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Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’
December 6th, 2013 at 4:26 pm
A Classless Act from President Obama
Posted by Troy Senik Print

The White House announced today that President Obama and the First Lady will be traveling to South Africa next week to pay their respects to the memory of Nelson Mandela. That’s as it should be. While the media’s rush to canonize Mandela is a bit overwrought (his ultimate legacy was unquestionably positive, but that shouldn’t be allowed to obscure his many faults, which are presented in an admirably balanced fashion in National Review’s editorial on his life), his was still a deeply significant life, worthy of presidential recognition.

Given that sentiment, you may be wondering what the “classless act” I’m referring to in the title is. It’s not paying homage to Mandela; it’s the contrast with the events of eight months ago, when this happened:

Friends and allies of Baroness Thatcher expressed ’surprise and disappointment’ last night as it emerged President Obama is not planning to send any serving member of his administration to her funeral.

… a US embassy spokesman confirmed that no serving member of his administration would be present to pay their last respects, citing a busy week in US domestic politics.

Obviously, the President — with his signature policy initiative currently on life support — is no less pressed for time now than he was upon Lady Thatcher’s death. It doesn’t take too deep a dive into his intellectual biography to find the root cause of this double standard: Obama has been open about his identification with Mandela; Thatcher was clearly a figure he regarded as alien at best, an attitude he seems to apply to the British with some regularity.

Obama is perfectly within his rights as an individual to hold some world figures in higher esteem than others. As President, however, he ought to feel obligated to remember the importance of his ceremonial role — one in which he is a totem of the United States, even if it occasionally puts him in positions that make him squeamish. Nelson Mandela deserves his recognition; Margaret Thatcher did too. It’s a shame that he couldn’t rise above his own university campus provincialism to pay her that respect.

December 2nd, 2013 at 6:11 pm
Supreme Court Could Defund Obamacare

Federal subsidies are the lynchpin holding Obamacare together. Without them, insurance plans bought on state-run exchanges would be too expensive for most people to buy.

Which means there’s a huge gaping problem if you live in one of the 36 states that chose to let the feds run the exchange: You don’t qualify for federal subsidies.

“Congress was exceedingly clear that tax credits and subsidies are available to people whose plans ‘were enrolled in through an exchange established by the State under section 1311 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,’” argues Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s Attorney General, in the Wall Street Journal.

“Congress specified that credits and subsidies are only to be available in states that set up their own health-insurance exchange for a reason: It could not force states to set up exchanges. Instead, it had to entice them to do so.”

But if the enticement fails, then citizens are exposed to the full brunt of Obamacare’s increased cost structure for health insurance. That’s the risk the health law’s drafters took. Now the plain meaning of the text should result in a massively unpopular program.

The Obama administration is spooked. If the vast majority of Americans are forced to choose between paying the real price of Obamacare-related insurance or a hefty fine, there will be an electoral tsunami in 2014.

Here’s hoping Oklahoma’s lawsuit gets a favorable ruling from the Supreme Court sooner rather than later.

November 26th, 2013 at 4:44 pm
The Walls Close in on Civil Society
Posted by Troy Senik Print

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column here entitled “America’s Fascist Moment.” I generally try to avoid such loaded terms in print, but the reason I used that other F-word was precisely because we’ve allowed its common connotation to obscure its actual meaning.

People usually associate ‘fascism ‘with the worst kinds of authoritarians, especially Adolf Hitler. And, true enough, Hitler was an extreme example of a fascist at work. Generally, however, fascism is a bit more subtle than that (really, though, what isn’t more subtle than the Third Reich?).

What the term actually means is erasing the lines between the state and civil society; ensuring that everything we do is tied to the government. In the famous formulation of Benito Mussolini, it’s “All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.” Needless to say, that’s about as far away as you can get from the traditional American notion of limited government, where the state is only valuable insofar as it serves the people, not the other way around (for the single best volume on this, I recommend Jonah Goldberg’s truly fantastic Liberal Fascism).

When history renders its ultimate judgment on the Obama Administration, any fair reading will note the deep fascist tendencies that pervade this Administration. If you need any proof, you need only look at the headlines of the past few days.

First, you’ve got the President exhorting his disciples to use Thanksgiving dinner to harangue family members about Obamacare, even going so far as to provide pages worth of printable talking points to his minions (I recently took this up at Ricochet).

