"In reality there is perhaps no one of our natural Passions so hard to subdue as Pride." --Benjamin Franklin
Government & Politics
Forward or Downward?
The Obama campaign has announced its new slogan -- "Forward." Despite the fact that his change has nearly crushed hope, he arrogantly decided to double down and press forward, bitterly clinging to failed policies. Sadly, too many voters remain under the delusion that Obama is "winning the future."
The campaign's latest ad recounts numerous "achievements" of Obama's first term, but only after thoroughly blaming George W. Bush for the nation's troubles. Obama stood up to the challenges, even though, as images of the Tea Party flash across the screen, "some said America's best days were behind us." Obama proceeds to brag about how he "saved" millions of jobs with the so-called stimulus, took on the credit and health insurance industries with regulations and "reform," grew green energy with taxpayer cash (though he neglected to mention Solyndra), took over the student loan industry, and socially engineered the military by repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Hilariously, he even boasted of $1 trillion in spending cuts, though we're not sure how that's possible while racking up $5 trillion in debt. Obama is aghast that, instead of going along happily with every desire of his heart, Republicans actually oppose his leftist ideology.
One could be forgiven for thinking that perhaps he chose "Forward" as in "Forward to the next campaign fundraiser!" To date, Obama has held 132 such events, far surpassing his predecessor. In fact, he has already held more re-election fundraisers than the last five presidents combined. For our part, we anticipate seeing his mail forwarded back to Chicago.
In all seriousness, "Forward" seems to be optimistic and to exude progress, but the history of the word lies in the socialist and communist movements, which as Ronald Reagan contended lead nowhere but downward. We certainly don't think this choice was by accident or coincidence, either. Leftists have always fancied themselves "progressives," as if only their policies will move the world "forward." In 1905, Vladimir Lenin, leader of the Soviet revolution in Russia, founded a publication called "Vpered," the Russian word for "Forward." Before that, Friedrich Engels and Leon Trotsky wrote for one called "Vorwaerts," the German word for "Forward." The Communist League featured a biweekly reader by the same name, with which Karl Marx and Engels were involved.
Obama will begin his campaign (officially) on May 5, which just happens to be Marx's birthday.
Obama's policies of taking over industry via regulation and redistribution of wealth are absolutely inspired by and differ only in degree (so far) from those of his socialist, fascist and communist predecessors in Europe. Small wonder, then, that his campaign now features such a prominent mantra of his ideological kindred.
In related campaign news, Obama has devoted much time and energy "celebrating" women, and indeed he should -- because, by a wide margin, they elected him in 2008. More than 56 percent of women voted for Obama versus only 49 percent of men, and women may well be the deciding demographic again in 2012. Check out this 2012 Obama campaign socialist appeal designed to lure female voters with cradle-to-grave Hope 'n' Change. To be fair, Obama should also let each woman know her share of the federal debt. You can calculate yours here.
The fictional "Julia" in the Obama appeal can look "forward" to a life lived at the expense of others, from taxpayer funded school programs to subsidized birth control and single motherhood to retirement drawing from bankrupt Social Security and Medicare. Such a "forward" vision doesn't empower women; it enslaves them to the tyranny of the socialist state. By contrast, the American ideal of Essential Liberty would lead to a Better Life for Julia.
Forward to the Unemployment Line
The Department of Labor released the April jobs report this morning, and it's more of the same -- a dismal "recovery" as Obama moves us "forward." The economy added just 115,000 jobs, once again shy of "expectations," and the headline unemployment rate ticked down to 8.1 percent. The media are working hard on behalf of Obama's re-election campaign by conveying that things are getting better. The truth is, however, the reason the rate is going down is because people are simply leaving the workforce. Some 522,000 people gave up, and labor participation is now at its lowest since 1981. Forward!
No Blue States or Red States, Just Obama States
This week, the president's Twitter feed featured this atrocity. We're hard pressed to imagine a more narcissistic display.
New & Notable Legislation
House Republicans passed H.R. 4628 to prevent student loan interest rates from doubling to 6.8 percent on July 1. Barack Obama threatened to veto the bill because the offset would be paid for by taking $5.8 billion from ObamaCare's "preventive health fund." Never mind that the president wants to raid the same fund to extend Medicare Advantage during an election year. Instead, the president and congressional Democrats claim they should offset the cost of student loan subsidies by raising corporate taxes. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) used the shopworn excuse that Republicans are attacking women by taking money out of the fund. Apparently, men don't benefit from preventive care.
