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The Obamacare implosion

A number of conservative commentators and writers have been speculating for some time how long it will be from the time it is implemented until Obamacare collapses under the weight of its own poorly-conceived structure.  I think few have anticipated the situation we’ve been witnessing in the past two weeks, where first the administration announces that businesses won’t have to comply with the “employer mandate” until January 2015, and more recently, that the administration won’t be investigating eligibility for Obamacare subsidies, thereby opening the door to massive fraud and abuse.

Although the reasons that the Obama administration is making these changes are cynically transparent to anyone who realizes that the Democrats don’t want to lose big in the 2014 election cycle when voters will have a chance to express their displeasure with Obamacare at the ballot box once again, the more interesting question at the moment concerns the meaning and implications of the administration’s latest maneuvers for its ability to enact policies and govern going forward.

I think some people believe the public is paying closer attention to all this than is most likely the case, but that doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying the triumphalism and mockery of the administration’s opponents.  After the last election, it’s refreshing to see the administration increasingly on the defensive over the actions it has taken with regard to its signature piece of legislation.  Even better is getting to watch the likes of Dick Durbin (D-IL) admit that the disastrous bill “needs changes and improvements.”

But beyond getting to see and hear the bill’s defenders feel the heat, it is gratifying to see pieces like this one speculating that the Republicans in Congress may wise up enough about the administration’s actions to finally kill “immigration reform”:

“They have shown no respect for traditional Constitutional separation of powers,” Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., told National Review‘s John Fund about the impact of the Obamacare delays on the immigration debate, “and that makes it difficult to pass laws where the fear is that they will simply ignore the parts they don’t like.”

Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, who is on the House Judiciary Committee and had been a member of a bipartisan group working on immigration reform, echoed Roe’s concerns on Meet the Press. “In fact, if you look at this Obamacare debacle that they have right now, this administration is actually deciding when and where to actually enforce the law. And that’s what some of us in the House are concerned about. If you give to this administration the authority to decide when they’re going to enforce the law, how they’re going to enforce the law … what’s going to happen is that we’re going to give legalization to 11 million people and Janet Napolitano is going to come to Congress and tell us that the border is already secure and nothing else needs to happen.”

Even the Wall Street Journal is writing about the administration’s actions in language reminiscent of that we saw with the rise of the Tea Party four years ago:

President Obama’s decision last week to suspend the employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act may be welcome relief to businesses affected by this provision, but it raises grave concerns about his understanding of the role of the executive in our system of government

Article II, Section 3, of the Constitution states that the president “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” This is a duty, not a discretionary power. While the president does have substantial discretion about how to enforce a law, he has no discretion about whether to do so.

This matter—the limits of executive power—has deep historical roots. During the period of royal absolutism, English monarchs asserted a right to dispense with parliamentary statutes they disliked. King James II’s use of the prerogative was a key grievance that lead to the Glorious Revolution of 1688. The very first provision of the English Bill of Rights of 1689—the most important precursor to the U.S. Constitution—declared that “the pretended power of suspending of laws, or the execution of laws, by regal authority, without consent of parliament, is illegal.”

Needless to say we can certainly hope that this lively piece by Tony Katz on Townhall.com is more than just a humorous reflection on the administration’s latest foibles:

For years the Right has said that the Obama Administration was thuggish, was hell bent on revenge, and was vindictive.

The IRS scandal was perhaps the tipping point. At first, The Left tried claimed that not just conservative and tea party groups, but progressives as well had been targeted. But, as the Inspector General’s report showed, that was not the case. Obama’s minions attacked Americans who disagreed with him. The Left knows they voted for hate.

Obama is not the man (messiah) they thought he was. The Left was blinded by his skin color and duped by mainstream media.

But now they know he lies. And now they know he surrounds himself with sycophants, ready and willing to lie for him, in poetry and prose.

Lets not let them ever forget it.

Snowdemania

Via Zero Hedge, Republican former VP Dick Cheney comes out against Edward Snowden:
YouTube Preview Image
I’m interested by several aspects of his remarks.

First, there is what Cheney didn’t say: Cheney apparently did not call Snowden a liar. I’m not sure if that puts Cheney at odds with Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), who said last week:

“[Snowden] was lying…He clearly has over-inflated his position, he has over-inflated his access and he’s even over-inflated what the actually technology of the programs would allow one to do. It’s impossible for him to do what he was saying he could do.”

