Imagine, just for the sake of argument that, say, the State Department's Jen Psaki sat down to interview an Islamic State fighter over coffee.
Psaki: "Hi. What's your name?"
Psaki: "Were you named after your father?"
Mohammed: "No. I am named after the One True Prophet Mohammed."
Psaki: "Interesting. So what's the name of your organization?"
Mohammed: "The Islamic State."
Psaki: "Oh, that's exotic. What does that do?"
Mohammed: "We have sworn to Allah that we will bring about a global caliphate as he commands us through Mohammed and the Koran. Inshallah, we will kill the pagans, Jews, and infidels and convert the Christians to the one true faith.
Psaki: "Oh my, that sounds like quite a project. So, let me ask you, what religion should I put down here, Mohammed."
Mohammed: "I am Muslim. I will give my life for Islam. It's right there in the name: Islamic State."
Psaki: "Well, I can see that this will just remain one of those mysteries. I'll just put down agnostic."
Despite numerous high-level voices in his administration giving clear signals that Islamic State is unambiguously evil and should be dealt with swiftly and forcefully, President Obama said yesterday that, "we don't have a strategy yet." And, really, who is surprised at this development, given that his response to the decapitation murder of James Foley was to say of ISIS: "People like this ultimately fail. They fail because the future is won by those who build and not destroy."
Daily Beast contributor Stuart Stevens writes what essentially occurred to me the moment I heard that:
"But it seems incredibly naïve and American-centric not to grasp that the Islamic fanatics of ISIS are very much about building - building a new world in their vision."
As a post-Cold War figure who matured through "movements," Barack Obama is drawing from a distinct tradition. He is clearly more comfortable talking about "justice" than "evil." The "oppressed" to him are much more likely to be victims of society's prejudice than communism. Some on the right argue that Barack Obama rejects the concept of America as a force for good but I think that's a misjudgment. It's more that he defaults to a fundamentally different test than his predecessors.
More often than not, Barack Obama defines America's moral worth - our "goodness" - by comparing America's past to some future in which the values in which he believes will be the norm. In that matrix, it's not about us versus them - it's about what we are versus what we can be. It's us vs. us. America is "good" because we are getting "better." We are at our best not when we fight the evils of the world, but the "injustice" of our society, primarily prejudice, for which there is an evolving test.
This explains the Progressive apology for Islamism wherein their heinous acts are caused, not by an innately barbaric interpretation of a "pure" principle, but by the "injustices" visited upon them by prosperous westerners and their governments. They are supposedly "radicalized" in response to our prosperity. (And "inequality" perhaps?)
But moral ambiguity is not a condition which afflicts the Islamists. Right or wrong, they know what they want and they believe they are justified in doing anything to achieve it. That kind of moral certainty is a very powerful motivator. It can provoke millions of people to vote for you, if you articulate it in a political contest. It can also provoke a convicted mass murderer to seek to join your movement, as former Army Major Nidal Hassan reportedly attempted:
""It would be an honor for any believer to be an obedient citizen soldier to a people and its leader who don't compromise the religion of All-Mighty Allah to get along with the disbelievers."
Would but the President of the United States be so certain as to say, "Anyone on this Earth may believe anything he wants, but there is no justification to initiate force against anyone else. You don't have to get along with us, but you most certainly may not kill or injure us, except in physical self-defense."
"Obama Unveils New Plan to Work with Foreign Governments to Ignore the Constitution" screams the headline. I do get a lot of wacko emails. But this is from the partisan-yet-measured Jim Geraghty and he notes the difference:
There are a lot of nonsensical or highly exaggerated chain e-mails accusing the president of working with foreigners to subvert the U.S. Constitution. But this time you've got the foreigners and administration officials themselves confirming it on the front page of the New York Times!
"There's a strong understanding of the difficulties of the U.S. situation, and a willingness to work with the U.S. to get out of this impasse," said Laurence Tubiana, the French ambassador for climate change to the United Nations. "There is an implicit understanding that this not require ratification by the Senate."
"The difficulties of the U.S. situation" is a reference the fact that we have a Senate that opposes the treaty.
In order to "sidestep" the constitutional requirement that laws be made by lawmakers, the Times continues, "President Obama's climate negotiators are devising what they call a 'politically binding' deal that would 'name and shame' countries into cutting their emissions."
I do not feel that my choice of title is overwrought.
The whole questionable debate on American war weariness aside, the U.S. military is not war weary and is fully capable of attacking and reducing IS throughout the depth of its holdings, and we should do it now, but supported substantially by our traditional allies and partners, especially by those in the region who have the most to give - and the most to lose - if the Islamic State’s march continues.
From a must read article by General John R. Allen, USMC retired. He gives the President great credit for actions taken in the theater thus far, but makes a profound plea for his annihilation of Islamic State immediately.
For its part, the White House has finally unleashed the "t-word."
"When you see somebody killed in such a horrific way, that represents a terrorist attack," White House Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told reporters. "That represents a terrorist attack against our country, against an American citizen, and I think all of us have the Foley family in our thoughts and prayers."
I'm from flyover country, and I'm here to help! Yesterday, President Obama explained to all Americans the basic balance sheet options for making ends meet in the national Leviathan that is the United States federal government.
"We're reviewing all of our options," Obama said. "The lost revenue to Treasury means it has got to be made up somewhere, and that typically is going to be a bunch of hard-working Americans who either pay through higher taxes themselves or through reduced services."
Many of us have selfishly urged, or demanded, that government balance its budget by spending less. Legislators and presidents have come and gone, election after election, never able - for some reason - to bring government spending under control or even, for that matter, reduce it by a single dime. Whatever the causes of this official recalcitrance, I now repent my prior demands and acknowledge the role President Obama reminds me that I play in balancing the federal government budget. I will do my fair share. Nay, I will do my full share. I do firmly pledge and promise, now and forever, to pay every possible penny into the Treasury "through reduced services" from this day forward.
Join me. It'll be easy if we can all stop being so selfish.
That's the title of Dan Henninger's Wonder Land column this week. The whole piece is excellent, covering the Rorschach test that is our 44th President with a gift to make everyone think he is on their side. Henninger questions the "gift" as more world leaders discover -- at inappropriate times -- that President Obama is not actually in agreement.
But he hits on somethin' that has been drivin' me nutty, and that's how he's talkin'! We've seen g's dropped at NASCAR events or the Dallas Evangelical Prayer Breakfast. But our Haaavaaad educated Chief Executive has not voiced the seventh letter of the alphabet at the end of a word in some time.
It started with all those weird, dropped "g's." A cranial gong goes off when Barack Obama starts droppin' "g's." The American president who is seen discoursing eloquently at the African leaders summit hits the stump and suddenly he sounds like Gabby Hayes. "Folks like you are havin' a hard time makin' it when the wealthiest are grabbin' it all in for themselves."
What is worse, Mr. Obama has used his empathy gift only in one direction--to animate his base against opponents. It worked for him. He won re-election.
But the way Mr. Obama talks, and talks, has diminished his authority and credibility. The U.S. has a president who is capable of moving factions with words, but not a people. This is a president without a presidential vocabulary.
Snake Oil Wizardry, and the Unreliability of Curtains
If it's okay for President Obama to continue with his fundraising schedule in Delaware at the same time as the Malaysian Airlines 777 shoot down is playing out, [President GW Bush could not be reached for comment] it must be okay for me to also post this "racist, bigoted, homophobic right-wing shlockumentary" clip showing a disenchanted Obama supporter after learning what coffee smells like.
What the Hell is Administrative Law, and Where Did it Come From?
That is the question which is, by every account, answered brilliantly in a new book by Professor Philip Hamburger of the Columbia Law School: Is Administrative Law Unlawful?
