How to Lose Friends and Alienate People
"The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man." --James Madison
Government & Politics
How to Lose Friends and Alienate People
In 2008, Barack Obama sold himself as a uniter and a healer of party divisions. He promised to bring Hope 'n' Change™ to Washington on behalf of a country allegedly weary of partisan bickering. However, the man who thought himself bigger than the office has proven to be awfully small.
Indeed, former Democrat congressman Artur Davis of Alabama says Obama's divisive style has caused Davis to leave the party. "I have regularly criticized an agenda that would punish businesses and job creators with more taxes just as they are trying to thrive again. I have taken issue with an administration that has lapsed into a bloc-by-bloc appeal to group grievances when the country is already too fractured: frankly, the symbolism of Barack Obama winning has not given us the substance of a united country."
Davis announced this week that he is considering another congressional bid in Virginia, but this time as a Republican. He's not just any disenchanted Democrat, either -- Davis gave a seconding speech for Obama's nomination in 2008 and chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) for the southern region. But he also voted against ObamaCare -- the only member of the Congressional Black Caucus to do so.
Nor is Davis the only Democrat switching parties. Jo Ann Nardelli, a Pennsylvania state committeewoman and founding president of the Blair County Federation of Democratic Women, switched to the GOP. She said the tipping point was Obama's endorsement of same-sex marriage, which, along with "the tug-of-war between the Catholic Church and the administration over the [health care] mandate, have pushed me over the edge." She harkened back to Ronald Reagan, himself a former Democrat, when she said, "I did not leave the party; the party left me."
The Narcissist-in-Chief is alienating more than his fellow Democrats. After pulling the rug out from under Poland and the Czech Republic in 2009 over missile defense, Obama added insult to injury this week with a reference to a World War II "Polish death camp." In posthumously honoring Polish war hero Jan Karski with the Medal of Freedom for his efforts against the Nazis, Obama said, "Before one trip across enemy lines, resistance fighters told him that Jews were being murdered on a massive scale and smuggled him into the Warsaw Ghetto and a Polish death camp to see for himself. Jan took that information to President Franklin Roosevelt, giving one of the first accounts of the Holocaust and imploring to the world to take action."
Referring to "Polish" death camps is "outrageous," as Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski responded Wednesday. Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk likewise blasted Obama: "We always react in the same way when ignorance, lack of knowledge, [and] bad intentions lead to such a distortion of history, so painful for us here in Poland, in a country which suffered like no other in Europe during World War II. The words uttered ... by the president of the United States, Barack Obama, concerning 'Polish death camps' touched all Poles."
The White House downplayed the reference as a "misstatement" and has refused to offer more than a mere transcript correction on its website. It was likely an unintentional teleprompter recitation, but just imagine for a moment the same gaffe being made by George W. Bush. And expressing mere "regret" isn't much for a president who's made a habit of apologizing for America to the rest of the world.
Another Medal of Freedom recipient highlights just how fraudulent Obama's claim to be a uniter truly is. Dolores Huerta, honorary chair of the Democratic Socialists of America, also received a medal. For starters, we don't normally associate "socialists" with "freedom," but on top of that, Huerta has displayed a nasty rhetorical streak, once declaring, "Republicans hate Latinos," praising Venezuelan thug-dictator Hugo Chavez, and arguing on immigration, "We didn't cross the border; the border crossed us." Bestowing the award on her further both diminishes the award itself and reveals Obama's ultra-partisan roots.
With all his efforts to lose friends and alienate people this week, it's no wonder Obama's campaign is looking for another new slogan. Apparently, "Forward" is stuck in neutral.
This Week's 'Alpha Jackass' Award
"The months before I took the oath of office were a chaotic time. We knew our economy was in trouble, our fellow Americans were in pain, but we wouldn't know until later just how breathtaking the financial crisis had been. Still, over those two-and-a-half months, in the midst of that crisis, President Bush, his cabinet, his staff, many of you who are here today, went out of your ways -- George, you went out of your way -- to make sure that the transition to a new administration was as seamless as possible." --Narcissist-in-Chief Barack Obama at the unveiling of the White House portraits of George W. and Laura Bush
In other words, about the only thing good Obama could say about his predecessor was that Bush, who blew it on the economy, at least made it easy for Obama to take over.
