Here are the week’s best pieces from WOW!
It is easy to dismiss the NBA booting noted jerk Donald Sterling as good riddance to bad rubbish isn’t it? I mean no one, and I mean no one is defending this old fool and his foolish, deplorable words, or his taste in skanks, I mean mistresses. So, a bigot shoots off his mouth, and his fellow owners choose to throw him under the bus, fine right? Well, maybe not. What happens when an NBA owner, or an owner in the NHL, NFL, or MLB, or coach, or GM are “outed” for some other thought crime. Let’s say the individual is found to support traditional marriage, or tighter border security, or to oppose abortion, or affirmative action? How far are we from the day when those are found to be views that are just not welcome in our hyper sensitive society? Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid has already asked the NFL to go after Redskins owner Daniel Snyder because he refuses to change the teams name. The Congressional Black Caucus wants sports leagues to crack down on any owner that is “racially insensitive”. Ask the former Mozilla CEO about his situation. So, get ready folks, get ready to have a new thought police that will decide who gets to own, or run what in America. I will allow Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks to give us a final thought
A day earlier, however, Cuban — while criticizing Sterling’s comments as “obviously bigoted, obviously racist” — called it “damn scary” that a precedent could be set.
“Regardless of your background, regardless of the history they have, if we’re taking something somebody said in their home and we’re trying to turn it into something that leads to you being forced to divest property in any way, shape or form, that’s not the United States of America,” Cuban said. “I don’t want to be part of that.”
There are those that will say that as long as the government is not coming after people for words they say, then our right to free speech is untouched. But, at a certain point we are soon going to be living in a nation where we have the freedom to speak, but might be to afraid to use it. A nation with defacto speech codes barring certain thoughts from being expressed, then, maybe a nation with speech codes dictating that we MUST express certain views or else. In short, a nation where anyone stepping out of line will be subjected to bullying, intimidation, and thuggery. A nation where expressing yourself on Twitter, Facebook, or your personal blog, or even in a private conversation might cost you your livelihood.
All I can say is “Wow!” Just when we’re all thinking this Obama administration is corrosively corrupt and consummately incompetent, they go and do something that just has to make us all pause and rethink our strongly held beliefs that the federal government is too massive and immovable to be either responsive to the needs of the citizenry or efficient. Here we are out here in flyover country, remote from all those coastal centers of incestuous intellectualism, pounding on our keyboards about all the predicted and daily unveiling failings of ObamaCare, and damn all if this Obama administration doesn’t go and show all us religious, gun-clingin’ fools that, by gosh, they can move with amazing alacrity when it
is important to America suits their agenda.
What I’m referring to, if you haven’t heard, is the absolutely amazing rapid response to a request by several Democrat senators, to do something, for Pete’s sake, about this horrendous, looming mandate (federal noncompliance fine) that’s going to really piss off some voters back in their home states if it isn’t delayed. What’s ever so surprising is that some of these solicitous senatorial signatories, Begich, Pryor, Landrieu, and Hagan, all of whom voted for this lame legislation, are up for re-election in November. My own senator, Mark Pryor, has suddenly rediscovered the importance of the bible in this campaign year and another senator to my south, little Mary Half-Moon Landrieu, who’s support for ObamaCare came at a hefty price, has discovered that maybe she shouldn’t have sold out, too cheaply or otherwise. Little Contrary Mary peddled her political posterior and now wants it back when her past is coming back to bite her.
But enough about senatorial weasels, let’s look at those improbably industrious administration ants who, unable to build their humongous health-care system and its online enrollment website in three-plus years, have managed to respond to the demands of those senators in less than a day. All I can say, once again, is “Wow!” That’s right, in just one day, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, under tremendous pressures to correct all the many problems with her legislative Frankenstein, amazingly found the time to sit down and compose this extensive missive to the concerned senators. This executive edict grants them their every wish, by exempting failed applicants to Obamacare who have lost their insurance due to the poorly thought through provisions of the original, recklessly passed legislation,so that they now will be considered as hardship cases and therefore exempt from the fines mandated for those who fail to obtain coverage.
But just put it out of your damned old suspicious, conservative minds that such an executive fiat is clearly illegal and unconstitutional and that those issues were probably not considered by these incompetent clowns in their haste to serve their needy allies:
Democrat senators… up for re-election.
I know, I know, you’re thinking it’s just another cynical set-up by an arrogant administration led by the most self-centered and inept president in our nation’s history.All you skeptics reading here who see this event as just another pre-planned, butt-covering move by this Keystone Kops administration, should lighten up just a bit and give some credit where credit’s due; such as for these corruptocrats who are clearly and cleverly competent at covering up their incomparable incompetence. Hey, when this hapless turkey can respond to a senatorial request and effect the requested policy change in less than a day, you have to put aside your suspicions of a political fix and give credit where credit is due.
Who do these bungling fools think they’re fooling?
We are currently learning whether the United States really needs a president. Barack Obama has become a mere figurehead, who gives speeches few listen to any more, issues threats that scare fewer, and makes promises that almost no one believes he will keep. Yet America continues on, despite the fact that the foreign and domestic policies of Barack Obama are unraveling, in a manner unusual even for star-crossed presidential second terms.
Abroad, American policy in the Middle East is leaderless and in shambles after the Arab Spring – we’ve had the Syrian fiasco and bloodbath, leading from behind in Libya all the way to Benghazi, and the non-coup, non-junta in Egypt. This administration has managed to unite existential Shiite and Sunni enemies in a shared dislike of the United States. While Iran follows the Putin script from Syria, Israel seems ready to preempt its nuclear program, and Obama still mumbles empty “game changers” and “red line” threats of years past.
We have gone from reset with Russia to Putin as the playmaker of the Middle East. The Persian Gulf sheikhdoms are now mostly anti-American. The leaders of Germany and the people of France resent having their private communications tapped by Barack Obama – the constitutional lawyer and champion of universal human rights. Angela Merkel long ago grasped that President Obama would rather fly across the Atlantic to lobby for a Chicago Olympic Games – or tap her phone – than sit through a 20th-anniversary commemoration of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan are beginning to see that the U.S. is more a neutral than a friend, as Obama negotiates with Putin about reducing the nuclear umbrella that protects America’s key non-nuclear allies. Perhaps they will soon make the necessary adjustments. China, Brazil, and India care little that Barack Obama still insists he is not George W. Bush, or that he seems to be trying to do to America what they seek to undo in their own countries.
The world’s leaders do not any longer seem much impressed by the president’s cat-like walk down the steps of Air Force One, or the soaring cadences that rechannel hope-and=change themes onto the world scene. They acknowledge that their own publics may like the American president, and especially his equivocation about the traditional role of American power in the world. But otherwise, for the next three years, the world is in a holding pattern, wondering whether there is a president of the United States to reckon with or a mere teleprompted functionary. Certainly, the Obama Nobel Peace Prize is now the stuff of comedy.
At home, the signature Affordable Care Act is proving its sternest critics prescient. The mess can best be summed up by Republicans’ being demonized for trying to delay or defund Obamacare – after the president himself chose not to implement elements of his own law – followed immediately by congressional Democrats’ seeking to parrot the Republicans. So are the Democrats followers of Ted Cruz or Barack Obama? Is Obama himself following Ted Cruz?
The problem is not just that all the president’s serial assurances about Obamacare proved untrue – premiums and deductibles will go up, many will lose their coverage and their doctors, new taxes will be needed, care will be curtailed, signups are nearly impossible, and businesses will be less, not more, competitive – but that no one should ever have believed they could possibly be true unless in our daily lives we usually get more and better stuff at lower cost.
More gun control is dead. Comprehensive immigration legislation depends on Republicans’ trusting a president who for two weeks smeared his House opponents as hostage-takers and house-breakers. Moreover, just as no one really read the complete text of the Obamacare legislation, so too no one quite knows what is in the immigration bill. There are few assurances that the border will be first secured under an administration with a record of nullifying “settled law” – or that those who have been convicted of crimes or have been long-time recipients of state or federal assistance will not be eligible for eventual citizenship. If the employer mandate was jettisoned, why would not border security be dropped once a comprehensive immigration bill passed? Or for that matter, if it is not passed, will the president just issue a blanket amnesty anyway?
In the age of Obama, we just ran up a $700 billion annual deficit and called it restraint, as if success were to be defined as not adding another $1 trillion each year to the national debt. The strange thing is that after the end of the Iraq War and the winding down in Afghanistan, forced sequestration, new taxes on high earners, and a supposedly recovering and revenue-producing economy, we are still running up near-record deficits. Stranger still, Obama is bragging that the deficit has been cut by billions – as if the 400-pound heart patient can be content that he lost 50 pounds in record time and so trimmed down to a manageable 350 pounds.
The Federal Reserve is pretty well stuck with near-zero interest rates. Even a slight rise would make servicing the huge debt nearly unmanageable. Yet continued record low interest, along with Obamacare, is strangling the economy. Millions of older Americans are learning that a mid-level government employee draws more in pension compensation than a private retiree receives in interest on 40 years’ worth of life savings.
“Millions of green jobs,” “cash for clunkers,” and “stimulus” are all now recognized as cruel jokes. Oddly, the more scandals come to light, the more immune the virtual president becomes. After the politicization of the IRS, the snooping on AP reporters, the Benghazi mess, the NSA eavesdropping, Fast and Furious, the multibillion-dollar overpayment in income-tax credits by the IRS, the Lisa Jackson fake e-mail identities, and the Pigford payments, the public has become numb – as if it to say, “Of course the Obama administration is not truthful. So what else is new?”
Three considerations are keeping the U.S. afloat without an active president. First, many working Americans have tuned the president out and simply go on about their business despite rather than because of this administration. If gas and oil leases have been curtailed on federal lands, there is record production on private land. Farmers are producing huge harvests and receiving historically high prices. Wall Street welcomes in capital that can find no return elsewhere. American universities’ science departments and professional schools still rate among the world’s best. There is as yet no French or Chinese Silicon Valley. In other words, after five years of stagnation, half the public more or less ignores the Obama administration and plods on.
Second, the other half of Americans gladly accept that Obama is an iconic rather than a serious president. Given his emblematic status as the nation’s first African-American president and his efforts to craft a vast coalition of those with supposed grievances against the majority, he will always have a strong base of supporters. With huge increases in federal redistributive support programs, and about half the population not paying federal income taxes, Obama is seen as the protector of the noble deserving, who should receive more from a government to which the ignoble undeserving must give far more. And if it is a question of adding another million or so people to the food-stamp or disability rolls, or ensuring that Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon or that China does not bully Japan, the former wins every time.
Finally, the media accept that Obama represents a rare confluence of forces that promotes a progressive agenda. His youth, his charisma, his background, his exotic nomenclature, and his “cool” all have allowed a traditionally unpopular leftist ideology to enter the mainstream. Why endanger all that with a focus on Benghazi or the disaster of Obamacare? We have had, in the course of our history, plenty of Grants, McKinleys, Hardings, Nixons, and Clintons, but never quite an administration of scandal so exempt from media scrutiny.
As far as his image goes, it does not really matter to what degree Obama actually “fundamentally transforms America.” For the media, that he seeks to do so, and that he drives conservatives crazy trying, is seen as enough reason to surrender their autonomy and become ancillary to the effort. The media believe that once he is out of office, they can regain their credibility by going after the next president with renewed vigor as recompense.
In other words, the presidency has become a virtual office. Almost half the people and most of the media do not mind, and those who do just plod onward.
As Obamacare declines toward a possible fall, the assembled denizens of the professional Left are scrambling in earnest to register their excuses with the public. Thus far at least, the award for the most creative contribution goes to former labor secretary Robert Reich, whose Saturday paean to single-payer health care managed to combine all of the most dishonest talking points that have bubbled up since October 1 while constructing in tandem a counterfactual so dazzling that only the truest of apostles could be persuaded by it.
Reich’s column has the Upworthy-worthy title, “The Democrats’ Version of Health Insurance Would Have Been Cheaper, Simpler, and More Popular (So Why Did We Enact the Republican Version and Why Are They So Upset?).” In it, Reich claims that if “Democrats [had] stuck to the original Democratic vision and built comprehensive health insurance on Social Security and Medicare, it would have been cheaper, simpler, and more widely accepted by the public.” And, he adds for good measure, “Republicans would be hollering anyway.”
The underlying conceit here, that the Democratic party had the option of “sticking to the original vision” of single-payer but that it instead settled on Obamacare as part of some sort of grand compromise, is fairly popular among the law’s apologists these days. Republicans, this story goes, are opportunistic hypocrites who dropped their longtime support for a system that looked just like Obamacare the very moment that a black man was elected to the White House. Democrats, meanwhile, are presented as being too nice and too solicitous of their opponents, and criticized for having elected to placate the Republican party by forgoing pursuit of what they truly wanted: Medicare for all.
Reassuring as this tale might be to those who are worriedly surveying the damage that Healthcare.gov has wrought upon their project, it remains self-evidently absurd. Obamacare was passed into law without a single Republican vote; its passage led to the biggest midterm blowout since 1948; and repealing the measure has been, to borrow Harry Reid’s favorite word, the “obsession” of Republicans for nearly five years. It is a law based upon an idea that Republican leadership failed to consider, debate, or advance during any of the periods in which they have held political power – and one that they actively opposed when it was suggested in a similar form by President Clinton during the 1990s. If Republicans were desperate to get something done along the lines that Obama proposed in 2009, they have had a funny way of showing it over the past 159 years.
Champions of the Republican Idea Theory tend to respond to the presentation of these facts by charging that that the concept of an individual mandate was the product of a 1989 paper issued by the conservative Heritage Foundation (something its author vigorously denies), and that Republicans were so taken by the idea of forcing everybody to buy a private product that… well, actually herein lies the problem. Truth be told, Republicans were so taken with Heritage’s design that a grand number of two of them ever went so far as to introduce a federal bill based on it and Mitt Romney used it as the basis of reform in deep-blue Massachusetts. Oh, and Newt Gingrich once said something nice about it – in 1995. This, suffice it to say, is hardly a ringing endorsement.
Whatever historical weight the Left chooses to attribute to the Heritage proposal, it cannot change the salient fact that “Heritage” is synonymous with neither “Republican party” nor “conservative movement,” nor that, even if it were, such a link would serve only to confuse matters. As Avik Roy notes over at Forbes, the so-called “Heritage plan” was actually “killed” by another Heritage employee, Peter Ferrara, whose first act after leaving the organization was to campaign vehemently against the idea and to “[convince] 37 leaders of the conservative movement, including Phyllis Schlafly, Grover Norquist, and Paul Weyrich, to sign a petition opposing” it. Ferrara was joined in his opposition by the Cato Institute, the Galen Institute, and almost everybody on the Republican side of Congress.
