Big Oil or Wall Street, at worst put your name in bold, and flag you as 'less than reputable' to everyone who worked for him: the IRS, the SEC, the Justice Department. The president didn't need a telephone; he had a megaphone.
Another light-haired woman who writes for the WSJ Ed Page on Friday has a good piece as well. But I liked Professor Reynolds's take on Ms. Noonan:
Peggy's right, but I was saying the same thing -- right there in the Wall Street Journal -- way back in 2009, when she was still going on about Obamas transformational energy. So welcome to the party. Wish youd gotten here before the re-election.
Tyranny: Perhaps the most sinister aspect of the president's parade of scandals is that just days before they broke, he mocked as paranoid those concerned about government excesses.
On May 5, while giving the commencement address at Ohio State University, President Obama advised graduates to put all their trust in government and reject those shrill "voices" that say it's the source of our problems.
Ignore these limited-government types, he told the class of 2013, who warn "tyranny lurks just around the corner."
Only, Obama himself has proved our fears are well-founded. Government, particularly governance by this rogue regime, needs more checks, not fewer; more skepticism, not less. Tyranny isn't lurking around the corner. It's now upon us, manifest in the pattern of misuse and abuse of government power by this presidency[...]
Followed by a handy enumeration of abuses current as of this morning (it's early yet...)
The common denominator of most of these examples is that they are failures of diplomacy, which is precisely what this administration had promised to be better at.
Barack Obama came into office partly on the basis of criticism of George W. Bush's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. One of the claims he and his supporters made was that diplomacy and "smart power" would be more effective than military force. But having championed diplomacy over war, Obama doesn't really seem to be all that interested in diplomacy, either.
That is the big picture that the Benghazi scandal reveals. -- Robert Tracinski in The Daily Debate
Roger Pilon is less than impressed. In a WSJ Editorial (here free on Cato), Pilon dissects the President's misreading of the Constitution
Civic education in America took a hit on Sunday when President Obama, giving the commencement address at The Ohio State University, chose citizenship as his theme. The country's Founders trusted citizens with "awesome authority," he told the assembled graduates. Really?
Actually, the Founders distrusted us, at least in our collective capacity. That's why they wrote a Constitution that set clear limits on what we, as citizens, could do through government.
Mr. Obama seems never to appreciate that essential point about the American political order. As with his countless speeches that lead ultimately to an expression of the president's belief in the unbounded power of government to do good, he began in Columbus[...]
ThreeSourcers -- you know who you are -- will dig the whole thing.
Financial Planning Magazine is agape at the First Family's Poor financial stewardship:
Digging deeper into their finances, the Obamas seem to have an immense amount of what advisors often call low-hanging fruit -- the ability to earn much more with less risk.
Take their mortgage: The Obamas paid $45,046 in mortgage interest in 2012, which appears from the disclosure statement to be at a 5.625% interest rate with Northern Trust. That suggests an outstanding principal balance of about $800,000.
On the other hand, the bulk of their investments are in Treasury notes. Based on the disclosures, I estimate they hold about $3 million in Treasury notes (also held by Northern Trust), yielding 0.71% if averaging a five-year maturity.
By selling some of those Treasuries and paying off the mortgage, they would effectively be getting five more percentage points on the amount; they would also be about $40,000 better off each year before taxes, not to mention being less exposed to notes that could take a hit from possible rising rates.
Do guns in "the hands of criminals and dangerous people" in the United States lead to gun violence in Mexico? President Obama seems to think so:
"Most of the guns used to commit violence here in Mexico come from the United States," President Obama said during a speech at Mexico's Anthropology Museum. "I think many of you know that in America, our Constitution guarantees our individual right to bear arms. And as president, I swore an oath to uphold that right, and I always will."
"But at the same time, as Ive said in the United States, I will continue to do everything in my power to pass common-sense reforms that keep guns out of the hands of criminals and dangerous people. That can save lives here in Mexico and back home in the United States. Its the right thing to do," Obama added.
But the single greatest source of American guns in Mexico appears to be the U.S. Government. No, not via Fast and Furious, but via legal "direct commercial sales" authorized by the State Department.
Here's how it works: A foreign government fills out an application to buy weapons from private gun manufacturers in the U.S. Then the State Department decides whether to approve.
And it did approve 2,476 guns to be sold to Mexico in 2006. In 2009, that number was up nearly 10 times, to 18,709. The State Department has since stopped disclosing numbers of guns it approves, and wouldn't give CBS News figures for 2010 or 2011.
But the real outrage is Obama suggesting that the US Constitution has anything to do with Mexican gun "incompetence and corruption." The reason for this strawman is patently obvious.
News today that the FBI has placed Joanne Chesimard on its Most Wanted Terrorists list. The closest the FBI comes to an explanation why this fugitive, who was broken out of prison by armed confidantes 34 years ago and was put on the US government terrorism watch list in 2005, is now a "most wanted terrorist" is ... the 40th anniversary of her crime.
"Joanne Chesimard is a domestic terrorist who murdered a law enforcement officer execution-style," said Aaron Ford, special agent in charge of our Newark Division. "Today, on the anniversary of Trooper Werner Foerster's death, we want the public to know that we will not rest until this fugitive is brought to justice."
Well, they've known she's been under sanctuary in Cuba for almost 30 years. Why not do this on a prior anniversary? Not knowing any better, I'll speculate it is related to her movement to the terrorism watch list 8 years ago. No other information is given by the FBI, except that Chesimard, aka Assata Shakur (Tupac's aunt) "is only the second domestic terrorist to be added to the list." The first appears to be Daniel Andreas San Diego, a vegan eco-terrorist accused of bombing a San Francisco biotech company in 2003, for whom the "information leading to arrest" reward is $250,000. Chesimard's reward - $2,000,000.
And why did I include this in the Obama Administration category? For this, from the ABC News story: The rapper Common told her story in "A Song for Assata," which caused a stir after Michelle Obama invited him to a White House poetry slam two years ago. Rashid "Lonnie" Lynn a.k.a. 'Common', who traveled to Cuba to meet with Shakur prior to recording the song, has been associated with Progressive Hip-Hop as early as 2000.
In fact, CNN's Candy Crowley confronted LaHood two months ago on this very point. "Budgets go up and down," was LaHood's weak response, but he's only half right. In Washington, they only go up. -- Edward Morrissey LaHood and Obama to America: Go Fly A Kite
In "The President's Latest Bad Idea," Professor Mankiw correctly understands and describes the retirement savings grab in the President's new budget. Between the sheer numbers of my heroes in the opposition phalanx, and N-Greg (that's his hip-hop name) N-Greg's wise words, I must change sides.
A sizable body of work in public finance suggests that consumption taxes are preferable to income taxes. Completely replacing our tax system with a better one is, however, hard. Retirement accounts, such as IRAs and 401k plans, are one way our tax code has gradually evolved from an income tax toward a consumption tax. The use of these accounts should be encouraged, not discouraged.
As for my previous ambivalence: I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now...
Obama Administration: 15 years of life after retirement "reasonable"
From Bernie Becker in "On the Money" THE HILL'S Finance and Economy Blog:
President Obama's budget, to be released next week, will limit how much wealthy individuals - like Mitt Romney - can keep in IRAs and other retirement accounts.
[For those of us who don't know what a "wealthy individual" is, Becker gives us a helpful example.]
The proposal would save around $9 billion over a decade, a senior administration official said, while also bringing more fairness to the tax code.
["Fairness" is the most offensive F-word I've ever heard.]
The senior administration official said that wealthy taxpayers can currently "accumulate many millions of dollars in these accounts, substantially more than is needed to fund reasonable levels of retirement saving."
Under the plan, a taxpayer's tax-preferred retirement account, like an IRA, could not finance more than $205,000 per year of retirement - or right around $3 million this year.
There's the American dream, boys and girls: Work hard (or get a plum "Obamacare Navigator" position) and invest wisely (or get a public defined-benefit pension) so that you can have a "reasonable" retirement of NO MORE than $205,000 per year for "right around" 14.63 years. THIS year.
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has artfully crafted an image as a reasonable, moderate, modern western politician - until now. Today he signed "landmark new gun laws" in the "traditionally firearm-friendly state" of Colorado. Why?
It has been clear from the beginning that Obama plans to use gun control, not merely as a diversion from governing, but as a battering-ram issue to achieve his major 2nd-term objective: regaining the House of Representatives for the Democrats. To do that, he believes he must isolate the Republican House as being an obstruction to common-sense, practical gun control measures that most of the country agrees on. To do that, he must persuade enough Senate Democrats - especially Western Democrats - to back proposals that they really, really don't want to even vote on, much less support.
Colorado becomes the key to providing them cover. The proposals - poorly-written, full of absurd outcomes - will have to be portrayed as practical compromises. The debate on the national level will mirror the deceptive line taken here: confusing sales with temporary transfers, or even loans to friends; outlawing magazines of more than 15 rounds, but forgetting to mention that inheriting such a magazine from a deceased parent is a criminal act, a felony, even. Colorado's reputation as a western, freedom-loving state works in their favor.
So when Hickenlooper said, after the Aurora shooting, "Well, I mean I'm not sure there's any way in a free society, to be able to do that ..." it was a ploy to keep the gun debate out of the pending election.
This suited Hick just fine, since any suggestion that he was seriously looking at the sort of laws passed last week might have complicated the Dems' narrative about te Republican "War on Women" and civil unions.
But there is hope:
Ultimately, it makes the recalls of Sen. Hudak and Rep. McLachlan - along with whatever other vulnerable Dems can be included - even more important. Those recalls, like the recalls in Wisconsin, take on a national significance and urgency, not merely because of the issues involved, but because of the political implications at the national level. The promise of protection, of resources and money, to vulnerable Dems who backed him on this legislation, is the application of national resources to state races, just as the Blueprint was the application of state resources to local races. It is the Blueprint raised to a national scale. If Obama is able to implement that, then he will indeed have locked in substantial political changes that can change the society for the worse, for the long run.
On the other hand, if those promises can be shown to be empty - before the House of Representatives comes up for election, or has to vote on the national bills - then the entire narrative is turned on its head. Not only does Obama look like an unreliable friend, but the power of the issue dissipates. (That's one reason why an initiative is more useful in the event that we fail to take back both the legislature and the governor's mansion: only fiscal issues can be on the ballot in odd-numbered years.)
Hickenlooper, in 2012, specifically avoided charging voters up over this issue. Even in 2010, he didn't really mention it at all. Colorado has not had a vigorous debate on these bills or these issues. This was not something done by us. It was something done to us.
It's our move, Colorado.
UPDATE: This Denver Post story contemplates the Governor's political future:
Only a few months ago, Hickenlooper was mentioned as a potential 2016 presidential candidate. In poll after poll, his favorability ratings were higher than President Obama's and most governors.
But now Hickenlooper is attracting national attention as the Western governor backing gun control.
Asked whether the debate had hurt his image as a "quirky, lovable governor." Hickenlooper smiled.
"I'm still quirky," he said. "I'm not sure I was that lovable. And I am still relentlessly pro business."
Dear Governor - Magpul Industries, Alfred Manufacturing, other suppliers - they are BUSINESSES. With friends like you...
They can't find the money to let schoolchildren tour the White House, but Beyonce and Adele will perform at a "a huge celebrity-packed party for [Michelle Obama's] birthday at the White House next year." Via Jim Geraghty who hopes "they'll invite any of those furloughed federal workers"
Having picked up an Oscar, Adele might have thought her incredible US adventure couldn't get much better.
But now I can reveal the Skyfall singer has landed the biggest gig of next year -- singing for Michelle Obama during her 50th birthday party at the White House.
The 24-year-old star will join Beyonce at the bash on January 17 -- proof she has been given the ultimate seal of approval in the US.
"America's First Lady will be holding a huge celebrity-packed party for her birthday at the White House next year and, as she adores Adele and Beyonce, she has asked them both to sing," says a source.
Stephen Gutowski: "Just tried driving but since sequestration went into effect the roads have all crumbled into dust."
Brendan Loy: "OH MY GOD THERE ARE GOVERNMENT WORKERS SPONTANEOUSLY COMBUSTING ALL OVER THE PLACE, THIS IS HORRIBLE, PLEASE MAKE IT STOP" He added, "BREAKING: CALIFORNIA DECLARES WAR ON OREGON; KENTUCKY LAUNCHES SNEAK ATTACK ON TENNESSEE. MASS CHAOS."
Jonah: "It wasn't until I ate my neighbor's pancreas that I realized president Obama was right about the sequester."
Iowahawk: "The corpses are piling up outside my window like cordwood, oh my God the humanity."
Sebastian: "Nothing to worry about! I grabbed my double barrel shotgun & blasted #sequester through the door, just like the VP said."
Ari Fleischer: "President Obama is right. Undo the sequester! I can't stand it already."
Becket Adams: "I don't think my neighbors are taking sequestration seriously. They're giving me weird looks and making fun of my war paint and loincloth."
Exurban Jon: "So this is what anarchy feels like . . . From now on, I shall be known as ;ExJon, Warlord of the Western Deserts.'"
Buck Sexton: "Did America lose 170,000,000 jobs in the last 10 minutes? Keep me informed, everyone."
Brandon Morse: "The #sequester may now join the Mayan Calendar and the Y2K bug in the "[Stuff] Everyone Survived" Hall of Fame."
And when the Republicans opened the seventh seal of the sequester, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black and the stars fell unto the Earth; and our nation's ability to forecast severe weather, such as drought events, hurricanes and tornados, was seriously undermined. Lo, and the children were not vaccinated, and all the beasts starved in the zoos, and the planes were grounded. -- WSJ Ed Page
Sadly, the President is positioned to reify his dystopian dreams. When it passes -- and Larry Kudlow could not find a guest in a week to predict that it will not -- the President can make it painful and sit back and collect his "I told you so"s.
I enjoy ThreeSources, because the good folks 'round here discuss ideas. Facebook friends of all stripes always seem to be looking into hearts, motives and intentions. I really don't care if the President promotes bad policy because he harbors secret resentment of the West's Kenyan colonialism or --- as I suspect -- he's just a creature of the faculty lounge. As a great Stateswoman once said "What difference does it make?"
Well, now, it does. The President will soon have his hand on the knob that delivers the electric shock. He can crank it up, Simpsons style, for perceived political gain. Or, he could display statesmanship and compassion which would add to the economy and concomitantly enhance his legacy. I suspect he will split the difference -- maybe set it on four.
But we will learn something about the President's heart. Soon.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama brushed off a Republican plan Tuesday to give him flexibility to allocate $85 billion in looming spending cuts, wanting no part of a deal that would force him to choose between the bad and the terrible.
There is one question I would like to see some reporter ask Alan Krueger, the president's chief economist: How did they decide that $9 per hour is the right level? Why not $10 or $12 or $15 or $20? Presumably, the president's economic team must believe that the adverse employment effects become sufficiently large at some point that further increases are undesirable. But what calculations led them to decide that $9 strikes the right balance?
Wasn't nine dollars the cost for birth control? See, there's symmetry and reason behind the Administration's policies, you just have to look really hard.
Everybody talkin' 'bout Sen. Chuck Hagel's (Opportunist - NE) terrible confirmation hearing. Clearly it was a cleverly laid trap from Davids Plouffe and Axelrod to divert attention from Treasury nominee Jack Lew -- or, as the WSJ Ed Page calls him, "The Rookie:"
And when Orrin Hatch (R., Utah) ticked off the problems that afflicted the two Citi divisions that Mr. Lew oversaw as chief operating officer, the nominee seemed to know less about them than Mr. Hatch. "I don't recall specific conversations" about any of several Citi-run hedge funds that were imploding at the time, said Mr. Lew. "I was aware there were funds that were in trouble."
Citigroup funds with high leverage crashed and burned, requiring a taxpayer bailout while sparking fierce debates at Citi over whether customers had been adequately informed. But the COO who oversaw legal affairs for some of these units says he formed no opinion.
Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown tried to draw out Mr. Lew on one of the Senator's favorite subjects: The fact that too-big-to-fail banks can borrow at lower rates than small banks because of the implied government backing. Mr. Lew rambled before saying that he was "not familiar with the specific issue."
These next four years are just going to be swell, are they not?
I'm busy. To enjoy full productivity gains from the Internet, I am going to crib my SOTU review.
Kirsten Powers -- I know she's a FOX News Democrat, but she's a Democrat all the same -- did not really enjoy the speech more than I did. I would not change a word of her USA Today column: Same Old Same Old from Obama.
Contrary to the claims of both sides, Obama is not a liberal visionary with deep desires to institute a progressive agenda. If he is, he's a miserable failure. You need look no further than his own record (starting with foreign policy) and then Tuesday night's speech for evidence. Banalities and tropes are not a governing philosophy or a plan. The immigration piece was good, but hardly a profile in courage. After all, even the GOP wants immigration reform now. There is also the small fact that Obama promised to deal with immigration in his first term.
Rub a little dirt in it, Mr. President. It doesn't get much kinder:
That this underwhelming State of the Union -- substantively and stylistically -- will be treated as a serious effort reveals the bad shape our country is really in.
During Senate confirmation hearings, Chuck Hagel demonstrated that he is both clueless and incompetent. Unfortunately, those are probably the two most important qualifications that President Obama seeks In someone to run the U.S. military.
We share a large percent of our genetic structure with dogs. Therefore, don't be surprised if you look at the monitor with your head cocked and a slightly puzzled look when reading this.
The greatest irony is that given Mr. Lew's crisis-era resumé, he bears a remarkable resemblance to the bankers who President Obama says created the financial crisis and deserve federal investigation. But apparently there's an exception as long as your liberal intentions are noble and you're a loyal Democrat. Then you can get rich at one of Wall Street's biggest failures and end up running the entire financial system.
That's the elite WSJ decorum at work. They manage to describe Treasury Secretary Jack Lew's brief and magnanimously unsuccessful Wall Street career without appending -ass to any of the words. I couldn't do it.
Lew's a gub'mint guy through and through, but he takes a brief tenure at Citi that best represents a Matt Damon caricature of a Wall Street guy in the panic: bad guy comes in, total devastation ensues, gets a Federal bailout, leaves with a seven figure bonus. I just don't think Damon's screenwriters have the balls (see, I did not say ass) to have the villain nominated to be SecTreas.
We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us, at any time, may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other -- through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security -- these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great. -- President Barack Obama
UPDATE: Thw WSJ Ed Page highlights this same line.
The "takers" line was a clear shot at Mitt Romney's most famous campaign gaffe. This should have been beneath a Presidential inaugural, but then again it fits Mr. Obama's post- re-election pattern of continuing to demean and stigmatize those who disagree with him as if the election campaign is still on.
Some serious words from Juan Williams, in a serious piece: The Clouds Over Obama's Second Term."
But when it comes to judging his place in American history, it is impossible not to address his minority status. The first blacks in any field, much like the first women, are always held to strict standards.
Major League Baseball could not allow just any Negro ballplayer to break the color line in 1947. It had to be Jackie Robinson, who was both an exceptionally dignified man and a great baseball player.
President Lyndon Johnson could not appoint just any great lawyer to be the first African-American on the Supreme Court. Before becoming a Supreme Court justice, Thurgood Marshall held the record for winning cases before the high court, including Brown v. Board of Education (1954), which struck down segregation in public schools. He served with distinction as solicitor general and as a federal judge.
When President George H.W. Bush selected the first African-American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he selected Colin Powell: a four-star general and decorated American war hero whose qualifications were unquestionable.
As president, Mr. Obama is dealing with scrutiny of his performance on the level of Robinson, Marshall and Mr. Powell--a scrutiny that is magnified by political passion. One theme of GOP campaign ads in the recent election was to appeal to voters who supported Mr. Obama in 2008 by essentially telling them not to feel bad about firing the first black president--he was just in over his head.