Then you’ve got the Administration’s continued efforts to force employers to violate their consciences and provide birth control for their employees even if it violates the teachings of their faith, a fight that it was announced today will head to the Supreme Court in the spring.

Finally, there’s the news that Obama’s Treasury Department is proposing cracking down on tax-exempt status for non-profit groups that engage in what the Administration believes to be too much political activity. Liberals and conservatives alike should understand the grave danger that would come with giving the Executive Branch that kind of power to regulate political activity. There’s no such thing as a free polity where those in power get to punish those who aren’t simply for voicing their opinions.

Having a free society, however, doesn’t seem to be a priority for the Obama Administration. This is an Administration that would rather beat its enemies while violating the noblest traditions of American government than lose because they stood on principle. You’d be hard-pressed to think of another White House that ever threatened liberty so directly and so consistently.

November 20th, 2013 at 1:21 pm
First Goes the Insurance, Next Goes the Doctor

Time’s Swampland blog quotes a health care industry expert to confirm the obvious: “Many people are going to find out that the second part of the promise – that if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor – just wasn’t true,” says a former George H.W. Bush Medicare and Medicaid official.

Fundamentally, Obamacare is designed to increase access to health insurance. It does this by increasing its costs and then transferring the extra money to eligible people in the form of insurance subsidies and enlarged Medicaid programs. To compensate, insurance companies will narrow their doctor networks. In many cases this will result in people losing access to the doctor of their choice.

In other words, the logical outcome of President Barack Obama’s law is to show that his promise of keeping one’s doctor is a lie.

Though the Swampland writer says “It’s unclear why the President made the promise about keeping your doctor,” it is abundantly clear that without such a promise Obamacare could not have passed. People were told they could get a flashy new entitlement at no cost to themselves. Now, they are finding out how truly wrong that promise was.

November 13th, 2013 at 6:37 pm
Beware Obamacare ‘Fixes’

Fox News says Democrats in Congress gave the Obama White House an ultimatum today: Fix the Obamacare-caused insurance policy cancellations by Friday, or we’ll vote for Republican measures that do.

Ordinarily, I would welcome bipartisan fervor allied against the Obama administration, but the 48 hour deadline has me holding my applause. No good policy or law can result from a two-day cram session overseen by panic-stricken political appointees. We’re much more likely to see a hastily written executive order rather than a carefully targeted proposal.

Because of that, it’s very likely that whatever the Obama White House produces on Friday will – over time – cause more problems than it fixes.

As to the Republican proposals that seek to reinstate canceled insurance plans, I’m not sure that’s a sound strategy either. Republicans didn’t vote for Obamacare, so they have zero responsibility for helping President Barack Obama keep his fallacious promise to let people keep their insurance policies if they want to.

People are losing their insurance plans because Obamacare changes the insurance market. If Republicans want to keep pre-Obamacare insurance plans, they should insist on returning to a pre-Obamacare insurance market. Thus, as ever, the simplest Obamacare ‘fix’ is also the most effective: Complete repeal.

Anything else runs the risk of further distorting an already overregulated part of the health care sector.

October 28th, 2013 at 7:11 pm
HHS: No, You Can’t Keep Your Insurance

President Barack Obama lied. NBC News says so.

In 2009, President Obama went around the country saying “if you like your health plan, you will be able to keep your health plan.” After Obamacare passed, he persisted: “If [you] already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance.”

But in between, the Health and Human Services department gutted that guarantee.

“The law states that policies in effect as of March 23, 2010 will be ‘grandfathered,’ meaning consumers can keep those policies even though they don’t meet requirements of the new health care law,” reports NBC.

“But the Department of Health and Human Services then wrote regulations that narrowed that provision, by saying that if any part of a policy was significantly changed since that date – the deductible, co-pay, or benefits, for example – the policy would not be grandfathered.”

See the game? Obama can claim that so long as insurance companies freeze a plan in time, the consumer won’t be bothered. But change any part of a product – including making it cheaper – and the grandfather clause no longer applies.

In other words, insurance companies can either ignore their market’s price signals and lose money, or respond and get blamed for forfeiting their clients’ health plan.

The worse part: “[T]he administration knew that more than 40 to 67 percent of those in the individual market would not be able to keep their plans, even if they liked them.”

That’s because HHS put that estimate in a federal regulation in July 2010.

Looks like President Obama has about as much respect for the American people as he does for the rule of law: Zilch.