Amazon reviewer Ross Huebner wrote last month:
Professor Hamburger outlines the fact that administrative law (outside of very limited circumstances) is not only unconstitutional, but it is anti-constitutional as well. I recommend this book as a worthy legal history of administrative law and state simply that it should be in every serious scholar's library for both historical and legal purposes.
In a radio interview this morning the author explained that administrative law, essentially the rules and regulations of Administrative Branch agencies, crept into our government after its founding as a holdover from the pre-Constitutional era and do not have any justification under the Constitution. To the contrary, Article I Section 1 begins: "All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States..." therefore any legislative powers exercised outside of Congress are illegal.
And not just legislative, but judicial powers are wrongly exercised under color of "administrative law." Who may lay his finger on the Constitutional passage that enumerates that? Article III Section 1 begins: "The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish." No mention of EPA or FDA that I could find.
Obama doesn't want a real immigration deal. The Cynic-in-Chief wants a real fight over a false immigration deal.
With his poll numbers sinking, new foreign crises erupting almost daily, ongoing hearings on his scandals and his diplomatic ineptitude, an immigration fight is Obama's only wedge of hope to unite his party for Nov. 4.
Like the enthusiastic audiences at Obama's telepromptered rallies, these poor frightened Latino youngsters are just props. And an immigration fight, properly fueled (Obama will swear in new citizens for a July 4 photo op), will distract from his other countless screw-ups.
Bill and Hillary Clinton - White, Southern, RACISTS!
Anyone who criticizes President Obama, we are told by those who refuse to criticize President Obama, does so because he is black. By disagreeing with "a smidgeon" of the first black president's agenda, performance or statements one exposes oneself, supposedly, as a "racist." Today I read that, according to the new Ed Klein book 'Blood Feud' that category of despicable human being, as early as last May, included the Clintons.
Clinton ranted, "The thing with Obama is that he can’t be bothered, and there is no hand on the tiller half the time. That's the story of the Obama presidency. No hand on the f–king tiller," according to the book, which was excerpted exclusively in Sunday's Post.
"Obama has turned into a joke," she went on, according to Klein.
"The IRS targeting the Tea Party, the Justice Department's seizure of AP phone records and [Fox reporter] James Rosen's e-mails -- all these scandals. Obama’s allowed his hatred for his enemies to screw him the way Nixon did," she raged, the book says, adding that she called the president "incompetent and feckless."
Bill was also quoted:
"I hate that man Obama more than any man I've ever met, more than any man who ever lived," Bill told pals, according to the book.
Whoa, not just a racist but a hater. But like, you know, it's not rally true, it's just like some stuff that some guy wrote to sell his stupid book.
Forgot when I signed up for White House SPAM. It is sometimes interesting:
Hi, everyone --
Yesterday, I had lunch with a woman named Rebekah at Matt's Bar in Minneapolis.
Rebekah wrote me a letter earlier this spring telling me about the challenges facing her family. More and more, she told me, she and her husband are working harder and harder just to get by.
So I decided to reply to her letter in person.
Rebekah and I spent the day together -- we stopped for burgers before holding a town hall with other members of the community and small business owners, to hear directly from folks about what's on their mind.
I'll be doing more of these trips over the course of the summer, visiting people who have written me, to spend a day in their cities and towns. Because speaking directly with the folks I'm working for every day is the best way to help more Americans understand why growing opportunity in this country is so important.
So if you've got a story you want to share with me -- about how you're doing, what challenges you face, and what's working for you -- I want to hear from you.
When Rebekah wrote me, she said, "I'm pretty sure this is a silly thing to do, to write the President."
But it's not a silly thing at all. It means so much to me to read your letters. They remind me exactly who we're fighting for every single day.
Because, as a nation, we've made it through some tough times. Over the past 51 months, our businesses have created 9.4 million new jobs. But we have more work to do to open the doors of opportunity for more Americans. That's part of what makes these visits so important -- I want you to know that I'm keeping up this fight until everyone who works hard has the chance to succeed.
If you're feeling inspired, drop me a line. Tell me about your family, your neighborhood -- or simply how you're doing.
I'm looking forward to hearing from you.
President Barack Obama
P.S. -- You can send it by mail, too. You might even know the address already: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.
This email was sent to jk@<>
Please do not reply to this email. Contact the White House
The White House • 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW • Washington, D.C. 20500 • 202-456-1111
Rather than grandstanding about terrorist atrocities in Iraq or even a flood of undocumented alien children across our southern border, every single Republican congressman or senator should be jointly focused like a period-full-stop laser beam on the most deadly serious threat to US civil society today: The likely use of federal government power to influence the outcome of an election, and the obvious cover up that attempts to obstruct investigation of the original crime. Harry Reid's hometown newspaper says it well:
This is not a partisan witchhunt. It is an inquiry to determine whether a federal agency conspired with elected members of a political party to influence the outcome of an election. And it already screams of a cover-up.
The full editorial is loaded with winks and eye rolling over the "accidents" which befell the evidence requested by congress. On any objective scale, Watergate was a misdemeanor compared to Obamagate. The only thing about the more recent of these two is the news media's curiosity.
I've been in unfamiliar territory this week as I find myself approving of President Obama's decision to NOT start shooting and bombing "ISIS terrorists" in Iraq. The novelty here is the agreement with the president, and disagreement with most hosts and callers on talk radio. One notable exception is Jason Lewis, who says we have no business risking blood or treasure in the latest Iraq violence.
"Because Iran will if we don't" is no reason to insert ourselves in Iraq's civil war. Nor is "because Russia will if we don't" a reason to use force in Syria or Turkey. (We can have a conversation about Ukraine.)
Perhaps I'm following a recent trend of taking contrarian views without sufficient reflection and if so, I welcome those who may correct me. But first I want to warn you that my side includes Wednesday's "From the Right" editorialist on IBD's Ed page, Doug Bandow.
It is time for Washington to stop trying to micromanage other nations' affairs and to practice humility. This wouldn't be isolationism. America, and especially Americans, should be engaged in the world. But our government's expectations should be realistic, its ambitions bounded. American officials should abandon their persistent fantasy of reordering the world.
Obama's foreign policy may be feckless. But that's not its principal failing. As long as Washington tries to dominate and micromanage the world, it will end up harming U.S. interests.
Yes, that was from the right, a place not occupied by Neocons like McCain, Graham and Cheney.
IRS Scandal: Now, officially, "Worse than Watergate"
We've seen lies. We've seen violations of the Constitution. We've seen every sort of despicable behavior on the part of government officials in President Obama's "most transparent administration in history" up to and including cover ups of despicable behavior. But now, in the IRS scandal, we have evidence of a cover up - in the form of "missing" evidence.
Paul Bedard summarizes, links to a Daniel Henninger WSJ editorial making the "official" judgment, and throws in this hilarious MSNBC segment where the morning hosts joke about the story that "I've never told a lie" Jay Carney parroted out to all of us.
I'll excerpt: "I'm an idiot... Even I know that if you have a hard drive and you can't find an email you can get a little nerd to come in and they can find them for you." (...) "Instead of 'We trashed the evidence and tore it up and buried it... no, we were earth friendly." [On the claim that the hard drive was "recycled."]
Daniel Henninger opens his "worse than Watergate" editorial by saying, "With 2 and a half years left in the Obama presidency, it is at least an open question what will be left of it by December 2016. Or us." Indeed.
The announcement came late Friday, a too-cute-by-half cliché of a PR strategy to mitigate backlash. "The IRS told Congress it cannot locate many of Lois Lerner's emails prior to 2011 because her computer crashed during the summer of that year."
I rushed to Facebook with a Rosemary Woods joke when it happened. I thought I'd show off my unique wit, but it seems I share my uniqueness with about a million of my closest friends on Facebook and Twitter.
But when Ms. Woods lost the infamous 18 minutes of White House recordings, the entire universe said "come on, really?" Nobody believed it and I recall some forensic study that showed it was not done in a contiguous streak matching Woods's accidental foot pedal explanation. It rather showed stops and starts which suggested "nope, I didn't get that bit, better try again."