Campaign Trail: Romney Clinches GOP Nomination
The shameless scribes at The Washington Post have made it their unofficial mission to destroy Mitt Romney, with negative stories almost daily about the Republican nominee and his campaign. One of the paper's latest attempts came after a Romney appearance at a Philadelphia charter school last week. The Post reported on a group of protesters who claimed to be "personally offended" by Romney's very presence in their neighborhood. The story glossed over the fact that the protest was actually organized by Obama's campaign, focusing instead on how Romney doesn't listen to the needs of the urban poor. We hate to point out the obvious, but that's exactly why he was at the school in the first place.
Despite the media's attempts to hamstring Romney, he officially clinched the Republican presidential nomination Tuesday after handily winning the Texas primary. As his opponents dropped out one by one, Romney earned enough delegates to finally cross the 1,144 threshold and become the GOP standard bearer in November. (You go to battle with the army you have.) Barack Obama's media surrogates couldn't let the Republican's good news go untarnished, though, as many reports speculated on the supposed link between Romney and real-estate mogul Donald Trump, who maintains that Barack Obama was not born in the U.S. Trump, who briefly toyed with running for president himself, supports Romney, prompting The New York Times, The Washington Post and other leftist news outlets to call for Romney to disavow Trump because of his "birther" stance, his wealth and whatever other excuse they could make up. We're pretty sure that Romney, for all his faults, isn't the presidential candidate with the most unsavory connections to disavow.
Finally, two humorous campaign events took place Thursday: White House adviser and Chicago crony David Axelrod headed to Massachusetts to drum up support for Obama, but he ended up being drowned out by pro-Romney demonstrators chanting "Where are the jobs?" and the like, leaving him not quite sure what to do. Meanwhile, Romney held a surprise news conference in Fremont, California, at the shuttered Solyndra headquarters. Solyndra, of course, is the poster child of Obama's failed energy subsidies and his "public equity" malfeasance, having blown $500 million in taxpayer money before going bankrupt. Romney used the event to highlight the president's dismal jobs record.
From the Left: The Audacity of Dope
Anyone who's read Barack Obama's book "Dreams from My Father" knows that he dabbled in marijuana when he was younger, but a new biography by David Maraniss, "Barack Obama: The Story," details the extent of young Obama's love for the drug. Obama ran with a group in Hawaii that called themselves the "Choom Gang," choom being a slang term for pot. According to Maraniss's book, Obama and his friends devised all sorts of ways to get the most out of their pot-smoking experiences, like shutting themselves up in a van they called "the Choomwagon" and filling it with smoke to get "TA," or total absorption. They smoked some of the highest quality marijuana that Hawaii had to offer, and totally immersed themselves in the culture.
There have been several stories published of presidents and their youthful indiscretions with illegal substances, but Bill Clinton and George W. Bush can't compare to Obama, who seems to have been the living embodiment of Sean Penn's stoner character from "Fast Times at Ridgemont High."
From the 'Non Compos Mentis' File
Nancy Pelosi says the U.S. Supreme Court will uphold ObamaCare 6-3. Why? "Because I know the Constitution," she said. "This bill is ironclad. It is ironclad. Nobody was frivolous with the Constitution and the health of the American people in writing the bill. So that's where my confidence springs from -- the merit of the bill and the nature of the Constitution. The makeup of the court, well, we'll see."
There you have it: It's constitutional because it's constitutional.
Walker Looks to Win Wisconsin Recall
It looks as if Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker will survive a union-backed recall attempt on June 5. All the polling done to date points to a Walker victory in his rematch with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, and even the national Democrat establishment has tacitly admitted that their attempt to roll back Walker's successful union reforms will fail. DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who had called the Wisconsin recall a "dry run" for the Obama re-election campaign, told C-SPAN earlier this week that a Republican victory would not be a big deal. "I think, honestly, there aren't going to be any repercussions," Schultz said. "It's an election that's based in Wisconsin."
