- The agency responsible for issuing the permits for and maintaining the safety of the BP rig responsible for the Gulf spill refused to testify before Congress.
- The President’s social staff prevented Rick Bayless, Top Chef Master, from Twittering about his gig as guest chef for the State Dinner for the President of Mexico (sample scary tweet: “Thanks 2 the 100s of well wishers! Ready 4 day 2 n rather small White House kitchen.Chef was challenged by some ingred,but last arrive 2day”)
- A lawyer from the DOJ’s Voting Rights Division quits in protest after the Department prohibited attorneys assigned to the decision from testifying before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Funny, he actually wanted to avoid being held in contempt.
- In a surprise move, the Administration requested that the National Archives disclose tens of thousands of pages of White House documents on an expedited basis. Not so surprising, they were records generated by the Clinton Administration.
- Perhaps the most ironic event of the Obama Administration thus far: Obama Signs Press Freedom Bill, Refuses to Answer Questions from Media
- And just to make sure the press got the message, the President took just one question, and from a Spanish language reporter, at the joint “press conference” with President Calderon. Normally, presidents take two questions from their own national media during such events. This was apparently change that the media could believe in.
Posts Tagged ‘Obama’
1. Am I the only one who looks at President Obama’s nuclear nirvana-seeking and sees a guy who, somewhere in his past, got an A+ on a term paper arguing that a nuclear-free world is achievable, and has believed ever since that he’s the guy to do it?
2. If I had a hypothesis-proving time machine and took Pelosi, Reid, et. al. two years into the future to show them that by cutting taxes 5% for the upper 15% of wage-earners, they could achieve nearly-full employment by the time the 2012 elections roll around, would they still refuse to do it on principle?
3. If Israel started denouncing the United States and threatening Iran’s security, would it get more support from this Administration?
4. Were we to apply the same rules of nomenclature currently being considered for the War on Terror to our past conflicts, would we have been forced to refer to our Cold War adversaries as “ideologically-committed Eurasians,” or our German enemies as “highly-organized expansionists?”
and for a funny 5th… Is this how Hillary deals with what must be her (and her party’s?) daily recognition that the wrong candidate beat John McCain? Gotta say, I can’t begrudge her it.
President Obama’s decision today to tie America’s hands when it is attacked is so bizarre on so many levels.
It’s of a piece with many other pronouncements of this White House — they look good to their liberal buddies, everyone feels good about themselves, but they don’t really mean anything worth talking about. Does anyone actually think that, if China gassed Manhattan, the Obama Administration would leave the nuclear option off the table? If it would, the President should be impeached immediately. And if Syria sponsored an anthrax attack in Mobile, we should feel just fine about lobbing a tactical nuke into Assad’s compound. Making grandiose statements about what we would or wouldn’t do after incurring an attack from a foreign power involving weapons of mass destruction is just as ineffectual as President Bush’s announcement that Russia was no longer targeting the United States with its nuclear weapons. The weapons were still there, and they could be re-targeted, but right now, at this moment…they aren’t aimed at us. Comforting, eh?
The larger point, however, is that basic international — or interpersonal — relations require that when someone is threatening you with serious harm, you give them no comfort that greater harm might not come to them if they tried it. You don’t issue quid pro quos, and you don’t make your own threats. Those tactics reduce you to their level.
But to each and every scenario they might posit about ways to inflict pain and suffering on your people, as for the consequences, you want them to imagine the worst. Thus is the way of deterrence.
When they ask the question Obama answered today — “If I launch a chemical warhead into your largest city, will you send five ICBMs into my population centers?” — you always want them to hear you say, “You never know.”
“If I send a horde of infected monkeys to infect all of Florida with a brain-wasting disease, will you explode a hydrogen bomb in my palace?”
“You never know.”
“When I lace your frozen blueberry supply with toxins so potent that hundreds of smoothie-consumers will keel over upon their first sip of the straw? Would you really make my countryside radioactive for that?”
“You never know.”
“Could I just set off a terrible stink bomb, coat a few dozen buildings with a really smelly substance, rendering the city uninhabitable for a couple of months? Still nuke me then?”
“You never know.”
Why would you ever want to answer these questions with anything but “You never know?” Why, as our President stated without irony today, would you want to do anything but “preserve all the tools that are necessary in order to make sure that the American people are safe and secure,” when no one was asking you to do anything different? If Putin blew up a daisy cutter in Oakland, would Obama take his phone call so he can insist that, “Hey, Barack, buddy, keep your hands off that football. You promised!”
