The Rise and Fall of Hope and Change

The Rise and Fall of Hope and Change

Alexis de Toqueville

The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money.
Alexis de Tocqueville

The United States Capitol Building

The United States Capitol Building

The Constitutional Convention

The Constitutional Convention

The Continental Congress

The Continental Congress

George Washington at Valley Forge

George Washington at Valley Forge

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Me Being President

From The American Thinker:

November 29, 2010

Me Being President

By Jeffrey Folks

This fall, in the course of the ongoing tirade over taxing the rich, the president offered some informal remarks at a town hall meeting in Washington sponsored by CNBC. Obama was making the case that hedge fund managers should not be taxed at the same rates as their "secretaries" (I believe, Mr. President, they're called "administrative assistants" these days). That was when the real Barack Obama, grammatically speaking, slipped out.

"The notion that somehow me saying maybe you should be taxed more like your secretary when you're pulling home a billion dollars...I don't think is me being extremist or me being antibusiness," Obama explained.

Most readers with even a minimal sensitivity to the language will detect that something has gone awry here. Those who possess a decent high school education should be able to tell you why.

My ninth-grade English teacher would have marked up the sentence in her big, fat red pencil with a stern reminder that "a pronoun before a gerund uses the possessive form." She would then have assigned a couple hundred practice exercises for homework and insisted that they be turned in correct and on time. The young Obama, had he not been hanging out on the street smoking dope (as he claims to have been doing), would have spent half the night writing out sentences like "The idea of my campaigning on hope and change is pretty cool" or "My writing the dreams from my father will probably make me president someday."

Unfortunately, Obama seems to have missed that lesson on possessives. But it is not just that the president is case-challenged. He appears to have skipped a few other lessons as well.

There is, in fact, a clear difference between the president's command of English grammar when he is ad-libbing and when he is reading from a teleprompter. Obama's command of the language in his several books is also at variance with his impromptu performances. It is almost as if Obama had no hand in writing his own formal remarks and the books published under his name.

The abyss between Obama's prepared remarks and informal answers was on display at his recent meeting with students in Mumbai, India. Following his long-winded prepared remarks and those of Michelle, the president was asked about the meaning of "jihad." His answer is one of the most befuddled and incoherent presidential performances in recent memory. And once again, the rambling attempt to grasp at some sort of politically innocuous answer (innocuous to jihadists, that is) was accompanied by one grammatical slip after another.

Responding to a question about how he was implementing the principles of Gandhi, Obama stated, "I can't ignore hardships that may be suffering -- that may be suffered by somebody of a different nationality." Again, though, it's not just the slip of the tongue. It's the disturbing fact that our president is always more concerned about the hardships of "different nationalities" than he is about those of his own.

So it's not just Mumbai, and it's not just grammar. There is something troubling about a president who begins to speak of himself in the third person. In his news conference of July 22, 2009, Obama dealt with questions about health care reform. Attacking Republican opposition, he stated that "the politics may dictate that they don't vote for health care reform because they think, you know, it'll make Obama more vulnerable." Shades of Richard Nixon, here. "You'll be sorry. You won't have Obama -- er, Nixon -- to kick around."

Of course, all recent presidents have employed speechwriters. The last president to write his own speeches, I believe, was Calvin Coolidge. But all modern presidents have possessed at least a basic command of English grammar. Even those who were not college-educated, such as Harry Truman, at least graduated from high schools where the study of grammar and composition were prerequisites for graduation.

Obama has told us (in Dreams from My Father) that he was not a very serious student in high school or even in college. By his own admission, he was spending a lot more time on the street than in class. Since grammar and composition are usually covered in the years between the ninth grade and the freshman year of college, Obama's absence from class might account for his grammatical lapses.

I know that some would argue that grammar is the least of Obama's failings. And at a time when the president's approval ratings on handling of the economy and dealing with the deficit have slipped into the thirties, there seems to be wide agreement about that. But I would argue that Obama's failure to master English grammar and other elements of English composition, including larger elements such as consistency, coherence, and logic, has a great deal to do with the kind of person and president Obama is.

All students of English composition are taught, for example, to avoid false or crudely constructed comparisons. It is an elementary point of critical thinking, in fact, that one should avoid the setting up of "straw men" (a practice that is included among the "informal fallacies" of logic). Most students who attempt to use the straw man argument are soon set right by their instructors.

Obama must have missed this lesson as well since he constantly resorts to this crude form of argument. "There are those who are trying to steal our democracy." Really? Who are these shadowy democracy thieves? Aren't they closer to ACORN and SEIU than the United States Chamber of Commerce and Fox News?

Only a person with a somewhat breezy notion of logic could come up with the slogan "We are the ones we've been waiting for." Aside from the really creepy suggestion of narcissism, the sentence suggests an almost pathological condition of schizophrenia. How is it that one can be waiting for oneself unless the self is so divided or conflicted as to be split in half? Had the president studied English composition, he might have corrected the sentence to read something like this: "We, the left wing of the Democratic Party, are the ones the country has been waiting for." But that might have been a little too unambiguous for Obama's purposes.

There is something, however, even more troubling about a president whose thought process is imprecise and incoherent. That is the possibility that his mental limitations may translate into harmful policy decisions. I suppose that a national leader can get by with poor grammar if at the same time he possesses a sharp mind and common sense. Andrew Jackson, one of our greatest presidents, received only a patchy and irregular education, and Abraham Lincoln little more. But Barack Obama, who was awarded a law degree from Harvard, stammers and stumbles every time he addresses an audience without the aid of written remarks. If the president is unable to form a coherent sentence in the absence of a teleprompter, what must his mental life be like the rest of the time? That is a troubling thought, indeed.

Jeffrey Folks is author of many books and articles on American culture and politics.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Federal Pay Freeze A Typical Obama Gimmick

From The American Thinker:

November 30, 2010

Federal pay freeze a typical Obama gimmick

Rick Moran

While freezing the pay of federal workers is a good first step toward reducing the deficit, both the timing of the president's announcement and the fact that he had previously opposed this move calls into question Obama's motives.

This is especially significant when you consider the fact that he made this announcement less than 24 hours before meeting Republicans on the Hill:

Mr. Obama expressed optimism that the meeting with legislators would be a productive and fresh beginning. "My hope is starting today, we can begin a bipartisan conversation about our future," he said. "Everybody's going to have to cooperate. We can't afford to fall back onto the same old ideologies or the same stale sound bites."

The president's proposed pay freeze would wipe out plans for a 1.4 percent across-the-board raise in 2011 for 2.1 million federal civilian employees, including those working at the Defense Department. But the freeze would not affect the nation's uniformed military personnel. It would also mean no raise in 2012 for civilian employees.

The pay freeze will save $2 billion in the current fiscal year that ends in September 2011, $28 billion over five years and more than $60 billion over 10 years, according to Jeffrey Zients, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget and the government's chief performance officer. That represents just a tiny dent in a $1.3 trillion annual deficit but it offers a symbolic gesture toward public anger over unemployment, the anemic economic recovery and rising national debt.

Gimmicks and "signals" are the last refuge of scoundrel presidents. Beaten to a pulp in the mid term elections, Obama is seeking to deflect anger away from him. It won't work. Nor will it soften up GOP lawmakers who will no doubt let the president have it during their meeting on Tuesday.

What's scary is that he might actually believe that people will think he's an economic genius for taking this step. Obama is so cocooned right now that it is hard to tell just what kind of hold he has on reality. It should be an interesting session.

Posted at 12:05 AM

WikiLeaks And 2012

From The American Thinker;

November 30, 2010

Wikileaks and 2012

Michael Harlin

No doubt the leaking of diplomatic private communiqués is not the best thing that could happen to the United States. But it does do something for the Republican presidential hopefuls for 2012: it offers an opportunity for these candidates to make credible campaign foreign policy proposals.

Our Republican candidates for 2012 have an opportunity that George W. Bush did not have: a road map of what has been done by both Bush and Obama and thereby the chance to suggest credible alternatives to not repeat past foreign policy mistakes. And it places Obama or Secretary Clinton, should she change her mind and run, in the "also ran" category because they were both part of the problem.

This leak is a game changer for the Republicans and should not be wasted.

Posted at 01:52 AM

The After-Shocks Of The Democratic Shellacking Continue

From The American Thinker:

November 30, 2010

The aftershocks of the Democratic shellacking

Ed Lasky

The ripples from the Republicans painting the country red on Election Day continue to spread among the states. The sweep that brought Republicans to power in many states (the party picked up 690 seats in state legislatures -- and counting) will have manifold benefits far beyond the issue of redistricting Among the aftershocks from the political earthquake are defections of state Democrats from the party of Obama, Reid and Pelosi and their conversion into Republicans.

The Washington Post reports that Republicans continue running up the score even after the election as state Democrat politicians become Republicans:

Staggering Election Day losses are not the Democratic Party's final indignity this year. At least 13 state lawmakers in five states have defected to Republican ranks since the Nov. 2 election, adding to already huge GOP gains in state legislatures. And that number could grow as next year's legislative sessions draw near.

