Free Markets, Free People

Obama Administration

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Lawlessness only begets more lawlessness

I imagine there are those out there who will write this off as the usual political squabble, but there’s a larger point here, and if you look closely you’ll see it:

Top White House political adviser David Simas refused again Friday to honor a congressional subpoena, prompting Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to vote to rebuke the administration.

The Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted 19-14 to reject the White House’s claim that Simas has absolute immunity from a subpoena from Congress.

Republicans said they were standing up for the principle that no one is above the law, and Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa quoted a long list of Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, who have backed Congress’ right to subpoena top administration officials.

Democrats, led by ranking member Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, said they strongly disagree with the White House’s claim of absolute immunity but also strongly disagree with Issa’s push to press the issue, warning it could hurt the institution if they take a case to court.

The White House informed Issa at 7:30 a.m. Friday that Simas would not appear, Issa said. The absence was “not excused,” the California Republican added.

White House Counsel W. Neil Eggleston asked Issa to withdraw the subpoena to discuss his late Thursday offer for Simas to give a deposition instead of subpoenaed testimony.

Issa refused to do so.

“We have an absolute right and obligation” to investigate the new White House Office of Political Strategy and Outreach, he said.

It is about this presidency’s seeming desire to be unlawful.  Screw Congress, screw the law, screw oversight, we (the Executive branch) get to decide what is or isn’t lawful.  And we’ve decided that we have full immunity.

Nice.  And this isn’t even some big agency or the like.  It’s a 4 person office.  It’s about the Constitution and the law:

“This was intended to be a short, and I hope it will be, oversight of a relatively small but in the past controversial office, consistent with our requirement to do oversight even without a predicate of wrongdoing,” he said.

Issa said oversight of the previously troubled political office will help American people be more comfortable and ensure taxpayer dollars are being used properly.

“This is not alleging a scandal at any level,” Issa said of the subpoena. But oversight is still legitimate, he said. ”We are accusing neither the president nor anyone in this four-person office of any wrongdoing.”

Nope … this is just their normal duties.  Oversight.  What a concept.  Make sure that executive agency entities are following the law, spending (or not spending) taxpayer’s money as prescribed by law, etc.

And, as I mentioned yesterday, perception is going to be what?  That they’ve got something to hide.  The optics on this sort of thing are horrible – but they either don’t seem to understand or they don’t care.

There’s no good reason at work here for this president, there’s just arrogance and defiance.  Even the Democrats won’t buy into the total immunity nonsense.

So we sit and watch as this administration continues to thumb its nose at the lawful functions of government and obeying the law.

But why should they?  They haven’t in the past and nothing has happened.  Why should they worry now?

~McQ


The (potential) unravelling of ObamaCare

In the DC Circuit this week:

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit delivered a huge blow to Obamacare this morning, ruling that the insurance subsidies granted through the federally run health exchange, which covered 36 states for the first open enrollment period, are not allowed by the law.

The highly anticipated opinion in the case of Jacqueline Halbig v. Sylvia Mathews Burwell reversed a lower court ruling finding that federally run exchanges did have the authority to disburse subsidies.

Today’s ruling vacates the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulation allowing the federal exchanges to give subsidies. The large majority of individuals, about 86 percent, in the federal exchange system received subsidies, and in those cases the subsidies covered about 76 percent of the premium on average.

The essence of the court’s ruling is that, according to the law, those subsidies are illegal. They were always illegal, and the administration never had the authority to offer them. (According to an administration official, however, the subsidies will continue to flow throughout the appeals process.)

Don’t get to excited about this yet.  It was a 3 judge panel. And it will likely go to the Supreme Court. Finally, in a different Circuit (4th) a ruling says the subsidies are legal:

A different circuit court ruled today that subsidies offered through federally run exchanges are authorized on the law. This creates a circuit court split, which increases, but does not guarantee, the chances of an eventual hearing by the Supreme Court. It is also possible, and arguably even more likely, that the circuit split will be dealt with via en banc review.

Bottom line: a heavy shot across the bow of the sinking ship ObamaCare.  If the DC Circuit finding survives the review and an appeal to the Supreme Court, then foundering ship will take the next shot below the water line.  As for the law, it’s not going to get changed anytime soon with a Republican House.

As for the law, the DC Court said it was pretty clear to them:

“We conclude that appellants have the better of the argument: a federal Exchange is not an ‘Exchange established by the State,’ and [the relevant section of the law] does not authorize the IRS to provide tax credits for insurance purchased on federal Exchanges,” the decision says.

The law “plainly makes subsidies available only on Exchanges established by states,” the ruling says. “And in the absence of any contrary indications, that text is conclusive evidence of Congress’s intent. To hold otherwise would be to say that enacted legislation, on its own, does not command our respect—an utterly untenable proposition.”

Plain law, literally interpreted and applied.  Certainly not what we’re used too.  So let’s see how convoluted this gets moving up the line.  My guess is it will be unrecognizable after the lawyers begin to redefine terms and words and make their arguments.  By the end of it, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to learn that “federal exchanges” now means whatever the IRS wants it to mean.  But clearly, the way to kill this monstrosity is to starve it.  And the way you starve it is to defund it … even if you have to do it bit by bit.

