All posts in Cynicism

Okay, wait a second, does he actually believe this?

The more realistic and cynical mercenaries in Obama’s camp no doubt understand that Ambassador Susan Rice’s continued insistence that the rampaging violence and murder by the Libyan Muslim group was purely a spontaneous act brought about by hurt feelings at the YouTube trailer on Mohammed is, as the Libyan President calls it, preposterous.

Then something perhaps even scarier dawned on me.  Maybe Obama actually believes his own propaganda.  I wonder if he is constitutionally incapable of recognizing that his sophomoric thesis that his election would bring about a new age of warmth and conciliation between the United States and the Muslim world was, well, preposterous.

Nah…

And then we told them it wasn’t a tax!

20120708-212532.jpg

What the president does and doesn’t understand

Contrary to some reports that the president just doesn’t understand certain things (e.g., outsourcing v offshoring per National Review), I think he understands some of those things quite well.  And I would venture that if we conservatives do not appreciate this fact we do so at our grave peril.  I believe, for example, that Obama knows perfectly well what the difference is between outsourcing and offshoring, but he has chosen to deliberately mislead folks who don’t know the difference because he thinks he can score some easy points at Romney’s expense.  He probably can.  But let’s call it for what it is.

I think it’s a different story on jobs.  I’ve advised folks for many years who may be competent in many areas but really don’t understand finance or the basic principles of money and the economy.  These folks rely on intuition, emotion, headline news and other people for their opinions.  The president of course has access to endless amounts of information about the economy and financial matters, but at heart it’s all academic for him since he’s never worked for an actual company that gauges its success from its balance sheet and income statement.  A company is the atomic particle that, together with other particles, makes up the organism that is our economy.  And it is clear from his words that our president doesn’t understand some of the most fundamental principles that give life to this being.

Obama’s response to the latest jobs data is just one more example of his fog on the issue.  He calls the non-growth in jobs a “step in the right direction.”  Come again?

Of course I think part of that is the typical Obama political deceit (anyone remember the growth we were supposed to get from the stimulus (and that small issue of the nation’s debt topping 100% of GDP about 10 years earlier than planned)?). But the other side of that coin is that when it comes to economic issues he really has no idea what he’s talking about, which is why so much of what he says lacks any ballast.

Oh yeah, and by the way, the jobs report is worse than you think or he’s willing to admit.

Whaaaat? You mean Obama’s a hypocrite?!

It only makes it worse when you consider the most visceral hatred for Bush came from the compassionate liberals so horrified at the mistreatment of criminals in the War on Terror.  Of course, it was never really about that.

In a city full of them, Harold Koh is Washington’s biggest hypocrite.

As the dean of Yale Law School, Koh was the most prominent critic of the Bush administration’s counterterrorism policies, deriding them as “executive muscle-flexing.” The former President, Koh said, was the “torturer-in-chief.” In a 2002 interview with The New York Times, he referred to the war on terror as “legally undeclared” and questioned the administration’s right to kill terrorists on the battlefield. “What factual showing will demonstrate that they had warlike intentions against us and who sees that evidence before any action is taken?” he asked.

In 2009, after the election of Barack Obama, Koh was awarded the job of State Department legal adviser. Since that time, he has defended a war waged in Libya without explicit congressional authorization, drone strikes targeting suspected terrorists and the extrajudicial assassination of an American citizen who had become a leading Al Qaeda ideologist.

None of these, however, can be considered the greatest of Koh’s manifold hypocrisies. That honor stems from a 2010 speech in which he triumphantly declared that the Obama administration “unequivocally guarantee(s) humane treatment for all individuals in U.S. custody as a result of armed conflict” (emphasis original).

One wonders, then, what Koh would make of Eli Lake’s blockbuster Daily Beast story last week. Reporting from Somalia, Lake found a secret prison holding alleged terrorists captured by, or with the assistance of, the United States.

“Overcrowded, underfunded, and reeking of urine, the Bosaso Central Prison could make even the most dedicated insurgent regret ever getting into the terrorism business,” Lake wrote. The prison’s warden told Lake that nearly 400 men are being held in a facility designed for 300. There today exist an untold number of such prisons where terrorism suspects, dispensed with by the United States, live in substandard, dehumanizing conditions.

The proliferation of such hellish prisons — which make Guantanamo Bay look like Trump Tower — is a function of two, seemingly contradictory impulses of the Obama administration: a near-religious conviction in its own moral immaculateness and the imperative to wage an aggressive fight against Al Qaeda.

Is the Socialization of America Economically Impossible?