Rogers’ language is a bit slippery: He plants the word “lying” but doesn’t indicate that Snowden was lying about the most crucial revelations, namely, the extent of NSA surveillance of people’s phone records and Internet activities. Between that and Cheney’s apparent silence on the same, I will take the NSA surveillance revelations as ‘confirmed’.

Rogers and Cheney do both call Snowden a “traitor” and suggest that he is a front for someone else; perhaps China. They are not the first to wonder if he’s a front. I figured that Snowden could be acting for an NSA higher-up (who opposes the surveillance programs); but I never totally ruled out (and still don’t) that Snowden could be acting for China. It struck me as a bit odd, from the beginning, that Snowden is holed up with a foreign power which delights in the embarrassment to the U.S. here, and as well, benefits from it.

Anyway, Cheney goes on to strongly defend the NSA surveillance; he suggests it would have prevented the 9-11 attacks, and takes a ‘trust us’ type of stance.

I disagree with Mr. Cheney. I do so respectfully; he’s a great American, and there are two sides to every story. I come down on the Rand Paul / civil liberties side of this one. The current extent of surveillance goes well beyond anything I ever defended the Bush-Cheney administration doing.

And the Obama administration’s other scandals – for example, their IRS / Tea Party scandal, or their multiple spy-on-the-media scandals, or multiple occasions when they happily manipulated classified info for political gain, and/or lied to the American people – have, by now, proven that they (the Obama administration) are profoundly unworthy of trust.

UPDATE – Some tidbits from the last several days:

UPDATE: NSA surveillance has provoked disagreement among the scholars at Cato. Here is a lengthy piece from Julian Sanchez, discussing many legal details from a viewpoint I agree with.

Gallup: Bush More Popular Than Obama

Posted by Bruce Carroll at 4:44 pm - June 11, 2013.
Filed under: Obama Arrogance,Obama Watch

Heh.

In a Gallup tracking poll released Tuesday, former-President George W. Bush currently stands with a favorability rating of 49%, compared to 46% who see the 43rd president unfavorably. Meanwhile, another Gallup poll shows President Obama with only a 47% approval rating, with 44% disapproving.

John Nolte from Breitbart explains why:

After all, Obama fooled everyone when he ran as the anti-Bush in 2008.
Everyone thought Obama meant he would be less hawkish than his predecessor. But as we have seen, Obama apparently has no problem killing American citizens via remote control with drones or greatly expanding on Bush’s surveillance state. This, even though Obama told us he had pretty much won the War on Terror.

Read the whole thing!

-Bruce (@GayPatriot)

“Government data mining matters”

A couple of opinion pieces. First, from Legal Insurrection:

…I’m also concerned with what could be done with the information gathered about American citizens not suspected of a crime if put into the hands of politicians and political groups, and bureaucrats who work for or are sympathetic to such politicians and political groups.

The threat, oddly enough, is proven by the [present] leaks…If some government employee who has sworn to keep information secret is willing to leak [it]…for (allegedly) good purposes, what’s to stop that person from violating his or her oath by leaking data-mined information…for other than good reasons…?

…The issue goes beyond the NSA programs. Obamacare is a form of data mining. Obamacare will put into the hands of the IRS medical and health information of an unprecedented level.

And from Reason:

…everything and everyone are relevant to everything, because anything could yield some clue that could conceivably solve some crime. But that view is the same one that justified those general warrants from King George III.

The problem with indiscriminate [surveillance] of homes and effects is not that it’s ineffective in finding wrongdoing. It’s that the innocent people should not be punished in the pursuit of the guilty….

The danger isn’t (just) in what’s being done with the surveillance databases now; it’s in the fact that they exist, i.e., what could be done with them – and will be, sooner or later. Especially under an administration as power-hungry, deceptive and corrupt as Obama’s.

In the Bush 43 days, I believed that the government was only after real terrorists. But because of Obama’s IRS/Tea Party scandal specifically, I now know otherwise. That scandal has proven that the government’s motives are not pure.

And thus the NSA revelations, while they may be a non-scandal by themselves, they do carry the whiff of all of Obama’s other scandals. Because all of them fit together in a disturbing pattern. I am not against responsible counter-terrorism; I am against Obama’s pattern.

Surveillance updates

Lots of news this weekend on the NSA (phone surveillance) & PRISM (Internet surveillance) revelations. (Some info on how PRISM works from the Silicon Valley side of things, here.)

