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Obama ready to strike in Syria…against America’s will?

To borrow a few lines that Bruce re-tweeted, “I’m so old, I remember the press having a healthy skepticism for military involvement in the Middle East…I’m also glad we amended the constitution to exclude that congressional authorization for war…”

I’m so old, I remember that President Bush actually troubled himself to get approval from Congress for the Iraq War, including a majority of Senate Democrats. But President Obama, with Syria? I doubt he’ll try.

According to Reuters this weekend:

About 60 percent of Americans surveyed said the United States should not intervene in Syria’s civil war, while just 9 percent thought President Barack Obama should act. More Americans would back intervention if it is established that chemical weapons have been used, but even that support has dipped in recent days…

…just 27 percent said they supported his decision to send arms to some Syrian rebels; 47 percent were opposed…

About 11 percent said Obama should do more to intervene in Syria than sending arms to the rebels, while 89 percent said he should not help the rebels…

Obama is considering a range of options. The most popular option among Americans: not intervening in Syria at all. That option is backed by 37 percent of Americans…

If “Obama” (was Reuters disrespectful for calling him that?) intervenes in Syria, he will be doing it without the support of the American people.

There may be no good options in Syria. Just to review: An Iranian-backed dictatorship is fighting rebels who are, basically, al Qaeda. We have claims that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons; and counter-claims that it was the rebels, running a vicious false flag operation.

UPDATE: Kerry says it was the Syrian government. I must be frank: Hearing it from Kerry makes me a little more skeptical than I was before. The man has been a gigantic, shameless liar on public issues ever since he slandered a generation of veterans in testimony before Congress, in 1971.

I realize that Kerry is backed up, in this instance, by hundreds of functionaries in the Obama administration, and that makes deception less likely (or harder to pull off). But not impossible; and because of Benghazi among other scandals, we know that the Obama administration can be untruthful on foreign policy. They may be telling a true story this time; but skepticism is not wholly unwarranted, and should not be faulted automatically.

If President Obama wanted trust to come forth in a more automatic fashion, then he should have (1) not let his administration mislead the American people on Benghazi, and (2) not chosen a figure known for his decades of lying, as Secretary of State. Having said that, could the administration’s version of events be true? I’m keeping an open mind. Kerry has promised more evidence in days to come; we’ll see.

What ARE the aims of Obama’s foreign policy?

Victor Davis Hanson published a memorable piece in the National Review last week entitled “America as Pill Bug.”  The pill bug or the roly-poly bug is one that turns itself into a ball when it feels threatened.  Hanson writes:

That roly-poly bug can serve as a fair symbol of present-day U.S. foreign policy, especially in our understandable weariness over Iraq, Afghanistan, and the scandals that are overwhelming the Obama administration.

On August 4, U.S. embassies across the Middle East simply closed on the basis of intelligence reports of planned al-Qaeda violence. The shutdown of 21 diplomatic facilities was the most extensive in recent American history.

Yet we still have over a month to go before the twelfth anniversary of the attacks on September 11, 2001, an iconic date for radical Islamists.

Such preemptive measures are no doubt sober and judicious. Yet if we shut down our entire public profile in the Middle East on the threat of terrorism, what will we do when more anti-American violence arises? Should we close more embassies for more days, or return home altogether?

Hanson makes an excellent point about the way the Obama administration’s closure of embassies is likely to be viewed in the Arab world and around the globe.  Although, as Jeff pointed out in a post last week, the administration may have ulterior motives–by trying to create a distraction–by closing the embassies in this manner, the reality is that the interpretation of the administration’s actions by our international foes is likely to proceed in a manner similar to that Hanson envisions in his article.

Hanson looks at the example of Libya and Syria to illustrate that the administration’s “lead from behind” strategy is not working, and that it appears to be counterproductive:

Instead, the terrorists are getting their second wind, as they interpret our loud magnanimity as weakness — or, more likely, simple confusion. They increasingly do not seem to fear U.S. retaliation for any planned assaults. Instead, al-Qaeda franchises expect Americans to adopt their new pill-bug mode of curling up until danger passes.