Reich’s fantasy account of a restrained Democratic party does not hold up either. There is a devastatingly dull reason the bulletproof Democratic majority of 2008 didn’t build “comprehensive health insurance on Social Security and Medicare,” and that is that it didn’t have the votes. Indeed, with full control of the government, Democrats didn’t even have the votes to set up a public insurance option, let alone to take over the whole system. Long before Scott Brown was elected to the Senate, Ezra Klein was lamenting that the public option was dead on arrival. Joe Lieberman, Klein noted sadly, has “swung the axe and cut his deal cleanly, killing not only the public option, but anything that looked even remotely like it.”
Lieberman did this for a solid reason: Despite the best efforts of the president, the mooted health-care bill remained deeply unpopular throughout the legislative process, and the public option even more so. Americans, remember, didn’t even want the bill as it currently ended up, and they were so determined to stop it that the progressive stronghold of Massachusetts elected to the Senate a Republican who ran promising not only to “kill” that specific bill but also to end the Democratic party’s filibuster-proof majority. Are we honestly expected to suppose that if the proposal had been farther to the left, it would have had a better chance? Does the progressive movement really think that the public can be persuaded that Democratic legislators “compromised” with an intransigent opposition out of the goodness of their hearts? I think not.
As for Reich’s claim that a single-payer system would have been “more widely accepted by the public”: Is he joking? So acutely aware were the president and his allies in Congress of the fact that the vast majority of Americans did not want to lose their current insurance that, like so many traveling salesmen on the frontier, they just brazenly lied, promising things of their product that it could never possibly deliver and assiduously playing down the scale of the chance that their customers were taking. Again, with Obamacare as it is now, the president was forced onto the defensive, provoked into repeating as mantra that “if you like your health-care plan, you will be able to keep your health-care plan” and into reassuring voters that “no one will take it away – no matter what.” One can only imagine what he would have had to promise if he had been peddling single-payer.
The New York Times’ Paul Krugman, who has dismissed the law as an “immense kludge” and is open about his preference for a Medicaid-for-all single-payer model, has managed to grasp that “the reluctance of workers who currently have good insurance through their employers to trade that insurance for something new” meant in practical terms that “the Affordable Care Act was probably all we could get.” It was indeed, and if the Republican party plays its cards right and can turn the disastrous rollout of the law into a setback not just to this particular scheme but to the technocratic model itself, it will be all that the Left “can get” for some time to come.
Nevertheless, as any good liar knows, it is the chaotic and amorphous opening days of any disaster that provide the opportunities for the most ambitious spin. Refusing to allow anything as prosaic as truth to intrude upon their fantasies, progressives are engaged in an audacious attempt to blame their opponents for their signature mistake and, worse, to pretend that the solution to the havoc wrought by magical thinking is to commission even more magic. “We must do what we can,” William F. Buckley Jr. wrote in a letter to Henry Kissinger, “to bring hammer blows against the bell jar that protects the dreamers from reality.” With Obamacare failing in precisely the ways that they predicted it would, conservatives have been given an extraordinary hammer. They must not let their opponents take it from their hands.
And if you have a problem with that, guess what?
Georgia Rep. John Lewis racist racist racist Republican racist racist President Obama racist racist racist RAAAAAAAACISM.
Racist racist racist racist racist racist… racist racist racist racist racist racist racist racist racist racist racist, racist racist racist racist racist racist racist racist racist racist.
Racist racist racist Republican racist racist racist Obamacare racist racist racist racist racist, Lewis racist: “Racist racist racist racist racist racist racist racist racist. Racist racist racist racist racist racist 50s, racist Southern racist racist racist Southern Manifesto racist racist racist racist racist racist 1954.”
Whoops! I accidentally put that through the English-to-Demspeak translator. Here’s the original text:
Georgia Rep. John Lewis on Tuesday compared Republican opposition to President Obama’s health-care law to racism.
The Democratic lawmaker made the comments… during a House Ways and Means Committee hearing with Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Referencing the numerous Republican attempts to repeal Obamacare over the last several years, Lewis said: “Just reminds me of another period in our history. Not so long ago during the 50s, many Southern senators signed a Southern Manifesto after the Supreme Court decision of 1954.”
Are you ready for the punchline? Have you guessed it already?
Ironically, while Lewis used the Southern Manifesto – which was in opposition to integration – to attack Republicans, 97 of the 99 politicians who signed it in 1956 were Democrats.
Yeah, but the other two were the real racists!
Dear Representative Lewis,
We’re sorry that some white people beat you up in the ’60s because they were racists. You did good, brave things, and you didn’t deserve that.
But it’s wrong to use that as an excuse, 50 years later, to lie about your political opponents.
Please stop it.
The United States of America
To start, something we can all agree on – Ted Cruz tends to evoke passionate emotions.
The left hates him because, well, he’s a human textbook in the art of annoying liberals. The right is more divided. Some conservatives dislike Cruz because they view him as an agitator for agitation’s sake.
Some conservatives dislike him because, well, they aren’t him. But for many conservatives, Cruz is the ultimate politician; a conservative gunslinger – no excuses, no prisoners, no retreat – quite literally, the Lone Star State Ranger.
Yet, regardless of how we as individuals feel about Cruz’s politics, for five reasons, he deserves our respect.
1) He’s intelligent
As his liberal Harvard Law Professor, Alan Dershowitz, put it, “Cruz was off-the-charts brilliant.”
While the Senator often takes flak for his statements in Congress, at speeches off the Hill, he tends to strike a slightly different figure. Passionate yes, but able to articulate the intricacies of his positions to a mix of audiences. If nothing else, we should celebrate the fact that a man who rose from humble beginnings is now at the intellectual forefront of shaping his party’s future.
2) He puts causes above political gain
Soaring speeches, relentless campaigning, marathon filibusters… No one can accuse Cruz of being a political crony. Let’s face it; he doesn’t seem desperate to win powerful friends. In fact, he’s reveled in torching bridges as much as building them.
Cruz’s relentless passion speaks to something. We might disagree with some (or all) of his opinions, –but we should respect Cruz’s commitment. By the authority of Texas voters, Cruz has been sent to Washington for a reason. He’s fulfilling it. Though he’s controversial at home as well as in DC, so far, the defining judges of Cruz’s ‘service’, Texan voters, remain more favorable in their opinion of him than they are negative. Of course, this may change, but until it does, Cruz can point to a continuing base of popular legitimacy. We should respect that.
3) He’s amusing
No one can accuse the Senator of being boring. His speeches are loaded with humor. And impressively for a politician, Cruz’s jokes include references to both modern social trends and cultural Americana. This isn’t silly, it’s crucially important. Regrettably, many Americans are far more interested in the Kardashians than they are in their own government. That’s not healthy for our democracy.
Yet, Cruz is helping to change this dynamic – he’s making politics more accessible and more engaging. When he sends syrup to Jon Stewart, he’s connecting with young Americans. When he compares ObamaCare to Dr. Seuss, he’s introducing levity to a DC dominated debate. Certainly, he’s differentiating himself from the callous, mindless oratory of Republicans like Todd Akin or Richard Mourdock.
4) He’s a political turbine
When it comes to Ted Cruz, you never know what you’re going to get. That makes his politics interesting. In turn, Cruz drags people out of disinterest and into the discussion. These days, Cruz is probably better at stirring up the liberal base than the president. For the well-being of our country, this catalytic quality is priceless. The main problem with contemporary American politics isn’t Cruz style intransigence. Instead, it’s the fact that many Americans ignore politics in general. They care enough to complain, but not enough to demand change. Cruz changes that equation. He’s a grenade against apathy.
5) He’s done nothing wrong
Listening to some commentators, you’d think that Cruz is an American Guy Fawkes. He isn’t. Rather, the senator is doing what most ambitious politician do – he’s applying the system to his own advantage.
It’s true, few of his actions could be regarded as bi-partisan in nature. But political service is about more than deference to common authority (as President Obama recently found out with his Syria authorization request in Congress). In the end, Cruz will be considered just as much for what he has prevented, as for what he has established. His is undoubtedly a risky proposition – 2016 Republican primary voters may come to regard Cruz harshly if the GOP loses key seats in the 2014 midterm elections. But Cruz’s record shouldn’t be written for a few more years.
Ultimately, the people of Texas will decide whether or not he deserves a second term. The American people will decide whether he gets the keys to another house.
In our system of government, Ted Cruz owes deference to two things alone – his oath and his office. Yes, many of us would prefer a more consensus oriented politician. Nevertheless, he’s an elected representative of America’s second most populous state. We don’t have to like him, we don’t have to vote for him, but paying heed to his pivotal role in our national political life, Ted Cruz deserves our respect.
Why are we even talking about taking military action in Syria? What is that military action supposed to accomplish? And what is the probability that it will in fact accomplish whatever that unknown goal might be?
What is painfully clear from President Obama’s actions, inactions, and delays is that he is more or less playing by ear what specifically he is going to do, and when. He is telling us more about what he is not going to do – that he will not put “boots on the ground,” for example – than about what he will do.
All this is happening a year after issuing an ultimatum to the Bashar Assad regime in Syria against the use of chemical or biological weapons. When the president of the United States issues an ultimatum to another sovereign nation, he should know in advance what he is going to do if that ultimatum is rejected.
But that is not the way Barack Obama operates. Like so many people who are masters of lofty words, he does not pay nearly as much attention to mundane realities. Campaigning is his strong suit. Governing is not.
With the mainstream media ready to ooh and aah over his rhetoric, and pass over in silence his policy disasters as president, Obama is home free as far as domestic politics is concerned. But, on the world stage, neither America’s enemies nor her allies are hypnotized by his words or his image.
Nations that have to decide whether to ally themselves with us or with our enemies understand that they are making life-and-death decisions. It is not about rhetoric, image, or symbolism. It is about whether nations can count on the realism, wisdom, and dependability of the American government.
Make no mistake about it, Barack Obama is a very clever man. But cleverness is not wisdom, or even common sense.
When he was in the Senate, Obama – along with Senators Joe Biden, Chuck Hagel, and Hillary Clinton – was critical of the Bush administration for not being favorable to the Assad regime.
Hillary Clinton said that she and other lawmakers who visited Assad considered him a “reformer.” Back in 2007, when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, both Senator Biden and Senator Hagel chided her for not being more ready to negotiate with Assad.
Senator John Kerry in 2009 said, “Syria is an essential player in bringing peace and stability to the region.”
Some people said that having Joe Biden as vice president meant that President Obama had someone with many years of foreign-policy experience. What they ignored was that Biden had decades of experience being wrong on foreign-policy issues time and time again.
Biden opposed President Ronald Reagan’s military buildup that countered the Soviet Union’s buildup and helped bring about both the end of the Cold War and the end of the Soviet Union. General David Petraeus’s “surge” strategy that greatly reduced the terrorist attacks in Iraq was opposed in 2007 by Senator Biden, who said, “We need to stop the surge and start to get our troops out.”
Senator Hillary Clinton not only opposed the surge from the outset, she was among those who refused to believe that it had succeeded, even after all the hard evidence had convinced most other people.
The grim reality is that the people in key positions to shape our foreign policy during the Obama administration – the president, the vice president, two secretaries of state, and the current secretary of defense – all have a track record of grossly misconceiving the issues, our enemies, and our national interest.
This is the administration that is now asking for a blank check from Congress to take unspecified military action to achieve unspecified goals. “Military action” is a polite phrase for killing people. It would be nice to believe that this has some purpose other than saving Barack Obama from political embarrassment after he issued an ultimatum without having thought through what he would do if that ultimatum was ignored.
He has the authority to take military action if he wants to. The question is whether he can sucker the Republicans into giving him political cover by pre-approving his unknown actions and unknown goals.
‘The genius of you Americans,” the Arab-nationalist and one-time president of Egypt, Gamal Abdel Nasser, once explained, “is that you never make clear-cut stupid moves, only complicated stupid moves which make us wonder at the possibility that there may be something to them which we are missing.”
I’ve long taken patriotic pride in such statements of befuddlement from foreigners. America is a gloriously complicated thing. We often confuse our national creeds for universal principles. We are a Jacksonian people (that’s Andrew Jackson, in case you were wondering) in love with Jeffersonian ideals and legalistically committed to Madisonian mechanisms. Like a guard dog that would rather not leave the porch, we are quick to anger but not necessarily quick to fight, and we are just as eager to forgive.
So from the vantage point of foreign brutes, bullies, and buffoons, it’s understandable that America’s methods could be confused for stupidity. This is why I love the old expression, “America can choke on a gnat, but swallow a tiger whole.”
So I am trying very hard to hold onto this perspective as I watch the president of the United States behave in a way you don’t have to be a pan-Arab autocrat to think is incredibly stupid.
Where to begin? Perhaps with Obama’s initial refusal to support the moderate rebels seeking to overthrow Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, a puppet of Iran and bagman for Hezbollah. Or we might start with Obama’s refusal to support the Green Movement in Iran, which sought to overthrow the Iranian regime, which would have been a triumph for both our principles and our national interests.
These were odd choices, particularly given his decision to help depose Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, an indisputably evil man, but also a dictator who posed no threat, who abided by our demands to relinquish WMDs, and whose domestic death toll was a tiny fraction of Assad’s.
“We cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people there will be no mercy… where innocent men and women face brutality and death at the hands of their own government” was Obama’s justification for an attack on Libya – without congressional approval. But when Assad killed tenfold as many men, women, and children, Obama refused to act for nearly two years. And when he finally decided it was imperative to attack Assad – after the dictator crossed a chemical-weapons “red line” drawn by Obama himself – he suddenly discovered the need for congressional authorization.
Obama doesn’t believe he needs authorization from Congress to strike Syria, he just wants it. He’s like a kid desperate for a prom date, but too vain to admit it. In Libya, Obama had the U.N. and NATO on each arm, so he didn’t bother with asking the dog on Capitol Hill for a date. But now, faced with the prospect of going it alone, he’s in effect telling Congress, “Hey, it’s not like I need your company, but you’d be crazy not to go to war with me.”
Whoops. As even Nancy Pelosi’s own grandkid now knows, we mustn’t call it a war. “The president is not asking you to go to war,” Secretary of State John Kerry told Congress. He’s merely asking them to authorize a sustained cruise-missile attack on military installations to “degrade” the regime’s “capabilities.”
But, according to Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman General Martin Dempsey, no one has asked the military to do anything that might change the “momentum” of the Syrian civil war. This is like saying you’re going to attack a runaway car barreling toward a crowd of kids, but do nothing to actually, you know, slow it down. What good does it do to trash the radio and rip out the cup holders on an out-of-control car?
Meanwhile, according to numerous accounts, Assad is moving military assets into civilian areas and civilians into military areas, even as the Obama administration insists it makes no difference militarily to wait for Congress to debate. That’s not just stupid; it’s an outright lie that will be fact-checked with blood.
I understand the attraction the buddy system has for a man who, as a state legislator, perfected the art of voting “present” on hard questions. But it’s hard to see this as anything other than rank political cowardice.
The buck stopped with Truman. For Obama, the buck is kryptonite.
