We often talk about how poorly we’re served by our political class. The examples are legion (just take a gander at the “Gang of 8′s” travesty of an immigration bill). But most puzzling about what they do is when there are real world examples of why what they propose is doomed to costly failure, they go ahead anyway. Hubris? Arrogance? Ideology? A giant dollop of all?
Take Obama’s latest – his late entry into the climate change nonsense just as everyone else has realized it’s a costly boondoggle and are pulling out. For example:
In May, Europe’s heads of state and government at the EU Summit promoted shale gas and reduced energy prices. They would rather promote competition than stop global warming.
Obama just returned from Northern Ireland at the G8 meeting where he evidently didn’t ask why the United Kingdom removed climate change from the agenda.
European carbon markets had collapsed with the price of carbon hitting record lows, wrecking the European Union’s trading scheme for industrial CO2 emissions.
British Gas owner Centrica was buying up shale gas drilling rights in Lancashire for fracking operations. Green investors faced bankruptcy as Spain cut subsidies even further.
Large German companies such as Siemens and Bosch abandoned the solar industry, which had lost them billions, while investments in failed solar companies, including Q-Cells and SolarWorld, destroyed 21 billion euros of capital.
In response, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told a June energy conference in Berlin to expect reduced government spending on energy like wind and solar power to keep Germany economically competitive. Europe’s clean energy economy had become a black hole eating euros.
Last week, Merkel’s government warned EU member states that German car makers would shut down production in their countries unless they support more affordable vehicle emissions rules.
At the same time, our oblivious president spoke at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, saying, “The United States will “do more,” before it’s “too late” to prevent “dangerous” global warming.
Yeah. We’ll do “more”. Meanwhile, everyone else has decided to do much less or … nothing. And that “more” Obama is talking about? Well, apparently it’s time to wreck another industry:
Myron Ebell, director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, told me, “The centerpiece of President Obama’s climate plan is a declaration of all-out war on coal. The only affordable way to reduce emissions from existing coal-fired power plants – which now provide 40 percent of the nation’s electricity – is to close them down.”
Obama’s plan has political implications as well, Ebell said. “Coal dominates the heartland states that tend to vote Republican. Major industries are located there because coal produces cheap electricity. If electric rates go up to California levels in the heartland, where will American manufacturing go?”
Good question, no? Answer: he doesn’t really care. Seriously. This is all about ideology. Blinders on, facts ignored, examples discarded, it’s about legacy and “saving the world from itself” even if he has to do so autocratically. Because, you know, that Constitution thingie just get’s in the way of good governance … or something.
And it has primarily happened under this administration as Bret Stephens outlines in his Wall Street Journal piece. The Snowden chase has been most instructive in how little influence American now has. When your naive foreign policy is to have other countries “like” you instead of understanding the respect is currency you should be dealing in (and also understanding how you earn that), then the results are predictable:
At this writing, Edward J. Snowden, the fugitive National Security Agency contractor indicted on espionage charges, is in Moscow, where Vladimir Putin’s spokesman insists his government is powerless to detain him. “We have nothing to do with this story,” says Dmitri Peskov. “I don’t approve or disapprove plane tickets.”
Funny how Mr. Putin always seems to discover his inner civil libertarian when it’s an opportunity to humiliate the United States. When the Russian government wants someone off Russian soil, it either removes him from it or puts him under it. Just ask investor Bill Browder, who was declared persona non grata when he tried to land in Moscow in November 2005. Or think of Mr. Browder’s lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, murdered by Russian prison officials four years later.
Mr. Snowden arrived in Moscow from Hong Kong, where local officials refused a U.S. arrest request, supposedly on grounds it “did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law.” That’s funny, too, since Mr. Snowden had been staying in a Chinese government safe house before Beijing gave the order to ignore the U.S. request and let him go.
“The Hong Kong government didn’t have much of a role,” Albert Ho, a Hong Kong legislator, told Reuters. “Its role was to receive instructions to not stop him at the airport.”