I posit that the same minute percentage accept Lois Lerners's fanciful tale. The question Ron Fournier asks is whether we shall see the same scrutiny. Which brings me back to my inflection point: The DOJ will not act. As Insty says, "Eric Holder's job is scandal-goalie." Will the press accept this -- may I call it total bullshit? -- and carry on?
They have shown every willingness to cover up so far. I ask because the mood seems to be shifting as the prevarications pile up, and because this one is so simple and outlandish. The Benghazi video story struck me as beyond credulity but I am a partisan hack. There is some fog of war and you cannot ascertain others' rationality from afar.
But this. You don't really need to bring in "an IT expert" tough Powerline did. These are government servers in the branch most noted for document retention. A Rosemary Woods day or two would be extremely suspicious -- two years is laughable.
If. If they get away with this bald-face lie, than the Bananarepublicization of America is complete and self rule is truly over.
Strong words but not overwrought -- if we can be lied to this directly it is over. Three cheers to Fournier but I hope he is not alone.
The inestimable Colonel Ralph Peters (US Army-Retired) describes how President Obama and the man-children in his administration could be so myopic as to believe the general public, not to mention active and retired military members, would greet their "prisoner swap" with glee.
This is a fundamental culture clash. Team Obama and its base cannot comprehend the values still cherished by those young Americans "so dumb" they joined the Army instead of going to prep school and then to Harvard. Values such as duty, honor, country, physical courage, and loyalty to your brothers and sisters in arms have no place in Obama World. (Military people don't necessarily all like each other, but they know they can depend on each other in battle -- the sacred trust Bergdahl violated.)
President Obama did this to himself (and to Bergdahl). This beautifully educated man, who never tires of letting us know how much smarter he is than the rest of us, never stopped to consider that our troops and their families might have been offended by their commander-in-chief staging a love-fest at the White House to celebrate trading five top terrorists for one deserter and featuring not the families of those soldiers (at least six of them) who died in the efforts to find and free Bergdahl, but, instead, giving a starring role on the international stage to Pa Taliban, parent of a deserter and a creature of dubious sympathies (that beard on pops ain't a tribute to ZZ Top). How do you say "outrageous insult to our vets" in Pashto?
UPDATE: Col. Peters refers to inevitable book and movie deals for Bergdahl, "quite possibly the most-hated individual soldier in the history of our military" but a movie that tells his story has already been made. His is the part of Ephialtes.
That would be news! But Matt Vierkant, a team leader of another squad in Bergdahl's platoon, is more charitable:
Asked about the statement Sunday by National Security Adviser Susan Rice that Bergdahl served "with honor and distinction," he said: "That statement couldn't be further from the truth. I don't know if she was misinformed or doesn't know about the investigations and everything else, or what."
"For a president who came to office hoping to restore public faith in government as a force for good in society, the mess at the Department of Veterans Affairs threatens to undercut his reputation for effectiveness," writes New York Times reporter Peter Baker in a "news analysis."
That's a little like describing the Monica Lewisnky scandal as a blemish on Bill Clinton's reputation for marital fidelity. -- BOTW Jun 2, 2014
UPDATE: The same column contains a link to an Onion piece I had never seen:
Bruce Springsteen Accidentally Plays 'Big Government's Stealin' Our Livelihood' At Obama Rally
PARMA, OH--While performing at a campaign rally for President Barack Obama on Thursday, rock icon Bruce Springsteen reportedly failed to fire up the largely working-class audience when he accidentally played an acoustic ballad titled "Big Government's Stealin' Our Livelihood." "Can't ever feed the appetite of Uncle Sam / Stealin' half my paycheck out of my hand," crooned Springsteen, unintentionally alienating the bemused crowd with brazenly pro-market and anti-union lyrics that detail the struggles of a small business owner named Mikey who is forced to declare bankruptcy due to a weak economy plagued by industry overregulation.
If I lapse into all caps, I will post this under rant. But, for now, I think I can keep it together.
Megan McArdle provides a lengthy excerpt from Jordain Carney and Stacy Kaper's two-part series on the VA for National Journal. McArdle (and Carney and Kaper) accepts that the problems at the VA preceded President Obama's election and that a massive institutional bureaucracy is difficult-to-impossible for even the most skilled manager to repair. Fair cop, guv.
McArdle highlights the President's preternatural sense of self-worth: "Yet it also points to one of the cardinal weaknesses of Obama's presidency: his prolonged hubris about how much a really smart, caring president could change the way government operates."
I'm going to go one step meaner. It is not only that his general swellness could not make the problems go away. The real "cardinal weakness of Obama's presidency" is that he thought he could layer additional services onto the weak foundation: promise more and deliver . . . nothing.
He pledged to end the claims backlog while simultaneously making a string of moves that summoned a flood of new claims to the department.
The administration made it easier for veterans to get compensation for both post-traumatic stress disorder and exposure to Agent Orange -- a Vietnam War-era defoliant now tied to a long list of neurological disorders. Those moves extended help to long-suffering veterans, but they weren't matched by the VA reforms needed to adequately address the new claims. Agent Orange alone took up 37 percent of the Veterans Benefits Administration's claims-processing resources nationally from October 2010 to March 2012, according to a Government Accountability Office report.
And as claims soared during Obama's first years in office, so did wait times. In 2009, there were about 423,000 claims at the VA, with 150,000 claims pending for more than four months (the official wait time it takes a claim to be considered "backlogged"). By 2012, claims had exploded to more than 883,000 -- and 586,540 of those sat on the VA's backlog list.
Okay, so that car you bought always burned a little oil and the brakes were bad. Ummm, should you have installed a trailer hitch and towed your new boat up to the lake?
This is the same guy who thought he could just hand out Medicare cards. Just as he never draws the line from "health insurance" to "health care," none of his promises have any backing.
They act as though Twitter and clenched teeth or a pout could stop invasions or rescue kidnapped children in Nigeria. They do not sound as if, when saying that some outrage is "unacceptable" or that a dictator "must go," that they represent a government capable of doing something substantial—and, if necessary, violent—if its expectations are not met. And when reality, as it so often does, gets in the way—when, for example, the Syrian regime begins dousing its opponents with chlorine gas, as it has in recent weeks, despite solemn deals and red lines—the administration ignores it, hoping, as teenagers often do, that if they do not acknowledge a screw-up no one else will notice. -Eliot A. Cohen 'A Selfie-Taking, Hashtagging Teenage Administration' WSJ
The Wall St. Journal reviews Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's new book. In the "Life & Culture" section, the headline is "Book Review: 'Stress Test' by Timothy F. Geithner;" but on the Editorial Page (and the review is written by James Freeman) it says: "Review: The Man Who Knew Too Little"
Professor Insty might point out "This country's in the best of hands:"
None of this is particularly surprising in a man who, at the time he became president of the New York Fed, had never worked in finance or in any type of business--unless one counts a short stint in Henry Kissinger's consulting shop. At Dartmouth, Mr. Geithner "took just one economics class and found it especially dreary." After three years at Kissinger Associates, he spent 13 years at the Treasury Department, becoming close to both Robert Rubin and Larry Summers, and then worked at the government-supported International Monetary Fund. Messrs. Rubin and Summers recommended him to run the New York Fed. "I felt intimidated by how much I had to learn," he writes of taking up the job in 2003.
