First, allow me to quote American Thinker's Rick Moran:
"Oh. My. God."
Does Disneyland measure wait times? Does Disneyland measure wait times!! You clueless bureaucrat, Disneyland knows the wait time for every major attraction in every park to the minute - in real-time. And, much more importantly, Disneyland, like every private-sector business, does everything in their power to reduce their wait times. Even going so far as to accept appointments for the highest demand attractions, as is done with great efficiency in industries such as, for instance, with no specific reason for mentioning it, MEDICINE! Unless government is in charge. You clowns can screw up anything. Perhaps because, since your job doesn't depend on it, you really don't care about your "customers."
When the Obama Administration actually goes to court, they seem to have a rough go:
Judge Collyer takes 38 pages to eviscerate the Administration's claim that it can infer an appropriation if Congress has merely authorized a program. Congress authorizes all sorts of programs without spending money on them in one year or another. Presidents before Mr. Obama have understood that no money can be spent without an express appropriation.
The ruling is a vindication of the separation of powers under the Constitution, which in Article I gives Congress sole power over spending. This is a crucial check on tyranny. If a President can combine the legislative power to spend with the power to execute the laws, he can ignore Congress and govern by whim.
This is what Mr. Obama has attempted to do in his second term, famously claiming "I've got a pen and I’ve got a phone." He taunted Congress by saying, "so sue me," and then he called the suit a "stunt."
There may be doubt that large numbers of undocumented immigrants could draw upon America's generous social safety net of government programs before President Obama's executive action regarding parents of childhood illegal aliens, but there's no doubt about it afterward. Investors' Ed page:
The Senators' brief [to SCOTUS] as quoted by CNSNews blogger Terence P. Jeffrey, goes on: "With millions of illegal aliens not permitted to remain in this country, work in this country, or receive government benefits pursuant to federal law, the Executive decided to provide such privileges to them anyway through administrative fiat,"
They hit the bull's-eye.
Their brief was filed as Texas (along with a number of other states) challenges President Obama's executive order granting "lawful status" to the parents of illegal aliens, many of whom have been granted their own reprieves from deportation via the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals or who serve as "anchor babies" to discourage federal officials from deporting their parents. It wasn't enough to grant lawful status to illegals -- the president wanted to grant it to everyone.
What that wholesale reprieve amounts to is the president, not Congress, giving illegals "lawful presence," entitling them to welfare, food stamps, earned income tax credits, Social Security and housing. By coincidence, that's exactly the kind of dependency that stimulates Democrats and draws illegals into becoming faithful constituencies.
The two floral dresses that first lady Michelle Obama sported in Cuba this week would not be affordable for the wide majority of individuals living in the repressive country.
Well, duh! In Capitalism, second class citizens who face discrimination their whole lives because of skin color can raise themselves up to wearing $4000 dresses. And in the developed world, free trade provides opportunities for artists and designers to command these prices.
Pacé The Devil Wears Prada, these beautiful looks will filter down to the American Hoi Polloi. If you people would discard your socialist overlords, you could play too.
Whatever precedent says, if Republicans truly believe Obama has displayed a contempt for the Constitution, they have a moral obligation to reject his choice -- whether it's someone who argues in favor of book banning or enables abusive power. Because we're not talking about good-faith disagreements over what the Constitution says anymore, we're talking about a party that believes enumerated powers stand in their way.
And while Senate Republicans have talked a decent game, during at least the second term of the Obama Administration, they don't have many courageous moments to celebrate. This could be the moment of moments.
They will have to argue that a lame duck president should not be empowered to change the composition of the Supreme Court. After all, Republicans won both Houses making an argument against Obama's overreach.
Voters seem less inclined to be moved by idealistic arguments these days, so Republicans may suffer the short-term consequences. But if conservatives truly believe their rhetoric on constitutional values -- all that stuff about the First and Second Amendments, about religious freedom and checks and balances -- this might be the most worthwhile battle they've faced.
"We have recommended prohibiting all cell phone use, including hands-free, because a driver's mind must be on the driving, just as their hands must be on the wheel," he said.
The agency called for a "cultural change" for its recommendation, since no states or the District of Columbia currently outlaw hands-free devices.
"Since people have limited attention, each auxiliary task impairs our processing of the primary task. For safety-critical operations, distraction must be managed, even engineered, to ensure safe operations," according to the agency's recommendations.
And don't even get me started on lowering the BAC limit.
2015 will soon be Auld Lang Syne and Thomas Sowell says, Good riddance.
Lying, by itself, is obviously not new. What is new is the growing acceptance of lying as "no big deal" by smug sophisticates, so long as these are lies that advance their political causes. Many in the media greeted the exposure of Hillary Clinton's lies by admiring how well she handled herself.
Lies are a wall between us and reality -- and being walled off from reality is the biggest deal of all. Reality does not disappear because we don't see it. It just hits us like a ton of bricks when we least expect it.
But a wise man said, "If something cannot go on forever, it will stop." So raise your glass, friend:
National Review's Kevin Williamson writes, in describing "the Democratic party's newfound commitment to totalitarianism" that is expressed through President Obama's lawless executive orders:
But, remember, Democrats: These are your rules.
If Steven Hayes of the Weekly Standard can be deprived of his constitutional rights because his name appears on a secret presidential list, then so can Paul Krugman or Rachel Maddow. If the Second Amendment can be treated as optional at the president's discretion, then so can the First. If Pfizer can be sanctioned by the federal government for making entirely legal and ethical business decisions that the president doesn't like, so can Microsoft, Google, and Facebook. If President Obama can circumvent Congress in both domestic and international affairs simply because he's unhappy with the way the people's elected representatives are conducting their business, then so can President Cruz, President Rubio, President Fiorina . . .
Or, angels and ministers of grace defend us, President Trump.
Except that they can't. Were a Republican to do what Barack I has done, the fourth estate would plaintively wail. The political pressure on a Republican president who singled out political foes would, and should, be unbearable. (The problem being their utter disregard when a Democrat does so.) But the "news" media would be equally critical of executive orders to, for example, authorize a uniform national concealed carry license; or rescind all of the putative air "pollution" regulations on energy companies. And that's why we are not at liberty: Because hoi polloi only pays attention when their media master calls for it. Because those media masters want a totalitarian president - as long as he is their flavor of totalitarian.
