Free Markets, Free People
The Washington Times, one of the few media outlets covering this story, tells us:
The Obama administration sought to intimidate witnesses into not testifying to Congress on Tuesday about whether ATF knowingly allowed weapons, including assault rifles, to be “walked” into Mexico, the chairman of a House committee investigating the program said in an interview Monday.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell E. Issa, California Republican, said at least two scheduled witnesses expected to be asked about a controversial weapons investigation known as “Fast and Furious”received warning letters from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to limit their testimony.
Good grief … I can only imagine the reaction of the NY Times and Washington Post if this had been a mere 4 years ago. But I state the obvious. Intimidating witnesses? Is this the “hope and change” we were all promised?
Revelations like that have caused this story to stink so badly, that even a reluctant media is finally beginning to turn their attention to the hearings.
Here’s CBS with a piece about the controversy and what one of the scheduled witnesses today will be telling the committee:
In advance of a hearing later today, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released a report containing new testimony and allegations in the ATF gunwalker case. According to the report, Carlos Canino, Acting ATF Attache in Mexico, calls the strategy his agency employed: "The perfect storm of idiocy."
"We armed the [Sinaloa] cartel," Canino told investigators. "It is disgusting." Canino will be a key witness at the hearing.
But it’s not just the Sinaloa cartel. Documents obtained by Congressional investigators show weapons – sold under ATF’s watch in Operation Fast and Furious out of the Phoenix office – have been used by at least three Mexican drug cartels: Sinaloa, El Teo and La Familia.
In other words, Congressional investigators say the very agency charged with preventing weapons from falling into the hands of violent cartels south of the border … instead facilitated it.
Doh! You can read the report at the link in the cite. Issa also had some strong words for AG Eric Holder:
“How is it that the No. 2, 3, 4 at Justice all knew about this program, but the No. 1 didn’t?,” Mr. Issa said. “Is it because he said ‘don’t tell me’? Is it because they knew what they were doing is wrong, and they were protecting their boss? Or is it that Eric Holder is just so disconnected … ?
“Whichever it is — he knew and he’s lied to Congress, or he didn’t know, and he’s so detached that he wasn’t doing his job — that really probably is for the administration to make a decision on, sooner not later,” Mr. Issa said.
Just another case of how ill-served we are with this clown as our chief law enforcement officer. He’s either a liar or clueless. Great choices, no? Hopefully this story will gain enough visibility that we’ll see Obama come out and tell the White House press corps that he has “full faith” in Eric and is “behind him 100%”. That of course means that within a week or two Holder would announce he was resigning from the AG’s office to “spend more time with my family”.
Frankly, we’d be better off with the office vacant than with this bunch in there.
Obama is prone to liken himself to Ronald Reagan at times (and Abe Lincoln at others). If you remember the Reagan/Carter race, the question in the title is a paraphrase of the question Reagan rhetorically ask of voters during the campaign. Obama is definitely on the wrong side of that Reagan question. You can expect a resurrection of that question (if the GOP has any sense at all) in the 2012 election.
The answer to the question manifests itself in a recent poll and it is not very encouraging for the incumbent president. An NBC/Washington Post poll just released gives the latest “atmospherics”:
Despite those hundreds of billions of blown stimulus dollars and almost as many upturn promises from Joe Biden, 82% of Americans still say their job market is struggling. Ninety percent rate the economy negatively, including half who give it the worst rating of "poor."
A slim 15% claim to be "getting ahead financially," half what it was in 2006. Fully 27% say they’re falling behind financially. That’s up 6 points since February.
A significant majority (54%) says they’ve been forced to change their lifestyle significantly as a result of the economic times — and 60% of them are angry, up from 44%.
So, you say, doesn’t it depend on who voters blame as to who this poll negatively effects? Well, yes, of course. And here’s an indicator of who that might be:
Strong support among liberal Democrats for Obama’s jobs record has plummeted 22 points from 53% down below a third. African Americans who believe the president’s measures helped the economy have plunged from 77% to barely half.
I’m sure you’re all familiar with the fact that independents have been deserting Obama for quite some time. We just had a Pew poll that said many whites that previously supported him have left him. And it gets worse for Obama:
Obama’s overall job approval on the economy has slid below 40% for the first time, with 57% disapproving. And strong disapprovers outnumber approvers by better than two-to-one.
That prompted Bernie Sanders, Socialist – Vermont, to exclaim the other day:
"I think it would be a good idea if President Obama faced some primary opposition."
He’s not the first to float that heretical idea either. And that sort of talk is a sure sign of crumbling support within one’s political base. When even the “homers” aren’t happy (and the reason really doesn’t matter) then you can be assured most of the rest of the voters aren’t happy either. Obama is trying desperately to run to the center and all he’s really accomplishing by that run is to lose base support. It doesn’t appear the big middle is warming to his attempts to woo them as support for him in all areas continues to drop.
Standard disclaimer applies – in political terms it is still light years to November 2012. That said, these are trends we’re talking about here. They’ve been developing over quite some time. Looking into the future, and given the economic reports we’re seeing, it’s hard to see how this all improves enough for Obama to offset the high negativity that is building right now.
And despite continued efforts to push this off on Bush, this is now considered to be Obama’s economy, whether he likes it or not. The excuse was good for a year or so as many were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on that. However, now it’s considered whining. Obama ran for the job, got it and is now expected to perform up to the standards or expectations he established in his campaign. On all fronts, he’s falling woefully short and most people have no patience for the continued attempts to pass his failure off on someone else.