In Stockholm on Wednesday, the president said that the credibility of the world, America, Congress, and the international community is on the line. Everybody is on the hook for his red line, except for the one person who actually drew it.
I’d love to see the genius in that argument, but it looks like clear-cut stupidity to me.
Oh, how I long for the days when liberals wailed that “the rest of the world” hated America, rather than now, when the rest of the world laughs at us.
With the vast majority of Americans opposing a strike against Syria, President Obama has requested that Congress vote on his powers as commander in chief under the Constitution. The president doesn’t need congressional approval to shoot a few missiles into Syria, nor – amazingly – has he said he’ll abide by such a vote, anyway.
Why is Congress even having a vote? This is nothing but a fig leaf to cover Obama’s own idiotic “red line” ultimatum to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria on chemical weapons. The Nobel Peace Prize winner needs to get Congress on the record so that whatever happens, the media can blame Republicans.
No Republican who thinks seriously about America’s national security interests – by which I mean to exclude John McCain and Lindsey Graham – can support Obama’s “plan” to shoot blindly into this hornet’s nest.
It would be completely different if we knew with absolute certainty that Assad was responsible for chemical attacks on his own people. (I’m still waiting to see if it was a Syrian upset about a YouTube video.)
It would be different if instead of killing a few hundred civilians, Assad had killed 5,000 civilians with poison gas in a single day, as well as tens of thousands more with chemical weapons in the past few decades.
It would be different if Assad were known to torture his own people, administer summary executions, rapes, burnings and electric shocks, often in front of the victim’s wife or children.
It would be different if Assad had acted aggressively toward the United States itself, perhaps attempting to assassinate a former U.S. president or giving shelter to terrorists who had struck within the U.S. – someone like Maj. Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood terrorist.
It would be different if Assad were stirring up trouble in the entire Middle East by, for example, paying bounties to the families of suicide bombers in other countries.
It would also be different if we could be sure that intervention in Syria would not lead to a multi-nation conflagration.
It would be different if we knew that any action against Syria would not put al-Qaida or the Muslim Brotherhood in power, but rather would result in a functioning, peaceful democracy.
And it would be different if an attack on Syria would so terrify other dictators in the region that they would instantly give up their WMDs – say, Iran abandoning its nuclear program.
If all of that were true, this would be a military intervention worth supporting!
All of that was true about Iraq, but the Democrats hysterically opposed that war. They opposed it even after all this was known to be true – indeed, especially after it was known to be true! The loudest opponent was Barack Obama.
President Saddam Hussein of Iraq had attempted to assassinate former president George H.W. Bush. He gave shelter to Abdul Rahman Yasin, a conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. He paid bounties to the families of suicide bombers in Israel.
Soon after Bush invaded Iraq in 2003, Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi was so terrified of an attack on his own country, he voluntarily relinquished his WMDs – which turned out to be far more extensive than previously imagined.
Al-Qaida not only did not take over Iraq, but got its butt handed to it in Iraq, where the U.S. and its allies killed thousands of al-Qaida fighters, including the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Iraq became the first genuine Arab democracy, holding several elections and presiding over a trial of Saddam Hussein.
Does anyone imagine that any of this would result from an Obama-led operation in Syria? How did his interventions work out in Egypt and Libya?
As for chemical weapons – the casus belli for the current drums of war – in a matter of hours on March 16, 1988, Saddam Hussein slaughtered roughly 5,000 Kurdish civilians in Halabja with mustard, sarin and VX gas. The victims blistered, vomited or laughed hysterically before dropping dead. Thousands more would die later from the after-effects of these poisons.
Saddam launched nearly two dozen more chemical attacks on the Kurds, resulting in at least 50,000 deaths, perhaps three times that many. That’s to say nothing of the tens of thousands of Iranians Saddam killed with poison gas. Indeed, in making the case against Assad recently, Secretary of State John Kerry said his use of chemical weapons put him in the same league as “Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein.”
Not even close – but may we ask why Kerry sneered at the war that removed such a monster as Hussein?
There were endless United Nations reports and resolutions both establishing that Saddam had used chemical weapons and calling on him to give them up. (For the eighth billionth time, we did find chemical weapons in Iraq, just no “stockpiles.” Those had been moved before the war, according to Saddam’s own general, Georges Sada – to Syria.)
On far less evidence, our current president accuses Assad of using chemical weapons against a fraction of the civilians provably murdered with poison gas by Saddam Hussein. So why did Obama angrily denounce the military operation that removed Hussein? Why did he call that a “war of choice”?
Obama says Assad – unlike that great statesman Saddam Hussein – has posed “a challenge to the world.” But the world disagrees. Even our usual ally, Britain, disagrees. So Obama demands the United States act alone to stop a dictator, who – compared to Saddam – is a piker.
At this point, Assad is at least 49,000 dead bodies short of the good cause the Iraq War was, even if chemical weapons had been the only reason to take out Saddam Hussein.
Congress should reject President Obama’s appeal for authorization to attack Syria in retaliation for its alleged use of chemical weapons.
Just as state Sen. Barack Obama opposed the use of force resolution against Saddam Hussein in 2002, Congress should turn aside the president’s appeal to attack now that his particular “red line” has been crossed in Syria. If he was against drawing the line against Hussein, what is the need to draw the line with Bashar Assad?
In “The Great Deformation,” former Budget Director David Stockman writes eloquently about the costs of a “welfare” and a “warfare” state, noting that they both drain our national economy – the warfare state particularly. With our economy trembling on the brink of a major crash, in the opinion of many economists, this is no time for another expensive military operation.
Above all, it is wrong to commit our nation’s military to a confused and contradictory conflict. How can we fight when The Wall Street Journal attributes to a Pentagon official the fear that “the wrong groups in the opposition would be able to take advantage of [an American bombing campaign]?” He said that the administration did not want to topple Assad from power – just to punish him for using gas.
This kind of half-in, half-out mission is exactly the kind of intervention we must avoid. It creates its own momentum and leads to ever greater involvement, regardless of the initial intent.
Former Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) has said that we would become “al Qaeda’s airforce” should we attack Assad. The evidence is overwhelming that al Qaeda is the alternative to Assad in Syria. The illusion of a liberal, democratic alternative is as ephemeral in Syria as it has proven to be in Egypt. In bombing Assad, we would inevitably become involved on the wrong side of a civil war. Not that Assad is the right side; there is no right side, and we should stay out.
Why is the president asking for congressional approval of his intervention? Is it a sudden concern for the limitations of executive power? Or is it a desire to use the gas episode to get a Gulf of Tonkin-style open-ended OK for intervention in this civil war? Could it be related to his desire to appease the Saudi monarchy by backing the rebels that Riyadh desperately wants to win?
We must all step back, at this juncture, and question what five decades of war have accomplished. Vietnam was, unquestionably, a total waste of men, money and political credibility. We lost, and we would have accomplished nothing had we won. The fall of the Soviet Empire would not have been hastened one day by defeat or advanced one day by victory. The war between China and Vietnam within years of the end of U.S. involvement showed how flawed the domino theory really was.
The first Gulf War, obviously, achieved nothing. It left Hussein in power and we had to go in again. The second Gulf War is increasingly appearing to be destructive in its impact. We seem to have succeeded only in giving Iran a staunch ally in the Middle East. The recent killing of 52 Iranian dissidents in Camp Ashraf – the sanctuary we established for opponents of the Ayatollah – reportedly by Iraqi forces, shows how flawed our involvement was.
The Afghan War has degraded al Qaeda’s ability to fight, but the broader effort at nation-building has only really propped up a regime that non-governmental organization Transparency International rates as the second most corrupt on Earth.
Libya? The jury is still out, but the activity of al Qaeda there, as evidenced by the Benghazi raid, indicates it may have a similarly disappointing outcome.
It is plainly time to say no. It is time to heed the warning of President Eisenhower against limited wars, unbalanced budgets and the military industrial complex.
Syria is, indeed, the time to draw a red line. But the line should be against military adventures.
Early signs say it will be hard for President Obama to win congressional authorization for military action in Syria. That could change; lawmakers might re-write the president’s draft authorization into something they can live with, ultimately allowing Obama to go forward. But whatever happens, Republicans have a compelling case for rejecting the president’s request. Based on off-the-record conversations with some of them, this is it:
1) The chemical weapons evidence. The Obama administration appears to believe that conclusive proof that the Assad regime used chemical weapons against Syrian civilians creates an unassailable case for U.S. intervention. A few lawmakers will likely challenge whether the proof is really conclusive. But a far larger number will accept the evidence that Assad used chemical weapons – and still reject intervention.
Those lawmakers will argue that Obama did not intervene when Assad used conventional weapons to slaughter thousands of innocent people; the death toll in the two-and-and-half-year civil war is put at 100,000. What is different now? They will also point to the various atrocities and human rights violations around the world in which the United States has not intervened. American involvement, they will argue, should be contingent on a genuine U.S. national security interest, not the simple fact that an awful thing has been done.
2) The blank check problem. Lots of lawmakers, Republican and Democrat, believe Obama’s draft resolution gives the president too much power. The draft would grant Obama the authority to use armed force “as he determines to be necessary and appropriate” in connection with weapons of mass destruction in Syria, for the purpose of preventing the future use or spread of those weapons, or, more generally, protecting the U.S. and its allies.
For many lawmakers, that’s too broad a mandate. But a significant number of members might reject even a narrowed version of the resolution on the grounds that, once the use of force is authorized, Congress as a practical matter will have little control over how the president exercises it.
3) The nature of the Syrian opposition. Many Republicans will never be convinced the U.S. can come to the aid of good rebels in Syria without also helping bad rebels in Syria. It’s just too complicated, they believe, and there are simply too many bad guys. Why risk aiding al Qaeda or its affiliates? These Republicans remain unconvinced by arguments from fellow GOP lawmakers like John McCain, who point out that in the Libyan operation the U.S. essentially set up a safe area for good rebels in Benghazi. Given what happened later in that Libyan city, the skeptics will remain unconvinced.
4) The lack of confidence in Barack Obama. There’s no doubt the president has been extremely reluctant to take action in Syria. He also showed terrible judgment by painting himself into a corner with his 2012 “red line” comments on chemical weapons. For those reasons, and more, some Republicans will argue that they simply cannot entrust special warmaking powers to a president who they believe is not competent to use them.
5) The “first to die” dilemma. Some Republicans are so war-weary that they would be loathe to authorize any military action in the absence of an actual attack on the United States. When Sen. Rand Paul re-phrased John Kerry’s words from Vietnam – Kerry famously asked, “How do you ask a man to be the last to die for a mistake?” which Paul changed to “How do you ask a man to be the first to die for a mistake?” – the senator from Kentucky was signaling that there is virtually no way lawmakers like him will ever support a Syrian initiative.
How many Republicans hold some or all of these beliefs? Quite a few. Perhaps in anticipation of a close vote, a new argument is circulating among pro-interventionists which says that protecting the prerogatives of future presidents is so important that Republicans should support Obama’s Syrian action even if there is no good case for doing so.
Rejecting Obama could permanently weaken the presidency, argues political scientist James Ceaser in an article cited by influential conservative commentator William Kristol. Therefore, Republicans should vote to authorize force “even if they think that the president’s policy will prove ineffective, do no good, waste money, or entail unforeseen risks…even if they think he has gotten the nation into this situation by blunders, fecklessness, arrogance, or naiveté; and…even if, and especially, if they have no confidence in his judgment.”
That will be a very hard sell for Republicans. In the end, many will carefully consider all the evidence and then vote their instincts. And that will mean a vote against Barack Obama.
Sen. Bob Corker: “What is it you’re seeking?”
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: “I can’t answer that, what we’re seeking.”
– Senate hearing on the use of force in Syria, Sept. 3
We have a problem. The president proposes attacking Syria, and his top military officer cannot tell you the objective. Does the commander in chief know his own objective? Why, yes. “A shot across the bow,” explained Barack Obama.
Now, a shot across the bow is a warning. Its purpose is to say: Cease and desist, or the next shot will sink you. But Obama has already told the world – and Bashar al-Assad in particular – that there will be no next shot. He has insisted time and again that the operation will be finite and highly limited. Take the shot, kill some fish, go home.
What then is the purpose? Dempsey hasn’t a clue, but Secretary of State John Kerry says it will uphold and proclaim a norm and thus deter future use of chemical weapons. With a few Tomahawk missiles? Hitting sites that, thanks to the administration having leaked the target list, have already been scrubbed of important military assets?
This is risible. If anything, a pinprick from which Assad emerges unscathed would simply enhance his stature and vindicate his conduct.
Deterrence depends entirely on perception, and the perception in the Middle East is universal: Obama wants no part of Syria.
Assad has to go, says Obama, and then lifts not a finger for two years. Obama lays down a “red line,” and then ignores it. Shamed finally by a massive poison gas attack, he sends Kerry to make an impassioned case for righteous and urgent retaliation – and the very next day, Obama undermines everything by declaring an indefinite timeout to seek congressional approval.
This stunning zigzag, following months of hesitation, ambivalence, contradiction and studied delay, left our regional allies shocked and our enemies gleeful. I had strongly advocated going to Congress. But it was inconceivable that, instead of recalling Congress to emergency session, Obama would simply place everything in suspension while Congress finished its Labor Day barbecues and he flew off to Stockholm and St. Petersburg. So much for the fierce urgency of enforcing an international taboo and speaking for the dead children of Damascus.
Here’s how deterrence works in the Middle East. Syria, long committed to the destruction of Israel, has not engaged Israel militarily in 30 years. Why? Because it recognizes Israel as a serious adversary with serious policies.
This year alone, Israel has four times conducted airstrikes in Syria. No Syrian response. How did Israel get away with it? Israel had announced that it would not tolerate Assad acquiring or transferring to Hezbollah advanced weaponry. No grandiloquent speeches by the Israeli foreign minister. No leaked target lists. Indeed, the Israelis didn’t acknowledge the strikes even after they had carried them out. Unlike the American president, they have no interest in basking in perceived toughness. They care only about effect. They care about just one audience – the party to be deterred, namely Assad and his allies.
Assad knows who did it. He didn’t have to see the Israeli prime minister preening about it on world television.
And yet here is Obama, having yet done nothing but hesitate, threaten, retract and wander about the stage, claiming Wednesday in Sweden to be the conscience of the world, upholding not his own red line but the world’s. And, incidentally, Congress’s – a transparent attempt at offloading responsibility.
What should Congress do?
To his dovish base, Obama insists on how limited and militarily marginal the strike will be. To undecided hawks such as Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who are prepared to support a policy that would really alter the course of the civil war, he vaguely promises the opposite – to degrade Assad’s military while upgrading that of the resistance.
Problem is, Obama promised U.S. weaponry three months ago and not a rifle has arrived. This time around, what seems in the making is a mere pinprick, designed to be, one U.S. official told the Los Angeles Times, “just muscular enough not to get mocked.”