Oh … so those freedom loving countries couldn’t do anything? Both just ignored us. That’s right, because they knew what? There’d be no reprisal nor would they suffer any harm for ignoring us. In fact, today it was decided that ignoring the US would have no lasting or negative effect on US-Chinese relationships. In fact, China shot back:
China rebuked the United States on Tuesday for accusing it of facilitating the flight of fugitive U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden, and said suggestions that it had done so were “baseless and unacceptable”.
Oh, what the heck. We all know a toothless tiger when we see one and the US is perceived as such right now. Don’t believe it? Look at how well our new SecState “negotiated” our position in Afghanistan:
Merely to get the Taliban to the table for a bogus peace process, the administration agreed at Pakistan’s urging to let Mullah Omar come to the table on his owns terms: no acceptance of the Afghan Constitution, no cease-fire with international forces, not even a formal pledge to never again allow Afghanistan to become a haven for international terrorism. The U.S. also agreed, according to Pakistani sources, to allow the terrorist Haqqani network—whose exploits include the 2011 siege of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul—a seat at the table.
Yet having legitimized Haqqani and given the Taliban everything it wanted in exchange for nothing, the U.S. finds itself being dumped by its own client government in Kabul, which can always turn to Iran as a substitute patron. Incredible: no peace, no peace process, no ally, no leverage and no moral standing, all in a single stroke. John Kerry is off to quite a start.
Stunning. Not surprising, given the cast of characters, but stunning in its demonstration of the level of incompetence this administration demonstrates daily.
And Russia – they’re so unimpressed with this administration that they’ve redefined “reset” to mean they can pretty openly cheat on the 1987 missile accord and fear no consequences. That while the Taliban, after getting all they wanted from Kerry, then turned around and attacked the Afghan presidential palace in a brazen attack. Obviously they fear no meaningful consequences for that either.
Oh, yeah, they’re on top of it all aren’t they?
So sure, after doing such a great job in the areas mentioned, and don’t forget Libya and Egypt, by the way, this disastrous crew want to involve us in Syria?
You remember the grand promises a certain candidate made in 2008. And in the area of foreign policy he told us how huge a mess it was and how he was going to clean it up and how the world would love us again. He was going to “reset” relations with Russia and get us out of all these wars. Oh, and of course, solve the problems in the Middle East.
Yeah, that was then and this is reality:
The [Middle East] is unraveling and American policy is in deep disarray. Our strategic options are getting worse, and the stakes are getting higher. When former President Bill Clinton is warning that his successor risks looking “lame” or like a “wuss” or a “total fool,” it’s a safe bet that the Kremlin and Tehran aren’t impressed by White House statements. Meanwhile the Obama administration seems to be locked into a sterile, short-term policy approach driven by domestic considerations; it is following the path of least resistance to a place that in the end will please no one and is increasingly likely to lead to strategic disaster.
An insightful article by the Democratic-leaning Bloomberg columnist Jeffrey Goldberg offers a deeply unsettling view of a Syria foreign policy process gone off the rails. If Goldberg has the story right—and he usually does—Secretary Kerry and the bulk of the White House security team want the President to authorize a no-fly zone and other strong measures in Syria, in part because they fear that American dithering in Syria is empowering the hardliners in Tehran and that by avoiding a small war in Syria now the White House risks a much uglier confrontation with Iran not all that far in the future. But the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs wants nothing to do with it, pointing to the difficulties and costs of the military mission.
And rightfully so. It has also really “reset” relations with Russia … to the Cold War era. Well done, Mr. President. But that’s not the real problem is it? It is how we got in this mess in the first place: Amateur Hour at the White House:
As Goldberg tells it, the biggest problem for the administration is that its early aggressive, poorly judged rhetoric that Assad “must” go now makes it impossible to avoid Obama’s looking like an irresolute bluffer if the Butcher stays put. This is the conclusion, anyway, that both Russia and Iran will draw, and they will respond by pushing the US along other fronts as well.