~McQ


“Economic patriotism” equals “stay here and pay punitive taxes to cover our ruinous spending habit”

“Economic patriotism” is the new meme that Democrats are throwing around to demonize companies that try to avoid taxes here in the US, i.e. you’re not a patriotic company if you attempt to avoid taxes the Dems think you should be paying.  Kevin Williamson covers it:

Jack Lew, late of Citigroup and currently of the Obama administration, has issued a call for “economic patriotism.” This phrase, which is without meaningful intellectual content, is popular in Democratic circles these days. Ted Strickland, the clownish xenophobe and nearly lifelong suckler upon all available taxpayer teats who once served as governor of Ohio, famously denounced Mitt Romney as a man lacking “economic patriotism” during the 2012 Democratic convention. President Barack Obama has used the phrase. It’s not that I do not appreciate lectures on “economic patriotism” from feckless former executives of dodgy Wall Street enterprises, guys who get rich monetizing their political celebrity, and second-rate ward-heelers from third-rate states; it’s just that nobody ever has been able to explain to me what the term is intended to mean.

The proximate cause of Mr. Lew’s distress is the fact that many U.S. firms either are up and leaving the country entirely or are acquiring foreign competitors in order to reorganize themselves as companies legally domiciled in friendly tax jurisdictions.

Now we’re not talking about 3rd world countries here … just countries that are much friendlier to business and have a lower tax rate.  For instance:

U.S. pharmaceutical firms in particular have been in a rush to acquire partners in order to escape punitive U.S. corporate taxes for the relatively hospitable climates of Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. Walgreen’s, a venerable firm that, like the lamentable political career of Barack Obama, has its origins in Chicago, is considering abandoning its hometown of 113 years for Switzerland. Eaton, a Cleveland-based manufacturer of electronic components, moved to Ireland. The list goes on.

Note that in spite of the would-be class warriors’ “race to the bottom” rhetoric, these firms are not moving to relatively low-wage countries such as China or India. Switzerland is not a Third World hellhole — especially if your immediate point of comparison is murderlicious Chicago, which endures more homicides in a typical July than gun-loving Switzerland sees in a typical year. The Netherlands is not Haiti, and Ireland is not Bangladesh.

Got an ironic chuckle out of his point about Chicago. Maybe some might consider they’re moving out of a 3rd world country if they’re Chicago (or Detroit) based.

Anyway, all of these places have one thing in common – lower taxes, less regulation and a friendlier business climate than exists in the US.  What they face here is the reason they’re becoming “unpatriotic”.  It is more than just taxes:

Mr. Lew is correct in his assertion that relative tax rates are a main driver in the desire of firms to relocate, though it is not the only driver — arbitrary and unpredictable regulation, a lousy tort environment, and unstable public finances surely play a role as well. The United States has the highest statutory corporate-income-tax rate in the developed world, and though effective rates are typically lower than the nominal rate, that is more of a bug than a feature: Our corporate-income-tax regime is riddled with handouts and political favoritism. Crony capitalism is not an inspiring condition for firms looking to make long-term investments.

The point of Democrats and their use of “economic patriotism”, of course, is to demonize and attempt to shame companies that seek relief from the business crippling effects of this government.  If the company doesn’t stay to be bled dry by the Dems to finance their utopian and big government schemes, well, they’re just “unpatriotic”.

Williamson summarizes:

“Economic patriotism” and its kissing cousin, economic nationalism, are ideas with a fairly stinky history, having been a mainstay of fascist rhetoric during the heyday of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s favorite “admirable Italian gentleman.” My colleague Jonah Goldberg has labored mightily in the task of illustrating the similarities between old-school fascist thinking and modern progressive thinking on matters political and social, but it is on economic questions that contemporary Democrats and vintage fascists are remarkably alike. In fact, their approaches are for all intents and purposes identical: As most economic historians agree, neither the Italian fascists nor the German national-socialists nor any similar movement of great significance had anything that could be described as a coherent economic philosophy. The Italian fascists put forward a number of different and incompatible economic theories during their reign, and the Third Reich, under the influence of Adolf Hitler’s heroic conception of history, mostly subordinated economic questions as such to purportedly grander concerns involving destiny and other abstractions.

Which is to say, what the economic nationalism of Benito Mussolini most has in common with the prattling and blockheaded talk of “economic patriotism” coming out of the mealy mouths of 21st-century Democrats is the habit of subordinating everything to immediate political concerns. In this context, “patriotism” doesn’t mean doing what’s best for your country — it means doing what is best for the Obama administration and its congressional allies.“Economic patriotism” and its kissing cousin, economic nationalism, are ideas with a fairly stinky history, having been a mainstay of fascist rhetoric during the heyday of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s favorite “admirable Italian gentleman.” My colleague Jonah Goldberg has labored mightily in the task of illustrating the similarities between old-school fascist thinking and modern progressive thinking on matters political and social, but it is on economic questions that contemporary Democrats and vintage fascists are remarkably alike. In fact, their approaches are for all intents and purposes identical: As most economic historians agree, neither the Italian fascists nor the German national-socialists nor any similar movement of great significance had anything that could be described as a coherent economic philosophy. The Italian fascists put forward a number of different and incompatible economic theories during their reign, and the Third Reich, under the influence of Adolf Hitler’s heroic conception of history, mostly subordinated economic questions as such to purportedly grander concerns involving destiny and other abstractions.