"Our presidents are beginning to act like kings" because "there is always a crown beyond the horizon."
More from Charles C.W. Cooke was (re)printed today, and I find it has a familiar ring.
Once upon a time, Obama insisted that he was "not a king" or an "emperor" or a "dictator," and confirmed that his "job as the head of the executive branch ultimately is to carry out the law." Now he justifies his behavior with talk of necessity and vows that if "Congress won't act," he will.
John Adams characterized the office that Obama holds as enjoying "the whole executive power, after divesting it of those badges of domination called prerogatives." In this assessment he was reflecting what might be regarded as the Founders' central conceit: that when the laws that govern men's fortunes are subject to the whims of the powerful rather than to the consent of the governed, there can be no liberty. Are we at liberty?
No, we aren't. At least not as much as the founders hoped.
Columnist Ruben Navarette says that America is "an unserious country in unserious times." Well, perhaps collectively.
Worst of all, Americans tend not to connect the dots. What our enemies envision as a coordinated global assault, many of us see as unrelated attacks. We witness a terrorist assault in France, and some Americans think it is limited to France.
Our worldview is all wrong. We look at the map and see separate countries. Islamic State militants look at the same map, and the only division they see is between believers and infidels. One group gets to live, the other must die.
Americans know the world is complicated. We don't expect our leaders to have all the answers. But we do want to know that they understand the threat, that they can destroy the enemy, and that they're up to the task of keeping us and our families safe.
But we have to do our part as well. And it starts with being serious about confronting this threat.
And it used to be that seriousness could always be found in the White House.
Did anyone else see this? I heard him say it live, this morning. Or at least, his lips were moving and these were the sounds I heard.
It's not merely that "99.5% of scientists" say that global climate science is "real" and "serious" [up from a steady 97 percent for the last two decades or so] but more importantly, the President says, "also 99% of world leaders."
"It spans political parties," he continued. "You travel around Europe and you talk to leaders of governments and the opposition, and they are arguing about a whole bunch of things. One thing they're not arguing about is whether the science of climate change is real and whether or not we have to do something about it."
"I think the president of the United States is going to need to think this is really important," Obama said. "Your credibility and America's ability to influence events depends on taking seriously what other countries care about."
So in order to be "credible" and in order to influence events, one must accept a tenuous theory assembled upon a mountain of dubious or downright fraudulent data, and be willing to act against the interests of American citizens to prove that he "takes seriously what other countries care about?"
Is he as stupid as he thinks we are? He really does take this "lead from behind" a.k.a. "follow" strategy seriously. No credibility gap there.
As for that 99% consensus of world leaders, meet MP Tim Yeo.
In 2009 Yeo said: "The dying gasps of the deniers [sic] will be put to bed. In five years' time no-one will argue about a man-made contribution to climate change." Now, four years later, he is saying: "Although I think the evidence that the climate is changing is now overwhelming, the causes are not absolutely clear. There could be natural causes, natural phases that are taking place." Within the Anthropogenic Global Warming hierarchy, that retraction is broadly akin to Richard Dawkins joining the Cistercian Order.
“It was warmer during the Roman Period, a fact that is acknowledged by the IPCC…. It got cooler during the Dark Ages. It then got warmer during the Medieval Period. And then it became much colder until about 1800,” says Davies,
Hat tip PowerLine, but it should be everywhere by now:
What I'm not interested in doing is posing or pursuing some notion of American leadership or America winning or whatever other slogans they come up with that has no relationship to what is actually going to work to protect the American people and to protect the people in the region who are getting killed and to protect our allies and people like France. I'm too busy for that.
They? Too busy???
Hugh Hewitt tried to cover this presser, and yet I heard this eloquent trial lawyer, steeped in the world of rhetoric and politics absolutely give up trying to parse the massive, arrogant incoherence of the unbelievably shrinking imPOTUS. 13 months to go!
On October 13, the Republican chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee subpoenaed NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan.:
"It was inconvenient for this administration that climate data has clearly showed no warming for the past two decades," Smith said in a statement. "The American people have every right to be suspicious when NOAA alters data to get the politically correct results they want and then refuses to reveal how those decisions were made. NOAA needs to come clean about why they altered the data to get the results they needed to advance this administration's extreme climate change agenda." [emphasis mine]
At issue are "documents stemming from deliberative scientific discussions that took place before the study's end product was final," that were deliberately withheld according to NOAA spokesman Ciaran Clayton.
"We have provided data (all of which is publicly available online), supporting scientific research, and multiple in person briefings. We stand behind our scientists who conduct their work in an objective manner. …We have provided all of the information the committee needs to understand this issue."
Do legal defendants get to decide when the prosecutor has enough information to "understand this issue?"
Meanwhile, Exxon Mobil is under a broad subpoena of records over the past ten years by the New York Attorney General for investigation of lying to the public about the risks of climate change.
No, this is not a joke. I have not made any of this up for comedic effect.
Related - Hillary "Clinton said last week that the Department of Justice should investigate ExxonMobil for allegedly withholding data related to climate change, saying that there is "a lot of evidence they misled people."
Completely UN-related (OBviously) - "USA TODAY has confirmed that sponsors from 2014 that have backed out for this year include electronics company Samsung, oil giant ExxonMobil, ..."
"Headquarters of terrorist group and an arms depot were destroyed in the region of Ildib, as well as a militant three-level fortified command point in the region of Hama," Moscow's ministry of defense said.
It also said Su-24Ms and Su-25s, aircraft first put in service by the Soviet Union in the 1970s, made eight sorties against the IS targets, and succeeded in avoiding civilian casualties.
Meantime, the U.S. in over a year and three months can't make meaningful gains against IS.
It looks like Vladimir Putin has finally found a use for Secretary of State Clinton's "reset" button. That was easy!
None of this was imaginable before Barack Obama came on the scene. Russia, while clearly ambitious for more global power under Putin, had apparently permanently lost its standing as a global superpower.
It took a U.S. president committed to revolutionary change in America's role in the world to reawaken the Russian bear and provide an opening for Putin's aggression.
When the U.S. fulfills its role as leader in the world, we are criticized, even ridiculed. But we are respected. Putin's Russia is not about to be loved, but it may begin to be greatly respected if it starts doing things that the U.S. is supposed to do but won't.