Brandon Smith at Alt-Market has written a very interesting piece that is turning up across the web.  His bottom line is that socialism is bankrupt as a system and the United States is already insolvent.

Unfortunately I don’t agree that Obamacare couldn’t be implemented or that we couldn’t as a country go a lot farther down the road towards socialism.  To buy into the argument as a practical matter is to invite a lot of pain on the belief that purity of reason always prevails.  In fact it rarely does, and it certainly does not in the short run.

That said, I would encourage you to read his article.  His premise is spot on and his conclusions are logical and, apart from the timing component, mostly correct.  Smith:

I understand the dream of the common socialist.  I was, after all, once a Democrat.  I understand the disparity created in our society by corporatism (not capitalism, though some foolish socialists see them as exactly the same).  I understand the drive and the desire to help other human beings, especially those in dire need, and the tendency to see government as the ultimate solution to all our problems.  That said, let’s be honest; government is in the end just a tool used by one group or another to implement a particular methodology or set of principles.  Unfortunately, what most socialists today don’t seem to understand is that no matter what strategies they devise, they will NEVER have control.  And, those they wish to help will be led to suffer, because the establishment does not care about them, or you.  The establishment does not think of what it can give, it thinks about what it can take.  Socialism, in the minds of the elites, is a con-game which allows them to quarry the favor of the serfs, and nothing more.

There are other powers at work in this world; powers that have the ability to play both sides of the political spectrum.  The money elite have been wielding the false left/right paradigm for centuries, and to great effect.  Whether socialism or corporatism prevails, they are the final victors, and the game continues onward…

Knowing this fact, I find that my reactions to the entire Obamacare debate rather muddled.  Really, I see the whole event as a kind of circus, a mirage, a distraction.  Perhaps it is because I am first and foremost an economic analyst, and when looking at Obamacare and socialization in general, I see no tangibility.  I see no threat beyond what we as Americans already face.  Let me explain…

Socialism Is Failure
A country that feels the need to socialize has, in my view, already failed culturally.  Read more…

What we should really be upset about

Obama’s Systematic Assault on the Truth

| @Peter_Wehner 07.02.2012 – 9:19 AM

The Democratic talking points have been issued and are being followed to the letter (see here and here). And they go like this: The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is not a tax; it’s a penalty. Those who suggests it’s a tax are wrong, in error, disingenuous, and dissemblers.

Here’s the problem, though: characterizing the Affordable Care Act as a tax isn’t simply the interpretation of Chief Justice John Roberts and a majority of the Supreme Court; it’s the interpretation of the Obama administration.

As this story put it:

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said the Court had a duty to uphold an act of Congress if there was a constitutional basis for doing so. And the basis he seized on was the fallback argument [Solicitor General Donald] Verrilli included in the briefs—that the Constitution gives Congress a broad power to impose taxes to “provide for the general welfare.”

The government’s legal brief said the insurance mandate operates in practice as a tax law. No one would be prosecuted or punished for not having insurance. If they had taxable income, however, they would be forced to pay a small tax penalty.

The chief justice agreed with this argument, and so did the four liberal justices. Though Congress may not “order” people to buy insurance, Roberts held in the 5-4 decision, it may impose a small tax on those who refuse.

The Affordable Care Act, then, was upheld as constitutional based on the tax argument put forward by President Obama’s legal team. And yet the Obama administration is now insisting the Affordable Care Act never was a tax, is not now a tax, and shall never be a tax.

This is yet another example of how Barack Obama is a thoroughly post-modern president. Words and facts have no objective standing; they are relative, socially constructed, a way to advance personal reality. If referring to the Affordable Care Act as a tax helps advance the Obama agenda, then it’s a tax. If referring to the ACA as a penalty helps advance the Obama agenda, it becomes a penalty.

You like tomato and I like tomahto.

That philosophy may be fine for liberal arts professors and even tolerable among community organizers. But when the president of the United States systematically assaults truth—if words mean whatever you want them to mean—it becomes rather more problematic. Yet that is precisely where the United States finds itself in the summer of 2012.

From Commentary.

Enough with the whining and hand-wringing. Let’s move on

I’m as interested in what the pundits and legal analysts have to say about the recent Obamacare ruling as the next guy. It was an absolutely fascinating piece of jurisprudence that people, and future courts, will be trying to untangle perhaps for generations to come.

But I’m tired of hearing the whining and moaning and the et tu’s from my conservative allies. First of all, I’ll say again, I don’t like the ruling any more than anyone else. I loathe Obamacare and the intrusions of the federal government in the private lives of others. I fear the collapse of our economy and free society under continued statist-inclined administrations and Congresses. I believe it will happen some day.