Which is to say, what the economic nationalism of Benito Mussolini most has in common with the prattling and blockheaded talk of “economic patriotism” coming out of the mealy mouths of 21st-century Democrats is the habit of subordinating everything to immediate political concerns. In this context, “patriotism” doesn’t mean doing what’s best for your country — it means doing what is best for the Obama administration and its congressional allies.

Another adventure in short-term political gain trumping a coherent economic policy that is pro-growth, pro-jobs, etc.  Nothing new in that, but I think the summary helps focus it’s purpose. And it has nothing to do with “patriotism” or “economics”.

~McQ


DOJ to investigate “racist” Nebraska parade float

While the DOJ won’t even look into voter intimidation by the New Black Panthers in Philadelphia in 2008, it certainly will move itself to check out what Nebraska Democrats claim is the “worst shows of racism and disrespect for the office of the presidency that Nebraska has ever seen.”

The U.S. Department of Justice has sent a member of its Community Relations Service team to investigate a Nebraska parade float that criticized President Obama.

Here’s a description of the float:

A Fourth of July parade float featured at the annual Independence Day parade in Norfolk sparked criticism when it depicted a zombie-like figure resembling Mr. Obama standing outside an outhouse, which was labeled the “Obama Presidential Library.”

It was a “zombie-like figure” of Obama?  Now, as far as I know, zombies aren’t race specific. Anyone of any race can be a “zombie”, no?  However, they are defined as an “animated corpse”. That a pretty fair description of the man who now holds the office of the Presidency.  And my statement, I guess, is somehow a horrible show of disrespect for the office of the presidency.

Uh, no. No it’s not.

It is certainly a bit of disrespect for the man holding the office.  And I have to wonder where Nebraska Democrats were when George W Bush was in office, if this is the “worst” they’ve ever seen.  Frankly, I think it is exceedingly mild.

And, the outhouse?  Precisely where I’d say this presidency belongs.  The man in the White House is awful.  He’s the worst president I’ve seen during my lifetime and I thought Jimmy Carter was hard to beat.

So an animated corpse outside an outhouse is a pretty good bit of political satire if you ask me.

But apparently our DOJ now tries intimidate those exercising their right to free speech (you know, the 1st Amendment?  The one that prohibits government from trying to stifle it?).  Not that the DOJ or this administration is in anyway worried about allowing the Constitution or Bill of Rights to get in their way of a political vendetta.

~McQ


Obama’s “blame game” attempt on immigration crisis is weak broth

As usual our “Blamer-in-Chief” is trying to lay off the blame for the crisis at the border on others.  Adriana Cohen of the Boston Herald points out why that dog won’t hunt:

The massive crisis of tens of thousands of illegal children and hundreds of thousands of illegal adults flooding over our borders is, no surprise, not President Obama’s fault. It may have been entirely preventable, and certainly was highly predictable. But as usual, six years after he took office, the blame belongs elsewhere.

It’s the Republicans, blocking immigration reform, the Obama administration wants you to believe. They’re even trying to hang it on Obama’s favorite blame target, George W. Bush, saying deportations are being slowed by a bipartisan 2008 law aimed at human trafficking — a claim none other than Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein says doesn’t hold water, while other critics note it’s a little thin, blaming a crisis now on a law that’s been around for six years.

As Mitt Romney noted in 2012, “For two years, this president had huge majorities in the House and Senate — he was free to pursue any policy he pleased. But he did nothing to advance a permanent fix for our broken immigration system.

The crisis is in fact wholly owned by the Democrats.

Democrats — here and elsewhere — have been pushing for years to let people without Social Security numbers have driver’s licenses and welfare benefits. They’ve pushed for in-state university tuition for people who don’t belong here. Obama himself acted to dramatically reduce deportations — specifically of children — and has broadly signaled he wants to legalize the estimated 12 million illegals.

Who can blame the hundreds of thousands flooding across our borders for thinking they are welcome? The Democrats told them so. Never mind that 92 million Americans are unemployed or no longer looking for jobs.

And now he’s out fundraising while refusing yet again to take a leadership role in solving the crisis.  While in Texas, one of the states effected by this crisis, he refused the governor’s invitation to visit the border, preferring again, to talk about it instead (another of his endless and useless roundtables that solve zip).

Can the President really come to Texas to fundraise and avoid going to the border? Now two Southwest Democrat congressmen have spoken out, saying it’s an important issue and he should schedule a visit. Henry Cuellar said exactly that while making the comment that this issue could be Obama’s Katrina Moment, and then Raul Grijalva, representing Arizona’s 3rd district, chimed in,urging the President to go.

The answer to the question is “yes”.  And not only that he can then go to Colorado, swill beer, play pool and pretend all is well.  Beer and pool – the modern version of Nero’s fiddle.