Only weeks after leaving office, Barack Obama discovers a leak under his sink, so he calls Joe the Plumber to come out and fix it. Joe drives to Obama's new house, which is located in a very exclusive gated community where all the residents make more than $250,000 per year. how much it will cost. Joe checks his rate chart and says, "$9,500." "What?! $9,500?" Obama asks, stunned,
Joe says, "Yes, but what I do is charge those who make $250,000 per year a much higher amount so I can fix the plumbing of poorer people for free," explains Joe. "This has always been my philosophy. As a matter of fact, I lobbied the Democrat Congress, who passed this philosophy into law. Now all plumbers must do business this way. It's known as 'Affordable Plumbing Act of 2014.' I’m Surprised you haven't heard of it
I'm as surprised and outraged as you are to be fighting an anti-civil rights, anti-choice, anti-marriage equality nominee put forward by Obama's White House to serve on the federal bench in my home state in Georgia...We can turn this train around, but the Senate needs to know that the American people aren't willing to put the future of our courts in the hands of someone whose values should have been left behind in the 1950s. -- Rep. David Scott, D-Ga
At least, that's how Van Jones and Ward Churchill would describe it.
In 1905, Congress acted to reduce the size of Wind River by opening it up to homesteading by non-Indians, a decision affirmed in subsequent court rulings. It was determined that towns settled by homesteaders such as Riverton were not part of the reservation. To the EPA, both history and law are irrelevant.
Wyoming isn't sitting still for this.
"My deep concern," [Wyoming Governor Matt] Mead wrote in a statement issued last month, "is about an administrative agency of the federal government altering a state's boundary and going against over 100 years of history and law.
"This should be a concern to all citizens because, if the EPA can unilaterally take land away from a state, where will it stop?"
We too are concerned that an administration that has repeatedly ignored the courts, the Congress and the Constitution when the rule of law becomes too inconvenient in its pursuit of its fundamental transformation of America has now decided state sovereignty is an inconvenient relic.
Churchill can almost be heard, "Take that, bitches."
Those of you who think the press has a leftist bias will be as surprised as I was to read that, under the President Barack H. Obama Adminstration, the Federal Communications Commission is moving forward with plans to install a "wet nurse" in "radio, television, and even newspaper newsrooms" purportedly to find out if minority viewpoints are suppressed.
Pai warned that under the rationale of increasing minority representation in newsrooms, the FCC, which has the power to issue or not issue broadcasting licenses, would dispatch its "researchers" to newsrooms across America to seek their "voluntary" compliance about how news stories are decided, as well as "wade into office politics" looking for angry reporters whose story ideas were rejected as evidence of a shutout of minority views.
The surprising part of this story is not the government's, but the press industry's action. Or ... inaction.
It's an idea so fraught with potential for abuse it ought to have news agencies screaming bloody murder. The very idea of Obama hipsters showing up in newsrooms, asking questions and judging if newspapers (over which they have no jurisdiction), radio and TV are sufficiently diverse is nothing short of thought control.
But the reaction from the National Association of Broadcasters was mealy-mouthed. The FCC "should reconsider" "qualitative" sections of its study, it wrote.
The FCC now says it will be "closely reviewing the proposed research design to determine if an alternative approach is merited," as a result of Pai's warning. Adweek actually reported that as a "retreat."
Perhaps the powers that be in the news industry don't yet realize that by "minority views" the Administration intends to empower those who might defend personal liberty and voluntary trade in a free market?
UPDATE: Added the link to the wet nurse clip, as I had originally intended.
Conventional Wisdom states that the Obama Administration has increased sales of firearms and that the rest of the economy suffers. I'm happy to share a story that contradicts that.
The good people at Gibson Guitars have created a special edition Les Paul with the woods returned from confiscation in the famous Fish & Game SWAT team raid. They did the same with wood damaged in the 2010 flood. One of those found its way into my closet.
I do not really need another Les Paul. But I had to have one of these.
Government Series II Les Paul
Great Gibson electric guitars have long been a means of fighting the establishment, so when the powers that be confiscated stocks of tonewoods from the Gibson factory in Nashville--only to return them once there was a resolution and the investigation ended--it was an event worth celebrating. Introducing the Government Series II Les Paul, a striking new guitar from Gibson USA for 2014 that suitably marks this infamous time in Gibson's history.
Sadly for me, but happily for the cause of liberty, I received this first thing this morning:
I hope you and your lovely bride are doing well; to both of you we send our love and best wishes.
The Government LPs, as they are called by Gibson, went totally viral. We sold every one of ours on our shopping cart in minutes. I could have sold hundreds more. I have requested 100-200 from Gibson but I know there is no chance. Should one appear you will be the first to know and have the opportunity.
With the careers of two popular Republican governors--who might have been destined for national office--hanging in the balance, such suspicions of federal prosecutorial partisanship have become inevitable. But given that such federal prosecutions for state political activities abound, one must not be too quick to conclude that the department's motives are purely partisan. There may be some nonpartisan recklessness too. -- Harvey Silverglate.
Well, okay then. And don't miss his excellent "Three Felonies a Day" [Review Corner].
A bit apocalyptic but, if the whitewash of the IRS stands, Bryon Preston is right.
We had a good run as a republic, but if this stands and no one responsible is punished, then the Internal Revenue Service will be a tool of partisan politics for the foreseeable future. No one who criticizes a sitting president will be safe from harassment and abuse from a federal agency that can absolutely destroy lives.
My flirtation with the idea of a "mincome" or "Uncle Sam's Allowance" is well chronicled here but, in that same post, fellow Objectivist Craig Biddle explains how, despite my unbeknownst Platonic impulse to smooth over social divisions, the path to respecting individual rights is not embarked upon merely by violating those rights with more efficiency, transparency and less waste.
JK pragmatically concluded, "If the mincome were popular, I'd enjoy its strengths and accept its weaknesses as the pragmatic price of reform." Unfortunately, in pursuing popularity of a mincome, Republicans and Democrats would most surely find a "balance" more in line with the conditions enumerated by one entitled little twerp called Jesse A. Myerson. I won't link to his Rolling Stone piece - Jonah Goldberg did it so that I wouldn't have to - but to Jonah's deconstruction of it, which commences thusly:
"In America," Oscar Wilde quipped, "the young are always ready to give to those who are older than themselves the full benefits of their inexperience." And they often do it in the pages of Rolling Stone.
While I sought to establish a safe level of capitalist subsistence for every man such that he could pursue pleasurable and profitable pursuits, the young Myerson wants everyone to be paid for nothing because "jobs blow." Other things "blow" in Myerson's estimation, including "hoarding" or what my parents used to call "saving for a rainy day." Millenial Myerson's Rolling Stone Rant is essentially the Grasshopper's Manifesto Against the Ant. Tsk... winter is here, silly insect. To bad you failed to "hoard."
Long-time blog readers will recall the historical corrections here and here explaining that FDR did not end the Great Depression, he extended it. But not previously told is the story about how he was elected, following a Republican incumbent with a spending problem. Here is the short version. Holler if any of this seems familiar.
It was socialist Norman Thomas, not Franklin Roosevelt, who proposed massive increases in federal spending and deficits and sweeping interventions into the private economy - and he barely mustered 2 percent of the vote. When the dust settled, Warburg shows, we got what Thomas promised, more of what Hoover had been lambasted for, and almost nothing that FDR himself had pledged. FDR employed more "master minds" [a term FDR had used derisively while campaigning] to plan the economy than perhaps all previous presidents combined.
After detailing the promises and the duplicity, Warburg offered this assessment of the man who betrayed him and the country:
Much as I dislike to say so, it is my honest conviction that Mr. Roosevelt has utterly lost his sense of proportion. He sees himself as the one man who can save the country, as the one man who can "save capitalism from itself," as the one man who knows what is good for us and what is not. He sees himself as indispensable. And when a man thinks of himself as being indispensable . . . that man is headed for trouble.
Was FDR an economic wizard? Warburg reveals nothing of the sort, observing that FDR was "undeniably and shockingly superficial about anything that relates to finance." He was driven not by logic, facts, or humility but by "his emotional desires, predilections, and prejudices."