Our enemies have grounds for such cockiness. President Obama promised swift punishment for those who attacked U.S. installations in Benghazi and killed four Americans. So far the killers roam free. Rumors abound that they have been seen publicly in Libya.

Instead of blaming radical Islamist killers for that attack, the Obama reelection campaign team fobbed the assault off as the reaction to a supposedly right-wing, Islamophobic videomaker. That yarn was untrue and was greeted as politically correct appeasement in the Middle East.

All these Libyan developments took place against a backdrop of “lead from behind.” Was it wise for American officials to brag that the world’s largest military had taken a subordinate role in removing Moammar Qaddafi — in a military operation contingent on approval from the United Nations and the Arab League but not the U.S. Congress?

No one knows what to do about the mess in Syria. But when you do not know what to do, it is imprudent to periodically lay down “red lines.” Yet the administration has done just that to the Bashar al-Assad regime over the last two years.

Hanson sees the Obama administration’s foreign policy as a disastrous replay of the Carter doctrine, once again illustrating Glenn Reynolds’ frequent observation that a replay of Jimmy Carter is simply the “best-case scenario” for Obama.

While I believe Hanson is right in his characterization of the big picture and the likely consequences of Obama foreign policy, I’d differ from him in seeing Obama as being as feckless and weak as Carter.  I’d maintain that Carter’s foreign policy was guided by a number of naive precepts about the nature of the world.  At least during the years of his presidency, I’d contend that Carter “meant well” in the way the phrase is commonly used to describe a hopelessly incompetent bumbler who seems incapable of recognizing his own shortcomings.  Likewise, early in the Obama administration, Tammy Bruce started referring to Obama as Urkel, the nerdy, awkward, inept kid from the TV show “Family Matters” who had an uncanny ability to mess up almost everything he touched.  That certainly is one narrative for what Obama is doing in the world of foreign policy, but I’m not sure it is the right one.

As I contemplate Obama foreign policy, though, particularly in the Middle East, I find myself thinking more and more that although incompetence might be the simplest explanation, it might not be the best or the right one.  I see no good intentions in the administration’s domestic policy, so why should its foreign policy be exempt from charges that it is motivated more by malevolence to the United States and its role in history than by a supposed set of “liberal” ideals?

This is an administration that seems bent on alienating all of our historical allies as quickly as possible, while taking it easy on our geopolitical foes.  Obama seems to want our allies to view us as unreliable and untrustworthy while making sure our enemies view us as weak, indecisive, and either unable or unwilling to use force to protect our interests or to enforce our stated policy goals.  If there is a better explanation of the administration’s ultimate foreign policy goals, I’d sure like to know what it might be.

 

Egyptians…not loving Obama so much?

In case you haven’t seen this already on The Gateway Pundit:

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Some Zimmerman links

Recent-ish, and I found them worthwhile:

  • Shelby Steele on The Decline of the Civil Rights Establishment. “The purpose of today’s civil-rights establishment is not to seek justice, but to seek power…based on the presumption that [blacks] are still…victimized…This idea of victimization is an example of what I call a ‘poetic truth.’ Like poetic license, it bends the actual truth…[listeners] say, ‘Yes, of course,’ lest we seem to be racist…this establishment is fighting to maintain its authority to wield poetic truth…One wants to scream at all those outraged at the Zimmerman verdict: Where is your outrage over the collapse of the black family?” – Read the whole thing.

  • A good piece from Cathy Young reviewing the depth of the Established media’s malpractice in this case, and one from Bill Whittle expressing his outrage over that malpractice.

  • Now old, but: Video of the jury reading the Not Guilty verdict. (Just to see the moment. And sorry, but there is no honest way to force Zimmerman into a ‘white’ identity; by conventional standards, he seems clearly a Latino / person of color.)