I see the left hyperventilating over all this impeachment talk, but if ever a guy was working hard to give good cause to be removed, it is this clown.

~McQ


How centralized bureaucracies work

In another indicator of how low a priority veterans have with this administration, a whistleblower in Atlanta has revealed that VA employees were switched from processing VA applications to those of the Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare.

Scott Davis told the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

“We don’t discuss veterans. We do not work for veterans. That is something that I learned after working there. Our customer is the VA central office, the White House and the Congress. The veterans are not our priority. So whatever the initiatives are or the big ticket items, that is what we focus on.”

He later appeared on the Neil Cavuto show and claimed that 17,000 applications for VA Healthcare were destroyed.  He also said  they’re “also looking into a backlog of over 600,000 pending applications for VA Healthcare.” Davis said the applications were purged as a way to deal with pressure from Washington D.C.

Davis: What I think happened, Neil, is that there was pressure by people in Washington for us to hit our numbers. You’ve heard a lot about the 14-day turn around time for the hospitals. But what most people don’t know is that there’s a five-day turn around time for health applications. And if we don’t hit that five-day turn around time, it affects performance goals for people in senior leadership positions.

Cavuto: So if you don’t have that, and you’re not paying that out, it looks like you’re meeting your numbers and then some, right?

Davis: Absolutely. But what also happens, Neil, is that we’re currently neglecting not only the right thing to do, which is to process applications, not delete them. We have a huge system integrity issue at VA. For example, the VA right now can’t even tell the investigators what happened to those applications, because they can’t verify where they are, what happened to them, if they were deleted, why were they deleted, and why there was no paperwork showing the justifications for those deletions.

Cavuto: We’ve asked for a statement out of the VA on this and we have yet to get one, Scott. I’m trying then to give them the benefit of the doubt here. It seems like a crazy situation. Did you or any of your co-workers ever get so overwhelmed — not you specifically — but they just say the heck with it, more files, more applications, just dump them in the trash, we’re overwhelmed. Do you think that has gone on?

Davis: I know that there was rumors that suspect those activities before I started work thing in 2011. What I can tell you is that there’s so much pressure on the employees to get stuff done so management can meet goals, it’s easy to make mistakes, it’s easy to have mishaps. What happens is, instead of the VA focusing on doing what’s right for our nation’s veterans — meaning taking time, processing each application diligently and appropriately — pressure is placed on front line employees to overwork themselves, rush through the application process, to hit goals for members of management.

Cavuto: When you say to hit goals, is the goal a dollar goal or is it get the applications complete? Sometimes keep on top of this so there are no delays, or is it keep on top of it and get rid of something that could hurt our numbers?

Davis: Well, for what I’ve witnessed, it’s based on a performance goal.

Cavuto: How is that performance measured?

Davis: That performance is measured based on our ability to turn around an application from beginning to end within a five-day turn around. There’s an acceptable percentage that we have to have, which is in excess of 80% for all applications that comes into that office. What you find is that there’s extensive pressure on the staff to process applications, to focus our attention to applications based on specific campaigns. For example, I shared with your producer that we actually put incoming applications aside so we could focus on the ACA related applications that came in over last summer. That’s wrong. We should treat each veteran equally and focus on applications, as they come in, not because of special campaigns coming out of D.C.

His statement is precisely how veteran’s applications should be treated.  But they weren’t because of partisan politics and the heavy hand of the administration.   Naturally the VA  bureaucracy cooperated.  When your “customer” is Washington DC and not the veteran then that’s unsurprising.

This is outrageous, but my guess is, as they dig deeper into the VA, this is only the tip of the iceberg.

This is the face of government run health care.  It is fair warning.  Just as Soviet bureaucracies fudged whatever numbers necessary to “meet” the government’s “5 year plans”, the government bureaucracies here are not above doing the same.  The bonus system along with identification of Washington as their “customer” was all the incentive the bureaucrats needed to let veterans down … again.

~McQ


Is it finally Obama’s turn “under the bus?”

As the crisis at our southern border continues to stagger on, a recent IBD/TIPP poll found that a majority of Americans hold President Obama and his administration responsible for the problem:

The public largely blames President Obama for the flood of children who have poured over the border in recent weeks, creating a growing humanitarian crisis, according to the latest IBD/TIPP Poll released Monday.

[...]

The poll found that 59% of those closely following the immigration crisis agree that “current administration policies and lack of focus on securing the border” are behind the human tide of illegal crossings. Six in 10 say that the children should be ordered to leave the country. (The survey found that 73% of Americans are following this story closely.)

The responsibility for the border crisis is one Obama can’t duck or deny – it is a crisis of his own making.  His refusal to enforce the laws of the land and his permissive policies and rhetoric all but invited this to happen.  Now that it has, he’s “frustrated” with Congress – his personal candidate for being tossed under the blame bus, and is asking for 2 billion in emergency funds to address the crisis he created.  As you can see, most Americans aren’t buying the White House spin.

He doesn’t get a pass on Iraq either.  Per the poll, 56% believe his decision to withdraw troops in 2011 had a direct bearing on the crisis there today.