In the end, I’m glad that our President thinks the process doesn’t matter in life — just the ends. Because if he actually thought this silly process of setting the rules of Global Thermonuclear War actually mattered, I’d be much more worried.
With apologies to Wallace Stevens.
Among fifty failing states,
The only moving thing
Was the cost of the health care bill.
The CBO was of three minds,
Like a hopper
In which there are three health care bills.
A health care bill swirled in the cloakrooms.
It was but a small part of the Big Lie.
A Reid and a Pelosi
A Reid and a Pelosi and a health care bill
I do not know which to prefer,
The folly of the deceptions
Or the folly of the desperations,
The health care bill passing
Or just after.
Snowmounds filled the Capitol steps
With muddy puddles.
The shadow of the health care bill
Passed them, to and fro.
Traced in the shadow
An unfathomable doom.
Oh wise men of Congress,
Why do you dream of wonder cures?
Do you not see that the health care bill
Stoops beneath the feet
Of the system around you?
I know high premiums
And frightful, inescapable long lines;
But I know, too,
That the health care bill is involved
In what I know.
When the health care bill moved out of sight,
It marked the start
Of one of many scandals.
At the sound of health care bills
Read into the deep night,
Even the frauds of K Street
Would cry out sharply.
He flew over Connecticut
In a white bird.
Once a fear pierced him
In that he mistook
The shadow of his presidency
For health care bills.
Obama is speaking.
The health care bill must be losing.
It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The health care bill sat
In the Speaker’s chair.
Or, How Nancy Pelosi Made Me a Better Man.
As all four of my regular readers may have noticed, I’ve got a bit off the radar lately in the blogging world. My absence was regrettable, but it was also for good reason — I simply didn’t have very much to say, or at least I wasn’t prepared to say it. Over the past few months, I’ve had some very humbling realizations in my own life, and I’ve seen some good friends humbled, as well. Advice that I’ve given has been ill-advised; I’ve done damage where I didn’t intend it. No, I’m not in any trouble here — Mom, no need to call — just a bit more humbled by life than usual.
None of these realizations are very conducive to political blogging. What we’re about here, after all, is offering our thoughts and opinions about matters of public concern. If you don’t feel especially confident about your thoughts on matters of private concern, though, it’s hard to confidently project yourself into the public sphere. I can certainly tell you what I think of Obamacare, or Holder’s brigade of Gitmo lawyers, or the obliteration of 200 years of Congressional rules and courtesy that took but two weeks to undermine. But those battles are being fought, with or without me, and I should come prepared for the fight if I am going to join it.
Interestingly, it is this very meditation on human frailty that has brought me back to Marque’s Letters. Over the last several weeks of the health care debate, we have witnessed incredible hubris on the part of the Democrats. They are utterly convinced that their cobbled-together mess of a Senate health care bill is going to heal the sick, solve the deficit, and usher us all into a new era of post-partisan social bliss. They truly believe that, even if it doesn’t quite work the way they think it will, they — in their infinite wisdom and their superior compassion — will solve it through more regulation, more legislation, better policymaking. Insurance companies will be better once they are virtual zombies borne of the state, because smart liberals will be the ones in charge. Treatment will be better, cures will be found, and doctors and nurses will be plentiful and cheap now that Washington has answered the call and taken over.
Of course, it doesn’t stop with health care. Auto companies will be successful once the government and their union confederates are directing them. Wall Street firms are evil when they don’t pay their executives what the government’s “pay czar” deems to be fair; they are sainted when they contribute to Democrat campaigns and support liberal causes. Students are better off when their loans come from the government, rather than profit-taking bankers. No one need learn the DOJ’s reasoning for releasing Gitmo detainees — the legal experts (not the stupid, warmongering Republicans) are in charge, and they should be trusted. Al Gore and his scientist allies have spoken on the link between greenhouse gases and global warming, and all those who question even the most obvious untruths are agenda-driven deniers, worthy only of your scorn.
The common link, the underlying attitude, is a prideful audacity. There is no humility here. They cannot conceive that they might be wrong about what the people want or need. Even when the world — in the form of polls, or elections, or town hall demonstrators — intrudes on the Democrats’ self-absorption, it is rejected as uninformed, or misled by venal critics, or even just unworthy of attention. Dissenters must not be confronted – they must go. How else can you explain these comments?