BONUS (from Kurt in the comments): Bryan Preston critiques how Obama has cast his lot with the race-baiters. “In Florida, blacks benefit from ‘stand your ground’ laws more often than whites do…[and] the president went on to acknowledge that…’stand your ground’ was not invoked in Zimmerman’s defense, [but said] we should re-examine such laws anyway. Logically, why?”

UPDATE: Zimmerman helps people, despite the nasty death threats that Trayvon Martin supporters have inflicted not only on him, but even on strangers who (say) happen to have a phone number similar to his.

Obama: Racial Divider

I’ve avoided weighing in on the George Zimmerman trial, out of deference to the judicial process. But now the jury has spoken: George Zimmerman is not even guilty of a lesser charge such as assault, child abuse or manslaughter; still less is he guilty of any degree of murder. It’s official.

My sympathy, and I’m sure all of our prayers and sympathies, continue to go out to Trayvon Martin’s family for the tragic loss of their son and brother.

But I believe they “lost him”, so to speak, before his lethal encounter with Zimmerman. On the total weight of evidence, I believe that Martin was an aggressor, and I agree with the jury that it would have been wrong to send Zimmerman to prison, on the strong possibility (if not likelihood) that Zimmerman acted in reasonable self-defense.

I want to go beyond what Kurt and Roger L. Simon have said about President Obama. He didn’t just besmirch his office by taking public sides in a painful criminal matter where the utmost caution was needed. And he didn’t just lose politically (by taking the side that lost on trial), nor win politically (by revving up his base). No, it’s worse than that. Obama has lost morally by saying things in this matter that, in all likelihood, are morally wrong.

The latest would be Obama’s call to “honor” Travyon Martin:

President Obama called on the nation to honor Trayvon Martin a day after George Zimmerman was acquitted of his murder by asking “ourselves if we’re doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence.”

…Obama said in a statement on Sunday…”We should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence that claims too many lives across this country on a daily basis. We should ask ourselves, as individuals and as a society, how we can prevent future tragedies like this. As citizens, that’s a job for all of us. That’s the way to honor Trayvon Martin.”

Let’s be clear. Just as the weight of evidence suggests that Zimmerman acted in self-defense, so it also suggests that Travyon Martin used excessive physical force, acting in illegal, criminal aggression. (Otherwise, how could Zimmerman’s action have been self-defense – objectively?)

Physical aggression, especially that which threatens another’s life to the point where he may be justified in taking drastic action, is morally wrong. And self-defense, IF it is genuinely called for, is morally right. And “honor” ought to be given, if at all, to the person, philosophy or action which is in the right.

I really don’t believe that either party should be “honored” here. But, if one of them absolutely had to be, wouldn’t it be Zimmerman? Certainly not because he killed; but because he was – on the weight of the evidence, and as now officially determined by a jury – likely reasonable to have killed, under the law and circumstances; likely the party who was more in the right.

That President O’Pander ignores the moral implications of what the jury found (after their intensive study of the matter), and even presents the opposite to people as that which is good and true, is typical.

Tragically, it is also divisive beyond words, a terrible injury to our nation. Why? Because it sends many people in the wrong direction – with their emotions and their sense of injury inflamed, on behalf of that which is likely wrong. Honoring the wrong does not bring healing – especially in racial matters.

When Obama loses even the Germans…

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 8:57 pm - July 7, 2013.
Filed under: Democratic Scandals,Obama Watch

…this is what it looks like:

Protestor signs say that Obama is Stasi 2.0

Via Zero Hedge.

The government tracks your snail mail, too

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 8:22 pm - July 7, 2013.
Filed under: Obama Watch,Post 9-11 America,War On Terror

From the New York Times last week:

U.S. Postal Service Logging All Mail for Law Enforcement

…Postal Service computers photograph the exterior of every piece of paper mail that is processed in the United States — about 160 billion pieces last year. It is not known how long the government saves the images…

…postal workers record information from the outside of letters and parcels before they are delivered. (Opening the mail would require a warrant.) … It enables the Postal Service to retrace the path of mail at the request of law enforcement. No one disputes that it is sweeping.