The defections underscore dissatisfaction with the Democratic Party - particularly in the South - and will give Republicans a stronger hand in everything from pushing a conservative fiscal and social agenda to redrawing political maps....

Twenty-one state legislative chambers in 16 states moved into GOP hands this year, and for some Democrats keeping a seat at the table means trading a "D" for an "R." Others, like Mike Millican of Alabama, one of those who joined the GOP last week, say that as the national Democratic Party has moved to the left, they've found themselves more in line with the Republican Party's political ideology...

This was a wave election," said Tim Storey, an elections expert with the National Conference of State Legislatures. "So you will probably see that wave continue with even more Democrats moving over as the impact of the election settles in."

Republicans now control both chambers of the state Legislature as well as the governorship in 21 states.

Heckuva job Barack, Nancy, and Harry!

Richard Baehr adds:

In a few Southern states (Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana), the GOP vote share among white voters is now approaching 90%. Close to 80% in Georgia and South Carolina. In some areas in the South, Dems are surviving only through transplant voters from the north -- especially in suburban areas in Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida.

Posted at 01:04 AM

Decision Time For Barack Obama

From AEI:

Decision Time for Barack Obama By John R. Bolton

Standpoint Magazine

Saturday, November 27, 2010

This article was published in the December issue of Standpoint Magazine.

America's system of separated powers is wondrous to behold. Even considering just the two elected branches, Congress and the Presidency, its complications and intricacies baffle foreigners and Americans alike. Moreover, the 50 states remain politically pivotal, especially immediately after the decennial census. Population changes among states shift their relative weights in the Electoral College, and control of state governments post-census can shape congressional districts and therefore election outcomes. Not surprisingly, interpreting the biennial elections between presidential years is both critical and highly uncertain. In 1994, an unexpected tsunami gave Republicans control of both houses of Congress for the first time since 1954, and was widely interpreted as signalling Bill Clinton's impending defeat in 1996. Nonetheless, Clinton won re-election easily. By contrast, the 2006 Republican "thumpin'", as George W. Bush described it, did indeed foreshadow Barack Obama's 2008 victory.

This November 2, Obama was not on anyone's ballot. During his first two years, he seemed indifferent to, or in denial about, the political firestorm growing around him. In January 2010, for example, Arkansas Congressman Marion Berry described Obama's candid remarks to the House Democratic caucus. Fearing the rising backlash against his programmes, especially health care, Democrats asked how they could avoid a 1994-type cataclysm. Obama answered: "Well, the big difference [between] here and 1994 is you've got me." Apart from unrestrained egotism, Obama's answer reflected awesome political misjudgment. Bill Clinton, who defeated a Republican incumbent with a 91 per cent approval rating following the first Gulf War, could easily have said exactly the same thing in 1994. Had Obama learned nothing?

Equally telling was Obama's blithe observation, also in January 2010, that he would rather be a "really good one-term President than a mediocre two-term President". Obama's seemingly casual response showed his confidence that his mere election was so historic that he had no need for an actual record of accomplishment. Moreover, his disdain never diminished for his fellow citizens, whom he once described as "clinging to their guns and religion" against the unknown. Other Democrats exhibited similar contempt for mere voters. In October, for example, Senator John Kerry deigned to observe about the common folks: "It's absurd. We've lost our minds. We're in a period of know-nothingism in the country, where truth and science and facts don't weigh in. It's all short-order, lowest-common-denominator, cheap-seat politics."

Now that 2010's voters have spoken, what will Obama, the first post-American President, do in the next two years? Are they his final two, as he heads towards a Jimmy Carter-like place in history?By November 2, however, Democratic candidates at every level were fleeing Obama's embrace. They deeply feared precisely what Republicans sought: a national referendum on his policies and performance. Obama played directly into their hands via a question from the Reverend Al Sharpton: "So even though your name isn't on the ballot, this is about your agenda and about the progress we've seen you begin to make over the past 20-odd months?" Obama responded unhesitatingly: "Absolutely." And how did he greet the prospect of massive Republican victories? On October 30, he mused: "We can spend the next two years arguing with one another, trapped in stale debates, mired in gridlock, unable to make progress in solving the serious problems facing our country...or we can do what the American people are demanding that we do. We can move forward." So much for a free market in ideas in the Obama era.

The most revealing crossfire came late in the campaign when the President pleaded, "If Latinos sit out the election instead of saying, 'We're gonna punish our enemies, and we're gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us'--if they don't see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election--then I think it's going to be harder." On election eve, Republican House leader, now Speaker-elect, John Boehner fired back: "Mr President, there's a word for people who have the audacity to speak up in defence of freedom, the Constitution and the values of limited government that made our country great. We don't call them 'enemies'. We call them 'patriots'." Hours before Boehner spoke, but after his prepared remarks were released to the media, Obama agreed he "probably" should not have used the word "enemies", hardly an upbeat campaign closing for a President. Despite Obama's last-minute retreat, this exchange of rhetorical salvoes may well foreshadow two difficult years ahead.

The other big 2010 political story was the Tea Party phenomenon and its long-range implications. The Tea Party's central focus, as its name implies, is reducing government taxation, spending and Federal control over the economy. It is truly a grassroots outpouring, not a structured, hierarchical monolith, calling to mind Will Rogers's famous quip: "I am not a member of any organised party--I am a Democrat." Many observers still do not comprehend what moves ordinary, middle-class Americans to become so vociferous. On November 1, for example, a Financial Times reporter referred in the first sentence of a "news" story to "the ultraconservative Tea Party movement". But, in fact, its growth is best understood simply as a precisely inverse reaction to Obama. In implementing the famous insight "Never let a serious crisis go to waste", he tried to jam 50-plus years of left-wing frustration through Congress under cover of responding to the 2008 economic crash. He succeeded in part and failed in part, so Tea Partiers will now focus on blocking further government expansion, while simultaneously seeking to roll back changes, such as in healthcare, Obama was able to make.

What happens for Tea Party backers in foreign and national security policy is less clear. Too many observers simply assume that self-styled Tea Party adherents will advocate massive cuts in defence spending and reducing the American presence overseas. If accurate, this would make the Tea Party little different from the Democrats' left wing, which refused to acknowledge even Afghanistan as a "good war", let alone support Bush's decision to overthrow Iraq's Saddam Hussein. But it is entirely consistent with conservative libertarianism to believe in both smaller government and strong national defence. The slogan "peace through strength" sustained the Right throughout the Cold War and Barry Goldwater's foreign policy manifesto was entitled "Why Not Victory?" rather than "Why Not Isolationism?" Tea Party followers are unambiguous about the UN and the secular religion of multilateralism. Across the movement, there is nary a glimmer of support for entrusting more clout to multilateral bodies, let alone anything even vaguely resembling a reduction of US sovereignty. There is, therefore, scant reason to see the Tea Party joining the Left to support a smaller US global role.

Now that 2010's voters have spoken, what will Obama, the first post-American President, do in the next two years? Are they his final two, as he heads towards a Jimmy Carter-like place in history? Or, in 2012, can he "do a Clinton" and win another term? Obama's choice between alternative paradigms is entirely in his hands. In one, he tracks Clinton's post-1994 approach, and moves to the centre. Clinton invented "triangulation", positioning himself between Republican congressional majorities on one hand and congressional Democrats on the other. By being (or at least appearing to be) both centrist and somewhat above the battle, Clinton successfully won re-election in 1996. Call this the pragmatic approach. By contrast, the ideological approach would see Obama continuing to pursue his initial leftist agenda: Europeanising the US health-care system, dramatically increasing Federal taxing and spending, expanding government regulation and control and pursuing priorities not yet enacted, such as further economic restructuring under the guise of protecting against "climate change". One certainty is that Obama will defend his early victories. Having spilled so much Democratic blood, it is inconceivable he will agree to dismantle, say, his own healthcare reform.

Obama will face stiff Republican opposition in 2012, and perhaps revolt from within his own party. Polling in October showed that, among Democrats, 47 per cent believed he should be challenged for renomination, while 51 per cent did not. Among all voters, 47 per cent favoured his re-election (down from 53 per cent in 2008), with 51 per cent opposed. These levels are stunning, especially since Obama was not matched against specific opponents (although for Democrats, Hillary Clinton may be the ghost of both Christmas Past and Christmas Future). Head-to-head, post-election polls show Obama losing to Republicans Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, but winning against Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin. No wonder Obama seems to be in denial.

Today, only Obama himself really knows which alternative he will choose. In a surreal November 3 press conference, Obama admitted he had taken a "shellacking", but that was little more than a statement of the obvious. He also said: "Over the last two years, we've made progress, but clearly too many people haven't felt that progress yet and they told us that clearly yesterday," and "I think we'd be misreading the election if we thought that the American people want to see us for the next two years relitigate arguments that we had over the last two years." Although he made the requisite post-election noises about co-operating with congressional Republicans, the underlying substance of his remarks pointed toward continuing ideological purity. And unmistakably, it showed Obama in continuing stark denial about American political reality.

The Republican and Tea Party election analysis is exactly the opposite: Obama badly misread his 2008 mandate, and his domestic policies ran contrary to the citizenry's real desires. America was and remains a centre-right nation that was simply fed up with Bush and Republican departures from their basic principles. Accordingly, now is the time to retrench, with government spending and Obama's healthcare reform first on the chopping block. Under this conservative view, shared by many Democrats, Obama's only hope is Bill Clinton-style pragmatism.