Not counting the president, that would be impolite.
Bret Stephens demolishes Senator Chuck Hagel (Jew-Hatin' Homophobe NE) on the WSJ Ed Page. You have to read every word (holler for an email version), but here is the summation:
In each case, Mr. Hagel was articulating a view that was exactly in keeping with received Beltway wisdom. In each case, he was subsequently disproved by events. In no case was Mr. Hagel ever held to any kind of account for being wrong. In no case did he hold himself to account for being wrong.
Oh, by the way, in 1995 Mr. Hagel told the Omaha World Herald that his opposition to abortion was total and made no exception for cases of rape or incest--a view that helped get him elected to the Senate the following year. He later voted repeatedly against allowing servicewomen to pay for abortions out of their own pocket, according to the left-wing magazine Mother Jones. Now that Congress has authorized the Defense Department to pay for abortions in cases of rape, it would be worth asking Mr. Hagel if he has evolved on this one, too.
The rest of the column chronicles decades of saying whatever is popular at the time and changing positions when they fall out of disfavor. It makes one appreciate a Rep. Xavier Becerra (D CA) or Senator Bernie Sanders (I VT). My respect for their consistency precludes my providing a silly party - state identifier.
What stunned House Speaker John Boehner more than anything else during his prolonged closed-door budget negotiations with Barack Obama was this revelation: "At one point several weeks ago," Mr. Boehner says, "the president said to me, 'We don't have a spending problem.'"
This is from a Stephen Moore interview with Speaker Boehner. Also well excerpted outside the paywall by Matt Welch.
The President thinks we have a health care problem and that once that is fixed (by the addition of large quantities of government, natch) all of our other priorities will be seen to be very affordable.
I don't know where I got the job "President of the Speaker Boehner Fan Club" (my card just arrived in the mail). But how do you negotiate with a man who a) believes that; b) is not a compromise politician; c) has a Senate majority; and, d)can expect sympathetic press? "I need this job like a hole in my head" is the other takeaway quote.
One can find fault with the Speaker but I think it requires context. All in all, another grim reminder of IowaHawk's wisdom:
The Financial Times reported Wednesday that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner knew about Libor manipulation in May 2008, even earlier than previously believed. (See our editorial, "Tim Geithner and Libor," July 21, 2012.) And yet he soft-pedaled his criticism of Libor while at the New York Federal Reserve. The New York Fed even used Libor as a benchmark throughout the worst of the crisis, in major contracts to which the U.S. government was party.
When regulators mess up, they don't get indicted. They get promoted. -- WSJ Ed Page
But my favorite opinion writer nails it today. I have said it, she said it better: give the President his stupid tax increase, vote "Present" and let it be the Democrats' gift to a gleeful nation.
The president will also finally have to show his math. He has argued his entire presidency that America's debt hole could be filled by soaking the rich. He'll now get his way, in a bill that likely provides $800 billion in revenue over 10 years, or $80 billion a year. To repeat: $80 billion a year. That is 7% of the $1.1 trillion deficit Mr. Obama ran in fiscal year 2012 alone. His tax hikes in hand, he can now explain why the hole keeps getting bigger.
Especially as no further tax revenue will be forthcoming. The president's grand plan was to pocket the top tax rates and commit the GOP to later tax "reform" worth an additional $800 billion in closed tax deductions. His leverage has been holding hostage the middle-class rates. That hostage will now be dead. The GOP will have no reason to give him more.
Nor will Mr. Obama get any of the spending wish list he sent to House Speaker John Boehner last week, since a deal was his only real shot at slipping in some of that money. No $50 billion in stimulus. No extension of unemployment insurance or payroll tax holiday. No money for his mortgage program.
We're not going to win this one. Strassel suggests a managed retreat, and I think she is right.
No question, the Republicans would suffer a bitter defeat if top marginal income-tax rates rise. Then again, if those rates are going up anyway--either because we go off the cliff or because Mr. Obama maneuvers them into a panicked, last-minute deal--the rational GOP response is to instead choose a deliberate course that mitigates its own political damage, and lands some blows. This is the corner our intransigent president has backed Republicans into.
So, that Obama "victory": On Jan. 1, the president gets to give a news conference gloating over his tax win. He then faces four years and 20 days of a presidency marked by his ownership of a faltering economy, a spiraling debt problem, automatic sequester cuts, no prospect of further spending or tax revenue, and a debt-ceiling time bomb. If that's this president's idea of "victory," maybe it's what he deserves.
I was very proud to not be a Costco member, when CEO Jim Sinegal took the stage at the Democratic Convention to do his part to elect the guy who was going to raise his taxes. It's a free country, and I certainly do not boycott Costco. It just doesn't appeal to the two of us in our humble condo. But I was glad to be off the list that night.
When President Obama needed a business executive to come to his campaign defense, Jim Sinegal was there. The Costco co-founder, director and former CEO even made a prime-time speech at the Democratic Party convention in Charlotte. So what a surprise this week to see that Mr. Sinegal and the rest of the Costco board voted to give themselves a special dividend to avoid Mr. Obama's looming tax increase. Is this what the President means by "tax fairness"?
Costco is one of more than 130 companies who are -- smartly -- increasing dividends or rolling them into 2012 to avoid President Obama's new rates. But I don't recall many of the other 129 being on stage primetime at the DNC. And, something else makes this special dividend all the more special:
More striking is that Costco also announced that it will borrow $3.5 billion to finance the special payout. Dividends are typically paid out of earnings, either current or accumulated. But so eager are the Costco executives to get out ahead of the tax man that they're taking on debt to do so.
I guess they're Democrats after all!
We think companies can do what they want with their cash, but it's certainly rare to see a public corporation weaken its balance sheet not for investment in the future but to make a one-time equity payout. It's a good illustration of the way that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's near-zero interest rates are combining with federal tax policy to distort business decisions.
One of the biggest dividend winners will be none other than Mr. Sinegal, who owns about two million shares, while his wife owns another 84,669. At $7 a share, the former CEO will take home roughly $14 million. At a 15% tax rate he'll get to keep nearly $12 million of that windfall, while at next year's rate of 43.4% he'd take home only about $8 million. That's a lot of extra cannoli.
But, next year will be so much more fair!
UPDATE: Larry Kudlow updates my number to 170 -- and throws in Major League Baseball's, notorious for deferring revenue, finishing free agent contracts with front loaded 2012 bonuses.
OK, I think we've seen enough here. It looks like 2012 will end on a weak note with most economists viewing 2013 as probably more of the same -- and that assumes we don't plunge over the fiscal cliff and suffer another recession. For comparison purposes, let's first review Obama White House economic forecasts since 2009:
1. In August of 2009, Team Obama predicted GDP would rise 4.3% in 2011, followed by 4.3% growth in 2012 (and 4.3% in 2013, too).
2. In its 2010 forecast, Team Obama predicted GDP would rise 3.5% in 2012, followed by 4.4% growth in 2013, 4.3% in 2014.
3. In its 2011 forecast, Team Obama predicted GDP would rise 3.1% in 2011, 4.0% in 2012, 4.5% in 2013, and 4.2% in 2014.
4. In its most recent forecast, Team Obama predicted GDP would rise 3.0% this year and next, and then 4.0% after that.
Instead, GDP grew 2.4% in 2010, and 1.8% last year. So far this year, quarterly growth has been 2.0%, 1.3%, and 2.7% -- with maybe 1.5% in the current quarter. Instead of quarter after quarter of 4% growth, we've had just two: The final quarters of 2009 and 2011. Other than those, weve haven't had a single quarter with growth higher than this quarter's 2.7%. It's why we still have massive employment and output gaps.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The White House could finally have its chance to close the books on its Benghazi public relations disaster, as key Republicans signal they might not stand in the way of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to become the next secretary of state.
Public relations disaster? Yeah, that's the trouble with four murdered Americans in a terrorist attack on 9/11 and weeks of subsequent lying: bad PR.
And, is it "over" (was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?) if they can cobble 60 votes from pusillanimous Senate Republicans? The story goes away?
I'm game to join Bill Kristol that Ambassador Rice is no worse than anybody else he might nominate and likely better than some. But this story sadly shows that the mendacity of the press continues post-election.
UPDATE: Taranto Chimes in (scroll to "Hacks and Flacks.")
I don't know that President Obama reads Jonah Goldberg's column regularly, but we all know he loves ThreeSources, so I'll put this forward.
Goldberg thinks that the President might be in a unique position to address the racial imbalance in marriage and illegitimacy.
But there is one area where Obama could be transformative and bipartisan while helping both the middle class and the poor. He could show some leadership on the state of the black family, and the American family in general.
The thought came to me when a friend pointed me to a column by the Washington Post's Courtland Milloy about how blacks are fleeing baseball at an alarming rate. Today, only 8 percent of the baseball players are black. In 1959, black participation was more than twice as high at 17 percent. In 1975, the high-water mark, the rate was 27 percent.
The reasons for the decline are many and controversial, but one cited by Milloy is that baseball is a game taught by fathers, while basketball and football are more often taught by peers in pickup games.
I respect the sobreity of brother Ellis' prior post but I do believe caution is in order. There's another equally possible outcome. After all, none of the republics which failed throughout history had the internet... or YouTube.
This episode has been on my mind since the summer of 2008. Now, on the eve of the referendum vote, it finally seems fully appropriate.
One more excellent article about the Benghazi 9/11 terrorist attack and the growing evidence of an administration cover-up. Victor Davis Hanson, in inimitable prose, lists those whose careers will be ended by the affair:
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Martin Dempsey
And of course, without being mentioned, President Barack Obama.
A Washington Times column by James S. Robbins, dated October 28 (Sunday) shortly after midnight EDT, describes the October 18 announcement by SECDEF Panetta: "Today I am very pleased to announce that President Obama will nominate General David Rodriguez to succeed General Carter Ham as commander of U.S. Africa Command."
After remarking on the unusual timing of the leadership change, the column then reports an October 26 blog post by someone who cites an anonymous "inside the military [source] that I trust entirely."
The information I heard today was that General Ham as head of Africom received the same e-mails the White House received requesting help/support as the attack was taking place. General Ham immediately had a rapid response unit ready and communicated to the Pentagon that he had a unit ready.
General Ham then received the order to stand down. His response was to screw it, he was going to help anyhow. Within 30 seconds to a minute after making the move to respond, his second in command apprehended General Ham and told him that he was now relieved of his command.
The story continues that now General Rodiguez would take General Ham's place as the head of Africom.
Later the same day, October 28, a pentagon spokesman wrote Mr. Robbins and said, "The insinuations in your story are flat wrong."
Monday, October 29, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, released a statement:
"The speculation that General Carter Ham is departing Africa Command (AFRICOM) due to events in Benghazi, Libya on 11 September 2012 is absolutely false. General Ham's departure is part of routine succession planning that has been on going since July. He continues to serve in AFRICOM with my complete confidence."
The questions concerning General Ham's role in the September 11 events continue to percolate. Congressman Jason Chaffetz, Utah Republican, said that General Ham told him during a visit to Libya that he had never been asked to provide military support for the Americans under attack in Benghazi. Former United States Ambassador to the U.N. John R, Bolton also mentioned Mr. Chaffetz's account, and contrasted it with Mr. Panetta's statement that General Ham had been part of the team that made the decision not to send in forces. "General Ham has now been characterized in two obviously conflicting ways," Mr. Bolton concluded. "Somebody ought to find out what he actually was saying on September the eleventh."
A blistering critique of the administration by retired Commander in Chief of the US Pacific Fleet that ends, "for our leadership to have deliberately ignored the pleas for assistance is not only incomprehensible, it is un-American."
And the following conclusion about General Carter Ham's "retirement."
James Robbins notes that the White House insisted that Ham took part in the decision not to supply assistance to the consulate, but Ham told Rep. Jason Chaffetz that no one had asked him about it. Hams retirement could mean that the Pentagon had some sort of disciplinary action pending against him over the incident (also the subject of much speculation, but little in the way of direct sourcing), or it could have a different meaning altogether. It would be inappropriate for Ham to criticize his Commander in Chief while still in uniform, although he could go to Congress to report any perceived malfeasance at any time.
The Washington DC CBS affiliate reported today this statement by Senator John McCain on Face the Nation yesterday:
"Nobody died in Watergate. But this [handling of Ambassador Stevens' murder by terrorists] is either a massive cover-up or incompetence that is not acceptable service to the American people," McCain told "Face the Nation." "The American people may take that into consideration a week from Tuesday."
Voters, then, must assess the administrations handling of Benghazi with limited information. But we do know this: (1) the administration erred grievously by leaving open our mission in Benghazi while turning down requests for more security, (2) the administration made the wrong decision on the day of the attack by not bringing our military to bear, a decision consistent with Obamas instincts, and (3) the administration has not been forthcoming or honest in its discussion of Benghazi after the fact.
These facts, without more, present a serious indictment of Obama.
Jake Tapper -- likely the least "in the bag" journalist for the Obama Administration -- claims that the President will have the high ground when the subject of the Benghazi attacks comes up tonight (between Big Bird and Contraception).
"The Romney campaign had the high ground on this issue for weeks. They lost that high ground at the second debate by alleging, suggesting the Obama administration had misled the American public on Benghazi," says Josh Rogin, of Foreign Policy's The Cable.
"It took the president 14 days before he called the attack on the embassy an act of terror," Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said at that debate. Obama had in fact called it an act of terror the day after the attack, though the administration spent the next two weeks avoiding the term terror, blaming the attack on an anti-Muslim video and claiming some of it was spontaneous.
Still, "there's no real evidence that they misled, it's possible they were just wrong. And President Obama seized on that and called that offensive and...now the president has regained the moral high authority on this issue."
We're not necessarily lying -- we could be simply stoopid!
"I have been a career foreign service officer for 39 years," [Patrick] Kennedy said when asked if political considerations trumped protocol. "I have served every president since Richard Nixon, I have directly served six secretaries of State, Democratic and Republican. On my honor: no. None."
[Lt. Col Andrew] Wood said that when he heard of the attack on the Benghazi post on September 11, it was "instantly recognizable" that it had been a terrorist attack.
"Mainly because of my prior knowledge there," Wood said. "I almost expected the attack to come. We were the last flag flying. It was a matter of time."
Never have a blogger stay at your house. They eat too much and hog your Wi-Fi. More importantly, they share private family details on the Internet.
But I stayed with some people last week who had an interesting procedure. There's a jar in the bedroom, and you have to put in a dollar when you say . . . wait for it . . . "If George W. Bush were President..." At le condo d'Amor, I'd have a 1958 Les Paul and a '59 Corvette to drive it around in.
But the world is not ThreeSources. And I am becoming convinced that the Obama Administration is not going to face any ramifications for the Libyan embassy Attacks. Yes, right wingers like Jennifer Rubin will whine:
Moreover, the State Department now confesses there was no protest at all outside the Libyan installation before the attack.
That's awfully problematic, given that Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice went on five talk shows suggesting in fact that the movie did provoke the attack. Mitt Romney's top foreign policy adviser, Richard Williamson, told Right Turn, "Last time I checked, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations was part of the U.S. State Department."
But I think the President will be able to run out the clock talking about Big Bird. I wish I were wrong.
First I should caution that this report comes from a person who claims to be a "veteran White House reporter." Aren't those guys all bought and paid for?
In a vicious and personal assault rarely conducted at the highest level of U.S. politics, White House senior adviser David Plouffe repeatedly told reporters aboard Air Force One that Romney was "dishonest." With the president of the United States in a cabin just a few steps away, his top adviser pushed out the new campaign theme that the man who had bested him in the debate Wednesday night is an untrustworthy scoundrel.
How many times have we heard the left make baseless claims that Big Oil uses its money and influence to stamp out competition wherever it can, and thereby maximize their own profits? Investors Business Daily printed an editorial yesterday that now, finally, substantiates that claim. But it's not what you might think. In this case "Big Oil" equals Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Russia's state-owned oil monopolies.
Venezuela's state Foundation National Cinematheque has been financially linked to "Gasland," a 2011 anti-fracking documentary whose aim was to paint fracking in the U.S. as dangerous.
This week, the Heritage Foundation's Lachlan Markey found that United Arab Emirates-owned "Image Media Abu Dhabi" financed "Promised Land," a Matt Damon film that shows U.S. oil and gas companies as greedy behemoths out to poison America's small towns.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has been accused of financing radical environmentalist groups through foundations to undercut oil sands production in Canada, which is America's top supplier.
If you have to ask why they oppose American energy production, here is the answer:
All this signals something big is at stake in global power politics: fracking, which threatens petrotyrants as no nuclear weapon ever has. The Gulf states, Venezuela and Russia derive their power solely from their dominance in energy production, not by their economies.
If fracking and the combination of investment, high tech, expertise and geography enable the U.S. to produce natural gas at $3 a unit, while Russia can only do it at $10, the threat is obvious.
My wise and dear father caught me at a loss this morning when he asked if I know what ended the Great Depression? "WWII production?" I knew it was wrong as soon as I said it, but I must confess his answer was more correct and succinct than any I've ever heard: "FDR died."
Some may argue that Obama took office in the midst of an epochal financial crisis, with an economy hurtling downhill. Fair enough -- as far as it goes.
But after four years, that excuse rings hollow. Obama's record suggests he won't put into place policies that foster economic growth and job creation.
Even worse, Obama gives us scant hope for better times on his watch. He's the godfather of big government policies that burden the economy -- a new health care system that will add punishing costs to hiring and small business and financial regulations that will stifle lending.
Obama promised change. And indeed the economy has changed.
But President Obama is young and healthy, so America is fortunate that he is Constitutionally limited to two terms of office. Better yet, we can elect a businessman with a proven track record of rescuing failed enterprises to replace him.
Get yours today. Supplies are not limited. "The Obama Phone" from the Free Government Cell Phone Program.
The free Obama phone is a program that is meant to help the financially unstable who cannot afford access to a cell phone. Communication should not be limited to people in relation to what they are able to afford.
And like everything else in the Obama presidency, this too is Bush's fault.
During the Bush administration, there was the introduction of a project that gave subsidies to those who could not afford a phone. The basic principle of the program is that everyone should have access to emergency services like 911.
But if the phone could only be used for 911 who would carry it? Who would charge it? How could it "help the financially unstable?" Fear not.
There are different plans to choose from. Some plans offer fewer minutes and more texting and some even include rollover minutes. Make sure you check out all the plans before choosing the one that is right for you.
If one were able to look up "moral hazard" in a videonet dictionary, this clip would be definition number 1 or 2.
It is self-evident that the national news media, once respected for at least trying to appear objective, is as fully invested in President Obama's reelection as a diverse group of human beings can ever be.
It is self-evident that a Republican president who governed in the way President Obama has done would be excoriated by journalists to a degree that would have made the late President Nixon feel like a media darling.
It is self-evident that the only way government can lower health care costs is to ration patient care.
It is self-evident that when medical providers and insurers are allowed to compete for business they will find ways to lower their costs, and therefore their prices.
It is self-evident that when President Obama says something, he really means the opposite.
There are several points to be made about President Obama's appearance on David Letterman last night and most of them are being made elsewhere. The one I haven't heard anyone mention is the point where the president says that America is the "greatest country on earth."
"Right now interest rates are low because people still consider the United States the safest and greatest country on earth. Rightfully so."
It's at 7:10 in the following clip of his entire appearance:
This comes dangerously close to "elevating one nation or group of people over another," and it clearly proves that the president understands nations are not equal. What is the word which describes the popular, yet ineffective, strategy for making nations or groups of people equal? Redistribution.
"Stay the course America" is the president's re-election strategy. "Pay no attention to that iceberg approaching our bow. That's just a little bump we're gonna have to roll over before we can all have the same opportunities as everyone else."
Very small Internet value in underscoring Professor Reynolds's links, but if you ever think you are not living in Bizzaro World, read Joel Engel's description of the artist President Obama hung with after putting that cheesy filmmaker behind bars.