Vice President Joe Biden, who may hop into the race, is 72. Biden has a compelling personal story, but he also is gaffe-prone and must carry the baggage of an administration that has many voters clamoring for change.
*gasp* do we need a Category for Religion? Leaving that (and my blogging rights) aside, I wanted to point out again, what a pompous little boy who's unfit for the shoes handed to him by the electorate is.
I'm no fan of this Pope, but believe he deserves a modicum of respect, which, of course, is too much for the Crybaby in Chief. "invited guests for Pope Francis ... include transgender activists, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, and a nun who criticizes church policies on abortion and euthanasia" so much for her convent!
The Washington Post does a solid job of staying on the list of respectable publications with this:
What struck us as we read about this small controversy is the contrast between the administration’s apparent decision to risk a bit of rudeness in the case of the pope and its overwhelming deference to foreign dictators when similar issues arise.
When Secretary of State John F. Kerry traveled to Havana to reopen the U.S. Embassy recently, he painstakingly excluded from the guest list any democrat, dissident or member of civil society who might offend the Castro brothers.
And when Chinese President Xi Jinping comes to the White House next week, shortly after the pope leaves town, it’s a safe bet that he won’t have to risk being photographed with anyone of whom he disapproves. Chen Guangcheng, the courageous blind lawyer, for example, lives nearby in exile, but he probably won’t be at the state dinner. Neither will Falun Gong activists, democracy advocates or anyone else who might, well, give offense.
On this 14th sad anniversary of 9/11, as the President of the United States prepares to deliver to the ideological creators of Islamism not bombs, but billions of American taxpayers' dollars, I was inspired by a Facebook meme to revisit Leonard Peikoff's 'End States Who Sponsor Terrorism' advertisement from October 2nd, 2001 edition of the New York Times.
I recalled we had discussed that essay on these pages, and that it was not well received. I see now that much if not all of the blame for that falls on my shoulders. I foolishly suggested that the war against Islamism could be won with superior firepower. It cannot, and Peikoff knows that. He said as much in his essay. It can only be won by the equivalent of the "de-Nazification" of Iran. To my credit, I did at least excerpt that portion of his essay in my 2005 post.
Eliminating Iran's terrorist sanctuaries and military capability is not enough. We must do the equivalent of de-Nazifying the country, by expelling every official and bringing down every branch of its government. This goal cannot be achieved painlessly, by weaponry alone. It requires invasion by ground troops, who will be at serious risk, and perhaps a period of occupation. But nothing less will "end the state" that most cries out to be ended."
The whole piece is worth re-reading, as I did, with nine more years of experience under our belts. Please do so and see if perhaps your judgment of Peikoff's conclusions was as mistaken as was my proposed way forward.
To the unsuspecting, sustainability is just a new name for environmentalism. But the word marks out a new and larger ideological territory in which it is claimed curtailing economic, political, and intellectual liberty is the price that must be paid to ensure the welfare of future generations.
They call it "fundamentalism" because examination, investigation, discussion and debate are forbidden. The "science is settled." The doctrine is final. The living must be harmed so that "the ability of future generations to meet their own needs" is not compromised. [The sustainability movement makes no mention of how aborting them in the womb compromises the needs of the members of those future generations.]
The sustainability movement began in 1987 with a UN report - "Our Common Future" and has metastasized into 1438 degree programs at 475 colleges and universities worldwide. Interestingly, the majority of them - 1274 or some 95 percent - are in the United States; at least one such program in every one of our 50 united states. So the camp of this ideological enemy of freedom and liberty and, yes, science, is not across the Atlantic, but here on our own soil.
Thank you National Academy of Scholars for exposing the nature and scope of this movement and the professional organization "Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education" (AASHE) that promotes the fully immoral idea that "we" are not as important as some unknown and non-existent "future we."
And they have the nerve to criticize believers in "unknown and non-existent" deities.
Nearly five years after passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, mounting evidence suggests that the law may not be achieving either end. -- July Kelly and Jeff Stier WSJ Ed Page
UPDATE: No, I am not done. William Easterly, call your office!
Even though lunches are "free," they are so unappetizing thanks to new nutrition standards that much food is thrown away. "It is horrible," one inner-city principal, responsible for 1,200 students and 10,000 meals a week, told us. "It is just heartbreaking how much food is thrown away."
So the students go hungry most of the day, until after school when enterprising vendors sell items like pork rinds, hot chips, or fresh corn mixed with cheese and mayonnaise from food carts outside of the school. Students don't eat the free, healthy meals at school, remain hungry during the day, then flock to purchase the unhealthy foods the school lunches aim to replace.
When President Obama named human caused Climate Change as the cause of "an immediate risk to our national security" in his address to the graduating class of the Coast Guard Academy this week, something tells me his intended audience was folks like CNN's Juliette Kayyem.
Skeptics of these global seismic shifts are not simply denying science, they are denying safety and security. Until we recognize -- with the immediacy we would if a nation launched missiles against our cities -- that climate change isn't something that can be debated, but must be mitigated or, failing that, adapted to, we will not expend the effort or resources to prepare ourselves to the one phenomenon that we know is coming: simply, the waters are rising and this is a war.
Got that? The risk of climate change demands the same immediacy as a missile launch against our cities.
But the Arabic speaking world* has a much different perspective on the President's priorities.
*The owner of the video admits "Folks.......this a spoof. It was never intended to be taken as a legitimate news report. Obviously two things are at play here. One, I did the job too well.
Two, we have come to the stage in the Obama presidency where quite literally..........anything is possible"
One of the great things about President Obama (a phrase I use so frequently, I have it stored as a macro) now where was I?
One of the great things about President Obama is his ineptness a legislator. I am reminded of Robert A Caro's "Passage of Power." (Have I mentioned those Caro books as being pretty good?) President Kennedy was twice the legislator President Obama is, but few of his initiatives made it through Congress. Sen. Richard Russell's (Rule 52 - GA) Senate successfully bottled everything. LBJ assumed the reins and thought it his duty to complete his slain boss's legislative agenda. The "Master of the Senate" twisted arms, cajoled, threatened, horse-traded, &c. Pretty soon the JFK package was completed by LBJ.
Our current president has zero faculty for this. He never passed anything the Senate. He is bright enough that I am certain he understands the basics of how it works. But he has not one whiff of LBJ's knowledge of how it really works. As one who opposes most of his agenda, we're generally fortunate in this lacuna.
But this week I wanted him to win on Asian trade. And he muffed it. The WSJ Ed Page blames its failure completely on his bad governing style; I find myself in no mood to rush to his defense.
The 52-45 liberal blockade doesn't mean trade-promotion authority is dead. But preventing a setback from becoming a rout will require a Republican salvage operation to rescue Mr. Obama from the consequences of his governing methods.
The politics of trade require Presidents to cultivate coalitions from the center out, building a majority between statist progressives and the protectionist right. But that is not Mr. Obama's thing. His instincts are to govern from the left, treat Members of Congress as peasants who must bow before his superior wisdom, and then assail the motives and character of his opponents.
Mr. Obama's attack-and-polarize approach worked while he had overwhelming liberal majorities, despite private unrest among Democrats about the White House's ex-cathedra habits. They didn't mind when he attacked Republicans as moral cretins and dissemblers. The difference is that on trade Mr. Obama has turned his contempt on Democrats.
At the Nike campus in Oregon over the weekend, Mr. Obama berated "my fellow-travellers on minimum wage and on job training and on clean energy. . . . And then on this one, they're like whooping on me." He added that these critics are "just wrong" and "they're making this stuff up."
Again, a bit of blue-on-blue usually calls for popcorn. And after watching President Reagan's Bergen-Belsen Speech on YouTube this weekend, hearing the world's greatest gorram orator saying "they're like whooping on me" is peculiar fun. But this is enabling the worst factions of both parties -- and damaging the economy.
Then again, maybe liberals got greedy as a result of Mr. Obama's own economics of resentment. He has spent six years demeaning the benefits of free markets--on taxes, entitlements, labor markets and much else--only to do a 180-reversal on trade. His liberal fellow-travellers have a point when they ask if this is the same Obama who denigrated free trade in 2008.
The problem now is that failing to pass trade-promotion authority would be far more than a defeat for Mr. Obama. It would do great harm to U.S. national interests and the world economy. The Pacific deal is the best opportunity in decades to liberalize trade. A country that cannot overcome narrow geographic or business or labor interests, and that shrinks from global competition, is choosing national decline.
Dude can't even make me happy when he loses. Guess I am a hater.
The White House is pushing back at the suggestion that President Barack Obama‘s pointed disagreements with Sen. Elizabeth Warren on trade were related to her gender -- publicly telling another prominent Democrat that he should apologize for the suggestion.
Sen. Sherrod Brown on Tuesday told reporters that Mr. Obama's criticism of Ms. Warren was "disrespectful" and suggested that her gender may be driving some of the animosity in the increasingly heated dispute between Capitol Hill progressives and the White House.
Interesting, ThreeSources-ish argument in today's Morning Jolt [subscribe]. Jim Geraghty asks "How Much Can a President Shape America's Culture?"
Stephen Miller contended that Barack Obama is indeed the most powerful figure in American culture right now, and that if you don't like where our culture is going, it is impossible to change direction without a dramatically different figure in the Oval Office.
I wouldn't dispute that presidencies influence culture . . . but are they decisive? In other words, is Obama the catalyst, or just a symptom?
I tipped my hat in the headline. As Dr. Ben Carson and ThreeSources-fave Gov. Mike Huckabee (Bass - AR) enter the 2016 GOP field, I think the party faces the George W Bush question: do we want government to butt out or to promote the things we like.
It's easy to give a reflexive libertarian answer -- especially after Gov. Huckabee's name is invoked -- but in the wake of the cultural devastation of two terms of President Obama, I can see the appeal.
Growth in the first quarter of 2015 was restrained by a historically harsh winter. This quarter was only the fourth in 60 years on record with three or more snowstorms sufficiently severe to be rated by the National Climatic Data Center's Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale (NESIS). In addition, as measured by heating degree days, this quarter was the third coldest in twenty years. Indeed, winter weather likely reduced both consumption and investment, contributing to this quarter's below-trend output growth. The historical relationship between weather and first-quarter growth suggests that weather may have reduced annualized growth by about a full percentage point this quarter (similar to estimates by Macroeconomic Advisers and Goldman Sachs). Also, first-quarter growth has been especially weak in recent years even after seasonal adjustment, averaging 0.3 percent per year over the past five years as compared with 2.9 percent for Q2 through Q4. This observation at least partially reflects generally worsening weather over the past decade, which may not yet be accounted for in seasonal-adjustment algorithms. While some output lost due to weather may not be regained, many forecasters expect that much of the lost demand from the first quarter will be diverted toward the second.
I now know what the eight years of the Barack Hussein Obama presidency will be remembered for, and our lefty friends aren't going to like it. Not because I'm about to bash Obama again - in fact, I will praise him (faintly.) Obama's legacy will not be national health care, wage equality, Mideast peace or even "stopping the rise of the oceans" although he will actually "do" this. (More later.) Instead, it will be the start of a new era of peace and prosperity across the globe.
The United States is poised to flood world markets with once-unthinkable quantities of liquefied natural gas as soon as this year, profoundly changing the geo-politics of global energy and posing a major threat to Russian gas dominance in Europe.
"We anticipate becoming big players, and I think we'll have a big impact," said the [sic] Ernest Moniz, the US Energy Secretary. "We're going to influence the whole global LNG market."
Mr. Moniz said four LNG export terminals are under construction and the first wave of shipments may begin before the end of this year or in early 2016 at the latest.
"We?" Yes, President Obama's energy secretary is attaching his boss to this effort. The faint praise I promised lies in the fact that he allowed the LNG export terminal permits to be issued. He is "responsible" for the coming 'copious carbon energy for a pittance' revolution to the extent that he didn't try to stand in its way. (Although it likely would have flattened him the way his EPA is attempting to flatten the coal industry.)
America's parallel drive for shale oil is equally breath-taking. Scott Sheffield, head of Pioneer Natural Resources, said his company has discovered huge reserves in the vast Permian Basin of West Texas.
"We think the Permian could produce 5-6m barrels a day (b/d) in the long-term," he said. It is a staggering claim. This would be more than Saudi Arabia's giant Ghawar field, the biggest in the world.
Ryan Lance, head of ConocoPhillips, said North American oil output could reach 15m b/d by 2020 and 25m b/d over the next quarter century, three times Saudi Arabia's current exports.
A vault forward on this scale would establish the US as the leading energy superpower in both oil and gas, a revival that almost nobody could have imagined seven years ago when the United States was in near panic over its exorbitant dependency of imported fuel. It would restore the US to its mid-20th Century position as a surplus trading nation, and perhaps ultimately as world's biggest external creditor once again.
So this revival, this oil and gas "renaissance" started "seven years ago." Circa June 4, 2008, i.e. "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal." And as soon as the Global Warming Policy Center's "Blue Ribbon Panel" determines that global warming is a mirage of misguided scientific error corrections, President Obama can take credit for that too. But the accomplishment that will be remembered - the real change that makes real changes in the lives of real people - is cheap and abundant energy worldwide. And like the birth of liberty and prosperity that came in the 20th century, this one will also be a uniquely American creation.
Fracking is still an almost exclusive preserve of North America, and is likely to remain so into the early 2020s. China has large ambitions but the volumes are still tiny, and there is a shortage of water in key areas. Fracking remains mere talk in most other regions of the world.
Lukoil analysts say Russian extraction costs for shale are four times higher that those of US wildcat drillers. Sanctions currently prevent the Russians importing the know-how and technology to tap its vast Bazhenov basin at a viable cost.
John Hess, the founder of Hess Corporation, said it takes a unique confluence of circumstances to pull off a fracking revolution: landowner rights over sub-soil minerals, a pipeline infrastructure, the right taxes and regulations, and good rock. "We haven't seen those stars align yet," he said.
Above all it requires the acquiescence of the people. "It takes a thousand trucks going in and out to launch a (drilling) spud. Not every neighbourhood wants that," he said.
This is as unlikely a legacy as anyone could have imagined for a president who, as candidate, bragged that electricity costs would "necessarily skyrocket" as a result of his policy goals designed to promote alternatives to oil and gas. But given the bareness of the cupboard in his presidential library storeroom, I suspect he will gladly take it - deserved or not.
Apologies all around, but I cannot see meaningful progress in foreign policy while President Obama is in office. It is not that he is some Kenyan, anti-Colonialist, Socialist plant. He is a bit of an Arabist in the mold of President Carter, a pacifist/appeaser in the mold of the Harvard Faculty Lounge, and he refuses to let foreign expenditures affect his domestic agenda: we'll have no less butter because of guns.
Blog patron-saint Natan Sharansky has a column in the WaPo today which cleaves to the real issue. "When did America forget that it's America?" Sharansky compares the moral certitude of our objection to Soviet totalitarianism to moral ambivalence against Iran:
I am afraid that the real reason for the U.S. stance is not its assessment, however incorrect, of the two sides' respective interests but rather a tragic loss of moral self-confidence. While negotiating with the Soviet Union, U.S. administrations of all stripes felt certain of the moral superiority of their political system over the Soviet one. They felt they were speaking in the name of their people and the free world as a whole, while the leaders of the Soviet regime could speak for no one but themselves and the declining number of true believers still loyal to their ideology.
But in today's postmodern world, when asserting the superiority of liberal democracy over other regimes seems like the quaint relic of a colonialist past, even the United States appears to have lost the courage of its convictions.
You cannot fix this with Corker-Menendez, or a letter to the Ayatollah.
Harvard Prof: My Former Student, President Obama, is "Misguided" on Climate Regulation
Mr. Tribe dismissed the criticism and said that his brief and comments reflect his views as a constitutional scholar, not as a paid advocate for the coal company. "I'm not for sale," he said. "I'll say what I believe."
Nevertheless, the highly respected left-leaning Harvard Law Professor Lawrence H. Tribe, has made himself a pariah. Or, looking at it from a different perspective, he's decided to stop being a rube.
"I feel very comfortable with my relationship with Peabody," he added. "Somebody wanted my help and it happened to coincide with what I believe."
But a number of legal scholars and current and former members of the Obama administration say that Mr. Tribe has eroded his credibility by using his platform as a scholar to promote a corporate agenda -- specifically, the mining and burning of coal.
So one must choose - he can be a scholar or he can defend commerce qua commerce - but not both.
Next week Mr. Tribe is to deliver oral arguments for Peabody in the first federal court case about Mr. Obama's climate change rules. Mr. Tribe argues in a brief for the case that in requiring states to cut carbon emissions, thus to change their energy supply from fossil fuels to renewable sources, the E.P.A. is asserting executive power far beyond its lawful authority under the Clean Air Act. At a House hearing last month, Mr. Tribe likened the climate change policies of Mr. Obama to "burning the Constitution."
Clearly this is stinging the Rube Movement, and more than just a little.
"Whether he intended it or not, Tribe has been weaponized by the Republican Party in an orchestrated takedown of the president's climate plan," said one former administration official.
Weaponized? If so, it is indisputably as a countermeasure to the president's climate plan for mass economic destruction.
It is widely expected that the fight over the E.P.A. regulations will eventually go before the Supreme Court. If it does, Mr. Tribe said that he expects he "may well" play a role in that case -- which would be argued before two other former students, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Elena Kagan.
Is it possible then that Tribe was retained by Peabody in a strategy to intimidate the high court in favor of "a corporate agenda -- specifically, the mining and burning of coal?" Sure, that's possible. And it's also possible that one branch of government strangling an entire economic sector against the will and without the complicity of other branches really is like "burning the Constitution."
UPDATE: Furthermore, strangling an entire economic sector, or a specific corporation, or even an individual, is the very thing that a "Republican form of government" guaranteed by the Constitution [Article IV, Section 4] was intended to prevent - by a single branch or even, indeed, by all three in concert! It was to be, a minimal state.
The minimal state treats us as inviolate individuals, who may not be used in certain ways by others as means or tools or instruments or resources; it treats us as persons having individual rights with the dignity this constitutes. Treating us with respect by respecting our rights, it allows us, individually or with whom we choose, to choose our life and to realize our ends and our conception of ourselves, insofar as we can, aided by the voluntary cooperation of other individuals possessing the same dignity. How dare any state or group of individuals do more. Or less.