The president's veto threat is a purely political move that he used to the fullest extent campaigning for the youth vote last week. He's trying to set up Republicans as anti-student and anti-woman at the same time. His claim carefully glosses over the fact that the Democrats have already raided the same preventive care fund to cover Medicare reimbursements to doctors and various leftist goodies. Besides, Democrats themselves wrote in the automatic interest rate increase when they controlled Congress in 2007. It's no coincidence that they set 2012, an election year, as the point at which the student loan interest rate would double. In doing so, they succeeded in creating a fight where none existed previously.
From the 'Non Compos Mentis' File
The Government Accountability Office reports that the federal government currently runs 16 "financial literacy" programs and four housing counseling programs through a number of different agencies. A 2009 RAND Corporation study had previously counted 56 such programs across 20 agencies, but the GAO arbitrarily trimmed that number after determining that some of the programs duplicated one another or had conflicting agendas. Keep in mind that there aren't actually fewer agencies than in 2009; the government is just counting fewer of them. The point, however, is that the idea of the federal government teaching the public anything about financial literacy is laughable when the federal debt currently stands at $15.6 trillion.
Second Amendment: Fast and Furious Contempt Citation
House Republicans plan to pursue a contempt citation against Attorney General Eric Holder for his continued stonewalling of the ATF's Fast and Furious gun-walking program. Holder's Department of Justice has blocked numerous attempts to get to the bottom of Fast and Furious, the plan that put some 2,000 illegal guns into the hands of Mexican drug runners and led directly to the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in 2010.
The DOJ claims it has cooperated with the House investigation, which is now entering its second year, but its "cooperation" has amounted more to obstruction than anything else. Holder and several other key Justice officials have testified before Congress, but Holder's statements in particular have been contradictory, raising more questions than were answered. DOJ documents that have been released were so heavily redacted that they amount to nothing more than reams of blank pages. CBS News, which has been conducting its own investigation into the matter, has been repeatedly denied Freedom of Information requests about the Terry murder or the broader Fast and Furious program. The contempt citation, which would use the courts to compel DOJ cooperation, may come within the next few weeks.
Blaming Law-Abiding Gun Owners for Possible Mob Violence
Reaffirming writer Earnest Benn's observation that politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it, misdiagnosing it and then applying the wrong remedies, leftist politicians in Tampa and Charlotte are seeking suspension of the concealed-carry laws outside the respective Republican and Democratic national conventions. (Inside the convention halls, of course, are Secret Service-protected areas, and firearms will be prohibited.) These politicians argue that tragedy might happen because past conventions had to contend with violent left-wing protesters. In other words, leftists want to disarm law-abiding citizens, which would make it easier for left-wing protesters to commit acts of violence and destruction.
Fortunately, Florida Gov. Rick Scott saw things the same way and rejected Tampa's request, saying, "It is unclear how disarming law-abiding citizens would better protect them from the dangers and threats posed by those who would flout the law. It is at just such times that the constitutional right to self-defense is most precious and must be protected from government overreach." As conservatives know, there's nothing like Peace Through Superior Firepower to keep the streets quiet during these conventions. Smart politicians in these cities ought to be looking for ways to encourage the presence of more licensed gun owners for the conventions, not punishing law abiders while giving a free pass to the criminals.
Income Redistribution: Green Energy Loses Cash, Destroys Environment
The extent of the Obama administration's green energy fiasco has become more evident in recent weeks. Companies that seek to develop wind, solar and other alternative energy sources are headed for tough times, according to a combined report on the green energy industry by the left-leaning Brookings Institution, Breakthrough Institute and the World Resources Institute. In the report, analysts warn of "more bankruptcies, consolidations, and market contraction." The main reason for the fiscal woes of an industry that Obama has touted as pivotal to the American economy is simple: Federal subsidies are drying up.
The report states that the federal government dumped $44 billion in "stimulus" cash on the green energy industry between 2009 and 2011, but that amount is expected to shrink to roughly $6 billion between 2012 and 2014. The money spent so far has done little to boost green energy production in the U.S., and the report suggests that without continued substantial federal subsidies, green tech companies won't be able to stand on their own. The green-tech sector of the energy industry has been incapable of developing a self-sustaining model in part because companies cannot produce renewable energy more cheaply or reliably than traditional fossil fuels. Tariffs against Chinese solar panel manufacturers to protect domestic solar companies and subsidies to keep companies afloat have had the opposite effect.