“In the past, mail covers were used when [ed: ordered after] you had a reason to suspect someone of a crime,” said Mark D. Rasch, who started a computer crimes unit in the fraud section of the criminal division of the Justice Department and worked on several fraud cases using mail covers. “Now it seems to be, ‘Let’s record everyone’s mail so in the future we might go back and see who you were communicating with.’ Essentially you’ve added mail covers on millions of Americans.”

So, pro or con? A reasonable trade-off of privacy for security, or another example of America Gone Horribly Wrong?

I lean to the latter view. As the NSA surveillance revelations hit, I said:

Can you imagine one of the Framers [of the Constitution] saying the following? “Having the Post Office collect data for the President on every letter that every person sends isn’t unconstitutional because the Fourth Amendment only protects the content of letters and not information on the sender and recipient, the weight of the letters (or number of pages), etc.” – I can’t.

Having said that, I do have a tad more confidence that the Post Office isn’t illegally opening and reading letters, than I do that the NSA somehow isn’t illegally reading/listening to any e-mails and phone calls they feel like.

UPDATE: From Bruce’s Twitter stream, more in the “America Gone Wrong” category:

Egyptian street protestors against Obama?

Click here (or equivalently, here) for “15 Photos From the Tahrir Square Protests You’ll Never See In Legacy Media.”

They’re 15 anti-Obama signs/banners, that seem to be placed prominently among the protestors. Now, I don’t know what that means for the protestors’ (or the Egyptians’) overall feelings about Obama. But if you can find a countervailing link – say, 15 pro-Obama banners from the protestors, or current Egyptian poll results where they love him – please post it in the comments.

UPDATE: From Cairo’s Tora prison, Ousted Mubarak says Mursi should resign to ‘save lives’.

UPDATE: Obama against Egyptian street protestors? The key phrases in his otherwise flowery statement about his love of Egyptian democracy:

I now call on the Egyptian military…to avoid any arbitrary arrests of President Morsi and his supporters. Given today’s developments, I have also directed the relevant departments and agencies to review the implications under U.S. law for our assistance to the government of Egypt.

In other words: Obama may cut off aid to Egypt if the Egyptian military dares to crack down on the Islamo-fascists within their midst, the Muslim Brotherhood. From Wiki’s description of them:

The Brotherhood’s stated goal is to instill the Qur’an and Sunnah as the “sole reference point for …ordering the life of the Muslim family, individual, community … and state.”The movement is known for engaging in political violence, claiming responsibility for the installment of Hamas, a U.S. designated terrorist organization…Muslim Brotherhood members are suspected to have assassinated political opponents like Egyptian Prime Minister Mahmoud an-Nukrashi Pasha…

But, not to fear: Obama left himself room to wriggle in the other direction. He can still say that he only wanted to avoid “arbitrary” arrests (as opposed to, say, arrests necessary to prevent a civil war) and that he only called for a “review” of U.S. aid.

UPDATE: Did you know that Obama was getting ready to deploy U.S. troops to support Morsi against the Egyptian street protestors? (KCEN-TV report, via The New American.) I had missed it.

Perhaps that is part of what precipitated the Egyptian military’s move against Morsi. That, and Morsi’s plans to intervene in Syria for “the rebels”, the Syrian al Qaeda bunch that Obama also supports.

UPDATE: CNN acknowledges that the Egyptian protests were anti-Obama. (Via Zero Hedge.) So, we cynics were wrong on that point: the U.S. official media has indeed admitted it.

You don’t say

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 12:00 pm - June 21, 2013.
Filed under: Democratic Scandals,Obama Watch,Random Thoughts

And this on AOL’s (AKA Huffington Post) homepage:

Screen shot 2013-06-21 at 8.39.08 AM

Is Obama’s Neverending Campaign Hurting his Reputation?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 12:18 pm - June 20, 2013.
Filed under: HopeAndChange,Obama Watch,Random Thoughts

Take a gander at this screen capture.  Interesting juxtaposition between ad and article, no?