Robert Gibbs: “I hope people will take a jaundiced eye to what is clearly the Astroturf nature of so-called grassroots lobbying … The Astroturf nature of grassroots lobbying, which is largely the term for, you know, this is manufactured anger.”
Pelosi and Hoyer: “These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views — but of the facts themselves. Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American.”
President Obama: “I don’t want the folks who created the mess to do a lot of talking. I want them just to get out of the way so we can clean up the mess. I don’t mind cleaning up after them, but don’t do a lot of talking.”
John Dingell: “The harsh fact of the matter is when you’re going to pass legislation that will cover 300 [million] American people in different ways it takes a long time to do the necessary administrative steps that have to be taken to put the legislation together to control the people.”
Nancy Pelosi: “But we have to pass the bill so you can find out what’s in it.” [Emphasis added]
What’s amazing, of course, is that these are the same folks who said that if we didn’t pass their stimulus bill, we would have 10 percent unemployment. Faced with 10 percent unemployment after spending nearly $800 billion on their stimulus bill, they were no less confident about their economic projections on health care, or cap and trade, or even the “Son of Stimulus” jobs bill. Democrats have an entirely different spin on the phrase “past performance is not indicative of future results” — rather than warning us against unreasonably high expectations, they assure us that all the past failures have nothing to do with the current empty promises.
Faced with such heedless arrogance, what is a humble blogger to do? Certainly not what I’ve been doing for the past three months. In fact, the arrogance of Pelosi, Reid, Obama & Co. have led me to cast a more introspective eye on myself, my conservatism, and its potential for the same sort of pretentiousness. What I found was edifying.
Conservatism, at its heart, is a humble philosophy. Consider, for example, conservatives’ confidence in free markets. The market is essentially a mechanism for establishing value. It is an acknowledgment that none of us, or at least very few of us, have the knowledge necessary to make perfectly rational decisions about the value of most goods. Most of us, if asked to make value decisions in a vacuum, would probably make big mistakes. Ask a hungry person what he would pay for a banana, and he might offer $50.00. Ask someone who hates bananas and he might say $0.01. Ask a banana grower what he’d like to sell them for and he’d say $100.00 a piece! None of these are what one would pay for a banana at the grocery store, of course. Instead, that price has been set through the process of all of us — consumers, suppliers, all over the world — deciding at what price we are willing to buy a banana, and what price we are willing to sell one. We let this process happen because we humbly acknowledge that none of us, on our own, have the knowledge or position to set The Price. And, through this mysterious exercise of humility and communication, we set the price together.
Consider, in counterpoint, the liberal alternative. Liberals believe that they know how much a banana “should” cost. They believe that government, through the exercise of price controls, punishing taxes, broad-based subsidies, and comprehensive regulation, they can coax, cajole, or simply order the banana system into shape. If at first, they don’t succeed in getting The Price for everyone, they will merely twist the screws tighter, push different buttons, pull different levers. But the idea that perhaps the don’t really know what a banana “should” cost never crosses their mind. The concept that the present cost is already distorted by past government attempts at setting The Price is anathema. Even if that is acknowledged — a rarity — the response is not a chastened humility, but a redoubling of effort. Usually this involves identification of corporate villains who themselves are trying to set The Price (who, not being government liberals, are unworthy). Of course, corporations are no more capable, without the help of the market, of setting prices and determining value than government — and they don’t show up with guns if you refuse to pay them.
Market policy is only one facet of this dichotomy. Liberals are outraged that the Supreme Court won’t let them regulate the speech of corporations; conservatives believe that no one has all the answers, and the more voices in every debate, the better. Liberals believe that a unified set of “global community values,” espoused by their anointed among the “international community,” should govern international affairs; conservatives reject the notion that any elite knows what is best for the world and promote democracy to allow self-determination and unique national interest to govern foreign relations. Liberals believe that regulators know the right amount of risk — medical, environmental, personal, what have you — we should each bear, and keep pushing the bar lower to punish those who refuse to keep us “safe”; conservatives agree that a reasonable expectation of safety should be established, but that individuals should be free to choose to accept more or less risk in their lives above that line.