Critical, however, in Obama's choice of future direction, is the realm of foreign and national security policy. Obama's initial preoccupation has been relentlessly, unambiguously domestic, but this need not be the case from now on. Obama has made significant national-security decisions, but only when he had no alternative, when events forced his hand, as in Afghanistan. He has not acted with relish or conviction, other than his all-too-visible unease with exercising American power, even in support of palpable US interests.

It is a commonplace that national leaders, including presidents, frustrated on domestic issues turn their attention and energy to international relations. Thus, the prospect of domestic legislative gridlock for the next two years may cause even Obama to lift up his eyes from his community organiser past. And indeed, just three days after the election, he left Washington for an extended trip to Asia, as though symbolically fleeing a battlefield defeat. But shifting focus will not come easily for Obama and he will not necessarily see a potential political advantage. In the 2010 election, there was hardly a whisper of debate over foreign and national security policy. Even terrorist package bombs en route from Yemen the weekend before the election barely caused a ripple in the political maelstrom enveloping Obama and his party. If Republicans did not win a foreign-policy mandate, and with minimal electoral attention even to life-and-death questions like terrorism, why would Obama look outward?

Perhaps the shortest answer is that he may have no choice. Challenges to America have been rising despite, in fact because of, Obama's inattention. Terrorism manifestly continues to be a threat, the US is still fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, Pakistan's stability remains uncertain, rogue states like Iran and North Korea relentlessly seek nuclear weapons, the Arab-Israeli dispute is no closer to resolution, China and Russia are pursuing increasingly aggressive policies, and drug cartels in Mexico are spreading violence across the southern US border, just to name a few issues Obama has essentially tried to ignore. Here is where the constitutional separation of powers predominates, prevailing over November's Democratic electoral defeats, bad as they were for Obama. The Constitution confers on the president the initiative and principal responsibility for directing foreign policy and even Obama can avoid it for only so long. Two years may be the limit. However, his underlying strategic policy choice arises in foreign affairs as well as domestic: will we see a pragmatic Obama, or a full-ahead ideologue?

First up for the White House is deciding whether it can jam the "New START" arms-control treaty with Russia through Congress's November lame-duck session. Given the makeup of the incoming Senate in January, Obama either gets this treaty ratified beforehand, or he almost certainly never gets it at all. Prospects for the vote, which requires a Constitutional two-thirds of the Senate to approve the treaty, are dicey. Does Obama really want to invest an enormous amount of scarce political capital on an issue with no domestic constituency? And risk looking even weaker if he loses, as Clinton did when the Senate defeated the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 1999 (or Woodrow Wilson did when he lost the Treaty of Versailles in 1919)? Will traumatised Democratic Senators facing re-election in 2012 or 2014 really want to jump off this cliff? If Obama cannot get even this bilateral treaty ratified, his vision of "nuclear zero" will be essentially finished and one of his greatest "legacy" projects will lie in ashes. When this article appears in print, we will know how Obama proceeded, thus providing at least one piece of evidence whether he will act pragmatically or full-steam-ahead ideologically.

Looming next chronologically are decisions on Afghanistan and Iraq, starting with the long-scheduled December review of administration policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Reports from the region are confused, with encouraging signs mixed with more discouraging ones, not least of which was America's ally, President Hamid Karzai, freely admitting he was in regular, personal receipt of "bags of money" from Iran. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban are watching carefully. As their saying goes, "You have the watches, we have the time." Whether Obama decides to stand by his pledge to begin troop withdrawals from Afghanistan starting in summer 2011 will also foreshadow decisions on troop withdrawals from Iraq, and the larger question of America's overall role in the Middle East. If the U.S. presence is to decline dramatically, Arab states will reach conclusions about accommodating Iran that can only be negative for the West. Moreover, in terms of presidential election cycles, campaigning for the 2012 party nominations, and the risk of an internal Democratic challenge from Obama's Left, coincides precisely with the projected drawdown of substantial US forces from Afghanistan.

Significantly, decisions about Afghanistan strategy and troop levels will inevitably have a major impact on Pakistani political stability. Sixty-three years since partition and independence, Pakistani democracy remains fragile and the internal threat from radical Islam is growing, both in civil society and the military. Obama deserves credit for highlighting the continuing risks to Pakistan, which is certainly not an easy place to make progress against the jihadists. But the summer 2011 prospect of cutting and running from Afghanistan only underlines the risks of dangerous repercussion across the Durand Line. This is not the time to go wobbly. Should Pakistan, with its substantial arsenal of nuclear weapons, fall into the hands of radical Islamists, the proliferation implications would be profound, both on the subcontinent and worldwide.

And while Obama may not want to fight a "global war on terrorism", the terrorists are still waging it against us, as the sophisticated package bombs from Yemen proved. The number of "near misses" by the terrorists against America seems to be rising and accelerating. Already, the strains of the terrorism issue are affecting US politics, demonstrated most notably by the roaring controversy over the proposed Ground Zero mosque. With polling showing overwhelming opposition to the mosque, Obama made himself a political mess, irritating nearly everyone by his ambiguity and flip-flopping, and signalling that 2008's great campaigner has lost his sure touch. Just a single successful terrorist attack in the US would dominate the political scene indefinitely and, unlike Bush after 9/11, not necessarily to Obama's advantage.

The President's nearly two years of effort to restart direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians was never realistic and was not declared formally dead before November 3 only to avoid political embarrassment. Obama shares the basic European analysis that progress on Israel-Palestinian issues will assuage the Muslim world and reduce terrorism. This view has always been erroneous and in any case Obama has failed. There is no sign he has a Plan B, or that the chasm of disagreement between Israel and what passes for non-terrorist Palestinian leadership has any near-term prospect for resolution.

Persistent nuclear proliferation activities by Iran and North Korea should also be at the top of Obama's priorities. He has spent two years extending his hand to the rogue states, hoping for negotiations, to date without success. But even if Tehran and Pyongyang return to the bargaining table, they are no more likely today to give up their nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes than they have been during the previous ten years of failed negotiations. If North Korea keeps its nuclear arsenal, and Iran acquires one, their success will signal to every other would-be proliferator that it is open season for anyone with the money and the willpower to outlast the US. Both rogue states are global threats, co-operating extensively with each other on nuclear and ballistic missile matters and prepared, as in the case of Syria, to co-operate with others as well. North Korea has long shown its willingness to sell anything to anybody for hard currency, and Iran's (and Russia's) involvement with a nascent Venezuelan nuclear programme can only spell trouble ahead.

Speaking of the Western hemisphere, successive US Presidents have not paid adequate attention to Washington's nearest neighbours. The situation is darkening and not just because of Hugo Chávez. On the southern border, America's most pronounced problem may no longer be illegal immigration but the growing strength of Mexico's drug cartels. When Secretary of State Clinton said in September that Mexico reminded her of Colombia 20 years ago, she was, incredibly, explicitly contradicted by Obama within days. Not only is Mexico's drug violence (29,000 killed in the last four years in drug-related incidents) spilling into Arizona and Texas, but the very fabric of Mexican civil society is being torn apart. Already widespread police and judicial corruption is now exacerbated by increasing physical attacks on local officials and police forces. Even journalists are murdered or intimidated. Just as in Colombia two decades ago, the Mexican government may soon be unable to control large portions of its territory. If Colombia's drug cartels were threats to hemispheric stability and America, requiring major military operations to control, just think about such a cauldron directly abutting the southern border.

And then there are the personnel questions. The White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has already left to run for mayor of Chicago, replaced temporarily by a former Senate staffer. The Secretary of Defence Robert Gates has announced his early 2011 departure. General James Jones (former Marine Corps Commandant and Nato Supreme Commander) resigned as National Security Adviser, after an isolated and failed tenure. Say what you will about Jones's performance, but he was a man of accomplishment. His replacement is another career Democratic staffer. With heavyweight economics advisers such as Christina Romer and former Harvard president Larry Summers already history, can the Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner be far behind? Do other high-profile officials such as special envoys George Mitchell and Richard Holbrooke really plan to carry on?

Depending on events in Afghanistan, what of General David Petraeus, the successful leader of Bush's Iraq surge, and Obama's third ground commander in Afghanistan in under two years? Will Petraeus leave the army and stand for President or will Obama name him the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, thus sidetracking a potential political threat? Obama's first team is disappearing, replaced by pale imitations of real players. His lower staffing levels in the White House and State Department are more ideologically hard-core, thus perhaps presaging the more reflexive multilateralism favoured by Obama's enduring European supporters. But for a President in potentially desperate domestic political trouble, kudos from Europeans will mean little.

The big Washington guessing game is whether Hillary Clinton will leave State, perhaps to challenge Obama for the 2012 Democratic nomination, despite her recent disavowals. Whether she exits or not, Mrs Clinton has not been significant in major Administration decisions and often seems uncomfortable with her portfolio, except for economic and social development issues. Nonetheless, she and her husband remain one of the Democrats' most astute political teams, and their political careers are far from over.

