All posts in Cynicism

Austerity and Obama’s Alter World

More and more is being written during this presidential campaign about Europe and austerity. Only the Democrats have added a twist to the discussion: it’s now the Republicans who are acting like irresponsible Europeans and they must be stopped.

Now you might think that this line of criticism is an extension of Obama’s up-is-down claim that he is the fiscal conservative in this election but if you do you’d be wrong. It’s the double switchback: the Republicans are trying to import the European economic remedy of Austerity and look how that’s working out in Greece. In other words if America votes Republican the mere mention of cuts in public spending (which is about what European Austerity amounts to thus far) will provoke massive public union strikes and riots in the streets of [Oklahoma City, OK?]

Exactly.

As I’ve mentioned before part of what I find so fascinating about campaigns (and this one in particular) is trying to understand whom they’re targeting with different approaches. For example the Anna Wintour thing is classic.

This Republican Austerity tack however is much more in line with the irrational base arguments of the Democratic party. Taken on its face Obama’s economic policy consists of endless Keynesian economic stimulus–that in a few short years has pushed our national debt to well over 100% of GDP with no GDP growth to show for it (in a normal universe that might be what would draw the comparisons to Greece and the rest of Europe) and threatens to propel us towards a Japanese-style debt trap and permanent economic stagnation–now combined with a permanent casting off of even the notion that anyone ever has to pay for it.

We’ve been hearing the arguments for stimulus for a while now (e.g., Krugman). But the recent leap to demonizing Austerity and the Republicans in one stroke is at once completely irrational and politically masterful–at least on the latter with respect to energizing its base. Why? If what you know about the markets and the economy comes from the pictures in the Money section of USA Today then this is compelling stuff. Austerity = Riots. Of course the actual equation looks more like this: The Threat of Not Increasing Public Expenditures for Some Brief Period = Rioting and Strikes in Countries Where Debt-to-GDP > 125% and More People Are On the Public Dole Than Are Not.

This happens to be one very good reason not to vote for Obama in November. While government tends to get inexorably bigger under either party there is no doubt that the Democrats are unabashed in making their intentions clear–and we have witnessed what they can accomplish in just a few short years under a leftist administration. Given 4 more years of Obama we may, and probably will, fit squarely within the above Greek equation. And that is precisely what Obama wants–complete dependence on the state. For the Greeks there is no going back.

The Dems have jumped right over the discussion of the merits of stimulus and instead have thrown down the there’ll-be-blood-in-the-streets-if-we-don’t-stay-on-the-crazy-borrow-and-spend-path-we’re-on card. They do offer one little caveat: if you’re not one of the ones who would turn over police cars and riot in the streets then they want to raise your taxes.

In Obama’s universe they can have your cake and eat it too. You can hand it over peaceful-like or you can do it with a fight but they’re going to take your cake. Might as well give it to them and maybe they’ll save you a piece. Or so the argument goes.

Let them eat cake

Could the Obamas be any more out of touch?

This ad ran in the Panama City, FL newspaper in February.

20120607-133944.jpg

And here it comes

Just as we predicted on Friday, here it comes. Bernanke to the “rescue.”

While Obama’s fate (and his reelection) may be in Ben Bernanke’s hands, fortunately our future isn’t.

The Breakfast Club plays at Obama’s White House

A scene from A Day in the Life at Obama’s White House:

Eric Holder, who heads Mr Obama’s justice department, is said to have become “incensed” after being accused by David Axelrod of complaining publicly about political interference in his office.

“That’s bull****,” Mr Holder said in a confrontation after a cabinet meeting, according to author Daniel Klaidman. He writes: “The two men stood chest to chest. It was like a school yard fight”.

The relatively mild-mannered Mr Axelrod is said to have told the attorney general: “Don’t ever, ever accuse me of trying to interfere with the operations of the Justice Department”, a taboo in US politics.

Mr Holder and Mr Axelrod were separated by Valerie Jarrett, a White House adviser and confidante to Mr Obama. Ms Jarrett “pushed her way between the two men, her sense of decorum disturbed, ordering them to ‘take it out of the hallway’,” says Klaidman.

Welcome to detention at the White House.  The thuggery is so ingrained in the culture that even the pencil-necked reporter-cum-Obama consigliere wants in on the action.  Valerie Jarrett–who is she again?–plays the role of the teacher in charge.  “Take it outside, boys.”

What was all the heat over?  Axelrod presumably was exposed for trying to influence the Obama Justice Department for political ends.  May it never be!

