"It is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth -- and listen to the song of that syren, till she transforms us into beasts. ... For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it might cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it." --Patrick Henry
Government & Politics
'Titanic II: It'll Be Different This Time'
"The Democrats are saying something like this: 'We found a big hole that we did not dig. ... Give us two more years. If it doesn't work, vote us out.'" That's what Bill Clinton said about the economy -- in 2010. There's plenty of blame to go around for that hole, of course, but it's worth remembering that Democrats took control of both houses of Congress -- and the purse strings -- almost a year before the recession started. And we can't think of a better argument for voting Democrats out than how they bound and gagged the economy for the last five years.
One of Clinton's most trusted strategists, James "It's the Economy, Stupid" Carville, is painfully aware that the languishing economy doesn't bode well for Democrats in November, and he's advising Obama to quit talking about his record -- a strategy he says is "wrong" and "will fail" -- and focus on the future instead. Carville wrote, along with fellow strategists Stanley Greenberg and Erica Seifert, "We will face an impossible headwind in November if we do not move to a new narrative, one that contextualizes the recovery but, more importantly, focuses on what we will do to make a better future for the middle class." In other words, it's like the sequel to "Titanic," and the ship will sink all over again.
Barack Obama isn't listening to Carville, though. He gave a 54-minute speech yesterday at an Ohio community college -- ironically, the same place Clinton made his remarks two years ago -- in an attempt to "reframe" the issue. "Rerun" might be a better word because there was nothing new offered, no deviation from the bigger-government-fixes-everything template, and it was full of the usual mix of self-congratulation and blame for everyone else. In fact, we think we've heard it 54 times before.
Obama blamed the "policies of the last decade" for the bad economy, while arguing that Mitt Romney would gut education, science and green energy programs, as well as "end [Medicare] as we know it." Arguing that he needs four more years because of George W. Bush is less than convincing, though as he reminded us last Friday, "the private sector is doing fine."
He then whined that Romney's campaign will go negative: "The other side will spend over a billion dollars on ads that tell you the economy is bad, that it's all my fault ... that I can't fix it because I think government is always the answer or because I didn't make a lot of money in the private sector and don't understand it or because I'm in over my head or because I think everything and everybody is doing just fine."
"No, I don't believe that government is the answer to all our problems," Obama joked -- at least we assume he had to be joking -- before turning around and saying of his "investments" of taxpayer money, "The private sector can't do it alone." In fact, he says, government investment is necessary to help "the next Thomas Edison, the next Wright brothers." Also laughably, he hammered the Bush tax cuts and alleged deregulation in general, only to later tout his own tax cuts and supposed deregulation.
All in all, the speech was a tired refrain of Obama's old standbys, class warfare and government solutions -- so much so that even a panel at MSNBC panned the speech. But Obama did offer one bit of wisdom: "This election is your chance to break [the] stalemate" between economic visions for the country. Indeed, it's time for a change.
The Obama Presidency in a Nutshell
"I think people are still hurting. I think the economy has not recovered, and it's not where it needs to be." --White House Press Secretary Jay Carney
"Now you may have heard that President Obama is on the other side of the state and he is going to be delivering a speech on the economy. He's doing that because he hasn't delivered a recovery for the economy. And he's going to be a person of eloquence as he describes his plans for making the economy better but don't forget, he's been president for three and a half years. And talk is cheap. Action speaks very loud. ... What he says and what he does are not always the exact same thing." --Mitt Romney, just before Obama's speech
Hope 'n' Change: Collusion on ObamaCare
We have long known that the Obama administration pulled out all the stops, legal and otherwise, to make ObamaCare a reality, but recent evidence indicates a staggeringly high level of collusion between the White House and pharmaceutical companies in crafting the legislation. The House Energy and Commerce Committee is investigating the relationship between the Obama White House and the drug industry lobby, led by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). The committee's recent findings are the most glaring example of crony capitalism we have yet seen from this administration.
In 2009, when ObamaCare was coming together, drug makers eagerly stepped up to join the White House effort in order to protect their own interests from too much government regulation, and because they realized that the new entitlement might bring a wave of new customers their way. Emails from the drug makers and the White House show that the White House explicitly looked to Pfizer and other drug companies to provide financial and critical support for the bill, dangling promises of looser price controls and anti-re-importation provisions in exchange. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), then chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, took everything that PhRMA offered, and then pushed re-importation anyway. As part of the well-played skit, the White House stepped in, saved the drug companies from the re-importation provision, and PhRMA wrote a $150 million check for an advertising campaign that touted the virtues of ObamaCare to an increasingly skeptical public.
