The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Public Enemy

In a number of recent posts, I have commented on media bias in favor of Barack Obama.

Pat Caddell is a democratic pollster who is enormously concerned about main stream media bias. He believes, as I do, that the blatant bias in favor of Barack Obama goes far beyond supporting him directly. Instead, it goes to the suppression of important news that might reflect badly on Obama during the election season.

The media is no longer simply an Obama mouthpiece, it has become a propaganda arm of the Obama campaign and as such, it threatens the very fabric of a free and adversarial press.

In a recent speech, after the invasion of the Libyan embassy in which the ambassador and three others were murdered, Caddell comments on media bias. It's well worth viewing this entire 4 minute video.

Update (9/30/12):

The text of Caddell's entire speech can be found here.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


The main stream media has spent very little time and virtually no contextual analysis reporting on the rising social unrest in Greece and Spain. Both countries are near bankruptcy, crippled by debt that has been caused by government, entitlement, and public sector pension spending over multiple decades. The Independent, a media outlet in the U.K., reports:
Police fired stun grenades and tear gas at protesters yesterday as tens of thousands poured into the streets of Athens as part of a nationwide strike to challenge a new round of austerity measures that are expected to cut wages, pensions and healthcare once again.

Dozens of youths, some masking their faces with helmets and T-shirts, hurled Molotov cocktails and rocks at police who fired back in an effort to scatter the angry crowds around the parliament building. More than 50,000 people are believed to have participated in the mass walk-out in Athens alone.

Hospital doctors, pensioners, teachers and shopkeepers were among the demonstrators that participated in over 60 rallies throughout the debt-ridden country. Even the president of Greece's police officers participated in the trade union march in Athens alongside uniformed colleagues from the fire department and coastguard.
And this from Reuters:
Violent protests in Madrid and growing talk of secession in Catalonia [a rich province that is being taxed heavily] are piling pressure on Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy as he moves closer to asking Europe for rescue money.

In public, Rajoy has been resisting calls from bankers at home and the leaders of France and Italy to move quickly to request assistance, but behind the scenes he is putting together the pieces to meet the stringent conditions for aid.

With protesters stepping up anti-austerity demonstrations, Rajoy presents painful economic reforms and a tough 2013 budget on Thursday, aiming to persuade euro zone partners and investors that Spain is doing its deficit-cutting homework despite a recession and 25 percent unemployment.
Of course, the events in Greece and Spain couldn't possibly happen in the US over the next decade, could they? After all, our debt is low. Our entitlements are financially stable. Our leadership recognizes the potential problems and has acted decisively to cut spending and reduce the deficit.

Oh wait, none of those things are true!

As a percentage of GNP, our debt will approach that of Greece is just a few more years under the budget projections proposed by a second Obama administration. And since our President has proposed nothing meaningful to correct the financial instability of our major entitlements, they will likely go into default over the next decade. And unlike Greece and Spain, there won't be anyone around to bail us out.

On the positive side, at least the leaders of Greece and Spain have recommended real and substantive spending cuts in an effort the avoid default. They had the courage to face their people and do something that is necessary, if very unpopular. It would have been encouraging to have seen the same courage from Barack Obama, but instead, he takes the easy road politically. If we just tax "millionaires and billionaires" and cut "waste and abuse" (the only specific recommendations that President Obama has made) all of our financial woes will be mitigated. The math is weak, but who cares, it sounds so good and it may very well get an incompetent leader re-elected.

Are the news stories presented above a harbinger of what might happen in the United States over the next 10 years? To paraphrase a well-worn quote: "Those who refuse to learn from economic events in Europe, are doomed to repeat them."

Update (9/27/12):

Sure, taxing the rich as a method for reducing skyrocketing deficits is a great idea with no other economic consequences. Just ask France's Socialist President François Hollande who just raised tax rates precipitously. This from France 24:
French unemployment topped three million for the first time in over a decade, data showed Wednesday, as the country faces a yawning budget gap like those plaguing its southern eurozone neighbours.

The number of jobless in mainland France swelled to 3.011 million in August, 23,900 more than in July, Labour Ministry figures showed, the first time since 1999 that the figure has breached the three million mark.
Of course, the French President, like his kindred American counterpart, takes absolutely no responsibility, suggesting the past leaders are to blame. Sound familiar?

Update (9/28/12):
Paul Krugman is a man who never saw a deficit he didn't think could be remedied by more government spending. It took the Left-wing economist only a day to write a NYT op-ed titled: "Europe’s Austerity Madness."

Krugman argues that there's too much austerity in Europe and writes:
Why, then, are there demands for ever more pain [via spending cuts in Europe]?

Part of the explanation is that in Europe, as in America, far too many Very Serious People have been taken in by the cult of austerity, by the belief that budget deficits, not mass unemployment, are the clear and present danger, and that deficit reduction will somehow solve a problem brought on by private sector excess.
So, those of us "Very Serious People" who worry that astronomical debt may have a negative impact on the country's ability to perform it's vital functions are members of a cult of austerity? We worry that people who depend on the government (think 47%) will be in big trouble when the money begins to run out, and that the burden on our children and grandchildren will become onerous. But we're the one's who are being irresponsible?

Now, I'll admit that I've only taken Econ 101 and 102 in college, but I have run a successful business, understand math, and have observed government spending as an adult for more than four decades. On the other hand, Krugman won a Nobel prize in economics, yet again proving that the Nobel committee makes mistakes.

As a rank amateur, it seems to me that even bigger government with even more spending results in more debt and requires more taxes (just ask Barack Obama and his supporters). Those taxes will extract more money from more people who might otherwise spend it in the private sector. If they were allowed to keep their money, they might spur ecomomic growth through personal spending and investment, thereby creating more jobs that would have resulted in more tax revenue for the government. But because those jobs don't materialize, taxes from those jobs don't materialize, and the government has even less money, resulting in higher deficits, and more debt. But no worries, following Krugman's bizarro-world logic, that means even more government spending.

There's a frightening element of recursion in all of this. When taken to its limit, Krugman's recommendation will lead to ruin.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


A few posts back, I wrote about the blantant, even shameless, pro-Obama bias that has pervaded mainstream media coverage during this presidential campaign. It now appears that even some liberal media veterans are beginning to notice and express alarm. Howard Fineman, the editorial director of The Huffington Post (no enemy of Barack Obama) and a regular on MSNBC (need I say more) writes:
... the president is well ahead on the Electoral College trends.

He has managed to do all of this without having to seriously and substantively defend his first-term failed promises or shortcomings, and without having to say much, if anything. about what, if anything, he might do substantially differently if he is fortunate enough to win again.

Unless I missed it, the president has yet to give a detailed answer to why he has failed to meet or even come close to his promises about reducing the unemployment rate. Saying that the task was harder than he initially thought isn't (or shouldn't be) a convincing explanation.

He hasn't given a detailed answer as to why he and his top advisers, led by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, failed to focus sufficiently on reviving the housing market, rather than just bailing out banks.

He hasn't explained why his own administration is now saying that at least 6 million Americans, most of them in the middle class, will indeed face a tax increase (penalty) in 2014 if they do not buy health insurance -- a new estimate substantially higher than earlier ones.

He hasn't explained whether he shares any blame for the failure of budget talks on a grand compromise. And if the art of presidential leadership is to cajole your foes into doing deals they don't want to do, what are we to make of his famous charming effectiveness?