The mere thought of such an impropriety made the Ax-man so furious he pushed his comb over back in place and attempted to flare his nostrils while he let out the most offensive coffee breath in Mr. Holder’s blanching face.  This was some serious moustache action, folks.  Good thing Valerie Jarrett was there or you might have have had one heckuva paper fight right there in the White House.  That is, until Holder’s Black Panthers showed up to wipe the floor with that interloper.  Loyalties only go so far.

But before being taken out by their ears, Axelrod got one more shot in: “I’m not Karl Rove!” he screamed through tears.  The horror.  Must have been quite a scene.

As we begin another week of higher unemployment, plummeting global stock markets, and politically expedient foreign policy it’s comforting to know that the White House is running its very own reality TV show.  Maybe just to bring it up to at least NPR standards they should let Oprah back in to produce.

And where was Obama during this backyard brawl?  We can only imagine.

What Obama has going for him

Not much at the moment.  But if I had to identify a short list of things he has going for him when it comes to his chances of reelection it would be the following:

1.  There’s still 5 months until the election.

2.  He wants to win and is prepared to do anything to make that happen.

3.  He is the sitting President of the United States.

That’s really it.  And let me tell you that I think those three facts provide ample reason not to bet against him.

Here are some other things that help:

4.  He controls Bernanke and Bernanke controls the printing presses.

5.  He is the Commander in Chief of our armed forces.

6.  His (campaign) troops have demonstrated a blatant willingness to disregard laws.

7.  He is adept at using ridicule and scorn as a campaign tactic.

8.  He owns New York and California.

9.  Certain constituencies will not abandon him.

10.  He is an unrepentant narcissist.

I agree with John Podhoretz that Obama has a very weak case for a second term.  But as anyone who knows anything about politics or litigation, having a weak case doesn’t stop anyone from doing anything.  And as long as you stay in the race something can always happen that will help your position.  That is especially true when you are arguably the most powerful individual human on the planet.

Big Pharma support for Obamacare paid for by White House

Surprise surprise. In 2010 the Obama administration promised to block key provisions that Big Pharma couldn’t live with in return for a big money ad campaign by Big Pharma supporting Obamacare.

The president who promised complete transparency and a break from business as usual cut this backroom deal in the dark of night and when confronted with how nakedly corrupt it was all the administration could offer was that such criticism was “nakedly” political and “everybody does it”:

Obama’s fellow Democrats who backed the health-care law’s passage in 2010 pushed back against Republicans and said today that the documents released by the Republicans were misleading.

‘Always Done’

“President Obama’s efforts to enlist the support of private industry are exactly what presidents have always done to enact major legislation,” U.S. Representatives Henry Waxman of California and Diana DeGette of Colorado said in a joint statement.

At least the pretense of 2008 is gone. Not only is Obama not a higher form of political creature but he also has proven himself to be a member of its basest class.

How is that “serious and frank discussion” working out, Kofi?

In a classic case of it’s easy to pick on the vulnerable bad guys, the Obama-Annan school of foreign policy has run into the reality that their words mean little and their threats mean even less.  Syria is a train wreck but Assad’s got friends who’ll back him up and his enemies are blowhards.  Is Syria really different from Libya?  Probably so.  But the real difference is that Gaddafi didn’t have any friends left.

I’m not saying we should intervene in Syria.  But a “big stick”?  I don’t think so.

Obama “shrugs off” the Poles and the Jews

Maybe to you the difference between calling the World War II concentration camps which the Germans set up in Poland for the slave labor and extermination of peoples they deemed undesirable (including millions of Jews) “Nazi death camps” and “Polish death camps” is insignificant.

It isn’t to me.  And apparently it isn’t to our allies the Poles.  If Hitler and his Third Reich had overwhelmed England in 1940 and with Japan somehow defeated the U.S. and then set up a concentration camp in, let’s say, Hawaii where a million Americans were gassed or worked to death, would you be okay with the leader of the free world (not sure who that would be but I digress) calling the murder camp in Hawaii that “American death camp.”  I wouldn’t.

A simple apology for the “misstatement” as the White House calls it would be in order.  Why when he’s ready to apologize for so many other things about our country is he unwilling to personally apologize for something like this?  It’s confounding.

Making matters worse is Obama and his devotees are so impressed with his smooth talking style.  They consider him–as he and his mother consider[ed] him–to be extraordinarily brilliant and a master craftsman of words.  But the facts don’t lie.