Democrats pretend to be the champions of the average American, but they had no problem cozying up to drug companies in order to get their own way. The drug companies in turn had no problem getting into bed with the White House if it meant bigger potential profits for them down the road.
Meanwhile, even if the Supreme Court strikes down ObamaCare, some of its provisions may live on with various insurance companies. UnitedHealth Group and other large insurers, for example, intend to keep the provision that allows families to keep their children on their plans up to age 26, and they will also maintain certain preventive measures with no out-of-pocket charges. On the other hand, they're unlikely to stick to the portion of the law that requires them to take all comers regardless of pre-existing conditions, and they will probably ditch the requirement that insurers spend at least 80 percent of premiums on health-related costs.
Campaign Trail: Fundraiser-in-Chief
Barack Obama hit six fundraisers Tuesday in Baltimore and Philadelphia -- tying the one-day record for fundraising events by a sitting president. The previous record, by the way, was held by ... wait for it ... Barack Obama. Obama has held a total of 160 fundraising events since officially kicking off his re-election campaign. To put that into perspective, by the same point in his first term, George W. Bush held 79 events.
On another campaign stop for barbecue, the president and his four guests left without paying the $55.58 bill. The White House did settle the tab before the end of the day, but the episode reminded us of a particular attack Obama made on Republicans. Rebutting their criticism of his deficit spending, he said it's "like somebody goes to the restaurant, orders a big steak dinner, martini, all that stuff and then just as you're sitting down, they leave and accuse you of running up the tab." Just as with his budgets, he ordered something he didn't pay for.
News From the Swamp: Federal Reserve Debt Holdings Skyrocket
Newly released numbers show that the Federal Reserve under Obama has become the largest shareholder in U.S. government debt. The Fed owned $302 billion in U.S. Treasury securities in January 2009. That portion rose an incredible 452 percent by April 2012, with the Fed now holding $1.67 trillion. In roughly the same time frame, China's share of U.S. government debt rose from $740 billion to $1.17 trillion, and Japan's share shot from $635 billion to just over $1 trillion. Together, these three entities possess 49 percent of all the new debt generated during Obama's term, in which total debt rose 50 percent from $10 trillion to $15 trillion.
Waters Investigation Continues
The ethics investigation against Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) is back on track after it was determined that the House Ethics Committee did not violate her due process rights. Waters has been under investigation for three years for various alleged improprieties, including using her influence to intervene on behalf of a bank in which her husband owned stock. She has denied doing anything wrong, but instead of letting the facts speak for themselves, Waters has thrown every procedural hurdle she can to stall the investigation. Pending the outcome of the investigation, she is expected to become the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee when Barney Frank (MA) retires at the end of this term.
Holder's Turn of a Phrase
It's quite ironic that Attorney General Eric Holder, testifying at his ninth congressional hearing over the last 16 months regarding the gun-running Operation Fast and Furious, used the phrase "I stuck by my guns." We wouldn't call his obstinate attitude and -- at best -- grudging cooperation with the Fast and Furious probe a virtue. In fact, he's headed toward a contempt of Congress charge for the ongoing tug-of-war between Congress and his Justice Department over thousands of documents that may lead to a resolution of, among other things, the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry by illegal aliens toting guns from ATF's Fast and Furious operation. Audaciously, Holder calls the contempt vote a "constitutional crisis," though he offered a deal Thursday to release more documents.
If seeking justice is an effort to uncover the truth regarding a particular event, the Justice Department's continued dodging and weaving in this investigation suggests that justice is its last priority. Instead, it seems the only crisis in the DOJ is figuring out how to keep all the stories straight and the congressional wolves at bay.
For his part, Holder was hesitant to say where this will all lead, though he forcefully rejected a call from Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) to resign. "What my future holds, frankly, I'm just not sure," Holder responded when asked by Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) if he would consider another term if Barack Obama is re-elected. If Obama loses, one has to wonder if the term Holder will serve will be in a secured lockup.