What’s more, 55% say that Obama wasn’t being honest when he claimed that Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was entirely responsible for the decision to bring the troops home.

Meanwhile, 55% say that the administration’s failure to contain the Syria conflict contributed to the rise of the militant forces in Iraq. Just 27% give Obama high marks for his handling of the Iraq situation.

Finally, the IRS scandal is considered anything but a “phony scandal” by the public:

The IBD/TIPP poll found that 65% believe that the lost IRS emails are an attempt by the administration to “hide evidence that the IRS deliberately targeted conservative groups” prior to the 2012 presidential election.

The lost emails are the latest twist in a more than year-long saga that erupted when an inspector general report detailed how the IRS held up Tea Party groups’ applications for tax-exempt status before the 2012 elections.

[...]

Obama dismissed the IRS scandal earlier this year, saying there was not “even a smidgen of corruption.” Congressional Democrats argue that the IRS wasn’t singling out right-wing groups.

Those defenses aren’t flying with most Americans who’ve been tracking this story. Among independents, 66% think the lost emails were an attempt to cover up wrongdoing. Even 36% of Democrats say it was a cover-up.

These are three very hot topics that Americans are following  closely and a majority doesn’t believe the administration’s side of the story.  As Mr. Obama’s favorite preacher would say, it appears as if the Obama chickens “are coming home to roost”.

~McQ


To call Obama’s foreign policy “Carteresque” is an insult to Jimmy Carter

For a few decades, Jimmy Carter has been thought of as the modern president with the very worst foreign policy.  He’s also been considered the bottom of the heap of modern presidents as well.  But James Kircheck makes the point that the one positive accomplishment in all of this is the Obama administration’s ability to elevate Jimmy Carter from worst to next to worst when it comes to both the presidency and foreign policy.  An objective look at the foreign policies of both presidents shows some remarkable similarities, but there are also striking differences.  The biggest is that upon examination, Carter’s foreign policy, while poor, wasn’t at all as inept and incompetent as the current president’s.  When the Iranian hostage crisis and the USSR’s invasion of Afghanistan took place, Carter at least had a plan and executed it:

By January, Carter announced a series of proposals directed at weakening America’s adversaries. First was a 5% increase in defense spending, a move that angered many of his Democratic allies in Congress who had taken to slashing the defense budget in the wake of the Vietnam War.

In his State of the Union address, Carter announced what would later come to be known as the Carter Doctrine: that the United States would use military force to protect its vital interests in the Persian Gulf.

Next came an embargo on grain and agricultural technology to the Soviet Union. Carter also declared that the United States would boycott the 1980 Moscow summer Olympics unless the Soviets withdrew their troops from Afghanistan. When they did not, he began covert funding of Afghan rebel fighters.

Conservatives like to credit Ronald Reagan with ending the Cold War. To the extent that the collapse of the Soviet Union was brought about by American policies and not the internal contradictions and weaknesses of the communist system itself (a debate that engages historians to this day), the last year of the Carter administration laid the groundwork.

Now you may disagree with what he did and how he did it, but at least he took action.  On the other hand:

The correlations between the world situation in the twilight of the Carter administration and in the second Obama term are hard to ignore. Once again, Russia has invaded a neighbor. Only this time, that neighbor is on the European continent, and Moscow went so far as to annex — not merely attack — its territory. And once again the Middle East is in flames, with the prospect of another Islamist movement taking control over a state, this time in Iraq.

But rather than respond to the collapsing world order by supporting our allies and undermining our adversaries, the Obama administration dithers. It is an indication of just how worrisome the situation is that many in Washington are pining for the resolve and fortitude of Jimmy Carter.

For months, the beleaguered Ukrainians have requested the most basic of military aid. The administration sends Meals Ready to Eat. Even hard-hitting, “sectoral” sanctions aimed at the Russian economy are viewed as too provocative.

Last year, Obama declared a “red line” on Syrian dictator Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons against his own people. Assad’s deployment of such weapons, the world was told, would constitute the sort of breach of international law and norms requiring an American response.

When Assad did use such weapons, Washington allowed itself to be coopted into a farcical deal — proposed by that most altruistic of world leaders, Russian President Vladimir Putin — that saw the purported removal of Assad’s chemical arsenal. The message from Washington to Assad: You can continue murdering your people en masse and destabilizing the entire Middle East, but just do so using conventional weapons.

When you analyze what this administration has done, or in may cases not done, you’re left scratching your head.  At least what Carter did had some short term and long term plan.  As pointed out, it laid the basis for future foreign policy (whether or not you agree with its direction).

But when you look at the Obama foreign policy (or lack thereof), it shows no direction, no leadership, no nothing.  Add to that a feckless John Kerry preceded by an equally feckless Hillary Clinton and the US suffers on all fronts in the world arena.  Where there was a discernible lack of respect that emerged due to Carter’s bungling at times, it was nowhere as deep or as widespread as the lack of respect in the world for Barack Obama. The two examples above typify both the emptiness and toothlessness of this administration’s attempts at foreign policy.  The lack of leadership is telling.  And again, Obama et. al. seem to think that symbolic acts serve the purpose and that talking equals action.  For instance:

Few take America, least of all Secretary of State John Kerry, at its word anymore. Earlier this week, Kerry demanded that Russia urge separatists in Ukraine to disarm “within the next hours, literally.”