Amid so much uncertainty, what emerges starkly is the singular importance of Obama the individual. As Harry Truman observed perceptively, the buck always stops with the President. But this presidency rests so much on the uniqueness of Obama--or at least it always has in his mind and that of his most devoted acolytes--that he alone knows the way ahead. And we can therefore be certain that, much as 2010 was a referendum on Obama's policies, 2012 will be a referendum on Obama himself.

John Bolton is a senior fellow at AEI.

Karma: SEIU Kicks Members' Kids To The Curb

From Red State:

Karma: SEIU Kicks Members’ Kids to the Curb

ObamaCare causes union to drop 6,000 children's health insurance coverage.

Posted by LaborUnionReport (Profile)

Saturday, November 27th at 5:45PM EST


You remember how ObamaCare was all about making health care more affordable and protecting the most vulnerable, right?

And, surely you remember how much money and resources (i.e., members’ dues) the purple behemoth known as the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) put into the fight for ObamaCare—even going so far as (allegedly) beating Kenneth Gladney at a St. Louis town hall meeting.

Heck, it was SEIU’s then president Andy Stern who pushed for the tactic known as “demon pass” that gave us final passage of ObamaCare, formally known as the Affordable Care Act.

Well, somehow we missed this last week:

One of the largest union-administered health-insurance funds in New York is dropping coverage for the children of more than 30,000 low-wage home attendants, union officials said. The union blamed financial problems it said were caused by the state’s health department and new national health-insurance requirements.

The fund is administered by 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union. Union officials said the state compelled the fund to start buying coverage from a third party, which increased premiums by 60%. State health officials denied forcing the union fund to make the switch, saying the fund had been struggling financially even before the switch to third-party coverage.

The fund informed its members late last month that their dependents will no longer be covered as of Jan. 1, 2011. Currently about 6,000 children are covered by the benefit fund, some until age 23.

The union fund faced a “dramatic shortfall” between what employers contributed to the fund and the premiums charged by its insurance provider, Fidelis Care, according to Mitra Behroozi, executive director of benefit and pension funds for 1199SEIU. The union fund pools contributions from several home-care agencies and then buys insurance from Fidelis.

Of course, when it comes to the SEIU, it must be someone else’s fault.

The union said in a statement that the state required the fund to participate in a new program — the Family Health Plus Buy-In Program — beginning in 2008. The union said it expected that by joining the program, many of its members would qualify for state assistance for health-insurance coverage. “Instead they raised insurance rate increases without any increase in funding, and then cut Medicaid funding to the same workers nine times in the last three years,” the union said in a statement.

And, more importantly, the union expects someone else to pay for their mistakes lobbying efforts.

“We hope the state of New York will do the right thing and provide the funding necessary for this most vulnerable population of direct caregivers,” the union said in a statement.

Karma. It has such a nice ring to it. Yet, it seems just too kind of a word to describe the SEIU’s dilemma.

It’s sort of like the SEIU made a big batch of Kool Aid, and now the members’ kids are the only ones drinking it.

[There's only so many waivers one can get from reality.]

[h/t Big Dog]


“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

Saturday, November 27, 2010

President Obama: It's Business, Not Personal

From The American Thinker:

November 28, 2010

President Obama, It's Business, Not Personal

By Cindy Simpson

Years ago, as a freshly recruited manager in an international corporation's headquarters, I was offered this friendly advice from my co-workers: The day we were hired, an imaginary bullet was fired, and we would spend the rest of our careers attempting to outrun, outmaneuver, or transfer around the world to avoid it. I soon found that for many, frustration or exhaustion would eventually overcome and they would leave, while some truly couldn't cut it and were fired. And frequently, a corporate reorganization, spurred by a restless board of directors and designed by pricey consultants, resulted in involuntary terminations from the top down.

With each new reorganization or management team would come plans for new marketing programs, cost efficiencies, and product improvements, accompanied by a shiny new Mission Statement, polished with feel-good phrases that fostered employee well-being and community service. Accounting reserves were recorded, the stock price adjusted, revised forecasts were prepared, and all would anxiously speculate whether achieved performance would be sufficient. Upper management was usually protected with contracts, but at the end of the day, if results failed to meet expectations, the board could eject any or all of them, their fall to earth cushioned with golden parachutes or severance packages. There were no guarantees.

In the corporate world it is understood: This is business: not personal.

President Obama has no comprehension of the phrase: "not personal." To him, everything is about Obama, and his definition of "we" is "me, myself and I." Never having had much of a real job other than campaigning and community organizing, he also doesn't grasp the concept of "business." Obama seems oblivious of his job description (defined by the oath of office), he displays scant loyalty to his company (America), and appears unconcerned with the product it produces (freedom and liberty).

Yes, fellow citizens (shareholders), Obama works for you. He was correct when he once offered, "You've got me," but now, several bills, regulations, lies, deals, executive orders and appointments later, we find he meant something much different than "I work for you."

In the corporate world, in-depth interviews with prospective employees are conducted to mitigate such surprises. Typically, a personnel department will thoroughly vet candidates before involving upper management in a hiring decision. It would be unimaginable to rely on an initial application that failed to require basic credentials, to seriously consider a candidate who instead brought with him a flowery autobiography and a compilation of his own favorite speeches, or to depend on tingly-legged interviewers who asked no discerning questions. Whether liberal or conservative, most Americans now realize they elected a man not resembling the one advertised by the mainstream media or pictured in their own minds, drawn on the blank screen that Obama offered.

Obama's primary job, which he swore twice to do as he took office, is to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution. It is not to look and act like the Newsweek cover parody of the Hindu god, the destroyer Nataraja, juggling depictions of "all things" while dancing over a representation of ignorance. Instead of embracing our Constitution, Obama has danced around it. He has failed to defend it and our country from competitors -- enemies both within and without our borders. Instead of standing up to them for us, Obama has bowed and apologized.

Obama appears alien, even adversarial at times, to the America he works for, and his heart seems to be someplace else. As with any corporate executive, as the man at the top, he sets the tone for the rest of us, and the best interests of all shareholders (not just the ones in his party), should be his top priority, all while operating inside the parameters of power granted him. He must be the number-one champion of his company's product -- the assurance and protection of our God-given rights of freedom and liberty. And he must faithfully represent his company, not some fundamentally transformed entity audaciously designed in his own mind.

Now we wonder what exactly Obama's "mission statement" is and just what product he's really peddling. For a man obviously more comfortable reading speeches than actually sitting behind the desk, his admission that the poll-shellacking was due to his own communication ineffectiveness appeared humbling, but in the days since, his actions imply only an erroneous assessment of the level of stupidity of the population. His marketing skills, again on full display during the Asian tour, are less than lackluster. And the value of our shares in the American dream continues to suffer under his economic policies.

Obama has attempted to hide behind others, identified messengers to "shoot," and complained about the sorry state of affairs in the Presidential office left for him to tackle; but as one who continually takes everything personally, after two years in office he has no one left to blame but himself. He finds a floundering U.S. buck still on his desk and the limelight focused squarely on him. But now that limelight, instead of resembling a halo, is beginning to look like an interrogation light, one that will come into greater focus as Rep. Darrell Issa becomes chairman of the House Oversight Committee.

Corporate America knows how to handle an employee, even a CEO, who is inept, bypasses the rules, denigrates its product and stockholders, devalues its worth, or diminishes its public image; but most handle firings with a little more tact than Trump. Typically, if the termination is related to performance rather than reorganization, a personnel department will counsel the firing manager to focus on one key issue and document it thoroughly. And on the appointed day, security guards with stacks of boxes stand by in the hallway while the deed is done.

In the private sector, this is business as usual; while in government, such terminations, even when well-deserved, are rare. The Constitution does contain specific provisions for removal of a sitting President -- attesting to the fact that the office is much more special than the person occupying it. In politics, nothing is personal. Thomas Jefferson once said: "When a man assumes a public trust, he should consider himself as public property." Bush, in his new book and recent interviews, tactfully and humbly justifies and defends, rather than himself, "the office," noting its significance and symbolism on both the worldwide stage and to the citizens it represents.

The list of grievances against President Obama is long; but still-too-recent recollections of the Bill Clinton debacle, coupled with the fact that the mainstream media is in bed with Obama, make the dream of an impeachment more than a Republican public relations nightmare. Jeffrey Kuhner, writing in The Washington Times last July, made a compelling case in favor of an Obama impeachment, and when measured by the detrimental impact on our economy and freedoms, the wrongdoing by this President far outweighs lies told, even under oath, of an escapade in the Oval Office. However, an impeachment, while mentally satisfying to many of us, would most likely not result in Obama's removal from office, and does nothing to heal our country's woes.

An emboldened Congress must instead keep it strictly business and focus on key issues, starting with repealing, defunding, and undoing as much as possible before our economy is strangled beyond repair. Investigations must be prioritized, commence immediately and be swift and thorough, and whether or not they lead to an impeachment, such scrutiny would serve an industrial-strength blow to this administration's power.

Standing by in the hallway, sleeves rolled up and eager to begin the task of cleaning up the havoc wreaked on the assembly line, await the American people, ready to roll, a stack of boxes in hand.