If Barack Obama consciously intended to demonstrate his contempt for this constitutional republic and its citizens--and who knows, maybe he does--he couldn't do it any more dramatically than tomorrow night's event.
Think about it. Just a few days after trying to deprive a man no one had ever heard of from enjoying his free-speech rights because some foreigners claim they were offended, the President of the United States flies off to party with another man whos earned a pasha's fortune exercising his own free-speech rights with language that offends many more Americans than not.
Click through for some language that even I will not excerpt.
Or, "What if they threw a big economic recovery and nobody came?"
Lawrence Kudlow points out in an IBD editorial that Bernanke's "desperate money-pumping plan" is a complete reversal of the "supply side" policy that his predecessor Paul Volker used to great effect in the 80's, with an unsurprising result.
A falling dollar (1970s) generates higher inflation, a rising dollar (1980s and beyond) generates lower inflation.
This is the supply-side model as advanced by Nobelist Robert Mundell and his colleague Arthur Laffer. In summary, easier taxes and tighter money are the optimal growth solution. But what we have now are higher taxes and easier money. A bad combination.
The Fed has created all this money in the last couple of years. But it hasn't worked: $1.6 trillion of excess bank reserves are still sitting idle at the Fed. No use. No risk. Virtually no loans. And the Fed is enabling massive deficit spending by the White House and Treasury.
The obvious implication being that if it worked then and its opposite is failing now, let's try it again. *Homer Simpson voice*"Hey, why didn't I think of that?"*/Homer Simpson voice* Kudlow explains that when policies don't encourage higher after-tax income for producers or greater return on investment for lenders, well, we'll see less of both.
On page 2 Kudlow explains how QE3, like QE2 before it, is murder on the middle-class that the president loudly and repeatedly boasts he cares most about. As my three year-old likes to say these days, "Nonsense."
The catalyst for riots and embassy attacks in Egypt and Libya yesterday, resulting in the deaths of four American diplomats, reportedly was a low-budget film that "appeared on the internet" and "insulted Islam." Demands by Egyptian citizens that the Egyptian president "take action" have apparently borne fruit as he asked the Egyptian Embassy in the U.S. to take "all legal measures" against the makers of the film.
But first there is the problem of determining who the makers of the film really are.
A high-ranking Israeli official in Los Angeles on Wednesday said that after numerous inquiries, it appeared no one in the Hollywood film industry or in the local Israeli community knew of a Sam Bacile, the supposed director-writer of the incendiary film Innocence of Muslims.
The official expressed some doubt that a person by that name actually existed.
Mideast popular opinion, we were told by candidate Obama, is anti-American because they see us as meddlers in their local affairs. We based our troops in the land of Mecca, which was supposedly the final motivation for Osama bin Laden to found al Qaeda and target America, Americans and the World Trade Center on 9/11. President Obama promised to change all of this by bringing home the troops and extending an olive branch to Islamic states and shadow groups alike.
As long ago as 2010, when General Stanley McChrystal was recalled from the effort to "liberate" Afghanistan, the president sought to apply his strategy to the mideast conflict:
Barack Obama, apparently frustrated at the way the war is going, has reminded his national security advisers that while he was on the election campaign trail in 2008, he had advocated talking to America's enemies.
Some Afghan policy specialists are sceptical about whether negotiations would succeed. Peter Bergen, a specialist on Afghanistan and al-Qaida, told a US Institute of Peace seminar in Washington last week that there were a host of problems with such a strategy, not least why the Taliban should enter negotiations "when they think they are winning".
At the same time he offers to "talk to America's enemies" he has intensified efforts to eliminate terrorist leaders, including a top al Qaeda leader, Abu Yahya al-Libi. Killed by a U.S. missile in June, Senator Ben Nelson today suggested that Ambassador Christopher Stevens' killing yesterday in Libya may have been meant as revenge.
Did the president really believe he could conduct covert operations throughout the middle east without incurring the same kind of backlash his mentor Jeremiah Wright claimed to be the cause of 9/11? Whether it is better to fight terrorists or talk to them is less at issue with this administration than the schizophrenia that leads them to attempt both at the same time.
I think it's fair to say that respected political columnist George F. Will was not in the vanguard of Obama criticism that found its first popular voice with the TEA Parties of February 17, 2009. I could be off base but I remember him being critical and dismissive of our dire warnings about the ideas, goals and dangers of the newly elected president. Nonetheless, yesterday Mr. Will became one of us.
In 1912, Wilson said, The history of liberty is the history of the limitation of governmental power. But as Kesler notes, Wilson never said the future of liberty consisted of such limitation.
Instead, he said, every means . . . by which society may be perfected through the instrumentality of government should be used so that individual rights can be fitly adjusted and harmonized with public duties. Rights adjusted and harmonized by government necessarily are defined and apportioned by it. Wilson, the first transformative progressive, called this the New Freedom. The old kind was the Founders kind government existing to secure natural rights (see the Declaration) that preexist government. Wilson thought this had become an impediment to progress. The pedigree of Obamas thought runs straight to Wilson.
All we are say-ing, is hear what he says.*
* Yes, that is what he means, literally.
Welcome to the Party George. Have some BBQ and a Bud with us.
"The reason the economics fail in the US is not a failure of Wind, its a failure of greedy corporations to allocate costs in a manner that is for the common good. Energy is like air - it comes from God and should not be for-profit. COOPs are the most cost efficient way to deliver electricity. Remove the corporate overhead with multi-million dollar salaries for CEO's and the economics of wind are obvious."
Posted 3 hours ago as a comment on a blog post at one of my engineering trade magazines. The post itself is noteworthy, for it represents the first I can remember where the realities of alternative energy sources are given as much weight as the pollyanna political correctness.
And then there is the cost of wind per MW hr with the subsidy included. Without the subsidy - fuggedaboutit. And it looks like the forgetting will be happening soon. The tax credits for "alternative" (read unreliable) energy have not been renewed. What was that again? Renewables have not been renewed? Isn't that a contradiction in terms? There is a simple explanation.
Wind power does not succeed by capturing wind. It succeeds by capturing government.
Worse, he suggested that JFK wouldn't recognize his party. Voight said that the Democrats have turned upside down Kennedy's famous line, "ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."
Obama, he charged, "is saying, 'Ask what your country can do for you. Your government will give you everything. We'll take care of you."
I watched the Dinesh D'Souza film 2016-Obama's America yesterday with family and friends. My brother and father were the driving force and dad thought it so important we all see it that he paid for all of us. Having been cautioned by JK's distaste for D'Souza's conspiratism I was eager to see and hear for myself what evidence Dinesh presents, and what hypothesis he has formed.
As a starting point I read this critical review by Washington Post's Michael O'Sullivan. His instinct is to dismiss it as a rehash of prior Obama hatred, but some of his dissmissals ring hollow.
As readers of the Forbes article know, the central thesis of "2016" is that Obama's worldview -- his "compass," as D'Souza calls it -- was largely shaped by the anti-colonialist, anti-white and anti-Christian politics of Obama's supposedly radical Kenyan father. Never mind that Obama, growing up, spent precious little time with the man, who for most of his son's early life was estranged from Obama's mother. D'Souza trots out a professional psychologist to speculate on how the senior Obama's absence reinforced his influence, rather than weakened it.
D'Souza makes it all sound almost plausible, but only if you're predisposed to believe that Obama hates America. It's bashing, all right, but with a velvet-gloved fist.
What is glossed over here is how he makes it sound plausible. That explanation is omitted and replaced with a cautionary "almost" to convince readers they need not bother to evaluate the plausability on their own. D'Souza explains that Obama's worldview was constructed not in the image of his absentee father, rather in the idealized image of him portrayed by his mother. Ann Dunham, an almost completely overlooked component of Barack's formative years, was as anti-American, or at least anti-capitalist and anti-"colonialist" as they come. So says D'Souza. He supports this claim with multiple facts. He concludes that diminishing America's influence in the world, in effect punishing America for its colonial heritage, is fully consistent with many of the previously inexplicable acts of President Obama: To repair America's "plunder" of foreign resources he gave billions of American taxpayer's dollars to Brazil and others to build up those nations' oil industries; to push back present-day colonialism he has sided with Argentina over Great Britain in the Falklands conflict; his mideast policy arguably reflects a prejudice against western influence in favor of native rule, whatever that may happen to become. Actions as seemingly unimportant as returning a bust of Winston Churchill and presenting gag gifts to the Queen of England also betray a lifelong hatred for that country, the once great colonial power which had colonized and "exploited" his father's native land - Kenya.
In the film D'Souza also shows how then candidate Obama diverted attention from these beliefs and tendencies by suggesting his goal was a racial reconciliation within America. When longtime mentor Reverend Jeremiah Wright's anti-Americanism threatened to derail his campaign, Barack gave a nationally televised speech on race relations and distanced himself from the anti-colonialist values. And when other formative influences were called into question his campaign skillfully portrayed them as good-ol American leftists rather than the world socialists they would likely call themselves. When the President lectures America about the unfairness of the "one percenters" Americans think of wealthy corporate titans standing unapologetically on the shoulders of the working or "middle" class. But to a world socialist, EVERY American is a one-percenter, right down to the homeless shelter or overpass dweller who may freely beg for change and sleep opon the paved streets of American cities, free from scourges like disease, garbage dumps and open sewage running through the streets of a typical third-world village, always with ready access to medical treatment-on-demand in the shiny hospitals of the most prosperous nation on earth.
My opinion of the validity of D'Souza's original conclusions is buttressed by Elizabeth Reynolds' 'D'Souza's "Rage" a Middling Psychoanalysis' in The Dartmouth Review. After labeling Dinesh as an "ultra-conservative member of the Dartmouth Class of 1983" and praising Obama's book 'Dreams From My Father' she presents a fair, perhaps more fair than she intended, interpretation of the facts in D'Souza's book. Her conclusion:
Perhaps D'Souza's anti-colonial theory does help explain, as the Weekly Standard put it, Obama's omnipotence at home and impotence abroad. It is a matter of the reader's opinion. Regardless, D'Souza brings something new to the table with his latest book. It seems clear to me that D'Souza has done his research, with his extensive history of colonial Africa and insightful background information on Obama's early life. His concept of investigating the impact of Barack Obama's father had potential, but I'm afraid that D'Souza's conclusion, that Obama is trying to essentially destroy America, ultimately takes it too far.
Ironically, it is Reynolds who takes it too far for "essentially destroying America" is not D'Souza's claimed goal for Barack Obama. He merely wants to diminish our nation, not destroy it. The call to action at the end of the film? Every American must decide for himself if America should be diminished - and vote accordingly.
Please tell me White House spokesman Jay Carney didn't attack Paul Ryan's Path to Prosperity budget today for not balancing the budget fast enough, as White House reporter for Roll Call Steven Dennis tweeted. -- James Pethokoukis
Unless of course he believes that American Olympic athletes are "those at the very top" and therefore deserve to have one-third of their Olympic honoraria confiscated by their government.
Americans who win bronze will pay a $2 tax on the medal itself. But the bronze comes with a modest prize--$10,000 as an honorarium for devoting your entire life to being the third best athlete on the planet in your chosen discipline. And the IRS will take $3,500 of that, thank you very much.
Silver medalists will owe $5,385. You win a gold? Timothy Geithner will be standing there with his hand out for $8,986.
So as of this writing, swimmer Missy Franklin--who's a high school student--is already on the hook for almost $14,000. By the time she's done in the pool, her tab could be much higher. (That is, unless she has to decline the prize money to placate the NCAA--the only organization in America whose nuttiness rivals the IRS.)
I don't remember everything from 1985 - Ronald Reagan was president and I was graduating from college - but another vivid memory is the US Defense Department's decision to replace the venerable John Browning designed Colt 1911 pistol as the standard duty issue firearm for all armed forces. It was the height of a nascent competitive bid movement in government procurement and not enough attention was paid to quality or to a host of other issues. The Pentagon seemed to hope that making a change to a cheaper, foreign-made, smaller caliber pistol would deliver the same excellent service as its predecessor while also showing that they were a modern, non-discriminatory, progressive organization willing to take the "smarter" path. They selected the Beretta M9, a 9mm pistol made in Italy, to replace the seventy-four year old Colt. Now, some twenty seven years later, at least one branch of the U.S. armed forces is willing to admit a mistake. Fox News: Sticking to their guns: Marines place $22.5M order for the Colt .45 M1911
Some reports suggest Marines are not happy with their main Beretta M9s for their lack of accuracy and stopping power. With M1911's now supplying Special Ops, growing interest may lead to a better solution.
"To have the 1911 selected again for U. S. Forces 101 years after its initial introduction is just an incredible testament to the timeless design and effectiveness of the Colt 1911," Dinkel said. "This is truly a gratifying contract award."
Now, more than any time I can remember, it is reassuring to know that some Americans are willing to admit when they make a mistake - and act quickly to fix the problem the best way they know how.
It's not that "more cowbell" is overused, it's that it's wrongly used. Gene Healy correctly ties it to the President:
There you have it. Contemplating the policy wreckage that surrounds him, the president has concluded that what this country needs is a fresh injection of presidential hope. Like "more cowbell" in the old "Saturday Night Live" skit, it's the magic ingredient that makes everything better.
Obama considers himself a sophisticated and nuanced guy, so you wouldn't think his descent into self-parody would be quite so unsubtle.
Anyone else out there for the explanation that a lack of storytelling, explaining and inspirational speeches was the great sin of the Obama presidency? According to CBS's Mark Knoller, in his first two years in office, the president clocked 902 speeches and statements and gave 265 interviews. Anybody who talks that much runs the risk of saying too much. Case in point, this gem from the president's speech Friday in Roanoke: "If you've got a business -- you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen." Inspiring
Given the utter devastation that can result from forest fires near urban areas, and the near unanimity about why their frequency and magnitude is peaking, one may wonder why no efforts to reduce the threat seem to be under way. The good news is that 11 years ago, five federal government agencies joined efforts to create an integrated wildland fire managment system called Fire Program Analysis or FPA. A comprehensive computer modeling system, FPA would "help them weigh the benefits of fire suppression versus forest thinning, evaluate where to station people and equipment and decide how many planes to buy." The bad news is that the effort was undertaken by federal government agencies. Denver Post:
The idea was to figure out how much money to devote to fire suppression, and to reducing fuels to improve overall forest health, and where to do it.
But when the tool was used for a preliminary analysis in 2006, not everyone liked what it found, Botti said. The results showed which areas needed more resources and which needed less, throwing into uncertainty budgets used for staff programs and some administrative overhead, he said.
For instance, one recommendation was to move resources from coastal Alaska, where wildfires are relatively rare, to California, where they regularly wreak havoc in populated areas, Botti said.
"We're talking about a couple of billion dollars in federal wildland-fire funds here," he said. "Any time you tinker with that, it becomes political in a hurry. There was pushback from the bureaus that the answer was not acceptable.
Part of the problem turned out to be the presumption that a computer model could provide a sort of holy grail of fire management planning.
"Quite honestly, I don't think there was any plot" to scuttle the original system, he said.
But he agreed that people in Forest Service field offices feared -- and still fear -- a computer model that could deprive them of people and equipment.
Naaaah, nobody ever invests too much confidence in the pure and objective conclusions of comprehensive computer models!
But the failure of the computer modeling solution seems to me merely a scapegoat.
Asked how this year's fire outbreak might be different if the original FPA were in place as planned, Rideout said: "I think the responses to fire would be more cost-effective. I'm not sure whether we would have gotten to these fires any faster or later or better, or with less expense."
"More cost-effective" but not sure there would be "less expense?" How's that again?
Most officials seem to agree on the basic problem:
In 2008, the GAO reported to Congress that federal wildland-fire costs had tripled since the mid-1990s to more than $3 billion a year, citing three factors: "uncharacteristic accumulations of vegetation" from fire suppression; increasing human development in wildlands; and severe drought "in part due to climate change."
Setting aside the suggested causes for accumulations of vegetation and severe drought, both are clearly evident conditions. So why has the firefighting aircraft fleet been cut from 40 planes to 9? And why, during this period when the air fleet was dismantled, have federal wildland-fire costs tripled? Unfortunately, sometimes technology prevents the application of common sense: More potential for fire - expand fire mitigation and suppression resources. QED.
Fellow freedom advocates, do not panic. Step back from the ledge. By a single vote the Supreme Court has avoided a catastrophic expansion of the Commerce Clause. The rest, as they say, is politics. Including Chief Justice Roberts' ruling:
"If an individual does not maintain health insurance, the only consequence is that he must make an additional payment to the IRS when he pays his taxes," Roberts writes. He adds that this means "the mandate is not a legal command to buy insurance. Rather, it makes going without insurance just another thing the Government taxes, like buying gasoline or earning an income."
Hmmm, that's pretty thin Jim. The minority counters:
Justice Anthony Kennedy, usually the court's swing vote, dissented, reading from the bench that he and three conservative justices believe "the entire Act before us is invalid in its entirety." In a 65-page dissent, he and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dismissed Roberts' arguments, writing that there is a "mountain of evidence" that the mandate is not a tax. "To say that the Individual Mandate merely imposes a tax is not to interpret the statute but to rewrite it," they write.
Very persuasive. So my conclusion is that Roberts just didn't want to be villified as an "unelected emperor" who "took away America's free [unearned] health care." I agree with Yahoo News' Oliver Knox who writes-
But while Obama initially kept quiet, the early response from the law's main supporters and detractors showed that the court's ruling had essentially offered the Affordable Care Act only a reprieve, and that the law's fate was entwined with the results of the presidential election.
Finally, does anyone suppose that news outlets are falling all over themselves to get the "Obamacare Constitutional" message out as quickly as possible?
No mention of the name of that tenth justice.
UPDATE: As of 11:57 am EDT that headline has been changed to: Individual mandate survives a 5-4 vote with Roberts voting to keep it
According to blogger Sean Paige at the Monkey Wrenching America blog, a contract with Aero Union, a fire fighting company with seven 4-engine slurry bombers, was canceled during renewal negotiations in August, 2011. No reason was given, just "We dont want the airplanes, have a nice life." This brought the US Forest Service air tanker fleet down to 11 heavy aircraft, and today it's only 9. The report cites Rep. Dan Lundgren(R-CA) saying the fleet was 40 planes a decade ago.
This reminds me of that old lefty bumper sticker, "Wouldn't it be great if the Air Force had to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber?" Apparently, now they do.
I'd suggest pronouncing the title as three syllables, but it is of course up to the individual.
What is not up to the individual is accepting a falsehood just because it is repeated. Case in point is "the auto bailout was necessary and successful because there was no private capital available." Ergo, the government bailouts were a huge success. Administration flacks mean "there was no private capital stupid enough to overpay and preserve overpriced UAW labor rates and work rules." Now we get closer to the truth.
When people ask for a specific example of the President acting outside the Constitution, I go first to the auto bailout. The preferred debt holders were deprived of their Fifth Amendment right to property without due process as their value was transferred to a preferred political constituency that would not have enjoyed a preference in court.
James Sherk and Todd Zywicki have a superb guest editorial in the Wall Street Journal today: Obama's United Auto Workers Bailout. It details many things that went wrong: unequal treatment for debt holders, preservation of unsustainable labor costs -- but also the cost to the treasury. The entire piece is awesome on stilts, but this comparison at the end really hit home:
Instead, President Obama gave over $26 billion to the UAW--more money than the U.S spent on foreign aid last year and 50% more than NASA's budget. None of that money kept factories running. Instead it sustained the above-average compensation of members of an influential union, sparing them from most of the sacrifices typically made in bankruptcy. Such spending does not serve the common good. President Obama did not bail out the auto industry. He bailed out the United Auto Workers.