As these revelations dominate the headlines, perhaps they do obscure other important Obama scandals like Benghazi, IRS / Tea Party, DOJ spying on AP, Pigford, the many EPA scandals, and more. But I say, look at the bright side. There are plenty of revelations to come in those other scandals, so it’s probably temporary.

And, although it’s bad that the Obama administration is so scandalous: given that it is, it’s good that so many of them are coming to light. If some voter doesn’t care about scandal X, they may well care about scandal Y. Even a good chunk of Obama’s left-wing base who may approve of his IRS abusing the Tea Party, is disturbed that he has gone from criticizing to defending the NSA’s activities in spying on ordinary Americans.

So, meet Edward Snowden, now receiving media attention as the NSA whistleblower. I found the whole article interesting. One minor detail which caught my eye is that Snowden sounds like a disillusioned Obama supporter:

…the election of Barack Obama in 2008 gave him hope that there would be real reforms [of CIA and NSA activities], rendering disclosures unnecessary. [Snowden] left the CIA in 2009 in order to take his first job working for a private contractor that assigned him to a functioning NSA facility…It was then, he said, that he “watched as Obama advanced the very policies that I thought would be reined in”, and as a result, “I got hardened.”…”you can’t wait around for someone else to act…”

By the way, it looks like Obama means to prosecute the recent leaks. If he does, let’s remember that he will be carrying out the law.

Having said that: The difference between Candidate Obama and President Obama on these issues is astounding, even to a seasoned cynic. Here’s Obama from 2007:

[The Bush] administration also puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand. I will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our Constitution and our freedom. That means no more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest…

Now click here for some video of Obama hemming and hawing about how we should all trust the Congressional and judicial oversight of these massive surveillance programs. (more…)

Today’s Appalling Facebook Meme

Wow, just wow, is about all I can say in response to this piece of leftist rationalization which I saw today on Facebook.  It goes without saying that we’d be hearing something VERY DIFFERENT from this fellow if there was a Republican president.

The message here boils down to: freedom doesn’t matter, liberty doesn’t matter, rights don’t matter, and the most important role for government is to stand for “social justice.”  Here’s the link, but I’ve quoted the whole thing in its appalling entirety below:

Things I’m more worried about than my phone being tapped:
Global warming. The richest 1% controlling more wealth than the bottom 50%. Homelessness. Gutting the food stamp program. The rich hiding several Trillion untaxed dollars. Secretaries paying more in taxes than billionaires. Politicians being bought and sold. Malaria and starvation. More people per capita in prison than any other country. The “war” on drugs. More black men in prison than in college. Rising cost of education and health care. The rise of extremism. The continued oppression of women. The general lack of compassion in the world. The degree to which we all blame our problems on others and close our eyes to our own irrationality.
That more people are outraged by a small loss of privacy than any of these other issues.

Should I add “People who write in sentence fragments” to his list of outrages more “worrisome” than a government which spends all its time monitoring its people, or is that just my pet peeve?

Not surprisingly, the best responses to this kind of thing date to the founding of the Republic.  We’ve always got the classic from Benjamin Franklin: “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

But in this context, where the message is to sacrifice liberty for “social justice,” I think Sam Adams might be better, though trying to choose just one passage that is appropriate is rather like an embarrassment of riches.  I have long admired this one:

If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.

Perhaps this one is better: “If ever a time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.”

And just in case the Obamalaise is getting to you, here’s one worth repeating regularly: “Nil desperandum, — Never Despair. That is a motto for you and me. All are not dead; and where there is a spark of patriotic fire, we will rekindle it.”

Obama promotes a fool-or-liar

As expected, Obama has promoted Susan Rice to be his national security advisor.

She will head an agency that does large-scale spying on Americans’ phone records.[1] The question is, does she deserve to?

Obama wanted to make her Secretary of State but couldn’t, because that position requires confirmation hearings, at which Rice would have faced uncomfortable questions on Benghazi. Just a reminder, here’s what happened with that:

  1. Four Americans, including one of then-Ambassador Susan Rice’s fellow ambassadors, died in a terrorist attack while Obama did nothing. Obama attended campaign fund-raisers the next day in Vegas.
  2. Ambassador Rice then told the American People falsehoods about how those Americans died. The falsehoods protected an Obama campaign narrative (about their great job against terrorism) at a critical moment in the 2012 election.