This is an entirely self-created problem; there was absolutely no objective reason for the administration to lay those markers on the table. There was no requirement in America’s foreign policy that the administration bounce in with the categorical demand that Assad step down.
That is absolutely correct. But as is mentioned further on it was fighting for re-election and didn’t what there to be a wimp factor. As usual, politics trumped what was best for the nation.
So in every real way, this administration has lived up to few if any of it’s grand promises of 2008. In fact, if truth be told, the honeymoon is over with Europe. The proof, as they say, is in the turnout:
When John F. Kennedy delivered his “Ich Bin Ein Berliner” speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate on June 26, 1963, 450,000 people flocked to hear him. Fifty years later a far more subdued invitation-only crowd of 4,500 showed up to hear Barack Obama speak at the same location in Berlin. As The National Journal noted, “he didn’t come away with much, winning just a smattering of applause from a crowd that was one-hundredth the size of JFK’s,” and far smaller than the 200,000 boisterous Germans who had listened to his 2008 address as a presidential candidate.
As for the Middle East … well there’s no love lost there either. This administration has fumbled everything to do with the region during it’s tenure and has no one to blame but themselves. They’ve totally and without any help, managed to bottom out our image in the area in the same way they’ve bottomed out the economy. If this guy isn’t the worst president with the worst team we’ve ever had inflicted on us … twice … then I don’t know who might be. And don’t even get me started on the “leadership” in Congress – from both parties. They’re absolutely the worst yet. That may come as small consolation to the administration, but the combination of the two is killing us.
A growing number of Americans believe that senior White House officials ordered the Internal Revenue Service to target conservative political groups, according to a new national poll.
And a CNN/ORC International survey released Tuesday morning also indicates that a majority of the public says the controversy, which involves increased IRS scrutiny of tea party and other conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, is very important to the nation.
Look, Obama’s legacy is important to Democrats because it may mean victory or defeat for the next Democratic presidential candidate. And like it or not, a scandal plagued 2nd term isn’t going to help his legacy or the Democrat’s next chosen presidential candidate. In fact, one of the reasons Obama is in the White House now is the successful negative portrayal of the Bush years by the left and the press.
In the case of Obama, the press and done it’s best to dampen the reach of the scandals, but it is, for once, failing in it’s endeavor. The scandals are too wide ranging and hit too close to home to fears the citizenry has held concerning government’s abuse of power. And make no mistake, these scandals are all about abusing power.
Last month only 37% of the public thought that the IRS controversy led to the White House, with 55% saying that agency officials acted on their own without direct orders from Washington. Now the number who say the White House directed that IRS program has increased 10 points, to 47%, virtually the same as the 49% who believe the IRS agents acted on their own.
“Younger Americans are much less likely than older Americans to believe in White House involvement, and there is, not surprisingly, a partisan divide as well,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “But the Obama administration may be losing independents on this matter. In May, only 36% felt the White House ordered the IRS to target conservative groups; now that number has crossed the 50% threshold.”
Of course naive youngsters who really haven’t been around for or paid attention to scandals of the past, certainly might want to believe their idol, Barack Obama, is involved in this. But you can see as well as I can, as more and more info comes out, that minds are changing. This is a serious shot at the Obama legacy. Or at least that’s what 51% of Americans are saying:
Fifty-one percent of those questioned said the IRS controversy is a very important issue to the nation, compared to 55% who felt that way in May. In the past week and a half, the IRS story has been put a bit on the backburner, as the controversy over the federal government’s massive surveillance program has dominated the spotlight.
Ironic, no? The 4% drop I mean. It has dropped as a “very important issue to the nation” because another scandal has popped up.
So what’s the Obama playbook say you do when it goes from bad to worse?
Hello Syria ….