That’s why Dempsey is so glum. That’s why U.S. allies are so stunned. There’s no strategy, no purpose here other than helping Obama escape self-inflicted humiliation.
This is deeply unserious. Unless Obama can show the country that his don’t-mock-me airstrike is, in fact, part of a serious strategic plan, Congress should vote no.
John McCain changed the administration’s authorization resolution to include, mirabile dictu, a U.S. strategy in Syria: to alter the military equation (against Assad). Unfortunately, Obama is not known for being bound by what Congress passes (see, for example: health care, employer mandate).
When Obama tells the nation what he told McCain and Lindsey Graham in private – that he plans to degrade Assad’s forces, upgrade the resistance and alter the balance of forces – Congress might well consider authorizing the use of force. But until then, it’s no.
I see the Obama “reset” is going so swimmingly that the president is now threatening to go to war against a dictator who gassed his own people. Don’t worry, this isn’t anything like the dictator who gassed his own people that the discredited warmonger Bush spent 2002 and early 2003 staggering ever more punchily around the country inveighing against. The 2003 dictator who gassed his own people was the leader of the Baath Party of Iraq. The 2013 dictator who gassed his own people is the leader of the Baath Party of Syria. Whole other ball of wax. The administration’s ingenious plan is to lose this war in far less time than we usually take. In the unimprovable formulation of an unnamed official speaking to the Los Angeles Times, the White House is carefully calibrating a military action “just muscular enough not to get mocked.”
That would make a great caption for a Vanity Fair photo shoot of Obama gamboling in the surf at Martha’s Vineyard, but as a military strategy it’s not exactly Alexander the Great or the Duke of Wellington. And it’s trickier than it sounds: I’m sure Miley’s choreographer assured her she was “just muscular enough not to get mocked,” and one wouldn’t want to see the United States reduced to twerking arrhythmically to no avail in front of an unimpressed Bashar Assad’s Robin Thicke. Okay, okay, that metaphor’s as thinly stretched as Miley’s talent, so what does unmockable musculature boil down to? From the New York Times: “A wide range of officials characterize the action under consideration as ‘limited,’ perhaps lasting no more than a day or two.”
Yeah, I know, that’s what Edward III said about the Hundred Years’ War. But Obama seems to mean it:
An American official said that the initial target lists included fewer than 50 sites, including air bases where Syria’s Russian-made attack helicopters are. The list includes command and control centers as well as a variety of conventional military targets. Perhaps two to three missiles would be aimed at each site.
Got that? So, if you’re a Syrian air-base commander, you might want to think about moving those Russian helicopters, or at least yourself – perhaps to that black-eyed cutie’s apartment, above the restaurant where the kibbeh with the pomegranate sauce is to die for, just for the night, until the Great Satan has twerked his ordnance at you twice or thrice and gone away to threaten the Yemenis or Somalis or whoever’s next.
In the world’s most legalistic culture, it was perhaps inevitable that battle plans would eventually be treated under courtroom discovery rules and have to be disclosed to the other side in your pre-war statement. But in this case it doesn’t seem to be impressing anyone. Like his patrons in Tehran and Moscow, Assad’s reaction to American threats is to double up with laughter and say, “Bring it, twerkypants.” Headline from Friday’s Guardian in London: “Syria: ‘Napalm’ Bomb Dropped on School Playground, BBC Claims” – which, if true, suggests that even a blood-soaked mass murderer is not without a sense of humor. Napalm, eh? There’s a word I haven’t heard since, oh, 40 years ago or thereabouts, somewhere in the general vicinity of southeast Asia.
The BBC footage is grisly; the British media have been far more invested in the Syrian civil war than their U.S. colleagues. But what’s the net effect of all the harrowing human-interest stories? This week, David Cameron recalled Parliament from its summer recess to permit the people’s representatives to express their support for the impending attack. Instead, for the first time since the British defeat at Yorktown in 1782, the House of Commons voted to deny Her Majesty’s Government the use of force. Under the Obama “reset,” even the Coalition of the Willing is unwilling. “It’s clear to me that the British Parliament and the British people do not wish to see military action,” said the prime minister. So the Brits are out, and, if he goes at all, Obama will be waging war without even Austin Powers’s Union Jack fig leaf.
“This House will not fight for king and country”? Not exactly. What the British people are sick of, quite reasonably enough, is ineffectual warmongering, whether in the cause of Blairite liberal interventionism or of Bush’s big-power assertiveness. The problem with the American way of war is that, technologically, it can’t lose, but, in every other sense, it can’t win. No one in his right mind wants to get into a tank battle or a naval bombardment with the guys responsible for over 40 percent of the planet’s military expenditures. Which is why these days there aren’t a lot of tank battles. The consummate interventionist Robert Kagan wrote in his recent book that the American military “remains unmatched.” It’s unmatched in the sense that the only guy in town with a tennis racket isn’t going to be playing a lot of tennis matches. But the object of war, in Liddell Hart’s famous distillation, is not to destroy the enemy’s tanks (or Russian helicopters) but his will. And on that front America loses, always. The “unmatched” superpower cannot impose its will on Kabul kleptocrats, Pashtun goatherds, Egyptian generals, or Benghazi militia. There is no reason to believe Syria would be an exception to this rule. America’s inability to win ought to be a burning national question, but it’s not even being asked.
Let us stipulate that many of those war-weary masses are ignorant and myopic. But at a certain level they grasp something that their leaders don’t: For a quarter-century, from Kuwait to Kosovo to Kandahar, the civilized world has gone to war only in order to save or liberate Muslims. The Pentagon is little more than central dispatch for the U.S. military’s Muslim Fast Squad. And what do we have to show for it? Liberating Syria isn’t like liberating the Netherlands: In the Middle East, the enemy of our enemy is also our enemy. Yes, those BBC images of schoolchildren with burning flesh are heart-rending. So we’ll get rid of Assad and install the local branch of al-Qaeda or the Muslim Brotherhood or whatever plucky neophyte democrat makes it to the presidential palace first – and then, instead of napalmed schoolyards, there will be, as in Egypt, burning Christian churches and women raped for going uncovered.
So what do we want in Syria? Obama can’t say, other than for him to look muscular without being mocked, like a camp bodybuilder admiring himself in the gym mirror.
Oh, well. If the British won’t be along for the ride, the French are apparently still in. What was the old gag from a decade ago during those interminable U.N. resolutions with Chirac saying “Non!” every time? Ah, yes: “Going to war without the French is like going hunting without an accordion.” Oddly enough, the worst setback for the Islamic imperialists in recent years has been President Hollande’s intervention in Mali, where, unlike the money-no-object Pentagon, the French troops had such undernourished supply lines that they had to hitch a ride to the war on C-17 transports from the Royal Air Force and Royal Canadian Air Force. And yet they won – insofar as anyone ever really wins on that benighted sod.
Meanwhile, the hyperpower is going to war because Obama wandered off prompter and accidentally made a threat. So he has to make good on it, or America will lose its credibility. But he only wants to make good on it in a perfunctory and ineffectual way. So America will lose its credibility anyway.
Maybe it’s time to learn the accordion…
Barack Obama knows that America’s military is a big stick, but unfortunately Roosevelt’s advice about speaking softly doesn’t seem to have stuck. Because Barack Obama recklessly shot off his mouth about a “red line” in Syria, he’s demanding that our nation insert itself into a civil war between terrorist groups, both of which have chemical weapons, to protect his ego. Happily, the American people recognize what a foolish move this would be. A Reuters/Ipsos poll shows that only 9% of Americans currently support bombing Syria. This is why Barack Obama has punted his Syrian War to Congress. He’s hoping that it’ll be foolish enough to vote in favor of war to give him the political cover he needs to bomb. Not only should Congress vote against the war in Syria, if Obama bombs that country anyway, Congress should immediately cut off funds for the war and move to impeach him. Why?
1) We don’t have a son-of-a-b*tch in Syria. During the Cold War, America used to semi-regularly ally itself with some rather unsavory leaders and groups. The oft repeated rationale for supporting a dictator in those days was, “He may be a son-of-a-b*tch, but he’s our son-of-a-bitch.” In other words, both sides are bad guys, but this bad guy would work with us instead of the Soviets. In this case, we don’t have a dog in the fight. It’s a civil war between two groups that both despise us and will continue to hate us. Why risk American blood and treasure for people who will hate our guts no matter what we do?
2) Why act as Al-Qaeda’s Air Force? Barack Obama is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but even he should know that Al-Qaeda attacked America on 9/11. Well now, Bin Laden’s boys are teamed up with the rebels that are fighting Bashar al-Assad. We just spent a decade killing as many members of Al-Qaeda as humanly possible in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan; so how much sense does it make for Barack Obama to help Al-Qaeda take over Syria by bombing Bashar al-Assad? Bashar al-Assad may be our enemy, but we should be thrilled he’s killing Al-Qaeda and getting more of his terrorist pals in Hezbollah offed in the process.
3) What makes anyone think Obama can pull this off with no repercussions? What is there in Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House that makes anyone think he’s likely to handle this well? The fact that he didn’t kill a drone program George W. Bush set up? Because he was too distracted playing cards with Reggie Love to screw up killing Osama Bin Laden? Bush essentially won Iraq and Obama screwed up pulling out of that country and has put a hard-earned victory at risk. He’s also on track to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in Afghanistan. His incompetence got Americans killed in Benghazi, Libya. In Egypt, Obama helped get rid of a relatively friendly dictator in favor of anti-American, pro-terrorist theocrats who lasted just over a year before they were thrown out of power by an Egyptian public that seems to hate Obama almost as much as the Muslim Brotherhood. Yet, we now think Obama is going to insert himself into a terrorist-heavy civil war in the Middle East without creating as many problems as he solves? That’s like emptying a box of live spiders in a teenage girl’s slumber party and not expecting any screaming.
4) It invites retaliation from Iran and Hezbollah. Many conservatives believe that if we have a choice between bombing Iran or letting it acquire nuclear weapons, we’d be better off to bomb Iran. However, that is supposed to be a last resort after every other measure has failed. Given that Iran and Hezbollah are actively supporting Bashar al-Assad, bombing him means actively opposing both of them in a war. Could they retaliate against us with terrorist attacks? That’s certainly possible. Will they go after Israel to get at us? That’s highly likely. Will Israel respond to those attacks? Yes, Israel will. Could this set off a larger regional war? Again, that’s certainly possible. While Iran and Hezbollah have much more to fear from us than we do from them, you don’t walk up and kick a bee hive just because President Prissy Pants has worked himself into a huff.
5) It’s not in our national interest to bomb Syria. Costly though it may have been, it was in our national interest to overthrow the Taliban in Afghanistan over 9/11 and to target an aggressive enemy of America like Saddam Hussein in Iraq. That being said, had we known in advance how long our troops would be stuck in Iraq, it’s highly doubtful that we would have ever invaded. On the other hand, what’s the rationale for bombing the side that’s fighting Al-Qaeda in Syria? Both sides hate America. Both sides cooperate with terrorists. If anything, since Al-Qaeda is determined to kill Americans and Assad is not, the current dictator in charge is probably the lesser of two evils. Moreover, encouraging other nations to join us in imposing harsh sanctions on Syria would be just as effective as bombing when it comes to discouraging the use of WMDs without being as provocative. So, what argument is left? Are we supposed to bomb Syria to avoid looking “weak?” Well, if people have that impression, they can ask Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden, and Anwar al-Awlaki what they think about that if they’re willing to search through the bowels of hell long enough to find them.
1) This is President Obama’s number one political agenda item because he knows we will never again have a Republican president, ever, if amnesty goes into effect. We will perpetually have a progressive, liberal president, probably a Democrat, and we will probably see the House of Representatives go into Democrat hands and the Senate will stay in Democrat hands. – Michele Bachmann
2) The bill is worse than universal healthcare. Listen to me, it is worse than universal healthcare, and in the coming days as we get closer, we will explain why it’s worse than universal healthcare. It is the death knell of the country, there is no recovery from this one. None. No recovery. – Glenn Beck
3) If Republicans are opposed to what mass immigration is doing to the country demographically, ethnically, socially and politically, there are, as Reagan used to say, “simple answers, just no easy answers.”
Those answers: No amnesty, secure the border, enforce laws against businesses that hire illegals, and impose a moratorium on new immigration so wages can rise and immigrants enter the middle class and start voting as did the children and grandchildren of the immigrants of 1890-1920 by 1972.
So what are the Republicans doing?
Going back on their word, dishonoring their platform, and enraging their loyal supporters, who gave Mitt 90 percent of his votes, to pander to a segment of the electorate that gave Mitt less than 5 percent of his total votes.
Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad. – Pat Buchanan
4) The nation’s plutocrats are lined up with the Democratic Party in a short-term bid to get themselves cheap labor (subsidized by the rest of us), which will give the Democratic Party a permanent majority. If Rubio’s amnesty goes through, the Republican Party is finished. It will be the “Nancy Pelosi Democratic Party” versus the “Chuck Schumer Republican Party.” – Ann Coulter
5) Instead of cracking down on the Administration’s abuse of power, S. 744 places unprecedented new restrictions on interior enforcement – making the current situation much worse and much more hazardous. It is as if S. 744 were explicitly written to handcuff law enforcement officials – binding their hands while giving virtually unchecked authority to executive branch officials to prevent future removals, including removals of criminal aliens. – ICE Council president Chris Crane
6) It doesn’t stop illegal immigration. If anything it makes the problem worse by not securing the border and by incentivizing future illegal immigration. – Ted Cruz
7) Creating more than 30 million new immigrants, including 11 million former illegals, and supplanting their numbers with another 20-odd million guest workers is from a sociological and demographic point of view quite radical: 30 million is roughly a tenth of the current population of the United States. How we handle immigration is of fundamental importance to questions ranging from national security to economic growth to the character of our nation itself. That we cannot get a couple of small-time performance benchmarks written into the bill suggests that this issue is not being treated with the intelligence and the prudence it deserves. – The Editors at National Review
8) This is the administration that has refused to enforce the law… they have created new law out of nothing. They’ve violated the law in a number of ways. And our guys are counting on the administration to all of a sudden actually keep their word on something like securing the border when they’ve never done it before and they believe it’s in their political interest to continue not to secure the border even if there’s a deal? I mean that’s crazy to think they’re going to start securing the border and until we secure the border everything else is completely meaningless. – Louie Gohmert
9) Should this be grounds to primary challenge every Republican who voted for this bill, and I mean every single one? I don’t care if they just got re-elected. Next time they’re up for re-election. Ann Coulter’s right. This is a single issue – this is a single-issue primary challenge. You know why? Because this is it. As Bill Kristol said on this show, as he said on this show, once you give this pathway to citizenship all these benefits, all this discretion to [Janet] Napolitano, it’s over. It’s too late to complain about it. It’s over. – Laura Ingraham
10) The federal judge in Crane v. Napolitano has ruled that the ICE agents are likely to prevail in their argument that the Obama administration is ordering them to violate federal law. Think about that: This administration is ordering career law enforcement personnel to break the law. Now, the administration is pushing for an amnesty bill that contains almost nothing to improve immigration enforcement. All that the American citizens will get in return for the amnesty is the promise from the Obama administration that they will try harder to enforce the law. The administration has already shattered that promise, doing exactly the opposite. This is a stark warning to Congress. I sincerely hope that they hear it. – Kris Kobach
11) Almost every requirement in this bill can be waived by Janet Napolitano: for instance, the time limits on when people can be legalized, the requirements on criminal activity or even the enforcement triggers. Those basically don’t mean anything if any of them is held up in court, still. …The litigation over the 1986 bill didn’t end until just a few years ago. The ACLU has been quite clear that it intends to sue to stop mandatory e-verify and probably sue to stop a bunch of other things. If, for instance, mandatory use of electronic verification is still in the courts 10 years after the bill passes, it’s entirely possible the Secretary of Homeland Security can just give everybody Green Cards on her own – and there are hundreds of other examples of that kind of discretion. It’s not too much of an exaggeration to say that this 1,000 page bill after all of the amendments could be boiled down to, “We trust you, Obama; just do the right thing.” – Mark Krikorian
12) The ‘Gang of Eight’ bill is not immigration reform. It is big government dysfunction. It is an immigration Obamacare. All advocates of true immigration reform – on the left and the right – should oppose it. – Mike Lee
13) Okay. So what does that mean, the republic is at stake? This is the ball game. I remember people saying that about Obamacare. Now they’re saying it about immigration reform. And they’re both right. In the case of immigration reform, it effectively wipes out the Republican Party. – Rush Limbaugh
14) Will they listen? Suicidal Republicans have supported illegal alien amnesties dating back to the Reagan era. They have paid a steep, lasting price. As bankrupt, multiculti-wracked California goes, so goes the nation. The progs’ plan has always been to exploit the massive population of illegal aliens to redraw the political map and secure a permanent ruling majority.