The problem is that many voters (myself included) don't think government jobs are just another sector. We want the number of housing and manufacturing jobs to keep growing--the more the merrier, all things being equal. We don't want the number government jobs to keep growing, in part because we pay for them without the assurances, offered in a competitive private economy, that we're getting our moneys worth or that the jobs are necessary at all. It's one thing to boost government jobs as a temporary stimulus measure. It's another thing to never let federal, state and local governments shrink to a more sustainable size. -- Mickey Kaus
This is all he does now. But hey, unlike those inbred monarchies with their dukes and marquesses and whatnot, at least he gets out among the masses. Why, in a typical week, youll find him at a fundraiser at George Clooney's home in Los Angeles with Barbra Streisand and Salma Hayek. These are people who are in touch with the needs of ordinary Americans because they have played ordinary Americans in several of their movies. And then only four days later the president was in New York for a fundraiser hosted by Ricky Martin, the only man on the planet whose evolution on gayness took longer than Obama's. It's true that moneyed celebrities in, say, Pocatello or Tuscaloosa have not been able to tempt the president to hold a lavish fundraiser in Idaho or Alabama, but he does fly over them once in a while. Why, only a week ago, he was on Air Force One accompanied by Jon Bon Jovi en route to a fundraiser called Barack on Broadway. -- Mark Steyn
I read 100 tweets on this and just assumed it was a gotcha moment. James Pethokoukis brings the embed and it is cut so abruptly I assumed some Koch-Brothers-funded hack had removed the entire context.
Indeed he or she did. The whole quote is 1000 times worse!
The truth of the matter is that, as I said, we created 4.3 million jobs over the last 27 months, over 800,000 just this year alone. The private sector is doing fine. Where we're seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government. Often times cuts initiated by, you know, Governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help that they have in the past from the federal government and who don't have the same kind of flexibility as the federal government in dealing with fewer revenues coming in.
That is not out of context -- the private sector is "fine" thanks to the Administration's bold and thoughtful policies! It's GOVERNMENT that is being starved!
Last week I wrote about the Denver Post's utter bewilderment that presidential candidate Mitt Romney would give a stump speech in rural Craig, Colorado (after all, there haven't been any layoffs there ... yet) and countered with the news coverage of the event by Routt County's Steamboat Today.
Today that much more objective publication runs an editorial by Rob Douglas that delves deeper into the contrast that Governor Romney is offering.
Agree or disagree with Obamas goal, one fact is undeniable. When Obamas intent became public, every man and woman working in coal-related jobs realized that Obama had placed a bulls-eye on their livelihood. Many of those men and women call the Yampa Valley home.
So when Romney sought the perfect venue to confront Obamas claim of an all-of-the-above energy policy, Northwest Colorado was a natural choice. Romney is calculating that he can increase his odds in November by siding with folks employed in fossil fuel industries in states like Colorado, Ohio and Pennsylvania all battleground states this year.
After all, Romney has a point when he argues that Obama has continued his war against coal.
This spring, having watched his cap-and-trade legislation die in the U.S. Senate when Democrats abandoned the bill in 2010, Obama bypassed Congress and used the Environmental Protection Agency to start implementing mercury emission, cross-state pollution and greenhouse gas regulations that will kill the coal industry.
But Douglas articulates a much more important message - one I have recognized but as yet not really written about: Coal is not the target. Pragmatic politicians cannot merely "sacrifice" the coal industry conifident in the fact that lost jobs will be replaced by growth in the natural gas industry. If coal is ever defeated the next environmental villain will be natural gas.
Coincidentally, on the same day Romney was speaking to the crowd gathered at Alice Pleasant Park in Craig, the Wall Street Journal reported that, according to the International Energy Agency, global exploitation of shale gas reserves could transform the worlds energy supply by lowering prices, improving security and curbing carbon dioxide emissions, but the industry might be stopped in its tracks if it doesnt work harder to resolve environmental concerns.
Of course, everything after the but in that last sentence is where the battle lies. Because as can be witnessed even here in the Yampa Valley, there are some who will never accept fossil fuels as part of Americas energy policy. And just as coal is under attack, these individuals and organizations are mounting battles to prohibit the use of fracking to extract oil and gas the same oil and gas that Americans have been led to believe could replace coal as an energy source.
And hydraulic fracturing is only the first battlefront in the coming War on Natural Gas. That little "feature" of natural gas called "curbing carbon dioxide emissions" will be its undoing for natural gas is not without CO2 emissions, and once its use has been predicated on reducing that "pollutant" it can hardly remain a viable energy source since it can also be shown to be a "dirty" fuel.
"First they came for the coal, and I said nothing."
WATCH YOUR MAILBOX!!!!
Just wanted to let you know - today I received my 2012 Social Security Stimulus Package.
It contained two tomato seeds, cornbread mix, a prayer rug, a machine to blow smoke up my butt, 2 discount coupons to KFC, an "Obama Hope & Change" bumper sticker, and a "Blame it on Bush" poster for the front yard.
It seems a long time since I have linked to Kim Strassel. I will remedy that today.
Administration surrogates are actively touting the President's "job creation" in the auto bailouts, ramping up "investments in green energy" and questioning Governor Romney's claims from Bain. It seems that he is not responsible for jobs at Staples after he left, yet he is vilified for the steelworkers who got laid off after he left. Whatever.
Strassel steps back to compare the President as Venture-Capitalist-in-Chief:
So, take your pick. Mr. Obama's knock on free enterprise is that it is driven by "profit," and that this experience makes Mr. Romney too heartless to be president. The alternative is an Obama capitalism that is driven by political favoritism, government subsidies, mandates, and billions in taxpayer underwriting--and that really is a path to bankruptcies and layoffs. If the president wants to put all 3,545 green stimulus jobs he's created up against Bain's record, he should feel free.
Reagan famously asked, "Are you better off than you were four years ago" to defeat incumbent President Jimmy Carter. Mitt is using a similar strategy against today's incumbent president. This graph shows why it might be a winning play. Substantially more people are at a diminished income than there were at any time in the last 50 years, and there's a long way to go back to the baseline.
That's the question dagny asked me at the conclusion of last night's inaugural Liberty on the Rocks, Flatirons Chapter meeting. I could do no better than my universal explanation for why so many people make so many bad choices, Ayn Rand's admonishment that, "Reason is not automatic. Those who deny its existence cannot be swayed by it."
David versus Goliath, the American Revolutionaries, "The Little Engine That Could," Team USAs "Miracle on Ice," the Star Wars Rebel Alliance, Rocky Balboa, the Jamaican bobsled team and the meek inheriting the Earth.
Everyone, it seems, loves an underdog. Why is that?
We begin life tiny and helpless, at the mercy of those who are bigger and more powerful than us: parents and guardians who tell us what to eat, what to wear, how to behave (even when to sleep and wake up). From childhood into adulthood, were told what to do by those who wield more powerour parents, teachers, bosses government. So naturally, we have a predisposition to resent the overdogs and root for the little guy.
But this tendency, which international political consultant and human rights activist Michael Prell calls underdogma, can be very dangerous both to America and to the world at large.
In Underdogma, Prell, who has worked world leaders including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Australian and Canadian prime ministers and the Dalai Lama, explores our love/hate relationship with power within our culture and our politics. Underdogma explains seeming mysteries such as why:
Almost half of Americans blamed President Bush for the attacks of 9/11, even while the American media described the architect of these attacks as thoughtful about his cause and craft and folksy.
Gays and lesbians protest those who protect gay rights (America, Israel), while championing those who outlaw and execute homosexuals (Palestine).
Environmentalists focus their rage on America, even though China is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases.
The United Nations elevates countries such as Sudan to full membership on the UNs Commission on Human Rights, even as the ethnic cleansing of Darfur proceeds.
Tracing the evolution of this belief system through human historyancient Greece to Marxism to the dawn of political correctnessPrell shows what continuing with this collective mindset means for our future. While America and its president increasingly exalt the meek and apologize for their power, Americas competitors and enemies are moving in a different direction. China is projected to overtake the U.S. economically by 2027 and is ready to move into the position of hegemon, and radical Islamists are looking to extend their global territory, taking any sign of weakness as a chance to attack.
America must return to its founding spirit, and underdogma must stop nowour nation depends on it.
This is a fascinating explanation that I'm inclined to take at face value until proven otherwise. However, I don't think I'm on board with the conclusion that underdogma "must stop now." I called this tendency healthy and will stand on that position. What must stop is allowing the Progressive left to continue casting the collective as underdog to the individual - any individual. Underdogma is a force that can and should be used for good. The notion that a gang, or state or interest group is less powerful than individual citizens is so preposterous that all can see it, if only some light is given.
It looks like a great book and could be an excellent topic at a future Liberty on the Rocks.
After all, if your first book is an exploration of racial identity and has the working title "Journeys In Black And White," being born in Hawaii doesn't really help. It's entirely irrelevant to the twin pillars of contemporary black grievance -- American slavery and European imperialism. To 99.99 percent of people, Hawaii is a luxury vacation destination and nothing else.
Whereas Kenya puts you at the heart of what, in an otherwise notably orderly decolonization process by the British, was a bitter and violent struggle against the white man's rule. Cool! The composite chicks dig it, and the literary agents. . . . In a post-modern America, the things that Gatsby attempted to fake -- an elite schooling -- Obama actually had; the things that Gatsby attempted to obscure -- the impoverished roots -- merely add to Obama's luster. Gatsby claimed to have gone to Oxford, but nobody knew him there because he never went; Obama had a million bucks' worth of elite education at Occidental, Columbia and Harvard Law, and still nobody knew him ("Fox News contacted some 400 of his classmates and found no one who remembered him"). In that sense, Obama out-Gatsbys Gatsby. -- Mark Steyn
Barack Obama, the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review, was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii. The son of an American anthropologist and a Kenyan finance minister, he attended Columbia University and worked as a financial journalist and editor for Business International Corporation. He served as project coordinator in Harlem for the New York Public Interest Research Group, and was Executive Director of the Developing Communities Project in Chicagos South Side. His commitment to social and racial issues will be evident in his first book, Journeys in Black and White.
After introducing the motto "Forward!" -- identical to slogans of Socialists of the past and present-- Obama rolled out an imaginary vision of Julia, in which the government is involved in all aspects of a person's life.
No need for virtual reality. There is a real-life timeline for an average person in a society where the government plans, regulates and provides free services for its citizens in countries past and present the USSR, Cuba, etc.
I personally lived that life in the former USSR until age 30. When my young family of three immigrated to the USA, my parents stayed behind. After botched medical procedures in a free hospital, my father screamed from pain for three days before he died at age 70.
Like President Obama, Russians also evolved on the gay rights issue. Homosexuality used to be outlawed in the Socialist Soviet Union. Today it is not a crime in Russia. Even so, facing an alarming decline in number of newborns and an eventual demographic disaster, they do not play with the redefinition of marriage.
Otherwise there's a lot in common among an Obama administration striving for total government involvement in people's lives, the communists of the former Soviet Union and modern Socialists in Russia.
On hearing of the death of the great French diplomat Talleyrand, his Austrian rival Metternich is reputed to have said: "What did he mean by that?" Perhaps we can be too cynical in assessing politicians' motives. And so maybe we should just give President Obama credit for doing the right thing in endorsing marriage equality, and leave it at that. -- David Boaz
Nakedly political, but my Facebook friends are in rapture. What do I do -- pick a fight?
After promising not to "spike the football" by "trot[ting] out this stuff [bin Laden's killing] as trophies" President Obama's re-election campaign is now spiking the football. Fair enough, I say. But the "game" of leader-of-the-free-world isn't over. China's fear-society now offers "quarterback" Obama a chance to score another touchdown.
"You must see to the bottom of this," the activist said. "Even though I am free, my family ... are still in their grasp. While I was there, they were repeatedly harmed. Now that I'm gone, I can only imagine how it has blown up."
Chen's rescue appears to have been timed to coincide with U.S.-China discussions on human rights this week. His case has attracted global attention.
It was easy enough for the President to say "yes" when his defense secretary told him, "We have found Osama bin Laden and planned an operation to capture or kill him. May we proceed?" Let's see if he has the loins to tell China, "Protect your citizens from their government."
Joel Kotkin has some harsh words for the governance of California -- and a warning to the Obama Administration for attempting to apply the model nationally.
From his first days in office, the president has held up California as a model state. In 2009, he praised its green-tinged energy policies as a blueprint for the nation. He staffed his administration with Californians like Energy Secretary Steve Chu--an open advocate of high energy prices whos lavished government funding on "green" dodos like solar-panel maker Solyndra, and luxury electric carmaker Fisker--and Commerce Secretary John Bryson, who thrived as CEO of a regulated utility which raised energy costs for millions of consumers, sometimes to finance "green" ideals.
Obama regularly asserts that green jobs will play a crucial role in the future of the American economy, but California, a trend-setter in the field, has yet to reap such benefits. Green jobs, broadly defined, make up only about 2 percent of jobs in the state--about the same proportion as in Texas. In Silicon Valley, the number of green jobs actually declined between 2003 and 2010. Meanwhile, California's unemployment rate of 10.9 percent is the nation's third highest, behind only Nevada and Rhode Island.
Kotkin is a treasure for his keen observations on urban life and modern migration patterns. Am I wrong in thinking this column unusually harsh in its criticism of the President?
Of course, when you get out of Brother Keith's house, they love him out there.
The IPO-lottery, Hollywood, and inherited-wealth crowds can afford the state's sky-high costs, especially along the coast, but most California businesses can't. Under Brown and his even less well-informed predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the official mantra has been that the states "creative" entrepreneurs would trigger a state revival. This is very much the hope of the administration, which trots out companies like Facebook, Apple, and Google as exemplars of the American future. "No part of America better represents America than here," the president told a crowd at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View last fall.
Quick follow-up on our great guest post on the 16th. A good friend of this blog, who works in the financial sector, disputed Secretary Geithner's claim of "profit" from TARP.
Now I see the claim has also been disputed by some right wing hack somewhere -- no, wait! It has been disputed by Christy Romero, the newly installed special inspector general for TARP.
Similar to her predecessor Neil Barofsky, Romero seems to be saying (indirectly, of course!) the Treasury Department -- and Geithner -- have been misleading the American public about the costs of TARP. While that's impossible to prove, there has been a concerted effort by Treasury to paint the program in the best possible light. (Reason.com has compiled a timeline of such statements, for those who want to check the record.)
My feeling all along is that Treasury has been cherry-picking the TARP data, focusing on the repayments vs. the loans still outstanding, much less the "soft" cost of the bailouts. It's like an investor who only talks about the stocks that have produced profits, ignoring the ones with losses.
A favorite TV show growing up was Lee Majors starring as the "Six-Million Dollar Man." After crashing the test flight of an experimental aircraft, Steve Austin was fitted with "bionics" that made him "better, stronger, faster." President Obama has been trying the same thing in America's energy market, with less success. Investors Ed Page says Obama Fought Oil and Lost; Now it's Back to Reality.
In other words, even a fast-forward to 23 years from now doesn't reveal an energy economy substantially different from today's. Obama has run up quite a price tag trying to deny this reality.
By one recent estimate from analysts sympathetic to the green-economy agenda, the government spent $110.3 billion in tax credits, loans and grants to promote the green economy from 2009 to 2011.
The Obama administration also has leaned against oil and toward the environmental lobby whenever the two were in conflict -- most notably in his decision to block the Keystone XL pipeline. What do we have as a result? High gasoline prices, a bigger federal deficit and not-ready-for-prime-time electric cars.
Energy is bound to be one of the key issues in this year's presidential election, and for once the question won't be about managing scarcity. It will be about how to take advantage of the abundant resources under our feet. Barack Obama fought oil and lost, and the next president can learn from his mistake.
I think I have been pretty subdued for three years. President Obama's politics are orthogonal to mine and we have substantive philosophical differences. Yet, I worked especially hard to avoid "Obama Derangement Syndrome" that so consumed -- mutatis mutandis -- my lefty friends during the last administration.
I kept out of the birther pool and tried to extend the benefit of the doubt on all but his most egregious oversteps. But if he is going to be all-campaign, all the time, I will express my views forthrightly. All in?
First, I want to point out a major league "get" for PJ Media. David P. Goldman is a frequent Kudlow guest where he shares his views on business, broad economics and markets. I was unaware of his book How Civilizations Die (and Islam is dying too), columns, or really any of his other fields of expertise. He now has a regular PJ Media blog called Spengler to which I look forward.
Yesterday's post rekindled an unease I felt reading the President's first autobiography. (Jeeberz, I am over 50 and haven't even written one -- what the hell is the matter with me?) I put it down to partisan hackery on my part, but Goldman's column brings it back in the context of the hilarious dog-eating contretemps. Goldman points out that he identifies with the dog eaters. The Third World is his world and the nation he leads is the villain.
Obama is the son of a Kenyan Muslim father, the stepson of an Indonesian Muslim, and the child, most of all, of an American anthropologist who devoted her career to protecting Indonesian traditional life against the depredations of the global marketplace. Her doctoral dissertation, "Peasant blacksmithing in Indonesia: surviving against all odds," celebrated traditional cultures hanging on desperately in the face of the global economic marketplace.
Ms. Dunham was not only a Communist fellow-traveler, but the sort of 1960s woman who (as we used to say) "put her body on the line," first by marrying two Third World men, and then by spending her career in the Third World. It is no surprise that Obama considers the Third World morally superior to the United States.
Strong stuff and he does not lighten up much after that. Had I not seen his sobriety many nights on Kudlow, I might dismiss him as some "talk show" host grabbing notice.
OR: had I not read "Dreams From my Father." I got a different vibe of Mom than Goldman, but was consumed with young Barry's constant rejection of people and institutions that were good to him, in favor of those that were not. I thought him actually manufacturing grievance for authenticity.
He makes fun of Romney now saying that, unlike the Governor, he did not grow up with a silver spoon. But the DFMF tale is not one of poverty and deprivation. He grows up in Hawaii, attending private schools. His mother, grandparents, and teachers are completely kind, He is in Indonesia, not as a penniless beggar, but as the stepson of a successful businessman who is affectionate and caring, and the child of a college professor. On to Harvard where every avenue is open to ensure his success. A plum Law Career assignment. Et freaking cetera. Yet, boo hoo, Barry has to find the disaffected black youth in Hawaii, run to Africa to chase a vacant and generally corrupt father, leave the corporate world to stir up trouble for the established order in Chicago.
We know how it all ends. But Goldman is dead right, if a bit impolitic:
It really isn't unfair at all to bring Obama's canine consumption to public attention. The president isn't really one of us. He's a dog-eater. He tells the story in his memoir to emphasize that viscerally, Obama identifies with the Third World of his upbringing more than with the America of his adulthood. It is our great misfortune to have a president who dislikes our country at this juncture in our history.
When we donate money to a charity, church or some other worthy cause, we are allowed a tax deduction, which means the government gets less of our money. The president and many in his party keep telling us that the government needs more money, but if they believe this, why are they taking charitable deductions? I expect the reason is that most of us implicitly believe (for good empirical reasons) that private charities and other tax-exempt groups spend our money more wisely and carefully than the government. -- Richard Rahn
It took me a second to catch on, but I saw this last night and laughed myself into physical pain. The good fans of Washington DC created this special welcome for Boston Goaltender Tim Thomas:
For those keeping score: I love Thomas as a goaltender, except that he might be better than my hero, Ken Dryden. I fulsomely respect his Tea Party views but think he was wrong to decline a White House invitation.
I ask the eternal internal question: "What if President George W Bush had said that?"
Yesterday Barack Obama addressed the Summit of the Americas in Colombia and spoke about the conflict between the United Kingdom and Argentina over the Falklands. Obama seemed to tilt toward Argentina by calling the islands the "Malvinas" rather than the Falklands, which Argentina insists is their proper name.