Or what? This empty threat followed months of similar reprimands from Washington.

Precisely right – or what!?  Same in Syria, with Russia, Iran, well, you name it.  Empty threats and hand-waving.  Red lines drawn, erased and redrawn.

And, of course there’s the “blame Bush” side of their “foreign policy”:

Obama and his surrogates endlessly complain about the “disaster” they inherited from the Bush administration there, but the country was largely pacified by the time Obama entered the White House. Today, due largely to American absenteeism in the region, Islamist militants that make Al Qaeda look like a Rotary Club control a large chunk of the country.

There is no real reason we should be witnessing what we’re seeing in Iraq, had this administration not made the SOFA agreement conditions unacceptable.  Its handling of that was “failure by design”.  And now, well now the inevitable has happened hasn’t it?  Our answer?  “Buy jets from the Russians”, a move that will let them steal another step in the region.

Kirchick concludes:

Global instability is on the rise and faith in America’s stabilizing presence is on the decline, and all we have from Washington are empty, millennial-friendly buzz phrases. “Leading from behind” was how one, too-clever-by-half administration official termed Obama’s global strategy. Hitting “singles” and “doubles” is Obama’s own, jocular assessment of his foreign policy. And now, “Don’t do stupid s—” is the mantra being repeated throughout the halls of the White House and State Department.

“Don’t do anything at all” seems more apt a description of this administration’s approach.

I disagree slightly – the mantra being repeated through the halls of both the White House and State Department isn’t preceded by “don’t”. They’ve been doing “stupid s—” since day one and continue to do it on a daily basis. And there is absolutely nothing that seems to indicate that won’t be the case for the rest of Obama’s term. While the majority of the nation and the world are seeing the horrific downside produced by this inept and incompetent administration’s “foreign policy” and lack of leadership, there is at least one winner – Jimmy Carter.

~McQ


Big lies, small lies and lies in truth

This administration excels at ‘The Big Lie”.     Probably most hereabouts are familiar with that idea – tell any lie long enough and people just accept it as true.  Biggest lie I can think of – that Barack Obama was ever qualified to be President of the United States.   But there he is, sitting in the Oval Office, golfing at Andrews, picking out the spot for his legacy of lies “Liebrary”.   Red lines that the world drew, recoveries that aren’t, a recession that never went away,  actually a depression but who’s counting, unemployment that gets better by getting worse, pivots to the economy, which is where he pivots in some other way to destroy it through executive signings or approved executive branch regulations.

Birthed in lies, raised in lies, campaigned in lies, elected in lies and serving daily in lines.   Non-stop lying.  About the only thing he doesn’t lie about is that he likes to golf.

Benghazi, IRS, Fast and Furious, Affordable Health Care, closing Guantanamo, gay marriage, jihad is workplace violence.  It’s not always ‘himself’ lying, sometimes it’s his executive organizations, his spokesmen, his fawning press.   But it’s HIS administration, these therefore become his lies.

Lies to enemies, lies to allies, lies to ‘friends’, lies to detractors, lies to supporters.

Small lies, well, every day.  A small lie gets them through this press conference, this question or that question, this news cycle.   Sometimes we’ll have to visit it again, let’s see, oh, right, the GDP was down to a 1 percent growth, oh, and we had Obamacare’s increased spending on those who hadn’t been previously insured to thank for that.     Until yesterday when that lie had to be revised, and the lie about Obamacare’s increased spending turned into a lie that Obamacare actually caused a decrease in healthcare spending.   Yeah, small lies, we’ll see them again, contorted, changed, history ignored and altered.  Things they said before ‘forgotten’ by them, by the media, by us as they trot out the new lie.  They’ll become big lies if we keep worrying at them.   Quit asking.

The lies evolve, sometimes they just drop them and come up with a completely new lie – it was riot in Benghazi caused by a video that grew to an attack on the embassy, we never said it wasn’t terrorism, we caught the mastermind!  It was two rogue agents in Cincinnati that were trying to be more efficient, the dog ate our emails at the IRS, oh, and now the dog wandered over to the neighboring offices at the EPA and had a late night snack.

The original lies generally suck, they do however seem to pass muster for the low info voters, for people who might read the first paragraph of the headlines.  They do the job they’re supposed to do, provide a little cover till they can refine the lies.  But they only need to refine the lies if someone asks for clarification of course.  Any lying 5 year old understands you don’t elaborate on the lie if you aren’t pushed with further questions.

Like lies presented in truths so we can move past a lie that’s really important to the problem they’re willing to cop to for the moment.  The art of distracting us from a lie by handing us lies wrapped in truth.

Emails: IRS official sought audit of GOP senator

Oh, that’s bad….but it appears to be the truth.  That’s good, truth is good, good we found this out, not much there, ask the NY Times, this is just another Republican attempt to pump up a scandal I’m sure.