Screen shot 2013-06-20 at 9.12.18 AM

Question for the day: does his perpetual campaigning help compromise the Democrat’ “Reputation for Integrity”?

And please tell me how did Mr. Obama acquired such a reputation? Through his actions? (What specific actions helped him earn it?)

Open thread: Syria

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 4:18 am - June 20, 2013.
Filed under: National Security,Obama Watch,War On Terror

What’s going on? ‘Syriasly.’ I understand where Iran and Hezbollah are in this: they’re Assad allies and want their interests preserved. But:

  • Do Assad’s troops really use chemical weapons?
  • Are the rebels worth supporting? Aren’t they basically al Qaeda?
  • Is this Obama’s Iraq War: where he must build a coalition (both domestic and international) in favor of a “regime change” on the word of intelligence agencies, thus becoming Bush?
  • Is this a proxy war between the U.S. and Russia/Iran? Does it lead to a serious confrontation?
  • What is the U.S. security interest in this, really? Has Assad become a worse international citizen than he was five years ago – say, a greater threat to Israel, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq?
  • Or is this Obama’s Wag the Dog moment, where he tries to distract from his many scandals? Should I trust a war that Lindsey Graham believes in?

The Left seems to be all over the map on this.

Obama’s polls finally breaking

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 6:13 pm - June 17, 2013.
Filed under: Democratic Scandals,Obama Watch

For years, Obama has maintained an overall approval rating above 50% as many Americans have refused to dislike him, despite majorities being against his policies and giving him lots of disapproval on key issues.

That seems to be changing. Via HotAir, a CNN poll puts Obama’s approval rating at just 45%, a drop of eight points from a month ago. His disapproval is up nine points, to 54%.

RTWT. “The drop in Obama’s support is fueled by a dramatic 17-point decline over the past month among people under 30…” “The number of Americans who think he is honest has dropped nine points over the past month, to 49%.”

UPDATE: We know he’s in trouble…because he’s lost Germany:

several hundred leftists staged a colorful demonstration on Monday afternoon in Berlin…with a poster showing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. uttering his famous line, “I have a dream.” Underneath was Obama saying, “I have a drone.”

What now, are we supposed to believe that even German leftists must be motivated by racism? Oh wait…sorry.

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)

‘Nobody is listening to your telephone calls’

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 3:54 pm - June 7, 2013.
Filed under: Democratic Scandals,Obama Watch,Post 9-11 America,War On Terror

President Obama just gave a speech, wherein he addressed the NSA surveillance revelations. From CNN:

Sweeping up Americans’ telephone records and monitoring Internet activity from overseas are “modest encroachments on privacy” that can help U.S. intelligence analysts disrupt terror activity, President Barack Obama said Friday.

“Nobody is listening to your telephone calls,” he reassured Americans…

And from Yahoo!:

“I came in with a healthy skepticism about these programs,” Obama said…”My team evaluated them. We scrubbed them thoroughly. We actually expanded some of the oversight, increased some of the safeguards.”

Isn’t that reassuring? Obama says he means well!

Dan has posed the question, Is revelation of phone data gathering “scandal” a (kind of) distraction?

With respect, my answer is: Perhaps. Maybe the Obama crew staged the NSA revelations, to divert attention from their main scandals.

But, if true, wouldn’t it mean they’re getting desperate? (Telling the media “Don’t cover that scandal, cover *this* one.”) As a fan of truth coming to light, I’m pleased. And don’t worry, the other scandals are still under investigation and have plenty of revelations to come. There will be plenty of oxygen for them.

So, getting back to the NSA revelations…I’m worried by some of the commentary I’ve seen.