Palin Sends A Message

From The American Thinker:

November 27, 2010

Palin sends a message

Ethel C. Fenig

Sarah Palin is just a small town, small college educated girl from a backwoods state that borders Russia rather than those glitzy urban centers of Indonesia, Hawaii and dishonest Chicago sent a message:

My fellow Americans in all 57 states, the time has changed for come. With our country founded more than 20 centuries ago, we have much to celebrate - from the FBI's 100 days to the reforms that bring greater inefficiencies to our health care system. We know that countries like Europe are willing to stand with us in our fight to halt the rise of privacy, and Israel is a strong friend of Israel's. And let's face it, everybody knows that it makes no sense that you send a kid to the emergency room for a treatable illness like asthma and they end up taking up a hospital bed. It costs, when, if you, they just gave, you gave them treatment early, and they got some treatment, and ah, a breathalyzer, or an inhalator. I mean, not a breathalyzer, ah, I don't know what the term is in Austrian for that...

Of course, the paragraph above is based on a series of misstatements and verbal gaffes made by Barack Obama (I didn't have enough time to do one for Joe Biden).

Posted at 12:05 AM

Despite Latest Propaganda...Doctors Forced To Cut Elderly Patients Due To Medicair Costs

From Gateway Pundit and Right Network:

11:35 AM (11 hours ago)Despite Latest Propaganda… Doctors Forced to Cut Elderly Patients Due to Medicare Costsfrom Gateway Pundit by Jim HoftYou just have to love the propaganda pushed by this radical administration…

The latest taxpayer funded Medicare ad running on television claims that American seniors can expect all kinds of new services and goodies now that Obamacare has passed.

Watch this ridiculous ad then read the article below

Too bad it’s only an ad.

The reality is that doctors today are forced to shift their practices away from seniors due to cuts in Medicare.

The Washington Post reported:

Want an appointment with kidney specialist Adam Weinstein of Easton, Md.? If you’re a senior covered by Medicare, the wait is eight weeks.

How about a checkup from geriatric specialist Michael Trahos? Expect to see him every six months: The Alexandria-based doctor has been limiting most of his Medicare patients to twice yearly rather than the quarterly checkups he considers ideal for the elderly. Still, at least he’ll see you. Top-ranked primary care doctor Linda Yau is one of three physicians with the District’s Foxhall Internists group who recently announced they will no longer be accepting Medicare patients.

“It’s not easy. But you realize you either do this or you don’t stay in business,” she said.

Doctors across the country describe similar decisions, complaining that they’ve been forced to shift away from Medicare toward higher-paying, privately insured or self-paying patients in response to years of penny-pinching by Congress.

Democrats just cut over $500 billion from Medicare with their new Obamacare health plan. Good luck seniors finding a doctor. Things are only going to get worse.

Friday, November 26, 2010

None Dare Call It Desperation

From Town Hall and The Patriot Update:

Michael Gerson

None Dare Call It Desperation

Email Michael Gerson
Columnist's Archive Share Buzz 0diggsdigg

Sign-Up WASHINGTON -- Following two years of poor economic performance and electoral repudiation, liberalism is casting around for narratives to explain its failure -- narratives that don't involve the admission of inadequacies in liberalism itself.

For some, the solution is to lay the blame on President Obama. He hasn't been liberal enough. He can't communicate. "I cannot recall a president," says Robert Kuttner in the Huffington Post, "who generated so much excitement as a candidate but who turned out to be such a political dud as a chief executive." Obama is "fast becoming more albatross than ally."

This is an ideological movement at its most cynical, attempting to throw overboard its once-revered leader to avoid the taint of his problems.

But there is an alternative narrative, developed by those who can't shake their reverence for Obama. If a president of this quality and insight has failed, it must be because his opponents are uniquely evil, coordinated and effective. The problem is not Obama but the ruthless conspiracy against him.

So Matt Yglesias warns the White House to be prepared for "deliberate economic sabotage" from the GOP -- as though Chamber of Commerce SWAT teams, no doubt funded by foreigners, are preparing attacks on the electrical grid. Paul Krugman contends "Republicans want the economy to stay weak as long as there's a Democrat in the White House." Steve Benen explains, "We're talking about a major political party ... possibly undermining the strength of the country -- on purpose, in public, without apology or shame -- for no other reason than to give themselves a campaign advantage in 2012." Benen's posting was titled, "None Dare Call it Sabotage."

So what is the proof of this charge? It seems to have something to do with Republicans criticizing quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve. And opposing federal spending. And, according to Benen, creating "massive economic uncertainty by vowing to gut the national health care system."

One is tempted to respond that it is a trillion dollars in new debt, the prospect of higher taxes and a complicated, disruptive health reform law that have created "massive economic uncertainty." For the purposes of this argument, however, it is sufficient to say that all these economic policy debates have two sides.

Yet this is precisely what the sabotage theorists must deny. They must assert that the case for liberal policies is so self-evident that all opposition is malevolent. But given the recent record of liberal economics, policies that seem self-evident to them now seem questionable to many. Objective conditions call for alternatives. And Republicans are advocating the conservative alternatives -- monetary restraint, lower spending, lower taxes -- they have embraced for 30 years.

It is difficult to overstate how offensive elected Republicans find the sabotage accusation, which Obama himself has come very close to making. During the run-up to the midterm election, the president told a town hall meeting in Racine, Wis.: "Before I was even inaugurated, there were leaders on the other side of the aisle who got together and they made the calculation that if Obama fails, then we win." Some Republican leaders naturally took this as an attack on their motives. Was the president really contending that Republican representatives want their constituents to be unemployed in order to gain a political benefit for themselves? No charge from the campaign more effectively undermined the possibility of future cooperation.

The sabotage accusation, once implicit, is now direct among panicked progressives. Part of the intention seems to be strategic -- to discourage Obama from considering Clintonian ideological triangulation. No centrist concessions, the argument goes, will appease Republicans who hate the president more than they love the country. So Obama should double down on liberalism, once again.

It is very bad political advice. It also indicates a movement losing contact with political reality. When an ideology stumbles, its adherents can always turn to alcohol -- or to conspiracy theories. It is easier to recover from alcohol. Conspiracy thinking is not only addictive, it is tiresome. It precludes the possibility of interesting policy debate or genuine disagreement -- how can you argue with a plot?

In 1964, John Stormer, a sabotage theorist of the right, came out with the book "None Dare Call it Treason," which asked: "Is there a conspiratorial plan to destroy the United States into which foreign aid, planned inflation, distortion of treaty-making powers and disarmament all fit?" Stormer's progressive descendants are just as discrediting to the ideas they claim to serve.

Michael Gerson

Michael Gerson writes a twice-weekly column for The Post on issues that include politics, global health, development, religion and foreign policy. Michael Gerson is the author of the book "Heroic Conservatism" and a contributor to Newsweek magazine.

Barack Obama: Radical-In-Chief

From Town Hall and The Patriot Update:

Guy Benson

Barack Obama: Radical-In-Chief?

Email Guy Benson
Columnist's Archive Share Buzz 0diggsdigg

Sign-Up Have you ever heard of a group called UNO of Chicago? No, not the deep dish pizza chain; the Left-wing community organizing outfit. How about the Midwest Academy? Does the name James Cone ring a bell? If you’re like most Americans – including many who consider themselves fairly well informed about President Obama’s background and associations – you’re probably drawing a blank on all three questions. That’s why Stanley Kurtz’s new book, Radical-In-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism, is so important.

The key word in the title is “untold.” Kurtz, a respected investigative journalist and public intellectual, pored over reams of heretofore unseen documents and data from the president’s enigmatic past, and concluded that Barack Obama has been a movement socialist for much of his adult life. Despite its explosive title, the book is neither conspiratorial in nature, nor sensationalistic. It’s well-researched, and meticulously documented.

I sat down with Kurtz for a two-hour interview that will air in its entirety this Sunday evening on my radio program. For a flavor of the interview, here’s a partial transcript of just one exchange from our discussion, in which Kurtz details Obama’s relationship to the leader of a radical, ACORN-style group called UNO of Chicago:


GB: It’s 1985, and Barack Obama lands in Chicago, at which point he becomes caught up in an alphabet soup of community organization groups. Some of them, of course, I’d heard of – including ACORN – but others that I had not, such as UNO. Tell us about UNO, because that was one of the bigger eye-openers to me as I read [Radical In Chief].

SK: That is one of the more amazing things I stumbled across. Who knew that Obama had been part of a community organization that no one had ever heard of before? And yet Obama really was closely connected to a top leader…of a group called UNO Chicago. ‘UNO’ standing for “United Neighborhood Organizations.”

GB: This was a really poisonous group.

SK: They were hardcore Alinskyites. They really were kind of a predominantly Hispanic counterpart to ACORN, in that they were extremely confrontational in their tactics. They were famous, for example, for having trapped Republican Illinois Senator Charles Percy in a ladies’ bathroom to punish him. He was supposed to debate [Democrat] Paul Simon when they were running against each other [in 1984].

GB: And UNO members chased him into a women’s restroom?