Only Obama didn't say Malvinas, he said Maldives--an entirely different group of islands located thousands of miles from the Falklands in the Indian Ocean:
I always ask, but I never got an answer -- until today. John Hinderaker finds a Telegraph article that uses the malapropism to take a whack at . . . President Bush:
Barack Obama made an uncharacteristic error, more akin to those of his predecessor George W Bush, by referring to the Falkland Islands as the Maldives.
That stupid George Bush -- I can't believe he made President Obama say that!
Roosevelt, after whom Obama fashions himself, read the Constitution as empowering government in ways that had been largely rejected for 150 years. That's why those on Obama's side invariably begin their arguments with "Since the New Deal," as if that were a source of legitimacy. It isn't. The Constitution was written in 1787, not 1937. As amended, it is the sole source of whatever legitimacy the government has, and it is the duty of the courts to determine what that law is, in the execution of which they must be actively engaged. -- Roger Pilon
"So these investments -- in things like education and research and health care -- they haven't been made as some grand scheme to redistribute wealth from one group to another," the president said today at Florida Atlantic University. "This is not some socialist dream," Obama added, as he called for tax increases on millionaires today to pay for those investments.
"The president is dangerously close to totalitarianism,"
So says libertarian ex-jurist Andrew Napolitano. And the IBD Editorial Page is inclined to agree.
The whole thrust has been the acquisition of power by the federal government centered on the White House. That is the theme of ObamaCare, which is not about health care but about making people as dependent on government benevolence, if we can use that word, as possible.
Those who stand in the way, whether it be the Supreme Court, Congress or institutions such as the Catholic Church, are to be either ignored when possible, or intimidated and bullied into silence and acquiescence in the proud tradition of President Obama's mentor, Saul Alinsky.
What is at stake here is freedom and whether we shall be governed by a document that begins with "we the people" or whether we shall be ruled, in totalitarian fashion, by a bill that says "the secretary shall determine" what our rights and freedoms are.
I recall my apolitical Texas cousin being bewildered by my warnings of Barack Obama's principles and ambitions prior to the 2008 election. "You're crazy" she said, when I told her he intended to become Robin Hood in the White House, and worse. Last month we had occasion to meet again. She now seems to have accepted that I wasn't just whistling Dixie. Neither is Judge Napolitano.
There has been a lot of talk about women and women's issues lately -- President Obama
Yes, all of the talk has been orchestrated by . . . the White House. It's sort of like a mobster walking into a shop and deliberately knocking over all the glassware and crystal. "Say, there's been a lot of talk about crime in this neighborhood . . ." -- Jonah Goldberg [subscribe]
The I-word is about to come out of the shadows, and into the full light of day. Investors:
Minutes from the Federal Reserve's last meeting show the central bank has all but abandoned plans for another round of quantitative easing.
It's now clear the Fed is more worried about inflation than recession.
Other notable nuggets-
Net interest expense will triple to an all-time high of $554 billion from $185 billion, Treasury says, meaning we'll pay more to service our debt than to protect our nation. The defense budget stands at $525 billion.
The reversal in interest rates makes defusing the Obama debt bomb through real budget cuts even more urgent than it already is.
The federal debt so far has not been the political liability that it could be for Obama in his bid for re-election.
But if interest rates rise at an even faster clip as he heads into November, the issue could blow up in his face. As his South Side reverend once famously said, the chickens are coming home to roost.
While the United Mine Workers of America likely wont actively oppose President Obamas reelection bid, Roberts said the new EPA regulation could prevent the union from endorsing the president.
Thats something that we have not done yet and may not do because of this very reason. Our peoples jobs are on the line, Roberts said, adding that Obama has done a lot of great things for the country.
Roberts's [sic] comments underscore the vehement opposition to the new EPA regulations in coal states whose economies rely heavily on the fossil fuel.
I also really enjoyed this quote:
Roberts, in Tuesdays interview with host Hoppy Kercheval, took aim at the Sierra Club, arguing the environmental groups campaign to shut down coal plants is killing jobs.
This is a broader problem for me than it is for the Sierra Club or the EPA, Roberts said. And Im convinced, Hoppy, that if you give the Sierra Club enough money, they could shut your job down. I dont know how theyd do it, but theyd figure out a way.
I'm ready to give the President something of a pass on this, as there is probably no great alternative. I don't think a fiery, Sharansky-esque, appeal to universal freedom is in his repertoire. And I'm jaded enough these days to wonder if that would do any good.
And yet: "Obama: N. Korean rocket test would isolate regime"
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- Warning North Korea from its doorstep, President Barack Obama said Pyongyang risks deepening its isolation in the international community if it proceeds with a planned long-range rocket launch.
Anyway, when Joe Biden says with all of that earnest, canned seriousness, that the bin Laden raid was the most audacious military operation in 500 years, he does himself and his cause enormous damage. [...]
In other words Biden's claims so outstrip reality, we're lucky he doesn't tear a hole in the space-time continuum. If he was just a bit more humble, a bit more reasonable, a bit more sane, he could actually use the bin Laden success to his advantage. Instead, by making claims about it no sane or honest person can support he sounds desperate and fritters away the actual political value of the operation's success. -- Jonah Goldberg [subscribe]
I knew President Hayes, Rutherford B was a friend of mine...
And Obama is no Rutherford B. Hayes...
My Buffy Sire, Jonathan V. Last, wraps up Rutherford-gate and ties it with a pretty bow. Our 19th President deserved better.
Think about that for a moment: The most important speechwriters in the world are doing their research not by calling experts, but by picking off the first Google results page. Now think about what that says about the man for whom they write.
Second, there's Obamas dismissal of Hayes' presidency because "he's not on Mount Rushmore." You know who else wasn't included on Mount Rushmore? John Adams. James Madison. James Monroe. Andrew Jackson. They were great men who nourished the tree of liberty with their lives. Perhaps Obama has heard of some of them.
UPDATE: 19th! Not 18th (since corrected). Damn, I pride myself on knowing those but I counted sloppily.
Charlie Gasparino has had something of an epiphany himself. He used to appear on "Kudlow & Cramer" as a guest and WSJ writer. And I always felt he tilted distinctly left. Now he's got a gig at evil Rupert's NYPost and I see constant reminders that he is coming around to the forces of goodness and light.
He reports -- though GE spokespersons deny -- that soi disant Republican and current Obama advisor Jeffrey Immelt is a bit disenchanted,
Friends describe Immelt as privately dismayed that, even after three years on the job, President Obama hasnt moved to the center, but instead further left. The GE CEO, I'm told, is appalled by everything from the president's class-warfare rhetoric to his continued belief that big government is the key to economic salvation.
Or, as one friend recently put it to me, "Jeff thought he could make a difference, and now realizes he couldn't."
Immelt's conversion from public Obama supporter to a private detractor is important: It shows how even businessmen who feast off his subsidies worry about his overall economic agenda and its long-term impact on the economy.
Dude. If you can't even keep the cronies happy...
UPDATE: Gasparino is at the NYPost, not the Washington Examiner (since corrected) ThreeSources apologizes for the error.
But obviously Rutherford B. Hayes isnt as "forward-looking" as a 21st-century president who believes in Jimmy Carter malaise, 1970s Eurostatist industrial policy, 1940s British health-care reforms, 1930s New Deal-sized entitlements premised on mid-20th-century birth rates and life expectancy, and all paid for by a budget with more zeroes than anybody's seen since the Weimar Republic. If that's not a shoo-in for Mount Rushmore, I don't know what is. -- Mark Steyn
Discussions such as this make it clear that none of us are quick to use the word "accomplishment" in any retrospective of the Obama Administration. But there is another opinion, perhaps best represented by the Davis Guggenheim swoon-fest named 'The Road We've Traveled.' To wit:
Filmmaker Davis Guggenheim told CNN last week his only regret was he had only 17 minutes to discuss Obama's accomplishments. He cited health care, the stimulus and other economic initiatives in the face of a tough "political climate" facing near-united Republican opposition.
"The challenge for me is I wanted to put more in there, I really did," Guggenheim said. "I'm really quite in awe of him as a leader."
Another example is currently on display in the halls of a Colorado charter school. I will take great pains here to preserve the anonymity of the 5th grade author but I am compelled to publicize the content, verbatim. [Original text was computer printer output, on three pages.] President Obama's "accomplishments" are enumerated on page 2. I will editorialize in advance: Are there no parents? Are there no teachers? Will this receive a grade or just a gold-star for "participation?" As I said, verbatim.
Barack Obama was born on August 4, 1961. Obama went to many different schools but his first school was Francisus Asissi Primary
school. Barack Obama now is our president. He has been our president for four years. He became our president on August 5, 2008.
Obama loves playing basketball and he is very good at it. I really like him as a president and hope he comes back for four more years.
Obama has lots of family. Barack Obama's parents both died but his dad died in 1982 in a car accident. His mother died in 1995 by
breast cancer. Barack was raised by a non-African American mom and since his mom died he had to be raised by his non-African
American grandparents. Obama is now raising a wonderful family a wife Michelle,a 13 year old daughter named Malia,and a 10 year old
daughter named Natasha (Sasha).
While Obama was in his office he accomplished a lot of things. He had doubled the national debt. Barack joined the country of Mexico
and sued a state in the United States. Barack Obama gave the Queen of england an iPod and it had all of Obamas speechs on it.
Barack has bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia. These are some of the things Barack Obama accomplished. Obama is a great president. I wish he could be president every single year.
Obama has done many good and important things to the United States. He is making our country safe from danger. Barck obama has
made the U.S. feel safe and happy. He changed our health care system so everyone will be happy. ["happy" crossed out by hand and replaced with "healthy."] Barack has been a very good
president. Obama has been a very good person to our country.
Barack Obama's nickname in basketball is "O-Bomber." His first name means "one who is blessed." Obama's favorite meal is his wife
Michelle's shrimp linguine. He has read every single word in the Harry Potter series. Barack owns a pair of red boxing gloves autographed
by Muhammad Ali.
Obama's favorite snack is chocolate, peanut protein bars. While he was living in Indonesia he ate dog meat, snake meat, and roasted
grasshoppers. Although he has since quit, Obama used to smoke cigarettes. When he lived in Indonesia his pet was an ape named Tata.
As a teenager obama took drugs including marijuana and cocaine.
The quote cited by Obama does exist on the Internet, but we would expect the White House staff to do better research than that. -- WaPo Fact Checker, Glenn Kessler, actually and oddly enough, checking a fact.
Like myself, Boulder's [Democrat] District Attorney Stan Garnett doesn't understand why the Obama Justice Department is so tough on the medical marijuana business. After all, aren't Democrats and weed activists fellow travelers? And, perhaps because I had dinner with the man 12 days ago (well, actually, different tables in the same Boulder burger joint) I agree verbatim with General Garnett on this sentence from his letter to United States Attorney John Walsh:
"The people of Boulder County do not need Washington, D.C., or the federal government dictating ..." WAIT! Stop right there.
But he continued, "how far dispensaries should be from schools or other fine points of local land use law," Garnett wrote.
I don't think Garnett helped his effort by suggesting what the US Attorney's priorities should be, but that probably won't be what makes or breaks the G-Men's "prosecutorial discretion."
In the "things that make you say, hmmm" department: The article also says that Boulder has an estimated 12 dispensaries within 1000 feet of a school.
You'll be surprised to hear that I did not buy into "Hope & Change" in 2008. It was clear to me who Senator Obama was. The question was whether he would govern pragmatically to help his reelection and legacy prospects, or whether he would follow ideology.
The Keystone Pipeline demurral and green energy initiatives answer the question. Clinton's pragmatic compromises and cooption of GOP ideas cemented his popularity and legacy. I don't think he would have dropped the ball on domestic production as President Obama has.
Either could make a symbolic stand against offshore or ANWR to buy off the base, but allow production to ramp up everywhere else. Beyond gas prices, energy production would provide jobs, stimulate capital investment, pour cash into the Treasury, and help outside the sector with support services and cheaper energy. Is the President not "cutting off his nose to spite his face" as it were?
Week after week, [White House economic adviser Christina] Romer would march in with an estimate of the jobs all the investments in clean energy would produce; week after week, Obama would send her back to check the numbers. "I dont get it," he'd say. "We make these large-scale investments in infrastructure. What do you mean, there are no jobs?" But the numbers rarely budged.
Click through for a lesson on the powerful economic gains our country could make with a pro-production strategy.
Showing his keen grasp of free market forces, Obama has ordered Justice officials to investigate oil speculation. Of course, there's oil speculation. It's called the futures market. And watching Obama's policies instead of his words, those experts see higher prices coming ahead, as do most Americans in the poll.
When taking office, Energy Secy. Stephen Chu expressed a desire to drive U.S. gas prices to the European levels of $8-$9 a gallon, much like taxation on cigarettes to discourage their use. This administration has achieved more than half that European goal already.
And voters are taking note:
A new Washington Post-ABC News Poll this week finds about two-out-of-three Americans now disapprove of the Chicago Democrat's job on gas prices, whatever that's been.
Maybe if he started reminding them he "killed bin Laden..."
And what, if someone doesn't agree with Obama's plan, they're not earning their place as an American? If someone doesn't agree to send more tax money to a free-spending, inefficient central government running record deficits as far as the eye can see, they're somehow leeching off Uncle Sam? Being Treasury secretary is a privilege, one earned by pushing policies that keep America prosperous and solvent--even in an election year. -- James Pethokoukis, The Economic illiteracy of Tim Geithner
(Jeopardy champion should know that "someone" is singular, but the rest of the post rocks.)
This does not mean, as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said earlier this week, that Buffett "should just write a check and shut up." It's a free country, and Buffett's recommendations should ultimately be weighed on their own merits.
But on that score, it's worth noting that Buffett has profited one hell of a lot more than the country that was supposed to benefit from all these Buffett-approved bailouts and stimuli. He gets billions; we get a big coulda-been-worse! Meanwhile, even the sitting treasury secretary acknowledges that the country's fiscal trajectory is "unsustainable," with no solution in sight to the bailout-exacerbated problems of debt and entitlement-commitments. -- Matt Welch
One. He has one. <BenSteinVoice>Reid? Reid?</BenSteinVoice>
Two. Cheapening the currency. Not to be confused with monetizing the debt, he saves money by using cheaper materials to make nickles and pennies. I'd nuke them and round everything to a dime -- but it's a start.
Obama wants to change the composition of nickels and pennies to save money. The president's budget would give the Treasury Department the ability to "change the composition of coins to more cost-effective materials," pointing out the current cost of making the penny is 2.4 cents and the nickel is 11.2 cents. Of course, the value of the U.S. dollar isn't pegged to the materials that it's composed of, but it's still a compelling argument on its face. The composition of U.S. coins hasn't changed since 1981, the Wall Street Journal notes, while major components like zinc have become more expensive. Industry lobbyists stalled the proposal when Obama brought it up in 2010, but it may have new appeal to the frugally-minded.
"Immaculate Contraception" is Dan Henninger's line at the WSJ. I give him the full ten points for that bon mot.
I assume we have not discussed this much because it is perhaps too stupid. I just can't get my head around "the compromise." Neither, it seems, can Prof Greg Mankiw:
A. An employer is required to provide its employees health insurance that covers birth control.
B. An employer is required to provide its employees health insurance. The health insurance company is required to cover birth control.
I can understand someone endorsing both A and B, and I can understand someone rejecting both A and B. But I cannot understand someone rejecting A and embracing B, because they are effectively the same policy.
"Oh give me a break," Steyn said on Hugh Hewitt's radio show on Thursday night. "For a start, when he says, 'I am my brother's keeper,' his brother is back in Kenya living on $12 a year. That's what he was living on at the time of the 2008 election. So all the president has to do in terms of shared responsibility is put a $10 bill in an envelope and mail it to Nairobi or Mombasa or wherever and he will double his brother's salary."
"This version of shared responsibility means the state should be your 'brother's keeper.' And this is the point for the Catholic Church. Separation of church and state is one thing, but big government means the state as church, the sole legitimate source of moral authority whether it's on contraception or gay marriage or abortion or any of the rest. And that's what you see in Europe. Big government drives out other sources of moral authority."
How would you feel if aides to the president of the United States singled you out by name for attack, and if you were featured prominently in the president's re-election campaign as an enemy of the people?
Me? Great, but I get your point, Ted.
What would you do if the White House engaged in derogatory speculative innuendo about the integrity of your tax returns? Suppose also that the president's surrogates and allies in the media regularly attacked you, sullied your reputation and questioned your integrity. On top of all of that, what if a leading member of the president's party in Congress demanded your appearance before a congressional committee this week so that you could be interrogated about the Keystone XL oil pipeline project in which you have repeatedly--and accurately--stated that you have no involvement?
Consider that all this is happening because you have been selected as an attractive political punching bag by the president's re-election team. This is precisely what has happened to Charles and David Koch, even though they are private citizens, and neither is a candidate for the presidents or anyone else's office.
Now, Buffett's hypocrisy on taxes is well known to readers of these pages: He decries the fact that rich investors like him get taxed mainly at the lower capital-gains rate of 15 percent. Yet he made his vast fortune enjoying that favorable treatment, and largely kept his mouth shut until now, as he nears the end of his long career. Plus, he plans to use a charitable trust to further shield much of his income from taxes.
Much less has been said about Buffett's unsaintly investment record. I won't bore you with every gory detail of his questionable associations, which include no-lose investments in Goldman Sachs and General Electric just before the companies received massive federal aid during the financial crisis.
But other items really take the shine off St. Warren's halo -- like his insistence that the ratings agencies didn't play a key role in setting up the 2008 financial meltdown.
I love how he advocates higher estate taxes and sells Insurance to avoid them. If they don't buy it, then Berkshire-Hathaway buys the family business from distraught heirs who can't afford the tax at fire sale prices.
The one major accomplishment of Barack Obama has been to bring a sudden and abrupt end the people's ability to tolerate this tacitly understood game between the two major Parties.
All the other challengers were easily eliminated or made irrelevant, as they did not have the money or experience of knowing how the game is played, but Newt refused to just slink away. Never has the Republican Establishment trained its guns on any one candidate in such an unbridled and unrestrained way.
Perhaps Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum or Ron Paul are not the right candidates to face Barack Obama, but that decision should be up to the voters. While it maybe the role of the conservative pundit class to proffer their opinions of the various candidates, it is not the role of the overall Establishment to so marginalize candidates that there appears to be only one viable alternative.
The Establishment could not have made a more strategic blunder. They will, in all likelihood, succeed in securing the nomination for Mitt Romney, but the damage they have inflicted upon themselves is approaching irreversible. The public now sees the length to which the Establishment will go to make certain their hand-picked candidate is chosen regardless of the dire circumstances facing the nation.
After watching a large part of this David Stockman interview with Bill Moyers I'm about ready to adopt the dirty hippies #Occupy meme. When they villified "Wall Street" and "Greedy Corporations" I always had a mental image of Fidelity Investments and WalMart. But if I replace that with Goldman Sachs and General Electric I think we would agree on more than we differ.
This also magnifies my distrust of the GOP establishment and, by association, the Romney candidacy.
Thousands of loggers lost their jobs in the American Northwest because of dubious claims about wiping out the last of the spotted owls. This is just one example of environmental extremists' non-linear cost benefit analysis doing irreparable harm to the livelihoods of American workers.
The latest glaring example of this is TransCanada Corporation's Keystone XL Pipeline project. Despite the safety record showing pipelines to be the "safest, most efficient and economical way" to move the natural resource called crude oil, environmental activists have chosen spill hazards as the primary reason to oppose private construction of the new pipeline. But America is already criss-crossed by 55,000 miles of oil pipelines, many of which are small, old and in disrepair. And the spill rate [pg. 9] for those lines is 0.00109 incidents (spill of 50 bbl or more) per mile per year. That calculates to 60 spills every year. The estimated spill rate for the modern new Keystone XL [pg. 10] is 0.186 spills per year, anywhere over its entire 1371 mile length. (.000136 incidents per mile per year)
So the question every American voter should ask himself is, would I quit my job and ask 19,999 of my neighbors to quit theirs in order to avoid increasing the pipeline spill incident rate by 0.3 percent? (And have you even noticed any of the sixty-odd spills that already happen each year?)