Our local Noble Peace Prize winner has put himself in quite a quandary, hasn’t he? He’s decided that since he thinks Syria has used chemical weapons, it is our business to intrude on what is essentially a civil war, and give arms to an opposition whose makeup includes Islamic terrorist groups. Because, you know, some “bright line” has been crossed … or we think has been crossed, and according to R2P (apparently) we have to “P” or something (I guess the horrific numbers of death just weren’t enough to invoke that until chemical weapons, huh?).
Of course an obvious possibility in this case, since the Syrian government thinks that it is being punished for the use of chemical weapons, is they’ll now say “screw it” and use them liberally. I mean, why wouldn’t they? Even if they haven’t used them, there’s no “up” side anymore for them not using them now is there? World condemnation? We’ll we’re in the middle of manufacturing that right now, aren’t we?
Meanwhile you might remember that we “reset” relations with Russia because that darn Bush administration had screwed them up so royally.
Russia, a veto-wielding member of the U.N. Security Council, will not permit no-fly zones to be imposed over Syria, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said on Monday.
“I think we fundamentally will not allow this scenario,” Lukashevich told a news briefing, adding that calls for a no-fly zone showed disrespect for international law.
Oh. Wait. Didn’t they tell us if a Republican was elected we’d see relations with Russia head back toward the Cold War era (btw, what Russia is alluding to is hurrying the deployment of the advanced S-300 missile system if we persist in this nonsense)?
Syria is a “no-win” situation for us if we intervene. Most of the intel I read says the opposition is riddled with Islamic extremists and Islamic extremist groups. Is it wise to arm such people? Well, a sane person would say “no”. A sane person would also stay the heck out of interfering in Syria.
But there are scandals to be dampened and distractions to be made. Because, you know, the Chosen One’s rep is much more important that a sane foreign policy or the lives of our military members.
Why? Because it isn’t really better. Oh, it may be marginally better than it was a year ago but that’s not saying much at all. In terms of real progress? Yeah, not so much. The National Journal says:
The U.S. jobs picture is bleaker than the most recent jobs reports may make you think. The economy added 175,000 jobs last month, but at the rate things are going, it would take almost a decade to get back to prerecession employment levels. A Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey report released Tuesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics digs in on the bad news: The number of job openings in the U.S. actually fell by 118,000 in April to 3.8 million.
How bad can 3.8 million job openings be? The Economic Policy Institute looks at the number and sees that “the main problem in the labor market is a broad-based lack of demand for workers—and not, as is often claimed, available workers lacking the skills needed for the sectors with job openings.”
Here’s a chart they put together to visually make the point:
An economy on the mend is generating jobs at such a pace that it is competing for workers. As is obvious, that’s not the case in this economy, nor has it been the case for quite some time.
In a word, the employment picture sucks. Anyone pretending otherwise is doing exactly that – pretending. And they can toss around all the numbers they like, the bar charts above tell the real picture – business is not hiring and the reasons are multiple, most having to do with government intrusion (see ObamaCare for one example).
That’s the conclusion Insty comes too in his USA Today column:
The NSA spying scandal goes deep, and the Obama administration’s only upside is that the furor over its poking into Americans’ private business on a wholesale basis will distract people from the furor over the use of the IRS and other federal agencies to target political enemies — and even donors to Republican causes — and the furor over the Benghazi screwup and subsequent lies (scapegoated filmmaker Nakoula is still in jail), the furor over the “Fast And Furious” gunrunning scandal that left literally scores of Mexicans dead, the scandal over the DOJ’s poking into phone records of journalists (and their parents), HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ shakedown of companies she regulates for “donations” to pay for ObamaCare implementation that Congress has refused to fund, the Pigford scandal where the Treasury Department’s “Judgment Fund” appears to have been raided for political purposes — well, it’s getting to where you need a scorecard to keep up.
But, in fact, there’s a common theme in all of these scandals: Abuse of power. And, what’s more, that abuse-of-power theme is what makes the NSA snooping story bigger than it otherwise would be. It all comes down to trust.