SK: That’s right. They trapped him inside.

GB: Over what?

SK: He had refused to attend a forum they had set up. He quite rightly realized it was a set-up, that they were working with Simon, and that there would have been orchestrated boos and attacks in order to embarrass him.

GB: Orchestrated boos. This is something you wrote about in the book – where [UNO] would almost conduct training sessions about how to intimidate and bully public officials at meetings. It would be very carefully choreographed. The person would get up there to try to make his case, and he would be shouted down. You also said that one of the other things they’d try to do is box public officials into corners and force them to commit one way or another – yes or no – on some sort of question. They thought that dichotomy benefited them either way, no matter how they answered. Explain that.

SK: This was all the strategy of a fellow named Greg Galluzzo, who was very much following Alinsky’s theory of community organizing. He was a mentor to Obama. He was the founder of this radical group, UNO of Chicago. Obama’s own community organization, the Developing Communities Project, was an offshoot of UNO of Chicago. Galluzzo’s idea was: If you could trap a public official into an immediate yes or no answer, you would win either way. If you’re asking this person for money, which is what they usually were doing, if he says “yes,” you get the money. But if he says “no” – a distinct “no” instead of “maybe,” or “let’s look into this” – then you can infuriate the organization.

GB: They become, in their words, “an enemy.” It’s much easier to say, “This is an enemy of the community.” Any opportunity for subtlety or a nuanced answer that went beyond one word, they would do everything that they could to avoid that…because that sort of answer makes it more difficult to agitate over.

SK: That’s right. These tactics were intentionally polarizing. Think about that word, enemy, and what Barack Obama just recently said so controversially to a mostly Hispanic audience about “punishing their enemies.” That was a slip, revealing what Obama had been taught for years. That was not some one-off coincidental word that he happened to be using. Galluzzo’s and Alinsky’s whole idea was that you identify targets or enemies…And what Galluzzo also said was, “Present yourself as a pragmatist. Present yourself as someone who is beyond ideology, but then use polarizing tactics”…When you really know what Galluzzo is all about, you can get the real story on what Obama did back then.

GB: Galluzzo, I think, is one of the more odious characters in the book.

SK: And his name is disguised in [Obama’s first auto-biography], Dreams From My Father, where Obama changes the names of key characters, and who compresses characters. I argue in the book that he particularly did this with his community organizing mentor [character] because he had about three mentors, and he pulled them all into one character…because if he had developed someone whose identity who clearly was Galluzzo, it would have gotten him into some trouble, because Galluzzo was so notorious.

GB: I want to talk more about UNO of Chicago, and I’ll do so, probably, at the expense of talking more about ACORN. A lot of people already know about ACORN. No one knows about UNO. Just to illustrate who these people are, there is a school called “Ninos Heroes.”…It did not exist, then [UNO] agitated to get it built, and to secure its funding, which they did. And then they demanded that it be named “Ninos Heroes.” Explain how that process unfolded, and why is it so outrageous that they actually succeeded?

SK: Well, UNO of Chicago, as I mentioned, was a predominantly Hispanic organization. The truth is, while we don’t have exact numbers, a very large proportion of the organization was actually made up of illegal immigrants. In fact, the organization had to abandon a voter registration campaign it had started to impress politicians when it realized that such a vast portion of its membership was not eligible to register to vote. So first we had UNO of Chicago, with all of these illegal immigrants, besieging various politicians and demanding the expenditure of public funds for a school. When the school was finally granted, they decided that it ought to be called “Ninos Heroes” – or “Heroic Children.” These heroic children were famous in Mexico for having stood up to the US Army during the Mexican-American war. Now, there were a lot of patriotic Mexican-Americans in Chicago who had served in the US Military…They were extremely angry.

GB: [Uno of Chicago] wanted to name a school after literal enemies of the United States military?

SK: Literally. That’s right. But still, UNO of Chicago won, and the school was named Ninos Heroes because UNO kept running these confrontations against school board members at their homes.


Guy Benson

Guy Benson is's Political Editor.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Cheney Takes a Swipe At Obama During Ground-Breaking Ceremony: "This may Be The Only Shovel-Ready Project In America"

From Gateway Pundit and Right Network:

Nov 16, 2010 8:18 PMCheney Takes Swipe At Obama During Groundbreaking Ceremony: “This May Be the Only Shovel Ready Project in America” (Video)from Gateway Pundit by Jim HoftA slimmed Dick Cheney took a swipe at Barack Obama today at the groundbreaking ceremony of the Bush Library:

“This may be the only shovel ready project in America.”

CBS has more on Cheney’s speech today.

At groundbreaking ceremony in Dallas for the George W. Bush Presidential Center today, former Vice President Dick Cheney said “history is beginning to come around” to a more positive view of former President George W. Bush…

…He spoke admiringly of Mr. Bush’s actions in the wake of the Sept. 11th attacks, telling the former president that “because you were determined to throw back the enemy, we did not suffer another 9/11 or something even worse.”

Cheney, who (unlike Mr. Bush) has been a vocal critic of President Obama, also took a shot at the current administration. Speaking of his expectation that construction would move quickly on the presidential center following the groundbreaking, Cheney quipped that “this may be the only shovel ready project in America.” The reference was to the Obama-supported stimulus package that Republicans have criticized as ineffective.

It must really hurt those democrats to know that Cheney’s right.

More… Sondrak has the photo of the day.

The referenced CBS article/coverage:

November 16, 2010 1:41 PM

Dick Cheney: History "Beginning to Come Around" on Bush

Posted by Brian Montopoli 565 comments .

ShareE-mailPrintFont . Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush, Laura Bush and Dick Cheney at a groundbreaking for the George W. Bush Presidential Center, November 16, 2010.

(Credit: CBS) At groundbreaking ceremony in Dallas for the George W. Bush Presidential Center today, former Vice President Dick Cheney said "history is beginning to come around" to a more positive view of former President George W. Bush.

Cheney said that Mr. Bush, whose approval rating upon leaving office was just 22 percent, always understood that "judgments are a little more measured" with the passage of time. He added that Americans "can tell a decent, goodhearted stand up guy when they see him."

Cheney lauded Mr. Bush as a president who refused "to put on airs," stating that he was thrilled to find that the most powerful person he knew was "among the least pretentious." He said Mr. Bush was someone who could "walk with kings, yet keep the common touch," adding that "there were no affectations about him at all - he treats everyone as an equal."

He spoke admiringly of Mr. Bush's actions in the wake of the Sept. 11th attacks, telling the former president that "because you were determined to throw back the enemy, we did not suffer another 9/11 or something even worse."

Cheney, who (unlike Mr. Bush) has been a vocal critic of President Obama, also took a shot at the current administration.

Speaking of his expectation that construction would move quickly on the presidential center following the groundbreaking, Cheney quipped that "this may be the only shovel ready project in America." The reference was to the Obama-supported stimulus package that Republicans have criticized as ineffective.

Mr. Bush, dressed in a suit affixed with an American flag pin and a blue tie, followed Cheney to the podium. The former president said Cheney had been "the right pick" for vice president in 2000 and told an enthusiastic audience that he is "proud to call him friend." (In his book, Mr. Bush writes that he considered replacing Cheney in 2004.)

Mr. Bush, who noted he has been doing interviews to "peddle my book," spoke of the accomplishments of his presidency, among them helping AIDS patients, aiding struggling societies and assisting storm victims..

(at left, watch George and Laura Bush interviewed on CBS' "Sunday Morning")

He said he could "remember vividly young girls going to school in Afghanistan and voters waving purple fingers in the air," and said his decisions in office were guided in part by the belief that "freedom is universal."

Mr. Bush also lauded the power of free markets, and drew particular applause when he said "we believe you can spend your money better than the United States government can spend your money."

He added that he supports "engagement in the world" on the part of the United States and said that leaders have a responsibility to "do what is necessary and right" even if it isn't popular.

"I really don't miss much about Washington, but I do miss being your commander in chief," the former president said.

Among the other speakers at the groundbreaking for presidential center, which is located on the campus of Southern Methodist University, were Condoleezza Rice and Laura Bush. The audience included soldiers from nearby Fort Hood, donors to the center and former Bush administration officials including Ari Fleisher, Josh Bolten, Karen Hughes and Dan Bartlett.

George W. Bush Content with His Decisions and New Low-Key Life

The presidential center, which the former president said will be guided by his core principles, will have three components: An archive, museum, and the policy institute.

The archive will include the documents and records of Mr. Bush's time in office, and will house millions of documents, thousands of boxes of documents and hundreds of millions of emails, as Mr. Bush explained in November.

The museum, he said at the time, will tell the story of the Bush presidency "through my most consequential decisions."

"Visitors will see the bullhorn I used in my first visit to Ground Zero, a replica of my Oval Office, and our very own 'Texas Rose Garden,'" he said.

The policy institute, which will be called the George W. Bush Institute, will be "a vibrant hub of principled thought and practical action," the former president added. The institute has already begun work, and one of its focuses has been a Laura Bush-led initiative to empower women and girls around the world.

Mr. Bush said today that the $300 million center, which is planned to be 225,000 square feet, is already fully paid for via donations. It is scheduled to open by 2013.

