The Syrian Political Charade

Sep. 4, 2013


“History by apprising [citizens] of the past will enable them to judge of the future.” –Thomas Jefferson


The Syrian Political Charade

A funny thing happened on the way to the U.S. attacking Syria: Barack Obama decided to seek congressional approval. Such is not his usual wont. Since occupying the Oval Office, Obama has made a practice of issuing executive orders and other decrees about all manner of policy preferences without bothering to go to Congress. He attacked Libya without Congress, but now with Syria he’s seeking an accomplice – though he still insists he doesn’t need one.

Columnist George Will notes that, ironically, the British Parliament’s rejection of military action prompted Obama to go to Congress. “If Parliament had authorized an attack,” Will wrote, “Obama probably would already have attacked, without any thought about Congress’ prerogatives.”

The outcome of a looming congressional vote on military action is uncertain – the sides don’t break along party lines. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) support Obama’s call, as does Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). But significant numbers of the rank-and-file aren’t convinced, despite assurances from Secretary of State John Kerry that we won’t be “going to war in a classic sense.”

The issue for many in Congress – as well as grassroots Americans – is whether a limited strike will achieve any clear policy objective that serves vital U.S. interests. Kerry warns that “we cannot allow Assad to be able to gas people with impunity.” But will a strike eradicate Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons stores now that he’s had time to move and protect them? If we weaken or remove Assad, will al-Qaida rebels come out on top? Will a limited strike sufficiently chastise Assad for crossing the “red line” Obama now ridiculously asserts he “didn’t set”? And if a strike is strong enough, what reaction can we expect from Syria, Iran or Russia?

In short, Obama has turned this into a political charade. Any principle governing our response was lost as soon as he opened his mouth.


Unions Wake Up to ObamaCare

Barack Obama and his ilk fought tooth and nail to win over enough votes to secure ObamaCare’s passage. After being sweet-talked with the usual payoffs that unions expect, Big Labor was happy to oblige as a primary catalyst for the Unaffordable Care Act. But the problem with unrealistic promises is that eventually reality catches up, leaving unions with a case of buyer’s remorse.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) is one example. Citing “policy positions on such important matters as immigration, labor law reform, health care reform, and international labor issues,” ILWU president Robert McEllrath announced that the group’s 40,000 members will be withdrawing their membership from AFL-CIO, the country’s biggest federation of unions. “We feel the Federation has done a great disservice to the labor movement and all working people by going along to get along,” McEllrath explained. Now they say so… The real story here is that ILWU wants a single-payer health care system. Leave it to a union to see a solution in replacing a bad system with something worse. But that’s just the point: Completely nationalizing health care is the Democrats’ true end-game.

AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka was also forced to concede that ObamaCare’s got problems. “[E]mployers are trying to plan their future by creating a workforce that gets 29 and a half hours or less a week so that they don’t have to pay health care,” Trumka recently admitted. Additionally, union leaders have expressed various concerns over the cost of ObamaCare plans. No wonder the White House is working on a “fix” that addresses Big Labor’s concerns.


News From the Swamp: IRS Expands Its Troubles

The inspector general for the Social Security Administration (SSA) recently published a report revealing that the IRS routinely neglects to penalize employers who file W-2s with mismatched names and Social Security numbers. In effect, this has “hindered” the SSA’s attempts to prevent “unauthorized noncitizens” (illegal aliens) from using fake or stolen Social Security numbers to obtain tax refunds. “Furthermore,” said the report, “a senior employment tax official at the IRS acknowledged that unauthorized noncitizens accounted for a high percentage of inaccurate wage reporting.” This isn’t surprising, given that the IRS has issued an astounding $14 billion in refundable tax credits to illegals.

In other IRS news, National Review’s Eliana Johnson reports, “The second in command at the Internal Revenue Service, Beth Tucker, will retire at the end of September.” As we noted in July, Tucker is one of the IRS employees who “commutes” to DC from her Texas home at obscene cost. Travel policy has since been changed. Baby steps.

Finally, Republicans on Capitol Hill are still working on the investigation into IRS targeting of Barack Obama’s political opponents in the lead-up to the 2012 election. Lois “Plead the Fifth” Lerner, the IRS official at the center of the scandal, remains on vacation since her May non-testimony, though Republicans still hope to compel her testimony.

Exit question: Does anyone trust the IRS to implement ObamaCare?


Village Academic Curriculum: Cradle to Career

Nearly 50 years and more than $180 million after LBJ launched it, the Head Start program has yet to significantly, some say measurably, improve children’s lives. But that’s not stopping Barack Obama from trying to extend the program – and the hand of the federal government – even closer to the cradle. Recently, he touted his universal pre-k plan, claiming that “it works for our kids” and “provides a vital support system for working parents.” In reality, studies show that kids who spend longer hours in daycare fare more poorly than those who spend more time under maternal care. But this fact hardly helps Obama’s real goal: getting kids under government teaching from “cradle to career.” A head start, indeed – straight to statism.

Lest you imagine any altruism in Obama’s move, consider that his administration is targeting states that have adopted school choice programs. Recently, Obama’s Department of Justice went after Louisiana and Wisconsin, citing threats to desegregation and non-compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, respectively. These states give parents and students non-public school options, effectively stripping government of its primary forum for indoctrinating the young. Coincidence? We think not.