Dan quotes law professor John Yoo as saying that this “data collecting isn’t unconstitutional because the Fourth Amendment only protects the content of phone calls and not information on the dialed numbers, length of the calls, etc.” And Yoo may well be right, as regards the state of the law today.

But that doesn’t necessarily make it right. Here is the text of the Fourth Amendment:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The right to be secure in your “papers”. Now, the Framers (of the Constitution) said “papers” in part because they couldn’t conceive of phone calls. In their day, people communicated over distances by paper letters. Can you imagine one of the Framers saying the following?

Having the Post Office collect data for the President on every letter that every person sends isn’t unconstitutional because the Fourth Amendment only protects the content of letters and not information on the sender and recipient, the weight of the letters (or number of pages), etc.

I can’t. In other words, I don’t find it terribly reassuring to be told that they don’t actually open the letters phone calls and read listen to them.

Finally, I would remind people that the NSA is traditionally much closer to the White House than the other security agencies, which is why I put “for the President” in the above mock-up. I do support counter-terrorism, but… Color me skeptical. I have concerns on this.

Obama’s NSA phone surveillance called “shockingly broad”

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 10:03 pm - June 6, 2013.
Filed under: Obama Watch,War On Terror

Michelle Malkin has a must-read post on NSA phone surveillance of Americans (a subject that I touched upon in an earlier footnote).

She starts by reminding about the NSA phone surveillance of the Bush administration:

The Bush NSA’s special collections program grew in early 2002 after the CIA started capturing top Qaeda operatives overseas, including Abu Zubaydah. The CIA seized the terrorists’ computers, cellphones and personal phone directories. NSA surveillance was intended to exploit those numbers and addresses as quickly as possible. As a result of Bush NSA work,the terrorist plot involving convicted al Qaeda operative Iyman Faris was uncovered — possibly saving untold lives…

Normally, the government obtains court orders to monitor such information from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. But the window of opportunity to exploit the names, numbers, and addresses of those associated with the top terrorist leaders was obviously small…

So the Bush administration had the NSA track Americans’ overseas phone calls, insofar as captured terrorist phone numbers might show up. But the Obama administration? Not so much…err, so little:

The new Obama order covers not only phone calls overseas with the specific goal of counterterrorism surveillance, but all domestic calls by Verizon customers over at least a three-month period.

[Malkin now links/quotes an article at Politico:] Trevor Timm, a digital rights analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, called the order “shockingly broad.” …The “top secret” order issued in April by a judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court at the request of the FBI instructs the telecommunications giant Verizon to provide the NSA with daily reports of “all call detail records or ‘telephony metadata’ created by Verizon for communications (i) between the United States and abroad; or (ii) wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls.”

I’m willing to preserve our counter-terrorism efforts. And I don’t know much about the legal ins/outs of all this. But, all domestic calls by Verizon customers? Sheesh! This surely goes beyond the Bush NSA surveillance that the public debated in 2005-6.

So, it’s worth discussing the rightness (or wrongness) of the broadened surveillance. The more so if (note IF) the War on Terror is over, as some international observers thought Obama to be implying in his speech last week.

By way of counterpoint, Senator Feinstein implies that the broadened phone surveillance did start under Bush, in 2007. But that still wouldn’t make it right. Or make it anything that the public has approved, because we haven’t learned about the broadened efforts (or been able to debate them) until now.

As always, please feel free to post whatever more you know about this issue, in the comments.

In 2008, we told you Obama wasn’t the man you (thought you) were voting for. . .

[E]ven among Obama voters,” writes Heather Long in Friday’s Guardian, reflecting on a variety of factors, including the number of scandals coming to light, “there should be genuine disappointment. This not the President Obama we voted for, not even close.”

She talks about the excitement and exhilaration people felt in 2008 when Obama was elected:

It was mostly young people marching – from varied backgrounds. Many of these parades ended up in front of the White House where chants of “goodbye Bush” (or some variation thereof) began. It was the same slogan heard as Barack Obama was sworn in as president in January 2009 and Bush flew away in a helicopter.

