Let’s Count the Scapegoats

We’re now in the fourth year of the Obama recovery. At least that’s what we’re told. Yet recovery seems to be a little hard to locate. Obama famously said in 2009 that if the economy hasn’t rebounded by the end of his term, he would be a one-term president. For some reason, he’s backpedaling on that comment. What stands out above all else is his penchant for blaming everyone and everything—besides himself, of course—for the moribund state of things. A number of really excellent political cartoons have highlighted this tendency. This one shows the blindness that exists in the current administration:

Either the president can’t understand how he has sabotaged recovery or he is obstinate. Neither option is encouraging. So, in order to deflect criticism of his policies, he’s has to come up with alternate explanations for why we’re still shipwrecked. The explanations sound more like, well, this:

Who’s to blame? Let’s count the scapegoats:

The second one on the list has become his favorite, despite the fact that George Bush has been out of office for nearly four years. It requires some fancy spin to make this one work:

So what does the president offer as a solution to the problem?

That’s either faith or foolishness. I opt for the latter. What’s needed is for the federal government to back off and allow the economic engine to run itself, but the president and his cronies don’t trust the private sector. I mean, someone might actually make a profit, which seems to be their definition of unfairness.

Dilbert isn’t a blatantly political cartoon, but sometimes it points out a problem that has an application to policy. Take this one, for instance:

Yes, there it is.

About That Private Sector Comment

It appears the president dug a pretty deep hole with his comment about how the private sector is doing fine. It always takes a few days for the cartoonists to catch up to events, but they’ve done so now. In one respect, President Obama is correct about the state of the private sector. These private sector cartoonists are doing quite well. Here’s a sampling:

Of course, the president tried to “walk it back” a few hours later, but wasn’t too successful:

Maybe that will teach him not to wing it. He definitely needs those teleprompters. The other theme he keeps stressing is that he’s not responsible for all the deficit spending the last three and one half years. He’s still blaming former President Bush. When does the statute of limitations run out on blaming others? For this president, apparently never.

A Hierarchy of Courage vs. a Partisan Political Ploy

President Obama seems to have stepped in it again. He has taken an event that should have been a uniting feature of the War on Terror—the killing of Osama bin Laden one year ago—and turned it into a partisan political ploy. A new ad has Bill Clinton—Bill Clinton, mind you—praising the courage and leadership of Obama as he made the decision to proceed with the raid that led to bin Laden’s death.

Now, I’m not going to detract from the significance of making that decision. It was the right call. But then the ad goes on to imply that the presumptive Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, might not have had the backbone to do the same. This is the Obama team at its partisan worst. When we all should be glad that a master terrorist reaped the consequences of his evil actions, we are treated instead to a glorified image of the current president interwoven into his reelection campaign:

What, in fact, did he do that anyone else in his position would not have done? As Romney quipped, even Jimmy Carter would have made the same call. There’s also no credit being given to all the groundwork that was laid by the Bush administration that led to the raid. In particular, Obama and his allies have decried the enhanced interrogation techniques that effectively provided the information necessary to make the “takeout” possible. Then there’s the SEAL Team itself, which is largely forgotten in the reelection bid. No, this is all about Obama. What’s devastating is that SEAL members are speaking out, miffed over the grandiose role being promoted for the president. One cartoonist, Michael Ramirez, has displayed his feelings about Obama’s role rather blatantly:

Obama made the right decision, but his decision was not the most courageous on that day. He was simply doing what was necessary after all the spadework had been done for him. It was the soldiers who put their lives on the line to accomplish the mission. There was a hierarchy of courage in the events that transpired one year ago today.

Location, Location, Location

I have no problem with presidents taking vacations. With modern communications technology, no president is out of touch with world events or incapable of fulfilling the mandates of the office, no matter where he may be. Therefore, I don’t criticize President Obama for taking a vacation at this time, particularly in the last part of August when Congress is in recess. But if he is not out of touch with the world at large, his choice of vacation spots reveals a different kind of “out of touch.”

Martha’s Vineyard, I’m sure, is very nice. I’ve heard it is; I’ve never been there. One reason I’ve never been there is probably because I’m not a fabulously rich liberal. The Vineyard is one of the playgrounds of the super rich, probably 90% of whom agree with Obama’s policies. That’s why when a news report said a crowd he met there wasn’t the least bit critical of him, but showed adoration instead, I was not surprised. He’s with his people; he’s in his element.

Again, he has every right to take his vacation wherever he chooses, but the choice of Martha’s Vineyard, at a time when he is calling for shared sacrifice from all Americans, is more than a little tone deaf.

Reagan usually went to his ranch outside Santa Barbara, where he cut underbrush and rode his horses. Bush had his ranch in Crawford, Texas, where he retreated for vacations. The media hated that place; it was in the middle of nowhere, with no amenities. The down-home, everyman tastes of those two presidents contrast rather sharply with the expensive tastes of the White House’s current occupant.

So, President Obama, enjoy your vacation. Just don’t be surprised if some people don’t understand your vacation choice. You know how unreasonable we are in the sticks. We’re always clinging to our religion and our guns, and we’re suspicious of anyone different than we are. Those were your words, by the way, another indication of how out of touch you might be.