Political Futures

Columnist Kyle Smith: “[Mark Levin’s] ‘The Liberty Amendments’ are 11 theoretical new constitutional amendments designed to re-emphasize a healthy suspicion of centralized authority. Levin suggests term limits of 12 years for senators and members of Congress, a balanced-budget amendment, term limits for Supreme Court justices, a voter-ID amendment and a sunset provision for federal agencies to automatically expire after three years unless renewed. Some of his ideas might command bipartisan support (now might be a particularly good time to renew the term-limits fight, with Congress polling at about the same approval rating as Lyme disease), but given that effectively two-thirds of Congress and three-quarters of states would have to approve any constitutional updates, most of the Levin amendments stand almost no chance of being passed. Especially the wittiest one: moving tax day to the day before Election Day. That doesn’t mean the proposals are unworthy of discussion. … Levin is speaking for millions when he says that DC is guilty of overreach, of stretching the Constitution’s boundaries until it becomes meaningless, and of sending us the bill.”

Essential Liberty

Columnist John Stossel: “Congress is working on a farm bill, which, among other things, will set limits on how high or low milk prices can be in different regions of the country. … When the Heritage Foundation told Republicans not to pass any farm bill, ‘conservative’ politicians banned Heritage from their weekly meetings. But why should politicians be involved in agriculture? … In a normal market, sellers charge the highest price their customers will pay – and then lower the price when they lose customers to sellers who charge less. Competition keeps prices low, not generosity or warm-heartedness. Or government. The price of milk, on the other hand, is decided by regulators, using complicated formulas. … Prices are not just money. They’re information. Rising prices tell farmers to produce more; that increases supply and prices go back down. Falling prices tell producers to invest in other products. … It’s in planned economies, like Venezuela, North Korea and the former Soviet Union that shortages occur. When politicians micromanage markets, consumers suffer. Milk isn’t ‘special.’ Almost no product is. Let competition set the price.”

Re: The Left

Economist Thomas Sowell: “Left to themselves, people tend to sort themselves out into communities of like-minded neighbors. This has been so obvious that only the intelligentsia could misconstrue it – and only ideologues could devote themselves to crusading against people’s efforts to live and associate with other people who share their values and habits. Quite aside from the question of whose values and habits may be better is the question of the effects of people living cheek by jowl with other people who put very different values on noise, politeness, education and other things that make for good or bad relations between neighbors. … But such mundane matters often get brushed aside by ideological crusaders out to change the world to fit their own vision. When the world fails to conform to their vision, then it seems obvious to the ideologues that it is the world that is wrong, not that their vision is uninformed or unrealistic.”

For more, visit The Right Opinion.


Editorial Exegesis

The Wall Street Journal: “A leading candidate for the biggest government failure in recent years is the $25 billion Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Loan Program (ATVM), which stopped doling out loans in 2011 after funding such debacles as Fisker Automotive. But this is the Obama Administration, where nothing in government fails, so naturally new Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz wants to revive it. … The $16 billion or so left in the auto-loan program seems to be burning a hole in Mr. Moniz’s pocket, so taxpayers should be on the lookout for political favoritism. Congress’s investigations into Fisker, Solyndra and other losers showed that the Energy Department passed out funds on the basis of political calculations and then was incapable of exercising due diligence over its portfolio. Rather than let Mr. Moniz throw money at more companies that will go bust or become government dependencies, Congress ought to kill this monument to crony capitalism.”


French historian Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859): “It really is difficult to imagine how people who have entirely given up managing their own affairs could make a wise choice of those who are to do that for them. One should never expect a liberal, energetic, and wise government to originate in the votes of a people of servants.”


John Kerry: “[The president’s] decision [on Syria] … will happen with the consent of the Congress of the United States, and be much more powerful and I believe allow us to even do more coordinating with our friends and allies, do more planning, and frankly be far more effective. I think this is a smart decision by the president. I think it’s a courageous decision. He is not trying to create an imperial presidency.”


When you’ve lost Fareed Zakaria, you’ve lost Middle America.

Zakaria: “The administration’s handling of Syria over the last year has been a case study in how not to do foreign policy. … [T]he manner in which the Obama administration has first created and then mismanaged this crisis will cast a long shadow on America’s role in the world.”

The BIG Lie

DNC chief Debbie Wasserman-Schultz: “There are dozens of countries who are going to stand with the United States, who will engage with us on military action and also that back us 100%.”

She’s just “not at liberty” to say which ones.

This Week’s ‘Alpha Jackass’ Award

John McCain: “Would you have a problem with an American or Christians saying ‘Thank God? Thank God?’ That’s what they’re saying. … For someone to say ‘Allahu Akbar’ is about as offensive as someone saying ‘Thank God.’”

“Allahu Akbar” is translated “god is greater.” And Christians don’t say “Thank God” when flying planes into buildings, or murdering soldiers in cold blood.

From the ‘Non Compos Mentis’ File

Activist Midge Slater prays before an Iowa Democrat abortion rally: “We give thanks, oh Lord, for the doctors, both current and future, who provide quality abortion care. … Today we pray for the families who have chosen. May they know the blessing of choice. … We pray for women who have been made afraid by their paternalistic religion.”

Village Idiots

Former basketball star Dennis Rodman on his trip to North Korea: “I just want to meet my friend Kim, the marshal, and start a basketball league over there or something like that. … I’m not there to be a diplomat. I’m there to go there and just have a good time.”

Short Cuts

Blogger Doug Powers: “It’s almost an Onion-worthy story: ‘Congressional doves and Nobel Peace Prize winning president attempt to convince those they’ve accused of being war mongers to join them in attacking another country.’”

Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
Nate Jackson for The Patriot Post Editorial Team

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