There was a belief, especially among voters in their 20s and 30s, that Obama was going to be different. That his promises to “change the culture in Washington” were real. That his administration wouldn’t be beholden to lobbyists and conduct executive power grabs.

Interesting how part of their celebration relates to the departure of the much (and usually wrongly) maligned immediate past President of the United States.

What evidence, beyond the candidate’s rhetoric, did they have that Barack Obama was an agent of change?

They were clearly not aware, as many conservatives reported in 2008, that the great Democratic hope had always been a loyal foot soldier in the Chicago Democratic machine.  In his twelve years as an elected official based in that city, Barack Obama failed to challenged its authority — as he failed to root out corrupt practices and cronyism that defined its government.

His record, as we have pointed out repeatedly, was at odds with his rhetoric.

We (that is, conservative and libertarian bloggers and pundits) told you that back in 2008.  We told you that you were voting for an image crafted by political consultants and projected onto a charismatic Chicago politician with a mellifluous speaking voice.   But, you were so eager to see George W. Bush replaced that you trusted the words of man who delighted in maligning that Republican, but about whom you knew very little.  And are only now seeing as he is today — and was back then.

Scandal central? Or a whole lot of talk that will amount to nothing?

As the scandals engulfing the Obama Administration have proliferated and “gotten legs” this week, many of the conservatives I know or whom I hear on the radio have started drawing comparisons with what happened under Nixon, bringing up the word “impeachment,” and hoping that as  it becomes evident that these activities were not accidents but part of a coordinated strategy, Obama will eventually resign, or at least some of those who hold key posts of power in this administration–such as Eric Holder–will resign and that the Administration will be hopelessly tainted as the truth becomes known.

I hear that talk, and I think, it would be nice, but I can’t see it happening.  Maybe Holder will resign.  Maybe.

I can imagine the press starting to subject the Obama Administration to a little more scrutiny in the future, but “a little more” than none is still only a little bit of scrutiny, hardly enough to make a significant difference in public opinion.  While the outrage surrounding all of this may be enough for the Republicans to hold the House and to gain control in the Senate in 2014, there will still be formidable problems, and we’ll still have a very divided country.  The low-information voters in the electorate will still be willing to give Obama the benefit of the doubt because most of them are either unwilling to see him for the cynical, partisan character he is, or they are unable to do so.

It is possible that after a year or two of scandals and after the outrage that is sure to follow the full implementation of Obamacare, Obama will end his second term with even lower approval ratings than George W. Bush ended his, but at this point, I think that’s about the most we can hope for, that, and maybe Holder’s resignation.  I’m not even sure any of this will derail the immigration bill, which is looking more and more like the next legislative disaster coming down the pike.

I’m not trying to be pessimistic, merely practical.  In the lead-up to the election in November, I knew that what happened  with the administration’s lies about Benghazi was an outrage, but after the election, it seemed evident to me that Obama, Hillary, and the entire administration were going to get away without any consequences.  The American voters had failed to demand answers and accountability and had just re-elected Obama.

Now that the scandals are starting to illustrate the kinds of things conservatives have been saying about Obama for years and years now, some liberals are upset with Obama, but others are busy trying to find more ways to blame conservatives for making an issue of the problems.   In one of the most ironic defenses of Obama I have encountered so far, David Axelrod offered the “incompetence” excuse, namely, that the government is just too big for Obama to really know what’s going on, an excuse we are sure to hear echoed in the days ahead.  Forgive me if I can’t forget that in November the American electorate rejected a man who was renowned for his management skills and his ability to lead large organizations successfully, all so they could re-elect the “community organizer.”

So what do our readers think?  Am I just being pessimistic about all this?  Is the investigation of these scandals likely to have real and significant consequences for our government, or are they a lot of talk that will amount to nothing, or at least nothing much?