To be sure, conservatives can exercise their own form of arrogance. When they rule dissent out of bounds, they are no better than their liberal counterparts. When they impose their own view of international norms out of a sense of paternalism, rather than promote peaceful change through moral suasion, they are just as condescending as the liberal global elite. And any time conservatives convert their preference for traditional values to a legally-enforceable code of conduct, they are ignoring the fact that the Judeo-Christian source of those traditions is grounded in an assumption of human frailty.
The honorable intentions of the governing elite have rarely been an issue in the history of American social change. Only at the end of the colonists’ argument with England did the mother country’s intentions turn hostile. At the beginning, Parliament’s taxes were an attempt to seek the common good — their rich colonies were just paying their fair share toward the Empire’s many responsibilities. The colonists first revolted not because they doubted Britain’s intentions. They simply rejected its idea of what was good for them, and the notion that a distant elite could define it and enforce it with the power of the state. Their answer was not to set up a local elite — instead, it was to put themselves, the people, in charge of their own welfare.
The Democrats in Congress are making the same mistake as Parliament in the 1770s. They simply cannot imagine how their subjects could doubt that they have their best interests at heart. They assume the public will figure it out and come along for the ride. They may even seek to punish those who are intransigent. They don’t understand that their actions, not their intentions, are at issue, and they only compound the matter when they attack those who just want them to listen. Fortunately, this time, their lack of humility will be judged by the ballot rather than the bullet.
I am but a humble political blogger. I do not know what is best for you. You may have just lost your job and would rather send your kid to college than pay for health insurance. You may be absurdly wealthy and would rather pay for your health care by selling a few thousand shares of Coca Cola stock. You may be a middle class parent who can’t imagine life without a generous health insurance policy. All of these choices are valid, and they are all part of being an American. Were I to tell the unemployed man that he must buy health insurance, I am an arrogant ass. Were I to tell the rich woman that not only must she buy health insurance, but she must pay taxes to buy it for others, I am an audacious fool. Were I to tell the middle class parent that she can have her health insurance, but not the nice policy she has now — that would be greedy — I am a self-deluded prig. Of course, I have not told any of these people they are wrong. But a majority of our elected representatives have.
It is thus my duty as a humble American blogger to not only call our leaders what they are, but also to do my part to liberate my fellow Americans from these presumptuous entrapments that threaten to upend our entire political experiment. In doing so, I am not placing myself above my fellow citizens, or issuing edicts from on high. I am but one voice in a chorus of voices that, together, will set the price of our freedom. I only hope that we are willing to pay it.
Lately, I have been reminded of the consequences of arrogance in my own life. It is all too easy to believe that our best intentions are enough to justify our actions. Unfortunately, no amount of goodwill can counteract the harm caused by a reckless deed, or even a well-considered one. Far better, then, that we share our thoughts, acknowledge our limitations, and struggle through this life together without illusions. To my friends, who I have wronged in my arrogance, and my fellow bloggers, who I have briefly abandoned, I ask your forgiveness, and promise you my best. Now let’s get after it.
Chuck of Head Muscle has kindly hustled me back to the ol’ blog, so you can thank him for the pearls of wisdom herein imparted:
- When last I wrote, Republicans had 40 votes in the Senate, health care reform was still inevitable, and the President was planning to preempt Lost with his State of the Union address. That was less than a month ago. Since then, Scott Brown has preempted health care reform, Republicans have 41 votes in the Senate and more seem inevitable, and the President looked lost in his State of the Union address. Ain’t democracy grand?
- Let’s all remember, come the next government shutdown crisis, that when the federal government shut down for at least three days in mid-February 2009, we all did just fine, thanks.
- Jim Geraghty spotlights one of those critically-underappreciated data points and the way it can creep under the skin of the American electorate. It’s easy to forget that, aside from the enduring unemployment tragedy, there is also a lot of frustration among the employed. Each year, millions of Americans leave their jobs not because they are forced out, but because they find greener pastures. Right now, those pastures are looking pretty brown and chewed over by the millions of people looking for jobs full-time. Add to that a national craving for economic security, which shows up in statistics ranging from the savings rate to the fury at government interventionism, and leaving the acceptable, stable (if unfulfilling) job for the potential dream job isn’t sounding so great right now. So if you’re a smart, capable, hard-working American feeling stuck in yesterday’s job, making yesterday’s wages, how do you feel when you find out that the federal government bureaucrat living in Arlington makes more — a lot more — than you do, and more than he did before the recession began? And this is the schlub that’s supposed to need more of your money to turn the economy around? Even some of those government workers who are benefiting from such largesse are outraged. Watch this. It’s exactly the kind of apolitical, gut-level backlash that Washington cannot see coming until it hits the ballot box.