But on the whole we’ve been headed in that direction, with some interspersed periods of respite, since at least the 1930s. More government, more entitlements, more taxes, more regulations, fewer freedoms. Has the price been worth paying? That is part of the debate that is going on right now. Wake up and join it.

Let’s consider some facts about Obamacare:

1. During his 2008 campaign Obama was vehemently and openly opposed to the individual mandate.
2. Obama flipped and decided to support the individual mandate once he was safely in office. But he made clear it was definitely not a tax!
3. Obamacare made it to a vote because of an elected Republican.
4. The legislation was passed by a democratically elected Democrat-controlled Congress and signed into law by a democratically elected Democratic President.
5. At the moment the legislation passed very few people seriously thought that the Supreme Court would overturn the new law. (By the way as a rule conservative-minded folks should never hope for salvation from the courts!)
6. As time passed and the arguments were fleshed out, lo and behold, everyone, including the president, began to appreciate that maybe the mandate (and therefore the law itself) might not be constitutional. Oops.
7. All of a sudden even intrade was in on the action, setting the likelihood that the Supreme Court would overturn Obamacare at 70%.
8. And everyone was right, until Roberts pulled the rabbit out of his hat, rejecting Obama’s commerce-based arguments while making other arguments on his behalf that he wasn’t really wanting to make, thereby formally ushering us all into an era that our elected officials in their wisdom have crafted for us.
9. Wait a second! It is a tax!
10. No one was betrayed. It’s just that no one intervened. And we now have as a law a ridiculous and largely unread behemoth set of binding rules that will be funded by a penalty tax levied against people who can least afford to pay. And that doesn’t even touch the inevitable massive increase in costs and inefficiencies as the people who brought you the post office assume the reins of your health care. If it weren’t real it would all be pure comedy.

If you care, then let’s stop the whining and join the fight. November is going to be huge.

The good thing about the Obamacare ruling and why John Roberts is a genius

The spin has already started about the Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare.  Obama Pelosi & Co are gloating (“It’s constitutional, b*tches”) and Republicans are saying “it ain’t so bad” and vowing to make the presidential election a referendum on the Obamacare legislation.

Now I need to say at the outset that I haven’t yet made my way through Roberts’ and Kennedy’s opinions but I’m looking forward to it.  But I’ve read enough of Roberts’ words to be immediately struck by his genius.

To borrow a phrase from our president, let me be clear.  I’m not saying he’s a genius because he gamed the system or because he somehow in partisan fashion set the Democrats up for failure. Instead, he is ingenious because he (1) remained pure to his conservative judicial philosophy while (2) reining in his liberal colleagues on the court to his view and (3) forcing the president and his allies to accept victory at the risk of being villainized for imposing the greatest single tax hike on the American people in the history of our country (which from a Republican strategist’s point of view offers the added benefit of allowing the president to declare victory only if he is also willing to accept the moniker of liar).

While Roberts had to understand that a vote against Obamacare would result in the united proclamation among the media and talking heads in Washington that the verdict was rigged and he is a racist, I don’t think Roberts wrote what he wrote because he was afraid of such slander.

I think Roberts wrote what he wrote because it’s what he believes.  I won’t argue with whether he was right, but he is smart, thoughtful and he believes that it is not the Supreme Court’s job to legislate.  That is a great starting point.

Having said all that, I do look forward to reading Justice Kennedy’s dissenting opinion.  I’m not a Constitutional law expert, but I’m inclined to believe that it’s the Court’s minority that got it right as a constitutional matter.  As a matter of law, it is hard to swallow that Congress can levy a tax (a) that the law’s drafters and proponents always insisted wasn’t one or (b) that is based on the inactivity of American citizens (for not purchasing health insurance–isn’t that really just a penalty that Congress is asking the IRS to enforce?).  That kind of interpretation requires a special kind of judicial sleight of hand.

However, what it seems that everyone on the Court agrees on is that the individual mandate to purchase health insurance can only pass muster as a law if it is understood as a tax.  Remember, Roberts wrote the opinion on behalf of the four “liberals” on the Court, while Kennedy wrote the dissent for the “conservatives.”  The Supreme Court at least has drawn a line in the sand that, contrary to Pelosi’s idiotic remarks, there is a limit (perhaps theoretical) to the federal government’s powers.

It may not be long, after the initial glow of victory has begun to fade, before Obamacare advocates start to realize that the Court’s decision has put them and their big government party in a bit of a bind.  While Democrats like to be the ones who give away free stuff, they will not like being saddled with the now explicit burden that their most recent generosity is only possible by a radical new increase in taxes on the middle class.