No feature of the Obama presidency has been sadder than its constant efforts to divide us, to curry favor with some Americans by castigating others.
As in previous moments of national danger, we Americans are all in the same boat. If we drift, quarreling and paralyzed, over a Niagara of debt, we will all suffer, regardless of income, race, gender, or other category. If we fail to shift to a pro-jobs, pro- growth economic policy, there'll never be enough public revenue to pay for our safety net, national security, or whatever size government we decide to have.
As a loyal opposition, who put patriotism and national success ahead of party or ideology or any self-interest, we say that anyone who will join us in the cause of growth and solvency is our ally, and our friend. We will speak the language of unity. Let us rebuild our finances, and the safety net, and reopen the door to the stairway upward; any other disagreements we may have can wait.
The speech itself was excellent, and the delivery by Indiana's Governor Daniels had the added benefit of making Mitt Romney sound, by comparison, like a dynamo.
The establishment GOP punditry has been dutifully besmirching Newt Gingrich as "radical" and "erratic." Too much so, they say, to be elected president much less hold the office. But what about the other guy? IBD's editorial page appreciates the way that Newt goes about reminding the media, and the voters, who that guy in the Oval Office really is.
Alinsky's radicalism despises capitalism, entrepreneurship, individualism and, most of all, American exceptionalism. It is the genesis of Obama's demonization of the successful and his passion for the redistribution but not the creation of wealth. It's at the heart of his ongoing apology tour where he tells the world we are sorry for acting like we are mankind's last best hope for mankind, a belief Newt Gingrich shares with President Ronald Reagan.
Obama's is the belief system that Newt Gingrich told NBC's David Gregory, "is fundamentally different from probably 80% of this country." That would be a comfortable electoral majority, would it not? Does Mitt Romney even know how to pronounce "Alinsky?"
Heh. Makes me think of Tiananmen Square! The Boston Bruins were honored with a White House reception today marking the occasion of their Stanley Cup victory last season. The team's players were in attendance, except one.
Nearly every other member of the Bruins was at the ceremony, where President Obama congratulated the team on its victory. Thomas is a staunch conservative and is expected to explain his snub of the president on his Facebook page this evening.
I like to stay out of this game, but this is insane. Thou shalt not say anything bad about FLOTUS.
A baldly racist depiction of First Lady Michelle Obama that appeared Tuesday on a right-wing website is based on a 1775 portrait of Marie Antoinette by Jean-Baptiste André Gautier-Dagoty (1740-1786). The full-length painting hangs outside Paris in the Palace of Versailles.
And who you calling baldy? Seriously, to suggest this parody is badly or baldy racist is off the deep end.
Mr. Obama is claiming an open-ended authority to determine that the Senate is in recess, despite that body's own judgment and the factual realities. That is an astonishing and, so far as we can tell, unprecedented power grab. -- David B. Rivkin, Jr. and Lee A. Casey
[Instapundit] Reader Marian Booker writes: "A group of people organized by True The Vote in Houston went to Austin to shine light on the need for photo ID in voting, on the day of Eric Holder's speech. One speaker noted the irony of declaring photo ID to be too onerous a burden in the voting booth, but that photo ID was required to get into the building where Eric Holder was speaking against requiring photo ID. I picked the wrong day to stop sniffing glue!"
Whoops, I hope moveon-dot-org doesn't find out about this.
Barbara Walters, ABC News: "Mrs. Obama, you've recently said something that I thought was very interesting for other women to hear. You said 'you put your own self highest on your priority list.' That sounds selfish?"
Michelle Obama: "No, no, it's practical. It's something that I found I needed to do for quite some time, even before the presidency. And I found it other women, in similar situated balancing career family, trying to do it all and a lot of times we just slip pretty low on our own priority list because we're so busy caring for everyone else. And one of the things that I want to model for my girls is investing in themselves as much as they invest in others."
Yes, Michelle, it is selfish. What it is not is a shameful act. The next thing you know you'll be saying people should pay their own way. Baby steps.
Jim Treacher institutes a caption contest for the Obama's Christmas Photo. (And starts it off with the humorous "But I do think, at a certain point, you've got enough presents.")
But I think it is a charming picture and will set aside my fulsome disagreement with all of the President's economic policies to salute his darling children and revel that my life has seen the progress from segregated drinking fountains to an African American President. Yes, I wish it had been Secretary Rice, but Merry Christmas.
ATF's group supervisor on Fast and Furious David Voth assures the gun dealer there's nothing to worry about. "We (ATF) are continually monitoring these suspects using a variety of investigative techniques which I cannot go into detail."
Two months later, the same gun dealer grew more agitated.
"I wanted to make sure that none of the firearms that were sold per our conversation with you and various ATF agents could or would ever end up south of the border or in the hands of the bad guys. I guess I am looking for a bit of reassurance that the guns are not getting south or in the wrong hands...I want to help ATF with its investigation but not at the risk of agents (sic) safety because I have some very close friends that are US Border Patrol agents in southern AZ as well as my concern for all the agents (sic) safety that protect our country."
"It's like ATF created or added to the problem so they could be the solution to it and pat themselves on the back," says one law enforcement source familiar with the facts. "It's a circular way of thinking."
For his part, Attorney General Holder says, "We do not know who the particular person was" who decided that "this flawed operation should be conducted."
Well brothers and sisters, I have just read the president's Osawatomie speech, almost in its entireity. Those of us who wondered how he thought he could win re-election can see the answer in this speech. It is a brilliantly deceptive blueprint for a bait-and-switch shell game on the American people.
I actually agreed with most of what he said in the opening, right up until "I am here to say they are wrong" which I would replace with "I am here to say that I am wrong." This comes right after the following passage:
But, Osawatomie, this is not just another political debate. This is the defining issue of our time. This is a make-or-break moment for the middle class, and for all those who are fighting to get into the middle class. Because what's at stake is whether this will be a country where working people can earn enough to raise a family, build a modest savings, own a home, secure their retirement.
Now, in the midst of this debate, there are some who seem to be suffering from a kind of collective amnesia. After all that's happened, after the worst economic crisis, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, they want to return to the same practices that got us into this mess. In fact, they want to go back to the same policies that stacked the deck against middle-class Americans for way too many years. And their philosophy is simple: We are better off when everybody is left to fend for themselves and play by their own rules.
Yes, Mister President, you are advocating a return to exactly the same practices that got us into this mess: Ever higher taxation, goverment spending more and more of our GDP, greater burdens on private businesses, further layers of coverage mandates for health insurers, interference with supply and demand in higher education which drives costs through the roof and causes shortages of trained blue-collar workers - in short, making life and business more expensive in America and driving jobs overseas. There really is a grave threat to the existence of the American middle class: You, and the repackaged, recycled, and retreaded egalitarian values you seek to "reclaim" demand.
An honest review of history shows us that such wealth-sharing demands - not, as you claim, free market capitalism - have failed to produce economic prosperity. Every, single, time. Free market capitalism has never been allowed more than enough rope with which to hang itself.
UPDATE: IBD Ed Page refutes the top five lies from Obama's Osawatomie speech.
Since hearing soundbites of President Obama's "I'm channeling Theodore Roosevelt" speech yesterday I've wanted to deconstruct one or more of his specious points in a blog post. Before I could do so, Wichita Wordsmith Bud Norman beat me to it. And unlike his evaluation of candidate Newt Gingrich, he has a definitive conclusion this time.
Obamas favorite straw men were once again eviscerated with all the gusto of John Brown swinging a saber at some pro-slavers. He accused his Republican opposition of wanting to return to the same practices that got us into this mess, as if they were all clamoring for the government-enforced subprime lending and exorbitant deficit spending. He characterized the Republican philosophy as We are better off when everybody is left to fend for themselves and play by their own rules, which strikes us as an unfairly simplified description, although we must admit it is still a more attractive option that relying on Obama to care for us and playing by his rules.
Just one of many delightful paragraphs, and I'll leave the ending for you as a surprise.
Is it too early to nominate Bud's Central Standard Times for promotion to the blogroll? I'm not sure I could have given the subject such sublime treatment. Indeed, I'd be tempted merely to stoop to a lowly video example of Obama's America.
IBD has a $10 world, trading at about 10.125 as I type...
To hear Barack Obama describe the latest fiscal impasse in Washington, the poor guy is totally helpless dealing with this congressional crowd of hebetudinous laggards.
He gave them his plan to cut the budget while spending more. He's rigidly sticking with it, which is principled. And both sides in Congress are rigidly sticking with their plans, which is stubborn. Except, come to think of it, there wasn't a real Democratic plan. All they did was not like the Republican ones.
Congratulations, Average American! says Jonah Goldberg:
Being the root cause of our dire national predicament puts you in some very august company indeed. You are joining the ranks of George W. Bush, the Japanese tsunami, the Arab Spring, Wall Street fat cats, and other luminaries, both living and merely anthropomorphized.
The Obama administration urged officers of the struggling solar company Solyndra to postpone announcing planned layoffs until after the November 2010 midterm elections, newly released e-mails show. -- WaPo
My friends assure me they are tired of hearing "If President Bush had done this..."
Which brings us to this week's campaign appearances. The topic was infrastructure. In Las Vegas on Monday, Mr. Obama called for "funding to rebuild our roads and our bridges and our airports." At a Los Angeles fund-raiser on Tuesday, the president was more expansive, saying "Let's get construction workers . . . and let's put them back on the job rebuilding our roads and our bridges and our hospitals and our schools." By week's end, Mr. Obama could be promising to rebuild corner gas stations and ugly backyard storage sheds in swing states. -- Evil genius architect Karl Rove
As it was unleashed in my hometown, it would be churlish of me to not comment on President Obama's new program to help energize his moribund youth base students racked with crippling debt.
But I am a partisan hack and nobody would expect me to give the program an objective review. So, lets go to The Atlantic -- yeah, they'll be fair, they all voted for him. Well, maybe not Fat Cat Big City Banker David Indiviglio.
Of the many long-term problems the U.S. economy faces, student loans are a big one. Education costs are rising very quickly and incomes aren't. As a result, students will have to borrow more and more money to obtain university degrees and will have a tougher time paying their loans. President Obama seeks to respond to this question with an executive order in the next part of his "We Can't Wait" unilateral stimulus effort. While the president's heart may be in the right place, his effort isn't like to have much impact.
[Spoiler alert] Indiviglio says it will be $4 to $8 for most. Hey, I can have a McRib!
Now that I have been fair The news showed many clips of the President's visit and speech, which I'd expect, and approbation from his supporters which also seems fair.
One student, in a clip that runs twice, said he's happy that the new program will help him "pay off his loans faster." Umm, by reducing your minimum payment. Let me guess, buddy, you did not major in Math or Finance. I hope.
There has been a complete failure on the part of the Obama administration to address the catastrophic wave of home foreclosures across the country, leaving families in despair and wreaking havoc in countless communities...In order for our economy to expand, an effective policy must be put into place to turn this devastation of housing around. The administration's weak responses have barely touched "the tip of the iceberg". -- Rep. Anna Eshoo
With regards to the president's housing proposal, I'm very concerned that it's more of the same -- Rep.Dennis Cardoza
The lack of urgency being shown by various agencies and the White House is hurting our economic recovery and unnecessarily putting families at risk to lose their home. -- Rep. John Tierney
In my opinion, this is a national economic crisis that has been inadequately addressed for too long, and strong, bipartisan efforts are urgently needed. -- Rep. Elijah Cummings
You smart kids in the back are way ahead of me. Of course, these are all Democrats..
In a stunning turn of events this evening, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., used an arcane legislative maneuver to effectively rewrite Senate rules to make it harder for the minority party to force uncomfortable votes on the majority.
The buildup to this point started on Tuesday, when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., tried to force a vote on President Obama's jobs bill as well as other Republican priorities by offering them as amendments to the China currency bill. Reid blocked the move.
Wait a minute. Hasn't the President been flying all over the country imploring Americans to call their Senators and tell them, "Pass this bill?" Other reports, notably Politico, downplayed this cause. Instead they pushed Reid's story-line that it was necessary to limit dilatory tactics.
Does anyone else get the sense that Senate Democrats are increasingly nervous about the looming election? The sweat on their collective brow is palpable.
I really like bananas. Great way to start the day. Tasty and nutritious.
Wegman's sells them for 49˘ a pound, but I would pay more than that. At 99˘ a pound, I'd still get them. I'm happier paying less, but I could afford the higher price.
So why doesn't my grocery store take advantage of this? It could double the price of bananas and still keep my business
I was going to suggest that Starbucks® could add a quarter or half-dollar to every item on their menu and I would not go one fewer time or buy one fewer item. Egads! That would be billions of dollars in increased revenue -- every day! Why don't those fools on the board see it?
And Warren Buffett wouldn't mind paying higher taxes. Something about a contiguous supply-demand curve...
MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) -- President Barack Obama's chief political adviser on Tuesday conceded that a dark cloud looms over the American economy and Obama's political future, describing the president's road to a second term in the White House as "a titanic struggle."
Dark clouds and sinking ships. Strike up the orchestra: "Nearer my God to Thee" in Bb.
The real rift in philosophy though is do you want the Government to create jobs and stimulate the economy or do you want Americas small business to be the engine of growth?
Economic Success has somehow become the new boogie man; some in the Democratic party are now casting about for enemies and business leaders and anyone who has achieved success in terms of rank or fiscal success is being cast as a bad guy in a black hat. This is counter to the American Dream and is really turning off so many people that love American and basically carry our country on their back by paying taxes and by employing people and creating GDP.
I voted for our President. I have maxed out on personal donations to his re-election campaign. I forgot his campaign wants to raise $1 billion. THAT is a lot of money-money-money-money! Money still talks. It blows my mind when I am asked for money as a donation at the same time I am getting blasted as being a bad guy!
As major Solyndra investor and Barack Obama donor George Kaiser told a crowd of his fellow Oklahomans not long after Obama's stimulus was announced in 2009, "There's never been more money shoved out of the government's door in world history and probably never will be again than in the last few months and the next 18 months. And our selfish, parochial goal is to get as much of it for Tulsa and Oklahoma as we possibly can." -- Matt Welch (a Reason guy, writing for CNN, is the space-time continuum safe?)
The linked article is "Why the $16 muffin matters." I must disagree a bit with my big-L Libertarian friend. Every word he says is true, but it propagates the lie that we can have all the government we want if we just elect candidate x who will clean things up. No need to stop developing programs for the poor and new middle class entitlements, we'll take it all out of pastry savings.
The latest Obama plan "doesnt produce any more in realistic savings than the plan they offered in April," said Maya MacGuineas, president of the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. "Theyve filled in details, repackaged it and replaced one gimmick with another. They don't even stabilize the debt. This is just not enough."
The most disheartening development, MacGuineas and others said, is Obama's decision to count $1.1 trillion in savings from the drawdown of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan toward his debt-reduction total. Because Obama has no intention of continuing war spending at last year's elevated levels, that $1.1 trillion would never have been spent.
The President's plan, however, has been extremely well received by my moonbat Facebook friends.
Venezuelan Dictator Hugo Chavez, having looted all the private wealth in his country, moves to protect his wealth.
ExxonMobils shareholders can join Chryslers bondholders on Obamas enemies list. If that seems a tad harsh, consider this: When made to choose between millions of American shareholders and one South American dictator, the Obama Administration chose Chavez.
Why is the Obama Administration sitting in paralyzed silence while Chavez removes himself from international accountability? Is it perceived ideological comradeship, a loathing of investors, simple dereliction of duty or some other reason? Now that is a mystery.
TerriG has linked to a list of LIES in the Wall Street Journal about the Administration's JOBS ACT:
Mr. Obama said last week that he wants $240 billion in new tax incentives for workers and small business, but the catch is that all of these tax breaks would expire at the end of next year. To pay for all this, White House budget director Jack Lew also proposed $467 billion in new taxes that would begin a mere 16 months from now. The tax list includes limiting deductions for those earning more than $200,000 ($250,000 for couples), limiting tax breaks for oil and gas companies, and a tax increase on carried interest earned by private equity firms. These tax increases would not be temporary.
What this means is that millions of small-business owners had better enjoy the next 16 months, because come January 2013 they are going to get hit with a giant tax bill. Let's call the expensive roll:
Followed by a lot of LIES about how taxes will go up.
A commenter even refers to the President as OhBummer (I guess that's supposed to be a clever play on the President's name or something) and makes light of Attack Watch as if it is some kind of joke. Shut down her bastion of hatefulness!
Retired media executive and political novice Bob Turner defeated Democratic state Assemblyman David Weprin in a special election Tuesday to succeed Rep. Anthony Weiner, a seven-term Democrat who resigned in June after a sexting scandal.
The heavily Democratic district, which spans parts of Queens and Brooklyn, had never sent a Republican to the House. But frustration with the continued weak national economy gave Republicans the edge.
Turner has vowed to bring business practicality to Washington and push back on spending and taxes.
The race was supposed to be an easy win for Democrats, who have a 3-1 ratio registration advantage in the district.
Turner, a 70-year-old Catholic, vowed to push back on Obama's policies if elected.
I was disappointed to hear the President tonight raise the canard about Warren Buffett's allegedly low tax rate. The story is, at the very least, deeply misleading. I addressed the issue several years ago in this column.
As Richard Trumke sat in the President's box at a joint session:
It turns out a union can go so far that even the current National Labor Relations Board can't turn a blind eye. A grain operator at the Port of Longview in Washington state was hit with a violent strike yesterday by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). Longshoreman walked out at nearby ports in Tacoma and Seattle.
According to police reports, some 500 longshoreman broke in at about 4:30 a.m. Thursday morning and held six security guards hostage for two hours while the protesters rampaged through the facility. They cut brake lines on railroad cars and spilled grain from boxcars.
Rep Marsha Blackburn, (HOSS - TN)! Mark Perry's Carpe Diem blog:
Tennessee Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn issued the following statement today announcing that Gibson Guitar CEO, Henry Juszkiewicz, will be her special guest for President Barack Obama's address to the Joint Session of Congress on Thursday night:
"Gibson Guitar is at the heart of this jobs debate, and is an example of exactly why President Obama has it wrong when it comes to getting our economy back on track. Maybe if the President spent more time finding real solutions to empowering small business owners and less time hindering businesses like Gibson, we'd see more new jobs being created."
"Jobs creation remains weak, because temporary tax cuts, stimulus spending, large federal deficits, price-raising health-care mandates, and tighter but ineffective business regulations do not address, and indeed exacerbate, the permanent structural problems holding back dynamic growth and jobs creation," writes University of Maryland business economist Peter Morici.
"Until this policy direction is altered, the economy will continue to grow slowly or slip into recession, unemployment will rise, living standards will fall, and American standing in the global economy will decline," Mr. Morici says.
What were seeing, he adds, is "an American policy of decline by design."
Alternative headline: George Santayana, call your office!
It is bad enough when the historical errors of the 18th and 19th Century are dusted off to destroy a fresh generation, but the first two WSJ Editorials today show that the lessons of the last two decades are forgotten -- even as the ashes of their destruction still smolder (pretty lyrical, huh?)
Editorial #1 hints at a vague sense of deja vu when one discusses the new "Infrastructure Bank."
This is the Fannie Mae model applied to public works. The new bank would be a government-sponsored enterprise, or GSE, whether or not anyone admits it. The bank would have an implicit subsidy for its debt because it is backed by the government. And the debt it issued would be "off-budget," which means it wouldn't show up in annual outlays. When she first proposed the concept in 2008, Connecticut Democrat Rosa DeLauro explicitly described the bank as a "public private partnership like Fannie Mae."