The Democrats and their public union buddies spared no expense in their recall effort, drumming up a lot of national support and raising a lot of national funds for this simple statewide race. They had designs on capitalizing on a Barrett victory to launch similar recall efforts in other states. Now that a loss seems imminent, they're spinning it as no big deal. Wasserman Schultz's sudden lack of interest in the Wisconsin race is as sure a sign as any that the Democrats and their organized-labor thugs are preparing for another embarrassing loss next week -- and with many more to come.
Mistrial in Edwards Case
Erstwhile Democrat presidential candidate John Edwards won a victory Thursday when his trial on six counts of campaign finance violations ended in mistrial on five counts and acquittal on the last. Edwards admittedly had an affair during his 2008 presidential bid with campaign videographer Rielle Hunter while his wife, Elizabeth Edwards, was dying of cancer. Mrs. Edwards died in 2010. Edwards accepted $900,000 from two donors, which he then allegedly used to cover up the affair. The mistrial is an embarrassment for the Justice Department, which also botched a corruption trial against the late Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens. Jurors in the Edwards case spent nine days deliberating before giving up on an agreement, and it seems unlikely that the Justice Department will retry the case.
Growth Down, Unemployment Up, Obama's Plan Continues to Fail
The unemployment rate increased in May as job growth slowed sharply -- the weakest growth in a year -- more evidence that the shallow economic recovery from the recession is losing momentum. Unemployment ticked up to 8.2 percent, some 2.5 percentage points higher than the 5.7 percent rate Obama promised when he made the case for his so-called "stimulus plan." The Wall Street Journal reports, "A broader measure of unemployment—which includes job seekers as well as those in part-time jobs—rose to 14.8% in May from 14.5% in April."
The percentage of employed Americans in their prime working years -- 25 to 54 -- is at its lowest since the worst of the recession. Just 75.7 percent of that demographic is employed; the pre-recession norm was 80 percent. According to The Washington Post, "While the unemployment rate may be the most closely watched gauge of the economy in the presidential campaign, this measure of prime-age workers captures more of the ongoing turbulence in the job market. It reflects 'missing workers' who have stopped looking for work and aren't included in the unemployment rate." In other words, it's hardly accurate, let alone honest, to call this a "recovery."
Heritage Foundation economist J.D. Foster notes, "These jobs figures are consistent with other fairly bleak news. For example, first quarter economic growth was revised down to 1.9 percent, while an important measure of performance in the heartland, the Chicago Purchasing Managers' Index, fell to its lowest level since September 2009 which was near the bottom of the recent recession. None of this necessarily points to a second recession, more like continued muddling and hardly in a position to withstand an economic shock such as, for example, the developing deep recession in Europe."
So what's Barack Obama doing about it? Redistributing $4.1 million of your income per job created under his "recovery plan." The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the total cost of the original $787 billion "stimulus" is actually about $831 billion. The CBO estimates that the stimulus created somewhere between 200,000 and 1.5 million jobs (take that for what it's worth), which would mean the cost per job was somewhere between $540,000 and $4.1 million. Some "stimulus."
Income Redistribution: Half of American Households on the Dole
The headline is scary enough, but the fact that nearly half of the American population lives in households that are receiving government aid is disastrous. As Doug Ross notes on his Wall Street Journal blog: "[I]f this statistic gets much over 50 percent, you can stick a fork in America." In fairness, the number might be somewhat misleading because of the extension of Social Security and Medicare benefits to those of a certain age, but the sad truth is that we were already in the 30 percent range while Ronald Reagan was in office, and we passed the 40 percent threshold early in George W. Bush's term.
Yet since Barack Obama -- the "food stamp president" -- took office, there's no question the Cloward-Piven strategy of overloading the welfare system may be on its way to fruition. Combine the vast increase in the number of food stamp recipients with those who now subsist on unemployment for months at a time, add in a Baby Boomer population on the cusp of becoming eligible for retirement benefits, and you create a situation with no politically popular choices. Our government is way too large, but it's not too big to fail.