He hasn't given a detailed defense of the vast expansion of the security state under his watch -- a policy that, in effect, has doubled down on the global war on terror-based approaches that his predecessor, President George W. Bush, initiated.

He hasn't given a detailed explanation for why he didn't close Guantanamo, as he had promised he would.

He hasn't said how, even with a Simpson-Bowles-style budget deal, the country is going to seriously grapple with long-term unfunded liabilities in the tens of trillions.

I could go on.

But the real question is why has he been able to butterfly along thus far?
Fineman goes on to state that the Romney campaign has been ineffective in calling him of these matters, but I would add that it's extremely difficult to do so when the media characterizes every Romney critique of the president's record as an "attack" and refuses—outright refuses—to explore any of the issues that Fineman notes in the preceding quote.

Fineman is not oblivious to this. He writes:
Obama was such a cool and uplifting story to so many in the media in 2008 that they essentially ceded ground to him that they have yet to reclaim. He ran a tightly controlled message campaign then, and has run an even more tightly controlled White House, with few press conferences and deep access only to those most likely to write positive stories. Univision didn't get the memo, and its reporters hammered the president about immigration last week. It was a rare moment. But, again, it was one upon which Romney could not capitalize. The last thing Mitt wants to do is start a debate on immigration, given how obnoxious his stance is to most Latinos.

The hard-hitting Univision interview provided an opening for the MSM to explore Obama's lack of action on immigration. During the interview he had the audacity to claim that he didn't have the time or the votes to get the job done, conveniently forgetting that he had overwhelming majorities in both houses of congress for two years. Did the MSM pursue this? All we heard was ... crickets.

On occasion the media will ask one or more of Fineman's questions in an effort to appear objective. But they are less than enthusiastic about pursuing an answer, allowing Obama to filibuster without aggressive follow-up. They rarely fact check the President's responses, and provide little or no context that might call his continual stream of excuses into question. They are, to put it bluntly, in the tank for Barack Obama.

Update (9/26/12):

As if to emphasize the pernicious nature of media bias, this morning's YahooNews is running a lead story with the headline" "Why Plane Windows Don't Roll Down, as Romney Would Like." The story quotes Romney asking why plane windows don't roll down. It provides a condescending discussion of the reasons why and then states that Romney was not joking, but was serious. Then, at the very end of the piece, this update:
Update: Romney was joking. The New York Times' Ashley Parker, who wrote the original report about the Beverly Hills fundraiser that quickly got spread around the Web, told New York Magazine today that Romney had been joking. Parker said that while her report didn’t explicitly indicate Romney was joking, “it was clear from the context” that he was.

Can you imagine in your wildest dreams that YahooNews would have reported a similar joke by Obama as anything but a joke. In fact, if past history serves, the media tries to protect the president from his many gaffs by re-interpreting them in the best possible light. With Romney—not so much.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Barack Obama did not have a good day on Sunday, when he appeared on Sixty Minutes with interviewer Steve Kroft. First, the now infamous "bump in the road" comment that can legitimately be characterized as a gaff, much in the same what that Mitt Romney's "don't care" comment was ... oh, wait, the media took that one literally ... oh, never mind.

Steve Kroft asked about Bibi Netanyahu's request for action against Iran:
STEVE KROFT: “You don’t feel any pressure from Prime Minister Netanyahu in the middle of a campaign to try and get you to change your policy and draw a line in the sand? You don’t feel any pressure?”

OBAMA: “When it comes to our national security decisions — any pressure that I feel is simply to do what’s right for the American people. And I am going to block out — any noise that’s out there.”
Hmmm. So, the leader of an important Middle Eastern ally (a group that is rapidly shrinking in size as Obama's foreign policy implodes) asks for a "red line," and the President suggests that it's "noise." Not to worry, it's just another in a long line of innocent "gaffs" that seem very important when Mitt Romney makes them, but not so very important when Barack Obama does the same.

Jennifer Rubin comments:
Calling Netanyahu’s concern about an existential threat “noise” is another in a long string of insults, snubs and gaffes about Israel. This remark immediately raised red flags in the foreign press. The Iranians were happy, though. A reader sends me a report that at least one country is delighted. From the Iranian official TV outlet: “US President Barack Obama says Israel’s call for drawing red line over Iran’s nuclear energy program is just ‘noise’ he tries to ignore.” Well, the Iranians got that one right. And just to rub it in, Obama knocked Israel down a peg, saying it was only “one of our closest allies in the region.” Really? Is Egypt the other? The level of disdain he holds for Israel runneth over.
Obama, possibly realizing his gaff, followed his "noise" comment with a pro forma statement of support for Israel, but there was absolutely no enthusiasm when he said it.

This week, while the UN General Assembly is in session, the President made time to appear on The View, a vacuous afternoon talk show. But he did not have time to meet with faux ally Mohammed Morsi, President of the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated government of Egypt.

That's probably because the atmospherics would have been awful, given that he earlier indicated that he didn't want to meet with Bibi Netanyahu ("no time, after all).

And finally, back to the Sixty Minutes interview. In response to a Kroft question about a national debt that has increased sixty percent on Obama's watch, the President stated:
"When I came into office, I inherited the biggest deficit in our history.[1] And over the last four years, the deficit has gone up, but 90% of that is as a consequence of two wars that weren't paid for,[2] as a consequence of tax cuts that weren't paid for,[3] a prescription drug plan that was not paid for,[4] and then the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.[5]
The numbers in [brackets] represent The Wall Street Journal's scathing refutation of each of these blatantly incorrect and misleading claims. I urge you to read the Journal article in it's entirety..

On the whole, the Sixty Minutes interview was a disaster for the President. That seems to be happening more frequently in recent weeks.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Alternative Universe

Let's consider an alternative universe in which the United States is populated by a main stream media that is identical to our alphabet networks, the cable news outlets, and major newspapers such as the NYT, WP, LAT to name only a few. There's only one difference—in the alternative universe only one major news outlet is strongly liberal with every other major MSM outlet being either center-right or sympathetic to the far right. They claim to be objective arbiters of the news (or entertainment), but their far-right bias is palpable.

An incompetent, inexperienced, highly ideological, divisive right-wing President has been in office for one term. Under his stewardship, a bad economy has gotten worse, and unemployment has stuck above 8 percent for 40-plus months. Our debt is at stratospheric levels, and as a kicker, our foreign policy is in grave trouble. There's much more bad news, but you get the picture.

The right-wing President is running against a moderate, center-Left politician with considerable executive and business experience. But the MSM (with the exception of one liberal major media outlet), refuses to fully explore the depth of our economic problems or the implosion of our foreign policy. Instead they denigrate the liberal challenger in every way they can, de-emphasize any news story that might reflect badly on the right-wing incumbent,and generally spin even positive news items about the challenger in a way that reflects a negative tone.

Although polling shows the race to be very tight, they insist that the right-wing incumbent is significantly ahead and suggest that every week is a "terrible week" for the liberal challenger.

I suspect that progressives throughout the country would be upset by such biased treatment of their guy by the media. In effect, the liberal challenger would be running against the incumbent and a media that is an extension of his campaign. The progressives would argue that the media should provide unbiased information about both candidates, should report all the news, even stories that might hurt the re-election prospects of the incumbent, should conduct thorough investigations of both candidates, not probe one and be amazingly incurious about the other. And progressives would be absolutely right. Of course, delusional elements on the far-right would argue that there is no bias, that media treatment is fair, or even pro-challenger. That position would be so ridiculous that it doesn't warrant comment.

Of course, we don't live in an alternative universe—we live in this one ... where the media's political bias is exactly opposite. But you already knew that. And sadly, many people get the majority of the "news" they do absorb from the MSM.

In the universe in which we live, Walter Russell Mead writes about the alternative universe I depicted:
If the president were a conservative Republican rather than a liberal Democrat, I have little doubt that much of the legacy press would be focused more on what is wrong with America. There would be more negative reporting about the economy, more criticism of policy failures and many more withering comparisons between promise and performance. The contrast between a rising stock market and poor jobs performance that the press now doesn’t think of blaming on President Obama would be reported as demonstrating a systemic bias in favor of the rich and the powerful if George W. Bush were in the White House. The catastrophic decline in African-American net worth during the last four years would, if we had a Republican president, be presented in the press as illustrating the racial indifference or even the racism of the administration. As it is, it is just an unfortunate reality, not worth much publicity and telling us nothing about the intentions or competence of the people in charge.

The current state of the Middle East would be reported as illustrating the complete collapse of American foreign policy—if Bush were in the White House. The criticism of drone strikes and Guantanamo that is now mostly confined to the far left would be mainstream conventional wisdom, and the current unrest in the Middle East would be depicted as a response to American militarism. The in and out surge in Afghanistan would be mercilessly exposed as a strategic flop, reflecting the naive incompetence of an inexperienced president out of his depth.

And as the media expands and enhances its bias by the week, Mary Kate Cary comments on the public response:
This just in from the Gallup organization: Americans' distrust of the media has just hit a new record, with six in 10 Americans saying they have "little or no trust in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly." Forty percent say they have a "great deal" or a "fair amount" of trust, and I assume this is the same crowd who approve of the job Congress is doing. Where do they find these people?

Gallup says the 20-point difference between positive and negative views of the media is "by far" the highest Gallup has seen since it began asking the question in the 1990s. Among those who trust the media, 58 percent identify themselves as Democrats; 26 percent as Republicans; and most interestingly, 31 percent as independents. That means 69 percent of independents don't trust the media. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand the implications of that ...
It appears that the Center has significant problems with the media, and that's a good thing. Because it means that with all the spin, the purposeful omissions, and the unfair campaign coverage, the Center (those of us whose votes win and lose elections in battleground states) have rejected media bias and will search out a collection of sources that provide us with a true picture of both candidates.

If Mitt Romney defeats Barack Obama in this election, and that's a big if, he will have done so by defeating not only a President whose record is abysmal, but also a media machine that is doing just about everything possible to ensure that President's re-election.

Update; (9/25/12):

Richard Fernandez considers the current state of the American media and its fawning adoration of Barack Obama when he writes:
In the past the media played favorites by shading the percentages, by adjusting and subtly manipulating the imagery to advantage their preferred candidate. This was in recognition of the fact that the American public had some hold on common sense and therefore it was inadvisable to lie to them blatantly. It was necessary to persuade them by fact, albeit shaded. But recent efforts have all the subtlety of a North Korean poster. If so the new style marks a transition from the older form of ‘news’ to straight out barking-mad propaganda ...

Propaganda is generally an appeal to emotion, not intellect … Propaganda often presents facts selectively (thus possibly lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or uses loaded messages to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented. The desired result is a change of the attitude toward the subject in the target audience to further a political or religious agenda. Propaganda can be used as a form of political warfare.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Terrible Weeks

The media is fond of telling us that Mitt Romney has had one "terrible week" after another on the campaign trail. Pro-Obama pundits suggest that because of those terrible weeks, Romney is toast—he's already lost. Maybe, but I sometimes get the feeling that they're fortifying their defenses against a potential preference cascade.

As this has been going on, Barack Obama has had two truly horrendous weeks, but if you follow the majority of the MSM (now a blatant extension of the Obama campaign), you'd never know it. Over the past two weeks, the core of Obama's foreign policy in the Middle East has collapsed, not in the gentile world of diplomatic disagreements, but in violence, death, and rampant anti-Americanism.

Sure, the media has reported Muslim unrest and violence, but they haven't probed the underlying reasons. Instead, they parroted a dishonest White House position (stated repeated by the President's press secretary, by Susan Rice, his UN ambassador, and by Hillary Clinton, his Secretary of State) that it was an offensive anti-Muslim video that was the driving factor of the embassy attack in Libya, when in fact, the attack was an al Qaida-inspired terrorist operation. Finally, the truth came out, but only after 9 days of obfuscation.

But even that wasn't the real story. Few within the MSM seemed to connect the violence in dozens of Muslim countries with a major foreign policy failure by this President and those that did never probed the underlying reasons.

Fouad Ajami provides some background:
No American president before this one had proclaimed such intimacy with a world that stretches from Morocco to Indonesia. From the start of his administration, Mr. Obama put forth his own biography as a bridge to those aggrieved nations. He would be a “different president,” he promised, and the years he lived among Muslims would acquit him—and thus America itself. He was the un-Bush.

And so, in June 2009, Mr. Obama descended on Cairo. He had opposed the Iraq war, he had Muslim relatives, and he would offer Egyptians, and by extension other Arabs, the promise of a “new beginning.” They told their history as a tale of victimization at the hands of outsiders, and he empathized with that narrative.

He spoke of “colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations.”

Without knowing it, he had broken a time-honored maxim of that world: Never speak ill of your own people when in the company of strangers. There was [on Obama's part] too little recognition of the malignant trilogy—anti-Americanism, anti-Semitism and anti-modernism—that had poisoned the life of Egypt and much of the region ... .
The President insisted that by subtly blaming the West for the region's problems, he had achieved a "reset" with the Muslim world, until it blew up in his face this month. Widespread anti-American violence, a dead ambassador, an Egyptian leader who egged on violent protest in Arabic speeches, a resurgence of al Qaida in North Africa, violent protests in Pakistan, continuing green on blue murders in Afghanistan, and the continuing march toward nukes in Iran belie the notion that mea culpas work in the Arab crescent.

After violent protests resulted in the deaths of 15 people, Obama and his secretary of state doubled down on mea culpas and appeared in a TV commerical in Pakistan arguing that the US Government had nothing to do with the offensive video. I guess the subtle defensiveness of such an action escaped them. James Taranto comments on this by first quoting a Reuters report:
Mohammed Tariq Khan, a protester in Islamabad, said: "Our demand is that whoever has blasphemed against our holy Prophet should be handed over to us so we can cut him up into tiny pieces in front of the entire nation."
He then writes:
It seems likely that this Mohammed Tariq Khan faults the U.S. government for failing to do so. Now of course Americans understand what Mrs. Clinton means when she says the government has nothing to do with it. The video's makers are alive and free not because the government has permitted it but because the Constitution prohibits the government from doing anything else. Don't blame Obama, don't even blame George W. Bush. Blame James Madison.

What message does the ad actually send the Mohammed Tariq Khans? On the one hand, a message of weakness: Assemble a big enough mob, kill enough people, burn enough flags and churches, and you too can grab the attention of the most powerful man and woman in the world. On the other hand, a taunt. If Obama and Mrs. Clinton really mean it, the Khans must think, why haven't they presented the video makers for public mincing? The State Department's ad contains no answer to that crucial question.
The only "public mincing" that has occurred has been the Arab street's mincing of the Obama Mid-East doctrine. Talk about terrible weeks.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Not Good

There are profound political differences between many members of the Democrats and the GOP. These range for the appropriate size and scope of government to America's stance on the world stage, from the role of taxation to the degree of competence exhibited by the current administration, from gun ownership to social issues. Extremists on the Right rail against big government, but then demand government intervention in many aspects of the social contract (e.g., abortion, gay marriage) in their warped view of "family values." Extremists on the Left demonize profit (and often, economic success) and demand a redistribution of income as part of their warped view of "social justice."

The vast majority of Dems and Repubs are not extremists, but because the rhetoric and world view of extremists on the Left resonate with much of the mainstream media and many within the glitterati, their views are often given far more credence than they deserve.

Extremists on the Left are quick to label Mitt Romney as an "extremist," suggesting, for example, that this heartless, greedy corporatist would have "let GM go out of business" (patently untrue) or that he would lead the charge in a "war on women" (laughable) or that he "paid no income taxes" (provably untrue) or that Romney's suggestion that maybe income taxes should be lowered, not raised, is somehow unamerican.

Extremists on the Left obsess over Romney's comments on the growing dependency of a significant percentage of Americans, and see no problem with today's record levels of food stamp use or record numbers of people collecting social security disability payments. They conveniently avoid considering the long-term ramifications of a crippled economy that is getting worse, not better, staggering debt, and a disintegrating foreign policy.

A very small percentage of the President's supporters come from the extremist camp, but they are often the most vocal. When faced with strong opposition, they become vicious, suggesting that any criticism of their guy is somehow unfair, or motivated by racism, or hatred, or "right wing irrationality." They conjure boogie-man images of Grover Norquist or Sarah Palin and try mightily to conflate those images with Mitt Romney. They suggest that a poor, victimized President Obama—the most powerful man in the world—is somehow powerless to overcome the objections of his political opposition and is incapable of negotiating with leaders of the opposition party. They become apoplectic when a media source or a commentator has the temerity to express a harsh opinion about this President. After all, there can be no dissent, Obama is The One.

And they may have the right strategy. Polls (notoriously unreliable, but the only data point we have at the moment) indicate that the election remains very close. It may be that the cult-like status of this president may overcome his atrocious performance and usher in another four years of Barack Obama. But then again, maybe not.

In a cutting critique of Barack Obama, Yale Professor David Gelernter writes: "Remember that Obama has demonstrated the competence of Carter with the integrity of Nixon." Ouch! When the President's supporters read comments like Gelernter's, they levitate with rage.

But why?

At the end of the day, a president should be measured by his results (not by his charisma, or his smile, or his celebrity friends, or his state of cool). If those results are poor, harsh criticism is not only expected, it is obligatory in a vibrant democracy.

Barack Obama is not in his first 100 days as President. He has been President of the United States for almost four years. He owns his results, and his results are not good.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

"I don’t remember ..."

The President had "no time" to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu next week, but he somehow found the time to attend a fat-cat fundraiser with Jay-Z and Beyonce this week. He also somehow wedged an appearance on David Letterman's late night TV show yesterday. In what was intended as a softball interview, Letterman asked about the debt and the deficit.

John Hinderacker comments:
A lot of politicians are dishonest, but Barack Obama may be in a league by himself. He appeared on the David Letterman show last night, and Letterman asked him about the national debt (somewhat surprisingly). Obama’s answer was a masterpiece of prevarication. He described how the debt originated, and claimed, falsely, that he inherited a $1 trillion deficit. In fact, this country had never run a[n] [annual] deficit anywhere near $1 trillion until FY 2009, the first year of the Obama administration. (And, no, Bush isn’t to blame for it; the Democratic Congress waited until Obama was in office to pass the vast majority of the bloated spending for that fiscal year.) Letterman, to his credit, went on to ask Obama how much the national debt actually is. Obama evidently knew that if he said $16 trillion his audience would be horrified, so, incredibly, he pretended not to know! You have to see it to believe it.
The exact quote from the President was: "“I don’t remember what the [debt] number was precisely.”

It's not surprising, really, that Obama couldn't remember the exact deficit figure. After all, $16 trillion is a mere pittance that can be mitigated easily by having "millionaires" pay their "fair share"—at least in the fantasy class warfare world of Barack Obama and his supporters. In reality, a $16 trillion debt (to which Obama added $1 trillion each year he has been President) is frighteningly large, made even scarier by the fact that when interest rates go up, (and they will, except in the fantasy world of the President) the cost to service the debt will cripple the federal budget and hurt the very people that Barack Obama professes to care so much about.

But no worries. The President was glib, smiled a lot, gave Letterman a pound, and was otherwise really, really cool. Too bad he's also really, really an economic incompetent.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Defending an abysmal economic record is tiring. It forces one to twist statistics to their braking point and still leaves the stench of dishonesty after the "you're better off" argument has been made. And defending a feckless foreign policy in the Middle East is equally tiring. It forces one to become Bagdad Bob and point the finger anywhere but at the President, and still leaves a feeling of incredulity even after the most staunch defense.

It was therefore a blessing for the President's legions of supporters in the media and the Obama campaign to pivot to the "Mitt Romney Video." You know, the one in which he noted that: (1) almost half of all voters do not pay income taxes, (2) that those voters are often dependent on government, (3) that it is highly unlikely that those voters would support Romney's calls for smaller government, less spending and lower deficits (since they are the direct beneficiaries of bigger government, more spending, and larger deficits), and (4) that Romney's "... job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives." That was the last straw—truth in the face of political correctness. The horror!

The howls from the Left were as predictable as they were comical. For example, Romney is a "sneering plutocrat" (Jonathan Chait, NY Magazine), Romney is conducting "class warfare" (Ed Kilgore, Washington Monthly), Romney's comments are so bad that "this is the end of Mitt Romney" (Alex Koppelman, The New Yorker). This hysteria is amusing, cleansing, and has one common meme—Romney doesn't care about the little guy.

Of course, Romney simply gave a private speech at a fund-raiser. You know, just like the one in 2008 in which candidate Obama suggested that mid-Western voters cling to their bibles and their guns. Just words.

By suggesting that Mitt Romney doesn't care, Obama's supporters imply that the President does care. But there's a problem, Barack Obama has a record.

Let's explore Barack Obama's "caring" four years:

- Unemployment over 8 percent for 43 straight months (that's more months of 8% unemployment than the combined total of all presidents since Eisenhower).

- Unemployment among Hispanics and African Americans that is between 10 and 20 percent

- More people on food stamps than any other time in history

- More people on disability (a substitute for unemployment compensation when that runs out)than any other time in history

- More than half of all college graduates the past few years can't find jobs in their chosen career (a first in American history)

- A deficit that has grown more than $1 trillion dollars every year that Obama has been in office and is projected to grow to $20 trillion if he is re-elected.

- A federal reserve that must desperately keep interest rates artificially low, hurting low income seniors who rely on interest from their meager savings

- Major entitlements (Social Security and Medicare) on the brink of bankruptcy, with no attempt by the Obama administration to rectify the situation

- A housing slump that continues unabated

- A growing regulatory environment that has dampened small business hiring

- A looming "fiscal cliff" that will further erode our credit rating and our economy

Those result's are a sure sign of a guy who really, really cares about the little guy and the little guy's children and grandchildren. But those result's never seem to be mentioned during the wailing that will surely ensue over the "Mitt Romney Video" in coming days. After all, it's words that matter to the Left, not results.

Update (9/19/12):

And as far as the President's continual claim that "the rich" don't pay their "fair share" and that a "balanced approach" is the only way to reduce the deficit, here's a nice graphical representation of who pays what in income taxes:

And for those who would argue that its "unfair" that the bottom 50% earn only 13 percent of all income, consider that many, many factors contribute—education, motivation, culture, risk aversion, general skills, life skills, organizational skills, family structure, personality traits ... the list is very long, indeed—and that the government cannot and should not try to control all of those aspects in a futile effort to redistribute income. Of course, Barack Obama believes that it should and it can. Sadly, like many things he believes, history indicates that he is mistaken.

Update 2 (9/20/12):

At long last, cartoonists in some major newspapers are beginning to see just how much the President "cares" and what his plea for "more time" really means:

Monday, September 17, 2012

Bagdad Bobs

Remember "Bagdad Bob?" He was an Iraqi official who went on camera on the streets of Bagdad and claimed with great fervor that American troops had been repelled in their assault on Bagdad. Comically, as he made these claims, a column of U.S. Abrams M-1 tanks passed by in the background.

Jay Carney, the President's Press secretary and Susan Rice, the President's UN ambassador, did their best impression of Bagdad Bob in the wake of the sacking of our embassy in Libya and attacks on our embassies in other Arab capitals. They claimed, to typically incurious reporters and interviewers, that the attacks were precipitated solely because of a crude anti-Islam film, and that nothing more was at play. As reports of al Qaida involvement in the Libyan attack and Muslim Brotherhood conniving in the Egyptian protests came streaming in, the Bagdad Bobs stuck by their story, reciting a script that was designed to protect a foreign policy credentials of the President in an election year.

The Wall Street Journal editors comment:
Ms. Rice's the-video-did-it explanation is no doubt intended to shield Obama Administration policies from any domestic political blame for the attacks. But far worse is the message it sends to adversaries and even friendly governments abroad: Overrun sovereign U.S. territory, even kill U.S. diplomats, and the first reaction of the American government will be to blame Americans for somehow provoking the violence.
But that's what the Obama administration is best at—deflecting criticism by blaming others. In this case, the leadership of the United States does a subtle mea culpa and blames a misguided citizen who exercised, however poorly, his right of free speech. And now, Arabs are demanding punishment of that citizen, or else. No word from the President on that.

Recall candidate Obama's comments in 2008:
"I think the world would see me as a different kind of president, somebody who could see the world through their eyes. . . . If I convene a meeting with Muslim leaders around the world to discuss how they can align themselves in our battle against terrorism, but also put our--the relationship between the West and the Islamic world on a more productive footing, I do so with the credibility of somebody who actually lived in a Muslim country for a number of years."
And so, the President did just that. The events of the last week are the result. Even worse, a recent Pew Research poll indicates that negative feelings about the U.S. have increased—not decreased—on the Arab street since Barack Obama took office. Hmmm.

Victor Davis Hansen explains the real reasons rather well:
Remember the source of premodern Islamic anger. Why did the Zawahiri brothers, or the late bin Laden, or the Islamist of the week hate the West, and in particular the United States?

It surely is not, as their apologists plead, because of our “foreign policy.” We are enlightened compared to what Putin did in Chechnya or how Chinese treated their Muslim minorities. You, readers, know the American record better than do I: we graciously accepted Muslim refugees, even ingrates like Mohamed Morsi or the 9/11 mass murderers. We fed Somalis; helped to remove Gaddafi; freed Kuwaitis; liberated Afghans (twice); birthed Iraqi democracy; bombed Christians to save Muslim Kosovars and Bosnians; fund Jordanians, Egyptians, and Palestinians; and so on.

Instead, the wrath of the Muslim Street is elemental and existential (read The Al Qaeda Reader to fathom all the twenty or so excuses given by bin Laden for his hatred of the U.S.). It can be explained in terms something like this: Islamists have convinced the Arab masses that their present mess (so easily fathomed in a globalized world in second-by-second, instantaneous comparisons with other cultures — via cell phones, the Internet, DVDs, and cable television) is not their own fault.

Discussions of the pernicious effects of endemic tribalism, misogyny, statism, anti-Semitism, fundamentalism, religious intolerance, xenophobia, and anti-modernism are taboo. So there is never serious reflection about self-induced pathologies that keep fostering a Saddam Hussein, Muslim Brotherhood, and Ba’ath Party, or the preconditions that throughout much of the 20th century made the Arab world so susceptible to Hitlerism, then Soviet communism, then Baathism, then Western authoritarianism, then authoritarianism, and, then, or rather always back to, Islamic radicalism.
Barack Obama's naive belief (or was it hubris?) that he could cajole the Arab people into a more modern, democratic, and friendly stance toward the U.S. was misplaced. Instead, we get murderous rage that can as easily be attributed to weak and apologetic Presidential policies as it can to a repugnant and obscure "film" that almost no one in the Arab street has actually seen.

Update: (9/18/12)

As the election approaches, the majority of the U.S. Media has become an extension of the Obama campaign and refuses to investigate the Bagdad Bob claims of the Obama administration. So ... let's look at another source. Margaret Wente of the U.K.'s The Globe and Mail makes the following comment:
Well, I guess blaming the video is easier than facing the facts. Back in 2009, President Barack Obama went to Cairo and promised to reset the U.S. relationship with the Arab world. Unlike his predecessor, he sympathized with Muslim aspirations. Muslims were anti-American because of bad American policies, and he would fix that.

Things didn’t quite work out as planned. Back then, 70 per cent of Egyptians had an unfavourable opinion of the U.S. Today, 79 per cent do.

The U.S. doesn’t have much influence in the Arab world these days. As Syria goes up in flames and the Arab Spring turns into a series of messy power struggles among countless rival factions, it’s clear that the transition from repressive dictatorship to moderate democracy will be a long time coming. The infamous video seems to have been a handy pretext for riots organized by radical factions who want to make the “moderates” look bad. If not for that pretext, there would have been another one.

Update 2 (9/18/12)

And this from the non-partisan STRATFOR on the naive approach and ultimate failure of Obama's foreign policy in Libya:
What emerged in Libya is what you would expect when a foreign power overthrows an existing government, however thuggish, and does not impose its own imperial state: ongoing instability and chaos.

The Libyan opposition was a chaotic collection of tribes, factions and ideologies sharing little beyond their opposition to Gadhafi. A handful of people wanted to create a Western-style democracy, but they were leaders only in the eyes of those who wanted to intervene. The rest of the opposition was composed of traditionalists, militarists in the Gadhafi tradition and Islamists. Gadhafi had held Libya together by simultaneously forming coalitions with various factions and brutally crushing any opposition.

Opponents of tyranny assume that deposing a tyrant will improve the lives of his victims. This is sometimes true, but only occasionally. The czar of Russia was clearly a tyrant, but it is difficult to argue that the Leninist-Stalinist regime that ultimately replaced him was an improvement. Similarly, the Shah of Iran was repressive and brutal. It is difficult to argue that the regime that replaced him was an improvement.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

More Time

A little-noticed event that occurred at the end of last week. Part of the reason that few were aware of it is that most of the main stream media (now an effective extension of the Obama re-election campaign) chose not to cover the story or mentioned it only briefly and without any serious discussion of its meaning and import. But nonetheless, it's worth mentioning here.

CNBC reports:
Ratings firm Egan-Jones cut its credit rating on the U.S. government to "AA-" from "AA," citing its opinion that quantitative easing from the Federal Reserve would hurt the U.S. economy and the country's credit quality.

The Fed on Thursday said it would pump $40 billion into the U.S. economy each month until it saw a sustained upturn in the weak jobs market. (Read more: Fed's 'QE Infinity' — Four Things That Could Go Wrong)

In its downgrade, the firm said that issuing more currency and depressing interest rates through purchasing mortgage-backed securities does little to raise the U.S.'s real gross domestic product, but reduces the value of the dollar.

In turn, this increases the cost of commodities, which will pressure the profitability of businesses and increase the costs of consumers thereby reducing consumer purchasing power, the firm said.

But no worries. the President tells us we're better off today than we were when he was elected, and that all he needs is "more time."

My question is "more time" for what? More time to add another $4 trillion to our existing deficit—a contributing reason for the downgrade? More time to continue his divisive class warfare rhetoric as if that will somehow correct the budgetary hole he is digging?? More time to obfuscate about our failing entitlement programs, rather than making clear and specific recommendations to avoid the upcoming bankruptcy of Social Security and Medicare (I forgot ... the media requires that only Mitt Romney is required to be specific -- Obama can be as abstract and vague as he likes)? More time to blame anyone but his administration and failed policies for chronic unemployment, worsening personal income, and a new business environment that is poisonous? More time to entrench Obamacare in the culture and thereby add still another forcing function to our looming fiscal troubles? Maybe more time to approach the "fiscal cliff" that will be upon us in January with no attempt to reach a bipartisan accord with the GOP (oops, I again forgot that it's all the GOP's fault — the President is absolutely blameless in all of this ... a victim even)?

More time.

Barack Obama has had plenty of time. The problem is he had not had plenty of beneficial results. Lots of words, sure. Lot's of excuses, of course. Lots of finger pointing, without question. But results and solutions that will move us out of our fiscal decline — not so much.

Update: (9/17/2012)

FoxNews reports that according to the US Treasury Department, the total public debt on January 20, 2009 (the day Obama took office) was $10.62 trillion. The public debt on June 30, 2012 was $15.85 trillion. The GDP at the end of 1Q09 was $13.92 trillion and the GDP at the end of 2Q12 was $15.60 trillion.

In the "time" we've already given Barack Obama, he has grown to economy by $1.68 trillion. In that same time, he has added over $5.23 trillion in new debt! So ... for every dollar he has added in growth, he had added over $3 in debt. If we give him more time to continue that trajectory, well, you do the math ...

Friday, September 14, 2012

First, Do No Harm

Mobs of young, liberal, often college educated people protest in the streets against a dictator who is known for repression, but is a friend of the United States. The U.S. President naively supports the protesters in the hopes of nurturing a "democracy" in a place that has long had dictatorial rule. Sitting quietly in the wings, well-organized Islamists wait their chance, but express no interest in politics to the Western media. The U.S. President decides to support the overthrow of the dictator, and when he is deposed, supports the leader who replaces him. The President's supporters and the fawning media tell the American public that the new leader is a decent man, a "moderate," even. Within a year or two, the new leader insults the United States, becomes increasingly hostile (allowing attacks on our embassy), conducts purges to remove pro-American elements, and installs an Islamist government.

Here's the question: am I talking about the egregious foreign policy failures that occurred in the late 1970s under President Jimmy Carter with respect to Iran, or am I talking about the equally egregious foreign policy failures over the past three years presided over by President Barack Obama with respect to Egypt. The answer, of course, is both.

There is an eerie similarity between Iran in the late-1970s and Egypt today. In fairness to Jimmy Carter, he had no history to turn to for guidance. Barack Obama did, but chose to ignore the lessons drawn from Carter's mistakes, and as a consequence, is repeating those same mistakes with the same disastrous results. And people keep telling me that he's such a smart, deliberative guy.

Recall that it was Obama whose hubris allowed him to believe that his now infamous Cairo speech in 2009, would "reset" our relationship with Islam in general and the Arab world in particular. It seems that our current President believes that words have the power to solve geopolitical problems, and that actions, well, those are for war mongers and other fools.

This week, the poisonous fruit of the Arab spring has been harvested. Anti-American riots, murders, and destruction throughout the Arab world (e.g., Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen, Somalia) seem to belie Obama's promise that under his administration the Arab world will no longer hate us. His soft-power, lead-from-behind approach to the Middle East region has resulted in growing chaos that serves to undermine American interests in the region, isolate and antagonize our allies, and project a weakness that allows rouge regimes to act with impunity.

The Hippocratic oath has one corollary that should be equally applied by Politicians. First, do no harm.

Barack Obama's feckless foreign policy has violated that corollary through a combination of naivete, hubris, and outright incompetence. Obama's actions have been one of the catalysts that have transformed an already unstable region into a hotbed of Islamist chaos.

Update: (9/14/12):

Sometimes the most honest critique of the U.S. policy can be found in foreign media, simply because they are unencumbered by the fawning advocacy that pervades much of the U.S. media where President Obama is concerned. The major German media outlet, Der Spiegel ran an article this morning with the headline,'Obama's Middle East Policy Is in Ruins.'

That's the conversation that our MSM should be having as events continue to unfold in the Middle East.

Update 2: (9/14/12):

Richard Fernandez presents his take on the foreign policy debacle we are witnessing. His entire piece is worth reading:
But it is worse than 1979 [the Carter/Iran debacle]; the current alliance [Obama/??] puts America in the back of the bus as expressed in the tagline “leading from behind.” In that slogan is described a self-imposed inferiority, a chronic submission to political enterprises that would, if closely inspected, be dubious to say the least ...

What could go wrong? If things look perverse it is because they are perverse. Like a car with square wheels, a submarine with a screen door or a rifle with barrel curved backward toward the stock, it just doesn’t look like it’s not going to work. It’s not going to work. And now confirmation of the fact has arrived by the light of burning embassies which throw their fitful glare on the bloody hand prints of those dragged to their deaths. It is snapshot of incompetence in pursuit of an imbecility.

And it cannot be undone by a successor administration any more than Reagan could undo the damage caused by Jimmy Carter. The damage is too great for a quick fix. The West will have to live with instability and hostility in a region upon which much of the world depends for energy for some time to come. No solar panels, algae, no number carbon trading certificates — no fiction peddled by those whose stock in trade is fantasy — can paper over that sad fact. The bill for folly has arrived and it will be generations paying it.

All that can be done now is to stop digging the hole any deeper.

Update 3: (9/16/12)

And this from Victor Davis Hansen:
One of the ways of understanding the strange nonchalant response [e.g., Susan Rice's incredible claim on Meet the Press that the violence in Libya and Egypt were not directed at the Obama administration or the USA] of the administration to prior warnings of trouble in the Arab Spring countries, and its contextualization of the violence on the anniversary of 9/11, is its belief that it is somehow separated from the object of the violence. Raging crowds and Islamic wrath could not possibly be connected to the enlightened Obama administration or, more generally to a U.S. that has been “reset” on his watch — given the three years of laborious Muslim outreach and the long-ago departure of George Bush. So we are to think away all those burning flags, stormed consulates, and dead Americans, and instead remember that the violence “is a response,” a sort of cry of the heart against a couple of America-residing video makers — and has nothing much to do with any anger at well-meaning Americans per se.

Apparently no one in charge seems to grasp that this latest video pretext is simply yet another tool, in a long line of many, for premodern Islamists to manipulate and galvanize their fury against the United States, whose success and power obsess them no end — no matter what we do or who happens to be in the White House, soaring Cairo speech and “leading from behind” or not.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Yesterday began with something that can best be characterized as a "don't believe your eyes and ears, trust me on this" moment. Israeli Premier Bibi Netanyahu requested a meeting with Barack Obama later this month. The agenda, undoubtedly, was Iranian nuclear weapons development (the day was still young).

Netanyahu was informed that there was no time in the President's schedule for a meeting. Later, it was determined that on the proposed day of the meeting, Obama was scheduled to appear on David Letterman's TV show, but after all, softball interviews on TV are sooo much easier that a face-to-face with the leader of a our only true ally in the Middle East. An ally that is surrounded by hostile governments.

The political atmospherics were awful. It appeared to be still another snub of Israel's leader. Obama's supporters leaped into action, telling anyone in the media who would listen (without asking penetrating questions) that the President is Israel's best friend ever. Forget the early DNC platform (ultimately revised), forget the fact that Obama never visited Israel although he was sure to visit Cairo (more on that in a moment), forget that Obama suggested a return to the 1967 borders, thereby killing even a tenuous chance of progress in Israeli-Palestinian negotiation, forget ... well you get the idea. According to Obama supporters,"don't believe your eyes and ears, trust me on this."

On the afternoon of 9-11, the Arab spring harvested poisonous fruit. You remember the Arab spring—the event that the President lauded as a triumph for liberal thought in the Islamic world (not to mention a triumph for Facebook and Twitter). Egyptian Islamists attacked the American embassy over an offensive movie about Islam that was released months ago. Like the Mohammed cartoons, the Islamist response to words is violence, but no worries, the Obama administration was on the case. Our embassey was invaded, our flag was burned, and Islamists provided us with an eerie flash back to Iran in 1979.

The first communique for DoS was, in effect an apology (with a condemnation of violence thrown in a the end) to Islam for the movie, even though the US government had absolutely nothing to do with the movie. Again, the political atmospherics were awful, so the President's people began walking the original statement back, sounding tougher as the morning dawned. They've been doing quite a bit of walk-back lately.

This morning, we awoke to news that the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other American's had been killed in Bengazi. You remember Libya. That's the place where a coalition of NATO countries somehow forced Barack Obama to support a "kinetic action" to overthrow Gaddafi. Again, we were told by the President that Liberals would prevail, that the Arab spring was in full blossom. Instead, more poisonous fruit.

Events are still developing in Libya. It appears that a contingent of U.S. Marines has been dispatched to protect our Embassy (the right move), but four people are dead, including a senior government official.

What we're seeing is still another kind of fruit, harvested from the President's feckless and ineffective approach to foreign policy. Yeah, I know, "GM is alive and Osama bin Laden is dead." So is the U.S. Ambassador to Libya.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012


On the eve of the DNC, Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post notes:
Today we learned that U.S. manufacturing plunged to July 2009 levels and construction suffered its biggest drop in a year. Coupled with several weeks of increased first-time jobless claims, we can expect a poor jobs report on Friday.

So does President Obama and his party spend the week telling us things are better? Surely they would set themselves up for a bashing — unless the job numbers surprise us.

Does he say the economy would have been worse without him? Well, the Bush and Reagan recoveries were much stronger than whatever is we are experiencing. (Calling it a recovery flies in the face of voters’ deeply held conviction that we are still in a recession).

On the eve of the DNC, Politico reports that
Prices at the pump reached a national average of $3.83 Monday, according to AAA, setting a record high for a Labor Day.

On the eve of the DNC, USA Today notes:
Interest rates on bonds, CDs and money market accounts — staples of the retirement crowd's portfolio — are at historic lows. (I'm always shocked to see what banks are touting. Really? 0.35% — that is, 35/100 of a percent — on a money market? 0.90% on a CD? Yep.) Stocks are nothing to write home about, still well below their highs of five years ago. As for those real estate investments? Forget about it.

The squeeze [on middle class seniors] is real. Some years ago, when earning say 5% on your money was realistic, a $360,000 portfolio of CDs would produce $18,000 a year in interest — that's $1500 a month. Couple that with an unexceptional Social Security payment of about the same amount, and that's $36,000 a year, $3,000 a month. Nothing fancy, but enough to get by.

Now change that 5% to 0.9% and you're earning $3,240 per year, or about $270 a month. Add that to $1,500 a month in Social Security and you've got $1,770 a month to live on; just $21,240 a year. That's a brutal 41% cut in income. And it is why many senior citizens around the country are being forced to draw down savings to make ends meet.

On the even of the DNC, The Wall Street Journal reports:
In 2010 alone, government at all levels oversaw a transfer of over $2.2 trillion in money, goods and services. The burden of these entitlements came to slightly more than $7,200 for every person in America. Scaled against a notional family of four, the average entitlements burden for that year alone approached $29,000.

About one year before the DNC, USA Today reported:
The government paid a record $268 billion in pension and health benefits last year to 10 million former civil servants, military personnel and their dependents, about $100 billion more than was paid a decade earlier after adjusting for inflation. And $7 billion more was deposited into tax-deferred accounts of current workers.

In addition, the federal government last year made more than a half-trillion dollars in future commitments, valued in 2010 dollars that will cost far more to pay in coming decades. The government paid a record $268 billion in pension and health benefits last year to 10 million former civil servants, military personnel and their dependents, about $100 billion more than was paid a decade earlier after adjusting for inflation. And $7 billion more was deposited into tax-deferred accounts of current workers.
The President has not recommended any action or legislation to address this issue.

On the eve of the DNC, unemployment remains steady at 8.3 percent.

On the eve of the DNC, the median annual income in the United States has dropped by about $3,000 over the President's 40-plus months in office.

On the eve of the DNC, Bloomberg reports:
Food-stamp use reached a record 46.7 million people in June, the government said, as Democrats prepare to nominate President Barack Obama for a second term with the economy as a chief issue in the campaign.

Participation was up 0.4 percent from May and 3.3 percent higher than a year earlier and has remained greater than 46 million all year as the unemployment rate stayed higher than 8 percent.

On the eve of the DNC, the Bureau of Economic Analysis stated that GDP is an anemic 1.7 percent, down from a slightly less anemic 2.0 percent in the first quarter.

On the eve of the DNC, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that
The price index for gross domestic purchases, which measures prices paid by U.S. residents, increased 0.8 percent in the second quarter, 0.1 percentage point more than in the advance estimate; this index increased 2.5 percent in the first quarter. Excluding food and energy prices, the price index for gross domestic purchases increased 1.4 percent in the second quarter, compared with an increase of 2.4 percent in the first.
Inflation is beginning to warm up (as it had to, given that on Obama's watch, the Fed is printing money with abandon).

On the first day of the DNC, federal debt topped 16,000 billion dollars! And with Barack Obama's current budget "plan," federal debt will increase to well over 20,000 billion dollars by 2016!

On the second day of the DNC, CNBC reports:
The United States has slipped further down a global ranking of the world's most competitive economies, according to a World Economic Forum (WEF) survey released on Wednesday.

The world's largest economy, which was placed 5th last year, fell two positions to the 7th spot - marking its fourth year of decline.

A lack of macroeconomic stability, the business community’s continued mistrust of the government and concerns over its fiscal health were some of the reasons for the downgrade, according to the annual survey.

On the eve of the DNC, President Obama, when asked what grade he deserved on the economy, responded, “an incomplete.”

As an ex-professor, it’s my opinion that he’s marking on a really, really steep curve.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

More Flexibility

Pundits on the Left are making much of wording in the GOP platform, suggesting that platform positions be taken as a direct reflection of the positions of Mitt Romney. Okay, fair enough.

Today, The Washington Free Beacon reports that rather significant changes have been made in the Democrat platform and that many of these changes reflect directly on the party's position on Israel:
For Jerusalem, the new platform has been brought into line with the Obama administration’s policy of not recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and supporting its division. Jerusalem is unmentioned in the 2012 document, whereas the 2008 and 2004 Democratic Party platforms declared “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel…It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.” The Obama administration’s refusal to recognize Jerusalem has been a point of significant controversy in recent months.

On the issue of Palestinian refugees, the new document has removed language from the 2004 and 2008 platforms specifying that Palestinian “refugees” should be settled in a future Palestinian state, not in Israel.

The 2004 platform: “The creation of a Palestinian state should resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees by allowing them to settle there, rather than in Israel.”

The 2008 platform: The peace process “should resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees by allowing them to settle there, rather than in Israel.”

The 2012 platform contains no language on the matter.

In addition, past Democratic platforms have condemned the terrorist group Hamas—gone in the 2012 Democrat platform. Past Democrat platforms have indicated support for helping Israel maintain a qualitative military edge going forward. Now the following weasel wording has been substituted: “[t]he administration has also worked to ensure Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region,” with no commitment to doing so in the future.

Despite significant evidence to the contrary, the President's supporters argue that he is a good friend to Israel. However, if one were to take the new changes in the Democrat platform into account, and follow the lead of the president's supporters in suggesting the the candidate is irrevocably connected to the platform, one can only assume that Obama is less of a friend of Israel than many claim.

Furthermore, Obama has been caught [on an open microphone) stating to Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev that he will have "more flexibility" to conduct his version of foreign policy once the election is over. Implying with a smile, that once he is re-elected he will no longer have to court key electoral constituencies and can do as he pleases. One can only wonder if the substantive changes made to the platform are intended to set the stage for "more flexibility" when addressing the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Somehow, the changes in the Democrat platform imply "more flexibility" that will not be positive for our only ally in the Middle East. Typical, and very disturbing.

Update (9/5/2012):

In what appears to be a do-over, CNN reports that the Dems have decided to flee from a fire storm of criticism associated with the implications of their platform and revise it to be more more "pro-Israel." If, as pro-Obama supporters claim, the original platform statements and deletions provided such strong support for Israel, why on earth change them?

What's really amusing, though, is that it was done only after many voices were raised in opposition, most from outside the Democratic party. Looks suspiciously like a politically expedient, but begrudging move the belies the antipathy of the Obama administration (and some Left-wing Dems) toward Israel.

The next time you hear one of the President's spokespeople tell you that he's "the most pro-Israel president in history," ask a simple question: How could the most pro-Israel president in history allow the original platform (with its glaring omissions and lack of specificity) to be submitted, approved, and published?

Seems to me that Obama was okay with the platform in its original form, until the angry telephone calls from big donors began. Then he was against it. Can anyone say, flip-flop?

Sunday, September 02, 2012


This week, the Democratic Party will have its chance to convince moderate members of their own party and those of us in the Center that their standard bearer, Barack Obama, has had a successful first term. They'll have to convince us that the President has accomplished great things, that our standing in the world is growing stronger by the day, that hope and change have transformed the country into something much better than what it was, and that there's absolutely no reason to be anything but optimistic about the future.

They'll tell us President Obama has been an unequivocal domestic success, but somehow I suspect they'll avoid mentioning an economy teetering on the brink of a second recession, with an anemic GDP, a deficit that has grown more under this president than any other president in history, the first credit downgrade in the history of our nation, a jobs picture that moves into its 43rd straight month of 8.0+ percent unemployment, or the sad reality that 50% of this year's college graduates cannot find meaningful work.

They'll tell us that Barack Obama has a plan, and that we should trust him to execute the plan with the same competence and success he exhibited in his first four years.

Democrats will argue that the President killed Osama bin Laden and ended the war in Iraq. But somehow I suspect that Iraq's slow gravitation toward Iran and the continuing war in Afghanistan (and Obama's significant escalation of the same) will not be mentioned in great detail. I also suspect that our foreign policy failures in Iran, in Syria, and in North Korea will go unmentioned along with the President's complete lack of action to support Iran's green movement a few years back. And yeah, there won't be much discussion of Iran's continuing movement toward nukes and the complete fecklessness of Obama's soft power doctrine.

We may hear about the "Arab Spring" and the President's support for the Facebook and Twitter college kids in Arab countries, but I doubt we'll hear about how those same kids were run over by Islamists within months of the overthrow of their governments. Nor will we get any insight into the growing Islamist influence throughout the Arab crescent.

We will hear that Barack Obama is a great friend and supporter of Israel, despite reports this week (out of the Israeli press) that Obama's ambassador and the Israeli prime minister got into a very undiplomatic shouting match (topic undetermined, but one suspects Iran was mentioned once or twice). Nor will we have a better understanding of Obama's on-mike comment that he'll have "more flexibility" in his second term than his first.

We'll hear speaker after speaker tell us that the GOP wants to use the old tired economic policies of the 20th century, just like the ones that gave us low unemployment, high GDP growth, and relatively low deficits during the Clinton years. We'll hear about a "war on women," and a "war on gay people," even though the "war" has been on-going for 30 years through three GOP presidents and the Right is still losing it -- big. If history is our guide, cultural inertia is rightly on the side of the Left on these issues. The rights that some within the GOP wrongly want to abridge will not be modified, no matter who is president.

And of course, we'll hear about the GOP's lack of compassion for those in need. What we won't hear is what happens when the money runs out, when the programs designed to care for the poor, the elderly, and the infirm become insolvent.

We'll hear that taxing the rich is really, really important. What we won't hear is that even if we confiscated the entire income of the one percent, it wouldn't solve our deficit problems, but it sure would guarantee that high unemployment would remain in place for another four years.

But no worries. "Forward." is the solution -- just like "Hope and Change" were four years ago.

Listen carefully as events unfold in Charlotte*—very, very carefully. Then, decide.

* A few footnotes as the convention begins:

1. It's interesting to note that the national debt will surpass $16 trillion as the Democratic convention begins on Tuesday. Barack Obama has added almost $5 trillion to that total in less than 4 years. Forward.

2. Unemployment in France has surpassed 3 million with 10 percent of its citizens unemployed. This has occurred after Francois Hollande, a big government socialist, was elected last year and promised (and instituted) significant new taxes on the "rich" in an effort to reduce France's severe economic problems. Forward.