The Ground-Breaking Ceremony For The George W. Bush Presidential Center

FromFreedom's Lighthouse:

Nov 16, 2010 9:22 PMGroundbreaking Ceremony for George W. Bush Presidential Center – Complete Video 11/16/10from Freedom's Lighthouse by BrianHere is complete video of the ceremony held today on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas to mark the groundbreaking for the George W. Bush Presidential Library. The video is courtesy KWES Channel 9 in Midland/Odessa, Texas. They did a fantastic job covering this event:

PART 1 – Preview/Introduction

PART 2 – Preview/Introduction

PART 3 – Ceremony Begins

PART 4 – Description of the Presidential Center; Remarks by SMU President; Remarks by Condoleezza Rice Begin

PART 5 – Condoleezza Rice Remarks continued; Remarks by former VP Dick Cheney

PART 6 – Remarks by former President George W. Bush

PART 7 – Remarks by former First Lady Laura Bush

PART 8 – Wrapup Report on Groundbreaking Ceremony; Interview with Andy Card

Dude, Where's My Obamacare Waiver?

From Michelle Malkin:

Dude, where’s my Obamacare waiver?

By Michelle Malkin • November 17, 2010 03:15 AM

My column today takes a closer look at the Obamacare Waiver-mania! phenomenon, which I spotlighted over the weekend. I’ve called dozens of companies and unions on the HHS waiver list. You won’t be surprised to learn that most refused to speak on the record or failed to call me back. Torquemada Sebelius sure knows how to keep them quiet. But, as you’ll see below, a few did respond to me and a few others have bravely spoken out about how the federal health care regulations would have shut down their affordable health care plans.

One company official expressed concern to me that media coverage was demonizing businesses who applied for the waivers. I certainly don’t see these waiver applicants as villains. They were potential victims of top-down government mandates and they did what they needed to do to survive. As for the unions who all pushed hard to ram Obamacare down America’s throat and then rushed to the front of the line for tax and regulatory exemptions, thanks for proving what an ill-fated scheme the federal health care takeover was from the get-go.

Now, it’s up to all of you to spread the word, call your congresscritters, and send some choice words to the White House: Dude, where’s my Obamacare waiver?


Dude, where’s my Obamacare waiver?

by Michelle Malkin

Creators Syndicate

Copyright 2010

More than one million Americans have escaped the clutches of the Democrats’ destructive federal health care law. Lucky them. Their employers and labor representatives wisely applied for Obamacare waivers earlier this fall and got out while the getting was good. Now, it’s time for Congress to create a permanent escape hatch for the rest of us. Repeal is the ultimate waiver.

As you’ll recall, President Obama promised repeatedly that if Americans liked their health insurance plan, they could keep it. “Nobody is talking about taking that away from you,” the cajoler-in-chief assured. What he failed to communicate to low-wage and part-time workers across the country is that they could keep their plans — only if their companies begged hard enough for exemptions from Obamacare’s private insurance-killing regulations.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website, at least 111 waivers have now been granted to companies, unions and other organizations of all sizes who offer affordable health insurance or prescription drug coverage with limited benefits. Obamacare architects sought to eliminate those low-cost plans under the guise of controlling insurer spending on executive salaries and marketing.

It’s all about control. If central planners can’t dictate what health benefits qualify as “good,” what plans qualify as “affordable” and how health care dollars are best spent, then nobody can. The ultimate goal, of course: precipitating a massive shift from private to government insurance.

McDonald’s, Olive Garden, Red Lobster and Jack in the Box are among the large, headline-garnering employers who received the temporary waivers. But perhaps the most politically noteworthy beneficiaries of the HHS waiver program: Big Labor.

The Service Employees Benefit Fund, which insures a total of 12,000 SEIU health care workers in upstate New York, secured its Obamacare exemption in October. The Local 25 SEIU Welfare Fund in Chicago also nabbed a waiver for 31,000 of its enrollees. SEIU, of course, was one of Obamacare’s loudest and biggest spending proponents. The waivers come on top of the massive sweetheart deal that SEIU and other unions cut with the Obama administration to exempt them from the health care mandate’s onerous “Cadillac tax” on high-cost health care plans until 2018.

Other unions who won protection from Obamacare:

– United Food and Commercial Workers Allied Trade Health and Welfare Trust Fund

– International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union No. 915

– Asbestos Workers Local 53 Welfare Fund

– Employees Security Fund

– Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 123 Welfare Fund

– United Food and Commercial Workers Local 227

– United Food and Commercial Workers Local 455 (Maximus)

– United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1262

– Musicians Health Fund Local 802

– Hospitality Benefit Fund Local 17

– Transport Workers Union

– United Federation of Teachers Welfare Fund

– International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (AFL-CIO)

– Plus two organizations that appear to be chapters of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA)

(The list of most recently approved refugees is here.)

Several of these labor organizations did not respond to requests for comment about their waivers. But Jay Blumenthal, financial vice president of the Local 802 Musicians Health Fund in New York, did explain to me: “We got grandfathered in” (his description for getting a pass) because “things were moving so fast” and “we need time now to prepare for the law.” In other words: Policy cramdowns first, political fixes later. A supporter of Obamacare, Blumenthal told me he “sees no irony, no,” in unions supporting the very health care “reform” from which they are now seeking relief.

Chris Rodriguez, director of human resources at Fowler Packing Company in California’s San Joaquin Valley, sees things a little differently. Fowler pursued an HHS waiver because their low-wage agricultural workers would have lost the basic coverage his company has voluntarily offered for years. “We take care of our employees, and we warned (health care officials that) if they imposed this, large numbers of workers would lose access to affordable coverage,” he told me. Rodriguez said he’s grateful the firm won a waiver, but he did not lose sight of the fact that the very policies passed to increase health insurance access are having the opposite effect: “That’s our government at work.”

Indeed, some prominent government officials who lobbied hardest for Obamacare are now also joining waiver-mania — including liberal Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, who has been pushing for an individual mandate exemption for his state of Oregon, and Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, who is pushing to waive Obamacare’s burdensome 1099 reporting requirements of small businesses.

Fearful of retribution by HHS Secretary and chief inquisitor Kathleen Sebelius, who has threatened companies speaking out about Obamacare’s perverse consequences, many business owners who obtained waivers refused to talk to me on the record. One said tersely: “We did what we had to do to survive.”

A new House GOP majority now has the chance to protect the rest of America from this regulatory monstrosity. We want out.

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The New York Times Is With Obama To The Bitter End

From The Ameerican Thinker:

November 18, 2010

New York Times with Obama to the Bitter End

By Kim Zigfeld

The Obama administration is coming apart at the seams, with only the most recklessly dishonest of its partisans, among them New York Times reporters, left to defend it. The devil, you know, is in the details.

On September 13, 2010, for instance, First Lady Michelle Obama gave a speech to the National Restaurant Association convention in Washington, D.C. In it, she called for a healthier diet for children and condemned, among other things, the overuse of cheese therein:

It starts with offering healthier options designed specifically for kids. And today, no matter what kind of restaurant you visit -- whether it's Italian, French, Mexican, American -- most kids' menus look pretty much the same. And trust me, we've seen a lot of them. One local survey found that 90 percent of those menus include mac and cheese -- our children's favorite; 80 percent includes chicken fingers; 60 includes burgers or cheeseburgers.

But if you Google "Michelle Obama mac and cheese," you will not find her speech prominently referenced. Far more popularly associated with this phrase is a recipe page from the Chicago Sun-Times which reprints the First Lady's own recipe for the dish. The dish calls for the addition of four cups of cheese and a cup of heavy cream.

If you look a little harder, you'll find that Mrs. Obama's husband is a pretty big fan of cheese, too. So much so, in fact, that his Department of Agriculture helped Domino's Pizza develop a $12-million marketing campaign to tout its adding 40% more cheese to its pizzas -- failing to mention that one slice from such a new-and-improved Obama Pie could contain two-thirds of an entire day's recommended allowance for saturated fat.

With the Obamas, you see, it's "do as we say, not as we do."

That's if you can figure out what Obama is saying, of course. As even arch-liberal Obamaphile Frank Rich of the Times admits, "[t]he plot of Obama's presidency has been harder to follow than 'Inception.' The president's travails are not merely a 'communications problem.' They're also a governance problem."

But it goes without saying that there are still a number of hardcore Obama fanatics who've drunk so much Kool-Aid that their skin glows orange. And any number can, in fact, still be found at the Times, despite the paper's own contents.

The same day the New York Times wrote about the Domino's incident, for instance, the number-two most-e-mailed story on its website was an op-ed by Timothy Egan, a die-hard Times reporter for nearly two decades. There's no blood left in this fellow's veins -- only Obam-Aid. The piece was entitled "How Obama Saved Capitalism and Lost the Midterms."

As Egan would have it, the American people are either morons or communists. They either don't realize that Obama is a committed capitalist just like them and is responsible for preventing the takeover of socialism in the USA, or they do realize it and despise Obama for his treachery against egalitarianism. This is what happens to you when you spend two decades employed by the Gray Lady reporting "facts." Brain rot sets in.