The second one is the sticking point. How much chance is there that Rice didn’t know the real story of Benghazi, in the very moments when she was giving us all the fake one to benefit her boss’ campaign? In other words: is Susan Rice a liar, or a fool?[2]

———————–
[1] Whether the NSA spying on so many Americans’ phone records is right or wrong, I will leave open for now. It could be a worthy topic, not least because it ties in with the Obama DOJ’s spying on, and highly selective prosecution of, reporters and officials for national security leaks. You see, NBC reports that the DOJ will investigate this new leak about how the NSA spies on the American customers of Verizon. But the DOJ apparently didn’t care when Leon Panetta, former CIA Director, leaked Top Secret info about Seal Team Six. Wonder why?

[2] Also recall that one of the criticisms of George W. Bush was that he (supposedly) valued personal loyalty too much, in his underlings. Given that Susan Rice must be either a liar or a fool on Benghazi, could Obama have promoted her for any other reason than her loyalty to him? Is this yet another moment of “Obama is actually worse than the Left said Bush was”?

Clint Eastwood Vindicated!

Posted by Bruce Carroll at 3:44 pm - May 21, 2013.
Filed under: Obama Arrogance,Obama Incompetence

When will liberals see?

Only days ago, Obama gave a speech in which, rather than warn us against tyranny, he warned us against the people who go around warning us against tyranny.

The IRS revelations only get worse: From the Washington Examiner yesterday (via Ed Morrissey this morning), we learn that the IRS demanded of a pro-life group – under “perjury of the law”, the IRS staffer’s words – that it not engage in legal Planned Parenthood picketing. And required another pro-life group to furnish detailed plans on its constitutionally-protected speech activities.[1]

This is the same IRS that Obama has been beefing up to enforce Obamacare by demanding ever-greater private information of citizens.

The AP snooping scandal speaks for itself. Now from the GP comments, V the K reminds us of something Obama said in 2008:

We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.

Video here.[2]

In these disparate data points, I see a pattern: Obama wants to be a tyrant – while pretending not to. My question is, do liberals really not see the pattern?

I know that some liberals have begun seeing it – and will, for example, condemn the IRS actions – but others don’t. The other day, I noted Julian Bond saying that he thinks conservative groups deserve the IRS harassment. The execrable Bill Maher has joined the fun there.

Obama maintains his democratic pretense by periodically declaring the goodness of his intentions. For example: yes, the other day he called the IRS actions “inexcusable”.

But a troubled President Nixon, as well as actual tyrants like Chavez and worse, also frequently declared their own goodness. So many of Obama’s other words, policies, and actions of his underlings point in a direction opposite to his self-declared goodness. Do liberals really not see? Or are they part of the pretense; de facto pro-tyranny?

—————-
[1] (I don’t know the ins and outs of these tax-exemption laws, but I thought that as long as a group would refrain from electioneering for parties/candidates, it would get a pass.)
[2] Students of history will note that the Fascists also believed in having powerful civilian, national security forces, and will be troubled by the weird applause that Obama’s liberal audience gave him for proposing it.

Filtered History vs. the Political Wheel of Fortune

Henry David Thoreau once wrote: “There are nowadays professors of philosophy, but not philosophers.”  I thought of that recently in seeing some of the media pushback against the publicity generated by the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library in Texas this week.  Thoreau’s quote is as true as ever about the state of contemporary philosophy, but it is also true about the state of historical inquiry:  these days we have professors of history more than historians.

The professoriate is a class with its own interests and its own agenda, an agenda that largely overlaps with that pursued by the majority of our lamestream media.  That agenda does not include the practice of history in the abstract, insofar as that involves presenting the evidence, weighing the options, employing reason, and drawing conclusions.  To most professors of history and folks in the media these days, history is only useful insofar as it serves their left-wing agenda.  Hence their resistance to the displays in the Bush library.

Consider this article from Yahoo! News:

DALLAS—As former President George W. Bush prepares to officially open his presidential library on Thursday, a question arises as it has for his predecessors: How objective will it be about his time in the White House?
Bush left office five years ago as one of the most unpopular presidents in history, his poll numbers weighed down by public discontent over his handling of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and worries about the economy.
But the former president wanted to take the controversies about his presidency head-on, say several former aides who worked closely with him on the library. One way of addressing the challenge is an interactive exhibit allowing visitors to see what it was like for him to make decisions as leader of the free world. People will hear information Bush was given by aides, then be asked to make their own choices. Afterward, the former president’s image will appear on a screen to explain what decision he ultimately made and why.
“He really wants people to go in there and get a sense of what it was like to be president during that time and to use that to make an informed decision about his presidency,” said Karen Hughes, a longtime Bush adviser.