Now, in the wake of nonstop D.C. corruption eruptions, SchMcGRubio and Company want us to trust them with a thousand new pages of phony triggers, left-wing slush-fund spending and make-believe assimilation gestures. Trust them? Hell, no. There’s only one course for citizens who believe in upholding the Constitution and protecting the American dream: Stop them. – Michelle Malkin
15) On every major front, this legislation fails to deliver on its core promises. It delivers only for the special interest groups who helped write it. Should it pass, it would represent the ultimate triumph of the Washington elite over the everyday citizen to whom Congress properly owes its loyalty. – Jeff Sessions
More opinion articles:
Excerpt – Every time I go on his show, my radio pal Hugh Hewitt asks me why congressional Republicans aren’t doing more to insist that the GOP suicide note known as “the immigration deal” include a requirement for a border fence. I don’t like to tell Hugh that, if they ever get around to building the fence, it won’t be to keep the foreigners out but to keep you guys in.
I jest, but only very slightly and only because the government doesn’t build much of anything these days – except for that vast complex five times the size of the Capitol the NSA is throwing up in Utah to house everybody’s data on everything everyone’s ever done with anyone ever.
Excerpt – One might expect Keith Alexander to advocate on behalf of the two programs at the center of our national debate about terrorism and surveillance. He is, after all, the head of the National Security Agency, which runs them. “It’s dozens of terrorist events that these have helped prevent—both here and abroad-in disrupting or contributing to the disruption of terrorist attacks,” Alexander testified last week.
And it’s not entirely surprising that the four leading members of Congress on intelligence matters would argue on behalf of these programs, known as “215” and “702,” for the sections of the laws that authorize them.
Excerpt – One of the most common arguments for allowing more immigration is that there is a “need” for foreign workers to do “jobs that Americans won’t do,” especially in agriculture.
One of my most vivid memories of the late Armen Alchian, an internationally renowned economist at UCLA, involved a lunch at which one of the younger members of the economics department got up to go get some more coffee. Being a considerate sort, the young man asked, “Does anyone else need more coffee?”
“Need?” Alchian said loudly, in a cutting tone that clearly conveyed his dismay and disgust at hearing an economist using such a word.
Excerpt – We all know now what the vengeful Obama IRS has been doing to conservative nonprofits the past four years: strangling them in the crib. But do you know how much pampering and largesse far-left welfare-state charities have received while limited-government groups suffered? You don’t know the half of it.
Before President Obama took office, I warned that Democrats planned to steer untold amounts of taxpayer dollars to his shady community-organizing pals. The Dems’ 2008 party platform proposed the creation of a “Social Investment Fund Network” to subsidize “social entrepreneurs and leading nonprofit organizations (that) are assisting schools, lifting families out of poverty, filling health care gaps and inspiring others to lead change in their own communities.”
Excerpt – Grutter v. Bollinger was the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld the University of Michigan Law School’s racial admissions policy. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, writing for the majority, said the U.S. Constitution “does not prohibit the Law School’s narrowly tailored use of race in admissions decisions to further a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body.” But what are the educational benefits of a diverse student body?
Intellectuals argue that diversity is necessary for academic excellence, but what’s the evidence? For example, Japan is a nation bereft of diversity in any activity. Close to 99 percent of its population is of one race. Whose students do you think have higher academic achievement – theirs or ours?
Excerpt – “Why are there no libertarian countries?”
In a much-discussed essay for Salon, Michael Lind asks: “If libertarians are correct in claiming that they understand how best to organize a modern society, how is it that not a single country in the world in the early twenty-first century is organized along libertarian lines?”
Such is the philosophical poverty of liberalism today that this stands as a profound question.
Definitions vary, but broadly speaking, libertarianism is the idea that people should be as free as possible from state coercion so long as they don’t harm anyone.
On the One Hand…
These should not be foreboding years. The U.S. is in the midst of a veritable energy revolution. There is a godsend of new gas and oil discoveries that will help to curtail our fiscal and foreign policy vulnerabilities – an energy bonanza despite, not because of, the present administration.
In terms of farming, the United States is exporting more produce than ever before at record prices. Americans eat the safest and cheapest food on the planet.
As far as high-tech gadgetry, the global companies that have most changed the world in recent years – Amazon’s online buying, Google search engines, Apple iPhones, iPads, and Mac laptops – are mostly American. There is a reason why Mexican nationals are not crossing their border into Guatemala – and it is not because they prefer English speakers to Spanish speakers.
Militarily, the United States is light years ahead of its rivals. And so on…
The New Poverty Is the Old Middle Class
We have redefined poverty itself through government entitlements, modes of mass production and consumerism, and technological breakthroughs. The poor man is not hungry; more likely he suffers from obesity, now endemic among the less affluent. He is not deprived of a big-screen TV, a Kia, warm water, or an air conditioner. (My dad got our first color television during my first year in college in 1972, a small 19 inch portable; I bought my first new car at 39, and quit changing my own oil at 44.)
In classical terms, today’s poor man is poor not in relative global terms (e.g. compared to a Russian, Bolivian, or Yemeni), but in the sense that there are those in America who have more things and choices than does he: a BMW instead of a Hyundai, ribeye instead of ground beef, Pellegrino rather than regular Coke, Tuscany in the summer rather than Anaheim at Disneyland, and L.L. Bean tasteful footwear rather than Payless shoes. I was in Manhattan not long ago, and noticed that my cheap, discount-store sportcoat and Target tie did not raise eyebrows among the wealthy people I spoke to, suggesting that the veneer of aristocracy is now within all our reach. When I returned to Selma, I noted that those ahead of me at Super Wal-Mart were clothed no differently than was I. Their EBD cards bought about the same foods.
Put all the above developments together, and an alignment of the planets is favoring America as never before – as long as we do not do something stupid to nullify what fate, our ancestors, and our own ingenuity have given us. But unfortunately that is precisely what is now happening.
The New Hubris
These are the most foreboding times in my 59 years. The reelection of Barack Obama has released a surge of rare honesty among the Left about its intentions, coupled with a sense of triumphalism that the country is now on board for still greater redistributionist change.
There is no historical appreciation among the new progressive technocracy that central state planning, whether the toxic communist brand or supposedly benevolent socialism, has only left millions of corpses in its wake, or abject poverty and misery. Add up the Soviet Union and Mao’s China and the sum is 80 million murdered or starved to death. Add up North Korea, Cuba, and the former Eastern Europe, and the tally is egalitarian poverty and hopelessness. The EU sacrificed democratic institutions for coerced utopianism and still failed, leaving its Mediterranean shore bankrupt and despondent.
Nor is there much philosophical worry that giving people massive subsidies destroys individualism, the work ethic, and the personal sense of accomplishment. There is rarely worry expressed that a profligate nation that borrows from others abroad and those not born has no moral compass. There is scant political appreciation that the materialist Marxist argument – that justice is found only through making sure that everyone has the same slice of stuff from the zero-sum pie – was supposed to end up on the ash heap of history.
Read the News and Weep
That is not conspiracy talk, but simply a distillation of what I read today. On the last day of the year when I am writing this, I offer you just three sample op-eds.
A journalist, Donald Kaul, in the Des Moines Register offers us a three-step, presto! plan to stop school shootings:
Repeal the Second Amendment, the part about guns anyway. It’s badly written, confusing and more trouble than it’s worth. …Declare the NRA a terrorist organization and make membership illegal. Hey! We did it to the Communist Party, and the NRA has led to the deaths of more of us than American Commies ever did. …Then I would tie Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, our esteemed Republican leaders, to the back of a Chevy pickup truck and drag them around a parking lot until they saw the light on gun control.
Note the new ease with which the liberal mind calls for trashing the Constitution, outlawing those whom they don’t like (reminiscent of “punish our enemies“?), and killing those politicians with whom they don’t agree (we are back to Bush Derangement Syndrome, when novels, movies, and op-eds dreamed of the president’s assassination.)
What would be the Register’s reaction should a conservative opponent of abortion dare write, “Repeal the First Amendment; ban Planned Parenthood as a terrorist organization; and drag Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi from a truck”? If an idiot were to write that trash, I doubt the Washington Times or Wall Street Journal would print such sick calls for overturning the Constitution and committing violence against public officials.
Ah Yes, Still More Redistribution
Turning to a column in The New Republic, John Judis, in honest fashion, more or less puts all the progressive cards on the table in a column titled “Obama’s Tax Hikes Won’t Be Nearly Big Enough” – a candor about what the vast $5 trillion deficits of Obama’s first term were all about in the first place.
Here is the summation quote: “But to fund these programs, governments will have to extract a share of income from those who are able to afford them and use the revenues to make the services available for everyone.”
Note that Judas was not talking about the projected new taxes in the fiscal cliff talks, but something far greater to come. He understands well that the “gorge the beast” philosophy that resulted in these astronomical debts will require enormous new sources of revenue, funds “to extract” from “those who are able to afford them” in order to “make services available for everyone.”
That is about as neat a definition of coerced socialism as one can find. Implicit in Judas’s formulation is that only a very well-educated (and well-compensated) technocratic class will possess the wisdom, the proper schooling, and the morality to adjudicate who are to be the extracted ones and who the new “everyone.”
The Constitution – Who the Hell Needs It?
The third item in my year-end reading was the most disturbing. A law professor (could it be otherwise?) named Louis Michael Seidman enlightens us with “Let’s Give Up on the Constitution” – yet another vision of what the now triumphant liberal mind envisions for us all:
As the nation teeters at the edge of fiscal chaos, observers are reaching the conclusion that the American system of government is broken. But almost no one blames the culprit: our insistence on obedience to the Constitution, with all its archaic, idiosyncratic and downright evil provisions.
Did Madison force Obama to borrow a half-billion dollars to fund Solyndra and its multimillionaire con artists?
Note Seidman’s use of “evil,” which tips his hand that our great moralist is on an ethical crusade to change the lives of lesser folk, who had the misfortune of growing up in America – a place so much less prosperous, fair, and secure than, say, Russia, China, the Middle East, Africa, South America, Spain, Greece, Italy, or Japan and Germany (in the earlier 20th century history). When I lived in Greece, traveled to Libya, and went into Mexico, I forgot to sigh, “My God, these utopias are possible for us too, if we just junked that evil Constitution.”
White Guys Did It
The non-archaic, un-idiosyncratic, and anti-downright evil Professor Seidman presses his argument against his inferiors who wrote the “evil” document: “Instead of arguing about what is to be done, we argue about what James Madison might have wanted done 225 years ago.”
Ah yes, old white male Madison, who lacked the insight, character, and morality of our new liberal technocrats in our successful law schools, such as, well, Mr. Seidman himself:
As someone who has taught constitutional law for almost 40 years, I am ashamed it took me so long to see how bizarre all this is. Imagine that after careful study a government official – say, the president or one of the party leaders in Congress – reaches a considered judgment that a particular course of action is best for the country. Suddenly, someone bursts into the room with new information: a group of white propertied men who have been dead for two centuries, knew nothing of our present situation, acted illegally under existing law and thought it was fine to own slaves might have disagreed with this course of action. Is it even remotely rational that the official should change his or her mind because of this divination?
I suppose human nature changes every decade or so, so why shouldn’t constitutions as well?
I can see Seidman’s vision now: Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi decides that semi-automatic handguns, not cheap Hollywood violence or sick video games, empower the insane to kill, and, presto, their “considered judgment” and favored “particular course of action” trump the archaic and evil wisdom of “white propertied men.” But if we wish to avoid the baleful influence of white guys, can Seidman point to indigenous Aztec texts for liberal guidance, or perhaps the contemporary constitution of liberated Zimbabwe, or the sagacity of the Chinese court system?
The Law Is What We Say It Is
Note the fox-in-the-henhouse notion that a constitutional law professor essentially hates the Constitution he is supposed to teach, sort of like Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg warning the Egyptians not to follow our own constitutional example, when South Africa has offered so much more to humanity than did Madison, Hamilton, Jefferson, and others: “I would not look to the U.S. Constitution, if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012. I might look at the constitution of South Africa.” Ginsburg obviously vacations in Johannesburg, goes to Cape Town for her medical treatment, and has a vacation home and bank account in the scenic South African countryside.
Seidman looks fondly on Roosevelt’s war against the Constitution (especially the notion that law is essentially what an elected president who has proper “aspirations” says it is):
In his Constitution Day speech in 1937, Franklin D. Roosevelt professed devotion to the document, but as a statement of aspirations rather than obligations. This reading no doubt contributed to his willingness to extend federal power beyond anything the framers imagined, and to threaten the Supreme Court when it stood in the way of his New Deal legislation.
Free at Last from Constitutional Chains
In the age of Obama, the constitutional law lecturer who once lamented that the Supreme Court had not gone far enough by failing to take up questions of forced redistribution, Seidman writes:
In the face of this long history of disobedience, it is hard to take seriously the claim by the Constitution’s defenders that we would be reduced to a Hobbesian state of nature if we asserted our freedom from this ancient text. Our sometimes flagrant disregard of the Constitution has not produced chaos or totalitarianism; on the contrary, it has helped us to grow and prosper.