Florida v DOJ Over Voter Purge
On Tuesday the state of Florida filed suit against the Department of Homeland Security in order to continue with Republican Gov. Rick Scott's plan to purge ineligible voters from the rolls. "I have a job to do to defend the right of legitimate voters," said Scott. "We've been asking for the Department of Homeland Security's database, SAVE, for months, and they haven't given it to us. So this afternoon, we will be filing a lawsuit, the secretary of state of Florida, against the Department of Homeland Security to give us that database. We want to have fair, honest elections in our state, and we have been put in a position that we have to sue the federal government to get this information."
Almost immediately after the Florida suit was filed, the Justice Department filed their own suit against Florida, claiming that the Sunshine State is violating Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act. Notably, DOJ dropped its allegations that Florida is violating the Voting Rights Act. Scott claims that the state has identified 100 non-U.S. citizens who were registered to vote, 50 of whom already cast illegal ballots in Florida elections. Apparently, the DOJ thinks that's just fine. After all, Florida will once again be a crucial swing state in the upcoming presidential election, and Barack Obama will need every vote he can muster, illegal or otherwise.
Income Redistribution: More Energy Handouts
The Obama Energy Department is "investing" another $54 million in various manufacturing ventures, supposedly to help them become more energy efficient. General Motors, everyone's favorite bailout recipient, will receive $2.7 million to "develop an integrated super-vacuum die casting process using a new magnesium alloy to achieve a 50% energy savings compared to the multi-piece, multi-step, stamping and joining process currently used to manufacture car doors." The Dow Chemical Company will receive $9 million for a carbon fiber production process, despite having spent $1.7 billion of its own money in research and development in 2010. Numerous other companies such as Delphi Automotive Systems, Third Wave Systems and PolyPlus Battery Company are receiving millions, as well.
The president claims that the "private sector can't do it alone." But as Heritage Foundation's Nicolas Loris writes, "Businesses do not need public investment to improve efficiency and cut costs; they make those investments regularly with their own money." Granted, $54 million is pocket change these days -- Solyndra alone received 10 times that much -- but it still represents unnecessary taxpayer "investment" that also happens to be unconstitutional.
Around the Nation: Corporations Aren't Hoarding Cash After All
The Federal Reserve issued a report this week on the amount of cash held by U.S. corporations, and it amounts to about half a trillion dollars less then previously thought. Non-financial corporations still hold $1.74 trillion in liquid assets, an unprecedented amount. But as The Wall Street Journal's Ben Casselman writes, "Perhaps more significant than the number itself, however, is how the revision affects the trend. Before the revision, the Fed showed corporations continuing to accumulate cash, with liquid assets rising nearly every quarter since the recession ended and reaching a record $2.2 trillion at the end of last year. Now, however, it appears corporate cash piles grew rapidly through 2009, then leveled off. Companies aren't spending their cash, but they aren't holding more of it, either."
The Fed's finding puts a significant dent in Barack Obama's claim that corporations are just "sitting on the sidelines" and refusing to invest in the economy.
Around the World: Spain Gets a Bailout
Following the euro zone's bailout of Greece, Ireland and Portugal, it's no wonder other countries want to get in on the dole. The latest case in point is Spain. Euro zone finance ministers pledged Madrid up to €100 billion (or $125 billion) to save foundering Spanish banks. This brings to nearly €500 billion that the European Union and the International Monetary Fund have committed to the continent's bailout frenzy.
As with any government handout, however, this latest bailout left some crying foul. Ireland, which in 2010 received an €85 billion bailout package wrought with attached strings, wants to renegotiate its deal. After all, why should Spain get more money with fewer strings? For its part, the Obama administration of course supports the bailout; Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner called it "important for the health of Spain's economy and as concrete steps on the path to financial union, which is vital to the resilience of the euro area." Italy is poised to be next in line, with Industry Minister Corrado Passera noting that things on the Italian economic front are better than last year but still serious.
In the bizarre logic of the left, as The Washington Post explains, "When world leaders take stock at a summit next week in Mexico, they'll face the discomforting fact that four years of crisis-fighting, trillions of dollars in government stimulus spending and a massive effort from the world's central banks have failed to produce the 'strong, sustainable and balanced' world economy they are striving to build. Is it time to open the cash spigot again?" Do we really have to ask that question?
Much more to the point: The U.S. is on track in the next five years to add three times as much debt as the euro zone will.
Most U.S. presidents understood that campaign rules-of-engagement don't include leaking classified national security information. But of course, most presidents aren't The Chosen One. That seems to be the attitude behind a series of White House leaks apparently aimed at bolstering Barack Obama's "I'm strong on national security" image. Despite his presidential oath to the Constitution and to defend America against all enemies, the operative criterion here is whether the compromise will make Mr. Hope-&-Change look good this November.