In some respects,  the article strives to be slightly more balanced than I’m giving it credit for being, since it does point out controversies over the presentation of material in both the Clinton library and the LBJ library, as well, but I think it is materially different, too, in that Bush is trying to present the information that influenced his decisions and both the media and some so-called historians are crying foul over the fact that he is doing so.

One reason they don’t want Bush to tell his version of the story is that as the nightmare that is the Obama administration continues to develop, Bush is regaining popularity.  While I don’t often share Dan’s enthusiasm for Peggy Noonan’s writings, I was intrigued to see her recognizing the depth of the differences between the two men in her column this week where she wrote:

But to the point. Mr. Obama was elected because he wasn’t Bush.

Mr. Bush is popular now because he’s not Obama.

The wheel turns, doesn’t it?

Here’s a hunch: The day of the opening of the Bush library was the day Obama fatigue became apparent as a fact of America’s political life.

And she isn’t the only one.  Writing for Politico this week, Keith Koffler complained  about “Obama’s hubris problem,” prompting Neo-Neocon to ask the question that is on many of our minds: “And he thinks it’s only a second-term phenomenon? Where has he been, on planet Xenon?”

It seems like the media is unhappy this week because Bush is getting a fresh chance to tell his story independent of their filter, whereas the public is increasingly growing tired of the combination of arrogance, divisiveness, imperiousness, incompetence, and the need to politicize everything for which President Obama is increasingly known.

Perhaps, to modify Noonan a bit, the opening of the Bush library was uncomfortable for many of his admirers because, in seeing all five living presidents together again, the public got a chance to see them and to size them up, and as Joseph Curl wrote in the Washington Times W. easily outclassed Obama.

 

 

Name that Obama-era affliction

In a previous post, I wrote about Obamacare Schadenfreude, that feeling of amusement when some ardent supporters of Obamacare realize that that monstrous piece of legislation will have negative consequences for them or for causes about which they claim to care.  I was reminded of that post again yesterday when I heard that one of the authors of Obamacare, Max Baucus (D-Montana), complained that the implementation of Obamacare was going to be a “huge train-wreck coming down.”

Likewise, a little over a week ago, Jay Rockefeller (D-West Virginia) complained about the incomprehensible complexity of the law:  “‘I believe that the Affordable Care Act is probably the most complex piece of legislation ever passed by the United States Congress,’ he said, as quoted in the Washington Examiner. ‘Tax reform obviously has been huge, too, but up to this point it is just beyond comprehension.’”  My response to both Senators is simply to respond:  well, isn’t that just too bad.

Today, though, I’d rather write about another Obama-era affliction which I’ve been suffering with since late January 2009.    It is something akin to depression, and it is brought on or exacerbated by the daily outrages resulting from this administration’s policies.

Sometimes it boils up to anger which gives me more energy, but at other times I feel listless and unmotivated or even hopeless.  At times, I get by just focusing on the routines and necessary activities of my daily life, but sometimes even those feel like a burden.  Writing about the issues can be therapeutic, though there are many times when I’d rather not think about them at all.

So what to call this condition?  “Obamalaise” came to mind, but I think others have used that to describe the lingering weakness in our economy.

I also thought of “Obama Weltschmerz.”  That conveys the angst and depression, and I like the fact that, like Obamacare Schadenfreude, it uses a German word.  As I see it, the use of a German word helps to communicate my sense that Obama’s America feels like it’s headed towards the sort of economic collapse which characterized Weimar Germany.

Maybe that’s too dark.  “Obamanomie” communicates a sense of impending social instability and alienation.  That might get at the matter a little better, though it’s perhaps even more depressing to think about.

In any case, I know I’m not the only one suffering with this condition.  I suspect many of our readers are, too.  What would you call it?

Obama, demagogue

For President Obama’s statement after yesterday’s gun bill failure, see transcript here.

Allahpundit (who has video) is not my favorite, but when he’s right, he’s right:

[Obama] kept his mouth shut nice and tight about guns when it was his own ass on the line last year in purple states; he ignored gun control almost completely when he had 60 Democratic votes in the Senate early in his first term; and as we know from the gay-marriage farce, he isn’t above lying outright to voters about his true positions in the name of getting elected…

Given his record, there’s every reason to believe that what’s really bothering him is the fact that red-state Dems [ed: and Senator Toomey(R)!] denied him an easy chance today to demagogue Republicans as the party of child murder…

I think Obama’s statement is itself an example of demagoguery.