Anyone who, in fact, trusts government these days is simply not paying attention or is a part of it. As Reynolds outlines above, each and every one of the scandals mentioned do, in some degree or another, involve an abuse of power. And an abuse of power is always an abuse of trust. This administration has been just about as abusive of both power and trust as any in our history.
What should bother you is they don’t seem to care. To me that points to a culture that has come to accept the fact – at least in their world – that government is all powerful and can do no real wrong. It’s “for the people”, after all, that they commit these abuses. It is also in the name of “security” – that all-purpose reason to grind away at the freedoms we enjoy and put us under more and more government control.
One of those old dead white men who helped found this country saw the possibility of the latter long ago. In fact, he’d seen it in his lifetime and had done all in his power to escape it and to build a system that wouldn’t tolerate the types of abuses of power we do today:
“The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home.” – James Madison
Bottom line, we’re saddled with an arrogant and abusive, totally out of control goverment that badly needs reigning in. The problem – we need statesmen who can do that. And we all know where we are in that particular case. Without, that’s where. We’re stuck with self-serving politicians.
By the way, are we really any safer since the draconian security measures have been implemented?
Anonymous government sources quoted in news reports say yes, but we know that all that snooping didn’t catch the Tsarnaev brothers before they bombed the Boston Marathon — even though they made extensive use of email and the Internet, and even though Russian security officials had warned us that they were a threat. The snooping didn’t catch Major Nidal Hasan before he perpetrated the Fort Hood Massacre, though he should have been spotted easily enough. It didn’t, apparently, warn us of the Benghazi attacks — though perhaps it explains how administration flacks were able to find and scapegoat a YouTube filmmaker so quickly . But in terms of keeping us safe, the snooping doesn’t look so great.
And it remains “snooping” regardless whether it great or not.
Is this the the type of country in which we really want to live? Where we’re afraid of our own shadow and our government to boot?
A columnist at the Washington Post (via Insty) looks at the Rosen case, and finds some problems with the logic at the Justice Department.
The essential question is the definition of criminal conduct. It’s against federal law for authorities to “search a newsroom for the purpose of obtaining work product or documentary materials relating to a criminal investigation.” This presumably applies to reporters’ emails as well.
The law makes an exception if a reporter is suspected of criminal behavior. That’s why Rosen was named a co-conspirator – that’s the only way the Justice Department could get a judge to go along with their fishing expedition. In the Post column, the columnist Erik Wemple says:
It [the Justice Department] told a judge that Rosen may well have committed a violation of the Espionage Act as it pursued its e-mail search warrant.
But it turns out that the Justice Department apparently has no tangible evidence of any criminal behavior by Rosen. They’ve already said they have no intention of prosecuting him.
David Schultz, a lawyer for the AP it it’s own Justice Department scandal, spots the contradiction in that:
”They’ve done the expedient thing that allows them to get what they want without giving the press an opportunity to object,” says Schulz. “If they did not believe Rosen was committing a crime, they shouldn’t have been invoking that part of the PPA. Either they were really accusing him of a crime or they weren’t. I mean, you can’t have it both ways.”
Clearly, Mr. Schultz does not understand post-modern reasoning. For today’s leftists, there are no contradictions when someone is defending the left. That’s because they merely change definitions as necessary to eliminate the contradiction.
Look at their recent attempted re-definition of the word “scandal”. If you ask a typical English speaker what a scandal is, they’ll describe a situation where a person or organization got caught doing something they were not supposed to do – often illegal, usually unethical, and typically embarrassing. The IRS targeting of conservative groups, the Benghazi debacle and subsequent cover-up, and the Justice Department abuses of the AP and Fox News obviously fit that definition.
To the left, though, the word “scandal” means whatever they need it to mean to further the leftist cause. So they have taken up the mantra that these things are not “real scandals”, with the implication that they are not scandals at all. They want to own the terminology in every discussion, and bend it to whatever suits their present argument. That’s why I’ve stopped arguing with them. By the fundamentals of their own philosophy, it’s impossible for them to lose an argument because the objective standards of logic, reason, and reality don’t apply to them. To them, the only thing left is “narrative”, and they reserve the right to hold onto their own narrative no matter how obviously nonsensical it might be.