We're also learning that green tech may be having an undesirable effect on the environment. State University of New York researchers recently determined that in Texas, where four of the world's largest wind farms are located, warming trends have developed due to the effects of expelled energy and turbulence from turbine rotors. Wind energy has long been controversial because no one wants the unsightly turbines in their backyard, and the high cost of development and energy distribution has been prohibitive. If it's true that wind farms actually contribute to global warming, the very thing that they supposedly combat, then there may be no reason to build these gigantic bird-killing Cuisinarts in the first place.
Worse yet, Solyndra, the bankrupt solar-panel producer that was the Obama administration's poster child for a clean energy revolution, has also become an environmental blight. The company appears to be walking away from an undetermined amount of hazardous chemicals stored at its closed plant in Milpitas, California. Solyndra doesn't want to (and can't) pay for the proper disposal of the chemicals, which now sit in barrels in a hazardous storage area.
All this bad news hasn't stopped the administration from moving "forward" with its green energy initiative. Last week, a series of roundtable discussions were held between government officials and private businesses to explore new ideas for clean energy production. One creative concept was to burn chicken manure to create electricity. It appears that Obama remains committed to converting America to his green energy vision, even if he has to use chicken excrement to do it.
Regulatory Commissars: We Get Results
The New York Times reports, "Al Armendariz, the Environmental Protection Agency official who stirred controversy last week after a video circulated in which he declared that the agency should 'crucify' polluters as a deterrent, has resigned, saying he regrets his comments and does not want them to distract from the E.P.A.'s work." Last week, we noted Armendariz's horrendous comments and said he should either resign or be fired -- and we got results. (Though YouTube removed the video last week, our friends at the Media Research Center still have it.)
Despite his tepid "apology," we think his original comments are representative of the EPA in general. Why trust their current spin now that they're caught? Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), who originally released the video, says he won't stop his investigation just because of the resignation. "After his revelation that EPA's 'general philosophy' is to 'crucify' oil and gas companies, it was only right for Administrator Armendariz to resign today -- but his resignation in no way solves the problem of President Obama and his EPA's crucifixion philosophy," Inhofe said. "In his letter to [EPA] Administrator [Lisa] Jackson, Armendariz again pointed to his 'poor choice of words' as the reason for his resignation -- but Armendariz was just being honest: His choice of words revealed the truth about the war that EPA has been waging on American energy producers under President Obama."
Immigration Front: Subsidizing Illegals
Illegal aliens are taking advantage of the "additional child tax credit" when filing tax returns and they're getting some $4.2 billion in refunds for their small effort. Illegals who work in the U.S. are required to file taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, and there are two million illegal aliens claiming credits for dependents -- including nieces and nephews -- who don't even live in the U.S., all in order to get thousands of dollars in returns. In one case in southern Indiana, four workers claiming residence in a single trailer claimed 20 dependent children. Those children all still live in Mexico, but the workers still got almost $30,000. When asked about this, one worker said that if the opportunity is there, why not take it? Free money -- what's not to like? The IRS has known about the problem for years, including receiving many warnings from the Treasury Department's Inspector General for Tax Administration, but hasn't done anything to stop it. And why should they? It's not costing them anything.
Warfront With Jihadistan: Afghan Security Agreement
Obama hit the campaign trail this week, traveling 14,000 miles round trip for a brief stop in that key electoral battleground state of Afghanistan. We're sure it was complete coincidence, but the trip occurred on the one-year anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death, which, in case you didn't know, was completely and bravely orchestrated by the Humble One himself. Obama spiked the political football all week. Cheekiness aside, we once again praise the intelligence community and the brave Navy SEALs who actually deserve the credit. Job well done.
As for Obama's Afghan trip, the regime claimed it was to sign the new U.S./Afghan security agreement discussed last week, but in reality it was pure politics. Apparently, since Obama has no other positive foreign policy or economic record on which to run, it looks as if he's going to milk the bin Laden raid for everything it's worth.
Surprisingly, much of Obama's speech from Bagram Air Base about the new agreement wasn't too far off base, with a decent nod to the service of our troops. Unsurprisingly, though, some of the speech was the usual leftist claptrap, such as, "Today, I signed an historic agreement ... that defines a new kind of relationship ... a future in which the war ends, and a new chapter begins." Right. The Taliban greeted that "war ends" naiveté just hours later with multiple attacks in Kabul that killed at least seven people.