Real question from Jonathan Karl, ABC News's White House correspondent :
Karl: Josh, just a quick one first on Yemen. I know you're asked this every time something terrible happens in Yemen. But now that we have essentially complete chaos in Yemen, does the White House still believe that Yemen is the model for a counterterrorism strategy?
jk's imagined answer:
Earnest: Hell Jon, the White House continues to believe that ObamaCare® is a success!
James Taranto offers the real answer -- and it's worse.
The rise of partisanship is a hot topic these days and now we learn, even the Nobel Committee is not immune
Mr Jagland had attracted criticism after overseeing a number of controversial of awards, including ones made to Barack Obama in 2009 - less than a year after the U.S. president took office - to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo in 2010 and to the European Union in 2012.
No serving chair has ever been ousted since the awards were first made in 1901, even with shifting political majorities.
The committee is appointed in line with the strength of the parties in Norway's parliament.
Perhaps Norwegian voters felt the Nobel awards had become too partisan for their taste.
No links to back up my assertions this time, although I looked. The video excerpt of National Security Advisor Susan Rice's speech to AIPAC most often posted is the one where she "proves" that her boss' bad deal with Iran is a good deal because she repeats the mantra "no deal is better than a bad deal."
In the same speech she said, and I have to paraphrase because I'm going from memory of seeing her say it on FNC yesterday morning - "We must judge Iran by its actions and not its words." By "words" we can consider those of Iran's president when he said, "And God willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world without the United States and Zionism." Setting aside for now the Islamic Republic of Iran's military exercise to sink a 1/100th scale model of a US aircraft carrier at the peak of "negotiations," this advice is quite sound. Many recent examples of deeds not matching words support Ms. Rice's statement. One such example is quite well known - "If you like your plan, you can keep your plan. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor."
The American people deserve--and have requested--an open and transparent FCC process. Recent polls show that 73 percent of Americans want greater disclosure of the details of the FCC's proposal to regulate the Internet, and nearly eight in ten favor public disclosure of the exact wording and details of the proposal before the FCC votes on it. Indeed, Commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O'Rielly just today called for exactly this--the public release of the 332-page order and a temporary delay of the vote. Nonetheless, citing past Commission practice, you refused to publicly release the text of the 332-page draft order. In a past rulemaking of similar magnitude, however, the Chairman did publicly release the rule prior to a vote. This was done in response to congressional requests, including calls from then-Senator Barack Obama . -- House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz (HOSS - UT)
Well, you could read this article from The Hill, or you can just let me explain it to you:
President Obama, under intense public pressure to respond to Islamist State atrocities that have been splashed across American televisions off and on for many months, announced a campaign to "degrade and defeat ISIL" using air strikes and foreign troops trained by American soldiers. He claimed that a congressional resolution from 2001 (you know, after 9/11 when even Democrats were willing to deploy our military) gave him the legal authorization for this new campaign.
Since that half-hearted plan isn't succeeding, congressional Republicans have been critical of the President. To shut them up he has asked them to vote for a new authorization, that he's said he doesn't need, to keep doing the same thing he's already doing. If they approve it, they own his strategy. If they defeat it, they are to blame when the thing he's already doing doesn't work because, he will say, "I asked for authorization to confront ISIL directly and Republicans in congress said 'no.'"
So essentially, it's a complete waste of time for everyone except Obama, who needs a political cover strategy. And it scares the crap out of congressional Democrats who, like Nancy Pelosi, "would hope that we could find common ground to have bipartisan support for how we protect and defend the American people" while at the same time contending that "a provision to bar 'enduring offensive ground combat operations' is too vague and could allow for U.S. troops to be sent into the field." Sure wouldn't want to risk war in the service of "defend[ing] the American people" would we? Nosirree.
Holy War by Any Other Name Would Smell as Wretched
President Obama's official spokesman as much as said, "the Taliban are not a terrorist organization." His administration refuses to acknowledge that Islamic terrorism (or "extremism") is related in any way to the Islamic religion. But as Investors' Ed page reminds, the Muslim holy war goes way back, to at least 1991:
This is the same Muslim Brotherhood whose strategic goal, according to a 1991 memorandum by one of its operatives, is "eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all other religions."
Some serious parsing of the words "eliminating, destroying and victorious" is required to evade the existential threat to human liberty which this portends. This, Muslim religious war with civilization.
Click through on the IBD link to read about how Muslim Brotherhood Egyptians hostile to the pro-western Egyptian army leadership were welcomed to the Obama State Department, while Bibi is shunned. Stunning.
There are no Red States and Blue States -- The are only the United States! And they all hate President Obama's plan to tax 529 education accounts.
The decision came just hours after House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio demanded the proposal be withdrawn from the president's budget, due out Monday, "for the sake of middle-class families." But the call for the White House to relent also came from top Democrats, including Representatives Nancy Pelosi of California, the minority leader, and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the ranking member of the Budget Committee.
UPDATE: Reason sees the death of the Welfare State:
The political optics of the plan were flat-out terrible for Obama, who put forth the proposal in the context of a State of the Union address built around the theme of Middle Class Economics. The gist was that Obama proposed taxing the wealthy in order to pay for new middle class benefits, like free community college tuition.
But, somewhat awkwardly, given the president's chosen theme, 529 plans are tax-advantaged savings vehicles that currently benefit an awful lot of middle class people. In particular, they benefit middle and upper-middle class families in high-tax blue states.
I caught most of the SOTU performance tonight, in a re-run after a late hockey game. (We won in a shootout after a 4-4 tie.) I'm now moved to comment on some of the most important aspects. ... Did Boehner really wear a PURPLE tie? Come on, man!
This is a red letter day. I don't remember the last time I linked to an old BerkeleySquareJazz blog post. And I didn't remember it being that long ago, but I did recall this post (and its awesome photo of a young woman holding the paramount sign from the protestwarrior.com collection) when our president refused to link arms with the rest of the political leaders of the free world last weekend.
Time will tell whether it is the France of Joan of Arc or of Petain of Vichy that becomes dominant in the global war on terror. But right now, the French get credit for clear thinking. Just as the Resistance made little distinction between Vichy and the Nazis, Le Drian correctly sees no difference between the gunmen killing editorial cartoonists in Paris, claiming affiliation with al-Qaida in Yemen, and the British Jihadi John beheading innocent captive journalists within IS territory.
They, and the Taliban and the Islamofascist regime in Iran, are all components of the same enemy of Western civilization.