The narrative rules all for a post-modernist because it’s fundamental to post-modernism that words have no objective meaning. Just as there is no objective reality to them, there is no objective meaning either. A word means whatever a leftist can convince the present listener that it means, and the leftist reserves the right to redefine the word for another listener tomorrow if that helps promote tomorrow’s narrative.
The problem is that a legal system depends upon reliable meaning of words. If words can be redefined to suit the whims of someone in power, then no one can ever know whether they are obeying a law or not.
The Obama administration is so steeped in post-modern leftism that they don’t get this, or don’t care. So we see Holder’s Justice Department adapting the word “co-conspirator” and claiming criminal behavior to justify it, all out of pure expedience. They needed to accuse Rosen of being a co-conspirator to get what they wanted, so they simply told a judge that he was one. Hey, it’s just a word! It has no objective meaning, so we can redefine it to mean whatever we want!
As always, when they do that, they don’t think they’ve done anything wrong. They feel no shame or remorse over it. They get legitimately confused when a contradiction is pointed out, because in their world-view, there is no contradiction.
To a leftist, “co-conspirator” can mean one thing when leftists are in power, and something quite different when they are not. If Bush/Ashcroft had done exactly what they did, the very same people in the Justice Department who named Rosen a co-conspirator would be howling about it 24/7. They would be hectoring anyone who would listen that a journalist with no evidence of criminal behavior can’t possibly be named a ‘”co-conspirator”, and probably beating the drum for impeachment for anyone involved. But since they’re the ones doing it, the reaction among the left has been muted and mostly apathetic.
It is obvious to we Enlightenment types that it’s not possible to have a functioning legal system for a free society based on expedient re-definition of the terms used in laws. That’s why the Right has been opposing this folderol all the way back to FDR’s flouting of clear Constitutional language. It’s clear to anyone who understands plain English that a person growing wheat in their backyard for their own use has no relationship to “interstate commerce” as anyone before 1930 understood it. But it was expedient to simply pretend the term meant something else, to rationalize giving the government more power.
So this problem isn’t new. The difference today is that it used to be rare. Now it’s business as usual. Clinton’s defense against everything questionable that he ever did depended on re-defining words such as “sex” and “is”. Holder’s Justice Department clearly thinks they can simply dictate what words like “co-conspirator” mean.
A legal system allowing such re-definition to suit those in power is built on sand, awaiting the first strong shake to liquefy and bring it down.
I mean really, did you honestly believe that a couple of rogue agents in Cincinnati did this on their own … for over two years? Yeah, about as much as you believed the YouTube video caused Benghazi, huh?
Additional scrutiny of conservative organizations’ activities by the IRS did not solely originate in the agency’s Cincinnati office, with requests for information coming from other offices and often bearing the signatures of higher-ups at the agency, according to attorneys representing some of the targeted groups. At least one letter requesting information about one of the groups bears the signature of Lois Lerner, the suspended director of the IRS Exempt Organizations department in Washington.
Lois Lerner … the IRS official who “knows nothing” and refuses to talk about any of it?
Among the letters were several that bore return IRS addresses other than Cincinnati, including “Department of the Treasury / Internal Revenue Service / Washington, D.C.,” and the signatures of IRS officials higher up the chain. Two letters with “Department of the Treasury / Internal Revenue Service / Washington, D.C.” letterhead were signed by “Tax Law Specialist(s)” from Exempt Organizations Technical Group 1 and Technical Group 2. Lerner’s signature, which appeared to be a stamp rather than an actual signature, appeared on a letter requesting additional information from the Ohio Liberty Council Corp.
Imagine that. We have an administration full of “Sgt. Shultz’s” (see Hogan’s Heroes if you’re too young to know what that references). They see nothing. They know nothing.
But apparently, they’ll sign anything.