Naturally, the Narcissist in Chief just couldn't leave himself out, saying, "[O]ver the last three years, the tide has turned [in Afghanistan]. We broke the Taliban's momentum. We have built strong Afghan security forces. We devastated al-Qa'ida's leadership, taking out over 20 of their top 30 leaders. And one year ago, from a base here in Afghanistan, our troops launched the operation that killed Osama bin Laden. The goal that I set -- to defeat al-Qa'ida, and deny it a chance to rebuild -- is within reach" [emphasis added]. The goal that Obama set? Please. President George W. Bush set that goal while Obama was still voting "present" in the Illinois state senate. Further, during his campaigns for a Senate seat and the White House, Obama promised to undermine and abandon that goal.
Elsewhere in the Long War, U.S. drones killed four al-Qa'ida fighters in Pakistan. These strikes were the first since Pakistan approved new guidelines for the country's relationship with the U.S. Pakistan had insisted that the U.S. stop such attacks as a precondition for normalized relations, but officials now fear these strikes will set back negotiations on reopening the vital NATO supply routes to Afghanistan that Pakistan blocked five months ago. That "future in which the war ends" doesn't seem to be visible from the present, regardless of what Obama says.
Quote of the Week
"Imagine if President Nixon had decided to base his 1972 re-election campaign on the boast that he landed on the moon. His predecessors tried and failed for eight years. It wasn't an easy decision -- what if something went wrong? But that's why you hire a president, to make those gutsy calls. Which path would George McGovern have taken? That's analogous to President Obama's effort to campaign on the killing of Osama bin Laden. His absurd braggadocio is turning one of the few successes to occur under his leadership into a political liability." --Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto
This Week's 'Braying Jackass' Award
"Let me tell you something else that I have had enough of: I've had enough of using terrorism as a wedge issue in our politics. I've had enough of that! I have had enough of that! You know, I, uh ... I don't know about you, but I think that the War Against Terrorism isn't supposed to crop up between September and November of even-numbered years -- and yet that seems to be the pattern." --then-Senator BO, September 2006
The Fate of Chen Guangcheng
A tense diplomatic standoff is unfolding in China over the fate of dissident Chen Guangcheng. Chen, a blind activist who served three years in prison for speaking out against China's forced abortion and sterilization policies, has been under house arrest with his wife and mother since 2009. He escaped last week and sought protection at the American Embassy in Beijing shortly before Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's arrival for a meeting with Chinese leaders. The original purpose of the meeting was to discuss cooperation on trade, currency rates, Iran and North Korea. Those talks have now been eclipsed by questions over Chen's fate.
Chen originally hoped to stay in China to continue his work, and U.S. diplomats claimed earlier this week that they had made a deal with Chinese officials to provide medical treatment and relocation to a safe place in China where Chen presumably would not be prosecuted -- or persecuted. The validity of the deal came under question on Wednesday after Chen's arrival at a Beijing hospital. The dissident told reporters that Chinese authorities sent a message to him through a U.S. intermediary, warning they would kill his wife if he didn't leave the embassy. The State Department denies that claim and maintains that the hospital trip was Chen's decision. On Thursday, U.S. officials confirmed that Chen had changed his mind about staying in China and is now seeking asylum in the U.S. with his family. The Chinese now say he can file to study abroad "like other Chinese citizens."
China's long history of persecution and human rights abuses proves that Chen's safety there cannot be guaranteed under any circumstances. The U.S. State Department and the Obama administration would know this if they read their own reports on the imprisonment of Chen and millions of other Chinese human rights activists, political prisoners and religious leaders. The Nobel Peace Prize-winning Obama's lack of leadership on the world stage has repeatedly left democracy activists around the world at the mercy of their repressive regimes. We can only hope his callous political worldview doesn't resign Chen Guangcheng to the same fate.
Another Weekend End Run
It is remarkable how much damaging information and controversial policy comes out on Friday afternoons from this supposedly transparent White House. Knowing that people tune out for the weekend is an important key in how Barack Obama works toward his true goals. Here's the latest such news dump: Last Friday, Obama allowed $192 million in frozen funding to be sent to the Palestinian Authority despite the fact it has reneged on or never agreed to key conditions for receiving the aid. Bypassing a prohibition imposed by Congress on funding the PA is no laughing matter, particularly to our Israeli allies.
The funding spigot was shut off after the PA attempted to get UN endorsement of "Palestine" statehood last September, but Obama circumvented Congress by claiming the money was "important to the security interests of the United States." Yet the $192 million will help to bolster Hamas, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood that recently joined the PA coalition government and has never accepted Israel's right to exist -- a direct violation of the conditions associated with the PA receiving these funds in the first place.
More troubling than the slap in the face to a key Middle Eastern ally, though, is the cavalier disregard for standing law exhibited by the president as he makes yet another move more suitable for a tinhorn Third World dictator than the chief executive of a constitutional republic.