So …. are you better off than you were in January, 2009?
Very few Americans find themselves able to answer “yes”, at least at this point.
I tend to agree with Charles Krauthammer’s immediate reaction after Obama’s speech last night:
Krauthammer astutely picked up on Obama’s use of the poll tested word “balanced” and it’s appeal to the middle. Unless you haven’t been following these negotiations at all, it might have had some effect. But his explanation or how he defined “balanced” is pretty political. First his claim is you can only define balanced one way – his way. Secondly, you can only achieve balance one way – again, his way. Of course neither is true. However, assuming you buy into his “my way or the highway” definition, he then tells you why the Republicans – the only group who have actually offered and voted on a plan ironically called “cut, cap and balance” – are working for the corporate jet owners (anyone tired of that line yet?).
Obama specifically calls for “compromise” yet then tells us he won’t accept a short term increase in the debt ceiling. He calls it “kicking the can down the road”. What it would actually mean is kicking this can into next year – an election year. So he obviously doesn’t feel inclined to “compromise” on what would obviously hurt him politically.
What I’d have also like to have heard is why Obama voted against a debt ceiling increase when he had a chance and now that Republicans are against it it’s the wrong thing to do. Some have said that he ought to have admitted he was wrong and the GOP is wrong now. I’m sorry, but I don’t think he was wrong then and I do think he’s wrong now.
Moving on, here’s a bit of misdirection in the Obama speech:
We all want a government that lives within its means, but there are still things we need to pay for as a country -– things like new roads and bridges; weather satellites and food inspection; services to veterans and medical research.
But? But that’s not what we’re talking about is it? This is the usual political spin – talk about what the public will lose that the politician is sure the public finds valuable – at a local level it is usually firefighters, police and teachers. Never talk about reducing bureaucracy, or the costly and wasteful redundancy, inefficiency or pure bloat found in government. Nope, pretend it takes government of this size to inspect food. And pretend only government has any hand in “medical research” and without that we’re all going to be left to die from preventable conditions.
And of course, the “compromise” being sought, the “balance” desired is really aimed at the ideological agenda item Democrats have been attempting for years – tax the rich:
And keep in mind that under a balanced approach, the 98 percent of Americans who make under $250,000 would see no tax increases at all. None. In fact, I want to extend the payroll tax cut for working families. What we’re talking about under a balanced approach is asking Americans whose incomes have gone up the most over the last decade – millionaires and billionaires – to share in the sacrifice everyone else has to make.
I won’t bore you again with the percentage the “rich” contribute now as their ‘share’ contributes to the profligacy that Obama would like to extend. But they already carry the lion’s share of the income tax burden. Obama want’s more because he claims they can afford it. Here’s a newsflash for the politicians – you don’t get to decide who can afford what, instead you need to find a way to live within the means provided by the present revenue stream, not claim you should have more. Obviously giving politicians “more” always ends up in the same place – “more” debt.
“Balance” has nothing to do with the approach, it has to do with the result. And that should include massive spending cuts. If any “sacrifice” is to be made, it should be made by government, not the people. Even Obama admits that there is only one class of citizen responsible for this mess:
Because neither party is blameless for the decisions that led to this problem, both parties have a responsibility to solve it.
That’s right. The only totally true statement in the entire speech. Note it wasn’t the “corporate jet owners” who got us in this condition, it was the politicians. So the only "sacrifice” I see necessary is politicians sacrificing their spending, not the public. It’s time both parties realize the spending spree is over. At least one of them seems to have gotten that message. They’re actually offering solutions that concentrate in the necessary area – spending cuts.
This is a problem of and by politicians. It’s fairly simple to understand – they’ve used their powers to ignore spending limits and now they’ve found themselves in deep, deep trouble. One side’s solution is to cut back on the spending and balance future spending to revenue and paying down the horrendous debt they’ve piled up. The other’s solution is to continue to try to put a claim on the earnings of others so they don’t have to cut as much and, frankly, can continue to spend on programs we can’t afford. Obama has been very clear on this saying on at least two occasions that savings in defense spending could be spent on other programs – such as food stamps.
Compromise? The reason we’re in this position now is we’ve compromised for decades and run up a debt that is now threatening our very well-being. This hasn’t been done by the “rich”. It hasn’t been done by the “corporate jet owners”. It hasn’t been done by anyone but compromising politicians eager to use their power to spend to buy votes.
While we may survive this particular crisis, the problem remains systemic and only promises repeats unless someone or some party actually takes a stand, says “enough” and actually enacts enforceable laws which won’t allow this to happen again.
“Balance” and “compromise” are two poll tested words that Obama is sure will appeal to the big middle and, he hopes, will sway them to his class warfare agenda and tax increases which will enable Obama to push this past his re-election attempt in 2012. He is the consummate can kicker – he just wants to kick the can further down the road than does the GOP (who also has political motives behind their “short term debt limit increase” plan).
Bottom line – stipulated there are all sorts of politics being played here, but … the GOP needs to stand firm on its principle that this crisis isn’t a problem created by too little revenue, but instead one created by profligate spending, none more profligate than that in which this particular administration has engaged. Therefore, the solution – the balanced solution – is to reduce spending (and that includes debt service) to revenue levels, not the other way around.
That’s the only “compromise” I’m interested in seeing.