What "highly secret information" was compromised, exactly? For starters, how about a "deep-black" U.S. cyberspook operation using a computer worm called "Stuxnet" to trash centrifuges and computers used in Iran's nuclear program? Obama proselytes at The New York Times ("All the news fit to print, classified or not") could hardly wait -- and, of course, didn't -- to publish details related to this special-access, über-sensitive program. But wait, there's more ... much more.
Other leaks include: The "Kill List" revelation that the president is personally involved with the selection process for targeting and assassinating terrorists; the selling-out of Dr. Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani doctor who helped locate Osama bin Laden through DNA testing in a CIA fake-polio vaccine campaign, leading to a 33-year sentence for high treason for the good doctor by "our ally" Pakistan; a thwarted underwear bomber plot -- a leak that threatened the lives of U.S.-friendly operatives working in covert operations abroad by exposing information that directly pointed to infiltrated terrorist groups in Yemen.
The list goes on -- the "Zero Dark Thirty" leak, the CIA's involvement in introducing faulty parts in Iran's nuclear-program-related systems, the White House-blessed exposé on the bin Laden takedown, etc. Unfortunately, an exhaustive list is impossible within this space. Suffice it to say that leaks within this administration have done more grave damage to U.S. national security than perhaps any since Julius Rosenberg turned over U.S. and British nuclear-bomb-building secrets to the Russians.
Don't look for an apology from the sorry lot of squatters occupying the Executive Branch, however. During the latest damage control session, Obama announced, "The idea that my White House would purposely release national security information is offensive." Note that he didn't say the White House didn't release highly classified national security secrets, nor that the accusation was untrue -- only that the "idea ... is offensive." Of course it's offensive -- accusations of treason often are. Here's a question for Mr. Offended, though: Is that "idea" any less offensive than the idea of putting American lives at risk for political gain?
Regarding the leaks themselves, only two options exist. Either: (1) the sources were legally authorized to leak the information, or (2) they were not. If the former were true, although a duly authorized person may release classified information, doing so would require the president's knowledge and approval. If the latter is true, then the leak source(s) must be investigated and prosecuted. This least-damaging approach seems to be the administration's preference.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has promised a thorough investigation of the leaks. Sadly, the fact that he is a known liar, at least regarding the "Fast and Furious" congressional probe, promises that his commitment to the pursuit of truth won't produce much. Ultimately, American voters will decide with whom they feel more comfortable guarding national secrets. To most Patriots, however, the answer is obvious.
Warfront With Jihadistan: Detention Suit Rejected
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to reconsider challenges by some "guests" of Guantanamo Bay against their years-long detention at the U.S. military base in Cuba. The High Court sided with the Obama regime by rejecting appeals by seven terrorists who had previously lost their bid for freedom in cases before U.S. federal judges in Washington, DC. The Supreme Court justices issued no statement with their order and there were no known dissenters.
In a 2008 decision, the Supreme Court said that Gitmo prisoners had a legal right to challenge the legality of their detention and seek release. In this latest appeal, attorneys for the terrorists challenged the admissibility and reliability of certain government evidence, including U.S. intelligence reports, and said that a U.S. appeals court had incorrectly ordered trial judges to use a standard that too easily accepted the government's evidence. They said the appeals court denied the terrorists what was at the heart of the Supreme Court's 2008 ruling: a meaningful review of the lawfulness of their imprisonment. The U.S. Justice Department fought the appeals and told the Supreme Court that sufficient evidence existed justifying that each detainee should remain in military detention. The Supreme Court agreed.
While any use of government's power of detention must be properly reviewed to ensure due process under the law, it's also important to remember who these detainees are: unlawful combatants, with no legal rights to due process any more than what they have received to date. Perhaps the most delicious irony to come out of these court cases was watching the Obama regime, which came to power promising to close Gitmo within one year, finally begin to realize that, yes, these are bad people who deserve indefinite detention.
Immigration Front: Executive Order
Barack Obama signed an executive order this morning that will halt the deportation of young illegal aliens. "The policy change, described to The Associated Press by two senior administration officials, will affect as many as 800,000 immigrants who have lived in fear of deportation. It also bypasses Congress and partially achieves the goals of the so-called DREAM Act, a long-sought but never enacted plan to establish a path toward citizenship for young people who came to the United States illegally but who have attended college or served in the military." Obama will discuss the new policy later today in the Rose Garden.