The rumors of Barack Obama’s first-class temperament were invented out of whole cloth

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 2:48 am - May 2, 2013.
Filed under: Media Bias,Obama Watch

Remember back in the days when Barack Obama was promising a new kind of politics, that his supporters promised he would, through sheer force of his personality, transform the partisan divides which polarized our discourse and usher in a new age of civility.  The Democrat, many claimed, had a “both a first-class intellect and a first-class temperament.

He would rise above petty bickering and, in his own words, help “break [that] pattern in Washington where everybody is always looking for somebody else to blame.

Only problem Obama didn’t have much of a record acting in the way he had promised to.  And four years and three months as president have shown him to be quite the opposite of the transcendent leader he promised to be.  He, for example, blames others for his failures, whines about the problems he has to face, and questions the motives of his ideological adversaries.

Nowhere is this more manifest than in his public speeches and press conferences.  And he showed his peevish streak in his press conference earlier this week when he refused to take responsibility for his failure to compromise with Congress, responding to a question about his clout with Congress by saying that the questioner seemed ” to suggest that somehow these folks over there have no responsibilities and that my job is to somehow get them to behave.  That’s their job.

Yea, but, did this guy who wasn’t supposed to transcend political differences and want to break the blame-game that pervades in the nation’s capital reach out to Congress and try to avoid the sequester (which the journalist mentioned in his question)?  Couldn’t he, with his “first-class temperament” have managed to prod congressional leaders often at loggerheads to hammer out a compromise.

As James Taranto, in commenting on Tuesday’s press conference his Best of the Web column yesterday, put it:

. . . governing or legislating is more complicated. It requires both compromise and persuasion–the ability to yield to your adversaries and to make them feel it is in their interest to yield to you. It also requires a practical sense of both how your ideas will go over politically, how to make them go over favorably, and how they will actually work in practice.

Obama is sorely lacking in all these skills–which even his detractors must acknowledge makes his re-election an impressive feat.

To a very large extent then, Barack Obama lacks the very skills he purported to have in his bid for the White House, the very skills which would supposedly set him apart from the polarizing politics that needed changing. (more…)

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?

Why does Obama hate private charity?

Easy: As I’ve suggested before, Obama always wants to empower the State.

Howard Husock at Forbes writes about the Obama administration’s continuing attack on private charity. The attack is boringly technical because, naturally, the administration does not want people riled up:

The Administration has, since 2009, pushed unsuccessfully to allow only 28 cents on a dollar donated to charity to be deducted—even though the top tax rate for the wealthy donors who make most use of the deduction has been 35 percent. In the budget released today, the President again proposes to cap the charitable deduction at 28 percent—despite the fact that the top rate on the highest earners has increased to 39.6 percent.

So, a bunch of rich people wouldn’t see as much tax benefit from their charitable donations. “Who cares?”, says the lefty. Well, you should care, because:

When one taxes something more, of course, one gets less of it—and it’s likely that the current $168 billion in itemized charitable giving would decline…The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that the reduction in giving could be as high as $9 billion a year.

Husock’s piece is worth reading in full, for its good information. But I don’t think he quite grasps Obama’s motive.

The average private charity helps people better than government does. Usually, private charities are closer to the problem and spend money more efficiently. Leftists quietly hate the competition, in that they would rather see an expanded government program.

When the Left wants to take over (or destroy) something that private actors have been doing relatively well, the Left will propose some governmental program or rule change which seems small, technical, boring and even halfway reasonable, but which makes it harder for the private version to survive, and which sets a precedent for deeper changes to come. The slippery-slope approach.

That is why Obama keeps trying to get this tax change. If he can get this ‘reasonable’ change that only hurts rich people, he will have his bad precedent in place (for further steps to reduce or kill the charitable deduction).

In addition, he will have hurt private charities’ budgets, which means they will do less to help people, which means they will be a little bit less important in our society. I believe Obama prefers that, deep down. Because he always proposes the thing whose effects will make people more, rather than less, dependent on government.