Moreover, while our grandparents were ashamed to receive any sort of "relief," for a large segment of the population, it's now all about sticking their grimy hands into the "Obama stash." At one time, many Americans were poor but proud; now they're proud to be taking their meager existence from those who gladly redistribute the wealth of the producers among us. Once the takers outnumber the producers, Atlas may well shrug. The result won't be pretty.
Regulatory Commissars: UN Wishes to Control Internet
Unlike those in most other nations, Americans enjoy the right of free speech. While courts may bend this freedom in undesirable ways, having this right is key to maintaining a robust public discourse. But because some governments prefer keeping their populations firmly in check and not allowing freedom of expression over the Internet, there's a growing call to give the United Nations International Telecommunications Union (ITU) further control over the governance of the Internet.
Led by China, Russia, Brazil and India -- a group that most certainly doesn't have liberty of their citizens at heart -- the proposal would give the ITU more control over cybersecurity, data privacy and the Internet's address system. Rather than have a group of non-profits, beholden to no nation, maintaining cyberspace, the proposal would leave UN bureaucrats in charge -- and we know how that movie ends.
It's highly unlikely that the United Nations would work to allow people in repressive countries further access to the free flow of information available on the Web. Otherwise, they would be condemning nations like China for their highly restrictive Internet policies. Instead, these nations wish to reduce the Internet to the lowest common denominator in order to control its content, a stance unacceptable to U.S. interests. To their credit, Congress and the Obama administration oppose the new rules, though the UN seems to have sneaky ways of enacting their agenda regardless.
Around the Nation: States That Failed to Cut Taxes
In an embarrassing display of intra-party bickering, two states have failed to seize opportunities for real tax reform. In Oklahoma, where Republicans hold two-thirds majorities in both houses of the state legislature, not only did politicians fail to pass a proposed plan to eliminate the income tax over the next 14 years -- starting with an immediate 3.5 percentage-point rate cut -- but they also failed to pass any tax cut at all before adjourning last week.
Meanwhile in Kansas, infighting among Republicans has effectively halted hopes for tax relief. Leftist Republicans in the state Senate passed a huge cut, thinking it would never survive the House, but House conservatives called the Senate's bluff by also passing the cut, and now, Republican Governor Sam Brownback has given both sides just days to agree on closing loopholes to "pay for it." The Senate is having none of it.
One would think both Oklahoma and Kansas would take a lesson from New York, where high tax rates are essentially paving an exit ramp for residents to flee the state. According to the Tax Foundation, between 2000 and 2010, the Empire State saw a net population loss of 1.3 million, amounting to $45.6 billion in lost taxes. Amid the exodus, it's interesting to note that New York has the second-highest state and local tax burden in the nation and that the states gaining residents have much lower tax burdens. But this, of course, must be purely coincidental.
Warfront With Jihadistan: The Tough Guy President
Just in case you hadn't heard, Barack Obama killed Osama bin Laden. And as if to answer critics who chafe at his frequent self-congratulations, The New York Times featured a story about what a tough guy our Nobel Peace Prize-winning president really is for personally managing the "kill list" of jihadis. For a change of pace, the Times' scoop isn't anonymously sourced but has on-the-record comments from former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair and former Chief of Staff Bill Daley, and it also referenced "three dozen of his current and former advisers."
The story certainly paints a different picture of Obama from that of the 2008 campaign's anti-anti-terror dove. Ever the sanctimonious critic of Bush administration war policies, Obama has solved the problem of detaining enemy combatants by simply drone-killing them in droves. He also skirts the complication of civilian deaths by simply counting "all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants." Problem solved!
There are pros and cons here. Given Obama's pattern of blame-shifting, it's at least encouraging to see that he's taking responsibility -- very publicly -- for the results of his anti-terror policies. However, his remote-control strikes are depriving the U.S. of valuable intelligence. When we do gain intelligence, as in the bin Laden raid, he immediately starts bragging about it, thereby negating its value. Somehow, he manages to turn even accomplishments into negatives.
Speaking of bin Laden, Admiral William McRaven, who commanded the mission that terminated the terror leader, adamantly denies giving access to Hollywood for its upcoming film on the raid. Last week, we noted that Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group, had uncovered the administration's sharing of sensitive information with Hollywood for the movie, scheduled originally for October release but now pushed to December.