October 10th, 2013 at 7:21 pm
Obama Can’t Get Out of His Own Way
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Watching President Obama blunder his way through the government shutdown and the debt ceiling fight has been jaw-dropping. The president can’t seem to score political points even when the other side is fumbling the ball in their own end zone.

Regardless of what you think of the GOP’s tactics going into the shutdown, the polling has been pretty clear that Republicans are shouldering more of the blame than Democrats. All Obama had to do to capitalize was get out of their way.

Instead, his OMB imposed a series of petty, penny ante shutdowns on locations like the open-air World War II Memorial. The resulting anger from the public has led to plans for a Million Vet March on the mall this weekend. To add insult to injury, police actually removed a man from the Lincoln Memorial grounds yesterday who was voluntarily mowing the grass so that it would look nice for America’s veterans. And this whole drama is playing out within a week or so of Harry Reid’s gaffe making it sound like Democrats weren’t interested in funding research to help children with cancer. When you’re offending World War II vets and terminally ill kids, you’re generally doing politics wrong.

The theatrics are little more than a sideshow, however — and that’s probably the reason they haven’t moved the polls any. We’re now coming to the point, though, when the two sides are negotiating over the real substance of these issues. Just a little while ago, the New York Times put up a story saying that the President had rejected a Republican offer to pass a six-week extension of the debt ceiling. In the time it’s taken me to draft this post, they’ve changed it to say only that they’ve “failed to reach agreement” and that both sides are still talking.

If Obama has any sense, he’ll take this deal. The Republican willingness to pass a short-term fix to the debt ceiling represents an acknowledgment that the consequences of not doing so are decidedly more dangerous that those attending a government shutdown (have you noticed that life hasn’t been much different while official Washington is on hiatus?). If the President shoots it down, he will begin to look like the absolutist and he will seem like the one who’s playing Russian roulette with the country in order to bolster his political standing. With any other president, it’d be unfathomable. Obama, however, has a special gift for unforced errors.

October 8th, 2013 at 1:26 pm
Startling Graph about the Debt Ceiling and the National Debt

In anticipation of the debt ceiling debate/crisis/hysteria, Veronique de Rugy, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University tweeted a graph of all the times the debt ceiling has been raised since 1980.

It’s a simple but shocking illustration that tells the story of how America went from a national debt of $930 million to a national debt of $16.7 trillion in just over three decades.

The graph indicates that we clearly have two big government presidents to thank for putting Americans and the American economy in such a dire predicament: George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

October 4th, 2013 at 7:20 pm
Feds Mandate Non-Existent Solution for Non-Existent Problem
Posted by Troy Senik Print

In my column last week, I wrote about how rapidly predictions of catastrophic global warming are unraveling. Despite the fact that the case for skepticism is probably better than ever, the Obama Administration is still proceeding with new EPA regulations to cap carbon emissions, which will have the practical effect of crippling the coal industry.

What’s perhaps most remarkable about this crusade is that the EPA claims the problem can be handled through carbon sequestration — a technology that’s not commercially viable (though this should come as no surprise coming from the same people that think solar and wind power are the wave of the future). As Larry Bell notes at Forbes:

EPA’s latest climate battle plan is to prohibit construction of new coal-fired power plants that can’t achieve 1,100 pound per megawatt hour carbon emission limits. To accomplish this will require plant operators to capture and store (“sequester”) excess CO2, something that cannot be accomplished through affordable means, if at all. [The Institute for Energy Research estimates] that this “regulatory assault” will eliminate 35 gig watts of electrical generating capacity…10% of all U.S. power. As the Competitive Enterprise Institute observes, “If the carbon dioxide emissions standard for power plants proposed by the EPA today is enacted, the United States will have built its final coal-fired power plant.”

The liberal environmental establishment wants to bankrupt the coal industry. That’s their prerogative. But they should at least be honest about it instead of acting like they’re simply helping the industry transition to the next best thing. Perhaps they could take a page out of this fella’s book:

September 20th, 2013 at 5:36 pm
The Sting of Friendly Rebuke
Posted by Troy Senik Print

The Second City is far from the first place one would expect to produce a devastating satire of Barack Obama’s foreign policy. The Chicago improv troupe, which — along with the Groundlings in Los Angeles — is one of two major feeder programs for Saturday Night Live, is part of an artistic community whose political sensibilities overwhelmingly incline towards the president. Moreover, they’re located right in his back yard.