"Mr. Roosevelt," wrote Warburg, "gives me the impression that he can really believe what he wants to believe, really think what he wants to think, and really remember what he wants to remember, to a greater extent than anyone I have ever known." Less charitable observers might diagnose the problem as "delusions of grandeur."
UPDATE: Speaking of White House accounts, here is one of the first - by SecDef Robert Gates. WaPo My summary: Gates loved the military and its troops, detested the "truly ugly" culture in Congress, and thorougly mistrusted and disliked the President and his staff.
It should have been a banner year for the re-elected Barack Obama. In January he promised us the rollout of new health care and climate change legislation, immigration reform, more gun control and new federal spending initiatives. Instead, his approval ratings dived to the lowest level at this point in a president's second term since Richard Nixon's.
Why the sudden unpopularity of the mellifluous and charismatic Obama? He forgot the old rule that a president can mislead, misstate and misquote only so many times.
-- Victor Davis Hanson on Investors' editorial page.
Mr. Obama returned to his favorite theme of rising income inequality on Wednesday, which he called "the defining challenge of our time." He ought to know since few Presidents have done more to increase inequality than he has. Median household income has fallen since the economic recovery began, while the rich who own capital assets have done very well thanks to the Federal Reserve's focus on reflating stock and home prices. Mr. Obama is the Chief Economist of Nottingham posing as Robin Hood. -- WSJ Ed Page
It seems to me that there is a silver lining to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (Fascist-NV) rule change to eliminate any semblance of a filibuster process and make the Senate's advise and consent function a purely democratic process, subject to the same transient passions as any other majority-rule institution. "Cooling saucer" be damned.
On the bright side, there may no longer be any practical use for the once powerful RINO politician. After all, not a single Republican vote will be required to impose the Democrats' will upon the once Constitutionally protected American citizen.
Though it might have been a big risk several months ago, with the growing dissatisfaction over Obamacare emerging just in time for the CMA Awards, Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood hit it out of the park with this year’s funny skit.
It's one thing when a dyed-in-the-wool pure capitalist like me says it, but now the respected centrist Lawrence Kudlow says the "Affordable Care Act" is anti-freedom, unfair, unaffordable, and "well on its way to collapsing of its own weight" before concluding:
But here's the bigger point: All this is the inevitable result of massive central-planning exercises to control the economy. That's not freedom.
No amount of rescue legislation is going to change this. It's the elections of 2014 and 2016 that will allow the American people to reject this Soviet-style planning.
But I'll reference Krauthammer once again:
ObamaCare represents the greatest-ever expansion of the liberal entitlement-state dream. And you know what? That dream is crumbling and dissolving before our very eyes.
Promoted to embed from a comment by brother Keith, offered in response to melancholy references to the archaic and the obsolete, that among these are the idea that every man is an end within himself. And yes, it is today's ACA Horror Story.
"If you like your health plan, you can keep it. Period"
No, If -I- like your health plan, you can keep it. Until I decide otherwise.
"If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. No matter what."
No, If -I- like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. Unless he's a Republican.
"Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurance costs will go down."
No, under the ACA, "rich white people" will pay more, "lower income families and individuals will get the most help" and everyone will get less medical care. Well, everyone except the political class and their friends.
I really enjoyed reading this Investor's editorial and leaned toward posting. Then I saw who wrote it and couldn't get to the login page too quickly.
The mainstream media have in large part turned against ObamaCare, and all these factoids are going to be reported. So that raises the question regarding 2014: Do Republicans really want to bail out Obama by handing him a year's delay? If all the flaws in ObamaCare do pan out, they may well overshadow the shutdown negatives suffered by the GOP.
I think I am lining up on Chris Ruddy's side. There's an old political adage: If your opponent is determined to hang himself, for heaven's sake, don't take away the rope.
I must admit, not every ACA horror story is all that horrible.
For some time now I've been trying to explain that democrats in general, and President Obama in particular, have become Health Insurance salesmen instead of politicians. Meaning, that their popularity now depends on voters being happy about the cost benefit ratio of their health insurance plans. For most of my lifetime Republicans have never had a better cudgel with which to bludgeon their opponent. But now my point is being made in the "On the left" column at IBD Ed page by Dana Milbank:
This is perhaps the biggest problem facing ObamaCare and probably will haunt it long after the technical problems at HealthCare.gov are fixed.
Because of all the noise and disinformation, President Obama and the Democrats don't just own ObamaCare as a political issue. They own health care. Anytime something bad happens -- premiums rise, or employers change plans or pare coverage -- ObamaCare will be blamed, even if the new law had nothing to do with the change.
"It's one of the most frustrating things," says Brad Woodhouse, the former Democratic National Committee official who runs Americans United for Change. "If anybody has a problem with health care, Republicans say it has to be a problem with ObamaCare."
Does Woodhouse believe Democrats now own health care? "In some ways we probably do, which is unfair," he said. "Nobody said ObamaCare was a panacea for everything."
Rilly? That's sure what it sounded like when he was campaigning for President. Other than that though, I agree! (Who says we can't compromise.) It's Obamacare's fault!
Kaiser Health News called up a few insurers around the country and found that hundreds of thousands of Americans have already received cancellation notices.
"[T]he cancellation notices, which began arriving in August, have shocked many consumers in light of President Barack Obama’s promise that people could keep their plans if they liked them," according to Kaiser Health News reporters Anna Gorman and Julie Appleby.
And that doesn't include small groups or, after their 1 year delay, large group plans.
Don't take my word for it. Here is the spin from NPR:
For the congressional Democrats whose votes made the Affordable Care Act a reality and who will have to defend their support for the law in the 2014 midterm elections, the problems with the federal website are a political nightmare.
Not only do the website's problems embolden the Republican opposition to the law; they place Democrats on the defensive at a time when the party appears to have the advantage coming out of the shutdown/debt default crises.
Several recent polls suggest that Republicans greatly damaged themselves by forcing the crisis, a self-inflicted wound Democrats are eager to exploit. Some of the more ebullient Democrats even claimed that their chances for retaking the House had improved significantly.
But now there's a chance 2014 could find Democrats conducting their own version of damage control, as a result of the disastrous digital rollout.
We may yet learn which profession is most reviled by the American public: politicians, or insurance salesmen.
After a lengthy "government shutdown" in which the greatest public sacrifices were borne by visitors to America's National Parks, Congress appears poised to "re-open" the federal government. One cannot truthfully say "for business" but for whatever it is that the federal government, particularly the "nonessential" portions of Leviathan, normally does.
I support this "surrender." Important points have been made:
1) Fully 43% of federal civilian employees are non-essential, and could likely be let go, gradually and humanely, of course.
2) Republicans, at least a handful of them, have warned Americans loudly and clearly that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will make most of them worse off than they were before. They are on record as having tried to stop it before it did whatever damage is sure to come.
3) By the way, did we mention that federal government spending is out of control and we really can stop it if enough voters send us enough principled house members in '14? Toward this end, every vote between now and then adds to the ideological war chest in coming primary battles.
Now, fellow Lilliputians, it is time to step back and let Leviathan stumble along his predictable path. There are triplines in place, put there not by the Administration's partisan opponents, but by the selfish interests of millions of Americans. "I work for a living, and I vote."
One point of caution I can think of now is to be prepared to deflect calls by the Administration to "fix" or "rework" or "tweek" Obamacare as a cover for its failings. The proper rebuttal will be, this law is flawed in its premise and must be replaced with a system that delivers cost-effective care as demanded by a customer base that is free to make purchasing choices at the point of care. You know, like iTunes.
Best of all, since the "reopening" is only for 2-3 months, we get to do this all over again soon... with myriad Obamacare horror stories betwixt. What a country!
My first thought when I saw the video of this classless Boston Red Sox fan manhandle a home run baseball away from the woman next to him so that he could throw it back onto the field in an infantile display of tribal disapproval was, "that's a direct consequence of teaching people that any act can be tolerated if it is committed in the name of "the public good." I could almost hear the cretin shout, "You didn't earn that" as he forcibly took property from a weaker person of the fairer sex who had the audacity to also yell, "That's my baseball!"