“Congressional investigators say they uncovered emails Wednesday showing that a former Internal Revenue Service official at the heart of the tea party investigation sought an audit involving a Republican senator in 2012.

The emails show former IRS official Lois Lerner mistakenly received an invitation to an event that was meant to go to Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.”

And there, in the first two paragraphs, presented as ‘truth’, is your bold faced lie (made bold and italic by yours truly).

She mistakenly received an invitation for Senator Grassley?

Why?  How?   because the sender had Lerner’s address and Grassley’s address on a dropdown and moused to the wrong one?

Because Grassley ‘sounds’ like Lerner and the autoaddress feature used Lerner instead of Grassley?

Uh, because someone interrupted the writer and he accidentally typed LOIS.LERNER@IRS.GOV instead of SEN.CHARLES.GRASSLEY@USSENATE.GOV and hit SEND?

Wow.  Look ma, the dog ate our emails, and the organizer for a Republican campaign event’s dog accidentally sent Lois Lerner at IRS an invitation intended for US Senator Charles Grassley that Lois might review to consider launching an investigation over.

Phew, good thing that guy Matthew Giuliano waved her off from doing anything with that ‘mistakenly received’ email.

“This kind of thing fuels the deep concerns many people have about political targeting by the IRS and by officials at the highest levels,” Grassley said. “It’s very troubling that a simple clerical mix-up could get a taxpayer immediately referred for an IRS exam without any due diligence from agency officials.”

This kind of thing?   ‘Simple clerical mixup’   Words fail me.   Et tu Chuck?   Seriously?

You mean how an email went mysteriously to LOIS.LERNER@RECTALEXAMSAREUS.GOV,  her email address,  for her review,  ‘by mistake’?

No, you mean the IRS rectal exam that might have been started as a result of her completely innocent receipt of an email intended for a US Senator.

But there wasn’t any exam, so yeah! NO HARM DONE!!!!  No harm, no foul.   Prove the harm!  None!  Matthew Giuliano at the IRS did his job, the IRS did it’s job!  Now go away you scandal mongering racist conservatives!

So don’t ask how she got that invitation, but rest assured, there was no mistake involved.  Remain confident if you ask, they’ll refine this blatant lie.

Lies hidden in truths, lies in your face.   Every week, every year, the most transparently lying to us administration in our history.

Obama’s administration lies again.   Hi-ho Silver.

UPDATE

In case you’re wondering why the lie might matter and why ‘mistaken receipt’  of the email for which Lois Lerner considered the possibility of investigation is important.  Because, you see, if Lois Lerner had Senator Grassley’s email invitation through some method other than ‘accidental receipt’, she, and the person who sent it to her, may have broken Federal laws.

Since the  Constitution didn’t foresee email, there is no guarantee of it’s privacy.   So in 1986 Congress passed the Electronic Communications Privacy act, which established provisions for privacy rights of people using electronic devices.  The way I read it, under the act it is a crime for someone to read or disclose  the contents of email communications (let alone decide to launch an IRS tax audit) if it’s not addressed to them.

“General Statement of the Law

The law regards each of these situations as distinct.

  1. Interception of e-mail during transmission is prohibited by federal wiretap statute, 18 U.S.C. § 2510-2521 and also some state wiretap statutes. The federal statutes were amended in 1986 by Title I of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) to include e-mail.
  2. Reading e-mail during storage on a computer system is prohibited by federal statute, 18 U.S.C. § 2701-2711, Title II of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), provided that the system is “providing an electronic communication service to the public.” This means, among other things, that your e-mail messages are confidential when stored on a computer owned by an ISP that offers to any member of the public the ability to send e-mail and you pay for the account yourself. But there is no protection in 18 U.S.C. § 2702 for e-mail stored on a computer system operated by a corporation primarily for its own business communications. So, if you send e-mail to a company (e.g., jdoe@ibm.com) and the e-mail is stored on that company’s computer, you have no privacy rights under this statute.
  3. The recipient of e-mail is generally free to share the information in the e-mail with anyone, subject to legal obligations that are mentioned later in this paper.

Reading e-mail that is stored on a computer is not an “interception” under 18 U.S.C. § 2510, et seq., because an interception must be contemporaneous with the transmission of the message between different locations. Steve Jackson Games v. U.S. Secret Service, 816 F.Supp. 432, 442 (W.D.Tex. 1993), aff’d, 36 F.3d 457, 460 (5thCir. 1994). This holding has been accepted in several subsequent cases, including Wesley College v. Pitts, 974 F.Supp. 375, 384-390 (D.Del. 1997); U.S. v. Moriarty, 962 F.Supp. 217, 221 (D.Mass. 1997); Bohach v. City of Reno, 932 F.Supp. 1232, 1235-36 (D.Nev. 1996).”

See below – it’s a fine line if some ‘unknown’ person made a copy and passed it on to Lerner.  The person who passes it on originally may have broken the law since passing on such an email seems like it could constitute ‘disclosure’.  Unless of course it pertains to evidence of a criminal activity….

“One court noted that there is a loophole in Title II of the ECPA, where an unknown person can make a copy of e-mail and give it away, then other people who do not provide an electronic communication service can lawfully make a further distribution of copies of that private e-mail. Wesley College v. Pitts, 974 F.Supp. 375, 389 (D.Del. 1997).

In the special case of e-mail that contains evidence of criminal activity, there is no protection for the confidentiality of the message when the recipient discloses the contents of a communication to law enforcement agents or to a criminal trial. U.S. v. White, 401 U.S. 745 (1971)(no violation of Fourth Amendment when defendant spoke to informant who had concealed microphone and transmitter); Hoffa v. U.S., 385 U.S. 293 (1966)(statements made by Hoffa to undercover informant not protected by Fourth Amendment). Furthermore, there is no protection under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution for production of documents at a criminal trial, U.S. v. Doe, 465 U.S. 605 (1984). In summary, the author of an e-mail message generally can not prevent disclosure of the message by the recipient.”

I’ll let the legal experts, some here assembled, discuss the possibilities.   The idea that she mistakenly received it however, smells of pure fabrication.

UPDATE (the second)

It appears that the actual invitation WAS through snail mail, making Grassley’s acceptance that some clerical error genuinely occurred valid.

AllahPundit on HOTAIR covers it.

Not a lie then if there’s real paper on this – and not Lerner’s fault if she opened a letter addressed to her with contents intended for someone else.

What she did with it afterwards, well……..

I’m assuming that we’re not talking .PDF files here, attached to mails, and that we’re really talking a hand delivered stamped envelope carried by the United States Postal service which was addressed to Lois Lerner, with contents for Charles Grassley….

Certainly the flow of e-mails in this link indicates the second go round, the correction of recipients, was done via .PDF.

If you read it, you’ll see the clarification and embarrassment from the sender.

One odd thing….can anyone fathom the end of the PS comment at the end of the correct sending exchange between ‘Dawn’ and Matthew?

Should we get the sense they don’t know each other, or didn’t prior to a phone call he made to clarify and correct?

“Still, it will be an easy commute?


The bureaucratic state

While the enemies of freedom certainly are made up of politicians who would limit or take away your freedom, probably the most insidious of those enemies is the bureaucrat. As we’ve seen for decades, politicians come and go, but bureaucracies run the day to day machine of government. And as we’re seeing right now with the IRS, they’re both unelected and unaccountable, despite the volume of the outrage.

But remember, on the political side of this, one of the goals of the current administration was to help us believe that “big government” was a good thing … much better for many things than the private markets out there. One of the goals of ObamaCare was to take a giant step toward fully government run, single payer health care. But we’ve been feeding you stories for years about how badly the UK’s NHS performs and we’ve also pointed out that theirs isn’t an “exception” to the rule. If there is a rule, it is the rule of bureaucracies which says they exist to expand and protect themselves and really don’t much care about the original mission, in terms of performance. However, they’ll do just about anything to protect themselves. As I pointed out yesterday, the IRS director has committed himself to one of the most improbable stories about the fate of Lois Lerner’s emails since Bill Clinton uttered his infamous “I didn’t have sex with that woman …”. Everyone in the room knew he had. Everyone. And everyone in the Congressional hearing, including the witness, knew that his excuse for the loss of those emails was bogus.

Back to the point about “big government” being the best way to go and the liberal wet dream of government run health care (single payer) becoming reality. If, in fact, we want the American version of the NHS, we simply need to look at the only government run health care system in the America – VA (yes, I realize the military also runs a “single payer” system, but it isn’t set up for long care, etc – it’s a necessity that goes with the job). And what do we find in VA? Well check this out and tell me it doesn’t remind you of some of the horror stories you’ve seen from NHS. As you’ll see, it could very well be the NHS. As you’ll also see, the fault lies where? With the uncaring bureaucracy that has grown up around this system and its abuses are now coming to light:

Two psychiatric patients at a veterans facility in Brockton received no regular evaluations of their condition for years, part of a “troubling pattern of deficient patient care” that federal investigators say they have confirmed at veterans health care facilities nationwide.

One of the neglected patients at the Brockton Community Living Center who had been admitted for “significant and chronic mental health issues” was living in the 106-bed facility for eight years before he received his first psychiatric evaluation, investigators reported.

The other unidentified patient, although he was classified as 100 percent mentally disabled due to his military service, had only a single “psychiatric note” placed in his medical file between 2005 and 2013.

Let me make a prediction – as they get more and more into this, they’ll find this is just the proverbial “tip of the iceberg”. Of course, making such a prediction is certainly no high-risk venture.  Just look around you and take a gander at how well Leviathan is doing on almost any front.  Let’s just say “poorly” would be a compliment.  Justice?  Trashed.  Political influence of agencies?  See IRS.  See the misnamed Justice Department.  Bureaucratic overreach – see EPA and others.  Criminal incompetence?  See VA.   Etc.

Americans are going to have to make a choice and they’re going to have to make it quickly.  The bureaucratic state or the state of freedom.  Some would argue that we’re at the tipping point.  Some argue we’re beyond it.  That we’re looking at our future and the future is all down hill as the bureaucratic state transitions from servant to master.  Unelected, unaccountable and, frankly, uncaring – except to further its existence.

~McQ

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