Heh. "Off Budget." Try that on your next IRS Audit. And if Fannie and Freddie are back, we're certainly going to need a new Community Reinvestment Act. Editorial #2 by Mary Kissel shows that the Holder DOJ is not just about giving weapons to drug lords and shutting down guitar manufacturers. There's racism to be fought!
The 1990s may have brought us supercharged politicized lending, but Eric Holder's Department of Justice is taking the game to an entirely new level, and then some. The weapon is a "fair lending" unit created in early 2010, led by special counsel Eric Halperin and overseen by Civil Rights Division head Thomas Perez.
A sampling of Mr. Perez's thinking, from April 2010 congressional testimony: "The foreclosure crisis has touched virtually every community in this country, but it disproportionately touches communities of color, in particular African-Americans and Latinos." And: "[C]ross burnings are the most overt form of discrimination and bigotry. Lending discrimination is some of the most subtle. It's what I call discrimination with a smile."
But nobody is going to be smiling when Perez is finished, you can bet your Spin Doctors CDs on that!
So far, he has blamed the stagnant economy on ATMs, ditches, Slurpees, corporate-jet owners, the Tea Party, Republicans, Japan's earthquake, the Arab Spring, the Arab Summer, George Bush, and "fat-cat" Wall Street something-or-others. The kitchen sink may be next.-- Salena Zito
The president's retreat appeared doomed from the start as the stock market dove just before his arrival a week ago at the sprawling, $20 million Blue Heron Farm in the swish Chilmark section of the island paradise. The vacation only got worse as the Congressional Budget Office reported anemic economic growth, fighting erupted in Libya's capital and a rare earthquake centered just south of the White House rocked the East Coast and cracked the Washington Monument -- all while Obama hit the links, the beach and the bike paths. -- Dave Wedge & Chris Cassidy
Ken Salazar's Interior Department moves to prevent Exxon from developing a billion-barrel oil field it discovered in deep water Gulf of Mexico in 2007. Because of feared oil spills? No. Because it might impair the mating habits of the Gorite-dwelling shoestring eel? No.
Employing an extreme technicality, these regulators claimed that Exxon's request in 2008 for a short suspension of activity to upgrade and make safer its drilling operation amounted to an abandonment of three of its five permits, simply because Exxon hadn't signed a contract with another partner, Chevron, by the time the suspension was completed.
In the past, such glitches were no problem after all, it's obvious Exxon, which spent $300 million on exploratory wells, hasn't abandoned the operation.
But in the Obama era, which demonizes oil production in American waters by American companies, the bureaucrats came up with this permit technicality to effectively expropriate the entire operation.
A first draft of the history of the Obama Administration?
Many in America wanted to be proud when the first person of color was elected president, but instead, they have been witness to a congenital liar, a woman who has been ashamed of America her entire life, failed policies, intimidation and a commonality hitherto not witnessed in political leaders. He and his wife view their life at our expense as an entitlement while America's people go homeless, hungry and unemployed.
"We had reversed the recession, avoided a depression, gotten the economy moving again," President Obama fantasized on the campaign stump in Iowa. "But over the last six months, we've had a run of bad luck."
No, not that... this. Robert A. Heinlein via Dr. Milton Wolf, cousin of President Obama:
"Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded - here and there, now and then - are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as 'bad luck.' "
Not the Onion, the Wall Street Journal, brings news that Department of Labor Assistant Secretary Phyllis Borzi, who runs the Employee Benefits Security Administration is pushing a rule -- on zero evidence of malfeasance -- to restrict investment advice to investors.
The rule would have huge consequences for the retirement savings industry. Brokers would have to weigh the cost of higher regulatory compliance against staying in the business. Investors would pay more for trades and advice and have fewer investment choices. Investment educational seminars would likely halt in many cases, lest organizers think they'll be held liable as a fiduciary for giving general investment advice.
Many firms would raise minimum investment amounts to cover their higher costs, cutting off access to lower-income savers. Consultancy Oliver Wyman surveyed about 40% of the investment retirement account market and estimated the proposed rule could "eliminate access to meaningful investment services for over seven million IRAs." Investors could see "direct costs" rise between 75% and 195%.
Clearly, my Schwab guy might try to advise me to buy a Schwab ETF someday, so it is best that I have no access to advice ever.
The trouble is that because he is an ineffective leader--inexperienced, inflexible, committed to rotten ideas--his Good side does not inspire confidence and his Bad side does not inspire fear. (That's not to say Obama doesn't scare the hell out of people. But one fears him the way one would fear an 8-year-old behind the wheel of a large automobile.) -- James Taranto
3. The left in America, as exemplified by Obama's vapid press statement, has no serious intention of addressing this problem. The President has failed to present any sort of plan. His budget early in the year was a business-as-usual document with no reforms and even the Democratic-controlled Senate rejected it 97-0. But while Senate Democrats joined Republicans in deep-sixing Obama's joke budget, they have failed to produce a budget of their own for more than two years. -- Dan Mitchell ay CATO
A not-entirely-different-for-ThreeSourcers look at the downgrade. Maybe I've been watching Kudlow too long, but I find some of the best commentary comes from the investment community. They have much to lose and none of the good reasons to suck up when compared to traditional media punditry. Let 'er rip, Gary Kaltbaum:
Thank you S&P. I gather that surprises many of you as I have railed against the rating's services for years. That hasn't changed. There should have been criminal indictments against these companies for what they did with mortgage securities, but right now, they did us a big favor. At least, S&P did.
So excuse me, Mr. Buffett, for disagreeing with you. I know that is not a smart play. But it is my contention that if the con game went on for too much longer, what you saw in the market last week would end up being a walk in the park. I could not be happier that the debt bomb is now front-and-center. I have been writing about this for quite a while. This will hopefully shut up the deficit spenders, but somehow I doubt it. I do want you to keep in mind, these ratings services are nothing more than publishers of opinions.
Tim Geithner doesn't matter. What's the deal with trying to get rid of him? He is nothing more than Charlie McCarthy to Edgar Bergen. In my world, he is not even to be paid attention to. I know -- sounds disrespectful. Sorry, just telling it like it is.
Amens all around. I have to agree with his colorful characterization of our SecTreas. Yes, he's a disappointing weasel of a political hack. Do you suspect for a moment that he'd be replaced by someone better were he to step down?
During the Ford-Carter-Reagan era, before I was of voting age, the economic situation gave rise to the term "stagflation" which referred to high inflation and low economic growth as a percentage of GDP. We might say that the same conditions exist now except that in the 70's and 80's inflation was measured by interest rates. Today interest rates are near record lows, with T-bills around 2.7 percent leading to 30 year mortgages on the order of 4 percent. Yet inflation fears are alive and well given QE1 and 2 and the record price of $1660 US for gold. In other words, we have real inflation, as the costs of energy, food, health care, and other durable goods go up, but it isn't reflected in Fed policy. It is a hidden or "stealth" inflation. But like Oz's wizard it can't go unnoticed forever.
The concept is notable because, in Keynesian macroeconomic theory which was dominant between the end of WWII and the late-1970's, inflation and recession were regarded as mutually exclusive, the relationship between the two being described by the Phillips curve. In addition because stagflation has generally proven to be difficult and, in human terms as well as budget deficits, very costly to eradicate once it starts.
In the political arena one measure of stagflation termed the Misery Index (derived by the simple addition of the inflation rate to the unemployment rate) was used to swing presidential elections in the United States in 1976 and 1980.
So let's see, unemployment rate plus the price of gold...
Yikes! I'm goin' camping. Please save civilization while I'm gone.
- Aug. 2 is the drop-dead deadline
- We risk defaulting on the debt
- Social Security payments are at risk
- A long-term debt ceiling hike is a must
- Obama wants a deal
Falsehoods all, say the editors at Investors. This last is the reason IBD urges the TEA Party Caucus to "declare an imperfect battlefield victory in 2011 and regroup for the more important struggle of defeating President Obama in 2012." But if the limit isn't raised there is no real danger for the government cutters, only a prospective demagogic one.
I commented earlier today that the Progressives in congress and the White House are lamenting the current debt-limit "compromise" bill as a ruse to make conservatives believe it is good for taxpayers (by cutting spending and not raising tax rates.) Then I read Marc Thiessen explain how "the 'hobbits' won."
The fight for a balanced budget amendment must go on. But Tea Partyers should recognize just how much Obama and the Democrats caved: $2 trillion in spending cuts. No tax increases. A new precedent that debt-limit hikes must be accompanied by equal or greater cuts in spending. And the potential for a balanced budget in 10 years. That the Tea Party accomplished all this in just six months at a time when the GOP controls one-half of one-third of the federal government is remarkable.
Now, this conclusion is rooted in the assumption that "the package sets an important new precedent that debt-limit increases must be paid for with commensurate cuts in spending." And that "according to Sen. Rob Portman, a former White House budget director, if we cut a dollar of spending for every dollar we raise the debt limit, we will balance the budget in 10 years something that even the Paul Ryan budget would not achieve" is also correct.
Taking those on faith I too would back the compromise. (But y'all know my opinion of faith.) Being both an optimist and a cautious conservative I s'pose I'll have to put away my matches and focus on 2012.
By that Reagan standard, Mr. Obama has been a singular failure. The crippling truth of the Obama presidency is the pessimism of the man, the low expectations he has for this republic. He had not come forth to awaken this country to its stirring first principles, but to manage its decline at home and abroad. So odd an outcome, a man with an inspiring biography who provides no inspiration, a personal story of "The Audacity of Hope" yielding a leader who deep down believes that America's best days are behind it. -- Fouad Ajami
4. When it was Chrysler secured bondholders objecting to getting defaulted on by the president's auto task force, Mr. Obama denounced them as "a small group of speculators" who were "hoping that everybody else would make sacrifices and they would have to make none." Where was Mr. Obamas newfound respect for bondholders back during the Chrysler deal? Or, conversely, if Chrysler bondholders should have had to bear some sacrifice then, why shouldnt Treasury bondholders now? -- Ira Stoll
While we're waiting for the House to pass the Boehner Bill this evening, thus forcing the Senate and White House to make good on their threats to risk "default" by killing the House compromise, let's have some more fun. Did anyone hear Sen. John McCain read this into the record yesterday?
The idea seems to be that if the House GOP refuses to raise the debt ceiling, a default crisis or gradual government shutdown will ensue, and the public will turn en masse against . . . Barack Obama. The Republican House that failed to raise the debt ceiling would somehow escape all blame. Then Democrats would have no choice but to pass a balanced-budget amendment and reform entitlements, and the tea-party Hobbits could return to Middle Earth having defeated Mordor.
This is the kind of crack political thinking that turned Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell into GOP Senate nominees.
I'm sure that Senator nicey nice was attracted to the passage by the shots it took at the TEA Party ladies but the Hobbit line is the one that, as dagny suggested, "might stick" to the TEA Partiers. And why not? The Hobbits were the good guys! And defeating Mordor is a life or death matter. We just need to remind ourselves that it took the Hobbits three books and at least as many movies to get the job done. It ain't gonna happen with one debt-limit vote.
"In seven months, I think the expectation for Allen West and the rest of us to correct something that has been a disease going on for 30 years Let's be realistic in our expectations. It takes 5 miles to turn an aircraft carrier around. I can tell you this: We have started that motion," West said.
Those TEA Party Republicans are so extreme and unreasonable.
Yesterday I called your office in Fort Collins and asked them to register my support for a "no compromise, no surrender" position on the debt limit issue. Today I am urging you and the rest of the house freshmen to support the Boehner Bill.
Your principled stand over the past week has resulted in: Elimination of all tax hikes, substantive and actual cuts in government spending, and a limited debt cap increase. President Obama and the Democrats have lost on virtually all of their demands.
While I personally have little fear of government default I believe most Americans do, and would view inaction on the debt limit as irresponsible and a "failure to compromise" as unreasonable. Putting the Boehner bill on the president's desk will put him in a no-win position. Failure to do so will give him his only chance to score political points.
I believe the accomplishments of you and your peers are remarkable. You will have my support and that of those like me whether or not you back the Boehner bill. I think you'll earn the respect and support of less principled voters if you show the reasoned maturity to take what you can get and send it, with bipartisan support, to the president.
As my blog brother and I recently wrote, "It is time to take what we can get, move on, and make the 2012 elections a serious referendum on the size of government." http://www.threesources.com/archives/009511.html
I sent this despite being emailed by Grassfire Nation that "Rep. Gardner to vote on 'Debt Ceiling' bill TOMORROW"
According to Politico, this morning, Speaker Boehner bluntly told wavering GOP lawmakers this morning to "get your a-- in line" behind his debt ceiling bill as he scrambles for votes.
Your Congressman is being strong-armed and intimidated to accept and support a bill that doesn't do what was promised!
Now we are being told that Boehner will bring spending legislation to the House floor for a vote tomorrow (Thursday, July 28).
Thanks for the tip. I have my own message for my congressman, thank you.
OK, now I'm ready to join my blog brother in saying,"It is time to take what we can get, move on, and make the 2012 elections a serious referendum on the size of government." Much has changed in the week since jk suggested grabbing the Gang-of-Six plan and counting ourselves fortunate. The payoff from the overdue standoff versus the White House and its media minions is the chance to deliver a debt increase bill with actual spending cuts and no tax hikes, either in rates or deduction phase-outs, that the President will have no choice but to sign. Mister "can they say yes to anything" wouldn't say yes to $800 billion in new taxes but insisted on $1.2 trillion. Instead he'll get zero.
But now, despite the success enjoyed through standing firm, it is time to compromise and let our other objectives wait for the next battle. Jennifer Rubin puts it bluntly:
There are very few times when Republicans have a vote that so clearly defines who is a constructive force for conservative governance and who is not. There could be no better device for separating the two than the Boehner vote. If you'd rather burn down the building, you are in one camp. If you want to pocket gains and keep advancing your principles (and setting the agenda for 2012), you are in the other.
Why is it destructive to keep holding out for more?
The Republican hard-liners insist there is still a cut, cap and balance option out there. No. That was some conservatives preference. An aspiration is not a guide to governance. It's not getting through now or until there are a dozen or so fewer Democrats in the Senate. Right now we are nowhere close to 60 votes for cloture or the two-thirds of the Senate needed to approve a constitutional amendment.
Yup. Can't argue.
UPDATE: The title for this post was borrowed from the excellent Thomas Sowell column by the same name (and was in no way meant to imply that jk and I are barnyard fowl.)
Obama, meanwhile, seemed to be going out of his way to isolate Boehner from his more militant caucus members--praising Boehner's willingness to cut a deal, if only it weren't for the crazies on the far right. Perhaps this makes Obama look like a nice guy to people who don't understand the GOP intra-party dynamics, but of course, it poisons an already poisonous relationship between Boehner and the tea-partiers. If I were feeling uncharitable, I might argue that Obama seems to be willing to lower the chances of getting a deal, as long as he raises the chances that the other guys get the blame. And frankly, I'm not feeling very charitable right now. -- Megan McArdle, "We're All Doomed!"
There are 87 reasons for Obamas temporary conversion of convenience to the cause of spending restraint the 87 House Republican freshmen. Their inflexibility astonishes and scandalizes Washington because it reflects the rarity of serene fidelity to campaign promises.
Obama a demagogue for an age of smooth surfaces; Huey Long with a better tailor pretended Friday to wonder whether Republicans can say yes to anything. Well.
Thank you TEA Party. One can be forgiven for wondering if this power struggle between Congress and the White House will be the point history records as Barack Obama's Waterloo.
A Capitol Hill source with knowledge of the plan tells me: "It includes $1.2 trillion in OCO [Overseas Contingency Operations] savings . . . which was assumed anyway, $1.2 trillion (over $1.1 trillion less than [Majority Leader Eric] Cantor identified in the Biden talks) and $300 billion in interest savings."
Boehner: "The White House has never gotten serious about tackling the serious issues our nation faces -- not without tax hikes -- and I don't think they ever will. The path forward, I believe, is that we pull together as a team behind a new measure that has a shot at getting to the president's desk. It's won't be Cut, Cap & Balance as we passed it, but it should be a package that reflects the principles of Cut, Cap & Balance. We're committed to working with you -- and with our Republican colleagues in the Senate -- to get it done. No one is willing to default on the full faith and credit of the United States."
Rubin: That suggests to me that the House Republicans will pass a bill, send it to the Senate and let the Democrats decide if they want to send the country into default.
"Void after 90 days, Check number: 2,400,000,001" (of the Obama Administration)
I was flabbergasted that in the same interview Geithner said, twice, that the debt limit must be raised enough to get the government beyond next year's elections. They no longer even try to pretend their priority is the good of the country, but rather their own political survival.
Late on a Friday it appears the Speaker of the House is ready to compare his poker hand to the President's. After being admonished by Obama to not "call my bluff" Speaker Boehner said today,
"In the end, we couldn't connect," Boehner wrote Republican rank-and-file lawmakers, accusing the president of wanting to raise taxes and being reluctant to cut benefit programs.
"Within minutes, an obviously peeved Obama virtually ordered congressional leaders to the White House for a Saturday meeting on raising the nation's debt limit." That doesn't sound like a man who is ready to lay down his hand.
IBD Ed Page says in the debt ceiling debate, the numbers are not as important as the principles.
As the clock ticks down on their phony deadline for concluding deficit talks, the Democrats have lost all the public debates over more spending and higher taxes.
So their only hope is to manufacture a fake crisis, such as the supposed "default" date of Aug. 2, and with the media's help, force Republicans to agree to a bad deal.
It wouldn't be the first time.
In 1990, President Bush engaged in "crisis" talks over deficits. He broke his "no-new taxes" pledge, agreeing to a "deal" that included $2 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax hikes. Bush lost his job, and it took three years and a new Congress to undo the economic damage.
Today, in the meat grinder that is Washington politics, pressure will inevitably grow for a "fair and balanced" deal that is, for the GOP to capitulate. Republicans should stay true to these conservative principles:
The three key principles are,
No new taxes.
Government must get smaller.
The debt must shrink.
GOP negotiators should keep these basic budget principles in mind If not, they'll find, as Bush did, that American voters have long, unforgiving memories.
What to do now? The House should immediately pass the Half-Trillion plan, thereby putting something eminently reasonable on the table that the president will have to address with a serious counterproposal using actual numbers.
If the counterproposal is the G6, Republicans should accept Part One with its half-trillion dollars in cuts, CPI change and repeal of the CLASS Act, i.e., the part of the G6 that is enacted immediately and that is real.
Accompany this with a dollar-for-dollar hike in the debt ceiling, yielding almost exactly the time envisioned in the G6 to work out grander spending and revenue changes and defer any action on Part Two until precisely that time.
The Half-Trillion with or without the G6 Part One: ceiling raised, crisis deferred, cuts enacted and time granted to work out any Grand Compromise. You can't get more reasonable than that.
Shall we play, duelling pretty-smart folk? While the WSJ Ed page can find some nuggets to praise in the Gang-of-Six plan outline, the pretty-smart people at Investors Business Daily's Ed page see worse and worser.
And what details it does contain show that the gang has employed some of the most egregious budget tricks available to make the spending cuts look bigger and tax hikes smaller than they actually are.
The best example of this is the plan's tax proposal, which alternately boasts that it cuts taxes by $1.5 trillion and raises them by $1 trillion, but which more likely will result in taxes going up by more than $3 trillion.
And then there are the spending "cuts."
Plus, most plans take current spending levels as a given, and make "cuts" off this hugely inflated base, ignoring the fact that federal spending has rocketed upward by an astonishing 24% in just the past three years.
A credible plan would bring spending as a share of the economy back to prerecession levels. That would mean a spending cut in the neighborhood of $450 billion next year.