The video below, however, — produced back when it still looked like the president would pursue an inept war with Syria rather than the inept peace we have now — is a brilliantly pointed takedown of Obama and his apostles — and also of the entire political sensibility they represent. That it is clearly done through the clenched teeth of sympathists only makes it all the more enjoyable.

September 20th, 2013 at 12:06 pm
Pro-Amnesty Activists Besiege White House

How’s this for gratitude?

A group of pro-amnesty activists chained themselves to the White House fence this week demanding that President Barack Obama stop deporting an estimated 1,000 illegal immigrants a day, reports USA Today.

The chain gang members are affiliated with the National Day Labor Organizing Network. Their specific demand is pretty breathtaking, even by liberal standards.

From their radical perspective, President Obama “has the power to reduce deportations, the legal authority to expand deferred action, and the political obligation to lead the national debate through bold action.” “Unless the President alters course, he risks cementing his legacy as having presided over the most anti-immigrant administration in history,” NDLON’s executive director said in a statement to the Washington Post.

Remember, this is the same president who unilaterally implemented the DREAM Act last summer through executive order, even though the bill has never been passed by Congress. By presidential fiat, up to 1.6 million illegal immigrants will not be deported as required by law.

But NDLON wants more. They claim that despite any explicit statutory or constitutional authority the president has the power to expand deferred action to all illegal immigrants, effectively granting amnesty to 11 million people.

To his credit, President Obama says it can’t be done. Doing so “would be ignoring the law in a way that would be very difficult to defend legally,” Obama told an interviewer on Telemundo.

Much like the administration’s decision last week not to grant an ObamaCare waiver to certain unions, the president’s refusal to double-down on lawless amnesty is an encouraging sign that some measure of respect for the rule of law is emerging at the White House.

Let’s see if it lasts.

September 16th, 2013 at 7:04 pm
Remember Obama Phones?

Looking for a job? How about getting trained by a government contractor to “forge signatures and falsify data”?

National Review is reporting that a former employee at TerraCom, Inc., a cell phone provider under the federal government’s Lifeline program, was encouraged to use the tactics to help boost the company’s revenues from $32.6 million in 2011 to $52.3 million in 2012.

Though a drop in the bucket for a line-item that costs $2.189 billion, the revelation serves as a reminder for how bad the so-called “Obama Phone” program has been administered.

So does this: “Lifeline’s costs have increased by 166 percent in the past five years,” according to NR.

Hmm… that means the program, around since the 1980’s, dramatically spiked in 2009 and hasn’t stopped since. Any guess as to what – or who – is responsible?

September 12th, 2013 at 7:46 pm
Delay ObamaCare, Spend Savings on Sequester?

House Republican conservatives are considering an alternative to using the upcoming budget fight as an attempt to defund ObamaCare. In its place, the GOP would vote to delay all of ObamaCare for a year and use the money saved to restore budget cuts caused by the sequester, reports the Washington Examiner.

To entice Democrats, the proposal would also raise the government’s debt ceiling, which is estimated to be reached sometime in late October.

On the plus side, the one-year delay puts President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats on the defensive. After delaying the employer mandate and income eligibility requirements, it would be difficult to justify opposing the whole scale delay of a law that is turning into a “train wreck” to implement.

Shifting the money saved on ObamaCare implementation also lets Republicans take credit for restoring budget cuts, but here the plan starts to look less favorable. Conservatives want to restore funding to the military, but liberals are likely to demand restoration across the board – including budget items that Republicans would otherwise like to see shrink or eliminated.

Besides, if at the end of the year the sequester gets “paid for,” what was the point of going through all the downsizing? Angling for praise for restoring spending in a budget that doesn’t balance seems like an odd goal for fiscal conservatives.

Finally, there’s the debt ceiling issue. Between the White House, Senate Democrats and House Republican leadership there appears to be agreement that the debt ceiling should be raised. While that’s certainly the politically correct thing to do, it too seems contrary to the fiscal instincts of conservatives.

And yet, this trial balloon proposal might be attractive to House conservatives, also known as the best hope for imposing any kind of spending discipline in Washington. If this is the best they think they can do, then it means momentum inside Congress for defunding ObamaCare is dead.

If that’s true, let’s hope they can get a full and complete delay. Otherwise, capitulating on those terms will lead to more spending, more debt and more regulations. Not exactly a win for conservativsm.

September 9th, 2013 at 6:35 pm
Obama’s Syria ‘Message’ a Bay of Pigs Redux?