Like so many others before him, he isn’t nearly so smart as he is obnoxiously arrogant.

Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Obama’s words had hurt all Poles and he expected more from Washington than just regret.

“I am convinced that our American friends can today allow themselves a stronger reaction than a simple expression of regret from the White House spokesman — a reaction more inclined to eliminate once and for all these kinds of errors,” Tusk told reporters in Warsaw.

“Today, this is a problem for the reputation of the United States,” the prime minister said.

Members of Poland’s Jewish community — including the country’s Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich — said in a statement that: “We expect President Barack Obama to personally correct his words.”

Poland’s President Bronislaw Komorowski said meanwhile he had sent a letter to Obama “counting on (…) cooperation in correcting this unfortunate error” which “I am certain in no way reflects the thoughts or views of our American friend.”

I’m not so sure.

Ridicule, the downwardly spiraling economy and the 2012 elections

The economic recovery in America is fading fast. Just out this morning: another higher initial jobless claims number. The S&P is now off more than 7% for the month, and the talking heads are turning their attention to whether (or really when) the Fed will signal a new round of quantitative easing is on the way.

Of course with interest rates at historic lows (the 10 year Treasury dipped below 1.6% this morning after the weak economic reports) the Fed doesn’t have much to work with when it comes to lowering rates. But, as one economist said this morning on CNBC, while it won’t have any impact whatsoever, the Fed will still be required to “do something.” So rates will undoubtedly go lower. There will be a fleeting spike in the stock market. Then more negative economic data will come out and the markets will resume their inexorable slide south. Only as the economy suffocates it will be with more debt, more deficits, a diminished currency, and a fading hope for any lasting recovery.

Meanwhile, I can see David Axelrod on CNN reading a script (only Obama is allowed the teleprompter) to a cheering crowd–by the way I’m not sure when he dyed his hair and grew the moustache but he was more likeable as the principal in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off–but thanks to closed captioning and CNN’s lower third I understand that he is “trashing” [sic] Romney’s record in Massachusetts. Ironic.

All campaigns spin. But Obama’s entire campaign is fundamentally based on a big lie. And the main tactic used to sell the big lie is ridicule. It’s straight out of the Saul Alinsky playbook. But it’s not just Alinsky who understood the power of ridicule. We all learned the persuasive force of ridicule on the playground. No one wants to look stupid, and at one point or another we have all been silenced by the condescending smirk, the sarcastic put down, or the pointed insult.

When you’re a man of such breathtakingly little substance as Barack Obama–who was paradoxically catapulted on the sling of hope by the counterweight of the seamy Chicago political machine–all you are is cool and the only currency you have to offer is scorn. In 2008 the country wanted change and it was easy for the Obama campaign to be the blank canvas for Americans’ aspirations. In 2012 the canvas has now been filled up with the reality of the president’s truly unexceptional and tired agenda. So all they’re left with is the brass knackles and the ferocious desire to win that were present but mostly hidden in 2008. Then, everyone played their roles to perfection, including the harmless and avuncular John McCain who bent over backwards to make the young Obama’s arguments for him. And young Barack strolled into the White House.

But Romney will fight back. And like him or not he’s a real person with a real record of achievement, and Obama’s puppeteers know they have a fight on their hands.

Obama’s campaign has all hands on deck, including CNN’s Soledad O’Brien, doing her best to remain cool like Obama, while she heaps contempt on old man Sununu:

May the best man win. In the end our country will get whom it deserves.

On being rich and unobnoxious

One of the humorous ironies about Obama’s feigned offense at Romney’s wealth is that by any conventional definition the Obamas are rich too!

Jay Nordlinger offers some thoughts:

The truth is, both Romney and Obama are rich, by the standards of ordinary people: Romney is a millionaire; Obama is a millionaire. Romney has many more millions, but they both have more money than most people will ever see, or possibly dream of.

In my view, Romney should be utterly unapologetic: “Sure, I’m rich, and he’s rich too. We’ve both been successful. The difference is, I want to help create the conditions in which you can be as successful as possible too. He’s holding you back, and the whole country back.

“No matter who wins — President Obama or me — he and I will live very well. We have plenty of money. But the country at large — that’s another story.” Now, when you’re unapologetic, you don’t have to be obnoxious. Romney is good at that: being unapologetic without being obnoxious.

Here’s the rest of the article.

Obama is finally out of the closet with his brass knuckles. Is Romney tough enough to deal with it?