At the White House, unfortunately, an attack on a magazine or a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi elicits withholding use of the "T word" for as long as possible.
Our objective in fighting IS isn't victory as soon as possible; it is to "degrade" it and only destroy it "ultimately" -- because the president, our commander in chief, is dead set in his refusal to "involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil."
Our missions against terrorists can't be part of the "global war on terror"; they must be "overseas contingency operations," a defanged term the Obama administration began insisting on soon after coming to power.
It is all a devious attempt to disguise that Western civilization faces another world war.
The French, for now at least, have rekindled their recollections of the Nazi occupation: those who pretend it isn't really war are cursed to lose it.
So to France I say, "Thank you, for protecting civilization." At least, for now.
(And I can't resist reposting the pic. Imagine this saying "Hey Obama" and being carried by a Parisienne.)
The Administration's "Free Kummunity Kollege" stunt is a pretty good indication of what a President can do with a phone, a pen, an ideological bent, an opposition Congress and no negotiating or legislative skills. I joked on Facebook that I hope he soon offers "free ice cream" because I really like ice cream. I hope that that remains a joke until January 20, 2017.
I suspect we'll see a new proposal for "free stuff" every few months to force those mean old Republicans to say no.
The new entitlement is best understood as an extension of the Administration's ideological project to add higher education to the list of entitlements that keep the federal government in charge of American life from cradle to grave. First Mr. Obama nationalized the student-loan market, adding $1 trillion in taxpayer liabilities. Then he made forgiving those loans easier. This year he plans to propose a new rating system for colleges that the feds will eventually use to determine which schools receive federal aid.
Meantime, the Administration has spent years harassing for-profit colleges by trying to impose a "gainful employment" rule that ties federal aid to student debt and incomes. The rule could shut down nearly 1,400 for-profit programs educating 840,000 students if it survives another legal challenge, but the Administration won't apply the rule to community colleges or nonprofit schools.
The "Billion Dollar Congress" (and yes, that was an epithet in those days) sent more than a hundred bills to President Cleveland, typically to give some deserving Civil War widow $25. They, too, hoped to embarrass the opposition party by exposing stinginess.
Much has changed. It's the Democrats who are now prodigal. And the people who would directly benefit cheering on new entitlements. Will it work? Tune in tomorrow, I have no idea.
Any financial professional who advised a young investor to avoid stocks and corporate bonds--and everything else except Treasury bonds--would be sued for malpractice. But asset allocation is merely one of the problems with the new "Myra" fund rolling out from the Treasury this month.
The POTUS with the phone and pen has limned out a new gub'mint offered investment vehicle -- and called Comerica and Fidelity to manage them. Congress? Do they get a call? Does he even send a card? The WSJ Ed Page says "no."
Congressional staff were as puzzled as anyone and wondered how the White House would justify the creation of this new savings vehicle. Or perhaps Team Obama would seek new authority from Congress? Well, Treasury is now offering these accounts and has hired Texas-based Comerica to manage them with a partner, Fidelity National Information Services . But the executive branch received no new authority from Congress this year to launch the program.
One doesn't know how much to complain about the non-Constitutionality and how much about the bad investment advice. "[T]he new myRA offers a single investment option. It's a private version of the G Fund that is available to federal workers and has lately been delivering annual returns of about 2% on its portfolio of Treasury securities."
The managers are precluded from paying fees or facing a minimum investment, so Uncle Sugar will have to buy off some campaign contributors fund the administrative costs out of general revenue.
The more I see of him working, the more I like paying for his extravagant vacations.
I'm gonna go ahead and put a dollar in the jar. If President Bush had done this...
For birdie or for worse.
President Obama's golf game Sunday forced Army Captains Natalie Heimel and her fiancé, Edward Mallue Jr. to relocate their wedding ceremony.
The lovebirds were set to wed Sunday at the Kaneohe Klipper Golf Course, located on the Marine Corps Base Hawaii, until they learned Obama had his eye on the same course and they would need to find a new spot for their nuptials.
"In less than 24 hours they had to change everything they had planned," the groom's sister told Bloomberg News.
Instead, they held the ceremony on green lawn on the base that offered views of the Pacific coastline.
Kids, don't try this at home, this is a 12-year blogger.
Social media is rightly abuzz with the first lady's brave tale of pico-aggression. She was in Target (like Jane Goodall seeking understanding of lower primates) and was asked by another shopper to help get some detergent from a high shelf.
"The Humanity" was, of course, my comment but that works anywhere. Many thought it did not happen at all. Some pointed out that the same tale was shared on David Letterman as hilarious relief of non-recognition. Tom Maguire chimes in:
A different explanation is that somebody mistook Michelle for someone who was tall, athletic, and happy to help. And hey, two out of three ain't bad. I throw out that theory, bizarre as it may seem to some, because from time to time women ask me to help them get something down from a tall shelf in a store. Hmm, maybe I look Irish and they think there is a railroad track I ought to be putting down somewhere?
But I have come up with the worst thing about this and the one which puts FLOTUS in the worst possible light. The real comparison is with President George HW Bush (#41 for those playing the home version). He went to a grocery store -- likely on just as political a stunt mission -- and famously remarked in the late 20th Century how amazing the scanner technology was. This was translated by the leftist media as wonder. He's so out of touch -- he's never even seen a scanner! Patrician slob has never been in a store before.
Well, I am going to be so bold as to suggest that the first lady does not shop at Target a lot. If she had, the experience would be more familiar and less demeaning.
The same of course happens to me all the time. "Enschuldigung, mien Herr! Gross Weiss Mann!" Would you grab the detergent off that "hoch" shelf, Bitte?
Perhaps Emperor Obama has an effective plan. It's not a Constitutional plan, and it's not really even an American plan -- but it could be a strong plan for tyranny, based on new imported demography.
As we have seen, the Founders worried greatly about Caesarism, and they did their best to safeguard against it. But back in the 18th century, they couldn't be expected to foresee every possible subversion of their new Republic. Today, in the 21st century, it's our job to assess the new threat to our Constitution, and to make a new strategy to preserve and defend it.
Capt. Quick was last seen leaving his mother's home on the way to his girlfriend and their newborn. He was not last seen assaulting a storeowner and taking products. Yet, we know nothing of 45-year-old Capt. Kevin Quick. Apparently, Quick's crime was being a white man in America and not considered a victim -- just someone who got what he deserved at the hands of society's victims, young black men, gang members who have been badly treated and denied social justice.