But I thought it was the Constitution, not the anti-Constitution or egalitarian good will, that separated us from Hitler’s Germany, Mussolini’s Italy, Tojo’s Japan, Stalin’s Soviet Union, Mao’s China, and most of the miserable places that one sees abroad today, from Cuba to North Korea, which all had and have one thing in common – the embrace of some sort of national, republican, or democratic “socialism” guiding their efforts and plastered about in their sick mottoes.
The progressive mind, given that is it more enlightened and moral, alone can determine which parts of the “evil” Constitution should be summarily ignored (e.g., the Second Amendment) and which should not be: “This is not to say that we should disobey all constitutional commands. Freedom of speech and religion, equal protection of the laws and protections against governmental deprivation of life, liberty or property are important, whether or not they are in the Constitution. We should continue to follow those requirements out of respect, not obligation.”
Give Real Freedom a Chance
I am sure that history offers all sorts of examples where people without evil documents like our Constitution protected free speech and religious worship – out of “respect.” Ask Socrates, Jesus, six million Jews, 20 million Russians, or those with eyeglasses during the days of the Khmer Rouge. Apparently, what stops such carnage is not the rule of constitutional law, but good progressive minds who care for others and show respect. I’ll try that rhetoric on the next thief who for the fourth time will steal the copper wire conduit from my pump.
So just dream with Professor Seidman:
The deep-seated fear that such disobedience would unravel our social fabric is mere superstition. As we have seen, the country has successfully survived numerous examples of constitutional infidelity… What has preserved our political stability is not a poetic piece of parchment, but entrenched institutions and habits of thought and, most important, the sense that we are one nation and must work out our differences. No one can predict in detail what our system of government would look like if we freed ourselves from the shackles of constitutional obligation, and I harbor no illusions that any of this will happen soon. But even if we can’t kick our constitutional-law addiction, we can soften the habit… before abandoning our heritage of self-government, we ought to try extricating ourselves from constitutional bondage so that we can give real freedom a chance.
I have seen their future and it is almost here right now. Scary times, indeed.
…………………here is a reminder
Just Think No — Maureen Dowd, NYT
. . .Other Republicans are trying to cover up their true identity to get elected. Even as party leaders attempted to lock the crazy uncle in the attic in Missouri, they were doing their own crazy thing down in Tampa, Fla., by reiterating language in their platform calling for a no-exceptions Constitutional amendment outlawing abortion, even in cases of rape, incest and threat to the life of the mother.
Paul Ryan, who teamed up with Akin in the House to sponsor harsh anti-abortion bills, may look young and hip and new generation, with his iPod full of heavy metal jams and his cute kids. But he’s just a fresh face on a Taliban creed — the evermore antediluvian, anti-women, anti-immigrant, anti-gay conservative core. Amiable in khakis and polo shirts, Ryan is the perfect modern leader to rally medieval Republicans who believe that Adam and Eve cavorted with dinosaurs.
Egads, is the Left ever going to stop beating that dead horse? Well, of course they are, they have no ideas, well none that work any way, so, it is fear and smear, race baiting, gender baiting, and so on and so on.
In 1980, when President Reagan asked Americans, “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” it was still possible to campaign on a theme as simple as the job performance of the other guy. But now, 32 years later, the campaign hinges on a much more fundamental split among the voting population.
Romney appeals to voters who are dissatisfied with the last four years. Obama appeals to voters who are dissatisfied with America.
This basic gap was obscured in the 2008 campaign by the window trappings of inspiration. Among all the plastic pillars and stolen quotes from poets who stole them from sermons, it was harder to see that the underlying theme of the campaign was dissatisfaction with America. But in 2012, Obama can no longer run as a reformer or an optimist.
The coalition that he committed to last year is a coalition of those who are unhappy with America, not in the last four years, but in the last two-hundred years. Its core is composed of groups that fear democracy and distrust the will of the people. There is no optimism here, but a deeply rooted pessimism about human nature and the country as a whole. It is the Democratic Party’s coalition against democracy.
After 2010, the numbers were crunched, and it was clear that Obama and the Democrats could not win a mainstream campaign. Instead, they targeted narrow groups, stirred up conflicts over issues aimed at that group, whether it was union pensions, racism or birth control. There was no more pretense of a national election, only a frenzied rush to polarize as many groups as possible and join them together into an acrimonious coalition, not so much for anything, as against Republicans.
There isn’t any inspiration here. Just paranoia over everything from gay marriage to abortion to racial profiling to illegal immigration. A dozen illegal benefits being handed out with the explicit threat that they will be lost if Romney wins. A dozen mini-civil wars being stirred up to divide Americans and set them at each other’s throats for the benefit of the Obama campaign.
From Occupy Wall Street to Wisconsin, from Trayvon Martin to Chick-fil-A, the goal of these manufactured conflicts has been to divide and conquer the electorate by emphasizing group rights over individual economic welfare.
Obama can’t win on the economy. He can’t win on foreign policy. He can’t win on any aspect of his administration. All he can do is stir up violence and then promise to heal the country in his second term while winking to all the representatives of the grievance groups. It’s not a new game, but the Democratic Party has never played it quite this baldly in a national election. And if it succeeds, then national politics will have finally been reduced to the level of a Chicago election.
We were expected to believe that the typical Obama voter in 2008 was hoping for a better country, but in 2012 there is no more hope, only hate and fear. The typical Obama voter is not acting as an American, but as a representative of an entitled group looking to secure and expand those entitlements at the expense and the detriment of the country at large.
To vote for Obama after years of grotesque economic mismanagement that has no precedent in history, that exceeds the worst actions of Andrew Jackson or Ulysses S. Grant, is not the instinct of an American, but a selfish greedy looter scrambling to grab a few dinner rolls off the tray while the ship is going down. There is no policy justification for voting for a man with the worst economic and foreign policy record in the country’s history. There is no American justification for voting for him. Only the UnAmerican motivation of carving up a dying country into group fiefdoms privileging identity politics over the common good.
This is an UnAmerican campaign. It is an Anti-American campaign. It is a campaign by those who hate and fear what America was and who resent having to care about anyone outside their own group. Its group jingoism, its dog whistles and special privileges are repulsive and cynical, treating the people of a great nation like a warren of rats eager to sell each other out for a prize from the Cracker Jack box of identity politics entitlements.
There is not a single Obama voter anywhere in the land who believes that another four years of him will make this country better. Not a single one from coast to coast. No, what they believe is that he will make the country a worse place for those people that they hate. That he will have four more years to sink their ideas deeper in the earth, regardless of how many families go hungry and how many fathers kill themselves because they can no longer take care of their families. What they believe is that Obama will grant their group more special privileges and the rest of the country can go to hell.
In his DNC keynote address in 2004, Obama said, “There is no Black America or White America or Latino America or Asian America, there is just the United States of America.” And now he has completely disavowed it. He isn’t campaigning to lead the United States of America, instead he is running for the presidency of a dozen little Americas, Trayvon Martin America, Abortion America, Illegal Alien America, Sharia America, Gay Marriage America, Starbucks America and any others you can think of. And if he can collect enough of these little Americas together, then he may get the privilege of running the United States of America into the ground for another four years.
Obama has never been the President of the United States of America. He has been the president of Washington, D.C., of Wall Street and of Solyndra. He has been the President of Green America and of Chicago. He has been the President of Warren Buffett, George Soros, Bill Gates, Penny Pritzker and James Crown. He is the President of George Clooney, Harvey Weinstein and Anne Hathaway. And now, facing disaster, he still isn’t running to be President of a country, but of a dozen little countries with money from freshly bailed out Green America and Wall Street, not to mention Hollywood.
The Obama campaign is not accidentally divisive. It did not stumble into divisiveness. It is not even divisive as a byproduct of its real aims. Divisiveness is its aim. Divisiveness is the only way that a divisive administration can hold on to power. The anger and the violence are not an accident, they are the whole point. Set one group against another, feed the hate, massage the grievances and very soon there is no longer a nation but a handful of quarreling groups being roped into a mutual alliance to reelect their lord protector whose appeal is that of the outsider becoming the insider.
Bain is a metaphor whose details don’t truly matter. The target audience for that swill doesn’t really care where Romney was when a steel plant was shut down. It doesn’t care that like so many private equity bigwigs, the man who actually was in charge is one of Obama’s bundlers. This isn’t about truth, it’s about menace. The Bain message is that Romney is a man who takes things away. That is the image that the UnAmerican alliance is meant to take away. The ominous sense that Obama’s era of giving them things is about to come to a close and Romney’s era of taking away things will begin.
It doesn’t take much prompting for the UnAmericans to come to this conclusion. Thieves are always looking over their shoulders. They always expect to have their ill-gotten gains taken away from them. And that is Obama’s true achievement. Like Tammany Hall, he has corrupted a massive section of the population and made it complicit in his criminality. What the old political machines did to cities or small groups of vested interests, the Zero has done to tens of millions, if not a hundred million people, who want him in power not because they think he’s the best man for the job, but because he’s their crook. The middle man for a crime ring that begins with him and ends with them.
The true insidious evil of the man is that he is the face of a machine of power and privilege that turns Americans into UnAmericans, that corrupts and degrades every ideal and principle, suborns every office and picks every pocket, while wrapping that thievery in the flag and every bit of history that it can filch. The Hussein Way is the clearest expression of the rot at the heart of the Democratic Party, the marriage of leftist agitation and powermongering with the old urban political machines for a level of abuse usually seen only in banana republics.
The abomination in Washington is a welfare-state technocracy that mixes crony capitalism with radical social policy. It steals from everyone and gives back to some. It plays the game of divide and conquer with the panache of marketing executives knowing that the worse the economy is, the more likely everyone is to look in everyone else’s mouth. Its worst aspect is its insistence on cloaking its cynicism as righteousness, wrapping every ugly means in the glorious flag of the ends when the truth is that its means are its ends.
Divide and conquer isn’t just a means to the greater end of giving Zero Hussein another four years. And perhaps another four years after that. It’s also the end. Every tyrant from Joseph Stalin to Saddam Hussein knew that a divided people are easier to rule. The more you divide them, the less likely they are to give you any trouble when you’re raiding their last pennies to pay for the latest Green gimmick that your billionaire backers have thrown up all over Wall Street.
Obama is the ultimate Post-American figure passing himself off as the embodiment of all that is truly American. But the UnAmericans got the real message in 2008 and in 2012 there is no other message. There is no more hope and faith, and the ones who have been waiting for are the UnAmericans who think that they are about to come into their own, when they are little more than pawns being used to rob and destroy a great nation.
This is the Post-American, Anti-American and UnAmerican campaign to divide up, carve up and toss aside the laws and traditions of the United States and replace them with the power of arrogance. It is the last stand of a beleaguered nation facing barbarians inside its gate. Every previous election was a contest between two American candidates who wanted to preside over the United States.
This is an election contest between the United States and an emerging Post-American order. That entity will be an American EU run by unelected bureaucrats, governed by politically correct technocrats and upheld by corrupt financial pirates disguising the collective bankruptcy with numbers games so elaborate that they make every billion-dollar con game and pyramid scheme that has come before seem as simple as child’s play.
The entity is already here. Its czars are running things in D.C., and its judges are dismantling both constitutional government and democratic elections. It creates a crisis and then makes sure that it doesn’t go to waste. It has excellent design skills and terrible planning skills. It has all the money in the world and none at all. It is the Post-American America, and 2012 is its big referendum. The one that will decide whether this Post-American America, this horrid graft of E.U. governance and Mussolini economics, Soviet propaganda and FDR volunteerism, Tammany populist criminality and U.N. foreign policy will be permitted to devour the United States of America.
Obama cannot win an American election. But he isn’t running in an American election. He’s running in a Post-American election.
If the C.I.A. had been forced to refrain from utilizing the enhanced interrogation techniques that Barack Obama and the entire Democrat party leadership fought tooth-and-nail to get rid of, Osama Bin Laden would still be alive today. The information acquired from the terrorists upon whom those techniques were employed was integral in finding Bin Laden, as well as other Al-Qaeda leaders. This is no big secret, it’s a well-known fact, yet Obama is more than happy to let you continue to delude yourselves into thinking that his war policies had something to do with Osama’s death. They didn’t, and every Democrat politician from D.C. to Dallas knows it.
Beyond that, your leftist leaders and their minions in the Jurassic media would have you believe that Obama’s decision to allow our special forces personnel to kill Bin Laden, once they discovered his whereabouts, was somehow a “gutsy call”, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Obama had NO ALTERNATIVE but to make the call he did. If you don’t think so, just imagine what would have happened to his re-election chances if the American people found out that he’d had an opportunity to authorize the death of the most wanted terrorist in history and refused to do it! The Republicans could run a stale potato chip against him in November and win in a landslide. You all know that’s true, just as you know that Mitt Romney would have made the exact same call for the exact same reason. Only a suicidally stupid politician wouldn’t have done so.
So let’s recap…
1.) Bin Laden was hunted down and killed in spite of Obama’s policies, not because of them.
2.) Obama made the only call possible under the circumstances, just like any other president would have.
3.) You’re all a bunch of idiots.
The recent litany of Obama’s odiousness begins with his growing, unambiguous war against traditional Christianity. He has now left no room for any pretense otherwise to be believed. Right on the heels of a unanimous Supreme Court, including his own two appointees, smacking down his administration’s attempt to kill the “ministerial exemption” for employment practices of faith-based institutions, an unchastened Obama has decided that even faith-based organizations must provide insurance that covers contraception — even including abortifacients.
This is not just a narrow policy disagreement; it is, as Bishop David A. Zubik of Pittsburgh wrote, the president’s way of saying “To Hell With You” to people of faith — “To hell with your religious beliefs. To hell with your religious liberty. To hell with your freedom of conscience.” Zubik continued: “This is government by fiat that attacks the rights of everyone — not only Catholics; not only people of all religion. At no other time in memory or history has there been such a governmental intrusion on freedom not only with regard to religion, but evenacross-the-board with all citizens.”
Obama’s broadsides, plural, against religious liberty are only a part of his radical transgressions against the U.S. Constitution. Conservatives are rightly up in arms about Obama’s illegal recess appointments. Obamacare, of course, contains several anti-Constitutional abominations, including the “individual mandate” and the Independent Payment Advisory Board. Meanwhile, his administration is flagrantly violating precedent by trying to force explicit hiring quotas on the Fire Department of New York, in a case in which a key amicus brief was filed on January 24 at the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
Go read it all, Hillyer raises some excellent points, and reminds us that this next election is crucial if we ever hope to salvage our Republic. Obama’s promises of “fundamental change” were not rhetoric, it is, and frankly has been terribly apparent that he wishes to leave America completely unrecognizable from the principles that founded it.