The American Spring: It's Hot in Cleveland
Those who bill themselves the "99 percent" promised, after the Occupy movement was uprooted last fall by a combination of the onset of winter and the reassertion of order on public property, that they would be back this spring. They chose May 1, traditionally a socialist worker's holiday, as the date to resurrect the movement. However, aside from a small number of arrests from pitifully small gatherings of thousands around the world, the real excitement came from a band of five self-proclaimed anarchists who plotted to blow up a highway bridge outside Cleveland.
Somehow much of the media missed the admitted connection between this gang of five and the Occupy movement, even though the ringleader admits he's part of Occupy Cleveland and wasn't necessarily interested in nonviolent protest, according to an FBI affidavit. Of course, this isn't surprising given the covert relationship between the Occupy movement, the media and the Democrat Party. These were the same media outlets that were falling all over themselves to blame the Tea Party for the Gabrielle Giffords shooting.
While it's fortunate that the bridge plot was caught in time, people who have been assaulted, raped, or even murdered by the Occupy thugs weren't so lucky. We may be in for a long, hot summer, and, unlike the May Day protests, there may just be more than a little harmless overtime for law enforcement.
Obama Bully Says 'Don't Bully'
Editor's Note: The following story contains some unsavory, if partially redacted, language as we quote an Obama administration lackey.
Call a homosexual "pansy-a---d" and you're a bully. Use the same name for a person of faith, and you're Barack Obama's anti-bullying spokesman. Dan Savage -- homosexual activist, author of a sex column and founder of a pro-LGTB anti-bullying campaign that the Obama administration is openly supporting -- recently turned what was supposed to be an anti-bullying speech at the National High School Journalism Conference into an all-out attack on Christians and Christianity. As many as 100 students walked out during Savage's diatribe as he pointedly mocked the Bible and anyone who believes it, urged the students to ignore the "bull ----" the Bible teaches, and then called those who had exited "pansy-a---d."
Such bullying is nothing new for Savage, who has lashed out at "right wing religious f---ers", obscenely maligned Rick Santorum's name in Internet search engine results because Santorum had the audacity to express his biblically consistent position on homosexuality, and said he wishes "Republicans were all f---ing dead." That's far from his worst. How typical of the Obama administration that the man it has hand-picked as its voice for anti-bullying is, ironically, a bully himself and a pal of the Bully in Chief.
When It's Okay to Ignore Racial Violence
As the story of Trayvon Martin's death has slowly faded from the headlines, there have been numerous unreported instances of black-on-white violence that, were the media actually fair, they would have highlighted. In fact, these aren't really random acts of violence, but the direct result of media hype over Martin's death. In recent weeks, writes blogger Bob Owens, "At least 15 whites have been beaten not just with fists, but with potentially deadly weapons including hammers and lengths of chain. Many of the victims have been hospitalized, some may never fully recover, and one lingers on the verge of death."
Two white Virginian-Pilot reporters were viciously assaulted by 30 black youths. A Baltimore tourist was robbed and beaten by a man who videotaped it and posted it online, claiming, "me an [sic] my boys helped get justice fore [sic] trayvon." Seven whites were injured by a black mob in Grand Rapids, Michigan. A man from Sanford, Florida -- just down the road from where Martin was shot -- was attacked by two black men with a hammer and remains in critical condition. A Gainsville, Florida, man was attacked by a group of black men who shouted "Trayvon" as they savagely beat him. As Owens concludes, "The fact that Martin's admitted shooter, George Zimmerman, is multi-racial indicates the attacks are merely an excuse to resurrect deeply buried grudges and act out on them with violence." And media race baiters lead the way.
Radical Elizabeth Warren is the Democrat candidate challenging Republican Scott Brown for his Massachusetts Senate seat. She is also a Harvard law professor who had an interesting background check of sorts this week. During her career at other schools, Warren claimed Native American heritage based on little more than family "lore," supposedly as a means to enjoy minority status and smoke the peace pipe with other faculty members. "I listed myself in the directory in the hopes that it might mean that I would be invited to a luncheon, a group something that might happen with people who are like I am. Nothing like that ever happened, that was clearly not the use for it, and so I stopped checking it off." Indeed, having reached Harvard, Sacaja-Warren dropped the routine, perhaps hoping to shed the aura of the victimized native. Ironically, her questionable claim has now jeopardized her chances of taking the Senate seat once held by another famous Native American, Teddy Chappaqua Dick.
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
Nate Jackson for The Patriot Post Editorial Team