But the real story here, according to Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan, is that the guy is a racist who allegedly called another fan wearing a Prince Fielder, Detroit Tigers jersey "Prince Fielder's crackhead brother" and "yelled at another African-American Tigers fan walking through the section, saying: "Go back to the ghetto." Of course the worst offense came as Mister Red Sox fan was being escorted from the area by stadium security and answered a "bye-bye" salutation from the Fielder jersey wearer with "Bye, Travon."
The closest Passan came to criticizing Mr. Red Sox fan was this paragraph about the act that got him ejected.
Video of the man taking the ball from a woman sitting next to him and chucking it onto the field quickly went viral as Boston faced a five-run deficit. The Red Sox came back for a dramatic 6-5 victory to even the ALCS at one game apiece.
Perhaps he would have cared more about the woman with the ball if she had been African-American.
I'll close with the cautionary advice of a commenter to the original linked story:
don't lump the entire Boston crowd in with this idiot... only about 90% of them behave like him.
1. So far, the Affordable Care Act's launch has been a failure. Not "troubled." Not "glitchy." A failure. But "so far" only encompasses 14 days. The hard question is whether the launch will still be floundering on day 30, and on day 45. -- Juicebox Mafioso, Ezra Klein
Wobbly Republicans should remember why they got into this fight in the first place: to stop ObamaCare. If they cave now, they'll have given up their best chance to spare the country this monumental disaster. -IBD Editorial: Is GOP Caving With Victory at Hand?
John Stossel took a peek into Nancy Pelosi's "bare" cupboard last night to see if she was correct in saying there is nothing left to cut. Brilliantly, he placed Social Security, Medicare and military spending on top of the cupboard since "those are so big they don't even fit in the cupboard." Mark Steyn takes on the same issue today saying, Too Much of the Federal Government Can't Be Shut Down.
"Mandatory spending" (Social Security, Medicare et al.) is authorized in perpetuity -- or, at any rate, until total societal collapse. If you throw in the interest payments on the debt, that means two-thirds of the federal budget is beyond the control of Congress' so-called federal budget process.
That's why you're reading government "shutdown" stories about the PandaCam at the Washington Zoo and the First Lady's ghost-Tweeters being furloughed.
He segues from there to what passes for a spending prioritization process in the capitol of our national, nee federal, government.
Pace Sen. Reid, Republican proposals to allocate spending through targeted, mere multi-billion-dollar appropriations is not only not "irresponsible" but, in fact, a vast improvement over the "continuing resolution": To modify Lord Acton, power corrupts, but continuing power corrupts continually.
America has no budget process. That's why it's the brokest nation in history. So a budgeting process that can't control the budget in a legislature that can't legislate leads to a government shutdown that shuts down open areas of grassland and the unmanned boat launch on the Bighorn River in Montana.
I've been Tweeting and Facebooking that we're witnessing day whatever-it-is of "Essential Government." In reality, what's still steaming ahead full is well beyond what is essential.
Meanwhile, President Obama has become the Hamlet of the West Wing: One minute he's for bombing Syria, the next he's not; one minute Larry Summers will succeed Ben Bernanke as chairman of the Federal Reserve, the next he won't; one minute the president is jetting off to Asia, the next he's not. To be in charge, or not to be in charge: that is indeed the question. -- Niall Ferguson
So supposedly the new health care law eliminates pre-existing condition restrictions. And you can stay on your parents' plan until you are 26 or some such. But there's still an "open-enrollment" period, which of course means that there's a closed enrollment period.
March 31, 2014
Open enrollment for 2014 health insurance coverage closes on March 31, 2014. Be sure to visit the Marketplace and enroll in a plan before this date.
After March 31, 2014, you can get new private health insurance for 2014 only through a special enrollment period if you have a qualifying life event like a job loss, birth, or divorce.
Government - Making life better since 1930.
UPDATE: Are we worried yet? What could possibly go wrong?
"You are allowing Connect for Health Colorado and the Department to use Social Security numbers and other information from your application to request and receive information or records to confirm the information in your application. You release Connect for Health Colorado and the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing from all liability for sharing this information with other agencies for this purpose. For example, Connect for Health Colorado and the Department may get and share your information with any of the following agencies: Social Security Administration; Internal Revenue Service; United States Customs and Immigration Services; Department of Homeland Security; Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; Colorado Department of Labor and Employment; Financial institutions (banks, savings and loans, credit unions, insurance companies, etc.); child support enforcement agencies; employers; courts; and other federal or state agencies. We need this information to check your eligibility for health insurance or help paying for health insurance, if you choose to apply, and give you the best service possible."
"Are you F'ing kidding me????" she wrote on the government's Obamacare Facebook page. "Where the HELL am I supposed to get $3,000 more a year to pay for this 'bronze' health insurance plan!?!??? And I DO NOT EVEN WANT INSURANCE to begin with!! This is frightening," -"Single mother of two" commenting on Healthcare.gov Facebook page
This chart from another federalist.com article - 8 Charts That Explain the Explosive Growth of U.S. Health Care Costs, shows how government medical spending, originally promised to help Americans afford care, has had the opposite effect.
Gosh, maybe we really do need another huge new federal health care program like Obamacare to "fix things."
So that's how the Obama campaign raised so much cash "on the internet"
This could be an "Otequay of the Ayday" post:
“We’re all familiar with the J-curve in private equity,” said Joseph Dear chief investment officer at the California Public Employee Retirement System in March. “Well, for CalPERS, clean-tech investing has got an L-curve for ‘lose.’”
“Our experience is this has been a noble way to lose money,” Dear added.
From an article at thefederalist.com -- The Venture Corporatists - "Saving the planet" has made lot of investors richer. Taxpayers? Not so much, which concludes:
As long as green technology remains not simply an economic venture but a moral one, taxpayers will continue to nobly lose money as politically connected “social entrepreneurs” reap a windfall.
A talk radio caller made a prescient comment this morning. We're not in the midst of a "government shutdown" or even a "partial government shutdown." Instead we're witnessing a "non-essential government shutdown." What a perfect opportunity for Americans to experience life without non-essential government! The longer it goes on, the less it will be missed as individuals take the initiative - much like several Republican congressmen who moved arbitrary barricades closing the WWII Memorial in D.C. yesterday - to solve problems and make things work. You know, that "land of the free" business.
Investors runs an editorial this morning that says not just that the "shutdown" was a good idea, but that Republicans should "own it" and keep it going as long as possible. Read the whole thing, but here is the lede, to whet your appetite:
The Republican Party didn't blink, and as a result non-essential aspects of the federal government are shutting down. Republican politicians and members should cheer, as the "Stupid Party" actually revealed a political and economic savvy that will serve it well in 2014 and beyond.
The Republican Party now has a brand that says it's willing to stand athwart the obnoxious growth of Leviathan. Its decision to allow a shutdown of the federal government, and ideally let it remain shut through the 2014 elections absent substantial concessions from the Democrats, is both good politics and economics.
Last evening I asked the President that my name be withdrawn from further consideration as his nominee to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). It appears that my nomination will not be reported favorably by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. I am withdrawing so that the President can move forward with another nominee, allowing the FERC to continue its important work with a full complement of commissioners.
I cannot remember the last time it felt this good to be wrong! Hallelujah!
Twitchy: "Surprise! Obamacare health insurance exchange websites don’t work; HealthCare.gov a total mess."
Of course, nobody is paying attention to the #epicobamafail -- we've a government shutdown! Republicans scaring old ladies and ruining your family vacation.
I will be a team player on Facebook and defend the valid reasons for getting where we has gotten to be. But I have to share my discontent with ThreeSourcers: we provided the Democrats with their escape pass.