And the close:
The fact that more and more lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are willing to sign onto the phony Gang of Six plan, and that Obama would lend it his effusive praise, is a testament to why the country is in such deep fiscal trouble.
Having built a small business into a big one, I can tell you that today the impediments that the government imposes are impossible to deal with. Home Depot would never have succeeded if we'd tried to start it today. Every day you see rules and regulations from a group of Washington bureaucrats who know nothing about running a business. And I mean every day. It's become stifling. -- Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus
...and it's not even the pea eaters at ThreeSources. It's Steve Wynn, CEO of Wynn Resorts, on his company's quarterly conference call. Business Insider quotes the Democratic Casino Chief:
And I'm saying it bluntly, that this administration is the greatest wet blanket to business, and progress and job creation in my lifetime. And I can prove it and I could spend the next 3 hours giving you examples of all of us in this market place that are frightened to death about all the new regulations, our healthcare costs escalate, regulations coming from left and right. A President that seems, that keeps using that word redistribution. Well, my customers and the companies that provide the vitality for the hospitality and restaurant industry, in the United States of America, they are frightened of this administration. And it makes you slow down and not invest your money.
All that money on the sidelines? Wynn suggests some reasons that companies may be sitting on cash.
Hat-tip: Jim Geraghty's excellent (and free) Morning Jolt newsletter.
But even if one still believes that the bailouts were necessary to save the American auto industry (or to promote the Italian auto industry, as the case may be) that still doesn't excuse the egregious lawlessness and corruption of the bankruptcy process that took place in these cases. Even if was necessary for the government to intervene to prop-up Chrysler, does that justify plundering Chrysler's secured bondholders (including, among others, the Indiana Firefighters and Teachers Retirement Plans) simply to line the pockets of the United Autoworkers? In fact, finance scholars Deniz Anginer and Joseph Warburton have found that the government's intervention in the GM and Chrysler cases destabilized bond markets as investors adjusted to the new reality of the potential for government bailouts of unionized and politically-connected firms. -- Todd Zwicki
I must admit that my darling baby sister recognized this one before I did. Now I've found a nice writeup on it in IBD Editorials:
Wait! What happened to Social Security's "guarantee"? You know, the iron-clad assurance of Social Security benefits in exchange for paying into the program your whole working life? It's something Democrats constantly talk about, particularly when attacking Republicans who propose privatizing the program.
As Nancy Pelosi once put it: "Social Security has never failed to pay promised benefits, and Democrats will fight to make sure that Republicans do not turn a guaranteed benefit into a guaranteed gamble."
The AFL-CIO warned in 2005 about "President Bush's plan to replace Social Security's guaranteed benefits with risky private accounts." The AARP describes Social Security as "the guaranteed part of your retirement plan." Etc., etc.
Turns out, this "guarantee" is a lie.
And the close...
Whatever happens, the fact remains that Obama has accidentally made a pretty good case for Social Security reform by revealing the program for what it really is.
President Obama and the Democrats love to frame the debate over redistribution of wealth as "millionaires" versus "working folk." In their fantasy scenarios they are brave and virtuous Robin Hoods, "taking from the rich and giving to the poor."
Remember when we used to call government employees public servants? Theyre servants no morenow theyre bureaucratic masters of the universe, claiming inflated salaries (up to two times as much as private sector employees) and early retirement with unparalleled pensions and benefits. And how do they spend their time? When theyre actually working, they spin red tape and regulations that make your life harder (and their lives easier), your taxes higher, and your share of the nations debt unsustainable.
In Stealing You Blind, youll discover:
- Why the wealthiest congressional district in America is in a recession-proof suburb of Washington, D.C.
- How the Department of Transportation went from having one employee making $170,000 or more to having nearly 1,700 making that muchduring the peak of the recession
- Why even FDR thought federal workers shouldnt be allowed to unionize
- How state, local, and federal bankruptcy could be coming your way thanks to public employee union greed
- Why bureaucrats regard taxpayers as sheep to be shornand how they do it
Robin Hood did not "take from the rich and give to the poor" but rather stood up to the rulers of a tyrannical government bent on ever greater taxation, calling them out on it in the public square. "Brave, brave sir Robin!"
Pity the Washington Post, they don't get the best part in a story about FLOTUS's 1700 calorie lunch:
A Washington Post journalist on the scene confirmed the first lady, who's made a cause out of child nutrition, ordered a ShackBurger, fries, chocolate shake and a Diet Coke while the street and sidewalk in front of the usually-packed Shake Shack were closed by security during her visit.
According to nutritional information on Shake Shack's Web site, the meal amounted to 1,700 calories.
Obama, who launched the "Let's Move" campaign to combat childhood obesity last year, has previously admitted to having an "obsession with french fries," which she says are fine to indulge in occasionally. "It's all about moderation," Obama told reporters.
Larry Kudlow did a commentary last night so close to Dan Mitchell's, I was waiting for him to credit CATO. I think either Mitchell or Kudlow would be happy to see the other's spreading their message, but it seemed funny to have them both voice this on the same day.
What I mean by this is that I don't want politicians to approve a budget that results in more spending, but then claim that they "cut spending" because the budget didn't grow even faster. I want a spending cut to mean less spending (gee, what a novel idea).
And when they talk about new revenue, I want to see how much revenue the IRS is collecting this year, and measure revenue increases against that number. After all, the crowd in Washington should be happy to get more money, even if it is the result of benign factors such as more jobs being created, companies earning higher profits, and people getting more pay.
Instead, as we all painfully know, all government numbers are rated against projections and baselines. Both Kudlow and Mitchell showed that our nation's insurmountable debt problem is trivial, if you apply GAAP accounting. Here's Mitchell's "Balanced approach:" cut spending 5% and grow revenue 5%:
Flat, or even a more realistic 2% growth in spending brings the budget into balance soon. More importantly, honesty, transparency, and clarity would allow the electorate to better understand decisions and would make it harder for statists to obfuscate.
In June, President Obama celebrated a rare sliver of good economic news: Foreign investment was up 49% last year over 2009. The president says that this boost in capital shipped to the U.S. by international companies or foreign investors leads to more businesses and higher-paying jobs here at home. He's right.
But this isn't the economic success story that the White House is spinning. The real truth of the recession and limping recovery is that for the first time in decades America is, on net, losing, not attracting, growth capital. That may be the single most important explanation for persistently high unemployment and stagnant wages.
Put me down with the folks who find it "Troubling."
My Famous Facebook Friends love to point out the amount of cash on corporate balance sheets. Curiously, they are not celebrating multinationals' participation in global growth. Nor are they suggesting tax breaks for repatriation of foreign earnings. Actually, this is somehow proof of both corporate greed and dispositive proof of the need for tax reform.
One friend-of-a-friend put it in so many words. Corporations bla bla bla...record profits bla bla bla...cash on the balance sheet... "So don't" this woman says "use the argument that businesses will not hire because of tax rates or tax unpredictability. I won't hear it. Any other thing you'd like to discuss [the infield fly rule perhaps?] go right ahead."
As there's no such Gag Rule at ThreeSources, I consider the cash in stasis AND the now negative FDI flow as proof that taxes are indeed the problem. Yes, they do have money. But to maximize growth of asset value, they must choose when and where that money can be best invested. A new plant in Illinois, perhaps? A joint venture in Singapore? Capital expenditures that delay hiring? Or sit on it, declare dividends, buy back equity and keep your powder dry while tax and health care policy clarifies?
Malpass and Moore document the troubling truth that the best choice is now to invest that money somewhere else but here.
But, other than that, there's really nothing to worry about. Maybe we could do something to encourage high speed rail or ethanol or something...
I'm kept from a great joke with a Buffy twist for fear of its being racially misconstrued. But it is a good one, call me if you cannot guess.
The WaPo fact checker -- whose existence drives me crazy, because the column's "facts" reliably lean left -- awards two pinocchios for missing facts in the President's angry, vitriolic tirade press conference yesterday.
In a bit of class jujitsu, the president six times mentioned eliminating a tax loophole for corporate jets, frequently pitting it against student loans or food safety. It's a potent image, but in the context of a $4 trillion goal, it is essentially meaningless. The item is so small the White House could not even provide an estimate of the revenue that would be raised, but other estimates suggest it would amount to $3 billion over 10 years.
Meanwhile, student financial assistance, just for 2011, is about $42 billion. So the corporate jet loophole -- which involves the fact that such assets can be depreciated over five years, rather than the seven for commercial jets -- just is not going to raise a lot of money. It certainly wouldn't save many student loans.
Going after hedge fund managers might raise about $15 billion over 10 years, but in a different life The Fact Checker covered Wall Street and is pretty certain those financial wizards would figure out a way to avoid this tax shift.
A Facebook friend -- wait, I do not have to be anonymous, it's our very own LatteSipper -- posts this jewel about how our economy is "held hostage" for a loophole to protect 25 Hedge Fund Managers (boo, hiss, hedge fund managers...). I assume he refers to the differential in gains to income, but whatever. Closing this would produce <doctor_evil_voice>$44 Billion</doctor_evil_voice> over ten years. Wow. That's almost a half percent of the President's budget's new debt over the same time period. Throw in the quarter percent for those corporate jet guys and you have almost 3/4 of a percent! Problem solved!
When the loanshark comes to collect the 10 grand you owe him, smile and say you have $75.
Sins of magnitude. This is all we are going to hear until the election.
If you did not read it, JimiP destroys the corporate jet meme.
Senator Jon Kyl went on Fox News Sunday yesterday to explain why he withdrew from deficit reduction negotiations over the President's conditional requirement that government revenues be raised as part of a "balanced" solution. "But isn't one dollar of new taxes for every three dollars of spending cuts a fair deal" asked Chris Wallace?
But you don't want to pile taxes on at a time when companies don't have the ability to invest and hire people. That's the primary reason we are opposed to raising taxes right now.
Treasury Secretary Geithner explains the real reason for insisting on tax hikes.
"If you don't touch revenues," Geithner said, "you have to shrink the overall size of government programs, things like education, to levels that we could not accept as a country."
What do you mean "we" Kemosabe? Investor's Business Daily opines:
Some factions just won't accept shrinking the size of government. Most in them run in the same tight circles as Geithner. Never hearing anything other than support for increasing the size of government, they assume that's what Americans want.
But quite a few Americans have been wanting to cut government for decades, and that number is growing as the almost intractable problems created by overspending have become more obvious.
From Social Security and Medicare to housing assistance and farm subsidies to, yes, even education, federal programs need to shrink or be eliminated. There's not a single item in the budget, including defense, that can't use some judicious trimming.
No Tim, America's economy has shrunk. Americans' net worth has shrunk. It's well past time for America's government to shrink.
Face it, guys, Obama just wants your money, like the cute boy who sweet talks you at the bar while ordering a $20 cocktail, then reaches for his wallet, only to feign shock when he just can't find it. "Maybe you can help me look for it," he says as he puts his hand on your knee and looks into your eyes, but once he's taken a few sips from the pricey drink you've bought him, he manages to slip away. And you don't see him again, until having run up a $100-dollar bar bill (somehow he managed to slip another drink on your tab), you stumble out of the night spot and discover him talking with some hunky fitness model. He tries to avoid making eye contact, but when you do, he promises he'll get back to you just as soon as he catches up with his "old friend" whom he just "happened"to run into. -- Gay Patriot
And I thought being a Republican was hard sometimes...
President Obama explained to NBC News that the reason companies aren't hiring is not because of his policies, it's because the economy is so automated. ... "There are some structural issues with our economy where a lot of businesses have learned to become much more efficient with a lot fewer workers. You see it when you go to a bank and you use an ATM, you don't go to a bank teller, or you go to the airport and you're using a kiosk instead of checking in at the gate."
My employer will surely be shut down. Tape Freaking Libraries, nine-point-one percent unemployment. You catchin' my drift?
Aimee Leeper, a spokeswoman for ATM manufacturer Triton Systems, which makes its machines in America and employees 200 people here, told me over the phone, "We're not in the business of taking American jobs. What I wish President Obama had thought of is that people want convenient access to their money. How crazy is that?"
EPA: "Employee salary is our highest budget priority"
On his radio show today Mike Rosen read a copy [2:00 to 4:55] of an internal memo from EPA Regional Administrator James Martin to all Region 8 EPA employees. Subject: Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Decisions.
I want to update you on the status of Region eight's budget. The most important thing to tell you is that we continue to protect salary for our on-board EPA employees. It is our highest budget priority and that has not and will not change.
Our OCFO has been able to provide us with some relief for our payroll shortfall. This will allow us to maintain our support services at the current levels as we work to meet our agency's mission. We are continuing to work with headquarters for additional relief. In the meantime, to meet the remaining payroll needs we'll be reducing our programmatic funds by 30 percent, as well as some regional support funds.
A distinct difference, to be sure, from EPA's stated policy on private sector jobs.
This seemed so familiar that I wondered whether Tim [Carney] was guilty of plagiarism. But he's one of the best journalists in DC, so I knew that couldn't be the case.
Then I realized that there was plagiarism, but the politicians in Washington were the guilty parties. As can be seen in this passage from Atlas Shrugged, the Obama Administration is copying from what Ayn Rand wrote -- as dystopian parody -- in the 1950s -- Dan Mitchell.
We're not on the road to recovery. You can't get there from here, as they say. Obama was in Toledo to "celebrate" the sale of the government's remaining stake in Chrysler to Fiat. That's "Fiat" as in the Italian car manufacturer rather than "an authoritative or arbitrary decree (from the Latin 'let it be done')," which would be almost too perfect a name for an Obamafied automobile. -- Maven of the Bon Mot, Mark Steyn
Hat-tip: Instapundit, who features a longer excerpt than mine. Whazzupwitdat?
Recent data show a shocking turn south. While some worry we might soon experience a double-dip recession, we're already in a kind of recession a growth recession. That's where the economy is barely eking out enough growth to create jobs. And the number of jobs being created isn't enough to sop up the unemployed and new entrants to the workforce.
Consider these data, all from one day:
You'll have to click through for the full, grisly accounting. Meanwhile, try to find a dry, secure place to hunker down on the U.S.S. Titanic.
This is soooo embarrassing, but I need to ask that you return my copy of "Lochner Revisited" or forward it to the White House. There's a fellow there that really needs it:
One could cite Supreme Court opinions for this proposition, but I instead call as a witness a former Senator from Illinois and constitutional law professor, an obscure fellow named Barack Obama. Here's Obama in June 2005, opposing the nomination of Janice Rogers Brown to the D.C. Circuit. Dubious or inaccurate historical statements reflecting common misuses of Lochner as a historical symbol are highlighted in bold, and are annotated below:
[Two paragraph statement and nine corrections...]
When the President is finished, you may of course have it back...
"There's absolutely no reason for any person to download their Facebook into the car," U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in an interview. "It's not necessary."
Mr. LaHood is pushing to open new fronts in his long-running campaign against the proliferation of technology-driven diversions. In conversations with industry chief executives, Mr. LaHood says he is making it plain he isn't pleased with the trend toward putting more media feeds and gadgetry into the cockpits of new vehicles.
Mr. LaHood and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which reports to him, have the power to curb the info-tainment technology built into cars if they can demonstrate a threat to safety. He is also urging auto executives to free up advertising money to create public-service announcements that remind motorists to stay focused on the road, and not to text and drive.
Blog rules dictate that I have to say something. I can't just excerpt and link, that's really not adding any value at all. And yet, I am uncharacteristically speechless.
Although not specifically mentioned by name in the rate review rules finalized last Thursday by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the rule that exempts Medigap insurance providers is clearly designed to benefit the largest seller of such policies and the biggest lobbyist for ObamaCare -- the American Association of Retired Persons.
So you can add AARP to the list of favored unions, corporations, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi's constituents and even entire states such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's Nevada that have received exemptions or waivers from various requirements of ObamaCare.
The amount AARP will gain from ObamaCare, with cost-effectiveness mandates that will lead to rationed care, less medical innovation and health care decisions made by bureaucrats rather than doctors and patients, is staggering.
Equally staggering is the brazenness exhibited by the Obama administration and the beneficiaries of what can only be called crony health care.
President Obama addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference this morning, days after giving away Israel's most valuable bargaining chip in a negotiation that Israel's "peace partner" has no interest in negotiating over. As is usually the case, his error lies in his premise.
Now, I have said repeatedly that core issues can only be negotiated in direct talks between the parties. (Applause.) And I indicated on Thursday that the recent agreement between Fatah and Hamas poses an enormous obstacle to peace. (Applause.) No country can be expected to negotiate with a terrorist organization sworn to its destruction. (Applause.) And we will continue to demand that Hamas accept the basic responsibilities of peace, including recognizing Israels right to exist and rejecting violence and adhering to all existing agreements. (Applause.)
I suppose this has never been tried before. Nobody ever thought to "demand" that Israel's enemies not attack her. It does seem so simple doesn't it? Perhaps a written agreement not to invade, signed by the recognized leader of the portending aggressor would be of more value if it included such a "demand." What a different world it might be if only Neville Chamberlain had thought of this.
Instead, Chamberlain presided over an agreement that handed over the The Sudetenland to the Germans. "The Sudetenland were areas along Czech borders, mainly inhabited by ethnic Germans" and "was of immense strategic importance to Czechoslovakia, as most of its border defenses were situated there, and many of its banks were located there as well."
But he urged Muslims to seize the moment. A delay may cause the opportunity to be lost, and carrying it out before the right time will increase the number of casualties, he said. I think that the winds of change will blow over the entire Muslim world, with permission from Allah.
The world looks at a conflict that has grinded on and on and on, and sees nothing but stalemate. Indeed, there are those who argue that with all the change and uncertainty in the region, it is simply not possible to move forward now.
I disagree. At a time when the people of the Middle East and North Africa are casting off the burdens of the past, the drive for a lasting peace that ends the conflict and resolves all claims is more urgent than ever.
I wanted to write here today that "I hereby call out Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper to apply for an Obamacare waiver for the entire state of Colorado." After all, another path to repeal, thought I, is for the entire country to be waived from the law's requirements. Needing a foundational article upon which to rest my "great idea" I found Mona Charen:
A few wags [ouch!] have suggested that the HHS grant the rest of the country a waiver and be done with it. But the implications of what Professor Richard Epstein has called "government by waiver" aren't funny. As Congress has ceded more and more power to regulatory agencies, the opportunities for abuse of power multiply. Writing in National Affairs, Epstein notes that among the companies and entities that successfully sought waivers from Obamacare's provisions were PepsiCo, Foot Locker, the Pew Charitable Trusts, many local chapters of the Teamsters, the United Food and Commercial Workers union, and numerous public-employee unions.
But, asks Epstein, "(W)hat about employers who do not have the resources to navigate the waiver process? What about those lacking the political connections to make their concerns heard in Washington? And what happens when the one-year waivers run out? Will they be renewed? Under what conditions? And what rights will insurers have to waive then in order to avoid going out of business?"
The world of Obamacare is no place for the little guy.
The danger of waiver power is that it will be used differentially, giving one private entity a competitive advantage over another. The company denied a waiver can bring suit -- but litigation is expensive and slow.
Additionally, companies may fear government retaliation: "It is no accident that it is often public-interest groups or patient groups that take on the FDA, for instance. It is simply too risky for a pharmaceutical company with multiple applications before the agency to challenge one action if it is vulnerable to a government-induced slowdown on another," writes Epstein.
So it isn't just the threat of tax hikes that makes the Obama Administration such a threat to American free-market liberty; or massive deficit spending, or hostility to energy production or the subjective law of appointed judges or the proliferation of unelected "Czars" or any of the other "gangster government" ploys the administration has so quickly and expertly embraced. It is the 2000-pages of statutory "we can do what we want" called the Patient Protection and Affordability Act that makes these government bureaucrats so dangerous.