Memorial Day Honors for Michelle Obama?
The Department of Labor headquarters was decorated this week with posters that included pleasant quotes about Memorial Day. The problem was that the posters also featured a large picture of Michelle Obama and a quote, ostensibly hers, saying, "We all have an obligation to serve our troops and veterans as well as they've served us." Apparently, the president's narcissistic personality disorder extends to the first lady.
As Rick Manning of Americans for Limited Government put it, "Memorial Day is dedicated to honoring those American servicemen and women who have died in the defense of freedom around the world. It is stunning that the wartime Obama Labor Department would choose to ignore the ultimate sacrifice these fallen warriors have paid and instead have tried to make this day of remembrance about them." Just another day in the Obama White House.
Syrian Massacre Forces World Reaction
The ugly situation in Syria grew much uglier and more critical this past week. Last Friday, armed killers allegedly loyal to President Bashar al-Assad massacred 108 men, women and children in Houla, a collection of villages in Homs province. The UN said 49 children and 34 women were among those murdered, killed at close range in their homes. An additional 13 corpses were found on Wednesday in the town of Assukar. Video footage posted by activists showed the bodies face down, their hands tied behind their backs and dark pools of blood around their heads -- in other words, executions. The UN said on Tuesday that the Syrian army and militia supporting Assad used artillery, tank fire, guns and knives to kill the 108 in Houla, but, naturally, the Syrian government denied any responsibility, blaming "Islamist terrorists," its preferred term for the Syrian rebel forces who have been challenging Assad since March 2011.
Reaction around the world was unusually swift and coordinated, as a number of countries, including the U.S., Britain, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Bulgaria, Turkey and the Netherlands expelled Syrian diplomats and ambassadors this week. The U.S. State Department said that the Syrian charge d'affaires was given 72 hours to leave the U.S., and State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland also said the U.S. holds "the Syrian government responsible for this slaughter of innocent lives."
The overall situation in Syria doesn't look to improve anytime soon. Syrian rebels on Wednesday gave Assad a 48-hour deadline to agree to an international peace plan; otherwise, they would renew their battle to overthrow him. Meanwhile, Assad's allies, Russia and China, continued to reject all calls for intervention or UN-backed penalties to force him to change course. Given Assad's ability to withstand international pressure and the continued backing of Russia and China, as well as the West's inability, or lack of will, to offer much help to the resistance, it appears that the grisly death toll in Syria will continue to climb. Yet as in Egypt, the devil they have could be better than the one waiting in the wings.
Judicial Benchmarks: DOMA Ruled Unconstitutional
The First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston ruled Thursday that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional because it improperly denies federal benefits to same-sex spouses. The three-judge panel, consisting of one Democrat and two Republican appointees, did not, however, claim to find a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. Its ruling is likely only a stepping stone to the Supreme Court's resolving the issue. The law, which was passed overwhelmingly by Congress and signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1996, was intended to prevent states that don't legalize same-sex marriage from being forced to recognize the unions of those that do. The federal government does not recognize such unions, either. The court ruled against the latter, but not the former -- an important point.
The Appeals Court ruling came just days after U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ruled DOMA unconstitutional because same-sex couples aren't eligible for long-term health insurance benefits, violating their due process rights. Judge Wilken, who was appointed by Clinton, also blasted a provision of the tax code that makes domestic partners of state workers ineligible for coverage under the worker's long-term care insurance, saying both were based on "moral condemnation" of same-sex couples. The Obama administration, for its part, has refused to defend DOMA in court.
Planned Parenthood Caught Advising Sex-Selective Abortion
Live Action caught Planned Parenthood workers on tape, advising women on obtaining late-term, sex-selective abortions -- a practice associated more with China than the U.S. In two online videos, the undercover mothers express the desire to abort a girl because they want boys. The first clinic in Austin, Texas, fired the worker, insisting they don't support sex-selective abortion. The clinic ordered retraining for the entire staff. A New York City clinic was next, but, as we went to press, it has yet to respond.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives failed to pass the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), which would have prohibited sex-selective abortions. The White House threatened to veto the legislation, anyway, though we're unclear how this plays into the "war on women" Obama claims to oppose -- most children aborted for gender reasons are female. Parting question: Is abortion based on gender any worse than abortion based on convenience?