Personally, I don’t own a gun, and I welcome people of all ethnic backgrounds because we are all made in God’s image. As for clinging to religion, I have to modify that also—“clinging” implies someone who is fearful and hangs on to tradition for safety’s sake. My religious faith is not a matter of fearful clinging; it’s a heartfelt devotion to the One who ransomed me from sin, death, and damnation. I’m eternally grateful.

Vacations are great. Really. And I think fewer of your fellow citizens would be critical of yours if you had any inkling of what life is like in what the elites call “flyover country.” Get acquainted. There are some reasonable people out here. Try a genuine listening tour sometime rather than a series of photo ops. Be willing to take criticism seriously instead of dismissing it outright. You might be surprised what you can learn.

Time to Touch the Third Rail

We create our own problems. Case in point: Social Security. The original intent was to ensure solvency for those who could no longer work because of age, disability, or loss of a husband. Worthy intention, to be sure. But I’m always reminded of a book I read once with the title Beyond Good Intentions. The thesis of the book was that good intentions do not necessarily lead to good policies. In fact, quite often the policies undermine the original intent. That’s what’s happening with Social Security.

FDR signed this into law back in 1935. It was one of a multitude of programs in the New Deal that had no basis in constitutional authority. That was mistake number one. It was built on the philosophy that the private sector could be milked to create a welfare state. Mistake number two. It didn’t take into account longer life spans in the future [knowing the future is usually rather difficult, don’t you think?] and the mushrooming number of individuals who would one day be claiming the benefit. Mistake number three.

What began as a program where one recipient was funded by approximately thirty people paying into the system inexorably degenerated into a bankrupt debacle. For the first time, this past year, more funds were going out of the system than were coming in. Needless to say, this can’t go on forever. But few are the politicians who wish to touch this “third rail” of American politics—they risk losing their political lives.

President Bush tried to make a minor modification to Social Security by proposing that individuals should be able to designate a small amount of their “contribution” [how’s that for a euphemism—forced to make a contribution—I thought contributions were voluntary] into some stock, if they chose to do so. The third rail struck again. Cries of “you’re taking away our Social Security” rent the air.

Let me be clear: since the government made the promise, no matter how unconstitutional it was, it has to fulfill the promise. We have poured our “contributions” into this monstrosity all our lives, so we should get some of it back. I learned, though, how the system worked when my dad died in 2004. While he was still alive, both he and my mom were receiving Social Security checks. After he died, she lost hers, since she was only allowed the larger of the two.

That would never happen if the money were truly yours. Don’t believe the lie that you have a trust fund set aside just for you.

Something has to change; we are at the breaking point. But instead of tackling the problem at its root, we settle for tinkering with the edges of it.

Now is the time for political courage. Who will show the way?

Blindness & Misplaced Empathy

The Arab Spring, so beloved by the media, is closer to the Islamist Ascendancy. Western blindness, as I’ve noted before, keeps us from recognizing the reality. In Egypt, the crowds listen to an imam who calls for the killing of all Jews. The streets erupt with jubilant agreement. Where are the reports of this? What is taking place in the Islamic world is the rise of the jihadists who want to kill us all. If you don’t think that’s the case, you’re not paying attention.

That’s why I’ve written so many posts with quotes from Mark Steyn’s America Alone. He gets it. Steyn comments,

If this were World War One, with their fellows in one trench and us in ours facing them over some boggy piece of terrain, it would be over very quickly. Which the smarter Islamists have figured out. They know they can never win on the battlefield, but they figure there’s an excellent chance they can drag things out until Western Civilization collapses in on itself and Islam inherits by default.

What’s the nub of the problem?

Meanwhile, we fight the symptoms—the terror plots—but not the cause: the ideology. The self-imposed constraints of this war—legalistic, multilateral, politically correct—are clearer every day. “Know your enemy,” they say. They know us very well. Do we know them at all?

Steyn wrote those words in 2005, back when we had an administration that had a better handle on the problem [although Bush also gave too much credit to Islam as a “religion of peace”]. What do we face today with Barack Obama in the White House?

He may have made the final decision to take out Osama bin Laden, but that was merely one action against an individual responsible for running a terror network. Does he really understand the immensity of this network? Does he understand and not care? Where are his sympathies? Take a poll of the Israeli people, and you have your answer.

Blindness is one thing; empathy for those who seek to commit genocide is something else.

Stupid Is As Stupid Does?

I want to go on record as admiring former President Bush for not showing up at Ground Zero the other day when invited by President Obama. What it means is that Bush is not a narcissist—he doesn’t live for his own glory. He will be there on 9/11 this year to commemorate that fateful day ten years ago, but he didn’t use the death of bin Laden to crow about his own greatness.

As for President Obama …

For someone who talks about not “spiking the football,” he seems to be doing a bit of end zone celebrating. He also talked on 60 Minutes about how the time watching the operation go down was the longest of his life. Please—it’s not really all about you.

A number of sources within the intelligence community have pointed to the enhanced interrogation techniques as one of the keys for getting the information that ultimately led to finding bin Laden. Yet what is this administration doing? Attorney General Eric Holder is still moving forward in an attempt to prosecute those who conducted those interrogations.

To quote Forrest Gump: “Stupid is as stupid does.” I think I’m finally beginning to understand that phrase; I’m seeing it in action.