  • Obama pulls figures from thin air, like his claim that “90% of the American people” supported the bill.
  • Obama calls the Senate cloture rules under which the bill failed, “A continuing distortion of Senate rules.” Huh? How can the actual Senate rules, which Democrats gladly use to stop legislation when it suits them, be a distortion of the rules? Or does Obama mean that the rules should only ever help himself?
  • Obama once more tries to play the Gabby Giffords card and the Sandy Hook card. But neither of those shootings would have been prevented by the bill.
  • Obama claims “There were no coherent arguments” against the bill, then misrepresents arguments against it[1], revealing the true problem (that he never understood the arguments and never wanted to).
  • Obama also plays the Dirty Gun Lobby / Dirty Money In Politics card. But, as Bruce’s post mentions, it was the pro-bill side (if anyone) which may have tried to buy votes with money.

The problem with all gun control legislation is that it burdens the freedom *of the law-abiding*. It’s justifiable only if it will directly hurt law-breakers, a small (if destructive) minority. And, in practice, it usually doesn’t.

Even if it does, there is still the Constitution to consider. As with speech restrictions, property restrictions, measures that would expand home invasion (or search & seizure), etc.: gun control legislation should be difficult to get passed. It should be passed only on cold, slow-moving rationality; never on demagogic falsehoods or appeals to emotion.

[1] For example, Obama says “One common argument I heard was that this legislation wouldn’t prevent all future massacres”; Obama’s insertion of the word “all” making it clearly a Straw Man.

Obama declares his budget ‘fiscally responsible’

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 6:52 pm - April 10, 2013.
Filed under: Debt Crisis,Economy,Obama Arrogance,Obama Prevarications

And that settles the question, right? Because, in the new world’s glorious Declarative style of governing, what Obama says he’s doing is what counts; never mind the facts.

Well, let’s try on a few facts:

Don’t get me wrong: Obama had kind of a point, in 2008. A point which should be applied doubly now, to him.

Hypocrisy alert level Red (Severe): Obama also declared that “Our economy is poised for progress as long as Washington doesn’t get in the way.”

Hmm… What law could Obama be implementing right now that puts businesses in a quandary, making it tougher for them both to plan and to hire people? What could it be?

[**] NB: These points were overstated in the original version of this post; I regret the error. Actual federal spending grew through the 2000s, peaked in 2009 (the Obama “stimulus” budget – thank you, RH at comment #9), declined in 2010, and has increased again since 2010. The increases have been smaller than GDP growth, so that federal spending has declined since 2009 as a percentage of GDP; while still remaining, at 22% of GDP, higher than in the Clinton-Bush era.

Obama’s Salary Cut in Perspective

Posted by Bruce Carroll at 10:53 pm - April 3, 2013.
Filed under: Depression 2.0,Economy,Obama Arrogance

This is a pretty good website to illustrate how awesome it is that King Barack I is taking a whopping 5% pay cut.

SHEESH.

-Bruce (@GayPatriot)

My Unrecognizable Democratic Party

The title is from Ted Van Dyk’s recent column. He’s a lifelong Democrat. As a former Democrat myself, who left in the early Naughties[1], I was intrigued. Read the whole thing, of course. A few highlights:

Mr. Obama was elected in 2008 on the basis of his persona and his pledge to end political and ideological polarization…On taking office, however, the president adopted a my-way-or-the-highway style of governance. He pursued his stimulus and health-care proposals on a congressional-Democrats-only basis. He rejected proposals of his own bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission, which would have provided long-term deficit reduction…He opted instead to demonize Republicans…

No serious attempt—for instance, by offering tort reform or allowing the sale of health-insurance products across state lines—was made to enlist GOP congressional support for the health bill…

Faced with a…GOP House takeover [in 1995], President Bill Clinton shifted to bipartisan governance. Mr. Obama [in 2011] did not...

…I couldn’t have imagined any one of the Democratic presidents or presidential candidates I served from 1960-92 using such down-on-all-fours tactics [as Obama did in 2012]. The unifier of 2008 became the calculated divider of 2012. Yes, it worked, but only narrowly, as the president’s vote total fell off sharply from 2008…

In 1965, Lyndon Johnson had Democratic congressional majorities sufficient to pass any legislation he wanted. But he sought and received GOP congressional support for Medicare, Medicaid, civil rights, education and other Great Society legislation. He knew that in order to last, these initiatives needed consensus support…

…former Democratic presidents would…know today that no Democratic or liberal agenda can go forward…if presidential and Democratic Party rhetoric consistently portrays loyal-opposition leaders as having devious or extremist motives….