An interesting nugget. We talked some of courage yesterday. The brave Republicans versus the Sir-Rodney-not-so-brave-as-Ted-Cruz Republicans. On Kudlow, it was mentioned that most GOP house members are in very safe seats thanks to gerrymandering. The real fear of most is a Tea-Party primary challenger. Ergo, supporting the shutdown was in many instances the craven and cowardly course. I don't like to guess what is in a representative's cold, cold heart. But I repeat this because the People's Front of Judea was pretty quick to call my side cowardly.
[Editor's note: two Monty Python references in one paragraph is prohibited by the ThreeSources Style Guide and should have been expunged. However, due to the government shutdown...]
Hollywood Reporter (magazine): "Another reason some Hollywood progressives have been reticent to speak out against war in Syria, according to Asner, is fear of being called racist."
Last week I asked, "So, you're on board for going to war with no more justification than 'the black president decided we should?'" Days later Ed Asner answered, "A lot of people don't want to feel anti-black by being opposed to Obama." In other words, "yes."
It's not a partisan thing, according to Ed.
"Whether it's a Republican or Democrat president, or Republican or Democrat Congress -- and it doesn't make a God-damned difference -- it behooves us to get off our ass and ask these questions," Asner said.
Just don't ever disagree with a black president.
More good anti-war schadenfreude at the first link.
The title of this post is my favorite bumper sticker ever from "the other side."
But the President was certainly right that there is "more work to do." There are still employers out there -- Prof. Mark J Perry has found -- that think they can get away with paying women less than 87 cents for every dollar they'd pay a man:
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er, with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment,
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.
So speaks Hamlet, describing the curse of his own paralyzing indecisiveness, at the conclusion of Shakespeare's most famous soliloquy. These are the lines that have been going through my head over the past week as I have watched President Obama agonize over the big question about Syria: to bomb or not to bomb? -- Robert Tracinski
The federal government, at least initially, will not stand in the way of marijuana legalization in Colorado or Washington.
In a memo sent out Thursday to federal prosecutors, the Department of Justice said it will not make it a priority to block marijuana-legalization laws in Colorado or Washington or close down recreational marijuana stores, so long as the stores abide by state regulations.
It pains me to say nice things about the Attorney General. But compare this to AG John Ashcroft persecuting (sic) Angel Raich. Woohoo, Eric Holder!
Aside from these personal fixes, there is a solution to put the country (including any wayward stragglers or stunted post-adolescents) back on the path of prosperity. Americans could stop supporting anti-growth politicians pushing agendas that strangle the economy, weaken the dollar, and surreptitiously erode civil liberties, but let’s be serious. 60% of those ages 18-29 reelected President Obama. So, what’s left? Keep checking feeds, going on pointless dates, and buying more gadgets? Frankl would tell the lost ones to find a will to meaning in this world, but finding purpose can be put off, even if the abyss persists and they pester the rest of the world as impotently self-involved non-starters, for lack of ever finding a self or a start.
As the pro-western Egyptian military declares, through its actions, that it is with George W. Bush and not the terrorists, America's government treats them like pariahs. If I didn't know better I'd think our President was with the terrorists. But there is scant evidence to the contrary. IBD editorial:
In 2009, his grandiose speech in Cairo apologized for America's historical role in the Middle East and snubbed Mubarak, setting the stage for the Egyptian president's overthrow by the mob.
When the worst-case scenario happened and an operative for the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Morsi, was elected president, Obama's secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, went to Cairo and personally coddled him.
President Obama's foreign policy is reminiscent of his domestic economic policy, where he uses the power of government to punish winners and reward losers. With friends like him, Egypt (and American business) don't need enemies.
Under President Obama, "Income Gap" gets ... Wider
Investors Editorial Page:
Research by University of California economist Emmanuel Saez shows that since the Obama recovery started in June 2009, the average income of the top 1% grew 11.2% in real terms through 2011.
The bottom 99%, in contrast, saw their incomes shrink by 0.4%.
As a result, 121% of the gains in real income during Obama's recovery have gone to the top 1%. By comparison, the top 1% captured 65% of income gains during the Bush expansion of 2002-07, and 45% of the gains under Clinton's expansion in the 1990s.
The Census Bureau's official measure of income inequality — called the Gini index — shows similar results. During the Bush years, the index was flat overall — finishing in 2008 exactly where it started in 2001.
It's gone up each year since Obama has been president and now stands at all-time highs.
Read More At Investor's Business Daily: http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials/073013-665705-income-gap-grew-sharply-under-obama.htm#ixzz2aeUovkfz
Follow us: @IBDinvestors on Twitter | InvestorsBusinessDaily on Facebook
The editorial blames "Obama's historically weak economic recovery, which has left the rest of the country falling behind while the wealthy have managed to make gains." That is surely a factor, but the bigger reason is, I think, Stealthflation. Hear me out - I left the following comment on the IBD article:
The non-recovery recovery is one explanation for the growing gap between rich and poor under President "spread the wealth around." The other, perhaps more powerful effect, is the roughly 10 percent per year that working people's purchasing power declines each year as a result of monetary inflation - inflation that is carefully excluded from government CPI data but that exists nontheless as illustrated by the Chapwood Index (dot com) of real consumer commodity costs. Inflation hurts most those with less disposable income, but barely affects the so-called "one-percent" since so much of their income comes from stock market investments, which actually increase with higher inflation. I like to call this intentionally hidden yet fully real inflation "stealthflation." But I wasn't the first.
Get ready for Ron Binz, America. His efficacy in raising our utility rates and regulating beyond the bounds of law has been recognized in high places and he is in line for a big promotion. The WSJ Ed Page does not seem to be a fan:
Yet that will seem minor if the next FERC chairman is Ron Binz--the most important and radical Obama nominee you've never heard of. An electric regulator in Colorado from 2007 to 2011, Mr. Binz is the latest Presidential nominee who doesn't understand the difference between making laws and enforcing them.
No, that's unfair. Mr. Binz doesn't care about the difference. In a recent interview with the Association for the Demand Response and Smart Grid trade group, reflecting on the lessons of his Colorado job, he nodded at the "judicial role" of regulators. But then he mused about their "legislative role" too: "I saw the commission not simply as an umpire calling balls and strikes, but also as a leader on policy implementation."
Oh boy. Binz will now be bringing those umpiring skills to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which used to be a quiet overseer of electric transmission and interstate pipelines
FERC was a sleepy regulator until the Obama Presidency, but it has statutory powers that could be turned into anticarbon weapons, such as the authority to impose fines of up $1 million per day for what it claims are violations. They also include the power to block energy mergers and the construction of terminals, pipelines and transmission.
You can bet that Mr. Binz will be creative and political, and don't be so sure his only target is coal. At an Edison Foundation panel this March, he called natural gas a "dead end" technology because "on the carbon basis, you hit the wall in 2035 or so." He added that "We have to do better on carbon than even natural gas will allow us to do." This is unusual in that the greens usually pretend to support gas to make outlawing coal seem more reasonable. Mr. Binz let the mask slip.
Mr. Binz is part of the White House's damn-the-voters strategy of imposing through regulation what Congress won't pass, and now he wants to glide into FERC without protest. But the Senate's advice-and-consent role is especially important because a FERC chairman has broad powers, much like a CEO's, even if other commissioners dissent--and the chairman is not supposed to carry Mr. Obama's banner. Mr. Binz's record and methods deserve far more scrutiny than they have received.
Odds of Binz's not being confirmed? Zero? One in 100? Over-and-under anybody? Of course he we will be confirmed and the War on Coal will be escalated to Natural Gas.
Detroit's failings are many and its debts staggering. Obama did not cause them. But his economic remedies and intervention have achieved little. And his unhinged enthusiasm about what was happening in Detroit in 2011, and how it fit into the larger story of American economic life, provides an inconvenient backdrop for Obama's economic address Wednesday and those that follow. -Major Garrett in Remember When Obama Said Detroit Was Coming Back?