Department of Military Correctness: Military Bibles
"The U.S. Military has revoked its approval of a series of military-themed Bibles, reportedly over trademark issues," reports Todd Starnes of Fox News. "Now, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation is demanding that all remaining versions of the Bibles be removed from base exchanges -- calling them a 'threat to national security.'" The Bibles are published by B&H Publishing, which is a division of LifeWay Christian Resources, run by the Southern Baptist Convention. The Holman Christian Standard Bible is sold with the seals of the four branches of the military, with permission given in 2003. The Military Religious Freedom Foundation says that amounts to an official endorsement of religion by the U.S. military. The Bibles could be replaced by some that don't bear the seal on the cover.
Second Amendment: 'Stand Your Ground' Under Fire in Florida
In the wake of Trayvon Martin's death, the first of a series of public meetings regarding Florida's "stand your ground" law was held this week at a church near where Martin was shot. Republican Gov. Rick Scott created the task force responsible for organizing the meeting in response to the deafening public outcry over the Feb. 26 shooting.
Adding to the circus atmosphere was a rally organized by Martin's parents as well as a petition drive to either modify or repeal the law, which gives those who feel threatened the right to use deadly force without retreating. It's unclear whether the Martin case is an actual example of "stand your ground" based on its circumstances, and Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, who chairs the task force, was careful to say that the meeting wasn't specifically about the Martin shooting. It's a shame, however, that the right of self-defense could be subject to the whims of a political mob.
Meanwhile, two economics researchers from Texas A&M University made the claim that homicides were up during a four-year period from 2005 to 2009 in states that have laws similar to Florida's. But their data, which simply compiled the number of what were termed "justifiable homicides" in the 22 states that enforce a version of the castle doctrine, purposely ignores cases in which deaths actually saved lives.
Faith and Family: The Legitimization of Same-Sex Parenting
Over the last decade, America has witnessed a change in the family structure unlike any seen previously. While same-sex couples were once barred from adopting children, they're now championed in some quarters as a superior child-rearing arrangement. But Mark Regnerus, a sociology professor at the University of Texas at Austin, might have thrown a splash of cold water on that theory by doing some groundbreaking research on the outcome of young adults from age 18 to 39 whose parents spent at least a portion of their childhood in a same-sex relationship. Regnerus found some striking differences among the group in his New Family Structures Study -- character traits that included an increased risk of severe depression, a higher likelihood of unemployment or cheating on a spouse, increased marijuana usage and a negative perception of their childhood.
Regnerus concedes that many of these problems have less to do with parenting and more with the instability of the child's family situation. Similar results can also occur in single-parent families where one parent goes through a series of relationships over the time a child is raised. But the study comes at a time when same-sex marriage finally has presidential support and is under debate in a number of states. Regnerus' study just may make the case that what's best for the child is the old-fashioned nuclear family. It doesn't take a study to confirm common sense, but these days studies carry more weight.
Don't miss Mark Alexander's essay on Fatherhood.
Village Academic Curriculum: NYC School Bans Patriotic Song
One New York City school drew a line for appropriate music at its kindergarten graduation, and Lee Greenwood's classic, "God Bless the USA," didn't make the cut. Five classes spent several months learning the patriotic hit, but the school's principal interrupted a rehearsal to inform teachers that the song wouldn't be permitted. They said she told them, "We don't want to offend other cultures." A spokeswoman explained that the lyrics were "too grown up" for five-year-old kids. On the other hand, the principal initially had no problem allowing the kids to sing Justin Bieber's "Baby," which features the line, "Are we an item? Girl, quit playing." Totally age-appropriate. Bieber's tune was later scrapped, but sanity is still in short supply.
Bloomberg Doubles Down
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg remains under fire for his ludicrous proposed ban on large sugary drinks in the city. The city's Board of Health still must approve the proposal, though not only is that likely but some members are suggesting that the ban go further. One member thinks they should limit the size of popcorn sold at movie theaters, and another member suggests that maybe milkshakes are too much in the calorie department. For his part, Bloomberg insists he's not overstepping or creating a nanny state, but rather doing the fundamental job of government. He says, "If government's purpose isn't to improve the health and longevity of its citizens, I don't know what its purpose is." Such a view certainly doesn't square with the First Principles of our nation.
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