My guess is that once this realization sinks in the criticism of Roberts will begin anew and the Obama spin (aka lies) will be even harder to stomach.

Fast and Furious: At least someone (Jon Stewart) is paying attention

I frequently wonder when I read the news how many other Americans are reading the same news as I.  It’s a fairly easy study to undertake.  First, you can take in Drudge Report.  Then flip to CNN.com.  The funny thing is how little overlap there is.  The next funny thing is that a lot of the controversial stories that CNN covers the Drudge reader will have already read some time before.  Most of the time, however, what you see in Drudge is only brought to light in the mainstream media (CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, NY Times, Washington Post) kicking and screaming.

That brings me to Jon Stewart.  I’m not a huge fan of his, but that’s a personal thing and really beside the point.  For the most part his political bias is plain despite his protestations to the contrary.  But I’ll cut him some slack.  Were they any other he wouldn’t be on Comedy Central.  So when he alights upon an issue that is near to conservatives’ heart, e.g., Fast and Furious, it warms my heart and while it occurs all too infrequently you know when it does that the liberal establishment has to sit up and take notice.

His takedown of Holder and Obama on the Fast and Furious scandal and the president’s naked power move of asserting executive privilege over it is (1) spot on and (2) hilarious.

Enjoy.  (Btw if you can’t watch embedded version you can click on “Watch on YouTube.”)

Mens rea and our president

In case you didn’t go to law school, mens rea is Latin for “guilty mind.” Without mens rea, generally speaking, you have no crime.

You may ask, what does this have to do with Barack Obama? A lot, in my opinion. Why? Because our current president graduated from what many consider the finest law school in our land. And he wasn’t just any student. I hear he was also Editor in Chief of the Harvard Law Review. This president at some point supposedly taught constitutional law as well.

So whatever one may think about his intelligence or intellectual aptitude, I find it impossible to believe that he did not master the basics at law school. But I’m still not talking about mens rea. I’m talking about understanding distinctions and the rational arguments underpinning them. This is a man that has no excuse when it comes to understanding what he is doing with respect to the law. He understands the legal implications of his oath of office; he understands the legal significance of his position as head of the executive branch of our federal government; and he knows all too well the conventional understanding of what his job is, from a constitutional perspective, as the President of the United States.

The same cannot be said for, you name them: Mitt Romney, George W. Bush, John McCain, Ronald Reagan, even John Kerry and Al Gore. At some level these men, if they had to, could fall back on the excuse that they were simply acting with their heart, that they were doing what they believed right in their own eyes and what someone had told them was in keeping with constitutional requirements and norms. In other words if someone accused them of breaching their constitutional duty they could always claim an absence of mens rea. Bill Clinton could not. And Barack Obama cannot. The difference there is that Clinton never asserted executive privilege the way Obama has become so cavalier at doing.

I cite two examples (there are so many more). One Fast and Furious and the refusal to turn over documents that Congress quite simply has the authority to see.

But even more problematic is Obama’s recent amnesty pronouncements on immigration. At least with respect to Fast and Furious there can be a good old fashioned argument over where a line is drawn. On the issue of illegal immigration the president has simply proclaimed that he does not intend to uphold the law.

First, remember the words from Article II of the Constitution and the 1884 presidential oath of office:

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:–”I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

And the oath:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

As Joseph Curl writes, the president even told a group of young Hispanics in 2011:

“America is a nation of laws, which means I, as the president, am obligated to enforce the law. I don’t have a choice about that. That’s part of my job.

“Congress passes the law. The executive branch’s job is to enforce and implement those laws,” he said. “There are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system that for me to simply through executive order ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as president.”

Yet in the past week the president announced he would no longer enforce a key aspect of federally-legislated immigration laws, namely, that if illegal immigrants were younger than 16 when they illegally entered the country they can receive a 2-year exemption from immigration. This discretionary policy from the Obama administration will be extended to any illegal immigrant up to the age of 30.

Now I’m not here to debate the merit or wisdom of this law. But I am saying that it is a LAW. It also happens to be a law that many people in this country, right or wrong, support and which neither the Supreme Court nor any US appellate court has ever declared unconstitutional. What it is not is something that the president has discretion to enforce or not.

The bottom line is the president needs Hispanic votes in large numbers in key states to win this election and promoting this illegal amnesty program for illegal immigrants is one way he thinks he can pull that off. Obviously Democrats won’t complain about the overreach and the Republicans who do will be labelled as (a) racists and (b) rank partisans. Again, it is another carefully calculated move to arrogate power for himself that he was not given by the Constitution.