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Michelle Obama is speaking out about the toll that gun violence is taking on young people, in a shift that shows the first lady's willingness to tackle new and polarizing issues as she shapes her second term.
FLOTUS's Second term agenda. Refresh my memory, which Article in the Constitution describes that?
Responding to President Obama's attorney general using the legally just ruling in The Florida Case as another excuse to take guns from law abiding citizens, Jeffrey T. Brown tells us to 'Stand Your Ground' Against the Left.
To Holder and the president, the isolated events involving Trayvon Martin, which have not been publicly replicated anywhere else in America on any regular or reported basis, serve as yet another excuse to launch sweeping radical attacks on the rights of all Americans. They loathe the ability of citizens to protect themselves against the left's predators, whether social or political.
There's an angle I hadn't given enough thought. It's commonly understood that welfare statists deplore citizens who can protect themselves against government, but don't the same voices tell us that criminals are the "real victims" and deserve our "understanding?" The latest Rolling Stone cover fits in that niche. If so, the fight to protect individual gun rights is both political and social.
Segue to a post-Newtown story about mass murders, also from American Thinker, which claims Psychiatric Community Not Stepping Up. I touched on this aspect of the Newtown case when I cited widespead use of anti-depressants like Ritalin ("Ritalin is not just like methamphetamine, Ritalin is methamphetamine.") in the comments here. Author Bernie Reeves is more specific, laying blame at the feet of those social professionals whose reason for being is to detect and treat the mentally ill - psychiatrists.
It is now time to remove guns from the top position in media coverage and implore the psychiatric community to coalesce and present a formula to identify and deal with potentially psychotic patients. As it stands now, the only method to remove dangerous patients is to have them arrested, which requires a process often too difficult and wrenching to contemplate.
The Sandy Hook shootings have affected parents more deeply than any of the dozens of previous massacres since the 1980s. Discussing the event with young children is difficult, and creates anxiety that saying the wrong thing could be permanently damaging. It is indeed a national trauma that requires national therapy. There is a gnawing helplessness that 'there is nothing we can do'.
Yet there is, but the professionals who can construct a solution are the ones who abandoned their duty, leaving 20 little children and six adults dead. You would think they would step up.
Virtually the only public defenders of the settlement were an intern at ThinkProgress, Kumar Ramanathan, and an attorney for SUNY general counsel's office, both of whom interpreted the blueprint in a highly peculiar fashion (they seemed to see it as merely a "reporting" tool) and then proceeded to celebrate the idea of a government mandate requiring universities to investigate publicly-protected speech. Posts by FIRE eviscerated both of these items. -- KC Johnson, Minding the Campus
President Obama's decision last week to suspend the employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act may be welcome relief to businesses affected by this provision, but it raises grave concerns about his understanding of the role of the executive in our system of government.
Article II, Section 3, of the Constitution states that the president "shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed." This is a duty, not a discretionary power. While the president does have substantial discretion about how to enforce a law, he has no discretion about whether to do so.
This matter--the limits of executive power--has deep historical roots. During the period of royal absolutism, English monarchs asserted a right to dispense with parliamentary statutes they disliked. King James II's use of the prerogative was a key grievance that lead to the Glorious Revolution of 1688. The very first provision of the English Bill of Rights of 1689--the most important precursor to the U.S. Constitution--declared that "the pretended power of suspending of laws, or the execution of laws, by regal authority, without consent of parliament, is illegal." -- Michael McConnell
"It's a fascinating transformation for Obama," said Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law professor at George Washington University who has become one of the administration's chief legal critics. "He rightfully criticized President Bush for violating the separation of powers and using signing statements to rewrite legislation, but Obama has been far more aggressive in circumventing Congress and far more successful in creating an imperial presidency," he said. --Obama Skips Past Congress Again With Health Mandate Delay
"MS. PSAKI: Well, he was reiterating what the President has said publicly and what was also in the readout, which is that this is -- democracy is about more than just elections. It's about ensuring that people can have their voices heard -- peacefully, of course, is always the goal. And he -- and you saw that the President urged President Morsy to take steps to show that he is responsive to their concerns, and the Secretary agrees that that is an important step for the government to take."
The title puts me in a mood to make a list: love, poetry, the Designated Hitter can all be called more important than the NSA scandal. More seriously, I worry that the IRS scandal, which I consider more serious, is losing media oxygen as we debate "Is Edward Snowden a Virgo or an Aquarius?"
But the title was supposed to introduce an excellent A. Barton Finkle post which ties the scandals together into a much larger question of asymmetrical government capacities and a free people's ceding their rights to an unelected "regulatory branch" of government.
The principle animating democratic and republican government is accountability to the governed. Yet more and more government action lies beyond the citizens' reach. As law professor Jonathan Turley explained in a Washington Post piece that appeared before the surveillance leaks, "our carefully constructed system of checks and balances is being negated by the rise of a fourth branch of government, an administrative state of sprawling departments and agencies that govern with increasing autonomy and decreasing transparency." (Viz., the NSA.)
The "vast majority of laws," he continues, "are not passed by Congress but issued as regulations, crafted largely by thousands of unnamed, unreachable bureaucrats." In 2007, he writes, "Congress enacted 138 public laws, while federal agencies" -- there are now 69 of them – "finalized 2,926 rules."
The administrative state is taking over not only the legislative function, but also the judicial: Turley reports that "a citizen is 10 times more likely to be tried by an agency than by an actual court." And such agency creep, as it might be called, does not stop at the federal-state boundary.
Last month the Minnesota Supreme Court deferred answering a basic question of constitutional rights: Can the government enter your home without probable cause? A city ordinance in Red Wing, Minn., allows building inspectors with administrative warrants to enter rental units even when both the landlord and the tenant object. And as the Arlington-based Institute for Justice points out, they "do not require the government to have any evidence that there is anything actually wrong with a residence."
The NSA, EPA, IRS, and the DH (see how I snuck that last one in there?) operate entirely outside of "the consent of the governed" or citizen oversight. Fans of John Stossel's TV show know he keeps a (rather ginormous) pile of just the Federal rules on set.
You're in tinfoil hat country when you opine about the tyranny of the Red Wing Minnesota Municipal Building Code Inspectors ("I've seen grown men tear their own 'eads off before facing the RWMMBCI...") but it is a piece of a larger bit of tyranny.
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 physician’s 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 didn’t 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, there’s 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 Obama’s transformational energy. So welcome to the party. Wish you’d 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 I’ve 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. It’s 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, we’ve 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. Ham’s 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 administration’s 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 Obama’s 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 who’s 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 Obama’s 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 don’t 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, you’ll 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 Obama’s goal, one fact is undeniable. When Obama’s 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 Obama’s 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 world’s energy supply by lowering prices, improving security and curbing carbon dioxide emissions, but the industry might be stopped in its tracks if it doesn’t 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 America’s 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 USA’s "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, we’re told what to do by those who wield more power—our 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 UN’s Commission on Human Rights, even as the ethnic cleansing of Darfur proceeds.
Tracing the evolution of this belief system through human history—ancient Greece to Marxism to the dawn of political correctness—Prell 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, America’s 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 now—our 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 Chicago’s 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 who’s 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 state’s "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 won’t actively oppose President Obama’s reelection bid, Roberts said the new EPA regulation could prevent the union from endorsing the president.
“That’s something that we have not done yet and may not do because of this very reason. Our people’s 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 Tuesday’s interview with host Hoppy Kercheval, took aim at the Sierra Club, arguing the environmental group’s 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 I’m convinced, Hoppy, that if you give the Sierra Club enough money, they could shut your job down. I don’t know how they’d do it, but they’d 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 Obama’s 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 hasn’t 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 isn’t 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 don’t 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.