Is the President of the United States a secret Muslim? A Kenyan Anti-colonialist dedicated to destroying the US from the inside? I've heard these and worse from people I respect. But as an Occam's Razor guy, I usually respond "no, he's a product of the faculty lounge."
Ruth Wisse, retired professor at Haavaad, pens an endorsement for Tom Cotton to be the next US Senator from Arkansas
Which brings us to Tom Cotton, the sixth-generation Arkansan who forged a path of his own in getting to Harvard and has maintained his independence ever since. As an undergraduate he majored in government, wrote his senior thesis on the Federalist Papers and voiced his conservative opinions in a column in the Harvard Crimson. After graduating from law school he took up a legal career that might have seamlessly led to political office. Instead he joined the Army as an infantry officer. His almost five years of active duty included two combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan; he later returned to Afghanistan as operations officer for a reconstruction team. As against those who equate military service with bellicosity, a U.S. soldier who has been on daily combat patrols in dangerous places is likelier than others to craft foreign policy with intelligent discretion.
Wisse contrasts Cotton with more typical alumnae and current faculty. Including, um...
My experience at Harvard makes it hard for me to join in blaming Barack Obama personally for the country's woes. After all, he is only a dutiful product of Harvard Law School and of Columbia University before that. When President Harry Truman famously said, "The buck stops here," he meant that persons who seek and attain highest office are responsible for whatever happens on their watch. But how can we in good conscience apply this standard to Mr. Obama, who was elected president as a junior senator with no experience in governing, who was handpicked and tailored by the academic and cultural elite?
No boots on the ground? No military strategy? Trust your enemies and diss your allies? Spokespersons for the president could have been lip-synced by denizens of his alma mater. That Mr. Obama has no use for the other side of the aisle is the logical extension of a university that has purged all but a handful of conservatives from its faculty--and has done so in the name of achieving greater diversity.
With billion-dollar budgets, why doesn't the NIH or CDC have an established program for dealing with national health emergencies? Umm, it does.
The Progressive belief that a powerful government can stop all calamity is misguided. In the last 10 years we passed multiple pieces of legislation to create funding streams, offices, and management authorities precisely for this moment. That we have nothing to show for it is not good reason to put even more faith in government without learning anything from our repeated mistakes. Responding to the missing Ebola Czar and her office’s corruption by throwing still more money, more management changes, and more bureaucratic complexity in her general direction is madness.
Betcha didn't know the US Government already has an Ebola Czar. Yessir, ol' what's her name.
The uncontained Ebola presence in the US mainland has done something that no other crisis in the past 6 years has accomplished - it has gotten the attention of the POTUS.
President Obama won't be traveling to New Jersey and Connecticut later today, as he had been planning to do. There he was going to raise money for Democrats up for reelection in November. Instead, Obama is going to be hosting Cabinet members for a meeting on Ebola.
Can you believe it? He actually cancelled a political fundraiser! Geez, this must be really, really important. No word yet whether his scheduled round of golf is also affected.
Obama is becoming Nixonian." says Peter Wehner. Becoming? Had they not different pigmentation, I don't know how I'd tell them apart.
The man who by a wide margin has received the most worshipful press coverage in at least the last half-century is complaining that the press is mistreating him. A president who routinely misleads the public on matters large and small, who first ran for president on the promise of unifying America but governs based on dividing it, and who allows the most important national-security matters to be decided by crass political considerations is blaming others for feeding cynicism.
Watching a narcissist struggle to deal with massive, multiplying failures can be a poignant thing, especially when everyone gets what's going on except the narcissist and his enablers. When this happens to a sitting president, however, what is poignant becomes alarming. Because it's always better that the president of the United States live in reality rather than creating his own.
President Obama famously said that he believes "in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism."
So one may wonder why he didn't balk when Teleprompter instructed him to say this:
It's part of what attracts people from every corner of the globe to this country, understanding that for all our flaws there's something essential that we stand for that nobody else does, and we're willing to put our money and time and effort and resources and occasionally our lives on behalf of that.
Something essential... that we stand for... that nobody else does. This, friends, is the definition of an "exception" and makes "this country" exceptional.
And even more directly, when he said that "America continues to be the one indispensable nation..." one might be forgiven for thinking that, perhaps, President Obama is proud to be an American. He continued:
...and that what we stand for - liberty and democracy and conservation and fairness and justice - those are the things that people around the world aspire to and seek, and they expect the United States to be on their side.
I agree, Mr. President. Me too. Although I suspect we may differ on the meaning and intent of "democracy and conservation and fairness" and yes, probably even "justice." You did notice that only one of the values you expressed is a part of the name for "that lady with the torch in the middle of the water" didn't you?
In the Washington Examiner, Byron York chronicles the desperate effort to "save Democrats from Barack Obama" this election cycle.
So now Bill Clinton is leading what is, in effect, an effort to rescue the Democratic Party from Barack Obama. In Conway, Clinton pronounced himself "sick and tired of people trying to stir people up, make them foam at the mouth and vote for what they're against instead of what they're for. How many times have we seen people do something they knew better than to do just because they were in a snit?"
But Mister President, isn't that just another example of "community organizing?"
This is necessary because "A president's job approval rating is a pretty reliable predictor of midterm voting, and Obama's ratings are down in several states in which Democrats are in danger of losing Senate seats. In addition to Obama's 31 percent approval in Arkansas, the president is at 39 percent in Louisiana, 40 percent in Iowa, and 42 percent in North Carolina, according to PPP."
And, on (RCP) average, 41 percent in Colorado. More devastating, perhaps, is the spread between approval and disapproval in these states. Arkansas, -27%; Louisiana, -20%, Iowa, -12%; North Carolina, -12%; and Colorado, -13%. These compare to -23% in red-meat Montana and -30% in "my favorite" coal-miner's daughter's state of Kentucky. Even in Oregon, where the president's popularity is among the highest at 46.5 percent, the spread is negative at -2.3 percent. (And -14 percent in one poll.)
No wonder Republicans are so gleeful, and Democrats "winced" when the president recently said, "Make no mistake," during an economic speech in Evanston, Illinois. "These policies are on the ballot -- every single one of them."
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.