- Speaking of Washington, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the low-key approach taken by Washington Republicans in the wake of Scott Brown’s victory. Sure, they’ve felt emboldened to state the obvious – that President Obama ignores the people at his peril – but there’s been little petty triumphalism of the sort that often overtakes a party in need of good news. That said, national Republicans must maintain that discipline throughout the next ten months if they’re to lead the independents that are currently inclined to follow them. President Obama is doing his level best to draw Republicans into small-ball fights that will make them, rather than him, look intransigent and haughty. Kudos to McConnell, Boehner, Paul, Cantor, et. al. for being cautious, speaking equally with force and respect, and for refusing to compromise core principles for the appearance of “bipartisanship.”
- The importance of the defeat of President Obama’s NLRB nominee, SEIU lawyer Craig Becker, cannot be understated. One year ago, it was considered a fait accomplit that unions would soon be able to bypass the secret ballot and impose favorable contract terms through arbitration on recalcitrant employers. Unions were so convinced of their impending empowerment that they began training their employees on how to operate in this new regime. There was word that an army of union organizers was being prepared to be unleashed on hundreds of previously union-free workplaces, radically transforming the American workforce. But Becker — who famously believed that employers should “shut up” during the union campaign process — is the latest symbol that another element of the inevitable liberal revolution will not come to pass, at least not anytime soon. Sure, Obama may still make a recess appointment and elevate him to the post, but Harry Reid’s inability to obtain cloture on the nomination sent an unmistakable signal to the Administration — now is not the time to “remake” America’s employers.
If any of the Obama Administration’s stated reasons for closing Gitmo has emerged as its favorite, it has to be that Guantanamo is a recruiting tool for al Qaeda. This rationalization is particularly useful for the Democrats, because it simultaneously hints at the underlying cause celebre behind closing Guantanamo – that we do unspeakably evil things to those poor people at that bad place – while appearing to be a plus in the Overseas Contingency Operation against Man-Caused Disaster.
But remember that not long ago, this same Administration was moments away from creating a whole new set of al Qaeda “recruiting tools.” Back in April/May 2009, the Justice Department was ready to forego an appeal of a court order to release dozens of photos of enemy combatants, which presumably depicted them after undergoing harsh interrogation or torture. Those photos, whose release would have been unlawful under the Geneva Conventions preventing public depictions of prisoners of war, would have invariably reignited similar passions as were unleashed throughout the Middle East and Central Asia in the weeks and months after the Abu Ghraib revelations. One might recall that things got worse, not better, in Iraq at that point.
But here we had the Attorney General recommending that it not appeal to the Supreme Court a judgment by the Second Circuit that would have required the Department of Defense to release these photos. Even if it would have eventually lost, the government would have delayed disclosure for at least another year. And it was no slam dunk that it would have lost — the Court has been much more deferential (although not deferential enough) to the executive branch in its prosecution of the war than have the lower courts, particularly the forums chosen by the ACLU for its activist lawsuits.
Only after the intelligence agencies, the military, the public, and ultimately key members of Congress expressed their outrage at such a decision did the Obama Administration first delay, then indefinitely postpone release of the photos. The matter was ultimately resolved when Congress allowed the Secretary of Defense to order the photos sealed, which he did. That order was upheld by the Supreme Court.
So, the same Justice Department that is insisting on closure of Guantanamo to avoid inciting terrorist violence was ready to release photos that would surely have incited violence, and would have absent a public uprising against it. The only common element here? The ACLU and its liberal allies wanted both to happen, and for reasons utterly unrelated to the violence that may have resulted: they hate George Bush, and they are driven to remind us all of the evil that embraced our land during the dark days of his reign. Irrational? Yes. Explanatory? Without question.
True, Obama himself signed the law allowing the photos to be protected – in a rather rare reversal of policy. But Holder and his ilk at DOJ remained unabashedly opposed to the move. They have zero credibility when they attack Guantanamo as a “recruiting tool.”