Nice to see a Democrat who can admit it; a Democrat who remembers the party we used to know.

[1]As the party went insane over Gore-Bush, Iraq and more.

UPDATE: Even David Brooks, the New York Times’ notion of “conservative” who was so impressed by the crease in Obama’s pants in 2008, is starting to get it.

The progressive [Democrat] budget in the House seems to have been written by people hermetically sealed in the house of government. They work in government. They represent public-sector workers. They seem to have had little contact with private-sector job creators… while Republicans may embarrass on a daily basis, many progressives have lost touch with what actually produces growth and prosperity.

It’s Obama’s world; you’re just living in it

I’ve not blogged or read political articles for the last 3 weeks, for several reasons. One reason was that I got a little overwhelmed by (disgust at) the sheer volume of the Obama administration’s negligence and dishonesty, on issue after issue. You just can’t blog it all.

Well “I’m back”, presently scanning the last few days’ news on HotAir. There it is again! The sheer volume of Obama negligence and/or dishonesty. Any of these could make a blog post.

What, only four items? Here’s a bonus: What happens to your city, when Democrats run it for generations?

UPDATE: An Obama advisor allows, in tortured fashion, that the “sequester” cuts were their idea. So why have the Obama crew recently been pretending the opposite?

UPDATE: Via Ace and the New York Post, more tales of the Obama administration’s techniques for shaping reporters’ discourse:

“I had a young reporter asking tough, important questions of an Obama Cabinet secretary,” says one DC veteran. “She was doing her job, and they were trying to bully her. In an e-mail, they called her the vilest names — bitch, c–t, a–hole.”…

UPDATE: WaPo upgrades one of Obama’s sequester lies from two Pinocchios (run-of-the-mill political lie) to four (indisputable, big lie).

Hearing Obama on Lincoln’s Birthday

Presidents’ Day is this coming Monday, but Lincoln’s birthday was this past Tuesday, February 12th.  I was traveling that day, and had the misfortune of being subjected to hearing most of the State of the Union address as I completed the last leg of that day’s journey.

As Dan and others have pointed out many times in the past, Obama is fond of comparing himself to Republican Presidents, especially Lincoln and Reagan.  Perhaps it is because both Lincoln and Reagan were associated with the state of Illinois: Reagan was born there, grew up there, and went to college there, and although Lincoln didn’t move to Illinois until his 21st year, he is most associated with the state where he became a country lawyer, served in the state legislature, and represented a district in the House of Representatives.

Or perhaps Obama compares himself to Republicans because he doesn’t want to remind the public that his political views place him to the left of Clinton, Carter, and Johnson, or, for that matter, far, far to the left of Kennedy.  Perhaps he simply wants to preserve the narrative about his alleged “post-partisanship” and thinks that comparing himself to Republican Presidents is one way to keep pulling the wool over the public’s eyes in that regard.

Whatever the reason, hearing him speak on Lincoln’s birthday only reminded me, once again, how far Obama falls from Lincoln’s historic presidency (despite Steven Spielberg’s and Tony Kushner’s attempts to draw such a parallel through their recent film).   Not only was the speech the usual melange of the same tiresome platitudes we’ve been hearing from him over the last five years, as both Bruce and Jeff have pointed out here, it was also full of his usual partisan talking points, as he placed blame on Republicans wherever he could, and he rationalized future power-grabs by the Executive branch.

In the context of Lincoln’s birthday, though, I am less interested in the SOTU, and more interested in what Obama said on January 21st of this year.  Until Bruce posted the entirety of Washington’s second inaugural last month, the second inaugural address I was most familiar with was Lincoln’s.  I had read about FDR’s second inaugural address, but never felt moved to read it in its entirety, and have generally had just passing interest in the speeches delivered on the second inaugurals of the presidents who were re-elected in my lifetime.  But Lincoln’s second inaugural address is anthologized in textbooks alongside the Gettysburg Address, and I have read both many times.  They are both lessons in brevity, resolve and humility.