Egan begins his tirade by lying. He writes, "The presidency of George W. Bush produced the worst stock market decline of any president in history. If you needed a loan to buy a house or stay in business, private sector borrowing was dead when he handed over power."

Egan's own source exposes his lie. Too bad he didn't, apparently, go as far as to read it. It clearly states, "In percentage terms, Bush's 21.8 percent Dow drop [was] the worst showing since an 83.2 percent decline under President Herbert Hoover, whose term included the 1929 stock-market crash." In other words, the Bush decline was not the worst of any president in history. It was only one quarter of what occurred under Hoover. What's more, many people borrowed money and bought houses in the first quarter of 2009, when Bush handed over power. Borrowing was not "dead." Down, yes; dead, no.

Then Egan lied some more. He claimed Obama is due credit for producing a stock market return of 77% on the NASDAQ and 48% on the S&P between January 20, 2009 and November 2, 2010. Yet he then ascribes the basis for this credit as follows: "The banking system was resuscitated by $700 billion in bailouts started by Bush (a fact unknown by a majority of Americans), and finished by Obama, with help from the Federal Reserve." So it seems that Bush and the Fed (run by a Bush appointee reconfirmed by Obama, Egan fails to acknowledge) deserve some of the credit after all. And what specific new policy did Obama spearhead which accounted for some of this stock market claw-back? Egan did not care to say.

What's more, Egan's statement is utterly dishonest at its most fundamental level -- so much so that it almost cries out for some type of criminal charge. The unemployment rate has remained horrifyingly constant because virtually all the economic "progress" made by Obama is an illusion, coming solely as the result of massive, unprecedented borrowing and spending by government that has resulted in horrifying deficits because tax revenues are at record lows due to continuing anemic production. It is this sleight of hand that was utterly repudiated by the voters in the last election, yet Egan totally ignored it.

Instead, Egan just kept on lying. He claimed that Obama could have nationalized the banking system but chose not to, and he chose to flout the urgings of many in his own party who wanted to see capitalism collapse. But the recent election returns show with absolute clarity that Obama never had that kind of mandate, nor did Obama ever suggest he had such a plan.

Egan's recklessly dishonest propaganda tract attracted more than five hundred breathless comments from Times readers, each one more effusive in its praise of Obama and its condemnation of American idiots than the last. Yet the Times' own pages are full of people who know the facts.

Warren Buffet recently wrote a thank-you note to "Uncle Sam" for averting a catastrophic financial meltdown. When he named names among Sam's minions who deserved credit for doing so, Barack Obama's was nowhere to be found. George W. Bush, however, was front and center.

Contrast that with Nobel-Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman recently excoriating Obama for his lack of leadership. When Buffet and Krugman agree, perhaps a feverishly blind and partisan New York Times reporter is mistaken.

One must wonder with some trepidation, though, how many other Egans are currently reporting "facts" for the Gray Lady.

Pink Tutus And Political Pollsters

From The American Thinker:

November 18, 2010

Pink Tutus and Political Pollsters

By Jeannie DeAngelis

By trading authenticity for inexperience, hypnotized voters accepted Barack Obama's glitzy platitudes and fell hard for his rhetoric hook, line, and sinker -- emphasis on sinker. However, "hope and change" prevail, because after electing a guy who showed up out of nowhere dragging his trusty teleprompter, Democrats are awakening from their dreamlike state of pure political intoxication.

Democrats guzzled Kool-aid, willingly donned balloon hats, and did the Obama wave in unison at the inauguration on the National Mall. Now, two years later, the high has worn off, and like a group of shocked Milli Vanilli fans, Democrats are finding out that Barry can't keep time with the music, let alone lip-sync the words to "Blame it on the Rain."

Experience tells us that nothing remediates an ignorant choice faster than admitting stupidity and joining the ranks of those who told you so. Thus, some of Obama's biggest defenders are now morphing into his harshest critics. The same Democrats who wept uncontrollably on Election Day are now attempting to salvage sullied reputations with revelatory admissions embedded in helpful counsel.

In fact, in anticipation of a bloodbath, many from the president's own party opted to disembark from the Obama Express prior to Election Day. Immediately afterward, Obama left a referendum-wreck at the side of the road and shoved off for Asia, hoping to distract the world from the casualties strewn all over the American political landscape. It didn't work. In fact, Obama's Asian adventure shed further light on the man with the teleprompter's ineptitude, inexperience, and growing inability to be taken seriously both at home and abroad.

As a result, voices from both the left and the right of the Democratic Party have stepped forward to offer unsolicited guidance. Coming from two extreme sources are admissions that while Barack Obama may talk a good game, when it comes to delivering on promises made on the back of soaring discourse, the embodiment of "Yes We Can" hasn't and, in all probability, can't.

Three of the more diametrically opposed pundits offering suggestions are the thoughtful and rational Doug Schoen and the always intellectually honest Pat Cadell. The other is Michael Moore, the bloated socialist/millionaire Cuban-health-clinic-enthusiast in a baseball cap.

Recently, on the smarmy and infuriating "Real Time with Bill Maher" show, Michael Moore expressed his view that "being able to vote for Barack Obama" was "certainly one of the best days [he] had in the last decade." Moore did not explain why pulling the lever for Barack was the highlight of a decade, or what prompted him to do so. Evidently, Michael lives a very dull life because, except for partisanship or first-black-president guilt, there's no logical explanation of why any rational person would choose to vote for Barack Obama.

However, a glimmer of prudence did emerge on "Real Time" when Moore, after expressing gratitude to Obama for providing one good day out of 3,650, offered him a suggestion: "With all due respect...please take off your pink tutu because it's time to put on the boxing gloves and go fighting for the people."

Contrary to the rest of the idiocy verbalized on the liberal panel -- including comments from Maher about estate tax incentives to "kill grandma" and liberal director Nora Ephron, whose political opinions are in worse shape than her aging neck, lamenting conservative opposition to millionaires paying higher taxes -- Moore's comment was quite telling.

Couched in a suggestion, Moore unintentionally admitted that liberals voted for a guy in a pink tutu. Moore's statement indicated that up until that point, Obama voters hadn't noticed the tulle ballet skirt obscured by the podium. Such an admission is more a reflection on liberal voters than on the president. Did no one, including Michael Moore, bother to investigate anything other than the image Obama projected from the neck up? If it were physically possible, could it be that even the corpulent Michael Moore was buoyed by something other than common sense?

Moore's observation indicated that although the president is expert at verbal pirouettes, the hero of the people is proving ill equipped to deliver on the left's dream of a "piece of the pie" in the sky of Shangri-La. No wonder liberals are peeved. It must be humiliating for a leftist über-intellectual/University of Michigan-Flint dropout like Michael Moore to realize that on his most memorable day to date, he was handily duped by a guy in pink tights.

While Michael Moore suggests putting on "boxing gloves" and entering the ring for "hand-to-hand" combat-based solutions, Cadell and Schoen suggest the opposite. The two trusted Democrats pollsters now confess, "Indeed, we were among those millions of Democrats, Republicans and independents who were genuinely moved by [Obama's] rhetoric and purpose." However, Pat and Doug now present Obama with quite a different solution: Retain the tutu, skip the boxing gloves, and forget about running again in 2012.

In a Washington Post op-ed piece entitled "One and done: To be a great president, Obama should not seek reelection in 2012," Cadell and Schoen suggest that Obama act out of character, "[s]eize the high ground and the imagination of the nation once again, and ... galvanize the public for the hard decisions that must be made ... putting national interests ahead of personal or political ones. To that end, [Cadell and Schoen] believe Obama should announce immediately that he will not be a candidate for reelection in 2012."

Michael Moore is predictable. However, the measured, sane, and patriotic Doug's and Pat's emphatic proposition raises the question: How were two rational, clear-thinking men hoodwinked into voting for a charlatan like Obama in the first place?

Schoen's and Cadell's article suggests that Obama has neither taken the "high ground" nor -- beyond smoke machines and Styrofoam ionic columns -- succeeded in retaining the imagination of the nation. Moreover, the strategists insinuate that by running for president in the first place, the only thing neophyte Obama managed to accomplish was the detrimental placement of "personal and political interest" ahead of national welfare.

Schoen and Cadell cite Obama's disingenuous statement to Diane Sawyer: "I'd rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president." From the looks of things, neither is likely. Nonetheless, Pat and Doug honestly believe that Obama "now has a chance to deliver on that idea," which poses yet another question, this time for the pollsters: Why would Obama, who failed to deliver anything thus far, suddenly exhibit the ability, let alone the wherewithal, to begin now?

Moore beckons to the more radical Obama to come forth, and Schoen and Cadell plead with the president to agree to step off the stage, tutu and all. A ditzy Michael Moore viewing the president as a flitty ballerina while respected Democrat pollsters recommend that the former messiah's answer to the nation's woes be to throw in the teleprompter and return to Chicago provides Obama with little political sanctuary.

Advice offered a failed liberal president from two ends of the Democratic spectrum indicates that an admission disguised as a suggestion, in due time, possesses the power to persuade even the mulish Barack Obama to either willingly step aside or be ousted by a 2012 successor supported by his own party.

Author's content: