Obama’s Inconvenient Problems

I know President Obama wants all the problems he and his minions have created just to go away; they’re too inconvenient to his goals. He’s doing his best to act as if they’re inconsequential, but the news doesn’t really get better for him as time passes. Take Obamacare, for instance. This past week, the Congressional Budget Office—always referred to in the news as the nonpartisan CBO—revised its figures of the impact of Obamacare on jobs. It seems it will be instrumental in the loss of about 2.3 million fulltime jobs in the next few years. That’s not what the CBO said when the legislation was pending. Have you noticed how economic and jobs figures are seemingly in constant revision?

Let’s review the myriad disruptions to normal life caused by Obamacare:

Side Effects

But when these side effects are presented to the president, he makes light of them and declares his signature legislation to be a resounding success:

Light Dusting

Then there’s the IRS controversy, the ongoing investigation into the unfair targeting of conservative groups, representatives of whom testified yesterday in Congress as to the strains and pressures they have faced from that federal agency. Obama’s claim that there’s not even a smidgen of corruption connected to the scandal is becoming as infamous as Bill Clinton’s “it depends on what the definition of ‘is’ is.” Will this fly with the informed part of the public?

Not Even a Smidgen

The president’s constant fallback when confronted with these issues is to blame others. For years, he has solemnly asserted most of his economic hiccups were caused by George Bush. Now, five years into his presidency, that’s got to be wearing thin with anyone who possesses even a smidgen of brain power. Another favorite scapegoat has been Fox News, which is merely following the evidence on these various scandals and not allowing them to be swept under the rug. Obama’s tendency to blame Fox surfaced again this week in his interview with Bill O’Reilly:

Fox News

And then there’s the always-reliable excuse of racism. Who can ever counter that one? Well, perhaps Martin Luther King, were he still with us today, might have a few choice words about using that excuse:

Content of Character

Amidst all the controversy, though, Obama has one faithful ally that will always do its best to come to his rescue:

Swan

And that’s what makes it so difficult to have an informed public.

The Gates Book

Robert Gates is a man who has served faithfully on defense issues in administrations from Nixon to the present one. He has worked with both Republican and Democrat presidents and has built a reputation of steadfastness and integrity respected by both sides of the political world. He has now decided to let his thoughts out on what it was like to be secretary of defense for both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations.

DutyGates’s new book, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, has just become available. I haven’t read it yet so can’t comment on the contents entirely; I plan to get it soon. However, tantalizing bits from the book have been released over the past week, and those excerpts have caused quite a stir.

People who know him and his reputation are surprised that he is so open with his views now that he has left office with no expectation of returning to the fray. According to reports, the book paints a picture of President Obama that is not very flattering overall. Gates credits the president with courage for deciding to take out Osama bin Laden, but expresses dismay at the constant intrusion of political considerations into the decisionmaking.

While he contends that political influences weren’t necessarily the final determining factor in military and defense decisions, he was startled by what a powerful role they played, especially when dealing with the security of the nation. He writes of overhearing both Obama and Hillary Clinton admitting to opposing Bush’s surge in Iraq for purely political reasons. He says the only real passion he ever saw Obama exhibit on military matters was the push to overturn “don’t ask, don’t tell.” And he was astonished that Obama didn’t trust any of the leading generals on the ground in Afghanistan and only agreed to some type of surge there halfheartedly. In fact, he says Obama didn’t really expect it to work, but did it anyway with no enthusiasm.

Change Subject

Gates has far kinder words for Bush, considering him a man of integrity who sought to do what was best for the country’s security. But he is quite harsh, apparently, on congressional leaders in both parties who, he believes, are more concerned with preening before television cameras for their own political fortunes rather than being serious about defense policies.

Interestingly, these excerpts show he has considerable disdain for VP Biden; Gates opines that Biden has been wrong about every foreign policy issue during his entire four decades in Washington:

Streak Continues

That’s about all I should say at this point. When I get the chance to read the book for myself, I’ll have a more solid basis for further comment. Yet what we already know is pretty damaging to an administration that has been rather adept at damaging itself in almost every endeavor it has attempted. Except for some specific anecdotes, perhaps the question we should really ask is whether Gates is telling us anything we didn’t know from our own observations. But even if all he has given us is confirmation of the obvious, that’s still a public service.

The Middle East Mess: Obama Disconnected

The Middle East is more of a mess with each passing day. And we helped. The major player now in that area is not the United States but Iran, which is actively exporting its Islamist ideology. I know that George Bush’s actions can be critiqued, but at least when he decided to unleash a surge in Iraq, it worked. Radical elements in that country were set back significantly. Iraq, for the first time in quite a while, experienced something approaching stability.

That has now changed.

Anyone remember the city of Fallujah? It was Islamist Central until we finally brought it under control. The same with the city of Ramadi. What’s happening now? Fallujah is now back under the domination of Al Qaeda. There is no longer any Iraqi government presence there; the Al Qaeda flag is flying from all the buildings. Ramadi is now a battleground, prepared to go the same way.

Barack Obama inherited a fairly stable Iraq, but instead of keeping a small force there to maintain stability, he chose to pull out completely. When’s the last time you heard him say anything about Iraq? He seems to have forgotten it, and apparently doesn’t much care what happens. He never believed in our intervention there in the first place, so he’s disconnected to events on the ground. Being disconnected to events is one of the themes of his governance.

What about Afghanistan? We’re about to see the same scenario play out there. Even though Obama once said this was the right war, one he could support, he’s in the process of pulling an Iraq in Afghanistan. The Taliban, who were driven from the country, are now reentering. Instability is on the rise. Another tragedy is in the offing.

Behind all of this is the belligerence of Iran, the big power now in the region. It continues to develop nuclear capability, while we pretend its leaders are becoming more moderate. The “deal” Obama-Kerry want to solidify with that rogue nation has no mechanism to stop Iran’s drive toward domination, including a publicly stated intent to destroy Israel once it attains nuclear status. There’s a lot of posturing going on that belies the reality:

Sheep & Wolf

It’s always easy to talk tough, but one must have the stomach and backbone to follow through with action. Maybe that’s what’s missing:

Too Transparent

Given the opportunity to make his mark and stand up to Iran, our leader chose another path:

Iran

We are not in a good place. Unless there is a jarring wake-up call to this administration, things are going to get worse, much worse, very soon.

On Clowns, Presidents, & the First Amendment

I always prefer to write about truly significant events or great insights offered by the wisest people. Then there are days that simply dictate what needs to be written, whether significant or not. This is one of those days.

I have a difficult time believing I have to comment on what a rodeo clown did last week, but the story refuses to die. You probably already know what happened, but for the few who live in a monastery somewhere carefully crafting illuminated manuscripts, let me get you up to speed. The gist of it: a rodeo clown wore an Obama mask; the announcer said something about how real clowns know they are clowns but Obama doesn’t realize his status as a clown; then a comment was made about the bull possibly running over the clown, who was there of course to distract the bull away from a thrown rider.

That’s the entire story. Well, it should have been. But now all the perpetually outraged amongst us are at it again. It’s okay, in their view, to ridicule the King of Kings who reigns forever, but one must never do so to The One who now reigns temporarily in one country, and who will be retired to the realm of private citizen after the next election. It’s just fine to take the name of the Lord of Lords in vain, but no one may dare mock a mere human who himself shows disdain for that Lord of Lords. The outrage is disproportional, but it does clarify the worldview of those so outraged:

Blasphemy

Before I go any further, let me assure everyone that I think the rodeo’s attempt at humor was rather tawdry, and that it never should have happened. Yet, in our society, at our current stage of devolution, even a stupid action leads to calls for “justice.” The clown involved has been banned from future Missouri rodeos, all the clowns are now subject to sensitivity training, and the NAACP, convinced that racism is behind this action [well, the NAACP is convinced racism is behind nearly everything], is demanding that both the Secret Service and the DOJ carry out further investigations. Such actions should not permitted in America without severe penalties, they seem to think:

Hate Crime Division

Let’s just reflect for a moment on how previous presidents have been treated. During the Vietnam War, LBJ and Nixon were castigated in public in every protest and demonstration. Protesters wore masks with the presidents’ faces on them, and many screamed for their heads, quite literally. While I don’t condone language that might set someone off and lead to violence, if the government had decided at that time to jail every protester and fill the courts with trials, the legal system would have ground to a halt. Some actions are sinful, but not unlawful. Some actions are distasteful and ugly, but not necessarily subject to legal redress.

The same could be said of how protesters treated Ronald Reagan during his presidency. Reagan masks were everywhere, depicting the president as an evil, cruel warmonger. No one was indicted for doing so. And then there’s George W. Bush. Anyone remember this image of him that was going around?

Bushitler

Should someone be prosecuted for that? Apparently Bush didn’t think so. The Justice Department wasn’t unleashed on those who promoted the image. Here’s an apt comparison:

 Let Me Be Clear

How has Barack Obama responded to his followers’ calls for justice? He’s silent, as usual, when it comes to soothing the outrage. Peggy Noonan made an astute observations the other day that is worth quoting. She said,

Let me suggest a classy Obama move that might go over well. From his Vineyard vacation spot he should have the press office issue a release saying his reaction to finding out a rodeo clown was rudely spoofing him, was, “So what?” Say he loves free speech, including inevitably derision directed at him, and he does not wish for the Missouri state fair to fire the guy, and hopes those politicians (unctuously, excessively, embarrassingly) damning the clown and the crowd would pipe down and relax. This would be graceful and nice, wouldn’t it?

Noonan, however, doesn’t stop there because she has seen this president in action for nearly five years. She continues,

He would never do it. He gives every sign of being a person who really believes he shouldn’t be made fun of, and if he is it’s probably racially toned, because why else would you make fun of him?

 It’s not good to have developed that kind of reputation. One cartoonist, by the way, in commenting on President Obama’s penchant for classy vacations, has an idea that he thinks would help the country:

Keep America Strong

Well, he’s probably just a racist and should be prosecuted for airing his view. Now that I’ve shared his view, should I be subject to prosecution also? Where are we headed as a country? What is the future of the First Amendment? There are many indications we’re not as free to speak openly as we used to be.

Holder, Obama, & the Current Scandals

The pressure is mounting on Attorney General Eric Holder to resign. His transgressions predate the current scandals, but these recent revelations certainly highlight the basic character of the man. This is a character that was evident to many from the start, but only now has the knowledge spread to the more general population. The chief law enforcer for the country should be above reproach. That doesn’t describe Holder.

Nah

In the bizzaro world of Democrat politics, President Obama doesn’t seem to find anything wrong with having Holder conduct the investigation into himself:

Got a Lead

Possible Co-conspirator

Without going into all the details of Holder’s inconsistencies—otherwise known as lies—one thing has become painfully obvious:

Can't Stand the Heat

Yet, with all the attention on Holder, the man who is ultimately responsible is not receiving the focus he deserves for his part in all the scandals. Of course, his defense is that either he is totally ignorant or completely incompetent. That’s supposed to inspire confidence?

My Job

Lead from Behind

The one talent he has honed during his tenure is the ability to blame others for whatever goes wrong. For a while, it was all George Bush’s fault. Now he’s having to look for other scapegoats:

Low-Level Staffers

If you’re looking for someone to model how to throw others under the bus, you’ve found him.

Summarizing the Scandals–Thus Far

My goal today is to attempt a summary of the three controversies swirling around the presidency right now. I can’t promise to include everything that ought to be included, but I do hope to make sense of it all. If you’ve been too busy to follow all the details, perhaps this can help pull it together. In the spirit of Watergate, I’ve decided to put a “gate” on each one. As far as I’m concerned, they more than deserve that “honor”; each one is far worse than the original.

Benghazigate

  • The killing of four Americans, including our ambassador, on 9/11/12 is the only one of these controversies that cost lives. That, in itself, makes it the worst of the three. There are three stages of this controversy:
    • Prior to the attack: Security measures were far below standards in a country on the verge of chaos and infiltrated with radical Muslim groups. Repeated requests for added security were either ignored or rejected by the State Dept. Some reports also indicate that we may have been using Libya as a center for a gun-running operation to Syrian rebels, many of whom are also radical Islamists.
    • During the attack: On-the-ground communications gave us a blow-by-blow description of what was happening in real time. Those whose lives were in danger asked for help. Two former Navy Seals rushed to the scene and again sought help from the military. There was help available, and as a team was assembled and ready to go their aid, they got a “stand down” order that, according to Gregory Hicks, the top diplomat in Libya still alive, greatly angered the colonel in charge of the troops. Due to that order, no aid came and the Seals were killed after a stalwart defense. Who gave the “stand down” order? No one is claiming responsibility.
    • After the attack: Now we know that the decisionmakers, from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama, had information right from the start that implicated radical Islamists. They chose to edit all mention of terrorism out of the infamous talking points that UN ambassador Susan Rice used to go on Sunday news programs. They uniformly blamed some obscure anti-Islam video on the Internet for causing this attack. None of the documentation that has been revealed thus far provides any rationale for blaming that video, yet even President Obama, two weeks later, was using it as the cause in a speech to the UN. Despite assurances that those responsible would be dealt with, no one in Libya has ever been charged; yet the man who produced the video was rounded up and jailed, and he remains there to this day.
    • It’s hard not to believe the accusations that this has been a coverup from day one. Added to the despicable nature of this coverup is that it occurred during the campaign as a way of ensuring another Obama term.
    • More whistleblowers may be forthcoming. Not one person who was in Benghazi who survived this attack has ever said a word about what occurred. Are they under a gag order from this administration? Are they being intimidated in some way?

IRS-Gate

  • Last Friday, in anticipation of the release of an inspector general’s report, the IRS official in charge of the Exempt Organization Division, Lois Lerner, issued an apology for how the agency had targeted conservative groups for at least two years, holding them to near-impossible standards before allowing them to be considered tax exempt.

    • Ever since that admission, there have been daily reports of how these organizations were subjected to harassment. Any group seeking tax exemption that included “Tea Party,” “patriot,” limited government,” or any similar wording in their names became a target. This was a scorched-earth attempt to defund these organizations and to limit their effectiveness as the 2012 presidential election neared.
    • It also has come to light that donors to Republicans, particularly donors to Mitt Romney, were singled out for audits. This went beyond donors to other tax-exempt organizations that exhibited support for Romney. The most egregious example was the auditing of the Billy Graham Association after Rev. Graham vocally supported a defense-of-marriage law in North Carolina and then had favorable things to say about candidate Romney.

    • President Obama claims he knew nothing about this until he read the news accounts. Right. As if the president of the United States relies on the media for his information. Then he asked for the resignation of the acting commissioner of the IRS, who, it turns out, was planning on retiring in a couple of months anyway. He further says the IRS is an independent agency over which he has no direct control. Really? It is under the Treasury Department, which is run by Obama’s secretary of the treasury. He has direct oversight. Any claim to the contrary is invalid.
    • In a particularly strange and tone-deaf move, Sarah Hall Ingram, who served as commissioner of the office overseeing tax-exempt organizations, has now been tabbed to lead the IRS enforcement of Obamacare. What could possibly go wrong?
    • Then, yesterday, Obama announced his appointment of Daniel Werfel to take over the IRS. Who is Werfel? A current White House budget official. In other words, let’s hire the fox to guard the hen house.

AP-Gate

  • The Justice Department secretly got access to two months’ worth of telephone conversations between reporters for the AP and whomever they might have contacted for their stories. Ostensibly, this was done for national security reasons—that the AP endangered national security by releasing a story about a successful effort to thwart a terrorist attack in Yemen.

    • Now we know that there was no longer a threat by the time the AP released its story. It had worked with the administration to sit on it for five days prior to release. Reports now indicate that the offense, if that be the right word, was in releasing it before the administration had the opportunity to boast about its successful operation. There was no national security threat at all at the time AP made the decision.
    • This is a clear First Amendment issue (as is the IRS controversy), and the media, which has always sided with Obama, is showing signs of alienation from him for the first time in five years.
    • Both Obama and Attorney General Holder say they have no knowledge of what occurred. Obama says, rather implausibly, that the White House doesn’t know what its own Justice Department is doing; Holder says he earlier recused himself from the operation, although he doesn’t recall just when he did so and has nothing in writing to prove it.

In every case, Obama has tried to have it both ways: he knew nothing, yet don’t worry, he’s fully in charge and everything’s going to be fine.

Let’s just say I’m not all that assured. When George Bush was president, you may have disagreed with some of his decisions, but at least you knew what he had decided and that he took responsibility for his actions. The Obama presidency has been a study in opposites:

These controversies have only begun. They have not played out, and won’t very soon in spite of the administration’s desire to put them to rest. Don’t be surprised, either, if a few more get added on to these three. The arrogance of this president and his minions practically guarantees it.

Our Budget-Conscious President

I’ve had some pretty serious things to say the past few days, and they were things that needed to be said. How about some levity today? What’s nice about looking for levity is that often you don’t have to stray past a new Obama headline in the news. A couple days ago, I heard this joke:

President Barack Obama, who has increased the national debt by $53,377 per household, has proclaimed April “National Financial Capability Month,” during which his administration will do things such as teach young people “how to budget responsibly.”

“I call upon all American to observe this month with programs and activities to improve their understanding of financial principles and practices,” Obama said in an official proclamation released Friday.

“My administration is dedicated to helping people make sound decisions in the marketplace,” he said.

Alright now, get up off the floor. Laughing that hard could cause long-term physical damage. Yes, I know Obama hasn’t yet submitted his budget for this year. Yes, I know he plans to submit it 65 days late, thereby violating the law. Yes, I realize this is the third year in a row he has done this. And yes, I understand he’s the only president in American history to have submitted late budgets in consecutive years. Hey, give the guy a break. He’s never run anything before that required a budget. Everyone needs some on-the-job training. What’s that? You say you don’t want him teaching your children how to budget? Why, think of what they could learn from his experience!

Besides, the job of being president is so wearying that both Obama and his family need an occasional vacation:

George Bush got out of Washington quite often also, but spent most of those days at his own ranch in Texas, where he continued to work. Same with Ronald Reagan, who signed his major tax cut bill at his ranch outside Santa Barbara, California. It’s more the nature of the Obamas’ vacations that stand out. They’re always at some fancy resort or super-expensive locale—all at the taxpayers’ expense, of course.

Having this president lecture anyone on fiscal responsibility is like listening to Bill Clinton speak on the importance of marital fidelity.