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The Solyndra debacle is not just Obama-style crony socialism as usual. It is a criminal fraud. That is the theory that would be guiding any competent prosecutor’s office in the investigation of a scheme that cost victims – in this case, American taxpayers – a fortune.
Fraud against the United States is one of the most serious felony offenses in the federal penal law. It is even more serious than another apparent Solyndra violation that has captured congressional attention: the Obama administration’s flouting of a statute designed to protect taxpayers.
Homing in on one of the several shocking aspects of the Solyndra scandal, lawmakers noted that, a few months before the “clean energy” enterprise went belly-up last week, the Obama Energy Department signed off on a sweetheart deal. In the event of bankruptcy – the destination to which it was screamingly obvious Solyndra was headed despite the president’s injection of $535 million in federal loans – the cozily connected private investors would be given priority over American taxpayers. In other words, when the busted company’s assets were sold off, Obama pals would recoup some of their losses, while you would be left holding the half-billion-dollar bag.
As Andrew Stiles reported here at NRO, Republicans on the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee say this arrangement ran afoul of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. This law – compassionate conservatism in green bunting – is a monstrosity, under which Leviathan, which can’t run a post office, uses your money to pick winners and losers in the economy’s energy sector. The idea is cockamamie, but Congress did at least write in a mandate that taxpayers who fund these “investments” must be prioritized over other stakeholders. The idea is to prevent cronies from pushing ahead of the public if things go awry – as they are wont to do when pols fancy themselves venture capitalists.
On the Energy Policy Act, the administration’s malfeasance is significant, but secondary. That’s because the act is not a penal statute. It tells the cabinet officials how to structure these “innovative technology” loans, but it provides no remedy if Congress’s directives are ignored.
The criminal law, by contrast, is not content to assume the good faith of government officials. It targets anyone – from low-level swindlers to top elective officeholders – who attempts to influence the issuance of government loans by making false statements; who engages in schemes to defraud the United States; or who conspires “to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof, in any manner or for any purpose.” The penalties are steep: Fraud in connection with government loans, for example, can be punished by up to 30 years in the slammer.
Although Solyndra was a private company, moreover, it was using its government loans as a springboard to go public. When the sale of securities is involved, federal law criminalizes fraudulent schemes, false statements of material fact, and statements that omit any “material fact necessary in order to make the statements made… not misleading.” And we’re not just talking about statements made in required SEC filings. Any statement made to deceive the market can be actionable. In 2003, for example, the Justice Department famously charged Martha Stewart with securities fraud. Among other allegations, prosecutors cited public statements she had made in press releases and at a conference for securities analysts – statements in which she withheld damaging information in an effort to inflate the value of her corporation and its stock.
That’s exactly what President Obama did on May 26, 2010, with his Solyndra friends about to launch their initial public offering of stock. The solar-panel company’s California factory was selected as the fitting site for a presidential speech on the virtues of confiscating taxpayer billions to prop up pie-in-the-sky clean-energy businesses.
By then, the con game was already well under way. Solyndra had first tried to get Energy Act funding during the Bush administration, but had been rebuffed shortly before President Bush left office. Small wonder: Solyndra, as former hedge-fund manager Bruce Krasting concluded, was “an absolute complete disaster.” Its operating expenses, including supply costs, nearly doubled its revenue in 2009 – and that’s without factoring in capital expenditures and other costs in what, Krasting observes, is a “low margin” industry. The chance that Solyndra would ever become profitable was essentially nonexistent, particularly given that solar-panel competitors backed by China produce energy at drastically lower prices.
Yet, as Stiles reports, within six days of Obama’s taking office, an Energy Department official acknowledged that the Solyndra “approval process” was suddenly being considered anew. Eventually, the administration made Solyndra the very first recipient of a public loan guarantee when the Energy Act program was beefed up in 2009 – just part of nearly a trillion dollars burned through under the Obama stimulus.
For a while after Solyndra tanked, the administration stonewalled the House subcommittee’s investigation, but we now know that minions in the Energy Department and the Office of Management and Budget had enormous qualms about the Solyndra loan. They realized that the company was hemorrhaging money and, even with the loan, would lack the necessary working capital to turn that equation around. Yet they caved under White House pressure to sign off in time for Vice President Joe Biden to make a ballyhooed announcement of the loan in September 2009. An OMB e-mail laments that the timing of the loan approval was driven by the politics of the announcement “rather than the other way around.”
Why so much pressure to give half a billion dollars to a doomed venture? The administration insists it had nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that Solyndra’s big backers include the George Kaiser Family Foundation. No, of course not. George Kaiser, an Oklahoma oil magnate, just happens to be a major Obama fundraiser who bundled oodles in contributions for the president’s 2008 campaign. Solyndra officers and investors are said to have visited the White House no fewer than 20 times while the loan guarantee was being considered and, later, revised. Kaiser, too, made several visits – but not to worry: Both he and administration officials deny any impropriety. You’re to believe that the White House was just turning up the heat on OMB and DOE because Solyndra seemed like such a swell investment.
Except it didn’t seem so swell to people who knew how to add and subtract, and those people weren’t all at OMB and DOE. Flush with confidence that their mega-loan from Uncle Sam would make the company attractive to private investors, Solyndra’s backers prepared to take the company public. Unfortunately, SEC rules for an initial public offering of stock require the disclosure of more than Obama speeches glowing with solar power. Companies that want access to the market have to reveal their financial condition.
In Solyndra’s case, outside auditors from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) found that condition to be dire. “The company has suffered recurring losses from operations, negative cash flows since inception, and has a net stockholders’ deficit,” the PWC accountants concluded. Even with the gigantic Obama loan, Solyndra was such a basket case that PWC found “substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern.”
The “going concern” language is not boilerplate. As Townhall finance maven John Ransom explains, it is a term of art to which auditors resort when there is an extraordinary need to protect themselves and the company from legal liability. Angry investors who’ve lost their shirts tend to scapegoat the loser company’s accountants. In truth, even if the accountants affixed a neon “going concern” sign to the company’s financial statements, investors would have no one but themselves to blame. But it is unusual: The language is absent from the statements of many companies that actually end up going bankrupt. Auditors reserve it for the hopeless causes – like Solyndra.
With no alternative if they wanted to make a play for market financing, Solyndra’s backers disclosed the auditors’ bleak diagnosis in March 2010. The government had thus been aware of it for two months when President Obama made his May 26 Solyndra speech – the speech Solyndra backers were clearly hoping would mitigate the damage.
As president, Obama had a fiduciary responsibility to be forthright about Solyndra’s grim prospects – in speaking to the American taxpayers whose money he had redistributed, and to the American investors who were about to be solicited for even more funding. Instead, he pulled a Martha Stewart.
The president looked us in the eye and averred that, when it came to channeling public funds into private hands, “We can see the positive impacts right here at Solyndra.” He bragged that the $535 billion loan had enabled the company to build the state-of-the-art factory in which he was then speaking. He said nothing about how Solyndra was continuing to lose money – public money – at a catastrophic pace. Instead, he painted the brightest of pictures: 3,000 construction workers to build the thriving plant; manufacturers in 22 states building an endless stream of supplies; technicians in a dozen states constructing the advanced equipment that would make the factory hum; and Solyndra fully “expect[ing] to hire a thousand workers to manufacture solar panels and sell them across America and around the world.”
Not content with that rosy portrait, the president further predicted a “ripple effect”: Solyndra would “generate business for companies throughout our country who will create jobs supplying this factory with parts and materials.” Sure it would. The auditors had scrutinized Solyndra and found it to have, from its inception, a fatally flawed business model that was hurtling toward collapse. Obama touted it as a redistribution success story that would be rippling jobs, growth, and spectacular success for the foreseeable future.
It was a breathtaking misrepresentation. Happily, it proved insufficient to dupe investors who, unlike taxpayers, get to choose where their money goes. They stacked what the administration was saying against what the PWC auditors were saying and wisely went with PWC. Solyndra had to pull its initial public offering due to lack of interest.
But fraud doesn’t have to be fully successful to be a fraud, and this one still had another chapter to go. As the IPO failed and the company inevitably sank in a sea of red ink, Solyndra’s panicked backers pleaded with the administration to restructure the loan terms – to insulate them from their poor business judgment, allowing them to recoup some of their investment while the public took the fall.
It should go without saying that the duty of soi-disant public servants is to serve the public. In this instance, the proper course was clear. As structured, the loan gave the public first dibs on Solyndra’s assets if it collapsed, and, as we’ve seen, the law requires it. There was no good reason to contemplate a change.
In addition, as Andrew Stiles relates, OMB had figured out that there was no economic sense in restructuring: Solyndra was heading for bankruptcy anyway, and an immediate liquidation would net the government a better deal – about $170 million better. The case for leaving things where they stood was so palpable that OMB openly feared “questions will be asked” if DOE proceeded with an unjustifiable restructuring. So, with numbing predictability, the Obama administration proceeded with an unjustifiable restructuring. In exchange for lending some of their own money and thus buying more time, Solyndra officials were given priority over taxpayers with respect to the first $75 million in the event of a bankruptcy – the event all the insiders and government officials could see coming from the start, and that hit the rest of us like a $535 billion thunderbolt last week.
The administration’s rationalization is priceless. According to DOE officials, the restructuring was necessary “to create a situation whereby investors felt there was a value in their investment.” Of course, the value in an investment is the value created by the business in which the investment is made. Here, Solyndra had no value. Investors could be enticed only by an invalid arrangement to recoup some of their losses – by a scheme to make the public an even bigger sap.
The word for such schemes is fraud.
The president has taken to the campaign trail to promote his “American Jobs Act.” That’s a good name for it: an act. “Pass this bill now!” he declared 24 times at a stop in Raleigh, N.C., and another 18 in Columbus, Ohio, and the act is sufficiently effective that, three years into the Vapidity of Hope, the president can still find crowds of true believers willing to chant along with him: “Pass this bill now!”
Not all supporters are content merely to singalong with the prompter-in-chief. In North Carolina, a still-devoted hopeychanger cried out, “I love you!”
“I love you, too,” said the president. “But…”
Liberals are on their high horses about a single audience member at CNN’s Republican debate whom they believe wanted a hypothetical man without health insurance in a hypothetical coma to die – hypothetically.
(Democrats want people in comas to die only when they are not hypothetical but real, like Terri Schiavo.)
I concur with the audience member who shouted “Yes!” This has nothing to do with any actual people in comas – the people Democrats want to kill – it’s just a big “screw you” to the moderator.
For generations, Democrats longed for a president who could enact national health care. Barack Obama did it.
For years, Democrats longed for a president who could massively increase federal spending, impose broad new regulations and fight for higher taxes. Barack Obama did it.
For much of the past decade, Democrats longed for a president who could pull American forces out of Iraq and redirect U.S. security policy toward al Qaeda. Barack Obama did it – and killed Osama bin Laden, to boot.
Obama did all that, and more. And now many Democrats are afraid to be seen with him. Some gratitude.
Ninety years ago – in 1921 – federal income-tax policies reached an absurdity that many people today seem to want to repeat. Those who believe in high taxes on “the rich” got their way. The tax rate on people in the top income bracket was 73 percent in 1921. On the other hand, the rich also got their way: They didn’t actually pay those taxes.
The number of people with taxable incomes of $300,000 a year or more – equivalent to far more than $1 million in today’s money – declined from over 1,000 people in 1916 to fewer than 300 in 1921. Were the rich all going broke?
It might look that way. More than four-fifths of the total taxable income earned by people making $300,000 a year up and vanished into thin air.
Ex-president George W. Bush with accustomed candor once shrugged after the end of his eight-year presidency, “People were kind of tired of me.” That ennui happens eventually with most presidents. But in the case of Barack Obama, our modern Phaethon, his fiery crash is coming after 32, not 96, months.
We can sense the national weariness with Obama in a variety of strange and unexpected ways. There is the self-pitying anguish of liberal columnists who scapegoat him for turning the public against their own leftwing agenda. The current silence of “moderate” Republicans and conservative op-ed writers who once in near ecstasy jumped ship to join Obama is deafening. A growing number of Democratic representatives and senators up for reelection do not want their partisan president to visit their districts in the runup to November 2012. Approval ratings hover around 40 percent.
As part of his warmed-over jobs plan, President Obama is repackaging “Buy American” stimulus subsidies to help hard-hit homegrown businesses. At the same time, however, Congress is pushing to expand a fraud-riddled investor program that puts U.S. citizenship for sale to the highest foreign business bidders.
Call it the Buy America Cash-for-Visas plan.
As I first reported 10 years ago, the EB-5 immigrant investor program was created under an obscure section of the 1990 Immigration Act. The law allows 10,000 wealthy foreigners a year to purchase green cards by investing between $500,000 and $1 million in new commercial enterprises or troubled businesses.
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Aleister thinks that Gay activists overreached when they tried to bring their agenda to Sesame Street
I support gay marriage but I think gay marriage activists overreached and damaged their cause with the campaign to have Sesame Street’s Ernie and Bert get married.
As a member of Generation X, I grew up with Ernie and Bert and always viewed them more as a comedy team than anything else. Gay marriage activists went too far by insisting they’re a gay couple who should be married.
Even the liberal Sesame Workshop, formerly known as the Children’s Television Workshop wasn’t into the idea…
Sesame Workshop, which produces the long-running children’s series, seemed to be throwing water on any marital plans.
“Bert and Ernie are good friends,” the company declared in a statement. “They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves.”
Isn’t that last part the point? If you’re to the left of a show on PBS, shouldn’t you rethink your position?
If it is true that the point of Ernie and Bert is to teach children that “people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves.” Then the need to portray them as a gay couple is as useful as remembering Oscar Wilde as a boob man.
The main concern should be the target audience. When I was 6 years old, I loved Ernie and Bert, not because of their politics or their sex. I just thought they were funny and frankly, isn’t that all a 6 year old should care about?
Absolutely! This is the only problem I see with Gay marriage. I believe that most Gay people who want to marry are sincere, and are NOT looking to force anything on anybody. They are, indeed like most people. Let them live their lives and leave them alone and they are just fine.
Then, there are the “activists”. Sometimes, I think activist is becoming as ugly a title as politician is. I wonder if the activists, in this case Gay activists, even really care about progress, or making things better, or righting wrongs. I am starting to think that to the activist, their activism is all about them, and their over-inflated egos. They want things a certain way, because they know best, and by God, unless they are an Atheist activist of course, they are going to shove their agenda down our throats. Which is why I tend to have a distaste for the control freaks posing as caring activists. Whether they are trying to re-define marriage, or force their prohibitionist nonsense on everyone else, or trying to ban smoking in restaurants, or trying to police what I watch on TV, I have no use for them.
Such over the top behavior, and isn’t trying to screw up Sesame Street for kids screwed up, is despicable frankly, and such antics are why I am becoming more and more wary of and turned off by, any “activist”, even if they support something I support.
Frank Slavato sums it up nicely
The Obama Administration, Congressional Progressives and Democrats, and the mainstream media have done a fantastic job of controlling the narrative in the debt ceiling/budget debate. They have hammered home, in an almost Goebbels-esque manner, the false notion that Republicans have not “compromised on their partisan ideals”; that the GOP is, to use their talking point, “intransigent.” This is nothing short of exactly the opposite from the truth.
The fact of the matter is that House Speaker John Boehner, and a majority of the House and Senate Republican contingents, have compromised, and have done so on a major issue: raising the debt ceiling.
Go read it all
For once my sympathy is all with the whalers…
And how are you feeling today, all you Greenies, after your most embarrassing week (well, one of the most embarrassing: the competition, it must be said, has been pretty stiff these last 18 months) since Climategate?
Just in case your only information sources are RealClimate or Guardian Environment let me explain, briefly, what has been happening out here on Planet Reality. In a nutshell, you’ve been caught with your trousers down yet again, viz:
An official IPCC report bigging up renewable energy as the power source of the future turns out to have been lead-authored by an activist from Greenpeace and based not on solid science but a wish-fulfilment fantasy scenario devised by, you guessed it, Greenpeace.
Here’s how the press release of the IPCC’s Summary For Policymakers reported its findings:
Close to 80 percent of the world‘s energy supply could be met by renewables by mid-century if backed by the right enabling public policies a new report shows.
This was uncritically reported by its amen corner in the MSM, led of course by the BBC’s Richard Black and the Guardian. But others more diligent smelt a rat – among them the mighty Steve McIntyre whose magisterially contemptuous blogpost on the subject has been keeping climate sceptics such as Bishop Hill, WUWT, Rex Murphy, Ronald Bailey and Mark Lynas busy all week.
Mark Lynas? Not the same eco activist Mark Lynas who once threw a custard pie in Bjorn Lomborg’s face and was responsible for advising the Maldives cabinet to pose for that nauseatingly disingenuous publicity shot where they’re all under water (because, like, the Maldives are being drowned due to global warming: except, of course they’re not)? Yep, that one. But on this occasion, at least, even as committed an eco zealot as he has been forced to concede that IPCC has done its reputation as the “gold standard” (copyright: B Obama) of international climate science few favours:
The IPCC must urgently review its policies for hiring lead authors – and I would have thought that not only should biased ‘grey literature’ be rejected, but campaigners from NGOs should not be allowed to join the lead author group and thereby review their own work. There is even a commercial conflict of interest here given that the renewables industry stands to be the main beneficiary of any change in government policies based on the IPCC report’s conclusions. Had it been an oil industry intervention which led the IPCC to a particular conclusion, Greenpeace et al would have course have been screaming blue murder.
Additionally, the Greenpeace/renewables industry report is so flawed that it should not have been considered by the IPCC at all. Whilst the journal-published version looks like proper science, the propaganda version on the Greenpeace website has all the hallmarks of a piece of work which started with some conclusions and then set about justifying them. There is a whole section dedicated to ‘dirty, dangerous nuclear power’, and the scenario includes a complete phase-out of new nuclear globally, with no stations built after 2008.
It is a good point well made. Putting a guy from Greenpeace in charge of writing the supposedly neutral, scientifically-based report on which governments are going to base their energy policy is like putting Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in charge of a report entitled Whither Israel? It is, in fact, yet another scandal of Climategate proportions. But you’d be amazed how many people there are out there who still don’t quite see the broader significance of this.
Here, for example, is the characteristically wet response from the Economist’s Babbage:
The release of the full text of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on Renewable Energy this week has led to a new set of questions about the panel’s attitudes, probity and reliability: is it simply a sounding board for green activists? The answer is no—but that doesn’t mean it’s without serious problems.
Er, no, actually, Babbage. The answer is “yes.” Since its very foundation, the IPCC has been a sounding board for green activists. That is indeed its purpose. It has no remit to investigate whether or not climate change is significantly man-made and whether this constitutes a threat serious enough to handicap the global economy with massive tax and regulation because it takes all those as givens: as far as the IPCC’s concerned, the debate is over and the time to act is now. (Which, funnily enough, is exactly what green activists think). This was the point of McKitrick and McIntyre’s brilliant demolition of the Hockey Stick; the point of Climategate; the point of Amazongate, Glaciergate, Africagate et al; the point of Donna Laframboise’s superb research showing how much “grey literature” (ie activist propaganda with no solid scientific basis) from activist groups like WWF and Greenpeace has informed the IPCC’s supposedly state-of-the-art assessment reports.
The Man Made Global Warming industry is a crock, a scam on an epic scale, fed by the world’s biggest outbreak of mass hysteria, stoked by politicians dying for an excuse to impose more tax and regulation on us while being seen to “care” about an issue of pressing urgency, fuelled by the shrill lies and tear-jerking propaganda of activists possessed of no understanding of the real world other than a chippy instinctive hatred of capitalism, given a veneer of scientific respectability by post-normal scientists who believe their job is to behave like politicians rather than dispassionate seekers-after-truth, cheered on by rent-seeking businesses, financed by the EU, the UN and the charitable foundations of the guilt-ridden rich, and promoted at every turn by schoolteachers, college lecturers, organic muesli packets, Walkers crisps, the BBC, CNBC, Al Gore, the Prince Of Wales, David Suzuki, the British Antarctic Survey, Barack Obama, David Cameron and Knut – the late, dyslexic-challenging, baby polar bear, formerly of Berlin Zoo.
And you really don’t need to be a contrarian or an out-there conspiracy theorist or a hard-core libertarian or a rampant free-market capitalist or a dyed in the wool conservative to think this way any more. This is reality. This is how it is. This is where all the overwhelming evidence points. So what kind of a bizarro, warped, intellectually challenged, cognitively dissonant, eco-fascistic nutcase would you have to be to think otherwise?
Look, I’m sorry to be blunt all you Greenies (you know how normally polite and respectful I am to you and your cause) but don’t you think the charade has gone on long enough? Do you not think, maybe, that given that the IPCC is the basis of all your so-called “science” on climate change, and given that the IPCC has been proven dozens of times now to have been hijacked by activists with about as much of a handle on objective reality as Syd Barrett locked in a cupboard during a particularly bad acid trip, it mightn’t be time finally to do the decent thing?
Either come over to the side of reality, truth and climate scepticism (as your Lynas has sort of done) and admit you’re wrong. Or gather together in your last redoubt with your Hansens and your Gores and your Porritts and all the other die hards and do the only other honorable thing: show the courage of your convictions by staging a Climate Masada.
From the Politico:
Medicare mistakenly pays for Viagra
By Brett Coughlin
March 14, 2011
It is against the law for Medicare to pay for prescriptions to Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs, but the government health program paid claims worth $3.1 million for those drugs, the HHS Office of Inspector General has found.
The claims were paid in 2007 and 2008. The problem stems from a mistake in editing software that was supposed to block Part D coverage for the drugs, the HHS OIG reported.
And these people getting Viagra weren’t even in a Milwaukee teachers union. Oh, well, if it was just a computer glitch – then that is okay.
The OIG has recommended that CMS recoup payment for the drugs and “strengthen internal controls to help ensure that drugs covered by Medicare Part D comply with federal requirements.” This can be accomplished by maintaining an up-to-date list of all ED drugs, making sure that Part D plans have that list and periodically updating the software employed to deny payment for those drugs.
You see, the bureaucrats (at whatever the CMS is) did not know that Viagra was an ‘Erectile Dysfunction’ drug because they didn’t have an up-to-date list. Viagra being such an obscure brand.
Notice, too, that it is just a recommendation that the CMS “recoup payment.” They aren’t going to get tough about it. After all, it’s just taxpayer money. It’s not real.
Congress nixed Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement for Viagra, manufactured by Pfizer, in a Hurricane Katrina relief bill approved in 2005. The law was a response to news that the New York Medicaid program was paying for prison inmates to take the drug.
This is government oversight? They only find out about such things because of news reports – probably from a tabloid?
The same law, however, allowed Pfizer to sell a nearly identical drug – Revatio – to Medicare patients who suffer from vascular degeneration, but at a much higher price…
So those in the know will still get their ‘Viagra,’ but just at a much higher cost to the taxpayer. How perfectly typical.
And what a nice preview of life under Obama-care, when these stories will be multiplied by ten thousand.
Total payments for Part D claims were $133 billion in 2007 and 2008.
Which, of course, is the real scandal here.
By the way, when the ‘Medicare Part D’ bill was up for passage back in 2003 we were told it would (only) cost $395 for ten years. Or less than $40 billion a year.
My how time flies.
Friday’s tremendous earthquake off Japan’s coast has triggered the normal responses. The American media is busily hyperventilating over what it claims to be the greatest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, the Japanese have mounted a highly-organized disaster relief program, and the U.S. military is on the scene providing the rapid, massive relief that is literally beyond the capability of any other entity on earth.
Ronald Reagan is providing a massive amount of help. No, it’s not the Gipper himself, but the nuclear carrier USS Ronald Reagan and a host of other Navy ships, about which more in a moment.
The enormity of the quake is measured on the Richter scale. The January 1994 Los Angeles quake – which collapsed highways, toppled buildings, and took about 33 lives – was measured at 6.7 on that 1-10 scale. The latest information from the Japanese meteorological agency’s re-measurement of the quake rated it at 9.0, the largest ever measured in Japan.
Remember that the Richter scale is logarithmic: each number represents ten times the next lowest number. So the Japanese quake was more than 100 times stronger than the L.A. quake.
Yesterday, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said it was the nation’s worst crisis since World War II. The media is making it sound as if it’s enough of a nuclear crisis to rouse Godzilla.
Our media has never understood why Japan – the only nation to suffer the use of nuclear weapons – would allow nuclear power plants to be built. The 1954 movie monster Godzilla was created by the effects of nuclear testing and was a metaphor for the dangers of all things nuclear, reflecting post-war Japan’s recent memories and fears. So the media’s Godzilla narrative, developed over decades of opposition to U.S. nuclear power, requires the belief that nuclear power is more dangerous than any other.
That narrative again took flight almost immediately after the Japanese quake. CNN’s Piers Morgan (who?) headlined his commentary as a “countdown to meltdown.” By Sunday, two New York Times reporters wrote, under the headline “Partial Meltdowns Presumed at Crippled Reactors,” that “Japanese officials struggled on Sunday to contain a quickly escalating nuclear crisis in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake and tsunami, saying they presumed that partial meltdowns had occurred at two crippled reactors, and that they were bracing for a second explosion, even as they appeared to face cooling problems at two more plants and international nuclear experts said radiation had leaked from a fourth.”
Buried deep in that and other reports is the disturbing fact – disturbing to the nuclear Chicken Littles – that there is little if any radiation leakage reported.
Nearly every report presumes that the Godzilla narrative will result in the continuation of America’s three-decades-long moratorium on new nuclear power plants.
The fact that the narrative is nonsensical is demonstrated by events from the 1979 Three Mile Island mishap in Pennsylvania to last week’s in Japan and the six decades of U.S. Navy experience.
A “meltdown” occurs when an out-of-control reactor’s core reaches such a high temperature that the core materials melt. If the “lava” burns through the reactor’s multiple layers of containment and flows into nearby land and water, the release of radiation could be lethal to those immediately exposed, could result in long-term increases of cancer, and could contaminate massive areas of land and water for decades.
The partial meltdown at Three Mile Island was contained. The core did not melt through to contaminate the region and very little radiation was released. TMI, unlike Chernobyl, wasn’t a cheesy reactor run by morons. (Japanese reports indicate that though two partial meltdowns have happened, they have been well-contained. The reality may prove to be worse – or better – than news reports now say.)
What is fascinating about the Japanese mini-meltdowns is not that they were contained. The fascination comes from the fact that even in this massive quake – the largest ever recorded in earthquake-prone Japan – so little actually happened. Every expectation should drive the conclusion that this once in a century event would have totally destroyed nuclear power plants in the path of the quake and resulting tsunami. But they didn’t.
If you believe the hot air-powered anti-nuke media, there should have been complete meltdowns at all the affected power plants and millions should be dying of radiation poisoning, even more facing a future of death by cancer and mutant babies that resemble Dennis Kucinich. But – from what we know now – nothing like that is happening.
The Japanese government has shown decisiveness in dealing with the crisis in ways the Soviet government did not. They have flooded the endangered reactors with boric acid mixed with seawater, destroying the cores. By doing so, the Japanese have sacrificed billions in equipment to save lives. Those reactors have been shut down and will never operate again.
The lesson should be that if you don’t build a badly-designed reactor and hire idiots to run it – à la Chernobyl – a nuclear power plant can be as safe as any power plant can be.
If we learn anything from the Japanese disaster it is that we should push forward with nuclear power – applying the lessons the Japanese learn with our own best engineering and science – at the fastest pace possible. Which is a lot faster than the liberals will want to allow despite the facts. Our record on nuclear power – including TMI, in which (according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission) no one in the facility or surrounding community was injured – is excellent.
We should remember that the U.S. Navy has had nuclear-powered ships since 1953. In the 58 years since, there have been no accidents or man-made mishaps. None. Which is a good thing for the Japanese because one of those ships is providing massive relief that nothing else can.
A huge area of Japan is in desperate need of help. This earthquake has disrupted the supply of fresh water, electricity, communications and destroyed airfields and roads on which relief efforts need to flow. Then the Big Dogs started mobilizing.
There are thousands of U.S. Marines and hundreds of US Air Force aircraft stationed in Japan and they are already operating search and rescue missions in conjunction with Japanese forces and distributing relief supplies. Many of the Seventh Fleet’s combatant and supply ships are already there and more are on the way. They bring massive quantities of food, medical supplies, and construction equipment, as well as communications hubs that can fill any gaps. (Pre-positioned relief packages, such as the ones now sailing quickly toward Japan, contain everything you’d think of, from MRE’s [Meals, Ready to Eat] to baby food, to save lives and provide some level of comfort.)
When the USS Ronald Reagan arrived off the coast of Japan it changed the game.
The Reagan — like all Nimitz-class carriers — has the capability to produce over 400,000 gallons of potable water every day, and other ships can produce nearly that amount. The carrier’s four-acre deck will be the “lily pad” for Japanese and U.S. helicopters flying rescue and supply missions 24/7. As my friend retired RAdm. Mike Groothousen (former commander of the Reagan’s sister ship, USS Harry S. Truman) reminded me, if you’re not using the catapults and arresting gear – which helos don’t need – your deck crews can operate around the clock for a long time.
And, as Groot told me, the carriers have a lot of radiation-monitoring equipment aboard. They can help the Japanese determine how serious any radiation leaks may be.
Japan will recover, the damage of the earthquake itself overshadowing any effect of the damage to – or caused by – its nuclear power plants. A lot has changed since 1954. These days, Godzilla is a good guy.