Consider, for instance, the way that Lincoln discusses the issue of slavery and the conflict between the North and the South in his second inaugural address:

Both [sides] read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

These are not the words of a proud and arrogant man.  These are the words of a man who is troubled by the horrible conflict which has engulfed his nation and who prays for its speedy resolution, even as he fears the terrible price that both sides in the conflict still have to pay.  Lincoln’s words are even more powerful in that way that they echo, perhaps unintentionally, one of Jefferson’s most striking passages from his Notes on the State of Virginia:

(more…)

Obama, Market Manipulator

Via HotAir and others, we had the news last week that:

The Justice Department sued Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services late Monday, alleging the firm ignored its own standards to rate mortgage bonds that imploded in the financial crisis and cost investors billions. The government was seeking penalties of more than $1 billion…which would be the biggest sanction imposed on a firm related for its actions in the crisis.

This is market manipulation at its dirtiest. I’ll explain.

During the housing bubble, the government’s mortgage finance agencies, FNMA (Fannie Mae) and FHLMC (Freddie Mac), securitized scads of mortgages. That means they re-packaged them as securities – in this case, as bonds – which could be traded on Wall Street. And that helped the bubble along, because it made a lot more money available for people’s mortgages, especially sub-prime mortgages.

All three of the major U.S. bond ratings agencies – S&P, Moody’s and Fitch – gave the ‘securitized mortgage’ bonds the safest rating, AAA, which helped keep the housing bubble going. And that was what almost everyone wanted at the time, including the government.

Later, when the housing bubble burst, it was clear that these bonds did not deserve an AAA rating, and probably never had. The ratings agencies had been wrong, along with everyone else.

One question to ask is: why is S&P the first ratings agency, and so far the only one, to be punished after all this time? What distinguishes S&P? The answer seems fairly obvious: In August 2011, S&P downgraded the U.S. government’s own bonds, which remains a huge blow to Obama’s reputation.

Reports indicate that the government may also sue Moody’s. But they haven’t yet; any efforts there “are in the early stages, largely because state and federal authorities have dedicated more resources to the S&P lawsuit.” Golly, ya think?

So far, then, the moral of the story is: Don’t criticize Obama. Nice business you got there; would be a shame if anything happened to it.

But there is a deeper story: how market manipulation by the government causes bad outcomes; for which politicians (and other supporters of Big Government) always blame the market’s players, rather than themselves.

It was government which created Fannie and Freddie and had them massively support the sub-prime mortgage market. (For which GayPatriot has criticized Barney Frank’s involvement; see here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.)

Moreover, as Peter Schiff reminds us, it was government which established the Big 3 ratings agencies in positions free from ‘consumer’ pressure, where they would descend into a culture of complacent groupthink that favored, not the small investor, but the big players: (more…)

Federal Court Rebukes Obama Administration’s Recess Appointments

Posted by Bruce Carroll at 8:43 pm - January 25, 2013.
Filed under: Carolina News,Obama Arrogance,Union Thuggery

My new piece is up at WatchdogWire – North Carolina.  Here’s a snippet!

In Watchdog Wire’s exclusive interview with Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), he stated his support of the court’s ruling.

“Today the D.C. Circuit court rejected the Obama Administration’s executive over reach by finding unconstitutional the President’s recess appointments of officers to federal agencies. This ruling will help in the fight to restore that very system of checks and balances to our government. No president should seek to hijack an independent executive branch agency with unconfirmed political appointees.”

Please read the whole thing!

-Bruce (@GayPatriot)

 

Word Clouds

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 9:59 pm - January 23, 2013.
Filed under: 2012 Presidential Election,HopeAndChange,Obama Arrogance

I admit the ‘word cloud’ technique is a pretty sketchy way to analyze a speech. Still, it can be fun. Zero Hedge gives us an example. From their analysis of a few speeches:

  • Reagan 1981 [inaugural speech]: – ‘believe’, ‘freedom’, and ‘government’
  • Schumer 2013: – ‘America’, ‘Today’, ‘Finished’, ‘People’
  • Obama 2013 [inaugural speech]: “America People Must Believe”

Got it, America? You must believe!

But the main point, for me, is simply the prevalence of “must” in Obama’s speech. As others have remarked: In his vision of the world, no one who opposes him ever does so in good faith. Whatever he believes is an imperative.

UPDATE: A cloud on Hillary’s Benghazi hearing. “People think know committee SEC”… Huh? It sounds like they spent much of that hearing on the question of what people knew or thought when, but why would the SEC pop into it?