One may argue that this has been going on since the beginning of the republic and there may be some partial truth to that statement. The difference here is the sheer brazenness of the move and the outright flouting of bright line established law. This is not something that is blurred at the margins.

But most damning of all is the president’s guilty mind. The mens rea with which he has seized the reigns of power, ignored the law and turned his back on one of the most fundamental obligations he has as President of the United States.

He knows what he has done and he is without excuse.

A simple reason to vote for Romney: Health Care

Say what you will about his initiative in Massachusetts, he’s on record now that among the first things he’ll work to do is to repeal the disaster that is Obamacare.  Romney said this morning he’d like to set up health care on more of a consumer market model.

The Obama campaign’s counter to Romney is yet another reason not to vote for its truth-bending and demagogic candidate:

The Obama campaign hit back at Romney’s policy view in a statement Tuesday: “This morning, Mitt Romney promised that if he’s elected, insurance companies will be able to discriminate against Americans with pre-existing conditions, charge women higher premiums than they charge men for the same coverage, and kick young adults off their parents’ plans when they graduate high school or college. . . . For too long, American families have faced a choice between going bankrupt to afford the care they need or going without that care at all, and Mitt Romney wants to take us back to that time.”

Come again?  The sheer brazenness of Obama and his troops as they dive to the gutter in recasting and novelizing comments to scare the poorest and least educated Americans (while providing a script for his unflappably supercilious New York and LA elites) is remarkable if not impressive.

Here’s the simple truth: Our country is broke.  We spend trillions more than we bring in.  We cannot afford Obamacare (without even getting to the question of whether we want it).  In fact we can’t even come close to affording the ill-conceived, largely unread, byzantine piece of legislation that is Obamacare.

Obama doesn’t want to have that conversation though.  It’s not unlike Schumer’s specious argument that we have to keep spending what we don’t have or else we’ll have rioting in the streets (aka Austerity).

At least Romney is dealing with the issue.

If Obama girl isn’t crushing can there be anyone left?

News has broken that Amber Lee Ettinger (aka Obama Girl 2008) is “not as excited” about Obama as she was in 2008.  As ridiculous as her video was, she became a megastar for a few brief moments in 2008–especially among the male population–and her rationale for Obama had about as much substance as that of the educated yuppies (as much as they loathe the term it’s what they still are) in New York and Los Angeles.  But Amber at least had an earnestness and endearing absence of condescension in her enthusiasm for the president.  If you don’t remember the video have a look:

For those who are supporting Obama in 2012 Amber’s cooling affection is a non-event.  She is now just one more fool to be mocked.  At least before she had brains to go with her boobs.

The truth, however, is that her fading affection (and the general dimming of interest across the country in all things Obama) is one of the big stories, if not the story, of this election.  Is there anyone out there as enthusiastic about Obama in 2012 as they were in 2008 who is not on his payroll?

A friend of mine who considers himself conservative-leaning but for the most part apolitical was generally for Obama in 2008 if he could be bothered at all.  This year he won’t go so far as to actively campaign for Romney but he expressed hope that Obama wouldn’t win.  This is a seismic shift.

None of this guarantees a win for Romney in the fall.  But it can’t bode well for the president.  There is a change afoot in America about this president.  Peggy Noonan touched on it this weekend:

Any president will, in a presidential election year, be political. But there is a startling sense with Mr. Obama that that’s all he is now, that he and his people are all politics, all the time, undeviatingly, on every issue. He isn’t even trying to lead, he’s just trying to win.

Most ominously, there are the national-security leaks that are becoming a national scandal—the “avalanche of leaks,” according to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, that are somehow and for some reason coming out of the administration. A terrorist “kill list,” reports of U.S. spies infiltrating Al Qaeda in Yemen, stories about Osama bin Laden’s DNA and how America got it, and U.S. involvement in the Stuxnet computer virus, used against Iranian nuclear facilities. These leaks, say the California Democrat, put “American lives in jeopardy,” put “our nation’s security in jeopardy.”

This isn’t the usual—this is something different. A special counsel may be appointed.

And where is the president in all this? On his way to Anna Wintour’s house. He’s busy. He’s running for president.

But why? He could be president now if he wanted to be.

The problem for the president is that without the Amber Lees of the world his campaign is left with nothing but the Anna Wintours, Sarah Jessica Parkers, David Axelrods and an army of sneering condescending elitists who live in concentrations on the coasts and in the capital cities of a few states in the middle.

Maybe that’ll be enough to win the election.  Personally I don’t think it will.  But in any event it’s a far cry from all the hope and change nonsense of 2008 and it’s not pretty to watch.