How bad has President Barack Obama mishandled his possible Syria bombing campaign?

“…President Obama finds himself in the biggest and ugliest public mess of his career, with a total policy meltdown playing out on the front pages and cable TV studios of the world,” writes Walter Russell Mead.

“It is like a slow motion Bay of Pigs, unrolling at an agonizing, prestige wrecking pace from day to day and week to week. It is almost impossible to defend whatever policy he actually has in mind at this point, yet the consequences of a congressional vote that opposes him are grave.”

Mead’s allusion to JFK’s Bay of Pigs fiasco is instructive. In 1961, the Kennedy administration armed and sent 1,400 Cuban exiles to topple Fidel Castro. However, they didn’t have air support or reinforcements from the U.S. military, and were quickly defeated.

Like Obama, Kennedy wanted to ‘send a message’ on the cheap, and got what he paid for.

The consequences to America were nearly disastrous. Not only did Castro and his Soviet Union patrons humiliate the United States in front of the world, they interpreted the defeat – and the resulting timidity – as a free pass to put ICBMs 90 miles from Florida. Without the Bay of Pigs fiasco as a precursor, it is almost impossible to imagine the following year’s Cuban Missile Crisis.

With this in mind, Members of Congress should be extremely skeptical about the Obama administration’s claim that those we attack won’t be “arrogant and foolish enough to retaliate.”

History indicates otherwise, and in ways we can’t easily predict.

September 6th, 2013 at 6:58 pm
Let’s Cool it with the “Chicken Hawk” Nonsense
Posted by Troy Senik Print

I sometimes find the best way to settle your views on an issue is not to read the opinion of those you admire, but rather those whom you despise. Even my favorite thinkers go astray sometimes. The hacks are slightly more consistent.

One of the kings of errancy is the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson, who spends today’s column trying to act as a moral backstop for President Obama in regard to Syria. It’s a throwaway remark early in the piece, however, that gets my hackles up:

At Wednesday’s hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I thought for a moment that [Secretary of State John] Kerry was going to blow. Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., launched into a self-righteous soliloquy about Benghazi, the IRS, the National Security Agency and what he portrayed as Kerry’s longtime aversion to using military force.

Kerry, you may recall, is a highly decorated Vietnam combat veteran. Duncan is an armchair warrior.

A few quick thoughts:

    – I’ll grant you that Duncan comes off as a blowhard in his questioning of Kerry. Hearings on the possibility of war are about as serious a task as a member of Congress faces and his insistence on turning it into a glorified campaign ad are both misplaced and unimpressive. He comes off like a guy trying to sell you insurance at a funeral. That being said, non sequitur droning constitutes about 90 percent of all congressional questioning. You know who used to be the king of that? John Kerry. So forgive me if I can’t muster sympathy when he’s on the receiving end of the same kind of firehose-intensity stream of inanity he spent over two and a half decades dispensing.

    – I’ve never understood why, in a nation that from its inception has insisted upon civilian control over the military, we try to settle policy arguments by determining who’s the closest approximation of Leonidas. You know who else was an “armchair warrior”? Franklin Roosevelt, who prosecuted World War II and never served in the military. Abraham Lincoln spent three months in the Illinois State Militia.

    And Mr. Robinson should be careful about tying credibility on foreign affairs to time in uniform. Barack Obama didn’t serve. Neither did Joe Biden. And neither did Eugene Robinson, who spends the rest of this column telling us how we should think about Syria.

    Liberals spent the last decade mocking conservative “chicken hawks” who had never served in the military but advocated for American intervention overseas. It was a bogus argument then and it’d be bogus (if not satisfying) to turn it back on them now. If we’re going to debate ideas, let’s do it on the merits, not according to the resumés of the people advancing them.

    September 6th, 2013 at 2:31 am
    Syrian Resolution Looks Doomed to Failure
    Posted by Troy Senik Print

    Earlier today, Rick Klein, Political Director for ABC News, tweeted out that 217 members of the House of Representatives have gone on record “as likely to oppose authorizing military force against Syria,” giving those opposed to the resolution a majority in the lower chamber (if we have any pedants in the audience shouting about the fact that it takes 218 to reach a majority, note that Alabama and Massachusetts both currently have one vacant seat).

    Now, “likely to oppose” isn’t the same thing as definitely voting no, but anyone who’s staking out territory this early in the process is disproportionately likely to to stick to his guns. And it’s clear that the momentum on this is all going in one direction — and it’s not the president’s.