Second Amendment: DC Raid Targets Iraq Vet
Army Sgt. Matthew Corrigan, a veteran of the war in Iraq, was asleep in his Washington, DC, apartment as the Metropolitan Police Department prepared to raid it. The Washington Times has the full story, but here are the highlights of how a misunderstanding turned into a gross violation of a man's Fourth Amendment rights.
Sgt. Corrigan called the National Veterans Crisis Hotline for advice on sleeping in spite of nightmares from his time serving in Fallujah. The operator, without Corrigan's permission, called 911 to report that "he has a gun and wants to kill himself." Corrigan denies that. It wasn't long before the SWAT team showed up, establishing a perimeter of barricaded streets and a staging area for a raid. At 1 a.m., they contacted a neighbor and friend of Corrigan, who assured them of his good character and warned that they were making a mistake. Still, police proceeded to break down Corrigan's door, arrest him without reading him his rights and ransack his apartment. They then filed charges for three unregistered firearms found in their warrantless search. Corrigan is suing the District for a minimum of $500,000 in damages, and, if reports are any indication, his case shouldn't be a hard one to make.
Climate Change This Week: Skeptics Aren't Stupid After All
On so many issues, leftists project their own intellectual inadequacies to characterize opponents as simpletons. Of course, this says more about leftist minds than anything else. The latest example is a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, claiming that people who aren't worried about global warming have slightly higher levels of scientific knowledge than those who are worried. Based upon the answers to 22 non-partisan questions about science and statistics, warming skeptics outscored the true believers.
Scientists cautioned about inferring too many conclusions from this particular small sample, and noted many other factors affect an individual's belief in global warming. Other scientists stated they were not surprised and generally have found skeptics to be scientifically knowledgeable. Never mind the facts, though. The ecofascist peddlers of the theory of man-made global warming and their Leftmedia lemmings are using "science" to advocate ever-bigger government. The problem isn't the climate; it's the solutions.
Nanny State Run Amok
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg isn't content to regulate salt or trans fats -- now he wants to ban large sugary drinks. The New York Times reports, "The proposed ban would affect virtually the entire menu of popular sugary drinks found in delis, fast-food franchises and even sports arenas, from energy drinks to pre-sweetened iced teas. The sale of any cup or bottle of sweetened drink larger than 16 fluid ounces -- about the size of a medium coffee, and smaller than a common soda bottle -- would be prohibited under the first-in-the-nation plan, which could take effect as soon as next March."
In an interview with the Times, Bloomberg explained, "Obesity is a nationwide problem, and all over the United States, public health officials are wringing their hands saying, 'Oh, this is terrible.' New York City is not about wringing your hands; it's about doing something. I think that's what the public wants the mayor to do." We're not sure the public elected him to be their mother. He added, "We're not taking away anybody's right to do things, we're simply forcing you to understand that you have to make the conscious decision to go from one cup to another cup." That makes it all better. His proposal still must pass the Board of Health, but approval is likely given that Bloomberg appoints all its members.
Here in our humble shop, Reuters has never had a reputation for hard-hitting, unbiased journalism. But a new story this week really takes the cake. Reuters reports, "The votes are in and it is unanimous: Barack Obama will win re-election to the U.S. presidency in November, according to five astrologers who offered predictions at their convention on Tuesday." Adding to the mystique for Reuters is that the same astrologers correctly predicted the 2008 outcome. But back then, the economy was in the tank at the time, and the nation's first Hope 'n' Change™ black presidential candidate was running against an unpopular incumbent and an entirely uninspiring challenger. It didn't exactly take astrology to figure that one out. As for this cycle, Obama has been looking for a new campaign slogan. Perhaps he should try "When you wish upon a star."
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
Nate Jackson for The Patriot Post Editorial Team