I don’t know much about Mitt Romney.  It appears that much of the electorate doesn’t either.  I suppose the fact that he’s running dead even with the president is a good thing, unless it means as people get to know him they’ll like him less.

But another concern is whether he has the stomach for a fight.  McCain, for all his storied–and documented–bravery and heroism, didn’t have much fight in him by the time the election season got underway.  The fact is if you want to be president, well, you have to really want to be president and you have to fight for it.  Gone are the days when the noble warrior-statesman gets drafted into office by high minded citizens.  These days it’s a bare knuckle brawl where anything goes.  Just have a look at the bloody carcasses Obama made of his opponents in his first Senate run in 2004:

One month before the 2004 Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate, Obama was way down in the polls, about to lose to Blair Hull, a multimillionaire securities trader.

But then The Chicago Tribune — where Axelrod used to work — began publishing claims that Hull’s second ex-wife, Brenda Sexton, had sought an order of protection against him during their 1998 divorce proceedings.

From then until Election Day, Hull was embroiled in fighting the allegation that he was a “wife beater.” He and his ex-wife eventually agreed to release their sealed divorce records. His first ex-wife, daughters and nanny defended him at a press conference, swearing he was never violent. During a Democratic debate, Hull was forced to explain that his wife kicked him and he had merely kicked her back.

Hull’s substantial lead just a month before the primary collapsed with the nonstop media attention to his divorce records. Obama sailed to the front of the pack and won the primary. Hull finished third with 10 percent of the vote.

Luckily for Axelrod, Obama’s opponent in the general election had also been divorced.

The Republican nominee was Jack Ryan, a graduate of Dartmouth and Harvard law and business schools, who had left his lucrative partnership at Goldman Sachs to teach at an inner-city school on the South Side of Chicago.

But in a child custody dispute some years earlier, Ryan’s ex-wife, Hollywood sex kitten Jeri Lynn Ryan, had alleged that, while the couple was married, Jack had taken her to swingers clubs in Paris and New York.

Jack Ryan adamantly denied the allegations. In the interest of protecting their son, he also requested that the records be put permanently under seal.

Axelrod’s courthouse moles obtained the “sealed” records and, in no time, they were in the hands of every political operative in Chicago. Knowing perfectly well what was in the records, Chicago Tribune attorneys flew to California and requested that the court officially “unseal” them — over the objections of both Jack and Jeri Ryan.

Your honor, who knows what could be in these records!

A California judge ordered them unsealed, which allowed newspapers to publish the salacious allegations, and four days later, Ryan dropped out of the race under pressure from idiot Republicans (who should be tracked down and shot).

With a last-minute replacement of Alan Keyes as Obama’s Republican opponent, Obama was able to set an all-time record in an Illinois Senate election, winning with a 43 percent margin.

And that’s how Obama became a senator four years after losing a congressional race to Bobby Rush. (In a disastrous turn of events, Rush was not divorced.)

Axelrod destroyed the only two men who stood between Obama and the Senate with illicitly obtained, lurid allegations from their pasts.

Fortunately, the Financial Times yesterday offered some encouragement that Romney isn’t cut from the same cloth as McCain when it comes to elections:

Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House of Representatives who was eventually swept aside by Mr Romney in the primaries, described his rival as someone “strong enough to look you in the eye and run over you”.

“Having collided with him and his organisation head-on and now working with his campaign, he has assembled a very smart group of people,” Mr Gingrich told MSNBC. “He is approaching this as methodically as anybody I know.”

Let’s hope that’s good enough to take on the Chicago political machine that folks were too naive to recognize through the hope and change fog of 2008.

To our president we all look like beasts of burden

For those of you who believe that the president (or at least his speechwriter) is a skilled craftsman of the English language, consider the following:

From President Obama’s campaign kickoff speech, Columbus, Ohio, May 5, 2012: ”This country is at its best when we harness the God-given talents of every individual….”

Warning, Americans: For those not raised in farm country, “harness” is more than a verb implying a general, cooperative marshaling of talent.

A harness is a set of fetters strapped to a beast of burden. Some master at the other end holds the reins that control the beast. The master uses the harness to make the beast work. If the beast is obstinate, the master whips the beast, and uses food and water to compel the beast’s passive cooperation.

Given all his messianic references, the president gives new meaning to Jesus’ words:

Matthew 11:29-30
29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

I’m not completely sure what the president has in mind but I’d rather not be harnessed or yoked by him or anyone else in his “we.”

See the rest of the article here.