    That’s remarkable, but not particularly surprising. Sometimes you can get a member to vote against his political interest for the sake of ideology. Sometimes you can get him to vote against his ideology for the sake of his political interest. But when both are imperiled simultaneously, the whipping gets much harder. That’s precisely the case with a potential military offensive that polls terribly and hits intellectual pressure points for liberals and conservatives alike.

    One dispiriting aspect of this debate is the chorus of conservative voices such as Jennifer Rubin, Hugh Hewitt, and Bret Stephens who’ve conflated opposition to feckless, limited airstrikes in Syria with “isolationism.” It may be fair to say that nearly all isolationists are opposed to taking action in Syria. It does not follow, however, that all who are opposed to taking action in Syria are isolationists. The scope of opposition is far too large to be constituted entirely (or even primarily) of those opposed to American action overseas in all but the most limited circumstances.

    I suspect that there are a fair number of conservatives like me — as far removed from the reflexive international reticence of Rand Paul as we are from John McCain’s “anytime, anywhere, for any reason” school of intervention — who just don’t see the strategic payoff here, especially given the manner in which the Obama Administration would be likely to conduct the fight.

    America has played too fast and loose with defining our national security interests in recent years. Doing so again — especially when it’s clear that the Obama Administration has no plan that will actually result in a change of circumstances on the ground in Syria — is an exercise in futility. The measure deserves defeat.

    September 4th, 2013 at 6:16 pm
    Senate Lying to Self with ‘Tailored’ Syria Resolution

    A highly regarded separation of powers expert says the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s oddly worded resolution to authorize military force in Syria might be more expansive than its drafters intend, according to the Washington Times.

    At issue is the resolution’s use of the words “limited and tailored” in the phrase giving President Barack Obama power “to use the armed forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in a limited and tailored manner against legitimate military targets in Syria…”

    Louis Fisher, a former long-time expert at the Congressional Research Service and author of a leading treatise on presidential war powers, says the word choice is unprecedented and could be so vague that it creates space for an escalation.

    “What could possibly be the meaning of ‘limited and tailored’? I doubt if I’ve ever seen the word ‘tailored’ in a bill,” Fisher told the paper. “Even if the ‘intent’ of Congress is a limited war, war has its own momentum.”

    In other words, use of the word ‘tailored’ in the resolution can mean anything to the clever lawyers who will twist it however they please, so in reality that word, and any limiting effect it is designed to have, is meaningless.

    It is impossible for me to imagine that the people drafting this resolution don’t know this. Therefore, it seems almost certain that the underlying intent here is to sound like they are limiting the President’s options while in fact not doing so at all.

    If we’re going to bomb Syria then we are going to war with Syria. If that’s in America’s national security interest, Congress should declare it in unambiguous language.

    To my mind it’s better to do nothing than to say something that means nothing.

    Otherwise, Congress is just lying to itself so that it can act outraged when the President uses the resolution to wage a war the Senate and House impliedly authorized.

    September 4th, 2013 at 1:09 pm
    Obama’s Syria Policy Incoherent at Home and Abroad

    McClatchy news ran a piece yesterday describing how President Barack Obama’s seeming indecision on striking Syria is being interpreted by Middle Easterners.

    “Obama’s abrupt decision on Saturday to delay the strikes that seemed just hours away is being seen in the region as the latest confirmation of an incoherent U.S. approach of mixed messages and unfulfilled threats that have driven America’s standing to a new low,” the paper said, citing numerous interviews with Syrian rebels and others.

    The confusion wasn’t helped during Secretary of State John Kerry’s remarks to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. There, the Vietnam veteran and anti-war hero did an about-face. Without a hint of irony he argued that in asking for congressional approval to fire missiles at Syria “President Obama is not asking America to go to war.”

    Instead, the President was “asking only for the power to make clear, to make certain, that the United States means what we say,” when the Commander-in-Chief threatens military force.

    But the fact remains that firing missiles into another country is an act of war, a fact that didn’t escape Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) before heading into the hearing.

    “This is the most serious policy decision any senator will make,” reports the Daily Caller. “Authorizing the use of military force is, let’s face it, is a declaration of war against another country, no matter how limited it is, that’s what it is.”

    Kudos to Senator Corker for saying the truth out loud. He understands the real world consequences of this decision, as do the Syrian rebels, Syrian President Bashar Assad and every other sentient being paying attention.

    So far, the Obama administration is doing itself no favors by pushing forward an ad hoc, incoherent rationale for bombing a government whose actions – while immoral and deplorable – don’t necessarily threaten America’s national security interests.

    August 30th, 2013 at 6:00 pm
    The Hollywood Slander of Ronald Reagan
    Posted by Troy Senik Print

    Ronald Reagan may have been the only American president to emerge from Tinseltown (excepting the fact that Barack Obama is clearly a character created by Aaron Sorkin), but that hasn’t inspired any loyalty. The new movie, The Butler, is rife with mischaracterizations of racial progress in America (as ably pointed out by Richard Epstein for the Hoover Institution) — and it’s especially unkind to the Gipper. As Steve Hayward, Paul Kengor, Craig Shirley, and Kiron Skinner — Reagan biographers all — note in today’s Washington Post, Reagan demonstrated a lifetime’s worth of tolerance and enlightenment on racial issues.

    One of the film’s larger errors is an implicit assertion that Reagan opposed economic sanctions against the apartheid regime in South Africa out of simple indifference to black suffering. But as his chroniclers note, the reality is much more complicated:

    The unfairness of this scene can be demonstrated by any number of historical facts. In June 1981, still recovering from an assassination attempt, Reagan sent his closest foreign policy aide, William Clark, on his first official trip; it was to South Africa to express America’s disapproval. An unsmiling Clark told Prime Minister Pieter W. Botha to his face that the new president and administration “abhorred apartheid.” Clark walked out on Botha.

    While accurate in depicting Reagan’s opposition to sanctions against South Africa, “The Butler” does not explain why he opposed them. Reagan saw sanctions as harmful to the poorest South Africans: millions of blacks living in dire poverty. He also feared that the apartheid regime could be replaced by a Marxist/totalitarian one allied with the Soviet Union and Cuba and that communism would spread throughout the continent. South Africa’s blacks were denied rights under apartheid, but communism would mean no freedom of speech, press, assembly, religion, conscience, emigration, travel or even property for anyone. Moreover, in communist nations such as Cambodia and Ethi­o­pia, people had been slaughtered and starved on mass scales. Nearly a dozen nations had become part of the Soviet orbit in the immediate years before Reagan became president. He didn’t want South Africa to undergo the same catastrophe.

    Reagan adopted a policy of “constructive engagement,” seeking to keep South Africa in the anti-Soviet faction while encouraging the country toward black-majority rule — no easy feat. In one of his finest speeches, he told the United Nations on Sept. 24, 1984, that it was “a moral imperative that South Africa’s racial policies evolve peacefully but decisively toward . . . justice, liberty and human dignity.” Among his administration’s successes was the Angola-Namibia agreement, which led to the withdrawal of the white South African regime from Namibia and paved the way for that nation’s independence.

    Moral preening is always easiest when one bears no responsibility for the consequences. Statesmen weigh trade-offs. Ronald Reagan knew that. Thanks to the current situation in Syria, Barack Obama is about to get a master’s class on the topic.

    August 28th, 2013 at 4:54 pm
    The ObamaCare Delay that Could be Fatal

    No, I don’t mean news of yet another delay in the controversial health law’s implementation – this time a Reuters report that the Health and Human Services department is pushing back by two weeks its timetable for finalizing deals with health insurance companies.

    I mean today’s announcement that former President Bill Clinton is being tasked with explaining what’s so great about ObamaCare to the country. Clinton’s speech next week is being billed as the first of several high-profile speeches designed to sell the law to the 54 percent of Americans who don’t like it.

    To be sure, if anybody in politics can make this train wreck look good, it’s Bill Clinton. But why would President Obama wait till now, after three-and-a-half years of public relations futility, to bring in his party’s best spokesman?

    Simple: With just over a month to go before ObamaCare’s enrollment begins the president and his administration are in full-blown panic mode. Nothing is on schedule. Their multi-million dollar ad campaign may not attract enough people to enroll. And, oh yeah, we’re about to intervene in Syria’s civil war.

    If Clinton gets any traction with his speeches it will be of limited value because so much of the public’s mind has been made up in the years since the law was passed. Prior to that, who knows? As a matter of Politics 101, failing to use such a successful political spokesman strikes me as a huge wasted opportunity. Of all the delays with ObamaCare, putting off Clinton’s rhetorical talents may be the most fatal to the law because – perhaps – they could have done so much to keep it alive.